health

My niece, Cassie Franklin is starting a wonderful life, after coming out of a bad marriage. She has two beautiful children, and now she has found a partner, William Burr, with whom she is very happy. Life has not always been easy for Cassie, especially with the loss of her mom, Rachel Schulenberg coming up on 2 years ago now, the extra work of raising a child with Down Syndrome, complicated with the ex-husband and all of his issues, Cassie had her hands very full. Enter William Burr. These days, I see a whole new Cassie. She is happy, relaxed, and while her plate is still very busy with her children, Lucas and Zoey, she is not alone in this journey anymore.

Cassie is a woman of many talents in her own right. She is a great photographer and owner of Iverson Photos, and I have very much enjoyed viewing her work over the years. Cassie has been a member of our family since her late mom married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg on June 12, 2010. She posts all kinds of photographs, but my favorites are the landscapes. I love the outdoors, and so naturally, the pictures of the outdoors are of the most interest to me. I also love the pictures of her children. When you live a little way away from the little ones, it’s always nice to get to watch them grow up, even if it is in pictures.

Cassie has a second business called Nature and Sun Natural Products. Cassie is all about healthy natural products, including candles, body products, and foods. She is very resourceful, and very devoted to a healthy lifestyle for herself and her children. She is a naturalist in every way. She doesn’t want the vaccinations…for herself or her children. She is careful about what they eat, a habit that most likely started with all of the health issues that Lucas has had. Lucas is a healthy boy because of the fight his mom has waged to make sure he stays that way. While Zoey doesn’t have the same health issues, Cassie is unwilling to take any chances with her health either. I think that sometimes having a health scare with your child, necessarily makes you as much a health expert as any doctor, and that is what Cassie strives to become. Her children are very blessed to have her for their mom. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg loves riding her bicycle. She made some health changes in her life following a hospital stay on October 18, 2013. Her health scare prompted Brenda to make difficult decisions about her lifestyle. She is not alone in finding herself in that position, because many of us have been in the same place. It’s a daunting situation to find oneself in, and when you do find yourself there, you have no other choice but to begin at the beginning. Most of us who have been overweight, have been there more than once, and each time it’s harder to start again, but you just have to do it.

Brenda felt that same way…overwhelmed. But she took a deep breath and started at the beginning. Eventually, she achieved one of her biggest personal goals…to ride a bicycle. As a young girl, Brenda was not able to ride a bicycle for very long, because she was too heavy. Her knees would simply not bend enough to comfortable work the bicycle. She always felt like she missed out on a lot.

Once she got her weight down enough to get on a bicycle again, she bought a beautiful purple (her favorite color) bicycle, and took the pedals off, because she still couldn’t make them work, but she could walk the bicycle…called stridering. It wasn’t exactly riding, but it was close, and it got her on the bicycle…her ultimate goal. Now, Brenda has put 9000 miles on that old purple bicycle, so she decided to take it up a notch. She bought a new bicycle this year. The one problem Brenda still had on the old purple bicycle was that the hills were still difficult. Her knees still don’t bend like she would really like, and that makes going uphill difficult. The new bicycle has a small motor on it that kicks in to assist with the hills. The rider still has to pedal the bicycle too. It’s not a scooter or moped. It is a real bicycle, but with a “hill assist” attached. I know that this new venture is going to be a good one for Brenda, and I think it will take her exercise to the next level. Continuing to exercise and do the things necessary to stay healthy is vital to Brenda’s life. We want her to be around for a long, long time. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s Aunt Pearl Hein is one of the sweetest people you could ever possibly know. I will never forget the first time I met Pearl. I was a newcomer to the family, not yet married to my husband, and so everything felt awkward, until Pearl stepped in to make me feet a lot more at ease. Of course, I was comfortable with my in-laws to be, but the other people were all unknowns to me, and that can make a shy person like me feel like crawling into a hole to hide. Then, we went to Pearl’s house, and I felt instantly comfortable. Of course, these days, I am comfortable with all of the Hein family. I have been a part of the family for over 44 years now, so I know the whole family. They are all a great bunch of people, and I enjoy spending time with all of them. Nevertheless, it was Pearl’s welcoming ways that opened the door to make me feel comfortable.

Like me, Pearl married into the family, and so she knows how it feels to be the newcomer. Still, I think that her personality is just a kind and welcoming one. She likes to make sure that everyone has anything they need, be it water, food, or good conversation. That’s what makes Pearl’s home a place that people want to visit, and a favorite place for us when we are in Forsyth, Montana, where my husband’s family is from. We used to go there every year, but haven’t gone as often in recent years, still Forsyth, the Hein family, and Schulenberg family are very dear to my heart. I couldn’t ask for a better family to join.

Pearl worked for a number of years at the IGA in Forsyth, and they considered her to be their most valuable employee. When Uncle Eddie’s health grew poor, she had to retire to take care of him. I’m sure those were scary days at the IGA, because there were things that she was the only one who knew how to do them. Knowing Pearl, like I do, I know she hated leaving them that way, but her husband was more important than any job, and he needed her. Uncle Eddie is doing much better these days, and so they have more time to relax and do the things they like to do. That makes me feel happy for them. Today is Pearl’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg became quite ill a number of years ago, and finally had to face the fact that her weight was slowly killing her. I suppose some people might think that statement is harsh, but they don’t know my sister-in-law. Those were fighting words for her, or at least a call to action. When she found out that her weight had caused sleep apnea and congestive heart failure, she decided that she was not going to let her weight win. From that day forward, the world would see a new Brenda…a determined Brenda.

The road was long, and filled with hard work. Brenda doggedly walked in the cold early morning hours, rain or shine, and even in snow. She bought a bicycle, and fought hard to master that skill again, even with knees that had to be retrained to bent enough to work the pedals. In fact, when she started, Brenda had to take the pedals off and strider the bike (basically run while seated on a bicycle). It was work, but she wanted to ride a bicycle again, and determination goes a long way toward success. These days Brenda can be found riding her bicycle most days at some point in the day. She loves the Platte River Trail, and often rides its entire length.

Not only has Brenda continued to follow her own health and fitness plan, but she has chosen to mentor others. She has made several trips to attend meetings in other towns to talk to their weight loss groups, even if they are not on Weight Watchers, like she is. She has put her name out there as someone who will buddy up with people who are struggling to lose weight to see if she can be on any encouragement or assistance. She is willing to go out and walk with them or ride bicycles with them too. She is so adamant about health, that she doesn’t want anyone to struggle with their health. I guess that since she has been on the unhealthy side of life, and the healthy side of life, and has chosen the healthy side of life, she wants others to be able to experience just how great it feels to be healthy…and she wants to help them to achieve their own health and fitness goals that have seemed so impossible to them. It is a noble calling. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

After losing his brother and his dad before he was nine years of age, my Uncle Jim Richards stepped up as a man in his family. Young as he was, he took on the role of a man, letting his family know that he would always be there for them. And so he was. Over the years, when one or the other of his family members needed help, Uncle Jim kept that promise…he was there for them. He took care of his mother, and helped with my grandparents, who were the parents of his wife, my Aunt Dixie. He helped several of his siblings and got them back on solid ground again. He proved himself to be a responsible man of the house…long after he was grown. He kept that promise to his dad, that his dad didn’t even have to ask of him. Uncle Jim did it because he wanted to show respect and honor to his dad, and because of his great love for his family.

After his marriage to my Aunt Dixie, and the arrival of their three children, Jim, Jeannie, and Raylynn…Uncle Jim set about building close family ties with his kids. His gentle ways and hard work made their home a place the family always wanted to be. Uncle Jim worked hard at his job, but when he came home…it was family time, and nothing else mattered. His kids always knew that their Dad was going to be there for them. As the kids grew up and got married, the grandchildren began to arrive. Uncle Jim was a man for whom family was the most important thing in life, and that showed with in the love he and Aunt Dixie had for their grandchildren. After his retirement, he joined Aunt Dixie, who already babysat the grandchildren, chauffeured them to and from school, and delivered an occasional payment or two to the proper places, while their children worked. His kids didn’t worry about things, because they know that their dad and mom are there for them. The grandchildren are safe and cared for, even when their parents are at work. That gives a parent a wonderful sense of peace concerning their kids, and not every parent has the option to have hands on grandparents.

Through thick and thin, sickness and health, richer and poorer, and all things in between, the Richards family has been able to count on Uncle Jim…especially in the worst of times, like the premature passing of a grandson, Jonah Williams; and now, a son-in-law, Darryl Liegman. Uncle Jim is a quiet man, but he has a strength that the family leans on in times of sorrow and need, and he is there for them. When he saw the need to help others at such a young age, he took the call seriously. He was there for every part of his family, for all the years of his life, and his loving kindness seems to radiate from him. Anyone who is around him can see it and they can feel it. Uncle Jim is just that way. His motto is: I’ll be there for you. And he has never let them down. Today is Uncle Jim’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

BR on May 7, 2013It isn’t very often that a person can decide one day to change their entire life…and then stick to it. Even if the change was made to save their life. Humans aren’t usually a strong willed bunch. Nevertheless, when someone makes up their mind that they want to live and that they want to live life to the fullest, it can be done. My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg is an amazing example of such will power. When she first started this journey, she didn’t think she could do it, but now she won’t quit.

When Brenda was told that she had Cellulitis, Congestive Heart Failure, and Sleep Apnea, she didn’t sit down and cry about it, saying that her life was over, so she might just as well, give up. No, she decided that she was going to take back her life, and move forward. Her journey has been an amazing one, and it was all done is a very April 29, 2014 to April 29, 2015short time. From October 18, 2013 when she first went to the hospital to the current time, Brenda has lost over 300 pounds. She is within a pound or two of her goal weight, and then will begin weight maintenance.

Much has changed in Brenda’s life. I don’t think that she ever dreamed that she would spend so much time hiking…or that she would love to go hiking. There are several of us in the family who love to hike, and I have to wonder if Brenda used to think we were all crazy. Well, welcome to the nut house Brenda. Now, I’m sure there are people in your life who think you are just a little bit crazy too. In all reality though, hiking is so fun and relaxing. Once you get started on it, it is really hard to think about not going.

On the Platte River TrailOf course, Brenda still works full time, but her job is a little bit easier to do these days. Trying to work when you spend your entire life exhausted is no fun, but now that Brenda has lots of energy, the only time she is very tired is at bedtime, and that is normal. That in itself is a huge change, since Brenda spent most of her weekends sleeping in an effort to feel rested. It still wasn’t enough sleep. No more!! Now, Brenda is an inspiration to those around her…either that…or they just find her exhausting. It doesn’t matter which it is, because Brenda isn’t going back. She loves her new life, and all the activity in it. She loves hiking, and being outdoors, and will go even in the rain. It’s a “have raincoat, will hike” situation. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Another year better!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

William Spencer shortly before his deathMy great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer I, was a hard working man, who had a lot of stress in his life. It is my understanding that he was a stern man, which was probably common for the times, but my guess is that he was a Type A personality. These days, we know that high stress and a Type A personality are sure fire ways to an early grave. I can’t say that my great grandfather died what would be considered an early death in 1922, but these days, it certainly would be considered young. He was 64 years old, when he dropped dead of a heart attack right after hauling a bunch of logs up to a fence so they could be used for repairs around the farm.

On first glance at the picture of him with his cows, I saw a strong man taking care of his animals. But this picture was taken just a short time before Great Grandpa’s death. How could a man look so strong one day, William Malrose Spencer Iand be dead of a heart attack just a short time later. Upon closer examination, I noticed that he was smoking a pipe. I suppose that his smoking could have contributed to a heart attack…especially when added to his Type A personality and high stress lifestyle. So many things that can contribute to an early death, were virtually unknown to people just a few years ago.

These days, while we don’t always pay attention to the experts on health issues, we are told what things can be detrimental to our health. Quite possibly, if my great grandfather had known what things he was doing that were likely to lead to a heart attack, he would have lived his life a little differently. These days too, we know about things like CPR, aspirin, blood thinners, and heart medications. Any one of those things could have prolonged his life…even after the heart attack. Unfortunately, none of these things was available…or at least not in the current forms that we have these days. So when the heart attack happened, Great Grandpa was simply gone in the blink of an eye. It is entirely possible that when the attack happened, he was alone, and that nothing could have been done when he was discovered, but just as many people in those days have had their heart stop and no one knew what to do, so they died even though there were people with them. While mouth to mouth resuscitation was first introduced in 1740 to save a drowning victim, CPR was not developed Right in this Spotuntil 1960. Before that, if there was no heartbeat, it was all over.

It seems so sad to me that people back then died when there was often a simple way to resuscitate them and save their life. People simply didn’t know it. Those techniques had not come about yet. I’m sure that when people learned of those things later, they felt a twinge of sadness over the loss of a loved one who might have been saved has they lived in a different day and age. I know that as new technology comes about now, I feel sad for those who could have been helped by it, but there is nothing that can be done now. It was how things were in that time.

Thanksgiving DinnerToday, I give thanks to God for all of the wonderful family and friends he has blessed me with. What would life be without all of the wonderful people in my life. This day is not about the turkey and stuffing, or the days off from work, but about all the ways God has blessed and enriched my life. The blessings He has bestowed on me are too numerous to list here, but be assured that they are to the level of overflowing. My extended family has grown exponentially this year, and that has been a blessing beyond words. To all my cousins, the new ones we have found, and those who we have known all along…you are a greater blessing than you will ever know…I love you all.

I am especially thankful that all of my family members are healthy again, and those who haven’t been are getting better and better every day. Being in good health is vital to life, and so I give thanks to God for good health for me and all my loved ones.

I thank God that in a time of recession, all of my family members have jobs. We don’t think too much about jobs, until the economy goes bad, and then that is a very important part of our thoughts, but God has protected our jobs, and blessed us all financially.

On this wonderful holiday, it is my hope that all of my friends and family are as blessed as my family and I have been. Praise God for all His goodness, grace, and mercy in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Low Hanging Gray CloudsFlocks of GeeseFor a number of years now, Bob and I have been walking the Mickelson Trail that runs from Edgemont, South Dakota to Deadwood, South Dakota. It is 109 miles long, and when we are done, we will actually walk the trail more that two times from one end to the other. I say more than twice, because there are some areas we have walked several times. We did not start at one end and work our way to the other end, but rather we started in the middle, and then realized how much we liked the trail, so we made the decision to keep track of where we had walked and work toward walking the entire trail. It has taken us a long time, because we only come to the Black Hills once a year on the average year.

This year, however, we decided to make a second trip. The lower section of the trail has areas of fewer trees, and is a little warmer climate, so it is very hot to walk in the full heat of summer. We decided that the long Columbus Day weekend would be perfect for three days of hiking…and on a normal year, it probably would have been. However, this was not a normal year. It was not a total loss, but we did get rained out today, which was disappointing. The six mile hike we had planned for today will have to be added on to the rest of the lower section, leaving us with 18.5 miles to the south and 10 miles to the north. Two hundred and eighteen miles at an average of six to eleven miles a day completed one week in the summer really takes a while. Still, it is with a sense of accomplishment that we mark of each new section on our map. While the Mickleson Trail is not a difficult trail, when it is taken in nine to eleven mile chunks, it take a toll on your body for sure, at least for that day. In the long run, it is one of the best things you can do for your body…low impact, hard work…yep great exercise, for sure.

While our last day of hiking was cancelled, the other two days were wonderful. The first day, we were treated to flock after flock of geese flying over on their way south. It was an amazing sight to see, and the air was filled with their calls back and forth, as they happily headed to their southern home for the winter. The second day brought deer into my Mule DeerWhite Tail Deercamera view…both white tail and mule deer, which was a bit surprising in that we have not seen mule deer in the Black Hills before…of course, we are on the southern section of the trail, so it could be just that this area has them. The weather those first two days was just perfect for our hikes. We had to wear our jackets, it was not really cold. Our extra time in the Black Hills this year was wonderful…and it has inspired us to do this again next year.

Couples have a way of showing their true feelings of love for each other with their eyes. When couples have been married for a long time, there just seems to be a look, or even a tilt of the head that shows the deepness of their feelings for each other. They know each other better than anyone else in the entire world possibly could. They have been down the road together, through good and bad times, through sickness and health, through happy and sad, through arguments and solidarity…they have been there. They know how their spouse will react to different situations. They know they can count on that person being with them until death they do part. Their love has withstood the test of time, and come out victorious. It is a place every young couple hopes to arrive at someday, but many don’t. So when you see a little old couple still holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, it is impossible not to be affected by it.

Sometimes, you can find a young couple who has that same look of love. No, that isn’t a guarantee of lasting love, but sometimes, you just know they will beat the odds. They will become that little old couple holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes…you just know they will. They have that look of, “My life was so empty, before you came into it.” or “My love for you is so strong that I can’t begin to express it in words.” It is a look that goes beyond physical attraction and into the realm of two hearts/one person…soul mates. It is a look that warms your heart, and touches you deeply. It’s a look that, while we love to catch it on film, almost makes you feel like you are intruding on a moment that should have only been between the two people involved, and yet it’s a look you want to see, because it shows just how much they love each other.

That look of love is something we all long to receive. We pray for our children to receive it someday. We are thrilled by it when we see it in our parents and grandparents. Love is the hope of the future and the promise of the past. Love is something that no one can live without…not really. We need love in our lives, and so when we see couples expressing it with their eyes, we walk away with that feeling of everything is right in the world, no matter how messed up things in this world are, my parents, my children, my nieces and nephews, my grandparents love each other. Yes, everything is right…at least in my world.

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