Leave a Message After the Beep

wild yam root cream by Akuokuo Vallis

I rarely, hardly ever get sick– but when I do — the widdle baby in me– always turns everything into a soap opera.  Last week– my simple, little sniffles snowballed into a major head cold with severe post nasal drip.  The coughing fits were frightening.  And then–this crazy lady– in the midst of one of my coughing spells said, I like your curls.  Then she rummaged her big-giant-clumsy hands through my hair.

I was in a bad mood after that.  A really bad mood–complaining about everything–especially at dinner–these potatoes are TOO SALTY!  I was just mad at myself for being such a wimp.  I wanted to scream at that crazy–horrible lady.  But I just stood there–speechless– with my frizzy-puff-puffs. I should have just pulled my hair back in a bun–but I was stubbornly determined to play it cool.  Yep, I styled it like this– ON PURPOSE!  That was my fake attitude in the grocery store.  Well — I had to have an attitude with hair like that plus–  I had no choice—suddenly– I needed my monthly supplies.  No wonder I was in such a bad mood.

In the beauty aisle– a sales clerk was telling another shopper all about something called Wild Yam Root Cream.  It takes away menstrual cramps and curbs irritability quickly.  I highly recommend it!!!  Don’t forget to rotate application sites though!  I had no idea what that meant- but I bought it anyway. Turns out I am highly allergic to wild yam root cream.  Highly allergic. Didn’t  know it was humanly possible to vomit like that. Okay! I clearly just died!

Now that I am on the mend– I truly have a new level of respect for my mother.  Stroke recovery is rough.  But she has found a way to stay strong.  So much easier said than done.

My mother is the real deal–  a true superstar!

 

Wayne Might Be a Robot

chaga chunks by Akuokuo Vallis

Customer Service Rep. is typing…

Socks Galore and More strives for excellence.  My name is Wayne.  How may I assist you? 

Akuokuo is typing…

Hi Wayne.  There was a mix up with my order.  I received  Chaga chunks instead of socks. Not sure what Chaga is.  Says it’s from Chaga Alaska.

Customer Service Rep. is typing…

Socks Galore and More strives for excellence.  Apologies for the mix up.  READ THIS  and  WATCH THAT  while I research your order.  

Customer Service Rep. is typing…

Looks like the polka-dotted bunny socks are on back order.  Chaga is a medicinal  mushroom. Very healthy.  Tastes like a combo between tea and coffee– but better for you. Simmer it up (see instructions in bag).  Try it with honey, maple syrup, plain Jane or with your favorite milk.   Might be butchering your name… is it  A-quack-quack?  or A-clock-clock?

Akuokuo is typing…

Whaaat!?  A-clock-clock?  Must be kidding about A-quack-quack!?  Should I send the chaga back…?

Socks Galore and More strives for excellence.  Keep the chaga.  It’s a freebie.  Back to your name…is it  A-koo-koo?

Nope. Wrongo again.

Socks Galore and More strives for excellence.  We want to make you happy… Is it….

Akuokuo is typing…

It’s Ah-Kwo-Kwo (Koko for short)Ghanaian twin name–meaning second born female twin. Thanks for the Chaga.  Please cancel the bunny socks.  Byeee.

Eye Get It

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I know, I know–I already know–I should’ve listened to my mother. I did not even need those reading glasses. But the way they were displayed at the grocery store–on that giant, plush, stuffed giraffe–it was like kryptonite.  I could not resist them.  Plus, giraffe is my  power animal!

I was slow about it though. It’s not like I started wearing the glasses at the checkout stand. I started wearing them casually– at home.  I was reading one of my favorite books, Fragrant–The Secret Life of Scentby Mandy Aftel.  Does that say  4 or 5 drops of ylang ylang?   I had absolutely no choice–I was forced to put the glasses on.  Yes, 4 drops– phew!  Thanks new glasses!

But–just like my mother predicted– I started to rely on the glasses.  It happened super fast too. Oh, I’m fine.  My eyes are fine.  I’m just using the glasses temporarily–for accuracy,  just to double check–only when needed.

Now–my glasses dependency is making me buy crazy things.  Last week, I  bought one of those eyeglass chains–like the kind librarians wear– to keep their glasses ready for action. Woohoo, this librarian look  is the best–it’s totally me.   I also bought some Hush Puppies.  

 

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Oh, if only I’d bought that  giant-plush-stuffed giraffe instead of those adorable glasses.  Maybe now  I’d be a cacao farmer or even a ceramicist.  Didn’t you know–giraffes are wish fulfilling, prophetic, supernatural, non-mythical creatures!  It’s because they stay away from fluoride and are very mindful of their thoughts.  They are totally in tune with their third eye.

 

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But–I am not worried–because if there are cats who can do Nia— there’s hope.

 

 

And–I can always do these  eye exercises.

 

Caffeine Fiend

 

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My little caffeine problem started with Kombucha–that fizzy drink that is supposed to be so very healthy for you (according to a lady I overheard at a grocery store).

  • Kombucha is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks. Kombucha has many supposed health benefits. It is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic ‘colony’ of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY).

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I did not like Kombucha–at first.  There was something odd about the vinegary aftertaste. Even so–I kept buying it and drinking it.  I became a Kombucha addict. I tried nearly every kind of Kombucha out there. I even tried strange DIY looking local brands that were suspiciously packaged in recycled Coke bottles.  But after a few months–I got tired of Kombucha. That initial odd vinegary aftertaste was hardly even noticeable to me by this point.  It wasn’t even boosting my energy anymore either.

I put a twin size mattress for myself  in my mother’s room so I could help her at night. The night shift began taking a toll on me. I needed something to keep me awake during the day.  That’s when I turned to coffee–Black Coffee!

Wowee. My coffee fling escalated quickly. It was great–at first.  But soon, I noticed my driving was reckless. I was  having terrible thoughts about those #$@&%*! people who should not be on the road. I was getting headaches too.  And I was fidgety–I just could not rest, ever. My vision even deteriorated.  I had to call it quits.

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But of course, I found something else— Chai. I even started making my own.

The combo of super caffeinated black tea with spices, milk and sugar (lots of sugar) was delicious. It went well with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and everything else in between. Eventually, I realized that caffeine  was getting the best of me.  I had to stop– cold turkey.

  • Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug.
  • Caffeine can produce a mild form of drug dependence. Tolerance develops with chronic use leading to autonomic effects of increased blood pressure, heart rate, and increased urine output (Wikipedia).

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I do think about coffee and tea and all things caffeinated from time to time.  I actually still have an unopened bottle of Kombucha in the refrigerator (just in case…).  But even if I am a little tired during the day–I am a much calmer, happier person without the caffeine.

A Good Reason to Vote

When I woke up on Election Day– I had already decided.  I wasn’t going to vote.  I thought, “What difference does my one vote make anyway?”  Plus–I just did not want to deal with long lines or parking problems or people.  I was in a sour mood.

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My mother, on the other hand, was getting ready early.  She was determined to get to the polling place and vote.  She was beyond excited.  “This is historic.  It’s important,” she said.

 

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My older sister had already agreed to take our mother to vote later in the afternoon.   But around 10:00 am, my twin sister suggested we make a dry run to see about handicap parking before our older sister arrived.

 

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Surprisingly, the polling place was practically empty.  There was ample parking–even handicap parking right at the front door.  Clearly, there was no turning back.

 

 

So I voted.  We voted– and I’m glad we did.  I realize now that my mother needed to feel a sense of normalcy again. She got a chance to let go of her own worries to focus on something different, something a little bigger for the moment.  That was important, and a good reason for me.

 

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Tree Hugger

 

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I love trees.  My favorite tree–Harriet–lives on the golf course near our house.  She’s huge and beautiful.  A few limbs are missing and she even has a scar– a deep, deep line that stretches way, way up to as far as I can see. I have to sneak on the golf course just to visit her.  But–it’s well worth it — because with every visit — I  am transported.  And I feel renewed, free. Unlimited.

 

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My twin sister, Akwelle, is a serious tree hugger.  She says she only hugs the trees that call out to her.  But, on our daily walks with Kookaburra (our dog)–Akwelle can often be found cavorting with tree, after tree, after tree, after tree.

 

 

I am a lot more self conscious than Akwelle is.  I wish I could just go and hug a random tree–in public–without thinking too much about what some bicyclist might say or think. My favorite tree, Harriet, of course, is tucked far, far away from peeping eyes.  She is mine alone. So, no worries for me there… at least, so I thought.

 

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The other day–I saw this young man visiting Harriet–my tree.  He hugged her affectionately and said, “Bye Jacob–see you tomorrow!”  I was shocked.  Speechless even. I wanted to run up to him and say, “Her name is Harriet and she’s mine.  Go find your own tree!” But I stopped myself.

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How foolish of me to think Harriet (or “Jacob”) only belonged to me.  That’s the beauty of trees. They belong to no one.  Trees are gifts–portals that transport us all to quieter, more peaceful, elevated worlds.

 

How lucky we are to be near them.  How lucky we are to experience them.

 

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My advice–instead of watching t.v. — go out and hug a tree!

 

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

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When we were little, my dad signed us all up for a Transcendental Meditation (TM) class.

 

 

My mother thought TM was the craziest thing ever. At the end of the first class, there was a special ceremony where we were each given a unique mantra to repeat during our twice a day meditation practice. Special blessings were said and the instructors even threw rice at us to celebrate. My mother yawned throughout the ceremony. Needless to say, she did not return to the remaining classes. Looking back, I am not surprised.

 

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My mother does not see herself as an anxious, nervous or worrying type.

 

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My dad had a lot of friends who were constantly throwing parties. He always brought all of us with him. I remember how uncomfortable my mother was at these events. She would complain, saying she was uninterested in my dad’s friends. But looking back, I now know she was simply nervous, anxious.  And maybe even scared.

 

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There was this one– very memorable office Christmas party we went to — my mother was very uncomfortable the whole night. Normally, at a party, my mother would quickly calm down after having a drink or two— but this time, the alcohol did not even relax her. My mother decided to wear high heeled shoes instead of boots to the party. There was a lot of snow on the ground. Somehow upon entering the Christmas party, my mom slid across the floor and got one of her heels stuck— she then tripped and landed on top of the Christmas tree.  Both came crashing down. It was awful.

 

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I can understand why my dad signed us up for the mediation classes. I believe he was trying to help my mother find a way to calm her restless, anxious “monkey mind.”

 

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  • Monkey Mind:  a Buddhist term meaning unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.

 

Recently, my older sister had a friend come over to teach us about mindfulness. It was an attempt to help our mother find relief from her anxieties and worries.

 

 

During the meditation–my mother’s behavior was not unusual (for her). She kept fidgeting, interrupting and talking loudly.  She was incredibly resistant to just being quiet and calm.  I think this is why she has trouble sleeping at night.

 

 

I am beginning to see that this is a shared family trait– on my mother’s side.  My mother’s older sister, Ruth, visited us over weekend. She had not seen my mom since the stroke (more than 9 months ago).  Both my mom and my aunt Ruth were very nervous when they saw each other. My aunt Ruth normally brings gifts. This time she brought a whole lot of JUNK.  She said she did not have time to sort through what she wanted to bring prior to driving up from Florida. Of course, she meant well. But clearly she too has anxiety, nervous issues and she is a hoarder.

 

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The other night I thought maybe prayer would be the answer to my mother’s nerves and her restless mind. “How about we say our prayers out loud?” I said. She rolled her eyes.  “Oh God!,” she said.  I suggested we get on our hands and knees. “It will be good exercise for you,” I said.   She refused.  I did it anyway.

 

 

A big lesson for me is: You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

 

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I realize now that acceptance of my mother’s choices and beliefs– is the best way to maintain my own balance.  As Gertrude Stein said, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Meaning–things and people are what they are.