Monday, April 9, 2018

The Lost Earring

 In my youth, I read a book about a girl (about my age at the time) who lost a penny - or a coin. It was a form of a mystery for nine year olds.  The details of the book escape me. I can't remember if she lost the penny/coin by dropping it on the street, in a hole, or in her coat pocket.  But she was desperate to find that blasted penny.  My impression now is that she was poor, but this girl has evolved, manifested and impressed herself in my mind's-eye every time I lose anything.  If memory serves me - which I can't say it does- I remember she dropped a second (maybe even a third penny) in the same spot to see if these pennies could find the first.  Of course she kept losing pennies which was devastating (that's probably why I thought she was poor).  Anyway, she  methodically worked out a plan where one penny would find the other(s).  There was a line towards the end of the book where she proclaims something on the line of "of course the penny will always find the other penny (pennies)."  Or it might have been "only a penny can find the other penny."  Who knows.  I looked an hour tonight to find the title of that book.  If you remember it, please share. 

That takes me to my topic: My Lost Earring.  
Here it is in a nutshell.  Friday, I went to French Class, stopped to eat (a rather high caloric lunch only beaten by the amount of its fat gram), and then home.  I know I had both earrings on at lunch.  At home I changed to a warm sweater and swapped shoes from heels to flat Clark's because ....well the weather in Kansas City and the fact that my dog was not going to allow me to rest without his afternooon walk.  Guess he has learned, that if I let grass (or dog hair) grow around my feet, I would not go back out.  It's April freezing here.  Yes APRIL. 

Ok...back to my story.  Leash on, with heaviest gloves to match my red coat (the warmest I own), the victorious mutt and I set out for a walk around a long block.  (I have to say that, so you don't think I'm lazy.  It really is a half mile and it really takes us FOREVER, even in the artic windchill of freakin' April). The mutt refuses to be hurried due to my discomforts.

Sniff, sniff - hike a leg, hike a leg - pull the leash Chewey and I were halfway through the walk before I had a major decision to make.  People with babies in ski suits (looked like it to me) were blocking the east sidewalk, chatting like it was a spring day, and a bulldog had just "apparated" on the top of the hill on the west side.  Not good.  Chewey is still in behavioral training for ugly greetings towards the likeness of both of these subjects.  Not babies.  He loves babies. But, the tall man on the sidewalk, and the bulldog, that was going to take a mastermind to maneuver.  I crossed from the east to the west side of the street and walked up about four houses. Chewey with a keen eye on the tall man with the baby, didn't see the onward coming bulldog still safely 8 houses away with his master.  I then, crossed back to the east side of the street before reaching the POD that was parked on the street.  Yeah, where I live, there are POD's parked on the street.  To be fair it is due to a storm damaged garage from EIGHT MONTHS AGO!  Ok...KC weather, they may be still waiting for spring to rebuild the garage. Heck, I'm waiting for spring to arrive before attacking my to do list.

So...I get to the east side of the street without a lunging circus on the leash, bulldog, hidden by the POD, was out of sight, and we walked home without incident.  FAST FORWARD. 

Where's the Other

Time to go bed -  hair, face, teeth, pj's...where's my earring? The beautiful set Hubby bought me last year for my birthday. One was in my ear lobe as it should've been, but the other ear was 'decorate-less'.  Tired, as usual, I went to bed totally believing it was somewhere in the house.  Saturday night, after a day of looking around, shaking clothes, lifting things on my desk, checking my coat (more than once) and retracing my steps from room to room - everywhere I had talked on a phone, I was convinced the earring was lost. UGH!

But the the worst scenario here is I'd have to pay the designer to make a matching one. But who has money for that????  Woke up on Sunday, 8 April and it was snowing, slushing and doing it's KC thing to ruin another weekend, so I lounged around, took a shower, and put on clean pj's.  I didn't leave the house.  Most people didn't.  

Our block excitement was the old catatonic man on the neighbor's porch who we had to call the police and ambulance on twice in less than twelve hours.  He was still looking for his wife.  He would freeze in place mimicking a mannequin, and stand in one spot for 30 to 60 minutes. All the neighbors were calling each other and describing the scene, but no one wanted to call the police. Hubby called the police in hopes the live mannequin didn't actually freeze. Thanks to Hubby the man was picked up both times without incident. And we are all praying the city was able to help him kindly. 

Lost Earring on Friday.  Now It's Monday

Monday comes, and I'm determined to find that earring.  I must have lost it when I walked Chewey on Friday. (Have I mentioned I'm a licensed private investigator. Seriously!). My childhood book came to mind, I got dressed (at the crack of noon), leashed up the rambunctious mutt, and kept my eyes peeled to the ground as I retraced my steps of three days before.  I made it to the bottom of our hill, before I began to question my own sanity.  Maybe the old man had been outside my house casting a spell of insanity on all that lived within.  I crossed from the east sidewalk to the west just at the right spot. 

How do I know it was the right spot, you ask? Because I went up about four house, totally convinced by now that I had "lost my marbles" (let's just say I think they existed at one time for the purpose of losing).  Before crossing back to the eastside, as I had done on Friday, I looked down. Right at my left foot, laid neatly, my beautiful purple stone (no really it isn't an amethyst, but beautiful none the less) earring.  Right there. Perfect shape.  No damage.  Did I mentioned I had put the other earring in my pocket?  If I learned anything from the girl in the book: "one will find the other." 

Thanks for the bad April weather Mother Nature.  You did me a favor by keeping people by their fireplaces in April, vs enjoying a spring like weekend of dogs, babies and strollers. 

The End....True Story. 

Kathleen Brandt

Monday, March 5, 2018

Breathing, Moving, Inhaling

Image result for copd breathing test
Staying in Breathing Shape
I'm a professional genealogist.  For genealogists' Salt Lake City visits are a must. But at over 4000 feet above sea level, for those with compromised health, Salt lake City require advanced health preparations (AHP).  With the same rigor that my friends prepare for marathons, triathlons, or their active survivor-style trips, I prepare for anything over 2000 feet above sea level. (Really 200 feet above seal level, but I fear you will think I am exaggerating. I'm not)!

Cities nestled in high altitudes have major impacts on my already compromised health. What are my compromised health issues, you ask?  Well there are only really four:

  1. lungs - pulmonary hypertension, and chronic pulmonary embolisms. Need I say more.  
  2. heart - who needs a right atrium? I have an enlarged heart!  Bigger is better right? Not!!!!  
  3. oxygen - I used to say that that breathing is overrated.  I haven't had a good breath since 1992.  Literally, 1992 was the last time I remember having a healthy oxygen saturation. That was my pre-COPD diagnosis. In 1993, I was working in Switzerland and decided to take a long weekend holiday to ski the Alps in St. Moritz - Club Med (does this resort still exist)? This was my first known presentation of "organ betrayal."  I had to request a ride in the snowcat down the mountain alongside the blue run. The full story is rather funny, but only because no one I mowed down on a "fainty" tumble down the top of the run was injured. 
  4. blood - I have a blood clotting autoimmune disease.  This disease keeps me sober, because the intoxicated rarely can pronounce "antiphospholipid antibody syndrome." This is the root of my compromised health. 
Besides my compromised lungs, heart, oxygen and blood, I'm quite healthy.  I have to stay in "breathing" shape.  I know the healthy persons in my life always want to be in "fighting shape," but for me, it's breathing shape.  Now believe me when I tell you that breathing shape is not that great. I usually need an Uber, shuttle or taxi in Salt Lake City for anything over a block. No, I'm not exaggerating.  I can manage to cross a street.  That's it! I struggle to cross the street from the hotel to the conference center. I think my brother has longer fishing lines than my walk across the street. But, before I can get to either door, I have to stop and catch my breath, sometimes twice door to door, and that does not include the wait required at the pedestrian crosswalk .  But for me that's breathing shape, especially for Salt Lake City.  Hubby says if I find myself being disappointed a lot, I need to lower my expectations.  I've become very "cool" with that!

So let me share with you how I stay in Breathing Shape. 

When first diagnosed my doctors directed me to just rest. Exercise was out, "just try to accept the life you have," they said.   My thought was "is that even considered living."  After a 28 day stay in the hospital, within six months I enrolled in a chair yoga class.  I became active with the Lung Association and was a planner for the local gala fundraiser (five years of this).  I could do that from my bed.  I could still talk you know. Yes, I was short winded, but my mouth is strong willed. 
Visit: Yoga 8 Poses
I advanced out of chair yoga to senior yoga (Silver Sneakers).  Ok...they did have their share of chairs too, so I wasn't alone. I was forty-five and I would catch the seniors sneaking that pathetic glance at me, as they nodded to each other. First rule: discard the past.  There would be no more skiing the slopes. I probably can no longer make it to the ski chair, let alone breath that mountain air without fainting and falling out of the chair.  So, I just exercised from my yoga chair next to that eighty-nine year old woman.  I did graduate out of the yoga chair to the pregnancy yoga class.  Don't laugh! Those mothers-to-be get soothing music and modified yoga positions. And it emphasized breathing.  Something I really needed to work on.  

I now walk around the block everyday, rain or shine, heat or cold, wind or humidity. Sometimes it takes me twelve minutes to walk around the block;  sometimes it takes me twenty-four. Sometimes, my route is charted for the flattest route, sometimes - ok, rarely, I try to make it up the slightest of inclines without having to stop in front of every house for my dog to mark a tree. This is not a rigorous walk, this is a friendly route.  I am the only person in the neighborhood that can name every person on the block and tell you how many children they have.  The key is to build up stamina. 

Eat right.  
I'm NOT even going to give you my speech.  But your diet weighs in on your inflammation, pain, and comfort level of the day. Why have a bad day? We already struggle to breath. And in Salt Lake City, your food choices need to be intentionally good.  I probably under eat just a bit. Never hungry, but never full.  "Full" hurts when you are struggling to breathe.  

The lower my weight, the better I feel.  Let me change that, I feel optimum when my weight is in the lower half of the recommended Body Mass Index (BMI)  Again, don't get too excited, I just want to cross a street. For those with compromised health, we must do whatever it takes to be at the Breathing, Moving, Inhaling (BMI) optimal level. 

Last Tip
Penn State News: Mindfulness
Oh and my last tip to you.  Smile.  Just smile with every exhale.  With a smile, you can make it to the other side of the street, even in Salt Lake City. 

Kathleen Brandt, Keynote Speaker
"Health is Wealth"

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Brain Stimulation is Important

Related image
Today the conversation came up twice.  "How did you keep going when you were so sick?" My answer is always the same. I just kept functioning.  I didn't want for yesterday, I lived in the present.  What can I do today?  That was, and still is, my daily morning question.  Sometimes, it's walk the dog, sometimes, it's read a book, or listen to French tapes.  I get dressed everyday, style my hair, put on makeup and a smile and "function."  

The definition of function: "an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing."

Well what was natural one day was not the same the next, so I functioned for "that" day.  It would sometimes take me all day to pull together an evening meal. For me, that was the easy chore.  Getting dress was sometimes breath-taking. It took tactical planning to succeed, but each day I planned my successes.  I still do.  

Here's an excerpt of a day in 2004.  
Brain Stimulation
In spite of feeling weak and short of breath 24/7, I picked up more hobbies. I sewed more, did crafts, decorated the house, and prayed a lot.  For one, I prayed that my hair would stop falling out. I could take feeling sick, but the loss of hair reminded me daily I was sick.  It was an announcement to the world, "Hey look at the sick woman over there!"  

One day I was at a Dillards with mother.  I hate shopping but anything to get me out of the house. I believe it was Mother’s take-back day.  She and her friends would go shopping. Come back with a bag full of items that they had tried on in the store.  They would wait until the next day, and try on their new garments. Then they declared the items ugly, and unfitting, or unbecoming, or wrong color, and they would take back 80% of whatever they bought.  I’m just guessing here, but it does seem that they returned eight out of ten of their newly purchased clearance items. 

This particular day was one that confirmed that people saw me as sick. It was about 2004.  I was forty-four years old and it was getting more difficult to hide my thinning hair.  But it wasn’t the hair that caught this woman’s attention.  She asked, “when are you due?” as she stared at my distended belly.  I weighed no more than 132lbs; well within my BMI but I suffered from ascites. Some days were worse than others. I tried to dress accordingly. On bad days, I'd hide it behind large flowing tops.  But some days it was not possible to hide the protruding ball that was my abdomen.  I usually stayed home and worked on the family genealogy, when I knew I was not fit to go out in public.  The days I would only feel safe within the confines of my house. Surprisingly,  the student’s at the Community College, where I taught part time, never mentioned it, but I often taught sitting on a desk. I would arrive early, position myself on top of the front desk next within arm reach of the projector.  They knew I had breathing issues, everyone knew I had breathing issues.  But the students were unexpectedly kind and tolerate. Plus, I was the exercise and game queen. Is there a better way to teach Spanish?

When I did leave the house, barring work,  it was to go to the National Archives - KC. I’d also take genealogy classes locally.  My theory was, I can feel bad sitting in someone else's chair as well as my own." I had added genealogy to my hobby list in 2000 and was pretty knowledgeable of the local repositories and resources.  I found my “free-colored” family in a 1860 census at the National Archives - KC. I was visiting the Kansas City Bannister branch of the National Archives. This was an unexpected discovery since only free persons were listed in that Federal census. But my grandfather Cecil always claimed his grandfather was born free. This research consumed me. I lost my troubles in the stacks of the genealogy library, the National Archives, and the State Historical Societies (Missouri and Kansas). My worries did not surface while rolling microfilm and digging in newspaper collections. Mother would sometimes join me.  In spite of her being an archival researcher, she was very distracting, but loved the research.  We would talk about my findings all the way to our little church in Ringwood, OK and back.  This was my passion. And it helped make the six hour one way trip to serve the Lord tolerable.

By 2002 I was teaching days at the community college. I was still an adjunct, and taught ten credit hours. I was making a name for myself as being strict, but my students were learning and they didn’t dare show up without their homework. That allowed for more classroom games, more speaking Spanish, more cultural experiences.  I was getting more involved in the school, and proposed two new classes.  The emphasis was on writing intensive courses, and again my thought was “I can do this.”  I didn’t expect the administration to take a visibly weakened adjunct teacher seriously when I proposed two Writing Intensive courses: Latin American Humanities, and Latin American Literature.  But the proposals were accepted and implemented. These classes were always filled and I was honored to share my master degree studies.  Plus, when my health worsened, and online courses became popular, these writing courses easily transitioned to my home office.

Teaching was not my passion.  But I was functioning. Slow, methodical, short of breath... but functioning.

Kathleen Brandt, Keynote Speaker
"Health is Wealth"

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Health and Genetics

Can DNA Uncover Health Hints?
Staying abreast of the trends in genealogy can be daunting, but is definitely necessary for the serious family historian or professional genealogist.  

Why Now?
In 2004, the Surgeon General, in cooperation with other agencies, launched the Surgeon General's Family History Initiative to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.  Thanksgiving has been declared National Family History Day, allowing for updates and information to be shared at an annual family gathering. There's even a "My Family Health Portrait Tool" to enter your family health history and learn about your risk for conditions that can run in families. But can genetics and genealogy really paired?  The answer is yes. 

What is Medical Genealogy?
Medical Genealogy, Genetics for Genealogists, and Family Health History are all names we hear when referencing tracing and documenting one’s family medical patterns.  It is  not just the application of genetics applied to traditional genealogy; therefore, I prefer the term “Medical Genealogy” as I believe this keeps the family historian focused.  (How many geneticists do you know who are genealogists or family historians?).”

“Medical Genealogy is the practice of tracing and recording family health patterns that are unique to your family (hopefully to include three generations) in order for the family practitioner to analyze.
Defined by Kathleen Brandt - a3Genealogy,
 Not an official definition, 2010. 

Although genealogists and family historians are quite talented, we don’t want to cross the lines of diagnosing based on family history, or predicting life spans or early deaths based on information and patterns.  Our job is to recognize patterns and document them.

What Traits and Health Analysis Discovered via DNA?
As a community, we can begin by gathering family data and creating a helpful family health tree. You may also want to include the 23andMe limited health analysis approved by FDA standards, using DNA. Know that only 23andMe include the following reports:

Carrier Status: are you a carrier for an inherited condition? This includes cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hereditary Hearing Loss, Sj√∂gren-Larsson Syndrome and more. To see the list of possible reports from A - Z visit the All Carrier Status Reports. You may also find it interesting that some genes are most notable within ethnic groups. This is a great place to visit to learn about common diseases if you are of French Canadian , Ashkenazi Jewish, Danish, Finish of African heritage. 

Food Preference: Most would agree that DNA can affect lactose intolerance, and muscle composition. It's not far fetched to believe that DNA can affect alcohol flush reaction, but can DNA really affect caffeine consumption? According to 23andMe the answer is yes.  Learn more at Wellness Reports (scroll down linked page.)

Traits Report: Of course genetics play a part in your "likelihood of having certain characteristics" to include the color of your hair and facial features, but the list of 23andMe Traits reports include  whether an individual will have asparagus odor detection.  Yes, Asparagus Odor Detection! 

Kathleen Brandt

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Family Health Tree: Medical Genealogy and You

What is a Family Health Tree?
In 2010, I was honored to serve on a committee for the Surgeon General project that provided Access the My Family Health Portrait Web Tool. I was an advising member for a Kansas University Medical Center grant whose goals were stated as“helps users organize family history information and then print it out for presentation to their family doctor.”  This website is now housed and maintained by Health and Human Services.
Using the tools provided, genetic genealogists may create an At-a-Glance Medical Tree.  Once you’ve gathered your data/information, by following the symbols that are defined (or add some of your own), this tree can be a breeze, and useful to the entire family and can be reviewed by your geneticists if necessary.

Where to Find Data/Information? 
  • The information needed to complete a “family health tree” is probably in your family files.  Take a close look at the cause of death on death certificates or obituaries.
  • Review medical records - we often get a copy of veteran medical records.
  • Take note of patterns: premature deaths, infertility patterns in women, birth defect patterns (I have seen some noted on census records), sibling patterns of illnesses, etc. 
The Goal - Take it to Your Doctor
In the end you should have a tree completed like the one above.  Your family and doctor will appreciate the family research. 

Kathleen Brandt

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Understanding DNA for Medical and Health

Medical Genealogy questions have flooded the Brandt Motivation email box.  So, I will spend time the next few days in posting on this series. 

Remember, we use these types of DNA test only in conjunction with medical genealogy and with a geneticist.

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Your Super Bowl

World Cancer Day and Super Bowl Sunday
There are many reasons to eat healthy. For me my options are dictated by my health and the strong need to keep inflammation at bay.  I have a rare autoimmune disease, as many of you know, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, also called lupus anticoagulation or Hughes Syndrome. Inflammation can determine everything for me, breathing, pain, discomfort, ascites, edema, activity level, focus level, hair loss...I said everything! So I keep "Clean Recipes" close at hand and probably properly choose to eat this way 80% of the time.

So I though I'd share a few that I found from my Pilates Studio.  They are fun.  These were posted by Pilates 1901 in Kansas City if you want to meet me there.  It's one of low cardio exercises that I do on a regular basis that help keep the heart pumping and the lungs working. It's low key but I get to concentrate on breathing.  Yes, breathing is an issue.

Clean Eating - A Bowl for Lunch or Dinner

            Protein – 120 calories chicken, turkey, fish, tempeh, tofu, edamame, or eggs made with 1 tsp HEALTHY oil. 

    1      Grain – 1/2c quinoa, brown rice or diced, cooked sweet potato.
    2      Greens – 1c kale, baby spinach, or other leafy greens (I used fresh chopped Red Leaf lettuce, here)
    3      Veggies – 1c roasted, steamed or raw veggies
    4      Beans – 2T-3T of your choice of beans(optional) If using canned, be sure to rinse!
    5      Fat – 50 calories avocado, feta cheese, hummus, guacamole, or homemade dressing (from CFC dressing guide).
    6      Unlimited fresh lime, lemon juice, or vinegar may also be used as additional dressing.
    7      Seal, store (dressing/fats separate) in the refrigerator & eat within 3-4 days.
Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jan 24 - Autoimmune Smiles

Daily Report
Lesson: Get dress and smile
When you live with any autoimmune disease, especially one with too many names, you learn to design a life you can live with.  It may not yield financial gain, but it will make you happy on those days when you aren’t in pain, you can breathe, your skin is not throbbing with hives, and you have come to peace with your forever thinning hair. So I have one rule for living with Antiphospholipid Anitbody Syndrome/Lupus Anti-coagulation/Huges Syndrome (because someone couldn’t settle on one name for my misery), COPD, pulmonary embolisms and hypertension, and an enlarged heart that keeps everyone on edge. Just one rule. 
Chicos Reece Pants and Loose Shirt
Get dressed everyday so you can do something. And I don’t mean in sweats. I’m talking slacks, top and shoes. Personally, jeans are too hard for me most days. But, get out of your PJ’s. PJ’s are just an exclamation point that says, hey, I’m sick! It might take you an hour, or two to get dressed.  What’s the rush?  Get your comfy slacks with no elastic, no zipper, and autoimmune friendly.  I buy mine at Chicos. I have one pair in 5 colors – summer white, black, tan, a color that reminds me of reddish mahogany, and emerald green.  I also have 5 long tunic no-iron shirts: red, shocking blue, white, black, bright lime green. For me is an issue, so this is best covered with a long tunic shirt. I shop when there’s a great storewide sale, and pile up on what I know I can handle. I like bright colors.

Yesterday I didn’t feel half bad.  I predicted today I would probably be on the top of my game. Our “game” has different rules than the rest of the population, so I only compare it to my average 30 day health chart. But with no humidity, not too cold, no real aches, and a clean meal of protein and salad, I knew it was going to be a good day. Ok, I declared it!

If you know me at all, you know I keep homemade soup in the house at all times. I have been sipping on it for about 3 days with light meals, no gluten, minimum sugar and more sleep than normal (about 5 hours a night – split into two or three segments of course). You know the routine. 

So when I saw an open casting add for a TV food tasting commercial, I sent in my pic, and information.  I was chosen. I had nothing to lose.  Today was the filming.  I practice smiling every day anyway so how hard could this be.  So, diuretics taken early, three hours to dress, four layers of make up (I’m sure), and albuterol in hand, I turned off my oxygen tank, and drove the 2 miles down the road for a 45 feedback - interview on the food product.  Of course, I arrived ealry.  Like all of you, I have to find parking close to the door, stress causes pain or more shortness of breath than normal, so early is!   Prep time: 5 hours

While waiting for my makeup touchup, I shared small chat with 5 other participants.  We laughed, I stole their good energy, and obvious good physical fortune.  My turn to the make up chair.  Well, that was fun. She brushed on press powder, she removed my under eyes’ shadows, and applied on eye-shadow on my lids.  When was the last time I actually wore eye shadow?  Feeling quite glamorous to discus food and filled with positive energy from all, I was ready to be interviewed. 

Yes, I came home exhausted.  It’s not even 7:30pm and I’m already in PJ’s. But, tomorrow I will get dressed and find another reason to smile.

Get dress, and smile! Yes, I was dressed in Chicos today for the TV commercial shoot. 

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

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 suits 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.  Somewhere in the fashion show they habitually highlight regular shaped people from the audience to model their own 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

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Jan 7 -The Bad Dog

Photo Cover by Steve Mason
Daily Report
Lesson: Shame,  Honesty, and Transparency
Some things I don’t want to share.  It’s not that I’m in denial, but it seems a bit personal, or embarrassing. Actually shameful.  Two of my friends have daughters in high school. One talks freely about her daughter who gives her fits being a teenager. Nothing terribly bad, but she’s tried marijuana, well she does live in Colorado; and she has obviously tried alcohol.  The other one ties her teenage daughter’s actions to her own parenting.  I can’t tell if she’s more shamed by her daughter’s extracurricular activities, or by what she deems as indictment of her parenting skills.  She literally is taking her daughter’s behavior as a personal affront. I am the motherless friend that says, “she’s a teenager.” “She’s testing parameters”  “Show her tough love and punish her fairly”  “Be a team.” “Did you see that Dr. Phil episode with the mother and daughter…?” You know the kind -the friend no mother with a rebellious daughter wants or needs. Looking at it now, I think I haven’t been empathetic. 

Tuesday of this past week, Chewey, our 85 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback mix went to doggie daycare.  He’s had a time outs before, but they seem to be more frequent.  We immediately paid for extra attention with the on-site trainer to identify and hopefully handle this behavior issue. He’s never bitten another dog, but he wards them off, with aggressively barking. It has been determined that we have reached a critical point, when he was expelled by the doggie daycare closest to our home.  They were kind. “I don’t think this is the best environment for Chewey.”

Two things you should know. 1) I’m not comparing my dog’s aggressive behavior to my friends’ daughters’ rebellious actions.  I’m not comparing my dog to my friends’ teenagers at all.  But I am comparing my friends shame to mine.  I did not want to talk about my dog being expelled. It was kind of cute on his first time out, when the “principal” called and said my sweet docile pup was in a scuffle.  But now it’s impacting my life.  The doggie daycare is less than one mile from my home. It was easy.  The housekeeper comes, dog is dropped off at daycare.  I’m out of town, Hubby drops dog off at daycare on way to work. Now we have to go to plan B.  2) The other thing you should know is that I don’t want my dog hurting another dog.  I don’t want him hurting a human trying to get to another dog. I need my dog to behave.  Keep in mind he has never shown teeth, just “in your face” barking.

So this is about Shame, about Honesty, about Transparency.  And a recognition that my Chewey issues are also as important to me as your daughter issues.  Just like someone’s stubbed toe can be as painful as someone’s toothache.

But before we could do anything about it, we had to assess the situation. So Thursday, we took Chewey to another daycare.  Before he went to our neighborhood doggie daycare, he went to a rather elite, lovely, inviting doggie daycare and kennel, 17 miles from our home and out of the way of our “inner circle of life.”  But we took him anyway, to see how he would behave.  Within 20 minutes we were getting a call from the attendant telling us that Chewey was in time-out for bad behavior.  I tried not to cry on our way to pick him up.  My sweet puppy misbehaves.

Tough love. 
Plan 1: Chewey starts behavioral training 20 June.  
Plan 2: If Plan 1 doesn’t work, (but the teacher thinks it will), he will go to doggie boot camp for two weeks.  I guess that’s like Military School for rebellious teenage girls.  And I’m sure it will cost as much! The pain and shame is real.

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Jan 6 - Unexpected Validation

Daily Report
Lesson:We All Make A Difference, Even When We Don’t See It

Today a surprise package came in the mail. When I saw the envelope was mailed from Norway, I knew it was from longterm client Stein.

I have not heard from him in a year. But today, Stein sent me a book he authored. In it my name and company was mentioned throughout. First of all, I’m honored he acknowledged my efforts and appreciated the work. But secondly, I was able to reflect on the wonderful people who have contributed to my life’s work. Not an easy task.

I love writing notes. I keep stamps and cards even in my car. But the manner we chose to thank those who invest their time, money and emotion on us, those investors deserve a Thank You.

This package came on the best day of the week. I needed this validation of “job done well.”

Kathleen Brandt
Put It Into Action Series