Monday, February 25, 2013

welp, its monday

sometimes to get going on a monday is hard.

kind of like being two is hard.

or how ballet is hard.

here's a song to pick you up though...

We stumbled upon this band in a dive bar in Philly and it turns out they'll be in Pittsburgh this coming Saturday! Neil leans towards rock and I gravitate to blues... John the Conqueror is a great blend of both.

How wonderful that I can handle live music! And here's to the six days until that happens!

Any sleeper bands you love? Any songs you want to share for a rough monday morning?

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I must say I'm so excited for tonight's Oscars. Its my favorite of the awards shows and its always so much better when you have a group with which to judge everything.

With some chinese food and boxed wine (don't judge) and pj's and a filled in ballot, I will kick back and enjoy the show. My favorite parts are always the super excited people who win "lesser" awards (they show an unabashed joy and awe for the honor of winning). I also love the fun things people say on twitter. My least favorite parts are the musical numbers, both the forced one at the opening and the long instrumental ones throughout (during those parts I'll just zone out and eat cheese.)

I haven't seen nearly enough of the movies to have a strong opinion. In fact, with no other basis than "I'd like to hear her speech", I'll be cheering for J.Law. And for no other reason than "I liked the book", I'll root for Life of Pi or Les Mis.

If you're the kind of person that uses the winners to help decide which movies you'll put into your Netflix cue, here is a comprehensive guide to all the major movies. (it was written by my cousin Ryan who watched pretty much every single one - he is my number one authority on all things pop culture, so I trust his words.)

 Are you doing anything fun for the oscars? Did you see any great movies this year? Do you agree that there's no way Seth will do as well with the Oscars as Tina and Amy did with the Golden Globes? Why can't they just host every thing? In fact, I'd rather watch them giving commentary about the Oscars then view the actual show... lets make that happen!

Friday, February 22, 2013

6 Months!

Today is six whole months from my surgery! It feels like both a blink of an eye and an entire lifetime.

In that time I feel like life has catapulted forward. I went from struggling to walk a block to full on running. My most recent run was 5 miles at a 9:50 pace!

We got a dog that we love and adore. I have the ability to wake up in the morning and walk him, feed him, care for him. And our little over-attached shelter dog has finally become less anxious and more settled into life with us.

See how he no longer has to sit between my legs and the counter when I cook;
now he can handle laying an entire 2 feet away from me!

In that time I began volunteering and adding more to my schedule. When I'm watching a crying baby, I can take care of that baby. It doesn't compete with headaches. And each passing week I feel the things I've added are easier to accomplish, I have more energy, and I'm remembering what its like to get things done.

see... now we're unfazed by adorable crying babies.

In that time we took a weekend trip. Unlike any in the prior years, this one was so fully enjoyable. It was jam packed with activities (running, brunch, walking around town, fancy dinner, live music, late night speakeasy, etc, etc). Unlike all prior trips, I did not cry from pain. not during. not after. I was able to wake up on Monday and continue my week of activities. No bundle of days in bed paying the fun tax.



Of course the speakeasy had to be too dark to take a decent picture (otherwise you would see the hipster waiter and his suspenders)

Oh, and we have some very big news....another huge step was taken in these months. We began actively searching for a house, and just this week we found one! While things are still in the works, I feel confident that we'll be sharing pictures of our new home very soon! So what was once a dream is now a reality! (that's right -homeowners!!!!)

As for my health, things are going just beautifully...

My Headache
There are times where I have absolutely no pain in my head. (and it has yet to lose its wonder and amazement). Those times are more frequent and they last longer. When I do get a headache it has a different quality than my past head pain. When I do get a headache, I can handle it because I know it will end. I will get a break, if not today, tomorrow. That kind of hope (or rather, assurance) changes everything.

My Neck
I still feel quite achy in my neck and shoulders. Its worse in the morning and by afternoon I'm usually loosen up and don't have body pain (unless the freezing cold messes with me). I was told this is to be expected and honestly it improves with each passing week.

My Other Symptoms
I have seen a great difference in my other concussion symptoms. Its no big surprise that getting some sleep and relief from pain has helped my head feel more clear. I can access memories faster. I can block out background noise better. I can focus for longer periods of time. All of this makes me feel that a career in nursing can once again become an option for me (of course I'll still stay away from high stress areas like the emergency department)

So there you have the happy highlights from these last six months. I feel so blessed because I can dream about the next six, knowing that I'll feel well enough to make those dreams come true. I can say "we'll move into a home", and "I'll begin working" and it doesn't have that melancholy distant feeling of "if only" - its very real. In every way, I have a future again (and the present is pretty great as well).

I can't thank you enough for all of your continued support and love and kindness and prayers. These days its gratitude, and not pain, that brings tears to my eyes.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Racing Forward

Yesterday I signed up for my 4th (FOURTH!) official race. That's four times I'll wake up on a weekend before its socially acceptable. That's four times I'll look over a course map and plan out my post run meal. That's four times I'll feel the thrill of meeting my goals despite all the difficult days to get there. That's four times I'll finish my distance without crying in pain. I'm ready to go!

Just in case you want to huff and puff along with us, here's the breakdown. (I mean it, join us and register! its such a thrill when you click "confirm")

March 9th in Pittsburgh, PA (North Park Boat House): "March Mad Dash 10M, 5M, and 5K" I'm running the 5K and Neil is doing the 5M. We ran this last year so I look forward to meeting up with friends and facing it again!

March 23rd in Louisville, KY: "Rodes City Run 10K" This little leg stretcher will be the perfect addition to a basketball watching marathon

May 5th in Pittsburgh, PA: "Dicks Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon" I get to be a part of the Marathon Relay with my wonderful group of book club girls. My leg of the race (6.1 miles) even ends at the bottom of my street! If Neil weren't running with me for moral support, I'd have him waiting for me with a coffee.

May 25th in Chicago, IL: "Soldier Field 10 Mile" We get to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our friend's restaurant openings on the same weekend we run along lake shore drive and finish on Soldier Field's 50 yard line (oh and we get to see little Theo, the coolest newborn in Chi City)!

We also have an exciting trip planned to Colorado in August for a wedding and we are scheming on ways to sneak over to West Virginia at some point. That would bump our 50 in 50 by 50 goal from 9 states to 13 states!

Its been so wonderful to lace up my sneakers and run these last two months... and that's just doing my little jaunts with the dog and training miles, imagine when I do a race again! I think I may be watering the seeds of an addiction here.

That confession aside, any one have any race suggestions? Are you running anything fun this year? What's your favorite Pittsburgh race? And seriously, I can't be the only one out there with open window browsers of 'running in the usa', 'google maps', 'ical' calender, and 'great US breweries' - while obsessively planning out trips. right? someone? anyone?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


People have a lot of mixed feelings about Valentines Day (according to an official poll of facebook messages), but I have to confess that I love it! I always have. My sister has the motto "in life, celebrate as many things as you can." So I go all in for holidays - flag day, arbor day, etc. I just want a reason to be happy.

This year is the first year Neil and I can't celebrate by watching Pitt play WVU (booo). But I have my lucky stars to thank because its also the year Die Hard 5 comes out! Hats off to my Dad's Christmas gift - a movie gift card for this purpose. What foresight and knowledge of my loves! (he even got us a gift card for the restaurant across the street - to make our valentines day complete!)
Yippie Ki V-Day!!

So if this is not a joyful day for you, maybe you have a chocolate allergy and a blah girlfriend, I understand and you're not alone.

In fact, here's our bracket club series results for the top 64 break-up songs - even if we all dislike the fact that Phil Collins didn't win.

*Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt's first wife and mother died on the same day, in the same house, on Feb 14th 1884?!?* So I'll also add, it could be worse.

There's a lot of love out there - romantic and otherwise - so maybe its a great day to dig deep and share it. Considering all the people that have been so amazing to me this year, my list of Valentines is just endless. I love you all quite a lot.
Its true.

I didn't get things together to send personal cards but please accept the following as tokens of my adoration (and thanks to the facebook friends that post links I can shamelessly reuse)...

As always, Puritan humor cracks me up

These kid's honest valentines are even funnier.

Of course I can't forget to say "a Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day to us all!"

My personal favorite (Go Pens!)...

and here's the best one from last year. Love Yinz!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I grew up catholic and respectfully moved towards another church in my adult life. I still like a catholic mass now and again. I still love me a good fish fry. I still do something for lent. Maybe I'm double dipping my faith, but it makes sense to me.

Most years I try to add something beneficial to the 40 days, instead of giving something up. This year I have more time and more energy, so I chose several things...

1. Give up dessert. I don't eat a TON of sweets, but I do what I can. This seems as good a time as any exercise a little will power. Of course, with that in mind, I reveled in an all ice cream dinner last night.

What up Fat Tuesday!

2. Run (at least) a mile a day. There's a dedicated group of people who've long been a member of the RAMAD club. I'm just hoping on board for 40 days. I figure if I can enjoy going out even in the icy blistering cold, I can lace up through spring.

3. Read a chapter of the bible every day. Of all the things I do through my day that express my faith, this is one I let slip. Can't say why that's the case, but I can feel certain that this will end up being much less of a chore or check list and much more of a blessing.

As I run, as I read, and as I practice some restraint - I hope to keep my focus on what lent is about. I hope to hone in on the aspect of "self-examination and self-denial in preparation for Easter."

Do you do anything for lent? Have you found any great benefit from this practice in the past? My wonderful cousin once hand wrote a letter a day for the entirety of lent. Isn't that just wonderful? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

unexpected joys

I could tell you a whole list of all the things in life that get better when you don't have constant pain. If I think about it, everything, absolutely everything has improved. However, lately I've found myself reveling in a few small unexpected joys....

I used to dread getting into the shower. Something about the heat and steam and standing in place with my eyes closed that would make me feel terrible. I'd often get so woozy I'd have to sit down mid-way and get my bearings. NOW I don't get that sick, dizzy feeling. I can hop in and out quickly, or I can go for long and leisurely. Plus, I can get ready with plenty of time since I don't need to lay down in a bathrobe afterwards. So fear not for how dirty I used to be, I'm squeaky clean these days.

I would always be able to somewhat prep myself for fun weekends, but I was never prepared for how I'd feel when I got home. I would crash and crash hard. I would need four days to recover from one great night. I would come home from a trip and not get out of bed for a looong time, leaving tasks undone for weeks. NOW I have experienced the surprise delight in coming home from a action filled weekend, and unpacking immediately. Being able to walk in the door and face even the simplest task is such a vast improvement over crying in a dark room that I find I love it.

I used to wake up so very many times each night. I used to dread bedtime because I knew all the day's distractors would be gone and I'd just lay awake with my pain. I knew I'd somehow made it through a day and now I'd have to start all over again. Add to it, the background music to every bad night was my darling husband's snoring. Often he'd be so loud he'd wake himself up... then fall asleep, snoring again in under 2 minutes. How? How does he sleep so fast and easily?!?! It would drive me crazy! That was then, NOW I have two log sawing guys (yes, its true, Dixon snores), yet these days I'm not heavyhearted at bedtime. I lay down knowing I'll find sleep and wake up in the morning rested. So I curl up and listen to two sets of overlapping snores, and for some reason I love it. It gives me a sense of feeling grounded and at peace. I have the assurance that they are right there. And then I quickly drift to sleep.

Thats just the tip of the iceberg when it comes new surprising joys. Of course its easy to find new adoration for date nights and sporting events. Its a whole other sense of amazement to enjoy doing the dishes, waking up early on the weekend, running (even when its less than 10 degrees), grocery shopping, making coffee at the start my day, and sitting in traffic - just to name a few.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

a vacation day

Well, its been a minute since I've posted. Sorry for any delay (those of you faithful readers, still checking in) - I can gladly assure you, my silence has been because of only good things in my life.

A few weeks ago I had a decadent two hour lunch at a french cafe, Paris 66. I sipped coffee and nibbled at the bastille galette and typed Neil's book. On the heated terrace, with my macaroon dessert, I didn't feel any pain.

When I confessed to Neil how I spent my indulgent afternoon, he said "it sounds like for the first time in years you had a 'vacation day' not a 'sick day'!" He couldn't have been more accurate and I couldn't be happier to move into a new phase in my life. Sure some days (or just parts of days) still feel like sick days, but I'm changing up that ratio with each passing week.

Not wanting to squander good feelings, I've been filling my schedule to the max of what I can handle. I started volunteering with a hospice organization. I babysit my beautiful god daughter. I walk some dogs for a friend. I keep a running schedule with daily work outs. I even clean the house here and there. (I know that may seem the bare minimum to you go-getters, but it really is a great deal more than what I used to do)

By the time I'm home for the evening, have walked the dog, and worked on dinner, I'm so wiped I can't begin to think of a post. Wow, hear that friends, I sound like a normal busy american again! So as I find a balance between doing more and resting some, I hope to add "posting more" to my days.

Also (and I realize this is a silly excuse), sometimes I sit down in the recliner and Dixon hops into my lap and my computer is juuust out of reach. Of course, I can never bare to wake the spoiled pup.

oh distractions.... where was I?...

This weekend we head out on the mega bus to visit some dear friends. Its the first time in AGES that I look forward to a trip in its fullness. This is the first time in so very long that I don't need to juggle happiness at the expense of how it will make me hurt.

Its a true Vacation Weekend!

And on Monday, instead of crashing, I'll go back to keeping busy... and hopefully sharing pictures of our dog (whether you ask for them or not)