A Letter To My Mother: Being Completely Honest When There Are No Options Left

It's day 3 of #NaBloPoMo and I'm going strong. I had no idea these prompts would cause such a stir in my personal life though. It's been a tough week so far, writing about past events that I've been shoving down into the depths of my soul. Today's prompt is: If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom? This is another tough post to write, but I feel it's better to release it than to hold it in. 

You would never know it by looking at her unless you went out to lunch with her or she had you over for dinner. Even then you might not notice the subtle signs or the way she drinks more than she eats. Or how she always has to order an alcoholic beverage. You many not even notice it after going out with her a few times. She dresses well, always smells good, wears lots of pretty jewelry and can hold a great conversation. You would never know it by looking at her, but my mother is what they pros call, "a functioning alcoholic." Only some may notice it when she has to order a beer at lunch always or when she must have that second wine with dinner to get over a tough day. I've known all my life. Somehow at the tender age of 6, I knew something was off when she always purchased alcohol, brandy was her drink of choice back then. Now it's wine, beer, sometimes bourbon. 

I learned as I got older that my mother was an alcoholic when she would start silly fights with my Dad or would pester me with the same questions over and over again, poking and prodding, searching for a fight. I always hate alcohol in our home, the smell, the taste of it in her cooking, the clicking of the ice in the glass. Those things still make me shudder today and I'm thirty now. She's not the type of alcoholic passed out on the couch or the type who oversleeps for an appointment. That's the worst part of it all is that to the general public she hides her addiction well. But it is an addition and it's one that if I chose to continue to have a relationship with my Mother, it's one I'll have to endure over and over again. 

I tried being honest with her before, but if I could tell her the cold, harsh, truth with no regrets, no fear of her ever talking to me again, or an awful fight, this is what I would say. 

"Dear Mom, 

Why do you need to drink? You have a wonderful life with lots of great family and friends, why do you constantly chose alcohol over them? Why is it always at the top of your grocery list? What makes it so special over us? Over me? Why did you forget to pick me up from school multiple times? How come you chose a drink over a meal? It's not healthy and the older you become, the more I fear of liver damage and other permanent damage of alcohol. How come you never decided to make a strong choice and give it up? What's so great about it? It's expensive, smells awful, and does nothing good for your body. Is it worth your relationship with me? I wish you could let your addiction to this awful substance go. I wish you could set it free and move on from it. I wish you would choose me over the alchohol and that you could live an alcohol free life and begin recovery. I wish you could come to terms with your additicion and admit you have an addiction. I wish you could be free....

Love, Genevieve

Being Brave; Healing From The Fallout

I remember walking into the living room and telling my husband I felt a knot in my stomach. He replied, "Let me check, you're probably just being paranoid." When he went to feel my stomach I knew he felt the same thing I had. The look on his face terrified me. His response was, "You need to make a doctor's appointment right away." 

Ever since that day in March my life has been turned upside down. I made the appointment for the following day. The doctor on call was not my regular doctor and her bedside manner was anything but best. She told me I had benign fibroids and that's why I was feeling a knot. Something else was wrong though I could feel it in my bones. Although I had no other bothersome symptoms, I made an appointment to have an ultrasound done. The next morning at 7:30 am the doctor's office called with the news. I had a mass the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. They had no idea how long I had it, but they wanted to remove it as soon as possible. This  has all happened in a period of 24-hours so to say I was freaked out was an understatement. The doctor on call was rude and could not give me very much information. I made an appointment with my regular Obgyn who had been on vacation. I was crying on the phone, sending her scared e-mails filled with fear. She got me in right away. I walked into her office with my husband holding my hand and she asked what questions I had. I immediately blurted out what seemed like hundreds of questions. She laughed and said, "Genevieve, I can assure you this isn't all that serious." What? Isn't all that serious?! The other doctor told me she wasn't sure if it was benign. Reeled with confusion, my doctor explained everything to me. I had a benign cyst the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary and they wanted to remove it to ensure it was benign and because it could damage other organs if left in there. I would have laparoscopy; be sent home the same day, and be on bed rest for a couple of days thereafter. Not so bad right? In the big scope of things, I was a perfectly healthy 29-year old who developed a cyst due to stress. No history of cancer in my family on either side (thank goodness) and everything else looked good. 

The surgery was scheduled for April 7, 2016. I will never forget the weeks leading up to it. I was a complete wreck. I'm a hypochondriac and I've always struggled with major anxiety issues. I've never had surgery before, let alone me put under general anesthesia for anything (I opted to be awake to have my wisdom teeth pulled) so this was all very scary to me. My husband would come home from work and I would collapse in his arms and cry. Wondering if the cyst was worst than they said it was, wondering if I would have to have a full hysterectomy (no kiddo's yet, so that was a very real fear for me) worried I wouldn't live through the surgery was my biggest fear. What if I never woke up? What if I had an allergic reaction the general anesthesia? If there was a fear there, you bet I had it. I was a complete wreck week's before, e-mailing my doctor countless times a day (bless her heart for being patient with me and answering all of my questions) I cried a lot, I mean a lot! I don't think I've ever cried that much in my life. I had no choice but to be brave. There were no other options other than to tell myself I would get through this and come out on the other side a stronger, wiser, better person. I was also very worried about the pain after the surgery and the possibility of weight gain. But mainly I just wanted to make it out alive to see my wonderful husband, dogs, and family again. And pizza. I really wanted to be able to eat pizza again. 

The cyst and the looking surgery put everything into perspective for me. Why did I stress over silly things? Why did I let my thoughts get so out of control? I appreciate everyone so much more now and I do not take anything for granted. That surgery brought everything and what's truly important in life full circle for me. It also made me realize how brave I really am. A person who isn't truly brave would have had their husband turn the car around once getting to the hospital. I remember Shane asking me, "Are you ready for this?" And I replied with, "As ready as I'll ever be." And I walked straight into the hospital. I was more ready than I let myself believe I was. 

The day of the surgery: They gave me Xanax to take the night before and the morning of. The surgery was set for 6:30 am and I barely slept a wink the night before. A couple of days before I couldn't eat anything so I lived on bone broth. Bone broth hasn't been the same since. I was terrified the night before and had a nervous break down in my office. I started a bunch of house projects before the surgery to distract myself and I remember breaking down crying in a pile of clothes telling my husband this was a bad idea, I could die. He assured me I wouldn't die and I would be home at the same time the following night curled up with my pups, resting away. 

I was escorted into the operating room and really freaked out, although Xanax sort of makes you numb to everything. The nurse why super energetic and talked about her dogs while I undressed and she put IV's in me and those weird socks they give you pre-op. I'll never forget those socks. I opted not to take them home. So there I am, in bed, doped up on all kind of medicine, but still asking questions if I would make it out alive or not. The moment my anxiety got worse, was when this other doctor who is the head of general anesthesia came in and asked me if I had any bad reactions to GA before. I told him I didn't know, as I never gone under before. But then my team of female doctors walked into the room and I immediately felt at ease. My doctor's intern came in and told me it was going to be okay and that I was with one of the best doctors in the country and that I had nothing to fear. The woman who was in charge of my general anesthesia came in and said: "I only do two-way trips, so you have nothing to worry about." She immediately made me feel at ease. Then my wonderful doctor came in and held my hand and asked if I had any questions. By that point I was so out of it, I didn't really understand what was going on. I looked at my husband one more time, he held my hand, and they whisked me away to the operating room. I was so out of it, I remember my doctor talking about yoga to me, as she held my hand and they put me under. Being put under is the strangest thing I've ever experienced. It's almost like going into a deep black hole and they waking up right away. Well, I thought I woke up right away. I was in surgery for 3-hours (laparoscopy is a long prep time) but I woke up asking if the surgery was done. I remember instantly feeling the cramping and needing pain meds right away. I had to have a D & C along with my cyst removal to make sure everything looked top notch in my uterus and there were no other issues besides my fibroids. My doctor told my husband everything went well, there were no complications, and she was really happy with how everything turned out. She said my uterus was super healthy and that the cyst more than likely benign. She told my husband that she did her best she could to preserve everything, but that she accidentally nicked the fallopian tube and that I would have a slightly higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. Other than that everything went really well. I remember begging to see my husband, but being so out of it I kept falling asleep in the recovery room. Then when they had me get up to use the bathroom and put my clothes on to go home, I felt so nauseous. They gave me more meds and sent me on my way. 

I don't really remember anything from that Thursday evening except eating pizza crusts and crackers and falling in and out of deep sleep. After having general anesthesia your body just wants to sleep. I remember waking up in a panic thinking I had just had the surgery. I was already at home in bed, it was normal to have those weird vivid dreams. The next day was the worst, I woke up in pain needing to go to the bathroom, I got half way through the hallway and passed out. The pain was so bad I completely blacked out. Sleeping was the worst and very uncomfortable. The more I walked in the days after surgery, the faster I healed. I was up and back on my feet in two weeks. Not bad in the big scheme of things right? The results came back a few weeks later and my cyst was benign and would most likely not return. Everything else looked good, and my doctor was pleased. 

All in all after writing this all out it doesn't really sound all that bad. Except now, 6-months later I'm still healing from the fallout. I have PTSD and horrible nightmares. Any pain at all in my ovary sends me into overdrive. The tissue surrounding where they cut into me is still super sensitive when I bend over to tie my shoe. I now have ovary pain when I ovulate which my doctor says is completely normal because the cyst was blocking my pain receptors. I must have had that cyst for years and never even knew it. I had no symptoms. The thing about cysts though is they continue to grow so they must be removed. I had no choice. 

It's been 6-months since my post-op and I'm still recovering emotionally. I still have nightmares, I still freak out, I still feel my ovary from time to time, everything is still slightly sensitive, and I'm terrified it's going to happen all over again. I do not wish this on my worst enemy. Yes, there are far worst things in life to go through, but for me this has been by far the worst. Every day I look at my tattoo that says, "be brave" and I think about how brave I actually was. You truly never know how strong you actually are until it's the only option you have. I was very strong throughout that entire process, but also very scared. Today, I still struggle with PTSD and am contemplating getting on medication to manage my anxiety. I talk about my surgery a lot, but now it's time to let it all go. I need to move on. I need to release. I need to let go. It happened, I lived trough it, and I'm that much stronger now. But it's time to let go. 

I release you fear, I release you PTSD, I release and I let go because it's time to move on. 

It's time to let go......

Pick Yourself Up By The Bootstraps: How To Deal When You're Having a Bad Mental Health Day

This is my first blogging challenge and this one is to blog every day in November for the #NaBloPoMo challenge and I could not be more excited to be doing this. So without further ado here is my first post for the challenge.

I talk about it on here a lot, I struggle with anxiety. I get anxious, I cry I overthink, I think I have some weird health issue (hypochondria much?) I compare myself to other women who seem to really have it all. The list is endless. Some days I have really crappy mental health days and other days when the stars are aligned and everything is going my way, I feel on top of the world! Having a bad mental health day can really stir up your emotions as I know it does mine. Here are five ways I give myself a break and tell myself it's going to be okay. Because it will be, and today is just another day where things feel....off. I especially come into this problem right before my period, like today. I took a few photos of myself for a sponsored Instagram challenge I'm in, and when I looked at the photos, I thought to myself: "You're so fat and bloated in this pic. Delete, barf, gross." Well here's the first tip to dealing with a bad mental health day. Never call yourself gross! You may be having a bad day, but you're certainly not gross, or fat, or bloated. 

Tip 1:  YOGA, YOGA, AND MORE YOGA: Yoga does wonders for your mental health and well-being. It's calming, it relaxes you, it brings you to your center. It helps me physically "clear the clutter" out of my mind as I've been literally trying to do with my house for the past few weeks. When you feel the mean brain or negative self-talk come on, try yoga. 

Tip 2: LIFT THOSE WEIGHTS: Weightlifting has been proven to have amazing benefits for your body and for keeping your mental health in check. Anytime I'm feeling even the slightest bit of stress creep on, I grab my weights, put on some Pandora, and lift way. I find doing upper body exercises especially helps ease my stress because I stronger with each rep I do. Lifting weights and working out in general really helps to boost those endorphins, gets your blood pumping and can make you feel like a badass when you're finished which is an added bonus!

Tip 3: READ A GOOD BOOK: Did you know that curling up with a cup of tea and a good book can instantly calm your anxious mind? Seriously, try sitting with a good book for 10-minutes, drink some tea, and read a few chapters. Transporting yourself into some good literature will take your mind some place else which will help calm stress. A few of my favorites right now are "You Are A Badass" and "The Girl on The Train" Both amazing books, one's a great self-help book to help kick your goals into high gear and the other is a fascinating thriller that I literally could not put down for hours. 

Tip 4: DRINK A STRONG CUP OF COFFEE: Okay so this may sound counter-intuitive because you may think drinking coffee will make your heart rate and your mind race all over the place, but I find just the opposite happens when mean-brain is creeping in. Just the scent of coffee has been shown to reduce stress levels, so anytime (before 6pm) when I'm feeling angry, or upset I brew a fresh pot of organic dark roast coffee and I drink it up. It helps me focus on the tasks at hand, instead of letting my mind wander all over the place. 

Tip 5: COOK A HEALTHY MEAL: One of the fastest ways to get out of your own head and to focus your mind on better things is to cook a healthy meal. Come up with something creative and fun and cook away. Cooking helps me de-stress, I find going through all of the motions and working hard to create something that not only looks good but tastes good too is so satisfying to me. It also makes me feel really good about myself that I care enough about my family and myself to cook a healthy meal.

The next time you feel mean-brain come rear it's ugly head, go back to this post and try any one of these tips to help calm your anxious mind and focus on the good things. What do you guys do when you're having a bad mental health day? Any tips you could give me? Comment below. 

I Struggle With Anxiety-10 Ways To Cope With Anxiety Disorder

I could lie and say that my mental health is in perfect condition and everything is peachy keen. I could tell you that I never worry about finances, my business, my marriage, and that I'm "blessed" and that every opportunity that comes to me comes because I'm "privileged". But if I said that, none of it would be true. Do amazing opportunities come my way? Yes. Have I worked extremely hard for these amazing opportunities? Yes! Am I blessed to be married to be married to a good man with a decent paying job? Yes. But that doesn't mean that I don't work just as hard for all of the things I want. It is a constant struggle to keep my business going and to get another business off the ground. I'm an entrepreneur and with that comes struggle and anxiety. A lot of anxiety. Sometimes my anxiety attacks are so bad that I have to lock myself in a dark room and hide for a few hours.  I used to be afraid to admit that I struggle with anxiety disorder, but hopefully, my story will help someone else out there who struggles with anxiety too. You are not alone. Let me repeat that one more time. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I know how it feels to feel like you have no one to turn too. To feel like you are suffocating in a sea of emotion and bewilderment, wondering where to turn too. I'm here to tell you that you can manage your anxiety and that it's going to be okay. It may not seem like right it this exact moment or when you're in your car, driving, not being to breath because another panic attack just hit, but it's going to be okay. Below you will find my 10 tips to cope with anxiety without having to take boatloads of medication and walk around the street like a zombie. 

Tip 1: Acceptance. Accept that you have an issue with anxiety and that you're not alone. 70% of the population struggles with anxiety and most of them are women. You are not alone!

Tip 2: Drink Tea! Drinking tea has helped me so much with my struggle with anxiety. You'd be surprised at how much a warm, caffeine-free drink can help calm you down. In fact, after I wrap up this blog post for you lovelies I plan on doing just that. You can buy this turmeric with ginger tea from Trader Joe's and it's amazing! It's hands down one of my favorite teas for calming down and relaxing. Turmeric also helps with inflammation so drink up! 

Tip 3: Soak, soak, soak! Soaking in Epsom salts will help alleviate stress and will also help with inflammation. You can find good, cheap, Epsom salts at Target or Trader Joe's. I buy the big, lavender bag and I soak away. Eucalyptus is great too! Make some tea, light a candle, grab your favorite book, and make a hot bath. Add some Epsom salts and soak your worries away. 

Tip 5: Exercise, exercise, exercise! Get moving, get outside, go play, go for a run, lift some weights, smash out a kick boxing workout, stretch it out with some yoga. MOVE. The key is to get moving and keep moving for an extended period of time. Fitness isn't just great for weight-loss, but it's key for keeping your anxiety levels in check. If I don't workout, or at-least go for a run, start to feel panicked. Moving helps me cope and react better when an anxiety does strike. Breathing exercise help too. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out...

Tip 6: Do Yoga, beginning a daily yoga practice can seem daunting, but just 10-minutes of yoga a day and your body will reap all of the rewards. Yoga helps maintain balance in your body and is key for dealing with anxiety levels. There have been many reports of people starting a daily yoga practice while on anti-anxiety medication and actually being able to get off their medication because of how much their daily yoga practiced helped them. 

Tip 7: Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods will help your body react better when an anxiety attack flares up. Eating a diet high in sugar and fats will only make your cortisol levels rise. Eating healthy will help maintain healthy blood sugar levels so your cortisol won't spike as high when your body get's stressed. Remember, your body's reaction to stress is to raise your cortisol levels. If you follow a healthy diet, your body will react to stress better. Check out my blog for lots of health recipes, tricks, and tips to maintaining a healthy diet. Kale does do the body good! Bottom line: Eat more kale. 

Tip 8: Meditate. Meditation has been known to help with anxiety in a variety of ways. While it may be hard to meditate at first, starting a daily meditation practice, much like yoga, will help ease an anxious mind. Have racing thoughts I do? Do you go over your day when you are trying to fall asleep? Me too. Meditation will help calm those anxious thoughts and will help you focus. Try meditating for 1-minute in a quiet place saying the same word over and over again. A happy word. Like love, or joy. It works, I promise!

Tip 9: Talk it out. Talking about your anxiety with a friend, counselor, or loved one can do wonders for your anxious mind. Anytime the panic starts to brew in me, I turn to my person and he helps calm my anxious mind. Mainly by telling me that everything is going to be okay and that this anxiety I'm feeling is only temporary. 

Tip 10: And now for my final and probably most important tip in dealing with anxiety. Adopt a dog! Think I'm kidding? I mean it, adopting and owning a pup will help you with your anxiety more than you could ever imagine. First of all, dogs love the outdoors and one of the key ways to managing anxiety is to get outside and explore nature. Dogs are also very loving creatures and can tell when you are feeling anxious. All of my three dogs know the moment I'm feeling anxiety and they are by my side in a moment's notice. Studies have proven that being near a dog can help quell anxiety, so living with one will only make that even better. I adore my pups and having them around calms me down. They also force me to get up and get moving. I run with Roxy daily and not only have we established a strong bond (and legs) from our daily runs, but she's helped me calm down. 

Do you struggle with anxiety disorder like I do? Did you find this article helpful? Have you found any tips that you could suggest to me?

 

And remember, everything is going to be okay. 

Turning The Big 3-0 And Realizing No One Knows What They're Doing

I've always considered myself to be a badass. Even when I was 155-pounds heavier and felt uglier than ever, I've always had this blind, obnoxious confidence. Through high school I was the first one to jump in the water and swim out countless laps on our swimming team, when an audition came up I was the first to apply and sing my heart out, when I knew nothing about film photography I was the first to go out and actually take photos with it and went back to my teacher with film negatives. (The ironic thing about that is I'm now a Professional Photographer and who knew a roll of film in high school set me on that journey.) I've always been confident in my ability to be awesome. Despite the doubts I've had in myelf at times, I wake up each day feeling like a badass. Another ironic part is I'm currently reading "You're A Badass" by Jen Sincero and I already feel like I apply all of tose exercises to my daily life. A more in-depth review coming up on that in a few days, but in the meantime, I already feel pretty awesome about myself. I have my doubts from day to day, but I literally wake up each day with the mindset that I will achieve and accomplish anything I put my mind too. 

For example, I started my wedding photography business in 2011 with no knowledge of how to shoot a wedding. I plugged away, did low-budget weddings, took on tons of clients, and really practiced until I had my niche of being a fine art wedding photographer. I didn't even think about it, I literally just dove right in, while many of my friends were still taking classes trying to figure out what F-Stops were. Life is too short to be pondering your next move. If you want to be a wedding photographer, buy a decent camera, and go out there and start shooting weddings. It's not rocket science, half the battle is just doing it. The hard part is sitting there and pondering and hemming and hawing over it. I've never been a hemmer or a hawwer. I've always just been a person who isn't afraid to fail. If you fail, fail better. That is one of my favorite quotes that the actor John Hamm says a lot. Life isn't always going to be rainbows and unicorns, most of life is really hard, but you have to find the great moments through all of the hard stuff or else you'll become hard. I pride myself in being able to jump right in without thinking about it. What is thinking about it going to give you? Nothing? A win? No. A failure? No way. How will you win or fail if you don't actually do the things that scare the crap out of you? You have to do all the things and see which things work and which things don't work. When I started this blog last year, I was merely doing it to post about things that have helped me along the way and then this blog became a thing. People started to ask where my next post was and which recipe would I be debuting. People ask me for health and fitness advice and I think that's pretty cool! Someone told me I was an influencer which solidifies my hard work in doing all of this. Do you think running a health and wellness website all by yourself is easy? Not one bit. It's a lot of work that hopefully in the future will have big pay offs. 

I look at these people on Instagram and I realized the other day that no one actually knows what they're doing. We are all just faking it until we make it. Some people even fake it once they've made it. We are all just sharing our journey's with each other and I think that's pretty cool. Women helping other women instead of being in constant competition with each other. People asking me for weight loss advice because they do not know where to begin. Take the first step I say, don't think just do! Sometimes when my confidence get's shaken (which it does, I'm only human, insert Christina Perri reference here) I have to remind myself that at least I'm going out there and doing it. I walk the walk and I talk the talk and not very many people can say that about themselves. I say what I mean and I mean what I say and I always follow through. Here are the two most challenging things about a goal. Beginning and following through. You must begin in order to see the execution of the action you've started. You cannot just sit there and say you're going to do and never do it. How will you ever get what you want if you just sit there? I may not get everything I want, but I do get what I need. I get what is meant for me. 

I'm a huge believer in the universe gives us what we focus on. Have you ever read The Secret? If you haven't you need to click on that link I just gave you and go purchase it right now because it's the best book you'll ever read. It will get you out of that negative headspace and into the "I can be a badass and get everything I want of out life" mindset. 

I had deep fears about turning 30. I thought that if I haven't achieved all I want to acheieve by the time I'm thirty then I'm doing something wrong. I was totally off about that by the way. Nothing has changed since turning thirty at the beginning of this month other than my motivation to be awesome has tripled in size. I want to be leaner, better, stronger, faster than eer before. My motivation to get things done has exploded and I'm literally clearning all the clutter in my life. Literally, last night I got rid of three bags of clothing from my closet that I haven't worn in over a year. I'm purging every single room in my tiny 1920's home and doing a cleansing of sorts. Get rid of the old to make room for new energy and a new zest for life.

So far before turning 30 this is what's happened to be in my awful year of 29. 

I had a huge health scare that really set things on fire for me and changed my perpsetcive on everything. Life is too short, don't waste it on people or things you don't care about, Let me reiterate that, LIFE IS TOO SHORT! I'm 100% healthy, but that health scare put everything and everyone in my life into perspective for me. 

I took my health and wellness up a notch and it has become a second business for me. I have huge plans for thins website and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. 

My wedding business and art has also been taken up on a notch. We only take on clients we really vibe with and who we can see a long lasting (beyong the wedding) relationship with. 

I've learned I sturggle with anxiety and I need fitness and eating clean in my life to help me manage my anxiety attacks. 

I've learned who my true friends and just how amazing my family really is. We rock at supporting one another and we are all in this together. 

Turning 30 has taught me a lot, be kind, be strong, don't take any crap from anyone, and always think postive. I'm off to go make a kick-ass waffle recipe for this blog and I'm going to keep on being a badass. 

Hello 30, I love you.