Saturday, April 27, 2013

the new happy hour

It is so passé' to meet your girls for coffee or happy hour these days. It is all about the fun runs. Get exercise, build self-esteem while getting in your girl time. I mean honestly, I don't even want to run a plain ole' boring 5k anymore. The bar has been raised.

There are all kinds of cool, creative fun runs like Color Run and the Electric Run. But I'm really excited for my next run in June - the Pretty Muddy. 

It is a 5k adventurous obstacle course mud run for women. And I can't wait. So far, we have a team of five ladies that will getting muddy, sweaty and dirty and then partying it up at the finish line. There will be entertainment, music and drinks. Yep, you get to drink with the girls without feeling guilty...because it's like you went to the gym too. All in, fun and adult bevvies.

Sign me up, right?
Click here to register for a Pretty Muddy in your area.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Electric Energizer Bunnies

OMG! We had so much this past weekend. Yes, I am just barely getting to writing my weekend update. Lame...I know.

A few of my girlfriends and I ran the Electric Run. It is a nighttime 5k run featuring techno music and light shows throughout the course. Everyone dresses up in as much glowing and lighted accessories as possible. My girls took it to a whole new level.

This is us the Electric Energizer Bunnies.

It was great because our bunny ears had super strong, flashing lights so we could always find each other on the track. Plus a lot of spectators cheered us on by yelling "go bunnies" because they could distinguish our group from others in the dark. It was so much fun! Afterwards, we ended the night with some drinks and laughs at Hooters. It was a good time.

Um....yah. So don't ask about the girl riding the golden bear. LOL

Monday, April 22, 2013

join the movement...

the stigma of infertility. 

a mark of disgrace. loss of respect. shame. painful feeling of distress. these emotions primarily stem from the lack of understanding, support and awareness of infertility in our society.

That means we can eradicate this stigma or at least start to reduce it. 

by starting a conversation. 
by finding our voice. 
by sharing our struggles. 
by reaching out to a friend. 

remember, 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility. that means, if you know 800 people, 100 of them have suffered or are suffering trying to build their family. that is a lot of people. but their pain can be minimized through compassion and understanding.

yesterday was the start of national infertility awareness week. the theme this year is 'join the movement...' i'd like to encourage you to join the movement by starting a conversation. 

break the silence of infertility. 
share your story. 
speak up. 
advocate for NIAW through social media
blog to spread awareness of infertility.

sharing something as personal and painful as infertility is not easy. there have been many times that i've questioned my sanity for putting so much about my struggle out there for the world to judge. 

it's very scary. but each time doubt creeps into my mind about whether it is the right thing to do, i read emails and comments like the ones below from my readers.

When I read your blog it's like you are speaking on my behalf.... Even after all this time, I feel devastated that my marriage to my all time sweetheart of 18years (married for 10 yrs) hasn't gone as planned. If life were perfect I would already have 2 kids by now but I guess, like you, God has something different for me or is saving the best for last! 
Denise, Republic of Malta 
I stumbled upon your blog, really by accident, today. I sat compelled for hours reading over every single entry. I myself have be dealing with infertility for about 4 years now. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but there were so many things in your blog that hit home with me and I just had to say thank you.  
Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. For reminding me that there is always hope. For reminding me to be grateful for every single blessing I do already have. 
Chelsie, Pennsylvania 
I came across your blog today. I seriously just spent the last hour or so reading all your latest posts about your battle with fertility drugs and your recent decision to take a break from IVF.  
To be honest, I'm not quite sure the point of my email. I wanted to tell you that we, too, are struggling with infertility. However, unlike you, I haven't gathered the courage to talk about it on my blog yet. I'm not sure why. I think you are so brave and such an inspiration to be so open about it. And I feel your pain, sadness, and disappointment through this journey.  
So I just wanted to say, thanks, for your blog. Reading your posts today both broke my heart and gave me hope. I'm glad to have found someone who can understand what I've been feeling. Although I love my real-life friends, they just can't comprehend what this feels like.  
Anonymous blogger, Boston

these kind notes of gratitude from people around the world that i've never met...remind me that my words do make a difference. it is so important to discuss, write, speak, tweet, Facebook (whatever works for you)...about infertility. To lend support to others. To educate. To advocate for ourselves, for others walking in our shoes and for those who will walk this same difficult road someday. 
won't you join the movement?

if you haven't suffered from infertility, seek to understand. ask questions. don't make assumptions. learn more about may help someone you love. together...we can bring infertility out of the closet and reduce the stigma that's associated with it.
For more information on infertility, visit RESOLVE.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

a huge part of my life

Dear Boston,

You've been on my mind lately, old friend. So strong and fierce. I know you and your residents will get through the recent Marathon tragedies. Your people are resilient...with much pride for their neighborhoods and traditions. I remember being one of those people.

Do you remember? I was just a young lady, bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. Upon approaching college graduation, I pulled out a map and decided where I wanted to start anew. I chose you, Boston. With your immense history, New England charm and crazy Red Sox fans...I wanted to get to know you better.

Having never traveled farther than Nevada, it was a little bit scary packing up everything I owned and putting it in storage, saying goodbye to all of my loved ones and leaving my home state of California. But it was also exciting. When I landed at Logan airport, I only had two bags and a map of the "T". I didn't know a soul and had no clue where I was going...but I knew it was going to be an adventure and wild ride. You didn't disappoint, Boston.

Everything was so new to me...riding the subway, hearing your people's accents, your big tall buildings and waterfront. Especially the snow. Remember the first snow that I experienced? I walked all around your streets feeling the snowflakes land on my face and taking pictures of everything. It was so beautiful. All of the newness was exhilarating. Learning to navigate your transit system, finding my way through your neighborhoods, and discovering all your hidden gems.

We shared so many good memories, Boston. Meeting my first friend at the Sports Club. Shopping on Newbury Street. Sox and Celtics games. Working on the restoration and reopening your gorgeous, Ritz Carlton hotel. Drinking Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee on my way to work. Walking through the Common on a sunny day. Concerts at the Hatch Shell. Eating Mike's cannolis in the North End. Drinking beers in Southie. Sitting on my balcony in Brookline watching a summer thunderstorm. My first date with that Boston PD fellow at Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square. Learning how to use the word "wicked". Bonding with my roommate K, who I still miss to this day.

I'm filled with so many amazing memories visiting your New England neighbors as well. Fireworks over the water on 4th of July in Providence, Rhode Island. Salem at Halloween. Exploring Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Eating lobster and walking on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine. But my most memorable trip was walking the snow covered streets of Montreal and cuddling up by the fire in my plush robe at the Ritz Carton Montreal. 

You are the city that changed my life. Because of our time together, I grew and stretched. You taught me that I could do anything, go anywhere and I could do it all on my own. It was only a short year of my life that we shared but the experiences were some of the best of my life. I really lived when I was with you. It was like being a child again and wondering at every new discovery. All of my senses were on high alert. I really listened to every sound, tasted everything I ate and really took in every sight.  I breathed in every nuance of you, Boston. 

Thank you for being such a huge part of my life. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

coming to terms

I'm not sure why... pessimism, realism, maybe intuition. But I've been coming to terms with not ever being a mother. I really need to determine some vernacular that I'm comfortable with. "Childless" denotes a sense that you are not enough because you don't have children...and I refuse to accept that statement. "Child-free" sounds like you're living fancy free without kids which isn't true either. How will I refer to our plight in life?

Yes, we still have one more shot at IVF. Perhaps, if we're lucky, we'll have embryos to freeze and will have a couple FETs if our IVF fails. But honestly, if I got the beta results and they were positive...I'd be shocked. Truly floored. It's tough because I don't want to be negative. But in my heart of hearts, I just don't think IVF is going to work for us. With our first IVF attempt, I convinced myself that it was going to work. I was so positive and did everything I possibly could to make it a success (eat healthy, meditate, acupuncture) and my body didn't respond to the drugs.

Our minds are supposed to be so powerful...blah, blah, blah. But my faith, hope and positive mindset didn't have any impact on the outcome last time. So now, I'm just being honest. I don't think this whole conceiving a child thing is going to happen for us. 

We are so very close to the end of the road. Being done trying. I don't want to say "giving up" because I'm not a quitter. But at some point, you have to accept what is and quit fighting against your fate. For some women, they are willing to endure IVF after IVF...probably feeling like they are one more treatment away from having a baby. This could be true or not. One never knows. When enough is enough is different for everyone. But A and I agreed to one cycle of IVF and then we walk away from medical treatments. 

So the resolution is coming way or the other. My phone consult with Dr. S at CCRM is less than two weeks away. After that call, we will start IVF attempt #2. Speaking of IVF, my heart has been so heavy lately thinking about two of my blog friends Emily and Gypsy Mama who just received negative results from their first and second (respectively) IVFs. It just makes me feel so helpless because I know how deep their disappointment and sadness must be.  It just sucks. 

And despite all of the positive endings that many infertiles experience, I'm acutely aware that it doesn't end up that way for all of us. So whether it is premature or not, I'm coming to terms. I know that A and I will make the most out of our lives together (with or without a child) - love each other fiercely, travel often, and embrace the children in our lives. It won't be easy and there will be times that it will hurt like hell...but we will be happy. In the end, I only want one thing more than a be happy. And unlike my fertility, I can control my happiness.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

de-stress or die.

Stress is serious business.
We all know stress is bad...but bad enough to kill us?
The answer is yes...

I decided to write this post after coming off a particularly rough two weeks. I've gotten very little sleep, my shoulder muscles are in knots and a few nights ago...I even experienced chest pain. Not good.

But on top of the typical symptoms (listed below), my endometriosis tends to flare up when I'm stressed. I can't figure out if the stress itself causes it or if I neglect exercise and good nutrition which causes it. Whatever the case, I've been in a lot of pain lately which makes it difficult to manage my stress. Sigh.
When I did some research on the top reasons people are stressed, here's what I found. Many of us can read through this list and start checking things off...yep, uh huh, check, that one too. But reading this list made me feel somewhat relieved. It made me feel normal to know that other people experience stress for the same reasons that I do. Even though everyone's situation is different, these kinds of circumstances would put anyone in a tailspin...especially when you start stacking stressors on top of each other.

So work stress tops the list. Take a look at this stat.

Why do you think that is? Do you think it's just a perception problem? Do women just perceive things differently than men? I find it interesting.

When I evaluate my own work situation, it makes me laugh. Advertising Account Executives topped the Most Overrated Jobs of 2012 list. My career is inherently stressful due to the competitive nature of the industry, pressure of high expectations and constant deadlines. Yet, I've always thrived in the agency environment and been very good at my job. 

But when you take an already stressful job and you add the additional stressors like the ones listed in the graphic - co-worker drama, an unmanageable workload and trouble with bosses...that is a whole different thing all together. The last couple weeks have made me question whether I'm cut out for the business anymore. The answer: this is what I've always been called to do. Trust me...some days I wish I was called to be a dog walker or a librarian. But I'm not. 

I actually have a friend who was a VP at an esteemed advertising agency called Goodby in San Francisco and at the pinnacle of her career...she walked away from the stress and is a yoga instructor in Boston. True story! That takes balls. Big ones. But at the end of the day, she's happy and that is what matters most...not money, not status...just joy and contentment.

So what do we do about this little thing called stress? We gotta do something before we find ourselves "toe up" because of all that cortisol. Here are some suggestions.

And some more...

I'll be having myself a triple dose of - all of the above - this weekend. Except the one with the bikini because hubby left for work this morning and won't be back until Monday morning. {sad face} For those of you who are looking for an IVF update...I can't even think about that right now until my life calms down. Thank God I was not in the middle of a cycle right now...or it would've been a big, fat fail.

Hope y'all have a stress-free weekend.
 If you have any other stress-reduction tips, please share them in the comments. 

Source for graphics and statistics

Sunday, April 7, 2013

the house that God built

The houses our group built...weren't really built by us. They were built by Him. Through the unwavering love and faith that 135 high school students and 35 adults have for God. The kind of unselfish love that drives them to give up their Spring Break to serve others. To allow themselves to be used to do God's work through their hands.

our entire church group at our campsite
It was amazing to see high school kids come together for a greater purpose. There was no complaining, teenage drama or cattiness. Just everyone working hard for a common goal. The week was amazing and filled with so many memories and details that I could write ten more blog posts about this trip. But I'm going to try to fit it all in one.

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you at least a little bit about life at camp.
campsite | right: boy's tents | left: girls' tents
Every morning , we'd wake up at 7am to a trumpet and kids running down each aisle yelling wake up calls. When I rolled over, this is what I'd see...
one of my five tent mates smiling at me 
Or this.
plus a little grumbling
We'd get ready, eat breakfast, pack our lunches and drive to our work site - windows down, blasting tunes and singing - saying "hola" and waving to everyone we passed. Our truck would climb the steep, pot-holed road to our family's home.

the view on the drive
When we arrived at our work site, we'd enjoy some quiet time reading the bible and preparing our hearts for the long day of work in the hot sun.

on the loft the morning before the roof went on
Then we'd say our team manifesto work site chat + prayer and get to work.
this is our work site name and banner
 And here's our house being built.
painting with Emmanuel
our house after day one (outhouse is on left)
left to right: roofing | taking a break | dad with the family's three month old pet chicken | painting beams
our house after day three
On day four, finish the drywall, electrical and put door and lights in. 
alas, our house is finished
Seeing the emotion on our family's faces when we gave them the keys to their new home was so moving. It is something I'll never forget. Especially the dad. He said, with tears in his eyes, that he is so grateful and emotional...that there aren't words to describe how he's feeling. I really felt God's presence in that moment.

This is our family in Mexico. We prayed for their happiness. We worked alongside them for a week. Wrote bible verses on the interior walls to bless their home. And through God, built them a sturdy, beautiful house. I'm so blessed to have been a part of this experience. 

You go on a trip like this to give of yourself, serve others and bless another family with a house. What you don't that the blessings come back to you threefold. One of the biggest blessings for me were the people that I drove with, slept next to and worked alongside. People that I formed strong bonds through this shared experience. 

If you ever get the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and serve others, seize it. Your heart will become more full than you could ever imagine.
left to right: manifesto trip to the taqueria on our last day, Olivia my love, Becky with the biggest heart, the little boy who stands in the road every day to fill potholes for money, my fellow vegan leader, the tent crew and my tired girls on the drive home. 
If you missed the first two Mexico mission trip posts, click here and here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

a different way of life

The nice looking maroon house was built by a mission group.

When we drove into Mexico, the first thing I experienced was shock. It's a jolt to the system to see people living in such poverty. Living in my middle-class suburban community, I know there are so many people around the world struggling to fulfill even their most basic needs - shelter, food and clean water. But it is another thing entirely to see it. To stare it in the face.

Most of the people in the area we travelled live in extreme poverty. They save for years to buy a piece of land or lease it from the government. Then they are forced to build their house out of whatever scraps they can find. Many of the roofs on these houses are old advertising billboards. The residences do not have multiple bathrooms with flushing toilets like we have. They have outhouses with a hole in the ground and a bathtub (without running water).

Since people have so little, most of the dogs are wild and live on the streets. They are malnourished, covered in fleas and ticks and have no vaccinations. A great number of them are small puppies as it is too expensive to neuter the dogs.
These are the pups that were on my work site that I grew attached to.
Sadly, I don't suspect there is a high life expectancy for these animals. The roads are not paved and at least once a day you drive by a dog who was hit by a car laying off to the side. In the first 15 minutes in Mexico, I saw a dog with all of his ribs showing...dragging himself with his front two paws. His back hips and legs were completely dislocated and just being pulled behind his body. It was hard to see.

You probably know by now that I have a love for horses. Well, one morning when I was brushing my teeth, I spotted two horses tied up by a ranch. When I walked over to say hello, I realized how starved these horses must be. They were so bony and sad looking. It broke my heart. Next year, I'm packing a grip of baby carrots and sneaking some food to the horses.

The family we built a house for consists of husband, wife and four girls (ages 9, 10, 12 and 18). They were living in this house and the family only makes $40 a month.

This image captures the whole house almost in its entirety. There is a small room on the other side of the wall behind the couch. It is wide enough for a queen mattress and that is pretty much all it contains. The parents sleep in that room and children sleep here. Not a lot of room for a family of six.

But here's the thing. This is not a completely doom and gloom post. Everyone we encountered in Mexico seemed genuinely happy. As we drove to our work site in morning, we'd see people walking to get groceries or standing in their yards. They'd all smile, wave and say "hola". In most instances, people seemed much happier than the people I see everyday who have so much more. I really noticed it in the children. They were so joyful to do even the most simple things like paint with us or barrel down a dirt hill on a little plastic toy car.

It is just so surreal to know that people are living so differently less than 600 miles away. When I got back from Mexico, I felt a lot of guilt for the wastefulness in our society. I couldn't quite find the same pleasure in the luxuries. Things we take for granted, like a long, hot shower. Knowing that many people will never have the opportunity to take one, I struggle with enjoying it like I used to.

Yesterday, I looked sadly at a boy throwing a temper tantrum because his mom wouldn't my him the newest Xbox game at Target. It makes me wonder about our world and our priorities. The things we work ourselves to the bone for and value so much. Material things. I question my sanity as I think back on my 60 hour work week with only 20 hours of sleep due to stress-induced insomnia. The price I pay to be out of the office for a week. It's just things that make you go...hmmm.

Unfortunately, I don't have any grand, insightful ending to this post. Just that I'm permanently changed as a result of this mission trip and I'm struggling to make sense of it all. I know y'all really want to see the house we built. Promise it will be up in the next few days.

Blogging tips