Wednesday, January 27, 2016

He's Gone...

My Mikey is gone.  And he's never coming back.

My heart is so completely broken. I wish this were all a bad dream.

That photo is the last one I took of the two of us, just two days before he died.

It's been 5 days since I let him go, and it hasn't gotten any easier.

I still keep hearing his voice in my head and expecting to see him around every corner.  I would give anything for one more day with him, healthy, to hold him and snuggle him and smell his head and kiss his paws. 

I've played last Thursday night over and over in my head.  Questioning if I did the right thing.  Going over what I thought went wrong.  Wondering what was going through his mind and if he knew through it all how much I loved him. 

I had a vet come to my house that night, which I thought would be the best way for him.  I didn't want the last thing he experienced to be a cold steel table in an unfamiliar, scary place.

The morning after, I drove back to Pennsylvania, tears streaming down my face the entire time, with both of my cats in the car.  My dad dug a hole and we laid Mikey to rest in my parents backyard under the apple tree where our family dog is buried.  He looked like he was sleeping.  Even though I knew his spirit was no longer in that body, I still couldn't believe it was the last time I'd ever see him in this life.  It still doesn't feel real. 

Sal grieved for days, searching frantically for Mikey in my apartment and at my parents house.  He cried under the bed the first night and couldn't sleep.  He continues to search and look behind him constantly for Mikey and at night sits atop the bed, looking into the hallway, waiting.  I can't imagine what he's thinking and I'm worried about leaving him home alone all day from now on.

From the day they were born and for the past 11 years, they were constant companions.  They have never even spent 1 day apart.  They slept together, played together and groomed each other daily.  They were brothers and soulmates.

There have been a few times I've seen Sal looking over my shoulder, eyes wide and unflinching, and I believe Mikey is visiting him.  Today, he was staring intently down the hall, and then chased something up the stairs.  I believe they are still playing together.

I don't want to keep crying about Mikey, but I also don't want him to think I've forgotten about him.

We weathered the blizzard in Pennsylvania and just came home to my apartment tonight.  I think a tiny little part of me expected to see Mikey waiting for us when we returned. 

His food bowl and litter box are still out.  I still have jars of baby food on my counter and his medicine in the fridge.  I'm not yet ready to pack up all the reminders.

I miss him more than I ever thought possible, and our lives will never be the same.  I can't believe this is our new reality.

I hope he knows how much I love him, and I hope wherever he is, he's not hurting and not lonely.

I got this photo of my boys snuggling, the night before Mikey died:

I lost a piece of my heart last week that I'll never get back.  My sweet boy, I loved you so much and I always will. 

What greater gift than the love of a cat? ~ Charles Dickens

Monday, January 11, 2016

I Guess It's About Time for an Update....

I guess it's about time for an update... It's been awhile.  I'm sorry for not checking in the entire month of December.  I hope you all had wonderful holidays.  And Happy New Year!

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Thanksgiving.  I wonder if I remember how to do this?  As you could probably tell from the tone of my last post, I was in a bad place.  December was an emotional/terrible month for me and I was in no place to blog about it.  I returned from Thanksgiving in Georgia to a cat that was very, very ill.  Not eating at all, hiding all day, and in a lot of pain (didn't know it at the time).  He lost 2 lbs in 2 weeks and had zero quality of life. 

I would rush home after work every evening, not knowing what condition he would be in, and I honestly thought he was not even going to make it until Christmas.  I was a wreck, he was a wreck.  I was spending all day taking care of kids, then coming home and taking care of my dying cat, and who was taking care of me?  No one.  I couldn't even think about Christmas.  When it was apparent I was going to have to put him down if this continued I decided to start him on daily prednisone.  It's a steroid that's a stop-gap measure for animals with cancer, but it comes with a risk of heart failure which is why I initially rejected the idea.  Prednisone alleviates pain, makes the animal more comfortable and extends their life a bit by slowing the progression of cancer.  It's not a cure.  As far as I know, pet owners do not often pursue chemo for animals.  

But in order to even have chemo as an option, you need to have a biopsy and confirmation of what type of cancer you're dealing with. I believe in my last post, I had said Mikey would be getting a biopsy but after his condition deteriorated so quickly I decided against it.  The vet would need to stick a needle through his body and chest wall and there were huge risks (lung puncture/collapse, bleeding out, etc).  So chemo was out and I don't think I would have even pursued it anyway.

In my attempts to do everything possible, I hired a holistic vet to come to the house and treat him!  I know what you're thinking. What the h^ll does a holistic vet do?!  And what does that cost?! It's expensive.  I mean I do not pay for acupuncture, massages, pedicures or even HAIRCUTS for myself because I can't afford them, but I was shelling out money for acupuncture for my cat!  We had 3 visits with her and initially Mikey actually sat while she put needles all over his body!  Once I started him on the prednisone and he started to feel better, however, he was not as patient.  She also gave me some essential oil to massage him with which contained things like oregano oil and he was walking around smelling like a pizza.  Ha  I've also just recently started him on some Chinese herbs which are homeopathic cancer treatments. 

All this background is to say after weeks of turmoil, uncertainty and heartache, he is finally stable.  He is not in pain anymore.  He plays and cuddles (he's on my lap 24/7).  He is eating now, but not cat food!  He prefers real meat and fish which I am now cooking every night.  And he eats treats which are probably basically junk but I'll give him whatever he wants.  He's quite skinny so anything he wants in his last days, he gets. 

I genuinely feels he wants to be here for a little while longer.  Once I sense that changing, I will have very difficult decisions to make and I'll be a freaking wreck again. 

I'll regale you with one more little anecdote regarding Mikey and then I'll stop with the cat talk.  One day a couple days before Christmas, he was having a string of bad days.  Hadn't eaten and didn't have much energy (some days are like this).  I got home from work and tried feeding him every thing I could think of and he still didn't want it.  I got frustrated and started crying and basically screaming at him that he had to eat (horrendous behavior on my part).  I took a shower and tried to calm down but was still upset.  It was then that Mikey went into the kitchen, jumped on the counter, and retrieved and dropped a little medicine cup at my feet.  I had completely forgotten about this game we used to play!  I didn't even knew that Mikey knew where I kept the little cups.  We proceeded to then play 'catch' for the next 15-20 minutes. 

When I say that I can't remember the last time we played this game, I mean it has been at least a year or two.  When Mikey was younger he loved this game.  He literally plays 'fetch' just like a dog! I never taught him this, he just brought a little milk cap over to me many years ago, I threw it, and he fetched it and brought it back to me.  And so it began.  He loved this game but for some reason, I had kind of forgotten to 'play' with my cats for so long.  Their lives became more about a comfort to me lately, than me stimulating them and remembering to give them the attention they obviously craved.

At this moment and on this night, it honestly felt like a miraculous, spiritual event.  I hadn't seen Mikey like this in months, and here he was playing.  I feel animals can be psychic on some level and I honestly felt like he was telling me that he was still here, still wanted to be here, and was still in the game.  I cried some more then and told him I understood. 

Okkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.  That was a lot.  I hope I didn't kill you all emotionally! 

I'll end with some Christmas pictures to recap the last few weeks.  Oh did I also forget to mention that my car broke down on Christmas Eve?! Yeah so that happened too. I almost didn't make it home for Christmas.  I was debating until the last day whether to even go home this year because I was so distraught, and then the cherry on top was a $400 car repair!  But I'm glad I did.  Because being at home with the people we love turned out to be the best medicine for both me and the cats.  After nearly 12 years in Baltimore, I'm thinking its about time I get moving closer to the people that are important to me, but more on that later. 

For now, enjoy:

Running through fog on Christmas morning.  It was 60 degrees.  So strange.  And wonderful.
My running has actually been feeling really good lately so there's one silver lining in this dark cloud hanging over us.  I've been logging more miles recently and so far, so good on the leg/knee issue!

Christmas Day with my nephews!

My babies

My very best friends in all the world
After a month of incredible stress and turmoil, being around my family and friends was incredibly healing.  I don't reach out for help much, but I am realizing more and more that being around loved ones is actually really necessary for a healthy happy life.  It's no good for me to be on my own constantly.  Apparently it took my cat getting cancer for me to realize this.  In his last months of life, all he wants is to be constantly near me.  Constantly.  Follows me everywhere.  Is on my lap for petting and snuggles every opportunity he can get.  Sometimes I don't think I realize how much of a negative affect the distance from my loved ones has, until it's too late, crisis hits and I'm unraveling.  People need people.  Otherwise what's the point?
There are some things I'd like to accomplish in the new year, but for now they'll remain unsaid.  I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now as I don't want to make any big changes in Mikey's last days.  What I do know is that 2016 for me is going to be more about connection and trying to be true deep down to what's important to me.  You never know how much time you have left.
I wanted a West Coast winter this year and I got it.  On the East Coast.  I know this is hinting at severe ecological changes, but I can't help but enjoy it.  For now anyway.  Now is really all we have anyway.
I don't know how often I'll be blogging right now as my priorities have obviously changed.  I'm gone from my house 12-13 hours a day as is and any time that's left I want to spend with Mikey.  Thanks for everyone who has reached out and kept us in your thoughts!
How were your holidays?

How does 2016 feel to you so far?
Is it important for you to be near family/friends or do you like the independence of distance?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When the World Stops Spinning

It's apparent I've been MIA around here for a couple of weeks.  Maybe you noticed, and maybe you didn't!  But my cat's been sick and I just didn't feel like writing.  I don't even feel much like writing now but thought I'd check in and let you know I'm still alive.

It all started off so innocuously.  I took my cat into the vet last weekend for what I believed was a minor cough, and what I thought would be a simple diagnosis. They took chest x-rays and that's when they saw it.  A mass.

I heard the C word and then I lost it.  I felt like I was going to throw up and pass out at the same time.  My world stopped spinning.

I brought him home and then I cried all weekend.  ALL weekend.  Nothing else matters when someone you love gets that diagnosis.  Nothing.  An ultrasound yesterday confirmed the tumor.  We are still waiting on a biopsy which will be performed next week but in any case, it's not good. 

I'm sad every time I look at him, thinking there's something inside his body that's slowly killing him and there's nothing I can do. 

Why my cat???

I cry in the car and in the shower sometimes, when no one's around.  I cry when I look at him and see how thin he's becoming, wondering why I didn't notice anything sooner.  I cry often when I lie down at night. 

I don't know how I'll watch him go through this. 

How do you explain what's happening to a cat?  I don't know. 
How will I explain to his brother what's happened to his very best friend in the world.  I don't know.  How will I pretend that what's happening to him isn't killing me inside?  I won't.  

Tomorrow I leave to spend the holiday in ATL surrounded by family.  I'll board my plane and pretend my world's still spinning, and that my heart isn't breaking into a million little pieces.

And that's all I have to say about that. 

I realize this post is a HUGE downer and I'm sorry.  But that's what's been going on.  If you've ever had a pet with a terminal illness, I'd love to hear what you did, how you dealt with it, and how you helped them through it.

Wherever you are spending the holidays and whomever you are with, love them and hug them and tell them.  You never know how much time you have left.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Running & Workouts Lately and I'm Back in my High School Running Shoe!

Hello and Happy Tuesday to you!  This is use to be a running blog, but you wouldn't know it lately, would you?  My leg/hamstring/back of knee area hasn't gotten any worse, but it hasn't gotten much better.  I will tell you this - It didn't bother me at all while I was out in California, even though I spent each and every day walking for hours in flip flops.  But when I came back, it began to ache again.  I guess the only conclusion you can draw here is if I ever want to run again I'm going to have to MOVE TO CALIFORNIA.  Right?!

For the past several weeks, I've eased back into running though.  Mostly doing run/walk intervals, where I run a mile, walk a mile, for 4 miles.  But recently, I've progressed to 3 to 4 full running miles.  The problem area bothers me much less on the treadmill.  I think the hills in my neighborhood are partially to blame for aggravating the hamstring.  But I miss running too much.  Even just a few short miles once or twice a week is making me happy right now.  If it becomes terribly bothersome again I'll back off but for now I'll take what I can get. 

Throughout all of this I've maintained my workout schedule, simply swapping my run days for walks.  I'm also trying to focus more on strength training, which I'm hoping will address any underlying muscle imbalances which may have led to this.  So here's what my weekly workouts look like lately:

Run or run/walk - 2x week
Strength training - 2x week
Other cardio/Class at gym - 2x week

In addition to adding more strength training in an effort to address the (unknown) cause of whatever is going on, I decided it was finally time to get some new shoes!

The Hokas I had been wearing just turned a year old, which is WAY too old for running shoes.  I had planned to get a new pair in the spring, right after my half marathon, but then I started saving money for my trip instead, and then after that, came down with this leg injury.  So I've been running on old shoes which is just no bueno.  I've been waiting for the running store to have some kind of sale since the Vomeros and Hokas I usually wear are close to $150.  That hasn't happened but as fate would have it, I recently got an email from Nike about their clearance sale on past season running shoes.

Last season's Pegasus was on there.  The Pegasus is the running shoe I wore in high school (TWENTY years ago!) and it's also one of the most iconic running shoes on the market.  It was introduced in the early 1980's and has been around ever since, now currently in it's 32nd iteration!  It's been a trusty trainer among long distance runners for decades. 

I upgraded to the Pegasus's cushier (ie. pricier) cousin, the Vomero, many years ago and haven't looked back.  But I needed new shoes and couldn't pass up the clearance price on these.  Original price is $100, and they're currently on sale at for $65, plus I had a coupon (from that brought the price down to $55 plus free shipping!  Best price I've ever gotten for running shoes.  Just thought I'd pass that along for anyone else that runs in Pegasus.  Go get them now!

They're so pretty!

So what do I think of them?  I LOVE THEM!  I ordered the size I normally wear in Nike's (6.5) and they fit perfectly right out of the box.  There was no break-in period.  I took them out for a run and had 0 issues.  No rubbing, no blisters, no hot spots.  I've tried MANY, many brands of running shoes over the years, and none of them ever fit me like Nike's.  We all have our preferences, but these have worked for me for years. 

The Pegasus's are cut a bit narrower than the Vomero's in the toe box, but I had no issues with this.  I can tell they have less cushioning than the Vomero's, particularly in the forefoot, however, they ran so smoothly and the feel was similar, if less plush. 

Night Running.  Because it gets dark so DARN EARLY now :(


All in all, I'm ecstatic I have new shoes and that I found these at that price!  Since I'm not running high mileage right now, I feel the cushioning is quite adequate.  I know many distance runners wear Pegasus and put tons of miles on them so I think I'm safe with my current 7 miles per week!  When I'm able to run more, I plan to get another pair of Hokas or Vomeros to alternate with these. 

Sooooooooooooooo, that's where running and I are at right now.  We are in a committed lifelong relationship so I'm not too worried that we're currently experiencing a bit of distance. I know we'll be all over each other again soon. HAHA  Also, wearing these shoes makes me feel like I'm 14 again, and that's a good feeling!

(*Obviously, I wouldn't recommend most people order running shoes online!  Only do this if it's a shoe you've worn before and/or been fitted for at a running shop!)

What's the current status of your relationship with running?

What other workouts are you into lately?

What shoes are you running in right now?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thinking Out Loud #2 (and I've Been Published!)

Oh Hiiiiiiiiiiii!  Two posts in two days this week?  Lucky lucky you.  Or maybe not.  This is going to be a whole bunch of random rambling!  So many things on my mind.

So, I'm linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons for my 2nd Thinking Out Loud post today.  Let's commence.

1.  If you have a moment, check out my VERY FIRST EVER PUBLISHED ARTICLE over on!  And please share it with every single human you know! HA  Of course I'm incredibly excited to finally be published somewhere (I was literally on cloud 9 yesterday when this went live!), but even more than that, the content of what I wrote about is something I'm incredibly passionate about.  The US trails all other developed nations in our support for families and young children and something needs to change.  This should not be happening in one of the richest nations on earth.  If you're so inclined, check it out and spread the word.  And hopefully you can catch the incredibly well done documentary on your local PBS station this month (check out for more info).  And hey, I'm now one step closer to my dream of becoming a REAL LIVE WRITER!  In the words of the one and only Jerry Seinfeld, the wheels are in motion, my friends.

2.  In regards to #1 up there, I think I forgot to share on here that I'm an editor at Nanny Magazine!  I've been doing it for a few months now (virtually) and really enjoying it.  More wheels, more motion.

3.  I was home this past weekend for my nephew's Christening and had the chance to reconnect with so many friends and family members.  I spent some time visiting with my grandparents who gave me some concord grapes from their grapevine, which were SO sweet this year!  Then, I spent a couple hours helping my aunt weed her garden.  I know nothing about gardening so I pulled a few plants up by mistake but she didn't seem to mind :)  I visited my friend the night before she ran her very FIRST half marathon ever!  I had planned to be at the finish line the next morning but the time coincided with the Christening so I gave her a pep talk the night before.  I'm happy to report she finished!!!  I also got to reconnect with another friend who I hadn't seen in ages and was missing so much.  Andddddd I got to see a bunch of my favorite little people too (some in their Halloween costumes)!

4.  Also, my sister in ATL sent me this pic of my niece in her Halloween costume and I've been looking at it at least 3x/day since she sent it to me!  I can't handle it.

5.  I tried this Larabar flavor last week.  Sadly, I would not recommend.  Super dry and I couldn't even taste the coconut in it?!

If you're looking for a really good vegan chocolate coconut bar, I'd recommend the Chocolate Coconut Bliss from Raw Revolution.  They're my favorite:

6.  Started this post on a positive note and ending on one too.  I saw both of these graphics on social media recently and absolutely loved the words.  I hope one day goodness and kindness rule the earth.  Is that too much to ask?

Go be the change you wish to see in the world, good people.  Happy Thursday!

If you read my article, what do you think about the state of family and early childhood support in the US?

What were the best Halloween costumes you saw over the weekend?

Have you seen any inspiring images online lately, as opposed to the bad news that usually inundates our feed?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Co-washing: What It Is and Why I Do It!

Good morning!  Today we're going to talk about something I have a complete over-abundance of.  I'll give you one guess:

Child-like humor?  Yes, but also,


I am not a beauty blogger and you will rarely/never catch me sharing makeup tips or the latest nail trends, however, having lived with a giant POOF on my head for most of my life, I feel at least mildly equipped to share some knowledge I've acquired over the years in that realm.

I think you know by now I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to hair/makeup/etc so I'm especially interested in tips that allow me to streamline my already bare bones routine even more, or utilize more natural products.  That's what got me interested in the co-washing or 'no-poo' movement a couple years ago.

I'm guessing most of you have probably heard of this hair care phenomenon, but for those that don't, the terms refer to washing with just conditioner (co-washing) and therefore using no shampoo (no-poo).  The idea is that modern day shampoos are just too harsh on both the hair and scalp and contain harmful ingredients.  Using conditioner only is supposed to more gentle, natural, and be healthier for your hair.  Check out this article for a good starting/reference point.

My hair is incredibly long and thick and has been this way for as long as I can remember.  And for my entire life I always subscribed to the age-old hair care adage of "lather, rinse, (repeat)"; washing, conditioning and drying my hair each and every day.  It was time consuming and a ton of work!  But I just thought this is what you do with hair.  You wash it every day, right?

In fact, up until a few years ago, I did this every morning before work.  Which required me to get up extra early and meant I left the house (even in the dead of winter!) with a soaking wet head.  I finally realized I could do this at night at the suggestion of my sister, who is a busy mom of 3, and routine night-showerer.  Side note: I love night showering now!  I rarely morning-shower any more.  I'm a convert.

But back to the business at hand, co-washing.  The more I read about co-washing, the more I liked both the time saving and hair-health benefits of it.  So I decided to try it and I've been doing it for about 2 years now! 

There are many different approaches to co-washing, but the basis is that you wash with either regular conditioners only, or the newer 'cleansing conditioners' that are now on the market because of this movement.  I have used both and still do, mixing them up throughout the week. 

This is the cleansing conditioner I use:

It's made by Herbal Essences and is cheap, and works well for me.  There are a lot of more expensive options out there in the newly developed cleansing conditioner line but if you're on a budget, I'd start here. 

For conditioners, I also use whatever's cheapest.  You can use your regular conditioner/whatever you have on hand.  I actually really love VO5 conditioners, which you can find at any pharmacy or dollar store for less than $1!  They are super conditioning, not greasy, and contain no parabens.  They've also been around since the 1980s.  You can't go wrong here!

Ok so, so far co-washing is cheap and saves time, but does it actually work?!

I am a believer and a convert.  I can't believe up until a few years ago, I was washing my hair every day.  It's not like I'm working outside wrestling pigs in mud all day.  I'm not sure why I thought my hair was so dirty! HA

I not a complete 'no-pooer' as I still shampoo 3 days/week, but I alternate those days with 2-3 days of co-washing, and 1-2 of no washing at all.  I am hoping to reduce my shampooing days even further to 1-2 times/week. 

I don't know if co-washing will work for all hair types but for thick, curly hair, I think it's ideal.  My hair is already prone to dryness and frizz so over-shampooing only exacerbates those conditions.  If you have really fine/thin hair, you probably need to shampoo more often but it can't hurt to give it a try!

Here's my hair with no retouching and no added products a morning after I co-washed.  (I put gel in it while it's wet right out of the shower at night.)  I slept on it and when I woke up this is exactly how it looked!  Zero effort required at this point to get me out the door.  It is so much more manageable and soft the days when I co-wash as opposed to the days I shampoo.  (Shampoo days now make me feel like my hair is too 'fluffy'.)

I've seen bloggers/writers do no-poo challenges (like this one), and I'd encourage you to give it a try! I'll never go back to shampooing every day.  Unless I become a pig wrestler. 

How often do you shampoo?

Ever hear of the co-washing or no-poo movement?

Have you tried it?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's My New Favorite Holiday!

Never heard of this holiday?  Me either, until just a few days ago.  And I LOVE it!  You can read more about why the holiday was founded here.  The holiday is a way to bring awareness to a great cause, ie. encouraging people to adopt shelter cats, millions of whom will be euthanized each year. 
I couldn't imagine my life without my cats, who I adopted from a shelter 11 (yes ELEVEN!) years ago when I moved to Baltimore.  I knew nothing about cats and didn't think I was a 'cat person', but at the persuasion of one of my very best friends, dove in headfirst and adopted not one, but TWO, kittens!  What can I say, I like to go all in.  I treat my boys like the VIPs they are every day, but I will be sure to give them some extra treats and snuggles tonight for being the loving little souls they are.


We like retro electronics around here

Sneaker fanatic just like his mom

We all drink green smoothies in this house

I've also written them this lovely poem:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I just stepped in your vomit,
But I still love you!
I'm not a historian, but I know many creative, intelligent writers, inventors, and history-makers were cat people, so I think we owe some gratitude to their species.  And also, where would our society be today without the constant influx of funny cat videos and memes?  Internet cat videos are universal and bring people from all over the world together!  Therefore, More Cats = World Peace!
So what are you waiting for?  Go hug your cat.  If you don't have a cat, go hug your friend's cat.  If you have no friends that have a cat, I think it's time someone in your social circle GOT A CAT.  And that's my PSA for today.  Cats want only to sit on your lap, sleep on your head, be fed and loved.  There's really no purer motives than those.  I hope you all get to experience the love of at least one cat in your lifetime.
I'm linking up with MamaKat today for her Writing Workshop.  Today's prompt:
October 29th is National Cat Day.  Write a poem about your cat.

Do you have a cat?
Know anyone who has a cat?
Enjoy funny internet cats on a daily/weekly basis?
If you answered No to Questions 1 and 2 but Yes to number 3, I think it's time you got yourself a cat :)