Let the healing begin

All of last week was absolutely miserable for me. I had to stop taking my vitamins as well as any NSAID so as soon as my migraines started, there was nothing I could do about them. I didn’t figure out the ice pack on the back of my neck trick until the day before my surgery! I felt so sick, vitamins are one of the many ways I manage my fibromyalgia and chronic migraines. Two days before my surgery, I went in for pre-admission blood work and paperwork. As I left it started hitting me that I was really having surgery in just a few days. It had taken less than two weeks to figure out what had been making me so sick. In barely a month and a half, I was having the problem taken care of. This fact alone just amazes me; I have experienced nothing but competent and listening doctors and oh my gosh, my surgeon is amazing! It was certainly helpful hearing the hospital staff praising my surgeon for his amazing skill and saying that they all prefer working with him over other surgeons.

On Friday, we left at 12:15pm to get to the hospital and I was checked in by 1pm, had an IV in my hand, and leg circulation cuffs on my calves. The hospital gown was faded but actually not bad compared to ones I’ve worn in past hospital visits. The nurses were all very friendly and very helpful and informative. I met with the anesthesiologist and he went over all of the info and stuff but spoke so fast, I was so tired and had a budding headache, I could barely understand him. I found it amusing how every nurse or doctor that came into my prep room asked three questions – 1. what your full name and date of birth? 2. who’s your surgeon? and 3. what is he doing for you today? Maybe they expected me to say something different or had had someone in the past get all of those wrong? It just made me laugh either way. The assistant surgeon came in, a loud fellow with a thickish accent named Andre. He explained the surgery and then went over the aftercare with me. Turns out, I was only going to have one incision and of all things, it was going to be tucked inside my belly button. Apparently, the scar will not affect any future pregnancies.

When my surgeon finally made it to my room, that meant that go time was just a few minutes away. The OR nurse was already waiting to wheel me back and Phil was getting his bag of stuff together to start the wait out in the waiting room. I signed the consent forms, the surgeon left with his assistant, who he apparently was buddies with, and the nurses prepared to wheel me away to the OR. I had only brought a small bag with my rings, deodorant, and nose ring in it. I expected to spend the 1 hour in recovery then get sent home.

The OR nurse pushed me through several sets of doors and then to OR 3. She cranked the bed up to the level of the operating room table and I, careful to not snag my iv, scooted my way over. I remember several blankets being draped over my legs that were nice and warm, and a thick black strap being placed over my legs, “just to keep you in place,” I was told. I remember mentioning to the other OR nurse about how cool his dragon tattoo was, then laying down on the table looking up at the big lights above me. That’s the last thing I remember clearly. I think I remember a mask going over my face, but the next thing I knew was waking up in recovery, or on my way to recovery, and being in excruciating pain. I couldn’t speak, only barely was able to shake my head or nod. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I just hurt. I ended up throwing up, and I don’t actually remember that. I mean I do, I remember the nurse rushing over with a small container, and I couldn’t stop anything, I just felt so incredibly absolutely and totally miserable. I remember my surgeon coming over at some point, but I don’t remember what he said, I couldn’t answer anyway. One of the nurses asked several times if I wanted to see Phil and I kept shaking my head no because I was in so much pain. I don’t know what drugs they gave me, but I do know I spent about three hours in recovery. Phil finally came back after I finally said yes he can come back. I barely registered that he was there, he just sat there watching me and just being present. My surgeon came back towards the end of my time in recovery and said he was admitting me. Told me I wasn’t responding fast enough to the pain killers and he wanted to make sure they could keep an eye on me for at least over night. I do remember shaking my head and telling him I just wanted to go home. But in hindsight, I’m very glad I stayed over night. I would have ended up in the ER if I had gone home. I got out of surgery around 5:30pm, my surgery started around 3:30pm. I was moved up to an overnight room by 9pm sharp. All I could do was lie there propped up in bed just wanting to cry from the pain and feeling so achy. My stomach hurt, and it’s amazing how much the ab muscles are needed and or used for simple daily movements.

I fell into a medicated slumber fairly quickly after the lights were turned down/off and I had been given a new dose of pain meds. Phil hurried back home to get clothes and a few other essentials we both needed for the overnight stay. We’re both so very grateful to Lindsey for watching Ender during my surgery and then being able to stay overnight while we were at the hospital. That took so much stress off my mind especially when my body was under so much stress. I have never been away from Ender overnight before and knowing he was in good hands helped me not worry about that at all. It also helped I was in such a fog still! By 3am, I got another dose of pain meds and by 3:30 I actually asked to go for a short walk around the halls. I managed to walk and crawled painfully back into bed a half hour later feeling like the effects from the anesthesia was finally starting to wear off. I slept for a little bit longer, then managed two bites of applesauce around 6am. I went for another walk at 6:30, already feeling stronger, and while I was still on oxygen, I didn’t feel like I needed it quite at much.

By 7am, I was ordering breakfast, only had two bites of eggs, but at least I was starting to sort of kind of feel hungry. My surgeon came in to see how I was doing around then and said I would get to go home as soon as I had eaten a little something and kept that down. I was pushed down to the car at 9am, and achingly crawled into the passenger side seat. I was so happy to be going home, but my shoulder had started bothering me from the gas they had pumped me full of during surgery. That was not fun. For that day and the next, my shoulder and side was killing me and I could only lie on my left side.

Being home has gotten easier and easier with each passing day. I knew my gallbladder was making me really sick, but I don’t think I really knew how much. I can feel the lack of it’s poison and while I still feel achy and slightly dragging from surgery, I feel great. I feel so much better and I don’t have to worry that each bite of food I put in my mouth might make me sick. Even Phil keeps mentioning how happy I am and how much I’m smiling and laughing again. The weeks leading up to my surgery were miserable. I was so sick and uncomfortable and just felt plain nasty.

It is weird have a single incision inside my belly button, but I can’t said I mind. I’m grateful for medical technology that allowed my surgeon to complete the surgery with only one incision. My shoulder pain is gone, my belly is still slightly swollen and there’s some gorgeous yellow and purple bruising around my belly button. But I feel good. I feel healthy, I feel strong, well kind of, I am pretty tired. I feel so much better now that I can take my vitamins again, and next it’s getting rid of this tickle in my throat from being intubated during surgery. I tell you what, trying to keep from coughing while having stitches on your belly is no joke. I was up till 2am the other night trying every trick I could find to stop the tickle in my throat. Of all things, scratching my ear actually worked to stop the tickle. Keeping pressure and pushing up from the top knuckle on my ring fingers works too!

Despite the bad reaction I had to the anesthesia, I am feel so good now. Still achy and sore from the surgery and random bruise and sore spots keep showing up, but I really do feel good. I am ready to start tackling this year again, and hey, here’s to good health, right?  I’m still keeping with my gluten-free/nightshade-free diet because I feel good on that and I actually “tried” a small bite of pizza crust today and my stomach instantly cramped up. So yeah, not doing that again! If I could, I would be jumping up and down and dancing for joy because of how released I feel. I think back over the past decade of my life and remember how sick I felt and nauseated I felt so many times. I ache for my 15 year old self not being able to eat Thanksgiving because of severe nausea and no one did anything about it, despite my parents knowing. I am so glad I have doctors who have listened to me and who moved quickly to correct this health issue I’ve been dealing with for so long. This has become my year of physical healing as well as my year of being ready. I am so excited about how good I’m going to feel once I heal fully. Oh my gosh, if I feel this good now, I know I’m going to feel even better then!

And let the year go wild

I met with my surgeon a week ago and have been preparing, mentally and physically, for the surgery. I have experienced nothing but competent medical teams and doctors and surgeons this whole new health journey! It amazes me at how much of a stark difference there is between my journey to getting diagnosed with fibro and this current journey. It also makes me mad because my doctors have come to the consensus that I’ve been dealing with gallbladder issues since I was in my early/mid teens. In other words, all of the stomach and back issues I had were directly related to my gallbladder and no doctor even thought to check that. Thanks parents for not taking me seriously! Anyway, despite how mad that that makes me, I am incredibly grateful for the speed with which my doctors today are moving to get me feeling better. Not only that, they are taking me seriously.

So, okay, my surgery is this Friday, the 29th, two days before our insurance deductible resets. Which works perfectly, because our deductible will have been met!! Anyway to save money, right?  I am going to get blood work done tomorrow and I finished up the preregistration this morning. I am grateful my doctors moved to get my surgery scheduled so fast. Especially since I had a severe gallbladder attack four nights ago which almost put me in the ER. It lasted almost an hour, I couldn’t breathe, and I’m not entirely sure what actually helped stop it since I was trying everything I could find that was supposed to help. Being on a gluten-free and nightshade-free diet has definitely helped a lot. I feel better despite everything and I really don’t think I’ll be able to go back to gluten ever again. Since switching up my diet, I have lost 6 pounds and I feel like half of that was simply a bloated and uncomfortable stomach. The oddest thing, and most revealing to me, is how I don’t crave gluten whatsoever. It isn’t even appealing anymore. This tells me just how much it used to bother me!

In other news, my book is done. It is now in the clean up and fixing minor edits stage. It feels weird. I have felt so purposeless not having my book to work on anymore. I was wandering around the house the other night after Ender went to bed feeling absolutely lost. Phil laughed at me, he knows the feeling well with having finished two games. I have about 5 beta readers going through the book right now, and I’m hoping to get their edits in before my surgery on Friday. For the first time, I am reading the whole book all the way through. There is a reason I have avoided doing this. I got through the chapter with Phil’s and my story yesterday, and holy crap, I couldn’t help crying. Just remembering, vividly, all over again the pain and hell we went through hurts. I poured my heart into this book, guys, I really did. You are going to read and feel my frustration, fears, love and hate.

Through every chapter I wrote, rewrote, then wrote again, I felt like I was walking past the ghosts of all of the people who have been a part of or have left my life along the way. I learned so much from all of those people. Half of them I regret how they left my life, but the other half was a good riddance. I am in a healthier place now and this book has helped continue my healing. Being done with the bulk of the book makes me feel empty. Writing out what I’ve been through has always been a way of letting go for me. Thus, writing this book was the ultimate letting go! I’m sure I’ll write more books. I’ve even had a few in mind over the past year. But those aren’t goals currently.

It was fascinating to write through my transformation in the middle of my fibro journey. I used to use my depression to gain pity from others around me. I was a thorn in the side to those who knew me. When I realized I had to change or I was losing my best friends was when I finally woke up. I began learning the incredible practice of looking for the good in my life. I still do this today, but I have also learned to give myself permission to yell at the bad. It’s been all about balance. I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on even my worst enemy. But I am grateful for what I’ve been through. It’s strengthened me – it’s taught me to be vicious about who I allow into my life – most of all though, it’s taught me to love myself for who I am.

My book will tentatively be available for pre-order starting on February 4th. Everything is lined up and ready to go, it all depends on how I feel after my surgery and how much editing I can get to before then! Thank you all for your support! Now, Ender’s waking up from his nap, so it’s time for this mama to get him a snack.  I’m planning on taking several weeks away from writing after my surgery and between now and the release of my book, so I shall “see” you all when I’m back!

Welcoming the New Year – Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016


2015 was a pretty intense year. Some of our biggest life changes [to date] happened this year. It was a year of shifts and healing, and truth be told, stability.

  • Phil suffered a pretty major job disappointment at the beginning of the year. (January)
  • This disappointment led to a potential job opportunity in Colorado barely a month later. (Beginning of February)
  • We found out Phil got the job and we had two weeks to move! (Middle of February)
  • Phil, Ender, and I packed up our meager belongings and hightailed it out of Maryland to Denver, Colorado (March)
  • We flew back east twice for business trips (May and December)
  • Ender turned 1 (June)
  • I started my book (June)
  • I joined Nerium International (August)
  • We bought a second car; my gorgeous gold Toyota Highlander (September)
  • My health issues began getting worse (July – December – yes, this was a big part of the last half of the year)

When 2015 started, I could feel the energies starting to stir. Phil was anxiously waiting to hear about a job in California he really wanted, and as I read the cards, I began to believe he wasn’t going to get it. We found out a week later that he didn’t. Two weeks later, I had a dream where I heard Phil tell me about the destruction of the company he wanted to work for. That very next morning, Phil showed me a report that said that company was going under and was about to get bought out. I can only imagine the panic we would have both been in if he had gotten hired. The Fates were kind and kept us away from that job for a reason! Two weeks later a dear friend approached Phil about a potential job opportunity in Colorado. The company she worked for had been trying to hire Phil for over a year, but he really didn’t want to work for a contracting company and stay in Maryland. So, Colorado was a welcomed idea for sure. I had known a new job opportunity was right around the corner so when I heard about this job, I started researching the area. I liked what I saw, and ended up picking out three different apartment complexes just in case. One of my best friends was over visiting when Phil texted me and said “they’re deciding today. I will know by the end of the day if I got the job or not.” I showed her the text and immediately sensed this was the change I had felt coming.

Less than 5 minutes later, he texted me again, “I got the job. We’re moving in two weeks to Denver, Colorado. Better find an apartment.” I took a breath in and while my friend played with Ender, I started calling apartment complexes. I called two and then got to the one where we live now. It was the best deal, the most open floor plan, and we decided to go with that. Within a week after Phil accepting the job, we had an apartment reserved – SIGHT UNSEEN – and had plane tickets purchased, as well as half of the utilities set up. Another four days later, we had our going away party where so many friends and old co-workers showed up. That party was one of the best I’ve ever been to! It was the best send off we could have wished for.

The day before the moving truck came, they called and asked if they could come a day early since we were expecting a massive snowstorm. That meant we had an hour to crazily pack up the last two boxes and break down the bed and Ender’s crib. We ended up having to ship two boxes because we ran out of boxes and couldn’t get anymore until after the moving truck had left. I’ll tell you what, we got awfully creative that day! And very stingy about what we kept and what we gave away. So much thanks goes to Caiti and Hannah for helping me clean and pack up the suitcases so we didn’t go over the weight limits. Both of our big checked suitcases were 48.7 pounds and 47.5 pounds. So very close to that 50 pound weight limit! Since we were going to be without our belongings for almost a week, we had to pack enough to get us through those days. By some miracle, our car arrived the next morning after we landed in Colorado. Waking up that morning and looking out our hotel room’s windows and seeing the snow covered mountains, I knew I had arrived home. I distinctly remember my eyes tearing up multiple times; the first step I took outside in the clean crisp air of Denver, seeing those mountains and calling them home, walking into our apartment and seeing the vast amounts of sunlight. We fell in love with Colorado and that love is ever growing. Ender has thrived as well living out here and I couldn’t be happier to see my little man running down the path, picking up sticks, or just simply standing there looking at the sky with a look of absolute satisfaction on his face.

A mere two and a half months later, we flew back east for a impromptu business trip and we celebrated Ender’s first birthday with Phil’s family. It felt strange stepping back into Maryland. It definitely wasn’t home anymore. Phil and I both couldn’t wait to fly back home. We loved the calm busy of Colorado compared to the stressed, tension filled environment Maryland now offers us.

bald little one year old Ender
bald little one year old Ender
During the summer, my friend Natalie approached me about a book idea. “I just have this vision of you writing a book about your past and your journey,” she told me. This sparked the revival of an old project I had started awhile ago. By September, I had over 20,000 pages written and I knew this book was taking off. Bringing on another friend for editing, the book is now almost to 50,000 words and by the time it hits the virtual shelves at the end of January, it will probably be well over that. This book has brought things to the surface I didn’t know were still issues. As I wrote though the betrayal I felt towards my parents, I realized how much I have healed. As I worked through the ins and outs of understanding why I left the Christian faith, I found a renewal of the intense peace and calm I have about my decisions. I am excited about this book. Truly, I am very excited. I can’t wait to share my story with all of you and my greatest hope is that is gives even just one person the courage to stand up and doing something great.

In May, a childhood friend of mine approached me about a new product and company she had just joined. I had been watching her posts and finally asked her if I could sample. She sent me a bottle and I tried it for two weeks. The price turned me off, but I never stopped thinking about that night cream. At the end of July, Phil and I sat down and I seriously considered the ins and outs of being a part of Nerium International. August 16th, I took the leap and joined my friend’s team. I have never looked back. I have gotten my product for free, and am actually MAKING money, not throwing money away on this company. This is huge for me, I believe in this company, I am not a stupid sheep follower, I see the value in being on the ground floor of Nerium. In 5 years, I will be in the top 1% of the company. A company who hit $1 billion in revenue in just less than four years. One of the TOP 3 companies to ever do that. I am continuing to push forward with my business and the lessons I’m learning about self-discipline and consistency are incredible. I am learning more about myself as a person and I am sincerely happy to be working so hard for something I want.

Having sold our second car back in Maryland before we moved, we managed to make having only one car out here work. But as drs appointments and a desire to be able to get out and go to moms’ groups came up, we decided it was time to look at getting a second car. We found a steal of a deal at Carmax for our Highlander. As I drove that car off the lot, I fell in love with it. Ender is comfortable in the car, it handles amazingly well in the snow and other difficult weather. We certainly felt like we had reached a new level of adulthood purchasing this car!

Now, onto the final big thing that happened this year. A week after I delivered Ender, I began experiencing SEVERE back spasms. I also lost over 30 pounds in less than 6 weeks. I felt extremely nauseated every time I nursed him, and started dealing with intense anxiety. Postpartum healing is no joke. I didn’t do anything about it, because I felt like it was probably just my body trying to adjust after having strained through delivery and the nine months of pregnancy. My anxiety disappeared after we moved to Colorado (funny coincidence that…) but my back spasms continued to increase. I started seeing a chiropractor at the end of July. I found out my neck is straight, it does not curve inward like it should, and I have some slight scoliosis as well. Even though my posture and spine has drastically improved, my spasms have continued. A month and a half ago, I began noticing the spasms seemed to be connected to food. So, I set up an appointment with a primary care who also is a naturopath. Tell you what, Denver is the perfect place to be in when dealing with health issues. My chiropractor deals with a lot of chronic pain patients and I have found her to be incredibly knowledgeable about my fibromyalgia.

And then today happened. I had an abdominal ultrasound to check my gallbladder, kidney, liver, and stomach. Everything was normal except for my gallbladder. I have at least five (probably more) good sized gallstones and all of the back spasms have actually been gallbladder attacks. I now have my suspicions of having had gallbladder problems for a lot longer than just the past year and half. On Monday, I will be calling a surgeon and we’ll be discussing when to get my gallbladder removed. I certainly didn’t plan on 2016 starting with a surgery, but I am hopeful this will make me feel better.

So here’s to 2016. This past year held a lot of changes and I know 2016 will bring even more. However, I believe the changes coming this year will be even grander and more personal success related not huge lifestyle changes like this past year.

I wish you all a very happy new year and now it’s on to cuddling up in front of the fire with my little toddler who think it’s the most amazing thing to stare at.

Traveling with a Toddler – Flying Tips & Tricks

Reaching our car in the cool night air in the Denver International Airport, I almost felt like crying. It was so so good to see something familiar and to know we were only 40 minutes away from home! Home: what a blissful word!

While that sounds like we had a nightmare of a trip, we really didn’t. It was the third time we’ve flown with Ender, and despite some unfortunate issues we had with the first flight this past weekend, the rest of the trip went well. When we moved to Colorado in March this past year, Ender was 9 months old. It was the first time flying with him, and needless to say, I was nervous. I got as much advice as I could from a friend who has traveled with her son since he was a tiny infant. So with this post, I’m hoping to impart the traveling wisdom I have learned from traveling with Ender and give helpful advice to anyone who will be traveling with infants or toddlers!

1. Your toddler’s daily routine

This is actually really important and I’m surprised I haven’t seen much about this online. Is your child a good morning person? Or do they not seem to “wake up” until half way through the day? Ender is not a very good morning person if we’ve missed his normal morning routines. What I mean by this is waking him up before he is ready to wake up makes for a horrid day. We learned last trip to not fly in the mornings, but I didn’t remember that until AFTER tickets had already been bought. Our first flight was in the morning again, and I had to wake him up and we left without giving him a REAL breakfast or his normal cup of milk. One of the biggest tips I can think to give it to create as much of a normal routine as possible when traveling. Of course, there are a lot of variables, but the closer to your child’s normal daily routine, the better.

2.  If you’re uncomfortable, your child will [probably] be even more so

Flying is just simply not a pleasant experience no matter how much you enjoy it. You land and get to your destination and feel grimy from being on an airplane for an hour or a lot more. I know I personally always feel completely covered in germs and just grime. Toddlers especially feel the change in daily routines more than older children, so I knew going into this trip that Ender probably would have a rough time. Maybe this is just me, but I have a lot more compassion and patience for Ender when I take the time to understand and figure out WHY he’s upset. Almost 100% of the time it’s because he’s uncomfortable, or something happened, or guess what, he’s hungry! So to combat him being uncomfortable with having his routines messed up, I made sure to pack his favorite snacks. And of course we brought along Ellie and his favorite blankie.

With TSA regulations, we were limited as to what we could pack food wise for Ender. He loves these snack pouches, and I brought them through security without any issues. We packed gold fish, clementines, and a dried fruit mix. When packing for a toddler, think comfort, comfort, comfort. The more comfortable they can be, the happier they will be (usually).

3. When things go wrong, DO NOT panic

Ender slept for the first hour of the flight out, woke up, seemed uncomfortable, but was doing okay. He suddenly started getting severely overheated (think skin feeling really feverish). I couldn’t cool him down, and five minutes before we touched down, he threw up. But because of having not eaten much before/during the flight, almost nothing came up. I know his ears were really bothering him as well, but him overheating was what did him in. It almost did me in too! So on the flight home I dressed him in thinner pants and a short sleeve shirt. As soon as we got on the plane, I pulled off his shoes and socks and jacket. Luckily the flight home was a lot cooler than the flight out.

There were about 7 other toddlers and infants on the flight out too. As Ender started freaking out and trying to escape off my lap, I calmly talked with him and tried to keep him distracted. I don’t blame him for being so out of sorts. I wasn’t feeling well myself, but I certainly wasn’t going to snap at him. Poor kid was so so uncomfortable! I have noticed if I don’t freak out or if Phil doesn’t freak out, the people around us don’t freak out and get upset. Every one was cheering for Ender as we waited to get off the plane. They knew he had had a rough time and every other person asked me how he had done while we walked off the plane. I can’t say how important it is to not freak out. I know some situations are way out of control, and it is impossible to not get upset. But understanding and getting on your child’s level really does make a difference if that is a normal habit of yours.

4. Be Strategic

There was a family of five waiting to board our flight out. I watched them especially since they had twins and what looked like to be a 2 1/2 to 3 year old little boy. The twins were fed before we all boarded and they were also almost the very last people to board. They were smart. I didn’t think of boarding last until the flight home. When I say be strategic, this is what I mean. We let Ender run around and play to his heart’s content before we started boarding for the flight home. Even if this meant we were following him up and down the rows of chairs at the gate and having to turn him around often so he didn’t run all the way back to security. Tire your toddler out. Let them move and get energy out because once you’re on the plane, that’s it. They’re stuck there until you land. I also offered Ender as much food as he would eat. Our flight home was also an afternoon flight, which helped a lot as it happened roughly when his normal afternoon nap would have been. When flying with a toddler, I HIGHLY suggest afternoon/evening flights OVER morning flights. It’s easier on you moms and dads, and it’s easier on the kids.

We also had a fairly normal morning before heading to the airport. Ender still wasn’t happy about being stuck in the stroller again, but we made it to the gate without too big of a melt down. I will be selling our little umbrella stroller and just going with my collapsible jogging stroller next time we fly. He was so uncomfortable in that stroller, even with extra padding. Even though the jogging stroller is bigger, comfort is once again the highest priority with this.

Wait to be the last people to board. By the time we had boarded for our flight home, we were only sitting in our seats for maybe 5 minutes before the plane taxied to the runway. If you’re flying Southwest, then I suggest you think carefully about how to get good seats while still letting your child run a little more. We may fly Southwest next time, and in that case, I would send Phil in first to get seats and then Ender and I would wait till the last few people.

5. Those darn ear pops

Okay, our last flight back to Maryland in May, Ender was still nursing. I fed him as we took off and he was asleep when we landed, so that trip we didn’t have to deal with his ears popping. This was the part I was most nervous about. If his ears are truly as sensitive as mine are, those ear pops would be painful for him. He took off fine, actually, within minutes of the plane starting to move, Ender was asleep. So he didn’t feel the ear pops as we took off. Landing was an entirely different story. We all felt sick, so I didn’t think to do anything. However, on the flight home, I placed my hands over his ears as we were landing and that seemed to help. I am not sure if that it made his ears feel better or what, but it helped! I’m not sure what else to suggest with ears popping, so anyone comment with anything they’ve found that’s worked!

I think that’s it for now. I can only just keep recommending being flexible, choose comfort over convenience if convenience means discomfort. Pick snacks carefully and don’t bring an excess. There are plenty of places to get food once you’re past security. Maybe do a dry run before heading to the airport and see which snacks your toddler likes the most right now. For Ender, that was cheezits, pouches, and goldfish.

I hope this helps! and please comment with any suggestions I may have missed!

Choosing my life

Writing about body positivity or the lack thereof actually helped reboot my own perception of my own body. I experienced another back spasm yesterday and I’ve been in a slump since then. But it’s because I want to find a fix and figure out WHY I keep experiencing this terrible pain. I’m frustrated because physically, I’m in the best place I’ve been in since developing Fibromyalgia. Except for this one section on my back. So for the next two months I’m going to dedicate time to figuring out why I keep having back spasms. Including going to see a naturopath as I have my suspicions about my gut health being out of balance. Mainly, my goal is to being consistent, take care of my body to the most of my ability, and protect my health.

I felt discouraged this morning about a few other things and yet, I have no desire to give up on anything. See, I’m a fighter. I always have been. Even in the darkest days of my depression, I’ve never been willing to give up or quit. My life has evolved around constant change and severe shifts. People are always coming and going in and out of my life. But I am always here. But I am constantly shifting as well. Maybe I have found the rhythm among the chaos. Or maybe I haven’t. Since moving to Colorado I have felt a stronger grounding than I’ve ever known before. While things have been shitty the last two months, I am still feeling grounded. My book is slowly starting to pick up again. I needed to step away for a month and a half. However, I am finding my flow again and the words are pouring out. I’m over 37,000 words now and that number is steadily increasing.

The biggest bright light in my life right now is Ender. I was once told Ender would live for being outside and the outdoors. Well, it’s true. Ender goes outside and we walk with him until he’s ready to go inside. He comes inside and is super happy, dancing, yelling, talking, and jumping around. Seeing how calm being outside makes him helps me want to the best person I can be. Being a mom has taught me more about accepting my body and myself than anything else. And I raised half of my siblings. I have found there is absolutely NO comparison between being the oldest and raising your own child. Watching my child figure things out and begin to understand the world around him is incredible. Ender is currently on the verge of speaking and I suspect it will be just like when he started walking. He’s going to just start speaking in full sentences. He took so long watching and studying walking that when he finally started walking, he was practically running. We watched Big Hero 6 the other night and he’s now walking around making a rolled “L” sound. Mimicking Baymax’s response to a fist bump.

Even though I am slowly finding my footing again after months of slipping, I still feel weird. I made the mistake of not fully threshing out my dreams a few months ago. Even though I still have long term goals, my dreams aren’t set. Having done even a little bit of the dream mapping I did two months ago, that’s seriously helped. Knowing my goals and dreams have kept me going when things have gotten rough. I do really like my life right now. Even when I am reminded of things I’d rather not remember, my life is pretty darn good.

We’re going back east this next week. I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family. But I know I’m going to eager to get back home. I do feel more peace about this trip back than I did last time in May. I am more confident in myself as a person and I can fully enjoy this trip. I am eager for Ender to see his aunties and uncles and for them to see him. He’s walking now and he wasn’t last time.

Well, Ender’s trying to help me type which means it’s time to wrap this up. Thank you all for your support and I gotta admit I like where I’ve shifted this blog. Enjoy your last two days of November!

Truth Talk – Body Image

– It helps, a lot, to be able to have a space where I can get out even just a little bit of what goes on in my head. Writing last week’s post helped me break down what was really going on in my head and process it. –

One of the things that’s been just hounding me mentally is my body image. All things “my body.” I’m short, I’m “wide,” I’ve always had stocky thighs or as my parents used to say, “she/you have very British thighs and calves.” I am sorry if that offends anyone! It’s merely what I was told while growing up. Coming to terms with my body shape, my weight, my face shape has been difficult. I think it’s safe to say it’s difficult for anyone, especially if their body doesn’t “fit” society’s predetermined perfect body shape, weight, and looks.

But here’s what I’ve learned; it doesn’t matter what your body looks like, it’s your body. You are the only one who can change how you view your body and how you feel about your body. I spent most of my childhood into my teens worrying about my body. I was never skinny enough; never tall enough. I had acne. Not only on my face but my back and shoulders. I spent the summer of my 13th year wearing jeans and sweatshirts because I was so self conscious. At my skinniest, I was in the height of my reenacting decade. I took great pride in having a 25″ waist. I could hide my big butt and pretend I had more cleavage than I did have (thank you, corsets).

Then I began working full time and my eating habits changed. I was severely depressed and I started gaining weight. I think I gained 30 pounds in one year. That was hard for me mentally and emotionally. Physically, I also felt really crummy. My pain levels were rising and it wasn’t until a few months after I got married that the pain leveled out. I started working out, as much as I could, and I vowed away any and all scales. I had to focus on feeling better more than looking good.

“Focus on feeling better” became my mantra and has been for the past 5 years. I said I was working out, doing yoga, because I wanted to feel better. While yes, this is mostly true, I was also trying to feel better about my body image. A friend once told me that if I stopped picking at food after a meal I would lose weight. I have never forgotten when she told me that. It rang in my head for a long time. Yeah, she was probably right. But how she said it made me feel shamed.

My dad used to make comments about me needing to lose weight after I got married. I never felt like I was allowed to not be okay with my body. I had to have a good body image. That’s what I thought part of being a feminist was. I started a habit that forced me to at least learn to love my body. Every time I look in the mirror I find ONE thing that I absolutely love. I started doing this several years ago and I still do it today. It helped. But then I got pregnant. Then I had a baby. Then I had postpartum body. I lost weight really quickly after having Ender, but it didn’t stay off.

Truthfully, it’s been paying attention to fashion, understanding my body shape, and what compliments it best, that’s made me able to mostly accept my body. I’ve noticed whenever I’m having a flare up with my fibromyalgia I struggle the most with my body image. When I’m in pain, my body becomes severely claustrophobic. I feel like my body betrays me. I hate feeling uncomfortable, I hate feeling out of place in my own body. This is why comfortable clothes are the most important to me. The next is feeling good about how I look (greatly helped by fashionable clothes and makeup).

I wrote this a few days ago to try to understand why I was so stuck in my head. Keep in mind, this is legit truth talk….

“I’m stuck. I’m stuck in my head and I don’t know how to get out. I’m not entirely sure why or how I got so stuck here. There are so many things pummeling me. I have nowhere to hide. I try to hide, try to duck out of the line of fire, but that doesn’t help. I feel lost. I feel like I am barely keeping myself together. Thoughts of feeling like my body sucks. Feeling like how I look is terrible and I keep imagining what people must think of me when I walk by. I want to hide, but I’ve spent so much time working on being proud of who I am, it’s all muscle memory. I walk confidently, I walk knowing my clothes fit well. But then I catch a glimpse in the window and my heart sinks, my footsteps falter. I think I have an unrealistic expectations of how my body looks. I am short. I am rounder. I am heavier than I want to be. I’m trying to change that. I’m trying to adjust my expectations but every time I see a reflection of myself, or a picture of myself, I crumble. I went running on a treadmill two days ago and there were mirrors on either side of the treadmill. My heart sank the more I tried to push myself, the worse I felt and the harder it was to keep going.”

I have been upping my workout routines recently and after two months of that I am starting to see results. I know it takes 4 weeks of consistent working out to personally see results. It takes 8 weeks for friends to start noticing, and it takes 12 weeks of the rest of the world to notice. After writing what I did above, I took some major time to take care of myself. I hadn’t had a good cry in a long time. I talked with a close friend for awhile. And I got rid of clothes that weren’t fitting well and I was nostalgically holding on to. I’m feeling better about things as I’m settling back into working through this current flare up. Sometimes, I have to break down and hate how I look. This is so I can then remind myself of how much I love various things about my look, face, and body. I’ve spent enough time working hard to look in the mirror and love one thing, I can’t not do that anymore.

So here’s to pushing forward. I am a short, round person who is constantly trying to love my body. I am teaching and have taught myself how to angle and position myself for a good picture. I am working on learning what my best angles are.

I learning to not feeling awful when I see a not so flattering picture of myself. I know pictures are not accurate representations of a person. You can’t see movement, the quirks of a person’s nature. I truly do want to feel better and I am learning once again to enjoy food and to eat until I’m full but no more. I don’t want to count every calorie. I don’t want to be mentally weighing myself with each bite. I am stepping on the scale every day nowadays because I want to see if I can lose 10-20 pounds by March. I have a long term goal, I am enjoying my food, my drinks, and I am enjoying exercise. I am not focusing on (not trying to) the set backs I know I will encounter. Heck, if I lose 5 pounds, I’d be completely happy!

Now, I’ve gotta ask; what are the things you do to take care of yourself and to feel good about yourself?

Open the Door

I adore all things fall (except for PSL – yes, slay me now!). But as soon as the weather shifts with the transition between fall and winter, I hit a wall. I start to fall apart physically, emotionally, and mentally. I have flare up after flare up, my depression starts seriously spiking, and it’s a lot harder to keep up with exercise of any kind. Physically, this fall has been one of the worst I’ve had in a while. Thankfully with seeing a chiropractor, I have help so I am not going through this alone.

I’ve been shutting down though. Depression is always very close and its hands are always trying to get a better hold on me. Phil keeps mentioning how I’m just not talking. I think part of it is being an introverted mom to a wild toddler who I interact with all day long. By the time Phil gets home from work, I’m all talked out and have very little energy left for conversing. I feel stuck. It’s that feeling of being pushed under without knowing why. Depression hits when I least expect it and I get pulled under with very little warning. I always keep going. Being a part of Nerium helps a lot. I have a goal each day, and I push myself to hit my individual goals I have for the month. But I don’t want to. I want to curl up, cry my eyes out, and get buried in my Pappy’s hug.

I think part of this emotional downturn has been hugely affected by my physical flare ups. I started running roughly a month and half ago. I felt great! I was out running with a jogging stroller and by myself twice a week. My chiropractor was really happy with my progress, my posture has continued to improved, and I had no negative reactions to running. Then I had one of the worst back spasms I’ve had yet. I felt it coming too. I tried to get an appointment before it hit, but I couldn’t get in. That spasm has put me in a pit and I am still trying to find a way back out. Running is almost excruciating now. If I wasn’t taking EHT, I wouldn’t have any energy left. Thankfully, it is helping keep me going. I know I would feel 10 times worse than I physically do now if I wasn’t taking it.

I don’t even know what else to say. It’s a weird place to be in when you can step outside of yourself and see what’s messing with your head. Even though I can see what’s messing with me, I can’t take care of it or remove it from me. Also struggling with feeling like my body is betraying me is so hard.

I’m glad conversations about depression are being made more “normal.” Being stuck within the depression cycle is debilitating and to go it alone makes it even worse. It helps to have people to talk to and to get hugs from. My best friends were in town last weekend. It was a whirlwind of a weekend but it was so good to have all three of us in the same room! I’m really missing them now. I don’t like being separated by almost 2000 miles.

I’m hoping my body will adjust soon to the colder weather. I don’t think I expected to be thrown off so badly. I have been stuck in my head and am having so trouble trying to get out. I want to talk more with my husband. I want to figure out how to escape the things battling me in my head. They’re heavy, they’re pushing me down so hard, and my footing keeps slipping.

Saying it’s been a rough past month and half is an understatement. Yes, there have been so really good times mixed in. However, for those good times there have been just as many really hard times.

So, here’s to getting better?

Give someone a hug today if you know they’ve been struggling. Depression is so hard to go alone.