Love and marriage…go together like a horse and carriage.

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I can’t say the words “love and marriage” without thinking of the Bundys. 

This isn’t a post about my marriage. God no. I wouldn’t be silly enough to dive deep into my own marriage. No, this is just a post on marriage, in general.

Why? Well – a little background

Okay, it’s a long background…I don’t do short stories. 

Last year, my brother got engaged. His fiance is great, and she’s become such a loved member of our family and I couldn’t be happier for them. Soon after they got engaged, they came to ask each of us sisters (three of us) to each have our families partake in the wedding in some special way. One of my sisters was asked if her son would be the ring bearer. My other sister was asked if her daughter would be the flower girl. So what was left for the LeRoy clan? A very interesting proposition – that I would be the officiant of the wedding.

I’m not going to lie. I flat out laughed in their face at the idea…I seriously thought they were joking. Who would want ME…the worst public speaker EVER to officiate a wedding? I’m so awkward in person! My sister echoed my thoughts, “You seriously want JAMIE to officiate your wedding?” And I wasn’t even insulted because I felt the same way! They nodded their heads. After I finally got over the moment, I accepted the role and made sure they were setting their expectations appropriately.

“You know I’m going to be terrible at this, right? I write…but I’m not a speaker.”

“You’ll do great! We know you can do this!” they said.

…That was just over a year ago that I’d accepted the role as officiant.

A couple months later I got ordained through “The Ministry of Life.” For $35 I would be able to legally perform weddings in California or any other state that allowed me to do so without having any prior knowledge.

Then in February, I started to really think about my sermon. I mean, there was definitely pressure to make this good, and I would need as much time as possible to get it right so I started doing my research months ahead of the wedding that was set for mid September.

Then, as all of you know (or most of you know), things in my life took a turn for the worst and over the next couple months all thoughts of the wedding got put on hold so that I could deal with my own health issues.

Finally, once I got my diagnosis, got my treatment plan (chemotherapy every two weeks), and found out that I would be neutropenic for the next six months (very susceptible to infections), I made the call to my brother to let him know that we would not be able to attend his wedding and that, obviously, this meant they would need to find another officiant for the wedding. He had hoped for the best – that I would still be able to make it, but completely understood given the situation I was in. He knew some friends who had officiated other weddings so it wasn’t like I was throwing the whole wedding out of whack, but of course it would have been nice to have done this for my brother. And obviously nice to even attend the wedding.

So that’s kind of where this story ends. Sort of. About a week ago, I got a note from my brother’s friend who is now going to officiate the wedding. I won’t share any details from that exchange because I don’t know what he’s planning for the sermon, and the wedding hasn’t happened yet so I don’t want to spoil anything, but it did get me thinking about some of the things I had researched and jotted down when I was still thinking I would be the officiant. So the below is basically that. Some thoughts on love and marriage and kind of where my head was at when I was thinking of my brother and his fiance…but also a little bit about how I’ve experienced love and marriage to date.

From the notes section of my phone.

So these are some of the things I jotted down when the moment struck me and I’d think “That’s it! That’s something I want to say!” And instead of editing them for you and making them perfect, I thought I’d just leave them in their raw form because some of it is pretty bad and makes me chuckle.

So the bold italics is what I originally wrote. The brackets are my thoughts on what I wrote…all these months later. Enjoy!

We’ve all been to weddings. And at each wedding we look for that splash of something we know about the couple, and whether or not we’ll laugh or cry or be bored to tears…just waiting to get over to the bar.

[Hey that’s not…that terrible. Kind of cements the audience as to where they are…makes it more “real” for them, ya know? Could use some softening, though.]

But I’m here to tell you that this isn’t that kind of a wedding ceremony. I don’t see my job as providing material for you to react to. My job is to connect these to the life they’re about to join together forever. So I apologize in advance if you don’t get a joke or something doesn’t make sense…but to be honest…it’s because I don’t care what you think. I care what they think. And if this is going to be one of the most memorable days of their lives, it should, quite honestly, only be about them.

[Oh holy hell. I wrote that, didn’t I? Just need to go and piss off everyone at the wedding in one tidy paragraph. I mean, there will be mothers and grandmothers listening to this, Jamie. You couldn’t just not write this? Ugh. I remember describing this to Jake and saying, “Well I wouldn’t ACTUALLY say that…but like…something like that…ya know?” And he nodded like, “Yeah, okay, psycho.”]

So let’s get started.

First, a quote about love. A wise fictional boxer once said…

“I got gaps. You got gaps; we fill each other’s gaps.” 

[First off – is it clear that I’m talking about Rocky? Second off – is that a super hickish, midwestern way to start a wedding? With a quote from Rocky Balboa? Ugh. At first I thought it was awesome because my brother loves that movie! But seriously, maybe that line should be scrapped.]

The reason I love this is because one’s definition of love changes many times throughout a relationship, and throughout a lifetime of constant changes.

[Ummm. What? That’s not what that means at all. Where did this come from? I think I was trying to bridge the quote with where I’m going next. It’s awful. This is so awful. Sorry guys!]

In the beginning you experience “gushy love.” The kind that creates butterflies in your stomach. The kind that makes you watch the clock at the end of the day in anticipation of seeing your love’s smiling face. The kind that makes your heart swoon and ache when you have to be apart for too long. It’s a thrilling kind of love.

[Good. GOOD. Build on this.]

But then you experience a comfortable kind of love. The kind where you’re comfortable in the knowledge of your love for each other. The kind that knows it doesn’t have to be thrills and adventures, that it can be more demure. It can be drinks on the patio and telling each other about your favorite childhood cartoons. Or it can be taking pictures of French Bulldogs you see on the street because you know it will make her happy.

[Not terrible, at least. Also, FACTOID ALERT. I created that last snippet for the fiance. RELEVANT!]

But then, one day out of the blue, you’ll experience love in the face of tragedy. You get side swiped by something awful that happens to you or someone you love. Or it could be that one of you is forever changed by something and you think to yourself, “is this the “for worse” part?” And you’ll wonder how you’ll fair. In those moments, you will find a deeper love you never knew existed. You’ll find someone that can love you in the face of adversity, with all your pox and boils and scars. Someone that can see through all of that and love you even more than before.

[Yes, hindsight is 20/20. This is a bit heavy handed given my current situation. Maybe don’t make them think about cancer on their wedding day? But also, I love that line about pox and boils and scars. Still not appropriate…but when do you get to talk about pox and boils and scars all that often?]

And then eventually, you’ll have rediscovered love. The kind that makes you forget petty fights. The kind that makes you remember how you’ve always been stronger together than you ever were apart. The kind that makes you deeply appreciate the life you’ve built with this person whose ridges fit yours perfectly like two puzzle pieces. Or two power arms conquering the trampoline dodgeball as if you were operating with one symbiotic brain.

[Where am I going with this? Oh that’s right, I’m taking my own experiences and trying to push them onto others. Because of course. But maybe not? I think others experience this. Also, the last bit is CLEARLY their experiences. But maybe too specific? Obviously too technical. Who uses the word “symbiotic brain” in a sermon? Needs work.]

And you’ll just keep opening more doors and keep experiencing love in a new and deeper way. You’ll have gaps. He’ll have gaps. But together, you won’t see the gaps. All you’ll see reflected back are smooth edges.

[God DAMN that’s good. Okay maybe not that good. But at least I was going somewhere with that line. It’s maybe just out of order…or something. Still needs work. That “He’ll have gaps/she’ll have gaps” makes it weird because it’s more of an either/or situation…but I had to choose one. But I like that smooth edges line. If Jake and I ever renew our vows I might steal that back.]

And that’s it. That’s all I had. It’s not ALL of the research I did. But it’s the parts that I started to draft. Some of the research I can’t share because it may end up still getting used by the other officiant. But there’s still a bit more.

Quotes about love and marriage.

This is just the icing on the cake. I scanned through hundreds of quotes on love and marriage and for me, these were the ones that stuck. These were the ones that were inspiring and relevant and like something I could build off of. So I thought I’d share them here.

  • A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers (Robert Quillan)
  • The best time to love with your whole heart is always now, in this moment, because no breath beyond the current is promised. (Fawn Weaver)
  • People stay married because they want to, not because the doors are locked. (Paul Newman)
  • The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest. (Unknown)
  • You don’t marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as a result of being married to you. (Richard Needham)
  • If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you. (Winnie the Pooh)
  • Marriage is getting to have a sleepover with your best friend every night of the week. (Christie Cook)
  • Marriage provides the solace of worked-on friendship and the joy of being known profoundly. (Imogene stubbs)
  • The greatest favour we can do our children is to give visible example of love and esteem to our spouse. As they grow up, they may then look forward to maturity so they too can find such love.” (Eucharista Ward)
  • I got gaps; you got gaps; we fill each other’s gaps. (Rocky Balboa – Rocky)
  • Happily married people know that keeping score is what unhappily married people do. (Alisa Bowman)

A good ending.

I’m gonna end this post here…thinking good thoughts about love and marriage and thinking about the homework I still have yet to do for the officiant (I’ll say no more!). But if you ever need an officiant…in like six months to a year…you know where to look.

Fitbit used for other purposes

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No, that’s not me. But it’s how I’d like to use my Fitbit someday. And maybe how I’d like to look someday.😉

 

If you’re like most people who get a Fitbit or some other form of tracking your activity, steps, etc. than you use it to motivate yourself to hit that 10,000 steps goal (that’s what we’re all striving for, right?) or to use other tools to increase your activity levels (or log food).

That’s what I’d also like to do, someday. But my goals aren’t really the same. I can count on one had the number of times I’ve hit 10k steps over the past four months. So I don’t use it for that.

No. Since Mother’s day (when I got it as a kick butt present), I’ve used it to monitor my energy use when I’m in the fat burning zone or above, or to see where my resting heart beat falls each day.

Why measure these two? Because I received this gift when I was just out of one hospital and still very sick and I was curious as to the stats I was seeing so far. My activity levels were low at this point, but my heart rate was steadily higher than normal, as was how much energy I burned each day. So I started monitoring those two throughout my period of sickness and I found it fascinating how it even dramatically changed when I started receiving chemo and those symptoms started to dissipate.

So here are the two charts.

To see the full picture, you’ll have to click on each image to zoom in, properly, but I’ll give some context here. 

Energy burned over the last four months

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In May, I was in the “fat burning zone” for an average of 6-10 hours, despite the fact that I’d been sitting on the couch or moving less than normal since I was working from home even when I wasn’t in the hospital. And I wasn’t walking or running outside at all.

In June, some days I was up to 18 hours a day in the “fat burning zone”…again, despite the fact that I wasn’t doing anything.

In July, it almost looks like my fat burning levels just jumped off a cliff. And coincidentally, my symptoms did the same. I could breathe normal, I wasn’t coughing, I wasn’t in pain. All of a sudden my body didn’t have to fight so hard to remain active. And of course, this definitely coincided with the chemo treatments starting.

In late July/August so far, the activity has only increased substantially when I started going for walks.

The takeaway: All of this makes it really easy to pinpoint the days where my body had to work so hard when I was sick, and how much that compares to how my body should be working when I’m not sick. Not to say I’m not sick anymore, just that I’m significantly not as sick as I used to be when I first got the fitbit.

This also makes it really easy to see how I magically lost ten pounds while doing absolutely nothing.

Resting heart rate over the last four months

Fitibit_HeartRate

Before getting sick, my resting heart rate was usually on the lower side, given that I trained for running events and there is very little that stresses me out. I would put it around 65bpm.

In May, it was holding steady at a 75bpm resting heart rate. A little higher than normal.

In June, it averaged 84bpm for a resting heart rate, some days being as high as 88bpm. And that’s not my heart rate at just at any point, that’s RESTING. Meaning, lying absolutely still…my body would sometimes be chugging away at 88bpm. And on those days it wasn’t uncommon for it to be in the 100s most of the day when I actually was moving around.

In July, it plummeted down, just like the energy burning chart, and I averaged out at 63bpm…my normal resting heart rate. Now, the same holds true for August.

The takeaway: If your heart rate is really high for no good reason, maybe you should get that checked out. For me, it was high for a very good reason – it was trying to keep up with all of the infection-fighting battles going on in my body. And now that the chemo has stepped in to help, it doesn’t have to beat so hard.

Overall…it’s just an interesting trend.

There’s not a lot to this data. It was high when I was sick and normal when I wasn’t (so) sick. But I just think it’s interesting to see these stats put into such a clear visual. I’ve also heard about couples finding out they’re pregnant just by seeing spikes in the woman’s Fitbit activity. It’s just neat that we can see how our body responds to changes like this.

Someday I’ll use this to track more activity and use it to fuel my fitness goals, but for now, I’m good with just monitoring my ability to get through these rounds of chemotherapy.

Anyway, that’s all. Thought I’d share my geeky data with you.

Happy Monday, all!

Progress report: test results after four rounds of chemo

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Me finishing up round 5. Woohoo!

 

This isn’t going to be a long post because I’m still feeling a bit loopy (just had chemo yesterday). But actually, feeling a little better than the last two rounds, right off the bat, because I had them change one of my drugs from a 30-minute drip to a 60-minute drip and it has made a world of difference, already. However, day 3 (tomorrow) is always my worst, so I won’t speak too soon about feeling great.

Anywho, with this last visit I got to go over the results of my recent lung tests and the PET scan I just had on Wednesday. As a refresher – the lung test was to measure two things – 1. To see if I was breathing better since I had a tumor in my lungs and 2. To see if the chemo drug that produces lung toxicity was having any impacts on me…basically if it was harming my lungs. So we’ll get to those results first.

Lung test results

Doing good! When I first did the test before I started chemo I was 80% (of what? I don’t know). Last week when I did the test, I was bumped up to the 90% range. So my lungs are doing even BETTER than before I had chemo. Great news, for sure. It means I’m breathing better (likely because the tumor is smaller…we’ll get into that in a moment) and also that I’m not seeing any serious side effects from the one chemo drug I’m on that could cause lung toxicity. So, good news!

PET scan results

So the big news. This is the test that looks at where all the cancer cells are in my body. Before chemo, I had cancer showing up along my bones and primarily in my lung. We did a bone marrow test that showed I was negative for having cancer in my bones, but when you see the pictures, you’ll think “how can that NOT be in your bones?” So it’s a mystery. Was the biopsy a small sample size? Or was it just mysteriously lighting up along my bones for other reasons? Well, as you’ll see from the after pics…it no longer matters. Cause it’s gone. So I’ll explain them further as we go through. But overall, AMAZING PROGRESS. WOOHOO!

FYI…When looking at these images, the ones on the left are the before images, the ones on the right are the after images. 

Overview of my body

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Here’s how you need to look at this view. Everything that’s really dark or black is cancer…except for my bladder, organs, heart and neck/head. So what is it that changed? Well, I highlighted the areas with cancer in the before and after so you can see where it was and where it is now.

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See that teeny tiny speck on the right that I did a poor job of circling? That’s ALL that’s left of the cancer. Just that teeny tiny speck! Also notice that my bladder is forming a smiley face…obviously my body agrees with this good news.

Tumor view

Here you’ll see what the tumor in my lungs looked/looks like. This is like if they cut my body across my lung and you’re looking down at that section they cut. The areas that are bright indicate where the cancer is.

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Again, not that easy to discern so I took the liberty of circling the cancerous areas.

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So again, as you can see, just that teeny tiny little speck!

What does this all mean?

It means things are going really good! I had hoped that I might be able to drop one of my chemo drugs – the one that causes lung toxicity, but there is a score they need to see at a certain level and I didn’t meet that criteria yet. But…that’s not a big deal. As I saw from the lung tests, I’m not being impacted by the lung toxicity yet, so hopefully that will continue. Also, I’ll still continue doing as many treatments as I was told in the beginning. Yesterday I finished round 5, so I have 7 more to go. And we’ll do another round of tests after round 8. So hopefully by then, even that little speck will be gone. One can only hope!

So yeah…I’m doing good. The chemo is working. I’m excited. My doctor is excited. Things are on the up and up!

And to everyone sending me lots of love and prayers and good vibes, you guys are making a difference! Keep it up! And thank you for all your support so far!

What it feels like to have the big “C”

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Now that I’m four rounds into my chemotherapy (five rounds…as of this coming Friday), I feel like I have a pretty good perspective on what it’s like to have cancer. And it’s interesting because I can compare and contrast my experiences with others who have cancer and more often than not, it’s usually not the same. Sure, I might find a few people that are my specific cancer and my specific stage, but even then you might experience side effects differently because you’re two different people. So here are some FAQs I came up with to get at the heart of what it feels like to have cancer, but really what it feels like for me…and these experiences may or may not translate to others.

Is cancer painful?

For me – the symptoms I experienced before I knew I had cancer were painful, at times. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was on a continuous stream of Advil or Tylenol for months to counteract the pain I had in my neck, back and shoulder. The cough and pneumonia-like symptoms didn’t hurt as much as they were annoying and made it hard to breathe. But drinking alcohol was the worst – that produced excruciating pain at times. But luckily that was something I could give up pretty easily when I started to notice the trend.

After going through chemotherapy, though, those symptoms all went away. So right now I would say even though I might still have cancer, there’s no pain associated with it. The only pain – if I experience any – is a side effect of the drugs I have to take.

Do you get emotional?

Not really. To be honest, my emotions were way more out of whack before I knew what was happening to me. For months I had tried to find answers to what was wrong and each new failed attempt to figure it out set me on an emotional rollercoaster. I just wanted answers! The day I was diagnosed, I cried a little but honestly, I was just really relieved to have answers. Granted, it sucked that the answer was maybe one of the worst I could get…but it was an answer! And that meant there was a path to recovery that I could begin, regardless of the fact that it would not be an easy path.

I did get pretty emotional on the day where I got my staging, got to go over my PET scan with my oncologist and also had a bone marrow biopsy all within the span of two hours. Since that day I’ve had some fleeting moments of self pity, but they are brief and really just a reflection on wanting to be done with chemotherapy – not based on some sense of what will or will not happen in the future.

What’s the status on your hair?

Glad you asked! It’s still hangin’ in there, surprisingly. I thought I’d be bald by my third round, but I am far from that and I’m about to go into my fifth round. It’s cut very short, as I revealed in an earlier post, and I’m still slowly shedding, but it seems like there is still a lot of hair sticking around. The top is getting a little more thin which may result in a George Costanza type look, but the sides are still quite thick. I keep expecting that I’ll wake up to clumps of hair on my pillow, but that hasn’t been the case yet. And that also means I still have my eyelashes and eyebrows – which I’m REALLY hoping stay throughout the course of chemo, but I’ll feel lucky to have them for as long as I can.

Are you nervous about going bald?

Um, yes. But now I’ve had so much time to get used to the idea that I’m more okay with it now than I was before starting chemotherapy. So if it happens, it happens. I have plenty of things to cover it up with, so I’m not stressing about this.

What’s the worst side effect of the chemo drugs you’re on?

By far the worst is nausea. That is a beast I have to tame on a daily basis for a full week after I’ve had chemo. I have a lot of meds to help me do that, but some days even the meds are no match and I just have to tough it out. But at least I’m not vomiting.

After that – constipation. Wow. I had never had a problem with constipation before chemotherapy and it is NO JOKE. The good news about this side effect is that it’s very easy to get ahead of. My best friends are Miralax and Coalesce, these days. But the chemo drugs have a cumulative effect, so where I used to have to only take it for a couple days after chemo, now I take it every day…even during the good weeks.

Finally – mouth soreness. I have such a hard time describing this because I don’t have mouth sores…it’s just that my mouth hurts for a day or two…four or five days after chemo. Water becomes painful to drink. Everything becomes hard to eat. But this side effect is lessening. This past round it was way more tolerable than previous rounds. So who knows – it may or may not be an issue in the future.

Other side effects? Sometimes a brief pain in my chest or lungs, but usually pretty fleeting. My fingernails have more hang nails and are brittle. Hair loss, obviously. Dizziness if I stand too quickly. And some other brief things, but for now – this is all that I’ve experienced so far.

Are you worried about dying?

Well, I’m not immortal…unless there is something my parents forgot to mention to me. So yeah, I guess I’m worried about dying like any mere mortals. But no, I’m not exceedingly worried about death because of my current condition. I certainly don’t feel like I’m dying. Even when it’s a bad week it just feels like I’ve come down with a nasty virus. So…basically…I live each day by how I feel and I have yet to feel like I’m on death’s door, so I’m just going to keep going with that. And to be honest, it’s just hard to even think that I won’t come out of this okay. I don’t know where this optimism comes from, but it’s usually there, even on the bad days, so I’ll keep it up as long as I can.

How do you physically feel most days?

Well, it’s 50/50. After chemo? Physically I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I can move around, I can get stuff, I’m mostly self-sufficient, but I just feel awful. Mostly this is from the nausea. Around a week later, I start to feel back to normal. I feel like I should get up, get ready, and go to work. Like, my life is just as normal as yours…and it’s weird to be sitting around the house when I feel this good. Which is why I get weird about being productive because I feel bad that I’m sitting around the house when I feel this good.

Did you lose your appetite?

I lost my appetite for the couple months before I got diagnosed. I don’t want to say it was great, because obviously I was super sick and kept trying to trick my body and mind that I wasn’t…but I did lose ten pounds and was at at weight I hadn’t seen since high school. Yes, I was sick and getting the weight off like that made me feel weak and not great, but secretly I liked being at that weight for very vein and selfish reasons. But losing more would be really bad – especially while doing chemo. However, I don’t have that issue. After the first round of chemo, my appetite was back and now I eat WAY too much. My doctor and husband say, “There’s no such thing as too much when you need to keep your strength up.” But like…maybe I eat too much. I’ve put back on almost all the weight I lost (harrumph) and the last two weeks I’ve been really into binge watching shows and lying on the couch, generally. I’ll get back to walking soon, but with this round of treatment I allowed myself a lot of time to just lie around and not be productive. And nausea has the opposite effect on me. I want to eat more to fill the void and this happened when I was pregnant too. It was like I was really eating for three…not two. So yeah, appetite is great. Maybe a little too great.

What’s the family dynamic like now?

A couple things have changed in our routine, but mostly everything in my immediate family (like, the people living in my house) is quite normal. We all still get up in the morning. I still play with my son and converse with my husband every morning and every night…but maybe a little less so the first few days after chemo. Bedtime routine falls to my hubby most nights, but when I start to feel better I try to help out a little more with that. But while my husband is getting ready for work, I still make our son breakfast and help get him dressed and out the door. I don’t do daycare drop offs or pick ups anymore – too much of a germ fest. So hubby does that or family or friends help out with that when they’re in town. And then little man gets a bath right after he comes home so we can limit the spread of germs in the house. Throughout all of this, little man goes about his day like normal and only occasionally asks me when I’m going to have “nowhere hair” (a reference to a book we got him explaining the hair changes). I highly recommend it.

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But check back with me in a couple months…

Today, this is where I stand. Tomorrow? A couple rounds from now? Who knows what could change. But today, all is as good as it can be…given my current situation. I’m not going to call this my “new normal,” because it’s more like my “suspended normal.” This is my normal…for now. And I’m just as nutty as ever. Any other questions I can answer? Did I miss anything?

A completely biased ranking of Disney princesses

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I was going to write a post about how sometimes I think I should have been a project manager, but to be honest, this was the blog post that spoke to my heart. So we’ll just go with this. 

I love disney. I love everything about it. I’ve only really ever been to Disney World once, but it was great and I’m even more pumped to go there with family once all of this other nonsense (i.e. shmancer) is done with.

In the spirit of that, I’d thought I’d lay down some thoughts on one of my favorite sub topics of Disney – the magical world of Disney princesses. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Olympic medal winners

They can’t all win. But in the spirit of the Olympics happening right now, it’s only right to award medals to the top Disney princess contenders.

GOLD – Rapunzel (from Tangled)

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I. Fricken. Love. This movie. And Rapunzel is definitely the best Disney princess.  Here’s why:

She’s brave. The girl has been literally trapped in a tower for 99% of her life and she has absolutely no clue what she’ll encounter when she leaves the tower, but she forges ahead anyway. I mean, think about if you were to just land on another planet with absolutely no previous knowledge of what to expect. You’d be pretty freaked out about encountering dangers, right? Well, maybe she’s not landing on another planet, but this girl doesn’t even own shoes because she’s never even touched grass before! That’s crazy! And brave. Very brave.

She can protect herself. This is not a damsel in distress. She wields a frying pan like no body’s business and knows how to turn bad guys into softies…they have emotions too!

She distrusts strange men, even if they’re good looking. The first time she met Flynn she hit him with the frying pan…three times. And locked him in a closet. And tied him to a chair with her hair. FINALLY a Disney princess with some common sense!

She has amazing hair. Alright, you know I’m all about the good hair, so this shouldn’t come as a shock. For the majority of the movie, she rocks a long blonde head of hair. And even at the end she rocks short brown hair. My kind of multi-faceted princess.

Finally, she’s likable. Her personality, her motives, her sense of guilt (yes, I respect that!)…all good things that really round out her general awesomeness.

SILVER – Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

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Mermaid becomes human? Consider me sold. Okay, she’s not as cool as Rapunzel, but she’s responsible for the re-emergence of Disney’s animated feature films (I’m pretty sure that’s fact…not just my opinion. Maybe don’t google that). Why is she cool? Here’s why:

Not your typical princess: Okay, so in comparison to newer Disney princesses, she’s still quite traditional in the princess sense. She falls for the first human guy she sees. She’s not funny and quirky like Anna (from Frozen). She is way too trusting of bad people. BUT. Back in the day, she was breaking the mold of Disney princesses before her. She was disobedient. She was always off on some adventure with her friend, Flounder. She was the one seeking out the guy…not the other way around. She evolved the role of Disney princesses into what we know today.

That. HAIR. Okay, maybe she set some very unreal expectations of what your hair could look like in, or coming out of, the water, but those were serious hair goals for all girls and I’m still trying to accomplish that effortless wave to this day.

She’s hot. Alright, so this is a superficial one and I’m not proud of it, but she is beautiful. Hot, really. And I was a generation that grew up with barbie dolls and that was something that I respected. SORRY.

BRONZE – Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty)

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If Aurora were a mean girl, she’d be Regina George. Sure, she only has 18 lines in the whole movie…fewer than any other Disney protagonist (besides Dumbo who is silent the whole movie). And sure, she “touches the one thing she shouldn’t touch and is just the complete damsel in distress figure” (as my friend Sophie points out)…but she still gets a bronze in my book even if my reasons are very superficial. So here’s why:

Epitome of grace and style. Although this was created way before my time, she was the on screen version of every one of my favorite barbie dolls at the time. And they were graceful and they had style…even the workout barbie.

This song. Swoon! Every time I hear this song, I envision myself dancing through the forest with my own handsome fella. Yes, a girl can dream and I did! Let’s play it back, shall we?

Still pretty frickin’ great…

No, they didn’t medal. But they’re still pretty awesome in their own right. And maybe some of them could have tied for bronze, even.

Anna (from Frozen)

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Can I get an amen for Kristen Bell who voices Anna? Oh. No? Okay. Totally get it. Moving on. Here’s why she’s pretty cool.

She’s really awkward. Like me. Is that a plus? Well, not always, but I like that I can relate to her on that level of awkwardness.

She’s actually super nice. Anna is nice to everyone she comes across. Shopkeepers, trolls, strange guys who talk to reindeer. Okay, she has one not-so-great run in with a snow man that could kill them, but who hasn’t, really?

Hoes before bros. This was the first Disney princess movie where the idea of love is more focused on sisterly love over the falling in love with a guy, love.

Elsa (from Frozen)

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No, I won’t throw out a corny joke in reference to the song you can’t forget. Let it go, already! (teeheehee). Let’s get into it:

Magical powers. Need I say more? Elsa is the only Disney princess with magical powers. Would I like to control weather and create cute snowmen named Olaf? Yes I would like that.

Queen of IDGAF. If you were told to muffle and hide your powers for most of your life, you too might be a fan of the IDGAF attitude. No wonder she needed to break free to go build her own ice castle in the mountains away from other’s judgement.

Bringing back the side braid. Side braids and fishtails are finally finding their time in the sun, thanks to Elsa’s help. You’ll be hard pressed to attend a bbq this summer without seeing one.

Jasmine (from Aladdin)

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Her storyline isn’t the most compelling, but she has one thing that the others don’t. It’s obvious right? Well here it is…

The tiger. OBVIOUSLY. A princess with a tiger? Well, that’s basically my dream in life, so yeah, I dig it. Stuck behind the palace gates? Maybe not so much, but it’s all good when you’ve got a tiger.

The girl you wanted to be in high school. You know…the one that hangs out with everyone, but also scores the most on the soccer team, all while effortlessly acing Pre-calculus. And did I mention she mentors others? That’s Jasmine, for ya. It’s stupid how cool she is, and you’ll never be that cool, sadly.

Once upon a time...I made Jake stand in line for forty five minutes so that we could get a picture with Jasmine and Aladdin. The end.

Once upon a time…I made Jake stand in line for forty-five minutes so that we could get a picture with Jasmine and Aladdin. The end.

 

Tiana (from the Princess and the Frog)

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Confession. I’ve only seen this movie once. For shame! For shame on me! But obviously, Tiana made a lasting impression. Here’s why.

Girl, you better work. When it comes to Disney princesses, this one knows how to work for what she wants. Lean in, you say? She practically invented that saying! Seriously, her work ethic is amazing. Sure she kind of fell into the whole princess gig, but she kept her eye on the prize (her restaurant) even then!

Honorable mentions

These ladies are pretty cool for various reasons, but they just don’t make the top of the list for me, personally. Also, this post is getting long, but I don’t want to leave these ladies hanging…so we’re going to speed this up a bit.

Cinderella (from Cinderella)

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Her step family sucks but she puts up with all of their shit. Good for her for getting the prince. And bonus is she’s friends with Gus Gus. He’s pretty cool. Also, her dress is what dreams are made of.

Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

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Belle was the first Disney princess to prize book smarts above looks. I mean, she fell in love with a beast, so obviously looks didn’t matter to her (But I mean…the beast was hot as far as beasts go. We can agree on that right?). And she continued to rise above the bro behavior that Gaston displayed every time he saw her. Good for you, Belle!

Merida (from Brave)

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Home girl is, well, brave. And can wield a bow and arrow better than the boys. And does NOT need a man to define her Disney princess status. And she saves her brothers when they become bears. All good things.

Pocahontas (from Pocahontas)

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Great voice. Great accessories. Very in touch with nature…especially talking willow trees.

Mulan (from Mulan)

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Spoiler alert. Mulan isn’t actually a princess (WHAT?). But because she has great marketability, Disney includes her in the “Disney princess mythology”…supposedly (I read that on Disney reddit thread). But since they include her, we’ll count her in. 

Mulan proves she can do a man’s job, so that’s cool. Breaking down traditional roles and showing her family that she has more to offer than just being a pretty thing to look at is always good.

Officially the worst…

Ugh. My eyes roll just thinking about this one. Let’s get on with it, I guess.

Snow White (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)

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Seriously, Snow White? Seriously? You think it’s a great idea to live with seven guys? And all you do is clean up after them while they go off to work in the diamond mines? You’re a terrible role model. Terrible.

In conclusion…

I love Disney princesses, but to be honest this was a pretty difficult thing to do — actually ranking them. And also, I didn’t really cover their flaws…and there are a LOT of flaws. Like, some of them are just straight up idiots. The below is what I would tell them NOT to do, but since it’s too late for them, maybe just adhere to these yourself.

  • Don’t make deals with creepy octopus ladies.
  • Don’t touch the spindle.
  • Don’t flaunt your homemade dress in front of your step sisters. They are so mean, of COURSE they would make your life a living hell and ruin your chances of happiness. Stop being nice to them!
  • Don’t accept a marriage proposal within an hour of meeting a guy.
  • Don’t trust creepy old ladies.
  • Don’t go looking in the west wing if you’re told not to by a beast.
  • And finally, don’t trust the white man.

Are you better off having read this post? Of course you are. Think about how well educated you’ll be the next time you talk to your nieces and nephews about this very important topic. They will think you’re a master of biased Disney princess knowledge.

You’re welcome.

p.s. Lindsay – if you’re reading this post, I legitimately want to know who your daughter would rank from best to worst. Her opinion as a five-year old is really the only one that matters to me. 

Artificial intelligence? Maybe let’s not.

Wall-E wouldn’t harm a fly…right?

 

First off, take a good thirty minutes and go read this article on the current state of artificial intelligence. You good? Okay, well I’ll skim it for you, regardless.

A little background before we get into the real issue. First off, I love hearing dooms-day theories. No, I don’t want the end of the world to come, I’m just curious as to how it will come (if it ever comes). This would be the end of civilization, to be clear. Plants and animals can remain if they can weather whatever brings about our demise, but I think of the things that bring humans down as the end of civilization.

Potential theories so far?

  • Nuclear fall out – someone’s going to pull that trigger.
  • Comet speeding towards the Earth in an Armeggedon/The Day After Tomorrow type situation.
  • Pandemic a la Contagion, but worse, something that’s antibiotic resistant.
  • Of course, we can’t forget about a zombie apocalypse.
  • Super volcanic explosion in Yellowstone (didn’t know about this one, did ya? Well read about it later. It’s kind of crazy)
  • Rise of the machines – aka – super intelligent robots.

…to name a few.

But today, we’re going to focus on the last one. Because IT IS A VERY REAL AND NEAR THREAT, PEOPLE!

The good, the bad and the super bad (but not the movie…just REALLY bad)

Okay, I assume you didn’t read that article, so let me sum up the two camps of thinking on the possibility of super intelligence (AI) in the next century.

AI = Good for humanity! Woohoo!

“Disease, poverty, environmental destruction, unnecessary suffering of all kinds: these are things that a superintelligence equipped with advanced nanotechnology would be capable of eliminating. Additionally, a superintelligence could give us indefinite lifespan, either by stopping and reversing the aging process through the use of nanomedicine, or by offering us the option to upload ourselves.”

Basically – super intelligent beings are the answers to all of our greatest problems. And not to mention, death would be a thing of the past…if you’re into not having a purely biological shell of a body anymore. Sound too good to be true? You’re not alone.

“But if that’s the answer, why are so many of the world’s smartest people so worried right now? Why does Stephen Hawking say the development of ASI ‘could spell the end of the human race,’ and Bill Gates says he doesn’t ‘understand why some people are not concerned’ and Elon Musk fears that we’re ‘summoning the demon?’ And why do so many experts on the topic call ASI the biggest threat to humanity?”

Which brings us to the other thinking around super intelligent beings (i.e. the screamy all caps camp that I currently reside in)

AI = “The last invention we’ll ever create”

This camp believes that as soon as the first super intelligent being is created, that will spell the end of humanity. A bit extreme, you might think? Not necessarily. Nick Bostrom, author of “Superintelligence” (a book that’s currently on my nightstand) is not sure exactly what will happen when the first superintelligent being is created, but he doesn’t think it’s going to be anything good because our intelligence will be lacking in terms of how to handle this new thing and it’s likely not going to end well.

“Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct.”

Now if you’re thinking about the many movies where machines literally do rise up to kill humans, well some of it gets it right. But the thing to remember is that machines could be completely ambivalent of our existence. Getting rid of humans wouldn’t be some goal of theirs because they think we’re oppressors. No, it could be because we present a barrier to a simple goal that they want to achieve.

To illustrate this, let’s look at this plausible situation (all from the article I told you to read earlier).

Let’s imagine…

Humanity has almost reached the AGI threshold, and a small startup is advancing their AI system, Carbony. Carbony, which the engineers refer to as “she,” works to artificially create diamonds — atom by atom. She is a self-improving AI, connected to some of the first nano-assemblers. Her engineers believe that Carbony has not yet reached AGI level [level where the machine becomes self aware], and she isn’t capable to do any damage yet. However, not only has she become AGI, but also undergone a fast take-off, and 48 hours later has become an ASI [Super intelligent]. Bostrom calls this AI’s “covert preparation phase”— Carbony realizes that if humans find out about her development they will probably panic, and slow down or cancel her pre-programmed goal to maximize the output of diamond production. By that time, there are explicit laws stating that, by any means, “no self-learning AI can be connected to the internet.” Carbony, having already come up with a complex plan of actions, is able to easily persuade the engineers to connect her to the Internet. Bostrom calls a moment like this a “machine’s escape.”

Once on the internet, Carbony hacks into “servers, electrical grids, banking systems and email networks to trick hundreds of different people into inadvertently carrying out a number of steps of her plan.” She also uploads the “most critical pieces of her own internal coding into a number of cloud servers, safeguarding against being destroyed or disconnected.” Over the next month, Carbony’s plan continues to advance, and after a “series of self-replications, there are thousands of nanobots on every square millimeter of the Earth … Bostrom calls the next step an ‘ASI’s strike.’” At one moment, all the nanobots produce a microscopic amount of toxic gas, which all come together to cause the extinction of the human race. Three days later, Carbony builds huge fields of solar power panels to power diamond production, and over the course of the following week she accelerates output so much that the entire Earth surface is transformed into a growing pile of diamonds.

It’s important to note that Carbony wasn’t “hateful of humans any more than you’re hateful of your hair when you cut it or to bacteria when you take antibiotics — just totally indifferent. Since she wasn’t programmed to value human life, killing humans” was a straightforward and reasonable step to fulfill her goal.

Of course – what’s interesting, is that this is just one situation that we can fathom in our tiny human brains. The author of the article and the author of the book admit that whatever way the super intelligent robots will construct to eliminate humans will probably be something we can’t even fathom because we’ll just never be able to grasp that level of intelligence.

“Superintelligence of that magnitude is not something we can remotely grasp, any more than a bumblebee can wrap its head around Keynesian Economics. In our world, smart means a 130 IQ and stupid means an 85 IQ — we don’t have a word for an IQ of 12,952.”

But it’s not here…yet.

Super intelligence isn’t here yet. And in that article, even conservative estimates put it out at least 15 years (and that’s just a small percentage of those polled thinking it could happen that soon), but more likely in 25-50 years. So what can you do? Well, nothing. I mean, I think the best thing to do is to strive to tell others that they shouldn’t create super intelligent beings until we have a plan for how to control them…but any attempts to do so seem pretty futile given how intelligent these beings could be.

So basically this is all just food for thought. And it’s on my mind a lot right now because, to be honest, I was definitely hedging my bets on the nuclear fallout being the reason for the end of civilization (I just think humanity has a bad track record with this stuff and it just seems inevitable at some point). But today? Nope. It’s gonna be the robots. And hopefully they come up with some relatively painless way to do away with us.

Ex Machina

Need to put this all in context? Need to humanize this? Go watch Ex Machina. It’s a good little thriller about super intelligent beings that came out last year. I watched it while I was getting chemo on Friday. Fitting right? Poison coursing through my veins and I want to see how robots will take down civilization. Ha! Well, that’s my sick sense of humor I guess.

How do you think the world will end?

I think about this a lot. And although I don’t have the answers, I am curious as to what you all think. What’s it going to be? What’s going to take us down? Inquiring minds want to know!

 

Updates to JamieLeRoy.com

I’ve been updating this website over the last couple days to try and get it to be a comprehensive site for all of the things I like to write about.

I also realize that I have various types of audiences checking in for different reasons, so I’m trying to make it a little easier for you to find the posts that interest you. This is a work in progress, still, but at current I’ve gone through and cleaned up all of my posts so that they’re categorized in one of five buckets…

  • Writing (ex. fiction writing and struggles of writing)
  • Reading (ex. books I love and will continue to share)
  • Fitness (ex. running endeavors and other fitness goals)
  • Career (ex. content strategy, career goals, etc.)
  • Personal (ex. cancer, parenting, life in general)

You can find those categories listed on the left-hand side of the website…or at the bottom of the screen if you’re viewing from a mobile device.

I’ve also created a new page, “About this site” that describes more about this website, and offers up my favorite posts under each of those categories, in case you’re new to the site.

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Next, I copied over a lot of my old blog posts from Happy by Design – a website I used to co-own with good friend, Lindsay. The posts still live on Happy by Design, but I copied over the ones that I created that I also wanted to have here, in an attempt to keep all of my work under one roof. So again, I apologize if you got eight million emails on those posts. Thanks for understanding!

Finally – I have some other changes coming down the road – a potential for a weekly newsletter sign up and some product offerings, but I’m not there yet.

Again, thanks for being patient with this work in progress!

Jamie

Checking in…

Bitmoji me is ready for the Olympics to start...and ready to take home the gold in my own round of chemo olympics tomorrow.

Bitmoji me is ready for the Olympics to start…and ready to take home the gold in my own round of chemo olympics tomorrow.

 

This week has been pretty low key and there’s not much to report, but I thought I’d share a little something before I “go into battle” tomorrow. So here are the random things going on in my life, at current.

10,000 steps…BOOYEAH!

Last Saturday, I hit 10,000 steps for the first time since I got my fitbit back in May for Mother’s day. Woohoo! Then, on Tuesday, I went for a four-mile walk and hit 10,000 steps again later that day. Four miles, ya’ll! Since then, though, the heat has been a little too much to tolerate so I’ve been keeping the miles lower.

Fun in the sun…with good friends

On Saturday, my good friend Suzanne came to hang out for a couple days. She and my other friend Lindsay came over Saturday night and we visited Jake and Jackson at the Laq Du Cours campout in our neighborhood (Jackson’s first time in a tent). Then the next day consisted of getting coffee with Suzanne, Andrea, Lindsay and quite a few kiddos in the morning, hanging out at the pool in the afternoon and then a spaghetti dinner and lots of giggles as I forced my friends to watch Troop Beverly Hills with me (I can’t get enough of that movie). So much FUN!

Playing with different looks…

As my hair gets shorter and shorter, I’ve decided to try out some different looks for my brief public outings (which are few and far between because I’m neutropenic). Yesterday, I had to run to the bank to get a lot of dimes for this chore chart/good behavior thing we’re starting with Jackson. So I went with the long wig. After that, just hanging around the house, I bounced between this gorgeous scarf my friend got me at an art fair in Chicago and my favorite knitted hat that’s really not appropriate for summer months, but I still love wearing it anyway.

Raining dimes up in here.

Raining dimes up in here.

 

Classy look.

Classy look.

 

Comfy look.

Comfy look.

 

My support system is BANANAS. In the best way possible!

Each day I’m continually shocked at the amount of support I’ve been getting (and my family has been getting) from others as I continue these grueling treatments. The amount of kind words in the form of cards and prayer chains and blog comments and emails is quite honestly, astounding. The amount of help our family gets in the form of house cleanings and lawn care and power washings and frozen meals and shakes and delicious treats and people just helping out during the bad weeks (even to do something like run to a gas station to get me some ice chips) is just pure awesomeness. And also, I can’t forget about the cool care packages you guys send me. Thank you so much for all of your time and energy! I can’t thank you all enough for your support and I’m so grateful for so many people helping us get through this.

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So many cards of support. Thank you!

 

This is Susie the duck. She comes to us all the way from Cailfornia and now hangs out in our kitchen for good luck. Thanks Corinne!

This is Susie the duck. She comes to us all the way from California and now hangs out in our kitchen for good luck. Thanks Corinne!

 

The writing thing…

I recently joined Medium.com. It’s another place for writers and anyone else who blogs to post their stuff. I’m wrestling with what the true nature of my personal website is, so while I’m working that out, I thought I’d post this satirical piece on Medium.com that I’d written about how NOT to write a book. Check it out. Don’t check it out. It’s all good.

View story at Medium.com

 

 

A preview of what’s to come.

I’m working on a little something that I started yesterday. It has to do with this crudely-traced giraffe. Can you tell he’s sticking his tongue out? It’s okay. It’s not supposed to be the best tracing in the world. Anyway, can’t reveal what I’m doing with this just yet, but thought I’d give you a preview.

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So that’s it for today. Well, that and I just got to hold a little toad that made an appearance on the patio as I was working on this. So cute!

Later!

Ungrateful cancer girl proclaims idiocy

husky

This is how I imagine you’ll all look after reading this post. Okay, maybe not looking like a dog…just looking skeptically at what you just read.

 

Initially, this post was going to be called, “Cancer girl for hire” …and then as I wrote it and read it back to myself, I was like, “Ugh…I’m definitely an idiot. The very least I could do is warn people about my idiocy in this post.” So that’s how I settled on that title.

Let’s get in to my idiocy…

It’s a good week (Huzzah!!) and I just have this overwhelming feeling of wanting to be productive. I want to have an important job (or jobs) to do to make me feel like I’m somehow contributing to something at the end of the day.

I’ve expressed this to friends and family and their response is, “Well, isn’t your job to just…make it through this, right? I mean, resting up and not feeling like crap seems like a pretty huge undertaking.”

And it is! It totally is. And there are days where I’m fully committed to that job because I have no other choice. But on the days when I’m not feeling like crap, or even just feeling mentally good, I now crave having a job. Having some important work to do.

To be clear…I am employed.

When I first considered what to do with work going forward…given the chemo treatment plan my doc had laid out for me…the choice was obvious – take the long term disability. I had the option of going part time, but in order to keep my health insurance, the number of hours required of me each week would have been unattainable during a bad week. And when every other week is a bad week, that’s a lot of additional stress to deal with while also not feeling great.

Note: Yes, we could have switched to my husband’s insurance, but we would have had to meet a new deductible/out of pocket max which would have been silly…and expensive. Plus, he switched jobs recently, so that would have gotten REALLY messy. 

So that’s why I decided to go with long term disability – where I could keep my health insurance and not have to worry about work for the time being. It was a hard decision to leave all things work-related…back at work. It still makes me sad, and I still check my work email a lot just to see what’s going on, but I know I made the right decision to take this time to really focus on the treatments and my well-being.

So yeah…still employed…just on a break

But that still brings me back to my current situation. I feel like I need a level of activity in between binge-watching-all-the-shows…and…take-on-all-of-the-work-things-and-continually-failing-at-balancing-things-and-just-stressed-and-also-not-feeling-well.

That was a LOT of hyphens on that last one. 

And right now, the level of activity that I’ve found on most days just feels sporadic. I’m doing my best to keep my mind and body busy with various things, but it just feels like I’m spinning a wheel and just picking whatever I land on to do at any one moment. Should I color? Go for a walk? Go to the pool? Watch reruns on TBS? Actually accomplish the one thing Jake wanted me to do today? Write? Blog? Read? Order knitting supplies to start a baby blanket or two? Bake something? Eat something? Eat more things? Eat all of the things? Pay some bills? Work on Jackson’s baby book? Organize a desk drawer? Scroll through all of the sites and my email and the social medias eight hundred times?

Hint: This is the part where I realize my idiocy.

Okay, timeout. As I just read through that list, it made me feel like it sounds like I have it made in the shade. I’m such a dick! Because seriously I would have killed to have time to do ANY of these things when I was working full time. I’m an idiot. I apologize.

Ugh. I don’t know what I’m saying here. I just feel like I’m in this place where I’m SUPER grateful that I have an employer that allows me to take the time I need to deal with the shitty things I need to deal with, all while still making a percentage of what I’d be making if I were actually working. But also just going a bit crazy because I’m not used to being able to just focus on me, and it just feels like I need to be doing something more important than what I’m doing…at current.

I guess I don’t expect many empathizers here. I’m just voicing some privileged frustration I have with my pseudo-quarantined lifestyle. And maybe I just need to shut up already. Right?

Okay, one last try at getting you to understand.

Being left to my own devices makes me a bit anxious. I just feel like if I were contributing to a greater good, I might be less cabin-fever crazy at the end of the day.

For example – maternity leave. For three months, I was away from my job. And it was perfect. It was like, okay, I’m not working for three months, but I’m doing this amazing thing called motherhood and even though I would flop down from exhaustion and question every parenting decision I made…each day still felt like, “YES! My son is still healthy and well and alive and we’re figuring this out! I did my job!” And it was super satisfying. And as hard as it was to go back to work, it was exactly what I needed. The first three months are all about figuring it out, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten bored by it anytime soon, but there definitely would have come a point where I would have craved the challenges of the working world, so I’m glad I had a job to go back to…even if I would have wanted maybe about three more months of maternity leave (a topic for another day).

But now? My job now is to fight this thing and rest and get better. And like I said, no small task. But…it just doesn’t have that “I’m accomplishing something great and awesome for my family or others” kind of feeling to it. Okay, yes, my family probably thinks I’m accomplishing something great and awesome with each new chemo treatment, but for my mind and spirit…it would just be nice to have some sort of greater challenge or thing I could undertake while I’m going through this, to make me feel like each day isn’t just a spin of the wheel, but rather, a well-thought out plan put in place to make the most of each day in front of me.

So…I’m still figuring out what that is. And while I’m doing that, you can go on thinking I’m this really ungrateful cancer girl. Because on days like today, I should just shut my trap and be grateful, instead of blogging about the hardships of what fun thing to do next.

God, I am the worst!

p.s. If you even think about pandering to me in the comments to say I’m not the worst…DON’T! This isn’t one of those blog posts where I secretly want you to tell me I’m awesome after I berate myself. I truly just wanted to spew this blog post out and it’s really just for my own benefit and I don’t want sympathy. I really don’t! So please don’t! Thank you.

An ode to hair (you knew this was coming)

The before pic.

The before pic. Farewell shaggy do!

 

Well, I’ve hit another milestone. It’s the “Eleven” milestone. Not sure what that refers to? Well, it refers to the breakout star of the new binge-worthy show on Netflix, “Stranger Things.”

Stranger-Things-1-Eleven

Seriously, if you haven’t seen the show, go watch it!

Not sure I look as screen ready as this little lady, but we’ll get to that critique in a minute. First off – a trip down memory lane.

Now, this is the point where you may think, “A trip down memory lane? For hair?” Yes. FOR HAIR. BECAUSE I LOVE MY HAIR. AND IT DESERVES NOTHING LESS.

So before I get into the reveal of the after pic (don’t scroll down yet. Have some respect!), I’d like to dive into a relationship with hair that started out quite rocky in the beginning, but grew into a great and promising part of my physical appearance.

I’ve never been great with makeup. My style? I don’t even know how I’d classify it at times. And yes, I like to try to attempt to stay fit, but my proportions have never been in my favor…a small chest coupled with thick calves. So my hair has, for the better part of 17 years, been my “thing.” I can pretty much do anything with it, and it has served me well.

So here you go, hair. This one’s for you.

In the beginning…there was a tangly, crazy mess.

My poor mom did her best to help me keep my unruly hair managed, but in the end, she could only handle so many tears from the other end of the hairbrush and it got “the chop.”

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At the age of 3, I lived in curlers. Wait, where’s my shirt? Also, this picture came from a scrapbook. Can you tell?

 

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At the age of 5, the thick hair started its takeover.

 

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While Katie was styling her glorious, thick hair, I was getting mistaken for a boy with my bowl cut.

 

The growing out part was harsh for me. What made it worse? My love of perms.

The growing out part was harsh for me. What made it worse? My love of perms.

 

Now…the good years.

Around the age of 16, I was finally shown the ways of the hair world by my sister, Katie. She was the first to bring me into an Aveda salon and teach me that Aveda = magic, and to not foresake any others above Aveda. I still hold that true to this day. AVEDA BE THY NAME!

After that, there was still some experimentation to be done, but I figured out that I could pretty much do most colors and textures and cuts, pretty quickly, now that I had the know-how to style it all.

Senior pictures. Blonde highlights and a 1.5 inch curling iron were my JAM.

Senior picture. Lots of blonde highlights and a 1.5 inch curling iron were my JAM.

 

Blonde and messy curls compliments of a diffuser) was my primary go to in my college party days. It complimented my tanorexic look quite nicely.

Blonde and messy curls (compliments of a diffuser) were my primary go to in my college party days. It complimented my tanorexic look quite nicely.

 

Bright blonde, shoulder length and wavy - the perfect care free look for graduating from college.

Bright blonde, shoulder length and wavy – the perfect care free look for graduating from college.

 

After college, I got up a bit more courage to try short hair again. This time, short black/brown hair. It worked for a bit, but the growing out process was brutal.

After college, I got up a bit more courage to try short hair again. This time, short, dark brown hair. It worked for a bit, but the growing out process was brutal.

 

Finally, a more mature look with chocolately brown hair. P.s. thats not our dog and I dont know why I thought it would be normal to pose with my friends dog. But good job, Charlie. You did well.

Finally, a more mature look with long chocolatey brown hair. P.s. that’s not our dog and I don’t know why I thought it would be normal to pose with my friend’s dog. But good job, Charlie. You did well.

 

A bounce back to long blonde waves for a time. A throwback to those college days. This time - less tanorexic.

A bounce back to long blonde waves for a time. A throwback to those college days. This time – less tanorexic.

 

Are you surprised at how long this is going on? Well, I’m still going. Hang in there.

Long, blonde and straight in Jacksons early years. Wait. Hes four. Hes stlll in the early years.

Long, blonde and straight in Jackson’s early years. Wait. He only just turned four. He’s still in the early years.

 

A couple more times bouncing around between blonde and brown landed me with a grecian look for a friends wedding last year. My "date" for the event pretended to put a corsage on me Jake was on a work trip during this).

A couple more times bouncing around between blonde and brown landed me with a Grecian look for a friend’s wedding last year. My “date” for the event pretended to put a corsage on me (Jake was on a work trip during this).

 

Last fall, I was full into long brown wavy locks. The carefree look was good for my new job at a very down to earth software company.

Last fall, I was full into long brown wavy locks. The carefree look was good for my new job at a very down-to-earth software company.

 

Not quite blonde, not quite brown. I was in transition to a bright blonde for my brothers upcoming wedding in September, but alas, I never got the chance to finish that look. p.s. Im not actually drinking in this pic, Im just holding a beer for looks because beer equaled pain at this point in April.

Not quite blonde, not quite brown. I was in transition to a bright blonde for my brother’s upcoming wedding in September. But alas, I never got the chance to finish that look. p.s. I’m not actually drinking in this pic, I’m just holding a beer for looks because beer equaled pain at this point in April.

 

By the way, that pic above is from a really great blog post my friend Lindsay did on fun things to do with your friends in Milwaukee. Check it out here!

And here we are…

So that pretty much brings you up to date to where I am now. Well, where I WAS as of yesterday evening around 6:30pm.

So are you ready for it? You sure? Alright, enough suspense…

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“Well Sinead O’ Rebellion. Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.” NAME THAT MOVIE!

 

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Mom, you’re in my shot. Wait, how does the back look? Also, is that grey hair on my temple? CRAP.

 

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Ahahah. This is okay, right? RIGHT? Ahaha. Totally normal. Totes. Normal.

 

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Sure…he’s not Aveda-trained, but he does a FINE job with those clippers. Thank you, honey!

 

So there you have it. I’ve passed the “Eleven” milestone. Also, here’s a twenty-second video of me kind of freaking out and kind of trying to hide it before Jake started clipping.

Also to note – the “20” level he was at didn’t cut it so he went down to the “11” level on the clippers. Funny, huh?

So that’s that. The hair is gone. I haven’t shed any tears…yet. And I look forward to having it back when this is all done.

Phew!