Faith Meets Pizza

I’m getting lunch out and in walks an older man who kinda looked like an eagle, respectful, but guarded. He’s wearing a Don’t Mess with Texas t-shirt. He places his order. They ask for a name for the order. He grumpily tells them ‘guy in the Texas shirt.’ He then slammed a heavy bag down on the counter so hard it pushed their register back and paid for his food, and got mad when the ice machine was broken for his free cup of water.

He sits down for maybe 3 minutes before he starts pacing. This is a pizza place. It takes up to 15 minutes to make them because they are not those thin rapid fire things. He asks how much a bottled soda costs and grumbles at the answer. Then paces some more.

Finally, he gets his order and complains that he could have gone to Oklahoma in the time it took. Six minutes had passed since his soda tirade.

He sits down to eat. I was gonna buy him a drink since he was trying to eat pizza and wings dry, and I got my food free cause I’m connected on the inside, but Mr. Eagle was glaring at me something fierce when I turned around. I have no idea why. I’d been there long before him, so he couldn’t tell that they know me there.

When I got up to leave, I had to walk by him to throw away my trash. He was reading and highlighting a study Bible, and had several other faith based books out as well. He looked kind of scary, though.

I’m thinking I should just throw my trash away and go. I’m also thinking maybe this surly man just needs someone to treat him better than he treated the employees of this pizza place. I’m thinking of all the nasty attitudes at my own restaurant job.

I’m looking at this man’s worn leather covered Bible and his notebook and his selection of multi colored highlighters. I take in his copy of Jesus Calling. I think of what my good friend Jan would do. This woman is rock solid in a faith that’s been tested way more than it should. I’m 100% convinced her guidance in my life put my own journey to faith on the fast track. Jan would buy the man a drink. Jan would at least have a friendly hello as she walked by the man.

What did I do? Say hi? Throw away my trash and go? Buy the man a soda? Yup. I brought the man a soda. After I dropped all my trash on the floor right in front of his table.

Klutziness for the win! Mr. Eagle started to grumble at me. I wasn’t having any of that. I’d had enough of bad attitudes at work the day before, and there’s just no reason to act so ugly.

With as much grace as I could muster, I picked up my trash and apologized to the man, kind of. I look him in his eyes and say, “I’m so sorry to have interrupted your reading, sir. I hope you learn something that heals that bad attitude of yours in those books you’re reading.”

The man was silent. The whole restaurant was suddenly silent, even though there was only me, the man and the employees in the building. Then the man laughed, a belly deep kind of laugh, and said, “Spunky one, ain’t ya? Just like my granddaughter.”

It wasn’t what I expected. I hear God and Jan cheering me on in my head, plus I love a good story. I walk the rest of the way to the trash can with my trash, toss it, go to the register, buy a Coke and a bottle of water, go back to the man’s table and sit down with the drinks. I give him the Coke and he laughs again.

He closes his Bible and looks me square in the eyes. I’m still a little scared, but hey, God and spunk got me this far, so I look back. He tells me that one year ago today his wife and granddaughter were killed when a drunk driver crossed that yellow line. He tells me that he was sorry he acted so grumpy and that he’d apologize to the restaurant staff too.

I’ve always liked talking to strangers, but this whole exchange took some God fueled nerve, for sure. We talked for a few minutes, and I asked him to show me some verses on forgiveness and went on my way.

Thinking back, it may have been easier to keep quiet and leave, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad God allowed me to use that smart mouth of mine for good this time, and I’m glad I could offer this man a small moment of comfort.

Please remember that no one ever knows what is going on inside. Someone can seem fine, and be completely crushed. Or someone can seem like a total jerk and have a heart of gold.

The weight of grief crushed my new friend. He was struggling on a hard day, and my unique brand of kindness turned things around a bit for him.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

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10 Truths Learned From Forty Plus Years

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned a few things. I thought I knew a lot as a youngin, as most do, but it turns I had no clue. It seems wisdom is bestowed upon you as you age. It’s a gift I don’t intend to waste.

Here, 10 truths from a life well lived.

1. Everyone has a personal set of rules, standards they live life by. For the most part, your personal rules will be constantly broken. You can’t make people act “right.”

2. Learning that not everyone has the same heart as you do is among life’s toughest lessons. I wish there was a way to warn future generations- if they’d even listen.

3. Life is at times far from beautiful. It can downright suck. Life can show you unimaginable tragedy. You may want to quit, but it really does get better if you let it. The beauty on the upside is absolutely worth it.

4. Those things you are passionate about- for me writing, photography, and crochet to name a few- they are your callings. Do what you are made to do. Wasted gifts don’t equal happiness in the long run.

5. A person’s outside appearance rarely matches what’s going on inside. Be nice. Don’t judge. Don’t assume. Someone could be fighting the toughest battles with a smile on their face.

6. People don’t understand what they don’t see. Ignorance is a choice in this technology filled world. Choose to educate yourself when issues arise.

7. Technology is the ultimate love/hate relationship, especially for someone like me who grew up in an era where technology was Betamax tapes and bag phones. It can distance you from people right in front of you and bring you closer to family and friends far away. It also has created a society desensitized to even horrible news, made us rude and unavailable to the important people in our lives. I pray for balance for us all.

8. Change doesn’t suck as much as I used to think it did. It can be scary, but at least life isn’t boring. Adjust your sails and hang tight when those winds of change blow.

9. Calm is never going to find you, yet it is the ever chased goal. You must create it for yourself.

10. Even with 40 plus years on me, I don’t always know what’s going on. No one knows the path life is going to take. We all just figure it out as we go. It’s easier together. Value your people.

Yes, my life has been well lived. Not always easy. I’ve had a healthy dose of hardships. I’m thankful to them for showing me my strength. I hope to have many more years to learn many more things. What are some truths you’ve learned in life?

Letting Go of the Weight of Worry

My family is full of people who worry. Some of us just worry. A lot. About everything and anything. Some of us have taken the worrying up a notch or a two…or a gazillion, and been diagnosed with anxiety.

My grandmother was well known for always having her worry beads. I don’t recall ever seeing her without them. She even had lists of things and people to worry about, like a list of things to check off as she completed them. Towards the end of her life she even had a worry calendar to give her specific days to worry about certain things.

My dad recently told me that worrying gives him something to do, and that worrying about the people he loves makes him happy. For me, concrete proof that I’m not the only one in the family in need of therapy.

My sisters both have diagnosed anxiety along with the family tendency to worry. Their anxiety doesn’t seem to be as strong as mine, but I don’t know. I’m not in their heads, thank God. It’s challenge enough being in my own head.

I have a close friend who is rock solid in her faith. She has often told me to stop worrying and let my troubles go to God. She even gave me a worry stone that is one of my most treasured gifts ever. I thought her gift was going to the way of my grandmother’s worry beads and become a permanent attachment to my hand, but it hasn’t. It’s a faithful and steady friend, just like her.

When my friend first started telling me to hand over my worries, I thought she was a combination of whacko and saintly. Who has the capacity to just hand over her worries that easily? She just hands them over, and poof, everything is perfect?

Nope. My friend isn’t whacko. Or saintly either. The woman is beyond annoying to get in touch with, but has the most compassionate heart I’ve ever been blessed to see. She is the one to teach me that I would be better off if I’d learn to lean on God and ask for His help, and that He won’t take care of my worries until I drop them.

She’s right. I still struggle with anxiety. These thoughts come and go now. They don’t stay in my mind and fester there anymore. I’m happier now. Thanks God. Thanks, friend.

Cool Down Tips For Those Hot Days

Summer is here. It seems like we went from pollen season straight to dog days of summer heat. Seriously, 100+ degree temperatures at the end of May are so unnecessary. I’m over it already. I’m scared to see what July and August will bring.

MS complicates matters even more. Heat or high humidity can make many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms. Doctors believe that this is because heat causes nerves to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently. The myelin covering of nerves that is healthy in people without MS is damaged in us. Most people with MS avoid hot baths and showers and even heated swimming pools and hot tubs because of this.

It takes as little as a one degree core body temperature rise to set off an increase of MS symptoms caused by overheating called Uhthoff’s Phenomenon. Our symptoms of overheating are basically the same as the average person’s, except they are easier to set off and have a negative effect on our bodies due to the disease.

With MS, we are also more prone to heat related illnesses. I’m fresh off a hospitalization from heat exhaustion. My body has overreacted to this early heatwave in a big way. Cooling down is a top priority for me. I can’t spend a whole summer extra sick.

Here are some of my favorite tips for cooling down on those hot days, even if you’re the only one hot!

Cold showers- see your doctor first to see if this is a good idea for you. There’s a fine line between cold that sends you into shock and refreshing. Experiment carefully, and keep the shower short. It feels nice when you get it right, and the benefits are surprisingly long lasting.

A spray bottle of cold water- spritz your face and body gently with the water throughout the day. It’s cooling as it evaporates.

Peppermint oil- become one with the peppermint. You ARE a peppermint. Peppermint is cooling and has a nice tingly feeling. I have peppermint oil in a spray bottle and a little bottle of oil to dab on my pulse points. I even have peppermint oil shower gel.

Ice- as my friend Lisa Leshaw says, “go suck an ice cube.” It’ll cool you down placed on pulse points and also cool down that ‘tude if you have one.

Gel ice packs- I have several in the freezer ready to go as a cold compress or to place on pulse points. They’re less mess than an ice cube when they melt. Get the same kind you’d put in a cooler to cool your drinks or get one at the drugstore with little beads inside. They’re more flexible.

Gel adhesive patches- They come from the drugstore and are either in the kids cold and flu section as fever relief or in the section with the headache relief stuff. You can store them in your freezer and use them as cold compresses as well.

Fans- oh, my fans. How I love them. I have quite the collection. One ceiling fan, a box fan, a tower fan, a little clip on oscillating fan, and my personal fave, a small, but mighty USB fan. This little fan packs a powerful breeze and could provide a bit of air in the event of a power outage. I could plug it into one of the USB ports on my battery backed up alarm clock.

There are also some wishlist items I have for my cool down toolbox. A bladeless silent tower fan, a migraine hat with the frozen inserts- I believe the cooling effects of one of the hats would be of great benefit for my MS, and a large dog cooling pad. It’d be like a wireless heating pad, but cool. A dog one would be cheaper than the human version.

Happy summer, friends. Be blessed and stay cool. Do you have any tips for me? Let me know!

Photo credit via Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

Motivational Monday

Every Monday morning you’ll see #MotivationalMonday all over social media. My first thoughts are along the lines of shut your trap and go away. It’s too early for perky people. Plus, it’s freaking Monday. The start of a new work week for some, just another day for others, and for some, like me, it’s Medical Monday.

There’s no cute hashtag for Medical Monday, but almost every Monday it comes anyway. My Mondays are generally full of the numerous doctor visits that come with chronic illness, or many hours in the infusion center recliner receiving treatment. If I’m going to have a medical emergency, it’s usually on a Monday as well. I have my theories as to why, but that’s a blog post for another time.

This Medical Monday has me as a passenger in my mom’s car hurtling down the interstate at a way too early hour for an out of town appointment. I don’t want to be doing any of this, even though there’s a bright side to traveling to the larger city as well.

If there’s ever a time for a Motivational Monday, it’s today. You might expect me to pop up with a pretty image and quote to cheer you on with your day, but nope, not Ellie. Perky morning people scare me a little. Seriously, how do you do it?

My motivation is going to come at you a little differently. I want you to all to take a single minute to look up at the sky, from wherever you are: an office, your home, out that passenger window, and remember that there is something bigger than you.

That sky? It’s bigger than you. My faith? It’s bigger than my fears. There ya go- Motivational Monday. Be blessed, friends.

Celebrate Your Dang Self

Sometimes those clouds get so low it feels like I could reach up and touch them. I feel certain they are going to burst open with rain any second. If that isn’t a metaphor for the way I’m currently feeling about life, I don’t know what else is.

I feel like those low clouds- ready to burst open any second. All these emotions in me will come pouring out like rain. Sometimes my clouds do burst and tears of sadness are flowing down my face. Sometimes I feel unloved and invisible to my favorite friends and family and my emotions burst out all kinds of wacky ways. My emotions will be as violent as a pop up severe thunderstorm. Other times the storm passes and the clouds are all fluffy and white in a beautiful blue sky.

These storms are better when they pass quickly. It’s certainly easier on my health. My doctor told me just this morning that I need to be more careful with my stress levels. My rare combination of illnesses makes it possible for stress to be a particularly lethal complication.

How do I eliminate some of the stress in my life? My family is currently in a bit of a complicated situation. All of my illnesses seem to be beating up on me, and I’m feeling ignored by several family members and some friends.

Often I turn to social media for companionship and advice from friends. Yes, I’m aware that isn’t always the best idea. That doesn’t seem to stop me. Today I was upset over some friends non reaction to some big news in my personal life and expressed this online.

A friend’s wise response sticks out. He told me to celebrate it myself. I was dumbfounded for a moment. The idea had truly not occured to me.

Do I really need others, even if they are close friends to validate anything I’m feeling? No. I don’t need anyone’s validation, for the good things, or anything else. No. I’m going to CELEBRATE IT MYSELF!

Hopefully that won’t be too much of an easier said than done thing. I’ll be working on it. In the meantime I’ll also be working on another friend’s advice to chill. I’m pretty sure she meant it with love. 🙂 Wish me luck.

Health Milestones

When the weather is nice I like to spend time at my city’s many river side parks. Time in nature is healing. It’s hard not to feel relaxed looking at the beautiful waters flowing with a nice breeze in the air.

In history, these milestone markers guided travelers through each mile of their journey. The milestone markers at my favorite park are in quarter mile intervals.

A milestone is also known as an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development. So today, around milestone 4, I realized that I’d hit a few personal milestones regarding my health recently.

1. I purchased and have been using a folding cane. It still makes me a little angry that I need it, but I haven’t “accidentally” lost this one anywhere. I’m a tad irritated that mine isn’t blinged out Selma Blair style, though.

2. I hide almost nothing about my many health issues now. It may be shocking to some of you, but until fairly recently, I used to hide more than most could imagine.

3. I don’t fight for acceptance quite the same way as I did when I was first diagnosed with serious chronic illnesses. The years have taught me there’s no way to teach people committed to misunderstanding. People are really limited by the scopes of their own knowledge.

4. The fact that most people aren’t going to understand doesn’t matter one iota. It won’t stop me from using my blog and the sites I write for to try and educate others. If I truly reach even one person, my goal has been met.

Tell me, friends, what have been some of your personal milestones lately? Be blessed!

Things I Don’t Have Time For

As many of you know, I’m only able to work part time because of my chronic illnesses. My mind wants to work full time, but is trapped in a body not capable of 40 hours a week. I have a part time restaurant job, supplemented by cat sitting side gigs, freelance writing and photography. This restaurant job is the bane of my existence and my escape all at once.

Yes, it’s nice to get out. My family can really test my nerves, cats don’t talk much, and the freelancing careers are lonely at times. Other times that restaurant is too much, this week especially.

A situation arose where one of my medical issues became unavoidably visible. My manager’s response was not to help me in any way or speed up the ending of my shift, which should have ended ten minutes earlier. Her response was an unkind “I don’t have time for that.”

After recovering from my medical situation, I sat in the parking lot sobbing and angry, feeling physically and emotionally unable to get myself home. Her words were ringing in my ears.

“I don’t have time for that.”

Among my biggest wishes is for more people to understand ( or at least not be a complete jerk ) what it’s like to live as a medically complex person, having to function like everybody else in a body and mind that is a whole galaxy away from functioning like most other people’s. However, I do understand that the majority are not going to get it, ever, until they get it.

Since understanding doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to happen there, I’d like to tell my workplace meanies and the world in general a few things I don’t have time for.

1. Nasty attitudes and negativity. Sure, slam that sandwich around and make sure how much everyone knows how much you hate your job. It won’t get you anywhere but in a bad mood, plus no one wants to be around constant negativity. I’m not perfect, but my goal is to be quiet if I’m feeling negative and full of attitude. Some of my coworkers have noticed a few quiet days lately.

2. Other people’s opinions of me. Not my business at all.

3. Another person’s power trips. If you have to tell people how powerful you are, you aren’t.

4. Herd mentality. Don’t be like everyone else. Sometimes, if you follow the masses the m becomes silent. I’ve always liked that saying.

5. Mean spirited gossip. I firmly believe that anyone who says they’ve never talked behind someone’s back is lying. My goal is to say more nice things about people. It will become habit.

6. Unwillingness to learn. No one is ever done learning.

Friends, what do you not have time for and want banished from your life? Tell me in the comments.

December Share Four Somethings

Share Four Somethings is a monthly link up post where I get the opportunity to share something loved, said, learned and read for the month.

I was invited to participate with a lovely writer’s group, and haven’t as much as I’d like over the course of 2018. I plan on doing this more often in 2019! Please check out the original post in this series at heathergerwing.com

Something Loved

December itself! My birthday is the 3rd. Life is full of challenges, and my delicate health has been making sure I know how much of a challenge it can be. I’m always grateful to see another year.

Other than my birthday, I’ve often wanted to completely to skip over December. The pressure of the Christmas season is often too much for me. Full of obligation and a time crunch to get the perfect gift for family and friends and not enough money to do it.

This year everyone got a handmade scarf and grab bags of candy. Everyone loved it and that pressure was off. I realized that most of my dislike for Christmas time was due to pressure I put on myself. So, if I cut out most of the Christmas music and pretend like Christmas is a two day event, and not November 1st through Christmas Day, I’ll probably be okay with the season next year.

December also rocks because the weather finally starts to feel comfortable to me. I am not a fan of heat at all. We’ll just ignore the fact that it’s currently 70 degrees. It’s only temporary.

Something Said

My friend Jan is amazing. Life has given her so many reasons to give up, but she remains rock solid in her faith. She is among the strongest Christian women I know. I’m truly blessed to be able to call her friend. Without her, I’m certain my own journey to faith would have taken a lot longer. This December, she reminded me again that we are all here on earth to walk each other home.

She’s told me this plenty of times over the years, but I think it took a while to really sink in. As per usual with Jan, there’s more than just the obvious message. Sure, we’re all on the same road, and sometimes that road is bumpy, too bumpy to even stay on the path, it seems, but that road evens out if we let it. In my mind, Jan is telling me about kindness. Be kind, no matter what. Let the rest go and things get so much easier.

Something Learned

Via the holiday season and the wise coaching of Jan, and life in general, I’ve learned that life’s biggest hurdles are all in my head. It doesn’t mean that everything will be all sunshine, smiles and roses and nothing bad will ever happen. It means that the power to overcome is already in me. I just have to get out of my own way, hold on through the bad times and remember that everything is temporary. Every little thing. Every big thing and all the things in between.

Something Read

I was honored to be chosen to read an advanced release copy of this amazing book by the lovely Courtney Ellis. You can pre order your own copy on Amazon.

Uncluttered

This book is full of useful advice and humorous and touching stories and is not at all throw all your crap away and stop being a hoarder like most books on ridding of clutter.

Hopefully, you all enjoyed my four somethings this month. See you all in January with four new somethings!

An Anti Holiday Newsletter Newsletter

Ah, the season is upon us. Christmas is well on the way, no matter how you feel about it. For the record, I’m not a huge fan of the pressure and expectations the season brings. It’s also an extra hard time of the year for me, physically. Christmas music gets on my nerves, for the most part. I do enjoy the Grinch song, though.

Hard to believe, maybe, but I’m really not a Grinch. Even though there’s Christmas cards in the mail every day now. I enjoy the photos of friends and family, and the cute kids and the dressed up pets, except the giant snake with a Santa hat. That was just creepy. But to each their own. I enjoy the cards and the photos and put them on the Christmas card tree.

Awww, I’m glad your family looks happy and well. Moving along now…nope, a folded piece of paper fell out of the envelope too. The newsletter. Cue ominous music. These things are a pain in the rear. Junior got all As all year, plays the tuba, first chair, and will probably learn Japanese when the new school semester starts.

Where is the Junior that put gum in your hair every day for a week and scribbled his first curse word on your newly painted walls? Life isn’t always pretty. Just once, I’d like to see some balance in one of these things. Show me the real, people. Here’s a Christmas newsletter from me.

Over the course of 2018 I picked up several new amazing writing jobs, continued on with several of my favorite blogs, and even added magazine writing to the resume. I entered a several writing contests and won two of them.

I got an ISBN for my book…my own book, which I hope to publish in 2019. I kinda froze in fear after getting the ISBN, though.

My photography career has taken off. I’ve sold way more of my photos than I ever imagined possible. Most of them to random mail order catalogs and junk mailers that end up directly in most people’s recycling bins. It is what it is, and whatever, it’s still a thrill.

My health is still pretty much consistently not the best, but it’s a stable kind of bad, and I’ll take it. My blood sugar randomly tanks in no kind of pattern that I can figure out enough to fix. That’s new.

My whole family thought my dad was dying a couple of times this year, most dramatically, in September with a huge weepy waving goodbye scene as the ambulance pulled off. It all worked out, though. Two major surgies followed. He’s healed well, having mobility issues, but that’s the biggest current issue. My daddy is tough stuff.

The week before Thanksgiving I found my mom lying on her bathroom floor in a pool of blood. It turned out to be several bleeding ulcers. She didn’t want to go to the hospital, but did, via ambulance. She’s still having some issues, but is recovering nicely.

Last week, I got in a very minor fender bender. Seriously, so minor that the damage to both vehicles involved is nearly invisible. It’s given me a few PTSD flashbacks to a serious accident in my college years. Not fun. My MS flared up major whacko style for a few days after that, but has since settled back to normal whacko.

So, cheers to an exciting 2019! Embrace the good, bad and in between-ness of every day. Merry Christmas, friends.

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