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.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Be True To Yourself

This quote is a really unique quote to keep in mind whatever we do. It fits into all aspects of our lives. In this blog, I am going along with the lines of the person who is working creatively in the arts. Perhaps it is music, painting, designing or writing, however, anyone can see how it would work in whatever field or part of one's life. It just fits!

To most artists, we use our creativity as a means to express our feelings through words, lyrics, notes, paintings, or any of the other visual arts. As our work is created we continue to improve in order to make it as perfect in our minds as possible. When most others don't get it, that is when the split pops up. The artist asks himself do I want to create good work that is being true to myself or do I want to put it out there for a larger audience so that it will become popular and the trendy thing happening now?

You could even argue the point that if it is not popular then it will not ever be perceived as being good among the masses. Artists crave attention and want others to happily share in their work, therefore it does become important to most creative artists to gain wider audiences and to do so may mean changing up their true style. Increasing one's popularity becomes the focus.

This is what I find myself struggling with as I write. Never do I want to just  impress publishers to publish my book. I want my book to say what I want it to say. Of course, there are some guidelines that must be adhered to that as a beginner I may not be aware of. I will most definitely accept constructive criticism just please don't try to change out the plot that I conceived. Nor the characters that I created because they are created in my mind and I am the one who visualized them and how they would behave. In reality, they spoke to me and actually became themselves. When I get stuck, sort of a writer's block, it is when 'my friends decide to not come out and talk to me.' 

Richard Bach's quote really comes to life for me. Maybe I am too much of an optimist, however, I feel that if I remain true to myself, that what I write will find all of the right readers. When asked by several other writers, who have been published, why am I writing? My answer is because I have a story to tell. Yes, I hope that others will be able to read and share in it with me, but I am not writing to become a famous author making loads of money, going on book tours and signing books. If that happens then bully for me! If that is the only reason that I am writing then shame on me. I am not holding up to my obligation of being true to myself. 

There is not a good reason in my mind to follow the crowd. In fact, I believe that by placing good over popular gives me the license to be more creative, not less. I have never been one to see things as black and white. In most everything, there is a massive gray area. If I only try to be good at my writing and not ever consider my work being popular then my vision is most definitely blurred. My vision needs to include both good with popular. It takes balance.

Working at what I believe to be good work and then remaining open to new influences with other opinions can be the best of both worlds. Keeping my integrity in check by listening carefully to others and weighing their opinions to my own is what will help me create something good and popular. A New York Times Best Seller would not be a bad thing, it is just not my end goal. I will be perfectly happy in having a large audience reading my book(s) when they become published. 

It is great to bring joy to other people's lives, but my self-respect is important too.

Monday, October 7, 2019

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

A Few of My Favorite Things

There can't possibly be anyone out there who has not heard the song called 'My Favorite Things' from The Sound of Music sung by Julie Andrews. For some reason, it just popped in my head when I started to think about what makes me happy. My gratitudes, if you will. Then, it made me smile, in that I truly am not a fan of this movie, although I have seen it. The image that immediately comes to mind is the scene and song of the hills coming alive with the sound of music. 

Pulling myself back on the track of my thought process of what truly makes me happy...I chuckled to myself as I thought of the saying that money can't buy happiness! Well, let me say that I wouldn't mind giving it a try by winning the Powerball. However, in all honesty, every once in a while we win $8 - $14 and I am ecstatic. That helps pay for the next lottery ticket. Once, we even won $200. Everyone in the store could hear me when I collected on that win. These things, though, are not what I would call my favorite things, as the song goes.

To refresh your memory when one is feeling bad or sad, just think of what makes you personally happy such as: 
raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
These are a few of my favorite things! I won't bore you with the rest of the song, although these things can make most people happy by thinking of them along with the bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.

For me, I wanted to dig into what I am grateful for. There are so many things that came to mind that I found this to be even better than I ever imagined. My lists just kept growing and growing. All it takes is a moment of closing your eyes and the pictures pop in your mind of experiences and people and things that can bring joy to your life and therefore become some of your favorite things. Such as:

my family, which is my darling, loving, quirky, handsome British husband and all 4 of our children and their partners. With this group, let's add in 4 beautiful and unique granddaughters.

Immediately after family, which also includes cousins, would come friends. Some of which are neighbors, some from high school and college and some from where I have worked here in Memphis, as well as in TX and PA. Just gives me a warm feeling to stay in touch and know that we all care for one another.

Now for the random little things that come to my mind of some of my favorite things:

Another name for this is my happy place.
There is nothing like having great customer service all the time, especially if something goes wrong and a customer service person is helpful in solving the problem professionally.

Not one, but TWO very special loving dogs with two distinct personalities that we do not know how we ever did without them. I don't think they would know what to do without each other either. Truly inseparable.

The first day of Fall may have been September 
23rd,but here in Memphis it has remained in the upper 90's up until a cold front moved in last night, October 6th, and brought rain and actual temperatures in the 50's and 60's. Plus, it was actually good to see and hear the rain. Maybe soon, we will have the color of the fall leaves.

Not sure how you feel, but for me there is nothing in the world as good as the feeling of getting into bed just after the sheets have been washed. Ahhh! Fresh sheets. A great night's sleep for sure.

It is one of my favorite things when my hairdresser, Shanon, shampoos my hair. Somehow, I feel that the shampoo, which seems more like a head massage, is moving all of my blood cells around and making them pop with joy!

At one time, I felt guilty about taking a nap. After some research, I have learned that napping is so very healthy. Many countries actually have this built into their culture. Americans? Not so much. I am a firm believer in taking a siesta.
  I wake up refreshed and in no way does it mess up my nightly sleeping schedule. This is why I coordinate it, when possible, into my schedule.

Fall weather brings on the sweaters and boots. Love the change of wardrobe. 

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. Having a cup of coffee or tea and curling up with a good book is heavenly.

In this household there are two kinds football fans. We share and have become fans of both. My favorite would have to be the SEC college games. Of course, I have my favorite colleges,  but there is nothing like watching the crowds at SEC games. In college, I was in those crowds. Not so much now. More comfortable to be watching it on TV. And I must admit that I do love the NFL games, also. They have their negative points, such as the outrageous salaries. Well, so do the coaches of the SEC teams. It is what it is. Then there was the controversy of taking a knee to the National Anthem. There will always be some kind of controversy, some stronger than others, but let's move on.

This is the Premier League of Football (real football, as my husband likes to say). He actually goes back in time to let me know which came first. Well, let's see, how old is the UK and how old is the US? He does have a point in that in his football, they use their feet more than in the US. Details! I will say that he is pretty much on target in the American football rules and the calls that the refs make. I have more of an average understanding of soccer. I enjoy watching it and actually believe it may be a little more civilized, in some respects. 

Moving on to another favorite thing is a manicure and or a pedicure. Just a moment of pampering can put a whole new perspective on my outlook.

Marvel comics are basically not my favorite thing, however, they are such a big part of my husband's favorite things that I have integrated some of them into my life. Some of the movies I have watched with him at the theaters, some at home on Blu-Ray. There really is no rhyme
nor reason as to my favorites or not so favorites. One of my favs is 'Spiderman,' yet I despise spiders. Peter Parker is fantastic. Next fav is most definitely 'Dead Pool.'  Why? Perhaps it is Ryan Reynolds?
 An amusing story, at least to my husband, is that I said that I would go with him to see Captain Marvel. I watched and watched, waiting for Captain Marvel to appear. When the movie was over, I just sat in disbelief. Steve asked me what was wrong. I told him that I watched a whole movie called Captain Marvel and there was no Captain Marvel in it. He calmly explained that it was Brie Larson playing Captain Marvel. CLUELESS! I don't know who Brie Larson is (except that he told me that she played Captain Marvel). And I would know this how? I think that I even watched the Avengers: Endgame and was confused when I thought it was the end of the Marvel comics and movies because they all dissipated. I have since been informed that was in Avengers: Infinity War. I believe that my point has been made that
  these are a few of my not so favorite things and that is okay. They are some of my husband's favorite things. We share well. 

This quote is by The Doctor meaning Dr. Who. There are several quotes that I remember from watching Dr. Who with Steve but this one was from one of my favorite episodes featuring Matt Smith as The Doctor. It was about time traveling with Vincent van Gogh. He was standing in an art museum featuring many of his famous paintings and the curator spoke of the genius of van Gogh, not aware that he was actually in the same room. The Doctor made this astute observation about van Gogh's life and work. Brilliant, I would say. At one point, I really got into Dr. Who and did not miss an episode with Steve. Again, I think it was based on not only the story line but the actors. It started to turn weird in my mind and became quite scary, to the point of me having nightmares, so that was the end of that. Actually, I sort of shocked myself in liking even the concept of Dr. Who for a while. Sci-fi is most definitely not on my list of favorite things.

Music, on the other hand, is most definitely one of my favorite things. There are many genres that interest me. It depends on the mood that I am in.
 Lucky for me, Steve was once a DJ and is very much into music. There are speakers in every room in our home and usually music is playing somewhere throughout the house.

Writing has always been one of my favorite things. It started as writing in journals, of which I have one for each year starting in 1997. The diaries that I wrote in before I am not sure what happened to. Maybe they will show up one day or maybe they were tossed mistakenly. Now, I love writing this blog and working on a novel that I hope will be published one day. I even have a little notebook of ideas for future books. One at a time is how my brain must stay focused. I can read two books at the same time, and have even had three going at once. This method does not work for writing. The blog and the novel is enough for this writer. With some health issues and puppies, the novel work has slowed up more than I would like but it is getting there, slowly but in my way. 

So when the dog bites or the bee stings or you are just feeling a bit down, start remembering your favorite things and just all that you have to be grateful for! It will be a real boost to your spirit, at least it is for me!