Half Marathon #15 – Richmond

The race that I have been training for has come and gone. Shortly after my [redacted] diagnosis and the depression that followed, I thought it would be best to drop down from the marathon to the half marathon. I was under a lot of stress, and the last thing I needed was self-inflicted stress while I dealt with medical issues.

Frankly, it was the best decision I have made recently. I felt a weight lifted off me, and I could start training again and focus on having fun.

Beloved boyfriend and I arrived at Richmond on Friday where we picked up my half marathon packet. When I had signed up for the full marathon, I had paid for them to pay for my bib and shirt to be mailed to my house. As such, I had a Richmond marathon shirt, not a half marathon shirt.

I brought it into the expo, and when I went to get my half marathon shirt, I tried explaining to two volunteers why I was giving back a shirt. “You … can keep the shirt,” the man responded after I explained why I was trying to give it back.

“I can’t wear a shirt of a race I didn’t do,” I said aloud, slowly feeling like a crazy person.

Another volunteer laughed and took the shirt. “I get it,” he promised me. I heard him say to the other guy, “Runners, man.”

On race day, I woke up feeling ready and confident. I began putting on the race outfit I laid out the day before… only to realize I had packed yoga pants, not running tights. What the hell, Huffman! I went through a momentary bout of panic because I hadn’t run in yoga pants since I started a couch to 5k.

I also thought I’d look like a total running hobbyist by running a half marathon in frickin’ yoga pants. Why do I own so many black running tights that I confuse them with my black yoga pants? Also, why don’t I separate yoga and running pants? Argh. Given that I had no other choice, I put my big girl pants on figuratively and put my actual pants on literally. I looked and felt like a jagoff, but I had nothing else to wear.

During the run, y’all, I felt mostly great. The weather was perfect running weather, and the course elevation was tame compared to Pittsburgh. During the 5th mile, I had to stop and adjust my right sock twice because it felt off. (Turns out, I was right because I had a giant blister on my big right toe. Guess I didn’t fix the sock problem.)

Throughout the run, I focused on my breathing, not shrugging my shoulders, and lifting my damn legs. I had to fight the urge to shuffle my feet and shrug my shoulders. I stopped at every water stop and drank water, or I stopped to eat the Gu chews. Hell, I walked a couple of spots just to get my heart rate back down.

The best part of the race had to be downhill finish. I know when I came to the end, I probably had a huge grin on my face. I hyped myself up and said, “Let’s do this, Huffman,” and I went flying down that hill. The first part of my final mile, I had to walk for 30 seconds. That makes that 10:17 mile at the end even more fist bump worthy.

image1image2

I’m happy with my time! I can’t remember the last time I had so many miles in the 10-minute pace. I didn’t have an overall time goal, only just to finish and have fun. Mission freaking accomplished.  I finished, and I’m proud of my time.

I went through a lot to get to this mindset and place. It took me awhile but I have stopped comparing myself now to what I used to be able to do. That never helped me and just made me feel angry at myself.  I’m looking at each training cycle in the present, and keeping the past (especially results before a 5-inch incision in my abdomen) in the past.

For my 15th half marathon, I listened to my coach and checked my pride at the door. I knew what I had been doing was wrong with a capital W, so I listened to the coaching and advice from Coach Dan. I’m glad I did because this is one of the best results I have had in a while.

Looking forward to half marathon #16 – maybe I”ll see the 2:10-19 range again…. that’s the beauty of running. There’s always the next race. [Redacted] will take a lot from me, but it cannot and will not take my running from me. I may have [redacted] but I am a mother-fucking runner.

Advertisements

[Redacted]

Yesterday, I learned the results of my second time around at genetic counseling. The counselor told me that I have what’s called [redacted], and it pretty much explains 90 percent of the medical problems I have had my entire life. Like, pretty much everything. It’s all been [redacted] the entire time. Basically, in the genetic lottery, I lost, and gotta say y’all, I have been reeling.

Am I going to divulge the name? Nope, not at this time. Maybe later when I’ve wrapped my brain around what it all means, and what I have to do.  Right now, I feel pretty fucking angry. This [redacted] is something my mother passed down to me, and it’s something she never knew she had.

This [redacted] is why my mom got sick at the age she did and why she died. It’s why I got breast cancer and thyroid cancer.  Everything that has been absolute shit in my life (medically speaking), it’s been this.  This anger is boiling in me, and if it doesn’t come out, I’m going to erupt. I can feel it vibrating out of my fingers and it’s escaping through rage with a layer of panic and anxiety.

I have a lot of fuck yous that I need to get out of me. I want to release these fuck yous into the universe, which has given me a great fuck you. Hey, this blog is “get up swinging.” Maybe I need to take some swings.

I want to say fuuuuuuuuuuuck you to this [redacted] for being the source of all my mother’s problems, and being the reason I grew up without my mother. I know metastatic breast cancer killed her, but [redacted] lit the fucking match.

I want to say fuck you to anyone who wants me to see the positive in what’s a very much negative situation. There’s no putting lipstick on this pig. Let me say this very clearly – I’m allowed to feel angry and sad. If my anger and dark mood makes you feel uncomfortable and icky on the inside, those are your feelings to manage. Not mine. I don’t have to put a fake smile on my face to make anyone feel comfortable.

I looked into a crystal ball, y’all, and all I saw were a never-ending parade of doctors visits, MRIs, surgeries, and whatever medical procedure is necessary to keep me upright. Why can’t we let sucky things just suck? It’s okay. I’d be a robot if I could be given this diagnosis, put a smile on my face, and go, “It’s okay, but things happen for a reason?”

I have no desire to be anyone’s inspiration porn, and my anger isn’t an invitation for any pity, as well. I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I am acknowledging my feelings, and right now, those feeling are pretty much anger and despair.

I want to say fuckkkkkkk you to insurance companies and doctors offices who make dealing with illness and issues a full time job. I spent 40 minutes today just to get an appointment for my first doctors appointment since this diagnosis. I need a [redacted] as soon as possible. In fact, I probably should have one 3 years ago.

This medical practice told me twice that they didn’t have an opening for a month. I escalated matters, and probably not in a nice way. I do not give a shit. I need this test done, or maybe this doctor’s office might want to hear my anxiety and worries every day over the phone until they can see me.

Yeah, I have an appointment on Monday. Funny how that works.

I’ve already had cancer twice, and this diagnosis means [redacted] in my future. I’m going to be an advocate for me because nobody else is going to take up that role for me. Not a single person. This is on me, and it’s my life. If you can’t help me, I will find someone else who can. Just get out of my way.

Just before we wrap things up, folks, I have a couple more special fuck yous.

A big fuck you to the politicians out there who think people like me don’t deserve to have access and keep access to quality healthcare. They think it’s for the worthy or those who have money, and at the same time, these politicians don’t give any shits at all about rising medical costs and drug prices. Nah, let’s keep pricing the sickies out and let them die out, amirite or amirite?

It hasn’t been cheap keeping me alive, and that doesn’t look to be changing… ever. I have something I have literally no control over, and any day, the rug can be pulled from me. There’s nothing I can do about it… but hey, if I become too sick to work, I’m just probably a lazy, good-for-nothing expecting sumthin’ for free, huh?

Fuck. You. Especially. To. Paul. Ryan.

This is a “Fuck you, Paul Ryan” household, always.

An enthusiastic fuck you to anyone who would dare tell me I could take some essential oil or ingest CBD oil 24-7, and that will cure all my problems. You come at me with any of that bullshit, I hope you run faster than me, but guess what? My time is improving. Unless I’m in your office and you’re reading my medical chart, I do not give a shit about your opinion or your so-called research. Oh, why didn’t you tell me that you did some google searches and watched something on Netflix, that’s all I needed to hear. Please tell me how I can “beat” [Redacted].

GTFO with your wellness, woo peddling selves. You don’t know anything about [redacted]. Anyone who comes at me with that is going to get a lecture from me about abelism, and how just the fact that you’re healthy, doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to cure all that ails others. I won’t tolerate it… ever. Consider this my one and only warning. If I want your opinion about anything related to my health, I will ask.

Finally, a very special FUCK YOU to [redacted]. You have been the cause of all my major medical problems and I guess will be the source of most of my future ones. FUCK YOU for ramping up my anxiety back to unheard of levels. Personally, I have missed panicking and crying at work. Wait, no I haven’t.

FUCK YOU [redacted] for affirming my decision to never have kids. You know what, in an alternate universe where I haven’t had all these medical issues, I think I would have been a kick ass mom. I know I would have, but I have always known that given all my problems and the fact that my mom had them too, I never wanted to pass this unknown issue to a kid. Well, now I know the name. When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to have a single fucking regret that I didn’t have any children.

I’m going to be grateful.

How messed up is that? I’m going to be grateful that there isn’t a child out there with 50 percent of my DNA because I wouldn’t a child to go through what I have. I guess that proves my point that I know I would have been a great mother because that’s a pretty motherly thing to think, huh? I don’t want a child to ever have to suffer.

FUCK YOU [redacted]. I never wanted to be defined by cancer. Joke’s on me. Now I’m defined by [redacted].

Running

I signed up for my third marathon, which is going to take place in November. After Indianapolis, I had made a proclamation that I was going to stay away from marathons. I felt burnt out, and beyond discouraged. I added on 30 minutes to my first marathon time. Granted, I was coming back from a pretty extensive surgery, so I’m sure that played a big part.

This year feels different. I feel different. It’s like something finally clicked in my brain that if I want to yield different results (i.e., run faster and not be so burnt out), then I need to be different. For the past month or so, I have been doing track workouts on a regular basis.

Before this, I hadn’t done a track workout on a regular basis in years. When I ran with Fleet Feet, I would drive all the way from the North Hills to the South Hills to make the track workout. Given that I have turned into quite the pseudo-yinzer, I don’t like to go through a tunnel.  I got out of the habit of going to track workouts, and it takes me forever to get back into one.

I am so thankful for my current job, and the fact that it allows me to attend these toolbox runs. I can definitely I’m making progress because my pace is getting faster in certain stretches of my long runs. Yesterday, there was a half mile where I was flying! I looked at my watch and saw my pace was 9:30. Granted, I was going down hill but I was still flying.

Last week, I signed up for a gym membership because I’m determined to get stronger in areas where I am anything but. I love, love, love the feeling of my legs getting stronger, like tree trunks. I want to improve my time, of course, but most importantly, I just want to get stronger.

Stay tuned. Watch these progress reports actually… progress.

So I did a thing

Pretty much anybody who knows me knows I do not like the spotlight, nor is it something I ever seek out.  The very idea of it makes me ridiculously uncomfortable, like a thousand bugs crawling on me. I don’t like being in photographs, and I cringe when I see myself on video.

I know I have pontificated on the importance of parents being in the photographs with their kids based on the fact my mom hated being in the photos. I will cop to being a hypocrite when it comes to being in the pictures and videos.  Lara Huffman, hypocritical photographer. #thatsme

So, when I saw a post on Facebook, announcing that UPMC Health Plan was looking for volunteers for their “This is what a Runner Looks Like” campaign, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I can talk about Metavivor?”

I knew I could get UPMC’s attention by just saying a little about myself. Breast cancer + young age = catnip for social media teams. People love the breast cancer SURVIVOR narrative, so I used it to my advantage. Surprise surprise (or not), they called me up and said they wanted to share my story.

I told the very nice woman up front that I didn’t want to do it if I couldn’t talk about Metavivor somehow and mention their name.  She tried to get me to agree to do the series, even if I couldn’t talk about Metavivor, insisting that others will find my story inspirational. I told her that yes, I am sure, and I don’t want to put myself out there like that on behalf of UPMC if I couldn’t talk about the organization I wanted to broadcast.

I will only publicity whore myself out for charity, thank you very much.

tumblr_inline_oqnrulhxYh1uafikp_500.gif

When I didn’t hear from her for a handful of days, I thought, “Welp, big hospital conglomerate decided they didn’t like my provision. OH WELL.” Then they surprised me, and got the approval.

Boy, the day of the taping, I felt so awkward and wanted to hide. I kept telling myself, “It’s for Metavivor, it’s for Metavivor.” I also thought if I could put it out in the universe that not everybody becomes some zen Cancer on the Buddha top after going through cancer treatment. That’s not me. I don’t have any answers, or pretend that I even do. Cancer didn’t make me a better person or some changed, wide-eyed person who takes life by the horns.

Cancer did give me something I didn’t have quite as much before: impatience with people who don’t deserve my patience. I don’t have the time for friendships that caused me more grief than joy. If you are not in my life, then it’s for a very deliberate reason, which I am under no obligation to explain myself. I definitely cut people out of my life who needed hand holding constantly, but if you have a problem, then they have to one-up you. I cannot stand those people, and they make me see red. I definitely do not have patience for anyone who wants to mistreat me or my loved ones.

 

So I never want to be put on a pedestal, because I’m going to jump off it. I am not some damn hero for not dying from breast cancer. (The real hero in that is science!) I also don’t want anyone to put me on a pedestal for talking about metastatic breast cancer. Shit like that is a distraction. Talk about metastatic breast cancer, and the need for research and real change in the breast cancer narrative.

The downside of making regular folks out to be heroes is that eventually the magic evaporates and what’s standing there is a regular person with regular flaws.

So, luckily, UPMC Health Plan edited me in a way that’s true to me, AND I got to mention METAvivor.

This is What a Runner Looks Like: Lara H.

It’s surreal to think almost 15,000 people watched this almost 2-minute clip of me TALKING. When the video first posted, I felt so uncomfortable and batted off any praise like a fly buzzing by me. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. Stop talking about me and go visit METAvivor. 

giphy (2)

I am not looking to be anyone’s inspiration, I’m really not. That puts a lot of pressure on me to keep deliverin’ the goods, and I don’t have the patience to feel weighed down by unrealistic expectations. This also isn’t me fishing for compliments. But you are! I relish that my friends admire me, and I don’t take that lightly. I wouldn’t be friends with them if I didn’t admire them either.

I know I signed up to do this, and I exposed the name METAvivor to almost 15,000 people. That’s all I wanted to do, and I can tell that the buzz around my video is already quieting down on social media (thank GOD). I just want the conversation be about metastatic breast cancer and the 114 that die in the U.S. every day from the disease. Instead of being wowed by the messenger, focus on the message. 🙂

I’m sorry for feeling uncomfortable about the exposure and not knowing how to react to people telling me they cried.

tenor

Would I do something like this again? Uh, probably not, unless they let me link to METAvivor or talk more about metastatic breast cancer. But do something like this just to talk about myself?

tumblr_ly32zxDUSr1qbg2u0o2_250

Gray Hair… I Kinda Care

So once again, I have made the decision to stop dying my hair, even though my vanity is begging me to reconsider. I have several reasons why I decided to stop. First one being, my scalp stopped tolerating the dye. After each dye job, my scalp would feel itchy for days. My hair would also feel greasy.  I would just feel uncomfortable for days, weeks, like my scalp was being taken over by vindictive, invisible bugs.

Until I recently reconnected with favorite hair dresser in the world, I was going to a salon in the mall every 6 or 7 weeks and paying $120 for a cut and color. For a brief time after I reconnected with my hair dresser, I was paying half of that every 6 or 7 weeks. The cost added up, but before the bad side effects happened, the cost used to be worth it to me.

Now, it’s not worth it. Nothing is worth me itching my scalp and feeling physically uncomfortable for large stretches of time. If I could, I would still dye my hair for another solid 10 or so years. It breaks my heart (okay, pride) because I love how I look with dark hair, and felt super cute and confident.

Seeing these white/grey hairs slowly take over my scalp has been a mind fuck, and making me feel strangely emotional. On one hand, I understand that being able to grow old is not a luxury afforded to all. I have known so many amazing young women who have died from metastatic breast cancer in the previous year. They would have given anything to be able to grow older.

But I’m not working with this abundance of self esteem to be barreling toward 40 (a little over 2 years from now, ahhh) and seeing an “old” lady looking back at me in the mirror. I see my hair and I feel old, defeated. I don’t know how to reconcile with what’s going on the top of my head with how I really feel.

Why is getting older so hard to accept? I used to think I was going to be dead by the time I was 40, just like my mother. I was certain that breast cancer was going to kill me, too. Now, I’m only a couple of years away from the my mother was when she died, and frankly, y’all, I’m starting to look more like her. In my mind, I’m lookin’ like a woman who’s been dead for 30 years.

Also, why is it so hard for me to accept the fact that people are going to stop thinking I’m not in my 20s or heck, even in my early 30s? I simultaneously don’t believe people when they say I look 10 years younger than my actual age, but  I love it. Not going to lie. I know that’s going to stop when more of my white hair comes in.

I know it’s okay to accept that my pride and vanity are taking a beating. I’m not a bad person for seeing my white hair coming in and wish that this wasn’t happening for another 10 or 20 years. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good and taking pride in my appearance.

I think this will take time to accept, and I will just adapt with however this turns out. I know what I look like with red hair, blonde hair, black hair, and dark brown hair. Now, I am just going to find out what I look like with a combination of white hair and dishwater blonde hair.

Well, at least my glasses and wardrobe is going to be fly AF.

Hey strangers!

It’s been awhile since I have updated anything on this blog, and I blame the new job. I’ve been there for eight months now, and I’m just now feeling a little more sure-footed at the same company. I definitely did not realize how hard and difficult it would be to switch careers at my age, but I am glad I did, despite missing investigating now and then.

Sometimes, it completely blows my mind to think about where I was three years ago and where I am today. Three years isn’t that long of a time period, but it feels like five or six lifetimes ago. I was at a job I grew to hate for a manager and supervisor who had me convinced how bad I suck at the job and life.

During my time at that job, I tried to move up or move to another department. Several times, instead of just promoting who they thought was best, the company held “try outs.” If I recall correctly, I tried two out of three times they held these tryouts while I was there. I even “tried out” to move to a preliminary researcher position, and once again, told I wasn’t good enough.

While I understand that I wouldn’t have gotten my last job (which resulted me in getting my current job) if it hadn’t been for the first one, I still think back to that time of my life and feel wonder. I resigned so easily to a position of mediocrity and allowed myself to believe that I couldn’t achieve more. It might take several more years for me to forgive myself for that.

I have had the absolute privilege working for companies who believe and encourage career development. They send their employees to trainings, so that these individuals can improve in their skills and abilities. I have worked with mentors at my last job. I have learned so much in these last three years, and confidence in your abilities radiates in the work that you produce.

A January 2013 Forbes article entitled “Why Employee Development Is Important, Neglected And Can Cost You Talent” stated:

Good talented people naturally want to advance, and appreciate meaningful support in the process. As the HBR study showed, capable ambitious young employees want training, mentoring and coaching. They want to gain skills. They want to become more versatile and valuable to an organization.

This could not be more spot on. Sure, not every employee wants to be an asset to a team and wants to collect a paycheck. I’m talking about those who want to gain skills and become a valuable asset to a company. Right now, I am studying to become a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist. After this, I want to become a Certified Fraud Examiner, and after that, it’s time to rule the world.

I wish it didn’t take me until recently to learn not to accept that I am how others perceive me. I did extremely well at my previous researcher job, even though my previous company had said I lacked the skills to do basic research. They weren’t right about me, and the only person who was hurt by all of this was me.

I didn’t believe in myself and my abilities, and it cost me greatly. The only thing I can keep doing is to move on, and never make that mistake again. If I don’t believe in myself, then who will?

download

RIP Maggie

You know, it’s hard to believe but at one point in my life, I used to be afraid of dogs. Yeah, me. Afraid of dogs. I had a couple of bad experiences with dogs as a kid, and as a result, I became an adult who was afraid of dogs.

In walked a beagle named Maggie.

230906_6173167194_1282_n

Oh how quickly I became a dog convert after my parents brought home Maggie the beagle.  I lived at home for the first year of that beagle’s life. I couldn’t find a job after college graduation, so I lived at home. During the day, I’d watch Maggie and when my stepmom came home, I’d take her car and go to my job at Blockbuster.

I can’t believe I was only 23 years old when she graced all of our lives with her presence. After 14.5 years on this planet and as a member of my family, Maggie has crossed the rainbow bridge.

Maggie was a very good girl.  She was full of sass and attitude, and I loved her very much.  When she was a wee pupper, she liked to bite the crap out of the cuffs of my jeans. It didn’t help that I didn’t realize in my early 20s that I needed to buy petite length, so she had a lot of jeans to sink her teeth in.

When she was still a puppy, but I thought she was big enough to be in the backyard unattended and off leash, she proved me wrong. She slipped through the deck posts and went running!  I had to jump over the deck and RUN after her. I mean, I ran like freaking Flo-Jo. I caught her and I remember my parents standing at the front steps, laughing their butts off and clapping at my efforts.

That wasn’t the first and last time I had to chase her. I might be a long distance runner now  but I have never been (and certainly was not then) a sprinter, so short-distance running hurt.

After I left her for the first time for a long period of time, my parents picked me up from the airport. I followed them in from the garage up the stairs to the kitchen. I remember Maggie greeting my stepmom and then my dad. When I came in, SHE ACTED LIKE SHE DIDN’T EVEN SEE ME. I was shunned! The next day, that dog peed in the house three times, despite not having had an accident in the house for several months.

One day visiting my dad, I was heading toward my car when I heard my dad screaming from the backyard, “LARA, COME HERE. I NEED HELP.” First, I thought my dad was having some sort of a heart attack, so I went running to the backyard. Here in turns out, Maggie had found a body part of a rabbit she killed the night before. She was running around with it in her mouth, growling at my dad who was trying to yank it from her mouth.

I took her for a walk once and a rabbit scurried past our path. Maggie reacted so quickly to chase after the rabbit that I was scared my arm was going to pop out of place. She whipped me across the street like a rag doll.

When I got my own dog, Boomer, I brought her to meet her “aunt” Maggie.  There’s a seven year age difference between Boomer and Maggie, and old dogs typically don’t care for the young pups.

Maggie tolerated the young, bigger dog. Boomer really tired the old girl out, but as you can see, Maggie seemed to have a good time.

249919_10150265234047195_58345_n

One time, I came up to my parents house and didn’t bring Boomer. When Maggie saw that I wasn’t with the overgrown puppy, her demeanor completely changed. She was overjoyed and exuding happiness that it was just me. If she could have done a jig, that beagle would have done it.

When my parents retired to Tampa, I was very sad to see the ole girl go. I am glad I got to see her in 2014 when I went down for Thanksgiving. I recently got to see her Christmas of 2016. I made sure to hug her lots and tell her what a good girl she is.

While Boomer is MY first dog, Maggie holds a special place in my heart as the dog who turned me into the crazy dog lady I am. She had loads of personality, and she made friends wherever she went. My parents spoiled her more than I probably spoil my own dogs. She had a good life.

I think the worst thing about dogs is that they don’t live nearly long enough. I will know this all too well when my own doggos cross the rainbow bridge and meet up with their “aunt.” Somewhere, where all the good dogs go, Maggie is chasing rabbits, tracking voles and getting into as much mischief as her heart desires.

Rest easy, Mags. You were a very good dog indeed.

Resolutions

Since the beginning of the new year, I’ve started keeping an excel spreadsheet tracking my expenses. Nine days into the new year, this simple act is completely changing how I am view money and my relationship with money. I am well past the age I should be and not have a great handle on money.

I never ever ever ever want to find myself in a position like I did with the Ex where I become financially dependent on someone. He and I should have ended things several years before it did, and I was hesitant to pull the trigger because I’d have been financially wrecked without him.  In fact, I even told him this on several occasions.

The Ex rarely complained about getting me anything I wanted, and he was generous with his money during our relationship. Hell, he has been generous even afterwards. I am simultaneously grateful for his generosity but mad at myself for letting myself get comfortable and complacent. Maybe, if I had been more diligent about finances and making wise decisions, maybe I wouldn’t have spent those last years in a relationship with someone who had no desire to be with me.

I know when you live with someone, you are supposed to share bills and responsibilities. In the six years we lived together, we didn’t approach household finances as a team, and always as two people who happen to share a house. Yeah… that should have been a sign. It’s certainly something I never want to repeat ever again.

My relationship with him ended a year and a half ago, and I’m still in the process of learning how to fully get my shit together. I slip up a lot, and I fall into bad financial habits (Starbucks, I missssss you).

Things are going great with my Amor, but I never want to feel financially dependent on him or make him feel like he has to take care of me. (Granted, if I get sick again, then that is different, but the focus here is on healthy, able-bodied Lara.) If/when he and I combine our lives together, I want to have my shit together and be my absolute best. I want to get back to the Lara in her mid and late 20s who was making piddly squat, but saved like a champion.

This excel spreadsheet is a great start, and I definitely have additional steps I need to take to walk confidently into middle age with my head held high and my stress level not at a “Call my therapist” level.  Now and then, I want to check in here for accountability and to ensure I’m living solely within my means.

Year in Review

I know it’s probably odd  to do a year in review post when I haven’t done much blogging in the first place. I guess that will mean I have a lot to share here… maybe?

This year started off with a major surgery, which definitely set the tone and pace for the first part of the year. I knew the recovery would be difficult, but holy heck, it took me longer to bounce back than I thought it would. When I was cleared to start running again, it felt like I was starting over at zero. In all actuality, I probably was starting over at zero after five inches of my abdomen was opened and closed recently. Right now, the five-inch scar doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did at the beginning of the year. I rarely even notice it’s there anymore.

My running this year could be accurately described in one word: slow. I signed up for my second marathon, which I completed in early November. Between my work schedule and the weather, my heart wasn’t really engaged in training for this marathon compared to the previous year when I ran Columbus. My second marathon saw me adding 30 minutes to my previous marathon. While I am proud of the fact that I finished in Indianapolis, I know I could have done much better if my heart had been in it. I’m not going to make any excuses. If I wanted to, then I would have found a way.

This year I learned that I have to fall back in love with running before I attempt to do another marathon. For a brief period of time, I thought I was going to sign up for Pittsburgh Marathon 2018. When Best Boyfriend Ever reminded me that work was going to take up most of my time for the first three months of 2018 (something I had told him several times but yet, I needed him to remind me), I made the correct decision to sign up for only the half.

Time to get back to the basics and focus on getting stronger. When strength comes, speed will happen.

The biggest change this year had to do with my job. A recruiter had reached out to me via LinkedIn about an opportunity with PNC, and I jumped so hard at the opportunity I might have given myself whiplash.  I really and truly loved the work I was doing at my previous job, and I could have honestly kept doing that until the cows came home. I loved being an investigator.

What I couldn’t deal with and the number one reason why I left: the hours. Granted, several of my co-workers definitely billed more hours than I probably did, and they are still there.  All that mattered at that job was meeting deadlines, which meant kissing some nights and weekends good-bye. I didn’t want to do that and felt myself burned out more times than I could count.

I’m not opposed to ever working nights and weekends. I know I  am going to have to do that for the first three months of 2018. I will do whatever I have to do to make sure the job gets done. However, unlike at my last job, I know the crazy busy schedule will end and things will calm down for a good period.  I just couldn’t tolerate it being crazy busy every day, every week, every month with no end in sight.

I take pride in my work and skill set. I love figuring things out and coming up with great finds. I always want to do the best I can. But I need my nights and weekends to recharge, relax and get myself ready to tackle the new work week with a fresh set of eyes.  Opportunities to do that at my last job were few and far between.

While I am disappointed that my last job didn’t work out given how much I loved being an investigator,  I don’t regret my decision to leave whatsoever. I would make the same decision over and over again. I am now working at a great company and opportunities here are endless. The most amazing thing is that I am learning a completely new skill set, and I am feeling challenged every day.

Next year, my primary focus will be learning and becoming the absolute best I can be at being an internal auditor. I already know my lunch times will consist of studying for the CAMS and spending some free time taking extra courses in BSA/AML. I cannot wait to deep dive into this world, like I am almost giddy. I never could afford to go back to school to get a master’s degree, so in a way, I am getting the additional education I always wanted.

This year also saw the final nails put in the coffin that was my relationship with the Ex (yeah, that was a weird sentence).  For awhile, the Ex was my free dogsitter when I went out of town, but that’s now over with. I know he loves Boomer and Mal, and he even paid for their vet plans this year, but that’s come to an end. He has his own family now, and he’s probably married as I type this. He was a much better Ex than he was a boyfriend for the last 3 or 4 years of our relationship.

It was one thing when he was single or just dating, but he has a family now. While I would have no intentions or desires to meddle in his personal life or get him back (hahahahahaha omg hahahahaha), I don’t want to have any involvement with married exes. That way leads to drama, and I want no part. I will let him know if something happens to Mal or Boomer in the next year or so, but from now on, the Ex is staying in the past along with all the other relationship ghosts rattling in my closet. I wish none of them ill will (well, maybe the stalker), but that doesn’t mean they need to occupy any part of my life now.

I don’t like making New Year’s Resolutions, so I just make the same one every year: read more books. I actually read more books this year than I have in years! I think that goes to show how uncluttered and relaxing this year has been for me.

My focus for 2018 will be to be the best I can be at my job, advocate even more for metastatic breast cancer, get back to the running basics and remember why I loved running in the first place, and spend as much time with the best boyfriend ever. He makes me happy, and if I make him just a fraction of how incredibly happy he has made me, then 2018 is looking to be a good one for the two of us.

If anyone read this entire book I just wrote, congrats. I’m impressed.

 

The Good in People

Two days ago, I was walking with a manager from one building to another for a 12:30 meeting. We were only a block or so away from Firstside, and well, I tripped over a crappy piece of sidewalk and face planted. I was carrying my laptop bag and purse, and just tripped and my face met the sidewalk.

It was surreal. I started gushing blood from my face immediately, and I am pretty sure I went into shock. I mean, that’s what happens when you bloody your face, right? I just lied there for a second, marveling at the blood coming out of my face.  I was trying to keep the blood from spilling onto my pants and feet, but came up unsuccessful. (RIP navy blue dress pants.)

My manager came to my aid and you know who else did? A bunch of complete strangers also came to my assistance as I laid bleeding on the Boulevard of the Allies.  Someone handed me a couple of napkins, which did absolutely nothing but I appreciated the sentiment.

A man and a woman came up to my manager and me and told me to hold my nose together in an effort to stop the bleeding. Another woman, a middle aged woman, actually went running to a firehouse a couple of blocks away to get help for me. A complete stranger ran to get help for me, and she came back minutes later with towels.

These strangers stayed with me and my manager as my mouth kept bleeding. They kept me absolutely calm (or maybe, that was the shock). Honest to dog, it warmed my icy cold heart that these strangers stopped to help a thirty-something woman who face-planted onto a sidewalk.

Pittsburgh is definitely a small big city, and the day of my accident showed me just how much.  I am forever grateful to these strangers for helping me, and for my coworkers keeping calm as my upper lip would not stop bleeding.

Also, for the record, I wanted to share that I DID NOT CRY. Once. Not after I fell or when the adrenaline wore off.  I ended up with a broken nose and busted chin and lip. I’m bruised and cut up on my right knee and elbow. The bright side – my glasses didn’t shatter (although one lens got scratched up) , and I still have all of my teeth. I’m pretty sure my guardian angel (what up mom) did her job on Thursday.

Now I know what it feels like to be beat up, and frankly, not a fan. I hope I never have to experience that again. Fingers crossed!