When you’re told you have a tumor the size of a grapefruit growing in your brain, and you have it removed, and you live to tell the story about it without experiencing profound disability, then you have a lot to be grateful for.

That’s what happened to Amy. Learn more about Amy’s health story in this podcast episode. She had no idea about a brain tumor until family members made an intervention and tests revealed the source of her various symptoms which taken individually caused no alarm for Amy.

‘Tis the season to be grateful. And Amy is grateful for much. What are you grateful for?

In the latest AARP magazine Michael J. Fox talks about how gratitude is a source for his continued optimism in spite of having to give up acting because of unreliable speech.

The UC-Berkeley Center for the Greater Good explores the concept of gratitude with evidence-based research. Check out articles and video clips here.

An earlier podcast episode, Gratitude & Thinking Small, includes an interview with noted author and Buddhist practitioner, Toni Bernhard.

Traditionally the month of October is the time to become aware of people with disabilities — either a visible or invisible disability — but here we’re drawing attention to all those who face physical and mental health challenges. With 1 in 10 Americans diagnosed with a rare disorder (whether it’s a visible or invisible disability) and all of the others making up ~ 25% of Americans with chronic health conditions, let’s practice an awareness on a daily basis.

Sunny Ammerman, NORD Ambassador for Indiana, talks about spoon theory, her role as a Patient Advocate for NORD and the Pituitary Network Association, and her blog, Insomnia Doodles.

Earlier podcast episodes have explored Disability Awareness — The D Word and The Pirate as a Disability Action Figure. To learn more about Rare Disease, listen to this podcast episode, It’s Not That Easy Being Rare.

Sunny is an avid gamer and Virtual Reality enthusiast; stay tuned for a future episode where she shares her love of VR.

What is that growing on me — could it be skin cancer? Have you asked yourself this question? During the pandemic I ignored a couple of what I thought were pimples because I was terrified to go inside a building. According to Wikipedia…

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive. Although the nonmelanoma skin cancer basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is rarely life-threatening, it can be troublesome, especially because 80 percent of BCCs develop on highly visible areas of the head and neck.

Mayo Clinic

Apparently I have, or had, both. After a few biopsies, a topical chemotherapy treatment, and now Mohs surgery, I hope this closes a chapter. Yet it seems nearly inevitable that there will be a recurrence. And thus my education on this topic is in its genesis.

A few takeaways from this experience — don’t leave the house without sunscreen protection and learn more to successfully advocate for myself.

Here’s an entry from a chronic illness blogger about her ordeal with skin cancer.

Falls don’t always happen when you’re standing. Although balance and fall prevention classes help increase your odds of preventing a near fall, some falls are just unusual accidents. Like sitting in a chair where the seat gives way and your derriere hits the ground. That’s one unusual fall.

Fortunately, movement and flexibility classes improve your chances of diminishing the impact of the fall.

For more information on Balance and Fall Prevention, listen to this podcast episode with UCSF Physical Therapy Professor, Erica Pitsch.

The Mat Pilates class offered by BORP is described as: Designed by and for people with spinal cord injuries but open and beneficial to all, the Adaptive Pilates Mat Class is a unique class essential for those that sit in a chair all day and are able to get  up and down off of the floor or have access to a raised mat.  Liz Ann will lead the class through the basic principles of Pilates, helping you to get stronger, more flexible and even to have improved coordination. Pilates also uses specific sequential breathing methods combined with intense concentration on a specific body part to create an effective exercise routine.

To find out about other adaptive/accessible online movement classes, join the Facebook group: Movement Challenge.

Christina Leffmann, or Roma as she prefers to be called, is passionate about indoor and outdoor rock climbing as well as the Acquired Disability Peer Support Group she started. In June Roma traveled to Salt Lake City to participate in Paraclimbing National Championships (you can see Roma climbing at 12:30 in the video).

In her early 20s Roma experienced a series of strokes and identifies as having an acquired disability which is different than being born with a disability or aging into a disability. Currently she works for the Center for Independent Living and has an active life with a daily stretch routine, swimming, and weekly cycling. And rock climbing, of course.

Earlier this year Roma shared her movement practice at one of the weekly Zoom meetings as part of the May Movement Challenge.

The Pandemic has brought many changes; for me, it’s ushered in the next chapter of my life. Perhaps the final chapter? With mobility challenges, it was one of two choices: home modifications or move to a new house. I chose the latter. The transition could be bittersweet but I think I’ve gained more than I’ve lost. I am closer to Nature and getting more than my usual Vitamin N dose.

Shortly after I moved from the East Coast to California in 1989, I had the opportunity to visit Mendocino when I was producing a documentary about women rabbis. Ever since that experience I’ve visited this beautiful coastal town.

This past May was filled with online accessible movement classes for the May Movement Challenge. Once the month of activity ended, all I did was organize, pack, organize, and pack. The move occured in mid-August and here I am…ready to continue podcasting.

I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last post.

May was a big month – filled with the May Movement Challenge. Nearly every day of the month there was at least one – and in many cases multiple – free, accessible, online movement classes. It was amazing! If you missed it, here are some highlights.

Highlights from May Movement Challenge 2021

Each Saturday we had a virtual pow-wow complete with a stretch session, an instructor teaching about an aspect of a movement practice, and someone sharing about their personal journey with movement. I am tremendously grateful to all of the movement instructors who volunteered to teach. Special thanks to those who donated prizes for the weekly Give-Away (Lockdown Comedy ticket, Month of Chair Yoga classes, Life Coaching Session, Magazine Subscription to Spirituality & Health, and a wonderful grand prize of Daily Harvest organic, plant-based meals.)

Daily Harvest has extended their discount offer. Use the code GLASSHALFFULL to get your discount.

Over 200 people registered for the inaugural event. We have a Facebook group for those who would like to continue their movement practice challenge.

So where was I during the months of June through August?

As President Biden might say, “Here’s the deal…” It’s one of those pandemic stories. I did a good job with quarantine. My partner and I masked, socially distanced, didn’t go inside buildings other than our home, and saw very few people in person. I became a Zoom pro. I amped up my exercise routine and took daily walks.

During one of our daily walks my partner and I discussed my changing needs. Although I remain ambulatory, walking presents challenges. Especially when stairs are involved. We live(d) in an old Tudor house with my office and the bedroom on the second floor. I was incredibly mindful when going up and down the stairs. It was exhausting.

So, on one of these walks, I said “let’s move.”

There was always the option of renovating our home to make it more accessible but I really didn’t want to disrupt the architectural integrity of the house. It served us well for nearly 20 years. Plus, the COVID-19 experience had an impact on my values. Nature is so important to my physical and emotional health. I wanted more of it.

If ever I was asked about my “bucket” list, all I could ever say was to wake up in the morning and see the ocean. Without going into the long story, I got my wish. We moved from Alameda to Mendocino, California. Ironically, in 2018 I wrote a blog post for Brain + Life about my love of Mendocino. At that time I couldn’t imagine moving to the country. With a chronic health condition? Don’t I need access to neurologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists?

I don’t know. I never needed to see a doctor during the first year and a half of the pandemic. My healthy lifestyle has enabled me to continue to lead a quality-filled life. My hope is that I’ve now enhanced that healthy lifestyle. The air is fresher, there’s an ocean breeze, and everything is just slowed down. So far, this household of two humans and five cats are enjoying it.

And I’m back with the Glass Half Full! Stay tuned for two new podcast episodes before the end of September.

It’s the May Movement Challenge! This podcast episode explains all you need to know about the #MayMovementChallenge2021 featuring Stanford University’s Research Physical Therapist, Tina Duong.

Tina’s worked with both children and adults with spinal cord injury, stroke rehab, and neuromuscular disease. She talks about stretching, diaphragmatic breathing, and how to take care of yourself when starting a movement practice. Learn about the FITT Principle (Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time) as it applies to movement and exercise.

Once you’ve listened to this episode, don’t waste any time in registering for any of the five information sessions on Saturdays during the month of May. Take a look at the Events Calendar for May with over 75 classes — all free, online, and most with accessible accommodations.

Each Saturday in May will feature instructors leading a stretch, discussing a different aspect of movement as well as motivating us to select attainable movement goals.

Telling a patient story can be a highly emotional task for anyone. Thankfully, there are people who can help. Emily Newberry – author, speaker, coach – at the Kaiser Permanente in Oregon, is one of those people.

Emily was a natural story teller having spent part of her youth helping others tell their stories through song. Over the years she’s perfected the craft and simplified the process. It’s not rocket science, she says, just remember two facts and a feeling.

As part of Kaiser’s Person & Family Centered Care, high impact storytelling is important for patients as well as healthcare professionals. A patient story can create a call for action.

Self-Care, or radical Self-Care, is the theme for the 5-year anniversary of the Glass Half Full podcast. This short episode features my brand of self-care — daily routines that are my sustenance, not just an end-of-the-week treat. Whether it’s nutrition, movement, or attitude my waking hours are spent minimizing symptoms associated with a progressive neuromuscular disease and maximizing a limited supply of energy.

As part of the anniversary celebration, join me in a streaming Facebook Live event on Sunday, March 21st at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. I’ll be joined in a lively discussion on Self-Care with previous podcast guests.

On Friday, March 26th at 11:00 a.m. you can participate in an interactive presentation, A Journey With Movement & Exercise at the Virtual Abilities Expo. Registration is free.

You can get your own mug, t-shirt, mask, etc. at the Glass Half Full storefront.