PLEASE, PLEASE read if you or anyone you know drinks diet soda.
In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick. She had stomach spasms and she was having a hard time getting around. Walking was a major chore. It took everything she had just to get out of bed; she was in so much pain.
By March 2002, she had undergone several tissue and muscle biopsies and was on 24 various prescription medications. The doctors could not determine what was wrong with her. She was in so much pain, and so sick she just knew she was dying.
She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughter’s name, and made sure that her younger children were to be taken care of.
She also wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to Florida (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd.
On March 19, I called her to ask how her most recent tests went, and…
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Stress Management. How many articles and books have been written on this subject? How many medications are taken daily in hopes of managing the stress we experience? What coping mechanisms can we practice?
As a health coach, I regularly see people suffering from various health issues as a result of being under too much stress. Since Battered Hope has been released, one of the questions I get most often is: How did you endure all the trauma? After 41 years of marriage and surviving often insurmountable circumstances, my response is almost always the same, “I learned how to laugh!”
You have heard it said “Laughter is the best medicine.” That statement carries a tremendous amount of weight because if we find something to laugh about in any given situation, we get through it so much easier and faster. Allow me to paint you a word picture to illustrate my point.
My son sold an engine mount for a motor bike on eBay and asked if I would mail it for him. No problem. The postage was going to be astronomical if sent from Canada so I offered to take it to the US.
My first question to you is this, “Who, in their right state of mind, crosses the border on a Friday long weekend in summer?” I left home at 5:30 in the morning to be sure I would arrive early enough to avoid a line-up. Wrong! It was a 45 minute wait.
The UPS store opened earlier than the post office so that was my first stop. I had to purchase the necessary supplies for packing this irregular parcel and assumed they would help me do this without incident. I had collected $35 from the eBay customer which, again assuming, would be more than adequate funds. Three wrongs do not make one right!
They told me it would be ready in about half an hour. I went to the post office to mail other items and there was a 30 minute line up. The post office is a great place to watch people deal with stress. For some reason, apparently the person standing behind counter is at total fault for a parcel being lost in transit. It is also the post office employee’s fault that the cost of postage is so high.
I realize how stressful their job can be so usually get the employees laughing. Wicket number one is Joe. He is bald, retiring soon and has a handlebar mustache he plays with consistently – probably a stress reliever. Ken, in wicket number two, is a very short man who thinks he is an Elvis impersonator and usually starts serenading me when he sees me come through the door. I try to ignore him and he just sings louder until I acknowledge him with at least a nod. Is this a way for him to deal with his stressful day? Then there is Jim. He is a very good looking man with long curly gray hair. He is the most serious of the group.
My lucky day – I get Jim. We chat for a minute and one of the workers in the back recognizes my voice and comes out to say hello. This certainly makes up for all the time spent waiting in line and I joke with them both for a minute and get them laughing.
Back to the UPS store to mail the parcel. The girl that waited on me sighs a big sigh and says “Sorry, but I had to put three boxes together to accommodate the mount and the cost is $20 to prepare it for shipping.” No problem as I had collected $35. I asked for the cheapest rate and she checks UPS, FED EX and USPS. “$120 is the cheapest.” I thought I didn’t hear her correctly and asked her to repeat it. Nope, heard it right! At this point, I decided to try the post office as I ‘assumed’ she could not be right.
This is where it starts to get stressful. Now that the engine mount was in a box, it would not fit into the back of my Jeep. The thermometer was rapidly rising and I was trying to manipulate this monstrosity into my SUV and finally managed with a third of it sticking out the back window. It was over 8 feet long.
After waiting in line for 40 minutes, with a box that is taller than me, Ken waits on me. He starts to sing about how long it has been since he last saw me, laughing because it was just earlier that day! I’m tired and hot and just want to get this done. He points out that a metal part has punctured the box and is sticking out, “Sorry, but you can’t mail it in this condition. You’ll have to fix it and bring it back.” Thanking him I said I would do that immediately but first, “How much will it cost to mail it?”
He measures it and says “$120.” So UPS gal was right. “However, if you can scrape two inches off the packaging, it will only be $35.”
A kind gentleman helped me get the box back into my vehicle and I head to the UPS store. I explain the situation to UPS and we decided we could make it work. First thing was to unbolt the crank that was sticking out the side. The two of us tried to loosen it without any luck. So, we made a little cardboard box to fit around it to cover it. Then I explained the problem with the length. We tried to “squish” it shorter. I sat on the box while she strapped it with heavy duty tape. “There, that should do it!” She measured it and it had now grown five inches. At this point, tears might have come easily but logic had to take over. I could do this. Once again, I didn’t believe her and measured it myself and it was only one inch over the limit. She suggested I go back to the post office and cry and play the sympathy card.
Load it back into the Jeep, get in line – 30 minutes this time. When the guys saw me in line there was loud laughter. Of course it was funny, even though I wasn’t having any fun.
Ken waits on my again. He measures it and I tell him “I have to mail it for $35.” He measures it and says “Sorry, that will be $200. I must have looked like I was going to burst into tears and he started to laugh loudly. “Actually, you did a great job and it will cost you $29.”
By the time I finished my errands and got back to the border I was extremely tired and the border guard asked me a strange question, “Do you have any mace?” Being a baker, I immediately thought of pumpkin pie spice and told him “I don’t make pumpkin pies until Thanksgiving.” He looked at me like I was from outer space and then said, “Do you have any pepper spray?”
I started laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes and wanted to tell him about my day but kept my composure and assured him I did not have any weapons. I realize this is not considered a stressful day for people who have serious problems and dealing with situations that can be debilitating. But my point is, I have had a very traumatic life and overcame cancer, marital abuse, loss of a child, suicide attempt and suffered huge financial losses as a result of partners that were devious and greedy. No matter how stressful the situation you find yourself in, you can find something to be thankful for and realize that it could have been worse. Attitude is extremely important when dealing with tension and having a positive one is the key to being an over-comer.
Public Speaking. Speaking in Public. Speaking to a large group of people. Speaking to a room full of your peers. There is an old adage that says some people fear public speaking more than death. I have never understood that because the opportunity of sharing to a group of people is one of my greatest pleasures. I love to make people laugh, cry, relate and to encourage and motivate them. If this is an area that you struggle with, I may have learned a few things that will help you.
One of the most important things you must learn is what you do in the first six seconds. If you walk up to the microphone and start to speak before you get there, it shows your nervousness. First impressions are huge and you want to give a good one. So, the first six seconds – don’t say a word. Pick up your microphone, look at your audience and smile. In these first six seconds your audience is analyzing you. They don’t hear what you say until they have had a good look at you.
Of course, it is necessary to present yourself well in your appearance but, and this is a very big BUT, it is not what you wear or even necessarily what you say that is the most important. You can enunciate perfectly. You can be the greatest orator. You can articulate clearly. However, if it comes from a cold place, your audience will perceive it and inevitably tune you out almost immediately. As you become aware of this, it makes you even more nervous.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That bears repeating. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It does not matter what you are speaking about, do it with passion. You cannot find passion in a book. You cannot find passion in any store. No website sells passion. Your passion comes from within and people will recognize it very quickly.
I have been in sales most of my life and I have never sold anything I am not passionate about. I am a health coach and a lot of people that arrive at my office are in a desperate place. They are looking for answers. They need help.
When I was in my twenties a doctor told me I had two choices. I could have a hysterectomy or die within two years. He was just that cold about his diagnosis. An anger rose up inside me and I stood up in front of his desk and said “I will not accept those choices. I will find an alternative!” He then stood up, shook his finger in my face and said “Then, Lady, go home…suffer… and die!” With even more rage I retorted “I will walk in here pregnant one day!” And I did – 14 years later.
I determined that I would help as many people with their health issues as I could, for the rest of my life. When I make recommendations to people, sometimes it is difficult for them to accept the fact that they can get better. Many times, someone will say to me, “I want to believe you, but it is difficult. However, one thing I am sure about and that is, I know you care. And for that reason, I am willing to trust what you are telling me.”
My point is, you need to be passionate about what you are speaking about and people will listen. When you are speaking in public, you are selling yourself first, your product second.
Speaking to a group is like giving a gift to someone. When you do it from a place of love and compassion, you are not doing it because you have to, you are doing it because you want to. This is key to being a success.
So, how can being warm and fuzzy help me when I speak in public? It does not matter what you are talking about. It does not matter what you are selling. If you believe in what you are doing, if you are passionate about your subject, your audience will notice and reciprocate – making you very comfortable and relaxed. So when you are preparing your speech, think about what it really means to you. Why is it important to you? How can your product or service benefit others? Think of what your audience needs and how you can give it to them. They will recognize your motive and you will be successful.
I noticed a woman walking a Bull Mastiff that was not muzzled and was wearing a small collar. As they got closer, the large dog took three leaps towards Texas. She did not bark or growl. There was no indication that she was about to attack. She was no match for the woman who was walking her and pulled away easily causing her owner to fall. Molly, the large dog, grabbed Texas so quickly I did not have a moment to pick him up out of harm’s way. He was in the mouth of this dog who violently shook him for a full five minutes. Molly’s head was the size of my Texas. I did everything humanly possible to release her hold. I screamed so loudly that I damaged lung tissue and was feeling ill. I kicked her several times but she would not release little Texas. Finally, I gave her a hard kick to the groin and she dropped him.
Within moments, my husband approached us in the truck and I yelled at him to open the tailgate as Texas had been attacked. I picked up my mangled little buddy and didn’t know if he would live or die.
We assessed very quickly what happened and realized the woman with the Bull Mastiff was swiftly walking away. I ran after her and confronted her about the dog. The woman claimed the dog was not hers. She was walking it for her uncle who was in Hawaii. I knew that we had an emergency on our hands but had the presence of mind to ask the woman to call my cell phone so that I would have a record of the phone number. The woman was reluctant but I can be very convincing. She did not even offer an apology and was trying to move swiftly away.
We were about five miles from the closest veterinary hospital and drove as fast as possible, blowing the horn and flashing our lights. I called a friend to alert the hospital we would be arriving.
Two compassionate gentle nurses attended to Texas. They were amazed at how calm he was but alarmed at his condition.
It took about an hour to assess the damage and we had to make a decision. It appeared that no organs were affected which was a determining factor in our decision. The doctor said the only thing that saved his life was his fat.
This is a dog that spent the first 12 years of his life as a stud (27 litters) and he also had a full time job running the horses out to pasture each morning and bringing them home at night. He had been kicked many times by the horses but always knew he was in charge.
I looked my husband in the eye and asked if we should say good-bye. My mother-in-law had died three weeks earlier and Texas was my husband’s best friend. We could not say good-bye yet.
The tears on his back extended the width of his body and his skin was ripped away causing extensive damage. His leg and shoulder were severely torn open and one of his teeth was broken off. We determined that he got one good bite into his attacker.
Texas was our little buddy and I was heartbroken. He just stared at me, obviously in shock and certainly confused and scared.
Prior to doing the surgery, the vet told us that Texas would probably not handle more than one and a half hours of surgery due to his age, so he couldn’t make any promises. Surgery lasted three and one half hours. The doc said that his blood pressure or heart rate never elevated and he could not believe how healthy he was for a 15 year old dog. He said Tex had more stitches than any animal he had worked on. Instead of using staples, he individually tied each of the 150 stitches to help avoid infection. The hospital stayed in close contact with me through the evening.
When I picked him up the next morning, there were no guarantees if he would make it. For the next three weeks, my husband slept with him on the sofa, changing his bandages every hour as there was so much drainage. He was on strong pain killers and I was glad he was not in pain.
When he went in for his check-up we were told that they would have to do another surgery as most of the skin on his back had died from the damage and they would have to cut it away and restitch him. This surgery lasted close to two hours. Another three weeks of sleeping with him and nursing him 24/7.
We sent kudos to the hospital in the local paper and five people came forward whose dogs were attacked by the same dog and each time the owner ran away. No one had been able to get any contact information previously. I was determined these people would pay for the vet bills and they did, to the tune of $7,000. I gave each of the other people, whose dogs had been attacked by this same dog, the owner’s contact information.
The newspaper in our town had a photo contest of the best kiss on Valentine’s Day. I just couldn’t resist and submitted the attached photo and won second prize. Within a few months, Texas was back to running and enjoying life. He seems to understand the importance of living life to it’s fullest. In some ways, he seems younger than ever. That was almost 2 years ago and he is still as active.
We know the time is approaching that we will have to say good-bye to our little buddy as he is 17 now, but I am so glad we made the decision to give him these extra years. I also know that his incredible state of health from being on a raw food diet helped saved his life. (see my post on “Number 1 Reason not to Feed your Best Friend Commercial Pet Food”)
“I am getting pressure from my family. I need to have my son back.” I fell into my chair not believing what I was hearing. We had our son since he was three days old and now a year later, she was asking for him back. Our lawyer said “Give him back.” Words that will resonate fear and pain forever.
When I wrote my memoir, Battered Hope, one of the many traumas I share is losing our young son and the pain that penetrated like none other. Then a year later, we adopted another little boy and his mother changed her mind before we ever got to hold him. I knew I was going to be a mommy but my hope was withering.
Another year passed and bliss walked into our lives. We adopted our perfect little boy. We raised him as our own and loved him unconditionally through many difficulties. This is the role I was meant to play. Nothing made me happier than being a mother except becoming a grandmother of not just one grandson, but two.
I cried a lot of tears but they were tears of joy. Living near our son and his wonderful family was the fulfillment I had always dreamed of and hoped for.
Without warning of any kind, the day after our wedding anniversary celebration, our son announced he was walking away from our family. There was no room for negotiation. It was worse than divorce and much more like a death. Shock is not a powerful enough word. A stab in the heart is not a strong enough explanation. My doctor told me that dying of heart break can actually happen and I had all the symptoms.
Trying to cope each day took all my concentrated effort. I went through all the phases of grief and asked all the questions, but never got any answers.
In Battered Hope, I survived rape, marital abuse, divorce, seven major financial losses, jail, cancer, attempted suicide and more. But the deepest pain of all was this loss of family. Nothing can replace it. I do not understand it. I continue to believe it will be healed. I will never give up hope.
Battered Hope available at Amazon – http://amzn.to/14IKPeO
I am not trying to sell you any dog food, but I am a dog lover who wants to get the word out about commercial pet food.
There are many reasons why we should not use commercial pet food to feed our best friends. Taking the time to do even minimal research, you will find out how many cancer-causing chemicals, preservatives and additives it contains.
If you love your dog, and I am sure you do or you would not be reading this post, then please consider feeding your best friend a natural food diet.
One of the first reactions people make regarding natural pet food is “I can’t afford it!” First of all, the food is basically the same price or cheaper than commercial brands. Secondly, and even more important, your vet bills will drop to a minimum or become non-existent.
Remember when we were kids– now I am talking to those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s — do you remember buying dog food in the stores? I certainly don’t. Our dogs ate the leftovers from dinner. If you remember that than you also recall we almost never took our pets to the vet. In general, all our pets lived healthy lives.
I am not sure when, but I think it was in the late 60s, we introduced “pet food” to our dogs and cats. We were told it was unhealthy to give them table scraps. Soon, we had to take them to see the pet doctor as they were acquiring various health issues.
In my adult life, we had several dogs and cats who were all raised on pet food. They were, in fact, part of our family and only the best food would do — and usually it was the most expensive. They acquired various health issues, including cancer, and certainly did not live life to their full potential.
Approximately six years ago, we watched a television special about commercial dog food and were appalled. It explained that it didn’t really matter how much money you spent on your dog food, it basically was the same with so many chemicals, toxins, additives, food coloring you name it…
We immediately introduced our Black Lab to a raw food diet and within a few weeks, she lost ten pounds of weight that she did not need. Her coat became shiny and satiny, her eyes cleared from the allergies she had, her breath started to smell sweet and she had more energy.
Around the same time, we inherited a miniature Dachshund who was twelve years old. He had several tumor like growths and dragged his hind quarters. He appeared to be in a lot of pain and had to be carried outside to relieve himself. In two weeks time, he went from dragging his back end to running and jumping. His tumors literally disappeared and he was obviously happier. He is now 17 and our Lab is 13. They are still both youthful, playful and full of life with shiny coats and healthy teeth. We have not had a vet bill in all these years.
I promised you the NUMBER ONE reason to switch to a natural food diet and here it is. There are several large dog food manufacturing facilities that purchase euthanized pets from veterinary clinics to be ground up and used in their dog food. Even more disgusting they don’t bother to remove the collars, leashes or plastic bags from the dogs. These companies will also buy road kill. If this is not enough for you to at least check out a natural diet……..
Many of our acquaintances have switched their dogs to a raw food diet with similar results. I am so thankful for giving new life to our little friends and seriously recommend you check out a raw food diet for yours. We buy their meat at our local butcher which is ground beef and heart. To that we add carrots, celery, apple, parsley and yams that we have put through the food processor. We add some vitamins and that’s it. A couple times a week they get raw beef knuckle bones which clean their teeth and work their upper body muscles. Healthy, happy pets without large medical bills.
It may be well worth while to check out a raw food diet that is recommended for your pet. Vets will usually warn you against it — and I believe the reasons are obvious.
I married the world’s worst procrastinator. I have learned NEVER to ask him if he wants to do something now or later. He will always choose “later” – it does not matter what it is. Even after all the years we have been together, he will choose to put things off. It certainly has been a problem for him, especially when he misses something important because he is too late. I have made it a mission in life to raise my children to be organized and not put things off until later. Even though it has been difficult for them at times, in the end they are so glad they did not put off the inevitable until another time.
Have you ever spent countless minutes, hours and even days searching for something you misplaced?
Have you even had an argument with someone you live with for misplacing something of his or hers?
Have you ever missed an appointment because you forgot?
Have you ever been halfway to your destination and remembered you didn’t bring what you needed?
Do you have piles of papers, or unopened mail that you will get to someday?
Do you have that nagging notion constantly telling you to get organized?
Have you read books and/or articles on how to get organized?
Have you purchased organizational aids to help you and then never used them?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, obviously you are not organized to the point you want to be. There is a very simple solution to this problem. I am quite sure you are thinking, “Yeah, right.” You have tried everything and nothing has worked so far.
I have a tried and proven method to get you organized and eliminate all that wasted time spent trying to get organized. I know there are countless books on the subject. I know you can spend money on books, CD’s, videos and even go to courses to get the desired results but I am going to give you a secret.
If you are serious about getting organized, you will get the results, using ONE little secret. It is a secret my father taught me when I was a little girl and it still works today – every time!
REMEMBER — It takes thirty days to break a habit and form a new one. But, the exciting part is that you can get results immediately. Each time you take a baby step in the right direction, it will pay off big time in the end. The more progress you make, the closer you are to becoming ORGANIZED. To some that is a dirty word – because it seems so impossible.
Do you have any idea how much time you will have to do the things you want to do when you are not wasting your time trying to find something? Once you get into the habit, it comes easy.
My father drilled this into my psyche and it is still there and has helped me to be organized, on time, and a lot less frustrated.
It is six little words. Before I tell you the words, be prepared to say them a hundred times a day, if you need to. Make up some post-it notes and put them all over the house, your office, and your car.
Those six little words are – DO IT RIGHT – DO IT NOW! Just that simple. Saying them out loud requires commitment.
Even after all these years, sometimes I want to choose to put something off until later or not do it properly. But I say DO IT RIGHT – DO IT NOW! As soon as I make the effort, I reap the benefits.
I rarely, if ever, lose or misplace something because it was not put back where it belonged. It is easy to put off doing something now by making the excuse that you don’t have time. Take the time. You will learn to make the time to do it now and properly.
If it is a big job that needs doing, make a point of putting it at the top of your priority list to do before you take on any other task, which may be more pleasant.
If I have several tasks to do that I don’t want to do, I will do something I enjoy doing first, then do the unpleasant one. It feels incredibly great to get that task done and I reward myself with doing something I enjoy before taking on the next big task.
It may sound too simple to work but it does! I challenge you to be diligent for 30 days and the benefits and rewards will be incredible.
You can thank me now (or later) but please send me your thoughts, ask me questions or tell me about your victories!
And with the extra time you have, I would sincerely appreciate if you would take a minute to read my other posts. I just launched my memoir, Battered Hope. If you need encouragement or feel like you have an insurmountable amount of troubles, this book will definitely give you hope. I survived cancer, rape, marital abuse, huge financial losses as a victim of being robbed and battered, jail, loss of a child and many other traumas. I refused to let these circumstances steal my joy or my hope for a better tomorrow. Cry with me and rejoice with me – Battered Hope by Carol Graham.
The definition of Victor is: One who defeats an adversary; the winner in a fight, battle, contest, or struggle.
The definition of Victim is: a person who is deceived or cheated, by his or her own emotions or ignorance, or by the dishonesty of others.
I certainly was cheated and abused and hurt and taken advantage of by the dishonesty of others but I determined not to allow my emotions to overrule my intelligence. A wise man once told me “When you buy the thought, you buy the lie!” I learned how to say NO to negative thoughts, to defeatist ideas, to martyr attitudes. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
You can’t be a Victor without going through a battle. The question is whether or not you choose to win or lose.
“V is for Victory!” That was what the doctor said when my daughter was delivered. “You got what you wanted!” All I ever wanted was a baby and I wasn’t sure what the doctor meant. Did he think I might get something other than a baby? My 5 year old son said “I don’t think she’s cooked yet, mommy. She’s all purple and shriveled and stuff.” The doctor showed her to me. She had a birthmark on her forehead in the shape of a “V.” She was born six weeks early and the pregnancy was touch and go from the start. I spent most of my pregnancy in the hospital and was told almost everyday – “We need to prepare you for the worst. The chance of you both surviving this pregnancy is doubtful.” These doctors had no idea who they were dealing with.
By the time my daughter was born, I had already lived a life of trauma. This was just one more hurdle to overcome. It was sheer determination to keep a positive attitude that got me through. Not only did I get through, but my little bundle of joy registered a 10 on the Apgar score for newborns – the highest possible – a perfect 10!
When I decided to finally put pen to paper and write my memoir, Battered Hope, it took a great deal of courage. But I was familiar with courage – it had become second nature to me. I learned how to cope, how to thrive, how to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, it was never easy. Just because you have had a bad experience doesn’t make the next one easier – stronger, yes – easier, no. My memoir has 12 chapters and there is a minimum of one traumatic event in each chapter, oft times, more than one.
I had always regarded myself as a winner. I maintained that attitude no matter what happened. When I would throw a pity party, no one showed up because I never invited anyone. It was easier that way. I discovered that even if you thought you were a winner, if people knew all the trauma you were going through, they would label you a loser and let’s face it, people don’t want to be around a loser.
After my memoir was published, a lot of people who thought they knew me, including family, were amazed at what I had survived. I was always the rock that people depended on; the shoulder to cry on when they had problems. Little did they know that when I cried with them, I was also crying for myself.
I determined at a very young age, that if I made people laugh, it helped me to forget what I was going through. I maintained that attitude throughout my life. I have been married to the same man for 41 years and when asked what has kept our marriage together my answer is “I keep him laughing.”
I have received countless positive reviews for Battered Hope, but the ones I find most interesting are the four negative ones. They all say the same thing “I don’t believe it. It is a bunch of lies. No woman could have that much happen to her and still thrive.” I would rather be called a liar than a bad writer so I accepted those reviews easily and one person that had the gall to say it to my face was met with a response she did not expect. I told her, “You are right. It was actually a lot worse than what I wrote, but I knew people like you wouldn’t have been able to handle the whole truth!”
My question to you is: Are you a victim or a victor? The answer lies in how you look at it. Finding good in every situation may not be easy but it certainly helps you survive. It helps you maintain the attitude that you are a winner and not a loser. It helps you keep things in perspective.
It has been said that the definition of Success is “Getting up one more time after you have been knocked down.” Never stop getting up, success is within reach but if you don’t try, you become the victim.
My daughter is now in her late twenties and when she gets upset her “V” flares up. Whenever I see that, I am elated that I never gave up, but rose to victory in many arenas.
My name is Carol Graham and I recently published Battered Hope. Battered Hope is my true story of a strong, courageous woman overcoming insurmountable obstacles including cancer, rape, marital abuse, suicide attempt, jail, loss of a child and huge financial losses. A gripping, captivating novel.