Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bah Humbug?

It would be nice to be the type of person who gets excited about the holidays. I know retail has crushed all hope for me in that aspect. Christmas isn't about me or how I feel, so I trudge on through, wishing the weeks away until it's all over and the tree comes down. The past few years we waited til a few weeks before Christmas to even put the darn thing up. Well, it's about that time again and I find myself excited to be done with it and back to my normal routine. I still have shopping to do, how pathetic is that? There are exactly 4 days until the magical time where my daughter wakes us up way too early to rush through opening her presents and hopefully be grateful for everything she received and she better be after the stress I had to go through to get her the one thing she truly wanted.

Perhaps it's the fact that I hate spending money, but the glitz and glamour of Christmas just doesn't do it for me. I'm not about getting gifts, although I do love to give them. The music plays itself out by the time Thanksgiving rolls around and this year, one of our dogs destroyed the sparkly, red bulbs I put on the tree and had to rearrange at least 3 times before deciding to take them off entirely, do to her love of all things ball shaped. None of the presents I did buy are wrapped yet, although I did manage to find some cute wrapping paper again from the neighborhood Walgreens. And don't even get me started on work, especially this year.

The one thing I do love about this most wonderful time of the year is giving to the less fortunate or doing small acts of kindness. I try to do these things all year round, but I see a lot of places collecting for the Salvation Army or Toys for Tots and it puts a genuine smile on my face when I know that what I'm giving is helping someone who truly needs it. I think that's what Christmas should be about. I mean, we're all out there spending money on stuff people don't need, we might as well just hand it over to someone who'll actually put it to good use.

I don't mean to sound so bah humbug about the holidays or like I'm complaining for the sake of complaining. I'm sure it's just something that comes with age. Time literally flies by the older you get and it's easier to remember the year before because it felt like only yesterday we were sitting around the tree exchanging gifts to one another. I will say that I am grateful for my family and grateful that everyone is healthy and can spend Christmas together. I do love watching Jaida open her gifts, even if I've barely taken a sip of coffee to wake myself from my slumber. Oh, and one more thing I'm super grateful for, the neighborhood I live in for having good taste in choosing their outdoor festive decor. No longer do I boil over with rage at seeing those horrid, randomly blinking lights. I mean, blinking in an orderly fashion, yes. Random sections blinking on and off at any given time, not so much. But that's a whole other blog right there.

My final thoughts are that even though I'm not entirely crazy about every facet of this holiday season, I can at least appreciate the little things and be happy with all that I've been given. Jaida's only 10, so technically I can live through her excitement for at least another 8 years. That's the good thing about kids. You smile just to see them smile and I suppose that right there is the real reason for the season. As cheesy as that may sound.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On Death and Dying

I lost my dad at the age of 8. I remember loving him, when he was around, but other than that I couldn't tell you specifics of our relationship. My parents divorced when I was 2 or 3, I don't recall which, and my mom remarried shortly after to a man who forced us to call him dad. This, of course confused the crap out of me, to the point where I asked my dad what I was supposed to call him if dad was already taken. I can only imagine how that made him feel. I was a curious kid and wanted an honest answer. They were both dad to me after that day. I also remember barely seeing my own dad. It came down to holidays or birthdays after awhile. Then, one day, my mom sat us down on her bed and explained to us that he had a brain tumor. I laughed because I had no clue what that even meant. She told us it was serious and may have even said he would die. Again, I don't recall actual events. When you're a kid things like that hold no bearing over you, especially since this man is hardly a fragment in your life. What significance does this have to a 6 or 7 year old? He lost his hair during treatment and I think around that time, when we did see him, our grandma and grandpa did most of the things he couldn't do with us. I don't remember how weak or out of it he may have been, all I know is that he looked different to me. The memory most imprinted in my mind was the day we visited him in the hospital. It wasn't a very long visit and at the time I didn't know that this would most likely be our last encounter as father and daughter. When we left his room and walked down the narrow hallway there was a lot of crying. Not coming from me or my sister, but our other family members. Was that the last time I saw him before he died? I honestly couldn't tell you. I was so young. It meant almost nothing to me. The funeral came. My first funeral. I cried. My sister cried. Genuinely. We had just lost our father, of course we were sad. That's when I knew I'd never see him again. That was my first taste of death and as life goes, there is always an end and this experience wouldn't be my last.

Growing up, my mom babysat a lot of kids. There was a boy my age by the name of Jayme and his sister, DeLaney who was a year or 2 younger than my sister. I remember going swimming at their house, once, and seeing this button shaped bump under Delaney's skin, on her chest. I don't know if I asked her what it was, but later I found out it was a port-a-cath for chemo therapy. She was about 3 years old when they discovered the Leukemia. At the time, she seemed like a normal, little girl who loved to play games with other normal kids. She seemed perfectly healthy to me, but what did I know? I don't even remember how long my mom babysat her and her brother. It seemed she fought cancer for a very long time before she lost her battle at what I think was the age of 7 or 8. I'm pretty certain that I was about 10 when we attended her funeral. She looked nothing like the little girl I remembered playing with every day. There are bits and pieces that come to mind about that day, but the one thing that sticks out the most, aside from the way she appeared in that casket, was what she wrote about me and my sister that was pinned up on one of the bulletin boards as we were leaving. She called us her best friends and that touched me so much that she forever will be one of my best friends growing up. A friend that I lost too soon in life.

My 3rd encounter with death was my great grandma, or better known as maw-maw. She was such a huge part of all of our lives when we were young. My sister and I and our cousins often stayed the night with her, playing games like "who can crawl to the laundry room first without her noticing us" after we were supposed to be in bed. She would tickle our backs while we watched tv. Then she'd tuck us in nice and tight and retire to her chair in the living room to read the newspaper. We would wait the appropriate amount of time before we giggled our way through the living room and kitchen to get past her to the laundry room, at which point we had no clue what we were to do once we got there. She was totally pretending not to notice us, on our little journey, which made the game even more fun. Then there was the feather duster witch that we were all afraid of that hung on her kitchen wall. We always had fun telling stories about that. In the morning she'd make us hot cocoa and toast and after lunch we'd get pudding on a cloud. We'd go outside and play in her shed or walk out back down by the river. Our maw-maw was the best. She was exactly what a grandma should be to her grandchildren. I was in high-school when she finally passed away. She had Alzheimer's and didn't remember any of us except for one of my cousins and my grandma. We were all so sad to have lost such a great person in our lives. That was the first time I really knew what death meant and the first time I let myself grieve and cry over her absence. I suppose her death meant the most to me because I had more time to spend with her while she was alive.

I guess, to me, death is a scary part of life. You put all of this effort into loving and caring for people and eventually they're not there anymore. My maw-maw wasn't the last to leave my life. I've lost grandparents, friends, an aunt, some pets, an unborn child and I have to be honest, it's hard as hell to lose anyone. We're supposed to live in the moment and enjoy each breath we take with every day we are allowed to be here. We live on with the memories of those who have passed and try to make memories of our own for the people who may lose us one day. It's sad and depressing, but it doesn't have to continue to be so. I learned to put on my cop face during hard times and to brush my feelings under a rug as not to upset those around me. I was tough and hid behind anger rather than letting my emotions be known and then moving on, but all of that has changed and that's why I chose to write about a topic that's hard to talk about in daily conversation. Death is all around us, from the tv we watch to the news we read about in the paper. It's inevitable. One day, I too will be a story for my daughter to share and until that day, after I live my full 100 years of life, I choose to be a good person, a loving wife, a nurturing mother, a helpful daughter, a supportive sister, a kick ass aunt, and an understanding friend. My life will be lived fully and completely because death has the ability to teach us how to live. Yes, even scary ol' death has it's own silver lining.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Pumpkin Season!

I LOVE Fall and I especially LOVE using pumpkin whenever I can. I keep about 4 cans handy at all times. I even feed it to my dogs every day for breakfast. Not only is it a great ingredient but it's also good for you because it's loaded with vitamins A and C, beta carotene, potassium, zinc and fiber. Below I have included a few recipes using pure pumpkin. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes (makes 6-8)

1 1/2 cups of Mrs. Butterworth's buttermilk complete pancake mix
1/2 cup pure pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk (or any kind of milk you prefer) may have to add a little more depending on how thick you like your pancakes 
1 tbls organic vanilla yogurt 

Mix together and cook as directed. 

Pumpkin Butter

1/4 cup pure pumpkin
1 tbls butter or margarine
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
1 tbls honey
sprinkle of sugar 

Microwave for about 30 seconds, stir and enjoy. Refrigerate and use within a week or 2. 

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

2 scoops Edy's double vanilla ice cream
2 tbls cup pure pumpkin (add more or less to taste)
tsp pumpkin pie spice
add whatever kind of milk you prefer depending on thickness and blend together
top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

1/2 cup cold milk
1 pkg (6 servings) Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 1/2 cup Cool Whip
1 ready pie crust

Beat milk, pudding and spice with wire whisk for about 1 minute until thickened
Whisk in pumpkin
Stir in Cool Whip with rubber spatula 
Spread in crust and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving

Apple butter Pumpkin Pie

1 cup apple butter
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
9 inch unbaked pie shell
1 egg white, beaten
whipped cream for topping

Preheat oven for 425 degrees and place oven rack on lowest position.

Combine apple butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices in bowl
Stir in eggs
Gradually add milk and mix well with electric mixer
Brush pie shell with egg white, coating lightly
Pierce holes in bottom of crust
Pour above mix in bottom of shell and bake for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes or until center is slightly puffed and jiggles slightly when pan is tapped
Cool til slightly warm and serve with whipped cream and cinnamon

Easy Pumpkin Dip

1 cup pure pumpkin
1 cup whipped cream
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix together and dip graham crackers in as an easy snack! You could also add cream cheese and more pumpkin to thicken it up. 

Pumpkin Corn Muffins

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
add about 2 tbls of pure pumpkin to the other ingredients and make as directed on box

Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 box vanilla cake mix
add about 1/2 cup pure pumpkin, tsp cinnamon, tsp pumpkin pie spice and make as directed on box

Dog's Breakfast

1 tbls pure pumpkin
1tbls canned Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul Adult formula

Put in microwave for 15 seconds and then add less than the regular serving of Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul Adult dog food

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inner Calm

I'm positive I've found my inner calm. Life is happening all around me and I've managed to go through the steps of being present in the moments and also knowing how to calm myself if I feel it slipping out of my reach. Here is a list of things that help keep me at peace:

1. Deep breathing. I've tried a few different ways to breathe but the one that helps me the most is breathing inward for a count of 4 and out for 6 and repeating at least 3 times.

2. Along with the breathing sometimes I will repeat anything that I am wanting to achieve in my waking life. Lately it's been the phrase, "I want inner calm."

3. My favorite mantra is saying and repeating, "I am healthy, I am  happy, and I feel amazing," and smiling whilst doing so.

4. Look in the mirror and smile or make a funny face.

5. Listing everything I love during an overwhelming situation always calms me down.

6. Exercise, duh. Some of you probably roll your eyes at that one, but if you've never tried it or felt the amazing high you get after, then you have no idea how much this could be helping you in so many different areas of your life.

7. Hugging my husband, which I don't do enough of. He's a way better hugger than I am.

8. Doing anything with Jaida and getting the sense that she's happy to be spending time with me.

9. When everyone is home and we have just eaten dinner and sit down together to relax in front of the tv, I look around and realize that these are the moments that matter and this is why I wake up every day. I know tv is unhealthy and we could be doing other things, which we do, but to me, everything feels like it's in it's proper place when we are all together and calm like this.

10. My nightly dose of Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea with a teaspoon of sugar.

11. Making music mixes to enjoy on my way to work or sharing with friends.

12. Baking, which I haven't been doing lately, except for the gajillion cookies we ordered from fundraisers, this year.

13. Texting certain friends. I'm not big on phone conversations and often feel uncomfortable trying to find things to talk about. Again, unhealthy, but for me it's easier.

14. Laughing. Wednesday nights are my favorite because we have family tv night where we watch some pretty hilarious shows together. No matter how I'm feeling that first laugh eases any stress away instantly.

15. Reading a good book.

16. Writing in my journal and lately blogging has been a great outlet for me.

17. Donating to the needy. There is nothing quite like the feeling of giving.

18. Playing and cuddling with my dogs and cat.

19. Painting or crafting, both of which I have been lacking.

20. Cleaning. I think that runs in the family. :)

21. Being grateful for everything in my life and knowing that I am lucky to be able to experience so much.

As you can see there are a lot of things that have helped in all facets of my life to bring me peace. There isn't any reason why I should be feeling any other way when I have so much to be thankful for in this world.  Perhaps this list will come to be helpful to many of you. May you find your inner calm as I have found mine.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things Are Looking Up

Since my last post I've made a few major steps toward living past my everyday thinking habits. Towards the end of our vacation I ventured out to the pet store with my family, so Jaida could replace one of her beloved hermit crabs. I allowed myself to be there fully instead of rushing her in what to pick out and we even let her choose a few more items for their habitat. Then, Dan and I stopped by Walmart to drop off and decide on a new Red Box movie. I figured while we were there we might as well purchase some things we needed. Again, there was no rushing or feeling that I needed to hurry and get out of there. It genuinely felt good. No, the trip wasn't a long one and we were home within the hour, but to me, it felt like an accomplishment. I was happy to agree to go without any stipulations and it turned out to be a great experience.

Next up came talking myself into having to go back to work. I felt a little anxious the night before, but eventually it died down and I was able to relax. The work week flew by, as it often does. I made a few trips to the grocery store with no inner problems to talk down and yesterday I told myself I would live the day to it's fullest and I truly feel that I did just that. We visited with my mom, whose birthday is coming up and then we played four rounds of basketball down at the park. Sure, it seems small to most of you, but to me, it's a big deal and to me, it was a wonderful feeling being able to do little things like that with my family and feel good being in those moments.

Today, I am enjoying my quiet morning while Jaida is off at school and Dan is working. At 1pm I have an eye doctor appointment, which I'm sure you've already guessed has put ideas in my mind about the trip. I know it won't last all day and I know what to expect so I should be fine. That's how a normal person would think. No, actually, a normal person wouldn't even think about it, they would go, no questions asked. Me, I have to envision driving there, getting out of my car, waiting to be called back, and then the whole ordeal of the doctor checking my eyes. That's how my brain works. I wanted it to be different today. I wanted to wake up and go about my morning, get everything I wanted to get done at home, get ready and just go. Instead I'm blogging about a stupid optical exam. Seriously? These are the steps I have to take on a daily basis. I have to focus on small things to keep my mind in control and stop it from wandering into dark territory. The reality? I go to my appointment, my eyes are fine, I order my contacts and I'm on my way back home in a matter of a half hour, being able to relax for the rest of my day off. Nothing lasts forever. This trip won't last forever and neither will this over thinking/over analyzing situation. I have to take it one day at a time, living in the moment and focusing on the good. If I dissected my life right now, with these baby steps I've been taking, I'd say things are looking up. Life is good and every day I am grateful for everything I have and I will be fine.

Update: I wanted to let you all know that I went to my exam, sweaty palms and all, and everything turned out great! Then, instead of high tailing it home I decided since I was out I might as well make the most of it, so I deposited a few checks at the bank, stopped at Walmart to get a few things, and then went to Culligan to fill up one of our 5 gallon jugs. Never once did I rush and aside from being nervous at my appointment everything else happened with ease. It's the little things like this that add up. Now I will enjoy the rest of my day off and relax. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Afraid of Everything

I try to trace back to where it began, why I allowed fear to grasp a hold of me. A fear so suffocating that I was afraid to leave my own home. This thing inside of me blindly guiding me through life, making me miss the little details that add up to the big picture. I stopped wanting to go out to eat with my family, something we often enjoyed doing together. I hate grocery shopping and would make quick stops before or after work to avoid having to do a large trip for everything we needed for the week. I made lists in the hopes that my husband would offer to go for me and unburden me with the feeling that I wouldn't be able to walk all the way through the store without panicking and needing to escape. Even now I have to talk myself into doing things I can easily get out of for fear of the unknown. It's sad, I know. But I can't tell you how or why this was ever a crutch in my existence.

Back in August I had a terrible bout of anxiety and stress due to a few uncontrollable events that literally wore my entire body out. It lasted a few days and finally I decided that this couldn't be my life anymore. I couldn't sit by and literally watch everything fade into the past. I needed to get a hold on what was making me feel this way so I decided that whatever was lying within me was a result of what I was bringing to me with my thoughts and actions. I practiced deep breathing, started a gratitude journal, confided in my husband and friends, used exercise as an outlet, read The Power by Rhonda Byrne, and began my journey to worry free days ahead. Admittedly, this helped out a ton. I had to learn to live in the present and be more patient and list the things I loved rather than what was getting me down. Complaining wasn't even in my vocabulary and I tried my hardest to not let others complain around me. Needless to say I have had some great past few months because of these changes. Not once did I fall victim to my old habits or let outside influences make me feel bad. Then came our much needed vacation...

Out of the past 6 days I have left my home a total of 3 times. Once, to my mom's across the street to get my niece, down to the park to play basketball with Dan and Jaida, and last night's yearly trick or treating event in our neighborhood. This may sound completely idiotic but most of that was due to the food recalls I wrote about earlier in the week. It crippled me with fear that I would fall ill and my entire vacation would be ruined. All week my husband made trips to the grocery store per lists I left on the counter. I was even going to go myself, before Jaida got home from school and instead talked myself out of it, again. Yesterday, I did everything on my mental list leading up to trick or treat with our daughter. I started feeling a little less than perfect. Nauseous and nervous to be exact. This started right after my shower. I chalked it up to my contacts, which I haven't worn all week. I took them out, made dinner, painted Jaida's face and we left to collect candy from the neighborhood houses. It was cold, but I felt fine. Jaida met up with her friend and relieved us to our nice, warm home. I didn't think about the way I was feeling. Instead I got ready and just went. I still felt a little off when we got home but I settled and eventually felt fine the rest of the night until it finally came down to sleeping...

This morning I awoke still tired from not getting a decent night's sleep. I was groggy and instantly irritated that it would effect my entire day. I made my coffee, which wasn't that good, took the dogs out, fed them, and sat down to start my day. As I drank my last drop I pulled out my journal and decided instead to be grateful for this life I am allowed to live. I have an amazing family who is perfectly healthy. We have a nice home in a great neighborhood. We have pets to bring joy and love to us all. Our jobs bring in more than enough money to be able to afford good food and all of life's necessities. We have everything we need and very little stress to worry about. There is absolutely no real reason why I should be feeling any other way than happy to be able to live this wonderful life every day with these amazing people surrounding me. So why would I just sit back while it all passes me by? Who in their right mind would allow something that once felt so real and so scary to envelope their entire being? No one. Except for me, apparently. Aside from trying to focus on the positive I couldn't quite shake this overwhelmingly sad feeling I was having. I broke down a few times this morning just asking myself why. I wanted to hug my husband, cry and tell him exactly how I was feeling, because I haven't been totally open with him about it since our last talk about my obsession with food. Boy, do I have problems or what? I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his body and just allowed the tears to flow. He turned around and asked what was wrong and I cried even more and finally the words started to come out in jagged spurts of questions and rants about myself. There really was no conclusion other than the fact that by letting myself open up to him about what was going on helped to ease my discomfort. My chest eased up and my stomach calmed down. Something about confiding in him in this way unlike how I normally am made part of the problem cease to exist. He doesn't have all the answers but I trust him and know that anything he says is going to be in the best intention for all of us involved, which is far better than seeking out a stranger who charges by the hour, in my personal opinion.

Perhaps you think I'm crazy and maybe I am or is it possible that these so called problems stem from something deeper and are resurfacing as whatever you want to call this thing? All I know is that it's bullshit. Pardon my french. I have always been a strong woman with opinions about everything and willing to try new things in order to not be so bored with life. Where did that go? Is there still a fearless girl living inside this shell I call myself? I suppose I won't know unless I try. What is it they say about facing your fears? Yeah, well I'm about to get to the bottom of it and in the meantime at least I know I'm not battling this thing alone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Money Saving Tips

I do these Daily Challenges by and today's challenge was to share a money saving tip with someone. I figured since I'm good at being frugal I could share the tips I use regularly and hopefully help some of you save a dime or two.

1. This one will probably get a tsk out of a few of you, but we are avid paper towel users. If you have kids or pets, it's kind of a necessity. We buy the bulk packages of 6 or 8 rolls that have different tear off sizes, usually Brawny or an off brand, whichever is cheaper. When we're eating we will take one of the half sizes and tear it 3 ways so we all have something to wipe our faces with, which is more than enough unless you're a messy eater like my daughter. This saves big time.

2. Don't buy shaving cream to shave your legs, pits, or in most men's cases, faces. We use leftover hair conditioner and it works better and is far less expensive.

3. Here's another tsk inducing money saver. We are Culligan water drinkers so we get 3 of the 5 gallon jugs filled up about once a week or so. We also have to buy bottled water to take to work with us so we will often refill our bottles using the Culligan water. Yes, we recycle but by refilling it cuts down on the cases of water we have to buy weekly, which really helps out. A 5 gallon jug refill is only $1.25 at the Culligan stations. Our city water isn't good enough to drink so we have to go this route. No judging please. :)

4. When I do laundry, which I sort of enjoy doing, I always wash a full load in cold water and I only use half of the suggested amount of laundry detergent per load. I do the same with fabric softener and  for the fabric softener sheets tear them in half. The cold water saves on energy and yes, it cleans just as well as warm or hot water and doesn't tear up your clothes quite as quickly.

5. Most of the cleaning I do I use white vinegar mixed with warm water. This cleans, deodorizes and disinfects any hard surface area. I use it to clean out the coffee pot, I sometimes substitute white vinegar for fabric softener, it makes a great fruit and veggie cleaner, and if one of us is sick I will soak our toothbrushes in equal parts vinegar and water to kill the germs. You can clean your windows, floors, counters, toilet, get the idea. Baking soda added makes a heavy duty cleaner for dirty showers or kitchen sinks.

6. I am not a coupon clipper but I find that if I make a list of everything we need and stick to the list we end up saving money by not adding nonsense to the shopping carts. We also buy a lot of fruits and veggies and less processed foods, which keep you full longer and saves on doctor's bills in the long run.

7. This is a HUGE money saver and I even find myself doing it at other people's houses. Turn off the light as soon as you leave a room. I don't care if you're returning within a minute, every second counts. Also, unplug anything you don't use regularly. The only things we keep plugged in are the refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer and alarm clocks. Everything else gets unplugged immediately or is connected to a power saver strip that is turned off nightly. You'd be amazed at the savings on your electric bill. Oh and those swirly light bulbs last longer and save energy better than the regular bulbs.

8. We eat out maybe once a week. Every other meal is either eaten at home or we pack our lunches to take to work and school. Jaida hasn't eaten at the school since she was in first grade. Not only does it save money but it's also healthier to not have the option to eat fast food on your break and school food...don't even get me started on that.

9. During summer when the temperatures start to rise we use a fan to help suck the central air from the back of the house and into our living room area where it tends to get warmer. I like to keep the thermostat no lower than 75 when we're gone or in bed and 72 when we're home. In the winter we keep it roughly about 66-68 degrees depending on if we're home and we do have to seal up our front windows which helps out a lot.

10. Last but not least, and I'm sure there is a ton of stuff I'm missing, but 10 seems like a nice well rounded number to end on, we stay fairly healthy all year round because of how we eat and exercise and stay hydrated so we don't visit the doctor for anything unnecessary like a cold or the flu or what have you. I get seasonal allergies and we all fall ill every now and then but when we do I make sure we take proper care of ourselves so we heal a lot faster without the need for antibiotics or prescription medicines. It's mostly common sense stuff like drinking enough water, resting, eating the right kinds of foods, washing your hands, ect.

I hope you enjoyed my money saver tips. If you'd like to add anything feel free to do so in the comment section. I'm always open for new suggestions in saving my pennies.

Past Poems


Swimming in a sea of holes
Breathless answers waiting for
Devine admired creatures still
Reaching through another chance
To float upon an empty view
Listless... Pointless... Askew

Back to Nicholas

When I woke today
I knew this wasn't me
Stranded in the shelter of someone else
I took it as a sign
This icicle princess
Only wears her pointy shoes
Who knew
She wants it to stick
When she kicks you on your way down
She spins around laughing
"You were always so weak."
I said,"So tell me where I am."
"Honey, you've always known that."
She's my captain
The leader of this crew
She says I need to grow up
Somehow I know she's right
Always caring for someone else
When I was all that mattered
Then my dream was shattered
Into a million crystal pieces
I must leave this
Leave it all behind me
I can't seem to find me
Drifting through this mess
So she took my hand
And said follow me
"Follow me back to Nicholas."
The porch looks the same
Cold and lonely leather chair
Inside a mammoth screams
Spilling over with hate
But it was too late
I've already forgotton
How it used to be
This wasn't me...
And I grew from those cracks
The cracks in the wall
When we were so small
But that's how it was supposed to be
Yes, this is me
And she agreed.

The difference

Unexplainable painful minds
unaware of life as ruler
of all existance maturing
into mysterious creatures
with feelings masked by anger
Pangs of prideful injustice
Simpleminded doings
Race being an issue
has no environmental cure
Their confusions lack knowledge
Colorful eyes of curiosity
soak ignorance like sponges
Will we see the difference?

Too fast

Pushing it's way to the finish line
Life exceeds many goals
Moving too fast, busying itself
With lists of nonsense
Never does it stop to make you aware of
Exactly what's been absent
"Gotta keep moving. No time to talk."
Skimming through the minds of Americans
Too caught up in tasks
That still occur after we're gone
Until it's too late to hold on
I have no innocence in this
But I won't do it anymore
Life can't push me around
Work is work, Love is love
And love will be there
To carry me close
And comfort my soul

Sleeping with Spiderman

Wait. Stop. Listen...
Just this once
Who do you think you are
Walking away like that
As if I never mattered
You were only in it for yourself
You never gave a damn
Only when you wanted a piece
A piece of myself
So you could play dress up
Pretend you were happy
With a smile painted on your face
Sleeping with Spiderman
Did he ever find out
That all you were was someone else
Almost never yourself
Demanding something different
Something free
But you weren't like me
Competing endlessly
For a chance to belong
To some fantasyland
One not of your own
Now who's alone?

The Hallway

This House of Leaves
With it's dark, long passages
That breathe, expand and form
Change perceptions of the lives inside

Followed voices underground
Flare to life imagined sounds
Echoing into entropy
Further down the spiraled path

Degeneration of oneself
Curiously binding needs
Predicting full velocity
Towards creation of energy


Only a picture now
A memory of her
Lightly tucked inside a corner
Behind the blue glass of yesterday
Instantly I smile
And remember a time
When it was better
Stitched back together
On hope as fine as silk
Upon a tiny cobweb
Of a delusional dream
Does it seem to be
Insvisible to reality?

3 Parts of Her

Didn't think it was time
Til you turned and waved goodbye
How could I have been so blind?
Why did it come to this?

One day we're laughing
Having the time of our lives
Sipping on iced cold lemonade
Til your renegade stole it away

Those hidden agendas tucked inside
A secret lie of childish rhymes
Suicide girl, depression stings
Stings enough to make you sing

Make me sing of sweet sangrias
Of time spent without you
Instant happiness comes to mind
Pills you took to hide that pride

My siren screams furiously
A hand written letter, how lovely
Lost your courage, lost your style
Found it in my pocket, after a while

I don't want this, here you go
Take it from me, before I blow
They say you're green, Is it true?
Was it just envy taking over you?

2 little fishies swim in circles
Chasing what they truly are
Fantasy island, a hidden life
Strange little girl running far
Can't grasp your own reality
Nothing concealed under these stars
Rummage through old photographs
Did he find them? Were you charged?
Searching for something, anything
Fears and lies of other scars.

Cardinal Call

I was awakened by a cardinal call
The variable songs of courtship duets
As I lay and pondered their beautiful rhymes
I dreamt of spring, of sun sublime
The squall shattered petals and carried through rain
Drops of it splattered on the side of my windowpane
Grieving quietly to soften the ground
The gust it blew those little birds around
Twisting and spinning, flapping those wings
The storm it lifted and those creatures were singing
Then this hand reached down from above
And grabbed the birds and crushed their souls
The one cardinal screamed,"What's happening here?"
While the other said calmly,"Don't worry, my dear."
This hand, it took them, far from the clouds
Where they were released to fly and continue their song
Melodies, mixed harmonies sift through my ears
I awake once more, with a new sense of relief
This time I stand and put my feet to the ground
I step to the window and sure enough, there they are
Those two, little, love birds lay still with no sound.

New skin.

Beautifully accepting
Intangible movements through
Abstract thoughts appearing
Incredibly vague, seek
Important resolutions, behind
Pragmatic theory which kills
Gratuitous emotion while
Unconsciously awaiting arrival of
New skin.

Your Catalyst

poor fragility needs stability
hearts on sleeves of growing hunger
imagine musings shattered wonder
slip passed fingertips
gently reaching outward for
humble beginnings
trapped behind closed doors
whisper still those lullabyes
painting grins upon your face
looking up to open skies
hoping for the chance at freedom
bored to death with optimism
chances taken from afar
reckless hearts, left a scar
turn a cheek when love walks in
this is now your catalyst.

Words Can Mean Anything.


Left Untouched

you've been warned
yet you dare not leave
these secret messages
whispered softly on my tongue
why won't you run?
save yourself from me
i'll only cut you down
burning bridges that once held us
safe and warm inside, blinded
by anything unreal, unnoticed
did it slip your mind?
this thing i once was
willing to hold onto every last breath
every laugh... your spark
left untouched.


Old man
so quiet... still
his coffee hits his lips
staring out the window
at buzzards eating carcasses of roadkill
...eyes shift
notices me noticing him
and i look away...
too sad to smile at such a hopeless being
(people are just people so they say)
wondering if I give off
similiar vibes
of lonliness
as I stare out the window
at empty carcasses...
til the coffee burns my lips

Just Be 

You drown in yesterday
with no air to breathe
I live for today
floating by on every minute
Your lion fighting my bearer of all things
seems I'm stronger
when it comes to times like these
I may be tired
probably losing ground
but that doesn't mean anything
Try not to wallow
for I do not wallow
and personally
it gets you nowhere...
Quit swimming
Just be.


Your chameleon-like tendencies wrap you in blankets of someone else
waiting for the world to notice your name
in this game you play to show how cool you are today
leaving us to despise the flakiness facade
when all you want is to be needed and all you need is to be wanted
by someone who'll change you for a month, maybe two
til they figure it all out
after peeling back those layers of anything but you...
Later, you may realize that even you don't know who you are or how it got to this point.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scared to Eat.

Am I the only one obsessing over the recent food recalls? Okay, I'll admit I do have the reminders set to email me as soon as something is deemed unsafe, but it's only natural to want to know what I'm putting into my body. Right? First it was the ground turkey tainted with salmonella back in August, then the listeria laden cantaloupe, and now my beloved spinach is under attack once again, except this time it's not e. coli. Yes, the ground turkey scare is over, I think, but that doesn't mean I'm rushing into the stores to feed my family with the stuff. We haven't eaten it in months due to this ordeal and I'm pretty sure I had friends recently sickened by Jennie O's brand. But now spinach, mostly on the west coast, is being recalled and I am certain it will somehow make it's way to Ohio and the surrounding states.
Dan recently bought a bag of spinach, from the same brand that was recalled out in California a few days ago and I go and make a hearty sandwich with the stuff. Of course I thoroughly washed it, something I almost never do, took 2 bites before realizing it was that brand. I threw the whole sandwich out and took every precaution I could as to hopefully not fall ill with a possibly bad batch of spinach. That was a couple of days ago and so far I feel perfectly healthy, but I'll be honest in saying I've worried about it the entire time. No, that bag was not recalled and I'm sure I wasted a fine bunch of spinach by throwing it away but my motto with food has always been "When in doubt, throw it out" and so I did.
What will it take for our government to make sure our food is safe before it hits the shelves? Is it wrong of me to think maybe it's another way to control population by letting these things harm and possibly kill us? I don't want to have to worry about making my family ill because the higher ups can't do their jobs. I can't be worrying about what I eat. When I told my husband about the spinach he said there's no point in worrying about what you eat because there's always a possibility you could get sick from it, but then how many times have I actually been stricken with a case of salmonella? Oh yeah, never. Is it all mere fear that the government is instilling in us and creating a bunch of unnecessary anxiety? Also, you see this happening in a lot of healthy foods of late. Are they pushing us to change our habits into being unhealthy? Maybe I'm just addicted to conspiracy theories. Who knows. What I am certain of is that this epidemic will not make me suffer. It will not bring me down or hinder the way I live my life. Everyone gets sick eventually and I guess the only precaution I can count on is making sure I take care of myself and my family so that these things don't effect us as harshly as they would others. Worrying does nothing but create negative emotions so I'm going to push them out, stop the reminders from the food recalls, and get back to being fearless.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Animal lover.

I used to be a cat person. Not that I hate them now, but I once found comfort in the quiet solitude that is of the feline variety. Independent, answers to no one, comes only when they feel like it and never when you want them to, allowing to be touched at their convenience... I guess I can't say this is true for every cat, because we've  had some pretty annoying females who were instantly in our faces with a quick look their way. I've had many cats in my lifetime, only really making one a friend. His name was Seger and he was around before I was even conceived. Best cat ever, hands down and I can honestly say I have never been quite as close to another since his passing my senior year of high school. I was sad, depressed, and cried for 2 weeks straight. I didn't think I'd ever find another animal companion as wonderful as him.

Sure, we had our fair share of pets during and after Seger's exit. We had dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, more cats. I even had a legless lizard once. Floyd didn't last too long, poor guy. But I knew I'd never share anything as profound as the friendship I had with my long lost cat. I didn't really like dogs. They were smelly and always seemed to be up in my business no matter what I was trying to do. We had fairly large dogs in a not so big house, so I'm sure that was part of my dismay, although I never shared that closeness or obligation to any of them.

After Dan and I were married we adopted our first cat together. You know, practice for when we were going to consider having kids. Then we bought a ferret and around that time someone found a wild hare so we kept that for a short while until we realized it needed to be set free.  A year or so later the child came, so we had her to take care of and less time to spend with our new pets. We got rid of the ferret eventually but I do believe we acquired 2 or so more cats and some dwarf hamsters shortly after. We moved yet again and took in another cat named Jedi and one after that who we called Lulu. Our first cat, Venus, died and some time after, we were given Ferric, yes another darn cat, from my friend who couldn't keep him any longer. There were some others in there that didn't stay with us long so I figured they weren't worth mentioning. None of them died, we just gave them away to family and friends. Let me be clear, we never had more than 3 felines at a time, so it wasn't like we had a problem with animal hoarding or anything.

A few years ago, in the spur of the moment, we decided, and by we I mean I, to buy a puppy for Jaida for Christmas. My cousin posted some pictures on Facebook of a male shih-tzu who needed a home and instantly I just knew he was ours. Of course the rest is history because you all are fully aware of Dexter and the complete love and happiness he has brought into our home. This is our first family dog and I was both nervous and excited for the changes that were about to happen to all of us. Puppies are hard work, especially smaller breeds because they have to relieve themselves every half hour. It was like having a baby all over again. We had to potty train him, feed him, teach him what was acceptable inside and outside the house, take him to the vet for his shots and what not, bathe him, clean up his poop...what did we get ourselves into? There were times I wasn't sure we would do everything right. He was left inside his crate for long hours while we were working and I often had to drive across town just to feed him and take him outside. All of this for one, tiny dog.

It was exhausting at times, but what caught me off guard was the unconditional love and happiness he radiated off of him and onto each one of us. He didn't care that he had to stay home all day waiting for us to get home. He was instantly happy as soon as we opened that door. I couldn't wait to get home from work so I could see him dance around in his excitement for me simply from being there. I frickin' love this dog like he's my own kid. I worry when he's sick, I make sure he eats all of his food and gets some kind of exercise every day, and shoot, he even sleeps in our bed at night. Needless to say he's pretty spoiled for an animal.

We still have Ferric and Jedi, both of which are part time indoor cats. Dexter loves playing with them, or rather biting their ears and holding them down so they can't come into the house or go outside. We did, however take in another dog, a toy poodle named Lucy, and Dexter loves her. Now when we are working they have each other to play with and keep company. I don't feel as bad about leaving them home alone. And Lucy is such a sweetheart. Everyone who comes into contact with her instantly falls in love. She is a great dog and very smart too. I had to make it clear that I equally loved both dogs so they wouldn't get jealous, but Lucy still wants all of the attention to herself. It took me a while to really warm up to her and even though Dexter will probably always play favorite, she's a wonderful dog to have and I cuddle her just as much as I do him.

I guess the moral of the story is, never say never? I never, in a million years, thought I'd be a dog person, but I am now and I'm ok with that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Each morning I awake to my 10 year old daughter getting ready for school and then slamming the door on her way out to the bus. She's very self-sufficient and I'm extremely thankful for that. Some mornings I barely get a kiss goodbye. After she leaves, Dexter and Lucy jump up on the bed to make sure I'm awake to feed them. I get up, take them out and start my morning coffee ritual. I love to sleep, but I think I love that cup of java even more. Something about the aroma and full bodied taste at 7:45am, in complete silence, makes every day smoother and gives me time to be grateful before I succumb to the monotony of adulthood.

On certain mornings I have to instantly get ready for work after I finish my coffee, but on other days I get to talk myself into working out so I can maintain a healthy lifestyle. I eat breakfast, pack my lunch, maybe do some laundry, and then I figure out which exercise routine I'd like to accomplish for that day. I've been doing Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30, which is basically The Shred on steroids. There are 4 very intense levels and lately I've been going back and forth between levels 2 and 3. Tuesday, I bit the bullet and tried out level 4. Whoa. My body is a machine and I was very proud of myself for accomplishing that feat, but let's be honest, there was a small amount of whining during certain moves. If you're familiar, you can relate. 

Ok, ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. What makes me wanna do this 4 times a week? My motivation mostly comes from within. I know that if I work out I will feel amazing all day and it will carry on throughout the week. I also have a buddy system with a few of my friends. When we work out we tell each other and that keeps me going. Exercise, for me, is like a happy pill. I feel calm and relaxed and overall my attitude is more positive than if I hadn't been working out. The sensation right after I finish my routine is all I need to keep me motivated. Of course, a healthy diet helps too. You can't eat crap and then exercise and expect to feel good. It doesn't work that way, sorry. The right foods give you the right amount of energy for a good work out. And don't forget hydration. Hydration is key.

After a good workout, aside from the stretching, I like to do a little journaling about what I'm grateful for that day and how I envision what my day will turn out to be. This is always a great time for me do some reflecting. I often praise myself for accomplishing my exercise routine and during this time I tell my buddies that I completed my workout. This is their motivation and it works like a charm. As a matter of fact I just finished level 3 with no modifications. Thank you very much. 

Now that I have you motivated enough to engage yourself in some physical activity, make a mental note of how your body and mind is enveloped with this new found feeling. Take it in and recall exactly what it did for your being. There's no way you can be regretful about something so amazing. YOU have the power. Even if you don't want to lose any weight, simply do it for your mental health. I assure that you will be proud of yourself for successfully taking that extra step in a better direction. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Turning bad to better.

Everyone goes through something awful in their lifetime. Some deal with more than others, but essentially there isn't one person out there who hasn't had something bad happen to them. I, too, am one of these people. I used to take the bad and make it worse by hiding behind anger and cynicism. Often taking it out on others. It's always much easier to just throw your troubles at someone else and blame them for your situations, right? Well, that's the person I used to be and as I'm not exactly proud of that fact, I at least can admit that I was, at one time, not such a great person. I've lived, dealt with more, and decided to change. Change. What a hard thing to do, especially if you're so used to a certain way of handling things. Well, it was a slow change, but a change nonetheless.

I believe it was a book, yes another book to show me the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, that opened my eyes to what I was doing to myself all of these years. Some of you may be familiar with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I picked this book up and it smacked me in the face with such force that I couldn't believe what it was telling me. You mean I can just turn my thoughts around, think positively and attract more positive to my life? Like magic?! I was skeptical, but I started applying the law of attraction to my day to day happenings. I don't know if it started to turn things around for me right away but I know my attitude about everyday occurrences started to change. I felt happier and more at ease and a weight that I was carrying for so long seemed to lift from my being. I found myself treating others better, had more patience, and overall life was easier than it was before. I now understood that if my thoughts became negative or I was complaining that more of what I didn't want would come back to me. What a strange and wonderful new concept.

We struggled with money for awhile. Living paycheck to paycheck is never any fun. When you worry about money, you are not happy. I know people say money doesn't buy happiness and I agree to an extent, but now that I've come out of that hole of never having it to always having more than enough, worrying about whether you can pay your bills is a huge downer. I took the advice of the book and instead of dreading paying rent, the car payment, utilities...I would feel thankful that I had enough funds to pay them. Money became a thing of the past. I don't worry about it anymore. I am grateful for our jobs and the endless supply that comes every week and we are always willing to give whenever there is a chance to help someone else. Giving is huge. Whenever you give you receive. It's so simple. There is always someone out there who needs it more than you do. Never forget that.

This whole concept can be used for anything. I recently have been using it for my health or to help others with whatever they may be struggling with in life. I had a strange bout of anxiety that I pretty much talked myself out of. It seems hokey, I'm sure, but it really works. I just got to a point where enough was enough and I couldn't allow myself to feel that way any longer. It's a lot like that pre-game talk the coach gives out to pump up the players before a big game. You have to tell yourself what will happen, how you're going to feel and then sit back and watch it unfold before your very eyes. If you worry your way through situations it will only make it worse. I know, I've been there. It's a day to day struggle sometimes making sure everything is going according to plan, but once you're on that frequency of attracting positivity into everyday life you get to think less and enjoy more of your days.

Sure, life can be hard and we all deal with things differently, but it can lighten a load a lot faster by just being positive. Let go of the past, live in the present, breathe, meditate, pray, whatever makes you get to that point of being ok with being alive. Have patience with others, especially if you know they're struggling with something. Give where ever there is a possibility to give. Love with a full heart, even the things you never thought you could love. You may be laughing but you won't know unless you try. The hippy inside of me believes that if we all figure out that we can shape our own lives with our own thoughts that we could all make this world a much better place to live. It's not so far fetched. Right? So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The long and winding road to becoming healthy.

I am a mother and as all mothers know, carrying that baby weight and then trying to get rid of said baby weight, is a very hard thing to do, especially if you gained a ton of that weight during pregnancy. My child is now 10 and I'm finally comfortable with my body. Yes, it took me about 6 or 7 years to lose the extra pounds, but I did it and I want to share my journey with anyone who  has struggled to get to that happy place. It's hard. Believe me, I know. I loved my sweets, I smoked occasionally, and I was a sucker for diet soda. We also ate out a lot as a family and late night eating was a regular habit of mine. Unhealthy indeed.

So, you ask me, what changed my mind into becoming more healthy? To be honest, I don't know if there was one significant source that got me motivated except for the fact that I simply wasn't comfortable in my own skin. I hated the way I looked in clothes and pictures do not lie, my friends. I was a chubster and I had to do something about it, clearly. I am not one to take the fast approach to weight loss, although I did want to see results as soon as possible, but pills are not my thing. Never have been. Well, I shouldn't say never. There was a time my husband and I tried an off brand of some diet drug that just made us incredibly moody and tired. Those were not fun times. Then, we tried the Atkins diet. What a joke. Same effect as the pills. It was the worst! We realized that diet and exercise were the only way to go and that's exactly how it started.

I hate to sweat. Always have always will, so I took up pilates. Denise Austin Pilates to be exact. It was nice to get moving and there was very little sweating going on so I thought I found what my body needed. I anticipated a long and lean body, just like the video stated on the back. As we all know, you can't get lean without some cardio. Ugh, dreaded sweaty movements that were beyond keeping me motivated. We bought a treadmill. I thought,"Yay, I can watch tv and walk to my heart's content." It was a start. I'd walk on certain days and then do pilates on other days. I was measuring my body and I did begin to notice inches being lost. I was a lazy exerciser. I wanted the easiest possible solution to moving my body and walking and pilates were just that. I did graduate to a few other dvds that consisted of dancing or strength training but I became bored and started doing my own workouts I'd put together from what I had already learned. Hey, it was something, right? I will say that during this time I don't believe my eating ever got any healthier. We were still eating out a lot and I was still drinking soda and eating sweets. If I had known then what I know now, my journey wouldn't have taken so long to get where I needed to be.

I work in a bookstore and I just so happened to stumble upon a book called 'You're Not Sick You're Thirsty' by F. Batmanghelidj. Basically it states how most of our ailments are a direct result of being dehydrated and by drinking enough water you could cure most of what is making us ill. I told my husband about it and we decided to invest in a Culligan water dispenser so we could get our recommended daily water intake. That was probably the best move we could've made to jump start our healthy lifestyles. I noticed so many things that I was dealing with cleared up and never came back. We got sick less often and when we were sick it didn't last as long as it did beforehand. Now our bodies tell us when we need water instead of just waiting until we're thirsty to wet our whistles. We started with drinking half our body weight in ounces of water daily and now I'm drinking at least my entire body weight in ounces every day. I don't get tired during the day and I just feel good from morning to night.

I think also around that time I did finally give up drinking soda. I do love my coffee and I was drinking maybe 2 cups a day plus whatever tea I'd consume. I still had a lot of caffeine going on in my body. Once the water intake got my body used to what it should have daily, that's when I realized I didn't need the extra drinks during the day. Now I drink 1 cup of coffee in the morning, mostly because I love the taste and it's my morning ritual to drink a cup before getting ready for the day, but I also switched to decaf tea and have a green tea every night a few hours before bed. I'll drink more once the weather is colder or if I'm starting to feel a cold coming on. Other than that I have 4 oz of oj every other day and everything else I consume is pure water.

Ok, got off track a little there. Water is important. We now know this to be true. I also gave up red meat and most pork, but we were still pretty much eating the same of everything else. Fast forward a bit because, let's be honest, I was making baby steps and really getting nowhere. Facebook came into my life shortly after I got my first blackberry. Oh technology how I love you. I reconnected with a lot of my old friends. One being a very close friend from middle school who was also on the path to becoming healthy and losing weight. She introduced me to Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and we started food logging publicly on Facebook so we could hold each other accountable for our motivation or lack there of. This is what really got me going. I started losing weight and noticing the things I had to change with my diet just by logging what I was consuming every day. The buddy system worked and I still use it to this day. I don't know how long it took for me to lose the weight I wanted to lose, but it seemed much faster than before. I was being motivated by the fact that someone else was exercising and I felt like I had to keep up. Plain and simple. I exercised about 4 or 5 days a week and started eating better. I cut out all white breads and pasta, no red meat or pork, I was down to my 1 cup of coffee and no more caffeine for the day, I was counting calories and I finally kicked that nasty smoking habit. I ate more fruits and veggies and started making healthier choices when we did eat out of the home. Then I learned about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, again from Facebook and I cut that out of my diet completely. We started eating out only 1 day a week and it was to places I knew I could choose better foods for myself. I was healthier, happier, and I looked amazing in clothes again. I owe all of that to my dear friend for kicking me in the butt to get up and do something.

Today, I am still eating well, if not better than I was before. I am food logging with a friend who needs to stay motivated and exercise logging with another on Facebook. Right now I am pretty much off of sugar, or at least sweets. I watched a documentary that brainwashed me a little and messed up my eating habits and during that time I just stopped eating sugar and it's stuck with me. I've lost a few more pounds and I feel fantastic. I'm still working out at least 4 times a week, drinking my water, and eating better. Basically, diet and exercise is the only ticket to true weight loss success. Hopefully I've inspired some of you and if not, at least you know I'm human and I too have struggled down this long and winding road to becoming healthy.