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I know I went dark around here, and for that I am sorry.  I used to think that being an open book was the key to being held accountable.  However, when it came down to making this particular life changing decision, I had to dig deep down inside of myself and only listen to the purest of my inner voices.  This is obviously a lot harder to do if you put yourself out there in such a way that you invite other’s voices to get mixed in with your own.  Although I had discussed it hundreds of times with various people, when it came time for me to make my final decision about having the gastric bypass, I did it alone.  I did not consult my greatest confidants, I didn’t ask anyone what they thought, and I did not announce it publicly.  Even though he was wildly supportive, even my husband wasn’t notified of my decision until I had already signed on the dotted line and worked out the details with my surgeon.  The bottom line was that I desperately needed to know who I was doing this for and why I was doing it.  I could afford no confusion if I wanted true success.

I was given a new birthday on August 13th, 2014 and It has been the quickest and most fun year of my life, no question. There have been so many firsts.  Even though you didn’t get to witness them all live and in person, I have plenty of insights and stories to share.  I can’t wait to tell you all about the ups and downs of my journey, and I cannot wait to tell you of the many more new experiences that I have yet to imagine.  In fact, my first post began writing itself even as I was trying to write this one. Let’s skip right to the point of this anniversary post, the progress photos.  Ironically, my last picture taken before surgery was the night of the first pre-season Green Bay game, and the anniversary of my surgery fell on the day of the first pre-season Green Bay game.  So, once again we have a Green Bay themed before and after shot, it was just plain destiny.  I think you might notice a minor costume change.


The Marathon

iPhone 4s 450This journey is a marathon, and not a race…right? So in this path to wellness, I have been learning some interesting things about myself. For instance, I used to think that I excel in a competitive environment, especially if that competition was a long shot. So I signed up for my first DietBet and committed to losing 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks. It was going so well, I signed up for a second one.

Before I knew it I was focused more on the DietBet than I was on the big picture, I lost sight of my goals, became stressed out, and sabotaged my weight loss. When I came face to face with losing not just $25 but a total of $75, I decided that it was a small price to pay to learn this about myself. I let go of the competitions and the stress that came along with them. In the end I was within a pound of winning and was totally ok with it and my decision to not participate in these types of competitions again.

I have also been really working toward my fitness goals since my embarrassing two hour completion of the 5k in Savannah. I decided to merge my latest fitness interests with my passion for fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and join the LLS Team in Training program. I will have to admit that I was a little terrified when I was signed up for the San Diego Half Marathon right off the bat. At first I embraced the fear because stepping outside of your comfort zone is a good thing, right? But, soon it became about how I was going to get away for one of the travel team’s half marathons, and less about my fitness. The stress got to me and my workouts started slipping.

It is a bitter pill for me to swallow to realize that I cannot easily get away for the West coast marathons, the locally endorsed ones are too soon for me to be ready, and the one that I can drive to and be ready for also falls on my daughter’s 8th birthday (preventing me from seeing her at all). I am constantly

looking for room on my plate but this particular goal just keeps rolling off the top and onto the floor. I cannot decide if San Diego is something I just have to make the time for “at any cost” or if it is a rational choice for me to choose a more functional plan. I know that I am the only one who can answer that, but I would love to hear feedback as I take the weekend to mindfully and carefully make this decision. I am certain that I can hear many of your voices and the words you want to say already anyway, so bring it on.

One might say that I have learned how to give up or not stick with things, but I beg to differ. I am learning what helps me stick to the most important things and what does not. I am not interested in giving up my big prize of a long and healthy life with my amazing family to win a bet. This determination will bring an understanding of where my boundaries must be…eventually. Until then, I guess I must get used to some trial and error without taking it as one more personal failure.

Love is in the air

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and I for one LOVE this holiday, but not in the traditional way.   While I truly adore my husband and our annual dinner and gift exchange, I use this holiday to show some love to the single most important person in my life….ME.

I started the tradition of purchasing something special for myself several years ago.  It was then that I realized that I am the only one responsible for me and my happiness.  I don’t look for extravagant gifts, but rather gifts that speak to my heart (and rarely make sense to anyone but me).  I am so excited to share this year’s genius Valentine to myself…a headband. 

photoThis is not just any headband, it is a Team in Training Headband from the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Now before you think I have totally fallen off my rocker, I couldn’t just buy a Team in Training headband and not be a member.  That would be like wearing Harley gear while riding a bicycle.  So in addition to the headband I also joined the Team in Training to raise money and awareness for our fight against blood cancer.  Specifically, I registered to raise some serious money and participate in the San Diego Rock and Roll Half Marathon in memory of my baby sis. 

My first Team training was Saturday morning and required me to get out of bed at 5:30am on my Saturday off.   Now remember that I am doing this TO myself and ON PURPOSE, even still I did not anticipate being ABLE to get my butt to Nashville for this training.  So you can imagine my surprise when I woke at 5:15, a full 15 minutes before my alarm was to go off.  I like to think that my sister was to blame, but I walked 3 miles anyway.

Now, here is the kicker, the reason why I am sharing this here…with you.  I am scared out of my mind, not sure I can raise the money, and not sure I can complete the half marathon.  I NEED you guys, and once again I am asking for your support in whatever way you can.  Please take a moment to checkout this video, take a peek at my fundraising page, and stay tuned to see how this Valentine’s gift works out for me. 




Laying here remembering Christmases past, I was reminded that this will be the 4th Christmas PCCd (Post Chelle’s Cancer diagnosis).  There have been some tough moments and there have been some good times too.  In fact, I decided to re-post something I wrote the Eve of my favorite Christmas.  This was Christmas 2010, the year I really knew how lucky I was…what a beautiful memory.


With so much doom and gloom this year, I had almost forgotten all of the wonderful blessings that we experienced throughout 2010. I was able to pull myself together to remember enough to send out a pretty chipper letter in my Christmas cards. However, tonight I really need to give a moment in the spotlight to the elephant in the room.

Last December, my sister, the youngest child in our family was diagnosed with Leukemia at 24 years old. To say that this was upsetting Holiday news would be a gross understatement. To know that a year ago she was separated from her two small boys and spent Christmas Eve and day alone in a hospital bed is beyond heartbreaking. This entire year has felt like decades in the Cancer battlefield, and we are all exhausted. She has undergone horrors that I cannot even begin to imagine. Her body has been ravaged by Chemo and Radiation, she has been separated from her boys for a year longer that any mother should, and her spirits have been pushed well beyond their limits. My family has pulled itself together similar to the fashion that our country did post 9/11; we are here, we are ok, but we will be forever changed. This season my sister, whose health will also remain forever changed, is doing much better. She is a long way from good, but she is better. We are anticipating an uneventful, and mostly healthy Christmas this year. It feels like I shouldn’t have said that, might jinx something.

Someone noticed last week that I seemed peaceful, (a very unusual state for me), and asked me what I was doing differently. I could not even begin to explain how much changed in my life just by having my sister, my brother, and my father safely arrive in Tennessee. Right now, I sit at Mom’s house, preparing for everyone’s arrival to celebrate Christmas together. Did you hear that? I am going to have all of my siblings under one roof, if only one more time. Last Christmas, I would have given everything/anything to even have hope that this would ever happen again. I wish I could convey how opposite from casual that statement is made.

So tonight, as I put out each cookie, pour each glass of punch, and watch each present be opened, I will not miss a single thing. I will take in every laugh, smile, and hug with everything that I am. See, I know now that each time could be our last, and not just because of my sister. We all have a limited life span, and we all need to remember how quickly the rules can change. I don’t know how long I will remember to cherish every moment with my siblings (heck, it may not even last the night), but for this moment I feel like the luckiest person in the world.

HE is Good!!

Merry CHRISTmas!!

The Intervention

You guys are just going to have to forgive me as I struggle with some intense emotions over the next couple of weeks.   With Christmas Eve being the first anniversary of my sister’s passing, I am almost daily encountering anniversaries of one aspect or another of her final days. 

Today was a big one! 

It was a year ago today that my Mom, Dad, and I staged an intervention of sorts.  Michelle was getting weaker, more confused, and was making some pretty scary mistakes.  We needed to convince her to slow down, let go of some of the control, and to let us worry about details while she worried about resting and living her last few days to the fullest. 

I remember feeling like I was talking to a toddler, only more like a person acting like a toddler that you expect to act like a semi-grown adult.  I remember getting so frustrated with her trying to understand what we were asking of her.  I remember her making lists…list after list of her trying to organize the information we had given her into something she could process. 

I remember being SO ANGRY!!

I also remember yelling at her…over and over…that she was going to die, that she wasn’t going to get better, that she needed to let us help her.  I remember my parents’ letting me drive the hard line, even for just that moment, and wondering if they thought I was the monster that I felt like.  How do you reconcile your guilt when you vividly remember screaming at a nearly dead girl that she was not going to survive this one?

I think I let out all of my anger over the situation and let her and her denial have it.  Even as I was screaming these horrible things at her, I remember it feeling good.  It didn’t feel good to yell at her, but it did feel good to  yell, to be angry, and to really shake my fists.  I also, remember the feeling of crushing failure, because the louder I got the more stubborn her denial proved to be. 

I am not sure I ever got the best of her denial, and I am not sure there was enough of her left to get her feelings hurt by my anger.  I am sure that I will never forget the feeling of screaming at her denial and knowing full well that I would never fully face my own. 

I didn’t allow myself to believe that I was going to sing her song for the last time, I never acknowledged the crushing reality that I was going to miss her smart ass, skinny, fingernail having self, and I never in my wildest dreams did I think she was capable of surrender.  She had defied all odds too many times for me to ever truly face the reality what was to come. 

Even still, on days like today, I am sure she hasn’t surrendered…that she hasn’t gone anywhere…and she still loves to pick a fight, (I swear to you that it was she who planted the fingernail reference above).  It is a year later and I am still in denial.  I still hope to sleep the hard days away, and I am still so very angry.  I guess I know where she learned how to be super stubborn with denial, but then again, I don’t think I hold exclusive rights to that claim. 

The Ghost of Binges Past

Today I wrote about binge eating over at Fitspiration, and I think I had just a little bit more about my own story to work out.  Although it is very therapeutic to talk about stuff like this, eating disorders are often misunderstood and carry with them an incredible amount of stigma.  I hope by exposing my shame in this way, someone else can feel less alone in his or her own battle. 



I can easily re-count for you my last half dozen binges, and if I tried very hard I could probably list each of the good binges of my entire life. Each was so memorable, if nothing else, because of the amount of time I dedicated myself to feeling angry, disappointed, scared, frustrated, and dreadfully ashamed of the incident. I think I want to share a couple of my earliest and/or most formative binges.

When I was in elementary school and my parents were still together, my food supply was pretty controlled.  I was allowed to eat and there was always plenty, but the kitchen was only open during meal or snack times.  I mentioned here that my weakness is deprivation, and this is where I believe it began.  When my parents were not around, I tried to fill up with whatever was available.  Of the things that became staples in my emotional eating, brown sugar by the spoonful, buttered and grilled bread (I still count Garlic Bread as being my single most favorite food), my parents’ hidden candy stashes, as well as anything bought in bulk.  At one point my brother and I became experts at melting mozzarella, and cooking pepperoni until it was crisp like bacon (…yummmm), because someone purchased 5 pound bags of each at the bulk store and stored them in our freezer.

Fast forward twenty some odd years, and you will find me in Savannah, celebrating an escape from daily life, and you will also find me eating myself sick, literally, all over that town.  I could swear there was an addictive drug in all of the food.  How could Savannah lettuce taste that much better than Murfreesboro lettuce???  The truth is that I had been depriving myself on the new diet, and was not willing to allow myself any breathing room on that trip.  That decision lasted precisely until the first meal was served and stayed gone until I crossed the Tennessee state line to come home. 

I have more good days than bad anymore.  I try to learn from each episode, to give me a little more armor to protect me from the next trigger.  I am not sure if I will ever be free of the eating disorders that plague me, but I am sure that I will not going to let them get the best of me.


This past weekend, my husband attended a family wedding and took my kids to visit his mother while I stayed behind and covered his shift with our family business. I knew this weekend was coming, and as sad as I was to miss the festivities I kind of looked forward to the solitude of a weekend spent alone. I do not know what to do with a quiet house but thought I could really use to time for reflection and introspection. Those are scary words, aren’t they? In fact, I have faced the “weekend alone” option a few times throughout our marriage, but circumstances have always provided a stay of execution at the last minute.

On the first night, I had a couple of friends take me to dinner and drinks.  A couple of hours later I was home and curled up in my favorite spot, my husband’s dent in our bed. I felt close to him and since I was both under the weather and very tired, I barely noticed the emptiness in my home. The next morning, when I eventually woke myself, the silence in my house was nearly suffocating. All day, I tried to balance out the facing of my fears with the desire to stay busy or gone. Eventually, I was going to have to come to terms with the unsettled mess of emotions I was experiencing, but apparently this was not that time. This was the time for me to drive myself crazy with insecurities and fears. At first I washed the sheets to keep me from just going to bed at 6:30, then I was angry at myself for washing my husband’s scent off of them.

The list of doubts raging through my head ran from “are they going to make it home?”, to “who’s bed is my husband in?” None of these fears are completely rational, but let me tell you that it takes every ounce of my brain to talk myself down off the ledge of that kind of doubt. Even now that they are all home and everything is fine, I still feel my heart beating out of my chest just thinking about the emptiness and terror I experienced this weekend. I have some work to do to get back to normal, and now that I have opened Pandora’s box I have a lot of work to do to figure out the source of this paralyzing vault of crazy. I only hope that this new touch of nutzo isn’t enough to make my husband leave me…on Christmas… with my best friend… and have my kids liking their new mommy better.

Empty Promises

In January I made a promise.  It was a promise to my friends (both online and in real life), to my family, and most of all to myself.  I promised to take the brevity of my sister’s time on earth, and learn from it.  I promised to make the most of the time that I have and stop killing myself with food.  So far it has been an empty promise, full of excuses and procrastination.

Last week, I went to my doctor’s office and signed up for their medical weight loss program.  I made the appointment for the following day, and started right there in the middle of the week.  There were no thoughts of this not being an ideal time, or starting on Monday.  There was only action. 

I have not weighed in, not even at home, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of my first week.  I did want to go ahead and jump back on the Mamavation Monday routine, and thought I would focus on a couple of the things I did right this week. 

My first non-scale victory was when my new nutritionist told me I could have a one week pass from exercise.  I didn’t even hesitate to decline that offer. She also told me to quit my diet soda, 100% cold turkey.  While I didn’t have a problem with any of the restrictions they were placing on me, I did have a mini panic attack when she broke this news.  I have quit soda before, and I know how it makes me feel.  I had no desire to feel that way again, but I promised to try.  Try I did.  I have been nursing the same nasty bottle of Diet Sunkist all week.  I keep leaving it the fridge in case I feel like I have to take a taste.  I also still have an emergency bottle in fridge at home, at my Locksmith office, and at the bank.  You know, in case there is a diet soda emergency.  There they sit, and I have had little desire to even have one.

Now, of all of the things I did right this week, I also found a major weakness.  I found that I stockpile my calories throughout the day.  I figured out that I am afraid I will be hungry and there will be no more calories for me to eat.  That is when I find myself at the end of the day with a fairly decent calorie deficit. I think I have figured out that if I plan dinner first, it allows me to know that I will be just fine for dinner.  That gives me enough comfort to knock that deficit in half.  Now if I could just learn how to snack. 


Last day with Chelle1

Do you see all of those smiles?  That is the last time I have seen everyone smiling at one time.  Sure, occasionally one slips through, but not since this day…the last good day, have I seen everyone cheesing like this. 

It was a long time before I found out there were even pictures of that day, and I was very emotional about getting my hands on them. That’s me over there being shot with silly string.  I was really not feeling well that day, and this was the last place I wanted to be.  If I had known what that day was…that those smiles, all of them, were going to be come so scarce…that this was going to be the last good day…I would have done it differently. 

This was a Sunday, and my sister and my mom had spent the whole day with my kids. After telling Mom that she had had the perfect day, Michelle teamed up with my oldest to coordinate a silly string attack.  I was my usual “easily un-impressed” self and within a few seconds my sister and daughter had turned against each other. That was when Michelle tripped and fell, and she went down HARD. 

Once we got her cleaned up, iced, and back to her perky self, she invited me to DQ so she could try my favorite blizzard, the Candy Cane Chill.  I was way overdue to head home and I passed.  My sister went to DQ and had her first and last Candy Cane Chill without me.

To say that I have regrets would be a gross understatement.  I knew my sister was on borrowed time, and I took her for granted anyway.  I wasted this perfect day, and even found myself wishing it away.  I don’t know how I will ever reconcile my guilt, shame, and regret from that day.  I don’t know how I will ever move through my grieving process, but I think some answers may be found while spending time with these pictures. 

The picture above is that last picture that my sister and I ever took.  It is a classic one, showing each of us in our natural roles.  She as the playful and annoying little sister and me as the more serious and less fun big sister.  God, she loved to drive me crazy.

The picture below is the last picture ever taken of my sister.  You know there has to be a last picture, right?  I guess everyone has one eventually.  I am so thankful her last pictures were on a good day, a day that she was content with.  I am also thankful for you and the chance to share them with you!


The last photo

We decided to take off for our Road Rally in our Chevy on Thursday night since we are both night owls and vehemently wanted to avoid an early morning while escaping.  We decided to leave middle Tennessee for New Orleans and just drive until we couldn’t anymore. 

While we are both NFL fans, we are not going to apologize for not knowing that there was an EPIC football game going on in Tuscaloosa that weekend.  In fact, it was THE game of the year, the second matchup between LSU and Alabama.  I was unaware of how ill-prepared I was to find a place to sleep. 

I used my fancy smart phone apps to find a hotel within the family that I am a member of.  I stood in their lobby, unassisted for twenty minutes before I decided to call their 1-800 number from the same lobby.  No such luck.  Not only were there no rooms at that hotel, but there are no rooms within 30 miles.  I fussed and poked at my fancy phone for an eternity, before it dawned on us that we had OnStar.  The nice folks at Chevy had told us it was there for us to try out when they dropped off the car for our Road Rally.

We giggled as we pushed the blue button and asked the operator for help.  I was confident that they would be unable to help me, as I had an iPhone and could do the same thing they can do.  Can’t you just hear the cockiness that the universe was practically required to destroy?  OnStar found us a hotel…within 5 miles…the weekend of the big game…and the cherry on the sundae…at the EXACT SAME hotel brand that had just told me there were no rooms.  OnStar plugged the hotel address into our navigation system and off we went.  They gave the attendant my name and when she welcomed me in she already had everything ready to go. 

As a Locksmith and a Locksmith’s wife, I am not really allowed to LOVE OnStar, but I sure did appreciate them a whole heck of a lot.  I may have even had a crush on them about the time my head was hitting the pillow that I never would have found without them. 

PS.  When we got up the next morning we took a swoop through Tuscaloosa, to take in the enormity of the remaining damage from the tornado that destroyed the town only six months prior.  We both knew someone who was in this storm, and our own town is still picking up the pieces of a tornado two years prior.  The intensity of the scenes we were seeing was not lost on us.  If we had not had Chevy as a Road Rally sponsor, or OnStar to help us find a place to sleep we would have never had this experience. 



PSS.  These guys made me promise I would put their mugs on the internet.  If they new who I was or where I write, they would probably have been wondering why I haven’t posted their picture.  Well, Tuscaloosa guys who I don’t know and who will never see this, I don’t break promises…



Disclaimer: General Motors is a really cool company that among other things makes great cars, believes in Moms, and values bloggers. I have been reminded about how much I am indebted to them a lot lately, and I was beginning to feel like it was a one-sided friendship. It then occurred to me that this does not have to be a one-sided relationship. Although I am not directly being compensated for this post, I have benefited from the companies generosity many times throughout our relationship. The thoughts and opinions in this post are true and genuine and independent of any benefit the company has or will offer.

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