Insoles and Beyond! A Giveaway

Shoe with Insert

A post by writer Ashley Gainer:

My feet have hurt for more than half my life.

I’m sure this had something to do with the carpet-covered cement floors that were the frequent site of dance practices and dodge ball games at the school where I grew up, the long hours day after day tromping up and down the football field during marching band practice, or the 30-minute hikes all around campus every day to get to various classrooms and dorm hangouts while in college.

Foot pain and fatigue were just a part of my life.

That is, until a friend unwittingly introduced me to supportive footwear, specifically a particular brand of sandals made by a company in Germany.

These sandals stole my heart at age 17 when I purchased my first pair. I appreciated them for their “granola” aesthetic, but the more I wore these sandals, the more I noticed that my feet didn’t hurt while wearing them.

That started a life-long devotion for me, but I didn’t really start to put two and two together until years later when I was living in Colorado.

After taking up new hobbies including hiking and snowshoeing, I learned the real difference that supportive footwear made in reducing the pain in my feet at the end of a long day.

And it wasn’t until I was very pregnant in the depths of winter that I realized I would only be able to keep functioning if I wore my hiking boots all day every day – boots that feature built-in arch support, unlike any of my other (winter-appropriate) shoes.

Fast-forward a few years, and nearly every pair of shoes I own has either built-in arch support or an arch support insert.

These inserts keep my high arches aligned, which promotes good balance, efficient movement, and reduced strain.

My plantar fasciitis is all but gone, only cropping up when I spend a little too much time barefoot.

My knees no longer hurt, and I can get through the day without having to shift my weight from foot to foot every three seconds.

It seems like a simple thing, but having good arch support has been a life-changer.

I no longer have to live with foot pain, and it’s my goal to tell as many people as possible that they can find relief, too.

Giveaway! Insoles and Beyond, is offering Friend for the Ride a great giveaway!  A fifty dollar store credit.  To enter, leave a comment by April 1 saying  you’d like to be the winner. Giveaway is open to U.S. and beyond. The credit has no cash value and must be used on merchandise. Offer expires in one year. Thanks Ashley and Insoles and Beyond!

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Insoles and Beyond

Ashley Gainer is a freelance writer and editor living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When she’s not serving the Internet as a wellness blogger or being Mama to her favorite toddler, she works for, the family business. Insoles and Beyond is a small, family-owned health and wellness company committed to offering the best in premium arch support insoles for plantar fasciitis and inserts for running shoes, boots, and everyday wear.


My Inserts, pictured at top and bottom: Ashley sent me a pair, and I love them. I popped them into my black flats. They give great cushioning to my menopausal feet. The difference is amazing!




She Is…

She Is

I met this colorful lady at an art show on Bald Head Island.  “Take me to your creator,” I asked the painting.

That means I emailed the artist, Francisca Dekker.

Francisca was kind enough to write back and give me permission to post her painting, titled She Is.

“I know all about the midlife menopausal roller coaster,” Francisca  said in her email, “and if this, I think, uplifting painting helps, go for it.”

“About the pose,” Francisca told me, “it is done after a life-model, who is very comfortable within her body and that was what I wanted for a statement:  No matter what, I am who I am and that is how you can take me. The coloring, bright and bold, are part of that statement.”

Explaining her brilliant use of color, Francisca said in an interview, “If I meet somebody and I feel a connection with them, I paint with colors. I don’t see people in black and white. Colors are the connection I have with that model—the inside colors.”

Love it! An artist who sees our inside colors!

What are your inside colors?

How would Francisca paint you?

E. Francisca Dekker

Read the interview quoted above by Shelby Purvis in The Art of People”

Thanks Francisca for sharing She Is!


Love Your Heart Month!

Heart Shape Paisley-60977125 [Converted]

A post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan in honor of Love Your Heart Month. Thanks, Mary!

I have a family history of heart disease, and as nurse I have taken care of hundreds of heart patients. So this subject is very personal to me.

I doubt if you need just another FAQ sheet that describes the signs, symptoms, and treatments of heart disease. That information is readily available on websites such as

Although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease each year. One challenge is that the heart disease symptoms in women can be different from symptoms in men. Fortunately, though, women can take steps to understand their unique symptoms and begin to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Research shows that about 35,000 American women under 50 have a heart attack each year. An increase in heart attacks among women is seen about 10 years after menopause. We have heard about how cancer affects many women, but heart disease is actually the leading killer of women.

This topic really got my attention several years ago. The mother of one of my daughter’s best friends came home after church and said she wasn’t feeling well. Thinking she had the flu, she skipped lunch and went to bed. But her family members were stunned to find her on the bedroom floor that afternoon, not breathing and without a pulse. They called 911, and when the paramedics were unable to resuscitate her, she was placed on a gurney and taken to the hospital via ambulance. But it was too late. She was pronounced Dead On Arrival.

A similar scenario took place when a close family member woke up in the middle of the night with jaw pain. As morning approached, she began experiencing what felt like a bad case of nausea, indigestion, shortness of breath, and upper back spasms. She thought she had the flu and didn’t go to the doctor. When the symptoms escalated, her family convinced her to go to the ER. She was having a heart attack and ended up passing away soon after she arrived at the hospital. Needless to say, we all were shocked.

When we think of a heart attack, the image of an elephant on someone’s chest often comes to mind. But typically the symptoms are subtler. Often they are confused with other medical conditions.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or completely cut off. This happens when the arteries that supply the heart with blood gradually narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, such as plaque.

Women tend to minimize their symptoms and feel reluctant to go to the ER. Don’t fool around if you are having symptoms like this! Any hospital would prefer that you come in and not be having a heart attack, than to have one at home while waiting to see if you get better.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are my Nurse’s Nuggets…bite-sized, easy to digest, easy to remember, and super-duper important. So important that they could save your life. Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if you don’t get help right away.

Recognize the symptoms or indicators. The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest. But it’s not always severe or the most prominent symptom. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain such as:

  • Digestive Changes. This may start with basic indigestion and then escalate to severe heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Shortness of Breath. An early warning sign may be windedness even when you have minimal exertion.
  • Unusual Fatigue. An early warning may be waking up with extreme fatigue and then experiencing difficulty carrying out your daily activities.
  • Mood Changes. This may start with unfounded anxiety and then become persistent shortness of breath and a sense of impending doom.
  • Sleep Disturbance. Take notice if you experience a change in your sleep habits and difficulty falling to sleep or staying asleep.
  • Weakness. This may start with symptoms similar to the flu or pneumonia.
  • Blurry Vision and Headaches. These symptoms are particularly significant if accompanied by cold sweat or clammy, pale skin.
  • Discomfort in Your Chest, Arms, or Hands. Pay attention if you experience pressure, discomfort, burning, pain, or symptoms like a pulled muscle in your chest. And you may be facing an impending heart attack if this increases to crushing chest pain radiating down either arm or unusual pain in your jaw, neck, or shoulder.

In the early stage of a heart incident, the symptoms may come and go. Sometimes they increase in intensity and frequency as an attack nears. With an impending heart attack, there may be six or more different symptoms that increase in intensity at the same time.

But remember: In over 40% of women who experience heart attacks, there may be no symptoms of chest discomfort at all. It’s important that you become aware of the various symptoms and indicators that are unique to women. And in the meantime, I encourage you to practicing healthy lifestyle habits to prevent disease and keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Sources: /

♥  ♥   ♥

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a physician and cannot advise you if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Please see your doctor for a competent medical opinion if you are.

Mary Buchan

Mary Buchan RN has over 30 years of health and wellness experience. After helping a wide range of people over the years, she recently re-purposed her Nurse’s Cap as a Life Reinvention Coach, Speaker, and Author of the new book Over ItHow to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself.

As a mid-lifer with an empty nest, she blogs about self-discovery, relationships, reinvention, and healthy living.  Her motto: Make the rest of your life the best of your life.  For more information, visit


He Smiled at Me in Key West!

Bigger View

I keep my mind and eyes open for surreal experiences.

I haven’t had many.

Until the other day in Key West…

A statue smiled at me.  A quick smile. Gone in an instant.

But I’m sure I saw it.


I walked closer.

Was he a street artist posing as a statue?

Man Up Close


But his  mouth turned up into a perfect smile. (You can see in the photo that its normal state is an even expression, not a smile.)

I had stopped to take a photo of these naked dancing ladies.

Ladies Dancing

There’s something about naked ladies, especially plumper ones, that makes me think of Friend for the Ride.

You know, body image and menopause.

Granted the sun was hot. One squints, even with sunglasses.

Granted Key West is nicknamed KEY WEIRD.

Granted the margaritas  and mojitos flow here, although up to that point in the day, I had only imbibed in Coke Zero and Lipton Tea.

But I saw that smile as clearly as my own hand.

The smile was a sign.

Naked is good!

Plump. A bit dimpled. A bit saggy is good too.

Painting Up Close

I told my family the story when I returned to our beach house. My son-in-law commented that a guy on the street told him clothing laws are quite loose there.

Next year, who knows!

If one were brave enough to take off her clothes in February for a little dancing, Key West would be a great location.

One Lady

 I’m not going to let the man paint me though.

Not sure I’d see that smile again.

But once was enough!

Menopause, Night Sweats

Haralee! Cool Garments for Hot Women (and a Giveaway)

Hope and Lisa aadorable

A post by Haralee Weintraub, creator of Sleepwear: Cool Garments for Hot Women:

When my doctor asked how many night sweats I had a night, I laughed.

Count them instead of sheep?

I had to reply too many to count!

At age 48 I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, estrogen positive. What that means is estrogen was fueling my cancer, and I had to stop producing estrogen.

The chemotherapy and various injections put me into menopause almost overnight. I went from some one who was always cold to a dripping sweating mess.

I was familiar with wicking clothes from the slopes and trails but could not find anything soft and wicking for sleep.

I took out my 1968 sewing machine I bought with babysitting money years ago and cut up some old bike shorts and fashioned a nightgown.

Thankfully there are no pictures of this first prototype, but it worked. I did not wake up cold, wet or freezing!

I spent the next 2 years sourcing fabric, sewers, and pattern makers to launch my on line company, Haralee.Com Sleepwear.

We launched our line on a local TV show and at a booth at the Race for the Cure.

I use friends as models who are either cancer survivors or have been touched by cancer. I am very lucky to have friends and their daughters brave enough to model pajamas and nighties!

Group shot of 4 models

Barbara is beautifully modeling Holly. Holly was designed for the woman who does not want to pull a top over her head.


We do not use lace so the wicking properties are not reduced.

We do not use buttons or doo-dads for the comfort of belly sleepers.

We use vibrant colors, and flattering styles so our customers just look hot. We make ‘Cool Garments for Hot Women!’

Our pajamas are perfect for travel. They are lightweight, dry quickly, afford a level of modesty for room service or visiting friends, feel wonderful and of course help you stay dry and get a better night sleep.

Never in a million years did I think a cancer diagnosis would lead to becoming a menopausal entrepreneur.

We have helped thousands of women get a better night sleep. Because cancer made such a profound impact on my life we give a percentage of every sale to breast cancer research.

View our line here. For Friend for the Ride readers, enjoy 15% off your purchase with promo code: Ride

Giveaway: Haralee is offering one lucky winner  a pair of pajamas or a nightgown or a set of pillowcases from their line! To enter, please leave a comment  by March 15 saying you’d like to win. US and Canada only. Thanks!

Haralee’s Blog: You can check out Haralee’s blog here!

Haralee Weintraub spent 25 years working for Fortune 500 and 100 companies in sales, marketing, training and management.

Haralee Head shot from Mariane
In 2004, after her invasive breast cancer diagnosis, she looked closely at her career path and chose to become an entrepreneur. Now as the CEO of Haralee. Com Sleepwear she is involved in every aspect of the business. Haralee.Com makes ‘Cool Garments for Hot Women’. It is a company with a lot of heart and a lot of soul and a bit too much sweat! There are many people behind the scenes that make a company run. Haralee thinks she has the greatest people supporting her company. Here are some of the people that are the backbone of Haralee.Com.

The Cabbage Patch! Any takers?


So tell me, is it a good system or a bad one? Reproduction and all the joys and troubles it brings.

Sometimes I think the cabbage patch would have been a better plan.

If babies came from cabbage patches, we wouldn’t have to endure years of periods and then the turmoil of menopause.

Would you trade  the joy of a baby moving in utero for no hormonal woes?

We’d still get to cuddle them, fresh and new; we’d just have to lift a few cabbage leaves to deliver them. How simple would that be?

I suppose there would be a few other rules.

But they could surely be endured with more ease than PMS, cramps, flooding, hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats.

We don’t get to decide, but it’s an interesting question to ponder.

And it gave me an excuse to post the robust head of cabbage I photographed at the North Carolina State Fair.

So fess up!

What’s your pick?

Uterus or cabbage patch?

Multiple Babies In Cabbage Patch, Giant Cabbages 1904

Love this vintage postcard of cabbage patch babies!


Rescuing the Jaws of Life: TMJD and Karate

Whitney and Mouthguard

A post by architect and writer Whitney Morrill:

As we age, does life bring a greater amount of stress, or do we just get lamer at managing it?

I pondered this question with my dentist’s hands in my mouth.

He was fitting me for a mouth guard because at age forty-three, I started clenching my jaw at night.

My teeth were holding up okay, but I was waking at 2 AM with terrible ear pain, akin to the ruptured eardrums of childhood. I resorted to (barely) sleeping upright at night, and wearing a Boppy nursing pillow around my neck to keep pressure off of my ears.

However sexy this get-up, it wasn’t sustainable.

I scheduled an appointment with my dentist, who determined I had Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD). In other words, I was experiencing pain and inflammation in the joint that allows the jaw to rotate and slide.

The involuntary jaw clenching that led to my TMJD was in turn caused by stress. As a residential architect in a housing-driven recession, I’ve had my share of worry in recent years.

Add on motherhood, and a husband with a start-up company, and you have a jaw ripe for clenching.

Whereas some people overeat as a way of coping with uncertainty, my jaw just thought it was overeating. Night after night while I slept, it ground away on….what?

A phantom side of beef?

An illusory log of taffy?

In the mornings at breakfast, my jaw would audibly click out of alignment, sending a groan and shudder around the table.

Fortunately, TMJD isn’t the worst condition to have because it’s treatable. The mouth guard my dentist designed separates my upper and lower dentitions, like a shock absorber. So I’m gratefully pain-free.

The bigger challenge is reducing the stress that causes TMJD in the first place.

After some trial and error, I’ve found that for me, the answer lies with a different kind of mouth guard: the kind you wear when you fight in a ring.

Have you ever seen posters of Bruce Lee and thought, “That is so me.”

Neither had I, until a) my second grade daughter was bullied in school (grind, grind), and b) my family enrolled in martial arts classes to learn self-defense.

We opted for karate, since both my husband and I have lived in Japan. The word “karate” translates to “empty hand,” but if I were the inventor of Japanese, I’d give it the meaning, “fight men; clench less.”

As part of my training, I joined an adult sparring class that pits me, the lone female, against a room full of big men.

I kick. I punch. I blitz. I lose nearly every match I fight. But I keep my teeth, and leave with enough endorphins to ensure a night of idle jaws.

The beauty of sparring is that it’s a socially acceptable way to wail on people. Or more broadly, to wail on life. It’s a chance to see measurable progress for effort applied, and to experience something linear when family and work circumstances zig and zag unpredictably.

Do I confuse my two mouth guards?


Usually not, but I confess that I regularly misplace both of them around the house. As I dig through my belongings searching for the silicone crescents, I imagine one day taking them on an old-time Grand Tour.

Oh look, there they are in front of the Roman Forum.

And my, don’t they look dapper next to Chartres Cathedral!

A little far-fetched? Maybe.

But chew on this: I won’t leave home without them.

WWM head shot

Whitney Woollerton Morrill, a.k.a .The Coconut Girl, is an architect, writer, and mother of two. She designs and writes for families with children. Her interest in supporting new mothers leads to wack creative offerings, such as music videos, and shopping channel spoofs. Find her at and

The Mouth Guards:  Karate  mouth guard is on the left; nighttime mouth guard is on the right.