Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Four

Four years ago today, Boyfriend held my hand for the first time at a cute little corner cafe.

And he hasn't stopped holding it since :)


Happy anniversary, Tom. I'm so lucky you're mine.

(Photo by Danielle Rodabaugh)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That one frat party freshman year...

Four years ago, after a few weeks of innocent flirting, Boyfriend and I had our first kiss...

...at an end-of-winter-break graffiti party in AEPi's basement.

We've pretty much been inseparable ever since :)
1/23/2009
1/23/2009

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 is for opening up.

Call it the promise of a new year, the need for a place to get my thoughts and feelings out, or the urge to be as transparent as possible in this space I've created for myself, but I'm coming clean about a recent development in my life. I have Hashimoto's disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Hashimoto's disease is a disorder that affects your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck, below your Adam's apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's activities. In Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. The resulting inflammation often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United State."

Basically, Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder, which means that my body is attacking my thyroid. Over time, my thyroid (which controls a large portion of the body's systems, functions, and hormones) will become weaker and eventually "die," putting me into a permanent state of hypothyroidism.

Honestly, I think I'm still processing all of this -- trying to understand what's happening inside my body and how it makes me feel. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm not truly a healthy 22-year-old, even though I feel like I am most of the time. Mostly, I'm scared. Scared my current symptoms won't subside, scared about how I'm at risk for developing other autoimmune health problems because my immune system is already compromised, scared that I'm unknowingly doing something that's making me worse (or unknowingly not doing something that could make me better). And I'm scared about what the future holds. I want to be healthy and live a full, happy life.

The good news is that I can. Based on the reading I've done, it seems like I'm one of the lucky ones who caught it early and sought early treatment. So yes, I feel tired and cold a lot of the time. My hair is falling out, my face is broken out like I'm a gawky 15-year-old, and my joints ache like I'm 60. I occasionally have mood swings and am constantly on the lookout for other symptoms (which can take it's toll and make me feel like a Debbie Downer 24/7). But, I'm okay. Luckily, I'm not special in all of this. Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism are very common conditions. In fact, my mom has both (genetics for the win). These symptoms are all normal, and I'm on medication to treat them and control my hypothyroidism. So, I'm okay.

Just FYI, this isn't a call for sympathy. It's just an "it is what it is" kind of thing. This is a new challenge that I'm facing, but I'm doing everything necessary to make sure I stay healthy. No sob stories here :)

Sure, all of this is scary, and a little bit unfortunate, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (poor word choice?), and I've already learned a lot about myself through all of this.

Of course, there's a back story to this, including a few weeks of hyperthyroid craziness, a trip to the ER, frustrating doctor appointments, a new doctor, lots of blood work, etc., etc. I might write about all of that one day, or I might not. I haven't decided yet. But I have decided that this "disease" (still don't like the sound of that) won't be a major topic of discussion here on this little bloggy of mine. Why? Because although it's a big development (life changing?), it doesn't define me, and -- to be honest -- not much has changed except that I now have more frequent doctor appointments and take a pill every day. I don't feel great all the time, but I've felt this way for a little while now. In fact, I feel like myself, and I'm happy, which is more than I could say a few months ago when I was going through the period of hyperthyroidism. Now, I know why I feel the way I do, and that in and of itself is a good thing.

So for now, I'm trying to take better care of myself, and these efforts will continue, well, forever. I work out 5 times per week, I try to eat healthy, and I do my best to listen to my body. If I need to take a nap, I do. I pay attention to my symptoms and candidly tell my doctors what's going on. And I don't take no for an answer. From my research, I've learned that one of the biggest complaints among thyroid patients is that doctors don't listen to them or undertreat them. I'm the biggest advocate for my own health, and I'm sticking to my guns.

So really, maybe this year will be less about opening up and more about learning, experimenting, treating, accepting, and healing. So, 2013 and every year after, bring it on. I have too much big wonderful life to live to let something like this get me down.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh What Fun!

This year, Boyfriend and I had the pleasure of attending three holiday parties!

The first party, on December 7, was for my sorority's alumnae chapter. The evening started with drinks and appetizers at the president's home. We all went to 44 Stone for dinner, and then a few of us ventured to the Magic Tree for a few festive photos. It was such an enjoyable evening, and I had a blast getting to catch up with my sisters!
Photo by Heather Benson
Photo courtesy of Heather Benson
On December 15, we went to Boyfriend's company holiday party at the Boone County Fairgrounds. Now, I must preface this by saying that Boyfriend works at one of the most rapid-growing companies in the country and one of the largest companies in Columbia, so with approximately 1,800 people in attendance, the only place this party could be held was the fairgrounds. Needless to say, it was HUGE and way over the top. What am I talking about? Open bar, countless food stations (we're talking foods from all types of cuisines, hot cocoa, egg nog, candy bar, make-your-own s'mores, snack food, etc.), a hot dog stand, a Pepe's food truck, performances by the Mizzou Golden Girls and the 82nd Airborne Division, lots of prizes (including a loaded 2013 BMW and an all-expenses paid trip to Europe), an ice skating rink in the middle of the room, horse-drawn carriage rides, photos booths, and lots more. It was by far the most elaborate party I've ever been to, and you better believe we'll be attending the party every year we're able to.
On December 28, my company had our Christmas party. Based on what I'd heard from my coworkers about past parties, I knew Boyfriend and I were in for a good time, and the evening did not disappoint. The night started at my office with drinks, appetizers, and a white elephant gift exchange. Boyfriend and I ended up getting a bottle of Rumpleminze and these hilarious foot massager/washer slipper things. My coworker and I had a blast setting up a photo booth and getting props for pre-dinner photos, and everyone had fun taking goofy pictures.
The ridiculously cheesy photo booth
Dinner was served family style at Sycamore, which is one of the nicest restaurants in Columbia. Believe me, the food was delicious, and the wine was flowing. After dinner, we stopped in at On the Rocks to check the score of the Mizzou basketball game, and then we headed next door to Piano Bar to enjoy bottle service in the VIP section all night. My boss went all out for our Christmas party, and Boyfriend and I had a blast partying with my coworkers. We hit some big milestones at work this year, and this party was the perfect way to celebrate :)

I'm still waiting on some pictures from one of my coworkers, but these are the few I managed to take throughout the evening.
Boyfriend enjoying the cheesy photo booth props and free drinks at my office
It was snowing when we left at the end of the night!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review

January
rang in the new year with Boyfriend, got adjusted (kind of) to post-grad life, went to Israel on the trip of a lifetime, and celebrated three wonderful years with Boyfriend
February
got adventurous in the kitchen, celebrated (from afar) my fourth Valentine's Day with Boyfriend, enjoyed a day with my siblings, published my third blog for USA Today College, continued my lifelong record for no cavities, and tried my hand at yoga
March
went to Houston to celebrate my best friend's baby shower, cheered Boyfriend on as he started his new job, got reacquainted with Zumba, found out 22 reasons why I'm awesome, celebrated my 22nd birthday, spent a wonderful weekend in CoMo with Boyfriend (and got my first little blue box), ate some amazing (and pretty) cupcakes, completed a 5k for the Make a Wish Foundation, did my first cleanse, and signed the lease for my first apartment
April
celebrated Passover with my family, cried for joy when my best friend welcomed her little girl, went on a best friend date, spent a little time in Columbia, finally saw The Hunger Games, traveled to Kansas City to celebrate the marriage on a Phi Mu sister, left my job of a year and a half, listened to "Call Me Maybe" way too many times, purged and packed up all of my stuff, and soaked up every last minute with my family
May
said goodbye to my family, drove to Columbia with Boyfriend and all of my stuff, moved out of my parents' house and into an apartment with Boyfriend, adjusted to cohabitating life, started a new job, got comfortable in the kitchen, checked places off of my bars in Columbia list, started setting up the apartment, got some beautiful furniture (for free!), spent some time with great friends, soaked up the sun at the pool, and traveled to Dallas for a long weekend
June
witnessed my little brother graduate from high school, enjoyed time with my grandparents, continued setting up the apartment, got a big girl haircut, watched my writing get published all over the Internet, went to my first Cardinals' game with my work, road tripped to Louisville to watch Boyfriend's dad get married, spent a week on the beach in Destin with Boyfriend's family, flew to Dallas to go on vacation with my family
July
spent a week in China with my family (experienced public restrooms like I never had before, ate foods with heads on them, etc.), spent a night in Chicago, sat a few seats away from Olivia Wilde on an airplane, celebrated Boyfriend's 23rd birthday, published an article for USA Today College, learned how bad I am at skeet shooting, saw The Dark Knight Rises, went to Boyfriend's company pool party/picnic, went to Kansas City to celebrate Boyfriend's cousin's 21st birthday, spent a fun weekend with friends in Columbia, planned a big surprise
August
went to my first happy hour with work, spent a day at the lake with my coworkers, took advantage of the opportunity to be published in a book, went to my first Phi Mu Alumnae chapter event, moved to a new awesome office, hosted our first mini dinner party, volunteered at The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, enjoyed a weekend with friends in from out of town, went to the new Shakespeare's Pizza, started volunteering at the Central Missouri Humane Society, went to a new high-tech dentist and continued my lifelong record for no cavities, got my own health insurance, finally started hanging pictures in the apartment
September
said goodbye to my sweet Carterboy, raised funds for the humane society by working the Pizza Hut stand at Mizzou's first home football game of the season, spent time with Boyfriend's parents and extended family in Columbia, enjoyed a relaxing Labor Day weekend, tailgated and cheered Mizzou on during their first season in the SEC, adopted our favorite little puppy, had a meaningful date night, networked at the kick-off event for Start Up Columbia
October
welcomed Jibboom home, enjoyed having my dad and stepmom in Columbia for a weekend, smiled as my parents and Boyfriends' parents met for the first time, spent time training and loving on the pup, got a new phone and a new futon and a new TV, finally ate at Sycamore, welcomed friends to town for Mizzou's 101st Homecoming, attempted to relive my college barhopping nights, started doing Pure Barre (and won two free weeks of classes), published another article for USA Today College, volunteered at the Food Bank with my Phi Mu alumnae sisters
November
kept on doing Pure Barre, started puppy training classes with Jibboom, voted, went on a date to Bangkok Gardens, introduced Jibboom and Kaylee (Boyfriend's mom and sister's dog) in St. Louis, continued my big lie that we couldn't make it to Dallas for Thanksgiving, kept on volunteering at the Humane Society, enjoyed an evening of painting and fun with my Phi Mu sisters at The Canvas on Broadway, had an awesome night out with boyfriend that may or may not have included a karaoke rendition of "Call Me Maybe," spent a night in Kansas City with Sherbs and Justin, surprised my family in Dallas for Thanksgiving and my mom's birthday, thoroughly took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday
December
decorated the apartment for the holidays (complete with a menorah and mini Christmas tree), watched proudly as Jibboom graduated from puppy kindergarten, celebrated Jibboom's first birthday (complete with a custom birthday cake from Lizzi & Rocco's, a jumbo rope toy, and lots and lots of pictures), drove myself crazy trying to find the perfect holiday party outfits, made homemade Christmas candy, splurged on a pair of boots and then promptly sent them back (and then splurged on another), got a jump start on holiday shopping, enjoyed having my brother stay with us for a weekend, said goodbye to two friends as they moved to Florida, enjoyed dinner with some long lost Columbia favorites in St. Louis, celebrated my first Christmas ever with both sides of Boyfriend's family, went to not one not two but THREE holiday parties, almost had a heart attack because of a work catastrophe and then was confused yet pleased by the aftermath, hosted my best friend and her sweet family for a night, rang in the new year with Boyfriend and his coworkers

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” - Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year!
Here's to a wonderful 2013!
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