My Midlife

Life’s Setbacks

Getting Back on Track

By “My Midlife,” Lord knows I’ve hit some setbacks. Everyone, at this point is familiar with life’s setbacks – stepping off our healthy eating and gym plans, not meeting personal or career goals, wanting to be elsewhere in our lives by midlife. You get the picture. Well, in recent months I’ve had some setbacks. And these setbacks have pulled me away from my writing and actually have geared me into another phase of life.

In November I had a heart attack. And upon driving to the emergency room, which I don’t recommend, I seized and died twice. I was placed into a coma overnight. And when I left the hospital, I wore a defibrillator vest for five months until I could undergo a major heart surgery.

Have you had any of “Life’s Setbacks” that you’ve learned from?

Needless to say, I’ve had a great deal of setbacks – some I’ve conquered and others I’m still going through today. It is a true realization when all the independence you’ve grown into is no longer there. Thank God for my Mom who stood by me for six months – helping me to and from the bathroom, getting me dressed and undressed, counting and organizing all of my pills, taking me to not only doctors’ appointments but also just getting me out of the house to keep my spirits high.

Needless to say, after the loss of my father in 1998, I don’t take anything for granted. This experience was just a reminder.

From this experience, this cardiac episode probably was nothing I did, but probably part of a congenital heart problem. But like anything, there’s room for improvements.

Monday I began my online competition, the MeltDown Challenge® at www.meltdownchallenge.com with my health coach, Honey Beth Wiggs, which I spoke about in an earlier blog post. My plan is to continue to make better health choices. I’m now on a low-sodium/low-fat diet for life. I can occasionally go off course. But like I told Mom, my body just doesn’t feel right putting all kinds of junk into it. So with this transition, I encourage you to be better to your body by feeding it right and exercise, with your doctor’s recommendations. I’m not on a regular exercise regimen, as of yet. But I am now able to walk my pup around the block without running out of breathe.

With setbacks, they can either keep you going along the same path or change your course completely. For me, my setback has sent me into another direction. I will continue my writing career, but I’m currently going to school to become an EKG Technician.

Classes are going well. And I hope with my compassion for the patients, knowing where they’ve been and relating to them, I can combine a working knowledge of the heart and make a difference to my patients. So as I continue to learn life’s setbacks are not necessarily bad things. For me, they are helping me “getting back on track.”

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about “My Midlife” and my “Life’s Setbacks.” Blessings to you in your journey.

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Reflection

Thirteen Years Ago

Life has a tendency to throw curve balls. But it is the way in which you play the rest of the game that matters.

Thirteen years ago I enjoyed an afternoon wedding in a castle. It was my wedding. I remembered having my marriage license signed for the adventure that was to begin.

Today I didn’t celebrate that event. But I remember it and know that I would not have grown into the woman I am today without having had gone down that road.

Since that day, I’ve had bigger battles in my life than marriage, or even divorce. I’ve wanted a man to guide me and be with me through those battles. God has been rock through it all. He has reminded me of how strong I can be, and have to be.

I do still believe in marriage. But I only pray that these such challenges make me into an even better wife, better life partner, and better mom to my future kids.

In the meantime, I look at this picture, a reminder that I haven’t lost myself, my soul, in the process. And that is a blessing in itself.

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about this post.
Blessings to you in your journey.

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Eating Raw

Tasting Other Aspects of Life

Ever consider going to a restaurant and eating raw? Just think of it as tasting other aspects of life.

After my heart attack, my body requires a low-sodium and a heart-healthy diet. Yet there comes a time when you need a break from the norm.

With that in mind and a ladies’ night due, I chose a local Triangle restaurant that I need to recommend. Living Kitchen is located in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina on Fayetteville Street. It’s in walking distance to the Raleigh Convention Center, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Meymandi Concert Hall and Red Hat Amphitheater.

Been to any new, healthy or out of the norm restaurants? Any healthy choices to help in “My Midlife?”

I felt as if I walked into Ikea – the bamboo colored tabletops, simple chairs and stools décor whispered a very clean and “green” atmosphere. It was very much a “raw,” “organic,” and healthy restaurant to try something “out of the box” for an evening.

The waitress was pleasant, welcoming and guiding us on our tour for the evening. Explaining my health concerns, she showed me what to avoid and what would be safe.

I chose a healthy tropical drink to start – the Avocolada. They blended avocado, pineapple, coconut, vanilla and apple juice for a smoothie.

And for my appetizer, I ordered to share – the Portobello Falafel. According to the menu, these were “three Mediterranean style falafels, served with cashew yogurt tzatziki and tabouli.” According to Wikipedia, Falafel is usually made primarily of chickpeas and deep-fried.

Remember, I told you we were at a raw restaurant. But as our waitress explained, this is one of the menu items not totally raw, yet it’s not traditionally deep-fried either. It is actually toasted. And also unlike the chickpeas, their version is mainly portabello mushrooms. The end result – a tasty treat. The cashew yogurt tzatziki sauce and tabouli tasted very much like the traditional side items.

My main course was a unique choice full of flavors, introduced in a new way. I’ve been on an avocado kick lately, so I was eager to try the Avocado and Basil Sandwich. This treat from the garden consisted of a “toasted multi-grain bread piled high with fresh slices of avocado, tomato, red onion, sprouts, basil, a lemon-parsley hummus and cashew sour cream.”  My side item was a Broccoli Waldorf salad made of “broccoli, green apple, celery, walnuts, raisins, and red onions tossed with cashew mayonnaise.”

I do have to say, I didn’t realize that cashews can be used so many ways. And though they have fats, according to our waitress, they are one of the healthier fats.

Our overall reaction – extremely tasty and filling. It was so much so, that we boxed our left overs and skipped dessert. As with being downtown, we still had to walk to our car – another healthy move for the night.

So if you ever want anything out of the norm and crave something raw. Just think of it as tasting other aspects of life and see where your taste buds take you while visiting the Living Kitchen.

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about this restaurant and if you think it will be somewhere you may visit. Blessings to you in your journey.

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What’s Red and Can Speak on Your Behalf?

A True Life Support

Now those that know me, know that November 18, 2016 started out like any other day. But those who also know me know that it didn’t end like any other day.

That morning actually started more exciting than normal. Not one to always make biscuits, I decided to pop a can and bake some upon my return from walking Sophie, my year old lab pup. I baked them, but still responded to a text from a girlfriend for breakfast. So I put the biscuits aside and joined my friend in North Raleigh at a restaurant I’d never been to, but had been meaning to try.

It was a true blessing. Not only did I get a gift of seeing a friend on a week that had been emotionally hard for me, but I also got to see and hold a smiling baby. What a joy!

Well, we had a great breakfast, had a chance to reconnect, held a baby and even posed for pictures. Already out of the house, I decided to do some errands.

Do you have any great ways, links, tips or vehicles that may help in “My Midlife?”

Later in the day, when I arrived home, I’d let Sophie out. I ate a piece of string cheese.

That was it… that’s when it all happened. I ate a piece of string cheese. And then it happened. I had a weird pain in my back right shoulder.

I didn’t freak at that point as I’d had problems with my left side for over a year due to hand problems. But either way I called my mom and told her I just didn’t feel right.

After hemming and hawing about laying down or going to the ER, I decided on the latter. But prior to leaving the house I did start having chest pains and a tightened jaw. But I still didn’t leave at that point.

The pacemaker I’m currently wearing is Wi-Fi. So I went up to my third floor and downloaded my pacemaker to the pacemaker company and my doctor. Once that was complete, I was on my way.

Now with all that said, there were quite a few lessons learned:

  • I was having a heart attack. Never realized it until a day later, after spending the night under sedation on a ventilator.
  • I should never had driven! I did actually text a friend who was thirty minutes into a park on a trail. My response to his text, “I don’t have 30 minutes.” Though I didn’t know what was wrong, I believe I had divine intervention to tell me that there was an urgency to find the people that could help me.
  • And I thank God I kept cool and grabbed what was important – my RED BAG!

Now you’re probably wondering what’s the RED BAG? Well, in this case, it was part of my life saver. However, there are lessons to learn here too.

First off, I picked up the RED BAG a couple of years ago at the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) booth at an annual meeting. This ministry does exactly what their name says – they assist the aging with products to cope with their stages of life. The RED BAG is just one of their vehicles.

Because I have normal everyday medications and vitamins, I use one. However, because I often travel, I also had those medications in it. At any event I grabbed it and got to the hospital. So when I collapsed in the lobby, my RED BAG spoke for me. But it doesn’t end there. There were lessons here also:

  • Only keep the medications you’re currently taking in this bag. There was some confusion as I had cough medicine for “in case” situations, yet had not used it for months.
  • In the front of the RED BAG is a form listing the medications, dosage, schedule, etc. This should have been filled out.
  • And because I had a hand splint, it would have probably been a good idea to have documentation in the RED BAG showing why I was wearing it.
  • Also, on that prescription card, obviously have your name, address, phone number and your emergency contact listed.
  • I unfortunately did not have the card filled out. Thankfully I carry my driver’s license, insurance card and pacemaker card with me at all times. So when the hospital investigated, they found their answers. But it would have helped if the answers were more straight-forward. Let the RED BAG speak on your behalf!

So how do I get this RED BAG? Go to:

http://www.ncbam.org/assets/red-bag_order_form.pdf

The NCBAM website states, “As part of its Priority #1: Prevention initiative, NCBAM is putting life-saving RED BAGS into the homes of as many aging adults as possible. Distributing RED BAGS can be a valuable ministry opportunity for North Carolina Baptists to impact the lives of the aging 65+ in their churches and communities.”

But I’m here to tell you that as a young person with medical conditions it has been a God send. I believe in this product so much, that I just purchased 30 of them for my Mended Hearts chapter. I’ve been meaning to get them into their hands since my episode, but they just received them last Monday. And everyone was overjoyed. I pray you are as well.

I hope to continue to bring you lessons, and vehicles, to help you as they’ve helped me in “My Midlife.”

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about this product and if you think it will be something you can use as I have in “My Midlife.” Blessings to you in your journey.

 

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Midlife Dating

Where Do I Find that Special Someone

With Valentine’s Day approaching where do midlifers meet “The one?” In our younger days, dating was easier. I would see a guy across the classroom and eventually he would notice me. But times are tougher in “My Midlife.” So where do I meet that special someone?

Church, people say church. Been there and done that. It does help to attend a church strong in a single fellowship. But I’ve also visited other churches, primarily singles events. Funny thing, when you’re in one denomination, you meet the same people all across the board. They’re in the same boat. You’ve seen them so much it feels more like a family reunion at church functions then a place to meet like-minded future husbands or wives.

Do you have any great ways, links, areas or other sources to meet “the one?”

Speaking of meeting people in like-minded arenas, there’s always Meetup groups. They are nation-wide and call for people to fit any particular niche. There’s a group that meets for dance, walking, yoga, sports, photography, book clubs and well, you get the picture. Meetup offers an array of areas where you can come into contact, and potentially meet someone of interest. If not, you’ve spent an afternoon playing a sport you like or learning how to dance with several partners.

And another high tech way to reach out and meet others, why not try online dating. Yep, I’m there now. I’ve tried Match.com and eHarmony. I’ve heard stories of matches that have resulted in marriage. Other sites are less expensive or free such as Okcupid, whereas others go by a subscription. Coupons and discounts are online or emailed often. In addition, some of these sites also offer opportunities such as cooking classes, wine tastings and even trips such as skiing or cruises to meet other singles in a more comfortable environment.

Talking about classes, why not go old school. Check out night classes at local companies and community colleges that may peak your interest.

But more and more, I hear people meet available partners through friends and family in “My Midlife.” So whichever way you choose, I’m going to keep my eyes open because you never know where I may find that special someone.

I’d love to hear from you on encouraging words of dating in “My Midlife.” Blessings to you in your journey.

 
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What Super Bowl Game?

Bunco is “My Midlife” Game of Choice!

Hear the roar of the crowd? Smell the food? Got your teammate? Who’s routing for who?

You think you’re at the Super Bowl? Nope! Bunco is “My Midlife” game of choice!

Invited online, Mom and I decided to adventure out with a new group of ladies. The lady who invited me, we met at the Triangle Associational Freelancer’s meeting just last Thursday. So when the invite came across Facebook – Mom said, “Sure, we can do that!”

Both of us have played in the past. But like anything, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” And in actuality, I only played once. And like any regional game or dance, some rules vary from one destination to another. But it’s easy to catch on, as there were a couple of newbies last night.

I’d love to hear your Bunco stories. Please post your comments here as I’m still growing my audience and want to start conversations at “My Midlife” blog. Blessings to you in your journey.

Like the Super Bowl, we had chips and dips, appetizers and refreshments. We had teammates, though they change from table to table, and sometimes you keep the same. But no jerseys are required. And we toss, not a football, but a little pink die across the room with a “travel.” And missing players, no problem – we women improvise with a ghost player until someone comes into replace her (there’s more than one reason for a stuffed animal in this world!)

Like the Super Bowl, it’s a room (or arena) full of people (or ladies) wanting a night out. It was a room full of about 10 ladies from all different states who migrated to North Carolina. They varied in age, most of them moms, who just wanted a night to be girls (ladies) again. No sense of dressing up, but just being ourselves to laugh and have fun playing a funny game with a pink fuzzy die. I laughed until I cried.

I highly recommended this game for a great night full of laughter, screaming, concentration, counting, points, travels, and BUNCOS!!! Especially since Bunco is “My Midlife” Game of Choice!

 

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Life Is Sweeter with Honey:

How to Create a Joy Filled Life

For this week I’m doing something a little bit different for “My Midlife” blog. You remember one of my first blog posts last year about health coach, Honey Beth Wiggs? Well, check out what’s been going on in her life and what you can do for her today — it’s a WIN WIN!!!!
To read more about our interview last year, check out the original “My Midlife” post at the end of this page. In the meantime, I give you….
My good friend Honey Beth Wiggs has written her first book! Her goal is to sell 3000 copies today. Will you help me support her and purchase one (or two as gifts) TODAY! Let’s be an encouragement and get her on the best sellers list!
Life Is Sweeter with Honey: How to Create a Joy Filled Life
Want more joy and adventure in your life but don’t know where to start? Time flies. One blink, and kids are grown with families of their own, we’re working the same uninspiring job, and the dreams we had for our future are dim and unrealized. How can we stop thi…
 I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about “Life Is Sweeter with Honey: How to Create a Joy Filled Life.” Please post your comments here as I’m still growing my audience and want to start conversations at “My Midlife” blog. Blessings to you in your journey.
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Healthy Eats

Making Changes One Bite at a Time

Healthy eats should be natural urges. But with so many processed foods and schedules on the go, I find it easier to grab foods on the run, rather than eat a well-balanced diet all the time. I know I’m not alone in this battle. And many people who know me, know I’ve taken a crack at dieting and weight loss in the past. I lost 42 pounds, at one point, and was sure I would keep with the changes I made. But life creeped in, snacking started small, I ate more processed foods on the run, exercised less and finally pounds moved in and made a home amongst my body.

But with my latest health crisis in “My Midlife,” I’m once again changing my diet and way of life. This time it’s not just for a great body to be attractive, but most importantly, to get my body back to where it needs to be health-wise to function.

One main change I’ve had to make was a heart-healthy low-sodium diet. I was told by my doctor that “Salt is now your enemy.” With that, I avoid it at any cost. Now I know your body probably needs some sodium to function, and with food research, there’s practically nothing without it.

The best food choices for me is fresh fruits and vegetables. Canned, and even frozen foods, have a lot of sodium. This sodium helps to preserve these foods so they last longer.

I also love meat. I’m currently eating more chicken and fish. But I’ve also had a steak, hamburger, and shrimp. It seems that each of these may have some sodium, again for preservation. But I make it a habit not to add any additional salt. Instead, when cooked at home, we use salt-free alternative products.

And treats, well, along with watching sodium, I also look at the fats. My current go-tos have been:

  • Cotton Candy
  • Health Conscious and Sometime Tofu-based Ice-creams
  • Fruit-filled Cookies
  • Hot Teas with Fat-free Creamers and Sugar
  • Apple Slices with Mascarpone
  • Rice Cakes with Almond Butter
  • Almond Butter and Honey on a Healthy Multi-Grained Bread

Another change I’ve made is using less sauces and salad dressings. I have to confess, I still use ketchup, but I eat organic and the lowest sodium and fat content I can find. I minimalize my use of these products, but use oil and vinegar, where I can. I leave some of the creamier ones for the uncooked veggies like peppers and mushrooms.

When eating out at restaurants, I try my best to make wise choices. Usually I find grilled chicken or fish on the menu. My sides are usually steamed broccoli with a side of lemon wedges, side salad with oil and vinegar and/or a sweet potato with butter and brown sugar. Butter is another item I usually watch closer at home, as we’ve found a low-sodium, less fat alternative.

Do you have any great tips, links, books or other sources? Make a comment below and we can exchange ideas.

I’m not ready for the gym yet, but I am walking a lot more than I was, at a slower pace. I started out going on errands for a couple of hours at a time, walking at malls. Then once I was healthy enough to get my pup returned from her foster, I was able to walk two to three times a day around our block. That’s where I am now, since it’s been a week since her return.

But I’m making changes to better my life. And I pray that these “Healthy Eats” are “Making changes one bite at a time.”

I’d love to hear from you on encouraging words of low-sodium, heart healthy snacks and meals. Blessings to you in your journey.

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New Year, More Challenges

Is the New Year Always the Starting Point?

You would think by “My Midlife” I would be on top of the new year with many tasks to help guide me into a new phase of life. But the new year offers, not only more aspirations and dreams to afford and achieve, but responsibilities in closing the previous year. It’s been a slow transition this time around.

But I was able to pay bills, apply for jobs and new projects, reinstate policies and work membership groups and make appointments for a better transition. I mentally made checklists of everything I want to change for myself – go to the gym more, eat better, life balance, etc. You get the picture.

But do we really have to wait for a new year to make and plan new goals? For me, some of these changes developed in the process of a health scare back in November. Nothing like being thrown into the lions’ den to get your act together. As a result, I’m eating a heart healthy, low-sodium diet. The gym and dancing will come soon enough. And it will all bring my life into balance.

As I’ve been on programs before and previously lost 42 pounds, I know that it works. This time I will change the process. Try new things and give it my all. This time, reality is, it’s not just to look good but to live a longer and healthier life for what’s to come.

Do you have any great tips, links, books or other sources?

When reaching goals in the past, I’ve learned to write out and number lists with those most important at the top. I’ve also seen the encouragement of vision boards. And more encouragement and process happens amongst groups and positive conversations.

But with going forth in making changes, especially at the end of one year and the start of new one, comes reflection. To be honest, my eyes were really opened in November. After the fear subsided, I realized that I’ve been put on this earth, like everyone, for a reason. God has a purpose for all of us. We are to use our talents and gifts for others to see Him. With that said, I write this first blog post encouraging you in the 2017 journey. Make it a great year.

I’d love to hear from you on encouraging words of transitions and dreams you’re achieving in 2017. Blessings to you in your journey.

 

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Treacherous Roads

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutBy “My Midlife,” I’ve been through treacherous roads, both physically and metaphorically. I’m not sure which ones are worse. But both have unknown destinations or reasons for their challenges. These last couple of weeks have been just those – treacherous roads.

With Hurricane Matthew looking like a twin brother of Hurricane Andrew, I thought it best for Mom to evacuate. Since inheriting the beach house, this was the first major storm to hit our little coast of Florida, specifically Melbourne Beach.

“I can evacuate to Orlando,” Mom said. “I want to return to see and pick up the damages.”

“But it’s like an Andrew. And he looks like he’s taking over the state,” I freaked. “And anyway, you can kind of plan for a hurricane, but not the tornadoes that they bring.” With that, she packed the house and came to North Carolina.

Now it wasn’t an easy task for her to just pack and go. Not only did she have to pack her clothes, medicine and make-up. But she also had to pack up her two dogs and their food and toys. And with a hurricane coming, she then had to pack the fridge and freezer in prevention of power loss.

Once she arrived in North Carolina, she rested for a day and then we had to prepare my North Carolina home for the storm. With three levels and porches or decks on two, we had to pull in all of the furniture and planting pots inside. I also prepared my office, in the bottom floor, for tornado evacuations. We brought my dog’s crate and my bird down to the bottom floor. I also had a mattress. But seeing as Mom’s two dogs and mine did not get along, she decided to go to bed in the bedroom on the third floor.

We slept so long that when we awoke we couldn’t find the storm on any of the news sources on our phones. By then my satellite dish was out. I texted friends. We seemed to have slept through most of the storm – some wind but mostly constant rain. Some friends lost power, some lights flickered and many trees fell around the area, closing familiar roads. But we were okay. We had not lost power as the lines in my neighborhood are underground. And with some recent landscape improvements, in our neighborhood, there was not much flooding. We were some of the blessed ones.

Then the aftermath pulled at our hearts and minds. We saw pictures of Florida under water. But no one was aloud on the island. Mom and I fretted, remembering the paintings Dad had hanging in our Florida home. “Mom, did you think to bring…” the list continued of all of the items left in the house. I knew that they were just things, but they were some of the last things of my Dad’s. They were things that his hands had created and could not be replaced. But erasing them from memory, I was glad that mom and the pups made it here safely.

A day or so later we drove around and got a bite to eat. It was nice to be out of the house, yet Mom’s energy was not fully recovered. And when we returned home, she constantly reached for the couch or bed. With a fever blister, we thought it was just the stress of shutting down the Florida home, the rushed road trip and helping to hunker down the North Carolina home. I let her sleep.

On the third evening, she asked to go to the ER. She saw the doctors and they asked her to stay. Now by “My Midlife,” I can be sick all day long and it’s okay because Mom’s there to comfort me, even if just by a phone call, text or email. But when Mom’s sick, trauma sets in and another ride on a treacherous road.

So I got home from the hospital at midnight and tended to all the pups. Sophie, still crated at 57 lbs. and a year old, as of November 2, she stayed crated. Mom’s two shih Tzus ran on the second floor free. With not knowing how they would react without their mom and knowing one was a biter, I let him (Chowder) sleep on the love seat. Claudia and I slept on the couch.

Morning came and now the true testament would take place. With the two little guys still asleep, I took Sophie for a walk. Upon our return, all the house was awake and the pups were ready to go. What to do? I did the best thing any instant mom of three would do. I placed Sophie in the backseat of my car with the windows cracked. It was still early morning and cool. Then I walked Chowder and Claudia, not far but just enough. I then placed them into the backseat of my mom’s SUV where their travel crate was. Once I crated Sophie, I brought the other two back upstairs and my day was accomplished.

Two days after Mom’s hospital release, we had a brilliant idea. With Mom feeling somewhat better and my bird and dog with their sitter, why not leave Sunday afternoon. We could bypass some of the work traffic on Monday and get passed the hardest hit areas. So that’s what we did. But the drive was more than we expected.

Tune in next week to find out just what happened on our drive to Florida and beyond.