Two Years

The first thing most people think of when thinking about my dad is most likely his sense of humor.  He’s the most funny person I have ever known.  And, really, probably the most funny person I will ever know.  He was incredibly dry and sarcastic and almost painfully witty.  Part of his genius was the mystery of never being certain that he was indeed joking.  Being funny was something that seemed to come naturally to him.  And really, with the exception of the last year or two of his life, it rarely seemed like he used sense of humor as some sort of self-preservation mechanism or to mask insecurities.  (This is something that I could use some lessons in.)

Some of my best memories of him are from Sunday mornings.  We’d wake up early and share the paper while drinking coffee and watching hunting/fishing shows or Old Westerns. He would read the paper, I would read the comics.  Then we’d go through the ads and point out items we thought the other one needed to buy. One of our classic bits was when I would ask if he needed an iPhone, to which he would respond “Now what the hell would I do with an iPhone?” I would point out he could use it to keep tabs on his 41 Facebook friends, or maybe even get a Twitter account.  And then, of course, “What the hell would I do with a Tweeter?”  Which would lead to us going back and forth about what he would Tweet.  It just so happens Steve Leach’s Twitter topic of choice would be bathroom happenings.  We could spend an entire morning riffing off of each other.  Then Mom would be a little bit mortified, but mainly amused and just go, “oh! You two!”

My dad was my comedic… match?  role model?  I wouldn’t say equal, but there was definitely something special about how funny we were together.  Even if I was the butt of a lot of his jokes.  He loved sitting by me at more conservative weddings.  He would just have this smirk on his face, like he found pleasure knowing that I was going crazy while the embarrassingly large portion of my brain devoted to wedding etiquette and the part of my brain devoted to feminism duked it out.  When I informed him that I’d voted Democrat in the 2004 Presidential election, he took my dinner away and “redistributed” it.  He warned me that in 10 years I’d probably be a Republican.  (Not only was HE the one who switched his registration, he was also the chair of the Hamilton County Democrats by 2008.)

Those who knew my dad know that in addition to being a grumpy old man (a self-proclaimed one, at that), he also had the biggest heart.  One of his greatest passions was giving back to his community.  He took pride in being Aurora’s “Biggest Athletic Supporter”.  He was always the first to donate to fundraisers at the school and spent many weekends volunteering at youth wrestling meets or teaching Hunter’s Safety.  I don’t think I could count the number of times he read books to my class in elementary school or spoke in my business classes and volunteered at FBLA functions in high school.  He gave out water bottles to the band and all sports team.  When I very briefly considered doing sports stuff, he sponsored my softball team.  My blue Leach Insurance shirt sure looked good out in right field while I was doing cartwheels and picking grass.

He especially liked to get involved in the activities of me and my siblings.  When my sister was in golf, he lead the charge to get donations for golf bags for the girls team.  When I was auditioning for piano scholarships, he drove me all over the state and even made friends with some of the faculty.  In 2006, when i started to get politically involved, he was right there with me.  He made phone calls, wrote letters to the editor, asked farmers to put up yard signs, and — I know this is hard to believe — even started quite a few fights on conservative political blogs.  I once asked him if he was worried that coming out as a Democrat was going to hurt his business, to which he replied, “Sal.  I learned a long time ago, you just can’t give a sh** what people think.  Plus… I might be a Democrat, but I’m no GD liberal.”  As I told my dad two years ago, this is was the most special experience I shared with him.

Tomorrow, May 20th, marks two years since I said goodbye to my dad.  I will be honoring him by participating in “Omaha Gives!”, which is a 24-hour charitable challenge to benefit nonprofits in the area.  I will be making a donation to Donate Life Nebraska.  Something I’ve noticed when talking to people about organ donation is that people don’t realize just how easy or how important it is to register.  Organizations like Donate Life Nebraska get that information out there.  If you can’t donate, it would mean so much to me if you’d register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

To donate: www.omahagives24.org

To register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor: www.donoregistry.org

To educate: www.donatelifenebraska.com

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Well, Hello There!

Hey Friends!

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written anything.  I know you were all just dying to hear from me.  So… here’s a little update:  I recently started a new job and moved to Omaha.  I’m living with my mom for a little bit until I can find an apartment/build up some savings.  Basically, right now my life is filled with excitement and adventure.  Even if excitement and adventure simply means sitting down to eat breakfast, drink coffee, and watch the news every morning.  Switching from two jobs to one job also means that I have time to work out again.  I mean… That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve USED my free time to work out, but that time is there and I have every intention of using it.

I’m making a goal to write a little bit every day for the rest of May.  What would you like me to write about?  What are the topics that just make you go, “That Sally…. She sure is [hilarious, brilliant, humble, etc…]”  Because, you guys, I JUST found out this weekend when the new princess was born that Duchess Catherine was even expecting.  So… I need a little help.

Gratitude Challenge – Day 1

My mom nominated me on Facebook to take part in the “Gratitude Challenge.”  You post two things you are grateful for a day for five days.  Since I can never think of anything to write about, I’m going to use this challenge as a way to get back to regularly posting on here.

1. Since my mom nominated me, I think it’s only fitting that the first one is dedicated to her. I’m grateful to have such an amazing mama. Growing up, our house was always full of silliness. At any given time, there were songs being improvised to be sung by inanimate objects, children were turning into tigers, and books were being read. Watching her be a grandma serves as a reminder of just how fun my childhood was. I regularly find myself sitting on the floor with a toddler in my lap when Mom’s reading the bedtime stories.

I have been so inspired by my mom’s strength over the past 4 years, especially in these last 18-ish months. For a woman who hates making decisions, she has made a lot of BIG decisions with a lot of grace. Also, I know this “Gratitude List” is a 2-a-day, 5 day deal, but my mom has kept a gratitude journal for years and years where she writes numerous things she’s grateful for every day.  So…  I think I can figure out a way to come up with 10 things I’m grateful for.

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2. I’m loving this shift to fall weather. Anything under 60 degrees makes me one happy girl. Once we get down to the 40’s… Oh Baby.  It makes me want to put on my running tights and a long-sleeved shirt with thumbholes and go for a run.

The weather today reminds me of a day when Emily P. and I went to something at the Edgerton Center then had a sleepover. The next day we rode our bikes to Ben Franklin’s to get supplies to make bubbles, spent the day trying to recreate the awesomeness of the Bubble Man, then rode our bikes to Chucks to get some pizza burgers.

You’re supposed to nominate two people with every post to take part in the challenge.  However, I’m just going to nominate a big ol’ collective YOU.  I’d love to hear what my readers are grateful for.

Not-so-Good Grief

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my mom in Omaha and got to spend a lot of time with my nieces.  My three-year-old niece, Whitney, and I started watching Pocahontas.  (Some advice from me:  Unless you want to have awkward conversations about race and greed and historical inaccuracies in Disney movies and controversy surrounding the settling of our nation, do not watch Pocahontas with an abundantly curious toddler.)  One of our big topics of discussion was bravery.  She kept asking me if Pocahontas was brave.  She wanted to know if John Smith was brave and also if he was Prince Eric but with yellow hair.  (I told her that Prince Eric was much, much more handsome than John Smith.)  She told me how brave she is and that her sister Abigail is kind of brave but sometimes gets scared (Side note:  Abigail is actually 100% fearless.).  After going through a list of her very brave family members, the question I feared most came, “Yeah, but, Aunt Sally, are you brave?” My natural response:  “Whaaaat?!  Of COURSE I’m brave.”

When I think of my dad’s illness and, eventually, his death, I will say that I had some very brave moments.  In fact, maybe too many than I would care for – especially before turning 30.  There were a lot of times when he was sick that I had to step up and embrace being a caretaker to a man I consider a hero.  There was a lot of courage in my own commitment to get healthy.  And, even though during his sickness there were many times that I chose be angry, resentful, or just straight up indifferent out of fear for being sad, in the final days of his life I mustered up every ounce of courage possible to tell the man I love most in this world goodbye.  In the week following my dad’s passing, I was brave while I tried to comfort people at his visitation who were also mourning the loss of someone who meant so much to them.  And, even though I excused myself to the nursery way too often to “check on Whit’s diaper situation” and started having a mini panic attack when I felt like there were too many chairs in Fellowship Hall following the funeral (Thank you, Mindy M., for immediately fixing this. 🙂 )  I felt I did an adequate job of being gracious at the funeral and I am 300% positive Dad would have been proud.

However, in the year following his passing, I’m most certain that I have not been entirely brave.  There are a lot of things that I originally pushed aside in the name of grieving, but seemed to have moved into the category of “Things I Choose Not to Think About, Because If I Move On To The Next Stage In My Life Then My Mourning Period Is Over And That Scares Me.”

For instance: I am terrified of dating.  It’s something that I really have no experience in.  In college, there wasn’t so much dating as there was “hanging out.”  At least, I hear people “hung out”.  I’d like to pretend that I had the kind of game that could lead to “hanging out”, but I watched too much SVU and Criminal Minds to think that was a good idea.  Then, when my life became so centered on illness, I didn’t think it was a good idea to invite anyone into my life who didn’t already unconditionally love me.  So now, I’m trying to do what most of my friends figured out years ago.  And while that’s scary, it’s still just an issue that could be resolved in a very self-deprecating and amusing episode of The Mindy Project.  What terrifies me most is that the man I’ll end up sharing my life with will most-likely have never met my dad.  That might sound silly, but there is absolutely no way of simply explaining my dad to someone and coming even close to doing him justice.  When I make inanimate objects sing or blurt out things like “Oh, Heavens, No!” or “Good grief!”, you can tell within 10 minutes of hanging out with my mom where that came from.  But then there’s this very prevalent side of me that is dry and sarcastic and gets grumpy while waiting for people to make a decision or standing in line or being surrounded by crowds of people or busy stores (I guess I could’ve just gone with an all-encompassing “gets grumpy”) and always has to fight the urge to tell people that they could probably just walk when they say they’re just going to run to the bathroom real quick.  That side of me that is usually easy going, but occasionally needs to write an angry but well-worded and entertaining letter, email, Facebook Message, and/or series of Post-It notes or just go on a really long drive?  That part of me is pretty hard to explain and nearly impossible to forgive without the proof of it’s source.

I’m a little lost in all other areas of my life, too.  I think the main issue is that I’m afraid to leave my little bubble of grief.  I cut myself some slack in that first year without my dad to basically just survive.  I worked two jobs and it was okay, because I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think about anything.  I promised myself I’d use that year to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, but now it’s been a year and three months and I have done very little of the self-reflection that I need to do in order to figure out that grown up stuff.  I mean, I have talking points that I use for things like family get-togethers and unexpectedly running into old classmates or friends.  And I definitely have leftover escapism fantasies from when my dad was sick that basically involve me opening up a bakery or moving into a house straight out of a Nancy Myers movie and writing romance novels under an awesome pseudonym.  I just haven’t done enough practical thinking on the issue.  I know it’s because I’m scared to leave this place of grieving.  I know I’ll always grieve my dad.  I am so much like him that not having him here is just incredibly lonely.  However, I know that in order to become a well-adjusted, happy, and successful adult I need to make some more room in my head for something other than my dead dad.  So, I guess this next year’s for that.

I’ve been wanting to write more, but most of my personal writing has been pretty – well – personal and a bit dark.  Since, historically, this blog has been a pretty silly place to talk about what’s been going on in my life it felt a bit fake to post about, oh, I don’t know a Taylor Swift Running Mix, when the theme of my life has been “Holy Shit, I miss my dad.”  But now that I have shared my burden a bit, we can get back to regular postings.  Despite being a little bit afraid, I am really excited to see what this year brings and to share it with all of my devoted readers.  (To my mom, my sister, my aunts, and the mothers of my friends:  You’re welcome.)  Also, I’m pretty sure this is at least the second time I’ve mentioned a Taylor Swift Running Mix in this blog.  I promise you, I’ve never made one.  It’s just always the most ridiculous thing I can think of.  That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.  😉

 

And since we could all use some very sincere cheesiness:

 

Rhymes With Soup

I spent the first 24-ish years of my life refusing to eat split-pea soup.  I was afraid.  Very, very afraid.  My mom would always try to convince me how good it was, but I was stubborn and put my foot down.  “Woman.  I will drink your refrigerated red wine,” I’d say, “But I will never eat your split pea soup.”  Then, I’d go on and eat my peanut butter and banana sandwich, because, you know, THAT wasn’t weird.  But, let’s just face it.  Split-pea soup just looks like.. well, it looks like something that rhymes with soup.  And that is disgusting.

However, I eventually caved.  I tried some.  And…. I thought it was delicious.  My mom was thrilled and would send ice cream buckets full of the soup (because this is how we transport large quantities of soup – and also, watermelon – in my family) back with me to Lincoln.  I would live off of split-pea soup for the next week until I went home and Mom would make more and send it back with me.  It was amazing.  It also helped that she’d regularly send me back an economy-sized package of toilet paper.  Because, you know, The Fiber.

THEN, about a year ago (November 1, to be exact) my sister, Greta, moved back to Lincoln.  One night she invited me over to her house (now OUR house) to go on a run and eat some soup.  She had made the most delicious split-pea soup in the Crock-Pot.  I’m not kidding you.  After just one spoonful of the stuff, I finally knew what it felt like to be in love (no offense to Paul Walker).  It was just a little bit sweet and the right kind of salty.  True story:  When my Uncle Jerry was so sick from the cancer and the chemo and couldn’t really eat anything, he wanted to eat Greta’s soup.

The secret:  Apples.

This soup has become somewhat of a staple in our house.  Last year, during Crock Pot Season (from here-on-out, “CPS”), my sister made this recipe a lot.  This year, at the beginning of CPS, I tried it and it turned out horribly.  The peas somehow didn’t cook all the way through.  Not only did it look like something that rhymes with soup, it also tasted like it.  However, Greta encouraged me not to give up.  I too would achieve Crock Pot greatness.  So, the next week I got the ol’ slow cooker out and tried it again.  And it was great!  And I was so happy!

The recipe was adapted from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  This cookbook is amazing.  It has so many great recipes.  Or, at least, so many great-looking recipes that I have stuck a post-it on and will undoubtedly make in the near future.  Near-ish future.  We’re really not vegan in this house, so we usually just use regular chicken bouillon instead of the vegan stuff.  Also, we have been known to use one cup of split peas and one cup of lentils if we’re running out of peas (which we refer to as Splentil soup) and it still tastes great.

 

Split Pea and Apple Soup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium-size carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium-size apple, peeled if not organic, cored, and chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken boullion
  • 2 cups split peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, plus extra for drizzling

Put all the ingredients, EXCEPT the balsamic vinegar, in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Be sure to remove the bay leaf and sprig of thyme (if you use fresh thyme).  We don’t have any scientific proof of the cause, but one time we didn’t remove the bay leaf and weird stuff happened to me.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Then, puree the soup with an immersion blender.  (This will get messy, so beware.)  You could also blend it in batches with a regular, counter-top blender.

Adjust the seasonings to your preference, drizzle with a few drops of extra balsamic (I usually make a smiley face), and enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Cooking Time:  6 to 8 hours

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I didn’t want to take a picture of the soup, because it looks disgusting, so I’m posting this picture of me and my sister. Because we were (and continue to be, if I do say so myself) pretty darn cute.

Here we go again

Listen, you guys… I know it’s been, like, 10 months since I last posted.  I know that if I had gotten pregnant at the time of my last post (I didn’t), I would already have a cute little baby.  In fact, I’d probably already be planning its first birthday party and might have switched this joint up to a mommy blog.  Thankfully, I do not have a baby and will hopefully never have a mommy blog.  (I do have a new baby niece, though!  Abigail Elanor was born in February and it should come as no surprise that she’s perfect in every way.  I will also take this moment to mention that Emily M. is now Emily J.  Woohoo!!!!)  I did, however, have quite the year.  As I’ve mentioned in past posts, my dad was very sick with liver disease.  This past year he took a turn for the worse and passed away in May.  Three months ago, Tuesday, to be exact.  Also, my favorite uncle passed away in February from a very short, but very intense battle with esophageal cancer.  And my dog died.  From old age.  He was, like, 15 years old and I already thought he was dead a couple months earlier.  So, that one’s not as big.  I’m just trying to prove that I have enough material to make a killing in the sad country song industry.

I’ve wanted to get back to writing, but every time I try to start a new post I go to a weird and dark place.  I don’t think the general public is ready to see that.  Maybe once I figure out how to make an actual frown with my face, I’ll release the inner darkness.  For now, I just wanted to give y’all a quick update.  I thought it would be awkward if, in the middle of a post about cupcakes or “The 20 Best Taylor Swift Songs to Run To” (hello!  I think I have my next post figured out!), I just casually mentioned my dead dad.

These past three months (heck, these past three YEARS) have been the hardest of my life.  Some days I think I’m doing okay, other days I call his cell phone ten times just to hear his extremely healthy sounding voice on his outgoing message.  Once I get to a better place, I might try to write some amazing and sentimental tribute to my dad.  But for now, I’m going to leave you with this picture of my dad because after going through hundreds of pictures of him over these last few months, this is the one that I think captures who he was the most.  I think those who know him would agree.

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My dad, the original honey badger. He just don’t give a sh**.

And this one’s pretty great, too.

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I’m ba-aaack!

In my last post (which yes, was written over a month ago), I mentioned I was going to have surgery to get a cyst removed.  Surgery and recovery were successful, and I feel great.  The cyst was actually attached to my left fallopian tube.  Since it was understandably pretty hard work for my fallopian tube to support a 9-10 cm bag of fluid, there’s a possibility that it and/or the ovary won’t work.  That’s fine, I suppose.  I’ve still got the right side and many, many more years before I plan on worrying about things like reproducing.  I was tempted to post the pictures taken during surgery, but I thought that might be taking it too far.  I did kind of want to brag/express my relief of how pretty and properly-functioning my liver appears to be.  Since my dad was diagnosed with liver disease a couple years ago, I’ve had this weird paranoia that my liver just looks like a lump of coal.  It doesn’t.  In fact, my doctor referred to it as “beautiful.”

I spent a week recovering at my parents’ house.  I really wasn’t in a whole lot of pain (thank you, Percocet), and for the first couple days, the only major discomfort I had was having unbearable hiccups every time I ate something.  They fill you up with gas during surgery, and had warned me of pain in the shoulders (which did occur) and that SOMEHOW the gas would have to leave my body.  I just thought this would happen through “fluffying” (the word my family made little Sally use instead of “farting” when she became way too comfortable discussing her bodily functions with anyone who would listen).  The fluffying did come, but I didn’t have too much discomfort.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, I have no sense of smell, so that was okay.

A couple weeks after surgery, I had my follow-up appointment and the doctor cleared me for exercising again.  Yeah!  She just said I shouldn’t do any ab exercises or heavy lifting.  Naturally, since I have no patience, I started out with Jazzercise.  I realized I wasn’t quite at 100% and should probably take more time to just ease back into it.  This past week was the first week that I really worked out a lot.  Lots of Jazzercise.  Lots of running.  It felt great AND I lost 2.2 lbs at weigh-in this week.  I finally secured a number in the next group of 10’s after straddling the line since July.

When I started blogging about my weight-loss journey, I kind of promised myself that my posts weren’t going to be all “Ohhh look at me.  I’m losing weight and I’m so awesome and pretty and this is so easy.”  I thought it was crucial for my success that I include the good AND the bad.  However, I haven’t done a very good job of that recently.  Since all of my health problems started, it’s been really hard for me to stay motivated.  From the beginning of July to a couple weeks ago, I felt so tired and crampy and bloated and really, just Blah.  Prior to my birthday, I was having big losses every week and then I just hit a brick wall.  It was normal for me to have weeks of losing 3-5 pounds, but in more recent months it’s been almost a flat-line.  I know I have some very real and valid excuses with the anemia and the hormones and the giant cyst growing inside of me, but the motivation just wasn’t there.  I didn’t do a lot of tracking for WW.  I didn’t attempt to do what little exercise I could.  I just kind of threw in the towel for a few months.  Now, I do have to say, I am proud of myself for still attending meetings.  I’m not sure I would have kept up with it if it wasn’t for my mom and my awesome WW groups (both meetings and Facebook).  It was hard to remind myself that my situation was temporary.  And it was temporary.

It’s been over 3-months since my initial “Houston, we have a problem” moment (this occurred at Jazzercise, on my birthday, and is most definitely not blog-friendly.  It was like it was my body’s way of saying “Welcome to your upper-twenties, Beyotch.”).  I’m finally ready to get back in the game.  My cyst is gone, my hemoglobin levels are back to normal, and the incisions are all healed, so I have no excuses anymore.  In general, I’m just so much happier when I can exercise.  My first time running after fully recovering was awesome.  I felt like Joseph Gordan-Levitt in his Hall and Oates dance on 500 Days of Summer.  I actually high-fived people.  Sure, I averaged a 20-minute mile.  But I was running.  And my legs didn’t feel like they weighed 300 pounds each.  And it’s FALL.

A few goals for the month of October:

  • run 20 miles a week
  • lose 10 pounds by November 3 (including yesterday’s weigh-in)
  • track, track, track
  • master the side-plank with the crazy leg-lift/press things routine in Jazzercise (or, at least, master the side-plank)
  • write a new blog post once a week

Things that I am really, really grateful for during my 3 months of hell:

  • my parents’ insane amount of support (this includes my dad’s willingness to give up the big TV and couch in the basement so I could spend a week watching cheesy Hallmark movies and reruns of TLC wedding shows and Criminal Minds)
  • good health insurance
  • awesome friends – I can’t remember if I shared in my last post, but The Emily’s and Kim went out to lunch with me before I started my fast for surgery.  It was so nice to be able to have a couple hours of B.F.F. time before I started my love-hate affair with Jell-O, popsicles, and Powerade.  Also, Emily M. brought me the most amazing peach cobbler after surgery.
  • Long conversations with my sister.  She constantly tells me how awesome and hilarious and pretty I am and therefore, validates my existence.  (She is even more awesome and hilarious and pretty than I am.)  She also did a good job of reassuring me that this didn’t all happen because I refused to name my uterus.  In fact, she agreed that maybe my uterus didn’t deserve a name since it has been dead-set on making my life a living hell for the last 15 (!) years.
  • My brother for being all responsible and protective and offering to call my health insurance company when I wasn’t sure if they were going to authorize anything.  They eventually did, but it was nice knowing that he was willing to do that.
  • My Aunt Pat, who attended my pre-op appointment with me.  She took notes and asked the questions I couldn’t think of because I was too nervous.  She also tends to make me feel much more normal than I probably am.
  • In general, just having an amazing family and friends.  They’re awesome and have offerred a lot of support and laughter and helped take my mind off of things.
  • The fact that my health problems were cured with a minimally-invasive surgery.  The hardest part of all of this was the waiting.  I’m not a patient person, and I can’t imagine what people with real, life-threatening diseases go through.  My heart definitely goes out to them.
  • A very helpful cooperating teacher and school.  It took a lot of stress off of me to know I didn’t have to worry about anything else when I was covering.
  • The Democratic National Convention taking place during my recovery.  You haven’t lived until you’ve been hopped up on pain killers, watching President Clinton speak.  Weird things that happened, as a result of the Percocet: barely conscious clapping and fist-pumping (during a speech that focused mainly on policy) and a confession to my mother that I “don’t blame Monica Lewinsky one bit.”  Side note:  How adorable was Julian Castro’s daughter?

Thanks, everyone, for your support over the last few months!  I’m excited to be back.

My current “power song” for running.  “Hello” by Karmin.

Too nice, too clean
Too white, too green
Little haters, big dreams
I don’t care what you think about me
Two faced, old friends, told me, the end was near, forget them
See a lot of things changed since then
Don’t they know that I came from Nebraska
Am I gonna quit? Nice of you to ask
But momma told me go and chase what you after
I’m on track, so I’m gonna rap faster

And then I usually change the song after the Nebraska shout-out.

Holy Cyst, Batman!

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last posted.  I’m sure you have all been worried sick.  I’ve just been going through some weird health stuff.  Between that and starting school, blogging hasn’t really been my top priority.  I want to give you fair warning, that this post probably crosses the line of too much information, and I suggest that if you’re sensitive to the women’s reproductive system or are a male without sisters (and maybe, in my case, my brother), you might want to turn away.  I will not be offended.

In July, I had my yearly check-up and after I described some issues I was having and had my blood drawn to discover I was extremely anemic, my nurse practitioner decided I should have an ultrasound done.  The ultrasound showed that I had a very thick endometrial lining and this grapefruit sized cystic mass growing inside of me.  Then, I had to meet with a doctor to decide a course of action.  She decided I needed an endometrial biopsy to make sure the lining was normal, and a CT scan to find out what exactly the cystic mass was and where exactly it was coming from.  Since I’m no longer on my parent’s health insurance, I had to wait for the CT scan to be preauthorized.  In the meantime, I had the biopsy done and those results came back normal.  After about 10 days of waiting, I was able to have the CT scan done.  They discovered it was a 9 cm ovarian cyst.  Maybe that’s actually tennis ball-sized?  Either way, it’s still significantly larger than my ovary.  In fact, it’s actually bigger than my uterus.  TMI, I know, but it’s kind of interesting, right?  I decided that I’m going to have laparoscopic surgery to remove the cyst (instead of just waiting to see if it shrinks), which has a relatively easy recovery.  They’ll also probably take a peek directly into my oven to see what’s up with that.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to recover and make it back to normal life after a few days of rest.  It’s possible that part of the cyst is solid, which would mean I have to have an actual open surgery.

My well-documented addiction to WebMD has made this a very stressful – yet educational – time for me.  There was a week (which felt like a month) where I was convinced I was one of the very small fraction of pre-menopausal women to have endometrial cancer.  See, I tend to have weird health issues.  I have absolutely no sense of smell (the exception to this being cigarettes and gasoline) because I was hit in the nose with a softball as a child and have a deviated septum.   At 15, I was most likely the youngest person ever to need a colonoscopy.  A couple years later I had to have my FIVE wisdom teeth removed.  I’m sure my friends could help me brainstorm more, but take my word, I have been to many appointments where the professional has stated “Wow.  I have never seen this before.” This is usually followed by them calling in their colleagues to check out whatever freak thing is going on with me at the time.  So, when I have any of the symptoms of an illness that is unlikely – but possible – for me to have, I just expect the worst.  I know this all makes me sound like a bit of a drama queen.  Trust me, I can be one.  I did come to a very dramatic self-diagnosis, but had a weirdly non-dramatic reaction.  I would say I was probably more apathetic than dramatic.    Then, after the results came back normal, I just grew impatient with finding out what it was and how we were going to treat it.

This all has also made me very impatient in the fitness/weight loss department.  Probably starting in the end of June/beginning of July, I had been getting SO tired.  Whenever I would run or Jazzercise, my limbs just felt so heavy.  I was worried that maybe I was getting burnt out on all the exercising I had been doing.  I also thought maybe I was starting to get lazy, since I had reached my goal of running the 5k.  I had no motivation to work out and really just wanted to sleep all the time.  Then, after discovering the cyst, I was paranoid to do any exercise because I was pretty positive I was going to pop it.  My doctor cleared me for running, but I’m not allowed to do any jumping.  Jumping could cause the cyst and my ovary to get twisted up together, which would be very bad.  Sooo… regular, high impact Jazzercise is out of the question for me.  However, I’m going to try out the Body Sculpting Jazzercise classes in Lincoln so I can still get some strength in along with the cardio from running.  I started running again and it has been good.  I forgot how therapeutic it is.  I actually ran in the rain for the first time last week.  While running in the rain did not turn out to make me high (click here if you are not familiar with this story), I do have to say that running in 60 degree cloudy weather kind of did.  Also, I would much rather run in pouring rain than 100+ degree heat, so long as I’m on pavement and not gravel.  It’s been nice to get into a workout routine.  The weight hasn’t been coming of like I want it to, but I’m hoping it will once this all gets worked out.  My mom just keeps telling me to keep doing what I’m doing and ignore the scale for now.  I know she’s right; I’m just not a very patient person.

 

Lessons I’m learning throughout this whole process:

  • Barium Sulfate is kind of disgusting.
  • When the CT tech suggests that you may feel like you wet your pants once the contrast IV starts, you will feel like you wet your pants.  You may be thinking “Oh… I’m special.  That won’t happen to me.  And if it does, I’ll be able to tell the difference.”  You won’t be able to tell the difference and may start repeatedly saying to yourself, outloud and uncensored, “ Sally, chill the Eff out, you did not pee your pants.”
  • Ice cream after your yearly pap is a great tradition.  You’ve earned it.  However, if you’re trying to lose weight (and have to have a pap, ultrasound, biopsy, and CT scan over the course of a month), you may want to think of a different reward system.
  • If your legs are so heavy that you don’t want to work out, and your cramps are so bad that you suspect that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be born in your toilet, see a doctor.  Seriously.
  • Stopping Jazzerise cold-turkey WILL cause withdrawal.  One of the main symptoms of this specific withdrawal is willingly putting three Pitbull Songs on your running play list.  In certain circumstances, you may find yourself replaying “Shake Senora” over and over again.  Seek help immediately.
  • Talking on the phone in a public place about how annoyed you are with this thing growing inside of you and how you can’t wait to get it removed will cause passerby’s to assume that you are talking about a fetus and in turn give you the stink eye.  The best solution to this is to just not talk on your phone in public places.  (This is actually a very good approach to cell phone etiquette, even if there’s no chance of people assuming that you’re having an abortion.)
  • My friends and family are absolutely amazing and supportive and incredible in every way.  I am very, very lucky.

Completely random story…. A couple weeks ago, I saw a real-life badger when I was running.  It wasn’t a honey badger, but I could tell it still didn’t care.  I think I ran faster than I have ever run before.  What fun wildlife have you seen while out running?

Warning:  Video contains extremely inappropriate language.

 

 

 

July Foodie Penpal Reveal!

Hey All!  Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  It’s just been a crazy couple of weeks.  (I’ll do another post to fill you in on that later.  I promise… maybe.)  This month I signed up for a really fun program called Foodie Pen Pal.  You get matched up with a completely random person and have to send them fun food products.  Then, someone else gets matched up with you and sends you food.

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

I received a package from Emily (I KNOW, another Emily!  I told her this was a good sign.) over at The Vegtress.  Shortly after we received our assignments, we started emailing and getting to know each other.  She’s an actress and a vegan out in California (lucky!) and was just so sweet.  I mentioned that we don’t really have too many options when it comes to “health food” in Aurora, so she sent me all kinds of awesome snacks.  Everything I received was perfect for a quick snack and it didn’t take me long to devour it all.  I can’t wait to get back to Lincoln so I can head to Trader Joe’s and refill on everything!

Thanks, Emily!!

Contents:

  • Glories Sweet Potato Chips – These were my absolute FAVORITE.  I love sweet potato chips with all my heart and these were no exception.  I have to admit, that the bag was gone within 24 hours of it’s arrival.
  • Love Grown Granola – One of my favorite things for breakfast is Greek Yogurt with granola and fruit, so this was perfect.  It was a lot heartier and filling than the usual generic brand I buy, so I felt very spoiled.  I’m also a big fan of measuring out servings of granola into zip-loc bags and keeping them in my purse for snacks.
  • Mrs. May’s Almond Rice Stix – These (like everything else) were absolutely amazing.  It would not have been hard for me to sit down and just eat the entire bag.
  • Mrs. May’s Black Sesame Crunch – I had never had anything quite like this before, but I loved it!  My only piece of advice is check the mirror when you’re done eating to make sure you don’t have sesame seeds in your teeth!  This was more of a savory snack, and was perfect on my weigh-in day when I needed to eat something but didn’t want to eat something heavy right before.  I’ve actually been craving them a lot this week and get sad when i realize I ate them all.
  • Clif Mojo Bar (Mountain Mix) – This truly was like trail mix in a bar form.  (which – believe me – is a very very good thing)
  • Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar – Another great bar.  I love keeping bars on hand to eat before an impromptu work out or if I need something to tie me over between meals.  My strategy toward the bars Emily gave me was “ohhh… I’m just going to try a bite, then I’ll have the rest after my run.”  Then after the bite, I thought I could eat half.  But after I ate half, I figured I might as well eat the whole thing.  Kids… Do not follow my example.
  • Larabars – These are really the only non-Snicker based energy bars you can find in Aurora.  However, Emily sent me some flavors we don’t get at the Aurora Mall.  I love them so much.  The Cappuccino one was especially amazing.  I’m always surprised at how filling they are for such small bars.
  • Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee – I’m convinced this is the best invention ever.  I love coffee, but I’m horrible about making it.  My coffee pot is really slow, so if I remember to make it I usually only get about a cup.  These were easy, fast, and they tasted amazing.
  • Ginger Chews – Since finishing the chews that were in my package, I have bought – and eaten – two entire packages of these.  They’re amazing.

I’m participating in Foodie Pen Pal again, and am already so excited!  If you would like to sign up, CLICK HERE!

Also, be sure to check out Emily’s blog:  HERE!

An Introvert’s Musings on the Omaha Color Run

I have a confession to make.  It’s one that you might find surprising.  After all, I practically ooze charm and grace.  But it’s true, I am a bit of an introvert.  I’m not great with crowds of people.  I’m realllly not great with small talk.  When I meet new people, I have to struggle through a lot of awkwardness before a common interest is found and we can discuss that.  Once I hit my stride, or am really comfortable with someone, sometimes you can’t shut me up.  If you ever find yourself in a conversation with me and want to break free from the painful awkwardness that is happening, all you have to do is bring up any of the following topics:  The West Wing (The show, not the actual west wing of the White House.  Although, if you’re passionate about it, I will probably appreciate the conversation), Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, HIMYM, Britney Spears (specifically her relationship with JT and/or her amazing comeback), the NBA during the first half of the 90’s, pro-wrestling during the second half of the 90’s, Ace of Base, Sweet Valley High books, Hillary Clinton, and – most importantly – Billy Joel.  I think a lot of people assume that introverts are just shy or have low self-esteem.  And that’s really not the case at all.  I love meeting new friends, I just really love my amazing core of best friends.  I’m incredibly proud of all I have/am accomplished/accomplishing, getting vocal attention for it just makes me feel uncomfortable.  (The exception being when I’m talking to my mom.  Then I’m like, “yeah.  I know.  I’m awesome.”)  I know it seems weird for an introvert to have a blog, especially one about their life and not, like, World War II memorabilia.  It’s completely the opposite, though.  I do much better when I’m writing than when I’m talking.  I can think things through before I actually publish them.  My approach to blogging has been to just pretend that I’m writing an email to Emily M. (with fewer links to outrageously expensive/impractical clothes and less planning of my very real wedding to Jason Segel), and it just kind of works for me.  With writing, I can just go to town, and if something needs to be changed, it can be easily done.  I do need to step out of my comfort zone more, but I don’t really think that being an introvert is some kind of character flaw.  The world needs both introverts and extroverts to run.  That being said, I have some advice for you:

The Color Run was not designed for introverts.

We left for Omaha at about 6:30 Saturday morning.  Mindy had coffee for me, which I was soooo grateful for!  After a couple hours of laughing and gossiping, we arrived at the hotel to pick up Shelley and her daughter, Julia (yay for new friends!).  We walked over to the race site and were provided with a nice selection of Pop-Nasty music while we waited.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Pop-Nasty” – which I suppose is every person in the world besides myself and Emily M. – it is simply the music that is neither pop nor hip hop.  It manages to cross both genres, but is somehow neither.  Most pop-nasty “artists” are people whose careers fail to last more than a couple years.  The exception, of course, would be Black Eyed Peas.  The verdict is still out on Ke$ha.  When you’re waiting for the Color Run to begin, you want Pop-Nasty music to be playing.  We were pretty lucky to be in the third wave of people.  Since there were 13,000 people running, they let us go in waves of 1000.  At every kilometer (something I didn’t realize until I did a little research), we were covered in color.  At the end of the race there was a big color party where everyone threw their colored dust in the air and went crazy (I presume, we didn’t partake in the color party).  Sounds fun, right?  Well.  Kind of.

I think my main complaint about the run was the heat.  I know that no one had control over this, but the people planning the event should have either picked a date earlier in the summer or started early early in the morning.  By the time we even started running, we were drenched in sweat.  Now, I realize part of this is my own fault.  You would think that as a resident of Nebraska for 26 full years, I would know better than to agree to an outdoor physical activity, in this fine state, anytime after 7:00 am during July or August.  Apparently, I didn’t.  When I exercise in the heat and humidity, I get really weird dry mouth and have a lot of mucus build up in my throat (attractive, I know).  That, in and of itself, is unpleasant.  When you add massive clouds of cornstarch, things get really tricky.  I’ve never had asthma, but I think I caught a little glimpse of what it’s like on Saturday.
In addition to the heat, there were just soooo many people.  For someone who does horrible in crowds, this was not good.  I think the plan was to let waves of 1000 people go every 10 or 15 minutes, but instead they let us go every 2-3 minutes.  I think that was probably a good idea, because otherwise they would have been there well into the afternoon.  It just all made me very anxious.  My running partner and I were separated, which really, was fine.  Even when I run with a partner, I listen to my iPod and zone everything out so it doesn’t make a huge difference.  There were a lot of people walking (like, walls of 10 girls walking together, side-by-side) and a lot of little kids, so I felt like I was always navigating around and tripping over people.  Also, I made the mistake of not really looking at the course map.  I wasn’t at all familiar with the course and had no idea how far along we were.  I later found out that the color bursts were at every kilometer, which makes sense, but I still think it would have been nice if they would have put out signs saying how far we had run.  I ended up walking at least a mile of it, and eventually crossed the finish line at about 50 minutes.  They were completely out of water, but luckily Emily had grabbed an extra bottle (they were miniature bottles) when she finished.  I know that there were people who took 3 or 4 bottles of water, but I have a hard time understanding why, when you know it’s going to be extremely hot and humid, you wouldn’t make sure that there was enough water and then some.  I doubt it would cost too much, if any, more to buy bigger water bottles.  Or, if they weren’t going to have enough water, let people know so they could bring their own water.  They also didn’t have any food.  Granted, the only races I’ve done have been relatively small and it’s undoubtedly easier to provide for 1000 than 13,000, but it’s nice having a table of fruit and bagels when you finish a run.  When we were heading out of Omaha, we saw several ambulances heading toward the race area and I was just happy that everyone from our group made it out all right.

There were, however, some good things about the Color Run.  It was an extremely fun day with friends.  We had so much fun on the car ride there and back and waiting for the race to start.  I also love the huge sense of community there is between runners at races.  Even when we were driving to Omaha, cars would pass us with people in all white who were obviously going to the Color Run.  They would wave and we would wave and it was just fun.  After the run, we stopped at a Subway in a gas station.  Since we left Omaha pretty early, we were the only color runners there, but soon other people covered in head-to-toe color started showing up.  It kind of felt like we all knew each other.

Since Saturday, Em and I have reflected a lot on what we might have done differently.  My friends who posted pictures on Facebook, looked like they were having as much fun as the people in the ad looked.  This, of course, made us wonder if there was something wrong with us.  We kind of chalked it up to the fact that it was unbearably hot and that we’re both ridiculously large introverts.

Since it’s not likely that I’ll be having a lobotomy and/or moving to somewhere with a milder climate, here are a few of my suggestions and things I’ll keep in mind if I decide to do it next year:

  • Get a big group of friends together and plan on walking a large portion of it.  Also, one of my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors posted pictures of the Color Run in San Francisco and she and her friends pregamed with PBR beforehand.  It was definitely too hot for beer drinking followed by running in Omaha, but I’m sure we could have figured something out (vodka and Crystal Light, maybe?).
  • Carry water with you (and maybe also a snack, for after the run).  Unless you are the fastest person in the first wave of people, you will most likely be stopping to walk quite a bit.  The water stations they had were extremely congested and I didn’t really want to wait, so it would have been nice to have my own water.  If you’re not stopping to walk, you’re probably running over children.  If you’re running over children, then may God have mercy on your soul.
  • Make sure your iPod is on the setting you want it to be on.  I carefully formulated a playlist, but accidentally put it on shuffle instead of having it play straight through.  Somehow all my “filler” songs played at the very beginning.  It just really wasn’t my day.
  • Study the route – I think this goes for just about every race.  After forgetting this detail, I felt lost the entire run.
  • Wear an old bra.  It’s weird because my shirt got almost no color on it, but my bra and actual skin were covered in color.  I’m still trying to wash color out of my stomach.
  • Have fun!!!  Embrace the fact that this is a fun run and don’t take it too seriously.  If you have been training to run a 5k, choose a different race for your first one.  I think if I would have done the Color Run before I ran the A’Ror’N Days 5k, I would have been very discouraged with all the starting and stopping.  Get your “serious” race out of the way and just have fun with this one.

Have any of you done the Color Run in your cities?  Was your experience similar to mine or am I just a grumplestiltskin?  I’d love to hear your feedback!