LIFE LATELY

It has been a whirlwind the last couple weeks around here.

It all started two weeks ago when I decided to go tour a new place in Northeast, Minneapolis. It’s technically more Saint Anthony East but also in the new’ish NE area that people think of when you say NE. It is a new high-rise building which is something I have always wanted to live in for some reason. So I randomly decided to go tour it and of course, I fell in LOVE. I saw lots of floor plans and was hoping one floor plan would speak to me clearly so I wouldn’t have to make a decision, and literally ONLY ONE did! YES! It’s a studio but has a good spacious layout, huge closet, washer/dryer, and the view of a lifetime. I can see a panoramic view of Minneapolis from my window. It’s amazing. The building has ALL the amenities you could ever need too. I opted for the middle of the building. I felt a tad woozy when I went and toured a unit towards the top. They told me you can definitely feel the wind/swaying/movement up there, even on the 5th floor they have felt it! YIKES. I put in an app right then & there and was approved the following week. I had less than a month to get my current place rented out, sell almost all my belongings to fit in a studio, purchase new smaller items and pack everything. I am a major organizer if you don’t know that about me already. So I, of course, made spreadsheets on spreadsheets to keep track of all of this and plan out how I am going to get it all done. If anyone could do this insane plan, it was me. I thrive in stressful, busy situations. I am a multitasker by nature and I get these visions and can just run with them. I planned to start with a massive purge of my current place, then start selling items/purchasing new smaller ones and finally pack the last 1.5 weeks. I love purging so that was not hard for me – I always feel great when I whittle down my “stuff” and my goal is to live a more minimalistic lifestyle anyway. My sister Jessie usually benefits from these purges the most, especially in the clothes department. I have completed the purge, sold a TON of items (like all I have left is my bed, furniture wise), purchased all my new items and just have packing left which I am starting this weekend. I have been really happy in my GEM in Uptown for 5 years but it is time to move on. I feel like I’ve outgrown the people, neighborhood, and vibe there. I am looking forward to a new adventure in a new neighborhood. I am all about embracing change and those who know me, know that I am not afraid to make some drastic changes! The river is 2 blocks away, so many restaurants & stores right below me, the beautiful Stone Arch bridge is right there, and I am still super close to Downtown. The commute is surprisingly the exact amount of miles to my new job in St. Paul as it was from my Uptown place. I will for sure take some pics once I am moved in and do a post about it all.

I also started my new job and have been in the newness phase of that every day. I have caught on quickly and feel caught up & comfortable with all the new systems by now. This has been a breath of fresh air for me. I absolutely love going to work every day and everything I do comes naturally to me so it doesn’t even feel like work to me. I love the silence of working by myself. I am a true introvert and could seriously survive on an island alone. My new role is really unique because I am the only one of my kind. I don’t necessarily have a team or anyone else to compare things to. But I LOVE that and I THRIVE in roles like that. I am self-sufficient and take initiative on my own. My new role is super flexible too which is so nice. I have not once gotten the Sunday scaries @ the new job, which is awesome. The company itself is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. People truly and genuinely LOVE working there. It’s really awesome to be surrounded by positive people who believe in the same things. I am trusted in my position and I have the freedom to do what I think is best. That’s something that was lacking in my teaching position.

On the flip side of starting the new job, I officially separated from my teaching job too! EEEEKKK. I turned in the paperwork and notified my principal and staff. It was bittersweet, to say the least. I teared up a couple of times because it is really an emotional, bittersweet thing for me. I have deep ties to teaching and how it’s affected my life the last decade. I have not once regretted my decision though and know that I can always work with children in the future.

Finally, I had my big “one year mark” doctor appointment to check in on my cervix. I surprisingly only got anxious a few days before the appointment. I have come leaps and bounds since last year on this. I really have the mentality right now “it is what it is and God has a plan for me”. I had a glimmer of hope that things would check out normal and this nightmare would be over. I didn’t even have a bad gut intuition feeling, which I usually do, so I thought that meant it was going to be good news. Long story short, it was NOT good news. But also not completely horrible news either. It’s not over as I had hoped. I have to move forward with another colposcopy and biopsies in September. If those biopsies come back clean then I would be in the clear until next summer. If those biopsies show any kind of CIN, then I get another LEEP surgery, which would SUCK. We are also hoping that if there is anything visible that it has continued to stay OUTSIDE of my cervix and not creep inward as that would not be good and would need a different treatment approach. They have agreed to give me Valium before this next appointment and also lidocaine which worked so well for my LEEP last year. I was sad for sure the day I got the call on this. I felt really defeated. But ultimately I know I will be okay. It sucks, it really does, but it could be worse. I will survive and each time I go through something like this I am one step closer to getting this nasty stuff out of my body. I have hope that when they do the biopsies they come back clean and show that my body is producing good healthy cancer-free cells. As of now, we have the appointment scheduled for mid-September. My doctor is going on vacay and she felt comfortable waiting for that amount of time. I value her opinion and really do trust her judgment with this all so it was important to me to have her perform everything again.

So between all of those things and trying to have any other type of personal life, I have barely had any downtime but it’s okay. I am REALLY excited about my new job & moving. I know when I get settled in there in a couple of weeks it will all be worth it. All of these changes feel so right in my heart & soul and I really do believe the best is yet to come! Thank you all for your continued support of all my life changes.

A DECADE TO REMEMBER

A blurb from my latest IG post: “August ‘09 … I stepped into a school in North Minneapolis that would forever touch my heart & soul. It would make me who I am today. I was freshly 21 & determined to make an impact. I spent the next ten years doing some of the hardest work there is in this world. My time with MPS has been eye opening, rewarding & straight up challenging at times. I will never ever forget the students I was blessed to teach & the families I connected with. It’s been quite the journey filled with ups & downs but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am a better person for my time spent as a teacher. I truly believe that. These kids thought they needed me, when in reality I needed them just as much, if not more. But all good things must come to an end, only to make room for NEW GOOD THINGS!

This August I will not be stepping back into the classroom. I am ready to push myself out of my comfort zone. Nothing is meant to be forever and I am able to smile and appreciate my time as a teacher. I have started a brand new adventure as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a MN Credit Union. The decision to make this transition was definitely not taken lightly. Over the last few YEARS I have found myself feeling burnt out in the education world and longing for something different. Any teachers reading this can probably attest to the fact that teaching literally sucks the life out of you. I have tried switching grade levels, schools, areas of the district, and even roles, only to come to the same conclusion: teaching is not fulfilling me like it used to.

That is really hard for me to say out loud and come to terms with. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was about 3 years old. I went to college for this career. I clawed my way through my first three years to get tenured in MPS. I made a name for myself and survived 7 of my 10 years in the toughest area of the city/state, North Minneapolis. I poured my soul into kids who had no one else. I went above and beyond to be there for my students. I took them to get dinner. Bought them clothes and basic need necessities. Would send home food on Fridays to the ones who wouldn’t eat over the weekend. Gave them their only Christmas presents they would receive. Hauled them to football practices and games. Raised money to furnish new apartments after they got out of the shelter. Made home visits and sat on their couches so they would see me in their home and know my love for them was real and raw. Went door knocking in debris after a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis to make sure my students were alive. Had to explain to a kindergarten student why his mom hid drugs in his cubby that day because she knew the police were raiding the house that morning. Spent countless nights crying & worrying for some of them who had such shitty situations at such young ages. Called CPS and fought for their safety when no one else would advocate for them. Endured verbal and physical abuse several times, by students as well as parents. Picked up glass on my hands and knees early before my students got there one year when my classroom windows would get smashed out every weekend. Listened to horror stories from students about what they have seen in their short lives. Consoled a student who stood by a dead body at the bus stop that morning on her way to school. Had my own car damaged in the school parking lot. Had coworkers held at gunpoint while leaving school. Lied down on the pavement out at buses as a drive by shooting took place 50 feet in front of me. Had a convicted rapist corner me in my classroom on a record keeping day. Picked up used heroin needles in my kindergarten bathroom after a weekend the building had been unlocked. Had students confide some deep dark horrible secrets to me. I’ve seen the injustices of America’s education system up close & personal. Witnessed the blatant racism that still exists in our schools & communities day in and day out. I could literally go on and on people … but one thing has remained the same despite all of those insane tales … my love for the kids. An unconditional love. An unconditional love that went BOTH ways. I honestly would not be the person I am today without my interactions with these kids. I have crossed paths with hundreds of students the last 10 years. They will never know what they did for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how I relied on them when my own life was quite literally a fucking mess. One thing I will never forget is the generosity and kindness of their little souls. They would have nothing and would somehow find a way to give. That makes me cry to even type. They were so selfless. I will miss their funny sayings, little notes and pictures, kind compliments and seeing their resilience shine every day. That was inspiring enough to keep me going.

In addition to dealing with those stories above, which really were my typical week stories, I was being pushed by district officials and school administration to be better, to do more, to learn more, to somehow change the fate of my students, to get the test scores they wanted to see, etc. It is an impossible battle. Each summer I would teach summer school and try to recharge during my TWO WEEKS off. I tried to heal my wounds I had endured the previous school year and muster up the strength and courage to go back for another year. I also had to deal with my own life. It’s a juggling act that I really don’t think is feasible nor healthy. Teaching is downright HARD. It left me feeling drained emotionally, physically and mentally every single day. Anyone who thinks it’s “easy” or glamorous needs a reality check. My schools had lead in the pipes, no AC, no heat in my room for 3 years, mold in the ventilation system and constant rodent issues. Not ideal working or learning conditions by any means. I could go on another rant about the education system & it’s socioeconomic discrimination. We’ll save that for another day. 

These battles were things that they didn’t teach me in college. I had to navigate this new world on my own. I am proud of myself for sticking with it for so long. But there comes a point when teachers need to think about their own needs first. I knew that I was at a crossroads three years ago. I either needed to get the hell out of teaching or at least switch to a different area of the district. At the time, the right thing for me was to switch schools and areas of Minneapolis. I switched to a school in South Minneapolis. The last three years have simmered down tremendously from my days over North but I still felt that void, the hole in my soul. I wondered what else was out there and what else I could do.

It’s really scary to leave everything you know and take a leap of faith into something entirely new, but an opportunity arose and I had to try. I owed myself that much. I told myself that if it was meant to be it would work out and that it did! I have previous experience from while I was in college and even high school that I know will help me in my new role. I am excited and feel refreshed. I truly feel like this is my time to shine in something new.

A new decade filled with new healthy adventures.

JULY FAVORITE FINDS

Welcome to the July edition of my favorite finds. This is basically a post I do each month with any fun finds I have purchased recently. This month is loaded with 15 awesome finds. Anything available online will be linked. Hopefully, you find something new to try! Enjoy!

#1 – Universal Threads Leopard Clutch: $14.99 at Target. This one is unfortunately not offered online at the moment, so you’ll have to go stalk your local Target to snag one. I had been seeing these all over IG and knew I had to track one down. They have a few different colors but obviously, I opted for the leopard version. It is great because it will work with brown & black outfits. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

# 2 – A New Day Black Sleeveless Dress: $14.99 at Target. I wore this when traveling to Denver and it was perfect. It is super lightweight & stretchy. Pure Comfy.

#3 – Fake Grass Plants: $13.99 for two from Amazon. This is my second set of these babies. I just love how bright & bold the green is. They are nice quality & are prefect for adding a little pop of color.

#4 – Apple Watch Band: $12.99 from Amazon. I love this watch band! It is even better looking in person. The pics definitely don’t do justice. The color is the perfect shade of brown. It has held up really well too.

#5 – Lunch Box: $22.99 from Amazon. I am obsessed with cute lunch bags! I was looking for something large enough to fit my ice pack, meal prep container and a couple water bottles. This bag literally fits all that and still has room! If you need something large/tall, this is perfect. I loved the pattern too! The brown bag pictured below with the lunch box, is also on this list!

#6 – Lanyard: $12.50 from Etsy. I was looking for a cute everyday lanyard for work. The fabric is super soft. I am sure there are other colors/styles, this was my fave though.

#7 – Neighborhood Typography City Map Print: $45 from Etsy. There are different cities, sizes and colors to choose from. I got this for Alex so I got his hometown, DC in black. I ordered the 18×24 size and then framed it myself once it came. It is super cool looking in person. Great art find!

#8 – Leopard High Waisted Swimsuit: $17.99 per piece at Target. I can’t control my impulses with anything leopard print. These were my first high waisted bottoms and bralette top. Love this style!

#9 – K Mug: on sale for $4.99 at Target. Who doesn’t love a good coffee mug. This is so my style. White, Gold & Flowers = PERFECTION. There’s one of my fake grass plants at work too! I have them everywhere, HA!

#10 – Calvin Klein Ruffle Sleeve A Line Dress: $134 at Macy’s. There is not much to say except, OBSESSED. I absolutely love this color & style. I am a pretty petite woman and I fit perfectly in a size 2.

#11 – Way Better Snacks Avocado Ranch Tortilla Chips: $3.99 at Target. THESE, my friends, are the bomb.com – They are SO tasty. I don’t even dip them in anything because they are packed with flavor already. There are a few different flavors but these are my go to’s.

#12 – Sole Society Large Winged Tote: on sale for $34.98 at Sole Society. This is my new work bag and I absolutely love it. It has so many compartments and pockets to hold all my stuff but keep it organized. I took the long cross body strap off and just use the straps attached to it.

# 13 – Rice Cakes & Almond Butter: from any grocery store but of course I get mine at Target. This is seriously my new obsession. They are SO GOOD. I have been going with the Vanilla Almond Butter lately but also like the Maple. If you are in a snack or breakfast rut, look no further!

#14 – Califia Farms Pecan Caramel Almondmilk Creamer: $4.89 at Target. I am back on the coffee train so naturally I needed to find a “clean’ish” creamer for added flavor. This is super good and not too bad for you.

#15 – Blenders Sunglasses (North Park Style): $48 at Blenders Eyewear. You may recall I featured a different color a few months ago (Rose Theater) … I really loved those and got a birthday coupon so I ordered up another pair. This is the Sahara Dust color.

CERVICAL CANCER

Many of you who follow me on social media or who are friends with me in person know bits & pieces about what’s been going on in my life the last year. A handful of people know all the details. I have not felt comfortable sharing this at all for almost an entire year. It has been extremely difficult for me to wrap my brain around and I have felt all sorts of feelings. From guilt & shame to anger & confusion. I’ve been downright sad too. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ever talk about this all, much less blog about it but lately, I have felt compelled to spread knowledge about it all. None of this is my fault and it is what it is at this point.

I think it literally has taken me this long to accept what’s going on. I have an appointment in a couple of weeks that has also been heavy on my mind & heart. I tend to process things for a super long time, internalize things and deeply analyze everything. I think with the one year mark looming over me (next week) and this upcoming appointment, my brain has started to focus on this more again and prepare for the different things that might happen at my next appointment in two weeks. I decided to post something on social media about this last week on my birthday. It was surprisingly therapeutic & freeing. I felt like my secret was out for the world to know. I didn’t feel shame but rather a huge weight lifted off me. Cancer is nothing new to me. Those of you who follow my blog and went to high school with me know what I’m talking about. There have been more kids from Tartan and Oakdale sick with cancer than I’d care to count. It’s sickening.

So here is my story to date:

July 11, 2018 … I went to my regular every three year Pap smear appointment … never have missed a gyno appointment. My last one checked out perfect when I was 27 so not a single thought in my mind was expecting something to be off. The physical exam went well and visually she said everything looked great and I was on my way. Pap results take about a week to get. Usually, they mail the results if they are normal so I knew something was up when I got a call from a nurse a week later. She told me over the phone that my pap was abnormal (which she said happens all the time) and another shocker, I tested positive for HPV. I think my jaw hit the floor. I knew very little about HPV besides that I received the vaccine when I was much younger. To me, it sounded like a super scary std. I was more concerned about this news than the abnormal pap at this point. After doing some heavy reading and research, I realized HPV is extremely popular. The CDC claims that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives. Most people won’t ever know they have it because there are not many symptoms, most people clear the infection on their own and it typically never turns into anything more. Even couples in a monogamous relationship can contract this. It doesn’t mean someone cheated either. It can lie dormant in your body for years. There are different strains and this first nurse told me I didn’t have the cancer-causing kind – at least that’s what I remember hearing … I was in a state of shock I think on the phone. So I was trying to tell myself that this would be nothing and my body would clear the infection on its own. I had to schedule a colposcopy for August 14, 2018. I was terrified. Basically, this is an in-depth Pap smear where they use iodine to stain your cervix to see abnormal cells with a colposcope. My plan was to tell them I did NOT want any unnecessary biopsies right now. I read online not everyone needs biopsies at these and I was going to suggest waiting a year and re-Pap smear test to see if I cleared it on my own and healed. I felt confident with this plan as I went into this appointment. I read a lot about doctors over biopsy’ing and I really don’t like a lot of Western medicine practices. I tried explaining this to the nurse when I got there and she told me the doctor I have is pretty aggressive and biopsies 99% of the time. Urgh. I talked to the nurse and doctor and decided I would be “open” to doing a biopsy once she had looked inside and could confirm it was necessary. I thought it can’t be that bad. I can do this.

The speculum is the same and the iodine made me feel a slight burning sensation. I get grossed out of blood and medical stuff really easily. I was trying to remain calm. She was thinking it would be CIN1, which is very low grade and nothing to worry about right now. My Pap results only picked up something slightly abnormal. The doctors started the exam and told me it looks “awful” on the outside of my cervix and she’s certain it’s CIN3 and she’s going to start biopsying … mind you I’m lying in this sterile room with someone examining my most private parts and I’m trying to process what the fuck she just said. I was so caught off guard here. Then she starts taking pieces of my cervix out … 5 biopsies in all and large ones at that. I was so mortified and almost passed out … they went running to get me a cold rag and orange juice which I dropped all over myself because I was shaking so bad. Each time she took a sample I got these absolutely insane waves of cramps that took my breath away. Add on the nauseous feeling and tears and it was a mess. I felt like I couldn’t even hear what she was saying, everything was foggy & muted. She said when we get the results from this we will know what my plan will be. She started talking about how a hysterectomy could be an option … that’s when I just started sobbing … like what in the actual fuck. My mind was not mentally prepared to hear all of this today. I was bleeding from these biopsies and dripping out coffee grind looking things that they used to cauterize it. I went home and could not function. Like for real. I was sobbing non-stop for at least 24 hours. It was BAD. Every type of thought was racing through my mind. I was sore and had cramps too. It was a really rough few days.

Sure enough, she calls me a few days later (longest wait ever) and says it was indeed extreme CIN3 and she wants to take it out immediately because a large portion of my cervix was covered in these cells. CIN3 is also referred to as stage 0 cervical cancer. If left as is and untreated it’s almost guaranteed at this stage the cells WILL invade inside the cervix and spread quickly turning into higher stages of cervical cancer that can kill you. Considering my last pap three years ago showed nothing and visually a month before at my Pap appointment nothing was spotted with the naked eye, she was really concerned that it could be aggressively multiplying.

At first I didn’t like this doctor because she was sort of sarcastic and I just don’t do well with people like that. I need more nurturing and loving people. After the colposcopy where I was sobbing she even told me in a “joking” way that I need to stop crying because I made her late for her next appointment. That rubbed me the wrong way. After having time to think about it though and discuss with my mom and some friends, I realized that I really don’t need to be her best friend or think her humor is funny. I need her to save my life. I need her to make medical decisions that help me get rid of this monster. I also spoke with her in detail on the phone one day and she blew me away with how smart she was. That’s certainly a quality you want your doctor/surgeon to have. She admitted she was aggressive in her approaches but she also boasted that she has the best survival rate out of all the doctors on her team. I trusted her at this point and felt the most comfortable proceeding with her because she knew me and my history by now. I decided to stick with her.

The plan was to have a LEEP procedure on October 3, 2018. LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. During a LEEP, a thin wire loop is used to cut out the abnormal tissue. Your cervix is then cauterized to stop any bleeding. It usually heals in 4 to 6 weeks. I had to wait about a month and a half at this point and that was REALLY hard for me. The “what ifs” constantly bombarded my thoughts. I joined some Facebook support groups so I could read about other women’s experiences. This was sometimes helpful and sometimes it made things much worse. There are some really scary things online and you have to take everything with a grain of salt. I ended up having to stop following and getting updates because it was really messing with my mind to read about this constantly. I stayed in the group though to be able to only use the “search” feature to look up certain things. The days passed slowly but surely. It was finally LEEP day.

My doctor prescribed me a Valium to take before this procedure because of how things went last time and how high my anxiety had been about this all. I woke up early and took that and got ready to tackle yet another obstacle. Alex brought me to this appointment and I am really thankful for him. I kept waiting to feel like this over the top calm from the Valium but never did. I will say I think it did work though because overall I felt more at ease. I did not have to be put out for this. They numbed it and honestly that shot hurt quite a bit and then I got that rush feeling. I decided to bring my headphones for this appointment and made a special playlist. I told them I didn’t want to talk or hear about anything until they were done. That would help me not pass out. At the biopsy, appointment she even offered to take my cell phone and take a picture of my bloody cervix for me. UM, NO. JUST NO. There was a machine hooked up with the LEEP wires. When they turned it on it was pretty loud. There happened to be a student nurse there that day. Bless her soul, she ended up holding my hand during the procedure. I turned my music up insanely loud and just sobbed the entire time. It didn’t take that long and the numbing shot really helped the pain. I would say this was MUCH BETTER than the colposcopy & biopsy procedures. She ended up taking 1/4 of my cervix out that day.

The biopsies were larger and thicker than the colposcopy ones. We would be able to see how deep it was and if my margins came back clean. If so, that would mean she got it all out. I had an appointment in another month where I would get these results. So back to the waiting game it was. If you haven’t read my Anxiety post, you should. This is about the point in time where my life went haywire. I really lost my shit and felt so fucked up from this all. I tried anxiety meds and that was horrible. I just didn’t know what to do. What to think. Who I could confide in & talk to. The physical healing was pretty rough too. It took a full 6 weeks before I felt near normal.

Over time I began healing mentally and physically. I was slowly returning to my old self. One day I got to thinking that there really is not a whole lot I can control right now with this, but I can control my diet. So I started researching the Alkaline Diet and reading about how foods can kill cancer. I went kind of balls to the walls with this for a while and then slowly backed off. I would like to go hard on this again actually. I just think we can do a lot with our diet and even our minds to create a stress-free healthy environment in our bodies where cancer can’t survive. I prefer more holistic approaches and this was something I could do on my own.

Anyway, I had my follow up with the doctor and got my results from the LEEP procedure. MY MARGINS WERE CLEAN! She confirmed that she got everything she possibly could, which was a lot. Now it was up to my body to start producing normal healthy cells again. She said this took time. I would need to wait until next July to get checked. This would ensure an accurate reading because of the amount of time. URGH. Just what I love … looming appointments and long periods of time. NOT. She checked how I was healing from the LEEP and she said it was healing the way it was supposed to. Apparently, sometimes it heals towards the outside which creates scars but mine was turning inside which was good. ALSO! It had NOT spread inside of my cervix based on the LEEP results. THANK GOD. This was really good news. I got all GOOD news. I felt REALLY blessed that things were looking up.

I went on living my life this past Spring and really trying not to obsess over this. I feel like I am at a place where I have accepted this all. I am slightly nervous for the appointment on July 23rd but I know it’s out of my hands at this point. I am praying that everything comes back normal. My doctor did tell me though, and I quote, “this is something that will haunt you the rest of your life”. She said that she sees it a lot where at the one year point maybe a woman gets a normal pap but then again in another year it’s abnormal again … it can go back and forth and will most likely be something I am always worried about and watching. Once I know the results then we can make a new game plan. It will probably be like this for a while … watch, wait, test, come up with a new plan, repeat.

Now that this news is out there for the world to see, I will be more public about updating you all on my status. Everyone’s story and journey is different with this disease. This is only my own experience and thoughts. I know there are people struggling far more than what I have dealt with. I also want to add that I’m very thankful for things throughout this journey too. I have a job with excellent health insurance so I never had to worry about that piece. I’m thankful for an amazing doctor and science. I’m also thankful that women’s preventative care is easily accessible. I’m grateful that it was at stage 0 too. Had I skipped that appointment, there’s a very good chance things would not be looking so optimistic for me. It’s good to keep it all in perspective but also cut yourself some slack. There is no right way to deal with this and navigate these waters. I ask that you don’t skip your preventative care appointments … even if you prefer a more holistic approach to things, it’s still important to know what’s going on inside of your body. If you have struggled with anything similar please reach out. I am finding it to be really therapeutic to talk to others who have been in this position. There’s something really taboo about this subject, especially hpv, and there should NOT be. I think it’s really good to start talking about this stuff with one another!

DENVER

Denver has always been on my travel bucket list. I even had a trip booked in 2016 and then rescued Mia right before I was supposed to leave. There was no way I could leave her after only having her a few days. So I canceled that trip and knew I’d get there some other time. Well that time ended up being this weekend! It was also my 31st birthday! What better way to ring in a new year than exploring a new city! I was accompanied by my main squeeze Alex as well! We booked this trip two months ago and I’ve been giddy every day! It definitely didn’t disappoint! We had a fabulous time!

Day 1 … With work schedules and Mia we couldn’t be gone long but the times of our flights made it feel like we had more than enough time there. We left early Friday morning and took a direct flight into Denver. I am usually an Airbnb gal but we opted to stay downtown at the Sheraton, which didn’t disappoint! This way we would be right in the middle of the action and wouldn’t be out in the burbs, which would ensure there was no wasted time traveling around. We originally were going to take the light rail to union station but an Uber directly to the hotel was surprisingly cheaper so we went with that to the hotel. I had made a rough outline of an itinerary but we agreed to just go with the flow but at least we had ideas of what we wanted to do/see/eat. The forecast for Friday was 96 and sunny so we switched some plans around to accommodate for a beautiful outdoor day! We dropped our luggage at the hotel because our room wasn’t quite ready and decided to just start walking around downtown.

After a quick Krispy Kreme and Starbucks stop, we strolled around the city looking at the 16th Street Mall and The Pavilions. It reminded us a lot of Nicollet mall back in Minneapolis. We did a little shopping and ate at 5280 Burger. We loved the jalapeño poppers but were less than impressed with the burgers. Super bland and nothing special. This ended up being the only place we would not recommend from our trip.

We decided to head back to the hotel and soak up some rays at the amazing hotel roof pool! We both had a crazy busy week prior to the trip so some R&R was definitely in store for us! It felt so nice to just lounge in the sunshine. I was curious as to how 97 degrees would feel in the mountains … I think it was less humid and more of a dry heat, but it felt HOT by the pool this day.

We had some downtime and got ready for dinner. We had a reservation at Corinne for dinner. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was delish. We had the best buffalo cauliflower & calamari for apps and then both had the lobster mac & cheese for our entrees. We wanted to check out 54thirty rooftop lounge after for a drink but the wait to get up there was 45minutes. We opted to just head back to the hotel because we were exhausted. The 16th Street Mall was very lively and entertaining on our walk back.

Day 2 … My 31st Birthday! We woke up bright & early because we wanted to hit the road by 8 am to get out to the red rocks ASAP. We took an Uber out there … it’s west of DT and took us about 30 min. We didn’t plan to do anything too strenuous this trip as far as hiking and/or mountain climbing! We didn’t want to spend more than half a day considering we were only there for a short weekend. We both agree that if we come back though we would tackle something longer. There’s a 1.4 mile hike on the “trading post trail” that we opted for this time. The entire red rocks amphitheater and area was breathtaking.

We were starving by now so we went back to shower quickly and then eat. We went to the Egg Shell for breakfast and it was seriously AMAZING. We both had excellent spicy Bloody’s. Alex had French toast & eggs while I had a breakfast quesadilla and tots. Everything was super fresh and just really good!

We grabbed my bday Starbucks and then found scooters to head out to our pedi appointment. Yes, you read that right, I got Alex to agree to come get a pedi with me! We went to Mainstream Nails and they were awesome! Felt great to relax & get pampered! We even had some wine while we got our pedis.

Next up was some downtime and pool time before dinner. We went to Larimer Square for dinner which was the cutest coziest little neighborhood ever. I had read good things about CRU Wine Bar so that’s where we went! We had some great flights of wine and apps. We tried the grilled cheese & tomato soup as well as a charcuterie board. I had the filet mignon and Alex had the steak frites. Everything was seriously EXCELLENT. We shared a chocolate molten cake for dessert. We went across the street to Crimson Room Piano Bar after for a drink and then walked back to the hotel.

It was a perfect birthday! I was missing Mia boo a lot but the Rover sent me some great pictures of her doing just fine back at home. Funny story, I actually found a Rover who lives in my building … just two floors down. So I am thinking that helped Mia feel a little better to be kind of in her usual space! How perfect was that!?

Day 3 … We were up bright & early again today. We had read that Snooze AM Eatery had long waits on weekend mornings so we went right away. We scootered down to the Union Station location and there was only a 20 minute wait. We shared a pancake flight, I got breakfast tacos and Alex got french toast. It was good but not as good as the Egg Shell. The peanut butter cup pancake was our favorite.

We scooted directly to the Denver Art Museum next. We looked at almost all the exhibits. I have this thing where I love to go to the Art Museums in each city I travel to.

We stopped into the hotel room quick to rest and then hit the scooters again to head to Coors Field. We didn’t have time to go to the game because of our flight time but we went to View House to tailgate before. It was literally right in front of the stadium and had a huge rooftop.

Decided to uber back to the hotel to check out and not risk our lives on scooters after drinking. HA! Checked out and grabbed some Krispy Kreme’s for the road.

Then things got realllll interesting. HA. So our original flight was delayed and it kept getting longer and longer. We boarded though about an hour later than what it was supposed to be. All seemed well again. We were next in line to take off and the pilot got on the speaker to say that they shut down and grounded all departures because of a storm above. WHAT?! So the engines turned off and we sat on the plane for another hour only to be told they need us to now get off the plane. We get off and are standing in this crammed corner and can barely hear but they say our flight is CANCELLED. We need to go to ticketing to either get a refund or get rebooked. Everyone starts freaking out & running. Mind you we are on like the opposite side of ticketing and need to take a tram across the airport. Alex & I make a game plan on the tram … he will carry the bags and I will go ahead to attempt to get in line sooner to get on a new flight. I literally got into a sprint competition with a group of guys who were also trying to get there, I won for the record. I was the first person from our plane in line LOL. Our option to rebook turned out to be a complete and utter bust. The earliest they could get us out was on TUESDAY! TWO DAYS from now. HELL NO. So we took the refund and then started frantically looking on our phones to get on a new flight. Every price started jumping and sites started glitching because everyone was doing the same thing. We tried a few options and nothing panned out. We decided to buy a very expensive flight to get the hell out of there that night. It was supposed to leave at 9:55 pm (it was 8:10ish when we were booking this at the ticket counter) and as she’s printing out boarding passes the time jumps 55 minutes EARLIER to 9 pm …. so that gives us like no time to get through security and take the tram. We went down to security and were about to try and then said NOPE. So we headed backkkk to the ticket counter and waited in that monster line AGAIN. We ended up getting on a 11 pm flight which put us in at MSP at 2am. LOVELY. I am so glad I took Monday off and Mia’s Rover was awesome and agreed to take her another night. We were tired, sweating, thirsty, and just straight up exhausted & delirious at this point. We got an entire row to ourselves though so I laid down and slept the entire time. We made it back and were in bed around 2:45 am. It all worked out but what a way to end the weekend. Part of traveling though, right?!

It was truly a FABULOUS weekend. We both want to come back and agree it’s a perfect place to just come and chill out. We had a good balance of doing stuff but also just lounged a lot, which is our fave too. I would highly recommend making it out there if you haven’t!

FAVORITE FINDS – JUNE EDITION

This month for my “Favorite Finds” post, I am sharing THE MOST COMFORTABLE SANDALS EVER! I am always on the hunt for shoes that are not only stylish & trendy but also comfortable! There is nothing worse than cheap, flimsy sandals that kill your feet. I stumbled across these beauties at DSW but I also looked online and Nordstrom Rack & Amazon sell them as well. I usually wear a size 7 and sized down to a 6.5 in these as they run sort of long. They for real feel like you’re walking on a cloud. I really love the back … they look really cute from behind. The platform adds a little height but it’s not too much by any means. I am going to wear them in Denver this weekend so I will give you an update on how they hold up!

NAIL DASHES

I have had my nails done every single day for the last 7ish years. It’s just my thing. I don’t do many other beauty things like that but having my nails done is just something that is a non-negotiable for me. It makes me feel put together and I just like it.

I did gel polish for many years and the last couple years I have done dipping powder on my natural nails. I have tried literally EVERY SINGLE damn nail salon in Minneapolis and even the surrounding burbs. I have a found a couple that do a decent job but honestly there’s always one nail that’s messed up, or a knick on my cuticle, or nails that get messed up in a day … I could go on and on. Point being, I have not found a salon or nail tech that is always 100% on it.

So, naturally I was scrolling on IG and stumbled across something about “nail dashes”. I looked into them a little more and they are sold by a company called Red Aspen. I honestly didn’t dig too deep, but I think they are a direct sales company who also specialize in lashes. I ordered directly from their website, not a sales rep. Basically they are thin nails that glue on, last 2 full weeks and come off by just soaking in soapy water. I thought I would at least give them a try. They are also relatively cheap at around 13$ for a box which comes with tons of nails, glue, two sided file, & a scrapper tool. They claim you can reuse them as well. This is my first set so I haven’t done the soak off & reusing process yet.

I finally got around to trying them out last week and I am REALLY happy with them! I got two colors: “Kathryn & the Ballet Slipper” and “Nina on Cloud 9”. They are both from the “short nails” section and come in a square shape but you can very easily file them to any length & shape you want. I decided to try the Kathryn & the Ballet Slipper ones first. They are super thin and the application process was very easy. I followed the directions on the box and had no issues. It didn’t take long at all and they look natural and great! They honestly feel like my natural nail too. It took a fraction of the time and the price is insanely cheaper than going to the salon every two weeks, so I will definitely try the other set next! It’s been 11 days and they still look & feel great!