I’m not a good person because I “rescued” a dog.

I have the weirdest pet peeves. Here’s one of them — people telling me I’m “such a good person” because I rescued a dog. Cool the accolades, people. Rescuing a dog doesn’t make me a good person nor does finding the dog’s family so I can get them back their dog. I didn’t do it for the accolades. I did it because this is simply what you do. We do this as good neighbors, as our brother’s keeper, as good samaritans, animal lovers and amazing pet parents who wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t have a dog of my own, though I’d love one. I do have a ten-year-old very fat male cat named Alcatraz who is my baby.

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He’s a house cat. He doesn’t get out. But he used to in his wilder years. (We’ve been together for ten years). Once, he didn’t come back for an entire night, which wasn’t like him. I feared the worst. Had he been hit by car? Does my baby need me? Is he lying injured somewhere? He came in through the doggy door the next morning meowing loudly, possibly telling of his adventures — or more likely — begging for food. But I’ll never forget the long night of missing Alcatraz and worrying over his safety. We figured he got locked in the neighbor’s garage. He’s a cat. It’s what cats do. Not a big deal.

But a lost dog is a huge deal! This dog was very sweet and loving. She was overly-friendly to everyone. A dog like that who can be approached by anyone is at risk for becoming a bait dog or pet napped by someone unlike me who won’t try to find her owner.

I knew this dog was too awesome to not have people looking for her. I knew I would find her owner quite easily! I took her to my vet because I knew — I mean, I just knew — she’d have a chip. But they waved the chip-finding wand over her and discovered no chip. I trawled every lost pet site online and called shelters. I snapped photos on my phone and posted them on the Wichita Area Lost and Found Pets Facebook page. Her family found her that night and she went home at 7:30 am.

This made me very happy because she clearly missed her kids! Seeing the dog run to her family from my car made it all worth it! Seeing the joy on her kids’ faces was priceless for me. But it didn’t make me a good person.

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People should just be doing this. 

This should just be what we do, not for accolades, not to feel better about ourselves, but just because it’s what you DO. Anything could have happened to that dog but instead she got to go back to her family. I’d want someone to do it for me if I lost Alcatraz again. It’s not what you do because you’re a good person; it’s just what people do because it’s the right thing.

If you get anything out of reading this blog, I hope it’s simply the desire to do the right thing for the sake of merely doing the right thing. We don’t always need a reward or an ego boost. If you got that out of this, please share. If not that, then I hope you learned one other very important thing:

Get your pets microchipped

Follow me on Twitter @heatherlarson or facebook.com/ListenToHeather

Stuff I’ve been up to lately…

IMG_0759I’ve joined Grace Revolution Church, became a born-again Christian and started volunteering for the mobile medical unit. The unit will be at church at Oliver and Lincoln 5:30-6:30 on the second and fourth Monday of the month. If you have ZERO HEALTHCARE, we are there for you!

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That’s me getting baptized by Pastor Tim Hurst on Easter Sunday! Faith got me through the tough, sudden loss of a friend. I know I will see her again in Heaven someday and she’d be proud of my commitment to Jesus today. I miss her and still talk to God about her — she was taken from me way too soon. We had lots more to do. Unfortunately God had other ideas about that.

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I’ve been working on target shooting. This is an old target. I’ve managed to get my friends to go along with me and take it up too! The friends who shoot together stay together! Sometimes this is the best way to blow off stress some days. Plus, I need something competitive. All I have to compete against is my last target. I love it!

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I am still doing Reiki at White Dove and back to my original schedule of Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Until my boss changes my schedule again…LOL. This isn’t the best photo of my therapy room, but just a small corner of it. If you’ve been to White Dove lately, you may have noticed we turned my old “room” into the musical instrument room full of singing bowls, Native American drums, flutes, and crystal bowls. My new room is a real room! It’s way in the back. It’s pretty quiet now but if you listen closely, you can hear Zandra’s birds singing in her shop next door at Crystal Dock!

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This is how the writing “lab” is looking these days. I love my sacred writing space. I am working on a bunch of different ideas right now…there’s a lot more to come. I’m kicking around different Reiki-oriented ebook ideas. I’ve got three ideas kicking for novels. Still writing poems. My only freelance client right now is Eddy’s here in Wichita, which I’m very excited about because this company has a lot going on. More to come about that in a few months. Or less. Ahhh…the life of a writer. So much to juggle. So little free time. I am working on committing to a firm writing schedule and making my writing a bigger priority so more blogs get written. I’m also back to my normal “morning pages” practice I adopted last year from taking The Artist’s Way course last year at Unity Church.

Bottom line: I’ve been busy, life is good, and I’m learning lots of cool stuff along the way! (And teaching too).

Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @heatherlarson!

Change, change, CHANGE

I don’t think I’ve written one blog in the past 14 months that was not about change. This is how it feels anyway!

Changed my address, vehicle, wardrobe, vocation, positions within my new vocation, added a new freelance job or two, let those go, and I feel at this point like it’s been one big experiment — the ultimate learning experience. Dated new people, gave up dating, decided to be single… blah blah blah.

One thing remains. It’s me. I am the ever changing thing here. I am ever-evolving, always trying, always open and ready to learn. With change being the only constant that has steamrolled my life since November 2014 and me still feeling like I have yet to come in for a landing, I have learned that there is one other constant. Me. I’m still here. I’ve changed my lifestyle, changed forms in some ways, but I’m still here growing older and wiser. No matter what changes, I’m still here surviving it.

I don’t know what’s next but I wouldn’t change this path for the world.

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Once I wore real clothes to work, now…I wear scrubs.

Some changes in life — as always! What 2015 has taught me.

Let’s see…

The October marathon is not possible due to a mild health concern I am currently healing. More on this later.

I am beginning to teach on Learn It Live! Details on my first class, which is FREE, are here.

Life is good working at a treatment center. I absolutely love our job we do and am so happy to be working with a great team who has my back. It’s a welcome change from past situations.

I am not working for Inside.com right now, such is life when you work for a startup. This has been another great joy in life — to work for a great team and really feel like part of a team. All my jobs this year have been a healing blessing.

Now I’m getting my feet wet doing voice work and building online courses. You never could have told me a year ago life could be this rewarding and interesting. I thought when I got kicked off the air what many radio personalities think, “What am I going to do now?”

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that, after 17 years of radio, I actually DO have skills, experience, and abilities I didn’t know I had. All my radio friends tell me the same thing, “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my job.” Let me tell you what you will do. You will find a way to make a living. End of story.

My year has been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve been trying out a new field and earning certifications. I’ve found out what it’s like to work on truly seamless teams who support one another for a common goal. That is rare to find in the broadcasting industry. I will not put myself in any unfavorable position again just to have a job. That is something wonderful I have learned about myself and my recovery. I’ve also learned that anyone who didn’t give me room to be myself and who couldn’t honor the positive changes in my life has fallen away. None of those who treated me as less than are still around.

Ever want to get rid of the negative influences in your life? Stand up for yourself. Demand you be treated with respect. That’s all I had to do in order to live a better life today. I wouldn’t trade my experiences in 2015 for the world.

Onward and upward.

Welcome to the dog days of summer

Indoor activity #1: Dreaming of an October half marathon

I decided to run a half marathon — right before Mother Nature turned up the fireplace. It’s been a hellish week away from the running. I’ll be honest, I’ve been sleeping, relaxing, watching movies. I love the indoors, my couch, and Netflix right now. Current flick I enjoyed? “In A World…” It’s a fun comedy about the voice over industry. I appreciated it because I am a beginner in the VO industry now. It was good medicine to watch!

Total lifetime miles logged on Nike run? 449.5. Damn proud.

Total lifetime miles logged on Nike run? 449.5. Damn proud.

Indoor activity #2: Writing blogs and other things
In other stratospheric goals I’d like to reach aside from the half marathon, there are new writing goals. I’ll keep it short as this isn’t my writing blog. (This is my ‘everything’ blog). In an effort to step up the blogging, I signed up for Linquia. Hence the badge. This isn’t the only thing I’m up to and I’ll write more about these efforts at my Writer Heather blog. I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember. Even when I was little and didn’t have my own notebook and pens yet as a child, I’d snag a pen and write in one of my books. I was a lucky kid; I always had books. It was the one thing my mother did well for me!

So this is how I’m spending my hot summer days. Those Wyler’s Italian Ices sure help. 😉

Good news! The extremely overly healthy diet is now over!

So after that last post about “extreme dietary needs,” I think I finally cracked…

A girl can only eat so much chicken and salad.

The puritanical diet could only last for so long.

This is good news!

I’ve been eating for auto-immune illness and “leaky gut” since September 1, 2014. I didn’t know when I’d get to eat off the diet. I didn’t know when I’d be well enough to do so. But that day finally came!

On June 2, 2015, I ate a burger! A 1/3 pound bacon cheeseburger from Braum’s — no bun of course. Let’s not go crazy; I’m sure my wheat-eating days are over for good. I don’t eat mayo or tomatoes, but I do eat the burger, bacon, cheese, and pickles. I didn’t die. I was fine. I’ve also had a burger or two a day since! What’s even more crazy, I’ve been able to drink Cokes too.

I still can’t eat eggs, wheat, tomatoes, and a bunch of other things that really set me off. I won’t call myself “cured.” But I’m “maintained.” I’ll call myself that. It’s likely I won’t be able to eat those foods ever again. I’m fine with that. I’ve accepted it.

I’m just so damn excited I can eat foods I like and enjoy again! Thanks to my functional medicine physician for that.

The best and happiest $7 ever spent.

The best and happiest $7 ever spent.

Surviving a retreat with my EXTREME dietary needs!

This only worked because the destination, the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas, allowed me to bring in my own food. We were going for a Reiki retreat. I called ahead to talk to someone. It’s thankfully easy for people now to choose an option like “vegan” or “gluten-free.” But for me, there’s no simple box to check for “there are 30 foods I can’t eat.” So I had to touch base with a human being to communicate my needs. There are 30 foods I’m not eating right now. No exaggeration, no typo.

When I made contact with the woman who would play middleman between the chef and I, she asked me to email her the list. She had tried to tell me they were accommodating because they have a salad bar. I was firm, “I am not the kind of person you can just tell, ‘go to the salad bar.'” The cross contamination alone has gotten me sick before, so I stopped going near salad bars. I sent her my list of 30 foods I can’t eat. I waited too long for the call back so I called her. After all, I have to plan an extra grocery trip into my schedule just to feed myself over the weekend. Here’s my hot tip: don’t wait. Be firm and assertive but polite. Don’t dump any food anxiety on people who only understand “special diets” as “vegan” or “gluten-free.” Most of the normals don’t understand that eating the wrong thing can sideline me for days. 

Here’s my other hot tip: don’t waste time trying to explain why you can’t eat 30 foods (or whatever it is). First, it’s none of their business. Second, giving someone too much information is distracting, not to mention a waste of time. You want them to only have the information they need in order to function to help you so you don’t get sick. Anything else and this gets diluted and you may be in danger. I don’t even bother with phrases like “leaky gut” or “auto-immune disease.” Just tell people what you can’t eat and ask what they can do about it. If it’s only a few things, they can probably help you. If you’re like me and don’t eat a whopping list of 30 common food items, ask if you can bring in your own food.

In this particular case, I wouldn’t have been able to stay at the retreat if they wouldn’t let me bring my own food. This was close enough to home I could have packed lunch for the day but gone home at night. But it’s hardly a “get away from it all” retreat if I still go home at night.

I packed two days’ worth of food. I was mindful of the social aspect of it. I figured I’d need “lunch” and “dinner” type foods to fit in as well as dessert. If the rest of the group is eating lunch, I want to fit in by eating lunch foods (even if my normal “dinner” is a light “lunch” or “breakfast.”) I gave up on the notion of dessert since I figured they’d be fed cakes or something made of grain and there’s nothing that can come close to that for me. I brought fruit instead. My strategy was to bring more than enough — which was a great idea because I forgot my frozen breakfast sausages in the freezer at home!

What I bought at Whole Foods: 

*Spring mix salad greens

*Carrots (pre-sliced)

*Peppers (pre-sliced)

*Celery (pre-sliced)

*Salad dressing (Hilary’s Apple Fennel)

*Two rosemary chicken breasts (pre-made)

*Two cans of tuna

*Two avocados

*Apricots, peaches and apples

*breakfast sausages (sadly forgotten at home)

What I actually made: 

*Day 1: Lunch: salad with half a chicken breast (by now I realized I’d forgotten the sausages, so I saved half for breakfast the next day knowing I need protein when I wake up for good blood sugar all day). I also ate 2 apricots and a peach. My fellow Reiki retreaters were jealous of the fruit.

*Day 1, Dinner: I didn’t do the fruit. Instead, I made another salad with an enormous amount of tuna/avocado. Instead of using lemon juice and salt on the tuna/avocado combo as I normally would, I mixed the two with the Hilary’s dressing.

*Day 2, Breakfast: I slept in and went to breakfast late so as to avoid any social awkwardness over eating half a chicken breast for breakfast. I sat with two retreat buddies and no one commented, thank God! I’d eaten snacks in my room, so it was enough.

*Oh yeah — the snacks I packed: I kept some snacks in my room for myself so I wouldn’t have to go all the way to the kitchen if I got hungry. I’m used to spacing out small meals all day on my schedule, not this “three big meals a day” business the retreat would be on. I kept dried mangos on hand, peanuts, apples, apple chips, raisins, and peanut butter M&Ms. I can tolerate M&Ms if I want chocolate/sugar. It’s not on my diet or encouraged by my doctor, but the lesser of all evils when I want something “traditional” and sweet/chocolatey. Honestly, it is just too expensive to buy Green & Blacks or Lulu’s all the time. Those also require special trips. I looked into making my own raw/vegan chocolates like I prefer, but it’s expensive to get going with those ingredients, though I’m sure it’s cost-effective once you get going.

*Day 2, Lunch: Another salad with the last chicken breast. This means I still had salad fixings, dressing, an avocado, and a can of tuna left over. I also had snacks left over.

Why salads were awesome: 

I had to prepare my own food. If you can’t go with salads like I did, I think the best way to go would be to pre-make all the meals so they can be zapped in the microwave (call ahead to make sure there’s a microwave and fridge, etc).  It didn’t take me too long to prep a salad since it was all pre-washed and sliced. I had plenty of time still to bond over meals with my fellow diners. They were all health conscious too — I mean, we were on a Reiki retreat. So thankfully there wasn’t the usual b.s. I’d get from people in other social situations who look at me in mock horror like, “what do you eat?”

How to answer that? Tell ’em it’s none of their business and you’d like to just enjoy your meal without talking about your special dietary needs. Seriously. Create that boundary. Be polite. Try, “Thank you for your concern, but I have this handled and am eating under the direction of my doctor.” Then change the subject. I have had to endure special diets like this since September. Before that, I had a helluva time in 2009… This isn’t my first rodeo. I find telling people I eat under my doctor’s direction stops all the free advice and suggestions and “have you trieds” before they start.

Ideas for Traveling Outside the Region

If I’d had to fly to a retreat farther away, I would have found a grocery store (preferably a Whole Foods if available) to purchase my food on the way to the hotel/hostel/etc. I’d prefer a hostel situation over a hotel just due to my food issue alone. You can purchase your own food and store it in the hostel refrigerator. Hotel kitchens are professional just like restaurants, so you run into pre-prepared foods and pre-marinated meats. Seasonings are a nightmare (I can’t have peppers, any peppers).

Hostels are awesome for people like me! Just be wary of shared utensils (never use a wooden spoon if you’re Celiac). As long as I can store and prepare my own food as you can at a hostel, I’m in good shape. Plus, traveling like this can cost less and gives you a chance to shop local grocery stores as a local would. It’s been a couple months since I’ve had restaurant food, dairy, or caffeine.  I am not messing up that progress now.

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Hope you enjoyed this blog post about how I survived a retreat while still eating right, not getting sick, and continuing to heal my leaky gut. BTW, I hate that phrase “leaky gut.” It sounds like I have a leak, rather than saying, “I have a porous intestinal wall.” It doesn’t even have a medical billing code. So if you’re always digestively sick, can’t figure out what you’re allergic to, and simply miserable, I recommend finding a functional medicine doctor. Don’t waste time with run of the mill physicians your insurance covers or naturopaths. Neither of those helped me. Functional medicine, supplements and eating right helped me.

This blog and its writer want you to know that you need to seek the help of a professional physician for your medical needs. This blog post and its writer, Heather Larson, are not here to treat, diagnose, or heal your disease. Thoughts and opinions belong to Heather Larson. This is a not a replacement for medical care or advice. The author of this blog is merely sharing her personal experience, thoughts, and opinions. She is not medically trained nor a licensed physician.