Why so C (rious)?

Yesterday my Dad and I went to the USC Norris Cancer Center. This was an incredibly humbling experience. It was humbling because, for starters, I don't HAVE cancer. Well, I like to put it like this: I don't have Cancer, I have A cancer. My tumor is not the Cancer you hear about in movies and Make-A-Wish advertisements. I will probably never lose my hair. My tumor is A cancer in the sense that it's a mass of tissue that isn't supposed to be where it is in my body. But it was the first time that I have ever been introduced to someplace where Cancer patients go on a daily basis- as someone who is supposed to be there with them. It was a bit scary and a lot humbling. We went in to get a second opinion from an Oncologist there, Dr. Hu. We discussed my options as far as the remaining parts of my tumor and should I do Chemotherapy or Surgery, etc. He agreed with my previous Oncologist, Dr. Rau, in that he does not believe I will need Chemotherapy to remove the tumor from my chest. There is always a chance though, as I have discovered, that plans will change. But for now I don't need Chemo or Radiation therapy. Not much new on the battlefront on that one- more tests to determine how rapidly my tumor is growing after Dr. D took those portions out for biopsy. If it appears to be growing rapidly, it may be malignant, which we didn't think it was at first but we just don't really know. If it isn't growing too rapidly then we continue on with the surgery course. That means that I will go to the surgeon in Los Angeles sometime after February, but not limited to a span of 6 months or so. Obviously we are trying to get this whole thing taken care of sooner than later, but now that I'm not feeling any pain from the pressure of this thing on my chest I have the luxury of taking a more relaxed approach. The surgery, though, this time around will be much more intense. I'm not sure I mentioned it before but there seems to be a general consensus that the Cardiac Surgeon who will be there will need to "stop my heart" to complete the procedure. I'm sure they do this all the time but every time I hear someone mention this I choke on my breath a little bit. Stopping my heart... Wow. They will obviously still have my major arteries pumping and everything, but it will be through a machine. I don't know all of the mechanics of this but it sounds terrifying. I guess what I should really do is start looking up heart surgery and get a better feel for what I am in for. That way at least I'll KNOW, you know?
But as I walked out of the doctor's office, past all of these people who were waiting to see him, I realized how minor this all really must be. I mean, here are people with REAL problems. I walked by a lot of people waiting with their loved ones, usually pushing them around in a wheelchair because the Chemo/Radiation had made them too weak to walk. I walked by the Beauty Shop, where I saw a middle-aged woman trying on a beautiful Auburn wig to cover where her own hair once was. Walking out to the parking lot I saw a young girl, maybe in her 30's, alone waiting for her car. I had been sitting next to her for a few minutes when I noticed she was holding information on a Uterus Scan that she must have just had... I couldn't help but wonder if she was sitting there by herself worrying about a possible Uterine Cancer. She was so young, like I said maybe 30-35... who knows if she had children yet but maybe she never will, now. These poor, but amazing people. They have some serious stuff going on, some life-altering problems. And sitting there in the freezing cold wind someplace in LA, I suddenly felt very, very small. I wont pretend to have some Martyr sense of grace about this- I am still scared shitless for myself in the near future. But on another note I'm pretty sure I will be okay, probably even better, through this. And I feel lucky that I only have this small bump on the road rather than something that will completely alter my course in life.
If I don't write anything else before Friday- Merry Christmas. It's going to be a great one.


Bean Stalking

Today is much better than yesterday. God bless sleep. And while we're on the subject: God bless milk, because it makes me fall asleep.
I blog-stalked my friend, Sara's blog today... only to find that her blogspot led to a discussion of blog stalking in and of itself! And so, I have decided to continue on with that. We are all guilty of it. It's like celebrity gossip, I just can't get enough. I'm sure there is some psycho-analytic explanation of it all, but I don't feel much like getting into that. Suffice to say I could read blogspots all day long. I follow links to other links to other links, and I have to admit- even reading some stranger's blogs just fascinate me. No I am not going to do drive-bys or anything. But people's lives are just so interesting sometimes. I especially like photography blogs or people who take a lot of pics of their exciting lives. So for any of you who are in the same boat as I am, here are a few of my favorite blogspots that I have found so far (In no particular order):
This is my friend, Holly's blog. She hasn't updated in in ages (shame on you Holly!) but her posts are always hilarious and put a smile on my face.
Sara, a friend who lives in Germany that I reference a lot on here. Her life is so exciting and she always has pictures of her adorable kids and sites to see during her travels through Europe. Also- another great writer whose blogs always put a smile on my face.
Mentioned this one a few times too. I don't know her but her photography is incredible.
Another of Sheena's blogspots. Fun recipes and a good read overall.
A family friend from years ago who I happened on during one of those "I wonder what this guy is up to these days...?" moments. Turns out he is up to the most awesome life ever.
Just found this one through my friend's wife. Looks like a good one...
If you're ever curious what "cool" looks or sounds like; go here. I stole practically their entire playlist because their taste in music is phenomenal. Another old friend of the fam.
My best friend all growing up. Her job is a totally awesome not for profit organization and so inspiring!! Love her!

There you go. Stalk on.


Green with Grateful, not envy.

Lately it seems like most days I wake up revived, renewed, and brilliantly happy with my life. Today I feel tired. I don't know why... maybe blame it on hormones or a chemical balance from lack of sleep last night. It was just one of those nights where for no apparent reason I could not seem to fall asleep. But today I feel very human, and very flawed. I'm sure everyone has these days. I woke up more exhausted than when I fell asleep, got to work only to find a pile of papers practically falling off of my desk, and despite my delicious lemon parfait breakfast- I am starving.
But today I don't mind being tired, or hungry, or overloaded. I just feel very, very small. I feel like I am not where I should be in my life at all right now. Not in the "I should be married with kids and a Golden Retriever by now" sense of the word. I just feel like I should have traveled more or something. I guess I wish I had accomplished more in my life by now. I have been looking through an old family friend's blogspot and seeing all of the places that he and his new bride have been traveling to. They took a year off from school and work to just travel through Europe... everywhere from Morocco to Spain to France. And you know what? I am green with envy. All my life, all I have ever wanted to do is travel. I want to see the world and experience different cultures and lifestyles. But here I sit, living this dream vicariously through a number of my friends across the Pacific Ocean. Another of my friends is living in Germany, and yet another just moved back from doing a reality show in Shanghai. And of course I know that if I want to do these things I have to start now and make plans and just go for it, but the reality of it all is that I probably never will. I mean, maybe in a few years when I learn how to save up some money I can go explore Europe, but for now the thought of preparing and saving and "going for it" just terrifies me. I am literally frozen in my tracks. And I thought about all of this this morning, and I felt very sad, and incompetent for being unable to take such risks. And I felt disappointed in myself and jealous of all of these people who are living these amazing experiences. And then- I stopped. I stopped because I realized that even when I really, really want to it's wrong to compare myself to other people. I stopped because I know that everyone has their gifts and their challenges. I stopped because I ALSO know plenty of people who have never left California. I know people who have never had the chance to eat a snow cone in Hawaii, never put their feet in the ocean off the coast of Florida, and never hiked up to a cave in Utah and listened to bats up in the distance above their heads. I stopped because Thursday is Thanksgiving and this morning has been an ungrateful one. I stopped because I have a job where I make good money and really don't have to struggle all that much. I stopped because although it took me longer than most, I finished my schooling (for now) and had a blast along the way. I stopped because I am surviving having a tumor wrapping itself around a vein leading to my heart and pressing against my lungs this year. I stopped because I have been blessed to have spent the past 11 months with the love of my life, my best friend, and one of the most amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing... someone who I have never, not once since we've met, doubted that he's had me in his heart throughout any circumstances. I stopped because when I was in the hospital, my parents drove out in their motor home and slept in the parking lot so that I wouldn't have to be alone. I stopped because I spent yesterday evening having an early Thanksgiving dinner with my other best friend and her family and some friends. I stopped because despite my family going out of town, I am still managing to have 2 more "Thanksgivings," totalling three delicious meals surrounded by friends.
I have plenty of time to live my life, to go where I want to go and see what I want to see. And just because I'm not globetrotting and waking up to exotic breakfasts right now doesn't mean I never will. I am grateful for the blessings I have been given, for the head on my shoulders that God has seen fit to give me, and for the amazing people I have surrounding me. I have hope that one day I WILL see the rest of the world, but for now I am grateful for the world currently before my eyes.



So yesterday was my doctor appointment with my Thoracic surgeon, Dr. Davison. I was pleased with what he had to say, which was nice. Rather than write it out, I will give you my checklist of upcoming events:
1. Make appointment with the surgeon at the Sunset Blvd (L.A.) to have more or less a meet and greet with him.
2. Make appointments for another CT Scan and also a PET scan.
3. Go over results, schedule appointment for my surgery sometime in January-ish. Since we removed a lot of the tumor for biopsy in my last surgery, it hasn't been causing me any trouble and therefore we are in less of a rush to get to my surgery date :)
So that is the lowdown on my tumor and I. I have a nice break between surgeries, which is great and will give me the chance to relax for a minute, after which I will have my surgery in L.A. with two surgeons and a Cardiac Surgeon as well to come in and get any remaining germ cell tissue off of my Vena Cava or to swoop in on the off chance that there are any problems. I wont get as many visitors this time around since I will be further away, but it will be well worth it to finally (I hope!) be done with all of this.
And now for the non-surgery topic: more Christmas stuff. I can not seem to get my mind off of Christmas this year... I guess I just have a lot to be grateful for, more than any other year at least. But I found a nice little checklist to keep my sanity the next month or so and thought I would share it with you! Merry Checking!
Early November and before:
__ Update your holiday card list. Determine how many cards you need and make sure you have updated addresses.
__ Shop for cards and wrapping paper. This one is directed specifically like those who (like me) have a difficult time waiting to give people their gifts. It's much easier if you wrap them! Out of sight, out of mind.
__ Make plans for overnight guests. Most people my age don't seem to have to deal with this one, but if you are playing hostess this year for any of the coming holidays, you may want to check that you have spare sheets and decent towels for your visitors. Nothing says "Starving college student" more than bath towels with holes in them. But then again, maybe that's what you're going for during the gift-giving season!
__ Make a master gift list. This one is pretty self explanatory: list those you need to buy gifts for and ideas for what to get them. Don't forget to jot down a couple of non-specific things for those people who buy you something when they may have completely slipped your mind! (Oops!)
__ Make a budget. Go with a ballpark figure that will help you stay financially grounded when things start to get crazy.
__ Start shopping! Just a thing or two here and there. I am trying to get anything I just happen upon or stuff that I know is not going to go on sale this year... this is a good time to get large gifts out of the way because you know anything that just came out this year probably isn't going to go on any kind of clearance due to high demand.
One month before (Directly after Thanksgiving):
__ Do any online shopping. Order gifts ahead so that you have time to wrap them. Monday after Turkey day is a great time to online shop, they are notorious for having huge sales (The online equivalent of Black Friday).
__ Start to decorate your house. Keep notes of anything (bulbs, ornaments, etc.) that may need to be replaced and stock up as you see fit.
__ Take stock of glasses and plates. Again, this is for hostesses only and the only reason I am even mentioning it is that I wanted to tell you they have AWESOME deals at Ross right now.
__ Start writing and addressing holiday cards. This can take some time, depending on what kind of cards you write. Are you the short and sweet type or the heartfelt novelist? Begin cards accordingly.
Three weeks before:
__ Mail cards. Duh.
__ Buy a tree. This is a good time to buy one that will stay fresh through Christmas. Go here: http://www.ehow.com/how_2136296_keep-christmas-tree-alive.html for tips on how to pick and sustain your tree this year.
__ Prepare your meal. No, not ACTUALLY start cooking, but order your turkey or ham (you don't want to get caught short!) and make your list for the big event. Again- hostesses only.
Two weeks before:
__ Make sure out of town presents are mailed. Try to have gifts out by December 10th.
__ Shop for perishable items. Get canned goods or pantry staples out of the way. I imagine this also helps with guilt when you get your grocery receipt from the actual main event shopping.
One Week before:
__ Deep clean your house. If you have time and if you will have ANY company, not just a party. It's just holiday manners.
__ Buy batteries for any gifts that will be opened Christmas day. ESPECIALLY if you have kids. I remember opening gifts and having no batteries to actually play with them and it totally sucks.
Three days before:
__ Shop for fresh ingredients. This will give you time to avoid grocery store traffic a bit but not let them go bad.
Two days before:
__ Start cooking... anything that can sit in the fridge for a couple of days. (I don't know about this one, but I'm not a chef.)
__ Buy fresh flowers. This will give them time to bloom before the big day!
The day before:
__ Recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder. Self-explanatory.
__ Finish any wrapping or cooking that needs to be done.
__ Sit back and relax!! Merry Christmas, you did it!

** Note: I do not claim, in any sense of the word, to actually follow this list exactly. I just think it's a nice idea and something I will attempt to follow loosely this year.


Im Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

I have been getting an early start on my Christmas preparations this year, and I'm pretty excited about it since it's the first year I have done anything before December 23rd. I was reading my Real Simple magazine (love that magazine so much!) and I found an interesting article. It reads:
FIVE MILLION TONS: The amount of trash produced by Americans between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day(...) That's 25% more than we generate in a typical five-or six-week period during the rest of the year.
Now I wouldn't say I'm any kind of nut over it, but I do consider myself to be one who puts some effort into being eco-friendly. So here are some personal tips, some from magazines, and a few from the web- for you to try to make this Christmas a GREEN one! (I've also included some to help give back to the community and further.)
*Substitute holiday postcards for cards that require envelopes.
*Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany electronic presents.
*Don't trash your tree. Find a place to recycle it at Earth911.com
*Do the same with Styrofoam packing peanuts. The UPS store accepts clean foam packaging peanuts for reuse.
*Buy locally made gifts. Presents from afar increase the amount of transportation pollution. Think farmers markets for funky one-of-a-kind jewelry.
*Rather than taking a tree, think about planting one this year! A family outing to plant and "give" rather than "take" a tree makes it that much more special. Or if you must have that traditional tree this year, consider planting one anyways.
*Consider giving the gift of events, rather than tangible items. Pay for a spa day or trip to the zoo. Or, considering the current economy, you can offer your services, such as a night of free babysitting or cleaning someones house for a week.
*Use LED lighting for your tree and home this year. They save 95% less energy than regular bulbs. And while you're at it- turn those lights out when you go to sleep, don't waste energy by leaving them on all night.
*Don't use a plastic tree. Although they DO last longer than live ones, research shows that most people throw them out every few years when they start to look run down from repeated use. They are then sent to landfills where their plastic content makes them last forever.
*Rather than wrapping paper, use recycled items to wrap gifts! Newspapers, magazines, and fabric are all great choices. You can also buy Hemp wrapping paper, which is easier to recycle.
*Recycle old electronics. I saw a thing at Best Buy where you can turn in your gently used iPod for a discount on a new one! Search the net for specials just like these.
*Oxfamamericaunwrapped.com offers the ability to purchase items to be donated by Oxfam to their programs for developing countries. You can buy items like a cow, sheep, or building tools to be donated and receive a photo of the item as your tangible gift for your recipient.
*McFaddenFarm.com sells handmade garlands from fresh Bay leaves to be reused for months afterwards in your kitchen.
*Christmas is the PERFECT time to cut down on your electricity by burning candles and utilizing your fireplace to cozy up with loved ones! Choose soy, beeswax, and vegetable wax candles over non-biodegradable petroleum wax ones. Buy some in seasonal scents like Pumpkin in November (My favorite!) or Pine next month!!
*I LOVE the cards and gifts through the (Red) program. Go to http://www.joinred.com/Home.aspx for all the info and links to (Red) vendors.
*Consider sending out ecards this year rather than mailing hard copies of cards. Who doesn't have an email account these days, anyway?? Plus you can save on stamps AND time.
*I'm also a big supporter of the Surfrider Foundation. Giving the gift of a membership to someone only costs $25 and even gives them discounts at local stores all year long!
So there's a list of ideas. Feel free to post any you come up with as well!


New Order.

I am trying not to talk about my medical stuff as much because it's becoming boring to me, but I will keep you all updated for those of you who are curious. I have my next appointment set for Thursday (one week from today) to discuss the next steps for my future surgery. That is all for now.
Anyways... I have had a long time to reflect on some things, having been out of work for the past month or so. Before that my life had seemed, to me, to be repetitions of getting up, going to work, coming home, showering, and sleeping. The occasional event in between was usually seen as an obstacle, or a rushed affair where the getting there so quickly ruined the fun of the being there entirely. There was always a place to be, a call to take, or a thing to clean. I cant tell you how much of my time was spent running in what I now realize were simply circles, trying to tidy up an already quite orderly life. Then I would spend hours preparing for sleep because my body realized (more than my mind) that I wasn't tired because I hadn't actually DONE anything that day.
I have always known that it's important to assess one's own life every so often to see where you are and where you would like to go... but I have been so wrapped up in my own little pseudo-dramas that I haven't had a chance to pencil some quiet reflection time in. But when all that you can muster up the energy to do is sit up to watch movies in bed, quiet thought is pretty much your constant companion. And so I have been reflecting, thinking, wondering... all of those things I forgot to question or contemplate. And I also did a lot of watching. Staying at other people's houses and in their care reminds you of just how different everybody is.
Through all of this it has occurred to me that I am a control freak. I don't think I've always been one, I think it's just happened as I've gotten older. I want my room arranged just so, my life all very timely and in sequence... but no matter what, my room has always remained disorganized, my life out of line and chaotic. And through my bed rest, I realized that these things are out of my hands. My world doesn't always spin on my watch. My desk at work is going to be cluttered, my cat is going to get out of the house sometimes. All the small things that no one sees coming, be it a rainy day in June or a Sternotomy in October, they all will happen. Stop trying to arrange your life, I say. Life is messy... and while I could spend it straightening and planning I think I would much rather spend it living. I'm still learning, but I am attempting to take a different approach to my life these days. I want to loosen my grip on what I think "should be," and flow into what "is." My father, I have seen the older we both get, has this outlook. He's become very laid back these days and I love that about him. Obviously I want to be passionate about some things in my life, but I don't have to turn everything in my life into some life or death event. Sometimes it's okay to let your phone ring and not even bother to check to see who it is. It's okay to stay up long after your bedtime on a work night. Let go of that feeling I get in my stomach that says "this isn't on the agenda, you should be doing something else!" and just allow myself to go with the flow.
That's my opinion. Or perhaps the Diet Coke I'm becoming caffeinated from's.


To Chemo or not to Chemo... that is the question.

Well I am not really in the mood to write some long blog today so I will keep it short but we had my appointment with my Oncologist today. He said (in so many words) that he doesn't recommend Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy because the tumor is not definitely Malignant. He said that there may be parts that ARE malignant, but nothing they can tell for sure right now. He recommends another surgery. Sooo... awesome.
On another note, I'm healing nicely. Here's an updated scar shot, now 3 weeks post op. Although I don't know how much it matters since I will just have to get another surgery and get cut back open again anyways.


Next Stop

Ooooohhhh kay... so here is the update I keep promising and not giving anyone. Apparently my surgery wasn't quite what they had hoped for. Upon going in they saw that my tumor is wrapped around my aorta near my heart and while it seems not to be anything doctors are terribly worried about for now- it DID prevent them from removing it. Instead, my surgeon removed a couple of large samples of the tumor to send off to the Mayo Clinic to have analyzed.
When I was in recovery in the hospital, they told me that they were unable to remove ALL of the tumor and that I would either have to come back (based on whatever my Oncologist decides) for another surgery or else to have Chemotherapy. They had also told me that my tumor was now being considered a Malignant Thymoma, rather than the benign version they had thought prior to my surgery.
By my post-op appointment that I had last Thursday they had my results back from the Mayo Clinic and my surgeon was quite pleased with them. He said that my tumor had proven to be a benign teratoma after all, which is apparently great news. We are moving forward with an appointment with my new Oncologist next week where we will discuss the next step- more likely than not it will be either Chemotherapy or else Radiation Therapy. Neither of these are my first choice but by now I just want to be better. In the mean time I am still taking all kinds of medications and taking it easy. Im not back at work for another two weeks which would be awesome except that I can't drive so it kind of puts a fun damper on things. Oh well! 


For anyone who was curious

See... it's not so bad. Okay, it's still pretty bad but it hasn't started healing yet. Also it goes further down but I spared you the image of my stitches that are right below the bottom of the incision.


Dr. Strangelove

Hello everyone out there! I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while but it's been difficult to sit at a computer for any extended period of time so I haven't really gotten around to it. Mostly I might just be lazy, though! But I figure I owe some sort of an update so I will write as much as I have the energy to here and if I cut out early I apologize in advance.
I've been feeling pretty fantastic (well, comparatively) since my surgery. I know it has EVERYTHING to do with the amount of prayers that have been directed my way. The surgery part was much more of a breeze than I ever expected. I went in on the 13th and we did all of the regular pre-operative stuff... hung out for a bit with my parents and before I knew it I was up to be taken downstairs for my surgery. A kind of fun fact about operations that no one tells you is that they let you wear this crazy plug-in robe that blows you up like a hot air balloon. It looks like a regular hospital gown but then it has these holes in it that you plug a vacuum-looking thing into and it pumps the entire gown full of hot air. I felt like the balloon boy from TV!
Anyways so they wheeled me to a waiting area where I met all of my surgeons and anesthesiologists, the last of whom gave me something in my IV that he said was "a really expensive cocktail" that would make me feel like I'd had a few drinks, and that is the last thing I remember. That was the best part of the surgery- that I don't remember any of it. I woke up a few hours after my 2 hour operation and I was in the ICU for observation (routine). I don't remember the first little bit of waking up or who was in the room, but it felt like almost immediately I was wide awake and calling or texting people with updates on how I was doing. I remember having IV's everywhere and I had to wear one of those funny looking breathing tubes in my nose (the kind you wear at an oxygen bar) for the first night. I took it off that evening against doctor's orders but they realized that I was perfectly fine on my own and let me leave it off. I was also hooked up to a device that let me push a button and have Morphine drips whenever I "needed it," looking back I think I pushed that button more than was necessary but oh well! 
The next few days consisted of visits from friends and family, slowly being removed from tubes, and moving my rooms around. I stayed in ICU for (I think) 2 days before they moved me to another observation area and then on my last day I finally had my own private room where nurses only came to check my stats and give me medicine. I had three decent-sized tubes injected into my upper abdomen for drainage from my surgery and lungs that had been deflated during the operation. Honestly I'd have to say that has been the biggest pain in the ass of any of the stuff post-op. Each tube was attached to a container much like a gas tank and until I had two of the three tubes removed I had to keep a catheter in because getting up to use the restroom was out of the question. Finally they took the catheter out on the third day and I had to have Kenneth carry the gas tank thingy to the bathroom with me any time I had to go. On the morning of the fourth day they took that last tube out and I can't tell you how relieved I was. I will say this: having tubes pulled out of your body is one of the most bizarre feelings EVER. It doesn't even hurt, it just feels like someone is pulling spaghetti out of your belly... totally surreal.
The last day or two was pretty mellow. We just sat around my hospital room playing Catchphrase and watching different Angel's games on TV. They finally released me on Saturday morning. My parents had taken their motor home to the hospital and slept in it the entire time, which was pretty cool because they were there the whole time but got to sleep right outside and kept comfortable. Great idea, Dad! Poor Kenneth was relieved to leave the hospital because he had been spending his nights either curled up in a big armchair or in a cot that was WAY too small for his 6'4" frame. Now that's dedication.
And so now I have been home for over a week, staying at my parents house. My recovery has been going amazingly well, as I mentioned before. No one can quite believe how speedy I have been as far as capacity to care for myself and move more freely. The day before I left the hospital I was even able to take a shower on my own, which is pretty crazy when you think about the train wreck my body had just been through. So far I haven't had many roadblocks... I can't carry anything heavy or reach all of the way up like I used to, but other than that I'm pretty good. Walking around goes alright as long as I don't go too long without taking a break since my lungs are not at their best quite yet. But I've even been out to eat and visit with friends which is pretty crazy since I just had my sternum cracked open 2 weeks ago. 
My scar is healing okay. The bandages haven't fallen off yet, which my doctor assured me they will do eventually and until then I'm supposed to leave them be. I can see the top of the scar and it doesn't look too bad, still swollen though. I don't want to post any pictures until the bandages have come off because they're kind of yucky but once they do I will keep you posted. 
I've been lucky enough to have my sister come out from Colorado for the past week to help me, which has been amazing. I have gotten so lazy this past few weeks it's disgusting. She was constantly asking me if I needed anything or wanted a glass of juice or whatever while she was up... I could get used to that! No but in all seriousness Jill is amazing and I am so lucky that she was willing to tote ALL three of her babies out here just to help out her sister for a few days. What a blessing to have such an awesome family!
I will most likely stay at my moms house for another week or so, just until I feel a bit more capable and closer to being able to drive again. I am supposed to lay off the driving for a month all together but I don't know if I can last that long. I am so independent I just hate relying on other people to drive me around like a child. Blech!
Anyways- I'm starting to get sore from sitting here for too long so I've got to go, but that's the update and I will keep you posted on anything new that comes up. Love you guys <3 div="">

Oh! And I owe updates on the results of the surgery as well. Not quite as we had expected but nothing tragic so I will let you know in my next post.



So I am here in the hospital just getting ready to be released tomorrow. Tuesday went amazingly well. I checked in at 9:30 and my surgery began at 11am. I don't remember my surgery, obviously, but I came out of my anesthesia around 2 or 3pm and was bouncing around back to 100%. I was making phone calls and texting and everything pretty much right away. The past few days have been a blur of tubes being removed and tests being run... I will update you on that later since the laptop battery is low. Other than that everything is great and I have been blessed by a LOT of visitors coming in to show me some hospital love. I'm going to get back to the Angels game on TV, but here are a few pictures for the meantime in between time.Pre-Surgery chest shot. Sorry if this seems a bit revealing, but now that I have a huge scar down the middle of chest, Im glad to have a photograph like this. Steve and I... he wore a shirt to the hospital that read Sternotomys Are Sexy. Love this guy.

I have more pictures to show you but I have to wait until I get to my mother's computer to transfer them. Love you all! Talk to you soon!


Final Thoughts

Well today is my last post on here for a while. At least until I can sit at a computer again which I'm thinking may be quite some time.
I am grateful today for something peculiar. I'm glad that I am not, by nature, a very emotional person. It seems like everyone I talk to is more upset about my surgery than I am. I've just been very cavalier about the whole thing. As far as I can see it- it is what it is and when it happens I will worry or be scared or whatever. But for now I am just very calm and prepared. I imagine when I am sitting in my hospital gurney I will have some very worried thoughts, etc., etc.... but for now I feel like my biggest worry is them putting the IV in my hand again. Past that I will have a gas mask put on and I will be out like a light for the entire surgery. I guess some days in recovery will be harder than others. Sometimes I will not get my pain medication taken in time and I will be in a lot of pain. Apparently they have to give you a special pillow to hold to your chest so that when you cough you don't burst your stitches or something- I'm guessing that will suck. But it just doesn't make any logical sense to me to sit here worrying about it NOW. I will worry about it when it's an issue.
It also amazes me how many people have sent well wishes or offered to come and visit. People I haven't spoken to in years have called me... friends whose lives are just insane have asked when they can visit me in the hospital. I have a feeling the male doctors are going to have a field day with the amount of cute young girls who will come by my room to see me. Should be interesting! My sister is flying from Colorado to stay with me for a week to help my mom take care of me, which is just amazing. I've got Kenneth who will stay with me at the hospital as often as his school schedule will allow. I've been fortunate enough to find this awesome girl, Amber, on the Internet. She is about my age and had a Sternotomy last year so she has been coaching me through what to expect and how to prepare. I would not be anywhere NEAR as calm and ready as I am without her.
So anyways- I have to get everything finished up here at work for my little "vacation" and I can't write out some long memoir. But to anyone who knows me and is reading this: thank you for everything. I am so lucky to have every one of you in my life and I'm not sure where I would be without each of your influence and guidance. I'm sure this will all play out according to plan and I will be fine. But on the off chance that anything should happen I want to emphasize how lucky I am and how blessed I have been to be who I am, where I am, and with whom each moment of my life has been spent with. Lots of love and I will talk to you all when this is over.



I totally left out the vital information there: My surgery will now be set for Tuesday the 13th. But since my tumor is growing they are now saying they might do Chemo instead. I go in for pre-op today. My surgeon said he is going over it with his colleagues and they will decide which it is to be by my appointment today.
Sorry- I am seriously on some radical drugs right now so my attention span is zilch!

Not for the faint at heart

So I got my surgery date moved up. Originally we were waiting for November 10th so that my boss could take a much-needed vacation, but my body decided otherwise. Monday I had to leave work early to have my mom take me to the Emergency Room. I was sitting at work and suddenly had a sharp bursting pain like something had popped in my chest and then kind of like a trickling sensation throughout my right side of my chest. I thought for sure my lung had collapsed. I made it over to the couch and hunched over, unable to even sit up straight or lay down, for about 15 minutes before I was able to call to my boss for help. My boss called my mom, who dropped everything and came to take me to the ER immediately.
After several hours of testing and drugs (which were, by the way, awesome) they told me that my lung was not collapsed but that my tumor had been pressing on my lung... something where he compared the wall to grapes being crushed and popping. This was resulting in my lungs filling with liquid and that's where Im at now. They gave me some medication for Pneumonia and some Percocet for the pain. By the way: Percocet is flipping awesome. I've never been a pill popper and luckily for me I don't have anywhere near an addictive personality or I would be in trouble here.
Anyways... I will try to keep you guys updated as this whole thing goes on, but for now here is a printout of my CT scan and a picture of me Monday night at the ER. Of course I'm Texty McTexterson in the picture since I'm on major drugs. I also, may I just say, look totally awesome.

Haha, the little heart monitors look like funny little metal nipples.

Here is my CT Scan. You can see where my spine is at the bottom, and my heart is the thing to the upper left. The highlighted part is my tumor. I'm debating if I should name it... too far?



Dr. Davisson just called and said that he consulted with two other Thoracic Surgeons in Southern California and they both agreed that my surgery has to be a Sternotomy.
He DID promise to "keep me looking good," though. So I guess I've got that going for me. Here's what a typical Sternotomy scar looks like, just so you can see how awesome I get to be in a month. I believe this one isn't fully healed, hopefully mine will be less prominant once it's all healed up.
And for the geeks like me, here's a fun fact: Skeet Ulrich has a Sternotomy scar too! You can hardly see his, which is comforting. He wears it well. I only hope I can too.



Well I got my date for my surgery: November 10th. I go in a few weeks before to donate some blood (although I'm just giving it back to myself so it doesn't really count as a good deed!), which is step one. Then I go in for Pre-Op I think like 2 days before surgery and then back again about 6 days after it for Post Op. That means only 3 more times of someone sticking me with needles until I'm done for a while. I seriously cannot wait for that. I've never had a big problem with needles, but lately it's just starting to get old, so I'm looking forward to not having to do that anymore. I guess it's a good thing I'm not a drug addict.
Dr. Davisson (my Thoracic Surgeon) was a lot more at ease and less creepy this time, which was nice. I still have a second opinion appointment set for October 5th, but if he tells me the same thing I am feeling okay with going to Dr. Davisson after all. Not to mention that my Aunt told me that she knows a lot of the doctors at Lakeview Kaiser and Dr. D comes very highly recommended. So we'll see how that goes. I would also really like to have the surgery somewhat local so that people can visit me and I wont have to sit in a hospital all alone for a week (Hint-Hint!)
ALSO- I asked him why we would have to do the surgery via Sternotomy rather than a VATS (Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery) and he said that it IS possible to do the surgery that way but he thinks it would be a better idea to be sure to get it all out in one swoop as with the Sternotomy. He assured me he would consult with his colleague about it and get back to me (he seemed quite impressed that I knew so much about my surgery and tumor). So now I'm kind of stuck with the decision of "should I risk a possibility of them not removing the entire tumor and having to go back in again," or having this gnarly surgery and a huge scar. He said if a VATS surgery was unsuccessful that we would likely do a Sternotomy anyway. So I've got that to think about.
So I am now surprisingly calm about this whole thing. For me it's the not knowing that drives me crazy, not the good or bad news itself. I know what the plan is, and I know exactly how long I have to prepare my body. That's good.


Same old song and dance

I know all I've been talking about lately is my surgery, but I'm anxious and it's just been what is on my mind.
I go in tomorrow for another doctor's visit with my surgeon at the Lakeview Kaiser office and I have no clue what we are going to discuss there. I imagine it will be setting up a date for my surgery but with the way this is all going I really have no expectations right now. I'm still waiting for my doctor to call me to set up my appointment for my second opinion as well so I really hope they call today so that I have some idea of when that will be with all of this. We will also be looking at the results of the new CT scan from Friday so I hope those are positive. We did a high resolution CT Scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis because my surgeon wants to make sure I don't have anything else going on. My fingers are crossed that I don't.
Other than that, things are pretty boring for me right now. I'm trying to eat healthy and in abundance so that my body can get all of the nutrients it needs. I'm taking vitamins too, and trying to do some yoga in my office at work when I have free time (and privacy!). I'm making sure to get lots of rest and not stress about anything. I'm getting my paperwork for any financial assistance ready and doing as much of my office work as I possibly can so that my boss doesn't fall apart without me here. It feels like I'm forgetting something but I can't put my finger on it... but I'm sure I'll get everything ready in time. I'm kind of an over preparer in general so I'm not too worried about any of that sort of thing.
Sooo... here's to hoping tomorrow goes smoothly. Kenneth is going with me to my appointment so that should be helpful. He's quite smart and I know he will ask any questions I forget to. Love that wonderful, supportive man of mine!



Well yesterday was a hard day for me. Today is a little bit better but not by much. I had my doctor's appointment and first of all- I do NOT like the surgeon they assigned me. Unfortunately he is the only Thoracic surgeon in the area. I will seek out a second opinion and perhaps a different doctor, but that means I will have to travel all the way to LA just for my appointment (which means taking work off I guess).
Anyways, to update everyone on my surgery, yesterday was crappy. He told me that they still didn't know if they were going to do surgery or chemo, which made me furious because I feel like my time is being wasted but I guess it is what it is. But I just got off the phone with him and he told me that after a meeting with a board of surgeons, they've decided that surgery is the right answer. When I talked to him yesterday, though, he told me that if we proceed to surgery it will need to be a Sternotomy. For a full description of that:
Median sternotomy is a type of surgical procedure in which a vertical inline incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is divided, or "cracked". This procedure provides access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures such as heart transplant, corrective surgery for congenital heart defects (CHDs), or coronary artery bypass surgery.
Basically this was my worst case scenario on surgery. I will be in the hospital for about a week, then on bed rest for two to three weeks. This means I will have to take a month off of work, which I really hope wont lead to me losing my job. What a mess. There are other health as well as some aesthetic concerns that I have, but I wont get into that right now. Anyways- I don't know my surgery date yet but I will be sure to keep everyone posted.


Information Age

Well today I have my doctor's appointment to go over the details (and hopefully appointment date) for my surgery. As I'm sure you can imagine I am VERY anxious to find out the details about how long I will be in the hospital and how long I can be expected to need to take off work. According to the Internet articles I have been reading, recovery time could be anywhere from less than a week to an entire month off work. The reason being that they will need to collapse one of my lungs in order to maneuver around in there so that alone takes some time to get back to "100%" as far as that. I've also been reading that my ribs and kind of entire chest area will be pretty painful for a while, just to sleep and eat and cough and stuff. BUT, they will hopefully be giving me some awesome drugs so I will be able to sleep and function relatively well. I know that no matter how much any of that stuff hurts, that time will eventually pass as well and I will feel SO much better than I have in months, so I'm looking forward to that.
On a more spiritual note: I have been doing some thinking throughout this whole experience and know, without a doubt, that God wouldn't have given me this test if he didn't KNOW that I could handle it. I was thinking about this a week or two ago and kind of playing the "pity me" card to myself. Lately I have been haunted by images of myself laying on an operating table with my body cut open and me knocked out cold... it's a scary thought. But I know that this is something I can deal with. I know that I don't have it so bad, and that catching this thing when we did was a gift to me from God himself, because if we hadn't then who knows how long this may have gone on or what could have happened if the tumor had grown to press more into my heart or lungs. I know that this tumor could have been malignant, and I'm not sure I would have dealt very well with that. But God knew what I could deal well with and grow from and he delivered that to me- no more, no less. I know that bad things happen, even to good people. Even to people like my sister's friend, Jenny, who has Cancer and is dealing with it with more strength than I can even imagine. God knew she could do it, and although my burden has nowhere near the severity of hers, it reminds me that God knows I can do this too. And in a way... I'm flattered. I'm flattered the way I was the first time my Dad told me that he saw great things possible in me and I believed him. Someone as amazing as my father (and in this new case my Father in heaven) has a great faith in what I am capable of. He must think I am pretty great. And with that esteem in myself from the both of them, I know that I can handle this and not only get past it, but thrive through it. I WILL come out of this a better, stronger, and more complete person. Funny how taking something out of you somehow makes you more complete...
I am also looking to get as healthy as possible before this surgery, but having a hard time with it. I get winded pretty easily because of the placement of my tumor and how it's now pressing on my lungs. But I still want to do some kind of workout... yoga, perhaps? Any suggestions are more than welcome!
Anyways, today will be another page in this chapter and that much closer to the end of it... so today is a good day for me. Hopefully my doctor gives me some encouraging news. Wish me luck!


Facts about today.

First and most importantly: I FINALLY talked to my doctor. They said that my tumor is either a teratoma (as they originally thought) or a Thymoma. Bad news: apparently neither one is cured by lollipops as requested in my last post. Good news: my doctor is recommending that I have surgery to remove it rather than Chemotherapy. The chemo would have made me miss less work, and I wouldn't have a scar (I think, unless they would have had to do surgery anyways), BUT it would have been toxic on my body and apparently put things in it that would have made my chances for Cancer much higher later in my life. So that is really, really great news for me. I have an appointment to consult with my Thoracic Surgeon in two weeks (the soonest he had an appointment) to go over details for the surgery and set up a date for it. I looked up Mediastinal Surgery yesterday and read that there are three different types of surgeries. The first one requires that they crack open your sternum to access the tumor and remove it. This is in cases of a "larger tumor," but I don't know what size they are talking about. The second type is where they crack one of my ribs to access the tumor. Again, this is for "larger tumors." The third surgery option would be an orthoscopic surgery, with three incisions made (which would mean less scarring). They would make one incision for the camera and two for tools to remove the tumor. This is the minimally invasive and obviously my first choice of surgery. I don't know if my tumor (which is about 7.5 x 3 cm) is a candidate for the orthoscopic surgery, but I'm really crossing my fingers on this one. Even with that surgery the hospital stay is about 1-3 days, with about a month to full recovery. I think I would be able to get back to work way sooner than that since my job is laid back, but I really don't know what to expect. Honestly my biggest fear is missing too much work- is that weird? I will be knocked out for my surgery, so I don't think that will be an issue unlike my biopsy where I was awake. They will give me drugs for the pain afterwards, so I'm not worried about that either. I am a little concerned because I think they have to collapse a lung in order to access my mediastinal cavity during surgery, but all in all I am not that freaked out by that either. I really just don't want to miss a bunch of work and be way behind on my bills and have my boss be clueless on how to do stuff in here. I suppose I could train a temporary replacement for while I'm out, like Jill did at her old job when she went on vacations. I don't know. Anyways- enough of that, I'll keep you posted in two weeks.


The waiting is the hardest part

Where on Earth is my doctor?!? Grr... Im sorry, just getting anxious to hear back on my biopsy results. As it turns out I am not a very patient person. They told me last Tuesday that it would take three days to get my results, but now they are saying it takes 5-7 business days to get them. Im really hoping they call me today. Im also hoping they say "Oh- all we need to do is give you a Green Caramel Apple sucker and the tumor goes away!!"... but I guess I don't always get what I want. I am not looking forward to any of the things they have to do to cure me, but I am anxious to get them finished. Once this is all over I am doing something to celebrate. I can't wait to be able to walk up my stairs without losing my breath because there simply isn't enough room in my chest for my lungs to expand. I cant wait to be cold without my chest hurting because my body has tensed up and is now constricting my tumor and therefore pressing it against my ribs. I cant wait to take a yoga class. I cant wait to be able to get a full night's rest. I cant wait to not be so stressed out that I clench my jaw at night and wake up not being able to talk. People don't realize the effects that one part of your body going wrong has on the rest of it. I have had chronic headaches from this for probably the past 3 months. My neck feels like I constantly need to crack it but can't. I can't sit for long periods of time without my back killing me- which is difficult at my job. I went to the Dentist yesterday and was anxious to sit in the chair because it felt good on my back. Who the heck WANTS to sit in the Dentist chair?? Im quite sure my liver is effed from all the painkillers I've put into it the past 6 months. All in all- I am very anxious to be done with this whole thing. Perhaps I will throw my tumor a going away party once I figure out how we are getting rid of it... or maybe if I throw it one it will get the hint and get lost on it's own!
Anyways. Sorry to vent, but cross your fingers that my doctor calls me today!



So my surgery yesterday went well. It was ZERO fun, but everything went pretty standardly. They didn't have to cut a hole in my throat like I expected, which was nice. I was really not looking forward to having to explain to people why I appeared to have had a tracheotomy at 26. What they DID do was give me an IV that was supposed to put me into a "twilight sleep" (which, despite the name, apparently does not mean you get to party with Edward Cullen)... but it didn't do anything to me. I was really looking forward to experiencing the whole Morphine part but as it turns out my body thinks that is a bad idea. They gave me several local anesthetic shots in my chest and then stuck a biopsy needle in next to my sternum and went through my ribs to get a sample. I have to say it hurt like a b!tch. They kept having to give me more local shots to numb it and I finally just kind of gave up and waited for it to be over. On the plus side I got to see the CT Scan they were taking to guide the needle while they were doing it, which was kind of cool. I couldn't see the tumor very well but I got to see an x-ray of my chest cavity and my heart and all of that. I also got to see that when I lay down on my back, even a CT Scan shows how huge my "ta ta's" are, which I found amusing.
My mom went with me and was so great the whole time, as were the nurses over at the Irvine Kaiser office. I went through my recovery time (got a little sick from the drugs) and went home and relaxed. By 6pm I was okay to go to my own house and even did a little laundry. Today I feel back at 100%... well 100% for still having a tumor in my chest but I'm starting to forget what it feels like to not have chest pain on a daily basis.
So now I wait. I wait until Friday or so to get my biopsy results and see what this thing is and what I have to do next. I really hope it doesn't involve any more biopsies or surgeries... as it turns out I do not enjoy those. Weird, I know.



So I have been waiting until I talked to my parents before I posted anything about my recent events in my life, out of respect to them so that they knew first. I was also not totally sure I want to share something so personal about my current situation but I have felt a lot more comfortable with it in the past few days so I think it's okay to talk about it now.

For anyone who has been following my blogspot you know that I have had a crap time with my back and chest for the past 6 months or so. For more details on that experience, scroll back a bit to when I go over my frustrations in detail. Well on Monday of last week I finally made an appointment to have a CT scan performed. They were supposed to call me back within 4-5 days, so you can imagine my surprise when my primary care physician called me early Tuesday afternoon. He informed me that they had found a rather large growth in my chest, between my sternum and my lungs. He assured me that it didn't appear to be at all cancerous (Thank Goodness) or really all that dangerous besides the obvious chest pain it has been causing me. But it is, in fact, a sort of Tumor. They had some blood work done on Tuesday and it came back kind of inconclusive, so they are having me go in tomorrow to get a surgical biopsy done... not fun. They have to put me under with anesthesia, cut a small incision just above my clavicle, and go through it down about 3 1/2 inches under my sternum to get samples of my new found friend. The good news is that after that they should know for sure what exactly is going on there and what steps we will need to take to correct the situation. The options I have heard so far are either surgery (which my doctor is saying is the last option) or some sort of chemotherapy (which he seems to think is our first line of defense). As far as I can gather the chemo I would be going through wouldn't be hair-loss, multiple session chemo like a Cancer patient would receive, so that's comforting. But I'm not 100% sure what mode or method of chemo they would use... most likely a localized chemo that hopefully wont keep me from my life for too long. My doctor assured me that my main side effect would be nausea. But this is all purely speculation as we really don't know for sure what we are up against here and any of it could change if they figure that it's something totally different (hopefully in a good way). My main concern with any type of Chemo is that it would be pumping my body full of toxins that would most likely haunt me in the future, something I don't feel very happy or comfortable with. Obviously a second opinion is necessary if they tell me that is my plan of action.

Anyways, I'm obviously very nervous but all in all fairly good spirits about all of this. More than anything I am grateful to have finally figured out why my body has been in pain for 6 months, and excited at the silver lining of not having that pain in the near future. I'm happy to have excellent insurance to help me cover a lot of the costs of this, and hope that it is as helpful for any future expenses that may come along. I'm grateful that I finally asked for a CT scan... my doctor told me that he NEVER would have requested that had I not taken the initiative, which blows my mind because I wonder how long I would have had this tumor if left to my doctor's own devises. It's an amazing lesson to me that I learn to take even medical matters into my own hands, because sometimes you just need to man up and do something yourself.

I will be out (ha! Literally!) tomorrow, but hopefully I will be back at my computer Wednesday and I can give some kind of an update. Probably not a diagnosis, but I can fill you in on how my surgery went. Wish me luck!


Good Job.

While I really should be simple and just write a post about my trip to Colorado, I kind of don't feel like it. I will more likely than not add something here about that tomorrow.

What I will talk about is an interesting conversation I had with my sister, Charity. She told me that my dad had told her an analogy where we all skied. Ky skied down the mountain, effortlessly and gracefully, and everyone was shocked because he was such a laid back person that no one expected him to be so great at it. Charity skied down the mountain, carefully and precisely. When she got to the bottom, she stopped and looked around to see if anyone noticed how well she had done. But rather than approval, Ryan flew by her on his skis. He passed where she stopped with big hurrah and flair, and then turned past him to ask Charity what was taking her so long to get to the bottom. Charity didn't get into what Jill was doing on the slopes... but knowing her it was something along the lines of being social with a big group of people. Then, apparently, my dad ended his story with me, saying, "And of course Megan just wasn't there."

Now I can get into the whole part about me not being there but that would just end up being some long analytical story about my childhood or my relationship with my family. I'd rather address the part my sister and I talked about after that.

I mentioned to Charity that I never thought of her as the type to seek approval. She replied that she always heard from people how "together" she had it. Everyone constantly tells her how good she is with her money, or how perfect her family is, or how together she has it... but the reality is that none of those things are 100% ALL of the time, and when they are close to it- it takes her a LOT of work to get there. I'm sure just about anyone can relate to that part of the conversation. She said that a lot of the time, people just expect her to get it right, and so when she does it isn't a big deal or a surprise. But in reality, all she wants is for someone to tell her, "hey- you worked really hard there and it turned out great." Some validification.

And so on to my next topic: the very same validification. How underestimated it is. I know that I don't ask for it, but I crave it. I want someone to tell me, "Wow, Megan... I'm noticing what you're doing." It's also funny because in order for our society to see us as 'humble,' we take those comments from people and reflect them with a grain of salt. Example:
"Hey, Sarah, I really enjoyed your speech in class today. I could tell you worked really hard on it and I thought it turned out fantastic."
"Oh, gosh, yea it was alright... I totally messed up at the end, though."

Did you notice what happened there? I mean, this chick could have spent days on her speech, and whether or not it was perfect, she DID work hard on it. When someone tells her it was great, she ought to have replied with something like, "Really? Thanks so much! I worked my ass off, it's cool that you appreciated it."

Why do we work so hard for someone to notice us, only to downplay it when they do? I think we believe that if we agree that we did something great we will come off as arrogant or self-absorbed. The fact is that we are neither. I also think that may be why people don't compliment each other as often as they should... because the response is never what it should be. No one is saying your life has to be perfect. No one is telling you that you should be turning water to wine or some other such biblical miracles... you are not an all-perfect being. And that's totally fine. I wrote a piece on friendship a few years back that mentions that a true friend will pick you up when you fall because they know you are not perfect- but they DID see you try. So when we TRY to do something great, and a friend takes notice... don't brush off their attention because your efforts fell short. Instead reflect their optimism like a mirror and thank them for it.

I kind of bounced around on this post, but I hope it makes you think at least a little!


Freedom from unhappiness

I read a note from author Eckhart Tolle that read (and I am paraphrasing):

"Don't seek happiness. If you seek it, you won't find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up stories about it."

I had to read this through a couple of times before I could fully grasp it, but once I thought hard about what he meant, it really does make a lot of sense. Don't seek happiness (...) but freedom but unhappiness. Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to recognize a time in your life when you were happy far after the fact? Like when you are miserable, it seems so easy to look back and think, "man, I remember when I was ___ years old, I was so much happier then..." That is because happiness is elusive. While you are at your happiness, you are usually seeking for even more joy, and often times not fully embracing the joy that you currently have in your grip. And so you search and search for the next big thing, in actuality: seeking for happiness. But what if we stopped looking for it? And rather... just did what we could to rid our lives of whatever unhappiness lies within them. It may sound crazy, but in focusing on the bad in our lives, and by ridding ourselves of it, we make room for the good to fall into place.

For example: lets say that I have a friend or a job that I can't stand. That "negative" in my life is continually causing me stress or hardship, emotionally exhausting me. Rather than keep that toxicity in my life and looking for more things to add to cover it up, why not purge my life of that person/situation and make room and time for a job or a friend who would be a positive influence on my life? The same can obviously go for toxic relationships with the opposite sex. Rather than date someone who treats me poorly or ignores my needs, why not ex that person from my life and make room for someone who would uplift me and enrich my life?

I think women fall into this trap in particular more than we would like to admit. We meet "Prince Charming" and find out that he has a few flaws. We lie to ourselves and say that they will change, or even worse that we can change them. We focus on looking forward, in "finding the happiness," and often spend months or years wasted on figuring out that people do not change unless they want themselves to. By looking at the situation and not 'finding' but instead recognising the unhappiness, we might save that time and effort by taking the unhappiness in our lives and ridding ourselves of it.

I guess the reason people don't do this more often is that ridding ourselves of unhappiness is often stressful (temporarily, most times), or uncomfortable, or perhaps makes ourselves and others sad. Basically it's just too hard, so we give up. We cover our world in pastels and flourescents and try to ignore the fact that some thigns make us miserable. We pretend that we're fine when we're not, or that we are having fun when we hurt.


Some more inspiration

...I borrowed this from a friend. I think I am in love with it.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.Strive to be happy.---"Desiderata", Max Ehrmann


Uh oh... deep thoughts ahead!

I have always been notorious throughout my friends for my ability to write out exactly what I am feeling but having an incredibly difficult time saying it verbally. Lori is convinced that I should write a book because my writing skills far surpass my ability to communicate them to people face to face. Hell, I even got a computer in my room without the Internet because I type faster than I write by hand. So I can now get out how I feel about situations and people as opposed to holding it all in my head or (heaven forbid) trying to explain them to some poor bastard of a sounding board.
My point is: I have a difficult time explaining myself. And my outlet is, more often than not, here. Today's entry is no different.
Today I am grateful for the small things that the people in my life do for me. I don't like to gush, and I don't like to talk about my personal life in certain aspects- but there is one particular person that I am grateful for today and that person probably has no idea. You see, I have always thought of myself as someone who notices things no one else sees. Where some girls will completely brush off little gifts or kind words from a guy, I will cherish them. I will notice you if you pick up something at the store "just because." I adore it when you ask me if I am comfortable when we are sitting together, especially when you are completely comfortable but you want to make sure that I don't need to adjust the way I'm sitting. Each and every single time a guy opens a door for me, I think to myself, "wow, this is so cool!"... no matter how many times it's been done. If you send me a text or an email, I will always notice that because I am so flattered that you took time out of your day to let me know you were thinking about me. I don't ask for big bouquets of flowers, or jewelry, or grandiose trips halfway across the world because I know what's important.
It's the little things that not every one else sees... nor should they, now that I think about it. The inside jokes, the hand-holding, the supportive presence at an event or place that the other person probably didn't want to be that day; these are what relationships are all about. And I think that this is why people become so twitterpaited during the beginning of relationships, because they are still taking the time to notice these little things rather than to get caught up in their busy little lives. I would like to think that I do a pretty good job of not getting caught up in all of that, though. Because to ME, life isn't about the infamous "big picture" at all. It's about the days, the minutes, and the moments. It's not about the summary on the back of your biography- it's about the pages written in the chapters of your life.
So thank you for making today's page a little bit sweeter.