What Goes Around

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on her face, she looked worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you.

He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire, but he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.”

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote, “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there, too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard….

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”

~Author Unknown~

Weight Loss By Observation

Today I bring you a really helpful post by Cory Trusty from Aquarian Bath, who discusses ways to help track your calorie intake so you can manage your weight. Welcome Cory and thank you for this very insightful post.

After I had my first baby it was easy to get back into shape. It was an uncomplicated pregnancy. I was eight years younger, biked everywhere during that time and didn’t have any spare money for extra fattening treats. With my second pregnancy I was not in as good shape initially, and I also had problems with the pregnancy that made it necessary to be on extended bed rest. The result has been that I had a lot of excess weight to lose after my second pregnancy. I leveled off at a weight that I wasn’t comfortable with, and I couldn’t seem to make much progress even though I was dancing, running and biking on and off.  After a lot of frustration, I have finally started making progress in what I feel is a healthy sustainable way. I’m really excited about it, and I wanted to share what I have been doing because it is nothing very drastic. It is mostly just observation that has helped me make more informed food choices, but it seems as they say that observation really does change what you are observing. In this case the changes are very positive.

I have been losing weight by tracking my calories, activity level and weight at the Live Strong website. This has been a low stress and informative process. Live Strong has a calorie counter called “My Plate.” You can enter in your weight, activity level, height and age, and it calculates the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, or gain or lose a certain number of pounds per week. You can enter in the calories of foods you prepare at home or from many restaurant chains. I was hesitant before starting Live Strong again (I did use it once briefly after weaning my first daughter) because I didn’t like the idea of not knowing exactly how many calories I was eating when it came to foods I had not prepared myself. I also didn’t like the idea of not knowing how to factor in calories that I was losing by nursing my toddler. In the end I just decided to estimate calories if I am not sure about a meal, and any calories I am losing by nursing my toddler are just a hidden bonus in the weight loss. If you are the type of person who wants to record everything precisely, then I think you should give it a try anyway. After a while you will be able to estimate calories pretty well, or you can use estimates pre-programmed into “My Plate.”  Estimates will still give you useful information. It does take a lot of dedication and attention to record calorie intake, but if you are a person with compulsive eating habits, tracking your calories is a positive way to redirect that type energy as long as you don’t take it to extremes. Also you don’t have to record everything 100 percent perfectly, although the more information you have the better. 

My weight has gone up and down periodically, but I have lost weight consistently despite having gone over my calorie goal on a few days and skipped tracking a couple of days.   Besides tracking calorie intake you can also track the number of calories burned during various activities like running, gardening, stretching, yoga, hula hooping or swimming. You can also track your water intake. One excellent tool at Live Strong is a graph that shows your calorie intake plotted alongside your weight gains and losses.

Observing tracking results has been extremely helpful for determining correlations with eating habits and weight gain or loss. You might start noticing some interesting patterns that will help you understand your body and meet your weight goals even if you just have “maintain your current weight” as a goal. That is what I did at first, and then I switched my goal to “lose one pound a week,” then “lose one and a half pounds a week.”  Now I am back to having it set at losing one pound a week, because that is an easy goal to maintain. 

These are some of the patterns that I have identified that have helped me make good decisions on a daily basis to meet my weight goals. First, I noticed a correlation between stomach upset on days when my calorie goals were far exceeded. I think humans like me are very strange animals to need to enter their foods into a database to figure this out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who could benefit by observing and recording. I also noticed some surprising results. On a day when I am expending tremendous mental energy but am otherwise sedentary, for example concentrating on learning new information or focusing on digital details and deadlines, I can eat far over my calorie goals and still lose weight. Certain habits were noticeably detrimental. For example, I can eat well under my calorie goal for the day, but if one of the foods I have eaten is pizza, then I gain weight anyway. Now that I know eating pizza will cause me to gain two pounds that are difficult to lose over a period of three days, it is very easy for me to avoid. Late night snacks also throw me off from my progress similar to pizza. Happily, occasional sweets and wine or beer do not effect me radically like pizza. 

I also found some helpful trends. I read an article on Live Strong about eating eggs for weight loss. I was skeptical, but I did notice on days after I ate eggs, my weight also went down. On days that I drink enough water I also don’t feel the need to eat as much food. I also have noticed three-day eating cycles: for two days in a row I eat a relatively low level of calories, then on day three I tend to go way over my calorie goals. Interestingly I tend to lose weight after this cycle (day four) if my calorie consumption was relatively low on days one and two. This is something I would have never noticed without seeing my calories and weight plotted together in a graph. It’s great to be able to recognize this pattern and experiment working with it along side my exercise activities. These are just the patterns I have observed in the last month and a half. 

If you have been stuck at a certain weight and want to gain or lose, I hope you will give it a try and have good luck with it. I’m sure everyone will notice different patterns with their bodies and how they react to different foods and eating patterns. If you try it I would love to know how it goes for you. Come back and leave a comment if you do. Since May 24 I have lost eight pounds. I am taking it slow and easy. It’s not dramatic, but that is kind of the point. I’m happy with slow and steady results, because this is not a diet, it is a sustainable life style change in progress.

I also want to give a shout out to Michala of Spell Bound Hoops in Gainesville, Fla. After starting this tracking process I wanted to add a fun fitness activity as a part of my life style. Michala makes awesome heavy hula hoops for fitness, and you can have them customized with different colors. Mine is three colors with holographic black, white and black, but I love the look of these rainbow color hoops, too. I got one for me and liked it so much that I got a second one for my eight-year-old daughter, Moira, right away. 

About Cory Trusty

Cory Trusty is an herbalist, soap maker and gardener in central Florida. She studied Biology at the University of Washington as an undergraduate, then studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in a Masters Program for two years, but her school closed before Cory could complete it. She moved to Atlanta for a short time, met her husband and moved to his home town in Daytona Beach. They have two girls. Cory gave birth at home with just her husband, no midwife, there both times. The second time she was pregnant, there were a lot of problems, but she got through it with herbs and being careful. She never had a midwife or doctor the second time she was pregnant. Since Cory did not finish her herb program, and the economy is not so good in Daytona for biologists, she started to make herbal products for a business. Soaps and things became an easier way for her to have a successful business because it has a broader appeal. She still likes to use her training and love for herbs to do what she can to make therapeutic products. Check out some of her items to see what she means:

You can find Cory’s all-natural bath and body products at Aquarian Bath. You can also connect with her on Blogspot, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and OzoShare.

Hold the Presses

Hi guys!! Me again. I just wanted to update you on the progress of my first book. I’ve decided to put my life story on hold until further notice. I just don’t have time with work and everything else going on in my life right now (family, sleep, eating, sleep, driving an hour each way to work, oh, and did I mention sleep?).

The past few days I’ve had a brand new idea for a fiction book, loosely based on my relationship with my grandfather. The book will follow a young Native American warrior who has spina bifida and his aging grandfather, who is the chief of their tribe. The grandfather has always looked after his grandson like he’s one of his own children, often taking him fishing, hunting or making sure he has something to eat whenever he visits their land. As time goes by and the young warrior grows up, he slowly fades from his grandfather’s life, just as the warrior’s own father faded from his life, often to feed his need for tobacco and alcohol.

One day while the younger Indian is out hunting and fishing so his family has something to eat for the winter, he feels a mysterious presence with him, almost telling him to go see his grandfather. When he arrives, he realizes that his grandfather has contracted smallpox and scarlet fever. As he is making his way back to the reservation, the warrior can’t help but feel guilty for not going to see his grandfather more often and being there for him when he really needed him. Will he arrive at the reservation in time to save his grandfather’s life? Or will he get there just in time to say his final goodbyes and pay his last respects to the one man in his life who actually treated him like his own son?

Time will tell.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Well, today is my 30th birthday, and trust me it’s catching up with me… I can tell I’m getting older in a few ways. For example, now I am in the bathroom practically every hour (thanks to spina bifida and lack of bladder control), my bones pop every time I get out of bed or transfer to or from my wheelchair, and I’ve got about five bottles of vitamins and supplements on my dresser to help get my iron levels back where they should be.

One of the things I LOVE about my life is the amount of friends I’ve made and the relationships I’ve created over the years, especially working with the city of Marietta, Ga. My supervisor treated me to lunch at Chick-Fil-A today, and he kept ragging me about getting all the girls to sing to me (thank goodness they didn’t, or I’d have turned as red as the ketchup). Anyway, while we were eating the general manager, Rachel, brought me one of their new sundaes, and my supervisor even snapped our picture together. I love my life!!! 🙂

Stay tuned, if my 20s were any indication, my 30s are going to ROCK!!!

Re-post: Lonely Valentine

Well, another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and your’s truly is still sadly single. But that’s okay, I’ve got the greatest, most amazing friends in the world and a loving family who is always in my heart. I hope you enjoy this poem I wrote last year. Happy Valentine’s Day, wherever you are.

Lonely Valentine

See that blonde over by the bar
Staring at me from afar
Sitting alone in the corner
Does she know how much I adore her?

Eating fries and chicken fingers
The image of her still lingers
Every time she smiles, she’s so hot
How long I’ve been here, I totally forgot

Does she know I exist?
To ask would be a big risk
Happy hour’s over
My courage sinking lower

Over by the jukebox stands her man
My poor heart’s broken again

Body Image

For the longest time, I was captured inside a body I hated. I thought I was ugly, fat, not tall enough and, therefore, completely unlovable. I was convinced that most of the horrible things that were happening to me had to do with my appearance.

I desperately longed for a different body. I thought my life would turn around completely once I was leaner, had longer legs and was as thin as a piece of paper. 

When I had my first thoughts of dieting at the age of 10, I knew that this was the only way I could make others love me. I knew that it was the only way I could tolerate living.

And at the beginning, my prediction seemed to become a reality. When I lost a few pounds, I received one compliment after the other from teachers, my parents, grandparents and friends. Life seemed a bit better, and I felt like I had accomplished something good.

But the way I saw myself did not change. I still always felt too fat, and all the bad things around me did not stop either. So, I continued to restrict what I was eating, and I intensified my workouts always hoping that my world would be brighter once I reached a new goal.

Unsurprisingly, this was not the case.

During the next 14 years, I would completely disconnect from myself and my body. I would be entangled in anorexia nervosa, hating my body more than ever before.

I’d stand in front of the mirror looking like a skeleton and still only see fat and failure. All I wanted was to eradicate the last inch of fat in order to be happy and fill the hollowness inside.

When I finally committed to recovery, I was terrified of having to gain weight. If I could not love my body when it was hardly there, how could I love my body when I was heavier?

In the first few months, I struggled a lot with these thoughts. I thought I could not live without being skinnier than a model. I thought I had no right living and looking healthy. I believed everybody would judge me for having eaten and instantly think of me as inferior.

As the months went by and I gained pound after pound, I went through many phases of despising myself. I was even more self-conscious than ever before, put on big shirts and pants in order to hide the weight gain. I shed way too many tears and probably strained my husband’s patience during this time of transition.

When I reached a healthy weight, I had to get used to not only a completely new body, but also a completely new me. The face I saw in the mirror was not the gaunt one I had seen for most of my life. The body I looked at was not the one of a girl anymore. I had curves now and was not as flat as a child anymore. I hardly knew the person in that reflection and had a few moments of crisis whenever I saw a picture of the new me. I felt unworthy and undeserving of living a rich and fun life in this body that I could not accept as my own.

Intimacy with my husband decreased drastically. One some days, I could not even let him take my hand or touch my back. I just did not want to feel my new reality. This, of course, let to many arguments and moments of huge fights.

I was at a loss and had no idea what to do. I did not want to relapse, but I also refused to keep on living this way.

I had to make a choice. Would I continue to weigh myself down or would I try something new and drastically improve my life?

I decided to challenge myself, and changed my thoughts and my habits. Instead of looking in the mirror and judging myself, I focused on a body part that I liked. Instead of comparing myself with others, which is one of the worst things a person can do, I focused on myself. I started to say positive messages to my body. I stopped standing in front of the mirror over and over again checking my belly and thighs.

I gave myself the permission to grow into the natural shape that I was supposed to be.

The transformation that has taken place since that day is unbelievable. I am not exaggerating that by simply altering the way I look at myself, I completely changed my life. I can walk taller. I dare to voice my opinion with more confidence than ever before. I feel free. I can look on the bright side much more often than I used to. I can laugh again. I can enjoy being intimate with my husband again without worrying about imaginary flaws, and I fell in love with myself again.

I have become so convinced that we are the only ones who stand in our way of a healthy body image and a love for ourselves that I created The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Body Image. In this guide, I explain exactly what I did to transform my body image, and I motivate you to do the same in video form, work books and audio files.

I would like to stress that I did not lose a single pound, nor did I try to.

All I did was redefine what beauty means to me. I allowed myself to think that I am beautiful now, exactly the way I look today. Nobody has the right to tell me otherwise. Not even I.

I want every single person in this world to experience the joy of living in and with a body that we not only accept, but also love. Everybody can do it, and it is easier than you think.

I would never have imagined that I would have the audacity to say that I love my body the way that it is today. The fact that I am doing it should you give tons of hope that you will soon be able to do it too!

About Anne – Sophie Reinhardt

Anne – Sophie Reinhardt is a world traveler, anorexia survivor, podcaster, blogger, digital entrepreneur, speaker, wife, lover of books, and aspiring yogi and social media enthusiast. Her blogs My Intercontinental Life and Fighting Anorexia are focused on everybody who wants to live a purposeful, free, healthy and passionate life.

Related articles

Sustainable Education Initiative: February Update

Well, we have made it through our first month of our journey relatively unscathed. Still a long way to go to become totally sustainable. This month’s accomplishments include switching over to home laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and our baked goods. Stuff we have done before but had gotten back into the lazy cycle of just buying it from the store.

We have also completed our new strawberry planters, recycled deck staircases. We have also begun building new garden boxes so that we can create our new raised beds. Strawberries are on order, sharing the cost with a friend. We have ordered the ever popular Ozark beauties, a large sweet everbearing berry. Everbearing means that we can harvest them 2-3 times per year.

We are gathering our seeds saved from last year and ordering new ones from BBBseeds, Territorial Seeds and a few other well known heirloom seed companies. Hopefully we will be able to get some old water oaks and pine trees removed from various places around the property to open for more sunlight and the addition of fruit trees. Along the road frontage we will be planting roses and blueberries. This will be a beautiful sight to see as pull into the driveway. If all goes well, blooms and berries and beautiful greenery.

February is plastic free month. This is a worthwhile task, however, realistically we are going to work towards lessening our plastic usage or at least repurposing more of it. We are creating plarn (plastic yarn) from shopping bags and then turning them into sturdy reusable shopping bags and anything else we can think of to crochet. Milk jugs and plastic 2L bottles will become mini greenhouses just right for starting seeds. Just small steps to lessen our impact and create a little income, the shopping bags will be available on our store website by the end of February.

We have also opened a CafePress.com store to help support the Sustainable Education Initiative.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support!

Light, Love and Peace

Tammy Curry

About Tammy Curry

I have been described as driven, artsy, genuine and earthy. I am the modern granola girl. My name is Tammy Curry, and I live on the outskirts of a quiet little town in South Carolina. This is not my native state, but if you drink the water long enough, it changes your DNA, and you become a Carolina girl. This is easiest when you have lived in both of the Carolinas.

You will find me talking passionately about my family and my life. It has taken a long time for me to figure out who I am and what my purpose is in this life. My purpose is to be an example to my children and to others in my community (physical and virtual communities) on how to happily live simply and sustainably. Together with my husband and children, we are creating a sustainable suburban homestead. Out of that is growing a movement we have titled the Sustainable Education Initiative. We are going to share via video, blogs and social media our journey to create a better world for our children, your children and other future generations via one small change at a time. Check out my blog, follow me on Twitter and be a fan of the Sustainable Education Initiative on Facebook.

I look forward to sharing our journey with you.

Related articles

Trip of a Lifetime

“I am free. Completely free. I cannot believe it. I did it!” Those were the thoughts running through my mind after I successfully stopped abusing laxatives. I was thrilled, proud, over the moon, but I was also terrified.

And while it was true, I was freer, a part of myself still held on to my eating disorder and my addiction. After all, we shared a close attachment for 14 years.  Although it will take more time to completely let go, the differences between the life with anorexia nervosa and the life in recovery are enormous.

A typical day, a year ago, was dictated by the voice in my head. I had to follow orders or disaster would arise. Today, I am the only one doing the talking and the acting. A year ago, my life was a sea of hopeless desperation. I was carrying around feelings of absolute failure. I was constantly counting calories and agonized over the impending daily workouts.

Today, I am full of energy and enthusiasm. I can focus all of my attention on being creative, and I don’t completely obsess over food anymore. I spend my days having fun and enjoying what I am doing and, with that, I am experiencing a level of freedom I have never known before. And on top of that, I have grown as a human being in ways I could have never imagined. I began to love myself for the very first time. I acknowledged my weaknesses and embraced my flaws. But I also regained trust in my many abilities. Today, life is exciting, and the future looks amazing and full of opportunities.

Achieving this stage was not easy. In fact, it was more difficult than maintaining my eating disorder for so many years. However, it was one of the most rewarding processes of my life. With each day, I grew and transformed a bit more, and I learned many invaluable things about myself. I formed a relationship with myself, instead of deepening the one I had with my eating disorder. I learned that it is OK to concentrate on myself from time to time and that it is important to take care of myself and my body.

A body that looks so different now than it did a year ago. A body that finally looks like a women’s body instead of a child’s. At first, it was not easy coming to terms with the fact that I had to gain weight, and I needed a few months to adjust to my new body. But over time, I accepted it and even began to love my curves. I am a woman now, so why can’t my body show that? It has been more than a year now since I initially committed to recovery, and sometimes I cannot believe how far I have come. However, since I am a human being, I sometimes slip and fall, and so setbacks are inevitable. A recent world trip was a reminder that my base is still a bit fragile.

My husband and I recently went on a trip to Australia and Bali. It was a chance of a lifetime, and I was beyond excited to travel to places I had always dreamed of.

I have always loved to travel. It was one of my earliest passions. My parents made sure that we would see the world from an early age on. We would travel around Europe when I was little, seeing France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany (of course), Spain and so many more countries. Even during those early trips, the scale was always with me. I couldn’t leave it at home. I had to be in control. This created many arguments with my parents, many tears were shed because I had gained weight, many vacations were ruined.

When I was 13 years old, my father arranged for me to be able to stay at a friend’s house in Chicago. This was the first time that I would travel to the U.S., and I was traveling alone. I enjoyed myself a lot, but the voice in my head was constantly berating me for eating too much, for gaining too much weight and for not deserving to have fun.

I would travel around the world even when my illness was the worst. I would enjoy myself and be excited about exploring new places, but I was never truly free.

When I traveled to L.A. last November, everything was different. I did not fear going out to dinner with my friends. I did not feel guilty over drinking a mocha. I was able to just be in the moment. So, I thought that I was ready to go on a longer trip.

The first few days at the other end of the world were fabulous. Arriving in Sydney after being in the air for almost 24 hours was amazing. Being able to walk around in shirts in late November was a welcome change. We settled in fairly quickly, met friends, did some sightseeing and enjoyed each other’s company. I ate regularly, not even feeling overwhelmed by having to choose from a menu.

However, after flying to Melbourne for a couple of days, I started restricting again, dark thoughts arose of not being allowed to eat breakfast or lunch. Then I would binge at dinner. This vicious circle accompanied me during the rest of the trip. I felt bad again, cried often, feeling trapped in my own body again. My thoughts were torturing me. I tried to be brave and not ruin everything for my husband. We were able to have many wonderful moments, and we saw so many incredible sights (the Sydney Opera being one of them), but my dark passenger was always there.

In Bali, I was constantly going back and forth between wanting to eat and wanting to stop. I wanted to enjoy the special delicatessen of Bali, wanted to try to delicious cakes they served during high tea every afternoon. But could I deal with gaining weight? Would I lose control? I decided to try it. It was a chance I would not have again for a while, so I had to use it.

It wasn’t easy. I was restless, hardly able to appreciate the beauty around us. I felt discouraged, wishing I could be totally free. But I pushed through these feelings and tried to make the best of the situation.

We saw a lot of the island, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. My husband and I both fell in love with the people and the peaceful spirit of this little island.

Am I sad that I couldn’t totally let go? Yes. Would I change anything about the trip? Yes. I would not go away from home for such a long time this early on in recovery. I would prepare myself better, would make meal plans and detailed coping plans. However, I am beyond grateful for having learned another lesson, and I am sure that I will be able to implement many of the things I learned on future vacations.

Life is a journey and so is recovery. Learning lessons is part of the deal. Some are larger, some are smaller, but they are all important. The way to health is not always fun, and I have taken many detours, but overall, I am proud of where I am today, and I am excited for the next part of this trip.

About Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a blogger, podcaster and digital entrepreneur.  After struggling from Anorexia Nervosa for 14 years, she recovered and is now helping others who are trying to do the same. If you would like to engage with Anne-Sophie beyond her blog, she offers 1:1 consulting! Just send her an e-mail.

Stroke’s New Indicator

I’ve had several surgeries and spent a LOT of time in the hospital during my life because of my spina bifida, and in 1994 after I got back home after back surgery, I had a stroke. I don’t really remember much that happened, just what my parents have told me about the stroke. They said I called my aunt, who was staying with us at the time to help mom and dad take care of me, to come help me get a drink of water in the middle of the night. They said when they came to check on me the next morning, my teeth were clenched, and I was staring straight up at the ceiling with my eyes wide open. My parents called 9-1-1, and an ambulance came and took me to Egleston Hospital, now Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, about an hour away. Because of my disability, the paramedics carried me to Atlanta in an ambulance that was a lot bigger and was basically an emergency room on wheels. I don’t remember anything about that night, the ride down or the next few days afterward, but my dad told me the other day that a guy he worked with back then was driving north on Interstate 75 and saw an ambulance headed south hauling ass. Apparently he passed the ambulance I was riding in while I was fighting for my life.

I’ve fully recovered from the stroke, but it left me partially paralyzed on the left side of my body. My left eye stays closed a little more than my right eye, but it’s such a small difference my friends and family can’t tell a difference. They just see a guy who’s overcome so much during my life, who has achieved some of my biggest dreams and goals, and never takes anything for granted because you never know when today might be the last day of our lives.

I hadn’t really researched strokes or given much thought to mine until I received this from a co-worker a couple weeks ago. This really makes you think and now I’ll know what signs to look for if a loved one or co-worker is having a stroke. I hope you’ll take the time to read this and never take anything for granted. The next person who has a stroke could be someone you work with, your husband, wife, brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter. It could even be YOU.

I never realized you could tell if someone is having a stroke by the appearance of blood clots. Now they have a fourth indicator: the tongue. 

Stroke: Remember the first three letters: S, T and R

How to identify a stroke

During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and fell – she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics). She said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane enjoyed herself the rest of the evening.

Jane’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital – (Jane passed away at 6 p.m.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

Take a minute, read this

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within three hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was recognizing a stroke, diagnosing a stroke and getting the patient medical attention within three hours, which is tough.

Recognizing a stroke

Thank God for the sense to remember the three steps: S.T.R.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S: Ask the individual to smile.

T: Ask the person to talk and say a simple sentence, coherently (i.e. It is sunny out today.).

R: Ask him or her to raise both arms.

If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New sign of a stroke: stick out your tongue

Note: Another “sign” of a stroke is to ask the person to stick out his/her tongue. If the tongue is “crooked,” if it goes to one side or the other, it is also an indication of a stroke.

Editor’s note: The next time a friend or family member sticks their tongue out at you, they may not be doing it as a joke. There maybe something much more serious happening. Get informed, save a life!!!

Author’s Roundtable: Carolyn Arnold

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing faithfully for the past four and half years. As a teenager I used to write romance novellas, and insisted family and friends read everything. When they wouldn’t read it, I’d read it to them. You could say I was persistent.

However, writing disappeared from my life for approximately 13 years. Life changed significantly during this time. I did a lot of growing up, got married and moved three hours across the country. During this time, I always thought it would have been quite an accomplishment to complete a full-length novel, but it was nothing more than a thought.

Everything changed for me four and half years ago. Things weren’t going well at the day job; in fact, the entire department faced a layoff. Needless to say, none of us were very motivated. A co-worker emailed me towards the end of one work day and said “tell me a story”—randomly, out of the blue. Writing wasn’t something I ever talked about during these years. Regardless, I complied, typed up a few paragraphs and fired them back to her. She loved them and requested more. I kept writing and sending back the emails expanding on the storyline pulling from nothing but imagination. She told me that I needed to finish this. It turned out that’s all the encouragement I needed. This became the birthing point for my first full-length novel, “Life Sentence,” a romantic suspense.

What books or stories have you written?

To date, I have completed seven full-length novels. Most of these belong in the mystery, thriller and suspense genres, with the exception of my first book. I have published three novels—two police procedurals and one thriller—at the point of this interview.

My police procedurals, “Ties That Bind” and “Justified,” which surround major crimes detective Madison Knight have proven to be best-sellers for Amazon Kindle. For this I am extremely thankful to my readers.

I was also honored to find out my thriller, “Eleven,” was noted as a special recommendation read on the Miami Books Examiner’s “Top 12 Fiction Books of 2011” list.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Growing a thicker skin and not letting what one person’s opinion is to become the majority. It’s very important for an author to tune out the inherent internal critic. For authors attempting to get published the traditional way, most will find rejections are more abundant than requests for additional material. An author determined to get their work in the hands of their readers will not let anything deter them from doing so. Remember above when I mentioned I’d read my work to those who wouldn’t take the time to read it themselves? Above all else, an author needs to be persistent.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Be true to yourself and your work. Make yourself write on the days you don’t even feel like it. Sometimes those moments, where you push yourself, can prove be the most productive.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Most definitely. Writing is, if nothing else, therapeutic. It allows one to release the daily stress and cares from their thinking process because they become preoccupied with something else. Writing gives an author an outlet to deal with emotions they may be experiencing in real life. Writing has a way of making an author make sense of happenings around them. Let me explain.

In life, people do things to us or others we may not understand, however, by analyzing the behavior—the motivators—we’re able to align perspective. In my opinion writing helps authors become empathic of others. As authors we have to see things from every standpoint, and this cannot help but transfer to real life.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

This question is excellent and expands on what I touched on in my answer to the previous question. As noted, writing is therapeutic. If an author utilizes personal experiences and tragedies, this serves to enrich their work. The characters become relatable, and the situations become believable. 

As for the personal application of this question, I would say writing helps take me from stress I experience in my daily life. Unfortunately, my relationship is strained with the majority of my family at this point in time. It’s heartbreaking but there really doesn’t seem to be any resolution. Writing affords me the means of “escape” into a world of my creation.  When I finish a writing session, I am able to better deal with my real-life situation.

Keep up with Carolyn

The busy life of Carolyn Arnold

Currently she works full-time in Accounts Receivable for a mid-sized company in southwestern Ontario. She balances her “free time” by marketing her books, social networking, writing, editing, and reading and supporting her fellow authors. Carolyn also is the founder of Celebrating Authors, a site dedicated to bringing readers and authors together. She showcases authors through interviews, Amazon snapshots and a weekly feature called “The Independent Voice.” Needless to say this type of support takes up much of her time, but she believes in helping her fellow authors.

Also married nearly 16 years to her best friend, she enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and a good movie. Although not a mother to the human variety she is a “furry baby momma” to two beagles—Max and Chelsea.

Her goals moving forward are to continue bringing quality books to her readers. At least two more of her novels will be released in 2012.