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My First Blog Post

Just Be Brave….

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

ASKING FOR HELP WITH MENOPAUSE

Asking for help with menopause should be a “no brainer”, but I, like many women, just thought I could “power through” it alone. It wasn’t until I had a casual conversation with a friend (who happens to be an OB/GYN) that I realized maybe I need a little help.

Conversations

Women love to chat and I am no exception. When I think of the many topics of conversation that my friends have discussed, not one of them was about menopause. Of course, there is the occasional sudden fanning of one’s face in an effort to cool down from a “hot flash”, but no one really talks about it. We just give the nod – indicating a mutual understanding.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

My mom passed away several years ago, long before my personal journey into “the pause”. We never talked about such things. She was from a generation that didn’t talk about anything and I am from a generation that is apparently lacking in knowledge on the subject. I can’t tell you how long I thought the only negative symptom was “hot flashes”! LOL Guess what …. it’s not the only symptom!

Acknowledgment

To quote Dr. Phil, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Boy did this reality hit me hard! My husband always calls me “sweet”. This has become a running joke because, while I am kind, “sweet” I am NOT! Recently, he told me I was being “mean” and unfortunately, he was right. I was being mean and feeling angry for no reason.

This was my “wake up” call. As I thought about how I was feeling, I realized that my mood had been all over the place. In addition, the extra “fluff”, hot flashes and sleep disruption had been increasing for some time. I suppose I just thought it would all “go back to normal” soon, so I did nothing about it. And guess what, nothing was changing!

This is when I remembered my conversation with my “Dr.” friend week’s earlier. I had mentioned “hot flashes” and weight gain in a group conversation and when the laughter stopped, she looked me straight in the eye and said these simple words: “You know I can help you with that.”

The conversation went on in various directions, but her words stuck in my mind. While I didn’t take action at that moment, a seed was planted that I would need later.

Taking Action

Realizing that I had been a jerk and likely difficult to live with, I began seeking help with menopause. First, I did some research on the internet to learn about this new season and all of its many symptoms and solutions.

Next, I made a decision to try a natural approach and looked for the highest rated (by doctors and women) OTC supplement. Amazon delivered it 2 days later and I believe that I am on a path of feeling and “being” better!

I suppose the real test will come from my husband. Hoping to find myself back in the “sweet” category again! Regardless, I am keenly watching my symptoms and if OTC supplements don’t work well enough, then I will talk with my doctor about hormone replacement.

Final Thoughts

It is very interesting to me that women still don’t talk much about menopause. Even in 2022, a negative stigma remains. The idea of aging associated with menopause seems to trap many of us in a denial mindset. I hope to do better with my daughters both by example and with open conversation.

If you walk away with nothing else from this post, I hope that you will be encouraged to ask for help with menopause symptoms. Women in this season should be filled with confidence, wisdom and greater independence not held hostage by “hot flashes”, mood swings and self dissatisfaction.

Wishing all the ladies a beautiful and fulfilling life!

WHEN “KAREN” CALLS

So I’ll go ahead and admit that when “Karen” calls is a post that is slightly “tongue and cheek” mixed with a little bit of venting. While I do think the name Karen is getting a bad rap, for purposes of this post, “Karen” is defined as an entitled, nosy, vocal, middle aged woman who thinks only with her best interest in mind.

My “Karen”

You see, I have a “Karen” in my life. Fortunately, she does not appear often, but when she does, I truly struggle to hold my tongue. My “Karen” owns a cabin just below our “little cabin in the woods”. Along with our cabin, Robby and I also own an undeveloped lot separating the two cabins and protecting our view. “Karen” rents her cabin and personally visits it maybe once a year. We on the other, hand do not rent our cabin and visit it once a month.

Over the past two years I have received calls from “Karen” regarding trash on our undeveloped lot. The trash is the result of bears, racoons, foxes and high winds which blow other neighbors’ trash onto our lot and “Karen’s” property. While this is a common occurrence when you live in the mountains, it isn’t a regular or frequent happening. You see our undeveloped lot and “Karen’s” cabin are at the lower end of the mountain road.

If you follow the science, gravity causes things to move toward the center of the earth or in this case the lowest point on our road. ( So …. **** rolls downhill!) However, science has nothing to do with the wildlife, they just take advantage of easy access to food – aka “garbage”. P.S. Since we are only part-time residents, we never leave our garbage outside and always take it home to Florence or to the garbage service center before we leave.

My Response

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I should not take offense and this is where the struggle gets real! Her calls do offend me. My anger at “Karen’s” unrealistic expectations makes me want to say things that I likely would regret! While the lot is mine, the garbage is not mine and I cannot control the wind or the wildlife. She even admits the same when leaving messages on my answering machine.

I have told her before that we visit every month and Robby always picks up trash that he can reach that has found it’s home on our properties. The problem is that what “Karen” really wants is for us to hire someone to weekly pick up trash so that her renters don’t see it on the slope between our properties. She’s not really concerned about the trash. Her concern is about her rental income and reviews.

I appreciate her perspective, but her expectations are unrealistic! Also, my threshold for manipulation is slim, so don’t go there with me!

The Solution

I have not yet responded to “Karen’s” latest phone call. Robby picked up all the trash he could reach on our latest visit and that’s all that I can offer. Even if we tried to accommodate “Karen”, there is absolutely no guarantee that a bear or a storm won’t instantly blow someone else’s trash onto this lot the very next day after it was cleaned up!

And this is why it gets under my skin! “Karen” wants me to solve her problem without offering any assistance from her end. Her phone calls never offer a solution, they only offer blame. She has weekly yard folks and cleaners whom we would gladly “give permission” to walk over and pick up any trash they see, but she never offers that solution.

But, a solution is not really what “Karen” is after. She wants to hold me responsible for something that I have no control over. She would rather call me and complain than fix it herself. So after much prayer and discussion with Robby, “Karen’s” latest phone call is not going to receive a response. When “Karen” calls again, and she will, I will politely tell her to feel free to be a good neighbor and pick up any trash that is bothersome to her, otherwise it will have to wait until our next visit. (LOL – slightly sassy, I know!)

Final Thoughts

In today’s world it is so easy to become offended. It would seem that there are plenty of “Karen’s” to go around. God tells us to be angry and sin not. Getting angry is easy. Responding with grace and tact is much harder. Clearly I’ve already given “Karen” more energy than she deserves (#thispost) so I will end with this: God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 “…Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business ….” That’s what I plan to do, hoping “Karen” will do the same.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Leave a comment about any “Karen’s” in your life! LOL

FAREWELL TO A CHAIR

Farewell to a chair actually begins four years ago when we purchased our cabin in the woods. We inherited with it a green fabric recliner. It was the “green elephant” in the family room. You could tell that it was well used and of course, became my husband’s favorite chair. The dogs loved it too and so we fondly called it “stinky chair”!

There were many other lovely pieces of furniture that we inherited that we continue to use today. Even so, I immediately began transforming the cabin room by room into a style that suited my tastes. And at long last, the day came to replace “stinky chair”. It was time to say farewell to a chair.

A Little Shopping

During our last cabin visit, it had snowed and was bitterly cold, so indoor activities were on the agenda. I skillfully talked Robby into visiting a local high-end furniture store to “just look” and see if they had any recliners on sale. (LOL) Of course we found some recliners that we liked but the sticker shock curbed my impulses!

Fortunately for me, they also have a second hand store as part of their inventory. It consists of furniture they pick up and remove from homes when delivering NEW furniture. I thought this was pure genius because it is very hard to dispose of or donate large items like furniture in the mountains. So, Robby and I headed over to that section.

Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised to see so many great pieces of furniture that simply needed a new home. With a renewed commitment to my mission, I spotted a recliner that looked to be in terrific condition. It was leather, the perfect size and had “power” reclining. Robby tried it out, the price was on budget and it became ours in less than 30 minutes.

Deliveries

Unfortunately the store doesn’t deliver on the weekend, so we arranged for delivery to occur on our next visit. In addition, they would remove “stinky chair” and take it to the dump (we knew it was not fit for resale). This was music to my ears, a win-win for everyone. We marked our calendars, headed to the wine bar to celebrate and toasted to the “old” and the “new”.

Four weeks later and delivery for the new recliner was confirmed. Robby spent one last night enjoying “stinky chair” and then he escorted it onto our deck. The delivery guys arrived on time and one “new to us” power leather recliner graced our family room. Robby is in heaven, Silent Charlie has no interest in this “cold” leather chair and I am happy that everything now matches!

Final Thoughts

While we are very excited to have the new recliner, it goes without saying that “stinky chair” has served us well. Not to go too deep here, but God always reminds me “does your stuff serve you or do you serve your stuff?” “Stinky chair” had fulfilled its mission not only to us but the previous owners as well.

Hundreds of naps, puppy snuggles, grandchildren climbing, comforting sore hiking muscles, hours of reading, fireplace gazing and countless movie watching have all occurred in the green fabric embrace of “stinky chair”. With your mission complete, it is now time to say farewell to a chair!

Hope that you enjoyed our latest cabin adventure. Share, like or leave me a comment. I love to hear your thoughts!

AVOIDING HOLIDAY FRUSTRATION – TWO STATES OF EASTER

Avoiding holiday frustration can be quite challenging. This is a topic that continues to pop up in conversations with other empty nest women. It seems that many women aren’t open to changing things up when it comes to holiday traditions. Of course, the end result is usually frustration! And I am always surprised by their lack of insight.

Traditions

Family traditions are wonderful and play an important role in connecting with one another. These traditions often revolve around the location, food, a person or perhaps all three. Sometimes traditions have been held so long that family members don’t even know why, they just know this how its always been.

The funny thing about traditions is that they can be both comforting and confining. Families grow and change but traditions often do not. This is where the challenge begins.

Closed Mindset

I learned a valuable lesson many years ago after moving out of state. The lesson was that I was not going to be able to fulfill my family’s expectations to come home for every holiday. Proximity played a major role. We simply lived too far away for frequent visits. In addition, my family was not interested in coming to me to celebrate. My parents had a “closed” mindset and wouldn’t budge on doing things a little different.

The result was that Robby and I began our own holiday traditions and visited our family when we could. This was always a source of frustration for my mom. She just couldn’t see that her expectations were causing her frustration; not my lack of compliance.

Open Mindset

Now that I am an empty nester with one daughter living close by and one living in another state, holiday traditions for us are open to change. The end goal for Robby and me is TIME with our children and grandchildren. We are committed to being flexible with dates, times and even what the gathering looks like.

For example, this Easter, I went to Savannah for an overnight visit with our daughter, the week before Easter. I came bearing gifts, food and wine. I helped with some chores and cooked dinner for my daughter. We had a wonderful time “breaking bread” together and catching up.

Several days later Robby and I attended our Church’s Easter Service on Saturday night with our (local) daughter and grands. Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant and simply enjoyed “being together”. This plan left Easter Sunday open for my daughter and grands to visit with her in-laws. It was a win-win for everyone.

I could have insisted on a traditional gathering at my home for Sunday lunch. The problem is that the only people attending would have been me and Robby. Flexibility and being open to a more creative solution, gave us time with those we love most! I fondly named this year’s Easter gatherings “The Two States of Easter”! (One in South Carolina and one in Georgia)

Final Thoughts

Life happens in seasons and each season is different. If you want to avoid holiday frustration, then your holiday/family traditions must be open to change as well. Being inflexible will only produce stress and resentment in your family. Here are my tips for planning a frustration free holiday:

  • Ask for input from your family – find out what they want to do.
  • Be flexible with dates and times.
  • Location doesn’t really matter.
  • Don’t put unrealistic expectations on your adult children.

Always “build” your house – don’t tear it down with inflexibility!

LAVENDER HONEY – MY NEW LOVE

A few weeks ago I found my new love – lavender honey! It happened on a beautiful Friday morning when I met a friend for coffee at the Bean Bar. Since I love “sweet” coffee, I ordered a latte with almond milk and lavender honey. My daughter had recommended that I try this in my next coffee and so I did. Let’s just say it is my new love!

First Impressions

When the 12oz. cup was placed on the table, it looked like any other latte. However, that first sip was almost magical. The coffee was hot, creamy, sweet and laced with the loveliest hint of lavender. Actually, it is more accurate to say that it had light floral taste, but my senses knew it was lavender. I was “hooked”!

When given the choice for soap, air fresheners or anything with a scent, I always choose lavender. I suppose you could say that its beautiful scent makes my heart happy. Perhaps its calming quality draws in my inner chaos and silences my storms. I had no idea that you could do more than just “smell” it!!

A Little History

So exactly what is lavender honey. Apparently, there are two main types. One is made by bees that collect nectar from lavender plants and make the honey. The other is man made – honey that is infused with lavender. Either way, it is guaranteed to be sweet in both taste and aroma.

Provence, France has been producing a high quality of lavender honey for more than 30 years. Wild lavender bushes growing near bee hives creates the naturally made version. What more could a girl want than fancy honey from France?

Benefits

The best news is that lavender honey is also good for you. Not only is it sweet to the taste, but it also contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Apparently, you can even use it as a first aid treatment for minor cuts and burns. It has an antimicrobial quality that prevents bacteria growth which could lead to infection. Another benefit is that it may help reduce swelling. If it could only reduce my “fat” as well!!!! LOL

In comparison to sugar, lavender honey has more calories but it does not raise your blood sugar levels as quickly as sugar . Since it is sweeter, you likely need to use less in your coffee. Portion control is the key to controlling the calories and reducing your use of sugar.

Next Steps

I’m really not a “fan girl”, but this new love must become a part of my morning coffee routine. Amazon made it happen. Within 2 days, a beautiful jar of lavender honey sat on my counter. The next morning my soul rejoiced once again as sweet aromatic coffee warmed my soul and delighted my taste buds. And yes, I have cut out the sugar altogether! I would call that a WIN!

Final Thoughts

Who knew a cup of coffee with some lavender honey could make such an impact. I’m feeling very fancy now, so I don’t think I could go back to just plain sugar and creamer in my coffee. That would just be so….unfancy! But seriously, if you haven’t tried this delectable treat, then I highly recommend that you do. And, if you don’t drink coffee, don’t worry. You can use it just like you would any other kind of honey.

I would love to hear what your favorite coffee is and if you have ever tried lavender honey. Drop me a line in the comments!