Welcome to my world...

Hi everyone and welcome to my little piece of the world!

It has been evident to me since I was in about seventh grade, that I love writing and it is a talent I have been blessed with . It wasn't until I reached the ripe old age of 28 though, that I realized God had a much bigger plan for the gift he had given me.

Through blogging on MySpace, I was able to reach not only those that I knew in my own life, but also complete strangers and was amazed at how just my "ramblings" had helped so many people to be inspired, encouraged, or just to think about things in a new way.

From there, it grew into an inspirational column in The Charlotte Observer, then a religious news column in The Statesville Record & Landmark, a speaking engagment for a women's church group and now, a gig as a religion news freelance writer for The Charlotte Observer.

The writing that is closest to my heart though is not the news reporting, but the words that come from my soul - the words that I know God puts there not only to help me to understand life better, but also those around me.

I hope you feel encouraged, enlightened and inspired but what you read here and of course, I look forward to hearing back from you too!

Monday, January 14, 2013

What now?

So, the title of this post has a double meaning.  Both "what, now?" as in say what?  And "what now?" as in what in the world am I supposed to do now?

As some of you may have already seen on Facebook, I was laid off this morning.  Totally out of the blue, completely shocked, let go.  Now this is the newspaper job that I just started a month ago, that I thought was me finally getting in line with God's will, getting to do what I love, a "meant to be" kinda job.  After I interviewed for it, I KNEW he was going to offer it to me.  The interview went really well but also the editor and I had very similar values, interests and outlooks on writing.  I was sure as day that this is what God had been wanting me to wait for, month after month, at that miserable last job I was at.  Or was it?

I came in to work this morning, feeling pretty bleh actually.  I thought it was just the usual fatigue/blood sugar stuff but who knows, maybe I was having a premonition.  Anyway, I had barely been there 20 minutes... came in, put my lunch away, used the restroom, booted up my computer and talked to my editor for a minute, when the publisher (my boss' boss) stopped me and asked me to come into her office.  So I went in and noticed our accounting/hr person was in there too (but still thought nothing of it) and she says, "Well we've come to the 30 day mark of the 90 probationary period and we're going to let you go."


I swear I think I was in shock or something cuz I didn't even know what to say.  I know I was completely poised and polite and I think I said something along the lines of "I understand" and "Thank you for the opportunity."  The reason I was given is that they "needed someone with more experience, whose more familiar with AP style" and that my stories "needed to be edited too much."

Now, let me say here, that #1) they were 100% aware of who I was and how much experience I had when they hired me, #2) AP style basically just refers to punctuation/grammar/capitalization kinda rules and I keep a guide on my desk for reference anyway and 3) my editor doesn't even change my stories that much!  Also, this woman who was speaking to me is the publisher, not the editor.  I don't think she's even edited one of my stories.

So after I left her office, I went straight back to the editor's office.  Now, let me pause again here to clarify, this is NOT the editor that hired me.  The man that interviewed me, that I felt like I bonded with, that was such a great guy, had left and gone to another publication at the end of my first week there.  I was kinda bummed but figured it'd be okay cuz the man who ended up taking over the position was the other reporter and he seemed like a good guy too.  Also, the publisher had nothing to do with my hiring, at least as far as I never met her until after I was hired.  She was out of town when I came in for the interview.

Back to me stopping in the editor's office... I said "so I guess you already know about that" and he just said what?  When I said what [publisher - I won't use her name] just talked to me about, he just said "about updating your hours for Saturday?"  So then I realized even he didn't know and I said no, she just let me go. His jaw literally dropped and he just looked at me in shock and said "what??"  So I told him what she had said and he said he thought I was doing a good job and that he wasn't making that many changes to my stories and that he had already seen improvement in the couple weeks I had been there.  (On a side note, this editor had also said several times that I was a better writer than him, that I had written for bigger papers than he ever had and that on one story that we co-wrote together, that my portion was more compelling than his.)  So by this time, I had lost control of the waterworks and he said to me, "Well if it makes you feel better, I'm not the editor anymore."  Now it was my turn to say what??  Apparently, right before me, she had him behind closed doors and told him that he wasn't ready for the responsibility of being editor and that they had jumped the gun (hmmm... same thing she said to me about the other editor hiring me).  So now he was going back to being the other reporter.

I was shocked too but it all started to be a little clearer when he mentioned that there was some other guy who had already interviewed for the reporter position but didn't take it because of the money, who now apparently had come back into the picture and wanted to take the job.  I guess originally he was going to fill the editor's open reporter slot but with him being demoted back to reporter, I was one person too many!  I didn't even say anything to the publisher after he told me this but it seemed pretty cut and dry (and crappy) to me at that point.  I went back to my desk and told the photographer who sits across from me and same reaction... jaw literally dropped and what??  Told my friend who works right next to me... her jaw dropped and what??  No one could believe it.  The photographer shook his head and just kept saying how stupid it was and then said something like "you know what, that's par for the course around here" so I guess maybe stuff like this has happened before?  The lady that works next to me had to leave (she's an ad sales rep) but she got my email/phone number (with tears in her eyes) and then the photographer invited me to lunch with his fiance (the poor accounting/hr woman who sat uncomfortably in the publisher's office with me) and another coworker.

When I was at lunch with them, I found out that apparently two other people were "behind closed doors" after they left for lunch, so who knows what happened with them.  But personally, I just feel like the publisher must've wanted someone else for my position for awhile and not liked that the other editor that hired me.  At first, she was sweet as pie to me and even told me I could stay at her house on nights with bad weather since she lived close by.  But then these past couple weeks, I noticed she didn't talk to me or hardly even acknowledge me in the office and she never got my business cards which I had asked for like my first week there.  Guess maybe the wheels were already churning at that point.

Like I said, I'm not an editor, but I would think that your readers expressing their enjoyment and approval of a writer's work would be important.  Not to mention other editors of papers that are a lot larger and a lot more successful than yours.  But hey, what do I know?

So I guess tonight I am feeling a mix of emotions.  First it was shock, then it was sadness, then it was anger on my drive home, then just pretty much... nothing?  I don't know if that's the right word for it or not, but after those initial feelings earlier today, I still find myself playing with the dogs, making my dinner and well... just going about my regular activities.  I guess that's a good thing?  Now, of course, if I even let myself start to think about the financial part and start to wonder how I'm going to pay all of my bills, then I freak out.  But I'm not as freaked out about the job as I would've thought I'd be.  It still sucks and I'm still all kinds of confused, but what's that thing about being broken down until you have nothing left to do but look up and depend FULLY on God?  Maybe I've reached that point cuz all I'm really thinking at this point is wow, this definitely happened for a reason.  Now I just have to find out (not figure out) what that is.

Overall, I have learned that I unfortunately expect the worst most of the time.  I know that's awful to say and I don't want to be that way, cuz generally I TRY to be a positive person.  But I mean on a subconscious level, if I'm totally honest, I've realized that I do expect good things not to last and bad things to happen.  I'm sure that's the product of a not-so-happy home environment growing up, then thinking I found the love of my life and picturing wedding/babies/happy ever after and having that go horribly wrong, plus losing my dad, my sweet puppy and a bunch of other craziness... I think I got groomed that way without even noticing.  BUT I don't want to be that way, so I will intentionally continue to purposefully think the opposite way, even in cases like this.  Honestly, I didn't expect this to turn out this way at all.  But now that it has, I am choosing to not see it as another good thing coming to an end, but instead something okay getting out of the way to make room for something better.

Who knows?  My sister mentioned on the phone tonight that maybe I should look into jobs with animals since I have such an overwhelming love for them.  It's funny cuz this whole time I've been thinking that I was going to look into something with animals for my PT 2nd job, but maybe it will end up being the other way around and animals will be my FT job and writing will go back to being PT freelance.  I do know that I have literally been bombarded with animals for over a year now.  At my last job, I kept finding animals in the parking garage (seriously, who does that??) and then at this job, I kept seeing dogs on the road that I traveled back and forth to Lenoir.  Several right on the edge of the road that I drove myself crazy praying for their safety and one just this past Saturday that I pulled off the road and attempted to save (eventually some guy came out of the brush and called the dog over to him, after it had almost gotten run over not once, but twice!).  Maybe that has been God talking to me, as I was driving to what I thought I was supposed to be doing, revealing to me literally from all sides, what I need to be doing.  I do know without a doubt my love for animals is pretty much THE strongest 100% tied to my heart emotion that I have.  Guess I'll see...

I'm just going to pray, try to be quiet and listen, and of course... job search yet again.  I know for sure God has blessed me to love/be good at:

*Event planning

There are other things I am good at and other jobs I can do, but I know these are my strengths and passions so hopefully I will still end up doing one of these things or maybe all of them!  Only God knows for sure.

I know I'm not strong enough to be,
everything that I'm supposed to be.
I give up.
I'm not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won't you cover me,
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough,
Strong enough
For the both of us.

-Matthew West, Strong Enough

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Repairvite Update #1

So today is Day #9 of the diet .  I can't say there's a whole heckuva lot to report so far.  But I'm sure it takes a lot longer than 9 days for things to start changing for the better.

One thing I have noticed is my fatigue/tiredness seems to be even worse, if possible.  I can barely get moving in the morning when I wake up, I feel completely EXHAUSTED and it takes a couple hours for that lead-weight feeling to wear off.  I'm thinking that might be because I haven't mastered the art of keeping my blood sugar level on this diet though.  Not sure.  Good thing for me that I have a job with flexible hours. 

On the good side, I have noticed less "gurgliness" on a day to day basis.  There's been a couple nights where my stomach felt a little grumbley after dinner but not nearly like what I was used to on a daily basis before this diet.

As for the pain in my side, unfortunately that's still there and is still as sporadic as usual.  Interestingly, my urologist (for the ridiculous # of pee trips I take) said the pain MAY be associated with the IC (interstitial cystitis).  So who knows maybe he'll be able to help with the mystery pain. 

Speaking of Dr. P... I had an exploratory procedure this morning and had to take a valium for it so I'd be relaxed.  If you've never taken a valium, holy shnikes, that's some pill.  They tell you not to drive but I made the mistake of running one more errand after I picked up and took said pill.  Whoa!  That was an interesting trip back to my house. 

Anyhoo... it wasn't anything too terribly bad and basically he just ended up saying he's pretty sure it's IC and prescribed a pill to take.  Now even though I've been pretty anti-medication lately, I figure I will give this one a try because it actually is supposed to fix the actual problem and not just put a band-aid on the symptoms.  Course, the two possible side effects are stomach upset - yea, like I don't have enough issues with that, and possible hair thinning - um, no.  I already feel like my hair is thinner from all this stuff that's been going on with me this past year (my stylist thinks I'm imagining it) but you bet your butt I will have a close eye on the hairbrush!

Right now my stomach is not too happy with me, but since it's actually been better since I've on this diet, I'm thinking it's probably the antibiotic they made me take after the procedure.  See why I don't like medicine?  So I'm not going to jump to any conclusions just yet.

On the food front... I have become quite a fan of avacados, flavored olive oils and sea salt.  I made a good meal tonight - italian vegetables with artichoke hearts.  Yum!  And the other night, made a rosemary chuck roast in the crock pot.  YUM!  Both were recipes I got off of a menu planner from this website I happened upon last week called Heart of Cooking (http://allergyfreemenuplanners.com/).  Such an awesome site!  And talk about weird, she lives in Frederick, my hometown!

Welp that's it for now, I'm still kinda sleepy so it's lights out for me.  Hopefully this new medication won't mess things up and the diet will keep doing what it's supposed to do!  In the meantime, I will continue to dream of cinnamon toast, red velvet cupcakes and fro yo.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Repairvite Diet... crazy or miracle?

Well I'm about a week late in posting this since I wanted to start a blog about my restricted diet starting on Day 1.  But it's only Day 6 so that's not too bad.  ;)

For those of you that don't know, I've been having some strange health issues for the past year, since about Jan/Feb of 2012.  I've been to my PCP, a gastroenterologist (actually 2 GI docs and a GI nurse practicitioner) and an endocrinologist.  I've been prescribed about ten different medications (not to mention the ones that I didn't even bother filling), none of which did a thing to help me.  Which on a side note, can I just mention how disturbing it is how many times you are offered anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications, etc. as a treatment option for real physical symptoms?  It's crazy.  Anyway, I now owe the hospital system several hundred dollars for absolutely NOTHING. 

It started in January when I started having a dull pain under my last rib on the left side.  It was sporatic and not too intense so I didn't pay it much attention at first.  In fact, I went on a mission trip in end of Feb/beginning of March and was fine.  But by the time I came back from the trip, the pain had gotten more frequent and soon I started having problems with constipation, bloating and a lot of "gurgliness" in my side and stomach.  When I went to the GI doctor that had done my colonoscopy in December (which was just a preventative measure at that point... I didn't even have any of my symptoms yet) and told him about the pain in my side, he said he thought I had pulled a muscle and to put ice on it and take Advil.  WOW.  So eventually in May, I saw a GI nurse practicitioner in the doctor's office where I worked.  She did x-rays, had me drink several lovely concoctions, take several medications and even go for a not-so-fun "cleaning out" and literally 15 minutes after I left that procedure, clean as a whistle, I had the pain in my side while standing in line at a grocery store.  Hmm... guess that had nothing to do with the pain, huh?  The GI doctor that she worked with then prescribed me more medications and did an ultrasound, said he saw nothing and sent me on my merry way.  I went to the endocrinologist to see if any of it could be thyroid-related since my symptoms seemed to match up with that and was again told, everything looks normal.  At this point, I had pretty much given up although my symptoms hadn't gotten any better, in fact, they actually got worse.

Besides the pain in my side, the constipation, bloating and gurgliness, my anxiety has come back, I feel strangely down/blah most of the time, I have shakiness/tremors, frequent urination, trouble sleeping, can't concentrate or focus like normal and am SO TIRED 24/7, I can hardly do my normal routine much less anything like exercise.  I never sleep through the night anymore, I get winded just bending over to pull the laundry out of the washer and when I stand (yes, just stand) for too long... say, like the time it takes me to take a shower, my legs feel so tired you would think I had just run a marathon.  I'll wake up in the morning and feel like I haven't slept in days.  I don't have an "afternoon crash", I basically have a morning one, an afternoon one and a night one cuz I'm tired ALL day.   I can't remember anything anymore without writing it down and just focusing on something is an effort.  Not to mention the time I left for work in the morning and couldn't figure out where to turn onto the highway.  Yes, the highway I drive every single day... it's like my brain forgot where the entrance ramp was.

At first, I gained like 15lbs out of nowhere too, although I'm not sure if it's all still there (I don't own a working scale) but my stomach/waist is always distended so all of my clothes that just fit me last season don't fit me this year.  And the worst part is, you get so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, that you stop wanting to even do anything.  I worry that my friends won't even ask me to do anything anymore because of how many times I've said no or cancelled at the last minute from not feeling good.  It sucks because I'm sure to just look at me, I probably look fine (although I can tell the difference when I look at myself in the mirror) but half the time, I just feel BLEH.  I think I understand what people with chronic pain must feel like.  Not that I at all compare my issues with theirs, but that I can understand what it feels like to not have "visible" symptoms.  And then of course, I start to feel bad for feeling bad because I know how much worse it could be and how people with terminal illnesses can only wish to have the "issues" that I do.  And so the cycle goes round and round.

So about a month and a half ago, I decided to go to a naturopathic doctor.  Pretty much as a last resort.  At the first meeting, I had a better feeling than I ever had at one of the "conventional" doctor's offices.  He gave me SO much information that most of it went over my head but I felt like he at least had a clue.  He sent me for a couple blood tests and I got all of my records from the other docs for my next appt.  At that appt, he again gave me more information than my brain could handle, but he said my bloodwork clearly matched up with the symptoms I was complaining of and... surprise! I wasn't crazy.  Well hallelujah.  He said he could tell off the bat, I have issues with my blood sugar, have an autoimmune disorder (although he couldn't say for sure which one specifically without further testing), have adrenal/thyroid issues (yes, the numbers traditional doctors use when they decide what's "normal" are not always accurate) and he thinks I have what's called "leaky gut syndrome."  I didn't quite get all of what that is but something about the membrane that lines my intestinal tract is not intact so things get across it that shouldn't.  So basically, bad things can get in and good things can get out.  He said my body doesn't break down nutrients properly so I'm barely getting any essential nutrients from my food and on top of that, he thinks I may have some food allergies so my body is most likely wasting a ton of energy attacking itself every time I eat the "wrong" thing.  Oh and, my white blood cell count is elevated (which again, all the other doctors missed) which is a sign of a chronic infection.  He wasn't sure exactly what it was again without further testing.

HUH.  Gee I wonder why I've been feeling like crap lately.

So what's the solution?  Well to start with , there are supplements.  I'm taking a probiotic, two other oral supplements, a lotion supplement and drinking a lovely concoction called Repairvite that is like caramel-flavored sand that dissolves in hot water.  Yum.  Then there's the diet.  I wasn't the ideal patient since I decided to wait until after Christmas/New Years to start the diet.  I figured it would just be too hard with all the parties and food everywhere.  So I started on January 1 and this will be my life for the next 2 months:

What I can eat:
-Meat (antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed beef, chicken, turkey and fish)
-Certain veggies
-Certain fruits
-Fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha tea)
-Yam noodles
-Olive oil

And THAT'S IT.  So to make that more clear, here's what I can't eat:

-Other vegetables like potatoes, peas, green beans, etc.
-Other fruits like bananas, pineapples, mangoes, etc.
-Any dairy products
-Any grains including oats, quinoa, wheat, etc.
-Any sugars including agave, honey, chocolate, etc.
-Nightshade foods including tomatoes, eggplant, tobasco, peppers, etc.

Yea basically, 95% of the grocery store.  So for this week, I have mostly been eating berries, turkey sausage, avacados, chicken, spinach, sweet potatoes and broccoli.  And I have come to the conclusion that I am just going to eat to sustain my life for the next 2 months, not to enjoy it.  ;)  And if it works and it actually changes how I feel, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

I read a bunch of posts about this diet on the internet the other night and I was inspired.  Most people that said they had done this diet said it was awesome or "life changing" and all of them said they had the same symptoms as me... GI problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, etc.  I found one girl who said she was going to blog about her experience but never posted again after the first day.  So that gave me the idea to do this.  I love to write and I'm doing the diet, so I may as well share it!  I'm not very educated on how to get my blog out there to the people at large though, so I hope maybe it will come up for them in a search like it did for me cuz I'd love to hear from other people that have had similar experiences or are doing the diet too!  And I hope to keep up with updates about how it's going for me.

So goodnight for now... wish me luck!