Monday, March 24, 2014

A New Perspective from a Wastebasket Full of Tissues

Today is SUCH a big day for me. I dreaded the week before Monday, March 24 like no other. My son's birthday is today. I knew it would be fun and happy. I'd feel the glow from my pride of his mere existence, and joy I've felt since the day I realized my husband and I had made brothers. We MADE brothers. Not just siblings, but brothers. Both of us had seen, firsthand, what making sisters can end up like for a couple. There isn't always a close bond. It's not always pretty. We would have been just as just happy with girls, but brothers. How awesome is that?! And it has been amazing. So beautiful to watch them grow up, not just close, but as best friends. Better than we had imagined.

But to get to this happy day I had to personally make it through two others. The day before my son's birthday, which was the 2nd anniversary of my husband's heart attack, and two days before that, which was my unborn child's due date. I have been dreading them.

We were floored when my husband had his heart attack the day before my son's birthday. I looked at the imaginary calendar in my head and would get so furious and heartbroken when we didn't know if he was going to survive the day. I didn't want all my son's birthdays ruined if his daddy died the day before his birthday. It was unreal that it was all happening the day before that special day. It would have been a devastating day for our family any day of the year. But why that day?! When surgery successfully saved his life, I wanted to fast forward to my son's next birthday and see his father there with us celebrating. I just needed that time behind us so that I could see for myself that he was going to live, and that the heart attack was the end of a problem, not the beginning of problems, as his heart surgeon had tried to assure me.

When we found out we were pregnant in July and due two days before my husband's 2nd anniversary of the heart attack, and the same weekend as my son's birthday, I thought it was a sign intended to let me know that my threatened pregnancy would be a success. There's no way around it. I thought it would be okay.

I believe in signs. Or I did up until that point. My faith wavers with every smack in the face. I just float around now taking one day at a time and being grateful for everything that I do have. But this last week, the one I was really dreading, was full of signs.

My husband's health took a drastic turn as my dreaded week approached. He and his doctors and I were focused on keeping him from having another heart attack. Even with his medications, his blood pressure was extremely high. I had really grown complacent, thinking that he would always be okay, though I have kept my habit of checking his breathing any time I wake in the night, and when I wake up in the morning. We had a little scare in the fall, but extensive tests showed that his heart was just fine. With this latest scare, it took six days away from his stressful job to get his blood pressure to level out. A few times,when it fluctuated from high to very low in a short period of time, I was ready to pack him up and take him to the E.R.

Needless to say, though I don't think a baby is ever a bad idea, and would have given anything to give birth to a beautiful newborn last week, I couldn't help imagining as it was happening how awful my last week of pregnancy would have been with my husband's life at risk again, with my poor son's birthday coming up again.

The clincher came when one of our dear tailgate market sellers died suddenly at the end of the week. This precious couple, only in their 60s, I held as my image of the ideal retired couple. They set up beside us all summer to sell their homemade, natural soaps and made each Saturday morning delightful. She told me on the last day that they set up that they would spend the winter in her soap making studio next to the wood stove sipping tea. Perfection. I wanted go grow old with my love, living peaceful days together like the ones they shared.

Missing that baby who barely existed and will never be, will always put a hitch in my step, but on my due date I felt an amazing sense of relief and actual peace for the first time since August. My husband's latest round of tests showed no disaster on the horizon if we can just keep that blood pressure down. He has an amazing new cardiologist at the VA hospital who is looking into every possible reason for his ongoing problems, and has even insisted that he start practicing yoga. I am so excited to have him for my yoga partner and really hope that he can feel the changes in his body and stress level once he begins.

I was heartbroken for my fellow market vendor, who was so suddenly widowed. It was difficult to imagine her without her wonderful husband by her side, because I had never seen them apart. But ultimately I was so thankful that, though her husband had died of a massive heart attack in the same department, at the same hospital, possibly under the hands of the same staff that saved mine a couple of years ago, my sweet husband was still standing next to me at the funeral home when we went to pay our respects the day after "due day".

I realize now that we can't have another baby. We quit trying in December because it was just too heartbreaking to keep on. But knowing that things can so quickly change helps me find peace with that. Birthdays and wonderful, ordinary, every day kind of days with both of my perfect children make it all okay, too.

And as I stood in the viewing room at the funeral home after holding that sweet lady in the hallway who looked so very alone, and saw a tissue box on a side table with a full wastebasket of used tissues below it, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I directed my husband's attention to it and whispered that I wished it were appropriate to take my phone out and snap a photo at a viewing because the scene was one of the most poignant I had ever witnessed. It was an amazing, humbling view of a slice of life, National Geographic style. Love and loss in a little white bucket. I know I've filled a bucket of my own this past year, but found myself being thankful for all of the distractions that made me appreciate my life during the week I was most dreading, rather than leaving room for focusing on what I've been denied.

And now it's lunch time. That means pizza and cake. It's my baby's birthday! The one who no longer looks anything like a baby, but more like the man that he is becoming. Definitely worth celebrating!

Monday, October 28, 2013

My 10 Favorite Natural Remedies

I am not going to go into a long discussion, like a little old lady, on all of the health issues I have experienced over the last year, but I'll say that it has not been fun.  August to August.  Just not fun.  But now I know that the majority of my problems have stemmed from low iron and an immune system that was just not what I was used to having.  The fabulous thing is that I did  not have to be seen for any of my issues, but was able to successfully treat them at home.  I really should have gone to the doctor for some of them, if only to learn that my iron was low to begin with, but will always opt to try a natural ingredient first.  That's just how I am.  Here are my favorite immune boosters, infection fighters, natural antibiotics, and skin health aids.

I am not a nutritionist, a trained homeopathic healer, doctor, nurse, or educated in any way in the medical field, and am in no way giving medical advice with this post, just sharing a few of the things I love because of how well they work for me.  My information on each item is opinion, and has only come to my attention through personal research.

1.  Raw Garlic ~ I slice it and allow it to sit for at least fifteen minutes.  The allicin in the garlic is said to increase after the garlic has been cut, and is reported to have antimicrobial benefits.  I read one person's account that stated that the cut garlic can be as far away as 6 inches and still work to kill the viral or bacterial cause of an infection.  I have successfully used it for an inner ear infection and for colds by holding a cut clove near my nose or ear. This is first on my list for a reason!

2.  Elberberry Juice Concentrate ~  I use this as an immune booster and infection fighter.  I dilute it in water and take it at the first sign of a cold or infection.

3.  Turmeric ~ This amazing spice works internally and on contact for me in fighting infections.

4.  Echinacea/Goldenseal Supplements ~ It is claimed that echinacea is an immune booster and that goldenseal can act as a natural antibiotic.  For someone who has had allergic reactions to antibiotics, this is my first line of defense when I experience a problem that I suspect is bacterial in nature.

5.  Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the "mother" ~ I can't count the number of bottles of Bragg's that my family has gone through in the last year.  Just look it up.  You will be amazed.

6.  Peppermint Essential Oil ~  No more one-sided headaches that take two days to go away.  I used to get them every single day at work when I was a line cook, just from getting overheated. I also get them during the summer when I work outside.  No longer.  I recently started getting migraines again for the first time in over 20 years.  The piercing pain, vision problems, nausea...whole nine yards.  I believe they were due to the hormonal fluctuations I have experienced over the last four months, but they never were able to take hold if I jumped right on them and used my peppermint oil.  I use Aura Cacia, the strongest I have found, by putting a drop across my forehead and temples if I already have a headache coming on, or just hold the open bottle under my nose if I feel one starting. Works every SINGLE time.  Fortunately, I think the migraines are gone for good, now that I'm hormonally rebalanced.  I get itchy welts where I put the oil on my face if I use it repeatedly, so have begun using it with coconut oil.

7.  Coconut Oil ~ Raw, virgin, cold, expeller pressed ~  I have been putting a spoonful in my coffee every day since '06.  Too many benefits to list.  The only thing it doesn't work for, topically, is my rosacea.  My skin just can't handle the oil even though it's so beneficial.  It does work on insect bites and rashes I get from dog or cat hair, or whatever it is outside that bothers me in the garden.  I can't pinpoint what plants are so bothersome to my skin since I believe that many are.  Even green bean leaves flair up my forearms and wrists while I pick beans.  If I don't wash and use coconut oil immediately, the rash will set in and I will be taking Benadryl for a few days.

8.  Silver Hydrasol Nasal Spry ~ 3 times every day keeps my skin trouble away.  Hey!  I made a jingle!

9.  Vitamin C ~  My father the chiropractor taught me this valuable lesson from the time I was old enough to munch an acerola chewable.  So important for blood vessel maintenance, a strong immune system, fighting infections, etc.

10.  Natralia Eczema & Psoriasis Cream ~ Oh, thank goodness for this miracle goop!  Because of it, I can look in the mirror and recognize the face looking back at me and not wonder where I've gone.  It is not specifically labeled for rosacea, but when I was frustrated last winter and looking for another natural product to try, I read the ingredients in Natralia and decided that I had nothing to lose.  Avocado, lavender, aloe, licorice, and lots of other things that are recommended as natural ingredients for treating rosacea, are in this cream.  My face peeled and peeled when I first started using it.  I didn't freak out. I don't know why I didn't, but I kept using it.  My face reddened and my skin dried all the way down to my neck. I did start getting a little nervous when it became so dry that I lost sensation in my skin, but I kept using it.  Once it peeled, and I do NOT mean in a chemical peel kind of Freddy Kreuger freaky way, I mean, in a wintry dry skin that was easily remedied with a little Tate's moisturizer kind of way, I had new skin. New, NEW skin.  My old face back. I still get little patches of redness on occasion, but people don't even know I have rosacea any longer.  I have finally found my cure. I was determined to find a natural remedy to avoid being prescribed a lifetime of topical antibiotics.  I couldn't be happier.  The only problem is that rosacea sufferers are all different. What works for one person may not work for another.  I really hope and wish that this works for everyone.  I plan to keep spreading the word, just in case!

And NO (I know people will wonder) I do NOT spend a fortune on my favorite remedies at the natural food store every week.  And that is because the ones I need last simply forever.

I have purchased 4 tubes of Natralia since February at $13 a tube.  Much cheaper than most discount store skin care products.  And who knows how much I'd be spending on the medicated this and that they'd be selling me at the dermatologist's office?

I use a jar of coconut oil in about 2 weeks.  That does get expensive at around $11 a jar, but the long-term health benefits I will receive from my daily dose will be so very worth it,and, hey...some people spend money on beer and cigarettes every week.  It think my coconut oil is a good buy in comparison.

My nasal spray lasts for months and months.  I have been using the same bottle since August and it is just over the half-way level.  I know for a fact that it saves me at least $100 a pop at the drs. office before buying the first bottle of prescriptions, and started using it on the advice of the owner of one of my local natural stores who suffered from the same recurring problem I had until he started using the spray every day, decades ago.

I buy a $7 bottle of Aura Cacia peppermint in the organic section of my favorite grocery store every couple of months, and that is only because I am stupid and take the stopper out. I always end up spilling half a bottle.  Every bottle comes with a dollar off coupon.  That's $6 every few months. Between sets at the last concert I attended, I was divvying out drops of the stuff to those around me who were complaining of headaches.  I'm such a dork, but headaches were evaporating and people were very quickly becoming sold on the idea.  It really works, and I no longer go anywhere w/o my peppermint oil.

Elderberry juice concentrate is expensive, but one bottle will last us all winter.  I use it by the tablespoonful.

The ACV you can buy by the gallon or make yourself.

All my favorites are worth the money I spend and make me a healthier me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lavender Pink Himalayan Bath Salts

Lavender is one of my favorite aromas.  It can help to calm me through the most difficult situation.  I've also become a fan of Himalayan salt and its beneficial properties.  It is said to contain all the minerals that the human body requires.  I don't know if this is true, but it's all I cook with any longer.  It also makes a noticeable difference in my skin when I bathe with it or use Himalayan salt soaps.

I only use Aura Cacia brand lavender oil.  It and this brand's peppermint oil knocks my socks right off.  They seem, to me, to be more concentrated and potent than the expensive, pyramid scheme brand of oil I've tried, but have a natural herbal undertone to their scents without the imitation smell of the expensive brands.  From what I've learned, the higher priced companies may heat their oils after distilling to bring out the aroma, which could be why some peppermint oils have that inorganic Christmas tree candy cane scent.  Aura Cacia's is even mintier than the direct selling companies' oil, but still smells as if it comes from a plant.  I love it.  The aroma of their lavender oil washes over me and instantly brings calm.  It also lasts and lasts!  That saves me lots of money because I don't need to reapply it to my hands or surfaces as often as the less potent oils.

I get approximately 18 packages from one batch of my bath salts.  That's 18 baths!  Here is my simple little recipe:

Lavender Pink Himalayan Bath Salts
10 oz. pink Himalayan salt crystals
20 drops lavender essential oil
2 T dried lavender flowers

I use 1T per bath, and fill my little gift bags for the market with the same amount.

Can you say tension tamer?  Even mixing it is relaxing, like running your fingers through sea shelly beach sand.  But then the lavender aroma comes up into your face and...ahhhhhh....

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Feel So Good I think I Need To Get My Blood Checked

When I learned that I was pregnant a couple of months ago, I also found out that I was anemic.  It's not a good thing when the person running your blood to check your hemoglobin levels says, "OH!", when the number comes up.  I knew nothing about anemia except that it was bad.  I thought that maybe I should cook more of my food in a cast iron skillet to add iron to my diet.  What I didn't realize when she made her exclamation was that I had been anemic for a very long time, most likely years, other recently discovered health issues indicate, and that it was so low that it would be six to eight weeks of taking iron supplements and adding high iron foods to every meal before I would feel a change. 

The miscarriage only made things worse.  I miscarried for twelve days beyond the point when I had assumed that I had miscarried and told my family and friends that I had.  Almost two weeks beyond the follow up appointment with my doctor to discuss it.  It was an emotional and physical roller coaster, to say the least, waiting to see if I was still pregnant.  Blood tests continued to show high hCG levels and low iron, but ultrasound showed that a miscarriage was most likely imminent.

Needless to say, after all that, I wasn't feeling any better.  I guessed that I hadn't been able to improve my iron levels one bit.  The symptoms of anemia?  Fatigue, irritability, mood swings, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, restless leg syndrome, headaches, and the list goes on.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  Yes.  Yes. Me.  Most of them.  For years.  I truly thought I was just getting old.

I would fall asleep if I was riding in a vehicle anywhere near 3 in the afternoon, and avoided driving at that time of day.  I don't take naps at home, but my husband always teased me when he would see my head lolling around next to him as I rode in the passenger seat.  "Yup!  It's 3:00.  Ingrid's sleepy time."  I felt so old.  I could drive all night to get us to Florida if I started out from home, but I would never be able to drive for long periods of time in the middle of the day.  Add to this afternoon fatigue, nightly insomnia.  I was just miserable.  So unproductive, even thought I still kept trying to bulldoze through life.

My symptoms caused a lot of guilt.  I just wanted to be better, so a lot of times I overdid it.  I'd stay up all night to get a project done, rather than letting it go or pacing myself.  That, of course, only compounded my symptoms.  It never occurred to me that I was deficient in anything. I'm serious with my herb and mineral supplements.  Green tea.  Coconut oil.  Spirulina.  ACV.  All the things that were supposed to give me energy, keep my immune system running at top speed, and keep cancers and heart disease away.  I hadn't had my blood checked for over a decade.  Such a simple fix. 

Doing the GAPS diet and avoiding grains earlier this year didn't help, I'm sure.  Now I enjoy all the grains, and just avoid white sugar and flour.  I'm not very good at staying away from them completely, but I'm doing pretty good.  I eat like I'm still pregnant and keep taking my prenatal vitamins along with my iron, as directed.  I plan to be pregnant again as soon as my body will allow it, so these things are so necessary.  I don't avoid any one food, and after years of omitting this or that it's wonderful.  I've even started having that one cup of caffeinated coffee every day that nutritionists say is allowed, even though I quit caffeine years ago. That really helps take the edge off the sleepiness so I can get up very early and still be able to crash around ten at night.

But I really started feeling better last week.  I sleep like a baby every single night, now, and straight through. I don't know what iron pills have to do with a sound sleep, but I'm getting it and it's fabulous.  I finally have the energy that I've been craving and hardly anything can shake my good moods.  I still get a little sad and angry about not being pregnant, but only for moments.  The general good feeling is really nice and it's new and I'm only looking forward to feeling better.  "I want to yell it from the rooftop..."  I feel so good that I keep wondering if I should make an appointment to see if my iron levels are better. I'm really curious to know.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

All Mixed Up

Some of the things on my To Do List for order:

~Make Butter
~Kettle Bell
~Make Double Chocolate Biscotti
~Swiss Ball
~Make Pie Crust Dough

I love the contradictions that are my life.  They make me giggle.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Some People Just Need To Go To Goodwill.

I was sitting and reading a book with my first cup of coffee, morning chores done, sun shifting across the yard to shine on my breakfast room table, exactly where I like it, when a thought came to me.  The male character in the scene I was reading, who can only think scientifically because he has Asperger's, was wondering in his very technical manner how he could express himself to the girl he has come to understand that he loves, in spite of his emotional limitations.  He has had experiences with lots of girls, so doesn't need to worry about the mechanics of a physical relationship, but this one he wants to keep.

My thought?  Yeah.  I'm like William.  I try on people like clothes, and when they don't fit I toss them away.  

That's really sick.  Really just kind of mean and cruel, and I surprised myself with the realization.  But then I understood that I don't fit them, either.  I am not one for keeping clutter around, and pick and choose people in my life the same way I decide which garments stay in my closet and which ones need to go.  The ones that fit will always fit, no matter how I change, the same as some of my favorite dresses and blouses.  Fortunately, I haven't expanded and contracted so much over the years that they've been permanently pushed from my life.  If they don't fit the way I like at a certain point, and they are the kind that give and stretch a little and don't mind waiting for me to try them on again when I'm at a different place, I may look in the back of my closet and find that they are the most beautiful things I've ever seen.  I may wonder why I didn't just change a little to fit them rather than thinking that they no longer fit me.

Some I've torn into rags because I thought there was no hope for them, only to regret it the next minute.  Others get hastily shoved to the side as soon as I try them on.  Then there are those that just sit there, never being worn, until I wonder why I ever brought them home in the first place.  I have some that were given to me and I just keep them because, though I've never worn them, I've grown to love them and just like having them around.  They aren't clutter.  They've earned a special place.

Every once in a while I come across a piece of clothing that is so beautiful and genuinely good, maybe even made from organic, natural fiber, that I have to have it.  But it ends up being so uncomfortable to wear that it chafes.  People I find in this category I can't bring myself to part with.  Though they irritate me to no end, I just smile politely at them every chance I get and hope they never, ever suspect how badly they rub me the wrong way, and cross my fingers that others don't feel the same about me.

I rarely make frivolous clothes purchases, but try my best to care for what I have so that I can keep things I love around for as long as possible. There are always those one-time only garments, however.  Bridesmaid gowns, cocktail dresses, costume pieces, things that never get worn again. You only needed them for that one event and they were fabulous fun while you had them.  I love it when these "one-time-use people" come into my life.

I attend as many concerts as I can.  It's my thing.  It's not my husband's, so I usually go alone.  But always, as I stand in long lines to enter a venue, or at the foot of a stage waiting for the opening act to emerge, someone around me will introduce themselves and we hang out together enjoying the show for the remainder of the evening.  We usually exchange emails or I'll say yes, I have a Facebook when they ask, which I know they'll never find because I keep it private.  It was fun while it lasted, but it's so nice to know I never have to see them again.  I've tried them on. They fit only for that one occasion.   

Others I've tried on a couple of times, just to see if I'm looking at them from the wrong angle, only to decide that they've got to go.  My favorites you will see me wearing in countless photographs, the ones I love having around to wear every day, or just can't ever seem to part with. 

I don't think I'm being cold hearted, though that was my first thought when I realized that I "try people on", it's all about self-preservation.  I've had some spontaneously combust while I was wearing them!  You only let that happen once.  And sometimes I can feel the heat as soon as I get near a person and know they're going right to Goodwill.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


  This boy's voice!  Okay, he's not a boy, but when you're as old as I am, anyone whose age is within a decade of your own son's is a boy.  Okay, he's out of that range, which makes it acceptable that someone my age might get tingly all over when he sings.  My point is that Matt Walst has a voice that can melt your heart or stir your blood.

It was a few years ago that I first heard this "boy's" voice.  His band, My Darkest Days, and two other bands were opening that very long, loud, fabulous night for Hinder, the headlining band.  I was intrigued, entertained, excited when MDD started playing, but when they did a cover of Duran Duran's Come Undone, I just about came unhinged.  I've been hooked on Matt's voice ever since, and fortunate to live in an area of the country where hearing him perform live has been easy.  Last year it was when MDD opened in Atlanta for Nickelback with Seether and Bush, and then again last night when he performed as front man for 
Three Days Grace.
Such a badass!
The post-apocalyptic Vegas themed set and body make up was awesome.  Lighting was amazing! 

 Matt had his stage persona down pat, absolutely pumping up the crowd every time he moved or opened his mouth. 

 He wasn't unprofessional, by any means, the first time I saw him perform, but last night he just seemed to have reached a whole new level.  And he appeared to love every minute of it.  
I think Adam Gontier's retirement was the best thing that could have happened for Matt, the band, and definitely for someone who is thanking her lucky stars to have one of her favorite voices paired with such impactful lyrics and powerful music.