Love in Bloom, A Novel by Kathryn B Johnson

Love in Bloom, A Novel by Kathryn B Johnson

This November I started a Novel entitled Love in Bloom. I made my word count, and now I’m continuing on with the story, editing, etc., Here’s a glimpse of my 2023 Nano excursion.


Excerpt

As the sun dipped lower in the sky, casting long shadows beneath the ancient oak tree, Emma and Alex found themselves standing hand in hand. The town square was a hub of festivity, filled with laughter, music, and the tantalizing aroma of festival treats.

Emma’s heart swelled with gratitude for Alex’s understanding and support. Their love, like the ancient oak, had weathered storms and witnessed the changing seasons, yet it stood strong, its roots intertwined, and its branches reaching toward the future.

With a tender smile, Alex leaned in and whispered, “Our love, like this town and this tree, is enduring and adaptable. It can weather any storm and continue to grow.”

Emma’s eyes sparkled with love and determination. “Our love is like the Extravaganza, a beautiful mix of tradition and the excitement of the unknown. I’m grateful to share this journey with you.”

Their connection, a testament to the strength of love, grew beneath the ancient oak tree, as they celebrated the traditions of Willowbrook while embracing the adventure that awaited them.

 

Love in Bloom

“Love in Bloom” is a heartwarming and adventurous romance novel that delves into the love story of Emma and Alex, two dedicated residents of the charming town of Willowbrook. As they collaborate to save their beloved Extravaganza festival from a crisis, their connection deepens, though they remain unaware of the budding romance beneath the surface.

Emma, known for her practical and level-headed nature, discovers a newfound desire for adventure and exploration. With the support of her devoted partner, Alex, they find a way to balance her yearning for the unknown with their love for their hometown. They embark on an adventure together, celebrating traditions while embracing the excitement of uncharted territories.

Their love story unfolds against the backdrop of the annual Extravaganza, a lively jamboree that brings the town of Willowbrook together. Through trials and triumphs, Emma and Alex’s connection is tested, but they learn that love can adapt and thrive in the face of change.

“Love in Bloom” is a tale of romance, unity, and the enduring power of love to overcome challenges. As the couple continues to inspire and unite Willowbrook, their story becomes a testament to adaptability and the richness of tradition blended with the excitement of exploration.

February is Boost Your Self-Esteem Month

February is Boost Your Self-Esteem Month

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. How’s your self-esteem lately? Mine could use some improvement, especially with being inside my home for nearly a year now. Add to that my disabilities, the strains of caregiving, worrying about world problems and life in general, and neglecting myself, I set myself up for depression and a slight loss of self-esteem. Sometimes, because I put myself last all the time, which isn’t healthy, I find myself doubting my worth and abilities.

So what’s the remedy then? I like the information found on the Mayo Clinic Website. You can read it below, or take a gander at the site by clicking the link provided.

Self-esteem: Take steps to feel better about yourself

If you have low self-esteem, harness the power of your thoughts and beliefs to change how you feel about yourself. Start with these steps.

By Mayo Clinic Staff
 

Low self-esteem can negatively affect virtually every facet of your life, including your relationships, your job and your health. But you can boost your self-esteem by taking cues from types of mental health counseling.

Consider these steps, based on cognitive behavioral therapy.

 

1. Identify troubling conditions or situations

 

Think about the conditions or situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem. Common triggers might include:

  • A work or school presentation
  • A crisis at work or home
  • A challenge with a spouse loved one, co-worker, or another close contact
  • A change in roles or life circumstances, such as a job loss or a child leaving home
 

2. Become aware of thoughts and beliefs

 

Once you’ve identified troubling situations, pay attention to your thoughts about them. This includes what you tell yourself (self-talk) and your interpretation of what the situation means. Your thoughts and beliefs might be positive, negative, or neutral. They might be rational, based on reason or facts, or irrational, based on false ideas.

 

Ask yourself if these beliefs are true. Would you say them to a friend? If you wouldn’t say them to someone else, don’t say them to yourself.

3. Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking

 

Your initial thoughts might not be the only way to view a situation — so test the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask yourself whether your view is consistent with facts and logic or whether other explanations for the situation might be plausible.

Be aware that it can be hard to recognize inaccuracies in thinking. Long-held thoughts and beliefs can feel normal and factual, even though many are just opinions or perceptions.

 

Also, pay attention to thought patterns that erode self-esteem:

  • All-or-nothing thinking. You see things as either all good or all bad. For example, “If I don’t succeed in this task, I’m a total failure.”
  • Mental filtering. You see only negatives and dwell on them, distorting your view of a person or situation. For example, “I made a mistake on that report and now everyone will realize I’m not up to this job.”
  • Converting positives into negatives. You reject your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they don’t count. For example, “I only did well on that test because it was so easy.”
  • Jumping to negative conclusions. You reach a negative conclusion when little or no evidence supports it. For example, “My friend hasn’t replied to my email, so I must have done something to make her angry.”
  • Mistaking feelings for facts. You confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, “I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure.”
  • Negative self-talk. You undervalue yourself, put yourself down or use self-deprecating humor. For example, “I don’t deserve anything better.”

4. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs

 

Now replace negative or inaccurate thoughts with accurate, constructive thoughts. Try these strategies:

  • Use hopeful statements. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Instead of thinking your presentation won’t go well, try telling yourself things such as, “Even though it’s tough, I can handle this situation.”
  • Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes — and mistakes aren’t permanent reflections on you as a person. They’re isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.”
  • Avoid ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to more realistic expectations.
  • Focus on the positive. Think about the parts of your life that work well. Consider the skills you’ve used to cope with challenging situations.
  • Consider what you’ve learned. If it was a negative experience, what might you do differently the next time to create a more positive outcome?
  • Relabel upsetting thoughts. You don’t need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, “What can I think and do to make this less stressful?”
  • Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, “My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged — which means that I accomplished my goal.”
 
 

You might also try these steps, based on acceptance and commitment therapy.

1. Identify troubling conditions or situations

 

Again, think about the conditions or situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem. Once you’ve identified troubling situations, pay attention to your thoughts about them.

2. Step back from your thoughts

 

Repeat your negative thoughts many times or write them down in an unusual way, such as with your non-dominant hand. Imagine seeing your negative thoughts written on different objects. You might even sing a song about them in your mind.

These exercises can help you take a step back from thoughts and beliefs that are often automatic and observe them. Instead of trying to change your thoughts, distance yourself from your thoughts. Realize that they are nothing more or less than words.

 

3. Accept your thoughts

 

Instead of fighting, resisting or being overwhelmed by negative thoughts or feelings, accept them. You don’t have to like them, just allow yourself to feel them.

Negative thoughts don’t need to be controlled, changed or acted upon. Aim to lessen the power of your negative thoughts and their influence on your behavior.

 

These steps might seem awkward at first, but they’ll get easier with practice. As you begin to recognize the thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to your low self-esteem, you can counter them or change the way you think about them. This will help you accept your value as a person. As your self-esteem increases, your confidence and sense of well-being are likely to soar.

In addition to these suggestions, try to remember on a daily basis that you’re worth special care. To that end, be sure to:

  • Take care of yourself. Follow good health guidelines. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit sweets, junk food, and animal fats.
  • Do things you enjoy. Start by making a list of things you like to do. Try to do something from that list every day.
  • Spend time with people who make you happy. Don’t waste time on people who don’t treat you well.
What’s Good for Pain

What’s Good for Pain

Hi Everyone,

Well, it’s Wednesday and I’m hurting.

Nothing like a change in the temperature to take my body from feeling like an 8 or 9 to a 0. My back hurts, the backs of my legs hurt, my head is throbbing. No, I don’t have the Corona. The culprits today seem to be my disc degenerative disease, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Each one of these runs into the other, so I can’t say for sure what parts of my body are crying out from exactly which one, I only know that I’m hurting and wishing there was something I could do about it.

Now, of course, the temperature probably has nothing scientifically to do about it, but that being so, I know when the weather changes for the worse, or there is some upcoming bad weather or colder temperatures, I hurt more.

My Conditions

◆ If you don’t know what (DDD) Disc Degenerative Disease is, Spine Health at spine-health.com has a good overview.
https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/what-degenerative-disc-disease.

◆ For Fibromyalgia, a good website to check out is https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm as well as
the Mayo Clinic site at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780.

◆ Did you know that Arthritis is the number one disabling condition in the world? https://www.arthritis.org/. I can tell you that no person in my family has escaped its cruelty. It’s painful and irritating.

What’s happening due to COVID 19:

Because of COVID 19, my ablation surgery for my lower back had to be postponed, so each day that goes by the pain in my lower back continues to get worse. There is nothing I can do about that so I’m forced to do whatever I can use whatever I have to make things better. No amount of Ibuprofen seems to make much difference. While it soothes the pain in the short term, it doesn’t last that long. My prescription medications don’t last a full four hours either, and none of my medication choices completely remove the pain.

Which leads to:

I bring out the heating pad. This soothes. I bring out the ice. It numbs. Within minutes afterward, back comes ye ole pain. Ouch. But during the time it’s working it’s so nice. Other ways to ease body pain from these conditions are listed next. One thing I don’t have but want is a leg lift pillow. A Leg Lift Pillow Wedge gently lifts the knees to provide outstanding support and comfort for your lower back when lying down. The special wedge design eases stress on the spine, correcting posture and aligning the spine to help decrease arthritis back pain.

So what else is helpful for these conditions? Here are seven which one can try:

Acupuncture

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This form of Chinese medicine involves inserting thin, small needles through the skin at specific acupoints on the body. It is designed to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue, improve blood flow and activate the body’s natural painkillers. Research suggests that it can help relieve pain, and it is used for a wide range of other complaints.

Good for osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, low back pain, neck and shoulder pain, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome

Massage

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Gentle manipulation with moderate pressure has been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness, and even improve range of motion. However, timing is important. Listen to your body. Massage may not be as helpful during a very active flare when joints are especially tender and sensitive.

Good for osteoarthritis, low back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis

Tai Chi

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Tai chi is a Chinese practice that combines gentle flowing movements, deep breathing, and meditation. It has been shown to not only reduce joint pain but also improve range of motion and function, as well as feelings of well-being. The Arthritis Foundation offers a Tai Chi DVD specifically created for people with arthritis.

Good for fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Yoga

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Yoga is an Indian practice that uses deep breathing, meditation and body pose. It has been shown to decrease joint pain and stiffness, as well as improve relaxation and reduce stress. The Arthritis Foundation offers a Yoga DVD specifically created for people with arthritis.

Good for fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low back pain

Weight Loss

Losing one pound removes four pounds of pressure on swollen, painful joints. Maintain a healthy weight by combining a balanced diet with regular physical activity. Make sure you choose food from the five important food groups (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains). Try to do 30 minutes of low-impact exercise five days a week.

Good for osteoarthritis

Physical Therapy

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Physical therapists can provide various ways to reduce strain and pressure on painful and swollen joints. These include manual therapy and counseling on proper positioning and body movement. They can also recommend assistive devices such as braces and splints to support joints and shoe inserts to relieve stress on the lower extremities.

Good for all forms of joint pain (back, knee, shoulder, hand, wrist, ankle

Topical Gels

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These gels work by stimulating sensory nerve endings in the skin, and the body responds by reducing pain signals through the nervous system. Voltaren Gel and capsaicin cream are two options, but a trip down the drugstore aisle can offer even more options without a prescription. Some Hemp options may also work, just make sure you stay away from the THC.

Good for osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

What products or services have you found that are helpful for arthritic conditions or Fibromyalgia? Let me know in the comments.

April’s Awareness Months

April’s Awareness Months

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Since most of us are quarantined in our home due to COVID 19, on this Easter weekend, we could take some time to reflect on some of these awareness items for the month of April.

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Limb Loss Awareness Month, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and Stress Awareness Month. This post addresses briefly what these are and gives you resources for more information as well as how to volunteer your time, make a donation, or get involved in other ways.

autism

Image by Andrea Don from Pixabay

Autism
⁃ Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and
repetitive behavior.
⁃ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism
⁃ https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month-faq

You can volunteer, donate, or fundraise at Autism Speaks. Check here for the ways: https://act.autismspeaks.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=walk_volunteer&wmenu=sec_abt_walk

 

Limb Loss
⁃ What causes limb loss?
⁃ Reasons for Amputation
⁃ The most common is poor circulation because of the damage or narrowing of the arteries, called peripheral arterial disease. … Other causes for amputation may include Severe injury (from a vehicle accident or serious burn, for example) a Cancerous tumor in the bone or muscle of the limb. Feb 5, 2020, WebMD

And of course, some people are born missing limbs.

You may read more at:
⁃ https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/definition-amputation#
⁃ https://www.amputee-coalition.org/about-us/history/

You can volunteer with the Amputee Coalition here: https://www.amputee-coalition.org/work-with-us/

 

Parkinson’s Disease
⁃ Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.
Read more at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/parkinsons-disease.

And, volunteer here: https://www.parkinson.org/ways-to-give/more-ways-to-give/volunteer

 

Stress
– Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. May 5, 2018
• https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm
• https://foh.psc.gov/calendar/stress.

If you are experiencing high volumes of stress, sometimes giving, volunteering is the way to go. Psych Central has a wonderful article. Read it here: https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-volunteering-can-help-your-mental-physical-health/

A weighted blanket or duvet would be a perfect addition to your stress relief arsenal, a nice gift for someone living with autism, Parkinson’s, and even for someone living with limb loss. Try something from Weighted Evolution. They have three different options to choose from. and come in several colors. They’re premium bamboo weighted blanket that’ll improve sleep, lower anxiety and increase well-being. Check them out.

Another great idea for stress relief is a good mattress. Take a look at this Layla mattress offer. Who doesn’t love a sale?
Spring Sale a $300 DEAL – $150 OFF MATTRESS + 2 FREE PREMIUM PILLOWS, $30-$50 off accessories. Buy More. Save More with Layla.

My family and extended family have personal connections to limb loss, Parkinson’s, and most definitely stress. Won’t you please take a few moments to think about who in your family, a circle of friends, or acquaintances who deal with any of these issues. Your donation of volunteering time, money, or purchases really makes a difference in the lives of those who deal with these every single day. Won’t you get involved?

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links. I get a small commission if you click and purchase. Purchasing through this website does not affect your pricing.

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