Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I'm scared for surgery this week. Pain, doctor's, drug's and some other never before talked about stuff.

If you've been a follower of this blog for any amount of time, you know I run. A lot.  I'm a pretty active gal.  You also know I I have had some neck issues over the years and more recently a couple of surgeries.  You can get caught up here (scroll to the Splenda and mCat part of the Christmas update) I'll wait while you click.......

go ahead.......

just waiting......
(who knew that after this my life would go straight in the crapper?)

Okay.. so I had a couple of surgeries to fix my neck but unfortunately what happened after my surgery is far too common and sadly, not often talked about.

Pain.  Uncontrollable pain.  Pain that makes you stay in bed.  Pain that you hide and only share with your closest confidant's.  Pain that you get tired of talking about and rating.  Pain that becomes the unwanted partner in your marriage and the ugly family member no one wants. Pain that makes you watch the clock and count the minutes until it's time you can take more medication.  Pain that makes you want to sleep and never wake up.  Pain that makes you feel like death might be a better option.

After my surgeries, the pain I was experiencing wasn't getting better.  My surgeon was out of tricks.  He'd tried the medications he felt comfortable trying and was at a loss.  I decided to go back to my pain specialist who had helped me previously with some back issues and was successful.  He looked over the medications I was on and made changes to them, increasing doses and creating combinations that I later learned were deadly.

Relief. Yes. Finally some relief.  And I could function.  I could drive.  I could serve at the temple, fulfill my calling at church and even work very part time.  Sure I couldn't remember a darn thing.  Between the Gabapentin, the opiates, the benzodiazepines.... I had no memory and a foggy brain - but I could "function" and I was getting by with relatively minor pain.  I was even running a bit.

For a while.

And then gradually, the pain crept back...and with a vengeance.  Unrelenting.  As the pain increased so did my tolerance to the medication until we were doubling the doses.

Finally one night, a dear friend had a frank discussion with Splenda Daddy and me letting me know that the doses I was on, and the combination of things I was taking would have nothing but a bad ending.  It was time to do something or plain and simple - I would die.

With her help we found a place to take me inpatient to help me get off all these dangerous things..  There I learned that although I was taking the medication exactly as prescribed, my body/brain created conditions called hyperalegsia and allodynia (I'll provide links at the bottom to read about them).

I spent four days inpatient de-toxing from the drugs and then another couple of weeks while some of them continued to work their way out of my system.  It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  And to this day, it's not easy.

Later this week I am facing surgery for a broken elbow and I have to admit, I'm scared.  I am a no narcotic girl.  There will be no Lortab or Percocet for me.  I can't take the chance that my body will kick back into hyperalegsia or if I even take them for a day or two, that I won't suffer withdrawal symptoms when I stop and I'm here to tell you - I don't wanna do that again!

So I'm scared.  I'm scared that when I wake up and the anesthsia wears off, I'll hurt.  I'm tired of pain.  So, so tired it.  I want my life back.  Pain free.  Fear free.

If you're so inclined, toss a prayer, good vibes, healing juju.... my way wouldja?


PS - If you or a family member is struggling with pain medication dependency, there is help.  Email me:  I'll see if I can answer your questions or direct you to some help.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

PSS - this took a lot of bravery on my part to write and post.  Please don't judge me.  If you feel like you have something negative to say, go find somewhere else to say it.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  I try to be good people.



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cucina's, Chef Joey Ferran, good friends ....a perfect night!

Okay, so I rarely gush over restaurants or food for that matter.  (Skittles and Peanut Butter M&M's don't count) but once I found out that my nephew is now the head chef at Cucina's, I recommended, or demanded  - whatever, that we go there for our next Bonco/Family Home Evening dinner.

So this delightfully fun place is right smack dab in the Avenues of Salt Lake City.  If you are familiar with the Ave's (as the locals call them) you know it's gonna be a cool place with a fun vibe.  And yes, it is!

Debbi had gotten there first and she sent me a picture to let me know they were already taking care of her and that my beverage would also be waiting for me.
(Debbi's hot tea, while my diet coke was on the way)
(while she was waiting Deb took pictures of the food in the counter displays)

(and of the menu - a little blurry)

From the time we walked in, we had people taking care of us.  Joey emerged from the kitchen to come give me a hug and then talk to all of us at the table.  He gave recommendations and discussed some of the dishes.  As I watched him talking, I could see that this man was clearly in his element, knew exactly what he was doing and that we were NOT going to be disappointed.
(what a looker huh? Runs in the family)

I chose a tapa, a salad and a main entree!  And yes, I have decided to go vegetarian for the most part, but when I saw a filet on the menu, I knew I was going to break that rule for just this evening.

The excellent serving staff got our beverages going, and then began the appetizers coming out from the kitchen.  Some we had ordered and some complimentary from the chef so we could enjoy some of the different options he has to offer.

There were some breaded cheese sticks with a sauce to dip them in, and no I didn't taste them, but based on the sounds coming from my table mates, they were delicious!  Everyone was hooked and eagerly awaiting to taste all the wonderful and different things we ordered.

Another appetizer came out.  Small baby beets with fennel and other things that were complimenting everything that I wish I could remember,  but OH MY GOSH!  They were delicious!  I could have ordered a couple plates of those and made that a meal!

My yummy cauliflower appetizer came out next.  They were also paired with some cashews in a spicy sauce with some kick that was just perfect.  I began to think, how does one even know HOW or WHAT flavors perfectly compliment others?  I was seriously amazed.

My salad came next.  A kale, quinoa, pine nuts, and dried cherries in a light vinaigrette dressing.  Yes, again, I could have made a meal of this!  So yummy.  So, absolutely delicious.

Before I go any further, let's talk about presentation.  I watch enough of the Food Network to know that much of a the appeal of a dish will be the presentation.  Joey has that nailed down.  Everything looked as beautiful as it tasted.  And that is an understatement, I just don't really have the words to do him justice.

Before we get to my entree, let me insert that everything was perfectly timed as it came out from the kitchen.  My beverage was always fresh and the serving staff was outstanding.

My entree:  a beautiful filet perfectly prepared and cooked to the precise medium well.  Smashed baby red potato's (not mashed - big difference), asparagus and served all in a wine sauce that was the perfect combination.  It could not have been put together in any other better way.

After talking with everyone else at the table and seeing their satisfaction with their entree choices as well, I knew we had a hit on our hands.  I was hoping that Joey would get an opportunity to come out and chat again with us if for no other reason than we could compliment him, and let him how perfectly satisfied every one of us was with the food that had been prepared for us.

At some point I took a minute to use the powder room facilities and look around.  Such a cute and perfectly Avenues style place.  There was a room off to the side for private parties and I could picture a wedding luncheon or dinner being held there.   A patio on the west side was beautiful and would be a place I would love to enjoy a long dinner and just enjoy the sights of the city.

As you know, I do not drink alcohol, but I did peruse the backside of the menu and boy do these guys offer so many selections.  I was pleased to see that the majority of the beer offerings were local drafts.  I love seeing a small business owner supporting and offering other small business owners and giving them opportunities to include their drafts.  For those of my friends who love a locally brewed beer, this would be the place to come and enjoy some. And....they cater!

As full as I was with all the food that I had experienced, dessert was not even a question.  The restaurant does have a local pasty chef who provides them with much of the dessert options but there are a couple that are made in house and of course, those were the options I wanted.  It was tough to decide between the creme brulee or the chocolate...... concoction (I can't remember what it was called, but it was something, besides the brulee, that Joey had his hands in making, so that was what I wanted. Knowing that my besties the Blands would order one of the other options, I went with the chocolate because we would share bites.  As besties do, you know.

Oh my heavens!  The chocolate, caramel, roasted almonds dish that came to me was HEAVENLY!  If you love chocolate - than this was it.  It was more of a dark chocolate but paired with the caramel, it balanced to the perfect taste of appeasing the sweet tooth in one, but not so sweet that you could only enjoy one bite.  It was perfectly sized as well.

Then I got to dip my spoon into the creme brulee.  Oh my heavens!  (yes I know I am repeating myself - oh well). It was no ordinary creme brulee, it was an orange ginger brulee.  So amazingly delicious.  I wish I had ordered both and thrown calories out the window.  They were simply divine!

As our experience wrapped up to a close, Joey came out, let me hug him AGAIN, and then shared with me some of his ideas with the menu, the seasonal changes, his ideas going forward, etc.  He noted that he has many regulars that come in several times a week and even though he has been there for a short time, he is developing some wonderful relationships with his customers.

As I thought about it, I realized that it's kind of a lost art.  The art of the small, neighborhood restaurant with familiar staff and patrons that develop friendships that make the entire experience much more than just a meal.  It made me think of Little Italy in Boston.  The small restaurants owned by usually family, with home cooked food that become regular places for people to enjoy a meal, a glass of wine (if they choose) and relax with friends.   I loved it.  No pager, no call ahead seating, no waiting in line......  just enjoying a perfect meal all in the calm atmosphere with good friends and great staff.  I don't want to lose that art in the hustle and bustle of a busy world of chain restaurants.

I am so proud of Joey and all his accomplishments.  I asked him how he could possibly think of all the ways to combine flavors that would perfectly compliment each other.  His answer was a simple one:  "Experience".  And yes, he does have quite the experience.  And let's not forget the innate, God given talent to have the taste buds and the artistic nature to put it together in a beautiful plate of perfectly prepared wonderfulness.

So yes, I have gushed.  And then gushed some more, but there is no other way for me to describe what a wonderful experience I, and my FHE besties, had Monday night.  Cucina's is now at the top of my list of favorite's.  I would like to say it's not just because of Joey, but it is indeed BECAUSE of Joey.  His experience, his dishes, his art that he chooses to share with the rest of us.  That art is what makes it my favorite.  He is indeed a very talented chef.  And I am lucky enough to be his favorite Aunt (lol) (but seriously).

So, if you are in the SLC area and looking for something different, creative, has an awesome vibe, local drafts, and outstanding food, then Cucina's is for you.  I imagine that reservations are preferred for large groups and for weekends, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this as any other feel than a comfortable, low-key, cool as ever place.

And you can always tell the chef that Aunt M sent you.

*I wanted to provide a link to the restaurant home page, but it hasn't been updated yet and until it has been, just take my word for it.  Go, enjoy and you're welcome.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cystic Fibrosis, Miracles, and Family

A wonderful surprise in my Facebook newsfeed.  My sweet kids didn't tell us that they had been interviewed for an article in an LDS magazine but it's worth sharing here.

If you doubt there is a God.
If you doubt that miracles still happen.
If you doubt that even if there is a God, that He knows you and knows your righteous desires?

Doubt no more.  He does.  He loves you, He knows you, and just as when a sparrow falls, He notices and understands you.

This I know.  I know it as well as I take my next breath.  I know it.

Link to the article HERE.

**Can't wait for September and getting my arms around this little miracle man on the way.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why I am back to posting on my blog and some random LDS Conference thoughts

First of all, I haven't posted in awhile.  Blogging it seems has been long gone and ignored with the advent of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I totally get it.  I am immensely grateful for the amazing friendships that began because of blogging - without those people in my life, it would be less fulfilling, so blogging certainly had it's purpose for me back in the day.  I also began it as a way to journal my life and if in the process any of my posts were enjoyable to others, made them laugh, made them think, or inspired them, then great.  The main motive was to journal.

And then I stopped.

I got to connect with the same friends (and more) on FB, IG and Twitter and I completely ignored my journal.

Shame on me.

Splenda Daddy and I attended a Family Research clinic a few weeks ago and the keynote speaker made a statement (now I can't find my notes) that resonated with me.  It was something to the effect that it was important for us to leave our own written legacy.  She talked of how much people get excited when they find stories or journal entries from their ancestors and she reminded us that if we don't provide these from ourselves, our children, their children, their children and so on, will miss that same joy.  I made a mental note that I would come back to my blog.  Dust it off and begin posting.  Purely for the purpose of journaling.  Again, I'll keep it public so that if it amuses or inspires someone else, great, if not - okay.   If I feel prompted that I need to be proactive in sharing it, then I can always link it to FB but I don't have to.  Make sense?

This weekend was the semi annual General Conference of the church I belong to: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (better known as Mormon's - link is here if you need more clarification)

As a kid, I loved when conference weekend was here because that meant not actually going to church on Sunday, but instead watching it on tv in our jammies.  At the same time, I felt like it draaaagggggeeed on forever and I got SO bored.  I would love it when my mom would fall asleep and I could quietly do something else.

Now as an adult with a stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and wanting to learn more, I LOVE conference weekend.  The Saturday previous, we have a session just for Women and young women ages 8 and up.  Then this weekend, two sessions on Saturday, a session on Saturday night for men and boys ages 12 and up (Priesthood Session) and then on Sunday, two more sessions.  I know it sounds like a lot and as a kid it felt like it was sooooooo long.   Until a few years ago, I wasn't giving the Saturday sessions the attention I should have either.  I would still run, or do chores around the house, or plan things with friends or run errands. The last couple of sessions, I have felt compelled to be more respectful and even though I can always go on line and watch a session or a talk later, I wanted to be obedient in the way that I felt I should (not judging anyone else who does things differently) and ignore doing things during the Saturday sessions, and actually sit and watch them live.  Funny as an adult I now feel like I want Conference to last longer.  I want more of it!
Amazing what maturity can do eh?

In the past few years or so, I have been taking notes during the sessions.  Jotting down quotes or ideas or thoughts that come to me as someone is speaking.  The bad thing is, I don't always remember to write down who said what.  But for me, that is less important than what I felt inspired to jot down. I suppose if it's that important for someone to track down the exact person who said what, they or I, can always go back and rewatch conference.

So my notes and thoughts in no particular order:

"We've come to deepen our discipleship" (open prayer in Saturday session given by Linda K Burton.  Man that really set the tone for me.  Yes.  I want to deepen my discipleship.  This is the path I have chosen, I want to walk it straight, narrow and unflinchingly.  Deepen my discipleship indeed.

"You can have what you want, or you have something better"  My thoughts went to my health issues.  It seems the past two years have been nothing but pain, surgeries, more pain, looking for answers to relieve it and several different attempts with different injections.  What I want is no more pain.  What I want is to get back to the life I had.  Running every day, working at the running store, racing as much as I could afford, picking up my grandgirls, and being able to play with them the way I want to.
However, the Lord knows what lies ahead.  Perhaps, this inconvenience in my life right now with my neck and back is merely a bump in the road to something better.  And I want something better, so I can handle this right now.

"The Lord is in the details"  Amen.  I see it every day in my life and the lives of those I love.

"Don't be a victim twice by not forgiving"  I loved this talk on forgiveness.  If you think about it, there is ALWAYS someone in your life that you need to extend the mercy of forgiveness too.  Let it go man.  Loved the "don't be a victim twice".

Not an exact quote but it was something about:  Don't/Can't be defined by the worse thing we've ever done.  I think this applies to ourselves and to others.   Let go of the mistakes we've made in the past, move forward and let others do the same.

"Genuine concern should be for the success of others"  Truly learning how to be happy for others and not allowing envy or jealousy to creep in, is great advice.  Working on that one.

"Stop causing the Lord further grief"  This one hit me hard.  Daily, I know that I am screwing up in some way and giving the Lord more grief, but I also thought of this on a world basis.  Has our societies in every region of the world become so wicked that the Lord grieves over us?  I think so.  I can't change the world, but I can change my own behavior and I can try harder each day to make sure my actions or thoughts don't add "further grief"

"The greater the distance between the giver to the receiver, the more the receiver gains a sense of entitlement"  Wow.  At first, I thought of it politically.  And then realized that it was highly doubtful the speaker meant for it to be taken that way.  Instead I listened more carefully as he used it to describe all that the Savior has done and given us, and if we become distant from Him, soon we may grow to feel entitled to His gift.  I took it as a reminder to me to stay closer to the Lord who has given me so much.

In the second session on Saturday, they begin with the business of the church.  Such as sustaining the leaders and a general accounting for funds and noting the number of missions, temples, missionaries, and members.  As they began with the sustaining of the President and his counselors, one has the opportunity to raise their right hand in a show of sustainment or can openly oppose.  Only one time when I was growing up, do I remember any opposition.  And it was from women and I can't even remember why.  Other than that, there has been unanimous consent in the conference center and for those of us that raise our hand to the square while watching at home or listening in the car.  However, the past several sessions, there have been people in the conference center who openly shout "NO" when asked for any opposing.  I can't even describe how it makes my heart hurt.  At the same time, I am grateful that we are free to speak our minds in the church, ask questions etc. yet it bothered me that someone who doesn't believe, or has an anti-LDS agenda in mind, or who just wants to be contentious would go to the effort of getting a ticket to the conference center for that session (which are hard to come by) just simply to temporarily bring a spirit of contention.  To say to those men who work so hard on behalf of a church of over a million members, NO I don't sustain you.  Why not just stay home?  Why not write a letter spelling out your differences and asking for enlightenment if you want it?  If the church isn't for you, why not just leave and go on with your life?  It felt unfair for those people who missed out on that session in the conference center so that person(s) could be contrary.  But then again, the thought of the invaluable gift we have of free agency.  The person at the pulpit noted the "No's" and encouraged those persons to meet with their stake presidents.  Which I doubt will happen but they did have the right to say what they felt and I am grateful we have that.  Again, it hurt my heart but sometimes the actions of others will do that to us.  In the end, we have the wonderful gift of free agency, and one day I may have to stand up and say YES in a crowd of people who have NO on their minds.  I will be grateful that I can.

"The restoration of the church began with the youth.  Joseph Smith asking a question"  My ears perk up any time someone speaks of the youth.  With my new calling of Young Women's president in my ward (parish) I feel a strong responsibility to do the right things for the young women in my stewardship.  I'm always seeking inspiration so when someone brings up the youth - I sit up a little straighter.  Yes, the church was founded by a young man.  Dang, if the youth of today are not the strongest I have ever seen.  Please don't ever underestimate the power for good that can come from a young man or young woman.

"Knowing someones name can make a difference"  I am horrible at names!  I frequently even call some of my young women by their sister's name or even throw in a mom's name.  I will work harder on this for sure!  Having someone know you by name DOES make a difference.  It makes you a real person!  The Lord knows my name. That makes a difference.

"Reach out to those youth are 'behind the fence'"  Again, as a YW leader my thoughts went to the girls I have that are hanging out on the other side of the fence.  I make efforts to reach out, but there is more I can do.

"Don't delay going to the rescue. Never give up. 'How great will be you joy if you bring but one soul unto Christ; No matter our age, we are called to go to the rescue"   Loved this whole talk.  There are friends, family members, strangers who are, in their hearts, wanting more in their lives.  It's our responsibility to share the gospel and invite them to enjoy the blessings of it.  And again, they have that beautiful gift of free agency to either accept it or not, but ours is the responsibility to offer.  And what about those who died without the opportunity to choose the gospel?  That's what our temple work is for.  Just because we do the ordinances in the temple for someone who has passed on they are still free to choose it or not.  What a wonderful gift!  It's just our responsibility as members to offer the gospel to everyone.  Living and dead.

"Why did the restoration have to happen here in the US instead of someplace like Brazil?"  OH MY GOSH!!!  I loved that question, since I have often had the same one rolling around in my head.  If one reads the Book of Mormon and accepts it as scripture, then one must also accept the prophet Joseph Smith.  When it comes to his translation of the Book of Mormon, he was perfect in that assignment,  That leads one then to understand why the restoration had to take place here in the US, because the plates on which the scriptures were engraven on, were hidden here.  So yeah, that makes sense to me.  Loved his talk and his testimony that answered my questions and strengthened mine.

"ongoing cleansing of sin by the power of the Holy Ghost"  that happens by taking the Sacrament each week.  What a blessing that we have that opportunity to start fresh each week. "to sanctify is to make pure and holy"  During the blessing on the Sacrament, it is blessed to sanctify.  We then, when we partake, can become sanctified.  Love those thoughts.

"Family Council is different than Family Hone Evening"  Well, we sucked at both when raising our boys and sometimes I really beat myself up over that when they were younger.  However, one thing that was super important to Splenda Daddy was that everyone was at the dinner table.  Every night.  It didn't matter if you already had dinner, you came and sat with us anyway.  Talking was done. Calendering was taken care of.  I am going to have to say that was our attempt at a Family Council and Family Home Evening :)   I know families are busy but if it wasn't important, it wouldn't have been discussed.  Even with just Splenda Daddy and me, we can do a Family Council together.  Let me rephrase:  we SHOULD do Family Council together.

Speaking to couples "Never retire without kneeling together, holding hands, and saying your prayers"  I know that when Splenda and I have been obedient to that counsel, it has made a difference.  Yet another SHOULD that I am adding to our list.

The church of Latter Day Saints is now 15.6 million members.  That's a lot of people.  A lot.  Can we get to 16 million by next conference?  Strange that I feel a kinship with 15.6 million people, most of whom I've never met.  That's how the gospel of  Jesus Christ works.  Brings strangers together.

"Choose the harder right than the easier wrong"  President Monsen.  Such a powerful statement.  And while the prophet didn't look the exact picture of health, his voice was strong and steady as he said thees words.  Loved it.

"Get the gospel from our heads into our hearts"  So true. As members we can get caught up in doing the things that we do without letting the purpose or the meanings sink into our hearts.  Something I really want for my Young Women too.

"Your greatest challenge is the ever present 'great and spacious building;"  Yup.  The world around us and all it's distractions is our greatest challenge.  So many things to do other than the things that we SHOULD be doing.

"Learn - attend the temple;  Listen to my words - heed the prophet; Walk in the meekness of my Spirit"    Learn,Listen,Walk.  I felt like he gave me a simple three step recipe since we all know I can't cook and if something involves more than about 3 instructions, I'm a lost cause.
Learn all I can about the gospel - there is always more to learn
Listen to the prophet and the disciples - they are constantly giving guidance
Walk - now go and do the things you learn.

"Challenges are an indication of the Lord's trust in you"  Wow.  Imagine how I felt about that one.  I think of my challenges but then I also thought of the many challenges of dear family members and friends and felt peace in the fact that the Lord must trust us and that I don't want to disappoint or lose that trust from Him.

Mirrors - see yourself in the temple.  I think me and every other Young Women leader had the same idea for an activity.

"Obedience is the lifeline"  Yes.  Yes it is.  And when I feel like I'm sinking, I have to reevaluate how hard I am hanging onto the lifeline.

I was touched by the brother who with tears and a choked up voice prayed for the health of our prophet during the opening prayer of the last session.

Got a reminder that only the prophet receives revelation for the church at large.  We can receive inspiration and revelation for ourselves, and those in our stewardship, but that's it.  I cannot receive revelation for my neighbor or for the church itself.

Encourage our family to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I was reminded of something that I once heard in a church meeting.  The best thing we can do for our children is to pray that they will be worthy of the Holy Ghost to be their companion and that they would heed his promptings.  Bottom line, if we are in tune with the Spirit, and follow his promptings, we can't go wrong.  How lucky are we that we can have the Holy Ghost with us at all times.

"Open your heart to the Book of Mormon"  I love the Book of Mormon and loved this reminder.

After a particular moving talk about helping refugees in our lives, President Uchtdorf got up to announce the rest of the session.  To see the tears running down his face and see his emotion after that talk, knowing his own life story of being a refugee, was one of the better moments of conference.  It was like a silent testimony and "amen" to the counsel that was just given to us.  Now my challenge is to see how in my realm of my ability, I can aid refugees.  Interesting that when that particular speaker began, he clearly stated his comments had nothing to do with any particular political leaning.  Of course some people ignored his counsel and read way more into it than I believe he intended.

"He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain"   I'm counting on that one.  I am putting my faith in that.  What a wonderful thought.

"We need the temple more than anything else"  That is a pretty bold statement and I will add my own Amen to it.  I love the temple and I love the blessings that it brings into my life and the life of my children.

"Everything we do in the church leads us to the temple"  More emphasis on temples (at least in my notes)  As I think about it - yes.  Everything we do leads us to the temple.  Everything we ever need for now and eternity is found in the temple.

"We get credit for trying even if we don't succeed"  Elder Holland.  I think I have seen more facebook meme's with this quote than any other.  Obviously, it meant a lot to others as well.  We try, we try.  In everything, Our parenting, our jobs, our hobbies, and most importantly in our efforts to be obedient and a better disciple of Jesus Christ.  And sometimes we fail.  We lose our cool with one of our children, we make a costly mistake for our employer, we don't train and miss a goal in our hobby, and most importantly, we have days that we are less than the best disciple.  Maybe we got caught up in some gossip, we don't read our scriptures, or skip our prayers, we decide to spend more time on the computer instead of using that window of time to go to the temple, we fail to reach out to someone who is on our minds, but using some excuse of another.  We try every day, but there are times when we are going to make mistakes.  It is nice to be reminded that we still get credit when we at least try.  Now the important thing is to evaluate your own "try".  Don't justify anything away saying, oh well, I'll get credit because I "tried".  We know when we are really "trying" and when we are not.   That is the credit to which I feel like Elder Holland meant.

"The Lord blesses those who try to improve"  Elder Holland.  I could put his whole talk here, it was that good.  Again, encouragement to so many members who continually try and still face many challenges and heartaches.  The Lord knows our effort and He will bless us accordingly.

I had one more note but I can't read my own handwriting now.  I think I was crying too hard during Elder Holland's talk and was trying to write fast and now I can only assume that it was an important thought to me at the time and that's enough.
(I tell you, when he speaks, I feel like he is looking at me and talking just to me)

And just like that conference was over.  It felt like Christmas morning after the last present has been unwrapped.  Like a kid, I was left wanting more.  Lucky for me, I still have the Priesthood session to watch and with the blessing of technology, I can go back and listen/watch again and again the talks that I feel like were just for me (which is like- all of the them) and I can use them to double down my own personal efforts for now at being a better disciple.


PS - I love writing again - even though I'm not that great, and I promise that just because I am back to posting on my blog  - not every post will be this loooooonnnnggggg.

PSS - If you are interested in any of the LDS General Conference, you can find the talks here

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Catmull's 2015

What a year 2015 has been!  Lot's of adventures, family fun and a new addition to the family.

Let's start with Corb and Kar:
They bought a beautiful new townhome not far from us.  Okay, like 6 miles, not that I've run there or anything.  Kar is still working at the dentist office, She trained all year and ran her first marathon in St George this past October.  She keeps busy being a wonderful mother to Chloee. 
Corb is going to school at Westminster and works part time at the Veteran's center there on campus.  He's bustin out his credit hours all while maintaining a 4.0  
Chloee turned 8, got baptized loves school and had an early Christmas present!  The newest furbaby in our family is Millie - an eight week old shorkie that seriously is the cutest little thing ever!  Chloee is going to be a great pet owner, they fell instantly in love.

Luke and Mindy:
Luke is still working at his same job, he continues to do well.  He has had the chance to travel a bit with his job this year and been to some places in the United States that he had never been to.  
Mindy is working for the Intermountain Donor Services and doing fabulous.  She seriously has the dream job.  She gets to be right in the action of actually saving lives.  Be an organ donor!  She also began a new drug just approved by the FDA for use in Cystic Fibrosis patients with a specific mutation.  So far, she is doing great on it.  Praying that it continues to work as it should and it leads her to feeling much, much better more of the time.  She is certainly a warrior!  She also ran her first marathon this year in St George.  She did amazing and beat us all!
They completed all the work to post their adoption profile and now just anxiously awaiting the sweet little one that belongs to their family to come.  If you know of anyone looking to place a baby for adoption,  here is the link to their profile page, feel free to share it.  Every day, my prayers include a plea for them to be blessed with a baby.

Preston and Montana:
Preston is still working for Coke.  He was promoted to salesman which is a nice step up, but super stressful.  His work phone never seems to stop.  Hoping once the holidays end, things will slow down a little bit for him.  He is also working for Primerica working on getting licensed as a financial advisor for life insurance as a part time side job.  He is great with trying to help people get the right policy for them.  He has some great goals ahead and is working hard.
Montana is blessed to be home with Addy.  She watches another little girl a couple days a week but Addy keeps her hopping.  She's had her share of health issues this year, but she's a tough cookie, you'd never know when she didn't feel well, and now is on the upswing.
Addy turned two and is cuter than ever.  She is working on her speech, but let's face it, at this age, anything they do or say is adorable.  At least to us.

Splenda and mCat:
Splenda has had a great year at work.  He was recently promoted and is now the Executive Director of Planning at his employer.  His additional duties certainly keep him busy and it's not unusual to find him on his laptop or at his "command center" in the office at home catching up on emails and projects.  Grateful that we are empty nesters so that he has the time to devote to his responsibilites there.  He re-did our front lawn and it looks beautiful.  Well, it did before the snow came.  He also had some additional concrete poured so that our front yard and driveway look much better. When he finds time to relax it's usually playing with the grandkids, watching sports and hanging out with the kids.
mCat has had a rough year.  The neck issues that I have been dealing with for more than two years now is hopefully resolved.  I had surgery in March to remove a bulging disc and bone spur.  That surgery was done by going in through the front of my neck.  However, there was a bone spur in the back of my neck that couldn't be accessed that way.  We were hoping that since it was small, the irritated nerves that were causing pain would calm down and everything would be okay.  By November, it was clear that it wasn't happening like that, I had another surgery two weeks ago.  This time, the surgeon went through the back of my neck and removed the bone spur.  After he finished he told Splenda that it was a good thing we had done the surgery since things were worse in there than the MRI originally showed.  Hopefully, this is it for surgeries.  The nerves are still quite irritated and I have some days where there is a lot of pain, but after time, this will all calm down.  
In March, I also had a small tear in my rotator cuff.  Sadly, both issues are caused by repetitive motions and movement.  The exact things I do for work at Wasatch Running.  Both my shoulder doc and my neck surgeon requested that I end that kind of work. So, broken hearted, I have to report that I no longer get to work my dream job.  I desperately miss my WRC family and customers, but it's pretty clear that my old body just can't do it anymore.   Surgeon also eliminated cycling and shoulder doc eliminated swimming so my Ironman training went into the crapper too.  Silly surgeon even told me to stop running.  I had decided to reconcile myself to it, but after running the St George marathon with my girls, I realized that I can never give it up.  Instead, I'll moderate how much running I do, and stick to my favorite races but maybe not more than one marathon a year.  Kudos to my surgeon for understanding me and only calling me crazy once or twice.  I now keep busy with serving at the temple, church callings and my family.  I couldn't be happier.
We went on a cruise earlier this year in February and enjoyed the Western Carribean.  We loved it so much that we booked another one for Feb 2016.  We have become a huge fan of crusiing.

So that's a wrap!  The down and dirty of 2015 for our fam.

Now wishing all our family and friends 
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and much love and peace for 2016.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A little perspective

Wow.  I can hardly find words to describe the humbling experience I had today.  Where to start?

First off, you have to watch this video.... and then come back.  I'll wait.

Just some quick background.  Brian is from NewYork but moved to Utah about 4 years ago to enjoy all the wonderful outdoor things that we have to offer.  This past June he was mountain biking when he had his accident and is currently paralyzed from the chest down.

Here's the deal. I have a good friend that I have "known" for quite some time.  We met through blogging (back in the day was blogging was cool) and have stayed in touch via facebook, email etc.

He contacted me and another mutual friend, Abe, here in the SLC valley and asked if we would be willing to help him out.  He is a family friend of Brian's and wanted to do something special for him.  He hatched a plan to bring him some cheer and motivation.  This dear friend sent money to both Abe and I with some instructions.  Abe was to have his 1st grade class write some get well cards.  I was to find a pair of cool running shoes that Brian could have to look at and motivate him in his therapy.

When the mail came, and the funds were in my hand you bet your knickers I toddled off to Wasatch Running Center.  With Darrell's help, we were able to get him some shoes, shorts, socks, a water bottle, and a WRC shirt and hat.  I was particular on the shoes.  They had to be red.  Knowing that he was a Utah transplant I had hoped that some Ute blood had gotten to him and that he was a fan.  The shoes are sick! (that means cool for you old people)

This evening Abe and I made the jaunt up to the hospital to meet Brian and to give him his presents that our mutual friend had provided.

Can I just tell you that he is quite possibly the coolest person I have ever met?  Upbeat, happy, cheerful, and inspiring.  He's quite sure that he will get his legs back.  In fact, by the time, we left, he had me convinced.  Just seeing the progress he has already made, and watching his grit and determination - the dude will meet and exceed his goals.  He's someone that while I only spent about 30-40 minutes with, will remember the rest of my life.  His amazing spirit is etched in my brain and on my heart.  Our mutual friend who provided this opportunity?  Has my undying loyalty and love.  He is truly one of the best human beings that I have ever not met in real life.
The shoes got a little cut off, so his mom retook the pic

There they are - Mizuno's.  And the coolest part of it all?  His new wheelchair that he ordered with the Drew Brees donation will match the shoes.  Very cool!

Of course, we had to include Ellen and Drew in our pic

As most people know, I've been dealing with my own health issues and some chronic pain for over a year now.  I had neck surgery in March, still dealing with some pain and as of Tuesday, there was discussion of perhaps another surgery.  It's been a year of a lot of miserable day's.  More pain than not, and a roller coaster of emotions.  However, when I was getting ready this morning and again grumbling about my pain, I had a moment of clarity:  At least I could feel my pain.  I am standing up, I am walking, I can run (even if my doc doesn't want me to).  I can shower by myself, I can play with my granddaughters, I can do just about anything I want to.  And while pain least I can feel it.

Perspective indeed.

Best wishes in continued progress and improvement to Brian.  I plan on following him closely.
Thanks Abe for coming with me - it was a great experience.
To my anonymous mutual friend - I love you.  More than a fat kid loves cake.  Thank you.  There are not enough words to express my gratitude.
To my Heavenly Father - thank you for providing some clarity and perspective to me.  I needed it.

PS - If you ever doubted that God puts people in your lives for reasons you may not understand right away?  Stop doubting.  Heavenly Father knows exactly who you are, what you need, and provides it all for you in sometimes the most unexpected ways.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

St George Marathon 2015 - The year of first's and some spiritual thoughts

*blows dust off of blog*

Oh hey..... *looks around*  this place looks vaguely familiar.  It seems that posting on one's blog is a thing of the past.  Unless of course you're some big time writer and you make money and whatnot.  I originally started this little piece of the blog'o'sphere to capture my thoughts and create a journal.  And then all of a sudden I stopped.  Shame on me.

Soooo..... St George Marathon Two Thousand Fifteen!  I really have to gather my thoughts and get them down before they're lost in the wind (like the dust I just blew off).  Disclaimer.....I'm tired and hurting a little bit so my grammer isn't going to be perfect, I might be rambling a bit.

This is my fifth SGM and sadly, I went into it thinking it might be my last.  But I'll get back to that.
This was my daughter-in-love's FIRST marathon's. (marathon? marathons? - I don't know the right way).  Mindy and Karalee are both runners and had both done half marathon's before but this was their first full monty.  The real deal.  The big kahuna.  They both began training, and all three of us had our own set of challenges that we faced but nevertheless, when word came down that all three of us were in, Splenda Daddy booked a condo and we decided to make it family vacay.

We were able to get the whole crew into a condo Thursday evening.  It was beautiful!  The view was amazing, it was large with a beautiful deck and some grass to throw a frisbee and football around on.  Perfect for us.
the view from our balcony

Some shots Splenda too while in Snow Canyon

Don't try to use our pool man

Another view from the balcony 

This mornings sunrise from my bedroom

So freakin pretty

Just wearing Mimi's flip flops and wishing she could go out on the balconey

Thursday night was fairly lowkey, just dinner at Pacho and Lefty's and then while everyone else hung out, I went to bed exhausted and with a sore back and neck.
Waiting for dinner

Sick of being in the freakin car!

Pancho and Lefty's new family favorite in Dixie

Friday morning, the girls and I headed out for a quick 20 minute shake out run and then back to shower and get ready.
Splenda dropped me off at the expo and I met up with my WRC family for a little work.  I LOVE working the expo's.  LOVE them!  Sure, they can be long day's and a lot of standing on cement but I love the fact that I get to see so many of my running friends and family.
Mindi !!

Carl !!  (seriously, this guy gives the best hugs)

Melia !!

I swear to you that me and Vince must be siblings seperated at birth.  Both screwing up the picture.
And DUDE!  He spoiled me freakin rotten with treats!  I KNOW they gave me super powers!  Thanks to the Massa clan!

Once I was done there, the girls came and we picked up our packets, got our runner series shirts and headed back to the condo.  Early pizza dinner and then again, I was the first to go to bed.  I knew how early the 3:45am alarm would be and I also know that I'm older and need more rest.  Oh and my back and neck were hurting so laying down was for the best.

Indeed, the alarm sounded.  We quietly got ready and headed over to the bus loading area where we met up with the rest of our "crew".  It's a pretty remarkable thing that Mindy is able to run, and even more remarkable that she was about to undertake a full marathon.  Brenda helped me get some shirts made and we created a "Team Minderella".  They turned out awesome and I'm so grateful for all those who wore them.  We got a lot of questions and raised a lot of awareness (winning).
Ryan, Karalee, Mindy, me, Mindi, Ellen, Brenda and Candice
Team Minderella (just missing Joni - next race)

Running to Cure CF

We waited until the end of the line for the buses and literally loaded on the very last one.  For me, it was perfect.  We got to the top, left our drop bags, got the porta potties taken care of, national anthem and then we lined up in the corral and was off!

Now originally, us three girls had talked about staying together.  Mindy and Karalee had done so many of their training runs together, that we thought it was be awesome to finish together.  Cross that line holding hands.  But isn't there some saying about the best laid plans?

We started together and stayed together for the first couple of miles but as any runner will tell you, paces are so individual and unique.  Even friends who often start and finish together will have moments of separation, it's just how it works.  Karalee struggles with side aches.  EVERY STINKIN TIME!  So frustrating for her.  So the harder she would push, the more of a side stitch she would get.  She slowly was dropping back to where it was more comfortable for her.  Now what?  We wanted to stick together but our paces were just not the same.

As we moved along, the miles seem to fly by.  I was plotting out how I could cross the finish line with both of the girls at different times when Mindy finally spoke up. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't know if I'll ever be healthy enough to run a full marathon again, I'd like to see what I can do"

Well that decided it.  She was right.  We weren't meant to all stay together, because just as life is individual so is a marathon.  You have to run your own race.  She was right about the health.  She has Cystic Fibrosis and while she is pretty healthy and strong right now and is doing well, you just never know with that stupid disease.  I hope this won't be her only one, but it could.  She really should just go all out and see what she can do.  It's her race.

The same was true for Karalee.  It's HER race as well.  She needs to run it the way she wants to run it and not for anyone else.

Me?  I was just so freaking happy to be running that seriously the endorphins hid all the back and neck pain and I just ran for the sheer joy of running.  I was taking in every single step with happiness and gratitude.  Funnest moment was when Brock (one of my extra 'sons') came up behind me with a sweaty hug!  Best.Hug.Ever! I had no idea he was going to be there and just seeing his smile and hearing him talk for a few minutes was the perfect boost!

Mindy and I were making great time as we came into mile 16 where Splenda Daddy was waiting with mine and Kar's bottles of UCan (fuel for the second half).  I told Mindy to go on ahead.  I told Splenda to hurry to the finish line because Mind's was coming in fast and I waited with Kar's Ucan.
So, SO happy!

As I waited, I walked/ran backwards on the course to find her and looked at all the runners as they passed by me.  I watched their faces, their bodies, wondering what their stories were.  One by one, I cheered on fellow Team Minderella friends as they cruised by full of gratitude for their support and happy that they all looked so strong!

I finally found Karalee and she slowed down to walk and talk for a minute.  I explained the plan for Mindy and that I was going to try and catch her, run in until just before the chip pad and then stop and come back for her (Kar) and cross the line with her.  There was some "You don't have to" and from me some "But I really want to" and then she was all about focusing and trying to keep her side aches away.  I wished her luck and away I went to try and catch Mindy.

If you've ever been running for a long time (16 miles - 17 by now), stop, and then start up again, you know that it's more painful to start up again than if you had not stopped.  It took me a few strides to get past the pain in my quads and then surprisingly I was able to lock onto a fast (for me) pace.  Seriously, I'm looking at my Garmin at mile 10 and see a 8:27 pace and wondering what in the crap was happening!  I'm never that fast that far into it.  Again, I credit it all to the endorphins (and maybe the ibuprofen).

I cruised along until mile 24 when it became quiet obvious that I would never catch Mindy.  In fact, I hadn't seen most of the rest of Team Minderella.  I knew Kar was frustrated so I turned on my phone, texted Splenda Daddy to tell him where I was and that I was going to wait for Kar and come in with her.  I turned my phone back off and again ran/walked backwards on the course to find her.

Mile 24 is an interesting place to watch marathoners.  Some were in so much pain that I hurt just watching them.  Many were walking.  Some were limping.  One man was shuffling with his whole body tilted to one side.  He was obviously gutting through some serious pain.  I watched the blind runner that was tethered to a sight runner finally slow down to walk a little bit.  My admiration for her was so immense that I got a little choked up.  And then I started to worry that I had been runner watching so much that I actually missed Karalee.  I finally turned on my phone to see that Corbin had sent me a text WAY earlier saying that Kar wanted to finish on her own and that I should just come in.  Okay doke!

I turned around, willed my quads to cooperate and started running again.  Amazingly, back at a pace that I don't ever see at mile 24, 25 and 26.  I couldn't believe my eyes looking at my Garmin, but more importantly, I couldn't believe how I felt.  Holy Smokes!  I felt good.  I felt like I could keep running.  I felt like I could fly!

As I came into the chute, I heard and saw Splenda cheering for me.  A few feet further and I saw Corbin and Chloee cheering for me.   Another few more feet and there was Preston, Montana and Addy cheering for me!  Oh, what a feeling!
Cute Chloee waiting and watching for her Momma

I crossed the line.Turned off my Garmin and thought - well.  This is a first.  Not only did I take longer than I have ever taken, but I ran further than I have ever run.  Huh.

Mindy was right there to greet me and when I heard she finished in 4:19 I about peed my pants!  Holy smokes!  That's like my own PR time for that course!  She killed it.  Out of all of Team Minderella, the sick girl beat us all!  I am so proud of her!

Yeah, I licked her face.  I needed some salt!

We stayed right there at the finish line waiting for Kar and before I knew it she was in!  She was able to cross the line, go to Corb and Chlo before she came to us.  There were tears and hugs of happiness.  She did it!!  All those months of training, the blisters, the early mornings, the horrible side aches, it all payed off and she did it!  As a mom - my heart was seriously bursting with happiness and righteous pride.
Corb and Chloee made her a cute poster!

I grabbed a man Coke from the cart and we headed out to meet our family outside the runner's area.  I was out of my shoes as quickly as possible.  I knew I had some serious blisters going on, I had felt them since mile 10.  I quickly said hi to my WRC family at the Grand Slam tent, hugged and congratulated some runner friends (it felt like every time I turned around there was someone else I knew, I loved, and I wanted to hug).

Catmull's and Luetkemeyer's

Mindy's pace and splits

The little member of Team Minderella


Then it was time to bail.  We'd been out there for a long time and all any of us wanted was to lay down.

Home to the condo, a shared ice bath and then basking in glow of it all.
Misery loves company when it comes to ice baths
I absolutely love this picture.

As always, my deepest thoughts come while running.  Life lessons, spiritual lessons.....all come when it's me and the pavement (sometimes even surrounded by 7500 of my closest friends).

As much as me and the girls wanted to hold hands and cross the finish line together, it wasn't meant to be. Everyone's journey is different and unique.  Each of us had our own challenges along the course that were individually ours.  Yes we were traveling the same road, with the same end goal and were going to be reunited at the finish, but the experiences were and needed to be different.

As a devout Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints), I firmly believe in an afterlife.  That when we are done here on earth, we are reunited with our family, friends and loved ones and continue those relationships into eternity.  Each of us have different experiences in life, but we are all trying to get to the same place.  Some get there faster than others.  Some experience more pain and suffering.  Some have to slow down a little bit, be more careful, and take a slower pace.  BUT, we all get to the same finish line.  And while we were separated for hours I knew that I had family waiting for me and that we would all be reunited when we all were finished.  No one was going to leave until everyone was safely in.  I watched a variety of runners.  Hundreds of them.  Many of them multiple times in my passing and going.  Each person battling something different.  Some having a seemingly easier time than others, some with obvious struggle.  Mile 24 is a great equalizer.  It's hard.  Your body cries for relief.  You want to be done.  You don't think you can carry on or take it any longer.  And dig a little deeper for something you didn't realize you had in you, and you find yourself still moving forward.  One step at a time.  We will all have/face/deal with trials, struggles and those are oftentimes equalizers for us as a people.  We all will have to dig deep at some point in our life, and find the necessary will to keep moving.  As I came into the chute I heard so much cheering, but when I heard MY husband, and MY kids......that's when the real reward paid off.  That's when the tears come, the pain melts away, and nothing but pure joy and ecstasy overwhelm me.  I know without a doubt it will be the same when it's my time to pass to the other side.  I will hear my loved ones cheering me in, waiting with hugs and congratulations for surviving this tough life, for staying faithful, and for finding the will - when it was the hardest- to keep moving forward.

No this won't be my last marathon despite what two of my doctor's have told me.  I've been told to give it up, no more running.  And then on the otherhand, I've had two other doctor's tell me it's okay to run and that I'm better off if I do.  Two months ago, I was in despair and had resigned myself to giving up this part of my identity.  After this weekend, and my 28.46 miles?  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  I might scale back and ease up a bit (in fact, just between you and me, I think my lack of training is what made it so great), but I.Will.Keep.Running.

Huge thanks to all my running friends and family!  Huge thank you to my Team Minderella teammates.  We will race again together!  Huge thanks to my family for their amazing support.  Most of all, immense gratitude and thanks to my Heavenly Father for gifting me with this body that while is imperfect, is enough.  It is enough for me.

Finally - So so SO proud of my girls!  Karalee and Mindy, you amaze me.  You inspire me.  Your righteous influences make me want to be a better person.  Thank you for taking this journey.  I simply am so happy for you I could just......just......cry!

And just one more of the littlest team member

PS - hopefully the girls will each get a chance to post their own thoughts about this weekend on their own blogs: