Happiness Project: 3 Days


I’m just 3 days shy of going in for my 7th major surgery in 11 years. To remove my 6th tumor. This one being a 7cm tumor engulfing my adrenal gland. And no matter that I’ve undergone so many major surgeries, it never gets easier. I always go through short bouts of nerves and anxiety throughout the days leading up to the actual procedure. Because no matter how much I like both of my surgeons, and have been walked through the actual (very intriguing) 3-4 hour surgery, my brain, and my heart, can’t help but fret over it.

So in anticipation of my big day next week, I wanted to put to ink some of the most poignant lessons that I have learned in my 38 years. Because I know how quickly life can change. Sometimes in an instant.


I’ve had many individuals that have crossed my path, name me as soft hearted. And I’ve learned within the past couple years, that I would rather be soft hearted than not. This life, this world, can be so very cruel, and unforgiving. Because sometimes people believe that in order to get by, they must be thick skinned. But I’ve learned that even though being soft hearted, and open to the people around me, may cause me pain, and grief, it has never changed the brightness within my heart. Choosing to respond to the world around you in a soft way, isn’t a disability, or a weakness. It’s a strength. Of character, of will, of heart. So no matter those who seek to hurt you, may you also choose to see things with a soft heart.


Throughout the years growing up within my family, my father affectionately named me the “black sheep” of my two other sisters. For whatever reason, I just went my own way, against the grain (so to speak). A way of doing things that is still very prevalent within my adult life. From being a children’s book specialist for 18 years (which paid just a little over minimum wage), to going about planning my wedding in a unconventional manner, to choosing to fight extreme pain (while risking my life), while my husband & I fought to conceive, to choosing to share my life, with all the ups & downs with friends, and strangers alike, without taming my own truth (no matter if my words have been liked or not), I’ve always chosen to do my own thing. To create my own way, without regard to any nay-sayer. Because no matter others opinions, at the end of the day, this is my life to live. To journey through. To create. No one else’s. And that’s a beautiful thing.


It may seem like an impossibly surreal idea to follow one’s heart in such a hard world, but I’ve found that every time I follow my heart, instead of doing what seems most necessary, my life is better for it. Every time I’ve followed a passion of mine, I discovered parts of myself that I never knew existed. And every single one of these passions has led me into experiences that both challenge yet satisfy so many aspects of my intelligence and emotional stability. They’ve shown me that there IS a higher purpose to one’s life, beyond having (or not having) a typical 9-5 job. I believe that by following one’s heart, there will always be something learned of great worth & empowerment. And I wish that more individuals were just as willing to follow their own, instead of struggling so terribly for peace, and contentment, and happiness, in this hard world. Because I’ve learned that when you follow your heart, no matter the circumstances, life is simply better than before. More beautiful than before.


In the last 3 years, I’ve learned a staggering amount of information pertaining to mental illnesses, because of myself becoming bi-polar depressive, with a panic disorder. And the degree of ignorance involving the general public (not knowing enough about the “hidden” world of the mentally ill), is incredibly saddening. This stigma following those like me around, created from those without proper education or the ability to be compassionate, must change NOW. And by NOW, I mean with those like me challenging the ignorant many. I’ve discovered that though there will (inevitably) be those who don’t understand, and therefore walk away, there will always be those who DO choose to learn about, and therefore understand, the many facets of an individual living with a metal illnesses. Because although a mental illness changes things, (such as, perhaps, one’s ability to socialize or function in a predictable fashion) within one’s life, it does not become that whole person. This is why I’ve found that championing myself, by being completely open & honest about my struggles, is pivotal in opening up a much needed dialogue between myself, those like me, and those who do not know the necessary information pertaining to a loved one’s diagnosis, but WANT to learn. Sometimes, it takes one voice, to free the many. Be your own voice. Be your own champion. You ARE WORTH IT.


My family (my husband, mom, two sisters, cousin, and my mother & father-in-law), as well as a very small circle of 4 close friends, are my people. These individuals who know me, who get me. The ones who have never walked away, or left me, because of my many physical & mental disabilities. This group of mine, who continue to love me, truly love me, unconditionally, without reserve. Some who have been in my life for 20 years, some only a few years, or with one of my (now) out-of-state friends, a couple months. Yet no matter any distance, or time, or hardship between us, have chosen to be MY people. These are the kind of people to hold on to, and grow with. To love, and appreciate, with every ounce of being. When you find your people, never let them go. They will always be worth keeping.


Just breathe. Tomorrow will come when it’s ready. So until then, breathe.

Before I log off for my surgery next week, I’d like you all to know how appreciative I am of you choosing to get to know me, the real me, through this digital ink, and these many black words. Thank you for following my adventures, as both a recipe blogger, and a Mama. I’ll see you on the flip side! xoxo

*My sister gifted me with this beautiful Grateful Jar last Christmas! Etsy has similar designs, like this one, that you might like if you’re wanting to start your own penny collection!

Happiness Project#74: Family Chili Dip!



It’s nearly time. In a little over a week I’ll be going in for my 4th major surgery in 3 years. This time I’ll be having multiple damaged discs in my lower neck repaired. An invasive procedure that I’ve been needing to have done for well over 10 years. And here’s the honest, unfiltered truth: I’m scared out of my mind. Not because I don’t believe that it won’t work, because I do know that it will help me immensely, and I’ll finally (finally) be able to move pain-free again. Cue the hallelujahs!

Nor is it the thought of the recovery either (which will be 2 to 3 very long months), that’s messing with my head. It’s the surgery itself that’s leaving me incredibly, and irrationally nervous and anxious and yes, scared. You’d think that after undergoing 8 major surgeries within the last 11 years, I’d have gotten over this irrational fear of mine. Geez, I even have a handy prescription for the many situations just like this, when the fear and anxiety is nearly debilitating. But yet, after 11 years of more ER visits than I can count, the idea of being put under full anesthesia (as well as my actual neck being worked on), is still one of my deepest fears. It doesn’t seem to matter how encouraging and logical any of my family & friends are, when attempting to snap me out my panic. Logic doesn’t make it any easier.  Because it’s all just horribly, horribly scary. So even though I cannot wait to be pain-free and mobile again (like you wouldn’t believe), the waiting for and then undergoing both the surgery and long recovery, is leaving me undeniably emotional.

So what does this Mama do when her brain is freaking out over things that cannot possibly be controlled? She bakes. Or if not that, she whips up something else just as tantalizing. Because kitchen wizardry is my kind of therapy. Hence this super easy, delightfully addictive 3 ingredient Chili Dip! Yes, I did just say only THREE ingredients! Which means chip dip for days!! Here’s all you need:

2 cans of your favorite canned chili with beans, warmed by either microwave or stovetop

1/2 cup of fresh sour cream

A couple pinches of shredded cheddar cheese

Your favorite bag of dipping chips! In this case, tortilla strips!

Remember how I just mentioned how crazy easy this recipe is? Well, it really is. Because all you need to do is mix up the warmed chili with the sour cream, with the shredded cheese. Until those 3 ingredients are nicely fully blended.

And then, dip those chips!

Just a little warning, though. This dip is deliciously addictive, so you might need to forcibly resist gobbling up this entire chili dip in one mere sitting. My family can’t. I dare you to instead. Ha.

In case this is my last recipe post before my surgery next week, I’ll see you all on the flip side!


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