Losing Focus

The beginning of the year came and went. My weight was ballooning. I wasn’t watching what I was eating like I should have been. I was feeling really down on myself. As an emotional eater, that didn’t go well for me.

About two months ago, I had a few health problems. Nothing major. Just things that go along with the disorders I already have. I decided it was time to do something. Anything. Even though I’ve been striving hard toward self love, I always fall short. I hate the way I look most of the time. It was time for that to change as well.

I read up on the ketogenic diet. My doctor had already said low carb would be best for me. Basically, eating low carb makes your body use the stored fat/energy it has rather than using the carbs you take in with food. I’ll include links at the bottom for the curious. I read a bunch on the benefits and the drawbacks. Making up my mind, I put my best foot forward.

I am the type of person that has had probably a thousand of the defining moments where you think of what it is you want to do, you prepare for what you want to do, and then after a week or two, you just flush the whole idea. Not this time, I determined, as I took a long hard look at myself.

I am very personal with my health. I don’t tell people more than the necessaries usually. That’s how I am. That’s just me.

For the past year, I’ve been struggling with my hormones, thyroid, autoimmune, and diabetes. The thing a lot of people don’t realize about these disorders is that they come along with many other issues. My tests last year showed the beginnings of diabetic kidney disease. The ACR test, for those who haven’t heard of this, determines your kidney damage and if you have kidney disease. As for the results, under 30 is great, 31-299 shows early kidney disease, and above 300 shows advanced kidney disease. Last year’s test showed me at an 86. I had early kidney disease. My A1C was bad, I had heart palpitations, I was breaking out all over especially my face, I had zero drive, and I was miserable. I realized I’ve been on autopilot for a long time.

Recently, I’ve made changes. I’ve gone low carb. In just a few weeks, my life has changed. People say things like that all the time, and I am not one of those people, but holy crap, my life has changed.

I realized just how doable this lifestyle change is. I can have cheeseburgers with bacon as long as there’s no bun. The only thing I have truly missed is fruit. I still eat berries, but I have to take care to watch my intake. Sugar is sugar after all.

It took only a few weeks to see changes. My rashes went away. My face cleared. I lost fifteen pounds. My blood sugar has been perfect.

My most recent trip to the doctor was the most positive one I’ve had in ages. My cholesterol was good (for those concerned with increased meat intake), my blood pressure was great, my A1C was perfect, and my early kidney disease is reversed. My ACR went from 86 to 14. I am on track to completely reverse my diabetes. My doctor’s office was tickled pink.

I noticed I’m eating more real food and very little processed junk. When I do eat out, Hardee’s can make any of their burgers or grilled sandwiches low carb. This means substituting a lettuce wrap for the bun. My current favorite is the charbroiled chicken club. Tony gets the low carb frisco burger. He even said he never realized how many flavor he was missing out on with the bun.

As for my mental health, I’ve been staying away from Facebook for weeks. I think that helped with my blood pressure, but I digress. Instead of focusing on the outside world, I’ve been focusing on myself and my husband. I’ve been writing. A lot. Maybe not blog material, but it’s been great either way.

Tony is not a man of words. Strange how opposites attract. He made it a point to tell me the other day how proud he was of me for sticking to my guns. We went out to eat with his family. I ate a steak and a salad. I barely missed the bread and potato.

I lost focus for a while. I worried about things that don’t matter, stayed on an emotional roller coaster, ate with my emotions, and was actually killing myself. I’m not saying I haven’t slipped a time or two, but this is the most doable change I’ve ever made. I’m going to keep focusing on myself, keep my health in check, and make sure I don’t lose focus again.

 

https://www.dietdoctor.com/

https://peaceloveandlowcarb.com/the-ultimate-low-carb-resource-guide/

 

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Jose’s

Joses

My husband and I have been fans of the Perdomo family for years. Jose used to work for a local Mexican restaurant. He managed it in a way that made you feel welcome. If he saw you more than a time or two, he knew you by name, knew your preferred drink, and more often knew what you wanted before you did.
When we heard that he was going out on his own and opening his own restaurant, we were happy for him. We knew anything he did would prosper.
When the doors opened and we went to see what Jose and his wife, Mandy, had accomplished, we were excited for them. He’d made a beautiful restaurant. The colors were warm, the staff wonderful, and the menu was varied with items that sounded so good, it was hard to choose.They offer an array of favorites from tacos, burritos, and enchiladas to hamburgers, steak, and baked potatoes. If I start talking about the fajitas, we’ll be here all day.

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Jose Tacos, crispy tacos with warm beef and fresh toppings.

I remember the first time we went to Jose’s, the salsa was the first pleasant surprise of many. It was bold with highlighted flavors of lime and cilantro. Most places skimp on the cilantro, but Jose knows his stuff. Tony is a guacamole man. He is disappointed in the whole meal if the guacamole isn’t good. With the first bite of Jose’s guacamole his eyes lit up and a slow smile made it’s way across his face. He became an absolute fan. I got the blackened shrimp tacos and black bean soup. I like to consider myself a foodie, but I was so unprepared for those tacos! The shrimp was seasoned and cooked to perfection. Shrimp is so easy to overcook, and Jose’s has it down to an art. The subtle spice of the shrimp paired with the tangy mango salsa blew me away.

As a testament to their success, Mandy and Jose soon got a bigger building across the highway from their original location. It’s even more lovely and has a lot more seating. It’s light with great atmosphere. The dark wood and metal gives it a modern feel. I believe it is exactly what our small town needs. Any time the doors are open, there are cars in the parking lot. I’ve never seen it have a slow day, and I pass by pretty often.
Our most recent visit solidified what I know about Jose and his staff. Everything they do is consistently good. The salsa is always my favorite. The chips are seasoned and warm. They work hard to keep your glass full and always have a smile.
I really guess I should not call myself a foodie. I’m from Mississippi and up until now, I’d never had shrimp and grits. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this.
I remedied my shaming situation at Jose’s. I’ve heard nothing but good about the shrimp and grits. However, I was not prepared. The grits were some of the creamiest I’ve had. Some creamy grits tend to be too thin, but not these. The consistency was just right. The grits were covered with cheese, remoulade, bacon, and green onions. In proud positions on top were six large grilled shrimp. My taste buds went into overdrive as I enjoyed spoonful after spoonful.

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This is after I took my first bite, so a shrimp is missing. Note those grilled jalapenos. Yum!

Tony got the chile rellenos which are a personal favorite of mine. They came so hot from the kitchen that even the last bite was warm. The rellenos are covered in melty, gooey cheese. The rice and beans are flavorful on their own. Tony mixes them and swears it’s the best thing ever. He also got some grilled jalapenos. I stole a few and added them to my shrimp and grits. I know I’ll definitely ask for them next time. We didn’t have room for dessert, but we sometimes get the fried cheesecake. It’s always spectacular.

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Tony’s chile rellenos. We seriously need to work on our photography.

At the end of your meal at Jose’s, you feel at home, you have a full belly, and you leave happy. Also, the salsa is good enough to drink, and no one will judge you for it. If you don’t believe me, ask Tony.

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For more information (and better photography) about one of our favorite hometown places, Jose’s, please check out the links below.

Jose’s Restaurant & Grill

834 Franklin Dr. SW, Magee, MS 39111

601-439-7155

https://www.facebook.com/josesrestaurantmagee/

https://www.instagram.com/josesrestaurant/

Marie


I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen. At her elbow, I watched her make biscuits lovingly and with enough practice for it to have been considered an art. She raised her children along with children who weren’t born of her body but were hers all the same. If you tried to say different, you would most likely get more than your feelings hurt. She worked most of her life nursing broken bodies along with broken hearts. Nursing taught her to handle herself and keep calm in most any situation. She was blunt with her words and subtle with her emotions.
After she retired, she threw herself into her home whether it be baking, sewing, or mowing the yard because no one says lawn in the South. She cuddled any baby she ever met and sang the same song to every single one she rocked. Nursing did not end when she retired. She nursed for years her cancer stricken husband and a sister with severe diabetes. Her husband went first, and she never quite recovered. When she did not know anyone was around, she would spend quiet moments in the room where he wasted away before that final trip to the hospital. Sitting on his bed, she would close her eyes for a time, let out a slow breath, and then get on with her day to day chores.
If she ever loved you, she would cook for you, tend to you, and fight for you until she just couldn’t. She was never the most tender of people. After you got a hug and offered food in your time of need, you were told to dry your tears. Crying never did a single soul any good in her eyes.
When she died, my world shifted. It was hard to believe that someone so big, even if she was just so big to me, was gone. I cried for a time. I could hear her voice as clear as a bell telling me to dry it up and be tough like she knew I could. During her wake, the lights went out at the funeral home. Even though it startled everyone, those who knew her personally laughed. It was just the kind of stunt she would pull. I smiled for the first time since she died standing in the dark. When I think of her now, I can only smile. I picture her sitting on her porch in the rocking chairs she loved as she watched cars go by. Those chairs should have fell to pieces with all the miles she put on them. I see her in the kitchen at her stove mixing up a batch of cornbread batter for her cast iron skillet. When I try to describe her most words don’t seem enough. She taught me how to be polite and to swear. She was never anything more than herself and I wish I could have an ounce of the confidence she carried. She was my rock and taught me how to be one myself. I may not be what she was every minute of my life, but I have moments where I can feel her come to the surface. When I feel lost, I find her in me and it’s in her that I find myself.

Today, she would be 93 and has been on my heart all day.

Now is Not Your Forever

While reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, I read a quote that says, “Now is not your forever.” I had to stop and just be in that for a moment.

I’ve been so concerned lately with bills and problems and drama and just life that I haven’t thought about how temporary all of that really is. These are issues that may not matter in the least in 5 or 10 years. And yet, here I am sighing and stressing over things that I shouldn’t be and looking for answers where there probably are none.

This nonsense that is keeping me up at night is not permanent.

These moments that seem to hurt so bad will hurt less in the coming time.

This worry that I carry will not help any of these situations.

This now is not my forever.

Thanks, John, for this reminder.

No.

Standing in the hallway at school in ninth grade, I remember a boy that I never really cared for, but tolerated, calling me a bitch because I wouldn’t let him be handsy with me. I was putting my things in my locker when he touched my backside and asked if I was “interested” in not so polite terms. I removed his hand, gave him my best death glare, and said no. His exact response was, “Good because you’re a bitch anyway.” I remember telling him he was right and stomping off.

Later, as I over thought and overanalyzed what had happened, I got really sad. He called me a mean name because I wouldn’t let him fondle me in the school hallway. I took it to heart. After thinking about it, I got really mad all over again. If standing up for myself made me a bitch, then so be it.

I’ve seen it time after time where a girl rejects someone, and they retaliate with name calling or worse. Then come the rumors and whispers and retaliation.

If you say no, you’re a bitch.

No should be a word of empowerment.

Over the years, I’ve gotten more comfortable with no.

No, you can’t speak to me that way.

No, I’m not comfortable with that.

No, you can’t touch me.

No, I won’t accept the status quo.

No, you can’t walk all over me.

Use your no. Own your no.

Now, if someone calls me a name or is rude because I said no. I smile. You have the right to say no and stand up for yourself.

Own your no.

Women who have gone before us have not always had the right to say no. We owe it to them to use what we are able to now.

Use your yes as well.

Yes, I am angry.

Yes, I said no.

Yes, I really meant it.

Yes, I am offended.

Yes, I am standing up for myself.

Use your no if you’re not comfortable, if your heart says no, if you know what’s happening is wrong, or if someone is mistreating you.

Always use your no.

Self Love

I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about how we view our bodies and ourselves. It’s almost never positive. If I asked a random woman on the street what she liked about herself, and then what she disliked about herself, I bet we can already guess what list would be longer.

Society has created visions of what the perfect woman should look like and shoved it into our heads and made us believe there is no other way. We have made these irrational views the social norm.

Because of these insane views, I have disliked myself and my looks for years.

Everything from my weight to my feet, I could give you a list a mile long of things I don’t care for about myself. I see this in other women. They are scared of gaining weight, getting older, and doing everything in their power to stop both of those things. Everything from starving to doing extreme things to their bodies.

Instagram has a community of women who are about body positivity. This is body positivity at any size, any shape, any form, and any fashion. Women who wear a lot of makeup, women who go barefaced. They encourage body love and self love, but also receive a lot of hate. When I read comments on positive photos of themselves, there are people who say that they are fat, unhealthy, and ask them how they can even show their face on the internet.

What does this tell you about our society? A woman can post a photo of herself online and show a little positivity only to be told that she’s wrong. Why can’t a woman have fat and be beautiful? Why is it so hard to be positive or move along rather than be hateful and cause someone to feel worse about themselves?

If there is one thing I know for sure about being overweight and unhealthy is that it only gets worse until you love yourself enough to do something about it. We need to instill in our children a love of self and, at the bare minimum, a respect for their bodies. Just because you are shaped differently than someone on TV, does not mean there is anything wrong with you.

It’s up to us to break this norm.

I am obese and have been most of my life. I’ve found that in my low times, I turn to food as a comfort because in those moments, I dislike myself and my body. During those moments, I don’t care that what I am putting in my body is not good for it.

I’ve been transitioning over the past year. I’m coming to terms with my body and learning to like, if not love, the skin I’m in.

I’ve started doing yoga and eating more veggies. I am in no way vegetarian, but I’ve been eating meat only once a day, most days. I pay more attention to my body and the way it moves and the way it feels. I am more mindful of my body.

My feet are wide but are a good foundation for balance in yoga. My legs are steady, hold my body, and move me from place to place. My hips are shifty and offer better mobility. My back has it’s issues but has carried me for 31 years. My chest and ribs protect my heart that sends blood throughout my body and carries oxygen and water and nutrients to every part of me.

Sometimes, loving ourselves is hard and could use a little help. Getting to imagine yourself from another’s point of view can really help your view of yourself. A family member, friend, or significant other can really open your eyes to yourself.

I asked my husband to make some notes on what he liked and admired about me. The majority of what he wrote was about my mentality. For someone who is not wordy, I was impressed. A lot of it was flattery, but he did very well with his assignment.

He said he appreciated that I’m strong and that I really put myself into whatever I’m doing whether it be cooking, planting flowers, or putting up with him. His words, not mine.

He said that he admires my ability to immerse myself into my writing or reading.

I thought about what I like in myself. I like that I’m compassionate and empathetic. I love my appreciation of nature and living things. Finding things that you like in yourself and recognizing those traits will put you on the right track for self love.

The human body is a miracle and universe unto itself. It all connects and flows to make your body function as a whole. Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” How amazing is it that we are made of the same thing as the stars? When you think of your body in that fashion, it becomes much easier to love.

Before I close, let me tell you something that I am still learning myself. PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST.

Striving for perfection is like draining the ocean with a straw. No matter how hard you try, you will not reach perfection because it simply does not exist. Just because I love my body doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve it. I want to make it healthier, stronger, and better because I’m learning to love it. So, on the national day of love, I encourage you to love your body, love your heart and mind, and love something about everything about yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Writer’s Block

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I’ve been frustrated lately. Creatively frustrated. I’ve been mad at my computer for something it did not do. I’ve been angry about it’s blinking cursor and blank pages without words. I’ve felt dried up and uninspired. I thought maybe if  I went back to the fundamentals. You know, pen to paper. I put pen to paper and waited for something to happen. The only thing that happened was that I scribbled and scrabbled and got even more frustrated.

I’ve words and stories a-plenty in my brain, swirling about in a never ending vortex. I just can’t get a good connection between my brain and my fingers. I’ve tried all the usual suspects to no avail.

I’m discouraged with my inconsistency. My last blog did really well in terms of views and visitors. I think I’ve gotten intimidated by it. Doubts and insecurities can wreak havoc on one’s creativity. I came to the conclusion that I should write about being uninspired and insecure and all those things going on with me.

I’ve sat down numerous times with my computer and determination only to be let down. I’ve put on my game face, tightened my ponytail, and set my teeth only to give myself a headache. In this case, headache leads to heartache because I am disappointed in myself.

After searching WordPress, I’ve found I’m not alone. There are lots of creators out there with brains and hearts on hiatus. I found I’ve been more inspired these past few hours from the one thing that calms and helps always. Reading.

I wish that I could say I’ve been reading something new, but I can’t. I’ve discovered in recent years that I am a rereader. I’m not sure that’s a word. Microsoft Word says no, but I’m going with it. I’ve been reading something that I’ve already read and using it as a comfort. There’s no anxiety, no rush, no suspense. It’s just me and old friends I’ve known for a while taking a stroll down memory lane. It’s reading words that are familiar and seeing something new in the pages.

Stress is more than likely a factor in all this. I find the best stress relief is to go from cover to cover. It’s like a salve for achy head and heart.

I’ve been writing more fiction in private than things I wish to share on my blog. I love my blog. I’m proud of it. However, I’ve recently alienated myself from it. I’m not happy about this and intend to change it. Hitting a brick wall when you want to be on an open highway is frustrating to say the least. I’m slowly taking a pickaxe to it. Please be patient. I’m undertaking an uphill battle in my writing life. There is so much I want to say, and my brain is failing me.

Becky’s Burger

I’ve lived in Magee nearly all my life. Zip burgers have always been considered the best burger to be had. I grew up on them, and they are wonderful. However, that’s a blog for another day.



Hidden back behind the old elementary school in Magee, Mississippi is a gem of a burger joint. The exterior doesn’t look like much. It’s to-go only and is ran by a sweet lady who makes a mean burger. It’s so good she named the main item after herself. 

The Becky Burger is a big beautiful hunk of meat with cheese between buns to match  with your usual burger toppings. My husband likes his with bacon. The meat has a terrific flavor and is hard to eat without making a mess. You’ll end up with juicy goodness running down your chin. I usually get tots with mine. This time I got tots with cheese.

The menu has something for everyone. The picture I have is not a very good one but shows the large variety they offer. How do they fit all that food in that little building? The world may never know, but boy am I thankful. They offer ribs on Friday which I’m told are wonderful. A member of my group got fried chicken. The breast was huge and was tender and tasty, and everything you want fried chicken to be. The pork chop was also mighty fine. Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve heard Ms. Becky makes a mean salad.

We set out to get our Becky Burger order almost bouncing with anticipation. We arrived to find the parking lot full and customers like us who were ready to get their grub on. Having to park on the street was no big deal. I am a supporter of local businesses in our area. It makes my heart happy to see any small business busy and doing well. We made our way up the window to pick up our order. Greeting other customers, we chatted for a bit being early and our food not quite ready.

Once back home, we divided up our grub and commenced to feast. Other than talking about how great everything was, we barely said a word. Even with our special requests, no tomatoes on this one, no lettuce on that one, and even gravy on fries, we got what we asked for and enjoyed every bite.

With a belly full of goodness from our favorite hole in the wall, I recommend you seek it out and experience it for yourself. 


New Year, New Me

New Years Eve, I planned to make a huge pot of potato soup. You can’t go wrong on a cold day with hot potatoes, ham, sautéed onions, and parmesan cheese.

So, a run to the local grocery store was in order. We’re seeing record low temperatures for central Mississippi. I had the following conversation with every person I met:

“Hi. How are you?”

“Good, but it’s cold out.”

“And only going to get colder. Happy new year.”

“Same to you. Stay warm.”

If Southern folks can’t agree on anything else, the consensus is usually the same on cold weather and ice. My cashier said that they were running low on milk and bread as is the norm for extreme weather in Mississippi.

My soup was tasty and my cornbread was pretty and also tasty. I haven’t made a sweet potato pie in a while so that was on the menu as well.

My husband’s Mimi and mom couldn’t make it so me and my best bud took them a big bowl of soup, cornbread, and pie. Molly enjoyed visiting and had to sniff out the whole area.

I decided that my inner child would enjoy some fireworks. Tony is suffering from a bad cold so he stood in the back door and watched me fire off a few. After a few minutes, I knew it was too cold. I headed in and got in my warm pajamas, fuzzy house shoes, and cuddled up under my blanket.

While Tony and I watched t.v., I reflected on my year.

I’ve been seeing New Year, New Me posts. I don’t intend to be a new me. I like me. Do I need some bettering? Yes, but don’t we all. I don’t want to be a new me. I want to be a better me in 2018.

Better reader.

Better writer.

Better friend.

Better wife.

Better employee.

Better me and all that means. 

Eighty 

I remember being a little girl and seeing my Papaw standing at the edge of his garden and looking out across it. That particular time was early evening. His feet were planted firmly, his mouth set, and the look of a man who knows his land settled on his face. There was power there and pride. He put his heart into his garden and took pride in that it would help to feed his family.

When he turned to look at me, he smiled and said, “Come on, gal. Let’s get pickin’.” I would hold out the hem of my oversized t-shirt and use it as a tote as I trailed behind him holding the fruits of his labor. When it was full and too heavy, I waddled back to the house to turn what we’d collected over to Mamaw.

Then, when the work was done, we’d sit in the swing and sing. Sometimes I sang along, others I just listened. His voice carried tones of the old south and emotions set to melody. He sang of pain and love and told stories in song. Some of the old and some of the new and some he probably came up with as he went along. His voice was country with soul and blues and something particular to him.

I remember riding along with him on the lawn mower and “helping” him push the tiller to turn the soil. I wore his too big gloves and dropped seeds and made every step he made. I listened to tales of him growing up. I wish desperately I could remember more.

He kissed booboos and dried tears. We giggled and smuggled candy and watched many a-sunset. He would twirl me around until I couldn’t stand and laughed at all the silly things I did.

At his funeral, I listened to one of his closest friends tell of a day in 1956 when some rowdy boys visited Weathersby Baptist Church because they heard the girls there were pretty. Mamaw was one of those girls. She’s told me before how she and my Paw met at a peanut boil at church. Brother Johnny said that on the day he recalled that Paw answered alter call and accepted his Lord at the front of the very church where he met my Mamaw, and the very church where we were currently having his funeral.

He said that out of that group of boys and the pretty girls at Weathersby, my Paw was the only one to find his girl and get married.

My grandmother used to talk about how they were married in a house with cracks so wide in the floorboards that you could see chickens walking beneath them during their wedding.

My grandparents were always simple people. They worked, loved, and lived in a simple, old fashioned way as husband and wife for 61 years. I’ve tried to imagine 61 years worth of living much less marriage. I’ve watched my grandmother, my Mamaw struggle with his death. I watched her before he passed sit beside him and hold his hand. She would rearrange his blanket and hang her head.

Today, he would have been 80. We’ve lived a few weeks without him. His void is definitely felt. However, I find peace in knowing that he is breathing fully on his own again and walking wherever he wishes to go. He has left the struggles of this world and his earthly body. His sun has set.