Tuesday = 14 years & 14 years = Almost half a lifetime of happiness

Happy 14 year anniversary to my sweet Hugo ♥  Fourteen years of thankfully having you in my life.  You made every second of the past 441,504,000 seconds happy and filled with love.  I know our anniversary isn’t until tomorrow but I remember July 31st, 2004, like it was yesterday.  It was the day we joined forces as a team and created a life on the other side of the country together.  Thank you for being such a wonderful husband and best friend♥

Early warning signs of a stroke

HOLY SHIT, did we have a close call last night.  I will cut to the middle of this story, which is the scariest part.  My husband and I genuinely thought my mother might have had a minor stroke around 7 o’clock.  After a small argument with my mom earlier in the day, the thought of my mom having a serious condition, and potential lifelong complications, was frightening, sad and incredibly scary.

Now, let’s cut to the beginning of this short story.  After a delightful dinner of stuffed clams and some sides, Hugo started to clean up the dishes as my mom and I meandered around the patio area, sitting in the hammock and enjoying the cool evening air with the company of the two dogs.  We casually chatted as I watered some potted flowers that are scattered around the patio;  she swayed back and forth in the hammock, with her glasses strung around her neck as she gazed on and off at her cell phone.  We retreated inside again so I could ice my knee for the 40th time today, rejoining Hugo in the kitchen.  My mom sat down on the long wooden bench that runs along the backside of our kitchen table.  This is the usual, private spot she posts up in our kitchen when she visits – this is because she is capable of setting up a makeshift office there, complete with her laptop and her traveling wicker basket that’s full of her weekly pills, a “seen better days” Yeti cup, and various other odds and ends that descend the stairs with her every morning.

As I sat on the couch with my knee iced and elevated, I began contemplating my new blog post topic.  I looked over at my mother and noticed she was straddling the kitchen table bench and was hunched over at the waist.  I asked my mom if she was ok as Hugo craned his neck around to look; she replied, “I can’t see.”  “You can’t see??!?”, I retorted, in shock at her statement.  Blinking her eyes as she removed her glasses, and with mild panic in her voice, my mom returned with, “I can’t see out of my right eye.”

I’m sorry…come again?  You can’t SEE out of your right EYE?!!!?!?!!  I immediately thought that she was having, or just had, a mild stroke.  To Google I went.  My dear friend Google confirmed that sudden blurry vision or loss of vision out of one or both eyes is a symptom of a stroke.  Cue the HOLY SHIT moment.

Hugo, my mom and I went back and forth for the next ten minutes discussing her sole symptom and the lack of additional symptoms.  I put my sandals on anticipating a trip to our local hospital because I was genuinely scared that she had in fact experienced a mild stroke.  We continued diagnosing her online and therefore continued frightening the three of us with the fact that an un-diagnosed stroke could lead to serious long-term complications.  My mom said that her vision was coming and going in the symptomatic eye but she didn’t want to go to the hospital just yet.  I understood her desire to wait because she didn’t want to be hasty but the loss of vision in one eye genuinely scared me.  The clock ticked by and we watched 60 Minutes, all of us nervous that we were not properly handling this potentially dangerous medical situation.

A few short minutes later, my mom got up from the couch to retrieve her glasses from the kitchen table.  She picked up the glasses and turned to face us on the couch as she gasped and laughed at the same time.  “What?”, I asked.  She held up the glasses and said, “You will not believe this.”  She moved closer to Hugo and I on the couch as she laughed again.  She showed us the glasses as she explained how the right lens was missing!  She wasn’t experiencing a stroke, her vision was blurry because her glasses weren’t intact!!

Now, you as the reader may be thinking how could this happen?  Well, you aren’t alone in this thought because Hugo and I were thinking the same thing.  My mom clarified that she had been using the glasses, minus the right eye lens, and that is when she initially began experiencing the blurry vision, or so we thought.  She took the glasses off, still felt like her eyes were off, and that’s where the story picks up.  Needless to say, the story ends with twenty minutes of deep, guttural laughter and disbelief that this actually happened.  I mean, we almost called 911 because my mom was having a stroke when in fact she had lost her glasses lens! It is so ridiculous and so great, all at the same time.

The learning lesson in all of this is to know the early warning signs of a stroke.  I like this website – the take-away is the acronym BE FAST.  Balance, Eyes, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911!  Click the link and be sure you are familiar with the symptoms.  I remembered learning about the loss of vision (our particular symptom in this scenario) a long time ago so that’s where the whole conversation started with us last night.

Finally (because I know the cliffhanger is killing you), Hugo did in fact find the missing lens.  It was hidden in the hammock from earlier that night and has since been successfully been reunited with its rightful glasses frame.  And I am happy to report that my mom is healthy and symptom free this morning ♥

Under one roof

After nearly fifteen hours of traveling the 2,872.6 miles from door-to-door, my mother bear arrived to our house safely.  That’s not to say that the trek was without bumps.  Actually, to be completely honest, it was riddled with bumps.

After driving from her home to the airport, severe weather delayed her outgoing flight by five hours.  Now, that is incredibly easy to type but when you are boarding, waiting, waiting some more, de-planing, waiting, trying to find something decent to eat at the airport, and then waiting some more for a little over 300 minutes, it sucks to say the least.  She finally departed for the left coast after the weather cleared and ultimately landed at 1:16am.  She gathered her checked luggage from the baggage claim carousel, her driver met her at the exit with a fancy name sign and she strapped herself into the backseat of her final leg of her trip.  As the driver joined a long line of vehicles patiently waiting to exit the airport parking garage and hit the road, both my mom and the driver realized something was wrong.  And the something that was wrong manifested itself in the form of an elderly, Asian parking garage ticket collector.  Thankfully, the speed at which this ticket collector processed exiting cars began to slowly improve and my mother’s car was able to begin the final leg of her voyage cross-country.  At almost half past two in the morning on this fine Saturday in late July, she arrived safely at our house.  We hugged, she tried on a bright red lifeguard jacket I gifted her, we checked out the new couches in our computer room, and we went to bed.

Good morning to the universe

It just turned into morning on the West Coast of the United States so I figured it was suiting to pen a good morning note to the earth.  All of the birds are still tucked into bed where we live and we would be too, however tonight is a little different.  As I write this, my mother is airborne, most likely flying westbound through the Rockies right about now.  Her flight was delayed roughly five hours due to severely inclement weather in New York City yesterday afternoon.  Any who, she is almost here and we are waiting up to greet her.  Hugo and I are drinking tea, eating freshly baked banana nut bread and enjoying the cool night air.

So thankful to have my mother joining us for a few days.  She is such a wonderful person and I am thoroughly looking forward to soaking her up for a few days ♥

Puppy love

Hugo and I are heartbroken.  We just found out yesterday that our male Rottweiler has advanced throat cancer.  That is a heavy sentence.  Our poor puppy – we love him so incredibly much and our house is in mourning already, just knowing that we are about to lose him.  The vet herself was somber and not very optimistic for his future.  Right now it is just about giving him the best life possible and prevent him from suffering in any way.  He is sad, we are sad.  Life really sucks sometimes.

It breaks my heart and physically pains me inside just knowing that his throat is almost completely blocked from the massive growth in there.  I feel helpless looking at someone who we have loved since he was a wiggly pup over nine years ago.  Most pet owners take on all animal relationships, knowing full well that normally humans outlive the animals in their lives.  Yet we all do it.  We know that after a silly puppy phase, to a growing adolescent phase, to a mild senior phase, we are potentially met with these awful times.  We do it for the love of animals and the friendship and companionship they give us.  And they give us so much more than that.

I have learned and grown in my own way from my relationship with my animals.  I have learned to be more patient and to love blindly, because they are masters of both qualities.  I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life, like food and how simply sitting next to someone you love can warm your heart.

I know this cycle continues every minute of every day, everywhere in the world.  Babies are born and everyone dies.  All species and for all different reasons, yet it doesn’t make it any easier when it is actually happening in front of you.  I do not believe in a higher power but I do believe in love and being kind.  Right now, my plan is to drown my old, sick dog in love and if there is anyone floating in the clouds listening to my desperate pleas, maybe they can spare him from suffering.

The agony of selling real estate

One word…ughhh.  Is that even a word?  It is to me, right here and now as we are in the middle of escrow, about to hopefully close on our rental property sale.  Dealing with lenders, underwriters, agents and all others involved is exhausting to say the least.  Our escrow snafu entails some verbiage in a homeowner’s association insurance policy, which is nothing short of 400 pages for all parties to review.  Both super boring and super unexciting and all parties involved point fingers at everyone else as to what the hold up is.  The joys of real estate transactions…here’s hoping it is over soon and we successfully close escrow on time next week!

It is sometimes difficult to be patient when dealing with other people because I sometimes want to wring their necks (as my Mom would say) when they don’t cooperate and get their business handled in a timely manner.  I am extremely assertive and aggressive when it comes to managing phone calls, checking things off of my to-do list and just, how do you say, getting shit done.  It boggles the mind when others around you are not on the same page.  Maybe that is the learning lesson in all of this.  Maybe.

Forgive yourself

I have felt a little bit like a failure, yet again, in regards to my diet because I have been straying off of my strict course since my knee surgery.  I have been so incredibly committed to myself for the past few months that since, for the past 10 days roughly, I have been eating whatever I want, I felt like I failed.  Failed myself yet again.

It took me a few days to process it.  With the constant support from my husband, who always tells me how beautiful I am, I finally processed it all today and came to my conclusion – who cares that I had a few day lapse in strict eating, I had surgery and have gone through a lot!  I have to cut myself a break sometimes (so much easier said than done for me because I am my absolute harshest critic).

So I write this as a renewed commitment to myself.  I am back on board with caring for myself and being conscious of my choices.  I will not dwell on the small mistakes I have made but I will rather celebrate all of the progress I have made.  I will continue to work hard because I am worth working hard for.  If we don’t make ourselves a priority, aren’t our priorities out of whack?

I look forward to being able to work out and move my body soon, after I become more mobile and continue to heal.  So not only do I have my renewed sense of self to be happy about today but I also have the upcoming arrival of my Mom, who is visiting us on Friday!  And I also have The Bachelorette on tonight and it starts in 5 minutes.  The only thing that would make tonight better would be having my husband at home with me (I miss him a lot since he is at work).  Cheers and goodnight ♥

Attack of the Natural Deodorants

All people sweat.  It is the body’s natural way of cooling off.   Some people sweat more than others and not everyone sweats from the same parts of their bodies.  While most sweat from their armpits, others might also sweat from the palms of their hands (me!) or anywhere else a pore is located on your body.  When we experience turbulence on an airplane, I clench Hugo’s hands as if he is my lifeline to safety.  With the anxiety of a bumping flight, my hands sweat like no other, sometimes even requiring me to wipe my hands on my pants.  Anyways, enough gross info about my clammy hands, time to progress to the topic at hand.  Since Hugo happens to sweat heavily and he also has to work 20 hour days at work once or twice a week (with this week’s temps in SoCal reaching well over 100 degrees) , we have cycled through deodorants in a never-ending search for an effective product that is also within our health parameters.

To start, we do not wear antiperspirants for two reasons.  The primary reason being that antiperspirants are made with aluminum, which we intend to avoid at all costs.  Aluminum in antiperspirants has been linked to everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.  I don’t care if topical aluminum exposure was only linked to a head cold, I would still avoid it.

The second reason for not wearing antiperspirants is the fact that the goal of antiperspirants is to block your body’s ability to sweat, which is a natural function that should not be stopped.  Sweating plays a necessary role in our bodies by cooling us off and it is completely unnatural to attempt to stop that process.

Through the years, Hugo and I have been involved in a never-ending quest to find an effective natural deodorant.  I took the attached picture of just a few of the many products we have tried in the past six months or so but there have been countless other brands that haven’t made the cut.  We have tried Tom’s products (not that great), Burt’s Bees (also not that great) and Origins No Offense deodorant (expensive but it works a bit better than the others).  We also tried another really interesting product that we found on Amazon called Organic Island Deodorant with Probiotics.  That product is very interesting.  Effective, yes, but it is devoid of scent.  You can mix it with essential oils, which we tried in the small tub version, but in the end, Hugo’s pits are the judge and they gave it a B-.

Finally, a recent gift from my Mom proved to be one of the best smelling, strongest odor-fighting sticks we have found.  As always, Mom to the rescue! Introducing… Nubian Heritage African Black Soap Deodorant.  Per Hugo, it works quite well and he has a pretty damn good opinion regarding natural deodorants because he has probably tried upwards of twenty different brands in the past couple of years.  I am a bit puzzled as to why it received such mediocre reviews on Amazon (as evidenced through my link).  I didn’t read the reviews but it could also be judged by people who are used to harsh chemical products, which undoubtedly work well, however they are absolutely awful for you.

Hopefully this short piece on attempting to cure stinky pits will serve to inform at least one person out there about the harmful effects of aluminum and the many options that serve as healthier alternatives.

Shark Week Begins!

Just a friendly reminder that Shark Week begins in less than two hours on the West Coast and if you are on the East coast, it already began! And if you are on another coast, check your local listings!  I can’t help but use all of these exclamation points out of pure excitement!  Now go turn on Discovery Channel!

Finding your true North

What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?  My first 34 years are behind me and I can’t take back any of the things I have done.  I haven’t done anything wrong in those years but all of the time is gone.  Since I don’t know how many more years I have left, how do I know what kind of time frame I have to accomplish my unknown tasks?  I have just under a hundred directions I want to go and just as many careers I want to pursue.  Hugo and I have tons of places we intend to visit, the majority of which I would run off to right now if work didn’t get in the way.  I wish someone could tell you where to go and what to do with your life.  As if there was a perfect answer to the scrolling questions and unfinished sentences in my head.  As if a script was already written, you were handed a guidebook along with a bag of survival tools, and you embarked on the path.  As bland as that may sound, it might be easier at times than having to navigate in the dark on your own.  Are you right where you should be or should you take a drastic risk and it will prove successful?  Of course the main fear we all have is that it won’t work out and I will find myself disappointed in failure and angry with poor decisions.

All of those thoughts stem from my recent internal battle over what direction to go with my life.  It isn’t a true mid-life crisis because, Spaghetti Monster willing (please comment if you get that reference rather than the typical ‘God willing’ phrase), I have well more than roughly thirty more years left on this planet.  Maybe 30 years left on Earth and another thirty on Mars?  Just kidding.  I am simply hoping for another sixty healthy years with Hugo by my side.

My recent thoughts originate from a few levels – my frustration with my current career, the thought of so many of my interests not being explored, and the feeling that every day I go to work doing what I am currently doing, I feel as if my days could be much more satisfying to me if I could throw myself into one of my many entrepreneurial interests.  There really isn’t any way of knowing if I never take the leap to make a change.  But gosh that is scary.

For now, I will just keep sitting here and plotting my next moves.  Day dreaming about the bakery I want to open, the real estate endeavors I want to take, and the endless business ventures I want to cannonball into like a teenager at the edge of a rocky edge in a sweltering summer day.  In fact, it is quite hot outside on this particular Sunday afternoon so maybe a cannonball would be appropriate right now.

Writer’s Note:  I haven’t shared this blog with anyone in my family, other than my husband, mother and father.  Apparently my parents thought that the point of all this was for me to express myself, pose rhetorical questions, and share my deepest, darkest thoughts…and then THEY would reply with tips and suggestions on how to fix it.  I understand that this is the natural parental response because they care about and love me HOWEVER, that is most definitely not the intention.  I assured my mother on the phone today that I didn’t go through the effort of writing so that I could inform them of my feelings by way of a daily post.  If I get one more email from them that includes “Dad found you some nail-biting solutions on Google”, I might have to take extreme measures (dare I say Mom and Dad get blocked?!). Love you both very much ♥