the key

Today I’m going to tell you all a little story about a key. Honestly, I’d meant to write about it a long time ago, but all the drama involving my eye overshadowed this tale. I probably wouldn’t be writing about it now, however, it’s been so interesting watching people get up the courage to ask me, “So what’s with the key around your neck?” It’s happening several times a week now. It made me realize I never really told anyone why.

If you’ve been reading along on this blog for any length of time you know I’ve been working so hard to correct my mental, emotional, and spiritual Sarah. It’s been a super hard process but I’m very proud of how far I’ve come. I still have a long way to go.

Back in October, on my 39th birthday, I bought myself a Giving Key. I think the Giving Key premise is so, so cool. I believe the movement was originally founded to help homelessness in LA. (I could have that wrong; don’t hold me to it.) Anyway, I bought a key with a word on it, and I wear it on a chain around my neck. I’ll keep wearing it until I feel it’s done what I need it to do in my life, and then I give it away to someone who might need it next. (At least that is how I’m going to do it.)

On my 39th birthday I decided I wanted to start some good habits instead of the bad. I want to be in a better mental space by the time I get to my 40th birthday.

Confession time. Those who know me really well, those select few, know how I think and how I react, and more deeply know how I treat myself. I am not a very nice person to me. I let negative thoughts and ugly talk take over all my thoughts. I’m never good enough, smart enough, thin enough, talented enough… the list goes on. I am a perfectionist and everything I do always needs to be better. I’m never enough. I know these are lies, but when you tell yourself the lies over and over and over and over for years on end it is hard not to believe them.

My key has the word “GRACE” imprinted on it. It is there to remind me, every second, to give as much GRACE to myself as I give others. It’s there to remind me to give myself the GRACE that God has given to me. I would never in my life say any of the things I say to myself to others. It’s cruel.

For the most part, it is doing what I need it to do. It just takes a while to correct a habit that is years in the making. But I have to try. 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: tacos. I really want a taco.
SONG OF THE DAY: “Bring My Flowers Now” by Tanya Tucker

the first cut is the deepest

Hidey Ho, Neighbor! Can anyone name the show?

Wowza, that first week of this year was a doozy. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t officially the “first” week, but it was the first for me. What even is WORK?

This week in a nutshell: I had an eye doctor appointment, I got strep throat, and I listened to a LOT of Dolly Parton.

First things first…my eye doctor appointment. It’s no secret I was hoping for good news but maybe anticipating the worst? I’ve been seeing a surgeon for my eye since the first week of my infection. For several weeks I was seeing him every day, and then every other day, and then twice a week, and this was my first appointment in 6 weeks. He’s seen me so frequently he wanted a period of time to gauge healing. The infection has been gone officially for about 8 weeks, but the scar tissue left behind is significant. It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 months since this all happened. Since my life changed dramatically.

The results…no change. He measured the size of the scarring on my cornea and it’s identical to 6 weeks ago. The density (or thickness) is still the same. And the vision in my eye (with my glasses on – my prescription before the infection) is the same. What does that mean? Well, it’s kinda done doing anything fast for now. It *might* get a little better but we are talking years and not months or weeks. So. So, now I know what I’m dealing with.

At the end of February I have an appointment to get my vision checked again. This will help me establish what the new, stronger prescription will be in my bad eye. The hope is they will be able to try to correct the vision in my bad eye as best as they can, however, the distortion is never going to go away. The fractures, the smudges, and fog…I’m stuck with that. My right eye is never going to be *right* again. He said he will see me again in a year and we will evaluate again next steps. Oh, he also changed out my steroid drops for a lower, more long-term version. I’m still putting drops in my eye twice a day for at least the next 3 months.

I expected this news deep down, but it was still crushing to hear. This is my life now. I’ve got to figure it out. It’s my hope I’ll eventually get comfortable with driving. And really bright places. And depth perception. I miss running and I miss hiking, both of which I stopped completely because almost everything I see I have to guess where it actually is.

Sitting here now, a few days post appointment, I’m sad but I’m also a planner. I’ll figure this out. I need those contacts and then I’ll start this new thing all over again.

In other news, I was also diagnosed with strep throat this week. Not fun at all. I’m on day 4 of antibiotics and finally feeling the razor blades in my throat retreat. Happy day.

Lastly, Dolly Parton! She was the first artist I drew out of my 2020 music jar. I knew all of her “big” hits but some of there other stuff is SO GOOD. I’m going to start a playlist of my favorites from this 2020 music project. If anyone would like to follow along, message me and I’ll share it with you. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites from Dolly:

  • Here You Come Again
  • Down From Dover
  • Just Because I’m a Woman
  • Two Doors Down
  • Jolene (because of course)
  • Eagle When She Flies (the best. You’ll cry.)

Have a great week everyone!

TODAY I LOVE: lavendar

SONG OF THE DAY: “Eagle Then She Flies” by Dolly Parton

ewwww, david. no.

(from Life.Church)

Do any of you have any phrases that you say to yourself just out of habit? I do. It’s usually under my breath, and almost always after I’ve done something dumb or I’m overwhelmed. It is always, “Oh my goodness, Sarah. What in the world.” (Not a question, just a statement.) I have said that a LOT lately. I also keep repeating Alexis’ line from Schitt’s Creek, “Ewwww, David. No!” almost anytime I have to do something I don’t want to.

To start, some updates. So far the infection has been gone for 1 week, and even with constant rechecks it hasn’t returned. H-O-O-R-A-Y. That’s the good news. The bad, the scar tissue on my cornea is just horrid. I think I’ve finally found the perfect description of what it is like. Imagine trying to look through 6 pieces of saran wrap (cling film). Everything is warped and distorted. Driving is awful and brings me a lot of anxiety every time I have to get behind the wheel. But I’m making it, adapting, learning how to groove with what I have. Our bodies are kind of amazing. I’m not sure the timeframe on all the healing I have remaining, I just keep being told to have patience. As any woman knows, being told to “Calm down and relax” is almost always going to give you a very different reaction. 🙂

Elimination diet…haven’t talked about it for a while. I had made it through the full 9 weeks having concluded that food is not the cause of my discomfort. I did, however, glean some pretty great info on foods that DO cause some kind of reaction in me. Because of that, and because I was just so used to the diet by that point, I kept it up and I’m still staying pretty close to it even now. I eat very little grains/gluten. Very little legumes. Very little dairy (only some hard cheese…I told you I love cheese.) Little to no eggs. I will forgo all of these rules at Thanksgiving because there are just some things you get at holidays that you can’t enjoy any other time throughout the year.

So what am I doing now? I’m trying to smile every day. I’m surrounding myself with people who care about me. I’m not running outside yet due to the eye (depth perception is not great at all), but I’m doing yoga and loving it. I’m not sitting home alone every night. I’m putting myself out there and allowing vulnerability in a variety of ways. I’m intentionally trying hard to be encouraging to others. I often am reminded of the Brandi Carlile lyrics in one of my favorite of her songs, “do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?” I even have that on a t-shirt. 🙂

This weekend I heard the phrase, “A waiting season is not a wasted season.” Oh so true! All of this is going to add up to something…and it might be where I am currently. Like I’ve said over and over the course of this year…I have to be ok with where I am, otherwise the human in us is only going to see the darkness and how far we still have to go. Where I am now, EVEN WITH MY JANKY BROKEN EYE, is better than where I was. Every single time someone tells me, “You are different.” I am smiling. Because I am.

TODAY I LOVE: The Netflix show “Schitts Creek.” I LOVE THIS SHOW.
SONG OF THE DAY: “That Wasn’t Me” by Brandi Carlile

a sight to see

Where do I even begin? When I last wrote my birthday was on the horizon and I was super optimistic about October and the goals I was ready to smash out. Yeah, so none of that really happened. Ok, my birthday happened. But that is it. I am indeed 39 years old. Father Time decided to kick me right in the right eyeball.

If you follow me on any social media channels you know that I’ve been fighting the worst eye infection EVER. But Sarah, how did it happen? That seems to be the most prevalent question I get asked. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Truthfully, we kind of have no idea.

One morning I woke up and went to work and my right contact was bothering me. No big deal. We had a big weather front moving in and my sinuses were full of pressure and protesting so I didn’t even think twice about my eyes. Both eyes were watering and my nose was running, all from sinus pressure. I got home that night, took out my contacts, and went to bed. I was woken in the middle of the night by pain in my eye. Searing, something-is-stuck-in-my-eye pain. I tried everything I knew to do to flush out my eye. It felt like I had a piece of glass under my top eyelid. I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night for the pain. I called my eye doc the next morning and got in that afternoon. There was nothing in my eye, but it had a pretty nasty corneal abrasion (fancy term for I cut my eye). Doc put a contact bandage on it and loaded me with antibiotic drops, as I was supposed to fly to Florida the next day for a work trip. Needless to say, it was dramatically worse by the next morning so I didn’t leave.

24 hours apart

I went back to the eye doc that next morning and you know it’s bad when they say, “Holy s*&^, it’s literally getting worse as you’ve been sitting here!” Within 24 hours my eye went from normal to zombie. There are no compound pharmacies open on the weekend, so the doc had me putting antibiotic drops in my eyes every 30 minutes – all day and all night. You got it, no sleep. They just didn’t want it to get worse. And it kept getting worse. And the PAIN. You guys I can’t even describe the pain.

By Monday they had me working with an Eye Disease & Injury Doc and a surgeon. Alternating.

I’m in week #3 of the healing process. We are in the middle of a delicate balancing act. I still have infection in my eye that we need to treat with some super-charged-cost-as-much-as-a-house antibiotics, and also dealing with my newly mangled cornea. You can’t really do both at the same time. Nobody knows yet what the fallout to my vision is going to be once we get the infection eradicated and determine scar damage on my cornea.

But Sarah, how did this happen? I seem to get two answers. I guess this type of thing is relatively common with contact wearers, although no doctor I’ve spoken to yet has found any fault in my procedures. I’ve worn contacts for probably 20 years. Second, water. Everyone keeps freaking out about water. And I flushed that eye out with water A LOT when I thought there was something stuck in it. Hey guys – don’t do that.

All that said, I’m trying really hard to make the best of it. It’s hard to have a great attitude all the time when it’s very hard to see and I feel like I look like a troll. My friends have been ah-mazing. There is no way I could have done this without my friends and family and co-workers. I have a very long list of thank-yous to write. I’m mentally and emotionally in a good place. I’m thankful that if this had to happen to me, I’m glad it happened now rather than earlier this year when I broke.

So. I’ll leave October with a kiss on the cheek and a wave. Maybe a small smack on the back of the head. GOOD-BYE. I look forward to SEEING you, November. I have good feelings about you. 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: steroid eye drops…manna from heaven
SONG OF THE DAY: “Killing you, Killing Me” by Jamestown Revival

goals, direction, and starting to see light.

Seeing the light arriving

Greetings, my friends! And Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is having a great and relaxing weekend. It has been raining off and on yesterday and today and honestly it’s been nice to chill for a hot minute. I did quite a bit of socializing this week and was oh-so-ready for a day to be a hermit and recharge.

I do apologize that my writing has been so sporadic lately. I certainly didn’t intend for this to blog to only be used when I’m feeling down in the dumps. Now that I’ve made great strides crawling out of the dark place, I guess I’m trying to decide which direction to take this thing now.

First things first, some updates. This week will be Week 6 of my elimination diet. As I said in my last post, I’ve been adding things in and taking them out for a few weeks now. Even though I do believe now that most of my health issues are being caused by something other than food, it has been very enlightening to find out what foods do cause a reaction of any kind in my body. I *think* I’ve found out this week that dairy actually increases my heartburn. This makes me very sad, as cheese is practically one of my love languages. Anyway, the experiment continues. After that first week I’ve managed to maintain my calories at my normal level. Cravings are gone. I sleep well (for the most part). I don’t have a headache everyday. All that to say, I’m going to keep this experiment going for a while.

Beginning September I started running again. I’ve also added in yoga (in addition to strength training.) I’m really, really enjoying it. I’m not sure what finally made the switch flip in my brain, but I’m looking forward to workouts again rather than seeing them as a chore. I’m also looking forward to setting some goals for each of those areas for October. I haven’t set any kind of athletic goal in AGES! This is great mental progress for me.

So, where do I go from here? Someone told me this morning, “Every time I see you you’re always smiling! It makes me smile.” I guarantee the gal who said it had no idea how much it effected me, and probably not even for the reason that you’d imagine. I think maybe after all these months I’m finally figuring out that it really is all up to me on my perspective of things. I’m not in control of anything and I need to stop trying to grapple for it like a lifeline. I can’t control what people think of me, I can rarely control what happens to me. The one thing I can control? My perspective. If I can do that then the lows won’t be so low. The highs are even higher. And every thing isn’t nearly so dark. Life is quite a lot sweeter when you let it happen.

I’m looking forward to this week. I’m going home this weekend for our fall festival. I haven’t been back to it in probably 15+ years. This would normally probably cause me anxiety…but it’s going to be ok. I’m going to choose to look at is as an opportunity to enjoy some folks I haven’t seen in quite some time. Plus the parade! Band nerds unite! What are you looking forward to this week?

TODAY I LOVE: dry shampoo (seriously gals, am I right?!)
SONG OF THE DAY: “Alice from Dallas” by Foy Vance

heartburn.

I changed my hair color this week. I needed change. I am obsessed with it. Red!

Hello all. I know I’ve been MIA the last several weeks and I’m sorry for that. Life has been happening.

Lots of life has been happening. Real life with hard emotions, big decisions, love, loss, and forging forward. And with all that stuff, I just needed to turn inward and work through it. I’m still working through it and that’s ok. At any rate, I don’t want to talk about it, but it all leads me to where I am this day.

The anxiety/stress/emotional drain of all the things made all my symptoms (acid, nausea, etc.) return. Therefore, as food as been constantly the same with no changes in 4 weeks, I think it is safe to say my issues are something else (not entirely food related.) So, although this extreme diet didn’t give me the results I was ultimately looking for (solving my health issues), it DID help me know that with that variable constant, it is something else in my body that is wrong.

I’ve slowly started adding some food back into the rotation. I cannot tell you how very wonderful that first cup of coffee tasted. Best cuppa ever. It does, however, give me heartburn. It has been fascinating adding food back in and monitoring what it does to me. For instance, either gluten OR sugar make my sinuses stuff right up and make it hard to breathe. I ate at cookie and within an hour my sinuses were swollen. WEIRD. I haven’t had another one to test it again.

My next steps on my health journey will be to get back in touch with my doctor and see what’s up. Ulcer? Overactive hiatal hernia? Yeah, I don’t know. I do know this: I have GOT to get my stress/anxiety under control and managed.

I added yoga into the mix this week. I’ve never really given yoga fair shake and I kinda feel bad about that. I found an app that has yoga “classes” and I’m hoping by adding this at the end of my day and focusing on the breathing and the mindset, it will help me mentally just as much as physically. I’m about as flexible as a concrete pole, so we shall see how this goes. 😀 I’ve been practicing this habit for a week now and I can definitely say it has helped me mentally. I do it right when I get home from work, consciously trying to let out the bad and in the good and LET. THINGS. GO.

Thanks for hanging with me. I still have the note “Not Today” taped to one of my computer monitors at work. I’ve been staring at it a lot this week, remembering why I put it there in the first place. Not Today. Not Today. Today I will not give into all the feelings that brought me to the bottom.

TODAY I LOVE: savasana (corpse pose in yoga)…I can do this one.
SONG OF THE DAY: “God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise” by Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dogs

changing my perspective

Just me…starting to find clarity in the fog

There are so many different directions I thought about writing this post. It has been a week of so many different reflections and observations. Which do I pick?

Last week I told you all how I was beginning an Elimination Diet this week. Well, I did started it. Y’all…it’s not easy. There are more things that you CAN’T eat versus what you can. It makes business lunches and social lives very difficult. I wouldn’t be surprised if I refuse to eat ground turkey for YEARS after this is all over.

The point of this post is not the diet, but I do want to give a few physical things that have happened over the course of these last 7 days. I’ve still been measuring and tracking what I’m eating, not to control (diet) but to make sure I’m getting enough calories. It is a lot tougher than you think trying to get enough calories when all you can eat (for the most part) is veggies, fruits, and turkey. I’ve ranged between 1,300-1,600 calories each day. My one 1,600 calorie day was a huge achievement. I was pleased. 🙂 So, things I’ve noticed so far…I sleep very well. Sound. My legs haven’t ached. I haven’t taken an allergy pill all week. No Pepto and I’ve been able to lessen the antacid to just 1 pill a day most days. No bloating. The downside: major, major, excruciating headaches. I think I’m going on day 4 of the headache from hell. I’m sweating more than usual. It’s weird and GROSS. Working out was hard. Very hard. Honestly, it’s all been hard. And I don’t foresee it being easier next week. Or the week after that.

It’s only been one week, but I already have things I’m learning about myself and the people I surround myself with, and I’m not talking physical things. I’m learning who is really with me and who isn’t. I’m learning that I am very strong and when I set my mind to something, I have the discipline to do it 100%.

This morning in church the message was on perspective. I’m not going to go into the religious side of things, because that’s not really what this blog is about, but the overarching topic of “perspective” is definitely going to be something I use as a tool for this coming week. I can continue to look at all the things I cannot do or cannot eat or how very miserable I am, OR I can try to look at it differently.

I’m able to do this; I have healthy wholesome food at my disposal. I’m taking my health in my own hands. This type of fast is really helping me zero in on WHO and WHAT matters. The things that make me happy are all the more sweeter.

Week 2, here I come.

TODAY I LOVE: fresh peaches from the farmer’s market
SONG OF THE DAY: “Burden” by Foy Vance