Why Blog?

Why do I blog? – An Introduction

Why do I blog? There are many reasons why I enjoy blogging. Most of these reasons are:

  • It’s a great, creative outlet.
  • I can practice various forms of writing. From poetry to recipes and more.
  • Having my voice heard.
  • Giving my viewpoint on various topics I find interesting and inspiring.
  • Sharing useful information that could help others or bring a smile to their faces.

It lets me share information about great places I have been, recommend good shows to binge watch across Amazon/Hulu/Netflix/Etc, sharing tips on reducing stress or other healthful information, and to share information to help others understand what those who face difficult issues in their lives have to deal with.

A Creative Outlet

I enjoy being able to be creative. Sometimes it’s writing poetry of things I see or experience while others it could just be sharing information via words or photographs to show the beauty I see around me and bring a smile to other’s faces. I do love to see people happy and helping them either via my writing or photographs, makes it completely worthwhile.

Forms of Writing

I love to practice writing. I used to write a lot of poetry since at least high school. It was a great outlet. When I went to college, I learned how to write for various forms of media. For example, newspaper or magazine articles, social media posts such as Facebook and Twitter, and others. However, poetry is still my favorite way to express myself.

I do enjoy sharing recipes that I have created or found over the internet that I enjoy or even think others would enjoy too. It’s been another creative outlet as of late. It’s pretty funny that my Instagram is filled mostly with pictures of food that I have made or tried to make. Of course, there are some nature photos as well or food items that have been prepared (like with Chopt’s salad or the photo of my family’s drinks when we were at the beach!) on my Instagram too.

Having My Voice Heard

Having one’s voice heard is important. Not just mentally important but it helps give a different perspective on a range of topics. Some of these topics could be about current events to environmental impacts, recipes, surviving difficulties in life, and even lifestyle changes. All of these topics affect our day to day living and having our voices heard can bring about a change in how we deal with these things or even bring about notice to events that are happening in real time.

There are so many of these topics that I feel are really important which need to be brought out into the public’s attention or at least brought more attention so everyone can lead healthier, safe, and good lives.

Different Viewpoints on Interesting and Inspiring Topics

There are tons of topics out in our world that ought to and need to be shared. Some of these topics are fore example “How to tackle poverty in your city or town,” “How to help a loved one with a recent diagnosed illness,”, “How to make and stick to your budget,” and more.

There are so many topics available to cover, its hard to choose just one or to focus on just a few. Many of these topics can litterally change the world if we tell our ideas on how to solve issues we all face and act on them.

In the End…

These topics and ideas give a bit of an insight as to why I enjoy blogging. I hope it can inspire you as well to begin or continue your journey with being creative and showing the world how amazing and passionate you are.

With lots of love,

Raven in the South

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First Snowfall of the Year!

How exciting! This year’s first snowfall was on the evening of January 3, 2018 here in Durham, North Carolina. Of course, being obsessed with nature photography, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to take a bunch of photographs to document this event as well as a short video too! Durham, NC got around 1.5 inches of snow overall. Though unfortunately, most of it will not melt by the weekend as its going to be super cold and with below freezing temperatures as a high.

I did hear that the storm strengthened last night as it went up the coast towards the northeast states. That and the meteorologists (or some weather folks at least) are calling this storm a “bomb cyclone” I believe too.

This photo above here I took while walking my apartments’ parking lot. It was coming down pretty good.

Snow covered bushes closeup

This was a random closeup shot of snow covered bushes nearby. It was so beautiful I couldn’t resist!

Gazebo with snow

This is one of the Gazebos near my apartment complex. With the way the light was and the snow, I was having too much fun running around taking photographs of everything. It was just beautiful out despite the freezing temperatures.

Then of course, below is a short video I took of just watching the snow come down. It was a lot of fun and everything was pretty quiet overall too.

If your being affected by this storm, how much snow do you have so far? Were you able to get prepared before the storm hit? Or have any photographs you want to share to document this event, feel free to leave it in the comments below too!

A How-To Guide On How You Can Help Those Who Live with Rare or Chronic Illnesses

A How-To Guide On How You Can Help Those Who Live with Rare or Chronic Illnesses

 

Living with a rare or chronic illness is difficult to endure and to be quite honest, lonely too. Not many people can fully grasp how that person feels on a daily basis or even understand as it can be quite hard to put things into the correct words. Though, attempting to understand really does help those who have to endure these hardships and really makes one feel not so alone.

Ironically enough, I am one of those living with a rare, chronic illness. I have what is called Adrenal Insufficiency. It’s hard to diagnose and it seems, based on what I’ve read from others online, that quite a few people get diagnosed when they have entered what is called an adrenal crisis in the emergency room. I was one of the lucky ones where my primary care doctor did a bunch of tests (cortisol being one of them) as we were trying to figure out what all my random symptoms were. Most of that was from being allergic to something in my old apartment but we did find out I did not make enough cortisol so I was tested by an Endocrinologist using a few blood tests where it was confirmed I am adrenal insufficient.

What is Adrenal Insufficiency? I will explain this in another blog post as I feel it needs a bigger in-depth discussion to get a good understanding of what it is and isn’t. To make the long story short, I (and others with this condition) basically don’t make enough of the stress hormone cortisol to deal with everyday stresses let alone illnesses.

For those of us who have to endure our chronic illnesses, it can be really difficult. We do have our good and bad days. To help us endure these bad days, we really could use a lot of help.

So based on some lists I’ve read a while ago and my own experiences, I’ve come up with my own list of how healthy people can help those of us who have chronic illnesses. Now, this list is nowhere near perfect but it at least gives a good idea of what you can do to help. Also, asking the person directly is the most beneficial of all. I’m including in this list of items, services that could help, and also a list of what you can help on a personal/social level too.

Please note that services available will mostly depend on where you or the individual lives. Also, I do not make any funds from this list.

Items

  • Slow cooker
  • Spirializer
  • Humidifier
  • External battery charger/pack for phones, tablets, e-readers.
  • Tablet (iPad, Android, etc)
  • Ereader (Kindle, Kobo, etc)
  • Lotion

Social

  • Visiting
  • Play cards or games (video or board games are fun)
  • Video chat using messaging apps like Skype, Hangouts, etc.

Services

Daily Prompt: Leaves On A Stream – Meditation Technique

Daily Prompt: Leaves On A Stream – Meditation Technique


 

cropped-lakeelkhorn.jpg

Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, MD

 

With all the craziness going on in our society today, it is understandable that we are more stressed out than what should be considered normal. Our newsfeeds on social media and on TV are constantly scrolling with natural disasters, politicians trying to take away our rights to our life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness (like access to affordable healthcare), and other individuals just being evil and hurting others. This is, of course, no short list of things that affect our daily lives. However, what sets us apart is how we deal with these stressors.

Some individuals just unplug from their electronics for a few days when it starts to become too much while others go to classes or join organizations that promote relaxation techniques of various kinds. Some do yoga, tai chi, and other forms of meditation while some others, depending on what is going on in that person’s life, may need a bit of extra help by talking with someone.

I strongly advise that if you need to talk to someone, please do. It is very beneficial and everyone needs some help from someone they can trust and/or a professional. If you need to talk to someone, please contact your country’s crisis hotline or suicide prevention number. They have professionals who are able to help and it is, most certainly, not shameful to ask for help when you really need it most.

I was recently introduced to a new meditation technique when I was undergoing cognitive behavior therapy. My therapist had introduced it as “Leaves on a Stream” meditation technique she herself had learned about.

Just think about it…


Imagine being in the woods. Sitting on the ground or up in a tree or even on the bank of a stream. If you look up towards the sky, what do you see? Sunlight trickling between the leaves as a gentle breeze blows through? 

As you start to drift your eyes downwards, you notice a leaf came unattached from the tree above. Floating gently down next to you till it reaches a stream nearby. Water gently trickling around little rocks like mini waterfalls and making little pools before continuing on its way. 

Now imagine, placing your stress and worries on that leaf that is floating down to the water. Then watch as it gently and slowly floats on the stream’s current away. 

Looking back up, another leaf has detached itself from the strong, majestic tree to float down before you. Again, place your stress and worries on that soft leaf and let it float down the stream.


This was how it was more or less explained to me. The beautiful imagery helping to calm my anxiety and ADD mind. Reducing high levels of built-up stress to having muscles relaxed and feeling more centered.

Personally, I have tried other types of meditation though some were not too successful. However, there were some that were successful. Back when I was in college, I took a class at my local community college called Tai Chi Chuan. The slow movements were meditative and calming for me. Along with the relaxing music, I was able to focus and feel more energized. I felt like I was normal. Now, how many individuals can say they felt that way? Probably not many if they are being honest. (Being normal? How fun is that?) Another thing I just remembered was a previous post I saw while scrolling through Facebook titled “Something to remember when stressed.” All of these things are important to our wellbeing. Be it physical or mental, it is something we need to focus and do as we can.

If this sort of imagery is not helpful for you, there are other meditative types of things one can do to help reduce stress. Listening to music you find calming, reading a book, taking a walk out in nature, cooking, and more. The possibilities are endless!

On an ending note, I had subscribed to a poetry subscription website and a poem that reminded me of this technique had beautiful imagery. It reminded me of leaves on a stream and my troubles and worries floating down it gently away.

From Knopf Poetry, a poem by Vera Pavlova:

sit by the river
keep pitching
your troubles in it
watch them
float away
with the current
too light
to drown

—from Album for the Young (and Old) 

via Daily Prompt: Leaf

Frankies Fun Park in Raleigh

If you’ve never been to a “fun park” per se, this place would be a good experience. One could think Frankies in Raleigh is a mix of county fair meets Dave and Busters arcade. Lots of flashing lights inside and a bit noisy but thats to be expected in an arcade. But rest assured, this place isn’t just an arcade with lots of lights. Nope. They have a lot more they offer. Some of the attractions are:

  • Laser tag 
  • Bumper cars
  • A couple racetracks
  • Bumper boats
  • Mini golf
  • And more.

Granted I just enjoyed the arcade part while my friends/coworkers enjoyed going on one of the racetracks and the arcade. Outside, they have multiple rides as mentioned in the list above that seems like a county fair in a way but a lot of fun and a decent open space so it doesn’t feel too crowded. Of course I was there when not too many people were there so was a good time overall as I figure come summer and when schools are out, it must get crowded at least.

Inside the building where the arcade is located, they have card machines that can be used just about anywhere, a food court type of area (which I didn’t venture to but was tempted to see about an iced tea or coffee), of course the laser tag, and also a 3d type of game. They also have skee-ball, an air hockey pac man game, some basketball hoop games, bowling, and more. They do have quite a few prize machines, a fruit ninja game (which sadly froze on me after the third game or so oops.), a walking dead and jurassic park games, and a couple photo booths too.

They do have ample parking though they could use a few more handicapped parking spots. The building is also pretty colorful with reds, blues, and yellow/orange colors. It certainly grabs one’s attention. The only downer (besides being a bit expensive) is that when driving up, you have to pass it and make a u-turn at the next opportunity to get on the correct side if your coming from Route 40 east/Rt 147 onto Alexander Drive. Other than that, its pretty easy to get to the park.

I would definetly go back again and enjoy more of the games! I’ve included a link below for anyone who might be planning a trip to the area or who, like me before today really, has never heard of this arcade fun park.

Frankies Fun Park in Raleigh

Library Lover’s Day!

Happy Library Lover’s Day!

Do you have a favorite cookbook or a favorite chef? What are your favorite dishes or cookbooks by them?

I have a few favorite chefs! It’s hard to choose just one as there are so many types of cuisines in the word and so many talented people! My most favorite chefs are Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis, and Bobby Flay. These three are my absolute favorite chefs! You can find them and their recipes on the Cooking Channel’s website.

I used to watch Good Eats on the Cooking Channel and when it was on Netflix. It always was amazing to find out the background of spices or foods. Just finding out the history of a spice and where it came from is simply exciting!

I used to love watch Giada De Laurentiis on The Cooking Channel (and on Netflix too!). She always has interesting Italian dishes that look simply divine.

Then there is Bobby Flay too. I watched his latest show “Beat Bobby Flay” which was quite awesome. It was exciting to see chefs try to beat the Iron Chef with different specialty cuisines.

Ten Epic Restaurants in North Carolina and Maryland

I’ve been to many places, traveled through 27 states, and eaten at several different restaurants. Truth be told, I love food. The different cultures each restaurant offers in the different locations can certainly be amazing! So low and behold, my top ten favorite restaurants in North Carolina and Maryland and why they are worth a visit. Below is not in any particular order.

Hunan Manor (Columbia, MD)

I love Hunan Manor in Columbia. I used to visit this restaurant since I was young and would always get their honey sesame chicken with rice. It was so delicious! Years later, I started branching out a bit with getting eggrolls, supreme crispy eggplant, and fried rice. Of course the Honey sesame chicken dish will always be my favorite dish there. Plus the customer service was the best. I haven’t been there in the last few years so definitely still hoping that the quality and service is still top notch.

Bertuccis (Columbia, MD)

Now this restaurant had the best wood oven pizza I ever tasted! It did not have an ash taste like some other pizza places I have tried. Plus service was usually pretty good as well. And if you were not interested in pizza, they had plenty of other options and you could watch the cooks cooking with the ovens. It was awesome.

Asian Kitchen (Durham, NC)

This place is one of the best Chinese food places I have found here in North Carolina. I tried a few other places before but they were so disgustingly horrible, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anyways! This restaurant, despite being small, is pretty amazing. I love their dumplings, springrolls, and eggdrop soup. Some other family and friends have tried various dishes there and liked them too. Plus, customer service there is really good and the staff are pretty friendly too.

CJ’s Restaurant (Asheboro, NC)

This restaurant is a nice little restaurant. They have a room for parties, a salad bar, kind staff, and a black bean burger that is drool worthy. The food is very comfort oriented and even though during mealtimes it gets pretty busy, the staff are always wonderful and kind. They also have a good selection of breakfast foods too.

Randy’s Pizza (Durham, NC)

Even though I only visited this restaurant once, the pizza was pretty good. They are very accommodating to food allergies and the pizzas are pretty good sized too. Definetly worth a visit!

Ma’s Kettle (Savage, MD)

Now this restaurant is simply amazing. It is pretty small but the food is top notch and the size of the cakes is simply outstanding! They don’t skimp on the food! In the soups, they will have chunks of meat in the meat soups and their meals are simply divine. Definitely worth a visit for lunch!

Time Square Pizza (Asheboro, NC)

Time Square Pizza in Asheboro is a New York style pizzeria with a variety of choices. They have a super huge pizza for groups (I swear when I saw it it looked the size of a small table! Like a good 3-4 feet give or take… or could just be my memory but it was huge!) and each personal slice is pretty large as well. I loved getting black olives on my pizza then adding more parm cheese on top.  Plus the staff is pretty friendly too. They have two locations in Asheboro. One off of Rt 64 near Walmart and the other downtown off of Fayettville St.

The Cheesecake Factory (Columbia, MD and Durham, NC)

Who doesn’t love cheesecake? This place has always captured my attention and the food is awesome. I used to get the orange chicken with rice meal along with sharing an appetizer of the macaroni and cheese balls with marinara sauce. The staff are usually pretty friendly and the food choices are pretty amazing overall. If you can, get there early or else you’ll be waiting over an hour to get a seat.

Chubby Tacos (Durham, NC)

This restaurant is pretty small here in Durham but pretty good. Staff are friendly enough though not too sold on allergen knowledge but at least they have vegetarian options. It’s pretty good mexican style food and they do give a decent portion and have a small salsa bar for you to add to your meal.

P.F.Changs (and Pei Wei in Columbia, MD and PF Changs in Durham & Greensboro, NC)

P.F.Changs (And Pei Wei!) are absolutely amazing. They work well with those who have food allergies and in the top ten for people for allergies to eat at in 2016. The chicken meals are amazing. I love the honey chicken and white rice dish. They also have a few vegetarian dishes too like Ma Po Tofu (Which is amazing!) and Buddha’s feast too which can be gluten free if I remember correctly. They also have an eggplant dish too. They used to have vegetarian dumplings which were amazing but that was removed from their menu unfortunately. Other than that, definitely an awesome restaurant to visit and pretty relaxing atmosphere.

Okay so from the list above, you can probably tell I love chinese food as well as pizza too. I have tried other cuisines such as japanese (Shiki Sushi in Durham, a restaurant in Myrtle Beach, a restaurant at Epcot in Disney World, and a couple places in Maryland), italian (Little Italy in Baltimore, MD), mexican (Asheboro, NC and some places back in Maryland too), and of course bbq (MD and NC). So if you have a chance to visit one of these places, I definitely suggest it!