Create your balance. Design your life.

Looking Back to Learn and Move Forward

By Mo Breden One week into the New Year 2015 and I find myself continuing to assess my choices and options for this New Year. 2014 had some heartbreaking moments for me personally, but it also had some joyous and celebratory moments. I worked hard for the celebratory moments and the heartbreakers crashed into me like a tsunami. I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions. You are either going to change and develop better habits or you are not, and the beginning of a New Year isn’t going to make any difference in your chances of success. Life is like the ocean that I love so much. There are tides, and currents and sometimes things flow smoothly and with great ease. Other times, huge waves push and pull you away from your goal and you have to fight hard just to stay in place and not get lost. So very much like life, isn’t it? As each year passes, I realize, I really have learned a lot during my time in the ocean, and each swim teaches me more lessons to help me find my way, just like my life. I love to swim…love is an essential key. I believe the sea loves me too. So when I dive into the water, I feel that I am being welcomed home, again and again. In my life I’ve learned that loving my family and friends is key to my life. I am so grateful for the love I’ve been able to give and the love and acceptance I’ve received. Some days I swim, some days I stay onshore so that others may swim. Giving, so that others may know the same joy I have known is another life lesson, learned in the ocean. Giving of myself for others comfort or joy is key to my life. It really is true that it is better to give than to receive; it’s something to think about and remember in this New Year. I work hard when I swim, but I also have fun. Some days it’s more of a struggle then others, but then there are the days when a pelican flies right over my head,...

Christmas Trees, Past, Present and Future

By Mo Breden When I was a little girl, and throughout my childhood, my father would go out on Christmas Eve, after dark and buy the tree, it was the best bargain, but not always the best selection of trees. He always bought a tree that was full, but the trees were always too tall and wound up taking up half the living room. The smell was, Christmas. We would hang our stockings and go to bed. My parents (crazy as they were) would tell us that Santa was coming to decorate the tree and bring us presents. So from about ten o’clock on Christmas Eve, till God knows when, my mother wrapped presents, filled stockings and decorated the tree. I’m sure my father helped some with those jobs, but not much. On Christmas morning, when we came down the stairs, it was pure and simple CHRISTMAS MAGIC!! Stockings, which were limp, were now plump with treasures, the tree was decorated with lights and tinsel and ornaments and sometimes shaving cream, yes shaving cream. It was messy, but when it’s on the branches for a few hours it puffs up like fresh fallen snow, trust me it was beautiful to a child’s eyes. Since there were four children in my family the mounds of presents under the tree were enough to take your breath away. Never mind that some of the presents were things like a bar of soap and a washcloth, under the tree it looked as good as gold. My childhood Christmas trees will live with me till the end of my time and will always make me smile and yearn for those warm days at home with my family.   One year when I was an adult with children of my own an individual, who shall remain nameless, but who I no longer speak to, very quizzically asked me, “So what’s the THEME of your tree”. She proceeded to tell me that I should have a theme, whether it is red, or teddy bears, I don’t remember much else of that conversation and it’s not important. My Christmas tree as an adult has always been about my life. In my first...

Giving Thanks From This Day Forth

By Mo Breden Today is Thanksgiving, and we all have our own reflections on what the day means to us and to those things and people for whom we give thanks. I want to shift the focus just slightly to center your thoughts on today and every day from this day forward. In order to do that we go back to Robert Herrick in the 17th Century, who wrote a poem, To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time. Don’t know it? Oh yes you do. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to-day. To-morrow will be dying. This, the first line of the poem, was introduced to popular culture in the movie, Dead Poets Society. In the movie Robin Williams encouraged his students with Carpe Diem, Seize the Day. I will include the entire poem at the end of my blog post for your contemplation. I came face to face with, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, when they changed my mother to a new room in the nursing home where she now lives. It hangs in the form of a beautiful tapestry on her roommate’s side of the room. I contemplate it every time I visit my mother. My mom communicates less and less as time passes, so I have had more and more time to contemplate, and reflect on the phrase. Nursing homes are full of flowers, that one day smiled and now, well, are dying. It’s not a happy subject, but it is a reality and the braver we are in facing it, the better we are as completely formed human beings. And so, to gather ye rosebuds, we must live fully in this moment, fully in the day that is laid out before us. I believe each day is a gift, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, it truly is. For me, being fully aware of myself, engaged in those around me, and actively participating in the life of the day, is gathering rosebuds. There are no do-overs, this day is here for 24 hours and then it’s gone, if we bog ourselves down with bad habits, addictions,...

Swimming Is My Passion. What’s Yours?

Swimming Is My Passion. What’s Yours?

Nov 13, 2014

By Mo Breden Life with Mo took a pretty amazing turn this month. I have written previously about my swim life. On the 5th of November, I celebrated two years as a Master Swimmer. On the 7th of November, I achieved a personal swim goal for 2014 of swimming 500 miles. And finally, on the 9th of November I completed my first marathon swim, of 8 miles. Swimming from Clearwater to Tampa, Florida along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, becoming the oldest female to do this. Some of these accomplishments I shared with others, and some were between me and myself until this moment. The significance of reaching these goals is something I’d like to talk to you about today. First, nobody accomplishes anything worthwhile without the help of others. For the entire summer, I swam at least twice a week in open water, with someone I consider to be a world-class athlete. My training partner pushed me to my absolute limits every time we swam. We swam in some crazy conditions with waves lifting us way up and crashing us way down, we had a few “moments” of disagreement, but the thing I remember most is her laughing through the worst of what the open water threw at us. She made it fun. My training partner has a tough exterior, but she was the first to meet me at the waters edge at the completion of the 8 miles. She was choking back tears as we hugged, knowing we had done it, together. My lane mates, all of you that have ever shared the pool with me, you all gave me something. Watching you improve helped me to improve. Your support and encouragement over the past two years has been priceless. We all have had our ups and our downs, but in the end, we showed up to practice, and we pushed hard every night. Some of you were also there waiting for my 8 mile finish, and I will carry your warm hugs and congratulations with me always. This year I had two coaches. My YMCA Masters Coach took me from not being able to swim with my face in the water, to...

Be A Leader In Your Life: The Trouble With Food

Be A Leader In Your Life: The Trouble With Food

Nov 3, 2014

By Elaine S. Is it the food or us that is the problem? When I was young drinking a soda meant consuming 7 oz of the sugary liquid. Today a kid size soda at McDonald’s is 12 ounces and if you super size your order you’ll get a 42 oz sugar hit. Hamburgers were 3.9 oz and now they are 12 oz big. French fires were 3.9 oz and now you swallow 6.7 oz of the yummy grease and sugar-laden potato. Think about it, eating a triple cheeseburger with super sized French fries would have gotten stares of disbelief when we were young. It would have been a ridiculous thing to do. Not now, why? When did we lose control of logical behavior and even become defensive about it? When did huge portions and high fructose sugar become normal? To be honest it’s not that my parents would never let me eat junk food for dinner or breakfast. For the most part, they didn’t really think about what was in the food we ate. But that was then and this is now. Now children eat sugar all day long. It’s in almost everything and most of it is simply a chemical pretending to be sugar. Here is the scary part. We let it happen. Ironically we believe we are in control of our life, our environment, and the decisions we make everyday. And those in control of the food industry smile and are very content to listen to folks screaming about their rights to make their own decisions and consume that supersized soda and fries. The master plan continues to work for those really in charge. They are making money and smiling all the way to the bank. But this is not an article about those few men that control how our food is grown, processed, and cleverly packaged. They are making money while pesticides are poisoning us and we unknowingly are becoming addicted to sugar. Our bodies yearn for nutrients that have been stripped from our agriculture and replaced with chemicals. We are really in trouble. The point is that you are the answer. Only you can make a difference in your life. You...

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