Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



Dear Reader:

What has 460 calories, 14 grams of fat and 63 grams of sugar? Unfortunately, it’s a small  Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. It has 35 different ingredients…35 for a milkshake?! The first ingredient is low-fat milk…that’s promising, but the remainder include chemicals, preservatives and sugar, in all of its many forms.

I spent the 70’s enjoying this sweet treat as often as I could during the month of March. (It was great to be a skinny kid!)

I still love milkshakes and peppermint, but I just couldn’t enjoy any small beverage that takes around 40 minutes on the arc trainer to work off.

So, I created my own green treat and my hubby and I found it to be delish!

Michele’s 6 Ingredient Shake

One pint vanilla ice-cream: I used Dreyers (7 grams of fat, 13 grams sugar (every once in a while!)

1/4 cup low-fat milk

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

3 drops of natural green food coloring

whipped cream: you decide how much!

Blend and enjoy!




From the Pink Shed is A Year Old!


Dear Reader:

I became a blogger one year ago today! I celebrated the occasion with cake…vanilla with strawberries and whipped cream! There was champagne, too!

When I was young, I had a pen pal and I loved it. As an introvert and a writer, it was the perfect way to connect. Now, I feel like I have many pen pals from all over the world. There are so many wonderful people to meet in the blogosphere.

Blogs and Bloggers I Love:

Sal’s Blog – Irregular Thoughts From A Regular Guy

Gardening Nirvana – Sharing my journey in and out of the garden

Marie McLean – Reading/Writing/Banter

silkannthreades – about the little things in life .

Killing Time – movies, tv, etc.

Busy K – You must do the things you think you cannot do. 

OTV Magazine – Shout out to Shareen Mansfield!

And, Tamara Jare at My Botanical Garden – You were one of the first to follow my blog. I have your art in my shed.  And I feel so close to you that it’s hard to believe you are 6,000 miles away! We will meet someday; I’m sure of it.

I took the time today to look back at the “letters” I’ve written to you, dear readers. It was fun to see which posts were your favorites and reflect on mine.

Most Popular Posts:

Hopelessness and Heroines


My Journey to Strong: Chapter 2

No Regrets

Posts I Like Best:

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

She’s Flying

Maui Time

AND…all of the above!

Thank you Kristin, Beth, Laurie and NATALIE!

Cheers to blogging,



My Journey to Strong: Chapter 3


Chapter 3: Cardio is Not a Walk in the Park

Dear Reader:

OMG, I knew so little the day I walked through the door at Zone Fitness! During my first meeting with my personal trainer, Jonathan, we discussed the importance of both cardio (fitness slang for cardiovascular activity) and weight training. I told him that I was intimidated by weights.

“But, I like cardio,” I offered. “In fact, I exercise four days a week and count my steps!”

I learned very quickly, though, that my idea of cardio was not the same as Jonathan’s. I discovered that I fell far short of meeting the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association and by extension my doctor. Intensity matters! It only counts as cardio when you elevate your heart rate into an aerobic zone, which is 55 to 85 percent of your maximum. Any movement is good, but I was really short-changing myself. I was not working or sweating enough to achieve my weight loss goals or maintain my health. 

Real cardio is hard. The machine I’m sitting on in the picture above is a Cybex arc. I’d never given one a go and, let’s just say, the first time was an experience. I felt like I was going to die after 5 minutes, but I needed to make friends with that machine because it’s designed to be easier on the joints than an elliptical and burn 16% more calories than a treadmill.

I’m proud to say that I can now burn 400 calories in a 35 minute workout on the arc. Getting there required me to trust my trainer. I’d constantly joke that I hoped picking me up after my heart attack was included in my dues. But, honestly, I was scared. I had to learn that I couldn’t/shouldn’t jump off the machine when my inner monologue changed from…you can do this, Michele to …this feels horrible, Tom will kill me if I die in the gym, I don’t know if I can continue, I hate this blanking machine!

Jonathan identified this highly unpleasant feeling:  metabolic pain. (I’ll let you google that for the scientific explanation.) I only needed to know that it wasn’t a sign that I was going to die, but instead a sign that I was getting a good work out. We monitored my heart rate and Jonathan checked in frequently to ensure that I was expending the correct amount of energy.

“How are you doing?” he’d ask me. In those moments, I wasn’t sure I liked him.  My inner monologue went something like this…Can’t you tell by the look on my face?, Didn’t you notice that drop of sweat that just fell to the floor by your foot? Can’t you think of a better question? I later learned that Jonathan was administering the “talk test.” (You should be working so hard that you can’t carry on a conversation, but easy enough that you can contribute short sentences.)

After the first week of cardio training, it did get easier for me to keep pushing. I know what to expect. I can sense what my heart rate is before I check my reading. In short, I know my body better. Cardio has become a three-day a week activity, but I’m not saying it’s easy. Just when I’ve got my workout nailed, my trainer tweaks the settings! That brings me to my third bit of newly acquired wisdom on My Journey to Strong.

You only improve your fitness when you challenge your body.










Awaiting my Arrival


“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.”

― Stanley Coren

Dear Reader:

It doesn’t take a professor of canine psychology like Dr. Coren to observe what any dog owner knows; our faithful companions do not like to be left behind. I would add that there is no one who is obviously more enthralled to greet me than my dog!

Before the jumping, tail wagging and cuddling, comes the barking that I can hear when I open the door of my car. As I approach my front gate, I can see Winnie’s face peering out hoping to see me.

How can anyone resist the simple joy of owning a dog? I do not know.



Chocolate Me, Please!


Dear Reader:

Last night our neighbors joined us for cocktails. They always bring a treat of some kind when they visit and usually it’s a pink one! This time, though, I was surprised by the presentation.

“Oh, that’s for Tom,” Marietta said as I enthusiastically reached for the Lula’s chocolates.

“Um…oh…really?!” I exclaimed.

“Well, I just read your latest post,” she continued, “and we can see that you’ve lost weight.”

“Well, you really weren’t that big,” Frank added.

Oh, how I love my neighbors! After I thanked them for both the compliments and the truffles, I explained that I do still eat chocolate. (If you are contemplating sending me a box, dear reader, please feel free to do so!)

My personal trainer, Jonathan, has given me a suggested menu and I follow it in a flexible manner. I’m eating more protein and vegetables and generally less food, but I still have an occasional treat. I can’t imagine living without wine or dessert, in moderation, despite my new appreciation for salmon salad!

Tonight, however, I will be eating clean and skipping alcohol in recognition of the fact that I drank and ate more than I usually do last night. When friends come to visit, I’m an “eat, drink and be merry” kind of gal. You can’t take the Italian out of me.






My Journey to Strong: Chapter 2

IMG_5969 2

Chapter 2: Look What I Can Do!

Dear Reader:

I’m a visual person and this seems to be how I decide what I want to invest my energy in. Last January I pictured myself blogging in my pink shed. By March, I was writing to you!

This year I pictured a stronger me; I never thought I’d say that. I’m lifting weights; I never thought I’d do that! And, I’m making progress!

When I hobbled in to meet my personal trainer, I was nine pounds heavier with a swollen, blue ankle. Jonathan was supportive and instructive. He was careful to reinforce the correct position for every exercise so that I would not experience a “gym injury” of any kind. After all, I confessed that I am an extremely experienced and talented klutz. My friends asked if I felt that he was pushing me to my max, and I had to respond negatively….until.

I made a quick trip over to see my daughter who is an active college student. Her routine includes Boot Camp in the Park every Sunday. How could I say no?! The trainer modified some of the activities to take into account my weak ankle, but I pulled my weight…figuratively and literally! I felt so proud of myself that I sent a photo to my trainer.

Oops! I returned home to an amped up routine.

“Ack, you don’t feel sorry for me anymore, do you?!” I asked Jonathan.

“Nope, think I saw you dragging a weighted tire through the park!” he answered.

When, way back when, I was in high school, kids divided themselves up into four groups: jocks, brains, socials and stoners. I fell into the “brains” group. I’ve always felt most comfortable pursuing intellectual goals. My recent foray into the gym has not been easy and so I feel that much more pride in my commitment and effort. I am getting stronger! I love that. This brings me to my second bit of newly acquired wisdom on My Journey to Strong.

We are capable of more than we think! 






Happy Birthday, Brother

Birthdays, siblings, brother, death, death of brother

Dear Reader:

He would be 54 years old  today, but instead he rests under a marker that reads: “Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not here—I do not sleep.”

Today,  I can not help but remember my brother. Perhaps, you, too, have a special birthday you remember but no longer celebrate in the conventional fashion. Or, maybe your mind turns to a loved one on the anniversary of his death. Loss will touch us all and I have found that it can be such a comfort to share the experience with others. I hope you will not mind if I share my experience of loss with you today on this day that can not help but move me.

During his 36 years of life,  my brother, Matt Lehman, occupied a large place in my heart and in the imaginations of family and friends. He was handsome, stylish and charming. (Think Matt Dillon, seriously!) He was a salesman and a collector. He’d been born with long eyelashes and affecting eyes. And bat his eyelashes, he did! The gesture was even more disarming when it was combined with his ready smile. He radiated enthusiasm, as if for him the entire world and everything in it was exciting. He was a joy to be around, and so everyone wanted to be his friend.

Matt was the youngest of three siblings. He was like the exclamation point after his two sisters. And, he certainly was not meant to be the first to die. But, as he told me one day after a visit to the cancer treatment center “how can I ask ‘why me’ when there’s a 12 year old child sitting next to me waiting for his chemo treatment?”

There was never any hope given other than the  possibility that treatment could extend his life a bit. It was in July 2000 that I received his phone call telling me it was cancer, “not a good kind,” and the doctors had estimated he had four months left. In the end, he lived a full year after his diagnosis. He made the most of that year generously sharing the time he had left with those who loved him.

I vividly remember an exchange with Matt during one of our last visits. His faith was unshakable; he was going “home.” I did not share his strong beliefs, but I found myself explaining that I couldn’t go with him just then. I needed to stay and raise my 4-year-old daughter. My baby brother was going somewhere and some part of me felt that I should go with him or instead of him. Or maybe, some part of me wondered how I could bear my grief.

For a long time after Matt’s death, I felt sure that every ring of the phone would bring news of illness or death. And, of course, just below the surface was the fear that came with being brutally reminded of my own mortality. But, I have celebrated the milestones of 40 and 50 remembering that my brother never did. I am grateful for the years I’ve been given to test my commitment to my husband (shaken but never destroyed!) and to watch my daughter grow into an adult I admire, respect and love.

And, so  with tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face, I remember my dear brother today but not beside the headstone that bears his name.  For he is not there. He lives with me in my heart and I know in the hearts of many others.

I welcome you to share your remembrances of those you have loved and lost.



*This nickname died with my brother. When he was young, he could not manage to say Michele and so I was Shell to him for as long as he lived.



This post was originally written on February 19, 2017 and posted after my blog went live on March 24.