Hello darkness, my old friend

I recently went back and read my old blog posts and was so pleased with my past self for being so strong, resilient and grounded. It is kind of funny and maybe even hubris to feel that way but life has changed so much for me in the past few years, that I feel far removed from the girl writing about love, bathrooms and happiness.

My days today are filled with diapers, 12 hours of meetings, stress, and sippy cups. I hardly get the opportunity to wash my hair (thank goodness for working from home) and I cannot respond to a text message in a reasonable amount of time.

And yet I am still the same girl who cares about love, bathrooms, and happiness (and champagne, sorry I couldn’t just leave that part out). When I created this space, I gave it the tagline Cultivate happiness through chaos, and yet somewhere along the way I left happiness out of it and quite simply allowed chaos to take over, turn into stress which quickly led to burnout. Burnout and recovery is a story for another day, but today I just wanted to spend some time happy-typing. I am on my laptop all day long, far too long for one human but at the end of the day what makes me happy is writing. Writing = rest for me, more so than crawling onto the couch and watching TV (though DO NOT snooze on Ted Lasso), or even sleeping. It restores my energy and makes me happy.

I had thought about it of course, that I missed writing. But it wasn’t until this week when two separate people told me I need to keep writing did I really stop to think about why I had stopped in the first place. The way it was said to me in both scenarios mattered, and made me reflect on why it mattered at all. I feel so grateful to have finally found my voice after searching for so long. I have to take my own advice from 2017 me, who said right here on this very channel “Never allow yourself to be in the passenger seat of your journey. It is yours, remain an active participant. It is kind to please others but never in the dispense of yourself.” And while I never did dispense myself, I certainly put her in the trunk for a bit. But she’s found a way to crawl right back into the driver’s seat.

Cheers xx

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Weird to think that it was two years ago that I wrote this post. I went to the ER, and ended up staying in the hospital for two weeks, diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), the sister disease to Crohn’s.

When I got out of the hospital, I left feeling revived. I was on medicine, finally had a gastroenterologist (GI), and was in remission, after months and months of issues and pain. Today, well since April really, I’ve been on a steady decline. My medicine, which has been my savior the past two years, just all of a sudden isn’t working for me anymore. I’ve been trying a new drug, vising the hospital on a weekly basis for labs and tests, and have been back on the devil’s drug: Prednisone.

It was a good reminder for me to read my post from two years ago to give me some hope for better days ahead. It reminded me the main lesson I learned from that experience: your health is everything and should be held above everything else. It is so easy to get caught up in life and put off your health needs. I needed this reminder to make my disease a top priority so that I can find remission again.

If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it’s important to begin learning as much as you can about what it is. Not many people know what UC is, or understand how it effects the body and everyday life. Below are just some basics, leaving the actual symptoms and treatment options out. Even just the basic overview can help you to support your loved one, and I promise, promise, PROMISE they will be so appreciative that you have even taken ONE minute to try to understand.

What it is:

A chronic disease, that has no cure, or cause. Periods of remission can span months or even years, but symptoms will eventually return. Meaning: I’ll have this forever… BUT I do know many very smart people are working on fixing that(:

It causes inflammation of the large intestine, and pretty much throws your whole body off.

The result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. UC causes your immune system to not turn “off,” and therefore begins attacking your body. As a result, I am on a medication that weakens my immune system, so if you’re sick, stay awayyyyy.

What it’s not:

A constant stomach ache. I’m sorry if your stomach hurts sometimes too, I really am. But it doesn’t have anything to do with what my symptoms are. Yes, I do get stomach pains, but that’s the least of it.

Laziness. One of the many wonderful symptoms that comes along with UC is fatigue. I can sleep for >10 hours, and still wake up feeling absolutely exhausted.

Caused by diet. I mentioned there is no cause. While some people have found certain foods that irritates them, there is not a food group that we are asked to avoid.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS does not cause inflammation.

I hope that you or your loved one finds remission. UC sucks. It just does. But knowing that you have someone who understands, or even tries to, makes an incredible difference.

Proud to be an American

How appropriate that I am writing this post just before Memorial Day, a day for remembrance of those who died in active military service.

The drive from Reims to Normandy was a long one – about 5 and a half hours. We only had ONE day in Normandy, so we needed to make it worthwhile. We got up at 5am and got on the road.

Evan is a fantastic European driver. He drove us around in Ireland, where they drive on the other side of the road, so I totally trusted him in France (they drive on our side). We had no GPS, so we were kind of just wingin’ it. We finally made it to Normandy, after a wild search for coffee and only getting on a few wrong highways.

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Side note: Let me stop here and talk a bit about my knowledge of DDay, and when I got so into this. Two years ago, I knew the term DDay, I even knew the date (solely because it’s exactly one month before my birthday). I didn’t know nearly what I should have to be able to appreciate the men who gave their lives for our country that day. When we were planning a trip to France, Evan, the WWII buff, HAD to go to Normandy, which I was totally open to. However, I knew it wouldn’t be as meaningful for me to go there having such little knowledge, so I changed that. I bought the book “The Longest Day,” by Cornelius Ryan. I thought it was going to be a difficult book for me to get through, since my typical genre is love/romance/comedy. This book was amazing and I got completely absorbed in it. I learned so much, gained an interest, cried a lot, and could not put it down. This totally got me interesting in all things DDay, and WWII.

We went directly to Omaha Beach. My initial thought was how gorgeous it is. It’s a beach that people still utilize today – and it is beautiful. This made it very hard to imagine what happened here. There are memorials along the wall, explaining that day. On June 6, 1944, very little went as planned during the landing at Omaha. Difficulties in navigation caused the majority of landing craft to miss their targets throughout the day. The defenses (Germans) were unexpectedly strong, and inflicted heavy casualties on landing U.S. troops. Something I’ve never been able to get out of my head: the men who landed on this beach were so young. They were individuals, with lives and personalities, love and families. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that they had on that boat ride from England to France. They gave their entire life to fight for what was right, to fight for America, and to give us, and our allies our freedom. As President Harry Truman put it:

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” 

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Next, we went directly to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This took my breath away to see how many gravestones are here – over 9,000 Americans. They keep the grounds in immaculate condition. I was surprised that every stone has the name, and the troops are actually buried there. Previously, I thought it was just a memorial, but it is actually a cemetery and the gravestones have their name, which state they were from, the date that they passed, and which unit they were part of. There were a few we saw that the troop was unidentifiable, and the stone read “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.” It was incredibly moving to be here.

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“If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest, it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: all we asked was enough soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”  

General Mark W.Clark

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Our final stop was Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. troops did what was considered the impossible and entered the enemy territory by scaling the cliffs. The U.S. bombed this area five times before DDay, and the massive holes from the explosions are still there today — they are everywhere.

du hoc

It made me incredibly proud to be an American to see all of these sites. Many restaurants and homes in the Normandy area still today fly the American flag. It is amazing to think back to those dark days for the people in France, and how the flag gave them hope, and in the end gave them their freedoms back.

“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” — General John J. Pershing

Please take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to give thanks and remember the brave men and women who have given their lives for our country and our freedom.