That's What She Said

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Melissa Carter: Peace, joy, and … family?

Melissa CarterChristmas is a time for joy and peace — until you get around your family. There always seems to be one nagging holiday issue that resurfaces each year for every clan.

It might be where and when you gather, or even who gets to come celebrate. For my family, the big issue has always been determining the best gift exchange scenario.

It began after I started college. Since I was the youngest child, my parents finally had an empty nest. As a broke college student, I cried to my mom that I wasn’t going to be able to buy proper gifts for my whole family, which then forced her to initiate the conversation with everyone about a structured gift exchange to save us all money. Twenty years later we still haven’t found an arrangement that makes everyone happy.

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Melissa Carter: A dog with special needs and a special spirit

Melissa CarterWhen enough pressure is applied, a piece of coal turns into a diamond. In nature, this process takes a great deal of time. But I saw this same process happen in a matter of days with GiGi.

A couple of years ago, Katie and I adopted a special-needs dog from Adopt-A-Golden Atlanta. GiGi is epileptic and suffers seizures periodically. Based on first impressions, she didn’t seem to be a dog that people were rushing to adopt.

When we first met her she wouldn’t even look at us and withdrew to the protective legs of her foster family. After we adopted her, she spent the first few days hiding in the corner of our kitchen. Her silence and reclusive nature is how she earned the name GiGi after the famed recluse and silent film actress Greta Garbo.

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Melissa Carter: Symbols to help you navigate the holiday season

Melissa CarterStress. Thanksgiving weekend has a way of piling on the stress for a lot of us every year. Regardless of whether the stressor is connected to the size of the turkey, layovers in Omaha, dealing with car rental companies or the joy of hours spent in a room with certain family members, the idea of thankfulness can get lost in the chaos.

This year, I suggest you create a symbol, something which represents the idea of appreciation. It will help get you through the weekend and weeks ahead with joy and remind you to be thankful regardless of what you may be dealing with this holiday season.

I recently gave a speech to hundreds of patients who had either received an organ transplant or were waiting for one. As a kidney transplant recipient, I talked about my challenging days on dialysis and showed the audience items I use today to remember the lessons I learned while sick.

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Melissa Carter: Aging with pride

Melissa CarterI am a 41-year-old woman who is proud of my age. I give no apology for being born in 1970 and I am looking forward to my future. However, these days it seems that I can’t escape the constant messages that I should be pining for the good ole’ days of youth.

According to most advertising messages I see, my body is withering away by the second. And it will require all the money in my 401k to repair the damage.

While running errands the other day, an ad came on the radio that began, “Women over 40 have weight gain due to a hormonal imbalance.”  I was then told that it would be impossible to stay thin at my age unless I bought some type of medication that I am sure the FDA has never heard of.

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Melissa Carter: A story to get you in the Halloween mood

Melissa CarterIn honor of Halloween season, I wanted to share a story I heard on the Roswell Ghost Tour. I love this time of year when our imaginations are allowed to roam free. So for all of you with ghoulish minds wide open, this one is for you.

Susan tripped on something in the hallway.

Ouch! What was that? Susan squinted and looked on the floor to see what she had tripped over. She saw that the culprit had been one of Alison’s dolls that had been left in the hallway near her daughter’s closed bedroom door. In fact, several of Alison’s dolls were on the floor, lined up perfectly next to one another, side-by-side, along the baseboard.