Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Round 7

Tap – Tap – Tap … Is this thing on?

Yep, it’s me. Still here and determined to get back to writing and chatting with you all …

I promised I would answer the questions you left in the comments of last week’s post, and I’m here to keep my word. :) You guys always come up with the best questions… some got me thinking pretty in depth and will be blog posts in and of themselves, but I thought I’d start out with a bunch of random ones today to get me in the writing mode again.

So, without further ado…

blog peeps logo

Have you always had handwriting like you do?

I’ve been weird about experimenting with my handwriting for a really long time. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was around lower elementary age that I got a Crayola calligraphy marker set for Christmas from my Aunt Mary. It was at a gift exchange at my grandparents’ house and I’m sure one of my cousins had my name, but it was pretty clear Aunt Mary picked it out because of how excited she was to show me how to use it. They were normal looking markers with a calligraphy tip, and some had cuts in them so it would create the letters with separated lines.

I loved it.

After that I practiced my calligraphy letters obsessively, and through the years when I got bored I would purposefully change the look of my handwriting [especially if I was bored during school]. I would create a handwriting look and then write the alphabet over and over until it became a natural handwriting for me. Weird hobby, I know, but it was very beneficial later in life when I started scrapbooking. :)

Do you have any more fonts on the pea website? I have already used your handwriting in a few of my digital scrapbooks and I love them!

Ok, seriously – it is so much fun knowing that my handwriting is in your scrapbooks! Another blogger sent me a thank you note that had my Pea Frankie printing on it and it was so strange [and cool] to open an envelope and see it used.

To answer your question, no… I only have the two fonts right now. I might submit some more eventually, but there’s no guarantee that she’ll like them enough to make them. If I do submit some and they get made, you all will be the first to know!

Did you have a favorite book as a child?

Again, I don’t know what age I was but I would guess around 4th grade, when I found a book called Karen on a bookshelf in our house. I would pretty much read anything I could get my hands on, but this is the first book I distinctly remember not knowing what to do when I finished it because I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters yet. I can remember where I was in the house [back when we had really awful multi-colored shag carpet with oranges and greens and browns] when I asked mom if there was another book that told me about the rest of their story. I was so sad to learn there wasn’t.

It was a true story written by Karen’s mother, Marie Killilea. She told the story about her daughter being born and living with cerebral palsy around the 1950s in the most honest, real way. She talked about their struggles as a family, the challenges Karen faced and the process of their lives changing as she grew older.

It’s funny, because I read that book as a kid and forgot about it for years, but it actually helped me quite a bit when I was making the decision to go on disability. I was trying so hard to work or get freelance writing jobs, but was constantly getting sick and winding up in the hospital. I was trying to figure out what to do when my mind flashed on the end of that book. Karen had grown into a young adult and was trying to decide if she would keep struggling to use her crutches to walk, or start using a wheelchair. She had made a list outlining the positives of each… on the side marked crutches was a long list of reasons to keep pushing, and on the side marked wheelchair there was only one word: Freedom. The memory of that passage, more than anything else, made me feel like it was ok not to spend my entire existence fighting instead of living.

Amazing how something as simple as picking up a book that was lying around the house as a kid could help me make such a huge life decision.


Ok, peeps, that’s it for today.

I’m still running ridiculously slow here, but am going to try to put up some short question and answer posts more frequently … maybe if I get my writing brain working again the rest of my body will somehow follow suit and figure out how to work again, too. :) Not that I’m impatient or anything…

So here’s to seeing you all again soon. And keep your fingers crossed that I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that…


Friday, September 25, 2009

All The Mom’s Collectively Say: “Wow.”

Hey, guys! It was so fun to have a giveaway again… we’ll have to wait a little while to do one again, but I promise as soon as I’m painting again it will be an every week event. And, because I’m determined to force myself to stay awake more, I’m looking forward to answering all of your great questions over the next few weeks! :)

On to the important stuff… the winner, according to, is:

Jesslyn42, who commented:

Hey sweet girl!! It was so nice to see a post from you!! Smile Not to mention...your ABSOLUTELY AWESOME canvas!! Smile
If you could meet any musical person...who would it be?!?  
I actually have LOTS of questions for you, but I don't want to overwhelm you, so I'll just leave it at that for now.  
Sending you TONS of HUGS and LOTS of LOVE!!!

Congratulations, Jess :) Email me at with your mailing address and I’ll get it sent off to you. And for the record, you can ask me all the questions you want… I don’t overwhelm easily. ;)


Now, if you’re worn out today after having endured a long and busy week, I have a bit of happy news for you:

A woman in Indonesia gave birth to a 19.2 pound, 2 foot long baby boy and you didn’t. See, doesn’t that make your week seem less stressful??? [To put your minds at ease, she did have a c-section.]


Wow. I think he’s pissed because he ordered a Big Mac and all they gave him was milk.

All I can say is, it’s moments like these I’m ok with only having a dog.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

HDG: It's the Little Things

Last year, when my friend Susie picked up Tyler from preschool [he’s a big kindergartner this year who gets to wear a uniform and everything…] he made this announcement to her:

Tyler: I had a headache today.
Susie: Oh, Buddy. You did?
Tyler: What is a headache, even?
Susie: It’s when you have a pain inside your head.
Tyler: Oh, uhmm… I didn’t have a headache. I just called it that because I was exhausted. Mom, what is exhausted even, too?
Susie: Honey, that means you’re tired.
Tyler: Yep. Yep, that’s what I was then. I was exhausted.

I’m with Tyler… I’m exhausted. And I promise I know what that means. :)

Here’s the thing. I didn’t realize I had certain expectations about being off steroids. I mean, I knew that I was gradually having more of the old spondylitis pain and that it would probably continue to intensify being completely off the prednisone. I was prepared and ready for that. I also assumed that my knees would get some range of motion back since that was directly related to the reductions. I was right about that, too [yea!].

And I wasn’t so deluded that I thought I would wake up the next day, magically having lost all of this Cushing’s weight, and no longer resemble a woman named Big Bertha. I thought I was being pretty realistic. But somewhere, deep down, I guess I expected to feel stronger, less sick, have more stamina. Yeah, that’s totally not how this works.

Apparently, the steroids were helping me stay awake, because I now have what I call a coma-sleep. You know, that stage of sleep where your eyes are closed but you are still aware of what’s going on around you, yet you don’t have the energy to open your eyes or lift your arm or make any movement whatsoever. I seem to be able to stay in that state for hours on end. My headache that I’ve had for weeks has yet to go away and I am randomly dizzy and nauseous.

aka: I’m exhausted.

All of those are some of the symptoms of Cushing’s that apparently the steroids were keeping at bay. Who knew? But at least the reduction process is over and now all I have to do is be patient and wait for my body to figure out how to function properly again. In the meantime, I’m making a list of all the things I want to do when I feel stronger.

  1. I want to become a voracious reader again.
  2. I want to become a regular blogger again.
  3. I want to be awake long enough to have something to blog about.
  4. I want to color my hair. [Vain, I know, but true.]
  5. I want to get all of the emails in my Inbox replied to, and send out thank you notes that are looonnnggg overdue.
  6. I want to take pictures again and play in Photoshop.
  7. I want to get caught up on the scrapbooking I am ridiculously behind on. Five godchildren equals five scrapbooks, which equals a lot of scrapbooking in my future.
  8. I want to have the energy to chat with my friends on the phone, the energy to walk into the next room without needing to sit and rest, the energy to … well … do almost anything.
  9. I really, really, really want to start painting canvases again. I have many orders yet to fill and miss the creativity.
  10. I want to have a Hump Day Giveaway.

As it so happens, I’m about to cross number 10 off that list. I have a couple of canvases sitting around that I had previously made with the intention of selling them at my Mom’s store. But today I thought to myself… Sell, or Give Away?

Guess which thought won?

So today, we are having a spontaneous Hump Day Giveaway! Woo Hoo! Here is the canvas that can be yours:


All you have to do is leave me a random question in the comment section so when I do have the energy to start blogging more regularly, I’ll have something to blog about!

I’m going to leave this contest open until midnight on Thursday and will announce the winner on Friday, which gives you two full days to enter [only one comment per person, please].

Spread the word… :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ripple Effects ... Riley's Perspective

After writing this post I realized that we, of course, can’t forget that all of this craziness has had an effect on the pup as well. [That, and the fact these pictures were too cute not to share…]

Riley has, for quite some time, had a jealousy issue when my attention has been turned to the computer [or anything else for that matter]. Needless to say, he’s enjoyed all this time I’ve been spending away from it. The biggest reason for my computer absence has been my pain and energy level, but part of it has been accessibility as well. While it’s fantastic in theory to have the portability of a laptop, I haven’t been able to set the computer on my lap due to the pain in my legs and knees. Riley, in his jealousy, thought this was fantastic, but I [and my overflowing inbox] have been less than thrilled.

But all that’s changed since Susie found me this great lap desk that doesn’t touch any part of my legs and fits perfectly with me on the couch. So when I am awake and have a little energy, I’ve been able to get online, read some blogs and at least try to catch up on what’s been going on in the world beyond my condo.


But as you can see, that leaves a bit of separation between me and the pup. It’s created a ripple effect that he’s taken serious issue with and is not afraid of letting me know it.


As you all know, however, he’s a resourceful little stinker. He jumped up on the arm of the couch behind my head, climbed along the back of the couch and then settled himself across my lap… right in between me and the lap desk. Doesn’t he look like he’s about to chant, “Neener-neener-neener…”?



Him laying across me wasn’t the best option for accessing the computer, or for my legs, so we compromised and made room for him to lay beside me. Of course, Riley using the laptop as a pillow isn’t ideal either, but I’m kind of a sucker for a cute face so I’m giving in on this one.

I think we all know the ripple effect of me giving in to him… it means that really, he won. Which means he still thinks he’s the alpha dog around here. Which means I’m pretty much doomed from here on out.

But that’s one ripple effect I’ve decided I can live with. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buying Stock in Cheerios ...

Hey, peeps… it’s been a bit of a trying week here as my body seems to be protesting the lack of steroids in my system, so I’m sorry it’s been so dang long between posts. I do have some really cute pictures of Riley along with a story that I plan to tell you about, but I have to convert the photo files from RAW to jpeg before posting them and I just haven’t been up enough to get it done. But I will. Soon. I promise. In the meantime, I just wanted to say hi and let you know I’m still here… I’m just here on the couch with my eyes closed. :)

Would you believe that when I took the pictures of Riley I noticed that I hadn’t taken a single photo of him since JULY?

[I think I just heard a collective gasp.]

Seriously. I think that was the moment I realized just how sick I’ve been feeling, because me not taking a photo is like Riley not begging for treats. It’s just unheard of. This whole Cushing’s thing needs to straighten itself out fast because, knowing what a diva my pooch is, I’m sure he’s going to be demanding more Cheerios at his next modeling session to make up for all of his “lost wages” the last few months!

[If you are new here, you might want to check out this post to see what I’m talking about…]

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Ripple Effect

Life, lately, has me thinking about the ripple effect – how you can throw one little rock in a great big pond and the ripples seem to go on forever.

That happens with all of us, every minute of the day, whether we’re paying attention or not. It’s like when I wrote about living life with intention… a simple smile to a stranger rather than ignoring people as we rush to our next appointment can not only affect their mood, but the mood of each person they meet that day. Stopping and looking someone in the eye and letting them know they are the most important thing in that moment can not only have an effect that day, it can ripple into establishing that person’s self-confidence and self-worth for years to come.

Ripples are everywhere. If we’re paying attention we can intentionally improve someone’s outlook, and if we’re not paying attention we can unintentionally tear down someone’s self-worth.

But there are also times when Life throws a rock in our pond, and ripples move beyond our control. That’s been my existence these past few months. I, for the life of me, have no way of stopping the tidal waves that have been building from that one small rock – that one decision to leave the house to go to a doctor appointment.                     

That action continues to send ripples, and I think it’s what makes updating you guys so difficult sometimes. Because it truly is one thing after another, it feels like I’m always complaining about something new. Either that or it sounds like I am the unluckiest, most jinxed person on the planet – but that’s not true either. The truth is, with chronic illness, life is one big ripple effect.

I went outside and reacted to the air. That messed up my lungs and caused me to go on steroids. The steroids caused me to develop Cushing’s Syndrome. This, along with about a million other side effects, made reducing the steroids an intensely painful process, leaving me exhausted, medicated and immobile. Being immobile has increased my joint stiffness and caused muscle fatigue. As the steroids go lower in my system, the pain from the Spondylitis has increased as the inflammation in my body increases. That increased pain in my spine and neck has caused migraines. The exhaustion and general havoc wreaked on my immune system has left me susceptible to illness, which is what I’ve been left with this week. Sore throat, ear infection, cough… that voice I was getting used to hearing is all but a whisper again. And that means more medications, which messes with my stomach, which…Oh, you get the point.

But such is life with a disease. One decision made at the beginning of June is still causing new problems in the middle of September. And that above paragraph only covers about half of it. But I also know that, sooner or later, those ripples fade away as they reach the shoreline. One ripple at a time, they eventually dissipate into nothingness and cease to exist.

The pond is the big picture, and it can be overwhelming to take it all in. But I find that looking at each individual ripple, each individual setback as it’s own entity, helps me to stay focused. It allows me to look at big problems and see them as many small hurdles. And it also allows me to find what may look like small accomplishments in the grand scheme of things, and turn them into things to celebrate.

Kind of like now. I have many small hurdles… I am sick, fighting headaches, managing pain… but I’m also celebrating because while it seemed like an insurmountable task a few months ago, I am finally going to be completely weaned off of these steroids on Sunday!

Will that mean that next week will seem any different than last week? Probably not… but it’s one ripple that is now dissipated into the shore. It’s one change that will have it’s own yet-to-be-seen ripple effect as well, and they will hopefully be ripples that will set things on a better course.

And that is something to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


This title is fitting in so many ways. I’ve been dealing with daily migraines for the last week, resulting in some “blooming” headaches [that was my attempt at being witty]… which is one of the reasons I’ve been even more absent than usual. But there’s something I’ve been wanting to make sure you all know about so I figured it was about time I turned on a light and pulled myself back into the land of the living. Or the land of the blogs, as the case may be.

So what could be so important, you ask?

My friends Jessica and Angie, two of the busiest women I know, decided they simply had too much time on their hands and needed another project.

Lucky us… because they decided to have a book club. But what started as a book club has taken on a new life and, before it’s even started, has turned into an entire community of people who have come together to support each other and grow in all aspects of their lives.

Such a community needed a name, of course. And a blog. And a Ning site. So I’m here to tell you about this new adventure called:


Isn’t it cute?

The first book they’re going to be reading is Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This is the explanation from the Bloom site: Each week we will do a blog post about the chapter assigned from the previous week (i.e.: on Sept. 13 we will blog about the intro and chapter 1). Then that Wednesday, guest bloggers will write a post about the the chapter/topic of discussion/something relevant. We believe this will be a great way to get different opinions and encourage conversation. We are really excited about the contributors who are on-board – we have pastors, writers, all kinds of fun people.

So… if you want to give this a try just check out their blog, go grab a copy of the book and join in the fun! Of course, I joined. Because I’m a joiner. And because I just like Jess and Angie so much I could never say no to them anyway. And when you watch the video of them below you’ll understand why every time I talk to Jess, I hang up the phone and start plotting ways to move to Nashville and stow away in her guest room. [The video, by the way, was meant to be informative, but turned into a hilarious outtake reel instead.]

And if you don’t think these two ladies are reason enough to dream of a relocation to the land of country music, pay attention to the guest star of the video, Jessica’s sweet Elias. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but Elias stole mine about a year ago and is keeping it Nashville until further notice.

Bloom Introduction from angie smith on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

But Can You Believe My Voice?

My friend Kelly and I have a bit of a running joke going when she checks in to see how I’m doing. Because really, I don’t have a lot of positives to toss out when it comes to my body and health right now. Pain, migraines, immobility, exhaustion, my ever-expanding cheeks, a myriad of new complications, yada, yada, yada…

But after I get about halfway through the update on what’s happening that day I get to throw out, “But can you BELIEVE how great my voice sounds?!?!”

Because people, I have a voice again. And I’m milking that positive for all it’s worth. :)

One of the things that came about at my last doctor appointment was the suggestion that an air filtration system be installed in my condo. I am incredibly fortunate to have an ill and handicap waiver that can cover home modifications, and this type of system fell within that purview. After doing some research we settled on an air purifying system that installs right into my furnace/air conditioning unit so it would cleanse my whole condo by running the fan continuously.

Truly, we all kind of considered it a preventative measure. In reading the literature it talked about taking harmful stuff out of the air and preventing flu viruses and illnesses… I just figured it would hopefully help keep me from getting sick, and maybe keep my breathing from getting worse.

I really didn’t anticipate it making anything better.

Wow. Was I in for a shock.

They installed the system on a Tuesday, and by that Friday [that’s only four days, people] I was getting my voice back, breathing easier and no longer doing my nebulizer treatments. Treatments I was doing three to four times a day just to breathe. And my voice… other than short periods of time last winter, I hadn’t heard my normal voice in over a year. I had almost forgotten what it sounded like, becoming used to the quiet, raspy sound that had taken over.

So, while I thought my lungs and voice were still bad because of the severe reaction I had to the air when I left the house to go to the doctor, in reality I was reacting to the air inside my house. I was both relieved to have a solution that allowed me to breathe again, and totally freaked out that my sensitivities are that out of control. What has been really interesting, however, is learning all the things I’m allergic to around my house that I hadn’t realized.

Before, when in a constant state of reaction, my breathing was always bad, my voice always gone, my ears and throat always sore. So if I came in contact with something I was allergic to, I didn’t always notice because I was already symptomatic. Now, it’s a whole other story. The other day I was in the bathroom and put on some face powder… same stuff I’ve been using for ages… and within minutes my breathing was labored, my voice was gone, my ears and throat started to burn.

I’m allergic to freaking face powder and had no idea.

Yes, we can all acknowledge now how ridiculous that is and how weird my life has become. But you know what? MY VOICE SOUNDS GREAT. And breathing is not overrated, people. It’s a nice little perk in daily living, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I realize in order to have that perk I’m required to live in the bubble of my clean-air condo, but I have to say… breathing is worth it.

I’ll even sacrifice face powder for the privilege.