17 Hopes and Plans for 2017

It’s been an intensely introspective last couple of weeks with all of the challenges our family and friends have been facing, much of which has turned the upcoming year into one with more uncertainties than we’d ever hoped for. Nonetheless, it’s imprudent to face a new year without some sort of plan for things you want to achieve. In light of that, here are seventeen things I’d like to work toward this year (subject to change, of course, were I to actually get pregnant):

  1. Complete my weight loss journey
  2. Lower my cholesterol naturally
  3. Do one BIG hiking trip that we travel to do
  4. Participate in Reach the Peaks in September (a 12 mile hiking challenge that covers all 5 peaks at Hanging Rock State Park)
  5. Transition back to a mostly vegetarian diet (I’ve been struggling with this for several months now and am mostly only eating poultry and the VERY occasional fish)
  6. Change my workouts to be geared more toward hiking than running, and stay consistent with them.
  7. Find a better-paying writing gig (although I am having fun over at #AmReading)
  8. Knit more
  9. Get back to cooking
  10. PURGE the house and start fixing and upgrading things
  11. Begin pursuing the adoption process and, if that’s the way we are supposed to go, be as far along in it as possible by the end of the year.
  12. Begin cleaning some of my stuff out of Mom and Dad’s (I feel kinda guity for contributing to their clutter in addition to all of my own)
  13. Read a devotional and Scripture and pray every day (I’m currently reading Jesus Calling)
  14. Say “no” more often to things that bring me stress
  15. Read more BOOKS (currently reading: Decision Points by George W. Bush)
  16. Apologize less and work to stop feeling responsible for everyone else’s problems
  17. Stop picking my arms

Some of these will (hopefully) have to be put off until 2018, and if that happens, I will be unbelievably thrilled (and I’ll have a whole new set of goals). I also know they’re a bit nebulous and vague.  What can I say…there’s less chance of missing the mark entirely when the target is so big.

In other news, two years ago (2015), one of my resolutions was to stop biting my nails. Two years later, I think I can say I’ve officially conquered that bad habit.

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And yesterday:

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I know, my cuticles need some work.  Small victories.

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The Lupron Diaries: Final Thoughts, Goal Update, and What’s Next

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote; I’ve actually been legitimately busy.  Brace yourselves, because this may be a long one.  Since my final shot:

1. My side effects have subsided!

Thank goodness; they started to go away after about four weeks, which, from what I read, was the normal timeframe for that process to begin.  I cannot express in words how glad I am for the bone pain to be gone.  I’ve even managed to run a couple of times since with NO pain, which makes me pretty excited about fall/winter hiking and my next two 5Ks I’ve got scheduled.  My mood has improved VASTLY, although I’m not gonna lie, I sure would like to have some PMS symptoms about now so we can get back on the fertility treatment train.  But mostly, I’m just so grateful to have survived the Lupron experience and come out on the other side relatively unscathed.  I even managed a 5.3 mile hike on Labor Day in which I didn’t end up stumbling and tripping constantly.  I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable that makes hiking.

2. The weight has come back off!

I gained about 11 pounds throughout the course of the treatment.  Although I was pissed about it, I didn’t beat myself up too much because I’d largely managed to keep from eating all of the food (one of my Lupron Goals), so I figured that it would come off relatively quickly once my appetite went back to normal.  And it DID!  I’ve actually lost about 17 pounds since July 16th and am seeing numbers I haven’t seen in five years.  It hasn’t been effortless by any stretch; I’ve had to work hard and really clean up my diet, but it’s led to a completely different relationship with food and an understanding about what my body needs and how to fuel it properly (more on that in a future post).

3. I hiked Mount Mitchell!

You’ll recall that this was my most important Lupron Goal.  And I did it.  I’ll post a longer recap of the hike itself later. It was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done physically, and outside of holding the family together while my dad was in the hospital back in 2007, it was the toughest mental battle too. I had a panic attack when it started raining on us, and it took significantly longer than I thought it would, but I reached the top, bloody, dirty, and tear-stained, and I stood on the observation deck looking across what seemed like hundreds of mountains, feeling like I’d conquered the world.  I did it.

4. I’m getting paid to write!

This actually happened a little after the Lupron treatment was completed, but I’m still counting it as one of my Lupron Goals.  I’ve been writing for #AmReading for a few weeks now, and while the pay isn’t much, it’s been fun and interesting and is looking to be the launching point for landing higher-paying clients.  I’m writing about books and reading, and you can check out some of my articles here, here, here, here, here, and here!

There is a downside, though, I must be honest. I can no longer blame my grumpiness on the Lupron.  While it has improved and the little bit of patience I had has come back, I’ve always been pretty crusty and prickly, so I’ve lost my excuse.  I’ve had to replace, “sorry!  I’m just Lupron grumpy!” with “Sorry, I’m just a horrible person and you’re annoying.” So that sucks.

I can tell you, without reservation, that I do not regret my decision to go through treatment with Lupron Depot.  It was hard…probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. But I can also tell you that I’ve come out on the other side feeling better, healthier, and stronger than I have in quite some time.  And I credit a lot of that to Joey. I never would’ve made it through this without a constant source of support and unconditional love (and LOTS of patience), someone to be a caretaker and sounding board, to remind me that I could make it through this. Joey and Jesus got me through:).

This isn’t the end of the story; I promise.  There are too many things going on (both good and bad), and I want this endometriosis, infertility, weight loss, and personal growth journey out there, if nothing else than to show people that it’s possible to survive–and maybe even thrive–through tough times.

More to come!

The Lupron Diaries: Vacation and Victory

Last weekend, Joey and I took a trip to Waynesville, NC, to stay in a cabin in the woods and hike all the miles. Although the accommodations left a bit to be desired, I think this was probably the best camping trip we’ve ever had.

On Friday, we hiked the Pink Beds Loop again, but this time, we made it all the way to the waterfall off the Barnett Branch Trail.  It was WELL worth the mile of straight uphill.  The waterfall was about 25 feet high, and the water was ice cold.  Indy was thrilled to get a drink.

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Here’s a shot of Indy at our campsite.  She looks so regal.  I think I overestimated her ability to adapt to a strange situation, though.  She didn’t enjoy being trussed up on a lead, and she was afraid of the campfire.  She’ll learn, though.

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On Saturday, we went to the North Carolina Arboretum.  I’ll have to do a separate post dedicated to that, because I took a TON of pictures.  The below is part of their quilt garden; every year, they create a different pattern on individual squares. This year was a butterfly; can you see it?

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They also had a fantastic bonsai exhibit.  Joey has dabbled with bonsai here and there, so he was beyond thrilled to see all of the trees. I took pictures of each one, and it’s definitely renewed his interest in picking it back up again.

We ended up leaving on Sunday so we’d have a day to recuperate at home, but not before hiking Pinnacle Park in Sylva, NC.  While we didn’t make it all the way up to the pinnacle, we did get plenty of beautiful pictures along the way.  The below is at Split Rock, about a half mile up the trail.

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The first mile of the hike was along this creek; it was full of cascades and rapids, and Indy wanted to check out each one.

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We hiked a total of 11.5 miles over the course of three days.  It was exhilarating, but also an eye-opener.  We’ve got a lot of work left to do before Mount Mitchell at the end of July.

I’m still counting it as a victory over Lupron, though.  On previous camping trips, we would’ve spent the bulk of our time hanging around the campsite and snacking.  This time, we spent it out in nature, working out and getting excellent views along the way.  I did have a few clumsy moments, but Joey was there to grab me before I stumbled.  I had a few “Lupron sadness” moments as well, but he talked me out of those.  He’s pretty great that way:).

Hiking has been such an effective means of dealing with this journey through endometriosis and its treatment.  I’m forced to unplug while we’re out on a trail…there’s no phone reception, no chance to fiddle around on Facebook or check my Instagram feed.  I’m forced to be observant of the present moment and little else; I have to watch the ground diligently for roots and rocks.  I have to pay attention to my surroundings lest I miss a beautiful waterfall (or a bear…it goes both ways).  There’s no time to think about my dysfunctional body or whether or not we’ll ever get to have a biological child.

There’s just miles of trail.  And not dying…there’s that too.
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Hiking Recap: Pink Beds Loop Trail

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We were looking for a fairly easy hike to do because I have a 5K tomorrow (!!) and I didn’t want to wear my legs out and render myself too sore to train for that.  This was the PERFECT hike for just that situation.  The Pink Beds Loop Trail is located in the Pisgah National Forest, not too far from Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock near Brevard, NC.

I’d read the synopsis on HikeWNC.info, so I had a good idea of the environment(s) we’d be traversing.  Their site describes taking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, so we’d originally planned to do that, but we happened upon a very nice man in the parking lot (who, coincidentally, went to Wingate University, where Joey and I went and where Joey currently teaches!) who’d done the hike many times and told us that we’d want to take it clockwise to have a less strenuous trip.  I was all about that since I was worried about my legs.

We began the path (which was fairly well-blazed with orange rectangles), and walked for a short stretch through several fantastic open meadows:
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until we reached the fork that actually began the loop.  We took off to the left to begin our clockwise trip, which was clearly a good decision as a fair portion of the trail was uphill at that point (although only gently), so it was nice to get that out of the way up front.  Thick trees formed a canopy over us, and I honestly felt like I was in some kind of fairytale…just waiting to glimpse a unicorn around the next corner or something.
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We reached the Barrett Branch trail relatively quickly; it’s a shortcut that cuts across the loop in the event that you don’t want to do the entire five plus miles.  However, if you turn off to the left, you’ll have a great payoff after about a mile when you reach a beautiful waterfall.  Unfortunately, I read the online synopsis wrong and thought the waterfall was only 0.3 miles in, so we got frustrated and turned around before we reached it.  We’re going to do this one again in two weeks, so we’ll follow it all the way next time.  One complaint, though; the signage indicated that there would be blue blazes along the Barrett Branch trail, and we didn’t see ANY blazes at all; the path was well-established, so we weren’t concerned that we were getting off the trail, but it was a little irritating not to have it confirmed periodically that we were on the right track.

Back on the Pink Beds Loop, we crossed the South Fork Mills River and its tributaries many times.  One crossing required a rock hop (which was an adventure for our dog, and to our surprise, she did a great job).  The rocks were large, flat, and sturdy, so I wasn’t too concerned about making it across.
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We also had to traverse this log bridge, which thankfully had a handrail.  It was also wide and sturdy, but I was rather nervous (because of the Lupron clumsiness), so I took small steps to avoid pitching myself face-first into the stream.
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I was amazed at how clear the water was; I wish I’d dipped my hand in to see how cold it was too.  We saw several minnows and one larger fish that we thought may have been a trout.  Thankfully, Indy was more interested in drinking the water than chasing any of the fish.
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We passed through several boggy areas (but none that made the path muddy), and the trail was EXTREMELY rooty for much of the second half.  I never tripped, but I found myself having to look down a lot to make sure I wouldn’t, and that took away from getting to pay attention to the scenery.

The last mile or so was done over impressive foot bridges, which the website says were built in 2013; it almost felt like we were walking on a greenway in Charlotte with how well-made they were.  They passed over large swathes of grass and more bogs and streams, and eventually we made our way back to the fork where we began.
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Our entire hike was exactly 6.2 miles; I imagine we added another .6 or .7 by going down the Barrett Branch trail a ways, so I’d say the loop is probably 5 and a half miles or so (rather than the 5.1 that the website indicates).

I think this is the most beautiful hike we’ve ever done, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a long, yet undemanding hike.  My legs weren’t very sore the next day, and I was able to get out and train for my 5K this week without a problem.

I cannot wait to get out there and do this one again!
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