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November 15, 2017

13e.1ieve in Yourself

My body hadn't fully recovered from running my first half marathon in April when I was already scouring the internet for my next race.

Outer Banks Southern Fried Half Marathon...November...click, boom, bam...registered.

Being that I didn't die or injury myself running the Flying Pirate, I felt confident that the race in November would be a breeze. At least, not rougher than my first...right? 

Between the summer heat and summer schedules, training quickly fell off my calendar. I managed to get in a few miles every week or so...most runs motivating me for the next.

Cut to the end of October...crunch time.

"I'm doing it...I can do it," I told my husband.

Having a positive attitude is half the running battle. If you let your brain tell your body you can quit, you will never make it out of the driveway. #nevergivein

I hit the pavement while Little Miss was at play practice, running a few new routes. I learned quickly that running in Nags Head vs. Wanchese offered two obstacles 1) restaurant food to smell 2) pools...lots of pools to consider trespassing/diving into. #itwashotandiwashungry The struggle was really real on my beach road runs. 

Between weather, migraines, and training solo...it could've been so easy to say eff-it and hop on the couch to train for a Netflix marathon instead. But I didn't give in to the temptation. I ran in the rain. I ran with a migraine. My determination kicked into high gear.

Friday, two days before the race, my excitement (or adrenaline) started to kick in. I thought back to the previous race- which I ran in honor of Daddy. A mix of anger and sadness stole my excitement.

"Fuck cancer," I whispered to myself.

A light bulb went off in my head. I immediately grabbed my phone and typed in those words. I found a few ideas that I liked...but, knowing our Southern community...I wasn't sure how a runner with "F Cancer" on her back would be received.

Later in the day, I picked my packet up and mentioned my idea to one of the vendors at the race expo.

"My daughter wears a headband with that on it...she is 12. It's well-received. Cancer is the offensive word there," she said.

"I agree...does your daughter have cancer?" I asked.

"Yes, for 10 years now. She recently opted out of treatments."

My heart stopped for the mother standing in front of me. I couldn't imagine her pain, her worry...her every day life. 

"Wear that shirt proud," she winked at me.

Saturday morning I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. I tried to keep myself busy designing my race shirt and planning for the following morning. 

"That cold is just trying to distract you...you're going to kill it!" my race partner from the previous race texted. #shewasright

At 4am, I popped out of bed like it was Christmas morning. #whodoesthat? Breakfast. Yoga. Immodium. (#seriouslyworstfear) Hydrate.Hydrate.Hydrate. Out the door.

It seemed like I blinked and the timer began. I ran the first 3 miles feeling great. Then someone must've attached concrete blocks to my feet and poured baby powder down my throat. I was dying of thirst and felt like I couldn't- for the life of me- pick up my feet to run.

Push through it...mind over matter...I can do this...why did I sign up to do this?!...and alone...that was dumb...I will never do another race again....I can do it...just 9.5 more miles.

I talked myself through each time I felt like I couldn't do it. I reminded myself that my battle was nothing to complain about. I reminded myself why I had those two special names on my shoulders and F-CANCER on my back. I played little mind games with myself- set short goals and met each one. Before long, I was feeling great about my running once again. 

Mile 9. Washington Baum Bridge. Holy freaking incline-that-never-ends.

From this point to the finish, I don't remember much but everything hurt and I was just trying to make it to the finish to collapse into my family's arms. (Although I do remember getting passed by a few full-marathon runners...that added a little boost to my confidence. #lies)

But I made it! (And I beat my previous time!) All the thoughts I had of never racing again, were gone as soon as I crossed the finish line.

I'm so thankful I believed in myself. I'm thankful I had two heroic names on my shoulders to remind me to never give up. And today, I'll be thankful for the moment my shins quit throbbing so I can run again. #crazymotherrunner #fucancer





September 13, 2017

Mom So Hard

It's a thing those gangsta moms say- we 'mom so hard' b/c you know...we do.

But we also 'wife so hard'...and 'cleaning lady so hard' and 'chef so hard'....I, personally, juggle about 8,023,759 things around on my plate. You guys, I do a lot of shit. (And sometimes, it actually involves literally shoveling shit.)

Here's the thing- I love to be busy. I love helping people- and hate asking for help myself. I rarely say "I'm sorry, I can't do that"...I'll just toss it into the mix of my schedule and hope for the best.

Cut to midnight one evening...I'm sobbing in my bed because I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted that I can't breathe. My husband is looking at me like I have lost my damn mind and my dog has belly-crawled his way into the hallway and covered his ears.

"I'm just f*cking everything up. I can't seem to do anything right!"

My husband stares at me blankly. We both know my statement isn't true...but in the moment, I felt like I sucked as a mom, wife, friend, daughter, etc.

"Well stop doing so much!" he says. (An utterly ridiculous statement that will never happen- not for lack of him trying.)

When I get overwhelmed I can't focus on anything positive...which is not at all who I typically am. I am the person who 95% of the time sees the glass half full...and if it's half empty- it's only because whatever was in it was so delicious that I had to drink it down in one gulp. (I know...it even annoys me sometimes.)

But on this particular evening, in my sobbing state of complete irrationality- the only thing I could focus on was that I wasn't even doing a good job at being positive. I couldn't even find my glass to see if it was half empty or full.

I was no busier than I was the previous week. Nothing monumental had changed in my life...was it hormones? The moon? Football season? I wasn't even sure exactly what I needed to pull me out of the quicksand of negativity I was stuck in...but I knew I needed my husband to lasso me out.

My mind swirled after my tears had long dried on my pillow and I wondered...why do I need someone else to pull me out of this? No one got me here but myself...and the reality of the metaphorical place I was in was no-more real than a monster in a fairy tale.

I searched for the positive...and there it was in the clearing like a rainbow after the storm.

My husband.
Our family.
Our home.

Yes, life is busy...but life is wonderful.

I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

The following morning, I climbed out of bed ready to take on the world. I was ready to mom/wife/photog/legal-assistant/chef/taxi/cleaning-lady SO freaking hard...and there wasn't a grain of quicksand in sight.

September 7, 2017

What Dreams Are Made Of...

A few months ago, I had one of the most realistic nightmares of my life. It was so real that I thought parts of the dream had actually happened the following morning.

In the dream I had just woken up. My room was dark and in the darkness, I felt someone looking at me. I looked over and saw a young man sitting next to my bed with a hooded sweatshirt on. I couldn't see his face or recognize any of his characteristics as someone I knew.

Terrified, I grabbed for my husband and yelled "Who is that!? Who is that!?"

"Who is who? What are you talking about, babe?!" he replied.

Confused, I told him I must've been dreaming.

The following day, I asked him if he remembered me waking him up.

"No, I don't think you woke me up," he said.

I didn't think much of it. While I typically remember my dreams and whether or not I wake up in the middle of the night and eat a half gallon of ice cream (hypothetically), the hubs? I could have a 15 minute conversation with him mid-sleep and he won't remember a word of it.

A few weeks later, I had a similar dream- but this time a middle aged man stood next to my bed as I opened my eyes.

I gasped for air and reached for Kirk.

Again, the next day I asked if I woke him up and he said I didn't.

Two nights ago, I dreamed I opened my eyes and the light in my bedroom was on. I turned to Kirk and saw an older man sitting on the bed. This man bared no resemblance to anyone in my daily life.

"Who are you?! What do you want!?" I yelled in my dream.

He starred at me. He didn't look angry or threatening. But nonetheless, a stranger was in my room.

I woke up talking in my sleep...with my husband asking me what I was saying. Then I jumped.

I woke up...for real. My heart was racing as I sat up in my bed and looked around the room. The lights were off and my husband was snoring next to me.

Had I actually dreamed I'd woken up in each of these dreams? What is causing this recurring nightmare? Is it because I had caffeine before bed?! Does it have to do with my dad? Is it a spirit? (Does that make me sound like a hippy!?)

So seriously...what are dreams made of?

August 7, 2017

No Kidding...Well, Maybe a Little.

Back in April, Little Miss joined me on a photoshoot in a neighboring county. I knew she would enjoy watching the shoot- since it was a 4H livestock shoot...however, I had no idea that she would have the opportunity to bottle feed a baby goat! {Yes, I was jealous.}

The 2 hour drive home was spent with her trying to convince me that we needed goats, plural, because they are herd animals, she said. {like she needed to convince me, it was her BooPa who we needed to work on}
I mentioned it to him several times to no avail. I received mostly grumbles of 'don't need more pets' as a response. I was not deterred. These wouldn't be just pets...they would be farm animals- milk producers- and snuggle givers...I mean, milk producers. 

A few months later, some friends of ours mentioned they were getting dwarf goats. I buckled down and got serious with my persuasion....

 

Those little dots went on for quite sometime....so long that I was a bit concerned that I had sent my husband into cardiac arrest just by asking a simple question.

The response wasn't exactly a yes...but it also wasn't an outright no. I quickly decided I was doing this OJ style- that shadow of a doubt (or ignorance) that got him acquitted? Well it was getting me baby goats.

I continued to correspond with the breeder I found on craigslist- asking every question imaginable about goat care. As he was texting me about their parents personalities and bloodlines, etc. he casually mentioned their names...

"The father of both these goats...his name is Donald. The little white one's mama is named Lenora...you probably think it's strange but we name them after our relatives," he explained.

I almost dropped the phone. 

"No. It isn't strange. I lost two very special people to me last year...my daddy's name was Donald, Don...and my aunt was Selma Lenora..."

It was all the sign in the world that I needed...and I wasn't even looking for it.

One week later, while stuffing hay into a dog kennel to bring home our new babies, it occurred to me that I could be meeting some kind of craigslist killer who had lured me to his goat farm with fake photos of cute babies only to chop me up and serve me with fava beans.

"Oh well...that's the chance I'm willing to take," I thought as I shoved the kennel into the backseat of my car.

{Yes, I picked them up in my car. I may have risked my life to pick up the goats but I was doing it in my fuel efficient Camry vs. the dodge dually!}

Before I knew it, we were almost home and these two had snoozed the whole way.


We got them home and acclimated to their new living situation. Since they are still tiny, we are keeping them in one of the horse's stalls. (Which created quite the scene...Tristan is certain they are going to turn attack him and serve him with fava beans.)

Meet Mochaccino bon Feefee {Mocha} and Leche Lenora {Leche}...

 {Who is that teenage-looking kid in the adorable goat tank? #mybabyisgrowinupmakeitstop}

They aren't exactly used to human-snuggles...but they seem to be quite content in their new bedroom! Welcome to the fam, gals!

PS- Thanks, Boo!! You have some happy girls!! <3

May 17, 2017

A(ddi)CTION: The Story of a Recovering Addict

No two addiction tales are the same. While many have similar paths, the addict determines how the tale ends.

This is the story of recovering addict, Taryn Daniels...

I spoke with Taryn after she shared my post on Emerson Gardner on Facebook. She wrote a bit about her own struggle with addiction- which prompted me to ask permission to ask some more in depth questions about her journey. She, too, was very open with what she went through.
"Of course it all started with snorting pills. My {now} ex-boyfriend introduced me to heroin. He actually held me down and shot me up for the first time. I was terrified and didn't want to but once I felt that rush I was in love. I was 16."
It only took that one time to hook another American sweetheart.

Taryn started smoking and drinking when she was 14 but snorted pills for the first time mostly because her friends were doing it and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. She liked how it made her feel...until she realized she was addicted.

Heroin quickly went from 'a way to get high' to 'a way to avoid withdrawals'. She describes being "dope sick" as the worst flu imaginable, times a thousand. This isn't a party drug- not that any truly are once you become addicted- this is a lifestyle drug.
"Doing heroin was like my dance with the devil. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And that is exactly what it does."
Taryn drove to Virginia one to two times daily to get heroin. Every penny she made she spent on drugs. She admits she doesn't know how she kept a job during that time, but somehow she did. 

It took felony drug charges and over a year in a Teen Challenge rehabilitation facility to shake Taryn to the core.
"I got to come home on a 7 month pass and I still wanted to get high. When I went back is when it clicked- I've got to change or I'm gonna die, I can't continue to live like this."
She credits God, the power of prayer, a supportive community and Teen Challenge for being able to get clean and stay clean. {I also give a HUGE credit her wanting to get clean and stay clean.}

She says the time she spent at Teen Challenge helped her clear her mind and focus on herself. The constant drug use left her brain in a fog- only wanting to focus on chasing that first high. {Which as most addicts say, is only attainable that first time.}

Most of Taryn's friends that she used with are either still using or dead- only a few tried to come back into her life when she returned from Teen Challenge. However, when they realized she was serious about staying sober- they didn't continue. The urge to use again used to be something she dealt with daily, but thankfully today...that is a thing of the past.
"I don't have urges to get high anymore. At this point, I never wanna do it or be that person again. My heart breaks for my friends and everyone in active addiction because I know it is possible to live a healthy, happy, drug free life. I am living proof. I am 100% drug free! No suboxone or anything. But I also know I can't put myself around it."
Taryn is currently a stay-at-home mom to a lovely 8 month old little boy. Up until his birth, she worked three jobs in order to purchase a car and get back on her feet. (Heroin literally took everything she had away from her.)  She goes to church regularly and says her relationship with her family is better than ever.

I'm thankful to be able to share her story. While pushed her to rock bottom, she didn't let hold her there. She fought back!! It IS possible. Sobriety IS attainable!

*Sidenote: I am very pleased to congratulate Emerson on 60+ days clean. She checked into a detox facility shortly after I wrote her story. From there, she went into a treatment home. Emerson said reading her story helped her to realize how badly she needed help.

Please continue to discuss addiction with your families to raise awareness in the awful truths of addiction. #talkittodeath


**I plan to continue sharing stories of addiction here. Following my initial post, I received fantastic feedback & some inquiries of other folks who have stories (some similar, some not) of addiction they would like me to help them share. If you have dealt with addiction & would like to share your story, email me at edenhsaunders@gmail.com. Your stories DO help others!**