I Keep Walking

This a super short blog post but I wanted to share this news… pexels-photo-235808.jpeg

 

I am starting a new blog entitled I Keep Walking. It is a lifestyle blog with a twist and includes information about my Multiple Sclerosis Journey – challenges and tribulations, successes and triumphs.

I will discuss exercise, diet, relationships, travel, spirituality, medication, and more. Basically everything that is impacted by my MS. So in other words…everything.

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By the way, are you as ready for spring as I am? I want to get out the patio furniture, invite friends and family over, sit in the sun, and barbecue! I really can’t wait for summer, when even the nights are warm. It’s fine by me to use lanterns.

I have begun to set up the site, and expect to launch by March 27 –

The site is called I Keep Walking – I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

 

*This post may contain affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

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Goals – not resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. The only time I ever did was back in high school (I think I was a sophomore or junior – so that’s about 37 years ago), I resolved to never goal-settingmake any. I have stuck to that, so I probably have the record for sticking to a New Year’s Resolution the longest. I do think it’s a good idea to set goals in order to get where you need to be. I have never sat down and made out annual goals, but a couple of days ago, I thought I would do so. However, I’m not just making goals for the entire year and leaving it at that. I’m breaking it down and will update my goals throughout the year.

The number one rule is to re-evaluate each of these goals monthly. Also add new goals when appropriate. So here they are for the first month of 2018…

  1. Write every day – (6 days per week) – a minimum of 1,000 words. One or a combination of current WIP, blog, short stories, freelance work. There are so many things (and people and pets) that take my time. Guarding my time to write needs to take a bigger priority than it has in the past. My writing time is precious and needs to be protected.
  2. Submit at least 4 contest or freelance entries per month. I need to get my work in front of people.
  3. Write at least 2 blog posts per week. The more blog posts I have the more likely they are to be read, and again…I need to get my work in front of people.
  4. Exercise at least 20 minutes per day (if at home – more if at the gym) at least 4 days per week. I love exercise so why am I neglecting this area? When you have MS, you lose your muscle memory, making regular exercise a top priority.
  5. Lose at least 2 pounds per week. I would like to lose about 60 pounds by the end of 2018, so by losing 2 pounds per week, I’ll be headed in the right direction.
  6. List at least 6 items per week on Poshmark. The more items I list, the more items I’ll sell. I need the money.
  7. Read at least 3 books per month. That is one for book club plus two more. This feels a bit silly because I love to read and read a lot. However, sometimes I get busy and read only the book club book, and I want a need to read more than that.
  8. Start each day with the Lord, spending at least 20 minutes in prayer and reading my Daily Prayer Book devotional and the Bible. I need to stay in His presence and ask Him for guidance daily.
  9. Declutter – this is broad and vague, but for now the goal in this area is to pack a minimum of 2 bags worth (regardless of whether I’m using paper bags, boxes, or something else) of “stuff” to take to Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store per week. Also, throw things in the trash (no definitive goal on this, just do it!)

I’ve made a chart – or a table – to track my progress, which will also be updated monthly to stay aligned with my goals. I really hope this is beneficial to me. I don’t see how it wouldn’t be. I’m going to kick butt this year!

GOALS 2b

 

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2018 Word of the Year

Jubilation       I believe that we can choose to be happy no matter what our circumstances may be. Some people are only happy when things are good in their lives; they have enough money; they have enough love; they have enough good health. Some people are sad most of the time because they are in ill health; they don’t have someone to love or to love them; they want or need more money.

But it’s not the situations in our lives that make us happy. If we all make the conscious choice to be happy, it can make a difference in our circumstances – not the other way around. I’ve never claimed to be perfect and don’t always do this in my own life. Sometimes I allow the events in my life to determine my mood. However, I do try to choose joy as much as possible. Of course, there are incidents that make it impossible to be happy such as a death, major illness, divorce, or job loss. Nevertheless, we can choose how long those occurrences bring our mood down.

I made up my mind years ago to choose happiness, and sometimes that means giving myself a little pep talk when there is negativity surrounding me. Some of life’s battles take our happiness for longer than others, like the death of a loved one. And it’s perfectly fine to take the time to grieve our loved ones or feel melancholy about the end of a relationship. We need to allow the time to mourn, acknowledge a loss, and lament whatever troubles us. We also need to allow the joy to return to our lives.

Jubilant definition

Choosing joy is so important to me that a month ago when I started thinking about my word for 2018, the two words that came immediately to mind were happiness and joy. I was pleased with that and figured both words would be great and thought I would select one of the two for my word of the year. But then I realized that wasn’t good enough. If choosing joy is beneficial to my life, what is better? Extreme joy! That’s when I thought that being jubilant is even better than being joyful. ‘Jubilation’ presented itself to me and I knew I should make that my word for the year.

Jubilation

Jubilation-Judy-Cannato-Quote

Over or Under?

toilet paper 3            The great toilet paper roll debate has gone on for decades; probably ever since toilet paper rolls were first invented, which was in 1883. That’s 134 years of fighting about toilet paper just in case you don’t want to do the math.

Apparently, toilet paper was first available in sheets and was commercially available in 1857. I don’t even want to think about what people did before toilet paper was invented. But I’ve gotten a bit off topic…

Many people are quite passionate about their preference in the “over or under” choice. Those who are most adamant that their way is the right way firmly believe that those who disagree with them are doing it wrong. It’s not just a matter of personal preference to them. Many act like it’s a moral matter of right and wrong, or like it’s a crime to install your toilet paper roll incorrectly.

Personally, I grew up with a mother who preferred the toilet paper to go under, so that’s how I also did it. Years later, I found that some toilet paper holders worked better certain ways – and other holder designs worked better the other way.

I really don’t care which way the toilet paper roll is situated on the holder as long as it’s there. There’s nothing worse than realizing there is no toilet paper when it’s too late.  toilet-paper-holder-empty

While I couldn’t care less which way other people want their roll on the holder, I do care about respecting the preference of other people in their own home. A few people I know have revealed that they change the toilet paper roll in other people’s bathrooms if it isn’t ‘their way.’ That is just wrong!      outhouse

Not everyone folds their bathroom towels that way I do, which to me is the only correct way to fold. But I wouldn’t go into their home and refold their towels.

Some people drink Pepsi (which is all kinds of wrong) while others (the smart ones) prefer Coke. I wouldn’t go into a Pepsi drinker’s home and change out their Pepsi for Coke, even though they are clearly warped.

I believe in respecting the person’s home in which I am a guest. (However, I do kind of want to go to the homes of the people who said they change the rolls of people who prefer it the other way – just to give them a taste of their own medicine).

Not everyone does things the same way you do. It’s a good thing too. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. Our differences are what makes us who we are – even when it comes to “over-or-under.” No matter how much someone believes their way is the “right” way, it is all personal preference.

 

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Brownies Made With Rhubarb

I have a huge patch of rhubarb growing in my yard. I bake a few pies every year but there is still lots of rhubarb, so I have frozen it, canned it, made jams, etc. But I’m always looking for other ways I can use it. I found this recipe at  “The Endless Meal” recently and thought it was delicious. My husband said it was okay but that he would rather have regular brownies. I defense of these wonderful brownies, my husband doesn’t like to try new things and doesn’t like change. So here is the recipe – try it and decide for yourself.

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Dark Chocolate Rhubarb Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey dark chocolate cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the top.
  2. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt.
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix the until they are just incorporated. Mix in the rhubarb, chocolate chips, and nuts. The batter will be quite thick.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it out so that it is even in the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Make sure not to overcook the brownies so they don’t dry out.
  5. Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool completely before cutting.

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I’m confident you will like them. These are very moist and the rhubarb adds a unique flavor.

 

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My Pic2

Crustless Asparagus Quiche

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe here and I thought it was time to post one. I developed this recipe a couple of weeks ago and we really like it so I thought there would be others who liked it too. It’s great with a side of bacon and some fresh fruit.

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Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I actually use more like 5 – use more or less depending on your tastes – we love garlic)
  • 1 cup diced asparagus (I cut them about 1 inch or so)
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease pie pan.
  2. Heat butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring until soft.
  3. Add asparagus, and continue to cook until asparagus is soft. Season lightly.
  4. Combine eggs and cheese, and salt & pepper if desired. (I like to season the asparagus mixture and the egg mixture separately.) Add asparagus mixture to egg mixture and spoon into pie pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until eggs are set. Cool about 10 minutes before serving.

 

It’s delicious! I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and again last night (breakfast for dinner).

We get a plentiful crop of asparagus in our garden, and there’s more each year than the year before, so we eat a lot of asparagus in our home.

I hope you like it as much as we do!

 

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What’s My Name?

My Turqoise Photo2

Some decisions aren’t easy to make, and this one is no exception. I thought I had reached a conclusion, and even typed out this blog post, and was ready to post it when I changed my mind yet again. So I’m making many changes to this post. Here’s the issue – I’m trying to decide whether to continue to write under my legal name or to us a pen name.

I published my first book in 2010 under my legal name, Melanie Young. Shortly after publishing The Next Chapter, I realized that there was another Melanie Young on Amazon, though she doesn’t write fiction. She collaborated with her husband to write a book about raising boys. So on Amazon, when typing in Melanie Young, it wasn’t always my book that came up. Since that time, other authors with the name Melanie Young have surfaced, and most recently a woman who is a breast cancer survivor and I believe has now published two books – again non-fiction. She is already the most famous of all the authors with my name –Melanie Young.

I started thinking it might be beneficial to publish my books using a pen name. I considered three options: M.J. Young – using my initials, Mel Young – using just the first part of my name, and Melanie Bardwell – my maiden name. I googled all three choices, and also searched on Amazon – finding no other authors with any of those names. I settled on Melanie Bardwell since I never wanted to give up that name anyway. That is I settled on it before realizing I wasn’t set in my decision after all.name

This could turn out to be more involved than changing the name on my social security card and driver’s license like you do when you get married. There are things to consider like my website, my blog, my bookmarks printed with my name, banners, and other paraphernalia. None of that would have to be changed immediately, but should be taken into consideration.

Besides publishing all future work under my maiden name, my plan would be to also re-release my past books under my maiden name. I realized that I had weighed out all the pros but not the cons as much. So when I really started looking at the cons it didn’t seem like it was as good of a decision anymore. The biggest con is that I have spent over seven years and who knows how much money in branding my name. I’m getting close to finishing my WIP, so I need to make my final decision soon.

I’m normally not quite this fickle.fickle

 

 

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Valentines Day – an abused holiday

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Lovers all over celebrate February 14th, Valentines Day. Cupid is in the air, and on the television, in the stores, splattered on web pages, and crammed down our throats. cupid-2Valentines Day cards are purchased in droves. It is the holiday when the second highest amount of cards are sold, right between Christmas and Mother’s Day. With the price of cards these days, that’s a lot of money! But the cost of Valentines Day doesn’t stop there.

 

If you don’t have reservations at your favorite restaurant at least two weeks in advance, you’re out of luck. Champagne and wine are purchased for the occasion in high numbers. Chocolate and flowers, jewelry and lingerie, stuffed animals and music, and even romantic trips are among the gifts given.

be-mine

The competition among women boasting about what their boyfriends and husbands have spoiled them with is high. But the disproportionate amount of pressure placed on said boyfriends and husbands is extreme. The pressure is  forced on them not only by the girlfriends and wives, but by society as a whole. Not only are they pressured to go to the ends of the earth to make Valentines Day special – and expensive – but to top previous Valentines Days.

I think it would be a more romantic holiday if people were more original in their celebration of the day, making the observance unique to the couple. Take the pressure off and make the day your own. The price tag isn’t an indication of how much you care.cupid-1

 

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Addiction

addiction

There are many addictions and the list is very long…alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, drugs, sex, gambling, etc. Then if you list each different kinds of drug addictions the list is even longer. Some addictions are more powerful and more damaging than others. Some are easier to kick than others. But I’m not thinking about those kinds of addictions today, I’m thinking about the ones that require some will power to get rid of.

So what exactly is an addiction? From www.free.dictionary.com I found the following definition in their “medical dictionary” section, “Addiction is a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance.” It goes on to say, “Addiction has been extended, however, to include mood-altering behaviors or activities.”

coffee

One of my “addictions” is coffee – which isn’t a true addiction – I just like it. But I’m not one of those people who has to have their cup of java before anyone can talk to me in the morning. Sometimes I go a week or more without coffee. I like to have my morning cup, or three, of coffee, but if I don’t, I’m fine with that too.

 

Some of my other “addictions” include chocolate, Doritos, sweets, Dr. Pepper, shopping. I think most American women, and some men, share my chocolate addiction. This also is not a true addiction either as I’m not dependent on it; I just really, really like chocolate and crave it often. It doesn’t alter my behaviors and mood.

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Ah, Doritos! I’ve been addicted to them since my teens, or possibly pre-teens. When I open a bag, it’s all I can do to stop eating them when I’ve had enough – er, too much. They have to be the original Nacho Cheese Doritos. They’ve made so many delicious flavors, but when there is a craving, there is only one flavor. Is there really such a thing as too many Doritos?  And sweets, well that’s kind of like chocolate, however, if I’m craving chocolate and I eat something else that is sweet, my craving is NOT satisfied!

 

Some people would think that it’s the caffeine in Dr. Pepper that makes me thirst for it. But it’s not. I really think it’s the carbonation that I desire. The carbonation does have to be sweet and taste like Dr. Pepper though. However, a good root beer or Coca Cola will suffice as well.

 

And finally, what woman doesn’t love shopping? Actually my mother never has. I always thought she enjoyed it as much as I do; but as it turns out, she just enjoyed spending time with me. Isn’t she sweet? Now, I’m a reasonable shopping addict. I don’t spend more money than we have…well, that’s not entirely true. I have no business using a credit card for shopping the majority of the time. And I’m nothing like Isla Fisher’s character in The Shopaholic, though I love that movie and Isla Fisher is hysterical!

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What are your addictions?

 

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Loss in life

 

We lost my Aunt Beverly yesterday. She was 84 years young. Shripe had been battling cancer for a few years, and then was recently also diagnosed with leukemia. She was the kind of person who was always trying to take care of everyone else, even in her last days. About a week ago, her youngest son told her she was bossy.

 

 

Auntie Bev passed peacefully surrounded by family and friends. All seven of her (adult) children (therefore, my cousins) were able to be there, as was her pastor and her baby sister. I called my dad to check on how he was doing after losing his sister. He and my mom had driven over to visit less than a week before. Dad was doing fine, and said Bev was in a lot of pain, and was ready to go home to be with the Lord.

Jesus welcomed a very kind and giving soul into Heaven. She will be missed here, but we are all glad that she is no longer suffering. She is also reunited with my Aunt Charlotte, her younger sister, who we lost to cancer about 20 years ago.

Every time we lose someone, we are reminded just how important our family and friends are to us. We are reminded to spend as much time as we can with them. We are reminded to appreciate those relationships. We are reminded to tell our loved ones that we love them. We are reminded that life is short. We are reminded to make the most of the life and love that we have.

RIP, Auntie Bev!     death

 

 

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