Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dog Days In Austin

Florence Welch and that machine she has might say the dog days are over, but I hope they never are!  I love having sweet little puppy faces all up in my grill.

All I know is that when I die I want to be reincarnated as a lucky dog.  I'd want St. Peter or whoever gives out the reincarnation assignments to make sure to hook me up with a good family, because I don't want to be stuck in Paris Hilton's granddaughters purse.  (though I imagine I would be well cared for, but I think I would probably be a more outdoorsy kind of dog, at least I hope I would.)

We took Chase P. and Bandy-Lu to Austin a couple of weekends ago and Sergio and I laughed because we realize they are very spoiled pups.  They relaxed at Barton Springs, shopped on South Congress, chilled in Anthropologie, and ate at Torchy's Tacos.  As we drove back to San Antonio, they were both passed out in the back of the Juke.  Exhausted.  Perfect puppy play time led to sheer sleepy time tea status.

Without further adieu, here are Bandit McGee and Chase Prancer, before they become drunk on the sun and passed out in the sunlight:

Water break on South Congress.

Chase staring off wistfully into the distance.  I think he heard us talking about going to Barton Springs.

Bandit does not appreciate those two people laughing at him.  One pissed puppy.

Waiting for mama outside Uncommon Objects.

 All those photos are outside Uncommon Objects, one of my favorite stores in Austin, because that's the only time we took photos!  I don't know what I was thinking!  (We are going to start taking our actual camera that has lenses and stuff and start getting a little more serious about our photo game.  I love having a cornucopia of photos to time travel with.)

Have a great week, ya'll!  Can't wait for the weekend.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Choosing Love

You don't have to try so hard.
You don't have to give it all away.
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up.
You don't have to change a single thing.
-Colbie Caillat, "Try"

I rarely listen to the radio.  Typically, I have my Ipod going or I listen to the free stations Sirius offers because I refuse to pay for the satellite music option for my VW Bug.  The car payment is enough, thank you very much.  I almost always have my Ipod charged, so it's easy peasy to have music that I love at my finger tips.  The other day, though, I forgot to charge it and listened to Sirius for a little while.  Glad I did.  They were interviewing Ms. Caillat about the video for the song, "Try," in which she, along with several other women, wipes the makeup from her face as the video progresses.  Other women remove their wigs.  One woman cries.  Each one seems more empowered as they realize their own inner beauty and their own outer beauty sans fards.

It's truly beautiful.  As I listed to the lyrics and watched the video, I have to admit that I teared up a little bit.  Sometimes it's easy to forget all the pressure we have to keep our appearance a certain way and it's easy to suppress the things we think about ourselves in an effort to just survive and live.  If I sit there and think about it, I have to admit that I am my hardest critic.

When I lost a lot of weight (which I have since gained back, but that's another story for another day and I am working on getting my health back), I remember feeling great about myself.  I felt beautiful and at peace.  It was easy to shop, easy to dress myself.  If an item fit the store mannequin, I knew it would fit me.  It was a great time in my life that I didn't give myself credit for.  I still seemed to find things wrong with how I looked and I still seemed to wish I looked just a little different.  My focus went from my body to the rest of my appearance.  I remember being sad that losing all that weight wasn't the answer to an improved self-esteem.

Wherever you go, there you are.

And so now, as I seriously embark on yet another weight loss "get healthy" journey, I am trying to focus on learning to love myself just as I am even before I lose any weight or become healthy again.  I want to be able to feel beautiful no matter what my appearance is like.  I am a good person; I deserve to love myself as much as I love other people and as much as other people love me.  I want to love myself and appreciate where I am at any given moment.  My tummy protrudes now because of the surgery and since I have never cared about having rock hard abs, my tummy will always protrude a little now no matter how much weight I lose.  I want to learn to accept and love that; that surgery that caused a protruding tummy saved my life.

Even more, I was proud of how healthy I was when I was thin.  By that, I mean that I took vitamins every day, flossed twice a day, ate healthier food options, and really watched what I allowed into my body for my health.  My blood levels were awesome and my health was at its peak.  I was truly caring for the one body I will have in my life.  I want to be there again.  I want to take care of my body for my health and longevity.

My motto for my life, besides "I can do this," is to make decisions based on love.  I love my body and what it is capable of and what it has been through.  I want to show my body I love it by making healthier choices.

Even more, my body works hard to take me place to place and moment to moment each day. My body has struggled through surgeries and illnesses to ensure that I live a good, long life.  It could have easily given up, but it gave more to me than I have given it credit for.  Why should I continue to beat myself up and not appreciate all that it does for me?

From this day forward, I choose love and appreciation for all of me- body, mind, and soul.  What do you choose?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let Me Tell Ya About My Best Friends...

Once upon a time I was a cat person.  Only cats.  Cats all day, every day.  I had a mini shelter for cats, in fact, that I ran for a local Persian rescue.  I'd have 4-5 cats in my house ready for adoption on any given day.  (Apparently, there is a lot of controversy surrounding cats and schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis and promiscuity, but that's another story.)

Dogs have converted me over to their side.  That's not to say I will never own a cat again, but life without litter boxes and huge amounts of fur on my furniture sure is nice.  I mean, Chase sheds, but only once a season.

While we were photographing the changes we made to our guest room for the "house tour" page, Chase showed up and acted all cute and totally posed.  I think he didn't need to be rescued.  He would have been a puppy model had we not intervened.  Well, I guess we rescued him from a lifetime of potential heroin use and drunken cocktail parties.  (Totally kidding.  Chase is more of a coffee house and a cigarette kind of model.)

Who, Moi?

This face?  It could sell expensive dog food by the bundles.

Side profile?  Oh, yeah.

Chase and his best friend, Bandit.  Bandy-Lu tries our patience a little each day.  We hope he eventually stops having puppy accidents.

You know, I always thought it was kind of cheesy when people would say, "I adopted him, but he rescued me," about their little rescue animal.  It's true, though.  Chase and Bandit have taught me patience and love; they both have this sweet energy about them.

I had a particularly tough follow-up doctor appointment (for the hysterectomy) today and I have to have some blood work and other tests tomorrow.  Not the way I wanted to end my week, ya know?  I got home and my sweet husband made me a sandwich and some soup and these pups cuddled with me in bed and everything seemed a little better.

It's all gonna be okay.  Moments like those make it all okay.

I hope you have something or someone in your life who makes you feel like the pups and my husband inspire me to feel.  Everything is a little better with love.

Love is amazing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Estrogen: You Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone

Seriously, don't take it for granted.  It's an amazing thing.

So one day I am sitting around feeling kinda cold, kinda happy, kinda sexy, kinda sexually charged, kinda feminine, kinda energetic, kinda like a girl.

It feels like this photo was taken a million summers ago.  It was just two years ago.

And then I wasn't.

And it sucks.

Let me tell ya about estrogen and how it factors into all this.  

Once upon a time in a land called December 2013, I had a hysterectomy.  When I woke up from the hysterectomy and in the following months, I began to notice a change.  At first, it seemed to be out of sorts and then estrogen seemed to come back at an influx.  I actually wanted sex.  I felt sexual.  I felt energetic.  I felt ready to get back into life.

Lately, not so much.

I have a doctor appointment at the end of July or the beginning of August and I cannot wait.  I will be my own advocate and ask the doctor to test my estrogen/ testosterone levels.  I will ask for estrogen supplements.  I will take my life back.

Want to know how it feel being on this side?  Let me share, in case you ever find yourself feeling like you are going crazy:

I'm hot.  So hot.  Not like sexy, on fire, everybody wants me hot.  Hot, in its literal definition.  I would love for the air to be at 65 in our house all day long, but that's expensive.  The heat seems to come from within and radiate out.  It's intense and it kinda changes my mood.

Speaking of which... I am a moody b^&%h at times.  I try my best to control it and not let it show, but inside I kind of rage for random stuff or for nothing at all.  I become super sad all of a sudden.  I become super depressed and just feel so out of sorts.  And then happiness comes back.  And then it leaves.  I feel totally unlike myself.  This is not me.

I'm so tired.  I can't keep my eyes open sometimes.  There is nothing I can do to stay alert.  At the start of the day, I am exhausted.  About an hour into the day, energy has found me and I can't wait to get home and go for a four mile run.  And then the energy leaves me all at once and all I can think about is getting home and sleeping.  It's a cycle.  Lately, my ideal weekend would be staying in all day and sleeping, but there is so much to do here at the house and it's always nice to go somewhere for a few hours with my husband, so I suck it up.  But as soon as I hit the bed, I am done...

Speaking of the bed, sleeping is about all that happens there.  I went from having a ridiculously high sex drive (when I was running all the time) to a little more relaxed drive (when I stopped running as much) to almost no sex drive to speak of.  Our sex life went from several times a week to once a month, if that.  I love having sex with my husband, but it sure is tough to find that motivation.  

And even when I find the motivation, I am like a desert.  I used to have no problem being lubricated on my own, but now the times that I am actually naturally lubricated throughout the experience are few and far between.  It certainly doesn't add to my feelings of sexiness.

Weight gain also doesn't make me feel sexy.  I am trying to feel sexy, to feel beautiful, to feel pretty, to feel cute, to feel wanted, but without sex, without clothes that fit well, without defined muscular legs and arms, it's tough.  Yeah, you can think, "Well, if you know what will fix it, then do what needs to be done.  Get off your ass and lose weight."  I am the first one to say if you don't like something change it.  I know what it takes; I lost 57 pounds at one point.  But when I can't find the energy to go running, it's hard as heck.  And when I can't stock my kitchen with only banana smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and edamame (the large amount of soy I used to consume if not good for women who have a cancer risk; who knew?) and water for dinner like I used to when I was thin and fit, it's tough to stay thin without exercise.  

I really think a lot of that is a vicious cycle.  My husband and I don't have sex, so I get a little sad.  I get sad and then I get even more tired because of the emotion.  I get tired so I can't run.  I can't run so I gain weight.  I gain weight so I don't feel sexy.  I don't feel sexy so I don't want sex.  We don't have sex so I get sad.

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah.

Memory loss is another thing.  I can't remember the most basic things sometimes.  I can't recall nouns.  I point for Sergio to place a vase on a table and all I can say is "Place the thing on the thing."  I can't remember anything without writing it down.  I have lists on lists on lists.  Thank goodness for all those phone apps.

I over share all of this simply because I think it's important to open discussions about all of this so that other women know you aren't crazy because of the things you might be feeling and you are not alone.  I also think it's important to be your own advocate.  I am making lists of all the symptoms I am feeling so that when my doctor talks with me in a few weeks, I can supply him with an accurate list of everything I am feeling.  When I last spoke with him over the phone, he said that it's important for me to write down everything I am feeling so that we can determine the next best course of action.

I certainly hope there's an answer.  I can't take sweating in 70 degree weather and feeling sad/depressed/unattractive all the time.  It's not how we are supposed to live and feel and think.  We have the right to feel healthy and beautiful and happy.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Our Dining Room Became Our Guest Room

At the time Sergio and I decided to get married, we had this plan to have a baby within the first year of marriage.  I loved the idea of raising a little family in our little condo.  I loved the idea of our family- me, my Sergio, and our baby.

When I bought my condo, it was marketed as a one bedroom, but the room in the very center of the condo was fixed as a home office/ bedroom.  It had a temporary, pull away wall. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take photos of the condo in it's original state. It was pretty terrifying once the previous occupant's stuff was out of it. Stained greige walls, stained baby blue and yellow walls, stained greige carpet, even the patio was stained- it was a chance to fix things up with a little elbow grease and settle in, hoping the future would hold a much better time for my space. I knew I would be entertaining friends for drinks and pre-partying so that awkward room at the hub of my condo became a dining room.

Dining room circa 2010. 

The most recent incarnation of the space.  We put up those floral curtains so we could store our camping stuff in the room; I made them when I was 17! 

As Sergio and I began that "trying to conceive" dance, I remembered that our condo could easily become a two bedroom.  In lieu of buying a larger condo, we decided we would convert the dining room into a  nursery.  I fell in love with the idea of having a little nursery with French doors just off the living room.  It would be perfectly suited to a baby's room.

We hid this little photo strip in the wall we built to house the French doors just in case someone else decides to remove the wall and doors.  We should have left a note that said, "Why would you do that?" or some other silliness. 
Due to life, due to cancer, due to hard choices, the nursery idea became a distant memory, but the work had already been done.  We teetered between keeping the space as a dining room with French doors, but once I knew I needed a hysterectomy we decided to create a recovery space for me.  We liked the idea of having a separate space for a guest room and a space for me to watch television and work on craft projects while Sergio plays video games.  We already had a daybed that we were using as a couch, so we moved that into the space and bought a new couch.  We turned the little storage nook from the former space (which had also been a desk area in one incarnation) into a television nook/ closet area. 

Let the work begin!

I didn't realize how much work went into installing French doors and making a wall!  Also, the original opening was kind of crooked and not well-done, so work had to be done to make that structurally sound.

When Sergio and his cousin held the doors in place, my heart skipped a beat!  I loved them!

View from our living room.  The daybed was still our couch at that time.

Doors complete!

The same space circa 2014. It was originally a recovery room, but I have since recovered and this space is now our little television nook and space for guests to rest and stay safe after our parties.

I left the desk in place since it is sturdy and there was no reason to replace it at the moment, nor did we have the desire to break the budget.  There is space for a couple of suitcases underneath and a hanging bar across the top along with a little space next to the television for hanging clothes (in addition to the hooks on the walls.)  I will eventually put a long mirror on the wall next to the nook.  We chose to use curtains for the closet in lieu of sliding doors for space and cost efficiency.

While we were at it, since we replaced the daybed with a new couch, we made over the living room, too:

Living Room circa 2010.

Living Room circa 2012.  Um... I totally thought it looked good at the time.

The rest of the living room in 2012.  Gratuitous bunny and cat photo.

Our living room circa 2014. This transformation makes me smile.  I love the colors!

Our little space has evolved as our relationship has evolved.  I am not the same girl I was in 2010 (thank goodness for that in a lot of ways!).  I like to think I am in a happier, better place in life.  I guess the bright colors could certainly be an attestation to that, huh?  (Happiness and my husband (maybe even happiness because of my husband) are responsible for this makeover.)