Thursday, October 23, 2014

From Divorced Moms: 20 Stress Busters To Boost Your Immune System (And Your Soul)

I almost forgot to post this one! From Divorced Moms...

20 Stress Busters To Boost Your Immune System (And Your Soul)
by Lizzy Smith                    
October 21, 2014
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Stress causes inflammation, which causes your immune system to weaken, which leaves us prone to all kinds of viruses and illness. Here are some tips on how to live a calmer, happier, and healthier life.

1. Exercise
Do not be a couch potato. Especially when we’re fatigued, stressed out and pushed to the brink of insanity, or simply aren’t feeling well, this can be a tough one. Nonetheless, to the extent possible get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. If the weather is decent, get outside. Fresh air and vitamin D is great for the body and soul. Anything you love, go for it! Even walking around Costco will count in a pinch. The important thing is to move around. Exercise releases endorphins, elevates your mood, strengthens your heart, and makes you stronger. These are all fabulous reasons to move, move, and move some more.

2. Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest is essential for health. It’s when your body repairs itself. And it’s also when we emotionally repair and rejuvenate, too. Lack of sleep causes tremendous emotional and physical stress. Take naps when possible and when needed. Listen to your body. You may need six hours or ten hours. Whatever you require, get it.

3. Take Time For You
Do something you love that calms and centers you (and don’t feel guilt for doing it). This can be reading a book, taking a “stay-cation” (vacation in your own city) solo or with a close friend. Take a hot bath or go for a horseback ride or movie. Be selfish, it’s ok. After all, it’s hard to properly care for others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves first.

Keep reading...

Divorced Moms: 5 Tips For Surviving The Excruciatingly Painful Brazilian Wax

My latest on Divorced Moms. Enjoy!

5 Tips For Surviving The Excruciatingly Painful Brazilian Wax
by Lizzy Smith                     
October 24, 2014
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One of a girl's biggest dilemmas is to wax or not to wax? Like Brazilian wax. Going bald in our sweet spot that goes well beyond the bikini line. For most of my adult life, I simply shaved my bikini line and then some, so I had a small patch of hair. Was that sexy? I never really thought about it, to be honest.

And then I got cancer, had lots of chemo, and lost all the hair on my body (minus a little arm hair). For about 15 months, I wore wigs everywhere I went because I could not handle anyone thinking that I might be sick. Even at home, I wore a pink beany cap and if anyone came over or I stepped outside for even a second, the wig went on. I lost my eyelashes for several months and wore falsies (they suck, if you ask me; they are heavy and it took me loads of time to get them on just right). I had no eyebrows either for a time and drew them on with a pencil. It was summertime and let me tell you how paranoid I was that my draw-ins would melt off. I carried a little mirror and that eyebrow pencil with me everywhere I went and touched up endlessly. I lost the hair on my legs (whoohoo!) and all my pubic hair (which I loved).

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I'm Happy. (?)

A few nights ago, William and I finally went to see The Hundred Foot Journey, a story of two amazing but totally different restaurants in a small town in France-- one a Michelin One Star restaurant on a quest for the second star; the other an Indian restaurant. It was fantastic. If you haven't seen it, GO! It was beautiful, fabulously acted, and I afterwards I desperately wanted to go back to France, and find a restaurant asap that served up great curry. It was about finding peace and joy, discovering passion-- your own passion, not someone else's, and knowing your priorities.

It hit me-- I've done all those things. I am happy. I have amazing family and friends that I love endlessly. I know that those in my inner circle and my true friends who I can count on for anything. I trust them with my life and I love them beyond measure. I have two daughters that I love so much that it hurts. I have found my passion-- writing about things that matter (surviving an alcoholic home, cancer, health, divorce and parenting), traveling, experiencing life, constantly having personal growth, and focusing on my health (emotional, physical, and spiritual). Years ago, someone asked me what I would do for a living if making money wasn't important. I wasn't sure. Open a cupcake shop? a doggy daycare center? Nothing? I know now-- write, travel, experience, obsess about health. And I'm doing that now.

For the first time in my life, my priorities are absolutely in the right order. It's all in place. Self, health, family, friends, love, doing things that matter, experiencing all that I can, traveling, discovering, and, well, I am being repetitive here... loving. Oh yes, and being grateful-- grateful for every single day I'm here on earth, alive, breathing and listening and learning.

Which is not to say that all is perfect. I hate that I have myeloma. I hate that I have fatigue. I hate that I am maybe 80-90% of my former physical self and that percent may never increase. This may be as good as it gets. I hate that I'm so dang busy all the time and I can't be more efficient or faster or better because I can't physically or mentally do it. I'm slower and I can't work to improve that. I hate that my body has changed thanks to medications and age. I hate that there isn't a cure for cancer. I hate that I haven't hit the lottery.

All that aside, I'm so blessed and lucky. I am surrounded by love and support. And as I head quickly to my 47th birthday and Thanksgiving, this is my sappy thought of the day.

While up at the top of the mountain in Palm Springs this past weekend, we hiked a bit. And then we stopped, listened, watched, and smelled. It was beautiful. This is how I know God lives-- each time I see his awesome creations, I just know He's there. There was a woodpecker. And a squirrel. The air smelled of pines. It was beautiful. Several weeks ago, I went with Katherine and the kids up the canyon and we walked a beautiful trail. And then a tree fell. Naturally. Out of nowhere. It made a huge crack, then a whoosh, as a tree fell not too far from us. I never had that happen to me before. It was amazing. We laughed and we were all stunned. And we realized how cool it was. These days, I notice these things. In my awful life when married, I noticed nothing of the sort. I was too busy surviving, working, surviving, and grieving. Walking on eggshells. Too busy with my utter disgust with my drunk husband and myself for sticking with him, to notice or appreciate anything. Life wasn't pretty, peaceful, or meaningful. Today, it is. What a stark, vivid contrast. Did cancer make this all happen. I cringe to say that, yes, it did. Enough for now, it's late and I'm tired.

Now go see that movie! Plan a trip to France. Go eat amazingly delicious food. Make your Bucket List and get busy crossing those things off. And hug the people you love.

Goodnight my readers,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My new life's motto: Why not?

So we just got back from five days in Long Beach. We did the older girls' retreat in Palm Springs. That meant that just me, my BFF from college days, Julie, and our two oldest daughters, Morgan and Devynn (both 14 years old), went to Palm Springs for the weekend. The younger girls stayed with Julie's husband, Shane.

We rode the tram and hiked up at the top. Even though I've been to Palm Springs more times than I can count, this was the first time I've gone up the tram. In PS, it was, like, 95 degrees. A 10-minute ride up the mountain, and it was cold and a forest. I loved it. We had a great weekend and flew home yesterday. Why did it take me so long to do something new? I have no idea.

Which brings me back to my story for today: Why not? That's my life's motto. Life is about creating memories and doing new things. So if I have an opportunity to do anything that sounds even remotely interesting, I say, Why not?

William asked me to go to Kansas City. I had never been to Kansas City before. Why not? No good reason not to. So I went.

I just scheduled a boudoir photo shoot. Talk about BRAVE! I've never done a photo shoot like this. Why not? I'm doing it!

In a few days, William and I are celebrating our two year anniversary (minus a two month break in between). We are going hang gliding. I've never done this before so... why not?

I'll be sharing all those experiences with you, I promise. Will I be brave enough to share a photo of my boudoir shoot? Hmmm... not so sure. But maybe. Why not?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From Sleepwalking on Ambien (oh my!)

My article via on my latest Ambien experience. You can visit the article on the site by clicking here. To quote Wise William, "I can't believe they still sell that drug." To quote my nurse at Huntsman Cancer Institute today, "Some tolerate it well. Others do crazy and dangerous stuff on it." True that. I think I might just fall into the latter category. Which is why I'm done with it. I'm frightened, and that's no lie.

Sleepwalking On Ambien – Oh My!

Sleepwalking On Ambien – Oh My!


Last summer, I went night shopping while on Ambien. I didn’t know I did it until the next morning when I checked my email and I had several order confirmations. I bought bra balls (don’t even ask), a facial machine that promised to erase wrinkles, a pair of white and black diamond earrings, and a few tops. So in my conscious state, I was in the market for none of those things. Perhaps somewhere deep inside, I really “needed” them (right). I was stunned and I decided that I could never take Ambien and have my phone or laptop near me because I did things (like spend money) that I didn’t want to do and didn’t remember doing. I am so grateful I didn’t buy a big trip on that spree, because that was one thing I was really researching and preparing to do. Problem solved by simply hiding electronics at night, right?


This morning, I woke up and noticed that the TV in the living room was on, the kitchen included a plate with four pizza bagels that looked like someone ran their fingers through but didn’t eat any, the left-over salad bowl from dinner, a cup with punch, the silverware drawer wide open, and lights on in the kitchen. Impossible! I went to bed with a spotless kitchen. Like not a fork out of place. I left the microwave light on and went to bed. I popped an Ambien and fell asleep. (Truth is, I hate taking sleep aids but when I’m on Dex, I really don’t have a choice if I want to get any shut-eye at all.)
I asked my daughters if either of them got up in the middle of the night. They looked at me like I was crazy after denying it. And I believed them. They wouldn’t opt for salad or turn on the big TV anyway.

So that left two choices: 1) My house is haunted and a ghost was there; or 2) It was me and I didn’t remember it at all. Unfortunately, it was me. It had to be me. There is no other option. And this really isn’t funny. What else am I doing that I don’t know about? I hear about people driving and going to Walmart in the middle of the night and not remembering it. Or worse. I know a guy who “came to” at the police station after getting a DUI because of Ambien. He didn’t remember getting in his car. Dangerous! I really don’t think I’ve been driving. But am I eating? I’m not gaining extra weight but maybe I am. But what else am I doing?

I went to clinic today (I’m on a two year maintenance plan so I’m there once a week) and talked to them. They switched me to Sonata. Apparently this doesn’t have as long as a sleep effect. It makes you fall asleep faster but burns out faster, which means that probably I won’t be shopping, eating, or … ? At least I hope! And I’m also going to try just simply taking Melatonin (five mg) per night and getting off sleep aids altogether unless it’s an emergency and I’m really desperate. I’ll keep you posted.

So lesson here is: Be very careful when taking sleep aids.

Want to know what life is like when you live with an addict? Here it is, described in it's terrible glory

My latest on Divorced Moms. Enjoy! Well, actually there's nothing enjoyable about living this kind of life. But at least maybe you'll learn something. And maybe if you're living with an addict, this might serve as Step 1 in escaping. Because it is a really sucky life, trust me.

Ever Wonder What Life With An Addict Looks Like? Keep Reading!
October 16, 2014
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When you're married to (or dating) anyone with an addiction, life is hell. There are no exceptions. Is it worth it? No. It's a terrible existence for you, the children, and anyone else in the vicinity.

Addictions come in different forms. There's the alcoholic (I lived with a functioning alcoholic that could hold a job but my hell was just as bad as the next person's), druggy, prescription pill popper, porn addict, gambler who'll hand over the title to your home, shopping addict, sex addict... I could go on, but you get the picture.

If you're living with an addict, here's what you can expect.

He'll lie to you
He is a pathological liar. Everything he does is to cover his addiction. That'll mean lying to you about what money he spends and on what, where he's at, what he's doing, what time he left work, and if he walked the dogs. Big lies and little lies. You cannot trust him because he is simply incapable of earning your trust.

In order to live with this man, you need to set your expectations extremely low and not be surprised or angry when you catch him in one bold faced lie after the next. Can you do this? Doubtful. Unless you give up, have zero self esteem, and are so thoroughly beaten down that there is no dignity left in you. Sound good? Of course not. It's horrid.

His needs will always come before yours (or anyone else's)
He may be capable of doing nice things for you. Sometimes. Usually out of guilt and because he knows you're at the end of your rope. But as things simmer down, he'll be back to being the utterly selfish guy you know. You will do the majority of the work, cover up for his disasters, make excuses for him to others, and do everything possible to try and make him "happy" so he'll have an incentive to get better and be better. It's an exercise in futility, though. There is nothing you can do to make him an improved guy. It's exhausting and frustrating.

In order to survive this guy, you'll need to take all the things you love and put them on the back burner. You'll forget who you are because you are now the person who covers for your mate. Sounds fabulous, right? Wrong.

Keep reading...

Another scary Ambien story and traveling

So this morning I woke up and the TV in the living room was on, so were the lights. The silverware drawer was wide open, there were dishes on the countertop and a plate with four bagel bites that looked like someone had stuck their fingers into then decided not to eat them at all. I was totally baffled. The girls woke up to get ready for school and I asked them if either had woken up in the middle of the night to eat bagel bites. They looked at me like I was nuts. No, of course not. And, really, I don't see either one of them turning on the TV and having a food fest alone anyway. So there were two options left: 1) ghosts in the house; 2) it was me. I am convinced it was me, which is really disturbing. I don't even like bagel bites. I hate them actually. I only bought them for my daughters because about a month ago, I went to Kansas City for four days and wanted to leave easy snacks for my children while I was gone. And this had to be an Ambien sleep thing. I have no recollection of it at all. What else am I doing in the middle of the night that I don't remember? Oh my gosh. I once went shopping on Ambien. I woke up the next morning only to check my email inbox to discover that I spent some $400 on stuff I don't remember. But am I eating or... I can't even fathom what else. I talked to my nurses today and they will give me another sleep aid without the same side effects. I hate that I even take sleep aids but you try taking Dex and sleeping. It isn't possible!

Did I ever mention how much I love to travel and go places? Life is about experiencing new things and seeing as much as possible, whether it be in your backyard or a continent away. To that end, I went to Kansas City last month. It was a last minute thing and I had company (William). Kansas City is beautiful. Granted, we stayed in a very tony part of the city. But the downtown park, the mansions, restaurants and shopping were superb. I absolutely loved it. I ate way too much, that part was not good. But the rest? I thought Missouri and Kansas were simply fly-over states. If I had not gone to Kansas City, I'd still be thinking that and what a shame that would be.

On Thursday, my daughters and I are flying to Long Beach for a few days.

And in early December, I'm heading to San Francisco for the American Society of Hematologist's convention (ASH). I was admitted as a reporter and I'm so excited to go. It's a huge conference and I will learn a lot and be writing it, blogging it, and Tweeting like crazy. Three years ago, I went to this same convention but as an employee of a major company that had a large presence at the convention. And this time around, I am going as a patient and advocate. Weird how that works. I haven't been to San Francisco in eight years. William is coming with me and we are heading out a day early, staying with my college roomie Jen so we can visit, then checking into the hotel downtown the following day. It'll be a very busy but hopefully fun and rewarding five days.

We just booked a trip for Spring Break. It's a cruise to Honduras and Belize. Just weeks prior, I'll be in Fernandina Beach, Florida for the Myeloma Beach Party. And I am hoping that next summer I can somehow figure out how to live in Croatia. I really want to rent an apartment there for a month or three. Sigh-- a pipe dream? Perhaps, but I can wish and hope and dream some more, right?

And that's my Wednesday post. Cheers!