I’m Glad I’m Here

Every birthday I reflect on the previous year: what have I learned, what has changed, where I want to be, etc.  Turning 40 this year is no different except I’ve been thinking about the whole 40 years.  Where was I mentally and emotionally for the other big birthday.  To be honest, I’m lucky to have hit 40.

Two months to the day prior to my 17th birthday, my brother took his life.  I know I’ve mentioned it several times but if you’re new here, you can read about it here: https://changingliz.com/2013/11/13/sean  It was life changing and I still feel the ripples today, the good and the bad.

It was an excruciating time and I wanted to die. I felt so alone because the only people who understood was my family who was falling apart in their own right too.  I didn’t want to talk to them because I didn’t want to upset them.  It was hard to talk to my friends because they didn’t understand and I imagine they didn’t know what to say.  At one point, I admitted I was suicidal and was essentially kicked out of school and had to see a psychiatrist before I could return.

Thankfully I was sent an angel, my high school guidance counselor.  I trusted her and she was my savior.  We met pretty regularly and she always had my back.  Little did I know that she was going through a difficult time as she lost her mother not too long before we met.  But she made sure I didn’t go down a rabbit hole and pushed me to keep going.

Eventually, it was time to get my drivers license and I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t want to do anything that was exciting to everyone our age.  I even got a great part in the local community theater play singing an iconic song from Godspell but quit because I just couldn’t do it.   I wasn’t anything amazing but I felt I lost my voice.

My senior year was better because I was too busy to think too much.  Visiting college campuses, prepping for SATs, and college applications were my focus.  Thankfully (and I think with major help from my guidance counselor) I got into my #1 choice.

My freshman year at college was amazing.  I met lifelong friends, became president of my dorm and almost failed out because I was having too much fun.  But one thing that really sticks out for me was the second anniversary of Sean’s death.  It was my first away from home and I was dreading it.  I decided to tell my friends about Sean.  And in turn, they took me out bowling to keep me busy.  I will never forget their kindness during that time.

Every anniversary and every birthday is hard.  But the big 4-0 has been a reflective time remembering where I was and where I am today.  Without those people in my life, I may not have made it.  I want anyone out there reading this to know that you are not alone.  Life can be damn hard.  So hard that you may not want to be here anymore but I promise it gets better.  It will never be easy because there will be other obstacles along the way but it sure is awesome.

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Don’t Lose Faith

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I was secretly on a mission for the last 11 months and I am sad to report that I have failed.  My goal was to meet a hot and super rich guy to marry and travel with and never work again.

I have put my goal aside (for now 😉 ) and found a new job!  I’m pretty excited because it’s something new but nervous AF hoping I do a good job.  I do feel good about it because they have already set up a Welcome Liz Lunch (I love lunching!) whereas my last employer threw me in a cube and my boss didn’t talk to me for six months.

With that said, I came across a blog I never posted when I was down in the dumps.  I had made a list of goals that I have mostly accomplished:

  1. Stop the negativity – work in progress
  2. Do what makes me happy – my favorite one!
  3. Walk everyday – eh, working on that
  4. Love myself – work in progress

I have made a lot of changes since I made this list and feel really good. I probably haven’t felt this good for an extended period of time in years.  I am not perfect and I will stumble but I am conscious of what I need to do to stay on track.

My time “off” has been time well spent.  I have helped others which fills my heart and others have helped me.  In down times we learn who our friends our and I certainly did.  My friends have really stuck by me and when I was a raging bitch or in a dark place; they certainly made it known and balanced me.  THANK YOU!

My parents have been my safety net and I am incredibly lucky to have them.  Despite disagreements I know they have my best interest at heart.  ❤

Lastly, like the quote about says, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.”  It’s easy to be positive when things are going right for me at the moment, but I learned how to have faith in myself.  No one can ever bring you down unless you let them.  This was a hard lesson for me because it meant I had to be mentally strong and block out the bullshit.  I built that faith in myself by knowing I was better than what anyone says or thinks.  I had faith that I am a hard worker and would figure out a way if I didn’t find a job.  There is always a way…

Choose Hope Not Fear

chemo

Every week, my very good friend drives up to North Jersey from Ocean County for her chemo treatments to fight breast cancer.  Last week, I had the honor of going with her.  Admittedly I was nervous because I’m queasy around needles but mostly because I didn’t know what to expect of others.

The hospital in which the chemo treatment took place had a floor dedicated to the treatment.  A whole floor that ran like a well oiled machine from checking in, getting your name called, taking your blood, getting a seat number, picking up warm blankets and a pillow and then your cocktail is delivered.  Each and every one of the staff was friendly and upbeat.  I guess there is no other choice than to be positive in a fearful place.

In true life fashion, my fears were unnecessary.  The needles made me light headed, yes, but fearing the unexpected wasn’t all that scary.  There were a few patients that sat in the chair next to us who had ports.  (Luckily for my friend, a port isn’t necessary.)  The ports remind me of something sci-fi; getting plugged up to tubes delivering your custom cocktail.  The “plug” reminded me of my iPhone plug but instead of going into the wall, it was going near the patient’s heart.

The real scary thing was how many patients were there.  I wonder quite often why so many people have cancer.  This can go into a whole other topic but it’s important to acknowledge that treatment is more available than 10, 20, 30 years ago.

In the end, the experience is very humbling.  Each patient’s diagnoses and experience is different yet there is a special connection between them like their own lingo: WBC numbers or counts, chemo brain, how many treatments are left for them, sharing after-chemo experiences.   My hope is that all those people I saw today are able to walk away and live happy healthy lives.

I am so very proud of my friend for being a strong and beautiful person throughout her journey to health.  She is way more beautiful without her hair because of her strength.

Change of Scenery

change of scenery

I have a friend at work who I confide in about my work and life challenges.  Every few weeks she tells me that I need a change of scenery.  It seems like a simple suggestion but then my brain goes into overdrive…

A change of scenery could mean two things: changing jobs or moving away.  The moving away part seems to cross my mind more often lately but that’s a major change that I don’t know I’m willing to make.  I have my family and friends in the tri-state area that I couldn’t live without.

Sure, I make friends everywhere I go, but moving states away?  Is a big move like that worth leaving those important people behind?  The thought of that brings on anxiety and fear but could it be worth it in the long run?

I need to hear from people who have made big changes like this.  Was it worth it?  Were you so terrified of that change but laughed at it later on?  Was it a huge mistake?  I need your help because this girl needs a change!

 

2015 Improvements

New Year 2015

I don’t know about you but I hate setting a New Year’s Resolution!  I have always felt that we don’t need the end of the year to reflect on the past and make changes in the future because it can be done everyday.  However, I will indulge you with my thoughts on how I want to improve in 2015….

Saying Yes

Saying yes to things outside of your comfort zone can be scary and rewarding.  I’m going to take more chances in hopes for larger rewards.

Saying No

Saying no to things you don’t want to do just makes you unhappy.  Don’t get me wrong, there are obligations we don’t want to do but they are the right thing.  I’m going to say no to things and be ok with my decision.

Taking Care of my Body

Being a healthier person is important for our overall happiness.  I’m not perfect and put on a couple of pounds this Holiday Season but as long I am conscious of what I need to feel good that is ok for me.

Slowing Down and Being More Thoughtful

A few times this year I have been faced with many work challenges and changes.  In an effort to prove that I can handle it all, I had compromised my responsiblity to be strategic.  This year I will be slowing down, thinking clearly about the down stream effects and best solutions.

Cooking More

I am a good cook and rarely do it because it’s easier to just pick up food for one!  I am going to make a bigger effort to cook new things at a reasonable price and in a healthy way.

So, in my last post of the year, I encourage you to look back on the last year.  Applaud yourself fo your accomplishments, recognize your failures, pick yourself up and move into the new year in a positive way.  Who knows, changing ourselves could yield bigger changes around us.

Happy New Year to you!

Spasiba 2014!

In honor of #tbt I took a look back on 2014 and laughed and smiled at all the things I have done.  I have met new friends, strengthened others and completed some goals!  Here are just some of my main squeezes…

friends

2014 started out pretty amazing as I celebrated my 35th birthday with important friends and family.  For those of you who closed down the bar with us, the party didn’t stop there (Neptune ballet)…  Who knew I would meet a new friend there and would have many memories throughout the year (ahem, Bar A in AC, Irish car bombs, etc etc)

liz knipper friends

The Spring brought on awesome outings with new said friends as well as a great trips with my Mom.  The first was up to the city to visit my bro on St. Patrick’s Day.  My first time at the parade and at The Tonight Show.  If you have an opportunity to do these things – do it!  You won’t regret it!

st patricks day

We also traveled to Miami to visit my family.  I had an awesome visit with my cousin who gave me a tour of the upper Keys via boat bar hopping – the best method!

keys

Memorial Day Weekend was also a start to a big goal of mine; to complete the Jersey Shore Golden Grand Prix (running five specific races over the summer).  During this time I completed two 5-milers and three 5Ks.  My favorite was the Spring Lake 5.  The crowd was awesome and the weather was perfect.

spring lake 5 finish line

As the summer came to a close my family and I were off to the beautiful state of Colorado to celebrate my cousin’s wedding at 11k+ feet on Keystone Mountain.  It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and to celebrate two people who make each other very happy was the icing on the cake.  The Rocky Mountains were crazy cool – GO!

pat staceyrocky mountains 2014
The cold weather started to close in which meant it was time to get out of Jersey.  My travel buddy and I took an amazing trip to Punta Cana where we had the time of our lives.  We met great new friends from Latvia, Newark and Pittsburgh!  I wonder what we’ll do next year!

saona island 1pc 1

 

Lastly, and most importantly, we celebrated my Grandmother’s 94th birthday.  How lucky are we that my Grandmother is not only still with us to celebrate the holidays but she’s sharp, funny and is still able to live on her own.  We had a great day with all the grandkids to celebrate how much we love her!  Nine grandkids and four greats – amazing!

gma 94

 

Looking back on all of these amazing memories makes me wonder if 2015 will top it.  Who knows what goals I will create but as long as I have these good people around me I say YES!  Wishing you all the best in 2015 – hope to see you out there! Nostrovia!

Not Welcome In Philly Anymore

tap n run

This past Saturday my friend Dawn and I participated in the Tap ‘N Run in Philly.  It’s a 4K fun run involving drinking beer.  Ok, let that sink in for a second….

Tap ‘N Run’s are held in every major city in America and is meant to be crazy and it certainly was!  The run (as I use that term loosely) started in waves to ensure everyone had an opportunity to chug a beer.  While at the start line in my wave, we were give a cup of beer which we were instructed to chug and then we were off!

Because I’m such a lame-o I couldn’t finish my beer I went right to the trash can like the good citizen I am to throw out my cup.  After throwing the cup in the trash a girl on my right slipped and fell down.  I went forward to help her up and hit my head right into a steel statue.  If you’re familiar with the sports complex area of Philly you know about these steel statues that are sprinkled around the area.  They are large replicas of well known sports figures.

Everything was in slow motion as I was trying to keep myself up but I hit my head so hard I lost my balance and fell right down on my ass.  I could hear all the other runners in unison saying “ohhhhhh” as if one of their beloved Flyers was getting their butt kicked like they normally do.  (Oops, did I say that aloud??)

After the birdies above my head dissipated, I got up and started running….right to the first beer stop.  We were given another beer to chug and then we were off. Feeling bloated we decided to blow off the second beer stop and headed right to the finish line where I ran into my statue friend.  The race organizers had put a neon cone on it…for good reason!

statue

We received another beer at the finish and then headed to the bar.  The bar area was crowded with people from the race and they held a  costume contest.  There were teams dressed up as a six pack of beer, Where’s Waldo and my favorite the Oregon Trail!

I am so happy I did the “run” to mix up my more competitive races.  Keep your eye open for them because they are becoming move popular like the ROC race (think 5K with Wipeout obstacles) and the Color Runs.  Get your friends together and just do it!