Lady of the Flag

Those of you who follow my Facebook fan page are well acquainted with my 2016 stitchy project, Lady of the Flag. I entered it in the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts competition and received second place, which was a HUGE compliment. It’s the highest award I’ve ever won at the State Fair and I was unbearably dorky when I got the great news.

Some of you are also aware that I am a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, having joined as a tribute to my late father. He was a decorated World War II vet who never lived to see the memorial built in tribute to him and the amazing men and women like him. While my sass and humor came from my mother’s side of the family (they’re all bloody crazy), my father raised me with a solid love for my country and a sense of patriotism that feels rare today.

A friend, and fellow Daughter, asked me to submit Lady of the Flag in the Daughters of the American Revolution American Heritage contest. It’s an annual contest showcasing the talent of all the amazing ladies in this organization, encompassing a wide variety of arts like writing, sculpting, quilting, needlepoint, and my favorite…cross stitch. Of course, I said yes.

I’ve shared some of the steps I’ve had to take on Facebook, including the fact that I had to write a page explaining why I stitched her…and who I stitched her for. One of y’all asked me to share it, but I can’t remember who. I’ve slept since then. 🙂 For what it’s worth, though, here I am to share what I wrote to accompany the high resolution photographs of Lady of the Flag.

Like many young men of the Greatest Generation, my father went to war to defend our country during World War II. He was just 18 years old when he entered the US Army, emerging several years later with a Purple Heart and several other medals, including the Bronze Star.

He lived his entire life never speaking of the war, even to my mother. I remember playing beside his chair and asking him about the angry scars that ran up his legs. He would always reply “That’s something that Daddies don’t talk to their little girls about, sweetheart.”

As it was for so many of our brave soldiers, and still is today, the war didn’t just leave scars on his legs. He came home a broken and battered old man in a young man’s body, unsure of how to handle the grief and terror of the battles he fought. He pushed on, though, as so many did in those days.

He and my mother raised six children, never letting us take for granted the wonderful freedoms we enjoy as Americans. My father showed us that our country’s history and heritage were to be honored and protected. While the battles raged on inside his head, his patriotism and his sense of duty to his country never wavered. Although I always longed to be closer with my Dad, I will never forget the lessons he taught me about patriotism, love for our country, and how very deserving our veterans and active military are of honor and respect.

His mother was a needleworker. Although I didn’t know her, I always felt a kinship with her because of that. Even as a child, I was drawn to needlework. My own mother loved to sew as well. During the most trying times of my life, it’s been needlework that has calmed my mind and given me focus. I wish my dad had found a craft that did the same for him. I know it would make him smile to see that I’ve carried on his mother’s tradition, and her mother’s as well, of keeping needle arts in the family.

Dad would have been incredibly proud to learn that he was a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War patriot. My membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution was the beginning of my lifelong tribute to my father’s memory. Stitching this beautiful piece is also part of that tribute.

My father taught me to respect and cherish our flag, so naturally this piece was something that called to me. I chose the hand-dyed, stormy gray linen as a foundation for the beautiful lady in the gilded dress, holding our flag in her arms. To me, it parallels the stormy turmoil of war that my father braved in order to help secure a beautiful future for our country.

To me, the 2016-17 theme of “Moving Family Traditions Forward with the Arts”, is represented on many levels in Lady of the Flag. As many of the Elwood women who came before me, I’ve used a needle and thread to create a one-of-a-kind heirloom for my family. She hangs proudly in our home, and every time I look at the rich colors of the flag and the beaded finery of her dress, I imagine what Dad would say if he could see her. I know he would be touched and incredibly proud, and I dare say that my grandmother would even be impressed at the work I’ve done…which will be around long after I’m gone. A loving, beautiful tribute to my father and all the heroes in our ancestry who came before him.

I mail the entry packet off to the State Chair this evening. 🙂

Lady of the Flag faced some very stiff competition at the 2016 State Fair of Texas and she won a very deserving 2nd place ribbon. Taking that into account, I highly doubt that she’ll make it into the national finals. For me, it’s not about winning…it’s about the stitching. It’s about what stitching does for me, what it means to me to be able to do it, and the beautiful things I’m able to have (or give away as gifts) when I’m done. And, as always, I feel Dad smiling down at me from Heaven…with tears in his eyes. Proud.

Thank you all for being such great fans, and for always supporting me by listening to my crazy rants, my nutty ideas, and my obsessing over details. ♥

lof-a

Facials are made of 100% awesome

A while back, I shared on my Facebook fan page that a local, well-established plastic surgeon had offered to give me a free hydra facial if I’d like to try it. I was instantly intrigued, not only because I’ve never had a facial before but also because I’d never EVER heard of a hydra facial.

I’ve always wanted a facial, I just never seem to have time. Plus, you’re letting someone mess with your face…which requires a huge amount of trust. I only let my eye doctor get that close to me and, occasionally, the very un-customer servicey chicks at the local nail salon who smear hot wax on my Chewbacca brows while shouting at each other in another language without backing away from my ears.

When I think about the screamy, waxing, un-customer servicey chicks having a go at the skin on my face I get a little freaked. It’s a level of fear akin to what one might feel if they actually read the calories on the movie popcorn they ate last Friday. (Don’t do it. Everyone deserves a treat once in awhile. Just go for a couple extra long walks or something.)

Now you see why I had to say yes when Anderson Plastic Surgery and MedSpa reached out and made me this pretty damn generous offer. Uh…hydra facial? Sign me up! So I’m here to share my experience with you, both the expected and the unexpected. Ready?

First of all, it’s a plastic surgeon’s office. I expected a regular waiting room and front desk situation, like I encounter when I have a cold or go for my (shudder) well woman thing. Not the case here. I stepped through the door and hello….what is that fabulous smell?

The receptionist greeted me very promptly by name, letting me know I was expected and making me feel quite welcome. She handed me a few forms to complete. Meanwhile, I’m looking all over for the source of this fabulous smell.  What is it? Where is it coming from? Is it Scentsy? Candles? Are they selling it? Can I buy some? Where, where, where?

I’ll tell you later. 🙂

Oh, and the lobby is very nicely decorated and comfortable…but not pretentious like the oral surgeon I had to see once. Dude had a ginormous aquarium in his waiting room that had to cost half the national debt. Nothing says “I care about my patients” more than displaying a ridiculously expensive thing like that for all to see. Seriously, it’s like…oh THIS is why my co-pay is so high. Not the case with Anderson Plastics. Nice place, tastefully decorated. Pleasing to the eye and definitely the nose.

Before long, my aesthetician arrived in the lobby to greet me. Jana. Perfect skin, of course. I felt like I was staring too much, but I couldn’t help it y’all! Her skin is gorgeous. So Jana took me back to the room where the magic happens. Yay! My first facial. And not just any facial, a HYDRA facial. Because I’m fancy.

I admit I was a little tense. I wasn’t sure if anything would hurt or if I’d have any kind of reaction, although I don’t have sensitive skin so I was pretty sure everything would be fine. But you know me, right? I could win a free bean bag chair and break my leg walking to the car with it.

Jana very sweetly explained what a hydra facial is, which you can learn about by clicking here. Once I was comfortable, she started by putting some freshly steamed towels on my face. AH HA!!!! There’s that smell!

Turns out, they scent their towels in essential oils every day. Last Friday was lemongrass day and it was fan-freak’in-tastic. So refreshing! I’ve been curious about essential oils ever since my friend Lauren showed up at our last Game of Thrones binge with a handbag full of miscellaneous vials. Seriously, it looked like she had Professor Snape’s entire potions closet in her damn handbag (which was overstuffed again…ahem!!!). She’s going to sass me back for that. Trust me. Back to Jana and the hydra facial…

Jana made a series of passes over my face with whatever heavenly wand she uses to extract dirt and impurities – but since I’ve never had any kind of facial before I’m pretty sure she was pulling frogs and small dust bunnies out of there. She’s way too nice to say.

Every pass was gentle and pain free. She did have to get a few blackheads out, but that was just pressure and it was over. No pain. The final pass was to treat my skin with anti-oxidants.

If you’re local to the DFW area, Jana is probably one of the sweetest people you will ever meet in your entire life. I expected all the face touching and scrubbing that was going on. I didn’t expect the gentle, very positive reminders about the importance of self-care. During the entire process, Jana was very informative about what she was doing. She always told me what she was going to do before she did it. But she also layered in positive affirmations and meditations that reminded me of some things I tend to forget. Namely, me.

awesome

I get so busy in my day-to-day life that I forget how important it is to take good care of myself. And Jana wasn’t giving me some half-hidden message like “Hey, come back and spend money here”. She was reminding me to care for me. And I so appreciated it.

Towards the end, she massaged some peppermint oil on the back of my neck and told me that it would feel cool on my skin when the air hit it. And here’s what really made me smile about Jana: she told me that whenever I smelled that peppermint oil I should remember that there is only one me…and that there is no one like me. And that I am special.

That is something I did not expect from a facial…hydra or any other kind. How wonderful!

By the time she walked me back out to the lobby, I felt like I was walking on some sort of peppermint scented happy cloud. The entire experience was fabulous. I was refreshed, relaxed, and honestly wishing I could just put on my Star Wars jammies and go to bed early.

Jana also gave me a lovely gift bag with cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen in it…which is all amazing. I’ve been using it instead of my normal skin care products and it leaves my skin feeling actually clean, without any manufactured crud on it.

Oh, and my skin? Honestly, at my age I didn’t expect to see much of a difference…but I feel a difference. My skin is firmer. It feels like it has more substance to it, if that makes sense. It feels more youthful. If I had to guess, I’d say it was from the hydration pass but I’d be guessing. Maybe you can ask Jana when you go for your appointment. It is absolutely and totally worth it – probably in a few ways you won’t even expect.

Oh, and they also have a GREAT blog. I was pretty impressed with this post on the dangers of Botox parties and Dr. Anderson’s creative (and safe) alternative to this growing trend.

You can follow Anderson Plastics on a variety of social media channels, including Twitter,  Facebook, Pinterest (God help me…) and Instagram…so watch for special deals because the hydra facial is amazing. They also have a YouTube channel!

Many, many thanks to Dr. Anderson and his team (especially Jana) for such a wonderful experience!

 


http://amzn.to/2d9LqDM

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!

My left foot is an a-hole.

Seriously, way back when I was 13 years old and walking around Sea World in hip hugger bell bottoms and sandals with daisies all over them…my left foot was an a-hole. By the end of that fun day with my family, my two older sisters were carrying me to the car. Why? We didn’t know it at the time, but plantar fascitis. Whatev.

I ended up dealing with that condition into my mid 30’s, when I finally had surgery to permanently slap down my plantar fascia so that it could no longer tear. Done!!!

I love walking for fitness and it’s always been my preferred form of working out. It’s fun to walk and listen to music. I love it! My feet, unfortunately, don’t, whether I weigh 125 pounds or 383 pounds. I’ve had plantar fascitis and stress fractures in both feet over the course of my life, but lately it’s my left foot that’s being a jerk.

I’m just getting over a stress fracture in my left foot, and now there’s an issue with my cuboid bone. It won’t stay in place. It keeps dislocating. *sigh*

For months now, doctors have been telling me to stay off my feet. After my last physical therapy appointment, that doesn’t appear to be changing. Every time I hit around 6,000 steps for the day my cuboid bone freaks out and says “I’m outta here!” Dislocated.

The old me would have been all “Oh, well! Doctor knows best…time to sit on my ass and have some snacks!” The reinvented me? Not so happy about this situation.

I’ve lost 116 pounds and I don’t want to gain that shit back. At all. But it appears that I’m going to have to think outside the box. Or…the foot. Or…you know what I’m getting at.

I can take water aerobics, but that’s only twice a week. I need more cardio than that. I can swim, but not in proper form – and certainly not well enough to get any cardio from it. So what did I do? I reached out to my gym to ask if they teach adult swim classes. And guess what?

THEY DO!!!!

I’m going to give them a call tomorrow and get the details, but I am excited that there might actually be a light at the end of this tunnel. I’ve already made all the nutritional changes I can make…the other half of this weight has to come off with exercise.

Time for some serious swimming. Because if it comes between my a-hole foot and swimming every day, I’m growing gills and fins. Nothing is keeping me from my goal. Nothing.

Okay, I’m calling shenanigans!

I’m thinking I need to send Beets Blu a batch of nuclear brownies or something (trust me, I bake some pretty awesome brownies). If it wasn’t for them offering me a free digital scale to review on Amazon, my current situation might have gone on even longer.

Last year my support team at my doctor’s office finally got through to me and convinced me to try NOT getting on the scale every morning when I wake up. Now, before you jump to any conclusions and say “Hey, Hot Mess, everyone knows you’re not supposed to do that” let me explain…

When I used to get on the scale every morning it wasn’t your typical “OMG I’ve gained a pound? Son of a bitch!!!” Not even close. I’m a woman. That means the numbers on the scale are going to swing back and forth. I’ve made my peace with that, within about 5 pounds. I’m really not going to sweat it. Getting on the scale every morning was just a touch base kind of thing. I just needed to see that I was still operating within those 5 pounds. If the scale ever tipped to 6 or 7 pounds, I’d walk a little more…eat a little less. I’d make adjustments appropriately. This is how I maintain my weight loss. The scale is a tool and a friend, not something that I use to punish myself with.

Enter the Beets Blu company. They contacted me recently, asking if I’d like to review their new Bluetooth scale. The Bluetooth idea intrigued me, so I said yes. My review will be coming next week, but let’s just say it’s a pretty sweet scale.

I also have to say that it’s pretty disconcerting when a talking scale gives you bad news. Really bad news. Like…super shitty.

I weighed 270 pounds when my support team told me to stop getting on the scale. They told me to judge my weight by the fit of my clothes…and that’s what I’ve been doing for the better part of a year. I’m still wearing the same jeans and tops. In fact, I’ve lost inches in some areas. So imagine my shock when the talking scale said “294.3 pounds”.

I’m sorry, what???

That’s right, peeps. In spite of the fact that my clothes still fit, I’ve gained 24.3 damn pounds. What. The. Fuck.

Now, I freely admit that some of it could be muscle…but I also know I didn’t gain 24 pounds of muscle. LOL. Let’s not get ridiculous. I’m not an American Ninja Warrior, I’m just a Hot Mess Princess.

I’m all for following the advice of medical professionals, but in this case I should have listened to myself. My relationship with the scale was working for me. It was working well. I never should have gone against my own instincts on this one.

Add to that the fact that I’ve been dealing with a shitload of foot injuries since I started trying to increase my physical activity and we’ve got a problem. I was just getting back into it again. I was getting 10,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. I was starting to shoot beyond that, even. Then I got the stress fracture…and my podiatrist took me off my feet. And, honestly, the injury was so painful that I couldn’t even stand at work (I have one of those sit/stand desk things…and I hate not using it).

The stress fracture heeled and the pain from that was gone, but my foot was still killing me. Why? Podiatrist said there’s a bone out of place in my foot and I needed physical therapy. Well…great. That’s awesome…because I married for love, not money. We’re broke. We have termites to kill, a truck with a broken clutch, and a shitload of other stuff going on. The co-insurance on physical therapy wasn’t really in the immediate budget.

I’ve been sitting on my ass a lot. Sure, there were medical reasons behind it, but the fact of the matter is that I would not have gained 24 effing pounds if I was still getting on the scale every morning. I know that’s true like I know Kardashians are assholes.

24 pounds, y’all. That’s a real dick punch. If I had one. Kinda glad I don’t. HMH probably is too. When it comes to not getting on the scale being the best thing for me, I’m calling shenanigans. Or bullshit. Whatever.

So tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be the girl who gets on the scale every morning. Because that’s my tool to take care of myself and I don’t use it to beat myself up…and no one is going to tell me differently. This is what works for me, so this is what I’m going to do for me.

Shit, isn’t that what I’m always preaching? I really borked this up. I didn’t listen to myself at all.

There is a little good news in all of this: I had my first physical therapy appointment last Friday and it was awesome. I had three different experiences with physical therapy years ago and all of them resulted in the same thing: no results at all. Sure, it was for another foot problem, but it didn’t give me high hopes for the treatment. Honestly, I was expecting the same this time. I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong.

At the most, I’ll need two more treatments to get my foot back to normal…but it already feels so much better. It’s like a brand new foot. They gave me exercises to do to help strengthen my foot and ensure that I keep the stress fractures away. I finally feel like I have a little hope in the whole foot injury department.

And what sense does it make to freak out over this? I’m a roll up my sleeves kind of girl…so here we go. Here’s my plan:

Effective immediately, the scale is my friend again. That’s just who I am.

For the next three days, I’m going to do a good old fashioned reset on my tummy. This is something gastric sleeve patients do from time to time…and my support team actually recommends it. Monday thru Wednesday will be the liquid diet of protein shakes that I was on the week after surgery.

Per my physical therapist’s orders, I’m to try and stress out my foot a little bit after today. Monday I’ll be increasing my steps. Tuesday I’ll be walking all over an airport anyway…and I’ll have water aerobics that night. Wednesday I’m back at physical therapy. Thursday I have water aerobics again…and maybe I’ll try a little elliptical or treadmill before that. I’ll decide on the weekend later. That’s enough to do for now.

Stay tuned to my Facebook fan page for updates on how this is going. I’m trying not to think about the 24 pounds and just focus on fixing the situation. Once my foot is fixed I can really ramp up the exercise and hopefully soon I’ll be in the 260’s.

For now, let’s just focus on kicking this goal in the ass. 🙂

No drama…or know drama!

When I was very young…and even as I grew older…I was a magnet for unavailable men, screwed up people, and drama. Then I finally found a therapist who could get through to me and I soon learned how to establish healthy boundaries. I learned to ensure that the actions of the people I let into my life met the words that came out of their mouths…because I was a sucker for liars.

It was many years before I built my boundaries up strong enough to keep the drama out, but I worked and worked at it until the only drama in my life was the shit I caused myself. When you cut the trouble causers from your life, it leaves a peace behind that only you can disturb. Sometimes you still disturb it, but in many ways it’s a lot easier to deal with yourself than some unpredictable shit of a person that can come at you from left field.

The fingers of dysfunction still have a tiny hold on some who are close(ish) to me…and one of them has recently been in need of help. And HMH and I let them into our lives and offered our help.

It’s only weeks later and we’re finding that we’ve been lied to. And manipulated…because this person knew what to say to us and how to say it in order to get something they wanted. There’s been plenty of drama around our normally boring, drama-free household. Drama stirs up the ghosts of the past. At least it does for me.

I worked so hard to eliminate as much drama as possible from my life. I married a drama resistant man, at least in all ways other than the occasional “Hey, y’all, watch THIS!” crap he gets up to. He does, after all, own a t-shirt that says “WARNING: I do dumb things!”. It’s all true.

So now we’re in a position of having to remove this person from our lives, which will involve to some extent a little kicking and screaming on their part as they’re shown the door. More drama. But our boundaries are declared and this person will be made to make tracks. And me? I’m finding that the entire episode is causing me a huge amount of stress.

What do I do when I stress out? What does any compulsive overeater do when they stress? They eat the world. I’ve had gastric sleeve surgery to stop myself from eating a large pizza and a pint of Blue Bell ice cream in one sitting…but I didn’t have brain surgery, so eating is still what I’m driven to do whenever I need to cope.

I can’t physically eat enough to calm myself down, but my head still wants me to. So I end up with my soul in a riot when there’s drama. I’m already an insomniac, so this makes it worse. I have nightmares. I don’t sleep much. But there are things that help:

  • Stitching. I’ve said it a million times, I know…but having a hobby that is just for me does me a world of good. It makes me count. It makes me focus. And I end up with beautiful creations when I’m done.
  • Venting. It’s not healthy to keep it in. Whether it’s Hot Mess Hubby, a friend, or just writing it down…I have to vent.
  • Being kind to others. Yeah…sometimes I catch myself feeling like everything is terrible. Doing nice things for others with no expectation of anything in return renews my faith in life.

The thing is…you can’t let it in. The drama. You can’t let it get inside your boundaries, and if you don’t have any boundaries it’s time to get some. I’m not talking about hardening your heart to the world and declaring everyone the enemy. That’s easy and stupid and not at all healthy.

  • Build healthy boundaries. Find a good therapist. Read some books about it. It takes time to learn, but you’ll learn.
  • Surround yourself with good people. How do you spot good people? Words are cheap. Do their actions meet their words? That’s the quickest way I’ve ever sniffed out an asshole. Okay, that sounded really gross, but you know what I mean.
  • Vent your frustrations in a healthy way. Get a hobby. Get away from the drama. Have good friends. You have to be there for yourself.

You’ll be amazed at how little drama you put up with once you accomplish this…and how little drama you have to put up with because you made good choices.

Ultimately, I made good choices in this situation. I knew the risks of allowing a person like this into my life, but I wanted to have faith in them and believe that they were changed. They were not. That doesn’t change the fact that I did a kind thing and tried to help someone I thought was in need. The fact that they were manipulating me is no reflection on me. It’s a poor reflection of them. The fact that I won’t fall for it again is a testament to those healthy boundaries I’ve worked so hard to build.

And so I have to do a little extra sweeping to clean the drama out of our lives…but I’ll sweep it, trust me. Soon HMH and I will be back to our fabulously awesome, boring-ass drama free lives. And loving every minute of it.