Friday, April 20, 2012

Twenty Five Years

I am 25 years old.  I am a thousand years old. 

This was the year that I:

Finished my first year of grad school.

Planned a trip to Haiti.

Stood next to my sister-in-law while she married my brother.

Watched my blood counts drop.  Relapsed.  Almost got a bone marrow transplant.

Did not go to Haiti.

Lost my grandmother.

Moved home from Pittsburgh.  Took a semester off of grad school. 

Found out I’m going to be an aunt.

Started a blog.  And people read it. (THANK YOU!!!!)

Had chemo, again.  Recovered.  Watched my counts go back up.

Moved back to Pittsburgh.  Started grad school again, started working again. 

Watched my sister’s heart get smashed.  Watched my sister turn sorrow into strength and pain into beauty.

Became an aunt.  Learned how to hold a newborn. Fell in love with a teeny tiny human. 

I am 25 years old. I am a thousand years old.

I am tragedy.  I am hope.

I am fear. I am faith.

I am hypocrisy.  I am honesty. 

I am anxiety.  I am peace.

I am weakness.  I am strength.

I am sorrow.  I am joy.

I am despair and I am promise.  

I am 25 years old.  I am a thousand years old. 

And this is the year that I will:

Walk in my graduation ceremony with the same people I started the program with. 

Become Kelsey Allen, MPH

Give back the generosity that you all have shown me. 

And a whole lot more.  Who knows??? That's the beauty of health and youth; it lets your view of the future expand as far and as wide as the horizon.  And what an amazing gift that is. :)

This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
This seed I’ve received I will sow

Thank you for reading and walking on this journey with me.  I had no idea how much this blog would mean to me and what a lifeline it would become, but it certainly has. Here’s to the next year with hopefully a lot less platelet talk and a little more adventure. THANK YOU for all of your love and support!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Detroit Love

People say a lot about Detroit.  People say true things.  People say untrue things.  But people say (mostly negative) things about Detroit.  I’ve heard many of them and maybe even said a few of them, but there is something about Detroit that not everyone knows. 

Detroit is a place to heal.

It may find itself on the top of almost every “Most Dangerous City” list and have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, its school system may have no money and the auto industry attempting to pick itself up from bankruptcy.  But Detroit is full of people who are full of hope.

In Detroit I’ve met amazing doctors.  I’ve met amazing nurses and nurse practitioners. 

I’ve sat next to cancer survivors in the waiting room at Karmanos cancer center.

And I fell in love with all of them.

I fell in love with them because they don’t whisper.  People from Detroit don’t whisper about their sports teams.  They don’t whisper about how their job is going. 

And they don’t whisper about cancer.

This is so rare, and so incredibly refreshing, it’s hard to describe.  Because when people are uncomfortable, when they don’t know what to say, or how to express their concern, or what questions they’re supposed to ask, they whisper. 

They tilt their heads to the side and tell you really softly, I’m so sorry for you…

And there is no worse emotion than pity.  Pity is useless.  Pity, to me, feels a lot like saying “I’m so glad I’m not you.”  Pity is a waste.  It is not productive.  Pity doesn’t lead you to get off your seat and try to make someone’s life better.  Pity doesn’t stir your soul and inspire you to pray for your sick friend, or a famine on the other side of the globe.  Pity sits comfortably in it’s comfortable life and says, “Geez that really sucks,” and then goes back to enjoying that life. 

So when I sat down in the waiting room at Karmanos for the first time, and a stranger across from me said, “You look too young to be in here, what kinda cancer you got?”

I was shocked, but I think part of me was so relieved to be around strangers who didn’t feel like they needed to walk on eggshells around me.  I explained my situation.  Then she continued, unprompted, to say that she had lung cancer, and had been through chemo several times. 
We finished talking and my Dad leaned over to me, smiled and said, “Well I guess this isn’t a shy crowd…” and I responded, “I guess not.  I think this is the boat, and we’re all in it.”

That was the moment that every little part of me that was asking, “Why me??  Why do I have to deal with this??” dissolved.  Because it’s not just me.  Not even close. 

Maybe I don’t deserve this, but neither did anyone in that waiting room.  No one in that room deserved to deal with cancer or whatever rare disease had landed them in the cancer hospital in Detroit. 

Because that’s the thing about disease.  It doesn’t discriminate.  It doesn’t care if you’re only 21 years old, just trying to figure life out.  It doesn’t care if you’re 45, just lost your job, and have 4 kids to raise.  It doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, nice, mean, ugly, or beautiful. In the eyes of cancer and aplastic anemia, we are all the same.  I am the 65-year-old woman next to me in the waiting room.  I am the 40-year-old businessman sitting across from me.  I am them and they are me. 

I also fell in love with the camaraderie of being in a room full of people dealing with an awful, uncontrollable situation and still having reason to laugh.  And still finding a reason to praise God.

I fell in love with the way it feels to hear someone who’s been through your fight 20 years ago and look you in the eye and say, “You’ll be alright.”

I fell in love with witnessing the kind of love and loyalty it takes to be the friend, family member, the neighbor, who’s sitting silently in support of their sick loved one.

What’s so great about Detroit is that it may be down on its luck, but it sure doesn’t feel sorry for itself.  Because maybe they don’t have jobs, and maybe they have cancer, but no one walked into that hospital alone.  A grandmother walked into the treatment center with her grandson helping her.  Two sisters walk in together, sharing stories about their spouses, their childhood, and their children.  Maybe they didn’t have everything, but they had each other. 

My Dad likes to say that all the Allens were born with shovels.  We were born with shovels so that when life gets hard we can dig in.  And when life gets harder, you don’t give up.  You just get a bigger shovel.  Or you call your family and tell them to bring theirs. 

In the face of something as scary as cancer and aplastic anemia can be, it’s easy to want to turn your back.  It’s easy to want run from it and whisper quietly to your neighbors about what a shame it is.  But it takes an incredible community to turn and face, and dig in.  Detroit is packing some seriously big shovels with the challenges that they have faced and it has left a group of people that are not to be messed with. 

I will forever be indebted to Detroit for showing a girl from Ypsi the meaning of community. 

For showing me that it’s possible to face adversity with grace, laughter, and an unwavering faith in God. 

And for lending me their shovel.  ;)

Love, Kelsey

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Right on Time

Remember in my last post when I said that I needed to get through the heaviness and find the lightness that I knew was to come??

I found it. :)

I can feel that heaviness leaving me and replacing it is sort of a rush of happiness and contentment.  An expansion of my view of the future.  The feeling that doors are opening in front of me and the uncertainty of what the next few years will bring tastes sweet and hopeful. 

I’ve started my classes and my internship and the greatest gift that I have received is that the response to my return consisted of mostly, “welcome back” messages, or “I’m glad that you’re doing well,” a few people asked how I’m feeling.  But for the most part, the surprise and awkwardness of coming back from this was short-lived and very supportive.  I’ve been back for about 2 weeks and it already feels normal to be here doing all of these wonderfully normal things.

Right now almost everything that I do makes me feel lucky.  Even the silliest things, remind me that a month ago I didn’t have this privilege.  I feel lucky to be in grad school (although that doesn’t mean I’m not beyond excited to graduate).  I feel lucky to slug it out in my internship for a small stipend that doesn’t even cover my rent.  I feel lucky to walk in the freezing cold to the tiny gym at Pitt and spend my 30 minutes sweating on the elliptical.  I feel lucky to watch Friends with my roommate.  I feel lucky to make dinner for a friend.  I feel lucky to wash my own dishes.  I feel lucky to feel soreness in my muscles from exerting myself.  I feel lucky to feel tired from doing something rather than fatigued from a medical condition.  There’s definitely a big difference. 

I think part of what makes this mean so much is that not very long ago, my health was improving, but I still felt sluggish and down.  Even though my counts were going up, I didn’t feel good.  The thought of coming back to school felt daunting and scary.  I think part of me didn’t want to come back at all. 

A few months ago, I was searching the Internet for some post-chemo exercise plans (which as it turns out don’t really exist, but I really think they should), and I found an article on post-cancer depression.  It was written by a NY Times journalist who was blogging about his experience surviving testicular cancer. 

“After more than a year of diagnosis, treatment and waiting, it’s almost as if, finally and unexpectedly, my psyche heaved a sigh and gave itself permission to implode.”

His words described exactly what I was feeling.  That tiniest feeling of validation to what I had been thinking was all the push that I needed to know that I wasn’t alone.  And I wasn’t crazy for feeling depressed after having gone through this.  The article states that nearly 25% of cancer survivors face depression.  I didn’t even finish the whole blog post before I picked up the phone.

Going to see a therapist was one of the best things that I did for myself during this time.  I got to be completely honest about my fears and feelings without worrying about upsetting the other person.  It was a huge part of the healing process for me, and I am so glad that I took the time to dig into what was making me so sad.

Because honestly, this feeling as I write this right now, is totally worth it.  I feel great.  And it is so much more than my counts going up.

I think there is a little tiny part of me that didn’t want to write about going to a therapist.  There is a part of me that wants to be the type of person who just skates through tribulation in life with ease, and without professional help.  And the truth is that I could have survived this experience without counseling, sure.  But I would not feel as I do now.  I would feel physically better, without a doubt, but the fogginess of depression would still be with me.  And I would push through it, because I’m stubborn, but it would be hard.  And maybe I would have days where I ask myself, am I depressed? Maybe I should see a counselor.  But I never would.  I would just push forward, through the heaviness.

Do you see the difference?  Sorting through my sadness in Michigan means that being in Pittsburgh today, I am here.  I am not haunted by the nightmare I just survived.  I’m not falling asleep still shaking from the experience.  I am not anxious.  I am not held back by suppressed emotion.  I am present. 

I found this quote on Pinterest (obsessed, I admit), and I think it pretty much sums up this feeling.  Being back in school feels right in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on.  It feels like it was supposed to be this way all along.  I am exactly where I need to be, when I need to be there. 

Your journey has molded you for your greater good.
And it was exactly what it needed to be.
Don’t think that you’ve lost time.
It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now.
And now is right on time.

As always, thanks for reading :)


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Put the Gun Down

[So I started writing this on a the bus, but actually I'm currently in my apartment in Pittsburgh, not the Megabus just so you know]

Hello from a Megabus! I’m on my way to Pittsburgh right now, heading back to my apartment, my life, my friends, my old self.  I have this feeling now that I’m creeping closer to the day when I get to resume grad school and working that it’s too soon.  Before I felt like I had all the time in the time in the world to prepare for re-immersion into the real world.  But all of a sudden it seems so soon and so fast.  In a few weeks the semester will start.  I’ll go back to my internship.  I’ll be living in my apartment again.  So much, so quickly.  It’s freaking me out a little.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want it to happen.  I guess I’m just questioning how hard of a transition it will be for me psychologically, emotionally, and physically.  Am I going to be too tired to do everything?  Will I get depressed if I can’t?  Will I be able to graduate this summer? 

I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know.

These are the questions running through my head these days.  Now that I’ve let go of a lot of the uncertainty that came with this course of treatment, I feel more confident that health-wise I will continue to improve and (hopefully) reach full remission.  However letting go of that uncertainty means that I’ve made room for all sorts of new worries.   I’ve let go of being in “survival mode” and now all the emotion and feelings that I pushed aside and told, “I’ll deal with you later.  This is not the time for tears.  It’s a time for strength and positivity.  We have to survive, so hush, you’ll get your turn soon enough.” 

Well here they are.  Demanding attention, having waited their turn.  But I don’t want to pay them any attention.  I don’t want to sort through sadness and anxiety.  I want happiness and celebration.  I want to feel good and light. 

But there is no denying that there is a feeling of heaviness lingering around me.  The feeling that you just went through something big and you need to look it in the eye and give it its due respect. 

The bell has sounded and the hard part is over.  It’s only right that I turn around and take one last look at my defeated opponent, to put my hand on his shoulder and say,

“You fought well, but I fought better.”  And “You’re strong, but not as strong as I am.”  And, “You were tough opponent, but just not as tough as I am.”

But I don’t want to turn around and look back.  What if he has one more hit in him, one that I can’t block?  I want to keep walking running away and never look back.  I used up all my bravery to get this far.  I’m all tapped out.  (Can't someone else do it for me?)

It’s like at the end of a scary movie, after the bad guy is assumed dead, but he always has one last scare in him.  Even if he’s lying on the floor bleeding like mad, you’re still nervous because he’s in your sight and history has proven that the bad guy always has one last murder attempt in him.  So you have to yell at the main character, “Don’t you put that gun down, girl! You know he isn’t dead!”

Aplastic anemia is still too close for comfort and I don’t know if I can put the gun down, as much as I want to move on.

It’s like if you’ve been in a car accident or close call, you know that you don’t relax immediately after you’re out of danger.  Just because the impact is over and you’ve pulled your car over to the side of the road, doesn’t mean you are calmly waiting for medical attention.  The adrenaline will run through your body and you’ll be shaking for a while.  And the next time you get into a car or drive past that intersection where you got hit, that feeling will return, and you’ll remember how scared you were.

That’s where I am right now.  I’m here and I survived.  And I intellectually believe the worst is over.  But I’m still reeling from the impact of the crash.  My hands are shaking, my legs feel weak, and my mind is still spinning with the possibility of a very different ending to this story.  Part of me is not fully convinced that it’s okay to put the gun down, take the boxing gloves off, and walk away from the crash (I’m apparently loving the analogies this morning).  Part of me doesn’t believe that life will leave me alone now because I’ve proven I’m not to be messed with.  I can still feel this disease hanging over my shoulder, holding me back.

Baby steps.  I think that’s key.  I’m not going to be the same person I was when I left, the moment I move back to Pittsburgh.  I think expecting myself to be will only make me depressed.  And unfortunately, as much as I want to bury these feelings, I think I have to let myself feel the weight of what just happened.  I have to let myself be sad, because I am a little.  I have to let myself be disappointed with life, because I am a little.  And I have to let myself believe that I am strong enough to feel those things without becoming them.  Happiness feels lighter when it’s not a mask covering up sadness.  And I want the lightness that I know is to come.  

With heaps and tons of love and appreciation,


Monday, December 5, 2011

The Weird Stuff They Forgot to Mention (plus updates)

So I’ve already told you guys about some of the joyous side effects of my medications (i.e. extra chin, hairy man-legs).  Those are fairly typical side effects with Cyclosporine and steroids, but there are also some things that are not as typical that I get to enjoy as well.  I’ve been gathering this little list in my head for a while so I thought I would share them with you peeps:

1.)  Hand tremors.  You should see me try to put on mascara or paint my nails.  Eating soup is also ridiculous.  It’s like I’m 80 years old.  
2.)  Leg Cramps.  When I’ve been standing or walking for a while, my legs and my feet start to hurt pretty badly.  It makes cooking time-consuming meals and shopping trips difficult.
3.)  Burning hands.  This one is weird.  When I’m cold my hands hurt like they’re burning.  The best way that I can describe it is like the feeling that you get when you come inside after playing outside in the snow for a while.  You know how your hands are so cold but the house is warm and your hands kind of burn but it’s hard to tell if they are really hot or really cold?  It’s like that.  I also can’t tell when things are hot and cold by touching them with my hands.  When I reheat something in the microwave, I touch them with my finger and it will feel like it’s really hot.  Then I take a bite and it’s lukewarm or cold.  It’s so strange.  So I’m not the best person to ask to reheat something for you, unless you don’t mind me taking a bite of it to see if it’s warm. 
4.)  Space Cadet status.  Cyclosporine makes you feel like you’re in a fog, everyday.  It’s probably the most frustrating side effect.  And surprisingly, it is the most evident to me in social situations.  When I’m in a group of people and trying to follow the conversation, it’s a struggle to stay focused on what everyone is saying.  So if we’re having a conversation and my eyes glaze over or start to wander, it’s not because I don’t care what you’re saying.  It’s just that it’s hard to concentrate.   
5.)  Scaley Palms.  Bear says it looks like I’m turning into an amphibian.  When I get out of the shower, my hands look pruney (normal), but the palms of my hands are hard and peeling (not normal).  It’s worse on my left hand.  I have no idea what it’s all about, but maybe Bear’s right?  I’m turning into an amphibian :). 
6.)  Oily skin.  Yay acne! I missed you and was really hoping you’d come back for a visit in my mid-twenties. 
7.)  Flushing skin.  Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of telling a story and all of a sudden I turn pink from my chest to my forehead.  But I’m not embarrassed.  Just hot and pink.  It happens after laughing or crying also.  It’s weird. 
8.)  Long, long hair and long, long eyelashes.  Yes! There is such a thing as a good side effect! The silver lining :)

As a result of the above weirdness, I’ve picked up some habits to adjust to the side effects.  Since I’m a space cadet and have a hard time focusing, when I’m in a group of people I tend to choose one or 2 people to talk to and ignore the rest.  Not trying to be rude, but I just can’t keep track of so many people’s convos. 
When I’m watching a TV program that has a complicated plot, sometimes my brain just completely ignores certain subplots of the show.  For example, if there’s a crime show that has a love story in it, I’ll only follow the love story.  I couldn’t tell you who killed who, but I know who hooked up.  It’s not a conscious decision, it just happens. 
            Shortly after entering a store or house, I know all the places that I can sit down.  I’m constantly surveying for places to put my butt if/when my legs start to hurt.  This is especially true in large stores, like Meijer, Costco, Sam’s Club, any home improvement store, and any store with “Super” in front of it.  (Seriously Lowe’s is like my worst nightmare.  Why is it SO big??)  Summer was good because most stores like these have outdoor lawn furniture on display.  Perfect.  Oh, I’m just trying out this lovely bench swing you have here…no biggie.  Nobody even looks twice at you.  Now that it’s colder it gets tricky.  I’ve had to improvise.  I went to Costco with my mom and sister a while ago and needed to sit down.  I looked for the any piece of furniture on display to sit on…nothing.  I looked by the concessions…all tables were full.  So we wandered down the soup aisle and at the end I found a stack of sacks of rice.  Not too low, not too tall…slightly embarrassing to sit on?  Yes.  Does it matter when you’re that tired?  Not at all.  Sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do.  So I sat on those sacks of rice.  And it was glorious.

I went to the doctor last Thursday and my counts were:

Platelets: 59,000  Hb: 10.2  WBC: 2.2

Platelets are sloowwwwly climbing and my hemoglobin is the highest it’s been.  Yay!  My white blood cells were down a bit, probably because I had a fever on Monday.  

Thanksgiving was lovely and delicious.  My sister and I completed the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot for the 4th year in a row, although we had to walk it this year since somebody went and got a disease…geeeez what a downer.  ;)

I also enrolled for classes next semester (waaahhhooooooooooooo!!!).  Really no one should ever be that excited to take grad school classes, but I think you can imagine why I am pretty pumped.

Thanks for reading this random update, and I hope you’re enjoying the holidays! 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Kindness

I read the book, Love is a Mixed Tape a few years ago.  It’s a memoir written by a reporter for Rolling Stone about falling in love with his wife and then dealing with her sudden death a few years after they were married.  It’s a great book, in spite of the sad premise; especially if you’re one of those people who can define different periods of their life with what music they were listening to at the time (guilty).  When Sheffield loses his wife he is heart-broken over the loss.  However as life moves forward, he realizes that there is something else equally as heartbreaking that goes along with loss and difficult times in life.  And that is the tidal wave of human kindness that inevitably follows every tragedy. 

“Human benevolence is totally unfair. We don't live in a kind or generous world, yet we are kind and generous. We know the universe is out to burn us, and it gets us all the way it got Renee, but we don't burn each other, not always. We are kind people in an unkind world, to paraphrase Wallace Stevens. How do you pretend you don't know about it, after you see it? How do you go back to acting like you don't need it? How do you even the score and walk off a free man? You can't. I found myself forced to let go of all sorts of independence I thought I had, independence I had spent years trying to cultivate. That world was all gone, and now I was a supplicant, dependent on the mercy of other people's psychic hearts.”

If you have ever been ill or lost someone close to you or been through a tough time, you know the way that the kindness of others can build you up and break your heart at the same time.  Being sick has exposed me to so much kindness that I will never be the same. 

When I was initially diagnosed with aplastic anemia, I was studying abroad in Ecuador and had to be medically evacuated on a small jet to Miami.  Once I was in the U.S., it was my own problem how I was going to get back home to Michigan.  I stayed in the hospital in Miami for a while but needed to eventually get home for treatment.  I was too sick to fly commercially (low platelets + cabin pressure = potential cranial bleeding = no good), so I had 2 options: pay approximately 30,000 dollars for a private charter plane to take me home, flying at a lower, safe altitude, or drive from FL to MI.  And here comes the kindness kicker: the head doctor at the health clinic at Michigan State University (where I was going to school) offered to fly down and drive with us back so that she could monitor my health throughout the trip.  I had never met her before. 
That seemed like our only option, until a family acquaintance called to say that he had extra time on his charter plane and offered to let us use his plane.  For free.  I had never met him before.  I still have never met either of them.
When I first got diagnosed, my second cousin called my parents from Afghanistan to say that he was getting registered to be a bone marrow donor.  This I just can’t understand.  My second cousin…risking his life for our country…calls from a war zone…to offer his support…and his bone marrow to me.  ME.  WHY?
My sister went to visit her boyfriend, Sean’s uncle who is far too young to be in hospice care, fighting brain cancer.  When my sister arrived his wife asked her, “How’s your sister doing?  We’ve been praying for her.”  To which, Sean’s uncle added, “She’s at the top of our list”.
When I was diagnosed, my community hosted a bone marrow drive for me.  Hundreds of people came.  People I hadn’t spoken to in years, people who knew my mom but had never met me, people who heard the story and just showed up. 
My dad is a hockey writer and has covered the NHL for over 25 years.  I have always heard that the hockey community is a small one and they take care of each other.  Since getting sick I know this to be true without question.  There was a week after I came home from the hospital where I got a package everyday from an NHL team or employee.  A cookie basket from the Nashville Predators.  A package from the Pittsburgh Penguins with a Pens hat, bobble head and a letter from Mario Lemieux.  A sweatshirt from the NHLPA.  A t-shirt and keychain from the Anaheim Ducks. 
Are you shaking your head at this list??  I am.  I am floored by these stories.  I understand kindness.  I have seen moments that leave me feeling like my chest might explode from witnessing such selflessness.  But it something quite different when it is directed towards me.  It confuses me because I feel undeserving.  It pulls my heart in a million directions.  It makes me sad for some reason, but it also brings me joy.  It makes me want to cry, but it also makes me smile.  But most of all, it is humbling.  It’s like if everyone figured out that you couldn’t afford groceries, and when you came home to your house, every room was full of groceries.  What you were once lacking, you now have in abundance, and you can’t help but look around, touched, but wondering, “What will I ever do with all of this?” 

That’s how I feel about the kindness in those stories.  What will I ever do with all of this?  Because it is certainly more than I ever expected.

I think that this is the type of kindness Rob Sheffield was talking about.  It’s in the moment in life when your world collapses around you and you think you might never heal from it.  When you think your legs will never be able bear your own weight again because the sadness, the fight that’s ahead of you is too much.  It’s in those moments when the kindness and strength of your rallying community will take your sorrow and fear and turn them to ash.  And it is an incredible thing to experience. 
But it also comes with a price.  Because this type of generosity will make that cynical, self-preserving person inside you, squirm uncomfortably.  That strong-willed, independent person that you’ve been building up your whole life, will not survive the assault.  After you’ve been on the receiving end of such kindness, you cannot go on thinking that people are to be kept at arm’s length, because there is too much potential to get hurt.  You can’t go on thinking that you don’t need anyone, that you can do it all alone. 
 The truth is that while we celebrate individuality and independence in this country, we need each other.  No man is an island, no matter how hard he tries.  We were never meant to go through this life alone, especially not the difficult times.  So I’m giving it up. The independent, stubborn girl inside of me is buckling under the weight such generosity.  I’ll acknowledge that I need the kindness of others.  I need help sometimes.  I cannot do it alone.  But I also promise to return the favor.  I will recognize the weakness and silliness of myself but only so that when I see it in others, I will feel empathy and offer in abundance what has been given to me without hesitation.
         If you can kill someone with kindness, then I have been killed 10 times over by all of you who have said a prayer on my or my family’s behalf, or hugged my mom, asked my dad how his daughter’s doing, or read and commented on this little blog, or sent a card, a care package, an email, or the tiniest good thought my way.  Your goodness fills me up and encourages me.  It reminds me that God is good and will provide us comfort in difficult times.  I cannot thank you enough. 
        I had coffee with my pastor and his wife recently and we talked about our love of international work and ministry.  He told me how much he wants to work internationally, but that his love for his family always brings him home.  He told me that people are like warehouses, always needing eventually to be restocked with whatever we need in order to continue to do good in this world.  Without intending to, this time at home has allowed me to restock the shelves that were getting filled with anxiety and fear, with all things good and light.  And I owe it to all of you.  So thank you, for breaking my heart in the best possible way. 

No counts to report this week because they gave me a week off of going to the doctor.  I have an appointment Tuesday and I will let you know then!  I have knocked a few things off my 25 by 25 list too.  I'll tell you all about it soon :)


Sunday, November 6, 2011

25 by 25

Here it is!  The challenge I've given myself as a way to kill time/improve my culinary skills while I have free reign of my parents' kitchen and cooking supplies.  :)  It's a pretty random collection of 25 things that I have never made (or never successfully made, I should say), to be completed by my 25th birthday next April.  I'll keep you posted with how it's going!

1.     Yeast bread
2.     Fruit pie from scratch
3.     Sea scallops
4.     Pizza dough
5.     Lofthouse-type sugar cookies
6.     Lasagna
7.     Hummus
8.     Sweet rolls
9.     Olga bread
10. Pot roast
11.  Pork carnitas
12. crab rangoons
13.  pasta carbonara
14.  pasta with vodka sauce
15.  oreo truffles
16. red velvet cake/cupcakes
17. basil pesto
18. Blondies
19. Soft pretzels
20. Homemade salsa
21. Biscotti
22. Dish with Tempeh
23. Risotto
24. El Azteco Cheese Dip
25. Empanadas