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!



January 19, 2015

The Right Decision

California. What a whirlwind. Our trip to California was a complete whirlwind. I meant to post before we left. I really did. But you know how it goes....shoots, laundry, meetings, watching the Broncos lose miserably in the playoffs... life catches up to you.

Let's just back-up a few steps before I get into everything. Just a little recap, the whole reason we went out to California was to meet with 2 neurosurgeons who specialize in a surgery to fix a broken bone inside of my skull. I first was diagnosed back in September after experiencing some whacky symptoms and since then I've met with 2 other doctors here in CO for 2nd and 3rd opinions. The 2nd opinion didn't go so well. That doctor had me mostly convinced that nothing was wrong with me and that this was just all in my head (no pun intended). The 3rd opinion was 2 weeks ago and that doctor hesitantly confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a less-invasive (and less successful) surgery. David and I both agreed that we would allow the surgeons at UCLA to be the final authority on everything since they are the most knowledgable and experienced with this disorder and how to treat it. So, off to California we went. Hoping for clarity. Hoping for direction.

To be honest, the 2nd doctor I met with here in CO had me pretty convinced that there was nothing actually wrong with me. To the point where I didn't even believe the 3rd opinion I got 2 weeks ago. To the point where as I walked onto UCLA's campus, I anticipated hearing them say the same thing. I was pretty convinced they were going to say "listen, you're fine. Go home, take an aspirin and call us in 6 months." 

So I was quite surprised when both neurosurgeons independently confirmed I do have SCDS and that surgery would be the best course of treatment for me. Not only did they confirm it, but they did it with confidence, assurance and ease. There was no questioning, no guessing or wavering.  The first doctor reviewed my CT scans and told me within the first 5 minutes that I was a "classic case" of SCDS. The second doctor said he was "without a doubt, 100% certain the bone was broken" and then said he was equally confident that he could fix it. 

We talked about the surgery... 
The risks: Ummm, it's technically brain surgery so there are a gazillion risks. Also, they have to shave part of my head. Yeah, big risk there. 
The rewards: Bone is fixed! No more vertigo! No more noises in my head! No more worrying about things getting worse! Peace! Also, they have a 90% success rate
Potential complications: Infection. 10% of people do not get better after surgery
Recovery time: Totally varies. Some people are fine in 3-6 weeks. Some people are fine in 9-12 months.

David and I spent a lot of time talking. Weighing our options. Praying. Thinking, pondering, hypothesizing and discerning. Before we left for California, we prayed. We mostly prayed for clarity. That God would give us wisdom and that the correct path would be made clear to us. Over and over we prayed for clarity. Others prayed for clarity for us. And clarity is what we got. God couldn't have made it more clear to us. Crystal. Clear. 

I know that choosing surgery is the right decision. I feel it in my spirit. Most people with this disorder get worse as time goes on. It never gets better. The bone can't heal without surgery. I'm young. I can't live the rest of my life as things slowly digress. I can't sit here waiting for the day when I'm so dizzy that I can no longer walk. Plus, these surgeons are literally the best in the country at this. We felt so comfortable with their level of skill and knowledge, I know that I'll be in the hands of the best. David and I have the same peace about moving forward, which is always a good sign that we're on the right track.

The risks are there and they are scary. But to me, the scariest thing is not doing anything as my quality of life slowly goes downhill. We're waiting to hear back right now on an exact surgery date, but they seemed to think it would be sometime in the next 4-9 weeks or so. Hopefully between now and then, my fears won't take over and I'll be able to maintain my conviction that this really is the right decision.



December 31, 2014

2014: Looking Back

14 has always been my favorite number, so it's no surprise that 2014 was one of my favorite years.

This year was gooooooood. Sure, there were a few hard things thrown in the mix (hello broken bone inside of my head) but no year is going to be flawless. I'm just grateful to have a year go by that wasn't characterized by job loss, baby loss, heartache and disappointment. It's been a while since we had a year that wasn't really hard. We are standing in celebration over how this year turned out. It felt like we were finally able to breathe and actually enjoy life a little bit (ok, we enjoyed it a lot!).

I think the word Discovery accurately sums up the theme of 2014. Self-discovery, professional-discovery, rediscovering joy. I discovered new hikes and trails, parks and areas around this beautiful county of ours. It was a year of discovering some of God's most beautiful blessings as I learned more about who I am in Christ.

Travel was a big theme of this year. I think we traveled more this year than any other year in our 12 years together! A few of the places we went to: Steamboat Springs, Mexico City, Zion, Charlotte, Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Wyoming, Grand Cayman, Telluride, Estes Park, Arizona/Utah and countless little weekend backpacking/hiking/camping trips in between. I counted and I think we were gone 30 weekends out of the year. We saw so much, experienced so much. And our lives feel richer because of it. Not only does travel bring us closer but it deepens our appreciation for pretty much everything.
Another big piece of this year was me making a big business decision and deciding to photograph elopements! I said goodbye to big weddings and welcomed these sweet little intimate ceremonies with open arms. I photographed 30 elopements this year and I can honestly say I've never been more creatively fulfilled and happy in the 8 years I've been doing this professional photography thing. It's like a whole new world has opened up to me! I also discovered a dormant desire in my heart...landscape photography! I'm soooo excited to see where this goes in 2015! I feel like I'm rediscovering photography all over again.
This year was full of baby steps in my Wild Goose Chase. I pointed myself in the direction I felt He was calling me to. I got over some fear of counseling began doing some spiritual/weight loss coaching for a Christian ministry.  I'm absolutely blown away by how God is using my journey to help others become free from the bondage of weight and disordered thoughts about food. For the first time, I feel like I'm walking in His will and living out part of my calling. It's beautiful.

2014 also marked the beginning of a journey out of the thick, dark and dense forest of infertility. I've slowly begun to peek my head out of the trees as I discern who I am apart from the last 5 years. It's interesting how my identity got gobbled up by the pursuit of motherhood. I'm discovering what life in the aftermath of infertility feels like. It's an interesting and solitary road to walk. But I'm slowly learning to navigate it. No doubt this journey will continue into 2015 and beyond.

Mostly I'm just grateful for a good year. Finally! I'm excited to see how the things I discovered in 2014 turn into things that I embrace in 2015.



December 9, 2014

This & That


  • We officially have tickets booked for Los Angeles so that I can meet with a neurotologist and neurosurgeon at UCLA who specialize in SCDS. We'll be meeting with them on January 15th, with some likely additional testing done on the 16th. That happens to be Martin Luther King holiday weekend, so we figured we'd probably stay an extra day or two and explore! If we're going all the way out there, we might as well enjoy ourselves for part of the time, right?! I haven't been to L.A. or souther California in over 10 years! We'll have about 2 days to do a little sight seeing and possibilities are overwhelming to me...stay somewhere on the beach in Santa Barbara? Go see a taping of The Price Is Right? Day trip to Channel Islands? Drive the Pacific Coast Hwy? Disneyland?!? Ha! If you have any "must see" recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
  • My birthday was on Thanksgiving this year! We hosted at our house this year and had a big turnout of 11 people. That might sound small to some people, but it was huge for us! We had a great day of football, turkey and birthday cake. I got some pretty sweeeet gifts too. I got really spoiled this year. David got me an amazing Patagonia jacket that I've been drooling over. I got a pair of cute Sorel snow boots from my mom and a lot of cute clothes from my sister.  And my in-laws generously got me a new tripod so that I can continue pursuing my attempts at landscape photography. What a lucky girl I am to have such generous gift givers in my life!

New leggings, J.Crew flannel and my new boots!
  • This weekend, David and I went snowshoeing. This year, I've probably hiked 30 times for a total of at least 200 miles. Go figure, my last hike of 2014 turns out to be my worst hike! We opted for Flattop Mountain in RMNP, which is a hike I've never done before. It's 8.5 miles and about 3,000 feet of elevation gain, so not exactly an easy hike. Right off the bat, I pulled a hip flexor muscle. The pain just got worse and worse as we continued up the mountain. By mile 3 I was in tears and we decided to call it a day. I was really disheartened that we couldn't finish or break treeline. I was really disheartened that a year full of awesome hiking ended in tears (and falling on a patch of ice at the very end, just icing on the cake!). But we managed to enjoy what we could, which included beautiful views, peace and quiet, a yummy lunch, a few shots with my new tripod and watching the winter sun sink low in the western sky through the pine trees. 
 Check out that sweet new jacket. It kept me warm all day long!
  • I'm in love with my new tripod! In my 8 years as a photographer, I have never owned a tripod. I guess I've just never had a need for one. At weddings I'm constantly running around, I don't have the time or need to utilize a tripod. But with landscape photos, the need arose. The more time I spend trying my hand and landscape photography, the more I realized a tripod needed to be a part of my equipment. Especially with night photography, it's virtually impossible to take a shot at night without the steadiness of a tripod. After lots of research and deliberation, I eventually settled on the MeFoto Roadtrip. I love it because it's light, sturdy, easy to set-up and it packs down to only 13 inches long, so I could practically carry it in my purse. 
These are the first 3 night shots I've ever taken and been happy with. I still have a looooooong way to go in the technical arena, but at least I'm making some steps in the right direction. I think this first shot below is kinda creepy. I sure hope the rest of my shots aren't as erie looking :)

  • My Saturday morning Bible study started a new study by Priscilla Shrirer called Breathe. I'm already in love with it. Saying no to unnecessary things in order to make more room for God and peace and stability in my life? Yes please! That's been the theme of my life this year, I'm so excited to dig more into this and incorporate some more Sabbath margin in my life. 
  • Can I share my newest favorite recipe with you? It's a crock-pot cream cheese chicken chili and it's to. die. for. Like so so so good. Too good to not share, so I'm sharing! Rather than type it out, I'll just share the link: http://completerecipes.com/Crock-pot-cream-cheese-chicken-chile.html We have had it over rice and had it in tortillas so far, pretty much any way you service it is going to be stellar!
  • Just being real, I'm in a weird place. Wrestling with a lot of emotions and battles in my mind and with God lately. It's not serious, nothing to be worried about. But it's still significant. I find myself thinking a lot about things like healing, God's will, the long-term effects of infertility, what true joy looks like, theology of suffering, character change, the purpose of adversity and the relationship between faith and answered prayers. Heavy stuff. Maybe I'll write a longer post about that.
  • David's work Christmas party was last night. Since he works for a government entity, they have to keep things classy and family friendly, unlike many Christmas parties you hear about haha! We had a great night! I got to meet some of his coworkers and the food was outstanding. They had a photobooth, bluegrass band, cookie buffet, s'mores bar, carriage rides and they even had reindeer. Yes! Reindeer! Comet and Cupid came for a visit. So cute! It made me exponentially more grateful for his new job. God is so good :)

December 4, 2014

Puppynado

Let's have a little story, about that one time we almost adopted a crazy puppy. 

One day I was driving down I-25 on my way to Denver for class.  It was a beautiful morning, I had finished photographing the sunrise and I was looking forward to the day ahead. I had just stopped for a hot cup of coffee, of which I was about to take my first sip.

Up ahead, something catches my eye. What is that? Is that....no, it couldn't be...surely...is that a puppy on the side of the highway?!? I slam on my brakes (carefully preserving my hot coffee) and pull over onto the shoulder of the interstate. Yes indeed, a sweet little puppy is running around. Barely 5 feet from traffic, he was confused, alone and not quite sure which way to turn. I get out of my car, careful to not get run over myself. I run over to him and I quickly distract him away from the semi-trucks that are headed his way. 

I asked him what he was doing on the side of I-25 all by himself. He responded by licking my face. I asked him how he got there. He responded by chasing a bunny down an embankment. I decide we should probably go for a walk and see if maybe he just escaped out of his home. Surely his owners must be frantic and looking for him, right?! We walk away from the highway towards all the pretty farms. We walk all over, looking for his family. We knock on doors, we wake people up, we explore driveways and backyards and we come up empty handed. 

As the morning goes on and I realize this puppy and I were going to be together for a while, I decide he needed a name. I name him Puppynado because he is a tornado of fur and slobber and joy. He loves our adventure so much and especially loved chasing all the bunnies. Puppynado was happy as a clam walking through horse property and country roads with me. Note: I got the pink leash after banging on a poor woman's door for 15 minutes at 6:45am. In her sleepy stupor, she gave me the leash so that I would leave her alone and let her go back to sleep :)
We keep walking, exploring, searching for his owners. Surely, someone is missing Puppynado at this very moment, right? Well, if they were looking for him, we never saw them. After a long time of looking around, watching the passing cars drive down the dirt roads and feeling a bit defeating,  we head back to my car, careful to avoid the semi-trucks. Puppynado happily gets in the backseat, ready for our next adventure.
 At this point, I'm not quite sure what to do with Puppynado. I know one thing for sure...he's ridiculously cute and he's slobbering all over my jacket with his big pink puppy tongue. I know that I want to give him the best shot at reuniting with his owners, wherever they might be so I met up with Boulder Animal Control. Puppynado greeted them with the same enthusiastic kisses and he greeted me with. They determine he is 8 months old and not microchipped (seriously people, microchip your pets!). They told me they would help him get entered into the Lost Dog program. He would get a bath, a fancy photoshoot and an online profile where people can search for him. Sounds good! Surely, someone will claim him in no time. I say goodbye to Puppynado, pat his head, rub his velvety ears and wish him luck. He never even turned around to thank me, he was too preoccupied with his new animal control friends and watching a squirrel.

Because I'm obsessive, I check Puppynado's online Lost Dog profily approximately 28 times that day. No one has claimed him. I check the next day and the next and the next. Still, no one has claimed this sweet little tornado of fur. Eventually, almost a week passes and Puppynado graduates from a Lost Dog, to an Adoptable Dog. That's when my heart starts twisting in knots.

I want this dog. I love this dog. I helped save his life. But I have several problems facing me, the least of which are my 2 spoiled kitties who would not take kindly to having a furry hurricane chase them around the house. Followed by a very logical husband who knows the last thing we need right now is a puppy. 

I pray. I agonize. I cry and ask God what I should do. I talk ad nauseam with David about it. And I never have peace about the decision. I do have peace about visiting him again though. So off to the shelter I go that we can play together.
See why I named him Puppynado? He's a tornado.

After just 12 hours as an Adoptable Dog, someone places a hold on him. My heart sinks a little bit knowing that in all likelihood, he would be going home very soon with someone who wasn't me. Regardless, I brought David over to visit him. I wanted him to meet this little guy who wiggled his way into my heart. 

I'd be lying if there wasn't a little piece of me that wished David had formed an impenetrable bond with Puppynado. A bond that took away all of his logical objections to adopting a crazy puppy. A bond that was so strong that he would say "Beck, we have to get this dog. Wild horses couldn't keep me from adopting him. Perhaps we should just keep walking him all the way home." That didn't happen, but it didn't stop us from having lots of fun with him :)


 David felt that a more appropriate name for him was Puppy CrayCray :)

We get home and I agonize/pray/cry/obsess some more. But only long enough to realize that Puppy CrayCray aka Puppynado had adopted by someone else. I'm not sure who, but I hope they're kind and loving. I hope they feed him steak every day and have a big backyard full of bunnies and an 8 foot fence. 

And that is the story of how we almost adopted a puppy, but not really. The end. :)

November 17, 2014

Desert Escape

How about a fun little post with lots of pretty pictures? I certainly could use a little happy distraction. Before I jump in and overload you with sandstone pictures, just a quick little health update in bullet-point fashion:
  • I've been seeing a neurotologist for the last 4ish weeks here in CO.
  • The jury is still out as to whether or not I like him/trust his opinion
  • If nothing else, it's just good to get all the testing stuff done now so I have a complete set of tests and records to hand over to the real experts
  • Speaking of testing...it's no fun! ENGs are the worst and 2-hour MRIs are in a close 2nd place
  • Still keeping my UCLA appointment in January and crossing my fingers I get in a bit sooner
  • The end!
David and I decided a few weeks ago that it was high time we get outta dodge. We love to travel as it is, but whenever life gets hard, travel is just more appealing. Something about escaping. Something about getting out in nature, spending some time alone. God's creation is cathartic.

We literally planned nothing for this trip. We didn't even know what town we'd be in or if we'd be camping or staying in a hotel. We just threw some bags in the car, loaded up our tent and hit the road. The only 2 things we wanted to do was enter the lottery system for The Wave (if you don't know what it is, just look at some Google images of it. Killer!) and Antelope Canyon, both of which were down in Arizona. Our trip down was absolutely beautiful!
We found ourselves in Kanab, UT-home of the walk-in lottery system for The Wave, which allows 10 hikers in per day. We thought we'd try our chances. Umm, there were 86(!!!) people who showed up for the lottery. Needless to say, we didn't win a spot. So, we found a trailhead on a map that looked promising and headed towards Buckskin Gulch. We were not disappointed!





After our beautiful 6 mile hike, we headed towards Page, AZ. We caught the sunset over Horseshoe Bend, which is a really phenomenal place. It's maybe a mile hike to the cliffs overlooking the Colorado River. 



Not pictured: the several busloads full of elderly tourists who were quite unstable on their feet, yet continued to inch closer and closer to the ledge. I could barely watch. It absolutely terrified me watching them!
I posted this photo on Instagram and I will probably be one of my all-time favorites forever and ever. As David and I were swarmed by crazy elderly tourists, I looked over and spotted this photographer set up on a ledge, probably 1/2 a mile away from where we were. He clearly knew that in order to experience this place and all it had to offer and to get a unique angle, you had to get away from the madness of everyone else. A highly valuable lesson for aspiring landscape photographers such as myself! I also like this photo because it kind of looks like a painting...something about taking it in low light made it look so different.  
We stayed in Page, AZ that night after the sunset. The next morning we headed out to Antelope Canyon. We opted for lower Antelope Canyon because it seemed less busy. It's located on Navajo land and you can only go in with a guided trip. So we signed up and headed in! This place was unreal. I can't even really describe it and the pictures don't do it justice either. It's incredible!





After exploring Antelope Canyon we made our trek back towards Colorado. The first snowstorm of the year had moved in over the mountains, which made us reroute our trip. We didn't mind though, sometimes the slowest way home is also the best! We roamed Monument Valley for a bit
 Stopped at Gooseneck State Park

 Wound up at the 4 Corners, which was hiliarious

We grabbed dinner in Durango and eventually settled on Pagosa Springs for the night. On that note, I've decided that I want to retire in Pagosa Springs. It's the cutest little mountain town. It's got a lot in it, but it's not so big that it attracts too many tourists. Plus, it would make us that much closer to Utah and Arizona if we need a little warm weather escape in the winter! Our drive home was uneventful, despite driving through snow for 6 hours or so.


See? Tell me you wouldn't love to retire here :)

About Me

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Hi friends, my name is Becky. I am a believer, wife, photographer and explorer of the great state of Colorado. My passion is seeking simplicity and joy in all that I do. I'm glad you're here :)

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