I Lost My Scar – Have You Seen It?

AdventureI have a very strange story to tell, and no “before” picture to show you, so you’ll have to take my word for it. And as I’m about to explain, an “after” picture would just be silly.

To begin at the beginning… more than twenty years ago, I was the passenger in a car that ran right into a tree. My seat belt saved my life, but I still got banged up quite a bit. I have a lot of stories I could tell about that night, but I’m going to keep this focused to one of the injuries I received – because right now – there is no record of that injury. It’s like, it never happened.

Let me explain. I was sitting in the back seat, and somehow I cut my eyelid very badly. I didn’t lose consciousness but I really don’t know how that happened. Anyway, the surgeon who stitched my eyelid back together was pretty impressed at the extent of the injury. He was fascinated actually. Mostly because, I still had an eyelid. There wasn’t much holding it to the rest of me, and, my eye didn’t receive a scratch. It was a pretty miraculous injury (the rest of me took the brunt of the force, but I’ll save those stories for another time).

Over the next ten years, the second question people would always ask me (after my name), was, “What happened to your eye?” That’s just human nature, curiosity with a little rudeness on the side.

Though my surgeon was convinced I would want plastic surgery, I strongly disagreed. Yes, you could see my scar, but it really didn’t bother me, and I’ve never tried to do anything to it at all. And today, I noticed, the scar is missing. I mean, the ridge that has crossed from the middle of my right eye, with a starting bump – to the corner of my eye – is one hundred percent gone. My eyelid is perfectly smooth. I know the scar so well I could draw it for you, but it is gone!

For the last two months, I’ve been treating my face for “severe dry skin” that is now actually doing really well. It was peeling horribly, and felt so tight after a shower that my face actually hurt. Anyway, a friend recommended Emu oil to me, and I am a huge fan of Frankincense since it helps reduce moles and sunspots (so it seemed great to help heal my face). Basically, Frankincense is awesome and a wonderful healing Essential Oil, simply one of my must-haves. So after washing my face in the morning and evening, I have been taking two drops of Frankincense Oil, and adding two pumps of Emu Oil to my hand, and massaging the mixture into my face. I’ve noticed over the last few days that even though it’s still winter, I no longer have “winter skin”. My face is pretty happy. And, I seem to have erased my scar. I would never have thought it could be possible to make a scar disappear that was more than twenty years old, and honestly, I wouldn’t have tried. I’m kind of in shock.

So, there you go… Emu Oil and Frankincense Essential Oil, they work magic. But I kind of miss my scar. I think scars are like the skin’s adventure map – they show where you’ve been, and I lost one of my markers. It’s a bit odd.

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Liked Coraline? Read Dust by Arthur Slade

Sometimes books listed as “for children” are really an “all ages” type of read – but the only way to find out, is to read them. Since I just read a book listed for ages 9-18 on Amazon, and loved it, I wanted to be sure to write a quick review. Because… I’m not 18 anymore…

Dust by Arthur SladeIf you’re in the mood for something that’s a quick read but has some serious creepiness, enough to make you want to keep turning the pages because you MUST find out what happens next, be sure to check out Dust by Arthur Slade. Part fantasy, part horror, it’s quite a unique story. Children go missing and an entire town is mesmerized… What has happened to the children, and why are people held captivated by the town newcomer? You’ll have to read to find out.

Then, if you want to continue reading more books that fit the same vibe, be sure to check out Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and Ashlyn’s Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty.

P.S. Isn’t that cover just awesome? I admit to purchasing this book because of the cover. See? Sometimes that choice pays off!

Ride the Roller Coaster of Madness: A Bipolar Life

It takes a certain level of sanity to know you are mentally ill, yet try to hide it from the world – and succeed. I just finished reading Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher and I’m slowly coming back to reality. It was tough to put this book down and do anything else, it’s captivating, and quite frankly, mind-blowing. It’s difficult to imagine someone living this way, not only simply coping, but coming out on top and living a successful life. It is not a “how to be well” handbook, there are no answers here. But there is a journey well worth taking.

“I am silent. I do not exist. I am merely a pair of eyes, looking around the room. The rest of me is invisible. I won’t be visible again until someone sees me. If a woman stands in her kitchen rubbing her eyes and pouring coffee with no one there to see her, does she exist?”

MadnessMarya Hornbacher has managed to squash Anorexia, Bulimia, Alcoholism, and seems to be finding a way to live with what sounds like, fairly severe Bipolar disorder. Her descriptions of the rapid-cycling between hypermania and depression left me with a very clear understanding of what it would be like to face these obstacles, and a much better understanding (and empathy) for being mentally ill.

During the years her biopolar was misdiagnosed – then the years she fought the diagnosis, she led a somewhat functional life. Rather, it was highly dysfunctional but she accomplished some amazing things. Her book “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 – all while being shuffled in and out of the psych ward (and associated reality).

“You wake up one morning and there it is, sitting in an old plaid bathrobe in your kitchen, unpleasant and unshaved. You look at it, heart sinking. Madness is a rotten guest.”

Marya used both food and alcohol to try to manage her moods and mind, and it’s unfortunate it took so long for her to receive appropriate help with each of these areas (eating disorder, alcoholism, and then finally, her biopolar). I learned, the longer bipolar goes undiagnosed, the more severe it will get (and the more frequently swings will occur). Since bipolar is often diagnosed as something else first, the patient is at risk.

Marya Hornbacher is a beautiful writer. As a lover of words, she has an amazing way with them. This book will likely be one of my favorite reads for this year – and it’s only January!

Madness: A Bipolar Life is of course available on Amazon, and also on Scribd.

How to Make Homemade Chocolate (& Why You Should)

Taste TesterDon’t worry, this isn’t a lecture, I promise.

If you reach for chocolate for the energy boost, chocolate from the vending machine won’t quite cut it. You know you’ll get a short boost, followed by a sugar crash, but what else can you do?

You can make chocolate at home ahead of time (it will taste wonderful), and it will give you a much better energy boost! Also, to be clear, homemade chocolate is REALLY easy to make. Anyone can make it, since no cooking is required! It takes about 5 minutes to make this chocolate, and then just needs to chill in the fridge. I don’t think it gets any easier than that!

Oh how I wish I knew about Medium-Chain Triglycerides in the early days of fighting Gastroparesis, but I know NOW, and now I can tell you. MCTs are a great source of energy because they do not need to be digested in order to be absorbed, and utilized by your body. This means for those of you with digestive difficulties, MCTs are the best friend you will ever have. And where can you find MCTs you ask? In coconut oil! And you can easily hide coconut oil in CHOCOLATE. I told you this wasn’t a lecture. Chocolate is actually good for you, see?

There are several variations around the internet providing instructions on how to make homemade chocolate. This recipe is one we created after testing a lot of recipes. It’s the easiest one to make that (we think) provides the best results. And as far as taste-testing chocolate over and over… you’re welcome.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural organic cacao powder (we use Navitas brand)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup pure raw honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • OPTIONAL: ¼ cup shredded coconut or nuts

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix
  2. Place mixed chocolate in a container, cover, and refrigerate
  3. Enjoy your awesome chocolate (after it’s been in the fridge for a few hours)

It’s important to keep in mind, this chocolate will melt in your hands. Even though you can get fancy and use candy molds, that really creates pretty messy snacking. Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, and your hands are warmer than that – just something to keep in mind. If you want to take it to work as a snack, a small plastic container with a lid (and a fork) may be your best bet.

By the way, did you notice? This recipe is Dairy-Free and Allergy-Friendly! 

Happy snacking!

A Look Back

Often, I find myself reviewing photos in my archives to see what I need to do differently the next time I go out to shoot, and, what can be edited again. I love taking photos that are “finished” and giving them an entirely new look. Or, simply making them better since I am always learning about photo processing.

Originally, this photo was just a tree on a Fall day, nothing out of the ordinary. Now I look at it and it reminds me of the warmer, brighter days of fall, due to some very minor revisions.TBT Fall in Asheville

The photo below was just a simple capture, that now looks like a page in a graphic novel. I’m not sure why it speaks to me, but I really love this new version! Perhaps because I have no drawing ability what-so-ever and it’s neat to see I can still create something that looks like it was drawn. At least sort of.Dave in SepiaAnd sometimes, I simply see older photos in a new way that I hadn’t considered during my first round of editing.

Do you revise old photos, or go back and review them for creative adjustments?

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Sharon and DaveAs a child, one of my favorite books was called “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” illustrated by Edward Gorey. It had alternating sections in back text, or blue text, indicating where to hand the book over and either read, or enjoy the portion being read to you.

Since Dave and I are both avid readers, it didn’t take us too long in the early days of our relationship to run into a reading-related problem. We wanted to each read a short story, of which, we had one paper copy. With only a small amount of free time each evening, it seemed like a good idea for me to begin reading the story to him aloud while he cooked dinner, and then he would read to me later on in the evening. It was a simple problem with a simple solution. We didn’t realize we were creating one of those “us” things. You know, those moments you look back on and realize it was the start of something big? Reading to each other every day is something we have done ever since, now going on nine years!

We discovered several things all those years ago when we began to read to each other. Even though we typically read very different books, it’s also nice to read something else that’s a cross-over book, something we both enjoy, and get to experience together. This broadens our reading experience.

Books are more fun with friends! You know those moments when a book makes you gasp, laugh, shriek, or jump? Even if you are in the same room with someone, this is something you experience by yourself. Perhaps you feel the need to explain what happened in the story, what made you react, but they haven’t gone on the journey with you and cannot share your experience.

Both the experience of being read to, and reading to someone else – is relaxing. It’s a great way to wind down from a stressful day, and get to be together, and from my perspective, much more fun than watching TV!

Reading with someone is like a life-hack. It’s not how the medium of reading was meant to be enjoyed, but it adds another layer that is there for the taking. Happy reading!

Aging is a Bad Habit (The Power of Inertia)

Aging DefinedYear after year, we enable our body to age. We are in fact, enablers.

We are creatures of habit, and many of us tend to seek the path of least-resistance. It’s simply human nature. So each day, we go about our pattern of preparing to face the day, earn an income, and shield ourselves from the battery of the world. And each day, we push ourselves a little less – because it’s easier. We’re tired. Life is tiring. And our minds, they play tricks on us. Our brain wants us to conserve energy, you know, in case of emergency.

When you push yourself, you may notice the inertia of the challenge – physical or mental – gives you more energy. It takes energy to create energy, but it’s interesting to note – you can fake this part. You can pretend you have energy, and just make yourself DO something a little extra. Remember, your lack of energy is just your brain playing a game – and winning.

When was the last time you stretched? I mean, REALLY stretched? Can you touch your toes? When was the last time you tried? The more you do now, the more you will be able to do later (physically and mentally). You know, a few years from now when you’re a few years….older.

Here’s the thing. If you just go about your day, doing what the same thing you did today that you did yesterday – you will be able to do less later on. Yes, aging is biological, but it’s also mental, and partially habitual.

What kind of aging habits have you created?

Don’t forget! Life is a game – that means plenty of opportunities to level up. 🙂

Your Minutiae is Not Mundane

Electronic KeyboardHave you read any novels recently that made you struggle to understand the context? When reading any book that isn’t considered “modern,” it can be helpful to be guided through the meaning by a teacher, or annotated version, or of course, your own internet-driven research.

Consider books published more than thirty years ago, when characters had to communicate by way of phone calls (long distance was expensive and costs accrued in per minute increments), or mail – which was slow. Well, mail is still slow, but letter writing is no longer a necessary form of communication.

Now consider a child born this year: 2015, who later reads a book published in 1985, when they are 15 years old. Will they struggle with understanding the culture? Will they understand how characters communicate, and the methods that they use, and realize what is missing and why? Will the mention of an Answering Machine confuse them? What about photographs not being instantaneous, movies at the theatre or occasionally at home on cable, but renting movies? Blockbuster wasn’t around until 1985 so not many people knew about it yet.

My point is this, your daily minutiae is NOT mundane. The details of your day create a small part of the collective makeup of our society and culture, and culture is sometimes lost in lack of understanding.

We now have more variety than ever before, and this carries over to our daily routines.

How old are you? Are you a teenager? How do you spend your free time? How do you get to school? Are you homeschooled (what is that like and how does it work)? Do you watch TV? Movies? Do you watch TV shows on a computer – or an actual TV?

Are you in your twenties? Did you go to college? Did you live in a dorm? Did you have roommates? What do you do for income? How do you get money you need, do you handle cash, or use credit cards almost exclusively?

What about those of you in your thirties or forties? Do you have children? Do you want children? Are you married or single? What is single life like for you? Married life? How you do meet new people?

What happens when you run out of something you need but you don’t need it the same day? Do you add it to a grocery list and drive to a story in a few days, or do you order it online to be delivered directly to your door?

How do you communicate with those you are close to, do you use the phone (what is your phone like, and is it actually a phone), do you use a computer, do you send an email, text, or chat? What is a chat message?

Your life is not mundane. Your life is context. Life is changing around us constantly and your life is interesting!