Sunday, April 27, 2008

A New Definition to Self-Mastery

I confess! I was listening to Dr. Laura the other day in the car. She mentioned how dogs often take emotional cues from their masters, just as kids may be afraid of something because their parents have "warned" them it will be scary. The idea of taking cues from our "masters" and subconsciously mirroring those feelings sort of stuck with me.

We just returned from a trip and getting back into the swing of things has been stressful. My husband has been irritable, short-tempered and no fun to be around as he has had to deal with making up for all the work that has stockpiled while he was away. Yesterday I was so weepy and I couldn't understand why I was so down until I stopped and put one and one together. I was personalizing so much of my husband's stress, just like the dog taking cues from his master.

I thought of teens who get pulled into behaviors they wouldn't have otherwise chosen or women that become destroyed by emotional abuse. They allow someone else to become their "master" and have undue control over what they feel.

I once saw a newscast about a woman who was kidnapped and raped for two days before she was released. The journalist questioning her asked if this would destroy her life but I remember her bravely shaking her head and saying, "This man stole two days of my life, why would I let him steal one more second." She vowed that she was going to put it behind her and live every day she had left to its fullest. For her, she was the master. That type of emotionally "self-mastery" is a powerful gift that we can each aspire to.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How Much Diet Soda Have You Been Drinking?

By Christine Thackeray

I have this close friend that hasn't been feeling well for months now. It started with muscle weakness with her hands. She would just drop things. One day she was holding one of those small bottle of bleach and it suddenly felt too heavy. She dropped it on her family room carpet and ruined it. Then she began to be sick to her stomach. At first is was just loose stools but soon it was full-out diarhea for week, into months, which made her feel tired all the time.

Then her eyes felt funny. She was worried something was seriously wrong with them. They felt itchy and swollen and soon after she woke up and couldn't see at all. She thought she was blind. It happened three times. She started to get really scared and finally went to the ER who told her she probably had MS. She made an appointment with a neurologist a few months out and then she started having episodes where she couldn't talk. She knew the words but it was like her body was off-line for a few minutes. At this point she kept telling me she thought she had cancer, like a tumor in her brain and was going to die.

From her ER visit they told her that her potasium levels were low. She should eat banana's and have no caffeine. She began feeling much better and assumed it was the potassium until today. This morning her daughter was sick with a low grade fever but no other symptoms. When she called the pediatrician, she asked if my friends daughter was drinking any diet drinks or aspartame products. When my friend asked why, she told her there had been at least four reported deaths from aspartame poisoning and probably many more. In some people it can cause muscle weakness, seizures, lethargy, diarhea and blindness.

So it wasn't the caffiene, it was the ASPARTAME! I know with me that I really liked black cherry Fresca when I first tried it but after a handful of cans, I couldn't put one near my head without gagging. It is incredible to me that this product could be that bad for you and not be pulled from the shelves. I was in shock.

I just want to say that when people talk about many of these health alerts, I roll my eyes but this, I saw with my own eyes. For some people ASPARTAME is a POISON and the fact that two sets of doctors never caught it is scary. How many people feel weak, tired, said or depressed- it could be caused by your favorite drink.

So right now put down that diet soda and swear to me you will not have another- or your children.


This is going to be sort of a whining post, I'll try to keep out too much of the whining, though.

One of my daughter's friends is getting married next week. My daughter and her other friends are very upset over this. Here is how this played out:

Three of these girls have been friends since elementary school. They hung around together, did birthday parties together, played together during and after school. Then when our ward (church congregation) boundaries were changed, all three of them were together even at church. In high school, another girl moved in and joined the "gaggle of girls" and it was fun had by all. They supported and helped each other through the normal wear and tear of their growing up years. Then they graduated from high school. Not much changed. Two went away to college in a neighboring town and two, (my daughter and the neighbor girl) lived at home and worked and went to school.

There were new jobs, new routines, new roommates, new friends, and new boy friends. But still these four girls spent as much time together as schedules would allow. There were still get togethers and parties and fun times. The last good time, though, was about New Years Eve.

Then it happened. One of the girls had "the talk" with her good guy friend. He felt he was holding her back. He wanted to date her and probably even marry her, but he wanted her to experience life and grow as a person. She wanted to be married before she was 20 (which will be in a couple of weeks from now). She was sad. She was hurt. She doubted that her life plan would work out the way she wanted it to.

She met the new guy at church. This was approximately Jan 3ish. His fiancee had just broke up with him that day. He asked her out. They went out that night. They were engaged 1 week later. And now they are getting married next week. They have known each other for 3 months.

And that is not the scary part of this whole story. He hates her friends. They are not a good influence. She needs to learn to cleave unto him and him only. She is no longer allowed to talk to my daughter and the other friends. He had her tell them, "I know longer need friends now that I have Mr. Walks on Water. He is my whole and complete life and you just drag me down. I am a woman now and need to put away childish things. You (said with derrision) are children and childish. We need no one but each other. Our whole lives will be wrapped up in each other and we will spend every spare moment with each other."

{step one of the abuser- isolate your victim}

This girl is a cute, cute gal. She is a bit quirky, but that is who she is, it makes her endearing. She never, ever wears matching socks. Never. And panty hose- are you kidding me. And all of her dresses are cute prarie style skirts- simple and non fluff, but they are totally her. If you were to picture her, you would see- a gingerbread cottage, but not too fancy, simple and plain. She is one of the most gorgeous girls on the earth, without makeup. Her chestnut colored hair is long and straight, but shiny and under control, with no product to make it that way. A true earth mother. She wanted to be a botanist.

I saw her at Easter when she came to our church meetings with Mr. Walks On Water. Her hair was curled and pulled back in a semi- updo. She had on a cream colored suit dress, panty hose and high heels. She was wearing make-up. She was pretty and well put together. A true garden party, country club mistress. Who is this girl?

And Mr Walks on Water? He looked like he could have stepped out of GQ. He sat behind me in Sunday School and kept up a quiet runnin commentary about how none of us in the classroom knew what we were talking about and he was the only one in the classroom that knew anything at all about the scriptures. He emminated a strong "holier than thou" feeling.

I felt the same vibes from him that I feel from other abusive men that I know. I felt sick to my stomach just sitting by him. I truly tried to not let my daughter's opinion of him color my judgement. If you have ever had much to do with abusive men, be it physical, emotional, verbal, s~xual, or mental abuse, you will know what I mean. You can feel it radiating from them. When I encounter these men, I run as soon as possible and have as little contact with them as I can. I even warn my children from them. Even if I have no evidence to support my feelings- I am almost 100% right. I am sensitive to the auras surrounding them. He had the aura in great big flashing neon signs.

My daughter and I talked about this after church. She is as sensitive to them as I am. She told me that the girl had changed her major because botany was too time consuming. And my daughter could not believe what her friend was wearing. That change was new in the last couple of weeks. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she felt that she needed to act more like a grown woman and that clothes were a needed change. I know I don't wear the same style that I wore when I was 18. It is possible. I keep telling my daughter and the other girls that if this marriage is a mistake, then it is hers to make.

The girls had given this friend a bridal shower on Saturday. Mr. Walks on Water attended to make sure that they didn't do anything degrading or stupid. Mr. Walks on Water told my daughter and the other original friend that he cannot trust his fiancee around them because they might influence her to be unrighteous. These two girls (who were giving the shower) left early.

Monday night it all came to a head. My daughter sent a text message to friend asking how her day had been. Friend texted back "Why are you asking? What are you trying to do to me? You know what, you and neighbor friend are unwelcome at my wedding and my reception. Mr. Walks on Water says that you are evil and vile and he gets a sick feeling when you are around and he also feels evil spirits when you come around us. Do not speak to me again." My daughter cried for 2 hours.

I will not be attending the reception, I do not want to make a scene, but if I were to come face to face with this horrible excuse for a man, I would give him a piece of my mind and I don't use that kind of language. Truthfully, I hope that my daughter and I are wrong. For friend's sake, I really hope they live happily ever after and that she has the life that she believes she is getting. But deep down, I fear that she is trading friends and family for years of saddness, neglect and abuse. I really think that in 3 months, she will be another statistic, another abused wife, another ER visit. I am going to give her mother a copy of the book, "Not Another Sara", because I am afraid that they are going to need it to help them get through the next year.

I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Real Friendship!

I'm supposed to be working but a friend emailed me this and it was just too good not to share. Why is it that when your dealing with yucky stuff in your life that some people make you want to rip their heads off and others can help you heal in ways you never dreamed?

Perhaps a little of the answer lies in the following silly couplets of what real friendship is all about.

  1. When you are sad -- I will help you plot revenge against the sorry jerk who made you sad.
  2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodgewhatever is choking you.
  3. When you smile -- I will know you are thinking of something that I would probably want to be involved in.
  4. When you are scared -- I will rag you aboutit every chance I get until you're Not.
  5. When you are worried -- I will tell youhorrible stories about how much Worse it could beuntil you quit whining.
  6. When you are confused -- I will try to useonly little words.
  7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
  8. When you fall -- I will laugh at your clumsy butt, but I'll help you up.

This is my oath.... I pledge it to the end.'Why?' you may ask; 'because you are my friend'. Friendship is like peeing in your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

To me, this sentiment says a lot because real friendship isn't always hugs, smiles and chocolates. I remember hearing about a couple whose baby stopped breathing. They gently lifted the infant and dashed to the hospital, holding the small struggling baby up to the ER nurse. Instantly she grabbed the child and held it upside down, smacking its back and bottom. The baby began to scream and the horrified parents snatched back their child but the nurse realized that was what the baby needed to survive.

A true friend gives you what you need, not what you want. C. S. Lewis said, "We are bidden to ‘put on Christ,’ to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want."

It's a real gift to find a friend who understands this concept and is willing to laugh at you and shake you up a little bit when you need it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blame the Weather

By Christine Thackeray

When I was young, my grandmother often stayed with us. Some mornings she would get up stiffly and say she knew it was going to rain because her knees were talking to her. I wasn't quite sure what she meant until years later when genetics had finally done its work. Now I know what she is talking about. When there is a significant pressure change, my knees swell up like basketballs. After talking to a variety of specialists the best thing I can do, if I like my liver and kidneys, is just put up with it until the next day when they are pretty much back to normal.

This internal barometer has taught me something. For people who are neurologically sensitive either due to genetics or injury, their brains act like my knees. On days where my knees swell, I'll often call friends who struggle with depression or mania and find they are whacked out, feeling either exhausted or extremely moody that day.

Interestingly, it even has a name "Barometric Depression Syndrome." Not much research has been done on this problem but I can tell you first hand that it exists because I've seen it. The last week in Portland it has gone from sunshine to hail to snow and back to 60 degree weather in a single afternoon. It's so bad I can barely walk up the stairs. I've got one friend who is struggling with migraines, another who came over yesterday in tears and a third who can't get out of bed. I keep telling them not to personalize it- it isn't their fault. Blame it on all these freak storms.

In 1979 a group of "brain-dead" scientists did a study of 72 people with severe headaches in the Boston area to see if their headaches were affected by the weather. Based on this single, poorly conceived study there are a group of medical professionals who will tell you that you are crazy if you see this correlation. The huge holes in this study are that Boston is not an area really well known for severe pressure changes- try Texas or Kansas right before a twister and see how you feel. Secondly, if your population is chosen from people who already have severe headaches on a regular basis, they have a different trigger. Finally, there is far more evidence to support the truth. One medical site states that the most common type of headache is due to pressure changes in the weather. If you do a google search you'll find dozens of people who discuss this very topic. Fibromyalgia is also proven to be triggered by barometric shifts. There is even some evidence that SAD (seasonal affected disorder) may be linked to barometric pressure changes. So the next time you wake up feeling off, remember it may not be you at all. It is probably just the weather.