Category Archives: Health

September 2020- What a Month so Far

Good afternoon, all. Jillian here. This will be short as I am still not feeling up to par. Sorry I haven’t been around to comment on all the posts. I promise to read them as soon as I can focus my brain for more than 10 minutes at a time.

We went down to Maitland, Fl (a suburb of Orlando) to visit the son and daughter-in-law near the end of August. They bought a mid-century house there and basically gutted it to renovate. They’ve been diligently working on it since April. The old screened in porch was rotting in places and there was a big masonry grill/fireplace out there as well. My husband volunteered to help tear down the fire thing and also to replace the wood on the porch before they got a new pool enclosure.

We didn’t go anywhere once we got there, but did stop got gas and other needs on the almost 7 hour drive. We were super careful and took Lysol wipes with us. One of the places we stopped for gas, I went in and got some peanut butter crackers. When we came out, I turned to my husband and said, “If I get Covid, it will be because of this place.” I laughed.

That was on Thursday., the 21st of August. All was well until Saturday, August 29 when i felt a bit weak. By Monday, the 31st, I was so sick I could barely hold my eyes open. When I could, I frantically googled Covid symptoms. I didn’t really seem to have any- other than feeling like I had the flu. Being the paranoid person I am, I finally broke down and had the test. It came back as “No Covid Deteccted” so I was very relieved. I still feel a bit weak and blah, but I am better than I was even three days ago, so I hope to keep improving until I feel 100% again. I also won’t be making jokes about Covid-prone places…..and staying close to home.

Stay healthy, friends.

Take Time to Smell the Roses

As most of you are possibly aware, we love our little bit of paradise that is our garden. It’s our hobby, refuge, vegetable patch and, where we spend many happy hours among the flowers, tubs and hanging baskets. Yes, it’s time-consuming to look after, but we never consider it work and the rewards are endless. Apart from watering, weeding, deadheading, lawn mowing, planting, planning, seed buying, potting on etc, we always make time to sit back, relax and enjoy the whole, no only when the sun shines, but through rain, hail, gales and snow from indoors, when I can sit for many hours (and often do!) watching from my bedroom window.

However, it is more than the plants in our patch that brings pleasure. It’s observing the wildlife that also shares our efforts. Birds squabbling over the seed feeders. Sparrows cueing for the birdbath, often playing “let’s see how many of us can bathe at once today”.

Over recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to be watching at the right time to see  Mr & Mrs Blackbird having an early morning dip before strutting around the lawn looking for breakfast. A greater spotted woodpecker who drops in sometimes for a peanut feast – I never realised how small this bird is – the same size as the blackbird. The nuthatch, a small, shy, blueish bird that also likes the nuts, as do the great tits and blue tits who nest in my neighbour’s holly tree. And always robins; often two or three bobbing around the garden or sitting on the fence waiting for that right moment to jump down and enjoy the mealworms I put out on the flowerbeds. The rare visit of a kingfisher (my favourite bird). And best of all, these past two years goldfinches have looked upon my garden as an all-day restaurant, so I always ensure there are plenty of nyger seeds and sunflower hearts for them, which the other birds love too.

But it’s more than the birds. Always we have of frogs, large and small, loads of tiny young ones no bigger than a fingernail when they first venture out. One large fellow lives permanently in the greenhouse, another in the frog pond – a flat-sided planter among the flowers.

Every year we have field mice, beautiful creatures that mop up the dropped birdseed, becoming almost tame and not scampering away the instant they see us. There’s slowworms too – lovely legless lizards people often mistake for snakes, which they’re not. These nest and hatch their young in the compost bin and in summer are frequently seen slithering among the undergrowth or across the lawn to seek shade.

Not forgetting the bees galore! This year has seen an explosion of them in the garden thanks to a large lavender bush that’s exceeded my expectation. They love it, along with the dahlias, poppies, daisies and cosmos we grow. And I mustn’t forget the caterpillars and butterflies, although this year we haven’t seen as many as usual, but that’s the nature of nature.

 

The garden is and always has been our lifeline, a calm oasis where we can forget the troubles of the world. It keeps us fit. It always makes us smile, brings happiness and joy. And long may we be able to continue that enjoyment.

Regardless of how busy or difficult your world might be, always make time, no matter how short, to stop and observe the world around you. Listen to the birds singing, and make the effort when and where you can to smell the roses or the carnations, or the lilies, honeysuckle or lavender. It’ll be well worth it for the good feelings it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Going at your own speed…

So, I had a pretty lazy weekend and spent most of it catching up on reading and watching TV.  That’s not the norm for me, but I felt my energy levels needed a recharge.

Something I did notice while watching lifestyle shows, was that they all seem to be time-sensitive. I saw programmes on how to renovate a house in a weekend, plant a garden from scratch in a day, and cook up a feast for twelve in under two hours (okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the gist). Participants are put under enormous pressure to stick to the time limit.

It seems that everywhere we look there’s a pressure to do things fast. Even the writers among us aren’t immune. There’s write a book in a weekend, plan a seven-part series in one evening, or release a book every month (or a week in some cases) if you want to be really successful.  Okay, most of us see this for what it is and do our own thing (thank goodness), but the inherrent pressure (which is often subconscious) can sometimes be debilitating.

We all bloom at different speedsThis pressure to do everything fast can lead to a kind of comparison-itis. That feeling that if we’re not doing things as fast as our peers we’re slacking off. If we can’t renovate our garden in record time, or write 12,000 words a day, we’re somehow less-than those who are doing these things.

I’m a plodder, always have been. It takes me a while to plan, to think around things – whether it’s what colours to use in that new garden bed I’m planning, or the names of the characters in the new book I’m outlining. For me, that thinking process and having the time to sift around ideas and possibilities is a huge part of the fun. As a writer I like to spend days getting to know the characters, researching the setting, and any one of the other myriad things that go into developing a story. My characters become real to me, and I think a big part of that is spending so much time with them. I’m not sure I’d get the same satisfaction if I was banging out books at record speed.

I realise not everyone is like me and some people can write really fast and publish very regularly. I’m certainly not saying that quality is affected by speed either, and I could name several writers I love who write super fast and their books are great. Part of me envies them, but at the same time I’m not about to beat myself up for doing it differently.

What about you? Do you like doing projects fast? Or do you prefer taking your time?

Update on George

I thought it time I brought you the latest news and update on Little George, who’s almost 13 years old now and definitely not little. He’s turning into a very handsome young man.

It’s hard to believe it was 7 years ago when all the family were busy crowdfunding to raise the money to send my nephew’s son, who was born with cerebral palsy, to St Louis in the USA for an SDR operation. An operation that was a success but it later transpired he had misaligned hips too. Consequently, he had to undergo major surgery again to correct the problem. You may recall the photo of him with a metal frame pinned through his body.

Last year, after 5 years of 3-monthly trips to the Bristol Children’s Hospital, major hip surgery, an incredibly tough rehab, setbacks and a pretty worrying time all round, in yet another operation, all the metalwork in his body was successfully removed. His hips had recovered 100%, his left leg completely healed, and a perfect hip Xray for the first time. At last, he had a good range of movement, leaving his surgeon and his parents very happy, especially being told George should never need any more surgery. It was the best news ever for his parents.

Let’s be fair, he and his parents have endured an incredible amount over these 12+ years. A lot of worry, a lot of expense, and a lot of hard work on all three’s behalf with the constant physio George needs. And that help will be needed for life.

But George always amazes us. He rarely complains, he pushes himself as hard as he can as he so wants to be able to walk and be as independent as he can be given the circumstance. He loves his little sister, enjoys jokes, playing games, teasing and having fun, like any child. He enjoys school and has lots of friends but along came lockdown.

He struggled with it at first, like all teenagers missing his friends, the play and the fun, the lessons. And his parents miss his carer. He’s a big lad and heavy to lift now and needs a lot of help, so his parents have had their work cut out. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, but my niece tells me he’s now coping well and still the happy, giggly George we so love.

He’s settled down to doing his schoolwork at home, usually with his little sister sitting at the table helping him. But he does miss surfing, which he loves, always going into hysterics whenever he has a wipe-out, and can’t wait to go again.

 

And he missed his outings to his favourite restaurant where he always has his favourite meal including a hot chocolate. I was delighted to hear last week that he could finally meet up with his PA, who took him there for lunch, and guess what he ordered? His favourite, oh, and a hot chocolate! So for him, and the rest of us, life is slowly getting a little normality back.

George and his family live in a lovely part of the North Devon coast, which has meant they have been able to have many pleasurable secluded walks but because of being home all the time, not being able to have his regular physio sessions, and due to the fact that he has grown so much, his legs are stiff, making his walking extra hard work. What doesn’t help is that he’s also outgrown his trike which allowed him some independence, and he’s now in urgent need of a new one.

A Tomcat Bullet has been trialled. George loved it as he is unable to ride a standard bicycle. For the first time since hip surgery he was able to peddle independently. A huge achievement for him. You can imagine the huge smile on his face. But like all things like this, it doesn’t come cheap, and with his parents being furloughed, money is tight. Charities here in the UK have been approached, but because of Covid, they are not accepting applications. But not to beaten, the family are crowdfunding again in order to buy one. The benefit of this trike is it grows with him up to a maximum size of 6’2″ meaning he shouldn’t need another one after this. We’ve still a long way to go, but we’ll get there. And no doubt, sister Daisy will enjoy rides on it too.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Blessings

First of all, a belated happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and sane day/evening.

This shelter-in-place has been both a struggle and a blessing. Staying home so much has been hard, being someone who likes to travel. We are not going through what some people are, and we’ve tried to help where we could. I know we’re lucky to be able to wait out this virus until they have a way to prevent it. But that doesn’t mean my head and heart aren’t a little screwed up. I have dips into depression that I have to claw my way out of. This hasn’t been easy for any of us and I’ve been trying to journal the process for me, as well as what I see happening in the world.

On the flip side, one of the ways I’ve tried to keep myself positive is finishing things on my to-do list. I wrote about the 30 year crocheted baby blanket a couple months ago. I’ve also designed and made birthday cards for the rest of 2020. I finished an art project – monthly door signs. I’ve been digitizing all our family movies that are on VHS tapes. Sorting through things in closets. Paring down.

I’ve also been completing some series. In books, I finally finished the 20 book Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. (That’s a HIGH recommend from me for any romance readers.) And, more recently, I finished the 22 movies in the Avengers series, from Iron Man (2008) through Endgame (2019). (And yes, I cried.)

I think I’ve had more contact with friends and family than ever before through video chats.

And I’ve learned that I don’t have to be go, go, going all day long. It’s okay to take a break and read for a while. To slow down on my daily walk and “smell the roses,” so to speak.

To laugh with my husband.

So there are a lot of blessings in my life. And if I can’t travel right now, so be it. What I can do is pray for the world. So I’m praying and counting my blessings.

I hope there are many blessings in your life.

Stay safe, stay healthy!

 

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Life in the Slow Lane

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Well, that was a slow month! And not because of lockdown either. Strange times, but the restrictions in place haven’t impacted on us as much as it might on others. For Dave and me this is our usual way of … Continue reading

April Stress…Aren’t We All Stressed?

Jillian here. Happy?!? April. I’m sure we’re all worried about our loved ones and trying to keep ourselves safe and healthy. I know a lot of people are tired of being on lock down, but sadly, that isn’t me. I wish I could be home, but my profession is considered essential. If anything, my life is more hectic now than it was before- and add in the worries about elderly parents and friends- I’ve found myself in panic mode more than once. I have to  make an effort to breathe slow and settle down. I have a bad worry habit and it’s hard to let go and let God. I hate being a control freak, but I am and when things are out of my ability to control, I fret and sometimes say things I shouldn’t. Perhaps we all do that.

I feel tired all the way to my bones.  Not sick, but just weary.

We lost my dad’s younger brother (76) in mid-March- he had COPD and was cleaning his house with bleach and was found unresponsive in his bathroom and passed away four hours later. He will be very missed. My family is super close and we have a hole now where he was. My dad and he talked all the time and it’s been hard on Dad.

A dear friend lost her mother (78) – who I adored- she was a sweet, sweet lady full of love and laughter- she also had COPD. Neither have been counted as Co-vid deaths, but it’s odd that they both had respiratory issues and passed away in March- no autopsies for either. No funerals. My cousins got to see their dad but my friend didn’t get to see her mom. It’s incredibly sad.

Three out of the four people who work at my office live at my house so we’re def. isolating and staying away from others. We aren’t seeing any live appointments and documents are being left outside for us to bring in. The new normal?  Hopefully, not forever.

Now that I’ve depressed everyone, Here’s a picture of my sweet grandson, Benjamin, to make you smile. He is my heart.

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A Time for…Projects!

Okay, these are strange times, aren’t they? I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Here in the UK, the weather this week has been a great help – sunny, sometimes warm, and it feels very springlike. So we’ve been making the most of it with coffee-breaks in the garden, followed by a bit of weeding and pottering, and even sitting and catching up with some reading.

20200324_120656Of course, Vivvy loves having us around all the time, and she’s enjoying walks with both of us rather than just mostly AJ. Like her mum, she’s a summer baby and is never happier than lounging in the sun. She loves the water, too, and can find a stream or muddy puddle at a thousand paces. Strangely, she won’t go near the little paddling pool we bought for her and eyes it like it’s going to pounce and attack her. It’s so funny watching her circumnavigate the offending pool with a beady eye and at a very safe distance.

IMG-20200324-WA0000I thought this cartoon was so appropriate for these times, especially since AJ is incredibly gregarious and when he says he’s taking Vivvy for a walk and will only be an hour or so, I know to basically double it because he’ll find someone to talk to along the way.

Like most people, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I’d like to accomplish during quarantine and here’s a list of some of the projects I have in mind:

  1. Redesign and re-plant one area of the garden
  2. Clear out wardrobes and cupboards
  3. Declutter the garage
  4. Take an online writing course I’ve been wanting to do for ages
  5. Finish writing a new romance series that has been on the backburner for way too long

I’m sure they’ll be a few more things to add, but that’s basically what I’d like to accomplish.

So, over to you. What are you planning to do during this period? What projects are you going to undertake/finish?

Maybe, when this is over, we can all share how much we’ve achieved 🙂

Stay safe everyone. Sending huge cyber hugs…

Getting Creative in the Kitchen…

Okay, so inspired by a good friend I’ve taken a long, hard look at my chocolate addiction. I think she’d been a little concerned that lately at our coffee meet-ups I’ve been choosing hot chocolate instead of a cappuccino, and enjoying a chocolate muffin to go with it. Plus, there are two squares of dark chocolate I treat myself to during the evening, and *whisper* the odd (okay, more than odd) choccie bar I grab during the day.

Anyhoo, to cut a long telling-off very short, she suggested some easy ways to swap up my choccie addiction. Apparently, I can still have the two squares of dark chocolate (Yay!) but have to add way more vegetables and good stuff and ditch the rubbish.

So, I dug out the juicer/blender my mum bought me last Christmas and got to work with what I had in the kitchen. Most people know I’m not a great kitchen creative, in fact, I go there as little as possible. Thankfully, I have a husband who loves to cook and prepare meals, so at least we don’t starve. He never tires of telling people the story about a friend who popped in before Christmas one year and told him to put my pressie somewhere I’d never look and he said he’d put it in the oven because I never went there! Charming!

My first attempt at blending via set recipe was okay, but nothing that would keep me far away from the choccie. So I thought I’d just throw in things I had in the cupboard. It’s been working pretty well and so far my favorite is this one:

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A couple of handfuls of Spinach
Carrot
Half an Avocado
Banana
Cinnamon
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar/Lime Juice/Apple Juice

Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good (much better than it looks). Now, I just need to give it a name 🙂

How about you? Do you juice or blend? Have any favorite recipes?

 

 

February Fun and a Bit of Sadness

Jillian here.  I was going to get this post done on the 6th and set it to go off on the 9th like I am supposed to but since I wanted to write about what I had going on the weekend of the 7-9, I figured I’d wait until I got home and share what happened. When I got home, I posted a picture on FaceBook and then was hurt and sad and lost all motivation to post about what had been a wonderful weekend.  Back to that in a second.

Friday night, I was happy to serve as a judge for the Regional session of the National Moot Court competition. It’s hosted by my law school and since I’d already committed to a book signing on Saturday with some friends in Alabama, it made sense to volunteer to do this as well as I’d be in the area (about a 3.5 hour drive from home).

It was a great competition and seeing these law students be so passionate and competent about the fact scenario they were assigned was wonderful. The law schools are doing an excellent job teaching advocacy. When I was in law school (In the dark ages) we didn’t do moot court until our last semester. Some of these students were second year and very well-versed in how to try a case. Makes me proud of the changes in legal education.

The next day was the book signing. It was the last event I’ll be part of in RWA. My membership expires in March and I won’t be renewing. I’d have resigned but I had this event with ladies I love and treasure so I stayed for it. I hate to leave the Birmingham, Ala chapter but I can’t countenance what is going on in the national organization.

I sold some books, met some new readers, someone who used to work for me here in Pensacola who moved up there, and also some old friends. My sister-in-law and her daughter live up that way and they came to see me as well. It was lovely for them to be there and supportive and buy a copy of each book I had.

Here comes the sad part:

One of the other authors took a photo of my sis-in-law, my niece and me.  I usually don’t allow pictures of myself as I am embarrassed about my weight. I never had an issue until my second child was born and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose. It’s even worse since I had my hysterectomy. I beat myself up every day about it. I am hungry a lot of the time- I don’t snack- I eat my three meals – even my son says he can’t figure out the issue since I don’t eat a lot.

Against my better judgment, I posted that picture on FaceBook. A woman I’ve known since I was a little kid commented with a rose emoji at first.  Then she must’ve thought about it a minute and came back with “You’re still pretty even though you’re fluffy.”

I can’t even imagine saying that to someone. Believe me, I know I’m fat. I see myself in the mirror every day- I am always beating myself up about it. I sure don’t need her pointing it out. I was so hurt, I couldn’t even think the rest of the day. I cried off and on- silently – and even almost didn’t eat dinner- which was just grilled pork and a cob of corn. I am still sad today. I’m embarrassed enough without someone calling me out on it. I want to hide. All the time.

I’ve always been a happy person with a love of laughter. I hate that she stole my joy. I can’t get her words out of my head.  All I keep hearing is, “You’re fat but still pretty.”

Guess what? I don’t feel very pretty.