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Happiness, Inspiration, Success, Wisdom

Dinner with the President

Ted Nugent, President Donald Trump, Shemane Nugent. Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

President Trump walked into the Oval Office and we all held our breath. It’s not every day that you get to spend the evening with the president of the United States. With the Secret Service flanking him, our Commander-In-Chief showed off his dazzling smile and did something none of us expected.

He picked up a guitar and started strumming.

The president of rock ‘n roll presents a guitar to the President of the United States. Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

My husband, Ted Nugent, and I, were invited by Governor Sarah Palin, along with Kid Rock, his fiancé Audrey, and several of Governor Palin’s friends, including daughter Willow, to have dinner with President Trump.

Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

It was truly a monumental moment. President Trump was beyond gracious, giving us a detailed tour of White House grounds, the Oval Office, and even the Lincoln bedroom.

personal tour by President Trump. Photo courtesy Governor Sarah Palin

The dinner was spectacular with lobster salad, lamb, roasted vegetables and Baked Alaska, in honor of Alaska’s former governor Sarah Palin.  President Trump even signed Ted’s menu to auction and raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Waco tonight!

President Trump told us he was grateful for what people like Sarah and Ted did for him when he was campaigning and simply wanted to show his appreciation by inviting Sarah and her friends.

 

 

The conversation was intense and lively, but when my husband started tapping the plate with his fork like he does at home when he really, really likes the food, I gave him one of those don’t you dare looks, and he quickly stopped.

We capped off the night with a tour of the Press Room by Sean Spicer.

 

We topped it off with a nightcap at the Hotel George, in Georgetown.

#crew

 

family, Happiness, Inspiration, Wisdom

Gram

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Today my grandmother, Ruth Cowan would have turned 100 years old. Gram, as so many of us lovingly caller her, was truly one of a kind: an electric and buoyant woman who looked into your eyes, into your soul, upon meeting.  Some of my most cherished memories are from our late night conversations. We played cards and talked, ate large bowls of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and she would listen – really listen.

 

She was the first person I wanted to talk to when I endured seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I couldn’t wait to hear her advice for my most devastating tribulation – when my husband had an affair and a child with another woman. Her answer, however, was unexpected.

“What would you do, Gram?” I asked.

We were at a restaurant and she took her time, chewing her food slowly.

Sixty seconds is a long time to wait when you are eager for an answer, advice.

I waited.  And waited.

And then she finally blurted out, “I’d get a boyfriend!”  And as a second thought she added, “…and a yacht!”

It was hard to be in a sour mood around Gram even in the darkest moments.  She had a way of livening up the room, and the world.  She made it a better place while she was here.  Indeed.

Like most people from the Greatest Generation who endured real hardships like the Great Depression and World War II, she had a moral compass that was always pointed in the right direction.  As a young mother who lost her husband to cancer, she worked two jobs and struggled to make ends meet for her three children.  There were hard times in her life, yet I never saw her without a smile.

One of the things that inspired me most about my grandmother was her ability to live life to the fullest. She entertained at night clubs until she was more than 90 years old, belting out cover songs of the forties, fifties and sixties and playing the piano – although she never learned to read music.

The highlight of every family gathering was watching her play Mama Goes Where Papa Goes, with all of her children and grandchildren singing along. She had a powerful, soulful and authoritative voice that didn’t need a microphone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=v4Q8w_nHDYg&app=desktop

My grandmother taught me to live life to the fullest and dance if no one was watching. At 92 years old, she joined Ted on stage at one of his rock ‘n’ roll concerts. In front of twenty thousand hard-core rock ’n roll fans,  Gram strutted across the stage as if she owned it. She did.

On my desk is a photograph of her laughing.  Whenever I have one of those moments when I’m sad or frustrated, I look at that picture and ask myself, “What would Gram do?”  I hope I make the best of every second in my life and make as many people smile as she did.

Celebrating Veterans Day Every Day
Finding Strength, Inspiration, Mindset, Spiritual, Spirituality, Wisdom

Celebrating Veterans Day Every Day

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.Charles Dickens

We’ve all experienced dark nights of the soul, times when we endured spiritual crises that brought us to our knees. We lose hope, hit the bottom of the depression pit, and perhaps even consider suicide. Let’s be real. Maybe you wouldn’t do it, but have you thought about it?

Taking the focus off myself and putting it on others has always lifted me from the deepest, darkest depths of despair. In 2004, Ted, Rocco, and I visited veterans at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. That day was one I can still see and feel in my mind.

The three of us went from room to room, floor to floor, visiting severely injured soldiers. The sights were gruesome—much worse than any Hollywood movie could depict. Ted played his guitar and entertained some of the troops in a rehab room. A young man who had suffered serious burns all over his body was strapped onto a bed; his arms and legs were extended. Emblazoned in my memory are the moaning sounds he made while his limbs were stretched so new skin would have a chance to grow.

As we ascended to higher floors, the wounds on these hero warriors seemed to get worse. The cheery demeanor of a beautiful, dark-haired woman overpowered the fact that half of her face had been maimed. She smiled wide and bright as she talked about recovering quickly so she could rejoin her fellow soldiers.

Nineteen year-old Corporal John Chrzanowski had been brought in the night before we arrived. Wrapped from head to toe like a mummy, John had been burned all over his body. To minimize the chance for infection, John’s visitors were kept to a minimum. Ted scrubbed up, put on a face mask and gown, and headed in to give John a pep talk. Rocco and I stood outside the room with John’s mother, Nancy. I had no idea what to say to her. How could any words bring her comfort? I asked if there was anything she needed, anything I could do for her. With all the confidence in the world that her son would someday make a full recovery, Nancy Chrzanowski lifted her chin and said defiantly that her son was an outdoorsman and she couldn’t imagine him recovering without being able to get outside. At the time, there was no patio at BAMC to shelter burned and wounded veterans from direct sunlight.

I was slightly stunned, but I leaped into the conversation as if something else had taken over my words. I had zero experience with fundraising and had no idea how I would do it, but I told Nancy I’d raise the money for a patio at the center so her son and so many others could get outside into fresh air but stay out of the sun. With the help of my husband, Texas governor Rick Perry, and so many others, a beautiful pavilion was created at Brooke Army Medical Center and has provided relief to hundreds of deserving and honored American military veterans. That experience prompted me to start Freedom’s Angels to help wounded soldiers and their families. Most recently, we raised money to provide a much needed track chair to a veteran who had lost his legs. Now, he can go to the beach with his family and not worry about the complications of walking with prosthetic legs in the sand.

Every year, Ted and I are involved in dozens and dozens of charity events. We’ve hosted too many children with terminal illnesses for me to count. Or want to. Meeting innocent children stricken by a death warrant is heartbreaking. It’s so unfair to them and their families. It puts everything in perspective, doesn’t it? How dare I complain of having a bad hair day or gaining a few pounds? Those children would love to have my problems. So whenever I have my pity days, I think about people who struggle with much more daunting tribulations, and I get involved.

You don’t have to write a check to make a difference. One Thanksgiving, Ted, Rocco, and I went to a soup kitchen and served the homeless. Lend a helping hand to others and you’ll be more appreciative of what you have. On this Veterans Day, go out of your way to thank a Veteran for their service.

Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Emotional Wellbeing, Relationships, Wisdom

Sometimes It’s Best To Save Yourself

 

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“Save yourself.”  That’s what a friend told me after we discussed a predicament involving a mutual acquaintance.

Sometimes it’s best not to get involved in situations we cannot control even though we may think we can be of assistance.  It’s difficult to allow others to make their own (bad) choices and allow them to figure out the predicament themselves, but occasionally we may need to.  Often, it’s best to back away, bite your tongue and save your sanity.

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Finding Strength, Health, Success, Wisdom

Reboot Your Resolution

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One of the most basic yoga poses is called Tree Pose, but on this day, for me, it was incredibly difficult.  I can do advanced balances with one leg in the air behind my back, but for some reason I could not stop wobbling in Tree Pose. I fell. I tried again. I fell. There are times in life when we wobble before we get to our destination. We oscillate. We are off balance. The most important thing is that we get up and attempt the endeavor again.

There are many stories of celebrities and wealthy individuals who have tried only to fail. Continue Reading

Inspiration, Mindset, Wisdom

Plan Ahead

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A goal without a plan is just a wish.―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Do you feel you’re always rushing to get everything done and yet you never do? Although you know the holidays are fast approaching, do you still end up scrambling at the last minute to buy gifts? Though I know darn well when I have to travel days or weeks in advance, I often find myself hurrying at the last minute to do the laundry, pay the bills, clean the house, and pack. Usually, I overpack and still forget something. Sound familiar?

Part of the reason I wrote my book, “4 Minutes a Day, Rock ‘n Roll Your Way to HAPPY” is to learn these lessons myself. So try this with me, won’t you?

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Happiness, Wisdom

Carte Blanche & 87

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I celebrated another birthday this week. This makes fifty-three so far and I ain’t done yet!  On the actual anniversary of my birth, one of the gifts my husband “gave” me was that I had carte blanche – we could do whatever I wanted. I got control of the channel changer AND the thermostat!  Hallelujah!

Carte blanche means the unconditional power to do as we please, or the permission to do something the way we want to, i.e., having control of the channel changer. Many of us typically put the needs and desires of others before our own. Now, there are times in our lives when situations demand our immediate and diligent attention.  New parents have to be on strict schedules of changing diapers and feeding. Those who have school-aged children have the challenge of juggling work and family. Taking care of ill or elderly friends can be overwhelming time consuming. And in relationships, compromise is crucial. At times, we just don’t have carte blanche.

How did this all start?

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Inspiration, Wisdom

Intuition


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The only real valuable thing is intuition.Albert Einstein

Have you ever had a gut feeling about a person or a situation? By gut feeling, I mean that inner wisdom, the power of your feelings, not logical thinking. This is a gray area of metaphysical science that has recently gained popularity among doctors and psychologists, although philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Jung, and many more have discussed it for centuries.

My friend, Deirdre Capone (grandniece of Al Capone), said she and her great-uncle Al relied on intuition to make decisions. Al would walk into a room for a meeting, and if he had a bad feeling about it, he would leave. Most of the time, he was indeed being set up.

Unless you’ve studied philosophy or metaphysics or there is someone in your life who has encouraged you to trust your intuition, it’s unlikely you’ve had the confidence to learn from or even listen to your instincts. Some think it’s a wishy-washy approach to making a judgment call and can’t be trusted. With modern technology, we rely more on cold, hard facts and statistics than our gut feelings about something or someone. But have you ever met someone and instantly liked or disliked him or her? You can’t describe exactly why you had those impressions, but you did. That’s intuitive thinking, and it serves people well. Law enforcement, the military, boxers, and athletes use intuition to direct their actions.

Today’s challenge is an important one. Our instincts can be a very reliable source for decision making if we allow ourselves to embrace our gut feelings. We may feel pulled to do or not do something that may have saved our lives, such as taking a different route to work and finding out an accident occurred on our usual path. Or simply having second thoughts about a person that you cannot corroborate.

Can you recall a few times that your instincts served you well?  For at least four minutes today, trust everything your intuition tells you.