Goodbye to a virtual friend

One of the very first (non-family, non-friend) followers of Going Forward, and by far my most prolific commenter ever, is a woman named Ruth Rainwater, a fellow WordPress blogger at A New Beginning. She found me through Freshly Pressed, and ever after was generous about liking and commenting not only on my posts, but also on my business’s Facebook page. We corresponded a few times about blogging and other topics.

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One of Ruth’s posts from September 2014.

Ruth was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2013, and published her last blog post on Christmas Day last year; she fought a hard battle and things turned sharply for the worse around that time. I have been checking her blog every week in hopes that she would write again, but finally confirmed that she has passed. The word “Remembering” now appears over her name on her Facebook page.

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She and I never met, of course, and I know next to nothing about her except what she blogged about. I don’t even know what she looks like because she never posted photos of herself. But she was a faithful virtual friend to me, to my blog and to my business, and I am grateful to have found a place in the circle of her attention. It’s nice to know that my words reached out and touched a stranger, somebody who was willing to faithfully interact with and tirelessly encourage me. She was a graceful, prolific, good-humored writer. I have been missing her name in my Inbox, and am sorry I won’t ever see it again.

Turning the page

We here at Going Forward (meaning: me) are pleased to be finally turning the page over from 2014, leaving behind us a difficult year stuck in the doldrums, so to speak, with high hopes for fair winds and following seas to support all our efforts in the coming year.

One thing I’ve been remiss in over the past 12 months is my blogging, and I hope to be better about that. I will tell you that I’ve been having my share of struggles, large and small, but I won’t tell you all the details because, you know, the internet. My focus on surviving and resolving those struggles has taken up a lot of my time and emotional energy, leaving little left over to talk about it all here. 

I completed my certification as a nursing assistant in February, and decided not to pursue any job opportunities in that field for several reasons. I have found the knowledge I gained very helpful in assisting my parents, however, and that is the whole reason I took the course so I consider the time well spent.

My weight has been bobbing up and down all year, gradually trending upward. I pay a handsome fee to participate in Weight Watchers each month, but can’t seem to motivate myself to follow the program. Not sure what I’m going to do about that, although I think my options are, essentially, to fish or cut bait. I’ve determined that part of why I am not feeling so great right now physically is my higher weight, and that I definitely feel better when I am about 20 lbs. lighter. It’s just a matter of finding the mojo to get myself there.

My darling doggies are, as ever, the lights of my life. Rudy had a tumor on his foot this summer that required the removal of a toe, but he’s fully recovered from that now as if nothing ever happened. Reggie has maintained perfect health and excellent behavior all year, and I’m very pleased with and proud of both of them.

My parents have been holding pretty steady, with a few mishaps here and there but generally okay. I had hoped my mother would be walking on her own again by last spring, but she took a fall in her garage a few months ago that has slowed her way down and it looks like the wheelchair might be here to stay.

On the business front, I branched out from product photography into real estate photography over the summer, and got a crash course in how to light a room properly (which is much trickier than you might think). This endeavor proved profitable and allowed me to acquire a bunch of new photography equipment, including lenses and lights, that have expanded my repertoire considerably. I hope to substantially increase this service in 2015.

At home, I have invested considerable time and treasure in my cooking practice, and that has been tremendously rewarding for me emotionally. I have been creating my own recipes and riffing with confidence on others’ recipes to create dishes that delight me—and as we know, I am a huge fan of my own cooking. 😉 I spent 10 days with my folks over Christmas and cooked many meals for them that they immensely enjoyed as well, so I seem to be doing it right! I recently finished reading Michael Pollan’s book Cooked, and gifted it to my mom and my brother-in-law for Christmas. My sister and mom have read it and they both say that it has changed their lives. I had the same reaction. Highly recommended.

Like 2013, 2014 ended on an unexpected, expensive and stressful note. In 2013, it was Rudy’s mysterious illness over Christmas vacation, and the keying damage to my car while I was visiting my parents. This year, we hit a deer on our way to my parents’ house, which disabled my car with a busted radiator but fortunately did no harm to us. The accident occurred roughly midway between my house and theirs, so I had to leave my car in the nearest town for 10 days to be repaired and got to drive a brand-new rented Hyundai Santa Fe in the meantime, which was actually a rather nice consolation. When we came through to retrieve my car on our way back to our home this week, the icy roads and snowy weather were so treacherous that we had to stay overnight there. I have never seen such horrendous driving conditions in 12 years of going back and forth over that road, and have never in 30 years of driving hit a deer. I am hoping my deer-strike clock will now reset and I’ll have another 30 years of no trouble!

And so we begin another fresh year. I am really hopeful that the hard times are behind me and I am so very ready to move forward on so many fronts. Rev the engine, pop the clutch, let’s blow this popsicle stand!

Happy New Year, everyone, and best wishes to all of you for a healthy and happy 2015!

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Dry spells

I follow only about two dozen WordPress blogs, which is not a big number because there are only so many hours in the day. I’ve noticed in the past few months that the posting frequency on most of them has dropped to nearly nothing. If it were not for Time Ideas, Fortune Features and Doodlemum, in fact, there would be no new posts in my Reader most days.

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As you might have noticed, I have been kind of absent myself these past several weeks. I don’t know why those other blogs have dried up, but as for me … the three main excuses I make are 1) I’ve already blogged about that, 2) nobody wants to read a blog about that, and 3) I don’t want to blog about that. They cover a lot of ground.

I will say that I passed the state tests to become a Certified Nursing Assistant a couple of weeks ago, so I’m now officially licensed. I don’t have any immediate plans to change careers, however. I got that credential for myself and my parents primarily. If something more comes of it, that’d be great.

While I continue participating in Weight Watchers, I’ve been kinda stuck in a holding pattern since the holidays. My interest in cooking (and eating) has accelerated right off the charts lately, and that hasn’t helped my weight-loss efforts. Old fears and body-image issues are resurfacing and blocking my progress as well. This is tough to talk about with anyone, let alone the internet. Not good blogging material, in other words.

Other than the CNA thing, nothing new or newsworthy is happening around here, so that’s mostly why I’ve been quiet. Every day in which life proceeds apace as it always has is a blessing for which I am grateful, but there’s also the part where it’s sometimes … really boring. And the parts that aren’t boring are frustrating and irritating, and that’s not good blogging material, either, at least not for me.

But, I wanted to check in and let you know I’m still alive! Here’s hoping that with the imminent arrival of spring, things will start thawing out and flowing more easily in my life, in more ways than one. I’m ready to see this dry spell end.

 

The year in review: 2013

This is my year-end letter for everyone with whom I’ve not been in close contact who hasn’t been reading my blog regularly. If you’re current with me, you can surf on to the next thing. If you’re not current, or are interested in what I’ve been up to that I both have and have not blogged about, read on.

I started out the year with grand plans for myself and my business, with high hopes that everything I wanted to happen in 2013 would manifest in due time.

I launched my website in January, after several months of studying web design on my own so that I could create something that looked reasonably professional. I think it came out pretty well, but  it hasn’t gotten quite the response I hoped it would. Shaw Pro Photo remains solvent and in the black, with infinite potential still to be realized. And that is all I have to say about that.

My ailing bamboo plant is nearly down for the count; it has only two stalks remaining, one of which has turned completely yellow. It won’t thrive but it won’t die, either, apparently. As soon as I can locate a suitable replacement, I will put it out of its misery because I can’t bear to watch it struggle along as it has all year.

Rudy, my never-fail alarm dog, has gone completely deaf in the past few weeks, as far as I can tell. He was less responsive to my voice before he got sick at Christmas, and now he doesn’t react to any sound at all. When we were at my parents’ house last week, a visitor rang the doorbell while we were napping one afternoon, so loudly that it lifted me off the mattress and even got a small “woof” out of non-alarm-dog Reggie, but Rudy didn’t even stir. Fortunately, we’ve been living together long enough now that he knows our daily routine by heart and doesn’t need me to remind him when it’s time to eat, walk, go outside, go to bed, etc. I don’t think this development will affect our daily lives in any appreciable way. He got checked out by his regular vet yesterday, by the way, and appears to be well on his way back to perfect health since his allergy attack (or whatever it was).

Reggie, meanwhile, continues to be both adorable and aggravating (she is still not able to resist tearing apart a box of tissues or rummaging through the recycling if left alone long enough in the evening), but is rather more the former than the latter.

The biggest news of this year was my mother’s stroke at the end of April. It was a crashing blow to our entire family, under which we all rallied strongly and did what we needed to do. She had spinal surgery, then the stroke, after which she lost most of the use of her legs. She went to rehab for nearly 4 months, and finally returned home in September, where she continues making excellent progress toward walking unassisted again. She’s a remarkable woman and we are all very proud of her.

At the same time I was going back and forth to my parents’ house this spring to support them while mom was in the hospital and during her first days in rehab, I was in the process of being tested for sleep apnea and getting fitted for a CPAP device. That has been a bit of an ordeal with good nights and bad nights. I am hopeful that the CPAP will ultimately prove to be helpful to me.

I joined Weight Watchers at the end of July and have so far lost about 30 pounds. My goal is to lose 50 more to reach a weight that is actually in proportion to my height for the first time in my adult life. It’s kind of exciting to think about the possibilities ahead for me. I’ve started buying clothes that are medium size rather than large or x-large, and am very pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

In November, I enrolled in a Certified Nursing Assistant class on Saturdays at one of the local colleges. I’m not seriously considering changing careers for the long term, but I do want to have this knowledge so that I can be of assistance to my parents. I’ve done very well in the class so far, which finishes at the end of January. I take my final exam on a Saturday and report to a local care facility for my first clinical session at 0600 the next morning. I am excited about this new direction for me. Even if it is not a career move, it’s something I enjoy and am good at. I am very much looking forward to all that it will bring me.

On my way home for Christmas a couple of weeks ago, I made a detour to see my parents’ second home that was devastated by a flood around this time last year. Under my brother’s vigilant supervision, it has since been completely rebuilt from the inside out, now stronger and better insulated and fully up to code and even more beautiful than it was before. I was so pleased to see it standing proud again, restored to all it once was and more with updated electrical and plumbing, matching light fixtures in every room, and hardwood floors throughout that are just beautiful. My parents haven’t decided yet what to do with the house—rent it, sell it, or move back into it on a part-time basis—so that is one of the questions we’re looking forward to resolving in 2014.

Other news from the Christmas break … my car got keyed while it was parked out in front of my parents’ house on Christmas day, all the way from tail light to the head light on the driver’s side. Repairs will cost upwards of $1,600 and take a week in the shop. I drop the car off on Monday. Fortunately, my insurance will provide a rental for the week and pay for nearly all the repairs. I had no idea a keying could be so costly, but apparently it was deep enough that the entire left side of the car will have to be repainted. Not a Christmas present I was hoping for. 😦

On the blogging side of things, my post from August 2012 about making Dr. Schulze’s Super Tonic at home got linked on a national health news site last month and my stats just completely blew up for a several days. It was rather heady to have so many visitors in so short a time, even more than when I was Freshly Pressed last year. Going Forward received more than 20,000 views in 2013 and gained several hundred new followers, for every single one of which I am most grateful. My rate of posting has slowed way down in the past few months for a couple of reasons and I’m sorry about that, but I am hopeful that I will be able to get back up to speed in 2014.

So, it’s kind of been a big year for me and my family. I am grateful for all that I have accomplished this year, and look forward to even greater accomplishments ahead. I have continued moving forward, learning new skills and information, making healthy choices for myself, and taking really good care of everything for which I am responsible. My life is quiet and ordinary, but it is also, I think, healthy and productive every day. I am healthy. My family is healthy. My dogs are healthy. Who could ask for anything more?

Best wishes to every one of you for a happy and healthy new year also. Thank you so much for meeting me here on the page.

Spotlight on Super Tonic

Undetectable to the casual reader, we have a hit storm going on behind the scenes here at Going Forward that rivals—heck, far exceeds—any we’ve seen since we got Freshly Pressed around this time last year.

My post about making Dr. Schulze’s Super Tonic at home from August 2012 was linked on NaturalNews.com yesterday, and the spike in my stats today is bonkers.

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The flat part of that little graph indicates my typical daily viewership. The mountain represents, as of right now, more than 2,600 hits just today. And what’s really sweet, from my perspective, is that the number of visitors is only about half that, which means people are not just hitting that one page and leaving. They’re taking the time to look around a bit, at a whole bunch of posts that haven’t seen traffic in months.

So in terms of sheer numbers, this is better than either of my Freshly Pressed experiences, but on the other hand, my visitors are coming from the general public rather than primarily from the WP community, which means almost no new likes or comments on the post because I have limited commenting to registered WP users. Nevertheless, I am pleased that my little blog is getting seen more by the larger world. I also hope it will encourage more people to try making Super Tonic at home because it’s great stuff!

Speaking of which, I finally harvested the rest of my batch a couple of weeks ago, and am now probably set for tonic for the rest of my life.

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This is the final, decanted, filtered product that resulted from the 17 jars my mother and I filled last August. Too bad I’m not selling the stuff by the ounce; I could get rich. 😉

Thanks so much to writer Paul Fassa (who blogs at Health Maven) and NaturalNews.com for bringing me into the conversation about natural remedies, and thanks to everyone who has stopped by Going Forward since yesterday. I hope all y’all will come back again!