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Good morning! It’s Day 1 of NaBloPoMo! (And NaNoWriMo!)

Hello friends and bloggers! I am so excited to be participating in this month's NaBloPoMo hosted by the amazing BlogHer! By adding GypsyRue to the official blog roll at BlogHer I have set a goal for myself, my readers and the other (around 400!) bloggers who are part of this, to write one new blog post a day or share a photo, poem, drawing. I am delighted to have a chance to learn from more experienced bloggers, find new blogs to love and share a lot more of my world with you! Oh, and if that's not enough, I'm just crazy enough to be signed up for NaNoWriMo as well! I've been meaning to try to reach the elusive 50,000 word fiction goal for NaNoWriMo for over a decade now, but I'll be honest, I've never gotten past the first typed page!

Not only am I psyched to start writing the novel that has been slowly unfurling in my brain for years, but it will be such fun to be writing fiction for NaNo (shortened names saves writing time!) and also write about the topics I am passionate about here- things I love that I want to share, including how we manage to get through life with no "real" jobs, why I have been called the Queen of Odd Jobs- and more importantly how you can pick up extra work for the holidays through one of the many great businesses I will profile each week, recipes that my family and I love, book reviews, learning aromatherapy and medicinal herbs with the goal of being certified in both next year and sharing ways to use natural, healing ingredients such as essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax to make lovely homemade gifts for the upcoming holidays. I spend much of my day in my kitchen, listening to the roosters (yes, plural- the extra two really need a new home!), cooking meals from scratch for my family, trying desperately to keep the herbs in the windowsill from dying, making new batches of lotion, diaper cream, solid perfumes and so much more!

This month will also challenge me to get a lot better about time management and meal planning- things I have been letting slip for too long now. I work as a freelancer and I also have a rare, chronic, very painful disorder and mild disability, which makes getting through easy days challenging. 3 and 1/2 years of failed surgeries and medical treatments, too many medications and failed procedures have led to me getting very far from where I hoped to be in life. My husband is a disabled Army veteran with wretched migraines and spinal pain, so two parents who are more often than not hurting badly plus the demands of life with healthy, hyper children makes some days a challenge. Since Western Medicine has failed to help both my condition or improve my husband's, I am studying all I can about natural healing remedies and taking it upon myself to get back to eating as little processed food, factory farm meat, anything with GMOs and fruits or vegetables sprayed with any of the -cides. I have so much to share with you!

I have a tendency to be quite wordy. In the case of NaNoWriMo, this will be a benefit, but for those of you who just want a quick glimpse into what you'll see on GypsyRue this month:

1. Recipes! Mostly vegetarian, vegan, minimally processed for ethical reasons. Lots of baked good recipes because I love to bake! I will practice meal planning and hope to learn and share ways to make meal planning easy, fun and ultimately be things my very picky eaters will love!

2. Fun with Fermentation! I just got my first three crocks. I have many, many SCOBY pancakes in my kombucha, but I can’t wait to try other things like sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar from apple peels and cores.

3. Essential Oils and Aromatherapy- I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils, but I appreciate all the quality essential oil companies out there. I turned to Young Living after trying some and getting some relief from my 3 + year nerve disorder, and getting one too many essential oils from eBay and Amazon that smelled like ammonia. Blech! I am not certified yet, but plan to be soon. I’ll share uses of certain oils and some lovely items to make for yourself or others using essential oils and medicinal herbs, which I am now studying and attempting to grow. I do not have a green thumb. It’s nothing short of a miracle that the basil I have in the windowsill has survived for four months now! There’s hope for me yet!

4. How To Work From Home (and Perhaps Make Enough to Pay All Your Bills!) I have been an independent contractor for over 18 years. I have worked for a very wide variety of companies and individuals doing all manner of tasks that people would rather pay others to do for them. I have a knack, a penchant or perhaps just an odd but handy skill for finding ways to make money that are off the beaten path. Not illegal- don’t worry- just unique, which means there is a better chance that you too can make money from it because it’s not say, getting paid to take surveys online (which you really don’t get paid for and are not worth bothering with!) I’ll share some of the best companies for those of you looking for a few extra  dollars or a full-time job. I have found many scams, but I have also made a living working from home, through mystery shopping, customer service, editing, several odd jobs and more. I hope to help others find a job or short-term gig, and also know where to look for future opportunities.

5. Time management. Aside from being a requirement if I hope to do this much writing for the next 30 days,  I need help planning my days and weeks much better. Yes, I work from home, but I find myself sitting at the computer for much too long each day. I want to create a schedule that includes time to read (and write book reviews here!), time to start meditating…finally, time to cook, craft natural, homemade gifts and things for my home, body, family that are cheaper and healthier to make then the toxic cousins at the grocery store or online! Time management will be a work-in-progress-project.

6. Support for those who also suffer life-altering diseases, disorders and disabilities. I hope this will be a place where we can support one another, share stories and find ways to live life fully despite pain, fear, exhaustion and side effects of medication or treatments.

7. Farming, kind of. My family and I live in the Southwest where there is only one season-summer-pretty much all year round. While I prefer this to snow, it makes it quite the challenge to keep any plants, veggies, fruit or herbs alive. This month I’ll be focusing on rare plants, mostly edible that are possible to grow in drought conditions and  temperatures outdoors during summer of 110 and up. When we started our homestead a little over three years ago our intention was to raise heritage breed (endangered) chickens. We have a motley crew flock of chickens now, as a result of wandering feral dogs and other predators. The main problem we face each day is that we began our little farm right as I was diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder and my husband began having severe spinal pain and migraines. As a result we may have to cull our flock down to our lifers- those few hens and one rooster who have names and our love. It’s heartbreaking to have to put a stop on our dreams for now, but I look forward to a day when we are well enough to get heritage breed chickens and a couple Nigerian Dwarf goats for milk, cheese making and soap making! One day! I just have to help my husband and myself feel better first- with or without the help of medical professionals.

That’s about it for now! I did mention my inability to be concise, right?! Thanks for visiting! Introduce yourself and stop back any time. I am new to the blogging world, so Gypsy Rue will be improving and growing each day. Have a lovely weekend and be well!

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How To Cook: Cous Cous

Perfect, basic instructions for simple, fast Cous Cous!

The Pear & The Purple Peach

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A few people have asked me how to make Cous Cous as I think some are unaware of just how simple this little gem is to cook and how versatile it is! It can be sweet or savoury, plain or spice it up I love it as an alternative to rice

What is Cous Cous?

Cous Cous is Semolina.

The couscous that is sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried, The couscous swells and within a few minutes of preparation it is ready to fluff with a fork and serve. Pre-steamed couscous takes less time to prepare than regular Cous Cous, most dried pasta, or dried grains (such as rice).

How to Cook

Simply place I cup of Cous Cous into a bowl and add 1 cup of boiling water, cover and let sit for about 5 mins until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork season…

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“You do not have cerebral palsy.”

I was shocked, and then so happy to read this news article when I sat down at the computer today. A 33-yr old woman, Jean Sharon Abbott, was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy at 4 years old. She only saw one neurologist, because he was the best in the area, according to other physicians. (I heard the same thing about the neurosurgeon who screwed up my MVD brain surgery in 2013, but that’s another story.)

After a pain pump implanted in her body to help lessen the pain of cerebral palsy over medicated her, a doctor who specialized in the pain pumps referred her to another neurologist. After viewing her MRI and CAT scans that showed no sign of the damage to white matter in the brain, typical for those with cerebral palsy, and observing her gait and symptoms, the neurologist shocked Abbott by saying, with a huge smile, she did not believe she had cerebral palsy. Abbott did not believe her at first. Of course she has cerebral palsy. She has spent three decades with the symptoms and limitations of CP. She had a highly regarded neurologist that had diagnosed her disability and had treated her for it since she was four. The new neurologist explained these are also signs of dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD), which is characterized by muscle weakness, spasms, tremors- similar to CP. It could be largely corrected by one medication. Abbott thought the new doctor must be crazy- she had spent a lifetime suffering the effects of what she was told was cerebral palsy, and there was no reason to believe otherwise. After talking with her husband, Abbott decided to try the medication for DRD, and within DAYS she could stand alone and walk without the characteristic gait of CP. This answered why the MRI & CAT scans of her brain showed no signs of damage, as is seen with those who have CP. She had undergone massive surgeries, a full body cast and nearly three decades suffering from the wrong diagnoses. Now she can live a life she never thought was possible- picking up and playing with her three children, and hiking 10 miles- all after a life where walking across a room was painful, awkward and likely to result in a fall.

In the link to the article below, Abbott explains she has limited video of her walking and otherwise showing the effects of what she was told was CP (I can absolutely relate- I hate seeing pictures where my knees are facing together, my left arm hanging limply in front of me, as it does when I am exhausted. I despise seeing photos of myself- seeing only the flaws that have been pointed out to me over the years from my mild cerebral palsy.) Despite this, she made a bold, brave and compassionate decision to lessen and then not take her only medication for DRD for a few days, to show others by video, who may or may not be misdiagnosed with cerebral palsy, and who have never before heard of dopa-responsive dystonia (one of many different types of dystonia), what she looked like- like a woman with cerebral palsy- prior to receiving the correct diagnosis. Within a few days her walk across her kitchen and back goes from fast and confident to a shuffling, awkward gait I recognize so well as my own, while holding onto the counters in the kitchen for balance. Only one day later, back on her medication for DRD, she records a video as she is once again standing without aid, and can briskly walk, without the, as she puts it, “Butt sticking out while I walk” stance that characterizes my walking as well.

I am amazed and so happy for Abbott and her family! She is living a life with much less pain, and has the mobility that was unavailable to her for three decades. One of the most surprising things to me? She harbors no ill will, hostility or resentment towards the neurologist who misdiagnosed her and treated her for over 30 years as a patient with cerebral palsy. Perhaps it was an honest mistake. Yet, there should have been some doubt, or at least a second opinion given when her 4-year old brain as seen on the MRI and CAT scan showed no signs of damage from CP. And yet.

I think back to how challenging it was, especially for my mother, and also my father, grandmother, and several other relatives to care for me when I was young, and I only have mild cerebral palsy. There were near-constant doctor appointments, ear infections, allergies, physical therapy at the doctor’s office and at home that my mom tirelessly drove me back and forth to and monitored. She assisted me, with loving kindness, but also tough love, through the many painful physical therapy exercises I was required to do each day. I hated them all. Each hurt my body in a different way, and made apparent my weaknesses, but I was told they were mandatory for keeping my limitations from cerebral palsy under control.

One of my clearest memories from this time of always being a child who was limited in my movements and balance, and often ill (this due primarily to also being born 4 months premature)  was one appointment where I laid on an exam table, wearing a tank top and undies, surrounded by specialists and physicians who looked at me like a curiosity from the Muttter Museuem.  I was around 7 years old. This is when I first felt the hot rush of red-hot shame of being different and disabled. None of the doctors spoke to me or made eye contact. None gave any thought to how terrifying it was to lay on the table, all my imperfections exposed, while they spoke amongst themselves about my various physical deformities. “Notice her knees, hips, curvature of spine.”

There would be many, many more instances like this – awful bullies, ignorant strangers asking, without thought, “What the hell is wrong with your legs?” When I became a young adult I spent a great deal of time getting many (free) tattoos- a perk of my first husband being best friend’s with an amazing tattoo artist. I cared little for what the tattoos were, though I’ve always enjoyed Bettie Page and the other pin-up girls that adorn my arms and legs. I got several piercings, dyed my hair as many colors as possible, alternated between a truly awful bleached blonde mohawk and long, black hair like Morticia on The Addams Family, with perfectly formed Bettie Page-like bangs, to in order to draw attention away from my legs and how I walked. It did not always work. I know full well I was not the only child, teen or adult bullied and mocked for my physical differences. The words, the shared glances between doctors and other people sear themselves into your memory- whether bullying and abuse was minimal or physical and inescapable.

Abbott’s story is all the more poignant for me, now, as I begin the long fight against the neurosurgeon who misdiagnosed me with Geniculate Neuralgia in 2013 and performed a cranial nerve brain surgery, incorrectly, not following protocol. Only last October, with the help of many wonderful people donating to my GoFundMe, my parents lending me a large amount of money, and my best friend from Cleveland, who suffers from many severe health problems and autoimmune disease, accompanied me to Pittsburgh, where one of the top two neurosurgeons in the country for Geniculate Neuralgia practices, did I learn, in 5 minutes that I had been misdiagnosed. I was scheduled to have this neurosurgeon perform a second MVD- correctly this time around- to ease the constant, ever present, wretched knife stabbing pain in my right ear. Instead he took a quick glance at the MRI image of my brain, stated unequivocally that I was misdiagnosed, and that the surgery I am still recovering from, where the neurosurgeon here hacked open my skull, “massaged my nerves” and screwed my head back together, never should have been done. It was done completely wrong. I knew that almost immediately following the surgery. To learn it was a lie though, and one that he in all likelihood knew he lied about (based on how quickly he ditched me as a patient after the failed brain surgery and sent me to what I learned was a pill mill in town, where doctors send troublesome patients to get hooked on massive, late-stage-cancer levels of Methadone.) Addicted patients do not pursue doctors that screwed up their surgeries.

I do not know that I could be as forgiving as Abbott is to her first neurologist. I understand her reasoning. She is delighted to have a new life, new abilities, a whole world open to explore- by walking, instead of being carried or pushed in a wheelchair. She harbors no ill will, because she is too happy that her future holds a life not limited by cerebral palsy. I am so happy for her. I’m so glad someone took the time to question her diagnosis. When I received the news that I was not going to receive the second surgery last October that would likely end my pain from what I was told was Geniculate Neuralgia, I wept. I am still fighting the overwhelming sadness and all the steps necessary to begin a long fight against the neurosurgeon who misdiagnosed me. Perhaps I could be forgiving if there was an alternative answer or treatment in my case, with the second opinion, instead of just no, the diagnosis was wrong, I don’t know what you have, best of luck dealing with the pain on your own. There was no happy resolution with the second opinion- only confirmation that I had, as suspected, been duped and had a neurosurgeon groping around my brain with no idea as to what he was doing. I am thankful he did not do more damage. I can’t forgive him. I won’t. To do so would be to live with a big what if. “What if he screws up the surgery on someone else, worse than he did to me? What if it is a child? A mother or father? Anyone.” No one else deserves to have their life derailed by not only a misdiagnosis, but a hack job surgery involving the brain. I wish I could forgive and forget. Anger is a poison I dislike having coursing through my blood.

I am so glad  that Abbott can, and she is well, and faces a future that is much brighter and full of movement, joy, love, adventure. For now, mine is not. Mine is focused on fighting, and I hate to fight. If I don’t, though, I will not be able to live with the what if, if someone else is harmed as I was by the neurosurgeon who so carelessly treats his patients. I will fight for myself, and the countless others told they have this disorder when they do not. Who knows? Maybe at some point a doctor will discover that one pill for my pain, and I too will record a video showing me living without the constant pain. I doubt it, though. It is enough for me to share and delight in the story that this woman, mother and wife now has her life, pain free, to live and enjoy. It is enough to share the miracle that she has had her life, a better life, returned to her. Read her story, and watch her videos below.

 

https://www.yahoo.com/health/this-woman-spent-decades-unable-to-control-her-116948505828.html

The progression of Jean Sharon Abbott’s life, from a massive surgery as a child resulting in being in a full body cast for one month, then severely limited mobility from the balance, gait, muscle spasms, tension and pain from cerebral palsy, but also DRD if untreated. Last- an updated photo of Abbott standing easily, balanced, pain-free with her beautiful family. What an amazing change- all from a misdiagnosis, and then, ultimately the correct diagnosis and the ability to walk after a lifetime of limitations.

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“Break Free” by Ruby Rose – Breathtakingly Beautiful & Brutally Honest

diva2 Congratulations to Ruby Rose and Phoebe Dahl on their engagement!

I’m quite ill today, so not up for writing, but do want to share. I recently discovered the amazing, talented, honest and so sexy DJ Ruby Rose. Her video for “Break Free” is a brutally honest and beautiful depiction of gender roles and breaking free from the old fashioned, narrow-minded way of living, dressing and acting like a woman, whether gay, straight or somewhere in between. I have a huge crush on her- I’m sure I’m not the only one! I’m so happy she’s engaged to the also quite amazing fair trade clothing designer Phoebe Dahl.

In her interview with The Guardian, Rose talks about gender identity, depression, her life as a model, DJ, and fiancee. Her video will strike a chord with anyone who has questioned their gender, sexuality or who they are versus who they’d like to be, either how perceived – as a man, woman or transgender, or how they feel inside. Note- there is a not-safe-for-underage-people piece in the video, so watch when you have some privacy. Let me know what you think. I am so happy to have found this critically important video that holds nothing back.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/25/ruby-rose-video-break-free-gender

Off to the emergency room later, as I can no longer go to urgent care two minutes away, due to getting fed up with the incompetent doctors at the clinic there. Apparently I cannot be seen at urgent care if I don’t let their hack docs mess about with my health. Tis best- I’ve been misdiagnosed more times than I can count there. The emergency room is a further drive, but they’ll be able to tell me if I have step throat, a wicked sinus infection, or a reaction to the recent invasive and immensely painful series of stellate ganglion nerve blocks. I just want to be able to swallow green tea without weeping in pain. Be well friends. Enjoy the video!

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How Many Kinds of Feminism Are There?

Excellent post explaining many different schools of feminism!

hessianwithteeth

A lot. There are a number of schools of thought within feminism, some of them are better known than others. While there is a misconception that feminism is divided as a result of these various schools, the differences between the schools are differences in methodology and not differences in their end goal. All feminists want equality of the sexes. This has always been the main goal of feminism. But different types of feminism believe that female inequality is caused by different things. Few feminists fit in to only one school of thought.

The different schools are as follows:

Liberal Feminism: Liberal feminists accept the classical liberal notion that all people are inherently rational. Since women are people, women are rational. Liberal feminists believe that it is this rationality that makes women deserving of equal treatment.

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Marxist Feminism: Marxist feminists believe that the inequality suffered by women is caused by capitalism…

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Angelina Jolie- Beautiful, Sexy and Amazing

angel This is absolutely my new favorite photo of the sexy, exquisite and inspiring Angelina Jolie. Who else wants a metal collar now? I do! Photo at Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/1RBysXmdUG/

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Happy Riot Grrrl Day in Boston (and Everywhere Else!)

sleater-kinneyMy favorite riot grrrl band ever! Sleater-Kinney rock!

According to the attached article from Flavorwire.com, Boston mayor Marty Walsh has announced that today is Riot Grrrl Day. For those of you lucky enough to live in Boston, Kathleen Hanna’s band The Julie Ruin will be playing tonight at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. (If you go to the show, please send me a pic or two!) I cannot contain my absolute delight that it is Riot Grrrl Day in Boston today! I will be putting on some Sleater-Kinney, read old zines and recall my years as a riot grrrl! (Three friends and I even started a band called Booby Trap. Sadly, none of us, except our drummer, knew or learned how to play instruments. I think I’ll use the name for my next blog!)

On a serious note, I will consider this an official holiday until the day women get paid as much as their male counterparts, when it’s not a 1 in 5 or 1 in 7 (depending on where you get your statistics) chance that you will be raped if you are a woman in college, or simply a woman anywhere, that men who abuse or rape women are found, prosecuted and put to death, instead of given the putrid excuse of “boys will be boys” or at best being given short prison sentences while getting a college education.

When rape and abuse of women is something no one ever tolerates, and our entire society gets pissed off enough about their daughters, mothers and sisters becoming victims who are blamed for being attacked (if they even report the attack at all, which is far too rare, and based on the very real fact that nothing will be done to the rapist even if a woman reports them), when misogyny dies a slow and painful death, I’ll consider Riot Grrrrl Day no longer necessary. Until then we should act as though every day is Riot Grrrl Day.

I’m off to buy a “Kill Your Local Rapist” from the Etsy store link in this article. (Buy yours here too: https://www.etsy.com/listing/228852232/kill-your-local-rapist-1-inch-pinback?ref=sr_gallery_30&ga_search_query=bikini+kill+patch&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&source=aw&utm_source=affiliate_window&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=us_location_buyer&utm_content=85386) I would have settled for the man who raped me being arrested and imprisoned. Considering the police refused to even take my report of rape, I don’t think the killing rapists button is too extreme.

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A BULLY INSIDE

The 11-year old son of Samara, an amazing blogger and mama who writes at A Buick in the Land of Lexus, shares his insights into bullying in this post. Hastywords, another amazing blogger who knows Samara and her Little Dude, was kind enough to share his writing here on her blog. It will bring tears to your eyes, and give you hope that our own children, and definitely Little Dude, will bring a stop to the bullying that is so prevalent in schools and the rest of society. Thanks to Little Dude for his insight and compassion!

HASTYWORDS

I am so very excited to share my guest today. “Little Dude” and his mother, Samara who writes A Buick in the Land of Lexus, are two of the smartest people I know. I have had the wonderful pleasure of seeing snippets of their life, how they interact, and how they love each other and I am blessed by them. He will surely hijack your heart here.

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A BULLY INSIDE by Little Dude

Today, bullying has become a major part of school life. It should have never become this way. It affects the lives of too many children of our world. Bullies themselves have felt bullied, either physically or emotionally, and victims of bullying usually go on to become even worse bullies themselves. Many bullies have become the way they are due to isolation, neglect, or just being labeled by others as “different.” A bully can be created from something…

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