March 10, 2015

This & That

My This&That beauty edition made me realize I wanted to do a regular This&That because there were so many things I wanted to add, but couldn't because...well, then it wouldn't have been a beauty edition. So here we go with a "normal" one...


  • I don't know why I've never thought of this before (thanks Pinterest!), but I'm currently in love with this amazing combo of chopped apples, melted peanut butter, chocolate chips and I add a few raisins too. Next time I might even get crazy and add coconut! There's just something about it, I can't get enough. I suppose you could just cut it into slices and spread everything on each slice, but something about chopping the apple makes it better....probably because there is more surface area of each bit to be smothered in peanut butter. Ha! I would post a recipe, but I bet you're smart enough to figure it out :)

  • I'm officially on the essential oil bandwagon. No, I'm not selling them. No, I don't think they're a magic cure-all for every ailment that ever existed. No, they don't work for me every time. Now that all that is out of the way, I will say that I'm really excited about them and have already seen some cool benefits! I originally looked into essential oils as a natural way to help me deal with my vertigo and the anxiety that vertigo produces in me. I'm not prone to anxiety, but when it looks like the walls in your house are tilting and you can't ever seem to find a straight horizon...anxiety is bound to creep up. So far I have: Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Lavender, Cedarwood, On-Guard, a Focus blend and an Anxiety blend (aka liquid Xanax). I've had the most relief from Lavender for headaches and Peppermint for mild vertigo. I'll be honest, nothing can touch the crazy vertigo spells but Peppermint certainly helps when I feel just a little bit "off".  I even got a cool little diffuser to bring to CA with me! It's all a big experiment at this point, but I like what I see so far!

  • The countdown is on to California! 3 weeks until we leave! At this point, I feel virtually no fear about the surgery itself. That's a pretty big change from where I was just a month ago when I felt like fear was swallowing me up. I've had a lot of time to think, pray and rest in God's assurance that He lead us to UCLA and He will bring me through this. I'm mildly apprehensive about recovery. I've never been through this before and I have no idea what my recovery will be like. But I do know that God is faithful and powerful and His presence will never leave me and that helps immensely. I've been compiling a list of Scriptures to read and a great playlist of worship music to listen to. Even if my world is upside-down, I know God's truth will ground me.
  • I can't tell if God is just being ironic or this is a sign that everything will be ok, but I've been having a crazy flood of prospective clients lately. I typically get 100 inquires per year from prospective clients (that's not my booking rate, just inquiries). This year, I'm on track to have triple that number. Bananas. The Denver Post published a fun elopement article a while back, featuring some of my work so maybe some of these people read it, but aside from that I have no clue why I've had such an increase in activity! The sad thing is that virtually everyone who contacts me is getting the standard response of "Thank you so much for contacting me! At this time, due to unforeseen medical circumstances, I am not able to accept any new clients for 2015...." I've lost soooooo much income by turning away these lovely brides, it's painful. Regardless, I am 150% confident that God will provide, He already has in so many way! This will be a light year for sure. But it will be good so that I can focus on healing. God has everything planned out already. 
  • Can we talk about the season finale of The Bachelor for a sec? YAY! I was kind of always secretly hoping Whitney would be "the one." Maybe it's because she's a fertility nurse and she reminds me of all the wonderful nurses I worked with at Dr. B's office. Maybe it's because she was one of the only sane girls on this season. Oh, I also really loved her choice of pink lipstick...it was like every time she was on camera, she chose a killer shade of pink and I have to give her props for that! Regardless, the finale made me happy last. Now as for having 2 bachelorettes for next season...I'm not so sure about that. I'll hold off on making a judgement until I actually see the first episode :)

  • I've been taking lots of beautiful drives lately. It's no secret that I LOVE driving (hence my love for road trips and my secret desire to be a truck driver), there's something about it that calms me. I love listening to music, looking at the scenery, praying...it's wonderfully restorative. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's where I overcame a lot of my fear about surgery. God met me on some of those winding mountain roads and I'm so very grateful.


March 4, 2015

This&That: Beauty Edition

I've tried so many awesome products lately I decided to do a whole This & That devoted just to fun beauty things that I've tried. As always, my favorites are cruelty-free. Yay happy bunnies! :)

  • Archipelago Botanicals Coconut Body Butter. I love my in-laws for many reasons, one of them being that they buy me yummy smelling things from their niece's beauty store in Nashville from time to time. When my mother in-law brought home some of Archipelago Botanicals body butter, I almost died. The smell is awesome! I'm a sucker for anything scented with coconut. Combine the smell with a luxurious texture, this stuff is a keeper. This stuff is reeeeaaally rich, probably not something I'd put in my purse and use during the day. It's great for putting on before bed for all night moisture, my hands always feel great in the morning! 
  • Too Faced Primmed and Poreless Primer, BB and Foundation Powder. It's a winning trio! The primer is awesome, it smoothes out lines evenly and allows the BB cream to really stick and stay on all day. The powder is my favorite though because it gives great full coverage without being cakey. By the end of the day, my makeup is still on and usually without filling in all the wrinkles itty-bitty, barely noticeable, fine lines around my eyes ;) I've tried a lot of different foundations, powders and BB creams and this trio is my all-time fav.
     














  • It's A 10: Miracle Leave-In Potion. Oh wow, this stuff is so good! The smell is incredible and it always leaves my hair feeling thicker, healthier, shinier and smooth. I originally got it to help with winter static because in the winter it often looks like I've just stuck my finger into a socket. I love that it doesn't make my hair feel sticky or full of product. My hair is already thick and it tends to feel "gunky" if there is too much stuff in it. I swear I could use the whole bottle of this stuff and it would still feel great!


  • NYX Concealer in a Jar. I'm always on the hunt for the right concealer. Something that doesn't wear off after 30 minutes or gets too thick. This stuff absolutely fits everything I need. You can use a concealer brush to apply or just dab a bit on your fingers. It's really good for blemishes, under your eyes and evening out any red areas. A little goes a long way so this little pot should last forever! Plus, you can't beat the price tag ($5!) of NYX! 





  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Ahem....setting aside the name and my commentary about the person who named this' sex life...this stuff is pretty darn good. I used to adore Benefit's They're Real mascara, but since learning that they're not cruelty-free, I made the switch over to Too Faced. And to be honest, I actually like this better than Benefit's! One of my biggest pet peeves about They're Real was that it was impossible to take off. You had to buy a whole separate remover from Benefit or practically pluck your eyelashes off while trying to scrub it off. Not the case here with Too Faced! This stuff comes off rather easily when you're ready. The wand is a bit intimidating, it looks chunky and scary, but it goes on easily without any clumping. And you get almost the same fullness and length as Benefit.




  • Organix Shampoo & Conditioner Currently, I'm obsessed with their Kukui Oil shampoo and conditioner. The smell is incredible! I've also used the Coconut Water and Argan Oil. I feel like it does a great job cleansing and moisturizing without stripping your hair or over gunking it up too much. Plus, you can find it at just about any drugstore or grocery store. Hooray!


  • And now for some sad news. 2 of my faaaaaavorite brands have started testing on animals, so I'm no longer supporting them. ::sniffle:: EOS (evolution of smooth) and Algenist both started selling their products in China recently, which requires animal testing, so I have to scratch them off my list. Waaaaaaaaaa! This means I'm now in the market for a complete new skincare system (gah!) and a new favorite lip balm. The lip balm isn't something I'm worried about because there are a gazillion good ones out there, but the skincare system.....oiy. On a positive note, this does mean I get to try out all sorts of new brands I've had my eye on lately, so that's fun! And I will say that I thnk China is inching closer to eliminating the requirement of animal testing, so hopefully in the not too distant future, I'll be able to buy some of my favorite products again. 

February 21, 2015

Winter Camping

Camping in the winter! That's a new item I can cross off of my bucket list. We've talked about it for years but never actually acted on it...until now! We've had unseasonably warm temperatures here lately (except for today...it's currently a blizzard outside ha!), so when we saw that last friday and saturday night were calling for a lows in the mid-30s (that's really warm for the mountains in February!) we decided to pulled the trigger and headed for the hills. Crazy, I know.

We loaded up just like any other camping trip, maybe adding an extra set of gloves and an extra sleeping bag. :) Quick drive to RMNP and we were in the campground. They keep one campground on the east side of the park open year round to accommodate crazies like us. ;) To my surprise, there were actually a decent amount of people up there! Quite a few camp sites were already occupied, which completely floored me. I couldn't believe there were other wackos who had the same idea as us haha!

We picked a great site that had a great views of Longs Peak and Moraine Park. We had two perfect pine trees for a hammock set up and for sunset watching.

 Our tent. Oh our tent drama. I know that I wrote this glowing review of our new tent last year. Well, truthfully that tent failed us miserably. The rainfly (outer covering which protects the tent from getting wet if it rains) made horrible flapping noises with the slightest breeze. It kept us up every night so we ultimately returned it with heavy hearts. We since got the REI Quarterdome 2(pictured above), which also has rainfly flapping issues. So it will be going to back and our hunt for a new tent will continue. *heavy sigh*
Saturday was full of swinging in the hammock, eating a slow fireside breakfast with coffee, reading, sitting in the sunshine and soaking in the views. I had an elopement to photograph, so we headed over to a different area of the park to take photos for my clients. Unfortunately, since Saturday also happened to be Valentine's Day, the Park was absolutely packed with lovebirds driving around gawking at all the beauty together. It was pretty tough to find spaces for photos that didn't include tourists in the background! 

We made it back to camp in time to watch the sunset and start a fire. The sunset was absolutely breathtaking! I was really surprised at how well we slept both nights. I was really afraid that I would just be freezing through the whole night. I had visions of me shivering and wide awake through the entire night, but that really wasn't the case! My sleeping bag is rated to 20 degrees and I bought a sleeping bag liner that increases the temperature by 15 degrees, bringing the rating to almost 0 degrees. Smart layering and a down jacket added extra warmth and helped ensure a good night's sleep! I woke up in the morning toasty warm and not cold at all! I'm not sure I'd want to head out when it's 0 degrees, but it is good to know that we can make it through a really cold night!





 I'm still trying to get the hang of astrophotography. I would LOVE to one day be able to accurately capture the milky way. I spent the better part of an hour our first night trying different settings to get a sharp shot. This was my best try, which I still think is lacking compared to what I know can be done. Oh well, it's good to have ambitions to strive for when it comes to these nighttime creative endeavors!
 On our second morning, we woke up to a pack of coyotes howling less than 100 yards away. I climbed up on the ridge and saw a group of coyotes circling a huge herd of elk. They were attempting to hunt, which I thought was remarkable because coyotes typically won't try for elk because of how huge they are. It was amazing to watch the elk react. They grouped together tightly, putting the babies in the middle and the bulls on the outer edge. The coyotes chased them up and down the valley but were ultimately unsuccessful. We sat on the ridge and watched for a while as the sun came up.

As we turned our heads to the west and saw the incoming storm. We decided to pack up and get out before the snow set in. We got out just in the nick of time, the snow descended on the Park just 30 minutes later. But we were happy and warm in our car with hot coffee and a bag full of freshly baked donuts :)

February 10, 2015

This & That

Be prepared for the most boring edition of This & That ever. There is literally nothing going on right now, but it needs to be that way. So you'll have to settle with my thoughts on good books and lip gloss ;)
  • Cookies have taken over our house! On Sunday, I bought 5 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from a sweet little punkin that showed up at my front door. I had a $20 bill, cookies were $4/box...you do the math. Then yesterday, the FedEx guy dropped over 10 lbs. of massive gourmet cookies on my front step. David's grandma wanted to do something nice for me in light of all that is coming up, so she sent me a gazillion cookies from one of my favorite local cookie shops. So we now have over 8 dozen cookies in our house at the moment. I need to implement some sort of strategy that helps me not eat them all in 48 hours. Self-control isn't working too well ;)
  • Tarte Energy LipSurgence is my new obsession. So much fun! The shade changes depending on the ph level of your skin that day. So far, I've had it be everything from a nude blush color to cotton candy pink. One swipe is usually enough for me to get sufficient color, but if you apply more the color becomes richer. It's very sheer and almost acts as a stain, so it's great to use with balm or gloss on top. I originally bought it for my sister for her birthday, but then I decided I needed some too. 
{source}
  • I have an elopement ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. I figured David and I could head up there and maybe stay a night or two in Estes Park. And then I looked into hotels. Apparently Valentine's Day + President's Day=really expensive hotels that are almost sold out. So instead of spending $350/night, we've decided to camp in the Park. I've never camped in the winter before. It could be really fun...or really miserable. I'll report back on the outcome!
  • Since it's my off-season, I've had a lot of downtime. It's been lovely! My days have been full of taking walks, coffee with friends, trying new recipes and reading. I discovered an author that I really enjoy and I've checked out just about every book of hers from the library. If you like murder mysteries that aren't necessarily fast-paced or scary, Louise Penny may be for you! She writes about a quaint little town in Canada that happens to have a little problem with people showing up dead. I like that she spends just as much time writing about the beautiful scenery and what type of cheese was served with dinner at the local bistro as she does about the clues and crime. 
  • I had a pretty good balance week last week, except for a few minor setbacks. I even managed to go for a long hike on Tuesday. It was almost 70 degrees out and I couldn't not take advantage of that! I made a deal with myself that at the first tiny hint of any issues, I was going to turn around. But I managed 8 miles without any balance problems at all. Hooray! God is so gracious to allow me to enjoy this still.


I thought I'd do a little SCDS FAQ (that's a lot of acronyms haha!) since I have been getting lots of interesting questions about surgery and what exactly this crazy syndrome syndrome is! 

  • What exactly is SCDS and how do they fix it? Basically you have a series of balance canals made of bone that act as barriers between your inner ear and brain. One of my balance canals, the Superior Semicircular Canal, has broken. In order to fix it, they have to do a bone grafting surgery. Essentially they make an incision above your ear into your skull. For about 30-60 minutes they lift up your brain so they can visualize the broken canal. Using some bone from your skull, they craft a "replacement part" and cement it in place. The brain goes back into place, a titanium plate covers the hole in your skull, you're stitched up and good to go! 
  • What are your symptoms? Primarily bizarro auditory and vestibular issues....I can hear my heartbeat, the muscles and cartilage in my neck, blinking and my voice echos in my head when I talk. My ear also feels full, like when you have an ear infection. Several times a day I get thrown into momentary vertigo where everything is just...off. So far, I've only had one instance where the whole room was spinning. Usually I just feel off kilter, especially if I move my head or eyes too quickly. 
  • How did the bone break? To be honest, doctors really aren't sure yet. There is some evidence that it is congenital. There is also some evidence that head trauma can be the culprit. I've had some concussions, so it may be a contributing factor. Or maybe it's both! 
  • What happens if you don't have surgery? I get this question a lot from people hoping that maybe I can avoid having to go through surgery. Unfortunately, this disorder just gets worse over time as the bone begins to wear away. My momentary vertigo would likely turn into constant 24/7 dizziness. I could definitely deal with all the weird auditory stuff for the rest of my life (although it wouldn't be fun) but the dizziness is one thing I couldn't handle. For some patients, it progresses rapidly and just a few months down the road they are debilitated by dizziness. For others, it can take years to get to that point. Since my initial diagnosis in September, I've noticed a steady decline in how I feel. I would guess a year from now I'd be a walking disaster. I'm not taking any chances, hence having surgery now!
  • -What is recovery time like? Immediate recovery is about 4 weeks where the brain swelling goes down. After the initial 4 weeks, it takes most people 4-12 months before they're back to 100%. The majority of that time is spent recovering your balance and equilibrium. The surgery plugs a balance canal so you have to retrain your brain to see the world correctly.
  • I just saw you a few days ago and you seem completely normal! Are you sure you need to go through all of this craziness?! I know, I know. My pleasant demeanor can be quite convincing that I'm perfectly fine :) One of the hard things about struggling with this is that it is literally all in my head. You can't tell just by looking at me that something is wrong. It's only in those moments where you see me stumble from balance issues or you notice I'm having a hard time focussing on our conversation due to all the noise in my head that you realize there's a problem. I liken it to looking at someone who has Fibromyalgia. On the outside, they may look totally normal, but you know on the inside they're struggling daily with all sorts of pain. That's the problem with so-called "invisible diseases," you can't always judge a book by it's cover!
  • How long will you be in California? We're schedule to arrive March 31st so that I can do some brain scans on April 1st. Then surgery is the next day. Most patients are in the neuroICU for 24 hours and then in recovery rooms for the next 2-5 days, it just depends on how you're feeling. My post-op appointment isn't until April 15th, so we'll likely be in California until the 16th or so. During that time between hospital discharge and my post-op appointment, we will be staying in an on campus hotel for UCLA patients. It's only a block away from the hospital, which is nice...just in case ;)

February 1, 2015

Faith Over Fear

I officially have a surgery date! April 2nd. Part of me wishes it was sooner, so I could just get it over with. And part of me wishes it was further away (like, never). It would be nice to have more time to prepare. But really, can one ever have enough time to prepare for brain surgery? Probably not.

The past 2 weeks have been a mental tug-of-war. I've spent half of my time fearfully and obsessively thinking about and researching surgery outcomes/complications/recovery times (helpful hint: don't look at Google images for the search term: middle fossa craniotomy). The other half of the time I've been trying to make myself not obsessively think about or research surgery outcomes/complications/ recovery times. I've had entire days go by where the only thing I've thought about was surgery. Just being real.

I'm part of a SCDS support group for people with this diagnosis (all 400 of us haha! No really, only one in 1 million people have this crazy diagnosis. There's literally only 400 people in the group) and while it's comforting to know I am not alone and that there are plenty of people who have been through the surgery successfully...it's also scary. Because you see the struggles. You see what it's really like for some of them on the road to recovery. You see the tears, the frustration, the complications. You see the ones who stay dizzy for 6 months and the ones who never seem to get better. And that makes it all much more real. Fear sinks in a bit deeper. Anxiety creeps up a little more frequently. Uncertainty begins to surface every hour. Doubt of whether I can really do this settles in and makes itself right at home in my daily thoughts.

I think these past 2 weeks needed to happen. I needed to obsess over it all. I needed to lose sleep over it. I needed to pour all of my energy into basically freeeeaaaaaaking out over this surgery. I needed to get it all out of my system now. Because I don't want to be in this place 2 months from now. I refuse to sink into an ocean of anxiety. I refuse to enter into that hospital with more fear than faith.

Thankfully, God helped me out of my tailspin and has pointed my feet in a different direction. I have exactly 60 days ahead of me to focus on what really matters (yep, that would be Jesus).

I can't focus on my own journey if I keep looking at everyone else's. I can't focus on my own healing if I'm constantly thinking about the problems other people have encountered. How can I expect to experience peace and miraculous healing if I'm always worried about what can go wrong?  I have to retrain my eyes to focus on the Lord through this. I can't keep looking down, wondering if and when I'm going to fall.

I want to be light as air going into this surgery and recovery. I want to be strong, brave, confident. I want to be so hopeful that walk through this with a smile on my face because I am so sure of God's faithfulness in my healing.  It's 100% not natural to walk into brain surgery and have no fear. But that's what I want. I want that irrational hope that laughs in the face of dread.

But in order to get to that place, I have to focus and rely completely on the Lord. Because like I said, it's not natural to walk into this with no fear. It's wildly illogical. It's going to take a supernatural leap of faith in my heart to get to that place. But I'm praying and trusting God to help me make that leap.

I think it's going to take a lot of prayer. Probably a lot of focus and resolve too. It's going to require me to reject the fear and doubt that tries to creep in. While I'm at it, I should probably rid myself of self-pity, distraction, comparison, unbelief and my tendency to waver. All to make room for the Holy Spirit to minister to my heart and begin building my trust and confidence. Come April 2nd, I want to believe God for miraculous healing so confidently that I don't even remember what it was like to doubt.

Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt...you can say to this mountain, 'go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." ~Matthew 21:21

January 21, 2015

California

David and I aren't the types to travel somewhere, no matter how serious the reason may be for our travels, and not explore or attempt to enjoy our time together. Yes, much of our time in California was consumed medical stuff, that is after all the reason why we were there. But we had to enjoy ourselves a little bit, right?! :) It would have been too overwhelming to just make this trip about neurosurgeon consults, we had to add a little bit of relaxing and exploring into the mix! Here's a little bit of the non-medical side of our trip to Cali...
In-N-Out, you just gotta do it!

UCLA's campus is quite lovely. It's massive, so we spent a lot of time just wandering around. It was a little terrifying how old I felt there haha! The reality of my 10 year college reunion coming up this year set in pretty quickly. All the students looked like tiny little babies. It was kind of crazy.
L.A. is so crazy that we got overwhelmed pretty easily. All the people, traffic, noise and general craziness sent us into introverted tailspins every now and then. So when we found a lovely little grove of palm trees next to a fountain near the medical campus, we set up camp and we spent a lot of time there just sitting, thinking, eating, praying, people watching. It was nice to have a quiet spot to find a little peace.

After my appointment on Thursday, we got out of UCLA just in time to run down to the Santa Monica pier and catch the sunset. It was a beautiful evening! I decided to bring my photo gear with me on this trip, which is pretty rare. It's so expensive and heavy and awkward...it certainly doesn't make traveling easier. But my camera is a tool for therapy and I knew I was going to need a little therapy during this trip haha! It is such a great way for me to escape reality a little bit and focus completely on f-stops and fading sun rays. Almost every day we ran to a nearby beach so I could immerse myself in this creative process. 

After we wrapped up at UCLA on Friday, we headed north. Since our appointments lined up perfectly with the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, we decided to take a few days and head to Santa Barbara. We knew it would be good to spend some time relaxing and getting away for a little bit. We needed a place to process everything.
We had a lovely weekend in Santa Barbara! We stayed at a beautiful Hilton right across the street from the beach. We snagged a beachfront room and enjoyed breakfast on the patio Saturday morning. A little room service, a few walks on the beach, watching the seals swim by, a little more In-N-Out Burger, another incredible sunset and our day was complete. We had some of the best conversations on Saturday and I ultimately came to my decision about surgery while on the beach. Our whole time there was very conducive to clarity and decision making. 
On Sunday we walked around, had brunch at the harbor, spent a bit of time downtown and then headed towards Malibu! I had been wanting to visit Leo Carillo State Park so we headed over that way. All the pictures of the park showed a beautiful serene oceanscape with beautiful waves. It just looked so peaceful that I had to go. It was pretty much the opposite of that haha! There were gobs of people everywhere. It was a little bit crazy. We grabbed a few photos and then got the heck outta there!
 
Seal!

We headed further in towards Malibu and found the perfect spot over looking the beach and set up for another little sunset shoot. It was really peaceful up there, despite sitting on the Pacific Coast Hwy. Everyone seems to slow down or stop for the sunset. I like that :)

After the sunset, we headed back into L.A. and the flew out the next morning. I'm so glad we were able to take a little bit of time and enjoy a few different parts of CA. California was overwhelming, but it would have been exponentially more overwhelming if we had just stayed in L.A. so I am very grateful for our time in Santa Barbara!



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Hi friends, my name is Becky. I am a follower of Christ, wife, photographer and business owner. I am an explorer of the great state of Colorado and constantly seek out God's creation. I'm obsessed with beauty products, simple living, traveling, my awesome husband and learning more about God. I'm glad you're here :)

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