Regression Rather Than Progression

I follow many, many yogis on social media.  I am inspired and encouraged by their posts, especially progress pics.  It’s amazing to see the space and skills that come with consistent practice!  Like a progress post showing a backbend that goes from looking like a broken Barbie doll to a fluid acrobat over the course months or even years.  Or a post showing the progress of Monkey Pose – also known as good ol’ fashioned splits – that begins as a kneel but becomes the stuff of ballerinas.

This is not that kind of post.

You’ve surely heard the saying, “Use it, or lose it…”

After a limited practice since last March and absolutely no practice for 6 weeks and 3 days, my yoga postures, my balance, and the space in my poses has done the opposite of progress in a very big way.

And that’s okay, because as of yesterday, I am excited to Begin Again. Again.

Like I mentioned last night, I created this class back in 2016, right after completing my Yoga Teacher Training and RYT200 Certification…at a time when I had been spending 5 hours, 5 days a week on my yoga mat.  But I want to be open and honest, so I am sharing my regression from then to now.  I am putting each picture from 2016 right next to a photo from tonight.

It ain’t pretty.

My hamstrings are screaming, my IT-bands won’t allow my feet to rest flat on the ground, my neck is crazy stiff, my hips are creaking, my shoulders are tight, my arms are shaking, there’s no bend in my back, and my core is like a bowl full of jelly.

I have a long, long way to go to get back to my better self.

But that’s okay as well.

It’s okay to digress, to stumble, to fall.  It’s the getting back up, finding your footing, and moving forward again that is most important!!

And that is exactly what I intend to do.

Last night we learned Easy Pose.

Here is the next part of my Begin Again yoga flow: Surya Namaskara A or Sun A.

Google “Sun A” and you will receive “about 2,590,000,000 in 0.48 seconds.”

It’s the first thing I teach my football boys and volleyball girls at TU, and I nag them regularly about making time to roll through a few Sun Salutations each and every day.

These 11 poses and the flow from posture to posture can change your life:

1. Samasthiti – Stand Upright with Hands at Heart Center

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2. Urdhva Vrikshasana – Upward Tree Position

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3. Uttanasana A – Forward Fold (bend knees as much as needed)

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4. Uttanasana B – 1/2 Lift

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5. Chaturanga Dandasana – Tricep Push Up Down

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6. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana – Updog

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7.  Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downdog

* HOLD FOR 3-5 DEEP BREATHS *

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8. Uttanasana B – 1/2 Lift

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9. Uttanasana A – Forward Fold

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10. Urdhva Vrikshasana – Upward Tree

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11. Samasthiti – Hands at Heart Center

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I hope you’ll give it a try…it’s never too late to begin!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

Begin Again. Again.

On January 1, 2016, I wrote a post about beginning again, specifically about starting the new year with purpose and intention.  I chose the word “self-directed” as my Word of the Year.  And I began a new yoga flow with the big idea of sharing it with the world.

Today – August 26, 2018 – I find myself needing to begin again.  Again.

I am 6 weeks and 3 days post-surgery, and I am pseudo-released from my restrictions.  I am missing my yoga practice.  I am stiff and tight in all the wrong places.  I am ready to hit my mat.

I am ready to begin again.  Again.

I love my Begin Again playlist and flow from way back in 2016, so I figure it’s as good a place as any to get started.

The first posture is Easy Pose (Sukhasana)…one of my favorite ways to begin a yoga workout.

Sit in an easy position.

You might like your legs criss-cross, or you might prefer them out straight.

You should try sitting on a pillow or folded blanket if the ground is not comfortable.

You can shift your bum cheeks to root through your sits bones.

And then lift through your spine, your ribs, your heart, and your shoulders until you feel a nice, long length from crown to ground.

From here, just breathe.

And now you have mastered Sukhasana.

It’s a pretty great way to begin again.  Again.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

A Kiss from Momma Monty

I have a fabulous habit of over-thinking, over-doing, and over-explaining.

So, today I am going to…

#1.  Save the Date: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2018 is all about busting our butts to save our brains…

#2.  You need to register for the Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s, so click here or go to www.TulsaWalk.org – email, call, or text me if you need help.

*** You receive a FREE FOOTBALL GAME TICKET just for registering to participate, so be sure to register your kids and family, too.

#3.  Next you need to order your game t-shirt TODAY.  Again, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ORDER so click here or go to epiapparel.com/tul022 and ignore the “student/homeroom” part on the order page.  Shirts are only $10, and we NEED YOUR HELP PAINTING THE STADIUM PURPLE, so please go get one (or two or several).

#4.  SELF-DONATE or RAISE $10 (or more!!) to EARN a TAILGATING TICKET WHICH INCLUDES FREE BREAKFAST AND FREE LUNCH.  If you need help, please reach out – I would LOVE to help you make a difference in the fight to #ENDALZ

#5.  Be at the University of Tulsa, Chapman Commons by 9 am on September 15th…be part of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s…eat a free breakfast…learn about how we can create a world without ALZ…play a bunch of games…let the kids run through the fountains and hop through the inflatables…hangout and tailgate with friends and family…eat a free lunch…listen to awesome bands with the “Cain’s on Chapman” concert series…put on your purple TU shirt…use your free game ticket…watch pre-game…be ready for kickoff at 6 pm…and cheer our Golden Hurricane on to victory!!

As my Angel Girl likes to say, “easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy” 😉

Holler with any questions – I am here to help: MrsMommaMonty@gmail.com

With love and hugs and a KISS,

Ashli

2018 TU ALZ Game Shirt (front)

2018 TU ALZ Game Shirt (back)

My New Favorite Book

I wasn’t always slated for Alzheimer’s advocacy.

In fact, back in 2008 – after watching a CSI: New York marathon on TV…for ten school days straight…and doing very, very little else – I went back to school for my master’s degree.

In 2010, I graduated from the University of North Texas with a Master of Science in Information Sciences (a.k.a., a librarian’s degree) with graduate certificates in Youth Librarianship and Storytelling.

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I chose these areas of study because I wanted to gain some expertise in something I love.

You see, I knew that Coach hoped to someday be a head football coach at the college level which provides a small, yet potentially impactful platform to create positive change in the team’s community.  And then, when I looked inside my heart and my pretend crystal ball, I saw a deep passion for children and an obsessive love for reading.

Since that decision, Alzheimer’s Disease has attacked our family.  Because we refuse to go down quietly, my public platform has taken on a life of its own.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m happy and proud and honored to shout “WE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY MUST END ALZHEIMER’S” from the rooftops every singe day.  You see, me and Coach, we are determined to help create a world without this horrific disease.

But I do still love children, I do still read obsessively, and putting it all together, I do still adore children’s books!!

Today, at Reasor’s (the Oklahoma version of HEB for all my Texas peeps), I bought my new favorite book:

Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss

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The title and it’s similarity to my Angel Girl, Maci, grabbed my attention.  On top of that, I could not understand how I have never heard of this Dr. Seuss tale.  Obviously, I had to have it.

And now I love it!

The story is precious, about a beautiful little girl who discovers something different about herself, has to deal with the fallout when everyone panics over her being different, and then realizes that she’s lovable and valued and proud to be herself [and grow daisies on her head] after all.

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But the main reason that it’s my new favorite is because just before bed my Coach and my Angel Girl stood by my side and looked over my shoulder while I read this book aloud to them.  No phones in the room to distract, no TV’s with which to compete, just the three of us standing in the kitchen while I read Dr. Seuss out loud.

For me, that was a perfect moment.

The icing on the cake is the historical information about Mayzie and Dr. Seuss at the end of the book…which explains why I had not ever heard of this treasure.

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The sprinkles on top of the icing on top of the cake?  I get to read it all over again.

To my SonShine!

The next time he is home 🙂

Yes, he is now 20 years old.

Yes, he’s a big, strong, rough and tough football player.

Yes, he’s an uber-busy college student.

But he’s listened to me read 100’s of books out loud, and he’s a good sport, and he’s the world’s best son, so I know – just as Coach and Angel Girl did tonight – he will indulge me with this one: my new favorite book!

Love and hugs,

Ashli

*  PS: please click here if you would like to support my efforts to #END ALZ –

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  A.

A Decrease in “I” and “Me”

This year I am serving as President for the National Charity League, Inc. Tulsa Midtown Chapter (an incredible mother-daughter organization that has blessed both my Angel Girl and myself tremendously!).

Being the obsessive reader that I am, I decided to create a “One Board, One Book” study for my executive officers to read together, one chapter at a time over the summer and fall. The book I chose is Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown.

It is a phenomenal book, and so far my greatest challenges to reading it have been 1.) to NOT highlight nor underline every single word, and 2.) to read only the chapter assigned when I really, really want to buzz right through to the end.

This month we are reading Chapter 1, ‘Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”‘ which oddly enough goes hand-in-hand with the fictional story I read yesterday by Cecelia AhernThe Book of Tomorrow.

If you’ve read or watched PS, I Love You, then you are familiar with this adorable and uber-talented writer and her skill for engaging and not letting go until the final page. (I also LOVE If You Could See Me Now!!)

The Book of Tomorrow is about Tamara, a teenager who can best be illustrated by Brene’ Brown’s description of how many young people are perceived today:

  • Always me, me, me
  • Thinks she’s better than everyone and is always putting other people down
  • Self-absorbed, grandiose…only interested in power, success, beauty, and being special
  • So entitled that [she believes] that [she’s] superior even when [she’s] not really contributing or achieving anything of value

But as Ms. Brown goes on to explain in Chapter 1, Tamara is acting out against the world for much more heartbreaking reasons that are “underpinned by shame.”

Brene’ cautions against diagnosing and labeling “narcissism” as such behavior on our part is “normally served with a side of contempt, anger, and judgement.”  And she reminds us that “we don’t ‘fix it’ by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness.”

This part of the book immediately brought to mind how Coach – the most patient human I know – is always coaching with love, respect, and encouragement.  Whereas I am wayyyy too quick to form an opinion (i.e., judge others), he is a great listener, and his delay in assuming things about people allows him to see through the insecurities and vulnerabilities that they are carrying around with them.  He is able to see the world through different eyes and from varied viewpoints, empathize, and show compassion for past experiences and challenges which opens the door to the best relationships.

Luckily, Tamara has her own Coach in Sister Ignatius, someone who sees past her defenses and hatred, someone patient and compassionate to give her time and space to grow.  And within that growth, Tamara naturally develops a decrease in “I” and “me” while learning that her actions and behavior do have consequences:

“…it obviously depended on how I lived the day when I awoke. The future hadn’t been written yet. It was still in my hands.”

I could go on and on (you probably feel as though I already have), but I’ll stop so that you can enjoy both books for yourself.  Just know that when you get to page 25 of Daring Greatly, I have personally felt each and every “Never Enough” tape listed as well as many, many more, so if you, too, feel like Brene’ Brown is speaking directly to you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I have to share this pic…it’s a beautiful mom and her precious daughter also reading by the pool yesterday, together and without an electronic device in sight.  It warmed my heart tremendously ❤

There’s an App for That

Many months ago – like 7 of them! – I was invited to join the #WalkiePosse team on the Charity Miles app to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

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I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and that’s as far as I got.

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Yes, I am sad to confess that I contributed exactly ZERO of my team’s 12,745 total miles.  Which means that my 78 team members are responsible for approximately $3,186.25 in donations to the Alzheimer’s Association while I was responsible for ZILCH 😦

But today, I started walking.

And I liked it!

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(That is the actual beach in Hawaii where I walked today.  Not a bad site for a stroll!)

The app is a free download, and the donations are made by sponsors such as Brooks Running, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, Garmin, and many more.

All it takes is tapping <Start Workout> when beginning a walk, run, or bicycle ride. (That’s the part that it took me so ridiculously long to remember to actually do – grrrr!)

And then press the <Finish> button when the work is done.

If you walk your dog, jog for exercise, or bike for fun, please consider joining our team: #WALKIEPOSSE to help #ENDALZ.  Or start your own team to support causes that are near and dear to you.

How fun that there’s an app for that!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: I also truly believe that I should receive triple credit for today’s workout as walking in the surf was 3x more difficult than the normal walk around the block…just saying!!

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How can I help?

How can I help?

This seems like such an innocent question, right??

It is always asked with the best of intentions from someone who would not be asking if they did not mean it.

And yet…I realized over the last year that it is often a tough question to answer.

That epiphany has put me on a quest for what I call a “tangible call to action.”

Anyone who is currently serving on a board, committee, or planning panel with me is very likely already sick to death of me saying “tangible call to action,” but I’m not giving up anytime soon.

I believe that if we are accepting assistance – and I can NOT survive without it! – then the person offering that assistance deserves a clear, concise response that includes a tangible call to action.

First of all, not providing a tangible call to action is disrespectful of the gift of a person’s time.  Without specific directives, one can not lend a helping hand, thus offering to do so is a waste of everyone’s time.  Harsh, but TRUE.

Secondly, many people simply want to serve as a worker bee.  They do not want to share in the big picture, the vision, or the scope of a project; they simply want to do a little manual labor to lighten the load, feel a sense of accomplishment, and move on with their day their life.  They can only accomplish this if they’ve received a tangible call to action.  Seriously, I can’t expect someone to DO anything if I can’t tell them what needs to be DONE!

Lastly, if committee members, helpers, and volunteers do not have a checklist – a tangible call to action – which can be physically checked off as they go, then they feel unwanted, unneeded, and unnecessary.  As the leader of the group, I know that is far, far from the truth, but if I have not given out the tools needed to work with me, then that is the message I have sent.  And just like an accidental email, that message is out there forever.  I cannot take it back.

Sooooo…I’m putting my rantings into reality.

Last year, many – as in NUMEROUS – wonderful friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, and family members asked how they could help as Coach and I chaired the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Sadly, I did not have a quick reply, a workable answer, nor a tangible call to action.

Because I was unprepared to lead them, their offer fell on deaf ears, and while some hung around to enjoy the event for themselves, many others felt unwanted, unneeded, and unnecessary which means they moved on to other endeavors.

Well, I do WANT help, NEED help, and REQUIRE help to make this year’s event what it should be!!

I’ll be doing a much better job of providing specific – and tangible – calls to action, and here is my first:

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Please join me for our 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Volunteer Kick Off Party which is coming up on April 12th. It’s from 6-8:30 in the evening at the Hardesty Regional Library – Pecan Meeting Room (8316 E. 93rd Street). When you asked how to help last year, we didn’t have great answers. This year we are working to make that an easier process.

The planning committee “leads” will be on hand to share their “piece of the pie” in producing the Walk.  Perhaps you are passionate about outreach, possibly you could help us organize recruiting and awareness events, maybe you’d like to assist with the logistics on Walk day…whatever your flavor, however much time and energy you are able to contribute, you can find the perfect place to serve.

You’re not committing to anything by attending the kickoff, so please come on out if you can!!

For more information and to RSVP for the orientation, contact Rebekah at the Alzheimer’s Association Tulsa Office: 918-392-5000 or via email at readams@alz.org.

Of course, you can always reach out to me, too, and I promise to have a ready response which includes a tangible call to action 😉

See you on the 12th!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Spring Break 2018

Spring Break 2018 was truly a great one!

Me and Coach and the kids enjoyed a positively perfect week of relaxing family time…

We made it to Spring Training for our Houston Astros:

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We spent some quality time on the beach, which included reading:

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And practicing a little yoga:

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And, of course, playing some catch:

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We didn’t set a morning alarm for 5 straight days, and we spent the evenings playing cards, enjoying movies, and simply slowing down for a few minutes to take a deep breath and enjoy being together as a family.

Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s Association was having quite a week itself, both in Washington as well as in Oklahoma…

  • Oklahoma HJR 2014, a resolution presented to the House by Representative Cyndi Munson and to the Senate by Senator Ervin Yen​ was passed by both the Oklahoma House and Senate declaring Alzheimer’s a Public Health Crisis in Oklahoma.  This may seem like a small step, but in actuality it’s a big leap in the right direction!
  • Oklahoma HB 2514 has been approved by the Floor Leader, Senator Greg Treat, to move to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for consideration. This is the bill that I was advocating to get passed when I spent a day at the capital in OKC.  That day we witnessed government in action as Representative Cyndi Munson and Senator Ervin Yen introduced the bill, and it passed the House vote with flying colors.  Now it will move to committee and from there to the state Senate for final vote…#VoteYESonHB2514

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  • On Tuesday, March 20th, the Alzheimer’s Association released their 2018 Facts and Figures.  This annual report is an update on where we stand in fighting this disease, and while the death toll and diagnosis rates have only gone up, knowledge is power; therefore, it is critically important that we read, understand, and share all we know…#Every65Seconds.
  • On Wednesday, March 21st, the U.S. Congress, in its final appropriations negotiations for fiscal year 2018, included a $414 million increase for Alzheimer’s and dementia research in its spending plan for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and today, Friday, March 23rd, it was finalized and signed into law.  Oklahomans should be very proud of Representative Tom Cole who is a major voice on our behalf, one of our very best national advocates to #endALZ, and a driving force behind this historic budget victory.  This brings annual research funding to $1.8 billion which is knocking on the door of the $2 billion per year that scientists have said is necessary to eliminate this disease.  Please, please take 30 seconds to thank your congressional representatives for supporting this critical funding bill:  Click here to send an email of thanks.
  • Last – but certainly not least – the Alzheimer’s Association is very excited to announce that another one of our priorities — Kevin and Avonte’s Law — has been signed into law. Kevin and Avonte’s Law reauthorizes the Missing Americans Alert Program to help local law enforcement officials quickly identify people with Alzheimer’s who wander and reunite them with their families.

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If you are already receiving Alzheimer’s updates and information, I am sure you’ve been grinning at your inbox just like I have this week.  If you aren’t getting the updates, please join AIM, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.  It involves only a $20 annual membership fee, and we need you as a member.  The greater the number who join, the clearer the message to Congress that America deserves and demands that we as a nation properly care for those living with Alzheimer’s, that we actively support their caregivers, and that we make finding treatments and then a cure a top priority.

Well, friends, I will step off my soapbox and leave you with my heartfelt hope that you, too, have had a fabulous Spring Break 2018…and maybe a few ocean outtakes 😉

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Love and hugs,

Ashli

New Year. New Walk. Let’s Go!

It’s January 11th, and if you are anything like me, you are watching your nice, new, neat-and-clean calendar begin to fill. Quickly!!

One date you should need to save is Saturday, September 15th.  Make plans now to join me and Coach for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For the second year we are serving as Walk chairs, and the Walk again takes place on the grounds at the University of Tulsa and is followed by Coach’s 4th Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Game versus Arkansas State University.

Just like the clean slate that was my calendar, the new year means that we start from scratch on our Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising and team building.  Our TEAM SANDRA JEAN site is up and running and ready for you to join and donate.

Please click to here to get started:  http://act.alz.org/goto/MommaMonty

One of my very favorite moments of 2017 was October 14th when our Tulsa Walk passed the $1 Million fundraising mark:

 

This year our Tulsa goal is $1.25 Million in fundraising, 500 Walk teams, and 5000 participants.

I quiver a bit typing those numbers, but I know they are totally do-able.

WITH YOUR HELP!

Please start your Walk efforts soon – in fact, start NOW, with me.  By us starting this early, we can reach more people, we can invite a greater number of community members, friends, and family to participate, and we can increase awareness of this devastating disease exponentially.

Another one of my most favorite moments of 2017 was our Walk day on September 23rd.  Here are just a few pics that illustrate what an absolutely amazing day it was:

Working to #endALZ so these precious kids never have to become caregivers!

SonShine and ClaraBelle posing “with” Coach

Angel Girl started a Cascia Hall Walk team for her school, and her sweet friends were a huge support…

…and of course they made a cute shirt!

Aunt Sister and Aunt Angela enjoying the Walk

My brother-like-cousin, Cody, his wife, Jill, and their spunky Miss M posing for me with their son, W, and Uncle Shaun (my baby brother) in the back

Uncle Charles and our beautiful Alyssa along the Walk route

Thousands of Walkers came out, including their adorable pups!!

What a sight!! This one really overwhelms me ❤

Thank YOU to all of our fabulous volunteers!

Yes, we do!!

Hoping for that 1st Survivor and millions more to follow the first.

I still get chills and tears when I scroll through those, and I am already fired up and looking forward to our 2018 event!!

Hope to see you registered at www.TulsaWalk.org and I will definitely see you on September 15th 🙂

With love and hugs,

Ashli

Turning 43

This week I shall turn 43.

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It ain’t pretty.

Spanx have become a staple.

The white glistens in my hair within about 20 minutes of dying it dark.

I’m drooping, sagging, and flopping in places that one should never droop, sag, nor flop.

Sometimes, when I walk past a mirror, I do not even recognize that the reflection is me.  Don’t even get me started on if I accidentally walk past a mirror unclothed!

I have only one ovary, just one functioning knee, and at least one trip to the restroom per night.

My eyes have been repaired, and my uterus has been removed.

My esthetician is on speed dial, I use my eye cream religiously, and I am not above miracle cures for sun spots and wrinkles.

Its true: I am not going down with much grace.

But I am going down with a fight.

I am doing everything possible to retain the health of my body as well as my brain…

I continue my yoga practice and attend a class at Barre 3 as much as my schedule and knee allow.

I strive to eat healthy and have studied and learned enough about my nutrition that when I do splurge, it is my decision and a conscience choice.

I cook and clean and read and sew and stay active, and I get plenty of sleep each week.

I say my prayers, count my blessings, and sing praises for this amazing life which I have been gifted.

I advocate and work towards a world without Alzheimer’s so that I may remember this life until its end.  And so that my children may enjoy the final years that we are together.

One way in which I am making a different in the fight against Alzheimer’s is with my membership in the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.  I have written once before about AIM, so I will not rehash the who, what, and how, but I will revisit the why…

To begin, you need to know the basic process for affecting large-scale medical advancement in America:

-> Local events educate small groups who begin to share what they have learned which becomes part of regional conversation.

-> The small groups and those concerned across the country unite to become a large, national voice.

-> Elected officials hear the large voice and become aware of broad-based concern through advocacy efforts.

-> Legislators fund impactful research.

-> High level, innovative, creative, and critical research paves the way to treatment and cures.

Over the past 50 years, this process has provided major developments in the treatment and survival of cancer, breast health, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS though political action groups and advocacy organizations.

It is imperative that this process now take hold in the battle to end Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement is the platform that will get it done.

There is strength in numbers.  The work that AIM has done in conjunction with local efforts through the Alzheimer’s Association has procured big budget gains in ALZ research through the NIH over the past few years.  The greater our numbers, the louder our voice, the louder our voice, the stronger the pressure, the stronger the pressure, the more likely legislators are to support, the more supportive the legislators, the more that gets approved, the more that gets approved, the bigger the steps forward, the bigger the steps forward, the sooner we have some way – some chance – of fighting this disease.

Sadly, we are still terribly underfunded and way, way behind.

So, here is my birthday wish:

Help me celebrate my birthday.

I ask that you take a quick 5 minutes and just $20, and please use this link to join AIM with me: AIM Membership Referral.

It is an annual membership, so I will be sure to remind you to renew next year…

You know, when I turn 44 and hopefully have no additional “signs of aging” to report 😉

With love and hugs,

Ashli (age 42 + 362 days)

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