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Saying Goodbye to 2014

9 Jan

It is a new year, and frankly, I am just not sure how I feel about it. In the midst of getting dressed up for dinner and ringing in the new year with strong drinks and good friends, I found myself wishing that the ball wouldn’t drop and that 2014 wouldn’t end after counting down from 10 out loud. Sure, being held and kissed at midnight was nice. No, it was great. However, something from 2014 had a hold of me, and it was not ready for me to cross over into a new year without it…

2014 was an interesting year for me. It was a year of many valleys – an abusive relationship, a 7-day engagement, visiting an ER in another country, an 8-day hospital stay a week later, developing serum sickness from Humira, just to name a few…. (I am not sure that I want to spend much time explaining these experiences – and the reason I did not blog during 2014.)

2014 also delivered some pretty awesome moments. Ringing in my 30th birthday with my best friend in Vegas and LA, spending time in Nashville with a good friend, quitting my job, starting a new career adventure, welcoming my 3rd niece into the world, working in London, working in Canada, working in New York, going on a blind date that turned into so much more than I ever could have expected. 2014 was not all bad, but some kinda of negativity washed over me as the clock struck twelve.  While everyone around me cheered, it took all I had to hold back tears.

I can’t imagine that I am apprehensive or nervous about 2015. So far, the new year looks quite promising with Crohn’s in remission, IBD-C in a bit more of a controlled state, plans to be debt free again, and 3-4 week-long vacations in the works.  I hope that simply by admitting I wasn’t ready for 2015 to be here will dissipate whatever negativity is left floating around.  Here is to letting go for 2014 and facing the new year with a brave face and high hopes.

~Signed, a cautiously optimistic Litz

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The beginning of Fall 2013 – Season of Self-Reflection;

25 Sep

As I swap out my flip-flops and rhinestone encrusted starfish earrings for tweed chucks and lightweight scarves, I am finally ready to admit that fall is here!! And with the change of season, comes the inevitable kick-off to my season of self-reflection…;

Change.  The concept has recently been weighing on me, and today, I finally found the words to say what has been on my mind.  Change is always upon us, around us, within us.  Some changes we have asked for.  Some changes are welcomed and exciting.  New beginnings.  Some change comes as a pleasant surprise, allowing us to embrace it easily.  While other change is difficult, painful, unavoidable.  Change can be scary to those of us who are type-A people, who haven’t planned for it and are not ready for it.  Regardless of the type of change we are facing today, tomorrow or have faced yesterday we can learn from it;

As fall opens up to us, I open my heart and soul for inspection.  “What have I been through over the last year” usually turns into “what have I been through over my life time”.   This year is no different.  So here I am, staring down the barrel of my life’s events, good, bad and indifferent.  And I am seeing a lot of twists and turns over the journey so far…;

I realize that not all responsibility for change rests on my shoulders.  I also realize that a great deal of growing, learning and reflection has ultimately happened due to the changes in my life.  While we may be painfully falling down in the trenches of life, I have realized that there is always an opportunity to learn from it.  I have also realized that sometimes we are merely an instrument in a life lesson – sometimes our own, sometimes in someone else’s.  I am pleased as I reflect on the last year of my life (with the other 28 years in shadow) and can say that I have been learning and growing along my journey and through the stories of others;

I am not done with my season of reflection; this is only the beginning and the leaves have yet to fall..;

SuperWoman – Apparently a bad thing.

30 Nov

Well – It finally happened… My luck ran out and the true power of my illness was spotlighted this Thanksgiving Holiday as I was admitted to the hospital on Friday, November 23rd.  After battling an attack for three weeks, I finally gave in and called my (amazing) doctor’s cell phone who sent me packing for the ER and a hospital admittance… I had no idea what was about to hit me, and I am not sure I will be as willing to go the next time if I have a repeat adventure because of it…

The illness bit abridged for anyone wondering: My Crohns has spread to a completely new area.  By the time I sought medical help, the inflammation was too sever for pill-form medications.  After ten days of pills, it became event that I was not absorbing them, so IV medications were necessary to get the attack in check.  I had an IV for from Friday night until Tuesday evening to pump in everything from steroids and two antibiotics to muscle relaxers and pain relievers.  I also went through 5 or 6 large IVs – I lost count.  There were CT scans, EKGs and portable X-rays (everything in my own private room except for the CT).  It was also my first CT scan in years without throwing up – thank you to the anti-nausea meds right before!  I lost roughly 10 lbs, when I should have gained 8-10 lbs in that time on pill steroids – you do the math.  Let’s just chalk this up to hard time.  Also thrown in there, some good old-fashioned, character-building family drama – but I’m not about to touch on that one yet.

Turns out that my SuperWoman Cape can hurt me.  Damn do I hate it when I’m wrong, and I sure found this one out the hard way.  Turns out, my attack wasn’t just stress as I had originally thought.  Unbeknownst to me, my body was actually trying to tell me to slow the heck down – that it was in some serious state of shock.  Nah, I just kept on pushing from one thing to the next.  Truth be told, I don’t really regret it either.  Blame it on my age, my immaturity, my lack of concern for myself – I don’t care.  I was living my life like a “normal” 28 year old.  I was rocking it out at my job, I was making a home for myself, I surrounded myself with amazing friends, and I was finally meeting new people again!  I was loving to dress up again, putting on make up, high heals, and accessorizing myself like the woman I was again, the woman I have always been.  I actually was ENJOYING MY LIFE, shame on me!

Now, I am on doctors orders to relax only and get my stress in check – and I’m about to figure out how to do that – or at least start trying.  Since I’ve been released from the hospital, it has been a serious challenge (I didn’t realize how many panic attacks can occur in one afternoon for fear I am missing something).  This is almost torture now, but I am starting to slow down a bit and think about myself first.  This is something I don’t think I’ve ever learned how to do, kinda funny when you think about it actually.  How can I be “well-rounded” if I never come down from high stress levels?

I am currently listening to soothing music, after a bubble bath, sitting at my kitchen counter (I think I’ve only sat here twice since closing in April, and certainly never alone!)  It is kinda nice to be completely unplugged from work, have the TV off and a candle lit – though my thoughts are a little suffocating at the moment.  I’m sure that will calm down soon.

Step one: Stop living in the corner office of my home.  Yes, working from home is amazing – but no more negating the living aspect at home too!

Hear me when I say this – I do NOT regret that I was living my life.  However, through this humbling experience, I did learn that I need to make some adjustments to HOW I was living my life.  Ok – so, that’s admittedly as far as I’ve come.  But progress is progress right? I will take baby-steps today, especially after the week I’ve just had.

And no, the experience wasn’t all bad.  Even though I am admittedly very angry with the big man in the sky, I do recognize the blessings He has bestowed on me.  I am humbled by the support team I have and I would be doing a great disservice if I didn’t list off my THANK YOU LIST:

NOTE: YOU MAY NOT READ INTO THE ORDER OF THIS LIST, YOU MAY NOT GET OFFENDED IF YOU ARE NOT LISTED BY NAME, THERE IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE ON THIS LIST. IF I SERIOUSLY MISSED YOU – JUST YELL AT ME & GET IT OVER WITH 🙂

Angela – For being my rock – plain and simple. Oh yea, and… The ride to the ER, sitting in the ER instead of bedtime with your baby, for driving to my house countless times to pick things up for me and bring to the hospital  walking the dog/feeding the cats/getting the mail.  For never letting me completely fall.  For marrying the most amazing man who supports me too and keeps me laughing.  Oh yea, and putting up my Christmas Tree, building my craft desk, SmashBooks and Ikea trips!  Ok, I’ll stop before I make you cry, too.

Sethiya and Slawek – For taking my dog in for a week like he was your own, and loving on him as I would.  The pictures and video have been amazing.  I can’t wait to get my hands on him again, but you have saved me – there is no way I could have walked him yet.

Matt, Mark, Kellie, Andrea, Maddie and Hannah – For your countless support over the phone calls, text messages, gmail chats, facebook posts, flowers and books (since I can’t send Amazon shipments to my own address like a total blonde).  I could never get through a day without any of you.

Greg – For the multiple hospital visits, trashy magazines, movies on loan and soduko book.  I can’t wait to be back at the bar! And messages delivered by Greg from  Tyler and Los.

Maytanee – For visiting me in the hospital with bag in hand – magazines, novel and Christmas tree decorations and that amazing smile of yours.

My management staff, co-workers, and business unit – For the more than generous gift for food delivery over the next few weeks so I can stay out of the kitchen if needed, flowers and balloon! To Felix, Phil and Sean for visits to the hospital and at home.  For encouraging me not to work and focus on my health (seriously, how did I get so lucky?).  To Sean for driving me home from the hospital and all over Northern Virginia to find a pharmacy that stocked my Rx.  To Kippy and Stephen for the flowers.

Diane – For being there for me, after all these years, with words of encouragement that resonate through me like a stone in a still pond. I need not say a word more.

“Sykes Sisters” (even though you aren’t both Sykes anymore) – For the ongoing Crohn’s advice and support.  For the beautiful plant that will live in my home office every day.

Sean and Sara – For visiting me in the hospital, making me feel normal, the treat for crafting and the Christmas movie on loan!

Wilson – for visiting at the hospital – loved our random catch up sess!

Melissa, Arek and Ella – For the amazing Polish soup – it was the first thing I was able to eat!

HollyBerry, Megan, Stacie, Colby, Jenny T, Jenny C, Los, Alex – For your constant text messages that kept me going

Mike – For the Crohn’s advice.

Joel and John – For being my “Dad’s” and keeping me focused on whats important nearly daily (outside of this).

Cieran – For being a rock across the pond – no really.  For staying with me on Facebook in Scotland nearly 24/7.  Who knew a IT support call at Axios could lead to such a dear friendship.  This friendship is going no where!

Valko – For your heartfelt call and countless “bless their hearts” that make me grin.  I love you like a sister!

To everyone who stayed with me on Facebook, G-Chat and random text messages – I have been so blessed by each and every one of you – and I don’t want to name you all for fear I will miss someone and hurt your feelings.  You kept me going and I count each of you in my blessings.

And to one more – thank you for walking through my hospital door Monday morning, the calls, the messages, for making me smile and taking care of me when you could.  Please be safe.

Riding the Roller Coaster – Day 2

9 Nov

Today’s passage assimilated life to a roller coaster – not a unique analogy by any stretch.  However, what did strike me as noteworthy was the detail around the roller coaster’s wheels engaging with the metal tracks to keep the cars on the ride.  Ultimately, when going around a sharp curve the car tips over, leaving half of the wheel to lift off the track.  Its remaining wheels engage, usually with a show of sparks, to keep the passengers on board for another dip in the road, or another hairpin turn.  The passengers, never having realized the risk they just faced, simply coast through the danger in search of the next thrill with hands in the air.  

This made me stop and think about my life – ultimately realizing that I am no longer the thrill seeker in my own world.  I am the nervous passenger noticing my wheels off the track – focused on and heavily inspecting the risks and potential consequences.  I’ve realized that I no longer take big risks in any aspect of my life; it appears that I am approaching my life with a guarded heart and even head today.  These risks become giants that paralyze me with fear.

This is going to change – and its going to change now.  I could recite a plethora of reasons for having a protected attitude towards life, but the purpose of this challenge is to let go of that, face my giants head up – and live like there’s no tomorrow.    So, here goes.  I’m going to break free of the Someday Syndrome – I am eliminating the idea of “getting around to it” or “doing it someday”.  From today on, I’m going to start putting myself out there again – at work, with friends, and in love.

My biggest regret is waiting on living my life for the perfect moment.  Waiting on the perfect opportunity at work, waiting for the right social situations, waiting for Mr. Right to find me.  What in the world have I been waiting for?  I’m getting myself in the right mindset for what’s to come, what I’m going to do myself, what I’m going to continue to build for myself.  The mindset to be fully engaged in life – live in the moment – live the life I had imagined.

As a visual person, I think that “living in the moment” and “being engaged in life” would feel a lot like what dancing would feel like.  Painful like teaching your body to move, bend and stretch in unnatural ways.  Painful life bruising, blistering and breaking your feet.  Peaceful like gliding through the motions in sync with the music.  Freeing to express yourself through the image of words.  Beautiful to wear the costumes of a ballerina.  So to keep me going, my “roller coaster” will be learning to dance again.  I doubt I’ll learn to dance again within 30-days given medical complications… but my goal at the end of these 30-days is to feel as engaged in life as I did when I was dancing.

 

Image

 

Living the Dash – My 30-day challenge, beyond the list.

7 Nov

Alright, I’m just going to throw it out there.  As nice as it is to see my friends post what they are thankful for everyday throughout the month of November, I don’t think I fully understand it.  At the end of the month you have a list of things you are thankful for – but then what?  Do you look at your life diffidently, have you made a difference in how you approach your life?  Maybe that isn’t the purpose – or maybe some of you find hope, peace or a sense of happiness by building this list.  Don’t get me wrong – I see nothing wrong with having a concise list of what you are thankful for, but I just don’t think this will work for me.  

This November/December I am finally going to face the challenge put out there by Kerry & Chris Shook via their book, One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life.  Below are a few experts from the book that will bring you up to speed.  I am unsure of what the challenge will bring – but I plan on blogging my way through it.  If anyone is up for coming along with me for the challenge, please let me know.  Discussion is welcomed.

“Why can’t all of us live more like we’re dying? Isn’t that how we were meant to live in the first place?  To discover what we’ve made for and to utilize our unique gifts in the limited time we’re given?…. If we all lived as if we had one month left on this earth, we would spend our days differently, in ways unique to us, and yet I believe we would all experience more fulfilling lives that could leave a legacy for eternity.”

“Lives are reduced to two dates and one little dash… It comes down to what’s in the dash.  What did he life for?  Whom did she love?  What were his passions?  What were her biggest mistakes and greatest regrets?… Are you living the dash, knowing fully who are are and why you’re here? Or are you dashing to live, hurriedly spending precious time chasing things that don’t matter to you?”

“You don’t have to wait for a crisis to consider how you can experiences life to the fullest.”

I am looking forward to the journey that is about to unfold before me – welcome to my ride.

Live like there is no midnight…

26 Sep

Cinderella gave the world some amazing advice through the powers of good ol’ Walter Elias Disney, to live like there was no midnight.  As a little girl, Cinderella was just a pretty pretty princess… but today, I reflect on the strength that Walt’s dynasty meaningfully bestowed in our nations youth and all that the glass slipper stood for.  Looking at myself from ten thousand feet above, I challenge myself to reflect on my own life.  Am I meeting each day with the strength necessary to live the life I had imagined?  I am I living the life I want?  Am I living my life to its fullest?   Am I living like there’s no midnight?

Probably not.

I’d like to think that I’ve had this attitude throughout my life – and the genuine answer is that I have.  I have risen up to many occasions and tackled countless obstacles.  I have scars emotionally and physically to prove it, and I have grown in ways I could never have expected.  But the reality of the situation is that  I’m just not there yet, and I find myself teetering on the edge because of this.  Am I embarrassed to not have it all together at 28?  Surely, that can’t be it… Am I really expected to have it all figured out already?  Seriously, why does life not come with a carefully planned out manual – detailing out the how, where and when to insert yourself into various life situations and how to know its done correctly.

Sure, I have accomplished a lot – over the years, over the past year, and over the last few months.  I’ve bought a house, paid off my debt (did I mention the car will be paid off this Friday?), tackled some serious turns in my chronic illness, called off a marriage that wasn’t right and bounced back from the relationship that I was sure was it.   But am I accomplishing much in “life”?   Does any of this get me closer to being fulfilled when the clock strikes midnight?  With the exception of buying my house, my answer is an embarrassing no.  Sounds like a lot of searching to be done…

When I named this blog years ago, I hadn’t then realized what an ongoing evolution Finding Litz could be.  I mean, come on, how hard is it to look in the mirror and find yourself?  Apparently, it takes more than 28 years of practice.  Thank you, Cinderella, for teaching me to give myself more credit than I do.  I will make sure my nieces know you too.

(Though, let’s be honest here and give credit where credit is due.  Walt Disney may have popularized the story of Cinderella – ’twas truly a Greek folk tale and her name was originally Rhodopis first formal documentation known in1st Century BC.  I opted for the widely popularized version – which was truly inspired by the release of Disney’s Cinderella on Blue-Ray next week….)

FairyTales… Without happy endings?

3 Mar

My favorite part about growing up was tying on my tap shoes and lacing up my toe shoes.  No matter where I was, the dance studio, our high school’s stage, my home studio or one of the many stages I competed on, I was able to visit a world full of dreams and hopes.  A world unlike the one of reality.  A world that melted away the pain of the day – both physical and emotional.  I was able to temporarily transform my reality to a creative and peaceful world.  This freedom from the pain is also what I miss most about my childhood and my young adult years.  Today, my joints, bones and muscles ache too much to withstand a long walk — I’m beginning to think my dancing days are officially over for good.

Today, I look back on my life with anger and the hopeless feeling of being defeated.  In high school, I remember explaining to my friends that I understood my family’s turmoil.  That I just wasn’t one of those people who was blessed with an easy childhood.  I explained that I thought everyone, at the end of their lives, would have all gone through the same amount of pain.  I was just going through my pain early in life so that I could be blessed with an easier and happier adulthood.  I honestly believed that…. And I still, up until today, believed that, with everything I had. 

This week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  This week I finally reached the “ENOUGH” phase; and it made me think back on the trust I held in karma.  My trust that things, someday, would get easier.  What a joke.  They say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  And “God only gives you what you can handle.”  Honestly, I’d like to know why God hates me so much.  What did I do to piss off some greater being out there?  What did I do to deserve all this? 

Yes – this is a very different outlook than my last post…. And I understand how out of character this stance is for me.  But enough is seriously enough today.  I hope I wake up tomorrow and can find the silver lining in all this again.  I hope I wake up tomorrow and want to face the day – anxious to see what the day has in store for me.  I hope this denial of the reality of my life goes away – or gets easier to cope with.  Because today, it sucks.  There is no other way to put it.  I think the positive outlook on life is a crock of bullshit.  What can possibly be good about an illness without a cure?  An illness that strips me of my independence and threatens to strip me on what makes me “me”.  It sure doesn’t look like things are about to get any easier, especially when what is supposed to be my “miracle drug” is making me so sick I have nothing left but to vomit stomach bile, makes me lose 75% of my vision for days at a time and makes it too painful to even take the dog for a walk everyday…

Seriously, what did I do to piss off the big guy in sky?

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