Almost there

In three days, I start my radioactive iodine treatment. Here’s what I’ve been up to medically leading up to this (super abbreviated version):

Tests, appointments, lost a lymph node or two that did NOT have cancer (yay!), more tests, more appointments, stopping medications, starting new ones, going through complete thyroid hormone withdrawals.  Now I am completing a 14 day low iodine diet to deplete the iodine in my system before RAI treatment.

So why the radioactive iodine treatment? They hope all of this will make my body so starved for iodine that when they give me the liquid iodine, the cancer cells  being in starvation mode for iodine will quickly gobble up the radioactive iodine so the radiation can kill all of the cancer that is hanging out in my lungs.  ( Whew, that’s a mouthful).

Side effects: Nausea, (already happening and booo!) fatigue, dry mouth, metal taste in mouth,  possibly destroyed salivary glands if I don’t drink enough fluids, possible (but very low) risk for leukemia.

So before all of this was to go down, I vowed to have the most fun of my life. I asked God for three things: The energy to keep up with everything, the ability to go to Tahoe and the ability to support my track team down at the Angel City Games in LA. God honored all of those requests.

The month of June, I started out in Tahoe at the No Barriers Summit loving life. I got to try adaptive cycling, boxing, archery (a new love of mine), did an abbreviated version of The Amazing Race, and met some amazing people along the way.

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Team 5 Thunderwomen!

 

The trip was such a blessing. I got to spend my birthday doing the things that I loved. I also got closer to one of my friends, who I am sure had she not been there, the weekend would have not been as great.

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In the middle of all that: work, friends church, life, repeat. Also going on: growing fatigue, forgetfulness, brain fog, mood swings…all signs that my body was going hypothyroid on me. I vowed not to let it stop me. To keep going. To suck it up and push through.

God whispered: It’s okay to take a little rest. Seriously. It’s okay. A nap once in a while won’t hurt.

Me: I AM IRON MAN BLENDED WITH TREX!!! ARRRRRR!

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God: “Okay…”

I ended this epic month with a trip down to LA with our track team for the Angel City Games. These kids broke national records, broke barriers, brought home  countless medals and wowed the adaptive track/ field world with their awesomeness.  The coaches worked hard and sacrificed their Saturday mornings to get these kids here and it paid off huge! It was so fun to be with these kids, my friends and watch them do so well for their first time. It was truly an unforgettable weekend and I am glad I got to be a part of it.

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God gave me one more final gift, to spend time with one of my closest friends before treatment since I would be unable to interact with her during that time (more on that below). It was such a nice time to relax and be with a friend who has been such a huge support through all of this. What I only intended to be just a few hours, ended up being a whole day. I am so thankful.

When it was all over…the fatigue hit. Hard. Then came the sickness. The constant sickness. I prayed to God to give me the strength to finish out strong. To keep going. To be unstoppable. To be bigger than cancer, my body, my weakness.

God said no.

“God, I am almost there. Just a few more days left. I need more energy.”

“No girl, you need a nap.”

So we argued.

Me: “But I am Wonder Woman.”

God: “I get that, but Wonder Woman sleeps too, ya know? No one will blame you if you need a little time. You are not slacking. You are not taking advantage. You can not overpower what your body needs and right now it needs rest. It’s hard, I know but you need to slow down and rest so you can recover properly.”

So I gave in. The world did not end. People were not hurt. Things did not come crashing down.

The only thing I received was a much needed nap, love and so much grace.

Throughout this whole thing, I’ve received so much grace and love from others. People have come out of the woodwork just to show me how loved I am. I’ve had friends move their lives around to attend my medical appointments, invite me into their homes before and after my surgeries so I could recover. I’ve had coworkers step up to make sure I had what I needed and remove things from my plate so that I would not feel overwhelmed. I’ve had family members drive up just to spend the day with me.  I’ve had friends talk me down off the ledge when I spent too much time on Google and accidentally freaked myself out. I’ve had countless people pray for me, Christian and non Christian.

I went into this feeling that cancer was a curse. That this was the worse possible thing to have happen. That without my mom, I’d fight this alone.

I was so wrong.

I had no idea coming out of this that I would feel like cancer was a blessing. God used this to show me the love and grace of others. That I am not alone. That I am loved. So loved. I didn’t even ask for this, and God provided. I am so glad he did.

Thank you all who’ve been there for me. I can never repay you. Through God, you are the reason I made it this far.  He used you to combat a lie I told myself: I am alone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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So on the 5th of July, I start treatment. For three days, I have to limit my time with people and can be no less than 6 feet away from others. ( To the people who have offered to build me giant bubbles or build giant signs or give me ideas for what to do with my new radioactive powers; you are my favorite).

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It would have been so fun to do life in a bubble for three days. Sweaty but fun!

After that, I have to remain up to three feet away from children and women who have children or are pregnant for four more additional days. I can’t work during this time so I get to catch up on sleep, reading, movies, and finish up planning for my Italy trip. Then I go in for another scan on the 11th to see if the treatment is working. I will know for certain September 28th if the cancer is gone. God willing, it will be.

So that’s it. That’s my life up until now. Next update will be my final itinerary for my Italy trip. I can’t believe thats’s like two months away.

Till then, love you all!

 

 

Thanksgiving Top 30…actually 10.

Around this time of year, I miss my mother tons. I always will. The plus side to her passing is not only do I have these awesome memories of the times we spent together during the holidays, I also get to make new memories with others and be a part of their family. It’s pretty cool.

So with November ending, and December being practically tomorrow, I figured I share some of my favorite Thanksgiving  memories. I’m going to try to share 30 of them for each day in November…the operational word in this sentence is TRY.

Okay, so it’ll be more like ten.

Here we go:

10. The thanksgiving my sister fell down the stairs.

This is kind of an awful one to start with, but it is still one of my favorites. My mom invited my aunt over, and had spent hours preparing this huge meal. It smelled amazing and WE WERE STARVING. (Sampling the food while it cooked was a crime punishable by being smacked with a soup spoon…on the knuckles). Just before my aunt was to start the thanksgiving blessing, my sister decides to run upstairs to grab something.

Note: We had been sitting around for hours just chatting and NOW she chooses to leave the table as we are about to start eating? I think we all wanted to murder her.

My mother dangerously close to giving into the rumblings of her belly, yelled for her to hurry up or we would start praying without her. As my sister starts to shout for us to wait, we are all interrupted by a loud shriek and then several loud thuds with the loudest ending with a groan. Do we jump up and race to the stairs in concern? No. We laugh. Hard. Then run to the stairs.

Carpeted stairs are evil folks.
Carpeted stairs are evil folks.

There my sister lay, at the bottom of the stairs, groaning that she had probably hurt her butt and arm. We laugh harder and help her up. As my aunt gives the blessing, I am being smacked and my mother whispers that “God is going to get you” because I can’t stop laughing during prayer. The best part? My mother would randomly repeat the sound my sister made falling down the steps throughout dinner. And God’s supposed to get me, right?

We aren’t terrible people. We just find falling really funny in my family.

9. My first thanksgiving without my gallbladder.

I got my gallbladder removed when I was 21. It completely changed my diet to fat free EVERYTHING and took me a long time to adjust. My mom wanted to make sure that I did not feel left out of the gorge fest that was thanksgiving, so she revamped our menu.

Mom: Alexis, I am making the slides completely healthy this year. No butter in the yams, smoked turkey in the greens and black eyed peas, salad, fresh fruit and  vanilla soy milk in the mac and cheese.

Me: Okay, mom you really didn’t have to do all that. I’ll be fine. Also vanilla soy milk sounds terrible in mac and cheese. You know they have original right?

Mom: It’ll be fine. We’re eating it. I bet I start a trend…vanilla mac and cheese. You’ll wish you came up with it.

I honestly think she picked this because blue was her favorite color.
I honestly think she picked this because blue was her favorite color.

My mom plates our healthy meal, we pray and we all sample the mac and cheese first. My mom looks at me and says: “This is really terrible. You’ll just have to eat healthy all year and cheat on thanksgiving.”

8.  My mother guarding the turkey EVERY thanksgiving.

As mentioned earlier, my mom guarded her turkey like rabid dog. My sister and I made several attempts to sample the bird she prepared; each attempt ended in sore knuckles. My sister and I would try anything, crawling, hiding in the pantry, fake deaths. Nothing would sway here from her purpose: protecting that turkey from our greedy hands. Just when we thought the coast was clear and we were oh so close from picking a juicy piece off that turkey,  she would come out of no where, spoon in hand.

I still flinch when I see someone brandishing one of these.
I still flinch when I see someone brandishing one of these.

We finally got smart and hid the spoon. She upgraded to spatula. It was just a losing battle.

7. Every thanksgiving prayer with my Aunt Val.

My Aunt Val loved to bless the meals. She had beautiful prayers…LONG beautiful prayers that were more like sermons. My sister and I would ALWAYS get in trouble when my aunt prayed. We fidgeted. We made faces that we thought no one could see.  My aunt would start praying, and after a minute or so, my hand was getting pinched. Or my sisters. I could never figure out how my mother knew, but she knew. I’d open my eyes a little and see that my mothers eyes were closed, but she ALWAYS knew.

My prayer request, that this prayer moves faster so we can eat.
My prayer request, that this prayer moves faster so we can eat.

Side note: Aunt Val…we love you. We apologize for what we did in hunger; smelling all that food for hours on end and not being able to devour it until after prayer was torture for us kids. We hope you didn’t notice.

6. The thanksgiving my mom let me make my own pumpkin pie.

My mom normally cooked the entire meal by herself. As we got older, she reluctantly released her kung fu grip over that meal and let us help. My mom put me in charge of the pies, and I wanted to make a pumpkin pie. After I finished the sweet potato, I started on the pumpkin pies. Thinking the pie filling came pre-sweetened in the can, I just dumped the contents of can into the pie crust. It was the nastiest pie we’d ever eaten (my mom made us eat it) and got pumpkin pie banned from our house for a few years.

They should really put, "seasoning not included" on the can.
They should really put, “seasoning not included” on the can.

5. The thanksgiving football orange juice incident.

My mom was a diehard football fan.  DIEHARD COWBOYS FAN to be exact. Often, our neighbors would come over concerned that someone had fallen or injured themselves from all the screaming that came from our house. Once they found out it was my mother cheering in joy or screaming in agony over a football play, they would roll their eyes and ask us to keep it down.

I was the only person in our household, our family, that was NOT a fan of the Cowboys. I would poke and prod my mother during every interception, missed catch, failed touchdown, etc. One year, my mom got so fed up by my jeering and attempt to turn the channel during the Cowboys game, I got orange juice poured over my head.

I learned to run and made sure no drinks were nearby during Cowboys games.

4. The thanksgiving I met my older siblings.

In March 2006, I got a call during my spring break from Rochelle, my oldest sister from my dads first marriage. We had been looking for them for years and had given up any hope of finding them. When I moved to VA later that year for an internship, I knew I had to see them.

It was a blast.

I got sample chitlins for the first (and last) time. My brother made his first fried turkey and I got to eat it.  I got to see where I was born and where my mom and dad were married. I met my nieces, nephews, step siblings and cousins. I met so many family members that I never knew I had and they were so welcoming.  It’s something I prayed for a very long time.

My nephew, completely knocked out after we stuffed our faces. So cute.
My nephew, completely knocked out after we stuffed our faces. So cute.

3. The first thanksgiving after my mom passed.

My sister and I made plans to be together for thanksgiving and she planned on coming to Fresno.  My roommate at the time offered to let us spend turkey day with her…but she was a little nuts (well a LOTTLE nuts). My friend Tara thankfully had also offered and her mother, Laura, is very similar to my mother. So, I accepted the invitation and we had dinner with the Hodges…and Darin.

My sister educated Darin (who I barely knew at the time) on black  stereotypes and shared stories about me with the rest of the dinner guests. Darin chucked Tobblerones all over Laura’s living room to her horror. Tara, Darin, my sister and I took a mini Thanksgiving road trip. There was a lot of laughter, teasing,  awesome food and I didn’t really think about how much I missed my mother. My sister loved it too.

I don't exactly remember why this picture was taken, but it happened.
I don’t exactly remember why this picture was taken, but it happened.

2. The year my mom spent thanksgiving with me in Fresno.

The costs of cancer treatment caused us to lose pretty much everything. My first year of grad school, I gained my mother as a roommate for a few months. My mom wanted everything from her original menu, black eyed peas, ham hocks, neck bones, collards, mac and cheese, the works. The downside is, I had limited knowledge of the Fresno area, and I wasn’t too sure that we would find everything she wanted.

Our search took us to a Vons (Safeway) on Champlain and Perrin.

Pretty sure we won't find ox tails here...
Pretty sure we won’t find ox tails here…

One look at our surroundings, I knew we were not going to find what she was looking for.

Me: Mom, I don’t think we will find what you are looking for here.

Mom: Why not? This end of town is really nice for Fresno. I’m sure they offer a bigger variety.

Me: You know that’s not true and we won’t find ox tails here.

Mom: (Loudly)  I’m not getting shot today, Alexis. We are NOT going to Fresno’s ghetto. This may be the white part of town, but at least we won’t be robbed.

Me: (Face palm)

After several stores, we ended up finding a Winco in Clovis that had everything she wanted. We made an awesome meal for my friends and we did not get “shot”.

I should mention that my mom was NOT a huge Fresno fan.

1. The thanksgiving my mother “prepared”  dinner from her bed.

This was my last thanksgiving with mom. My mom went through chemo and radiation during the holidays. She was sick, but she was determined for us to have a good meal and she was determined to eat it. My sister did most of the cooking, but we managed to make the entire meal with my mom shouting recipes from her bed. The meal was delicious. The only thing that did not make it was the black eyed peas that my sister burnt beyond recognition.

It was really this bad.
It was really this bad.

My mom cracked on those black eyed peas the entire meal, but she was proud of us. It was a great meal, and it gave me a new respect for my sister. We’d been through a lot that year, and had a lot of loss, but in that moment it didn’t matter because we were together.

Burnt black eyed peas and all :).

Day 7: A Mom I Can Borrow

Kinda scattered today, and left my laptop at work. So I’m doing my gratitude journal from my phone. I hope it posts!

Today was nuts, soooo I really needed an ear just so I could vent about the craziness I encountered all day. I yelled at God about them, not that I was angry with Him, I just needed to yell. Although, it was mostly in my mind :p

Once I was done I asked my friend’s mom if I could talk to her about my day. For me, that is huge. It felt weird to call some one just to vent as I reserved that job for my mom. Well shes no longer here, so I’m learning to make God my person. It’s a work in progress.

Every now and then, I just need a person to talk to. A person to fill that mom role.
To allow someone else to take that role, even if it was for a bit, was kinda scary for me. I always worry that I’m burdening them with my problems. I knew that I would just fester with todays happenings and not sleep, so I reached out. I am so glad I did. I feel tons better.

So today, I’m thankful that I was able to put aside my pride and tell someone about my troubles. I’m thankful to have friends whose parents are so awesome, they treat me like one of their own :).

Run Your Race

The past two weeks have been amazing.

My first weekend I traveled to Fresno to see friends and family. I had a blast.  Saturday, I went to the Greek fest, got to know a friend a little better, ate awesome greek food and learned that the “talk like a pirate card”  may be one of the worst things ever created.

Best game ever, even when you get scurvy and become a slave.

The rest of my time there, I got to cook with some of my favorite people, finally experienced the awesomeness that is La Parisienne, hung out in Kingsburg Lady and the Tramp style and got chased by a ton of wild zombie geese (not really zombies, but still just as frightening). It was a great trip home, and I hated to leave.

I love Fresno. It’s home. It will always be home. It took leaving to realize what a great place it is.3 The city isn’t extraordinary itself, but the people are amazing. This last trip confirmed for me that it’s where I am supposed to be. So today, I am sending out my application to a few of the job inquiries I’ve received over the past few months. I’ve been afraid to do it, but now…I know it’s where I am supposed to be. I’ll keep you all posted on how things turn out.

My second weekend was spent in Anaheim where I finished my first half marathon. It took me 3hr and 27 minutes to do it, but I finished. One of the happiest moments of my life was seeing that Finish banner hanging overhead. To cross that finish line had to one of my top ten favorite moments.

A sight for sore eyes. And legs. And feet…especially feet.

The crazy thing is, I almost bailed. I got hit with a ton of stress and a nasty bout of depression a month before race time. My training practically stopped. A week before the race, I found out my race partner got hurt. I figured this was a sign to just give up and bail, but then I pictured telling everyone that I was not going to go through with it. I couldn’t see myself facing everyone knowing that I gave up. I called a friend last minute, asked her to join me for race weekend and ended up having the time of my life.

Beyond happy in this moment.
And in this moment…
Especially in this moment. I love the beach 🙂

I learned so much about myself this weekend. I am stronger than I could ever imagine.  Whenever I feel weak, or feel like I am a failure, I’ll remember this past weekend. I can accomplish anything I set my mind on. Thirteen point freaking one, baby!

Despite what  life throws at you, you have to run your race.

Thank you to everyone who supported me. Thank you God for pushing me to know my worth and place my faith in you to finish. Thank you to Kyesha for motivating me to sign up for this race. Thank you to Cynde for taking a very last road trip with me. Last but not least, thank you Mom. This one was for you.

Finally done. Love ya Mom!

On to the next one…

We’re not 21 anymore…

Been in a funk for a while, and a friend mentioned that I should try to write again. So I am giving it a shot.

I recently had a night out with the girls and it was a blast.

Knowing that we all love to dance, one of my friends decided that we should get together and have a girls night filled with dancing in Scottsdale. It’s hard for all of us to get together at the same time . We have conflicting schedules and one friend works at night. Thankfully, the gods smiled down on all of us and granted us time to get together. We decided on Friday night and booked a hotel room to so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving home after all the festivities.

Our awesome crash spot.

It’s been quite a while since I last hit the club scene. I had the perfect outfit, but the way I’d been feeling all week, I know I needed a boost.  Wanting to look good after a long day of talking to psychiatric patients and somewhat feeling like one, I headed over to Sephora after work to buy some foundation.

Unlike my sister and most girls my age, I have no idea what to do when it comes to make up. While most girls were busy playing in their mothers makeup, I was climbing tress, jumping off of tall buildings with trash bags and fishing out of my mothers fish tank. I’d thought I’d catch the makeup bug once I hit my teens, but I never took to it. It was too much work and time, and when I did manage to put some on, I ended up looking like a clown.

I’ve been guilty of this.

So, I avoid it.

I can do the basics: foundation, mascara,  BASIC eyeshadow (on a good day) and lip gloss. Anything out side of that is a disaster. Last time I tried something outside of my realm, fake eyelashes, I glued my eye shut.

So with that background, and wanting to do something fun, I knew I’d need help. It took a salesperson two minutes to figure out that I was out of my realm, and I landed an awesome makeover. Thank you Oliver.

You took me from this:

To this:

After the makeover, I met the girls at the hotel, got dressed, went to dinner and headed out to the clubs. The last time we all went out together in Scottsdale, we were 21, and I remember having a pretty good time. Axis Radius is great because it has two sides: one for hip hoppers like me, and another side for those who like to dance to house music.  It was the last place we visited, so we decided to start there.

I think we were all expecting this:

Notice how they are actually dancing…

Instead, we got this…

Oooo, what is this light? What does it mean?

Ummm…

Now granted, I know it’s been eight years since I’ve visited this place, but wow have things changed. The hip hop room is now this weird dub step/ trance room where people all face the same way, watch a screen with several super random scenes, and they would suddenly start pointing/swaying/ seizing to the music. Very odd, yet entertaining.

Occasionally the music would give commands. For example:

(BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM) “You will clear your mind, and sacrifice you soul to the darkness…for a cupcake*.” (BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM)

The cupcake trance gods are not pleased.

*Okay, so the music really didn’t say cupcake, but it was still weird. Trust me.

We did attempt to dance in this room for a bit. I’m not a great dancer by any means, but I can pretty much find the beat and keep a rhythm. I am not sure that this music had a beat that didn’t require awkward jerking, but I went with it. After a while, we decided to move to the house music side of the club.

This side wasn’t terrible and actually had better music. We were able to dance, although we were the only ones dancing.  Everyone else just stood around the room. Another girl was dancing alone and she managed to thrash one of my friends several times with her long hair, no matter how many times we tried to move out of the way. They did have a go go dancer who did her go go dancing thing. After about a half an hour, we decided to look elsewhere for entertainment and failed. We ended up back at Axis Radius and ended our night out about an hour after that.

The night was still a lot of fun and I had a great time out with my girls. The night overall provided a lot of visual entertainment and Axis/ Radius is great place to people watch.

If you haven’t been clubbing in a while, here’s what you are missing:

People no longer dance in clubs.

Maybe this is just a Scottsdale thing, but it seemed like no one wanted to dance. Everyone stood around with drinks in their hand, yelling over the music. We went to one place that had great dance music…no dancing. How can you not move when you hear music? What’s the point of going to a club if you are going to stand around and yell? I can do that at home for free. One of my friends corrected me and said that people still dance…they just bob and point. Sadness.

Girls wear super short dresses/ skirts that are apparently made out of ace bandages.

Should I wear a red, or black dress tonight?

Apparently the new thing is to go to the club with practically nothing on. Okay, maybe it’s not completely new, but it seems like more women are showing a lot more from what I remember. There were one too many near misses with the beaver sightings. Come on ladies…how is that comfortable? What are you trying to attract, even better what do you expect to attract?  Is this the reason why dancing has gone to the wayside? Are clubs are trying to prevent the impending beaver apocalypse if any of you attempted to dance in those outfits? There’s nothing wrong with wearing a nice top with jeans or a cute dress. What happened to class?

Not okay.

There is sexy and there is being a skankasaurus. Don’t be a skankasaurus. You can have fun and still look like you have some class.

The grabby guys are still there.

Sigh, somethings never change.  Although you expect to for someone to brush against you while dancing, every once in a while you get that guy who is a little too friendly. While in the trance/ hip hop room, this random drunk/high/stoned guy saunters over to me, puts an arm around my waist and starts yelling:

“This music…do you get this?! It’s the (insert random explicative here) right?! You feel it right?! She gets it! She gets it!”

Um. No. I don’t get it.

This is what I get:

1) You are super high/drunk/ stoned. Please find a bathroom and get that crap out of your body. I don’t want to see you at my hospital.

2) Do I know you? Did you just try to grab my “no no” zone? Not okay. You are one step away from being strong armed into a wall.

I did not feel like I was in any danger  but I was pretty annoyed. Oh well.  I knew that if this guy got too frisky, any one of my friends could have taken him. Besides, how can you feel threatened by a guy who is inebriated and wearing women’s jeans?

I can’t wait til this fad is over…

Despite the weirdness, we had a really good time and lots of laughs once we got back to the hotel room. The best part of the night for me was getting to dance like a zombie with friends. It was a great night and a fun way to end a funky week. I am always thankful for friends and this night will definitely go down as one of my favorite memories with them.

The List

I am pretty sure this has been done before, but as I embark on this half marathon training, I figured it would also be a good time to start a “Things to do before I turn 30 list“. Now, I have about a year and a half before that happens, but I figured I’d get an early start. Here’s what’s on my list (not in any particular order):

Run a half marathon.

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Oh wait a minute...

Wow…I’m five months away from accomplishing something on my list! I’m awesome. Go me! So far, training has been great, minus a few hiccups with my calves cramping up mid run. My stamina has improved a ton, I am getting faster and I am tacking on more miliage. I am starting to feel like a real runner, not someone who just says they run. I’m actually doing it.

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Yup, that's me. Zombies and all.

This is a good start; I am feeling pretty awesome about this planning/ listing thing. Moving on…

 Go on a two week storm chasing expedition.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for about a year. I grew up in GA, and they have pretty nasty weather in the spring/summer months. So, we experienced a lot of thunderstorms and tornados. I left GA with a slight phobia when it comes to weather.

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Yet I move to AZ, where this happens?!

I still have a panic attack when I hear the emergency system alarm go off on TV, and I still can’t sleep through a thunderstorm without thinking a tornado is on its way. This is a dumb fear…well, it’s not completely dumb because weather is unpredictable and anything can happen. But, it is dumb to freak out every time I see a bolt of lightening. So I figured I try a little exposure therapy, and sign up for a storm chasing expedition.

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Who wouldn't want to see this?

The place I’ve found is called Cloud 9 tours and they take people storm chasing every year. They are two weeks long, and you aren’t guaranteed to see a tornado, but it would still be pretty cool to do. Also, I’d be there with experienced storm chasers and individuals that are knowledgeable about weather, so they may help me get over my fear. Plus…ROAD TRIP!!! It’s around 2800 bucks to do the tour, so I’d have to start saving now.

Own furniture.

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This is no longer acceptable.

This one is weird, I know, but for the past 12 years or so I’ve either been in school or lived at home. My last two places came with furniture, so I had no need to purchase any. I had furniture once…a bed, chair and some paintings, but I gave those all away to friends when I thought I’d move to Virginia after undergrad. When I came back from my four month Virginian adventure, I moved home and then left for grad school about two years after that. The only thing I’ve managed to collect in all my many travels were books, and I probably have enough books to make furniture out of them. On the plus side, it does make moving pretty easy when there is no furniture involved. However, eight boxes of books are not fun to move. Speaking of which…

Read/own every single Stephen King book ever written and visit Maine.

I am a HUGE Stephen King fan. Ever since I picked up a copy of Rose Madder at age 14,(fantastic book btw…not too scary, if you want to start reading his books) I’ve been hooked. Since then, I find myself reading anything he’s written. I own almost all of them; some I have not read completely because frankly…they are pretty scary. The cool thing is, I’ve never purchased most of the books in my collection because my friends seem to just hand me Steven King books they come across. How cool is that?! These friends I love.

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Thank you book gifting friends. You get me.

In his books, the main place for all the horror he writes about occurs in Maine. I’m curious to see if it is as creepy as he makes it out to be. So, I want to visit and hopefully catch him out in the neighborhood Starbucks writing books and share a latte. Then he can give me advice about writing horror/mystery novels,  give me a tour of his house and give me unpublished copies of his secret works. These are the things I fantasize about, people.

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We already play on the Wii together. A house tour is obviously the most logical next step...

Finish my tattoo.

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I got my tattoo in August 2010 as hommage to my mother. I have always wanted to build on to it, but wasn’t sure what else I wanted, or where I wanted it. For a while, I wanted one on my arm, but decided against it as the original tattoo starts on my back. Once I decided that having my back covered was what I wanted to do, I had to select what tattoo I wanted.

I have a thing for trees. For me, they represent power, comfort and strength,things my mother definitely embodied. Plus they rock in general. So I’ve been looking at tree designs for a while and then I came across this:

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It's just so awesome!!

I knew that I had to have that on my back along with my current tattoo. I’m not sure how I am going to incorporate my current tattoo into this one, but I will make it happen. I need to check out shops here in AZ, but I am tempted to fly home to Fresno for this one. My artist is super talented…and hot.

Go to Hawaii.

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Could you imagine waking up to this everyday?

One of my closest friends moved to Hawaii a little after I moved to AZ. I’ve been dying to see her on her home turf and I have never been to Hawaii. My other friend, who is a genius, planned a trip for us and another friend in our posse to go see her March of next year! Hooray! Our lodging has been booked, dates have been set, now all we have to do is grab tickets and go.

I’m excited to be going with these girls and I know that we will have a blast. We always have tons of laughs when we get together. Based on the stories my friend has shared with me since she’s lived there, I suspect there will be more laughs if one of these shows up:

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I know they don't look like this, but I freaked over trying to post a pic of the real thing. Don't judge me...

Go to Europe.

Again, I have awesome friends who are great at planning things. A couple years ago, on a four hour phone conversation with my best friend, we came up with this awesome idea to tour Europe for 6 weeks when we turned 30. We planned for hours: which cities and countries we wanted to visit, where to stay, what to see, when to go and what to do. We estimated that it would be around 5000 euro to fully enjoy our trip.

It’s crazy how much has changed since we had that conversation. At the time, my mom was still living, I planned on getting my PhD  at Berkley and saw myself living in San Francisco sucking down clam chowder on a daily basis. When life happened as it usually does…all that went out of the window. I kinda assumed my dream to tour Europe did too.

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Guess I have to settle for eating this crap...

Well, I was wrong. I’ve got about half that saved and now we have another friend joining us which is really exciting. I think we’ve whittled 6 weeks down to two because we all have jobs and it’s highly unlikely for two of us to get that much time off. But, we’re going and I am glad that we’re going together.

Just so you know, guys...Italy is on our list. We're going to Italy, or at least I'm going 😛

Well…that’s my list. It can always change and I know as the road to 30 continues, I’ll add more to it. Till then, I am ready to see where life takes me. Hopefully, I get to check things off my list along the way 🙂

Setting the Foundation

Fair warning: For the next few posts…I will probably be geeking out about my running/training experiences. I will try not to post back to back like this, but I am just so freaking excited about this whole 1/2 marathon thing…I can’t help it. So enjoy:

I got my shoes! I LOVE them!!! I’m not much of a shoe girl, but after todays shopping experience, that has all changed. My shoes rock!!!

My super happy feet after my run 🙂

Buying running shoes was definitely an experience.  First, they measured my feet, which honestly I haven’t done in years.  The last time my feet were measured, I was six and  they were measured by a Payless shoes salesman. I’m not a fan of getting my feet touched by people at all, but I didn’t whine and sucked it up.  Then, they had me stand on this Temperpedic-like mold thing to see where I place the most pressure when I stand. Next, they had me get on a treadmill barefoot and they filmed my feet. I was pretty nervous about that and the whole time I focused on not falling off, but I did fine. I had a friend there for moral support. I also discovered running barefoot on a treadmill feels pretty awesome.

After the pressure thing and watching me on the treadmill, they asked me what my shoes would be for, if I had a race coming up and if I liked to run on pavement or a trail. They put all that info into their system and BAM!, they knew what shoes to get for me.

It's like MAGIC!!!

I found out that when I walk or run, my feet roll inward. When I take steps, I step with the outsides of my feet. I have a fairly normal arch and most of the pressure on my feet is placed in my heels. They wanted me to get shoes with decent arch support and insoles (I think) that would help balance the pressure on my feet, moving some of the pressure from my heels to my toes. The guy had me step on this mold like thing, touched my feet again with the insoles molds and had me step off the molds. Finally, he handed me the worlds most comfortable socks so I could try on running shoes. OMG. I knew that I’d been suckered and the socks were coming home. I still have them on. They may never come off.

That's not mold, it's the extra cushioning...

My shoe tech (I suppose) handed me off to one of the sales guys to try on shoes. I have fairly large feet because I am almost six feet tall. Usually when I purchase shoes, primarily athletic shoes, they NEVER have my size and I have to switch to a men’s shoe. Men’s shoes aren’t bad, and my last pair were the most feminine looking pair of New Balances I could find.  I just want to be able to purchase women’s shoes for a change. So when the guy told me my correct shoe size (apparently in the past I’ve purchased the wrong shoe size for running), I just knew that I would have to settle for mens shoes again. However, this was not so and I was practically beaming as the sales guy brought out FOUR pairs of shoes in my size for me. Hooray!

Ha.

My first pair to try on were a pair of Asics. They fit like a glove, they didn’t look ginormous, and they were electric blue. WIN! I knew immediately that I had found the perfect fit for me, but tried on the other three anyway. I almost didn’t purchase the Asics when I heard the price tag. My inner bargain diva practically had a melt down. I figure if I want good shoes and want to run without hurting myself, I have to ignore the price and see it as an investment. Once I got over that, 45 minutes later…I walked back to my friend’s car with an awesome pair of shoes, custom insoles and of course, the super comfortable socks.

They feel like this...seriously.

After devouring Chinese food and shopping for Valentines for my friends, I was anxious to get home and try out my new shoes. I practically day dreamed about running in them my entire drive back home. Once I got home, I practically leaped out of my car, opened the box and took the shoes out. I planned on going for a run in that very moment, but I remembered that jeans cause chaffing and decided to run up to my house to put on something I could run in. On the way up, in my excitement I stopped and took photos. My neighbors probably think I am nuts now, if they didn’t already:

Yes ,I took pics. No, I don't care if you think I'm a dork...

Once I got properly dressed, I properly stretched (something I haven’t been doing), pranced around my driveway in my new shoes like a flamingo, and took my shoes for a spin. I had probably one of my best and fastest runs. YAY. Usually I have to stop a lot because my shins scream at me around 15 minutes into my run, but this time I didn’t stop once. Not once. It felt great to run without being hindered by shin splints. I am so grateful that I took everyone’s advice about the shoes. It’s really improved my run.

The only thing that worries me is that I am slipping out of my right shoe. I asked around, and I found out I probably need to re-lace my shoe. If that doesn’t work, I gotta go back to the store to get a size smaller which wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

After I finished my training for today, I really wanted to keep going, which is weird for me.  Usually after a run, or in the middle of it, I am ready to throw in the towel.  Today, I felt I could have stuck another mile on. In fact, I’m practically jumping out of my skin trying to keep myself from throwing on my shoes and sneaking another mile in.  But, from what my training plan says, I need to pace myself and not over do it. Tomorrow is a rest day…LAME…and it’s going to be even harder to keep myself from wanting to run. I figure that’s a good problem to have, no?

Besides, I'll be ready if THIS ever happens...

So, my first training day was AWESOME. Maybe it’s the high from running, or knowing that I am actually going through with this, but I am super happy.  Also, incredibly grateful. To everyone who’s given advice, offered to help out, gone shoe shopping with me and been supportive…thank you so much! It’s very appreciated.

Here’s to six months of training…and not giving up 🙂