Author: Dorothy Sander

We All Need Support to Maintain Our Equilibrium

We All Need Support to Maintain Our Equilibrium

Support, given and received is essential to maintaining our equilibrium through life. I am not an optimistic person by nature. That’s my husband’s job. My job seems to be to temper his enthusiasm with a healthy dose of reality. It doesn’t always work. Some days he goes completely off the rails, and some days that’s my role to play. The best moments in our long and challenging marriage have been those moments when we pick up each other’s slack.  A perfect example of this took place recently.


Support makes a difference.

Several weeks ago, he informed me that he needed cataract surgery. No big deal by most people’s standards. Still, I am easily triggered by health issues, particularly his. He’s generally a very healthy individual, active and energetic. In some ways he runs circles around me. Like the tortoise and the hare, however, my slow and steady nature keeps up with his race to the finish line and we tend to both collapse at about the same time. Offering each other support along the way is more of a challenge.

When he told me about the scheduled procedure, I fell apart. By the time the moment arrived I was back on my game. I drove him to all of his appointments, gave him pep talks and encouragement when he needed them, managed meals and shopping and all the various chores while he slept off the anesthesia. I listened patiently while he described in great detail what he learned about the procedure and followed him around to make sure he was doing what he needed to do to keep his eye safe as it healed.


Next Step WorkshopThis morning he woke up healed and ready to go. So it was my turn to have a let down. I don’t know why I’m always surprised when it happens. We could set our clocks by this rhythm in our relationship. I had a good cry. He held me, listened to me, comforted me and now we’re back online. We were able to give each other the support we needed, when we needed it.

Everything about life happens by this very same rhythm and cycle. We’re up, then we’re down, then we’re even. Equilibrium. It’s one of my favorite words and has been since my days studying economics in college. As we strive to maintain our equilibrium from day-to-day, we often wish we didn’t have to endure the valleys, and yet without them the peaks would be less appealing. Equilibrium must be recognized as a guideline, not a goal, for it describes only things that are by their nature fluid.


Laughter makes the world a better place.

Having company along this up and down journey called life makes such a difference. We all benefit from support; from having someone laugh at our jokes, hold us when we are at a loss for words, listen to us vent and for whom we can return the favor. In fact, I believe we benefit from having several someones. Life is hard! It’s not for sissies, as they say.

The Aging Abundantly Community is fast becoming a place where members can go to find a bit of this sort of support. I hoped it would be like this when I started it, but you never know what chemistry will take place when you mix strangers together. Like previous experiences I’ve had with women of our ilk, I’m once again blown away by the caring, compassion, strength and courage that women display.

Please don’t go it alone. You don’t have to. If you have everything you need that’s wonderful. Good for you. But, if you don’t, if you could use an understanding friend, join us. Joining the community is absolutely free. An option for an enhanced membership that offers price breaks for workshops, books, and products is available for a nominal membership fee.

After all, even if you have a husband or partner, they can only do so much!




Andra Day


…In those moments, when things seem dark, unsettled, hopeless. . . when it seems there is nothing to look forward to, no purpose or goal yet to attain…I want nothing more than someone to convince me that the reverse is true. Today is not a dark day for me, but it may be for you and so I’m here to tell you,  “Do not despair, tomorrow the light will return to your life and you will see. If not tomorrow, then the next day or the next. But, it will return.  I promise. There is so much to live for. Hang on.”

How can I make that promise? Because I’ve had so very many dark days in my life; more than many and certainly not as much as others.  But today, in spite of it all, I feel the hope that keeps me going day by day. There is much to live for. The sun is shinning. The air is fresh and cold, rich with energy and potential. Like you. And like me. Let’s not leave a drop of it life on the table when it’s time to go. Let’s not miss a thing.


Starbucks gift card
My now-empty but very cute Starbucks Gift Card – compliments of my hubby (who needs to refill it, don’t you think?!)

So, I went to the dentist this morning to have two small cavities filled. No big deal. The good news is the dentist’s office is right next door to Starbucks, so a Caramel Macchiato would be my reward and motivation to get through it and back to work.

When I left the office and tried to order my coffee – I had a whole lot of trouble with the “m” on Machiato, but the person taking my order got the message. I had not anticipated the effects of the Novocaine until I tried to speak. My entire top lip, including my nose (!) is numb. Overkill, though I am grateful for the absence of pain! I also did not anticipate how difficult it would be to drink coffee without an upper lip!

Now more than hour later my coffee has grown cold and I still can’t drink it with any sort of success. It’s not a pretty picture! Not to mention it’s now getting dangerously close to the time of day when I dare not drink coffee! The upside of my dilemma is that my teeth are all fixed and I did manage to nibble the scone into oblivion and write a note to you. All is well. My Starbucks will be reheated sooner or later.

BTW have you noticed that doctors, dentists, etc. are getting younger and younger every day?


baby quiltsMy son and his wife are expecting their first baby ~ our first grand-baby. It took me a little while to adjust to the shock – I was still recovering from their wedding and looking to my youngest son’s wedding in October. But, although the wedding seemed like it was just yesterday, it was a year and a half ago! Doctors are getting younger and time is speeding up!

I’ve decided that the nine months of waiting is just as beneficial to the grandparents as the parents – we all need time to acclimate and adjust. The baby is due mid-May and I’ve totally adjusted. In fact, I’m over the top excited. I”m sad that we’re 1,000 miles away and every day I think about how nice it would be to live in the same town and be with them through it all.

The grandma nesting instinct has kicked into overdrive and I’ve decided to take up a new hobby and make a quilt for our sweet Baby Sander, who, incidentally, is a boy.  I know a thing or two about sewing, although it’s been years since I’ve sat at a machine with any regularity, and I did a little quilting a hundred years ago. This, however, is the machine type which I have not done.  Still, I think I can do it and I’m eager to try.   I will try to post my progress in case you are interested in the quilt-as-you-go method.

I’m happy to say the Aging Abundantly Group on Facebook is going really well. We have great discussions about all sorts of things and lots of laughs. Facebook, as you may have heard, is changing things once again. The result is that pages, like the Aging Abundantly page, are dropping again in the algorithms. So even if you follow me there, you are less likely to see my posts. I’m debating whether or not to drop it. So, please, if you’re interested in connecting with me and the other members of Aging Abundantly, please join the group. It is closed and secret, so the only way in is through the link above. General membership is free, but you may want to consider the elite paid membership that offers discounts on workshops, books, and more. You can read about it here.


next step workshopUPCOMING WORKSHOPS

* Food for the Journey, Stop Fighting Your Weight – Start Finding Your Way

* Building Resilience – Practices to Keep You Bouncing Back Again and Again


By Joining the Facebook Group, or

By email


HOW TO TREAT ADRENAL FATIGUE – Recovering from Stress Overload

HOW TO TREAT ADRENAL FATIGUE – Recovering from Stress Overload

Learning how to treat adrenal fatigue is part science, part intuition and part trial and error. It requires that we tune into our body’s signals, learning as much as we can about interpreting them and then addressing the issues. This is best done by paying attention, noticing, charting, and working with a professional who can provide knowledge, objectivity and a course of treatment. Personal participation and commitment is the number one priority. Most of us need to restore our ability to listen to our senses and intuition, and trust them.


Before we can begin to treat adrenal fatigue we must alter the way we look at the healing process. In our culture we have been taught to hand over responsibility for our health to health care professionals. When we have a problem, our first course of action is to make an appointment with our doctor. Then, the doctor asks us a series of questions, pinpoints a problem, and either schedules further testing or writes a prescription, which we fill, take and wait. We play a very passive role in the healing process. Our body is also treated as if it is simply a passive recipient.


When addressing stress induced illnesses and conditions, of which adrenal fatigue is one. It is imperative to look at ourselves from a holistic viewpoint. What we most often forget in the current medical model is that our body wants to heal. Therefore, if we work with it instead of acting upon it we become better able to understand and see ourselves as a whole being, not just a lot of disparate parts.

Our body sends us signals. It is trying to call our attention to an area of concern. When we cooperate with these signals in a meaningful way, we are better able to support the healing process.  In the case of adrenal fatigue, the presenting symptoms are vague. A traditional medical practitioner will look for a specific problem. Common diagnosis include, IBS, depression, anxiety, acid reflux and/or blood pressure issues. Treatment of choice is an over the counter or prescription drug. We may gain some relief of symptoms but we treating secondary conditions does not address underlying cause(s).


There are two forces at work that impact our ability to recover and heal from adrenal overload. First, is our survival instinct that does everything it can to see that we survive. It’s less interested in whether or not we thrive. As an innate physiological response, the survival instinct and its physical responses (the adrenal system), react instantly to a perceived threat. Without any conscious, intentional help from us, our body instinctively and physiologically enters a state of fight, flight or flee. A life saving response in the right circumstances, it’s not such a good thing in modern times. We are bombarded daily with what our body and adrenal system perceives as threats of bodily harm, when in fact they are not. Our body doesn’t know the difference between the news and reality. It’s more about perceived danger than actual danger. This is where the mind comes into play.

Our minds have evolved to the point where they’ve become very adept at overriding our instinctual response. When we watch something that angers us on TV we don’t jump up and punch the TV. We may turn it off and go do something else. This is a healthier response but our body has already amped up adrenaline production, and, it takes time for it to dissipate. However, we move on to the next hit. And the next. Multiply this by a hundred times a day and our physiological response begins to work over time and our body becomes fatigued.  This fatigue often shows up as things like depression, weight gain or loss, aches and pains, susceptibility to viruses and colds, IBS, high blood pressure, etc.


Our body wants to heal. When we work with it, instead of against it, it’s a happy camper. To treat adrenal fatigue we must stop ignoring what it is telling us. In fact, we need to pay very close attention and learn to understand its language.  The days of “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” is over. That edict served its purpose for previous generations. We are smarter now. More aware and better informed. We can choose to do things differently and we must.


relaxing lavenderThe three most important tools at our disposal are:

  1. Develop an awareness of our body’s signals and what they mean
  2. Practice a lifestyle that includes rest, quiet and a stimulus free environment
  3. Support the body’s healing process with good nutrition and basic supplements


This takes time, attention and practice. It is necessary for most of us to obtain the support of a professional who can help us interpret our body’s signals. Scientifically based, there are patterns we can learn. For example, what you may be experiencing as lethargy may be a signal of mild food allergies. Or, intermittent low-grade depression may be a signal of an imbalance in the digestive system. Use of antibiotics and/or unbalanced food choices tend to lead to this problem.

If this sounds too complicated or overwhelming, don’t worry about it. What’s important right now is to begin paying attention to what you are doing and keeping track. Keep a journal of what you eat, how you feel, your sleep patterns and environmental influences. Pay attention to anything that repeats itself. For example:

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep or waking up?
  2. Or, always wake up at 3 a.m.?
  3. Do you have lows at particular times of day?
  4. What foods does your body reacts negatively to?

Keep a list. Your initial goal is simply to become more aware.


Our body, and our adrenal glands in particular, needs ample time to reestablish an equilibrium. How much rest and quiet is needed varies from person to person.  However, if you believe you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, or any kind of stress overload, take steps right away to begin modifying your life.  Begin today by adding just a little bit more rest and quiet into your daily routine.  This can be done by turning down the volume on the radio, turning off the TV, and turning your attention away from the news that pours in 24/7. Spend less time on social media and more time reading a good book or doing something creative. Spend more time outside with nature and less time driving, shopping and doing. It’s amazing what just a few simple steps can do to help your body heal.


We women think it’s our responsibility to hold up the world. In many ways it is. However, we must learn to hold ourselves up first. One of the best things to do to reduce stress is to associate with more positive, supportive people and spend less time with negative people. You can still listen to your troubled friend, just change the balance. For every hour with him/her, spend twice the time with someone who listens to you or with whom someone who is energizing.


At first it may be necessary to take drastic steps toward stress reduction in order to get back in touch with what it feels like to be relaxed. Most of us have forgotten. We also need to take drastic measures to provide ample support for the healing of the body.  Once we’ve repaired the damage we can add some stress back in. Returning to a high state of stress must ever be a priority as that was the cause of the problem in the first place!

Major, stubborn stressors such as a job, a marriage/relationship, caregiving, difficult children are not easy to turn off and may take time to change. Begin today by making yourself and your health a priority step by step.


It helps to think of the giant scales of justice when we begin to treat adrenal fatigue. One side of the scale is filled with things that stress us and drain our energy reserves. To begin to balance the scale we must add positive, healing practices and remove energy depleting, stress creating habits from the other. Bit by bit as we add in healthier food, more quiet time, healthful exercise (such as yoga, stretching and gentle exercise), more time in nature, more time doing what we enjoy doing, and less time pushing ourselves to do things that drain us, the scale will start to balance and we will start to feel better.


Once we understand the nature of adrenal fatigue, we must then accept that it takes time to heal. In order to keep adrenal fatigue at bay permanent lifestyle changes are necessary. There are no quick-fix solutions, but incremental changes can not only improve our quality of life physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

A personalized, one-step-at-a-time approach to overcoming adrenal fatigue is best done with the help and guidance of someone who understands the process. Long-standing, well-entrenched and often unconscious life-style habits of thought and behavior are in large part responsible for leading us into our adrenal crisis.

Coming Soon: Support for the Healing Journey

How to Find a Health Practitioner to Address Adrenal Fatigue

Helpful Dietary Changes to Support the Healing of Adrenal Fatigue

How to Chance a Stressful Life into A Life You Love



compassion fatigueAdrenal fatigue is a term that has been growing in popularity and use in recent years. As research dives deeper into the mind/body connection, patterns and connections are emerging. The signs of adrenal fatigue below is offered here to help raise awareness of the effects of stress on our bodies, particularly as we age. Years of high stress living may only begin to show up as signs of adrenal fatigue as we enter or fifties and sixties. Our body reaches a point where it can no longer cope with what we are asking of it.

There are a few things to consider as you read through the list of symptoms. First, please understand that the list provided is merely suggestive information and not a means of diagnosis.  Use this list to evaluate your current situation and ask yourself, a) have I been dealing with high levels of stress for extended periods of time and, b) have I taken sufficient time and care of myself for a complete recovery? Tune in to your body and pay attention to what you are feeling through the day for a week or more. See if any patterns emerge. Keep track in writing. Then seek the support of a healthcare professional. The ebb and flow of mood and energy levels throughout the day provide valuable information to professionals.

Finding the appropriate healthcare practitioner is important.  Traditional medical doctors are less willing to look at us as whole people, body/mind/spirit. They are trained to look for specific illnesses and diseases, and are not keen on looking at a large collection of symptoms and suggesting lifestyle and nutritional support. In addition, most of us have not established a sufficient broad relationship with our doctors. They haven’t the time to tale into consideration what is going on in our lives, and what has been going on for years.

Women are often told they are depressed, worry too much, need to lose weight and exercise, or just need a vacation. They are also often given drugs that only mask or complicate the healing process. We’ve learned not to trust our intuition and our body’s signals.  All traditional doctors are not the same. Some are very keen on a wholistic approach, others not so much. I have had great success working with a Naturopath.  She just looks at things the way I do, understands me, takes all the time I need and above all has helped me heal and become more resilient. Prescription drugs and expensive testing may be helpful but are not always necessary. (Contact me for some guidance on this if you are having difficulty.)

COMPASSION FATIGUE ~ A Specific Type & Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

I learned the signs of adrenal fatigue when I began researching my own symptoms after a particularly frustrating visit with my doctor. It was months after my mother had died and I was having difficulty getting back on my feet.  What I was experiencing was not,in my mind, simply grief.

signs of adrenal fatigue

My exhaustion was deep and physical, not just emotional. I was nearly non-functional, and nothing I did seemed to help. I knew about “burnout” and started my research there. This led me to “compassion fatigue”. It resonated and so I stopped my research and began viewing my predicament through this lens. It made perfect sense to me. Not only had I been caring for my mother, but gad previously spent considerable time caring for my husband after two accidents and a heart attack while raising my two sons through the teen years and into college. My husband and I were also business partners in a home based business that ran our lives 24/7. Yup. Burnout it was and I began to treat it as such with some improvements.

It was not until much later when I sought help from a non-traditional source, when a life complication knocked me back into exhaustion.  My doctor was not at all helpful, nor was talking therapy. I began working with Dr. Crystal Honeycutt, a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor and Registered Clinical Herbalist (AHG). She changed my life. (If you would like to talk with a holistic health professional in your area reach out to me via email and I will do what I can to help you find one.)


Many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are also symptoms of other conditions, such as depression, and chemical and/or nutritional imbalances in the body. It is the collection of symptoms and the patterns that are useful in recognizing adrenal fatigue.

  1. Loss of motivation or desire to do things you previously enjoyed
  2. Feeling tired and run down
  3. Low grade depression
  4. Difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good night’s sleep
  5. Feeling overwhelmed and like everything is just too much
  6. Things once done easily take more effort
  7. Craving salty and/or sweet snacks
  8. Difficulty getting strength and energy back after an illness
  9. Feeling better after 6 o’clock at night than any other time of the day
  10. Nothing seems fun anymore
  11. A cloudy, foggy brain
  12. An inability to handle stress
  13. A week immune system – frequent colds and illness
  14. Allergies, asthma, respiratory complaints,
  15. Dark circles under the eyes
  16. Lines in the tips of the fingers
  17. Joint pain
  18. Insomnia
  19. Poor circulation
  20. Weight gain
  21. Low blood pressure
  22. Blood sugar issues
  23. Decreased sex drive


Remember this list is not a definitive answer. Talk with a professional, or two. Find someone who will take the time necessary to offer guidance and support.  In the meantime, any positive life style changes to reduce stress and improve your nutrition will benefit you, no matter what the diagnosis.






Favorite Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family Kitchen

Favorite Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family Kitchen

Holiday Recipes from the Sander Family’s Kitchen



fudge recipe




Each year my sister sends us delicious pecans from Virginia. So, every year I make this simple treat and a southern tradition!

Glazed pecans

Sweet Potato Cranberry Scones

compliments of Southern Living

I love scones and I can’t wait to make these! I’ll let you know how they go.


sweet potato cranberry scones

More recipes coming soon! Including Scott’s famous Eggs Benedict!

Navigating Holiday Stress & Loneliness

Navigating Holiday Stress & Loneliness

Stress and/or loneliness can drain the joy from our holidays. I’ve experienced both, in spades, in my lifetime. I don’t ever do anything half way! 😊 Wisdom, however, can teach us a different path if we are willing to listen and learn, to open our minds to a new way of thinking and being.

As a young mom, nothing was more important to me during the holiday season than to create magic for my children.  Driven by my over active imagination, I worked night and day to make everything “just right”.  I pushed myself to my limits, physically, emotionally and financially.  Christmas morning, I woke up exhausted. At the end of the day, I was worn out and distraught.  How could I know whether or not my children had captured the magic I had worked so hard to create? I couldn’t.

Like many mothers and fathers, I fell into the parent-trap of trying to give my children what I never had. I was living out my own childhood fantasy, not theirs. They didn’t even have one yet! Wisdom reminds us that the joy of the holiday season arises from the time we spend with the people we love, and celebrating the universal values of love, generosity, gratitude and wonder. It isn’t about material things or fantasy. It’s about living, loving and being together in the midst of all of our imperfections.

Fast forward to the present. My children are adults, living 1,000 miles away and creating their own holiday traditions as they should. My parents and in-laws are all gone and our extended family is spread across the globe. Like you perhaps, I face a new set of circumstances, another challenge to navigate.

Finding ourselves quite suddenly, and sometimes unexpectedly, alone during the holidays, isn’t an easy experience to navigate. Our home rattles with the ghosts of the past and feels disturbingly quiet, even as the rest of the world is amping up and giddy with expectation. The skies even turn gray, heavy with rain or snow, and SAD moves in big time to usher us through this “magical” season. We dare not even turn on the TV for company, for fear of being overrun with unwelcome news and sound bites that will only haunt our sleepless nights.

Change has arrived on our doorstep once again.


Change. It’s the one constant in life and an invitation not to despair, but to adjust our sails. “Happily ever after” is just a Disney created fantasy and there are other more important and valuable paths to travel. Acknowledging this truth intellectually is one thing, but eradicating well-worn patterns of thought and behavior is a lifelong process. Fortunately, discomfort is here to help us do just that. Discomfort presents us with an opportunity to dive in and co-create a different ending to our story. The Universe is inviting us to walk a different path.

A couple of days ago I was reminded how a tiny change in perspective can re-color one’s entire internal landscape. Sometimes it’s the smallest of kindnesses from a friend, a conversation with a stranger, or in my case an anonymous gesture.

On Monday I woke up to a gloomy, gray day. I was feeling just about as gray as the sky when I happened to glance out of the front window and I lifted the blinds. What I saw brought tears to my eyes. Someone had placed a red Santa hat on our mailbox post. As I looked closer I saw that our Secret Santa had donned every mailbox on our street similarly. Goodness and the giving spirit still dwells in our midst, despite what we see and hear everywhere in these divisive times.


What a gift. Not only did it lift my spirits but it generated festive energy throughout the neighborhood. It opened us all to a tiny bit more of the spirit of Christmas, whether we celebrate the season or not, and it was a reminder that we each have the capacity to offer our giving spirit to others, whether to family members or strangers. We can show our love and concern, offer our interest and attention to whomever we meet as we go through our days. If we are not around people, we can do so in other ways. Write a note to a friend, send an email to an acquaintance, take a minute to speak to the mail-person, wave at the delivery people frantically driving through the neighborhood delivering packages as we walk our dog.  When we spread the spirit of the season it multiplies and comes back to us.

The spirit of the holidays exists throughout the year, across gender, cultural or language barriers. It’s a universal language, captured in a smile or a kind word or a helping hand. Not to mention it’s free and readily available. It is, however, a choice. When we choose to dip into our own well of kindness, we are gifted with more. It’s the law of the Universe and the true gift of the season.


DON’T BE LONELY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. JOIN the Aging Abundantly Circle Meet Up. Open to all through January 3, 2018. Join us for engaging conversation, laughter, games, support and friendship.