Monthly Archives: March 2018

I JOINED A MENOPAUSE SUPPORT GROUP- AND OTHER WEIRD SHIT

Two months ago I went to the lady doctor for my yearly check up. I had been experiencing some symptoms so I told her about them. I had (obviously) googled the symptoms and self diagnosed myself with Ebola but I figured I should check with a professional just in case. This bitch looked at me and said “oh…you’ve entered menopause”. To which I said “uummmm WHAT” then turned around to see why she was speaking to my Mom who clearly wasn’t there (sorry Karen). I’d like to say I handled the news well. Id like to say I was mature about it. Id like to say I didn’t cuss at my doctor……I’d also like my little boobs to be 3 inches north of where they are now….but…..life aint all roses and rainbows.

Im about to tell you a story that is literally TMI. Turn away. Stop reading. If you ever wanted to look at me with dignity again please.
Ok when I was 13 years old at North Carrollton Junior High on Valentines Day of 1985 I started my period. In white pants. Yes. Im serious. I went to the nurse’s office and she started calling my Mom (who was in college classes at the time), my Dad (who was on the road as a truck driver), and then…..my Nanny (who was at work at the library). But guess who answered? Yep- my grandfather. He’d recently retired as an air traffic controller at DFW. He answered questions “affirmative” or “negative”. He had a bumper sticker that said “Burn the judges, save the flag”. He was ex military. And as I sat on that chair in someone else’s too big gym shorts (a donation to the clothing bin for kids who had “accidents”) I heard the nurse say “Ok Mr. Ellis we will see you soon.” And I felt my entire body crawl into a fetal position and just want to disappear. I hated my Mom for being in college at that moment. I hated my Dad for being on the road. I hated my Nanny for working. And I hated God for making me a girl.
Pawpa was amazing. He took me home. He asked very few questions. He told me to take aspirin and get a heating pad. And we never spoke of this again. EVER. Good man. Im sure he has some deep secret military secrets buried with him. None of those were as important as this one.
The second my doctor told me I was entering menopause I had a flashback to that day I started my period for the first time. It seems like a million years ago. A different lifetime. And yet it seems like yesterday. I finished having children at age 29. I have wanted my monthly cycle to go away ever since then. But like clockwork…every 25 days she showed up. Proving I was still female. Still able to get pregnant. Still fertile. Still bitchy. I’d done NOTHING but wish her away for years. And now my doctor tells me that time is coming. And Im sitting with that news. And not really sure how I feel.
Dont get me wrong- Im elated about the good side of this. No worries about planning vacations, cramps, packing Midol and lady products.
On the other hand- my memories on FB keep popping up and 2 years ago this week I was in INCREDIBLE shape. I was eating whatever the fuck I really wanted, working out a LOT and feeling great. My body does not look like that today. It was one of the first symptoms I noticed- weight gain. I was still working out a lot but my body wasn’t really responding the same. I can’t really sleep all night some weeks. I sweat…at night…a LOT! Im extremely moody (fuck off yes there’s a difference). I have these strange headaches I never had before. I have awful vertigo at times. And a list of other pretty unpleasant symptoms. But its not cancer. Its not Brain Rot. Its not anything severe. Its fucking menopause. I was 44 and looked good and felt good and slept well and had muscle definition and one day I woke up and didn’t.
I do have mixed feelings about all of this. The support group I joined has been amazing. You feel so “normal” when you realize other women are going through the same things. I miss my taught skin, my toned muscles, my lack of serial killer type mood swings, my ability to eat whatever the hell I want. But my tubes were tied 16 years ago. Ive known I couldn’t have kids anymore for a long time. So Im not really mourning the loss of that idea. Im not sure WHAT Im mourning. Or if Im mourning.
Honestly- today I feel like celebrating. The doctor told me menopause might last 5-8 years. Awesome. Im sure Dude is thrilled. Great timing there buddy. But there is just something about getting older I really like. Its not the wrinkly skin, age spots, cellulite, or vision loss. Its honestly nothing physical. Its truly a feeling. I feel so much more peaceful, settled, comfortable with my self, lack of caring what others think. I have less desire for things. In fact, I know less is more. I appreciate my kids as the people they are. Im learning to forgive myself ;). Im learning about love and happiness and letting go and being who I was meant to be and I wear my Nanny’s pearls with jeans and boots and I wear crazy leggings and I dont wash my hair for a week at a time and I don’t feel bad saying NO. All of that comes with age. There’s things I KNOW now that I couldn’t know at 25, 35 or even 40.
45 is technically a tad young to enter menopause according to statistics. But Ive never really been one to follow the rules anyway. Im sure there will be days I cry, feel old, look old, can’t workout as hard, and NOTICE this aging process. And thats ok. I look at this as just another reminder to LIVE. Buy the shoes, eat the cake, travel the world, climb the mountain, zipline the Gorge, write the book, and say YES. I reserve the right to change my mind about all of this tomorrow and HATE life, my body, my mood, my age, my weight gain, etc. But for today- I am happy. Im currently planning my summer trips which include but are not limited to camping/rock climbing/biking through Moab in May, Indianapolis and girls week in June, possibly a trek through Ouray, a backpacking trip through Wyoming and a ton of other little mini trips.
I am not the same girl I was on Valentine’s Day 1985. Im not the same girl I was on July 6, 2000 and March 7, 2002. Im not the same girl I was when I left Texas 5 years ago. Im not the same girl I was yesterday. I guess now I get to say “woman”. I think Ive earned that.
Grab the adventure by the testicles and GO. GO! And don’t stop. We all are very different in many many ways. But theres one thing we all have in common. You are older today than you were yesterday. And tomorrow is coming……fast. Time is a bitch man…she doesn’t discriminate. So buy the shoes, eat the cake, climb the mountain, backpack across the country, buy the land, build the house, pet the alpaca. And do it NOW.
I’ll CHOOSE to embrace this beautiful change in me. I’ll choose to celebrate that I GET to be a woman. That I GET to wake up each day. That I GET to do the things I want to do. And if that doesn’t pan out….I’ll eat an entire chocolate cake and start again tomorrow.
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Nanny’s Mirror

My Nanny made a lot of my clothes when I was young and continued to hem, alter and “fix” my dresses even through college. She was an amazing seamstress. She had a sewing room in her house with drawers full of material and old Simplicity patterns to make clothes. You know those brown crinkly papers that had lines on them and you just trace and cut the material out and then sew it together? Ya. Those. And right outside her sewing room was a full length mirror on a closet door where all of us stood MANY times to get “pinned”. She would stack 10-12 straight pins in her mouth then get down on the ground and start pinning the hems and waists and sleeves up to where they needed to be. Most often everything was too long and big for us Ellis girls. We are all short. I was so upset that no dress ever fit me off the rack…..I WAS.

So many many times I stood in front of that mirror and picked apart my body for every flaw. I hated being “too short” having “no boobs” and a long face and skinny arms. I would complain sometimes about it all. And Nanny would give my leg a “love tap” or say “oh don’t be silly you look great”. She never fed my ego. She wasn’t one to GUSH and be wordy. To her it was a fact. And she stated it as if it was. “Dont be ridiculous, you are perfect”. It’s as if it wasn’t an opinion when she said it. And you believed it. Of course I am perfect. Its the dress thats off. And Nanny will fix that. She’ll make the dress fit me perfectly. And she always did.
I didn’t realize what a gift she was giving me then. Too young. Too dumb. Too self absorbed. The gift of self esteem and love.
Today I went prom dress shopping with my almost 18 year old daughter. Its hard to even type that. All of those people who told me when they were 5 and 6 and 7 years old to just enjoy every second were right. I hated those people at the time. Messy house, play dough on the walls, refusing to sleep, teething, homework fights, lack of sleep, lack of a life, bags under my eyes, wishing time would pass. And then it did. And here I am. And here she is. She put that first dress on today and walked out to stand in front of the huge mirrors in the store and I had to catch my breath.  I know every Mom thinks their kid is gorgeous. But mine is gorgeous inside and out. And its pretty cool.
And the straps on the dress she chose have to be adjusted a little (Ellis short torso). So for one tiny brief mili-second I thought “Nanny can do it”. And she could. She could and she would. If she were here. I squatted down to look at the bottom of the dress and had about a million flashbacks of Nanny squatting to pin my dresses. And I just kept telling Maddie how beautiful she looked and remembering that Nanny told me that too. And that it MATTERED that she told me that. It MATTERED that she told me I was smart and capable and beautiful. It mattered a lot.
Maybe this is why I get upset when people insult kids or the younger generations. What are you DOING to them, TEACHING them, INSTILLING in them when you speak of their ignorance or inability? That’s on US. Its on US.
I am unbelievably grateful for Nanny, that mirror, and that none of the dresses I ever bought fit me right. Thank GOD they didn’t fit me right. Thank God.
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HAPPY AVERAGE WANDERER

When I was younger I had what you’d call “time restricted focus” (better known as “look squirrel syndrome”). I’d watch the Olympics and decide I was going to be a track star, or a gymnast. So Id commit hard core to running, training, eating well, tumbling class and stretching. For 3 solid weeks. Then I was going to be a Psychologist like Bob Hartley on the Bob Newhart Show so I majored in Psychology with big plans to open a high rise office in Manhattan. Until Psych Stats came along. Wasn’t so gung ho then. I was going to be a drummer- yep- no shit. I looked into drum lessons, became obsessed with Tommy Lee, watched videos and technique and planned on an all chick band. Until I saw something shinier. Accepting that you are a wanderer, not particularly interested in becoming #1 at anything is hard to admit.

Being around some world class climbing this past weekend and some AMAZINGLY talented and skilled rock climbers kind of stirred some emotions in me. I would sit and listen to them discuss how they spend 4 days a week in the climbing gym, do tons of yoga and trek to the mountains every single weekend to perfect, fine tune, and advance their climbing. Jesus, I thought….Im a fucking lazy ass unfocused scatter brain. I don’t know that Ive ever felt 100% passionate about one particular thing and perfecting it in my entire life. Does that mean Im “goal-less”, have no purpose, no end game, no destination? Shit. Im 45. I better figure this shit out.
I even talked to Dude about it on the long hike back to the car after all weekend climbing and camping. I started thinking about my weekends. I’ve been to many high school football games to watch my kid cheer on the sidelines. Ive sat on soccer field bleachers so many times watching Andy play I can’t count. I’ve hiked amazing mountains with my girlfriends. I’ve tried snow shoeing on a Saturday. I went to Punta Cana and Cabo and Vegas and New Orleans and Nashville with friends on weekends. I laid on my couch and watched a marathon of “Cops” on a Saturday. I stood front row at a Zac Brown concert on a Saturday. I took my daughter shopping for a Homecoming dress on several Saturdays. I rode bikes with my son in the mountains one Saturday. I went zip lining on a weekend. I spent a weekend backpacking through Wyoming once on a weekend. I snuck off to a little bar and watched Charlie Robison play and had more vodka than I should’ve on a Saturday.
Ive spent Saturdays and Sundays at car shows, hiking, brunching at The Broadmoor, watching football, at a gay pride parade, at cheer competitions, at Beachbody events, at bars, at beaches, in the mountains, canoeing, paddle boarding, horse back riding, rafting the Grand Canyon, climbing Pikes Peak, at jump world on a trampoline, shopping in a mall, visiting my grandmother, drinking a beer in a cemetery with Dad, playing board games with my kids, sitting in lawn chairs with my Dad, watching an eclipse in a field, riding a shovel behind a horse, at a few crawfish boils, dressed in a tutu eating donuts at a “race” with my girlfriends, petting alpacas, touring Aspen, watching movies and reading in a hammock. And I don’t fucking regret one single bit of it.
I have a list of a bazillion things I still wanna do. So many things. And at the age of 45 I know my gypsy heart enough to know its really really really ok to not be exceptional at ONE thing. To have wanderlust and crave new adventures and new scenery and new. New. New. New. Different. I may be just AVERAGE at all of the things I do….but God Dammit- I do a LOT of things. And THAT is everything.
It has never EVER been about the end game, the goal, the destination…..it has ALWAYS been about the journey…..ALWAYS. And you get one, ONE fucking journey….make the most of it!
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121 More Miles & A Year

On April 28, 2017 my dear friend lost her 11 year old son, Carson. He took his own life. And I’ll never forget the call she made to me to tell me. There is nothing anyone will ever say to convince me there is something worse than losing a child. Their pain was unspeakable. And my helplessness felt overwhelming. He was 11. 11. And I couldn’t quite grasp it all. So I hiked. Forest Gump style. I decided to start walking through the mountains and trails here in Colorado. I hiked 11 miles a day for 11 days in a row. 121 miles. And I didn’t really know why.

 

I needed to get someone’s attention maybe. Shout out that its not ok. Walk for his Mom metaphorically when she couldn’t. I needed to hurt a little. Physically. I needed to think about my own personal life at that time and MANY hours a day alone on a trail allows for a lot of thinking. It was VERY VERY VERY hard. I had horrific blisters, hip pain that made me cry, cramps in my legs and it rained on me several days. But NOTHING I went through compared to what April, Jason and their other two sons have endured this past year. And will endure forever.

 

That stupid year mark is coming up. I can’t help but think of April. My heart hurts. And hiking yesterday alone I had a thought…….last year I hiked just to hike. 121 miles just to honor Carson. What if those miles actually made a difference? You know- Im all “thoughts and prayers are great but don’t actually do anything…..lets get some action.” So maybe I should put my money where my mouth is. Literally. And so the dumbest, scariest, greatest idea came to me…..

 

April & Jason created a non profit organization in Carson’s name to help other families grieving in the days just following a tragic loss as well as helping with resources to continue dealing with the tragedy for the rest of their lives. That non profit is called Carson’s Village and I’ll add the link at the bottom of this blog. Its a great resource and site that I hope you will never need.

 

Maybe my walk could have a purpose? Maybe my miles could raise some money that will actually go directly to Carson’s Village and help fund resources, presentations, counselors, funeral arrangements, pictures of your loved one, and other things these grieving families need during a time that they shouldn’t and can’t think of doing anything but grieving.

 

My Rheumatoid Arthritis says no. My 45 year old hips say no. My severe neck pain says no. My brain says no. I literally had a devil and angel on my shoulder hiking yesterday arguing over me doing this hike again. So obviously I came straight home and got in touch with April. And asked some questions. Im just that rebel ass that you can say no to all day long and Ill still do it. So…..thinking, planning, deciding which friends to recruit, planning for weather, massages, pain meds, new hiking shoes, and perhaps a body double. LOL. Im scared shitless. Im worried I can’t. My body is not tip top right now. 121 miles is a long fucking way…..but not nearly as far as the journey April is traveling. If you pray- please do. If you send good vibes- I need them. If you wanna push some good Karma my way- Id appreciate it. Decisions to be made.

More to come.

carsonsvillage.org

 

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ANDY

Before I gave birth to Maddie I had SEVERAL miscarriages. Several. Some pretty early on at 11 or 12 weeks. Some VERY late term. One at 20 weeks. Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss are pretty devastating. That’s an entirely different blog I guess. But when the doctors discovered I had a blood clotting disorder I was given blood thinners while pregnant with Maddie and had a healthy 7 pound 6 ounce baby girl. We thought we were done. Lucky enough to have a healthy baby I was content to have an only child. Blessed, grateful, relieved and happy to be a Mom.

Just after we celebrated Maddie’s 1st birthday I felt funny. I knew something was up. I took a pregnancy test and wow—pregnant! I sat in my bathroom floor and cried because I was tired. I wasn’t sleeping much with a 1 year old. And I knew that another miscarriage would do me in physically and emotionally. The doctor was great and started me on blood thinners immediately. I was pessimistic I have to admit. With my history I assumed another death would come and I’d mourn yet another child. Somehow 37 weeks passed and the doctor said “he’s a biggun’- we need to induce”. “WHAT?” I seriously could not believe I was going to have a second child. I had completely convinced myself you wouldn’t be born. That tragedy would come again.
Almost 20 hours of labor and trying my damnedest to get you out didn’t work. C-Section it was. And when I saw your big head and your 9 pound healthy body I knew a C-Section was the best decision. I also knew that sometimes we can plan and think we know how things will go and have a vision of what our life will look like and fate or God or whatever you believe in laughs and says “hold my beer”.
Andrew Ellis Nugent you were a HUGE surprise and blessing and have tested my patience, my wallet, my everything. You make me crazy at times. You taught me that we are not all round. We don’t all fit in the box. You can expect only the unexpected. And being your OWN person is a beautiful thing. You don’t do things the “normal” way. You are funny, creative, artistic, sarcastic, short tempered, opinionated and hard headed. You are smart. And you hug me. And that means a lot to me.
A lot of people told me to force you in regular school, punish you more, be stricter, medicate more, press harder……I knew. I knew in my heart what you really needed and what wouldn’t work. Im your Mom. And sometimes you don’t need to listen to all the crap. You need to listen to your heart. You are not your sister. Thank God. The world can’t handle two of her. She’s a hurricane with some sass and a lot of intelligence and so driven I don’t think a train could stop her. You are beautifully street smart and witty and quick. You have a heart thats HUGE. You are more quiet and unassuming (except for the sled down the stairs at school). And I love you.
You can do and be and create anything is this world that you want to. On your OWN time. In your OWN way. I hope Ive maybe taught you a few things. Maybe some of value and not just all the lyrics to “Straight Outta Compton”. But I know you have taught me more than I could’ve ever thought. That ride we took to the land recently, just you and me, it was cool. And the fact that you asked if you could bring your own music and play it made me happy. Then you played that music. And it was a newer rap artist of course. And he spoke of equality and fairness and mistreatment and how to overcome and you explained to me how you’d researched him and he had a tough childhood and had persevered and he fought against hatred and bigotry and prejudice with his words. And I cried. Under my sunglasses. Because there comes a point where a Mom who’s worried desperately for years and lost sleep because her “ADHD, misbehaved, aggressive kid” kept her wondering if he’d be ok, stops and realizes, on a back Colorado road, that he will be MORE than ok.
You are everything you need to be. You make me more proud than I can explain. Sprinting through school on the Honor Roll when you’re a brainiac who studies and has no obstacles is great, I guess. But compassion and kindness and street smarts and “getting it” in the face of some challenges and none of it coming easy….is absolutely beautiful. Happy 16th Andy. Im so lucky to have a son….and to be your Mom.
P.S. The sled prank was freaking hilarious 😉
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