Anyone Else Stuck in a Rut?

By Tina Cameron

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For the past month, I have been stuck in a rut. I’ve been unmotivated, a little sad, eating my feelings, and the scale showed it today when I went in for my yearly cardiology appointment. I did so well last year and lost 26 pounds. Well, I have gained 29.5 since this time last year. This is completely unacceptable. I am an emotional eater. I can admit this and I know what I need to do to lose weight, but I was not motivated until I saw my doctor. He politely said, “Yes, you do need to lose some weight.” He did not give me a number. He just said not to buy the junk and added, “there will not be anything bad to snack on if you don’t buy it.”

So, after I finish writing this blog, I am taking the dogs on a walk. I am a little nervous about this, as the last time I took all three for a walk, one got loose and ran away. Then, the other got loose, but (thank goodness) she sat down when I called her name. The third dragged me until I was physically worn out. Chasing one and trying to control the other two was already a workout.

If anyone wants to jump on the “healthy eating, no more snacking, feel better, get off the couch and out of your pajamas” pandemic train, please send me an email at the address below. I am going to go through my pantry and freezer tonight, and make a list of goals, meal planning, and exercises to start. I have an app on my phone to keep track of my meals, water, and exercise. I plan to start tracking again, too. I would love to have someone do this journey with me. So, if anyone is interested, we can do this together. I am tired of being in this rut.

I am wishing everyone the best. Stay safe. Email me at tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu.

An Angel Here on Earth

By Tina Cameron

I have a friend that is truly an angel among us. Tisha is kind, sweet, caring, funny, and 20200201_081241has a big heart for people and dogs. Recently, God has had her in the right place at the right time on two separate occasions. The first occasion was as Tisha was out driving, she came across two dogs that were in the roadway in danger of being hit by passing cars. She stopped her car and rescued the dogs just as the owner was pulling up. The second incident was the next day as Tisha was driving to the hospital where we work as oncology nurses. As she was driving in the dark hours of the morning, she noticed a man riding his bicycle near her. In an instant, another driver hit this gentleman and took off without stopping to render air or return to the scene. Thank goodness Tisha was paying close attention and able to call 911 before stopping to help the injured man. He sustained a shoulder injury but will be okay.

IMG_0430Let me tell you a little about Tisha. She is 48 years old. She has been married for 27 years to Jamie, and they are blessed with two sons, Gavin and Grayson, and their two “children-in-love,” Matthew and Sarah-Grace. Tisha is also Mom to three fur babies-Bella, Brody, and Bailey.

Tisha has been a nurse for 9 years. She became a nurse because she has always enjoyed helping people and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I asked Tisha what nursing meant to her she said, “For me, nursing has been interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Becoming an RN was a dream come true for me. I really believe that nursing is more than a career; it’s a calling and truly a way of life.” During her free time, Tisha’s favorite things to do are spending time with her family and her dogs, decorating her home, and taking naps and beach trips.

I have worked with Tisha for the past 5 ½ years. I am so happy to call her a friend and feel blessed that she is in my life. Tisha is an asset to our oncology unit, as well as our patients. She truly is an angel here on earth, and the world is a better place because she is in it.IMG_3308 (002)

Meet Stella-Bella

By Tina Cameron

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A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a cute little white dog named Stella on a rescue site. I have been wanting another dog. I thought having another little dog would help my Yorkie (Peyton) with her grieving over the loss of my sweet Haley who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last June. I had previously seen this dog, but never inquired about her. When I stumbled across her again, I felt like it was a sign. Stella is a Maltese-Yorkie mix, is 8 ½ years old, timid, and so wants to trust people. She is just the sweetest dog ever.

I sent in an application and days later had a phone interview. A few days after my phone interview, the foster mom called me and we spoke about 90 minutes on the phone about Stella, my home life, my pets, etc. It was so sad to hear that she had been neglected, abused, adopted and returned. I agreed to foster her as a trial basis for 10 days and would pick her up on January 7th. She immediately jumped in my SUV, laid down on the blanket I had put in the backseat and went to sleep. After meeting my two other dogs, they all went out in the backyard to potty. She seemed comfortable right away in my backyard and so far, was getting along with my other two dogs.

20200107_133255Once Stella came in, I went to eat lunch in the den. She came right in the den and got up in the same spot where Peyton sleeps. She proceeded to take a nap and I snapped a picture. Due to the neglect and abuse Stella endured, as well as some health problems, she is hesitant to trust a human. It is still a work in progress; however, she is making great strides in doing new things each day. I ended up adopting Stella on day five of fostering her, because I was already in love. Later that night, I snapped a few pictures of her “gotcha day” sign to post on Facebook and she leaned over and licked my cheek! Oh, those sweet puppy kisses. She is slowly coming to me when I call her and did well at her first follow up vet appointment. I am so happy that I chose to adopt her. Let the spoiling begin.

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Meet Kaitlyn: A Riverbanks Zoo Ambassador

By Tina Cameron

tinapicsFor the past few months I have been volunteering in the Ambassador building at the zoo. I have been working with a zookeeper named Kaitlyn. She is an amazing ambassador for Riverbanks Zoo. She was nice enough to answer my questions for the blog. I hope everyone enjoys reading about her.

Kaitlyn is 25 years old and has moved around a lot around the east coast and the Midwest but calls Wisconsin home. She has a younger, sister, her parents, and a dog. Her parents live in Wisconsin, but the family dog Taz, lives in Pennsylvania with her sister.

She chose zookeeping because, she has always had a passion for all animals and grew uptinapic5 going to the Jacksonville Zoo regularly. Her dream in high school was to work with animals, but she wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted to do. While attending The University of Wisconsin-Platteville, she had the opportunity to intern with the local aquarium and fell in love with the idea of zookeeping. She knew she not only wanted to take care of the animals, but to educate everyone on the importance of all animals, build homes for animals that are forever improving, and studying them to learn more about the species. She has a Bachelor of Science degree with emphasis on Zoology and Environmental Science. She has been a zookeeper for 8 months but also did an internship for an additional year.

Her favorite animal to work with is Miss Piggy, she is a nearly 50-year-old Texas Tortoise. Despite her age, and the fact that she is a reptile, she is incredibly smart. She knows how to touch a colored target, wave her leg, lay down and open her mouth all on cue. Kaitlyn does training on a regular basis with Miss Piggy.

tinapics2Kaitlyn’s hobbies include hiking and visiting the beach but in her free time she also bartends on Friday evenings in Augusta because she loves talking with people! She and her boyfriend have been dating for 4 years and he lives and works in Augusta.

Kaitlyn has been at Riverbanks Zoo since January 2018 as the Animal Ambassador Keeper. She is the guest engagement ambassador, and leads programs that include animal encounters, narrating animal trainings/feedings, and engaging with every day guests.

I have learned so much from her in the past few months. She is an asset to Riverbanks Zoo; our animals and we are blessed to have her.

Year in Review

By Tina Cameron

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Hunter & I on his 25th Birthday

I have been reflecting a lot on my life and my family this past year. My younger son turned 25 on November 30th — how is that even possible? His brother will be 29 in March. I can still remember being pregnant, them coming home from the hospital, their first days of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation. I am 51 and don’t feel like my sweet boys should be grown men already. It recently occurred to me that more than half of my life is over which is terrifying and sad especially because I have not accomplished half of the things I want to.

 

It reminds me of that amazing song by Kenny Chesney “Don’t Blink.” I made videos for both boys at their high school graduation parties of their first 18 years with that song playing as the background music. The song talks about how fast life moves on, “don’t blink.”

My heart and mind feel like I am still in my 30s, however, my body is another story. I feel more like I am in my late 60s to early 70s. I need to work on getting in shape and losing weight—again! I am not making excuses, but I have no energy on my days off between work and graduate school to want to do anything besides veg out on the couch and watch TV or nap. My sleep schedule is always out of sorts. Lately, I wake up at 2:30 A.M., even when going to bed at 11:30 P.M. I am worn out.

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Oreo

This year I lost my beloved bunny, Oreo. It was heartbreaking, and I miss him so much, but he is in Heaven with Haley. Throughout the year, I have also lost animals that I took care of as a volunteer at the zoo. It is just heartbreaking for me to lose any animal that I fall in love with.

 

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Corey & I tailgating Alabama vs. USC

Overall, 2019 has been a good year for me. I graduated with my BSN, I started graduate school, and I am doing more volunteer work in the community. However, having my boys living two hours away in Charleston with their own lives is becoming harder on my heart than I thought it would. This was the first year that Corey did not come home for Thanksgiving as well as the first year I did not see Hunter on his birthday. It absolutely broke my heart. I know I need to understand that they are grown, and this was eventually going to happen, but it still hurts.

As we approach the Christmas holidays, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on this past year and make hopes and goals for the next. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

 

What I Am Most Thankful For

by Tina Michelle Cameron

Screenshot_20191101-034744_DriveAs the holidays approach I thought I would write about what I am thankful for. First and foremost, I am most thankful for my two children that God has blessed me with. They are the best two things in my life. It was never easy being a divorced mom raising two small children on my own, but I did it. At times, I had to work four jobs at once to support us – I wouldn’t change that for anything. I was always homeroom mom, soccer mom, assistant coach for my younger son’s soccer team, served on the PTA committee, volunteered during testing at their schools, and never missed an orchestra concert, track meet, or football game. Unless I worked the nightshift, I was there to tuck them in bed each night, make dinner, play games, or just snuggle and watch a movie.

I put both through my sons through college – my older son Corey is now a Mechanical Engineer at Mercedes-Benz in Charleston and my younger son is in graduate school at The Citadel and will become a teacher when he graduates next December. I am one proud mommy, and I did it all on my own. I love my boys to the moon and back.

I am thankful for the love and support of my parents. They have always been there for my boys and me through everything, and I love them so very much. I am also thankful for my brother and his family.

Next, I am thankful that I became a nurse and chose to go into the field of oncology. I have been an oncology nurse for twenty-five-and-a-half years, and it was the best decision I have made. I love my patients, and I work for the best nurse manager with a great unit at Lexington Medical Center in the oncology unit. I am blessed to love what I do and thankful for my job every day.

20191006_093104I am thankful that I was hired as a volunteer at Riverbanks Zoo and that I have a work schedule that allows me to do other volunteer work in our community, feeding the homeless at the Transitions Homeless Shelter.

I am thankful for my close friends.

I am thankful for my health, despite a few minor health issues, but overall, I know that it could be worse.

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I am thankful for my beautiful home and thankful that I can afford to put food on the table and have a car to drive.

And lastly, I am thankful for my two fur-babies and my turtle that I get to call my children. They bring me such joy.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season. Don’t forget to take some time to be thankful.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

by Tina Cameron

While September is National Suicide Prevention Month, awareness can be spread year-round. I am writing this with a heavy heart tonight about someone I never met, someone who appeared on their social media pages to be sweet, caring, kind, smart, funny, and very much loved. While I have never met this person, I am filled with sadness as a mother and as a person who has grieved a friend who died by suicide, my high school friend Debbie.

According to National Today (2019), “an average of 123 suicides” occur each day in the United States. It is “the tenth leading cause of death in America – second leading for ages 25-34, and third-leading for ages 15-24.” I was completely unaware of these statistics prior to my research. Awareness must be spread every single day, not just one month of the year that it is advertised. Reading these statistics is disheartening. According to the Center for Disease Control, researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide during the study period did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other issues, including relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, job or money-related stress, legal or housing problems often contributed to the risk of suicide.suicide-awareness-ribbon-2

As awareness about suicide is spreading, television shows and commercials are now showing phone number hotlines for people to call if they are having thoughts of suicide. I am a nurse at a hospital, and we now ask patients if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts when they are admitted. Despite this increased attention and awareness, people are still committing suicide because they may not have access to the help they need or even realize they need it. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain they feel.

My heart is breaking tonight and every day for anyone hurting in this way. Please reach out for help. Call a friend, your family, a crisis center. Breakups, financial problems, marital problems, and bad grades are not worth ending your life over. I have listed the phone number to call and website if you are thinking about harming yourself.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

suicidepreventionlifeline.org