Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life Lately...


**This post is a little different than my typical fashion or design stuff, but has been weighing on my heart and I wanted to share in case it helps someone in a similar boat. It's a long, fairly whiny way to say - I don't have cancer. Which, right now, is pretty rad:

So, I've been the worst kind of Instagrammer lately. I know there's nothing worse than vague posts that hint at something being wrong, but never actually say what is wrong. So yeah, guilty as charged! My life has been in a total state of flux lately and as it turns out, I (mentally) don't handle it that well. I'll be sharing a lot of big news in the weeks to come (I promise I'm not click baiting. Just waiting for a few things to be official.), but in the meantime - I figured I could at least write about the most recent stuff.

As I've mentioned in the past, I have BRCA2. Long story short, this means I have a genetic mutation that puts me at a higher risk for breast cancer. This is a pretty big bummer, but who can complain? It doesn't mean I HAVE cancer. Instead, it just requires me to be more active with my screenings and vigilant with preventative care. And it means if there ever IS anything even close to cancer, I can catch it early.

My preventative care program requires yearly MRI screenings. (Mammograms have been proven risky for women under the age of 30. A screening that CAUSES cancer. What a hoot, right?) I scheduled an appointment for February and prepared to "check another item off the list." I have a lot of checklist items each year. You show up, and then it's over! Easy enough, right? I had never had an MRI before, and was surprised at how TERRIFYING it was. I had trouble breathing the entire hour. Funny how someone telling you to "breathe normal" prompts the exact opposite reaction. I was anxious, uncomfortable, and ready to get out of there. Another word to describe it could be "traumatized." I was so relieved it was over, and felt really thankful that my appointments would be done with for awhile.

A few days later, I received a call from my doctor. She told me that the results showed an abnormal spot, and that I'd need to go in for a follow-up ultrasound. I promptly began to "ugly cry," and basically went to bed at like 3pm.

The problem with having BRCA is that you sort of just wait for the day that they'll find something. You're essentially told "OKAY, you're going to get cancer. We're going to just do what we can to make sure you catch it early and don't die." So, every appointment might be a "checklist item," but they all foster the same underlying fear that it will be the time something is actually wrong. I hadn't yet had a phone call that indicated something was wrong. Instead, I've always had the calls that affirm I'm perfectly healthy and tell me to live my life normally. I would say I did NOT properly prepare my emotions.

The following weeks required a few more appointments - an ultrasound and an in-person exam, both of which didn't show the spot. I began to believe that the MRI had made a mistake (something that is actually quite common) and this was all a waste of my time. I think, for me, this is actually the toughest part of BRCA. You begin to feel an annoyance that accompanies all of this preventative care. Like, you guys - let me just go on with my life, right? It's easy to lose sight of the fact that you've got a team of very talented medical professionals watching you like a hawk to make sure you're healthy.

Even though they weren't able to locate the abnormality again, they said I needed to go for ANOTHER MRI to make sure. If they found it, they would biopsy it then. I started the eternal battle between annoyance and worry, usually residing somewhere in the middle. After a REALLY frustrating scheduling mishap (I would call being on a hospital bed in a hospital gown only to be told you had to come back in a week THE WORST), I made it back to South San Francisco for my MRI/potential biopsy. I had been doing my best to think positive, and kept making jokes about how I wasn't technically there for a biopsy. You know, because there would be nothing to biopsy.

I had taken notes from my last MRI and came prepared this time. I wore cashmere socks, dabbed lavender oil under my nose, and did breathing exercises beforehand. I was going to make this as luxurious as possible. And at the extremely wise suggestion of my doctor, I also took a Valium. The MRI began, and I was casually counting the minutes (or in this case, incredibly loud thumps) until they would wheel me out and let me go home. However, they instead said "we found it again, we're going to begin the biopsy now."

Without any control, tears started falling from my eyes. Being the vain person I am, I wore mascara to the appointment. I could see the little paper pillow turning black and I couldn't move my arms to wipe my eyes. I was SO certain there would be no biopsy. I was SO certain it was all a mistake. The fact it was real hit me like a semi truck. The biopsy itself went quickly, but was more invasive - mentally and physically - than I was prepared for.

(SIDE NOTE: at this time, the MRI technician went above and beyond her job. She came over and held my hand as the doctor got to work. This is for sure not something she's required or even expected to do. It was just a nice thing to do. I am going to be forever grateful for having a really nice human nearby in such a vulnerable moment.)

The recovery was much more painful than I anticipated, and I cursed the days I ever said I was totally down for a boob job. One tiny biopsy incision was ruining my life. Or, I just have a very low pain threshold. Either way, it was misery. And with the physical pain comes the worry. It's like having a constant, throbbing reminder that something could be very wrong with you. Something VERY wrong and it's right before a wedding, honeymoon, marriage... I hadn't been sleeping well since the first appointment in February, but this was true insomnia. Every worst-case scenario played out detail by ever-exhausting detail. I wondered about every facet of my life and what it would mean if this was, in fact, worst-case scenario.

I did my best to keep up with work and social obligations, but I just couldn't. Like I said, BRCA preps you for this moment. You KNOW that someday, someone is going to tell you that something is really wrong. It's easy to lose that eternally-sunny perspective when this might be that instance. As with all medical things, you expect to wait. I was guessing I'd be waiting until Wednesday, maybe Thursday, before I had any news. And then yesterday, on maybe the best Monday of my life, the doctor called, said it was nothing at all, and told me to have a nice day.

Voila. Poof. "It's nothing." In a one minute phone call, all of my fears evaporated and the entire ordeal was just over. (It's worth noting, I ugly cried at this point as well.)

I know that this will certainly not be my last biopsy or breast cancer scare. With BRCA, any slight abnormality will require these tests. And that by the time I go through the next one, I should probably toughen up. But since it was the first one, I wanted to write about it. I always say I want to share these things because maybe somewhere out there, there's a girl just like me who is in the same boat and has the same issues and fears. And life really isn't ALWAYS pretty, no matter how many perfectly filtered Instagram pictures we post. I think it's important to keep it real on the off chance that someone out there needs your realness right now. That's why we have the internet right?? Oh, that and cute cats. 

Anyways, that was a lot longer and more detailed than I ever planned on writing. But hey. I don't have cancer! And that's the point of this post. I do not have cancer! Pretty rad, right? I mean, 2 months ago it didn't even occur to me to worry about that. So to suddenly realize I don't have to worry anymore, and I can just go back to work and wedding planning and whole-heartedly laughing with friends, is pretty much the best feeling ever.

In addition to NOT having cancer, I DO have some really wonderful people in my life. Thank you to everyone who offered support (even the "strangers" who simply noticed something was up via my social media posts). And thank you to people who went out of their way to do nice things, like my thoughtful boss or my friend Tina who sent the most beautiful tulips (above). And most of all, thank you to my family and Tim's family and to Tim for being my support system and making every day sunny even WITH a dark looming cloud overhead. <3

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bridesmaids!

One of my favorite "wedding tasks" I've checked off the list is asking my bridesmaids to be a part of our wedding. I am so lucky to have the COOLEST and BEST friends, and I'm really excited that such a wonderful group of ladies will be with me on the big day. I wanted to do something special that my bridesmaids would remember, but do feel the need to mention that I sort of got hung up on making the gift really creative and custom. I actually am pretty sure I said, word for word, that I was "paralyzed by Pinterest." (Hey, with so many cute ideas like this and this, can you blame me?) Anyways, my disclosure is out there - my need to make it "pin-worthy" delayed the process by months a bit and I realize that I absolutely could have called them each individually on the phone and just straight up asked. 

But, I stuck with my guns and did something awesome: 


One thing I can always count on my friends for is to enjoy a delicious, icy cold can of Sofia. If you haven't seen it before, it's canned Sofia champagne from the Frances Coppola winery... AND EACH CAN COMES WITH A STRAW. It's the actual best. If anyone comes to visit, you can bet that the fridge is stocked. 

With a little help from Tim (who, as far as I'm concerned, is a design and Photoshop expert), custom Sofia labels were created to match the original box and we pasted them (using spray adhesive) directly on top of the label. I have to say, they looked SO real! When Lindy opened hers, she said "oh, yum!" and didn't even notice that it said her name. I would call that my proudest moment, probably. 


I didn't do a very great job of photographing them all together before they went in the mail, but wanted to share here in case there are any other brides who are overzealous Sofia fans like me. My only other suggestion is stocking your own fridge (or purse) so that you can "cheers" once they receive them!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Girls' Night In

February is always a pretty anti-social month for me. The craziness of catching up in January always seems to weigh me down, and so February hits and I basically refuse to leave the house. But, it's the height of awards season (Oscars!), The Bachelor is just getting juicy, and Friends is on Netflix. I think February is the perfect occasion for a "girls' night in," filled with celebrity gossip, trashy TV, and plenty of snacks.

Whenever I plan a party, no matter how small, I always want to give our apartment a little refresh. The quickest way to do that is update the details. Target, obviously, is my go-to. The Threshold line seems like it was created with my apartment in mind, and - hello - Nate Berkus can do no wrong. For my last little soiree, I snagged a few new pillows from both lines and our sofa was completely transformed. (See here for reference.) Since our space is small, I knew I wanted to get some new seating. The Nate Berkus geo-print pouf is great (and surprisingly comfortable), and can be tucked under my desk as a foot rest when we're not using it. I also love the Threshold Iron & Glass Hurricane Candle Holder (with an unscented candle) for a little mood lighting.


Target also had a lot of great entertaining essentials that perfectly fit my aesthetic - and, more importantly, the decor I already own! Luxe serving trays (which are perfect for food OR drinks), mix & match plates (like these geometric ones from Nate's line), and versatile tumblers for cocktails did just the trick. My favorite addition, however, was the glass and acacia "chip and dip." At first, it seemed frivolous. But we watch a lot of movies and sports, and it has already been used a ton. It cut down on dishes and looks gorgeous. Fresh guacamole is all my heart needs to be happy. 




Finally, when it comes to entertaining, I admit to aiming for the easy route. I take full responsibility (and pride!!) in this. I don't really have much luck in the kitchen, and I also don't have a ton of time. I think it's 100% acceptable to offer pre-made food as long as you dress it up a bit and include a few fun drink options. I fixed a plate of taquitos (because, who can resist taquitos??) but melted cheese over the top and added fresh salsa. My brother's handmade glass dishes were the perfect addition for individual salsa servings. (And did I mention the fresh guac?!) For cocktails, I like to keep it fairly simple - which is easy to do if you choose a good liquor. Brugal's Dry Rum is so tasty, I'd drink it alone. (But I won't.) Club soda and lime is all it needs to be a fresh drink you can sip on all night. (Get the exact recipe here.) Since not everyone goes for rum, I had a few beers on hand but avoided the "college frat boy" route and put them on a matching blue tray. (Side note -- I am OB-SESSED with these trays and they will be making an appearance at our wedding. So. Pretty.)





I like to think this is proof you can have a pretty party without a lot of effort. AND - with a few thoughtful updates - it will seem like your place got a complete makeover. (Will I ever stop preaching the power of the pillow? NOPE. Never.) When it comes to entertaining (or at the very least, binge-watching The Bachelor), I'm set to host through spring AND it feels like we have a brand new living room. 

What are your favorite entertaining tricks for a quick & affordable party that still looks great?

SHOP MY TOP PICKS FROM TARGET:

Monday, February 2, 2015

#DoItWithPurpose

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely have noticed that my feed is like... 25% cat pictures. Not just any cats, though. #RoxanneDolores & #LeonardFrancis. Sure, I used to be embarrassed about the "cat lady" stigma, but these days - I couldn't care less. I love having pets and am a firm believer and supporter in the joy they bring any household. It can be annoying to have to find care for them when we travel, and Roxanne has had some health issues (which I'll be writing about later) that aren't ideal... but all in all, I'm obsessed.

The kind folks at Purina realized that Roxanne Dolores was a total star, and sent her a present!! She could hardly wait to get her paws on it:


They recently launched a new cat litter called Purpose, and the slogan is to "put a bright face on a dirty chore." The packaging is so cute - maybe because I'm biased and the cat on the cover is Rox's doppelgänger. The branding is ON POINT (how funny is this "How To" section??) and I am glad that companies are finally recognizing that really cool cat ladies (and cat men) exist. It's available exclusively at Target - which is my second home.

As for the litter itself, it smells great (not weirdly medicinal) and works well with our hilarious litter box, the Litter Robot. Like, you own a cat... they need to have a litter box... shouldn't it be awesome?


I mean sure, I never thought I'd see the day where I blogged about litter. But I love my cat, and I love this brand, and I figured at least 2 of you out there found this blog because you liked a photo of one or both of my cats. So obviously, it's only natural to share the love. Another huge thank you to Purpose for the gift - which include a few treats for me too! Click here to find it at a Target near you.

Disclosure: Purpose Cat Litter sent me (and Roxy) a thoughtful gift and the chance to try out Purpose, but the opinions here are 100% my own.