When life gives you lemons.

Now that I’ve decided to take a semester-long break from grad school in order to focus on my family and myself…I’m more stressed than I was before. Part of the reason I constantly have so much going on is simple. If I’m extremely busy, I have no time to be anxious about anything. If I don’t give myself time for panic attacks, they won’t happen.

Clearly this theory isn’t completely accurate. Anxiety is a constant part of life and panic attacks still happen often- especially since we can’t quite pinpoint an exact trigger for them.

This year has been one of the most difficult of my life. I’ve always told Shaun he will need to put me into a mental health hospital when something inevitably happened to Coby, because I had no clue how to live without him. Honestly, I really don’t. I miss him every single day. I’m lonely. I want to randomly cry but I can usually curb it. Over the past two months I’ve realized how much I used Coby as a crutch. The plan was to never, ever get another dog after Coby. Leroy was all we needed. If you know me, you know that lasted one month. I started to follow some animal rescues on Facebook and while I shared posts of dogs needing homes and showed Shaun how cute they were, nothing really made me want one of them. I just wasn’t ready.

Then one day I logged into AdoptAPet. I have no idea why, honestly. I wanted to see what was out there. After going through a few pages thinking how cute the dogs were, I saw her. She caught my eye and I starred at her photo for a few minutes, but I didn’t click on her photo. “Not ready, dude” I kept repeating. The next day, I did it again, and saw her again. Ignore. Over that weekend I told Shaun about the cute dog I saw and when he asked where she was, I couldn’t even answer because I didn’t know. I logged in. Showed him her photo, and found out she would be out of West Chester, PA. Her name was Joy and she was in a NC puppy rescue.

I filled out the application and heard back a few days later. I had two weeks until I’d be able to get here and I panicked the entire time. Should I change my mind? Am I completely screwing over Coby’s memory? That morning, on the drive to pick her up in West Chester, I asked Shaun 1,000 times if he thought I was making a mistake. “What if she doesn’t like me?…what if I don’t like her?!” When we first met her she was a total maniac. She was running in circles and barking. However, on the ride home, she fell asleep on my lap and I feel in love.

Lemon and I bonded quickly, and honestly, I’m so grateful for her. She’s very much a puppy, and she’s nothing like Coby at all, but my heart needed her so much. The kids love her, Shaun secretly loves her, the cats despise her, and Leroy tolerates her. All is right in our world at the moment.

I’ve known you all along.

Twenty years ago my best friend in the world had moved with her family from Maryland to Delaware. While it’s extremely bizarre to be able to recall things from twenty years ago without issue (I won’t bother saying I’m old, I just FEEL old sometimes), I remember things from that time period perfectly.

My best friend Marie and I spent almost every single day together in fourth grade. It seems like that single year was actually multiple years, but looking back, it was really such a short time. We were basically together 95% of that year. If I wasn’t at her house, she was at mine. Regardless of where we were, we were absolutely singing and dancing to Britney Spears’ first CD. Zero doubt about it. Gosh, I loved her mom. She talked to us about the Beatles and we talked to her about The Spice Girls.

When Marie was at my house we would 100% be walking around the neighborhood, my pet goose, Fluffernutter, waddling behind us.

We went swimming in the bay and talked about our crushes and what we’d be when we got older. I remember not being upset when Marie moved because we would always stay close friends. For a while, that’s exactly what happened! But as you do in middle school, we drifted apart and didn’t talk for years.

When Facebook became a “thing” we added each other and would randomly chat here and there. But a few years ago, we decided to finally get together and hang out. I am so, so, so grateful we did. It’s like no time passed at all. I am so grateful we found each other again. I’m so grateful I’ve gotten to witness her finding her soulmate, Matt. Grateful she’s introduced me to such wonderful human beings, and I’m SO grateful I know her perfect cat, Pumpkin.

The second portion of my interview series is below. Please stay tuned for more!

A: Where did we first meet?

M: We first met in elementary school at Elk Neck! You have a better memory than I do but I knew almost instantly that we were going to be best friends.

A: That’s true! We met on the playground. What has been the biggest challenge in your life so far?

M: That is a hard one! If I am being honest, I think living with anxiety has been the biggest challenge of my life so far. It makes what “should” be easy tasks much more difficult and makes me second guess every single thing I think I know. It’s exhausting (as you know).

A: How did you know Matt was the one?

M: The first time I cooked for Matt, I set off the fancy Nest smoke alarms Maria had just recently installed. They were wailing and yelling at us (SMOKE DETECTED IN THE KITCHEN). I was freaking out, waving a kitchen towel near the smoke alarm, and Matt just went around and opened all the windows. I overcooked the steak (though he’ll swear it was fine), but I knew that he was the one to balance me from that moment on.

A: That’s so sweet. In what way has Matt changed your life?

M: Oh jeez, in what way HASN’T he changed my life? I guess the biggest way he has impacted my life would be the way he has shown me that I am truly worthy of the love people show me. He always makes me feel strong and smart and beautiful. Even when I am questioning everything about myself, he always reminds me that I am lovable, just as I am.

A: What is your biggest pet peeve?

M: Oh my gosh, when Matt leaves his disgusting slippers near our bed or near me on the couch. He used to put them ON THE BED but he kicked that habit quick after a few side eyes from me.

A: What about the world makes you happy?

M: You know, I am so glad you asked this because it is so easy to only focus on the bad. Flowers make me so happy, as do animals of all kinds (specifically fluffy ones). Also, WATER. Get me near a body of water and I am a happy gal.

A: Amen. So, what about the world makes you sad/angry?

M: Injustice makes me so sad and angry. We live in a world that should have so many opportunities for everyone and yet so many are pushed to the side because of greed. I mean, mostly it comes down to how capitalism is garbage and tricks us into thinking that our worth is tied to our productivity.

A: What do you love most about yourself?

M: I like to think that I am an honest and kind friend. I love when I can positively impact the people I love.

A: You genuinely are and you do. Who has influenced you the most in your life?

M: This is going to sound so cheesy but absolutely my mom. Anyone who ever had the opportunity to meet her would tell her how incredibly kind and compassionate she was. I look up to her so much; she is where I gain all my strength and resilience from.

A: Your mom was really the greatest. I loved her. Speaking of love…how has your dog, Crash, changed your life?

M: Well, firstly, he is the most amazing and smiley creature who has ever graced the earth so there is that. Mostly, though, he reminds me everyday that love is something worth living for, even if it is just the love of a stinky little dog.

A: What is the best decision you’ve ever made for yourself?

M: Cutting off people who did not serve me, for sure. I used to be the kind of person who would continue to be friends with someone, regardless of how they treated me. Fuck that! Now I critically analyze my friendships and cut away anyone who is treating me poorly.

A: You honestly encouraged me to do the cutting off I needed to, as well. What is your greatest fear?

M: Honestly, my biggest fear is something happening to my remaining loved ones. If something happened to Carla, Sierra, Maria, or Matt, I would be endlessly devastated. I have lost a lot of important people in my life, I don’t know how much more I could bear.

A: I know there are specific days during the year which make you sad/need a break from life. What are the days that you get excited for?

M: Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year! Not for the original reasons (we don’t celebrate white washed colonial fairytales in our home), but because I get to cook and spend the day with the people I love. Also, pie. I also really love my birthday. It’s a good excuse to spend time with friends and do whatever I want (which is usually eating with friends, lol)

A: What are you looking forward to most?

M: I am so looking forward to growing old with Matthew. I am excited to continue to grow together, build our family, and face the challenges the world throws at us.

A: What is your favorite book? Why?

M: Okay, well, obviously my favorite book is a Harry Potter book. Specifically, the third; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is probably because it touches so much on family dysfunction and building your own community.

A: That’s my favorite HP book too! What is your favorite movie? Why?

M: This one is harder! Possibly Matilda? Possibly James and the Giant Peach? Possibly every Harry Potter movie? I tend to like movies about orphans or kids with dysfunctional families (or both). Foreshadowing, much.

A: Just a little. But those movies are the best. What emotion do you experience the most?

M: Ha. Anxiety. Absolutely anxiety.

A: If you could say one thing for the entire world to hear, what would you say?

M: There is magic in loving yourself fiercely. It is infectious. You will find that when you treat yourself with compassion and kindness, it will spill over into your friends and family as well.

A: Love that. What is your favorite meal to make? Favorite meal to eat?

M: I love making sauce! The whole process of it is soothing to me; the browning of the meat, the slow simmer that fills your house, the way it clings to the ridges on the pasta. Honestly, I love a really love a good plate of barbecue. Brisket or chopped pork, beans, and mac and cheese.

A: Would you rather cuddle 10 puppies or 2 baby sloths?

M: Why would I pick? Couldn’t we all cuddle? There is plenty of room!

A: Sloths are always the answer… anyway. Is there any food you refuse to try?

M: Balut! It’s this Filipino fermented partially developed chicken egg. No way!

A: That sounds horrifically repulsive. Tell me your favorite thing about Matt.

M: He is honestly the most genuine and warm person I have ever known.

A: *cough* other than Alex *cough*

A: Most importantly…Nsync or BSB?

M: N*sync, duh.

Friendship, Parenthood, and Laughs

I hate the preconceived notion in which you’ll lose all of your friends after high school. It’s normal to expect the distance to put a strain on friendships, however, I firmly believe genuine friendships do not require daily, weekly, or even monthly conversation. At this stage in my life it would be absurd to expect me to be able to hold a daily conversation with anyone other than my husband, kids, the woman at the Italian bakery, or myself. With that being said, I am proudly still friends with 99% of the people I was friends with growing up.

Kayte is no exception. I will comment more in a bit on our friendship, but I’d like to give some background on Kayte, from my perspective. I always want to start out with stating she’s a wonderful mother but I’d like to interrupt that statement. While it’s 100% true, she’s not JUST a wonderful mother. She’s so much more than her titles. She’s a fantastic person with the biggest heart. She is so, so strong. Life has thrown her some curve balls and she and her wonderfully hilarious husband, Matt, have come out on top every time. She’s not afraid to be who she is. Having started her own Wedding Planning business, I full intent to hire her once Jude Law realizes he’s my future second husband (sorry, Shauny).

With all of that being said…I’ve decided to start an interview series of the people in my life who have inspired me in different ways. I’ve asked a series of questions in which Kayte answered. Very, very much in depth (kidding…kinda…). I’ve added some commentary throughout. Enjoy 🙂

Where did we first meet?

 The general answer is Elk Neck Elementary, but honestly, I have no idea about the specifics. I don’t know if mom-brain has officially taken over my memory or if it’s just been that long.

Okay, let’s show off my weird ability to remember the oddest things. The first time you and I spoke was when Ty brought me to your “group” at recess in 5th grade. After one of them asked “what is she doing here?” you told that person not to be mean and you welcomed me right in.

What has been the biggest challenge in your life so far?

My pregnancy with Jax – managing the depression (unsuccessfully so) and trying to make the right decision for our family regarding his health. It was absolutely brutal.

How did you know Matt was the one?

 I knew from the start that Matt was different. He wasn’t in the “popular crowd” and he wasn’t a jock, which are the only guys I’d encountered up to that point. Not that there’s anything wrong with those guys, but my mom has always said, “Nerds make the best husbands!” and it’s so true. Matt has never tried to be someone he’s not and it’s honestly refreshing. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was pretty darn close. I can’t remember an exact moment or event where I knew he was the one; I’ve always just felt like he was it, and I was more than okay with that.

Amen, Emmy (Kayte’s wonderful mom). Nerds really do make the best husbands.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Back seat cookers. I have a tendency to cook things on High, always. I’m impatient, plus I often feel like the box says “Cook on Medium/High” just to cover their butts. Typically, things get a little smoky, but as long as it’s not burning, we’re good. Matt has a tendency to reach over my shoulder at the stove and turn the knob down. It grinds my gears. I once lost my shit over it and he hasn’t done it again. Lesson learned.

What about the world makes you happy?

Random acts of kindness. People accepting others. Moms who lift one another up. Honesty. Animals. Wawa Mac & Cheese.

Wawa mac with meatballs on top and Old Bay. Ughhh so hungry.

What about the world makes you sad?

Seeing children who are not taken care of or loved unconditionally.

What do you love most about yourself?

At this exact moment, I love that I am happy in my own skin. This has never been the case before and it may change, but right now, I am so at peace. I am absolutely overweight and I’m nowhere near what I should be, but, I’m so okay with it. Honestly, I struggle most with the fact that I feel like I SHOULD be concerned because of what society says. But I’m not. And that worries me. Oh hey, anxiety, my old friend. 

You’re exactly where you “should be” ❤

Who has influenced you the most?

I don’t know that I can answer with just one person. I feel like I’ve had so many people influence me in so many different ways and in different seasons of my life. It would be hard to pick just one. I know that’s a cop out answer, but I seriously can’t decide.

It’s alright. I know it’s me.

What has been the best decision you’ve made for you, not counting Matt or the kids?

 Hands down, the best decision I’ve ever made for myself is leaving school. My entire life, I always did what was “right” and expected of me, but during grad school, I had a come to Jesus moment, so to speak. I was burnt out, exhausted, at the peak of my anxiety and depression, and so unhappy. I had never taken a moment to really evaluate what I wanted out of life, so I set out to do that. In doing so, I found out that I was in the wrong profession. I found wedding planning, which I fell IN LOVE with, and since then, have made so many wonderful, healthy decisions for myself, including staying at home with my children, which couldn’t have happened if I was still in my old mental state.  Second to this decision is the decision I made to break up with one of my friends. She was toxic and gave me more anxiety than I needed. Don’t worry, Al. It wasn’t you.

OH, I know.

Have you achieved what you wanted to so far in life?

Yes and no. If you asked me even six years ago what my plans were, being a stay at home mom would’ve not been included. I was in school to be a doctor. This was never on my radar. That being said, I am so incredibly happy where I am, which I consider to be a huge achievement. I still have plans. I’m working to get my wedding planning company really moving and I’d love to be able to home school my kids, so I’ve got a lot of work left to do in this life, but I’m ready for it.

Can you describe your very first feeling when you met Rosie?

Oh gosh. How to put into words your feelings when you meet your heart and soul? Rosie was a vaginal birth, but they suspected she swallowed meconium so she had to be whisked off to be checked immediately. Add to that the fact that she didn’t cry and it was a good 20 minutes before I first held her. As soon as she was out, I started sobbing – partly from the excitement, but partly from shock, I’ll be honest. I remember my mom calling my dad to say, “She’s here!” and I got on the phone and sobbed some version of, “She’s absolutely perfect!” By the time Ro was handed to me, I’d calmed down. The moment I laid eyes on her and held her in my arms for the very first time, I felt so at peace. I was just so incredibly content and everything felt right. Our family came in and were all very surprised at my composure, which I credit to the fact that I finally felt whole.

What is one thing about Rosie’s first year that you will always remember?

 Her adorable dance moves. And THOSE ROLLS.

Seriously the best baby rolls I’ve ever seen. and the CHEEKS.

Can you describe your process of emotions in your pregnancy/birth/first year with Jax?

This is going to sound crazy, but the minute I saw “positive” on that pregnancy stick, I knew something was wrong. I had literally no reason to believe that something was different or off course, but I just knew. It was a very weird feeling. I didn’t want to get excited, but I coughed my fear up to nerves. I know it may seem like an afterthought, like hindsight is 20/20, but I’m telling you, it was the moment I confirmed the pregnancy. Some people don’t know that while most CDH cases are determined at the 20 week ultrasound (which ours was), it was the 12 week ultrasound that started it all for us. I won’t go into too much detail, but from 12 weeks on, we were undergoing genetic testing, blood work, and an amnio to determine if Jax had any life threatening trisomies, which were suspected based on measurements at that first ultrasound. In a way, Matt and I were prepared to lose our baby from 12 weeks on. The depression and sadness that set in was unreal. We were so incredibly irritable with everyone, including each other. We felt selfish for feeling sad knowing we had a perfect baby girl already. We were angry and terrified and quite frankly, confused. What had we done wrong?

When I was 19 weeks pregnant, we finally got the results back from our testing (after 2 delays and having to test new cultures). We found out Jax had no trisomies and that he was a boy!! We were SO thrilled. Beyond happy. I remember laying on our guest room bed beaming, asking the geneticist to confirm the good news she’d just shared. Not even a week later, we went in for our 20 week anatomy scan, which is when we found out about Jax’s CDH. I’m not sure what was worse – having that week of joy and relief, only to be punched in the gut, or if it would’ve been easier to have found out all at once and spare us the moment of joy.

After we met with CHOP and Jax’s soon-to-be team, we were terrified; how could we get excited about welcoming our baby boy into the world without knowing for sure he’d survive? The odds were absolutely, 100% stacked against Jax from the get-go; only 50% of babies survive this condition, less so with a right CDH like in Jax’s case. In the end, Matt and I decided we’d rather know our baby boy for 30 seconds than live a life wondering “what if”. I know it sounds silly, but in my mind, I felt like if I didn’t believe he’d be a fighter, he’d somehow get that message through me while he was in the womb, and then give up on himself (that sounds even crazier when I type it out) so I refused to have anything but hope. I read countless success stories and refused to look at anything else.

The first 48 hours with Jax were mind-numbing. We felt very out-of-body, like this was happening to someone else. It took me about that long to really cry for our boy, as he lay there, comatose, a machine doing the work of his lungs and heart. But as the days went on and Jax got stronger, we flourished. I was with him every single day he was in the NICU and every time I’d leave him I’d say, “No surprises, little boy”. I still tell him that a year later. That’s the thing about CDH. It’s a fickle, sneaky bitch. Problems can arise at any time and a simple cold can be life threatening. But in this first year of life, if there is anything Jax has proven, it’s that he is a damn survivor. He has and continues to beat the odds and he proves everyone wrong ALL THE TIME. Watching him succeed has been so humbling, so inspiring, and has encouraged me to have faith in a tiny little human.

I actually remember that week between you guys not knowing and knowing. It seemed everyone was so relieved and then you dropped off the radar for a bit (obviously, understandably so) and we knew something was wrong.

Now that I’ve made you rehash your emotions (sorry about that) can I make it worse and ask you to remember your most embarrassing moment in your entire life?

I actually had to consult Matt on this one because I don’t get embarrassed easily. But, he quickly reminded me of the Chipotle incident, which will likely remain the most embarrassing moment of my entire life. When we lived in Baltimore, we loved a good trip to Chipotle (who doesn’t?!). We were finishing up our order and I offered to get the drinks (first mistake). I filled two large cups and Matt and I started to walk out, he with the food, I with the drinks. I distinctly remember I was wearing an orange, super thin, silky dress and sandals that had seen better days (second mistake). When I got to the exit, the rubber welcome mat was sticking up and those sandals caught the edge and I. WENT. DOWN.  The drinks I was holding went EVERYWHERE, including all over my very thin, cling-to-your-body-when-wet, dress. My head hit the glass door, making an audible sound so everyone turned to look (in case someone missed the scream coming from me). I was mortified. To make matters worse, a woman came over to help me clean up and said, “Wow. If that would’ve happened to me I would be SO EMBARRASSED!!!” Um, thanks? Chipotle gave us replacement drinks and admitted that the mat was supposed to be adhered to the floor. Maybe I should sue.

Okay, I’m cackling. Out loud. Also I’m jealous you only have one embarrassing moment which required Matt to remind you of. I can list three from this week. At least you make a mean Moscow Mule…

What is the absolute best part of being a mom?

Being a mom is, hands down, my most favorite thing ever. It’s fucking exhausting and there are more days than not where I question my parenting, but I love it so much. The best part is probably being IT for these tiny humans – their source of comfort, the one they trust most, their happy place. I also LOVE watching my kids learn. It truly amazes me to see these little creatures we created grow and change and adapt. It’s fascinating.

Do you like Matt more now that you are parents? (I totally like Shaun more now than I did before)

This is such a great question. If I’m being completely honest, I love Matt more now that he’s a dad than I ever thought possible. We’ve always had that ooey-gooey, honeymoon stage kind of love, but since seeing him become a father, I’ve fallen more in love with him in a deep, true connection kind of way. Do I like him more now that we’re parents? That’s tough. I obviously like him haha, but we argue more now. I have much less patience for his quirks (all of it’s spent on the children haha). Our kids come first, as opposed to each other, which is a huge change for us. My therapist calls these first years of parenthood the “burn out years” and its 100% true. Add to that that we have a medically complex kid and two under two and we’re bound to be at each other’s throats more often. So, to answer your question, I think our relationship is more complex and complicated now, but not just in a bad way. It’s also filled with so much more laughter and joy and the feeling of experiencing something completely foreign together. It’s different, but good different.

What emotion do you experience the most?

 Because anxiety is not an emotion, rather a response to a felt emotion, I suppose I’ll have to say fear (which causes the anxiety). Man, that makes me sound so womp-womp. But if I really sit down and evaluate my feelings, I’m anxious more often than not, and fear of the unknown and situations I can’t control dominate my brain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m excited, and curious, and content. I feel SO many other things than fear, but I don’t have the perfect answer to my anxiety yet, so fear is my unwelcome house guest, for now.

Same.

Would you rather cuddle 100 puppies or three baby sloths?

Ohhh, this is a tough one. While I’m not as big a sloth fan as you (and by that I mean that I think they’re adorable, but my obsession level is less), I wonder if 100 puppies would be more overwhelming than cute?! Like, would I be able to give them all equal attention and love? Probably not, which would likely result in sad puppies, which is not okay. So I think I’ll go with three baby sloths. I can give them all plenty of attention and love them how they should be loved. 

Good answer.

What would be your last meal on death row? (The punishment is for answering the last question in this interview inaccurately)

 Dang, comin’ at me with the REAL tough questions here!! This is so difficult. My instinct is to say crabs, but what if I’m to-be executed in a winter month? Crabs are not in season in January. I can’t have sub-par crabs for my LAST meal. And what if I’m on death row in Florida? Do they really think I’m going to accept GULF crabs?!?! The answer is no. Unless I was being executed in Maryland during peak crabbing season, crabs would not be a good idea. So let’s pretend I’m being executed in January in Florida. In that case, my last meal would be a perfectly cooked filet mignon, with loaded mashed potatoes on the side. No vegetable because fuck that noise. And a side Caesar salad from Chopt (a salad joint in New York that makes the BEST salads, oh mah gawd). Oh and endless amounts of Pepsi with the good ice to wash it all down. Okay, now I’m salivating.

Such a Marylander answer. I love it.

Is there any food you refuse to ever try?

Hm, well, I am a pretty picky eater. I don’t like my foods to touch (separated paper plates are, hands down, one of the best inventions ever) and I am big about textures and things that look weird. That being said, Matt forces me to try almost everything. He’s such a dad in that way (you don’t know until you try it!!) so I’ve tried a lot more than I normally would have in my life thanks to him (including escargot and creamed chipped beef – VOM).  I’m going to say no, cautiously. Don’t think this means you can bring cooked cockroach to our next girls day, though, Al. I’m watchin’ you.

Creamed chipped beef is one of the reasons I’m only 95% gluten free. I will suffer through some stomach cramps for that shit. You are cray.

What is something you’ve considered doing that you’ve never done?

Skydiving.

Tell me something you adore about each of your children.

Rosie – I absolutely adore how excited she gets over simple things. Pure childhood joy. I also love how incredibly smart she – not just because I want a bright kid, but because it makes for some seriously funny and interesting interactions and conversations.

Jax – I cannot get enough of Jax’s need to “be like the big kids”. Whenever Rosie does something, he tries SO hard to be just like her. He’s a peanut, so this isn’t always possible, but his determination pulls at my heart strings. I also love how snuggly he is. Rosie was a snuggly kid, but usually only at nap and bedtime. Jax will snuggle whenever, where ever.

Nsync or BSB?

Okay, don’t unfriend me, but as a kid, you would’ve caught me singing into a hairbrush, perfecting dance moves in front of my mirror to BSB. I can’t help itttttt! But as an adult, I much prefer N’Sync, especially given that they have a baller ass Christmas CD and I love Christmas.

My best friend Amber very conveniently did not tell me before she was my Maid of Honor that she is a BSB fan. I’m still required to love her. But I’ll always side eye her a bit.

This concludes our first interview for the blog. Thank you, Kayte, so so much for rehashing those emotions for us.

Next up is my childhood bff, Marie!

I’m fat but I’m happy.

I’ve considered writing about my weight/health/eating disorder history. I’ve considered it a lot, honestly. I think that is partially what made me stop writing my past blog, because it felt like the truth was out and all eyes were on me…staring at me as I took a bite of anything, giving me questioning glances before and after I returned from the restroom. Spoiler alert: I’m not vomiting up my food whenever I go to the rest room. In fact, I was seven months purge free and extremely proud of it.

Our culture is sickening. I’m tired of the obsession over the appearance of others. I’m sick and tired of the magazines giving ideas on how to lose weight. I’m mad at myself for ever involving myself in that culture and for wanting to be anyone but myself. I felt like a fraud for the longest time. Meeting beautiful, compassionate, artistic people in the fat community but also secretly doing anything I could to lose a few pounds. I was so jealous they could refer to themselves as fat and be proud of who they were, when I would sob if someone were to use it as an insult toward me. This past year I’ve decided to focus on my children, my husband, work, school, and myself. I’ve embraced the fat positive culture and I’ve found comfort in listening to body positivity through music (Lizzo) and movies (Shrill, Dumpli’). I found a local boxing gym and started taking classes just because I wanted to, with no real goal in mind but to meet people and have fun. I was in more pictures with my kids than I’ve ever been, and instead of cropping myself out of them, I posted them for the world to see. I was finally feeling whole again and not letting the binging/purging thoughts creep in. I started seeing a weight management doctor to discuss what medical reasons could be causing me to rapidly gain weight, fearing I could have more wrong than only my auto-immune disease, and I wanted to make sure we figured it out before any additional symptoms started.

But today I let some asshole get to me and wreck what I’ve been building.

Today I want to an appointment to have my knee evaluated to determine what my course of action is for my injury.

Today I woke up, and like most mornings lately, remembered immediately my dog died and had trouble breathing for a little bit.

Today I woke up and took my anxiety medication, got my kids ready for school, kissed my husband goodbye, dropped the kids off at daycare, and drove to the doctor’s office.

Today I declined standing on the scale. Not only because I had a doctor’s appointment two days ago and the number is clearly in my chart, but because it’s really none of this doctor’s damn business.

Today this doctor didn’t look at my chart other than to see what my BMI is. This doctor didn’t look at my knee at all, he looked at the size of my body.

Today this doctor made me cry and feel rage.

Today I received an appointment summary which consisted of three pages of notes on how to lose weight, without a single mention of my knee injury.

Today I relapsed.

Our society is flawed. Our society is convinced that fat is the worst thing you can be. Who cares if you’re an asshole, right? At least you’re not fat. Our society has decided the shape of someone’s body determines their health. To hell with what is going on inside of that person’s body, they can evaluate my health with their glance. Unless you speak to that person, know them, know their struggles, know their fears, know what makes them happy, know if they have symptoms of anything, you have no idea what that person’s health looks like.

If you’re one who is trying like hell to lose weight, restricting yourself from things you love, trying to impress others just to look good in a bathing suit, please be gentle with yourself. You have one life to live. Live it for yourself and not for this flawed society.

crutch.

I was thinking of something to title this entry with and I thought, “hey, why don’t I just try to make a mental image of what I’m feeling”. But then I imagined myself with a broken leg but still trying to run a marathon, but I only have one crutch. That doesn’t make sense, though, like most of my thoughts. HOWEVER. I did pull an analogy from that weird thought. Kind of. My dog was my crutch. While I feel I’ve always suffered from some type of anxiety, it never got really bad until I was eighteen. I also met Coby when I was eighteen, and took him home with me after I turned nineteen. It’s almost like he knew exactly what to do. I’d be in my bedroom, giant Peace Frog painted on the wall (which unfortunately didn’t provide any actual peace), and I’d sometimes get anxiety attacks. Had trouble breathing, heart would beat out of my chest, vision would get blurry, etc. Coby would do this thing in which he’d come up to me, push himself under my arm, and I’d match my breathing with his heartbeat. It was our thing. He’d growl at Shaun if he got near me during an attack. He was my crutch. Now it’s like that crutch has been yanked away. I’ve had more panic attacks this week thank I’ve had in a long time. They last longer. I’m trying to find ways to get through them, because I know I have to get used to a new routine. I have to stop depending on a 14lb dog to get me through my depressions. He won’t be there to lay on my legs while I sleep at night, he won’t be there to watch bad reality TV when I’m home sick, he won’t be under the kids’ beds anymore, he won’t be able to ignore Shaun’s mere existence anymore.

I’ve tried to find things to calm me down. Crocheting frustrates me, I haven’t felt like writing, walking is out since I hurt my knee, and I tried watercolor painting last night (it was bad. really, really bad).

I almost feel resentful of other people being able to feel normal. It’s confusing how life goes on when you feel so sad.

Goodbye.

I write when I feel inspired. Inspired is honestly the last thing I feel right now. However, I know it’s important for myself to get this out while it’s fresh. I don’t want to lose any of the details.

After the specialist confirmed what I knew, there was nothing we can do because the cancer has spread, it was time to make that decision. The worst decision.

Honestly, I feel a grief I’ve never experienced before. Coby has been by my side since the day we met. He would be in the kennel at the vet while I worked back there, he would be sitting on the reception desk while I worked up front, we would let him run around the clinic as we cleaned every night, and eventually he came home on weekends with me. I decided to keep him without telling my parents, and fortunately they let me keep him when my mom discovered there was a dog living in my room for two weeks.

He moved with me, he waited at the door for me every single day. He sat on my lap while I did my makeup. He protected me. He barked at anyone he thought could be a threat. He moved again with me, this time to another state. He had several animal siblings who he successfully pretended didn’t exist. He announced our first baby. He loved our first baby. He was there for every family party. He loved tennis balls. He loved his rubber pig. He loved our second baby. He tolerated Leroy. He loved me.

We had a mini bucket list for our last few hours together. We did things he loved. He was happy and relaxed. I was happy and full of dread.

Grumpy boy wasn’t happy I took him out of his hiding spot.
Nervous at the specialty center.
Sitting on mom’s lap. Windows open and relaxed.
He was excited but couldn’t bite it. I cut it into pieces for him and it worked!
Quick stop for special treats. He didn’t like our first purchase so we went back in and tried a different kind.
One last new toy.
A special last meal…
The only “people” food he’s ever really loved: a beef n cheddar from Arby’s.
One more trip to the park to see the ducks.
Taking a break, mom should have brought the stroller.
Relaxing while waiting for dad to get home so we can take one last ride in the car.

One last nap with mom.
Enjoying the breeze.
Having one more conversation with mom before I have to go.

Goodbye my sweet boy. I’m so grateful to have had you as my “first born” and my little soulmate. Thank you for being my unlicensed therapy dog and always knowing when I needed you the most. I don’t remember how to be without you, but I’ll always remember how it was to have you by my side.

Guilt & Depression. Depression & Guilt.

It was very recently in which I learned these two things are related. I try not to use the word “guilt” anymore, because in talking to my therapist and reading/listening to Brene Brown, I’ve learned what I typically actually feel is shame, not guilt. If you listed to Brene Brown’s first TedTalk, she’ll tell you the differences between the two. Guilt is a focus on behavior, Shame is a focus on self. For example, “I did something awful” is guilt and “I am awful” is shame. I tend to use these words interchangeably.

I don’t think highly of myself. That is not at all a secret. I make self depreciating jokes and insult myself several times a day. As I’ve said in recent posts, I’m working on it, but it’s not something I see happening quickly. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’ve made progress at all.

I ruin things for myself by letting these two things get in my way. Initially I loved to run. Anxiety was relieved, my body went through a lot of changes, and I had alone time while Shaun and Violet would spend time together. Then I added in goals, and with the goals came the disappointment when those goals weren’t met. Once the disappointment happened the shame kicked right in. “I can’t believe I didn’t PR. I trained. I’m so damn lazy and slow.” I’d become so exhausted after every run. Not because of the physical aspect, but the mentally kicking of my own ass.

The idea behind boxing was not only appealing, but I figured I couldn’t guilt myself because I have a coach/trainer during each class. Today, however, is going to be my first scheduled day in which I am missing a planned boxing class. I am so physically and mentally exhausted, I don’t see how I could get dressed, drive there, give it my all, drive home, shower, and go to sleep. It just doesn’t seem possible. I feel like I am moving under water. Tired, sluggish, able to focus but also able to zone which a single break of concentration…thyroid symptoms. Auto Immune Disease symptoms.

Naturally, the guilt kicks in. “I’m not going and I feel awful about myself”. Shame: “I’m so damn lazy. Full of excuses.” I promised myself I’d go for a walk with Shaun and the kids after dinner. I intend to keep that promise, even though I feel like I could sleep for days.

I really don’t have much to say worth blogging today. I’m just so tired.

and waiting is all that I can do until you find your way back to me.

Michelle Branch lyrics for the title of this blog. Why? Because I want to pretend it’s 2005 and I’m writing a post in my Xanga.

Image result for michelle branch the spirit room

I am, unfortunately, not one of those people who can write a blog post each day or each week. It just cannot happen and isn’t how my brain functions. Sometimes I’ll write three to four posts in one week, other times I will go weeks between posting anything. I’m not going to allow myself to feel any type of guilt over posting too much, not posting, or not feeling the urge to write. This blog is supposed to be for me and I’ve ruined too many things for myself by allowing guilt or pressure to enter my mind.

I’ve been trying to find a phrase to describe what I’ve been doing lately. I absolutely despise the term “finding myself” because, well, I’m not missing. There was that one time in my early twenties in which I don’t really recall weeks of my life because I was just making terrible decisions for myself and my brain was like “yoooo let’s block some of this out for the future because I can’t even compute what’s happening and you keep NOT listening to me and just doing whatever you want to do.” Despite my brain bossing my around and me refusing to listen, I feel like I should add a disclaimer including the fact I’ve never done drugs and those few weeks did not include any alcohol. Just bad decisions.

If you know me, you know I am not offended by the word fat. And what I mean by that is fat is a thing. Fat is real. If someone is calling themselves fat, stop saying “omg you are not fat”, or adding in a “compliment” with it like “omg girl you are not fat, you are beautiful”. Biiiitch, I didn’t say I wasn’t beautiful. I said I’m fat. Those aren’t two words that are opposites of each other. If my doctor can classify me as “morbidly obese” then I’m fat. Get over it. That being said,I clearly have issues with accepting myself the way I am. I’ve tried every “diet” in the universe. I was/am bulimic and I’m in “recovery” forever to fight the urge to dislike feeling “full” after I’ve eaten. It’s fine. It’s a fact about my life. I have tried every MLM product on the market. Even recently. As I’m preaching about body positivity, I’d spend money on products to make me lose weight. I hate that about myself. I hate that I feel like a fraud, like there are two sides of me and that I’m a liar.

Therapy, reading, Instagram experiences, friend experiences, etc. have made me realize, like a punch in the gut, how much I need to get my shit together. How can I preach body positivity to my four year old, meanwhile let her watch me take supplements to lose weight? Even typing it out makes me want to have someone smack me. With a boat oar. Like Walker Texas Ranger. No relation.

I made a decision to stop running for a while. While I loved it and it helped my anxiety, I made it way too difficult on myself. I set unrealistic goals (like running a half marathon four months post-partum and then fainting at mile nine and having to have the park rangers pick me up and then proceed to make them stop twice so I could vomit. Yep. Cool.). While I successfully ran a half marathon afterward with Shaun in Virginia Beach, it was a semi-miserable day because I was so mad at myself for not having negative splits and therefor couldn’t enjoy my time with my husband and our surroundings.

I’m now taking boxing classes. I was soooo nervous to start but I’m grateful I went. Some type of class was the only way I could think of being able to still work out and help with my anxiety. Knowing I could still work out but there was an instructor so I couldn’t over do it and ruin it for myself was key. I also knew there was something wrong with how I was feeling. Being comfortable with my body the way it is was important, but knowing there’s a problem with my actual health was getting in the way. When my bloodwork results came back and showed my TSH as a 15.0, I made an appointment with my endocrinologist and she said it doesn’t seem as if my body is absorbing my Synthroid. Lovely. She had me start taking it sublingual and within two months my levels were normal. NORMAL. I’m not exaggerating when I say my bloodwork has never, ever come back normal in my thirty years of life. So, BOOM. Self-care win. Next step was to determine why I’ve gained 30 lbs since October. Again, I want to be happy with my body, but not having changed my routine and continually gaining weight and having my joints hurt for no reason, on top of migraines at least 4 times per month has to mean something is up.

I was referred to another doctor this week. I LOVED her. She explained how I need to pay more attention to my T4 results since I don’t have my thyroid, told me that my Synthroid was likely sticking to whatever food was still in my stomach and then just digesting instead of absorbing (which I then had to admit I started eating gluten again even though I know I have an intolerance to it. but BREAD, guys. I live for bread. dammit). So. We have a game plan. I will not restrict myself in any way. If I want something, I will eat it. I will stop eating gluten 100% (dammit), I will take my boxing classes for myself and not give a damn how many calories I burn, there will no no counting calories, macros, etc. The only thing I’ll be tracking is my protein for the sake of the muscles in my body. OH. and no more “fixes”. I don’t need to fix myself and I don’t need to spend the money on quick “fixes”.

Eat what I want

Listen to my body

Spend time with friend

Get out in the sun this summer (with SPF 10000 so I don’t burn)

Have adventures

Go on dates with my husband

Stop wearing makeup when I don’t want to

Start wearing shorts and tank tops because it’s hot as hell outside and I don’t need to hide behind denim

Buy a swimsuit I WANT and not one I think I need (sooo I really don’t need to wear that black one piece with a cover up. YAS.

Do NOT double up on my courses this year. Yeah, I want to get my degree ASAP but I also would like to sleep and spend time with my kids. This was a difficult one to grasp but I’m listening to her.

SLEEP

Be nice to myself.

Y’all. This is coming from A DOCTOR. I’ve also decided I will be vistiting female doctor going forward. I’ve broken up with my male doctors because they usually only want to discuss my weight and I’ve never been asked by a female if I’m sure I don’t have a thyroid. Sexist? Maybe. But my body, my rules.

So, my friends, I want to apologize for being a liar. I want to apologize for not practicing what I preach, and I want to ask for time to get this right.

the pink cow.

Buying a house is stressful. I haven’t done this in almost five years, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the stressors, but I remember the experience being specifically undesirable and telling Shaun I was never moving again. Spoiler alert: we will most definitely be moving again. Soon, hopefully. We looked for houses for months. There were only two of us with no immediate plans for children, so we just wanted a two or three bedroom house, two bathrooms, and a little bit of a yard for our dog. Having only been married a few months, I was so over planning anything. I told Shaun I just wanted a free house in a nice neighborhood. Why is that so difficult? I randomly chose a realtor, randomly chose a price range, randomly started the process of getting pre-approved, remembered to tell Shaun we were buying a house, and then starting searching for random crap I didn’t need on consignment sites. I was on a ROLL. We hated the first few houses we saw. I mean, these houses were right out of an episode of “Wow, Please Do Not Buy This House”. That’s not a real television show, but I couldn’t think of any other show except for Scooby Doo and that seemed weird. So. Yeah. I was so done looking at houses and didn’t want to look at another one. I hadn’t even gotten to the stressful part yet and I was just over it. So, as things go, we looked at another house and it was perfect. Right in town, close to all three schools for someday when we had kids, super old and was passed through the same family for over 100 years. This was it. We made the offer, offer was accepted, and we were ready. Boom. I remember a specific day during the wait for closing on the house. I had gotten sick at work and felt fine afterward, but decided to go home anyway in case it was a bug. I was looking around on consignment sites for stuff for the house and I FOUND IT. I mean, she was perfect. They say when you know, you know…and I KNEW.
Henrietta. I had to have this cookie jar for our kitchen. Shaun gets home from work and we decided to grab takeout because I wasn’t feeling well again. I remember telling him we needed to make a stop. He, of course, wants to know why. I give him the address and tell him I found our first house decoration. I went to the front door to meet the woman, exchanged the money for Henrietta, and practically skipped to the car. “A cow…?” “YEAH BABE! She’s a cookie jar and she’s amazing. Look at those fierce eyes. I love her”. “ooook Ali”. This is how our typical conversations go. He just nods and continues driving. I really have no idea why I loved this cow so much. It was a random infatuation but it’s a solid one. Once we moved into the house, on that very first day, I found out we were pregnant. I knew that explained the random sickness, but Shaun thought it maybe explained my weird love for Henrietta. WRONG. My love for Henrietta doesn’t need explained. I filled her up with cookies while I was pregnant, so I was able to appreciate her even more. So. Many. Cookies. I copied her glare for when Shaun stared at me while I shoved 5,000 cookies in my mouth. Henrietta now sits on a shelf in our kitchen so my children can’t break her. But she still gets a “heyyyy, Henrietta” daily when I walk into the kitchen. Maybe I’ll give her to Violet some day. Probably not. But it’s a nice thought.