Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Sooo this is going to be the least profound thing I've ever written. You've been warned!

I knew the days (days?! when did it become days?!) leading up the the wedding were going to be stressful. And crazy. And time consuming.

And then because I'm the adventurous type, I signed up for a half marathon (my first, might I add) 9 days after the wedding.

AND THEN.... (I feel like that drive-though lady in "Dude, Where's My Car?")

And then to top it all off, I am now running a FEVER. Cool. No sarcastic pun intended.

Actually, it's not the flu. But it was still the last thing I needed right now. Did I mention my family from America is starting to arrive in less than a week?

Which is why I am taking a blogging hiatus for the next couple of weeks. I had some things written in advance, because I knew how busy I'd be preparing for everything. But you know what... I'm saying screw it for now. I need to rest, spend time with my family, work on my new settlement visa, and let's be honest, enjoy my last days as a single lady!

I will be back in action in a couple of weeks after I've rested up, visited London and Paris with the fam, and you know, gotten married!

Until then, have an amazing couple of weeks! xx

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe: What's Black, White, & Red all over?

A newspaper! Isn't that the answer to that joke? I can't really remember... I haven't heard it since I was about 7...

But what is black, white, and READ all over? Today's "Inside the Wardrobe" outfit, of course!

I wasn't really a fan of an all black and white colour scheme until I started putting together this outfit. I originally thought, I need a chic black and white dress.

And what do I find?? The total opposite.

A comfy outfit perfect for when my nose is in a book for hours.... I mean days....

See? Black and white.... and read all over! 

(And I just had to add this book to my outfit today. On Tuesday I confessed how overly obsessed I get with any good book series. The "Infernal Devices" has officially captured my heart this week. Cassandra Clare also wrote one of my other favourite series called "The Mortal Instruments". [Hint, they're making it into a movie this year. Read it before all the teeny boppers do!] I delayed buying this series because I knew I'd be an anti-social readaholic. Let's just say this readaholic relapsed. Oops.)

How do you like monochrome outfits? Are you all for this black and white trend or do you prefer to be red all over? Or green all over? Or a jubilee of colours all over??

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Useless Facts Of Tay

When I saw Whitney was doing a "Facts of Me" link up, I nearly fell over with excitement. Such a clever idea from my fellow Nole Girl!

I love random facts about people. I wish people would introduce themselves with something completely ridiculous rather than the basics. I don't care how normal you are; I want to know that you wish the sky was made of hedgehogs and have a phobia of Styrofoam. We'll be best friends forever.

So here are some incredibly useless facts about me.

1. I've lived in England for nearly 4 months, but every Sunday I still look at the Target sales ad to see what things I "need" from there. I could probably live on Mars and I'd still look at the Target ad.  

2. When I find a book or book series that I like, I go crazy and read all day long to finish it. (At the end of this week you'll get to see what world I'm currently trapped in at the moment.)

3. I want to do a triathlon. I don't own a bike or any useful swimming gear.

4. I worked on a cruise ship for four and a half months. It was both my favorite job and my least favorite job. Downside: 14 hours days and zero days off. Perk: I got paid to go snorkeling in Maui.

Look, ma! No hands!

5. My fingers are "double jointed", which just means they're overly flexible. They overextend instead of going straight. I can bend my thumb all the way forward and all the way back to my wrist. It freaks most people out.

6. I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching "Beauty Gurus" on YouTube. You'd think I was massively into make-up. Nope. I SUCK at doing makeup!! I watch all these tutorials and fail miserably at them. If someone wants to teach me, I will pay you in hugs and Harry Potter facts.

7. I love braids. French braids, fishtail braids, waterfall braids, I've even masted the 5 stranded braid.

8. I'm so overprotective of my chap stick. I feel I have super bragging rights whenever I finish some Burt's Bees without losing it. You should be able to put that on your resume.

9. I think I accidentally started collecting English sports jerseys. I have 4 Southampton FC shirt, an England football shirt, an England cricket shirt, and an England rugby shirt. Oops!

10. I also accidentally started my shot glass collection. I bought a shot glass from London and one from Paris the first time I went abroad for my friend and ended up never giving them to her. Now every place I visit I have to buy a shot glass.

11. I've never seen "The Notebook".

12. I used to LOVE making t-shirts. I was obsessed with tie dye and puffy paint. And then I would legitimately wear them out in public. I look back and am like "WTF was I thinking?!" Although, I still think this personalized homemade crossword puzzle shirt is amazing.

The perks of being a camp counselor... Being able to dress like a fool. 

13. I love the number 13! It's my lucky number.

14.  I've been to Disney World in Orlando, Disney Land in California, and Disney Land in Paris. It's my life goal to go to every Disney park in the world!

15. I hate bananas. I tell people I'm allergic to them so that they don't come near me.

16. I started going to FSU when I was 17. Here's some advice for all the kiddies out there: don't go to college until you're 18. You'll spend many nights alone, not clubbing, watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Or maybe that was just me....

This is seriously what I used to do.... Take pictures on my new laptop. Oh look, another homemade t-shirt. I wish I was kidding.

17. My hair is naturally super straight. I absolutely hate it most days.

18. I put Frank's Hot Sauce on everything. I'm so happy they sell it in England!

19. I'd probably order off the kids menu if it was more socially acceptable. I'm sorry, I don't care about your catch of the day or fresh garden salads or whatever. Give me chicken nuggets and fries, please. And one of those coloring sheets and crayons while you're at it. And a Shirley Temple. With Vodka.

20. I touched Tom Felton's hand (the guy who plays Draco Malfoy in HP) at the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premiere in London. We're best friends now (I wish).

That's him! He touched everyone hand, but mine was definitely the best.

Let's be friends! Let me know if you do the link-up!

Monday, January 21, 2013

My First Snow Day

I'm from south Florida, where there's an abundance of sun but not a lot of snow. Actually, that "not a lot" part doesn't need to be there. There is no snow in south Florida. Ever.

But Friday, I experienced what every Floridian either dreams of or dreads........

A Snow Day.

Don't judge my pink wellies.

This wasn't just any snow day. I'd call it the Snow Bonanza of 2013.

It started snowing at around stupid o'clock in the morning. (Or so we've been told. We weren't awake at stupid o'clock.) By the time Alex woke up for work, it was clear that driving was not an option as it was snowing cats and dogs. Is that a real phrase? Do people say snowing cats and dogs? Well, you get the point.

So we did what any adults would do in this situation. We made a snowman.

My first ever snow man. I've made sandcastles out the wazoo in SoFla, but I've never made a snowman until now.

I asked Alex what we should name him. He said "John". I was thinking something more festive or punny. But I didn't object. His name is John.

We invited him to our wedding. We're BFFs.

Then we did what any adults should have done first in this snow day situation. We went to the pub.

This is not the pub. This was our journey to the pub. This is also where I run. Normally it's green and has paths. Lots and lots of paths. But it has turned into a blanket of running death now. 

Shameless photo opp with pretty snow trees.

When we finally made our trek through the snow to the pub, it was packed with people! And it wasn't even 3:00 yet! Yes, schools are shut. Offices are closed. But you best believe the pub is open!

We didn't want to deal with the big groups of "shh don't tell my boss I'm here" people drinking their £8 a glass mulled cider. So we braved the cold outside before meeting up with friends.

Snow on the table keeping my cider cold. Yes, it is minus whatever degrees outside, and my concern is keeping my drink cold. Actually, not really. This just shows the amount of snow that built up on the table.

About 4 ciders and 84 pointless expat stories later (seriously, that's all people do is ask me about my Americanisms), I survived my first snow day!

Anyone else survive the Snow Bonanza of 2013 this weekend??!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe: Admiring From Afar

Let's be honest. I spend loads of time on Pinterest. Most of the time, I automatically click the humour section so I can have a good laugh at e-cards and cats. But my second favourite thing to do is to click on the women's fashion section and play a little game that I like to call "admiring from afar".

Admiring from afar can be played by anyone at anytime. It's a fun and addicting game for all ages! Basically it's online window shopping for fabulous people with a less than fabulous budget. Or less than fabulous creativity when it come to styling. Or both!

I found this outfit here. After admiring from afar for a while, I realized I had a massive outfit crush on it. 

Outfit crush for a few reasons. 
1) I love high-waisted skirts but feel like whenever I style them I look like a pilgrim. 
2) Mint green. 
3) It looks so girly without being over the top. 

I obviously tweaked my "mint to be" outfit a bit. I don't particularly like those bauble necklaces (no offense if you do! They're cute but I'd probably never buy one...) so I added a simpler necklace so you can see the pink collar on the shirt.  And the original shoes for this were bright yellow heels. I opted for a comfier and more subtle alternative.

But if I could just rip all the clothes out of the screen and put them inside my wardrobe, I would!   

What is your "outfit crush"? Do they tend to be outfits out of your comfort zone or ones that you would put together yourself?

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Want To Wear This Shirt

So I'm a crazy person and signed up for my first half marathon 9 days after I get married. This shouldn't shock anyone because I also mention wedding and/or half marathon in every single post.

Today is one month until the Brighton Half Marathon!

And I really really really want to wear this shirt.

This is the back of it.

It's definitely not the cutest race shirt out there. And I keep going back and forth about whether I should have gotten the blue instead of the charcoal. And I almost wore it once even though I haven't technically run the race yet but we all know how those running gods watch me like a hawk. 

This shirt has literally been sitting in my drawer for months. I don't know why they sent it with my race confirmation info back in September.

But I want. to. wear. it.

In exactly one month, I will wear the shirt.

But I have to run the race first. Duh!

So during my run yesterday, I buckled down and really thought about what I should be doing. What have I done right so far? What have I done really stupidly? I'm on week 13 of a 17 week plan, and I really want to make the most out of this last month.

I know I shouldn't have time goals, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have one in mind. I do have one. Kind of.

Right now, my goal is to finish around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Notice the word around. I'm okay with a potential finish above 2:30. Obviously I'm okay with below 2:30, too.

I'll get into specifics as race day approaches. For now, this is just my "one month to go" ramblings.  

Yesterday's run was the first time I become Garmin obsessed for the right reasons. Normally I check it and just want to go faster. This time, I checked it to make sure I was staying on pace and not going crazy. Because the number one stupid thing that I do is start off too quickly. I've been the queen of positive splitting recently. I'm not proud of that, but it's true.

For my "around 2:30" finish I have to consistently stay at "around 11:30" for 13.1 miles. Yesterday, all I wanted was to stay "around 11:30" for 5 miles just to prove that I could hold back.


Not sure what happened at mile four. Probs thinking about eating chocolate biscuits or something.

The point is, I'm not setting super strict goals until I've had a few more double digit long runs. Lucky for me (kind of sarcasm) those are happening for the next 3 weeks. I know I can go faster than this because I was sort of half-assing that whole "hold back" goal. But I know I could (and probably should) go slower, too. My biggest fear is going out way to fast... It always happens...

On the plus side, I bought new gels!

Anyone tried these before?

After my first 10 miler of death (where I was ready to quit half marathon training and probably just life in general) I realized I need fuel. I tried to go without it for so long. But I can't. These were recommended by the guy in my local running store. Not excited to choke them down but excited to do a double digit run with these bad boys on my side! Maybe I can finish without crawling then....  

A few questions: 
Do you run with your Garmin during a race or do you prefer to "run on feel"? 
Do you try to negative split or run at a consistent pace? 
Gel, drinks, chomps, beans, what do you like and why? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Running Story

I thought a lot on Saturday when I was out running.

I thought about how it was pouring rain and I was still in the park

I saw the other runners as soaked and cold as I was. I thought, "wow, they have dedication!

And then I thought that I had dedication, too. For the first time, I felt like a runner. Not just someone who likes to run or who just runs for fun. I felt like a runner. 

And then my Garmin died. Typical. 

Yep, exactly how I felt.
But so many people were running on (no pun intended) post-racing highs this weekend that it made me think about that one specific New Years resolution I made 2 years ago that magically turned me into a runner.

Okay, so it wasn't magic that turned me into a runner. But it was one goal I set on a whim and lots of blood, sweat, and tears.

I never used to believe in New Years resolutions in the slightest. Year after year I joked that my resolution was to "get a resolution next year". True story. 

Going into 2011, I knew I didn't want to set a resolution like "be healthy" or "get good grades". Those always seemed to be short lived. 

Randomly, I said "hey, I want to be a runner!" I didn't have any goals in mind. I just wanted to run. How hard could it be, right?

Backtracking across my whole life, I was never interested in running. I tried convincing myself I was a few times in high school. Fit people ran; I wanted to be fit. That seemed easy enough! I started a few "running logs" thinking I would see progress. I never saw any progress. I could fouett√© turn and grand jet√© for hours on end, or toss a six foot flag in the air and effortlessly catch it behind my back. Ask me to run and I'd probably curl up in the fetal position and cry. 

Truth of the matter was I never had to work out until college. Well, in my mind I didn't have to work out. I doubt that was really the case. I made my way to the gym a few times for yoga and for a boring round on the elliptical. Still no running for me.  

That about sums up college.

So why on earth did I want to become a runner? 

Still to this day in late 2012, I have absolutely no idea. I still don't really know if I feel like a runner even after Saturday's epiphany. I can easily say "I enjoy running" or "I go running often", but to other people I'd probably never say "I'm a runner." 

I get mortified when people ask, "Hey Tay, when is your marathon??" I say "omg, HALF. It's a HALF marathon!" because clearly I think the gods of running will strike me for being an imposter marathoner in training. 

I don't wear fancy compression socks. I don't separate my runs into tempo, hill, interval, easy, or any other adjective people use these days. I have good running days. I have some really fantastic running days. And then I have some really crap running days (and boy do I beat myself up about the crap running days). 

Despite all of that mumbo jumbo, I run. 

I started by walking around my neighborhood in the blistering Florida heat (rookie mistake, people). Then, I'd attempt to run. Of course I'd wait until there were no cars or people in sight (another rookie mistake; nobody really cares what you look like). I would put on an upbeat song and then motivate myself to keep going. I'd say, "run this whole song!" or "run the entire circle; it's so easy!". 

It was actually anything but easy. 

Let me break it down for you. The "circle" in my neighborhood was about .4 miles. Hilariously, I couldn't even run half of that without being winded and defeated. 

I joined a gym and slowly but surely the treadmill became my friend. I didn't really know what I was doing; I'd walk on an incline a bit or do some really awkward speed walking. But my friends were running, so I thought "why not?"

Running inside the gym felt a million times better than running outside. I didn't have to worry about running in the afternoon heat after classes or running in the pitch black night after work. 

Instead of being negative and feeling defeated, I set new goals for myself. I figured  if I could just run a bit longer (even if it was just 5 seconds longer) than I did the day before, it was a good day. So running for 5 minutes turned into 10 minutes, which turned into 20 minutes, which into my friends saying "WTF why can't I run like that?!"

I admit, some days I hit a major wall. I did my first 10 mile run a couple of weeks ago and was ready to quit half marathon training. Yes, dramatic but true. But then I thought about how far I've come. I couldn't run 10 seconds back in 2010, yet alone 10 miles. 

What I did 2 years ago kind of changed my life. And if you told me that fact 2 years ago, I probably wouldn't have believed you. 

I have a lot of goals for my future. Or maybe after the half marathon I will despise running. Who knows! But for now, I want more bib numbers on my wall. And I doubt that feeling will go away any time soon. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe: One Short Day To The Emerald City

Kermit said it's not easy being green. Love you, Kermit, but I disagree!

Green is my absolute favourite colour! More specifically, peridot green is my fave; but emerald is a lovely stone, too!

The outfit it a little bit springy for the current weather here in England, but hopefully my optimistic green polka dot dress means that the weather man will be on my side these next few months! (I kind of need him to be on my side with a February wedding coming up! And a February half marathon... Do I mention these enough?!)

Anyone recognize the Wicked lyrics?!

Is emerald (or any shade of green) a colour that's going to make many appearances inside your wardrobe this year??

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top Ten Tips For LDR

Have you ever heard the phrase "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? That's just the nice way of saying ABSENCE SUCKS BUT YOU DEAL WITH IT. And now that Christmas and New Years are over, things are starting to get back to normal, which can make the feeling of being away from someone special that much harder.

But for the most part, absence is temporary. Temporary could be weeks or it could be years.

For me, it was years. More than 3 long years of making it work across two continents.

But I'm on the other side now!

Stonehenge 2009 (my first time in England) and again in 2012 (when I started calling England my home)

I've braved the loneliness, the airport goodbyes, and the night time tears. I have lots of practice with transatlantic relationships. It wasn't ideal, but it was worth it!

So I'm here to help you!

Here are my top 10 tips for couples in long distance relationships. This isn't a list from Google or from anyone else; this is first hand experience from my LDR with Alex (who you officially met yesterday). 

1. Dates from afar - Two words. Movie date. Pick the same movie and watch it at the same time at home! I wouldn't recommend actually speaking on the phone or Skype during it, but you can text or use AIM to talk about the movie. Schedule it like an actual date and commit! You can also go to the cinema to see the same movie at or around the same time, but in 2 different locations! Alex and I saw Harry Potter 7 Part 1 "together" on different continents!

And then we saw Harry Potter 7 Part 2 together in these really stylish 3D glasses!!

2. Send care packages - Send each other little things, like sweets, chocolates, or homemade gifts. It's especially great if they are things they can't get where they live. I always sent Alex peanut butter M&Ms in his care packages!

3. Send cards - If money is tight, send cards instead! Cards are so underrated these day, but I think they're really special! Always send a card for holidays. If your partner is in a different country, it's especially funny if they are cards for holidays that the other doesn't have! I sent Alex Thanksgiving cards every year and he sent me cards for St. George's Day! Sometimes we'd stick separate letters in the card, too, that way you don't have to worry about anyone seeing your mushy coupley romantic words to each other. ( is great way to send cards as well because you can add your own pictures and really personalize the card!)

4. Don't let it stop you from having fun - There's always going to be guilt or sadness in the back of your mind that you're having fun without your partner. You're always thinking "I wonder what they're doing" or "I hope they're not worrying about me" or "I wish they were here". But the distance gives you a great opportunity to spent quality time with your friends. As long as "fun" doesn't mean "crossing lines", it's worth it.

5. Have a plan - I'm not talking about a strict "we're getting married in exactly 4 years 2 months and 16 hours" type a plan. I mean realize what's keeping you apart, work towards being together (if that's the common goal), and discuss who is moving where in the long run. I always knew I'd be the one to go to England. It was because I waned to, not because anyone forced me to. But finishing my degree was the main priority. So I made that happen; I worked my ass off to graduate a semester early in order to move sooner. Once Alex landed a great job here and I graduated back in America, the plan was to just save money to go towards our future. When the timing was right, I would move. I think you know the end to that story!

6. Don't hang out with other couples - Some things just get you down. Being with couples was one of those things for me. I couldn't hate them, but honestly, I was jealous of their proximity to each other. And most of the time, they just weren't considerate of my situation and it made me feel worse. So just don't put yourself in that situation. If your friends/their partners ask you to hang out, just decline if you don't think you can handle it. Spend time with them on their own or risk the green eyed monster putting a downer on everyone's night. If they're really your true friends, they'll understand and won't want to put you in that situation. If they don't like it, well you have other friends who you can count on. 

7. Save money - Even if you know your not moving for a few months or few years, it's never a bad idea to have a savings account for your future together. Moves are hard and expensive. The earlier you start preparing, the easier it'll be when you take the big step. Saving money also helps you visit each other often! Plane tickets and luggage fees are ridiculously expensive. Save up! It's worth it just to spend more time together!

For me, saving money meant more trips to England!

8. Never leave a long distance fight unresolved - If you're as stubborn as I am, this can be hard (kidding.... kind of). It's so easy just to hang up on someone if you're frustrated. But just like you should never go to bed angry with each other, you should never hang up angry either. It's not worth it. Sometimes the time apart makes you so upset and vulnerable. Just think about how NOT WORTH IT the fight really is.

9. Have multiple ways to communicate - This obviously gets harder if you're in different countries, but it's worth having backup even if it's costs a little money. Have each others house and cell/mobile numbers, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, AIM, just have a bunch handy in case one fails. This is obviously in case of "worst case scenarios". But it's also useful to have backup in case of bad reception or other failed technology. Any time I texted Alex (if I was going to be out for a while or wouldn't have access to a computer) I also sent him a message on Facebook just to make sure he got it. You never want anyone to panic over something stupid like poor cell phone reception.

Last but certainly not least....

10. Have confidence in your relationship and beat the stereotype - People are so quick to discriminate again long distance relationships. (Seriously, I've had "friends" ask me why I never gave anyone local a chance or asked how I am able to feel so committed to someone so far away.) In all honesty, I've seen plenty of toxic relationships when the couple lived in the same city as each other. It's not the distance, it's the people. If you're one of the strong relationships (which I'm guessing you are if you've gotten this far), have the confidence that your relationship is worthy. Beat the stereotype that LDRs don't work out. Local relationships don't work out, too! People are always going to have their opinions and that's okay. But kick the negativity out of your life if it's taking a toll on you. Politely ask the people around you to keep their opinions to themselves if they don't support your LDR.

I promise, there's a happy end to the long and winding road that is the long distance relationship highway. And for me, it wasn't even a highway. It was a transatlantic flight!

It's not easy. But it's possible. Things will work out the way that they should. It just takes time, patience, and a lot a lot a lot of trust.

If it's meant to be, you'll find a way to make it work!

Are you/have you been in a LDR? What tips would you give someone? If you've never been in a LDR, do you believe they can work? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Month To Go

Today is the 8th of January.

In one months time, I will be getting married to this guy:

I have no clue what's going on back there on the telly....

And while I could bore you with my wedding planning/outfit stressing/"I'm doing table arrangements in my sleep"/"the f**k is a hen do?!" nonsense (I'll save that for later), I realized that you've never properly met "the Fiance".

You may have figured out by now that he has a name. It's Alex.

So meet Alex! And the story behind our completely normal relationship.

We met in May 2009 while getting ready to start working at a kids summer camp.

Camp loves tie-dye!

Our first ever conversation was in the Apple store at the local mall.

He asked if I went to uni. I laughed at his accent and his use of the word "uni". I said I was studying psychology. He replies, "Freud".  Totally normal response, right?

My id was like "really?! That's what you're making me think of right now?! The Oedipus complex?! What a completely normal response! Die!". My superego was like "no, Tay, you're really stupid for feeling sarcastic right now! Be guilty!". But my ego finally responded, "Yep. Freud."

Psychology humor. 

Did I mention we've been married once before? (Kind of)

We signed some paper and even had rings! Yes, he's wearing a cowboy hat.

It was a totally real "camp marriage" at the camp carnival. And clearly lasted longer than Kim Kardashian's real wedding. Funny thing is, we weren't even together yet.

Our first date was one week after our totally real "sign a bit of scrap paper" camp wedding. We went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at midnight.

Other dates have included Paris, San Fransisco, and Disney World just to name a few.

"Dates". "Vacations". Same thing.

Most of our relationship has been long distance. And when I say "long distance", I really mean transcontinental. But we always found a way to make it work. Even if that included 5 months apart, whole summers abroad, or working on a cruise ship. True story!

We got engaged in May 2012.


He's the reason I'm an expat. Obviously, he was worth the big move across the pond!

More fun facts! 

- He was also the reason I got a passport when I was 19.

- The first time I went to England, he tricked me into thinking the supermarket called "Asda" (pronounced by normal people "as-duh") was actually called "Ay-Ess-Dee-Ay." So my entire trip I moronically spelled out the name of a store.

- He has a tattoo that says "SFC" for Southampton Football Club on his arm. He said he got it because he "loves SFC, and that will never change." I replied without even thinking, "I feel that way about Harry Potter." He called me Potter for most of that summer.

- Neither of us were able to attend each others university graduations, but we both watched each others steamed online! Technology is an amazing thing!

- He insisted on going to IHOP one morning (for the first time since his childhood Disney trip when he was 8). When the stack of pancakes was put in front of him, he scooped up the entire dollop of butter and put it in his mouth. I thought he'd gone nuts! He thought the butter was ice cream.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Alex!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Guest Post: The Need for Others During My Struggle with Mesothelioma

(Note from Tay: I was approached by Heather in late December about doing a guest post. She told me her story without even knowing a little bit about mine. Instantly, she reminded me of someone: My own mother. Not many people know, but my mom died when I was 15 from cancer. But this isn't about me; it's about Heather and her family. Stories like hers remind me of the quote about being kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own kind of battle [#26ActsOfKindness]. Since it's the New Year, it's genuinely the best time to show kindness, radiate positivity, and like Heather says, make the best out of every situation.)

The following is her guest post:

The Need for Others During My Struggle with Mesothelioma

We are dependent upon others throughout our lives. This dependency became apparent when, on August 4, 2005, my daughter Lily was born. It became even more apparent to me less than four months later, on November 21, when I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Things had been going great for myself, my daughter and the others in my life. The
diagnosis of mesothelioma brought everything to a crashing halt. I was 36 years old, but needed the help of others.
The symptoms of the disease began to appear following the birth of Lily and after I had returned to working full-time. I was feeling tired and breathless, and was loosing 5 to 7 pounds every week. I attributed my condition to the effects of being a new mother, but then decided to visit my doctor. After a myriad of tests, the culprit was identified. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. In my case, this occurred when I was a child.

I was initially informed that I had only 15 months to live. My first thoughts were of my baby. I also thought of my husband and of the prospect of them having to go on without me. I had to do whatever it would take to save my life, for their sake if nothing else.

Joined by my husband, I traveled from my home in South Dakota to Boston, where I sought care from one of the best mesothelioma doctors. I underwent a procedure that required the removal of my left lung. I then spent 18 days in the hospital, after which I began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

A was unable to care for Lily during the period of treatment and recuperation, and had to turn the task over to my parents. There were a host of others who helped out. Girls I had cared for as a baby sitter volunteered to care for Lily when my parents had to work. Others with whom I had grown up also offered their assistance.
My contact with Lily came in the form of copies of pictures. These grainy images were enough to remind me that she was the reason I had to fight for my life. My struggle has also taught me something that I can share with others, and that is to embrace and make the best of everything that life throws at you! 

To learn more about Heather, visit her Facebook Page

Friday, January 4, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe: New Year, New Me!

I thought a lot about what I wanted 2013 to encompass. I came up with many different adjectives. Bold. Determined. Creative. I couldn't decide on one, yet alone an outfit to incorporate this adjective into.

As you may or may not know, a lot is happening in 2013! More specifically, next month I get married and run my first my first half marathon. Not in the same day though! But nearly in the same week. I know, I'm crazy.

I finally decided that the new me is going to be fearless.

Being fearless doesn't mean not having fears. It means controlling and overcoming them when it matters most. I think that's what I need most this year; to throw myself in wholeheartedly to situations both in and out of my comfort zone. I realized that I like taking risks and also taking control of situations.

This is the "toughest" outfit I could muster to show my fearlessness. When I think of being fearless, I think of the color black, but also a bold "in your face" color. I fell in love with this top and decided these leather-like jeggings were completely out of my comfort zone!

Here's to a fearless 2013!

What's your "new year, new you" word for 2013?? 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoughts About Last Year

2012 is officially last year... How crazy is that?!

But that also means that it's time for life to start going back to normal. The Fiance is back to work. No more over eating every box of chocolates that I lay eyes on. The telly isn't playing any more Christmas specials or Big Fat Quizzes of the Year. Major bummer. 

Every year, I think "this is going to be my year". 

In many ways, 2012 was my year. I thought a lot about what I learned in those 366 days (yes, leap year. When you work on a cruise ship, that extra day counts....) and I wrote down a million things like "Norovirus is scary" and "I like guacamole" (yes, I definitively learned I like guacamole in 2012). 

But I'll save you those real gems of my mind and just tell you the important things that I learned.

Sounding British doesn't take that long to kick in - I was speaking to an American friend and she said I sounded so British. My accent hasn't necessarily changed, but the emphasis I put on certain words, or how I finish sentences apparently sounded British! I thought that was funny and scary at the same time. 

Hiya, you alright, mate?!

Don't underestimate yourself - 2012 really taught me how to think more confidently about myself in many aspects. My abilities. My working skills. My writing. But most drastically my running. I'm so quick to say how slow I am. And yeah, I guess when you compare my splits to someone trying to sub-2:00 a half marathon or people who whip out 8 minute miles, I am slow. But I've improved so much since this year started, and that's what I need to focus on.

Don't overestimate yourself - At the same time, I'm only human. I have good days and bad days. Just because I ran a 31:13 5K doesn't mean I will run that or faster every single week. There's a big difference between setting realistic goals and overestimating what is physically possible.

(Pic taken while parasailing in Cabo!)  

You can't please everyone - I feel like I've been relearning this for a few years now. No matter how well you know someone, you find out their hard limits eventually. This year, it was finally moving to England and planning a wedding in another country while my parents ranted about it. Russell Howard said something hilarious recently... "I hate phrases like 'blood is thicker than water'.... Well so is yogurt!" It just summed up how I felt so perfectly. Please the people you need to please. If that means yourself, so be it!

Don't forget to have fun - Make time for fun. It's as simple as that. Fun is a morale booster unlike any other.

Working 14 hour shifts? Fine by me if I can play with dolphins afterwards.

Dreams come true - Cheesy without even elaborating. But it's true. Patience is an amazing thing that I most definitely don't possess. But waiting is worth it when it comes to following what you know is right for you.

Did you have any grand life lessons in 2012? What were they? Any life lesson is welcome, including but not limited to "bananas are gross" or "I don't enjoy Gangnam Style even though most of the world does".

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

As Of Lately...

Hello from 2013! Actually, everyone is in 2013 right now so that's not really a unique statement.

I've been super busy.... Doing a whole bunch of nothing! That's only kind of a lie. But I've been neglecting the blog a bit in favor of eating, drinking, more eating, and spending quality time with the Fiance.

But specifically, here's what I've been up to lately!

Becoming a wizard - Obviously. What else do people do in their spare time? The Fiance and I decided to buy "Harry Potter Book of Spells" for Play Station Move with some Christmas money.

It basically turns this:


Into THIS:

I'm on the telly! And I'm a wizard!

It turns that plain blue book into the Book of Spells and the Move remote into a wand.

Mind = Blown.

It's for ages 7 and up. I definitely fit the "and up" part of that. Three times up as a matter of fact. But I don't really care.

I'm levitating a frog. That's cool at any age.

The pages change when you turn each page as you can see above. Clearly there's a vortex of doom on that page, and I'm levitating a frog. All in a day's work.

Seriously, if you're an HP fan or just mind boggled by technology, you need this in your life!

Rocking a Christmas jumper - Oh yes, I was jolly for jumpers! So was the fiance.

Christmas Eve Party! Love our clashing patterns!

Wedding Prep - It's January. I get married next month! The wedding prep is practically all done. Little things like shoes, jewelry, and finalizing numbers had to be done over this nice little Christmas/New Years break.

Running - Duh! Lots of running has been happening. Did I mention it's January? That means I run a half marathon next month, too! Holy crap! But I got the Garmin Forerunner 110 for Christmas (thanks, Fiance!) and have loved staring at all the statistics it shows me!! I will run my first double digit mileage this weekend, and I'm kind of excited!

Shopping for the necessities - Necessities have so far been the Book of Spells and new running clothes. I needed some warmer running gear for winter. Except for this one shirt that matched my Team Sparkle skirt....

No I'm not trying to look like Tinkerbell... It's just my fave color!

Reading at a dreadfully antisocial rate  - I got 3 books for Christmas and finished 2 of them before the New Year. I promise I interacted with human beings during that time. I just get sucked into books so easily! #BookwormStatus

Going to Football (soccer) games - SFC drew against Arsenal yesterday (1-1). Very pleased with that result considering Arsenal is one of the best teams in the league!

I hope 2013 has been treating you well so far!

(Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. I purchased every item with my own money and have not been compensated in any way by mentioning these products.)

What have you been up to?? Shopping? Defeating Voldemort? Tell me!