Olive Oyl

Weight has been a constant piece of my life since I was a young girl.  It may not be in the way that you would think, either.  I don’t have some kind of unhealthy thoughts about it nor do I have any type of eating disorder, but it still has been a constant piece of me for as long as I can remember.  It’s not just about me either.  It is a big part of one of my children’s lives as well.  Weight is always in the back of my mind every day.  

It all started back in my younger days and throughout high school. I was always the skinny girl.  I was active in basketball and cheerleading throughout middle and high school, but I wouldn’t say that I was super athletic. I wasn’t a kid who liked to work out or run or anything like that. In fact, I hated it (and still do!).  I never really had to even think about exercise back then because I was naturally skinny.  It was simply a part of my genetic makeup.   I was a pretty picky eater back then, but that didn’t have an affect my weight.  I still ate plenty.  I may not have been the healthiest eater, but no matter how much junk I ate, I still didn’t gain weight.  I just got taller.  Some may think how lucky I was or be jealous, but it wasn’t always cool to be the skinny girl.  I often got called “Olive Oyl” from Popeye because I was so tall and skinny.  People even joked about me being anorexic, but I wasn’t.  They would push food at me all the time and tell me I needed to eat.   I really didn’t even care how much I weighed or how skinny I was.  It never crossed my mind until someone said something about it. It wasn’t until I became an adult that it started to impact me.

Not long after I was married, my husband’s commanding officer called him into his office one day and had a talk with him about me.  He told my husband that he and his wife were concerned about me because I was so skinny.  They just “knew” that I was anorexic and wanted to make sure I was being taken care of.  I was furious when my husband came home and told me this.  Of course, my husband assured him that I was fine and was most certainly did not have an eating disorder.  I was so angry that someone would have the nerve to tell my husband that he needed to take better care of me and acted like they knew me better than he did.  I had never deprived myself of food, thrown up something I ate intentionally, or even thought about dieting in my life.  I was just a skinny person. My mom was the same way and so was my grandmother.  You hear about “fat shaming,” but you rarely hear anyone talk about “skinny shaming.” It does exist.  I can’t tell you how many people have been concerned or commented on my weight over the years.  There were even times that I was made to be so self-conscious about my weight that I actually tried to gain weight. I was drinking shakes and things to boost my calorie intake, but it never worked.  In all my years as the skinny girl I was never once told by a doctor or medical professional that I needed to gain weight or that I was underweight. It was only the people around me who made comments or whispered about it. They made me feel like something was wrong with me.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I gained about 30 pounds.  Within a week after I had her, I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans.  Now, keep in mind that my daughter was born 3 weeks early and weighed only 4 lbs. 8 oz.  I had a partial placental abruption, so she wasn’t getting enough nutrients to grow.  People didn’t seem to care about that and only commented on the fact that I must not have eaten enough for her to grow.  Yet again, I was accused of being anorexic and made to feel like I had done something wrong.  My husband can attest to the fact that I actually ate so much Taco Bell when I was pregnant that he thought I might give birth to a taco!  I can assure you that I ate a lot! I also never threw up once while I was pregnant with her.  I had zero morning sickness.  My body and my metabolism just didn’t allow me to gain weight and allowed it to easily come off.  There was nothing wrong with me but people made me feel like there was. I felt like a bad mom.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child that things changed for me.  I gained about 50 pounds with her.  A big part of that was water weight.  I was so swollen that I looked like a giant puffer fish.  I threw up constantly and could barely keep food down.  My feet grew a whole half size and never went back to my pre-pregnancy shoe size.  Because I was so swollen, sick, and miserable, I was put on bed rest for the last month of my pregnancy and was induced a week early.  My daughter weighed 6 lbs 14 oz.  This time the weight didn’t fall off as fast. In fact, my daughter just turned 13 last week, and I have never been the weight I was before I got pregnant with her again.  I have never once been accused of having an eating disorder since then either.  From the day she was born my focus has been shifted from my weight to hers.  It has gone from me worrying about being too skinny to worrying about her being too skinny but for different reasons.  

If you have been following me for a while, you know that my daughter has had a plethora of medical issues and has been extremely underweight as a result.  As skinny as I was at her age, she is even skinnier and much shorter.  She actually has been diagnosed with an eating disorder because she is literally afraid of food as a result of her disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, going undiagnosed for so long.  It is not because she is worried about being overweight, and she certainly isn’t starving herself to keep from gaining weight.  She is afraid of food and what pain it will cause her.  Yes, part of her low weight is due to genetics just like mine.  We simply come from a line of skinny women.  However, her diet is also extremely limited.  She doesn’t even make it onto the growth chart when we go to her doctor appointments.  I walk a very thin line when it comes to her weight.  I don’t want to her to feel judged or self-conscious about her weight like I was, but I also need to make sure she is healthy.  It has gotten so bad at times that her doctors have threatened to put in a g-tube to get more nutrients into her or send her to an inpatient treatment facility.  We have spent years in feeding therapy to get her to expand her diet.  At every doctor appointment, we discuss her weight and whether she is gaining weight, loosing weight, or staying stagnant.  People often think she is way younger than she is because she is so small.  Every day is a battle over food and it has been a very long and bumpy road.  People have gone from commenting on my weight to commenting on my daughter’s.  Some don’t hesitate to tell me how to parent her differently or point out the things they think I have done wrong when it comes to her eating.  I’ve been told to force her to eat, allow her to starve, and so many other unsolicited pieces of advice. It is a never-ending saga.  

Weight is a huge part of my life and has been for its entirety.  I don’t foresee it going away any time soon. Yes, I can probably stand to lose a few pounds these days, but I try really hard not to let it consume me or the opinions of others affect my view of my body or my child’s.  We as women are scrutinized enough as it is already, and we don’t need to add body image issues into the mix.  Instead of judging and criticizing people about their weight whether they weigh a lot or a little, let’s build each other up.  We have to learn to accept the bodies we have been given and love them.  Yes, we need to do things that are healthy and take care of ourselves but loving who you are in the skin you are in is just as important.  Embrace who you are and walk confidently in front of the naysayers. Don’t let them affect how you view yourself.  That’s what I want my child to learn and do most of all.  Your weight doesn’t define you.  It is a part of you, but it doesn’t make up all of who you are inside.  Who you are at your core, is the person everyone should come to see, love, and value.

Anchored,

AKA: Olive Oyl 🙂

Time Well Spent

Last week I wrote about the sudden onset of stress and anxiety in my life.  It was causing the tell-tell signs in my body that I had let it get too far.  It was causing me to lose sleep, and I had a tingling in my face.  I shared how I needed to find ways to release that stress but that I ultimately needed to give it all to God and actually let go of it.  Well, I feel like I was surprisingly able to do that for once.  My sleep has improved, and the tingling has subsided.  I am definitely feeling calmer than I did this time a week ago. If anything, though, I should be really feeling the effects of stress right now because this week is insane for me. We have so much going on with tons of moving parts, and then mother nature has thrown in the threat of snow in the middle of all of it.  It’s like everything that was crazy about our lives before the pandemic and everything that we missed out on has all been thrown into this one week.  

This past weekend, my oldest, along with her high school gymnastics teammates, clinched the Regional Championship and secured their spot at the state competition on Friday of this week.  They are heading to defend their state title for the 4th year in a row.  It is super exciting. However, the competition is approximately 3.5 hours away, and the forecast of snow is threatening to derail their chances of being able to compete, not to mention the difficulties of traveling in the snow if we are allowed to go. The dilemma comes with whether or not she and I travel down on Thursday to get ahead of the snow if the school system doesn’t prevent us from going altogether.  If things go according to plan and the girls are allowed to compete on Friday, my oldest and I will at least be there overnight on Friday night since they won’t get done until late.  My husband and my youngest will be heading to another location on Friday afternoon for cheer where my oldest and I will meet them on Saturday morning sometime.  I will do my youngest’s hair and makeup and then go watch her compete while my husband and oldest wait in the hotel room (only one spectator is allowed per athlete due to COVID).  When that is over, my husband will then take my youngest and drive back home so she can be at practice on Sunday morning.  My oldest and I will stay at the hotel for her to compete on Sunday.  Also, in the middle of all this, we have to drop the dog off for boarding while we are all gone and then pick her back up at some point. If any one thing goes wrong, it will be a domino effect for the whole weekend. 

Crazy, right?  This is when I should be feeling the stress and anxiety, but surprisingly I am not.  I’m fairly calm about the whole thing.  I guess that is a good thing, but it is a little weird to me.  I keep waiting for it to come.  I know that is the wrong attitude to have but years of experience have me skeptical.  Have I really found inner peace and a way to keep my stress and anxiety levels down? I don’t know, but maybe. You may be asking what I am doing differently than all those times in the past.  Well, let me tell you my secret. I am spending time with God every morning.  I truly believe that is what is helping to keep me calm and the anxiety at bay.  I used to do my devotion and daily prayers at night.  I would often forget or would be too tired by the end of the day so I would go days or even weeks without really spending quality time with God. Sometimes I would even fall asleep in the middle of my prayers. I always thought that my mornings were too busy and that I needed to get all things done first before I could truly focus on God.  I was wrong, and I knew that I was wrong. Look…I’m not the perfect Christian, but I’m always willing to grow. Trust me, I have heard sermon after sermon about how you should start your day with God, but I never really put it into practice. Well, I take that back.  When I was teaching, I would pray on my drive into work in the morning sometimes, and I loved how it made me feel.  When I stopped teaching, though, that stopped.  Over the last couple of months, I have slowly been making a switch.  I still don’t do it first thing when I wake up like so many have said you should do.  I have had to find what works best for me.  Instead, I get up, get ready, and do a few household things if needed.  Then I head downstairs to my office to begin working.  Before I open my computer or do anything else, I read a short devotional.  I started with just doing that and then reading the little prayer provided for me and maybe adding in one or two sentences of my own.  Then last week when I felt the effects of my stress, I started closing my eyes and really praying from the heart. I even spent some time in silence just listening for God’s voice.  Some days my prayers are long and sometimes they are short, but I actually take a moment to spend time in the presence of God.  It almost always feel a sense of peace wash over me.  Sometimes I even get chill bumps, and I know that is God laying his hands on me.  It makes me feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.  I feel more connected with God. When I do this consistently every single day, the stress and anxiety just fade away.  

If you are not beginning your day with God, stop making excuses like I did and do it.  Tune everything else out.  Close your eyes and speak from your heart.  Then sit in silence and let the Holy Spirit wash over you. Get to know God on a personal level.  Build a relationship with him.  I promise you, when you do this consistently, you will notice a difference in your mindset, your attitude, and the way you approach every day.  It will absolutely change your priorities, too. Seek him first above all else, and he will lead you through every step of your day. It will be time well spent!

Anchored in Christ,

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Friday Favorites: Grocery Pickup

I know that I am way late to the game, but I have recently discovered the amazement that is grocery pickup and am obsessed.  One of my best friends has been telling me to do it for years, but I just never did.  She knew that it would have made my life easier back when my husband was deployed and my girls were little.  I honestly don’t know why I never did it other than I never had the time back then to plan ahead.  I totally should have listened to her because it would have made all the difference in the world back then.  I really had no idea how great it was.   

When the pandemic started and I didn’t really want to get out, I decided it was finally time to give it a try.   However, there were never any times available because everyone was doing their best to avoid others and appointments were taken as soon as they went up.  I had even heard that you had to be online at midnight when the new times were released to get an appointment.  I was not willing to stay up to do that, so I just kept going to the store to do all my grocery shopping. I was trying to go at times when it was the least crowded and hated every second of it.  I still kept checking every now and then to try to find an open slot at any store around me.  Well, my persistence payed off and the appointments stopped being jammed a few months ago.  I got my first appointment at Harris Teeter.  I made my husband go with me that first time for moral support since I had no clue how it worked. It turned out that it was the easiest thing ever.  You just pull up, push a button, give your name, and out your groceries come.  They were great about no contact too.  I just opened my trunk, and the clerk did the rest.  It was amazing! Seriously, though, how sad is it that I am just now figuring this out? 

Since then, I have used Harris Teeter and Walmart pick-up multiple times.  Walmart is even easier in that all you have to do it click a link on your phone to let them know you are on the way.  They track your location and know when you arrive.  Then you just let them know through the app, which spot you are parked in and the color of your car.  It’s the easiest thing ever.  I could literally kick myself for not listening to my friend all those years ago and trying this out.  It truly is life changing.  I would be happy never to set foot in a grocery store again! 

I was nervous about purchasing fruits, vegetables, and meats this way. I was worried that they wouldn’t choose good ones or that they would be close to being spoiled. I have to say, though, that I haven’t had any issues with this. Sometimes I even think they pick out better produce than I do. I even feel like they check expiration dates and give me the best ones available. My personal shoppers have always done an amazing job.

I feel like I save money doing my grocery shopping this way too.  I am not tempted by the things I see while strolling down the aisle at the store, so I don’t end up throwing things in my cart that I don’t really need.  If it isn’t on the running list that I keep on my phone as things run out, it isn’t going into my virtual shopping cart.  It also forces me to plan ahead for meals which saves me time daily from wracking my brain over what to cook each night. It really has made life so much simpler.  

If you are like me and have been dragging your heals and have never tried grocery pickup before, do it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  It is soooo easy and saves so much time. I am all about things that make my life better, and this certainly does that.

Anchored,

All About Me

I have been writing this blog for over 2 years now and it has become such a blessing to me. It has helped me learn so much about myself and grow in ways I never thought possible. It is almost like my own form of therapy sometimes. I have always found that writing out my feelings has helped me deal with things that I am struggling with. It certainly causes me to be self-reflective. It forces me to think about who I am to my core and who I want to be in the future. I feel like I have come a very long way in the last 2 years. It still surprises me that people actually care about what I have to say and that some readers come back over and over again. My audience has certainly grown from just a few family and friends to complete strangers. I just hope that what I have to say or share resonates with whoever stops by to take a look.

Anyway, since I have gained so many new readers, especially in the last year, I thought I would do an update on who I am and what I am about. This way you will kind of know what you are getting when you land on my blog.

I’m a Follower of Christ.

This is first and foremost in my life. I grew up in the church and in a Christian family.  I gave my life over to Christ at a young age and never looked back.  I live my life to fulfill God’s will for me.  He is involved in every decision I make and everything that I do.  Without Christ, I am nothing. 

I’m a Southern Girl.

I am a southern girl through and through.  Growing up in both Georgia and South Carolina left me with deep southern roots.  I love sweet tea, country music, southern hospitality, pearls, and anything and everything monogramed.  Most people will say that I still have that southern twang despite trying to overcome it.  I really revert to it when I am back home and around family. 

I’m a Military Spouse.

I am a military spouse.  My husband is in the Navy and we have lived all up and down the east coast through the years and have survived countless deployments.  The military life hasn’t been easy. My strength as a person and a mom have been tested more times than I can count, but it has made me into the independent woman I am today.  It has taken me to places I never dreamed I would go and has left me with incredible friends all over the world.

I’m a Mom.

I am a mom to two beautiful daughters (an almost 13 year old and a 16 year old).  They are my whole world.  Both girls have had their share of medical issues over the years.  My oldest had urinary reflux when she was a baby and was in and out of the emergency room and urgent care until she had surgery to correct it when she was two.  My youngest has suffered through Eosinophillic Esophagitis which led to an eating disorder and anxiety disorder.  Both girls also have ADHD.  To say that they keep me on my toes is an understatement. I has been a hard road in some ways but we have managed to plow through to the other side and both are thriving now. They are so much more than the medical diagnosis placed on them.  They are incredible girls and grown stronger because of what they have faced.  I couldn’t be prouder of both of them.

I’m a Gymnastics/Cheer Mom.

I was a gymnastics mom for 15 years and am now a cheer mom.  My oldest was a competitive gymnast for most of her life, but she decided to retire from the sport this past summer due to her body not being able to take the beatings anymore.  My youngest started competitive cheer about three years ago and has blossomed through it.  Now both girls are doing cheer and life has become a lot more sparkly! If you know me, you know how ironic this is because I absolutely detest glitter.  The girls’ schedules keep me very busy, but I wouldn’t trade any of it.  I love watching them do what they love and seeing them grow into incredible young ladies.  

I’m a Teacher.

I was a special education teacher in the public school system for 17 years.  I worked primarily with students with autism.  It was something that I knew I wanted to do from an early age and thought that I would be doing my whole adult life.  It was a calling and I loved working with students and their parents as they navigated the challenges of a disability.  I will admit that I was good at it.  I was at the top of my game and even was named as the city-wide teacher of the year.  However, as much as I loved working with the students, I didn’t love all the extra that came with it and definitely got burned out.  When I decided to take a year off from teaching to meet the needs of my family at home, I never expected that I would be sitting here 5 years later still not back in the classroom.  I know now that God has set me on a new path and has given me a different purpose for now.  I can’t say that I will never go back to teaching because it is hard for me to imagine that.  Being a teacher was my sole identity for so long, and I know that I will always be a teacher at heart. I know God will lead me wherever he wants me to go in the future.  

I’m a Hope Dealer.

After I stopped teaching, my life was left with a void.  I needed some new purpose in my life.  I had helped students and their parents for so many years, I felt like I was missing that service part of me.  That is when Trades of Hope fell into my lap.  It was like God slapped me upside the head and told me that my purpose was still to help families, but it would just be in a new way.  Trades of Hope is a missional business with the sole purpose of helping women rise up out of extreme poverty and human trafficking.  This job has become my joy job, and I love it will all my being.  I love knowing that I am making an impact in the lives of women around the globe.   

I’m a Shop-a-holic.

Yes, it is true.  I love to shop, which is why you will often see pictures of me from my closet. It is my happy place.  Target is my favorite store, and I may have a slight obsession with it.  Shopping is a bad habit, and I have to work hard to not to buy everything I see.  I just want it all! LOL! However, I do also love just window shopping and creating outfits for all of you.  I love all things fashion and clothes and accessories, but I am 100% for affordable fashion.  I don’t feel like you have to spend a ton to look good.   I never leave the house without makeup and my hair done.  I like feeling put together and deciding what to wear each day.  

I’m an Ordinary Girl.

I am just your simple everyday girl.  I have OCD tendencies and am pretty particular about things.  Some may even say I am hardheaded.  I am a type 3, The Achiever, on the Enneagram Scale.  I care deeply what other people think of me. I am loyal to a fault. Organization is my jam, but I hate cleaning my house.  I have lots of struggles and weaknesses, and I take them as they come.  I am far from perfect, but I strive to grow and become the best version of myself I can be each day.    

That’s me in a nutshell.  You get the real, host, perfectly imperfect me every day on this blog.  You can learn from my struggles and celebrate my victories.  Every time I write a post, you are getting a piece of me. Whether it is mom life, fashion lover, personal struggles, or just me rambling on, it is all authentically me.

Anchored,

Time Cherished

Wow! I don’t know if I could feel more exhausted right now because I haven’t really slept the last few days. I never sleep well in a hotel.   My oldest daughter and I flew to Atlanta on Friday for her first live cheer competition of the season, and we got back late yesterday afternoon.  It was our first time traveling since the pandemic began, and it was quite an experience.  I was nervous about it and our chances of exposure, but I was also excited to be doing something that sort of resembled our old normal.  We took every precaution that we could given the circumstances and will be quarantining ourselves for the next week to make sure we didn’t pick up anything we could spread.  

The trip started out like a normal trip except having to wear a mask.  We got to the airport in plenty of time to get through security and get to our gate.  As we boarded the plane, the flight attendants handed us each an individually packaged sanitizing wipe that we could use to wipe down our area before we sat down.  I had actually brought a small pack to do that myself but didn’t need to use them.  The fact that the flight was full made me a little nervous, but I tried to put it out of my mind.  I felt like most people were being cautious and trying to be safe.  What I did not count on or consider was that since it was a night flight, the lights would be turned off, leaving the plane dark.  This gave some people around us the opportunity to get away with pulling their masks off and not wearing them.  I was pretty upset about it, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to say anything.   I just kept hoping the flight attendant would notice, but that didn’t happen because the flight attendants had to remain seated for the majority of the flight due to turbulence.  It wasn’t just a little turbulence either.  It was probably the worst I have ever experienced and certainly didn’t help my nerves.  I get bad motion sickness too, so that was fun.  Needless to say, the flight to Atlanta was not pleasant at all. I was so happy to get off that plane and to our hotel.  Thankfully our flight home yesterday was not full or turbulent and everyone kept their masks on! 

Typically, when we travel for competitions, we go out to eat and try new restaurants, do a bit of sightseeing, and hang out with teammates when they aren’t competing.   That was not the case this trip.  In an effort to minimize our interaction with others, we stayed in our hotel room the whole time.  The only time we left was to go to the competition, and then we came right back after it was over.  This was my first experience using Uber Eats, but it actually worked out great for lunch and dinner for the duration of the trip.  The driver brought the food directly to our room and left it outside the door to minimize contact.  It was perfect and super easy.  We watched a lot of TV, experimented with new ways to do her competition hair and makeup, and just hung out together.  It was kind of fun in a way because we just talked and laughed a lot.  I know my opportunities to do that with her are dwindling since she will be off to college soon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I love the young lady she has become, and I found myself really enjoying her company.  Even though there wasn’t much excitement to the trip, it is definitely one that I am going to remember forever.  Time spent with my family is the biggest thing that I have taken away from the pandemic.  It has opened up opportunities to just be together like never before, and I will cherish this time always.  

While we didn’t bring home the win, we came back with memories to last a lifetime.  The girls killed it both days and placed third among a super tough division.  My girl walked away with a renewed confidence in herself and pure happiness for the first time following a competition in a long time.  I saw the same light in her eyes that I used to see when she first started competing in gymnastics return, and it was shining so bright.   She even kept saying to me over and over all weekend that her eyes looked so blue.  I think she was seeing that same light that I saw.  I caught myself several times just staring at her during the trip thinking how beautiful she is and how much she has grown up.  I am so happy that she has found a new sport that she loves and is excited to learn, improve, and give it all she’s got. Although it is a sport that I never saw her doing or ever wanting to do, she is thriving in the midst of it.  I couldn’t be more happy or proud of her. It just goes to show that it is never too late to try something new and that hard work and determination pays off. 

I am happy to be back home and to have gotten a full night of sleep last night snug in my own bed, but I already miss our mom and daughter time together.  Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it is also the most rewarding.  I would give anything to go back and do some things over so that I would have had more moments like this weekend.  We rushed through so much over the years, and I hate that I didn’t take the time to simply just hang out with both girls more.  COVID had taught me such a valuable lesson.  NOTHING is more important or more precious than time spent together.  Going forward I promise myself that I am going to take more of that time and cherish every single second of it.  

Anchored,

Genetics or Not?

Both of my children were diagnosed with ADHD several years ago and are both a textbook case of it.  They have a serious inability to focus mixed in with hyperactivity (always fidgeting, can’t sit still, talking a mile a minute, and, as my husband describes it, are often “shot out of a canon”).  There were times when my youngest was doing gymnastics that I could literally see her bouncing up and down on the sidelines with a look like she was going to crawl out of her own skin if she was told to be still. She literally couldn’t control herself.  She used to get in a lot of trouble in school and at home in her early elementary days because she was just so impulsive.  My oldest has more of the inattention piece than her sister.  She zones out and totally tunes everyone and everything around her out.  This sometimes makes her appear clueless just because she isn’t able to follow along with a whole conversation, process it all, and tune out all the distractions around her at the same time.  Her infamous quote is “I’m so confused,” and that is simply because she missed half of what was said.  Both girls are super unorganized and a total mess.  My youngest is famous for loosing things, and both of their rooms look like an explosion went off in there most of the time.  Anyone around them can tell when they have taken their medicine and when they haven’t because there is such a night and day difference.  They can function so much better when they are on it.  My oldest has figured out ways to cope on her own in addition to her medication and will tell you that she has to chew gum to pay attention in class at school or have something to “play” with in her hands at home.  She always has a small ball that she is throwing up and catching or bouncing off the wall or ceiling while she is on the computer doing schoolwork.  Somehow those things help her focus.  While both of them have come along way from those younger years, they both still struggle with their ADHD.

For years I wondered how they both ended up having it.  Was it something I did or didn’t do when I was pregnant?  Was it a result of our parenting? Was it my fault? I couldn’t see where they got it from.  Some say it is hereditary, but neither my husband nor I have ever been diagnosed with it and neither has anyone else in our families.  If anything, we have always been the total opposite of hyperactive, inattentive, disorganized, impulsive, or any of their other tell-tell characteristics.  My husband will say that he could see that, had it been a bigger thing when we were younger, he might have been diagnosed with it.  I have never seen that side of him, though. He tells me that he was a troublemaker and that he struggled in school as a kid, but that is hard for me to envision knowing who he is now.  I on the other hand was always a good student and was never one to really ever get in trouble.  In fact, I have often been referred to as a “goody two shoes”.  Some would say that I am organized to the extreme and far from hyperactive.  I am actually more of an extreme introvert.  It has only been in the last 4 or 5 years that I have come to think maybe I do have ADHD minus the hyperactivity.  I see myself as more the inattentive type.  I am starting to believe that my over organization and compulsive habits are just my way of coping, much like the gum and balls are for my oldest. It has honestly been since I stopped teaching that I have come to this realization. For so many years, I was juggling a lot and was incredibly busy.  It was almost like that was masking the fact that I may have ADHD.  I was laser focused because I had no other choice but to be.  It is only now that I don’t have as much going on that I realize that I really do have a hard time focusing and that I do little things all the time subconsciously to cope.  I cannot sit and watch a television program without using a coloring app on my phone.  Otherwise, I am distracted by other things and have to constantly rewind the show because I missed whole sections.  It sometimes takes me hours to write one blog post because I catch myself totally spaced out or suddenly doing something completely different.  Sometimes I even have to walk away and come back to it because I have totally lost my train of thought and have no clue where I was going with a particular paragraph.  Just this week, I was on a zoom call for our monthly team meeting and found myself really struggling to pay attention. I was beyond distracted. That is kind of what got me thinking about this subject and making multiple realizations about myself. Maybe it is just a sign of aging or maybe I really do have ADHD.  Maybe I am just going crazy.  I don’t know.  It certainly makes me wonder a lot lately.  Could the girls have gotten it from me? If you would have asked me that a few years ago, I would have vehemently said, “No way!” Now I am not so sure. 

Regardless of where it came from, genetics or environmental or whatever, I no longer see it as a bad thing or something terrible that I may have caused like I did when they were younger. Without it, neither girl would be the unique and totally cool kid that they are now. Yes, it was a struggle at times and sometimes I still want to pull my hair our when they are going 90 miles a minute, but I wouldn’t change a single piece of it. If I have it or not, really doesn’t matter. I have learned to cope with whatever it is without even realizing it. It has caused us all to grow and learn about ourselves and each other and has made us all into the people that we are today, and I just happen to think that we are all pretty awesome (most of the time <wink, wink>). None of us are defined by the label. It is simply a small piece of our story.

Anchored,

I Get Knocked Down BUT I Get Up Again!

Typically, during this time of the year, I do a lot of vendor events with my Trades of Hope business.  It is a great way to introduce people to the mission of TOH and the stories of our artisans.  Many people are shopping for Christmas gifts, so I usually do really well at those types of events.  The minute I tell people who walk up to my tables that everything is handmade by women around the world rising out of poverty and human trafficking, they are instantly intrigued.  I can see their heartstrings being pulled as I continue to tell them the stories behind each piece they pick up.  Many of them are so moved that they are compelled to shop with me.  I love it when someone is so touched by the mission that they call others over to have a look at the beautiful work our artisans do. Each sell I make means that a woman is able to keep and feed her babies.  It is all about spreading HOPE and changing the world.  Sadly, though, COVID has thrown a wrench in that this year, and many of the events I normally do have been canceled.  I had all but given up on the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen this year, and I was pretty bummed.  When an opportunity to do a 3-week event arose, I jumped on it.  I applied and was almost instantly accepted to be a vendor.  It is actually a Farmer’s Market that they turn into sort of a Holiday Market for 3 Saturdays each December.  They have their typical food/produce vendors, but they add several other vendors to allow people to do holiday shopping while also getting their fresh produce and baked goods.  I had never done anything quite like it before and wasn’t really sure what to expect.  They made it very clear that they would be following strict social distancing guidelines, and everyone had to wear a mask.  Plus, the event is outside which helps to minimize exposure.  I felt pretty comfortable that it was safe to participate…at least on the COVID front. 

My husband and I arrived pretty early last Saturday for the first day of the event. We were told where to set up and began unloading our car.  We were told to unload everything and then move the car before beginning to set anything up.  Before my husband could park the car and get back over to me, I had to rush and move things so the person next to me could set her tent up.  It was insane! They expected us to be set up in like 2 minutes, which is near impossible.  Anyway, I had planned for it to be really cold, but I did not plan for the 30-50 mph wind gusts.  My husband usually gets me set up for these events and then leaves until it is time to take down and go home.  He couldn’t leave me this time because the wind was so bad.  Despite him really anchoring my tent down, we were terrified it was going to blow away any second.  The sides of my tent were blowing so hard that they were actually moving my tables and knocking stuff over left and right.  It was miserable.  We did have a few periods where the wind would die down, but for the most part, it was a constant battle.  We were not supposed to break down our displays until the event ended at 1:00, but at around 12:00 the wind picked up so bad that we just couldn’t maintain anymore.  Our tent was pretty much the only one still standing at that point because it was so well anchored, but we were barely keeping it down at that point.  After a few big gusts too many, we decided we better take it down before it snapped loose and broke.  I immediately started pulling down all my stuff and boxing it up because I knew once the tent was down, everything would go flying.  At that point I didn’t care that we were packing up early. I didn’t want to break or lose anything so I was just throwing stuff in boxes at fast as I could while another guy helped hold down our tent so my husband took down all the sides in preparation for bringing the whole thing down.  Necklaces were getting tangled, and there was no rhyme or reason to how I was boxing it up.  I just wanted it all down as soon as possible.  

As I was throwing things in boxes, my husband was rushing to get the tent down as fast as he could.  I really wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing since I was so focused on my task.  In my head, he had already pulled the tent down.  In reality, he had only taken down my sign and the sides of the tent.  I was bending down to put stuff in a box as he yelled that he was running to the car to grab the bag that the tent goes in.  Keep in mind, I thought it was already down.  The next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground with a table on top of me.  One of my tables had blown up, smacked me in the head, and ended up on top of me.  It all happened so fast, that I was kind of stunned for a few seconds.  I didn’t know what had really happened.  I crawled out from under the table to see my husband running towards me as he saw it all play out.  He immediately asked if I was ok.  I quickly said that I was and started grabbing things that were blowing away.  My money box with all the cash in it had blown up with the table somehow.  I don’t even think it was on the table to begin with, but who knows in all the chaos?  Anyway, somehow it got unlocked and opened and money was flying everywhere.  I was trying to grab it all as the people next to me helped.  I had no clue that my tent had still been up and was actually flying down the street as my husband and a few other men chased after it.  Apparently, the tent snapped loose from the stakes holding it down, and in its wake, it flipped the table onto me as it flew away. Then it slammed into the ribs of the guy in the space next to me before continuing down the street. Thankfully, he was very nice about it, but I felt so bad.  It was a complete nightmare!  I am so glad that my husband had decided to stay the whole time because I don’t know what I would have done if I had been there by myself.  

Despite getting hit in the head with the table, I only had a minor headache.  I am so glad that I was bending down at the very second it all happened, or I could have been hurt really bad.  I am terrified of going back and doing it all again this Saturday and next but I am not going to let the wind stop me.  My husband and I have been keeping a very close watch on the forecast.  Right now, it is predicted to be significantly warmer this weekend with 10-15 mph winds.  While we would prefer little to no winds, that is much better than 30-50 mph gusts.  Even though the day was difficult, I was still able to spread HOPE to a ton of people and did pretty well considering the terrible weather.  I am hopeful that it will go even better this week as long as the winds stay down.  When I said earlier this week that the hits kept on coming, this was one of the hits I was talking about.  I literally got knocked down! Yep, that old song just went through my head too. “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down!” It may be a silly song, but it’s the truth! I got back up again and will continue to spread HOPE everywhere I go no matter what gets thrown at me!   That’s all we can do right? Whenever something or someone throws punches at us, we simply need to get back up again and keep going.  Don’t let anything hold you back or keep you from moving forward!

Anchored,

Can’t We All Stay Young?

I am well aware of the fact that I am getting older.  In fact, that has been made abundantly clear to me several times in recent weeks.  On the positive side of it all, I was recently told by two different people that I don’t look my age.  I am taking that to be a compliment.  One person found out that I had 12 and 16 year old daughters and exclaimed that information shocked her because I didn’t seem like I was old enough to have children those ages.  I told her it was good skincare. LOL! Anyway, maybe I don’t look my age, but I sure do feel every bit of it.  To prevent myself from boring you with my pity party over my aging body, I am just going to try to briefly list all of the things that have made me feel my age over the past few weeks.  

I’m a HISTORICAL doll!

Being the mom of two girls, we’ve had our share of American Girl Dolls and accessories over the years.  Well, in case you haven’t seen their newest HISTORICAL doll yet, let me enlighten you.  I am now a HISTORICAL doll!!! That’s right the newest American Girl Doll is an 80’s girl.  I’m not kidding when I say that this doll could have been created to be me in the 80’s! She comes complete with an acid was skirt, Walkman with a removable cassette tape, scrunchie with the side ponytail, plastic bangle bracelets, and a Lip Smacker! Her add on accessories include a fanny pack, PAC-MAN Arcade Game, Care Bear Pajamas, Care Bear sleeping bag, and a mini Care Bear! Oh and let’s not forget the PAC-MAN plastic lunch box that comes with a thermos  and Cheese Puffs! Wait….there’s more! You can even get the classic pink and teal Caboodle!!!  Seriously! I could go on and on about all of the other accessories that are ripped straight from my childhood, but I will spare you.  How can I possibly be old enough to be a HISTORICAL doll???

Images from americangirl.com

My vision is failing me!

I went to the eye doctor yesterday for my yearly eye exam.  I have been wearing glasses since my first year of teaching when I realized I couldn’t read the board when I was standing in the back of my classroom.  Over the years my vision has slowly deteriorated, and my distance vision has gotten worse.  However, I have never had a problem seeing up close or reading.  Well, at my appointment yesterday it was made clear that has changed.   I am also now struggling to read and see up close.  That means that I had to order my first pair of progressive lenses yesterday.  I was so worried about having that bifocal line on my glasses that I was just going to suffer with my current glasses.  Thankfully, they explained to me that there is now a progressive lens that doesn’t have the line.   It’s just one more sign that I am getting older. 

The grays are taking over!

I have been coloring my roots for a couple of years now to cover up a little bit of grey that I had at my temples. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to bother me.   I really had so few of them that my stylist was using a very light grey coverage formula.  This last time I got my hair done, though, things had changed.  I was seeing more and more grey and it didn’t seem like the color was lasting long enough because I was noticing more and more LONG grey hairs.  My stylist told me that it was time to move me to FULL grey coverage with a stronger formula.  It really is depressing! 

I’m out of touch!

This is something that my kids have been telling me over and over again lately.  Apparently, I have lost my edge and am no longer with the trend of being the hip, cool mom.  I have reached the point where I can’t stand to listen to the same music as them, and I am constantly turning the volume down in the car as my oldest reaches to turn it back up.  According to both girls, I am clueless when it comes to what kids their age are doing and are interested in.  Everything they are into seems so dumb to me. Don’t even get me started on Tic Tok!!! On top of that, my youngest is frequently accusing me of embarrassing her, even when I am just standing there don’t nothing. I think the fact that I am breathing is embarrassing to her.   I feel like I have become my own mother.  You know that commercial where this guy is trying to help people not to become their parents?  I think I am at that point.  

I really am getting older and older each day.  It’s true.  I don’t want to admit it, but these things just keep reminding me. Plus, my aching body is further proof.  I truly have had a blessed life thus far. As my next birthday approaches, I hope that I have many more years to come.  I just pray that I continue to age gracefully AND that I keep getting those ageless comments every now and then to make me feel better about the process. Why can’t we just all stay young forever?

Anchored and Aging,

#MomLife

You know how people always say that moms put their family before themselves all the time? Well, I am a prime example of that.  Whenever we move, I immediately start researching and asking around to find doctors for my girls.  I get them in right away to see a pediatrician and then get all the specialists set up for my youngest.  I find them a dentist, orthodontist, and any other medical professional that they need within a month or two of our move.  Then life gets busy, and I never set up those things for myself until it becomes a necessity to get my medications refilled. There have even been times that I went months without my migraine medication and was miserable just because I just didn’t make the time to get myself set up with a new doctor.  Every single time we have moved, it has taken many months before I find new doctors for myself.  I just don’t make myself a priority.  Once I get an established physician, I am consistent in going and making appointments.  It is just that initial appointment that always gets pushed aside.   We moved here a little over 2 years ago, and I just went to the dentist for the first time.  Keep in mind that I am usually religious about going to the dentist every 6 months. While it should have been a priority, it just wasn’t unfortunately.  I really am ashamed to say that it took me that long to go.  I can assure you that now that I have broken the ice, I will go every six months religiously…until we move again. 

Putting myself last is a big part of why it takes me so long to establish doctors, dentists, and such for me.  I think another part of it is the fear of finding someone good that I like.  I always do extensive research before I pick someone to try.  I’m a little weird about it, I guess. I have been looking at dentists for a while before I finally pulled the trigger and made the appointment.  I just don’t like new and unknown, and I am definitely not good with change.  It’s even sadder that one of my few friends here is actually a dentist and would have gladly seen me, but I couldn’t make myself make an appointment with her.   I was afraid of it being too weird.  It’s not like I have a fear of the dentist like some people. I really don’t.  I’ve never even had a bad experience before.   Although, I do have to admit that I once bit my dental hygienist when she was inserting that tray of nasty fluoride like back in the day, BUT I was little and that hygienist was my aunt.  LOL! Oh, and the sound of them scraping plaque off my teeth is a bit like nails on a chalkboard for me, but other than that I have no problems going to see a dentist.  I have good teeth and have never had a cavity in my life. The biggest dental work I have ever had was having my wisdom teeth removed and having braces.  It really is all about not making myself a priority and not liking change.  

I finally had my dentist appointment yesterday, and everything went totally fine as expected.  I liked both the hygienist and the dentist, and it was so dumb that I waited so long.  The worst part was trying to understand what they were saying to me through their multiple layers of protective gear.  It was really hard to hear them.  Again, there were no cavities, and they were impressed with how well my teeth looked considering it had been 2 years since I had a cleaning.  I just got lucky with good teeth genes. I do have some receding gum lines because I am aggressive brusher. I do better about that when I am concentrating, but I’m usually not paying attention when I brush my teeth. They also recommended an upper bite guard which I’m not thrilled about because I clench my teeth at night. Overall, though, it was a great appointment and one that I should not have put off for so long.  

I would like to say that I have learned my lesson and will do better the next time we move, but that would likely be a lie.  I know myself too well and am certain that it will be a struggle for me again next time. It’s just the life of a mom who doesn’t make herself a priority and also doesn’t like change. 

Anchored and Rambling,

Check Yourself

I am about to get real personal today. It may be a little long, so strap in.  I shared a small portion of this on my personal Facebook page yesterday and figured it was time to share it here too.  You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as consistently as I used to over the last 3 or 4 months.  Part of that reason was due to a lack of things to write about since my life has been pretty boring with social distancing.  The other part of that was due to a personal battle I was facing.  Back at the beginning of the pandemic, I had felt a lump in my breast.  It was not something that was unusual for me.  I found my first lump about 5 years ago.  That first time I felt one, I freaked out.  It scared me to death.  I went to the doctor right away and was sent for my very first mammogram.  It turned out to be just a simple, fluid-filled cyst that I was told was nothing to worry about.  They said it would likely go away on its own.  I had another mammogram 6 months later, and it was gone.  About 6 months later, I felt another lump on the other side.  I again went to the doctor right away and had a mammogram (my 3rd in a year).  This time, they told me that not only did I have the one I felt, but I also had 7 others that I couldn’t feel.  I was again told that they were just simple, fluid-filled cysts and that I was obviously prone to them.  I was just told to take Vitamin E because it had been known to help with breast tissue.   From then on, I was having mammograms pretty regularly.  Each time, they would see some cysts had gone away and new ones had appeared.  It was just becoming a normal part of my life.  

When I felt the newest lump back in March, I didn’t immediately rush to the doctor.  We were in the beginning of the pandemic and everything was shutting down.  I assumed that it was another simple cyst like all the others and that there was no need for me to rush to the doctor and risk getting sick.   It wasn’t until June when some things had started to open back up and I needed refills on some of my medications that I saw my doctor and told her about the newest lump.  Of course, she sent me for another mammogram just to make sure, thinking it was likely the same as usual.   It was another 2 weeks before I could get the mammogram because I had to wait for the records from my previous mammograms to get here from my doctor in Georgia.  I had not yet had a mammogram since we moved.  In my world, nothing is ever simple, and they had a very difficult time getting my records which is a whole other story in itself. Anyway, I finally got the records after multiple phone calls and was able to get the appointment scheduled.  Now, when you have a mammogram, it is typically followed by an ultrasound.  In my previous instances, the ultrasound tech would tell me where and how many cysts had been found and reassured me right away that they were nothing.  Well, this time was different.  As she was doing the ultrasound, she really wasn’t saying much.  I figured it was because we both had masks on, and it was difficult to understand each other.  Then she told me to stay right there and she would be back with the radiologist.  I thought that was odd because I usually don’t see the radiologist.  In the past, the tech told me what she saw to ease my mind, and then the radiologist would send a report to my doctor and I would get a call confirming what the tech had told me.  The radiologist came in and introduced himself and then instructed the tech to continue with the ultrasound because he wanted to see it for himself.  At this point I was starting the sweat.  This was NOT normal.  When they were done, he asked me to sit up.  He told me that I had several simple cysts in both breasts like usual but that the one that I had felt was different.  He told me that it looked much more complex.  There were none of the assurances that I normally get that everything was ok.  I could literally feel my heart pounding out of my chest as he was talking.  I was trying to pay attention and process all that he was saying, all while trying not to cry or panic in front of them.  He told me that I needed to schedule an appointment to come back the next week to have a needle biopsy.  I held it together long enough to get dressed, schedule the appointment, walk back to my car, and call my husband.  He tried to assure me that everything was going to be ok and that they were likely just taking precautions, but the fear had already set in.  

That next week, I went back for the needle biopsy.  The radiologist cut a tiny slit in my skin. Then using an ultrasound as a guide, inserted a large needle through the slit and into the mass.  It wasn’t painful per se.  It was more just very uncomfortable.  He instructed a tech to push a button and the needle sucked a portion of the mass out through a tube.  He repeated this a couple of times moving the needle around.  Then he placed a “clip” near the mass which he said would show up in future mammograms, so they knew that they had done a biopsy of that particular mass before.  After tapping me up, he told me that my doctor should call me with the results in a couple of days.  The wait was excruciating.  I wasn’t sleeping and was so worried about it all.  When I hadn’t heard from my doctor after about a week, I finally called her to see if she had the results.  It turned out that they had switched systems and my results had been lost in the shuffle.  My doctor had never seen the results.  These things seriously only happen to me! Anyway, after eventually locating the results, I was told by my doctor’s nurse that my doctor would review them right away and call me back.  About 30 minutes later, my doctor called.  She was very matter of fact and told me that the biopsy results were ultimately inconclusive, but that it was possibly a phyllodes tumor.  She didn’t give any other details or information, but I felt like there was a sense of urgency in her voice.  She said I needed to see a breast surgeon right away, and that her nurse would call me back in a bit with an appointment.  Of course, I hung up and immediately began googling what she said.  It took me straight to the American Cancer Society page, and I freaked out.  I called my husband in tears.  I don’t think I will ever forget that moment and the pure terror that was racing through me.

I got those results on a Friday and four days later, my husband and I were sitting in an office at the Breast Cancer Center waiting to see the surgeon.  I was a nervous wreck.  I think the surgeon could see the pure terror on my face even through my mask when she walked in the room.  She immediately started reassuring me that I was going to be fine and that the chances of it being malignant were very small.  Wouldn’t it have been nice if my regular doctor had mentioned that little fact? She then began to talk to us about all the possibilities of what it could be and my options as she was furiously writing it all down for me.  I do want to go on record saying how amazing she has been throughout the whole process.  Anyway, she said that the tumor had to be removed to not only to confirm what it really was but also because we just needed to get rid of it.  She even drew diagrams for us to explain the whole process. She did tell me that I had to have a Magseed placed before the surgery, which was a simple procedure where they placed these tiny little seed-like things in or around the tumor to help guide her to the right location when she did the surgery.   I left her office feeling a little reassured and with an appointment for the Magseed placement in a week and a lumpectomy three weeks later. Even though she told me that there was only a small chance it was malignant, I still worried so much over those next three weeks.  Even little things would make me burst into tears.  I am not sure I have ever felt so afraid in my life.  

I had the surgery on August 19.  My surgeon told my husband that everything went well and that she would call with the results in about a week. However, if we didn’t hear anything, it usually meant that everything was ok. It was the whole no news is good news kind of thing.  I had a follow-up appointment scheduled two weeks later.  The pain following the surgery was way less than I expected, which was good.  I was obviously still worried about the results and I had some insecurities about what I would look like when I healed, but overall, I was doing pretty well.  In true Allison fashion, I never got the call with the results.  I took that to mean that I was ok, and I was just so glad it was all over.  Of course, I was wrong about one thing.  The whole nightmare wasn’t over.  When I went for my post-op appointment, my doctor immediately told me that it was a phyllodes tumor, but it came back benign. I was ok!  I had a brief moment of complete relief before she hit me with the next bit of information.  The results didn’t show clear margins all the way around which meant they didn’t get all of it.  I needed a second surgery to remove more tissue or the tumor was certain to return.  They would go back in through the same scar and take a little bit more.  I had my second surgery on September 16, almost one month after the first one.  This time the bandages stayed on a little longer than the first time, which caused me to have an allergic reaction.  I developed an allergy to adhesive a few years ago and tend to get hives that are extremely itchy when a bandage is left on for any length of time.  I ended up having to remove the bandages myself (they were supposed to fall off on their own), which caused some extreme pain.  The incision was VERY sensitive this time after being cut open twice.  With the large welts from the hives and the sensitivity of the incision, I was miserable for a couple of days.  Only me, right? Thankfully, this time I got good news at my post-op appointment.  They had finally gotten it all and this mess really was finally over.  I will see my surgeon again in March and then will have my next mammogram in June unless I feel another lump before then.  

What I learned through all of this is that life is so precious, and it can change at any moment.  I also learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was.  I cannot imagine what would have happened if things had turned out differently.  Not many people knew what I was going through over the last 4 months because I kept it all in, but I am so grateful to everyone that did know and prayed for me.  It truly was all in God’s hands and he carried me through it each step of the way.  It is only by his grace that things turned out the way that they did.  My heart and prayers go out to everyone that didn’t get the same outcome and have fought or are fighting for their life.  I know that what I went through was very minor in comparison.  Self-checks and mammograms are so important.  Please make sure you are doing them regularly.  No matter what age you are or whether or not you are at risk, you should be doing regular self-exams at home.  They are so easy to do, and they could save your life.  If I wasn’t doing them myself, I would never have found that first lump 5 years ago or the ones that followed.  If you are 40+ years old or have a family history of breast cancer, you need to be getting mammograms at least once a year.  Yes, they are uncomfortable and a little painful, but they are all worth it if it saves your life.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we are all reminded of the importance of regular checks, but we don’t need to forget about them the other 11 months of the year.  I cannot stress how important this is.  If you take nothing away from my story than this, please check yourself! 

I am still in the healing phase and am self-conscious of my big scar, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I am ok. I have been truly blessed.  There is no guarantee that this won’t happen again or that the outcome next time would be the same, but I know that God has me in his hands and will carry me through whatever the future holds for me.  

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Anchored and Well,