New decade, stronger heart, better teeth and maybe a cleansed liver…guess we will see.

I spent the last decade battling heart disease. Seriously, in 2010 everything started to go haywire. In the last 10 years, I have had 5 out of my 8 heart surgeries. I have spent (my whole life) but all of my twenties worrying about my heart. I’ve lived in fear, with anxiety and stress. I’ve battled serious depression. Don’t get me wrong, I had good years. Years where everything seemed to be fixed and okay. But, then I had years when I had major surgeries within a few weeks of one another. The past 10 years has been one HELL of a journey. You learn so much about yourself when you fear death. With every surgery and every dose of anesthesia I would silently beg myself to wake up. My only want was to be strong enough to endure what was being done and to wake up in that recovery room. The pain afterward didn’t matter. The life long limitations didn’t either and it’s because of that word LIFE. All I wanted from this decade was to make it out alive.

I am happy to announce that I have made it out of the 2010s and with a new lease on life. I spent time in the hospital last week and spent the whole month of December trying new medications. We have FINALLY found a combination that is seemingly working. I feel genuinely better. I feel good about it. I didn’t want to take medication for the rest of my days, but if that’s what it takes then that’s what I will do. So this decade and new year will not be about that whole “new year new me” crap. I’ve found that my resolutions come at all times and working to better yourself daily is far better than any false promises for a few weeks in January. This decade and new year will be about no longer living with the fear of not waking up. I got too close to it a couple of times and I never want to do that again. This decade I will get to focus on really living my life instead of silently fighting for it.

I write this as I take my morning dose of medication. I have to smile about it all because 10 years ago I would never have thought I would’ve gone through everything I did. And at one point I thought taking medication indefinitely was the worst thing that could happen. I’d say cheers to a decade of no heart surgeries but I will not make any promises because problems can always arise. Plus I have to have my pacemaker batteries changed in the next two years. But, here is to a decade of not living in fear. And to actually wearing my Invisalign for the next two months so I can have the smile I want this decade. I really have got to get better about remembering to wear those. Also, are we bringing back the roaring twenties? Because if so I picked the wrong decade to start out with dry January…

Happy New Year from my partner in crime and myself 🎉

Mental health…

I’ve been in my own world lately. A world filled with doctors visits, medical testing, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. I’ve been working extremely hard at not letting myself spiral down a deep dark hole of depression. When I say working extremely hard I mean doing everything humanly possible to keep myself from completely shutting everyone out and becoming 300 pounds while binge watching everything I can stream on my TV. I haven’t been the most hands on version of myself when it comes to my relationships. I have not been the most attentive friend, sister, daughter or granddaughter. The balance between keeping myself from being consumed by my anxiety and being present is a tiresome battle.

For the last several months I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Nashville and Pensacola to see doctor after doctor. Trying to find some rhyme or reason to why my heart and oxygen seem to do whatever they want. For 13 months I’ve been dealing with trying to get a handle on my tachycardia and all that comes with it. I have requested referrals to see specialist. I have tirelessly fought to find a solution. Recently I discovered my oxygen levels like to dip down a little too low. Hence my recent photos with a nasal cannula or an oxygen pack strapped across me. Also you can notice my increasingly dark circles under my eyes. All of this has been consuming. Wholly consuming. Mind, body and soul. It’s taken EVERYTHING in me to maintain my sense of humor and to keep my head above water.

To all of you I keep sending photos like this to…you are welcome!

I constantly feel like I’m treading water. I have days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have days when making my bed is my biggest accomplishment. Most nights I toss and turn, stare at the ceiling, and mull over every possible scenario that the doctors could throw at me. I’ll be in a room of people and not be present. I get lost in my thoughts at times while having a conversation with someone I won’t have heard a word they said. I get tired of talking about it and feel like everyone is tired of hearing about it all. Mainly because I never have answers. I keep having to ask off of work for appointment after appointment. I’m afraid to ask off for a mental health day and I’m needing those more increasingly. Even when I am at work it’s hard to stay on task, my mind is always elsewhere.

For those of you that follow me on social media and see all of my self care posts it’s because I am struggling. It’s because I need to be reminded that depression and anxiety are normal. That I need to be told from time to time that it’s perfectly okay to not be okay. So I post it to remind myself and because I know that someone else might need to be reminded that they’re not the only one going through it.

Last time I wrote I had just been called a “ticking time bomb” by a doctor. I then waited days to hear from a team of doctors that they all agreed. That I was too complex of a case for them. I was consumed with anger and frustration. My mood has since turned into one of worry, fear, and doubt. My weight is fluctuating. I’m stressing so much my skin is breaking out. Some days I stare into the mirror and think, “what if this doctor can not do anything? What if I have only two extreme options? One that results in more side effects and ailments. Or one that could result in paralysis and relying solely on a battery to make my heart function?” What do I do then? Do I risk the extreme? Do I continue to fight and be “brave” or do I let go? Give up and live life like I am in fact a time bomb?” Do I do that whole “live life to the fullest” thing that we all say we will do? Live with no regrets. Stop waiting for my life to happen after I get well and just accept that at any moment my heart could stop beating. That my defibrillator could go off and revive me until one day it can’t. Do I risk it and fight or do I live my life until I succumb to ventricular fibrillation? Hence my aloofness as of late.

These questions are debilitating. They weigh heavy on my mind, my soul and my physical body. My sisters recently joked about why I take such long showers. They said I was contemplating life in the shower and well, they are right. I get lost in the hot water and steam. I imagine scenario after scenario and how I will handle them. But now I am doing that all the time not just in the shower. I’m fighting for answers and fighting depression. I constantly get told by friends and acquaintances how they admire my strength and grit. But I feel like such a fraud when complemented by them because I feel anything but strong. I put up a great facade of humor and strength, but I’m struggling to not cry constantly. Every time someone asks about my appointments, asks how I am doing, or every time a stranger stares at me toting around my oxygen. I needed to break my facade and show everyone that I am indeed struggling. I am fighting for my life right now. A life I want to live and I live that I have been greatly blessed in. I have a very dysfunctional family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They’re my biggest support system and despite not always seeing eye to eye, they have NEVER let me be alone in anything I do. I’ve also managed to be blessed on the friend front. I have somehow managed to find some of the most amazing individuals who support and understand me. They check on me regularly and love me endlessly. I haven’t been the best or greatest friend lately and ultimately I know everyone will understand and accept it. Depression and anxiety are a hell of a beast.

The whole purpose of this post is to let others know that the taboo of discussing your depression and anxiety is not okay. Tell someone what you’re going through. Don’t put up a facade. I can not reiterate enough that it is OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY!!! Go to counseling and don’t be ashamed of it. When someone asks “are you okay” say no. This post was not for attention but for help. I want my words and my story to be read by someone who also has days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. I want them to know that being open and honest about struggling is perfectly normal. I want my story and my words to help. I want people to know what I am actually feeling and going through. That social norms and expectations set by society and social media are not how we have to live life. That it’s okay to feel sad and to try to get help for that. That by taking care of yourself you will let others down and you don’t owe anyone an explanation when that happens. For those of you that sometimes feel like giving up, don’t. Keep pushing. Keep trying. Find your meaning. Your soul satisfying moments and relish those. Keep fighting that deep dark spiral that is depression even when you feel like you can’t. Take mental health days and don’t feel guilty. Cry in the shower or on the bathroom floor. Feel it and learn to let it go. Continue to move forward even if it’s at the pace of the tortoise not the hare.

June…

Well, here it is, my month, the month of June. At the beginning of the year I had set goals for each month, some of which I achieved and some I fell short of, but June’s goal was a month of me. A month of self-care and being selfish. I thought it was a perfect fit for my birth month and now that it has arrived I realize I need it more than ever.

The last few weeks, months, I’ve been busy. If and when I have had downtime I find myself overthinking and over-committing. I have managed to keep my schedule full and my focus on myself at a minimum. I have got to remember that being busy is not a personality trait and it is not how I want someone to describe me. I don’t want to keep myself constantly going and not enjoy the little things. I don’t want to give someone the wrong impression of myself because I am too busy. I have got to stop neglecting myself. My wants and my needs. I need to slow down. I always get caught up in whatever is going on around me and silence the voice in my head telling me to calm the f down!

As of late when I do have downtime I keep finding myself mindlessly scrolling through social media. This is such a negative way to spend my time. I find myself comparing myself to my peers and getting stressed. I should be doing things that promote my mental health, my well being, and myself rather than stress me out and cause me to over analyze things. So, starting today, I am removing all my social media apps from my phone. Well, it’s only Facebook and Instagram, but they’re being silenced for a while. Not having them at my fingertips will hopefully encourage me to spend my free time more productively. I have also been thinking about how I don’t need to be so readily available. I want to maintain some mystery. I am selective with what I post and write, but I have decided to be a little more in the moment than on the screen. If you want to know what is going on in my life you will have to text or call me. We will have to have a proper conversation, make plans, or hell do something spur of the moment. But if you want to be in my life then effort will have to be made. No more play by play on social media.

I am going to spend more time focusing on me and less time apologizing for it. I am going to make myself a priority this month. Staying in more to get rest. Spending less money. Working two jobs to pay off my credit card and to save. Actively working on getting things together for my move. Reading at least one of the books I have in my “to read” pile. Cooking more since I genuinely love cooking. Eating healthier and drinking more water. Exercising with my girls Lilly and Ellie! Spending time with those who make my soul happy. Spending more time outdoors AND most of all doing WHATEVER I want on my birthday. It’ll involve sushi and being on the water of course. I keep telling myself I am going to do more for myself, focus on self-care, and I don’t. I get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life and trying to the best friend, daughter, sister, employee, etc., I can be. So, I am vowing to myself for this whole month to focus on MYSELF! I already spent the first 4 days working, cleaning, cooking and watching a totally cheesy Netflix show.

Self-care isn’t always about face masks, bubble baths, getting your hair done or pedicures. Although I will be doing all of those things this month…it is my birthday and all. It’s about making sure you are mentally, emotionally, and physically in your healthiest and happiest state. It is making sure you are taken care of and your heart is full. I have been neglecting myself. While I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in many aspects that past few weeks, opening myself up to new opportunities, and making big changes. I haven’t taken a step back to figure out how it is affecting me. I have been putting others first, which isn’t a bad thing, but I have to remember that my well being is most important. Being selfless is wonderful as long as you don’t lose yourself. I tend to lose myself in trying to be the person everyone needs me to be and not be the person I need to be for myself.

I am letting the month of June and the last birthday I voluntarily celebrate(29 forever club) bring the opportunity to modify a few things in my life. I am also letting it bring a month full of celebrating and using the excuse, “Well it’s my birthday so…” While I love writing and sharing my life with those I love, taking this break from oversharing and living more in the moment seems to be the right thing for me at this time. I hope everyone enjoys the month of the summer solstice. And if you see me this month looking a hot mess or having a little too much fun just remember…its the month of me. I am not trying to impress anyone, just doing what I want to do!

Existential Crisis, party of one…

 Sitting here waiting on my parents to arrive for dinner, I was actually on time for once, and I find myself thinking…”Holy shit! You’re about to be 29!” Where did my twenties go? This panic has set in a few times over the past 5 months.

Where did my twenties go? Why did I think I had all this time to accomplish things? Why am I so unsatisfied with where I am at in life right now? Did I even do anything meaningful in my twenties? Questions like these have been plaguing me and leading to what I can only assume is an existential crisis. Quarter life crises are played out. I’m taking this one to a whole nother level.

Existential crisis is also known as that moment when one questions if their life has meaning, purpose or value. I’d say mine definitely started brewing after my brush with death in November. I started thinking about what if I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have my defibrillator? Would my short time on earth have made a difference? Have I made a difference to anyone other than those genetically programmed to love me? With these circumstances and 30 looming around the corner, I find myself pondering the deeper questions in life.

Recently I had someone ask me what the one thing I wanted from life was and I did not even have to think about it before responding. I want to make a difference. I couldn’t figure out exactly how to communicate it at the time, it was late and there had been drinks involved, but after thinking about that conversation I now know how to convey exactly what I meant. I want to make a difference, not in the sense of changing the world, but in helping others. I hope that my kindness, vulnerability, empathy and hopefully my words can make a difference to someone. To help them in their journey through life.

How do I go about doing that? How do I figure out what I want to do in this life that will help me achieve my goal in life? I thought it was Nursing. To be a good nurse, the kind of nurse that makes being in the hospital bearable. My health made it clear that that wasn’t it and now here I sit almost 29 feeling a little lost. Do I continue to write and eventually write a novel? Do I work to eventually open my own book and record store, since books and music are things that changed my life? Do I work for a charity like the American Heart Association? Do I move or do I stay in my comfort zone? How do I figure out the answers?

In January I had someone recommend the book 30 before 30. As I have slowly read this over the past few weeks I have been all over the map. I have related to the author, been inspired by the author and been envious of the author. She writes about how she made a mess of her twenties and accomplished all these small goals she set for herself. While reading this book in public I get unsolicited advice from strangers like, “Don’t worry your twenties are for figuring things out.” First of all, this isn’t a self-help book and what exactly are we figuring out in our twenties? Did I do my twenties right? Did I make a big enough mess? Did I accomplish enough? Does anyone else feel this way?

I spent my twenties in serious relationships and having heart surgery. Reflecting on my twenties I guess I can say I have realized just how strong I am. I was put through emotional and physical hell with 5 separate heart surgeries, all differing in severity, and I overcame every obstacle thrown my way. I never gave up and I continue to fight to be the healthiest version of myself. I don’t accept the answer “no” from my doctors. I loved with all my heart and in two completely different ways, two people. I learned to let go and how to take time to heal from hurt. I learned to be careful with who I trust and what I won’t put up with. I learned that sometimes the tough decision is the right decision. I learned what a broken heart feels like and how cold the bathroom floor is at 3AM when you’re sobbing and wondering why someone doesn’t love you. Most importantly, I have learned how to forgive and grow from disappointment.

I have all these questions heavy on my mind and heart as I approach my golden birthday and I have the typical late twenty-something shit going on too. Will I be forever alone? Is there anyone worthwhile to date? Do I have too much baggage? Why am I dissatisfied with my job? Do you ever feel like an adult? Being single at 29 was definitely not where I thought I would be when I celebrated my 20th birthday with my new boyfriend. My ability to self-sabotage relationships at this point in my life is uncanny. I seem to either put my foot in my mouth or retreat into my shell (there is your turtle joke, Alexandra!) and become too nervous to be myself, to text or call first, or to innitiate anything. Navigating your late twenties trying to figure out when you’re supposed to feel like an adult and how to act like one blows. I feel stuck in a transitional state. Every decision I make has so much weight to it now.

All of this being said, or written out… whatever, it has made me decide to develop my own list of 30 before 30 goals. Some big, some small and some that may seem silly to others, but they’re my goals. My goals to make sure I successfully make a mess of my twenties and figure things out. In the last year of my twenties I’ll be bolder. I’ll fight my fear and text or call first. I’ll live a little more, unapologetically. I want to be able to go into my 30’s and know that I made the most of my twenties. Take this last year by the horns and “figure things out.” Maybe answer the question of what can I do to make a difference? It may seem like a silly goal to some, maybe naive or make me seem like a dreamer, but I don’t think that being a good person who wants to help others is a silly dream.

Since people relate to and like photos. Here are some photos of some of my birthday celebrations through out my twenties for your viewing pleasure…enjoy

 
 

Breakdown in aisle 28

My writers block has been beyond awful lately. I’ve tried writing in different settings, with music, without music, after drinking a pretty full glass of wine, inside, outside and many other scenarios. I’ve felt rather uninspired. Earlier today I was attempting to write about accountability and after trashing 7 attempts, I gave up. I’ve had a few conversations with a dear friend, recently, on what my writing is to me and what I want this blog to be. I don’t want to be a fitness blogger, a fashion blogger, and I don’t want to be an “influencer”, whatever the hell that really is? I would loosely classify this as a lifestyle blog. If you read my writing you’re not going to find ways to be better organized, you’re not going to find the perfect dips to make for a party, and you’re not going to find the cutest new shoes that are a must-have. Y’all are lucky if y’all are going to see me in anything other than a casual tee shirt and shorts this summer. Instead, you’re going to find blog posts about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in life, like holding yourself accountable, personal growth, mourning the loss of a loved one, health issues, dating dilemmas, and mental health. A lot of the issues people want to talk about but are scared of or don’t know how. I’ve finally reached the point in life where I’m not afraid to be honest. Where I’ve figured out who I am and I’ve accepted her in all her glory. The person I’ve grown into the past few years is someone I never realized I wanted to be, but couldn’t be happier that I am.

Now 15-year-old Madelyn had this, insanely detailed, picture in her head of what life would be like at 28. I had this image of me standing in my doorway of a cookie cutter house, with a baby in my arms, watching my husband and daughter play in the yard. I’d have a dog and a goldfish. I’d be insanely happy with a successful career. Obviously 13 years later I’ve missed every opportunity to have that life 😂. To be quite honest I am glad I did because I am not the person that would be content in that life. At one point, around 26, I had a moment of panic when I realized this wasn’t where my life was going. As happy as I am with who I am now and the growth I’ve made in my twenties, I have moments of self-doubt and panic. I have moments where anxiety grabs a hold of me and I feel out of control.

Today my anxiety reared its ugly head. Self-doubt crept in and I found myself on edge. I found myself asking, “what if I’m not good enough?” In those moments I could think of a million different things to make me feel unworthy. Unworthy of someone’s attention, unworthy of the job I want, unworthy of admiration, unworthy of anything. I found myself overthinking, something I do far too often, and could feel panic set in. I came home and cleaned. Usually, cleaning helps calm me down but no luck. I went to the grocery store and as I stood in the produce section I lost it. I couldn’t breathe and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I was the lady trying to put veggies in her cart with tears streaming down her cheeks. I’m sure I looked insane and I certainly felt it. As I found myself on the verge of a full-blown panic attack in Publix, I left quickly and loaded my car up. Now if cleaning doesn’t help then retail therapy usually does. My budget doesn’t allow for much retail therapy but I thought I’d try it before I reached hysterics. I walked into books a million and tried to pick out a book. Now if you know me on a personal level then you know I LOVE a bookstore and a good book. Yeah, I left empty-handed and listened to The Smiths my whole way home, if that doesn’t set the mood for ya then I don’t know how else to explain it. I decided to go for a run. Running is always a great stress reliever for me and I can usually clear my head. Pushed myself and got my heart rate up a little too high, my bad, only to find a tiny sense of relief. Now I sit soaking in a bubble bath, drinking hot tea, and attempting to write in order to feel better. Yes, writing on my phone in the tub not the brightest idea, but oh well. I need to express myself some way and this usually helps. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Y’all, I am FAR from perfect. I have days like today for no reason I get anxious, over think, and silently cry in the produce section. I have days where I stand surveying myself in the mirror thinking, “If only your hips weren’t so wide” or “If you could just lose that little fluff right here.” I have goals I am steadily striving for and I am not in the same place as many of my peers. My path is different and I’m okay with that, but some days I find myself comparing myself to my peers and I experience immense self-doubt. I have days where I have to go on a run in order to be able to think straight. Nights where I lay awake staring at the ceiling and wonder why I am in the place where I am. Everyone has anxiety at times or experiences self-doubt. We all compare ourselves to our peers, or over think. We all experience some form of body dysmorphia. And can find ourselves questioning why is this happening? Why now in this moment? Why me? But we don’t talk about it. We sweep it under the rug, we bottle it up, or we dismiss it in fear. Fear of being viewed as ”crazy.” I’m sure I’ll have people read this and think, “This bitch is crazy. She cried in the produce section at Publix on a Monday.” Yeah well some of us aren’t perfect.

I’m not crazy. I’m stressed and I’m human. I question if I make the right decisions. I’ve let others control how I have viewed my self worth. I’ve made mistakes and I experience anxiety. The thing is, I am not afraid to talk about it. Mental health is important. Mental health can play a huge role in your physical health. I don’t know why there is such a stigma regarding mental health when it’s something we all deal with daily?!

Y’all, talk about your shit. Don’t be afraid to put it out there. Get it out!

Now, since I’ve put my crazy on the front porch for all to see, it’s time for me to put on a onesie, drink some wine, and eat my feelings in the form of carbs. Y’all go on about your business people!

Infertility awareness, yo!

Here we are in April.  Spring is in full effect and with it, change is in the air.  Something about warmer weather, April showers and longer days makes me feel like all things are possible.  Many exciting things are happening this month; Game of Thrones, Easter and I’m getting in with a new specialist to determine if surgery number 9 will be necessary. One of the biggest things, for me, in April is the week of the 21st-27th.

The week of the 21st-27th is National Infertility Awareness Week. World infertility awareness is in June, but I wanted to address it this month instead. Infertility affects men and women. 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility of some sort and only 15 out of the 50 states have insurance coverage for it.


If you’ve followed my blog posts, or know me personally, you know that I suffer from infertility.  I suffer from ovarian failure and wrote about it back in September because one of my dear friends, who had a VERY hard time conceiving, was finally about to give birth and my sister had just told me she was expecting.  The harsh reality of never being able to have my own children hit me hard that week. I was definitely caught up in my feelings, so I wrote about it to help sort things out.  That was the most personal post I had written at the time and I found it to be insanely rewarding to share. That blog post got some serious recognition and reached TONS of people.  I am still getting messages from strangers about it. So, I thought why not raise some more awareness?

When my sister and her husband told me they were pregnant I was so happy I wanted to cry.  I actually did cry tears of joy when I got in my car. Now, I knew this news would be coming because they were wanting to get pregnant, but I was still so surprised and excited.  Why did I choose to cry in my car rather than share my emotions with my sister? I chose to cry in my car because I knew after the tears of joy the tears of sadness would come rolling down.  Once I was home I ugly cried where no one could see me. I’m not telling everyone this because I want your pity. I want people to understand what living with infertility is like. I could NOT be happier and more excited that my sister is having a baby.  Y’all, I can NOT wait to hold my niece in my arms and tell her how much I love her already, but at the same time, I am sad.

I’m sad for myself and for women all over who understand this sadness.  I don’t want friends or family to feel weird telling me when they’re expecting.  I don’t want them to think that they have to deliver the news delicately. I’m not going to break down crying in front of you and curse the universe.  I’m going to celebrate with you and be there supporting you throughout it all. I am going to love your child unconditionally. I will, however, in private, process my emotions of envy.

I will never experience that first time the baby moves in the womb or has hiccups. I won’t understand what it’s like to not be able to breathe because everything has shifted internally and my belly is expanding (right now I only feel that when I eat too many tacos).  I won’t experience the pain of childbirth or breastfeeding. I will be envious of your journey throughout all of it. At times I may be jealous, but I never want someone to feel they can’t share their experience with me because I can’t have kids. 

As a woman being told you can not have your own kids is soul crushing.  You can not do the one thing you are biologically meant to do. Being told bluntly at 20 years young is harder than you could ever realize.  I was at the age where I was still starry-eyed and naive. I had all of these plans for my life that I was going to accomplish and had yet to discover life had different plans.  This was my first wake up call in that department. My biggest dream for myself was to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother like my own. One that encouraged me to be myself no matter what anyone else thought.  One that would go without just so I could have what I wanted or needed. One who wasn’t perfect and showed me that it was okay to not be perfect. I wanted to raise children with my sisters and share stories and experiences about motherhood with them.  The sense of utter failure I developed after being diagnosed was something I can not accurately describe. It’s been just shy of 9 years since being diagnosed and I still struggle to be okay with it to this day.

There is a sense of obligation to immediately tell anyone whom you are seeing and see a potential future with, “Hey just so you know my womb is barren!” Dating in your late twenties/early thirties is hard enough. Everyone has baggage at this point they’re bringing to the table and when you bring a bag full of bricks like infertility to the table, well it can be a deal breaker.  This makes it discouraging to date. You hope and pray that you eventually find someone who will think life with just you is enough because sometimes IVF or adoption is too expensive or isn’t an option. Infertility is draining.

The depression that comes with your diagnosis…Lord.  My doctor recommended therapy after I found out. At the time I thought I would just process this on my own.  It wasn’t as big of a deal until I got older. Once your friends start having children and you experience that first breakdown because it hits you that that will never be you.  I felt guilty for feeling sad for myself. I’ve since gone to therapy to try to process it, to become content with it. Most days I am fine. I know I will be fun Aunt Madelyn and I am totally okay with that role.  It wasn’t until I found out my sister was pregnant that I started to feel sad again. 

After Devon and Kyle told me the exciting news and I ugly cried on my stairs for a solid 45 minutes.  I confused the hell out of my dogs sitting there sobbing, those poor babies, I felt immense guilt. I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself, I should be celebrating.  I let it all go, or so I thought. Months went by and I went to the first appointment with them, I felt my niece kick, and I started planning my sister’s baby shower. A little backstory here, my sister is AMAZING, y’all.  I’m sure everyone thinks that about their sister, but it is more than that when it comes to Devon. She still scares the hell out of me. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will disappoint her or let her down. She has the biggest heart and always goes above and beyond for others. She is the hardest worker I know and she loves even harder. Devon has hosted many a baby shower for her friends and poured herself into making sure everything was just right. Therefore, I knew this had to be perfect for her. I spent 3 months planning, coordinating and crafting. I was putting myself under an extreme amount of pressure and stressing myself out beyond belief. 

Two days before the shower I was agitated with myself, so much so, that I cried the whole way home from buying succulents for centerpieces.  I essentially put myself in timeout. I avoided the rest of the tasks I planned to tackle that night, took a shower and went to bed. The next day while reprimanding myself for being so damn emotional it hit me.  Why was I making such a big deal out of this? Why did it have to be perfect? Well you see, this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to having a baby shower. It is the only one that my mom will be the Nana-to-be at.  It is the only time Devon and I will share this experience. It was such a big deal to me because of my infertility. Once the shower was over I felt relieved and then the guilt crept in. I felt guilty because once again I found myself jealous of Devon.  I could not have done this without the help of the lovely ladies below and I am sorry if I was annoying or overbearing when it came to planning. Hopefully, now you guys understand why I got a little OCD about the shower. 

Infertility doesn’t come with a handbook. It comes with feeling distraught and depressed. It comes with hormone treatments and a price tag.  It comes with a sense of failure and pangs of guilt. It comes in waves. Some days, weeks, or months you’re content and others you feel like you’re the only one missing out on the joy of motherhood.  So the week of April 21st-27th is a big deal to me. It means more to me than it does to most. I will, personally, never go through IVF treatment and have repeated negative pregnancy tests, because I know I have infertility due to ovarian failure.  So, to those women who put their bodies through hell and have yet to get pregnant…keep your faith. Stay positive and remember that even if you never get pregnant it will be okay. It seems like the end of the world, but I can promise you it isn’t. Remember, adoption is a beautiful thing and doesn’t make someone less of a mother.  To those of you going through the adoption process, I have the utmost respect for you. Adoption may never be an option for me either because adoption agencies aren’t too keen on giving a baby to someone with heart failure and I am okay with that. But, those of you waiting and getting discouraged, be patient. Your child is out there and you will get a chance to be a parent.  And to those of you who know you may never be a parent…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I may only be a dog mom and in the end, that is okay. Ladies, when you find yourself sad, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling guilty, FEEL IT!  It is okay to feel those things.  It is normal and we are only human. Don’t let anyone let you feel bad about not being a mom.  Don’t feel ashamed if you have to take antidepressants, go to therapy or if you decide you need to change your whole life because of your diagnosis.  No one completely understands what it feels like until it is them and you don’t have to explain yourself. Hold your head high the week of April 21st-27th and know that other women are in the same boat as you, a boat that no one wants to be in but one in which you are not alone.  

My friends and family that have been patient and supportive, THANK YOU. Thank you for considering my feelings when you got exciting news and when you were sharing it, but next time don’t worry about me.  I will be just fine. And Devon, thank you for going to my appointments with me, thank you for verbally assaulting the doctor that basically told me I was being a hypochondriac, thank you for letting me be so involved in this pregnancy. I love you more than I’ll ever be able to express. I couldn’t be more thankful for you understanding that this is as close as I will get to having my own child and for you to understand what that means to me. The kind of sister, daughter, and friend you are is why I know you are going to be the BEST mother to Cadence. 

Small steps, big moves…

In September I wrote about feeling off-kilter, unbalanced. I needed to clear my head and do some soul searching. So I went camping. I wrote about driving through Cape San Blas with the windows down, sun on my skin and singing along to one of my favorite songs with conviction. About how at that moment, while I was terribly belting my soul out, I had something similar to an epiphany. I had this realization that everything was about to change. Something big was going to happen and I just needed to be patient. I realized the universe was telling me I needed to slow down a little and I did not take the universes advice to slow down. I had no idea what was actually in store for me.

Something big certainly was brewing. It has taken me just over 2 months to really process the fact that my heart stopped. It took a few weeks for the reality of it to really set in. I’ve talked about it, wrote about it, cried about it and all together tried to ignore it. While it was terrifying and I live in constant fear that it will happen again, it has been the push I needed. I wanted to make changes but wasn’t following through with my actions. I was making excuses and still expecting big changes. I wasn’t holding myself accountable. I have since come to the realization that you have to start small for there to be any change. You can’t always dive into the big things. Sometimes you need to prepare yourself first.

I went to New York at the beginning of December and fell in love. As I was walking through the city taking everything in, I felt electric. For the first time, I felt truly comfortable in my own skin. Despite the hustle and bustle of New York, I was oddly at home and not overwhelmed. My last night there, while getting my groove on at the Roosevelt concert, Jesica looked at me and said, “Let’s move! Look at everyone. The lifestyle is different here. I want this lifestyle. I want change.” Well, girl, you may have been drunk, but you were speaking exactly what was on my mind. All I’ve been able to think about since that trip is going back to live the city life.

After leaving New York getting back to reality was tough for me. My mind wandered and all I could do was daydream about moving. Life was feeling mundane. It had been just over a month since getting shocked and I knew that this was my chance for big change. I, essentially, defied death and was given another opportunity to do something. So, I started small.

Over the years I’ve been told and have read that to start making a difference you should start with making your bed EVERY morning. So, I started by making my bed EVERY morning. This probably seems minuscule, but it makes a HUGE difference for me. I have always been guilty of not making my bed or putting clean clothes away immediately. Something small, but it was something that caused clutter and chaos. It was unnecessary stress. I’ve now been making my bed every morning for over a month and it has become second nature to make it as soon as I get the dogs out of it in the mornings. I’m also putting my laundry up as soon as it’s done. These two simple tasks have surprisingly eased stress I didn’t realize I had.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been feeling really proud of myself with taking small steps. So, I decided little changes would be how I make my big changes this year. I’ve set a few big goals for myself to accomplish this year, but I now know I need to set little ones to help me get to where I want to be. I am finding that for me to able to hold myself accountable, I have to put my goals out there for the world to see. If I write them down just for me it is easier to let myself down and make excuses. However, if all of you are aware then it adds a little extra pressure and well I work well when under pressure.

So here are my monthly goals for 2019:

January- After experiencing the relief of stress from making my bed and putting clean clothes away immediately, I decided to de-clutter. Not just my belongings, but also my personal and social life. I dropped the number of classes I was taking this semester down to two so that I could focus on and absorb the information better. I am reading “The life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. I am also watching her show on Netflix. I am going through each room/closet and purging. It’s rather rewarding, but learning how to fold my laundry differently has been a task. I am also saying NO to things that I don’t really want to do/attend. That don’t bring me joy. I am also doing things like purging unused apps and contacts on my phone. Purging friend lists. January my goal is to de-clutter and I am working diligently at achieving this goal.

February- NO SOCIAL MEDIA! My goal for February is to be more present in what is actually happening vs social media. I spend too much time distracted by social media and I need to stop saying, “I’ll take a break later.” I am doing it now. February 1st all social media apps will be deleted off my phone. I’m going to do a full 30 days of nothing. I’ll work on writing for my book. I’ll stay focused on homework. I’ll be present in social settings instead of reaching for my phone.

March- Whole 30! I did it for 22 days once before and now I am going to do it for the whole 30 days. I am going to complete it, no excuses. I figure after a good social media detox I should do an actual detox. I’ve had friends who have had wonderful results and it’s helped them get their body back to a healthy place. I think the hardest part for me will be no mashed potatoes for 30days 😫.

April- April will be my fitness month. After getting my body to a clean and healthy state internally, introducing all those “bad” foods again could backfire. I figure I’ll need to get my body in a healthy state externally and stay on top of the lbs those bad foods will add on. I try to stay in decent shape as it is. I jog/run regularly, but I’ll be getting back into Pure Barre and staying dedicated. Pure Barre was something I fell in love with but couldn’t do with my schedule this past semester. It’s a damn good workout, that I can kind of do, and it makes my booty look realllll nice 🍑. So a solid 30 days of actively participating in PB. I’ll gladly accept a workout buddy to go look ridiculous with me! Hopefully, there will be another pop on the beach because that was one of my favorite classes!

May- I am going to do a 30-day writing challenge that was encouraged by one of my professors this past semester. I decided I would self publish one of the books I have been working on this year and to focus on growing as a writer. This will be one small step to help me strengthen my writing. My professor told me to master my craft I need to do it EVERYDAY. I try to write every day, but sometimes time gets away from me. This will force me to write every day and make it a habit. Remember doing something consistently for 4 weeks is how something becomes a habit. Expect a lot of blogs to come your way in May!

June- June is my month of ME! Being my birth month I decide June was going to be a month of self-love and self-care. I am going to do more things that I don’t make time for when it comes to myself. I am usually one to put others before me. It’s my nature and I put myself on the back burner. Well in June I will put myself first as I ring in the last year of my twenties. I will make sure to carve out at least one hour a day for myself. No phone, just me, and do what I want to do. I will do things I’ve been putting off. Self-love and mental health are important, that is why my birth month will be all about ME!

I am only doing 6 months of small goals at a time. I’ll reassess and see what I need to do in order to get me where I want to be by the end of the year. Life happens and plans change. It is more realistic to only set a few at a time. This way I don’t set myself up for failure. These small goals may seem silly to some of you, but they make sense for me right now. I’ve finally accepted that my timeline is my own and I am done comparing myself to others. I am comfortable in my own skin again and content with the progress I am making. I have set big goals this year for myself. Here is a few:

1) Self publish my first book

2) Actually, move out of Okaloosa County

3) Read and write more!

I picked a reading challenge for 2019 and I’ve already started it.

I’ll gladly take recommendations on must reads!

This week everyone has been posting this whole 10-year challenge of social media and it’s made me chuckle. I don’t so much care about how different I look from 10 years ago, as I do about the person I am today vs 10 years ago. But for the hell of it….here ya go!

18/19-year-old Madelyn

Me 10 years later

Thank goodness I let go of my need to be a blonde 😂🤦🏻‍♀️. But my change in appearance isn’t what ultimately matters. I hope everyone takes the time to encourage personal growth and hold themselves accountable for the changes they want to occur in 2019. Set small goals that will help you achieve your big goals. Stop comparing yourself to others. There is no rush, just because one of your peers has achieved what you want already does not mean you need to rush to get there. Enjoy the journey. I definitely am slowing down this year and enjoying things more. You can have fun and work hard. It is possible.