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.