Monday, October 14, 2013

Migraine - What it Feels Like



 It starts innocent enough; just a little pain in the back of your head and neck as you ready yourself for bed.  It's minor, but enough to make you not want to sleep with any pressure on the area.  So you toss and turn and don't sleep well.
  Upon waking, the nagging pain is still there, but it's gotten a little worse.  You're laying still, trying to breathe deep, and telling yourself that it's not a migraine - it's just a headache and will go away.
  But the pounding is slowly spreading; starting in your chest and rising up towards your skull.  You know the moment you stand up, it will be like releasing the flood gates.  You don't have much of a choice however, as your family needs to be fed, house taken care or you've got a job to hang on to.
  You do your best to sit up slowly, every movement careful and calculated.  As you stand up and step out, you're careful to step toe-to-heel, as any type of jarring motion originating from your heel-strike may increase the pressure that is slowly building in your skull.
  Your eyes have that faint sparkly aura around the edges of your sight, with an occasional lightning bolt when you have to switch on a necessary light.  You muddle through only the most vital and unavoidable of your morning chores.  Every action takes twice as long to perform as your brain is fogged over from the pain.  Simple tasks such as wrapping your fingers around the handle of the coffee mug become as difficult as learning a new sport or art.  Eventually, you give up anything more complex than simply walking and staying upright.
  You swallow down medication with as little water as possible, since your stomach is churning vigorously.  Even the act of swallowing makes your gag reflex activate.  You try to sit still on the edge of your bed and allow the medication to work, but very quickly you realize that your situation is beyond help and is about to go from bad to horrific.

  The pain is dull and sharp at the same time.  A dull, pounding ache that starts at your neck and travels up the outside of your skull, ending in sharp points.  It's mostly one-sided, but it's hard to tell anymore as the pain is beginning to radiate.  It wraps around the side of your head and bores into your temple and eyes, as if it were some live creature trying to extract your brain. 
  There is more pain elsewhere - your skin.  It tingles and every touch or movement feels like you might catch fire at any moment.  Your whole body is tense and you can't help but wring your hands as you rock back and forth in place.  You fight the tears, because it will only make it worse.  
  Every train of thought, every word you try to speak and every movement is nearly impossible at this point. You can't answer questions with any more than a very slowly spoken yes or no - not because of the pain, but because your brain seems to have shut down.

  Here it comes.  You drag yourself or stagger into the bathroom and barely make it to the toilet.  You vomit until there's nothing left, and then you vomit more, because vomiting drives the pressure sky high, increases the pain and you become trapped in this vicious cycle.  During a brief reprieve you lay on the cool tile floor and beg the Lord to take you home now, because life is no longer worth living.  You can't think about the future, because it seems as though there is none.  When God doesn't instantly take you away, you can't help but watch your mind wander to thoughts of suicide.  After-all, it really does feel good as you're repeatedly jarring your skull with your palm.
  You don't know why you are even doing this, or when you started it, but for some reason, causing this superficial and mild pain clears the fog, just a bit.  You're tempted to hit harder or seek a hard surface to throw yourself against, but your self-preservation refuses to allow you - at this point anyways.
  The vomiting is done for now.  If you are blessed with a caretaker, they will probably drag you back to bed, and have to physically arrange your body into a comfortable position, as you have no more motor control - nor do you care.  You were actually quite happy on the the bathroom tile and would've just stayed there.
  From here, it could be hours or it could be days.  Clumsy trips to the bathroom if you can make it, enduring the dizziness while simply lying on your back, avoiding opening your eyes at all costs, and praying all the while that in one way or another,the pain would stop.

  When the migraine finally fades, you are left with the pain in your muscles and skin, as if you are bruised everywhere, and the brain-fog hangs on for a day or two.  You have to concentrate on all simple tasks again, as if you're a brain-damage victim re-learning everything.  Walking, eating, talking, etc.  Not to mention the fact that you are still tip-toeing around so as not to incite another episode.

  After another day or two, your psyche does you the favor of fading the memory (just like in child-birth, or any heavy-pain experience) in order to allow you to continue living.  You are probably ok for another week or two, maybe even a month, before you get another one.  Everyone wants to fix you, they all tell you to see a doctor and maybe you have a tumor.  But you've been to what seems like a million doctors, and despite all their old-fashioned or new-fangled or just plain crazy-weird treatments, you still suffer occasionally.
  There is nothing discernibly wrong with you, but there are a handful of diagnoses that can be thrown at you.  Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Auto-Immune, etc, etc, etc.  There are also a number of medications that can be given, all ranging from anti-depressants to anti-seizure meds.  The docs will straight up tell you that they don't know why they work but they do.  Sometimes they do work, sometimes they don't and many times the side-effects aren't always worth it.
  After a while, a migraine-sufferer accepts their given circumstances and gives up on seeing doctor after doctor.  It's exhausting and exasperating, without much to show for it in the way of healing and prevention. There will never be one specific cure because everyone seems to suffer a little differently.  When one thing works for one person, it won't for the next.  We are all far too unique and individual.  The best we can do is to eat healthy, keep our bodies in good shape, keep helpful people nearby, and strengthen our faith, because we're gonna need it for next time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I had a plan...and God just laughed...

  I am definitely one of those people that criticizes others and their decisions, along with firmly stating that 'I will never do this - or that - like they did.'  Wait, isn't everyone like that?
  I'm a planner. Always have, always will be.  Til.I.die.  God is so patient with me though.  He allows me my lists and my dates and my plans and EXTENSIVE DETAILS RECORDED.  Then, He gently shows me a better path.
  You can imagine the PLANS I have for our baby girl Korey.  We had 30 long months to make all these plans and decisions.  Naturally, I critically examined every single parent I laid my eyes on during that time.  I read as much as I possibly could on the subject of baby-having, baby-raising, and parent-making.
  Once again, God just quietly chuckles, as He looks ahead at my future.  The future HE has planned for me. Not the one I have planned.  I will admit, though, I've never been disappointed.  Even with the tough times I didn't PLAN ON....there was a wonderful reason.  There always is.  Even if we don't get to know the reason until we reach those 'pearly gates'.

  So, I had these HUGE plans on EXACTLY how my labor and birthing process would go.  Even though I constantly repeated to myself not to get attached to my birth plan, it happened anyways.
  After 3 false labor episodes lasting DAYS, I hit 41 weeks and my Doc said that word that I previously considered truly evil: induction.  I had read how awful Pitocin was, and how out of control inductions are, and how it's not good for the mother or the baby, and how they end up in C-sections much of the time, and, and, and.....
  But I calmly told my Doc, "YES! PLEASE! I'm done being pregnant!"
  Lord knows I tried to enjoy pregnancy and I constantly told myself how beautiful it was.  I was seriously lying to myself.  In the end, it wasn't beautiful.  It kinda stunk, actually.  Sick the first 19 weeks, energetic and wonderful for about 4 weeks after that, then one thing after another ganged up on me and my happiness.    
  The pelvic and tailbone pain was so bad that Scott had to lift me out of bed, and in and out of the truck (not easy with a fat, painful preggo).  Can you say WADDLE? Yeah, it was bad.  Then came the itchiness.  Everywhere.  I would wake up with my legs bleeding from the scratching I did in my sleep.  I wont even start on the migraines and vomiting.
  I know, I'm just whining.  It could've been way worse.  Everyone kept telling me that.  But you want to know something?  At that time, it was THE WORST for me.  I know it seems self-centered, but I was miserable, and even telling myself that it could be worse never made me feel better.  I wasn't even grateful for the mildness of my symptoms compared to other women who have suffered far worse.  When you are near the end of your pregnancy, your hormones are making you CRAZY, and your emotions are the stretched to their breaking points, it doesn't matter if someone else has hurt more than you.  You don't care about them at that point.  It's all about you and that baby and getting it out, along with all the misery.
  So we did.  We induced.  They wanted to start me slow, I said, 'Give me all you've got, let's get this baby out NOW.'  And there went all my plans.  I labored on my back the WHOLE TIME - stupid, stupid, stupid.  I tried for so long to avoid the epidural, but gave in when the contractions were coming every minute.  I've been told pitocin contractions are horrible...maybe if I go natural next time, it'll feel like a breeze.
  From the start of the drip, it took 8 hours to bring my baby girl into this world - only 15 minutes of that was actual pushing. I tore just a little bit and required a few sutures.  But all else was well.  It was incredible.  And I don't regret a single thing from that day.

  This past week, my BIG PLANS have suffered another terrible blow.  I vowed Korey wouldn't start solids until she was at least a year old.  Enter:  the other path.
  Korey ate her first bite of baby oatmeal on November 13th - and let me tell you, SHE LOVED IT.  Within two bites, she was opening her mouth and grabbing at the spoon.  She was instantly a pro.  Tonight, she tasted Pear, and loved that even more.  So much for my 'wait until at least 6 months-or more' plan.  You'd think would learn by now....

  So life goes on. I still plan and list and document and record everything.  I still freak out if Scott refuses to give me a yes or no answer (I can't plan on 'maybe'...or 'I don't know').  And God still treats me with gentle patience.

  I can't remember a time when Korey wasn't here.  I don't know what I did with all my waking moments before she came.  She continues to amaze me every day with how quickly she learns and picks up things.  I am learning so much from her, but mostly enduring patience.  I'm so glad God chose me to be Korey's mom. ♥

Friday, September 7, 2012

Let's Talk About Pee....and other things...

  Time flies when you're having fun.  This is so true.
  My baby girl is 2 months old.  My husband and I decided this milestone is the point at which we can stop saying her age in weeks.  After 8 weeks, it just starts to sound silly. 13 weeks, 40 weeks, etc.
The next question is.....when do we stop counting in months?  We are thinking once she hits one year.  Oh the silly things we worry about now.
  We both love being parents to this cheerful little person.  She has brought so much joy (and entertainment, stress, laundry, etc) into our lives.  She makes us feel old already.
  I could go on and on all day and end up with a book about all the things Korey does, but I wont.
  I'd like to tell you all about our practicing of elimination communication.  If you're unfamiliar with EC, just google it.  I've spoken a lot about it before, and have held high hopes about it working.

  Here's the shortened version:  EC is what people practice in all the other parts of the world, except in the US (and partially the UK), but they don't have a name for it,  because it's a natural part of their lives.  It doesn't require any studying or learning, because they were raised that way for thousands of years, and still raise the children that way.
  These babies don't wear any type of diaper from birth.  The caretakers simply 'know' when the baby has to 'go' and will give a 'cue' while holding them over a pot, or a hole, or just the ground for the deed.  If the babies are being worn in a sling, and the caretaker senses that they have to go, the baby is simply held away from the body until they are done.  It is very rare that these people are ever pooped or peed on.  It's just the way things are done.  And guess what?  These babies are potty trained within weeks.  No, they can't use the outhouse by themselves yet, but they quickly learn to signal the caretakers and to go on cue.  No messes.  No diapers.
  And this is where we come in.....
  The first two weeks, I concentrated solely on healing from labor, and taking care of our newborn.  We both felt so awkward, especially when it came to diapering.  Even now, after millions of diapers, we still mess up and pay dearly for the mistakes.  We tried every brand of diaper, and, naturally, found that the most expensive ones fit the best and prevented blowouts. I since have begun using cloth diapers (after finally figuring out how they work....) and am in love with them.  I have saved sooooo much money already, and Korey appreciates that she has no more diaper rash.

  When I began to practice elimination communication, it was based on timing alone.  I knew that Korey peed about every 30 minutes.  Once I caught one pee, it was easy after that. I would take her to the toilet (the adult toilet), sit facing backwards, with her in my arms, and hover her over the bowl while holding her in a squatting-like position (a natural position that encourages pooping and peeing).  I chose to cue her by saying "go peepee", and making a hissing sound (commonly used, like the sound of pee).  Sometimes she would go right away, sometimes we sat for 5 minutes cueing before she would go, and sometimes she wouldn't go at all, and cry instead.  We were still learning each other, so I stayed calm and stayed persistent.
  There were days when I caught so many peepees in the toilet that I only used about 4 diapers throughout the day.  Then there were days when I caught none.
When Korey was about 5 weeks of age, I became extremely discouraged after a long bout of missed peepees.  My sister was visiting me at the time, and had just come back from a visit to East Aisa, where she witnessed first hand their method of potty training (EC).  She quickly pointed out to me that those families live together and raise the babies together and have been doing so forever, so there are no 'missed peepees', and the babies train quicker.
  So I rallied my spirits and continued trying to catch as many peepees as I could (poo is another story I will mention at the end of my post...).
  When she was just over 6 weeks old, everything seemed to click, all in one day.  She peed every single time I cued her, and we used just two diapers throughout the day. (When I say I only used two diapers, please understand that it's because the were still completely dry, thus I was able to keep putting them back on her.)  This continued from that point on- and I was overjoyed. Now, I can sometimes just 'know' that she has to go.  Mostly by her own cues....she wriggles in a certain way, or suddenly gets upset, or starts fussing while she sleeps.  It's so amazing!  I didn't even know I was reading her until I noticed her doing it when Scott was holding her.  I said, "Oh, she has to pee."  Sure enough, she peed when held over the toilet and cued.
  Despite our progress, she is still just barely 2 months old, and I am still just barely a mom.  I miss many peepees, and I don't even bother to try it while we're out and about.  From what we've accomplished so far and seeing the bond I've developed through this experience, we're going to keep it up.  I still have high hopes of Korey being potty trained under a year of age.
  There is so much more to this process than I could ever tell you.  If you are interested in knowing more, just read the many articles online about EC, or read 'Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene'.  That book is where we got the majority of our information.  I also would like my readers to know that Korey is never stressed out when being 'peed' over the toilet.  She sits quietly and calmly for the most part.  She is never ever punished for wet diapers (well, she's never punished at all....she is only 2 months after all....).  The most important point that I would like to make to you is that it's true that babies have control over their bladders and bowels.  They don't just 'leak', as many people think7.  I have witnessed so many times when Korey hears my cue, takes a moment (or two) to concentrate, then physically 'pushes' to start the stream of urine.  It still amazes every time she does it.

  Anyhow, that's my story for now.  Oh yes, the poo situation.  I still can't detect when she's about to poop.  I know when she's mid-poop most of the time, and I certainly know it when she's done.  We've got time to work on that though.  I'll leave you with these prime example photos.  Have a blessed day!








This one is, 
  "I'm pushing really hard..."




 Still going....








                                           "Woo that felt good!"







  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Please subscribe to my blog for future updates!  Next blog will be about her birth story, and baby-wearing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paperless Filing System -Part 2

My physical filing cabinet has officially gone from 2 overflowing drawers to only 8 folders - which are all very slim.  I may just have to toss my filing cabinet.  :)  Let's get this started with an awesome and organized screenshot of my Evernote:


If you want to see screenshots of my Evernote when I first began filing, refer to Part 1 of My Paperless Filing System here.  Let's go over this picture really quickly:
  On the far left are all my notebooks and notes which are stored in Evernote on my computer, and on their cloud-based servers (unless I chose not to with a specific folder).  Evernote sorted them alphabetically automatically, which works for me, but I'm sure you could change if you wanted.  
  •   Starting at the top, I've got my online business notebook.
    • Things I scanned: deductible receipts
  •   My INBOX Notebook is my most important.  That is the 'Default Notebook', as set by me.  My scanner settings also reflect to send anything and everything that is scanned directly to this notebook.  Evernote files it in here and syncs across the accounts automatically, even if it's not open or active on my laptop at the time.  This way, I can scan something very quickly, and not have to file it until later, when I have time to sit down and do some very quick and simple 'drag-and-dropping'.  
  •   My personal medical notebook is another 'stack' which holds all pertinent health info.
    • Things I scanned:  Paperwork showing major illness or diagnosis with a date, Out of pocket records, Eye exam Rx cards from every year, Dental workup sheets showing work done/needed with any visit, and any medication label that was included with a new medication (don't scan in the 'drug info', as this is something you can look up on the internet from anywhere or even call your local walgreens and they will tell you what it is - even if you didn't get it.) (Yes, we're paperless now, but you don't need to be digging through pages of side effects while trying to find the date of the Rx).
    • Things I THREW AWAY:  Receipts from medical offices that weren't deductible, paperwork regarding minor illnesses (like cold and flu), minor medications, and anything that a future doctor wouldn't care to see.  
  • The next stack of notebooks is my Paperless File System, which is what I originally started with.  My medical records and vehicle records were included in this stack, but one I realized these subject had their own 'tree' of documents, and Evernote doesn't do 'stacks-within-stacks', I pulled them separate.
  •   I have scanned in only pertinent tax information into each year (items and paper that I think would be needed if I were audited).  For the most part, our taxes are VERY EASY, we do them ourselves online (Taxslayer also keeps copies of my forms on their site), and my notebooks are very small.
    • Things I scanned: W2s, the completed 1040 tax filing forms, and year end statements that might be necessary in an audit.  Nothing more.
    • Things I THREW AWAY:  All paycheck stubs (once the W2 arrives and is correct, these are unnecessary), all bank and credit card statements (if these are important to your business or deducted for some reason, the financial institutions will have available a year end summary which includes everything for the year - this is recommended vs the monthly ones)
  •   The Pets Notebook
    • Things I scanned: All vaccination records, Spay and Rabies Certificates, and major illness paperwork, 
    • Things I THREW AWAY:  Heath certificates with expiration dates, minor illness or routine checkup papers, purchase/adoption paperwork (all my animals are rescues and non are papered, so I had no reason to save any purchase info), EXPIRED rabies certificates
  • Receipts:  VERY IMPORTANT - because most receipts will fade over time.  I keep copies of receipts for value and date of bigger items that we buy.  Mostly for our renter's insurance.
  • Finally, at the bottom, I have the Vehicles notebook stack:
    • Things I scanned:  All parts and maintenance receipts, routine and emergency, certificates for our aftermarket parts, and pdf how-to's.
  Here it is!  The GRAN FINALE of my electronic filing accomplishments!!  EVERYTHING (almost) that I scanned into Evernote, now resides in the trash!  Once you have multiple copies of these things, there really is no need to keep the paper copy around.  If I need any of these papers, all it takes is a few seconds to print them out.  Okay - if you are terribly attached to your papers, but want to throw things away comfortably, give yourself a rule.  KEEP THE ITEM IF IT MEETS THESE REQUIREMENTS:  It is watermarked/sealed officially and your are fairly sure that a copy just wouldn't do for anyone who might request it.  If you are honest about your papers.....you shouldn't be keeping much.
  That's it for now.  Enjoy, have fun going paperless - it's the way of the future and your family will be grateful when it comes to for moving. 

**Feel free to post questions and I'll do my best to answer them.  But I warn you, I have no qualifications whatsoever - I talked to a lot of professionals and used a lot of googled information to get to this point.  I hope it's right, because I jumped in over-my-head.  :)


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Paperless Filing System

  
I am diving headfirst into a paperless filing system!  It’s on my list (I LOVE LISTS!) of goals to complete in time to move… in 1.5 months.  But, I’ve already got myself started and am feeling very motivated.


**CAVEAT:   Do not attempt this process unless you are willing (and capable) of actually physically throwing stuff away.  C’mon….you can do it.  I know it’s scary – but if you use your shredder when in doubt and push forward despite your misgivings, you’re gonna feel fabulous at the end of one folder.  Guaranteed.


 Here’s some quick details:  I’ve been very good at maintaining our filing system over our almost-8 years of marriage.  We have two filing drawers full with every important piece of paper that has entered our  lives (excepting the few HUGELY IMPORTANT papers that live in our tiny fireproof safe).  I also have been diligent about purging the files once a year, as soon as we receive our W2’s.  All tax related paper from the past year goes into one single folder, taxes are filed, and the folder is placed in the bottom drawer.  All other papers go into the trash or shredder.  This process will GREATLY aid in the speed at which I will reach my goal.
  I am using the following free ‘cloud-based’, online programs:  Dropbox and Evernote.  We also use Microsoft Office on our local computers to create spreadsheets for tracking all kinds of information (YAY FOR ELECTRONIC LISTS!).  Most importantly – these are all free.  The only thing I have invested is time.
Let’s dive into my Evernote program and I’ll show you how I did it.  (I have already set up my program and a few folders.  If you need help doing this, please google for information, or ask a tech savvy person who can help you).
 This is a screen capture of my Evernote all set up so far:


My first NOTEBOOK was Paperless File System - which I modified to be a 'Stack' of notebooks (To learn anything I've mentioned, just Google it).  Then, the first notebook in this stack was 'Safe Contents *PRIVATE*' (which, when setting up, I chose 'local' folder -it does not sync with other devices or store to the cloud - still debating on how I want to handle this stuff).
Today, I am going to create another notebook (NOT A NEW NOTE - Notes go INTO NOTEBOOKS) within my file system stack.  I'll show you with a series of screenshots:




This, I believe at this time, is the most important step for me - Every word in the title you give your notes or notebooks will be cataloged for later searching - which will be a big time saver when you've got over a hundred notes.




Once that's done, click TOOLS, IMPORT FOLDERS, ADD.  (You can see I have previously set up in my EVERNOTE OPTIONS to have my main Evernote folder in my Public Folder.)  Click your main folder (mine is EVERNOTE), click MAKE NEW FOLDER, name same as your Notebook name. OK




Now I start scanning.  I wont bother to show you this process - as no two printers or scanning software are exactly alike.  2 only important factors when scanning:  Scan into your computer as "PDF Document", and make sure you save it into that folder up there that you just created (or whichever folder you are working on at the time). (As far as Evernote is concerned, all documents will go into the currently set 'default notebook' - which you can change as needed).  If you have a few extra minutes, I highly recommend naming it appropriately at the time you scan it.
  Every time you scan a document correctly into that folder you set up to automatically import, Evernote will pop up with a notification on your computer's taskbar that a document was synced.

*You see I have a notebook called INBOX?  My scanner is set up to automatically send all scanned items to that folder and Notebook- just in case I'm in a hurry and don't feel like categorizing at the time.  These will automatically sync to my Evernote, which I will use to file into appropriate notebooks later.  **When I initially set up the INBOX Notebook, I checked that box that says 'Make default notebook'.

There is so much more to Evernote, and paperless filing - and you can really get into it if you have the time and money.  There is Premium Evernote, which will give you lots more space and better encryption.  There are also a number of scanners on the market now that actually have a button on them that scans DIRECTLY to Evernote, without you opening a single program or window on your computer.  They are pricey - so I make due with what I have.


Some suggestions to reduce clutter in your life, purse and bookshelves:
  • Utilize Excel Spreadsheets, Microsoft Money, Mint.com, or Quicken as your check register.
  • For ongoing lists that you may need to update, reorder or keep indefinitely – use Excel spreadsheets or some type of word processer to create the list.
  • Don’t print favorite emails – just place them into a ‘Saved Stuff’ folder on your email account, and it will be saved for later – also accessible from anywhere.
  • File taxes online.
  • Stop buying paper books – invest in Electronic Books.  Kindle is the most popular right now – and you don’t have to buy a reading device unless you want to.  The Kindle E-Reader is free to download to any computer, smart phone or tablet.  And – it’s another ‘cloud-based’ system.  Access any book from any device from any location.  Could it be any better?
  • Store favorite recipes, ideas, pictures and documents online.  I use Allrecipes.com, Pinterest.com, Dropbox.com and Google (documents, gmail, etc), and am in the process of choosing a photo site.  All are free to join, and can be accessed from any internet connection, on most devices.








Hope Looms..




   I’ve felt misplaced and unsettled for years now- and I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint the exact event that it started.  During one of our (many) moves 5 years ago, we had a choice to make in regards to our living conditions.  One was humble, and less than ideal, yet very fair in price.  The other, being much far grander, in a nice community, was steep in price.  My pride took over in that decision and, upon my insistence, we moved where I thought I’d be happier.  Bad choice –PRIDE.
  Here we are in the future; one financial crisis after another, 6 moves, and many hard choices later.  We live in the city, in a small apartment –where the work brought us.  But hope looms on the horizon.
  We will be moving (again) in less than two months, out to the country again, out to a real home (almost of our own).  So many blessings to be had with this move:  a new baby, a place to put her, my own washer and dryer that isn’t a mile away, a garage to work in, a yard to play and plant in, a bigger kitchen where I don’t smell all the neighbor’s food, a reunion with our big dog, and 4 entire walls to claim as my own.  The best blessing of all, is that all moving costs will be paid with cold, hard cash.  No credit or loans.  Praise the Lord.
  We don’t have work in the area where we are moving, but we are hopeful in the Lord’s plan for our life – and we know HE can open doors that no man can shut.  HE is asking us to be faithful and move forward without knowing what’s ahead.  If we can prove ourselves to be strong and courageous in this endeavor (yes, this takes much courage – when everything in our sensible mind screams at us not to do this), HE will be faithful in return.  Our ‘storehouses will overflow’ with blessings – so many more than I have listed above.  Beyond what I could dream or imagine.  Because HE is always faithful.
  Another ‘First Day’ is headed my way.  A new start.  And yes, I have a list of all the things I will do for my new start.  I hope to maintain my blog with success stories of all my endeavors!  I pray that God’s grace over our lives and the evidence given would, in turn, give you hope for your future and help you to remember – our God is a God of second chances.

Monday, February 27, 2012

All about TWITTER

  Let's face it folks.  Our world is being built on the latest greatest technologies with the world of the INTERNET as the backbone.  It's nearly impossible to go 'back-to-basics', as some would say.  Those 'basics' almost don't even work in the U.S. these days.  You actually may lead a healthier and happier life if you embrace these 'modern advances' with a cautious restraint, a little skepticism, and always a healthy dose of knowledge. 
  When we have a question - any question - we don't need to seek out a dictionary, an encyclopedia or even someone knowledgeable;  We have Google.  When we need to connect to a friend, we don't need to write them a letter in the mail (SNAIL MAIL), or drive over to their house, or even make a phone call.  They are a mere text, email or social network message away.  And the beauty of these options, is that there is no obligation to carry on a mundane conversation, or to answer immediately.  One can take one's time to think about the question, and get back to them when it's convenient.
  I am writing today to tell you a little bit about Twitter.  You can learn about them by visiting their page, and/or - of course - Googling them and reading their history.  I'm going to tell you why I use it, and what value it holds in my life.

  I've had my Twitter account for quite a while, but didn't use it until I got my smart phone almost a year ago.  Since then, I've been using Twitter regularly through my phone and my laptop.  The SINGLE MOST attribute of Twitter that has attracted and held me:  EVERYONE is limited to only 140 characters in each post.  This forces people to stop chattering with useless information - and get creative on how to get their point across in such a small space.  SOOOOOO much different than facebook - guaranteed.  There's even a "Twitter Jail" that someone will be locked up in if they over-post. 
  We'll start off at my Twitter account:  @jncutright (all Twitter profile names are preceded by @).


 This is a screenshot of my profile page from Chrome Browser on my laptop.  The top is a very short bio, my custom picture and stats on my tweets. The left is buttons to show my recent tweets, who I'm following, my favorites, etc.  The right side displays the clicked buttons, currently showing a list of who I'm following.  Pretty basic and simple.  I chose the purple background also.  That's customizable. But you don't have to if you don't want.  If you're at your computer a lot, you could choose to leave this site open on your browser, and it will update itself automatically or you can hit refresh whenever you want.
  There are many different types of 'dashboards' or external programs to access Twitter without using their website.  The most common and popular being HootSuite, BufferApp and TweetDeck.  There are hundreds more (Google 'Twitter programs'), but these should get you started.  Most of these sites offer multiple network access (ie:  check out feeds from Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn all at once), multiple network posting with one click, business-oriented themes and options and even more if you pay for the app.  Some of these open in your browser, and some will become their own window on your desktop for easy viewing at all times.
  I mostly use my phone to access Twitter and other social networks.  Since we are talking about Twitter, I'll try to stick to the subject.  I have an HTC Incredible 1 through Verizon Network.  It is Android based with HTC Sense overlay.  However - I have 'rooted' my phone, thus 'hacking' into it's framework in order to change it and customize it as I see fit.  It's basically just an Android phone right now.  That fact aside, these are some screenshots showing first one of my home pages with two different widgets:
Twitter's official Android App on top.  TweetCaster's App on the bottom.
 This second screenshot is the TweetCaster App open to the list of tweets by the people I follow:  I can scroll up and down, or use the tabs at the top to search for people, see direct messages (like an email in Twitter), and view tweets that I've 'starred' as my favorites (things I want to remember). (I don't pay for apps, so they get stuck with annoying ads at the bottom, but you can close it on some)

Once again, pretty basic and simple.  All you need is a smartphone.
  Now, I can't speak for iPhones, Blackberries, or Windows Phones, because I don't have one - purposely (I can give you my reasons another time if you wish to debate on which phone would be best).

  Let me tell you a little bit about the folks I follow.  I currently follow 27 people - and only 6 of them are people I know personally.  The majority are big names in the world (well....my world anyways).
  My very first Tweep (you gotta use silly names like this for people on twitter...): Chevelle, a rock band that I really enjoy.  For the most part, they only post about once a week and it's something to do with their tour schedule.  In addition to my musical inspirations is Air1Radio and one of their hosts Brant Hansen.  They, in turn, led me to follow Cure International (talk about an amazing ministry to listen in on).
  My biggest list includes my 'spiritual/biblical' teachers:  Kay Warren, Rick Warren, Dr. Jim Reeve (Pastor at our new church), Faith Church (our new church), Steven Furtick, James McDonald and Pastor Rick Dorr.  These fine leaders post verses, anecdotes, sermon quotes, links, prayer requests, praise reports and links throughout the day.  Biggest Tweeter:  Rick Warren - he tweets all day long and into the night.  He DOES NOT use an auto-tweeter either, so he must not get much sleep.  But every single post is direct and worth every minute it takes to read them.  Sample tweet by Rick Warren:  "If people tell me "We worship the same God" I say "Are you sure? My God is Jesus Christ & I believe God is Trinity"".
  I follow Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, outstanding author and blogger) and Andy Stanley (Son of Charles Stanley, gifted preacher at North Point Church) as my Leadership go-to guys.  They post links to great podcasts, articles and blogs.
  My financial counseling via Twitter is one and only:  Dave Ramsey and his radio show The Dave Ramsey Show.  He says awesome stuff all day long - and isn't afraid to reply to the haters.
  Finally, a smattering of my interests includes (sorry no links) Xbox, GuildWars2, UFConXboxLive, and FitPregnancy.  They offer news and info regarding their particular subjects and links to helpful articles.  I even won free tickets for a UFC event through their Twitter page.
  The best part is - none of these people I follow tweet about 'what they had for lunch' or 'when they're headed to bed', like we see so often on facebook.  Not that it's a problem, but I feel that Twitter is my little world of 'strictly-helpful-posts' that are no more than a sentence long.  Just right for a quick glance.  Also - just right for retweeting when I find something I feel the rest of either my followers or other networks should read.  If you follow me on facebook, you'll see I often post things that appear with the RT @ 'so-and-so', with 'by Tweetcaster' at the bottom.
   I highly recommend you give it a shot before passing it off as too technological for you, or that you think you'll be addicted like you are to facebook.  You'll never develop healthy self-control unless you're presented with situations that require it.  (I should tweet that)
  There are a million other articles on how to use Twitter efficiently - which you probably don't need unless you're using it for a big-time ministry or a business.  Feel free to follow me, I won't spam you with useless over-posting.  (I don't want to go to jail...).  
  As a side note -be aware of scammers, spammers and general weirdos on Twitter -just like everywhere else in the world.  I used to select the option to 'approve' those who want to follow me - and I got emails constantly to approve people I didn't know and that had VERY SKETCHY profiles.  I rejected them all day long - then I figured, what's it gonna hurt?  Once someone is following you, it's not like you will ever see posts by them.  They only see your posts - and all I ever post is verses and quotes from my fav pastors.  That seems like a good deal.  The only reason these kinds of people 'follow' you initially:  they think you'll do the customary twitter-good-etiquette of 're-following'.  They are 'friend-gatherers'.   You'll meet these people on all social networking.  I just refuse to 're-follow'.  Plain and simple. I never even know they are there.
  Let me know if you have any questions - I'll help as much as I can.