Vitamix: Natural Facial Mask

I have this extreme love for my Vitamix Professional series 750. I know that seems strange to some. I do love it more than any other appliance in my house. In fact, it is the most used (and some days the only used) appliance in my house. The recipes that can be created with the Vitamix are endless. You can make smoothies, frozen desserts, confection sugar. It can make HOT soup. Yes, that is right! HOT soup! Anyone that knows my affinity for soup will understand my excitement that comes with this feature. It can also clean itself! How many appliances do you have that can clean itself? I will get more into how that happens later on.

Before I get into the review of this recipe, you should probably have a little back story! It starts with how I have battled rosacea for many years now. This is partly my fault. I never really take good care of my skin; face or otherwise. I am always the one to go out in the sun without sunscreen. I never drink enough water…EVER! In fact, I get up just in time to throw some water on my face, brush my teeth, and run out the door for work with a cup of coffee in hand…by this time I am usually at the point where there is no way I am going to make it on time. The other half of this story is that I also battle hypothyroidism. That alone can leave your skin dry, often cracked, and flaky. I refer to this as “dandruff of the face”! Disgusting, isn’t it?

I was searching for some new recipes to try and found this recipe by Vitamix.  The website states, “with banana, plain yogurt and avocado, this all-natural facial mask will tighten pores and firm skin”. It consisted of three ingredients: 1 banana, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and 1 avocado. I broke the banana in half and put it in first. I added the plain yogurt. Finally, I cut the avocado in half. Set the seed to the side and took the avocado out of the peeling. I put this in the blender. The recipe indicates to blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is met. I found that I had to do this several times to get the smoothness that I wanted. I must give a warning that this recipe makes about one pint of product.

Now that all the blending is done; it is time to lather it on my face. I put a good lather on and let it set until it was completely dry. Thank goodness my husband and sons were not home. Can you imagine the comments that I would have received walking around with green goop on my face? Being comic book junkies, I would probably have been deemed the female version on the “Hulk”. Because I lathered it on thicker in some areas, it took a little while try. I recommend staring with a thin layer if you are short on time. Luckily for me the weather was not conducive to being outside so I was stuck cleaning my bedroom. Otherwise, I would not have taken this much time to let it dry. I’m just being honest! I hate being indoors. It is a waste of a perfect day to enjoy what God created for us.

Anyways, the facial has dried and it is time to removed. I must add that I could really feel the mask pull and tighten on my face. It was an odd but pleasant feeling. In the removal process, I decided to use an loofah type washcloth. I used this because my skin was extremely dry and needed to release some of the dead skin. It had an exfoliating effect. I only dampened the cloth, used the rough side to remove the mask. I felt a difference right away. My skin felt really soft. I then took the cloth side and finished removing the leftover product. I was amazed at how my skin felt on just one application. Later on, at bedtime, I felt some of the dryness return.

Now, I do not take one application as an indicator of its powers. I like to try products several times before throwing in the towel. I have used this product three times and each time my face feels better. I still have the blotchy redness created by the rosacea so I am looking for something that will help in that area. I can not put the fault of that on this product as it is designed to tighten and firm the skin. I tried this for the dryness because I felt the avocado would provide the moisturizing affect I was looking for.

A few things I think the recipe card should have provided:

1. It should indicate approximately how much the recipes makes. The amount I made out of this recipe would last me months. Unfortunately, it will not last in the refrigerator that long.

2. Speaking of refrigeration time. How long does it last in the refrigerator? I put it in a pint mason jar and used my FoodSaver to vacuum as much of the air out possible. I hope this helps it to last a little longer.

3. List other uses for the product. This is essentially food that can be used as a facial cleaner. Can I use the left overs in food products? For example, in oatmeal, adding some granola, etc. By the way, I made sure to set aside the portion I was using for my face so as not to contaminate the rest of the product with skin cells of sorts.

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe and what results you achieved from it. Share some of your favorite recipes and I will give them a try as well.

Happy blending,

D.

June – Mandatory Family Fun Day

The day started with a deep conversation with a dear friend. Her struggles really hit my heart.  I wish there was something I could do to help her through this season of trials in her life. She is by far my greatest friend. She was there for me when I had absolutely no one else. She nurtured me through my own family struggles as a teenager. I watched her and her family. The bond they had made me envious. I wanted the same bond with a family that I knew I would never have. Her family showed me that it was possible to have a close family relationship. Her example is what helped me develop the bond with my own sons. I love her with all my heart and will be forever grateful of the example of a friend that she has been to me. Still, I am lost…I don’t know how I can help her. She now struggles with family relationships, heart disease, and issues I am unfamiliar with. How can I help her?!

After our talk this morning, my own family hit the road to Richmond, Virginia where we spent the day whitewater rafting with Karen and her family. Is it strange that I feel guilty for this trip after my previous conversation? I had to make a mandatory fun day because if I did not, I would not have been able to spend time with my sons. Their plan was to sit around the house and play video games all weekend.

The traffic was horrendous on the way there. Stop and go…for absolutely no reason. It seemed as if we were never going to make it there. There is nothing worse than sitting in a car with Wes driving and his frustration is at its peak. I knew I should have drove. At least then I could pull over and empty my bladder without listening to complaints and comments. Instead, I just sat quite, waiting until I couldn’t hold it any longer. Fortunately, he had to go before I ever said anything.

We arrive to the site a little early so we meet Karen and her crew at McDonald’s because it was literally right across the street from Riverside Outfitters. Not having much to eat before we got on the road, I wasn’t going to complain. It is not my choice of a good lunch but beggars can’t be choosy.

We finally reached the time to check-in and get our briefing. I am so excited by this point. I just knew it was going to be a great day on the water. I was looking forward to having something exciting and different to do. The day proved to be just that!

It was an awesome ride. We rode the Level I and II rapids because we had a very small 11 year old with us. We had a quick dip in the river and threw water balls at each other. Our tour guide was awesome! I am sure he thought we were a crazy bunch. I had Karen pick up a disposal waterproof camera for me and all the guys laughed at my archaic device. They acted like it came from another dimension. I actually thought it was pretty cool to have a tool blast back from the past. Kids today just don’t know what they are missing out on!

The trip was over and we headed to a restaurant called “Galley“. Unique for anyone that served on a ship of any kind. The food was good. The restrooms had piping for the toilet paper and paper towels. It also helped brace up the stalls. I definitely recommend stopping in there and checking it out.

Luckily, the trip home was pretty uneventful. We took a different route and seemed to be home in no time. I really enjoyed my day on the water and spending time with family and friends! There is nothing more I would rather be doing!

Stay tuned for my next post about Riverside Outfitters. They have a ton. more opportunities for me explore nature and peak my adventure side…whitewater rafting level 5 rapids, mountain climbing, kayaking level 5 rapids….the list goes on!

The Not-So-Scary Ferris Wheel

May’s Challenge…Ride a Ferris Wheel (#301). My husband and I were about to drive through the Downtown tunnel in Norfolk, Virginia when he noticed this huge Ferris Wheel across the way. You know it must be huge for him to see it as he is literally blind in one eye and limited vision in the other.

I looked up the information for the Ferris Wheel. It is operated by SkyStar. It is a nearly 15 stories high; equaling almost 137 feet high. This would peak my fear meter for sure because I can’t even climb onto the roof of my house to remove the growing pine trees from the gutters. I also found out that it is not called a “ferris wheel” rather an “observation wheel”. What is the difference between the two? You tell me. For the sake of my blog, it will be called a Ferris Wheel because that is what I envisioned I would be riding!

I thought this would be the perfect May Challenge. I have never ridden in a Ferris Wheel. All day, I envisioned us on this Ferris Wheel. I was going to ride this huge Ferris Wheel and it was going to be extremely scary.  It was going to go around fast and there was wind and people were screaming.

Okay, so maybe that only happens in the movies! What actually happened?! It was enclosed! What Ferris Wheel is enclosed? How can you get the feel of the wind? Where is the romantic vibe you get when you are with the one you love (or for some, the one you dream of being with)? Maybe that is why it is called an “Observation” Wheel!

There was no wind to provide the fear factor and it was slow…almost to a crawl. Even in the movies there was a little wind. There was cotton candy. There was hand holding and kissing! There was none of that! Well, maybe there would have been some kissing had my 20 year old son not been in the cart with us. I’m sure it would not have been pleasant for him to watch his parents make out.

I think I was most afraid when we were buying the tickets. I did not get that frightening feeling I thought I would have. Although, the price of those tickets was pretty frightening. It was not romantic by any means. It was rather disappointing.

I critiqued my ride to my husband whom laughed at me with a chuckle. I am sure he was thinking that I watch way too many movies. It was evident that he had been on a few Ferris Wheels because he told me they are not designed to go fast and there usually is no wind.

This definitely taught me that not all challenges have to be scary. It opened up a whole other aspect to my Life List Challenge. Now instead of fearing that all my challenges will be frightening…I am open to the prospect that they will be more fun and relaxing without all the fear!

May – A Month of Celebrations

I know I am behind on posting for May. I have come here several times to generate the perfect post. Yet here I am…still lost for words, trying to figure out how to convey my thoughts and experience in just the right tone. Do you ever get writers block? If this is what it feels like, I don’t like it!

There was only one fear challenge accomplished on my Life List this month but that is not what this post is about. I know! I know! That is what this blog is all about right?! Well, we will get back to that but I wanted to touch on something a little more personal and little more important. Family and the ability to share and celebrate their milestones.

First, we had the Tidewater Comicon, which coincidently, coincided with my birthday again this year. It has become tradition now with four years running. Actually, I guess you could say that I started a tradition (#7). That would account for a “Bucket List” item. There were several items I should have completed but didn’t. I could have dressed up in a disguise for the day (#72). I let this one slip off my radar again. Time was not on my side. My fault, indeed, I did not properly plan. I knew it was coming up. I just could not figure out the best costume to wear. If I am being honest, it probably has more to do with me having this aversion to dressing in a costume. I don’t know why but I find it kind of weird and I am really self-conscience and judgmental of myself. I’m not totally against it. I’m just not creative enough to figure out a disguise that would work for me. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear your favorites. Then I can start planning for the next Comicon or maybe even Halloween!

Back to the celebration piece, my husband and three of his friends have a podcast, ManPoints!. The ManPoints! team was accepted by Tidewater Comicon for conducting a live show at their event. This was a huge ordeal as they thought they were banned from the Comicon. Last year, they were almost ejected because other Comicon merchandizers found them to be offensive and did not want to be located next to them. If you want to check your Sally meter you can check them out on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Speaking of birthdays, I was suppose to throw myself a birthday party. Since Tidewater Comicon was on the same day and given that it was Mother’s Day, that would not have worked. But stay tuned…Karen and I are planning to throw ourselves a birthday party. Karen? You remember Karen, right? She is my friend that is supposed to be writing this blog with me. Yeah, she is still caught up with life and its happenings. We won’t hold that against her. She is too good a friend to do that. I love her to death! Anyways, we are choosing a date that meets in the middle of my birthday and her birthday! I found out that she has NEVER had a birthday party. Hers is December 12. I have only had ONE birthday party in my lifetime. My then ex-boyfriend, now husband, threw me a party. Yes, it was one week after I broke up with him. That is tale to be told…to be told at another time. Ok, you pressured me into it! Here’s the tale.

You see, I’d never had a boyfriend. Never really hung out with boys. I didn’t know much about life in general. I was literally raised in a closet. There was an unknown world out there that I was dying to discover. That world accepted me with open arms! I was scared and really didn’t know what it meant to be a girlfriend or how you were suppose to act around boys. I decided to break up with him…because I was scared! He had planned this surprise birthday party in advance and decided to have it anyways. I knew I made a mistake the moment I broke up with him. It didn’t take me long to realize I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I just had to make things right with him! So I asked…in a bathroom while playing a Meatloaf song! How crazy is that?! See, I told you I didn’t know much. Surprisingly, he said yes. I later found out I was the ONLY girl that had broken up with him that he took back. I am one lucky girl! This is a story that has been told several times over the last 25 years and I know it will go down in our history book to be passed on to grandchildren.

Once we got through Tidewater Comicon, my birthday, and Mother’s Day; we moved on to more important celebrations. GRADUATIONS! We traveled to Mississippi for Allyssa’s, my niece, high school graduation. She is an amazing young woman. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch her grow these last 18 years. We have taken her to several comicons with us. She is a blast to hang out with. The weekend was over and we had to travel back home to get in a weeks worth of work. Then we traveled to Texas to Megan’s, my niece, high school graduation. I am so excited to see her graduate. She is such a smart young woman. She was accepted into Baylor University this fall. I know that she will achieve greatness in anything she does. I enjoy spending time with her as well. I just wish she didn’t live so far away.

Allyssa – Graduation
Megan – Graduation

When you marry, you marry into a whole family. I have heard horror stories from others about their experiences with their in-laws. I just cannot relate to those stories. I married into the greatest family. My father-in-law, Mike, treats me as his own daughter. If I need anything, he is only a phone call away. I cannot say enough about my brother-in-law. He has shown me what it is to have a real brother. A brother that you can rely on. One that has his sister’s back; no matter what the issue. He will drop everything to attend to the needs of his family. My sister-in-law, Theresa. Wow! She is amazing! We have the greatest time together. I just wish we lived closer. I love hanging out with her. She just makes me feel so at ease. I can laugh around her and feel no judgement. She is always there to listen to my craziness and is not afraid to put me in my place. She lets me know how it should be. Then there is Rumiko! She is my sister-in-law. She always laughs at my quirkiness. She is so much fun to be around. She teaches my sons a few Japanese words but I could never catch on to what they were. It’s probably a good thing. There is no telling what “bad” words my sons may be asking her about. I’d love to learn Japanese but I can barely speak English. It would not be right, if I did not include my mother-in-law in this post. Debbie, has taught me so much. Every time we get together, she teaches me something new. She taught me how to sew curtains for my kitchen windows. This past visit, she taught me how to make a really quick and simple soup and potato salad. There has been countless things that I have learned from her. She is like an encyclopedia full of knowledge waiting for someone to open the cover! Lastly, there is Wes’ mother. She passed away many years ago. She showed me that it was possible to love unconditionally. Her interactions with her family told so many tales. She once asked me how my visit was going. I told her that I had learned a lot. She asked me what things. I told her that she showed me “what love really is.” I guess you could say, there really is no “in-law” at the end of our names. We are just one big family, with everyday peoples dilemmas, standing ready to help where needed.

You could say that May was not a total wash on my Life List because spending time with family will always be number one. I didn’t have much family around when I was growing up, therefore, I never take those opportunities for granted. Family is my everything!

“Family is just accident…. They don’t mean to get on your nerves. They don’t even mean to be your family, they just are.”

Marsha Norman

August

Everyday Courage

“Courage is the ability to do things that feel difficult, scary, or uncertain.

It isn’t reserved for just a chosen few.

Courage is a birthright. It’s inside all of us.

And waiting for you to discover it.

One moment of courage can change your day.

One day can change your life. And one life can change the world.

That’s the true power of courage; it reveals you.

The greatest version of you.

Discover your courage and you will be capable of accomplishing and experiencing anything you dream about.

Yes, even changing the world.”

~The 5 Second Rule; Mel Robbins

Failed attempts but still trying

April was a hard month to endure! After the passing of Mr. Bascums, it seemed so hard to get back on track and in the swing of things. I had several failed attempts at achieving goals on my Life List. The first. Triathlon. Amidst all the chaos, I missed a swim lesson and then my instructor was out for a week due to a school field trip. Once she returned, she discovered the pool was closed for a few weeks for maintenance. This put a huge damper on my Triathlon training. I was already feeling that I had put too much stress on myself to try and compete in this after only seven weeks of training. After all, I was starting from scratch as an athlete swimmer. I have no idea what I was thinking. I decided in the end to defer the triathlon until I was more comfortable in the water.

“You can only control what you can control. I had to remember that, and once I got back in the race, I was able to regain focus and finish strong.”~Gwen Jorgensen

You know, I almost drowned as a child. It was a gorgeous day out. My parents decided to take us to a nearby lake. I always enjoyed going there. There were few times we actually did things as a family. This was one of them. We had a picnic lunch and mom let us go back into the water. She was standing on the edge of the water. I was watching her the whole time. My dad was high up in a tree, drinking a beer, as he prepares to swing down into the lake. I slightly stepped off the ledge. I bobbing up and down. Each time trying to gain my footing. I couldn’t find the edge of shore. Each time I come up, I see my mom watching me. I don’t think she realized what was going on. I think she thought I was playing. Before I knew it, as I bob up one last time, I see my dad dive down into the water. I go under and feel him swoop me up out of the water. He was so mad that he had to toss that beer into the water but grateful that I was okay. You would have thought that day would have prompted them to teach me to swim…I am still learning!

The second failed attempt was my Tour de Cure 100 mile ride. I just wasn’t feeling myself. You see…I suffer from Anxiety Disease. Yes, it is actually a disease. One that has taken me many years to accept and come to terms with. I tried to tell myself that it was all in my head. There was nothing wrong with me. I had to suck it up and keep on moving. I read a book, Anxiety Disease, by David Sheehan to fully understand that I am not alone. There are many people out there that suffer from the same symptoms as I. I did not want to believe it. I thought it was all in my head. I thought I was making these symptoms, these feelings up. I even called myself a drama queen. What I really wanted was the constant feeling of suffocation to go away. To be relieved of the constant, irrating yawning to disappear. The unbearable lump in my throat to dissipate. I wanted to be able to sleep at night and feel rested when I woke in the morning. I wanted energy; to feel invincible as I did a few years ago. This book helped me, not only to see that there are others out there that suffers as I do, but showed me how the disease could progress into something much worse if I did not take care of the problem. It illustrated a lady that would sit in the hospital for hours at a time just in case her symptoms occurred, one could not leave the chair placed in her room, another would have panic attacks every time she went out to dinner with her boyfriend and his friends. I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted to live. Reluctantly, but now accepting my fate, I called my doctor for an anxiety prescription.

The Anxiety Disease by David V. Sheehan, M.D.

On the day of the ride, I decided I would drop down to the 65 mile ride instead of a the 100. As I am riding, my breathing becomes labored, my chest begins to hurt. I’m starting to have a panic attack; with each pedal stroke leading closer and closer to an onset. I mentally talk myself through the episode. I really just wanted to be alone, to ride my ride in peace. As a Team Portsmouth Team rider, we leave no one behind. Therefore, the ride lead stayed back and talked me through to the first rest area at mile 15. I must mention that I was riding on a flat tire those 15 miles, even after completing the ride checklist the night before. By the time we reached the rest area, I was exhausted. I decided at that point, I would drop to the 35 mile ride. I thought the ride was never going to end. I beat myself up for dropping down two race levels but I knew it was for the best. I think it would have been more embarrassing to have someone have to escort me off the course.

I look at this as a great learning experience; an opportunity for growth. I must admit it was very hard to tell my husband and children that I did not complete the ride as planned. We are a “never quit” family but there are times when we need to consider our health more than I our dedication and promise to others.

I am so thankful to all that donated to this cause. I did not reach my minimal donation goal. In total, it was $315 of the $2500 goal. I believe in part was not having sponsorship connections or proper promotion techniques. There were many lessons learned from this event that can only set me up for success for next years event!

Team Portsmouth Tour de Cure 2018
Dee Butler (L) and Jackie Elliot (R) preparing for the Tour de Cure 2018 65 mile ride.

March – Missed Opportunity, Meeting Celebrities, Autographed books.

Ever have those moments when you wish you could just go back and have a redo? Ever feel like you missed a great opportunity to do something unique and beyond your character? To do something that would even astound your friends because it is a “so unlike you” scenario? Well, I had one of those events recently.

Sometimes the challenges in the Ultimate Bucket List book really do not seem like very much of a challenge, rather it’s something just to do. For instance, donating money to a worthy cause (#87). It’s not hard, nor challenging, to donate to a cause that you are passionate about. However, getting people to help you in your fundraising efforts can be extremely difficult and tedious. Then there is Starting a Blog and Keep it Going for at Least a Year (#37). That doesn’t seem like much of a challenge but finding the perfect words and expressions to keep readers interested is extremely challenging. Then there is the idea of raising chickens (#40), doesn’t seem like a big deal. They are rather easy to care for. For me, it is just fun. I love having chickens around. I have had three sets of chickens to date and each set is unique in their own way. They are filled with character. They are curious creatures. Sometimes, they even want some attention from their human counterpart.

There are some challenges in the book that really put me on edge just thinking about it. Fear of Challenges gives some great examples of that. The most recent example of this came Easter weekend. I spent the weekend in Washington, DC with my husband at AwesomeCon. If you have never been to one and you are into comic books and characters, I highly suggest going to one. It is a whole new experience. You have the opportunity to meet people that you would never imagine! I have been to a few. I have met quite a few celebrities. Some were rather really cool and others were…let’s just say…meh!

We can save all those past adventures for another time. For now, let’s concentrate on AWESOMECON 2018. This was my real opportunity to achieve some of the items on my Life List. There were several opportunities available: Meet a Celebrity (#15), Dressed up in a Disguise for a Day (#72), Get an Autograph of Someone Famous (#68), Kiss a Stranger (#151), and Get a Book Autographed by It’s Author (#266).

I was able to mark No. 15 off my list. I met, at AwesomeCon 2018, Count Gore de Vol, John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Stephen Amell. Count Gore de Vol was the most fascinating character. His birth name is Dick Dyszel but was in true character as The Count. He described some of his adventures as the The Count and how he would sleep in coffins on his breaks. I must say that was a little creepy to me. He explained how the shows operated and some of the people he would encounter.

Count Gore de Vol
Wes meeting Count Gore de Vol

Next up was John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman. Yes, they are brother and sister. You may know him best as Captain Jack Harness from Doctor Who. I know him best as Malcolm Merlyn in Green Arrow. This was actually a three-for-one write off on the Life List. I was able to meet a celebrityget an autograph by someone famous, and get a book autographed by it’s author! John and Carole co-authored several books but I got autographs on “Conjuror” and “Hollow Earth”.  John was extremely funny. His sister was just as funny. Her part was to sell the books written by her and John. I would have loved the opportunity to get to know her better and learn about her experiences with writing. I could have stood and watched how they interacted with crowd all day. They were so intriguing and unique!

The last celebrity I met was Stephen Amell! What do I say?! It was Stephen Amell! He was really down to Earth. I did not bother him with questions of his movies. Instead, I was more interested in his Nocking Point Wine company! Yes wine! I do not even like most wines. Yes, I am lame! All the while I was talking to him, I thought how cool would it be to cross off “Kiss a Stranger” from my Life List with a celebrity. Better yet how cool would it be if that kiss was with Steven Amell! I’m not talking locking lips or anything. I would have been satisfied with a kiss on the cheek. Although, I’m not sure that would have counted…but who cares about technicalities! Yes, I am even more lame for thinking this! I was just too shy and afraid to tell him about my Ultimate Bucket List Challenge. Then I had to consider his wife, too! I did not want to disrespect her in any way! I am sure he would not have gone along with it anyways! Besides, who goes around kissing strangers? This will forever gone done in my history as “Missed Opportunities”! In fact, I think this may be even harder than wearing a snake around my neck!

After I got home and was going over my list of accomplishments and missed opportunities, I realized that I also missed out on dressing up in a disguise for the day! I know there will be many more opportunities for that in the future so I won’t beat myself up too bad over that one!

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

April – Developing Entrepreneurship

I have always wanted to own a business. I wanted to be successful at something and have something to call my own. I have jumped into many opportunities; some without thinking of the long term effect. My first entrepreneurial opportunity was with Beach Body. Then there was Mary Kay. Then Melaluaka. Then Beach Body again. I even tried to sell things on apps like LetGo and Offer Up. I tried eBay. None of those organizations seemed to work for me.

For the most part, I am not a skilled seller. I do not like to haggle for a good deal and certainly do not like to be cheated by people that want good quality products for nothing. Beach Body and Mary Kay required the ability and fortitude to randomly call people to ask if they would be interested in a product. This in no way suits my personality.  I must disclose that I am still currently a Beach Body coach. I like the products they offer. I am just not good at promoting it. I keep my circle small, so to be successful at it, I would have to widen it significantly.

If you don’t build your dream, someone  will hire you to help build theirs.  ~ Tony Gaskin

Apps and websites like LetGo, Offer Up, and eBay require the time to snap pictures, upload to a website, and add descriptions with the hopes that it will entice someone to want to buy them. In the end, you may get $1 for the item you might have asked $15 for. The time spent does not equate to a profit; especially if you are willing to deliver or ship an item.

Maybe, just maybe, I failed at those endeavors because I wasn’t passionate enough about them. I did not promote them. If I am being perfectly honest, I was afraid people would judge me for trying to sell these products. But who am kidding? People are going to judge no matter what!

I had to come up with something that I was passionate about. Something, I could do for fun; something I enjoyed. I had to take the money out of the equation and figure out what I wanted! I took the first step in 2016 and earned my Personal Training Certification. I realized that my passion lies within helping those around me. I wanted to help them realize they could achieve what they felt was the impossible…to live a healthy life, to feel good about who they are, and surpass any challenge put in front of them. My particular Personal Training Certification required me to complete an internship. I was graciously accepted by the YMCA and later became employed as one of their Wellness Coaches. I continue to work there part-time.

My husband retired from the military in April 2017. He is by far better at the fitness world than I am. I love it! I love helping people find new ways of working out that will challenge their strength, agility, and core fitness. But he is a beast! I talked him into getting his personal training certification because I could see the passion in him. I knew it would provide a greater focus for him.

So I am happy to announce my newest business adventure; a true entrepreneurship! 214 Fitness! My husband and I are both veterans. Therefore, 214 Fitness is a veteran owned small business. At the end of any military career, regardless of time spent in, the veteran receives a DD Form 214 that details their career. Hence, the birth of 214 Fitness. In addition, our two sons currently serve in the military. The name is fitting all around!

Setting up your own business is a true challenge and a struggle. It can be daunting and exciting and frustrating at the same time. Fear! Fear of the unknown! Will it be successful? Will it be just another adventure that I fail at? Will people really want to invest in my services? If they do invest in my services, will they enjoy it? Is there someone out that I can make a true impact on? How can I make my fitness different from all the others currently out there? These are all the questions (and more!) that float through my head as I make a check mark off my “To Do” List.

We set up the EIN number. Registered for a business bank account. Obtained a website domain that still needs to be set up. Now what? Where do we go from here? We still need a logo and my creative brain is on hiatus. We need website content. That takes clients that I have not yet acquired. Social media! I hate the idea of having use social media! I only get on Facebook when I receive a messenger notification. Media and advertising…still need the logo and content. I feel like I am in this vicious never-ending circle. I’m excited…yet afraid!

March Madness – Raising Baby Chicks

Maybe it’s the pain in my heart from losing my long lost friend, Mister Bascums. That pain became immensely intense when my son, Brandon, returned from his deployment to Romania. It just didn’t feel right not having Mr. B around. I’m not sure why having my son home made the void seem so much bigger. It was almost unbearable at times. So I went searching to fill that void…

Spring was in the air. The sun was warm. The breeze slightly cool. I only had to work at the YMCA until 11:00 am. I was filled with new energy. I wanted to plant flowers, build my chicken coop before the arrival of baby chicks, and start a garden that is destined to die at my hands. As I worked with members at the YMCA, the only thing I could thing about was getting home to experience the fresh warmth of the sun rays, the feel of soil between my fingers tips, and the smell of grass and flowers. Eventually, the latter would send me into months of not being able to breathe, head congestion, and non-stop sneezing. In fact, my husband has banned me from ever mowing the grass because of this. That does not make me love the smell of spring any less.

I contacted Karen. You know, my co-conspirator in these challenges. She’s been MIA – a silent partner at this point. We won’t hold that against her, as she has found herself an new Beau, Steve. She has been a little preoccupied with his presence lately. That is perfectly okay because she seems so happy! Anyways, I was fortunate to get a hold her. She agreed, her and Steve, would meet me at the Tractor Supply Company where I buy some of my garden supplies. We discovered the baby chicks.  They were Golden Hens. The Red Hens, I really wanted, could not be guaranteed not to have a rooster in the mix. I just had to have these Golden Hens! They were amazingly beautiful! The only problem I had was a warm place to keep them because I do not have a garage. But at least, now, I could mark another challenge off this Ultimate Bucket List, Raise Chickens and Enjoy Fresh Eggs (#40).

Karen and Steve helped me figure out a way to keep them at my house. Steve even helped Wes build the chicken coop. In order for the chicks to stay in the house, we constructed a Rubbermaid box, added a heat lamp, and some straw. We used old lids for food and water. I can’t help myself! Every time, I pass by them, I have to pick them up and play with them. Love on them. Talk to them.

Neptune, my three year old English Mastiff, was infatuated by them. He would just stand there and stare at them like they were creatures from another planet. The last set of chickens we had, he would chase them, pin them down, and lick on them. He never once hurt them. He just loved playing with them. Unfortunately, the hawks had a different use for them. I don’t know who was more devastated over that, him or I. I even tried to accuse the propane man of taking them because I could not fathom the idea of a hawk taking off with them.

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One week went past, my husband informed me that we lost one of the four. I was so hurt by that. I started to get really sad about it. Then, I realized that even my grandmother could not save them all. It is like she was speaking to me. Letting me know that it would be okay. You see, she used to have all kinds of chickens, doves, horses, goats. I think that is where my love for nature comes from. She had garden pots all over her lawn, growing such things as jalapeño peppers, green peppers, tomatoes. You name it, she could grow it. She even raised baby chicks from the egg. Yes, she hatched them under a light. When one of the chicks didn’t make it, she would call me and I would run over and bury it. I would even make a cross made of sticks at its grave site.

My Granny did not pass on her green thumb or the ability to raise animals to me. In fact, I don’t think I acquired any talent from the family tree. I have the biggest brown thumb any one could imagine. As stated before, my voice would make doves cry. My artistic ability is the imagination in my head that never makes it to paper. BUT, it doesn’t stop me from trying! I still hold on to the idea that Granny is directing me from heaven on how to plant flowers and vegetables, what to feed them to make them grow, and giving me enough of her love for animals to raise my own. I think of her when I hear the birds singing in the morning. I imagine it is she that is singing to me.

When I am really stumped for answers and Granny is taking too long to give them to me, I just pick up the phone and call my mom. She has all the answers! She too can grow anything and is a master at concocting the most unusual things.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

The Biggest Challenge ~ Had to Let Him Go

Faced with the most difficult decision. How can you make such a decision? How do you know when it is truly time? Why did I have to make this decision? Should I have waited ~ tried other alternatives? Let him decide to go on his own?

He has been with us nine years. He turns ten in June. We first met in August 2008. He was behind a glass window. I just knew I had to rescue him, take him home, and give him the love and care he deserved. I HAD TO HAVE HIM! I begged my husband for days. I researched everything about him to make sure he would be the perfect fit for our family. Finally, my husband relented.

Sure we had other dogs in the past. The first was a basset hound, Anna May Belle. Her and I did not see eye to eye. I hated her and she hated me more. My husband left Puerto Rico to go to school in California. I had a one year old son and I could not handle both of them. One had to go…

There was Sheriff. The most beautiful yellow lab; filled with energy and love for the world and my two sons. Unfortunately, Sheriff had to go to another home. We loved him so much that we felt he needed a home where there was constant attention. It broke my son’s, David, heart to watch us load him in a truck and be carried away by a father and his young boys. My husband and I where both active duty military and gone all the time. There was no time for love and attention for a pet.

We tried again by adopting a dog (#128) from the SPCA. Never again will I endure such demise. He created issues from the beginning. He hated cats! He would get out of the house despite all our efforts to keep him contained. He ran the neighborhood and scared everyone. He was a rottie mixed with lab. Or so we think. We kept him for a few years before he became really aggressive. I was afraid that soon he would attack one of the neighbor’s children so I returned him to the SPCA.

I swore there would never be another animal brought into my home that I would have to care for. I was not an animal lover of any kind and did not care to have them around. It was just one more responsibility that I did not need.

That was until Mister Bascums came to be. You see, I was walking the mall with my sons. David asked to go into the pet store. He saw my hesitancy and proceeds to explain to me that his father took them into the pet store but they never bought a dog. They just went in to see them. I had just come home from a deployment. How could I say no? After all, his father took them there. We walked in and there standing behind a glass window was the most beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback. Our eyes met. I had to have him. Not my children but ME!

Finally, the day came when I was given permission to go get him. I was so excited. He filled our home and hearts with so much love! One day, when I was at school, my boys was left to tend to him. They left the back door open and he escaped. We found him the next day. He had been hit by a car, gasping for air, barely able to walk. He knew my voice and immediately jumped into the car. We rushed him to the vet, and then the emergency room, eventually to Virginia Tech Veterinary School. We really thought he wasn’t going to make it through all that. He surprised us and gave us 8 more years of his love.

In that timeframe, we added three more fur babies to our family. Neptune and Athena are our English Mastiffs and Uma is an English Lab.

This past Saturday, March 10, 2018; he succumbed to an infection in his leg. He had been fighting it for two weeks. He was in so much pain and misery. As the technician was telling us our different options of surgery and the long, hard recovery; I just couldn’t think about him suffering any longer.

My head still questions if we should have tried all those other options. Maybe, I should have tried harder to help him get better. My heart aches when I think about him. Tears stream down my face when I don’t even realize it. It hurts even more to see Neptune search for him. It’s like Neptune knows he is gone. I see the same pain on his face that I feel in my heart.

How can you make such a decision? How do you know when it is truly time? Why did I have to make this decision? Should I have waited ~ tried other alternatives? Let him decide to go on his own?