Monsie

Redrock Playground

When I am feeling poorly, I love going on adventurous drives to the unknown. Nature is such a gift to us to enjoy. Earth is one big playground. It is much-like medicine to me. Even if you are not the outdoorsy type, I think it is important to take a moment to quiet the mind, to look around you. There are so many stressful scenarios amongst us, it is often challenging to take a moment to merely look at the moon and breathe. For me, I have always loved the outdoors. Everything about nature appeals to me. I remember when I was a child, I would sit myself near a window and stare at the moon for hours. Just, stare. Absolutely mesmerized in amazement. Trying to memorize each lunar crater placement that my eye could see. It quiets my spirit, giving me that stillness to listen to God while analyzing my growths and weaknesses. His creations brings me back to gratitude when I am feeling ill-tempered. It grows me each time I take an adventure.

Every day, take a moment.

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Health Update

The course of the last several months has been a mixture of fun and health ups and downs. Let’s cover the trying parts, shall we?

My health has been pretty stable for the past 2 years — no cancers and iron level has been stable with yearly intravenous iron therapy and supplements. The past year I have been rather quiet about an issue I have been experiencing internally. I have had a strange lump rollabout in my solar plexus region. The sensation started out feeling small and less troublesome. If I attempted to bend over, it would feel as if a marble rolled from my spine to the front of my chest. It was alarming, but did not hurt. After a few months, the sensations increased and the sternum pressure started. I went to my local hospital’s ER a few times for the fullness sensation I was experiencing in my chest. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, or my chest was craving in. Being safe, I listened to my body. I kept going into the ER and was diagnosed with different issues each time. Though I felt unsatisfied with each diagnosis, I went on living my life and hoped everything would work out itself.

Over the past year, my levels of uncomfortableness increased each day. Sleeping was now a lengthy process (I get about 3 hours of actual sleep per night lately — on a good night.) Laying down was like an elephant was upon my chest. My resting blood pressure would become menacingly low. Not to mention, eating was more of a chore than it had been. Eating binding foods such as breads, broccoli, and quinoa, for example, completely horrendous pressure afterward.

The past couple of months, I had a painful spot on my arm which did not appear to resemble Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), just alarmingly painful. The simple gentleness of fabric brushing against the spot felt like razors. I made an appointment with my wonderful Dermatologist, to perform a biopsy and hopefully remove most of it in one sitting (it was positive for SCC). During the numbing process, I became lightheaded and my chest felt aggravated and heavy, but I could feel myself blacking out. My doctor immediately saw my distress, and helped bring the blood back to my cranium. I spoke with my doctor about the issues I had been experiencing the last year, and he urged me to see my last G.I. doctor, not the local doctors in my small town since they don’t have the specialty to equip my disorder.

After a pre-visit appointment with Gastroenterology, we formulated a plan best for figuring out what may be the issue. Tomorrow, I am going in for a scheduled Esophagram and on July 29, the university scheduled me for an Endoscopy procedure. There is no guarantee whether the Esophagram will answer any questions, but I am praying it does. The exhaustion — physically and mentally — from this has been leaving me on empty. What could it be? There only has been speculation from a few doctors’ and nurses’ that my esophageal strictures (a complication due to Epidermolysis Bullosa) could possibly be worsening and/or developed a hiatal hernia. Whatever the issue, I pray I continue to have faith, strength, and a calm heart.      

Beautiful date with Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is beautiful. I am often taken back how close I live to such surreal beauty and mystery. Places like Bryce Canyon I could stare willing for hours especially the hoodoos which are pictured below. Photos don’t do justice. I happily captured a photo of the intelligent raven. Some were a bit too friendly because of people feeding them over the years. Please, I know those lovely pleading eyes may be irresistible, but refrain from feeding the wild.

 

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Salty Adventures

My dear bestie I often visit in California came to Utah to visit for a few days! With the sun coming back out plus Spring slowly coming into play, it really boosted my mood for the rest of the year. Truly, it is amazing medicine to see your closest friends.

The few photos I am posting here are from our first day of adventures: the Antelope Island in Salt Lake City and a few from Tribble Fork Reservoir in the Mount Timpanogas Alpine Loop. Antelope Island is the largest of the several islands of the Great Salt Lake. It is home to free-range bison, mule deer, foxes, coyotes, pronghorns, and many species of beautiful fowl. There are awesome trails and designated bike routes. If you ever visit, plan accordingly, preferably before July-August–less brine flies and rotten egg-like smell. Otherwise, I highly recommend visiting. Please be sure to visit my “Like” page for more photos I haven’t added here!

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Grief: It’s OK to be not OK

Going through grief has been a challenging roller coaster. My goal is to share my rawness of grief to others, and I am not saying my ways of grieving are correct. I have wanted to write on grieving especially when I lost one of my best friend’s, Jamie. However, life has been quite hectic followed by a few more people I have known that passed in 2014, last passing being in December. A dear person whom I was very close to, who treated me like their own blood. There is no preparing the tidal wave of emotions, survival’s guilt, and hopelessness felt afterward. The gut-wrenching heartache felt for the immediate family members and wanting to erase the pain and struggles that they may face without that person in their life.

While we all experience grief differently, we are all human. We share the similar emotions: sadness, fear, anger, joy, surprise, and love. For me, grieving is something I haven’t done well, or simply altogether avoided growing up. There is a resistance to sharing my emotions with others. I am almost afraid to cry especially in front of others. There were instances some would say I am emotionless, callous, or disconnected. When, in fact, that was the very opposite of what was going inside of me. In my case, I have had to be strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually from I could remember. My feelings run deep especially for those I care about. When sadness struck close to home, I would feel sadness followed by anger especially in death. In the past, I would usually let my tears flow in the darkness of night when everyone had fallen asleep. The next morning, I would push aside the sadness and put a smile on my face.

This time around, the grieving was almost unbearable for me to handle. Honestly, it was the first time in my life to really feel the ache of grief physically and emotionally. There were so many lives and scenarios of people dealing with a loss, and furthermore, dealing with knowing those people are gone here from earth. I went through rage, sadness, guilt, grieving, more rage then depression. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I would cry, but suddenly stop, thinking I needed to be “strong”. Stopping my emotions only led my sadness to lead to depression. The depression was causing nightly nightmares, thoughts, and feelings so dark I wanted to run from myself. I felt guilt because I wanted to comfort and help those in the immediate loss, but it was unbelievably challenging loss after loss.

Someone I could confide in recommended perhaps I should see a counselor. Truly the thought of expressing my feelings to an unknown individual was intimidating for multiple reasons. Years ago, I hadn’t had the best experience with therapy. However, I needed to let down judgment that all therapists were like so. I prayed about it, finding a decent Christ-based counselor in my town.

I have been attending lessons for a few weeks. The sessions have been rather validating. I don’t feel “crazy” especially with certain feelings I have been experiencing within. It is one thing hearing it from someone you care about versus an outside source. It truly has helped me understand it’s OK not be OK. It is also definitely OK to cry. I had a wonderful California trip this month with my bestie. The moments to myself, I just cried and cried. Praying, being silent at that moment. Thinking of those hurting; those who have lost; and those that are gone in the physical sense. The importance is sharing what they have blessed me with internally. Life’s sessions run deep with those that have come in and out of your life—the good and bad. Showing your emotions isn’t a weakness. One of the strongest men who ever lived, “Jesus wept.” John 11:45. Shows He knows our pain and suffering with such deep sympathy. Sometimes we may find ourselves face down from being strong too long. There isn’t anything wrong seeking or asking for a hand to get back up, slowly.

If someone reading this is feeling alone in any type of grief, sadness, and/or depression, and perhaps you can’t get back up. Please, seek help, or talk to someone that will just listen. It is important to mesh with someone that will be of comfort, not judging your emotional reactions. You are not alone. There are many dealing with unresolved emotions, losses, and depression that needs attention. You will be loved. You are loved. You are important. Even if I don’t know you, I want joy for you. Take that step to healing.

Moments in the Southwest

Enjoying the Southwest as the summer is coming to an end. The nighttime is already nearing the high 40s, and my tomato plant can’t remain outside much longer. Mr. Tomato Plant has grown to nearly 4ft tall, and has given plenty of sweet tomatoes!

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Delicious rich mud!Never fear! That brown remnant is poo of the Earth, not of a mammal.

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Not Goodbye…

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This was my view on my back home after an intimate day with friends to remember Jamie. The service isn’t something one can put simply into words. I was flooded with deep emotion seeing all of Jamie’s artistic creations, accomplishments, keepsakes, etc. I thought I could keep it in and be strong, but the overflow of emotions hit like a rock. Not necessarily sadness, the depiction of Jamie’s character put together in her memory room was absolutely beautiful. It felt like I could hug her. I wanted to hug her, but there were others to hug, bursting with Jamie’s love. Many lovely people I hadn’t even known, told me how much Jamie talked about “her Monsie”, even in the midst of her last days; she worried about me, my health, and wellbeing without question. What a beautiful soul. How’d I get so blessed to meet such a person? So blessed to know such a wonderful being. Through her passing, I met wonderful people that Jamie and her family have known, and dear friends I hadn’t seen for months, even years. Thank you for your support and laughter. It was a reunion of hope and life. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you a little later, Jamiedove.

My Amazing Jamie

This past month has been extremely hard for me, knowing my best friend, Jamie, would no longer be here. But more so, the unimaginable pain I know she has been enduring without compliant. I have cried for weeks, sometimes unconsciously bawling, bracing myself that she won’t be here anymore.

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 There are thousands of people she has touched, leaving such an unforgettable impression. I will never forget the moment I was introduced to Jamie back in 2009. She was such a welcoming person. She helped me through some very challenging obstacles in my life. Jamie helped me realize the fight I had in me, that I hadn’t been using to advocate for myself. She essentially helped many become self reliant through USeb including myself. She helped me battled head on with Medicaid as she witnessed sepsis nearly take my life.

Monsie, Joy, Jamie

Jamie had the sweetest moves on the dance floor during camp. Jamie made me laugh until tears on our game nights; we “oinked” into our magical pigs during the board game “Pass the Pigs”.  Jamie loved rough off-roading in a Jeep as much as me, and boy, we had fun. She was incredible at making cool techno noises with her mouth. We exchanged our goals and dreams together while painting on beautiful stormy days followed by vibrant rainbows. Jamie was not only incredibly talented with a paintbrush, she had an amazing angelic singing voice, that will remain echoing in my memories. I am unbelievably blessed to have had those moments with her.

Rainbow skies in Utah

I will miss you, Jamie. Thank you for being a sacrificial understanding friend to me. You never hurt me. You were truthful and real. You never made me feel like I owed you anything. You gave your time, love, emotion, and heart without expecting a thing in return. You were sympathetic and empathetic. You felt with your heart not with your head. I wish I could have told you how I appreciated you more often. I wish my life did not have to move me so far away from you during your last days here. I know Jamie would not anyone to be sad, but we will miss her friendship, selfless presence, and beautiful soothing voice.

Summer Planting

Summer is here! Not usually my favorite time of year due to the temperature spike and my skin disfavoring the climate differences, but I am looking forward to summer desert storms.

We purchased a few plants recently. If you have a small apartment/house that needs some life, plants really make a difference for your mood. I enjoy seeing life grow, responding with your care as nature handles the rest. I have been reading up on the care of each plant’s specific needs–I’m hooked. The information has helped me bring life back in a few wilting herbs and aloe plants I picked out. I always gravitate toward anything needing some love!

 

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Mr. Tomato Plant as “he’s” affectionately called, is actually three times the size now. If he continues to grow strong and healthy, I will add updated photos!

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Happy parsley! Grow baby, grow!

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Beautiful Basil is growing so quickly. It was rather unhappy when I first purchased especially after discovering aphids were slowly sucking the nutrients from several leaves. I think the issue is under control, for now, thanks to neem oil. My herbs, aphids… mine!

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My Lunabug is absolutely beaming in the sunshine. I don’t think she misses the snow and ice. ;)

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How can you not love that face?

 

 

Escaped to England and Scotland

We went to Europe! England and Scotland, to be exact. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that we were in Europe 46 days ago (and counting…) From a wee-one, I have wanted to go to Europe and explore endlessly. Several years ago, my best friend’s dream was to go to Scotland. We both wanted to go together, and even planned going together a few years back, but my cancer was being unpredictable, and it was extremely tough for my husband to get off work. My friend went off to Europe, and I had the pleasure to relive her beautiful moments through her wonderful photos. In the recent months, we had been chatting online, as always, and she asked me if we should try to make our dream possible, together. It was a big wishful IF. We figured out everything before jumping the gun… it was possible and true. Not only did I get to experience it with one best friend, but with my other best friend: my husband! If it were not for my friend, this would not be possible. This was an undeserving help to us, really.

I had wished to log each day in my memoirs, but there was so much goodness in two weeks. Honestly, it would probably be pages upon pages of writings of every thought that rushed to mind. Scotland, specifically, is an unforgettable place with unforgettable memories. Departing from London made me a bit sad, but as soon as we entered Scotland via the train…you just knew. How breathtaking each moment became as we made it further into Scotland.  Just standing in secluded beautiful places as you hear the lively nature around you; the misty air with the rich sweet scent of soil—it is a gift. Our tour guide was very informative of the history, it wasn’t one of those tours as they point saying, “This is… and over here is.” No, not only was he extremely thoughtful and kind, he was thorough of Scotland’s history. From the sadness to the pleasant moments that once spread along the lands of Scotland.

I am beyond elated to have made such beautiful memories in my heart and soul, not merely a mental log. Spiritually, I had many quiet moments with God. It seems it has been the quietest my mind has been to really hear His whispers run over me. Being reunited with that still small voice is a beautiful gift He gives us. Life becomes so unbelievably chaotic between fighting feverishly to survive due to health and the government; in addition, we are constantly amongst  technology and its social media shenanigans. You don’t need to go afar to have moments like so. I believe it helped me remember it is vital to take those quiet moments, and to make it a habit.

We miss it, immensely. We shall return…

I will be making a page separately from this blog post with many of my photos under the “Travels” section of my blog. If you are “friended” on my personal Facebook then you have already been bombarded. ; )

 London-April-30-2014-9Lively London, love the pulse of the city.

London-May-1-2014-32We enjoyed the cool damp weather. My skin was incredibly pleased.

Glasgow-May-4-2014-14Beautiful organ in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery located in Glasgow.

Scotland-May-5-2014-3Jet lag was calling my name… enjoyed a lovely latté in Spill the Beans Café in Dunkeld.

Scotland-May-7-2014-4Staircase in the Church of St. Clement on the Isle of Harris. Oh, it’s scarily narrow.

Scotland-May-7-2014-12Wee lamb off to reunite with mother and sibling.

Scotland-May-7-2014-15Seilebost Beaches, Isle of Harris. No words, one can only stare. So many different blues.

Scotland-May-10-2014-4Eilean Donan Castle. I love castles.