5 years ago… the surgery that changed my life 

Today, November 30th, 2016 marks the 5 year anniversary of a surgery that changed my life.

I have been thinking about how I wanted to share my story for months, and whether I should at all but I was inspired to share due to this podcast.

Not many people outside my family and close friends know this story, but I wanted to share in case it helps one other female.

What lead to my surgery started at the end of August 2011, I woke up one day with so much abdominal pain I almost couldn’t walk. I made it to work just to have my coworkers tell me I looked pale, that I needed to see a dr, etc. but I thought it was just cramps/period pain so I took Midol and the pain became tolerable.

Over the course of the next few days the pain decreased but my grandmother made me promise to go to the Dr, even though my pain had gone away I went so I could say I did. The Dr at the walk-in checked things out but they didn’t think anything was wrong, especially because I wasn’t in pain anymore (it wasn’t appendicitis). They told me if the pain came back they would send me for an ultrasound. But they probably thought I was a hypochondriac going to see them when nothing was wrong.

The next month I didn’t have as much pain so I didn’t think anything of it. In October, after I ran a 5K with my best friend and I had some more pain and after a few questions from her (shes Dr of Physical Therapy so had medical insight) she asked me if the pain was cyclical because she was concerned I might have a cyst. So I went back to the doctor and based on their previous notes they sent me for an ultrasound. What was found from the ultrasound was a 2 1/2 inch “complicated cyst”. I was recommended to go and see an OB/GYN to get more analysis on the results. When I saw the OB/GYN I had another ultrasound done and was told that not only did I have a cyst but I had endometriosis. I had heard of endometriosis from a friend of mine from college who had recently also had a surgery. But other than that I didn’t know what it meant.

For those who aren’t familiar with endometriosis it is a condition which “many women have during their childbearing years. It means that a type of tissue that lines your uterus is also growing outside your uterus. This does not always cause symptoms. And it usually isn’t dangerous. But it can cause pain and other problems” (see more here).

When I met with the doctor he told me that my case was so severe (4 on a scale of 5) that I needed to schedule a surgery ASAP to remove the lesions as no birth control would help. He was actually surprised that it took me so long to come and see him, indicating that I have a really high pain tolerance. So within a matter of a week time period I went from feeling fine to scheduling a surgery. It was very overwhelming and I was scared that the cyst would cause problems with my ovaries and I wouldn’t be able to have kids, etc. My mind just spiraled out of control to worst-case scenario. After stressing for a couple days I realized that I needed to calm down and just deal with an outcome if and when they occurred.

I scheduled the surgery for November 30 and knowing that I had a fix in the future helped me get through some painful days. Over the next month the pain worsen and on Thanksgiving that year I was in so much pain I barely ate dinner and wound up  curled up in a recliner with a heating pad on my abdomen and had taken Ibuprofen. The only thing that got me through was knowing I had an upcoming surgery that would (hopefully) fix the problem.

On the day of my surgery my parents came with me to the hospital. I was scheduled to go in at 9am and it would only take about 2 hours, but was dependent on how severe everything was. Once I got prepped for surgery, I remember being wheeled out to the room to surgery, within 30 second the the anesthesia hit me and then my next memory I have is waking up in the recovery room and feeling like I had to go to the bathroom haha. The surgery went really well but it turns out my cyst had burst (which was why I was in so much pain a few days beforehand!) and my appendix had become inflamed so that was removed too. But my insides were cleaned out via the laparoscopic surgery.

Waiting in the recovery room to be released

My recovery took 4-5 days before I could walk straight up and my body was functioning properly.  I had to be careful how I twisted and couldn’t lift anything heavy for a few weeks due to the stitches. Stairs were tricky as the incisions were near my hip bones, and I had to put a footstool by my bed so I didn’t have to so high to climb up. I was glad I lived on a first floor apartment, and my mom was able to stay with me for a few days.

But each day I got stronger and kept trying to walk more. I was so anxious to get back to running. But I became frustrated because even after I got my stitches taken out I was having a muscle catch in my  abdomen and it created pain. When I saw my Dr about it, he said because I was so thin, a muscle knot can be a nuisance, so I had to massage it out. Finally after about a month from my surgery I was able to run about 2 miles and you would’ve thought I just won an Olympic medal. I was so ecstatic and so excited because I was looking forward to running my first half marathon and about five months.

I was able to successfully trained for and run my first half marathon in May 2012.

img_0574Throughout 2012 I still experienced some abdominal pain, but nothing to the extend it was. I was told it was the leftover small lesions that a surgery couldn’t get but eventually  they would resolve themselves. In order to keep my condition at bay I was prescribed birth-control pills. This was meant to keep my estrogen levels low to prevent lesions from forming again. Over the course of the next year I ended up trying 5 different kinds of birth control as I tried to find one that “fit”. That was probably the biggest struggle of my recovery, I became very emotional, I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror and I didn’t feel like myself. After working with my Dr we were able to determine a low dose pill that kept my condition under control but didn’t make me feel emotional and helped my body.

I’ve been on one prescription since January 2013 and things of been great since. I have annual check ups with ultrasounds and everything has continued to be good. As a result of the surgery I no longer have days where I’m curled up in bed in pain and exhaustion. I no longer have nausea like I used to, I can run, lift, kickbox, etc, without having to stop due to pain.

This surgery truly changed my life and I am so grateful to my best friend for recognizing my symptoms so I could be properly treated. Endometriosis has no cure, but can be kept under control, and I am proof of that.

Do you or someone you know have endometriosis?

This is a pretty quick recap of my story but if you have any questions I would be happy to answer any. I didn’t want this anniversary to go by without acknowledgement.

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Lost & Found

This week was odd for me, I think the full moon effected my mood because some days I was in a funk/and a little cranky, but after working out and running I felt A LOT better. I even found an item I had been missing for a year and an nostalgic item that I forgot I had, who doesn’t like that? So that was my inspiration for this week’s post!

For my workouts this week, my cross training plan from last week continued on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thankfully I wasn’t as sore this week. I chalk it up to making sure I ate a banana everyday, which I didn’t do last week (or it could be I’m getting stronger :-p).

For those interested, this is what my Thursday workouts look like, which take me a half hour and I am able to complete during my lunch hour. It really helps break up my day and I return to my office really energized. (disclaimer: this workout was personalized for my fitness level)

 

 


For my running this week, Monday I had a tempo run in my mind, and after the success of last weeks 5K PR, I wanted to see how well I could do running 4 miles. After a .25 easy jog, and some dynamic stretches I started running and felt good. After a few laps, I wanted to run by feel and tried not to look at my watch too much. The end result was 4 miles in a record time, beating my previous time from 6 weeks ago by 6 seconds per mile. It was so nice to see the improvement.
Wednesday I decided to get back to some interval work, inspired by my improvement in tempo runs, I hope for good things with my interval runs. I ran on the campus track, and had a few obstacles in the way- the field was set up for this weekend’s graduation ceremony so some of the chairs overflowed onto Lane 1 of the track, and then there were anchors/tethers holding the stage in place where I had to run in Lane 1 in order to not get clothes-lined!

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I did a 5 minute warmup, then I did 8×400, averaging 1:44.06. (1:51, 1:43.7, 1:43.9, 1:46, 1:44, 1:45.4, 1:45.4, 1:47.4, 1:39.1) which was more consistent than when I ran the same workout on March 30th. The last few were a little tough, but I pushed through and nailed it on the last one! I felt really good though.

My last run this week today, (Saturday), I planned to run 7 miles at my goal marathon pace (9 min/mile) since my legs felt good and I wanted to challenge myself. I started off right on pace, running a usual loop around my apartment, not completely flat but no big inclines but some downhills. Mile 4 was my slowest but it was basically all up hill (200 feet gain) but then I hit downhills again and kicked it in gear for the remaining 3 miles. I felt SOOO much better than last week, but a lot of it was mind over matter. I was determined to run strong and I did.
My run on Wednesday made me feel so good afterward, that I felt a desire to want to start keeping a handwritten running journal- even though I have this blog and a Garmin GPS watch that tracks everything there is just something about being able to see results all together on 1 piece of paper in my own handwriting. So when I got home for my run I went to pick out a journal to use (I have a whole bunch because I receive one from my grandmother every year for Christmas). She always puts a quote or encouraging poem inside, so I wanted to pick a journal that I felt best relates to my running journey. When I was digging through them all I found a running journal I started 5 years ago when I first started running, which I had TOTALLY forgotten about. My first entry was in February 2011 and I wrote about how my friend Kelly had just finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon and she inspired me to not only run more but someday run that race (that race is still on my bucket list, and Kel you still inspire me everyday will all you do xoxo). But this journal ended in August 2011 due to some health issues I was going through at the time, so there was still plenty of pages for me to continue using this journal.  I flipped to a blank page and started off fresh; writing a brief summary, and set up 2 side by side pages to listed my interval and tempo runs.

 

 

It does give me one more thing to keep up on but I feel this is a worthwhile project for myself as I am a very visual person.

 

 

The poem inside the cover of this journal is still a favorite relating both to life and running: You are Braver than you think! You’ve made hard choices and taken chances. You’ve met challenges and weathered changes. You’ve opened your heart ever when you knew it could hurt, and you’ve faced obstacles that might have stopped others in their tracks-but not you! Life takes courage and you’ve got it

Of course I had to reread what I had written 5 years ago and I was realized is that I was doing faster interval work on the treadmill than I started off this year doing. At first I felt like I really hadn’t made that much progress. Yet every year and pretty much every race I done, I have always dropped time, so even though my speed work isn’t too different, it was the miles and consistency that has helped me improve.

My ‘running story/journey’ officially started in the spring of 2011, but in the fall of 2011 I had health issues and a surgery, so I couldn’t run for 4 months. 2012 I focused more on distance training for my first half marathon and 15K and was still working through the surgery recovery. 2013 was a rough year emotionally for me, I felt very lost in my life, so I was just glad to get runs in when I could, as I didn’t have the mental capacity to run intervals. In August 2013 I started pursuing an MBA part-time while working full time, so for the next 2 years I was just happy to get runs in when I could. In April 2015 I started a new job which came with a 50 minute commute, and I was still finishing up school, so it was an adjustment in time management and shifting priorities. These aren’t excuses but me just working through why I haven’t done as much speed work in the last 5 years that I should’ve and could’ve been doing. In fact my Dad still tells me the same thing now that he did 5 years ago, and I wish I would’ve been more consistent because it makes me wonder where I could be today. Then again maybe I would’ve gotten injured, maybe I would be drained and have no desire to still want to run, I don’t know but my story has worked out how it was supposed to. I enjoy running and the escape it gives me, its a way I have ‘found myself’ but I just haven’t focused enough to really set an ambitious goal and work to achieve it. Over the last few years, I would run and usually just hope for the best in a race, thought secretly always wanting to PR. It wasn’t until this year (2016) that I have been able to really commit myself mentally and physically to speed work, and I’m ready now. I am ready to challenge myself to complete a marathon, I am ready to put in the work to get results. I’m ready to really see what I am capable of. I’m ready to make running even more of a priority than it was before. This is why I feel its important to share this with all of you.

The more I run the more I love my body. Not because it’s perfect, far from it but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am more capable of more than I ever thought possible

This week I also bought myself a $9 bracelet that says ‘she believed she could so she did, 2016’ as a reward to myself for my recent half marathon and as form of constant encouragement to train for and finish my first marathon this fall. I want to remember this as the year I started to really push myself consistently with running.

To support this dedication, over the last 2 weeks I have cut back on the number of nights I coach swimming after work (from 2-3x/wk to 1) so I could spend time working out after work (vs waking up early before work to do so), and its been great. I enjoy coaching, but I just feel like I really need to do this for me right now. Coaching is almost a year round gig (mid-Sept-end of July,40 weeks of the year) so by this time of year the coaches start to get a little drained, and I feel that way. I’ve noticed that working out energizes me and I feel like I needed these reduced hours to be able to do something for myself. I plan to only cut back on coaching through September when I finish my marathon, then I will reevaluate. But right now I am riding this running motivation high and I want to see how far it will take me.

This is one of my longest posts, so I will wrap it up for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a great week

Recommended article that I LOVE- How Miles have changed me

What has running or working out taught you? What would you love to commit yourself to? What is holding you back?

Motivation: Half Marathon Training Week 4

The best motivation to keep running, is the feeling you get after finishing a run. The satisfaction of knowing you were brave enough to start and strong enough to finish will leave you wanting more.

I hope you had a great week since my last post. My week started off a little frustrating when it came to this blog as I made some steps to transition this blog to a new domain name under WordPress. I have sure learned a lot from the process but should be good to go for the future. It was just a pain!

Anyway, Monday was good when it came to my running. It was a nice enough day out to run outside even though it was slightly windy. But I reminded myself that I may not have ‘perfect’ weather on a race day, so why not conquer that and feel comfortable in that weather now. Even though I recently purchased a new GPS watch (Garmin Forerunner 230), I didn’t have it in my hands yet, so I tracked my tempo run by running on a track and taking a lap time. I surprised myself with being able to keep the goal pace (8:30ish mile =2:07 or less per lap) as that was the first time I ran a tempo run outside vs a treadmill. I ran 2.5 miles. I felt SO PROUD of myself when I finished my run that I almost danced my way up the steps back into the locker room… yes I know I am a dork! But it gave me hope that I could do well on the half marathon! It also gave me motivation to keep going on the training plan I’ve made.

After the run I did wonder why I would even need a GPS watch since the stop watch worked fine but I know it’s much easier to track training when everything in one place, plus I won’t always be running on a track!  But I know the GPS watch will be worthwhile investment.

Tuesday I woke up before work and completed the runner specific body weight exercises. It only take about 20 minutes. Nothing really exciting there!

Wednesday morning I ran before work on the treadmill.It was Interval day and I started at 7.6 speed then increased by .1 speed each round, doing 7.9 twice, once at 8.0, and decided to get one more interval in and went 8.1 (7:24 speed) for the first time. I did end up using my watch to track my run for my first test run, it was cool to see what happens during runs- such as giving me my miles splits. I think I pushed my speed a little took much because my ankle has been a little sore since, so I have had to break out the ice.

Thursday I was a little distracted in the morning as it was my parent’s 32nd Anniversary so I used my time before work to find a good quote and posted a throwback picture on social media. It was nice to just have some time to relax since I have had something going on every night for the last 2 weeks (I coached swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week). So I planned to workout after work, but that didn’t happen as I actually cooked a decent dinner vs leftovers, so it became my rest day.

Friday morning I did the same workout as Tuesday except I added a set of pull-ups, which I have been slacking on in recent weeks.

Saturday was my long run day- 7 miles. I was excited to really use my new watch. I completed the run on a path walking path because it flat, vs the rolling hills around my apartment. Thankfully even though my ankle was a little sore after the run on Wednesday, it doesn’t hurt to walk or run on it so the run went pretty good. The 7 miles seemed to go pretty fast because I kept getting distracted looking at my watch checking my speed. It was interested to compare my pace to how it felt to run… I felt like I was running a lot faster than my watch was telling me, so its going to be a learning curve. I finished the run with an average 9:14 pace, which I was satisfied with.

After my run, I was in a car for 2 hours traveling to celebrate my Grandmothers 80th birthday. Almost all of my Dads side of the family was there -aunts, uncles, and all of my cousins, we were just missing 2 of my brothers. As I was talking with some of my cousins whom I haven’t seen in a while, I realized how nice it is that we are all able to come together for one person to celebrate and enjoy each others company. Not to be a downer, but I realized I have yet to have an event -large birthday party, engagement, wedding, shower, etc where everyone comes just for me. I am looking forward to that overwhelming love and gratitude that comes with being the ‘guest of honor’. I am also at the point in my life as my grandparents get higher in age that it’s even more important for family to get together as often as possible to celebrate life greatest moments and milestones and create these fun memories. The party was a success.

In other news this week, I am still plugging away at 4 different books; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- which I am trying to finish by the end of this weekend, Running for Women- which I haven’t made much progress on in the last 2 weeks, 7 Steps of Closure – my fiction/chick lit book that entertains me during my lunch hour, and Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria- a book that I am reading for a diversity discussion being held at my workplace. I also found some great articles I wanted to share; 7 Spiritual laws of Success and how to apply them and how to live a Year of Fear.

I hope you have a great week, I know I am looking forward to my 4 day weekend next week! What do you have to look forward to this week? What helps to keep you motivated?

 

Neither an end or a beginning

I think it’s safe to say just about everyone reflects back on their year on New Year’s Eve, and makes resolutions for 2016. But the way I see it is that year’s end is neither an end or a beginning, it is a continuation of what’s been going well and a chance to grow from mistakes.

On January 1st, 2015 I wrote in my journal “A new year is ahead of me and I feel better about where my life is leading, the experiences I have gained. I may not be where I had hoped to be at this point in my life, but I feel good about the steps I have taken to improve it” I also I wrote that I had the following to look forward to:

  1. Taste of Country Fest in June
  2. New niece or nephew in June
  3. Graduating with my MBA in August
  4. Hopefully another trip to Hawaii

and as I look back not only did those things happen, but more; I accepted a new job, bought a new car,  achieved personal bests in races, welcomed not one niece, but 2, into my family and I am definitely not the same person I was when this year started.   My outlook on my career drastically changed (in a good way) when I started my new job and as a result my quality of life improved,I feel so proud of myself for finishing my MBA, and I am filled with even more love and joy thanks to 2 little girls.

As I think about 2016, I don’t have as many definite events lined up as I did in 2015, but I do have 2 weddings to look forward to, and hopefully will be able to travel to a new place. But I also know there are some personal things I’d like to improve on this year, so when my dad asked me the other day what my resolutions are, I answered “personal growth”. Then when I saw there was a Twitter hashtag trending about a 5 word resolution I decided on “Don’t be afraid to Try”….

  • to train for a marathon
  • to find my true purpose in my career
  • to treat others better and think before I speak
  • to do things outside my comfort zone
  • to make time to read more books
  • to reduce clutter in my life
  • to eliminate excuses and procrastination

We don’t connect over our pretend perfection, we connect over our shared struggles. I share this quote and my resolutions because I know these are things I struggle with and there are others that probably feel the same. So I wanted to take this chance to connect with all of you.

A lot can happen in the next 12 months, and last week during Christmas I thought a lot about how different next years Christmas will be and how much life can change in a year, something I don’t remember ever really doing in the past. Sure I’ve made resolutions, but imagining what life will be like a month or year from now I feel is a lot different than pursuing resolutions. To me, resolutions are mostly things you have control over -eating better, exercising more, making better decisions,spending more time with family, etc,  but life can’t always be controlled and can often change quickly. So I have wondered, will this time next year I be in a relationship? Will I pursue an advanced position at work? Will I still enjoy working where I do? Will relationships with family members improve or change? What memories will I make and lessons will I learn?

I don’t know what 2016 will bring,  it could turn out to be one of the best years of my life, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it will be tough to top 2015.

Best wishes for a wonderful new year.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Traditions

It is December already, which means many holidays to celebrate. I celebrate Christmas and as a way to help me write more, I came across some daily writing prompts and this month they focus on Traditions. I know realistically I won’t be able to post daily so I am going to combine a couple prompts every few days.

Tradition is defined as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way or “ a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on in this way”

What traditions do you look forward to at the end of the year?

Christmas Eve and Christmas morning have the most traditions for me. Growing up I remember going to mass on Christmas Eve, not midnight mass, having pasta for dinner. Starting when I was about 9 my parents allowed us to open one gift that had arrived early from a relative or a gift from one of my siblings (which we would get from the dollar store thanks to my Dad). Then we set out the milk, cookies and a note to Santa, and I believe my Dad would read us ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and were off to bed.

The next morning it was a competition to see who would wake up the earliest to sneak downstairs and see all the presents that had arrived. My brothers and I would usually wake up around 5, but were only allowed to open our stockings until our parents woke up. Sometimes our excitement and chatter would wake them up a lot earlier than they liked! Christmas morning also included my mom making a nice big breakfast that varied to be served either before or after presents depending on how hungry we were.

Speaking of presents, since there are 6 people in my immediate family, we would take turns opening gifts in the order of oldest to youngest or vice versa. This allowed us to take our time with gift giving and enabled us to see what each other received. Plus we were able to see the reactions when someone opened the gift from each other. After we opened gifts the afternoon was always spent lounging around, playing with our new toys or video games or watching our new movies. Then we would have a nice Christmas dinner.

Since my brothers and I have all moved out of our parents house, our tradition is a little different now especially because 2 of my brothers do not live close by and my 3rd brother has his own family to create memories with. Now, I usually host my parents on Christmas Eve for pasta, then we go to mass together. On Christmas morning I will go to my parents house and exchange gifts with them and have breakfast, then we will go to my brother’s house for dinner and to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. Christmas is so much more exciting to see the joy it brings to a young child. My oldest brother will come home either the weekend before or after Christmas to exchange gifts, and my youngest brother is currently serving in the Army so this will be his 4th Christmas away from home. I am looking forward to next year when we will all be together again.

These traditions help to know what is going on when trying to coordinate various Christmas events and activities with extended family members. The time I spend with family is something I value more with each year and am glad I still live close to my parents so I don’t have to stress about traveling.
If you have children, what traditions are you trying to instill in them? If you don’t have children, what is a tradition someone passed along to you?

I don’t have children, just nieces and a nephew, but a tradition that I value is spending time with those who mean the most to you and remembering what Christmas is really about-giving and faith. I feel that is the core of what has been passed down to me. Even though I am not always very good at going to Church throughout the year, I always make a point of going for Christmas along with set out my Nativity scene.

When I do have children I imagine new traditions will form, whether its reading ‘The Night Before Christmas” or maybe “A Christmas Carol”, making Christmas cookies, driving around to see Christmas lights or decorating the Christmas Tree as a family, but I also plan to continue the traditions above as much as I can.

 

I’d love to hear from you……What are some of your traditions?

Sunshine & Summertime

Today, Memorial Day, marks the unofficial start of summer. For many this means time spend at a lake, summer cottage, family reunions or doing their favorite water sport. For me, this summer has many things for me to look forward to.

On June 12-15th, I have tickets to go to the 3rd Annual Taste of Country Festival in Hunter Mountain, NY, where I will camp and spend my days listening to dozens of concerts. I attended the inaugural year and although it rained 2/3rds of the weekend, I had a GREAT time with the small group of people I went with. This year, it will be me and a friend that I met that weekend. I won these tickets by chance back in December and when I first won them, it made me wonder whether it was a ‘meant to be’ moment. Was I meant to win these tickets, and go to this years Festival for something wonderful to happen? I don’t know, but either way I know my friend and I will have a great time, dancing and singing to the music… and hopefully won’t have to resort to sleeping in our cars due to rain!

My country concerts continue in July, when I have tickets to Country Lights Festival in my hometown. $10 for a ticket with 6 Country Acts headlined by Frankie Ballard, on a Friday night in summer, it too good to pass up.

On July 12th I will run the Boilermaker 15K for the 4th time. One of my favorite races, as the crowds are awesome the entire route and it also gives me a chance to spend time with family.

In August, I have 3 more concerts- Gloriana & Love & Theft on August 2nd, Little Big Town & David Nail on August 14th, and Lady Antebellum & Sam Hunt on August 28th.

I also have a very important milestone…. I will complete my Master of Business Administration (MBA) in August. This is something I have thought about since I graduated as an undergrad 6 1/2 years ago, really started taking steps to pursue in November 2012 and began in August 2013. It has been a very fulfilling experience and one of the best decisions I ever made, but with juggling full-time work, part-time classes and coaching, I am ready to get my free time back and have the degree!

This summer marks my 10 year high school reunion. Which is hard to believe as some memories seem like they happened last week, while others seem like another lifetime. There are friends that I still talk to and hang out with regularly, while others I haven’t seen since all the graduation parties ended. So much has happened to me and my classmates in that time that most of us are different people than we were in high school, but my classmates don’t know the person I am now, they just remember the person I was in high school.  Facebook helps us keep up with each other more than our parents generation, but I have mixed thoughts on whether or not to go. I have kept in touch with those I care about, and there isn’t really anyone who I think, ‘I wonder what is going on with them’. I know for me when i thought of what my life would be like 10 years in the future, I pictured myself in a much different place than I am now…..in a different job and more settled down. But when I thought about everything I have experienced: traveling, going back to school, living on my own, being close to family, I realized that I am a better, stronger person by not getting what I expected and it gives me something to continue to look forward to.

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

What do you have to look forward to this summer?