Called to Serve

About a year ago I came across a post from a fellow LuLaRoe retailer named Jessica. She shared this amazing story of her mission trip to Haiti. I literally sobbed as I looked trough her photos. And it wasn’t because the photos were of heart wrenching starving children or poor, broken people. Jessica was smiling and laughing with the people of Haiti! You could see and feel the love in these photos. The spirit of the people was strong. And I knew in that moment that I had to be there. 

Throughout the last year, Jessica and I have conversed via phone and Facebook. Her excitement for this trip is contagious. She’s shared her stories and it further solidified my decision to go. Many obstacles have popped up over the course of this past year. Times where I questioned my sanity and what in the world I was doing traveling to Haiti. But that feeling has never dissipated. In fact, it’s stronger than ever. 

So today I’m boarding a plane to Port-au-Prince, Haiti where I will serve in my very first Mission Trip. I’ll also meet Jessica for the very first time face to face! I’m excited, nervous, and overwhelmed to say the least. Never have I been so called to do something so far out of my comfort zone. But you know, I have prayed about this for a very long time. I’ve longed for a way to give back. To help others. To grow on all levels. And here it is. 

Something tells me this week is going to do more than that. While I’m the one who’s going to Haiti to serve, to make a difference in the lives of others. I know I’m going to walk away the one changed. And for the better. 

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My Big Decision

Let’s go back a little bit so I can catch you up on what’s happened in these last few years. I went back to work for the State of Maryland after my 8 weeks of leave when I had Jace. I knew at that time I needed more.  I didn’t want to be in an office setting and I knew I wanted to spend as much time with my baby as I could. But I didn’t know what to do. 

We were fortunate enough to have my mother and mother in law watch him which helped immensely. Every parent out there knows the cost of child care is insane and I was not ready to work just to pay for that. Or let some stranger raise our child. That just wasn’t in my plan. 

So I decided to pray. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for a sign. I asked the universe for help, to show me the way. I needed something to help pay the bills and had a flexible schedule. I loved the people I worked with and the job I was doing. I was able to share my story with coworkers who battled cancer or had just been diagnosed.  I watched my story help them have hope through their treatment. I gained friendships through this that I’ll be forever grateful for. But I had come to a point where I just wanted to own my time. I know far too well how precious that time is and I needed to make a change. And quickly. 

I went on working for about a year before I found it. I had kinda stopped looking for it to be honest. But there it was. A friend of mine added me to this group on Facebook called Fancy Pants. I had no idea what it was all about but soon discovered they sold Maxi skirts! I was in love! I live for skirts in the summer and was excited when I found stylish and affordable Maxi skirts! Plus they have a nice way of flattering the mom pooch. 😉 

It wasn’t long before the packages started coming to the house every few days. First skirts. Then these crazy soft leggings, and then dresses. Chris finally stopped and asked “What is all this stuff you keep getting?” I replied comfy clothes that make me feel good! I explained to him how they only sold items on Facebook or at these things called Popup parties. Having worked his own retail business for many years he asked if it seems like a lucrative business. I decided to look into it. 

I scheduled a meeting with a local consultant to discuss what this business entailed. We had so so much in common and really hit it off! I went home that evening and filled out the paperwork! And on October 17, 2015 I became a retailer with LuLaRoe. 

If you’re not familiar with LuLaRoe, the company makes tops, skirts, dresses, coverups/cardigans, leggings and some children’s clothes. The styles range from XXS-3XL in most and there really is something for everyone. Which for me was the selling point. I could still help people by way of making them feel comfortable and beautiful at the same time! 

I had done it! I had finally found the missing piece to our puzzle. And in July of last year I left my full time job to pursue LuLaRoe full time. It’s truly been a blessing for our family. Being able to be home with Jace is amazing. I get to go to his nursery school functions, play dates with our friends, impromptu trips, and I don’t have to worry about how much leave I’m going to use to do it. My time is now mine. We’ve learned to weed out the things in life that we really don’t need and just live comfortably. We’ve also been able to go on trips and vacations that we couldn’t do in the past. Making memories is so important! 

I never thought I would ever leave my state job. However when this opportunity presented itself I knew it was time to take the leap. It was absolutely scary diving into the unknown. All the “What-ifs” hanging in the balance. But that’s no way to live your life. We only have this one. And I for certain don’t want to get to the end and regret all the things I didn’t do. 

So here we are. Living a happy life. We have our struggles too.  Don’t think it’s all sunshine and roses. But those things don’t really matter at the end of the day. And they shouldn’t for you either. Remember to be grateful for all you have. You are blessed. You are here. And you are important. Don’t ever forget that!

Blood Work and Mammograms and MRI’s OH MY!!!!

“Time for your checkup, time for your checkup!” Ok so I’ve been watching way too much Doc McStuffins. Please forgive me. But seriously it’s that time of year when I am so lucky to not only get my semi annual blood work, but it’s also my annual mammo and Breast MRI time. I never really give any of this much thought as I’m always busy doing “mom” stuff these days. That is until the day of the screening. And then, I’m consumed with the screening itself and more importantly, waiting on the results. Luckily I have a fantastic doctor who phones me as soon as my results are in (for the MRI). But first up is the ever wonderful mammogram.

You see I had one a few months back but could only do one side due to my recent delivery and my desire to breast feed my child. In May I stopped breast feeding and pumping, going exclusively to formula. I was very lucky that the transition was easy on my baby. I struggled a bit but held on to the fact that I made it 4 1/2 months with only one milk-producing breast. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

I had to wait a few months for my hormones to normalize before I could have the mammo. Fast forward those few months and boy was I nervous as I sat in the little cubbyhole changing room waiting for the Radiologists to tell me the results. When I heard those words “all clean”, I sighed. Thank you thank you thank you! I knew the MRI was next up but I would sail into that screening on this positive note. (P.S. 3-D mammograms are now available at most imaging centers. If you are young or have dense breast tissue, I would recommend having this done. Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with this. Check with your center. The Breast Center at AAMC charges $50. I believe it is worth it to get a better image.)

My MRI was much like my mammo in the fact that I was totally fine until I walked into the MRI room. For this scan they hook up a little IV to you so they can run a dye through your bloodstream while taking the images. This contrast dye is suppose to attach itself to abnormal areas which “light up” on the imaging screen. Unlike the mammo, you have to wait until your doctor’s office contacts you with the results. So waiting is the name of the game.

As I said before, I’m lucky to have a doctor who calls me immediately with the results. “Everything looks great”! Music to my ears. Another sigh and more thank you’s!!

Last week was my semi-annual appointment with my oncologist. Before every appointment I go to the lab in the basement at the hospital to have my blood drawn. I had emailed her regarding my blood work and asked if she could add my Thyroid and B-12 to the list. I was a couple weeks overdue to have my thyroid checked as my endocrinologist let me stop taking the meds and told me to wait a few weeks then have it tested to see if I could stay off the medicine all together. Rather than getting stuck twice I wanted to see if I could have it all done there and the results sent to my other doctor. My days of being a human pincushion were long gone! As for my B-12, about 3 months ago I made the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and eggs. I really want to elaborate more on this but I want to do it in a post of its own as I have a lot to say on the topic. However the main concern I had was am I getting enough B-12 now that I don’t eat meat.

Results are in and my levels are all perfect! No more thyroid medication! The only thing that came back of concern is that I am Vitamin D deficient. So I have to take a weekly prescribed dose for the next 3 months and then continue with a daily over the counter dose. I also just need to continue my bi-weekly B-12 dose. I take Deva Nutritional sublingual tablets 2500 mcg. She also made it very clear that exercise is extremely important in keeping recurrence at bay.

I was struggling with exercise as I just couldn’t find the time. But I decided I needed to make the commitment to do it given the importance. I have so much to be thankful for and one amazingly handsome little fella to live for. And wouldn’t you know it, right after I made that commitment, my little boy began sleeping through the night. Now I get 8 hours of sleep and am well rested. I have time to get up, work out and get ready for work all before he gets up in the morning! I’ve also added some mediation in the evenings before I go to sleep. It’s been so helpful with clearing my thoughts and focus.

Life is good. I am beyond blessed. I have to stay focused on the positive. I believe that positivity is the key ingredient to a long happy future. Add in a healthy diet, exercise, rest, friends, family, hope and love and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success!!!

Survivor Bras by VS

My good friend Chris Opilla sent this to me today. I think it’s a great idea. I shop at Victories Secret because of the quality and fit of their bras. However since having my partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) surgery, non of my bras fit properly. No one probably notices but me. However, it still bothers me. They make bras out there for those who’ve had a mastectomy. Non that I’ve seen look anything like Vicky’s. Woman loose a piece of their femininity after this type of surgery. So why not make a product that brings the sexy back?

http://consumerist.com/2013/01/17/daughter-of-breast-cancer-survivor-petitions-victorias-secret-to-create-nice-bras-for-women-with-mastectomies/