The “Country Living” Things No One Talks About

some of them are a bit…well, GROSS

Image by Michael Drummond from Pixabay

Note: I chose this picture because a cow exactly this one was recently found roaming the streets in my community. A farmer took it in but had to keep it secluded from his other cows because it was “creating a ruckus.” No one ever claimed the missing cow.

Living in the country is a blessing. I cherish the country air, the country sounds, and mostly the country atmosphere.

But there are a few drawbacks that will make you cringe.

Here are my top weird and gross, or maybe scary things that you may not idolize about country living.

#5 Trash

Trash is, well, gross. When you live in the country there aren’t these smiling folks on a trash truck coming around to take away your bags of garbage, neatly tucked inside a trash bin at the curb.

Nope. You have to haul that mess yourself. Think — trash, ooey slimy sludge in the bags — IN your car. Or, get a truck for this. Those guys leave litter trails all the way to the dump. Which, by the way charges you per bag to take your trash. In our town the recycling is free you just have to dump it out into the recycling receptacle, which is this large metal container like an open dumpster.

The trash you put in the trash bin and pay the trash guy who sits in this little cubicle.

My boyfriend drives a small SUV and I drive a Beetle — so you can guess whose car gets trash duty. On the day after a “trash haul” I hate having to borrow his car. Peeee — yeeeewwww!! (We keep a tarp in the back on which to set such trash — he is not so good at taking the tarp out of the back of the car afterwards. Thanks, babe.

So — where to put the trash until it is hauled off. How to store it. Carry it. Dispose of it. ONE silver lining though here — I LOVE burning things. I have a special place for “burnables” and I am in charge of the burn barrel WIN!

#countrygirl #pyro

#4 Noise

Yes, country living can be noisy. Country roads are often cut-through roads or they are mid-sections of larger highways — and the transfer trucks cut through on the road next to us to get to some manufacturing facilities nearby. Loud.

Country boys and girls like loud vehicles. Those big roaring trucks are the worst.

Get used to gunfire, especially on the weekends. Nothing unusual. People like keeping their target-shooting up to par. Holidays? Get ready for gunfire and a spectacle of fireworks. This past 4th of July we stood out in the yard and watched the neighbor damn-near set the yard on fire with a rogue aerial firework. I’m not sure who moved faster — the rocket or people running from the rocket.

If you’re looking for peace and quiet — you’ll have it mostly out here, but when we make noise, we do it big, rumbly, and BOOMING.

#3 Driving

Get ready to driiivvveeee, because the nearest anything is too far to walk. Our grocery store is nearly 10 miles away, along with most everything else. The little town nearest me is a mile away — 3 stoplights, a bank, a gas station, post office, and the tiniest little library you ever did see.

Worry about getting stuck behind a school bus? Try getting stuck behind a tractor, or a gigantic combine in corn-harvest season. Or a guy on a scooter, in the rain, carrying tires on each arm. (True story.)

Yep, it happens. You’ll put country mileage on your vehicle and you might want to have AAA.

#2 Smells

Speaking of driving — am I totally weird in saying that the smell of a skunk carcass doesn’t offend me? It is almost pleasant, in a very strange way.

But I will never get used to the cow manure fertilizer smell that hangs on the air like a gross, invisible funk-fog. Thank goodness that’s usually a few times a year and not all the time. But if you live near either a paper factory or a chicken farm, forget it. I can’t even tolerate those smells driving by!

There are some funky smells that occasionally ruin our fresh air. One not-so-stinky smell that you’ll get a lot out here in the country is the wafting smell of burning leaves. In general, country folk like burning things.

😉 #countrygirl #pyro


(Speaking of smells — did y’all read this? Good Lord — what is that smell?)

If you live in the country — you are in their territory.

Cockroaches, spiders, wasps, worms and slugs, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, and a whole lot of other things — they make noise, they come through your yard (or your walls depending on the size of the critter), they have babies under your house, or decide your trash is their favorite hang out spot — and you will have to deal with them.

This is not a place for the critter-squeamish.

I’ll be honest, wildlife is part of the reason we love living here — but not when it moves under your home and dies between the insulation and the shell of the bathtub. Yuk. (True story.)

Not when a snake falls from the front door as you open it and lands on the dog. (True story.)

Not when a bear rips all your bird-feeder poles right out of the ground and peels open the bird-feeders like peeling bananas. (Get pepper suet — they don’t like the pepper taste!)

My least favorite — the roaches. Prepare for war. One you can win, but have to continue to win over and over and over. They will inherit this Earth. No doubt.

My very favorite country critter was when we were living in this sprawly wild space in central Florida. The armadillos. They really do bury their heads in the sand and pretend to be invisible… like, little dude, I can STILL SEE YOU.

Stay tuned for more tales of country livin’…

Christina Ward 🌼 is a poet and nature writer from North Carolina. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science, and a writing minor from Catawba College.

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On the Outskirts of the Blue Ridge

a poem about an afternoon drive through the beautiful foothills of the N.C. mountains

Image by Christian B. from Pixabay

Hilltop mobile homes
parked in rows with
weary cars and tufts
of unruly grass.
They are weathered,
as am I.
Collections of scrap-metal,
small gardens boasting
late tomatoes, plump
red flashes on the vine.
Corn fields in thick
mounds that hug the earth.
Bovine fields gathered in fences.

Each blind bend in the road
is a new thing of some old things
to see, to let my eyes and soul
linger there in possibility.
Wouldn’t it be nice to
live here in this quiet
gathering of apple orchards
and tender rolling hills
that reach here and there
to the sky?—the way that mountains do.

The clouds move in thick
syrupy drifts over the peaks
rolling carelessly down each
curve, making a tender crawl
to the valleys before the trees
swallow their mists. Everything
moves slower here.

Christmas tree farms dot the steep
embankments, sloping up toward sky.
A mountain stream appears
and winds the same path as we—
it moves silently, adrift a stony path
alongside the road, carrying
inner-tubers, canoeists, brightly-colored
Saturday fun in the cool waters
of Blue Ridge. Everything
moves slower here, as do we.

Christina Ward is a nature writer and poet from North Carolina. Stay in touch!

Circles and Stones

a free verse poem

Photo by Halanna Halila on Unsplash

You cast stones
lift your curses high,
chanting carried away,
to hide and wait for you…
its return three-fold?
I think no goddess hears you.
It is a barren place,
your circle.

It is my pleasure,
to wipe your sweet nectar from
proboscis and pen,
parts of your soul
digging into mine. (I use it!)
I abuse it, this loving that I must do.
After all, you hate the thing that feeds you.

I am Ophelia.
I will rise, collect wretched daisies
and pass them out one by one,
to gaping faces,
sterile-hearted creatures
that watch me drift downstream
and know not my spirit.

But you! Stone in hand
your anger rises, a fat red circle in the sky.
Your blacks and greys writhe
behind bulging, hollow eyes,
twist inside your vertebrae.
You light your candles fool!
You collect your symbols…
Idolatry! Curses! Hatred!

It is a barren place,
your circle.

I ran into a guy some years ago who professed to be Wiccan, but his “practice” of it was mingled with mental health issues and a gross distortion of what Wicca stands for. Please do NOT consider this poem as a blast of Wicca — it was most certainly not from that place. I am a practicing Christian — and I believe people have every right to believe and practice their faith as they wish. But any time a person is using their religion to do harm to other people — this is not ok with me.

This man heard me make a comment about missing someone I loved who had broken off a relationship with me. The individual I wrote this poem about was so angry at my comment — all I had said was that I missed someone who had meant a lot to me — and this guy lost his marbles. He began calling me all hours of the day and night (I think he thought I was interested in pursuing a relationship with him and I was NOT at all!) cursing me, cursing my name, cursing my children — saying that he had placed an actual curse on me. He then had his WIFE call me and do the same. It was terrifying. They claimed to be calling on all kinds of witchcraft to damn me. He said he was a Warlock with special powers to destroy me.

After this terrifying experience, I wrote this poem as a way to cleanse myself of the anger and fear. I wanted it to be clear that it was not a slamming of any religion or belief system — but more a fit of screaming anger at two seriously crazy people who tried to destroy my spirit. This poem was originally posted on MySpace if that tells you how long ago it was. I stumbled upon the poem today in my files and thought I’d share it. Hopefully, no one will take offense — as it was not intended to be offensive.

Interestingly — I only knew this person for TWO WEEKS!!

Thanks for reading Circles and Stones. I am grateful that poetry can be liberating and help us to heal.

Peace be with you!!

Oh, The Nerve(s)

the night before a surgery isn’t a relaxed one

Cup, Tea, Porcelain, Drink, Decor, Break, Still Life
Pixabay, No attribution required

This one will be brief.

I’m nervous. But since I like to look for the elusive silver-lining (seriously, WHAT is a silver-lining anyway?) I thought I’d make a quick list to help me re-focus my thoughts from the nervous energy, the Prednisone coursing through me that makes me a raging meanie (currently with heartburn) and keep my mind off the dismal surgery outcomes for tomorrow.

At least I have a supportive family, who loves me (and who better do the dishes if I am sleeping )

At least my SO has already mentioned making sure we had plenty of soup in the house–perhaps he’ll feed ME!

At least if I can’t eat much i might lose weight. (Ok unlikely but I’ll even take 2 lbs if it’s a LOSS.)

At least there’s netflix.

At least this is a one-time thing!

A least there’s a chair on my front porch that I can sit in to listen to the birds–and it’s supposed to be a pretty day tomorrow!

At least I am reading a good book.

At least I start a poetry workshop on Friday!!! I won’t be able to talk but I can listen.

At least, even in fear, pushing through makes us stronger.

At least the Prednisone isn’t forever–and my family members have already devised a safety plan for themselves. (Yes, I am THAT awful on this stuff.)

At least, I know, that no matter what, God’s got me, my family’s got me, and I am tough.

At least the Gofundme raised the money I need for the surgery!

I asked Robbie “What if the nerve’s messed up and I can’t smile anymore?”

He said “Baby I’ll love you no matter what, besides you don’t smile with your mouth, you smile with your eyes.”

I am so blessed.

Humility in the Ugliest Car Ever!

exploring the world in “style”

I went to see my Mom for Mother’s Day today and took my cross stitching with me. It was nice to sit and reminisce while I worked. We talked about the olive-green monstrosity that our family lovingly dubbed the “Mount’in Car.”

Now I can’t tell you exactly what kind of car it was, but I can tell you it was a drab olive-green, a station wagon of some sort, and it sat an entire Girl Scout troop once going on a field trip.

There was a bench seat in front with the standard parallel bench seat behind. Then another two sitting back to back behind that. There was a door that opened across the tail end of it and if you sat in the rear-most seat, you got to ride backwards. One door, the passenger side door as it were, was smashed in just enough for that door to be rendered useless.

It was the ugliest car I’d ever seen.

And My Daddy paid 75.00 for it. He came home from work one day and announced his purchase to my mom and said they needed to go and see about this car, to make sure it was still parked where it was supposed to be; there seemed to be some confusion as to whether his frugal purchase was actually going to be there.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the car and the gut-wrenching horror that I’d have to ride around in that thing. The car we loved to hate eventually became a car my mother loved—it sat so many people!

We had to have it towed home. I am not sure what all my Daddy had to do at the time to get that terrible monster of a car running; but we nicknamed it the “Mountain Car.” I am not even sure how we came up with that name, only that there could have been a thousand other ugly names perhaps more suitable.

I know the picture is blurry, but this is the only picture I am aware of that we still have of the Mountain Car as all five of us (me, back left and my three brothers and my sister) dressed up in our Easter Sunday finest posed with the beast.

The front passenger door you can see is ok, but the door behind that was crushed and this is the door that my middle-school aged self would have climbed out when Mom dropped me off at school, if it would have opened properly. Instead I had to crawl across to the driver’s side and take an embarrassing walk around the back of the tank of a car to the greeting stares of my classmates.

I begged her to please please just drop me off on the corner. Nope. Mom pulled up right in front of the school with a car full of kids and dropped me off right in front of the cool kids. God, I hope they don’t remember this as clearly as I do.

My mother did grow to love the car for the simple reason that we all fit comfortably and could spread out throughout the back, which probably cut down on the bickering between siblings as she drove. Friends had plenty of space too and it came in quite handy for Scouting expeditions.

We all grew to love the companionship and comradery, the experiences we shared as a large family on the road. I only remember breaking down once on the side of the road and hanging out with the strangers that lived there while we waited for my Uncle Mark to come and help my Daddy make the repairs.

We went everywhere in the Mountain Car. The most memorable experiences I had was when Dad would come home and say, “Load up, we’re going to look for deer.” Now this meant the same thing every time; we’d make the trek over to Morrow Mountain and drive slowly so that we could scan the woods for white-tailed deer. We’d stop the car and count any we could see. This was our way of having fun.

I remember seeing a great-horned owl swoop out of the trees and right up the windshield, wingspan as wide as the window. A family of skunks with their little black and white waddling babies crossing the road and climbing into a stump hole. A deer with a severed tongue hanging plump and pink from its mouth—Daddy found the Park Ranger to report this. We saw the tiny fawns with their spotted backs. Learned the term “button buck.”

We felt alive, there on that mountain, our olive-tank blending in with the trees.

Occasionally we’d hit the hiking trails for a bit, but the hiking adventures were usually a day of their own. Dad would select a kid or two for a day of hiking. I knew those trails well.

On the way to Morrow Mountain was a little dirt road that cut off a portion of our drive by a mile or so. It was a shortcut we termed the “Dukes of Hazzard road.” Dad drove quicker than a dirt road called for and we watched the dirt cloud swarm behind us, imagining that we, in our ghastly Mountain Car, were in the Dukes of Hazzard fleeing Roscoe and his “good ‘ol boys.”

We called him “Rosco Pico Train.” We really were “somethin,’” we thought.

I am not sure whatever happened to that car. I know my two sons have had similar stories with some of the questionably functional cars I have had; some costing me less than a month’s rent and purchased sight unseen. “Does it run?” was about all I’d ask. Humility, getting by. Getting to work no matter what, breaking down often…these are things a lot of kids today do not experience.

It is wonderful to ride around in a comfortable car, AAA on the ready, a button that sets the alarm or opens the doors. It is another thing altogether to pry open the groaning smashed door that Daddy finally got to open and slide across the bench seats to fight for window space and head out to explore the world as a family; no laptops, no cell phones, no tablets playing movies just to keep our minds busy and quiet.

We had each other.

And we stared out the windows counting cows or looking for deer. Who cared at all what the “cool kids” would think? I am sure they didn’t even know where the “Dukes of Hazzard road” was and that was their loss. The humility we learned in that car came in the form of grand adventure, and that was worth 75.00, for sure.

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The Mourn

a poem about the emotional trauma of hysterectomy

grayscale photo of woman right hand on glass

in time, eggs drop
as they may
a crimson furnace burns
waits for them
then rejects even
the idea of babies

babies that refuse to be bound
and tear their way out
leaving you
to your stitches

these eggs, they stay now…
where are they to go?
a furnace burnt out
removed scoop by scoop
fleshy tumors in a pan

I am not ashamed that
I screamed at God.

who would now mourn
these tiny keepers of
life? I must say I,
and I alone.

no more fat and bald
purple-plump and wet
wan cries erupting
gurgle and shriek
I am alive
I am alive

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#Kindness–We Need More of it Now!

Empathy on the decline in America

Woman Wearing Brown Overall

Declared this day, April 26, 2019 a federally threatened concept: Kindness.

My father likes to spoil cashiers. It’s nothing creepy or stalky or flirty. He simply picks up a candy bar when he’s waiting in line, pays for it with his groceries, then hands it to the cashier and wishes them a good day. It is done as an act of kindness. My father always tried to teach us to carry kindness in our hearts for other people. (This is not to say we don’t have a temper at all, just that kindness is the goal and we strive very hard to treat all people, regardless of station, creed, color etc. with kindness.)

There is a new phrase currently being thrown around in online communities that gets my blood boiling. That phrase is–

sit all the way down

or “here’s your chair,” or “take a seat,” or other even uglier ways of saying it. It is a very dismissive and condescending way of telling the other individual that “my opinion just trumped yours and made you look stupid, so now you are to shut up and go away, you complete imbecile.” You can also insert all kinds of expletives in there as well.

Perhaps you have seen people saying this?

This phrase, I consider to be one of the most egregious things you can say to another human being. By saying this, you are telling that person that your opinion, your very existence, does not matter. YOU do not matter. You are invisible. Useless. Perhaps I am completely missing the mark on this colloquialism, but I don’t think so. I have never seen it used kindly or in a joking or sarcastic manner. It has always been in a bullying situation. (Bullying in America by adults is an entirely other and even longer blog article.)

I shop at a lovely grocery store in my community called Lowe’s Foods. I shop there for one reason: the people are always friendly. It has nothing to do with the pricing, the availability of the grocery items I am looking for, or the arrangement of goods on the shelves, it is the people.

When I cannot find an item and ask a clerk for assistance, someone walks with me to find what it is that I need, and they do it with a smile. When I am checking out, regardless of my mood or however complicated my number of coupons or number of payment methods, they are friendly and courteous and helpful. This is why I shop there. But kindness is in the job description, right? I don’t know that I have paid much attention as to whether the customers there are following the same manuscript.

I frequent writers’ groups online. I encounter droves of the most friendly, helpful, supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. But all of these people are working toward a common goal of learning and self-promotion. There is an undercurrent of purpose to their kindness which is not to say it isn’t sincere, only to say that there is a community of a common goal. Without this mask of commonality, would kindness prevail? Remove this and what is left? Visit, Twitter, Facebook, or your local Walmart, where there is no common thread and see what kindnesses you encounter, and I am sure you will have a very different experience.

Recently I went with my family members to a hospital in Charlotte. My grandbaby girl had a doctor’s appointment. Myself, my adult sons, my teenage daughter, my boyfriend, my toddler grandson, my daughter-in-law, and my grandbaby daughter were all getting into an elevator when a woman and her two adult sons were standing outside of the elevator causing quite a scene. The woman was cursing very loudly while the two young men stood there looking forlorn and extremely embarrassed. She was very angry at the doctors for some reason and was cursing violently.

My three-year-old grandson said something about the screaming and yelling. I had his hand. As the elevator doors were closing, I said to him “No, honey we don’t act like that.” Meaning, no, we don’t yell and cuss. I was merely trying to tell him not to yell and cuss. I didn’t mean for anyone to hear me but him, but clearly, I didn’t speak quietly enough.

The irate woman assumed that I was speaking to her and turned her screaming toward me, charging the elevator doors, thankfully too late to enter the elevator with us. She assumed that my being white meant that we “white people” don’t act like her being “black” and as the doors to the elevator closed, I stood there stunned with my heart racing, clutching my terrified grandson’s hand. I knew instantly I had made a terrible mistake.

We rode the elevator down to the floor that would take us near the parking deck and when they opened, the woman was coming out from somewhere. She had followed us. The two young men followed along some distance behind, not saying a word and staring at the ground. We couldn’t find our car in all of the confusion as we tried to get away from the screaming woman, now threatening to throw our grandkids into the road and watch them get run over by a car. We went back into the hospital and called for security. Our grandson was yelling back at her to stop yelling. He began to cry.

We were terrified.

I don’t know why people are so angry. Or why we have lost the ability to just be kind to each other. Just see each other as human beings. We are all here with the same love in our hearts for life and family, hopes and dreams, visions for what our life could be, struggles and bills, health concerns, losses, moments of laughter. We all look in the mirror and analyze the way our hair sticks up or how the arch of our brow looks weird on one side or whether or not our hair looks grayer today or whether or not we look like our Uncle Ray. We all think about death and traffic. We all get hungry. And we ALL need kindness.

I have grave concern for our country right now for the current administration and the paradigm shift toward disrespect, intolerance, hatred, acts of violence, and deceit which is genuinely disturbing. This psychological trickle-down effect has been morally devastating to our country and all it takes is one quick scroll through Facebook to see the cesspool of humanity.

According to the Compassionate Action network, compassion is defined by emotion researchers as the feeling that arises when one is confronted by the suffering of another individual and is compelled to do something to relieve that other person’s suffering. This is a normal human response. My question is, what is happening in today’s society to block this normal human response? Or better asked, what is happening to discourage this human response? Have we gotten so self-absorbed as a society as to elevate our own needs and pre-thought notions, especially those of time and judgement: “I am in a hurry. I need to get home and start dinner. I want to watch this TV show or read this article. Can’t this person just shut up? You know they are wrong for wearing that. Ugh, I hate people like that.”—so much so that we can no longer be bothered with the needs of others?

“When we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”

—Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

In an article on The Science of Compassion, the Compassionate Action Network discussed how kindness and compassion can improve our lives. It can reduce the risk of heart disease by boosting the positive effects of the Vagus Nerve, helping to slow our heart rate. It can help people become more resilient to stress, strengthen the immune response, make people more socially adept thereby reducing the negative health effects of loneliness.

“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”
–Bob Hope

That “feel good” feeling you get when you are kind to someone has a biological component. This is due to the release of endogenous opioids, causing elevated levels of dopamine in the brain. This gives us what some call a “helper’s high.”  The emotional warmth we feel is due to oxytocin releasing nitric oxide causing a reduction in blood pressure. There is even research suggesting that kindness helps to slow aging and to reduce inflammation.

Those are all great arguments as to why we should be kind and how it would help –ourselves. But shouldn’t we take some time to consider how we’ve been treating the people we come in contact with on a daily basis, and how we might improve that–for them? Not based on the merit of those interactions, or the perceived worth of the receiving individual, or whether or not you stand on the same side of the political fence or church steeple or bank parking lot as that person, but just for the purpose of serving our community? Bettering the community we live in and lifting others around us even with small doses of positivity?

We are currently being conditioned by “the administration,” by the media, by social media, and by each other to seek out every difference we can find, to pick apart those differences, and to then use those differentiation as reasons to alienate, shun, and abuse each other.

I say we are better than this.

It’s time we incorporate some #Kindness in our lives, regardless of whether we agree with the other person, whether we like their skin or not, whether we live in the same kind of home or not—because we are all humans tied with the same kind of humanity to the same earth.

We ALL deserve the dignity of human kindness.

The Compassionate Action Network gave some great advice on their website ( on how to incorporate compassion into our daily lives, based on research by Stanford and Emory Universities:

  • Find similarities: Seeing yourself as similar to others increases feelings of compassion. One recent study shows that simply tapping your fingers to the same rhythm as a stranger increases compassionate behavior.
  • See people as individuals rather than abstractions: When asked to support an anti-hunger charity, people were more likely to give money after reading a story about one particular starving girl than after reading statistics on starvation.
  • Believe in your power to do good: When we believe we’re able to make a difference, we’re less likely to suppress our feelings of compassion.
  • Notice how good compassion feels: Studies show that compassion and compassionate action activate the brain’s reward center.
  • For parents, teachers, and caregivers: Research suggests that compassion is contagious, so if you want to help teach and cultivate compassion in children, the best practice is to lead by your own example.

Today when you inter-mingle in your town, at work, in your family, and online, how about a little more than the half-hearted hello? How about holding the door, offering to help someone with their groceries, help someone who is having a difficult time getting out of their chair?

Maybe you can find something nice to say to someone who you normally wouldn’t even consider speaking to? Try finding common ground with people who you don’t normally associate with, looking up from your phone long enough to engage in a polite conversation, giving extra time to consider the opinions of others while reserving judgement, setting aside differences and deciding that it is ok to disagree and still both be deserving of respect and dignity?

How about treating each other with a little extra dose of kindness today? How about just smiling at someone who looks like they might just need a smile and a little acknowledgement?

I leave you with the thoughts of one of the kindest souls to ever walk this beautiful earth:

 “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

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Thank you loyal reader–and I know it is extremely unprofessional to leave calls to action, but in the effort of expressing kindness, will you leave a little for me in the form of a comment, so that I may do the same for you? I would like to get to know you as a person. Tell me something about yourself! Have a wonderful day and I hope that you find many things in this day that bring you genuine smiles.

Yikes Y’all, The Spring Hell is HERE

Bring on the Ailments, the sunshine, the mouse, and the broken clock!

Brown and White Bear Plush Toy

Just to be clear, I am not a hundred percent sure what day it is, and that is just being completely honest. I know that my boyfriend took me to the emergency room and that we were there for an extended period of time and got home very late last night.

I was certain that clock on the wall in that tiny ER room was broken…no WAY it was nearly 11 pm…no WAY! I thought it was in the afternoon. When Robbie told me what time it was I argued with him and laughed at him.

My face felt fuzzy. We were there because on Easter Sunday I had started to have trouble walking. The entire left side of my body is numb, limp and it’s affecting my walking. I also feel fuzzy-headed, a bit confused. BP up. Potassium low. CT scan normal. They ordered neuro-follow-up (finally) to rule out MS. Fun times huh?

The helicopter was awesome! I have never seen one of those things so close up. The propeller spins so fast but when you try to video it the blade looks like it is turning so slowly. That is so bizarre to me. They were there to pick up a patient. The landing pad was right outside the lobby.

I video-ed the helicopter for the grand babies—who are at their home right now—who missed Easter with the family at my Mom’s because the have Hand Foot and Mouth Disease!! Ugh. My poor babies 😦

SO I was at the hospital TERRIFIED because I have an anxiety few people know about–I am mildly emetophobic. That is the fear of vomit or vomiting. So you can imagine a trip to the ER is difficult for me. We were there for almost 10 hours. I survived it. It was hard. Hard.

Come home to my daughter. And. My. Son. VOMITING.

And they have both now been sick for going on 15 hours. I drove my wobbly ass to the store today and bought Lysol, soup, Pepto, and crackers and have been giving them water and Pepto (the ONLY thing they can keep down) while keeping at arms length and washing my hands and spraying the hell out of everything with Lysol.

And they have been TROOPERS. Not ONE complaint. I feel so bad for them…they’ve been SO sick.

Oh the mouse??

Yes, my son, the father of the beautiful baby girl and toddler boy with Hand Foot and Mouth? Caught a mouse today…was the bewildered victim of their large and playful dog Ollie who captured the poor critter coming out of the laundry room today…I am sure after the week they have had over there with two sick small children and no sleep…that it was the comic relief they all needed.


Thank you my loyal readers for allowing me these brief moments of venting over the woes of my last few days. I hope the stomach bug has passed by your house and you and yours are not dealing with any sicknesses. My current issues are many as I deal with the issue in my neck, awaiting a chiropractor visit next week, an ortho visit in a month, and a neurologist visit (if I can even afford to go) soon to see if I have MS. The bone spur and disc issue in my neck and the nerve that is going haywire in my face is causing me a lot of pain and the whatever that is causing my left side of my body to not work right is really scary. But at least they have ruled out a stroke. Health issues are very upsetting and can dominate your thoughts, keeping you from being there for your family in the way that you want to be. And now I am ruminating–forgive me.

Many blessings to you…have a wonderful night. I am going to head over to my account and post some updates there….till next time fiddleheads!!


7 Things to ADD to Your Spring Cleaning To-Do List Now!!

It’s “Spring Cleaning” time! We make our lists, gather our buckets and micro-fiber cloths, our Swiffers and our brand-new mops, and we go at it. Washboards, windows, that crusty stuff on the stove hood, that icky black corner behind the toilet, the hair pulled from the drains. We go at it with ferocity and yank open our windows so the place smells like Spring. The birds sing. The music dances all around us. We feel accomplished, fresh, and ready set a fresh bouquet of flowers on every table top.

Spring cleaning is a wonderful way to freshen up our living spaces and renew our sense of comfort in our home, but there are a few things that may not have made your list. Here are some things you may not have jotted down on your Spring Cleaning TO-DO list, that should totally have made the cut:

  1.  Give your home a “clean” check. Swap out some of those cleaners with green cleaning solutions such as white vinegar for those pesky smells (Just put some white vinegar mixed with water into a spray bottle and spray away!) White vinegar mixed with baking soda is also excellent for scrubbing. Safe and non-toxic, safe for the pooches, and once the vinegar smell evaporates (quickly) it takes stinky smells with it…better for the environment and better for the health every living thing in your home. What feels better than clean? GREEN glean 😊 And, while you’re at it…unplug everything in your home that you are not using. Save some money while you’re checking off your list.
  • Clean up your online face! What do I mean by this? Just take a cruise through your social media accounts and remove anything that may be, let’s just say “unclean” or “unpresentable.” What you project out into the world matters. If you are unkind to people or posting drama-related junk, just remove that mess. The world does NOT need any more toxicity and unkindness in it. Cleaning up your online presence also helps you to attract less junk into your life. Have people on your friends lists that are always bringing negativity? Bye. Bye. Life is too short to spend parts of your day wasted with that nonsense. Present yourself respectably and get respect. Show the young men and women in your life how it’s done. Had an argument for the world to see? Delete it, drop it, be done with it, and move on. Clean it up and enjoy less drama in the days ahead. Who knows, you may find you like this cleaner-online-you!
  • Clean up your language. Take some time to think about what you say, before you say it, and practice uplifting others, genuinely. You’d be surprised what a change in your life this can be. It is so easy to get stuck in a pitfall of complaining. Try a different approach. See where positivity can get you in your relationships and with your attitude. It will make the days have more spring than drag.
  • Have you cleaned out your car lately? Add that to the list. And don’t forget to refill the window washer fluid to help with all those pooping spring birds that are filling the air. It’s hard to enjoy your beautiful spring day when you can’t see past the bird poop in the shape of Louisiana that’s parked right in your line of sight. Enjoy the birds but get rid of that poop.
  • Clean out your pets’ homes.  Don’t forget your furry and feathered loved ones with the stinky kennels. Get them some fresh bedding and swap out their crusty toys for new ones. They will surely thank you with peeps, and songs, and thankful tail-wagging.
  • Clean out your phone! Get rid of unused apps. Go through the 4000 pictures and get rid of the ones you don’t need anymore. Delete all those unneeded texts and emails. Swap out your ring tones for new ones and feel like you are starting afresh. Delete old contacts! You know you are never going to call that guy you sold something to on Craigslist like 3 years ago! Delete. Clean it up and bask in the glow of cellular clarity.
  • Hit the “refresh” button on your soul by spending a little time outdoors. Leave the phone. The Tablet. The laptop. Grab a bottle of water and something to sit on and park yourself in a quiet place with nothing but the trees, or the field, or creek and the moss, and just BE. Listen to the sounds of Spring. Watch a bug going on about its expeditions. Just spend a little time away from the electronics and let the beauty of the natural world soothe your soul.  Nature is a healing and restorative thing that we often neglect to immerse ourselves in…I invite you to spend a little time soaking up the warmth of the Spring sun and feeling the Spring breezes on your face. You will feel rejuvenated and renewed.

Do YOU have any Spring renewal plans for your life? When the mop bucket dries and the windows close will you feel like your spirit has also had a cleansing? Spring is a lovely time of the year to hit the reset button and start something new.

Christina Ward
writer, poet, blogger

Starting a New Medication – A Lyrica Warning!

Before starting any new medication, you need to read this.

After the first pills, the pain vanished. My hands, my arms, my back. I felt magnificent. I recall sitting on the bed and watching the muscles leaping and twitching in my arm. The involuntary movements were entertaining, at first. My fingers twitched and leaped. My arm jerked. My shoulder twitched as the electric pulsing ran down my arm. It didn’t hurt. In fact, nothing hurt. The nerve pain in my hands and arms, gone. The nerve pain in my feet, gone. My back pain, neck pain, leg pain, sciatica…GONE!

I felt energized. Creative. I started a bullet journal. Over the course of 3 days I completed over 30 pages of charted notes, lists, extensive drawings and paper collages. I created spreads that I shared all over my social media. All hours of the night, I had paper, scissors, stickers, and containers of markers, ink pens, gel pens, colored pencils. I went through several glue sticks and rolls of tape and needed more.

I felt funny walking. Light-footed, wobbly, like the world was leaning and I was trying to make my feet cling to it. I wasn’t sure I was walking straight. I bumped into things. It was kind of funny, I thought.

Things were appearing in my hands. People appearing in front of me, waiting for my response. Had I been talking?

I was sitting in the bathtub. I don’t remember getting in the bathtub. The water was cold. My head felt foggy as I tried very hard to force memory. What day was it?

I woke up with my face on the stove. I was boiling water. I don’t know why I was boiling water. My family members were staring at me.

I was outside. The rooster was missing in the woods. I was amazed that I was walking on all the sticks and rocks and it didn’t hurt my feet at all! How amazing! I stared at my bare feet with fascination as I tromped through the field, across the gravel driveway, and through the woods. I was crying, very hard, but I wasn’t sure why. I was laughing that I was crying. (I later remember we hadn’t had that rooster for several years, as he had been killed by a predator, while fighting honorably to protect his hens.)

I woke up and I was sitting on the couch writing a letter. The scribbles on the paper were unintelligible for the most part. Other words were terrifying and rambling. One letter was enveloped and stamped and hanging on the “outgoing mail” clip by the door. Inside of the envelope, more ramblings I didn’t remember writing. Was I sleepwalking? I remember talking to someone.

My boyfriend was mad at me. This was very unusual. I didn’t know why. I sobbed on the couch to my 14-year-old daughter that he didn’t love me even though I was having a stroke. She consoled me. What was happening to me? I sobbed on, not knowing why or how I could allow myself to be pouring out myself in such horrible manner to my child, my CHILD!

I became increasingly belligerent. I made a lot of phone calls.

I don’t feel right, I kept telling people. I told the pharmacist, again. I don’t know how many times I called Joe the pharmacist, but the last time I called he called me by name as soon as he got on the phone. The “hold” song from the doctor’s office phone was playing on a loop in my head. How many times had I called them?

Something was wrong, very wrong. I hadn’t slept for days. What day was it?

When I finally reached my doctor on Monday morning, sobbing, feeling excited, creative, fantastic, terrible, and terrified, all at the same time. My arm still jerking, my fingers having a mind of their own.

You are having an allergic reaction ma’am. Don’t take any more of the Lyrica pills.

When I stopped taking the medication, the first day was like a fog lifting out of me, a sobering up, a making amends to the people I had tormented while I was in a medicated stupor. A great sigh of relief, and the return of pain. My feet had cuts all over them. My heels were deeply cracked and painful.

It took nearly 6 months after my 3-day experience with an allergic reaction to Lyrica, a medication my doctor prescribed to me to try to treat my chronic pain, for my arm to stop twitching. My fingers twitched, sometimes uncontrollably, for nearly a year. I still have cracks in my heels. The fear of the experience will never leave me. My family did not know what was happening as a lot of what I was experiencing while taking the medication, was not expressed to them, at least not in any way that made sense. I must say honestly, that it ranks high as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I wanted to share my experience as a reminder to check all new medications for side effects before you start the taking it, so that you can watch out for those symptoms. Have a trusted loved one know this information as well. If my family had known what to look for, they may have intervened on my behalf. Medications can affect your mental health in terribly destructive ways, and you need to be informed. While this medication is a life-saver to many, it is now on my list of “do not take” medications with my doctor, even listed as a medication allergy.

Lyrica (pregabalin) is an anti-epileptic drug medication used to treat neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia, for treating partial onset seizures in adults, and fibromyalgia. Common side effects include:

loss of balance or coordination
Dry Mouth
Breast swelling
Blurred vision
Weight gain
Problems with memory or concentration

Medications can change your life but be very careful HOW you administer a new medication, and be informed, very informed, about the risks. I hope that sharing this experience with you will be a reminder of this, and to pay attention, as well, to family members under your care when they start a new medication. If you or someone you love are experiencing unusual symptoms or behavior while taking a new medication, or at any time you are on a course of medication, please call your doctor to discuss your concerns.

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