two months

IMG_2166

Abnormal, painful, heavy and/or irregular menstruation.

Intense abdominal pain and cramping outside of period.

Fatigue, bloating, nausea.

These are the vague symptoms you will find if you Google endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium tissue lining the uterus is found around the organs, pelvis and other areas of the body instead of being shed during monthly menses. This causes scar tissue, chronic debilitating pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, infertility, body image issues just to name a few symptoms.  No one brings up night sweats, blood clots, or nausea. How about chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and dizziness. I bet you didn’t know that knee pain, back pain, certain food intolerances, and vitamin deficiencies are also associated with endometriosis.

Many women (including myself) suffer in silence and the usual timeframe for diagnosis is 10 years, as it is difficult to detect. Endometriosis is incurable. 

No one tells you how it happens, about the days you will cry because you are in intense pain or how many times you will have to call in “sick” to work with no real explanation of what the heck is going on with you. I am constantly faced with physical pains that I can’t control even with the strongest painkillers.

I can date my symptoms back ten years ago.  I was only thirteen and had to make an appointment with a gynecologist. While I won’t mention this well-known doctor’s name, she brushed it off saying, “It was just a part of becoming a woman.”‘ Uh, yikes ok. 

So I went on accepting this as my truth. Accepting the days of sitting in class pretending I felt okay that extended well into my working years. Calling in sick makes me feel guilty because my boss or co-workers don’t always understand what I’m going through and I often think I’m letting them down.

As the years went by, sometimes I would mention it here and there to doctors and they would act nonchalant as if living with this pain and discomfort was something I could get by with.

The final straw was when my previous doctor told me I was ovulating and it would pass. When I insisted differently, she suggested we change my birth control. Not only would this wreak hormonal havoc on my body, but I also knew it wasn’t the answer. So I stood up for myself. I said no.

I kicked her to the curb and demanded she refer me elsewhere.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

So after countless dollars spent on wasted doctor’s appointments, I saw a leading physician specializing in endometriosis. She suggested I have a laparoscopic procedure because she was sure I had endo.

I was overwhelmed. After I stopped ugly crying, I realized I was relieved. Finally. Vindication. Confirmation. I am believed.

I told a select few people.

What will you do? Make sure you do it. Are you going to do it? I don’t think you’ll do it. Please do it. Have you tried yoga? Have you considered meditation? Have you tried not eating dairy? How about nutrition? Medication is bad for the body and you’re an addict. All those chemicals. You can’t take that. What are you going to take instead? Can you have babies? Are you infertile? You should have a baby. You should start having babies. Why aren’t you having babies? Are you better? We can’t wait for you to feel better —to get back to normal.

Normal is now tiredness. Exhaustion. It’s being slow. It’s feeling slow. Withdrawn. Feeling sick. I am sick. Always keeping it secret. F. Feeling small. Thinking about it. Thinking about pain. Always thinking about my body. Your body. Assessing every twinge, every tug, every pull, every ache. Waiting. Holding your breath and counting. Waiting for it to stop. To get worse. To come back again.

Two months ago today, I was first diagnosed and had a laparoscopy. My endo is so severe it caused organs to shift and tilt.

I am now faced with the harsh truth that the physical pain is paired with the emotional pain of the possibility of not being able to carry a child, my first surgery will probably not be my last and I am on a medication that has kicked my body into early menopause.

While the road ahead is difficult, I know had I not been an advocate for myself while sitting in a small cold exam room with nothing but a gown the quality of a cheap paper towel, I would still be suffering in silence.

Fortunately, I have learned the capacity of my strength and fortitude due to this disease.

If you’re a woman suffering from chronic, mystery pain that doctors are just shrugging their shoulders at, I hope you are inspired to be an advocate for yourself as well.

Ange_Sig

Coffee Break Thoughts from the Airport

IMG_0592

My job can be a little exhausting. Okay, sometimes a lot. We are a dedicated nonprofit with a small staff. I’m actually doing two jobs within the organization right now during a transition period.

Through my job, I am tasked with traveling sometimes. There are one-day trips to exhibit and then there are week-long trips for conferences. I have essentially traveled three weeks of the past month. I haven’t been home much and as I sit here in the airport waiting on a flight that won’t get me home until 11:30 tonight (then I have to drive an hour home), I think how fortunate I am to be able to travel alone.

I’m not sure if you’ve had the opportunity to travel alone, but let me tell ya… it makes for some serious self-reflection/processing time. As I walked every inch of the city of Louisville (and visited the underground speakeasy you see above) with no one but me, myself and I, I had the sweet, rare opportunity to really process where I was at and how I was doing in terms of life in general. I was challenged and reminded and affirmed of His love for me and plan for my life all at the same time.

I am exhausted and looking forward to some time at home for a long weekend before I fly out again two weeks from now. But I’m so thankful to have had that time to step away and be alone. I know the craziness of the holidays is soon upon us, but if you have the chance to carve out some alone time for yourself, whether it be a couple of hours or a whole weekend, I can’t encourage it enough! It was pretty transformative for me.

I am so overwhelmed and I am so thankful.

So here’s my question for you, friends, how are you doing, doing. Are you giving yourself the rest you need? Are you giving yourself the grace you deserve? I haven’t been.

There will be a million things telling you that you’re not doing enough or being enough or accomplishing enough. But you have one friend right here today telling you this simple truth… you already are. You Are. Enough.

If you’re like me and have a hard time believing that to be true of yourself, my challenge to you today is to pause. Give yourself the rest you don’t think you have time for because I guarantee you that you do.  There will always be a million excuses not to, but you know what I can promise? Life will go on. And you? You will be so much better off for it.

Go buy that Starbucks holiday drink and go on a walk around the prettiest neighborhood you can find. Or curl up on the couch and put on a Hallmark movie… and instead of checking your email inbox and finding other ways to do a million things at once, just watch. Light your favorite candle, put on your favorite worship song and spend thirty minutes journaling and pouring your heart out to the Lord. Replace one of the “to do list” things you feel like you have to do with something that brings you rest.

I know I know.. it goes against everything our millennial-multitasking minds tell us to do, and that’s the beauty of it.

Let’s fill this season with a bit more rest, ok?  That’s how I intend to round out the remainder of the year.

So before I step off my soapbox, let me just say one last thing. It is good to trust in the Lord. He is faithful, and He is the best author. Trust Him with your story, friend. In the valleys, remember there are so many pages you haven’t lived through yet, and remember that His love, which is so far greater than any love we’ll ever find here on this earth, will lead you through each one.

Ange_Sig

I Hope I Call You

large

 

This day holds a different gravity for all. I was in Birmingham waiting for my grandmother who was receiving chemotherapy at the time. Just a child who didn’t understand the impact of what I was watching on the television. The majority of us can recall where we were sitting when we heard.

Regardless of where we were that day, the resounding truth remains the same – in one single moment, your life may never be the same. 

What a day it is to honor those who lived and loved and fight for our freedom. My heart hurts at those still affected by the tragedies of this day. But what also hurts is the fact that sometimes, almost always, it takes a tragedy like this to remind us to cherish and enjoy every single moment. To really take in the air running through my lungs as I write this. To remind me to take a harder look at the smile lines on the face of the person I love, because it might be the last time I ever see them light up with laughter again. To cherish a kiss, to bask in the feeling as I snuggle with my nieces or to close my eyes and taste the warmth of my favorite cup of coffee.

The photo I included in this post, gets me every single time. Chills. I hope and pray Brian loved and prized Jules every second up until this moment. That the life they lived together with their family was full of nothing but precious memories for her to remember after he was gone. That they lived a life so full that it gave hope to everyone around them.

I sit back and think, am I taking even one second of my life for granted? Of course I am. We all do.

Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I love?”

If not, something has to give. It’s difficult to realize you aren’t living the best life possible. But boy, does it feel good when you take the steps to turn that around. When you take the steps to find your spark again and shine like you were meant to. It feels great when you sit back and soak in the moments and the people around you like never before because it feels like life couldn’t get any better.

Today and every day moving forward, I have to remember to make the best decisions based on my heart and what makes my cup full. I want to live my life to the fullest with the ones I treasure as long as I am here in the flesh.

Make that call. Send that text. Let them know how important they are to you.

You never know what tomorrow brings.

 

Ange_Sig

Don’t Ya Wanna Be Happy?

My Post (8).jpg

 

 

As I realize we are already almost in August, I sit back and think about the days of the past few months. Sometimes we have really amazing days, most days seem to be just okay and of course, we have those days where nothing seems to be in our favor.

I’ve had a TON of those days lately. Even when I try to proclaim the day and change my mindset, it seems I just can’t change the pattern of my days lately.

I got tired of being the same. Of things not changing. So instead of staying stuck in how I feel, I have decided to get out of the WAY for the next 6 months. To allow Jesus to move in my life and take me down the roads I need to be on.  But I know this will only truly work if deep down I WANT to be happy and joyful.

Some people are satisfied with constantly having mediocre days and be consistently pessimistic. You KNOW those people. Someone is coming to your mind right now. Once I caught on to the fact that nothing could change until I understood I had to step out of the way and allow Him to do the work.

A few things I need to remember as I embark on my next 6 months that I thought you might find helpful as well:

  1. You are NEVER too far away. Stop listening to the voice that says you’re too far gone because that is a lie. The Lord wants nothing more than for you to come running to him!
  2. Invite others in. Having a group of girls who know you and can consistently push you towards Christ is the biggest blessing and a crucial part of one’s walk.
  3. This sounds elementary and maybe old school and boring, but I’ve seen it in my own life and countless others. The main way to grow in your faith is to study the word of God daily. Not just a devotional. The actual bible. It is life-giving, transformative, and so much more than a collection of old stories you’ve grown up knowing by heart. I’m working on Without Rival by Lisa Bevere and the Unshakeable devotional currently.

 

A BIG part of this journey is remembering that every single day won’t be PEACHY. That there are days that will still get the best of me. But that’s okay. Because I will be fine in the end.

 

Ange_Sig

 

The B Word

B Word

 

As many of you know, I recently entered the world of non-profit work. I have been with this organization for two whole months now. Time goes by quickly when you’ve got work to do and lives to change.

In the communications industry, people tend to shy away from nonprofit work. They tend to only focus on the amount of work, but never the impact of our work. As a staff of four amazing women currently, the workload can be intense as we set out to improve the quality of life for all children in the state of Alabama. But at the end of every day, I know the work I put in is for the greater good — and for that very reason it is all worth it.

In the organization I work in, we try not to say the word busy. We instead are diligently working, actively engaged in our work, engrossed in the issues our children are facing or just plain HUSTLIN’.

So, for the past two months, I have been trying to shy away from the word busy. We are so caught up in this lifestyle of being busy, heck, we even make it seem glamorous. We get so busy we don’t have time for the things that matter most — loved ones, our relationship with God, self care and a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you’re a type-A overachiever. Or maybe you inevitably end up with a to-do list that won’t end. These days, just about all of us accept our busyness with combination of pride and exhaustion.

Busyness brings worry. The more I worry, the less I look at Jesus and more and more at my situation. Instead of saying “God, I have a lot on my plate right now and I could use your strength to help me get through today,” I rely on my strength. Worldly strength that tends to get me nowhere but burnt out, tired and falling asleep on my laptop in bed (who am I kidding, I do this always).

Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it’s because they know we are too busy for them. That’s crushing to the heart. We all need “waiting” time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait!” and we step back and do what is really important.

I’m here to remind you (and myself) not to get caught up in the kind of busy that edges out intentional living. Sometimes your busiest, hardest-working, least-restful periods of your life are not your most purposeful, or even most productive.

I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow Down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy.

One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and “busy” is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn’t being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it’s hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of joy. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

Ange_Sig

 

Date Night

Words are my love language. But quality time comes in at a close second. Although my boyfriend and are technically long distance, I am grateful we get to spend a good amount of time together weekly. I cherish our time together always, even if we’re just watching an old movie I’ve never seen and he’s filling me in on what’s going on.

Sometimes I enjoy something a little different than the normal however. I like date nights. They don’t always have to be to nice restaurants-but it is fun to get dressed up more than normal for the night!

He surprised me by taking me to a steakhouse we’ve been talking about going to forever. I had seen pictures of the steak and potatoes and they were drool-worthy. So we made the drive and it was absolutely worth it. Plus it gave me the chance to dress up in a few new things from my favorite local boutique, True South.

I picked up an open back sweater and a brown corduroy skirt I had been eyeing on their Instagram for a while. I paired it with these Target over the knee boots and it worked perfectly for dinner and meeting up with friends later. (Photo creds to my sweet boyfriend)

What’s your favorite date night activity?

Ange_Sig

FullSizeRender.jpgFullSizeRender.jpg-1FullSizeRender.jpg-2FullSizeRender.jpg-3FullSizeRender.jpg-4

Cold Weather Comfort Food

farmto table

It’s been unusually cold here in Alabama lately. So cold, I don’t even get that warm and fuzzy feeling from my coffee in the mornings. For a while, it didn’t even feel cold enough to wear sweaters. Now I can’t layer enough clothing to stay warm.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of weather makes me want to just stay in and cuddle up in my favorite chair with a fuzzy blanket and watch Hulu. Typically I will muster up the energy to brave the cold and go to the gym after work. There’s no better motivation to get through a good workout than knowing you have dinner waiting and ready for you at home. Y’all know what I’m talking about-using your CrockPot. 

Slow cookers are the easiest way to have dinner done when you come home after a long day. Or for mamas who are so busy chasing babies they don’t have time to cook a full meal. Or for basically anyone. If you don’t have a slow cooker, go get one now.

My go-to recipe for this time of year is a Chicken Taco Chili. I love it and it’s been a hit with many others I have made it for. Pair it with crescent rolls or garlic knots and you’ve got yourself the perfect comfort meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 16-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 2 small cans of corn kernels
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Half of one onion chopped (option)

Combine all the ingredients and seasoning (I throw in salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc… Basically whatever I’m feeling or know I like.) Place the chicken breasts on top and cover. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6. A little before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream.

It might be one of the easiest/cheapest/tastiest recipes I keep in my favorites. Plus it lasts me for days which is great for a girl on a budget!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Ange_Sig