The Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain by Diana Keuilian (Spotlight)

Break the recipe code for your favorite foods! Free of grains, gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy, The Recipe Hacker is a mouthwatering collection of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Learn to use easy ingredient substitutions to transform traditional dishes into real, healthy comfort food masterpieces, without sacrificing any of the flavor! Enjoy healthier, whole-food versions of Key Lime Pie Crispy Orange Chicken and Banana Pancakes Step-by-step photos, dozens of recipes, and delicious flavors will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy all the comfort foods you crave and keep your body (and skinny jeans) happy at the same time!

Recipe Hacker can be purchased on Amazon here:



Diana Keuilian is passionate about creating wholesome versions of your favorite foods. She removes the gluten, dairy, soy, grains and cane sugar from traditional comfort food recipes like cake, tacos, cookies, waffles, enchiladas and more. This hobby propelled her to start the popular blog,, where she shares hundreds of delicious recipes and mouthwatering photos. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two young children.

For more recipes, or to contact Diana, visit

Recipe Hacker can be purchased on Amazon here:



Widows 101 by Susan Barber – Book Blitz and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Susan Barber’s Widows 101 book blitz July 1 – 15!

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PUYB Inside the Book

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Widows 101Title:
 Widows 101
Author: Susan Barber
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 108
Genre: Self-help
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Becoming a widow isn’t like becoming a wife. Becoming a wife requires major planning. But becoming a widow is often a surprise, and even with advance planning some people are still stunned. It’s difficult to prepare for widowhood. In Widows 101, author Susan Barber uses her personal experience with her husband’s death to provide practical tips for surviving the death of a spouse.

Delivered with a gentle, lighthearted approach, Widows 101 touches upon core elements widows will need to address after losing their husbands, such as remaking yourself and redefining what you want;

dealing with grief;
making adjustments in your personal and social life;
handling your spouse’s personal effects;
attending to the details of your new life alone;
communicating your wishes for your own funeral.

Widows 101 helps you prepare for the changes in your life as you confront widowhood. Learn how to make the changes work for you instead of against you as you navigate one of life’s most difficult periods.



PUYB Meet the Author

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Susan Barber and her husband owned their own business for thirty years. They raised four children in a small Utah town. When she became widowed, she sold her business to her son. In order to retain her business relationship with her clients, she serves the community through the Rotary , the Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. Her friends and family keep her very busy. Susan is often still surprised at the misinformation people have about widows. ” Our husbands have stopped living, we haven’t.”

PUYB Giveaway

Susan is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


Click here to access the Giveaway!

Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips by Elle Eriksson (Media Blitz, Giveaway)





Top Ten Best Ever Weight Loss TipsTitle: Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips

Author: Elle Eriksson, RHN
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 122
Genre: Health and Wellness
Format: Kindle

We all know that being slim does not always mean being healthy. In Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips, Elle Eriksson offers you sensible, effective ways to shed those unwanted pounds while improving overall health and wellbeing.

Blending personal wisdom with professional training and experience, Elle shares her insight and provides strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Also included in these top ten tips is “a little food for thought” as the author explores some of today’s concerns around food quality and production.

With a variety of options for all body types, Elle guides you toward successful weight loss, using a whole-foods diet and realistic steps to attaining an active, balanced lifestyle. This easy-to-use guide includes a 21-Day Food/Weight/Fitness Journal along with real-life weight-loss success story.

Elle Eriksson, RHN, is a registered holistic nutritionist, nutritional  consultant, urban gardener, and cooking instructor. In her passionate concern for both the planet and animal welfare, she incorporates these issues into her down-to-earth approach to food, health, and weight loss. Elle lives with her family in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Purchase Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips in these formats:



Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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She’s b-a-c-k…from life’s distractions, family drama, medical appointments, and shopping

I’ve been kind of missing in action lately, but I’m back. Hope there is someone out there that noticed, after all, we all like to know we’ve been missed.

My husband has been suffering with a neck injury with different diagnosis coming in from a chiropractor, a PCP, a doctor of physical medicine, and now a physical therapist. One was insistent that cracking the neck and back was going to fix it. While I didn’t agree with the method, I was willing to support my husband’s choice to try non-evasive first (although in my opinion, that constitutes evasive). With that treatment ending and the symptoms worsening, we then took it to the next level and medical doctors. We know there is arthritis in his neck, but none of this was explaining the numbness and pain radiating down his arm.

After x-rays and an MRI, we are now in physical therapy and at least things are beginning to make sense. The therapist was able to isolate the nerve causing the pain and some interesting things have begun to happen. Hopefully, improvements will follow. Seems between the two of us, we’ve been making a few too many trips into New Orleans to Ochsner.

Physical therapy is proving to be quite the interesting journey. Luckily, we found a wonderful therapist who doesn’t mind being asked questions and explaining everything going on. I have been known to irritate even the nicest of doctors with my questions. I never left the “why” stage behind. She would do something and I’d ask what she was doing, why she was doing it, and what she hoped the outcome would be. I was very impressed because she is very open with us. She is also confident that the nerve is not permanently damaged and she can restore what has been damaged through treatment. After three months of horrible pain, it is nice to see Hubby finding some relief. The physical therapist also uses dry needling and that is interesting.

I only have one comment. If that is how women act when they are PMSing, geez, no wonder we get on everyone’s last nerve!

Our latest trip into New Orleans this week was for follow-up blood work and an ultra-sound for me. The numbers having to do with my liver and gall bladder were elevated. I have two rare blood disorders and have blood work done every six months to monitor my elevated red cell count and platelet count. Those numbers are elevated, but within the same high range they have been for a year. I have to admit that if I get another tech that hurts me the way this one did, I’m calling for someone new. I have a huge bruise on my arm. She stuck me and then moved the needle around for a while (which, by the way I could feel) before she managed to hit the vein. I don’t watch, but I could feel it and it hurt. I told Hubby he needs to be my advocate next time and instead of watching, needs to stop them. He said had she moved it one more time, he had decided that he was going to stop her and call for someone new.

On the bright side, I did a little shopping this month and bought some cool stuff. I’ll be sharing those goodies throughout the week. First up are my little books from May Designs. I have recently returned to journaling and a pretty book is always enticing and I love these. I also have one for the Facebook group 360/30. The group gives a month’s worth of thought-provoking prompts at the beginning of each month. And I use the third for my medical records.

Don’t you just love them?


And where do you put such pretty little books? Well – in a pretty little pouch. I found these cute Hadaki bags on-line. It came in a set of two, one of which was the perfect size for my little books, along with a pretty colored pen for each book. You’ll come to notice I’m more than a little obsessed with pretty pouches. I have amassed quite a collection through the years and I love mixing them up and using them for different purposes. One can never have too much pretty pretty.

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I even received a cute pink lollipop!
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I decided to leave the pretty green ribbon that held them together. I cut it and tied a piece to each zipper.
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The colors are so bright and cheerful.
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I even used the pretty pink envelope that came inside. I hole punched it to fit my planner and then used one of my Martha Stewart punches to make the cute top design, then added stickers.
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Even the inside lining is pretty.

I recently found a couple of shopping apps and I’ve been trying them out. You receive a list of items each week and if you purchase any of them, you can earn money back. It isn’t always items I use, but I’ve managed to rack up about $4 for just buying what I already buy. One is Checkout 51 and the second is Ibotta. I think they are available for both iPhone and Android.

I also use Grocery IQ as my grocery list app. It is connected with and I was able to utilize a few coupons there as well. One was for antiperspirants. It’s no secret that I love my Secret – unscented that is. When I sweat I do not want to smell like baby powder sweat, or citrus sweat. Anyone else with me? Well, being Southern I suspect that if I am invited on a picnic – and sweat – those in attendance will sniffing the air to see who smells like the Ambrosia (with a twist of sweat.) My new deodorant, thanks to a coupon, is Secret Citrus (I kid you not!) I truly just do NOT want to smell like something when I sweat. The best case scenario would be to not smell, but do you really want to smell like Spring – with a touch of sweat? Who thinks up these fragrances? We truly need to have a sit down with them – and soon.

We had a little family drama this week as well. If you follow my blog, you know that I adore my German shepherds. Ryka never darts out in front of the truck when we come through the gate, but this time she did. I had just closed one gate after Hubby came through and was starting to close the second when I looked up and saw Ryka start to cross in front of him. It happened so fast. The truck bumper hit and flipped her and then she rolled to a stop as Hubby did, right against the tire.

I did what any good Southern lady would do. I let out a blood curdling scream. Jamie Curtis in Halloween doesn’t have anything on me! I think I frightened Ryka more than getting hit by the truck did, but thankfully, she got up and walked away. I still shudder when I think about it. I was quite upset the entire afternoon and that night I spent about an hour just cuddling and playing and rubbing them before I came inside.

I was always concerned about Calypso because she insists on running down the drive in front of the truck and escorting us to the garage. Before the truck, we had a suburban and we could at least see her ears as she galloped along. The truck is so high, she would have to be a horse to be seen. Ryka always lagged behind and this was completely out of character for her. As they say, “All’s good in Hollywood,” at least momentarily.

There were loads more adventures and family drama this week, but I’ll save that for another day. As always, thanks for taking the time to visit here and I wish you a wonderful weekend. I have a book giveaway, so if you love a good romance, be sure and leave a comment there. The book is Waiting on You and the link is:

Thanks for visiting!



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The Predator Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story by Abby Kelly (Media Blitz)


updated book cover

I want. I want you to want me. I want you to think I am the smartest, the thinnest, the most beautiful. I want you to want to be me. I want to be enviable. I want to be impervious. I want to need nothing. I want you to know that I am strong. I want to think I am better than everyone else. I want.

I’m willing to give up everything. I will give up mind and future. I will give up health, happiness and peace. I will give up family, friends and fun. I will give up rest and comfort. I will give up food. But please, just let me keep faith.

Photo on 10-2-13 at 1.44 PM 2Abby Kelly is a nomadic, military spouse writing from wherever she momentarily finds herself with her husband, their wonderful dog, Brave, and two tolerable cats.

Abby began writing in the process of recovering from a more-than-decade long eating disorder. She credits Jesus Christ for her full recovery and for filling her with a passion to encourage others to seek freedom from their own addictions and struggles.
Now, Abby writes for numerous Christian publications as well as maintains her personal blog, Predatory-Lies. In her free time, she and Brave enjoy volunteering in hospitals and schools as a pet therapy team through Pet Partners.

Buy The Book
The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story

Add to Goodreads:

Email Address:


Twitter link @benjity

Facebook Link:

“The Flight

“You will never see me again!” I screamed. I knew I was running out of time as we approached the airport. “I’ll die there! I’m never coming home.”

“Abby, stop. You are getting yourself all worked up and we have to go inside now.” My father parked the car in the dismal parking garage. Ignoring my residual choking on tears, he got out of the car and began to extract the suitcases, careful not to get any dirt on his jeans.

Daddy always looked sharp, one more thing I hated about myself. In the last several years I had become more of a skeleton freak show than an attractive daughter he could be proud of. My face was gaunt and haggard and wore the look of an aging smoker. My breasts were flat and my waist curve-less, like a prepubescent boy. I wore sea-foam green sweat pants with the word “SPIRIT” in block letters down my right leg. The sweats hung around my thighs like a tent missing poles, but I liked them because I felt small inside them. A sloppy white t-shirt blaring “SPIRIT” as well, topped the ensemble.

“Abby, get out of the car.”

I debated for a moment, but knew that I’d never win. The wildest of my tantrums were no match for Dad’s strength, but until now, at least in the battle of wills, I had triumphed. Two days prior my parents played their trump card.

“We’ve tried everything.” My parents had me cornered in their bedroom. Mom spoke because I listened more calmly to her. “We’ve been patient while you’ve promised over and over to try. We are really, really worried about you.”

Mom’s voice broke there. Dad turned and glared at my little sisters eavesdropping from the bedroom doorway. Two sets of chocolate brown eyes and one blue pair ducked back into the hallway. Then he shut the door and stepped forward.

“You promised to gain ten pounds in two months.” Dad’s voice was taut. The six-foot-four man that I once thought invincible slouched beneath a heavy burden. “Over a month ago, you agreed to the ultimatum that you would gain eight pounds. You’re nowhere near that. You need help and this is not a discussion. Remuda Ranch agreed to admit you, and we need to be there the day after tomorrow.” Daddy turned and left the room.

I slumped to my knees on the floor. “Please, please, please, Mom! Don’t send me away. I can’t be gone for two months. You might as well disown me. I’ll die there!”

Tour Hosted by Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tour

In this raw telling of her long struggle with anorexia, Abby Kelly reveals the predatory lies that ran rampant in her disordered mind. She will lead readers through the fight to her final victory.
Readers will find empathy, compassion and insight in these pages. Most of all, they will find hope for recovery and a life beyond the battle.

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Healing Through Chronic Pain. A Physical Therapist’s Personal Journey of Body/Mind/Spirit Transformation
 by Mary Ruth Velicki

Book coverMary Ruth Velicki, a physical therapist and university instructor, endured intense, debilitating pelvic pain for years. Determined to get better, she set aside her initial skepticism and tried a plethora of treatments from the Western, Eastern, and alternative sides of medicine. To her surprise, she underwent incredible healing that extended beyond her physical body to her full person and experienced many direct connections between her body, mind, and spirit. In Healing Through Chronic Pain, Mary Ruth recounts her five-year journey of “healing through the layers” and personal transformation. Along the way, she shares the treatment strategies she used and the support she received from a team of professionals to move past the pain and to heal her whole being.

Publish Date: September 22, 2013. Print. 260 pages.authorphoto

Mary Ruth Velicki, MS, DPT, has been a physical therapist for almost thirty years. Throughout her career, she has specialized in the rehabilitation of adults with neurological disorders. She spent eight years developing and teaching graduate courses for several universities, and she has published research in the journal Experimental Brain Research. After working diligently for years to recover from her own chronic pelvic pain, she now spends her time writing, speaking, and working with clients using a combination of physical therapy and alternative treatments.

For more information:


Memos from the Fire

“The human being is a surprisingly resilient organism. We are impelled toward health not sickness. Your spirit, as surely as your body, will try to heal. . . . So you should not fear tragedy and suffering. Like love, they make you more a part of the human family. From them can come your greatest creativity. They are the fire that burns you pure.”

— Kent Nerburn, Simple Truths: Clear and Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life

Before chronic pelvic pain threw me off-track at age forty-five, I was busy and productive, and ideas about spirituality and the mind-body-spirit connection never really entered my mind. But when the pain took hold and wouldn’t let go, I was forced to step out of my life for more than five years to pursue all sorts of healing avenues and to look deeply within. Much to my surprise, the suffering was actually a gift. It opened up an opportunity for growth and led to deep healing at all levels of my person. Don’t get me wrong; it was the most difficult challenge of my life so far, and I needed tremendous help in that healing process. But comparing my life and the state of my body, mind, and spirit before my illness to now, I would never want to go back. The journey was rocky, but the rewards were unexpected and amazing.

At the very beginning of my illness, I began writing a guide on how to physically manage chronic pelvic pain. Having a reason for going through the pain made it easier to endure, and writing was a natural extension of my career as a physical therapist and university instructor. But then this journey became about much more than just relieving my physical pain and writing a book to help others manage their chronic pain. Unexpectedly, this intense experience woke up the spiritual side of me. I also discovered many tangible connections between my body, mind, and spirit—which would have seemed implausible for my scientific, Western-medicine–trained mind just a few years before. As I grew, the perspective of the book expanded, too. Because I wrote during the struggle itself, rather than summarizing the experience at its end, these pages capture the changes that took place in my whole being throughout the five-year healing process.

The first section of this book describes the challenges and changes that occurred at all levels of my person (social self, body, mind, spirit) during the first two years of intense pain as well as the direct connections I experienced between the different aspects of my being. The second section of this book chronicles the last three years of my illness, when I was actively working to uncover what I was carrying at deeper emotional and spiritual levels that might be contributing to my pain. The process of looking within led to deep healing of my whole person. I landed more firmly into my authentic self, and both my internal and external life began to transform.

For me, the catalyst for positive personal change was chronic, intense pelvic pain. For you, the catalyst may be another form of chronic physical pain, or psychological pain, or some other struggle. When I first started sharing the stories I’ve included in this book with friends, neighbors, and even strangers, it surprised me that people who had not experienced chronic physical pain could also relate to my journey. But I soon realized that painful struggle and transformation are deeply human experiences and that much of what I experienced on an individual level is also universal. Although different catalysts may start the process, transformation often involves the same unfolding of the layers of body, mind, and spirit and the same gradual healing through these layers.

Before my illness, I worked as a physical therapist specializing in the treatment of people who had suffered neurological injuries, such as stroke, brain injury, and spinal injury. It was a blessing to stand beside these people during such an intense time in their lives. Sometimes, my patients were in despair; sometimes, they were digging deep to find meaning and hope. Throughout the experience, I felt connected to them through our shared humanness and vulnerability.

When I’ve told my story to other people and shared with them the advice and encouragement I’ve received along the way, I’ve seen their faces light up with recognition and felt a similar loving connection between us. This feeling of being connected with other people at a deeply human level was crucial for my own healing, and I suspect the same is true for others. I wrote this book with the hope that my experiences will provide connection, support, guidance, and hope to others on their own healing journeys.

Purchase on Amazon

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100 Perks of Having Cancer by Florence Strang and Susan Gonzales (Review)


book cover2CPG_9943








  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Health Publications; 1st edition (August 2, 2013)

How often do you hear the words “healthy”, “happy” and “cancer” mentioned in the same sentence?  That is precisely what gives 100 Perks of Having Cancer (Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It) its unique character.  Its authors not only “talk the talk” of living a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude on the cancer journey, they also continue to “walk the walk”.

Florence’s perks, which are a combination of inspirational and humorous anecdotes, have made her audiences laugh and cry.  Susan’s tips are sought after because of their educational content with a witty twist. Together they provide a valuable resource which will inspire and motivate their readers, while keeping them smiling.

About the authors (from Amazon):

As two different authors, Florence and Susan, we didn’t know one another until Florence got the idea to ask Susan to write a book with her.  It didn’t matter that we lived in two different countries!  So, through the magic of Skype and e-mails, we put together this “Cancer Survivorship Manual”….a “Cancer Rehab” of sorts.  The perks and health tips are written in such a way that you don’t have to read this book cover to cover.  You can skip around, or, as some have chosen to do, open the book to a certain perk and tip for the day and trust that you will be given what you need.  You will find yourself coming back to this book day after day to read more uplifting perks and gain more healthy knowledge.

We write in a fun and lighthearted way that makes this book a pleasure to read.  But it is also filled with hundreds of serious cancer fighting health ideas, recipes, and lifestyle changes you can make very simply, to reduce your risk of cancer.
As health professionals we are continuing our lifelong mission to bring health and happiness to everyone and as cancer survivors ourselves, this is just what we are doing!

See more at the!

Florence Strang, (above) B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed, is a Registered Psychologist with 22 years of experience in the areas of Educational Psychology and School Counseling. Florence is the single mom to three great kids, an autism mom, an avid gardener, and a cancer survivor. She attributes her recovery from stage 3 breast cancer to a holistic approach to healing. Not only did Florence embrace traditional medical interventions, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she also addressed healing at the levels of mind and spirit. Daily meditation, prayer, visualizations, and forgiveness exercises, all played a key role in her survival plan. Florence’s story of battling cancer with an unwavering faith and an unbeatable positive attitude is told in Woman’s World Magazine © April 2012, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive ©2012. She is an award-winning blogger and the author of the newly released book 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It (Basic Health Publications, California).

Image of Susan Gonzalez

Susan Gonzalez, RN, BSN, was born in New York and has been and has been helping people get healthy for over 25 years. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 she turned her attention to educating people on how to reduce their risk of cancer using a holistic approach. She earned her plant-based nutrition certification from Cornell University and is the creator of MOON Organics, LLC, a 100% natural skin care company that uses only what nature provides. Her award-winning blog “The Savvy Sister”, has approx. 1 million hits and is entertaining but also teaches people simple “do-able” ways they can reduce their risk of disease while living a happy life. She currently lives in Atlanta Georgia with her husband and two daughters.


These two authors, Florence and Susan, did an amazing job of putting their story out there for all the world to read – and to encourage each of us to be healthy and happy, and to be the best we can be. Their journey is an inspiration to us all. The book is an emotional read, but graced with humor and healthy habits we should incorporate into our daily lives. 100 Perks is inspiring and a true testimony to what we can achieve through education, faith and optimism.

It is a book everyone should read and well worth 5 stars.

Click to Purchase on Kindle:

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Guest Post for My Life.  One Story at a time.

When I was first introduced to Donna’s blog, I was intrigued by its name:  My Life.  One Story at a Time.  At 47 years old, as I reflect back on my life, I recall the many stories that have become part of me; stories of falling in love, stories of having children, stories of my divorce, and stories of getting cancer, are among the most poignant ones.   Ironically enough, some of my best stories happened to me after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44.  I would like to share with you one such story, “How Flo Got Her Groove Back.”  You will be surprised to find out how I reconnected with my groove in the most unlikely of places!

Bio:  Florence Strang is a Registered Psychologist and award-winning breast cancer blogger (  While undergoing treatments for cancer, she challenged herself to find and blog 100 perks of having cancer, as a way to keep her spirits up.  Little did she know that not only would her writing keep her own spirits up, but also help thousands of others to find hope, humor and inspiration. Her book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, co-authored with Susan Gonzalez, is available at and

February 5th is World Cancer Awareness Day!


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Feel Good Factor in 30 Days by Andrea Morrison (Spotlight & Excerpt)

Sometimes life can be a continual treadmill that if you’re not careful can drag you down. The Feel Good Factor in 30 days puts the brakes on the negative spiral with light-hearted lessons that inject positivity and happiness into your everyday life.
Drawing on her own personal experience and journey from high flying barrister to burnout and then complete recovery, these lessons, with a wealth of practical examples, reflect the practices that Andrea Morrison uses in her own every day life and is written in an engaging style.

Eden House Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Andrea Morrison’s timely new book ‘Feel Good Factor in 30 Days’ on 20th January 2014.  The release date has been chosen to coincide with ‘Blue Monday’, which is said to be the most depressing day of the year*.

With honesty and warmth, holistic health expert Andrea Morrison shares her own ups and downs on her journey to changing her mindset and feeling good about life.  For a few years Andrea had been working long hours travelling the length and breadth of the country as a Barrister (think Wigs and Gowns) when she ended up with Pneumonia and then Chronic Fatigue.  Andrea describes this now ‘as the best thing to have happened to me, as I finally had to stop and this gave me the chance to become the person that I wanted to be.’

She exposed herself to everything and anything, neurolinguistic programming, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Pilates and many more which have all come together into this practical new book.  The book contains 30 practical lessons which are easy to follow and implement.  Andrea Morison says that ‘through this book that by taking lots of small actions that you can make a big change to your happiness.’

Book Reviews 

A Truth Universally Acknowledged Book Review ~ ‘With the New Year, a lot of people decide to make a fresh start. For some, it’s time to get serious about losing weight, for others it’s time to change their take on life, to create a new mindset. For these people, the Feel Good Factor in 30 Days might be just the book they need.’
‘Rich of her experience, Feel Good Factor in 30 Days gives the reader the tools to achieve a positive outlook on life.’

A Goddess of Literature Book Review ~ ‘Maybe your life isn’t miserable, but you find yourself plodding along from day-to-day not very happy with your situation in the world. If so, this book can definitely give you some food for thought.’

  • File Size: 447 KB
  • Print Length: 92 pages

So a little bit from Andrea Morrison ….

‘My journey started many, many years ago. I left school with mediocre qualifications and obtained a training contract with the local government, but I had a dream – a big dream. I had always wanted to be a Barrister since I was in junior school – but had been told by various teachers that ‘people like me do not do jobs like that’ and the schools I had attended were failing schools.
Then I met a kindred spirit! My husband wanted to travel, to do something different with our lives – so we combined it! After traveling around Europe and America, we back packed around South America and I went back to University to pursue my dream. I had already become successful in Local Authority and Durham University was quick to snap me up!

Fast forward several years and I really had it all. I was a Barrister in a fantastic local Chambers, I was Treasury Counsel appointed by the Attorney General, I had been led by a top employment QC, I was even in the Legal 500 – I was living my dream with a brilliant career ahead of me or so you might think. But something had dramatically changed in my life, I’d started a family, a family that I had desperately wanted and had battled through infertility to get – suddenly working ridiculous hours and travelling the length and breadth of the country was soul-destroying, handing over my children to (an amazing) child minder quite frankly broke my heart. Also during this time, my Father had died of cancer, he was a big influence in my life and then he was gone, it made me think about the fragility and shortness of life. I knew in ten years time, my children would be grown up and my relationship with them fragile if not nonexistent.

During 2008, after my third child, even though I was at my lowest ebb I gave it my all in my belief that if I did it I could finally balance it all. Be the mum I wanted to be and the Barrister I knew that I was – and create the home my family deserved (yes we embarked on a two story extension to our home!). But of course life isn’t like that, and I wasn’t superwoman and in November 2008 I ended up with pneumonia. I simply had burnt myself out.

It may be difficult to believe, but it was not a personal drive to be a ‘career women’ but a belief that I should be a career woman, to do anything else was a failure, a waste, that I was letting my family down both financially and emotionally. I had to carry on, to simply put my children first and be predominantly at home was simply not an option.

I stumbled through the following year, our marriage was facing a major crisis, a holiday finally highlighted to us that we were trying to do the impossible though neither of us wanted to accept that. The following months involved emotional circular discussions starting with my need to stop and finishing with the obvious fact I couldn’t because of our financial position. However, my health was deteriorating and I was literally coming to a standstill.

Eventually I stopped. In August 2009 I hit a crisis point, I could no longer carry on and I started a long-term sabbatical from the Bar. Over the following months whilst I held down a tutoring post at the University (which I loved) the rest of the time I felt like all my energy had been sapped from me and I experienced the most dreadful pain. It was like living with the worst possible type of ‘flu. In March 2010 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue. It was quite possibly the best thing to have happened, although I could barely walk 100m and taking the children to school had become exhausting. Finally, I had the chance to stop, to become the person I wanted to be.

I can only describe this part of my journey to be like peeling layers of an onion off one by one – there were lots of them, they were difficult to peel and many of them may make you cry! I realised that I had become completely depersonalised over the previous ten years –I would have to start to live – to feed my soul – to change my life. I decided to wind up my legal practice completely – a decision that would define my recovery – I could finally become better as there was now no expectation of a return to the person that I had been before.

My heart was telling me to pursue something completely different, reflexology, which sounded complete madness! I’m sure that those around me thought I had had some kind of breakdown, I hadn’t at all, but I had to agree it was the antipathy of Law! I started with a holistic massage course at a local college and even shocked myself when I found it really made my heart start to sing! This was closely followed by me undertaking a Reflexology Diploma at Jubilee College and in July 2012 Eden House Holistic opened for business.
Whilst physically my day-to-day was changing, so was I on the inside. I exposed myself to everything and anything – neurolinguistic programming, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Pilates, reiki and many more, both with practitioners and many, many books. The biggest change was that I no longer allowed others to influence my decisions – I realized that I had attracted many strong characters in my life who were quick to judge and quick to criticize my judgement. I decided, if I was happy with my decision, then I needed no further approval. Over the last four years, my judgement has proved to be sound and that now is good enough for me!

Today I can honestly say, that for the first time in many, many years I am happy and content. When people who haven’t seen me for some time meet me, the first thing they comment on is that I look so well and happy! I don’t know what the future holds but I no longer worry about it; I see challenges as opportunities a chance to grow even more! I now have a successful therapy business, I run our local Professional Reflexology Group which is thriving and in the New Year I am launching an online Holistic Therapy resource which is extremely exciting! But above all we have a happy family! What’s not to look forward to!!

One thing that my life has taught me, is that life is a journey, there are lessons to be learnt, but it is there to be enjoyed, no decision is truly final and where there is an end there is undoubtedly always a beginning.’

Connect with Andrea on Twitter: @EdenHsePublish

Here’s a little taste of ‘The Feel Good Factor in 30 days’… (and a personal favourite of Andrea’s)

Lesson Nineteen – D.I.S.C.O

‘She is D, delirious
She is I, incredible
She is S, superficial
She is C, complicated
She is O, oh, oh, oh’


You are probably thinking, she’s halfway through the book and she’s running out of ideas!  I haven’t though, honestly!  But music plays a big part in my life and I find it really affects how you can feel.

So, if you have a task ahead of you that is dragging you down or you are putting it off or if you are feeling stressed about something playing music can really help!

Obviously you need to choose the music to fit the situation – no rock and roll if you are trying to write a tricky report (but if it works for you, who am I to dictate?)

You will often find me in the kitchen, either cooking or cleaning (or decorating) with music that I can dance to blaring out.  This is to the embarrassment of my kids when I ask them to dance with me.  As they get older they have become less obliging, but when they do, we find ourselves rolling around giggling.  However, I find that afterwards, whatever it was that I had to do is done quicker and with far more grace!  It really lifts the mood, everyone is happier and we’ve had some fun (and isn’t that what life is all about?).

Equally, if I have a difficult piece of work to do, then putting some chilling music can help too, it quietens my stress responses so that I can concentrate on what I have to do.

So now’s the time to go through your music collection and dig out those tunes – nothing like having a bit of a bop to something you loved when you were younger!!

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It’s in The Little Things by Gayle Suzane (Excerpt & Guest Post)

It's in the Little Things by Gayle Suzanne on Closed the Cover

Do you believe a happy life is meant for others but not for you? Are you ready to shift energy and improve your life?

Our lives can be inundated with trials and pain. Somewhere in between our struggles we might lose hope for living a fulfilling, enjoyable life.  You may have suffered from bullying, addiction, rejection or other forms of hurt that has left you feeling badly about yourself.  We might believe that a happy life is meant for others but not for us.

It’s in the Little Things is a book about loving God, loving yourself, and loving others.  Through personal experiences, stories are shared that can transform your life.  Some stories are lighthearted and others are more emotional and deep.  Most have messages of how to appreciate seemingly insignificant events in life and how to take small steps to improve your circumstances.  These little things can have a profound impact on your life.  This book is designed to inspire, uplift and guide you toward a life you love.

  • File Size: 801 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages

Gayle Suzanne is a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (CPC, ELI-MP), workshop facilitator and speaker. She has a deep desire to help those with self-esteem issues and those who have dealt with rejection, bullying or emotional abuse. Gayle has a passion to empower and inspire people to see their gifts and talents and the beauty within. She has been described as compassionate, humorous, insightful and intuitive. She is a mother, wife and step-mother and lives in Charlton, Mass. She is a member of International Coaching Federation, New England Chapter.

Guest Post by Gayle Suzanne

I am entering my 50th year. My body is starting to show signs of aging.  I’ve had my share of aches and pains – jolting me into the reality that I’m not 20 years old anymore.  I now enjoy Sunday afternoon naps.  I prefer staying in on a Saturday night snug in my jammies by 7pm.   Appears that the tiny little lines near my eyes have settled in for the long haul, even though I’ve desperately tried to remove them with expensive cream.  The fact that I’ll have to go to my hairdresser every 6 weeks for the rest of my life to cover up the one inch gray halo that outlines the edge my face… and now I realize that my eyebrows need a color boost too (I tried plucking out all the gray but realize that if I continue I’d soon be eyebrowless…)  Things that were once perky are now droopy.  My once taut neck resembles something served at Thanksgiving dinner.  I’ve had to accept that I just don’t remember much anymore.  Sometimes I look at a piece of celery and can’t remember what it is.  The memory loss comes and goes.  This is my daughter’s pet peeve with me – she will tell me something 5 times and it just doesn’t register.  It’s not that I am intentionally forgetting, it’s like my brain is too full.   Then I’ll repeat the same thing 5 times in a row.  We’ll find the cell phone in the fridge or the car keys in the silverware drawer.   My vision is not great – one eye near sighted, the other far sighted.  I can’t hear much now either.  I mis-hear lots of stuff too. Lyrics to songs – forget it.  For years I sang the song In My Midnight Confession as Immaculate Conception!   I now appreciate Easy Spirit and Clark footwear.   My most recent sign of aging – if I laugh too hard sometimes I lose control and a piddle a little.  Ugh.

Yet in my heart I still feel as young and crazy as I did in college.  For over thirty years my college roommates and I have gone to Cape Cod for girls weekend. We are silly, zany and nuts – we crack up and love life.  We basically revert back to giddy teenagers (well, I do anyway).  We jump in bed with each other on Sunday morning, making goofs and tease and taunt.  It’s harmless fun – we go out to dinner and playfully fight for the front seat (well, I do anyway) come home, have a drinky poo, crank up the stereo and dance in the living room.  Last time the song Maniac from Flashdance blasted on the radio and we pulled out a portable potty and did the Chair Dance on it (well, I did anyway).  Last year I took a trip to Florida with my roommate.  Her condo happens to be right up the street from a former teen heartthrob – so what would a mature almost 50 year old woman do?   You got it –  we belted out “I Think I Love You” outside his house at 2 am.  Wonder why he didn’t come out and take a picture with us?  So, the next day we went back to his gated home and my friend (who I might add is 1 year and 2 months older than me) proceeded to dig through his garbage to find a souvenier for us to take home.  She came up empty handed as her search was cut short when a police car rounded the corner.  She literally had 3 seconds to run back to the car and shift into gear.  I didn’t witness the whole scene because I was scrunched down beneath the dashboard.  I do have my pride you know.

So even though my neck might wiggle a bit, I know at heart I’m young and fun and vibrant and free and certainly not feeling that I’ve been around for as long as I have.

Age really is just a number.

Galye Suzanne will be on tour along with a giveaway. The full tour schedule and rafflecopter can be found through this link:

Excerpt from It’s in The Little Things

The “Cool Crowd”
It is interesting to think about the whole concept of the “cool kids.” The ones I grew

up with picked on and humiliated some of the nicest kids I knew. Marie was picked on all through Junior High also. She was sweet, smart, kind, silly, and interesting. Her parents were strict and she was sheltered and shy. She minded her own business every day on the bus and during school, yet she was tortured every day. Some days watching her being tortured by other kids took the focus away from me and I felt relief because at least one person was picked on more than me. I always felt guilty about that, but she was my wall of safety. I remember one day we were on the bus on the way home from school and her stop was the street before mine. She was in front of me waiting to get off and the bus stopped short. She lost her footing and fell down the steps and her butt was stuck in between the door and the first step. Everyone behind me on the bus roared with laughter. That happened forty years ago and I still remember her face– the embarrassment, the shame, the humiliation. I still remember the vicious laughter surrounding her.

I’ve thought about that incident many times over the years. That fall could have happened to anyone standing in that spot. The cheerleader, the football quarterback, the pot head, the pageant queen. It was so unfortunate that it happened to Marie. I think of people that have been picked on and their lives may have been molded by the abuse they suffered. The image I had of myself was molded by others. I felt worthless, damaged and no good.

In more recent times, I recall an occasion when I was at a school sporting event. I was sitting alone on the field. Down the field there was a group of five women who usually sat together and always seemed like they were having a good time. I usually sat by myself or with another friend, yet I would say hi to the group of women as I walked by. This particular day my friend was not at the game so I sat near the other women and initiated a conversation. I tried to make small talk for a few minutes but did not get a warm response. I honestly felt like I was back in Junior High School. Their coolness implied that I was not good enough to be in their company. I was forty-one-years-old. I thought it was ridiculous. I felt slightly rejected and a small pang of hurt rushed through my body. I stayed where I was and did not continue in conversation. I sat quietly and watched the game. Then one of the mothers started saying negative comments about one of the kids on the field. As she rolled her eyes, she said in a rude and disgusted manner that the young girl was not running fast enough and should not be playing that position at all.

It’s in The Little Things has 23 5 star reviews. Check it out and purchase  It’s In The Little Thingshere:

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Tuna Breath: A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming of Age Story by Doug Pedersen

Title: Tuna Breath

Genre: Memoir

Author: Doug Pedersen

Publisher: Balboa Press

Pages: 162

Language: English


Written from the unique experiences of Doug Pedersen, this self-improvement book-disguised as a memoir-is at once funny, poignant, and generous, while offering genuine advice. Providing intimate insights into being a “super fat kid,” and insecure teenager, and an over-aggressive, angry, and ironically arrogant Marine who was full of self-pity, Doug shares the negative emotional drivers and responses that drove him through a “binge eating life” before finding physical health, emotional balance, and spiritual wholeness. Tuna Breath invites us to intimately observe a troubling life journey in which the lessons to be learned are truly visceral and inspirational.

Purchase your copy:

Tuna Breath: A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming of Age Story

Doug Pedersen is the founder of PLAYGROUND: GLOBAL (PGG), a research and education company. His own history with childhood obesity and study of human nature fuels his writing, speech topics, and teachings. Doug teaches “The Art of the Personal Turnaround” and frequently uses innovative techniques taken from the practice of Strategic Intervention and Human Needs Psychology to help people improve, heal and live their lives with outstanding quality. Currently, Doug is helping people see that the health of their emotional state is the real invisible battleground in their lives through his latest book “TUNA BREATH: A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming Of Age Story.” Doug resides with his wife and two year-old son in the Washington, DC area.

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A tribute to Sentry

Sentry passed away three years ago right before Christmas, after being a loyal companion for 7 years of my life. I found this story while perusing my other blog and decided to post it. There were a lot of adventures involving Sentry. I got Calypso and Ryka two months after Sentry passed and they have been a blessing,  but I sometimes wish Sentry could have known them. I miss her dearly.
How do I start except for saying my poor dog. First, she fell off of the wharf on Sunday and last night she got locked in my husband’s workshop for the night. I was teaching religion and while I was gone, it started thundering, which Sentry is deathly afraid of, so she kept following my husband, Jeffery, in and out of his workshop. Once she observes a routine, she becomes complacent so she must have stayed inside for a while and when he closed up, she got locked in. That was around 7pm last night because that’s when I drove up and I assumed she was under the house because of the rain. 

     This morning I went out to walk and I called and called and rang the bell – no Sentry. I looked under the house, in her house, in the barn – no Sentry. By this time I am getting frantic (remember, I am SO good in a crisis) and I am almost in tears telling hubby that he has to come and help me because I can’t find her. THEN, the idea came to me that she may be in the workshop (has happened before) and so I knocked on the door and she started whimpering. She doesn’t bark when I call her; which I do not understand. It would make my life so much easier. I wouldn’t have to panic quite as often. 
When I opened the door and out she ran, she followed my trail back and forth and round and round before she came to me. That trail was a definite indication of how frantic I was quickly becoming. She is perfectly fine now but probably won’t go in to the workshop for a while. It’s strange how every dog I’ve had has managed to get themselves locked in the barn. You would think that would be the first place I’d look!

Getting back to our Sunday event when Sentry toppled off of the wharf – what a frantic time again! My husband and I were sitting in the swing on the wharf enjoying the slight breeze and peacefulness. Sentry was lying in her usual spot – the edge of the wharf – watching the fish jump and the minos swim by. She is fascinated by them. It all happened so quickly that I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I knew is that she was in the bayou! She just seemed to roll right off of the wharf and SPLASH!

     Of course, I am sooooooo very helpful in a crisis. I did the only thing I could think of – I started screaming! Now, we all know how much that helped. My husband was sitting right next to me – I am fairly certain my screaming did nothing to alert him to what he had already ascertained – the dog was in the water. Now most people probably wouldn’t panic. They know dogs can swim but you have to remember – this is MY dog and she’s never been in anything deeper than the ten inch ditch in the back yard; and that, she just splashes in. She still had her leash on – thank goodness – so we (make that hubby, not screaming me) were able to guide her around the pilings and the crab trap and the fishing line, 20 feet down the wharf to ground. None the worse for wear, she shook a few times and went right back to her spot, you guessed it, on the edge of the wharf. 
     Fortunately, life went quickly back to normal and we went back to swinging. (Little did I know that there would soon be another crisis…….)


The Twisting Knife

I began this story at the Anhinga Writer’s Conference in Gainesville, Florida in August 2009. I finished work on it in December 2009. The lecturer was an animated woman by the name of Beverly. She was very good at getting us to think and to write on the spot. The difference between me and everyone else in the class is that my brain didn’t quite think like theirs. This is my story. I guess I should also add that I write nonfiction.

The Twisting Knife (December 2009)
      The lecturer stood poised behind the podium and for a moment looked as though she were about to begin her lecture. Suddenly, she pulled a butcher knife from under her notes and began wielding it at the class.
     As she stepped from behind the podium and began advancing towards us, a demonic look overcame her ordinarily placid face. Her mouth was moving and from previous experience with this lecturer, I knew she was giving instructions to write, but my mind had already taken me elsewhere. As I was fading from the present I imagined what direction my fellow writers might take, already knowing my mind was taking me somewhere far different.
     As I watched her advancing towards me, my eyes were transfixed by the blade of the knife gleaming under the intense fluorescent light. It was as though the knife was set on its own course and that course was my delicate heart.
     The sounds around me began to vanish as the blood began pulsing in my ears, my vision receding as if I were barreling backward into a dark tunnel. I was being transported back in time to a place long since hidden away in the recesses of my very being. The knife appeared to leave her hand set on reaching its destination; and as it pierced my heart, it began to twist and the remembrance of emotional pain taking my breath away as it had that night so many years ago. I began to feel dizzy as I was transported, if only for a moment, to a place in my past and the voice I was hearing was that of my abuser, his words tearing apart my heart. As swiftly as the knife penetrated my heart, it was also withdrawn, leaving me breathlessly in the present. 
     As the others began to read their hastily written, humorous stories, I knew I was right. Mine would be very different.



Review: In Capable Arms by Sarah Kovac

Sarah Kovac was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a rare congenital birth defect that left her with arms that she could barely use.

Growing up, she was the only one in her class with a disability, setting her apart as “different” and unpopular. Realizing her unique place in the world, Sarah began adapting, working to her strengths, and eventually learned to use her feet to do such activities as changing her son’s diapers, making dinner, putting on makeup, and
even typing on the computer–even as she grew in spiritual and emotional maturity and independence in exceptional ways.

Picked up by national news network CNNSarah’s story went viral and she was suddenly presented with a platform from which to share her love for GodIn Capable Arms brings readers on Sarah’s journey, crying with her through intense frustration and the desire to be perfect, cheering her through physical training and pain, and admiring her eventual spiritual surrender as she let go of her insecurities and let God use her . . . even her crippled arms. Sarah brings readers face to face with their own struggles,
challenges them with questions about self-worth and fear, then offers guidance,
wisdom, and inspiration for finding hope—and healing—in the arms of the One who
loves them no matter what.

Sarah Kovac was born with AMC, a rare congenital birth defect that left her with arms that she could barely use. Realizing her unique place in the world, Sarah began adapting, working to her strengths, and eventually learned to use her feet to do such activities as changing her son’s diapers, making dinner, putting on makeup, and typing on the computer. Picked up by national news network CNN, Sarah’s story went viral and she was suddenly presented with a platform from which to share her love for God.

Sarah believes everyone faces tremendous obstacles, and that her life with a disability often visibly mirrors the invisible struggles even people with perfectly functioning bodies must work through. While she recognizes her story as unique, she believes her experiences can encourage people of all abilities and experiences.

Click here to read an excerpt:


I haven’t quite finished IN CAPABLE ARMS, but what I have read is outstanding. I am definitely giving this book a five star review. IN CAPABLE ARMS is written from the heart with a deep-felt honesty that by-passes so many people. Sarah Kovac was dealt a harsh hand by being born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a rare congengenital birth defect, but being the remarkable young woman she is, it is clear in her writing that she has discovered that God has a purpose in her life and her faith is inspiring. The author has wisdom and great maturity as you will see by the following quote:

Today, many are concerned about political correctness. Nobody wants to use the wrong terminolgy and offend somebody. Are we disabled? Persons with disabilities? Differently abled? The term I grew up with was handicapped. Being labeled anything at all made me cringe. It was a long time before I was able to come to terms withe the fact that the world runs on labels and biases simply to keep things and people categorized, not usually out of cruelty.”

This one paragraph opened my eyes. I personally never looked at the world this way, but as I read and then re-read this one paragraph, I was astounded at the truth. There are a great many eye-opening statements in IN CAPABLE ARMS that as a reader, you will want to re-read and then sit and ponder what you have just read.

The author writes poignantly about her perfectionism (which many of us suffer from) and her words left me stunned and re-thinking my own quest for perfectionism.

“Perfectionism is a pride thing. So not cute. The only way I’ve been able to find genuine growth in these areas has been to begin seeing that y character is simply the sum of my decisions. I’ve tried to think of the person I’d like to be and just acted like that person with this decision in front of me, whatever it is. If kindness is an area in which I’d like to grow, I challenge myself, not to be a ‘kind person,’ but to be kind at this moment…If I choose differently one day at a time, act like the person I want to be decision after decision, pretty soon I’m not acting. If I can continually ask myself, ‘Can I love this person? Can I tell the truth right now? Can I make a responsible choice just for today?’ in time, my choices will start adding up to someone different. The future blooms from the seeds of now. In the dysfunction of my perfectionism, I wasn’t planting. 

I know as I continue to read that there will be more “light-bulb” moments. It is that kind of book. IN CAPABLE ARMS by Sarah Kovac deserves nothing but five stars. It is truly a “life embraced by Grace.”

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I received a copy of this boob in exchange for an honest review.

by: Donna McBroom-Theriot/ @MyBookofStories

Follow @MyBookofStories


         One of my sisters took my mother to have a test run at the hospital this week. It was either a nerve test or a brain test. It escapes me at this moment.

         We already know she has nerve so that may not have been the test. Then, after you look at the picture below, you will see why it must have been a brain test and why this phrase, borrowed from the Wizard of Oz, seems so appropriate: “If I only had a brain”.



After viewing this photo, the after affects of having collided with a curb and using her face as a shield to the – brain? – itleads me to the conclusion that I have inherited my pension for accidents – clumsiness, lack of grace – from my mother. Hence, “If I only had a brain”.

         After I was diagnosed with two rare blood disorders, she was worried that she had somehow passed a defective gene on to me. I assured her that she had not; but she had passed something far worse on to me – clumsiness! It seems as though my grandmother also suffered her share of falls.

         If you recall – and I’m sure you can, but if you can’t, here is the link: My Life. One Story at a Time.: Elderly Entertainment, my mother suffered another fall two years ago. She took a nosedive down the steps attempting to use her head as landing gear. Sadly, I do not have a photo to compare to this one. I assure you that it was just as bad, even requiring stitches.

         I haven’t quite figured out what is Southern about this story, other than some of us Southerners were born without the grace factor that I tend to associate with Southerness. Try as I might, an easy, gracefulness escapes me. Hubby says I prance. I don’t think that qualifies as gracefulness, however, it does qualify for the raison d’être I have suffered my own litany of accidents – bruised rotor cup, dislocated fingers, fractured fingers, injured ligaments, nerve damage to a hand…the list goes on. I remember being called into the doctor’s office and isolated from Hubby while they inquired whether I was being abused or had been abused. The ludicrously of the entire scenario had me laughing hysterically. That may have given them the impression that I was a bit loony. Oh well – at least they didn’t schedule a “brain test”.

         Getting back to my Mother, fortunately, for her, this fall took place at the hospital. She had an entire staff of nurses who came running to her rescue – which reminds me, I still have not figured out where my sister was while all of this was happening. All my mother wanted to do was continue on to her appointment – gotta find out about that brain. The nursing staff had other plans – which included several hours in the Emergency Room and a re-scheduled appointment. Mother is back home, stiff as a board, and sporting lots of bandages.

         Not to be left out of the excitement, my Godfather, her brother, was in an accident Tuesday morning. While driving over an overpass, he rear-ended a truck as he was cresting the bridge, causing a four-truck accident with at least two totaled vehicles. I am now realizing that I forgot to ask why the traffic was stopped in the first place. He’s home and doing fine. He phoned me yesterday and then again this morning. He ended our phone call so his wife could clean and re-bandage his wounds – so he may not be doing so fine at this particular moment; especially if he looks like his sister – and I’ve been told he actually looks worse.


Bumper Cars!

         Aging should not be about competition and comparing wounds – Bumper Cars and Skip the Curb? Will these siblings ever grow up?

         That’s what is going on in the South. What is going on in your neck of the woods (to quote Al Roker)?


Thursdays – Where Truth is the Dare

Question of the Day: Where Truth Is the Dare   [QUES OF THE DAY] [Paperback]

It’s Thursday again – and we all know what that means!

Here is this week’s question.

Truth? or Dare?

What do you keep in a safe place?

When I read this question, my immediate response before contemplating a deep answer was “my heart”. Even after contemplating and attempting to come up with a one of a kind unique answer, I have to stick with my first. I keep my heart in a safe place – most of the time. It comes from experiencing a lot of hurt in my life. It is a defense mechanism for me and it is just who I am.

I look forward to hearing your answers! 

Thank you all for participating.

Thursday – Where Truth is the Dare

Question of the Day: Where Truth Is the Dare   [QUES OF THE DAY] [Paperback]

It’s Thursday again – and we all know what that means!

Here is this week’s question.

Truth? or Dare?

What are you hoping for?

(Hoping, not trying to make happen.)

I am hoping for my blood platelet count to stabilize and quit fluctuating and increasing. (I have Essential Thrombocythemia; my blood marrow makes too many platelets.)

(Only God can make that happen.)

Thank you all for participating.

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Sunday’s From the Heart – Sometimes when life gives you lemons, do you make lemonade or do you just throw ‘em away?

March 4, 2012

             Last week, although it seems like so much longer, I was diagnosed with Essential Thrombocythemia, an uncommon disorder where the blood marrow produces too many blood platelets. The exact cause is unknown (and doesn’t that just make you feel better). I went to the oncologist thinking I would get a simple diagnosis and a simple fix – like you’re too fat, go on a diet; or you can’t see, get glasses; or you can’t hear, get a hearing aid. What I was not prepared for was the conversation I had with the doctor. Since then, I have to admit, I have been a little crazy (lots crazy). Death keeps flashing before my eyes, along with nightmares at night, and my mind won’t rest. I know it is because it is all so new and eventually my insides and my mind will calm down.

             It was daunting to have an oncologist have this long word coming out of his mouth and still more daunting to know he was talking to me (kind of like the wonk, wonk in the Charlie Brown shows). I have always said that if I were ever diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, I wasn’t sure if I would take treatments to prolong my life. I would leave it in God’s hands. Then, all of a sudden, I am diagnosed with an uncommon blood disorder and it could progress to the point I would need chemotherapy. I think I may be starting to rethink that decision. Amazing, when death is at your door, you start to reconsider what you considered to be well thought out decisions.

             At this point, I still have not wrapped my head around what is going on. It all came about so nonchalantly. Hubby and I applied for long-term health care insurance (for when we get OLD, NOT now). He was accepted, and even received an above average rating. I received a letter from the principal. It stated I had been denied coverage due to having abnormally high blood platelet results on my blood work. It seems my platelet count has doubled in the last eighteen months to almost 700,000, and there is really nothing I can do to stop it. My doctor has me taking a low dose aspirin hopefully to prevent the platelets from forming blood clots. Other than that, the only thing left to do is monitor the platelet count (and pray). (When the platelet count rises to 900,000-1,000,000, then treatments are decided. This is one time when you do not want to be a member of the millionaires club.

             I’ve been spending a lot of time the last few days thinking and rethinking about whether I would take chemotherapy treatments, when it comes to that. The drugs increase a person’s chances of developing Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that progresses rapidly) or Myelofibrosis (a progressive bone marrow disorder results in bone marrow scarring, severe anemia, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.) Not a lot of choices there to choose from.

             I find myself suddenly rethinking my position on not taking life-prolonging treatments. I am finally re-building my relationship with my younger daughter and I want to spend time with her doing all the mother/daughter things we had stolen from us. I want to teach her to cook different recipes of mine that she loves. I have a relationship to mend with my oldest daughter.

             I have also been wondering if this has happened because I’ve spent a large part of my life (mostly when I was deeply depressed) wishing it had been me rather than my sister who died of Leukemia. I wonder also if it’s because I have been so adamant in my decision not to do anything to prolong my life if I became sick. At the moment, I find myself quite confused and uncertain.

             The oncologist’s office is located in the cancer center at Ochsner Hospital, which is detached from the hospital. I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did when I walked through the doors. I hadn’t given it much thought before I got there. I felt as though I were walking into a brick wall. Either it is a building where life ends, or the struggle for life is being fought. I had one of those moments where my life flashed before my eyes and I had to sit down. I’ve been having a lot of those moments lately (been doing a lot of sitting).

             I think about the rebuilding of my relationship with my youngest daughter. It is still on precarious ground at times. Will I have time to break past the barriers that stand between us? Will I have the time to get her to realize that not everything she believes is necessarily true, that her trust was misused and the result was the separation between us? Will we have the time to rebuild our relationship?

             Then, there is my oldest daughter. She hasn’t spoken to me in ten years. I have two beautiful grandchildren whom I have never met and a daughter who doesn’t want me in her life. I need to repair my relationship with my oldest daughter. I put my relationship and our healing in God’s hands a long time ago. The broken heartedness is bigger than anything a human is capable of healing. I love her more than life itself and I think she hates me about that much. I was the best mother I knew how to be, but I made mistakes and she has been less than forgiving. I do not blame her. She has also had her trust abused. The disheartening thing about someone abusing your trust, sometimes you don’t know they are doing it. I’ll take her wrath. I want to make amends. I want the hole in my heart to fill and I want the hole in her heart to mend.

             Then, lots of crazy thoughts enter your mind. The doctor prescribed a low dose aspirin for me take each day. When there is an overload of platelets, they tend to stick together and cause clotting. We all know what that mean, heart attacks, strokes, etc. I was standing at the counter about to take that one little tiny aspirin and I briefly thought (crazy thoughts) that maybe I should take more than one to get a jump on the clots. Don’t laugh until you tell me that you have stood there under the same circumstances and NOT thought that same thought. Then, rationality sunk in and I took one little bitty tablet.

             A few months ago, I became obsessed with going through everything I own and getting rid of the clutter. We never know when it will be our turn and I didn’t want someone to have to deal with all my “papers” I save and all the stuff that I think that I cannot live without (and truly can). My intuition has always been on the mark, even though I haven’t always figure it out at the moment it’s happening. Was my intuition running amuck or on overtime? But, then again, I love cleaning and organizing and go through spurts of this behavior on a frequent basis.

             I have actually been experiencing many of the symptoms associated with ET. I’ve just been blaming them on other things. I’m always bruising myself (can’t seem to stay away from corners) and my vision goes cockeyed at times. I find myself telling myself I need to put my glasses on so I can see and turns out they are on my face. I have arthritis in my hands and I contributed the numbing and tingling to that. I knew the pain was arthritis so I grouped the symptoms together. There are some other things but I won’t bore you with those.

             I will include a link to the Mayo Clinic if you’d like to read more about Essential Thrombocythemia. I am not good about asking for things for myself, but I am going to now. If you have a prayer list going on, I would appreciate it if you would add me to it. Also, if you have any information on ET, I would appreciate you leaving a link. Thanks.

Definition of Essential Thrombocythemia: Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is an uncommon disorder in which your body produces too many blood platelets (thrombocytes). It’s also known as primary thrombocythemia (throm-bo-sigh-THE-me-uh). Essential thrombocythemia is one of a group of diseases of the blood and bone marrow known as myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Symtoms: Many people with essential thrombocythemia have no signs or symptoms. The first indication you have the disorder may be the development of a blood clot (thrombus). Although clots can develop anywhere in your body, with ET, they occur most often in your brain, hands and feet.

Signs and symptoms depend on where the clot forms. They include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Temporary vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
  • Redness, throbbing and burning pain in the hands and feet (erythromelalgia)
  • Mildly enlarged spleen

Causes: Bone marrow — spongy tissue inside your bones — contains stem cells that can become red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. Platelets travel through your blood vessels. They stick together to form clots that stop the bleeding when you damage a blood vessel, such as when you get a cut. A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.

If you have essential thrombocythemia, your bone marrow makes too many platelet-forming cells (megakaryocytes), which release too many platelets into your blood. The excess platelets may not function normally, leading to abnormal clotting or bleeding.

The exact cause of ET and other myeloproliferative neoplasms isn’t known. About half the people with the disorder have a mutation of the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene. Other gene mutations also have been associated with ET. The role of these mutations in causing the disease is still being investigated. A rare form of thrombocythemia is inherited.

A high platelet count that’s caused by an underlying condition such as an infection or iron deficiency is called reactive or secondary thrombocytosis.

The abnormal blood clotting of essential thrombocythemia can lead to a variety of potentially serious complications, including:

  • Pregnancy complications. Uncontrolled thrombocythemia can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), early separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption) and slow fetal growth. If you have ET and become pregnant, be sure your doctor monitors you carefully throughout your pregnancy.
  • Stroke. A clot that blocks blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke. If you develop signs and symptoms of a stroke, get immediate medical attention.
  • Heart attack. A clot that obstructs blood flow to your heart can cause a heart attack. If you develop signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest lasting more than a few minutes; pain extending to your shoulder, arm, back, teeth or jaw; shortness of breath; and sweating or clammy skin, get immediate medical attention.

Essential thrombocythemia can also cause bleeding (hemorrhage) with significant blood loss. A small minority of people with ET may later develop acute leukemia or myelofibrosis, both of which can be life-threatening:

  • Acute leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that progresses rapidly.
  • Myelofibrosis. This progressive bone marrow disorder results in bone marrow scarring, severe anemia, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.

Treatment and Drugs: Treatment of essential thrombocythemia depends on your risk of blood-clotting or bleeding episodes. If you’re younger than 60, have had no signs or symptoms and have no other risk factors for developing blood clots, such as smoking, you may simply need periodic medical checkups. If you’re older than 60 and have had previous signs and symptoms of blood clots, your doctor likely will prescribe medication or a medical procedure to lower your platelet count. Your doctor may also recommend treatment if you have cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

If you’re at risk of blood clots, your doctor may recommend low-dose aspirin, particularly if you’re pregnant. Aspirin makes the platelets less sticky and your blood less likely to form clots. If you take aspirin during pregnancy, stop taking it at least one week before delivery to lower your risk of bleeding complications during delivery.

Drugs that reduce the platelet count and are commonly used to treat ET include:

  • Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea). This drug suppresses bone marrow production of blood cells, including platelets. Also used to treat cancers, it’s the most commonly prescribed platelet-lowering drug for ET. It’s often used in combination with low-dose aspirin. If you take hydroxyurea, your doctor will monitor your blood counts closely. There’s some concern that long-term use may increase the risk of developing acute myelogenous leukemia.
  • Anagrelide (Agrylin). Unlike hydroxyurea, anagrelide isn’t associated with an increased risk of leukemia. But it’s not considered as effective as hydroxyurea. Side effects may include fluid retention, heart problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea.
  • Interferon alfa-2B (Intron A). Given by injection, this drug is less convenient to administer than hydroxyurea or anagrelide, may be more expensive and may cause less tolerable side effects. Side effects may include flu-like symptoms, confusion, nausea, depression, diarrhea, seizures, irritability and sleepiness.

Used only in emergencies, such as after a stroke or other dangerous blood clotting, a medical procedure known as plateletpheresis can be used to rapidly lower platelet count. During the procedure, an intravenous (IV) needle connected to a tube is inserted into one of your blood vessels. Your blood flows through the tube and into a device that removes platelets from your blood. The remaining portion of your blood (plasma) and your red cells are then returned to you through an IV line. The effect is temporary.

Essential thrombocythemia — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of this blood clotting disorder. 


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My Crazy Life – I’m sorry, I love you, Help me

December 17, 2011

“Did you know the people that are usually the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the one who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their genuine smile and see how much pain they may be in.”

            I took the above quote from a friend’s page on Face book. I thought it was interesting and in MY opinion, quiet true. In so far as it pertains to me, people have always thought I am strong person, and I am, don’t get me wrong; but it doesn’t mean I am not also sensitive. You can hurt my feelings in a snap if you aren’t careful. And, I do not have a “poker face” so you will know when you have hurt my feelings.

I agree that some of the kindest people I know are the first to be mistreated, used, and abused. I could site many examples here, but being the sensitive person I am, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Have you ever had a person hug you and you hugged them back only to realize that they really needed to feel someone’s arms around them, no matter how brief the moment. That statement was true as well.

“I love you”, “I’m sorry”, and “help me” must be the three hardest words for someone to say, because how many times do you hear it? How many times do you hear someone say, “I was wrong”? I would say not many. I do not find it difficult to say, “I’m sorry.” Twenty years of meanness and never once hearing that person say “I’m sorry” taught me how important it is to say those words and not only to say them, but to mean them.

I also learned the value of admitting that I am wrong. It is life freeing to admit you are wrong or you don’t know something, especially to someone who thinks they know it all. “I love you” is more difficult for me. I’ve been burned a lot in my life so I tend to hesitate before saying those words. I also hesitate before saying, “help me.” I learned to be self-sufficient at an early age and relying on others does not come easy to me.

Then, there is the last statement: “Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their genuine smile and see how much pain they may be in.” This is something people just do not do. There is a phrase that says something like “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Apparently not, because if it were true, my pain would be like a beacon, flashing like the light on top of a lighthouse.

Go ahead and read the paragraph again.

“Did you know the people that are usually the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the one who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their genuine smile and see how much pain they may be in.”

            Do you know a strong person? Do you know someone who is mistreated because of their kindness? Do you have someone in your life who needs someone to care for them? Is there someone you need to tell, “I love you” to? Or “I’m sorry?” Are you someone who needs help? Try looking past someone’s smile this holiday season to see if they need a little love.

If you are reading this, I hope you take a moment to reflect and leave a comment. Thanks. Happy Holidays.



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