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Hi, I’ve missed you.

Life is funny. Just when you think you’re hitting a good stride and things are moving along smoothly WHAM the Mack truck doing ten over steam rolls you. On the one hand, it’s good to shake things up every so often. On the other hand, months like the last 1-1.5 I’ve had tend to side-line you for a bit. All of a sudden you’re yanked out of the game… It reminds me of when I used to play soccer. Guaranteed once every year or two I’d sprain my ankle badly enough to have to sit out for a week or two. One wrong move or step or collision with another player and you’re riding the pine, forced to sit and watch all the action happen around you while you deal with your injury…while you heal.

And that’s where I’ve been these last few weeks, sitting on the side line, taking stock, trying to make sense of it all and most importantly healing. I still have a way to go and it still hurts, but I’m ready to get back in the game.

I’ll start at the beginning…

A little over a month ago, on Sunday, March 11th I woke up ready to run. It was the day of the Cork Town 5K race, the first I’ve ever run with my Mom. I was so excited! (And nervous.) B, Stella and I (and all my sisters) stayed at my Mom’s house the night before so we could all get up and head to the race together. We said goodbye to Stella the next morning and headed downtown (Detroit) to join our fellow Irishmen and women at the starting line.

Mom and I ready to race! We might be related…

The race went really well although I was horribly over dressed. It was so much fun to run with my Mom. Can’t wait for the next one!

After a much needed lunch we headed home. Little did we know there was a huge surprise waiting for us (and not the good kind). We walked into my Mom’s house and immediately discovered that Stella had eaten not only what should have been a lethal dose of chocolate but also onions! Two things that are HORRIBLE for dogs! Probably one of the scariest moments of my life. Long story short she ended up staying in the veterinary hospital that night for chocolate toxicity. Although scary, her reaction to the chocolate was actually not as severe as we expected considering the quantity she ate, 2 ounces of pure cocoa. She was able to come home the next day which was a huge, albeit expensive, relief.

Once home, Stella seemed to be out of the woods, but we noticed she was still moving slower than normal and not eating normally. Figuring she was still recovering, we watched her closely and took things extra slowly for the next day or so. The next day we came home from work to find her in our bed which was unusual. Usually, she is perched on top of the couch in front of the big picture window, eagerly waiting for us to come home from work. When we entered the room she stood up on the bed to greet us and wobbled a bit before collapsing. We weren’t quite sure how it happened the first time and thought she might just still be weak from the chocolate episode. Over the next 24 hours or so she seemed to just get worse with dizzy/collapsing spells every time she got up too quickly. The rest of the time she was laying all over the house, as close as possible to either one of us.

It was so heartbreaking and scary to watch because I just knew something else was wrong with her, she seemed to be getting worse. The doctors told us to hold off and see if she improved but after a particularly bad collapsing episode we decided to take her to the Michigan State emergency vet hospital.

Stella checking out the rooms at the MSU hospital.

Turns out the onions she had consumed almost a week prior had made her very anemic, hence the collapsing. My poor girl ended up staying three nights in the hospital and receiving a blood transfusion before she was well enough to come home. Luckily I was able to visit her while she was in the hospital and she has made a full recovery. But it was so hard to see her like this…

Her little IV hookup… it’d be cute if it wasn’t so sad.

My best friend <3… She really is an amazing dog, so very sweet.

The week Stella came home from the hospital was also the week that I found out my Grandpa was losing ground in his courageous battle against cancer. I had four days with him before he passed, days so full of love and memories and gratitude, I will cherish them for the rest of my life. My whole family spent nearly every waking moment at my Grandparents’ house talking and reminiscing, petting dogs and passing around babies, eating, teasing each other, pouring through what must have been thousands of pictures, supporting one another, laughing, crying and finally mourning. Most of all, we quietly celebrated the life that was so crucial in bringing us all together. My Grandfather’s greatest gift to his family was just that, a huge family. He gave us enough people to lean on when our rock was finally gone.

My Grandpa was very, very special to me.  He was my hero and my knight in shining armor, as well as the most genuine person I’ve ever met (well aside from my Grandma, but don’t even get me started on her :)). I am forever thankful for the very special relationship we shared. I miss him dearly, every single day, and I think I probably always will. Though these days I carry him with me, honoring his memory through hard work, compassion for others, and really trying to live every moment. Writing that still stings quite a bit so I think we’ll leave it at that for now.

Lastly, before I come up for air, I’ll also mention that B and I will not be moving to DC in May as planned and possibly not at all. I won’t go into the details but I will say this, I was really, really bummed about this. And maybe that’s part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write about it, because I didn’t want it to be real. But honestly, I’m okay with it now. If things end up working out and we move, great, but if not that’s okay too. One thing B and I are good at is coming up with a Plan B! Or C or D! And we have quite of few back up plans that we are exploring at this point. Honestly, if we can’t be in DC at least we get to enjoy a great Michigan summer. I’m excited to have all my sisters in Michigan! And B and I already have a few trips and other plans in the works and I’m looking forward to some traveling and fun, new things this summer.

So there you have it. It’s been a tough month or two. But you know, that’s life. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. And that’s okay with me, really. As they say, without the bitter, the sweet just isn’t as sweet. Tough times show you what you’re made of, your guts. And for as confusing and at times overwhelming things can get, times like these also show you what really matters and what’s important in life. I may be a little bruised, but I’m definitely stronger… and I’ve learned, a lot.

I hope that wasn’t too much of a downer. I really debated discussing it at all (I have an amazing muffin recipe I was tempted to post instead… later this week…) but first and foremost I want this blog to be an accurate representation of me, and something that I can use to document my life, interests, my feelings, and essentially my story, or history. If there is one thing that I learned looking through my Grandma’s pictures, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks it’s that your posterity really does appreciate the history lesson. Knowing where you come from is like a little key that helps us understand ourselves better.

The GOOD news is….!!!

1) I’m back.

2) Despite the lack of blogging about the 30 Day Clean”er” Eating Challenge I’ve actually done quite well keeping up with it, all things considered. Although I expected to be a little closer to my fitness goals by now, I’m also really proud that I maintained (mostly) healthy and clean eating habits and continued to exercise (fewer times a week than I’d planned but still constently!) over the last month or so. I think that has definitely made this time much easier and now I am really motivated to kick things up a notch. I just joined gym this week! Joining the gym is actually a reward for getting back into a regular exercise routine and sticking to it. I’ve been doing a good amount of stairs and cardio, but have really wanted to start more strength and weight cross-training as well. I really like the new gym so far! More on that later.

3) Even though I haven’t been blogging this last month, I’ve still been cooking and baking (and picture snapping)! I have a lot to share! Starting with a new recipe this week: Coconut Mango Banana Muffins. I know. Plus, they are vegan and gluten free and contain no oil or butter. I KNOW. 🙂

I’ve got a puppy next to me who has been trying to sleep on my lap/computer for the last 20 minutes… time to sign off but before I do… I just want to say, thanks for listening and sticking it out. Now back to the fun stuff.