Family comes in many forms. There’s the family into which we’re born and the ones into which we marry. There’s also the family we choose.
Most of my adult life, I’ve found myself drawn to people whom I call family, though we share no blood connection. Instead we are bonded by something stronger, a love of choosing, not obligation.
My chosen family has held me up when I thought my life was ending. They held my swollen hands as we learned of my diagnosis, and have walked by my side all through this life with chronic illness. They have watched Scotty and I fall in love, and have celebrated each memory with us these past five years. They will be the ones at our sides this summer when we make our promises to each other, and they will be the ones dancing into the night with us afterwards.
My chosen family are angels who make dreams come true, who make the impossible possible. They hold me up when I’m sure I can’t stand on my own, and have shown me just how strong I really am. They answer midnight text messages and phone calls, and have held me over the miles as we mourned together. They are the sisters and brothers and surrogate mother I never knew I needed until they came into my life. And now I know I could not live without them.
I will always love the family into which I was born, and the family into which I am marrying, but this family of my heart? They are my heart, always.
I’ve been pretty absent around these parts lately. Life simply has not been wanting to play fair. It seems as soon as one thing eases up, ten more plop into my lap.
We’re still trying to get a handle on some new health matters, and that’s been my primary focus lately. It’s also been the primary trigger of stress lately. I feel as though I’ve been kicked into hypochondriac mode. Every new symptom brings concern. Is this related? Should I call the doctor? What if it’s not a big deal? What if it’s a really big deal?
I’ve been reduced to spinning circles within my own mind.
And honestly? I’m pretty bored with this mess.
I want to go back to how things were a few months ago. When I was only worried about the usual things, bills and such. I want to have a break from this added pressure, and just go back to the usual amount of stress.
Which is hardly something one wishes for, right?
But it’s true. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m overwhelmed with the constant onslaught of drama, problems, and stress.
Anyhow, I promise you this:
I’m ready to get things back to normal. So I’m going to do what I can to help it get that way. And I suppose that means letting go of some of the stress, any way I can.
After spending New Year’s Eve playing cards and games with my fiance and one of our good friends while our dogs played and hid from the fireworks, I spent a chunk of New Year’s Day in the ER with some odd symptoms. Muscle tremors, shooting pains, and random numbness throughout my left arm/elbow/hand. Turns out I’m fighting a harder RA flare than I knew, and this was just another manifestation of that. They fitted me with a sling to keep the arm elevated and told me to go home, take my pain meds and…REST.
Anyone else hate being told to rest all the time? No? Just me?
Anywho, this morning I was getting caught up on blogging and showing some of my blogger peeps some love, and I found this on Tamara’s site. And I thought, “Yes, I need to do this!” So here you go, loves, my 2014 in review, and some hopes for 2015.
What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Got our adorable doggy, the first pet Scotty and I’ve had together.
I started Remicade infusions for RA treatment. I’ve never had any sort of infusion before.
Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did, and I will! For 2015, I want to focus on living better. I want to spread kindness and joy and do my part to make the world a better place.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few of my dear friends blessed us with babies this year. Rebecca, Crys, and Fallah all had adorable bundles of joy ❤
Did anyone close to you die?
Not anyone I know personally, but the loss of Robin Williams touched me deeply. I grew up with him, and it breaks my heart to know the world is missing his genius.
What countries did you visit?
Sadly, none. We’re hoping to visit Canada later this year.
What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A blender. A yard for our doggy to run and play.
What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?
I don’t have a specific date, just little snippets throughout the year that make me smile. The look of joy on my fiance’s face as he played his music again. My son and fiance exploring the space museum together.
My doggy running through the tall grass at the dog park. Game nights with my fiance. Nights at Denny’s with Kristen and Seth. Civil War on the big screen. Evenings with Cathy.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Following my dream of being a writer. It involved more than just sharing my words here with you. I put myself out there more and faced my fear of rejection. I hope to continue this in 2015 and maybe finally finish a book.
What was your biggest failure?
This question really stumped me. I think as long as you continue to learn from your mistakes, nothing is a failure. As for me, I’m still learning.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Still rocking the battle against my autoimmune disorders. I was also diagnosed with TMJ, and am awaiting an appointment with a oral maxi-facial specialist to determine our treatment plan. I also had a bout with chemical poisoning. Joy.
What was the best thing you bought?
I honestly can’t think of anything right now. Does the cheesy popcorn I’m calling my lunch count?
Whose behavior merited celebration?
My fiance, who continues to be by side and hold my hand as I walk this path.
Where did most of your money go?
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Time with my son.
Planning our wedding. Making a new friend. A visit from Kristen and Seth.
What song will always remind you of 2014?
Foo Fighters Something From Nothing
Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Happier Thinner or fatter? Thinner, though I still have a ways to go. Richer or poorer? About the same, I guess. Scotty did get a raise, but those bills keep coming and they’ve just increased our rent, so…
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Living. Chasing dreams. Crafting. Learning new things.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Hurting. Being stressed and anxious.
Did you fall in love in 2013?
I fall in love with my fiance every day. I fell in love with our doggy when we first met him and knew he needed to come live with us.
How many one-night stands?
None. Or 365 with the same man, however you want to look at it.
Who were your best friends?
All of my friends are best. Kristen and Seth. Nolan and Courtney. All my girls, the sisters of my heart. Kerry. Cathy ❤
What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
I continued to share my stories. The crew helped me launch the Spoons 4 Spoonies website so we can continue to offer support to those battling chronic illness.
What were your favorite TV programs?
Once Upon A Time. Just about anything true crime related. Sonic Highways.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I try not to hate anyone, it’s so bad for your own well-being. But there are a few people I wouldn’t mind never seeing or hearing about again.
What was the best book you read in 2014?
Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon, the latest book in the Outlander series.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
Sonic Highways by the Foo Fighters. I loved getting to watch how each song came together on their HBO series, and then feel in love with their songs. I’ve always been a FF fan, but this made me love them more and in a new way.
What did you want and get?
A lap desk. A mellow and laid back Thanksgiving holiday. A new phone with a better camera (Thank goodness for Verizon’s free phone offer!). Time with my sisters.
What did you want but did NOT get?
Time ALONE with my sisters. A money tree. A new body.
What was your favorite film of this year?
Uh… I can’t remember seeing many movies this year… Sad story.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32 and spent the day with my son and my fiance and some of our dear friends. We went bowling, which was something I didn’t think I could do with my RA hands, but I did it and it was awesome! We also had pizza from my favorite place, and cupcakes, which makes everything awesome.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
What kept you sane?
My writing. Therapy. My fiance. Our dog. All of our lovely friends who popped in to keep me trucking along ❤
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sam Heughan, the guy who plays Jamie Fraser in the TV version of Outlander.
Colin O’Donoghue aka Captain Hook
What political issue stirred you the most?
I was in an uproar over a few things, others just broke my heart. I’ll say this: I stand for equality for all, and for a safer world for our children.
Who did you miss?
My grandmother. My brother. Misty. My daughter. I always miss my son when he’s not here with us. All of my friends who live near and far, whom I never get to see often enough.
Who was the best new person you met this year?
Kerry! She’s become a dear friend and a lovely support system. Also, with whom else can I sit and reminisce about the 80s?
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Sometimes you have to just let things go. Accept that you need to put yourself first, and set boundaries, even if the things you have to let go are people you love. You can’t help others at the detriment of yourself.
Quote that sums up your year:
Thank you all for following along this past year, and for joining me for this little walk down memory lane. Here’s wishing 2015 is full of all the best for all of us! Happy New Year!
Today I went back to that post and, shockingly, I realized I had actually worked on these goals all year, even though I thought I had forgotten about them.
Maybe I didn’t do something each day to make myself feel better, but I did make it a regular practice. I dressed up more often, and found some makeup my skin could tolerate. I broke my jewelry out of retirement and tried a few new hairstyles. I finally settled again on an A-line bob which requires pretty minimal effort to look good. Sure, there were still jammie days, but there were also more days where I looked like my old self. Not too shabby there.
While I didn’t set a strict schedule for myself, I did settle into a nice routine to make the best use of my time and energy. I also created a planner for myself, which helped keep me organized when it came to doctors appointments, as well as scheduling blog posts and brainstorming ideas. This was a great change for me, and I’ll be using my planner in 2015 as well.
I think I made a lot of strides this year in living life while still managing my health. I started therapy, which is helping me work through many of my mental health triggers, as well as helping me find new coping tools. I’ve been better about practicing self-care and putting myself first. I cut out a lot of what was causing stress and chaos in our lives, and streamlined those things I couldn’t cut out completely. I learned how to set boundaries, which has been a huge thing for me. Mostly I’ve learned how to take care of me, all of me, and how taking care of me can help me to live a better life, even with chronic illness.
And last, but certainly not least, I LIVED. I made new friends and reconnected with old friends. I made memories with my son and my fiance. I tried things I wasn’t sure my body could handle, and tested my limits.
I’m proud of all I did this year. As much as 2014 was rough, and my health took some turns, I still accomplished a great deal and I’m very proud of that. I’m looking forward to 2015 and all it has to offer. I know it’ll be great because it will include our wedding, a visit from one of my dearest loves, and more memories with my son.
I hope you all will continue to follow along on this journey with me. I plan on continuing the Living Better series, as well as starting a newsletter. I’ll also share sneak peeks at the wedding planning here, and I’m sure there will be some pics of the big day. There will be more photos and recipes, life tips and stories about my journey and treatment. There will be more guest posts, and I’ll be visiting a few friends myself.
What were your goals for 2014? Did you meet them? What would you like to see happen here in 2015?
If you’ve been here longer than a minute, you know it’s no secret how much I love music.
For as long as I can remember, music has been the glue that holds me together, the muse which releases the words trapped in my mind, the outlet through which I can finally BREATHE.
So maybe then it’s not much of a surprise that I’m marrying a musician.
When I met the fantastic Mr. Scotty (which should be his new stage name, don’t you think?) he might have mentioned that he “kinda played guitar.” For the first six months, I never saw a hint of his guitars. I thought it was a hobby, and didn’t think much other than “that’s cool.” So when he told me he was trying out for a band, I was excited for him, but didn’t have any expectations.
I stood like a fool with my mouth gaping open. Was it truly possible that I was dating this amazing guitar player on stage?! OH MY GOSH I’M DATING A GUITAR PLAYER!
And that’s how I became a groupie. (No, not THAT kind of groupie. I’m only sleeping with the guitar player, thankyouverymuch.)
Scotty now plays with a different group, and it’s been a wonderful four years of watching him live his dream. The passion on his face as he loses himself in a song is nothing short of breathtaking. And though he’s humble and will brush it off if you tell him so, he truly is an amazingly gifted player.
Some girls might dream about dating a musician, and I was no different. To my credit, I can say I was head over heels in love well before I saw him play for the first time. But it sure is a nice perk to get to go out on the weekends and hear the crowds cheer his name and know he is all mine.
I recently saw an article on Facebook titled something along the lines of, “20 Questions You Should Ask Your Partner Before Agreeing To Marry Them.” Since I’ve already agreed to marry Scotty, it seemed a little superfluous to start asking him these questions now, and most of them I already knew the answer to. Mostly because we talked a lot in those early days of dating, and also because I like to be nosy.
Anyhow, it got me to thinking, and I asked Scotty if he’d be willing to interview me for this week’s round of #AskAwayFriday. Shockingly, he agreed. (I was shocked because he’s had a crazy long week at work and tons of stress. The last thing he needs is another project. And yet, I gave him one. Aren’t I sweet?)
So here you have it, the ten questions Scotty just had to know about me. Who wants to lay bets on whether he’ll still want to marry me after he reads my answers?
1. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Oy. I actually have a couple that annoy me equally, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say: People who smack their food while talking. And yes, I am aware your father does this. And yes, he is aware it annoys me. And yes, I know that’s why he still does it.
First, I loved how Thomas answered this one, because I, too, am struck by Tracie’s free-writing about seemingly innocuous things. Second, it’s really hard for me to choose. If they were trying to get to know me, Just One…But So Much More, Who I Am, or any of the Ask Away Friday posts are a great start.
3. What do you consider the best thing (fact/life lesson/moment) that your son has shared with you?
Ooh, breaking out the big guns. Especially since you know how awesome this kiddo is. I’d have to say last summer when he was listening to Linkin Park, and was making connections with their lyrics to the issues currently facing our world, like equality and gun control. For him to have such insight at such a young age…I was blown away. And hopeful. Hopeful that he’ll continue to be such a deep and free thinker, and that he’ll someday use that mind to help change the world.
4. Board games or video games?
While I do enjoy Mario Kart and other games on the Wii U with you, I really prefer board games or even card games. They remind me of my childhood, and of spending time with my grandmother. Also, I’m fairly evenly matched against you when technology isn’t involved 😉
5. What is your favorite holiday, and why?
I love to celebrate, so I really love all holidays. Probably New Year’s is my favorite, though. I love the idea of starting anew, and getting a fresh start. Yes, I probably have made and broken tons of resolutions, but…it’s more about the excitement and the infectious feeling that suddenly anything is possible once again.
6. You have 24 hours to show a friend around our great state of Oregon. If sleep wasn’t required and money were no object, where would you take your friend?
Hrms. Well, it kinda depends on the friend, now doesn’t it? Certain friends have different interests, and Oregon has a little of something to offer everyone. But some basics I think everyone should see:
7. You have been fighting invisible illnesses for some time now, starting with your diagnosis of RA almost three years ago. What do you know now that you wish you had known then?
I wish I had known what a huge and wonderful support system the online spoonie community is. It took me somewhere around six to nine months to stumble across the first chronic illness forums, and (as you may remember) those were months spent suffering without much hope. I also wish I had known that I could question my doctors, request second opinions, and do my own research. I went so blindly in the beginning, and some of those choices have caused damage that cannot be repaired.
8. If someone made a movie about your life, who would you want to play you? And who would have supporting roles?
I would love for Melissa McCarthy to play me. I adore her sense of humor, and I think we kinda resemble one another (she says humbly). As for supporting roles, I think Seth Rogan would be a good you. He’s funny and quirky, which are two things I love about you. Then we could cast Jonah Hill as Seth! And how about Christina Hendricks as Kristen, but mostly because of that gorgeous red hair. And Jerry Stiller could play your dad :p
9. You sang in school choir when you were growing up. If you could sing like any particular vocalist, who and why?
When I was younger, I dreamed of being the next Mariah or Whitney. Now though? I would love to be able to sing and write like Adele. In my grandest dreams, I can sing like Adele and I have a band where I do covers of all my favorite rock songs, in ballad form. Because I’m quirky like that.
10. Your love for Linkin Park is well known. Were you a fan of them before seeing them live in concert, or afterward?
I was a fan of them from the moment I saw them on one of the award shows in 2000, performing One Step Closer. I bought Hybrid Theory and those are the songs I hummed to my newborn child as I rocked him to sleep. I never looked back, either. I’ve loved every album they’ve put out, and seeing them live for my 25th birthday was one of the greatest gifts ever. I would love to see them again, and to get to take you and the kiddo.
Well, Scotty says he’ll still marry me, despite some of my answers :p So yay! Hopefully y’all enjoyed this take on Ask Away Friday. If you’d like to swap questions with me, shoot me an email at email@example.com or check out the Facebook group. Scotty and I are off to enjoy a quiet weekend at home, hopefully curled up with a funny movie and some boardgames 🙂
Yesterday the lovely Dorne over at Putting life into words was sweet enough to pass along to me the One Lovely Blog Award.
I always like meeting new bloggers, and to have them pass along a blogger award is a great treat. The rules of this award say that I must:
1. Thank the person who nominated me.
2. Add the logo to your post.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate seven other bloggers you admire, and let them know on their sites.
So first up, many thanks to Dorne for nominating me. She never fails to stop by and leave a kind comment on my posts, which is wonderfully supportive and greatly appreciated by me.
Now, because of Ask Away Friday, I’m not sure if there are many facts about me I haven’t shared yet. So if y’all know any of these already, just let it slide this one time, okay?
*The song No Rain by Blind Melon has always spoken to me. It is my song. I read books to escape, I love the sound of rain, it is me. (My doggy, however, does NOT love the rain. Clearly, he’s not from the PACNW.)
*If my daughter had lived, I’d have a 5 year old princess right now. There are still nights I dream of her, and wake wishing I could spend the day playing with her.
*I was a picky eater long before IC and IBS caused me to be careful of what I eat.
*I will burst into tears anytime I see video of soldiers coming home. Every.Single.Time.
*If I had more money, I wouldn’t spend it on myself. I’m horrible with a budget, but most of what I spend is on gifts for others. I love showering love on those I care about.
*I’m a firm believer that what’s on the inside is more attractive than the outside. I find myself more attracted to personalities and certain quirks more than any physical type.
*I never thought I would be an advocate. I always dreamed of being a writer, but I thought it would be fiction. I never imagined my life would take these turns, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I take great pride in raising my voice for all of us.
And now to pass the award along to seven bloggers whom I adore.
Tamara from Tamara Like Camera because her photos make me smile and her words speak to my heart.
Dawnie from The Dawnie Project because I’d like to see what seven things I don’t know about her. Because she’s one of the few people I can speak openly to.
Tracie from From Tracie because she is the epitome of lovely and the sister I never had growing up, but have now in her. Because she gets me like most don’t.
Joules from Wonderishmama because her blog is everything I know to be lovely about her, and I want to learn more.
Echo from The Domain Of The Mad Mommy because I know there’s things about her I don’t know…yet. Also because I feel like she needs a smile this week.
Christy from Uplifting Families because her blog is full of lovely advice and tips for mothers and families and that’s something that should be celebrated.
Andrea from Good Girl Gone Redneck because she definitely needs a smile this week. And because of her lovely forethought, I’ve met even more bloggers who are all supporting each other in this wonderful writing group.
Normally I’d be beating myself up over “failing” #NaBloPoMo, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack. Yesterday was a rare weekday off for my fiance. We were hoping to go to the coast, but circumstances kept us closer to home. So we wandered around a few thrift stores and took our doggy to run around the dog park.
Seeing our shy little guy continue to open up more and more was worth so much to my soul. It’s a wonderful feeling to know he’s feeling safer with us each day. It’s such a blessing to be able to give him this life of love, in light of the struggles in his past.
So here are some photos of my little doggy to make you smile.
For as long as I can remember, Sundays have meant football.
When I was younger, I think us kids kinda watched or were left to our own devices. Either way, football was on in the living room and you were quiet unless you were yelling at your team.
As a teen, I could often be found huddled on the couch, rooting for my Dallas Cowboys with my nose buried in a book. As a young mom, my son was often rocked to sleep with my cursing the refs under my breath.
Now, Sundays still mean football.
My fiance and I will often plan around-the-house activities for Sundays, knowing that we’ll have the games on in the background. Our dog has even fallen into the routine, he knows his Sundays are spent curled on the couch with my fiance while Scotty works on various projects and watches his fantasy team scores.
I spent today working on the blog while watching San Francisco and New Orleans battle it out. Edits were made while I rooted for Brandin Cooks (a former Oregon State player) and his fancy footwork. I answered emails while watching the highlights of my Cowboys who are over in London today.
I’m not entirely sure how the first week of November is already behind us, but here we are. This week was packed with all the usual kinds of stuff, with an added bit of family stress. I’ve also been participating in #NaBloPoMo, so it’s been a flurry of activity around here.
This week I decided to forego swapping with a partner, and instead share with y’all ten random tidbits about me. Maybe even things that haven’t been shared in the Ask Away Friday posts.
1. I argue with my TV. Usually it’s when I’m feeling my worst and I’m grumpy with it, but honestly, I can be found lobbing snarky comments at TV shows, commercials, and news programs fairly often.
2. I love lists. To-do lists or shopping lists, it doesn’t matter. They soothe me in a way I can’t really explain. I write and re-write them often. I have a running household to-do list on a white board in our kitchen/dining room area. I have a notebook where I keep a personal to-do list and a list of working blog post ideas. I have a separate notebook full of lists for the wedding. I love making playlists of music for myself and my friends. I love lists.
3. I’m a lightweight. I used to be able to drink any of my guy friends under the table in college. Now? One glass of wine and I’m a giggly mess. Most of that is due to the fact I rarely drink anymore. With all the medicine I take, it’s not wise to mix a lot of alcohol. And honestly, there’s not a lot of joy in going out to get trashed anymore. Gah, I sound old, right?
4. I have made it to the ripe old age of 32 without ever having smoked pot. If you knew me in high school, this would shock you. I dated a pothead, all my friends smoked it…I just was too chicken. I still drank like a fish and smoked cigarettes, but just couldn’t bring myself to try pot. And now that it’s legal in my great state, I still don’t see it in my future, not even when some have said it could help with my pain. Guess I’m still a chicken…
5. I’m terrified of heights. Bridges, Ferris wheels, skyscrapers…NOPE. I once had a panic attack while in stuck in traffic in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. For as long as I can remember, they’ve scared me. The funny thing? I love roller coasters. Bizarre, I know.
6. I don’t like rats, mice, ferrets, frogs, snakes, lizards, or anything else close to them. I know some people consider them pets, but I just can’t. They creep me out and make my skin crawl.
7. I have nieces and nephews I’ve never met. I don’t know their names or how old they are. Because I have siblings with whom I’m not close, I’m not a part of their children’s lives. There is a part of me that regrets this, but I know it’s really for the best. Sometimes even family is toxic, and we must distance ourselves.
8. I am forever starting things and not finishing them. I have dozens of crafts in varying states of completion, ideas for this blog that have only been outlined, and I can’t tell you how many times I get excited about a new thing only to put it down for whatever reason. Maybe my resolution for 2015 should be to complete some of these things…
9. I don’t like pumpkin anything. Or avocado. I’ll only eat bananas if they’re baked, like in banana bread. The only squash I like is zucchini. All these fall foods everyone is loving right now, and I’m like NOPE. I’m also not a huge fan of chowders. Weird, I know.
10. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, have been since I was little. I’ve loved them when they were great, when they were terrible, and every season in between. I’m not, however, a fan of Romo. I think he’s overrated. And I’ve had about enough of Jerry Jones. I think Michael Irvin is probably my favorite all-time player, though I have a soft spot for DeMarcus Ware. I was pissed Dallas didn’t do more to hold on to him after last season.
And there you have it. Did you already know some of these things about me? Did any thing surprise or shock you?
If you’d like to swap ten questions with me for a round of Ask Away Friday, check out their Facebook group or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org