Whether you had a night in or a night out, I hope you all brought in the new year just how you wanted to!
Loooooong post here. Grab a cup of coffee or scroll through to what might interest you. I’ve got a mouthful today. Or is it a fingerful if your’e typing? Fingerful? Yeah, I kinda like it.
The New Blog Look
I’m ecstatic to be starting off the New Year by writing this post with my new look on the blog! Softer colors, (Thank you Tess for the new Graphic up above. She knew exactly what I wanted!) updated tabs at the very top on the menu bar (Yay!), I’ve now added categories which means future post and some of my most recent post will be easier to scroll through if you’re only looking to read about a particular topic like Breast Cancer or Camping or my WW Journey. I’ve included a tab up top for Breast Cancer Support. I still have a lot of work to do on the recipe tab, but the recipe tab has been empty for several weeks and those are now back. In the recipe tab I’ve included “Links to other recipes” because, well writing recipes just doesn’t seem to be my thing but other people do it really well!
I hope that with these updates I can refer readers to the blog to share my Breast Cancer and My WW Journey in hopes of encouraging and informing as many people as I can. I want this to be an easy space to navigate and I think these changes will help. If you’re just interested in my camping adventures, well, I made that a tab up top as well!
In each post I plan to continue to share what I’m eating, what activity I’m up to, what new habits are helping me live my best life and what my biggest challenges are along the way.
I’m not sure how many current readers have been here since day one, but I’m so happy that so many of you have stuck with me, and if you’re new here, Welcome!
Now for some catching up and a peek into an exciting 2020!
Holiday Season 2019
We had the kids and grandkids over for a Taco Bar and game night on NYE. I insisted on a game of Charades and Pictionary and everyone was a great sport and participated. It was even more fun than I was expecting it to be!
Shortly after 9:00 pm we celebrated with a cute little countdown on Netflix? I think that is where they found it. It was a kids 10 second countdown you could do at anytime and it was perfect since we have three two year olds that needed the night to come to an end! Ha!
We all toasted with champagne and kids champagne and gave kisses. At least I think all of the kids had the kid champagne. Note to self: Buy red sparkling grape juice for the kids instead of white!
We wrapped up our last two weeks of a spectacular 2019 with a houseful of family and a little time socializing with friends. Tess and Manuel (and Tucker) came in from Dallas on the 22nd and we celebrated our Christmas by hosting an Open House for our family. We even had some out of town family come that we don’t get to see often.
Jake is always prepared to get a pic of the fam!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were actually kind of quiet with Manuel grilling us steaks for dinner and the remainder of the night spent playing Poker. I now own a Poker set!
Tess and Manuel were here through New Years Day and those several days were spent visiting family and friends, meeting other out of town family for brunch, hosting dinners and playing cards, a mani/pedi day for Tess and I, movie night for Mike and I and Tess and Manuel (Richard Jewell, really good movie), Tess and I went to CorePower for Yoga, lots of movies on the couch and watching the crew work on our new deck.
I’m exhausted! Like, soooo tired.
Tess and Manuel flew home late in the day on New Years Day and momma came home and took a nap.
Now I’m all rested and ready for 2020!
2019 Met it’s expectations!
I went into 2019 knowing it would bring healing and great things for me and my family and it did! I chose two words for the year. Mindful and Gratitude and I kept those two words close to me throughout the year.
My WW Journey
When I first starting blogging I was mostly blogging about the food I was eating and my activity. I’ve always talked “feelings”, but I was more focused on my food than anything. I took pictures everyday of the foods that I was eating and I talked about how many WW Points each meal was. I was hoping to give other readers ideas for meals if they happen to be a WW Member as well, or give anyone ideas really of healthy foods to eat and different ways to mix things up. I did walking challenges in hopes of encouraging others to stay active and yes I talked about my feelings about where I was on my journey, good or not so good. I’m an open book. Always have been. Now I’m an open blog? Maybe.
While obviously food and activity are still important to me, I’ve been blogging less and less due to now having an actual job and my post have become more about how I’m living my life than what foods I’m eating. I still like to include random photos of meals so you get some ideas, but I’ve become much more focused on Mindset now and I realize how important that has been for me in continuing down this road of healthy living.
I’m choosing foods that make me feel my best. I eat very little processed foods and each day I am getting in lots of fruits and vegetables, eggs and lean proteins. Lots of Chicken and some fish and seafood. I eat red meat about once a month. Over the holidays I remembered why I eat very little sugar. It does NOT make me feel good at all. I get in plenty of healthy unsaturated fats like raw nuts, avocados and heathy oils. I aim for 80-100 ounces of water a day. It not only keeps me hydrated but it also helps to keep me full in between meals. I’ve recently reduced my coffee intake because it helps in reducing the hot flashes so I’m now drinking more herbal tea.
I’m hanging out in the 170’s and I feel healthy and confident. That is my “Why”. I want to feel healthy and be healthy. I want to be confident in the choices that I am making. Learning my BMI during a visit to the Lymphedema specialist (part of breast cancer follow up appointments due to lymph nodes being removed) this year really validated for me that I am living a healthy life. Expressing Gratitude and being Mindful are largely responsible for a successful and healthy 2019.
Are you living your best life? What does that look like for you? Answering that question was key for me in figuring out what it was that I needed to do.
WW Coach and Ambassador
This has been a great year for me with WW as a Coach and as an Ambassador. I am now Coaching 7 Workshops each week and I love my members and my schedule is perfect. I have so much excitement going into each Workshop curious to what members will be sharing each week. I leave each Workshop with new motivation and inspiration for my own journey.
The Ambassador program has been such an unexpected part of my WW Journey. The WW Social Team regularly sends us products to try, missions to post on Social Media and nice little surprises to thank us for our Social Media Post bragging about just how awesome WW is!
Just a few favorite memories from 2019 with WW.
Love and Marriage
The beginning of 2019 was about Wedding planning for Tess and Manuel. Planning an out of town wedding is no easy task, but really Tess did all the hard work and I just tried to be supportive and do what I could from KC.
They were married 3/30/19 and bought their first house this Fall. So happy for these two! It’s so fun to watch your kids fulfill their dreams.
I remember a friend asking me after the wedding what I was going to do now. Without hesitation I said, get nipples and buy a vintage trailer!
So, I did.
Breast Cancer and moving forward
Nipple reconstruction just days after the wedding and a tattoo 8 weeks later wrapped up my breast reconstruction and the reconstruction phase was a chapter I was happy to put behind me.
I had two scares this year discovering a lump two different times in my breast and then having an ultrasound with each one to confirm that I was fine. One lump was a cyst that my doctor said may have formed after my surgeries and there was absolutely no reason to be concerned. That cyst has now disappeared. The second lump found months later was fat necrosis (dead fat) from my fat grafting procedure during breast reconstruction. That remains there but completely harmless.
I continue to do monthly self breast exams which sounds confusing to many since I had a double mastectomy. A mastectomy is no guarantee that 100% of the breast tissue was removed, so as recommended by my doctor, regular breast exams are still important.
I have now passed the two year mark of cancer free so my appointments with the breast surgeon and the oncologist have gone from every three months to every six months. This feels so good. I still hate walking through that door for those appointments. So many raw emotions still there that I guess I can’t explain.
I just finished my second year of taking Tamoxifen. It is an estrogen blocker women diagnosed with ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) breast cancer take after treatment. Some women for 5 years, others for 10. Taking Tamoxifen reduces the risk of a cancer reoccurrence by 50%. Based on my diagnosis and pathology reports, even with the double mastectomy, I have a 12% chance of reoccurrence. Taking the Tamoxifen for 5 years reduces that to 6%. I’m not loving the side effects but I am adapting. Hot flashes and joint pain are the most common and certainly what I am dealing with. I have accepted the hot flashes but the joint pain has been hard to accept knowing I have another 3 years of this. Moving more helps so it’s one more reason to stay active. I had blood work done at my last oncology appointment and it seems my Vitamin D was very low ( I miss you sunshine!) and so was my B12, so now I’m taking supplements and that has helped significantly with the joint pain! So happy about that as it the joint pain was really trying to bring me down and I was adamant to stay up!
I fulfilled a dream of mine two weeks after the wedding and drove 5 1/2 hours to Iowa where I would pull home my very own Vintage Travel Trailer. I learned how to change out light fixtures and operate a power saw. With my dads guidance, I built a dinette area in my little trailer that was missing when I bought her. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I named her “Effie”. I absolutely love her and as much fun as I had with her my first summer, I can hardly wait to spruce her up a bit with a few projects that I have in mind and take more trips. I’m not so certain distance is my goal here, but I am anxious to explore Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and see what beautiful campsites I can find and what interesting people I’ll meet along the way.
Yesterday I booked my first trip that I will be taking with a womens camping group the first weekend in May. I booked a site right on the lake. I’m so looking forward to that trip!
My trips last year involved a lot of learning the ropes of towing and leveling the trailer at the campsite. I was happy to be traveling with my dad and stepmom and meeting their camping friends, and I felt like I needed several trips with them to get comfortable before heading out on my own. As the summer went along I was feeling much more confident and by November 1st I decided to go it alone. Like I didn’t realize how alone I would be but I was in heaven. I ended up with a beatufuil view of the lake and not a camper in site. You can read about that solo camping trip if you’d like. It was kind of magical.
These are a few favorite pics from different trips this year. It was so nice to be able to throw Little Red in the back of the truck and take her camping with me!
Creating New Spaces
We’ve had several projects going on here. Some big, some small. I love creating new spaces and it’s been a few months of being able to do that.
I made a Chalkboard Wall in the basement for the kids after a few years of saying that I was going to do it. Such a great space for them to be able to express creativity or keep score of a ping pong game.
I painted a dark red hall bathroom with white and pale yellow and lightened up the whole room. How weird is it that I like to go in there and admire the peace. I know. Weird. But its so pretty and the colors feel fresh and calming.
I completely emptied out the basement TV room that was Jakes bedroom growing up (it was never used as a TV room like we thought it might be, like never). I removed a couch, love-seat, two end tables, two lamps and a very large coffee table. All of it. Gone. I filled this space with Julie things and made it my office. I’m in it now. This is one of my favorite projects. It’s a little bit of everything, nothing matches, its very personal, its cozy, its quiet, its mine. I needed a space of my own to work, to blog, to read, to journal and anything else I wanted to do in a quiet space. The TV is built in so it is still here but I’ve only had it on a handful of times. I love this space!
Where my desk was upstairs on the main level has now become a space with a bench for shoes and above that racks for coats for when everyone comes over. It turned out exactly how I hoped that it would.
Those are all of the small projects.
That brings me to the house addition. Well, kind of an addition. Our 20 year old deck was in need of serious repair. Really, we needed to tear it down, so we did.
We’ve had a crew working here for the last several weeks building a larger covered screened in deck. I plan on spending a lot of my 2020 out there no matter what month it is! We are adding a fireplace, ceiling fan and TV, so it’s pretty much a nice new space to have for when the house is full, or when we feel like curling up to watch a movie or a football game, or even an early Spring baseball game outside with a fire. I am soooo excited for this new space!
We’re also adding a patio for those days when ya wanna soak up some Vitamin D. Apparently I need more it!
I think due to the deck and patio we’ll be skipping any trips this year. We may change our minds later in the year, but for now we’re super content watching this project progress.
I will be going to see Oprah in Dallas on her 2020 Vision Tour in February with several other WW Ambassadors that I have never had the chance to meet in person and I am so excited! Have you heard anything about her 2020 Tour? She started off this week in Ft Lauderdale and Lady Gaga was her celebrity guest! I’m already hearing amazing and inspiring things about this event!
Anne and her three kids on Halloween sending us the happy news that we get another grand baby in April! If you were with me a couple of years ago, you might remember that the youngest in this picture was coming into the world in the passenger seat of the car while dad was driving them to the hospital. He was actually born in the car in the hospital parking lot while the other two kids freaked out in the backseat! Always fun over here!
While Kate and Shelby have decided that four is enough, Jake and Jordan have assured us that they will be having more and I’m hoping for twins from Tess and Manuel. Ahhhh. I can hardly wait to meet our future grand babies!
On one of my favorite camping trips over the summer I met Melissa. We just clicked and spent an extra day at the campsite together. We spent the third day on the lake with our Kayaks. She is kind and spiritual and interesting and warm and just all things good. We have kept in contact and several weeks ago she sent me an invitation to her Vision Board 2020 party. I had never been to a Vision Board party but I loved the idea of it.
She said to bring scissors and magazines.
What a great way to spend reflecting with some amazing women that I had never met before. They all knew each other and were much younger than I but they all graciously welcomed me and I loved my afternoon with these ladies. So many interesting and inspiring individuals here in this picture. Melissa is on the far right, back row.
She has this great space in an old building downtown. She had 12 spots set up at tables loaded with magazines, white boards and glue sticks. She had drinks and snacks and music playing and the vibe in the room was energetic.
We chatted for a while and she asked up to write on her chalkboard wall, which I just thought was super cool. After we had been sitting and working on our boards for a while she asked us to take a break and come together in the center of the room to form a circle and hold hands. She then went around the circle and asked us to share what we were grateful for. I’ve never met any of these women and I was so completely in my comfort zone and my element. I can’t really express how happy I was that she thought to include me, but I’m guessing our conversation in our Kayaks on the lake that day this summer had a lot to do with it. I’ll be seeing Melissa on my camping trip in May.
Do you make a vision board?
That brings me to today. Are you still reading? Seriously? Thank you!
A beautiful sunny Sunday in Kansas, where the sky is bright and so is the future.
I’m thinking about a word for the year. Do you do that? I have a few in mind and I haven’t settle on one yet, but I’m thinking “routine” and/or “boundaries”. More thought needed on that.
I look forward to hearing from all of you about what you have planned for your 2020!
Thank you for sharing this space with me.
“love the life you live, live the life you love”