Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions are So 20th Century!


As we embark on a new year, there are many who will be performing the annual ritual of making New Year's Resolutions. We all know that they're mainly a big joke. Studies show that 82% of people who make resolutions only stick to them for a week. After that, it's pretty much a free for all. We all spent most of our lives living in the 20th century, where New Year's Resolutions were really big. The late 20th century was the age of life coaches and gurus who tried to tell you how to live your life. Well, we've been in the 21st century for a while now and it's time to set aside the concept of New Year's Resolutions. You know how you want to live your life, so you don't need a life coach or a guru to tell you how.


At Weight Watchers last night we discussed goals. For a lot of people in Weight Watchers their goal is some nebulous number that they want to reach. Many think that once they reach that goal/number, their life will magically be better than it was prior to that. They don't think about the fact that once you reach your goal, you need to continue putting in work to make sure you stay there. There is no real end of the road here on Earth until we stop living. Along the way it's necessary to set goals, come up with a plan to reach them, and then try to maintain them.


I challenge each and every one of you to set a realistic goal for the coming year. Make sure that it's something within your power to do. As you think about that goal, think about how it will benefit you. Will you be healthier? Will you have more confidence? Will you be happier? Will you be able to spend more time with those you love? When you've come up with your goal, write down the steps you'll need to take to get there. Also, think in the short-term. Break your goal down into little milestones that you'd like to reach within a certain timeframe. If you do this, you won't be overwhelmed. All of those little milestones will give you little victories to celebrate, and they will also let you know you're on the right track. For any of you that have read my previous blog entries, you know that I was never a runner, but I broke running down into small little milestones, and managed to be able to run over 3 miles. Conditioning your body for running is not easy if you've never been much of a runner, but I did it. Did I think a year ago that I could say that I ran all the way around the lake in my town? Hell no! If someone had told me that I'd not only be able to, but that I'd really want to, I would've told them that they were out of their mind! You never know what you're capable of until you try. Make this new year a great one by setting a goal for yourself. I wish you all peace, love, happiness, and prosperity.

Monday, December 28, 2009

If You Did it Before, You Can Do it Again

On Christmas Day a friend of mine texted me to wish me a Merry Christmas. We texted back and forth for a few minutes, and at one point I told her that I hoped her day was going well. She texted back and told me that she had a meltdown earlier because she had gained weight and none of her clothes fit. We've all been there. I'll raise my hand high and say I definitely know that feeling. At this time last year, I really wasn't loving the fact that I had gained so much weight. She said that she was disappointed in herself because she said she wouldn't gain weight again unless she was pregnant. After the birth of her last child she had lost 40lbs. Her last text said she didn't want to burden me with her problems. I told her that she had lost weight before and she can do it again.

We all let ourselves down occasionally. We may really want to do something, but other aspects of our lives get in the way, preventing us from doing so. We are each a work in progress, (hopefully) evolving and moving toward a better incarnation of ourselves. I'm definitely a different person than I was 5 years ago. Hell, I'm a different person than I was a year ago. Lessons have been learned. Knocks have been taken. I've picked myself up, dusted myself off, reassessed, and kept moving forward. I know how easy it is to get caught up in what went wrong, but it also helps to remind yourself what went right. The saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" is a bit trite, but it's true. Every single day that you live is the opportunity for a new beginning. It gives you something to build upon and to strive for. If you don't like some part of your life that is within your power to change, then change it. Today is right here waiting for you and it's full of possibilities!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Remember to Breathe

Today's Christmas Eve and many are on the threshhold of seeing the plans and arrangements they made for the holidays come to fruition. The past few weeks have been a mad rush to get things done, but not just done. Done to perfection. Are the kids going to like their gifts? Will my mother-in-law think that my green bean casserole tastes just like hers? Do I have time to make the rum balls that Uncle Phil likes so much? With all of those questions and many others swirling through your head it's easy to forget what's important. Take a deep breath and remember what the most important part of the holiday season is for you. For Christians it's a celebration of the birth of Christ. For others who celebrate, but aren't Christians, it's about the wonder and merriment of Santa Claus. For all that celebrate, it's a time for making wonderful memories with friends and family. In answer to your questions: 1. Kids like getting stuff, so as long as you've taught them to keep their expectations on a reasonable level, you're golden. 2. If your green bean casserole doesn't taste like your mother-in-law's, who cares? You're not your mother-in-law. As long as the casserole isn't burnt beyond recognition, the complainers are just complaining to complain. 3. If you don't have time to make Uncle Phil's rum balls, take heart. Last time I checked, no one ever kicked the bucket from lack of their favorite rum balls on Christmas Day.

Now that I've mad you laugh, I want to make you think. As time progresses, it seems that the world has become filled with more and more turmoil. Everything that happens is pivotal and shapes the direction that our lives take. Those things make us who we are. There are some things that we can maintain control over and others that we can't. As you find yourself stressing out about getting Christmas dinner on the table a bit late, remember to look at the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, will it really matter if dinner is at 4:30 instead of 3:30? If you did have time to make the rum balls, tell Uncle Phil to have a few more and finish watching the game ;-). Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Shoutout to Hailey's Dragonfly Garden!


In an earlier post I sang the praises of the Acai Berry Lotion that Hailey's Dragonfly Garden offers. Well I figured since that did so well for the dry skin on my arms that there must be something that would work on my dry, rough hands. The recommendation was made that I try the Mango Butter Lotion. Let me tell you, my hands were beyond ashy. They're always a bit dry, but New England winters make them especially scaly. The first time I put the Mango Butter Lotion on my hands it soaked in very quickly and left my hands feeling soft. I've been using it for a little over a month now and it has improved the texture of the skin on my hands (as evidenced by the before and after pics). For those of you who haven't taken the plunge yet, you've gotta check out the website: http://www.haileysdragonflygarden.com/. There are wonderful gift ideas for the holidays. I guarantee you'll find something that you like ;-).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

He's Still Shining On

I was 5 years old when John Lennon was assassinated. I distinctly remember hearing the news about it on the TV. At the time I didn't really know who The Beatles were, and little did I know what influence they and John would have on my life 10 years later.

When I was 15 I saw a documentary on public television about the making of Sgt. Pepper. I distinctly remember George Martin at a soundboard talking about all of the arrangements and instrumentation. I was fascinated, so when I got the chance, I went out and bought Sgt. Pepper on cassette. This was 1990 folks. I didn't have a CD player yet! Anyway, I constantly listened to Sgt. Pepper, my favorite song being A Day in the Life. As I listened to the music I became more and more absorbed in The Beatles and wanted to learn all that I could about them. My junior year in high school I did a research paper comparing and contrasting Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. See, I had it bad! By that time I had Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, and Revolver on cassette.

Although all the guys are great, there was just something about John that called out to me. Maybe it was his troubled childhood or his sharp, cutting wit. Whatever it was, John became my favorite Beatle. When I see his artwork and read his poetry, the depth of his creative mind astounds me! Wrapped up in that creativity was a very loving soul. So loving that he thought nothing of signing an autograph for the man that would end up taking his life mere hours after the autograph was signed.

I was never truly able to understand the world's loss of John Lennon until I was older. He was that rare combination of genius, vulnerability, humanitarianism, and sincerity that's hard to match. There are many who have come after him who are similar in many regards, but they will never be able to catch the lightning in a bottle that was the essence of John Lennon. He greeted the world with an open heart and the world keeps him in theirs. As you rest in peace, John Winston Ono Lennon, know that your messages of love, peace, and togetherness shine on, just as you do. Your fans will love you forever!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting Back to My Roots

The season of giving is once again upon us. No more than at any other time of year is there an emphasis on helping those around you and giving, whether monetarily, physically, or spiritually. Many of us are selfless by nature and don't need the holiday season to present itself in order for us to give of ourselves. Recently I was thinking back to when I was a child and how much I really liked helping others and doing nice things for people. As I grew older and became more jaded, I became hesitant to be as helpful. Maybe it was because it seemed as if no one appreciated my efforts or maybe it was because I felt as if I was that one lone fish swimming upstream while everyone else was fighting to make their way downstream. After a while I got tired of fighting and decided to just be like everyone else. Although I never went out of my way to treat anyone badly, I wasn't as nice as I would've been in the past. As a result I became depressed and disatisfied with myself and my life. Trying to be someone you're not is hard work.

Although I know that it's not wise to try to embrace the world, it's also not wise to act as if there aren't people out there that would benefit from a bit of genuine kindness with no strings attached. All it takes is a smile or a kind word to brighten what might've otherwise been the worst day of someone's life. I know that it makes me feel better on a bad day when someone says something nice to me or does something nice for me. It never hurts to do something nice for someone. When you do something that makes others feel good, you usually feel good, too. Give of yourself freely, expecting nothing in return and your heart will feel lighter.

















Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

Here in the United States the Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. Over the years it has become rife with commercilization and focuses more on food than anything else. There's also lots of talk of how after the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to survive in a new land, the Pilgrims repaid them by killing them and taking their land. For just a few minutes, let's set that aside. The first Thanksgiving was a feast to give thanks to God for bringing the Pilgrims through a harsh year in their new home. Their ranks had diminished, but those who were left knew that it was by the grace of their God that they were there.

This year, while you're scarfing down turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, take a bit of time to truly consider what you're thankful for. Trying to make it in this world is the hardest that it's ever been. Death and destruction seems to mount with each successive day. Throughout history there has always been poverty, disease, and war, but we now live in an age where we can see immediately what is taking place half a world away. Seeing all of that can make a person despair of what the future holds. As long as you do what you know to be right and surround yourself with good people, you can endure anything that comes your way. As the saying goes, count your blessings, but not just on Thanksgiving day. Do it on any day when you feel life dragging you down. If your heart feels heavy, think of all of the people out there who love and cherish you. If your bank account is looking kind of empty, be happy about the fact that you have a residence that enabled you to open that bank account and that you're not living on the streets. If someone hurts your feelings, feel the pain then let it go. No need to plot revenge (although it can be lots of fun!), because the universe always makes things as they should be. Because we don't know everything, it may be hard to see the purpose of the things that happen around us, but trust that you and yours will be okay. Things aren't totally mapped out, but our actions do influence the outcome. We may not always get what we want, but we always get what we truly need. Be grateful for the choices and the opportunities you have. Don't squander them or weigh them against what someone else may have. At this moment you are exactly where you're supposed to be. Embrace that knowledge and send your love and joy out into the universe. I guarantee that there's someone out there who would welcome it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Weight-Loss Milestone



Those of you that know me or have been following me on Twitter know that I've been on the Weight Watchers Program since early January. For the most part, the journey has been a smooth one, but as I neared the 50lb mark, I started to ease up a bit. I'd fudge on my points when tracking my food or maybe I wouldn't track some of the extra points I ate and chalk it up to having exercised that day so those points would just count against the exercise. Because of the fact that I eased up, I was near the 50lb mark twice, prior to finally reaching it. On my birthday I was 0.2 away and the next week I gained 2lbs. A few weeks later I was 0.4 away and I gained again. Last week I was 0.8 away and decided to really work hard so that I could finally hit 50lbs lost. On Saturday I did an exercise tape that I hadn't done in a long time, but I knew it targeted all of the muscle systems. On Sunday I jogged around the lake. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are always devoted to the gym, but while I was there I made sure I gave it my all. When I went to my meeting last night, part of me knew that I had hit 50, but part of me was afraid to hope. When I stepped on the scale, there was a sharp intake of breath from my WW leader. That's how I knew I had made it! It was one of the proudest moments of my life. She told me that I was down 2.2lbs, which means I've lost a total of 51.4lbs.

One of the things that WW emphasizes is building healthy habits. Sometimes we're raised with healthy habits and pick up unhealthy ones along the way, but it's never too late to get back on track. I've always been a picky eater and there were certain vegetables that I wouldn't even try, but since I've been doing WW, I'm a bit more open to the food options that are out there. I'm almost at my goal, and once I get there, I'll let everyone know. Until then, to borrow a phrase from the 70's, I'm gonna keep on truckin'!




















Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Treat Yourself without Breaking the Bank

As women we're always searching for the next big thing that's going to make us look and feel good. Beauty products and skincare are a big part of all of our lives, but the ones that claim that they'll benefit us the most are extremely expensive. Even when the economy wasn't so bad, it was hard for me to see myself paying an exorbitant amount of money to make my skin look better. Over the past 20 years or so, there has been a real shift in thinking and there has been more of an emphasis on all-natural skin care. Unfortunately, the all-natural stuff that's supposed to be better for you is just as expensive, if not more so, than all of the others. Through Twitter I was able to find a small business that makes all-natural products that are not only good for your skin, but they're also affordable. You can check out the site here: http://www.haileysdragonflygarden.com/.



I've ordered soaps and a body lotion and am very satisfied with my products. The skin on my upper arms was very dry and bumpy. I've often heard it referred to as "chicken skin". There's an expensive cream on the market that targets that particular problem. I've been considering buying the cream for quite some time, but just didn't want to spend the money. Even when I had gift cards for Sephora (where it's sold) I didn't want to buy it. Now I don't have to because Hailey's Dragon Garden makes a product that solves my problem. The Acai Berry Lotion with Calendula is one of the first purchases that I made. I use it almost every day on my arms and legs and it leaves my skin smooth and hydrated. I didn't even notice that the bumps on my upper arms were going away until the other day. I just happened to take a look at my arms when I was getting ready for work and noticed they didn't look dry anymore. Also, the texture of my skin has improved quite a bit. I'm very impressed with how well the Acai Berry Lotion has worked and I paid about an eighth of what I would've paid for the high-end brand.

As I said before, I've also tried the soaps and I love them! They lather very nicely, leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth. I highly recommend these products to anyone that's looking for an all-natural way to care for their skin, but isn't able to spend the big bucks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The High Cost of Trying to Live a Healthy Life

There has been a debate about the so-called "soda tax" that has been proposed for sugary drinks. There are a lot of people who oppose it although it's an initiative that would go hand in hand with promoting healthier living. If it costs more to buy it, then you'll stop buying it and choose a healthier alternative or a healthier lifestyle. It's similar to what they've done with tobacco products. Also, they feel that the money from taxing soda would help to supplement the healthcare overhaul.

There's also a debate about high fructose corn syrup that's been going on for quite a while. The evils of hfcs are touted, but there are also councils that present information saying that it's harmless. It's very prevalent and shows up in the oddest places. For instance what the hell is hfcs doing in my Stove Top Stuffing? Yeah, some stuffing is made from cornbread, but hfcs isn't supposed to be in my cornbread either!

Debate about these things and the introduction of the soda tax are ways that our government is looking to fight obesity. There are now many more commercials about making healthy choices when it comes to food, and fast food places are offering healthier options. That's great, but it doesn't change the fact that in order to eat healthier you have to pay an arm and a leg for groceries. Processed foods and sugary drinks are much cheaper than fresh fruits, vegetables, and organically produced goods. Minorities continue to have problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. These are all diseases that could be controlled or stabilized with exercise and a healthy diet. While grocery shopping, when given the choice between fresh fruits and veggies or a bag of chips for their kids to snack on , the chips will overwhelmingly be chosen because they're cheaper. Also, grocery stores tend to run specials on the less healthy stuff, so that makes people more apt to buy them since they're getting a better deal than usual. In this economy every penny counts even more than ever, so if eating healthier means having to pay more for your groceries then it'll continue to fall by the wayside. That money has to go to more mundane things like the mortgage or the rent, heat, and electricity. Those are just the basics. That doesn't even take into account such things as clothing, car payments, and car insurance.

If you want people to have healthier lifestyles and lower insurance rates, you've got to give them alternatives that will work for them. The majority of the country does not live in a McMansion and drive their SUV to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to pick out fresh produce and organic ingredients to make a healthy balanced meal for their children. They're living in small houses, cramped apartments, or trailers; hoping that the car will crank so that they can go to A & P for a box of frozen fried chicken, some instant mashed potatoes, and a can of green beans (oops forgot the packet of Kool-Aid) so that their children can have a hot meal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Making Yourself a Priority

Last night in my Weight Watchers meeting we talked about taking care of yourself and putting yourself first. As women, we're very good at taking care of others, but we tend to let ourselves fall by the wayside. Wives and mothers have an especially hard time putting themselves first because most of the time not only do they have a household to run, but they also have a demanding job outside the home. By virtue of birth most women are nurturers. Nurturing others comes easy, but when it comes to nurturing oneself, it might take a bit more work.

Some of the things that might keep us from doing so are lack of time, the feeling that maybe we don't deserve it, or feelings of guilt for actually spending time on ourselves. The example we saw our mothers set can also be a factor. My own mother is a very selfless woman. She sacrificed a lot to provide a loving home for my father, me, and my two brothers. There are many things she wanted or wanted to do, but felt that she needed to put us first. Looking back on it now, I wish that she had put herself first more. I think she missed out on a lot because of us.

That realization is a big motivator for me to nurture myself a little bit. Deciding to lose weight is one of the ways that I'm taking care of myself. Not only does it help me physically, it also helps me mentally and emotionally. There are a lot of us out there who are emotional eaters. Whenever someone or something hurts us or makes us sad, we grab a bag of chips or a pack of cookies. In the moment that food tastes pretty damn good, but afterward you're pissed at yourself because you ate a whole package of cookies that will be taking up residence on your thighs momentarily. Once that thought strikes you, you get depressed. If you're depressed you might wanna reach for that pint of Ben and Jerry's. Now you just ate a package of cookies and hated yourself for it. Why are you reaching for the Ben and Jerry's? Because maybe it'll make you feel less depressed. It all becomes a vicious cycle, one that I've been caught up in many times. One day I reached my breaking point and had to put up a big STOP sign.

Now that I've done that, I'm able to look at my life and the world around me from a better perspective. We all want and need to be loved by others, but we also need love from ourselves. Breaking out a little bit of Whitney Houston "Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all". If you love and nurture yourself, you'll feel so much better about yourself, which will in turn enrich your relationships with other people. I find that when I take good care of myself I have better interactions with those around me. Funny how that works, huh?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Inspiration

Have you ever inspired somebody and not even known it? There you are going about your daily routine, trying to reach your goals, and trying to stay focused; meanwhile, someone's looking at you and what you've accomplished and deciding to take action.

That's what happened to me at my Weight Watchers meeting last night. During every meeting we do celebrations as a means of receiving positive feedback for our accomplishments, whether they be scale-related or not. Last night, during celebrations one of the other members said that she wanted to give a shoutout to me because I inspired her to start running. Prior to WW, I was not a runner at all, not even when I was younger. Back then it wasn't a matter of my being heavy (I was skinny until I was about 14), it was about me just not wanting to push myself to do it. During this past summer our WW group set individual 6 week goals and my goal was to be able to run for 15 minutes. In order to reach that goal I ran a little bit each week, increasing the amount of time until I got to 15 minutes. After I found that I could do that, I decided to push myself to run for 30 minutes. Once again, I just kept incrementally adding time until I got there. My final goal was to be able to run all the way around the lake near my apartment, which is 3.5 miles or so. A few weeks ago I was able to do it for the first time. I did it over Labor Day weekend. After that first day, I decided to do it again the next day to make sure it wasn't a fluke. Day 2 I was able to do it, so I decided to go for the hat trick and run around the lake 3 days in a row. On Day 3 I had to push myself a bit, but I still made it.

I used that story as a celebration in the meeting 2 weeks ago, and a girl in the meeting, Amy, decided that she'd give running a try. When she talked about it last night, she said that she was on a track and would run for 2 laps and walk for 1 lap. She did that 4 days in a row. She said the whole time she was doing it, she was thinking of me. That made me so happy because that was unexpected proof that I'm having a positive impact on someone else's life. I always say that when I die, I want to do so having made the world a better place for my being in it. Although things I do or achieve might not necessarily have a global impact, I'm glad that I can truly touch and inspire the individuals that come in contact with me. Not only does the fact that I inspired Amy to start running make me proud, but it also motivates me to keep reaching toward my goals.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Consumed by Anger and Bitterness

Have you ever noticed how many people around you look truly miserable? I jog around a lake near my apartment, and one day when I was walking back home, I saw one of my friends that lives nearby. She told me that there's a wooded trail where she likes to walk because she doesn't like the lake. When I asked her why, she said that the people at the lake were mean. There are lots of people that walk, jog, and bike around the lake. For me it's a relaxing experience that can sometimes help me clear my head. I would think that others would feel the same way, but most of the people I see during the time that I'm walking or jogging look pretty grim. You can almost feel the bitterness emanating from them.

I know that life is damn hard and that it can thrown many a curveball, but it would be easier to deal with those curveballs if one could just let go of the anger and the bitterness. Got a co-worker that you absolutely can't stand? Associate with them as little as possible. If you have to work with them on a project, try your best to maintain a professional demeanor. Got a friend who's either a user or a liar? Once again, limit your time with them. Also, branch out to find new friends and new activities. Have a child, old or young, that continually makes mistakes or gets into trouble? With the older kids, you may have to wash your hands of the situation and let them try to make it on their own. Take comfort in the fact that you raised them the best that you could and that everything works out the way it's supposed to. As for younger kids, you still have a chance to try to steer them in the right direction. If what you're doing isn't working, then try a new approach. Also, remember that mistakes are also learning experiences.

Those are just a few examples of the things in life that can make us feel miserable. If you are dealing with something that's not on this list, just remember that only you can make you happy. You know what it is that you want and need. Lots of times fear holds us back from reaching toward our goals. Rarely do things ever fall into place the first time out of the box, so don't be discouraged. It may take one more attempt or it make take 100 more attempts. No matter how long it takes, persistence does pay off.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When Your World Stops Turning

Last night I found out some very sad news. Someone that I grew up with in Georgia, that I had known since I was 5-years old passed away. I'll be 34 in 22 days. This is not supposed to be happening. There are so many people in this world that are positively evil and they get to live nice, long lives. Granted, some of them are in prison, but still they've lived to see another day. My friend, who was genuinely a good person will never wake up in her own bed again, wondering what the day has to offer. She'll never get to eat her favorite foods and watch her favorite TV shows. I know that there's supposed to be another existence far superior to the one that we lead here on Earth, but damnit, she had a lot more living to do! She was the only person that I've been in contact with during recent years that saw me in all of the stages of my early development. Elementary, middle, and high school we knew each other. We hung out. We talked. We did things together. Up until about 5 years ago, I hadn't seen her since we graduated from high school, but then a mutual friend brought us together again. I knew she was sick, but I had no idea how bad it had gotten. She's the 5th person from my high school graduating class that has passed away (at least as far as I know), and I've only been out of high school for 15 years. Something like this makes me face my own mortality, but it also makes me wonder who chooses which people live to see another day and which end up dying young. What is it based on? I know some people who should've been dead long ago, but they're still here causing misery and heartache. It seems that many who could do a lot of good in this world leave it too soon. This is something that I know I'll never understand, but it won't stop me from wondering. Those of you who are religious will say that this is the way that things were meant to be. Although I'm not particularly religious, I am spiritual, and I know that things have their own reasons for happening. That still doesn't change the fact that I'm sad that Amy is gone. She went through some tough times and I'm glad she doesn't have to deal with them anymore, but I can't help questioning it all as my world stops turning for a brief moment in contemplation of what was and what will never be. Rest in Peace, Amy. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brush with Camelot

As I write this, Senator Edward Kennedy's motorcade is passing near my office building in Boston. There are lots of people that have lots of strong opinions about him and his past. He did a lot of good for this country, but his legacy will be forever marred by one event that took place in his life. I won't dwell on that because it doesn't have anything to do with me. I will talk about one specific memory I have of him. In 2002 he was endorsing the Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Shannon O'Brien. As part of that endorsement, he stood outside the entrance/exit of the Park Street Green Line subway station in Boston greeting people and encouraging them to "Vote for Shannon". I took the Green Line to work every day and got off at Park Street on the morning that Senator Kennedy was out there. As I came out the doors, I saw him standing there. He looked me right in the eye, held out his hand to shake mine and said "Vote for Shannon". It was a very surreal moment. There I was, a small town girl from rural Georgia and I had just shaken the hand of a man that was a member of one of the most politically influential families of the 20th century. Six degrees of separation and all that. Small world, huh? And it's getting smaller every day. Regardless of what his faults may have been, he is no longer with us and there are people that are saddened by that. His judgement will not be in our hands. As always, a higher power is at work and things will be as they should be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They Grow up so Fast (Or at Least They Try To)

Some of you who have read my blog before know that I have an 11-year old niece. She just started middle school, and as I'm sure we all remember, this is the time when we struggle with being not quite a child, but not quite a teenager either. One of the rites of passage for girls is wearing makeup. My niece's two closest friends wear makeup. Of course they don't leave the house with it on, but they do wear it at school. My niece lives with my parents, so any time she wants or needs something, she has to ask them. A couple of weeks ago she asked my mom if she could start wearing makeup. She wanted eyeshadow, mascara, and lip gloss. Like any good mother should, my mom said no. Ever since then, my niece has been trying to weasel her way into wearing makeup. A couple of nights ago she and my parents went to Target, and she asked if she could have some mascara. Once again, my mom said no. This was my niece's response "Well, Aunt Shelly (me) wears mascara." My mom comes back with "How old is Aunt Shelly?" "33", says my little girly. My mom's final words on the subject, "Do the math and then tell me who can wear mascara."

Although the story has its cute moments, it's a serious subject. Girls are trying at younger and younger ages to look older. I didn't start wearing makeup until I was 13, which, upon reflection, was still way too early. My mom has never really worn makeup so she wasn't sure what an appropriate age would be. It blows my mind to see little girls all tarted up in heavy makeup and and wearing short, tight clothes. They're exhibiting sexuality that they aren't equipped to deal with yet. I'm not going to make a broad generalization and say that all men are dogs, but quite a few are and they're just waiting to prey on young girls who are trying to assert their independence by making a foray into womanhood. These girls are too immature and too naive to realize that those men will tell them anything they want to hear to get what they want.

I know that times change and that we need to change with the times, but it never has been and never will be okay for a young girl to parade around looking like a prostitute or a stripper. There's nothing wrong with a young girl wanting to look good, but she needs to be taught the difference between looking good and looking trashy. As the past 20 years have gone by, I've worn less and less makeup. Most people don't even know that I wear makeup because I use it only as a subtle enhancement, which is what it's meant for. I'm sure that my niece will find another way to broach the subject of makeup with my mom, because kids are persistent, but I know that my mom will stand firm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

There are a couple of adages that come to my mind today that, I think, apply to many people's lives. Those are "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry" and "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". We've all been in a situation where we plan to do something, have it all laid out, and the result is nowhere near the one that we had hoped for. Why? Because we never accounted for the intangibles. In a perfect world, everything would go as planned. Since we don't live in a perfect world, we have to contend with those things that derail our plans. We can either walk away, or make adjustments. Personally, I'm someone who likes to make adjustments. Adaptability is a good trait to have. It will help you in many aspects of your life.

As for the road to hell being paved with good intentions, in your heart, you know what you are trying to accomplish. What problem could that possibly cause? Well, unless you express yourself and your intentions in a clear manner that can be understood by all, your actions can be misconstrued. The hell part comes in when you try to backtrack and explain yourself after the misunderstanding has occurred. At the root of this is communication. We've been conditioned to hold in how we really feel about the things that other people do if what they're doing rubs us the wrong way. Wouldn't want to upset the apple cart! Unfortunately, we can't hold it in forever and there's always something that manifests itself as the last straw. Once the dam has been broken, the feelings come spewing out, unfiltered and oftentimes in a very hurtful way. When that happens, it causes more of a problem than the other party may have originally believed existed. Tact and diplomacy are two things that are essential in effective communication. They eliminate unnecessarily hurt feelings and help an issue to be resolved in an expedient manner.

If you have a problem with someone or something that they've done, let them know as soon as you possibly can. Don't let it fester until it boils over. Of course emotions will be running high, but try to keep them in check and discuss the problem in a calm and rational way. Taking jabs at the other person may make you feel better in the moment, but it will continue to escalate the situation, when it should be moving in the other direction. I'm a very sensitive person who cares deeply about other people, which causes me to be hurt more than most. I used to wonder how anyone could do or say the things that others have to hurt me, but then I realized that not everyone is like me. Maybe I didn't communicate my wants or needs clearly and effectively. If I did, then I know that nothing I do or say is going to change the situation, so I just move on. Learn from the experience; put it behind you; and you'll be ready if it happens again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Two Causes Near and Dear to My Heart

Although I don't have much money, I still like to donate to worthy causes when I can spare a few dollars. There are 2 in particular that I have an affinity for. Those are The Least I Can Do and GA Funny Farm. I've blogged about both of them before, but I wanted to bring them to the forefront again. The Least I Can Do is a concept developed by Gavin DeGraw fans to pay tribute to him by raising money for a charity that he supports. It's a yearly endeavor and we pick a different charity every year. This year's charity is the Wounded Warrior Project. Go to http://www.theleasticando.net to find out more.

The GA Funny Farm is an animal sanctuary whose primary focus is rescue cats. They currently have 59 and are trying to raise money to fence in a large portion of their property so that the kitties can roam free without fear for their safety. Learn more at http://www.gafunnyfarm.org. They are almost halfway to their fundraising goal and every little bit helps. If a large group of us band together and give whatever we can, no matter how small, we can make a big difference.



Monday, August 3, 2009

How I See Myself vs. How Others See Me

From the title you might gather that I'm going to write something deep and philosphical about mental self-preception, but this time I'm going to keep it on the surface and talk about physical self-perception. As some of you may know, I've been doing Weight Watchers since January. To date, I've lost 46lbs. and am the healthiest that I've been in about 5 years. Although 46lbs. is a lot of weight, I weighed over 200lbs. when I started Weight Watchers, so I'm actually starting to get into a more healthy weight range. According to BMI calculations (which I find to be arbitrary), I'm still overweight, but when I measure the ratio between my height and waist size, I'm considered to be at a healthy weight. It's interesting to see the reactions of people that haven't seen me since before I started Weight Watchers. I've dropped 2 sizes and will probably drop one more before I get to my goal. I know that I am by no means skinny, but compared to how I used to look, other people think I'm really small. The phrase one person used is "skin and bones", which I'm not, not by any stretch of the imagination. When people are used to seeing you a certain way, it can sometimes make them a bit uncomfortable to see that you've made a big change. My Weight Watchers leader said that sometimes it makes people think of the changes that they need to make that they might not be ready for. As humans, we tend to project our own feelings and fears onto other people. This causes those other people to question what they're doing and whether it's right. This isn't the first time that someone has told me that I'm getting too skinny, which is ridiculous. I still have plenty of padding covering me, there's just less than there used to be. When I get to my goal, I'll post "Before" and "After" pictures. Until then, I'll continue to take it day by day as I work to give myself a better quality of life.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Did You Remember to Shower this Morning?

Although summer is technically about halfway over, it's finally made an apprearance in New England. For the next week it's going to be very humid, and we all know that humidity = sweating profusely. All that sweat can come together with bacteria and produce some very unpleasant smells. The absolute worst place to be when the weather is like this is on public transportation. The subway is usually really bad because half the time the A/C isn't working and people are packed into the cars like sardines. I take a commuter train to work, and that can be pretty bad, too. This morning a guy sat down beside me and, Lord have mercy, was he ever funky! And I don't mean he had smooth dance moves. He smelled as if he had gone jogging for 2 days in a row and forgot to shower. Seeing as we're pretty much programmed to bathe ourselves from the time that we understand what it means to do so, I highly doubt that he forgot. I can't even begin to hazard a guess as to why he smelled that way. It wasn't even BO, it was straight up stale sweatiness. Regardless, when you know you're going to be in an enclosed space with strangers, it pays to shower before you leave the house. You can do whatever you want if all you're going to do is sit at home all day, but if there's that chance that I might have to sit next to you on a train, I don't want to have to feel like I'm in a gym locker room or in the presence of someone with poor hygiene. I've seen medical shows about people who smell no matter how often they shower. If this is you, then go to your doctor and see if you can get it taken care of. For those of you who just aren't showering, do the world a favor and lather up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Do Your Feet Say about You?

Although I'm no expert on beauty or fashion, I'm taking on a request from a friend to do a segment on feet. This is the time when we all turn out our toes and wear cute little strappy sandals, or go casual with a pair of flip flops. No matter how you choose to show off your tootsies, one thing is absolutely essential, they should look presentable. There is many an office here in Boston that doesn't allow the wearing of open-toe shoes, and I can guess why. No one wants to see feet that have raggedy toenails and cracked, crusty heels. I know that money is tight, so I'm not saying that everyone should run out to some chi-chi spa and get a pedicure. I also don't advocate the lower-end places that use those chairs to soak your feet in because those aren't cleaned very well. I'm sure you're asking yourself "What's a girl to do?" Well there's always the home pedicure. Lots of fashion magazines tell you all about how to do it and I'm sure you could find info online. There are lots of nice foot products from Freeman and Dr. Scholl's that'll get the job done for you. Also, don't forget to buy one of those foot spas to soak your feet in. After a hard day's work, those babies are nice and they're relatively cheap. If you don't feel like buying a foot spa and a bunch of foot care products, you can get one of those plastic dish pans, add some body wash and soak your feet in that. To get rid of dead skin you can use a Ped Egg (I know you've seen them on TV), or the Revlon or Dr. Scholl's version. A moisturizing lotion will take care of keeping your feet and toes nice and smooth. Whether or not you choose to paint your toenails is up to you. Just make sure that your toenails are neatly trimmed. If you have a problem with cracked heels, there are lots of heel balms and creams on the market. While your heels are healing, you can still get in the summer spirit with a nice pair of shoes with a peep-toe. Taking a little time and a little pride in your appreance will go a long way in making you feel confident and powerful.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fun with Muffin Tops

Many people say that the top is the best part of the muffin, but when it comes to getting dressed, the top of the muffin is the worst part. My last entry was about fashion footwear, and since it's technically summer (but not really in New England), we'll talk about another style, no-no, the Muffin Top. Although they can often be seen year-round, they are particularly prevalent during warm weather. For those of you who may not know the terminology, a Muffin Top occurs when a woman puts on a pair of pants, particularly jeans, that are too tight in the waist and cause spillage. Muffin Top is usually accompanied by the too short t-shirt. Fashion has devolved quite a bit since I was a teenager. During that time, there's no way in hell that anyone would've considered showing a hint of belly flab. They say if you've got it, flaunt it. Well the converse is also true; if you ain't got it, keep it covered up. I'm all for loving your body, but in doing so, you need to take pride in your appearance. A bulging belly spilling out of the top of your pants is nothing to be proud of, but a body dressed in clothes that fit is always a winner, no matter what your size.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are You a "Do" or a "Don't"?

I'm sure most of you know that Glamour magazine has a "Do's and Don't's" section every month. As much as we'd love to, we can't all be a "Do" all the time. Sometimes we veer into "Don't" territory, and it ain't pretty! I am by no means a fashion plate, but I try to get it right, because I know what goes through my mind when I see someone who has gone horribly wrong. During the summer, we tend to think we can let it all hang out. It's hotter outside and dress codes at work become a little more relaxed. One thing I've learned is that the right footwear can turn a so-so outfit into a nice one, or a fabulous outfit into a hideous one. One of the top fashion killers is pantyhose with an open-toed shoe. That's almost as bad as walking around in a housedress with your knee highs rolled down a la Vickie Lawrence in Mama's Family. I know it's been a chilly summer in New England, but if you're going for the open toe, rock it hardcore. If your legs are cold under that skirt or dress put on leggings or footless tights.

Two types of shoes that are the bain of my existence are Ugg boots and Crocs. Ugg boots have actually been dead on the fashion scene for a while. I know they're all cozy and warm, and during a New England winter, I might be able to excuse wearing them to work, but why wear them all day? Do you enjoy having feet that look like a sasquatch's? FYI, Uggs jumped the shark quite a few years ago when Marlon Brando was spotted leaving the hospital in a wheel chair, wearing a pair. Think about it. That was a long time ago because Marlon Brando has been dead for 5 years, but the Ugg parade marches on.

Now on to Crocs, those misshapen hunks of rubber that turn your feet into brightly colored blobs. Now I know you're not spending all day gardening, so why would you wear something that's roughly the equivalent of a gardening clog? Those babies are wide-open and have holes so if you're just randomly walking in dirt, your feet or socks are gonna get filthy. Speaking of filthy, I saw a girl walking barefoot in Downtown Boston because her flip flop had broken.. I love Boston, but damn girl, you're gonna need a tetanus shot when you get home! For the love of God, stop by Payless and get some $5.00 flips flops! There was a Payless nearby, btw, that's why I mentioned it. Anyway, back to Crocs. As time has gone by they've tried to spice things up by creating different styles. That doesn't change the fact that it's a rubber shoe that will make your feet sweat and therefore, stink to high heaven! Word has come down the pike that the Crocs folks are bankrupt and I can't say that I'm sorry to hear that. Even with bankruptcy those monstrosities could hang around for a long, long time.

That's enough from me for now. Here's my official disclaimer that this is all in good fun, so that Ugg and Crocs worshippers don't send me hate mail ;-).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

International Gavin DeGraw T-Shirt Day







It's time for me to promote my favorite recording artist again. Just can't help but love that man ;-)! August 15th is International Gavin DeGraw T-Shirt Day. The details are as follows:





August 15th is International Gavin DeGraw T-Shirt Day. Show your support by sporting a t-shirt on that day. We'll have a special Flickr group set up where you can upload your photos to show off to the world. There will be contests with cool prizes, as well as a few surprises on that day.
Need a t-shirt? Visit the
Merch Shop.
GDG Fan Club members get 10% off on all purchases. GDG Web Team members can earn shirts and get points for buying a shirt.
Tell the world. It's coming: August 15th: International Gavin DeGraw T-Shirt Day!




Although he's a very underrated artist, he's puts on one of the best live shows. His fanbase is solid, but his music is so good that it needs to be heard by more people. If you don't know who he is, check him out on YouTube. Watching and listening to him brings back memories of the days when rock and roll was young, and musicians could really sing. He loves to perform and it shows. He also likes interacting with his fans, so I've met him quite a few times. I'm not asking everyone who reads this to rock a GDG t-shirt on August 15th, but at least check him out. He's the real deal and genuinely has a love for music.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Does Bill O'Reilly Feel Like He Can Speak for Black America?

I just read an article on msn.com regarding comments that Bill O'Reilly made to the effect that Michael Jackson is not a Black icon. You can read the article here: http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=420144&gt1=28103

He touches on the fact that Michael changed his skin color and is not the biological father of his children. Anyone with eyes in their head knew that before there were ever any DNA tests. Bleaching one's skin doesn't change their genes. If you're Black, you're Black and if you have children with someone who's not, then some part of your genetics is going to show up. Those kids are white. So what? That's no concern of mine.

O'Reilly also sees Michael's need to change his skin color as Michael turning his back on the Black community. I feel like Michael's choice had nothing to do with any kind of dissatisfaction with the Black community. I think it had more to do with his dissatisfaction with himself and maybe with the man who raised him. There are horror stories about the way that Joe treated Michael. Joe has also proven himself to be someone that the public should have no sympathy for as evidenced by his appearance at the BET awards and his "need" to promote his new record label and its artists during a time when he should be mourning his youngest son.

Michael Jackson surrounded himself with people of all races. While I really wish that he hadn't decided to have all of that plastic surgery and change his skin color, I don't see it as him trying to break away from being Black. I see it as him trying to break away from his childhood as Michael Joseph Jackson, a child who some could say was exploited for his own father's personal gain. His change in looks is the farthest he could get from that. I feel that his decision goes deeper than race. As a Black person, I feel that I can speak on it with much more insight than someone like Bill O'Reilly.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yield's Millions from One Campaign

I'm a big fan of doing what you can to help others, but I know in these tough economic times this can be hard to do. Even when times aren't that tough, I still don't have a lot of extra money, so I'm always happy when I find a cause that asks little but does a lot. Recently I came across a campaign by Yield Clothing to provide clean drinking water for the most needy all over the world. They sell bracelets for $10 and 50% of the money from the bracelets goes toward building water wells. They have other programs going on, but I was most impressed by this one, because clean drinking water is a basic necessity of life. Many times we wonder if we're really doing any good in this world, but by participating in this program, we can do our little part to make the world a little bit better for those who really need it. Check this campaign out at http://www.millionsfromone.com/.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Saving Lots of Kitties


I have a new follower on Twitter that runs a cat sanctuary. She and her husband rescue cats and give them a nice home. Some are adopted out, but the majority get to stay on the Funny Farm. You can read all about them at http://www.gafunnyfarm.org. They are currently trying to raise money for a fence so that the kitties and all the other animals can be safe. If you're a kitty lover check them out. You can also follow them on Twitter. They are @gafunnyfarm. I think they're doing an admirable job taking care of so many cats. I grew up in GA, out in the country, so I know that people often drive by and throw cats out of the car. The cats that my mom has are ones that just showed up one day, and we know it's because someone left them there. Don't take on a pet, if you don't have the means to take care of it. A lot of kitties are being left homeless because of foreclosures and the fact that a lot of landlords don't allow cats. Don't leave your little friends behind. Try to find a good home for them, or drop them off at a no-kill shelter, at the very least. Animals are living beings, too, and deserved to be treated well.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

When It's All in Good Fun

I don't usually blog on Sunday, but something happened to a friend that makes me feel the need to speak. I've been having a lot of fun on Twitter and have met some very nice and very silly people. I've enjoyed reading their tweets and know that they're just there to have a good time. Because my updates are protected, I can choose who I let follow me. That helps me to weed out spam, porn bots, and people that may not have much of a sense of humor. The people I follow are a great bunch and I love seeing what they have to say. It makes me sad to think that somebody might get offended by words that are meant in jest. It also makes me mad that others would make fun of what someone has to say. If you don't want to see what someone has to say, then unfollow them. It's as simple as that. There's no need to reprimand them if you don't like something they said, and there's no need to talk smack about them. We're all adults here, as far as I know, so why don't we act like adults?

Friday, June 26, 2009

We All Have Our Demons

This week saw the passing of 3 major figures in popular culture. Each had known the heights of fame, only to be thrown into the pit of despair. We have all experienced despair, but we're lucky enough not to have it play out in the media for all eyes to see. In these tough economic times we are all having financial problems, but Ed McMahon's and Michael Jackson's financial problems were deemed worthy enough to be splashed on the front pages of newspapers because of who they are. Home foreclosures and Ed's Cash 4 Gold commercials were fodder for the press. Many of us know people or may be people who have or have had various forms of cancer. Because of the high-profile life that she once lead, Farrah Fawcett's cancer battle was one that the press wanted to squeeze every detail out of.

At one time or another, we've all said (whether seriously or jokingly) that we'd love to have some famous person's life, but when it comes right down to it, what price did they pay for their fame? I won't go into the myriad of problems that each of these people had because the dead deserve respect. It's a shame that the famous people of this world don't get the same respect in life. I know that many of them court the press, but their business is their business until they decide to make it ours. As Ed, Farrah, and Michael are being laid to rest, it would be great if their demons could finally be laid to rest too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gotta Love That Man


Once again Gavin DeGraw is bringing his charitable endeavors to the forefront. His latest blog post on MySpace is as follows:


Musicians on Call 10th Anniversary
Gavin has been involved with Musicians On Call for years and has visited many hospitals around the country. In honor of 10 years of bringing music to the bedsides of patients, MOC aims to raise $10,000 in 10 weeks, and Gavin is asking for your help!


This is a charity that's near and dear to Gavin's heart and he's witnessed firsthand the healing power of music. His is such a giving spirit and he encourages his fans to be the same way. For him it's always about the music and how it can be used to help others, which is very admirable. For those of you that may not know who he is, I have links to his sites posted on this blog. Regardless of whether or not you know or like him, this is a very worthy cause. If you love music, then you can understand how important the work is that Musicians on Call does. If you would like to donate, please click on this link http://www.musiciansoncall.org/index.htm?inc=5&news_id=16033.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Does it Take?

Have you ever had someone in your life that despised you no matter how nice you were to them? Whether it's a family member or co-worker, it can make life very difficult. I'm someone who is very conscious of other people and their feelings. When I'm in a situation I try to think about the other person, as well as myself. My mom's the same way. I think it may have something to do with us both being Libras. Regardless of this fact, there are still people out there that are willing to turn on you after you've done something nice for them. The only thing that I can attribute it to is the fact that these people are so filled with self-loathing that it permeates everything around them. When you're like that, all you have at the end of the day is your hatred of others to keep you company. How sad is that? What does it take to make these people see how wrong they are? Apparently not death. The death in my family over a month ago derailed some of the ugliness for a short amount of time, but now it's back with a vengeance. If people spent their time getting their lives straight, then they wouldn't have time to spread their hatred around.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Commitment

It's a long word with scary connotations for some, but it's also a motivator. By committing to the things you know you need to do to get the things you want, you have something to strive for. Working toward our goals keeps us sharp, focused, and happy. When we're not working toward or trying to accomplish something, we get bored and sometimes even depressed.

Committing to something doesn't carve it in stone. Instead it gives you direction and a guideline to follow. As the situation changes you can adjust your plans to accommodate it. Life is always going to manage to throw a wrench in the works at some point or other. The way that we deal when that does happen shows what we're made of. It's hard to keep moving forward when something knocks us back. After fighting the good fight over and over again, the desire to give in can become very strong. I speak from experience on this one. It's easy to take a divergent path, but if you do that, you'll have to start from square one again, which is harder than continuing when you want to quit. When you're in the moment, it's hard to remember this, but keep it tucked away in your mind so that it's handy when you need it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Okay to Be Who You Are

Over the past few decades, individuality has become taboo. A lot of young women feel that if they don't look and act like everyone else, they'll be left out in the cold. And then there are those that profess to be individuals, but are only the latest in a long line of conformists. At various stages of our lives we all want to fit in, but should never try so hard that we lose sight of who we are. I've always been someone who does my own thing. At times my choices have overlapped with what is or was the latest thing, but I never consciously sought to model myself after those things. Unfortunately, the quest for individuality can result in bullying. Years ago when we thought of bullying, we thought of larger boys beating up on smaller boys and sometimes girls. Now girls are bullies. There's the whole mean girl phenomenon that took hold about 10 years or so ago. Most of bullying from girls isn't physical, it's verbal. Rumors are spread and uncool girls are frozen out of the group. What I've described happens in elementary school. It only gets worse in middle and high school. It's becoming tougher and tougher for females as they grow up. The best thing for parents to do would be to let them know that it's okay to be different. Different doesn't equal bad. If we were all exactly the same and liked the same things, we'd be bored to death. Our differences are what make us interesting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Taking Care of Your Own

Yesterday my mom told me that one of my cousins just had her 3rd child. This girl is 20 years old and all of her children have different fathers. Her morals are definitely lacking, but that's a story for another entry. This is about her unwillingness to take care of her children. I found out that her 2 oldest children haven't had a bath in at least a month and have been wearing the same clothes for a month. They've not been fed on a regular basis either. Meanwhile their mother was out clubbing, drinking, and smoking during her pregnancy. You may ask yourselves, What about the children's grandmother? Well, she's too busy flaunting her new body (due to weight loss surgery) and trolling for men. Meanwhile her grandchildren remain unwashed and unfed. Although the children's mother should be taking care of them, she's proven herself unfit for that. Sometimes the grandparents need to step in so that the child or children don't end up lost in the system. That's what my parents had to do with my oldest niece. By the age of 9 she had already led a very troublesome life. She had seen more than most people have seen in a lifetime. Unwed mothers are glamorized in society, which I feel is a mistake. If you choose to have a child out of wedlock, I don't have a problem with that. The thing I have a problem with is if you don't take care of that child. No child asks to be born, but many are subjected to unnecessary harm and hardship. If you're going to do this, make sure that you have the means to give your child a good life. Otherwise, stock up on that birth control because contrary to how it may seem, unwanted pregnancies can still be prevented.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Living with a Loss

A month ago my uncle died of a heart attack after botched eye surgery. He was 48 years old, with Down syndrome and congestive heart failure. Because he wasn't much older than me, he was almost like one of my brothers. Those of you who are familiar with Down syndrome know that many sufferers never develop a mental capacity beyond that of a pre-pubescent child. His case was very severe. He couldn't live on his own, and he couldn't hold down a job. His death is one that could've been prevented if the proper measures had been taken with regard to his surgery.

My point is not to place blame, but to contemplate this loss in my life. I saw him every day for the first 19 years of my life. After I went to college, I made a point to see him whenever I would visit. He was always happy to see me and would give me a big hug. Over the past few years his health started to deteriorate and I had planned to visit my family this summer so that I could see him again. Unfortunately, I never got that chance. That hurts because he was a very special person. He touched a lot of lives in big and small ways, and I know his memory will live on. The thing is, I think this loss will be tougher for me, than many others have been. His innocence was something rarely seen in adults. He was someone who truly loved unconditionally because that's all he knew how to do. He was able to hold on to the pure love that we all feel as children, that is eventually tainted by our life experiences. One thing we can all learn from him is to search for that pure love that once lived inside of us and let it break free. The people in our lives that we care about deserve that kind of love. Rest in peace, Uncle Danny. I love you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cat Allergy Update




In the past 2 days I've talked to 2 different people about my cat allergy. I figured since it's on their minds, it might be on other people's minds, too. For those of you who don't know, I developed a sinus infection at the end of January. The pain and pressure would not go away, despite the use of antibiotics and nasal sprays. After consulting with 2 ear, nose, and throat doctors I was referred to an allergist. After taking the allergy test, imagine my devastation when I found out that I was allergic to cats! I love my kitty babies, so there was no way that I'd ever give them up. I was put on allergy meds and more nasal spray and was told to do nasal irrigation with a neti pot. I'm also supposed to wash my hands after contact with the kitties and keep them out of the bedroom.




Well, I've been following the doctor's instructions for almost 2 months now and my sinuses aren't bothering me, for the most part. I've gotten a bit lax with regard to washing my hands after touching the cats and with using the neti pot, so I feel occasional pain, but I know that can be remedied by being more diligent. I think purchasing and air purifier will help, too. Because of the changes that I've made, I'm sure I can live with cats for the rest of my life, which is something that makes me hapy. Cats are great to have around and I'm glad I didn't have to give up mine!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Giving Love the World Over










Currently my boy Gavin is in Europe doing a few shows. His European fans waited a long time for him to come back and see them. When he's there, they try to go to as many shows as they can, because they're never sure when he'll be coming back. Earlier this week he did 2 shows in Amsterdam and a lot of the European fan club ladies took in those shows. Their excitement was palpable what with their tweets and updates on the fan club message board. For those who have never seen him live, Gavin DeGraw is a true joy to behold onstage. He gives his all to every single performance no matter what. He is also one of the most accessible artists out there with regard to his fans. As the ladies regaled us with tales of the show and meeting him, I felt like I was right there with them. Gavin and his music touch people more than I think he'll ever realize. Music is a great healer, and Gavin's music can definitely cure what ails you. Reading accounts of the shows in Amsterdam gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. The tears weren't tears of sadness, but ones of pure happiness. I feel that anyone who gets to have the "Gavin DeGraw Experience" is truly blessed. I was so happy that my fellow Gavinistas got to have such a wonderful time. It's very rare for a person and his music to touch so many different people so deeply. That's the power of the Gav! :-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dissatisfaction

Have you ever noticed how your dissatisfaction with one part of your life can bleed into other aspects of your life? Right now I'm reading a book called How to be Cool. It's about a woman who has always been overweight, which caused her to be somewhat of an outsider. After college she took it upon herself to lose 75lbs. and basically make herself over. She thought that this amazing transformation would suddenly make her life so much better. She has a high school reunion coming up and feels that her weight loss will somehow validate her in the eyes of her tormentors. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book, but I can already tell you that she's not going to get the validation she wants. Even after all of that weight loss, she's still extremely insecure and paranoid. I believe that weight wasn't the root cause of her problem. Her dissatisfaction with her lot in life was. Teenagers are very introspective, especially those that feel like they don't fit in. Although she's 29, she hasn't grown beyond the adolescent world and what it encompasses. There's not really a single aspect of her life that she's truly happy with (not even her weight), yet she expects other people to view her in this new light. Her job is to instruct people on being cool, but deep down she feels like the most uncool person in the world.

The point is that we all should strive for self-satisfaction. We should like who we are and not worry about what other people think. That's hard to do when you're bombarded from all sides with ideals and expectations you can't possibly live up to. That's when you have to step back and ask yourself what you want and how you can go about achieving it. Just wanting it and striving for it might not always get you what you want, but it never hurts to try. If you fail, that might be an indicator that you need to go in another direction.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Patiently Waiting for My New Stove

It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm hoping to start posting everyday or at least every weekday. Just before the Memorial Day holiday, my oven died. I'm sure there are a lot of 33-year old women out there that probably don't even know how to work an oven unless it's of the microwave variety, but my oven and I are pretty tight. I've been known to bake cakes and cookies, muffins and pies. I also like to broil my meat, instead of frying it. Don't even get me started on pizza!

Initially, we were told by the landlord that we'd have a new stove on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Tuesday came. No oven. No phone call. On Wednesday he called and said that the oven was on backorder and wouldn't be in until Friday. Yay. Another whole week without my oven. That really sucks!

Since the death of my oven, grocery shopping hasn't been much fun. As soon as I think of something I might like to have for dinner, the thought occurs to me that I'd need the oven in order to cook it. There's only so much you can do with a toaster oven, and the microwave is totally hopeless for some things.

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up on Monday, so I would like to be able to cook him a nice dinner and a cake. Here's hoping that I get the new stove on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fake Celebrity Twitter Accounts


There are a lot of Gavin DeGraw fans up in arms because of a recent blog post on his MySpace blog that refutes a Twitter account set up in his name. A month or 2 ago his web team let members know that Gavin didn't currently have a Twitter account. Once I found that out, I stopped following the imposter. That's all the proof I needed. Also, many Gavin DeGraw fans know that he's not particularly tech savvy so the odds that his Twitter account was real was pretty much slim to none. His brother, Joey, on the other hand, seems to always be up on the latest technological trends; therefore, I know his Twitter account is real. Now that there's been an "official" announcement, there are a lot of people that are pissed at this person who has been masquerading as Gavin. Hello! Didn't you read the posting from the web team? If you wanted to keep following the guy (I'm assuming it's a guy) after it's already been made clear that it's not the real Gavin DeGraw, then you really have no reason to be angry. Because this whole fake GDG Twitter account has become so rampant, his people are in the process of setting up a real account for him. My question is: If they are setting it up for him, are they the ones that are going to be answering the question "What are you doing?"?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Get your copy of FREE on iTunes!

If you haven't already, get over to iTunes and get your copy of Gavin DeGraw's FREE. It'll be the best 10 bucks or so that you've ever spent!


Get Free at iTunes Banner

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Only You Know When Something's Right for You

I have a friend that wants to lose weight and has been inspired by my success with Weight Watchers. She's done Weight Watchers before, so she knows it works. Although I've inspired her, I don't think it's enough to get her on the right track yet. In each of our lives there comes a time when we know that we must make a change. Sometimes it takes a while before we act on that knowledge, but we know what needs to be done. As I said before, I knew that I needed to lose weight, but my attempts at doing so were half-assed. We all have an epiphany or "Ah-ha" moment when we realize that the time is now. With weight-loss, it's usually what I refer to as the "pants size epiphany", where you realize that you have to go up another pants size and it's a size you never wanted to be. A lot of people talk about it in my Weight Watchers meetings. I had it when I was wearing a size 16 again for the second time in 33 years. It wasn't healthy and I didn't feel good physically or mentally. I have a history of depression and being overweight didn't help. Now that I'm a little over 30lbs. lighter, I feel much better health-wise and about myself. I keep wondering why it took me so long to get my butt in gear, but then I realize that I wasn't really ready yet. If you have a goal you want to achieve, whether it be weight-loss or continuing your education, when you're ready, you'll take the necessary steps to make it happen. Until then, try not to be too hard on yourself :-).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Taking Control of My Life

Although I've never been a huge person, my weight has gone up and down over the past 10 years or so. More recently, it was at a point where it was up. Add to that the fact that I have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes in my family; and I'd be the perfect candidate for a possible stroke or heart attack. I do have high blood pressure and have been taking meds for it for almost 3 years. According to my doctor, it's now controlled, but I knew that losing weight would be even more beneficial to my blood pressure. I also didn't really feel very good about myself because of my weight gain. I had been complaining for a while about the fact that I hated the excess weight and wanted to lose it, never taking any real action. Just some half-assed attempts at exercise without really changing my calorie intake. In January, I decided to join Weight Watchers. A friend of mine had been doing it since September and had good results. I'm happy to report that to date I've lost 31.4lbs! I'm back to the weight I was 3 and a half years ago when things were going pretty well in my life. I have more to lose, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review of Gavin DeGraw's FREE

On March 31st, Gavin DeGraw released his new album FREE, less than a year after the release of his self-titled album. Many fans felt that the album GAVIN DEGRAW didn't live up to CHARIOT and wasn't very true to the sound that we've come to know and love from Gavin. The same can't be said for FREE. His decision to forgo the bells and whistles of the previous album helps the listener to focus on his vocal talent and the content of his lyrics. Especially touching are the songs "Mountains to Move", "Stay" and "Lover be Strong". To me, they speak of the journey that is life. "Dancing Shoes", "Glass", and "Free" are 3 of the fan favorites that conjure up images of a live Gavin show, which is where he shines. His decision to cover Chris Whitley's "Indian Summer" was a great choice. It's a great tribute to Chris, and a perfect fit for Gavin's voice.

The best thing about this album is the fact that Gavin didn't record it for critical acclaim. He said that this is an album for his die-hard fans and speaking as one of them, I thank him from the bottom of my heart. If pure, unadorned music is what you want, then FREE is the album for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Get "Free" on iTunes!

Gavin DeGraw's new album "Free" is on iTunes. Get yours now!


FREE ON ITUNES

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Musician to be Proud Of

Today Gavin DeGraw's new album "Free" drops and I must say that it's quite remarkable. His intent was to record it as an indie record so he only spent about 2 weeks in the studio. It's always great to listen to him talk about the recording process and what he wants to achieve. As you may remember, he also spent some time in Uganda as a part of his work with Nothing but Nets. To hear him talk about his time there shows what a true humanitarian he really is. The man's got a good heart, and he makes me proud to be a fan.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tomorrow's the Big Day!!!!




Tomorrow my man Gavin DeGraw officially releases his new album "Free". I've already heard all of the songs on iLike and they are positively inspiring! The man has such a beautiful voice and this set of songs, along with the way they were recorded, showcases it. "Free" is music in its purest form. No bells and whistles. No catering to the corporate machine. It's just raw, real, and heartfelt. Those are the words that Gavin's diehard fans would use to describe him, so it's no wonder he chose to make such an album for us. Gavin, once again you've touched my heart in ways that no other living musician has in a very long time. You're a class act that really knows what music is about!













Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What are People Teaching Their Children?

There are so many people that believe that racism is a relic of the past, but if you live in the Deep South, you know better. My niece, who lives in Georgia, is in the 5th grade and has been called a "nigger" more times in this school year than I was called the whole time I was in elementary school. The election of Barack Obama was seen as a step forward, but we seem to be moving backward. My niece's class is doing a project and she was put in a group with 2 other girls. While riding the bus home, she asked 1 of the girls if she wanted to come over to her house to work on the project. The girl's response was "I don't want to come over to your house because you and your grandparents are nothing but black niggers." Now what kind of response is that to an invitation to come over and work on a school project?!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sterilization at Puberty

Taking away someone's ability to choose is usually very much of a bad thing, but sometimes I think there are special circumstances. When a person takes out their anger on their daughter by calling her retarded, I think that shows that he never should've had the child in the first place. She's had a rough life and he has no right to insult her. He deserves to be insulted by her since he's been shirking his duties as a father almost since the day the child was born. Don't even get me started on her mother. This is someone who put her own children in a household with a physically abusive man and then turned to drugs and alcohol. Luckily, her children don't love with her anymore, but she continues to try to do whatever she can to embarrass, insult and demean them. Now tell me, should people like this really be able to procreate? Had they each been sterilized at puberty, then there would be little girls who may have been born to more loving and responsible parents. Just something to think about.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lending a Helping Hand

I don't have a lot of money, but I do try to make charitable contributions whenever I can. Sometimes we all might wonder if our $10 or $25 is enough, but if every person out there gave $10 or $25, that would add up to a lot of money. Two of the charities that I like to contribute to are directly related to my love of Gavin DeGraw. He's a big supporter of Nothing but Nets and the Wounded Warrior Project. Like myself, Gavin's other fans have taken an interest in those charities. We've gone so far as to set up a website http://www.theleasticando.net/ to make donations to a designated charity in Gavin's name each year. The Wounded Warrior Project is this year's designated charity. In one of my earlier blogs I have information about Nothing but Nets. Another charity I like to contribute to is called I'm Tired of.... For a contribution of $10 you can get a bracelet that says I'm Tired of...Cancer, Animal Cruelty, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Child Abuse, Breast Cancer, World Hunger, AIDS, Global Warming, Autism, The Economy, or Heart Disease. The proceeds from the sale of each bracelet benefits the cause that you've chosen. Check them out at http://www.imtiredonline.com/. I'm sure that either you or someone you know is affected by one of the problems that I'm Tired of...represents. Hell, I know we're all tired of the economy. Please do your part to help make this world one that we can be proud of!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring


Today is the official first day of Spring. With it, Spring brings renewal and a new beginning. I hope that everyone sees the start of this new season as an opportunity to shake off the dust and start something new. I plan to pick up my guitar again so that I can continue learning to play. I also want to start doing yoga again because I love it and miss it. New beginnings are always fun because they give you something to look forward to. I challenge you to find something to look forward to. Happy Spring!




Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joys of Being an Admin

As I'm sure many of you know, being an administrative assistant is a thankless job. Most of the people that I work with are okay, but there's one woman that I refer to as the Queen of Unreasonable Requests. Any request that she makes needs to be done yesterday. I'm having lunch, but whatever she wants takes precedence over that. I do it for her so that it can be sent out via courier ASAP and she tells me that there's something else she needs to look at, so I don't get it back until 30 minutes later. That kind of thing is bad, but the worst is when there's a problem with the printer or the copy machine. Yesterday, she was printing something on the color printer that was legal size. Suddenly she comes to me and says there's a problem with it and asks if I can fix it and then bring her the printout. I go to the color printer and the display says to load legal paper in tray number 1. Yeah, that's a real problem! She doesn't have time to load the paper and wait for her stupid 4 page document, so she has me do it. I know that my job is to assist in an administrative capacity, but that's just ridiculous!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Power of Good Music


As a Gavin DeGraw fan I've met people from all over the world through his fan club. They are some of the nicest ladies I've ever encountered. Not only are we able to bond over the music, but over life experiences, in general. We are all different ages and come from many different backgrounds, but our interactions with each other are a testament to the fact that as human beings, we are all very much alike. We support each other. We share in each other's triumphs and sorrows. We do our best to help each other. Maybe if all of the world powers could find a common love of some type of music, this might be a more peaceful world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What are We Paying Them For?


The rock I'm banging my head against


I've been battling a sinus infection for almost 2 months now. I went to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor), he took a culture and saw nothing. Because of that, he tried to say that I don't have a sinus infection. Meanwhile, I'm still feeling sinus pain and pressure, accompanied by discolored mucus. After I let him know that, he ordered a CT scan. The scan showed that almost all of my sinuses are 80% blocked. My doctor consulted with a surgeon and the surgeon recommended an antibiotic and a nasal spray. He also said that I should follow up with him in 3 weeks. For almost a week now I've been trying to make that follow-up appointment, but the surgeon's office is dragging their heels. All of a sudden the surgeon wants to know why my doctor is referring me to him. Hello! You were the one who suggested the antibiotics and the nasal spray and said that I should follow up with you. WTF! I know doctors shouldn't be expected to remember every little thing that they do, but that's what patient charts are for. Read it and then you'll know what's going on. I finally got tired of the runaround and made an appointment with another otolaryngologist for a second opinion and hopefully, a bit more indvidualized attention.