fall

It’s a beautiful Fall-ish morning here in Arkansas.  Birds are singing.  The temperature is a little cooler. Even if the trees are still forest green, the calendar says Autumn has arrived. For the last three months or so the thermometer has read “hot” or it’s going to be “freaking hot” today by 9 am.  I’ll take this little reprieve from the heat this morning and enjoy it.

So my dear friends, what do you enjoy in Autumn?  The following is a short list of  little pleasures I plan on enjoying during the coming month.

  • You probably guess this one already… cooler temperatures.  Yay!  I’ve heard all my life, “If the heat doesn’t get you the humidity will.”  Although this Summer wasn’t a scorcher as in years past, it was bloody well hot enough to make this girl appreciate air conditioning, and living in a modern age.1c44ec573cf32b667c07692f6fe40770
  • Football.  Even though the Sooners aren’t looking so great this season, it’s early yet and I love my team.  Norman seems so far away but, every Saturday when OU is playing at home, I remember and appreciate the long-held traditions associated with Oklahoma Football.  Can I get a Boomer Sooner? (I know my Mom will give me one.)

 

  • Halloween.  This is one of my favorite pleasures in life. The kids and I love Halloween.  It is my favorite holiday. C&E will have the house spooked out in no time.  In the past, there have been many a Halloween hayride and bonfire at the farm. These days we are doing things on a smaller scale, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the festivities.

 

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (PPS), well everything.  There’s latte’s, creamer, cookies and so much more to enjoy.  I hear there is even pumpkin pie to be had.  Ok, that was a lame joke, haha. I discovered the perfect PPS latte recipe using the Starbucks App.  I order on my phone for pick up a grande PPS latte with two pumps of flavor, light whip, coconut milk with two shots of espresso, hot.  It is divine.  Since I’m ordering it to go via the app, I can walk into the store, go right to the front of the line, ask for Holly’s order and right back out with my drink in hand.  Sweet.

d1fbf6a6d076e456354d294c571957fd

 

  • Leaves will start turning beautiful shades of yellow gold, orange and browns soon.  The display God puts on through them is stunning and is something I enjoy every year.

Fall is such a wonderful time of the year.  My hope is this small list of 5  will inspire you to get out and enjoy the season as much as possible.

Pansies, PPS Latte’,and Carmel Apples,

holly

the girls are gone…

The surgery is over. I’m home recuperating.  I said goodbye to my breasts on Wednesday. That is something no woman should ever have to do.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t give them a thought.  From the waist up I looked just like my brothers.  Things began to change for most girls, and I remember one day, while changing for athletics, a girl who was in need of a bra already proudly announcing next year we will all have to wear bras.  I didn’t exactly need a bra, but I began wearing one in fifth grade anyway.  I had no breasts.  At least the bra was slightly padded.  I suppose that could have been considered my first push up.

 

IMG_0087

about 5th grade

 

By the time high school rolled around I still was flat chested.  This was a source of frustration for me.  I joked that my people came from the high plains.  I consoled by self with the thought, at least I have a bootie and long legs.  Trust when I say I didn’t dwell on flat-chestedness much.  I wore my A cups proudly.  In college, I fell in love with my kids Dad and I remember feeling so beautiful on our wedding day.  Boobs or no boobs.

 

 

IMG_0802_2

fat girl boobs

 

You know the purpose of our breast is to feed our young.  Every other person has a set and honestly, there are men with breast as well.  The frustration I once felt over being small chested dissipated when I gave birth to my first child.  Overnight it seemed I went from the high plains to a D cup.  One of the best experiences of my life was being able to breast feed my children.  It was the one thing I could do for them that no one else could.  I cherish the memories of cradling my babes close to me while they nursed.  I made it fourteen months breastfeeding with each of my kids.  My breast had served a much greater purpose than filling out a bikini top.

I held on to some of the baby weight after my second child and as a result, I kept some breast tissue too.  At my heaviest weight, I wore a D cup.  Finally… I had cleavage.  I had a big butt and belly too.  I suppose you could say I was proportionate.  Butt, boobs, and belly. In 2014 I had gastric sleeve surgery to better my health.  Of course, I lost a lot of weight, 90 pounds.  I feel great. I went from a D to a C cup.  No biggie, I finally liked my breast. We I thought had finally made peace with each other.  Not too big, not to small and still kinda perky even after children.  Well done ladies.Then came the mammograms, biopsy, and diagnosis. My girls had betrayed me.  Damn it. Not cool trying to kill me, I mean come on.  So now after several years of an up and down relationship had to part ways.  Breasts, I had a party in your honor with some of my girlfriends there to wish you goodbye.  It was a good send off.

 

IMG_3177

gratuitous boob shot

 

I took the bandages away yesterday and saw my chest for the first time last night as I emptied the drains coming out from under my arms.  I cried. It looks like someone else’s body, not mine. Don’t get me, wrong dear friends,  I know how lucky I am.  I thank God for an excellent pathology report.  My surgeon got it all.  I don’t have to do chemo or radiation.  A true blessing.  I’m alive.  Another blessing.  I’ll get fake boobs (foobs).  The thing is I’ll never be the same.  The scars will always be there.  What can I do but go on? It’s not a matter of being strong.  Sometimes we just aren’t given a choice.  I have things to do.  Breast cancer isn’t on my list.  Well, after Wednesday, it really isn’t on my list.

 

IMG_4200

Evening after mastectomies. 

 

Time to recover.

Daisies, Coffee, and Chocolate,

holly

getting ready…

This past week went by quickly, but it also drug by.  I know it doesn’t make sense to me either.  There’s something about the waiting.  You should see my checklist of things I’ve done and of things still to do.  I’m less than a week out from surgery, and I’ve been trying to simplify things as much as possible for me and to help my temporary caregivers out.  Here are a few things I’ve done to prepare for the mastectomies, recovery, and why.

  1. I went to the resale shop and picked up a couple of loose button up men’s shirts.  Pullovers will be difficult to manage since I won’t be able to lift my arms much during the initial recovery.  I went with XL shirts to accommodate the bulk of the bandages.  Heck, I went with Oxford blue and pinstriped shirts to keep things classic. I’ll throw on some leggings and be good to go.
  2. Warm fuzzy socks, check.  Hospitals are cold.
  3. A friend gave me her Boppy pillow.  It’s a breastfeeding pillow.  I’ll be using it to rest my arms on while on the couch or propped up in bed.
  4. Since I’ll be sleeping on my back and not on my side, I ordered a pillow wedge.  I understand there is a lot of pressure on your chest.  Using a wedge should help.
  5. All beauty appointments have been taken care of.  No since having roots showing and my toes always must look nice.  I did ditch the color on my fingers, though.  A pulse oximeter has difficulty getting a read when nail polish is present. I got my legs waxed since it will be difficult to shave.
  6. I purchased a wand shower head to make things easier in the bath.  I need to get in installed.
  7. My house is clean, well it’s beyond clean.  Laundry is done but not put up.  Any volunteers to help me fold?
  8. My personal affairs have been put in order. It was different when I was married.  My husband would still be around if I died, but now I’m not taking chances.  No, I don’t think I’m going to die anytime soon.  I do feel better knowing it’s taken care of, though.
  9. The last thing I did was have a Boob Voyage party with my girlfriends on Friday evening.  It was a good night.  I needed some fun. It was a lively dinner with good friends and lots of laughter.

FullSizeRender

Have you ever been afraid you forgot something big and major when there’s a big event coming up?  That’s where I’m at right now.  Did I forget something with FMLA? To pay a bill? The list is endless in my mind.  If I had a thought bubble over my head it would contain a big check mark right now or the emoji face that looks disturbingly constipated.  Let’s end on that high note.  You can figure out which emoji I mean. Until next time…

Daisies, coffee, and chocolates,

holly

random at 0400…

Oh, the mind is a slippery slope at 0400, especially as I wait for June 1st to get here.  There are so many questions I have right now.  The main one being, “why?”.  The rest are muddled together after it.  My dreams are of cancer choking me.  I mean seriously black stuff comes out of my breast and wraps itself around my neck choking the life out of me.  It’s hard to sleep after you wake up from a dream like that.  The thing is, I’m not sick.  I don’t look like I have cancer.  I didn’t find a lump and seek out a doctor’s help.  I had an inconclusive mammogram followed by an abnormal one that was being done to get better views.  Then, of course, came the biopsy and results.  I know how fortunate I am that this was found early.  I thank God for early detection.  I thank him for my family’s support and my friends too.  I thank him for Liz, my dear Lizard, giving up sleep and her time to go with me to appointments, to be my second set of ears in case I miss something the doc says. I’m so grateful for her honest input on my treatment options. My mantra where cancer is concerned is, go aggressive or go home.

 

IMG_4085

my friend and advisor Liz

 

I am so thankful for the two weeks my older brother spent with me. We were not on the best of terms before his visit.  In fact, he was coming to see us but primarily to visit my parents.  They both came down with the honest to goodness flu and were pretty much out of commission for the first week of Erik’s visit.  Because of this Erik and Connor ended up staying with me. I was reading the China Study, a book on diet and diseases, before my brother’s arrival.  Erik had recommended it to me months ago because of my protein focused diet.  Anyway, I have made some changes to my diet, and because big bro already eats vegan, he spent time with me shopping and cooking.  It was much needed time, and it reminded me how much I love my brother.  He left on Monday, and I miss him already.  Butthead, just like him to pull a fast one and make his sister care. (lol)

1351947838517443

During this time of waiting life has continued around me as normal.  The world didn’t stop because I got cancer. (insert nervous laugh) I look around me with the same eyes, but I am seeing things a little more in focus.  I hear this about people with life changing events all the time.  I’ve had plenty of those in the last couple years, and I have made changes, and I feel like I’ve grown spiritually because of them.  Now, however, I’m seeing there isn’t always going to be time for everything.  No, I don’t think I’m going to die on the operating room table.  Please, as if. I think what I’m saying is this…if something in my life needs addressing, then I’d better see to it.  There’s no guarantee on getting a second or third chance.  Life isn’t about “do-overs”.  I don’t believe in reincarnation.  I believe in heaven, but it is so wonderful it’s hard to comprehend.  So for now, I’m making the life I have on Earth count. It’s what I know, so it’s what I’m working with.

At times, I am eat up with fear.  The “what if’s” get me.

I’m realizing the boy I’ve been seeing may not be the one for me.  He doesn’t have time for me or cancer.  That’s ok. He didn’t sign up for this.

I have a friend who just had surgery for cancer.  He and I have been friends since ninth grade.  I love him so.  He’s my third brother.  His words of frustration and encouragement at both of our current predicaments goes beyond what anyone else can say at this moment.  Our talks and visits are too brief but as anyone who knows me knows I can talk forever if on a subject I’m passionate about. John, I drug you into my blog.  I hope that is ok.

Tomorrow evening I’m have dinner with some of my girlfriends.  It’s a Boob Voyage party. No, I don’t feel like celebrating, but I do feel alive, and I want to spend some time with my friends before being confined for a while.  I’d planned to spend some time with my guy too, but he signed up to work this weekend.  I’m not getting my fun at the lake this year which sucks.  I’ll take some girl time and appreciate it, though.  This is a period in my life.  It’s not my whole life.  As long as I can find something to be grateful for everyday I’ll be ok.

everythingisgoingtobeOK

 

Daisies, coffee and, chocolate,

holly

words that start with the letter c…

“I’ve been considering words that start with the letter M,” said the Mad Hatter.  Today, I’ve been considering a word that starts with the letter C.  Cancer.  Specifically breast cancer.

Here are a few tidbits for you to digest.

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • This year 230,000 women will be diagnosed and 40,000 will die from breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

Risk factors include family history, smoking, gender, and ethnicity.  I’m female and I’m white.  I didn’t know this but white women have a slightly higher risk for developing breast cancer.  There’s no family history of breast cancer in my family and I don’t smoke so mark them off the list.  I’m over forty but according to the reading I’ve been doing risk increases when you are over fifty-five.

b3e691b145b94798174d2415c6fbce79

Here’s the scoop.  I am one of these women who has always gotten my yearly exams.  I get an annual check up with my family practitioner.  I go to my ob/gyn every year.  I got my baseline mammogram at 37 as recommended.  Since I turned forty I’ve gotten a yearly mammogram.  The only thing I’ve ever been told is I have dense breast and it makes reading the x-rays difficult. Not a big thing right?  A little over two weeks ago I went for my annual boob squeezing.  No problems.  No lumps or concerns.  Well, I was concerned about one thing, getting done quickly so I would make it to Zumba on time. (I made it, barely.) The following week incidentally while on my way to Zumba I got the call from my doctor’s office.  The nurse told me there were microcalcification clusters present in both breast and additional images were needed.  I freaked a little.  I went and saw my mom.  I had a week and a half to wait for the diagnostic views to be taken.  While I waited I spoke with friends and found out a lot of women have to have additional imaging of their breasts for various reasons.  It’s pretty common.  I calmed down.

Today was repeat mammo day.  I went in and after numerous attempts, the tech managed to get the pics the radiologist wanted.  It took forever, ok maybe an hour.  He wanted to talk to me.  Not a good sign I thought.  I went in, and on a large computer screen in the dark office, saw what the fuss is about.  On the blown up image there was a cluster of specks.  Tiny specks.  The radiologist explained that it may be nothing but it could be early breast cancer and it would be really recommended to check them out with a biopsy and MRI.  The main reason being this: they weren’t there on last year’s films.  Now I’m scheduled for the breast biopsy in the morning.

Most likely scenario. the biopsy will be benign.  That’s what I’m praying for although I know whatever these microcalcifications are, is already present in there.  God’s grace enter now, please.

This isn’t my usual blog post.  I’ve only been writing scholarly papers for the last two months.  They are quite boring for the most part.  I’m mentally exhausted and the thoughtfulness that writing brings out in me isn’t there tonight.  Please, dear readers, send prayers and chants.

Daisies, coffee and chocolate,

holly

the relationship girl….

 

I have been the relationship girl since, well basically all my life.  I always had a boyfriend in high school and during the college years.  Then I went from living in my parent’s home to my first marriage. There was a lapse of a few years between marriage one ending and the second one beginning.  I even spent a year, consciously not dating.  After #2 was over, there were only a few months before I met #3.  See what I mean…relationship girl.  What would happen if the relationship girl decided to give up the title and try something new? But what?

5e09e4c56e8bf5c563999bc9288ab5f2

Relationship Girl

In forty-four years, I never lived alone.  Granted the kids are here three days a week, but I am on my own more now than I have been in my entire life.  I’ll admit to being lonely and feeling lost for the first several months during this new chapter of my life.  I felt disconnected from my children in a way that is so hard to explain.  Even when they were here with me, I was still mourning the fact they weren’t here five days a week.  I couldn’t see that the quality of my time with them was just as valuable at the quantity. This paradigm shift was in my mind unsurmountable.  I was not the full-time hands-on mom I had always been, and I had no relationship to focus on either.  Maybe it’s time to explore being independent?

independent: (adj.): not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself

I like definitions, so I looked up independent.  Maybe I’m closer to being independent  than I thought.  Looking around my living room and my home in general and I see that it reflects my tastes. That is a move in the right direction.  No one influenced my choices here except my mom, whom I asked for her opinion on my sofa.  It’s funny to think back to even the most basic decisions made over the last twenty years.  I valued everyone else’s opinions more that I ever did my own.  Why did I do that?  Did I not trust myself?  Was I such a pleaser, that I looked for approval in every choice?  I don’t know the answer.  Just being aware of it makes me think about the bigger picture.

il_570xN.752227261_5j8m

College Girl

 

Did you know I started back to college in December?  Dear friends, even though I was having trouble with depression, I kept the promise to myself to further my education. See,  the decision was made back in June, during the time I had finally separated from #3 and before my house burned.  I remember how excited I was to share the news with my family during our vacation to Washington.  For several years, I’d been considering returning to school to pursue the BSN (Bachelors Science in Nursing) degree.  There was always a reason not to go back: the kids are too small, where will the money to pay for it come from, we are blending our family.  The list went on and on and I could have easily said because of the house, this isn’t the right time.  But, I asked myself this question, “If not now, then when?”  There is no perfect time or situation in life. Now was my answer.

The byline of this blog is… living life after the farm and on my own terms.  I think I’m starting to do that.

daec9f9b30b37e00ac1f3f4c5946a960

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last six months.

  • Being alone doesn’t equate to being lonely.  My company is better than fine. It’s ok, even normal to like spending meaningful time alone.
  • It is ok not to be in a relationship with someone.  I’m finding out who I am, not who he wants me to be. I was rather good at morphing into who I thought ‘he’ needed me to be. Now I’m focusing on who I want me to be.
  • Looking to social media for constant approval is a poor substitute for self-acceptance.  I enjoy my FB time and my Instagram feed, but they are just for fun.

This last thought I want to share is something that has been on my mind for the last several weeks.  Friends, I have shared so much of myself and my personal struggles over the last several months with you.  Life had become something overwhelming and unrecognizable, and it was too much to process alone.  That was why I turned to writing.  Thank you for listening to me.  Thank you for the comments and well wishes.  You all helped me through a very difficult chapter in my life.  As a result of it, I’m stronger.  I’m grounded and a point of personal change.  Not sure exactly where this will take me and the blog, but rest assured it is good.

IMG_3079

Independent Girl

 

daisies, coffee, and chocolates,

holly

 

 

 

 

break me…

Today at church I wanted to crawl under my chair and hide from the sermon.  I realize not everyone is a church goer but stay with me.  Craig, our preacher, was talking about praying to the Lord asking him to break you.  The idea is to take you to your limit and then go beyond what you can handle on your own.  Why?  Why would anyone ask for this? Well, so you can depend on God is the ultimate reason.  I was sitting there thinking, no way would I ever in a million years ask God to break me.

5d870bf5d723915daf37f6dade47fed1

About 20 years ago when Craig Groeschel started up Life Church someone he respected told him that along the way in building his ministry, God would break him.  The first year was rough trying to get a new church up and running.  Things go awry in any new endeavor, right?  Everytime Craig would encounter another setback he would call his friend and ask if he was broken yet.  His friend finally told him; there would be no question when he reached that point.  He would know it.  Finally, that time came.  Pastor Craig broke.  His story, it isn’t mine to tell, but you can access the sermon on the church’s website (life.church) under watch on demand.  So here is the kicker, and why I’m sharing it with you tonight…

When we are breaking. We fight it.  We try to keep it together. We keep on keeping on until we can’t anymore.  We finally reach that moment and break.

I felt and understood how God has already broken me.  As I sat in my chair (not under it), tears came along with the memories of the last year.  Every time some new drama would erupt I would tell myself, “I got this.” The women in my family are a lot like Scarlett O’Hara in a crisis.  We deal well. By August when things were settling down in my world, I was breathing easier.  Then the depression came.  The calm after the storm wasn’t the end.  I finally broke.  I could not longer carry the memories, guilt and shame of everything in the recent past. One night after crying for most of it, I gave up trying to deal.  I lay my burdens at the Lord’s feet.  Although November and December were the hardest ones I’ve ever known, I made it through because after giving my worries to God and didn’t take them back. For once, I didn’t take them back.  I relied on something bigger than myself. I trusted in someone bigger than anything I can comprehend. God saved me, not me.  He saved me.

I get the prayer. The idea of it scares me.  I’ve been broken.  I’m still mending, trusting and relying on someone bigger than me. He’s got this.

 

daisies, coffee and chocolate,

holly