Thursday, September 29, 2016

Movie Review - A Little Bit of Heaven - from 2011

 How did I miss this one!?

It’s hard for me to watch movies about death. Maybe it’s my discomfort with the whole inevitability, my mid-life phase, and chronic illness twisting my emotions into denial. Our family lost a young father this summer, and the weight of sadness hasn’t lifted much for his young widow and their kiddos.

But, I’m gonna say, I like how this movie addresses the subject of death, and how it affects a young person.

Most critics hated this movie for the same reasons I loved it. You cannot put emotions into a box and expect every single person to react the same way in serious situations. There is no gold standard for receiving news of a terminal illness.

That’s why I appreciated the message this movie gives to the audience through to the end.

I cried like a big old baby for probably 30 of this productions’ 107 minutes. Almost half.

I don’t cry like I used to, but, this movie brought those emotions out into the sunlight, revealing my vulnerabilities and fears.

Yes, she’s a feisty, free-spirit…but many twenty/thirty somethings are. Kate Hudson’s character, Marley Corbett, is successful, fun-loving, and barricading her heart from love. Who hasn’t let childhood influences control their emotional response as an adult?

Until she finds out her time on earth is limited, and finally reveals to her just how important love is. Marley finally makes love a verb, and it’s touching, raw, and reminded me of feelings I’ve had in my audacious past. When life is reduced to sands in the hourglass…(no soap opera pun intended). Some folks rush to fulfill what others have a lifetime to achieve.

So, yes, attitudes and behavior change rapidly, it’s logical, not just scripted. Some people move to acceptance, and choose to finish their days in joy, rather than gloom.

The supporting cast includes names I’ve long enjoyed in other films. Kathy Bates embraces her role as Marley’s mother, and reminded me in some ways of my relationship with my own mom. In the end, we have more love than we can express.

Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal is softly convincing as the man she comes to love, who loves her in return. They know it will end more quickly than it began, but, it makes it more meaningful somehow.

I’ve loved Rosemarie DeWitt since her incredible work on United States of Tara.  Lucy Punch is the quirky bestie, Romany Malco provides best neighbor support, and Peter Dinklage emerges as an unexpected catalyst.

This film is going in my stack of favorites. Although it was wrenching enough to me I cannot watch it often. I will watch it when I need reminding that it’s time to really live.

Thank you Nicole Kassell for directing such heart driven cinema.

I’m giving this one **** 4 snowflakes.




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Medicated Mid-Life - That Needle is Going Where?

My Medicated Mid-Life

Growing up, nothing scared me more than needles…well, maybe Bigfoot, but, I saw way more needles than I saw Sasquatch.

After living with RA, fibromyalgia, and whatever else my autoimmune system decides to attack, pain became a greater fear. Well, maybe not a fear, but, it became dreaded and interfered with living my life.

So, after trying a few meds that didn’t work i.e. methotrexate, leflunomide, plaquenil…my rheumy and I discussed biologics. So, I started on Enbrel. Hoping for success to mimic a pro-golfer, I agreed and quickly I received my first prescription.

But, I had to inject myself…with a needle…to get the Enbrel.

Well, crap…

Now, at this point in my life and treatment, needles are a normal, routine part of existence for blood work, and flu shots, the occasional steroid boost to eliminate a nasty flare. I became accustomed to someone else administering the needle.

It was my turn, and it freaked me out.

Now, I’m not proud to say it, but, after this disease wracked my body, I stopped the intense workouts I’d been doing. I gained 30 pounds, ick, and became much more, ahem…fluffy.

However, my legs were still fairly muscled, and the thought of injecting into muscle made me sting all over and cringe with anxiety.

But, my mid-section was a nice fluffy, spongy accommodating place of fat cells, blanketing any abdominal muscle like a warm comforter in winter. This would be my target, a place of compliant receiving.

A shot in my stomach? Was I rabid?

(When I was a kid, a girl I knew was bitten by a rabid skunk when it chased her back into her own house. Yes, those shots are in the belly. And, wow, I still remember the nauseating thought I had when we discussed the horror on the playground.)

But, I digress.

Mentally preparing myself, I took the Enbrel out of the fridge to warm a little. Refrigerator cold increases the stinging for me. I went to my quiet bedroom, and made the decision to medicate. I could do this! I’ve had 3 children, done triathlons, smashed my fingers, donated blood, been on the receiving end of a riding crop…all things much more pain inflicting than this little shot.

Self-injector medications are wonderful. The needle comes encased in a plastic sheath, with a button click to get the injection successfully through the skin and the meds into the body. I cleaned the area on my fluff with an alcohol pad, and voila, I was ready.

One must read the instructions carefully. There are two caps to remove prior to dosing. Stretch the area taut, and let her rip.

Unfortunately, after about 3 mos of this self-torture, we decided the Enbrel wasn’t having any affect. I was also having surgeries and needed my body’s immune system a little more boosted. So, I stopped.

Fast forward…two weeks ago.

Surgeries over for the moment, and in need of something to alleviate this pain in my feet, hands, hip, and abdomen. My rheumy and I decided to give Humira a go.

So, still fluffy, I decided to continue the injections in my abdomen. I gotta say, it’s less painful than into my leg muscle, really it is. So, I recommend anyone on injection regimen to try the belly, if the meds you take can be injected into the abdomen.

The first dose, I wasn’t sure. But, I think I have a small glimmer of hope in a reduction of pain. So, I was actually looking forward to my second dose.

I prepped myself, but, in my rush, forgot to take the cap off the needle. I pressed the button and all that lovely Humira pooled in the cap.

Oh holy frick!

I called the Humira hotline, and they are an awesome support system. I explained what happened, and they’re gonna replace this dose for free!

Replace the dose for free.

So, if this happens to you, make sure to save the prescription box. They’ll need the Lot number and expiration date when you call in. You’ll need to call during regular business hours and give them your prescription information. But, all is not lost, and I don’t have to wait a month between doses. #relief

I have high hopes, like the little ant moving a rubber tree plant.
Or, in my case, moving my body with less pain.


“Our bodies remind us it’s essential to keep moving.

And, yes, it does matter.” -Davee Jones

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tuesday Tales and Crawling Into a Cozy Bed

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! It's time for Tuesday Tales.
A group of writers gather together and give our interpretation of a specific word prompt each week. Once per month, we even write to an image. This week, we write to an image.  This will be an excerpt from my new WIP for a new romance contemporary.



“Lola dear, why don’t you come to my house for a few days? I’ll take care of you.”

Laverne fretted over Lola, arranging and rearranging the sheet on the bed.

“Mom, I appreciate you. I don’t think I’ve told you enough.” It was easy now to see how much Laverne loved me. She’d always wanted included, I was good at shutting her out for years. “I’ll come over for a night or two, will that satisfy you?”

A twinkle appeared followed by a full on face smile. “I’m so happy!”

“Tell me my bed isn’t covered in puzzles.” Okay, that was harsh. “You know what, never mind, I don’t care. I’ll push them off when it’s time to go to sleep.”

Walking around, heading toward the window, mom finally breached a boundary. “What about your friend that came with you here? Marty... I believe his name is.”

“Marty is a good friend.”

“I seem to catch a look showing he liked you more than that.”

“It’s complicated, which is probably an understatement.”

“I’ve got time, the nurses are still working on your discharge papers.”

“Marty is Sharlyn’s half-brother.” No more beating around the bush, I put it out there.

Mamma Laverne retracted her neck and head, some thinking hard pose. “Wow, baby girl, this makes much sense.”

“So, I love Marty, with all my heart. But, he knows, he was Sharlyn’s donor, and they are becoming friends. His father, the snaky pedophile I was involved with in high school is dead. I made sure of it.”

“You killed him?”

“No, Mamma, I didn’t kill him. I just beat his dead carcass with a chair. It felt really good too.”

“You truly inherited my way of taking care of business.”

Weights once again left my shoulders. Truth telling was indeed cathartic.

Please visit us at our main site for more interpretations of this cozy bed Tuesday Tales Main Page

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Medicated Mid-Life #teamHumira...maybe

My Medicated Mid-Life
There’s nothing more humbling than taking a child’s pose in yoga.
For real. I mean, taking a break in a yoga class seems like the wuss way out. But, today, I had to do just that. Take a child’s pose. My feet were cramping up something horrible during balance poses. My hamstrings stretched crankily, balking when I folded over.
My eagle had landed. Pun intended.
In class, I was torn between feeling so much joy that I was there, at least doing what I could and crying because my body wasn’t cooperating. At moments, I felt like I was failing in a world I use to govern. A few years ago, I pushed myself, doing just a few more seconds in plank, running a few more minutes, lifting a stronger weight. Now, I’m lucky to sweat.
I relish when I sweat.
I’m ecstatic when I sweat.

I’ll repeat what I said last week:
“I try to remind myself to perform at least gentle stretching exercises every day. Living with RA and fibromyalgia make body movements critical and necessary to well-being. Taking the time for a few stretches helps the ache the next day.”
Yesterday, I took the cycling class and for about 25 minutes, I made my legs push forward. I pretended I was in control again, and not the pain leading the way. So, that was probably one reason my body griped, groaned, and stiffened when I tried to stretch and take the poses.
Our bodies remind us it’s essential to keep moving.
I’m hoping that getting back into a regular routine will lessen the stiffness and soreness I now experience. For now, it’s mind over matter.
And, yes, it does matter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tueday Tales....Make the Call

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! It's time for Tuesday Tales.
A group of writers gather together and give our interpretation of a specific word prompt each week. Once per month, we even write to an image.  You never know what you might encounter when you get inside our minds. This week our group writes to the word- write.  This will be an excerpt from my new WIP for a new romance contemporary- My Only Necessary.


“You’ve never danced before?” Lesley swayed in time with the music, her arms looped around my neck. “You’re very good.”

“I do some of my best thinking when I shift from side to side, you know, standing in a thinking man’s pose. I’ve done it for almost as long as I can remember.” Growing up, I stared at puzzles and equations for so long, sitting made my butt sore. Somehow staying mobile helped me process better.

“In your own charming way, you made even that sound romantic.”

“I shift my weight without picking up my feet much, so, I haven’t really stepped on your cute toes.”

“Did you call my toes cute?”

“I certainly did, although I’d hoped to keep such thoughts to myself.” I could probably count on two hands the number of times I’d said the word cute in my lifetime.

“You’re so handsome, I’m lucky to be your date tonight.”

“If you’re lucky, I’m absolutely fortunate, because there isn’t a girl here who holds a candle to you.”

“I just call you mine.” Shrugging her shoulders, the words fell from her lips like a rouge skydiver.

“I’ll consider that sweet, even though most of these girls are way too young for you.” She laughed the small Tinkerbell sound of delight becoming so comforting in my awareness.

“I didn’t mean here in this gymnasium, I meant here in this world.” I wasn’t exaggerating.

Lesley’s eyes opened wider, not letting the light in, but, sending her brightness out to me. When I spoke the truth about her unique brilliance, she replied in the most genuine of ways, by reacting. No one could fake what many consider to be a knee jerk. Reacting had gotten a bad rap in recent years by fad psychiatrists.

“I’ve never heard you adoring or flattering before.”

“I prefer to think of my words as anything else I put out into the world- my truth.”

Please visit us at our main site for more interpretations of write Tuesday Tales Main Page




Friday, September 16, 2016

Review CHRIS STAPLETON - Traveller


OMG…yes, I’ll say it again…OMG…what a gem Chris produced with this album. One sing-a-long worthy song after another. When I can say something actually tempers my mood in the temperamental Dallas traffic, you know it’s gotta be good.

For real.

The soothing tones of even the brokenhearted songs strum through the speakers, reminding me of lazy days in rocking chairs or a shady riverbank. Days when you go fishing and don’t even care if you catch a thing, or spend a quirky evening catching lightning bugs. This is the kind of album I’m talking about.

You don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy his red-dirt voice, with just enough grit to make the songs stick like an Olympic gymnasts landing. The first song, Traveller, of the album namesake, makes me want to take a road trip with my best friends- times when all we do is laugh and point out goofy landmarks. (even stopping in Winslow, Arizona, as I actually did in June with my bestie, Rhonda and her boy, Ty.)

Fire Away is a challenge for those with trust issues to take the plunge and believe in someone. That no matter what you throw their way, they’ve got your back. Even if it means ultimate demise.

Now, that’s loyalty.

Tennessee Whiskey is a beautiful love ballad with a line unlike I’ve heard before…”But when you poured out your heart I didn't waste it…” Wow, that’s deep and it’s a comparison to a bartender’s best:
Genius. At least, it’s this Oklahoma girls opinion.

So, if you want to venture over to another side of the music spectrum, give Chris a chance. Rolling Stone agrees.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Medicated Mid-Life

My Medicated Life

I figured it out. I want to someday wake up like those women in the mattress ads on TV. So full of life and vigor, they boldly greet the day, challenging negativity with a spewing bottle of champagne, or a run across town.
Simmons Beautyrest Commercial

Opposed to how I receive the morning, rolling into the fetal position, fearful of what will hurt worse. I wish I could sit up tall giggling, leaping out of bed like Mikhail Baryshnikov, now that’s a goal.

Instead, I look like some kind of cross between a peg legged pirate and slug.

My mind immediately filters to the day before, scouring what I did to make fill-in-the-blank hurt, i.e. my shoulders, arms, back, you name it. I know I pulled something the day before, and my muscles and joints remind me with a reckoning. No joke, sometimes, it was something as simple as carrying in grocery bags, yoga poses, or even moving unassuming household items around.  

I try to remind myself to perform at least gentle stretching exercises every day. Living with RA and fibromyalgia make body movements critical and necessary to well-being. Taking the time for a few stretches helps the ache the next day. Also, after I get out of bed, moving around takes care of some of the pain as well. My balance is challenged when I first get moving around, so, I take caution not to jump straight into the shower, or try balance poses in yoga. J

If I have some time between awakening and actually getting out of bed, I might take ibuprofen or an NSAID, especially if I’ve had a rather busy day before. I don’t take pain relievers/anti-inflammatory medications every day. Honestly, I want them to continue working for me for a long time. I guess I’m afraid if I overuse them, they will lose effectiveness.

Our bodies remind us it’s essential to keep moving.

Try these simple stretches I found on the RA website linked above:

Hand and wrist- Try this exercise to both stretch and strengthen your wrists and fingers.

1. Start by making a fist with your hand, then in one quick movement extend all fingers at once out straight, with your fingers spread.

2. Retract your fingers into a fist again.

3. Repeat this 5 times with each hand.

Shoulder and upper back

This exercise can be used to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your upper back and shoulders.

1. Start by getting on your hands and knees on your exercise mat, with your face looking down directly on the mat (keep your head and neck parallel to the mat). If you have problems with your knees, you may place a folded towel or blanket below your knees for extra cushion.

2. Gradually and slowly reach your right arm out in front, keeping your arm parallel to the floor and at the approximate level of your ear. Point your fingers straight out.

3. Maintain this position for a count of 5 and then return your arm slowly back down so that your hand is back on the mat.

4. Repeat this 10 times for each arm (of course, you can do less to start, with the goal of working up to 10).

Side of your body

This stretching exercise focuses on the back muscles on the sides of your torso and is useful if you are tight or stiff in this area and subject to spasms when you twist the wrong way.

1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Do not lock your knees. Stand relaxed and upright.

2. Place your right hand on your waist, above your hip, with your thumb toward the back and index finger towards the front.

3. Reach your left arm above your head, with your palm facing the right. Try to keep your shoulders level.

4. Begin to bend sideways to the right, bending from the waist. Allow your right hand to slide gently down the outside of your thigh. Move in one plane while your left arm reaches over your head and shoulders.

5. You should feel a gentle stretch in your torso and down your left side. Remember to breathe and hold the stretch for a count to 5.

6. Move slowly as you return to the original upright position. Allow your left arm to drift down to your side.

7. Reverse the exercise for the other side of your body.


Use this stretch to lengthen and loosen your hamstrings (the muscle oppositeyour thigh at the back of your leg) while stretching your lower back.

1. Start by lying on your back on your exercise mat, keeping your arms down at your sides. Flex your knees (only partially) and place your feet flat on the mat. You may place a rolled blanket under your knees if that makes you feel more comfortable.

2. Slowly bend your right knee and lift it toward your torso until you can reach and clasp your hands behind your hamstring. If you have difficulty reaching, you may use a folded towel or yoga strap to reach around your upper leg.

3. Extend your leg, keeping your foot pointed toward the ceiling. Try to straighten your leg. If you can’t straighten it, loosen your grip on your thigh and don’t pull it so close to your chest.

4. Once you’re able to straighten your leg, hold for a count of 5.

5. Slowly and gradually, lower your right leg and foot back down to the mat.

6. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What We're Watching Now - Friday Review of STRANGER THINGS


I was born in 1970, so, any homage to my childhood pulls on the heartstrings of my youth. This series, based in 1983 Indiana, hits home on many levels, leaving me longing for the days of tube socks and rotary dial phones.

However, I had my “meh” moments more often than I expected in this series so largely followed by the masses. I thought some of the characters weren’t fully developed, and had reactions I didn’t appreciate. This was more of a personal preference than some glaring error. I believed the town’s people shown in the series lacked a serious mourning for allegedly-deceased Will Byers. In a small town, folks are usually more cohesive and supportive, especially during times of tragedy.

When Will Byers goes missing, his mother, Joyce, is determined to find him. Based upon communications she receives from him in rather unconventional methods, she knows he isn't dead, but, she can't get to him. His friends are just as determined to find him, setting out on secret missions following the path Will took home the night he disappeared.

Will’s friends went on searches apart from his mother to find him, and bring him home safely. Led by Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson and Lucas Sinclair, the kiddos gave a gritty and realistic portrayal of how young soldiers fight the monsters lurking in the shadows. They affectionately reminded me of a Stand By Me group of young men, another positive throwback I felt from watching this series.  

When Eleven came on the scene, I wanted to hug her and cook her a big supper. The poor kid lived through hell, and the bad part was, she didn’t know anything different. Once she met the band of young heroes, El finally realized what love and friendship really were.

Blame it on my failing eyesight, but, with so much filmed in darkened settings, at times, I had trouble distinguishing what was happening onscreen. I listened for cues, and was greeted mostly by the sickening intestinal Jabba the Hutt sound effects.

Winona Ryder gives an incredible turn as an unstoppable mother, Joyce Byers, determined to find her son, regardless of how crazy her efforts become. My favorite line she delivered with perfect dryness, “Just ring me up, Donald.” You have to watch the episode 3, Holly Jolly, to catch this scene. Just Ring Me Up Donald

I didn’t care for Nancy Wheeler’s character, played by Natalia Dyer. The non-existent relationship she has with her brother, Mike, is believable as siblings go. But, her seemingly flippant dismissal of her friend, Barb, really gave me a shallow perception of her. She was “supposed” to have stronger character than that, but maybe that was part of the scripted suburban girl rebellious package.  Natalia did a fine job with the role given, but, I believe the character lacked depth. Nancy became involved with a group of reprehensible teenagers, led by Steve, the Douche, who were more than unlikable- they were unnecessarily horrible. Tommy and Carol were worse than the middle school bullies tormenting Mike, Dustin, and Lucas.

Speaking of Barb, she received nary a mention after she disappeared, did this girl have caring parents, family, or friends to speak of? Even Nancy half-assed her desire to find Barb. Thank goodness for Jonathan. OMG, I found this blog, and it’s EPIC Everyone Needs a Barb

Chief Jim Hopper, fighting his own demons, became heartfelt and involved in this search, disregarding common sense and supporting Joyce in her pursuit.

Finally, Will’s brother, Jonathan Byers, was a character I engaged with, wanting him to succeed. The responsible son, helping out his mom with money, cooking, and going to school, became a character I admired.

I kept watching through until the end because I had to know how the season ended. I still have mixed feelings about this series. However, it has its’ moments, and will certainly satisfy the binge-watching urge.

I’m giving this one *** 3 snowflakes.