2013 In Review


It must be winter in my heart. There is nothing warm in there at all.

2013 started out like a frigid winter for me. I wanted to make some serious changes in myself. I was moving without a map, but I knew where I was going. I prayed for direction and help, because I couldn’t go it alone

Break this tired old routine.

I was looking forward to our 10th anniversary trip and I wanted to feel good by then. I needed to lose weight and I needed to be able to travel so increasing my physical stamina was very important. So I started weight watchers by mid February and started running by April.

Sometimes it knocks me down. Sometimes I just put it away.

I started writing in June. I wrote constantly as a child. I expressed myself poetically when things were bad. It was the best place for me to express the difficulties I was having. After many years of not writing, it was time for me to admit my struggles and passions to myself and to others around me. It was time I opened up my mouth and my mind. For the first time I wrote while I was building up instead of writing while I was falling apart.

Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in. Are you aware the shape I’m in?

On our 10th wedding anniversary we went on an amazing trip to Philadelphia, Boston, Cape Cod, NYC and DC. It was what we needed in so many ways. Time for just us without the children. Keeping this promise to each other that we would do it and make up for lost time. We left worn down and returned refreshed and renewed. What we were not expecting from this trip was to fall in love all over again into what I call a deeper sickening pit of love.

There is no falling back to sleep once you’ve woken from the dream. Now I’m rested and I’m ready to begin.

I returned accomplished in a well planned trip and a heart filled with memories. My running was at an all time high and I felt amazing. I tried harder and harder, but my body needed some other healing. I needed to have surgery to really repair my body. I needed to write to continue to repair my soul.

If I live the life I’m given I won’t be scared to die.

I took life by the horns and it was been an absolutely wonderful year of healing and regenerating myself in so many ways. I let go of some relationships along the way that were negative energies for me and stood strong against those emotions. I walked away unscathed and forever for the better. I won’t ever let people treat me that way again nor will I ever allow someone to puff me out or bring me down.

I’ve never been alive like I am now.

This writing hasn’t been easy on everyone. They didn’t want to hear the things I had to say. I wasn’t quieted by their frustrations I couldn’t be. For the most part people have embraced my courage to express the truths of my life and many have been encouraged by my writing to travel on their own healing journeys. Many have said they couldn’t say the things I did so openly, but the fact that someone else said them healed them somehow.

Be the spark that has a chance to light the candle.

I set off on a journey all on my own. When I ignited my spirit this year it was like lighting a candle- the light has no choice but to be shared by those around you. The heat from the flame warms everyone near and close.

I was lost as lost could be and I was praised for being found.

My hope for 2014 is that I can continue to care for my soul, body and mind. I don’t plan to change my routines that I have now, but to only continue to do the same growth.

Thank you my faithful readers who have read my posts by the thousands and followed me along this journey. I hope I have moved you in directions you needed nudged- made you think differently of me, yourself, or the world- made you feel less alone in your thoughts- made you laugh, smile and cry with heartfelt moments of my life.

All of the above quotes are from Avett Brothers songs. Their poetic verses have brought me great comfort on this journey.

Much love 2013 you were good to me.



Sometimes Mommy just needs a timeout.

After far too many people around and too much noise I needed a little bit of a time out last night. I guess others would call me an introvert, but true introverts would call me an extrovert. Much like this video talks about I would have to say that I’m more of an introvert. This TED talk explains it well about why I needed a timeout last night.

John saw this TED talk and it hit home to him. In his mind it described me. This is why I need a good run…. some music blaring in my earbuds… some time alone in my room. John likes to say well why don’t you  just go shopping, take a trip to the coffee shop or do this this or this when you need to be alone. This is simply and easily answered by saying that I need the quiet of a room and some music- with or without a cup of hot tea or more likely a glass of wine. Other places are far too overwhelming. I need to be entirely alone and entirely in charge of the sounds that are around me. If I don’t have this shutdown moment I’m not a very happy person. I need this every day and if I don’t get it watch out because things like last night happen where I feel like I may lose my mind. My husband was gone for 4 nights in a row. To other people this may seem silly to complain about their husband being gone for four nights, but for me it means I didn’t get enough time to just myself in the quiet. It means Mommy NEEDS a timeout!

Dogs and cats are perfect examples. Our dogs for instance cannot get enough stimulation and our cat can’t wait to catch moments when all of the children and dogs will leave her alone in the quiet. She needs that peace for herself and it’s nothing wrong with her. She’s simply a cat and that’s how cats are for the most part. Our puppy Benson has to be around everyone and can’t wait to greet everyone at the door. If we have company and he’s in his kennel he whines and gets very upset almost yelping in his desire to be social.

Our cat Sookie has learned that napping in the dining room is the safest mid day. There are no children around and the dogs are calm.

I’ve started to notice our children’s personalities. My son is much like me. He likes to be alone in his imagination and inside his own head. He also enjoys being alone playing. He also enjoys a good bike ride. In social situations he begins to shut down almost shy as he hides behind us or acts crazy not sure how to behave in social situations. He’s perfectly fine playing in a room alone or watching a movie at a party. Our daughter would rather be up in the action socializing and playing with other folks. She doesn’t get herself wrapped up in the imaginative play and would rather run in circles playing. She is much like her father.

I realized at a social event the other day that I was far more interested in getting to know our friends’ dog than I was interested in getting to know the other folks there. It’s nothing personal against the other people. It is my social out- meeting new people and making fluff conversation isn’t my strong suit- I’d rather be real with someone. That’s why I’m better with people I already know and have an involved relationship with…  I’m good at long conversations about real things- emotions- opinions. Chit – chatty crap and I aren’t good friends it’s awkward for me. This isn’t the first time I have gotten to know my friends’ pets over getting to know people around social situations. It’s just something I have recently realized about myself. One of my friends has a dog and a cat- they LOVE me. Her dog has bear hugged me- paws around my waist – when I walked in the door. Her cat once all the commotion has died down will find me and come curl up in my lap. There may be several other people around but her pets are by my side. It might be because I’m paying attention to them, but it’s more about me wanting to be in their world partially than it is just them wanting a nice rub on the head. I love animals of course, but I have to admit giving them a good belly rub is far more interesting to me than finding out what someone does for their 9 to 5.

Luke old man
Luke- Our old man winter- Likes to be social but also likes a timeout from time to time. The other day he took a 5 hour timeout in my bedroom. To his credit he has been very ill and needed some good rest!

So I was completely overstimulated like a baby. After having multiple nights with the kids- one night out shopping and eating at a restaurant… followed by wild and crazy kids at work yesterday… by the time it got to dinner I had no plans and was so exhausted. I just plopped myself on the kitchen floor and told John to figure it out, because I needed to be alone for a while. I came down for dinner to join them for dinner and he bathed the kids and put them in bed. I was in bed and asleep by 9:30. I was honestly exhausted from just being around too much. I so needed that timeout.

Benson and Maggie. Benson can't get enough attention and their is never too much happening for his personality.
Benson and Maggie. Benson can’t get enough attention and there is never too much happening for his personality.

I awoke this morning in a great mood and refusing to leave the comfort of our bed. Too bad our kids and pets sabotaged my morning. That will have to be another blog post about allowing your surrounding to sabotage your good mood. I was totally guilty of that this morning.

I want to pick up my kids. I want to run. My husband loves me.

I apologize for the blogging hiatus. I had surgery five weeks ago. I’m not sure there is ever really a good time to talk about things like this. People are curious as to how I’m doing so I think it’s worth some form of response or acknowledgement. I’m kind of beyond the awkwardness since many more people know about it than I had ever thought would. I went to a party a few weeks ago and a man I hadn’t seen in months was there. He made it a point to walk across the room and just stared at me. That’s when I realized more people knew than I was even aware of anymore. It just got to the point where talking about it was comfortable and I have already heard all the stupidity I thought was possible. This entire blog is about being real and having enough gumption to explain my stance so here goes.

In all the awesomeness that these bangs hold. This is me in 4th grade.
In all the awesomeness that these bangs hold- this is me in 4th grade.

So to cut to the chase- I had a breast reduction. My neck and back were continuing to hurt. I had lost weight but the “girls” were not going anywhere which has pretty much been the story of my life since 4th grade. Bras were $70 each and being shipped from Europe. I have divots in my shoulders from the weight on the bra straps. I am looking forward to returning to the chiropractor and getting my neck adjusted- but my shoulder blade pain is gone and I find it easier to sit up straight as my spine doesn’t seem to “catch” near the bra line anymore. It was to the point where I couldn’t make it through a dinner party much less run like I had wanted to so badly. Many ladies would love to have a C cup and that is what I am now still spilling out of after they removed four pounds off of my chest. I was spilling out of my newest 34 H cups prior to the surgery- That’s a D to the 7th power folks. If you took my measurements I was 32 inches under the breasts and 40+ over the bust line. Yes, it was covered by insurance. I have always struggled with store shopping- finding the right size of everything. I’m looking forward to lace- polka dots- well anything not beige, white or black with super wide shoulder straps. Most people don’t realize how large they were. I’ve been dressing in layers for years doing my best to hide this part of myself. I’m still having a hard time understanding that that’s not me anymore. I haven’t quite realized all the pieces yet.

This one is junior prom. John's hair is fabulous.
This one is junior prom. John’s hair is fabulous.

I would say about 90% of the people who I spoke with said things like “How is John taking this?” “How does John feel?” “I’m worried about how this is going to effect John.” “Is John okay with you doing this?” “I feel sorry for John about you choosing to do this.”  Yes, those are direct quotes. Many of these people asking about this before asking why…. Really?  Once or twice I answered the questions, but eventually it got really OLD. Of course I checked with my husband- he’s known I’ve wanted to do this since before we got married. I was worried about how he would take it now that it was real, but I didn’t marry a jerk. He was scared mostly about the surgery and how I would react to general anesthesia. When the really rude comments came along he reassured me that I had his support and that I was to tell anyone who made such rude remarks that he was excited about this new perkier upgrade. His attitude has been hilarious and entertainingly fun. He’s cared for me so tenderly. The first week following surgery he hopped in the shower to wash my hair for me. He brushed my hair and helped me get dressed. He served me meals, opened and closed doors for me, and preset the coffee maker like a pro. He has helped run my business and taken time off to make sure things are running smooth on the home front as well. Mostly, he speaks of me with love and respect and it has been nothing short of amazing. This is what love looks like folks.

My pre-op shoulders.
My pre-op shoulders.

I stressed and stressed about how I was going to tell my children. I worried about effecting their self body image. This is plastic surgery and even though my children have nothing at this point they need to alter- I didn’t want them to start viewing themselves critically. I was walking on egg shells afraid to say what was really happening. I spoke with several people, but I went with the advice of the nurse of my surgeon. She said to tell them I was having surgery to help my back… which is true. I thought I would just hide the reality of the location for some time before I told them the actual truth. I was worried they would stress and not understand how the surgery would take place. So about a week before the surgery I was giving my daughter a bath and called in my son to have an important conversation. I told them, “I have something important to talk about. I’m going to have surgery. Do you know what surgery is?” My four year old daughter said, “Well, like when I cut my foot you’ll go in an ambulance and they will fix you.” My seven year old son interjected, “No, that’s not what happens. It’s when they go to the hospital but not in an ambulance all of the time.” I responded, “Right Alden. I won’t be going in an ambulance, but you’re correct Maggie. I will be going to the same hospital where they fixed your cut foot and they will be fixing me. They will be fixing my back and neck since it hurts so much.” Alden asks, “Will the surgery be on your back then?” I replied, “Well don’t stress about all of the details too much.” Maggie says, “Oh… so they are going to make your huge boobies smaller. They are very heavy.” Alden said excitedly, “Really! Mom is that what they are going to do?” I just kind of chuckled and confirmed it. All the stressing about their reaction to the wayside…. I went over the details of general anesthetic and how I couldn’t pick them up or lift things for a while. I explained that I was going to need a lot of help around the house. I asked if they had any questions about the surgery. Maggie asked when I could pick her up again- this seemed to be and has proved to be the hardest part for her. Alden wanted some clarification as to whether general anesthesia would put me to sleep like a dying pet- poor guy what a stressful thought to have. He asked me if there were any secrets I was keeping from him about the surgery and I said that there were a lot of details I was leaving out about how they would operate, but that I was being honest. His frank description of  his fear that I was keeping this from him made me sad. They were satisfied with the conversation and didn’t say much after that about it. Children are amazing. Now Maggie asks why the “girls” don’t lay on my belly anymore and how they got all “stuck up” like that.

Post-op- Thanksgiving Dinner.
Post-op- Thanksgiving Dinner.

The people that are around us have been amazingly supportive. I have been blessed and continue to feel blessed by so many people. We’ve had so much help, but mostly by my father in law and his wife Ruth. I have so much to be thankful for this year. The list is endless truthfully, but for the first three weeks family and friends helped me run my business. Neighbors, coworkers, church congregants and many other friends and family helped transport my children to school, took my kids out on play dates, made three weeks of dinners for my family, took me to doctors appointments, checked on my well being and prayed for us. We are heading into the sixth week of people helping and it still simply amazes me the generosity of others and their desire to help us along the way. Who needs Christmas presents after the blessings our community have bestowed upon us?

This is from last May. Now look closely- not at my eyes...
This is from last May. One side alone was  as big as my face… I wish proportionally that was a lie, but sadly it’s the truth.

The surgery itself took place at 7 am and lasted about 4 hours. As I said before, they removed not quite four pounds. I didn’t have liposuction or anything fancy done. I just wanted those puppies off of there. I had never had general anesthesia before and I was not sure what to expect so I was nervous. I was given fluids through the IV and the surgeon drew all over me and did measurements prior to going in the OR. My father in law (Bob), John, our pastor (Joe) and my mother were all there at the facility. Ruth was running the business and my kids were at school. While waiting for the surgery to begin John and I were getting nervous. When he gets nervous he jokes and tries to be funny and I pray- the combination doesn’t go well together. I eventually told him to shut it because I needed to pray. The nurse putting the IV in was asking a ton of chit-chatty questions and said I looked really nervous and I told her I was, but I was just trying to pray and I needed to not talk. She zipped up quick. I prayed for strength and a successful surgery experience. The surgeon drew all over my chest to make his incision lines. He was kind of awkward and cold in the office, but while prepping for surgery he was on it. I got the sense that the OR is his playground and he feels most confident and secure in that space. I gave John kisses and was wheeled down the hall to the OR. They told me they were giving me calming meds on the way there, but I was already calm since my prayer session. I remember a lot in the OR- I was awake longer than I had anticipated. It was weird listening to all the surgeons directives, but I was amazingly calm. I was amazed that prayer had brought me such calm and peace. I even asked the nurse what she had slipped in my IV to be sure she hadn’t given me a sedative and she said she hadn’t. I am so thankful for prayer.

I awoke about four hours later. I remember my eyes not really opening fully, but I was ready for a diet soda and some jello. I was really calm and out of it. My husband came in and I don’t really remember that. My pastor came in and I remember being clear thinking and I remember he prayed, but other than telling him a few people to contact for me I don’t remember a word he said. Bob came in- don’t remember that. Mom came in and all I remember is her helping me get dressed and us taking this lovely picture-

just out of bed

I was sent home shortly after I woke up and I had a few visitors throughout the rest of the day. I slept a lot over the next few days and watched a lot of tv. I watched the entire Once Upon a Time series on Netflix and caught up on the new shows on HULU. And White Collar…  I had so much help and so much food. I tried to walk a lot and get out on my feet. I wasn’t on any pain medication other than over the counter stuff as I’m allergic to so many medications. The surgeon and I felt better just taking the usual tylenol and ibuprofen rotation. I wasn’t allowed to lift more than a fork or phone the first week, more than 5 lbs the second week, more than 10 lbs the third week, but was told I could walk all I wanted.I am still restricted to lifting and running. I was also on a cooking restriction and still restricted from cleaning much. I have been really tired and on top of this recovery I’ve been sick with two separate viruses. The first was a bout of bronchitis then followed by another evil evil cold. I’ve been miserable trying to get back on my feet from that. The not sleeping at night is exhausting in the days that followed. John was sick, our son was sick and our old dog Luke isn’t doing well. We are constantly putting out fires around here.

This is a picture from this morning. My new favorite shirt (Thanks Jenna) As most other clothing looks silly at this point.
This is a picture from this morning. My new favorite shirt (Thanks Jenna) As most other clothing looks silly at this point.

I am five weeks post op. I’ve put on a few pounds from the delicious food provided by our generous friends and followed by Thanksgiving. It didn’t help with my restriction from activity either. It’s okay really with being sick too it is hardly something to stress over at the moment. I will be off all of my restrictions on Christmas day. After that, I can begin running again! I can’t wait to go see the chiropractor and get my neck adjusted. I’ve been sleeping so weird with this recovery and cold. The hardest part is not cleaning or cooking full time and yet my arms have been so sore. It was the under arm muscles- triceps or something that connects to the chest. I feel like such a sissy. Lifting all of these kids all day normally and now nothing… I am used to lifting 20 to 50 lbs multiple times a day. My walking is very slow, but has been improving with time. Recovery on the incisions has been great. There were a couple of rough patches, but they have all healed up now. I’m having trouble getting ready for Christmas so I’ve pretty much decided that it will be more simple than ever before. Many people are getting a bottle of wine with a bow on top and for many years I have sent Christmas cards with the kids on them and we’re not in a position to do that right now. Sorry folks who tell me they have collected all of them over the last eight years!

So if you are going through Christmas card withdraw print this one. Sorry for the half naked child.
So if you are going through Christmas card withdraw print this one. Sorry for the half naked child.

I went to a dinner party back in the fall and sat at a table at my pastor’s house. Before the dinner was over, my shoulder blades ached and my spine, right at the bra line, was aching. My neck was tense and driving me crazy the following day. I went to our pastor’s house last week. I sat at the same table for almost just as long and I left without hurting that night. I used my sewing machine the same day and wasn’t aching with pain afterwards from leaning over driving the fabric under the needle. I’m starting to recognize things are improved. I’m really looking forward to that run- anticipation! I am also looking forward to gardening and cultivating the front yard, playing puzzles, sewing, and painting. All of these hobbies I haven’t gotten to do much of over the last few years as I’ve gotten used to not being able to doing them. I had gotten so used to not doing it I had forgotten why I wasn’t doing them.

Some of my favorite conversations and statements over the last few months-

“How do you feel now that the weight has been lifted off your shoulders?”

“May your boobs never reach the door before you again!”

“Now you can shop at Victoria Secret- How exciting!”

“Wow- you have ribs!”

“I was worried they’d look too small, but you just look like a proportionate person now.”

“You mean they took four pounds off and you’re bigger than I was even during all of my pregnancies? You suck.”

“Okay, can I just look at them and get it over with? (Me opening my hoodie and saying sure get it over with) Oh- wow. That IS way more proportionate.”

“Are you huggable yet?” My response- Absolutely- just no chest bumps!

“You carried that burden around for so long and now you just sit up straighter.”

“I must apologize. I hope it hasn’t bothered you, but I haven’t looked you in the eyes for months. Crap- I’m still not even now.”

“Are you feeling perkier now after surgery?”

So I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself showing what I looked like before the surgery- Most photos are blocked by a child or a handbag. It is in very rare photos that you can see what I really looked like. They are truly hard to find- I think my body image was so bad I probably cropped or deleted them over the years. I wish that I had taken more photos for comparison, but alas I didn’t. I’ve been asked just about everything at this point. I know I didn’t really write about the actual surgery itself, the logistics and the anatomy of it, but feel free to do your own research on that. Make sure if you get a chance you take the time to tell my husband how awesome he is, because he deserves it.

magic family
John and my kids

Someone once said to me- “You are so brave. When you left your job and started your own business. I thought you were crazy, but really you’re just brave. Then your blog and how open and honest you are…. you are just brave.” Several months later the same person said- “This surgery just further says you are more brave than I even thought you were.”

I did manage to cross this off my bucket list- Thanks Ruth for the help!
I did manage to cross this off my bucket list- stuffing a turkey- Thanks Ruth for the help!