Trolling Your Friends

Why would anyone want to be friends with someone who constantly trolls your social media posts?

That’s the question of the day.

It all started with this photo:

Innocent enough, right?

I happened to mention I was eating a low-carb lunch and watching Frozen 2 and cuddling my German Shepherd, when someone I know decided to inform me that my meal was NOT low-carb.

Look, I said low-carb, not no-carb. I understand the ranch sauce may have some form of corn syrup and yes, fruit has sugar and yes, dairy has sugar. But I assure you, it is way healthier than what I really wanted which was chips and queso.

I found these awesome cheese wraps in the KETO section of a supermarket and have been using them as my go-to for lunch. I’m attempting to cut wheat out, because, no matter how you slice it, wheat is inflammatory and it is a start. I took a little knife and spread some chive cream cheese on it, squirted the Smokehouse Ranch, added the deli ham slice, threw a couple of pieces of baby spinach and cut scallions, and then added a side of a few grapes and slices of apple. I was full, satisfied, and guess what folks – I’ve been losing weight.

So for someone to just try to call me out was just… one of those moments when you go, “Really?”

It is not just that, it is other stuff. This particular “friend” always has something to say about something that I post. Once it was about a certain children’s club and another time it was about whether kids should go to school. Clearly we line up on different sides of the equation politically, but really, that is okay. What is not okay is constantly giving me grief on my pages.

I often attribute it to someone visiting your home. Do you come in and begin arguing with your host? Or even worse, what if the person begins to argue with your friends? (Aka comments,) that’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This begs the questions, “If you have such differing opinions and you constantly check someone else, should you remain “friends” with that person?”

I think the best thing to do is simply one of two things: Ignore the comment or respond neutrally, but in a way that says, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m good.” Luckily, FB has a new feature where you can “take a break” from someone. What that means is that person will only see public posts that you post. You can also unfollow them. All good options.

Share with me if you think it is okay to troll a friend? And if so, why? Maybe you are well-intention-ed, or maybe there is something else? I don’t know. Help me understand.

Moving on…

So I decided to finally go for a long walk with the dog.

This should have been okay, but man oh man was it hilarious. Here is my reaction and why it was funny:

All of it seemed a good idea and the dog did get a really good workout, as I did, but man… I’m still paying the price for it. My KNEE. Though I am taking new medicine that helps, I basically threw myself back into inflammation hell. The Ortho doc TOLD ME NOT TO WALK. Did I listen? Nope.

Here’s hoping the week goes off without a hitch and my September is a golden beauty!

Things I Have Learned About German Shepherds

Dorian at 8 weeks old

I have always had a thing for German Shepherds. Though I loved my Siberian Husky, and yes, Nanook and the Huskies are one of my favorite breeds, GSDs (as they are called) are most certainly at the top of my breed list for best dogs EVER!

Back in April, when the pandemic started, my husband and I bought Dorian from a sweet family in Milledgeville, Georgia. He was 8 weeks old and 10 pounds.

Now he is 6 months old and 70+ pounds (and growing.)

I have to admit, he is my first puppy. I’ve always acquired or adopted older dogs, or at least young adults.

Here are some things I have learned from owning a German Shepherd:

2 months old

They are adorable puppies! Big puppies, but really, really cute. Their fur is so, so soft and they bond really quickly. That was something I was looking for. Of course, they look nothing like their adult versions.

2.

They grow really, really fast. And they love to chew everything they see! Thank goodness I splurged on some heavy duty chew toys early on. They came in handy! Always offer the toy over your hand. That is a really bad habit (chewing & mouthing hands) that is really hard to break. I was big on no mouthing, Tim let him mouth. We are still working on it! Plus, they have little needle teeth as babies.

3.

They are quick to train. We had this guy potty trained in 2 days and he learned to sit, lay down and stay in 30 minutes. Super smart! Take advantage of this time to train quickly. We rarely had any accidents.

4.

3 months

Leash training should be consistent and started early. We have not had the best luck with it. Again, I use a leash, my husband prefers not to. I think consistency is key.Tim and I just have different philosophies when it comes to the dog. (Can you imagien if we had a baby together?!)

5. I know people say raw hide and pig ears are not the best for dogs due to the issues they can cause with their insides… but I have to admit, sometimes a good pig ear calmed my little guy down. He was busy eating every stick he could find, I thought the ears would be better. He may have eaten 4 in his entire 6 months, but it definitely saved me a ton of time and kept him calm.

6.

The Kong really is a great way to keep them calm and busy when you are trying to get them to adjust to being in their kennel. I would scoop kibble into his kong, top it with a plug of peanut butter and freeze it. It would take him about 30 minutes to work through it, but it was an awesome tool to use. Especially when he had such anxiety about me going to work.

7.

Don’t sweat the ear issue. I was under the impression you had to pin a shepherd’s ears to get them to stand up and thank goodness I took the time to do the research. The ears you see above naturally do that. Basically, while their teeth are coming in, they are beginning to build cartilage. Around 4 – 6 months, all of their adult teeth are in and their ears will now receive the rest of the cartilage and they will stand up on their own! You do have to get used to this milk maid look for a while!

8.

Exercise is critical! We try to let our little guy run outside as much as possible. If it is raining or too hot to go outside, we simply throw the ball inside and he runs from one end of the house to the other playing fetch. WHICH, btw, I did not have to train him to do. He literally knew what was needed. Amazing breed! Just this month we are learning to catch the ball and he is, again, outstanding at any thing he learns. It reminds me of those natural athletes. They just know!

9.

Water has not been a problem with this breed. My little guy loves running through his splash pad or jumping in the tub after we have taken a bath. And baths are a piece of cake! I can’t wait to take him to the beach and see his reaction!

10.

5 months

His growth has been very, very fast. At 5 months he was 68 pounds, and he is still growing. We started off with a large kennel inside, but ended up at 5 months purchasing the largest size we could find for indoors. He is a big boy and making sure he is comfortable is key!

11.

When it comes to health, I have noticed he needs a lot of water and he has very sensitive skin. I make sure he stays hydrated and cool in this South Georgia Summer heat and I am now washing his bedding and blanket with no-perfume or dye detergent. He ended up with a terrible rash all over his belly and spent a week or so on antibiotics and steroids. He recovered just fine, but it is something to look out for. Also, people food. Let’s be honest, we all hand over the scraps from time to time, but apparently GSDs have super sensitive tummies. He will get a bout of diarrhea quick!

12.

6 months

A lot of time people ask me what I feed him. He is growing up so healthy and his coat is shiny and soft. We feed him Diamond Naturals Large Puppy Breed food. Our vet suggested we do this until he is one. We have also decided to neuter him when he turns one also. (Another suggestion from the vet.)

13. We do use a monthly heart worm preventative (Interceptor,) and we use a 3 month flea & tick protection internal prevention (Bravecto.)

14. His paws can cause serious injury – I have so many scratches all over my body. You will have to file and get his nails trimmed often.

15. Be careful when purchasing chew toys and stuffed animals. Once, while we were driving, he vomited in the car and out came tree bark and half of a stuffed animal. These guys will eat anything. Only purchase super hardy items.

16. They are known as velcro dogs and will follow you everywhere – including the bathroom.

17. They are very loyal, so make sure to show them plenty of attention. However, make sure you socialize them with children and other dogs early on. Our dog will bark if you come to the door like he is going to kill, but once you come in, he will lick you to death.

18. Finally, the jumping and mouthing can be a lot. They are, no doubt, a handful.

At the end of the day – KNOW what you are getting. They are a LOT. You need to be strong, be consistent and patient.

Follow the blogs that are specifically about GSDs. Make sure to read up on the forums with the Kennel Club, and ask your vet.

Great Reading and Good Eating

One of the newest things Tim and I are doing at home is turning off the TV by 7pm. It’s a new concept for us. We have, for the past 4 years, been escaping into random reality series and binge watching shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We realized so many things weren’t getting done.

Just last week, I finished the book, “Ribbons of Scarlet” which you can read about HERE. It took me about a week and I simply could not put it down. Since I am more of the biographical, historical fiction kinda girl, I opted for another great option that kept coming up in my Kindle “You May Like” category. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is the one that kept reappearing.

I ordered it from Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle. While driving to Macon on Saturday for my hair appointment, I finished the Ribbons of Scarlet and thought what a good idea it would be to go ahead and start my new book. Unfortunately, I forgot I needed access to wireless, so I had to wait until we got home from Macon.

That night I got all cozy in my bed and began, what would become, one of my favorite tales from WWII. Incredible story telling and it is all based on a true story.

Without giving away too much, there is a main character by the name of Lale and he is a Jew and is from Slovakia. When the war began, before Jews were officially being taken away and put in “work camps” or “concentration camps” there were actual calls for men to volunteer to go and work in these camps. Lale, due to his family’s circumstances, chose to volunteer. He ends up at Auschwitz (of all places!!)

I remember as a child learning all about concentration camps. For one, my maternal grandfather fought in WWII and had many, many stories to share. My sister performed in a play about the camp. I saw Schindler’s List and visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. And even more importantly, I have a relative, Judge Shake from Indiana, that was a judge at the Nuremberg Trails. My ancestry on my dad’s mom’s side is German and according to my DNA test, I am 29% German. As you can imagine, anything to do with Germany is of interest to my family.

This story shares how Lale, by the grace of God, was given the job of Tattooist at the camp. With this position came lots of privileges, and luckily, Lale was really good at manipulating the system. Yes, he witnesses many atrocities that you will read about in great detail and yes, there is a love connection that is beyond a fairy tale! (To think it is true.) Lale was a very brave man and there were many times throughout the book that I kept thinking to myself, “What would I have done?”

I think that is the beauty of reading. I got a firsthand account of what life was like in a concentration camp and I kept trying to imagine how I would handle the situation.

I just don’t know.

Needless to say, I high recommend this book. And more great news, there is a follow-up book that explore a life of one of the characters by the name of Cilka. It is called Cilka’s Journey. When the Russians came to liberate the concentration camps, Cilka was actually found to be a collaborator with the Nazis (which she was not,) and sent to Siberia to the work camps. I JUST started that book last night and now I find myself in Siberia in the 1940s. Mama mia!

As promised, I wanted to throw in one recipe for you and it is a super easy one!

Chicken Wrap

  • 2 c. shredded chicken (I used the pulled chicken that is frozen from Tyson)
  • 1/3 cup of Ranch (Sometimes I try different flavor ranches)
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon
  • Butter or Boston Lettuce (used for wraps)

Cook bacon.

Cook chicken.

Combine chicken & ranch in a bowl.

Spoon into lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with bacon (and I usually add shredded cheese.)

Boom and done!

Drop It Like It is Hot & Other Recipes

You guys!!!! I have so much to share with you today. Including some delicious recipes to help you have a morning that you start off with “Hey Guys!!!”

I am down 17.6 pounds. That point six may not seem like a lot, but I am getting closer and closer to being down 20 pounds!

How am I doing it? I’m going low-carb!

As promised, I planned to share a few recipes with you, some that are super easy and count as low-carb. I have not included exercise as of yet. I’ve been nursing a torn MCL and wanted to give myself a chance to take some pounds off of my knee and to get this new medication I am using to start working.

Let’s get to the food portion, shall we?

Keto Taco Casserole

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I go for lean)
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper for taste
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • jalapenos, chopped (I use a jar of nacho jalapenos.)
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 c sour cream (for serving)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and brown with the onions.

Sprinkle taco seasoning & jalapenos (as many as you are comfortable with.) Cook another minute.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then add the meat. Spread the mix in an even layer in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook 25 min.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro & top with sour cream.

DELISH!!

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese
  • 2 c. cooked, cubed chicken (I buy the bag of Tyson pre-cooked, cubed chicken.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Add cream cheese, buffalo sauce and garlic to a skillet. Heat at medium, and whisk. When the cream cheese has melted, add in the chicken. Mix well and remove from heat.

Spray a casserole dish with coconut oil and spoon in the mixture and smooth it out.

Pour heavy cream over the top and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes!

These are two super easy recipes to make that most kids will enjoy. Big on flavor, low on carb and easy to make!

Ribbons of Scarlet

This past weekend, I happened to finish an extraordinary book titled, “Ribbons of Scarlet” A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and the forward by Allison Pataki.

I first discovered Stephanie Dray when I read America’s First Daughter, a fantastic biographical, historical fiction piece about the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. So when Amazon recommended this book she collaborated on, I decided to give it a try.

First of all, I simply could not put this book down. It was incredible. The way the authors were able to cover a wide variety of women in different socio-economic situations, as well as piece together the entire revolution. The brilliance and ability to share historic facts and create such a compelling narrative was simply outstanding.

There are six different characters that the authors introduce you to. There is Sophie de Grouchy, an aristocrat, that wants to see equal rights not just for women, but for everyone in France. There is an interesting love story attached to her and guess who her crush is? None other than Lafayette! You will also meet Louise Ardu, a fruit seller that becomes a student of Sophie’s. Louise reminds me of the rough-neck girls I went to high school with. Smart, feisty, and not afraid of anything. You will even get to peek into Princess Elizabeth’s take on all of the political upheavel. (She is the King’s pious sister.) She wants to be a nun, is 100% a royalist, and is not a great fan of her sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette.

There is Manon Roland, one of the most prolific writers and ends up being the ghost writer of her husband, Jean-Marie Roland de la Platièr’s, speeches. She is not exactly a royalist and not exactly a revolutionary. I could relate so much to her – a true Independent Moderate. Where we differ is how incredibly brave she was.

You will also meet Pauline Leon, a woman who owns a chocolatier and is blood thirsty and a true-blue revolutionary. And one of my favorite characters is Charlotte Corday. Strategic and her story flows almost like the visions of Joan of Arc. Then there is the beautiful Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe, who is capable of turning any man’s head. Unfortunately, she turned the head of the fearsome Robespierre and that did not end well for her.

OMG… you have to read this book. Even if history is not your thing, this book about the French Revolution is so incredibly timely. With the state of our nation and with women’s rights and factions trying to gain control. Between our protests and their protests, you will feel like you understand what the French were going through.

Give Ribbons of Scarlet a try. I think you will be very pleased!

Forgiveness Is the Answer

At the end of the day, all we can do is forgive and move on.

I don’t know about you, but I am just so sick and tired of feeling so passionately about this issue or the next. Even when it comes to politics, I fall somewhere in the middle – I’m a moderate independent. I can honestly see both sides, hear all of the arguments, and sometimes, just think, “What does it really matter?” Just be a good human.

After last night’s city council meeting, I got to thinking about the moving of monuments and memorials and racism and all of the other things in between. If you move the fallen police officer memorials, you might satisfy one group of people. If you don’t move the memorials, you will satisfy another group of people. Each side has valid points.

Here is an idea – What if we just forgive one another and move on? Are we fighting someone else’s battle? Are we paying for the sins of our ancestors? What is the answer?

My co-worker Qaijuan and I chatted about it this morning.

Solution based thinking.

We know what the problems are. We understand the hurt and the pain. We can see it from both sides of the coin. What are the solutions? Where is the compromise?

That’s what I want to see.

I know when I lead tourism retreats, I always say, “Yes, we know we have problems. And you can bring me your problem. But when you bring the problem, give me an option to help solve the problem.”

And discuss. Open dialogue and open discussion.

I often find when I am around people who only hang out with people just like themselves, their ability to see both sides is limited. Me have to make friends and spend time with all types of people from all of the different backgrounds. We just have to.

Again, I don’t have all of the answers, but talking about it is the first step.

Rona Killing Football Dreams

Thanks, Rona.

Apparently, 2020 has been cancelled. It is official.

This morning, when I came into work, our Guest Services Coordinator stopped me to tell me about what was happening with college football. By the look in his eyes, I knew Southern culture would never be the same again.

I am curious how this football season is going to turn out!

Growing up, I was never a big football fan. I remember my grandfather watching football at his house on the weekends, but that was the extent of my knowledge of the game. I think I might have gone to one football game in my entire high school career. (Well, maybe more – who knows?!) I was more of a ballet/theater kid and sports, just simply, were not my thing.

It wasn’t until I moved to Alabama that I began to appreciate the game and more importantly, the culture around the game.

Many of my co-workers would ask me which team was I a fan of, and since I was from Georgia, I would say, “I guess Georgia.” I mean, my little sister did go to UGA, so it wasn’t so far fetched.

Apparently I did not fully grasp the culture in Alabama.

When someone asks you what team, they mean – ALABAMA OR AUBURN.

OOOOOHHHH….

I did my due diligence and attended watch parties on both sides. I ended up siding with the University of Alabama and like so many other fans, began yelling, “Roll Tide!”

I learned the plays, I began to understand the rules, and finally, I became a football fan! College football fan, that is.

Steve and I are willing to bet that this September, football is not going to make it. We genuinely believe Rona is going to kill football. Which will kill so many Fall weekends in the South. It will also kill so many kids dreams of a great year. *smh*

Regardless of what you think of the sport, it is an American institution and I believe this holiday season (which in the South kicks off with Football Season,) is going to be a bust.

Mark our words.

The Heart Led Leader

About a year ago, the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University sent me this book- The Heart Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding. The book was actually a signed copy by the author and like all nice gifts I get from various things I’m involved in, I sort of sat it aside thinking, “Okay, I’ll get to it one day.”

I would find it stacked up under a pile of forms or the budget book or something like that, and I would usually just scoot it to the side. From time to time, I would pick it up, read the description again, and sort of turn up my nose. “The heart led leader” – ugh.

If you know anything about me, I tend to pride myself on saying things with no holds barred and giving it to you straight. Be damned the idea of hurt feelings. You need to suck it up and pull it together. Win! Fight! Go team, go!

Yeah, how’s that working out for me? The truth is, I am winning, but I’m stressed and I just might be leaving a trail of carnage behind me. It is not like I intentionally burn bridges, but I am quick to cut ties if someone or something does not suit my “winner” mentality.

Since the pandemic, I’ve been spending more time alone and thinking about what really matters to me the most. Each year, I come up with a theme word to try to live my life by and one word in particular comes up over and over, and that word is peace.

I’ve spent 47 years trying to find peace, cultivate peace, just trying to BE a more peaceful person. It has taken me this long to realize that peace comes from one place – THE HEART.

This last time I stumbled across the book, I decided that it was finally time to read it. And I am so glad that I did. I was captivated by the first chapter.

Seriously.

I’ve read plenty of self-help books and leadership books and everything else in-between. This book actually held my interest, touched even the coldest of hearts, and has made a lasting impact on what kind of leader, rather, what kind of person I want to be.

I work in what some might consider a quasi-corporate environment. It is government and there are tons of best practices and procedures and protocols people follow. Not a lot of warm & fuzzys, however, I am in the business of selling warm and fuzzy. How do the two go together for workplace culture?

I’ve led numerous team-building exercises, staff retreats and even community-wide retreats and I am always trying get people to dig deeper. I’ve been laughed at for the “positive energy” I try to bring to my department. Many of the managers I work with seem to pride themselves on being cold and stand-offish.

Not me. And not ever again.

Just when I thought, “Maybe I should be a hard ass and just demand more from my staff,” I picked up the book and realized that creating a space where people can thrive, care for one another, and depend on each other is a much better way to lead. I want to leave a legacy and for my team to feel like they grew and to know that I cared. Heck, that we all cared for one another.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And that, my friends, is what the Heart Led Leader is all about.

If you are looking for a book that will inspire, perhaps shift your perception of what a corporate environment should be like, then give the Heart Led Leader a try.

Paprika Chicken – Low Carb

This recipe is always a hit at my house and is super easy. Low-carb without being low on taste.

  • 4- 4oz chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet onion
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Place in a large skillet on med-high heat and add the olive oil.

Seer the chicken on both sides until almost cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove to a plate.

Add onion to skillet and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.

Stir in cream & paprika & bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and any juices to the skillet and summer at least 5 minutes until cooked.

Stir in sour cream and remove from heat. Serve with parsley!

Empty Nest is the Best

Christmas 2019

Things are quiet around our home.

One kid has moved out and is a freshman in college. The other is a senior in high school and only spends 2 nights a week at our home.

It finally happened.

We are empty nesters.

After spending the past couple of years trying to help raise my husband’s two teenage girls, there is a sudden sense of relief. Like… we did it. We can rest now.

And rest we have!

For two nights in a row, I have gone to bed at 9 pm. Our basic after work schedule includes me coming home, walking the dog. Feeding the cats. Cooking dinner. Feeding the dog. Tim gets home. We watch tv as we eat. We maybe watch another show. Then Tim goes to our bedroom to start working on a class he is taking and I take a nice long bath. We put the dishes away. We walk the dog. I read for about an hour, then snooze land.

It is so, so, so nice.

There is an aura of calm that has settled on our home. Even with the rambunctious 6-month-old German Shepherd running around.

This is something I have been waiting for. No stress, no angst, no “I need this,” just quiet and calm.

Now what to do with all of this quiet time? Maybe less sleeping, though my body is enjoying catching up on the loss of sleep over the months.

This class has made a world of difference for Tim. He was truly dreading the empty nest. He just loves being a dad. Luckily, he is finding ways to spend his extra time and I couldn’t be happier for him.

Finally… it feels like life is happening, the way we envisioned it.

How do you handle empty nest?