Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Divorced Moms: The Opposite of Love is... Passionless Indifference

My latest on Divorced Moms. The opposite of love isn't hate... it's indifference. Wow, epiphany moment. And isn't that the truth, from my own cache of experiences. Here goes. (And shout-out to Alan for his insight and words of wisdom. I love connecting with my readers! Best part of writing, I gotta say.)

The Opposite of Love is... Passionless Indifference
by Lizzy Smith                     
September 30, 2014
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My close friend, “Beth,” and her boyfriend, “Mitch,” dated for over two years. They had a terrible breakup that included allegations of cheating, lying, emotional abuse and a whole lot more. The police were called, a strict no-contact order was put into place, and mutual friends were forced to pick sides. One was either Team Beth or Team Mitch, there was no gray, no neutral zone.

Beth hated Mitch. She talked about him often, she swore up and down that he was the most awful guy on the planet, and she went to great lengths to ensure that everyone knew it. Mitch wasn’t a whole lot better. There was a reason he was an awful boyfriend, he told his supporters, and that was because Beth was a horrible girlfriend. She was selfish and didn’t give him the attention he was entitled to. Beth was the ultimate nag and he was glad to be rid of her.

Several months later, Beth got a call from the police while she was grocery shopping. Mitch wanted the no contact order lifted so that they could communicate again. Beth was floored. Sure, it was fine if Mitch wanted to contact her again but no way in hell would she ever reconcile with that asshole, she told the police. A few hours later, Mitch called Beth. She didn’t take the call but she did text him and, oh my, the texts were awful. Plenty of accusations flew between the two of them. When Beth showed me her phone and I read them myself, it left me breathless. Ouch.

After several days of texting, Beth and Mitch decided to meet up and have it out in person. They went to a restaurant and for the next two hours, the conversation got quite animated and loud. Beth said they might have caused a scene, though she was so focused on the interaction between the two of them that she failed to notice anything else. She did say that at one point she knocked her drink over. Beth drove home in tears, shaking. Did the meet-up provide much-needed closure and comfort? No, said Beth, it was awful and she wished she hadn’t gone at all. She felt dark inside and in need of a shower.

Keep reading...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Divorced Moms: Single Moms and Flu Season. Foods to Charge Our Immune Systems

My latest article on Divorced Moms. Flu season is here and I am endlessly obsessed with my health. I'd write more but I'm packing for a trip and I'm way behind schedule. I leave in the morning on a jet plane to exotic Kansas City, whoohoo! Actually I am very much looking forward to it. I will miss my girls very much but I will be in great company. More details when I get back. Cheers, dear readers, and stay healthy and eat right!

Single Moms And Flu Season. Foods To Charge Our Immune Systems
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 24, 2014
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As single moms, getting sick not only sucks, but it’s really hard to manage kids, job, and yourself. The best option is to, well, just not get sick in the first place. Well, first, there are no guarantees that we'll never get sick, no matter how much we try. That said, there is still a whole lot we can do on our end to give our bodies is maximum ability to fight of germs and disease. And one easy place to start is what we put in our mouths. Since we all eat and drink throughout the day, making good choices is critical.

So I did my research and made my list of the most potent "superfoods" out there when it comes to boosting the immune system. Sure, eating healthy in general is good. But there are “good” foods, and then there are “great” foods. And then there are teas and spices that help, too.

Personally, I’m not a big meat eater, to be honest, but I’m a huge fan of seafood and fish and there’s plenty of those to keep me satiated. Plus, I can add garlic and grilled veggies, and flavor it with, say, cayenne pepper to make it a super nutritional, immune boosting meal (delicious, too). Add a side of black beans and, wow, I’m hungry just thinking about it.

The bottom line is that there are enough options to keep even the pickiest eaters happy (that includes my children). If there’s something that I hate (and, really, I only hate peas, lima beans, chicken on the bone, and raisins, none of which are on my superfoods list), I’ll pick something else.

Eating out is always my biggest challenge but at almost every restaurant, there are always salads (go light on the dressings; I personally like balsamic vinegar and olive oil), grilled chicken or fish, and steamed veggies. No joke, I went to Cheesecake Factory not too long ago and I ordered steamed broccoli, steamed asparagus, and a side of mashed potatoes that I split with my daughter (ok, I confess—I also split a slice of cheesecake). Actually, my lunch choice was delicious and I was really full before a started in on the cheesecake.

Ok, enough about that. Let’s get to that shopping list. I’ll buy as much organic, farm raised, locally grown stuff as possible. It’s always good to support the healthy foods industry, in my opinion.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

From Divorced Moms: More tales from the dating trenches (from a guy's perspective)

This post makes me incredibly sad. No "snarky" comments about freaky men in the freaky Utah dating trenches. No, not this time! Apparently I am INADVERTENTLY giving off some major vibes to some men that I want commitment and that I'm on the road to falling in love. Because NOTHING explains the fact that I have, once again, dated a guy (in this case ONCE) a time or four (no kissing or sex, or maybe one kiss) who then thinks that I want... I suppose... more? Like A LOT MORE. (Can you tell I am not happy?) I am speechless and devastated. I am examining every interaction, conversation, text, and body language to figure out WTF I am doing wrong. I'm so happy that I'm not dating ever again because this must stop. I'd write a whole lot more but since I wrote about it on Divorced Moms today, you can read it here. Hopefully someone will learn something from my experience. Not sure what that will be but I'm hopeful anyway. Maybe at some point when I can digest this a bit more, I'll have some conclusions, who knows.

From A Guy's Perspective: Lessons Learned From Online Dating
by Lizzy Smith                     
September 22, 2014
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Not long ago, I opened an account on an online dating site. Over a four week period, I communicated with several men and actually met up with maybe ten of them. One was "Andy." We went out once for dinner at a chain restaurant, which lasted about 90 minutes (no kiss at the end, not even on the cheek). It was a nice meet-up and I liked him, as a friend. Turns out, Andy has a chronic illness (not cancer); I have a chronic illness (multiple myeloma). Our health struggles and fight to stay well is one thing we have in common. We mostly talked about his diagnosis, treatments, and symptoms. He was flying out to another state a few days later for an experimental procedure and I was fascinated by it. We also talked plenty about my health, too. Afterwards, I gave him a hug and drove away and cried. Health struggles suck. When I got home, I texted him: You're a rock star. Be well and keep me posted.
In all honesty, I knew that even if Andy and I were a match made in heaven, we could never date seriously. Two people with health struggles would be a disaster. If it happens once you're already committed, that's one thing; purposely "going there" is entirely another. Life is already so complicated, at least for me (and him).  
Six days after our one and only date, I texted Andy with well-wishes for his upcoming trip and procedure. I also said that while we couldn't date, I hoped we would remain friends and fellow-supporters. Andy's response to that text shocked me. He was hurt, angry and devastated. Like crying devastated. What?!? He had grand plans for our future together and he wasn't happy about it. Here we are three days later and I am still scratching my head over this. I am literally stunned and very sad. Nonetheless, Andy followed up with a guest article about dating from a guy's perspective. While I disagree with a whole heck of a lot of his thought process (actually pretty much all of it), I still think it's an interesting read and I hope you will, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Divorced Moms: 10 Fall Fashion Trends I Can't Live Without

From Divorced Moms, this column is about one of my favorite subjects: fashion and clothes! One of the most exciting things to happen to me in a long time was going to DSW over Labor Day. That had a crazy sale and I purchased nine pairs of new shoes. It made me happy for, like, nine hours-- about one hour per pair of shoes. I thought that not a bad thing. Ok, so I am at the point now where wearing my summer clothes is just not right. It's been so hot here and I'm wearing my sundresses and shorts and I'm just over it! I love complaining about the weather, why is that?

And while I'm thinking about clothes, I have a few fun trips coming up. I am going to a family wedding with William in Kansas City that is supposed to be spectacular. In October, the girls and I are going to Long Beach for five days. And in December, I am going to San Francisco to attend the American Society of Hematologists (ASH) annual conference and convention where I can learn more about the future of treatment for those of us struggling with hematological diseases and conditions, and then I will write about them. I am on a mission. Not sure what that mission is but I am on a quest to find meaning, love and fulfillment.

Now let's get back to the fun stuff: shoes, clothes, jackets and bags. Big smile here.

10 Fall Fashion Trends I Can't Live Without
by Lizzy Smith                     
September 18, 2014
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A few weeks ago, I went through my closet and purged. It wasn't easy but if I hadn't worn something in two years, it became a Goodwill donation. Four enormous trash bags later, I have lots of extra space to fill. So as not to get distracted when I hit the shops, I made a list of items that I can't live without. Here goes.

1. Skinny Jeans
 dm skinny jeans.png
I absolutely love skinny jeans and if they ever go out of style, I'll be wearing them anyway. They are so comfy, go well with any top, and I'm not sure there's a shoe that doesn't work well with them, from boots to flip-flops. You can find a pair to fit any budget, from $20-$200. I have some from Old Navy, Banana Republic and Nordstrom. Personally, my favorite pair are J Brand.

2. Boots
 DM boots2.png
I am obsessed with boots in all styles and colors. Besides summer, I wear them all year long. They are warm and stylish. I don't own a pair yet like the ones pictured here but I'm on a quest.

3. Necklace
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Personally, I am not a fan of chunky necklaces simply because after a few hours, they make my neck ache. That said, a long simple necklace is one of my favorite accessories and I wear one almost every day. I've picked them up from Old Navy to The Loft to vintage shops. I have them draped on a cute hook in my bedroom so they never get tangled up and they're easy to find.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tales from the Dating Trenches: How a potentially "cool" guy ruined it for me (in just a few texts)

Dating Rule #1: Never appear too desperate because the person on the other end of that just might think you're a (future) stalker.

Such is the story of "Sam." I feel bad even writing about Sam because he is so nice. But then again, so was my stalker Jay. Just a little recap on the Jay story. Jay was the first guy I dated post split from my husband. I was in the midst of my stem cell transplant and I was in my full glory of wearing wigs, false eyelashes, and drawing my eyebrows in with a charcoal pencil. I have to say, fake eyelashes and wigs looked great on me. They weren't comfortable, though. Jay knew all about my health and treatments and he didn't care. Long story short, Jay would not leave me alone. He brought groceries to my house, showered me with gifts, and called and texted me all the time. When I asked him to go away, he followed me around Salt Lake City. It freaked me out. Problem is, I accidentally led Jay on. I vowed never to do that again.

So let's go back to Sam. I wrote about him maybe a month ago and I called him Butterfly Man. I was really excited about Sam. We started texting and calling each other every day and having a date once a week. He had daughters the same age as mine and he was really warm and fun. The last date we had was a little... odd. I was at my daughter's soccer game and Sam wanted to come. Except he had to work late, which was fine. I texted him that the game was almost over and I could drop off my daughter at home and just meet him at a restaurant. But no, he wouldn't hear of it. He ended up desperately trying to find the field we were at and got there minutes before the game ended. It was awkward and would have been much easier if he had just met me at a restaurant. He was on his Harley and he followed me to drop off Siena. I had him park his motorcycle in my friend's garage so kids in the neighborhood weren't tempted to play on it and he got in my car and we drove to a restaurant. The rest of the evening was fine and we kissed for the first time after our date. I wasn't that hip on the kiss but, ok, whatever-- it was just a first kiss. I was still excited about him.

The next day, he went to Puerto Rico for a week with a buddy. And then the texts started. I'm giving you just a sample.

Sam: I had to pull over to tell you that I'm crazy about you.
Me: Really? That's awesome. I am too ;) Have a fab trip, lucky man.
Sam: I'm going to miss you like crazy! I loved kissing you.
Me: Sucks we won't see each other for almost 2 weeks but we will get thru it.

Next day...

Sam: I hate the idea of not seeing you for 2 weeks. BTW I loved our kiss. Puerto Rico would be so much more fun with you. I might be lame but I find myself thinking about you all the time. Sure miss you!
Me: :)
Sam: Sure miss you babe. You never said if you liked our first kiss.
Me: :) I'm sure I did tell you...

... At this point, it's getting a little too much and I don't know what to say anymore. This is how I'm feeling...

Sam: Text me some more photos of you
Me: Here you go. But I'd rather see photos of you in Puerto Rico
Sam: Holy cow! You are beautiful. It's amazing here but I am constantly thinking about you. xoxoxoxo
Oh geez. I don't respond. Next morning.
Sam: I miss you too much! I'd rather be here with you. How are you this morning beautiful?
Me: Hi there. I'm driving in the mountains. Little reception. Later
Sam: I can't wait to see you babe! I miss your beautiful face so much. I forgot to tell you that I think you are beautiful. I can hardly wait to see you and kiss you again!!!
Me: :)
But in reality, this is how I'm feeling:
A few more days of more of the same and I'm responding less and less to the texts. 
Sam: Since I haven't told you recently but I think you are beautiful and I REALLY like you!
Me: Awe shucks :) You tell me how much you miss me but I know nothing about your trip
Sam finally gives me some details and ends it with this: I just keep thinking how much ore fun it would be if you were here with me! Darn I miss you even more than I thought I would
At this point, I realize that I am never going to see Sam again. I'm so done and annoyed. Talk about ruining a relationship via text. Aaaaargh!!!! And these texts keep going on and on and on and at this point, I'm barely responding anymore. Sam gets back to Salt Lake City and tries to line up dates, none of which I accept. Finally he's starting to tell it's done.
Sam: Hi honey. Hope your day is going great! I feel like I'm hounding you. You'll tell me if I'm getting on your nerves won't you?
I'm feeling... bad, sad, like I've let him on. Wishing I didn't want him to go away. Wishing I was flattered and happy and exciting but I'm not. I am wishing that he would LEAVE ME ALONE.
I don't respond. First, this came when I was really sick two weeks ago and I didn't have the energy for it. And my brain wasn't working well and I couldn't come up with a nice way to tell him I wasn't interested at all anymore.
Sam: Hi Lizzy. I hope this text finds you feeling better. I'm disappointed that I haven't heard back from you but I understand. Good luck and I certainly hope you get well soon. Sam
Me: I'm sorry. I really have been sick and haven't known how to say anything. I was very excited about the possibility of dating. But when you were in Puerto Rico the texts did get to be too much.  I know you didn't mean it to be and at first they were sweet but then it was... searching for the word. and it made me uncomfortable. Does that make sense? Not being eloquent. And I'm sorry for the silence but my brain is still very slow.
Sam: No worries, sorry I made you uncomfortable. Good luck. If you ever feel like going out again, just let me know. I certainly didn't mean to pressure you. I was just excited to have finally met someone I was excited about.  I was just trying to make sure you knew I was interested. Sorry about the discomfort I caused you when you were already sick.
Awe... Maybe...
Me: It's ok. You're really super kind. Let me recover and regroup and we'll go from there
Sam: Perfect! I'll just wait to hear from you
Sam: Don't forget!
OMG! GO AWAY I wanted to scream. I don't respond. Next day...
Sam: Hi Lizzy. Just checking to see how you are feeling. Miss you!
Silence from me. Next day...
Sam: Hi gorgeous! Just wondering how you were feeling. You up for a movie one night next week?
Silence from me. Next day...
Sam: Lizzie, when I first met you, I was completely smitten. You were smart, funny and sexy as hell. The more time we spent together, the more I liked you. I'm not sure what I did that put you off but for whatever it is I'm truly sorry. I really thought you liked me and that we might have had a chance at a great relationship. Good luck. You are a remarkable woman.
Me: I did like you! And then it got too much. The compliments were sweet at first and then it was overboard. I didn't know how to respond anymore. A few days ago I asked you to give me time to feel better and we would go from there. And the next day it started up again. You're very kind and nice but I don't know what to do with that level of interest
Sam: Sorry I just like to know where I stand. I can be patient. I will wait for you to feel better. Sorry for the pressure. I'm not normally like that. Let me know if you might be interested in the future.
I am silent. A few hours later...
Sam: I just got a little excited. Forgive me?
Me: Sam please!!! There is nothing to forgive. You are nice. But I'm overwhelmed. You've done thing wrong. But for me, it is too much! For someone else, it might be fine
It's been a week and I haven't heard from Sam. I feel like a led on a really nice guy. And I'm so frustrated because had Sam not been so "in my face" I might have learned to really like him and then all those compliments would have been the best thing ever. But when I only kissed Sam once, and it wasn't even a great kiss, and I saw him just four times for very casual dates, it was too much. In fact, I would wonder how he could miss me when I only saw him once a week?
Desperation is never a good trait, at least not for me. The lessons we learn as we are in the dating trenches.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Divorced Moms column: This single mom's version of hell? The dreaded homework packet

No joke, the number one reason I was dreading the start of a new school year? Homework! In all honesty, I hate homework! And today, I am learning to put up boundaries and say no to busy work. Does that make me a bad mom? Well if it does, too bad. My latest on Divorced Moms.

This Single Mom's Version Of Hell? The Dreaded Homework Packet
by Lizzy Smith                     
September 16, 2014
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Fotolia_52595551_XS.jpgSince school started several weeks ago, I’ve quickly come to loathe Mondays because that’s the day Siena, my third grader, comes home with her work for the week. And every time I review what needs to be done, I want to cry. I don't let Siena see my reaction but it's getting harder and harder for me to hide it. For the most part, it takes us about two hours per night (for a nine year old) to get through it all. I say "us" because there is no way she can do it all on her own.

There is a list of ten spelling words (which last week included antenna and antennae) plus five bonus words to memorize, another ten vocabulary words that I often have never heard of, 20 sentences to write, four pages of daily math pages, 30 minutes of reading, and additional worksheets that boggle my mind. Plus each Monday she must make flashcards of each vocabulary and spelling word to take with her to school the next day so the kids can work on them in class, too. The whole thing is utterly overwhelming for Siena and it breaks my heart.

Growing up, I was a good student and graduated from college and built a career. How I managed to do this without spending ridiculous hours doing worksheets and mounds of busy work I’ll never know. Because it appears these days, the mindset is that children won’t learn much unless they spend almost as much time at home working on assignments as they do during the school day. And in the younger grades, all that homework means that the parents are doing it right alongside them. Bonding? Hell no. Maybe I shouldn’t care and just send Siena to her room to do it all on her own but I don’t. Yet offering all that help isn’t always that easy because the math assignments make me want to bash my head into a wall. Case in point: Siena is working on rounding numbers. She can round every single number without a problem. But, wait, that’s not good enough. She has to map out how she got to that rounded number. I have no idea how to help her do it and she doesn’t get it either. So instead of getting perfect scores on her math tests, she’s nearly failing them.

Thanks to homework, our evenings have become dreadful. I too often ignore my 14 year old because I can’t spend hours with my younger daughter, make dinner, do dishes, put laundry away and actually talk to anyone else. As for the daughter I spend almost every minute with, it isn’t helping either. Siena too often goes to be tired and frustrated because there is no break for her. She is mentally exhausted.

Keep reading...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tales from the (Mormon) dating trenches: Goodbye Quasi Lover

Sex and Mormons. It's an interesting mix, especially in the dating world among the devout or "one day want to be devout again, just maybe not now because I'm dating and don't know how to be celibate when dating." From my experience, there are two options when it comes to Mormons and sex, especially among men. There are those who won't have sex prior to getting married again. They want sex all the time, think about it endlessly, and act out in really odd ways because of it. They can't have normal relationships because they are afraid of the whole sex thing. And then there are those who have had sex so if they've had sex with one, they're doomed so might as well have sex with everyone. Honesty and decency is gone because, well, might as well have serial sex with lots because why not? Normal dating in Mormonville is nearly impossible (which is why avoid dating them altogether, by I digress.)

But when one is somewhat new to the dating scene, especially too many women I know who are trusting and who want a physical connection, it is too easy to assume that a decent Mormon guy is on the same page. Making that assumption is a very dangerous mistake. I've dated a bit here in Mormonville and let me tell you, honesty, decency, sex and Mormon guys just don't mix well. So as I share Abby's story, here's the lesson learned from it all: Sex is not a commitment. Assume every guy is screwing around with others so until you have "that talk" assume nothing. And, above all else, be true to yourself. Don't give of yourself until you've vetted your guy out a bit. Or, if you don't, just be prepared, sex is just sex. If that's ok with you, then go for it. If it isn't, proceed with great caution. What gets me, though, is how ordinary, boring and banal many of these guys are. And having met Chuck, I can attest that average is a very good word for him. Yet he obviously fashions himself a ladies' man. Ok, well I suppose above all else, feed that ego! Ok, here is the story from Abby....

Abby, met "Chuck" on LDS Planet. The dated a few times and she was smitten. After several dates, they had a night of passionate lovemaking. He told her that he had really awful sex in his marriage, that he had an affair while married but ended it and stayed with his wife, his entire marriage he was emotionally beaten down, and that he had slept with no one else since his marriage ended. Actually his wife had been his one and only lover, then the woman he had the affair with and then... Abby.

Hmmm.... I am so skeptical of what anyone says. In the Mormon church, men who hold the priesthood and have gone through the Mormon temple to receive their endowments most likely are excommunicated if they have sex outside of marriage. And Chuck is still very much a Mormon guy even if he doesn't go to church as often as he might if he was married. The church is still important to him, so he says. I asked Abby if Chuck felt, well, anything "big" like "Oh my gosh wow that was the best sex ever!" or "I'm stunned, I can't believe I just had sex outside of marriage I am now going to be in BIG trouble with the church" or "Ok sex means something big to me so what is this relationship" or ...

Abby said no. And I thought "guy's a liar. Be very cautious."

Silence for the next two days. Abby called Chuck. They had sex again. But the periods of sex followed by days of silence and no real dates on the horizon were just not good. Abby was confused and hurt. And then Chuck asked her for a real date on a Tuesday. He also told her that he wanted their relationship to be special. While they didn't have a committed relationship per se (it was just too soon), they had a Quasi Relationship. (Seriously, WTF. This guy had so many Bright Red Crimson Flags that I didn't know where to begin.)

Abby and Chuck met up really late on Tuesday night and he forgot his wallet at home. They got in his truck and drove back to his house. Abby waited while he went inside. And then his phone started lighting up again and again. She glanced down. Oh my, there were some major sexts there. Turns out, Chuck was having sex with at least one other woman and there was the proof. Chuck got back in the car, popped in some gum and was ready to go for a great makeout session and who knows what else? But Abby was done. "Chuck, I saw your texts and you are not a good or honest guy. I don't want to ever see you again." (If that had been me, I would have texted the girl back and said something like "hey, I'm having sex with Chuck, too, and we are on a date. Don't worry I'm going to dump his sorry ass in about 2 minutes and he's all yours. Get yourself checked for STDs because me thinks there's more of us out there being played by this deuchebag.")

Chuck was stunned. Dang, men like this hate to be called out. "If that's the way you want it," I finally stammered. Abby got out of his car and that was that. Still, she was hurt. She wrote a letter and gave it to me. She said I could publish. Here it is:

Dear Quasi Lover,

When it comes to us, we have one man being sexually gratified and one woman feeling discarded. One woman made "quasi" love to a man she was crazy about with honest good intentions.

Chuck: After our first night of lovemaking, I asked you what we had. You said that we had a quasi relationship. You made it clear that this wasn't a committed monogamous relationship. It was neither. It was just what was. (Eloquent!) Gee how I wish I had heard those words before we exchanged the most intimate form of love. I drove to your house that evening knowing full well what would happen and at that moment, if I had known what we had was only a "quasi" relationship, I would have turned my truck around. After making love for two hours, you defined it all in one word: quasi. Seemingly, apparently, but not really.

I should not let the past dictate my current decisions. I want a man who wants me sexually and I didn't want the one time fuck. I want a lover who only wants me, my body, who wants to make love again and again. I realize now that I'll never get what I want, what's most important to me, by jumping into bed with a man and just simply trusting him. Giving the man all the intimacy he wants without any of the commitment is just a one-time fuck. And I feel used. I was used. By you.

If we could only going back to enjoying a jar of pickles. To go back to the beginning before things were ruined by sex too soon. Lesson learned the hard way. I want this "quasi" cycle to end with you. Today I am making a commitment to myself: I commit to myself to never again have just sex again. It's pointless in the end and a lot like taking a hit of cocaine. I would never want to feel this pain again. I want to be free of past hurts that drive and justify. Never again.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Divorced Moms: Domestic Abuse & The Ray Rice Story: Inside the Mind of a Victim

Domestic abuse. Sigh. There's a topic that makes me want to cry. Ray and Janay Rice are the latest classic example of abuse, victim mentality, and media mayhem. How and why victims stay with their abusers and how they can possible defend the behavior is complex and varied. It makes no sense to the onlooker but yet it happens every single day. My take via Divorced Moms.

Domestic Abuse & The Ray Rice Story: Inside The Mind Of A Victim
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 11, 2014
Ray rice.jpg
So Baltimore Ravens football star Ray Rice knocks his wife, Janay, unconscious in an elevator. When the door opens, he drags her limp body out of it. While the released video does not include audio, the Associated Press claims that a higher quality version shows the couple screaming obscenities at each other and Janay spitting on Ray before he punches her. The NFL suspended Ray indefinitely. End of a football career? Could be.

And where is Janay in all of this? She’s defending her husband. On Instagram, she wrote: "To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific (sic)." And "no one knows the pain that the media & unwanted opinions from the public has caused my family. [We will] continue to grow & show the world what real love is."

In March, a grand jury indicted Ray on a third-degree aggravated assault charge. A simple assault charge against Janay for attacking Ray was dropped. The two were married the day after the incident occurred (that’s no typo!). A few months later, they spoke to reporters at a press conference.

"I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night," Janay said. "I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself to not only you all, but the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time.”

As I watch and read about this story and talk about it with friends, their comments have ranged from, “Why the hell is she staying?” to “Well she did spit on him…” to “I don’t feel sorry for her. He’s hit her before and she stays so she deserves it.” Having lived and escaped an abusive marriage myself, my feelings are different. I feel deep sorrow. Because no one ever aspires to finding a husband or boyfriend that will beat her. No, it happens on accident and all too often, when it does, the victim feels defensive of anyone who criticizes her mate and powerless to leave him. It’s a very strange position to find yourself in, trust me. And it makes no sense to the onlooker, either.

Keep reading...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Myeloma News: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (like myeloma)

For my myeloma readers. My latest on www.myelomacrowd.org. One more potential breakthrough in treating myeloma, hooray! Progress, big and small, is great. Now crossing fingers that I get approved to attend the ASH conference in December to learn more.

Study: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (including myeloma)

Study: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (including myeloma)


We multiple myeloma patients know anemia all too well—that feeling of extreme fatigue and exhaustion when doing mundane chores, like going grocery shopping or putting laundry away, is often a struggle. When I was severely anemic, simply climbing up the few short steps from my bedroom to the kitchen left me winded and dizzy. It was an awful, debilitating feeling. The reason for feeling this way is because our bodies aren’t producing enough red blood cells to do its job properly. With myeloma, our bone marrow can’t produce new healthy red blood cells so simply increasing our iron levels isn’t a fix (like it would be in an otherwise healthier person). This type of anemia is called “anemia of inflammation.” And currently, the only way to alleviate it is to address its underlying cause, the cancer. (Of course, we all still want to treat our cancer, but finding other ways to address our symptoms is a good thing!)

But new a new option for treating “anemia of inflammation” may be on its way. It doesn’t mean this treatment will “fix” or treat the myeloma, but it may help with the anemia part of it.

An experimental drug designed to help regulate the blood’s iron supply shows promise as a viable first treatment for anemia of inflammation, according to results from the first human study of the treatment published online in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Divorced Moms column: I miss my dad! How sometimes 'moving on' just isn't an option

My latest on Divorced Moms. This one makes me sad.

I Miss My Dad! How Sometimes 'Moving On' Just Isn't An Option
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 08, 2014
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My 14 year old daughter, Morgan, and I got into a huge argument a few nights ago. She accused me of being an endless nag. I accused her of being a self-entitled, spoiled, ungrateful child. And it just went downhill from there. Until she started sobbing, “Mom, I just want a dad. I miss my dad so much. It hurts.” And it was that gut-wrenching sob that no mom ever likes to hear.
My heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. Does anything hurt a divorced mom more than those words? I’m not sure anything quickly comes to mind. I started crying. I talked her into sleeping with me that night and she did. We stayed up way too late talking, and this was good.
“You have no idea how badly I wish things were different, honey. I wish I could change it but I can’t. I wish I had made a better choice when picking men. I am so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I just miss him,” she said.
I know. I see it in her eyes. It’s been really intense lately, those memories of Daddy. While she saw the horrific fights and felt the effects of living in in an alcoholic home, Daddy was the fun one. He expected nothing of substance from any of the children, like doing homework and chores around the house. He was always about fun, going fishing and to Sea World, staying up late, and throwing family parties.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The importance of support and my latest take via Divorced Moms

Today's column has everything for the myeloma community, divorced moms, community, and single mom community!

So it's been four days since catching the flu and I still can't kick it. I eat. My stomach hates me for it. I get up an run and errand. I don't like that either. I can't stop sneezing. I really jinxed myself on this one. The night before I got sick, I told my mom, "It's been three months since I've been sick. This is amazing." As soon as I said it, I knew I made a mistake. When I went to bed, I thought that the worst thing that could happen would be for me to get the stomach flu the next day, which is the same day as my big interview. And guess what? I got the stomach flu the next day, the same day as my big interview. Geez, thanks Stars Up There!

So about the interview. Huntsman has developed a new drug to help stop the side effects from Velcade, like low platelet counts. There is a company in Florida that produces health segments for news programs. They produce, bundle them, sell them to news channels big and small. This is one of them. When my segment will be complete (shouldn't be too long) and who will use it, we will see. But I will keep you posted! There's lots more on my latest Divorced Moms column below. Tomorrow, Jenny and I give a presentation at BYU about myeloma. Community outreach is good.

(Side note: Today is Siena's birthday. She is nine years old. We are going to her favorite restaurant, Tipenyaki, for a late lunch, then having the family over for cake. Her party is on Friday. I am taking five of her besties to get manis/pedis/hair/makeup done and then to dinner. Cute.)

Happy Sunday and happy reading my latest Divorced Moms column about the importance of a support structure. I know all too well we can't got it alone. We need family, friends, neighbors... whatever it takes! (And they need us! Reciprocation is good.)

5 Tips For Creating Your Single Mom Support Structure
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 05, 2014
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As single moms, it’s imperative that we have a good support group around us. Whether it’s a paid nanny, neighbors, church members, a close friend who lives nearby or, thank goodness for me, family-- that support structure is critical in navigating life solo.
So last week, I was asked to do filming for a pre-taped news segment. I woke up Wednesday morning excited and ready for the interview. Except I didn’t feel so great. I somehow managed to get dressed (yay--I picked out what I was going to wear the night prior), and do my hair and makeup. And that’s when I realized that I was getting sick. Not just “I think I might have a sore throat coming on” either. Rather, I felt dizzy and fuzzy, that awful feeling of vertigo. I was hot and clammy. I needed help and I needed it now.

A few texts later, I had the neighbors picking up my children so I could get some extra rest before I had to leave. Except I soon realized that I wasn’t capable of driving myself. I rang my dad and he drove me to the filming while I slept during the drive up. While we were getting off the freeway, I saw a billboard for hamburgers. I thought I was going to be sick. This was not a good sign.
I met up with the film crew. They had the perfect spot for the interview—it was a short walk up a trail overlooking the mountains and standing directly in the sun. I somehow made it up to that spot and while they were setting up, I had to sit on the ground. My whole world was going dark. When I stood up, I almost fainted.
“I can’t do this. I’m so sorry. Can we find some shade and maybe I can sit down while we do the interview?” I asked.

We switched to a much better area where I felt a nice breeze. Relief. I almost wanted to kiss someone but I didn't have the energy. I ran off to the bathroom twice to throw up while they set up. Not one of my better moments, to be sure. I sat down, did the interview perfectly on just one try (or at least that’s what they said!), and then we had to film me doing “stuff” for filler. I had to walk up and down stairs (I seriously hardly remember it because everything was black—I can’t believe I didn’t pass out), walk into a building and open the door, and sit on a bench while using my phone. During that last segment, I started texting myself “please hurry I think I’m dying.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Divorced Moms column: 10 Ways To Stay Cozy During Cooler Temps

My latest on Divorced Moms. Hard to believe that summer is nearly over. Dang, it's still hot outside and, yes, today I am melting. I'm actually looking forward to the change in season.

10 Ways To Stay Cozy During Cooler Temps
by Lizzy Smith
September 01, 2014
Cooler temps are on their way. So how does this divorced mom plan to stay cozy in the months ahead? I’ve already started getting ready!
  1. Heated Mattress Pad. There are few things better than getting into a warm bed. I have always used an electric blanket but one day I went to get a facial and my esthetician had a heated mattress pad and I fell in love with it. I bought one for me and one for my daughter. The heat is awesome—it’s more subtle than a heated blanket and it doesn’t feel as heavy or suffocating to me. I highly recommend one. I purchased my on Amazon for under $50.
  2. Epsom Salts and Essential Oils. 
One of the most relaxing ways to call it a night is with a hot bath. I love to read a good book, soak in some soothing scents, and get warm. So my bath routine includes a big scoop of Epsom salts along with several drops of essential oils into my bath water. My favorites are lavender, lemon, and grapefruit. They are incredibly calming to my stressed out soul. I get my salts at Walmart for just a few dollars a bag. I use Doterra oils (www.doterra.com) because I have yet to find higher quality, more deliciously smelling options anywhere else.
  3. Diffuser. 
While I’m writing about scents, I also diffuse those same essential oils in my bedroom right before going to bed. Yum!

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Running with myeloma - my inspiration

I wrote this article for www.myelomacrowd.org. I am so inspired. This is week 2 of running and training for me. I feel so much better. Walking is not the same as running. I feel so incredibly wimpy on power walks. Sure, they're great but running feels better for me. I hope to get better and stronger -- just a little bit every day. Wish me luck!
Celebrating what’s possible: Myeloma survivor Brian Helstien completes 1,000 days of running

Celebrating what’s possible: Myeloma survivor Brian Helstien completes 1,000 days of running


As a myeloma survivor, one of the things I miss most about pre-illness is running. I used to lace up my shoes and run five miles a day, four to five days a week. But with anemia and treatments and side effects, I don’t feel that I can anymore. One day I was reading through Facebook posts and I saw a fellow myeloma survivor, Brian Helstien of Southern California, share that he had just completed 1,000 days of running continuously. Add to that, while he was in the hospital doing his auto stem cell transplant, he walked the halls and stairs, oftentimes carting his IV along with him, until he had walked the equivalent of an entire marathon over an 18-day period.

I was so inspired and excited! I had to talk to Brian. Maybe he could coach me into being able to run again! So one evening, Brian and I spent quite some time on the phone and I found him fascinating. Hopefully you will, too.

Brian’s story
Brian was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2011. For many years before getting sick, he was an avid runner. From 2004-2009, he literally ran every single day until an intense flu left him bedridden for three solid days. After that, Brian stopped running daily but he chalked it up to lack of strength, stamina and motivation on his part, nothing bigger. Several months later, he went skiing and was winded just walking up a staircase. He knew something wasn’t right. When he got home, he went to a doctor, who ran tests and discovered an M-spike. He was then referred to an oncologist who conducted a whole host of tests where myeloma was discovered.

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