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Friday, December 5, 2014


Something Borrowed, Quotes
Quotes, Tiny Bits of Truth, Oprah Winfrey
Tiny Bits of Truth, Sunsets, Oprah


*This post originally appeared on Tiny Bits from Boo on April 18, 2014, and is reposted today due to problems updating the blog resulting in the deletion of the original post.*
What are you afraid of?
Last spring, I started a journal and began each day with the question "What am I afraid of?"  After reading Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and Daring Greatly, I got to thinking about the role of fear in my own life.  I recognized an irrepressible gut feeling that the fear of something in my life was holding me back.  I searched high and low; reaching an unimaginable level of self-awareness, and then, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  My fear is my illness.  I unknowingly defined my paralyzing fears years ago, and cautiously lived within those self-imposed limitations.  Thirteen years later, I finally have the courage to talk openly about my experience, no longer ashamed or afraid of what people will think if they know I'm different.  
Brene Brown, Inspiration
I'm starting this Good Friday off with a deeply personal post years in the making.  I hope by putting my personal story out there that even just one person going through a similar illness, personal struggle, or challenging season of life reads this and is inspired to persevere and keep moving forward.  Honestly, life is hard, even on the best of days, it can be brutal, and it helps to know we are not alone on this journey.  I've found strength on the darkest of days from those who share their own stories and struggles online; the courageous ones who expose their imperfections and vulnerabilities, and in doing so, inspire others, like myself, to practice authenticity in our own lives. 


Truth is we all have scars, and while we try to disguise and alter them, scars are integral in our life story.  Scars reminds us where we have been, what we have overcome, and often times, serve as the catalyst propelling us to truly embrace every moment of life.  For the past thirteen years, I've been ashamed and insecure of my visible scars.  I wasted countless hours worrying what others would think when they caught a glance of my scars, and feeling anything but confident when answering the inevitable question, "Wow, what happened to you?"  

I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me back up and share my story.  I've never written this out for anyone, so bear with me.

i was 15.
active, healthy, and enjoying my favorite month, december. 
until the fever started. 
i refused to see a doctor thinking i had the common flu.
it was high school, and holiday parties were in full swing.
after a few days with zero improvement, my dad took me to get a chest x-ray.
i called a friend to have her bring a movie for us to watch that night in the
hospital, wishful thinking.
sudden illness engulfing my body, causing me to crash,
and be placed on a respirator for a life threatening pneumonia.
and then...nothing.
for the next three weeks.
i was in a medically induced coma, and remember nothing.

christmas. my 16th birthday. new year's eve 1999. new year's day 2000 (Y2K anyone?)
not a single memory.
i had pneumococcal pneumonia and later developed ARDS
i woke up to chest tubes. a tracheostomy. central line. pressure ulcers.
but most important. my family.
thoughtful friends. cards. prayers. an outpouring of love and support from all.
what next? 
weeks of pulmonary rehab. rebuilding the muscles to walk, eat, shower, live. 
more than a year of surgeries to close a hole in my leg resulting from the ulcer.
(they now make rotating hospital beds to prevent these types of ulcers thankfully!)
surgeries to hide the tracheostomy scar and the scar on my nose from being intubated.
but, most importantly, the ability to put one foot in front of the other and literally
move forward. because
at 16 years old, i had places to go and people to see-
cheerleading, date parties, prom, and homecoming.
simply put- i was a warrior. giving up was not an option.
the hard work and determination paid off,  and with time,
i got better.

i ran two marathons to push myself further than i thought possible.
struggling to erase the memories of my illness out of my head and prove my resilience.
until the inevitable roadblocks appeared.
minor health issues sporadically reared their ugly head during college. 
eerie reminders of the illness that i tried desperately to forget. 
until finally, i hit my brick wall last spring.
i crumbled. quite literally.
i bent down to pick up a box of magazines, and with one loud pop, and several MRI's later, 
i herniated a disc in my back strangling the sciatic nerve resulting in a foot drop.

i was devastated. wallowing in self-pity for longer than i'm proud to admit.
for the first time, i let the illness win. i surrendered and let it consume every ounce of me.
tired. angry. disappointed. overwhelmed. and in need of a long run more than i
needed air to breathe, i gave up.
for the first time in my life, i just gave up on life.
thankfully, in large part due to my family and their continuous support,
with time, months of rehab, a cortisone injection, 
and a hell of a lot of determination, 
i got better, and continue to improve every single day. 
i'm not walking in my high heels again just yet, but these things take time. 
and sometimes you just have to give time time.

when you hit rock bottom, wondering why you are going through yet
another bump in the road, and find yourself asking,
"why me? i've had my share of health problems, isn't it someone else's turn? this is unfair. i don't think God is listening to my prayers. how did i end up in this situation?"
all of which i've questioned over the past year,
when you hit that wall,
i can tell you what i know for sure-
take a step back. literally. take a walk. go outside. for one second.
and then be thankful for the opportunity to be alive.
life is much too short for long pity parties.

Scars are the badges of a survivor's life.  They represent my past, present, and future.  I recently heard Hoda Kotb talk about the two events that convinced her to speak publicly about her experience with breast cancer.  The first was meeting a stranger on a plane who told her, "Don't hog your journey. Share your journey with others, and you're a power of example. Think of what you're able to accomplish." He went on to tell Hoda, "Breast cancer is part of you.  It's like going to college or getting married or working at NBC."  These profound words were the push I needed to finally press publish on this post.  It was life changing to reframe my illness and think of it as a part of me rather than allowing it to define me.

Something else to think about.
If you were told you only had X number of months to live, would it finally give you the permission to live the life you've always dreamed about? Does knowing your expiration date allow you and others to accept your decisions because they know you only have a few short months left to live? In my experience, the answer is YES.  Most of us sit back and say one day, if only, wouldn't that be nice, and then put our heads down and go about our lives, in awe of those who are brave enough to carve their own path. Yet, the reality is we are all living on borrowed time.  We all have an expiration date.  So why are you not living the life you've always dreamed about now, this very moment? 
Breńe Brown took the phrase for her book Daring Greatly from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena".Brene Brown, The Man in the Arena
One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to determine what's keeping us out of the arena. 
This weekend, I challenge you to think about the following questions: What do you fear? Why do you want to be brave? 


Tiny Bits from Boo, Geek Chic Gift Guide

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


2014, Christmas, Gift Guide
It's the most wonderful time of year... and I couldn't let this holiday season fly by without sharing a few of my favorite things this month.  For those of you still looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list, be sure to check back later this week for a few more holiday gift guides and a few more exciting changes happening over here on Tiny Bits from Boo! 

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