Jun 8, 2012

Why, America, why? Where'd your pride go?

I am re-posting a rant from my FB profile (yeah, I finally made it back to get back in touch with old friends)...It's long, so read or don't read... :)


Are the American people really so stupid and easily led, that they would believe anything they are told, without ever checking it out for themselves (this goes for all sides of the aisle)? They're just gonna allow corporations to rape our democracy in the name of profits? Are we for sale, people? Are we?

Last time I checked, it was our right as free citizens to protest peacefully when we disagreed with policy and corruption, vote as we see fit (hell, vote at all!) and expect NOT to be detained against our wills indefinitely without so much as a charge, much less a trial. Recent and still-on-the-table policies have become absolutely atrocious!

Why shouldn't we fight to restore the things that make this country great, while we still have enough rights left to do it? I, for one, don't want to see America become the fascist, totalitarian nation depicted in 1984 (George Orwell book from the 40's for those who don't know)...I've seen enough "double-think" propaganda in recent years that this is actually a concern to me.

It's fine if others don't agree with those of us who feel this way...this IS America, after all, and it's allowed. However, calling us names like commies, fascists and socialists without even seeming to realize what those words really mean (they may need to look in the mirror for those first 2,...just sayin!) only serves to ignite the flames they've stoked in people ignorant enough to assume these people actually know what they're talking about.

So, that's how they deal with people who disagree with them? Pay politicians to help stomp on their rights and try to discredit their views and values with ignorant rhetoric? Sounds like a lack of confidence in their ability to win on a level playing field to me. All the projection and doublethink they spew in the name of holding us down is just shameful!

I'm all for using the consumerism that's been pushed on us in recent decades against those who've pushed it...a little consumer ju jit su, if you will. If profit is all that's understood by these people, then let's show them who still has the power and hit them in their pocketbooks. We can vote for the corporations whose actions we agree with and shun those we don't...kinda like we do with the politicians themselves...

If you can make something instead of buying it, why not? If you can make do with what you have and shop less often, for fewer items, why not? If you can substitute one brand for another to make your point, why not? There's nothing wrong with being practical, as opposed to excessive, and there's nothing wrong with finding out what policies are being bought with your money (from taxes AND consumer purchases) and acting on what you learn.

It's the People that makes a democracy a democracy and our voices DO matter! It's time they hear our collective YELL!

Apr 3, 2012

Time for a Positive Note

I know...I've been mainlining the blog tonight..but it's been so long since I've posted :)

I keep saying I'll add in pics of our new home and haven't but it's coming. I just need to get my "spring" pics taken and I'll have one from each season to show. The views out here are breathtaking and definitely know how to calm me down when I have a typical anger fit. Moving out here has already worked wonders on my stress...but it still has so much to do!

This year, I'm determined to start taking steps toward self-sufficiency. Please know I don't do much of anything halfway...I'm all or nothing! I'm talking re-activating the flowers the lady we bought the house from planted (which were destroyed this past fall in the torrential rains we experienced), planting some new ones, turning a big part of my backyard into a vegetable garden, composting my own soil and learning how to do things that will build it out into a mini-farm (we're only on an acre).

Among the things I wanna learn are keeping chickens for eggs and emergency food; keeping bees for honey, wax, etc. for salves, candles and maybe some home-brewed mead; possibly moving on to goats for milk, which is good for drinking and beauty products (maybe with honey); growing some herbs and distilling my own oils; canning and preserving to make better use of my harvest; building my own solar panels and wind turbines (we're on a very windy hill)...the whole nine yards!

I've wanted this since I was a teenager doing energy healings and tarot readings...nothing says hippy utopia like your own mini-commune. It's like heaven to me.

Somehow, I've got to manage to make the whole thing workable. School starts back next month, I have online work and am in the process of putting my youngest back in daycare to take on a job outside the home as well. Somehow, I have to get through 50-hour days, do the impossible and pull yet another rabbit out of my ass. But I'm determined as hell to do as much as possible.

I'll keep you posted on my progress and will try to get around to posting those pics too! Till next time...g'night (it's 2am and tomorrows another early day!).

Frustrated with Freelancing!

I've decided to deviate from my (now) usual political rants to rant about something else, LOL

Don't get me wrong, I love oDesk but am becoming frustrated with the way clients are allowed to steal work from contractors, get by with not paying for work turned in, etc. I get it's a contract work situation, not an employment contract, but other freelance sites have systems in place to protect their contractors from situations like this (I know...I'm signed on to a couple of them).

A recent client of mine hired me for an article, to be ghostwritten in someone else's voice. I didn't really have time for it but really need the money, as I'm not working steadily at all and have bills to pay. I put current projects on hold to juggle the deadlines for each, understanding this one was due sooner.

In any case, I turned it in before the deadline, asking my client to respond to let me know if it meets his needs and, as is standard for me, reminding him of my complimentary revision policy to make sure it did. No response. I waited 2 weeks, tackling other work and staying very busy between it and home/family events, then tried contacting him again. This time I requested either feedback on my work or payment if it met his needs as is. Again, no response.

At this point, I'm starting to get mad. I can see he's been on the site hiring for other jobs but he can't take 2 minutes out to hold up his end of our contract. I contacted oDesk, knowing it's not their policy to allow disputes on Fixed Price projects (which I normally avoid but he had established a history of paying them, so I took a chance). However, the rep contacted my client on my behalf to request payment...still no response.

I waited a few more days, then finally decided to make my work illegal to steal. I check the site it was written for periodically and, so far, it hasn't been added but I wanted to be sure my work stayed my own, unless I was getting paid for it. I'm also considering putting an attorney on retainer but would like to avoid it if possible. I've already got two cases pending (custody thing with my ex and a medical dispute), so being forced to create a third would leave me seething and that's just no good for anyone that has to deal with me.

Being a karma balance person, I prefer to believe he'll shoot himself in the foot with his poor business practices, with no involvement on my part necessary. However, being a Scorpio, I'm prepared to ensure both feet get in the way if I'm pushed to do so. We'll see how it goes but I'm rooting for the more peaceful resolution. Anger's the easiest emotion for me to express but it's too easy...I still prefer the self-righteous indignation that comes with sitting by and watching idiots do themselves in, odd as that sounds for a hippy to admit.

Anyway, on a more positive note, the majority of my clients have been awesome, including my most current one! He's a god-send, very patient with my ever-shifting schedule of duties and encouraging of the work I produce. While I'd prefer getting more done for him each week (my schedule's fault, not his!), he's very much the type of client I enjoy working for. I've had many clients like him since starting with oDesk and they are the ones who make the stress of working from home worthwhile.

From the Grocery Store to the Spa

As you know, saving money and beauty products are two of my favorite things, so if I find something that mixes the two, it’s fabulous (and I’ll share)! I won’t keep you guessing here, I’m talking about turning a grocery store trip into a super-luxe home spa experience. A surprising number of foods do double-duty as cosmetics, with little to no change to their natural state, and have tons of benefits.

For starters, when you’re making your own cosmetics, you know exactly what you’re smearing on your skin, it’s usually loaded with nutrients your hair and skin needs anyway, plus you save some money. It’s so win-win, it’s worth trying at least once.
I think the biggest thing about it is, really, is knowing which foods to mix together and how to prepare it and all that. It’s really not as hard as you’d think. I’ve got some pretty good recipes to share with you. They’re easy to make, don’t require crazy ingredients you’ve never heard of and most are even good for sensitive skin. Let’s start with a list, go on to benefits and then we’ll get to the recipes.

A basic shopping list may look like this:

• Honey
• Milk (regular, goat or even powdered)
• Oatmeal
• Eggs
• Plain yogurt
• Avocados
• Carrots
• Apples or natural applesauce
• Olive or grapeseed oil

And if you wanna go more luxe, include:

• Strawberries
• Sugar
• Cocoa (or dark chocolate to grate)
• Red wine (even the cheapest kind works!)
• Coffee

You may have some of these in your kitchen already and, if you do, you’ll save even more money. Also, if you have any unscented cleansers, body washes, bubble baths, etc. lying around, some of these can be added in for an extra boost. A good example is cocoa, powdered milk or coffee grounds.

How does food make such good cosmetics, anyway?

Ironically enough, the same foods that are good for eating are also good for your outside too, because they are so loaded with vitamins and things you need. I’m talking anti-oxidants, proteins, alpha-hydroxy acids…the whole works! A lot of the store-bought cosmetics add this stuff in, but it’s naturally in a lot of the foods we eat. So, what can the foods on this list do for you?

• Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) – Apples have an AHA called malic acid, which is very gentle on skin, dissolves dead skin cells, clears blackheads and fades dark spots. Milk/yogurt has lactic acid, another AHA that moisturizes and brightens skin. Strawberries contain salicylic acid, which is good for cystic acne and is also an AHA.

Wine has many AHAs, including tartaric, lactic, malic and citric acid. Glycolic acid is used in many chemical peels and can be found in grapes. It’s important to note, when using fruit acids, that it can make you more prone to sunburn. If you make your own AHA peels, be sure to use extra/higher SPF sunscreen and/or mineral makeup (which contains titanium, a natural sunscreen)!

• Cleans/refines pores – Oatmeal is one of the best for this, because it can get a lot of the gunk out that can lead to acne and is better for sensitive skin than the sticky strips are, while yogurt and eggs can tighten and refine pores.

• Exfoliates – Coffee grounds, sugar and even salt are all good for this but so are the seeds in the strawberries.

• Smoothes/softens – Raw honey may just be the world’s best natural moisturizer, being good for dry and acne-prone skin, as well as having enzymes and anti-bacterial properties. Eggs have a natural emollient, which soothes and softens skin. Avocado is a good alternative to honey, because it has healthy oils in it that makes it perfect for dry skin and hair.

• Vitamin infusion – Wine, chocolate, carrots and strawberries have anti-oxidants, which help your skin fight free radicals known to age your skin. Eggs and milk/yogurt are high in protein, which helps strengthen hair and can aid skin in building collagen. The coffee has caffeine, which technically isn’t a vitamin, but is good for increasing circulation and, some say, reducing cellulite, so it’s worth noting.

So, we know what this stuff is and what’s in it, but how to mix the cosmetics? Like I said before, it’s actually really simple and mostly involves mushing it up and applying it to your hair or skin. Yeah, it sounds messy but it’s a lot of fun and the results speak for themselves. Let’s get started!


• Pore “Sucker” Mask – Take some oatmeal and grind it as coarse or fine as you want in a blender or food processor. Wet with water or milk to make a paste. You can basically add anything you want, depending on the type of mask you need. Try applesauce, honey or some mashed avocado! Apply and leave on a few minutes (10-30, your choice), then rinse off thoroughly.

• Pore-tein Acne Mask – Beat 2-3 egg whites, saving the yolks for something else, like hair conditioner. Apply to your face, leave on 20 min and rinse with lukewarm (not hot!) water.

• VitaMoisture Mask – Take 1 mashed avocado, 1 cooked and mashed carrot, 1 beaten egg, 2-3 tbsp honey and either 2 tbsp yogurt or milk powder, mix it together in a bowl and apply to your face/neck. Leave on 10-15 min, then rinse with cool water. This mask can even be used as a homemade body wrap!

• CafĂ© Latte with Oatmeal-Honey Biscotti Mask – Mix 1-2 t. ground oatmeal with 1 t. cocoa, then add 1 tbsp. honey and enough milk or yogurt to make a paste. Apply to your skin and leave on 15-20 min before rinsing off with warm water. You can add coffee grounds too if you want, for circulation and more exfoliation.

• Strawberry Smooth-ee Mask – Mash up 1 strawberry. Add in ½ t. sugar and powdered milk (or 1 t. honey and 1 tbsp. yogurt) to make a paste. Apply to your face, leaving on 10-15 min before rinsing in warm water. This can be used as a hand and foot scrub too.

• Sweet Red Bath – Add as much as 1 cup of honey and a few cups of red wine to your bath. This will clarify and soften your skin...and leave you feeling pampered!


• Strengthening Shampoo – Beat a couple of eggs and massage into your hair before rinsing. You could add 1 t. olive oil for moisture and added shine but, if you do, you should balance the ph-level with something acidic (like ½ to 1 t. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice).

• Strengthening Conditioner – There are 2 versions of this to choose from:

o Beat 1 egg yolk and mix with ½ t. olive oil, then ¾ c. lukewarm water. Massage into clean hair, leave on 10 min before rinsing with warm water.

o Beat 1 egg white and mix with ¼ c. yogurt. Apply to clean hair and leave on 10-15 min then rinse with warm water.

• Avocad-Oil Conditioning Mask – Mash an avocado and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Mix and apply the paste to clean hair. Leave on 30-45 min (with or without a head wrap), then rinse well with warm water. You could even add a cooked and mashed carrot for extra vitamin action.

These recipes can be customized for whatever you need for your skin or hair type. Your only limitation is your own imagination. Now, go grab some of your girlfriends and have a home spa party!

Feb 4, 2012

Canada for US President? Beats the Alternative!

OK, I had this long crazy political tirade all set up to go, about the Komen foundation thing, how idiotic and out-of-touch our GOP candidates are (excepting Ron Paul), how our money has no real value, so on and so forth when it dawned on me that it was much better to just post this video I found.

Mind you, I found the other Canada video first but felt this one covers it more. Everything they say about the candidates is true, in my opinion. Nonetheless, the sheer comedy of it beats most of what we could come up with on our own. Believe it or not, I've entertained the notion of moving to Canada, should America be dumb enough to vote a Republican in this go-round, to spare my family the tyranny that would surely ensue...but perhaps Canada will make a home here instead ;)


Jan 30, 2012

Tonight, I'm celebrating with Old Fezziwig!

I made it to the doctor today...and the news, while a little confusing, was good!

My neurologist told me that my lesions were caused BY my headaches, not the other way around. HUH?!? I don't fully get how that works because my doc talks so fast that it's harder to follow his accent. However, he did make it very clear that there's no aneurysm, tumor, Multiple Sclerosis or anything serious like that...but he did say that a lot of my headaches are stress-related (which my last neurologist also said) and curbing the symptoms is where it's at.

I'm not the type that's cool with daily meds (much prefer the holistic stuff!)...and I actually didn't start my first dose tonight because I'm sampling one of the brews in the seasonal combo I bought the other day, starting with the Old Fezziwig! I'm worried about mixing alcohol with medicine, so I'll start with my morning dose tomorrow and skip meds on the (rare) occasions that I do have a beer or glass of wine. I can still take my Valerian root when I feel the need, according to Doc, so I think I'm OK :)

One of the prescriptions (the pain one, not the muscle relaxer) had some hellish-sounding side effects listed amongst the info they give you...increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and even stomach/intestinal bleeding. I'm wondering if I should take it with my stomach problems, but the doc did know about those when he prescribed the risks outweigh the benefits? I don't know but I'm willing to trust his expertise to see if it helps reduce the headaches so I can function better. I go back in 6 weeks and, if it doesn't help, we'll try something else. I'm still going to check WebMD to be sure before I take it...may do that now...

My dad was as upset as I was - he heard the word aneurysm as a possible cause and blocked the rest out, I think - and even offered to take out a life insurance policy on me if it was something serious, since I'm not yet in a position to have something to leave my kids and ensure my boyfriend has the help he needs (my share of the expenses, etc.) if I wasn't around. That's what I'm in school to build towards, late as my start is at 31 years old. I very much appreciate the sentiment but, luckily, it's not necessary and I have time to work on that on my own!

If there's a bright side (aside from NOT facing possible incapacitation or an early grave), it would be that it's really made me evaluate what's most important to me. I can't say I won't still be a workaholic that's obsessed with studying anything I can get my hands on, but I am more concerned with what I leave my loved ones with...I'd rather it be great experiences where my kids have learned something from me, etc. and not that I worked so much that I overlooked too much with them. I saw that revelation coming, really, and hope to find a better balance with that.

One of the things we've had planned with my oldest (who's almost 9 already!) is martial arts classes. My attorney teaches and I'm thinking of going that route. My boyfriend is a yellow belt in 3 disciplines, taught by a student of Bruce Lee, but his schedule and some health problems don't allow for his teaching. I also wanna help my son learn more about architecture (he wants to build houses, he says), dance and see him through his dream to play soccer.

My youngest is still into anything and everything that's fun! At 3, he's too young for the martial arts classes, so we want to encourage him in other things in the meantime. He's big into music and loves to perform (hence his rendition of the Hanes and JG Wentworth commercials, etc, etc. LOL). His oldest brother (my boyfriend's 20-yr old son) plays guitar and is amazing, and his great-uncle plays violin and banjo. Nearly everyone in my boyfriend's family is musically inclined, either singing or playing something, so it seems to be almost a birthright for him.

I realize I'm rambling so I'm going to have to punch Old Fezziwig in the face to make it stop...all in good fun :) To a wonderful night!

Jan 27, 2012

I Feel Vindicated At Last!... But Not So Good About It...

It's been a while since I posted on something that wasn't a rant, aside from the piece about the Hanes commercial :) I keep saying I'll post about my boyfriend asking my Dad for my hand in marriage, my school updates, etc., then get caught up and forget or get too tired to do anything at all.

Anyway, I finally made it back to the doctor because I still feel crappy. Between the almost constant nausea, intestinal pain, exhaustion and headaches that have stuck around pretty much in one spot (with occasional movement elsewhere), my doc decided to - finally - set up an abdominal xray and an MRI for my head.

The xray showed up fine, despite persisting symptoms, but the MRI turned up some interesting results. It turns out there are lesions on my brain. I was so upset yesterday after finding out that I could do nothing but cry and look up any and all possible causes for such a thing...which are MANY and VARIED!

I kept telling myself not to get so upset because we don't yet know how serious it is (I have an appointment with a new neurologist Monday for further tests). It could be something major, like a tumor, aneurysm or Multiple Sclerosis...OR it could be something caused by the hormone therapy I had a couple years ago (which triggered the worst of my symptoms) or even the one bad tooth I have, which I've delayed having a root canal on or have pulled.

The only thing I know for sure is that I have solid proof that my symptoms weren't in my head (figuratively, at least), as some doctors tried to get me to believe as I left them to get new opinions. I also know that the one organ I hold most dear is being/has been attacked in some form or other and that scares me. Sure, our hearts and other organs are important but, in my personal opinion, they are the engine, carburetor, etc. while the brain is more like the transmission...without a way to shift, a car will just idle and that's a big part of what our brains offer us.

The damage could be permanent and /or progressive or something that's already hit it's peak and I just have to adapt to the cognitive changes that have already taken place. I have steadily lost the ability to multi-task effectively and find myself nearly walking into corners, getting dizzy/numb, etc. for a while now. The thought of losing any functioning, whether it's cognitive, motor, or whatever scares me...But I won't know until we run other tests what it is and what to expect.

All I know at this point is that my nature is to fight anything that poses itself as an opponent. I intend to fight whatever this is and pay forward any help I get along the way. I was looking into energy healing, acupuncture, etc. even before the test was run, with the intention of also getting help getting back into performing healings myself (Reiki classes, etc.) so I could help others who are out of balance. The call to do healings and re-awaken my creative self has been stronger recently than it's probably ever been and I hope I can still do it...