Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Through the View-Master ~ The Year 2012 & Looking Ahead

As 2012 came to a rapid close, I found myself looking back over the year's events, favorite memories, and "a few of my favorite things," although whiskers on kittens would not be my first choice! Ha! If ANY of you know me, it would be dog whiskers! {Smile!} 

By Pinot & Dita on Pinterest
This process of looking back is much like... Well, I remember that favorite old toy of mine, the View-Master,  pressing the side crank down and another picture appeared as if by magic. It was usually my favorite characters, the Muppets or maybe the Smurfs, as they trot off on new adventures. With each new click a new photo appeared with the occasional flub and the previous photos popped up. Before long, it was working again: click, click, click... Lil' happy red-haired girl with her red half-camera, half- binoculars contraption attached to her forehead. It was one of my favorite things as a youngin'...  For this blog post, though, we are merely pretending, of course, to use this relic of my youth to <<Click<< through 2012... 

Well, last year {2012} did not get off to a rollicking start like I had hoped. You always want to start the year as smoothly as you can but sometimes it's out of your control. I had worried about the moment of Bridger's passing for quite awhile (my chocolate lab) because I knew how devastating it would be... And I WAS RIGHT. 

Just this week, I burst into tears in the middle of an unusually frigid Texas night realizing how terribly, terribly cold I was that night.* 
 (Note: *See comment at the bottom of the blog when you see *)

Bridger snuggled next to me at my house on in Moscow, Idaho, and in the Idaho backcountry under the stars, next to the mountains (near bears!). When he passed away, a very good friend did something very special in Bridger's honor I will never forget and another devoted friend sent a special card. I also received many lovely messages via social networks, especially Facebook. And for those who aren't pet people, this may all seem strange, ridiculous, or crazy. But you are the crazy one for not letting a cat, dog, bird, horse, etc. into your life... There's something for just about everyone. Yet,  if you are not the type to live with a turtle or feline, that's OK, too! I won't hold it against you... Too long! It's just animals make a life have such dimension and I would hate to deny that to anyone.
Me in the MIDDLE -- Bridger (left) & Sierra (right)

++ Bridger 2001-2012 *This post is dedicated to him!* ++

With guidance from a good friend from Idaho (thanks Sue M. for the helpful nudge)  and my Mom (she will always help me get a dog! LOL) I opened my life and my arms to a new lil' fella, Oliver Valentine -- complete with a heart on his head -- for real! I got him just days before Valentine's Day. I was happy but I will say there were some bittersweet moments because it wasn't all fresh, easy like getting a first dog. There were memories, strong and bright, of another dog before him. Part of me felt a guilty for getting another dog. I have since gotten over that (It took time) and Oliver has helped me in my grieving process as well as Sierra, my rescue lab. Both dogs are amazing healers -- in this house it's just the holistic kind I speak of! No on-the-leash training... Sierra does pretty well on a leash, though, for a rescue! Good DOG! Oliver is a WiLD buck! He's in training now! Ha! Although, he does have his sweet, still moments... when he is snoring loudly in my arms! 

Back to Miss Good Dog, Sierra... She celebrated her third So-Glad-You-Made-It party! And she knows it's her day! :) It's so adorable! See, right when I moved to Texas my lil' girl, my lab rescue I've had now six years, got the worst news imaginable: cancer. Luckily, I was about to move to College Station, home to Texas A&M & a great Vet School. So, off we went. I don't know which of us shook more. I did my best to comfort her during the visit. Long story short, there was talk of expensive chemo, cutting off her back leg (it was in her paw), or taking a bunch of pills a day. After much deliberation and even a talk with a vet friend of mine, I took the pill route. And... Go figure, it worked. We've been very lucky to have her! This sounds corny but I mean every last word: She has taught me more than I have taught her! It's true! It's really amazing when I stop to think what all she has taught me.

I thought I was so cool being The Bionic Woman having to charge myself every week and of course it made for great conversation! Before I get ahead of myself, let me say this: I had a spinal cord stimulator put in 2011. See, spinal cord stimulation  "uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain. A small pulse generator, implanted in the lower back, sends electrical pulses to the spinal cord. These pulses interfere with the nerve impulses that make patients' feel pain." The stimulator was placed on the upper right side of my hip and leads were placed in my spine. For awhile it seemed to help some of my Neurofibromatosis/Schwannomatosis pain then it was like the pain got so deep, penetrating no amount of specialized programming from the stimulator would help. I had to get it out!  So, last year I scheduled an outpatient surgery with a local surgeon here in the College Station area rather than going into Houston.* So, I am no longer the Bionic Woman & I no longer plug myself in. Dang. It sounded so cool. Definitely a sci-fi memoir. {wink}

New drug, new Me!
The greatest ME news is my switch to the drug, Gabapentin!  I have had more energy and don't spend every minute on the couch. For the majority of this year and the last three-plus years it's been a struggle to keep from staying off the couch & bed. If you read this blog, you know my story!  Stay tuned for more on my progress.

This past Christmas holiday was particularly special. I was able to make a variety of holiday goodies to share with my Mom's co-workers, my friends in Idaho, and our family here in Texas. Plus, I enjoyed quite a few chocolate chippers!  Yum! 

I'll be downright honest, I don't have a ton of fancy bullet points this year. Insert SAD FACE. I did spend a lot of time dealing with pain issues with a pillow under my head and I may or may not have been gritting my teeth. I hope 2013 will have more sparkle, beauty, and love.  I plan to focus on my writing even more, exercise/strengthening my body, and cooking/baking. And, of course, hanging out with my dogs! 

To my followers, I wish you the very best in the new year! Here's to a wonderful 2013!  To a healing, positive, transformative year. But, wait...

By Jessie (shopsweetlulu) from Pinterest

You gotta see my...

Favorite Things from 2012:

--Can't live without my Greek yogurt! I crave it like crazy... For breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert! Not all in the same day! The fun part? Toppings! And guess what they're even healthy too...mostly! Here's a sampling: slivered almonds, dried pineapple, dried cranberries, walnuts, coconut, etc. 

--My Best Book of the Year: Ask Me Why I Hurt -- Believe it or not, this is not a chronic pain story. Yet it is still tragic and heart-wrenching, and at the same time life-affirming. You must read it. It sprinkled  with humor, love, and relationships (co-workers, doctor-patient; father-mother; and wife-husband.) It's a book set up of dichotomies: rich and poor, sick and heathy, insured and uninsured, etc. The book follows doctor-turned-hero Randy Christensen. Trained as a pediatrician, he works not in a typical hospital or clinic setting but, rather, in a 38-foot Winnebago that has been turned into a doctor's office on wheels. His patients are the city's homeless adolescents and children. It's an amazing story, actually mini stories within a larger arcing story. It's a wow-piece. I think it should be read by every American in order to see what our poverty story looks like. This is just one portion of a bigger story but it is a well-told, lasting portion. These "characters" will resonate. Then you will remember these aren't characters.

--Fun, light reading -- Take A Bite! You can't read grand literature every day. The ol' brain needs a break. I found a cute lil' collection of books called the Hannah Swensen Murder Series!  It is VERY LIGHT reading but gives me a chance to sit back and completely immerse myself in something... Delicious. See, the author's books all feature treats! Scoop 'em up! 

Pray for cookies? Well... I didn't have molasses at the house and I wanted a few gingerbread cookies... I remembered Pillsbury makes an OK version during the holidays. I had made everything from scratch this year but I was running out of baking steam. While shopping at HEB, our local grocery store, the gleaming package of Gingerbread Spice called out to me from the - you won't believe it unless you've tried it - the Immaculate Baking Co. Perhaps it's my Catholic roots and/or the colorful folk-art packaging. It got better the more I read: "made with high-quality organic, natural ingredients." The next day the house filled with an aroma not too sweet, a delicate blend of holiday spices: ginger, clove, and cinnamon. I was, indeed, in heaven. I just needed a glass of milk. Oh, and my Mom was kindly doing the honors of taking the sweet lil' bites out of the oven (Boy, she was nice to volunteer!) while I wrap a few presents! Fa-la-la... GIMME!  I gotta try one of these aromatic delights! They do not disappoint! *

The Immaculate Baking Co. 
Products include: Wonderful array of cookies, pie crusts & biscuit, scone, cinnamon roll and crescent roll doughs!  Yum, yum, YUMMMMMMY!


Did you know: The View-Master was introduced in 1939! Still a hit today as wedding invitations. Expensive ones! 

++++ Would you like to guest blog, leave a private comment, or have a topic for a blog post? Please send a note via e-mail at & in the Subject Line - put The Healing Redhead. Thanks! ++++

©The Healing Redhead

*Oliver was close by that night in the bed -- just not close enough. Don't get e wrong, I am so appreciative of his presence in my life! In fact, there are some Bridger-esque things Ollie does that just make me smile sometimes. I just miss my first boy a great deal. We had a lot of wonderful memories. It's hard for me to even believe I can miss a dog this much. I do. A LOT. He was a major part f my life for 10.5 years. It's a healing process,
* source
*I loved the hospital, doctor, and the rest of the staff! It was such a great hospital experience. Day surgery rocks!
*Gluten-free products available. See Web site. The Cinnamon rolls (a five-pack) are heavenly! Try 'em! You'll be prayin' for more! ;) 


  1. Happy 2013 to you too, Leslie! What a nice way to look back to memories from the past year. Anyway, View Master was a favorite “thing” of mine as well. When I was a kid, it’s the next best thing we have to magic. Cheers for the year ahead. I’m looking forward to more View Master clicks to look back to!

  2. Francesca: I love that you loved the ViewMaster too! I hope your year is off to a wonderful start! Thanks for reading! Happy 2013!