All Posts By

Sandra Howatt


Discovering New Age Religion Beliefs

September 15, 2019
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Facing death has a way of making you question your religious beliefs and stripping you raw. God and I have had a long history together of me asking questions and Him trying to get answers through my thick skull. It’s not that I don’t want to learn or listen, I just tend to be independent and rebellious. And age has not necessarily tempered that.

First dark night of the soul: at fourteen

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

That year I spent most of the summer talking to the ceiling trying to convince myself that I didn’t believe in God. Luckily, He gave me a warped sense of humor so after I spent so much time focused on the ceiling of my bedroom arguing with God, I thought who am I trying to convince that He didn’t exist? myself? Him? I finally started laughing hysterically and said, “Fine! You win.”

The rest of my teen years I spent going to Bible studies and learning the “fundamentals of Christianity”. I later married a man who decided he wanted to study to be a pastor. That brought about:

The Second dark night of the soul: at twenty-four

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I never expected to get a divorce. In some ways, to this day, I still don’t know exactly what happened. But I can tell you that one of the instigators was the First Baptist church we belonged to and my stubborn spirit that refused to let my life be stamped everywhere, “First Baptist Approved.” I got so tired of sanctimonious fools coming up to us in the foyer of the church. They never said, “Welcome. How nice to meet you!” Instead, they had a mantra that they repeated until I wanted to scream, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” Oh, I can’t tell you how many times I bit my lip to keep from saying, “Where ever you aren’t!”

So, wrapped up in our marriage was this controlling church and when I left my husband, they sent men to visit me in my hotel room and this is the verse that they shared with me: Hebrews 10:26 “For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us.” Meaning they had convicted me and I refused to change so I was damned. It was awful. I just needed time to think away from their badgering.

The irony of it was when I told my husband what they had done, he was so angry because he knew that was the end of our marriage. I would never bow down to that kind of bullying.

What came after that was years of living lightly. I read quite a few books that stimulated some new age religion belief patterns in me, but nothing that ever became as all-encompassing as “Fundamentals of Christianity”.

I discovered and become comfortable with reincarnation in Brian L. Weiss, MD.’s book “Many Lives, Many Masters”. I explored other options in “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman and William Thetford and I enjoyed several books by Jerry and Ester Hicks including “The Law of Attraction”, “The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent” and “Ask and it is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires”. All of them would eventually contribute to my “new age religion beliefs and fundamentals”.

Third well not really a dark night of the soul, mainly just a realization at 50 something

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash
Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

By this time, I was the on-site manager for a senior apartment building in Burbank and we have a variety of religious beliefs here along with different ethnicities. One of my Armenian tenants was trying to figure out who I was religiously speaking. She first asked if I was Jewish and when I said no, she asked if I was a Christian and I suddenly realized that according to the “Fundamentals of Christianity” I didn’t really think I could say yes. I was adrift without fundamentals! And I stayed that way until:

The fourth dark night of the soul, really. It started on December 27th, 2018 when I had a stroke.

Photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash
Photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash

And went on for the next nine months as I dealt with a stroke, a bout of kidney stones and an aneurysm that had to be repaired. Five surgeries when I wasn’t supposed to even get close to anesthesia for 9 months after the stroke.

Oh, did I mention that I didn’t even call the paramedics until the following morning? Did I mention that one of the doctors told me I was the luckiest woman he ever met because most people with my heart condition don’t even make it to the hospital?

Did I mention that when they went in to remove the blood clot on my brain, they found the aneurysm that could have burst at any time and most likely killed me but instead they were able to fix it?

Did I mention that 2 famous and younger people than I had strokes and died while I was recuperating?

Did I also mention that I had almost no noticeable damage from the stroke?

Was I fucking lucky or blessed? It depends on who you talk to.

But suddenly I had survivor guilt and an intense need for “Fundamentals”. It just seemed so rude to ask God for help after I basically ignored Him for years. But I really needed help.

I told my sister, who has been the rock in my foundation for the last 9 months how I was feeling with tears running down both of our faces. “Why me, Sis? Why did I survive when so many other people didn’t?” She said, “Because I need you!” Oh my, gushy tears happened after that!

I wish I could tell you I have the answers

Photo by Milind Kaduskar on Unsplash

But I don’t and I am not sure I ever will.

I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone’s answers are different possibly because everyone has different questions. I will try to share my journey to find the “fundamentals” with you and hope you will be inspired to share your stories as well.


My Future Life in Pictures

June 20, 2019
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

On July 18th, 2019 I am having surgery to fix an aneurysm in my brain. Am I looking forward to it? Yes and no. Yes because it means when it is over I can start building my life and muscles back up and no for pretty obvious reasons the least of which is cost.

I decided to do a photo collage of what I expect to have and be in my life post surgery so I hope you like pictures!

Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

Road Trip With My Sister

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

One Day A Trip To Iceland

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

Hiking With My Sister

Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

Online Guru

Photo by Guadalupe Garcia on Unsplash

Regular Exercise So I Am Strong And Sexy

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

Good Friends To Share Good Times With

Photo by Todd DeSantis on Unsplash

Love With The Right Man

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Of Course, A Healthy Body Is Necessary!

Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash

Also Necessary, A Happy, Healthy Family!

So these are the things I am looking forward to having in my life post surgery, regardless of the time I need to take to make them happen. So exciting to have so much to look forward to!

Health Practicalities of Living

Forest Bathing – Why You Need to do This

June 17, 2019
forest bathing

I have never been a very athletic person. My favorite P.E. classes were folk dancing and badminton. I once almost brained my P.E. teacher with a golf club that I lost a grip on.

My brother and sister, on the other hand, have always been very physically active. The only small place where our lives may have a chance to connect in this area is the art of hiking, a special love of my sister’s. I have to say that the one hike that I went on with her I also enjoyed a lot, so there is hope for change there.

The biggest challenge I face right now is how to hike with a walker. My goal after my next surgery to fix the aneurysm in my brain is to ditch the walker and learn to hike. In case you are unable to ditch the walker, check out these action track chairs! and terrain hoppers

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Which is why the concept of forest bathing is so compelling to me. Why do I want to shower in the woods? Well, that is not quite what forest bathing is.

Wikipedia refers to it as this: “Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as ecotherapy, describes a broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings. One example of a nature therapy is forest bathing or shinrin-yoku, a practice that combines a range of exercises and tasks in an outdoor environment. Garden therapy, horticultural therapy, Kneipp therapy or even ocean therapy may also be viewed as forms of nature therapy. “

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

WebMD has this to say, “Critics often scoff that research about the practice is lacking, but there is growing scientific evidence that getting outside in a natural setting is good for mind-body health. And this back-to-nature movement isn’t confined to forest therapy. Some medical doctors have trained to become forest therapy guides. Other health care providers are connecting their patients to nature in other ways. An Ohio cardiologist, frustrated that he couldn’t convince his patients to exercise, founded Walk with a Doc in 2005, which now has 500 chapters. A Washington, D.C., pediatrician writes prescriptions for his patients to go to the park — as do the more than 300 doctors and other health care providers who have signed on to his Park Rx America program.”

Forest Bathing
Photo by Marc Pell on Unsplash

Here are some benefits to forest bathing: it reduces your stress, improves your mood, frees up your creativity, boosts your immune system, reduces your high blood pressure and accelerates your recovery from illness. Sounds like an all around win-win to me!

If you would like to read more about it, you can check out this Kindle book on Amazon: (yes, I do get a small fee if you buy it from this link!)

I hope this motivates you to get out and do a little forest bathing one way or another in the woods, at the beach or in your garden and don’t forget to TURN YOUR PHONE OFF!


Indulgent Aging Through the Eyes of Stroke

April 25, 2019
Living After a Stroke

It has been a long time since I have posted here. On December 27th, 2018 I had a small stroke and considering I made the extremely stupid decision to “sleep it off” and didn’t call the paramedics until the following morning, I was extraordinarily lucky.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

So much so, that one of my doctors told me that I should buy lotto tickets, take a trip to Vegas and do anything else that I could to capitalize on my luck because most people with my health condition didn’t make it to the hospital alive let alone with very little damage.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Good Luck or Bad?

So I feel lucky and then my luck got even weirder. While they were removing the blood clot in my brain, they found an aneurysm. And then as a side effect of the blood thinners that they put me on, they discovered that I was losing blood in my urine because I had a large kidney stone that I never knew I had. Both now require surgery, but surgery after stroke and juggling blood thinners is a very difficult thing.

So the question is, is this good luck they found all this stuff or not?

Photo by sharon wright on Unsplash

And how do I write about what has been both an amazing and harrowing experience in my life in a blog called “Indulgent Aging”?

Owen Beard on Upsplash

Awesome People

I was talking with the awesome ambulance crew who transported me from Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank to Kaiser’s Sunset Hospital in Los Angeles about that and one of them mentioned that “Of course it was Indulgent Aging since you have ten people surrounding you just ready to do whatever you need to take care of you!”

They were the best and I actually had the head of the crew, James Brown, cracking up in the back of the ambulance when I told him this story:

Picture this only in black and gray and you will see what I saw under the TV

High on the wall in my room there was a television that I never watched but it was in my line of sight and I wasn’t doing much of anything at the time, so I stared at it a lot.

Underneath the television was what looked like the statue of a man with two penises peeing. Now that really confused me. I couldn’t understand why they would put that statue in a Catholic hospital with a crucifix on the opposite wall. I puzzled over that for the longest time.

Photo by luka lojk on Unsplash

Then my sister and brother-in-law came to visit me and I knew they were so worried about me but happy to see that I seemed more coherent than they expected because of my stroke until I started to entertain them with my questions about the two dick statue under the television.

Photo by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash

The looks on their faces were priceless. They thought I was totally blowing out another brain cell or three because they could see what I couldn’t namely that the “statue” was the television cord wrapped with a twisty!

Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

Laughter: Truly the Best Medicine

My mom always told me that you have to find the humor in life or it was just too hard to live. She was so right. And two of the main things that have allowed me to survive this experience have been the wonderful people who have helped me and the crazy stuff that keeps me laughing.

Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

So thank you James Brown and crew, thank you to the wonderful doctors and nurses who took care of me in the early days of this stroke adventure at Saint Joe’s and Kaiser and thank you God for my mom who showed me how to laugh through an indulgent life!


Buying New Athletic Shoes

December 11, 2018
Shoes for your foundation

The maintenance man that I work with at our building is an active man in his seventies who sometimes makes me crazy but makes me laugh as well. He has a heart of gold and a gruff manner and gets totally exasperated with all the women in the building who think he should handle their personal “honey-do” lists. Needless to say, he spends a lot of time running around like a chicken with his head cut off…or I guess a rooster with his head cut off! Over a year ago he was complaining about how much his feet, knees, and back were hurting. He couldn’t figure out why this was happening to him and was frustrated that his doctor couldn’t “fix it”. He decided to buy new athletic shoes to solve the problem.

bastian-ignacio-vega-cani-468434-unsplash More shoes

Get Measured!

He bought several pairs of new tennis shoes and was throwing a fit that this didn’t help either. Then he happened to go to a store to buy another pair and the salesclerk measured his feet instead of taking his word for it that he still wore the same size shoe that he wore in high school! Turns out his feet were a half size bigger than he thought. He bought the new pair in the new size and low and behold his feet no longer hurt. He told me this story very sheepishly, but as someone who has an obscene number of shoes that I have purchased trying to find that magical pair that will make me a world class athlete I totally had to keep quiet!

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash More Shoes for athletics
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Advice for Buying Your Workout Shoes

Silver Sneakers (one of my favorite sites) has the following advice to offer for finding the best workout shoes:
1. Know your foot structure
2. Know your foot motion
3. Trade cotton socks for synthetic
4. Tie your socks like this (see article link below for details)
5. Slowly break in your new shoes

Workout Shoes: A Guide for Older Adults

Your Feet Are Your Foundation

According to Brian Jensen, DC “Your feet are the foundation for your entire body. They must be able to properly support your body; allow you to stand, walk, run, and jump; and absorb damaging shock that enters your body every time your heel hits the ground. Every athlete deals with structural defects, many of which start in the feet.” Sounds like it is important to pay attention to our structure especially if you are having pain and trouble walking. Check out this article for more helpful information

Athletic Shoes for health

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Being able to move keeps us a valid part of the world. It enables us to explore our world, expand our world and keep doing things with friends and family. Talking care of your feet and foundation takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it from that perspective. Let’s keep walking and moving!

Hobbies Humor Travel

Camping With All the Comforts of Home

November 27, 2018
Camping Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

My sister and I are both working on blogs now and I just finished reading her new “About Me” page. It definitely sounds like her! She is a tough cookie maybe because she grew up more around my brother than she did around me. I remember her telling me that she used to leg wrestle with him all the time, which is a crazy thing if you knew my brother because he was a football player with huge muscular legs.  I am sure he was no easy person to leg wrestle! Suffice it to say, she knows how to take care of herself and has always babied me. So what does this have to do with all the comforts of home? It’s about our different styles of vacationing. No long way around there!

Camping Supplies Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Hiking and Camping – My Sister’s Way

I imagine my sister’s backpack would look something like this photo. It would be sturdy, minimal with all the necessary accoutrements like food, water, matches, I don’t know! I’m guessing at this point! But it would definitely contain some type of photo taking equipment.

Camping my style Photo by Tom King on Unsplash

Photo by Tom King on Unsplash

Camping My Way

My style would be more like this photo only worse! Did I tell you I have a travel bidet that would be a must-pack for me?

That’s right or how about those 100 vitamins I take in their own little travel case Are you getting the feeling yet that you wouldn’t want to go camping with me?

Then there is the Wekapo. What brilliant person came up with this? I would sink into this thing and it would take an act of Congress to get me out.

I would have one practical thing with me that would make my sister proud. Check out this hammock! I am in love with this hammock. I would like to install it in my bedroom!

Gentile Camping Photo by Chris Holder on Unsplash

Photo by Chris Holder on Unsplash

Do You Camp?

Now, this looks enjoyable to me as long as the chairs weren’t too low! I hope you know that I am exaggerating a little. I actually love the outdoors and would be happy to be like my sister, able to leap small forests in a single bound. I have grown soft in front of my computer and I do like my creature comforts.

Camping Compromise Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Camping Compromise

My sister is convinced that there is a solution to our dilemma. She and her husband have been looking at motorhomes that she can stuff us all into and take us on the road. I love my sister. She’s like me in this way. She wants to explore and have adventures, but she wants her family with her along the way, even when we are pains in the patootie (as my mother used to say!)

Off for the sunset Photo by Samuel Sianipar on Unsplash

Photo by Samuel Sianipar on Unsplash

Heading Off For the Sunset

So someday if you see a line of camping vehicles crammed to the gills with people and stuff all wobbling down the road following each other to the beach, or the forest, or the desert or who knows where you might want to wave a hello. It will probably be me and my family! You might also enjoy


Humor News

2019 – The Year of the Final Volkswagen Beetle

November 20, 2018
Volkswagon Beetle Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

I had to post this press release because really, it’s the end of an era! I learned to drive on a Volkswagen Beetle, driving in circles in a dirt field with my dad shouting instructions on how to shift. It’s not that I loved that car so much as I love the memory. I bet some of you have Beetle memories as well! You already know that I am a bit of a car lover!

2019: The Last Year of the Volkswagen Beetle

On the heels of Volkswagen of America‘s (Volkswagen) announcement that it will cease production of the iconic Beetle in 2019, organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show‘s (LA Auto Show®) AutoMobility LA™ today revealed that the popular brand will host its annual Motoring Invitational. This year’s event, entitled “Beetles & Breakfast,” will take place from 7:00 am – 8:00 am on Wednesday, Nov. 28, inside the Technology Pavilion located in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Beetles & Breakfast, LA Based Beetle Owners Invited to Join

Beetles & Breakfast welcomes media and industry professionals from around the world attending AutoMobility LA. The commemorative showcase, which will kick-off a packed day of vehicle unveilings, will have nearly 30 Beetles on display, including the 2019 Beetle Final Edition models. Registered attendees will also be able to enjoy complimentary food and entertainment. Volkswagen will display a number of heritage Beetles dating as far back as 1946, as well as the Americas Rallycross-winning Beetle racecar. Los Angeles-based Beetle owners have also been invited to join the festivities.

Vintage Beetles

Dune Buggy Wikimedia

Dune Buggy Wikimedia

Additional vintage vehicles slated to participate in Beetles & Breakfast include, but are not limited to:

  • 1949 Beetle
  • 1949 Hebmueller roadster
  • 1952 Karmann Cabriolet
  • 1964 Beetle
  • 1969 Beetle rally car
  • 1969 Wedding Car
  • 1971 Meyers Manx
  • 1979 Super Beetle Convertible

“We are pleased to be hosting Beetles & Breakfast at AutoMobility LA,” said Derrick Hatami, executive vice president of sales, Volkswagen of America. “This is a great opportunity to highlight the heritage of the Beetle brand and to introduce the 2019 Beetle Final Edition coupe and convertible to the media. Los Angeles is a perfect place to celebrate the Beetle thanks to the long and lasting relationship between Californians and the brand.”

Volkswagen Beetle Photo by Tom Arrowsmith on Unsplash

Photo by Tom Arrowsmith on Unsplash

For nearly 70 years, the Beetle brand has been a mainstay for Volkswagen in the U.S. Over the lifespan of the Type 1 or Beetle, nearly 5 million were sold in the U.S. out of a worldwide total of 21.5 million. In 1998, the new Beetle reintroduced the familiar shape to a new generation of drivers and in 2011, the third-generation version went on sale in the U.S. as a 2012 model. Over its lifetime, the Beetle has been sold as a two-door coupe or two-door convertible. Volkswagen recently announced that production of the third-generation Beetle will end in 2019.

2019 VW Beetle

2019 VW Beetle

The brand will produce a limited number of Final Edition models, which are inspired by the 2003 Ultima Edicion. There will be two versions, the SE and SEL trims for the coupe and convertible, both of which will make their debut at Beetles & Breakfast during AutoMobility LA.

“To have Volkswagen choose AutoMobility LA for gathering some of the rarest Beetles around is significant,” said Terri Toennies, executive vice president and general manager of the LA Auto Show and AutoMobility LA. “Beetles & Breakfast is a fitting platform for Volkswagen to introduce its 2019 Final Edition models and start its farewell tour for one of the most beloved vehicles of our time.”

To register for AutoMobility LA, please visit

For additional information on Beetles & Breakfast and AutoMobility LA, please visit

Health News

Top Five Reasons for Consumers to Compare Their 2019 Health Coverage Options

November 13, 2018
Health Coverage Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Recently eHealth, Inc. released data from an analysis of trends in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) market that shed light on figures from the federal government suggesting that enrollment in ACA health coverage during the current open enrollment period may be lagging behind enrollment figures from last year.

eHealth’s analysis of its own 2018 and 2019 health insurance products offerings shows:

Fewer enrollees are being bumped from their old plans – The number of eHealth customers forced to shop for new 2019 plans because their current health plan will not be available in the new year is down 98 percent compared to last year.
Fewer insurers are departing the market – The number of eHealth customers forced to look for new coverage because their current health insurer is exiting their local market is down 100 percent compared to last year.
Fewer customers are seeing rate increases – The number of eHealth customers getting a rate increase of 10 percent or more for the 2019 plan year is down 59 percent compared to last year.
“On the one hand, this is great news for health insurance consumers, since it suggests a more stable ACA market,” said eHealth CEO Scott Flanders. “More people may be holding onto their 2018 plans into the new year. However, there’s a trade-off: With fewer changes to their coverage and moderated premiums, fewer people are being actively reminded to get out there and shop during the current open enrollment period. In fact, this may be a particularly good year for people to shop for a new plan that will better meet their needs in 2019.”

Top Five Reasons Consumers Should Compare their 2019 Coverage Options

Prescription Health Options Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Many consumers will find lower prices than last year – According to an eHealth analysis of plans available to 45-year-olds in 38 metropolitan areas through the federal health insurance marketplace, the premium for the lowest-cost bronze plan has decreased an average of 3 percent compared with last year’s open enrollment period. Some markets show double-digit premium reductions: the premium for the lowest cost bronze plan decreased 26 percent in Raleigh, NC; 18 percent in Phoenix, AZ; 15 percent in Atlanta, GA; and 13 percent in Trenton, NJ.

There are more plans to choose from compared to last year – According to eHealth’s analysis, there are 31 percent more plans to choose from across all states served by the federal health insurance marketplace. Consumers can also enroll in these plans through certain licensed brokers like, where additional ACA-compliant plans that are not available through government marketplaces can also be found.

Provider networks can change from one year to the next – Health insurance consumers who are pleased with their 2018 coverage should make sure that their preferred doctors and hospitals are still covered next year. Many health insurance plans change their list of network health care providers annually. At eHealth, consumers can sort available plans to see which are accepted by their preferred doctor.

Coverage for prescription drugs can also change – Consumers who are otherwise satisfied with their current plan may also wish to shop for new 2019 coverage if the insurance company has changed its list of covered medications or increased copays associated with prescription drugs. At eHealth, consumers can sort plans based on those that provide them with the greatest savings for their prescription drug needs.

There are more alternatives this time for those who can’t afford ACA coverage – People who earn too much money to qualify for government subsidies under the ACA may not always be able to afford ACA-compliant coverage on their own. This year, many will have access to short-term health insurance products with coverage periods of up to one year in most states (90 days was the federal limit last year), and they will not face a tax penalty for going without ACA-compliant coverage in 2019. ACA alternatives like short-term plans do not have the same benefits and protections as ACA plans (they do not cover the ACA’s ten minimum essential benefits or coverage for pre-existing conditions, for example), but ACA alternatives can provide meaningful protection from medical costs in many cases of unexpected illness or injury.

About eHealth

eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) owns, a leading private online health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare health insurance products from brand-name insurers side by side and purchase and enroll in coverage online and over the phone. eHealth offers thousands of individual, family and small business health plans underwritten by many of the nation’s leading health insurance companies. eHealth (through its subsidiaries) is licensed to sell health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. eHealth also offers educational resources, exceptional telephonic support, and powerful online and pharmacy-based tools to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate Medicare health insurance options, choose the right plan and enroll in select plans online or over the phone through (, (, GoMedigap ( and (