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Monday, January 28, 2013

Challenging week.

It's Monday, and confessional time!  I am happy to say that I am down again this week, even if it was only by .8.  I am happy with this, because I went to Calgary for two days, and I am proud of myself because I still stuck somewhat with eating healthy.  I had no drinks, or fast food, save some pad thai, which I didn't completely finish.  And let me tell you, there is something about staying in a hotel room that makes you want pizza, lol!  But I didn't give in, and I didn't give in when it was easier to at the airport...I kept walking until I found a spot selling some salads and sandwiches. 

So while I am not down by much, I did not give in too badly.  I think the challenge for me to start kicking it up is to find some exercise that I can do inside, because this cold weather just sucks! 

But I will tell you something fantastic that happened this week.  I went to find a new outfit when I was in Calgary to wear to Oprah's show, and I went into the dressing room with size 16 pants.  I had not bought new pants since before I started losing weight almost a year ago...I know, I know, I have issues...but anyway, the 16s were too big!  I had to ask  the sales lady to bring me a size 14.  Once I exited the dressing room with the new 14s on, and much to my delight the sales lady confirmed what I had thought...the 14 was to big as well!  So I am back into a size 12 pant, and the journey continues! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lord, why does this have to be so hard?

Okay, so it's Monday, so that means it was a weigh in night for me.  I was not feeling as confident going tonight as I did last week, and I had reason....I lost, but only a pound.

And let me tell you, I was still good over the last week.  No fast food, no alcohol(well most of the time), and only one small serving of pasta during the whole week.  We went to an event at the local college one night, and we ate out before hand, but I was so good, I looked up the menu before we left and picked low calorie items and stuck to the plan....except for one glass of wine.  And on Saturday night, with friends over, over a period of four hours I had two glasses of wine.  So that was my cheat for the week.  I expected a loss, but I was hoping for a bigger number. 

So why does it have to be so hard?  It was so easy to put the weight on!  You would think that once you made the commitment that the weight would slip off just as easily.  But while flipping through the TV stations the other night, one five minute segment caught my eye, and CLICKED...it was the Biggest Loser, and they were telling a man that he had to start exercising and eating better.  In response, he said that he did not have the time to fit in exercise, and cooking meals took too much time.  We are all busy, and admit it, it is just easier to have something quick, or to sit to relax in the evening for a few minutes instead of trying to fit in some exercise.  Well, the woman asked him, "If you had cancer, would you take the time to go get chemo?"  Well, yes he said, of course!  Well when we carry extra weight around, especially large amounts of it, it affects our body just like a cancer...it might take longer, but it is killing us just the same.  That has stayed with me over the last couple of days, after doing chemo, how could I not be looking after my body better now?  I am humiliated to think how lucky I am to still be here, and this is the thanks I give to my body.  Things must change, and I will continue on this journey.

Now I will have a challenge over the next two days, since I will be going to Calgary to see Oprah.  I hope that I can stay on a healthy eating track and fit some walking in to help as well. 

Let me know how you are doing, we have a great group going on Facebook, drop me a note if you would like to be added!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Love in the Newspaper Business

My love of the written word came early in my life, I can remember my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ralph would come to visit in Mabou Harbor, and they would bring literature from the big city of Halifax.  I kid you not, when I heard they were coming, I would land at my Nanny's house as they were taking in their bags, so I could have first dibs on the bags that they would bring full of magazines, books and even newspapers.  Nanny would let me take some picks from the bags, and then when I was finished, I could bring them back and pick some more.  I was one of those kids who would sneak a flashlight into bed so I could keep reading at night, and my mother would chase me outdoors on beautiful summer days, telling me to get my nose out of the books for a while.

But growing up in rural Cape Breton, back 30 years ago, you did not meet many writers, and I certainly did not meet anyone who was a writer for a living.  I left home to go off to college never thinking I could do anything with my writing, other than to keep a journal for my own outlet.  Years went by, and I kept coming back to wondering if I could ever write and be able to share it.  My boys were about 7 and 5 when I really started spending more time writing again, and my best friend, Tammy, and my ever supportive husband kept encouraging me to send some of my work some where, any where really.  I think I finally caved when Tim asked me something like, "Why bother writing if you are never going to do anything with it?"

I sent a few column ideas to the local paper, The Reporter, and within a day or two I heard back from the editor, Jake Boudrot.  I had my first writing job, and column with the paper, and my first editor in Jake.  I will always be grateful for that job, it was the opportunity that I needed to start sharing, and receiving feedback.  And in Cape Breton, I got lots of both, lol.  If no one else ever thought I was a good writer, at least, I thought, Jake thought I was good enough to hire for his paper.  It was an ego boost, and needed!  I continued with the paper until after I moved to Fort McMurray. 

But when I moved to Fort McMurray, the thought of looking for a writing job never crossed my mind.  I had no degree, and I happily repeated that to anyone who asked why I wasn't writing.  However, to get a house out here, I needed a job for the mortgage, and I applied and landed a job with the registry office.  It was another job that I was grateful for, but I was not cut out for a customer service job where many days the customers were irate about one thing or another.  After eight months or so, I gave my notice.  Now here is where the story gets good.

On my very last day of work, just before Christmas I was helping the girls in the office work our way through another long line.  We were locking the door, and I was just going to start closing my desk when a gentlemen came in and asked if he was too late to do a registration, it would be his last day to do it before the end of the month since we were closing over the holidays.  I waved him over to my desk, and one of the girls said how he would be my last customer.  "Oh really?", he asked, "I suppose you are going to site are you? "  A few people had asked me what I was going to do next, and Tim and I had agreed that I would take something if it interested me, and otherwise we would once again adjust our lifestyles so I could be home with the kids full time again. 

No, I answered, I had no job lined up yet, and I wasn't sure what to do.  He lifted his head from signing his paper, and said, "Well, you are in Fort McMurray, if you could have any job you wanted and get paid for it, what would it be?"  I paused a second before saying, "I would be a writer."  I thought maybe he would laugh, or shake his head like so many others before had, and say something like, "Oh, why would you want to do that?"  But instead he looked intently at me, and asked if I was serious.  Well, yes, I was serious, but....I had no degree, I was not a writer. 

The man asked if I had ever written anything, and I explained about my small column back home, and that I had lots of other "pieces" that I worked on for myself.  And then I will never forget the next minute, when he took his card out of  his black 3/4 length jacket and handed it to me.  His name was Tim O'Rourke, and he was the publisher of the Fort McMurray Today, the only local daily newspaper.  He told me to send him some of my work and he would hand it onto his editors.  That was on December 21st, and it took me until December 27th to finally build enough courage to send him a few things.  On December 29th, Mike Hall, my new editor called me and offered me my first full time job....as a paid writer!  I had two editors at the Today, Mike, and Dan MacEachern, and I can easily say five and a half years later, that it was the best job I ever had, and I loved meeting everyone in the community and writing about their stories.  And I can also say that Dan and Mike taught me more working with them that I had learned in many, many years.  I was so eager to not mess up or disappoint them that I would bring the CP style book home from the office to learn where to put my commas and how to use my quotation marks.  Mike was like a walking encyclopedia, and we had fascinating conversations about life in Alberta, politics, and his beloved Fort McMurray.  Dan took the time when I needed it to talk about an idea for a story, or advice on how to deliver a story in the best way possible.  I felt blessed, it was like I had rich resources in the room with me every day.  I am sad to say that Mike passed away, and Dan moved back East, but their influence was greater than either of them probably ever realized. 

And then we had life interrupt again, I had health issues, and then we adopted our little girl, and she had health problems, so I once again decided to be home as a full time mom.  But I worked with more wonderful editors from home for the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Breton Post, and kept writing at least a little bit every week.  But after three and a half years, I found that I had the itch to get back into the game and start writing locally again.  I sent an email to the editor at the Today, Jessica McIntosh, wondering if there was anything available at the paper.  And again, fate or timing, or whatever you want to call it was on my side.  They were changing over the website to a new format, and were looking for some community bloggers or writers, and after a meeting with the publisher, Mary-Ann Kostiuk, I was back to "work".  They have been wonderfully supportive as I find my voice again and explore issues that interest me. 

I have met others who have a love/hate relationship with their editors, but I have been blessed and give mine credit for guiding me to this point, when I am finally ready to start putting my work to an even bigger field, and finishing up my first book.  Great thanks to each and everyone of you, your support really does make a difference! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New blog theme for month

The last few months I had mostly blogged about my experience of when I was sick.  But just before Christmas I had done a few days of "gratitude", and I had such great feedback from those posts, and had people saying that they were stopping to say thank you to people in their lives, that I wanted to continue.  So the last few days I sat down and worked on quite an extensive list of people, places and things that I love, that I cherish, and that have shaped me to somehow make me into the person that I am today.  With Valentine's Day coming up in a month, I thought it would be a great time to share all this love.  There will be some people that you may have never heard of before, but they made a difference in my life, and perhaps by hearing our stories of connection it will make you think of someone, and you will get in touch with them as a result.  It will be a fun project for me, as I even had fun just doing the list.

I will start with the obvious, and I am sure he will come up a few times in the next month, and that is my husband, Tim, who I have now been with for almost 20 years, and married for 18 of those year.  To say that we have had a "perfect" marriage would be a lie, as any of you who are married know, there are many things that happen in your lives together that will test your patience, your love and your commitment.  We have been broke, out of work, we have lost babies, loved ones and friends, and we have had days where we have been on each others last nerve, and yes, I know I can drive him just as crazy as he drives me on my bad days.  But we have also been married, had babies, made moves, had trips, and yes, lost loved ones....all together.  We have a history together that I would not trade for all the money in the world.  He knew my grandmothers, and I fell in love with his grandfather, when I start a story about something from years ago, he will sometimes pick up the story, and he laughs when I knowingly ask him if he remembers a certain story...because I know how terrible his memory is, and if he didn't have me around he would lose most of his past life. 

We were just 22 when we got married, and I was totally, madly and completely in love with him.  So many people thought we would never last-that as we grew older we would grow apart.  But I think our love has changed since then, but it has not lessened, we are more complimentary of each other, as he often leads with his head, and I with my heart.  He married me when I did not think I would ever have children, and he thought I was enough...that was a huge thing for me at that time, and even now when I think that he was willing to give up the opportunity to ever have a biological child to be with me, well, it staggers me.  He has believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, and I have supported him when others thought I was insane for following him into new adventures. 

There were times when I thought we were done, especially when we made the move across the country to Fort McMurray.  I was not sure what I wanted at that time, and the new city and taking on things when I left all my friends, family and comfort zones was very hard.  But we recommitted and pushed through because we thought it was the best thing for our family, and it turned out that it probably the best thing that we have done for our family in all our 18 years together.  But in the last year or two we had grown complacent, I would not say we were taking each other for granted, but we were busy.  Busy with kids, busy with work, busy with life, but not really standing still for each other.  That all changed on July 18, 2012, when I received a call that not only reminded me that I loved Tim, but it terrified me to think of what my life would look like without him.  I am still not quite ready to write all about that day yet, but Tim was hit by a drunk driver, and even today, over 180 days later, I get overwhelmed when I think of how differently that day could have ended.  The Catholic girl in me had not said that many prayers in quite a few years, I bargained with God all day that I would be a better wife, if he would just let Tim be here with me.  It was a great reminder for me that I am blessed to have him in my life, and I can only hope that we have another 20 years together. 

All the posts will not be this long, or "sappy", and some will be very funny for the people they are about.  Mom and Dad, you made the list, so sorry, but you will be written about eventually this month...but it's all good!

Monday, January 14, 2013

How did my first weigh in go?

So tonight was the first weigh in for me to see if I gained or lost since I made the decision to start looking after myself better.  I am happy to report that was down 3.4 pounds.  It was definitely easier this week having Tim(hubby) on board and eating what I was eating, and he even took it on as a challenge and found a few different recipes for us to try as well. 

I just cut out the bad things that I was indulging in too much to start, like pasta, cheese, and absolutely not a sip of alcohol.  I didn't struggle too badly, except for the night that friends invited us over for supper.  She is a great cook, and I knew that drinks would be offered.  I did good though, and just sipped a glass of wine for most of the evening, and supplemented with water.  I think if I can stay on track 90% of the time, but if you take away my chocolate completely it would be very ugly.

The next step will be to try to coordinate adding in some more exercise to my routine.  I have added in some walking but for now that was about it this week, I just have to make the time to start doing an exercise DVD into my day, or maybe I should take a trip down to the basement and try to start liking that hated elliptical machine that Tim bought for himself, but that sits there mocking me every day as I go by to do laundry. 

I hope everyone who has joined me in this adventure had a good week as well, and I think I will start posting some of the healthy recipes that I find...or at least the tasty ones! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life after the transplant

I thought I would sit down and condense some of my story, of what happened after the life changing experience of having a bone marrow transplant. I still say that I would not wish the experience on anyone, but my life after the fact was more blessed.  It was an experience that made me wish so much to stay alive that I think I felt everything more intensely afterwards. 

Just a few months after I was finished treatment, I was sent to a fertility specialist, who confirmed my worse fears, I would never have children.  The confirmation was devastating, and back then I was not offered any thing like freezing my eggs before the transplant.  The unit was brand new in Halifax, and it just was not discussed.

I went back to St. F.X. in the fall of 1993, but it just was not the same.  I struggled with wanting to be there, I felt like school was now a waste of time for me, I wanted to get on with "real life" and many who were the same age as me seemed so immature with their partying and lack of direction.  Now of course, I wish I could have gone back to school and been as carefree as many others were, but things had changed.  Many tried to convince me to stay, and I did until the end of the year, but I felt kind of lost, and did not know what to do with my life any more.  It is one of my only regrets in life, I wish I had finished, I wish I had an "X" ring to put on my finger, it feels like something that just went unfinished. 

But then I fell in love.  Tim and I actually started dating when I was still bald and puffy from the steroids, so you know it must have been real love.  We got engaged in 1994, and married at the young age of 22 in 1995.  We were away on a trip to the United States late in 1996 when I began feeling rundown.  I thought maybe the rigors of the trip were making me tired, as I was falling asleep every where, but Tim was worried that I was getting sick again and that my counts were down.  As a lark one night in a hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, I did a pregnancy test, and it was positive.  I sent Tim out to a local drugstore, and he landed back with two more, and two more positives.  We sat perched on the end of the bed staring at the results, scared of getting excited, and really not knowing what to thing.  The first thing the next morning we were off to a medical clinic on Blue Ridge Road(funny how some details stay with you), where they confirmed the test again, but said given my history, I better get myself checked out with my doctors.  We left for Nova Scotia that very day.  Every doctor seemed baffled, and warned us that we likely would not carry a healthy baby, and they seemed to be right as complication after complication seemed to pop up.  But against all odds, I carried my baby for nine months, and then we were warned "it" would not be healthy, or that I would not be able to deliver.  Again, we proved them all wrong.  Thomas Mitchell Murphy was born on June 28, 1997, absolutely perfect and healthy.  I remember on the 29th a doctor coming in and saying, "Well, I don't know how this happened, but it will never happen again."  Two years later on June 30th, Nathanial Bernard Murphy joined the Murphy ranks, and was again, in a word, perfect.

I had everything I had ever dreamed of when I was sick.  A husband who loved me, and children of my own who made me feel love that overwhelmed me on every level.  But what else was in store for me in this journey of life?  More things that I ever imagined, and I will continue to share our journey right here next time. 

But before I go today, I would like to ask you to think about something, and that is to register to become a bone marrow transplant.  There are many people right across the country right now who are searching for a match.  You now know some of my story, and how blessed I was that my sister, Virginia was a match.  I often will stop and think, " I wonder who is in the bone marrow unit in Halifax today, and I wonder how they are doing."  Last night on Facebook I learned about another mom of two who is looking for a match right now, you might be the person who gives her family the gift of life.  To register you can go to www.blood.ca and find out how to become a donor, and now it is as easy as receiving a kit in the mail and swabbing your cheek and sending the kit back in the mail.  Not even a blood test like it use to be.  And if you are a match?  There will be some blood work and other tests to make sure you are a good match before they harvest your bone marrow.  And the procedure now to do that is so non-invasive that you are in and out in a morning.  But the gift of life that you give for that is something that I just cannot describe.  At different times over the years I have tried to explain to Virginia how grateful I am for the life she has given me.  Words continue to fail me there...how do you thank someone for giving you life?  For allowing you to fall in love and feel joy?  How do you describe to someone that without them that you would never had traveled, gave birth, and just had a chance to experience everything that is sweet?  If you ever have the chance to donate, that person will feel the same eternal gratefulness.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Shocking!

Okay, so I said I would do this, but now that the time has come, it is WAY harder than I thought.  In my last blog post, I told you that I would post my weight here tonight from when I went to Tops for the first time.  Well, I arrived home about an hour ago, and it took me that long to sit down and have a cup of tea and build up my courage...I would have had a drink for the courage, but apparently there are a lot of calories in alcohol, lol.

So the number is....drumroll, please!  Today, I looked at the number, and I knew that I was up there, but it was 204.4.  There you go, there it is for all the world to see.  The good news is that last year when I was back and forth to the doctor a lot before they found out what my problems were, I had hit 232 at one point, so I am down since last year, but tonight it feels like I have so very far to go before I am at a healthy weight again. 

But today I start, and next Monday night, I hope to give you a smaller number.

And for all of you who have sent me an email and are ready to start your journey with me, I guess the best forum is going to be a Facebook page where we can all check in with each other, provide support, motivation and a shoulder to cry on when we need it.  I hope to have time to sit down tomorrow and get that done, and I will send it to everyone who said they wanted to do this together. 

I will also admit that I am a bit down tonight, as I really can't believe that my number is so high, I weighed about 30 pounds less than this on the day Mitchell, my oldest was born, and that was before I gave birth.  Ugh...okay, I can do this, right?  I need to do this!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year and Old Habits

When I got married I weighed 126 pounds, and I can seriously remember thinking that I felt overweight and "chunky" in my dress.  Seriously, what was I thinking?  I never struggled with my weight, even after having my two boys I quickly lost the weight and was wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans in a few short weeks.  But then in 2000 I got pregnant, and lost the baby just after announcing it to everyone, and I was emotionally destroyed.  People said to me how I was lucky I had two great kids already, and that I wasn't suppose to have any....which was all true, but it did not mean that I felt any less pain about the baby that I had lost.  I spiraled and hid from many how much pain I was feeling, but Tim had to listen to me cry almost every night, and God love him, he comforted me over and over.  Slowly, I started coming around, and by October of that year, we were pregnant again.  This time I was so excited, and pictured a little girl from the instant I knew that I was pregnant.  But when I started having complications, things went very badly, very fast.  I lost complete control of my body, and I once again, I lost my baby.  But it was different the second time, I was suffering physically so much that I did not mourn as much...I was in an almost panic that I needed to get better for my boys.  There would be no more babies, no more trying.  And that is when I started gaining weight.  I am not sure if something physically happened to my body, or if I really just started comforting myself with food, but slowly the weight started going up. 

It is funny that in the first line, I had no trouble telling you my skinny weight, but when I tell you that at my highest I hit 230, I cringe.  I can't believe that I had let things go so out of control with my body, and my health.  But in 2012 many things changed for me, and my family.  I had a few very bad health scares, and of course, Tim was in a very bad car accident and has been off work for six months.  But I have to believe that God was sending us some lessons, and if we didn't pay attention, he would keep giving us some hard lessons.  So what I have taken away from 2012 is that I have not been paying attention to the things I should have been.  The kids have always been our first priority, and that will probably not change too much, but in being so busy with them, Tim and I sometimes forgot that we should have fun together, alone, and apart, and that if we don't make the time for those things, they won't happen.  And I remembered this year that if I do not look after my body, it simply will not work the way it should.  Raise your hand if you feel like you lack the energy to get through some days, or if you just feel like you are slogging through your days.  Yep, some mornings I was getting up and thinking, "If I can just get a few things done today...". 

For the last few years, I have hated when we go on vacation because it is the time that Tim always wants to take pictures, and I hate getting my picture taken.  With braces on now, I have a new excuse on why not to take my picture, but for the last five years or so, it has been a fact that I do not want to get my picture taken, as I simply feel so overweight that I do not want others looking at me.  Which is silly, as I know people are looking at me every day, but I guess it is different for me when it is documented, and I have to look at myself.
I dread going out, as I have put of buying new clothes, because if I just lose a few pounds I will fit back into other pants.  Well, 2013 is going to be different.  It is the year that I take back control, that I feel healthy again, and yes, in the process, I will lose weight.  It is the year that I will change old, bad habits, and create a healthier lifestyle, and not just for myself, but for the whole family.  When I had the two boys, it honestly did not cross my mind as much, but now that I have a little girl, I want to show her how to eat healthy, and to have a healthy body image.  We are all far too critical of ourselves, and while I know I will never see 126 again, I know that where I sit right now, that it is not good for my health.  Tomorrow night I will be joining Tops(which stands for taking off pounds sensibly), and when I get my first official weight, I will post it in a blog, and if you feel like joining me I would love to have the support.  I will try to keep posting more frequently this year as well!  Let the journey begin.