I went up a local trail yesterday and really enjoyed the challenge.  The snow was very deep, but the trail had thankfully been packed by a snowshoer probably on the weekend and I wore my microspikes.  When I stepped off the trail to gain traction on a very steep part, I sank to my upper thigh.  The crust was very hard in places, but softer in other places and I did posthole a few times.

I arrived after about 3 miles of climbing to a beautiful view eastward which I have enjoyed many times in every season.  The sun had just gone over the ridge as I pulled on my jacket and headed back down the mountain.  

I stopped at another viewpoint to the north on my way down the mountain.  The sun’s golden glow reflected on snowy Lincoln and Lafayette mountains, Mt. Washington, and likely Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.  I reached the trailhead at just about dark and reminded myself that I must take a flashlight every time in the winter.  

Though I mostly hiked up, I was able to do a slow trot on some spots as I descended the uneven trail, frequently getting thrown off balance by holes and ice chunks.  Poles would have been helpful, but I was afraid that my hands would have been cold holding them.  

This is the very trail that a lady yelled at me a few years ago in shorts weather “you shouldn’t be going alone – it’s dangerous!”   If I had to find a friend every time I wanted to run or hike a mountain, I would never get out the door.  

Winter hiking and trail running does require special preparation.  At a minimum, take extra clothes, a light, and a way to communicate in case of injury.  Or leave a note so that your relative or friend knows exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.  A GPS unit is preferred over a cell phone.  Plan shorter outings, know the trail and route and how long it will take to complete it.  Prepare for ice and don’t be afraid to turn around and go back if trail conditions deteriorate.  Don’t step off the trail when the snow is deep.  Avoid avalanche terrain.  This is an incomplete safety list.  Consult winter hiking guides or seek to learn from organizations that train individuals for winter hiking.

Winter – Are you ready?

The winter solstice was December 21, 2022 and now the days are actually getting longer. I won’t notice this until about late January. Meanwhile, the days are cold and the sun is at a low angle. The ground and roads are frozen. In New Hampshire, any day could bring a severe winter storm. I have a snow shovel and extra clothes in my car.

The new year is on the way and many people are thinking about goals for the upcoming year. Health goals are common to set. But how does one go about achieving a health goal?

First, pick something that is very achievable. I want to lose 50 pounds might be unrealistic. If you pick a smaller goal and achieve that goal, you can build on that with a further reaching goal.

Second, pick something that is very important to you and that you are willing to commit time and effort into achieving.

Third, pick a way to be accountable to your goal. Write it down and review it daily, tell a friend or family member, enlist a friend or neighbor to help you in small ways.

Fourth, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve your health goal. Either pick a smaller goal or a different goal and TRY AGAIN. Keep trying until you have success.

Good luck!

Black flies

The daffodils finished blooming, the phoebes and the hummingbirds arrived on time, and then so did the black flies and mosquitos.  

Black flies and mosquitoes are the bane of country living in the northern parts of the U.S.  Everyone knows about mosquitoes, but only rural northerners experience black flies, unless you happen to visit during black fly season.  Black flies pack a bloody bite which itches terribly.  They swarm on you by the hundreds flying in your mouth, nose and eyes.  

Black flies hatch just when the weather is reliably enjoyable to wear shorts while you work in your yard, or try to sit in the sun and read a book.  They are especially bad if the day is humid and calm.

The general time period for black fly season is Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.  Wearing light colored clothing and covering every single part of your body is helpful.  Tucking in your shirt to your pants and tucking your pants into your socks can help prevent bites.  You can try a headnet or a hat with a brim and a sweatshirt hoodie.   All of these might be helpful, but they are terribly hot and can cause crabbiness!  

For years, I did not spend as much time outside as I wanted due to being tormented by the black flies and mosquitoes.  I have opened up my forested property a bit so that there is more breeze, more sun and a few less bugs.  I am also more judicious about which times to go and do outside things.

Moving around creates a breeze and so is helpful to avoid being swarmed.  I adopt the attention deficit gardening disorder in which I work in one area doing one task for a few minutes and then I move to another area and do a completely different task.  It is hard to break this habit once the black flies and mosquitoes have died out for the summer.  I sometimes have to run to get away from the bugs!

Getting outside on a daily basis and doing the things you enjoy is a great way to feel healthier and enjoy yourself at the same time.  

I wish you many happy sunny days!


The daffodils popped up three inches tall last week, no blooms yet, and then dastardly cold weather and snow came back after the first day of spring and the daffodils just paused, waiting.

Spring is an exciting time for many people, including me.  I see, think, feel and smell the possibilities of fun in the sun, gardening, activities to come and the days suddenly get very busy.  I dream about returning to leisurely swims in the local lake.

Compared to winter, there is always something that I could be doing outside in the spring:  raking, digging, planting, making new garden beds, cutting, moving, splitting and stacking wood for winter, weeding, walking the dogs, running, flower and bird watching, and exploring my favorite local mountains.

Seeing the miracle of daffodils returning every spring is wonderful and heartening as the ground wakes up and the promise starts again of another new beginning.  I am very thankful to be able to experience this continual change of seasons not only in my yard, but on my favorite local trails and overlooks.  

Examining a daffodil or your favorite flower, it is obvious that we do not live in a random universe here on planet Earth.  A great Artist and Creator has made all these beautiful flowers, as well as other beautiful natural things that continually bring joy to your life.  When you wake up every day, when you see a very lovely flower or appreciate a pink hued sunset, give some thought to your Creator.

Wishing you the very best! Claire

Fall Back

Fall Back – a way to remember the time change from daylight savings time to standard time.

Fall – a beautiful crisp season in which the tree leaves turn colors and fall from the trees.

Fall – an accident that adults dread.

Fall proof – is there such a thing?  

I am fairly clumsy and tend to fall frequently.  Luckily, I have never been seriously injured.  The worst fall was probably when I was about 20 miles along on a long race in Utah.  I tripped on a tiny rock on a flat dirt trail and went flying.  I skinned my hands, forearms, and knees, and somehow broke a rib too.  I finished the 50 kilometer portion of the race, but dropped from the 100 mile race.

I am sure that my plantar fasciitis played a role in that fall as my feet were really hurting prior to the fall.

The scariest fall was when I tripped on my poles in the dark on a trail while running the Hardrock 100 in Colorado.  I went head over heels and imagined I was careening off a cliff as it was happening.  Thankfully and happily, I found myself on my back in the grass.  

The most embarrassing fall was while crossing a sidewalk in Concord, New Hampshire.  I remember asking a nurse mentor 22 years ago about my propensity for falling and she advised me to get myself checked out.  However, I did not.  

In October this year, I fell on my hip and shoulder due to some very slippery leaves while trying to hang laundry out on a hill.  Just bruises as a result.

One approach I could take would be to never do anything risky.  But that would make life very boring.  I do not live in fear of falling or getting hurt.  However, I could start a balance exercise routine and that might help.

Good balance is combination of stable ground under my feet, and several parts of my body working well:   inner ear, blood pressure, muscles, and feet.  Another approach would be to work on balance specific exercises.  

Working on balance is not something that I have ever done in the past.

I will choose to focus on my feet because that is likely where I will be able to make the most improvement given what I know about myself and because I think the issue is probably originating in my feet. 

If you are having balance issues, consult your primary care doctor for an evaluation as there are some medical issues that can result in poor balance and medical treatment may be needed.  

I will set out some very specific goals for myself to achieve that are attainable, measurable, realistic and time limited.  

I started this blog post on the weekend of the fall time change, but because I am very talented at procrastination and starting a new routine each day is difficult to do, I did not start on my foot balance exercises.  

Then last week while I was running up a local mountain trail, I lost my balance twice and my feet ended up in the cold mountain stream.  I resolved to get started…

Mandate broccoli

Mandate broccoli. Mandate running. Mandate eight hours of sleep. I am guessing that you might disagree with some of these mandates. Broccoli might not taste good to you. You hate running or say you are unable to run. Sleep is unable to be controlled so you lay in bed awake for part of your eight hours. You can see that health related mandates can be ridiculous.

It’s your choice. It’s your health. What do you want to achieve or maintain? What is important to you? Maintaining or improving health is a matter of choices most of the time. A healthy diet, regular exercise, a little sunshine, some smiles, and positive interactions with others can help you be a healthier person, whatever your circumstance. And you might feel better.

You have likely heard this advice. Eat a varied diet of vegetables, grains, proteins and some fruit. Try to stay away from processed foods, if possible. Get regular exercise each day to start by just incorporating it into your daily routine, like walking your dog, taking the stairs, parking farther away. Get together with friends or family and enjoy each other’s company.

Sounds so easy. Why did I become a nurse health coach then? Every single person is an individual unique person with their own way of being. I can’t wait to meet you!

Nursing and Change

I’ve been a registered nurse since 1999.  Nursing is a very interesting and flexible career.

Starting out as an LPN, I cared for pediatric patients with a trach and ventilator at home.  As an RN, I started in labor and delivery because my ultimate goal was to become a nurse midwife.  However, that did not work out, so I changed direction entirely and went to a medical/surgical unit, then to an adult psychiatric unit, where I worked for 13 years.  Finally, tired of working nights, I went to work in care management five days a week, arranging complex discharges for pediatric patients.  

Now I am self-employed.

There are so many rules, guidelines, mandates, and constant changes in a hospital, additionally, very ill patients and complex treatments.  It is both stressful and challenging in a satisfying way, to assist and participate with patients and families to help them get them out of the hospital.  

Abiding by all the rules one hopes that there is a reason for the rule that is helpful to patients, for instance, to promote health and safety and prevent injury or death.  

Once a mandate is handed down, it is a normal response to wonder why.  There are questions.  Why does it have to be a mandate?  On what information was this mandate based?  Who made the mandate?  Who benefits?  Who suffers?  

For an example, all healthcare workers know that you must do hand hygiene prior to going into a patient’s room, but it is a superhuman feat to achieve 100% compliance, because we are all humans and things happen, such as emergencies or forgetfulness, in addition to technical challenges monitoring compliance.  

As far as I know, health care workers are not fired for lower than 100% compliance with hand hygiene.

It was the mandate that made me think critically about both health care mandates and working in the hospital.

I worked with wonderful people.  It was both exciting and sad to leave.  Exciting to plan and execute the change to self-employment and sad to leave a job I was really good at and also had great working relationships.  A very large number of co-workers were also sad to see me leave.

Change is constant in nursing.  Back to basics is really okay.  Hello, Florence Nightingale!

Thinking or Overthinking

I am very goal oriented. However, like many, I tend to make a quick judgment and then have to stop go back and think about my first thought or reaction. So when is thinking effective or does it become overthinking?

Take a crazy “health” goal of mine from the distant past. I got it in my head that I wanted to run a hundred mile race, not win, just finish. My first thought was that is crazy, “I can’t do that!” Well, that could have defeated me right there and I would not have gotten any further along to meeting the goal that I wanted to try to achieve.

So I thought and I read and read and tried to figure out how a person could actually do this thing – run a hundred miles. After all that reading and planning and practicing running, I approached my first race not knowing if I would be able to complete the goal.

While preparing to run a hundred miles was an okay time to overthink things without too much problem – running gives you time to think after all. Overthinking while in a hundred mile race is problematic. The runner must focus on very simple things: the overall plan of constant forward motion, eating, drinking, using some distraction techniques for pain, getting over the hill or mountain ahead of you.

Purposefully not overthinking is actually very satisfying. Make a simple goal, take steps to achieve that goal. Whoops, didn’t make it, try again a little differently this time.

Think about your thinking when trying to achieve a health goal.