Food

Hello Fresh Review

Look what landed on our front porch!

First and foremost, this post is NOT sponsored. In any way. This is my honest opinion.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Karen, you’re one of the cheapest people on Earth, why in the world would you try Hello Fresh?”

Thanks for asking, friends, I’ll give you a few reasons.

  1. Because I was curious.
  2. Because I’m sick and tired of eating out and wanted something healthy
  3. Because a favorite YouTuber offered a discount code and I have trouble passing up a deal.

So yeah, I bit the bullet and signed up for Hello Fresh.

Kevin thought it would be fun to film us cooking the first recipe. It’s pretty obvious we’re not experts but you know what? We had fun and that’s all that matters.

We’ve tried five recipes so far:

Salsa Verde Enchiladas – I gave it four stars out of five. I don’t know that Kevin really liked this recipe all that much – it didn’t have meat, just a lot of beans, that I paid for later on in the week. *ahem* (We didn’t get a picture of this recipe)

Chicken Gyro Couscous Bowl – I REALLY liked this recipe. We happened to cook it on a really hot day and it was a perfect dinner as it was more of a cool salad-type meal. I gave that one 4 out of five stars.

Hone Thyme Pork Tenderloin was the third recipe. We diced sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts, which I’ve never had before, and Kevin cooked the pork tenderloin on the grill. It was probably my least favorite. I gave it three out of five stars. Not that it was bad, just kind of bland. I will say though, I REALLY enjoyed the roasted brussels sprouts, I liked the charred taste, and the sweet potatoes were also really good, which makes me want to have them more often.

Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti was the fourth recipe. I REALLY liked this one as well and gave it 4.5 stars out of five. Again, Kevin cooked the chicken on the grill (it’s really the only way to prepare meat, in my opinion) and I cooked the zucchini and the noodles. Something about this recipe that I found really cool, was making a sauce and then tossing the fully cooked spaghetti noodles into the sauce. It re-hydrated the noodles and the pasta soaked up the flavored liquid which really gave it a good taste.

Pork Carnitas Tacos was okay. I gave it three out of five stars. The pork was crumbled and I “pickled” the onions in a white wine vinegar liquid which was an interesting taste. But it tasted a bit like hamburger helper, to be frank.

(We didn’t even try to make this picture pretty – I was over it by then and I said, “screw it, just use a paper plate”)

We also discovered Poblano peppers. Kevin and I have never had those before, at least, to our knowledge, they were in the Pork Tacos and we REALLY liked the taste of them. We will definitely use those in some of our recipes instead of plain green peppers.

We got another box today with Beef and Veggie Bibimbap and Blackened Chicken Penne recipes that we’ll try this week. I’m not a big beef fan so I’m not really looking forward to that one, but any chicken and pasta dish and I’m ALL about it.

Okay, let’s real talk here:

Cons

(I’m starting with cons because I feel like it outweighs the pros, overall)

Price – By FAR the biggest con, in my opinion.

So the discount code made the first box, of two meals, come to $28.00. The second box of three meals was $32.00. And the reason we got three meals the second go around was because for a low, low price of $1.50 per person, we could get a third meal and we were like, “why not?” The price is really not that bad – we figured we end up spending about $15 to $20 per meal for both us when we go out anyway. And this is healthy food so .. why not. The third box, which came today, cost $45.00 for two meals. And the reason it’s more is because my discount code is less on the third and fourth deliveries. The price will jump to about $60 bucks once the discount – FOR TWO MEALS.

Now I can not justify that price, really for any reason.

We have one more week with a discount and I’m really not sure if we’ll do it or not. We’re on the fence about it. We’ll see how it goes.

Cook Time

If you’re thinking getting Hello Fresh delivered to you will save you time, think again. On average, each meal took about 10 minutes to prep and between 25 – 35 minutes to cook. Now you’re coming up on an hour each night before you have a chance to sit down and eat. And let’s not forget the clean up. True. You don’t have to make a special trip to the store to buy the ingredients but let’s face it, if you plan ahead you can buy the ingredients when you have to go to the store anyway so …

Pros

Convenience – It’s delivered to your door. You don’t have to spend time hunting for specific ingredients at the store, it’s literally dropped at your door. Also, it’s fun to choose your recipes from the site every week.

Selection – The Hello Fresh website has a fantastic selection to choose from. They give you a list of recipes to choose from each week and they have meat/veggies/ vegetarian / and other diet options for those that can’t, or won’t, eat certain foods. All of the recipes look delicious and definitely not recipes we would try otherwise on our own.

Fresh Ingredients – All of the ingredients that have come with the recipes have been top notch. The meat/veggies have been fresh and really tasty. Absolutely no complaints there.

Portion Size – All of the ingredients have been perfectly measured out and make two nice-sized meals. Nothing goes to waste and we don’t have extra of something that will sit in the fridge, go bad and get tossed.

Cancel Anytime – Which we will be doing very soon. However, I will keep an eye out and use discount codes as I come across them as it would be fun to do Hello Fresh once in a while. Definitely not every week.

I know there are more pros than cons and I said in my opinion there are more cons than pros, but I just can’t past the price. To me, it’s just not worth spending that much money on.

However, if you live in the boonies, or you have a very busy schedule and don’t have a lot of time to plan your meals or shop for ingredients, this would be a great option.

I have to admit, though, I HATE to cook. And I mean – I. HATE. TO. COOK. I hate everything about it. I hate the time it takes to cook. I hate the fact that it literally takes you ten minutes to consume something that took you close to an hour to make. And I hate the clean up. I would rather grab something to eat and get it over with in the fraction of the time it takes you to make something from scratch.

Overall, it’s been a fun, and delicious, experiment. Again, Kevin and I have tried things we wouldn’t normally ever try and that’s always a plus in my (recipe) book.

Life, Work Stuff

My Days as a Healthcare Worker are Numbered

Well. It has begun. The threat to fire people if they don’t get the jab. I think this might be the beginning of the end for me.

A hospital in Houston Texas has made a line in the sand – get the jab on or before June 7th or lose your job. The article states that 4 out of 5 employees have gotten the jab and “One hospital administrator said that getting vaccinated is a part of the sacred oath healthcare to do everything possible to keep patients safe and healthy.”

On one hand, I totally get that. You don’t want to inadvertently make someone in the hospital even more sick by introducing a virus to an already compromised immune system. Also:

“As the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is: do no harm, vaccine safety must be guaranteed. That has not yet happened. More studies of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy should be conducted and published and more transparency about possible risks provided to the public before Americans enter the largest experimental medication program in our history.” Source

But on the other hand, I have a lot of questions. And the fact that we rolled this out, so quickly, with no trials, under Emergency Use for a disease that has a 99.5% recovery rate for a person of my age, seems … excessive.

I’m not willing to be a human Guinea pig. I would prefer to wait and see what the long-term repercussions will be, if any, and would like to see some successful trials first before considering the “vaccine.” In addition, I’m not totally comfortable with the mRNA factor of this “vaccine” and the fact that it contains little to no dead Coronavirus is enough for me to say, “No thanks.”

If you don’t know a lot about the experimental injectable, and why would you? The media continues to do a bang-up job of keeping information from the public, I encourage you to read the white paper on experimental vaccines for COVID-19 published by the American Frontline Doctors. It has a lot of interesting, and informative, information about this injectable that everyone has a right know. It’s not called “informed consent” for nothing, folks.

From the American Frontline Doctors’ website:

“There have been many post-vaccination questions. We will keep adding Q/A to this list. The fundamental problem with releasing medications that have not been fully researched is we don’t know what we don’t know. AFLDS is highly concerned about what we don’t know!” Source

And that’s my biggest hesitation – WE SIMPLY DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS TO ENCOURAGE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO GET IT.

Why are people like me being demonized simply because we have questions??

My being against this experimental injectable does not mean I’m an anti-vaxxer – in fact, I daresay MOST people who are refusing to take the jab are not anti-vaxxers, we, – I – am simply asking for more information and for the vaccine to be run through it’s normal paces and treated as every other vaccine that is out there and approved by the FDA. I am all for vaccines for polio, small pox, measles, etc., overall Those diseases are way more serious than COVID, at least according to research and statistics at the time of this writing, and it makes sense to stop those more serious diseases in their tracks. But this virus, though deadly to some, overall, is not as deadly to all.

And if I’ve learned anything at all in healthcare – there is no one size fits all answer when it comes to people’s health. Healthcare is a pretty shade of grey – it’s not black and white.

I am not criticizing people who have gotten the jab. I am not trying to scare people who have gotten the jab – you have made the decision that you think is right for you and your family. Awesome. That’s how it should be. I respect your decision – please respect mine.

And if this issue stopped there, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now. But, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I don’t tend to go quietly into the night on stuff that I’m passionate about.

I respect people’s rights to make their own decisions and live their best lives. I may not always agree with people’s decisions but who cares, I’m nobody. Ultimately, it’s none of my business what you do in your life – your decision, your consequence.

However –

Once you take my right to choose away, IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. And that’s how I feel about this whole vaccine passport and mandatory vaccines at work issue.

When you force people to do what you want and if they don’t you will penalize them in some way, that’s called coercion.

And I don’t respond well to this type of bullying.

Also, what happened to “my body, my choice?” Where are all the pro-lifers out there? Why aren’t they throwing a fit because the government is threatening lifestyle choices, (no cruises, no sporting events, no concerts – no job), unless you take the jab? So, it’s only my body, my choice under certain circumstances? That doesn’t make sense. You can’t pick and choose your definitions.

At least, you shouldn’t be able to – though to be fair, people do it all the time.

At this point in time, the hospital where I work put out a statistic that 56% of employees at my hospital have gotten the jab. I’m not too worried right now, however, if that percentage gets into the 80% range, I will start sweating. Because right now, there are too many employees that haven’t been vaccinated and don’t want to take the chance they could potentially lose them. They can’t afford to lose 40% of their staff, assuming most of the unvaccinated quit. But if that percentage of employees that get vaccinated gets to be 80% or above? Then my employer has more leverage.

Another factor in my favor – there is a pretty severe shortage of medical personnel out there. More and more people are NOT choosing to go into healthcare so the supply is low but the demand continues to go up, so I’m hoping that is another factor that will discourage my employer from issuing a “get the injectable or else” threat.

So what are my plans if/when we reach that point?

*sigh*

Depends. If it gets super nasty and I have very little choices, Kevin and I have talked about consulting a lawyer to find out what my rights are. The American Frontline doctors has a link on their site that will pair me up with a local lawyer for a small fee and we might start there. I can’t really fight this until I find out what my legal rights are.

And maybe I won’t really have any – especially since I work in healthcare and the rules are a bit different given the nature of the “business.” And if that’s the case, then so be it, I guess I won’t be a healthcare worker any longer. For if it comes down to either being coerced into the getting the jab to keep my job or having to quit in order to protect my body from God knows what, then I guess I’ll have to quit.

I don’t want to. I really enjoy my job and I feel I’m quite good at my job, and I wouldn’t draw that line in the sand solely due to principal, though that would be a big part of my decision, but largely because I don’t want to play Russian Roulette with my body. Sure. I could get the jab and it’s highly likely that I will be just fine, but considering all we DON’T know, no one can say that with 100% certainty and the fact that the disease has such a high recovery rate, I would prefer to take my chances on suffering through the disease and taking medications that we KNOW help the symptoms of the disease than stick my arm out for a technology that hasn’t been tested and “experts” really don’t know a lot about.

Not to mention, assuming life will go back to normal. Which I know is a big reason a lot of people are getting the “vaccine.” Not because people believe it in it or are scared of the disease but simply because they want life to get back to normal. And I get that. I want to burn these damn masks and be able to freely go where I want to go without people giving me the evil eye or work on the assumption that if they get too close to me they might die.

But life is NOT getting back to normal. We still have these stupid masks mandates, we still have to social distance, we’re still not allowed to do much outside of our jobs so … even if I was absolutely okay with getting the jab, got it and life remained the same, WHAT’S THE POINT?

Anyway. I’m nervous. I feel like this might be the beginning of the end of my healthcare chapter and I’m mentally preparing myself to make changes – the only question is when? I HOPE it doesn’t happen for quite a few years, I was HOPING we wouldn’t have to address this issue for quite a few years, but when I saw that article about the Houston hospital, I really think my days are numbered. It’s too bad I’m not closer to retirement age, I would just retire early, but I’m not there yet. I still have about ten years left before that makes financial sense.

*sigh*

Who knows what is going to happen. For now, I’m just taking one day at a time because really, what else can we do??

Food, Life

Sick and Tired

Literally. I’m literally sick and tired. This is the biggest reason I’ve been quiet this past week – I’ve felt like crap.

It started on Wednesday. I had a little bit of a cough. And my chest felt heavy. I never had difficulty breathing, but I definitely felt chest pressure. And mind-numbing fatigue. By Thursday, my sinuses were completely clogged and I felt like crap. Still went to work, but it was rough.

Friday was a bit better, but not by much.

Do I have COVID? Who knows, maybe? But most likely, it’s a head cold. I know it’s hard for some people to believe, but it IS possible to have something other than COVID.

Today? I feel … ick. Sinuses are still pretty clogged but at the same time, I have a runny nose and though I’m still coughing, it’s only occasionally and my voice sounds really croaky. I doubt I do a podcast tonight because my smoker’s voice is not cute.

I’m rarely sick. Like, EVER sick. So this took me by surprise. I was prone to sinus infections for a number of years but then I discovered nose spray, Zicam and hot liquids. (Tip: Routinely burn the back of your throat. Don’t give yourself third degree burns, but hot enough for it to be uncomfortable. I have found that really helps burn off any bacteria that might be camping out).

Yep. I went to work even though I felt like dog shit. I haven’t called in ONCE in the ten years I’ve been with the clinic. I didn’t call in because I didn’t want to ruin that record, (though to be honest, I did think about that), but rather, I wasn’t sick enough to stay home. I guess I should define my reason for staying home – when I can’t walk upright.

On one hand, I probably should stay home when I feel like this. I don’t want to pass this on to someone else. And I would have, if I thought what I have is contagious, (but what if it was COVID, Karen?? Huh? Huh? Chances are, it isn’t, so calm your self righteous self down), but on the other hand, I’m tough enough to deal with it and in fact, getting up, taking a hot shower, distracting myself at work, does wonders – I usually feel way better by the end of the day whereas staying home I would have been focusing on my poor little self and wallowing in my sickness.

I feel like most people nowadays use any excuse, at all, to stay home. People don’t tough it out anymore, they call in “sick” if they have a headache, or the sniffles, or cramps or … whatever. I don’t know, maybe they’re telling the truth. Maybe their headache is a migraine, or their sniffles is a sinus infection, or their cramps are so severe they CAN’T walk upright, who am I to judge their motives? But judging by the work ethic of most people nowadays, I am suspicious.

And I don’t really care – do what you want. But it DOES put more stress on the poor saps you left to cover for you and do your work for you.

It’s just something to consider the next time you’re tempted to call into work. I’m just saying.

I started my OMAD fast this week. For those that don’t know, OMAD stands for “One meal a day.” I’ve determined that for me, my feeding window (I always feel like a cow whenever I talk about my “feeding” window – moo), is 3:00 – 7:00 PM. That way, I can still eat dinner with Kevin. And it’s every day, not every other day, or three times a week like I’ve been doing for the past 18 months. So, I fast 20 hours a day, every day.

I started it on Monday and it was rough. I was never so glad to see 3:00 PM roll around that I ate about two meals in four hours and felt SO SICK afterward. Lesson learned – I won’t do that again. But since I’ve been sick for the majority of the week and NOT HUNGRY, it hasn’t been that bad. I’m getting used to it now. And for the past two days, it hasn’t been a big deal, at all. I have been drinking water with sea salt though and I think that helps.

But being sick, it got me to thinking – is fasting GOOD for you when you’re sick? Does it help heal you faster?

Good question, if I say so myself. Ha!

I’ve also heard, or read somewhere, that when you fast and start burning fat, that you can release a virus, or some sort of sickness, that was trapped in your fat and get released when you burn that fat so that is why you feel sort of sick when you start a program designed to burn fat.

I have no idea if that is true, but it sort of makes sense to me.

So. I don’t know. I don’t know there is a hard and “fast” rule (see what I did there?) to whether you should Fast or not when you’re sick. You just have to do what feels right for your body, I suppose.

All I know is, fasting feels right for me and if I can improve my heart health and avoid brain disease, like Alzheimer’s, and extend my life expectancy, then I plan on continuing it.

Now. It’s 3:00 o’clock and time to break my fast.

Your turn. What do you think? Do you Fast? Do you Fast when you’re sick? Why, or why not?

ADDED: I just thought of something – what if I’m feeling sick because I wear a mask to work all day every day? I think, eventually, it’s going to come out that wearing masks cause respiratory issues. Mark my words.

Food

Fasting Update

I started fasting in November 2019. Right before Thanksgiving. Probably the WORST time to fast. But what can I say? I’m an idiot.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my fasting journey. But for those of you curious, yes, I’m still doing it and could probably do it better, but my goal was never to lose weight, per se, but to feel comfortable in my skin. To not have to be uncomfortable in my clothes because I’ve made a vow to myself, I will not buy bigger clothes.

PERIOD.

My Fasting schedule is: I Fast for 24-hours on Sunday, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Why those days? No specific reasons, those days just work better for me. So, for example: I eat dinner on Saturday night about 6:00 PM. I will then not eat again until 6:00 PM Sunday night. I’m giving my intestines 24 hours to rest and my glucose to drop to zero. Am I hungry? Yes. But it’s not bad and I’ve gotten used to it, to be honest. I think the biggest reason I feel hungry is because my brain has been programmed to turn on my hunger hormone at the “normal” eating times and I just need to re-program it. Which takes time.

But honestly, I’m not really that hungry anymore. And I try to only eat when I’m hungry on “feeding” days. I don’t know why we have all been brought up to believe that we have to eat three meals a day. No, actually, we don’t. And in fact, it’s better if we DON’T do that.

Have I accomplished Fasting goal? Yes – sort of. But it has been a BUMPY road and I learned A LOT about my body in the process. More on that later.

First and foremost, if you’re thinking of starting a fasting program, talk to your doctor. Especially if you have any underlying health conditions, specifically, diabetes. Fasting messes with your blood sugars, in fact, that’s what fasting is, in a nutshell, it lowers your glucose level to virtually zero so that your body has no choice but to tap into your fat reserves, so if you’re diabetic … well, you can see the problem. So check with your doctor before starting something like this.

First of all, what is fasting? Dr. Jason Fung is a doctor one our neurosurgeons at work refers patients to. Well, he doesn’t refer them to him, he encourages people to look him up and watch his videos. Here’s Dr. Fung talking about what to expect when you start a Fasting regiment.

My comments:

  1. Headaches or Dizziness

Yes. I have experienced, and sometimes still experience dizziness. And I’m pretty sure it’s lack of sodium. I don’t really like salt and prefer my food to be salt free so on Fasting days, I drink a glass of water with sea salt and it not only helps curb my appetite for that day, but I have noticed a decrease in dizziness. And it should be sea salt, not the iodinized table salt.

I have also bought bone broth and warmed it up at work to drink on Fasting days. This helps with hunger and I’m hoping the collagen in bone broth will smooth a few wrinkles in the process. (Hey, let me wallow in my self-delusion, please).

2. Bowel Changes

The change in bowel patterns – erhm – I’m going to keep this brief because NO ONE is interested in how many times I go to the bathroom, but I will say, that yes, that definitely changes when you Fast. However, I take magnesium supplements on Fasting days not only for constipation, but it also helps my stress levels. It helps calm me down and I’ve definitely noticed a difference since taking it.

3. Insomnia

I have experienced a bit of insomnia. But since I’ve cut all caffeine out of my diet, this is not as big of an issue as it used to be. I didn’t cut caffeine out of my diet because of Fasting, but because I was having a lot of heart palpitations. Cutting caffeine really helped with that but what REALLY helped my palpitations was taking potassium supplements. Ever since I’ve done that, my palpitations nearly disappeared. (Some of the palpitations was due to stress/anxiety, which I have from time-to-time when my body can’t take anymore and then it just sort of manifests. Fun stuff).

He mentions Blue-Block for insomnia. I actually bought, and am wearing now, Blue-Block glasses I bought from Zenni.com. Do they help? Meh – jury is still out but I would like to think they are helping my eyes as I stare at either a computer screen, a phone screen or my Kindle screen all day long. I DO think it helps with eye fatigue.

4. Heartburn

OH. MY. GOSH. YESSSSSS. I definitely experience heartburn. Especially when coming off a Fast. I went through a period of time when I drank Apple Cider Vinegar, not so much for the heartburn but because it also helps with hunger pangs. Thankfully, heartburn doesn’t happen very often and when it does, I just chew on the Alka-Seltzer heartburn tablets and that takes care of it.

The beauty of Fasting is that it’s completely customizable. You can follow any schedule you want. For me, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays just seem to work the best. I knew I didn’t want to skip Friday or Saturday nights because those are our “date nights.” Kevin and I go out to dinner on those nights.

I will say, that starting out is hard. And start small, by the way. Don’t start with OMAD (one meal a day) or alternate day Fasting. Try skipping breakfast and eat lunch and dinner to begin with. Or, eat breakfast and lunch and skip dinner. Whatever fits into your lifestyle. And then gradually, lengthen your Fasting window. Skip breakfast and lunch and only eat dinner, for example.

Another tip – DON’T DRINK SODA OR OTHER SUGARY DRINKS. I can’t even tell you how MUCH this helps. Those drinks are good and addicting because they are liquid sugar. And sugar is addicting. Also, cut down your carbs. I try not to eat much bread. And I LOVE bread. But again, it helps. Bread gives you a lot of belly fat because of the yeast, which is also in beer, hence, a “beer gut.”

As Dr. Fung said, consistency is key when you Fast. But it’s a lifestyle choice and change and it’s not always easy. Let’s break down the reasons people fail when they try Fasting according to Dr. Eric Berg.

  1. Never Start

It seems “unnatural” to not eat. So it’s a mental shift away from what we’ve been taught our whole lives. In order to survive, you must eat. And sure, that’s true, but skipping a meal or two doesn’t equate starvation. “You’re switching food fuel with fat fuel.”

2. Feel Worse

Yes. I won’t lie. When I started my Fasting journey, the third day WAS AWFUL. I was dizzy, a little out-of-my head and I felt like my stomach was going to eat itself. I believe I broke my Fast a bit early that day because I was so miserable. But I didn’t give up. The fourth day wasn’t as bad and after a while, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I still have hunger pangs but I just ignore them most of the time. I found out, the hard way, that most of my struggles were due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When I started taking potassium and started drinking water with sea salt, my symptoms went down SIGNIFICANTLY. I also eat a lot of eggs on my feeding days and raising my vitamin B levels also really helped. So, learn from my mistake – keep your electrolytes up, it’s important.

3. Don’t Lose Weight

I dropped about 20 pounds in three months. And then … nothing. Now granted, I haven’t been as active as I need to be. Remember, I’m either sitting on my butt reading or I’m sitting on my butt blogging or checking my Patreon, so I’m quite confident when I start my walking back up, I’ll drop some more pounds. But the fact that I dropped that much weight right off the bat was very encouraging. And people at work noticed and were encouraging, that really helped me to stick to the plan. And remember, my weight loss goal was just to feel comfortable in my skin, not necessarily to get down to a size zero. Not because I didn’t want to be smaller but because I don’t want the stress of staying that size. Staying overly big or overly small takes a lot of work and quite frankly, life is too short to want to deprive myself of the small pleasures all so I can stay overly small. No thanks.

I also Fast to repair my internal organs. And it’s healthier for your brain which studies have shown help prevent Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. And it also prolongs your life expectancy. There are A LOT of health benefits of Fasting, not just weight loss and to be honest, those benefits are more important to me than being stick thin.

4. People Discourage You

“You’re not starving your body, you’re just shifting what fuel you’re running off of.” Dr. Berg says when you eat is more important than what you eat. I found this interesting and encouraging. Insulin is triggered by carbs and frequent eating. I wish I had known this stuff when I was in my 20’s. I think a lifetime of Fasting would have made my life a little easier now that I’m in the my 50’s. It’s not too late, but if you’re reading this and you’re younger, I encourage you to look more into this alternative. I recommend watching Autumn Bates and Fledge Fitness YouTube channels. They are both GREAT resources on what Fasting is, how to implement in your life and the science behind the lifestyle.

So. I’m sorry if you clicked on this post thinking you were going to get a before and after picture. Honestly, I WISH I had taken a before picture but again, my goal wasn’t merely to lose weight but to feel better on the inside and the outside. I think I’ve accomplished that but I’m ready to amp it up another notch. I’d like to start OMAD (one meal a day). I’m close to doing that now. Even on my feeding days, I have been trying to stick to my fruit smoothie in the morning, skip lunch and then eat dinner. My fruit smoothie is:

Handful of Pineapple
One banana
Greek yogurt
One scoop of protein powder
One cup of Almond milk
Handful of Strawberries

It tastes like liquid ice cream. I LOVE them. I drink them three times a week right before work and that will, most times, curb my hunger and I don’t eat lunch. I hate to give them up, but I suppose I could drink them as “desert” after dinner.

At any rate – I want to try OMAD and of course, start moving more. I have been walking a few times around the hospital during the weekday and I’ve been averaging about 7000 to 9000 steps per day. It’s better than nothing.

So Fasting is not a fad for me, it’s a lifestyle. One that I really don’t have any intentions of stopping. The trick is finding a schedule that fits in with your life.

It’s a personal journey and one I hope you will look into and try.

Good luck!

At the Moment, Life, Work Stuff

Punching Life in the Face: March 6th Life Update

(Tell me you don’t feel stronger looking at this graphic. Also, yes, I realize this is a bit aggressive but you know what? Life needs a punch in the face right now. I’m tired and just want to get back to normal).

Work has been crazy. Honestly, when is work NOT crazy.

I’ve been with this neurosurgery clinic for almost ten years – it will be ten years this September. TEN YEARS! This is crazy to me because I’ve ONLY ever been with a job for seven years: Seven years at fast food – seven years at banking – seven years at retail, heck, I’m pretty sure I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years.

I have a seven year itch, apparently. Actually, I’ve only had previous cars for seven years. (With the exception of my Vibe – I LOVED that car – had that for ten years). Apparently, there is something about me and putting up with something for seven years before I’m ready to move on or so sick of it I can’t stand it anymore.

And I won’t sugar coat it and say I’m not sick of this job – I am – THOROUGHLY. And yes, I could get another job, and I may still try and get another job, but there are two very big deterrents for me:

  1. My family is on my health insurance. Since Kevin is self-employed and purchasing insurance going that route is ASTRONOMICAL,  I got a job, (which I would have anyway – I can’t stay home – it’s just not in me). And for a while, our boys were on my insurance because we were those parents who allowed our kids to stay on my insurance until they turned 26. (Which I’m not sure was a good thing or not, to be honest). But now that Brandon, our youngest, is turning 26 this year (OUR BABY!) and will be off my insurance soon, it will only be me and Kevin. I’m looking forward to that because it will mean I get a bit more of my paycheck back. Yes, Kevin and I still need insurance, but it doesn’t seem AS required now, if that makes sense. Kevin is nearly retirement age (he’s planning on retiring in TWO years – what?!?) and he’ll be eligible for Medicare, if it still exists in two years the way we’re going, which means I’ll be free to do whatever I want with my job. So … I have a few thoughts. I’m throwing around a lot of options. I like options.
  2. But let’s be real – I’m also getting older and though there are some employers that don’t see older people as a liability and appreciate the life experience and maturity (and dare I say, work ethic) to a new job, it IS harder to get a job when you’re older. And do I honestly want to start over, from scratch, at a new place at my age? Not really.

But I’m not counting it out. I’m bored. I’m burned out. And I’m fed up.

Which leads me to the reason behind bringing this up.

Our clinic has been through some ROUGH patches these past ten years. We moved from cozy, (i.e. old and crappy) building to the hospital campus. We were no longer just “that neurosurgery group down the road” but now we were under scrutiny – we couldn’t do as much now that the hospital administration were watching this. Now, I’m not implying that we did anything wrong, or were breaking any rules at our old clinic, but it was nice not to be micro-managed like we are now. We miss that freedom.

Then we converted our old system to the hospital system. That took countless hours. But we made it fun, staying after hours, (wracking up the overtime), and jamming to music and eating pizza. But it was tough. Getting used to a new system. It wasn’t as hard on us, the employees, but it was torture for our doctors because they were completely lost for a while.

Then, me personally, I went through a HELLISH two years with a nurse from Hell which affected my health so much I ended up in the ER, TWICE, because I thought I was having a heart attack, turned out to be panic attacks, and I feel like that time period has permanently damaged my mental health – I still suffer from anxiety attacks from time-to-time.

We’ve endured painful staff changes. Crazy patients. Just the normal stuff that a group of people who see each other day-in-day-out experience when you’re around them for 40 plus hours a week.

But this. THIS has been rough. We’ve always been micro-managed. It’s always been a problem, but people have bitched, tried to make changes, were ignored and finally apathetic about trying to make things better. We settled for mediocre. Our turn over has been terrible. We just can’t keep people. Granted, the pay is not great, it really isn’t. I could make more working at Wal-Mart than I make right now, but that has only been a small factor in the overall dissatisfaction people feel with our management.

And then COVID hit. And the stress and craziness from that was enough to tip the scales and now, we’re a sinking ship.

We’re down five nurses, three MA’s, and one medical secretary. We are working with a skeleton crew and it’s putting tremendous stress on the employees left standing. Neurosurgery is not easy. There is A LOT to it. There are a lot of moving parts. You have to be a MASTER at multi-tasking for this job. It’s not preferred, it’s REQUIRED. And I feel like a lot of people, especially our young people today, are not equipped, nor are willing to try, to handle the art of working hard.

And if that’s not bad enough, our management continues to micro-manage and continue policies and procedures that (sort of) worked at our old clinic, seven years ago.

People are cracking and terribly unhappy.

Including me.

So. I took the bull by the horns and went to my director. The head honcho. My boss’s boss. And it went well. I wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, he wasn’t surprised, but I felt HEARD. And that’s all I ever really want. That, and take my suggestions seriously and let’s either try my suggestion, or a hybrid of my suggestion, and see if things get better.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently. For you see, it’s not all about me. Sometimes, I wish it were, it would make life easier, (for me), but I have seven other MA’s to navigate through. And some of these MA’s are lazy, incompetent, or just flat out jealous.

I’m not sure what to do about that; I can’t do anything about that. But I can control what I do and my input and if these other MA’s don’t want to get on board, or don’t have suggestions of their own, then shut up and get out of the way.

I know that sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to, but I get to the point where either offer some inputs or ideas or stop bitching. I’m done with the bitching and no progress. It’s toxic. And if these ideas are agreed upon and you’re resentful that you have to do more than pull your weight for a short period of time until we solve these problems, get over it.

Do you want progress, or don’t you? And it won’t be forever.

Anyway, I presented my training proposal to the meeting on Friday and it was met with silence. I get the impression the others weren’t really going for it but was it because they didn’t like the proposal itself or that I presented it and not them? At this point, I don’t care. We’ll have another meeting next week and I’m going to call them out on it – “hey, so-and-so, did you have any thoughts on this? What are your ideas?” Because again, if you don’t have anything to say or don’t offer any input of your own, then we’re moving forward with the plan. I had a short meeting, mano-e-mano with my immediate supervisor and she asked my thoughts on how I thought the meeting went. I was honest with her. I felt there was some resistance and she is going to bring it up in the meeting next week. We’re ALL sick of hearing, “this is not working and I’m sick of it,” and “but I don’t want to be the one who has to change her routine in order to fix it.” No. F that. Either get on this ship or jump overboard – Your dead weight is dragging me down and I’m a survivor.

In the meantime, I volunteered to revamp our training manual because it’s disorganized and terribly outdated. I did this for two reason:

  1. I LOVE that crap. I love putting stuff like that together. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding to see a fat book of MY stuff.
  2. I can use it for my portfolio if I finally chuck this job and look elsewhere.

I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

 

I don’t know if you know this about us, but we’re HUGE cruisers. We love to go on cruises. We plan a trip every year and every year, it gives me a light at the end of the hum-drum of working, home, sleeping, working, home, sleeping routine tunnel. It makes working so hard worth it – sort of. So now that COVID has become this monster that the world made it out to be, it doesn’t look like cruising is going to be on our schedules any time soon. I mean, sure we COULD go cruising, there are some options out there, but with caveats – you must get tested and/or you must produce your papers, erhm, documents, to show you’ve had the vaccine.

Neither of which Kevin nor I are willing to do now, or ever. (And we hope we’re not FORCED to get it – 666, anyone?)

But we would still like to get away, do something fun. LIVE LIFE FULLY. Especially while we’re still young enough to physically enjoy it.

We’ve gone camping as a family. Our first taste of camping was in a pop-up camper. We took the camper to Indiana for a Bible Camp when Brandon was just a baby. I remember heating up his formula in the camper. I also remember it raining cats and dogs when we were there and I was literally pushing a double stroller through ankle deep mud. I did NOT enjoy that. We then rented an RV the next year and went to the same Bible Camp – that was better, but still a lot of work. So the boys grew up camping. We didn’t go very often, but we went enough that they remember quite a few trips. We sold the pop-up and bought a hybrid – a hard camper shell with two fold-out tent beds. It was a comfortable camper but it leaked and it was a lot of work constantly water-proofing the tents. We finally sold it and thought our camping days were over.

Until COVID hit. And severely limited our cruising options.

We started throwing camper ideas around again. We wanted a traditional camper but we didn’t want to pay very much money. All I knew, I didn’t want the thing to leak. That was, and has been, my number one requirement. However, traditionally, RV’s leak. And they end up in the shop more often than not for various issues. And the RV’s we shopped around for online showed signs of water leaks. (The walls were “rippled” indicating they had leaked at some point). And we weren’t about to spend thousands of dollars on something that would bring nothing but grief or end up being a money pit.

Until … we thought about buying a cargo trailer. We’ve seen lots of videos about people who bought cargo trailers and converted them into a living space. Our reasons were:

  1. They are MUCH cheaper than a traditional RV
  2. They are made MUCH more study and will not leak.
  3. They will LAST much, much longer than a traditional RV
  4. Kevin can use it as a traditional trailer if he needs to buy large items for his thrift shop booth.

I was against the idea at first, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because I knew it would be a MASSIVE project for Kevin to take on. I’ll be honest with you, and I was honest with him, I’m USELESS when it comes to building things. I knew I would be zero help. BUT, he has LeRoy and he would be a big help, so there’s that. However, Kevin loves a challenge and he’s really excited about the idea so ….

… we bought a cargo trailer.

It’s 20 feet long and seven feet high. It has a ramp back door, which is a bit disappointing as I we would have preferred double doors, but Kevin wants to put a door into the ramp door so if we need to get into it, we don’t have to lower the entire ramp, we can just open the door.

We have a LOT of plans for this trailer. Kevin has already put insulation into the ceiling and is now working on putting some thingies on the ceiling so we can put up nice looking shiplap, or… I don’t know guys, I’m so stupid when it comes to this stuff, I’ll have to get more information from Kevin, but he’s planning on insulating the walls next. He will also plan out the plumbing and the electrical as well. In essence, this is our plan:

  • When you walk in, there will be a closet where we put our shoes and clothes.
  • A “working” table to work on our laptops.
  • A small kitchen with a dorm-size fridge and a microwave on top. No oven – we might use a countertop conduction oven, maybe, but mostly a grill we use outside.
  • A double bed at the back
  • A fold down table to eat on
  • Two stools that can double as additional storage and a dirty clothes hamper
  • Drawers under the bed (we are going to elevate the bed) for more storage
  • A small walled in area in back for a toilet and cabinet (for those late-night pees)
  • A garage in the VERY back, just inside the ramp door and under the bed.

I know it’s hard to picture, but if you watch this video, it will sort of make sense. I would like ours to be quite similar to their layout, minus the shower and toilet in the front.

We plan on putting a window in the door (maybe a whole new door, we’re still talking about that), and three windows. But Kevin doesn’t want to put the windows in until we settle on a final layout.

Unfortunately, it won’t be big enough if the boys want to come along, but they are young men now, I don’t think they would really be interested in camping with us anyway.

I’m SO EXCITED about this new chapter in our lives. We are going to take this thing everywhere. Kevin is really pleased with how easy it pulls, too. He has a Ford F250 truck and it will easily pull the trailer. In addition, it’s not so wide that he has trouble seeing around it when he drives, so he’s pretty happy about that.

I’ll try and remember to keep you guys updated on this latest project. I can’t WAIT to go shopping for the stuff inside!!

 

Patreon

I’m making an account. *squeal*

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing but MAN, am I having fun with it.

There’s a YouTuber I follow and really enjoy her content and I’m going to join her Patreon for two reasons: 1. To support her and 2. to see how the heck it works on the inside.

I plan on offering three tiers. I’m also working on teaching myself, and setting up, a Discord server. I thought it would be fun to host writing sprints and maybe a virtual book club. I think I’m going to limit my top tier to 20 people, just so it won’t be so big we can’t really get to know one another. Ideally, I’d like the top tier to be writers who are interested in potentially starting a writing club – where we critique each other’s work and/or be beta readers.

I have NO idea if anyone would be interested in joining my little community, but I’m super excited to try it.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I have so far:

I’d like to get it up and running soon as the April Camp Nanowrimo is coming up fast! Ultimately, I want to create a positive and fun writing community. Interested? Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Annoyances, Work Stuff

Things That Annoy Me #2

( I seriously can’t stop laughing at this little girl’s expression!!)

“Good morning. Welcome to our team. I expect you to work faster than your peers, update every little detail if older than six months, answer all calls live NO MATTER WHAT and you must have all rooms full so that our doctor is NEVER idle. You have to run everything through me – you are not allowed to think for yourself. I don’t trust you and no one is as smart as I am. You are not allowed to put orders in, even though your peers are allowed to. You can not schedule a patient unless you run it by me, even though your peers are allowed to. And by the way, I need you to be flexible because the way we do things on this team changes DAILY. Which means, the way you did it yesterday? Doesn’t apply to how we do it today. Why are you frowning? Aren’t you happy? I don’t understand why you’re miserable. Why is this job affecting your health? We’re the best team on this floor! We run efficiently and we do everything right! In fact, every team needs to run exactly like us because we’re PERFECT.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But this is an example of what our assistant manager thinks and it’s frustrating, unrealistic and insulting to insinuate we don’t know what we’re doing. Can we improve? Of course. But to imply that what we’ve been doing, what we have been doing for YEARS, is not correct, well, let’s just say insinuating this to the entire clinic was enough to nearly cause mutiny.

Here are some signs you’re being micro-managed: (Source)

  1. They avoid delegation. Since micromanagers can’t believe anyone else will do a decent job, the only solution is… to do everything themselves. While they might get the results they want at first, this can’t possibly last. Eventually, they’ll come to discover that there are only 24 hours in a day. Without assigning tasks to others with specialized skills, supervisors will inevitably take on work that they aren’t as qualified to produce. If your boss is a micromanager, they might also think it’s faster to revise your work than to give you feedback on what could be improved.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS. This is EXACTLY what is happening right now.

2. You’re not allowed to make decisions. If even the smallest tasks require sign off from your supervisor, it could be a red flag

3. They complain constantly. The funny thing about mistakes is, if they’re all you look for, they’re all you’ll find. A boss that doesn’t trust their employees is always going to look for evidence that validates their paranoia. And they’re going to find it, even if it’s a typo in a calendar reminder you only sent to yourself. This type of manager can find fault in anything, no matter how inconsequential. While they might tell themselves that they are pushing for excellence, they are only sapping the motivation of their staff.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS.

4. They won’t pass on their skills or knowledge. It’s inspiring to work for a boss that you feel you can learn from. Supervisors can act as role models for junior employees who are starting their careers. For a fresh new employee, finding out that your boss has little interest in mentoring you can be a crushing disappointment. To these micromanagers, knowledge is currency. If they share that knowledge, they’re depleting their own value.

5. Feedback falls on deaf ears. While a normal boss-to-employee relationship should have feedback flow in both directions, a micromanager is more interested in a one-way conversation. Because they’ve put themselves under enormous pressure, they are more irritable and explosive when faced with criticism. They might respond to your critique with some variation of, “Well, that’s just how things work here.” Micromanagers aren’t interested in what they can do to improve–they only look for the weakness in others.

These issues are EXACTLY what we’re dealing with at work right now.

As with any job, you have your ups and downs, your hills and valleys. There are times things are going great and there are times things are definitely NOT great. I’ve been with my current employer for almost ten years – it will be ten years this coming September – and I can count on one hand the number of ups we’ve had. And by this I mean, everything is going great, we’re fully staffed, we’re all getting along, etc. On. One. Hand. All other times, there is some drama, people are quitting, a process is not working, or management is micro-managing us. In fact, I feel like we’re micro-managed, a lot.

I get why this happens. Medical assistants work under the doctor’s license – everything we do is on behalf of our doctor so any mistakes we make the doctor could potentially be responsible. It’s a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, when you work for a management team that wants everything run through them, you can’t do anything without running it by them first, it’s suffocating.

I read somewhere that micro-managing is the number one reason why people leave their jobs. When a person is not given an opportunity to prove his/her worth, to live up to his/her potential, it’s suffocating. Our clinic right now, is definitely at an all-time low. People are dropping like flies and we all know what the problem is, but no one is willing to do anything about it. It’s like we’re all on the Titanic and we’ve hit an iceberg – now the question is – do we find a way to save ourselves or do we just sit back and wait for it to sink?

I’d like to figure out a way to save us, thank you very much.

It’s funny. I never really wanted a career in medical, I just sort of fell into it. But now that I’m here, (and I really do like the work I do and I feel like I’m good at my job), I just can’t sit back and watch our ship sink.

I need a plan. I need to convey my concerns, along with examples AND potential solutions and present them to my director. He’s the head honcho. The big cheese. The man with a plan. (I hope). I had a long talk with my nurse today about these problems and how to approach them and she gave me some really good advice. Now I just need to compile these thoughts into a nice, neat outline and present it to my director in my best “professional” voice.

Enough with the micro-managing. It’s time to take a stand and get off this hamster wheel. It’s insanity to continue to do the same things over and over again and expect a different outcome. We all agree there is a problem, now we need to get together and come up with a better plan, try different solutions. One is bound to stick, right?

Will they listen to me? Who knows. But if this ship sinks, at least I will know that I did all I could do on my end.

Don’t micro-manage me, it brings out my aggressive side. And let me tell ya, folks, it ain’t pretty.

Relationships

Every Day Should Be Valentine’s Day

Ah, love. Something we all want, whether we admit it or not, and only about half of people truly find.

Kevin and I will have been married nearly 31 years this May. We knew, right away, that we were right for each other. However, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it hasn’t always been chocolate kisses and sparkly jewelry throughout our marriage – mainly because of my issues.

More on that later.

Sure. We all love at some point in our lives, but is it true love?

What does that even mean?

What does true love really mean? In order to figure out if you’ve found true love, it’s important to first understand what true love actually entails. Essentially, true love means that you have an unwavering, unbreakable and unparalleled fondness and devotion for your partner. It’s also defined by an emotional as well as physical connection with him or her that runs immeasurably deep, and life without your significant other would be practically unthinkable. Source

According to liveabout.com, here are some signs that you have found true love:

1. You care about this person unconditionally. A tell-tale sign that you’ve found true love is that you absolutely and undeniably adore your partner with no strings attached. In other words, no matter what circumstances may befall you and through good times as well as bad, you support and deeply care for this person. Unconditional love is at the very heart of what true love means and entails.

I’ll talk about each of these points as they apply to my life. I can only speak to my own experiences, everyone has slightly different definitions and vastly different opinions largely dependent on how you were raised to view love and who you are as a person – your genetic makeup, I suppose.

Take everything I say with a grain of salt, again, this has been my experience as an old, *ahem*, married woman.

Obviously, I love Kevin. I wouldn’t have married him and produced two sons with him if I didn’t love him. But I don’t think I TRULY recognized or understood what that meant until he had his motorcycle accident.

That was a coming to Jesus moment for me. I could have lost him! I will never, NEVER, forget the overwhelming feeling of panic and fear I experienced when I got that voicemail, from a perfect stranger, mind you, that Kevin had been involved in a motorcycle accident and they were taking him to our local hospital.  I remember standing there, listening to this strange man’s voice, coaxing me into a personal nightmare and thinking, “I should take a shower.” I had been cleaning house when I listened to that voicemail and I don’t know about you, but I’m not a 50’s kind of woman where I clean house in a frou-four dress and lipstick- I tend to look like something that a dog dragged out of a grave when I clean house, because dude, I’m cleaning house with a purpose, not to go through the motions. At any rate, I looked ROUGH.

I actually made it to the bedroom and was starting to shed my clothes when reality took me by the baby hairs and said, “WAKE UP WOMAN! Get to the hospital NOW.” The man on the message said it was a bad accident, was he close to death? What if I was in the shower and he died? So many horrific thoughts went through my head and I finally punctured the shock bubble I had surrounded myself with and grabbed my keys. Screw it, I needed to find out what was going on.

Long story short, he was badly injured. His pelvis “was a bag of glass,” according to the ER doctor. (I will NEVER forget he said that). And he needed to be transferred to a university hospital where they could put him back together. (Anyone else thinking Humpty Dumpty? You’re welcome).

Again, long story short, I lived at the university hospital for two weeks, then he was shipped back to our hometown and had another week (? I forget because that whole time frame was a blur) of rehab before we could bring him home. He was in a wheelchair for weeks because he had to be non-weight bearing while he healed. He, in essence, had to learn to walk again.

All of this to say, I didn’t REALLY appreciate him being in my life until that accident. I took him for granted. I’m not proud of that admission, but it’s the truth. Suddenly, our relationship dynamic switched. He needed me more than I needed him. You don’t fully know how much you love someone until you have to wipe their butt. Just sayin’.

That, my friends, is unconditional love. That was the moment I knew, I don’t want to live my life without him.

2. You fully accept your partner. An additional indicator of true love is that you understand and accept your partner for the person who he or she truly is. You’re not trying to change your mate, fix him or her and/or turn him or her into a different person. Rather, you fully accept, appreciate and adore your partner, flaws and all. 

I feel like this applies more to Kevin, than to me. Yes, he has flaws but I feel like I have more. And he’s endured a lot, A LOT, from me over the years. Contrary to popular belief, (or maybe not), I’m not the easiest person to get to know. I am very guarded and cautious when it comes to fully sharing myself and to be honest, I don’t fully share myself, even with him. But he has stuck it out and there are times I look back and shake my head – I can’t believe he stuck around, quite honestly. To me, that shows me he truly loves me because I think the majority of men would have said, “bye.”

3. You can talk about anything. When you’ve found true love, it means that you can candidly and honestly discuss anything with this person. True love implies that you’re completely truthful with your mate, aren’t holding back different aspects of your past and are able to fully open up to him or her. You share an intimacy that’s emotional as well as physical, and your loving connection is stronger because of your willingness and ability to be open and vulnerable around each other.

Agreed. Sort of. I tell Kevin … most things. To be honest, I don’t tell him everything. Not because I have anything to hide but because he’s a man and he’s genuinely not interested in some of the things I talk about. However, I have told him things I have NEVER told anyone else. It started with being honest with myself and then sharing a part of myself that I guard closely and in doing that, I think that helped Kevin understand me more. I trust him and know that he would never tell anyone else and never use that part of me as leverage. Again, it took many years to build that level of trust but we endured and I think those are the keys to any relationship – time and endurance.

4. You’re completely yourself with this person. When you’ve found true love, you’re able to be totally authentic with your partner. You’re not pretending to be someone you’re not, feigning interests, passions or pastimes and/or acting in a way that doesn’t reflect the real you. Being yourself in your relationship is essential to experiencing true love. 

Yes and no. I am myself around him, we burp, fart and are occasionally gross with one another because we ARE comfortable with one another but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% myself around him 100% of the time. I will sometimes feign passions and pastimes because I know NOT doing those things would hurt his feelings. Besides, just because I’m not interested in whatever he’s selling doesn’t make it okay for me to act like a jerk and not pay attention to him. I will say though, after being married for nearly 31 years, we generally do our own thing most of the time. He has his interests, I have my interests and we do things together every week – like a standing date night(s) and doing our podcast together. We enjoy and respect our space and time and we need that to fully appreciate one another when we ARE together, if that makes sense.

5. You respect each other. In order to experience true love, it also means that there’s a high level of respect, kindness and compassion between you and your partner. You can empathize with one another, see each other’s point of view and are able to resolve conflicts and squabbles in a way that’s constructive and respectful of each other’s well-being.

Yes, but it’s not easy and doesn’t happen over night. I used to pick fights with him – not intentionally, though there were moments … but again, after being together for so long, we have LEARNED to agree to disagree. I have to constantly tell myself, “pick your battles.” And often times, our “battles” aren’t bad enough to really make it into a “thing.” I’m not into drama – I can’t stand it, I don’t have the energy for it and I don’t care to participate in it. That not only applies to marriage but outside marriage.

6. You have similar values. In order to experience true love, your morals and values have to be aligned with those of your partner. While you may have your differences, such as where you grew up, your religious background or simply your obsession with football, true love means that you’re on the same page when it comes to distinguishing right from wrong. In a word, having similar principles is a principle component of true love.

Oh, 100%. I think this aspect of “true love” is CRUCIAL. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to politics, religion and basic beliefs then I feel like that can often times set you up for failure. And kudos to any couples out there there that can maintain a marriage and NOT be on the same page with this stuff, I know for me, I couldn’t do it. I think finding that balance, all the time, with every situation, day-to-day life, working life, parenting, would just be too exhausting for me. I don’t mind a spirited debate now and again but to consistently have that disagreement 24/7 … nope. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want that in my life. And I hope if/when our boys find partners that they understand and actively seek someone who is like minded. I’m not saying I wish them to end up with a female clone of themselves, but it truly helps a relationship when your partner agrees on the BIG things in life.

7. Your happiness levels feed off of each other. If you’re wondering if you’ve found true love, it’s important to pay close attention to your true feelings and emotions. Does making this person happy make you happy in return? Does surprising him or her or doing favors for your partner give you a rush of joy as well? When you and your partner both have a mutual desire to bring happiness and contentment to one another, you should be happy to know that you’re experiencing true love.

Yes. When your partner is happy, YOU’RE happy. Doing things for your partner is part of showing your love for him/her. True love is loving someone OUTSIDE yourself. When he’s hurting, I hurt. When he’s feeling sick, I feel sick, etc.

8. You’re a team. When you’ve found true love, it means that you’re fully committed, dedicated and devoted to each other. With true love, you and your partner work together as one unit to enrich each other’s lives for the better. And rather than behaving in a selfish or egotistical way, you think in terms of “we” instead of “me.” When it comes to true love, your mate is really your teammate. 

Again, yes. We are definitely a team. We are working together for a future. We are working together to be good parents to our sons. There is no “i” in TEAM. And that’s really true. I will, however, confess that I am selfish with my time. I have talked about this before – I don’t feel like my time is my own, the majority of the time, so the time I do have to myself, I am very selfish with it. I need to work on that.

Here are a couple of more tips that I feel are worth mentioning from this site:

9. True love is not about finding yourself in another. Don’t fall in love, or think you’re in love, just because you want to find yourself. Your identity is not to be someone’s other half‒it’s to be yourself! Don’t get so swept up in your partner that you become them. You don’t need to be the number one fan of their favorite band or read all the books they read. Keep your interests and hobbies and you’ll be more interesting to, and interested in, your partner.

Oh, 100% agree with this!

As RuPaul says, “if you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” And that’s absolutely true. You need to know yourself, be honest with yourself and accept yourself before you can successfully participate in a relationship. If you’re looking for your partner to define you, you have failed before you have begun. You have to be comfortable in your skin before you can be comfortable allowing someone in your life. And if the person you love doesn’t accept you for you? Then that’s not the person for you. Period.

10. True love is not demanding. Your partner should never ask you to change if you’re truly loved. And if you truly love your partner, you shouldn’t expect him to change. You got into a relationship because you liked each other, and you grew to love each other as you are. Why would you need to change someone you love so deeply? Accept them as they are, and you’ll get that consideration in return.

This goes back to knowing and accepting yourself for who you are. If you’ve done that, you won’t ask, or expect, someone to change for you. What you see is what you get. Don’t like it? Move on.

11. True love comes naturally. Do you have doubts about your partner? Are you not sure they’re right for you? If you’re asking yourself too many questions about your partner, your relationship, and your future together, then you’re probably not in love. When you’re truly in love, you don’t question anything. It feels natural to be with your partner, and you know you can work through anything to achieve that future you’re dreaming of.

We all have to work on our relationships, that’s a given. But if you have to work TOO hard, if you have to change who you are or it feels forced when you’re together, the relationship may not be for you. True love should come easily .. if you’re forcing it to fit your expectations, the relationship will always feel forced.

12. To get love, you must give love. You can’t be in a loving relationship if you hold back. You can’t use love as a bargaining chip. Don’t tell your partner you love him only when he does something good around the house. Don’t give him the cold shoulder if he makes a mistake. You have to love him all the time, regardless of his words or actions, because true love is unconditional. If you give your partner this much love, you’ll get it‒and more!‒in return.

To me, this sounds like emotional blackmail. I only love you when you do something for me and I will withhold my love when you don’t do as I say. I hear this a lot. Your partner is not a dog, do not treat him/her like one. There are no treats for being good, there shouldn’t be disciplinary actions for being bad. You’re two adults that have the ability to communicate with one another. Don’t be shy to tell your partner what he/she did bothered you, or was disrespectful. Chances are, he/she didn’t eve realize their actions were construed that way. Someone who loves you will be willing to hear constructive criticism and will want to do better. I’m not saying it’s always easy to hear that, but out of respect for one another, it’s a conversation that must be had if you two hope to grow together as a couple. And if your partner is not willing, nor has any desire to change his/her behavior, or at least have a conversation about it, then again, you must ask yourself, is this the person for me?

13. True love is based on friendship. So many TV show relationships are based on friends who fall in love over time. It’s a great premise, and a nice daydream, but life isn’t TV. You don’t need to be best friends with your partner since kindergarten for love to last. But you need to be friends with your partner. You need to be able to talk, to share jokes, and to enjoy each others’ company. Over time, the physical passion may fade, but true friendship will last forever.

Again, 100% agree with this. You should not only love your partner but LIKE him/her. In fact, it’s crucial. If you don’t like your partner for who he/she is, how can you build a relationship that will stand the test of time? Forever is a LONG time to be with someone you don’t even LIKE.

14. True love is committed. It’s human nature to be attracted to other people, to allow your head to be turned by an attractive passerby. Don’t let this make you feel guilty. As long as you’re committed to your partner, your relationship is fine. When you’re truly in love, you don’t want to be with anyone else. You can’t imagine spending your time without your sweetheart.

It’s okay to find someone other than your partner to be attractive. You’re human. There are a lot of attractive human beings in this world. However, what is NOT okay is to act on that attraction. You made a commitment to your partner – respect your partner enough to resist the temptation. You’re an adult, not an animal in heat.

And no, I don’t believe someone falls out of love with someone. I think that’s an excuse people come up with to justify bad decisions. I think people get bored with one another. There’s a difference. If that’s the case, talk to your partner about it. Chances are, your partner feels the same. Come up with ways to re-ignite that spark between you. And no, it doesn’t always have to be about sex. Spend time with each other. Find something you can do together. When you’ve been married for as long as I have been, you’re not even the same person you were when you got married. Your partner is not the same person he/she was when you got married. Together, it’s time to rediscover yourself and your partner. Marriage is almost fluid in that respect. You have to both be willing to grow and change together.

Is any of this stuff easy? Hell no. However, anything worth working for is worth having. If you can survive rough patches, and there will be rough patches – think of them as growing pains because honestly, they are, then you can handle anything. I promise you, you will make your relationship stronger. But it takes two to make this work. You can’t improve your relationship all by your lonesome. Sometimes it takes outside help, like a marriage counselor, to help you and your partner to see things clearly. Not everyone is a good communicator but if your partner really wants it to work between the two of you, that person will at least TRY. And it’s hard to accept one’s own weaknesses and flaws. I’m certainly no Betty Crocker – heck, I’m not even that great of a human being most of the time, but I love my husband and I truly, genuinely, can’t imagine my life without him in it.

I can honestly say, the majority of our problems over the years have stemmed from me. I’m woman enough to admit that. I have issues. I’m a cold fish. I’m not very affectionate and I certainly don’t allow anyone into my heart. Kevin has made it past many obstacles and gates but I haven’t allowed him all the way in – there is something deep within me, something I don’t acknowledge and won’t examine closely enough, to let that happen. However, that’s not Kevin’s fault, it’s mine. So I have had to learn to deal with my short comings and be honest with myself and with him, to work through these issues and come up with compromises we can both live with.

And just so we’re clear, Kevin is not perfect either. But we both made the decision, early on, to never bring up the “D” word. (Divorce). It simply wasn’t an option with us. And because neither one of us allowed the “D” word to be an option, or an out, it made us that much more determined to work it out. It wasn’t easy. And it was down right ugly at times, but we made it through and we understand each other more because of it.

So no, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Because to me, it sets people up for false expectations. You should show your partner that you love him/her every day, not just ONE day of the year. Yes, love is pretty awesome, but it’s also a lot of work.