First of all: Look. At. My. Hair!
It’s taken a whole year to grow out this fro and I treat every strand like a piece of hard earned property.
(See: Losing My Hair )
As devastating as it was to loose it all, how many women get the opportunity to regrow their hair? To let those dead, fried and dyed hairs go and welcome healthy, thick and curly new ones? Not many. So I treat them as kindly as possible with minimal heat, product and strain. And they’re coming back with a vengeance full of volume, curl and life.
It’s been a long year and many moments of self-pity as I envy girls with long hair or the ability to wear it however they choose. Since mine is all coming in at the same time, it means that top layer looks somewhat like a mullet while the bottom layer grows past my shoulders. I’m not quite at the point where I can confidently where it down, but I am patiently accepting the process of letting it grow, while I trim the ends and wait for the day it’ll all even out.
And that’s what I’m doing with myself as well. My soul, my whole being: letting it grow, trusting the process and trimming the negatives away. I see the light at the end of the tunnel; just like I can envision the day I can just wear my hair down.
I think I’m fairly good at self-reflection and pinpointing just how consuming this disease has become. I try to recognize how far I’ve come over the last year, and how well I’ve adapted to having an ostomy. And although there has been a lot of lows throughout the year as I struggle with a new pest that is anxiety, I want to highlight some of the best moments this year has brought, and possibly some of the best of my life.
January: My positon in our toddler room
I went to school to become a Junior/ Intermediate teacher and when I moved home from England I started my work at the YMCA in the preschool room. They were so young and foreign to me I used to think of them as little aliens. I was so in over my head that I wouldn’t have blamed my director for letting me go. But throughout the next 3 years, I developed my skill as an ECE and eventually landed a position in the toddler room. My babies. My little monkeys who are full of personality and hope and curiosity. I take pride in my work with these munchkins and it brings tears to my eyes when I think of being away from them again. Every day they’re learning something new just by exploring and observing, while they also teach me patience, empathy and how to push through a weak stomach (I HATE yogurt and runny noses). After months off work and several leave of absences, these tiny humans do an excellent job putting into perspective what life is about, and how much potential life has to offer if you let go of all your shit and just PLAY.
March: Costa Rica
My first trip with an ostomy, my best friends got married. We relaxed, we partied, and we danced and drank and swam. The week kept us in suspense as we battled heat stroke and heart break. But it turned out to be the best week ever because the universe was looking out for us. Who wouldn’t have the time of their life drinking in the jungle with the best people?
May: The best part of May is the weather and I had the perfect long weekend celebrating the beginning of summer with wine, a couple of girls, a swanky hotel and Niagara region. I think my anxiety was really beginning at this point in the year but this particular long weekend was a fantastic way to just relax.
June: What a riot! This month kicked off with the Gutsy Walk, which is always one of my favourite days of the year. Again, I was one of York Region’s top earners thanks to so many fantastic supporters of mine.
Then we celebrated Sammy as we took another amazing trip down to Nashville. If you put 8 girls, 2 cars, 4 nights of country music and 1 bachelorette party together in Music City you’re bound for some unspeakable memories. And we’ll just leave it at that. This trip also allowed me to reflect on some discriminatory moments and what it truly means to feel prejudice and how privileged I really am. Once we were home we continued to celebrate Sammy at her shower with a boho theme, flower crowns and my love affair with dreamy balloons.
July – August: The summer. I already wrote a post reflecting on what was possibly the worst summer of my life because of that new pest of mine. But there really were some wonderful moments: Canada Day (always a good one), concerts, Hamilton beer fest, the cottage, engagements, and my other best friend’s wedding. Between the sun tanning, reading, summer fling, mimosas, doggy park, BBQs, road trips, laughing, drinking and socializing, the summer flies by. There was so much celebrating that it allowed me to take a moment and forget about my own medical drama.
However, as I also mentioned, due to that new pest of mine, I also spent a lot of time alone. And this is when most of my reflection and growth happened. I was able to accept that yes, my life has been put on hold. And it kills me to not be ambitious and progressive but it really isn’t the worst thing the universe has ever done to me. It made me slow down and just accept that these are the cards I’ve been given. As up and down as 2015 was while I kept waiting for it to get better, 2016 was at a stand still which drove me bonkers. But that’s okay. Because it just fueled my fire for 2017.
( #Summer 2016 )
September: My most anxious month but my most significant. Preparing myself for surgery and then undergoing the most difficult 2 weeks I’ve ever experienced seemed like a dark cloud hanging over my life. But it’s that dark cloud that waters the life for what’s to come. That surgery was necessary for me to move on and it’s one less hospital stay checked off the list.
October: A year since having an ostomy and a milestone for this blog. On the same day I relished in the moment of writing for one year, I won the ANA inspiration contest in which they named their next pair of underwear after me and half of the proceeds go towards Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. It feels like a big accomplishment and puts into perspective that what I’m doing with this little project isn’t for nothing. Some days I’m not sure why I do it other than for my own solace but then there were days like this when I feel proud.
I also want to mention that several people throughout the year have reached out to me for input re: colitis, a loved one, anxiety or simply starting a blog. And I’m thankful. You’ve made me feel important and connected and although I am no expert on IBD, I have some input that may provide some positivity.
December: The holidays are sometimes difficult for me. I find them stressful in the hustle and expense of gift giving and decorating and over indulging in the month. But again, if you can slow down, time with family is really all that matters. Plus working in a day care I witnessed first hand the magic in kids’ eyes when we talked about Santa or his elves.
This time of year also allows us that time to reflect which I think is really important. It’s important to see where you’ve come in order to know where you want to be. I usually feel like I’ve been in a rut, but a year ago I wasn’t nearly as confident as I was about having an ostomy. And while the year winds down I also get a burst of motivation. I love the New Year. It’s such a symbol of a fresh start and an opportunity to start over or continue whatever you have going for your life. Today I did a big purge and de-cluttered a lot of the junk floating around my house. And now I feel ready. Ready for 2017 and ready to continue growing.