Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tips to Recover from the Flu

(When this article was written I still was recovering from the flu.  I was taking a strong antibiotic that wiped me out every morning and kept me in a daze until evening.  One particular evening I had my wits about me, so I compiled some thoughts.)

On Christmas day I contracted Influenza A (the bad kind of flu).  I was contagious and my doctor’s expression was grave and serious.  Sort of a “if you feel any worse you are going to the hospital” look.  Hmmm.  Well, it’s been a number of days now and I have followed her instructions to a tee.  So, between my doctor’s instructions, my family’s advice and my own common sense, I wrote down some tips about how to get over the flu.  (Tips are in no particular order)

Ø Wear a hat, scarf and closed toed shoes.  It’s a funny story in my family about how none of us can get rained on and not get sick.  We get it from our Mom.  If even one drop of rain hits our head or neck, forget it...our sinuses will flare up.  If we are lucky it will be only one day of discomfort; however, if the temperature is cold, forget it again...we will get a cold, slight fever and possibly the flu.

How did I get the flu?  I ran outside in the cold rain/snow for 2 minutes to pull cushions from the patio furniture and didn’t wear a hat or scarf (and I wore sandals).  The moral of this bullet point is save yourself, not your cushions, and take the time to put on the right gear to protect yourself.  It’s worth it; otherwise, you’ll spend 10 days recovering from a 2 minute error.

Ø  Keep plenty of tissue in the house.  For years I’ve followed the practice of buying extra paper products “just in case” I need them.  If you look in my closets, you’ll find multiple boxes of tissue, toilet paper and paper towels.  Well, it paid off when I got sick because I can walk to any room in the house and not have to worry if there is a box of tissue in there.  The flu brings congestion, coughing and sneezing.  Trust me, the “just in case” tissue paid off for me.

Ø  Keep lemon and filtered water in stock.  Another compulsion of mine is keeping plenty of lemons in the house.  It’s amazing how a simple lemon slice in my water makes me happy.  Ha.  When you have the flu the lemon compulsion pays off too because in order to get over the flu, you must drink lots and lots and lots of water.  There’s no way around it.

Ø  Don’t “Man Up” until you’ve been to the doctor.  This applies to men and women.  How many of us dismiss the sniffles, coughing, sneezing, slight fever, headaches and joint aches for days only to wake up one morning completely behind the flu-8-ball?  Don’t do it!! (reverse Nike sign!)  Just practice wisdom and humility and go to the doctor soon after your symptoms begin.  If the medicine gets into your system early it will prevent the flu germ from growing.  Trust me when I say everyone in your life will appreciate you going to the doctor.  We don’t want to catch the flu from you!

Ø  It’s true…You do need plenty of sleep and rest.  I know not everyone has the luxury of a precious house mate named Stanley (lol) who lets you sleep as much as you need (and he sleeps by your side); however, let me just say that going to the doctor isn’t enough.  You must sleep and rest.  Sleep is when you close your eyes and pass out for hours, day after day until the medicine kicks in.  Rest is when you sit on the sofa or chair while avoiding the compulsion to clean your house, cook dinner for the family, do laundry, etc. while you’re home.

If you live with someone who has the flu, don’t expect the Sickly to keep doing what he/she did before.  Instead, you wash the dishes, do laundry, either cook or bring in food for the family.  You be the one who drives the Sickly to the doctor, to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions and who goes to the store for soup, lemons, water and 7-Up.  Don’t be a burden to the Sickly!  (ha)

Before I leave this point let me say something to those of us who live with no one but a pet.  We tend to let work be our end-all, be-all.  If on Christmas Day or any day thereafter you are asked to participate in conference calls and reply to a mountain of emails while you have the flu, you just need to put your foot down and say either “no” or “wait.”  A version of “no” looks like this:  “I’m bedridden with the flu.  Please loop Scott in for your answer.”  A version of “wait” looks like this:  “I’m bedridden with the flu.  Cannot respond until tonight.”  Sleep and rest need to come before any transaction. 

Ø  A few of my favorite things (that kept me company while I recovered).  Stanley, Hallmark Movie Channel, Chick-fil-a chicken noodle soup, La Madeleine tomato basil soup, Odwalla orange juice, long hot showers (to stop congestion and coughing), Ugg boots, Advil, hand lotion, body lotion, lip balm, scrambled eggs, and my favorite sofa throw to keep me warm.  A daily prayer to God to heal me and to restore my strength.

I hope you don’t get the flu, but if you do I hope at least 1 of these tips helps you get and feel better.  Be safe and well.


PS:  A heart felt “THANK YOU” to everyone who prayed for me while I was sick.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Angels, Doves & Halloween

For many years I have kept angel statues in my front and back yards.  The statues are of different sizes and materials, but they all have a peaceful, angelic quality and they add beauty to my yard and garden.   Over the years people visiting my home have commented on how peaceful the atmosphere is, and although I have been grateful for their comments I didn't put two and two together, until recently.

Another figurine that I admire is that of a sweet, gentle bird, so I bought several figurines for the yard and noticed a curious thing this summer.  Birds were spending more and more time in my back yard, and the birds were of a similar type as the bird figurines.  I would find them just sitting around or sunning on my patio, whereas before I didn't have birds.  It is as if the live birds saw the bird figurines on my patio and wanted to dwell there with them.

...and then my eyes were opened.

What if angels...angels of grace, peace and serenity saw my angels statues and took that as a welcome to my home?  Have I invited heavenly angels to my home without even being aware?  If you came to my home you would feel a sweet and kind presence, as I do.

So, what is around your home and yard?  What are you inviting into your presence that perhaps you are not aware of?  Objects around us bring invitations and I encourage you to invite all that is heavenly.

PS:  You never will find ghouls, witches, graves, ghosts, items of blood, terror or destruction in my home at Halloween.  I do not want to extend any invitation to that element, even if it is just for Halloween.  I'd rather have pumpkins & mums.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Please Check Under My Bed....

On Saturday night, I was fast asleep at 11:30pm but was awakened by Stanley.  He was barking (a serious bark...not a "there's a squirrel outside" bark) and was focused on a corner of the bedroom.  Because he was not backing down but kept barking, I told myself that I needed to take this seriously.  I aroused myself and became somewhat conscious.  It was then that I realized that I had heard a noise...something similar to an animal squeezing between the wall and my armoire, in an attempt to hide.  The same armoire that Stanley was barking at.  "!!!!!!," said my head.

I then sat up in the bed and tried to subdue Stanley.  He quietened down and slightly shifted on the bed.   It was at that moment that the entire bed (a heavy bed and with me in it) started to shake and buck up, as if something was caught in the slats in the bed and was trying to free itself.  "Whaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....I'm freaking out," said my head now.

Stanley was over it.  He cowered down and crawled to my side.  I said a prayer and then had a stern talk with myself.  Are you going to sit here in this room and act like nothing happened....hoping the animal (or whatever) goes away?....or, Are you going to get out of this bed, put your feet on the floor (and risk "it" coming out) and take care of this?!  Well, I wasn't raised to be a coward and my courage began to rise.  I was going to take this on!

I scooped up Stanley in my arm, stepped off of the bed onto the floor and quickly walked out of the room, closing the door behind me.  I hastened to the other bedroom and fully dressed, tennis shoes and all.  We walked downstairs and I called the neighborhood security force, who then called the police.  As I stood waiting for the police to arrive, I begin to pray.  Truly, I needed peace at that moment because being awakened out of my sleep like this was alarming.  Stanley was verrrryyyy close to me (oh, that sweet little doggie).

The police arrived (5 police cars....yes!) and I greeted the team in my garage.  As two police approached I made clear that it was someTHING in my bedroom, not someONE.  The policeman then announced, "We've had an earthquake.  Do you think this could be what caused your experience?"  Like a deer in headlights I stood there...everything in slow motion.  I blinked twice with a straight face and asked, "Would you still check under my bed?"

After a thorough and official police search of my house (thank you wonderful policemen), I was convinced that, yes, in fact it was the earthquake that caused my experience.  Whew.  Wait a minute.....I live in Texas.  We're not supposed to have earthquakes......!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Did It For Me

This blog posting may seem a little long, obsessive and silly, but stay tuned to the end.  It all comes together.  :)

In 2006 my hair was long and lovely.  I spent the time each morning to fix it and each morning I left the house with glorious curled and flowing hair.  It was pretty cool, except at the back of my mind I missed my naturally curly hair.  

For many years prior to 2006 my hair was shorter (not short, just shorter) and I wore it natural hair.  I LOVED it.  Of course, I was 40 pounds lighter and more muscular so the shorter, curlier hair looked good on me.  For some reason I decided that the more I weighed the longer and more flowing my hair needed to be. Go figure.

In December 2006 I was on my way to the airport to meet dear friends in California, but first I had a hair appointment.  I don't know how it happened...all I know is that I walked out of the salon with short (to-my-ears-short) hair.  OH MY!  It meant that I could style my hair with its natural curl (it wasn't long enough to wave!), which was good.  It also meant that when my friends picked me up at the airport they didn't recognize me, which is bad.

Fast forward to 2012.  Again, my hair was long (even longer than 2006) and lovely.  In fact, my hair was so long that I couldn't style it by myself so three times a week I went to a salon before work for a wash, blow dry and style.  After a year of this my hair became a burden.  It tangled on everything and I couldn't sleep with it down.  

Months ago I realized that I had to do something because my hair was taking over my life.  It seemed as if everyone was enamored with my hair because of its length, but they were losing sight of the fact that Carleen was under all of that hair. Friends kept saying, "don't cut your hair!!!" as if it would be a crime.  I realized that my friends and family remembered December 2006 all too well, but now I was carrying the weight of disappointing them if I cut my hair.  Crazy.

My hair had its own personality....its own following and I was its slave (this is what I felt like).  Soon, I was resentful of my stupid longggggg hair.

Not long thereafter, I had an epiphany..."Look it, Carleen, cut your hair and live your life.  Spending $650/month on wash and styling fees is ridiculous and your hair is a burden.  Cut it!"  So I did.  I found a style that has swing and bounce and that makes my happy...AND that looks good.  No repeat of December 2006.  I did it for me and no one else.  In fact, I did it for me in spite of everyone's love of my long hair.

Is there something in your life that you keep doing or keep being simply because of other people?  Are you miserable simply because you are fitting in with everyone's expectations?  Don't allow anyone's expectations or desires to be a burden to you. If you want to wear flats instead of stilettos, wear flats.  If you want curly hair instead of flat-iron-straight hair, go curly.  If you like the book club instead of the cheerleading team or drill team, book it.  I'm telling you:  life is too short and you must follow your heart.  Do it for you.

Make yourself happy and go with God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


To everyone who cancelled on my esthetician today, thank you.  (Cough) You were rude to cancel within hours of your appointment, and you were rude to just not show up.  However, because of your poor spa etiquette (lol), I got to have a 2 hour facial.  AhhhhhSpaaahhhhh.  Sooooo, relaxing and enjoyable.

After I sunk down underneath the sateen luxury sheeting, after she dimmed the lights and ever so gently pinned my hair up, she cleansed my skin.  I love the thick cotton towelettes she uses to remove the cleanser and I especially like that she uses several thick towelettes instead of reusing the same one over and over (soooo not sanitary).  After a couple of rounds of cleansing, she applied a masque hand-mixed to address my particular skin's needs.  As she applied the masque I felt a warmth spread all over my face.  I was in a lovely state of relaxation but soon realized that my face was on fireeeee!!  

A paprika masque it was and, boy, that paprika is hot stuff.  It causes the blood to rush to the surface of the skin (hello!) thus resulting in the toxins to come to the surface and thus resulting in my face being on fire.  It's like eating hot-hot-hot sauce at a Mexican restaurant that you realize is really hot only after you've emptied your bowl of chips.  By then, it's way too late to go back and you just have to let the inside of your mouth find its own salvation and coolness through iced tea, iced water and ice cream after dinner (ha).

Anyway, back to the spa table.  She let the paprika masque cure for 5 minutes or so (fireeeeee!) and then rinsed it away.  Throughout the remainder of the facial, my face continued to feel the effects of the paprika.  It's because the blood still was rushing to my face...the toxins could even see that my face was flush!  

After rounds of this and that soothing masques and this and that gloriously thick, lush lotions, followed by a rose infused masque, I was asleep in dream state.  As the rose infused masque cured, she left the room for who knows how long.  All I know was that I was dreaming on the table.  You see, I had just come from the gym (awesome workout) and had a light lunch (yummy), so my body was ready for some recoup was ready for some slumber in the dark with soft music playing.

She came back inside and peeled the luscious rose masque off and then she applied an incredibly wholesome feeling organic conditioner to my face and neck.  She then applied another layer of the conditioner and my skin was drinking it in!  I promise, I was so hydrated and plumped up that I was radiant.

It was when I had to awaken to dress myself that I noticed the time.  Over 2 hours!!  I had been on her table for over 2 hours!!!  Ohhhhh, how wonderful I felt.  My whole being had been refreshed.  So, again I say thank you to the people who cancelled or were no shows.  I took all of my time and some of yours too.  I also generously tipped my esthetician and bought products to make up for the loss of income due to your not being there (oops!).

When was the last time you took some time for yourself?  Do you realize that no one else is going to take time for you?  "Your time" can be experienced by only YOU!  Even if it is a refreshing drink, a nice song on the radio and wind in your hair...have a "ME" moment.  Only think about that very moment and not about your to do list.  Think only about yourself and who you are at that moment.

Do something nice for yourself today and savor the experience.  Show kindness and tip well (even though they may use a paprika masque).  :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I was at the gym this morning and began to warm up on a treadmill.  I was running late so I didn't give much attention to the treadmill that I stepped on.  I just pressed "quick start," ramped it up to 3.3 speed and began my session.  As I looked up at the TV screens, I instinctively put both hands on the side rails.  Hmmm, something's not right....something feels gross...

Instead of finding the usual cold, hard rails I realized that I had put my hands down on semi-dried sweat of someone who was on the treadmill before me.  ewwwww!  Immediately, I stepped to the side of the moving track and in doing so I had to brace myself and put my hands in another semi-soggy pool of someone else's sweat.  G-R-O-S-S !!!!!  My mouth opened and out came exclamations such as, "OMG...who was here before me?!  Who would leave a treadmill like this?!  What an inconsiderate person!!!...."  LOL....

You might say, "oh, yea, that's happened to me too..."  Right?  Whether it be an elliptical, treadmill, piece of weight equipment, or stretch mat, I'm sure that at some time in your workout career (ha) you have stepped into, rolled into, sat down on someone else's sweat.  Well, I don't have to tell you that it is just gross.  I never get used to it and I find it completely inexcusable that someone would not clean up after himself/herself. 

Do you know what makes it worse this morning?  The gym is part of an exclusive resort, so the members totally should know better!!!  Actually, I should know better.  By now I should know that manners and courtesy are not possessed only by the financially well-to-do.  In fact, money and status are no indication of the character of a person.  In my opinion, how one conducts himself (this means male and female), how one treats others, one's courtesy and manners (let me throw this in:  washing your hands in the up after yourself on a sweaty treadmill!)....these are the elements of a person who has class.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A new man in my life

I have a new man in my life. He is 5 years old and he has long hair. I adopted him 3 weeks ago and he has changed my life! He is small like I am. He is a toy Chihuahua. LOL. I adopted a long hair, toy Chihuahua and his name is Stanley. I just LOVE him, and we are having the best time.

I've never had a pet before so this is a new experience, but I love it. You see, before Stanley, everything in my life centered on ME. I had my work, my gym, my Starbucks and my stuff. My life was so self-centered. I needed someone in my life to give love and affection to...someone to keep me accountable and give me responsibility, and Stanley is it. Yes, I know that a boyfriend or husband or even an adopted child do the same thing, but I needed to start with small steps...didn't want to take the plunge and drown in going big. I wanted to start small, so I did.

Actually, I am finding that Stanley is teaching me about myself. For instance, I’ve learned that I am WAY affectionate. should hear me talk to him. Even as I write this blog he is sitting in my lap with his little tail wagging. (Melt the heart, right?) Another thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am soooooo generous with my love. Stanley also is teaching me how to balance being very much the person who I am, while also sharing my life with someone else. It is a balance that I’ve had difficulty with over the years, but this balance is healthy and I need to get it under my belt.

For any one who wants to get married one day and have children, I recommend that you start with a pet. Stanley is getting me up earlier in the mornings. I walk him and feed him throughout the day. Now, I have to plan my schedule with him in mind...which is good because I am leaving the office earlier, staying home more (no more malls!) and changing my habits to make room for Stanley. Stanley needs a lot of affection and attention. Hello!! He likes to be held and walked around the house. He likes to rest his little head on my shoulder and nestle his little nose around my neck. I do this with him in the morning and at night.

He is not someone who I can just keep in the house and still do my own thing like he isn’t there. It is good that he makes me change my habits because, I admit, I might have the tendency to treat a boyfriend or husband like they were a piece of furniture. I know that’s bad but what I mean is that for someone who has been single for so long it is not entirely natural for “all of a sudden” Mr. Wonderful to get an invitation to come inside the house. There are a lot of people out there who enjoy (rather, cling to) being single. We cling to our careers, material possessions, flexible schedule…we cling to our freedom! We say that “one day” we want to marry or date, but when it comes down to it we can be so inflexible that Mr. Wonderful has to make an appointment to even see us. Come on now! Say amen somebody! I’m not talking to only myself. I’m talking about many single people out there.

I don’t want to be like that, whether in a dating relationship or in a marriage. I don’t want to be selfish or self-absorbed, and I need practice in sharing my life. Believe it or not (and as silly as this sounds) Stanley helps me with this “practice” in playing nice and friendly with “my life.” He is putting me in practice so that sharing my life (time, schedule, activities, home) and myself with someone is becoming natural. I’m getting in the groove.

So, the moral of this story (lol) is that pets can bring so much joy and love INTO your life and OUT OF you. It is like a flood of happiness that you don’t get to partake in until you join the pet club. I encourage you to share your life. Whether you share it with a cat, dog, child, man, woman…whatever…just do it. Don’t have a life filled with only you. Oh, that is such a one-dimensional way to live. We all have a deep and wide and big heart inside of us, and the love in our hearts is meant to be shared. Love yourself then pass your love on….