Ahhh vacation! It's been 5 long years since I had a vacation that relaxing. It was perfect, and exactly what I needed when I needed i...

Ahhh vacation! It's been 5 long years since I had a vacation that relaxing. It was perfect, and exactly what I needed when I needed it most. I was honestly afraid of going because of how sick I've been. Thankfully, I finally started to feel a little better right before I left. And then wouldn't you know, relaxing helped me feel 100 times better! Stressing less is truly the answer for getting and staying in good health.

So our awesome trip started with a not-so-awesome beginning. We missed our first flight! It was an early morning flight so we tried cutting it close in the interest of sleep, and we cut it too close. Leaving late, a stop at the ATM, construction, and the then unknown-to-me fact that you have to check bags at least 1 hour before an international flight, meant that they would not even let us check our bags or try to make it to our gate. Lame town. Instead we spent our first day of vacation hanging out in the airport and flying to multiple cities, having an overnight layover, and finally making it to Belize a full day late. Luckily having to change all of our plans by a day didn't cost us much. Southwest never asked us for money for re-booking our flight (score!), the place we booked (we used Airbnb) was awesome enough to give us a refund for that night, and the tour we had scheduled hadn't asked for money in advance so they rescheduled for the next day without an problem. We quickly realized that this weird day was still mostly relaxing since everything worked out and we didn't have the kids with us! Whew! Huge thank yous to my amazing mother-in-law and our friend Lindsay who watched our kids for us and made it all possible!

So onto the rest of the trip and all the good stuff. We landed at the airport outside Belize City the afternoon of Sunday May 7th. We got through the tiny airport and customs without issue. We stepped outside to see the car rental place was exactly where they said they would be, a very short walk directly across the street. We even got the exact car we requested, a 4WD Jeep (you'll hear why later). And they exchanged some money for us for free! Don't waste your money paying to exchange it, most places you go in Belize will except U.S. dollars or Belize dollars (the exchange rate is always half of our dollar so super easy to remember). Just make sure you have small bills on you, no $50 or $100 U.S. bills as smaller businesses may not have enough cash to give you change. Then we checked our printed directions (no international phone bill for us, thank you very much), and headed out!

It didn't take much driving to realize everything we'd read about driving in Belize was totally true. The roads are terrible. Only the major roads are paved and even those are paved poorly with many, very large potholes, nobody follows any real traffic laws, there are very few posted speed limit signs, and even less marked road signs. There are random speed bumps in the highway, not all of which are clearly marked, and many will surprise you. They call them "sleeping policemen". Aha! Lucky for me, Brian loves that sort of chaos and he had a blast trying to drive like a local, except speeding. We never went over 55mph (the max speed limit) as we did not want to get pulled over. But we saw countless people hauling serious ass, even though we saw a surprising amount of police, considering how few people there are (population around 375,000).

It's a big part of the culture in Belize for people to hitch-hike. Cars and gas are super expensive (over $5 USD per gallon!) so not a lot of people have cars, and the public transportation system is not very good or offered everywhere. So mostly people walk, ride a bike, or hitch-hike! After not even an hour in the country, Brian made friends with some guys where we stopped to buy water and one guy asked for a ride a few miles down the road. He seemed cool, so we gave him one. He was super nice and we just talked about our kids and made small talk. Plus he lived in Crooked Tree which is in the midst of wildlife sanctuary. There were a ton of birds all over (hard to tell in the picture since they were far away, but every black or white spot you see is a bird). It was really beautiful. Since it was the end of the dry season, the water level of the lagoon was low, but during the wet season it rises over 7 feet and floods the road. They have to use a boat to get out! It was a great detour we wouldn't have taken otherwise.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
So after about an hour drive, we made it to Orange Walk town in Northern Belize. We got checked into our first ever Airbnb place, and simply loved the little house we had booked. Our hosts were super friendly and helpful, the place was clean, and the AC worked very well (it's frickin' hot in Belize dudes). Their yard even had mango trees! As you can imagine, they smell and look so much better than anything we've ever seen in a grocery store in the US. The town of Orange Walk is small but quite lively. It seemed everyone was very active at night. My guess was because that's the only time it's not sweltering hot. Sunday night dinner wasn't very good since the only places open were Chinese restaurants (yep, so weird). But breakfast the next morning was so great. One of our tour guides, Antonio (who happened to be next door neighbors to our hosts) took us to a little tiny restaurant a short walk away where we had Fry Jack's. It's like what we would call Indian Fry Bread, with refried beans, cheese, and shredded chicken in some sort of amazing sauce. I've been craving them ever since and will be attempting to make these bad boys very soon.

Our main purpose in this part of Belize was to see the nearby Mayan ruin called Lamanai. So we'd signed up for a tour with a company called Jungle River Tours. Antonio road with us to the dock where we joined a larger group. The tour included a boat ride down the New River, about an hour one-way to the ruins. It was filled with more birds than you can imagine, gorgeous views of the surrounding jungle, enormous termite nests, giant snake cacti, teeny tiny bats, and one adorable monkey. Antonio's brother, Hilberto, was our guide and he was very knowledgeable about all the plants and wildlife along the river.

Snack Cactus
This rehabilitated spider monkey is by himself and out of his natural environment,
so all the guides feed him bananas.
Brian even got to feed him!
The river suddenly gets miles wide right before you get to Lamanai
Once we arrived, they fed us lunch of more delicious homemade, local fare. Coconut rice & beans, chicken stew (Hilberto called it "mystery meat" as a joke, but it was actually really good), fried plantains, and a Belizean coca-cola. That's right, I drank a soda for the first time in about 4 years. I had no tea or coffee that day which meant I had a raging caffeine headache. So I had a sip of Brian's coke and was shocked! It was so delicious I drank a whole one myself. Must've been the fact that it was made with real, probably fresh, sugar (considering all the sugar cane we saw growing in Belize) instead of high-fructose corn syrup! Seriously, wish we had that version here in the US. During lunch we heard our first Howler monkeys of the trip. So glad we were with a guide to tell us what that scary ass sound was. Would have been truly terrifying to hear that for the first time if you were alone in the jungle!

Next was a quick pass through the small museum there and then a short walk through the jungle to Lamanai. We saw some Howler monkeys way up in the trees in a few places, but none of the pictures turned out well. They're good at blending. Hilberto reminded us all to not look up at the trees with our mouths open, especially when passing under monkeys, as they like to throw unwrapped snickers bars at tourists. 😆

It was monkey nap time
The first ruin I saw in person, and many others after as well, literally took my breath away. I had never been in the presence of anything that old before. It was truly awe-inspiring. We learned a ton of information about Lamanai and the Mayans in general. The most interesting thing was how little of the site (and all the sites we saw on our trip) have actually been excavated. As you walk around these places, you realize every mound you see, even every place you walk, has history underneath it. It's best to show you the rest with pictures instead of words.

Mask Temple
Close-up of one of the Masks
High Temple, 108ft tall
Panorama from High Temple
On top of High Temple
I don't like heights, but I forced myself to climb all the ruins.
Totally worth it
Jaguar Temple
Close-up of one of the Jaguar faces

Stay tuned for 3 more posts about the rest of our trip, coming soon!

Part 2: Beach Life in Sittee Point
Part 3: Caracol
Part 4: San Ignacio, Xunantunich, & Cahal Pech

Do you believe in the serious health effects caused by stress? Honestly, I didn't, not really. I never appreciated the truth. Even t...

Do you believe in the serious health effects caused by stress? Honestly, I didn't, not really. I never appreciated the truth. Even though we've been hearing our entire lives about the detrimental effects stress has on our bodies. That only happens to people that are super unhealthy, are workaholics, or have an incredibily stressful job. A simple, middle-class life shouldn't be stressful enough to affect my health...right?!

As it turns out, what you do for a living and how healthy you are, while they may be important, it's not nearly as important as how you handle stress. Some people can have very stressful jobs and manage to deal with it, without their bodies failing them. And others, not as fortunate, can have a relatively low-stress existence and still have that stress affect their health negatively.

I think it really comes down to the unnecessary stress that we create in our own lives. Unintentionally, of course, but still avoidable if we take care of ourselves. When we don't, we're left with a lot of stress. It's been awhile since I wrote on a self-love topic, and it is clearly way overdue. Writing about it regularly was a great way to keep it in the forefront of my mind. It really helped me make time for myself. As my focus wavered, my efforts disappeared and I am really feeling the consequences now. As I shared with you in my last post, I've been diagnosed with SIBO, a fun-filled gut imbalance. I think every article I've read on the subject talks about stress as a major culprit to either causing or worsening the condition. So obviously, this has me re-assessing my habits closely.

I create a ridiculous amount of stress in my life, for no reason. Just out of habit I guess. A result of being an over-achieving, perfectionist. It's okay that I want to do a good job at life. But I can't let everything stress me out. How about just the important things? It turns out, all the important things in life are my main sources of stress. This is probably true for many people. But do you ever realize that some of that stress can be avoided? I've spent the last several weeks trying to figure out why I get so stressed, and so physically affected by that stress. And I have come to an obvious, yet enlightening conclusion. I, constantly, set unrealistic expectations of myself.

I could greatly lower my stress level by respecting my limits and setting realistic goals instead. But my nature, for as long as I can recall, is to over-achieve. Work, family, my health...there are few exceptions. With work, when faced with a choice between failing to reach a goal or deadline, and keeping a work-life balance, I often choose the path of the workaholic. I've been struggling with this throughout my career, but made a considerable effort in the past year to find that work-life balance. Once I did, I quickly realized how much healthier of a life that truly is. Does it mean I won't be as good at my job as I would've otherwise? Possibly. Or maybe not, as I see being well-rounded as a real benefit in life. And taking breaks when I need them will likely make me better at what I do. I will be approaching work with a fresh mind instead of an over-worked one. Any programmer, and probably many other professions, will tell you the all-too-familiar story of how they were beating their heads against a wall for hours on a problem and simply could not figure it out. They took a break, came back to it rested and fresh, and figured it out in the first 5 minutes.

My recent health issues have left me more than a little frustrated and puzzled about what being healthy truly means. I spent so much of my life focused and diet and exercise, which more often than not became an unhealthy obsession that often left me stressed, injured, and physically and mentally ill. How ironic that I would care too much about my health, inadvertently causing myself stress and making it worse? It's truly a twisted cycle that's difficult to break. But I feel things starting to shift in my mind. The realization that my focus has been in all the wrong places.

My focus should be more on reducing my stress than on striving for perfection. I know perfection is a myth anyway. In reality, there is always someone better and someone worse than you at everything. So perfection really doesn't matter. What does matter to me is that I try my best, but that should include my best at taking care of myself. And that means, some things need to change.

• Work can never take priority over my health or my family.

• Eating healthy isn't as important as eating enough, and enjoying what I eat.

• Exercise is wonderful, but should never been done excessively, or create guilt when life gets in the way.

• Getting enough sleep is probably the most important thing I can do for myself right now.

• Spending adequate time with my family, even when I'm sick and depressed, is important to mine and their well-beings. It's ok that they all, even my kids, see me like that. There's no reason for me to be ashamed of being physically or mentally ill.

• Showing gratitude and appreciation for all the good things in my life should never be neglected.

• Respecting that my limits may be different than someone else's. We too often compare ourselves to others, and think things like "well if they can handle it, I can!" But how silly is that? Very. Everyone is different. Comparisons do not help.

• Feeling guilty over being sick and depressed isn't doing me any favors. Time to let it go.

What about you, my dear reader? Have you realized you also inadvertently allow stress to creep into your life? How do you manage it?

Well folks, here we are. 1 year and 4 months since I started my elimination diet. And finally, FINALLY, there is an end in sight. I'...

Well folks, here we are. 1 year and 4 months since I started my elimination diet. And finally, FINALLY, there is an end in sight. I've been on a very rough ride through a lot of this past year, but the past couple months were just the cherry on top of a that mound of shit of a year. To sum it up quick for you, it got to the point where it didn't matter what I ate, I was still getting sick. I'll spare you the details and just say it's basically felt like I've had a stomach flu almost every month this past year.

When you're sick while on a mostly plant-based diet, it's hard to believe any illness is still diet related. And being sick so much, and frustrated that I couldn't figure it out, was understandably stressing me out. This made all the normal stress in life, family, work, etc., seem so much worse than it was. I had a hard time focusing, on anything, let alone being mindful. I avoided most social events since I was depressed and unable to eat much. I had zero energy. I felt myself slipping into a pit of despair. I started to feel that old, familiar, soul-sucking bitch called anorexia rear its emaciated head.

Asking a recovered anorexic to diet is like asking a recovered drug addict to do their drug of choice again. It's not right, it's not fair, and it's not healthy. I believed myself to be beyond this, beyond temptation, beyond "in recovery" to fully recovered. I didn't think I was capable of being anorexic again. And I'm not. Orthorexic is probably the correct term now. But it doesn't matter what you call it (because fuck labels). It's the mindset that only certain food is safe to eat. And only small amounts. And pain and chaos ensue if the rules are broken. Unfortunately for me right now, pain does ensue when the rules are broken. But how much of that is from the food itself, and how much of that is from my mind?

You can't argue with the power of your mind over your body. If you don't believe me, think about the last time you got really nervous or upset. How did your body feel? Did you get a stomachache? Headache? For most of us anyways, physical symptoms usually come with mental or emotional imbalance. And if you're already struggling with physical symptoms, it becomes near impossible to distinguish what is causing what anymore. Does my stomach hurt because I'm stressed out or because of what I ate? How can I tell? How can a doctor tell?

I can't. But a doctor can at least run some tests. So that's what I had them do. I wasn't expecting them to find anything. I was expecting everything to come back normal. And the quite large panel of blood tests all did come back normal. Amazing how I can look perfectly healthy on paper but feel so awful! Thankfully my naturopath is knowledgeable about things out of the norm to test for, which is what he did. He tested me for something that explains every single one of my symptoms. It's called SIBO- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Sounds gross until you remember that we are supposed to have bacteria in our intestines. Sometimes they get out of balance or sometimes bacteria that shouldn't be there get stuck there. Lots of different things can cause it, from food poisoning to physical abnormalities in your intestines. And of course, stress always make everything in your gut worse.

So was the elimination diet all a waste of time? Did it make this worse? Don't think I can ever know for sure, but my suspicion is that this likely started from either food poisoning (as I've had those types of symptoms more times than I can count in my life), or the several rounds of antibiotics I had to take after having Oscar. And then the stress from this prolonged dieting probably made it worse.

So what's next? An herbal antibiotic to kill the bugs, enzymes, and a med to boost my immune system and get my gut working normally again. It may take a few months to feel all better. Then I'll re-take the SIBO test to make sure it's all gone. But the great news is I'm likely not sensitive to the large list of foods I've been avoiding. Once I'm all better, I'll probably be able to reintroduce all or most things. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, just in case it takes longer to heal, or comes back (the recurrence rate is high), or I end up still having food intolerances to worry about. But I am optimistic and relieved that it wasn't all just in my head.

Over a week ago, before I had any test results and was expecting the doctors to just tell me I'm crazy, I was feeling pretty fucking low. Brian was being his usual awesome self and trying to comfort me. I asked him what he thought I should do to feel better. His reply:

"Do whatever makes you feel alive and aligned with the person you know yourself to be." (Seriously, he said those words. It's like living with the Dalai Lama.)

So I went for a walk. I did some yoga. And then I sat down and started writing this post. Because who am I? I am not a depressed anorexic. I am a happy person. A healthy person. A good human being. And there's no reason I need to feel so terrible and depressed about this difficult place I'm in. I didn't mean to fall into this pit of despair. I meant to make my body feel better, healthier. I had no intention of tempting my anorexia out of recovery to mess with my head. But unfortunately that is what happened. I realize that now, and that means, I know how to fix it. Because I've done this before. Over and over again throughout the years. Recovery is one thing I know very well.

When we're upset, it's normal to have thoughts like "Why is this happening to me?!" I always want a logical explanation for things in life. Even though so much of life isn't logical. But if we look hard, we can often find that silver lining, that good thing that came from the bad and the suffering. I think mine is happening so that I can truly understand every aspect of eating disorders. I thought I already knew all there was to know. But this experience has given me so much more insight into how this can happen from good intentions, possibly from medical conditions, and not solely from psychological issues. And now I understand how important it is for me to have as few rules as possible around food and dieting.

Once I'm fully recovered again, maybe I'll finally have the confidence and knowledge to do what I've always wanted to do with these terrible eating disorder experiences. Write my whole story. Get it out of my head and body. Maybe I can help those that are still suffering. And maybe I finally will.

"Just be happy." "Don't stress out so much." "Don't be so negative." Have you ever said thes...

"Just be happy."

"Don't stress out so much."

"Don't be so negative."

Have you ever said these things to someone? Have you ever been on the receiving end? Have you ever wanted to punch the person saying them in the face? Yeah, me too. I know my reaction, sometimes spoken out loud, is always the same.

"Thanks for the hot tip, asshole."

Funny enough, but saying a statement like "cheer up!" does not make it magically happen. I know there's lots of research on visualization, positive affirmations, etc. I've used them myself. Positive affirmations is part of how I helped improve my body image. But that was only one small part. There's a lot of work that goes into making any kind of change, especially a big one like depression, anxiety, or just being a Type A pain in the ass (I admit it). So yes, saying positive things, things you want to be real, can help. But it is not the only thing you have to do for change to happen.

When someone says a statement like that to me, which seems to be fairly often, I can't help but get a little irritated. Yes, I know! Fuck! I get it, okay. It's what you say when you don't know what else to say to help someone who's clearly having a hard time with life. I've been on that end too, but you're better off saying nothing. Just give your friend a hug and be there to listen.

Now I'm not saying that you don't have a choice in who you are and how you behave. Of course you do. I'm just saying it's not as easy and just "being". Any statement that includes "just be" or "don't be" makes it sound so incredibly simple. As if you can suddenly change what you are, in an instant. You might as well say "just be a bird!" I can't think of anybody I know who is capable of instantaneous and difficult changes. It takes work, no matter who you are.

Wish I felt as strong as Oscar!

"Be strong." or "Stay strong." There's another statement worth mentioning.

"I don't fucking feel strong!"

Just heard that that other day and it really hit home for me. Yes, exactly! Sometimes I don't feel strong. Why should I pretend that I do? Just to make everyone in my life feel more okay with my depression? Another way society tries to make you feel bad about it, like you don't feel bad enough. Bottle that shit up! Don't show your weakness! Put on that fake fucking smile and pretend like you're not hurting inside. You won't get anywhere being upset! Successful people aren't depressed!

I call bullshit.

We all have shit to deal with. The happiest person you know, if you really get to know them, sit down with them and have a deep conversation, what will be revealed? That they're happy 100% of the time and spend every moment in gratitude and perfect harmony with the universe? Nope. You'll find out they struggle with shit, too. Maybe they're farther on their journey than you are, and so it seems like they're happy all the time to you at first. But I guarantee that they still have struggles. "Life is suffering" after all, it's not easy for any of us. I bet even Tony fucking Robbins has bad days. And he's a billionaire.

So why do we all expect each other to hide our suffering? Why are we uncomfortable when someone shows their true emotion? Why are we always expected to torture ourselves in the quest for being strong? If we're all dealing with shit, why can't we deal with it together?

I don't know the answer, I just know that's how it feels. There are very few people in my life that I tell my real problems to. I'm not saying we should all go around telling the world our darkest issues. But it would be nice to not be worrying about everyone's judgement if they find out we have a mental illness or are just struggling with life. Maybe those of us labeled with a mental illness are simply those of us willing to admit to someone that we're struggling and need help! That doesn't make us fucking weak! Maybe it actually makes us stronger. Admitting we aren't in this life of suffering alone. Accepting a little defeat. Swallowing our pride long enough to say, "help me, please!"

It takes strength to ask for help. It's really hard to tell anyone that you're having a hard time. Anyone who's experienced any kind of mental illness knows what I speak of. The first time you admitted it to someone, how did it go? How did you feel? Easy stuff, didn't make you break down and cry at all, right? Didn't shatter your soul or self-confidence when faced with the person's concern, disappointment, irritation? Yeah, right. Even after all these years, admitting my problems and asking for help are still the hardest words I've ever said. And it's still hard every time I talk about it or share a post about it.

So maybe, just maybe, we can all at least keep this in mind. That we are all struggling with something. We are all weak sometimes and strong others. Happy and sad. Calm and stressed. Life is a balance. We can't seem to appreciate the good things in this world without the presence of the bad, here to remind us to be grateful for the good. Remember that before you blurt out something rude like "just cheer up!" Or at least, don't be surprised if the person tells you to fuck off.

Have you ever noticed how often multi-tasking ends up taking longer than doing each thing separately does? Or maybe not always longer, b...

Have you ever noticed how often multi-tasking ends up taking longer than doing each thing separately does? Or maybe not always longer, but you are definitely not doing as good of a job? For example, I often try to do something else while I brush my teeth. Brush my hair, put on socks, read, etc. After a long time my whole life of doing this, with much more than just brushing my teeth, I finally admitted to myself I wasn't actually accomplishing more or better tasks. Well I've known for awhile, but now I finally committed to make a change.

My goal is simple (not). Learn to focus. Fully embrace whatever it is I am doing. Whether that's brushing my teeth, playing with my kids, slinging some code, or writing this blog post. You just can't be fully immersed in more than one thing at a time. You think you can. I fall trap to it constantly. Convincing myself that I can do multiple things at once and do a good job.

Another one I do all too often is eat and work. I eat lunch at my desk every work day, and oftentimes breakfast as well. I get actual work done too, so I justify it. But my meal suffers. I end up taking forever to finish eating and then my food is cold. That's just silly. I have to adjust my life to make time for important things, like eating. Maybe it's part of my eating disorder recovery that I never gave enough thought too. Allowing food to be important enough to dedicate time to eating. And staying off my phone, email, social media, etc. But I could, and probably will, write a whole post just on that topic.

When I'm most on my game, with anything, work, husband, kids, anything in life, it's because I'm concentrating. I'm in it. Whatever it is at the moment, I am fully present. That's where happiness happens. Not when I'm reading an article on my phone while Sebastian is begging me to play Battleship or Yahtzee for the billionth time or Oscar is asking for help finding each and every tiny Thomas train in his set, the TV is blabbing in the background, and Brian is telling me the funny story of the kid's day. No one can concentrate on all those things at once! Shut off the TV, put away the phone, and be with your family! I know I'm not the only guilty one, but it's still more than a little embarrassing to admit this scenario is not an uncommon occurrence at our house.

But at least progress is being made. I realize the distracted multi-tasking is occurring much sooner these days and am quick to turn off the screens. I'm revamping my evening and morning routines to try and give myself time to take a real break at mealtimes. One day recently I actually woke up early enough to sit down and eat breakfast with Sebastian. I even put my phone away when I realized what a momentous occasion it was. I could relax and listen to my child who more than anything wants to talk, and not be rushing around trying to get my ass out the door and sneak into work right before 9. It was glorious. And I made it to work before 8:30. Miracles do happen! Actually nothing miraculous about it. It's all hard work to fight that voice that tells me "just a few more minutes" when my alarm goes off. A fight I lose most mornings (like today).

I have to give a big shout out to Habit Bliss who's 21 day morning routine I finished reading a few weeks ago. She did a great job of breaking down the reasons to have a good morning routine, ideas on how to accomplish change, and what things were worth changing. A lot of information I'm sure many of us could be reminded of. My favorite part was that we don't have to make drastic changes overnight, but can achieve lasting results with gradual changes instead. Something often forgotten, especially around this time of year when everyone is struggling with their New Year's resolutions or goals. I've attempted to have a better morning routine often in the past, but I eventually slip back into old habits. Usually it's because I'm trying to add too many things to my morning. This time instead, I am simply concentrating on eating breakfast at home and getting to work on-time without having to rush around. Once I make these things a habit, then I'll try adding more things to my morning.

What does a morning routine have to do with multi-tasking? Maybe nothing for you if you live in a bubble of a perfectly scheduled day. But for the rest of you who feel distracted and rushed like myself, you know what I'm talking about. I don't want to feel so stretched for time, over-scheduled, and constantly busy. I want to be present and active in my own life, and not like life is passing me by. I want to be focused.

So I encourage you to struggle along with me in the path to mindfulness. Any moment I achieve it, no matter how brief, feels so wonderful. Like I am truly "living in the moment".

Happy Thursday! Linking up with Danielle again for another round of Confessions. Or in today's case, some word vomit from me. I'...


Happy Thursday! Linking up with Danielle again for another round of Confessions. Or in today's case, some word vomit from me. I'm a tired and stressed out mess today. So today's post is really a mix of several bad and good things. Such is life.

I confess...

...that here I am, again, writing my confessions at the last minute. I am just not good at posting on a specific day. Too much of life is scheduled, I don't want things I do for fun to be on a schedule too. Takes the fun out if it. Except confessions, it's always a good venting session.

...that I feel like crap. Stomachache, headache, and my knee is killing me again. I don't know if it's my usual IBS/food intolerance flair up or what. But I've been eating really healthy lately so it's just not right. Was it really the 1 glass of wine I had the other day?!

...that I am fed the fuck up with my stomach, as you can no doubt tell from above. Seriously when will I make it longer than a month without a flair up?

...that every time I make some progress towards pain-free running, I end up getting sick or injured. Feels like I'm constantly starting from the bottom. At least I'm still rocking lots of yoga.

...that yoga has been my savior this past year. I am getting so much more from it then ever before. I will just have to write a whole post about it because it won't all fit here.

...that I hate politics and am so sickened by all that's going on that I have been avoiding all news like the plague. Except immigration. That one has my attention. So happy to read about the strike today. Wonder how all those spoiled, rich, white, elitist pricks in DC are enjoying a day without people to do all the hard work for them!

...that Brian and I are planning a trip to Belize in May! Sans kids. Brian's mom is nice enough to come up here and watch the monsters for us. I am so indescribably grateful for all the grandparents. They are just amazing.

...that we bought our plane tickets for Belize a couple weeks ago but still haven't booked hotels or even decided exactly where we're going to stay. We want to see all the Mayan ruins but there are too many spread all over for us to see in 1 week.

...that I feel like a hypocrite for making fun of rich, white people and then talking about planning a vacation. Did I mention that we save up for YEARS before a trip like this? Good, then hopefully you know I'm not a total ass.

...that when I'm feeling down, overly positive people just piss me off. Like I want to punch them in the face. But when I'm feeling up, I'm right there with them saying stupid shit like "let's just be happy every day!"

Wish I could relax as well as Oscar! Well hello! Last week I had a 3 day vacation in Phoenix. So now, I have to take a few moments to b...

Wish I could relax as well as Oscar!

Well hello! Last week I had a 3 day vacation in Phoenix. So now, I have to take a few moments to be grateful. I had a wonderful time visiting my friend Sara. We went hiking, got pedicures and manicures, went to a spa, saw a movie, and even hung out in the swanky corporate bay at the Phoenix Open golf tournament. No I am not a golfer, and neither was I'd guess half of the over 200,000 people there. Instead the majority were just there to get drunk, socialize, and enjoy the beautiful weather. Not a bad time.

17th hole (I think)
We slept in every morning (so wonderful) and stayed up late chatting each night. There were lots of jokes and laughs and plenty of good times people watching. Ladies I gotta know... what's with the tiny rompers giving you the biggest wedgie ever and the 6 inch ice pick heels that prevent you from walking normally??? Does fashion really have to come at such a ridiculous price? Anyways...Phoenix surprised me with healthy and delicious food everywhere we went. And such perfect weather. I soaked up plenty of sunshine and over 70 degree days. It was the perfect winter break. I will definitely be back, but always in the spring and never the summer!

This trip was very good for me. You see, I have a hard time relaxing. Not just now, but for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I stayed busy. School, sports, band, choir, clubs, friends, there was always something going on it seemed. Then in college I took as many classes as possible nearly ever semester, so there was always homework. I remember when I graduated and started working, it was the weirdest feeling to come home from work and not know what to do. There's no homework? No choir practice? So I can just, like, relax?!

Thanks for the hot tip
It didn't take long before I busied myself again. Running, yoga, cycling, hiking, crafts, movies, books, friends. I have always had too many hobbies. Then came kids. And real busyness started all over again. Hobbies became less frequent, or changed to include kids. Carving out time for rest and relaxation became much more of a challenge. Like most new parents it took us awhile to adjust and learn to make time for ourselves. Now I feel like we are mostly there. Both Brian and I still feel like there just isn't enough time in the day for all the things we want to do. But I think that's okay. I feel that way because I love my life and just want to get the most out of it. A good problem to have.

But with that feeling of not enough time comes the inability to relax. At least for me. I wonder who else feels the same? I feel like any moment I spend relaxing and not doing something productive is a waste. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a much more productive human being when I'm properly rested. And that only happens when I not only get enough sleep but also take enough breaks. Being a working mom means everywhere I go someone needs something from me. Busy at work. Busy with kids. I steal moments as often as I can to get in my exercise or time to write. But a real break, away from it all, is a beautiful thing.

Each time I've traveled away from my family I have to wrestle away the guilt. I spend the first few hours (or more) having an internal battle to find that peace. To find that place where you know that you need this time and do not need to feel any guilt from it. The memory of Sebastian crying on my shoulder the night before I left, because he was going to miss me so much, did not help my cause. But I know he was well taken care of, is often a drama king, and was possibly just trying to get me to read longer past his bedtime. But it (sadly) made me feel better about my momming skills anyway. I feel like I spend too much time telling Sebastian what to do and not do, and not enough time just having fun with him. Sigh... I suppose that's just a part of parenting though. But it was good to hear he would miss me, even if did add to my guilt.

Cactus that jumps on you!
The guilt this time started days before I left, in preparation for my break. Brian reminded me I had nothing to feel guilty about and that I should just enjoy myself. (How awesome of a husband do I have?! I can always count on him to help me feel good about myself. Thanks babe, if you're reading this. 😚) And of course he's right. I'm glad I got the guilt out of the way before I landed. In sunny 70+ degree weather. I love you Oregon, but you have been a cold and icy winter. What is this, Nevada?! Give me back the rain and mild temperatures!

So today I am thankful for the wonderful time with a good friend and the opportunity to take a real break. I'm so glad I was able to fully relax this trip instead of wasting the time feeling guilty. So here's yes to us all getting time for R&R and no to mom guilt!

It's Thursday already?! Why do I never realize it's Thursday until 8 o'clock at night? Linking up late with Danielle over ...

It's Thursday already?! Why do I never realize it's Thursday until 8 o'clock at night? Linking up late with Danielle over at Sparkles and Lattes for Confessional Thursday.

I confess that...

...I had the opportunity to cut back my hours and I enjoyed only working 4 days a week for about 6 months. Now I am slammed at work and back to working full-time and I am not loving it.

...I always thought a "work-life balance" was a myth. Now I realize I had that these last glorious months. Like so much in life, we never fully appreciate something until it's gone.

...transitioning from nerd bad-ass programmer to mom isn't easy. Exercise is the only way I can manage it and keep my sanity.

...I feel like I barely see my kids during the week, and what I mostly get is the evening rush of dinner, bath, bed. I've got to carve out at least a few minutes of play time each night.

...we have a fairly flexible schedule at my work which means I've let myself get in the habit of not getting to work until 9am. I am having a hell of a time trying to move it earlier so I don't have to stay as late or work through lunch. I am just not a morning person

...there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Working full-time really emphasizes that fact.

...even though I'm tired and bitching about work, I couldn't imagine being a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids but holy crap do they talk a lot. Just be quiet for 5 minutes!!!

...Brian helps out so much with the kids and cooking, and it is still hard being a working mom. I don't know how single parents or parent's with deadbeat partners do it. Seriously you guys are amazing.

...last month was 10 years since I graduated college. That is really weird to say. I have over 10 years of experience in my field now?! I'm not going to let that make me feel old. That can wait until it's been like 30 years.

...I'm taking a mini-vacation to see my dear friend Sara in Phoenix for a couple days next week. So excited for this much needed break!

Birthday boy enjoying his new Dora book My youngest son Oscar turned 3 years old on December 22nd. You can just ignore the fact that I&...

Birthday boy enjoying his new Dora book
My youngest son Oscar turned 3 years old on December 22nd. You can just ignore the fact that I'm a month late on this post, totally planned out, just to keep you on your toes. Late or not, I love writing birthday posts and looking back on the past year and how much he's grown. And how many awesome moments we had with him.

This year brought us a lot of music...

February 9th, 2016
April 7th, 2016
And even more music than this, but he's naked in all the other videos I took. He's definitely a little nudist. Well he likes clothes for fun at least. There was definitely lots of dress up:

March 3rd, 2016
May 21st, 2016
August 21, 2016
And some yoga:
July 22nd, 2016
August 26th, 2016
And some awesome naps:
July 9th, 2016
August 23rd, 2016
October 7th, 2016
His favorite things are cars and books. No surprise there considering that's what he's been surrounded with since birth. He pretty much skipped playing with most toddler toys and went straight to all of Sebastian's. Big brother's toys are just way cooler. Who could blame him? 

He may have inherited my OCD...
He likes TV of course, but lately it's been mostly requests for more educational shows at least, like Super Why and Leap Frog. Can't complain about that.

Comfortable way to watch TV
Oscar is very bright, funny, and athletic. He is talking up a storm. No word is too hard for him to try repeating. And he's counting really well thanks to many games of hide and seek. We just started him in gymnastics and he is loving it, as expected, since he's quite the little monkey. He's already running fast enough that we catch Sebastian cheating sometimes if they're racing each other. He's very strong-willed and throws plenty of fits still. But more often than not, he's a very happy kid.

December 29th, 2016
Snow Day! January 11th, 2017
It's so weird to have my baby not be a baby anymore. He's quickly turning into a little boy, with the toddler year's a blur behind us already. I'm doing my best to appreciate each stage of these early years. But no matter how many moments I stop and cherish, they just don't pass any slower. Regardless of the speed, I am enjoying watching him grow into the wonderful little human he is becoming.
Today, January 24th, 2017

Hiding from the world Well hello there! You may have been wondering where I've been the last couple weeks. Let me tell you all abou...

Hiding from the world

Well hello there! You may have been wondering where I've been the last couple weeks. Let me tell you all about my week long stomach flu! 😷 Okay maybe I won't give you the details. We'll just leave it at, I didn't have the energy to do anything but lay in bed or on the couch. Oh and there was another dead rat under our house. Since the town was basically shut down because of the ice and snow, the pest control company never came to get it. This weekend Brian had to go find it himself again. Yuck. It was hard to get well with the smell of death. I feel much better now that it's gone. Except for the cold I'm fighting. Waaaah!

Anyways....onward! Being sick usually comes with a fairly bad bout of depression for me. That's possibly normal but sometimes it can stick with me for longer than the illness, making me think I'm still sick when I'm actually not. The symptoms sometimes blur together too, so that I can't tell if I'm sick because I'm depressed or depressed because I'm sick. It's more than a little frustrating.

I may have kicked anorexia's ass, but defeating depression has been a much harder battle than I ever anticipated. I still struggle, far too often, with being depressed. I've come a long ways from my worst of course. Besides no more disordered eating, I also don't worry about everything or get down over every tiny bump in life. Now my stress and depression is more often spent on large and important issues. And during and after illness, which happens far too often.

Nothing some cuddles won't fix
I'm not talking about just being a bit down either. I'm talking hiding in my room, often with the lights off and a dark blanket on the window. And either sleeping, crying, reading, watching mindless TV all day, or a combination of those things. And not socializing with anyone and barely even seeing my own family. This is usually what happens to me with the aforementioned bout of depression that comes with illness. Which is how I justify it to myself that it's okay to hide in the dark and quiet when I'm sick. But whether this is a typical or healthy response to being under the weather, I don't like it and want it to happen less often. My entire life I've had the tendency to get sick often, it was even worse when I was a child. So it's not like any of these bugs I catch as an adult are the worst I've ever had. On the contrary, I'm positive the worst ones happened when I was under the age of 10. So it seems like all this sick time should've toughened me up a bit instead of seemingly making me weaker. Well I don't like feeling weak. That's a big, fat, blinking sign that it's time to change something.

Which brings me back to my most recent illness. It started like any other, with me hiding in my room. Extra justification was escaping the smell of death downstairs which was obviously not helping my intense nausea. Brian poked his head in to check on me and did something that made all the difference in the world. He moved the blanket on the window and opened the blinds. It was last week on the morning after the most snow I've ever seen since we've lived here (like 6 whole inches, it was crazy!). And it was sunny and, obviously, extra bright from all the snow. My first reaction was of course, "No! Ahhh my head! It's too bright!" But we both knew it would be good for me, so I left it. After the initial shock wore off and I could open my eyes, I realized it was bearable. I made a point of opening the blinds anytime I rested in my room during my sick days.

Our backyard last week
And you know what happened? I made it through my entire illness without getting depressed. I can't even remember the last time that happened. Or if that's ever happened. Seriously, it was pretty fucking epic. So all these years I've felt like my progress with defeating depression has been creeping along in slow motion, now one illness bam! I feel like I've jumped ahead a hundred steps. There's always more steps ahead but for now, I'm taking a moment to just enjoy this progress. 

So if like me, you tend to get depressed when you're sick, try not to hide from the world. Instead, try getting some natural light in your life. Doesn't even have to be sunny, you just need to be able to see outside. It reminds you that the world isn't ending and before you know it, you'll be all better.

"Why are people setting off fireworks? It's not the 14th of July," Sebastian asked me last night. I couldn't hide my ...

"Why are people setting off fireworks? It's not the 14th of July," Sebastian asked me last night.
I couldn't hide my chuckle at that. "The 14th? Try that one again buddy."
"The 4th, the 4th, I mean!"
"People like to celebrate on New Year's."
"It's just a way to measure another revolution around the sun, another year has passed. It reminds us to take time to appreciate the moment. And to evaluate everything we did the past year, and make goals for the coming year, " I replied...or something that probably didn't sound quite that organized, but was the gist of our discussion.

This, of course, got me thinking of taking my own moment of appreciation. Today always marks a unique point in time for me. I often wonder if having my birthday on New Year's Day is what makes it seem that way. I'm betting most people have a moment like this on their birthday's as well as New Year's, so I guess I'm just combining my New Year's and birthday moments. It usually results in lots of deep breathing and heavy sighs. Another year is over already. I'm another year older. 32 today. How weird that sounds. Am I the only who still feels like a teenager? Back when being over 30 was "really old"? Now I don't think of old as starting at a specific age, but more of a way some people feel about themselves. But it still seems like I'm young and have all the time in the world. Maybe that's because I'm trying to remain at peace with my age.

You know what I mean... "to age gracefully". I don't want to be that 30-something person who lies about her age and spends all my time and money on covering up the fact that I'm not 16 anymore. Of course it feels weird to see new wrinkles showing up on my face, old ones getting deeper, the white hairs spreading like wildfire on my head. But my thoughts on aging are less worries of the physical, and more of the philosophical. I feel the worry of, am I doing all I should be doing with my life? Am I making the best use of my time on this planet? Am I making the largest, most positive impact I could be making? Those are the questions that nag at me. Not if I should start using anti-aging cream. Fuck that pile of bullshit. Concentrate on your life, not your wrinkles.

So while I have been wrestling with all those thoughts as my birthday approached this year, another moment worthy of appreciation caught my attention. Today marks my 5th anniversary of this blog. Which started with a short, honest post about my purpose and intention, which you can read in less than a minute here.

Interestingly enough, my intentions have not changed much in the last 5 years. I have many writing goals, but probably not the typical blogging goals. I try not to care about the numbers (followers, page views, likes, etc.). I get it, if you're trying to use your blog as a source of income, then the numbers are important. But thankfully, I'm not. I'm just trying to make myself write, you know, somewhere people might read it. I don't really care how many people read it. Well that's probably inaccurate. Of course I want many people to read it, and if they enjoy it, stick around. But I don't want to attract people to my blog because of products, free giveaways, a fake service, or false promise of being able to help you drastically change your life. I want people to come here simply because they enjoy reading what I write. Period. So it is with that in mind, that I share with you my blogging goals for the year:

2017 Blogging Goals
  • Get published on more sites, big and small.
  • Connect with more of my readers.
  • Write posts about once a week.
  • Stay ad-free.
This is starting to sound like a resolution post. Oddly enough, I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. Maybe because most people don't stick with them. I set goals for myself whenever I think of it, definitely more than once a year. And I rarely share them with anyone, because I don't need anyone's judgements if I fail. I want goals to be a way to keep me motivated, but not stressed out and disappointed if I don't achieve them. Being an overachiever for most of my life meant I spent a lot of timing feeling bad about myself, especially if I failed to achieve a goal. But for many years now, one of my biggest goals has been to STOP feeling bad about myself. As is even obvious in my first post. But now, finally, I feel confident enough in myself to share just a few of my more personal goals with you, without worrying about your judgement or the fear of failure.

2017 Life Goals
  • Less depressed episodes (days where I hide from the world)
  • More patience (especially as a parent)
  • Mindfulness- conscious and intentional decisions in all areas of life
I also have many small goals like spend more time outdoors, keep working on pain-free running, more yoga, more traveling, etc. etc. But these bigger goals are the real challenge, what requires more of my concentration. The things I have a higher chance of failing at, but also the ones really worth achieving. Like all important things in life, they won't be easy.

So here's to 2017! Don't be afraid to set some challenging life goals for yourself this year. Have you already set some? Share them in the comments!

This popped up on my Facebook memories on Dec 17th: Wow I don't believe it's been over 4 years since we first heard Sebastian m...

This popped up on my Facebook memories on Dec 17th:
Wow I don't believe it's been over 4 years since we first heard Sebastian might have NF1 (neurofibromatosis type 1). My memory of the day we first heard that word is still very clear. Brian called me at work not long after Sebastian's check-up. I stepped outside to take the call. I answered, expecting to hear all was well. But instead, I heard concern and frustration in Brian's voice as he told me what the doctor said. My heart immediately sank, before I knew anything about it. Not because I was convinced there was anything wrong. But because I had so been hoping for a good check-up for him, finally. But it just wasn't to be.

Re-reading that post now brings up so many emotions. It's funny to realize how much I just HATED all his doctors, even though they all turned out to be good. Like his pediatrician at the time. I had never even met her at that point but I was pissed she didn't give Brian more information (which I still think she totally should've). In retrospect, I think she just didn't want to scare him if she was wrong. And also general practitioners seem to be well trained, or maybe almost forced, to recommend a specialist for anything that ails us past the basics. I didn't realize at the time how incredibly lucky we were to even have a pediatrician who knew what NF was and recognized the signs. If anything serious had been wrong with Sebastian, catching it early could've made all the difference in helping him.

When reading this, I also feel immense sadness and compassion for the 2012 version of our family, and how perfect our lives had been going until that moment. The year leading up to this news was one of the most stress-free years of my life. We were enjoying living in Oregon and having Sebastian stay home with Brian and being well and healthy more often. I was loving my job and being debt-free after our short-sale had finally went through. I was finally feeling healthy myself, and running, cycling, and doing yoga more than ever before. We had even started trying for baby #2. Life was good.

Obviously the diagnosis changed our lives forever. I used to feel guilty for my depression from this, but as I progressed through my grief, I realized there was nothing for me to be ashamed of. It's hard to go from feeling like life is perfect in one moment to total shit the next. And it's okay to hurt for your child. It's okay to be depressed when you're left helpless. It's okay that I was in denial about it for a long time. It was a rough couple of months after this post as we worked through the process of getting the diagnosis confirmed, seeing all the specialists, doing all the research and educating ourselves as much as possible. But in the end, it all turned out well. We learned this diagnosis was not a death sentence, not even a guaranteed rough life sentence. It's just a label (and we know how I feel about labels). His condition has not worsened. Physical therapy is helping him increase his strength and coordination. He is smarter than ever, reading a full grade ahead and asking me a new math problem daily. He is perfectly healthy, despite the NF1.

I am beyond grateful for how well he is doing. I continue to choose to believe only the best for Sebastian. I'm confident in the knowledge that positive thinking and not worrying every moment is by far the best thing I can do for my kids, no matter what happens in their lives. But a piece of me still wishes I could just go back and hug myself 4 years ago and say the words I needed to hear and believe...

🎶"don't you worry, about a thing, cause every little things gonna be alright."🎶