Saturday, November 16, 2019

What Constitutes an Irrational Fear?

What constitutes an irrational fear? Depends on who you ask, really. I am going to tell you what an irrational fear is to me. You may have a totally different opinion, and that is fine with me. We can agree to disagree. 

The picture above is just that; a picture. I am not terrified of dinosaurs simply because I do not live in  Jurassic Park. If you saw the movie, then I am sure it terrified many, if not you personally. From experience, I know that it frightened my daughter, even though she could rationally say to you that she knew it was just make-believe. That did not stop her imagination from working overtime.

There are several things that I know I have irrational fears about. Some, I am aware that there are some plans of action I could do in order to overcome them. Then there are others that I simply ask myself, "Why would I want to?"

Only once have I flown in what I considered to be a small plane. I had many wonderful experiences flying before going in this plane and had no fear whatsoever. Let's just say that my fear does have some rational reasoning to it. I boarded just fine. However, once we got in the air over the Rocky Mountains, the turbulence took over. We rocked back and forth and up and down the whole trip. People all around me were getting sick. This in turn affected me and I got sick. It was an hour of sheer misery. The pilot got on the speaker and informed us that this was one of the roughest flights he has ever flown in, BUT there was nothing to worry about. He and the crew had everything under control. For me? Nothing was going to be under control until we landed safely on the ground.

As we got off the plane, the friends and family waiting for passengers were all asking why was everyone so green looking? When I looked around me, everyone did look as if they were related to The Grinch. I just made a promise to myself then and there that I would not ever be on a small plane again. Knowing that I had to get back to Denver from Jackson Hole in order to fly the large aircraft back to Memphis, I had decided that I would be renting a car and driving to Denver. Problem solved. Friends and family that met me had other plans. They managed to get some Johnny Walker Scotch in my system and I was not able to drive. I ended up getting on the small plane and sleeping through the uneventful flight. At least, they told me that it was uneventful. Maybe so? To this day I still avoid getting on small planes.

I might add that I had a similar experience on a very large deep sea fishing boat. The captain said that the sea was as rough as he had ever seen. Good grief! Does Mother Nature follow me around on my excursions? I was laid out across the built-in ice chests where they kept the caught fish alive. 

In my usually logical mind, I know that a cruise liner is so much larger than this large deep sea fishing boat. However, that one experience has made me just a bit terrified of taking a cruise. 

Maybe one day. Maybe!

Now, let's go to another kind of irrational fear. These fears are for real and I really don't want to do anything about these fears except avoid these things:

Usually, I manage to do a rather good job at avoiding them. On those rare occasions that I don't, bedlam breaks out. This blog was on my mind to write this week because of one of our goldendoodles, Davis. 

Normally, he has always been a model of the perfect dog. However, this past week, our perfect dog went out with me for the last trip to take care of his business before bed. Leaves had been falling all day and I noticed on our way in he grabbed at something, which I naturally thought was a big leaf. He followed me in with it to the screened in porch. It was there that I told him to drop it and he did. He followed me to the back door, only to turn quickly and went back to grab it and flew in to his bed. He put it down and looked up at me with his adoringly big brown eyes. I looked down and became totally irrational and close to hysterics. Steve came running in and so did our little goldendoodle. I put out my arms, waving them away and screaming for Steve to call them to their crates, quickly. Of course, he had no idea what the fuss was all about. I then barked out (literally) for him to bring two plastic bags fast. 

You see, on the bed was a dead (thank goodness) mouse. I had no idea that dogs caught mice. As Steve came out, he saw the problem and put the dead critter in the bag and took it out to the trash. It was at that point that I needed a tall G & T with a twist of lemon. It helped me to stop hyperventilating and even considering changing our dog's name to Hunter or Killer. 

This picture is obviously is not Davis but this is exactly what he did. I did not stop to take pics. The next day, I looked up dogs catching mice. There were a few breeds of dogs listed who actually are known for this. Goldendoodles were not on the list, nor were poodles or English golden retrievers. However, he looked me as if he should be praised for bringing me such a gift. He was so proud. I was speechless. Steve and others let me know that I should have thanked him and praised him. hmmmm

This is what I would expect, even though I have never really had a cat. Never would I expect our dog to catch one, kill it and bring it to me. Even though I have had a couple of times, a field mouse coming in our house, I know that I managed to acquire this irrational fear of mice from my Mother. She came in from her bedroom with her handgun when I screamed about the mouse that I spotted in the kitchen. Truly, at that stage, I did not know which scenario that I should have been more afraid of: the mouse who ran off to who knows where or my Mother standing in the doorway pointing a handgun, as if she could really shoot a mouse!

Then, some rational thinking had to be mustered up by someone and to my amazement, it was mine. I had to take the phone from her hands when she told me that she was calling 9-1-1 for the mouse in our house! Ya'll, this is for real! I just can't make this up out of the blue. Quickly, I took the phone from her and tried to explain that she/we would be fined for calling over a mouse - not considered life threatening.

After buying out Lowe's of all of their glue traps, I managed to get our problem solved with the help of my daughter. You see, she also is not fond of mice. She had to help shovel up the trap that the mouse got stuck in and place him into the bag that I held out and we took the bag out to the trash bin. We also called in my dear, sweet Uncle to check out the garage door where he guessed the mouse came in from the field beside our house. He fixed the problem.

There were also times when I worked outside of the home, that it was known there was a mouse problem. I kept my feet up off the ground when I had to sit in a meeting or work at my computer until the problem had been solved.

While at work, our building was being renovated. The ceiling tiles had not been replaced just yet, so all of the piping and insulation was exposed above the long hallways. I was out in one hallway with the locksmiths that were sent to our building. We were going over the blueprints where they were marking the doors that needed to have locks with keys installed. I was pointing at the pictures they had on a rolling cart just as a rat from above fell down right in front of us. I can still hear the sound of that rat as it hit the floor. DEAD. "SPLAT!"

"Looks as if it broke its back," one locksmith calmly uttered to me and his buddy. 

At that stage, I grabbed my radio and managed to screech for a call of help from our building engineer. The call went into the office and to anyone else that carried a radio. People came out of everywhere to see what kind of commotion was going on. I was literally, helped into my office to a chair. No one could believe that my normally calm voice went into a wild banshee howling. That was the talk at work for over a month and still to this day, 17 years later, is still remembered.

There seems to be patterns to me encountering fears of rats. Just two days ago, Steve and I were leaving out of our garage to take our puppies to WGAC Doggie Daycare. With cold weather approaching, we have a few hidden places with sticky traps just in case one wants to come in from the cold. 

As I backed out of the garage and put the car in Drive, we headed down our cove at a slow speed and heard a thump, thump sound from the rear of the car. Steve got out to investigate. He discovered a dead rat attached to one of the sticky traps that was in turn stuck on the rear left tire. Clearly, my fear of rodents manifested itself one more time. Steve suggested, "Let's just drive and hope that it comes off." It did! It was all that I could do to guide the vehicle on the correct side of the road. I couldn't even talk at this point. I am really hoping my irrational fear of rodents does not come in 'threes!'

I am not apologizing for my irrational fear. To me it is very rational. To this day, I will not go in a cave where there could be bats, look and watch carefully when outside where snakes could be and will use a shoe to kill a spider or spray it to death with bug spray or hairspray, whichever is close at hand.

 What makes sense to you? 

Sunday, November 10, 2019



One thing that I have to continually remind myself of is that my feelings don't have a schedule. I am human. I am not a calendar and it is ok to have an 'off' day, as long as I know what it is I need to do to kick myself back into gear. It is ok to have a day on the weekend that is not super duper. It is ok to have a fantastic Monday. I need to remember that it is important to forget the calendar and focus on how I am feeling.

This past Saturday, I had a really 'off' day. I just was not me. I would be cold, then hot, and really upset with myself for not being able to do what I needed to do. Was that the important thing on my agenda? NO! The important thing was for me to focus on the things that could make me get over the funky mood that I was in, or find out through process of elimination, if I was coming down with something. (I wasn't.)

It is one of those deals that require me to talk nicely to myself. I have discovered it is ok to not give everything my all and to take a break from being me. So, no blog, reading here and there, staying warm and then cooling off. Giving myself permission to nap, just rest, and enjoy the day. 

Other ways to work your way through is to have a very supportive significant other (or really good friend - sometimes, one in the same when you are lucky). I have mine. He helped by getting me some tea and trust me, no one can make a cuppa tea like a Brit! He also left for a moment to go and pick up a prescription for me, he was there to cover me, turn the fan on overdrive and never, ever complained. Just wanted to be there for me. That is true love. He even made a great soup for us, which truly helped the sore throat that I was just starting to feel and gave me some ibuprofen for a headache beginning to take over.

I also worked on a lot of meditating. Just closing my eyes and taking deep breaths to push out the negative and pull in the positive. 

I would alternate between doing this and reading a bit. It was a gorgeous sunny day so all was helping weather wise. No gray and gloomy day tuning in to my ikky feelings. It was all day that I worried a bit that maybe I was coming down with something. 

The next helpful way to kick myself up into 1st gear was to focus on our puppies. Ok, so one puppy just turned three. He will always be our senior puppy and is so damn calm and loving. Both of them are intelligent and so very empathetic. They knew that I was not up to playing with them and they just cuddled in to me. It felt so good to have their love.

The last thing that I thought about was to just walk it off. I just was not quite well enough to try that today. It is a good plan for when it is more of the moody blues that have you vs. whether you are coming down with something or not. 

Even though it was a beautiful day, I could not have managed this and it is best to know your own limitations. This quote is so appropriate:

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Life Lessons Learned From My Dogs

There are those who have the misconception that dogs are "just dumb animals." Truly, I feel sorry for any human who has this attitude towards a person's best friend. If only humans were all smart enough to pay attention and learn from them. Dogs have so many life lessons to teach us. Just open your eyes and hearts and learn.

The overall lesson in the scheme of things is just what the poster states above. No matter what life brings my way, I just kick some grass on it and move on. Dwelling on problems are not going to solve them and make them go away. And so there is where and when I try to pay attention to what I need to do about what is going on in my life.

  • I have learned that I am only as old as I feel. If I want to run, then I will train to run. The only thing stopping me is me! Maybe I don't want to run, but slow it down to a swift walk. There is nothing more delightful than the simple joy of a long quiet walk. That is all up to me. My motto should be, "I can and I will!" I get to set my limits or open up my limits to explore everything. I have promised myself that I will show passion and gusto in the things that I do. I have decided that Tai Chi is most definitely for me. So I have discovered some beginning YouTube videos to help me and have placed some DVD's on my Amazon Wish List. I will have to work on where I am practicing Tai Chi. Maybe one day I can be at the ocean to stretch and breathe. Until then, my Happy Place will have to be in my vivid imagination. My dogs have shown me that it really does not or should not take a whole lot to just make the choice to be happy.

  • Never will I stop "playing." Play is a good thing. Everyone needs a time in the day, or even several times where they can run and romp - just play. There are ways to turn the most mundane task into play if I try and use the right attitude to approach my issues that face me. There is never a bad time to play. Working on happy attitudes toward lemons coming my way always brightens my day. Another way to think about this is put it in doggie terms; wag more - bark less. Being a member of the BMW club (bitching, moaning and whining) is not going to help. It is mind over matter and delighting in the simple things, alone sometimes and most definitely with friends. Keep in mind that 'things' are just 'things.' I try to keep things in perspective.

  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent and sit closely by and nuzzle them gently. I feel that it is a great way to show my loyalty to them and how I just want to be supportive. Just sitting and listening is what others may need from me. Dogs seem to have so much empathy for others. My dogs seem to know the exact moment that something is wrong and they just cuddle up and are there always.

  • There was once a time that for some reason, I felt that it was a bad thing to take naps/rests. I believe that it is part of what "they" (whoever they are) would have you believe. Well, take it from your dogs. You need to take plenty of rests and naps are in fact a good thing. My dogs seem to be able to fall asleep almost anywhere and probably do not understand why I do not follow suit. It is not a good thing to buy into the guilt thing. Run right back at them and make friends. Friends don't have to agree on everything. One very important lesson that I have learned from my dogs is to always make it a habit to stretch when you get up from a rest or nap. It adds to the enjoyment.

  • The one thing that I love to see is the pure joy of a dog safely letting the wind and fresh air hitting him in the face so never ever give up the opportunity to experience this for yourself. 

  • It is a matter of me just being me. Dogs are always just themselves. They love unconditionally and are quick to forgive. When their loved ones come home, they run to greet them with such enthusiasm, never taking anyone for granted.

These are lessons that I have learned from my dogs on ways to get along in life and handle stress when it comes my way. Here is the low down on how to handle stress like a dog. If you can't eat it or play with it. Then pee on it and walk away. I would not exactly advise anyone to do this. Dogs are so much more intelligent than this, yet there are times, just as in our own lives, that sometimes you just have to express yourself.  

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Life Lessons From a Dishwasher

If you would have asked me about life lessons and who or what actually teaches these all important lessons to all of us, never in a zillion years would I say a dishwasher. Ours did, and I think that if you carefully pay attention, you may be amazed at what can attribute to your own education in life lessons.

Let me begin by saying about one year ago our old dishwasher had been slowly going downhill. We were having to rewash dishes because they came out dirty, no matter how much I cleaned the dishwasher, changed the detergent I was using, the rinse, temperature of water.......... nothing worked. Off to the appliance store for us. 

Just a brief statement that it was actually a customer, not a salesperson, because one was NOT in sight, that showed us the features of this one particular dishwasher that we continued to go back to. We really liked it. Finally, a salesperson showed up and so the endless paperwork began. It was to be delivered in three days. Let's just say that 18 days later we finally had it delivered. Apparently, the first installer opened the box and the dishwasher was damaged. This required another one to be ordered. An omen?

We hand-washed for three weeks. Being a family of two, this was not a super hardship. I feel a little guilty even complaining about it. It is all what we get used to. We are used to throwing dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

Finally, once it was installed, happy days were here again! This dishwasher was a definite upgrade from the original. It had served us well. Time to move on.

Then, a metal trim on the door, about a year later, came loose. Seemed like a simple enough problem. I tried to gorilla glue it on. It sort of, kind of worked. And then magic happened. I received an e mail from GE that our warranty would be running out and it asked if we wanted to extend it. Who knew? Hmmmm. I pulled the paperwork and it was still under warranty so I called for repair right away.

With all of the necessary paperwork in front of me, I made the appointment for the repairman to come out. Out comes this man who was very difficult to understand, not just his accent but his usage of the English language. He told us that he would have to order the part, it would take two weeks to arrive and then we would call the GE number to reschedule an appointment for a technician to come out. OK! So we made the dishwasher hang on for two more weeks.

The part arrived and as instructed, I called to set up the appointment. The day arrived and in walked the same technician who had ordered the part. He looked at the part and then at the dishwasher. He said, "No can do. I can't get the dishwasher out. I am not strong enough. Mr. Miles, you will need to pull it out. If you can't, then you will have to call Lowe's to have them come out to pull the dishwasher out. I will not be liable for breaking your dishwasher"

It was at this point that Steve opened the study doors and asked me to come in. I thought that I was sensing "issues" from the tones that I was hearing. Steve told me what he was just told by this technician. I repeated it to him to be sure that I was actually hearing such nonsense. It seems he continued to change his story from not strong enough, not responsible for pulling the dishwasher out to calling Lowe's. That is when I had enough. I had never heard such gibberish come out of the mouth of someone who is suppose to be the expert.

I told him to call his supervisor or someone in charge immediately. We had to have this part installed. As he was speaking to someone, my phone then rang. It was a Customer Advocate from GE. She was cool, calm and collected and asked me to explain the problem. I put the call on speaker phone so that my husband could put his words in too, along with hearing what was being said to me. This little (and I have nothing wrong with a technician's height) technician guy kept interrupting the Customer Advocate or us while we were talking to her. 

Let me explain something to anyone who is not familiar with the British accent. First of all, coming out of my husband's mouth is a total shocker. He is such a proper British gentleman. However, this guy had pushed him over the edge. He totally was out of place in interrupting us. When you hear the words, "Oh, shut up," out of a Brit's mouth, it does not sound so bad. The technician looked a bit shocked and even more so when Steve said, "Let me show you out the door." I truly believe that this guy not only did not know how to repair the problem, but didn't care. NO social skills at all.

The Customer Advocate heard it all. She told us that she would work on the solution to our problem. She immediately set up another appointment for the next day. We said that would be fine as long as we had a different technician. She assured us it would be and even gave us times to choose from.

Stress went to a lower level knowing that we did not have to deal with someone so incompetent. What was one more day to wait for it to be fixed? Then, a miracle happened. A different and positive GE technician called and said that he saw we were set up for the next day but he was in the neighborhood and could come by now if we were available. YES, YES, YES!

All of a sudden, the negative vibes were leaving and the positive were coming through loud and clear. From the moment he called, the positivity began. Once he arrived and looked at the situation with our dishwasher, his very words were that he has worked with GE for over twenty years. He looked at it as a challenge to problem solve. Within 30 - 40 minutes, the dishwasher was fixed. 

The second technician had this view on life. Never say never. He left two happy customers and these two happy customers wrote in a survey a glowing review of how wonderful he was, along with the Customer Advocate. Too bad that it took this simple problem to this level. Unfortunately, it did. Problem is solved, we are happy and there you have it. 

Lesson Learned? Patience, Calmness, Never Say It Is Your Last Attempt Until You Have Succeeded.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

You Are What You Eat

Sometimes I get myself in a mindset of why can't I eat anything that I want, whenever I want. I know there are plenty of people out there in the world that can do that and not gain a pound. All of their lab reports come back normal from their doctors. I see them in restaurants that I go in and wonder to myself why I can't be that way?

After a major health scare of cancer, going through the surgery, the radiation and then the medication, I found that I was packing on weight so fast that it did not seem humanly possible. Yet there it was. I could see it. My clothes did not fit. Hell's bells, my shoes did not even fit. This was very troubling, being the shoe queen that I am. It was a result of many outside reasons that I simply did not have total control over. 

I do know that I was not overeating. even though I was not on any specific "diet," I knew that my calorie intact was on the lower side. I concluded that the problem was that there was no exercise involved. From all that I read, once a person reaches a certain age, in order to lose weight, one must have some type of exercise program in their life. 

This was not an easy thing for me. I used to walk, I went to a gym and lifted weights with a trainer, and rode a recumbent bike. We even have a room dedicated to three pieces of exercise equipment. So what was the problem? From the surgery, to the radiation and most of all the side effects of the medications hit all of my joints and made it hard to walk from one room of the house to another, much less get on a treadmill and walk a mile or more. Not to mention the loss of breath.

Finally, but not after gaining an enormous amount of weight, I was able to do some yoga. At least it was a small start. It helped my mind and my body through stretching, except one day my left knee gave out. My legs in my mind looked like an elephant's leg. Thick and no shape. Shoes did not go on my feet and even with the extra weight, anyone could see that my knee was swollen. 

Off to the doctor I went. It just about killed me to step on the scales. Reality hit hard. My family doctor is such an amazing man. He knew that this was not me and knew that I needed help. So he got me set up that very day with a specialist in bones and joints. After an x-ray, he concluded that while doing the yoga, I knocked my knee-cap off center. I would be coming in for shots in the knee to ease the pain and he showed me what to do for a bit of physical therapy. PLUS, instructed me to wear compression socks. He even showed me his Happy Socks that were compression. He told me that it would help tremendously.

The doctor was so right. My darling husband even gave me some for a present and they were wildly printed and so me. Bless him, he even helped me get them on. In the shape that I was in, that was even difficult.

It was at this stage that something came about that needed to happen at this point in my life. A friend of ours in REAL life and on Facebook wrote about how he was losing weight like a mad man. What the plan boiled down to was what I had been reading from others... cut the carbs. Stop the white breads, cereals, potatoes, pasta...aggghhhh... is that possible? I LOVE LOVE LOVE bread, pasta and potatoes and all of the things that were now no-no's.

He said to watch the You Tube video of "Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off." I did. Still having many doubts but I kept reading. I was trying to read all that I could before starting a lifestyle change. Believe me. It was a lifestyle change. It is NOT a diet. It will be the way that I eat now and forever.

The normal person consumes a very high carb count. That was me. Not so much calories, but the carbs. I loved sandwiches, cereals and fruits and veggies that were extremely high in carbs. I think I must have part Italian blood because yes, I love most all pasta dishes and pizzas and all the breads that come with it. 

Being the kind of person that I am, through research, I found the low carb, high fat program. It showed me what to choose from and how to use an app on my phone called carb manager that was free, that could keep up with my carbs. It also gave me the facts on how many proteins and fats that I ate each day.  There is a fine line between eating low carb/high fat and being on the Keto plan. I wanted to do what would work for me.

I chose the plan that keeps me in the 20 - 30 net carbs a day, along with keeping the fat grams higher than the protein grams. This is called your macros. When I researched it, answered questions, it gave me what was a good percentage for me. I work hard to keep this percentage. Plus, I must admit, I did go out and buy the keto strips to see if I actually did go into keto. I did, but never "deep." More than a trace, probably just the right amount for me because I have now lost a total of over 50 pounds.  And, I am continuing to lose weight on this lifestyle.

The weight is really coming off all over the place and it is not my choice of where. I am wearing normal shoes again, clothes are going to charities, as they are now too big. I order a few things here and there that are sizes so much smaller, plus I did keep the good clothes that I had before the weight gain, but some of them are even too big. Yeah, me! I am now at a weight lower than before all of this happened. I do not plan to regress to my former lifestyle.

It has been amazing to me that I have been able to follow this lifestyle so easily. Being a chef, myself, as well as my husband, we have found many ways to make this work for us. You see, he is also losing what he wanted to lose. It is just a great program. Our labs tests show how much it has helped our cholesterol, blood pressure and overall well being.

Google and YouTube it if you wish. Here are some of the things that we can eat and there are high price foods that you can order to help such as ThinSlim Breads and Bagels, Good Fats Bars and Fire and Kettle Broths. 

Meanwhile, look at just a few of the delicious things that we can eat. Even the pizza, and I highly suggest do not get the cauliflower pizza crust. It was a crust from Thinslims foods that did it for us. Put on the marinara sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella and you have it made. Olives, and whatever!

One important thing for me to learn and I learned it from our friend who suggested this on his FB page. Every so often go off. Not crazy off. But go off some and have a higher carb count and amazingly, it will get you out of a plateau of weigh loss. Just as it worked for him, it has worked for me. I have learned just how much I can go. One Thanksgiving I had a small amount of everything that I made for others and I was not well for days. So, it is a small amount. I know that now.