Parenting

“You are pregnant.”

Those three words send a wave of overwhelming emotions (from sheer terror to exhilaration, along with every emotion in between) that can knock you over, whether you were hoping to hear them or they were a total surprise. If you carry the baby to term, things just get worse. That is when the actual worry begins (and never ends).

If you had wonderful parents, you worry you will not be as good as they were. If you did not, you worry you will not give your child (children) better parents. For new parents, no matter how much you read or babysit, nothing compares to the realities of having a newborn baby. This is when the continual worry about doing things correctly begins.

Then, that worry turns into reality as the days, weeks, months, and years pass and it’s difficult to know whether you did a good job or scarred your children for life. Now that my children are technically adults (my youngest is in their first year of adulthood), it looks like I did the latter and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.

You know it’s bad when your oldest friend defends you to your child by saying, “She’s doing the best she can.” You see, she is a good mother and the kind of mother my children wanted. How do I define “good mother”? A “good mother” is one who puts their children above everything else (including themselves and their spouses). I was not (and never will be) a good mother. I was a “suck it up” mother (I describe myself as more of a distant father). One child just told me, “I understand what neglected means.” I thought loving them and making sure they didn’t kill themselves (or anyone else) counted for something. It was actually counted as a bad thing that the “only time” we spent any time together was while we played video games (I learned so we could do something together they liked).

I have jokingly said I should have had dogs instead of children and, during especially emotionally trying times, I see more truth in that joke:

  • dogs do not scream they hate you when you tell them no (or correct them), then refuse to speak to you for years;
  • dogs do not question whether they were ever wanted when you are trying to teach them a hard lesson;
  • typically, no law enforcement is ever involved with a dog;
  • dogs forgive your mistakes;
  • dogs care whether YOU are happy or not;
  • you always know what makes your dog happy.

I had always seen it as my role to prepare my children for life away from me. I wanted them to understand that life can be wonderful or it could suck horribly but how you dealt with it would determine if you were happy or not. Today, it feels like I have failed miserably. I do not know if it will get any better once my children are in steady relationships with (possibly) children of their own or not. All I know is I am tired (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).

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Equifax Data Breach Info

Great piece (30 minutes) about the breach and what to do:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/affected-equifax-hack-heres-now/

And you basically go here, click “Potential Impact,” follow the steps, sign up for their credit monitoring (only a year), then wait for the Class Action Lawsuit to commence. I want credit monitoring for life!

I like this lawyer’s take on what should be awarded:

Equifax can’t sustain trial over data breach, lead lawyer says

And here’s his website, just in case his lawsuit is granted class action status:

https://lanierlawfirm.com/

Merging Pains, Twitter, and Autoresponders

When I decided to merge two (of my three) identities into one, I thought I knew what a chore it would be. I was wrong: it’s much worse. Well, not quite. It’s not like the “old days” when I had to cut and paste code or go through each individual page to change a name or attribute. The issue is, I forgot the other WordPress blog had different pages, links, menus, etc. At least this was a much easier transition than when I first arrived on the WordPress scene and transferred all of my Blogspot posts here … that was a nightmare. SO, if there is anything here that is broken, please let me know.

As for YouTube, that WAS a lot of cut and paste. I finally decided that if I forgot to transfer it, I don’t care.

But Twitter was awful! I love the way WordPress and YouTube deal with multiple pages (blogs or channels). You can just switch between them (if you are unlike me, and actually remember to switch). Twitter, if you are old and still using a computer, does not allow that. You have to log off, then log back in to the different account. I use a different password and login for just about everything I do and it would have taken much too long for me to figure out which was which. So, this is what I did.

I announced on my two other Twitter accounts that they would no longer be updated and asked them to follow my “Real Me” account (@brendanolen3). Then, I went through all those I was following on those two accounts and followed with my new account. Well, thanks to all the “Twitter for Business” advice out there, I have been receiving not only autoresponder private messages for the past three hours (from each and every person) BUT some who want me to verify I am a “real” person and click a link (immediate unfollow with those). I even unfollowed someone who was trying to sell their stuff by tagging every single one of their followers, individually posting on that person’s wall (feed … whatever it’s called) to challenge them to “review” their product (maybe I just ignored them before).

If Twitter was my go-to social media platform for business, I would not have the time (nor patience) to read (let alone respond to) all the autoresponder messages I am getting. I understand that I tend to be an “old fart” when it comes to some of the technology out there (heck, I just joined Instagram (brenda_nolen … if you hurry you can see my first and only photo on there) a few days ago and still don’t know what I am doing) but I have a request to all those doing business of any kind on Twitter:

Would you please either arrange for your autorespond messages to be sent at a later time (say, a day after someone follows you) or stop using them? 

I am so irritated, I almost want to turn off all notifications on my phone. All I want to do is learn and possibly share what I learn (and who I learned it from … as in send business your way). Please keep this in mind when you immediately spam someone who follows you (I can’t be the only one who feels this way). If I receive any “reminders” or “follow-ups” from anyone, I will unfollow them. I have also gotten into the habit of unfollowing people who autopost.

I hope this will all calm down, since I just finished “the merge” about an hour ago.

Doctor Day! My Results Are In!

Here are the results of my latest doctor’s visit. I am thrilled!

My Atkins Keto Journey

After 10 years, I am still med free and can officially say I no longer have type 2 diabetes!

A few months back, I went into the doctor weighing 207 with an A1C of 6.9 (normal is 5.6 and below). Keep in mind, I hadn’t been to the doctor in over 5 years and had been eating just about anything I wanted. His instructions were to lose 20 pounds and fix my diet.

So, I pretty much gave up all carbs during the day and ate whatever I wanted for dinner (but stopped eating almost all sweets of any kind, including sugar-free). The first thing I noticed was my desire for food began to lessen. I am now at the point where I may eat a meal and a half to two meals per day. I am just not hungry during the day but I eat something so I don’t…

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Learning To Say No, Even To Myself

Learning to say no to others was painful. I had always been a “people pleaser.” The needs of everyone else came before my needs. I viewed it as my calling to not only help however I could but anticipate the needs of others and do whatever I could to fulfill them. It was exhausting and I probably annoyed more people than I actually helped. I did this until my body couldn’t take it any more. I wasn’t taking care of myself: I never ate properly and would go through bouts of virtually no sleep to sleeping 16 hours at a time. So, I learned to say no to others.

That was all well and good but I turned that need to help others into an obsession to constantly “do” something productive. If I wasn’t physically doing something I had was planning what (and how) to do something. The majority of my time online was spent in the research/planning phase of some glorious project. Suffice it to say, I ended up the same as before: I never ate properly and would go through bouts of virtually no sleep to sleeping 16 hours at a time. Seriously. I have slowly (since officially getting sick in 2010) learning what was worth my time and energy and what wasn’t.

Now, saying no to myself is a very difficult thing for me to do. Once I decide on a course of action, that is all I think about, dream about, and do. I have always been this way. I am like a dog with a bone. That is the way I have handled the challenge that I began April 1st. While the individual tasks aren’t really taxing, they have forced me to change my timing throughout my day. My days can no longer be dictated by “I feel like doing THIS now instead of that.” I have to actually plan and, as this passed week has shown, allow myself time off from everything.

I had to say no. Drinking my water was fine and meditating but I could barely walk from one side of my house to the other (it’s only 800 square feet total) or think clearly. I had to rest by body and my mind. I had to let my body heal (from the root canal and allergy attack the week before, the effects of the antibiotics on my body and the “M” word: menopause). It all came crashing down on Thursday but I fought it. I probably wouldn’t have crashed so hard if I had recognized the trauma my body had been through and taken it a bit easier on her (I do forget that my chronological age is not even close to my mental age).

I am feeling much better today. I have finally slept all night (in bed, not on the couch). I worked in the yard for a bit, did all my other tasks for the day and have not nodded off on the couch. Who knows? I might be completely recovered just in time for my next round of dental work (which is in 2 days). 🙂

OH! One quick note: I broke down and bought a Kindle Fire tablet (reading my Kindle books on my computer put me to sleep and reading them on my phone was too straining). I just bought the cheapest one and I love it! I haven’t used it yet but I had no idea there was an Android app for WordPress! Yes, I can tear apart my computer and put it back together but am just now venturing into the world of apps. lol

Freedom Of Speech – Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This actually poured out of my mouth a couple of days ago, while watching “Star Wars: Rogue One.” I have not liked how Disney keeps throwing things into these new Star Wars movies that are unnecessary and only there, so they can say, “See? It IS a real Star Wars movie” but that isn’t what I am referring to now. It’s their unnecessary (and, in my eyes, disrespectful) use of CGI.

the-actor-behind-the-cgi-tarkin-in-rogue-one-tells-us-how-he-created-the-character
Is the image on the left from Rogue One or a video game? It’s from the movie.

Anyone with half a brain knows that Peter Cushing (the actor who played Tarkin) has passed away. They should also know Carrie Fisher has passed away. Yet, Disney decided they needed to show off their computer skills to superimpose a computer generated image of both actors into this movie. To me, the actor (above right) could have just worn makeup (his facial structure is very similar) and Princess Leia did not need to face the camera. There, problem solved for much less cost and no cartoon actors. See? Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

While I was preparing to begin this post, I received this lovely notification on Facebook:

fuckoff

I am highly irritated. I never post nudity (not mine or anyone else). I do not even post those funny pictures of peaches that look like someone’s rear end. Why? Well, I have finally gotten to a point in my life where I don’t have a need to offend (unless I am really angry with you or it is just too funny not to share).

I wasn’t always this way. I posted, said, typed, or wrote whatever I wanted because “my rights.” I was going to embrace my first amendment right to free speech, no matter how much of an ass I made of myself. It did not matter how many I offended with my use of foul language (which is, technically, my native language) or the manner in which I expressed my opinion. I was going to say whatever I wanted.

Eventually (gradually) things changed. My audience grew wider (and closer to home). I began connecting with actual family members, friends I cared about, and new friends from all over the globe, thanks to Facebook. Now, these people I do care about. Yes, they know I use foul language but do I need to use it so much? I may dislike these politicians but does this post about that entire political party apply to those I care about? Again, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

There were a few “friends” I had that became rabid dogs during this last Presidential election cycle. Despite my restraint during prior elections, they viewed it as their civic and moral duty to denounce and degrade anyone who was not supporting their chosen goddess … I mean candidate. If they would have kept these views on their wall, it would not have been an issue for me but they chose to turn non-partisan posts I made into war zones. Another chose to denounce the 2nd amendment (the right to keep and bear arms), all the while freely accepting meat from the firearm-using hunters they allowed onto their property every year. All of these “friends,” most I had known for almost 20 years, are no longer within my sphere of influence.

I walk a fine line now on social media. I have done my best to be as inclusive as possible since there can be such joy and knowledge shared by all. I have friends and family from all over the globe. They embrace a variety of religions, and have wide-ranging social (and even culinary) views. It probably would not take much to accidentally offend someone BUT, so far, I have chosen my friends wisely. Those who truly embrace the “share our similarities and accept our differences” attitude have remained my friends. I feel blessed.

 

Jury Duty and Allergies

I have always loathed getting my jury duty notification. Why? In my eyes, it was one more thing the government was forcing me to do. I am forced to pay property taxes if I want to keep my home. I am forced to pay registration fees if I want to drive my car off my property. I am forced to pay sales tax if I want to purchase just about anything. So, when I received my jury duty notice last week I was angry.

This was the first time I have received one since all the kids moved out of the house (damn, can’t claim an exemption for that). I have severe allergies to various chemicals but the ones that get me when I am in public are perfumes or cologne (oh, look. I need a doctor’s note … like I can get that in a week). So, none of the exemptions applied so I began chanting a mantra: “Jury Duty Free.”

It didn’t work. Well, no, it did (sort of). Two nights ago, we checked and there it was: I was to report for jury duty the next day. Oh, I was stomping around the house like a moody teenager. I had to get ready for “battle.” I cleaned out my purse, surprised to find only two knives in there. 🙂 I filled my bag with a physical book, my Kindle (the physical book in case I couldn’t use my Kindle because it’s new and I have not tested it away from home), my inhaler, my epi-pen, my masks, my coffee and something to snack on. By the time I left the house, I was ready.

So, I showed up, made it through security without setting anything off, descended to the basement (which wasn’t as dark and dank as I had envisioned) and settled in. Things were going good (I was amazed I hadn’t run into a wall of perfume). That’s when the rest of the people started filing in. My tranquil mood lasted for about 5 minutes, when I had to get up and go out into the hall. Then more women came out of the elevator and that’s when I realized my mask was no help at all.

So, I hit my inhaler, tried to find the least populated spot, and did my best to slow down my breathing. That is what I continued to do for the next hour, until I was called into the court room. I have only been inside a court room twice before (and neither of those times was for jury duty) so I had no idea what to expect.

There was roll call, then the judge came in. Then, I actually started paying attention. There was the District Attorney, the other woman was obviously the defense attorney, and there was the defendant. I’m not sure why I didn’t think they would all be sitting there. They gave us a piece of paper with the defendant’s name and the possible dates (and times) of the trial, then the judge began speaking.

Since I was clutching my purse way too hard, focusing on slowing my breathing, I pretty much heard, “Blah, blah, blah, Our county has the highest rate of jury duty summons responses in the entire state, blah, blah, blah …” Then, he said something that made me wish I could actually serve: “Jury duty allows us, the people, to actually participate in a branch of the government.”

He finished this up, then went row by row, asking if people needed to be excused or have their jury duty service postponed. I was shocked at how many businesses do not pay anything for jury duty, since it is required by law. When he finally got to my row, I raised my hand, then stood, swaying a bit, and explained my allergies. I sat back down and started to cry. I didn’t know what I would do if he didn’t excuse me. The trial we were there for was slated for almost three weeks!

After everyone pleaded their case, he began reading off the names of those who would be excused or postponed. He read my name and I began to sob. I have never felt so helpless and vulnerable. By the time I made it out of the courthouse, my hands and feet were tingling, due to lack of oxygen. It has now been three days and I am still not 100%. This is also the allergic reaction I have to cats. Too many cat people think I will be alright if they lock their cat in the room or vacuum really good. Whether or not that would work, I can’t take that chance.

Monday I will finally make my appointment with a new doctor.

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged.

Yeah, o.k. Judge away! I smoke, drink (rarely), rarely wear makeup (or do my hair), am overweight, live off of diet soda and coffee (plus water, now), have made horrible choices in my life (one of which ultimately scarred two people who I love dearly), and for the most part, hate people. 🙂

I do. It wasn’t this bad before the internet but wow! I have never been surrounded by so many judgemental people since I attended church! That’s probably one of the reasons this quote from the Bible popped in my head: I grew up surrounded by those who professed to follow the teachings of the Bible but few who had even read the entire book. So, I decided to look it up (once again, thank you, Google) and found a great article explaining what this passage means.

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged by Wayne Stiles. See, I judge every single day. I also live in the downtown area of a city that has been #1 in violent crimes nationally more times than I care to count (yes, more violent crimes than Chicago for those years). If you are walking on my street and I don’t know you, I am judging you. It takes me just a few seconds to determine if you are a potential threat because that is the way it is when you are surrounded by those who would gladly beat the crap out of you so they can score some drugs.

To me, though, this type of judging is completely different from what I see online. I really do not think the majority of those spewing such vitriol would have the fortitude to do so face to face. Some of the worst cases I have ever seen were from those who talked about Mother Earth, Love and Light, and finished their posts with “Namaste.” I have seen them become unhinged by those who smoke cigarettes (because it is their duty to police what I put in my body), give birth to children (because babies are bad for the environment … seriously), eat animal products (overlooking the cost and environmental impact of the production and shipment of their tofu burger) and drive (at all, though they love to overlook the petroleum-based tires they have on their bicycles).

These are also the people I see throwing the “Judge Not” Bible verse back at those who do not support gay marriage (or abortion). Look, I get it. I, too, find it hypocritical for those who profess to follow the Bible to speak and act like they have no idea what is in it. I can’t remember who it was (might have been my grandmother because she was really good for this) but I remember hearing tirades of judgemental gossip coming out of her mouth but she would bypass the admonition by ending her statements with, “But who am I to judge.” It was as if that made all the hateful things she said alright in the eyes of God because she wasn’t REALLY judging.

The cold, hard reality is everyone judges. EVERYONE! It is how/why we judge that is important to focus on. If you relish in saying hateful things to total strangers who are different from you, that is your choice. However, if we ever want this world to change for the better, we must be willing to turn that judgement onto ourselves and become the person we want to have lunch with. Could you really handle talking to yourself for a few hours without violence ensuing?

Misery Loves Company

I never (EVER) thought I would say this but I have to thank my husband’s ex-wife for teaching me so many lessons. See, before I met my husband, the only step-relationship I ever dealt with was my step-mother. She was truly one of the most loving women I have ever met. Not only did she accept me as her daughter but so did her entire family. I was (and still am) truly blessed. And get this: my mom actually liked my step-mom! Can you believe it?

So, when I met my husband and, before we were even serious, he told me he had not only an ex-wife but a daughter, I was happy. I knew, through experience, that it did not have to be a horrible hate-filled relationship. It was going to be great, especially since I, like my step-mom, would finally have a daughter (without giving birth to her).

This is where the lessons come into play. It did not take long for those rose-colored glasses to be ripped right off my head. The derogatory comments began within a month of us dating and things just continued to escalate from there. 18 years (and a disconnected house phone) later, I am finally able to see what I learned.

I learned that no matter what is said or done, there are just some people who love misery. Not only do they love to be miserable but they thoroughly enjoy spreading it around like the plague. These people are cruel and heartless. As long as they are able to inflict pain on others, that is all that matters (even if it is their own child that gets hurt). They will lie, cheat, and steal to ensure that within their deluded mind, they are winning and I am not just talking about the ex now.

Through dealing on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis with the ex, I began to see that I have been surrounded by these types of people all my life. “Friends,” family friends, and even family fall into this type of antisocial personality disorder. It’s been truly illuminating and has helped me learn how to distance myself from almost all of these toxic people. It’s taken me a long time to do it but this is how I accomplished this:

I started slowly (well, with those I thought of as friends or family). I began with having things to do, so I was too busy and couldn’t meet. I spaced out the meetings over time, so I had time to mentally prepare myself for the deluge of negativity. If they refused to honor my wishes (respect me and my time), I stopped answering the phone or door. If this is someone I must have contact with, this is how I have kept the relationship: very distant. If, on the other hand, there is no reason I need to ever speak to them again: I’m done. One person I told exactly how I felt and told them I never wanted to speak to them again. The other (the ex) we just shut off our home phone. If she shows up, she is trespassing.

The sad part of that is my step-daughter has now taken our place and until she learns to stand up for herself and refuse to be a verbal punching bag, all we can do is be here when she needs some quiet sanity and a shoulder to cry (or lean) on. I hope this happens soon.

Those who can, should teach.

The full quote is: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” In other words, if you are not able to run a successful business, then you should teach business. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I wrote a post a couple of years ago about me discovering I am a student and a teacher. Thinking about the quote above, what did I really mean when I stated that? At the time, my life mirrored the above quote. I had never “done” most of the things I have been learning so how could I possibly be qualified to teach?

So, when should learning stop and doing begin? I want to write but am I doing it correctly? Shouldn’t I know more about not only the subject but the method of writing? I will never know if I do not write. At this point, I am pretty much willing to write about anything that pops in my head since I can never learn from my successes (and failures) if I do nothing.

I have been an avid hoarder of educational materials since I got my first computer (a computer that a friend built me and if I remember correctly, ran on Windows 95). I can’t even begin to tell you how many .pdfs I have of old, out of print books that were wonderful sources of knowledge. In addition to those out of print books, I even have printed up entire websites (most of them posthumously, thanks to Internet Archive: Wayback Machine) but what good is all of that knowledge if none of it is practiced?

When I lived in Arizona I attended a (now defunct) career college. Despite the fact that my diploma in Small Business Management isn’t worth the paper it was printed on (I wish I would have known what accreditation was and how important it is), what I loved about the school was all of the instructors were from the real world. My marketing instructor left to work for the first soaker hose company that solely used recycled tires, my accounting instructor was an actual accountant, and my computer instructor ran a small tech support company (they were all teaching part-time). These instructors are my definition of a teachers. They do, therefore they teach.

I have information on just about every subject out there but my main love has always been all things relating to herbal medicine. I love the fact that the majority of ingredients contained within the various Pharmacopeia from the early 1900s and older are plants I can grow or purchase (and I do not need any special license or permit for those purchases). I have considered taking some courses related to herbal medicine but why spend the money if I have all this information at my fingertips?

That WAS my thinking until I actually tried to make an herbal salve. No matter how many times I tried, I could not manage to make a salve without it being too hard, too soft, too lumpy or having it separate over time. As much as I adore You Tube, there are too many people out there who know less than I do “teaching.” I knew I needed some actual instruction if I was ever going to do this right. So, in January of this year, I began taking an online herbal course: Herbal Skills Intensive offered by Cat Ellis. When I first heard she was developing this course, I knew I had to take it because, unlike so many teachers I have come across online, she actually does this in real life (this is the online version of the classes she gives in person). It’s a wonderful class and I highly recommend it.

So, this is my long-term project: to physically do everything that I have been learning about. There are way too many subjects I have no way of learning (like raising livestock) since I live in the city but I am making a conscious effort to “practice what I preach” (or, really, “practice what I share”).