Friday, November 11, 2016

It's Hard to Know What to Say

Hello friends. It's been a while. In this post-election time period, I found myself hungry for a place to really express how I feel. Then I remembered this blog. It's going to be a long one; it may make some of you upset. That last part is not my intention. I just need to write it all out. Here goes. TL;DR version: I love all of you, and together we can be the light.

It's hard to know what to say when reality is still setting in. In the back of my mind, I had an inkling that the unthinkable could happen, that Donald Trump would be elected President. When it was actually happening, when the maps were turning red before my eyes, I couldn't take it in. It's November 11, Veteran's Day. 4 days post election. The Obamas will be in the White House until January 20. It still feels surreal. Though things are happening already as a result, there are still tons of unknowns (as there would be with any President) so it's hard to articulate.

It's hard to know what to say as a cis-gendered, hetero, white, Christian, educated, female. That last one puts me into one of the marginalized categories, but my day-to-day life hasn't been affected directly- at least not yet. When scrolling through the feed and seeing my PoC, LGBTQ, Muslim friends posting statuses that truly reflect their deep fear, what do I say? How can I, as privileged person, say the right thing? Other statuses claim that messages of love aren't enough, that action is required, a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly but makes me feel as though my expression of love is trite and unimportant. Perhaps there is no 'right' thing to say, as 'right' is dependent on each person's experience and definition. I understand my privilege, but that doesn't mean I don't also fear about access to healthcare or men thinking they are entitled to touch my body because they are simply mirroring actions of their Commander in Chief. Still, finding the words without continuing to marginalize, offend, or other wise make people feel uncomfortable is no easy feat.

It's hard to know what to say when friends whom you hold dear are on a different side. I hesitate to say 'the other side,' because that implies I truly think I am right and they are wrong. This is not the case. Disagreement and the right to vote and make one's voice heard is granted to us by virtue of the Democratic nation in which we reside. I've always enjoyed healthy debate and dialogue. To quote a friend of mine who I won't name here: "If we all had the same opinions this country would go nowhere and would be boring as hell." Truth, all of that. Again, however, it's hard to reconcile those truths against the vile, bigoted, misogynistic things Trump has said and done. Some have called for us to disown friends and family who support such a monster. How could I? How can I find the words to say how hurt I feel that they would vote for someone who so obviously doesn't care about people (and in a very dangerous way) but also that I won't abandon them? Silence will get us nowhere; I'd rather keep the conversation going. My friendships are strong enough that I can express my fear, my feelings, my disappointment in the state of affairs without damaging the relationship. We are NOT who we vote for. Certainly, if someone close to me committed a violent, bigoted act against another, that would be grounds to sever the relationship (indeed, I have done this already) but until and unless this happens, I remain connected to those who think differently and hope the words I do find don't perpetuate damage and division.

It's hard to know what to say when social media blows up with sadness, anger, and fear and you feel like you must say nothing and everything simultaneously. When staying silent seems wrong, but calling people out does too; when your opinion will always be picked apart. When it's easier to unfollow and hide things from the feed than it is to engage because you want to protect relationships and your own sanity. When that move is called cowardly. How do we speak, what do we say? Saying nothing is saying something, too.

It's hard to know what to say when you're hurting for an unrelated reason, and when you fear that talking about it will seem like trite compared to the struggles of others. On election day, right before the returns started coming in, I found out my 29 year old friend with breast cancer died. She had 3 children under 5 and a loving fiance. She couldn't fight off the pneumonia that sent her to the hospital at the end of the prior week. She is the 3rd friend of mine to die in as many years. I watched the returns that night thinking that hope and light would prevail, only to realize that I'd have two emotional blows that night. How can I find the words to articulate my feelings effectively when I just want to shout "STOP TALKING ABOUT THE ELECTION MY FRIEND DIED AND WE ARE ALL STILL ALIVE AND I FEEL GUILTY FOR COMPLAINING." It's hard to know what to say to her friends and family, who I am sure couldn't care less about who is occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave this January but feel their sadness overshadowed.

It's hard to know what to say when you are a chronic optimist (and when being so has literally saved your life) and you just want everyone to love each other and get along. When you want to smile and joke and laugh and bicker with those who think differently because human relationships fulfill you and the weight of the world is already heavy and dark and you want to be its light. It's hard to explain that I feel there is a silver lining even to this series of events (that this may be the catalyst needed for a true political revolution), that you need to find this lining because you need some hope to cling to. Being light on the subject doesn't mean I don't care; on the contrary, I care deeply and want to bring joy to those around me.

The irony of this post is not lost on me; I know I've used a lot of words to describe how hard it is to articulate my feelings. And truthfully, in writing this, I feel as though none of it is the right thing to say, and I worry that I've offended someone. If that is the case, I am sorry, but please feel you can talk to be about it. Come to think of it, anyone can talk to me about anything. I embrace all people the same; real talk is always welcome. Even if we disagree, if you are not directly harming, we can remain friends and I will hug you and we will continue forward. I legitimately love all of you, I am a safe space, and a beacon of hope.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Back From Hiatus!

This post feels a little like going to your high school reunion; you put on your best dress, roll up to the party like you own the place, open the door and shout "Hello, beautiful people!" with enthusiasm all the while secretly wondering if you anyone remembers you and wondering if you really look good or you're actually tool old to be wearing that dress.

*not me, but you get the idea
Hi. I'm back. Welcome back to those of you who are interested and loyal followers and Hello! to all new readers. There are many reasons this thing has been collecting dust for more than a year, the largest and most forgivable being graduate school. The last 16 months have been quite a ride, and I hope in later posts to explain some of why. Suffice it to say that I have remembered that this blog has been good for my soul, and that I have a lot of things to say and need a place to say them. Writing is important to me and I've lost it some recently (except for writing graduate papers, blah). I plan to be back on track with posts, especially as we gear up for a presidential election.

Stay tuned later this week for a more formal update; some of you may be surprised by what I have to say. And yes, that is intended to create suspense and encourage you to follow!

Tonight, I leave you with brilliant words from Julia Cameron's Right to Write:

"We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in."

Stay pretty,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

You Have the Right to Remain LOUD

My next post was going to be an All Things Portland one, full of happiness, food, and stellar city views. But, I need a space to work out my thoughts. And for now, this has to be the space. I need to respond to the SCOTUS decisions, and if you want to stop reading now, go ahead. I promise I won't be mad.

You have the right to remain LOUD.

I'm trying to wrap my head around what I read and heard yesterday, regarding the SCOTUS ruling on the contraception mandate and the buffer zones around clinics.  I have known from a young age that women are struggling in this country. That, though we are in the Land of the Free, we are so often NOT free. We're not free from harassment, from persecution for what we do and do not do with and for our bodies. We are not free to earn the same paycheck or respect as men. And it makes me ANGRY. Few people have ever seen me really angry. But I am ANGRY.

Everything you say can and WILL be used against you in the courts of the US, public opinion, and the media.

In 2014, we are witnessing legal decisions that make it feel like we've time-warped backwards into 1950. Sure, we don't mind if Viagra and vasectomy are covered, but an IUD? Hell no. Birth control? No way Josie! Four-hour erection pills so old white dudes can get some, TOTALLY cool. Sometimes LIFE SAVING hormones for women, who are making informed and necessary healthcare decisions for their present and future? Not a chance! Jesus would TOTALLY dig Viagra. Pregnancy prevention? We draw the line! The hypocrisy is ASTOUNDING. And speaking of hypocrisy...

A Massachusetts law regarding buffer zones outside of Planned Parenthood clinics, for the safety of patrons, was struck down from the safety and comfort of the SCOTUS' own buffer zone. That's right. Documented violence against patients, doctors, nurses, etc, that created the need for the zones in the first place is now lumped into the "Free Speech" category. Did the state of Massachusetts go about it in the wrong way? Maybe. Is it a flawed law, difficult to enforce? Probably. But the rationale for overturning it sends a message that the safety of women is not an immediate priority. It feels as though our highest court is staring evidence of violence in the face and ignoring it.  This should be alarming to absolutely everyone.

You have the right to a job (with equal pay) and an education. If you cannot obtain or afford one, each SHOULD be provided for you. 

I can't help but shudder at the breakdown of the separation of church and state. As a confirmed Episcopalian woman who is rampantly liberal and pro-choice, I struggle with those that try to change, create, or enforce laws based on religious beliefs. While I support the Freedom of Religion 100%, I cannot throw my support behind the notion of corporations as people, dictating laws based on religion. What if there is a Hobby Lobby worker who DOESN'T believe an IUD is abortion? Who had a rough pregnancy last time and cannot risk another? Who cannot afford the wildly expensive device that could prevent a dangerous and unnecessary (or even *gasp* unwanted) pregnancy? How is it okay for the upper management at HL to claim "Freedom of religion! We can't be FORCED to cover what we don't believe in" while also FORCING their beliefs on employees?

How is it "Christian" or "God's work" to harass, berate, hurt, maim, and MURDER women outside Planned Parenthood in the name of life? How is putting any life in danger being pro-life? How can we pick and choose what to believe in from the Bible, what aspects of law OR religion we practice and believe in? Can religious organizations who don't believe in anesthesia refuse to cover that? When a parent refuses medicine to their child, on religious grounds, they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as child-abusers, despite religious convictions. Because, THAT'S THE LAW. And yet, a monumental decision about healthcare coverage related to women exclusively is made on religious grounds, and the highest court of the nation, tasked with upholding our laws and constitution, says that these religious beliefs may provide exemptions from LAW? I guarantee if the issue were coverage of vasectomy procedures, it would not have yielded the same ruling. Why are we being persecuted?

If you decided to wear tight clothes, use birth control, have an abortion, be a lesbian, etc. you have the right to do so and be left alone about it.

Politicians, pundits, the general public, many of them women, are staunchly denying that we are in the midst of a war on women in this country. Though the evidence actually stares them in the face, it's deny, deny, deny. Those that acknowledge it are ignored, silenced, ridiculed and tormented. How Ruth Bader Ginsburg could sit in that room and not just scream "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?" to Alito and the like, is an example of extreme self-control and restraint. Her 35 page dissent is making headlines, thankfully, and is hopefully painting the picture of the potentially disastrous consequences of a ruling like this. I applaud her for speaking up, for being a voice.

We are fighting a war. We have to speak up, speak out, speak LOUD about our fear and confusion. We have to refuse to be considered second-class citizens. We must demand that no one can dictate what we do with our bodies except for us. We should be allowed to earn the equal pay for equal work, to get an IUD or an abortion and not be harassed and threatened for doing so; nor should we be expected to go broke protecting our bodies. We should be able to wear whatever the hell we want to, without being called a "slut," presuming we are "asking for it," or asked to cover up. Why is attention, airtime, headlines given to the argument that we are 'redefining' marriage if we support gay marriage when we have politicians and pundits redefining rape? A male politician can justify a woman going through the trauma of delivering her rapist's baby because it wasn't "forceable rape" and "every life is sacred" but that same one can't justify two men or two women who love each other getting married?

I knew before that we were in trouble; the two latest decisions of our highest court has solidified this. I am speaking up, remaining loud in the best way I can right now. Let's talk about it, let's channel RBG and voice our dissent. Let's be heard!

Knowing and understanding your rights as I have presented them, are you willing to live your best life possible, and defend your right to do so?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pro Tips: How to Succeed at the Office

I have worked in an office setting since college. Back then, it was as a work study student in various offices, finally ending up at the Financial Aid Office. Since then, I have continued to work in a professional setting. Given that I have been gainfully employed since the age of 21 (something I am immensely thankful for), I like to think of myself as successful. I have a salaried job, with actual, good, benefits. I rarely am required to work weekends (but I do sometimes, anyway; more on that later) and I have made great friends and connections in my professional life. So please, allow me to share my professional life with you, by way of some 'pro-tips' that have helped me along the way.

  • Be Organized!
Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE office supplies. I cannot go to Staples unaccompanied anymore because I will spend excessive amounts of money. I love office supplies so much because they keep me organized. Even in school, I operated with color coded notebooks, folders, and pens. Part of the reason I am so successful at work and school is because I keep things organized. If my desk suddenly becomes too cluttered, I take a break to organize and prioritize. I live and die by my to-do list, that I write each morning when I get in while drinking my coffee. And I make it a point to cross off items as I complete them. The satisfaction is wonderful. 3-ring binders are my friend. If you come to my office and it looks really messy, call a medical professional because there is something wrong.
I take color coding very seriously. Cameo by Ophelia!

  • Dress for Success
At the risk of sounding cliche: dress for the job you want, not the job you have! I know, I know. It IS cliche, but it is also true. When, like me, you are one of the youngest in your office, (or your field, for that matter) it is important to take it up a notch, fashion wise. Whether the dress code where you work is as simple as "no pjs, gym clothes or jeans (except on Fridays)" or as complex as mandatory suit and tie or business casual, it's important to look polished and professional. Even my casual Friday outfits convey a professional look. I work at a university, so I have to be sure to set myself apart from the students. It's not enough to be clean, have dangerous skin covered and be comfortable. First impressions matter, and I operate by this thought process: If I went into an office or business and saw someone who worked there, wearing this, what would I think? It actually helps!

An example of a Maria work-day look! 
  • Be Friendly AND Polite (F&P)
These may seem obvious. They may seem like the same thing. But they are not always obvious and while they go hand in hand, are not the same thing. When I tell you to be F&P, I mean to both your colleagues AND your customers. This goes beyond the 'be a team-player' and 'treat others as you would want to be treated' though, those are both important things. While I am not always F&P (because I am not a robot, nor am I perfect), I try 100% of the time to be F&P in all walks of life. Even if I am having the crappiest day ever, when I answer the phone, I turn on my F&P switch. My favorite way to be F&P on the phone:
I answer with "This Maria, how can I help you today?" and smile while on the phone; though they cannot see it, your pitch and tone change when you are smiling, and they will sense it. The smile really makes a difference. It changes my whole body language, and it makes calls much smoother.

You can be polite without being friendly. And polite, by itself, is just fine usually. But I don't like to settle for just fine. Even on my difficult calls about money (which happen almost daily in my world) I still smile, use the persons name, and take a friendly tone. It makes a world of difference. I've been told I am good at "diffusing tension." I have no big secret for this, except for always trying to be F&P.

  • Work Hard
I have reached my level not because I have credentials and experience, but because I give everything my all. I've never been a bare-minimum kind of girl. Coming in and doing just what is expected of me and then leaving just isn't possible, and my work ethic has resulted in promotions and raises. I learn, I ask questions. I go above and beyond. I work on weekends and bring work home with me during the busy season because it's important to the students. This is not to say I nail it every time or that I don't occasionally slack off; again, human! But a strong work ethic transcends age, experience, etc.

  • Take Care of Yourself
This one is key. It's the same thing we hear all the time; eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep. But seriously, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I know that if I am feeling hungry because I forgot breakfast (which always turns into hangry and hangry is good for NO ONE) or sluggish because I haven't slept well, I don't perform as well at my job. I used to work my 8+ hour day eating breakfast and lunch (or one loooong meal all day) while sitting at my desk working. Whole work days would go by without going out side or even standing up longer than to go the bathroom. And as someone with bad joints, this is a huge no-no. I've started going to the gym on my lunch break. It kills two birds with one stone; it gets me away from my desk, and gets the gym done and out of the way! I still eat at my desk, but I am getting up, walking outside across campus, working out, and coming back. It drastically changed my days. I do this about 3 times a week; sometimes when it's nice out I swap one of the gym days for a nice long walk outside in the cemetery adjacent to campus. It's revitalizing. We all read articles about how the 9-5 office grind is slowly killing us, and I'm not going to let that happen.  You shouldn't either. And, if you're not keen to go to the gym mid day, at least take a walk outside, so some stretching, get coffee (outside the office), etc. Your body, brain, and boss will thank you for it!

I do not presume to be the most successful person, nor do I want to tell you how to do your job, but this is what has worked for me and as I have some readers just entering or re-entering the workforce, it seemed like a post worth writing.

What are some of your pro-tips?

Friday, May 23, 2014

On Being a Grown-Up

I can vividly remember being in middle school, or younger, even, and thinking that twenty somethings were so grown-up and so with it* and I was certainly never, ever going to get there. (*Emphasis added for childhood angst). My 13 year old self would look at someone my age and think "Man, there's a grown-up! She's probably so cool and has lots of money and a husband and dammit I wish I was her age!" Twenty-somethings were surely, in my mind, the pinnacle of cool adulthood. And at that young, impressionable age, it felt like I would never get here, to almost twenty-eight. But here I am, in what seems like the blink of an eye (I hate cliches but it's the most applicable phrase for how quickly it seems to have gone) and I'm still trying to figure out if I am a grown-up. Or rather, what it means to be a grown-up.

Legally of course, I am an adult. I can vote, smoke (though I don't) purchase and drink alcohol (I don't even get carded anymore), purchase insurance at a rate that isn't ridiculous, rent a car, buy a house, BUY a car, stay up late, eat ice cream for dinner, etc.etc. I have a 'big-girl' job that I work 8-5, with a salary and benefits, a car, a husband, a college degree and I just applied to get another one. I am expected to pay my bills and am of perfect child bearing age (NOT PREGNANT). By all accounts, legal and semantic, I am an adult. But, am I a grown-up?

'Grown-up' conjures in my mind a few specific things. Surely, we knew our parents were grown-ups (though, not grown-ups like I perceived twenty-somethings to be), and if our younger selves had to describe a grown-up we would say things like "old," "tall," "big," "boys with beards," "girls have boobies" etc. etc. We were taught to both fear and trust grown-ups, (stranger grown-ups might not be safe, but police and firemen are also grown-ups who are also strangers but you can actually trust them HOLY CRAP HOW DID WE EVER SURVIVE?!) to respect and listen to them, to strive to one day be an 'upstanding' one, whatever that meant. I'm not sure when the word "adult" becomes part of a child's vernacular. Perhaps it's easier for us to understand "grown-up" because we are told that we are growing! I think I would have thought adults were REALLY grown-up. Like, old people. Or maybe the term just seamlessly changed as I got older. "Act like an adult!" Got it. I know what that means.

I know that children see me as a grown-up (or at least I think they do), that I don't always feel like a grown-up (see ice cream for dinner) and that I've still got a lot of growing-up to do. I know that I can look at people in my age group and see both mature, well adjusted adults, and peers who act childish (or, what I perceive to be childish). I know that people have said to me. (I'm the first to say it of myself!) that I had to "grow-up too fast" because of the hand life dealt me, but that even though I demonstrated grown-up behaviors like cooking and cleaning, I don't ever recall feeling like one. I was a kid who did what I needed to do. Looking back on it now, I know that I was basically a mini-adult some of the time, but I was a kid in all the ways that mattered.

And now. Now I am approaching thirty, a walking, talking grown-up. I'm realizing that time is whizzing by and I need to make more time for me, more time for fun, more time to let loose! Maybe I'm not ready to be a grown-up yet. Perhaps tonight I'll stay up too late, eat cookies for dinner and say "nah nah na booboo' to my responsibilities. Who's with me?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Life & Lumps: A Public Service Announcement

Welcome to the new version of my blog! It was time to reinvent, revitalize, and refocus! A Hip Story started as a chronicle of my joint disorder and has morphed into a real expression of who I am, what I like, what I think, and how I live. This will now be more of a lifestyle blog; about my life here in Portland, things I love, being an (almost) thirty-something, professional woman and anything else that I feel like writing about! Please note the new URL; be sure to update your link, bookmark, etc. Welcome, welcome back, and please leave feedback in the comments!

Now that the business is taken care of, let me get down to the heart of the matter. A little more than a month ago, I got a really scary wake-up call. Now that I have the all clear, and have had time to digest it all with my husband, family, and close friends, I realize I need to write about it. For closure, for therapy, and for all of you. Because it's really important. Normally you might think this is a TLDR post, but you should read it.

On April 10, 2014, Ethan found a lump in my left breast. In the interest of full disclosure, allow me to say that a) my breasts are naturally pretty lumpy, b) I'm (fairly) good about self-exams, and c) my doctor actually said "Let your husband do it. Two birds, one stone." Boy, am I glad he 'checked,' that day. I was in bed that night, reading a novel about a young woman (31), at the height of her career, who is diagnosed with breast cancer. It reminded me that I hadn't checked in a while. Naturally, I ask Ethan to give me a feel. "What's that?" he asks. Haha, NOT FUNNY, I say. "Babe, no, really, what's that?" And sure enough, there it was. A pea-size lump that was very one of these things is not like the other. Instant panic.

Cancer runs in my family. My mom died of it, though hers was not breast. But other women in the family have had it, and my mom's best friend died of it, a few years before she did. I've always been afraid of it. And there I was, playing out all the bad scenarios in my head. I 9-1-1ed my closest girlfriends. What could this be? You had cysts, right? I Googled it (ALWAYS the wrong thing to do. ALWAYS). Thankfully, I already had an appointment with my lady-doctor the very next day for something routine. Which is so fortunate, because there's no way on God's green that I would have seen anybody that fast. Already, I thought hoped someone up there was looking out for me.

The lady-doctor did her checking and then I told her. At first, she couldn't find it, but when she landed on it, her facial expression changed, and I took it to mean "THIS IS THE WORST, BUY A COFFIN" because I am a worrier. She suggested because of the location, and family history, that we get an ultrasound to assess the lump. "Can we do it tomorrow?" "Should I just cut them off now?" "Maybe it will go away if I ignore it." These are all the things I thought in that moment. And in all the moments of waiting. Because there was a lot of waiting. A LOT. And that's just the worst. Because I am my own worst enemy.

Enter: Breast Care Center in Scarborough, a division of Maine Med. I need to take a minute to tell you about this amazing place. Every person, all of them, from reception to physicians, were extraordinary. Kind, patient, sweet. I have never been treated better by any physician's office ever ever.. I suppose, due to the nature of what they deal with, they have to be that way, and it takes a special person to do that work. But it made the process so much easier.

So, I'm there meeting with a Nurse Practitioner. An amazingly sweet lady. I lay down on the exam table and she says on the ultrasound we will see one of three things. We will see nothing, which means it's breast tissue and nothing to worry about. We'll see a cyst, which is also nothing to worry about. Or, we'll see a solid mass. And the only way to know what those are, is to biopsy. Somewhere, in the pit of my belly, I know it's option three.

I do not let Ethan leave my side. He acts strong for me, but I know he too, is terrified. We go into the ultrasound room. I had hoped the first time we'd be in a place like this together is listening to our baby's heartbeat. Instead, I am in an ugly johnny, open in the front, exposing myself to the world and looking at the inside of my boob on the ultrasound machine. It's not very interesting, just a lot of white stuff until BAM. There it is. My lump. E and I took to referring to it as "The Target." The Target has been found, the Target has been scanned. It looked like I thought it might; a near perfectly round black void in all the white. There it was. The radiologist was going to look at it right then and tell me. The NP finally comes back and says "we think it's a fibroadenoma, a benign solid mass." Think was not going to be good enough for me. She says "we can wait six months, ultrasound again, and biopsy if we need to. Or biopsy now, which is the only way to confirm 100%. " She gave me her card because I was to overwhelmed to say anything at that moment.

I knew I wouldn't feel truly at ease until I knew for sure it was benign. So, we scheduled a biopsy. More waiting. Visions of gigantic needles stabbing my boob fill my thoughts. By this time, it's been more than two weeks since lump-gate. Everyone tells me I am doing the right thing getting the biopsy. I agree. Finally, the day arrives. Again, more exposure, ugly johnny, but this time there is an ENTOURAGE of people in the room. Me, Ethan, the nurse, the radiologist and an MD. I'm not sure I've flashed that many people at one time. Maybe in college. Unlikely. The GOOD news is, the radiologist was super hot, so at least if I am about to be stabbed repeatedly in my boob, it would be by a good looking, charming man. I remember saying to E before everyone arrived "I hope the radiologist isn't a dude. It would be weird." But then I saw him, and it was okay. The biopsy itself wasn't terrible. The worst part was the SOUND. This awful plastic click, like those annoying clapper things you get at sporting events, but louder and more gun-like. I didn't watch the needle. Ethan did. Bless his heart. They had to get THREE samples. By the third one, I felt the pressure of the needle, but thankfully no pain. The Target has been probed. The Target has been tested.

They sent me home (back to work, because, what else am I to do) with an ice pack. I had to shove said ice pack into my bra for 15 minutes every hour.  I'm pretty sure my left nipple will always be a little hard, because of all that ice contact. The worst part? I had to SLEEP WITH MY BRA ON that night. Because, the day wasn't punishing enough. The BCC called the next day to check in on me, again a measure of how wonderful they are.

Forty-eight hours later, nearly 4 weeks after The Target was discovered, I got a call from the NP. The fibroadenoma was confirmed. No negative cells. Benign. Come back in 6 months for a follow-up.  I basically cried right there in my office. Relief. Epic relief.

The Target is benign. 

I am young, the odds it was cancer were slim, though less so for me than for others with no cancer in the family tree. But I tell you what, I was scared to death, and so was my husband. So, here's what I learned/realized:

-Fibroadenomas are common in women my age. They can be related to hormones/hormonal changes.
-I will remain diligent about my health; eating right, exercise. I want to always be ready to fight off something bad, just in case.
-I have an AMAZING support system. I have the best friends, family, co-workers. I told a couple people I work with, one of whom sent me a very nice card during the stretches of waiting, which I received via campus mail on a particularly trying day. You all mean more to me than you know.
-I will check myself always, and have Ethan check often as well. I will not let more than a week go by without hands on boobs. I can't, now. I won't. You shouldn't either.

So, ladies, before you go to bed tonight, give yourself a breast-exam. Or let your partner. Or both. If you're a dude reading this, remind the ladies you love to check themselves, and offer to help (unless it's your mom or sister or something, but whatever I don't judge).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Award!

My friend Tracey, new to the blogosphere (check her out over at Run For Fun), nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thanks, pretty lady!

The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers, by other bloggers with the intention of connecting the community and bringing new visitors to blogs with fewer followers OR to a blog you love! While I'm not new to the game, new followers are always welcome, so I am so honored Tracey thought of Hip Story! It's sort of a publicity meets chain letter meets tell us about yourself. And I can't wait to dive in!

Here's how it works:
The rules are that I will answer the 10 questions that Tracey gave us (the blogs she nominated)- then I will nominate a bunch of blogs and ask them questions!  The bloggers that I nominate have to link back here- hence spreading the love!

 Game on!

1. Why did you start blogging? 
This is a great question! Nearly 4 years ago, I needed to have surgery on my left hip. I was born with hip dysplasia, and have had PT off and on for probably more than a decade. In 2008 & 2009 the pain had become so bad, I needed a surgical option. Not replacements (yet) but something to ease the bone on bone grinding. A coworkers suggested I blog about the experience. It's evolved, for sure, but that's why I started!
Not Maria's actual x-rays, though, mine are pretty dope


2. Who, what, and/or where does your blogging inspiration come from? 
Initially, as I discussed above, the inspiration was my chronically bad joints. As the healing process drew to a close, I wanted to keep writing/blogging. Now, lots of things inspire me. I use this as a medium to talk about whatever interests me, from current events, to products, to stories about my life. Things and people I think are hip. ;)
3. If the moon was made out of cheese, would you eat it?
Without hesitation. Cheese is one of my main food groups. Sorry, science, but if the moon was made of cheese, I'd be on it like Armstrong.
4. What time of day do you write the best content for your blog? 
Evening, unless something strikes me at a certain moment. Sometimes, when I am trying to fall asleep (and my brain flicks into thinking mode because it likes to betray me) something will occur to me. I've been known to get up out of bed and grab the computer and start a draft. So I don't lose the idea. Sometimes I realize in the morning that they were just shit, but occasionally, GOLD, JERRY!
5. What is your favorite quote?
I have so many favorite words. Sometimes, my favorite changes based on what's going on in my life. One that has always resonated with me is: "There are four questions of value in life... What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love." -Johnny Depp It just resonates with me. He's so wise. I bet he was looking all wise, smoking, when he said this. Like this:
Johnny Depp? More like Johnny DEEP.
6. What is the best thing about you? 
This is an interesting question! I'm trying to think about what others would say. I'm very kind; I have a big heart. I cry at movies, TV, commercials, books. Happy, sad, doesn't matter. My dad says it's because I have a big heart.  I always give a 100% to friendships and relationships (even when it backfires, and even if I get nothing in return). It's a blessing and a curse. :)
7. What makes you laugh out loud? 
So many things!! I love to laugh. Puns get me a lot. My husband makes me laugh a lot too. Something got us going recently, I can't recall exactly what. But we both had tears of laughter running down our faces. I think it was something about changing the ending of a movie. We laugh a lot. Also, silly things from Pinterest (I made a "funnies" board because I found so many lol-worthy things!).
8. If you were the main character in a movie, which actress would you want to play your role?  
Is it totally cliche of me to say Jennifer Lawrence? I know she's everyone's favorite (for obvious reasons) but I think we could be besties. She loves food, she doesn't take shit from anyone, she's hilarious and kind. I think she could play me pretty well; she's clumsy too, and silly. I mean, she says stuff like this. I'm pretty sure she took the words right out of my mouth!

9. What did you want to be when you were a child? 
A teacher! I was one of those nerdy kids who always wanted to 'play school.' I was ALWAYS the teacher. My mom was a teacher, and right up through sophomore year of college, I was pretty convinced I would be one. I was going to teach high-school English and that would be my life. Oh, how things change! I never aspired to be a dancer, or a movie star or anything like that. I even went as a teacher for Halloween once! My mom put me in an old  tweed skirt suit, gave me a bun and put powder in my hair. I carried a briefcase to put candy in. Oh my god. That's so lame. 
10. What was your favorite class in High School?
Nerd alert: I liked school. I was one of those raise-your-hand-are-you-collecting-the-homework school lovers (see #9) a la Hermione Granger. Hard to pick just one favorite, but I took an Issues in American Government class, with the dopest teacher ever, Mr. Beauparlant. He was this boisterous, loud dude with a sweet mustache who RADIATED a love of social studies. He referred to us as Miss. or Mister (Miss Kovacs, then) and demanded we work hard, but was also funny and engaging. 
Alright, that was fun! Now, to my nominations!
 -Mallory, who has a great story to tell over at Curb Cuts and Cocktails
-Adam's D.C., travel, and cycling musings: Mainer In a Strange Land 
-Brenda's fantastically foodie Aesthetic Dalliances
 And your questions:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What's your favorite vacation spot?
3. If you could have dinner with any one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
4. Who or what inspires you?
5. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
6. What is your favorite childhood memory?
7.  Have you ever had a moment of divine intervention? (or fate, sheer dumb luck, whatever you want to call it)
8. Which person in your life makes you laugh the most?
9. What's your favorite book? And because this is hard, you aren't limited to just one. Or just 5. :)
10. You can have three wishes granted from a magical genie. What are they?

Tracey, thanks again for nominating me. Mal, Adam and Brenda, I look forward to your answers!