Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rescued by a Moose!

I'm in the process of consolidating some of my writings over the years and from various places into one location.  "Swirlings" is the chosen illustrious clearing house.  :)

Also on my list for the upcoming year:  a dedicated business blog for Sharmiessence.

For now, I hope you will enjoy reading about how I was once rescued by a moose.  I actually thought I had previously transferred this particular post over to "Swirlings"; but since I couldn't find it, I'll make it today's post.  I must admit . . . it still is one of my favorites!

Originally written on June 14, 2008 . . . 
I absolutely love animals . . . four-legged, winged, amphibious . . . you name it; I love 'em! (and yeah, I know that technically, fowl and sea creatures are not animals, but I hope you know what I mean when I include them with animals).

I've always loved animals; in fact, I'm sure if I investigated it, I would find my ancestry directly descended from Dr. Doolittle.

And quite thankfully, animals love me.

But I most especially love wildlife . . . true wildlife that roam and soar and swim free in their natural habitats.

And apparently (and thankfully), wildlife seem to return the love towards me.

. . . Which brings me to the subject of this particular post.

I arrived in Jackson, WY in 2000 . . . I had been living in Alabama, and had answered an ad in a local newspaper in which Jackson Lake Lodge (in Grand Teton National Park) was seeking temporary (summer) secretarial help.  Having wanted, for the previous 18 years prior to that, to go see the Tetons, I jumped on the opportunity and headed off for an adventure.

While working for the Lodge, I stayed in employee housing, on site.  I enjoyed a 10-minute walk to (and from) work everyday, wandering through nature and marveling at the beauty that my eyes beheld.

I've long since forgotten his name, but there was a bull moose that was the Lodge's unofficial mascot.  He had been hanging out around the Lodge for years.  I'm not sure if he's still alive, but I like to think he is . . . watching over his domain (and non-observant females of the human variety).

Now.  Before I continue on, please allow me to take this opportunity to tell y'all that wild animals are, well, wild.  They're not domesticated, nor should they be.  If ya want a pet, may I suggest a dog, bird, cat, fish or even lizard - if that's your thing.  Trust me when I tell y'all that moose, antelope and buffalo are not tame and will definitely not make good pets.

Respect wildlife.  Please honor the fact that they're wild; that's how they were created to be.

To further this bit of a rabbit trail (pardon the pun), a friend and I were talking about wildlife recently.  She's had the privilege of helping to produce some wonderful wildlife documentary films (Hey Mandy!).  She has told me stories of people trying to hand their babies over to bears in hopes of getting a picture of mama bear holding human baby.  OR, of parents encouraging their kids to go up to a moose or a buffalo and try to pose for a picture with their arms around the animal's neck.  PLEASE DON'T DO THIS . . . not if you care for the safety of your baby or child . . . or even yourself.

Anyway, back to Jackson Lake Lodge in 2000 . . . so this wonderful MooseMascot was usually somewhere in my visual on my walks to and from work.  Sometimes he was so close, I could reach out and pet him, if I were so inclined.  However, going back to respecting wildlife, I never attempted such an activity.  I like to think it was a smart decision on my part.  I would, however, smile at him, wave and say hey.  Sometimes if I felt he was particularly chatty on any given day, I'd ask him how his day was going and tell him how much I was enjoying his home.  (Yes, I really did do this.)

Of course, he never answered my questions; he just kept munching on leaves and such and sometimes staring at me as if he thought perhaps I had eaten one too many unidentifiable wildflowers when I was younger.  Trust me, I know that look.

There were 2 trails that I could take that would lead me to work, and I often alternated which way I went.  One morning while on my way to work (probably about 3 weeks after I had come to Jackson and after 3 weeks of daily and sometimes twice-daily conversations with MooseMascot), I apparently took the wrong trail.

BTW, momma moose are probably one of the most fiercely protective of their babies.  They keep them for 2 years before leaving them on their own.  In those 2 years, though, don't even think about approaching a momma moose if she has a baby with her.  Really.  Don't do it.  Especially, if the calf is newly or recently borne.  Please consider yourself duly warned.

So . . . that particular morning, I walked past a thicket of trees . . . in which I didn't even realize that anyone was using it as their temporary abode . . . the trees were probably about 30-40 feet away from me.

The next thing I remember is hearing a loud, angry snort.  I turned around and there, in all her raging glory, was MommaMoose charging after me.  And man, was she angry!

I threw my purse and stuff up in the air, cried out, "Oh God!  Please help me!" and started running.

But hey, let's get real for a moment, shall we?  I am not a runner; never have been and don't have the desire to ever be.  However, I will concede that running is certainly beneficial to one in certain circumstances . . . say, perhaps, when one has gotten too close to a baby moose and the momma is not pleased about it.

But having not had practice in the fine art of running, I'm sure I wasn't setting any world records or anything.  Plus, MommaMoose had a definite advantage over me . . . her legs were as long as my total height (well, almost . . . if I remember correctly, her legs came all the way up to at least my shoulders).  Plus, she had lots of practice in this talent called running; she probably went to some kind of moose-running school, I'm quite sure.

Did I mention there was a fence between her and me (about 4 feet high)?  Did I also mention that she cleared that fence as if it were a stepping stone?

So . . . now, she's on the same side of the fence as I am; and quite frankly, she is gaining ground at a rather truly alarming rate.

I wanted to sit down and have a good cry about the whole thing, but Wisdom told me that the smarter choice was to hustle my, uhm, rear end as quickly as I could.

About that time, she was probably about 2 feet from me; and as she was yelling at me and probably cussing me out in her own special way, I was now envisioning people in Heaven laughing at me as I told them how I had met my demise.

That's when both she and I heard it . . . a very loud, long roar.  We both froze and stood their staring at each other - me looking up into those very cold, hard angry eyes and she looking down towards me stomping one of her front hooves and rather effusively snorting, well, uhm, moose stuff, through her nose and all over me.  I thought that last part was a bit rude and overboard.  I mean, really.  I wasn't expectorating all over her.  Sheesh.

. . . And thankfully and miraculously, neither had I lost any bodily fluids . . . although I must say that if there were ever a time to wet one's pants, that would have been a quite very valid time.

The noise we both heard?  Why, none other than MooseMascot, himself . . . coming to rescue ME; not her, but ME!  Whatever he had said in Mooseese, he meant it.  MommaMoose wasn't moving a muscle (and quite frankly, neither was I; I had frozen into a 5'4" block of total fear).

From probably about 80 feet away, MooseMascot had seen the ruckus and had literally called a halt to it.

That part was great.  What I would have scripted differently for this unusual wildlife drama was the speed in which he was utilizing in reaching us . . . or rather the lack of speed.

Y'all think I can ramble?!!  Lemme tell y'all; I don't have nothing on MooseMascot in that regard.  He took his own sweet time just walking along; why, he hadn't even cleared the fence yet!

Finally (after what seemed like several lifetimes, but in reality was probably only a few minutes), he joined the little spontaneous tea party his missus and I were having . . . Moose nose-drippings, anyone?

He scolded her sharply (once again, in Mooseese) . . . and then, to my complete and utter amazement (as if this whole thing wasn't astonishing enough), he bit her on her rear end!  Not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to mean business.

He then turned and started to walk away.  She stood her ground and just glared at me.  Me?  I was still trying to figure out how not to be the laughing stock of Heaven of which I was sure I was going to enter during the next ensuing minutes.

When she didn't immediately follow him, MooseMascot let out another one of his very stern bellows. This time, MommaMoose dropped her head and turned around and followed him . . . but  not before she snorted yet another layer of Moose goop all over my face and top.  How very rude.

I suddenly looked at MooseMascot, he and I made eye contact, he kinda swirled his head and then led MommaMoose away.

I was left standing there trying to process what all had just happened when suddenly my brain recovered and yelled at me, 'RUN!"  Which I did . . . in fact, it was probably the fastest I have ever run in my entire life.

I finally arrived at work and told them bits and pieces of what happened.  Amazingly enough, they believed me.  I like to think they believed me because they could see my character of truthfulness shining through and knew I wouldn't make up something like that for being late to work.  But, reality tells me that they probably believed me because my hair was matted with Moose ick and my face and top were covered in it as well.  Having never shown up to work before being similarly decorated, I'm guessing they realized I wasn't trying out the latest fad in weird expressions of uniqueness.

Strange.  For some reason, they thought I had been through enough for one day and gave me the day off.

A couple of days later, I saw MooseMascot on my way home from work and I thanked him for saving my life.  He just kept right on munching on his leaves . . . but somehow, I just know he heard and understood me.  Afterall, there was now a special bond between the two of us, doncha know.

After that incident, I made sure to not get anywhere close to any tree thickets.  I'm sure MooseMascot had a conversation with MotherMoose about how to improve her manners, but I still didn't want to take any chances.

And yes, this really is a true story.

Thanks for reading; be blessed!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Customer Privacy

This is more of a business post focusing on an aspect of what I consider to be part of customer service.

I've noticed a trend lately in my Facebook newsfeed of various self-employed people posting the specifics of who bought what from them; usually conveyed in one of the following two phrases:  "Thanks so much, (insert customer's full name) for purchasing (insert product purchased)! -OR- "Shipping (insert product purchased) to (insert customer's full name) today!"

I believe I understand the concept and even the intent behind both phrases.  With the first phrase, I think the business owners are wanting to thank their customers for their business; and with the second phrase, they are probably just wanting to keep their customer up-to-date on the status of the order.

Both of these are very good things! 


I cringe whenever I see these posts, and I'll tell you why.

Customer Privacy Invasion.

Perhaps, Mrs. So-and-So does not want the web of world wideness to know the specifics of her purchases.  Perhaps the item she just purchased was to be a surprise for one of her FB friends; and now the surprise just might not be very surprise-y, afterall.

I realize that part of my hesitation regarding this trend might stem from my legal secretarial training - client confidentiality is of upmost importance in the legal field.  It's one of the things I prided myself on when I owned and operated my office support business for 25 years.  It's one of the things on which I still place high priority, even regarding my friends and family and non-business issues. 

Too, client and customer confidentiality aside, bringing it down to a personal level - for me, I am simply *not* comfortable with having my purchasing transactions made public.  There's nothing nefarious going on regarding what I buy . . . but what I choose to buy and whom I choose to tell is my prerogative; not that of the business owner.


I didn't know if I was alone in this thinking or not.  I do tend to happily dance to my own tune.  BTW, everyone should have their own tune, doncha think?  I sure think so!

Still, I wanted to find out what other people thought about this trend of publicizing one's customers'  purchases.  So!  I created a one-question survey over at Survey Monkey.  My first survey, btw - Yay!

As of right now, the survey has been up for 2 days and 14 hours.

Here's the question I asked on the survey:
After purchasing something from a small business, how do you feel about having that purchase publicized via that business' Facebook page, Twitter page and/or other Social Media accounts? (examples: "Thank you Jane Doe for purchasing (insert product here)!" -or- "Shipping (insert product here) to Jane Doe; thanks, Jane!"

I posted links to the survey in 3 different places over at Facebook:  on my personal wall, on my business page and within a women's business group to which I belong.

So far, I've had 29 responses to the survey.  The answers I created for people to choose are:
- I like it very much.
- It doesn't matter either way.
- I do not like it.

Here are the results so far:
- 1 person (3.45%) selected, "I like it very much."
- 8 people (27.59%) selected, "It doesn't matter either way."
- 20 people (68.97%) selected, "I do not like it."

Over the majority of the people have indicated that they do not like this trend of business owners announcing customer purchases.  Additionally, several of the comments that I have received in the 3 places where I posted the survey links discuss how the posters feel it is an invasion of their privacy to have their purchases announced in social media.

Posters' suggestions were also made that in lieu of using the customer's full name that either their first name or simply their state be used.  This is a good suggestion; one that I've even used.  I also fully understand one of the other reasons why small business owners are apt to announce their sales:  it's a great way to advertise one's business.  Afterall, if people are buying and other people know about it, then it stands to reason that more people will want to buy, as well.  But, this type of fun advertising *can* be accomplished without violating our customers' privacy.  Aside from being the thoughtful thing to do, it's also smart  . . . 'twould be a shame to lose a customer because they thought their privacy was being ignored.

Regarding keeping your customers informed of the status of their orders, it might be best to stick to PMs, emails and even phone calls.

Regarding thanking your customers for their purchases (which really is a MUST), this can also be accomplished via private electronic communication.  However . . . nothing can beat a hand-written old-fashioned snail mail thank you note!  AND!  For that extra special touch, consider contacting Sharmiessence to have the envelope addressed in calligraphy:

Thanks for reading y'all.
Here's to the success of your business!

UPDATE:  12/6/13; 11:39am
The stats have changed somewhat; still going in the same direction though.  Here are the current results:

- 1 person (3.33%) selected, "I like it very much."
- 8 people (26.67%) selected, "It doesn't matter either way."
- 21 people (70%) selected, "I do not like it."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Mother's Day Post - in November!

I was scrolling through some of my posts on my wall over at Facebook, and I came across the post I wrote this past Mother's Day.  The topic is really more about forgiveness rather than Mother's Day  . . . and forgiveness is *always* a timely topic, doncha know.  :)

So, without futher adieu, I share that particulate post with y'all, here, now.

Mother's Day . . . For some, the holiday is a happy time; either because you're a mom and your kids are loving on you in special ways or because you're a child of a fantastic mother.

For other people, the holiday can be a very painful time; and the reasons range from infertility to unhappy memories of one's mom (and the reasons for the unhappy memories range from one's mother no longer living to having grown up with an abusive mom).

Personally, until a few years ago, I never even paid attention to Mother's Day. In fact, I often was unaware of it's approach unless someone made mention of it or I happened to be in a card store in the few weeks prior to Mother's Day. And, actually, it’s still that way, somewhat. Mother’s Day just isn’t naturally part of who I am.

My own mother was not a happy person. "Technically" my mother was actually my birth grandmother; she adopted me from her daughter (my birth mother) when I was still a baby. My grandmother had her own childhood and adolescent horrors from which she never really recovered, never really was able to make peace with her past and move on. Because of that, she also was a very angry person. Without going into detail, she vented her anger on me in, frankly, some pretty terrifying ways. When I was eight, she became bed-ridden with lung cancer. She remained that way until her death two years later. Even from her sickbed, I was truly frightened of her. I don’t refer to her as my mother (unless it’s for clarity in either what I’m writing or saying); instead, if she enters my thoughts or conversations, she is simply referred to by her first name.

I never met my birth mother. And, again, I’ve always referred to or thought of her simply by her given nickname. I spoke to her only once throughout my entire life. By the time such conversation took place, I was a young adult. The details of the conversation are not important; but at that time in my life, I was not prepared to meet her; I asked her to give me six months and then we could talk again. Six months later, she committed suicide in an women’s alcoholic rehabilitation center. The note she left blamed me. That’s some pretty heavy stuff for anyone to handle; especially a young adult (and such young adult going through her own trials at that time). Obviously, like her own mother, my birth mother had her own dark demons that she was simple not able to conquer.

It took me a few years to be able to come to terms with both of these women and how they influenced my life. I was in my early 30s when I learned the power behind asking Our Lord to help us see individuals as He sees them. I was able to do this with both my birth grandmother and also my birth mother. What I saw was great sadness and despair - in each of their lives. Emptiness. I also saw, in each of them, an inability to forgive those who had harmed them when they were young and vulnerable. It shaped their entire lives.

The brutality that each of them then inflicted upon me (as an infant with my birth mother and as a child with my birth grandmother) would also seem to be unforgivable. By all rights, I should be able to hold bitterness in my heart toward each of them every single day of my life.

Except. As a Christian, no, I can’t do that. In fact, I don’t even *want* to do that. Christians are called to actively forgive the people who have harmed them. We are also called to actively love everyone; *including* our enemies.

The cool thing about truly praying for someone is that one cannot sincerely pray for another human being while holding anger, hurt feelings and/or ill will toward them. Prayer and hate cannot coexist. Prayer and love is the correct combination. And, while, technically, I wasn’t praying *for* these women (both of whom had long since been deceased), I *was* praying that I would be able to forgive them; so they were definitely the subjects of my prayers.

I firmly believe that every commandment Our Lord gives us has a two-fold purpose: (1) to bring Glory and Honor to Him, and (2) to protect us. His commandments are not against us; they are so very much FOR us. They are given to us because He loves us so very much.

The commandment to forgive others . . . yes, obeying that will bring Glory and Honor to Him. It will *also* protect us in huge, huge ways. A forgiving heart is malleable; it is soft and capable of being molded and formed . . . and even reformed when necessary. A unforgiving heart is bitter and brittle, and brittle things tend to shatter  A heart filled with bitterness also prevents Peace and Joy from entering.

I had seen the effects of holding unforgiveness towards someone in how the ripple effects pervaded my own life at the hands of my birth grandmother. I had also experience, somewhat, those same ripple effects by observing some of my birth mother’s life.

I didn’t want to become that kind of person. Frankly, I thought I deserved better. And, I did - and I do. The sad truth is that so did both of these women, but they either didn’t know it or chose not to believe it; they deserved so much better than they allowed into their lives. Everyone deserves better than a living a life of unforgiveness, bitterness and hate.

And, that’s the clincher right there . . . we are the ones that make that choice. I make it for my life, you make it for your own life, and others make it for their lives, as well. We, each of us, can choose to either wrap ourselves in hurtful memories and bemoan, "Why me, Lord? Why?!" OR we can choose to wrap those hurtful memories up into a bundle and give them to Him and ask Him to protect us, to help us forgive, to help us heal . . . and to help us move on with our lives. 

I made the latter choice, and I’m so very glad I did.

I don’t do a lot of thinking about neither my birth grandmother nor my birth mother. There’s really no point in doing so. But, when they do cross mind, I try to remember to pray - that my heart would be protected and that I will be able to remember that what’s done is done, and it’s now all just historical facts; nothing more. The memories can’t hurt me. And, instead of becoming all embroiled again in hurt and anger, I allow myself, when necessary, to feel the pain of these two women not being able to reach beyond their circumstances. They were never able to flourish and know true Peace and Joy. And, that truly is a sadness; an empty, dark sadness. But, even though there’s pain in the realization of their choices, I am protected from that pain. It simply is what it is.

But. I also don’t stay in that place very long; life is for the living. My birth grandmother has been dead for almost 4 decades, and my birth mother, almost 3 decades.  There really is not any use nor good reason in getting stuck in all that old ick and yuck.  Besides, I’d much rather turn my attentions towards things in the moment, and I'd much rather focus on the joyful aspects of my life.

My hope, wish and prayer for each of y’all today is that if you are struggling with unforgiveness towards someone that you will be able to allow Our Lord to help you release that and to replace it with forgiveness . . . and also HIS Peace, HIS Joy.

May Our Lord bless you most abundantly.
Thanks for reading, y’all!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Let's Have an Update!

. . . A very quick update!
  • Currently seizure-free for 18 weeks + 4 days.  Yay!
  • Have been following GARD program for 13 weeks + 3 days.
  • The dizziness is almost completely gone.  This is AMAZING!  The dizzines had progressed to extremely severe and multiple times during any given day since the early part of this year.  Now, its occurrence is rare (and certainly not daily) and is nowhere near as severe as it used to be.
  • Fluorescent lights - those of y'all who know me know that fluorescent lights are *not* my friend.  Going anywhere with fluorescent lights often either proved not doable or would require that I wear sunglasses while under the fluorescents and then also be very mindful as to how long I was exposed to the lighting.  I still avoid fluorescent lights because they still can cause headaches; but this past week, I decided to "try" something and used the fluorescents lights in my kitchen for about 30 minutes - something I just *don't* do because of the severity of the effects (seizures, being one).  It worked so well, that I tried it again the next day!  I still had headaches after each "session", but not that sick, dizzy, disorienting feeling I would normally get when being under fluroescent lighting.  This is HUGE!!!  I still do not believe fluorescent lighting is healthy (for anyone), but being able to tolerate them certainly does open up my world (think about everywhere you go in a day's time that is fluorescently lit).  I still do not tolerate strobing or flickering very well (i.e., a ceiling fan rotating underneath the fan's lights or watching movies in a movie theater); and whether or not that will change, I don't know.  But, the progress I've made with just being able to stand in fluorescent lighting without having to cover my eyes with my hands or to put on sunglasses is absolutely stunning.  It's been years (decades, even) since I've been able to do that.
At this point, I would say that GARD is working.  :) 
Thank You, Lord!

I would appreciate your continued prayers that I am remain seizure-free and that all the other associated things mentioned above continue to improve as well.  As it stands today, they certainly seem to be doing just that!

Thanks for reading,
Y'all be blessed,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cracked Roast and Other Things

. . . The other things, first.
First, nooooo talk of seizures today (well, I goofed that up already, didn't I?)  :) 
But really, there truly is more to life than seizures . . . however, since I did mention it and for those of y'all who are wanting a count, today marks just 4 days shy of 16 full weeks of being seizure-free.   The utter bliss of it all! WooHoo!  Yay!!  And thank You, Lord!  Let's keep those weeks turning into months, turning into years.
One more health "thing" for today; and then on with talking about cracked roast (are ya intrigued yet?).
I had a skin cancer check done earlier this week.  There have been spots popping up on my arms, legs and various other sundry skinful places lately ("lately", as in over the past several months) - and even more so than "usual"  I've had spots appear here and there for years (decades, even); that wasn't the unusual part.  The unusual part was the speed and prolification of these illustrious, uhm, friends.
Y'all will be glad to know (as was I) that none of the spots are cancerous; I'm merely going through an anomaly that the medical field likes to call "aging".  The nerve! 
Spotted Sharmies, by the way, are pretty rare, I hear.  In fact, I'm the only one that I personally know of.  I'm thinking of selling T-shirts to commemorate this new phase of my life.  Y'all can all wear them to help promote awareness.  They'll be fuchsia pink in color with pale brown spots splattered here and there.  The front of the t-shirt will proclaim:  "I spotted Sharmie today; have you?"  Whatcha think?  Pretty catchy, right?  I'm sure I'll need to order several thousand for the first printing.
Hmmm . . . :) 
So!  At any rate, I'm deeming myself healthy and am moving forward!
OK - on with talking about cracked roast.  Not "crack" roast; I'm not now infusing my dinners with drugs; let's be clear on that. 
Cracked roast.
This is a recipe that Tex and I created yesterday.  I'm pretty excited to share it with y'all.  I hope y'all like it!
This recipe needs to be followed exactly; it's pretty precise.
Oh - and you'll need a helper for this recipe; that part is crucial.  My helper was, of course, Tex.  Your helper can be your spouse, your significant other, your friend, your boss, your co-worker, your business partner, your client; absolutely whomever you choose.
When sharing recipes with y'all, I normally like to list the ingredients first and then the instructions.  Today, I'm going to list the recipes throughout the instructions.
Let's get going!
  1. Around noon, take the chuck roast that has been thawing all morning, and put it in the crock pot.  Add a bit of sea salt, some white pepper and some cloves of garlic (I used about 4 of them - we love garlic).  Add water, cover the lid and set the roast to cook for 5 hours on low.
  2. During all of this, your helper will need to be doing yard work in the front yard.  This is very important; do not skip this step.
  3. After you get the roast going, retreat to your studio for the next several hours to catch up on a few things.  If you don't have a studio, build one.  Again, this is a very important step that must be done if you want the recipe to be a success.
  4. About 5 hours later, go check on the roast.  It is at this stage of cooking that you should notice the lid to the crock pot is completely shattered.  Completely.  Every single millimeter of it.  It will take you a few seconds to mentally process what you're seeing.  Then, you will probably quickly offer up a prayer of thanks to Our Father that the crock pot lid was made out of safety glass; and that even though the entire lid is shattered into bits, it remained "intact and whole" and there were no bits of glass on the counter top or on the floor.  Better still, there were only 1 or 2 pieces of glass in the roast that is happily cooking in the crockpot.
  5. Walk outside to your helper (who is still doing yard work).  Smile sweetly to Helper Person, and inform them that you require their assistance inside for a bit.  I said something along the lines of "Sweeeettiiieeeee . . . would you come inside please; it's important and I need your help."  You may use this particular conveyance if you'd like; but do please be aware that depending on who your helper is, you might want to modify the nickname to something more appropriate for them . . . unless your business partner or employer enjoys being called pet names - that completely between y'all.
  6. This next step is VERY important.  The two of y'all should now stand in front of the crock pot and look at it, then at each other.  Repeat this a couple of times.  Think incredulous; that's the mood you want to project; and then speak that with your eyes and facial expressions.
  7. Helper Person will then lift the lid oh-so-very-carefully off of the crock pot so as to not allow any of the shattered glass bits to fall into the dinner.  You will then plate the roast, take it over to the sink and then wash it thoroughly to remove any particles of glass that may have fallen down into the crock pot and onto the meat.  I didn't consider it necessary to use soap for this task; but I'll leave that part to your discretion; it is, afterall, YOUR dinner, not mine.
  8. Then select your large strainer and hold it over a bowl while Helper Person  pours the liquid from the crock pot into the strainer.  Discard anything remaining in the strainer.
  9. Place meat and liquid into second crock pot.  Now would be an appropriate time to thank Our Father again; this time for owning two crock pots in the first place.
  10. Kiss Helper Person (again, this step may vary a bit with you; it depends on the specific relationship you and Helper Peson have with each other.  Tex and I thought a kiss was most appropriate at that particular juncture).
  11. This is the step where Helper Person goes out into the garage to air up your tires on your tri-wheeler, while you hurry to put on trike-friendly shoes so you can zip up to the grocery store before it gets dark.  One cannot have roast without onions and mushrooms, doncha know.
  12. After airing your tires (well, actually, your trike's tires), Helper Person can now go back outside and resume yard-working.
  13. While you're triking to the store, realize how incredibly windy it is and that the wind is definitely not at your back, but in front of you, creating a resistance.  As is the case whenever this happens, pretend you're at a Bob Seger concert and rock your best version of "Against the Wind."  Smile at the passerbys in cars as they drive past you; it will give them something to ponder for a few moments.
  14. Once you arrive at the store, respond to a phone call from Helper Person who tells you to call y'all's youngest daughter to chat with her about the ingredient measurements in your chicken and dumpling recipe (of which, does *not* require cracked glass).  Remember again (as if you could ever forget) how much you absolutely love, love, *love* cooking; even when glitches happen.  For this step, if you don't have a daughter, you may substitute any loved one your heart thinks of at the moment.
  15. After you arrive back home, throw some fresh onions, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes into the crockpot.  I like to chop or dice these goodies; you're free to skip this step if you so desire.  (But don't blame me if they don't cook thoroughly.)  Stare at the celery waiting to be cut, then change your mind because (a) you're over cutting up veggies at the moment and (b) the crock pot is full; there simply is no room left to add anything else.  Cook on low for a couple more hours.
  16. Eat your dinner.  Glass-free.  Enjoy!
See?!  Was I right?  Is this not the most fabulous recipe of all times?!

Do you think it will be featured on the Food Network?  I should probably start planning the outfit I will wear when they interview me . . .

As always, thanks for reading!
Let me know when you'd like to come over for dinner; I'll be sure to make the above dish for you.  You'll love it!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sometimes a rock is just a rock

I had my appointment yesterday for the MRI followup.

And, without futher adieu, everything is fine.  My doctor said that other than the calcified tumor, there was nothing else that showed up in the MRI (well, hopefully, they did find a brain, but that's a whole 'nuther blog post).  She told me to come back in a year or two so she could make sure that the tumor was indeed not growing (calcified tumors *rarely* grow).  Oh, and she also said there wasn't any tissue swelling around the tumor (a *very* good thing, indeed), so she didn't see any reason why I would need surgery.  Additionally, the tumor was not negatively affecting anything.

Good news all the way around!  Thank You, Lord!
The cool thing in all of this is that for the vast majority of the time while we were waiting these past several weeks, I didn't really give "it" that much thought.  Periodically, a thought or two would swirl around my grey matter; but it just wasn't a big looming thing in my life.  THAT's the Peace of Our Lord, and it's a wonderful, precious gift!

I also told Tex that there was a part of me that was just a bit dissapointed that nothing showed up on the MRI (other than the rock rolling around in my head.  OK, it doesn't really roll; it's located in one specific spot).  To explain, just like the other MRIs that I have had (most of those being in my early to late 20s), nothing showed up to explain the "why" of the seizures.  My doctor did said that it was possible that the tumor had been there all these years and just now decided to manifest itself . . . but the tone of her voice indicated that while it was possible, it most likely was not actuality.  I tend to agree with such a scenario not being reality.

So.  Where did the seizures come from in the first place?  Why did I start having seizures?  Who knows?  I'll probably never know for sure.  That's actually part of the mystery of most seizure disorders in the first place.  Seizures happen.  Sometimes an explanation can be given; often times, however, there simply are no answers.  There ya go.

In related "news", I've been following the GARD eating program for 8 weeks + 4 days.  One of the most noticeable effects that I have noticed is that the dizziness has drastically decreased!  This is awesome!  There is still *some* dizziness; but it is occasional and not nearly as severe.  I began noticing the difference about 3 weeks into following GARD.

Currently, I have been seizure-free for 13 weeks + 5 days.  I checked the seizure history on my calendar; and the longest seizure-free time period just within the past 14 months has been 16 weeks + 5 days.  The longest seizure-free time period within the past 3.5 years has been 19 weeks + 1 day.  My hope is that the 13+ weeks that I currently have under my seizure-free belt will continue to add more and more days, with those days turning into weeks, months and even many, many years.

Onward and upward!

My thanks to all of y'all who have been praying for me and who have been covering me with your love and support.  I so very much appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!
Be blessed,

p.s.  I told my doctor about GARD and also told her that if I remained seizure-free for a year, then I was going to assume that GARD was working for me; but if I do have a seizure before next October, I will come back in to see her and re-evaluate things.  What I didn't say (but what I know that she clearly heard) was that as long as GARD was working for me, then there was absolutely no way that I would even consider anti-seizure meds.  Her laugh told me that she had heard everything I said; both what I had verbalized and what I implied but left unsaid.  I was prepared to be more direct regarding my stance against anti-seizure meds; but she's a smart cookie, has a good memory and caught on very well with what exactly I was relating to her.   

I really like this doctor.  She disagrees with my stance regarding anti-seizure meds (but unless a doctor is a naturopath, I imagine they would disagree with me) . . . BUT, she doesn't talk condescendingly to me regarding my views and she respects them.  I like that.  So VERY much!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dairy-free Sausage / Potato / Kale Soup

About a year ago, one of our nieces sent me a recipe link and asked me if I could modify it to being dairy-free.  And, so I did.  And, it seemed to be a hit.  That's always a plus, doncha know.  Always.

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook about a one-woman cooking marathon day I was holding; and one of the dishes I mentioned was the Sausage / Potato / Kale soup (dairy-free).  I've since received a couple of requests for the recipe; and so I decided to share it here in Swirlings.

A few notable mentions, before I post the recipe . . .

I am a hands-on, go-with-the flow kinda cook.  I don't always follow the recipe; not even ones that I've created myself or ones that I've modified from other people's recipes.  I improvise.  I go with the flow.  Truth be known, I pretty-much do whatever I want when I'm cooking.  Baking?  That's a different story; I *usually* follow the recipe . . . well as closely as possible anyway.  Ha!

Specific to this recipe: 
  • Sometimes I thinly slice the potatoes just like the directions lead; other times I usually dice or rough chop the potatoes.  Do y'all know how much time it takes to thinly-slice potatoes without a mandoline?  My goodness!
  • The recipe calls for Italian Sausage.  Several months ago, I stopped using sausage (any kind) (in / with / for anything) and switched to ground pork (I then dress up the pork with sage, basil and/or other herbs).  Did y'all know that most sausages contains corn syrup?!  And - if you know me, then you know that I do not intentionally eat nor prepare food using containing corn syrup.  There ya go.
  • I usually (always) use 2 pounds of meat (not just a measley 1 - 1.5 pounds).
  • It's much quicker for me to use scissors and cut up the kale than it is for me to tear the kale into pieces with my hands.  Just another time saver that I like to employ.
  • And just this very moment, as I was pasting the recipe into this blog post, I realized that I did not add the red pepper flakes into the soup from a few days ago.  'Tis a sadness, to be sure; I like red pepper flakes.
OK - on with the recipe:

Dairy-Free Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup
by Sharmie

2 bunches Kale (more, if desired)

12 whole Red Potatoes, sliced thin (peeling left on)

1 whole Onion, chopped

1-1/2 pound Italian Sausage

1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more to taste)

2-3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth

Fresh or Dried Oregano

Black (or white) Pepper To Taste (my preference for this recipe is white pepper)

4-6 additional red potatoes (Quartered. Your choice as to whether to peel them or not)

2-4 additional cups low sodium chicken broth

Preparation InstructionsClean the kale; tear into bit-size pieces. Set it aside.

In a medium pot, boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour 2 cups additional chicken stock into a blender. In an additional medium pot, boil the quartered potatoes until tender. Drain and add to blender. Set aside to cool a bit (without blending, yet).
Brown the sausage in the same manner that you would brown ground beef. Drain the fat.

Stir in red pepper flakes, oregano and 2 cups chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Adjust seasonings as desired.

Blend together the chicken stock and quartered potatoes in the blender, increasing the speed incrementally. Add more chicken stock as necessary. The puree should be a consistency between liquid and paste; more thick than thin.

Add sliced potatoes to soup mixture.

Slowly add potato / chicken stock mixture from blender into soup mixture. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add kale to soup mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes; then serve.

I hope y'all enjoy this recipe.  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know, here in Swirlings.  If you like this recipe, please share this blog post to your Facebook world.

Thanks for reading!
Be blessed,

p.s. -
The above recipe was modified from a recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s website.  The original recipe calls for over 6 cups of combined whole milk, half & half and heavy cream.  In my recipe above, all 3 of those ingredients have been replaced with potatoes and chicken stock (in addition to the potatoes and chicken stock called for in the original recipe).

If you would like the original recipe that contains dairy, click HERE.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Facing Fear and Moving Forward

This is one of those blog posts that has been swirling around in my grey matter for several months now.  Sometimes a blog post inspiration will hit and I can immediately sit down and type it out right then and there (or as close to then and as close to there as possible).  Other times, a blog post will only initially show me glimpses of itself and then simmer among my thoughts for a while before it is truly ready to see the light of day.  Fiddle, just between you and me, I've had some writings simmering for a few years.  Yep.  They're simply not ready until they're ready.  There ya go.

Something else about today's blog post; and of which is very rare for me:  I still don't have the title for it.  Usually, I know the title before I even type the first word of the blog entry; today is not such a time.  Let's hope that I have a title for this little gathering of words before I need to post it; I'd hate for it to wander aimlessly through the web of world wideness without a name for itself.

Happily, I don't dwell in too many fears, or rather, the fears do not dwell in me.  I'm a big believer in giving fears over to Our Lord and letting His Peace reside where the fears were trying to bully their way in.  Life works better for me that way.  Did you know that the Bible is replete with passages telling us not to fear (regardless of the reason for the fear)?  Absolutely replete.   Fear not!  Do not be afraid!  Again and again, His Word commands us to not fear. 

Speaking of commands, I firmly believe that every command that Our Lord gives us has a two-fold purpose:  the first is obviously to glorify and honor Him.  The second purpose is to protect us.  Every command carries a blanket of protection for us; either physical protection, emotional protection, spiritual protection or a combination of any any or all of these types of coverings.

And yet, even knowing this, even firmly believing it down to my bones, I still have a few fears that seem to taunt me.  The thing about fears is that if we allow them to hang around, then they also become huge obstacles in our lives.

And, that's why I'm writing about two specific fears today . . . I no longer want such univited guests in my life.  So, I'm going to bring them out of the inner recesses of my thoughts and expose them - here, where anyone who wishes to read about them may.  Fears love secrecy; it's one of their most potent weapons that they wield.  Take away the secrecy and fears tend to wither and blow away.

Y'all may remember reading in my most previous blog post that I have had more than a few seizures while taking a shower (or soon after getting out of the shower).  In fact and without exaggeration, not only have these "shower seizures"  caused more than one serious injury to myself, it has also cost Tex and me more than a couple of thousand dollars repairing damages to the bathroom because of such stupid seizures (of course, *all* seizures are stupid in my opinion; these, especially so).  I'll elaborate if you want me to; but you'll have to specifically ask.

So, without realizing it, somewhere along the line I developed a fear of taking showers.  Most of my showers are taken while I'm the only person at home.  And, almost. every. single. time. . . . thoughts of shower seizures enter my grey matter at some point during the shower.  Sometimes I wait till Tex gets home to take my shower; but that's not really very feasible for myriad reasons; one of them being that often in the evenings, we are on a time schedule for one thing or another.  For those of y'all who are now saying to yourself, "So, take your shower first thing in the morning" - that's not really a possibility neither . . . for whatever reason, taking a shower "first thing" after I wake up is usually a guarantee of a seizure.  There ya go.

Most of the time, this goofy fear is simply a nuisance.  Yes, I really would like to be able to attend to my personal hygiene without having to think and pray myself through the process every time.  I truly don't like that seizures take up so much of my thoughts and attention.  But other times, the fear is a bit more looming.  No, I'm not huddled up cowering in a corner because of this; but still, being skittish about taking a shower can be quite intrusive . . . not to mention just a big dumb nuisance.

The other fear that I want to tell y'all about today deals with, of all things . . . seizures.  Yep.  Them, again.  This time, in regards to how they affect my business.

Back in July, I wrote this post about some of the after-effects of having a seizure.  It can take a few days to physically heal from a seizure; longer, if there are serious injuries.  It can then take a few more days to be able to come out of the mental funk that I find myself in post-seizure.  Remembering that what's going on is a direct result of the seizure and reminding myself and doing what I can to get past it is all well and good . . . and, I'd like to take a moment right here to say absolutely God bless my wonderful husband, for he does everything he can to help me get through the "post-seizure" stage.  I deeply love and cherish that man; for myriad upon myriad reasons.

. . . Even remembering and knowing and doing everything I can to recover as quickly as possible after a seizure, it still can take more time than I'd like and it still can temporarily bring my world to a bit of a halt.

Therein lies the fear regarding seizures and my business.  How will I be able to meet deadlines if I'm trying to recover from a seizure?  That has been pervading my thoughts for a couple of years now; and I truly believe it is one of the reasons why I have been so slow to actually fully bring my business out of hiatus.  There ya go.  I've written it and have brought that ugly, ugly fear to the light of day.  And now, I'm truly fighting to not delete what I have just written; for I don't really want y'all to know how much I have struggled with this.  I also don't want to lose credibility and I don't want to appear unprofessional.

I want y'all to think that I have it all together.  But.  Those seizures . . . those stupid seizures . . .  they interfere and muck up things.

BUT!  There are people out there being very successful in their businesses while dealing with various illnesses, disorders or diseases.  So, why not me?  Yes, why not me?!!   Most definitely!

I have a seizure history.  Hopefully the last seizure I had will be the last seizure I'll ever have.  That is always my hope and my prayer; especially given the recent developments during the past few months and coupled with the new information I have learned.

But these fears - about taking showers and about running my business . . . they're all about "what ifs".  I don't want to live my life based in fear of "what ifs".  I want to live my life, living it in the here and the now. 

Today, at this very moment, I am seizure-free.  In fact, as of right now, I have been seizure-free for 12 weeks and 2 days.  WooHoo!  THAT's what I want to focus on; not on the ick and yuck of "what-if"-based fears.

I leave you with one of my favorite "Fear not!" Scriptures:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

                                                       (Isaiah 41:10)

I'd love to hear from you.  Are you struggling with a certain fear in your life?  My encouragement to you is to let it go!  Get rid of that stumbling block; it has no value to you whatsoever.

Thanks for reading!
Y'all be blessed,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hot Showers and Cheese

Are you intrigued yet?  Wondering what the connection is between hot showers and cheese?  Wondering if I'm making cheesy messes while washing my hair?

Believe it or not, there is a connection between the two; well, at least for me.

OK, raise your hand if you love taking long hot showers.  Did your hand go up?  Mine did.

Now, raise your other hand (because since I haven't said to put your "first" hand down, it should still be raised) . . . raise your other hand if you love cheese.  Yep, I just raised my other hand.  BTW, do you know how challenging it is to type with both hands raised in the air?

Back to the showers (figuratively, not literally).

I am one of those people whose face is purple after getting out of the shower.  I love hot showers.  LOVE them.  After a long day, a grimy chore, a long workout, or anytime in the winter, is there anything better than staying in a steaming hot shower for 5 extra minutes?

For the past 13 years, since the seizures (boo, hiss) stopped being nocturnal and started occuring during my waking hours, most of those seizures have occurred in the early morning hours.  Retrospectively, so many of those early morning seizures have taken place after my morning shower.

Somewhat quasi-recently, probably within the past 5-6 years, I started periodically having seizures in the shower.  Yep,  actually in the shower . . . while showering.

During the past 3.5 years, the very vast majority of the seizures have happened while I was taking a shower.  The most recent one (back in July, when I "broke" my face) . . . that seizure happened very soon after getting out of the shower.

This has been quite a puzzle for me . . . why do the seizures occur during the shower?  For the longest time I thought it was a weird anomaly about me (btw, aren't *all* anomalies weird?  I'm ok with the redundancy; I hope you are as well).

I recently learned that while not the norm among people who have seizures, neither is it completely rare.  There *are* other people who experience seizures while taking a shower (or bath).

The reason? 

I'm glad you asked!

Elevated histamine levels.

Histamine levels rise not only because of allergies (which, if you're talking about plant and pollen type allergies, I'm not aware that I have any), but histamine levels can also rise due to heat.  Hot showers are a good source of heat.  There ya go.

(This also explains why I don't just dislike extremely hot temperatures, but why I also feel, well, icky, if I stay outside too long in the summertime).

So.  Those long hot showers that I loved taking?  They're a seizure trigger.  Go figure.  Because I prefer to be seizure-free and because having a seizure while taking a shower is not really the funnest activity I can think to do, I now take lukewarm showers (and I still come out looking purple, btw - that was bonus information). 

There's nothing really luxurious about taking a lukewarm shower.  It kinda takes the joy out of the whole experience.  And, now that the weather is turning a bit chilly, I imagine it's going to be interesting (and a bit, uhm, brisk) to forgo that steamy water raining down on me.  BUT.  I'd much rather take luke-warm showers and be seizure-free than throw common sense to the wind and risk a seizure because I wanted 5 minutes of a hot shower. 

But, what does that have to do with cheese? 

Absolutely nothing.

But.  There still is a connection between hot showers and cheese; at least for me.

The similarity?


Yep, they both are seizure triggers.  They're both also something with which I've had quite the love affair for oh so many years.  Decades, in fact.

Man, I love cheese.  I don't think I've met a cheese that I haven't absolutely over-the-moon enjoyed (except for cottage cheese).  Cheese for snacks, cheese as ingredients in cooking and baking.  Cheese, cheese, cheese.  I imagine that if I had been born in Wisconsin, I would have eventually become the state's cheese mascot.

But, alas.

Cheese, like hot showers, are known seizure triggues.  On the GARD eating program (of which I've now been following for 6 weeks and 4 days), dairy is one of the restrictions; specifically because of the casein.  Cheese is loaded with casein.  In fact, in Latin, "casein" is "caseus", which means, of all things . . . cheese.  There ya go.

But, again . . . I prefer being seizure-free.  So, if giving up one of the most perfect foods ever discovered is the price to pay, I'll gladly pay it.  Well, most of the time, it will be gladly.  I must admit to having a bit of a cheese craving for the past couple of weeks.  Oh well, this too shall pass.

A couple of footnotes, please.

A few well-meaning people have suggested to me that since hot showers are seizure triggers that I, instead, take baths.  I'd like to address that, if I may.

Remember, hot water is hot; regardless as to whether it is from a shower or from a tub.  Part of the wonderfulness of a bath is that the water is hot; and while there may be people out there who enjoy sitting in a tub of lukewarm water, I personally do not know of them, and I am definitely not one of them. 

Also, perhaps I can encourage you to look at it from a safety standpoint.  It's dangeous enough to have a seizure in a shower; but if someone has a seizure while sitting in a tub of water, that seems to me to be even more dangerous because the likelihood of drowing increases dramatically.

And now the footnote for cheese.
While there are cheese substitues "out there", they're truly not my cup of tea (although, no, I have never put cheese in my tea).  Being a purist, a health & nutrition researcher, an ingredient label reader and lastly, cheese snob, I would simply rather forgo cheese entirely than to partake of "fake cheeses".  There ya go.

Now.  I could bemoan that I no longer enjoy long hot showers or cheese in all it's goodness.  I could do that, most definitely.  But . . . Why would I want to do that?  It would not serve any good purpose; and in fact, it would get inside my head and eventually infect my heart as well (ungratefulness, bitterness, pity parties - yuck!).  Who wants to intentionally invite that kind of negativity into their lives?  Not me; that's for sure.

Instead, I choose go with "It is what it is."  I choose to roll with it and adapt.  Hopefully, most of the time, I will be rolling and adapting with a cheerful attitude.

Which brings me to something else . . . It's not a matter of "I can't take hot showers" or "I can't eat cheese".  Pretty-much I can do whatever I want.  Pretty-much you can do whatever you want. 

We all make choices; myriad choices every day.

I simply choose to not take hot showers and I choose to not eat cheese.

I cringe when I hear people say, I can't do such and such or I can't eat this or that.  Sure, you can!  Like me, you can do whatever you want.

What you and what I need to decide is what exactly is it that we want?

For instance, if someone is on a particular restrictive diet (for whatever reason), do they want to achieve the results of the diet more than they want to eat whatever specific goodie that might be prohibitive for that particular eating progam - OR - do they want to say, "I don't care about achieving results; I want to eat this, and I want to do it now."  

The same principle applies to other aspects of our lives; not just what we eat or don't eat.  Everything's a choice.

Once a person has established their priorities, it is much easier to make choices.  They are no longer bound by what they are "not allowed" to do; they are, instead, taking control of their life and making choices for their life.  There's a strength that comes from making intentional choices versus living with the mindset of restrictions.

For me, hot showers and cheese are seizure triggers (so are a few other things, if truth be known).  For me, I choose to avoid hot showers and I choose to not eat cheese - because the result I am trying to achieve (seizure-free) is much greater, much more enticing, than anything that any seizure trigger could pretend to offer me.

Thanks for reading!  Here's to making awesome choices!
Y'all be blessed,

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Quick Update on the MRI

Some of y'all have asked me how my appointment went on October 2nd . . . and for that, thank you so much for remembering and for y'all's care and encouragements!  I truly appreciate that.

Due to a family emergency and my going out-of-town last week, I rescheduled the appointment to October 21st.  So, in the meantime, I'm still going on the premise that no news is good news.

When I called to reschedule the appointment, I did ask that if something serious had shown up on the MRI if someone would be calling me instead of waiting for the scheduled appointment date.  It was then that I learned that, for whatever reason, the imaging place that conducted the MRI never sent the results to my doctor.  A bit disconcerting, yes, but I had other things going on at that moment that were definitely more of a priority.  The lady I spoke with said she would call the MRI place immediately and have them fax over the results. 

That was a week ago, today; and since I've not heard anything from my doctor's office, I'm still choosing to go with "no news is good news".

So!  Onward to October 21st.

In the meantime, y'all be blessed.

Thanks for reading,

And for those of y'all that are wondering what in the world I'm talking about, here's a couple of links to catch you up:

"What - Do You Have Rock in Your Head or Something?"

"Midway to MRI Results"

. . . and, of course, you're always welcome to browse through Swirlings' blog archive and read anything that catches your attention (listed in reverse chronological order, in the right hand margin). 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Midway to MRI Results

It was two weeks ago, today, that I had the MRI.  In approximately 2 weeks, Tex and I will learn the results.

You know? . . .
. . . For the vast majority of the time, I've been pretty peaceful and calm about the whole thing.  I know the source of such Peace and Calm.  It comes directly from Our Lord; it's HIS Peace and HIS Calm.  And thank You, Jesus, for that very precious gift.

Two weeks ago, I also decided that I was going to go on the premise that "no news is good news".  I'm guessing that if there was something of significant and immediate importance, that one of my doctor's colleagues would contact me, without waiting for my doctor to come back to work (to remind y'all, she's out of the office for the month of September; hence the reason for waiting so long to get the results of the MRI).

This particular mindset has been working well for me.  Periodically (but also infrequently), a "what if" will squirm its way into my grey matter and whisper to me, "What if there is something wrong even though no one calls you before your appointment?" 

"What ifs" generally are not very productive; at least not in scenarios such as these.  So I flit it away with a wave of my hand and then come back to focusing on the present.  I'll find out the results when I find out . . . and it will be at that time that I'll deal with the facts; whether they bring good news or whether they bring challenges.

In the meantime, please know that I very much appreciate those of y'all who have shown support and given me encouragement during these past couple of weeks!  Thank you!

In other (but related) news, y'all may remember that I mentioned a plan that I had put into place.  Part of that plan is following the GARD eating program.  GARD = "Glutamate-Aspartate Restricted Diet".  It also has come to stand for "Gut Absorption Recovery Diet".  It's a healing eating plan designed specifically for those of us who have seizures.  Y'all can read more about it by clicking HERE

Nutshelling it down, it's an eating program that restricts Soy, Corn, Casein and Gluten.  The soy was a no-brainer.  I've known for many years now that soy is a seizure trigger (additionally, it's also a neuro toxin in other ways, and it's also carcinogenic).  The corn was pretty easy as well; I'm not really a corn eater (although I did very much enjoy making my annual cast-iron skillet cornbread every time a new year rolled around). 

The casein?  Well, I've never really been a milk drinker, but boy did I love my cheeses!  And, yogurt.  Plain yogurt; not that stuff that is ladened with corn syrup in the guise of fruit.  And ice cream.  Real ice cream without all the chemicals and toxins.  And butter.  Real butter.  Real, unsalted butter.  Fortunately, butter is actually "allowed" because the casein content is so low, it's negligible. 

An interesting side note:  as some of y'all may know, goat dairy products have a much smaller casein content than that of their bovine cousins.  This means that I might still be able to occasionally indulge in cheeses; I'm still researching this (from the angle of seizure triggers).  And, one day, I'm going to make ice cream from coconut milk; I've been telling myself this for several months, so perhaps this new way of eating will be the catalyst for that.

The gluten?  Gluten is probably the most complicated aspect of this particular eating journey that I have embarked upon.  Gluten is in myriad foods - from various grains, to some nuts & seeds, to even dried beans.  Even meats contain gluten (albeit in small amounts).  That's probably been the most significant change; restricting gluten from what I eat. 

Ironically, grain-wise, I really don't eat much bread unless I make it myself (most commercially-prepared bread has soy in it in at least one form, sometimes more - along with other ingredients that I do not like to consume; i.e., corn syrup and unpronounceable chemical words).  But, pasta is a completely different story.  Tex loves pasta . . . and if I'm honest, so did I.  :)

So.  I've been following the GARD way of eating for 25 days now.  And, while I don't believe there are any GARD-specific cookbooks out on the market (yet), I have purchased a couple of cookbooks that deal with one or two aspects of GARD (even though that wasn't the focus of the books).  I ignore (or modify) the recipes that contain soy, corn, casein and/or gluten, and I focus on the recipes that are GARD-friendly.  I've also found a pretty neat blog that, for the most part, has recipes that I can use (or adapt) for this new lifestyle.  It's still a fairly new blog to me; so I'm going to give it some more time to "test it out" so-to-speak before I provide a link to it, here in "Swirlings".

Are ya wondering what I actually do eat?  Great question!  :)  Basically, I eat fresh produce (both fruits and veggies - including potatoes), meat (from a variety of creatures), rice and eggs.  Oh, and herbs and clean spices, too - I love my herbs and spices!

I consider it a huge blessing that I have 26+ years of food research and label-reading behind me.  It has made the transition to GARD pretty easy.  Before implementing GARD, I already did not eat the very vast majority of packaged foods, I avoided soy and lab-created chemicals pretty-much across the board; and for the past 2.5 decades, I have truly loved to cook real and healthy food, from scratch.

So, there you have it; an update of sorts, while I count down to October 2nd.  Again, my thanks to those of y'all who have checked up on me and offered their encouragements.  I love my friends!

And remember . . .
If you pray, why worry?
If you worry, why pray?

Thanks for reading!  Y'all be blessed,

p.s.  Anyone else find it amusing that I'm following an eating plan designed by a veterinarian?  I personally find it pricelss in a very weird and wonderful way!  :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Driving School 101

Most people (hopefully) know that they are supposed to stop at a stop sign.

And.  When the stop sign is at the exit lane of a school, that is even more significant.

Oh.  Also, most people know that the roads surrounding schools have a slower speed limit; especially so when traveling on school property.

As I was walking Lizzee this morning, I was crossing the entrance / exit lanes to a school.  I was already half-way across when a SUV-driving mom came zooooooming down the exit lane . . . when she reached the stop sign, she looked at me, looked at the stop sign and then breezed on through, without even stopping.  Lizzee and I were just mere feet from DoodleHead Mom. 

I was not impressed.

I truly consider it Our Lord's Protection that we had not walked further than we had when this woman came careening down the exit lane.

I'm pretty sure I would not appreciate being hit by a car just because someone is in a hurry and believes that she is exempt from obeying traffic laws . . . but please don't make matters worse and hit my dog!  Additionally, given the amount of kids that walk to this school, it would be horrendous if one of them was hit by a car simply because the driver was in too big of a hurry and couldn't be bothered with stopping at a stop sign.

(Tomorrow, I'm going to have my phone's camera ready to snap photos; and if I encounter her and she's driving the same way she drove today, I'm going to take a picture of her license plate so I can share it with our local police.  Perhaps they can encourage her to drive more responsibly).

Consider this a PEA.  Hey; whaddya know?!  Two PEAs in a row; one today and one yesterday. 
I must be feeling bossy.  No, wait.  Not bossy . . . I'm tapping into my inner educator.  Yep, that's it.
After all, it's a PEA, not a PBA.  Ha!

And, of course, today being 9/11, I'm sure most people's thoughts are on the events that took place 12 years ago.  May Our Lord bless and comfort all of the families who lost loved ones during those horrible events of that day.

Thanks for reading y'all!
Be safe,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Observations on Customer Service

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm sure I'll be writing more about seizures and other applicable neurological topics, but today's post is taking a different path.

Tex and I went to a Home and Garden Show over the weekend.   For the vast majority of our time, we really enjoyed ourselves.  We got ideas for future projects, chatted with different people and gave our legs some walking exercise.

There were two very glaring exceptions.  Both of these involved our stopping at booths to look at products.  In the first instance, the man approached us and asked if we wanted to buy such and such.  After Tex responded that we were just looking, the man immediately and angrily walked away.  Then, less that 3 feet from me, he told his co-worker - in words loud enough for me to hear, "Man, this day sucks.  Nobody's buying anything."

Hmmm . . .

The next exception to our wonderous stroll through the marketplace was somewhat similar, yet different at the same time.  I had stopped to look at a product that Tex and I have discussed purchasing sometime down the road - you know when it fits our budget priorities a bit better.  The man working the booth came up to me and asked if I was interested in making a purchase.  My response was, "Well, not today," and before I could even draw breath again to finish my sentence, the representative huffed and then walked away from me.  The rest of my sentence, "but this is something that we want to purchase in the future, and I have some questions to ask you" was left to swirl silently inside my thinker. 

At that point, both of these booths that we had stopped at were among the very first ones, and I was beginning to think that the entire show was going to be filled with rude and impatient sales people.  Fortunately (and for the most part), that proved to not be the case.


Let's examine both of the above examples, shall we?  You agree?  So do I!  Great minds - you and me.  :)

I'm sure that Tex and I were not the only people strolling around Market Hall last weekend who had not planned on making major purchases while attending the Home and Garden Show.  Many people go to these types of events to gain information and to tuck business cards and brochures away for when they're ready to buy whatever it is that caught their attention at the show. 

A good salesman will know this.  Sometimes the sale doesn't happen immediately.  Getting angry about it, walking away and then complaining to a co-worker within ear shot of potential customers is probably not the best way to make that customer their customer.

Tagging onto that, dismissing such a potential customer when they are in the middle of a sentence and thus shutting out any opportunity for the customer to ask questions about a product that they are genuinely interested in doesn't seem to be such an award-winning idea, neither. 

On the other hand, we had lovely conversations with the gregarious lady at Angie's List (who took a photo of Tex and me while I was wearing her very funky glasses and who also introduced me to Alegria shoes because I fell in love with her "Hippie Chic" Palomas), the friendly man at Cutco, the very entertaining man at VitaMix (who nicely listened to me ask about purchasing a dry container replacement and then cleverly incorporated my question into a public sales pitch), the great guys selling the trampoline, the man who let me ride his demo C.A.T. Scooter (oh man - fun - especially, when standing up!), the man who wittily intrigued us via remote control (as we were walking by) with his roof that resembles (and functions as) flat horizontal blinds, the very informative guys who were showcasing the slide-out cabinets, the nice flooring guy and last but not least, the very busy-yet-cheerful lady at the Sleep Number booth.

The majority of the 2+ hours that we spent at the Home & Garden Show was dispersed among the businesses I've mentioned above.  Yet, out of all that time and all those booths, we spent a whopping $11 (in addition to the admission tickets).  For the ultra curious, the $11 was for the sign-up fee for Angie's List. 

All of the other booths mentioned above?  They didn't make one red cent off of Tex and me this past weekend.  But.  They were so friendly and engaging and they made sure they answered our questions thoroughly and accurately.  That's the type of people that we do business with.  That's the type of people that we'll remember when it comes time to make future purchases.


One more example; simply because I've encountered this scenario more than once and I know of at least one other person, offline, as well.

A few weeks ago, Tex and I went to a birthday party that we had been invited to attend.  The party was held at one of the local steak restaurants.  The salmon listed on the menu intrigued me; and when it came my time to order, I asked the waitress if the salmon was marinated in soy (as many of y'all know, I don't do soy; it's a seizure trigger . . . and for those who yearn to learn, it's also a toxin pretty-much across the board).  When the waitress responded that the salmon was marinated in soy, I simply said, "Oh, never mind; I don't want that," and started to go on and order my "second choice".  Instead of accepting that I would know what I wanted (and did not want) to order, the waitress said, "Oh, but it's only a litte bit.  Trust me, you're going to love the salmon."  Without boring you with more of who said what, I'll tell you that I tried 2 more times to gently let her know that I didn't want the salmon, but she wouldn't listen to me and she kept trying to push the salmon.  Maybe it's her favorite dish at that restaurant.  Maybe her long-lost cousin from her mother's stepbrother's daughter's grandfather's side of the family was the salmon culinarian for that particular eating house.  Who knows?  But man, she was pushing that fish dish!  I finally had to very firmly tell her that I was not going to order the salmon.

I love wait staff and I always try to interact with them and let them know that I'm a friendly sort.  

I'd also like to take this moment, however, to suggest that if someone doesn't want to order a particular dish, then that should be that - without argument or efforts of persuasion; especially if the reason is because of a specific ingredient.  It's a food allergy world we live in today; and some allergies are much more dangerous than others.  One of my family members has a very serious milk allergy and even touching milk products (including) butter can sometimes cause a reaction severe enough to require a trip to the hospital.  Yet, time after time, when she has inquired about whether a particular menu item contained milk (and after telling them she has a milk allergy), the response she often gets is "Well, it's only a little bit."  Well, in her case, "only a little bit" could prove to be quite harmful.

Additionally.  Even if the reson for not ordering something is not allergy-related, it's really none of the server's business to question or to argue the decision.  There ya go.


I don't want to end this post on a negative note . . . and in reality, the intent of this entire post is not meant to be negative, but rather educational.  I haven't done a PEA (Public Education Announcement) in a while; let's consider this particular post to be one of those. 

My first thought, in bringing this blog post back to a positive outlook, was to list all of the above-mentioned friendly businesses' representatives and their contact information.  That may or may not be a good idea seeing as how I haven't asked their permissons to do such.  But!  I don't think there's any harm in at least re-listing the business themselves.  I encourage y'all to patronize these companies . . .

. . . Except, I wouldn't recommend that you play with your Cutco knives while riding on your C.A.T. Scooter; and remember, reserve the jumping for your SpringFree trampoline; not your Sleep Number bed.  There ya go.  :)

- Angie's List ("We're relentless when it comes to providing trusted reviews.")
- Cutco ("The World's Finest Cutlery)
- Equinox Louvered Roof ("Take Control of your Outdoor Living Space")

- Furniture "N" Floors, Inc.
- RBB Scooters (C.A.T. / Compact Adult Tricycles)
- ShelfGenie ("Designed to Transform")
- Sleep Number ("The only bed that knows you.")
- SpringFree Trampoline ("The World's Safest Trampoline")
- VitaMix ("Superior Nutrition in Every Blend")

Thanks for reading; happy shopping!
Y'all be blessed,

Please note that the parenthetical quotes listed next to each business were taken directly from the printed business cards or brochures supplied to us.  There.  I trust that I have sufficiently and legally covered my, uhm, posterior in case anyone disagrees with any of the quoted phrases.