Tag Archives: family

EMBRACING THE I DONT KNOWS & MOVING FORWARD

I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.

Admitting Im in a “transitional phase” (as the experts like to call it) is humbling, embarrassing, cathartic, cleansing, funny, and disappointing all at once. Im only 44 years old. Ill be 45 in a few months but I don’t think theres an actuall time stamp on when this shit happens to you. You can be 38. You can be 58. Its not exactly about an age but more about whats going on in your life. And whats going on in my life? Ha. Great question. Wish I had an answer for that. Since the age of I don’t even recall Ive pretty much had my shit together. I knew I wanted to be married, have a family, have a home, plant roots and be a Mom. In 24 months my oldest leaves for college. My youngest will be doing online school so it matters not where he lives. So it goes without saying I’ve given some thought to what this means.
For the first time in forever the NEXT place I go, live, stay, adventure….it wont matter how good the school district is or what the property values are or how far of a commute it is to work or school or grocery stores. It wont matter that a great preschool is nearby. It wont matter if its within 30 minutes of soccer fields or tumbling gyms or indoor bounce houses or any of that. ANY of that. It was so very difficult for me to become a Mom. I had MANY miscarriages. The one in the 5th month was the worst. And the most painful. I thought Id never get to be a Mom. So when I became one I was ecstatic and grateful and thought I’d found the identity I’d needed. Wanted. A name to call me- MOM. I have loved every damn second. The tantrums, diapers, potty training, first day of Kindergarten, sleepless nights, swim lessons, soccer games, all of it. All. Of. It. How crazy privileged I’ve been to get to do this parent thing. Some don’t get to.
There’s been a grieving in me for things that wont ever be. I wont ever live near my parents and they wont make every game my kid cheers at and there wont be weekly Sunday dinners with cousins and large family gatherings and accepting that has been hard. And sad. And cathartic. And DECIDING that I get to decide what life looks like now, whats normal, whats ok….took time.
I think we all go through this whole “transitional phase”. Maybe some just slide by it almost unnoticed. Maybe some don’t even blink at it. Maybe some are so happy to be getting on to the next phase of life that its a happy time. Maybe some are sad. Maybe some feel they are losing some purpose and identity as their kids leave. And maybe a few are like me- kind of flailing. Flapping their wings and trying to fly away while keeping one foot in the nest with the kids. Trying to figure out if this is what being “grown up” means. Trying to find what and who you are at this next phase.
Its a strange thing getting older. I feel more confident, sexy, smart, sure footed and calm than I ever did when I was actually younger and prettier and had less wrinkles and was rocking a pair of shorts. Maybe God gives you the nicer body and face when you’re younger to make up for the idiocy that engulfs your brain. I would NOT trade the things I know for the younger body. Not in a million years.
The type A in me wants to know what happens next. Where will I be? Where will I live? Who will be in my life? How will love look? Is it a cabin on a mountain, secluded, just me and the mountains to hike. An occasional trip to the local pub to grab a beer and a conversation. Will it be a little cottage on a beach and days spent running in the sand (ok walking) and a suntan and waves and walks into town for good food. Will it be a condo downtown near all the “stuff” and I can walk to coffee and shops and see people all the time. Honestly any of those sound amazing. As long as there’s no fences. NO FENCES. Not knowing is scary. Not having kids here all the time is scary. Not knowing what life holds is scary. But its also fucking amazing. So just like the day I became a Mom- scared shitless, not knowing what the hell was in front of me, how Id screw this kid up, how Id get through it all…..I get to look ahead at a new phase and be scared shitless….and excited..and anxious…and not know. So I’ll flap my wings a little, test them out, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll pray and I’ll dance in my socks and I’ll put one foot in front of the other…..because backwards is no place to go.
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CROOKED PATHS AND BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

Someone once told me I was doing it wrong. DOING IT WRONG. It doesn’t matter what “IT” was. I saw a quote that says “Just because someone is on a different path than you does not mean they are lost.” That person who told me I was doing it wrong….she was wrong. She was very wrong. I have made a million mistakes, some bad decisions, said some words I regretted, hurt some people I shouldn’t have, and all of it has me right here, right now. And there’s no place else Im supposed to be.

My High School reunion was pretty cool. I saw people I hadn’t seen in a long time. And I realized they have each taken a different path to where they are. Some married, some divorced, some widowed, some with kids, some with no kids. Some who had tackled alcoholism, abuse, heart break…and some dealing with Brain Rot. And you know what…not one of them is doing it wrong. We are all doing it exactly how we know how. Exactly how we can. Exactly they way that is best for us right now. And a bunch of years of stupid, immature, judgement fell away. Just like a robe that falls to the floor. And my shoulders felt light and I knew all that had ever happened to me, around me, was all exactly what brought me there. And the trip was worth the kind words I got from an old friend about how my blog had helped them.
I am not super proud of every decision I’ve ever made. But I think you get to an age where you reflect a lot and my best friend & I hiked yesterday and did some reflecting. I work with teenage girls and people with weight issues. Self esteem and self acceptance are hard to come by in those two groups of people. And for me…it might’ve been hard to come by for a long time. But time has a way of rolling some pretty cool people into your path. And Im reminded of a Cheryl Strayed quote (of course) “PUT YOURSELF IN THE WAY OF BEAUTY MORE OFTEN”. And instead of dodging the scary things, the new people, the new experiences…I choose now to stand and let all the beauty that can possibly be, roll right into me. And Ive learned to like me…just the way I am. All the good. All the bad. All the weird.
All paths aren’t straight. All rules aren’t meant to be followed. All destinations don’t have a one-way-only-to-get-there map. In fact…I now know that most of the fun and most of the lessons and most of the love happen OFF of the path, on the roads not on the map, in the way of beautiful people who have something to show you. Crooked paths are so much better than straight ones. You scoop up all the interesting when you venture off the path.
Feeling grateful today for this moment in my life where I can jump on a plane to Texas when I want to. Go hiking when I want to. Stop into a tattoo shop on a Monday afternoon and get a tattoo when I want to. Maybe the good moments don’t throw themselves at you- maybe you have to look really hard to see them…but man…its worth the effort to look.
Maybe I was lost. Maybe I am lost. But I tell ya what….lost and wandering is a much better place to be than on a straight path to the same place everyone else is going.
Stronger than yesterday.
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ALONE ON A MOUNTAIN

When I was 15 I had my first “boyfriend”. Then I had a boyfriend every year for the rest of my life. Before I met Patrick I spent some months alone. Going out with friends and to parties as a single girl. But other than those months there has been very little time since I was 15 that I did not have a boyfriend.

 

This past week was our Spring Break. What an amazing friend I have that let us use her family’s vacation house in the mountains, on a river for a few days. It was my idea of a dream. Hiking all day, beer at night, quiet, peaceful views of a full moon. And a lot of alone time on a mountain.
I think I always had a boyfriend because I thought being alone wasn’t ok. Or maybe I was insecure. Or unsure enough of myself. That I “needed” another person to confirm that I was worthy or lovable or whatever. I know there’s a lot of psycho-babble crap that applies. Im not sure I really liked myself all that much. I guess we all struggle with our self esteem. At least I did. Ive said this before but dear God I love my 40’s so much more than my 20’s or 30’s. I told my Mom yesterday before she left to go back to Dallas that I am happier now than I think I’ve ever been. Then I took the long way home from the airport. And turned the radio up very loudly and drove. Just drove. Alone.
There are not enough words on the planet for how much I miss my Dad. And how much I miss my Grandfathers. And how much I miss the guy I married. Lots of men gone. Or going. When Patrick & I first married we lived in Austin and hiked and biked every single weekend. We were very active. He did some biathlons and lots of bike races and we went to the gym a lot. I loved having a partner that enjoyed the same things I did. He is not that guy anymore. He is different. I love that he has a trike and can get out there on his own or with me chasing him on a 2 wheeler and do his thing. Have some freedom. But it is different. And I look at couples and sometimes get sad. Or hope they realize life is not promised.
It is the strangest thing to grieve someone when they are still alive. Your physical body is so much a part of who you are on this Earth that as it changes and fails you there is a grief. A loss. I remember when I realized I’ll never hike with my husband again. I’ll never climb a mountain with him. Ill never go mountain biking with him. Ill never do a lot of things we used to do. And even though you know Brain Rot will take those things it is still shocking how fast it all happens. It makes me sad. I rarely hike alone. I have a posse. My girls, my sisterhood of women is unbelievable. I cannot imagine life without them. I don’t know how a woman doesn’t have other women in her life. How lonely. I’ve always said…if a girl doesn’t have some seriously loyal friends, and I mean the kind that would bury the body and never tell, then she’s not the kind of girl I’d be friends with. I’ve buried some bodies. With some sisters. And it will die with me.
So I am so grateful for those hiking partners and friends and women and trouble makers. But I’ve never really REALLY hiked alone. I even took a partner up Pikes Peak. So this past week at the vacation house I decided I was going to go on a real hike alone. And let me clarify. I get the feeling some people think “hike” is synonymous with “walk”…. IT. IS. NOT. I ascend 2,000 feet in elevation at times, scurrying and bustling over large boulders on edges of cliffs. I am ready for mountain lions. I am at times lost. I lose the trail at times. I HIKE.
I took a long hike one day this past week. Alone. I got lost. I bouldered. I crossed the Arkansas River. I got scared. I lost the trail. I sat and had a cry. Then I got up and kept going. When I wrote about my climb up Pikes Peak last summer I wrote that instead of “finding” whatever I thought I was looking for on that mountain that I “left” some things instead. Things I needed to leave. Well. I think maybe I found some things on my Spring Break solo hike. I found out Im really strong. I found out I never “needed” a boy. I found out I like myself. I found out I will be ok. I. Will. Be Ok. Sad things are ahead. But I can hike alone. I can survive alone. I can do “alone”. I don’t want to. I didn’t want to lose my hiking partner, my biking partner, my security. But sometimes we don’t get the things we want. And falling down in the middle of a mountain to cry about it is ok. It is ok. As long as you eventually stand up. And keep moving. And I came out at the end of the trail, the hike, the bottom of the mountain, stronger than when I started the ascent. I went up that mountain alone. I came down that mountain alone. And I’ll do it again.
I wouldn’t change things about my early life. But I would certainly tell that girl how incredibly capable and strong she will be some day. And that she CAN. She can do it. When you can be alone with yourself, no one around, no one to share the moment or the view or the scenery or the feeling with and still be genuinely happy, genuinely filled with joy, contentment and PEACE….you have learned to live.
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NO PLAN B

There was a girl who never left the sidewalk. There was a girl who never colored outside of the lines. There was a girl who stood on the sidelines while others jumped. And judged them. I could’ve fallen off the curb, gotten a bad grade for the bad coloring, gotten hurt because I didn’t know what was over the cliff if I jumped. She was cautious and timid and nervous and anxious and sad. I don’t miss her.

Ive written about this before- Im sure I have. But I’m not going to go back through my blogs to see if I have because I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. When I want to write, I write. Whatever comes out. I promised myself that years ago when I started this blog…NO EDITING.
I am aware that my lack of schedule, lack of planning, lack of organization drives some people crazy…especially my Beachbody Team. God Bless them. Without Lori, Traci, Amy and a few others I’d forget my head. Grateful for amazing friends that compliment my craziness. When I decided to become a Beachbody Coach two years ago I made a DECISION. There will be NO PLAN B. My husband has brain rot. I don’t know how long he’ll be able to work. Or walk. Or talk. And there’s something about looking at your kids in the eyes and knowing…I AM THEIR FUTURE. IT IS UP TO ME…that gets your motor spinning and your pride thrown out the window. Balls to the wall or nothing at all. And that is how it has been for the most part. There are days…Lord there are days I curl up, cry, climb a mountain and want to never come down. But I do. I always do. When you’re a Mom you just don’t have a choice. And I don’t have a Plan B.
Years. YEARS I spent poo-pooing this whole “scam” of marketing and “selling” to your friends. I guess I just didn’t understand what it all was. I know I didn’t. Plus I was afraid. I have worked out to Tony Horton since 2008. I could’ve joined this Coaching gig 9 years ago. If I’d been braver. If I’d been less skeptical. If I hadn’t been afraid of taking leaps of faith. Could I kick myself for that? Yes. BUT. It has all worked out exactly how it was supposed to. A passion for fitness and helping others get & stay fit help motivate me. And the people I work with….not co-workers…FAMILY. They motivate me as well.
I spent last weekend being spoiled in Los Angeles by a company that TRULY cares about the health of this country. That knows there is no magic pill or shake or anything else that will make you healthy. Its hard work. Its getting off of your ass, moving more, eating less, and eating well. Thats it. Thats your magic pill. And I can get behind that 100%.
Now in 3 days my upline coach is treating me and a few other coaches to a weekend in Cabo San Lucas. Holy WHAT? For doing my job. I honestly think I might be dreaming some days. Unorganized, forgetful, technically challenged me…who would’ve thought it? You know who? ME!! Because I decided. I decided to jump before checking. Leap before looking. Stop worrying about the details. No one gives a shit if your pictures look perfect or your family looks all loving and sweet or your fitness is on point or if you have perfect wording or time things perfectly. No. One. Cares. You know what they care about- that you can relate to them. Thats it. I tell my coaches who are worried about making mistakes that they should be more worried about NOT making mistakes. Those that make no mistakes are never going to succeed. I make a 1,000 mistakes a day. And I own them. And love them. And learn from them.
I am absolutely no one special. No one who knows anything more than anyone else. So giving advice is a bit over confident of me. But I will anyway. If there is anything Ive learned. Anything Ill teach my kids. They’ve watched this journey first hand you know…its DO NOT HAVE A PLAN B. If you have one, you’ll know its there. Its a safety net. Its a back up plan. I no longer believe in those. At all. I know I wouldn’t be where I am if I’d had a Plan B. It is so beautiful, so freeing, to walk through life NOT KNOWING whats ahead. No plan, no spreadsheets, no time limits, no having to answer to anyone else but ME. Life is way TOO SHORT for me to be making plans ;).
Balls to the wall or nothing at all!
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LEAP BEFORE LOOKING

Dear Maddie & Andy,

So there’s a few things adults were wrong about. Things they told me when I was young or things I heard. Quite a few things actually but I can’t name them all. A few stick out. And I tell you these things now. That may be wrong. Whatever….as we all know I long ago surrendered my “parent of the year” award. First of all…YOU WILL NEVER EVER USE ALGEBRA. Unless you become some sort of mathematician, teacher, or some career Im too dumb to know the title of…you. will. never. use. it. And trust me….if by some crazy, rare situation occurs that I cannot foresee right now in which you DO need Algebra…..you can google it.

Second…brussel sprouts are disgusting. They are NOT needed for survival, should never have been meant for human consumption and if someone claims to like them you should not hang around that person.
That saying…”sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”…..completely wrong and BACKWARDS. Physical wounds heal. Words hurt. Sometimes so deeply that they never heal. Choose your words carefully.
And most importantly….that saying “LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP”. OK this is where I may get hammered. The following opinion is just that…an opinion…MY opinion. Its taken 43 years to come to this conclusion so maybe you should take 43 years to make up your mind about it but I do want you to know what I’ve learned.
I looked before I lept for a LONG LONG time. In fact…I often looked so long that I never lept. I mulled things over, thought them through, weighed pros and cons of leaping, had panic attacks over what if I made the wrong decision and lept when I shouldn’t….years of this. Years of anxiety over not knowing what decision was right. Worries and concerns about the repercussions of the decision I’d make. What if the leap failed? What if what was on the other side was awful. Or scary. Or worse…what if I FELL? How embarrassing. What if I regretted the leap? What if I hurt somebody or made a mistake or…..lord have mercy what if the PLAN failed. You always needed a plan. A well- laid- out- plan. And spreadsheets and graphs and charts and reasons to and reasons not to….it all needed an order.
And then a motorcycle accident and then Brain Rot and then Hashimotos and all of a sudden the leaping part seemed so easy. How silly. Why in the hell had I wasted so much time on the safe side pondering the “what ifs”. Time….its a funny thing ya know. One day you are 17 making out in the backseat of your car (I hope  my Mom doesn’t read this) and worrying if your “cool jeans” are clean for the next day then BAM…you’re 43 with 2 teenage kids a husband with brain rot and a WHOOOOLLLE lot of responsibilities. Time flies. It. FLIES!!!
So Im telling you there is not time to stand on one side and ponder and wonder and think it through. Im telling you to JUMP. LEAP. LEAP before looking. I know its counter-intuitive. I know it goes agains all of your instincts. I know its scary. But it took me 43 years to realize that you will NEVER EVER regret leaping. You will only regret the time you spent on the safe side wondering……trust me. It may hurt, you may fall, you may get your heart broken, you may fail, you may be embarrassed…in fact I can almost guarantee ALLLLLL of these things. And good Lord I hope them for you. Those are things that life is made of. THOSE are the things that make a heart a HEART, a human a HUMAN, and fill your soul with character. I have no regrets…minus any hurt I may have caused others. I have no regrets about the leaps I DID take. It is VERY true that the only regrets in life you have are the chances you DIDN’T take. So take them all. You may move far away…that hurts my heart…you may date people I don’t approve of…I know that, I accept that…you may make decisions I don’t agree with…as it should be. Find yourself, jump, leap, stray…I will always and forever support that.
LEAP BEFORE LOOKING. Because for all of the scary, horrible, frightening possibilities that may lie on the other side….there just might be something way freaking cool too…and its worth the risk to find out.
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F you Monday

Did you ever have a Monday you just wanted to go back to bed. Curl up in a ball. Disappear?

I hate complaining. I hate complainers. I hate excuses. I’ve made no bones about that stuff. So this blog goes against everything I say I stand for. I wasn’t going to write this. Or at least not post it. We’ll see if I do. I think its important, though to share our struggle. To be honest. To let anyone who might be suffering out there know that they are not alone.

When Im stressed I hold it in my shoulders and neck. It doesn’t help that I have some cracked vertebrae in my neck that flare up once in awhile. So when stress is at an all-time high I can barely move my head. It hurts. Like SHIT. I still workout- because I need to and want to and it is what I do. I woke up today with tears rolling down my face the pain was so bad. But I wake up next to a dude who’s brain is shrinking. Complaining seems idiotic. And selfish.

My business is growing quickly. That is NOT a complaint. I could not be more thrilled with that. I am ecstatic. Its amazing and a blessing and Im so grateful. My “why” for doing this coaching thing isn’t just to “help other people get healthy”. Thats a big part of it. I love fitness and exercise and feeling great. But lets be honest- there’s good money to be made. And with Patrick’s very unknown work future I feel a serious obligation to my family to keep us financially secure. He makes very good money. I have not worked in years. I cannot express how grateful I am to him and to this situation for allowing me to be home with my kids all of those years. I am one lucky girl. So it feels so ungrateful to bitch about the pressure I feel when I know there’s single Moms out there that have been dealing with this for a LONG time. Who never had a supportive partner. But I can’t help but feel the pressure. Im sure my husband has felt this pressure to provide for 18 years. It’s my turn. And lets just say Im great at the “people and parties” part of this job. I love socializing, I love working with my team, I love working with people to find the appropriate fitness program and watching them succeed. The stupid ass taxes and administrative shit can kiss my ass. I don’t do “business stuff”. And now Im forced to. I know- poor poor me…business is doing well so I will deal. Its just me having a bitch session about the fact that I HATE dealing with numbers and taxes and accounting and crap. I went to a party college- and got a degree in Psychology because it required the least amount of math classes. And holy hell I need help because I don’t want to end up like Wesley Snipes and make a bunch of money then lose it because I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HELL IT IS! OK- rant over about that.

People are relying on me. My kids, my husband, my customers, my coaches, my team. I love that. But it is stressful. My husband has been VERY wobbly this past week. And his speech is worse. It seems to be progressing. I knew it would. But for some dumb reason I ignore it. I love the little world I love in called Denial. It serves it’s purpose. It keeps me sane. It helps my neck. It helps me continue functioning. But he’s getting worse. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And it fucking sucks. And 99% of the time Im ok and happy and embracing life and knowing each moment is precious and appreciating it. Today is a 1% day. Fuck you Brain Rot. And I want to call my Dad for help. He’d run here. He’d move here. He’d be here to help me. But I don’t have him. I have me. And when I Iook around for the grown-ups to FIX this. For the support of a more mature person. For a place to fall down and cry while someone else cleans it up I realize there is no one. Its ME. Im the grown up. Fuck.

I got some sweet messages from people about my video I posted on Facebook last week of me dancing in my driveway to my new CIZE workout. Very sweet. And some saying- “wow I could never look that good dancing” or “wow you’re in great shape I could never live up to that”. And I feel like some people get a picture of a perfect girl with a perfect life who’s thin and in shape and happy all the time. I want those people to know that there’s REAL shit in everyone’s life. I am thin. Born this way. Im the bitch who can workout twice and have muscles. I’ve never been overweight. I was too thin at one point due to severe IBS and stomach issues. I feel great now physically- Im healthier than I’ve ever been.. I can climb a mountain. My husband can’t.

And he texts me that the wobbliness is even worse today. And I have 500 things on my list for work to do. And I have 35 messages to return. And a new coach basics group to help run. And new coaches to train. And a kid to take to the orthodontist. And a light bulb to change. And dishes. And laundry. And a health check up for school athletics. And a workout to do and video and post. And so, so , so many other things. And all I really want to do is cry. And go to sleep.

And that is me bitching unnecessarily. Because I know that there are a million Moms, a million people out there who have it WAY worse than me. I get to travel. I have amazing friends. I have a nice house. A great family. An amazing “job”. And it all looks perfect. Perfectly perfect in that dance video. And maybe thats why someone WONT think they can get fit or find their healthy or “look like me while dancing” (good lord aim higher). Dont do that- dont think its all roses. I am one tough ass girl. I am strong willed and capable and I never give up! NEVER! I love my work and I will pour my soul into that. I love my family. I know how damn lucky I am. I don’t dance because my life is perfect. I dance INSPITE of the shit and BECAUSE it is so imperfect. Now Im going to have a cry. Then Im going to put on my big girl Nike Pros and kick this week’s ass. I hope you all do the same. Thanks for letting this girl bitch a little….or a LOT!

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BRAVE

I think when I was younger I just assumed I’d never leave Texas. I am a 5th generation Texan. Seriously- thats a LOT of years and a LOT of family born and raised there. There’s this sense of security and safety that comes from staying near family. From living where you are familiar. From knowing there are a 100 relatives within arms reach. Especially if your parents are there. And when Patrick & I bought our last house in Texas it was 2.5 miles from my parents house. I cannot express to the degree at which I was certain, CERTAIN it would remain that way.

No matter how old you get having your parents near is a very cool thing. Well….most of the time. We had built in babysitters when we needed them. And the thought that if I ever needed anything or had to “escape” or feel like a little girl again for just a bit-was supported by the fact that in 5 minutes I could be at their house. My parents’ house.

I had never lived outside of Texas. I was born and raised in North Dallas. I went to college in East Texas and Patrick & I lived in Austin for a few years before kids. That is as far as I had ventured…Austin. Damn cool city by the way. Although I don’t have an NRA card or know any farmers or have ever ridden a bull as all the stereotypes would assume- I am Texan through and through.

When my Dad was killed I was 33. My kids were 4 and 5. And my plan went to shit. How dare he die. How dare my ideal image of life go up in flames. God damn deer. It’s funny that a lot of people I know live what I’d call a “charmed life”. They do not know tragedy or loss or illness or any of that crap. And I would be lying if I didn’t have a tinge of jealousy over that. That ideal life is pretty cool.

When I left for college it was 3 hours from home. I cried. I was nervous and scared and I’d never lived in a dorm or away from home before. But as I’ve blogged about before my second Mom, Lynda, convinced me it would be the right thing. And she was so very right. Im so grateful for leaving home and learning and failing and falling and getting back up on my own. SO. GRATEFUL.

So my Dad died suddenly and Patrick got brain rot and my pretty little plan unraveled. And when your husband has brain rot and asks how you feel about leaving your home and heading for the mountains you pause a second and then remember Lynda saying “GO”. Because why not?

So up and moving your life across the country is quite normal for a lot of people. Military families do it all the time. They are better than me, though. And to this girl- moving to Colorado was HUGE. HUGE. And the honest truth is I had to have a conversation with myself about my future. If my husband is no longer around and my kids are off at college am I going to be OK in Colorado with no family? Alone? It’s just a question I had no choice but to ponder. I never considered myself all that strong or independent. I liked having family around, I liked having support, I didn’t like being alone or left to handle things on my own. But that was before. Before motorcycle accidents and brain rot. And that girl had to grow up.

In the days and weeks after Dad died I was sick to my stomach at the thought of my Mom alone in her house. I hated that for her and wondered how she was going to survive. Now I know I was an idiot- she is a very strong person. And so am I.

I cry and worry and get anxiety and hate brain rot and have my bad days. But I KNOW I am a tough girl. Unfortunately I watched my Mom be that. Fortunately I got that from her.

It’s funny the things you think about as your kids get older. Maddie starts High School in the Fall…Andy wont be far behind…God willing….and that means in 5 years it’s just Patrick & I. That is crazy to me. CRAZY. The time flew. And I know…I know and am acutely aware that it could be just me. Of course not one of us knows exactly the amount of time we have on Earth. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Im so grateful for the wisdom and strength and bravery and fortitude that was passed down to me that gave us the courage to move at the very time we probably should have stayed close to family. But life is short and opportunities arise at the strangest of times and if Im going to pass down to my kids the strength, the courage, the fortitude, the “why not” attitude….I needed to shit or get off the pot as my Grandad used to say. Actions speak loudly. I have embraced every part of Colorado. It has been the perfect place for my family. It is. Patrick is happy. My soul is happy and my kids are happy. Texas will ALWAYS be home. ALWAYS. But sometimes I think that fate or God or whatever you want to call it knows exactly where we are supposed to be at each turn in our lives. I am right where I am supposed to be.

My hat’s off to all the single parents out there, to all of our military families, to those who’ve lost loved ones, to the ones who have felt “all on their own”….YOU are the brave ones.

As I get older I realized that the things worth doing, the things you SHOULD do are the things that make you nervous and scared and anxious. If it doesn’t make you those things……is it really worth doing? Do scary things. You are braver than you think.

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF EASTER

I grew up a few miles from both sets of my grandparents. I had both parents in my house growing up. My parents stayed married. To each other. In fact I don’t think there was one divorce anywhere in my immediate or non-immediate family. I grew up in the middle class suburbs with two awesome parents and great neighbors and wanted for nothing. Norman Rockwell shit. Seriously.

Every Holiday we spent together. Both sets of grandparents and the occasional cousin or aunt or uncle and their family if they were in town. We had a “formal dining room”, You know…the one you are not allowed to go in. My Mom and grandmas made all of the big southern meals at Holidays. Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, there was always a house full of people and hot rolls and salad and ham and green bean casserole on the table. And very often football in the background….Cowboys of course. I loved all of that. We stuffed ourselves and then all fell asleep scattered like full-bellied bears across the floor, couch & Lazy Boy recliner. Papaw even snored sometimes.

I think I just assumed at the time that all families were this way. That every kid had this life. The security of food and a house and family. I knew I wanted that for my own family one day. I imagined living near my parents and having most Holidays spread out across a large formal dining room table and ham and rolls and kids running around and football.

And until my daughter was 5 I had that. We had that. Bikes and trikes in the driveway and music blaring through the garage and sometimes a picnic table in the garage to accommodate extra cousins or aunts or whomever showed up. Bliss. Happy. Crawfish boils were introduced to the mix once I introduced a Cajun boy into the mix. My Dad loved that. My Dad loved him. My parents had an acre of land and my Dad would take turns giving the kids rides on the riding lawn mower. In Texas you could wear shorts on Thanksgiving. We had a dirt bike that even I would drive around the property. I recall (kind of) tying rope and shovels to the back of the horses that the neighbor owned and riding the shovel while the horse would run full speed. OK just a tad WT here but whatever it was fun. And stupid. And fun.

And I think I just assumed it would always be that way. Living a few miles from my parents and always having them there. That my kids would have the same experience with there grandparents as I did. You know what they say about assuming though…

And shit happens. And Dad dies. And brain rot starts. And things change and worlds are turned upside down and inside out and good God its shitty and not fair. And you stop. And you decide you can cry and be sad forever and bitch about how NOTHING is the same and your life is not turning out like you expected and where the hell are all the Norman Rockwell paintings now? OR…..

You can change too. You can pick up your family and move across the country where you know NO ONE! NO ONE. And have no family. And you’ve never baked a ham in your life. And your house has no formal dining room. And you wake up on Easter morning and go shopping for clothes and hang out on your deck staring at the mountains because football is not on and you take your almost 15 year old daughter to learn to drive your Jeep with music blaring…and it ain’t so bad. Its NOT in anyway how you thought it would be. At all. And there are a few moments that is sad. And you get a group text from your brother in Dallas, your Mom in Washington, your sister in Austin…all saying Happy Easter. And maybe the table and the hot rolls and the physical proximity of them is not there….but the memories are. And instead of mourning what your kids WONT have you look around at them giggling in the parking lot trying not to drive into a pole and you think….”this is ok”.

New memories, new traditions, new acceptance, new stages of life. I still get sad at what might’ve been. But I don’t want to be so sad that I miss what IS!

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FOR LYNDA

Some of us are lucky enough to have an amazing Mom. A funny, well adjusted, sarcastic, intelligent, beautiful, wise, caring Mom. And some of us are lucky enough to have two.

When I was in 7th grade I met Wendy. We became very close friends and remained that way through High School- even cheering together for several years. Looking back now Im not quite sure why the heck she was friends with me. Wendy is a doctor now. And she married a guy thats some sort of fancy research neuro doctor guy. Wendy studied a lot. And made good grades. And good decisions. See- not sure why she hung with me…although I can be fun 🙂

One of the benefits of being Wendy’s friend is you also get Wendy’s Mom, Lynda. When I would spend the night at Wendy’s house (which was quite often) Lynda would make us fresh baked cookies and bring them to us in Wendy’s room with milk. WITH MILK! Now- I know some of you know my mom, Karen Ellis. Witty, funny, sarcastic, smart, a little type A…but COOKIES AND MILK? Not that kind of Mom. Love you Karen but your strengths lay elsewhere- as do mine. My kids know Im not a cookies and milk kind of Mom. And thats ok. My very matter of fact Mom explained the birds and the bees on my chalkboard with drawings of a uterus and “man parts” and the very scientific terms that accompanied them when I was 11 or 12. Im still scarred to this day. Yes these are the same parents who blared Led Zeppelin all through the house in my childhood. What can I say. Practically liberal they were! Love them for all of that.

But I’d never been around a Mom like Lynda. Cookies and milk and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS smiling. Always sweet and happy and in a good mood. She made the perfect Elementary School teacher. God Love her. I could tell my Mom anything. No matter what problem I had- and she’d immediately draft a solution on an excel spreadsheet and help implement said plan without a hitch…..Lynda- she’d hug you tight and tell you its all going to be ok. Lucky me to have two Moms in my life. My Mom and Lynda are very VERY close friends. Best friends now. Have been for years. Yin and Yang.

I got to be there the day Lynda married Glen. I was 16. I remember thinking how lucky they each were to have found each other. Glen is so super cool! I am so blessed and privileged to have been there for that. Sometimes fate gets it right with two people.

When I was 18 my senior year of high school I was trying to decide between going to the local university just 30 minutes from my house or the college 3 hours from home. I was scared of leaving home and really debated on what to do. And there was a boy. He was staying local. So there was that. Lynda was over at our house and we went outside (just the two of us) and sat on my front steps on Addington Drive and talked. Well- she talked, I listened (thank God). She talked about the importance of leaving home and spreading your wings and getting away from your parents and NEVER doing anything because of a boy. And she helped make a decision for me- to leave home- to go away to college. I will never be able to repay her for helping me to make that decision. She was RIGHT!

When I was 33 I got a call from my Mom that my Dad had been in a horrible accident in Colorado on his motorcycle. She immediately got on a plane and headed for Denver to be with him. I began frantically running around my house, making calls, trying to stay updated on his condition. There were so, so many people in my house that day that I can barely remember it all. I really do not remember who all was there. It felt so strange to not have my Mom or sister or brother with me. When the call came. I was laying in my bedroom floor curled into a fetal position screaming and crying and SHE was there. Holding me. And just hugging and rocking me. Like a Mom does for her child. In my Mom’s absence, in the moment I found out my Dad had passed…she was there. Thank you Lynda.

Every year since my Dad died Lynda (and my Mom’s other dear friend, Shirley) have spent my Mom and Dad’s anniversary weekend with my Mom. They go camping with her or out to dinner or to a hotel or wherever. So sweet of them to spend what would be an otherwise sad day making my Mom laugh and fall off of horses (inside joke) and surely getting her drunk on wine. The GREATEST thing I learned from Karen was to make incredible friends and CHERISH them. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends.

And now Lynda has cancer. And I told Wendy I’d keep this blog “clean”. And Im not sure how to do that. Because Im mad. Im pissed. Im angry. There are a lot of good people in this world. But NONE are better than Lynda. A heart of gold and the grace of an angel and the sweetest personality ever. I have no idea why crap happens to good people. I’ll never know that. I gave up trying to figure that out years ago. But Im still mad. I hate cancer. Cancer sucks. So does Brain Rot. And Hypothyroidism. And Hashimotos. And Parkinsons.

But I love life and Lynda and I want her to know publicly how amazing I think she is. What an amazing person she is. That she has been and continues to be such a positive influence on my life. I love you Lynda! Karen loves you too and I love you more for what you’ve done for my Mom. If I could I would kick cancer’s ass (sorry Wendy) all over the place. I’d annihilate it and never allow it to harm anyone again. Im praying and hoping and wishing and crossing my fingers and meditating and using all that I have in me to make that cancer go away. You are a fighter Lynda- always have been. Love you- now kick cancer’s HINEY! :)-

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BAD DAY

I write about brain rot quite often. I write about the fight. The will we have to find a cure. The lack of trials and funding and interest in such a rare disease. I know more about the cerebellum than any regular person should ever know. I know about every alternative treatment, oil, vitamin, exercise, acupuncture, diet and crazy voodoo spell there is..we’ve tried them all. I talk a lot about it. I laugh about it. I joke about it. I am proud of our strength…the strength of my little family as we navigate this shit. But I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the times its not so funny. The ugly truth of it.

I don’t want to. None of this will paint me in a very good light. I feel like a monster even thinking some of the things I think. So to write them down and admit them feels yucky. But…BUT….its the truth. Its the peeled back, naked, nasty real truth of this.

Patrick & I are attending the National Ataxia Foundation’s conference in 2 weeks. Its in Denver. Convenient. Its a 3 day symposium thingy with all kinds of doctors and nurses and researchers talking about the latest and greatest and newest news and research on Ataxia. And a room filled with hundreds of people with Ataxia and their spouses/families. Sounds like a fucking party to me. And to top off the weekend there is a dance. Yes you read that right…a god damned dance…for people with ATAXIA. For people with a disease that greatly affects balance and coordination. Don’t think I won’t have my iPhone set to video to tape this shit and put it on youtube. Yes. YES- I am aware of how horrible that is. I just don’t care.

Its so easy to judge other people. SO EASY. I do it all the time. We all do it- its human nature. And I know everyone handles things and situations differently. And I know I said “in sickness and in health” and I know only an asshole makes fun of brain rot. I am an asshole. I admit it. I can honestly say you have NO IDEA how you would feel or react to this if you have not been through it. And very few have. Its a rare disease. And dear God in Heaven I wish I could handle it with grace and sweetness and be that catering, doting wife that quietly fights and is grateful just for the moments we have together. I REALLY REALLY do. I hate that wife. I hate her because she has her shit together.

I write about this once a month or so. My friends ask about it now and then. Our parents visit sometimes and ask about any updates. And then they get to walk away. They get to go back to their lives of perfect balance and clear speech and normal-ness. I do not. We do not. We live it every single damn second. Every moment of every day of every week of every month it is there. It never EVER goes away. It slaps you in the face in the morning when you wake up. It weighs on your mind as you fall asleep. It affects absolutely every single fucking thing you do. Everything. And the ugliness is Im sick of it. Im tired of it. I want to run away sometimes. I want to scream and punch something. I want the guy I married back and its not fucking fair. None of this is fair.

And I sit in my car and wonder how far I could drive before anyone would notice me missing. And I don’t want to be solely responsible for him and our kids and our finances and the medical shit and my sanity and his happiness and keeping things “normal”. I just don’t. Im not equipped and I did not sign up for this bullshit. I can run up Pikes Peak and back down. I can. He can’t. I married a guy that could. He could run fast and bike and swim and did triathlons. He never smoked he ate well and was extremely healthy and fit so FUCK you fate or whatever bullshit gene went haywire and caused this. IT IS NOT FAIR.

So this is a bad day. He is far away on business. I am here. At home doing soccer practice and cheer practice and high school registration (good god) and running kids to school and picking up prescriptions and doing laundry and working and being resentful of it all and the fact that I may have to do it all alone someday. And I know Im an asshole for these thoughts and feelings. I also know Im HUMAN. I know its ok to have a bad day. A sad day. I know its ok to get angry…at him…at the world…at healthy people who take it for granted…at people who CHOOSE to be unhealthy. Its all OK. And even if its not oh well…its how I feel and I cannot change that. Theres a lot I can’t change and for a total control freak that is difficult. So I deal. I shut down, I shut people out, I cry, I laugh, I joke, I work, I exercise, I do whatever the hell I have to do to cope. And if you don’t understand that I got nuthin’ for ya. Except to say I wouldn’t wish this shit on my worst enemy.

I love my life. I love my family. I love my job. I love my friends. And I have bad days. Where its all about me and not about him. Where he may HAVE the shrinking brain but I feel like Im shrinking too. And I know that tomorrow will be better. Because it will. Because I will. I am a VERY strong, tough girl. I always have been. But strong girls have weak moments too. Thank you for letting me share mine. Thank you for letting me be openly human. I hope that maybe MAYBE maybe someone won’t feel as shitty about their raw thoughts if I share mine.

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