A fresh array of thoughts at the intersection of my to do list and society

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on June 6, 2012 –  http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/06/06/embracing-the-chaos-of-ivf-the-game-plan/)

After surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy in early January, we laid out our game plan for our first attempt at IVF. I like calling it a game plan as much as Dr. Swanson does because it makes the process feel more like a game of flag football rather than just a legs-in-stirrups marathon, like a competition of sorts (me, competitive? Never!) It also makes me feel like we have a team of cheerleaders nearby to keep our spirits high. I imagine our Conceptions team dressed up in uniforms with shirts that say “Go Team Stone” on the front in blue waving pom-poms and yelling, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Hold that V!” You can picture that too, right?

The plan was to first check my resting follicle count and AMH levels (aka ovarian reserve of quality, healthy baby-making follicles) after two menstrual cycles post-surgery. All was well there. Next, we had our 4-hour consultation to learn how the art of love-making and the science of baby-making would join forces to help us get pregnant. During the consultation, we quickly realized that we were no longer waiting for the prime ovulation time to show up on a pee stick. Instead, each step would be methodical, from when to start on birth control, where to inject the medications and when to get ultrasounds to check the follicle count. They gave us a color-coded calendar so we could keep track of everything. Clearly, they’ve done this before.

I also had to have more legs-in-stirrups tests like a sonohysterogram, Doppler ultrasound and a trial transfer to ensure my girly parts were up-to-snuff and Doc could find the right spot for the egg when it was time. The trial transfer was the most painful, not because of the process, but because I had to drink a bunch of water prior to the procedure and couldn’t pee until it was over. That was fun, really. And why is it when you have to pee all you can think about is a running waterfall?

Then it was time to get my medications. Our insurance company had approved the IVF attempt a while back so getting approvals for the meds should have been super easy, right? Not in our case. It took two weeks and daily stalking calls for Conceptions to get the green light to order the meds. During this time, our refrigerator and garage door decided to break so I had to juggle work, insurance company phone call stalking, repairmen visits and run the household since Barry was out of town. I kept thinking this was all a test of my will so I kept plugging on.

Finally, on Friday, March 9, the box of meds came. Typically, when I think of meds, I think of an orange plastic bottle with a white cap. For IVF, the box looked like I ordered several pairs of shoes and they all shipped together. I opened the box, and pulled out the first box of meds, then the second, then the third…I thought I would never get the bottom. It was kinda like Christmas except instead of shiny gifts, I got syringes and boxes of meds containing little glass bottles of powdered stuff and sterile water. The only mix up was a missing ice pack for one of the meds, but the pharmacy sent me an overnight package with a new bottle secured in an ice pack. A minor setback, but it didn’t mess up our timing.

On Saturday morning after I got the last bottle, I laid it all out on our dining room table, which seats six. I kept waiting for the DEA to show up at my door and demand a raid of our house. Thank goodness that didn’t happen, my house was a mess. I went in for a final ultrasound to ensure my lining was thin and my estrogen levels were low later that day as well. On Sunday, I got a message from the nurse informing me that “everything looks perfect” and “Congratulations, you’re on your way!”

Things felt good, things felt right. We had our game plan. I was to start the shots on Monday, March 12, one grouping in the morning and one at night. I had practiced giving myself the shots in the abdomen so I wasn’t worried about hurting myself. I even had a PRSA Western District Conference event that night, but I was prepared with the shots ever so cleverly concealed in my purse. I’m a master multi-tasker and really wanted to see my fellow PRSA Coloradoans. Yep, our game had begun, and hopefully we would only have to play four quarters with no overtime in order to win.

Advertisements

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been dealing with infertility. It hasn’t been easy, but my gift of the gab has led me to share my story via Mile High Mamas, Colorado’s best mom community in partnership with The Denver Post. Here’s the first of my six part series…

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on  May 14, 2012 – http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/05/14/a-denver-moms-journey-with-infertility-and-ivf/

Hi y’all! I’m a Southerner-turned-mountain-lover living in South Denver and recently, I’ve been dealing with infertility. It’s more common that I ever thought and I now understand why it’s so hard on women and families. I’ve decided to share my story with the Mile High Mamas in hopes it will help others who are going through the same thing, and we can share a laugh or two along the way.

Here’s my story.

Barry and I got married in Atlanta in 2004, and we decided to hold off on having children for a year because both our fathers passed that year and we needed some time to grieve. By May 2006, we were pregnant and our beautiful daughter was born in January 2007. We knew we wanted another child, but wanted to move to Denver first. We vacationed there in 2005 and fell in love with its outdoor beauty and laid back lifestyle. We sold our home and became Denver residents by the summer of 2008.

By 2010, we were settled in our new home and had adjusted to our new roommate, my mother-in-law who moved in with us after selling her home in Michigan in 2009. It was finally time to get pregnant again. It was easy the first time so it should be just as easy with No. 2, right? Not so much.

Over the next 15 months, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage and then another ectopic pregnancy. With each loss, I had to go through extensive medical treatments and procedures. All three sucked in their own way, each with its share of physical and emotional pain.

After the miscarriage, we decided it was time to see a specialist. My OB-GYN recommended we see Dr. Michael Swanson at Conceptions. He knew so much about infertility that Barry and I left the first appointment completely speechless, but in a good way. I’ve never seen a doctor get so excited about preparing a couple for their “game plan” as if it was his first. It was refreshing.

And so the tests began – bloodwork, ultrasounds, X-rays and more bloodwork. I began to feel like my girly parts were a part of a freak show. I imagined J.D. from “Scrubs” was the show host, leading guests through the tour that started at my vagina and moved through my ovaries and fallopian tubes. “You came at a great time, ladies and gentlemen,” he would say. “We’ll have to close off this spectacular show next week because we haven’t learned how to split the Red Sea yet (aka my menstrual cycle)!” As he winked, the guests looked at him like he was a freak, which in this case, he was.

Barry’s tests were easy compared to my spread-eagle-in-stirrups escapes. All he had to do to was spend a few minutes watching a porno movie while sitting on a comfortable couch in a private room. He even had a back door he could sneak out of when he was done. I imagine a neon sign above that door flashing, “Nude Gurlz Here! It’s the Back Door of a Fertility Clinic, No One Will Ask!”

The verdict was pretty simple: I have older eggs and Barry has some funky-shaped sperm. Luckily, we didn’t have other issues like my uterus lining was too thin, Barry’s sperm was slow or my uterus being a “hostile environment.” The reality is, while we can get pregnant, our plumbing doesn’t run as smoothly as they did when our daughter was born. Knowing we can still get pregnant should be comforting, right? In some ways, yes, but in other ways, not being able to stay pregnant is heartbreaking.

After much consideration, we’ve now decided to try IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization. If you’re not familiar with the process, here’s a quick synopsis. I have to take medication to grow follicles (or the eggs) and Barry has to go watch another porno movie. Once I have enough follicles, they will be extracted and injected with Barry’s sperm in hopes one healthy egg develops. Once the egg matures, it will then be injected back into me. After that, we can only hope the pregnancy goes full-term.

So, my IVF journey has now begun, although it feels more like I’m hiking a rocky mountain in winter wearing only sandals and a T-shirt than a journey. We have no idea what will happen, but we’re willing to take a shot, and not just the one I shoot in my stomach. That’s an IVF joke…

We all know the poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” where we learned that the basics of sharing, washing your hands and cleaning up after ourselves were taught to us early in life. But lately, I’m realizing that my 4-year-old is learning some pretty important lessons before she has hit that milestone. In the process, she has taught me a thing or two about debunking myths, letting go of perfection and seeing the beauty in the a-symmetrical. Here are a few of those lessons.

When you love, you’re never alone. To be honest, I used to worry about Maya being alone because she’s an only child. As the younger of two children, I always had my older sister to play with, or nag, whenever I wanted. Ironically, I’m married to an only child and many of my closest friends are only children. Somehow though, those myths of only children being selfish and incapable of being empathic got lodged into my brain. I didn’t want Maya to fall into one of those myths, as if children with siblings were superior somehow and didn’t have myths of their own.

Then, the other day after preschool, I watched Maya line up a group of her stuffed animals, grab a chair and began reading one of her favorite books to them. Of course, she didn’t know the words, but she told a delightful story about a little girl and her friends who went to a park to play. She smiled and lovingly looked at each animal as she read the story. It didn’t matter to her that they weren’t real. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t talk or move around like real kids. All that mattered was that they were her friends and she was their friend. She was not alone. All those fears I had suddenly diminished because I realized that while she may not have a little brother or sister around, she could share and love just like any other kid, and perhaps even more so.

Accidents happen, even to parents. Maya asked me to color a picture with her in one of her favorite coloring books the other night after dinner. I was coloring a dog with a blue marker when I accidently went “over the line” and got the blue mixed in with the pink nose I colored a few minutes earlier. I immediately stopped and said, “Oh uh. I went over the line, Maya. I’m sorry.” I sat and waited for my punishment. After all, parents know better than to go over the lines, right? Aren’t we supposed to show our children the right way to do things?

To my surprise, she said without hesitation, “That’s OK, mommy. As long as you didn’t mean do it. ccidents happen.” I about fell out of my chair. It’s taken me almost 39 years to understand this one life lesson. My parents weren’t perfectionists, but I inherited the gene somehow and had been striving for it since I can remember. In our quest for perfection, we can easily forget that we’re not perfect and, more importantly, never will be. Luckily, there are 4 ½-year-olds around to share this wisdom with us on a regular basis.

Embrace perfection within the imperfection. One of our holiday traditions is to avoid the shopping crowds and put up decorations over the Thanksgiving weekend. This year, Maya got to decorate her very own, and very pink, Christmas tree. I watched in awe as she carefully placed each of her ornaments and the gold ribbon around the tree, talking to herself as if rationalizing each step she made in the decorating process. The finishing touches included a piece of gold garland from Grandma’s tree and a piece of blue ribbon from our tree that lay ever so gently at the top and middle of her tree. I imagined her as an artist, wearing a purple beret and using her best French accent as she spoke. With her head tilted to one side, she would step back, put her index finger over her mouth and then shout, “No, no, it needs more, more I say!”

As she finished her masterpiece, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, isn’t it beautiful!” I said, “It sure is,” even though its little imperfections were bringing out the control freak in me. All I wanted to do was to fix it so each side was even and symmetrical. I kept telling myself, “If I could just move this ornament here and that ornament over there, her tree would then be perfect.” That afternoon when Maya was taking her nap, I walked over to the tree and planned to fix it. Luckily, the mommy inside punched the control freak right out of me as I suddenly remembered the joy that this imperfect tree gave my daughter. She was so proud of her creation. How could I mess with that? How could I explain to her that her joy was unwarranted because it wasn’t symmetrical? I now understand what people mean when they say embrace perfection within the imperfection and have no plans to change anything about that magnificent tree.

That magnificent Christmas tree!

While I may never completely let go of my inner control freak, my daughter is teaching me that there is a time and place for it. I can only imagine what other lessons she has in store for me as she grows older.

Sound familiar? What life lessons are you learning from your children?

Dear Oprah,

Thanks to you, I have found a new TV addiction. It’s not ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, A&E’s Hoarders or even TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Instead, it’s OWN’s Oprah’s Lifeclass. Maybe this show touches me because I’m in a place in my life where I’m looking to fill my time with inspiration instead of watching things that turn my brain off. Maybe it’s because I’ve missed you since “The Oprah Winfrey Show” ended. After all, I’m a Gen Xer whose daily afternoon routine growing up included the long-running talk show. Whatever the reason, I’m hooked.

While other shows on OWN feature our favorite media maven like “Master Class,” they don’t capture the essence of you, our teacher, leader and friend the way “Lifeclass” does. For instance, in “Newton’s Third Law,” you gave us an opportunity to understand how the energy we give out to the world comes back to us, both positively and negatively. In another episode, “You’ve Always Had the Power,” we learned that Glenda the Good Witch from “The Wizard of Oz” had it right all along – we’ve always had the power, we just have to figure it out for ourselves. And, I could go on and on…

Each lesson from the show reminds me of life’s most important lesson – I can live my best life. This has never resonated with me more than it has over the past year as I went through several jobs, suffered two miscarriages and missed out on many family moments. It wasn’t until after the second miscarriage – that “roadblock” I mentioned in an earlier post – that this life lesson really hit like a ton of bricks. With the love and support from friends and family, I’ve been able to see life differently. I’m on a good path, but still have more work to do. “Lifeclass” is my regular dose of ways to stay on this path. Judging by the show’s ratings, webcasts views and Facebook likes, it’s clear I’m not the only one who looks forward to our dose.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” was your child, the place where you grew up, learned a gazillion lessons and shared your mistakes with us, “Lifeclass” is the place where you take what you’ve learned and wrap it up into one hour of wisdom and love, like a grandparent sharing advice with a grandchild over ice cream on a hot summer’s day. No one can remind us that love is available to us if we let it more than you.

We all know you wanted to slow down when you decided to end your daily talk show, and, who could blame you? You were ready for change and more personal time. But, as you know, we are living in unprecedented times. If there’s one thing we need right now it’s a calm, loving voice to remind us that everything will be OK.

So once again, you’ve given us more than we’ve given you. Thank you for seeing the need to share more. Thank you for helping us love in a whole new way. Thank you for giving us the chance to learn how to live our best lives.

 

 

Ever since the NFL season got back on track this year, there seems to be an interesting fanaticism around certain players. Perhaps this is typical during pre-season, but it has an extra sting lately. The player of choice here in Colorado is Tim Tebow, Broncos (now) No. 2 quarterback and former University of Florida quarterback. Being a Florida native and UF alumnus, I am a Tebow fan (of his game and I must admit of his Jockey ads too). I watched in amazement as he brought an entire stadium to its feet just by the mention of his name at his very first game. I watched him win the Heisman Trophy with grace, take full responsibility for his team’s losses the following year and regularly and publicly pronounce his religious beliefs. But, after watching the news and social media networks rip him up last week, I quickly learned that he’s not everyone’s favorite.

Apparently, people either love him or hate Tebow with the same fanaticism typically seen by NASCAR fans. Take a look at these recent tweets:

Tim tebow will never be a good nfl player end of story.”

“Stop hatin on TIM TEBOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Tim Tebow has something most people dont.HEART.Those who say “it cant be done” are usually watching those who are Doing it. #realtalk”

“you know youre a bad football team when Tim tebow is your 2nd best quarterback”

“LeBron James & Tim Tebow: Which Disappointing Star Will Win a Ring First?”

“Can somebody please tell me why everybody is hating on Tim Tebow? He is only in his second year!”

“I fear what the Tea Party will do when they find out Tim Tebow lost his starting QB job in Denver.”

As I watch this love/hate relationship with Tebow unfold, I began to wonder what is it about this guy that brings out such emotion in people. Could it be that he was so hyped up during his college career that people are just plain tired of him? Sure. Could it be that Coloradoans just don’t get college football like we Southerners do? Maybe. Could it be that Tebow has been compared to John Elway, causing diehard Elway fans to dart the evil eye at this sophomore quarterback? Certainly. Any of these could be a reason. I think it’s much deeper than any of these though. I believe it is the strong tie between Tebow’s talent and his religion that sparks such emotion.

Generally speaking, football, like many religions, has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. Fanatics tend to only love one team and/or player who they deem immortal and perfect. If the team wins, God was sure to be watching. The fanatic’s days of worship culminate mostly over the weekend and they repent in hopes of a fresh new start on Monday. They dress up (or down, depending how you look at it) for each game, only their teams’ colors will do. They give money to their alumni associations and seek out their team’s local clubs in search of camaraderie. At the end of every game, they feel tremendous joy or immense pain.

Since football and religion have a tendency to bring out the fanatical in people, it is easy to see how Tebow can be the center of this emotion. Love him or hate him, I believe he excels at his sport as well as his religion. It’s true other athletes have publicly addressed their religious beliefs, but Tebow’s approach is different. He doesn’t just thank God for his wins. He wears it on face, spends summers during missionary work and even starred in a Pro-life Super Bowl ad with his mother. He discusses religion as regularly as his football practices and no one seems to care. Or do they? Could it be that his love for his faith as well as his sport is a toxic combination for fans? Could it be that this combination brings out the best and worst in people in a whole new way?

Some people like Gregg Doyel from CBSSport.com aren’t quite comfortable with Tebow’s blatant use of religion. But, I wonder, do fans love him for his sport, his faith or both? Will his fans love him if he doesn’t succeed? Will they praise him and God if he does? Does it really matter? After all, he’s just a quarterback, who happens to be very religious.

photo credit: zastavki.com

If I had known 2011 was going to be my year for self-discovery, I would have planned a little better. Perhaps things like turning 39 later this year, struggling with having baby No. 2, getting invited to my 20-year high school reunion and watching the final season of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” were all signs I ignored. Before I knew it, I ran smack into a roadblock that forced me to shift into a whole new direction. Suddenly, the road I was taking just stopped. I had no idea which way to go or how the hell to find a new road. It’s taken me a little while to get back on track, but I have realized some things along with the way that I’d like to share with you.

Forgive yourself.

We make mistakes our entire lives. Some mistakes can be easily forgotten like cheating on an algebra test in high school (don’t judge…you did it too!). Some are not like marrying the wrong person at a young age or accepting a job where you had to work with the worst-boss-ever. Others are too painful to say out loud. Whatever the mistake, no matter the heartache from it, forgive yourself. You forgave your best friend in college for ruining your favorite silk skirt, right? Why don’t you give yourself a break and do the same? It’s not easy, but you can let go. When you do, you will feel liberated and see your future in a new whole way.

Learn from your parent’s mistakes.

If you looked up parenting in the dictionary, you would never find the word “perfect” as part of the definition or even as a synonym. Parents make mistakes, just like the rest of us. They didn’t (or still don’t) always have the skills needed to help you through the happiest or saddest times in your life. Instead of spending time holding grudges, ask your parents why they made the mistakes they did. This doesn’t mean forget about the mistakes they made particularly if those mistakes are hurtful to you, but rather learn from them as you embark on your own life’s journey. For instance, I never thought I could own a business because my dad’s company failed. I finally asked my mom questions recently about why it failed and realized that his mistakes don’t have to be my mistakes. Because I asked, I now feel I can make my dream of business ownership a reality.

Suck it up and meditate.

“I can’t shut my mind off long enough to meditate. Who has time to sit quietly for that long? Every time I try to meditate, I just fall asleep.” Sound familiar? Those were my exact words anytime someone tried to convince me to meditate or read an article about the power of the practice. It wasn’t until earlier this year when I couldn’t sleep or think clearly that I realized I could meditate. It’s still true that I can’t sit for hours in order to find clarity. However, I have found that practicing colour therapy meditation, a form of chakra yoga, and listening to meditation music from iPhone’s Ambiance app is a dynamite duo for me. Don’t be afraid to explore different ways of meditation. Once you learn to do it, you’ll never look back.

Laugh.

Watch your favorite comedy movie. Go see a comedian or improv performance at your local theatre. Sing a Justin Bieber song out loud in your car and laugh at yourself afterwards (don’t judge…you do it too!). Laugh with your kid about anything. Go out with friends and laugh about your day. Whatever it takes, just laugh. And don’t just chuckle. Laugh until you snort and almost pee your pants. Laugh so loud that others around can hear. There’s something about laughter that heals the soul. You deserve a good laugh. We all do.

Bottom line, peeps…life is too short. Like you, I’ve made mistakes and like you, I’ll continue to make mistakes. Instead of blaming karma or my parents, I now look inside to find the lesson learned from every situation. Today, I see my life as a whole new road trip. The universe helped me find great people and the strength to help me do just that.  I have amazing, loving people in my life who support me in my new adventures and laugh with me (and at me when appropriate). I started my own PR consulting business. I meditate daily and am always looking for new ways to get better at it. I don’t look back anymore. I only look forward at the new road ahead. Wanna join me?

Summers aren’t like they used to be when you were a kid. As an adult, you don’t get to embrace the season by enjoying the sun, drinking homemade lemonade while sitting on the front porch, watching daytime programs and sleeping in most mornings. But, this year, I got the chance to have fun and learn a little more about myself. Now that summer has ended and the temperatures are about to drop (we hope), I’ve had a chance to reflect on all I’ve accomplished. While I’m sad to see summer go, I’m very excited to see what the next chapter of my life has in store for me. Here are a few highlights from the summer.

…There is a season, turn, turn, turn…
At the end of July, I was laid off from my job. I shared my story recently on the PRSA Colorado Chapter Blog and haven’t looked back since. Thanks to friends and colleagues from the PRSA and Denver communities like @irant, @greeblemonkey, @sandyhens, @gtrupin, @caracrifasi, @crazycanuckblog and @gpelz, I was able to keep my chin up and find a new job pretty darn quickly. I’m going back to my agency roots, and I never thought I would be this excited about it. Well, I think getting the chance to get some new “school supplies” has helped that a bit (who doesn’t want shiny new pens, planner and notebooks, right?!).

A new job also means a new daycare for Maya. I know many parents go through changing schools, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. She’s also moving from a Montessori daycare to a more structured learning environment. I don’t think either way of teaching children is better than the other, but for many reasons, this move is best for our family. I’m sure she’ll be just fine. It’s me I’m worried about.

Hangin’ with the fam
This summer was filled with lots of family time. It started with a trip to Steamboat Springs with us and my mom and sister from Florida. We rented a house and spent a lot of time together taking hikes, eating at Mazzola’s and watching Molson and Montana chase after birds from the porch. We’ve never spent that much time together and I’m proud to say no one was harmed during this experiment.

We also got a chance to hang out with other family members during the Fourth of July weekend. Before we moved here more than two years ago, I found out that I had cousins in the Denver area on my mom’s side. I try to get together with them every chance I get because they are a lot of fun and a big part of my heritage. The picnic was a wonderful time to celebrate the ups and downs of life, new beginnings and good old-fashioned outdoor fun.

The greatest thing about this summer was getting the chance to spend a lot of time with Maya. I kept her home from daycare quite a bit so we could play together. Who knows if I’ll ever get the chance to do this again, right? We took swim lessons, trips to the beach – Colorado style, of course – made many visits to Target, explored new restaurants, watch movies and most importantly, gave each other a million hugs and kisses. This alone made the summer of 2010 the best summer of all!

Believe it or not, a brown thumb can be cured
Since I can remember, I have killed every plant and flower I’ve ever had. Even the easy ones like Peace Lilies and Spider Plants would die within weeks of me caring for them. I tried last summer to grow a tomato plant and got one…the size of a nickel. This summer I got serious about it. I bought a gazillion types of plant food, fertilized with drought-tolerate soil and hoped for the best. The efforts paid off with a schweet summer garden in the backyard, geraniums that haven’t stopped blooming and an amazingly fragrant rose bush at the front door. I even have a tomato plant with more than 12 tomatoes growing on it (I cheated and used the Topsy Turvy, but still). While growing flowers and plants won’t solve the world’s problems, it reminded me I can accomplish a lot with patience and a little extra care. It’s easy to forget the need for TLC in the 24/7 lifestyle we live in these days.


Summertime fun
The biggest event of the summer was Maya’s swim party in August. Her birthday is in January and we never get the chance to have an outdoor celebration for her. So, we decided to do something big for her this year. I knew we would have fun, but I never expected to have as much fun as we did. Guests included some of Maya’s classmates, neighbors, family and friends. We had a big pool and bubbles and our neighbors brought over a bouncy-thing (that’s the technical term for it) as well as a slide. There was tons of food and sunshine for everyone to enjoy. Just look at that smile – it says it all!

Other fun things we did include the Rocky Mountain Gator Club picnic, Taste of Colorado, Fourth of July parade in Highlands Ranch, meeting the mermaids at the Denver Aquarium and a trip to Mount Evans to see the mountain goats. Barry and I also got the chance to take some hikes we’ve wanted to do since we moved here. From Fish Creek Falls, Blue Lake and Chief Mountain, we enjoyed exploring parts of Colorado we hadn’t seen yet. And, as you can see from the photo, the dogs enjoyed themselves as well.

Getting to know the gubernatorial candidates
At the end of the summer, I was invited to attend a debate between the candidates running for Governor by the Denver Post’s Mile High Mamas. Out of the three candidates running, only John Hickenlooper and Dan Maes showed up. I’m guessing most people there weren’t too upset about that. The debate focused on a variety of children’s issues including education, obesity and healthcare. They also discussed the overall fiscal health of Colorado. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect because the political system across the nation is in such turmoil and I assumed Colorado was no different. However, I walked away from it with new friends and a new understanding of the issues the state is facing. It also gave me a much-needed nudge to learn about the current legislative proposals as well as the platforms for which each candidate is focused on this election year. While only Dan Maes took time to visit with the attendees after the debate, I’m still undecided. I need to do some more research before I vote.

Overall, I would say this was an awesome summer. I was certainly given my share of punches, but I’m a believer of getting right back up once you’ve been knocked down. I’m looking forward to seeing what the fall has in store. I’m bummed that I won’t be able to spend as much time with my family as I have in these past few months, but am OK with not spending my days yelling at the dogs to quit barking. I also just bought some fall mums so I’m hoping to keep the green-thumb streak going. Wish me luck!