Here We Are … Now What?

If I was given a self evaluation in my twenties, I would have labelled myself a feisty survivor.  Someone destined to do great and fantastic things.  I would have painted myself into a finished fantasy series, a fluent second and/or third language speaker, and an accomplished world traveler.  I would have continued my martial arts training, competing and performing, honing my craft.

If I was given a self evaluation a month ago, I would have labelled myself an exhausted zombie.  Someone destined to never have children, travel and die of a horrible disease.  My body is at a broken state that it has never been before, martial arts all but forgotten.  My creativity had reached an all time low.  Even at work, I felt like I was just going through the motions.

Every month, my PMS symptoms kept getting worse, and curiously, started further and further before my period actually began.  I started getting worried when I would get strange nausea and chest/shoulder pains four, five, and seven days before the start of my period.  From January of 2015 on, I was getting these symptoms with increasing intensity almost a week and half before my period.

It was confusing, because each time, even though I track all woman associated happenings, I would become convinced that it must be that my period was going to start.  That was it.  Then it wouldn’t.

In January, the chest and shoulder pains threw me into such anxiety, that I, the stoic who brushed off doctors and hospitals, actually left work early to go see my doctor.  Granted, it was my chiropractor, who when I called for advice, suggested I get myself in to see a doctor and get checked out.

I was having one long anxiety attack on top of all of this.  Sitting in the waiting room, all I could think was “I’m having a heart attack and I don’t even know it”or “Oh my God, I have a pulmonary embolism!”  Thank you very much WebMD.

Well, after an EKG, the doctor informed me that my heart was perfectly fine.  Even my low blood pressure and anemia, which had been present the last time I was at the doctor’s office were not manifesting.  The doctor lightly mentioned the possibility of taking an ultrasound, but told me to just be extra careful and sent me to the hospital for a chest x-ray to rule out lung issues.  This too proved not to be the issue.

I went home feeling anxious and crappy, convinced that I was developing anxiety disorder.

Fast forward to the end of April.  On the last Sunday of April, I wasn’t feeling that great.  I didn’t want to cook, so we ordered a pizza.  Bad idea, but maybe one of the best things that could of happened to me.  Once again, the same pain and nausea returned, but combined with my period symptoms, it was bad enough to keep me up all night, moaning and intermittently crying.  That was what prompted me to go to the emergency room.  I didn’t want to be a sissy (I have a high pain tolerance, so this has always been my M.O.).

This wasn’t normal in any way though.  I remember thinking, “if I don’t have children, this is the closest I will get to childbirth.”

I called the doctor’s office and they told me to go buy a pregnancy test to be sure that I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy.  It came back negative.  Now I was relieved and worried at the same time.  The doctor told me to call the office when it opened in the morning to make an appointment, as it didn’t sound like I needed to go to the emergency room.  I’m thinking that maybe I downplayed how bad it was?

At about 6:45 in the morning I was done and ready to get some relief.  I went to the emergency room.  An ultrasound and IV later, I had been diagnosed with multiple gallstones and a high white blood cell count, meaning my gallbladder was most likely infected. I asked if I could try to use a stonebreaker herbal formula first to try to pass the stones, and the look on the doctor’s face freaked me out.

It wasn’t the usual “you crazy” look that I get from doctors when I try my healthy methods first for medical issues (which by the way have worked the majority of the time).  It was the “I am afraid for you if you leave this hospital” look.  When she explained that this wasn’t just stones, but infection, I was a little freaked out.  They wouldn’t let me leave the hospital, because my gallbladder could rupture and go septic.  Gulp.

My husband told me that  the doctor came out and spoke to him when I was in recovery after the surgery.  He said my gallbladder was full of stones and infected from the inside out.  Whatever “infected from the inside out” means, it does NOT sound good.  Apparently, it was a VERY good thing that I got in when I did.

It hasn’t been that great recovering, but way easier than when I had my ACL surgery.  I’m already experiencing huge relief from many of the symptoms I was experiencing.  I’m eating less, losing weight, and overall, more conscious of what I’m putting in my body.

The best part is that I can feel some of my energy returning.  Not all at once, the way I’d like it to, but a little at a time.

I am more hopeful about the future.

Which leads me to some of the goals I’ve had that seem to have slipped away.

I’m not going to announce these goals to anyone on Facebook, family members, friends, etc.  I’m going to keep them here, in my cerebral domain.  I’m going to work on reclaiming my vocabulary, verbal and written confidence, and positive energy.

Here are my first two current “working on” goals:

First, I’ve been fighting this thing where certain words and names elude me.  That really freaks me out.  I know some of this may have been from all the exhaustion from fighting a failing gall bladder, for what was probably years.  My plan is to make a list of these words/names, and work on making them incredibly familiar to me in the context of situations I experience on a regular basis.

Second, the more secretive goal.  Writing anything has been incredibly difficult for me while all this was going on.  I’m writing this post on one of the worst days of my period, which is way better than any of my best days have been for the past few years.  I haven’t had any caffeine, yet I am still managing to finish this post.  Bravo!

My plan is to take the 1.5 to 2.0 hours that I have before my husband gets home from work every day and start writing again.  No research, no background planning, just writing.  This could be writing my fantasy novel, writing in my journal, or even writing for this blog.

All of this seems rough and my writing feels choppy, but it will only improve and smooth into something palatable if I do it on a regular basis.

And that is what.

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Into the Canyon

Final piece post-production.  HDR Image The Morrow Point Boat Tour – taken in the Black Canyon after climbing a steep stairway/trail for about half an hour and boarding a pontoon boat in the depths of the Canyon. This tour is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  View and vote “like” at: 500px

Into the Canyon

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Otakay


What to do? After hearing about the shooting in Colorado, I was frantic trying to find out if my friends were okay. Upon hearing that they were, I began to think of how easy it could be to try to push all of this out of our minds and do nothing. That isn’t what I want at all. So here I am thinking about ways in which I can come to the aid of those hurting from this terrible incident.
Prayer is big, but prayer without action isn’t enough. One of my friends posted ideas like: sending cards and letters, sending money (of which I’m tapped right now). Any other ideas?

Project #2: Burlap Happy Birthday Banner with Jersey Rosettes

At the beginning of June, my dear little sister, Tabitha, celebrated her 30th birthday.  Her older sisters are some of my closest friends, and as an adult, she has become so dear to me as well.

After receiving the email about the needs for the very detailed party her husband and sisters were planning, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to take the “Happy Birthday” banner concept swirling around my fizzy brain and bring it to reality.  Of course, I used several links, both Pinterest and others, to help me in my endeavors.

I knew that the first thing I would need would be a pattern and I was lucky enough to find an awesome printout pennant pattern on fantastic Chickabug’s blog.  One of the best things about this pattern is that it has four possible size modifications.  I cut the triangle down to the 6″ size and taped it to some cardboard scraps that I’ve been saving from our moving boxes (knew these would come in handy).  I carefully cut around the triangle with some very sharp scissors, but you could use any number of effective tools.  When I was done, I had a very sturdy template that could be used for all my pennants.

Banner template

Using a fine tipped sharpie marker, I outlined the pennants on a medium weighted burlap and carefully cut them out.  I was careful to use a burlap weave that wouldn’t come apart as easily.  The next few steps were important for the overall look of the lettering.

First I found a beautiful Celtic font Zilluncial online and downloaded it here.  I played around with it and made it bold at a very large font, can’t quite remember the size, but it was big enough fill up a large space on my pennant.  I printed off the letters in bold black and carefully cut them out.

The bold printed letters before they were cut out.

I traced around them onto paper with a fine-tipped marker, making a beautiful outline of each letter.  Then I practiced making a 3-D effect using this tutorial on How to Draw 3-D letters with the Cavalier Perspective.  Click on a picture to enlarge and see a closer, more detailed perspective.

Practice Sheet 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice Sheet 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice Sheet 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I felt confident of each letter, I traced the outline of the letter onto the burlap and did the 3-D effects by hand.  It ended up better than I could have hoped.

3-D Close-up

I knew I wanted to have rosettes in between each pennant, but after making a few burlap rosettes and trying them out, I didn’t like the look of burlap with burlap.  It was time to try the rosettes using a different material.

I broke out some off-white jersey material I had stashed away and cut some long narrow strips.  It was fun to use the Decorated House tutorial for rosettes on a different material.  After playing with it for a while, I made several small rosettes that worked perfectly.

Rosettes and Pennants

Rosettes and Pennants

It was then I realized that my pennants were going to be too see-through for the lettering to be seen if it was hanging outdoors.  I used a basic black cotton material and cut triangles small enough to be glued onto the back of each pennant.

I cut some long strips of jute and used craft glue along the edges of the triangle, stringing each pennant on the jute and gluing the rosettes in between.

Black Backing

After letting it dry for a while, I realized that the rosettes were weighing down the top of the banner, causing the letters to topple in on on themselves.  My solution?  A little U.S. currency.  I glued one penny close to the bottom of each pennant on the back side … it worked perfectly!

Penny-weighting

I will modify it in the future and put either large rosettes or bows on the ends, but all in all, I think the final product was a success!  We hung it on the hosts’ garage and it went perfectly with the rustic decor for the party.

Happy Birthday Banner

Tab and Hannah

The hosts and their adorable son

The hostess and her precocious daughter

My nephew and his good buddy E, Tab’s niece

Project #1: Tea-stained coffee filter wreath with feathers, burlap bow and flowers

After injuring my knee and undergoing ACL/meniscus reconstruction, a girl has to find a way to keep herself busy on the couch.  This is my DIY Project #1: Tea-stained coffee filter wreath with feathers, burlap bow and flowers.  A combination of tutorials from Designing and Diapers :

Tea-Stained Coffee Filter Wreath

and The Decorated House

How to Make a Flower Rosette

I love the direction I am taking into decorating!

Leaning

Sometimes, we just need someone to lean on. That someone who inspires us and makes us believe, once again, that God has made us capable and talented in so many ways.  In my life, that person has come in so many forms.  My mother, father, sister, girlfriends, husband, and now, Kandee.  Her honesty about discouraging times and her desire to encourage others is overwhelmingly inspiring.  More than anything, I long to get back to the girl that inspires and lifts up.  Sometimes, this can be easy to let slip away.

Recently, someone I know experienced a deep loss. I am just coming out of a depression myself and found it difficult to sit and listen to what my loved one was saying and feeling.  Yet, I love her so much.  Her choice to share herself with me that way is meaningful and a direct reflection of how our relationship has grown over the years.  I sat, listened, silently cried, and worried over her.  This amazing woman and mother needs healing and peace.

There was a time when I would have tried to pretend I understood. I have been through far more than most girls I know.  But this … this isn’t anything I know or can imagine.  There was a time when I would have thought she should get over it, quickly separate herself from it.  The truth is, more than anything, people need to be heard.  People need to be listened to and met wherever they are.  They don’t always need advice or a quick fix.  That doesn’t work.  They don’t always need to immediately try to be better.

“Broken people are like shattered mirrors.  They reflect light more brilliantly and beautifully.” The ever-wonderful Kandee mentioned this on one of her video shares and I know I’ve heard that before.  Today, it really hits home.  Without understanding what pain feels like, it can be hard to touch the lives of people who are in pain or discouraged.

Our pain may not be the same, but it is shared. For a time, all of my reactive anger to being emotionally and mentally abused led me to wonder if I had anti-social personality disorder.  I kid you not … I was really worried about it.  That worry alone should have been the key to let me know that I definitely do NOT have this disorder.  I feel things too deeply, especially when they happen to other people.

Now it is time to be there for the people who really want it and need it. I’m realizing how much my loved ones gave during all of my heart-aches and troubles.  I didn’t have the energy to give back, because it was all being siphoned off by a snarling mountain lion disguised as a kitten.  That mountain lion would rip off my limbs with his silence, his snide insults, his terribly harsh judgments, and then turn around and mew like a kitten when I wanted to leave.

I don’t have time for people who will not be their true selves with me. Instead, I reserve my energies for life, for loving my beautiful friends and family, for letting myself be leaned on by those who need it most.

Former Workout Queen

For those of you who know me well, you know that I thrive on the intensity of sweat-inducing workouts.  Getting on that bandwagon after being off so long can be really difficult.  So Mike and I have agreed to train for a 5K and follow the training schedule in Fitness magazine to help us get ready.  Our 5K of choice?

The NAMI 5K Run for Mental Health!  This run supports the National Alliance on Mental Health … definitely something worth running for!  I am excited to get my husband some proper running shoes and improve our health, while doing something beneficial to others.

Colorado’s Wonders

Back from our trip and I’ve spent countless hours uploading photos to Facebook.  I had a blast and came back rejuvenated and ready to start my school year in a couple of weeks.  Some of my favorites:

View From Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park

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View From Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison #2

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Lookout Point

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Mule Deer at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

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Mule Deer Fawn @ Black Canyon

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Beautiful Morning

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Inside the Black Canyon - Pontoon Boat Tour

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Turquoise Lake Approaching Monsoon Storms

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Me Blowing Kisses to the Two Tallest Mountains in Colorado Before We Left

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View From the Capitol Building in Denver

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Trip Planning is Exhausting!

I am EXHAUSTED from so much vacation planning. Mike and I are doing a pattern of 1 day lots of activities, next day taking it easy, then another day of activities, etc. I’m really excited to see how many free and inexpensively priced activities there are in the National Parks.
So far, weather permitting, we are planning on doing a Tundra Nature Walk in the Alpines, a Bear Lake Stroll, hitting the Holzworth Historic Site, and finally Going on a twilight Ranger Led hike called “A Glimpse of Paradise”, all in Rocky Mountain National Park!
The next day, we are hoping to slow things down and take a Scenic Gondola Ride near Dillon Reservoir. A ski gondola that is!
When we get to the Black Canyon the following day, there are a few scenic trails we have to choose from. In the morning, we plan on taking a ranger led pontoon trip in the Canyon itself.
Then just before we head to Denver, we will hit up Leadville and Turquoise Lake, hopefully visiting the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum and the Tabor Opera House, all the while taking in the great vistas surrounding us as we gaze at the two tallest mountains in Colorado.
This is as far as I’ve gotten with my detailed planning. I’ve got maps, projected times, etc., all the way up to Leadville. Even if we don’t get to do everything, at least we have the info. I can’t wait!

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Days Getting Better

Not only did I hit my 50 fl. oz. water mark for the day, I shattered it and did 60 fl. oz.!! I feel much more alert and the headaches are staying at bay for now.  The water really helped to keep me from overeating today while Mike was at work.  Then in the evening I broke out the tilapia we bought yesterday and made this …

Our Dinner of Tilapia with Potato Crust and Chive Rosemary Oil

As always the requisite salad and/or veggies ... this time salad alone!

I have to say, I made it a little heavy on the oil since I was trying to taper down the serving size.  Next time, I will cut back on the olive oil substantially.  Mike and I also decided we would rather have a few more thinly cut potatoes on the fish, and cut out the potato wedges all together.  Too much potato starch!  I’m beginning to train both of us away from heavy starches.  Instead, we both prefer tons of veggies and salad on the side.

Today Mike and I power walked, but I also added in some Cardio Kickboxing and amped up my good chemicals. I will gradually add in more time and intensity, but I feel good about what I did today.

I didn’t want this to turn into a health and fitness blog.  I’ve had those, but I have to say this is much more cohesive than anything I’ve done before.  My focus on health and fitness at the moment is very necessary.

On a bright note … for those of you who didn’t know that our car engine exploded and burst into flames a few weeks ago, yes, I have been sweating it. State Farm has been really dragging its heels, and messed up our entire contract with them.  We were told that we were going to have to pay 1000 dollars and then some to get back to where we should be, even after they were the ones that messed up.  Well, the Lord knew, because our payout on the junked car will just cover the payoff to Credit Union on the note and … will also just cover that 1000 dollars.

We are also going to Credit Union tomorrow to get a pre-approval on a new car note so we can look for another car.  There is a possibility that we have in mind, so really pray that if this is the car we buy, we can get it quickly.  If possible, we would love to have something in time for our vacation so we don’t have to spend the bucks to rent.

Our vacation in Colorado is literally just around the bend, so I’ve really been working to make sure all our ducks are in a row. I’m excited!  My first road trip with my husband, and our first real vacation together!  I MUST get loads of sleep to get ready!

What was your favorite vacation?

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