Monday, January 15, 2018

Jan 15 – Inversion Therapy

Daily Report

Lesson: Flying Exercise is a Metaphor
After twenty-five years of any chronic illness, you are ready to try anything toward bettering, or at minimum, stabilizing your health.  Years ago, I read of a woman who worked in her garden. And as she picked weeds, she imagined one more part of her illness was being plucked.  This may have been from a Louise Hay's book, I can't remember. It was one of the gentle nudges that pointed me to Metaphysics and Metaphors. That should be a title of one of keynote presentations.  (To other health coaches, I have dibs on that title). 

Over the years, I have extended my experiences past traditional medicine, chiropractors and homeopathies, and meditation to acupuncture, reiki, zone tapping, yoga, and pilates.  Today I started a series in inversion therapy. Some call it anti-gravity therapy. Why not? Another mindful practice, that focuses on my breathing, body placement, flexibility, and strength.

I believe my Kansas City Pilates 1901 studio has adopted the workouts invented by Christopher Harrison.  Harrison was a former gymnast and Broadway choreographer. According to several quotes, the “exercises [were] inspired by yoga, Pilates, calisthenics and aerial acrobatics in a hammock-like apparatus, in order to achieve a total-body workout.”

Today I learned to get into and out of the hammock,  and a few basic positions, like tulip, honeysuckle, pouch, and… I can’t remember I was too busy getting my hand, hiney, arms and legs in place while still trying to breathe.  I loved it.

My biggest issue was, the training was at 9:30AM.  I don’t usually leave the house before 10AM, due to the time it takes to diurese, and start breathing, but except for a bit of ascites that kept my abdomen bulging, I was able to do all the exercises. I came home with energy, and the first thing Hubby said to me, is "You look good.  Your skin looks great." Hmmm…is it already working? 

I don’t think Cirque du Soleil perfomers will have any competition from me.  I was imagining this:

But, our secret, ok?  I never got further than 6 inches off the floor.  It was more like this. 

But that was the first day, and I was able to breathe through it.  And it was fun! I'll let you know when I begin to fly.  

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Note: All photos featured are from unknown studios. If you can identify them, let me know, and I will add the links. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Jan - 14 Spoons of Energy

Daily Report
Lesson: For the Chronically Ill 

Do You Feel Up To It?
When you're healthy you seemingly have an unlimited number of energy spoons. When you live with a chronic illness daily spoons of energy are limited. For me on good days I might be able to expend 15-20 spoons of energy.  But living with lupus anticoagulation, also known as antiphospholipid antibody syndrome or Hughes Syndrome, blood clots in my right atrium caused permanent scarring, COPD, pulmonary embolism and pulmonary hypertension and an enlarged or should I say compromised heart. I still have a quality life, and I manage to fit all of it in, just not all on the same day or same week. 

Plan your day and know your limits.

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jan 13 - Gracias Curandera - The Healer

This is a classic about a Curandera

In 2005, a trip to Mexico helped me get correctly diagnosed with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, also referred to as lupus anticoagulation or Hughes Syndrome.  This illness had already changed the course of my career and daily life. After suffering since before 1993, the Mexican doctors returned me to the USA with their diagnosis, which was found to be accurate and confirmed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  Here is just one unedited chapter that discusses "the turning point" of my undiagnosed illness. I have posted other excerpts and will continue to do so.  

If you are keeping track, to date, I have written over 5100 words. Keep in mind at this point, it is unedited.  

In 2005 I received professional development monies from the community college I was working at,  and I was approved to do an intensive two-week study program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. By this time, my corporate motto of “I can sleep when I’m dead” had been replaced with “I can be sick "there" (fill in the blank), as well as here.” Mother agreed.  She did not believe God was only in Kansas City, so where I was he would travel along and keep me from all “hurt, harm, and danger” and would watch over me. Plus, as a faith healer, my job was to pray, anoint myself when away from the elders, and keep living my life.  So there was no resistance from Mother or Hubby.  Hubby knew I was not the victim kind and I wanted to live, until I died.  Yes, that was another one of my frequent sayings.  So although I was going through one of my worse breathing cycles and I was extremely uncomfortable with a bloated abdomen, that later I learned it was ascities, I packed a couple pairs of sandals and elastic skirts and tent-like sundresses and landed in Mexico City.  By the time I arrived, I could barely walk through customs.  My legs were swelling. The airport express but to to the hotel was excruciating, but I had lots of tip money.  I tipped the airport red cap, the taxi driver, the hotel valet and the room delivery.  I settled on soup! 

I did not sleep that night. I soaked in the bathtub most the night.  I was gasping for air, I could not get in a comfortable position.  Even my thighs were swelling.  After a night of weighing all my options, I decided it was jet lag. This shortness of had breath began in 1993.  The periodic abdominal swelling had been a issue so long, I forgot when it began. This too would subside, I told my husband that evening. It was the worse episode I’ve ever had. For one brief moment that night I had considered returning to Kansas City for the elders to pray or even perhaps medical attention, but after long deliberation, I decided I would continue to Cuernavaca as planned.  Mexico has doctors too. 

Early the following morning, I took the hotel shuttle bus back to the airport, and waddled to the Cuernavaca transport bus. The ascities made me look pregnant, and I was okay with that, as everyone treats pregnant women with kindness. I set in the front passenger seat, because a kind man gave up his seat after witnessing my struggle to climb the few bus steps. My ankles throbbed from the swelling. I meditated and prayed. I did breathing exercises.  And about 45 minutes into the trip, I was interrupted.  A woman who had been several seats behind me, had curiously found her way to the front. Had she been summoned?

I flinched when I felt gnarly fingers touching my forehead. Without asking she laid her warm hands on me. One on top of my head, the other on my forehead.  It was my first experience with a curandera. At the community college, my students were required to read Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya in my Latin American Literature class. I had read on the topic of curanderas when I studied Latin American Humanities and Literature.  I was quite familiar with both true practices and myths of the curandera. I shut my eyes and soaked in the warmth of her hands.

My weathered grandma-ish curandera still holding my head  and forehead muttered inaudible words for seemingly 2 minutes.  I kept my eyes shut and prayed. I heard her ask for one of her many bags. It could have been from pure exhaustion or perhaps instinct that gave me the will to kept my eyes shut as she took her hand off my forehead. While she still held the top of my head, she sprayed my face. I had read once where a curandera sprayed the infirm with urine.  Was that a fiction or nonfiction book? No smell. I surmised it was just purifying water. I did not care. I had read enough books to know what was going on. As I leaned against the window, she lifted my legs and swung them to be raised on my carry-on bag that she had placed in the aisle seat next to me.. She spoke to me in a soft tone. I only responded in one word.“Gracias.” Somehow she knew I was not pregnant.  She knew I was scared.  I was grateful.  She took the aisle seat across from me.  It had miraculously become vacant.  She muttered prayers for me all the way to Cuernevaca, periodically laying her hands on me. I fell asleep. Gracias. 

Another Excerpt: Jan 8 - It's Not Easy Living with Diseases and Stuff.

Kathleen Brandt, Keynote Speaker
Women, Health, and  Entrepreneurs

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jan 11 - Worth It? Professional Membership Fees

Daily Report
Lesson: Make "Them" Accountable 

I belong to several industry specific professional organizations. My fingers are in a lot of pots.  I’m on the board of four, and am active in two. They all, have one thing in common. They are acutely and comfortably aware that their members do not read the minutes. 

The two board positions I deem unworthy, I made the commitment, so I’ll continue to execute my committee work as assigned even though I do not see the value promised to their paying members, their fees are bloated and in both cases, they are poor stewards of membership dues and it’s acceptable to behave unprofessionally. It’s all that I teach NOT to do in board meetings. One association saddens me! There’s so much hope and opportunities waiting. Yet, the board appears to be rather morally bankrupt. To be fair, it’s possible they really are so myopic they can’t visualize options.

When board term is over, however, I will be quickly exiting. Sometimes change can be made from working outside the circle of “that’s how we’ve always done it.” That’s an indelible culture to penetrate. So I’m calling on members to invoke change. Get the value promised from your memberships.  That’s not to say that 50% of the professional organizations are poorly managed, but my goal is to encourage all to evaluate their annual membership dues. Give the professional organization or professional association a grade.  Do it annually!

As I mentioned most members do not read the minutes. They have no idea how the board members are voting on issues that affect the members and the future of the organization. If members read the posted minutes, and looked at the financial ledgers of many of the professional organizations they would be appalled.  Where’s the benefit to the member?  Some of these not-for profit organizations spend well over 50% of the money on the board members. Sure you get a newsletter, maybe even a professional journal, and if you are lucky, training worth talking about with others in your field.  But, are you actually taking advantage of the training offerings or even reading the newsletters or journals? If not why are you a member?

I’m not judging, I am on one board, just because I thought they were going to make a positive change for their members.  That’s what they promised.  But it is clear that change is not what they want. There’s a lot of ink wasted on writing their forsaken ideas on paper, but I haven’t seen a step toward that effort.  They seem to be happy with both their oversight and under-achievements. 

You are probably wondering why I am a member.  The same reason most of us join associations.  It looks good on a proposal, on a resume, and if they have a Christmas party, you can attend.  People take us seriously if you say “I’m a member of…” But, where some organizations actually contribute to your success, increase your networking opportunities, have mentoring and coaching programs, and training that isn’t freely offered on the internet, others are just dead weight to our budgets and time-suckers to our busy lives (especially if you are on a committee or a member of a voting board). 

It’s time to evaluate your professional associations and professional organizations.  Are you wasting your money?  Or maybe, just maybe, you can be “that” voice that invokes change from within.  Consider running for an office or position.  The experience is invaluable, and the view from the board table is revealing. If only walls could talk.
Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jan 10 - The Mindful Alien in the Room

Related image
A Guide to Mindfulness At Work
I'm still trying to get a grip on the use of the word "mindful." It's everywhere.  How can it be so invasive, so universal, and on every page you turn?" It's like a troll? When you aren't expecting it, it rears it ugly head. Be mindful! Mindfulness in the work place! mindfulness on social media!When did mindfulness practices get here? And, where did they come from?  Right when I think I have it in a box all neatly packaged with it's parameters and practices contained, there's another mindful troll that pops up.  The Mindful Social Networking triggered this rant!

Every year I start the last two weeks of December planning and the first two weeks of January networking. It works for me.  It sets the tone of the upcoming year. These weeks are filled with lunches, happy hours, planning meetings, ordering office supplies, and sending out proposals.  I do more meditating and mindful practices, and I take lots of classes.  These classes help me stay abreast of social media, for developing new skills, and honing in on self-improvement. I give myself a C or C- on active mindfulness practices.

Did I mention I'm in two intensive French classes? That was a 2017 goal, and I began in September.  In spite of six or more hours of homework a week, I'm really enjoying rekindling my first love - foreign languages. And mindfulness in my studies is probably a B/B-.  Maybe because passion is included.

Perhaps mindfulness in 2018 will be my new replacement for "resolutions."  The word resolutions ring false to me, especially since these activities are Career and Life Practices.  Dare I say "Mindful Career and Life Practices?" That wording does make it so much more inviting and inclusive.  I will keep trying to incorporate and welcome mindfulness to my vocabulary and daily practices. But right now it's still an alien concept. I give my self a C- on overall acceptance.

P.S. Oh, I was picked up by a print/TV commercial talent agency.  I'll keep you abreast. 

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Jan 9 - Brickwall Buster

Daily Report
Lesson: Is It Really a Brickwall? It Looks Flimsy
Lack of planning or poorly built structures do not create brickwalls.  Brickwalls are solid structures, with reliable foundations that are practically impossible to penetrate, ascend, or avoid.  What we mostly have are inconveniences. There’s a solution. We might not like our options, but that’s not a brickwall. It sucks, but it’s not a brickwall.

This past year, I attended a few executive coaching meetings.  I seem to be invited often to these monthly events. These events are intriguing.  One was for small business CEO’s that have a payroll of about $2million and sales of over $10 million, the other was for sales under $5million and up. Enrollment fees, should I wish to join, would be between $1000 to up to $7000 plus.  I’m not interested in joining or doing peer coaching for free. I do it for a living.  But, one day I was invited to a meeting and as usual I attended a peer coaching meeting.  It was an American company who was being purchased by a Japanese company. There were cultural differences, disgruntled angry employees who were on the American transition team who did not want to cooperate.  There was one accountant who refused to share his books, and the CEO who thought his job was to keep peace. Really a seven figure peace maker.

The perceived brickwall to the CEO was that the deal was not yet finalized, and it was months off schedule.  But I pointed out that wasn’t his brickwall.  The brickwall, were the hard choices.  No one had an incentive to cooperate.  The Japanese company could keep making interest on their money with no hard deadlines, and no penalties.  Who did this deal? The employees, who have been living in this community were not going out without a fight, this was a generational company for most of them.  Grandma and Grandpa had even worked there. And everyone was running on fear of losing their jobs. A real fear. The peacemaker could not be the guy in the middle.

“Who is your liason to the Japanese company? I asked”  “Me” he proudly announced. “Who is leading the transitional team?” “Me,” he repeated boldly.  “Who is meeting with workers and giving updates?” Once again the answer was “Me!”

There was no way, this CEO could see pass the wall that held him and his employees on the inside and the Japanese on the outside.  Where was the door? And why were they all crammed in that one walled space?  Plus, if you are working internationally, you really need to understand the culture. Deadlines can be expectedly very fluid.

When you discuss brickwalls with small business and corporate 500’s alike, you get the same “but…” responses.  There’s never a shortage on “but” answers. I know I’m wearing them down when it changes from “but you don’t understand” to “I understand, but.”  Most are stuck in their myopic view.  Yet, it’s the big picture, the long view that will get you to the correct solution.  And rarely can we get there alone. 

I became known as the Brickwall Buster! 

The five roles of a Brickwall Expert?  The person who can do the following
  1. Assess the situation – The Scout
  2. Analyze the solution for optimal results - The Prospector
  3. Plan a successful strategy to conquer the problem at hand – The Visionary
  4. Put all the players in place – The Project Manager
  5. And implement the plan – The Coach 
It doesn’t matter the size of your dream - sole proprietor, budding entrepreneur, small business, corporate or in a state of personal transition, you must be able to see past the wall you’ve built, and be willing to tear it down, in order to reach your goal. 

Truly, it’s sometimes just making hard choices, because most walls in front of us are pretty flimsy.

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Monday, January 8, 2018

Jan 8 - It’s Not Easy Living with Diseases and Stuff.

Daily Report
Lesson: Why I Joined Weight Watchers in 2000

I suffer from many ailments and discomforts, all caused by an autoimmune disease – Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, also called Lupus Anticoagulation or Hughes Syndrome. I fight for a quality of life.  There are somethings we have to live with, but there are still steps we can take to make our lives better. Here’s an excerpt from my unedited book. 

Unlike most, the Ebony Fashion Fair, of 1999 was a changing moment for me.  Mother and I entered the Music Hall venue with 1000 or more of our best dressed friends, outfitted to impress, or perhaps compete against the rather tall, slender fashion models.  At the door, I was pulled aside, and the ticket handler noted my name and commented on my outfit.  I thought nothing of it. 

Mother suggested it was because I was dressed differently than the other attendees.  I had reached under my bed, and pulled out the one African dress garb that I had.  It was like a one dish casserole.  It was a tent over my distended belly and growing body, and it came with its own headdress for my bad hair day, which were becoming more frequent. Remind you, many attendees were clothed in their best St. John’s suits, or Sunday hatted suited that I have yet to figure out where people buy those brightly colored outfits.  I’ve never seen them on the racks of Nordstrom or at my favorite Kansas City store, Halls.  But I decided this was a great chance to wear this African dress for the second time.  The first being at my godchild’s baptism in Washington D. C.  It was an African baptism and theme, and I had purchased this inexpensive outfit at the River Market in KC. 

My dress and the matching headdress was stunning and full of gold, and maroon.  I carried a fan in my hand.  It was necessary, functional, and not part of the outfit, but a comfort for hot-flashes which were God’s way, I was convinced, of reminding me that I was unworthy of a life of comfort. 

Seated during the last act before intermission, I pulled out the fan.  I was hot and miserable from sitting and watching people march around half naked in outfits that I would never buy, when a woman slid up to the aisle and beckoned for me to follow her.  I glanced to mother, but it was one of her best friends, Mrs. Helen Boswell, that gave me a nod as to say, follow her.  Mrs. Boswell was an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister.  It was this group that was sponsoring the Ebony Fashion Fair.  I got up and followed the woman who escorted me to a back room.  There was a panel of judges that asked me a few questions, and made me walk, turn around, and walk some more.  If you’ve ever been to the Ebony Fashion Fair, this scene might be familiar to you.  But somewhere in the fashion show they habitually highlighted regular shaped people from the audience to model their fashion. I was chosen to model my $65.00 outfit on stage in front of the crowd.  I was embarrassed and miserable. 

The others who were chosen were hams.  I was shy and unsure of myself, knowing that at any time I would break out in a sweat.  And actually, the hot - flash that began when I got on stage, did not end until I strolled offstage.  So I modeled my African garb while nervously fanning myself and praying for a quick exit.  I did not enjoy my fifteen “seconds” of fame.  But, I did join weight watchers the next day.  First meeting was Jan 2, 2000. Just because I was sick, was no excuse for me to be ashamed of my weight.

Take charge of the small things and seize the moment. It wasn't an easy 9 months to get to my goal weight, but I reached it, and have maintained for seventeen years. One of the best gifts I ever gave myself. 

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series