“The starry sky is the truest friend in life, when you first become acquainted; it is ever there, it gives ever peace, ever reminds you that your restlessness, your doubt, your pains are passing trivialities. The universe is and will remain unshaken. Our opinions, our struggles, or sufferings are not so important and unique, when all is said and done.” 
― Fridtjof Nansen

Being Me

People meet me

Each day I show them

This is who I am

The same as yesterday

I’m nice

I’m funny

I’m peaceful

That doesn’t mean I am weak

It doesn’t mean I am a pushover

I’m merely watching you show me who you are

You bully or try to control

It won’t work

You will incite a fight

I can take care of myself

You won’t be welcome in my life

Afterward I’ll still be me

Just the same as I was when we met

I’m nice

I’m funny

I’m peaceful

I’m still being me

Written by Vonda Newsome 7-7-2021

Do you have a coat hanger?

I left the house at 10:30 a.m. today, an extra hour early, for an appointment in Lexington. I wanted to have time to meet my friend first to pick up some makeup I’d ordered. I arrived at the Shell gas station a bit before she did and figured I may as well fill my car up while I awaited her arrival. I pulled up to the pump, locked my doors, leaving the driver side door open, as I do when I get gas. While the gas was pumping, I thought I may as well throw away the trash that had accumulated in my car. I gathered all the trash from the cubby inside the car door into my hands, walked to the trash receptacle, and dumped it. The gas had finished pumping so I removed the pump and hung it back up. I turned to get back inside my car, but the door was shut. What? Evidently, I had accidentally and unknowingly bumped my car door with my butt when I was throwing garbage in the trash bin. Not enough to close it all the way, but enough that I could not open the door. I wondered if I closed the door completely if the key fob in my purse (on the floorboard of my car) would work to unlock it. I didn’t try it, and I’m glad.

There I stood — locked out of my car. It was at that moment that my friend, Whitney, pulled up next to me. We exchanged greetings, then I told her I was locked out of my car.  She asked me where my phone was, and I said, “It’s in my car.”  “So you need to call someone,” she responded.  “Yup”.  I had no idea who I’d call though. Probably a locksmith.

Luckily, Whitney’s aunt, who just happens to be a mechanic, emerged from Whitney’s car. She asked if I had a coat hanger which I did not. Even if I did, if it was in my car I couldn’t have gotten to it. I offered to go inside the gas station and ask for a coat hanger and said, “I ain’t skeerd.” But the clerks didn’t have one. So I proceeded to ask every customer coming into and leaving the store, which was about seven of them. No luck.

In despair, I returned to my car and told Whitney I had no coat hanger. Whitney’s aunt was rummaging around the building to see if there was anything she could find to help this damsel in distress. She found a long stick and tried it, but it didn’t work. She needed something she could bend in order to hit the unlock button inside my car. I noticed a hotel across the road and said, “I’ll go to that hotel and ask them for a coat hanger.” I ain’t skeerd. I mean if anyone would have a coat hanger, it would be a hotel, right?

There was a construction worker in the parking lot near the hotel entrance and I asked him, “You wouldn’t have a coat hanger, would you?” Of course, he did not. However, he said, “The manager is inside and might have one.” He offered to go inside and ask for me as he unlocked the entrance door. He kindly allowed me to step inside the vestibule to get out of the brisk, chilly breeze, since my coat was where? You guessed it — in my locked car. As I stood there waiting for the nice construction worker to return, I watched the action taking place beside my locked car at the Shell station across the street, hoping they’d had some success getting into it.

After a brief time, the construction worker returned and said that someone would be bringing down a coat hanger shortly. We had a nice chat while we waited. He told me that while they had been working on the air-conditioning at the hotel, one of his coworkers knelt down on the ground and a dirty hypodermic needle went into his knee. I asked when that happened and he told me it was today. At the time of our conversation, his co-worker was on his way to the ER to get checked out. Good grief! Now, I’m skeerd!

A few minutes later, another gentleman came through the vestibule carrying a very long metal rod in his hands. It was at least 8 feet long. “That ought to work,” I exclaimed, elated that we may be able to make some progress!  I thanked them profusely and started my journey back to the Shell station. 

As I approached, I could see Whitney‘s aunt still trying to unlock my car and two other gentlemen were searching for objects that they could poke down the door crack and hit my unlock button. No luck. I carried that long metal rod over my head like a trophy as I ran across the street towards them. Whitney was in full laughter. Her aunt took the metal rod, and wiggled it down into the crack of the driver’s door — the unlock button her target. She was unsuccessful. Another gentleman who was nearby said, “Here, let me have that a minute.” He soon discovered that the rod was way too long to maneuver with any precision, so he bent it until it broke in half. Having a shorter stick to work with, he was able to get it down into the car and hit that unlock button. I immediately opened up my car door, grabbed my keys, and put them in the waistband of my pants.

Whitney asked that I “please get a picture with that rod sometime today,” so I got out my phone right then and let her take one.

This is just an average day in my life.

Vondonkey’s Keto Breakfast Casserole (6.4 carbs per slice)

Ingredients:

4 slices Lewis keto bread (Walmart), cut into crouton-sized cubes (I sprayed the cubes with olive oil and lightly sprinkled with garlic herb seasoning)

1 pound bacon, fried, drained, crumbled

1 pound breakfast sausage, fried, drained, crumbled

1 small sweet onion, sautéed in bacon grease (if desired)

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup whole milk (or coconut milk, etc., or omit milk and use 2 cups of heavy whipping cream for fewer carbs)

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning (I used Johnny Chachere’s)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Place the cubed bread in the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle evenly over bread: sausage and bacon, then onion, and top with cheese

Thoroughly mix eggs, whipping cream, milk and spices, then pour over other ingredients

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes

Carbs:

Eggs 4, Onion 24, Milk 11, Cheese 12, Heavy cream 0, Bacon 0, Sausage 0 = 51 for entire casserole (6.4 carbs per serving if cut into 8 pieces)

NOTES:

Of course, for stricter keto eating, you can omit the milk and onions, and use 2 full cups of whipping cream to reduce the carbs to 16 for the entire recipe (2 net carbs per 1/8 slice). You could also add spinach, or use 2 lbs of bacon or 2 lbs of sausage. There are LOTS of options for this recipe!

This casserole can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator over night. If it is chilled, you may need to increase the baking time.

ENJOY! It’s very yummmmmmy!

A Long and Happy Marriage

Once upon a time, I had a patient who was a very charming elderly man. We chatted a bit while I performed my assessment and he mentioned that he’d been married for more than 50 years. Intrigued, I asked him what the secret was to having such a long and happy marriage.

This is what he said:

Every morning, I go up to my wife and hold her beautiful face in my hands. Then, I look deeply into her eyes and say, “I’m sorry.” And, that covers me for the rest of the day.

Vondonkey’s Sugar-free/Keto-friendly Peanut Butter Cookies

February 11, 2021 will mark three years since my husband I started keto. I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever tried this lifestyle/way of eating will tell you the foods you will miss most, and right away, are bread, pasta, and sweets.

Through the trial and error of the many keto recipes I found online, along with the creation of Aldi’s Zero Net Carb bread, we’ve been able to take care of those cravings, mostly, and still enjoy eating all the foods we’ve always loved. They’re simply prepared differently. Well, other than the pasta. Still working on that one. There’s one funky, keto-friendly pasta that comes in a pouch, submersed in water. Uh, no. Gross! I’ll stick with zucchini noodles, thank you.

Anyway, that brings us to sweets! Back when I ate real sugar, one of my favorite treats was peanut butter cookies. Now, I did not set out to find the perfect sugar-free/keto-friendly peanut butter cookie recipe (in my opinion), but it eventually became my goal and I found it. Well, I created it!! Several months ago, I took a keto Danish butter cookie recipe and have since altered it, added, changed it, and added more, again and again, about 30 times, until this week when I discovered what I feel is the perfect peanut butter cookie for us sugar-free/keto folks. By the way, my cookies no longer share any resemblance with that Danish butter cookie.

If you are thinking about “going keto,” if you are a diabetic, or simply want to decrease your intake of carbohydrates while still enjoying a sweet treat, give these cookies a try!

Vondonkey’s Sugar-free/Keto-friendly Peanut Butter Cookies

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour (32g net carbs)

2 cups almond flour (24g net carbs)

1/2 cup (heaping) Swerve brown sugar (zero carbs)

2 teaspoons baking powder (zero carbs)

3/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt (zero carbs)

Place in food processor and run on high until well-mixed and powdery.

Wet Ingredients:

2 sticks cold butter, sliced (zero carbs)

1 jar Aldi’s Simply Nature creamy peanut butter (56g net carbs)

1 teaspoon vanilla (zero carbs)

Add to dry ingredients in food processor and mix thoroughly.

Use a one-tablespoon cookie scooper, scraping excess cookie dough across the top, and drop dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes, until the edges are only beginning to brown. I take them out of the oven and immediately place the entire sheet in the freezer or refrigerator to cool before storing them in the freezer. These cookies, at room temperature, will crumble easily. In my many attempts to cure that, and finding that the alterations diminished the yummy peanut butter flavor of the cookie, we just keep ours frozen, and eat them that way. It gives them a nice firm texture. We both love them! This recipe will make 5 dozen cookies.

NOTE: Keep in mind, the products that you use may have different carb counts. Based on what I use, it works out to be 2g net carbs per cookie!! That’s pretty darn good for keto people. A tablespoon-sized cookie may sound very small, but when that cookie packs a rich, very satisfying peanut buttery flavor, you may not be inclined to eat more than a few. I can only eat two myself.

Now…what about pasta?! Hmm.

Is your loved one telling you goodbye?

When a loved one starts saying things like, “I don’t think I’m going to be around much longer,” listen. Especially the elderly, for they tend to know when their hourglass is close to empty.  My mother said that 88 was her “last birthday.”  It was her last birthday.  My father said he had “no aspirations to see ninety.”  He died at 89. Even though the world was in the turmoil of a pandemic, my mother-in-law insisted on cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her family because she “might not be here next Thanksgiving.” She won’t be. She contracted COVID-19, and her little body simply couldn’t stop it from destroying what was left of her kidney function. Although losing her was, and is, devastating for her family, many friends and her church community, I am grateful that my mother-in-law had the gumption and tenacity to cook that Thanksgiving dinner for us, her last one.

While it is human nature to think there is more time, or “always tomorrow,” please do not dismiss the cues from the people you love!!  Their words are not trivial statements in search of attention, or sympathy. And, even if they are, the time you give to them is never wasted. You must do what you can live with for the rest of your life, regardless of your fatigue from a grueling work week, or the favoite TV show that you might miss. That’s what a DVR is for, use it!

I cannot stress this enough: LISTEN, when loved ones are telling you that they are running out of time, precious time!! Don’t say, “I’ll go over and see them this weekend, I’m just too tired.” Go. Now! There isn’t always tomorrow, or later, and that’s the biggest regret of those surviving the loss of a loved one — the I should’ves that will consume your conscience when they’ve died and you realize all the time you could have/should have spent with them, but didn’t.

You’ll never regret spending that precious time with your loved one, even if it’s only 30 minutes, for it will serve as a warm, comforting hug to your broken heart when they leave you with only your memories.

LISTEN!!

Live your truth.

This past weekend, I watched two Dolly Parton Christmas specials. The first one was her movie, Coat of Many Colors, and the second was her singing Christmas songs for an hour. I’m generally not a crier, and do not cry easily, but each of these specials brought forth an unstoppable stream of tears that flooded my cheeks and soaked my t-shirt. Conversely, those tears seemed to have opened a new door in my journey toward self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Tuesday, afer my therapy session, wherein I shared about my weekend sob-fest, I became very curious about this iconic woman named Dolly Parton. I wanted to learn more, so I listened to a podcast wherein Brené Brown interviewed Dolly Parton, her lifetime hero.  During the interview, Dolly mentioned that women should “live their truth.”  That got me thinking, What is my truth?  Am I living it? How do I know if I’m living it?” I assumed that if I were living it, I wouldn’t have to ask that question. Right?

While composing this blog post, I googled, “what does it mean to live your truth.” The top hit read, “To live in your truth simply means to live as your most authentic self, doing things daily that bring you happiness and joy, living as true to yourself as possible.” (https://www.thejournallife.co.uk/blog/live-in-your-truth-and-be-your-most-authentic-self)

Okay, then. How do you know that you’re living true to yourself?

Am I living my truth?

I asked Google, “how do you know you’re living your truth,” and this was the top hit:  https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-signs-that-youre-leading-life-that-true-yourself.html which is a straight-forward list of signs that you are living your own truth. While I do identify with some of the things on this list, reading through the items has shown me the areas which could use some real improvement in living my truth, full out.

I keep thinking, “I’m almost sixty.  Shouldn’t I be further along in my awakening journey.”  My therapist taught me that this “s” word is a no-no and only serves to make us feel unworthy and undeserving, as well as like a defeated failure because it focuses on our mistakes or shortcomings. Yet, that word still pops into my thoughts from time to time.

You ever feel that everything in your life is NOT what you thought it was?  Like, those around you see something in you, know something, but no one ever tells you and that if they did, it could be the golden nugget of information that opens up a whole new world for you?  Then, at times, you realize some of these things and wonder if everyone else knew all along and just never told you?  I know that’s a lot of run-on nonsensical words, but it’s hard to put this thought/feeling into words.  Okay, say you’re in the process of self-discovery, have an epiphany or revelation and are completely blown away by it.  However, those who know you best already knew that about you, all your life, and were waiting for you to see it for yourself? Like when Dorothy awakened from her dream and realized that her “over the rainbow” had existed all along, in her own backyard.  <—It still doesn’t sound the way it feels in my brain.  However, surely a few of you know precisely what I’m talking about, having experienced it yourself. 

Earlier this year, I had a free 15-minute personal critique via Zoom with Cristian Mihas, a blogging expert whom I discovered on Medium.com. All I wanted from this session was to hear his opinion about my blog, along with his suggestions for its improvement. He told me I was the only participant who didn’t ask how to make money from blogging. Then, he paid me the most profound and touching compliment. He told me, “You are unapologetically yourself.” Maybe, just maybe, I’m living my truth a little more than I think/feel I am?

Anyway, that’s what I’ve had on my mind. Note: I had a restful sleep last night, which I hadn’t done in a couple (maybe a few) weeks, and that enables me to think more deeply and philosophically. Evidently.

Thanks for listening (reading)!

I’d love some feedback on this personal journey/quest to living your truth.