When the African Violet Blooms

When the African Violet Blooms

I got married six and a half years ago.  The day of Hurricane Earl, to be exact.  In the middle of my bouquet, was a live plant.  An African violet.  They were in all the bouquets and featured as centrepieces on the tables.  We had a wedding planner, and she put things all together for us.  We made as much as we could ourselves, but our families do not live in Fredericton, so we wanted someone else to decorate and have things ready for us.

Our parents on both sides were skeptical.  They didn’t want us wasting money for a professional, and they weren’t sure it was necessary.  I don’t know what we would have done without her!  I arrived at the church and she wrapped me up and ran me into the building without the weather ruining my wedding dress.  A true miracle worker!

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My mom and mother in law helped with the favours.  We made them ourselves.  They turned out cute as a button!

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They held the nice chocolates you get from Costco.  We put both light and dark chocolates in each one.  I worked on those squares off and on for years when I picked my colours.  When it came down to the night before the wedding, my mom took on the final push to get them all ready.  It was an impressive little army of teddy bears when they were done.

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When it came to planning the wedding, like a lot of things in my life, I decide on what I want, and then I go for it.  I made up my mind about the African violet bouquet and searched the city until I found a florist that would make it happen.  I found the pattern for the favours the same way.  I decided I liked the idea and worked on making them.  When I found my dress, I didn’t even try any dresses on at any stores.  I found THE pic of THE dress in a magazine, after going through hundreds of magazines with thousands of pictures.  I then approached a local seamstress, and she worked her magic.  She did a beautiful job of making a wedding dress for me.  Doing the things you can for your wedding makes it more economical, and gives it your own personal touch.  Local businesses like printers, bakeries, seamstresses, florists and wedding planners benefit from your special day and make the effort to do right by you, so you recommend them to your friends.  It is what they do.  Not everyone has that luck with their vendors, but we had that part covered with the wedding planner.  The only thing she didn’t handle was the weather, and we still had a lovely wedding.  It was memorable.

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Back to the bouquet, this is a picture of the trial run.  We had several African Violets on all the tables, and by the end of the reception, they had all been sent with guests to new homes.  All but one.  Mine.  I got a throwing bouquet and kept my own.  I took it apart within a few days and saved the heather, which dried nicely and lives in my guest room, in a vase, on a decorative shelf.  I replanted the violet.  It grew to quite a size in the first few years, and then it started to fade.  As long as I am alive, I want that plant to live.  It symbolizes so much.  It is a living memory of the most important day of my life.  Like a marriage, it needs to be cared for and nurtured.  I have it in a good place in my kitchen, now, and it is making a comeback.  I thought it was a goner a while ago.  So I took some time, found it a new place to live, and it is starting to thrive again.  I turn it when it leans towards the sun, and keep turning it every so often, just like watering it.  I don’t have a schedule, I just keep an eye on it, and if it seems a little wilted, I give it water.

I was pleasantly surprised this week when my husband announced there were flowers growing on it again.  He has a greener thumb than I do, so he keeps an eye on all of our plants.  His Christmas cactus is huge.  I call it the Green Monster.  It is also blooming for the second time this winter.  That plant is over 20 years old.  Someone asked me how old it was the other day.  I couldn’t really believe it was that old, but it is.  That is a chair behind it, in case you are trying to judge how large it is.

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What’s my point with this?  Well, to put it simply, if you take the time to care for your African violet, it may not always thrive, but with the right amount of nurturing, just like anything in life, it will bloom when the time is right.  It gives me great joy to see the next group of flowers reaching for the sun, and gives me hope that my marriage will continue to blossom also.

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Update:  I am currently amazed at the number of flowers on my African Violet.  The pic below was taken on June 4, 2017.

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It is the same plant as the one in the first pic in this story.  It is still making me smile!

Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story; Part 2

Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story; Part 2

 

Trust Your Gut is a series of stories about real people with weight issues, and complications arising from those issues.  It will explain what the person is facing, what their options are, what they have decided to do to take action, and why they chose the path they are on.  Each person’s story will be based on truth, so it won’t all be happy, but it will be real.  The goal of this series is to get people talking about options that are available for people who have weight issues, on either end of the scale.  If you would like to contribute to this series, there is a contact form linked on my Homepage for this blog.  I know there are people out there that want to help people like them; as I do.

The names here may or may not reflect the person’s real name.  If someone wants to remain unknown, we will choose a different name for that person’s story.  The goal is to help people, and anonymity is a valid personal choice for contributors.  I will use a person’s name only if they give permission to do so.

Here is Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story; Part 2.

It seems fitting that in part 2, I write about Type 2.  I touched on it a little in the first part of my story, and now it is time to elaborate.  I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic in 1999.  At first, I was to eliminate sugar from my diet and try to follow the Canada Food Guide. Sugar is hidden in practically everything we eat and drink.  Especially in processed foods. Without medication, and struggling to understand the diagnosis, I failed to regain control of my blood sugars.  At first, I was constantly testing my blood sugars as high.  Not the highest they have been, but consistently high.

After failing round one, using diet and exercise for treatment, metformin was added to manage my blood sugars. It came with a cocktail of other medications.  As a diabetic, when you are diagnosed, some medical professionals consider preventative medications a  necessary part of the treatment.  They add in medicine that you would not be taking if you were not a diabetic, but because you are, they keep stricter than normal levels on things like blood pressure and cholesterol.  Soon I was taking 3 prescription medications, and not sure if I really needed 2 of them.

I have acid reflux.  Sometimes I forget about it because the medication I take for it keeps it under really good control.  There were a few different types I tried, and I am still taking one medication for this.  It works and keeps the heartburn and stomach acid at bay.  I don’t generally eat really spicy foods, but who knew bananas could cause heartburn?  So, this, like my thyroid medication is an acceptable one.  I did not agree with having to take the blood pressure and cholesterol medications, but these other medications were acceptable.

Now, with my weight being what it is, I am still on a blood pressure medication.  It has been higher than it used to be, and I am working on things with my plan.  I am not currently on a cholesterol medication.  I hope that I can control both my blood pressure and cholesterol, without medicine;  when I accomplish my goals of losing weight.  This will impact all areas of my health.  If I can be healthy enough to not have to take anything but the thyroid pill, that would be worth all the work.

Now that I am working on a plan for my health, I am eating less carbohydrates, and it is having a big effect on my blood sugars.  I am on a low carb;  not a no carb plan.  I am becoming very sensitive to both sugar, and my insulin.  I am having what feels like extreme highs, and more lows.  I am new to treating the lows and am learning not to panic and overtreat them.  So when I have a low, I have to reevaluate the amount of insulin I am taking.  It is on what is called a sliding scale.  I am not always sure I am taking the right amounts, but when my body responds positively to the food and insulin, I do feel better.

I used to feel very tired when my sugars were high.  I still do,  to a lesser extent.  Even when they are higher, it is not as easy as it used to be to figure it out.  I am not as sluggish when I take insulin.  I do have insulin resistance.  My body still makes it, but it is not being used properly, or there is not enough being produced by my pancreas.  That is why I am taking insulin.  My body needs the help.  There is a chance that I won’t need it someday if I keep working towards a healthier lifestyle.  That is something to strive for, and the fact that I have to lower my insulin doses tells me that it is a strong possibility.

I also have what is called Dawn Phenomenon.  Some diabetics have an increase in blood sugars overnight.  It is generally thought that it is the body’s way of preparing for the new day, and the extra sugar in the blood is to help you wake up.  In diabetics, it can put your sugars up before you even have anything to eat at the start of your day.  It is harder to be alert and to focus when your blood sugars are high.  I am now in the habit of testing my sugars more frequently, and this is helpful.  My doctor advised adjusting the long-acting insulin at nighttime as this may help to manage the higher sugars in the mornings.  I have a feeling that I am going to have to become a lot more serious about it and start a food, blood sugar and insulin diary to really get a handle on it.

When my sugars are low, it is still obvious to me.  I get shaky.  I get really confused, it is hard to think, it is like I am in panic mode.  I freak out a little. I sweat profusely out of my scalp, of all places, when I am awake.  At night I notice my legs are where I sweat when I am having a low.  Luckily, I wake up when it is happening.  Also, the frequent trips to the washroom usually have me up through the night.  So if I am up, and I feel off, I test to be sure about where my sugars are.  I have started keeping juice boxes with me at all times, and hard candy.  I am learning how to live with type 2 diabetes.  It is not an easy thing to figure out.  Not enough insulin allows my sugars to go high.  Too much can cause a low, and if my sugars get too low, that can be fatal.  I usually take a  lower dose of insulin if I am not sure how I am going to react to how much insulin I am taking.  I am cautious about taking large doses, but sometimes they are necessary.  Type 2 Diabetes is not an easy disease to live with it, but management is the key, and I am on the right track.

I am obsessed with food and addicted to sugar.  I am working on both of these issues and changing my habits along the way.  I was thinking about how to go about starting this series when I chose the name.  Yes, there are other meanings of the phrase Trust Your Gut, but to me, my world revolves around my emotions, food and my health.  They all tie together in my life, so when it comes to my health, I have to trust my gut.  Am I hungry or bored?  Will that affect my sugars if I eat it?  How much insulin do I need to take if I want to eat that?  All of these things factor into my decisions, and a lot of the time, I am guessing.  So, I go with my gut feelings a lot in my day.  Sometimes I listen, and sometimes I don’t.  I am the only one in control of what I eat, and how much of it I eat.  Sometimes I have the willpower to avoid bad choices.  Other times I give in and have what I want.  I used to feel like I shouldn’t eat at all if my sugars were high before I started taking insulin.  Now I can juggle the dose to accommodate for both good and poor choices in terms of food.  I hate having to think about the consequences of everything I eat, but it is a fact of my life, and I decide how I want to live it.  Working towards living a healthier lifestyle is something I am glad I decided to do.  I am still here, and my gut tells me to keep on this plan and it will work, so I am giving it my best shot.  Pun intended.
#TrustYourGut

 

His and Hers Shopping on Superbowl Sunday

His and Hers Shopping on Superbowl Sunday

It struck me funny today when we went to a local hardware store for some home improvement items and odds and ends that by the time we left, we each had our own shopping carts.  My husband had a short list, of exactly what he needed for his project.  He is working on the man cave, and it’s his thing, so I have no worries about it at all.  He is installing a shelf between two bookcases for the TV to be on the shelf.  It is not a large TV, and it shouldn’t be too heavy for what he wants to do.  He thought we would be only gone for an hour.

I wanted cube storage shelves.  It was another weekend where the gumption wasn’t there to keep working on the cleaning, and we just got the new headboard installed yesterday.  Bye bye milk crates, I’m a grown up now.  It is curious to me that it is designed to be an inch or so above the floor.  It is nice.  When my room is all clean and neat, maybe I will take a picture.

So off we went to the hardware store.  His list involved getting wood cut to his required lengths for his project.  I wandered.  One of the employees saw me going up and down the middle aisle, and asked if he could help.  I replied, “Nope.  I just hope my husband comes back to find me at some point.”  He hoped so too.  I don’t think he really knew what to say.  I get that reaction from people sometimes.  It’s OK, I am used to it.

I found my shelving unit, but it was too heavy for me to get into the cart.  I found collapsible fabric cubes, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  Then I found the cutest plastic bins that have an aqua pattern on them, with white.  And they were on sale!  That sold it for me.  While I was wandering, I found the sliding cupboard drawer inserts for organizing the cupboards, and one for pots and pans.  We can’t afford everything all at once, those are on a wish list. We may find a more affordable solution if we keep looking.

I also found a wall art display for just clipping pictures on.  It is exactly what I have wanted for YEARS to hang various postcards on as an art display.  It found its way into my shopping cart.  At this point, I found my husband, and he had his supplies.  I showed him what I was able to find, and he lifted the white 9 square cube shelving unit box into my cart.

By the time we were done, I had decided to go to the next store also.  I wanted a cleaner they carried.  I also got a desk drawer organizer, which I am in desperate need of, it is scary in there.  I got a magnet stick from the canning supplies to fish out the mason jar lids that vacuum seal to the plug in my kitchen sink, and the cleaning product I wanted.  He had time to go to the dollar store for a pop and the frame I needed there for something I printed earlier that needs a frame.

We then ran to two different grocery stores to pick up a few things, and then to a restaurant for take out.  Our one hour errand was three hours long.  It was Superbowl Sunday, after all.  I am not the biggest football fan. I watch it every year, and I enjoy the commercials and the halftime show.  My friend is the biggest Little Monster I know, and he wasn’t going to be able to go to his other friend’s house to see the halftime show.  So I recorded it and drove over to get him.  Nobody enjoyed it more than he did, and we had fun watching it.  More than once.  We discussed the song choices, all great, and the outfits and the whole presentation.  We agreed that it was an awesome halftime show, and Lady Gaga did a phenomenal job.  I loved her entrance, and the exit was perfect.  I did sense a Bowie influence in her first costume, and that was fitting for her to still pay him tribute in that small way.  He was a big influence in a lot of musicians lives, and she has performed his music in remembrance to him.  I liked that choice.  My friend also pointed out that in the last song, the group of dancers moved to be in the shape of a football.  I saw the helmets, but that never dawned on me, until he said it.  Overall, I think it may be one of my favourite halftime shows, and they are always good.  Here is a selfie with Lady Gaga, my friend, and me.

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It was a close game, and the Patriots came back to win it in overtime.  So for the fans, I am sure the game was a big hit this year.  Whomever they choose to play the Halftime show next year has some mighty big sparkly boots to fill.

All in all it was another productive weekend.  We got some chores done, even if it wasn’t progress on the kitchen, it is progress.  Sometimes you need to take the detour to get to where you really needed to go in the first place.

Sometimes my guts have an overactive imagination

Sometimes my guts have an overactive imagination

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Trust your gut.  Your intuition.  We have all heard it.  This is supposed to be how we protect ourselves.  Being half Scottish, superstitions are in my bones.  As a child, I had foreseen my grandfather picking me up after school one day.  It wasn’t something that was ordinary, or planned for me by my parents; that I was aware of.  So when I saw his truck after school,  imagine my surprise when it was my uncle in my grandfather’s truck.  It was all legit, nothing bad happened.  My parents were unable to be home when the bus would drop me off, so they made alternate arrangements.

Premonitions.  I can say this was the first time I had one.  It wasn’t the last.  Sometimes I dream things up before they happen.  Other times, a stray thought turns from what if into a reality.  So there is a foundation for the thought at the start.  My gut does perceive things, and they turn out to be close to the truth, if not the truth before it happens.

So when do you know that your senses are misfiring?  At the risk of sounding a little off center, I have asked.  When I am second guessing myself, that is when I know it is time to see if I am being rational or irrational.  Most times I am over reacting.  So I am now learning that if I am wondering if I am being rational or not, usually I am not.  I have a big loud feeling that something bad is going to happen, and a little tiny feeling of maybe I am over reacting as well.  So now I have to try and find the correct feeling if the spidey sense goes off.  Better safe then sorry, when it comes to personal safety, but in relation to social or work doubts, it turns out that is usually what they are.  Not actual warnings of anything that is dangerous, but my overactive imagination; my own doubts.

When I have the wrong kind of gut feeling, it is hard to stomp it out.  It causes panic and over sensitivity too.  Those things are not productive, and the little doubts fan the flames.  I have to rationally calm down the irrational doubts.  Not an easy thing to do.  But necessary, for functioning in everyday life.

Having other things to focus on helps.  Diving into a book, or work, or a TV show can steer the panic away.  Diversion is a useful tool.  As long as it is not something that interrupts what needs to happen for life to continue on as it needs to do.  If I can’t shake it, things get worse before they get better.  Anxiety attacks are not nice.  I have had some when I didn’t understand what was happening.  That is scary.  When I realize what is happening, I am able to calm down.  When I don’t, they escalate.  That is bad news.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and when I get worked up about something, it usually bubbles over somewhere in my day.  This is hard to explain, sometimes, as I can get angry or upset, and have difficulty verbalizing what is wrong.  There have been times when I am so upset that there is a physical reaction that prevents me from talking, a feeling like my throat is closing off.  It is hard to deal with other people when that happens, but I always bounce back.  It is what I do.

The first time I had a panic attack, I did not know what was happening.  I was hyperventilating, and close to fainting.  What did I do?  I called my Mom.  I was in another province at the time, and on day 9 of being a Nanny for 3 girls aged 10 and under.  Their parents were on another continent looking for a new home.  I was in the suburbs of Toronto, and on day 9 of 10 days alone with the girls, the reality and responsibility caught up with me. It was all a little too much for me to comprehend.  Thankfully, there was a relative of the girls nearby, and she gave me a break.  She sent me to the mall.  I calmed down after that and a beer.  I was legally able to drink that beer, being 19 or 20 years old at the time.

Not knowing what was happening was scary.  It was a while before I had another one, and because I do not have them frequently, I can miss the warning signs because I am not always on guard.  When I figure out what is happening, I can usually calm myself down.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Some people aren’t able to calm down without medication.  I am lucky that I can, and sympathize with anyone who goes through panic attacks that can’t calm down by themselves.  It is not anyone’s fault if they have panic attacks.  They happen.  People have to find coping strategies to deal with them, so they can function day to day.  What can you do if someone you know suffers from this?  Listen to them.  Sometimes that is the best thing that you can do.  Offering to help with a daunting task is also a good choice, if they are open to accepting your assistance.  Mostly support in whatever way you can, and in a way that they say is OK.  People that have panic attacks are still people, and helping a friend is never a bad thing, as long as they are able to accept what you want to do.  Taking over is not the way to go, that may make them feel like they are not capable of what they are trying to do, and even though you might feel better, they may not.  In this type of situation, you want your friend to feel like they can accomplish things, and by asking what you can do, you are helping.  Even if they decline your help, they know you care, and you want to help.  Sometimes that is all you can do, and all that is necessary.

It is important for your friend to know that you support them, so that they can do what they need to do to find their way out of the attack.  Don’t brush it off, or make light of what they are feeling.  It is real for them, I know.  It was real for me.  If they push you away, give them space, but keep checking on them.  Call, bring them a coffee, or take them out for one.  Little things can be big if they are done from your heart.  It can make the difference between the worst day ever, or the best friend that helps you feel better about yourself.  The world needs more people that want to be good friends.  So do what feels right, and hope for the best.  It will mean the world to your friend if you let them know you support them, however they let you.  Be the best friend you can be, and it will matter.  You can make a difference.  You may never know how big of an impact you are in someone else’s life, so make the effort.  You can’t fix everything, but you can help by being a good friend.

I think I Zumba-(ed) too hard

I think I Zumba-(ed) too hard

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Here is another Tish-ism for you.  In my efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, I have added in two Zumba classes a week.  I do my best to be there, barring migraines and having to stay late at work once in a blue moon, I go.  Living in Canada, sometimes weather is an issue.  I am working on getting more active besides my Zumba classes, but for now, it’s my main activity every week.  Winter + Ice = Tish is scared to fall down.  So outdoor activities are not a thing for me in the winter, without the proper equipment.

I had a good amount of positive energy today,  and feel like my pedometer lied when it read 3700 steps.  It felt like a million tonight, at least.  I was in the Zumba Zone, and was literally working my butt off.  I know what that means.  When I go back to class Wednesday, I will be moving a little slower, and maybe in a little pain.  The good kind.  The kind of pain that is caused from exercise that was done correctly.  It also  means I worked out my muscles, and that I wasn’t just going through the motions.

At the end of a class, when I feel like this, the first thing that comes to mind is that I Zumba-(ed) too hard.

I don’t like pain.  I don’t deal with it very well.  Lately I have successfully convinced myself that there is a right kind of pain, and a wrong kind.  The right kind means that your muscles worked out and did what they were supposed to do.  That is why it is good, it was productive, no matter how bad it hurts.  It is neither throbbing, nor a high amount of pain.  The bad kind is counter productive.  If you rip or pull a muscle, it hurts a lot.  I pulled a ligament in one of my legs in elementary school.  I was mid-stride and went from running to limping and crying.  I had to wrap it and got a few days off from school.  I still remember how much it hurt when it happened.  I do not recommend trying this, ever.

No matter what is going on, I have come to enjoy going to Zumba.  I love dancing.  Sometimes it is not the same as what everyone else is doing, but I am still being active, no matter what I have to improvise.  That is important.

So when I was in the middle of class today, I really felt like I was completely in my Zumba Zone, and I went for it.  There are going to be days that I am not feeling up to giving 120% to the Zumba class.  Today was not one of those days.  I felt strong.  When things work for me, I am all in.  I left feeling like I had worked out today.  That is a big deal.  I am not an athletic type of person.  I do enjoy swimming, and dancing.  Biking is OK, but I haven’t had a bike for years. It’s the same for skating, I used to skate, but haven’t for years.  I walk, and I am starting to pick up my pace again when I have errands to run in the mall where I work, or even just for moving to the break room.  I sometimes feel my heart rate picking up, and even am short of breath when I push myself.

What am I getting at?  Well, there are days when you feel good and strong, and on those days like today, it is a good plan to push yourself a little bit harder.  If you do this, on the days you don’t feel up to the 120% and you aren’t in YOUR Zumba Zone, well, on those days 75% is OK.  You are doing the best you can.  For me it’s all about how I am feeling, and I know my limits.  I don’t think I am to the point I was about six months ago when I could feel my abdominal muscles the next day, but I am on my way back.  By the time the weather changes from winter to spring, I plan to be increasing my activity level.  When I am ready.  And when there is no more ice out there.  Until then, I’ll keep going to Zumba, I don’t have any plans to stop for a long time to come.