Me in the Middle ~ 9/11 Poem



I discovered a poem I wrote on September 22, 2001 so I thought I’d share it:



If we see life a bit clearer and appreciate its beauty
and glory alongside its horror and sorrow ~
They have not died in vain.

If we’ve reached out to those we love and
opened our hearts a bit more in trust ~
They have not died in vain.

If we’ve learned beyond a doubt that politics and religion
can be dividers of people as well as reconcilers of people ~
They have not died in vain

If we now know that God’s grace and love resides in the
hearts of individuals regardless of race, creed or country ~
They have not died in vain.

Freedom or fear; Love or fear; Courage or fear ~
Everyday battles fought in everyday lives.

If we can believe that the way we live our lives;
The way we treat each other;
And the way we respond to hatred and evil
will bring about change in this world ~
Then they have not died in vain.

~ Mary Lou ~

(Dedicated to the Victims and Families of September 11, 2001)


Photo by Thomas E. Franklin, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Me in the Middle is Still Blogging

Just stopping by to say I’m still blogging!

I’ve slowed down a bit and really miss my connection with all of you. I miss my creative flow too! So, if you stop by and don’t see any recent posts, please, please don’t give up on me. I will be back!

Some good things going on in my life are visiting the beautiful Shenandoah National Park and taking fantastic photos.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And I’ve been doing some sketching while relaxing on a friend’s back porch that overlooks a natural pond. He has birds building their nests in his Boston Ferns (and also in the birdhouse). There’s a Blue Heron that visits down by the water’s edge and we’re hoping to get a pic of him so I can try a sketch.



I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. It’s a great time to take a break from social media and enjoy the great outdoors.

I’ll Be Back!



Me in the Middle of Sleep and Dream Patterns as We Age

Sleep and Dream Patterns as We Age

This was the Spring course I chose out of the course offerings for OLLI Osher Lifesong Learning Institute at the University of Virginia. My being diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnea OSA has peaked my interest in all things sleep. A very interesting topic!

The course was taught by Dr. Douglas E. DeGood  (UVA Pain Management Center, the Behavioral Medicine Center, and the UVA Sleep Center prior to his retirement in 2014)

“The course will begin with a description of the
biology and psychology of normal sleep and how
sleep and dream patterns change with age. Subsequent
topics include sleep disorders such as sleep apnea,
treatments for sleep disorders including risks associated with sleep medications, and cognitive-behavioral strategies for improving sleep.”

Dr. DeGood gave each of us his CD on Basic Self-Relaxation Exercises ~ BMW RELAX. (The BMW stands for Breathing, Muscle Relaxation and Warming). We learned the importance of deep breathing exercises and how it relates to increasing the oxygen levels in the body and the relaxation of the muscles. Practicing this off and on during the day and then using the technique as you’re falling asleep. I found it interesting that when I used the oximeter to check my oxygen level I could actually see the level rise when I used the deep breathing technique. I could also feel the warming and tingling in my hands and feet as I fell off to sleep.

Breathing Exercise


Two key figures in the history of sleep science of Sleep Apnea were:

Henri Gastaut who described Sleep Apnea as a significant sleep issue in 1965 and

William Dement who established the first dedicated Sleep Disorders Center in 1970

This is an interesting interview: William Dement Interview with Arianna Huffington

How did the focus shift to sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most serious and one of the most prevalent sleep disorders, and it was described for the first time in 1965 in Europe. But it was completely ignored by American pulmonologists. (Dement)

I learned that Arianna Huffington had an interest in Sleep Apnea because she has it and she experienced a very painful wake-up call about the importance of sleep. Here’s a Ted video I found where she emphasizes that:

“We are literally going to sleep our way to the top, literally”


This history of Sleep Science ranges from Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen in ancient times up to Freud (1900), Berger (1924), Kleitman (1925), Loomis (1937), Dement (1954), Lerner (1958), Halberg (1959), Gestaut (1965) and Dement (1970).

Statistics on Frequency of Sleep Problems: National Sleep Foundation Poll, 2011

  • 54% of adults experienced at least one symptom of insomnia a few nights a week.
  • 33% report having an insomnia symptom almost every night in the past year.
  • 18 million adults estimated to be affected by respiratory sleep apnea, 59% of those who report snoring.
  • 12 million adults estimated to be affected by restless leg syndrome
  • Narcolepsy affects 1 in 2,000 adults.
  • Vague definitions of sleep disorders may lead to overestimation of the problem. Most important question should be: How much does your sleep negatively impact your daily functioning and overall quality of your life?

While the class covered many different aspects of sleep, it was clear that the instructor considered sleep apnea worthy of more attention. Sleep Apnea has been found to be present in all ages and affects the quality of life. Practicing healthy sleep habits can help to buffer the severe affects of undiagnosed Sleep Apnea although more awareness is needed to encourage people to get tested and receive treatment.

Some Practices Conducive to Good Sleep

  • Try to sleep only when you are drowsy. Allow a period of “winding down” for at least 30 minutes prior to trying to sleep.
  • If you are unable to fall asleep or return to sleep after a reasonable length of time, leave your bedroom and engage in quiet activity elsewhere. Return to your bed only when you are sleepy.
  • Maintain a regular bed time, but more importantly a regular arise time, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes or less. Do not try to make up for lost night time sleep during the day.
  • Learn to use physical and mental relaxation techniques to relax your body and distract your mind.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Do not smoke during the night.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages within 3 hours of bedtime. Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, but can disrupt sleep later in the night.
  • Avoid foods before bedtime that rich fatty or can trigger indigestion or heartburn that can disrupt sleep.
  • Exercise regularly to promote good sleep during the day, but not within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day.
  • Minimize light, noise and extremes in temperature in the bedroom.

Sweet dreams

I enjoyed the course and learned a lot. There wasn’t enough covered on Dream Patterns and what they tell us. I’m hoping there will be a follow-up where this area is covered more fully.


Me in the Middle on a Virtual Sketchwalk

For the months of March, April and May ~ I’ve been traveling!

Virtual Traveling!

Virtual Reality, Consciousness, Reality

Image by Pixabay

Virtual Sketchwalk is a Facebook Page with 849 (and growing) members.  At the beginning of each month, the Admin ~ Kate Powell ~ posts around 100 plus photographs of interesting places, local and foreign.  Sketchwalks involve a group of artists who meet up at a specific location and spend time sketching together at that location. Virtual Sketchwalk brings together artists who might not be able to travel yet still can enjoy sketching and learning about the area.  It gives us a chance to practice our skills and then share our artwork with each other on Facebook.  Each of us can choose from the photographs and we can sketch as many as we want.  It’s fun to see the different interpretations that evolve from each person.

My previous post on the Virtual Sketchwalk for December, January and February  is HERE.


March ~ Tasmania Australia

March 2019 Ross Tasmania 2

Sketch by Mary Lou

March 2019 Tasmania B #1

Sketch by Mary Lou

March 2019 Tasmania E

Sketch by Mary Lou


Sketch by Mary Lou

April Virtual Sketchwalk was People Sketching and I didn’t participate.  I was doing the The A to Z Blog Challenge 2019

In May, we were all saddened by the fire that destroyed much of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. I was amazed that some of the beautiful stained-glass windows survived. When Kate chose Paris as our May Virtual Sketchwalk I seized the opportunity to take up the challenge and try to sketch the window. Now I can say I tried! It was not an easy challenge. 

May 2019 Paris~Notre Dame #2


May 2019 Notre Dame #4

Where will we go next?

Globe, Hand, Global, Concept, Abstract

Image by Pixabay