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Monday, September 17, 2018

2018 Kirkwood Winery Grape Stompin' Festival

I had the chance to visit one of my states historical sites over the weekend for the 2018 Kirkwood Winery Gape Stompin' Festival.  After watching the I Love Lucy show (Season 5, Episode 23, aired on April 16, 1956) where Lucy had to stomp grapes but ended up fighting an Italian women in the grape bucket, it has always been a bucket list item to try.  This Festival was the perfect time to kick off my shoes and get to stomping!
Kirwood Winery is named for being the very first vineyard in the region.  It all began in the spring of 1984, when the first vineyard was planted by Rodney Facemire and his two sons.  Kirwood now spreads over six acres, produce 40 tons of grapes and 4,000 gallons of wine yearly. 
The winery opened it's doors in 1992 and started hosting this yearly Grape Stompin' Festival.  With 30 different wines to taste (or whiskey if you prefer), live music, good food, covered wagon rides, distillery tour and much more, it was a fun filled day for everyone!

So if you find yourself in Summersville, West Virginia on the third weekend in September, swing by and get to stomping some grapes while sampling some really tasty wine!
On a side note, I highly recommend the Spiced Apple and Cherry.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie

Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 284
 Amazon $14.99
Amazon has over 1,000 reviews and rates it at 4 and 1/2 stars. 
Driven by his own experience, Jackson MacKenzie, co-founded as a way to spread awareness and to give a platform for survivors to validate their own experiences while seeking support to overcome their own nightmare. 
In my research into understanding more about narcissistic abuse, I picked this book up after reading some great reviews on Amazon.  This book, by far, is my favorite on the subject and should be the first book one might want to read if you are just starting to learn about narcissist abuse.
"The fact that you're reading this book is not some sort of accident -
you're a truth seeker,
determined to find out what just happened to you."
This book contains a ton of information and is laid out in an easy to follow format.  The introduction starts off with a letter from the author and lists 30 "Red Flags" to look for in an emotional abuse relationship.  You may find yourself reading each one and making a mental check one by one.  Check, check, well crap~really, check.  There were even some that took me by surprise.  MacKenzie gives you a excerpt on the Amazon page.
The second section breaks down the subject of the manufactured soul mate.  This subject covers personalized grooming, identity erosion and the horrible grand finale.  This covers the three stages of the narcissists play book from the love bombing to questioning how things went wrong so fast.
"After the inevitable abandonment,
most survivors end up feeling a kind of emptiness that cannot even be described as depression. 
It's like your spirit has completely gone away. 
You feel numb to everything and everyone around you."
The third section is all about the path to recovery and helps one understand why it took so long to figure out the narcissist.  MacKenzie also leads the way in the various stages of grief that comes after the grand finale and how to overcome the feels you are left facing. 
"But with time and No Contact,
you begin to see that you don't display any of those characteristics when you're not around them. 
In fact, you seem to become more gentle, empathetic, and compassionate -
closer to your most genuine self. 
That is the real you."
The forth section is your freedom and one that everyone may want to read first.  It helps you see there is a brighter future and it only takes time to rebuild what the narcissist took immense joy in breaking down.  It talks about the leftover feelings of insecurities and how to gain your self-respect back.  I love the section regarding thirty signs of strength.   
"Every time you stand up for yourself, a part of your spirit comes back to life."

There is one part of the book that MacKenzie gives an example of a letter you should write to the narcissists next target.  This letter is not to be sent to the target because it wouldn't serve to accomplish anything.  He suggests that this letter be part of your healing and I found as I wrote mine that there was no negative thoughts anymore.  I truly do feel stronger with each day. 
MacKenzie is working on another book so look for it to be coming out soon.
My letter.... 

I do not want to know who you are because it would only serve to suck me back into a place I no longer wish to revisit.  But I can hope that one day you may find this letter and learn a different side of the story you most likely have already been told.
At one point, I did hate the others that I felt had a hand in breaking up my marriage.  I watched as he parade one after another through our lives without a care.  It took me years to realize my pain just gave him joy. And now it will take years to recover from the insecurity that comes from being triangulated with so many other people.
I am not bitter or hold any ill will against you or any of the others.  I hurt FOR you.  Although we are different people, when it comes to this relationship, we are no different.
There was a time when I once rode the high that you're currently riding.  I was special.  The most beautiful, perfect, flawless partner in the world.  I helped him recover from the pain of his past ex.  I sympathized with his struggles and was elated to be the one to finally end his suffering.  He was in love with me and spent every waking moment showering me with attention as a way to prove it.
At some point, he flipped a switch and all the things he loved about me before was now a huge issue for him. From all the work I did to how I looked, it was just never good enough.  For so long, I punished myself.  I truly believed that I deserved my pain. Something must be wrong with me in order for him to run off with so many other girls.
Then I realized, I was once that person.  I was you.
And because of that, I know there is no way for me to save you from the nightmare to come.  Once you have been groomed, you are already sucked into the first stage.  For the rest of the relationship, you will deny reality and invent reasons for everything he does.  You will lie to yourself, desperately trying to bring back the soul mate you believed you had found.  Slowly your identity will begin to fall apart.  You will wake one day and not know who you are anymore. 
Another person will come along.  It is inevitable.  You will be strung along for as long as possible, as I once was.  Your reactions to this new person will be used against you to evoke sympathy from the new target.
And eventually, you will be me.
This is why I hurt for you.  I would not wish all the pain and suffering that I've experienced on anyone.  I know that you are being spoon-fed the exact same lies I believed so very long ago.  You will not believe that today, tomorrow or next month, but someday this letter will make sense.  Brutal, heartbreaking sense.
I only hope that you are smart enough to learn the signs and how to recovery in the aftermath of your abuse.  I hope this is used as one small piece of a much bigger puzzle you will build in your journey. 
I do not hate any of you for that is what he wants.  I have cut ties, so I will no longer be taking part in his triangles anymore, injecting jealousy and hatred to fill the void within.  I am much stronger now.
I'm happy to have made it through to the other side, and I know you can as well.  Please have the same empathy for the person who replaces you.  Compassion for each other is the only way to stop the cycle of abuse.  Always remember, everyone deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, and honesty. 

Other books on the subject that may be helpful:
Power: Surviving and thriving after Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi
No Contact: How to beat the narcissist by HG Tudor

Friday, May 11, 2018

FitVine Wine - Sauvignon Blanc

Per 5oz.
90 Calories
3g Carbohydrates
0.2g Sugar
13.4% Alcohol
If you are a wine drinker and also a fitness nut, then these wines are for you.  I first heard of FitVine Wines via an add from my local store and thought I might give them a try.  I'm always up to try a new wine and the low sugar content did have me wondering what the taste would be like.  I made a special trip to the store and grabbed a few different bottles. 

I really couldn't find much on the FitVine company but their website states they use an extended fermentation process which lowers the sugar levels you would find in other wines.  This process allows the average 5oz glass to be around 90-95 calories, 3 carbohydrates, 0.2 grams of sugar and up to 13.9% alcohol content (depending on which wine you drink).  There process also allows the wine to be gluten free and vegan friendly.
The first bottle I wanted to try was the Sauvignon Blanc which goes for about $18 a bottle.  I am no wine connoisseur, but I loved the clear yellowish coloring and the light peach and passion fruit flavor.  Even though I prefer a more sweet wine, I found this one really pleasant and I didn't miss the sugar that makes other wines so sweet.  I'm excited to try the rest!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

No Contact: How to Beat the Narcissist by HG Tudor

Publisher: Insight Books
Publish Date: 7/18/2016
Page Count: 156
Price: $11
Amazon Book
I wanted to learn more about No Contact, so I picked up a copy of this book after seeing the 4 and 1/2 stars it received on Amazon.  Once I got the book, it was kind of hard to read with the tiny font size (maybe 10 where normal books are around 12).  There are some formatting issues, page long paragraphs and lots of graphical errors.  I'm also going to take a guess that the author is from outside the USA because of some of the word choices.  But once you get past these issues, the book had some usefully information but not worth the $11 price tag.

The author claims to be a narcissist, so you first have to stop the urge to toss the book in the trash and cuss him out every other page.  Once you get past that, you get to learn about what really goes through the mind of someone that emotional abuses another.  He also helps us learn WHY someone abuses another, the correct way to deal with someone who is abusing you and the steps he used in order to continue the abuse so that you may avoid it in the future.

There were times, while reading what he did to his girlfriends, that really made me mad.  I almost wondered if the author was getting joy out of writing how much he hurts his girlfriends. Then I had to remind myself that he DOES know and DOESN'T care! 
"You will keep tying yourself in knots, exhausting yourself and becoming ground down as you try and work out why we do as we do.  You make the same mistake every time.  You try and analyze our behavior through your viewpoint.  This will not work.  Once you learn to look at why we say what we say and do what we do, through our viewpoint all becomes clear."

I also liked the way he explained why narcissists do what they do.  He used fuel as a way to explain the steps.  At first, we are prime fuel but that somewhere along the line we become normal fuel and he starts looking for that prime fuel again, all the while keeping the normal fuel hanging on until it is all used up. 

He goes into details about what can happen after No Contact is put into play and the tricks that will be used in order to squeeze back in.  I was kind of sick to my stomach when I realized how many times I fell for these same "Power Plays".  

I would recommend this book ONLY if you wanted to learn more about emotional abuse from the narcissists side of things.  It is a pretty short read with only 156 pages and most of that is repeated over and over just in a different way.  However, I would suggest buying the kindle version over the paperback so that you can change the font size for better reading and it's cheaper.    

Other Books On the Subject:
POWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arbi

Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Published on May 1, 2018
Published by Bloomsury
Pages: 229
Amazon ($10.79) Hardback
The long awaited moment has arrived and I couldn't wait to start reading the fourth book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy.  Somewhere along the lines of my excitement, I must have skipped over the part about this book being a novella of new books to come because it really didn't live up to my expections.  Where was the storyline????

This book takes place after the war in A Court of Wings and Ruin (Book 3) and has the point of views from: Feyre, Rhysand, Cassian, Morrigan and Nesta.  I was disappointed with the lack of plot of this book other then everyone suffering from trauma of the war and trying to find the perfect gifts for the upcoming holiday.  THAT is pretty much all of the 229 pages and had me walking away not liking how the characters, who I had fallen in love with in the other books, had turned out.

Maas has pretty much turned Nesta into a drunk that sleeps with anyone.  Tamlin is now nothing more then a shell of the powerful guy he used to be.  Feyre is still having issues with painting.  Cassian, Azriel and Mor are just big babies.   Elaine hangs out with the staff most of the time.  Lucien is mad at the world.  And Rhysand is always busy and forgets to eat. 

My favorite quote:
"You look like an angry snowball," Cassian said.

The only part of the book I really liked was when they were finally all together but even that seemed to have lost the fun banter.  I'm going to keep the faith that the next book will be much better and I will be able to fall back in love with the characters.  Although, I am wondering if Nesta's story will be more "adult" type of book instead of the "young adult" style I prefer.  I would give it 2 stars and that is only because I love the author.  You could just skip this book and wait for the others to come out.  Maas could have just taken the these chapters and rolled them into the first few chapters of the books for each character instead of making this mixed point of views.  It wasn't worth the $11 price tag.

On a positive note, if you pre-ordered the book and submitted your invoice, you were lucky enough to get this collector pin of the mountain and three stars.  Before reading the book I didn't really get the pin but there is a part in the book that explains what it means.
There is also a sneak peak for the next book as an added bonus which sounds like it will be Nesta and Cassian's story.  That was pretty much the best part of the book.  The rest of the book wasn't really needed.  A Court of Mist and Fury is still my favorite book out of the trilogy.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Book 1)
A Court of Mist and Fury (Book 2)
A Court of Wings and Ruin (Book 3)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

POWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi

Published on: January 11, 2017
Published by: Thought Catalog Book
Pages: 354
Amazon: 4 1/2 Stars with over 100 reviews
Price: $4.99 Kindle or $13.49 Paperback

One word - AMAZING

Not long ago a friend recommended this book to me after living through another hurtful event from my ex.  At first I thought, It's just another book telling me to get over it and move on,  but after doing a little research and reading chapter 4 of the book online (20 Diversion Tactics), I decided to give this book a try and ordered the Kindle version.  I was hooked after the first chapter and ordered the paperback as well!

I took my time reading each word, highlighting important passages to me, taking notes and researching the different topics listed.  My mind was blown because it felt like reading my life only it was also giving me the answers to the questions I have been asking myself over and over.  I wish I would have found this book years ago and understood more about the world of emotional abuse.  It would have made me understand what was going on in my confusion of loving someone and given me the skills to walk away while healing from the damage.  I had convinced myself that maybe I was as crazy as my ex kept saying I was for not letting the past go and moving on, but this book helped explain why that wasn't possible and the steps I needed to make it possible.
"Healthy relationships thrive on security; unhealthy ones are filled with provocation, uncertainty and infidelity." 

I always wondered what happened to my Prince Charming, the man that would spend all night just talking, writing me poems or giving me cheesy cards.  Where was the guy that supported my choices and loved the same things I did?  Why did he stop showering me with I love you and telling me I was beautiful?  When did all that turn to put downs covered by I'm just joking.  How could he say I was fat, useless and not a real woman?  Why did he suddenly stop supporting my goals and telling me what a bad parent I was? How could he cheat on me and make me feel like I was going crazy?  If you are living like this or have, then this book may give you the answers to those questions like it has for me.    
This book is not set up as normal books would be but more of a collection of essays being a different chapter regarding the parts of emotion abuse and steps you may take to recover.  It is also FILLED with other helpful information with other books, websites and even support groups to join.
You will learn about the three phases of an abuse relationship:
  • Idealization - where you are treated as a queen, center of their universe, showered with gifts, taken on trips, praised, flattered which leaves you thinking you have found your perfect match.  
  • Devaluation - they become hot and cold, start putting you down but covering it with "I'm joking", comparing you to others, bringing in other people to the relationship, gaslighting, withdrawing and leaving you wondering what happened. 
  • Discard - leaves for another person or moves on quickly, public humiliation, convincing you that your worthless, you can't make it on your own, negative toward you, physically aggressive.
The book will go into detail about each of these phases which will help you understand how things went wrong in your relationship.  You will learn terms like:
  • Love-bombing - shallow flattery, constant texting and wanting to hang out with you all the time, which is a technique used to draw you in but doesn't last.
  • Gaslighting - technique used to convince you that you are remembering things inaccurate and placing the blame on your shoulders. This is a huge one for me and I never knew there was a term for it. I kept a journal for most of our relationship and was glad I did because it kept the facts clear.  
There is a section that will help you overcome the feelings you have when you see your partner treating someone else better than they did you and it will explain how to battle this so that you can find closure without ever getting a "genuine apology" from them for their treatment.   It will also help with the feeling that you walked away thinking you are a failure and worthless. 
Most of us are not strong enough to walk away in the devaluation phase.  I stayed for over 20+ years (between dating, marriage and after)!  We stick around through the "I love you", "I don't want you", "I want you back", "You're not what I want", "I love you, please give me another chance", yo-yo that are partners put us through without really understanding what is going on.  We just hope that one day they change their minds and see the diamond that has been right there all along while they chased after rocks. 

"Why would the same person who claimed to
love and care for you hurt you -
over and over without a hint of empathy or remorse? 
In the narcissist's world, it's simply because they can."

During my research on the subject, I found this letter  "When A Narcissist Says “I Love You” This Is What It Means",  written from the perspective of the narcissist and found it rather helpful as to why someone can say I love you so easy to so many different people at one time but can turn around and hurt the ones they claim to love.

The book will explain that no matter how many friends or family members tell you to leave, we only find the courage to walk away after facing a turning point or been pushed past our pain threshold. Once you have made that choice, the book will help you learn about NO CONTACT and help you find your power again.

It will also go into details about what you should and should NOT talk about because of what the outcome could be.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  I hand delivered to my ex what could really hurt me and bring me to my knees.  At the time, I was thinking if I told him, he would care enough about me to avoid this from happening.  Instead, he made sure to do this act which ultimately became the one thing that broke my pain threshold and pushed me into learning more about this subject.
Most importantly, there is a lot of information about the outcome of this kind of trauma and the long healing process to follow.  It goes into details about the different chemicals in the brain that are being messed with and the steps it can take to heal these so the feeling of being an empty shell can go away.  If you are in a long-term abuse relationship, it could also lead to something more major like:
  • PTSD
  • Complex PTSD
  • Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Overall, I found this book a huge source of information on a subject I really knew nothing about.  I've already referred it to several people who I felt could benefit from the information after hearing their own stories.  It helps to finally feel like you have some of the answers to the questions you have been asking yourself over the years and to know the things you are feeling while trying to heal is normal. 
Looking over my story, I've found that even before this book I was doing a lot of these things anyway without even knowing it.  I was well on my way to the NO CONTACT, but it took getting really hurt one more time that pushed me to that edge.  Since we have a child together, I always felt we needed to be friends.  I now know this isn't the case and all it did was stop me from ever fully healing.  I was still being used as his supply when he needed a fix and now that I have cut off the contact, he will be forced to look for his supply in someone else.  
Other Books on the Subject:
No Contact: How to Beat the Narcissist by HG Tudor

Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie

Friday, April 6, 2018

Sluder's Neuralgia

Sluder's Neuralgia - Life changing, rare, extremely frustrating, persistent stabbing and sharp pain, causing anguish and lots of suffering, headache on localized spot on the face.

My History
In 2015, I was in the best shape of my life.  Healthy, working out every day and running in over 30 races but I also started getting this horrible headaches.  At first I didn't really notice and the headaches were coming more and more often and I was having to use sick days which I had never did before.

I started keeping track and noticed that while I ran I would always get this copper taste in my mouth. Also, the pain normally started a few hours after I ran or cut grass but not for other things like hiking or weight lifting.  They always started on the right side of my nose and eye but would travel upward to my forehead.  The pain was massive and would always lead to throwing up and last for days to weeks.

I did my research, talked to some fitness gurus, and tried so many different things:
Advil Sinus Congestion and Pain 200mg
Claritin 10mg
Simply Saline
Vicks Sinex
Afrin Nasal Spray
Nasal Rise (bottle and pot)
Air Purifiers
Cold and Hot Steamers
Essential Oils
Home Remedies
Salt tablets
Tracked my water intake
Had my house and vents cleaned and sprayed for any airborne bacteria

In February 2016, I finally told my doctor about them and she said it was most likely because of not enough blood flow to my brain and put me on Propranolol 20mg daily.  I took these for a month but still the pain continued.  She also did a scan of my brain to make sure she wasn't missing something major.  It came back clean.

In November 2016, I went to see a Neurologist which said that I may have what is called "Runner's Migraines" and wanted me to only run 1/2 mile at a time to see if the headaches went away.  He switched me to Amitriptyline 10mg daily and Sumatriptan 100mg for when the headaches hit.  I still had the headaches and the Sumatriptan would help them go away but it also made me sick to take and I was only supposed to take them once or twice a week.

In April 2017 my doctor upped the Propranolol from 20mg to 40mg and now I had high cholesterol from taking the other meds so I was put on Atorvastatin Calcium 10mg to counter that.  It still did not help. 

In September 2017 the pain was so bad I had to go to get help.  The right side of my face was hurting worst then it ever had.  My upper teeth were a new added pain and I couldn't eat anything.  It just so happened to be on a holiday weekend so finding help was a chore.  I first thought it might be a toothache and tried to get into see a dentist but everyone was closed.  I ended up going to sick call with my normal doctors office.  The Doctor on call put me on Clindamycin 150mg.  The pain did not go way so the next day I went to a walk in clinic and they put me on Doxycycline Hyclate 100mg plus Ibuprofen 800mg.  The pain was worse so I finally went to the ER.  There he did a CT scan and only found a small sinus infection and put me on Levofloxacin 500mg plus Hydrocondone 325mg.  I took these for 10 days and felt better then I had for the past few years.   

At this point, I had pretty much given up ever running again and the headaches never seemed to go away.  I had sunk into such depression and these headaches had taken over my life.  As a last resort, I contacted an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, thinking he would test me for an allergy but really not holding my breath that he could do any better then the last 5 doctors. 

Dr. Phillips listened to my story and right away thought he knew what the problem was.  He sprayed my right nostril with numbing spray and then stuck a small camera in the nose.  There he found what he thought my problem was....Sluder's Neuralgia.

My first thought was, here we go again.  Something new to add to my list of ever growing "it could be."  He brought out this little diagram and explained what Sluder's Neuralgia is.

This picture shows what a normal nose (right) looks like compared to what mine (left) looks like.  Sluder's Neuralgia (also known as contact point headache), is rare and extremely frustrating along with causes much anguish and suffering in patients.  It is a stabbing/sharp pain located in one area or spot on the face caused by a structural abnormality, where nerves are being compressed by a septal spur (or deviated septum)  and needs to be surgically corrected.  

As in my case, when I would run, the nerves would swell and hit the spur on the right side of my nose.  This would cause it to be blocked and cause the pain.

After doing my research on Sluder's Neuralgia, I noticed there is not a lot of information out there.  I was only able a few articles that seemed helpful. 

As the articles states, these headaches can go many years without getting a correct diagnosis. You can try nasal sprays, antibiotics, decongestants, see a dentist, have CT scans and MRI's but none of these will help or show Sluder's Neuralgia and is often misdiagnosed as migraines.

How Doc found it:
He sprayed numbing stuff up my nose which is nasty as it drips down your throat so be warned!  I told them they need to come out with bubble gum flavor.  After a few minutes he was able to put a small camera up the nasal passage which allowed him to find the problem.  This was painless and only a slight discomfort. 
He wanted me to try Afrin Nasal Spray again before we went on to surgery.  So I went on two separate runs, spraying Afrin when I felt the pain coming on, but it did nothing.
At my next appoint, we decided to go forward with the surgery.

Two weeks prior to surgery, you are not allowed to take most medications, herbal supplements or drink green tea.  The day of the surgery, you must not eat and make sure you take someone with you to drive you home because they are going to knock you out. 
You get an IV and need to spray more nasty stuff up your nose before they knock you out and put in a breathing tube.  The surgery really only lasts around 30 minutes.  After doc cuts out the spur, he puts in two splints inside the nose, held together with stiches. 
You stick around until your able to dress and leave with a cute nose guard to catch the blood.  You will need to change the gauze several times over the next 2-3 days.  It may be helpful to have extra gauze on hand in case you don't get enough when they send you home. 

I went back to the Doc 12 days later and he removed the splints.  Don't be like me and watch them doing this on youtube because it's just gross.  He sprayed some of that wonderful nasty numbing stuff in both sides of my nose.  He then sprayed some cleaner and vacuumed both sides clean.  He then cut the stitches on either side of the nose and pulled the split out.  He then sprayed it again and vacuumed it clean.
I also got his go ahead to run so that is just what I did.  I went to the gym and did a slow 2 miles.  There was a little discomfort but I'm thinking that may have been from the splints.  The pain I normally got did not raise its ugly head but it was short lived.

It has been over two months since the surgery.  I have mixed results.  The pain on the right side of my face is gone and I can breath a lot easier, something I didn't even know was an issue.  The bad side is that I still can not run without getting a migraine.  I ran in a 5k last month and ended up with a migraine that lasted 5 days.  Hiking long distances seem to be an issue now as well.  My last 6 mile hike ended up with a headache that lasted for the rest of the day.  Nothing major as before, though.  The pain is now around the superior turbinate/lacrimal sac area between both my eyes.

Doc wanted me to try Ponaris Nasal Emolient but so far that doesn't seem to be working either.

So....I'm happy to not have a pressure in my nose all the time and the surgery was great for that but I'm disappointed that I have to give up running.