Monday, August 31, 2009

A cold hard look in the mirror

Though yesterday was a wonderful day both emotionally and spiritually it was a rough day physically. When I tried to nap and when I tried to go to bed last night I had enough pain in my right hip, left knee and lower back that sleep was elusive. Not the sharp, stabbing kind of pain, but a deep, down to the bone ache. Needless to say- it kept sleep at bay and gave me lots of time to think.

While I my mind was roaming I came to several conclusions. I am not particularly traditionally "smart". If I work hard and am interested in something, I can learn it or I can research and find the answers that I seek. I know a little about a whole lot of things but I am not particularly well versed in anything. I am not what you would call beautiful. I had a decent smile- until I ground my teeth to the point that they are not even and now it is not my best feature. I was "cute" but really-what is and who wants to be- cute at 42? We will leave the beauty to my younger sisters. I am not particularly talented. I can't sing a lick- well I do sing- just not well. I did some acting in high school but it never went further. I will never write the Great American Novel or even a Pulitzer Prize winning anything. I do some craft work, but not beyond the rudimentary level. I am not particularly athletic- you can tell that by just looking at me.

All of that said- I do have some things going for me. I am completely loyal to those I love and those I call my friend. It takes quite a bit for me to really let someone in- but once I do, it would take a lot for me to turn away from them. If you are my friend or my family- I would give you the shirt off my back or do anything in my power for you. I have a very strong work ethic. I have been working and giving it my all for 29 years now. If I take on a job- be it paid or volunteer, I give it my best. I try my best to lead by example and don't ask anything of others that I would not do myself. I also have very high standards for myself and for others, but one is not higher than the other. I have a keen sense of curiosity. I love to learn about new things- which is probably why I know about a myriad of topics. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I know that that really doesn't affect others- but it makes living with RA a lot easier than it could be.

I haven't quite figured out what all of this means yet, but I think it can be good to give yourself a reality check every once in a while. It offers a barometer of where you are and gives you a look at where to go from here. I really don't know how I will leave my mark on this world- but at least I know where I am at this moment. If nothing else came from a lack of sleep- I can be thankful for the opportunity for a little harsh self examination.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lazy Temperate Sundays.

It is a lovely morning here in Kentuckiana. It's 11:30am and a whopping 68 degrees out. Our high today will be a comfortable 74. This is the very best weather for my rheumatoid arthritis. Days like this, I don't have extra swelling brought on by the heat makes my muscles ache and my joints feel like they are encased in sausages or the extreme stiffness that the cold brings. Days like today- it only takes about two hours till I am moving at my level of normal.

There are several things we *could* do today, and some that we *should* but today only the most pressing will get done. In fact, my honey has already started laundry and I just finished making us a lovely egg scramble for brunch. A late lunch is planned (Goulash) and since my honey will be gone at dinnertime- "real" stove top popcorn is on my agenda. I have planned several meals for the rest of the week while I was waiting for my tramadol to kick in before I could administer my methotrexate this morning so that we can either start them in the morning or put them together after work and several other tasks are complete.

My plans for the rest of the day are very simple- I am planning a nap, I have a stack of magazines to rip apart (I tear out the articles I want to read at a later time- taking a folder with me is great for waiting rooms), and a couple of books that I can sink into. Perhaps Miss Dog, my books and I will spend some time on the porch enjoying the sun and the breeze. Tonight- well, we have several episodes of Wipeout and I Survived a Japanese Game Show to watch- because they just make me laugh myself silly- while I give myself a paraffin hand bath and manicure. Basically nothing pressing and everything enjoyable.

I love days like today. I imagine and hope that this will be my life when we retire. A lazy Sunday is such a luxury that I want to embrace it and hold on for as long as possible and savor every second. My gratitude for this day cannot be verbalized but it is felt from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Simply Gratitude

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~
Simple Abundance

I own a lot of "self-help" books. Books about managing money, managing clutter, managing time. I have books on diet (lots of them), exercise, massage and living holistically. Of my three 7+foot bookshelves, several shelves are devoted just to books on improving my life. Of all these type of books, there are five specific books and one series that I read over and over and over. Those books are:

*Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach

*Simplify Your Life:100 Ways to Slow Down & Enjoy the Things That Really Matter,
Elaine St. James

*Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More,
Elaine St. James

*Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul,
Elaine St. James

*Eat, Pray, Love; Elizabeth Gilbert

*The Chicken Soup Series; Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

The common threads throughout these books are finding peace within yourself and practicing gratitude. I have come to believe over the last few months that if you practice gratitude- it will lead to finding peace within yourself and the more you find peace within yourself- the more you find for which to be grateful. It is a lovely circle.

It is interesting how your mindset changes when you look at things with gratitude in your heart. One prime example is my struggles with my body. For almost thirty years now I have had issues with my body. I have always been a curvy girl. As a teen- I hated those curves with a passion. As an adult- I yo-yo'd up and down, tried a diet, gave up on dieting, tried a new diet, gave up on dieting- over and over again. When I developed rheumatoid arthritis- I was not surprised that my body would betray me, after all we have had a love/hate relationship for years. This just added fuel to the fire. Then I started practicing gratitude. I found that I could be grateful for all of the things my body does FOR me. I can be grateful for what hasn't given out on me. When it comes time (twice a week) for my injections, I can be grateful for those curves! If I were a skinny-minnie, those injections would hurt a heck of a lot more! Now- am I completely satisfied with my body? Absolutely not. That said- my gratitude has brought me peace with it and though I still struggle with the need to change my body, it is not out of loathing but out of hopes to minimize the further damage to my joints. I can be grateful that my pain is at an acceptable level. I can hope to stay here and ward off future flares by being better about the way that I care for my body. I can be grateful that I have not been too sick or had too many infections (knock wood) and hope to keep it that way by being conscious of the vitamins and antioxidants in my food choices. When I started my methotrexate I was terrified of losing my hair- to the point that I cut it all off; dumb move in retrospect but the sight of long hairs in the drain sent me into a downward spiral. Now, a year later I can be grateful that not only have I not lost my hair (thank you folic acid!) but the fact that it is growing more slowly also means that the rest of my hair is doing the same which means shaving less often and who wouldn't love that? I have discovered that, probably courtesy of my cocktail of drugs, my hair no longer holds artificial color. In the past year I have tried and tried to color my hair darker and cover my grays. Realizing that even "permanent" color won't take any longer has led me to realize that my dark blonde hair has natural highlights and that my half a dozen gray hairs are hard earned in my forty two years. I can now look in the mirror and see the beauty in my natural color and leave it alone to do it's own thing. I have accepted my wrinkles and laugh lines as evidence of the happiness I have enjoyed over the years and rather than fighting them I can wear them proudly being grateful for all of the worries and smiles that put them there.

Ms. Ban Breathnach is absolutely correct in that the more you find to be grateful for, the more you are given to be grateful about. She estimates two months but common wisdom says that it takes three weeks to create or break a habit. I have found that day by day we can change our outlook on every aspect of our lives just by giving thanks for what we have. It doesn't take being thankful for the big things, it is the little things that add up and make the biggest difference in our overall attitude. Slowing down, simplifying our lives and counting our blessings can be so rewarding on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It opens our hearts and minds to the things that we may be missing if we continue to see the darker side of our lives.

Whether you think I have hit on something here- or have lost my ever loving mind, I challenge you to stop today, take as long as it takes, but look around you and look inside and find ten things you can be grateful for at this time. See if it doesn't change the way you feel about your life if only for a moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RA and the "News"

I want to share this morning my utter dissapointment in Woman's Day Magazine.

In an article in their August 4th 2009 issue (linked above)Woman's Day published an article on Rheumatoid Arthritis that, in my opinion, very much trivializes what it is like to live with this disease. It is as if the writer picked up a pamphlet somewhere and then glossed over the facts. A far better picture of what it is really like to live with this disease comes from the 33 comments that follow the article online. Though they stand by their article (much to my chagrin) I have to admit that they posted the following comment only after many complaints:

We know there's nothing worse than being in pain and feeling like you're being dismissed, which was certainly not our intention. Please see the editor's note we added to the end of the story. Our sources at the Arthritis Foundation tell us that a large percentage of people being treated for RA still have pain, stiffness or fatigue, so we understand that this isn't something that's easy to deal with. The foundation offers a program, called Let's Talk RA, that may be helpful for some of you. Here's the link:

Barbara Brody
WD Health Editor

Woman's Day magazine was first published in 1931. I remember seeing it in my mom's stack of magazines for my entire life. I have picked up a copy at the grocery probably hundreds of times when something caught my eye. This whole experience has tainted my view of this institution of a magazine. It has cost them my readership and I am sure I am not the only person who will take this stance. Not only will I not purchase it- I will be sharing this with my Mom and anyone else who will listen.

As is my goal- I have found a bright side to this. It is my habit to read several wonderful bloggers who happen to share my journey with chronic illness. One of these blogs is titled Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior and this post is the one that brought my attention to the Woman's Day article. Not only has she brilliantly shared what the REAL RA is like for many of us, she has led the way in the charge against the article and many of us have banded together to follow in her footsteps and make our voices heard. She is a breath of fresh air when it comes to blogging about illness and as her name says- a true Warrior, fighting the misconceptions about living with this disease. I salute you RA Warrior! You are one of our Super Hero's in the fight against and education about RA.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes it's the little things that get you down.

Knowing that I have a ridiculously busy week coming up and I won't have any time for myself, I decided last night that I needed to give my nails a little polish before I went to bed. I gathered all of the supplies I needed for a full mani/pedi and got comfy on my bed. I have a wonderful foot/muscle rub lotion (Avon Footworks) so I started with that and all was going swimmingly- until I tried to put the polish on my toes. Everything came to a screeching halt. Not only couldn't I stretch far enough, but my hands were shaking too much from gripping the little brush to neatly polish my toenails. After many contortions and steadying one hand with the other and going through a few extra tissues for clean up- I got the job done but it really bothered me. Such a simple task and made so much more difficult by my two nemesis- RA and Fibro. It rather put a damper on the evening and sent me to bed in a funk. I woke up this morning and I can still see the less than stellar result on the toes but I am not up to taking it all off and starting all over again. I guess I will live with it until my next day off and take that time to come to grips with the fact that I will either have to live with less than perfect results- OR give up doing the little things like this at all.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Comfort Foods

As I sit here, I can close my eyes, take in a deep breath and smell the scent of chicken, carrots, celery and onions. In fact- the scent has combined over the hours to pervade my entire home. If I rid myself of the electronics going all around me I can hear the bubble, bubble, bubble of the broth as it it thickens courtesy of the dumplings. From finding the recipe in the very cherished cookbook that my mother made for me to putting the whole chicken and spices in to start it cooking this morning, to deboning the chicken, to hand rolling, cutting and dropping the dumplings into the stock through the time I sit down with the bowl- the process of making these Chicken and Dumplings is a pure pleasure. It doesn't matter that it takes many hours from start to finish. What matters is that I know that with every step and every delicious bite I am tied to a past generation. This recipe came from my mother's grandmother, to my grandmother to my mom, to me and I have shared it with my son. We have each added a different touch and we have all added our love to that pot. When I eat it, and when I share it with friends and family- there is a warmth that floods me and makes me feel as if all of my worries are long gone if only for a few minutes.

My husband has his own comfort food- the chili that his mom taught him to make. Though he is both a good- and creative- cook in his own right, the only modification he makes to his mother's recipe is how much heat he adds in the form of various hot sauces in "his" batch (he makes the original for me and spices his up). Other than that- the recipe has stayed the same as the way she always made it. When he makes it, indeed when he thinks about making it, it brings a gleem to his eye that lasts till his last bowl.

There are other comfort foods in my life. Just the other day I was having a high stress day and I would have literally hurt someone for some mashed potatos. In fact-I can't think of anything done to a potato that doesn't bring comfort. Oatmeal- especially with brown sugar and fruit is just the perfect start to a day. It reminds me of being a child and getting ready for school. You know- the days when the biggest worry was if your best friend was still your best friend? Sitting down with a bowl makes life just seem simpler.

Comfort foods make us smile when we don't feel like it. They make us feel better when we are sick or down. They make good days even better. Chicken noodle soup is the universal comfort food but each of us has our own personal thing that makes everything better for our own reasons. Thank you Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma Clara for handing down and sharing your love and your chicken and dumpling recipe. I think of each of you when I make and eat it and I hope that Josh does the same and passes it on when he has children.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Finding the strength to make it through.

If you don't already know- I am an assistant manager for a college bookstore. My specialty is textbooks. That means that this is the time of year when all my work for the last few months comes to fruition. We will have our busiest two days of the year today and Monday with yesterday and the rest of the next week right behind them.

It also means that I am coming off 11 hour days all week and facing 12-14 hour days the coming week. I have had an issue this week with letting the fact that other people are frantic affect my own stress level and attitude. Yesterday- someone ( @Andrew_Johnson ) posted the following tweet on Twitter: "STOP: With every thought, positive or negative, you are creating your reality. You are creating in every moment. Change your thoughts." It was just what I needed at that moment. I was sitting in my car, taking a quick break when that came through. I read it and POW. I was instantly reminded that though I have worked so hard to get to this point, it really is not a crisis. If we run out of books, it's not a crisis. If we have to reorder- not a crisis. I have to stop and remember that nothing that happens in the next two weeks is a life threatening emergency. No one is going to die if they have to wait. Realizing that- it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders and I came back in with a renewed energy and a renewed sense of calm and peace.

I am so thankful for the timing on that message. It gave me perspective and allowed me to change my thinking. My to do list suddenly didn't seem so overwhelming. The fact that we are swamped- was not a *thing* any longer. I was reminded that I can only do one thing at one time and that is OKAY. I needed that and will try to keep it in my mind as I go through the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I guess I "hide" it well.

My boss said to me the other day; "If I didn't know you were sick, I would never be able to tell." I was conflicted by this statement. At first, I was very complimented because I strive to not let RA be the end all and be all of my life. On the other hand I couldn't help but wonder what people expect me to look and act like as a person with a chronic disease.

I am aware that I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I don't know why- but I also have an aversion to feeling like I am whining and for giving the illusion that I cannot do whatever it is I set my mind to. Some might say that I am stoic when it comes to this. When I am having a rough time, I just get quieter and try to find the strength to keep going. Sometimes this leads to pushing myself too hard until I am just beyond worn out. It is double edged sword because I would rather minimize the pain and how it affects me than to give in than take the time I could to let myself recover and while it prolongs the episode it makes me feel like I am "winning" over the chronic nature of the illness.

I am still confused as to what people expect me to look like and how I am expected to behave when they find out that I have RA. Am I supposed to complain about the pain all of the time? Am I supposed to refuse to try to do things because they "might" hurt? I don't know what that would accomplish. I feel that it would only make me feel worse and would make everyone in my life miserable. That's just not my style.

I am sure there is a happy medium to going too far to "prove" to myself that I am not sacrificing my life to my RA and to making concessions to the allow me to recover sooner. I just have to find it. I don't try to hide my illness- but evidently I do a good job of making people forget. I just don't know if that's a good thing. I could be setting my efforts at educating people about RA back by going too far in the direction of giving the impression that it doesn't affect every aspect of my life. I think it gives me something to ponder and work on for the next little while.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Companies doing good things

There are a couple of companies that are doing things that I really like and I wanted to share them this morning.

First there is Pedigree. Pedigree dog food sponsers shelter adoptions nationwide. Not only that, but their site has questions you should ask yourself to see if you are really ready to be a responsible dog owner. That is very important to me. It is wonderful to have a pet in your life- but if you don't properly care for them- you aren't doing yourself or the dog any favors. I like that Pedigree addresses that part of pet adoptions as well as just encouraging us to adopt.

The second and my other favorite is Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty. Dove was one of the first line of beauty products to spotlight that women who are not "traditionally" beautiful can be beautiful too. Their commercials with larger women were groundbreaking and as it evolved the campaign included older women as well. Dove has created self-esteem workshops for girls ages 8-17, when they are most vulnerable to peer pressure. They work with the Girls Scouts of America as well as mentor programs and schools to get these workshops out there.

These are two companies that I can be glad to give my hard earned money to when I choose my products. I like what they are doing to give back to the world and their philosophy in presenting their programs. For that reason- I can support them both financially and by word of mouth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Limitless Gratitude

Well- today is the day- it's the forty second day since my birthday. This challenge has taught me so much. It has taught me that I still have the will and the determination to complete my task even when I am exhausted. It has taught me that I can find something positive- something to be grateful for- no matter how rotten my day has been or how lousy I feel. Those are both very empowering lessons! It is also a message of hope for me.

I have enjoyed writing this particular series because it gave me a very specific focus. It also made me stop and give thanks on days that I might not have taken the time. It has helped me to assess all of the blessings that I have in my life and has shown me that even the smallest of things are worthy of taking the time to reflect upon. Most importantly it has shown me that there is no end to all of the good things in our lives- we just have to take the time to look for them.

I look forward to continuing this blog as I move forward in my journey to live a positive life while I deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and whatever other challenges come my way. It gives me the strength to keep going when I need it most and when I backslide it allows me to get it out so that I can look back and learn from it.

I want to take a moment to give special thanks to everyone who has read this blog and shared the last six weeks with me. Your comments have been both enlightening and heartening. To close out this series- I ask you: Just for today, what are you most grateful for?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Choices- and our ability to make them.

Have you ever sat and thought about the myriad of choices we make every single day? Why, before 5:30 this morning I had already made a half a dozen; I would get up even though I didn't have to, I would let Miss Harley stay in bed since she clearly didn't want to get up, I would go ahead and make the coffee, I would go outside to watch the dawn while I drank that first cup, I would indeed skip church to drive home early , and I would hold off on my MTX until I got back to my house- all little things that though they had no affect on anyone else would indeed affect my day. Change any one of them and it would have changed the pattern of my whole day.

What about the bigger decisions that we make? Those decisions that we make that change the course of our lives and the ones that affect others. Did you realize that even when you don't "make that decision" based on fear or other factors and the opportunity lapses- you are still making a decision by not doing anything? A prime example of that is when you are in a dead-end job where you are miserable (everyone has at least one of those in their lives) and because of bills or because it provides health insurance or because you are afraid you might not find something better- you stay there and stay miserable for that forty plus hours a week. That inaction is a choice that you make.

Our choices- whether great or small- are one of our greatest freedoms and one that we take most for granted. How many of our fellow men don't have the opportunity to choose to do something as simple as get out of bed in the morning because of their health? Or cannot choose between a home cooked meal and grabbing a spot of takeout because they are living in poverty in a third world country and that just isn't a part of their reality? Or- can't choose to pick up the phone and call a loved one when they feel like it because they are overseas fighting for our country? Simple things that we can choose to do every single day and never think about would be someone else's idea of heaven.

Some of our choices are almost automatic and some we give great thought. My message today is that when we are on autopilot and just making a "natural" decision (Will today be a good day or a bad? Blue shoes or black? Go to bed early tonight or stay up late and watch that movie? ) stop for a moment and let us all give thanks that we have the ability and the freedom to make so very many choices.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Forty-two Ways in Forty-two Days- Medications

This morning I am trying very hard to find all of my gratitude toward my medications. I have been dealing with a particularly nasty, unexplained rash since Monday this week and when I finally broke down and called them, my rheumy's office was good enough to get me in early yesterday (I had my regular appointment scheduled for Monday) so that I didn't have to deal with it over the weekend. I met with a new doctor in the office who is cautiously optimistic that it is environmental- though they added Lupus testing to my regular bi-monthly tests just in case- and prescribed me a Medrol pack to get working on this rash.

Steroids are used quite a lot with RA. I laugh when I hear someone say how you can't take them for longer than X amount of time (common "wisdom" seems to be a couple of weeks) when I know folks through the RA boards who have been on something like Prednisone for literally years. My medrol pack is the same thing they give me right away when I am having a flare, so I was familiar with the dosing instructions and side effects. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that though I am fortunate enough to go to sleep very easy even when I am on them- I also don't sleep for very long, which is why I have been up since 3am and am moderately cranky and trying to be grateful for the fact that my itching has somewhat subsided. I know that you can't have the benefits without the side effects, it is just wrapping my brain around that that is tough this morning. So I want to give myself a list of the benefits of my meds as a reminder as the days go on.

Folic Acid- has allowed me to keep my hair! One of the major side effects of Methotrexate (a DMARD which is a chemo drug commonly used for breast cancer as well as RA)is hair loss. There are very few things in my life that I am regularly vain about and my hair was one of them- to the point that when I faced possibly losing it I freaked out and cut it off from my mid back to the longest part being at my earlobes. The folic acid has countered that side effect and though I have noticed some thinning- it is mostly all still there. Now of course I am kicking myself and want it back but I will have to serve my time for that rash decision. f only I had known -lol.

Tramadol is my pain med. I take it two to three times a day. Though I have heard horror stories about folks becoming addicted to it, I have forgotten my meds at home over the weekend and have not had issues other than having to take lots of aleve. Tramadol is a non-narcotic pain reliever that blocks the same neuroreceptors as morphine, but without as large an addictive quality. Basically, after about an hour, it lessens the chronic pain.

Cyclobenzaprine is my muscle relaxer and the only thing we are doing to address Fibromyalgia at this time. It allows me to go to sleep and not wake from muscle pain through the night. This has helped me to lessen my chronic fatigue a great deal.

Methotrexate as I mentioned above, is my DMARD (disease-modifying-anti-rheumetic) and has been a life saver. I can't say enough about it so I will just say that having to give myself a shot every week is a small price to pay for having much use of my hands back after 4 years.

My biologic though not as drastic as the Methotrexate has also been a small wonder. I didn't mention it by name because we are switching again but it has made my nodules disappear and has taken my "completely stiff to normal" time down from 4 hours to about 1.5. That is amazing as I have change my life to accomodate getting up early enough to work out the kinks before I have to face my day.

The hope here is that these will work together to slow the progression of my disease(s) and allow me to live a fuller life. All of these as a cocktail have brought me to a point where I am functioning well again and for that - I cannot help but be grateful!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Loving More

I am going to let you in on a secret that I have discovered within the last two years. When you allow yourself to be happy within your life, the love in your life grows exponentially. Neat huh?

I have taken lots of steps- some big, some definately baby steps- to bring joy and peace into my life and to block negativity as much as possible. A byproduct of that is how I view the things and people in my life.

In an effort to reduce the negativity I have been trying to live the "let it go and move on" lifestyle. It can be very difficult to flip that switch in your mind and get past those little things that drive you nuts about your mate after many, many years. It becomes almost ingrained to let it bother you then let it fester until you blow up. It's kind of funny if you think about it. Say the thing that makes you crazy is that your mate leaves the cap off of the toothpaste. You see it, you put the cap back on (or toss the tube if it has gotten crusty) but you don't say anything because it's such a little thing. Then one by one the little things pile up and when you finally let it all out everything is blown out of proportion because of all of those little things in the back of your head. That said- it is an important step to take to learn to let it go and move on if you want to reduce your stress and let in the joy. One of my tricks to do this was that each time I ran up against some habit that made me nuts is that not only did I clue him in that it bothered me so I could let it go, but I made myself think of some equally small thing about him that I adore. By taking this approach, a funny thing happened.

The more I concentrated on what I love about him and less on the things that bother me, the more things I found to love. The more things I found to love, the deeper my love became. The deeper my love became- the less those silly little things bothered me and the more joy I found in our time together. We have been together now for 25 years and married for 23 and I love him more now than I did when we first got together. As I discovered what was happening between us, I decided to apply it to all of my important relationships and for the most part I got the same results! What an amazing gift that is!

Now- I am not saying that it will work with everyone in your life. There are those folks that are just too toxic or have too many bad things to be outweighed by the good or they are just negative people. When I looked at them objectively I felt it was best to at least minimize my contact with them if not completely sever the relationship. Though the thought of that initially brought me some anxiety, as I stepped away from those relationships it brought me a sense of peace, and isnt' that part of the goal?

When you open yourself up and allow yourself to love more and surround yourself with loving, joyful people your sense of comfort, of peace and of well-being rises. These things bring us great happiness and we all deserve that. I am so thankful to have discovered the way to make this a priority in my life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Quiet Angels

Like the Ripplemakers, I have also had Quiet Angels in my life. Quiet Angels walk into your life (quite often unexpectedly)help you in some way, and just as quietly are gone again. Though they may never be heard of again- they can make an enormous difference.

There is a poem that was written for teachers about quiet angels that I really enjoy and I feel it can apply to all of the quiet angels in our lives:

Quiet Angels

Some people that come into our lives

Change our entire outlook on the world

And ourselves.

These people breathe

strength and sustenance into us

Sometimes by just giving a simple word of


They teach us to stand, for everything we believe in

And let it magnify tenfold.

Sometimes by just being around them,

The story of our day takes a whole new chapter.

We see more of who we could become,

And what knowledge we can attain.

It’s quite something to imagine where these people

develop these qualities

Perhaps they fell from the sky,

Perhaps within a whisper in the wind,

Or maybe, just maybe,

They came from a source well known to them,

To which they now bare the name,

A teacher.

~Angela M. Sarich

I would like to give thanks to all of my personal quiet angels. They could be a teacher or a nurse, a bus driver or a friend, a customer or just the person sitting next to us at a diner counter. They impart some wisdom, they lift us up, they remind us to follow our dreams but no matter how they touch us- our heart is changed for a very long time and we don't forget them. I don't know if I have ever been anyone's quiet angel- but I hope that I have left that kind of legacy with someone in this world. Thank you to all of my quiet angels.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- My Health

Yes, I have health issues. So let's start by listing them off. I have been living with Rheumatoid Arthritis for 4 years (my "anniversary" was this month), I also have major symptoms of Fibromyalgia and I am overweight and have been having a horrible, horrible time trying to lose it and I am a long-time smoker who has not found a way to quit for good. Yes, these things cause me physical and emotional pain on a daily basis- and yet I am grateful for my health? How can that be? Let me share with you how I can (try to) keep this attitude.

First, very recently we did a full blood panel. They test me for everything under the sun to try and see if there was an explaination other than Fibro for my muscle pain. My tests came back perfect. In fact- if it were not for my known issues- I would be "disgustingly healthy" according to my rheumatologist's office. This makes me incredibly happy. When you consider that my darling mother had a massive heart attack when she was just three years older than I am now and a stroke a month after turning 60- for my tests to come back so well is a wonderful thing. When you throw in that I take both Methotrexate and a TNF-blocker and there is no kidney or liver damage- I can rejoice.

Second- pain is relative. It is there, it is somewhat managable but when I am feeling like whining, I have to consider that in the grand scheme of things- I am doing okay. There are so very many people in this world who are in so much more pain than I am on my very worst days. I have good days. I have days where I might only take my Tramadol in the morning and at night instead of three times as directed. I keep in mind on the bad days that the good days are coming, I just have to ride it out till they come back. Some people are not fortunate enough to have good days and when I think of that- I can get through the bad ones. Fairly often I have friends tell me that they couldn't handle what I deal with- but when you have something like this thrown at you the only thing you can do is step up and handle it or you can let it get the best of you- and I refuse to let it get the best of me.

Finally, dealing with this has shown me that I have strengths that I didn't know that I had. I never imagined having to give myself injections on a regular basis- but I do and after having done it so long it is second nature. I never imagined arranging my life around side effects but I do it. I never imagined limiting myself in any way- but I do it. All of these things I do to protect the health that I DO have- which tells me that it is something to treasure.

I have been fortunate to have found quality caregivers to help me maintain my health as much as possible. I am grateful that we found the cause of my pain before there was more deterioration to my joints and early enough to get me to a tolerable level of pain. I am so fortunate that my other half not only sees but understands what I go through and supports me without question when I need to scale back and take it easy. So yes, although I do have my challenges with my health- I can be grateful that it is not worse than it is and that other than those issues, I am just fine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- The Internet

I know I am showing my age here- but I remember when there was no such thing as surfing on the net. When shooting off a letter meant having to go to the post office. When- if you wanted to research something, you were trekking off to the library.

The advent of the Internet has opened a world of possibilities for anyone to explore. Why- before I sat down to compose this post this morning I emailed my parents, answered a Facebook post from my son and several other folks, put on my IM and talked to a couple of friends, sent out a morning tweet on Twitter and looked up a recipe for dinner. My personal productivity has skyrocketed in the years that I have been hooked up.

The most important thing that the Internet has given me is a connection. Not only can I email my family and know that they will get it as soon as they log on, I can IM them in real time. None of these long distance charges or interrupting if they are working or having dinner. I log on and if they are on- we can talk as long as we have time. Even better- we have Skype and other video messaging services. Now, I can sit and talk via web cam with my son in the Boston area, my sisters on each coast and several dear friends who are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. What a privilege that is! Why, when we were living in Turkey in the late 80's- it would take up to three weeks for a letter to travel back and forth!

Social media websites have given us an equally important connection. For about ten years I was a member of several groups on MSN. A far cry from the original messenging boards, MSN groups were very user-friendly and attracted a diverse crowd. Through those different groups I met and cultivated some of my dearest friendships. These women and men have been with me through thick and thin. It is a unique friendship that is created without ever having set foot in the same room and very special. Then there is Facebook and Myspace. I have been a member there since 2005 and 2003 respectively. In those years I have become reconnected with people that meant the world to me all through high school. Having moved 3 times during my high school years I lost touch with so many people that I thought I would never see or hear from again. Catching up with them has brought me so much joy. In addition to that- through their own messageboards- I have been able to "meet" many more wonderful people who share my interests.

Our children are being brought up with computers in school. They are taught from an early age that research is just a mouse click away. Navigating the world wide web is second nature to them. They have no idea how very fortunate that they are. It has been a boon to me to be able to learn more about my disease than I ever could have in a library. I have explored treatment options online and shared tips and ideas back and forth for living with this with others who are living with it. We can see something that catches our eye- and look up indepth information on it in just a moment. "Google" is my middle name these days. :-)

It amazes me how far we have come in this technology in less than 20 years but I am eternally grateful that it happened in my lifetime and that I have been able to not only avail myself of it but teach others to use this marvelous tool as well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Dreams

I think that everyone has at least one dream. I am not talking about going to sleep at night and dreaming. I am talking about those that we formulate when we are awake and that fuel our passions.

Some of our dreams can make us very determined. An example of that would be the child who dreams of being an actress, an astronaut, a doctor or a lawyer. The dream of their childhood turns into a goal that they work and work to attain. Keeping the dream in the forefront of their mind is what drives them to work when others would give up.

Some dreams can be a bit more fantastic. Winning the lottery, having Prince (or Princess) Charming come along and sweep you off your feet, things like that where you have no control over the real outcome but BOY are they enjoyable to dream about.

What these things all have in common is that dreams have the power to take us out of our here and now and take us to a place that we see as better. We can stop thinking about bills and our health and our jobs and all of the day to day stresses in our lives and imagine that we are in a different place and time.

There is a quote that says "Dreams are like may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.”

I like that quote. I believe that our dreams are a very special form of inspiration that can never be taken away unless we allow them to be. They are personal and if we hold them in our hearts- our destiny can indeed be somewhere on that path. I am thankful that I have a vivid enough imagination that I still have my dreams and though they have evolved along with me- they are there to be savored and enjoyed when ever I like until such time as I attain them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Benefits

I have many of your standard benefits through my job; Paid Vacation, Sick Leave, Group Health Insurance, Dental Insurance, Vision insurance, 401k, and a couple that are very nice but not so standard, Flex-Spending Account, Supplemental Life insurance and *Lifeworks*. The two of these that I am most grateful for are my health insurance and Lifeworks.

As one who lives with a chronic illness, on a "good" year I see my primary care physician twice a year, my rheumatologist 8-9 times a year, my phlebotomist 8-9 times a year and my pharmicist 12 times a year to fill 5 different precriptions that range from $4.00 (my folic acid) to $40.00 (my biologic) per month WITH my insurance plan. On a not so good year, I add in up to double the visits to my various doctors, physical therapy and other sundry items. Last year- my medical claims alone added up to $8353.10 and that is not including my medications- my out of pocket for all of that (again- not including my RX's) was 915.86. That is not a small chunk of change in either case. At the beginning of the calendar year I sweat my deductable but then I think about the fact that without my insurance plan- I would be responsible for a heck of a lot more than that deductable. It is very probable that if I did not have that benefit from my job I would have to take a second job just to pay those medical bills. That second job (and I speak from many years experience here) would lead to more fatigue, more frequent flares, more prescriptions, more doctor's visits and more medical claims. I cannot imagine where we would be without my medical insurance.

Lifeworks is an employee assistance program. The best way I can describe it is a resource clearinghouse. Available by phone or online 24 hours a day, Lifeworks offers information on topics ranging from personal health and well-being, life at work, and disability issues to financial planning, legal issues and managing employees. You can read articles online, listen to podcasts, request printed and video materials sent to your home and call for instant advice and referrals. Unlike the EAP's of old which strictly dealt with addiction and mental health issues, Lifeworks aims to cover anything in your life that might serve to make you less productive. Like the traditional EAP's- it is a confidential service. Our username and password are universal throughout the entire company. The only information that is given to the company is how many times the site or phone line is accessed per year. When we moved, I spent hours on the website printing articles about relocation, adjusting to a new place, becoming an empty-nester and letting go while maintaing a relationship with my adult child. The really neat thing is that this benefit is not only for me- but my husband, my son, any family member can use the service. I gave my son the information on budgeting, renting an apartment and living on your own. He also has the username and passwords so he can access articles that he may find relevant.

These two benefits have served to take away a lot of stress in our lives. Though they are easy to take for granted when you don't "need" them- they can be lifesavers when you do. I am fortunate that my employer cares enough about their employees that they have made all of our benefits available to us. It is one of the many reasons that I believe in the work that they do.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forty-two Ways in Forty-two Days- Memories

Memories are funny things. Good or bad, they are always there. When you least expect them they creep up on you and take you back to a time long gone. They play with all of your senses in a very interesting way.

Think back. When you were a child,what smells were most common in the kitchen of your childhood? Now think about it and close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Can you smell it? I can and it just makes me smile. Think about your favorite blanket. The weight, the texture. I bet if you close your eyes right now you can feel that blanket can't you?

One thing that I have learned is that in our limited amount of time on earth we have to make as many memories as we can. We need to cherish them and share them with the ones we love.

I have many good memories that I have made in my years. I also,thankfully, have plenty of years to make a good many more. I look forward to looking back on them in my advanced age. More-I hope that years from now, as others are looking back, they remember me fondly in their own memories.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Massage

A couple of months ago my Rheumy said after my routine assessment that my RA was doing very well but that we may be facing Fibromyalgia as well. As there are no difinitive tests for fibro it would be a test for everything else and then wait and see process. I can deal with that but I just didn't want to face any more meds on top of the cocktail that I already take. I called my sister and asked her to just "take me out to the pasture and shoot me." LOL. Rather than that- she booked me a massage.

I had forgotten how much I missed my massages. My massage therapist is knowledgable in both RA and Fibro so she takes good care of me. She spends a solid 20 minutes each on my neck/shoulder and on my hips- the two areas I have the most trouble with. The other 20 she spends just relaxing the rest of my muscles. It is therapeutic for both my body and my soul. Since then I have scheduled one every other month and it has helped so very much.

I am so thankful that my sister found her for me (especially all the way from North Carolina) and even more so that I have one scheduled this afternoon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

RIP John Hughes :-(

I am 42 years old. That means that I came of age in the 80's. Movies such as Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful and of course the classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off all played a big role in my life. I literally grew up with the folks like Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and the rest of the Hughes regulars. Each and every one of those movies and many more from the catalogue of his work had characters that I could relate to in so many ways. As I got older and grew up- so did Hughes work:

Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science came out when I was in high school.

Pretty in Pink and Ferris- the year after (the year I got married).

Some Kind of Wonderful and Planes, Trains and Automobiles the year I had my son and

She's Having a Baby, The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck soon after.

My son also grew up on Mr. Hughes work- including movies like Curly Sue, Dutch, The Home Alone series and all of the Beethoven movies until he too was old enough to watch and understand the ones that I loved.

I have spent countless hours "with" Mr. Hughes- so many that I can recite the dialogue verbatim from many of his films. I looked forward to each and every new work and I loved that filmmakers like Kevin Smith paid homage to him in their films. It helped endear them to us as we watched this next generation.

John Hughes passed away today at the age of 59 from a heart attack. He will be sorely missed by fans the world over. I thank him for his work and the affect it had on my life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Worrying Less

We all have some amount of stress in our lives. We worry about a myriad of things on a day to day basis. Even someone who is generally healthy can develop headaches, ulcers and other physical symptoms when stress overtakes their lives. When you live with a chronic illness, there are not only additional stressors but additional dangers if the stress affects you physically. It is up to us to find a way to not let the amount of worry and stress debilatate us.

I have long been a what people think of as a classic workaholic and on top of that tried to be SuperMom. Impatient, competative, unable to relax and if not working, worrying about work, running from work to my child's activities and trying to raise him without letting my stress affect him. After my diagnosis, I read and researched, researched and read to find out as much as I can about Rheumatoid Arthritis and contributing factors. One of the things that was glaring out at me from most articles was how much stress can affect and possibly bring on flares.

It took a long time for me to step back. At the beginning I was determined not to let RA or anything else change my life. That determination caused flare after flare before I finally started listening to my body. I finally realized that I HAD to stop worrying about everything and letting it affect my health. If I didn't- I risked damaging my joints and muscles far more quickly. So how does a person like me make such a big change? I used my same determination to change my life.

1- I made a move that took me out of my "go-go-go" environment.
2- I started taking time off with no committments. First an hour, then two, then four and then days at a time.
3- I learned to stop and just breathe. Everything that you read about meditation tells you that the first step is to learn to breathe and focus on that. It really does make a world of difference.
4- I learned to listen to my body. If my body tells me that I am doing too much- I slow down. It is possibly the most important thing I have done.
5- I took a hard look at the priorities in my life and then restructured to fit those.
6- I let go of the little things. I realized that it is the little things that we let pile up on us that really can do the most damage.

There are several books that made a huge difference in my life to get to this point. I highly recommend them. Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat-Pray-Love , Elaine St. James Simplify Series to begin with. I also am a big fan of the Chicken Soup Series- they can help remind you what is important in the grand scheme of things.

These things have made a difference not only in my health but my happiness and my overall wellbeing. They have put me on the road to peace and though it is a long road- I feel much better about myself and my life. I cannot express my gratitude for these changes. Finding the ability to worry less has changed my life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Hugs

Have you ever had one of those days? The day when nothing seems to go your way? What about one of those days where you just feel yukky? All you want to do is curl up on the couch and stay there. What if you, like me, have days when your chronic illness kicks in and you just hurt? On the flip side, maybe you just got some great news that you can't wait to share! You accomplished something that you never though you could do. What is one thing that these things all have in common? Each and every scenario, in my book, calls for a hug.

For many people- a hug is a small gesture, but that small thing can make a world of difference. A hug can say "I'm proud of you," "I have missed you", "I am here with you", or "I care". It can convey sympathy, understanding, forgiveness, love, friendship and hope. It is universal in that it makes a connection between the giver and the recipient.

I am a big believer in the power of a hug. I can't think of anything else that can lift you up and make your day a little brighter in the same way. I am grateful that my family is very affectionate and that a hug is a natural thing for us. Give someone a hug today- see if it doesn't give both of you a lift.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Ripplemakers

Have you ever tossed a pebble into a pond? It makes a little splash and then a tiny circle that makes a bigger circle and grows bigger until it becomes a wave. Now, if you drop that exact same pebble on ice- the pebble just drops, it doesn't make a single ripple. There are many things in our lives that can cause those ripples, it is just up to us to allow or disallow them.

Making the decision to live a positive life was a big pebble that I dropped into my life. Once I made that choice, I began to count my blessings no matter how small. From there, life started to look a little brighter in general. Next- it seemed to change how I related to people and how they related to me. The wave has been that as I began to look at things more positively- more positive things came into my life. I have tried to become "ice" for negative pebbles and water for the positive. It isn't always easy- but I do my best.

People can be ripplemakers in our lives as well. It can go either way. Have you ever seen a bad mood spread throughout your family or your workplace? Our attitudes and actions are contagious. If you look at the "Pay it Forward" or "Random Acts of Kindness" movements- both started out as a small things and spread until there are people the world over doing something kind for a stranger and not expecting anything in return other than for the recipient to pass it along. We meet potential ripplemakers fairly often, it is just a matter of recognizing it and continuing the ripple. An example of that is the online group of folks living with Rheumatoid Arthritis that I have discovered. One of us will find new information or a blog that we enjoy and we share it. The people that we share it with then pass it along to the people that they know and on and on. That network can really help people. Let's take RA GUY's 60-Second-Guide-To RA as an example. I read it and love it. I printed it out, emailed it and blogged it and shared it with my friends and family as did quite a few others. Not only do they now have a better understanding of what we go through, but they shared it as well. I don't know how many times it has been passed on but I have seen it end up in the hands of someone who was having a really hard time making their spouse and children understand- and that tool made a HUGE difference in their lives. I am quite sure that they will pass it along to others and who knows how many people in their situation will end up with this guide before the wave reaches the shore. All of that understanding and acceptance started with a blog post. That is the power of one small act. Amazing, isn't it?

We all have the potential to be ripplemakers in the lives of people around us- we just have to remember that chose to make our ripple in a positive or negative way. I would like to thank the people who have made positive a ripple in my life. They may not know how much they affected me- but they have made a big impact on me that I hope that I have shared. What kind of ripple will you make today?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Forty-two Ways in Forty Two Days- The Glory of Nature

In this every technology driven age it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time to just step back and enjoy the wonders of the world around us. Time with no tv, no phones, no blackberry, no internet, just us and the world. I try to take advantage of the early morning when there is very little traffic every day by taking my dog for a walk around 4:45 am. At that time of the day it is just me, her, and the quiet of the world.

When we walk in the morning, we head east from our home. Just about a block away there is an area where both sides of the road are wooded. In that small area, as long as there is no traffic it is easy to forget that you are in town. As the wind gently blows the breeze through the leaves the chirping of the birds and the crickets magnifies and becomes a symphony to wake you up and welcome the day. From time to time, Harley and I cross paths with deer and foxes as they make their way across the street to the golf course that opens up on our left. On our right, a little further down is a park where we have seen rabbits and raccoons sharing space. As we make our way back and closer to our home those sounds fade away and it is the silence that you notice- though there are plenty of rabbits right in our complex for Harley to play with.

On mornings like this one, when it is nice an cool out, I like to get dressed more quickly and then take my coffee out to my patio. Behind my townhouse is a line of trees that cuts us off from the next neighborhood. I can sit out there with my cup of coffee and watch the sun come up over the horizon and through the trees. As the sky changes from an inky black to purple, then pink and finally blue you can see and hear the world coming alive. It both makes you feel a part of it and reminds you that there is a much bigger world out there beyond our own. If you allow it- it can put your life, with it's inherent stresses and problems, into perspective with the big picture. That is one of my favorite things to do as it starts my day on a positive note.

I am off to watch the sun rise- I hope that you have a wonderful, beautiful and glorious day. If you have the opportunity to see the sun rise some day soon- please take advantage of it and see if it can make a difference in the way you view your day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Forty-two Ways in Forty Two Days- Music

I cannot remember a time when my life was not filled with music. My father- in addition to all his other wonderful qualities- is also an amazing musician. Like most musicians he reads music as well as he reads the written word, but he also has an ear that blows your mind. I remember when I was a senior in high school and Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" came out. Dad heard it on the radio a couple of times and the next thing I knew he was playing it on his keyboard. Unfortunately- this is one of those traits that in my family skipped a generation. Neither my sisters or I have the ear- and none of us had the discipline to do the extra practice that it would have taken to make us really good at our respective instruments. Some of our children, however, have both the interest and talent. My Josh is amazing on the guitar and drums, Heather's Lauren plays the drums in school but is wonderful on the piano as well and Lisa's Matthew has recently taken up the trumpet- which is one of my father's instruments- and over the course of a weekend with my dad learned to read music and get sound from the horn.

Growing up with music in the house has made my musical tastes very eclectic. My ipod has selections that include Country, Rock, Pop, R&B, Hip-hop, House, Jazz, Blues, Show-tunes and Classical. The only thing really missing is folk, thrash and death metal which for different reasons just don't appeal to me. My choice of music in the moment reflects my mood and my needs on so many levels. I use it to raise my mood or calm me down, to soothe my mind and lull me to sleep, to motivate me and to rage against the world when needed. No matter what though- it is always there and that is something that I have shared with my son as his selections on his own ipod are just as diverse.

I find that you can learn a lot about a person by the type of music that they listen to. Pick up a friend's mp3 player and scroll through their current playlist sometime and you can find out if they are open to new things, if they are stuck in a rut, if they are depressed or happy. You may also find some surprising things. I have found young kids who love BB King and Buddy Guy as much as my hubby does, perky people with full selections of Emo music and big burly football player types listening to boy-bands. It definitely opens up conversations and makes connections. Speaking of connections- one of my dearest friends got to know her now husband after seeing one another at multiple Buffett concerts.

Music is infused in our lives. It is the background for most media, but even when you shut everything off there is music in the leaves rustling, the birds singing, the wind whistling and and even in the silence. Stop and listen sometime and you will find the beauty in the lyrical quality of the stillness.

I am grateful to have had this love for music ingrained in me from a young age. I thank my parents for making it such a large part of our lives and more for making it a natural part of my life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Summer Produce

Happy August Everyone!

One of the best things-and worst things- about living in the midwest is the abundance of fresh produce in the summer.

I will get the worst thing out of the way first- the summer produce is SO good- that when it is not available- the stuff at the grocery store is FAR inferior. To the point that most of the winter we shop at Whole Foods Market for our fresh produce. Now- I love Whole Foods, but it is a tad on the expensive side, and also a 20 minute drive to the other side of Louisville. Fine when it is nice out- but a little tough to justify in the middle of an ice storm.

Now for the good stuff. What is not to like about fresh fruits and vegetables? Crisp apples and peaches (I like them pre-ripe), juicy berries, corn just hours off the stalk, beans, tomatos, cukes and more just out of the garden. It is a completely different taste than the stuff you get in stores- whether they are fresh, frozen or canned. One thing I have learned is that if we pick things like corn or beans, then blanch them, we can freeze them in wonderful containers that we buy at GFS (sorta a restaurant supply crossed with Sam's without the membership fee) in half pint (perfect size for Jim and I), pint or quart sizes. If done immediately- they will still taste fresh- not frozen- when we take them out later in the year. As we learn to do this properly- it helps out with our winter veggie needs.

Speaking of "fresh/freezing", my mom is the queen. Last season I was there when the corn came in and she let me work with her to put up a ton of it so that I would learn how. When the strawberries came in- we worked together and made strawberry freezer jam that is just so good and we are still eating it. Yesterday they called to tell us the corn had come in and ask how much we wanted. We told them how much we would like- and today they drove half way here and met me to "deliver" 25 half pints of beautiful corn. Between that and what we have left- we have enough for the whole winter! Hopefully when I go back to their house in two weeks, the next crop will be in and we can put up enough to fill their freezer.

Tomorrow morning I am heading up to Huber Family Orchard. I am getting some early freestone peaches. In just a few hours after my MTX nap, I can freeze peaches to keep me happy for a long time.

I love this time of year and I am grateful for the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are grown right here in the area. Even more- I am grateful to my mom for teaching me how to put them up so that we can enjoy them year round.