Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Chrismas!

Dearest Readers,

Click on the link for my Christmas card this year! Copy of Merry Christmas 2014

May you feel the powerful spirit of Christmas, experience unconditional love, and take a little time for yourself. Life is precious. Embrace it. Thank you for the support from readers across the world! Your words, stories and emails inspire and encourage me. You rock!

Much Love, Lizzy

Pity is one powerful emotion. It helped keep me stuck in an abusive marriage too long

My latest via Divorced Moms. The power of pity. Quite pitiful, eh?

The Power Of Pity. Why I Stayed In An Abusive Marriage So Long
by Lizzy Smith                     
December 19, 2014
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I am often asked why I stayed in a terrible marriage so long. I had a great job, made good money, and seemed strong and independent. Perhaps this story will help answer that.
Not long ago, I had a dream nightmare. You know when you have a dream that feels so real that it takes hours to shake off the feelings it conjures up? Yep, that was this one. Ruined my morning. No amount of Bikram yoga or massages could help.

I was back in my old life, living in the home I purchased with my ex-husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic). In the nightmare, there I was, waking up in my old bed in our master bedroom. Rob was gone (probably on his work assignment- which, truth be told, entailed a few hours at work and lots of hours pounding beers with his work pals and contractors).

Anyhooo, in my dream, I started off my typical morning, frantic with the enormous things I had to do that day. I scrambled out of bed, put on shoes and walked the two dogs as they pulled me up and down hills. I fed them. I took a shower. Then realized Rob's oldest daughter hadn't come home (again) so I texted Rob to let him know. Hoping she wasn't in a ditch. Not sure why I bothered because Rob certainly didn't seem to care. I dried my hair, put on makeup, got dressed, woke up the children, fed them breakfast, helped them get dressed, made their lunches, reminded them to brush teeth, did something with Siena's hair, got them all in the car and dropped the girls off at school, and made a phone call to my BFF Julie on my way to work to tell her about the latest drunken fight that I had with Rob.

I got to work, read a few hateful texts from Rob about how he was such a great drunk guy and I needed to appreciate him more then everything would be just fine. I then started my day at work.

After work, I drove home, picked up the girls, got home, walked the dogs, fed the dogs and made sure they had water, fed the girls, changed clothes, started a load of laundry, helped Morgan with homework, gave Siena a bath and wash and dried her hair, did the dishes, put laundry away, ran a few contracts for our vacation home, paid bills, reconciled the checking account (after having a heart attack that there was almost no money left in the account even though, together, Rob and I earned a substantial income) because child support and alimony just almost doubled after his younger daughter refused to live with Rob on rotation because he was still drinking uncontrollably. I then put Siena to bed and read her a story, tucked Morgan into bed, and then went on Craigslist to run ads for our vacation rental to keep those renters coming. If I had any energy left, I cleaned the house, took out the trash, and perhaps tried to calm down while taking a hot bath before crawling into bed around midnight.

Keep reading...

Monday, December 15, 2014

50 years together! We celebrated my parents' Golden Anniversary Saturday night

Amazing-- my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary! William and I hosted their party Saturday night and it was super fun and delicious. Perfect. My parents are amazing and I love them so much that there are no words. I wrote about it on Divorced Moms so you can read below. On Sunday, we hit up a great Christmas concert. I felt the true spirit of Christmas in a way that I haven't in years. A woman sung my favorite "Oh Holy Night" and I wanted to sob. I am so blessed, surrounded by people I love Every Single Day, doing things that matter in life, and doing my best to live for each day. Ok, I'm on a time crunch but here are some photos, article is at the bottom, keep scrolling.


Celebrating 50 Years! Lessons Learned From My Parents
by Lizzy Smith                     
December 15, 2014
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50 Anniversary.jpg
It's official: My parents have achieved a huge milestone, being married for 50 years! We celebrated on Saturday night with a party. The food was delicious, the house decorated beautifully, the kids all behaved and nothing got broken. And as I watched my parents together, I was emotional. The entire evening, I choked back tears as I watched them together. Their union has produced three children and five grandchildren, a few homes (all paid off), and, overall, quite a nice life. They travel extensively-- in a few weeks, they are leaving for Antarctica. They hit the gym almost every day to walk the track. They go to the symphony and for rides up the canyon. They go to church and worship God. When one is sick, the other drives to the doctor, picks up meds, and ensures recovery. My parents are surrounded by family and friends. They certainly aren't lonely and, in fact, usually their home is a revolving door of people coming in and out. While they aren't wealthy, they are by no means lacking for anything. It's not a bad life. How many of us are that lucky?

Well, now that I think about it, luck has nothing to do with it. They have worked hard, planned well, lived conservatively, and they are (overall) on the same page-- working towards the same goals. If only I had chosen my husband better because divorce is traumatic and expensive. Divorce for me meant pitching the house, suffering emotionally, getting cancer, hurting the children, and taking a financial bath. Only if things are really super horrible at home is divorce worth it (and in my case, it was necessary—you can’t fix substance abuse and sticking around is horror for everyone involved).
I can't imagine having made a wise choice in my pick of husbands. Think about it. Together, we could have purchased a home and perhaps paid it off in 15 or 30 years. We would have children living in an intact home. Maybe we could retire early. Christmas, summer breaks, Thanksgivings, graduations, and birthday parties-- all of them celebrated together. No fighting over assets and paying enormous sums to attorneys. And going into the Golden Years as a couple, picking vacations and meals together. Watching grandchildren coming into the world without having to plan visits around when the other parent might be showing up. Divorce and split families leaves complications and victims in its wake. It's not pretty. Then again, neither is the journey towards getting a divorce.

Bad marriages are the true personification of Evil. Divorces are, too. I know a few friends who have had amicable splits but they are few and far between. For the most part, it's amazing how awful adults can be towards each other. It is tragic how two people who at one point, liked each other enough to make children, can become enemies. To the extreme of murder; to the lesser extreme of destroying reputations, lives, and compromising our own standards of decency. I am no different. My marriage and ensuing divorce brought out some of my worse traits. I learned what rage and blind hatred feel like and it is terrible. Learning to heal and find peace and comfort took time. I can honestly say that instead of wishing terrible things for my ex-husband, I've come to the point where I pray for him, for his recovery, and for his wellbeing. But it took over two years to get there.

As I look ahead to the future, I hope I've learned from my past mistakes and from the example of my parents. I am working hard to ensure that my next mate is an amazing man, and my next marriage is a happy one. Here's what I'm doing differently:

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Love Notes

The best and most important part of my life is being a mom. These two girls are the loves of my life. They are so fun and amazing people. I love them so much that it sometimes hurts. I look at them when they sleep sometimes and I cry. How God entrusted me to raise these girls I will never know. I am flawed but I do my best. This morning, Siena gave me a letter that she wrote for me while I was in San Francisco. I read it and, after I was done trying to decipher some of it and stopped laughing, I gave her the biggest hug. She has such a huge heart. Anyway, here it is.

I love getting sweet love notes from my daughters! Best way to start my morning.

It reads (I've corrected spelling where necessary):

Dear Mommy,
I love you so much and you are the best mom that a girl could have. You are so pretty. You are one of the nicest moms in the world. You are one of the best people who let nine year old girls do things other kids don't get to do. You are one of the sweetest moms in the world. You are like the star on the Christmas tree, just more pretty. You are like the most prettiest moms and humans in the world. Love Siena

Ok, melt my heart already! She is seriously so dang funny.

The other "lovely" message I heard was at the ASH conference. Several of us from Myeloma Crowd went to dinner with several top myeloma doctors. The topic of myeloma research and progress came up. While myeloma gets tiny funding and is an orphan disease, it has experienced more progress than just about any other disease in the past several years. Why is that? Because amazing doctors are committed, and aggressively pursuing better treatments and, yes, a cure! That's a lot of love for myeloma, and to those doctors, a huge shoutout! Thank you! Keep going, faster, faster, FASTER!

And talk about love-- my parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this month! Tomorrow, we are hosting their party. Details of that one next week.

I am sitting here at my infusion appointment at Huntsman this morning. This is a long one, because I'm getting Aridia. It's ok that I'm here for, like, four hours because I bring my trusty laptop and write. And I'm surrounded by my angels, my nurses, who are amazing and I adore. Not a bad way to ring in the holidays.

God Bless, Lizzy

Great Holiday Gift Ideas Under $15

I am seriously overwhelmed by gifts this year. With Thanksgiving coming late, getting the flu, and going to San Francisco, I am so behind schedule! William and I did some serious shopping yesterday and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anyhow, some ideas for inexpensive Holiday gifts via Divorced Moms.

Gift Buying Crunch Time: 12 Gift Ideas Under $15
by Lizzy Smith                    
December 12, 2014
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It is serious holiday crunch time when it comes to purchasing gifts. Just yesterday, I looked at my calendar and almost had a heart attack. In the next week alone, I have five Christmas parties, one anniversary party, my last hair appointment of the year (so my one and only opportunity to gift Kelsie), the last day of school for my children (time to gift their teachers), my daughter's last soccer practice, my other daughter's last sewing class, and my final infusion appointment of the year (I'm a cancer survivor and go to clinic once per week for maintenance therapy; my nursing team are my angels and I remember them every holiday season). I needed to do some serious shopping yesterday to load up on gifts, lots of gifts. But I'm also on a serious budget. Finding fun and appropriate options under $10 isn't always easy. It took some time, but I picked up some great items, and you can follow suit.

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil - $8 at Ross
I found an aged EVO in a beautiful black canister. It's perfect for a holiday gift exchange or a hostess gift.

2. Balsamic Vinegar - $10 at Ross
The balsamic vinegar also came in the same black canister as the EVO I mentioned above. You can gift it to a hostess together with the EVO or gift it separately. As one who loves to cook, I'd absolutely love ending up with this one!

3. Photo Frame - $10 at TJ Max
A simple 8x10 photo frame with mat is a perfect gift option for anyone on your list. You can find frames anywhere, but I prefer looking at the discounters, like TJ Max, Ross, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Off Saks because the frames are deeply discounted and generally a higher quality for the price.

Keep reading...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Divorced Moms column: 12 ways to find joy during the holiday season

My latest via Divorced Moms.

12 Ways To Find Joy During the Holiday Season
by Lizzy Smith                     
December 08, 2014
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The holidays can be an incredibly painful time of year, especially if we are nursing wounds from a former marriage. The children may be heading to the ex’s. We may reflect over what we’d like to have in our relationships in contrast with our reality. Or, as we watch the happy and smiling faces of children and adults around us, we wonder why can’t I have that?

While suicide rates don’t actually climb during the period of Thanksgiving to New Year’s (that’s a myth!), it’s nonetheless a time of great sadness and stress for millions of people. So what’s a single girl to do? Here are 8 tips:

1. Get Out 
Social isolation is not your friend. It’s imperative that you not stay home in your pajamas eating ice cream. Get up, get dressed, and head out of the house. Even going to a movie or meandering through a holiday light display is better than going it alone. If you have a friend to go with, even better. You need not spend any money at all.

2. Work Out
Getting exercise is terrific for everyone during any time of year. But if you’re feeling blue over the holidays, it's even more important to stave off depression and sadness by working out. Go the gym, sign up for yoga (my favorite activity), or go for a walk if it’s not too cold outside. Whatever you do, get moving. If you have a treadmill at home, try to ignore it and get your workout somewhere with people (see tip #1 above).

3. Look Fabulous
Refrain from looking a mess. Even if you're not feeling like it, force yourself to shower, do your hair, put on some makeup and get dressed in something fashionable before heading out. If you need a trip to the salon, go! Try changing up your hair color or trying a new style. Consider getting a mani and maybe a makeup refresher course at a department store. Anything to pick up your spirits is a great thing. Do it!

Keep reading...

My San Francisco Get-Away

Here I am in San Francisco! The reason I'm here is to attend the American Society of Hematology convention. There are, like, 20,000 people attending this thing and I love it.

So here's the rundown. On Friday, William and I flew from Salt Lake to Oakland, took BART into the city, and met up with my former college roomie, Jen, who lives here. I saw Jen over the summer. I was truly the worse roommate on the planet when Jen and I lived together. Jen actually went to college to study; I don't know why I initially went to college other than it was expected and I wanted out of my small town. So I showed up and partied like a rock star. Like out of control partying, drinking most every night, and generally making Jen's life miserable. I loved Jen to death, she just didn't stay up all night and partake in drinking games. She left halfway through our sophomore year and came back to San Francisco and eventually got her PhD in psychology from USF. I eventually graduated from college, too. And Jen and I have remained friends ever since. It was awesome seeing her again. The last time I was here was when Morgan and I had to get her Russian passport renewed ASAP just prior to flying to Moscow to pick up Siena in 2008. Since then, Jen and her hubby and three children moved from one house to a new one. This was the first time I've seen this home and it's beautiful, in a great part of the city, and has a private apartment downstairs that they don't rent out. We adults went out to dinner and the next day, Jen dropped us off at our hotel, which is just a couple blocks from the Moscone Center where the convention is taking place.

On Saturday, I hit the ground running, attending sessions and perusing the convention floor. I learned a lot, met some cool people and then met up with Jenny, myeloma patients and advocates Jack Aiello and Pat Killingsworth for dinner on the waterfront. I knew Pat and Jack because they are very visible in the myeloma community, hosting radio programs, doing guest speaking gigs, and the like. We had a very important meeting about the importance of raising money to fund clinical trials for myeloma.

Last night, William and I went back to Jen's and we decorated their Christmas tree with the husband and children. I will say that Jen and Tim are awesome parents and their children are so kind. Hanging out with them has been amazing. I love San Francisco, and I love them.

Sunday was more learning, and then getting a massage and shopping with William. And today, I've been at the convention since before 7:00 AM!

My biggest two take-aways from this convention are this: 1) Clinical trials!! We MUST be willing to participate in trials. First, in doing so, we are NOT guinea pigs! We get the best treatments plus the next potential new one. And, second, without trial participation, no new drugs or treatments are going to happen.  And 2) No fear! I hate myeloma. I wouldn't wish this journey on anyone. But I do not fear this disease. I am awestruck by its power and evilness. But there are so many treatments in the pipeline, and that makes it exciting.