Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quick Thoughts - Life Lessons

1)  If I eat enough cookie dough while I'm making cookies, I don't need to eat any actually-baked ones. (Go ahead and give me the 'raw egg' spiel. I just can't help myself...) Also, oven temperatures are never right.

2)  The cold weather makes my neck hurt. Why is that? (If you're from Cleveland, Buffalo, Erie, Minneapolis, or Canada, feel free to jump in on this.) And, I've recently discovered that, when wearing a hoodie, putting the hood up against the cold just makes the cold wind tunnel into the hoodie. (Cinching it tight may not happen - it's not a 'good look') Speaking of good looks - how does one keep their nose warm and not look ridiculous?

3)  Vinegar is the best laundry softener (and, no, your clothes will not smell like salad). It works, and the price is right.

4)  Dogs know things - they really do. Ask any owner. I wish I could hear what they're thinking (but then, again, maybe not).

5)  I love politics. It's politicians that I find difficult to like. Still, I'm happy to talk it out and not get offended by another's opinions. After all, anger is a wasted emotion. It also throws off your adrenals (see? you've learned something new!)

6)  Free stuff takes a little effort to obtain, but it's worth it. (Okay - not exactly its 'worth') It's FREE, right?

7)  Canadians think US citizens are haughty. US people think Canadians are boring. (I'm betting the people who make those statements haven't spent much time getting to know their neighbors... Either that, or we take others' opinions too seriously.)

8)  Facebook is not worth the time we spend on it. (Ummm... the stock market agrees.) Real relationship happens face-to-face or heart-to-heart.

9) Contentment comes with age. Education may be wasted on the young, but the benefits of aging are innumerable. (If you're under 30, you'll have to come back to this one in a few decades.)

10)  I am blessed far beyond what I deserve or could have imagined. Thank you, my friends, for adding to my life. Good or bad (but mostly good), you have enriched me. I pray I've returned the favor.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Falling, falling...

Yes, it's fall - or autumn - and, no, it's not freezing in Canada (yet). I know y'all enjoy giving me a difficult time about living in the "frozen north", but I'd like to point out that it's been warmer here than in Virginia for 27 of the last 30+ days. No one ever taunted me about being cold in Virginia...

To that end, I'll also say:

1) We live south of the United States. (think that one over)
2) We drive north to cross the US/Canadian border.
3) We live south of 15 states in the U.S.
4) We live in the "southernmost part of Canada".
5) We live south of where we used to live in Oregon, and, yes, they make wine here.

Are you surprised? Read on for a few fun facts...

A) The border between Canada and the US is the longest unprotected border in the world (5,525 miles!).
B) Superman and basketball originated in Canada. Add to that fish sticks, instant mashed potatoes, and the zipper as well as the television, walkie-talkies, and the telephone (yep - the Bell family lived in Canada when they tested that 1st call). Oh - and the cardiac pacemaker!
C) Canada is the world's 2nd largest country (behind Russia).
D) Hockey is beloved, but lacrosse is the country's official sport.

I know... I love trivia, but all this makes me think about how much we "assume" we know. 

And y'all need to quit saying, "It's almost like it's another country".  It IS a foreign country! 

Truthfully, it's a great option for our "international" assignment.

P.S. - I have not tried poutine and have no intention of doing so ;-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

50 million Americans, and I, have an Auto-immune Disease

That surprised me - 50 million Americans! Granted, we can have different auto-immune diseases, but I've learned that once you have one, you're susceptible to others. Great.... The good news is that most of them are quite manageable, even if their onsets are not.

I have Hashimoto's disease - My friends and/or family members have Graves, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue (CFIDS), Vitiligo, Celiac, Crohn's, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Sarcoidosis, or Multiple Sclerosis.  Those are just the ones I know of, and I have a feeling many of you know someone with one of these afflictions as well. And, yet, we're basically healthy people.

Thyroid disease is prevalent in 20 million of us - with 13 million of those undiagnosed. Does that surprise you? Perhaps there really is a reason you/we don't feel well all the time... My friend, Terri, was at the doctor's office, when he dared to say to her, "You look a little down, a little depressed". She looked straight him, and said, "Well, yeah. That's because I'm sick and at the doctor's". Can we collectively add a "DUH"? My point is that if you don't feel well, don't let anyone tell you "You're fine" or that they can't find anything wrong. Dig deep, my friends.

Doctors have, as I've said before, an almost impossible job - dare I say they live their lives in a guessing game? It would be fun except for the fact that people's quality of life is at stake. Physicians carry a burden I cannot imagine, and I don't envy them. I do, however, love the ones who want to keep learning and who want their patients to have "optimal" health.

On a side note, I'm trying to gain weight back (go ahead, comment below. I can take it and still love y'all). Try explaining weight gain goals at the gym and have trainers and staff just look at you blankly.

The older I get, the more I realize that most people want to be sensitive and helpful. Join me in being one of those kinds of people to those around us. Someone needs a smile, a phone call, or an email. Encourage one another.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Canadian things that still challenge me:

Milk in  bag - I can't pour it. I've tried; believe me, but that little plastic bag bends at its own will and pours amounts it predetermines. What is the purpose of this? It can't be environmentally better, as some suggest, because we're throwing millions of plastic bags into the landfill. Plastic jugs are turned into nice park benches that make me smile and help me rest.
The Metric System - (I admit this isn't Canada's fault. Blame my public school education.) The kilometers per hour I can convert for driving, but temperature is a whole different thing. Here's a sampling of what I should be doing in my head: 
   1 F = -17.2222 C (ummm - nope)
   C = (F-32) x 5/9 ...or... C = (F-32)/1.8  (what?! This is Michael's favorite.)
   F = (C x 9/5) + 32 ...or... F = (C x 1.8) + 32 ( mind just went blank)
I've memorized that 28 Celsius equals 82 Fahrenheit. After that, I just guess. If it's hot, it's hot; if it's cold, I'm leaving. (hahaha - just kidding)

The War of 1812 - I may have to break out the history books. This weekend, in our town of Amherstburg, there is a 3-day festival to commemorate how they battled back the U.S. I can't help but think a) it was the British, b) we were fighting battles on other fronts, and c) we are scrappy fighters who achieved our independence from Britain early on. Okay - our little secret... I won't speak of it again. Unless one more person asks...
And a few extras:
   Washroom (not bathroom)
   bachelor (it's an apartment)
   Hydro (electricity)
   Expiry (that date on your credit card)
   Concession Roads
   Loony (a one-dollar coin)
   Toonie (you can guess, right?)
   Rockets (Smarties) and Smarties (M&Ms)
And lastly - poutine.
I am thankful that I live in a (foreign) country that speaks English and tolerates that I know nothing about hockey...
PS - the Canadian side of Niagara Falls beats the U.S. side, hands down.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Feeling Stronger Every Day

Two months, to the day, after I became ill, I had my last test/procedure. Done and done. We now have lots of information, lots of what we know it wasn't, and the same treatment plan. I suppose ruling things out is not a bad idea, but it is time-consuming and costly. I'm thanking God for Dr. Woliner, in Boca Raton, for having the brains, the desire, and the inclination, to figure me out and give me a plan for regaining my health.

Without boring the daylights out of you all, I'll just say that I have, and have had, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. In some cases, that can turn into Thyrotoxicosis, and that's what happened to me in May and June. My thyroid flipped from being under active to overactive but with both sets of symptoms. That little, walnut-sized thyroid gland controls temperature, heart rate, how the body uses energy and makes proteins, and how sensitive the body is to other hormones. So, knock that out of whack, exhaust your adrenals, forget to eat well, and jump right in. Of course, the lack of energy might keep you from jumping at all...

Nausea is such a vague symptom but was my most dominant. Doctors are "practicing" medicine, and every patient walking through their doors is different. I don't envy them. Dr. Woliner took the time to test beyond what all the doctors did, and he found things beyond my thyroid that need to be addressed.
I'm happy to say that I'm not sick all the time anymore. It'll take awhile to balance everything, but I have every faith we'll get there.

Don't take "I don't know" for an answer from your doctors. You know when you don't feel well; don't be shy about saying so. And, don't let anyone tell you "it's all in your head" and prescribe anxiety meds. If you're anxious, it's because you're sick and you don't know why. Find a doctor who will make time to listen, and work out a plan with you. We drove from Canada, via Virginia, to Florida to get to Dr. Woliner, and he was worth it. (By the way, he had a patient come from Guam, so I don't win the prize... although, she didn't do it by car when nauseous - ha!)

So, I'm back to sitting up and blogging. I promise to be more of my positive self from here on out. However, I've always tried to be real with you, and blogging about the not-so-fun stuff is part of that.

If you're reading this, chances are we are friends at some level. Know that I cherish what we've built through association. Contrary to Simon & Garfunkle, I am not a rock nor an island. I journey with you.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

I took my health for granted...

If you're reading this, some Facebook post probably led you here. A blogger I read talked about how who we "show" ourselves to be on social media isn't really who we are, because we only post what we want others to see. How true... In this case, I just didn't want to post at all.

The day after my last blog post, and, truthfully, I'd forgotten I'd written that Tuesday, I became very, very ill. After 2 ER visits, 3 doctor visits at Henry Ford Medical, 2 specialist visits and a long ultrasound in Virginia, we had a few ideas of what it wasn't but no idea what it was. I lost 7 lbs. in 9 days, and although we all joke about easy ways to drop a few pounds, this was not one of them. I learned that when you lose weight that quickly, you lose muscle and not fat... and that is never anyone's goal, right?

I've never been sicker in my life, and I've learned a lot. I learned that
1) I need to remember to check in on people.
2) People with a chronic illness will be sick, to some degree, for the rest of their lives. It doesn't go away, and neither should my compassion for them.
3) "How quickly we forget" has taken on new meaning.
4) It's all about relationships.
5) I had been wasting a lot of time.
6) I took my health for granted. Did I really think that not exercising when I had the time and not eating well would not take a toll on my body? Apparently, I did, and I was wrong.
7) Laughter has very real medicinal benefits.
8) Being over-sensitive to light and sound reminded me that the best things are not electronic. I missed reading, studying, listening and looking.

I've never been sick for 4 weeks, but we now have a diagnosis. Actually, I have 3, and they're somewhat interwoven. Suffice it to say that they're fixable, but it will take a little while. I'm thankful for a doctor who was willing to dig deep, look hard, and care enough to spend the time needed to actually find answers.

I'm hoping the lessons aren't fixable; I want them to be chronic in my life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Quickly We Forget

Where is everything?! We arrived back into Canada last night, and this morning I couldn't remember where the flatware is. I needed a spoon for my cereal and just stood in the kitchen, looking at the drawers but not daring to open one. Shouldn't I know rather than be guessing? I'm happy to say my foggy brain came through and reminded me.  It's only been a few months away, and although I've been back & forth a bit, organizing the home in Florida caused me to somehow erase or refile the things in the Canada rental.

Our brains have the ability to hold an unimaginable amount of information, but we don't really trust that. How true is that of all things in our lives? If we are honest with ourselves, we know who and what we can trust. Why, then, do we question that? If you're like me, it's a control thing. Letting go - trusting - is there to teach me/us that we don't have to take care of everything. God puts people in our lives to come alongside us and love on us, have fun with us, and to lift the unnecessary burdens we place on ourselves.

Not knowing where to find a spoon reminded me that a) I don't need to know everything, and b) all things are as they should be. I just need to trust in that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


We all say we hate 'stuff' and want to de-clutter our lives. Why then do WalMart & Target have such huge businesses? C'mon... we all know we come out with purchases not on our shopping lists. Yesterday, I saw a family that bought nothing - zip, nada, zero, big goose egg - during the month of February. They watered down their milk (gasp - as if that isn't what 2% and skim are anyway), ate what they had, and walked everywhere so as not to buy gas. One of their daughters' sneakers came apart; she duck taped it and started a new trend at school.

Tomorrow, a moving truck arrives here with what we put into storage when we relocated from Oregon to Virginia. Most of you didn't even know us then, but we were told to pack only what we needed for the next 4 months. We were on temporary status through Jan. '08, or so we thought. When we moved to Canada in April '11, all that 'stuff' was still in storage... Although we picked through some of it, we actually added more when we left VA! I blame that on our small rental in Canada, but now I like "small". So... what comes tomorrow may well be A) a complete surprise to me, B) a little bit like Christmas, or, most likely, C) a lesson in frugality. I vote 'C' - your thoughts?

Why is it that we learn too late that we need very little in this life? My friend, Kathy, made this choice long ago when she wanted to free up money to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes. I've sort of grown into this attitude. I don't want more 'stuff'. I don't even like to shop anymore, unless it's for OCC boxes. I bought 14 stuffed animals and 12 bags of Smarties yesterday, and I'm already excited about building shoebox gifts around them.

When the truck drops off all these things we haven't seen, or apparently needed, I plan to have the Salvation Army ready to come pick-up donations. (Did I mention yesterday that they came on time and as promised? Speaking of integrity...)

I can't wait to have less 'stuff'. I'm thinking the boys are ready to give up all those Legos, and Michael & I don't need a thing beyond what we have. I'm liking this feeling...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Integrity - it's a lost art.

It's been months since I blogged, not out of a lack of thoughts but more so out of a time of thinking and reflecting. I'll blog soon about the house in Florida, the OCC team in Canada, and, yes, Jared's wedding to Rhiannon. They're all important, and many of you have been asking for details (and pictures). I'll get there, I promise.

Speaking of promises - I've been, as they say in Britain, gobsmacked* with the lack of integrity in business lately. For now, let's set aside the reason why we each feel called to represent well when we give our word. In business, where one would think competition would bring about good business standards, I've found just the opposite. Here are some examples:

1) Our neighbor tells us not to bother changing pool services because "they all stink". Sadly, our realtor said the same thing when I asked her for a referral.

2) Our Canada movers told me on a Friday night how to plan for Monday morning. Monday morning brought a completely different plan, with the promise that 'this plan' was correct. 4 changes and a week  later with no communication, the "customer service" rep. said, "Oh, my husband's in the military; I know how important it is to be kept up on changes...". Seriously? Yet she never thought to call me?

In the last 24 hours:

3) We made an appt. for a taxi. I called to make sure it went through, and they said they'd call "right back". An hour later, I called again, they took the info. over the phone and verified everything. This morning, they showed but changed the fare 'due to the price of gas'. I'm guessing fuel prices went up overnight...

4) At 8:45 am, I called about a delivery for today. The owner said he'd call me back within the hour. Still waiting on that call...

5) Our Virginia movers had a 'delivery window' of April 3-10th. This morning's email said they'll be here on the 11th. (Ummm...)

6) I scheduled a service appt. for today, and at 4:00, I called to see if they were still coming. They said they'd call me right back. (It's 6:05...)

What am I missing? I'm not complaining; really, I'm not, but we have made plans around what these businesses have told us. It's not only cost us time & money, but it shakes my eternal optimism just a tad. I like thinking the best of people. I want to encourage people and make them smile. I'm having a tough time with both right now...

Tomorrow's a new day. I'm hopeful.

*Gobsmacked combines the northern English and Scottish slang term gob, mouth, with the verb smack. It suggests the speaker is utterly astonished or astounded. It’s much stronger than just being surprised; it’s used for something that leaves you speechless, or otherwise stops you dead in your tracks. It suggests that something is as surprising as being suddenly hit in the face.