Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Clone Me!

There was a time I was fascinated by odd scientific happenings. Like cloning. Remember Dolly the sheep? She was the first ever cloned animal, "created" in the mid-1990's. Dolly was a real media sensation, and she lived a very pampered life for a sheep. 

Lately, I've wished more than once that I could clone myself. If only there were two--or three--of me, I would be able to be more available to my family and friends. I could accomplish more. And I wouldn't have the stressful feeling of being torn much of the time.

The other day, my phone rang. It was Joe, my college kid. I don't have an opportunity to talk to him often, as he is extremely busy with classes, studying, fraternity and football. And in that particular phone call, he didn't want anything...other than to talk. He was telling me about the upcoming game and he was really excited. I was too. 

Then another call beeped in. It was Nicole. She was supposed to be on a train from New Orleans to Jackson, and I felt I had to answer the call in case there was a snafu. 

"Hold on Joe! Don't hang up..."

Nicole was calling from the train. She was fine. Just thought about something and dialed my number. Nothing important. 

OK, back to Joe...but before I could click over, another call beeped in. It was Larry, calling from work. Since he had major surgery less than a month ago, and is back at work on an abbreviated schedule, I was concerned...so I answered the phone. Larry was fine...just had a quick question. 

Now back to Joe. No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He hung up! I punched in his cell phone number and got his voice mail message. Too late. My window of opportunity to have a conversation with my son had closed. 

What are the odds that all three of my immediate family members would call me at the same time?

I sat back, sad and disappointed because even though I had heard all three of their voices, the quality of our conversations was sorely lacking. I felt like they all thought I didn't have time for them. I felt pulled three different ways and it didn't feel good.

I thought that feeling would leave me when my kids got older. I think back to when I worked full time, Larry worked most nights, the kids were in school/dance/soccer/theatre....getting them fed, where they needed to be on time, and trying to be interested and engaged was a constant challenge. Now they are grown, and I still feel pulled...wanting to give each "child" 100% of me when I can. Yet, they still just get a distracted fraction most of the time. 

When Nicole had her accident, the world pretty much stopped. It's like time stood still as I sat in the corner of her room in the Neuro ICU at New York Presbyterian Hospital. There was nothing else vying for my time and attention. Just Nicole. I focused on her 110%. I learned then that it's possible. Back home, Joe had badly broken a finger, and it really needed surgery to re-set it. But I couldn't control that situation by phone from New York. And Nicole was in critical condition. She needed me more. I had to say a prayer that Joe could/would handle his situation on his own and forget about it. And he did. 

But when the situation isn't life-threatening, their "demands" for my attention are just as important to them. I feel like I let them down when I'm not there for them like they want me to be. But I'm realizing, slowly, that I'm not letting them down. They are adults. They understand that I'm pulled several different directions at any given time. I'm realizing that the disappointment is something I'm putting on myself...and it's causing me stress. And stress kills.

So, I'm working daily on doing what I can, when I can, but not beating myself up when I can't. I'm only human. It doesn't mean that I love them any less. It just means it's time to let them figure it out on their own.

Be kind to yourself today. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Attack of the Killer Squirrel

It started innocently enough.

Larry was suffering from a touch of "cabin fever" after being in for so long following his momentous surgery last week. After dinner, I suggested we go up the road to the Livingston Farmers Market to get out of the house and into the fresh air for awhile. The market is from 4pm to 8pm each Thursday, and my neighbor/friend Phyllis Geary had never been, so we picked her up and off we went.

We arrived about 7:20. The sun was sinking behind the trees and there were still plenty of people there. A wonderful little band was playing, children were running around, and folks were gathered in the wine garden under a canopy of trees to visit and sip on the day's selections from Colony Wine Market. Scott Jackson poured us all a glass of La Vieille Ferme and off we went to see all the goodies the merchants had to offer.

Sauntering along the row of tents, it was as much about seeing friends and soaking in the atmosphere as it was looking at the items each merchant had for sale. Phyllis bought some fresh tomatoes. I bought a jar of apple butter. Larry was just happy to be on his feet. Just a nice, relaxing evening...sipping on wine and enjoying the ambiance of the market....

And then, it happened. Out of nowhere (actually from directly above my head), something fell from the tree and square into my face. Something big. Something that hit me with enough force to scratch my chin, bust my lip, and cause me to start bleeding profusely. Something that almost knocked me off my feet. Something that made me Spill. My. Wine.

My first thought was that it was a really big pine cone horse apple or maybe even a branch. (I have been following the facebook posts by the mom of Tripp Halstead, a little boy who was playing on the playground at preschool when a large branch fell on his head, leaving him badly brain damaged.) I'm fully aware that things like that can happen.

Before I could fully process what happened, a crowd of people gathered around me. I could see the horrified look in their eyes as they saw my bloodied face. That's when people started telling me what fell on my head.

Yep. That's right. It was a squirrel. Several folks saw it scamper away on the ground after it dive-bombed my head.

But it was no ordinary squirrel.

It was a killer squirrel. With killer instincts. Out to kill me. I'm convinced.

And just as crazy was the way people wanted to take care of me. Someone handed me a napkin to put on my chin, which was really bleeding badly. Someone else took the napkin from my hand, and poured what little I had left of my wine on it to "disinfect" my chin. Then a wonderful lady told me to come to her booth, because she wanted to put some clay on my chin.

But it wasn't any ol' clay...it was Mississippi Miracle Clay. According to their website,

No one is sure of the exact mechanism through which this clay acts but many people contribute the healing qualities of the clay to the fact the clay is formed out of negatively charged molecules. Viruses, inflammation, pollution and bad bacteria in your body are positively charged and the clay acts as a powerful magnet to attract the positively charge molecules and then absorbs and removes them from the body. In addition the clay replenishes the system with minerals such as silicon, magnesium, sulfur and other important trace minerals.

All I know is that the "clay lady" smeared some of the clay on my chin and it stopped bleeding and stopped hurting. I even put some inside my busted lip and the pain went away. And you guessed it, I bought some!

So, let's recap...I'm standing in front of one of the tents at the market when a killer squirrel swooped down and crashed into my face. A woman comes out of no where and smears clay on my chin and I stop hurting. What are the odds?

All I can say is that if a killer squirrel had to crash my head, I'm glad it happened in Mississippi, because what other state has miracle clay???

The rest of the time we were at the market, I had a big glob of clay on my chin and lip...

The funny thing was that everyone at the market told me "that stuff really works," and they proceeded to tell me their own stories of healing by using the miracle clay. I started feeling better. 

I went to bed last night with a bit of a headache (that squirrel hit me HARD!), my face covered in clay. This morning, I have to say, the wicked squirrel scratch was much smaller and the pain is pretty much gone. 

Roxie spends her mornings sitting on the loveseat in the keeping room, staring out the window for movement in the trees. When she sees something, she goes crazy, wanting to go outside and try to capture the offending squirrel. She's never caught one, and I'm not sure what she would do with it if she did. The squirrels seem to take great pleasure in taunting her, running along the top of the fence outside of her reach. I guess I'm going to have to school her on the very real danger that killer squirrels pose in our society. 

The moral of this story is to be aware of your surroundings at all times. And remember...

Blessings to all who read this!


Friday, August 30, 2013


Today feels like a celebration!

Today is a celebration!

Five years ago today, I woke up ready to celebrate. Larry's birthday had passed a few days before, our anniversary a few days before that. He finally had a clear night on his calendar and we were going out for a celebratory dinner. I cleaned the house so that he'd come home to a nice place, and was heading back to the shower when the phone rang. I almost didn't answer it...I had planned on having a long, relaxing bath before getting dolled up for a nice dinner out.

But who can ignore a ringing phone? Especially one that has "NYPD" on the caller ID. That's when our world forever changed. "Your daughter was found on the ground by her apartment building." Confusion. "It appears she fell. Off the roof." Whoa. (That's six stories...but who's counting? And she laid on the ground over eight hours before being found...)

The passing of time took on a whole new meaning. I had to wait until the next day to get a flight to New York--no more planes leaving the afternoon I found out. I had to wait three hours on my layover in Baltimore. I had to wait another three hours at the airport on Long Island when there was a problem with the car service that had been ordered for me. I had to wait 45 minutes to actually see Nicole once I got to the hospital because they were busy putting in a central line, and basically doing all they could to help her stay alive.

Over the next few weeks, it wasn't a day-by-day wait-and-see. It was an hour-by-hour. No one could say WHEN she'd get off the ventilator...WHEN she'd sit up, WHEN she'd get to go home. A very arrogant (but very brilliant) neurosurgeon told me "it will happen when it happens." That's when time took on a new meaning. I realized things happen at the right time. In God's time. The plan, His plan, is perfect.

The one year anniversary of Nicole's accident was a milestone, but not a good one for her. She had set high expectations for herself and her recovery, but her body had different ideas. A damaged spinal cord takes an extremely long time to heal. The pathways from the brain to the body had been damaged or even distroyed. There was much more work to do.

Five years later, her body is catching up. Nicole has learned to celebrate her success and at the same time, accept that her body won't ever be the same. But her body is miraculous, and Nicole has learned to used what she's got to its full advantage. As the fifth anniversary of her accident has been approaching, she's been reflective and she seems to fully realize how much she has accomplished in the past five years. Finally, she's at a place where she feels ready to celebrate.

Methodist Rehab has a campaign called "Now I Can." They've wanted Nicole to be featured in the campaign for a few years. She wouldn't do it, because she never felt that she could do what she wanted to do. Yet. A few weeks ago, she contacted the folks at Methodist Rehab with a message. "Now I Can." She did a photo shoot with Talamieka and Charles Brice in the dance studio at USM, the place where she once felt the happiest. The photos are amazing, and one of them will soon appear on a huge poster in a hallway at Methodist Rehab.

We've all learned so much from Nicole and about Nicole in the past five years. I've learned a lot about myself too, and I've learned so many important life lessons.  Some of our best friends are those we met after the accident, and mostly because of the accident.  While I'd turn back the clock in a heartbeat if I could so that this never happened to Nicole, I don't totally regret it. I had intense time with her, caring for her, that I would not have had if the accident had never happened. We've laughed, cried, cursed and yes, we've celebrated.

So today, I feel as full of joy as I do on either of my children's birthdays. I guess it's because in a way, Nicole was given a second chance at life. Just last night I read author Anne Lamott's facebook post about the birthday of her son. "God is so good; all the time, every day. Thank you God for being such a Show-off and giving me Samuel John Stephen Lamott. Wow." For me, it's "Thank you God for being such a Show-off and giving me Nicole Elizabeth Marquez. Wow."

And in keeping with Lamott's latest book "Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers," today is also a day of thanksgiving that Larry is OK following a risky kidney removal surgery earlier this week. I thank God for his thorough doctor, Manisha Sethi, for looking at his blood test results so carefully, and deciding to investigate further when she discovered elevated enzyme levels. The tests she arranged for him to have revealed a mass growing in and on his left kidney. It was fast growing, and as we discovered yesterday, the pathology reports showed it was cancerous. He did great in surgery, and I am hoping he will come home today.

I am thankful that a surprise trip to the emergency room late yesterday afternoon resulted in my dad getting a once-over by Dr. John Brooks, who told my dad that he needed to double up on his diruetics each morning so he could get excess fluid off. His heart was in good shape, lungs were clear, and after having 70cc's of blood drawn off his knee which he had twisted the day before, he felt much better. I'm thankful that Sarah made a last-minute call to fly from Dallas to Jackson on Tuesday instead of going home to Nashville. She thought she was coming to help me with Larry, but God obviously sent her here to take care of Daddy because I was tied up with Larry. Perfecting timing...perfect plan.

In the quietness of my home, as I sit here alone except for Roxie at my side, and I'm able to reflect on and savor the reasons to celebrate today. There may be hiccups along the way, but the reality is that our life is full and we are abundantly blessed.

(Totally shameless plug: Nicole is featured in the September issue of FITNESS magazine...on newstands now! If you know of a group who needs a motivational speaker, that's what she does now...and she does it very, very well! See her website for more information: www.youcantstopthisdancer.com.)

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Salve for the Soul

Back in my Girl Scout days, we sang a little song:

Make new friends, 
but keep the old.
One is silver,
and the other's gold.

After a busy week of doing a semester's worth of Joe's laundry...

....and getting Mary re-elected as mayor....

...I pointed my little Elantra east and took off for Atlanta!

On this adventure, I was going to see my golden friends Sylvia and Terry Goggin. 

Sylvia invited me to join her for a Southern Tea, which was a fundraiser for Alzheimer's. She mentioned to the organizer that I'm a writer and perhaps I could get an article about the tea in a magazine. After attending the lovely tea on Saturday, I can attest that it is certainly magazine-worthy! 

Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the end of the driveway by two precious cuties who offered us FREE LEMONADE. We graciously accepted and continued up the hill to the tea.

It was a lovely affair with delicious treats to eat, including the shrimp and grits Sylvia woke up early Saturday morning to make. She also made Mississippi Blueberry Delight tartlettes and I helped with making the tomato sandwiches. Here are a few snapshots of the day:

It was a lovely day, and I made many new friends, including Sandy (above) who hosted this tea as she has done every year for the past 14 years. I was so honored to be included.

The weekend was particularly poignant, as it was my first Mother's Day weekend without my mother. She was in my thoughts all weekend, especially at the tea. I kept thinking about how much I know she would have loved it.

When I returned home safely from my journey, I was greeted with some beautiful flowers from Nicole. 

While I wasn't able to spend my day with my children, I held them in my hearts, and they let me know I was in theirs. My Mother's Day wish for them is that they will be forever blessed with great friends, just as I have been blessed with. 

Back to that little ditty we sang in Girl Scouts--we used to sing it in a round. As it turns out, there are many more lyrics to the song, which I found on scoutsongs.com. The lyrics perfectly describe our long-lasting friendship with the Goggins:

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We've been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I'll help you
and together
we will see it through.

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be.

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Life's an Adventure

Looking back on life, it's the adventures--planned or spontaneous, grand or small--that we remember the most. It's not the every day mundane routine that we remember from our past. Instead, it is the times when we step out of our ordered world and experience something different, unique, exciting, interesting, fun, scary, unusual or inspiring.

Today Joe took off with some of his buddies from Millsaps to drive to New Mexico. I learned about this plan on Wednesday night. It just kind of came together during the week. One of the guys has a grandfather who owns a cabin in New Mexico. The plan was to drive to Dallas today (as of 1pm they still weren't on the road), go to a concert in Dallas tonight, spend the night there at one of they guy's parent's home, then drive to New Mexico tomorrow. 

I could worry that they might have an accident, but then if they don't, I've spent all that time worrying for nothing. So I'm just not going to worry. Instead, I'll pray for their safety and anticipate good news from the road.

Joe has never been my adventurous child. Unlike Nicole, who is packed and ready to go at a moment's notice, Joe is more of a stick-to-home kind of guy. He likes to go to the beach, and even though he's grown up traveling to Venezuela, he's usually content being at home--as in his own home town. It's familiar, safe and he knows his limits. But as he gets older, I see him wanting to spread his wings a bit more. I'm glad. I want him to see the world and explore new things. I believe it gives a young person a broader perspective and a greater understanding of what's out there. It also makes you appreciate home all the more.

Nicole has lived in Hattiesburg, Cleveland, MS (two summers), France, Massachusetts, Kentucky and New York. She's traveled solo to Venezuela several times and she's flown all over the country doing motivational speaking. She loves an adventure more than anyone I know. 
Larry's life has been adventurous, too. He's lived in several places in Venezuela as well as England, Miami, Hattiesburg, Brandon, Ridgeland and Madison. He's seen the Beatles in concert in England, Jimi Hendrix in the Hollywood Bowl and The Rolling Stones at a club in Miami. That alone makes him a rock star in Nicole's eyes.

I never even flew in a plane until I met Larry. Besides trips to my grandparents' homes in W. Monroe and Meridian, my childhood adventures included vacation trips to Six Flags Over Texas, a beach trip to Galveston, Hot Springs, Arkansas, beach trips to Florida (I still remember going to see the mermaids at Weeki Wachi) and an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. I'm sure there were more adventures, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind. Back then, the destination was the memory, not the journey. I never particularly liked that. But I do vividly remember the Stuckey's along the way, filled with all sorts of goodies and treasures!

Now I love the journey as much as anything else, The three-day road trip driving to Maine with my friend Jonni Webb was as much fun as being in Maine. We drove through 14 states and saw changing landscapes and weather and heard accents change as we drove further north. I hope Joe takes in the scenery and sees how different our country can be as he travels west. 

Tomorrow I'm going on my own adventure. It's just an hour away, but I've never really been to Mt. Olive, Mississippi.

I have driven past it on the way up and down Highway 49 to Hattiesburg, and stopped just once to take a picture of a water tower for The Faucet, a publication of the Mississippi Rural Water Association,  for which I write. I met the guy who was head of the water department, and I met the mayor. Exciting stuff.

When I go to Mt. Olive tomorrow, it will be to take a basket weaving class from two Amish sisters. My friend Jane Bond got me roped into that one. I did get an assignment out of it, so I'll write an article about my experiences for a magazine. The sisters will be preparing a meal for us, and given my diet for the past month, I'm as excited about that as I am about learning how to weave a basket. 

Adventures are where you find them, and you have to be ready to seize the opportunity whenever you can. It's those adventures that make your life rich, and your memory banks full.

What adventure have you had lately?

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 24 of 21--The Next Big Thing

For the last 24 days, I've willingly subjected myself to a rigorous 21-day diet designed to cleanse my liver, reset my body's metabolism and to help get my body back into a state of general good health. I blogged about my experience for most of those 21 days, but on the 21st day--the day most would expect a SUPER BLOG stating how I'm so glad I'm done now let's eat cake--I was silent. I didn't feel like I was at the end of something, but rather just beginning. I had blogged earlier about how it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a habit, so on day 22, I just kept doing what I had been doing.

Perhaps it is because I was Scared Straight after getting the results from the blood tests I had done at Enhanced Wellness. The numbers showed I was knocking on the door of Type II Diabetes--my mother's killer. The whole reason I started this wellness quest was because I watched what she went through the last six months of her life. I was--and still am--determined not to walk in those shoes. (Which by the way, in the end, it was only one shoe, as she lost her leg due to this horrible disease.) I'm committed.

With that blogging block behind me, and nothing but improving health in front of me, it's on to The Next Big Thing!

I have been invited by my friend, NancyKay Wessman, to participate in a "blog hop," where bloggers are invited to write about their new/latest writing project. NancyKay wrote about two projects in her blog, Wessman Words. The first was about her recently published book, You Can Fix the Fat From Childhood and Other Heart Disease Risks, Too. She also wrote about her current project that deals with public health issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

Now it's my turn. Time for me to get busy on my Next BigThing. The request to participate in this "blog hop" included a series of questions to answer. I believe the best way for me to do that is in an interview format, with Me interviewing Myself. Here we go!

Me: What is the working title of your book?
Myself: You Can't Stop This Dancer or Every Step of the Way

Me: Where did the idea of the book originate?
Myself: From a daily blog of sorts (www.caringbridge.org/visit/nicolemarquez) that I begain writing in September 2008.

Me: Under what genre does the book come?
Myself: Creative non-fiction, and perhaps inspirational/motivational/spiritual

Me: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Myself: That's a tough one. Ask me again next year, when the book is published and Hollywood is knocking on my door!

Me: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Myself: The story of lessons learned following the unthinkable, a mother & daughter journey.

Me: Will your book be self-published, published by an independent publisher or represented by an agency?
Myself: My best guess is that it will be published by an independent publisher.

Me: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Myself: I'm still writing it.

Me: To what other books within your genre would you compare this story?
Myself: Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd. It was recommended to me by Susan Cushman because of the way it was written. It's a mother-daughter story with every other chapter written by the mother, and the in-between chapters written by the daughter. Same story. Same experiences. Two different perspectives.

Me: Who or what inspired you to write this story?
Myself: My incredible daugher, Nicole Marquez.

Me: What else about your book might pique your reader's interest?
Myself: Nicole fell six stories off the roof of her NY apartment building and today she is walking! I think that alone is enough to pique anyone's interest!

I'm inviting others to participate on this "blog hop" so we can keep it going. With any luck, you'll see these foks write about their Next Big Thing in the coming days:

Beth Kander http://littlepixiemagic.blogspot.com
Nicole Marquez www.youcantstopthisdancer.blogspot.com
Bill Torgerson http://thetorg.com

UPDATE: Turns out Bill has already participated. If you are at all interested in Vikings, you'll love his blog:

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 19 of 21

It's hard to believe I've made it this far!

I read once that it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a habit. I guess we are all pretty hard-headed. Our brains are not so easily programmed.

Think about it. We all have our morning routine. Mine was get up, make coffee. Drink coffee. Drink more coffee.

Now it's different. I still make coffee--for Larry.

We use a French press coffee maker, so while I wait for the water to boil in the tea kettle, I juice half a lemon into a mug and measure out a teaspoon of Grade B organic maple syrup. When the water boils, I pour it into the French press and then pour the remaining water into my mug with lemon and maple syrup. While he sips on coffee, I sip hot lemonade. 

Honestly, I think it's more about sipping a hot beverage as you ease into the day. I really haven't missed the caffeine--no headaches or jitters. But I do miss the taste. I love a good cup of coffee. 

Surprisingly, one thing I haven't missed is bread. I had a craving for a hamburger last week, but I think I was craving meat more than the bun. Right now, the thought of eating a hamburger from a fast food restaurant makes me a little sick. I'm free from the hold of evil fast food!

I'm 19 days in and the habits are forming. Good habits. Healthy habits. 

I am doing this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 17 of 21

I feel great! I went back to Enhanced Wellness yesterday and it was determined that I had lost 4.5 lbs of fat. I've also lost a half pound of muscle, so I need to work to get it back. They all commented that I looked thinner. I hope they weren't just being polite.

The bad news is that the blood work they did (several vials worth) was analyzed and processed and Kelly went over the report with me. It was not good. There were several categories, with columns for high risk (red), moderate risk (yellow) and optimum (green). Most of my labs landed in the red column. Ouch.

I'm knocking on the door of diabetes and heart disease. How can that be when I feel so good? Well, there are things going on in my body--bad things. Things that are brewing and building up to a coronary episode.

Unless I work to turn it around, and that's exactly what I'm doing.

So, this 21-day detox/cleanse is just the beginning of the way I'll have to live the rest of my life. My days of cookies and cake and ice cream are over.

I went to cover Michelle Obama's visit to Clinton today and listened to her and Rachael Ray talk about feeding kids nutritious foods and how it will help them excel in school, then in life. I'm jumping on that bandwagon! (By the way, being on the White House press list was pretty cool!) My article about her visit will be in the April issue of eat.drink.Mississippi magazine.


I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 15 of 21

No, you didn't miss a day...I did. I just didn't blog yesterday. It was a busy day from beginning to end and I just didn't find or make time.

But I'm doing great!

I had a guest for breakfast, and I made a wonderful omelet for both him and Larry. Sauteed onions and red bell pepper, a handful of fresh spinach and chopped mushrooms, and a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. I used four eggs and split it in half. No, I didn't eat a bite--eggs are not on this 21-day cleanse.

I also made our guest toast using sprouted Ezekial bread, along with some Trader Joe's pumpkin butter. No bread for Larry or me.

Finally, I made a big fruit bowl with apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, rasperries and bananas. You guessed it, that's what I ate.

Both Larry and our guest had coffee. I made a pot of tea and was perfectly satisfied.

For lunch, I made Larry a piece of tilapia topped with fresh tarragon and lemon slices, steamed broccoli and a green salad. I can't eat fish, so I substituted a cup of the Indian bean soup for the fish. I got my protein from the black eyed peas in the soup.

We went out to dinner with my Dad last night. We chose Aladdin, because they have several menu options that Larry and I can eat. Larry chose the chicken schwarma salad with a side of tabouli, and I had the sauteed veggie plate with rice. We normally take a bottle of wine with us to Aladdin, but last night it was water and lemon. I left full and very satisfied.

Tomorrow I go back in to Enhanced Wellness for a follow up to see how I'm doing. I can't wait to see how my numbers are doing and what the scales say!

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 13 of 21

I admit it. I'm craving a burger. A big fat juicy burger from The Blue Rooster in Flora would be awesome today. But since they don't serve grass fed beef, and I'm not eating bread right now, I'll pass.

I've gone through about three dozen organic lemons so far. At a dollar a lemon, the lemon juice I'm squeezing is more expensive than the wine I drank pre-detox. I hope my liver is happy.

This past week has nearly driven me to drink--but it hasn't. My day got off to a bad start Wednesday when I discovered water dripping down my bathroom wall and puddling on the floor. Seems our water heater was going out. About $900 later, we have a new water heater in our attic. Come see her--she's a beauty! I had a lot of work all week, so that's a good thing, but it kept me busy as I raced to make deadlines. Finding time to prepare appropriate detox meals was a challenge, but I managed to do it. I even cooked for Larry.

As we see the last days of winter, I am grateful I live in the South, and not where all that snow is that I see on TV. We've certainly had our share of rain, but I'm hoping for sunnier days ahead so that I can get outside and work in the yard. I am feeling very sedentary and need to move!

The good thing is that I don't ever really feel hungry and my craving for carbs and sweets is going away. I'm actually looking forward to going to the grocery store later today to load up on more produce for the coming week.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 12 of 21

What a difference a few days makes. Sometimes, all it takes is finally making up your mind to do something. I had made up my mind. Knowing I had the support and encouragement from the folks at Enhanced Wellness certainly helped. And then there's the accountability. I have to go back on Tuesday to check my progress. I want them to be happy with my progress.

But ultimately, the only person I need to please is myself. And I am pleased. I'm no longer puffy from water retention/ My face looks slimmer. My pants aren't as tight. I have a long way to go, but I've gotten a good, strong start.

Having a "buddy" to go through this with is great. NancyKay Wessman and I are going through the same program at the same time, so it's nice to be able to pick up the phone and ask how she's doing or get feedback on recipes tried, etc.

I'm deviating from just diet talk this morning to pay tribute to a wonderful person who lost her battle with cancer yesterday. Norma Carroll Ezell passed away yesterday. She was Nicole and Joseph's third grade teacher, and she new perfectly how to handle two kids who didn't exactly "fit the mold." We have always given her credit for discovering Nicole's acting abilities. She celebrated it by putting Nicole in every classroom skit and stage play the entire school year. It was that year that Nicole was cast in the PBS series "Funnybones" as one of three child actors. She recognized that Joe was with the wrong teacher when he was in the third grade and helped us get him transferred to her class, where he thrived. When both of them look back to the people who were their real champions, Norma Carroll Ezell will be on that list. She'll be missed.

I'm heading into another weekend...lots to do, including cleaning the house. I'm going to call that exercise!

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 11 of 21

Today marks the halfway point--more days behind me than ahead of me!

Here's an update:

I feel great! I'm eating delicious, clean food and I'm losing weight. My energy is increasing daily and I can tell a difference in my skin--it looks better, too!

Larry is also doing a 17-day intensive as I'm doing this 21-day detox. His diet and mine don't always jive. He can drink coffee, I can't. We are both to drink green tea. He can eat fish, I can't. I can eat legumes, he can't. I can't eat potatoes, he can't.

No worries. I can cook for both of our diets, because it's so important for both of us to be healthy. Last night's dinner for Larry was totally different from mine. I had Mexican Potato Salad from the Core Restore book, and Larry had a green salad, roasted brussel sprouts and tilapia.

It's always good to have something to motivate you to stick with a diet plan. My motivation is this:

I HATE how we both look in this photo taken back in December. We just look overweight and unhealthy. That's NOT how I want us to look in the myriad of photos that will be snapped next October when my niece, Lauren, gets married in Nashville! Her fiance, David, put a ring on it!

So, if we don't want to be totally out-shined by these precious people, we've got to work hard to get in picture-perfect shape!

But the biggest motivation of all is good health. I want to feel good and be much less dependent on daily medications.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 10 of 21

This is a lifestyle change.

At almost halfway in to this 21-day detox/cleanse, I'm seeing that the things I'm doing now can so easily be carried forward after this leg of the journey is over.

I mentioned the wonderful chicken we baked in the blog post I did on Monday, and the hummus I wrote about yesterday. So, now it's time to write about the most amazing soup ever! It's the Indian Bean Soup, and it's just chocked full of goodness, not to mention ingredients I've never used before.

Anything that has onions, bell pepper, and potatoes is good. Add olive oil, organic low-sodium vegetable stock, coriander, paprika and curry paste, and you're really cooking. But this soup also has turnips and parsnips, two things I'm not real familiar with. I know turnip greens, but the turnip root is a different matter. And, I have to admit, I had no idea what a parsnip looked like. I had to really scour the produce department to find some.

For educational purposes (because, aren't we all really learning a lot during this journey?!), I referred to Wikipedia and learned that the parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. A 100-g parsnip contains 75 Calories (230 kJ) of energy.

You're welcome.

I will be incorporating all these recipes into my "normal" life when this 21 days is over.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessing to all who read this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 9 of 21

I can't believe I'm into the second week of this journey, and I'm doing great!

I went to our book club meeting last night, where everyone brings an appetizer and most folks are drinking wine or other adult beverages. A test.

NancyKay and I had a plan. I went to her house yesterday afternoon where she made hummus from scratch. I have bought Sabra hummus for years, but this put that in the shade.

As a matter of fact, it was the best hummus I've ever eaten, hands down. And the best part of all is that it was super-simple to make. We took the hummus along with a tray full of cut veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, red and green bell peppers and turnips). Despite the table at book club being filled with all manner of delicious treats, the hummus was a big with everyone. Someone had brought cut up fruit, so I made a small plate piled high with veggies and hummus and fruit, and that was my dinner. I was perfectly satisfied.

(For illustration purposes. I forgot to snap a shot of our hummus, 
which was garnished with fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts.)

The hummus recipe can be found on page 36 of the Core Restore patient guide:

While NancyKay was making the hummus, I ate a bowl of the Indian Bean Soup, a recipe also found in the guide. It was delicious. I'd order that in any restaurant.

Being around ladies drinking wine at our book club didn't bother me either. NancyKay made up some of our green tea-lemon juice-maple syrup blend and took that to book club in a gallon jug. We sipped it out of wine glasses!

I'm going to meet with Kelly Engelmann at Enhanced Wellness this afternoon. I am looking forward to standing on the big scales there and seeing those numbers go d-

I can do this. I will do this. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 8 of 21

Day one of week two!

So far, so good. I'm 12 pounds down, but much of that is water weight.

Yesterday was a day of rest. Larry was off work, and we just pretty much took it easy all day. I don't have the energy I had hoped I would, but I feel that will come...I'm eating good food now.

People have asked me if Larry is doing the diet as well. He's not. But he is doing another diet--one his cardiologist suggested to him. (Make that strongly encourage...). It's the "17 Day Diet" plan. And unlike the 21-day program I'm on, this is just the first 17 days...there are two more rounds that follow.
While the diets aren't exactly alike, they are surprisingly similar. He started the day after I did, so he's now seven days into his journey. 

Yesterday he baked an amazing chicken for our lunch. It was a big ol' roaster I bought at Fresh Market--no hormones, no antibiotics--you get the drill. And it was sooooo good!
We had steamed broccoli with it, and I had a serving of brown rice. Larry, unfortunately, can't eat rice in this 17-day cycle. 

So, in addition to my detox buddy, Nancykay Wessman, Larry has joined the ranks! 

I can do this. I will do this!

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 7 of 21

I'm one-third of the way! I'm seven days into my 21-day detox/cleanse. I'm seven days into a healthier lifestyle. And I'm down some pounds already!

So, that's one week down and two to go. Yesterday I started eating "real" food...and it was a little harder than I thought. I ate a small bowl of fruit for breakfast--apple, blueberry and strawberry. After breakfast, I met up with Jonni Webb at Village Beads in Ridgeland. I stayed busy all morning, stringing beads and creating a necklace and earrings (the earrings feature pottery by jr webb pottery, Jonni's pottery business.).

Wouldn't you know we met a lady at Village Beads who had been a patient at Enhanced Wellness. She said she used to refer to Kelly Engelmann as "the witch doctor." However, she said that when she was going, she felt better than she ever had, and talking to me today made her remember that. She says she wants to go back! Do it Pat!!! :-)

After beading, Jonni and went to lunch with our new beading friend at Signa Grill in Ridgeland, where I ordered a half salad with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncinis, green and black olives. The dressing, however, kind of tripped me up. It was a shallot vinaigrette, which should have been fine, but for some reason, the acid of the vinegar was too much in my mouth. Are my taste buds changing? I ate a little over half of it, but that seemed to be fine.

After lunch I went grocery shopping. First to Fresh Market, then to Kroger. Eating healthy is NOT cheap--I bought the organic version of just about everything on my list, an that's always more expensive. My kitchen looks like a farmer's market. We have to eat all this produce this week or it will go bad. But the cost of the groceries is offset by so many other things: no snack foods, eating at home more than eating out, and of course, the long-term effects of (hopefully) getting off the blood-pressure medicine I've taken for 24 years and fewer doctor visits in the future.

(I need to add here that I was pretty disappointed in Fresh Market's produce section. Most everything except a small section was "conventionally-grown" produce. That means it was grown using pesticides and fertilizer. Also, the vast majority of the produce was from other countries. We should eat local and what's in season, and that's not what they offered. Boo on Fresh Market for not offering more locally-harvested, organic options. Kroger really beat you out on that level. There wasn't much I couldn't find in the ever-expanding organic section of Kroger.)

I wanted to get some exercise in today, but by the time I got home from grocery shopping and putting up all the groceries, I was beat. I think I'm a little weak from lack of food... So, instead, I smeared some of the almond butter I ground up at Fresh Market on a plain rice cake and savored it for a snack. I really liked the textural quality of the rice cake, and the almond butter was really tasty.

Dinner was sauteed onions, zucchini and red bell pepper--delicious. I also had a salad on the side and I put olive oil and balsamic on it.

Here's the kicker. The balsamic was TOO SWEET! After a week of no sugar, I'm wondering what's happening with my taste buds. In hindsight, I should have cooked up a chicken breast, but I didn't think about it. Tonight, we're having roasted chicken. I bought a whole roasting chicken from Fresh Market--all natural, with no antibiotics, etc.

It's almost easier NOT eating than dealing with adding food, but I am going to learn how to make this work for us. I think the trick is cooking way more than you need, then heating it up for meals later in the week.

I can do this! I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!