Monthly Archives: August 2009

Staying positive

I’m doing my best to look for the best, despite the crap. Today was okay—teaching was hard, mostly due to the fact that students don’t necessarily catch a clue when you say, “I’m having a bad day.” That, and a few rather insensitive comments made it a bit hard to get through the day, but I lived and I hope that tomorrow is easier. There are no real updates right now. My Dad had his CAT scan, and my grandma’s status is still essentially the same.

Still, there were a few bright spots:

  • Feeling a little sore thanks to the awesome massage Andrew  treated me to over the weekend.  He was such a sweetheart and definitely knew I needed a break.  The therapist was awesome, and she definitely worked out some of my knots.
  • The yummy salad and turkey pita sandwich I packed for lunch today—eating well felt soooo good.
  • Supportive friends who text, Tweet, email, call and Facebook me to offer their support.  THANK YOU.  Thank you so much.
  • Camera Obscura’s awesome album “My Maudlin Career” that makes me want to put on a striped shirt and ride my bike down near a pier of some kind.
  • My best friend at work taking care of an awkward conversation for me and totally being there when I lost it for a few minutes.
  • Feeling an odd sense of peace at times, and feeling so lucky that I have a family that I love and care about and am so, so, so close to.

At this point, the smallest things can bring some of the biggest blessings—I’m just trying to look for even the smallest signs of hope.

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Perspective

Well, well, well.

This Monday seems to suck a bit more than most, not gonna lie. I wish I had some “miracle” to share with y’all, but we are still in the midst of waiting, waiting, waiting for news. My grandmother was transferred to a hospital with better specialists and treatments for her condition. Her doctors were fairly confident that she will beat this; however, we are still in a very scary, touch and go place. It’s frightening, as things can change so quickly.

As for my dad, he has his CAT scan today. It’s so hard, to feel so helpless, so unable to do anything to help. As someone with a bit of a control problem, it’s incredibly difficult to not know, to not have anything to do that can make things easier or better. Yesterday, I tried to do the best things I could do: I spent a lovely afternoon with my parents. My dad and I went out for Starbucks; my mom and I sat and chatted.

It’s amazing how a few days can shift your perspective so completely. I’ve had my life turned upside down before, but not like this. Not in a way that is scary, out of my hands, and dramatic. While I’ve always been grateful for my parents and my family in general, I realize once again how blessed we are to be so bonded. Sure, it hurts, because this whole situation is heartbreaking because we are so close, but I feel so lucky that I never have to doubt that my dad knows that I love him. I feel lucky that in the middle of such a terrible time, we have one another to sit with, to cry with, to laugh with.

To those who emailed me, called me, sent me texts, left comments, Tweeted at me, etc.—thank you. Thank you so much. Your support gives us hope and comfort. We are so thankful. PLEASE keep it up, and keep it comin’.

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The one where I seriously beg for your prayers/good wishes.

I know that we usually keep things light around these parts, but this post is a bit serious and not funny at all.

On Friday, I got two of the worst pieces of news I’ve ever received, EVER.

First of all, my dad was diagnosed with skin cancer on Friday. As I’ve shared before, my dad and I are incredibly, incredibly close. At this point, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern. Tomorrow, he’ll go in for a CAT scan, in which they’ll determine if it’s spread. While what he has is a slower-moving, not-as-scary type of cancer, it’s still cancer, and this particular patch of skin has been there for quite some time without being checked. There are concerns of whether or not it’s spread, particularly to his lungs. We should have some more results soon, but until that point, it’s almost scarier: we don’t have a plan, we don’t know what’s going on, and we don’t know how to help.

At this point, my mom, brother, dad and I are just trying to stay strong and positive. I can’t go to the “bad place”—it is so scary to imagine what could happen next, or what could unfold over the next few months. My family is incredibly close-knit, something I’m so grateful for. The four of us have dealt with tough times before, but this seems so big and so scary. All of us are trying to keep upbeat, but I know that there are moments when I dissolve into tears, and I know the rest of them are experiencing the same thing. It’s just so scary.

Secondly, my mom’s mom, my grandma Carol, is in the hospital with E. Coli and colitis. While neither of those things sound particularly daunting, she is not doing well. There are concerns about her kidneys, she is incoherent and it’s touch and go. My grandma is another person I am incredibly close to, and is one of the biggest supports in my life. Things are not looking good, and we are hoping and praying she starts to show signs of improvement soon, as this is life-threatening at this point. She is another person I can’t imagine my life without, and this feels like a sick joke.

My step-grandmother, Nancy, was also diagnosed with breast cancer last week, and we are in the process of figuring out how serious her illness is, and what her course of treatment is. Though she is far away in Arizona, we were already worried, concerned and scared for her.

So, blog friends. I am so serious. If you are a prayer, a wisher, a lighter of candles, a good vibes person…WHATEVER, would you do me the favor of remembering my family? My brother and I need my daddy and my grandma; my mom needs her husband and her mom. My words don’t do the value of these people in my life justice…I literally cannot imagine my life without them in it. I beg you: please, please, please, please, please. We are hoping and praying for strength for my dad and grandmothers, wisdom for the doctors treating them, and strength for those of us trying to be helpful and strong along the way.

I would be so grateful—this community offers so much support, and I would be so thankful for any good things you could send our way.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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Trying to turn hate to love

I have two confessions about things that I hate.

First of all, I hate sports.  I don’t get them.  I have yet to ever comprehend WHYYYYY people spend time watching grown men run around, slamming in to one another and throwing a ball.  And you people you get pissed off when your team loses?  You confound me.  Why?  Does it matter?  Do you personally get traded to another team or lose your contract or something?  Oh, no, you don’t?  Then why the anger and general pissiness regarding sporting events?  I love my favorite bands, but if I see that they’re not doing well on Billboard or what not, I don’t get violently angry.

OK, so that’s my deal with sports.

The second thing I strongly dislike is beer.  It tastes gross to me.  And I know I’m weird.  I love wine, girly drinks, and most other forms of adult beverages.  But beer?  Ick.  I just hate it.

Still, somewhere in my mind, I wish I was one of those super cool girls who genuinely enjoy football and don’t regard Super Bowl Sunday as Snack Day with Good Commercials.  I wish I could attend a sporting event and give a flying rip about what was taking place on the field or court.  And most of all, I wish I was skinny and hot and could pound a beer with the guys at a baseball game, while looking adorable eating a hot dog.

Thus begins my quest.

Earlier today, I watched a football game.  I am currently watching a baseball game, and while I generally enjoy baseball, for the most part, it’s rare that I’m all, “Hey!  Let’s watch a baseball game!”  Hold me.  Also, hold my father, brother and boyfriend, who I fear will faint when they hear that THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY TIME.  Anyone want to give me a sports overview?  Tell my why I should care exactly?  Explain some of the rules so maybe I understand why people yell at the screen during football?

I’m also looking for beer suggestions.  What kind is the least disgusting?  I like framboise (a raspberry lambic) but what run-of-the-mill, relatively cheap beer should I try to drink first?  I’m hoping it’s sort of like wine: an acquired taste.  Lord knows that I started out not really loving wine, and have ended up a huge wino.  I have hope.  But I also have no clue where to begin.

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You Can’t Make This Up

I suppose I should start this post with a disclaimer: I’m not a bathroom talk person.  I’ve read the book but on the whole, the topic makes me wildly uncomfortable.  Unless I’m talking with Andrew, and then, well…living with someone definitely opens a variety of conversation topics.

Anyways.

Yesterday, after work, I had to attend a meeting for an extracurricular club I’m in charge of.  About halfway through the meeting, I had to use the restroom.  I walked down the hallway, and found the restroom.  I went in, quickly used the bathroom (um, not what the book discusses) and washed my hands.  When I exited the bathroom, there was a woman standing outside.  I smiled and tried to pass her.  She stopped and looked at me.

“Did everything come out okay?” she said.  “I’m always here if you need a little push.”

I’ve heard this little bathroom joke before.  But, really?!  To a stranger.  The following scenarios ran through my mind:

1)  She honestly thought I was someone else.  Maybe she thought she was speaking to a close friend?

2)  Perhaps this poor woman is a nervous talker.  She saw a stranger, wanted to be friendly and then decided a bathroom joke was the best way to break the ice.

3)  Um, I’m out.

Anyways, whatever her reasons, she sufficiently creeped me out.

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My Style Statement

Yesterday, I wrote about the amazing book, Style Statement that I read recently.  Carrie and Danielle, the authors of the book define your Style Statement this way:

Your Style Statement is the two words that define the true you. It’s a touchstone for making more powerful choices in your life – from your wardrobe to your living room, your relationships to your career plans. Your Style Statement is where your essence meets your expression.

Honestly, this sounded a bit fuzzy to me at first.  As the book progresses, the value of having a well-defined style statement becomes exceedingly clear.  There are journal prompts for nearly every area of your life: your clothes, your career, your relationship.  You’re asked to define things in these areas: what works for you?  What doesn’t?  Basically, you figure out what makes you tick.

Once you’ve answered a series of soul-searching questions, some of which brought me to tears and opened up ideas I hadn’t considered, you create your Style Statement—a two-word phrase based on what Carrie and Danielle call the 80/20 method.  The 80% represents your core word—the foundation of who you are, while the 20% rounds you out—basically allowing you to be your whole self.

My core word?

Cultivated.

The book defines it this way:  They love to nurture their inner life, other people, animals, nature, and ultimately good ideas. Happy to foster and promote the growth of others. They are natural leaders. Positively passionate about growing, learning, and teaching…They always have some pursuit or exploration underway. Cultivated considers all of life’s experiences positive and negative nutrients for the inner garden from which they reap their harvest.

This is an abridged definition, but when I read it, I got chills.  If you know me, you know my endless “to-do” list of things to accomplish.  While I definitely need to just relax sometimes, the truth is that I’m happiest when I’m growing or pursuing something.  I like helping foster growth in others; hence my career choice and passion for teaching.  The book also says that people with the word “cultivated” are “interesting to others simply because they are sincerely interested in the world around them.”  This is so true for me—I love hearing people’s stories, ideas, feelings.  I like knowing about the world I live in.  Finally, I’ve packed a lot of experience in these 26 years—some good, some bad—and I couldn’t agree more that it’s THOSE experiences that help me nurture my inner life.  Sure, they’re broken me, but they’ve helped me grow, and I can’t help but ultimately feel thankful for the ways that they’ve shaped me. 

My 20% word?

Creative.

Yessss.  I need creativity, an outlet.  The book states that the darkest days for creative types are ones when they feel uninspired. and that they must put things together their own way.  I love this.  I crave inspiration, a new way of doing things, and to put my own twist on life.

So, that’s me.  Cultivated Creative. 

Another friend who read this book stated that once she found her Style Statement, she felt like she’d come home.  I couldn’t agree more.  I love seeing myself with fresh eyes: that my curiosity and need to pursue new areas of growth aren’t negative, they’re exactly what makes me interesting.  I like feeling good and recognizing that while I may not be the world’s best artist, the world’s most famous writer, that I can recognize and work on my own creative power.  I like honoring my life’s experiences, positive and negative and seeing that they help nurture me.

Cultivated Creative:  I love it.  I feel like it describes me to a “t”.  Finding this simple, two-word phrase has added so much excitement and inspiration to my life.  Things that once appeared negative and as a flaw now feel powerful and exciting—I’ve re-shaped my views on who I am, and I’m trying to implement the changes I found myself wanting to make as a result of reading this book.

Find out tomorrow how I’m using this to transform my closet and my life…

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No More Ignoring

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved clothes.  She bought, and bought, and bought.  At one time, she was ridiculously skinny and then her closet really bulged with a million different outfits and ensembles.  Some of it was fun, and some of it was funky.  Her closet was full of skirts and dresses, and comfy t-shirts and jeans.  Nothing seemed to really match, but it was all cute.  Sort of.  But still, she bought, and bought, and bought.

Until.

Until things changed.  She got bigger.  She stopped dedicating money to shopping.  She started working in a different career where she needed to be comfy-casual, not cute and stylish.  And then?  She became a teacher, and somehow had to straddle the line between being cute, youthful and comfy, while also being adult and appropriate for work.  So, style became something on the back burner.  Clothes became whatever was clean, easiest, and semi-cute, instead of an expression of what she felt and wanted to be inside.

Um, guys?

This is about me.

It’s true.  I LOVE clothes.  I really do.  But let’s be real: who wants to have little, itty-bitty, size 2 clothes and then have to get big clothes?  NOT ME.  Also?  Being a massage therapist for a year?  Not exactly conducive to cute style—it’s all about comfort, baby.  And then teaching?  I refuse to wear denim dresses and wooden apple necklaces, thanks.  But, I am the youngest on campus and need to “establish my credibility” as an adult, dressed appropriately for the big-girl job I have.

So, my style has been a bit all over the place.  I’m not SO bad—I realize that this entry makes me sound like the perfect subject for “What Not To Wear.”  My friends assure me that nope, it’s not that bad.  Still, as I work to be a healthier me, I want to work on really creating my own personal style.  Am I alone here?  Isn’t it difficult to manage style in your twenties?  Sometimes, I look at my students, and think they look so cute—but I KNOW I need to differentiate myself from them.  Other times, I look at the “work clothes” and think, “That’s adorable!  But what about when I want to go out with my friends, or on a casual date?”  Most of all, I like to think I embody a lot of different things: I work in an environment that demands professionalism, but I also like art, music, bright colors and funky jewelry.  Maybe I’m clueless, but I’d like to have options, but have them all look like me. To have a style that is defined, that can be mixed-and-matched, that causes people to see something and say, “That looks like Amy!”

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the stellar Danielle LaPorte.  I really cannot write enough good things about this lovely woman, and how absolutely amazing her writing, ideas and philosophies are—her writing is a daily dose of inspiration for me.  While browsing her site, I saw a link to her book, Style Statement.  I took a chance this month, and decided to order it.

I was hooked immediately.  The best thing about this book is that it’s not just a book about clothes, and “what to wear.”  Instead, it delves deeply into all sorts of issues: what to wear, what to do, how to be comfortable in your own skin.  The journal prompts and suggestions are fantastic, and encourage you to think so deeply about who you are, and how to make your outside and inside match and be truly fabulous, and truly “you.”  I feel like I came out on the other side knowing myself so much better, and feeling so much more at home in my own skin.  I was encouraged to dream big, live by my own design, and create a personal style that matches the girl I feel I am inside.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my own personal Style Statement, and a bit more about my journey…but all I can say is that if you’re at all hoping to be more defined in the area of personal style?  Than this is the book for you.

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