Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Med-sanity!

health, journalEmily DeArdoComment
 Seriously, who would get mad at this guy?

Seriously, who would get mad at this guy?

One of the things I hate about mental health issues is that it’s so easy to freak out when you feel yourself starting to slide. It’s so gradual, that it can be just a few little things, and then suddenly you have a day like I had today, where if the World’s Cutest Corgis came into my yard, I would’ve flown into murderous rage.

Seriously.

I was so unhinged all day, and if I had to pinpoint it, it would’ve started on Sunday, when I go so angry at the Steelers that I was yelling and swearing and generally losing it. But today, when I wanted to bite the head off any human being I encountered, including my super sweet and wonderful boss, I started to think, waaaaait a minute…..

I ran through the regular triggers. I’d been sleeping amazingly. So that wasn’t it.

I had a Diet Coke, and some Earl Grey. If it was a caffeine/sugar issue, that would fix it. No go. (I put milk and sugar into my Earl Grey, for the record.)

I had some dark chocolate in the house and had a piece of “emergency chocolate.” Nope.

Wait a minute…..maybe it’s……the skin cancer med.

I looked up the side effects online, and there it was: mood disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)

BINGO.

Now, just knowing that I’m not going crazy—literally—is very helpful.

But in the all and all, I’d rather have physical side effects, because then you can take something. Nausea? Vomiting? Phenergan! Pain? We got stuff for that! Can’t sleep! Meds!

This, nothing I can do except ride it out until Halloween when the course is finished.

I’m already on anti-anxiety meds (since I was 16), so….can’t do anything about that, and even if I wasn’t, it can take awhile for the meds to build up in the system, so it wouldn’t really help, most likely.

So, while the med is just a cream, apparently it’s tres potent, and after not even a week….oh well.

I can hang in there. It’s just nice to know I wasn’t entirely losing my mind. But I think I might hide in my hobbit hole for a few days so I don’t take the head off anyone who doesn’t use their turn signal. :-p

#22 Jenny Colgan

books, journalEmily DeArdoComment

I adore Jenny Colgan books. They take place in England/Scotland, and they are just so snuggly. I mean, who else writes about a character who has a PUFFIN for a pet? Seriously, people. And there are recipes in each book.

So when I was having a GRUMPTASTIC day, I realized there was a new Jenny Colgan book out. I went and got it. And made tea.

Reading Jenny Colgan makes days better. Any day.

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More skin cancers!

health, transplantEmily DeArdo2 Comments

As I’ve written about before, I’m really susceptible to skin cancer. Not just because I’m fair, but because of the meds I’m on. The anti-rejection meds I take make me 10 times more likely than the general population to get skin cancer. So even though I am vigilant about sunscreen, and always have been, now I have to be even more vigilant.

Unfortunately, I can’t stop taking the meds. And I can’t—or won’t—live in a burqa. So, that means that no matter how vigilant I am, I’m going to get more. Most likely. But, upped prevention also works; when I swim, I cover my hair with one of these, and so far, my scalp hasn’t had any issues again. (Make sure you find the one with SPF in the fabric!)

 It’s cute, right? Right? :-p

It’s cute, right? Right? :-p

The two I have at the moment are, thankfully, easy to treat. One of them is on my tricep, and it’s superficial, so we’re treating it with a special cream. It’s twice a day, for twenty one days, so it’s not a bad course, especially not compared to the IV courses I’ve done that are that long (or longer). I don’t have an IV in, and I’m free to bathe when I want. :) So this is cake.

The second one is on my right ear, on the top curve. FORTUNATELY this is also pretty superficial, so we’re just going to scrape it and laser it off. This is easy, but it does require a lot of waiting room time, because you have to wait three hours between scrape and laser. So, that means books to read!

But enough about me—let’s talk about you. Please, if you haven’t, go to a dermatologist and get a full body check. If you’re a normal person you probably only need to do this yearly. But please do it. The grandfather of a dear friend has skin cancer and it’s metastasized. Skin cancer kills people.

Wear sunscreen. Cover up. Get your skin checked. For the love of God, do not lay out! It’s terrible for your skin, and your vanity. ;-) You want to look younger longer? Don’t tan.

So, that’s this week’s medical adventure.



#21 The Garden (retreat notes III)

Catholicism, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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It was really too hot to spend much time in the garden, but I did manage to get out after breakfast on Saturday and take photos of the roses, and spend some time in the little replica Lourdes Grotto. Isn’t the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes gorgeous? There’s a tiny bench in there, so you can sit and pray, and a little water feature to represent the spring at Lourdes, so there’s the peaceful bubbling sound of water as well. It’s so pretty, and I just wanted to share it with you.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Flourish, the new Take Up & Read study on the book of Romans!

#20 St. Therese chapel (retreat notes II)

Catholicism, journal, prayer, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment
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I’ve been making retreats since….gosh. 2009, maybe? 2008? One of those two. So that’s 10 years of silent retreats, which is sort of amazing when I think about.

I always go on silent retreats. I find that’s the best way to really listen to God, for me, and I sort of crave that silence. This retreat I went into with out “resolutions” (as Msgr. Knox calls them), but just with the desire to fill my cup, so to speak, with God, His presence, His voice, and His quiet.

The chapel is really well suited to these things.

It’s a gorgeous stone chapel, built in the 40s, I think. The floor has the patina of age. It’s always cool in there, and quiet. The decades of prayer are obvious. The art is gorgeous, too, and leads you to contemplation pretty easily, and prayer.

There is a small side chapel, which holds the reliquary (we’ll talk about that in a later post), and has a painting of the Annunciation on the wall. It’s a supremely comfortable spot, because there’s a nice big chair in there, so you can sit and look at the tabernacle and pray, hidden and secluded. That’s where I had one of my holy hours this time, and it really was delightful.

This retreat was different in that there were only three conferences (talks on the retreat theme, which was Mary), so there was ample time for silence and doing your own thing. Usually I also spend time in my room, but since it was so hot, I spent all of my time in the chapel or the lounge. I had brought extra books to read since I knew I’d have spare time (only spiritual books, and my Bible; I don’t bring Outlander on retreat with me.). So a lot of reading, and then note taking, pondering in my journal, Bible reading (lectio), and prayer. It was great.

 The chapel spire from the garden

The chapel spire from the garden


Also, don’t forget: Our new Take Up & Read Study starts on Sunday, all about the book of Romans! Please join us! You can purchase your copy
here.



#19 A Fan (and some retreat notes)

Catholicism, give aways, journalEmily DeArdoComment

(Don’t forget the Flourish giveaway, which ends at midnight!)


I went on retreat last weekend, and usually I write up my retreat notes here, so I think I’ll do that over the next few days. But also continuing with the journal entries, I was SUPER grateful for a desk fan in my room.

The retreat center was built in the 1950s, and in the “old” part, there is no A/C. In the “new” wing, there is air conditioning. Now, normally this isn’t an issue, because all the rooms have windows that open, so I figured I wouldn’t specifically request a room with A/C, because, it’s October.

I should’ve remembered that October in Ohio can be punishingly warm—as in, summer temps—or we can have snow on the first weekend.

We have been in a heat wave that should break later this week. But in the meantime, I had been assigned to a small room, on the second floor of the old retreat house, that had no A/C.

As I trudged up the stairs with my bags I kept thinking, if it gets too bad, I can just go home.

(As a reminder: High temps and CF do not mix. The way we sweat means that we’re much more susceptible to high temperatures as opposed to regular people. Also, the skin graft I have? Doesn’t sweat. So my body doesn’t regulate temperature very well, anyway, in part. So A/C isn’t just “I’m a first world softie.” It’s, “Emily’s body doesn’t work that well on its own.”)

When I got into the room, I saw that there was a small desk fan on the table.

I was very, very grateful.

I was also grateful that the rest of the house—the lounge, the dining room, the chapel—were all abundantly air conditioned, and the doors to these spaces were left open so the A/C could sort of spill out all over the house.

So, desk fans. Don’t leave home without ‘em when it’s hot.

 The chapel, Friday night.

The chapel, Friday night.



FLOURISH giveaway!

writing, Take Up and Read, give awaysEmily DeArdo9 Comments

Everyone! I’m so excited to show you the new Take Up & Read Fall study:

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This study has a lot of firsts for us.

  • It’s our first book that focuses exclusively on one book of the bible; in this case, it’s St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.

  • We have a fresh design from our amazing designer, Kristin Foss

  • recipes are included in the book, so that you can bring Rome to your table or study group

  • A timeline of St. Paul’s life, so you can learn more about this amazing saint!



Flourish does look different from our other studies, and even with all these first, it still has the content that you know and love.

  • Daily Scripture verses to ponder for lectio divina

  • A devotional essay from our fabulous writers (yes, I wrote two. No, I’m not calling myself fabulous)

  • Memory verses for each week, as well as “Selah” days, to catch up on days you missed, or just look over your notes from the previous week

  • A study guide (found on the website) for groups who want to do Flourish together!



Here’s a look at the inside pages:

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So, I’m giving you a chance to WIN a copy of our study!

To enter, all you have to do is a leave a comment below, talking about your favorite book of the Bible. That’s it! (If you don’t have a favorite, that’s OK, too! Mention that!)

Giveaway will close on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9 at midnight, and the winner will be drawn on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10, so that the winner can receive his/her copy before the study starts on the fourteenth!

All you have to do is leave a comment. Go!



Yarn Along No. 79

books, journal, knittingEmily DeArdo3 Comments

Yayyy October yarn along!

So, first, since it’s October, I’m deep in knitting gifts. This one is for a little friend (I do mean little—it’s a little boy, although he’d probably bristle at being called “little”)—he picked the color and the type of yarn. It’s Carrie’s Yellow from Quince, in their Lark line. I haven’t worked with Lark before, so it’s a new experience, but it’s going well so far! (If you love Quince like I do, I highly recommend getting their color cards—they’ve been SO helpful, especially when it comes to gifts! Feeling the yarn and really seeing the colors in person as opposed to on a screen is so helpful).

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I’m reading Make Something Good Today, which has been like having a cup of coffee with good friends. I love Home Town on HGTV, because Erin and Ben seem so real, and this book just proves they are. You’re probably thinking, “Of course they’re real, duh”, but I mean real as in, authentic. And the last chapter on their baby girl will make you cry. Seriously. Too much.

When I work on Christmas gifts, my own projects get moved to Sunday. So that means the shawl’s progress has slowed, but I’m reaching the end!

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The end work on this shawl is sort of slow, though, because of the detail level-it’s not just the lovely garter stitch I’ve been doing for most of the shawl! However, it is pretty. This shawl is being knit in Quince’s Chickadee. (Carnation—special edition—Frank’s Plum, and Sage)

As it gets colder—maybe, it’s going to be in the 80s this weekend (OH weather is insane), I just am drawn to knitting more and more. It’s so cozy! Once I finish the shawl I’m going to —gulp—cast on a hat! My first one!



#16 Grandma

journal, familyEmily DeArdoComment

(This is the post for Saturday—there will be a Sunday post later!)


My grandma is down here with my aunts, spending time on a girls’ weekend together at Easton (A shopping/entertainment district near where I live). I didn’t know grandma was in town, so I was really pleasantly surprised to see her at Mass last night!

Grandma is 88 and she’s the last grandparent I have. The older I get, the more conscious I am of that, and I treasure getting to spend time with her. Even if it’s just an hour at Mass. :)

 At Bryan and Sarah’s wedding in May

At Bryan and Sarah’s wedding in May


#15 Rainbows

journalEmily DeArdoComment

This was last night, but this made me seriously happy:

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A gorgeous, full rainbow when it was getting dark. The colors were AMAZING. It felt like Oz, almost. Really really cool.

Today was a gorgeous fall day, crisp blue sky, little breezy—one of those days that just makes me happy. So I’m going to go take a bath and then read some of my library books and maybe watch opera? Because I have a ton of opera DVDs here from the library that I need to get working on.


#14 Ohio

journalEmily DeArdoComment

Ohio tends to get a bad rap. It’s boring, it’s flat, it’s a hot bed of drug use and terrible things and Rust Belt ghosts and all that.

But I’ve lived here all my life, and I really do like it.

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Especially when I had a drive home that included:

  • that view

  • Corn fields ready for harvesting

  • FOUR horses in paddocks, grazing

  • a farm house with a sign that said “Fresh apple cider sold here”

  • a farm run by sisters that has a resident llama

  • A barn with an old “Mail Pouch Tobacco” advertisement on its side

I drove home from barre class with the windows down and great songs on the stereo and a gorgeous early fall day.

Ohio has its good points.


#13 Paul, Apostle of Christ

journal, movies, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment
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I totally missed this movie when it was in the theaters, but I picked it up on DVD, and it’s great!

I gotta say, I knew very little about Paul’s life until I worked on Flourish, the new Take Up and Read book that focuses on the Book of Romans (and that you can BUY RIGHT NOW HERE!). Watching this movie was a great way to cement that knowledge and also watch some great acting. (I love Jim Caviezel!)

So if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. And the Flourish study starts October 14! I’ll post more about it—INCLUDING a give away!—as we get closer to the start date!

#12 rainy days

journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment
  Flicker—taken by Angela Rae

Flicker—taken by Angela Rae

When I was little, I had a pink bedroom, and a pink-and-white marbled lamp on my nightstand. On rainy days, I loved the bus ride home from school, because I knew I’d get to go home, go up to my little pink room, turn on that lamp, and read or play with my dolls in my cozy bedroom while it rained outside. Mom would be making dinner downstairs, the house would smell good, and Dad would be home soon.

Rainy days are cozy and safe days to me.

So today, I got a lot done, but I’m also going to curl up with some tea and a stack of library books on my couch and read until I get sleepy. And then I’ll go to bed and read some more. And eventually go to bed. But rainy, cozy days, with books and tea, are some of the best days.

#11 More tea!

writing, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Tea is a focal point in my life. So is writing.

So today a writers’ group I’m in had tea at the Cambridge Tea House—because, seriously, tea is awesome.

I had my usual cream tea, but the other two ladies shared an afternoon tea.

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I had some of the pimento cheese sandwich—it was yummy.

It was great just to talk and hang out, and next week we have our “regular” every other month meeting where we talk about writing and what we’re working on. I love having a writers’ group!

(And it’s the first day of fall and the WINDOWS ARE OPENNNNNN!!!! Yay!)

#10 I didn't die at barre class

journal, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

Seriously, people, this is worth sharing.
I hadn’t been to a Pure Barre class in about four years. And when I went, I would get so frustrated, constantly comparing my body to the other bodies in the room. Why couldn’t I do this? So, of course, I stopped going after about 10 classes.

But last night, I had this strange compulsion. I was going to a Board and Brush class with my SIL and my brother. There was a Pure Barre studio right by the class and their apartment. I could….go to class and then meet them for dinner and then paint.

I signed up for a class, my first in almost five years.

What in the world?!??!

Before I went in today, I gave myself a pep talk. Emily. You cannot compare your body to theirs. You have maybe half the lung capacity. You have a wrist that hates plank. But you know what? You are strong anyway. You can modify. Just get through the class.

So that was my goal. Get through class.

And I did. And not only that? I’m stronger than I was five years ago. I could get through the warm up and arms almost easily. I could do leg work without feeling like a failure. Sure, at the end, when we did crunches with legs in the air, I couldn’t do that. But you know what? THAT IS OK.

I left class feeling really proud of myself, and energized, and amazed that I felt stronger than I had when I was younger.

This is really different for me. I used to leave class frustrated and angry at myself, or at the very least, with a “got that done” mindset.

Maybe….I need to go more often?

Maybe my body can do things?

And board and brush was awesome. Here’s what I made:

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AND I got to have fun with Liz and her cat Vito and knit and talk books and have tea this morning

So basically, a great day.

#8 & #9 GMBD and Book Baby!

journalEmily DeArdoComment

Did you ever watch The Middle?

If not, you should, it’s REALLY funny.

Anyway, yesterday reminded me of this clip:

Frankie’s “Getting Her Business Done!” (GHBD)

Yesterday was a “GMBD” (my business) done day here, which is why I forgot to write!

I went through all these clothes:

 *Yes, my bed is unmade. DON’T JUDGE.

*Yes, my bed is unmade. DON’T JUDGE.


And then put them all back in the closet: (Well, all the keepers)

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(See that turquoise dress? That’s the dress I wore to work—the last day of work—before my transplant. So I keep it as a sentimental thing. :) )

There are six bags of clothes to be donated and there were four bags of trash removed.

People. This is so freeing. Do it some time. It didn’t take that long! Maybe two hours? And I broke it up so it wasn’t two hours at ONCE.

Then I took a bath with some Barr Co. bath salts that I got from Laurel Mercantile:

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I love bath bubbles and potions and things. I haven’t had any in a long time so I was so excited to pick this up. It’s DELICIOUS. Lightly scented by lovely and your skin feels like silk afterwards.

Talked to Mel on the phone again, and then watched Batman Begins.

TODAY

CONTINUING GMBD:

Skin cancer check. I get these every six months. Two biopsied spots, so we’ll see if they’re anything.

Sent off my book proposal package to my acquisitions editor and hopefully the publisher likes it! My little book baby is out in the world!!




#7 Fajitas with Mel (and Ember Days start tomorrow!)

Catholicism, family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

My sister lives in Colorado, so I don’t get to see her that much, which is sad. She’s an RN at Colorado Children’s, the only children’s hospital in the entire state. She’s also getting married in June!

Tonight she called me and we cooked together. I love FaceTime. She was making a cake while I made fajitas for dinner, and we talked about wedding plans and our brother and what we like to cook and how she was eating all the cake batter. :-P And I got to say hi to Bella, her cat. We also decided that I’d look up a place for the rehearsal dinner, because I really do love reading Yelp reviews and I want to help her out. :)

Sadly I didn’t take a shot of her on the phone—she was having an AMAZING hair day. She has thick blonde hair I envy. Mine is not thick.

But I did take a photo of the fajitas.

 Homemade salsa in there, too!

Homemade salsa in there, too!


And—a few dioceses around the country, and many individuals, are re-instating the practice of Ember Days in their spiritual lives. What are ember days? They’re days that the Church used to use for prayers—blessings on the natural world, on crops, on the people who live in the area, etc. They happen four times a year, and the Michaelmas (fall) ones are tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. They’re days for fasting and more prayer.

If you want to know more, check out this great article. I am terrible at fasting. But I will abstain from meat. Here’s a specific link on the fall Embertide. (The other ones fall after Pentecost, St. Lucy’s Day [Dec. 13] and after Ash Wednesday.)

(If you’re a blog subscriber, you’re getting this W morning….but you can still fast or do things on the Friday and Saturday! Not too late!)