In the middle of the health saga, I got an email from my youngest brother, Matt, that simply said,
“I think you need a trip”
I knew instantly he was right. Traveling has always been a great source of inspiration, reflection, and plain old happiness for me. I hadn’t had much of that lately and it was time to schedule something to forward to. I clicked on the accompanying travel deal link he’d sent and turned to my friend/co-worker, Sullivan, sitting next to me. All it took was, “Want to go to Ireland?” and before long, we were off.
I don’t delude myself into thinking anyone wants a play-by-play of our vacation. Instead, I’ll give you short highlights from our three cities.
Overall Impression: Charming and upscale. They spare no expense in Copenhagen! They burn candles at the table, set out fresh flowers, and wear real furs. The food is made with the same touch and tastes incredible.
My Favorite Thing: This meal. Smorrebrod: An open face sandwich paired with homemade schnapps.
Also, biking through the city.
Overall, if I had to pick one favorite spot from the trip it would be the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Standing on the edge gave me exactly the feeling I flew thousands of miles to experience.
Since it was winter we had the cliffs all to ourselves. Sure. We were covered in rain, but it was totally worth it. I highly recommend traveling in December over July.
Aside from skipping the crowds, you get to see all kinds of Christmas Spirit! It’s unreal.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
I had such a blast with Sullivan. We turned to each other on several occasions and said, “Is this real life?!”
I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA on here… I thought I’d do some reflections from 2014 and wishes for 2015 to fill in the gap and kick off a new year.
For the past few years I’ve picked a word, or rather, a word has picked me, to describe the year. I don’t usually do anything with the word except notice and smile at how well it fits the people, situations, and feelings I’ve experienced. This year, I thought I’d share 2014’s theme word on the blog- Peace.
At first glance, peace is a strange pick for my 2014 because it was anything but peaceful from the outside. I moved, ended a relationship, and finished final edits on the book while battling a health issue. In the words of my counselor, “It’s too much.”
Yet in the midst of lots of crazy, peace forced it’s way in to my life in more ways than one.
The quickest version I can spit out of what happened is that I was feeling bad for a long time- extreme fatigue, confusion, hair loss and cold… always cold. In June, my blood doctor (that’s what I call her) checked my counts and immediately started me on iron infusions three times a week. These were rough in that they took three- four hours and the medicine knocked me out, sometimes for the rest of the day.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My general doctor found a tumor and recommended surgery. The first two surgeons I met with didn’t think they could remove it without messing up things in my funhouse. (Meaning I wouldn’t be able to have children in the future). I met with several surgeons and finally found one that I trusted.
Which was good.
Because an MRI he ordered came back and the tumor looked odd and possibly like cancer. He decided to do a more invasive surgery right away. The next day my blood count had fallen all the way back down to my pre-infusion levels and I got a picc line put in that I wore for the next couple of months. I went in for surgery the following week and thankfully it all went well. They were able to remove everything, keep the funhouse in tact, and there is no cancer. I was off from work recovering for a month and continued iron treatments. I got my picc line out in December and have resumed a normalishhh, slower paced life.
2014 was definitely a strange year for me. I’m still discovering and piecing together it’s significance. I learned and grew in several new ways and in no particular order, I’d say the following:
I learned was forced to have patience. I used to go to the doctors once every three years. Once I started going every day, sometimes twice a day, it took over my life. You sit and wait, freezing. Then they call you into another room. To wait. And freeze. In a paper gown. The doctor eventually comes and you are no longer the smartest person in the room, even when the topic is you. You try and remember half of what they say and focus on not crying. You wait again for results and an open appointment slot and move slowly forward on in your journey. I had to learn to trust others and get on their schedule. It felt unnatural…but once I gave in, it was sort of peaceful and I grew to enjoy my new pace.
I learned to do less. My brain wouldn’t work most days, either because of low iron or medication. I had to be ok with simply doing less. It wasn’t easy at first but it was a good opportunity to let go. Since I didn’t really have a choice, this, too, eventually felt peaceful.
I was reminded that my future is not up to me. It was rough thinking about the possibility of never having kids, wondering what surgery would be like, and envisioning battling cancer next year. It was over the top and I discovered there is actually a peace at work when you are in the midst of chaos. It turns out when there is nothing for you to control- no details you can handle, no idea what to even begin worrying over… you just let it all go. For the first time, I truly felt like everything was completely in God’s hands and it was oddly a nice release.
I am extremely grateful and impressed by doctors and nurses. I am a floored by modern medicine and how freaking smart people are. With all its needles and surgery and pills and ways of healing- it’s like magic. I think there’s a time and place for natural remedies and I hate how it’s become an either or conversation…. Im glad we have access to both.
I became thankful for my own health and healing. I made a lot of friends and have extended family members who are fighting far more serious health battles than my own. Their tests don’t come back with good news, their treatments don’t always work, and they haven’t yet recovered. It makes me very sad, and sometimes guilty. I don’t understand how God makes these choices. It’s a heavy, heavy burden and I have a newfound respect for people fighting for their lives. While feeling the effects of the actual illness, it’s exhausting scheduling appointments, filling out forms, paying bills. It’s a full-time job getting well.
I let go of trying to be cool this year. Not that I really was ever under the impression I was succeeding at it before, I just learned there’s an identity shift that takes place when you are sick. You used to see yourself as healthy, active, and young, and then all the sudden you are no longer all those things. It’s humbling and often embarrassing owning your new limits. It was hard to admit to others and to myself that I was broken. You try impressing a first date wearing sterry strips and a picc line. You’ll feel positively geriatric when you have to ask them to walk slower, sit on a bench, and ignore the fact that you’re about to pop a narcotic. … I had to let a lot go.
I learned I am more loved than I imagined. I love my friends and family, but still put the expectation on myself that I need to give back to them. I guess deep down, I viewed it as a conditional love. It’s a two-way street and I have to make an effort to earn and keep them in my life. This was a time in when I clearly had nothing to offer anyone and it was uncomfortable. I remember a moment in the hospital while three friends were visiting and I couldn’t stay awake. I fought hard to keep my eyes open, feeling terrible they’d come all the way to see me. Right before falling asleep, I saw their faces and I could tell- they didn’t care. They truly didn’t. They weren’t visiting me to get something from me. They weren’t expecting anything out of me at all. They came to give to me, plain and simple. That moment, and several like it after, gave me peace. I try to wrap my head around the idea that God loves me know matter what I do for him… but it still feels like I have to do a lot for him most days. My friends and family were a tangible picture of that perfect and unconditional love this year. There’s peace in knowing you are loved NO MATTER WHAT. You don’t always have to earn it. You don’t always have to be in a place where you can reciprocate it. This is wild to me! I don’t think I’ll ever get over the love I received during this time. The meals, visits, carried out trashcans, texts, phone calls, cards, flowers… I still can’t even believe it.
So what am I taking in to 2015? So far this:
It’s a wonderful thing to let go. It’s peaceful when you throw up your hands and realize you can’t do it all, and you don’t have to. Crap is going to happen, and when it does, you’ll get through it. God prepares you and gets you through. He uses loved ones, strangers, and experts. You learn, you grow, and you’ll be glad it happened at some point. I think I’m actually getting better at knowing this truth in the moment. I am excited for what’s coming in 2015, and I know there’s a lot of work ahead for me…but I want to somehow hold on to my newfound peaceful pace.
What about you? Any reflections or hopes? I’d love to hear.
Dec 8-The last night I had to coordinate my outfit with an IV…. I don’t miss the challenge.
Today did not start out as one of my best. After cramming in some work at the office, I rushed out to get my uterus shot. I think the doctor needed its picture taken, or something tested. I’m not totally sure. I was more focused on pretending I didn’t see the needle instead of gathering details.
That’s how the day started.
While leaving the doctor’s office, my friend Amy, who happens to be one of the new writers coming out on the blog and a contributor in my book, sent me a screen shot of Who’s Picking Me Up From the Airport on pre-sale at Barnes&Noble.com! Naturally, I freaked out! I had no clue it was out there and a real live thing! I replied to Amy, “Thank you for sending!! I really needed some good news right in this moment.”
I had intentionally scheduled some playtime with my niece directly following my appointment because I knew she would cheer me up. It’s ok to emotionally use kids in these situations, right? When I got there, my brother and I went online to see the book for ourselves. There it was! We were super excited and he Instagrammed a picture.
Eventually I left to meet my friend Linnsay for dinner and lost track of time catching up. Leaving the restaurant, I looked at my phone and it was blowing up! Me and my sore uterus had more love and support notifications from friends and family members than we knew what to do with! I couldn’t believe people would take the time to share the news. I can’t begin to tell you what it meant to me. THANK YOU to those of you who spread the word and celebrated with me tonight!
Like many of you, I am recharged by the outdoors and am grateful I got the chance to get away to the Sierras this past weekend. Far from cell service, traffic, and a crazy schedule, I slowed my thoughts and took in God’s creation. It had been far too long since I’d lost my breath over stars, the freezing temperature of a lake, or power of the rain and wind. I know these experiences are gifts, but when you’ve gone without, they can also feel like needs. John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I agree. I needed to come home with chapped skin, knotted hair, and a little pee on my shoes. I needed the reminder that for all man’s accomplishments, nothing has come remotely close to matching the beauty God has created.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” Psalm 19:1
It’s the second part of my challenge! If you missed the first part, read here.
Day 16: My friend Keturah joined me for the first time today! Also, I’m sooooo tired. All the time.
Day 17: I’ve figured out Newton’s strategy. She comes late to every class. I do mean every. She only grabs part of her equipment, and since it’s kept in the back next to the good spot, when we go to stretch she goes for her equipment and then stays in the prime spot! #Genius #Evil #Imontoyou
Day 19: Pure Barre now feels like a habit. Working out has gone from an “if” question to a “when” question. They say 21 days makes a habit and for me, it’s proving true. I can tell my muscles need a break but I’m determined to make it to day 30.
Day 20: My friend Amy tried out PB for the first time, along with Heather and Jody!
Day 22: The 30 day challenge has meant I’ve had to schedule everything else around class. So far, this has been mildly annoying. Today it became very annoying when my brother and sister-in-law invited me to stay with them and their friends for free in a Vegas suite! It worked with the fireman’s schedule. It worked with mine. Oh wait, no it didn’t. I can’t leave the state or be gone for longer than 23 hours b/c I have to “work out.” I AM NOT THIS GIRL.
Day 23: Guess who cut me off in the parking lot? You guessed correctly. Newton.
Day 25: I’m enjoying the challenge. It’s been hard at times, but I’ve loved feeling fit and making it part of my life. The instructors work with you and push you to not give up. (Even when you’re begging to take your own life;) Also, the girls who come regularly look amazing…it’s good motivation. My plan after the challenge is to take a day or two of rest and then continue going 5-6 days a week.
Day 26 Today I learned the hard way that Pure Barre and wine do not mix. A friend came over while visiting from San Francisco and we had wine with our lunch. Nothing crazy. An hour later, I discovered that blood circulation is quite real and quite powerful. Never again.
Day 27 The natural conclusion is that I have somehow ended up in an alter universe episode of Seinfeld and Newton is my Newman. Today, she forced me to hold the bathroom key for her. Just put it in my hands and walked off without a word. As I stood there, holding the key in disbelief, my annoyance turned to slight admiration. Does she have special powers? Does she always get her way? Tell me your secrets!!!
Day 30 (Text Exchange)
Fireman: LAST DAY OF PURE BARRE!!! I’m so proud of you!
Me: Thanks!! It’s true!… I actually feel kind of sad, though. Haha …Somewhere along the line I started looking forward to the Pure Barre part of my day! I don’t want to take tomorrow off… Never thought I’d say that!
(Ted is a fictitious name for a very real Christian friend of mine, age 30)
Hope you are well! I enjoyed our conversation about Tinder the other day and thought it might make for a good post. In a nutshell, you think it’s superficial and leads to hook-ups. I think I met an amazing fireman, who happens to be the best guy I’ve ever dated, thanks to Tinder.
(For those of you readers who don’t know what Tinder is, it’s a free phone app where you have one chance to view 5 photos, age, and general location of a person. You have to immediately decide if they are attractive or not. If the attraction is mutual, you then have the opportunity to text through the app and start a conversation. At any point, you can easily block a person forever.)
(If you are a single female with any reading retention skills, what you’ve learned is “THERE ARE FIREMEN ON TINDER.” If you have any life skills, you have stopped reading this blog and are busy signing up for Tinder)
Back to you, Ted!
So you are not pleased with Tinder and don’t think it’s the kind of thing a Christian girl should do. Here are my thoughts.
I’ve read a few blogs that feel Christians should not go on Tinder. One blog I read said, “Tinder says sex is disposable…and is reducing people to looks.”
To this I’d like to say, RELAX. Stop weirdly reading into things. Tinder isn’t good or bad. It isn’t saying anything. It’s like money, power, or sex. Sometimes we humans use these items for good, and other times for bad. You don’t have to use Tinder as a hook-up app, but you can if you’d like. You don’t have to only try to talk to the hottest of hot people. It’s up to you. And let’s be clear, people can use others for hookups and be extremely superficial in how they date at church just as easily as they do online. Personally, I found it much easier to spot and avoid these types on the app than in real life, too;)
I’m assuming it’s the idea that you only decide to move forward with a person based on pictures that has you concerned. People refer to this as a game of “Hot or Not.” This is actually one of my favorite features of Tinder. Why? There is a word for people we connect with but are not attracted to- FRIEND.
Friends are great.
Friends are not for dating.
If you think dating is superficial, take it up with God. He created the whole attraction system.
Personally, if I somehow found out that someone I was dating said or thought something along the lines of, “I wasn’t attracted to you at first, but I liked your personality and pushed through.” I’d be hurt and embarrassed. I would certainly not be impressed or proud of him.
A few Words About Why it Worked For Me…
Fast, Free & Fun.
Tinder is my only experience in online or non-traditional dating. Taking on sites like Match and eHarmony felt like too big a step and a lot of work and money. I think Tinder is a baby step that feels easy to try.
I liked that Tinder didn’t feel like a big deal. It was funny and entertaining. I understand and support people who prefer the serious and intentionality that sites like eHarmony and Match can provide. People simply don’t take Tinder as seriously and that will frustrate some. For me, this was a strength. Tinder was something easy to try for a few days. A Huffington Post article said, “People don’t think of Tinder as online dating, they think of it as a game.” I think Tinder draws in a new crowd of daters the other sites weren’t reaching and I’m glad both option types exist.
Uniquely, Tinder feels most like how dating works in the real world. People compare it to a digital bar or coffee shop for a reason. If you are attracted to someone, you still have to approach him or her, or respond when they approach you. In every dating scenario, it takes more than physical attraction to get something off the ground. With Tinder you have to have some kind of spark or connection when you talk via the app or it goes nowhere.
No one knows anything about you on Tinder. Not your job, school, hobbies etc. I liked that when I went on my first date, it felt like a real first date. We didn’t show up for that first meet up with a whole profile on each other. Instead, we had to take get to know one another’s likes and dislikes over time like in traditional dating. It felt like a very “normal” first, second, and third date.
Deciding to online date is a thing. It just is. Every unmarried person I know thinks about whether they will or will not online date. Is it worth the effort? Am I ready to admit I’m online? Is it giving up? Are my kind of people on there? Personally, I think everyone should be encouraged to do what they feel fits them without judgment.
I’m not saying Tinder is for everyone. I was on it for a few days and met someone. And while that won’t happen to everyone, according to ABC News, it has led to more than 15 million matches and Cosmopolitan says over 1000 engagements. It really is working for some people beyond the superficial hook-up. Many of my friends are on it and are encouraged by all the prospects. Browsing all the guys posing with tigers, in handstands, and embarrassing selfies is a delightful bonus.
Finally, if you’re like me, deep down you don’t want your love story to be that you met your someone online. I get it. I’m a writer for goodness sake. Did I go on Tinder expecting a serious relationship? No. Was it fun and worth it? Absolutely! From our first exchange, he stood out and there was a spark. It was fun and exciting and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve had lots of great meet up stories in my life. I’ve met someone on an airplane, while traveling abroad, and even once while buying matching humidifiers during cold season. But guess what? All those great meet up stories had bad endings. The great meetings were never helpful indicators of how the rest of the relationship would go.
At this point, I’m way more interested in meeting the right person and creating a great life story together. That’s the important story.
Whatever you do, I wish you all the best and a bit of luck.
Pure Barre is an incredible workout I was introduced to two years ago by my friend Amy, who teaches at a studio up in Seattle. I’ve been going back in Orange County since, sometimes 3-4 days a week and sometimes not at all. Don’t get me wrong- I love it! I just also love making excuses not to work out and it is on the expensive side. When my local studio offered a deal- go 30 days in a row and get a month free, I considered it. When I realized summer was here and I could no longer hide my winter sins behind sweaters, I knew it was the right thing to do.
You can read the details on Pure Barre’s methods and philosophy. Just know you work out until you shake and it burns and you can’t handle it anymore! Their motto is, “lift. tone. burn.” And it does. I can’t say enough about the results and the talented instructors at my local Pure Barre studios in Newport Beach and Mission Viejo.
Day 1 This is the beginning… I’m gonna die. The only thing I’ve done for 30 days consecutively is drink coffee, and Pure Barre is no cup of tea. (Does that joke work?? I’m not sure.)
Day 2 The thing is, I felt so proud of myself for working out yesterday that it seemed oddly cruel to go again. Already, if it wasn’t for the challenge, I would have skipped. I’m coming off a pretty long break and having to start all the way at the bottom. I can’t make it through parts of the routines that I used to be able to do:(
Day 4 My BFF Heather joined me and tried out PB for the first time! Having her there made all the difference.
Day 7 I do not own enough proper yoga clothes do to this every day. I do not own enough money to purchase said proper yoga clothes.
Day 8 This lady, I’ll call her Newton, totally broke studio etiquette! Since I like to workout in the back left corner, I arrive 20 minutes before class to secure my spot. WELL, Newton strolled in ten minutes late (that’s a solid 30 minutes after me btw) and during a stretch, dropped her equipment in the, no joke, TEN INCHES between me and the back wall. I tried to stay in my spot and she gave me attitude about not giving it up. Killed my whole workout.
Day 9 Nothing motivates like results! I already notice improved muscle tone, particularly in my legs and I can now make it through the 90 second plank during warm-up. Yay!!:)
Day 10 I figured out, while putting my hair up for class, that my part is actually amazingly better going right than left. My whole life has been a lie.
Day 12 Jody tried out PB with me today! She loved it as well!
Day 14 Newton strikes again! Unbelievable.
Day 15 Heather has been coming every day since signing up! I used to keep to myself in class, but with a wingman, we’ve managed to make a few new friends. You know how it goes at these places- there are the people who seem to belong, and the rest of us who fake it. I’ve been coming off-and-on for over a year, but truly committing myself has made all the difference in this area. I totally feel at home now.
It’s been too long… As I berated myself for the hundredth time for never blogging, the fireman suggested I just start and not worry about coming up with something amazing. Then he sent me a blog idea- an entire blog devoted to coffee! I’ve reposted her Coffee vs. Tea post below:)
Will this post change your life? Ehhh..probably not. But it’s fitting since I’m starting at the beginning. What gets me out of bed every day? It’s not family, love, God, or my passions. I hopefully live for those things, but truly the one thing that gets me up is coffee. In my head, I make the same deal every single day- if I get up, I can have coffee. It’s my one tried and true habit.
I try to make it at home to save money, but some days end up at Starbucks to save time. At which point I regret my decision and silently curse the folks in front of me ordering decaf lattes, or worse- frappacinos. Don’t they understand 6am-9am is about survival? This isn’t Treat-Yourself-Time. It seems reasonable that they should be allowed in past 10am.
Anyway, below are the benefits of drinking both coffee and tea. Don’t you just love anything that tells you your daily vice is good for you?!
P.S. My favorite mornings are when the fireman surprises me on his way home from shift with a coffee delivery.
A little birdie, by the name of Courtney, told me her family uses a margarita recipe from none other than Matthew McConaughey. I figure I trust him with my abs, why not with my drinks? He calls it the Just Keep Livin’ Margarita.
Ice 1/2 cup tequila 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1/4 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier) 1/4 cup citrus soda (recommended: Orangina) 1/4 cup tonic water 2 tablespoons cranberry juice Lime wedges, for garnish
Fill 2 lowball glasses with ice. Divide the ingredients, except cranberry juice, evenly among the glasses, and stir to combine. Top each drink with a splash of cranberry juice, garnish with lime wedges, and serve. (Recipe serves 2 margaritas)
One of the best ways to celebrate Easter is finding a new dress! Shopping for one with my mom is my favorite tradition. It should probably be church, or family dinner, or something of that nature. But it’s not. It’s always been about the dress for yours truly. And besides, I feel it should count for something that I’m putting in so much effort for the big day.;)
There are lots of good ones out there this year! Here’s a few of my window shopping favorites:)
Whatever you celebrate the day in, I hope you feel loved and beautiful!