Courage is Facing Your Fears

I was recently told by my physician that if I would like to reduce the pain level I live with and increase my mobility, I would need to purchase forearm crutches!  It was NOT what I wanted to hear at all.  In reality, I should have started using them over a year ago, but my silly ego thought that using them was a “visible sign of a fault” plus, it felt like I was giving up my fight against my physical limitations. A self defeating thought process.  The year delay increased the damage to my body & drastically increased my pain level. Time to reset my priorities.

Once I made the decision to purchase & use the Loftstrand Style Forearm crutches, it then became a game to find the most appropriate kind that could actually be a useful tool instead of a limitation.  In the beginning of my search,  I was dismayed by the institutional appearance of what I was finding, but that was not the biggest problem.  The biggest problem was this:  how in the world could I make these crutches work in the environment that I call home.  I live in the Rocky Mountains, literally on the side of a mountain.  My drive is steep & a mix of loose gravel & dirt.  Negotiating it on crutches seemed like an insurmountable task.  Another obstacle is the weather. Many months of the year, that same driveway is covered in deep snow, mud, or packed with ice.  I absolutely love where I live and became determined to find a solution.

After much searching, I was delighted to find that another lady, Sarah Doherty, founder of Sidestix Ventures Inc., who also faced severe mobility challenges, had been working for years to improve those institutional crutches to make off road challenging terrain experiences easier to negotiate & more comfortable.  These crutches not only had some style (which was incidental), they work in the mountains!  They had features that seemed amazing.  I laughed with delight  when I discovered that these crutches have snowshoes!!  I can return to my hiking in the snow, an activity that I so adore. But that wasn’t all.  Not only did they have snowshoes, they also have mud/sand shoes with ice spikes, hiking tips with cleats, & rotating feet for rough terrain.  They have shock absorbers, padded leather arm bands for comfort, and ergonomic hand pads.

I started watching videos related to their product & was astonished by what I found.  There is a video of of an amputee in a forest similar to mine hiking through muddy terrain, and on wet somewhat treacherous wood bridges having no problems with his crutches! There is one of an amputee snowshoeing a very challenging vertical trail. I saw another of a man who hiked on Sidestix the 60 or so miles of the Tahoe rim!

The videos gave me hope.  Hope that my outdoor days were not over, hope that I can continue to walk my dog, hope that I can return to the activities of my life that are important, hope that I can live with less pain, less fatigue, & less sadness.   In short, I have hope that I can return to my life that I love.

Take a look, you will be amazed.  I’m ordering mine and I will let you know how they work out.

Courage is facing your fears & being willing to accept help when you need it.  ~Abbey 2016


Mindfulness and Contentment

Born Again Minimalist

According to Psychology Today:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Mindfulness and contentment are a necessary part of a minimalist lifestyle. Being minimalist means having enough and being happy with that. Whether it’s a 10-item capsule wardrobe or a closet filled with vibrant clothes you love, as long as you’re happy with what you have, you can know contentment. If you spend all your time getting dressed thinking, “I have nothing to wear!” or considering anything your “least favorite” dress, pair of pants, etc., then you’re comparing and focusing on lack instead of being grateful for abundance.

This line of thinking translates to everything. Your job, for example…

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Denny’s New Pancake Rebrand: Food Porn or Something More? — Emily Contois

This is funny in so many ways. “Real” ingredients? I recognize that pancakes have been made from a box for some time now, but to say that the “new 50% fluffier pancakes” are better than those made at home is amusing. A whole lot of us have been making “100% fluffier pancakes” at home for most of our lives. That being said, as a cook & an artist, I love the idea of “food porn” videos. Emily Contois gives an eloquent, descriptive view of what exactly you will find in a “food porn video” Enjoy the article:

(note added by Abbey Nightowl – not in the original post)

Enter a caption

Last week, Denny’s switched from stacks of limp, just-add-water pancakes to “50% fluffier” buttermilk pancakes, made with “real” ingredients and complete with a food porn aesthetic. Why?

via Denny’s New Pancake Rebrand: Food Porn or Something More? — Emily Contois

AutoEthnographic Journaling – What is it?

Auto ethnographic Journal

AbyNightowl (c)

– October 25, 2013

A History, A story, A research, A LifeIntroduction

When given the assignment to produce an “auto-ethnographic journal”, I freely admit that I am intrigued.  As a fine artist, musician, educator, creative person in many fields, including education, the thought of writing an autobiography has been on my mind for a number of years.  Having lived through more than my share of both unfortunate, and life altering experiences has also driven my need to write the story, if for no other reason, than to leave a legacy for my children.  I have written pieces of it in verse, in prose, in notes, in notebooks, but have never found the right structure that had the ability to bring together a story that has so many pieces that it seems as if I have lived a hundred lives in one.

As a part of my preparation for this exercise, I did my own research, and found many references to the subject of auto ethnography.  The one that I most identified with was found in an article by BOCHNER (see Cite Index #1) . I particularly like the idea of researchers using not only methodological tools and research literature to analyze a personal experience, but the additional fact that an antoethnographer must also consider ways to use their own personal experiences to encompass and illustrate some facet of their cultural experience.

Autobiographies must possess certain characteristics

1.  They should be aesthetic and evocative, using techniques such as:

a.  use of the first-person to tell a story (CAULEY, 2008, p.442)

b.  bringing in a second-person as a witness (GLAVE, 2005)

c.  bringing in a second-person to describe things too personal to tell in the first person (GLAVE, 2005)

d.  the use of the third-person as a form of reporter. (CAULEY, 2008)

2.   They should engage the readers with conventions of storytelling (ELLIS & ELLINGSON, 2000)

a.  Characters

b. Scene

c.  Plot development

Autoethnographies, on the other hand, try to produce an enriched description of personal and interpersonal experience.  As opposed to a straight autobiography, an auto ethnographer first tries to discern a pattern of cultural experience using:

1.  Field notes

2.  Interviews and/or artifacts

3.  Storytelling

4.  Showing and telling

5.   Alterations of the authors voice

The goal of this kind of writing is to try to make a personal experience meaningful, engaging, and hopefully the resulting text may be able to reach a more diverse audience than either research alone, or an autobiography alone.

Forms of autoethnography include:

1.  Indigenous/native ethnographies

2.  Narrative ethnographies

3.  Reflexive, dyadic interviews

4.  Layered accounts

5.  Interactive interviews

6.  Community autoethnographies

7.  Co-constructed narratives

8.  Personal narratives

Writing personal stories can be therapeutic for the authors (KIESINGER, 2002), as we write to make sense of the things that occurred in our lives.  Writing personal stories can also be therapeutic for readers, making them “witnesses”, giving the participants and readers the ability to observe a problem or experience (e.g. GREENSPAN, 1998; ROGERS, 2005), allowing them to feel validated and/or able to want to change their life.

One of the identified issues that must be dealt with in this form of writing is the ethics of writing publicly about the lives of the persons surrounding the event, or events. For example, if an auto ethnographer tells a story that implicates themselves, and as a part of that story, they speak about a mother, or a son; a husband, or a father, that person is implicitly implicated by what is said, for it is difficult for an identified writer to mask a relationship that is public without altering the meaning and purpose of the story.  The cultural parallel would be similar to a writer in a small community writing about a known person, such as a town mayor, a minister or a public official.  These people are easily recognized, and may not welcome being participants in a text written without their knowledge or consent.  Therefore, the writer must weigh the ethics of either seeking and either gaining permission from these interpersonal relationships, or they may have to protect the privacy and safety of others by altering the storyline to the point where identifying characteristics are removed.  While the essence and meaningfulness of the story is more important than the precise recounting of detail, writers must recognize that these protective devices can influence how their work is interpreted and understood.


Caulley, Darrel N. (2008). Making qualitative research reports less boring: The techniques of writing creative nonfiction. Qualitative Inquiry, 14(3), 424-449.

Ellis, Carolyn & Ellingson, Laura (2000). Qualitative methods. In Edgar Borgatta & Rhonda Montgomery (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sociology (pp.2287-2296). New York: Macmillan.

Glave, Thomas (2005). Words to our now: Imagination and dissent. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

Greenspan, Henry (1998). On listening to Holocaust survivors: Recounting and life history. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Kiesinger, Christine E. (2002). My father’s shoes: The therapeutic value of narrative reframing. In Arthur P. Bochner & Carolyn Ellis (Eds.), Ethnographically speaking: Autoethnography, literature, and aesthetics (pp.95-114). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira

Rogers, Kim Lacy (2004). Lynching stories: Family and community memory in the Mississippi Delta. In Kim L. Rogers, Selma Leydesdorff & Graham Dawson (Eds.), Trauma: Life stories of survivors (pp.113-130). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.

Cite Index:

1.  Autoethnography: An Overview

ELLIS, Carolyn; ADAMS, Tony E.; BOCHNER, Arthur P.. Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, nov. 2010. ISSN 1438-5627. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 Oct. 2013.