Monday, March 27, 2017

On Hiatus

If you couldn't tell by the lack of postings, I am too busy of late for keeping up with the blog. I barely even check in on any of my social media pages lately. There is a reason, though. It's...

                                                   Image result for new beginning

Here's the deal: I am moving. (Yes, again, but this time for keeps!).

Last time I tried making a break with Alaska, I had a perfect storm of health issues (my own, a friend's and my sisters) to rain all over my intent. This time, I have nothing holding me to this place. I'm ready. More than ready. At this point, a move is almost necessary for me to proceed with anything else in my life.

I had to do a lot of praying to get to this point. I've been through a lot of struggles and stressful life changes that I never imagined I'd have to deal with. There's been death and divorce and a lot of other causes for sadness. About a year ago, I was talking with someone about how rough the past 10 years have been for both of us (and she has had it way harder than I have!). This image reminds me of what she told me at the end of our conversation:

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Good advice for the battered soul
So, I am hitting the Reset button on my life. Of course, that is a major event. Moving is a major, time-sucking process.

For now, my book (that neglected project) is on hold. My other book is on hold. My plans to start video blogging... all on hold. Just until I get moved and settled into my new surrounding.

I almost don't even want to mention the moving process. Ugh! Moving is right up there on the stress scale with death and divorce and going to jail. Not that I know anything about the latter!

I started thinking about moving right after my sister passed away but didn't want to make a hasty decision. As soon as the first anniversary of her death came and went, I knew it was time to start making a life and a home for myself.  It only took me another year to make the decision final in my head. Most of that time was spent preparing myself to be more than a car ride away from this little piece of my heart:

I love him so
It's going to be tough not seeing him every day, not snuggling with him to watch his Iron Man videos or have interesting little conversations or pretend that we are communicating via radio. This is the kid that got my heart and soul safely through the last couple of years. Thank goodness we'll be able to use video messaging and phone calls to stay in touch. Also, he usually does an annual stateside visit where I can get over to see him. I think he'd much rather have a happier aunt that he sees once in a while than one who is slowly suffocating in sadness and inertia. And the kid is so smart that, this time next year, he'll probably be able to spell both those words!

The thing about moving is, it's very tiring.   VERY tiring   😫😫😫😫😫😫😫
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Because of my medical issues, I had to give myself plenty of time to work with my current doctors in setting up a new care team. That went easier than I expected. The most tedious part of this move is that I am not looking back so I have to get rid of almost everything before I go. Not that I have a ton of stuff, but I have enough.

A friend of mine is helping me to get rid of a bunch of stuff. She is doing donation and consignment runs for me each week. I can't believe that, as broke as I am, I have collected eight - EIGHT - garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and purses already. Don't ask me why someone with no money needs that many purses!

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Lesson learned!!!
Let me tell you something serious: I am NEVER going to accumulate so much stuff ever again. Ever. There is no reason for me to have a couple closets filled with clothing when I basically wear four pairs of jeans, maybe ten tops, three pairs of footwear, and a couple of coats. I can spend $6.00 and do all my laundry in about two loads - and that's allowing for separating lights from darks.

I was telling my best friend that the other day and she just laughed at me, but I am for real. My new attitude is going to be not to buy, accept, or even look at anything unless I have a plan for using it. I mean it. I don't even want to collect groceries that I don't have a meal plan for. I am so disgusted with myself now for having so much stuff that I haven't used in years when there are people going without things they actually need. Besides, think of the wasted money. Ugh!

The other thing that is giving me heartburn is just arranging the few things I am shipping ahead. There's not much I plan to keep, but memories are always hard to pack. I gave up on the idea of taking my car. Believe it or not, I feel attached to Ol' Bessie Lou... And my lovely trailer. That's going up for sale also. That was another hard thing to think about getting rid of.

I'm glad that I am giving myself so much time. I made the decision around the beginning of February and waited a couple of weeks to see if I had any trepidation. When I realized that this is a necessary life change, I decided on July as my be-somewhere-else date. Then my docs here did such a good job with referral appointment, I had to move that date up a bit.

So far, I'm doing okay with getting things in order, but the fatigue is really weighing me down. Almost anyone dealing with a chronic disease can tell you that fatigue is a constant shadow. I'm trying to keep my stress levels low so that I don't aggravate my condition, but... moving. Ugh. I'll be so glad when I can sit down (okay, I probably won't have chairs for a while) and know that I don't have to worry about all the little details I'm dealing with right now.

Do you get any sense of the anxiety, excitement, hope, and the sheer shivers I'm feeling?                                
Anyway, I had to post something to explain this little hiatus I'll be taking. My blog numbers are so low right now, it might take another year to build them back up!

When I get back to this blog, I hope to see you guys still dropping by and supporting the effort. In the meantime, I'll be welcoming all prayers and positive vibes to get me through the rest of this summer.


P.S.: If this post is rambling, my apologies. Fatigue.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

**REVIEW** MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Methylsulfonylmethane.Try saying that just one time without spitting. Or you can just call it MSM.

It was a podcast that even led me to learn about this type of product. I was listening to The History Chicks discuss Madam C.J, Walker. Apparently, one of the ingredients Madam included in a product was precipitated sulfur. I remembered that my mother talked about how when she was a young girl, her own mother used sulfur for various things. Then I thought about the Sulfur8 hair products that are around today.

When I went looking for uses for sulfur, I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole. This is some of the information I found:

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  1. Of course, I started with WebMD because, you know... The first thing I saw is what really hooked me in: People take sulfur by mouth for shortness of breath, allergies, swelling in the back of the throat (pharyngitis), high cholesterol, clogged arteries, menopause, and upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. Well now. As someone with a chronic disease that affects my lungs, among other things, I had to know more. That I didn't see anything about interactions really brightened my attitude! (BTW: Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before trying ANYTHING, even supplements that may seem harmless.)
  2. This helped explain the different forms and uses of sulfur. Still, I wanted to get even more specific.
  3. I'm sure a lot of folks would want to know if and how sulfur could promote hair growth. Since I take a medication that damages my hair, I wanted to know about this. Livestrong has an article on MSM and hair growth. It seems that more and larger trial studies are needed to support hair growth claims. (Also, please notice that sulfur comes in various forms. I have the crystals - or 'flakes' - but I've seen powders.)
  4. Black Hair Information led me to another form (or type, I guess) of sulfur that can be used topically for the hair and skin. There is a recipe for making an oil to use. I didn't even see the 'sublimed sulfur' when I found the crystals I have. I also saw information on some powders that strongly suggest checking amounts to use directly on skin and hair. So... go forth with caution!
Like I just mentioned in the last note, there are plenty of warnings to be careful of using sulfur direcly on the skin and hair. This was bothersome to learn because I really want to try treating my eczema with sulfur. For now, I am taking my crystals internally so that's all I can discuss from personal experience.

This is what the MSM that I am using looks like:

Like thick salt crystals...

The Kala brand came with a double-sided scoop - one side in a teaspoon measurement and the other in a tablespoon. Personally, I decided not to even attempt doing a full dose of either. I have been using about a quarter teaspoon twice a day.

The first time I took a tiny dose, I was pretty wowed. For one thing, I was super happy that the juice I mixed the MSM in totally masked any bitter or foul taste. (I haven't tasted the crystals solo, but I understand they can be horribly bitter.) The big surprise was that I could feel some physical effect just minutes after taking the MSM. It's hard to describe what I felt but, basically, there was a slight buzzy feeling of energy. Keep in mind that I only took about a fourth of a teaspoon because I wanted to be sure that my body would tolerate MSM.

As far as my eczema (which is on my feet), I haven't seen any results yet, but it is still only a couple of days into my MSM use.

Finally, I just want to share a thought I had the other day when I was considering energy supplements: A lot of us mistake 'energy' for 'motivation'. We'll say that we are tired when we might just be depressed or in a rut. I actually do suffer from fatigue, but I also have mild depression. I'm trying to be really careful to distinguish between the two. All the energy pills in the world are not going to get me up and functioning if I'm suffering from the blues. Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there. I'm no doctor, of course, but if anyone is feeling prolonged symptoms of fatigue, they should probably see their doctor. Don't let things go undiagnosed or treated.

I will be back to update on my results with the MSM. In the meantime, keep smiling. Oh, and I'm including a video of a really nice song I heard while watching the show "Goliath". This is a real soul-soother. I'm going to have to buy a copy of this one!


Friday, March 10, 2017

TV and Podcast Bing-a-thon

(I haven't posted for a while. Fighting fatigue and I have a whole lot going on with my life right now. This is, I guess, a "filler" post. Just so y'all don't think I've forgotten about you. Pretty soon here, I'll be back to post a couple of product reviews - for some MSM supplements and a re-hash of a hair product I tried once before. Meantime, here's a little something random.)

Whenever the subject of TV comes up, I automatically admit that I'm don't watch much. That's kind of a lie. I don't watch TV on a regular basis the way a lot of people do. I know some people who can set their schedule by what's on TV. For me, television shows (via my computer) are an alternative to sleeping pills. I will pick a show and set the timer on my PC. Some nights I might make it through more than one episode of a series. Lately, I've been suffering insomnia so I've been getting in about 3 episodes a night.

"The Wire" is a show I just finished binge-watching. I'd never seen it before. What a great series! The storylines and cast were superb. (I still don't think Idris Elba is all that sexy. He is, but he isn't. I am impressed that he pulled off a regional American accent as well as he did.)

bingeing on the tube

I gave "Hannibal" a full episode and still can't get into it. Next, I tried watching "Oz", but... that one I'll have to get back to. Also tried "24" and got bored after about ten minutes. I'm not sure why that was such a hit. Maybe I just need to give it more time? I did find a quirky show called "Fleabag". It's British and I do like the lead character, but sexual activity is such a centerpiece that I'm having trouble just connecting with the cast. Another show that isn't clicking for me right off is "Sex and the City". Or is it "Sex in the City"?

Now, that's some Mandela Effect stuff right there!

I'm glad I made it far enough to see that part. I've heard all the Mandel Effect talk about the title of that show. How interesting, huh?

One series I expected to hate was "Enlightened" with Laura Dern. I ended up only hating when the series ended. It was a very different kind of show and I haven't found anything else like it. That's the way I feel about "Grimm". I love the series for it creativity with other beings and worlds. Lately, though, it's getting hokey.

So, when I say that I don't watch "much" TV, I guess I am lying quite a bit. Still, I don't own a TV set. I gave mine away a few years ago to a friend. Recently, to cut back on spending, I gave up my Netflix account. If I can't find something via YouTube or Amazon, I'm out.

I also have given up my Audible membership for a while. In its place, I'm using Overdrive to listen to books from my local library and I'm heavy into podcasts.

Podcasts are a favorite thing with me. It's easy to listen while I'm doing chores or sitting through treatments. I listen to a couple of podcasts for pure guilty pleasure, but there are others that I find to be educational and highly informative:

  • The History Chicks is done with such an easy conversational banter that you almost forget you are being informed. Recently, I binged on their episodes covering black women of history. Now I am listening to their episodes on the Victorian age.
  • The Rachel Maddow Show is a must for me. I love the way she manages to put current news into a story-telling format. I also like that she backs up her news with facts listeners can check for themselves.
  • I listen to Real Time with Bill Maher mostly because he's the only foul-mouthed athiest who can make me laugh as hard as he does.
  • Strangers is wonderful for the true stories as well as for the host. Lea Thau comes across as someone you'd really want to hang out and have deep conversations with. She allows guests to tell their own stories and, truly, every listener can find a story to relate to.
  • This Is Actually Happening is a bit like Strangers but I find it a bit more haunting. The stories are not really about people I can relate to but more about people I'd like to understand better.
  • Remarkable Lives Tragic Deaths is about just that. I've listened to episodes covering MLK, Kennedy, Cobain, Hendrix, Holly, Trotsky, and Blackbeard. Interesting stuff.
  • Uncovering Unsolved Mysteries (UUM) is just plain fun. This is two young dudes discussing episodes from the old "Unsolved Mysteries" show. This isn't for everyone, but I loved the old TV show and I like the way the UUM hosts banter.

I was so excited when I found the Slate Magazine sponsored podcast, History of American Slavery. I'm downloading episodes tonight!

The only thing I need is to find the absolute perfect podcast app. I think I've gotten close with Podcast Addict. It's easy to use and very functional.

I didn't link to the podcasts because I figure you'll want to download to your phone. That's what I do, Also, you can easily find the podcasts now that you have their titles. If any of you can recommend some other shows or podcasts, please do.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Laughing in Heaven

My sister passed away on this day in 2015. I still miss her, but I have finally stopped mourning her. A few months back, I made up my mind to celebrate her memory. Here are some things I can't help but smile about when I think of her.
Once, my sister and I went out with some of our friends. It was a girls' night situation so all of us were wearing our best hair, clothes, and nails. There has never been much of a nightlife here in Anchorage but, back then (around 1999), 'going out' meant patronizing any of the nice hotels that had a dance floor. On this one night, we started at a smaller hotel. After some appetizers and a few drinks, we heard that things were really jumping at one of the larger hotels. Off we went. Downtown parking is bad during club hours so we ended up having to walk about three blocks. In dresses and heels. And with a few drinks in our systems. Just as we were about to walk into the hotel lobby, I see that one of my friends needs to adjust her skirt because it's riding down her hips. Just as I notice this, one of the other friends steps on the hem of the first friend's skirt. First Friend is oblivious to this and keeps walking until she has stepped right out of her skirt. Thank goodness, she had a slip on underneath. She didn't even blush. She just stepped back into the skirt and wrangled it back up her hips.

There was another time when I was out at a bar with my sister and one of her friends. When my sister was younger, she drank Johnny Walker - Black or Red, I can't remember. Unlike me, my sister could hold her liquor. I'm sloppy after about three mixed drinks. Anyway, there were a lot of G.I.s at the bar. For some reason, one of them bet my sister that he could drink her under the table. After 22 shots of liquor, that dude was almost unconscious. My sister might have been wasted, but she managed to stand up and strut (in three-inch heels) to the bathroom without weaving.

One of my favorite things to do with my sister was people watch. We could be anywhere - store, church, hospital - and she would have me cracking up with her observations. Of course, not only was she better at holding her liquor than I was, but she could also keep a straight face while I'd be dying of laughter about something. She'd say something hilarious about someone ("Does that chick know her wig is on crooked?") and then tell me I was going to be on my own if I got my butt kicked for laughing.

More than anything, I remember that my sister had the ability to make everyone feel loved. She was a peacemaker, a "bring-er together-er" kind of person. People confided in her without worrying that she'd betray them. You could cry on her shoulder and she wouldn't make you feel like a lesser person for doing so. Because she didn't connive, bully, manipulate, or 'stir the pot', people trusted her.  Because she spoke so softly, people listened. Because she was so strong, people didn't always see her pain.

When I think about Mike these days, I imagine her in Heaven. I think of her with a new body and a new joy. I miss her. Not just today, but every day. Rest in peace, sis.