40 Lessons in 40 Years…….

Last week I turned 40.

4. 0.

I think I’m still kind of in shock, but here we are.

So I decided to make a list of 40 things I’ve learned in this 40 years of life.

And I’m a bit embarrassed that it took me almost a month to compile the list.

But I finally finished.

So if you’d like to glean wisdom from a 40-year-old childless housewife, read on. 😀

40 lessons I’ve learned in 40 years:

1. You will eventually be content with your decision not to have kids.

2. Naps spark joy and may become your most favorite time of the day

3. There is no need to buy a makeup remover unless you are going on vacation and can’t take a whole jug of olive oil with you or you are allergic to olive oil. Cheapest makeup remover on the market.
(EDIT: Apparently waterproof mascara doesn’t come off with olive oil as well as other commercial brands. So, 3A would be, only wear waterproof mascara for very special occasions.)

4. Make sure you have separate jugs of olive oil–one for cooking, one for skincare.

5. Call your grandparents at least once a month or once a week.

6. Butter is always better.

7. Don’t freak out if your wedding night sex/first time sex isn’t that great. You have your entire marriage/relationship to work on that aspect of your relationship
and honestly, figure out what works for you and your partner and, I know it’s hard, but not comparing yourself to other couples is key to being content.

8.Your SAT score is just a number and doesn’t determine your worth as a person nor
how successful you’ll be in life.

9. Take care of your body, but don’t be afraid of growing older. The first
gray hair I got when I was 30 was devastating, but I’ve since learned to embrace it
and call my gray hairs “unicorn strands.” I’m now looking forward to turning into a majestic unicorn.

10. If you ever accidentally get drunk, NEVER drink and drive of course, but also never get on social media. If you think you might, make sure you have a sober buddy to watch and make sure you don’t make that mistake. (Please drink responsibly and only after turning 21 😉 ).

11. Never date someone you don’t like because you don’t want to hurt their feelings by rejecting them.

12. No is a complete sentence.

13. Those lists of “rules” to follow in fashion after a certain age are bullshit.
Wear what makes you feel beautiful and confident.

14. Only have children (by birth, adoption or fostering) if you want them. You don’t have to have children to live a fulfilling, rich life.

15. Wear sunscreen every time you go outside.

16. Pair the sunscreen with sun glasses.

17. Begin monthly breast exams early (preferably in high school) so you can know what your breasts feel like and you can more easily identify potential issues.

18. Pray for the President daily, no matter who he/she is, or what party they come from.
Praying for our leaders is a biblical tenet and shouldn’t be dismissed.

19. There is freedom in doing things that scare you. (Although I need to point out that, although there might be freedom in it, I still don’t have a desire to skydive, go on a roller coaster or repel off a tall building. 😛 )

20. Its OK to have the courage to decide for yourself through study and research what you believe, what are your morals, and what you will stand up for, independent from your parents.

21. If you are in therapy and are not comfortable or happy with your therapist, switch.
Therapists are not one sized fits all and it’s important to find someone you are comfortable with.

22. Embrace you curves. After a certain age, everyone will have rolls and cellulite. True story: the other day I was wearing a new shirt that I purchased online and it’s slightly smaller than I thought so even though I probably looked like a busted can of biscuits. I still wore it out because I love it so much.

23. Never allow anyone to steal your sparkle.

24. You’ll finally understand what that translucent yellow pill was that your parents took every morning: Fish oil.

25. When asking someone out on a date, literally use the words, “Do you want to go out on a date with me?” This will make your intentions clear and both parties will be on the same page. (Maybe it can be your brave thing you do that day. 😉 )

26. Before you post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter ask yourself, “Will this come back to bite me in the bum in 10 years?” If the answer is yes, don’t do it.

27. If you see two memes for colonoscopies in a 24-hour period, God is probably trying
to tell you something.

28. You truly are your own worst critic. (Yes, I’m 28 items in and am getting trite, but this one is actually quite true.)

29. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Acknowledge them and move forward. Once you know better, be better.

30. Don’t be afraid to question things you don’t understand.

31. When traveling on an airplane, always pack your medicine, pair of underwear and any other important medical supplies in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage gets lost or there is an overnight delay.

32. Be humble enough to apologize to children of any age when you’ve wronged them in some way. 

33. Lists will save your life.

34. Take occasional breaks from social media. It can be quite refreshing. (Ok, at this point my list has somehow turned into some sort of intervention. 😛 )

35. Reward yourself for tiny tasks with a TV show, YouTube video or snack.
Did the dishes? Watch an episode or two of FRIENDS. With a bowl of ice cream. (Or whatever you think is a good treat.)

36. Don’t rely on one source for all your news. Consume at least two or three sources to get the full story.

37. Be open-minded enough to realize you aren’t always going to be right.

38. When you apologize, be sincere.

39. Before you go on vacation, do some cleaning around the house. My mom used to do this when I was a kid and I never understood why because it’s not like we’d be home to  enjoy the cleanliness. But as an adult, the few times I’ve done this, I finally understand. It feels SO good to come home from vacation to a clean house or at least a clean living room.

40. When you discover  a toxic person in your circle, do not be afraid to distance yourself from that person. Your mental and emotional health will thank you.

Cheers!

 

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Good Luck…..

This took me several weeks to upload because I wanted to be sure I was taking the right angle by getting the real story. As accurate as possible. Also our professional life took a pivot around the same time as I started writing this, and I found myself with zero time to blog.

So although this particular story may be a bit outdated, the topic of mental illness never is.

With that said, here we go:

Last month Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, abruptly announced his retirement from the sport.

And some Colts fans lost their minds. Luck was actually booed off the field after a preseason game as word spread of his impending announcement.

And that really pisses me off.

Some theorize that there was booing because the commentators made the announcement prior to Luck’s official statement slated for after the game. So the booing could have been directed at them.

While others theorize that fans were angry that he chose to no longer be on the team and that will hurt the Colts and put them further away from the Superbowl this year. Or that the Colts had done him dirty by never letting him have adequate coverage.

The facts appear to be that Luck has been so injured in the last few seasons that it was starting to affect his mental health. And so he made the choice, instead of earning millions of dollars playing football, to retire and spend time with his family and let his body truly heal.

The issue of mental health is not something that is regularly discussed in the arena of professional sports. The emphasis is mostly on one’s physical health and the ability to win games. So the thought that Luck is retiring to focus on his mental health is groundbreaking.

And I’m here for it.

For the first time that I can remember, and I may be forgetting a few instances, a professional athlete is walking away from the sport and job they love to concentrate in part on their mental health. Although it’s entirely possible that reason has been buried under the guise of, “stepping back from my career to spend more time with my family.”

And it’s sad that the real reason is hidden due to the stigma mental illness still has in our society.

But I get it because talking about mental illness isn’t fun. It’s messy and awkward and uncomfortable. I know because I’ve been living with mental illness since high school. And with anything in life, there are highs and lows.

At one point recently when I was between jobs, I experienced a mental breakdown so severe that at one point I had to be monitored for 24 hours. And I’m not a high profile person, so I can’t begin to imagine the amount of pressure and stress Luck was under.

And making the choice to quit the sport and job that you love is bad enough, but when it’s met with boos and criticism, that makes things even harder. And can actually have the opposite effect of pushing the person further down the spiral of mental illness to the point where they want to end their life.

Because they aren’t meeting up with others expectations.

And that can make some people spiral back down to the pit of depression and suicidal thoughts.

So maybe instead of booing Luck off the field, we all need to stand up and applaud. Applaud his decision to forgo millions of dollars to work on his mental and physical health. Applaud his decision to focus more time on his family. 

And wish him good luck. 

Cheers!

LAFF: Things I’m Loving in 2019….

I love reading “favorite things” lists on the internet because I love to discover new products, music, and food. So today I’m writing my own. Enjoy! 

  1. Internet Things-Pets with captions. Specifically Tucker Budzyn-a 1 year old Golden Retriever.
    I’ve never met this dog, I don’t know him personally, but let me just tell you–this dog makes me smile every day. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook @TuckerBudzyn. Also, I recommend this video of his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjFAx5jPFN0
  2. Internet Things #2-Philip Defranco-I’ve been watching this channel on Youtube for about 3 years and I really enjoy it. It’s a news channel that gives you a 15-20 minute show every day on news topics from the US and globally. The main reason I enjoy this show is that it’s heavily researched and it’s independent and not beholding to anything. There are times I agree with what he says, and times I disagree.
  3. Internet Things #3-Lavender and Lemons Shoppe-Full disclosure? This Facebook page and blog is run by a friend of mine since college and focuses on disability, advocacy and health related content. And unlike other much larger platforms who don’t pay their writers, L&L seeks submissions and pays a small amount when they are able to. If you’d like to contribute to help fund writers, go to this link: https://lavenderlemonsshoppe.wordpress.com/?fbclid=IwAR0I6rWyHgPKZy5QW6_04VH99m_PCEw8M39XN5zeApPzRu0Mtr0cR81L9WA
  4. Tillamook Mint Chocolate Chip Ice CreamI’m a lover of anything mint chocolate chip. The reasons I love this particular brand of ice cream is that first of all, there is no artificial dye in the ice cream itself. Unlike most other brands of MCC, this brands ice cream is white, not green. It still packs a delicious minty flavor without the dye. Also, the container comes pre-sealed so you can be assured that your ice cream does not come pre-licked by anyone trying to gain clout on the internet. (Dear Jesus, what have we become?? 😛 )
  5. My Favorite Human-My husband. (To be fair, he’s been my favorite human since 2008)
    This summer my husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We’ve technically been together for over 11 years. We have seen each other through job losses, property moves, grandparent deaths, many many miles spend on the road and we still like each other. He’s super great and I believe that everyone needs a Chad in their life.

    me-laura-valentine

  6. Favorite Politician-………………………………………(Yep. I’m sick of all of them and wish we could scrap them all and start over. Blech)
  7. Favorite Morning Devotional AppOur Daily Bread. I read these in booklet form starting in college and they were just long enough to keep my ADD attention span. In the era of smartphones, you can download their app in the Google Play Store (or whatever the iphone equivalent is) so you have a daily devotional delivered to your phone every morning.
  8. Favorite Ringtone-On a related note, when I procured this phone, I went in and looked at my ringtone options on ZEDGE. One of the artists that I plugged into ZEDGE’S search bar was Rich Mullins-the late contemporary christian artist. And I found a song by him-The Love of God. Then I put this as my ringtone. Now every time I hear my phone ring, I hear this song and it reminds me of how much Jesus loves me. I’ve also noticed I’m calmer in my everyday life since I’ve made this change.
  9. Favorite Music-Anything by Taylor Swift (Yes, I’m almost 40. Just let me have this, Ok, Linda? 😛 ) I am currently obsessed with Taylor Swift’s Lover Album (which dropped yesterday) and I’m listening to it as I write this. This album is not only Swift’s latest project, but marks the 1st album where she actually owns all the songs. #GirlPower
  10. Blueberry cobbler-Chad and I are at the age where having normal blood pressure levels is a good thing. We discovered that berries help to lower high blood pressure and have gotten into eating frozen blueberries. Tonight I put them into a cobbler. If you need the recipe, you can refer to it here, swap out the peaches for blueberries and omit the cinnamon. 

#CommunityForCODA

**If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation and needs help, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or The Council on Domestic Abuse (CODA) at: 800-566-CODA (2632)

All calls can remain anonymous.

I’m not even sure how to start this one, so I’ll just make it simple: The domestic violence shelter in our town needs your help. Due to a lack of available funding, The Council On Domestic Abuse (CODA) residential home will close September 14th unless $150K is raised to cover funds. And because of the financial crunch, 8 staff members will be let go from their jobs this Friday, August 23. 

This is a devastating blow to our small town, a place where many already live on or below the poverty line. Without a shelter for domestic violence survivors and their children, those living on or below the poverty line are left especially vulnerable.

But you can help.

CODA has set up online donations to try and raise enough money by September 14th to keep the residential facility open. You can donate funds here.

If you are not able to donate, you can still help by calling and emailing Indiana Congressman Larry Buschon’s office to ask what he plans to do to address CODA funding. 

Congressman Buschon’s office: (812) 232-0523

Email: https://bucshon.house.gov  (Click the “contact” button on the page)

Thanks! 

LAFF: Lulabelle’s Guide to Surviving Your First Mammogram…….

**Please note that most of these tips are written for humorous purposes and shouldn’t be taken seriously. To be honest, I’m being overly dramatic and having a mammogram is not all that bad.

One legit tip I can give you is if you are worried about pain, take some tylenol before your appointment.

Also, for some reason they want you to avoid using deodorant or any powder products under your arms on the day of your appointment.

My 3rd tip is to try and schedule your appt for a time where you know your breasts will not be tender due to your cycle. This will most likely cut down on your uncomfortableness with the mammogram process.

My last legit time would be to not wear a bra or wear a soft sports bra to your appt. Your breasts will be a little sore afterwards and an underwire bra could make things a bit more uncomfortable. 

Ok, on to my ridiculous tips. 😛


Guys, I’m getting old.

Specifically I’m around the age that a yearly mammogram is recommended. After thinking I felt something a few weeks ago (doctor didn’t feel anything on the follow up exam) I decided to schedule a mammogram just in case because I’m about to be 40 in a few months and at least once in my life I want to be on time or early for something.

My mammogram was today and I lived through it. As nervous as I was about it, I decided to make a guide to getting through it.

1. Don’t worry about the pain and discomfort. Honestly on a scale of 1 to getting hit in the face with a brick, it’s really not that bad. You’ll be fine.

2. You’ll be shocked and amazed at the way your breast can contort into about 50 different shapes during your mammogram. Those cirque du origami boobs are yours and you should be quite proud of their feats of stretch and foldiness.

3. It’s a good idea to take with you a small spatula because inevitably one of your boobs will become adhered to the imaging surface (especially if you have it done on one of the hottest days of the year like I did, where even in the air conditioning you can feel the heat). And no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to get it elegantly lifted off the tiny table with just your hands. 

The imaging tech tugged so hard, my left boob almost flew up off the imaging surface and hit me in the face. Next time I’m putting a small spatula in my purse. Just in case.

4. Have an uncomfortable anecdote ready to share with the imaging tech as payback for squishing your boobs flat as pancakes. I decided to go with the story of how Chad’s great grandma was treated for breast cancer in the 1920’s with acid.

It definitely got the desired result and made me feel like we were now even. 

I hope these tips helps you prepare for your first or next mammogram. 

Happy weekend, y’all! 😀

 

 

LAFF: Linoleum Chicken and Broken Tailgates………..

For this week’s LAFF I almost told the story about how the other day when I was deciding what to have for dinner, I opened the freezer and a box of fried chicken jumped off the freezer shelf and landed on the floor with such force that the box split open and the chicken flew out and landed on the floor.

I definitely DID NOT eat it for dinner later.

*Because my mother raised me better than that. 😉

So instead of that story, I’m going to tell you a story about my wheelchair. This is actually part 1 of a 3ish part series on my journey to get another wheelchair.

Enjoy!

This year my manual wheelchair turns 13 years old.

In cat years that is about 63ish. In wheelchair years that is at least 103 and honestly, she sounds like it.

Old Blue, as I like to refer to her, came to be mine after the tragic loss of my old wheelchair.

I say tragic because I lost her in a freak traffic accident, but it’s not what you think.

When I lived in Louisville about 13 years ago, I was using the same chair I had since Jr. High.  I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Back in my 20’s I was still walking with crutches and a walker on a regular basis, so my manual chair didn’t get as much use.  But I did use it to go on errands like grocery shopping.

On this particular day, I asked a neighbor to take me as the store was just up the road a few miles. Her only vehicle was a pickup truck. I didn’t think much of it as she hoisted my chair into the truck and we were on our way.

When we arrived at the store, we got out of the truck and walked to the back to discover my chair was GONE.

How in the world??

Aliens?

The Rapture??

Nope. Turns out that living on the bottom of a hill and putting your chair into a pick up truck with a broken tailgate is a pretty solidly bad idea.

We immediately retraced our steps and the funny thing was, the chair was NO. WHERE. TO. BE. FOUND.

It’s very strange and unnerving to lose a piece of you that’s not exactly your body, but at the same time it feels like you broke your legs. And it’s an unfortunate way to learn to not put your wheelchair in a pick up truck with a broken tailgate.

So long story short, I was fortunate enough to be able, after several weeks, to start the process of getting a new chair-at no cost to me. 

And we’ve been through so many adventures together.

I met the love of my life while in this chair.  

She was my “something blue” at my wedding.

We saw a total solar eclipse together. 

I’ve held all my nieces and nephews while sitting in this chair. 

It’s been quite a journey with this chair, but I’m so excited for this next chapter. 

Stay tuned! 

Flying wedding
One of our favorite wedding photos featuring my something blue 🙂

*I guess in this instance, do as I say, not as I do?? 😛

Dear Gov. Ivey………..

Congratulations! Because of you, people from both sides of the aisle are coming together…in criticism of the new anti abortion bill you signed into law this week.

You gotta admit, you have to know you’ve done F’ed up when both Tomi Lahren AND Pat Robertson come out against your policy.

Abortion in and of itself is controversial, but when you unequivocally ignore cases of unwanted pregnancy that happen through rape or incest, you manage to re-traumatize victims in the name of saving a life. Trauma that already leads to depression, anxiety and increased rates of suicide

And while I am pleased that there is an exception when the life of the mother is in danger, I think it’s a good idea to point out that I’ve made the conscious choice to not become pregnant because as a **disabled woman, pregnancy would be harder on my body and I’m terrified of the potential complications that could physically harm or end my life.

But I made that choice. And I can control whether or not to change my mind on that.

Unless I am raped. And live in Alabama. 

So this law really pisses me off.

It further frustrates me when we talk about this law and women like myself are told to “get our tubes tied” if we don’t want to get pregnant by rape.

So instead of, I don’t know, maybe telling men not to become rapists and increasing the punishments for those convicted, we are telling would-be rape victims to prevent getting pregnant by first getting their tubes tied.

Alabama is also set to punish physicians who perform these procedures by giving them sentences that are far greater than the rapists who put their female victims in the position to need an abortion. 

Neat. 

“But Laura, what about that clause about the health of the mother?” 

Well…….

I don’t trust the government to make a logical determination of the risks to my life when at the same time, as a disabled woman, I’ve needed a brand new wheelchair and the “options” available to me (through the government healthcare system we have) returned with a substandard product that would have further disabled my body (stay tuned for my 3-part wheelchair buying experience coming soon 😉 ).

In this case, it should be medical professionals and medical professionals only (one chosen by the women in crisis) who are tasked with determining what is the best course of action for their patient.

Abortion is horrible. But what is worse is taking away the choice of a woman in crisis. 

Full stop. 

**I speak only for myself as a disabled woman, and my views do not necessarily represent the entire disabled community.