Well, days 15 and 16 seemed to slip away as I was having too much fun with my youngest sister. This was one of our best visits thus far and with her new job, I hope to have more. Not growing up together created an unfortunate gap in our relationship over the years, but having more time alone together than her last visit, we covered a wide range of conversations that revealed more of who we are today. Not to mention, how much we are alike. Which is quite awesome I must say.
What I’ve noticed is that as the oldest of four siblings, I seem to have quite naturally fallen into more of a mother-hen role. One that I embrace as this far outweighs my previous role growing up as bossy-beyotch.
Kidding, they’re too scared to call me bossy.
What’s curious is there seems to be the common belief among my siblings that I’m laden with self-sufficiency and emotional strength. This isn’t to say they don’t ask me how I’m doing or aren’t there to listen, but there’s a small element of disbelief that my world is sometimes rocked a bit. How do you think one obtains this vast wisdom that I willingly share?
I’d like to think it’s an accumulation of life experiences, including those things that one keeps on the really-really-stupid-what-was-I-possibly-thinking list. Everyone has THAT list. Talking about all sorts of things with my sister this weekend brought that list front and center. It’s those you highly regret that are cause for conversation to help you rationalize. It’s when you don’t own your mistakes in life that you can’t get past them.
I can attribute it to youth, but to a younger sister that’s more of an insult and highly unhelpful. Answers are needed, specific answers, and even though I don’t have all of them, sharing what I do know is therapeutic for all people involved. The key word here is empathy – even if you can’t process what you’re hearing, you must have empathy for those you love and care for. There's no room for judgement here, ever.
So, keep that in mind as you start thinking about your list of moments that most would respond with “No you didn’t!” Because, yes. . . you did.
It seems good old Dad has given me a blog post subject for tonight, nostalgia. It began earlier this evening with his posting of random photos of me around the age of my two teenage sons. Talk about blowing their minds to see me at 14. It’s also nice to recognize that the friends in the photos are still my friends today. Well, they’re more than friends at this point, they’re family. I lost them in the early 90s, but delighted to say have found all of them and this is where Facebook’s powers are used for good.
First there was a reunion with Bridgette in December of 2010. She and I met while I was working at Palais Royal in Houston back in 1989. I worked in the Men’s department, of course, and Bridgette worked in women’s fashion, naturally. No one knows fashion like Bridge. My favorite memories are of us going the Post Oak Ranch after work for happy hour. We owned that place back then! Cowboys in business suits?
We lost touch once I moved to Miami in 1994 with the Husband. I decided to look her up in 2010 as she came to mind. And what do ya know, she was living in Jacksonville! We’ve pretty much been quite a team since then and a force to be reckoned with if I may say so. Fortunately, she has retained more memories than me on our adventures. My favorite being when a less than attractive guy approached her while we were out one night. Being the loyal friend that I am, I convinced him that she was deaf. Hey, what are girlfriends for if not that?
Then there’s my girl Gayle! I’ve known Gayle for as long as I can remember and my Dad reminded me of some of the fantastic times in my life that wouldn’t have been so had she not been there. Our families went camping every 4th of July in the early 80s and later she was my requisite person for the buddy system my parents required when I began dating around 1987. And if you knew the things we got ourselves into, even after she moved to North Carolina and came to visit, you just might blush.
She and I both lost track of each other after we married and the distance didn’t help. And guess where I found her? On Facebook, in January of 2011. The first time we saw each other again I went with my family to North Carolina, we all had dinner and it was fantastic catching up. But, when she came for business to Florida and we got together without three pairs of little eyes, Shazam!
So, first, thank you dear Father for reminding me how lucky I am to have these two amazing women in my life. And, yes, thank you Facebook for reuniting me with my family.
Here's to reconnecting with those we've lost along the way and being a better person because of it.
My hot topic today is diabetes and the issues that surround those that either have it or in danger of getting the disease. The question I have is whether anyone who isn’t affected by it directly truly understands what it is? Presently, I have three people in my life who have Type 2 diabetes and I’m ashamed to say I truly don’t have a complete understanding of it. Ashamed because these people are important to me and I should know better.
I recently attended an event hosted by Healthy 100, which is an organization that was "created by Florida Hospital to educate and motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles.” The honorary guest speaker was everyone’s favorite Southern Belle, Paula Deen. I must say, she is every bit as charming in real life as she is on television. Paula shared her story about discovering she was a Type 2 diabetic and learning how to maintain her diabetes through moderation, healthy eating, and medicine. Interestingly enough, she spoke some diabetic lingo that initiated applause from the crowd, but left me feeling clueless (I still clapped, of course).
So, I’ve done a little research since then.
Let’s first address the term Type 2 as it relates to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) a total of 25.8 million people have diabetes and Type 2 is the most common form. Basically, what’s happening with Type 2 is that the body isn’t producing enough insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows our body’s cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Almost everything we eat is used to create glucose and it ends up in our blood to fuel the cells in our body that need it. It’s the insulin that regulates those blood glucose levels. Where Type 1 is a lack of insulin produced in the body, Type 2 is persistently high levels.
For those of you left saying, “whuuut...?” here is a handy video to explain insulin’s job a bit better.
Okay, we should all now be aware that it’s insulin that takes the sugar from the blood to transfer it to cells and without it there’s an overload in our blood as it's not being distributed.
Back to Paula - one thing she mentioned, which caused a thunderous applause, was that her A1C level was at 5.8 on her last doctor’s visit. My lovely friend I invited to come with me to the event, a Type 2 diabetic, was just about to explain when Marti White, who was on stage with Ms. Deen, elaborated what A1C meant. Essentially, this is a test that measures the average blood glucose for the past three months. ADA compares it to that of a baseball player’s season batting average as it illuminates a diabetic person’s success, in addition to making certain their treatment is working.
Based on some of the sites I’ve visited, the A1C, or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), test on the average, non-diabetic person can range from 4% - 5.6% with anything higher indicating a risk, or actuality of, diabetes. My friend who was with me explained that number can vary as your doctor may want you to stick to a level based on your age or body type.
Paula also told a story of how her blood sugar level reached 139 about seven hours after a #2 cheeseburger meal, followed a few hours later by a fat-free yogurt topped with marshmallow cream. It was implied by her sudden pause and guilty glance toward the audience that the topping wasn't so fat free. But, in her defense she was on the go running errands and, as she so cleverly explained, the #2 meal is easy to eat while driving. Who hasn't reasoned their way into that excuse? The difference is that diabetics have to be more careful as this sugar level was high for her. However, she was delighted that after walking a mile she brought the level down almost by 100. What she clearly demonstrated was that exercise is essential for a diabetic as it brings down those high sugar numbers. What’s considered high? Glad you asked.
Based on the information from the ADA website, before a meal, the blood sugar should read anywhere from 70 to 130. After a meal, the number can reach up to 180 on the glucose meter. Yet remember, the levels are based on what a health care provider has recommended based on A1C percentage and body type. I have experienced both high and low blood sugar levels with two family members. The side effects of either of these can be very disconcerting and downright scary if you don’t know what’s going on. Going with the baseball theme, first up to bat is the low blood sugar scenario, also called hypoglycemia.
I’ve had numerous occurrences with one of my in-laws who, let’s just say, isn’t meticulous in regulating his blood sugar – at all. He rarely tests his glucose level and the blood sugar lowers to numbers that essentially make him incoherent. He gets confused and slurs his words – to put it plainly, it seems as though he's intoxicated. This was extremely scary for me in the past, as well as for others around him (outside of family), as it was confusing as to whether he required sugar or had too much. Again, ignorance on my part despite the frequency of this happening. Eventually, it was understood that he was in desperate need of sugar, therefore orange juice was always on hand.
And like with anything in life, there’s a yin with this yang, where the glucose levels are too high, hyperglycemia. My mother, who had not been previously diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (but warned) fell into a diabetic coma because her blood sugar levels were about 1200. Seems rather high does it? Well, it’s a little over a thousand where it should be! Her factors for getting diabetes were exceptionally poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise. It was thought she wouldn’t live because she didn't come out of her coma for almost seven days. The list of her immediate health issues was super long, but for the most part she has made a full recovery, aside from now being a diabetic. I wish I could say she's consistently been receptive to treatment by watching her diet, checking her blood sugar levels, and exercising, but she's not. We'll call it a work in progress. You can only take them to the water so they say...
In all reality, it’s up to the individual to be responsible with their diabetic condition, however as a friend, or better yet, family member, we should all be informed and at the ready to help if needed. Considering the overwhelming amount of people who have diabetes, one must also know the myths associated with the disease as we don’t have to just be overweight or have a poor diet. Here are a few myths from the ADA website:
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
I can’t say this is all there is to know, but I think it’s a start as understanding the Type 2 diabetes that affect those important me is absolutely essential. And, armed with this knowledge, I recognize that not only are my children susceptible, but so am I. Fortunately, we’re already aware that a healthy diet and exercise are an important part of our lives, so we’re slightly ahead of the game. We encourage our kids to try new foods (this by no way, shape or form means they eat them) and try to keep our kids active.
I'll leave you with Paula's thoughts about our kids and lifestyle today compared to yesteryear, which actually applies to my childhood. This is a video I recorded at Florida Hospital's Healthy 100 event on March 11, 2013.
Sites to both help with your understanding of diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle. If you have more to share, please do!
I find myself once again at the brink of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I look forward to it immensely every year, never wondering what might be served. The table will always house my favorite things: roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce straight from the can. Yes, I said from a can! Anything else on the table is superfluous as far as I’m concerned. Oh wait…the rolls, I can’t forget the rolls AND they have to be that cheap $.99 kind. Why? Tradition, of course! By tradition I mean that the first batch of rolls is to be burnt because we ritually fail to remember they’re in the oven. So, getting the cheap kind makes the crime of wasted bread easier.
Families getting together and relishing the many flavors customarily at our table year after year is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Grandma’s dressing, mom’s freshly mashed potatoes flooded with butter and sour cream, and a rich gravy that cannot be made without the essence of the turkey that just roasted, ever. My contribution is baked sweet-potatoes, the last acceptable addition to our unvarying feast. It was over a decade ago when I ambitiously tried a new recipe, having since made it my own. I'll admit that I attempted making them different last year, however I knew immediately that I had made a mistake after the first bite. Thanksgiving…shot! Kidding, I saved it when I made my traditional one the next day for leftovers, thus allowing to world to spin properly again.
This isn’t to say that a family member won’t make a delightful cranberry relish or even a friend sharing their famous broccoli-cheese casserole. Not only are they delicious (usually), but welcomed. All I’m saying is that my plate must be filled with the foods I’m thankful for – or else. Kidding…actually no, I'm not.
I'm very flexible when it comes to daily meals, really. On any given day you’ll find me trying to put a spin on chicken, fish or even ground beef. By the way, ever notice how limiting ground beef is? What do we got? Meat loaf, hamburgers, spaghetti or tacos – that’s about it. Nevertheless, I’m always online at Food Network, using the All Recipes app on my phone or fishing through many a cookbook, desperate to try something new. I’m pleased to say that I’ve created some pretty amazing things that have surprisingly expanded the very limited palate of my kids. That, my friends, is what it’s all about, pleasing the family. Unless you’re talking about Thanksgiving, then it’s all about me.
Bridgette and me.
But…this Thanksgiving will be different because we’re spending it with my dear friend and her amazing mother. Although I am genuinely thrilled at the idea, I did fear the initial discussion of the menu as this is her home. Far be it from me to be an ungrateful guest. Yet, I knew my alter-ego, the Thanksgiving Day Bully, would surface...and it did, yet very graciously. Can you believe my canned cranberry sauce was ridiculed?
I’m delighted to say that our Thanksgiving menu has been decided without jeopardizing a friendship. I’ll get my cranberries jellied as I like and she’ll make a fabulous cranberry soufflé that will no doubt make the finest of chefs green with envy. The important thing is that we are maintaining our individual traditions while creating new ones. That's something to be thankful for.
I’m struggling to understand the difference between need and want, but only as it relates to the inevitable move. It’s not about the need to brush my hair, but want a hairstylist to take care of it for me because they have some sort of magic mojo that makes my hair look perfect. My dilemma is I’m in need of being around my family, yet I want to be around a very tight-knit community of friends that has been generated over the past three years. Well, the family is in Texas and the friends are in Florida…where does that leave me? Pretty much imbalanced.
I’m not going to make a list of pros and cons because in the long run, family is always the front-runner - but (and that’s a very big but), we have found ourselves in the midst of the perfect state, a utopia if you will. Now, utopia is defined as an 'ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.’ Check, check and check. How do I leave such a place behind with no promise that the next one will have any one of these qualities? Really…I need to know.
In living with the good, and the not so good, Florida has been home for 16 years collectively. To avoid any calculations of my age I will offer it’s just about half of my life. How about thinking about it terms of my kid’s lives? My oldest is about to be 13 and only sees Florida as home, as do the younger two. And as kids, they only see what is in front of them, the tangible thoughts of what home is. Perhaps I’m just a kid at heart too? All I can see is the friends around us and the intimate bonds we have created in just a very short time.
And as with all things in life, we must think of it in terms of a song, a good song. A song that can encapsulate the mood, feelings and general disposition we are feeling right now…
My photo adventures in Florida