Worry versus Anxiety

I have a best friend who is a worrier. She worries to the point that she loses sleep from worrying. I’ve been thinking about ways I could help her with that, and since she reads my blog, I thought maybe I’d share an exercise here that I use on myself. Because, as I’m fond of saying, “Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” So here is what I do in my head, using a real-life example:

Question: What is the worst thing that could happen if you get the vaccine? Answer: I could die from it.

Question: Is that a realistic worry? Answer: No.

Question: What is the worst thing realistically that could happen if you get the vaccine? Answer: I could have the same thing that happens when I get an intramuscular shot and my arm will not only be sore but be swollen and reddened and hot.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you arm reacts like that? Answer: I will be in moderate pain for up to three days with very limited use of my arm.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you are in that kind of pain for that amount of time? Answer: I will not be able to do anything but lay down and feel sorry for myself.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you lay down and feel sorry for yourself? Answer: I will waste time that I could be using to do other things.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you waste time you could spend doing other things? Answer: Things won’t get done, plus I’ll get behind on my reading goal.

Question: What is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t get things done or fall behind on your reading goal? Answer: To be honest, it will be like those days when my energy level is depleted to the level that I just lay around.

Question: So what is it that are you worried about… again?

See how that works? I’m still anxious about the shot and the effects of it, because I know what that pain is like and would rather not experience it, but in the scheme of things, it’s not really something I need to be worked up about so much than it consumes my thoughts and keeps me from getting rest! And as a result of this exercise, I will be at an appointment in 5 hours’ time for the first shot. Now, I’m much more anxious about the second shot because I’ve heard a myriad of different experiences from people after receiving it, but even if it puts me down for a couple of days, I already know that in the big picture, it’s not something to worry about. I don’t like being down (I had bronchitis about 7 years ago that had me in bed for two weeks) but this isn’t anything that’s going to affect my life long-term. And the pride I will feel having faced the anxiety and fear and having conquered it will bring its own reward.

So, next time you are feeling worried (especially you, bestie!), work it out this way and let go of the worry that something drastic will happen. All of your worry isn’t going to change the fact that what will be, will be!

Around-the-House Hacks – VIII

Kitchen sinks and faucets come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, not all of them accommodate filling a bucket. Here is an easy solution: Buy an inexpensive pool noodle, slide one end up onto your faucet head, let the other end fall into your bucket, and turn on the water! A side benefit is that it will be so much easier to lift the bucket from the floor than it will be to lift the bucket out of the sink to place it on the floor!

Speaking of inexpensive pool noodle uses, if you live in an area where the winter season brings below freezing temperatures, snow and ice, cut a pool noodle into the approximate sized pieces and place a piece over each of your windshield wipers. Not only will you protect your wipers from getting frozen onto your windshield, requiring lots of muscle to scrape and move while the defroster is kicking in, it will keep the ice/snow from freezing onto the thin rubber of the wiper itself.

So, you’ve got left-over pieces of pool noodle after you make your windshield wiper covers? If you’ve got a green thumb and like to do a lot of pot planting, cut the pieces into equal sized rings (1 inch or less) and use them to line the bottom of your pot before adding dirt! This will allow extra water to seep below the surface of the dirt, so it doesn’t get too wet and prevents root rot, and the dirt will soak up the water as it dries.

Have a pair of boots which tend to fall over when you put them away? Slip a piece of pool noodle the height of the boot’s leg inside and they will stand up straight!

Pool noodles make great bumpers for a child’s bed to help keep him/her from rolling off the side of the bed. Just slip one under the fitted sheet on both sides and tautly finish tucking the sheet in. It will create an instant barrier to keep the child from rolling off the edge.

The uses for this inexpensive piece of foam can be endless. From using them for cable management to putting a piece on hangers over which you drape pants/slacks/etc. to avoid a crease to using a piece on top of your mouse pad where your wrist rests when you’re using the mouse, when you’re looking for an inexpensive solution to a problem, you might want to stop and ask yourself, “Hmmm, could a pool noodle be the solution?”

So, use your noodle and use a noodle!!

And here’s a little bonus that has nothing to do with pool noodles:

Who actually likes the task of cleaning the filter of the clothes dryer after each load? (Me, neither!) But… if you have a wood fireplace or enjoy camping with an evening campfire, or even use a charcoal grill, don’t just toss those balls of lint into the trash! Save them in a plastic bag for when you want to start a fire. It turns out that lint is extremely flammable, so spreading some out in the space where you want to start a fire assures that it will start burning with the touch of a flame. It’s easy to store a bag of lint (doesn’t take up much room, either) and will be especially helpful if you’re dealing with damp wood or charcoal!

I am NOT a Hypochondriac!

I am not a hypochondriac. But I think that my doctor thinks I’m a hypochondriac.

When I moved to this area, I needed to find a new general practice for my medical needs. My insurance required approved providers, and I found one very close by. I had spent 5 years previously at a general practice where I actually felt valued and listened to, and had what I considered to be an excellent relationship with my attendant. I went in to my first appointment already a bit cynical about how any other practice could measure up.

My first appointment was with Catherine. She was pleasant and friendly, and I quickly explained that I was looking for a practice where I was listened to and taken seriously. I left that appointment feeling like I’d gotten lucky twice. My second appointment, 3 months later, was with the actual MD of the facility. I was surprised to find that she was a woman close to my age, but she was attentive and handled the appointment as expected. The third appointment had me scheduled with Keith, a PA-C, as was Catherine.

All of my appointments have been, since that time, with Keith. Keith is a nice man (that’s my list of pros). I have multiple issues with Keith, however. First, he has never been less than 25 minutes later than my scheduled appointment time to enter the exam room. At first, I thought perhaps other patients had needed his attention longer than they had been scheduled for and that’s why he was running late. But on one visit, after my allotted 30 minutes were up, however, he rushed me out, even though I told him I had some questions. After a couple of times, I managed to score the very first appointment of the day. I thought this might be the solution. Sadly, he was 30 minutes late to enter the exam room. So this has been an ongoing issue for me, and the staff in the front office all know this is his usual routine, but for some reason it’s okay.

But that’s only part of my struggle. As with most medical offices, patient notes are all on the cloud, and new notes are typed into the laptop at each session. Keith is a 2-fingered typist. If I ask a question while he’s typing, he’s asked me to wait a moment until he finishes entering the data on what we’ve just spoken about. Needless to say, my appointments consist mostly of reviewing blood tests (which I get every three months) and checking to see what medications I need new prescriptions for because I’m out of refills.

And beyond all that, I’m noticing changes in my body, and without a “Growing Old for Dummies” handbook, I don’t know if they are a part of growing old or a sign of something that might be concerning. When I ask, he often ignores my question or brushes it aside. I had a significant depressive episode in January of 2019, which lasted at least 50 days, and I mentioned it at my next appointment. I said that I hadn’t had an episode like that in a long time, and I do take Celexa (a mild-antidepressant) for my Seasonal Affective Disorder depression. He didn’t give me any indication that we should have a conversation about it, so I asked him to at least put it in my patient notes as a reference, should it happen again.

I also suffer from hyperhidrosis on my face and neck. My previous practice sent me to a kidney specialist as excessive sweating is a symptom of kidney issues. My kidneys are fine. This spring/summer has already been difficult in terms of sweating – when I’m sitting in my home in a room with air conditioning and the temperature is 74F, and I suddenly, for no reason and without any movement, break out into a sweat on my face, neck and back, there is something going on. This is something I tell him about at every visit, and he tends to bypass any conversation about it.

I’ve wanted out of the practice for a while now, but I’m not someone who likes to make ripples in the water, so I’ve vented to my bestie about it and suffered. When it came time to get on Medicare, I actually got quite happy because now I could use a change of insurance and accepted providers as an ‘excuse’ for why I’m leaving the practice without feeling guilty. Even if that practice is on the new insurance’s accepted provider plan, it’s an easy way to cut the cord and find someone else.

No, I don’t think I’m a hypochondriac. But, there are all those books out there on “expecting a baby” and “training a toddler” and other parenting types for first time parents. Why isn’t there a book for those of us who are experiencing old age for the first time??? I wish I could know which pains, aches and twinges are to be expected and which are just a normal part of aging!

Celebrating Pride Month

Annually, the month of June signifies Pride Month, a time when people who feel destined to fall in love with others outside of the “standard norm” of male and female can celebrate their right to feel – to be – different.

I’ve never quite understood why there are so many people who think of these “different” people as wrong. Some are quick to spout out a Bible quote or two, but we all should know by now that Bible quotes are, like so many quotes, taken out of context. And while the Bible does, indeed denounce homosexuality, it also says that, while the Bible condemns homosexual acts, it does not encourage prejudice, hate crimes, or any other kind of mistreatment of homosexuals (or any other person, to be specific).—Romans 12:18. 

What I’ve found, over the course of my life, is that people who are quick to spout Bible phrases to support why they are right, they commit other sins written about in the Bible and don’t call attention to what the Bible says about those sins. We are all sinners, imperfect – the act of being a sinner is not singled out depending on which sin we choose to commit. We are given the Ten Commandments, and outside of those, I believe that every other sin has equal value as a sin.

I believe that the heart wants what the heart wants. We don’t judge a man because he happens to prefer overweight women, we don’t judge based on the build that each person prefers in their mate, or the color of their mate’s hair. In an ideal world, each of us wants to be loved for who we are at our core, our center, and it doesn’t matter which gender we prefer that love to come from.

Why is there an idea that homosexuality is all about sex, but heterosexuality is about love?

I’m not writing this well at all. I guess I’m trying to say that I have no issue with what gender, skin color, race, creed, religion, etc. a person chooses to love. In essence, it’s really none of my business! IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! And it’s not anyone else’s business, either! Let people be free to live their own lives and seek their own happiness, and get down off the damned pedestal you’ve put yourself on thinking that you are somehow better and therefore, permitted to pass judgement on others! The refusal to respect others for their different opinions and lifestyles is what is tearing us apart as humanity!

So, please, just go your own way and do your own things, and be respectful enough to let others do the same!

I Took a Chance – and it Worked!

With the relaxation of COVID mandates on the horizon, people were looking forward to gathering with family, friends and other loved ones to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, more so because we’ve been kept apart by the virus for all of the holidays in 2020 (well, we were supposed to be, but you know people ignored that mandate). Mother Nature, however, had other ideas! In my neck of the woods, Saturday’s high was the lowest high (is that an oxymoron of sorts??) recorded in history, and the same was true for Sunday. We were averaging 20 degrees cooler than the average for this time of year, and rain drops played an integral part of the weather as well. The rain did finally clear out by late Monday morning, and we saw peeks of sunshine.

Not knowing what the weather would be like for this particular weekend when I made plans, my beloved brother and I decided it would be a good day on Sunday to visit, since he would have Monday to do all of the domestic things he normally does on a Sunday. The trip to visit each other is a 4-hour round trip time span, which is only 1/2 hour more each way than where I lived before. He was the last to make the drive, so it was my turn, and I had a few homemade goodies in my freezer that needed to find their way to him.

The drive there was incumbered by drizzle for the first half, then some clearing, though whenever a vehicle passed me, the wet spray from its tires made my wipers necessary again. And of course, when I pulled into the parking lot, it started to drizzle again (because that’s the way my luck goes). We had a good hug for the first time since the pandemic began, drizzle and all. I didn’t have a lot to take in, so between us, it was just one trip. And this is a good thing, because he’s got some truly God-awful outside steps (16, I think?) leading up to his place and I have to take them somewhat slowly to make sure I don’t have a fall. Once inside, we put the few things into the freezer and fridge, and then we sat down to chat.

I love my chats with my brother. We start off with a topic and it often wanders into another topic. It’s such a relaxed atmosphere, where we can (and have, on occasion) talk about anything! No filters are needed, no need to measure words, no worry that either of us will be judged by stating our thoughts and opinions.

In addition to the food goodies I brought along, I gave my brother what I chose to call a “late birthday and early Christmas” gift. It was something foreign from any gift I have ever given him, and I hoped it was something he would appreciate.

Brad, whom you’ve read about before here on my blog, is a wonderful blogger who has found his niche in poetry. His poetry covers an eclectic variety of subjects, and at times, I wonder if he’s writing from personal perspective or just what comes into his head in any given moment. He has had a few works published at a site called Spillwords, a literary ezine (you can check it out at http://www.spillwords.com) and they interviewed him for a Q&A to highlight him as their “author of the month” for March. Although Brad is my younger brother and so, technically, I’ve known him for his entire life, I discovered things in that interview that I never really knew about him, especially his fondness for poets like Whitman, Longfellow, Wadsworth, Tennyson and many, many others. Learning that, I had the opportunity to purchase what would be considered a “first edition” (printed in 1893, it was his first printed work although they didn’t have “first editions” back then) of Tennyson’s poems.

I admit, I was a little nervous that, while he appreciates all gifts, this gift would be something that would be near and dear to him. Judging by how many times he touched the book, opened the book, perused pages and talked about the book, I knew he liked it. (Whew!) He also wrote a poem about the value of the book to him and his proud ‘ownership’ of it! (Double Whew!)

After all of that anxiety was passed, we went to the grocery store where I finished stocking up his freezer because I hadn’t brought much stuff with me (I usually can fill up his freezer with homemade goodies!), brought in the perishable things and and put them away, and we went out to my favorite fast food place that I don’t have a chance to get close to unless I’m at his place. The dining room was closed, so we did drive-thru and then came back and snarfed Long John Silver’s fish and chips and hush puppies. This particular LJS shares space with Kentucky Fried Chicken (which I also can’t get anywhere around me), so I got some KFC chicken tenders to take home for later. Of course, I also brought home fish because I couldn’t eat it all.

All too soon, because I know the approximate times when my energy will start to fade as well as when it will be depleted, it was time for me to head back home. Down those same steps is even trickier, but I got to the asphalt safely. Then it was time for another hug – a super-duper going to stay locked in arms for as long as we want – before I got in my car. Driving home was a little more white-knuckled, because 18-wheelers were more active on the road, but no incidents.

I came home, put my leftovers in the fridge, sat down on the recliner and read a little bit to unwind. I pushed myself to stay awake until the local evening news was over (6 – 6:30 PM). The next thing I knew, it was almost 10:30 PM and I needed to use the bathroom. I slept then, on and off, until sometime after 3 AM, which is a lot of time for me to sleep at one time.

Monday, I spent the morning napping (apparently, I wasn’t caught up enough) and then lounged, watching a movie on Amazon Prime and reading. Dinner consisted of a warmed up piece of fish, a single chicken tender, a hushpuppy and, of course, Cowboy baked beans.

I can’t say I did a lot to actively celebrate Memorial Day. I’d gotten all of my patriotic stuff displayed on my porch, and Brad and I did talk about how Memorial Day is different from Armed Services Day is different from Veteran’s Day. I know that many people treat all three holidays the same – by thanking those who have served and those who are serving – and those who did or are deserve our thanks every day of the year, holiday or not. But if you didn’t already know this, Memorial Day is specifically dedicated to those who served who died in the line of their service. Armed Services Day is dedicated to those who are actively serving our country, and Veteran’s Day is for thanking those who have served our country. But like I said, there is no harm taking a moment to thank and appreciate ALL of our soldiers!

So, while it wasn’t the typical Memorial Day weekend, my respects were paid, and I will remain always grateful to the soldiers – and the families they left behind – for the ultimate sacrifice of life.

I hope your holiday (at least here in the US) paid some tribute to all branches of our armed forces

P.S. If you aren’t already following Brad’s blog, shame on you! You can find it here: https://commonsensiblyspeaking.wordpress.com/

The Wonderful World of Words

Although my own blog posts have become fewer and farther between, I have made it a point to keep up with the writings of the other bloggers I’ve chosen to follow based on having read a sample of their writing. Although we all have our each unique style of writing and amazingly wide and diverse myriad of topics we choose to write about, our blogs allow us to share a little bit of ourselves to the outside world, and I’m guessing that, for most of us, there are far more strangers reading what we write than people we know. But, to be honest, strangers isn’t a fair word. When someone invites you into their world, their thoughts, their heart, they are no longer strangers to us. We may not know much about them, have never met them face-to-face (and probably never will), but there is an acceptance that blog posts are genuine and truthful. We get to experience others’ joys and sorrows, others’ trials and triumphs, others’ opinions and why they believe what they do, and in this world of blogging, we accept them with grace even when we disagree or don’t understand.

The age of the bloggers I follow is across the spectrum. The youngest, as far as I know, is 16 (with the maturity of an ‘old soul’) and the oldest is, I believe, a little bit older than I am. Some are amazing storytellers and everything they write is worth reading simply to enjoy the way the story unfolds. Some writers just share little tidbits of their day and some write from the innermost depths of their soul. Some, like me, are all over the place, simply writing whatever is in the forefront of our thoughts as we sit down to the keyboard. Some follow a distinct form of writing, such as poetry. Many have niches that they stick to, and just as many do not. I think that variety is what makes it so enjoyable to read other people’s blogs!

I suspect that, for many of us, we are introduced to other bloggers by having left a comment on a blog post those people often read. Whenever we make a comment on another blog, an email is sent if anyone ‘likes’ the comment, whether it’s the blogger or another guest reader of the blog. When a person likes my comment, the email I get tells me if that person is also a blogger and gives me a sample of his/her posts with links. I always check those out! Reading those samples allows me to make a decision about whether or not I want to read more, and the option to follow that blog if I do, so I get alerts when that person has written a new post.

More and more, I’m finding myself leaving a comment on a blog I’ve enjoyed and/or has shared an insight I’m either quite familiar with or one that makes me furrow my eyebrows and ponder a different or more expansive way of looking at and learning something. I don’t get a lot of comments on mine, and I can count on one hand who the people are who might make a comment after reading it. I admit, sometimes my paranoia takes hold and I wonder why what I’m writing isn’t worthy enough to attract more comments. I often have to remind myself that I’m not blogging to attract or appease others, but to release tads and tidbits of my inner self that I tend to keep buried (for many multiple reasons). If I’m lucky enough to make a reader feel validated or to cause a furrowed eyebrow, that is what matters and what my life purpose is. For as long as I can remember, my chosen life legacy has been to touch other peoples’ lives in a positive way and leave an impact that will be carried forward. And whenever I get to feeling that I’m not getting enough attention for that, I remind myself of my dear friend, Prin, who does so much for so many good causes and probably, more often than not, doesn’t get many, if any, accolades for those things she does. That helps me keep myself in check.

If you are reading this, and want to read more blogs, let me know and I’ll be glad to share the links to the ones I loyally follow. Honestly, if you are reading this, I am humbled and honored that you are taking the time to do so. And I thank you!

This spoke to me…

…so I wanted to share it with you. Reading this, I’m reminded of how difficult it has been to walk away from toxic people in my life, even though they also had some great attributes. The more we let them suck us in, the more they suck out of us! So get rid of the straws (appropriately, of course!)!

COVID Vaccine

No, I am not going to write a post telling you that you should get vaccinated, nor telling you that you should not get vaccinated and spout off my reasons for either side. I do know that there are specific reasons that people choose not to get the vaccine, and that is within their right. The only ones I have difficulty with are those who refuse the vaccine as a way of taunting the government, as if to say, “I’m not going to get the vaccine and you can’t make me, neener, neener, neener.”

I’ve done a good bit of research on the vaccine, and from that, I’ve learned that some people, with certain auto-immune diseases, could do far more bad than good to their bodies with the vaccine. I understand the concern many have about the long-term side effects of the vaccine, since it hasn’t been tested in a way that could make us aware of what, if any, long-term side effects might be.

Recently, I received a printed hand-out titled “How to Legally Decline a Vaccine”. Is it the truth, the whole truth? I don’t know. Obviously the last few years have proven that we are only told what the person(s) want us to hear, and we’re forced to decide to find the information true or false. For my personal perspective, I believe in the adage that, “There are two sides to every story, and somewhere in the middle lies the truth.”

This hand-out sounded ‘scientific’. It suggests that rather than belligerently refusing the vaccine, you can do the following: First, ask the doctor/provider if the vaccine has MRC-5 in it (it’s alleged that they all do, these are the aborted fetal cells and other DNA). If the answer is “yes”, then you have the right to decline. Second, ask if there is a possibility of a “latrogenic reaction” (an adverse reaction caused by multiple compounds or drugs interacting with each other from the vaccine (it’s alleged that they all do). When the answer is “yes”, thank the doctor/provider for their offer of the vaccine and simply walk away. The point of this is that doctors are sworn to the Hippocratic Oath (you’ve heard the words, “First, do no harm), and they must honor it. If the answers to either or both questions are ‘yes’, you can legally decline their services.

Like I said, how much of this is truth, how much of it is written in a way to sway us towards the beliefs even if they are untrue? To me, it’s all very confusing!

Most of us have read a report or listened to the experts about getting both dosages in the correctly scheduled time. Then you can read the report from News-Medical.net online and see their report that, for participants under the age of 65, delaying the second dose can lower the mortality rate from the vaccine up to 20% in certain cases. Again, who do you believe?

And let’s be honest… as states begin to relax restrictions, many saying that fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear a mask after two weeks from finishing their second dose, you know and I know that people are going to go maskless whether they have been vaccinated or not! I saw it happen so many times while masks have been mandated, and the inside places I’ve been in (grocery store, convenience store) have done nothing about it.

I suspect there will be a surge in contracted cases once these restrictions are relaxed. The number may not rise horrifically, but they will rise nonetheless. Sadly, many people who have been vaccinated think they have become superheroes who are 100% immune from the virus.

And then there is me. I’ll be wearing my mask indoors when other people whom I don’t know are present and not socially distanced, and if I’m in a crowd of any type outdoors, I’ll be masked up as well. Strangers may well judge me, because of the mask, choosing to believe that I was one of the “idiots” who didn’t get vaccinated because I’m still wearing a mask. Eh! Let them think what they want, because I worry enough about what people I know think about me to worry about what strangers think about me!!!

All I’m asking is that everyone, vaccinated or not, be careful as the world rushes in its wants to return to “normal”. Make safe choices for yourself and for your loved ones. We’re on our way out of the tunnel of pandemic, but we haven’t come out of that tunnel quite yet.

And that is all I’m going to say about that….

Hacks from my Happy Place – XX

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a ‘happy place’ blog post, but I have found a new recipe that I am in love with! Technically, the recipe is for a ‘”side dish”, but after making a batch the first time, I ate a bowlful as my meal three days in a row! And the only reason I stopped was because I’d promised some to my bestie and her family, and also wanted to share some with my brother.

I guess it’s been close to three weeks since I made the first batch. A second batch is now cooling in the crock pot after being cooked. And this is a recipe that FILLS my crock pot, to the point that I have to move some of it into the center where I know the lid domes higher! I also lift the lid every hour and give it a stir, because the ‘sauce’ thins a little bit in the cooking process and looks like the pot will overflow.

Anyhow, this recipe, to me, is something I could find myself making, eating until it’s gone, and immediately making more. So I wanted to share it!

Cowboy Baked Beans

One pound ground beef. One pound bacon, cooked and crumbled. Two tbsp. bacon drippings. Three (15 oz.) cans kidney beans. Three (15 oz.) cans white beans (your choice). Three (15 oz.) cans pork and beans. Three small onions, diced. One cup light brown sugar. One cup ketchup. One-half cup molasses. Three tbsp. yellow mustard.

Since this is the second time I’ve made this, I’ll give you some extra hints… Your choice of white beans doesn’t matter, as long as you stay consistent in size with your kidney beans (in other words, don’t use the large butter beans). Any kind of molasses will work, but I chose the Black Strap kind to cut the sweetness in it. I always cut my bacon strips into pieces before frying because it takes less time. Do not overcook your bacon (I like mine extra crispy for eating) as it will continue to cook in the crock pot. I use frozen bagged diced onions and ‘eyeball’ what is equivalent to three small. This time, I put the brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, mustard and onions together in a separate bowl and mixed it well. I also filled the crock pot in layers this time, including the meats, beans and sauce.

Open and drain all three cans of kidney beans and white beans. Open and drain two of the three cans of pork and beans, leaving the sauce in one can. Assemble ingredients (use my suggestion and layer). Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Turn off crock pot and let cool.

This is called Cowboy Baked Beans primarily because of the ground beef. Don’t be afraid to try other meats – ground or smoked sausage for example. This is also a great dish to take for a pot luck dinner, because if there are any leftovers, you really won’t mind taking them home!