Just When I Felt Alone. . .

I was feeling very, very isolated when a friend tagged this video “for you, Angie Ballard” on FB. I bawled by eyes out. She knows me so well.

Thank you, Julie! I’m reading You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I borrowed it from the library as an ebook, because I don’t really go out of the house anymore. Or spend money. We have one car that will go forward, but will not stop reliably (Michael’s). He’s been using mine, but now it will not go forward, only in reverse. I personally require a car to both go forward AND stop before I’ll drive it. And Michael drives for a living, for those of you who don’t know. After losing a close friend recently (not LOSING as in death, but losing as in she no longer considers me a friend) I was feeling that much more isolated and depressed.

Until I watched that video. I’ve certainly never been a cheerleader. I’m so clumsy there would surely have been pom-pom-related injuries, even at the junior high level. But I’m a leader, a public speaker, an over-achiever, the girl in the front row every day of class. The nurse volunteering to take the fresh heart from surgery, the MI from ER. Experimental device? Gimme!

So I’m following Nicole’s lead. No, I’m NOT the person I was before. YES, I’m in constant pain. Of course I can smile and pretend everything’s normal. I’ve had a hell of a lot of practice. Of course I wish I was the person I was before. Sadly, the amount of medication it takes to put the “sweet Southern girl” filter back in place is very close to the amount that knocks me unconscious.

My next doctor’s appointment is with my primary care physician. It’s time for him to earn his co-pay. I want my blood pressure controlled by more than a maxed-out beta-blocker that could kill a cow. I’m on enough muscle relaxers that I can hardly keep my eyes open. But usually, when I’m awake, I’m in incredible pain. One dinner out with family costs me two days in bed. It’s worth it, though. I truly don’t want to be a hermit.

Anyway, PLEASE share this video with anyone you know who has chronic pain. I need to watch all Nicole’s videos and read all Louise’s books before I can say I’m an informed source, but it sounds pretty damn good to me so far!

My Favorite Online Stores

Did you know you can buy local and support small businesses while still enjoying the convenience of buying online? Sometimes you have to go with a huge store, but not always!

GlassGirlJen on Etsy – gorgeous pieces. We’re not talking “etched glass” here. She deeply engraves into a wide variety of glassware. This is still one my favorites for wedding gifts, but great for a first Christmas, first Christmas in your own apartment, etc.

Clever hand-crocheted items. I met this woman and her daughter at a local craft fair. She doesn’t work from patterns, she just creates it. And all of her work is beautiful and baby-proof! Message her ASAP to let her know what you want. Her prices are very reasonable!

Amazon – I do have a caveat, however. Amazon lets OTHER companies sell through them now. Unless you have bought from that particular company before don’t chance it for a holiday gift. I ordered a cute Tshirt in an XL. I’m not a fan of the skin-tight T. This one is so small enough for a ten-year-old. So now I’m searching Pinterest for a way to up-size the shirt.  I do ADORE Amazon Prime though, since I do MUCH more last-minute shopping these days. ALSO, it’s one of the best places to find the best new indie-published books you won’t find in bookstore! SO many great authors are going the indie route. Lisa Tapp, Joan Kayse, and Ian Eviston to name just a few!

Target – I love Target because I can order online and select “ship to store” for free. This means that even if everything is already IN my store someone will gather it up for me. I pay online and just pick it up at the service desk. No impulse shopping, no forgetting I went in with a list and a price limit. Which is good, since THIS just happened:

Primary – This is my new addiction. Right now they only make basic clothes in solid colors (MANY colors!) with no labels (school-friendly) for kids. I want an adult line. I wouldn’t wear anything else most days. And it’s very high-quality with reasonable prices. They even have two weights for many of their pieces, so I can buy a hoodies for kiddos in Texas AND Kentucky. Sew on a few jingle bells for Christmas, add make temporary Contac paper or Duck Tape cut-outs for holidays, and one red T shirt can be cleverly current all year!

ThinkGeek – Is there anyone in your family who loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fallout, Game of Thrones, or other things not everyone else is quite as passionate about? I owned a communicator pin and Vulcan ears when the folks at ThinkGeek were in diapers, so I could spend hours browsing this store. This may well end up as a gift this year for one of my Fallout fans.
SteveSpanglerScience – This is a great gift site for adults and kids. Once I bought several items from this shop and left them in the Reading Room – kind of the home base for our docs, where they’d hang their coats, pick up their patient lists, and do computer work. They were a hit! My dad LOVES all these things. He’s an Engineer, and uses a couple of the toys to analyze his new students or faculty while he’s chatting with them.

Newegg.com – I don’t go here without being given a link. It’s computer parts. As in, you take your CPU apart and put things in. My sons tell me they have GREAT deals. If you have a computer nerd on your list send them the link to browse. They’ll be excited!

Nerium – Awesome stuff. My husband uses the same cheap shampoo to wash his hair, face, and body. I swear. I only very recently got him started on a leave-in conditioner, which he LOVES. After thirty-one years I’m finally getting him to take a couple of baby steps towards taking care of himself. He takes EHT (brain booster) daily because his mother died of Alzheimer’s. He uses the Youth Factor powder because I told him he could drink a bottle of this fruit-flavored stuff a day or he could eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day. He chose the powder. I ADORE leafy green veggies, and my memory loss is all pain and medication induced.

So I use the stuff that makes me look good 🙂 Night Cream and Firm are the products that someone would have to pry from my cold, dead hands. This time of year we always have discounted Gift Packs for as long as they last. If I had to guess I’d say 75% of sales are people stocking up on their favorites for cheap and 25% actual gifts. Have you ever bought something intending to gift it. . . then kept it for yourself? *waving hand wildly*

So shop, shop away! But since my sweet, wonderful grandmother went full-out crazy every Christmas (which led to a woman she hired to do her shopping maxing out her credit cards her last Christmas at home and then just saying everything was stolen from the trunk) I’m a calm shopper. I plan ahead, I shop evenly for my children, and Michael and I have never shopped for each other. Not since the year we got engaged.

Some people do three gifts, for the three wise men. My personal favorite (and the one Michael is holding me to even though this is our first year with a granddaughter) is Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. Yes, of course both Michael and Mom have asked me exactly HOW I know what Emma wants. Well, I’ve known it since before she was born. They’d just better take pictures in Austin to PROVE it!


I took creative license on this one, but it works.I hope everyone had a geat Thanksgiving!

Rudest Customer Ever

I was sixteen years old. This was my first customer-service job. I’d worked since the age of 12 under the watch of one parent or another. So I’d do filing or copying for my mom, babysitting or pet-sitting for neighbors, or work for my dad’s department at UK, helping with documentation of experiments and running errands across campus in the summer.

But once I had my driver’s license I could use my mom’s car to work evenings and weekends. (I lived way out in the country. No mass transit options.) I filled out a half-dozen applications in a single day, and got hired by Burger King. Those were the days when EVERYONE had a salad bar, and Burger King was all about “Have it YOUR way!”

As with all fast-food places, it was feast or famine. There was a movie theater across the street, a high school nearby, and WAY too many people running through our drive-through as their last chance for hot food for a solid 15 miles north. At least.

I was (before dealing with constant pain became one of my tasks) a fabulous multi-tasker. So, as a well-brought-up Southern girl with a nice smile, I easily worked both front counter and drive-through with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Nowadays this takes three or four people if they’re good. I’m not bragging, that’s just how it was. And the register didn’t tell me how much change to give. I had to figure it out myself. And I don’t think we had debit cards then, either.

AND I had to wear brown polyester. A tunic and pants, with shoes that had great tread, ’cause that tile floor was seriously greasy 24/7. And work for $2.85 an hour (yes, sub-minimum wage in 1985 – still not sure why). Pic clearly not me. I’ve never learned to apply eyeliner.

So when this smarmy guy comes up and orders his Whopper without mayo or pickle or whatever, I put the order in. While I’m putting in orders from drive-thru. And those automatic drink dispensers? Not invented yet. I had to stand there and hold the cup against the lever to fill it up. And I by God made SURE everyone in drive-thru got the correct number of straws and napkins, and only the requested condiments. Because my boss was a bit scary and I’d already pushed open the employee door too hard and sent him flying head-over-heels into a stack of five-gallon pickle buckets. On the first day I met him.
So, Smarmy Guy. He’s middle-aged and his gut is stretching the buttons on his shirt. But he can carry a tune. He steps to the side, waiting for his order, and starts loudly singing the latest commercial jingle.

“Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce,
special orders don’t upset us.
All we ask is that you let us serve it your way.
Serve it your way at Burger King.
We serve it your way, at Burger King!”

Yeah, that got old after about the second time he sang it, arms crossed over his chest and big grin across his face. He eventually got his food. If this experience made him feel good, then. . . I can only imagine what he was doing a decade later. But I know what I was doing a decade later. I’d graduated from the selective BSN program at UK with a 3.5 GPA, taken a job in a cardiac critical care unit that hadn’t accepted a new grad in a decade, married that intimidating boss, and was living in Louisville – a happy mom to my first son. And I was being head-hunted for a position with the largest cardiology group in town. Happy times!

I started writing this as an answer to a Quora question, but decided it was too wordy and turned it into a blog post instead. Quora is my new Pinterest. Thank God for my timer, or I’d be down the rabbit hole for sure!

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!