Posted on 36 Comments

Forgiveness

A man holding up a sign that says forgiveness
Photo by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” — Lewis B Smedes

Today is my father’s birthday. Had he lived he would have been 74 years old. He died less than three months ago.

We did not have the best relationship. I saw him as an irresponsible parent even on his best days.

I will never know what burdens my father carried from his childhood, but today begins my process of forgiveness. Today I journey the road to forgiving the man who was my father!


A man walking hand in hand with a young child
Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

My aha moment while watching a podcast about Oprah’s relationship with her mother. Per her words, she saw her mother as a stranger who never took the time to know her and was really only interested in her once she began to make a name for herself.

She had a meeting with TD Jakes and he introduced the concept below.

Reverend TD Jakes’ words resonated very deeply within me and my “aha” moment was born. He posits that some of us are “ ten-gallon” people born into families of people with “pint-sized” capacities.

These “pint-sized” capable people could be giving us their “all” but we cannot appreciate it because we are “ten-gallon” people. As a “ten-gallon” person you give and expect to receive everything back on a “ten-gallon” level. That will never happen!

This for me was a profound moment…brought tears to my eyes and an instant understanding to my soul.

I get it now…forever wondering why I felt like a stranger in the family I had been born into. Forever feeling like I was always giving everything but getting minuscule returns on my emotional investments.

The “aha” moment!


A sign that says
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

He went on to say that we must realize that parents were broken when we got them …

We think with our young minds that our parents should fit perfectly in whatever mold we have placed them into. We never think of our parents as people apart and separate from ourselves.

We do not understand parents existed before us and for themselves. I came to really understand through his words that parents are simply people — people who may be earnestly giving us their “ALL” … though, unfortunately not measuring up.


I began to see my father as a real human person, separate in his own right from the children he fathered. I understand that he was broken when I got him and unfortunately for all concerned he stayed broken.

I wish had this epiphany before he died so that I could model this new awakening. I would thank him for being my father and for always making every effort to connect, though on some occasions I rejected him.

I understand now that that was all he knew, and no matter his failings he always tried to stay in contact with all his children.


An empty chair with colorful balloons-- denoting someone is absent.
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

So today, happy birthday to you my father.

I wish I knew better then.

Now I understand, you did all YOU knew to do and you gave ALL that was within your capacity to give.


If your parent is alive, make every effort to see them as a human soul flawed and broken.

Realize they gave you all that THEY knew how to give and take that first step towards acceptance and forgiveness.

Do not wait for it to be too late.

Say it while they still can hear you and bring some peace to that broken human God gave to parent you and later for you to parent.

Be blessed and enlightened as you ponder the quote below…

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope, that the past could be any different” — Oprah Winfrey

Posted on 9 Comments

Changes

Woke up this morning to some frost in the yard.

In the picture below, the okra plants continue a valiant fight for life. Against all the odds they are still blooming.

I always feel a twinge of sadness when they die and I have to wait for the re-birth next year.

Each day they bloom even though most of their leaves have fallen off.

My babies.

The Great Outdoors

A few days ago during lunch break, we went for a ride/walk, saw these along the way. Things I saw-

Brave people going places.

There were trees and animals here last month … I guess humans need more space.

I loved that streak in the sky left behind by a plane. (Check out the deforestation above).

and here

here again

Finally — beauty presented in color!

Mr bird … living his best life … freedom to just be.

The sun is out and it is currently 51 degrees. I may take a walk later with my snookums during lunch break.

Posted on 14 Comments

Gout: Manage Your Symptoms

Kidney Disease (4)0

I have two dear friends who suffer from gout. I have seen their pain.  Sometimes it occurs as a result of eating foods that trigger the inflammatory process. Often flare-ups seem to occur for no particular reason. One thing is certain — their suffering is real!

What is Gout

Gout is loosely considered another type of arthritis. It is an inflammatory disease that mainly affects the joints. The initial complaint seems to be the pain of an unknown origin usually in the great toe. As the disease progresses it affects other joints and seems to increase in severity.

Persons who suffer from gout have a build-up of uric acid in their blood. Uric acid is produced when certain foods are metabolized by the body. It happens in people with too much uric acid accumulated in the blood. Uric acid is a chemical that is produced when the body breaks down certain foods.

The uric acid crystals usually remain between the joints where they form sharp needle-like crystals. These crystals are the cause of much pain. Uric acid crystals can also form on the inside of your ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). These crystals can sometimes evolve into kidney stones and may remain in the ureters, blocking them and stopping the flow of urine. 

Patients have described the pain of kidney stones as similar to “giving birth”. I have seen both men and women double over in agony from the pain of kidney stones as well as gout.

What are the symptoms of gout? 

People complain of sudden “flares” or attacks of severe pain, most often in the area of the big toe, ankle, or knee. Sometimes the joint becomes red and swollen. Only one joint is generally affected at any given time,  though some people can present with pain in multiple joints simultaneously.

Gout flares tend to happen more often during the night.

The pain from gout can be extreme. The pain and swelling are worst at the beginning of a gout flare. The symptoms then get better within a few days to weeks. It is not clear how the body “turns off” a gout flare.

A woman sitting with her hand on her right knee as if in pain
Photo by Anna Auza on Unsplash

Is there a test for gout?

Yes. To be tested for gout, your doctor or nurse will take a sample of fluid from the affected joint. If he or she finds typical gout crystals in the fluid, then you are diagnosed with gout. A simple blood test can also confirm the presence of gout.

The doctor may suspect gout:

● If you have had pain and swelling in one joint, especially the joint at the base of the big toe

●If your symptoms completely go away between flares, at least when you first start having them

●If your blood tests show high levels of uric acid

How is gout treated?

There are a few medicines that can reduce the pain and swelling caused by gout. When you find one that works for you, make sure to keep it on hand at all times. That way you can take it as soon as you feel a flare-up coming on. The medicines work best if you take them as soon as symptoms start.

A woman lying curled up in a fetal position suggesting she is in pain
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Medicines used for Gout

NSAIDs Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs — This group of medicines are anti-inflammatory medicines but do not contain steroids.  Examples are ibuprofen aka Advil, Motrin, and indomethacin aka  Indocin. NSAIDs may not be safe for those with kidney or liver disease or have bleeding problems.

Colchicine – This medicine helps with gout but it can also cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Steroids –Steroids are by nature anti-inflammatory but long-term use can have unpleasant side effects, like weight gain, increasing blood glucose, etc. They reduce swelling and pain and may be taken as pills or injectables.

Medications for gout management

Yes, there are medicines that can reduce the chances of having future gout flares. Most people who have repeated or severe flares of gout need to take these medicines. In general, they all work by reducing the amount of uric acid in the blood. Examples of these medicines include allopurinol aka Aloprim, Zyloprim, febuxostat or Uloric, and probenecid.

Those with severe gout may also be prescribed a medicine called pegloticase, which is administered intravenously. If you are currently taking one of the medicines due to gout, your doctor will need to check that your uric acid levels are low enough to dissolve the gout crystals.

A word of caution!

Allopurinol, febuxostat, and probenecid can actually increase gout flares when you initially begin taking them. To prevent this, your healthcare provider may suggest that you take low doses of colchicine when you initiate these medicines. This will give the gout crystals time to dissolve and should help to stop the new flare-ups over time.

You may prevent gout flares by:

  1. Losing weight.
  2. Be mindful of foods that contain uric acid.
  3. Avoid alcohol and sugars.
  4. Keep hydrated.

I cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated, Being properly hydrated will keep a steady stream of urine production while preventing new crystals from forming.

A dinner plate with medium rare steak and vegetables
Photo by David Metzer on Unsplash

Avoid high purine foods such as:

  • Red meats, hamburgers, beef.
  • Organ meats, eg: liver, kidneys, tripe.
  • Wild meat, eg; rabbit, venison.
  • Bacon, anchovies, sardines.
  • Seafood and shellfish.
  • Alcohol including wine.
  • Beans and peas.
  • Few vegetables, eg: spinach, asparagus, mushrooms.

Avoid foods high in sugar such as sweet drinks and juices, foods with added fructose or corn syrup. Also foods such as sodas, enriched fruit drinks, cereals, ice creams, and candy.

Left unchecked Gout could lead to:

  • Kidney stones and other kidney problems
  • Long-lasting joint problem
  • Ongoing very bad pain

What steps you can take.

  • Keep a healthy weight. Lose weight slowly. Rapid weight loss may actually initiate an attack.
  • Avoid beer, wine, and mixed drinks (alcohol).
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking drugs for heart and kidney problems. Tell your doctor about all the drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements, and any over-the-counter drugs you are taking.
  • If you need to stop taking your prescribed medications, speak to your medical provider first.
A group of persons in an exercise class
Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash

Tips to manage your disease

Some of the factors that influence an increase of uric acid levels in your body may include:

  • Diet. If you consume a diet rich in meats, seafood, alcohol, high fructose beverages you are at an increased risk for high uric acid. 
  • Obesity. With an increased body mass index (BMI), your kidneys are working harder and your body produces an increased amount of uric acid. So losing weight will help lower the risk factor.
  • Medical conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases influence the production and elimination of uric crystals.
  • Certain medications. Thiazide diuretics used for high blood pressure, a low-dose aspirin may also increase your uric acid levels. 
  • Your genetics. If your immediate family members have suffered from gout, you’re at an increased risk for the disease. 
  • Age and sex. Males are more susceptible to gout. Women generally produce lower levels of uric acid until after menopause, then their levels compare to those of males. primarily because women tend to have lower uric acid levels. 
  • Recent trauma. Experiencing recent surgery or trauma has been associated with an increased risk of developing a gout attack.
A couple having fun on the beach
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Managing your disease at home

There are some simple and effective home remedies for a gout flare-up. Along with your prescribed medications, you may try:

  • Resting the affected joint
  • Elevating the limb to allow for venous return thereby reducing swelling and pain.
  • Use an ice pack to reduce swelling, (never use ice on one area for greater than 20 mins any one time).
  • Try consuming vitamin C products, e.g., cherry juice

Cherry juice is high in vitamin C, which aids the excretion of uric acid in the urine, but the effect is mild compared to some of the available medicines for gout attacks. Cherry juice may also increase the risk of kidney stones, so do not use this if you are predisposed to stones.

A woman with red cherries in her hand
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

Conclusion:

Gout is an inflammatory arthritic disease. It is chronic in nature and requires stringent management to be at your optimum. There are several proven ways you can manage your disease. Follow the advice of your medical provider and make every effort to lose weight and avoid “gout-triggering” foods. 

While some home remedies help to relieve gout pain. Do not rely solely on this if you are not experiencing relief as the longer you wait the longer it will take for your symptoms to get better. If you record no significant improvement within 24 hours of using your home remedies, consult with your doctor.

As much as possible, try to consume a healthy diet, exercise, stay hydrated by utilizing water, and reducing the consumption of mild diuretics such as sodas, teas, and coffee. A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. 

Know what purine-rich foods are and how to avoid them. Remember in everything moderation is key. 

Be safe and be well!

Posted on 38 Comments

Food Good for the Soul!

Tried my hand at some BBQ

The other day I was off and decided to cook! I am not a person that loves to cook, but I decided to tackle that bull by the horns. Since my Gee has been “traveling for COVID” I have had to do more cooking. On any given day when he is off work, he would call me to ask what I wanted to eat.

Now I have to fend for myself and the kids. While the children would not choose me as the main chef of the house, now they are left with little choice but to eat my cooking, lol.

My mother cooks as well, but it does not always suit the unique and developed palate of my 16-year-old. So she makes a lot of her own food (sandwiches) and does a pretty good job. With time I can see she will be a fine cook, better than her mom.

Back when I was her age, when other children were learning the art of homemaking, I perhaps spent way too much time with my nose in a book. I have never enjoyed the typical “woman’s work” so I hid behind a book.

I felt the need for some ribs, so I BBQ some beef ribs. They came out pretty handsome looking and quite tasty. I sent them to Gee – just to show off my skills.

I made my glaze with some BBQ sauce, some ketchup, and honey, it was amazing!

He was impressed!

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The below image is my basmati rice with brown beans and okra from my garden with olives, shrimps, and some older tomatoes I needed to use.

 

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All in all, I think I did ok and it was enjoyable!

As Andrew Zimmerman (Food Network chef) would say – if it looks good, eat it!

Be safe, be well, be blessed!

 

Posted on 11 Comments

The Space in Which we Find Ourselves

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Today it is raining, cold and windy. The whistling of the winds reminds me so much of the book/movie Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The story is based on a wild, passionate story of the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a lad adopted by Catherine’s father.

The English moors were dark, cold, and sinister. An interesting read if you get the chance.

It has gotten darker in my part of the universe in recent weeks. The world is so much quieter this year. Covid-19 has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the plans of mice and men.

So many of us have personally lost so much. And collectively the world has lost its innocence and its sense of invincibility.

We have never experienced a time such as this and many of us do not know what to do. Many refuse to adhere to the recommendations to help save lives and continue to go about living life unawares.

At a time we should be showing more love, discord seems to be the dominant force.

We must continue to pray for peace.

Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash

Spring and summer have given rise to fall as we continue to grapple with our new normal.

The children have had a harsh year being locked mostly inside unable to attend school and freely play with friends.

They have lost so much precious time and we continuously pray that our love, their youth, and adaptability will empower them with resilience to make it through.

Photo by Jon Lever on Unsplash

Mental health is at an all-time high. Those who were struggling before are now in dire straits. While new diagnoses are made every day.

The elderly and the homebound have witnessed a time like no other. Imagine only being able to see your family through a window. Heartbreaking!

The loss of human interaction, closeness, touch, and camaraderie will give rise to many current and future problems.

The way we see life and our planet is forever altered. Our world has shifted on its axis and many souls have transitioned.

As fall and winter settle in many will feel isolated in a deeper way. 

Photo by Alexandre Grégoire on Unsplash

This morning I arose early and usually, I cannot wait to leave the warm confines of my bed for my online platforms. But today I remain in place. Snuggled in the warmth of my blanket listening to the sounds of my sleeping child.

Soon he will awaken for his online school in these abnormal times. No walking to school with friends. No noisy peals of laughter parts the chill air.

Just the noise of silence.

Even the animals seem quieter this year. Not too many dogs barking. The animals sense a shift, something not quite right this year.

I remember to thank God for my life and many blessings.

Be safe, be well!

God bless us all!

Posted on 20 Comments

A Good Friend

Two women laughing and covering each other's eyes.
Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

What does it mean to be a friend?

The dictionary defines friendship as — a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

I have never felt the need to cultivate many friends, just a select few. These ‘special’ ones, good friends, are the ones that stand the test of time. Most of my friends have been so for the better part of 20 or 30 years.

My best girl and I have been friends since kindergarten. We are now women of a certain age, so that’s been a looong friendship.

We each live our separate lives and come together whenever we need to without ever losing a beat.

She is perhaps the only person alive I feel I can tell “anything to and the message is received in the spirit it was intended. We really do understand each other. We never quarreled even during our teenage years!

We have a cool easy friendship that has stood the test of time.

I am a keeper of friends. I love people, loyal genuine folks. The type of friendships that thrives without being too demanding.

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

What is the basis of a good friendship?

  1. Trust — the foundation upon which ALL relationships must be built. Otherwise, they will never stand the test of time.
  2. A kindred soul, one that is respectful, kind, generous, empathetic. Good friendship does not require that you share the same viewpoints on everything, but each must be willing to respect others’ points of view and work through any conflict towards a resolution.
  3. A keeper of secrets and a safe harbor to rest. Everyone needs a confidante. A friend you can trust with your secret is a boon.
  4. Honesty— this is non-negotiable! Without honesty, no relationship can grow or prosper. Lies, deceit, and betrayal will swiftly cause the demise of any budding friendship.
  5. A cheerleader — He/she encourages your dreams and aspirations and does all they can to help you achieve them.
  6. Maintain individuality— each person must own and maintain their separate spaces in which to pursue their own interests. Later they come together with fresh perspectives, hopes, dreams, and even failures.
  7. Generous with time — As with any relationship, great friendships must be nurtured. This requires carving out time for mutual interests and bonding.
  8. Provides a voice of reason, camaraderie, and belonging. Empower your friend with the freedom and to tell you when and if they think you are heading down a wrong path. Be willing to listen, hear them, and take time to see their point of view.

Photo by Liz Weddon on Unsplash

Final thoughts

If friendships are to survive, some ground rules must be set. A few of the necessary qualities are honesty, trust, compassion, and love.

A good friend is any person with whom you can let your hair down, so to speak. In their presence you feel safe, loved, welcomed, and most importantly you are free to be yourself. A great friend is one with whom there is no need for pretense.

If you should find such a friend, make time to nurture and cement that bond.

Finally, be as good a friend to them as you hope they will be for you.

Be safe, be well!!

Posted on 19 Comments

I Miss My WordPress Family!

two dogs, one black, one while sharing a chew toy
https://gph.is/g/ZWrvNAd

Hello my WP family. 

I have been  MIA here lately. I have gotten sooo busy.

My job

A healthcare worked extracting blood for lab tests
Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

 

It is the 4th quarter at work, our busiest time of the year. With the pandemic and beginning flu season, we have so much more to do than last year. More safety protocols to follow. More extra work.

My home

A young boy sitting in front a computer
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

Then when I am off from work, I have homeschooling that requires all-day commitments with young Snookums (8 years old). So during the times, he would be at school which would give me some free time to do my things, he is home ALL the time. So I never have a day off anymore really.

My 16-year-old is mostly self-sufficient and seldom requires a trip to school or to the store.

My 23-yr-old had a COVID scare at college, thank God it turned out to be negative!

My life goes like this:

  1. I work mostly Fri, Sat, and Sundays so that I can be there for online schooling. The online classroom requires that I/we constantly re-direct the wandering mind of a kid that thinks incessantly about building robots.
  2. The “kinks” pose some issues. Sometimes the screen goes dark. Or we log off because we cannot hear the teacher and she forgets to let us back in the zoom meeting. Then I have to call the school and ask the staff.
  3. So now I have the enviable titles of a full-time assistant teacher.

My days appear long and fleeting. I go out to work then I return to work at home. No rest in between…not complaining, I know many others have it worse than I.

I thank God I am well and all is well with us. I pray for everyone and we stand together in creating a path out of this nightmare that is 2020.

Do forgive me for not interacting as I normally would. 

Praying hands
http://gph.is/1dU4jBx

Be safe and be well!

Posted on 6 Comments

Thru Life’s Storms — A Lesson

 

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A friend sent this to me and it ministered to me. I pray that someone out there will get the encouragement they may need to keep driving through the storm and not to pull over by the roadside.

Times are tough right now, we have never faced such uncertainties in life as we do currently. Everywhere people seem to be dealing with so much turmoil. Thankfully we know we can turn to Jesus because He never changes.

Second Corinthians 12:9

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I pray for the peace that passeth all understanding to flood our hearts and minds that we may know that God is always in charge, even as we pass through the storms of life!

Be blessed, be well!

 

 

Posted on 11 Comments

The Shoulders Upon Which We Stand

Video copied from Facebook

I found this profound, this phenomenal woman. 

Stated here and more eloquently than I ever could, are some of the reasons why we have to pay it forward.

I hope your take away is similar to mine.

Be blessed and be well!