Sunday, April 17, 2016

Stroke Survival Sunday:What Do You About Inaccessibility?

(Shockingly, this blog is going on without picture for the next couple of weeks due to a computer crash and having to borrow one to write this blog)

Accessibility is a big issue with me. What do you do when faced with an accessibility issue? Most times I make do. Sometimes, I complain to management. But more often than not, I'll just refuse to do business with that company and go to a competitor.

For the first one, you know me, I'll trudge on and get what I need. I may not pick up everything in one trip...just the essentials. Here comes the problem with this since my move. Overachiever me, will cause an ugly blister on my braced foot. You know the bane of my AFO and the precursor to yet another decubitous ulcer on the bottom and side of my foot. This has happened quite often since my move to my mountain side homestead especially with big stores like Lowes and Walmart. Yes, this tiny blink-and-you've-missed-it township has those too. Yes, you say, but they have to daredevil wheelie carts for handicapped and morbidly overweight  people. I'll agree with you there, but with any big box store it's finding one unoccupied that's the problem...even here.

In the larger stores, I'll complain to management. I'll hear the usual apology for the lack of carts, but the issue still stands. I can either sit and wait until one  comes available or make due. Even handicapable people have things to do besides waiting on a cart. I usually have a huge list of ten to twenty things on the homestead to-do list every day. Most days, the list has an alternate "rainy day" to-do things on it too. There is wool to spin, rabbits to groom, seeds to start in the greenhouse, and a menagerie of animals to care for. You get the idea. Instead, I'm sitting on a bench waiting for a wheelie thingy. Meanwhile, baggers are scurrying around trying to find me a cart. I'll only wait for  so long before I'll grab a few essentials or walk out of the store.

In the smaller stores, they just don't have carts. So I'm squeezing my way through boxed lined smaller aisles. When you have an arm that really doesn't move, it catches on everything and pulls items off the shelves. I feel obligated to stop and replace them back onto their proper places. Unless they roll under the shelving unit. All courtesy is gone out the window when that happens. Who loses when this happens? We both do. I can't get all I needed to buy and they don't get my money.

When I walk out of a store that's a very bad thing. It's my absolute last thing I do because in a small town like this, there are no competitors. When a customer would rather shop in a neighboring county because of noncompliance or limited compliance, this business is in trouble. While I haven't had issues yet with this, I know it's only a matter of time. The business licensing agency is my first stop. Then my voice and reach go farther.

 I'll blog and use social media. The old marketing adage about one person telling ten people and each of those telling ten more people each no longer applies. The number of people is greatly increased by the internet. For example, on any given Sunday, this blog will average over 300 hits. That's an  impact point because we all share what we read. Just use the same equation as the old adage. Three hundred readers retelling the story to three hundred of those they share with each. Carry that equation farther two times and that's a MAJOR hit on  a business. What business could afford that much bad press for a bad experience or experiences?

Gone are the days when a business can ignore the clout/impacts of a dissatisfied customer. It is now a time of caveat venditor...let the seller beware.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Changes and Challenges

Well, I officially started being a homesteader this month. Not really,  just an semi urban homesteader because we only have a couple of acres versus dozens. The shift wasn't without drama. I'll spare you most of it. Don't we all have enough of that in our lives? But doing it all post stroke was a major headache!

We, Mel and I, have come up with a name for our little homestead. It's called the Cockeyed Homestead. Mainly because that was Mel's favorite term for what she did...cockeyed. In part, because I'm always thinking outside the box. It's been called original thinking by the kind, and down right insane by the not so kind. In other words...cockeyed. So it fits.
adjective informal

 1. crooked or askew; not level.
    "cockeyed camera angles"
    synonyms: crooked, awry, askew, lopsided, tilted, off-center, skewed, skew,  misaligned
    "that picture is cockeyed"
  2. absurd; impractical.
        "do you expect us to believe a cockeyed story like that?"
3.  drunk.
        "I got cockeyed"
#1 Pretty much describes us.
#2 Possibly, we are both over half a century old, but we are still gonna do it.
#3 Nah, alcohol rarely passes these lips anymore. But there are plans to make honey mead and fruit based wine in our future. Why? Because we can and will, and there are medicinal uses for the stuff. Always in moderation. Never truly drunk as the meaning implies.

What we started with
Right now, we are getting organized. That's a huge job. Mel's thinking for the last two years was scatter brained, to put it kindly. She wanted it, she got it. It didn't matter whether so was equipped for it yet. It's not really her fault. She has ADD, which I've had plenty of practice with by way of my youngest daughter. She got chickens (6), Angora rabbits (6), a goat kid, started a garden, AND tried to renovate her trailer all within the first year of starting the homestead without any background or experience to back it up. Not to mention YouTube, a website with a blog, selling homestead products, and working away from the homestead. (Sound familiar my blog followers? Is she a Jo 2 or what?) She knew what she wanted and did it with very little forethought. And while she tried, everything fell apart.  She did everything cockeyed and quickly became overwhelmed. As a result, disillusionment and depression set in. While endearing to her following, as is her infectious giggle, it had no possible way to succeed but stranger things have been known to happen.

I had been counseling her for all that time. She needed to S L O W down. One job at a time. Gain experience and a comfort level before adding something new. Enter Jo permanently two years later. So you can imagine the mess. My contribution to this partnership is experience. Thirty years of organic gardening, three years of rabbit care, umpteen dozen years of building, renovating and remodeling, and off the grid skills. Although disabled, I have the same drive and dream as she does. I bring some planning and organizational skills into the mix. I also bring some really helpful tools like a weed whacker and lawn mower. :) Learn and plan before you do it as much as possible. There will always be surprised, but minimize their impact with knowledge and resources to be better able to deal with it. That's my way. So I'll be balancing her out and keeping her on the road to fulfilling our mutual vision.

The first order of business was to cut down the overgrowth to see what we have. That's where we are now after a full week. I have a clear vision of what we want to achieve and how to get there. Mel's property is laid out on the side of a mountain. So slopes and drops are a difficult problem for me. It is also heavily wooded with thick underbrush.The next or at the same time is to layout the gardens. Expanding or better planning on what has been established. We gotta eat. For the first year together, the focus is on finding what will grow well enough to offset half of our grocery bill. We'll improve on it yearly.  I need relatively flat areas for access. I do have a semi-paralyzed leg and walk with a cane most times. So this is an imperative if I've got to access and tend to these areas. So that's job one.

On the behind the scenes action, plans and goals are being set on paper to be put into the works. The nonvisual aspects, as for right now, is also being done.The website and YouTube channel are being revamped. I'm looking at marketing angles for wool, yarn, crochet and knitted goods, and other products produced by us. The homestead has got to generate income to be self-sufficient. Yes this a mid term goal. Little details on things like what we are calling ourselves. what and when we'll do items, how we divide labor and goals verses cost, etc.There are tons of details to be figured out. What I'm basically doing is setting up the homestead as a business. I  spent too many years in college and real business world doing this to succeed. This I know how to do even with brain damage.

Dream vision for bunny outside area
So it's busy, busy, busy. Mel provides the able, although getting older body, and I provide the working orders and help out where I can. The next big purchase is for The Warren. We decided to purchase an out-building for the rabbits. Yes, as income/people food making members of our household, they deserve a house and a proper play area outside. Just because they are working stiffs doesn't mean they will live a dole drum life. Besides, this will also be our temporary living quarters too while our new homestead house is being constructed.

I've been working on a logo. You have got to have an identifier to be branded, right? What do you think?
It's just one of the ideas I'm working on. Hopefully by next month the homestead portion will be up on it's new site if not sooner. God's still working on patience with me.

Until next time remember...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Give Yourself Permission

I had a revelation, of sorts, while I was in the process of moving from my old home to my new one that I wanted to share with y'all.

Packing up to move is nobody's idea of fun. In fact, it's one of the top ten stress causing items on the list of major stress factors that heavily impact your well being. It's near the top like death of a spouse or loved one. Lord knows, I was already up to my eyeballs with that stress factor.

Moving after a stroke is no picnic.What to take. What to sell. What to donate. What to trash. All these decisions were up to little, old me. ALONE. Before, it was a couples or family thing. To top it off, I was seriously down sizing. I am going from an over 2,000 sq ft house to one less than 200. One-tenth and I had stuff galore to fill my 2,000+ sq ft when you count the attic, and out buildings. For weeks before the move, I never felt so ill prepared for a move in my entire life!
My favorite stress pic

 I was hit full force with what I could do and what I could not do. There was a whole lot I just physically could not do. It wasn't that I wasn't trying. The spirit was willing, but my body couldn't. That's a bitter pill for my never-say-die attitude. To fill one box took about forty trips from where whatever it was was to the box and back again. The fact that my left side was weaker, yes even after almost four years, than my right before my stroke was a major tell. I could only carry a few things at a time to be placed in the box. That's if I didn't want to leave a trail of items between one place and another. That meant small loads, one or two items at best.

Compound this issue with my fatigue and my Botox wearing off, it took a good amount of effort to fill one box. Then, there was the question of what to do with the box when full. I found that if the box wasn't to heavy or too big, I could pick it up in a football carry and take it to the staging area. I had rooms set aside for "take," "donate," "storage," and trash." I had to rest between boxes and still it was a maddening cycle. If the boxes were to heavy or big, they had to stay where they were. Talk about an obstacle course!

I was fit to pull my hair out several times over the month. Yes, it took a month at the snail's pace I was doing it at. I wasn't having fun. You know me, I always try to make everything enjoyable to keep going. I was totally opposite of how I am usually. I was irritated, short tempered, and didn't see the redeeming quality in anything. In fact, I seriously considered lighting a torch and setting the whole house aflame several times. I couldn't stand to be around myself and there's no way escaping yourself. I could see myself. Hating myself. But unable to stop myself from doing it. That's horrible for me.

One morning it dawned on me. Quite literally because the spastic muscles in my arm don't let me sleep long. The pain isn't as great with the dry needling, but it will still wake me up to reposition my arm.  What am I doing and why am I hurting myself? I needed to accept what is and give myself permission to fail and not do. So everything is not packed right, or folded right. It wasn't as if I was moving across country or another country for that matter. If it got broken, I'd glue it back together or get a new one. If it got wrinkled, I'd straighten it after I got there. If I couldn't lift or carry something, I'd put a colored code sticky note on it for others to deal with. I did hire some movers after all. For the stuff that was going to storage, there were some beefy, college students and family. I didn't NEED TO DO IT ALL.

That's the major malfunction with a person like me. It's a control, stubbornness, and pride thing. The can-do attitude just doesn't know when to quit. I've never accepted failure as an option. I had to give myself permission to fail and not do. We, as human beings, are our own worse critics. It's alright to not do some things that are physically impossible (within limits). This revelation goes against my "nothing is impossible" sign off. Some things are. Like trying to lift a 24" square box, weighing thirty pounds, balancing it, carrying it from one room to the next, and setting it down without dropping it with one working arm. It's a whole lot ungainly than a fifty-pound bag of rabbit pellets or a bale of hay. Yes, I can do that and do it quite regularly. The contents won't break if I drop it. It's also easier to hold onto.

After this revelation, I started feeling better about myself. It's crazy that I have to gibe myself permission, but it worked. I was calmer, more pleasant to be around, and at peace once again. I found my equilibrium once again. Moving away and setting up a new household is stressful by nature. The move wasn't without problems, but I could take it in stride once I'd given myself permission to fail. Lesson learned.

On a sad note, I have to say good-bye to the Stroke Survivor Tattler. After almost three years of a republishing agreement, they are closing their website. They were based out of Canada and was my first international republishing contact I had. It had grown by leaps and bounds since I found them. From the dozen or so bloggers and three expert articles on various aspects of stroke/brain injury survivors to over forty bloggers and ten experts. Hits wise it jumped over 2K a month. John Anderson and the rest of them will be missed. I'm proud to be part of such endeavor and they will forever be friends who were there when I needed them most.