Friday, August 30, 2013

My Diagnosis: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Warning - long post to follow...

I don't think I have ever been so happy to see a long weekend arrive as I am today.  It's been a long week.  Actually, it's been a long month.  As I mentioned in my NYC post, I received a phone call from my doctor, and the news was not great.  She gave me a preliminary diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and referred me to a Rheumatologist for further testing and a treatment plan.  The news left me reeling, to say the least, and I was very happy to have the constant company of Alli throughout the weekend.

I don't expect anyone to know what RA is - I knew very little about it until I started to research it after finding out that it was a potential explanation/diagnosis for why I have felt the way I have felt this spring/summer. To explain what it is, I am going to cite the words of Kelly, author of the site RA Warrior:  Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is "a systemic autoimmune disease which attacks primarily, but not solely, the joints. It is an incurable disease affecting the synovial tissues which surround joints and similar lining tissues of certain organs.  Through a very complex process, various kinds of immune cells attack and eventually destroy otherwise healthy tissues."

How I knew something was wrong... 

As anyone who has read this blog since April knows, I have been plagued by foot injuries, one which was diagnosed as a stress fracture, another which was diagnosed as a hairline fracture.  I accepted the first diagnosis, but the 2nd injury in my left foot just seem "off."  I had been doing very little and it just did not make sense that I would have another fracture so close to the first.

But that was only part of it.  As early as April, I had been feeling pain in some of my joints.  I dismissed it as first as my body's reaction to the amount of stress it was under due to CFA preparations, or I thought it was my body's way of adjusting to the boot.  But then the pain in my arms and hands got so bad, it was difficult to do things like put on clothes, pick up my suitcase, open jars, or take the cap off of my chap stick. I kept thinking - what is wrong with me or what have I done to cause all of this strange pain.  When I would get out of bed every morning, everything would hurt and I honestly felt like I was 80, not 32.

I saw a GP in late June as the pain in my arms was getting so bad, it was really getting hard to do day to day tasks, and she diagnosed it as a case of tendinitis and increased the dosage of the anit-inflammatory that I was on for my foot injury.  But the arm pain would not go away and eventually I had to discontinue the pilates sessions because the pain in my arms was too bad for me to do anything.  At this point I started to wonder what, if any, physical exercises I'd ever be able to do again.  While pilates is challenging, it's gentle, so if I couldn't do that, what would I ever be able to do to stay active/fit?

I think the real tell-tale sign was the swelling in various joints - the worst of which was the 3rd finger of my left hand.

This is what my hand looked like

This is what it should look like
This swelling, coupled with the 2nd fracture diagnosis, is what led me to see my doctor last week - that and the prodding of my mom who felt something was really wrong.

My diagnosis/prognosis...

I saw my rheumatologist yesterday and he confirmed the diagnosis by doing a physical examination of my joints, asking me a lot of questions, and reviewing my blood work (which showed abnormal levels for a couple of different labs).  He is very optimistic and feels we caught this early and that there is very little chance of any permanent disfigurement or deformity.  He sent me home with a bunch of literature to read so we can make a decision about how to treat this.  He recommended a drug that is actually used to treat some forms of cancer - I would just take it in a much, much lower dose so my side effect should be more tolerable than someone who is using it as a chemo-treatment for cancer.  There are a long list of side effects/risks that I know I need to take with a grain of salt, but it's still a scary decision for me.  I have talked to one person on this drug and she said it has been a miracle drug for her, so it was at least nice hearing one person's testimony in favor of this drug.

I won't bore you with the details of the appointment, but I will say that while I was happy with his thoroughness/amount of time he spent with me, I was very disappointed with his demeanor.  Maybe I expect too much when I expect a specialist to show some compassion.  I just felt like he was very dismissive of certain things and unwilling to talk at length about other things (like my multiple fractures - he did eventually acknowledge that RA may have caused some osteopenia, making me more susceptible to stress fractures.  Hopefully the bone density scan I am having next week sheds some light on this).  I have decided to get a 2nd opinion, not because I don't trust the treatment plan he is recommending, but because I need to establish care with a doctor that I feel comfortable talking to.  I am sure he sees many who have more advanced forms of this disease, so seeing someone young with an optimistic prognosis impacted the way he treated me.  But while he deals with it everything day and is probably a little bit "numb" to the brevity of the diagnosis, it's all new and overwhelming and scary for me, so an "I'm sorry you are dealing with this" or an acknowledgement that this is overwhelming would have helped.

How I am feeling...

Honestly, I feel cheated.  I feel like I have done all the right things - I exercised (prior to the fractures), I eat healthy, I don't smoke, I rarely drink.  But none of that seems to matter.

I feel scared.  I don't know how my body is going to react to the drug I ultimately choose to take.  I don't know when/if I will return to running, or how far I will be able to run  when I do return to running.

I feel like it's all too much when coupled with the other challenges I have faced this year.  I just wonder - when is the string of crappy things going to end?  I keep thinking it won't get worse, but then it does.  This year has just worn me out.  

But, I feel a little bit of a sense of relief because now I have an explanation for why I have felt so crappy all summer.  I have not told many people about the pain I have been feeling or the exhaustion I have experienced because I felt I had exhausted the patience of others when talking about all my foot issues.  I told a couple of people but mostly I would lie awake at night and wonder, "What is wrong with me?"  So having an explanation of it - and hope that the pain will go away eventually - is somewhat of a relief.  I just wish the explanation wasn't a chronic disease that I will have to manage for the rest of my life.

What I need...

People keep asking me what they can do, but since all but 2 of my close friends live far away, there isn't much I can ask for at this point besides your thoughts and prayers as I process this.  I do need friends/family to acknowledge that this is a big deal and accept that right now I can't be all "rah rah, they caught it early, everything is going to be fine."  I know eventually I will feel that way but right now, I am sort of grieving the fact that my life will be forever changed.  I am not going to give into these feelings of grief forever, but I will for awhile.

The last thing is that I need people to accept and respect decisions I make about how I go about treating this disease.  I am relying on the expert advice of specialist who live, eat, and breath RA every day.  I appreciate the research family and friends will do on my behalf and will look at things they are suggesting I do, but ultimately, I am going to rely on the advice of my Rheumatologist.  Right now, I am not open to holistic approaches to treating this disease.  I would prefer to start off with an aggressive treatment so I can get back to living a more normal, active lifestyle ASAP.  Once the disease is under control, I would be more open to seeing what the alternative treatments, but right now, I'm not there yet. 

With that, I will bring this novel of a recap to a close.  I want to emphasize that while I am pretty down/overwhelmed/frustrated, I do know I will be ok.  I have been encouraged by stories of others who are living with this disease and leading normal, active lives.  I hope that will be me soon. 

I'll close with a quote that my Aunt Betty embodied with the way she lived her life while battling cancer.  I am going to try to take a page from her book and try to adopt this approach to life as well.  Lord knows, 2013 and Charlotte have provided sufficient rain for me to dance in.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NYC: The Weekend of Awesomeness

Well here I am, finally getting around to doing a proper NYC post.  This post could also be entitled the one where I shared a ton of pictures.  So here goes.

I flew to NYC on Thurday night to visit my dear friend Alli.  This trip had been planned MANY MONTHS ago and for the longest time, it just seemed like the weekend would never come.  But looking back, I think I was meant to be in NYC this past weekend because this trip fell at a time when I really needed the company and support of a good friend - but more on that later...

On Friday morning we got a slow start (after staying up past midnight, catching up and watching Project Runway which is an obsession that Alli and I share).  After fueling with coffee (for me) and ice tea (for Alli), we headed down to the Tenement Museum.  I had read about this museum years ago so was happy to hear that Alli was also interested in it.  If you visit (or live in) New York, I HIGHLY recommend this museum if you have any interest in the early immigrants to the U.S. and their pursuit of the American Dream.  Alli and I did the Shop Owner tour, which was so worth the money spent.

After the museum, we headed over to Katz Deli which is a famous NYC deli.  Their meat is GF so I was able to eat a whole pile of pastrami.  In hindsight, Alli and I should have split something because they give you SO much meat.  This place was nuts (and probably over-priced) but it was something I wanted to experience.

From here on out, I'll let the pictures (mostly) do the talking.

After lunch, we took the subway over to Washington Square as I needed to make some phone calls and figured this would be a peaceful, quiet environment to do so.  I just think the outdoor spaces in New York are so gorgeous!
After sitting in Washington Square for awhile, we headed to the High Line, which is an elevated park built on what used to be train tracks.  It's the coolest thing ever and another MUST DO for anyone who visits New York.  We walked as much as the 'ol boot would allow and sat on a park bench for awhile, taking in the sights around us.

It was a warm day, so to quench my thirst, I got a shaved ice.  This guy literally shaved the ice in front of my very eyes, and then they added strawberry and plum flavoring.  The flavoring was so fresh and natural, you could see pieces of fruit in it.  It was delish (and the guy sharing the ice was easy on the eyes.  Ha).

After the High Line, we headed over to Chelsea Market so we could pick up some caramels that Alli has raved about - they were so good!  The shops are so cute and the building is really cool, as you can see from this picture.  We once again sat down for quite awhile so I could rest my foot.

My phone battery died towards the end of the day on Friday due to an excessive # of phone calls/texts/whatsapp messages...  so sadly you don't get to see the delicious food I got at Colicchio and Sons where we had dinner.  Sadly, I did not site Tom Colicchio himself.  I might have fainted out of excitement if I had as I ADORE him.

On Saturday morning, I met up with a college friend who lives just across Central Park from Alli.  She brought her adorable 15 month old and we had a great time catching up on the outdoor patio of a cute French Bistro.

After parting ways with Alissa, we headed over to the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn.  The views of the Manhattan skyline was stunning and the weather was perfect.

We ate lunch at Smorgasbord, which is an outdoor food festival held each Saturday.  There were so many GF choices, but I went with a coconut daal and a beet-flavored lemonade (I adore beets, this drink was so delicious).  Not pictured are the french fries that Alli and I shared.  Yum.

After stuffing ourselves sufficiently, we walked over to Brooklyn Charm where I picked out a bracelet for myself and a couple of other things for friends.  While they assembled and engraved mine and Alli's jewelry, we went to a bar next door where I had an awesome drink that had muddled peach and ginger.  I mean nothing says vacation like drinking a cocktail at 3 in the afternoon.

Voila.  The finished project.  May be hard to see, but it's engraved with the word hope.  Right now, I am dealing with some tough things and I need a physical reminder to invoke this emotion.

On Sunday, we went to brunch and then headed over to Riverside Park, which is another beautiful park not far from Alli's apartment.  We sat on the park bench for quite awhile, soaking in the sun, until I had to make my way back to the airport.

Alli was a fabulous host and planned out a weekend full of activities that a local would do, sprinkled in with some touristy stuff (because afterall, I am a tourist).  And the weather was phenomenal - 80 degrees, sunshine, blue skies, no humidity.  I soaked up lots of Vitamin D.  Great weather aside, it was great to have back-to-back weekends where I was with good friends non-stop.  My soul needs that right now.

I know this post is upbeat and positive.  How can't it be when I am talking about one of my favorite cities in the world.  New York sparkles for me and it's can't help but rub off on me when I am there.  But while this weekend was amazing, it was also a difficult weekend for me.  I received my diagnosis from my doctor on Friday, hence the reason for all the phone calls/texts/etc on Friday.  I am not ready to talk about it yet, but when I am, I will share more about it here.  I am not trying to be vague here, it's just that at this point, if I tried to talk about it here, it'd be a post full of questions, not answers.  But, it would feel weird to not acknowledge that something difficult happened this week because I am all about being real on this blog. 

When I have more answers, I'll fill you in.  Bottom line, I am going to be ok.  I mean, it's not cancer.   But I am going through a rough patch and will be for awhile, and the tears flow very freely these days, and I feel like I am in this tiny boat in the middle of a rough ocean in the midst of a storm...  but I know I have to believe that calmer waters are ahead. 

Have you been to New York?  If so, what is your favorite thing to do there?  I can't pick a favorite activity we did, it's just too hard to choose.  My favorite thing was having an awesome sidekick/New York expert to show me around!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

3 Things Thursday

Happy almost-Friday everyone!  Today is actually my Friday so woo hip!  I am only working one Friday this month actually.  Go me.

I thought I'd close out the week with a '3 things Thursday' post to share what is on my mind.

1.  I had my appointment with a GP yesterday.  She agreed that the symptoms I am having combined with the stress fractures is very abnormal for my age.  She ordered a bone density scan, which I probably won't have until next week as I need to go to a hospital, and a bunch of labs. We will see what answers the results provide.  My younger sister is a nurse and my mom was a nurse, so I sent them the list of tests being done and they seemed to think the doctor was being thorough, so I feel good about that.

2.  I'm not doing very well with living in Charlotte right now - actually, not doing well is an understatement.  For instance, dealing with medical stuff in a new city is frustrating because I don't have a PCP here (yet) and some doctors offices won't accept new patients.  When the doctor I tried to see yesterday (which was recommended by a friend) cancelled on me, I about lost it.  Luckily I was able to get in at a different practice, but it was just frustrating.  I'm tired and I don't feel great and I just have no patience for the challenges of living here right now.

3.  On a positive note, I am escaping Charlotte for the weekend and heading to NYC today to spend a long weekend with Alli.  I am so excited to spend the weekend with her!  We are going to have THE BEST time. 

What are your 3 things Thursday?  Do you have a PCP (primary care physician)?  If so, how did you find your PCP?  I think finding new doctors is one of the many challenging aspects of moving to a new city.  I just randomly found the person who is seeing me now but I think I got lucky as she seems great.  And very kind. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Here We Go Again

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, Heidi's visit was impeccable as I really needed a big hug and cheering up after my doctor's appointment on Friday morning.

So why was I at the doctor?  Well after being out of the boot for about 1-2 weeks, my "good" foot started to hurt.  At first I just brushed it off as pain from overcompensating for my weak foot.  I had taken 2 longish walks at this point, so stopped the long walks and decided to take it easy in the hopes my foot would start to feel better.  But it didn't, and it started to swell, and I was limping from the pain so I decided to go back to the podiatrist just to make sure it wasn't anything else.  I was fully expecting him to tell me it was a case of tendinitis or something.

Well, I was wrong.  He did a series of x-rays and said it looks as though I have a hairline fracture in the 3rd metatarsal of my foot.  He said he is very befuddled by what is going on and asked if I eat a healthy diet.  I eat healthy and take supplements so I don't think I am calcium deficient. He said it could have been brought on my overcompensating for my weaker foot, but that a fracture of any sort is an extreme reaction to overcompensating and very odd for someone my age.

To say I am frustrated and upset is an understatement.  I cried on the drive home so it was nice to walk into my apartment and get a big hug from Heidi.

I can't believe I am back in the boot again.  I just don't understand what I have done to deserve the God awful year I have had.  Yes, I know I passed the CFA and for that, I am happy and thankful, but this year STILL ROYALLY SUCKS.  I honestly want to go to bed and wake up on January 1, 2014.

I was not aware of the fact that podiatrists are typically not MDs, but my cousin who is a doctor pointed this out to me, so tomorrow I am going to see a doctor and try to get a bone density scan and some other tests done.  It just seems like somethings is not quite right.  I haven't felt 'right' for 4 months but I chocked it up to stress from the move, but I think it's time to make sure it's nothing more than stress.

The last thing I will say is that I do not want to hear another person tell me how unhealthy running is or how I brought this on myself by running so much.  I know many many people who have ran countless marathons, run higher mileage weeks than I do, and they have not had any injuries.  I just want to tell people that if they think running is unhealthy, they should just keep those thoughts to themselves as getting comments like that DO NOT HELP. /end rant

So we will see what this next round of doctors visits brings.  I hope it includes some answers and a clear path to health.  After 4 months away from running, I am beginning to think that I will never run again.  At this point, I would settle for being able to walk pain free.

Monday, August 19, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: Girls Weekend!

Greetings and Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  I certainly did.  One of my best friends from college visited me over the weekend, and we had the best time!  Here are some pictures of things we did/saw while she was here!

On Friday we did a day trip to Asheville, which is only 2 hours away.  I hadn't been to the Biltmore yet, so we decided to hit that up!  It is this beautiful estate that was built by the Vanderbilts in the late 1800s.  If you are ever in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend driving up to Asheville to check it out.  The admission price is steep, but worth it IMO as there is so much to see!  We did as much as we could, but I was limited on how much I could walk (more on that tomorrow) so I need to go back again to see more of the gardens and the grounds. 

Heidi and I in front of the Biltmore

The grounds were gorgeous, but unfortunately we did not get to check them out on foot

And the views were STUNNING.  I can see why the Vanderbilts selected this area to build this estate

After touring the Biltmore, we headed into Asheville.  We stopped at the Grove Park Inn, which is a gorgeous hotel with a great patio area, for a cocktail before heading into downtown Asheville. It was early evening by this point, so we got to listen to the drummers that congregate in a park on Friday nights while we waited for our table at one of my favorite restaurants in Asheville, Tupelo Honey.  This place has awesome southern food and a GREAT gluten free menu.

Heidi enjoyed the biscuit and honey that is served with every meal (well, except mine because of course biscuits are not GF).

We got back around 11 pm on Friday night so we took it easy on Saturday morning.  I made brunch for us and we headed out for manicures and a day of shopping.  I had better luck than Heidi and ended up buying 3 dresses!  I usually shop alone, so it was really nice to have Heidi along to give me input on what I should or shouldn't buy.

It rained all day on Saturday so we decided to stay in that night.  I made dinner, gave her a short driving tour of uptown Charlotte, and then we watched the first SATC movie and had popcorn and other snacks.

On Sunday, we went to mass and then went to brunch at my favorite local crepe place, Crispy Crepe.  The rain had finally cleared out so we were able to eat outdoors!

The warm beverages at this place are to die for!  I had a maple syrup latte and Heidi had a hot cider drink

After brunch I dropped Heidi off at the airport.  I was sad to see her go, but I am planning to visit her in Austin in February around our birthdays, which are just days apart.  So at least I know I will see her in about 6 months!

The timing of her trip was really impeccable.  I really needed a weekend of girl time.  I had a tough morning on Friday due to a doctor appointment that I will tell you about tomorrow, so it was nice to get a big hug from Heidi.  And lastly, while I know I will not call Charlotte home long term, it was good to be forced to look for the fun and good things Charlotte has to offer to show Heidi, and it did make me view the city in a different light at times (with the exception of the road system!  Still hating on that).

I'm just so thankful Heidi came to visit.  Having her here was like having a bright ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds that have been hanging over me for several months, both literally and figuratively.

When is the last time you had a girls weekend?  If you could plan a girls weekend in any city, where would you go?  I think a girls weekend in Charleston, Savannah, or Nashville would be really fun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guest Post: On Living Alone

Greetings and happy almost-Friday!  I'm got back from New Mexico last night. Err, actually this a.m as my flight was delayed due to weather so I landed around 1:45 am... To say I am exhausted and behind on life is an understatement...  but luckily Stephany from Stephany Writes is here with a guest post about an adventure she'll be embarking on in the future - living alone.  As someone who has lived alone for 9+ years, I can understand her apprehension but am excited for this next phase of her life.  I hope she ends up loving living alone as much as I do!

There are a lot of things I wished for myself when I was younger and I can't say I ever imagined the trajectory my life has taken over the past few years. I never imagined I would go to school for journalism and wind up in an analytical, marketing position. I never imagined I would continue to struggle with my weight and that I would sever my relationship with my father. Mostly, though, I never imagined I would be 25 and still living with my mother. 

There are many, many ways that I do feel like an adult - grown-up job, my own bills, my own car, etc. But then there's telling people that yes, I do live with my mom and it feels like I've stunted myself.

I love living with my mom. It's been me + her for the past 8 years so we understand one another's quirks and idiosyncrasies. She's my best friend so we get along, have the same interests, and generally enjoy each other's company. I lived at home when I went to college which helped me save money and pay for expenses any scholarships or loans didn't pay for. And then when I graduated from college and accepted my current position, it was just never something I wanted to do. I enjoyed living with my mom and if I did move out, I would have to get a roommate or two so it made more sense to me to just continue living with her and helping out with the bills.

A lot of people don't understand why someone in their mid-twenties would still want to live with their parent. We don't have the typical mother-daughter relationship. She's more like my best friend and my sister than a parent to me. Don't get my wrong - she's my mother first and she'll always be the one to tell me when I need an attitude check, but we are super close so when people remark how they would never, ever want to live with their parents, it just makes me grateful to have a relationship with my mom where living with her is a blessing, not a curse.

All this said, yes, I do plan on moving out soon. There are a lot of logistics involved since I can't leave when I want to, as my name is on our apartment lease and I wouldn't saddle her with the extra expenses of a two-bedroom apartment with no help from me. 

I can't deny it's a little scary, thinking of moving out and living on my own. Everything would be on my own shoulders for the first time and all the expenses would be mine alone. I would be the one setting up the electric and the cable and the Internet. I would be the one calling the maintenance department if something breaks. And I know I would get lonely, especially at the beginning as I adjust to being on my own.

But then I think about all the great things that come with living by myself. I've had so many people tell me how much they wish they could have experienced living alone when they were younger, or how awesome living alone was/is. I get to decorate my new place to my liking. I get to be alone if I want to be alone, social when I want to be social. I get a place that is mine alone, where I can engage in fun quirky "secret single behavior." And I get to feel that sense of independence and rightness that comes with moving out and being responsible for maintaining my own apartment. 

The truth is, it excites me more than it scares me. And it scared me for a long time. I felt like I was missing this inherent independent trait that everyone else around me had, and that I was destined to be that kid who never moved out of her parent's house. It wasn't about checking off a "rite of passage" at a certain moment that society deems the right time, but it was about taking my time and doing it when it felt right and good for me. 

Moral of the story here is that we have our own stories to tell. There is no reason for you to do something if you don't feel ready for it yet. Right now, you are building up to getting there. Your timeline is yours alone and nobody can tell you when the right moment is. All you can do is trust the process, be true to yourself, and ask for help if you need it.

So while it may have taken me longer than most to get to a point where I am comfortable with the idea of living on my own, I'm here. I'm ready. It's happening.
Do you or have you lived alone?  If so, did you like it or did you find it challenging?  Like I said, I have lived alone for over 9 years, and as an introvert who needs her quiet time, I actually really enjoy it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Trip Home

Well, I am back from a trip home that was supposed to be 6 days, but was stretched out to 10 day due to the passing of my aunt.  I have so much to say about my trip home, but so little time as I am actually leaving for New Mexico today for a work trip.  I get back late Wednesday and my best friend arrives on Thursday after work for a girls weekend (which I need and am so looking forward to).  So my posting will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks as I just feel SO behind in every aspect of life.

I can't do a true recap as it would turn into a small novel, so here is a bullet point list of my thoughts on being home, most of which I could expand into a full post...

- I could tell you about the great visit I had with my aunt the first Friday I was home and how good I felt she was doing (well, good for being on hospice)...  Which resulted in me being in a state of disbelief when she passed away the following day.

- I could tell you how bummed I was when I had to cancel my trip to Boston so I could attend my aunt's prayer service and funeral, but that I know I made the right decision to extend my stay so I could be there, as the prayer service and funeral gave me more of a sense of closure.

- I could tell you how great it was to be surrounded by co-workers who know me well when I found out I passed the CFA exam as they were all SO excited for me, but that it hasn't quite sunk in that that horrible exam is behind me for good.

- I could tell you how blown away I was by all the emails, phone calls, text messages, Facebook comments, and tweets I received, congratulating me on passing the exam.

- I could tell you how great it was to see my family - especially my niece and nephews.  I recieved a lot of hugs and my heart melted when my nephew/godson opened his birthday gift from me and told me the best gift was having me home.

- I could tell you about a conversation with Phil that gave us both a bit more closure and opened the door for some semblance of a friendship.  We have never been on bad terms, we just weren't in contact.

- I could tell you about a really bad day at work last Wednesday that left me questioning whether I can really last a year in Charlotte.  Many have said "you can do anything for a year," and I agree with that to some extent, but if I have many more days like the day I had last Wednesday, I honestly don't know if I can do this - live in Charlotte and work in this environment - for a year.

- I could tell you it was really hard to return to Charlotte on Saturday.  I didn't cry when my parents dropped me off because I think my body was physically unable to produce anymore tears, but I was very sad to leave the Midwest.  

The last week and a half have been an emotional roller coaster for me, and I am pretty exhausted. I am glad I have some things to look forward to, like my friend Heidi's visit and my trip to NYC later this month, though.  These planned things to look forward to are going to be my saving grace right now.

Since I'm in NM most of this week and will then be busy hosting Heidi, I won't be blogging this week, but I do have a great guest post from Stephany later this week!

I had to do the dreaded "mark all as read" in Feedly as I know I won't have time to read all the blog posts I missed when I was gone for 10 days, so please fill me in on what's going on in your life these days!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sweet, glorious relief

I got the very best news today. I found out that I passed level 3 of the CFA. To say I am relieved is an understatement. I know most in my life had full confidence that I would indeed pass, but that test is so hard, I really had no idea if I passed. I have been a ball of nerves and anxiety for the last couple of weeks. When I saw a news article this morning, stating that the pass rate dropped below 50% for the first time in 3 years, I started shaking.

When I opened the email and saw that the first word was congratulations, I cried. I quietly said, 'I passed' with tears running down my face and everyone on the trading floor clapped.

I know it is just a test, but it's a huge accomplishment that will open doors for me down the road. I think eventually I will feel a sense of happiness and pride, but right now all I feel is sweet, glorious relief. In the midst of a year that has been filled with stress, disappointment, frustration, and sadness, I needed this.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement you all have provided over the last 3 springs. It means more to have you all in my corner, cheering me on and believing in me when I didn't, than I can possibly put into words.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the start of an upswing.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of July

And just like that, we are turning the calendar to a new page today.  I'm just shy of being 1/3 of the way through my year commitment to Charlotte.  Woo hip.  July went fast, August is going to go even faster.

See also:  I FLY HOME TODAY!!!!!  Yes, ALL CAPS.  


Safe and Sound by Capital Cities - I love this song.  It has a great beat and is just a feel good kind of song. I think it speaks, in fun/upbeat way, to something we all want - someone to keep us safe and sound.

Islands by Sara Bareilles - This song is too new to have a live performance version as the album came out last month, but this is my favorite song on the album.  It's kind of a sad song, but those are the kind of songs I like best sometimes. 


It was another strong reading month for me as I read 8 books this month.  Whoa.  Clearly I am still doing A LOT of reading these days!

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - I learned so much about WWI by reading this book. While it is historical fiction, it is apparently am accurate depiction of the time leading up to the war and the war itself. I really liked all the different characters, even though it was tough to keep them straight initially. It's a lengthy book as the ebook was just shy of 800 pages, but it was worth it. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in this trilogy, which covers WWII.

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow - I really enjoyed this book - you can read my review here.

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen - This book was a light read, but the characters had enough depth to make it interesting and keep it out of what I would describe as the "chick lit" category.  It's about a 29-year old woman who makes a false move at work which sends her career to a crashing halt.  She moves back home where her fraternal twin sister (who is darn near perfect) lives, and tries to put her life back together.  She learns a lot about herself - and her sister - in the process.

My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro - This is a NYT "modern love" column turned memoir about a young couple. The husband has cystic fibrosis and it tells the story of their relationship and the challenges they faced fighting CF. It is a major tear jerker but so well written.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - This was my first Sarah Dessen book and I loved it! I had shied away from her books as sometimes YA character lack depth, but this was not the case with this book.  The main character, McLean is a senior in high school, dealing with the divorce of her parents. She moves around a lot due to her dad's job and is constantly reinventing herself. There were several passages that I bookmarked that I could completely relate to. Definitely a great read!

Carry On Warrior:  Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton - I loved this book and the message of living a live without armor - which means speaking our truth and showing people how good or not so good our lives really are.  I loved her message about life being brutal and beautiful at the same time. She has a great outlook on life and she definitely has gumption. I will eventually do a post on this book as I have too many thoughts to share in this already lengthy post.

The Last letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes - This book is set during two time periods - the 1960s and around 2003.  I really liked the story of the couple from the 1960s, but the modern day story rubbed me the wrong way.  Both couples had elements of infidelity, but I could sympathize with the couple from the past more than the modern day woman and I just couldn't relate to her plight.  But in the end, I did really enjoy the book and had a hard time putting it down.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen  - I loved the other Dessen book I read this month so much, so I decided to read another one by this author.  I am definitely officially a fan.  I just love her characters and find them easy to relate to, even if they are significantly younger than me. The main character, Macy, is dealing with the aftermath of the sudden passing of her father.  In an attempt to deal with her emotions and the situation she is in, she strives for perfection and ultimately control of everything else in her life...  She finds comfort in routines and plans, which I can relate to as that is definitely a coping skill for me. 


Well, I am still not running, obviously.  I am walking a little bit, the most I have done so far is 3 miles.  I am just being very careful as I am completely paranoid I will end up back in the boot.  I haven't felt any pain in my foot yet, but it definitely feels very weak, so I am taking it very easy.


Another month, another pair of colored pants!  I bought these mint green ones at Gap at the end of May when they were having a 40% off sale. Hopefully this is the last 'look' I'll ever have to post that includes das boot!

My posting will be sporadic over the next couple of weeks due to my travel schedule. If I find out that I passed the CFA, I will for sure post that day, so if I am radio silent on August 6th, it's bad news...  I hope the month gets off to a great start for everyone!