Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why the heck not? My latest on Divorced Moms (and I announced my engagement on Facebook!)

So here is my latest Divorced Moms column. I can expand a little on my blog. I did get lip filler injections. Last month, I Botoxed for the first time. I have heard that when you start doing this stuff, it's addicting. You like the results and you want to do one more thing, then another, and, well... Where do you stop? After Botox, I did want to get one more thing done. I wasn't even sure what, exactly. I can blame this desire on cancer. Why not? I like to blame EVERYTHING on cancer! I hate what it did to me. Actually, it was strange-- during chemo, though I was bald, I had the best skin ever and my wrinkles seemed non existent. But then the Dex took it's toll, eating away at muscle throughout my body and diminishing fast tissue and collagen in my face. Some people on Dex get "moon face", I got "falling face." The Botox gave me a much needed revamp. It was $11 per unit and the total cost was $550 and I need to do this every 3-4 months to keep it up. And I intend to!

I went back to Michelle and we chatted and decided I had 90-year old woman lips. No collagen at all. So she shot me up. It hurt. First she numbed me good like at a dental office. I'm on blood thinners because I take Dex, Velcade, birth control, and Thalidomide, which can all cause blood clots. So this made those injections bleed. Then I got the fillers and it bled and bruised some more. For the next several days, I was bruised and numb and it looked like I had a terrible allergic reaction to a bee sting. I felt exotic and I felt like I looked like someone else. Not sure I was liking it. Total cost was $575 and should last about seven months. These days, though, I think I like a lot!

So now what? I'd love to do a little fillers in my cheekbones but, really, I am 47 years old and I don't want to look like I'm trying to be 30 and my face is frozen and has had too much work. So I think that I'll keep up with what I've done and not add more, with the exception of facials and maybe a chemical peel or two.

Do I recommend it to others? Why not! If it makes you feel good about yourself, go for it. How is it different than coloring hair or wearing mascara?
Liz Lizette Smith Nielsen's photo.
Bee-sting lips


I also need to add another fun thing I've done recently with my whole "Why not?" motto. I posted on Facebook that I'm getting married! In my past marriage, I never posted that I was married or even in  a relationship with Rob. There were no mentions of a husband and not a single photo on my entire Facebook account of a husband or a guy named Rob anywhere to be found. Why is that? I was in a volatile relationship that I wanted OUT OF. Why be proud of that marriage (or him, for that matter)? I found my marriage and my husband shameful and sad. I wanted desperately to pretend that I wasn't married at all. What a difference finding love and happiness, and being in a relationship I'm proud of. I've been posting on Facebook loads of photos with him in it for some time now. And I posted on Facebook when we got engaged. And yesterday, I figured out how to add "engaged" on my timeline. Fun! It's official, and I'm excited about it. Wedding is in October. Stay tuned!

In Park City at the Sundance Film Festival. So fun to be up there!

Anyway, here is my Divorced Moms article. Enjoy! Happy weekend, dear readers.

"Why Not?" This Motto Leads To Fun Life Adventures. Try It!
by Lizzy Smith                    
January 30, 2015
Share on Tumblr
lip fillers.jpg
This photo is of me post lip fillers.
My focus in life changed in a single moment. I heard the words "you have cancer" and life as I knew it vanished. As the same time, I left my husband. I did chemo and divorce simultaneously. I was decimated to nothing and when the dust settled, it was time to rebuild, refocus and recharge my entire life. A new person was emerging and it was time to pick a new life's motto: Why not?
So this question has, of late, led to some new adventures and experiences, of which I'm so grateful. They are...

Sex chat with my teen daughter
"Hey Mom, can I ask you some questions about sex?" my 14-year old daughter asked me just a few days ago.

Why not? (Actually, when it came to this question, it was more of a "HELL YES!" answer.)
When raising children, are these types of conversations among the most important we will ever have with them? I have worked really hard to foster open communication with my daughters when it comes to all things "sex" related. So far, it's working because I really believe that my oldest feels really comfy having those talks with me and I think she's incredibly honest. (My youngest daughter, now nine-years old isn't interested in the topic at all yet.) It was almost 10pm, close to her bedtime but what was more important, sleep or The Talk? The Talk won out.
We got cozy on the couches in the living room and spent the next hour having a very frank discussion. She asked if I had sex before I got married, if I had ever had "horny" feelings for a guy, and what it meant to "feel horny." She has several boys who want her to be their girlfriend and, so far, she's declined them all, though she has several close guy-friends who talk to her about their feelings on sex all the time. She's not ready to "go there" herself (hooray!) and I explained that sex was for later, when she was older, relationship first, and to never confuse a boy who wanted sex with her and a boy who truly liked her. The two are separate.

Anyway, it was an amazing, bonding, fabulous conversation. I suppose we moms need to be ready for the time when our children need to talk to us. We need to put our phones away and listen. Because oftentimes our children need and want to talk with us but we're oblivious to it in our rush to do stuff and connect with others in the cyber world. I'm guilty of it, too. But at least this night, I hit it out of the proverbial ballpark with our chat.

Monster truck show
Years ago, I was living and working in Washington, DC and my close friend and colleague, Tia, went with her husband to a monster truck show. I thought it sounded like the most awful thing ever. Last month, my boyfriend mentioned it. He is not the "monster truck show" kind of guy but he said he's gone before and they were fun. He asked if I wanted to go and take the kids. Why not? I just picked up the tickets and we're going on Friday, February 13! My daughters are ecstatic.

Last month, I got a message from a former colleague. She was moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina for work. "I know you love to travel. Come visit me," she wrote. Why not? I called up my boyfriend. "Let's go to Argentina!" I said. And literally two days later, we purchased our plane tickets. We leave in four weeks. We are going for 10 days, which will include a side-trip for a few days to Montevideo, Uruguay to visit my aunt and uncle who live there. A new part of the world I've never visited.

Keep reading...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's official! I am on the advisory board for the Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative!

I am so excited to be invited to serve on the board of the Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI). This is truly a groundbreaking way patients and doctors alike can find a cure for myeloma. I know a cure is possible and it is imminent. And until then, better treatments aimed at making this disease a chronic illness is happening every day. Here is the press release that just hit the PR Newswire, along with the web site that explains more. Stay tuned for details. This is a biggie!

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI) Adds Four Board Members To Select And Fund Promising Research Aimed At Finding A Cure For Multiple Myeloma

SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — According the the NIH, oncology research funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has remained flat for over a decade. To bridge the gap, the Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI) has formed to select and fund promising research aimed at finding a cure for multiple myeloma, the second most common blood cancer. MCRI will use crowd funding via the Internet and social media to raise funds for this effort. The MCRI board features myeloma specialists, researchers, doctors, and knowledgeable patient advocates who, together, will review submissions that pose the potential for a cure and select individual projects to fund. Today, MCRI announced that it has added four new board members:
  • Dr. Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD, Myeloma Director of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Director of Myeloma, SWOG Chair
  • Dr. Mike Thompson, MD, PhD, ASCO Social Media Work Group, co-founder #mmsm Twitter group
  • Lizzy Smith, myeloma survivor, patient advocate, blogger and writer
  • Cynthia Chmielewski, myeloma survivor, experienced patient advocate, co-founder #mmsm Twitter group
These new members join those currently on the MCRI board: Dr. Noopur Raje, MD, PhD, (Massachusetts General Cancer Center), Dr. Rafael Fonseca, MD (Mayo Clinic Scottsdale), Dr. Ola Landgren, MD, PhD (MSKCC), Dr. Guido Tricot, MD, PhD ( University of Iowa), and Dr. Irene Ghobrial, MD, PhD (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), and patient advocates Pat Killingsworth, Gary Petersen, Jack Aiello and Jenny Ahlstrom.

“Many promising research proposals never make it to the labs due to lack of funding,” said Chmielewski. “Patients and researchers bring different perspectives to treating disease and can now work in collaboration to select promising, innovative ideas."

For more information on MCRI, click here.

Contact:Jenny Ahlstrom
Myeloma Crowd

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative Targeting High-Risk Myeloma
The Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI) is a new approach to funding cancer research; combining the skill and knowledge of leading myeloma specialists with the patient perspective and supportive patient social communities to select and fund promising research projects in myeloma. The goal of the MCRI is to find and fund a cure for multiple myeloma.
Current treatments can extend life for many myeloma patients, however, outcomes for patients with very aggressive genetic features or aggressive relapsed/refractory myeloma are dire. By addressing the most aggressive forms of myeloma, we aim to provide completely new options for the entire patient community. The MCRI will review and select specific projects to fund via a new mechanism called crowdfunding. We will create specific campaigns for selected projects, giving transparency to the patient community about where the funds raised will be applied while engaging their review and support. The Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative is intent on funding translational research in the following areas:
  • Potentially curative solutions for high-risk myeloma genetic features including del 17p13, 4;14, 14;16, and 14;20 
  • Potentially curative solutions for aggressive features in relapsed/refractory myeloma patients
Collaboration Is Encouraged Individual investigator submissions are welcome, but due to the nature and incidence of high-risk features, we encourage collaborative proposals that include multiple investigators and institutions.
  • Letters of Intent will be accepted between February 1, 2015 and February 28, 2015. Download the application form from the Myeloma Crowd page www.myelomacrowd/MCRI. The form can be completed in Word and saved as a Word file or PDF file. Email the completed form to by 6 pm February 28, 2015.
  • Individual initial awards are limited to a maximum of $250,000, which includes direct costs and a maximum overhead of 10% of direct costs. Project ideas submitted that are collaborative between investigators/facilities are awarded based on the project specifications and could exceed the stated maximum.
  • Projects that reach targeted milestones and approved by the Scientific Advisory and Patient Advisory Boards will be renewed for up to $300,000 per year for two additional years defined by additional milestones and a fully justified research plan.
  • Letters of Intent are due 6 p.m. ET, February 28, 2015. Researchers will be contacted by March 15 and selected investigators will be required to complete a full proposal by April 15, which will include a short 2-3 minute video describing the project. The video does not need to be of professional quality but is for descriptive purposes only. The MCRI reserves the right to alter the dates as necessary.
  • Please contact for additional questions regarding the process.

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative Scientific Advisory Board

 Dr. C. Ola Landren, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Chief, Myeloma Service
 Dr. Irene Ghobrial, MD, PhD
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Director, Michele & Stephen Kirsch Laboratory
 Dr. Guido Tricot, MD, PhD
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, U of Iowa
Director, Bone Marrow Transplant and Myeloma Program
  Dr. Noopur Raje, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, Multiple Myeloma Program, Raje Laboratory
 Dr. Rafael Fonseca, MD
Mayo Clinic Scottsdale
Director, Fonseca Laboratory and Getz Family Professor of Cancer
 Dr. Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Director of Myeloma

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative Patient Advisory Board

 Jenny Ahlstrom
Myeloma Survivor
Founder, CrowdCare Foundation, Myeloma Crowd, Myeloma Crowd Radio
 Pat Killingsworth
Myeloma Survivor
Daily myeloma blogger and patient advocate:
 Gary Petersen
Myeloma Survivor
Patient advocate and myeloma survival statics:
Jack Aiello
Myeloma Survivor
Experienced patient advocate
Cynthia Chmielewski
Myeloma Survivor
Experienced patient advocate @MyelomaTeacher

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative Communications Advisory Board

 Dr. Mike Thompson, MD, PhD
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine
Medical Director, Early Phase Cancer Research Program
 Lizzy Smith
Myeloma Survivor
Communications Director and Editor, Myeloma Crowd

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Neuropathy is one ANNOYING side effect from myeloma treatments! How to cope...

What Is Neuropathy And How To Live With It?        
Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect from the myeloma drug bortezomib, and is often one of the most debilitating. Symptoms are usually seen almost immediately when beginning treatment, sometimes within the first few cycles, or when a cumulative dose is reached. Because I have been on near continuous bortezomib therapy for the past three years, I struggle with neuropathy. I don’t have pain, but in my left foot, I have almost no feeling. I can feel pressure, but that’s about it. In my right foot, I have about fifty percent feeling. At night, the numbness can at times be uncomfortable. I also feel quite a bit of weakness in my left leg, which is quite a switch from my pre-myeloma body when I was a runner and had very strong legs.

So let’s talk about neuropathy, what is it, and what to do about it.

What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system. It causes pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness, typically in hands and feet. Additionally, motor skills can be affected with mild to severe weakness in the lower extremities.

For me, I can still do pretty much everything I want to, but I am aware that I am not as physically strong or as coordinated as I once was. Case in point– several months ago, I went on a power walk in my neighborhood. I simply don’t lift my feet up as much as I used to. It’s a subtle change in my walking gait and I don’t even think about it. But on this walk, I tripped over an uneven sidewalk and slammed my face into the pavement. I have a permanent bruise on my cheekbone. It wasn’t the end of the world and I don’t mind some wounds from getting out and doing fun things (it gives me a great story to tell and I appear less boring than I am!), but nonetheless, I need to be well aware of my limitations and be extra cautious. I often go snow skiing with my daughters but I am very careful, I go on easier runs than I used to, and I really avoid falling. My ski boots don’t feel that “great” on my feat but keeping them extra warm, wearing good cushioned socks, and staying hydrated helps immensely.

Some patients have such intense pain that nothing helps but pain killers and a walker. If you have these symptoms, talk with your doctor about your options for relief.

Is neuropathy permanent?
For those discontinuing bortezomib, neuropathy often resolves itself within three months, though it can take longer. Since I’m staying on the drug for the foreseeable future, I don’t anticipate mine going away any time soon. Instead, I need to learn to live with it.

What can be done to prevent neuropathy?
While there are no ways to stop neuropathy from happening, getting proper sleep, managing stress, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and exercising helps. For me, the worse thing I can do is be sedentary. Stimulating my feet helps a lot, as does getting around and moving. I never walk around barefoot, though, not even in the house. One day, I noticed my foot was bleeding. I had no idea how (or when) that happened. So always having something on my feet is really important. For example, I always have fuzzy socks or slippers on at home. Good cushioned shoes help, too, though I must admit that I live in flip-flops and sandals over the summer. As long as I’m not barefoot, my feet seem relatively happy. Last summer, I broke my rule when we were in Sirmione, Italy. The lake looked so beautiful and it was so hot outside that I had to get in. I took my sandals off and started walking on the beach. The tiny rocks felt like needles and I almost passed out from the pain. Thank goodness my daughter was nearby and she rushed my shoes back to me. I couldn’t get them on fast enough. Never again! I purchased some water shoes for our upcoming trip to the Honduras in Belize because even in the ocean, I need foot protection. It might not look as cute but who cares? Comfort first!

I also have my fiancé rub my feet and I love getting pedis simply because it helps stimulate my nerves. This helps diminish the intense numbness I experience, especially at night. I absolutely love peppermint essential oil for its nerve-stimulating effects (plus it smells dreamy). I put about a tablespoon of fractionated coconut oil in my palm, add maybe six drops of peppermint oil and rub it on my feet and calves. Oh my gosh, it is amazing.
foot ball rollers
I also have a “foot ball” that I usually use at night. The night numbness is so much more livable when I use this routine.

I am a huge fan of yoga. For me, it’s 90-minutes of Bikram yoga in a 105-degree temperature room. It is very stimulating for my entire body, numb feet and calves included. I walk, hike, ski and most everything else I like to do. True, not everyone can do this. For some, the pain is too intense and if this is you, make sure you discuss this with your doctor. Perhaps physical therapy is also an option.

Besides stopping bortezomib, are there other options?
I have read that the weekly administration of subcutaneous bortezomib, rather than the standard twice per week treatment schedules, helps with neuropathy’s frequency and neurotoxicity. Discuss with your doctor about perhaps reducing your dose if your side effects are too painful may be an option too.

What about medications for peripheral neuropathy?
There are topical gels that can help, though you’ll ne need a prescription for some. Topical menthol can also be effective. Pain killers can be used for intense pain. Additionally, there are prescription medications for managing the symptoms of neuropathy. Discuss them with your doctor.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Teaching Our Children About Sex (parenting tales from Mormon-ville)

Sex and Mormonism. In all honesty, it's taught as "no, it's bad, it's of Satan, do not do anything to arouse sexual feelings or thoughts." Yes, sex is bad bad bad bad bad. Until you get married. Then have a great and healthy sex life! And, really, since most normal kids are horny and want sex, this means that Mormons tend to get married really super young so they can have "legal" sex. And then the babies come fast and, well, young adults are stuck... already married and parents all so they could have legal sex.

And many of these young adults (no, I don't have a statistic) have really unhealthy sex lives and views on sex because their entire lives have been one Big Lesson about sex is bad. Until it's not. And, truth is, you can't turn off that message "just like that" just because you say "I do."

What is most tragic in all this is that these people then have children and they perpetuate that message of sex being a BIG NO. And many parents have no idea how to have realistic conversations with their children about sex, and how to have a lifelong healthy sex life. How I escaped this whole concept despite the fact that I grew up in a very conservative Mormon household is one big question. But I'm grateful that this ridiculous concept never penetrated (pun intended) my soul or psyche.

Such is the story of my latest Divorced Moms column. As a mom of daughters, it is my goal to raise my children to have healthy attitudes towards sex. Sex is a huge responsibility and it's a life lesson to learn to manage sex in a positive way. It does make me cringe, though, when the time comes to talk birth control, condoms, STDs and pregnancies. At what point do you cross from condoning and encouraging sex at a young age versus being realistic and keeping them safe and protected? Ah, now that is the million dollar question! Anyway, my story and musings are right here. Enjoy!

Teaching Our Children Healthy Attitudes About Sex
by Lizzy Smith                      
January 26, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_69988112_XS.jpgLast week, I went for tea with two friends, Karen and Christy. I told them about a conversation I recently had with my friend, Jane. Jane has a 14-year old son, Henry, who is cute, outgoing, and very popular with the girls at his school. Jane and Henry have a very close relationship and no topic is off limits, including sex. Not long ago, Henry told his mom that he was at a party where a 16-year old girl took her top off and invited him to touch her boobies. Henry ran off because he didn't know what to do. Jane told me that it is just a matter of time before her son starts having sex. "I wish he would wait and I tell him all the time that he is too young, and that sex is reserved for love and commitment. But I also know it's going to happen, and probably soon. But he cannot get a girl pregnant so I have a box of condoms ready for him. Ugh!"
I asked Jane when she's going to give him those condoms. "I don't know. At what point am I condoning and encouraging sex at the age of 14, versus making sure there aren't STDs and a pregnancy? But the answer is, soon."

I asked Karen and Christy they're thoughts were on the topic. All three of us have daughters the same age. I gave them this scenario: Our daughter comes home and says "I'm going to have sex with my boyfriend, Mom." ...or... instead of one of our daughters telling us they're about ready to have sex, we just know in our gut that it's going to happen soon. Grounding her and never letting her out of the house again isn't realistic. So, when do we take her to the doctor and get her on birth control? When do we give her condoms and beg her to use them so she doesn't come home with herpes? And while our daughters are all 14 years old now, what happens if they are older, like 16, which, in my opinion, is a more typical time to start exploring sex?

Without missing a beat, Christy, who is very conservative Mormon, said that there would be no birth control for her daughters, no matter what. "If they are going to have sex, then they'll get pregnant and need to put the baby up for adoption. It's natural consequences and I am not going to shield them from it."

I was speechless. It took me several moments to recover. "You would rather have your daughter come home pregnant than put her on birth control?" I asked.

"Yes!" Just like that. I thought she was joking until I realized she wasn't.

Keep reading...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Anger: an important part of the healing process

One of my favorite readers, Curtis, just submitted a new guest post for my column on Divorced Moms. It offers an interesting and important perspective on one of my "favorite" emotions: anger. While no one ought to stay mired in anger, it is an important part of the healing process, whether one is coping with divorce, cancer or pretty much anything challenging in life. And boy oh boy, have I had my share of anger. Sometimes, though I feel I've "healed" as much as possible, I still feel surges of anger at times. Perfectly normal, and it's ok. For example, this past week I've been angry over how I feel. I have been battling a horrific cold and experienced such extreme fatigue that I just wanted to wimper. I would feel far more anger if I had the energy. Last Friday, I probably slept 20 hours. Saturday, probably 18 hours and I wanted to sleep far more. I had a great day on Sunday, but then Monday rolled around and it was MLK and my children were home. Instead of going skiing like we planned, I stayed on the couch sleeping until 2pm when I dragged our behinds out of the house, picked up William and we went to see Selma. It was a terrific movie. And when it was over, I went right back to bed.

I was angry that I am tired and fatigued. I am tired of planning every activity with the thought in the back of my mind: how will I be feeling? And then I remind myself that I am alive, I have amazing family, two children that are healthy and amazing, and I am in love with a man who treats me so incredibly well. I am surrounded by peace, kindness, love and stability. And when one knows what unstable looks like and has lived with psychological and verbal abuse at the hands of an alcoholic, trust me, the comparison is stark and lovely. To escape horror and find beauty is amazing and until you've lived it and escaped and found something better, you have no idea. So, yes, anger is important. It helps us leave terrible situations, it helps us learn, and, yes, heal. That powerful emotion, anger. It's not always such a bad thing. No, not at all.

So without further ado, enjoy Curtis' musings on Anger. Here goes!

The Upside Of Anger. A Guy's Perspective On Using Anger To Heal
by Lizzy Smith and guest writer Curtis                    
January 23, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_58472347_XS.jpgAnger as part of the healing process 
Anger is a natural stage so embrace it and experience it, within limits. Have you heard of the five stages of grief? Another fancy name for it is the Kübler-Ross model. Essentially it is the five emotional stages that one goes through when there is a death or an impending death. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Since the end of a serious relationship, especially a marriage, is like the death of the other person (as they are gone)-- death of the relationship, hopes, dreams, plans and more-- professionals have used this model to understand and address the emotions after and during a separation or divorce. Woo hoo! A free pass to be angry and do stuff! Not exactly.

There is a lot of misplaced rage and envy. "Why me," "it's not fair," and "(insert) is to blame."  Anger should be experienced so as to release pent up emotion, evaluate the anger and the cause in order to heal, and there are many other benefits of experiencing anger. I learned that anger tells you when your boundaries are being crossed, even if you are not aware of the boundary crossing at the time. So embrace the dark side, but in a positive and not deranged way. Since many people are not exceptionally rational or in control of their emotions at the time of their split or divorce, you need to be aware of the anger and its dangers. If you are starting to get too angry, speak to a person that cares about you or, if necessary, speak to a professional. This is where the "angry friend" is a great help.  Someone who has been treated likewise or is just angry at every thing and the world.  Such a friend will lament with you, listen, agree and curse the world.

Male or female - it does not seem to matter. Usually the person that ends the divorce seems angrier. I have no studies or scientific data on this, it just appears to be the case from my own observations. It kind of makes sense in that if you end the relationship, you are angry and presumably unhappy. That said, once the relationship is over and the dust settles you would expect these people to be happier, wouldn't you?  I am not sure if this is the case. Many times ongoing issues involving children or finances seem to cause the wound to fester.

While both genders are generally angry, there seems to be that there are some that are dangerous.  Men seem to be more dangerous to their ex and children physically and women more dangerous psychologically, especially to their children. How many times have we seen in the news or heard about men attempting or harming their ex or their children?  Thank goodness not very much, but too much to not be concerned. Now women have become more physically violent, but not to the same extent (yet).  How many times have we seen mothers who act to vent or punish the father but do so through the children, who are neither able to deal with this nor should they have to. Sometimes mothers take on a victim role so completely that she needs to convince her children to reject their father. Then some people, regardless of gender, just want to win (regardless of motive).  In these and other circumstances the anger is out of control.

Both parties really need help to address the issues for the person out of control and to know how to deal with the issues for the person who is out of control with angry behavior. Further and utmost importance is your and your children's physical safety and wellbeing psychologically. Again, the children did not ask that you marry or the divorce and the effects of such behaviour on them needs to be considered by all.

Keep reading... 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cheating. Three Real Couples Who've Given Monogamy The Middle Finger. My latest via Divorced Moms

Over the past few months, it seems I've become surrounded by the topic of "cheating" inside a marriage. And because of it, I think about it endlessly. I can only speak for me when I say that I just can't fathom being in a marriage where my husband cheats. Trust, honesty and fidelity is a make or break for me. And I thought that there is simply no other way. But there are couples who have found that "other way" and here are three examples. I don't endorse them but it has given me food for thought. Here goes...

Cheating. 3 Real Couples Who've Given Monogamy The Middle Finger
by Lizzy Smith                    
January 20, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Here are three real scenarios from couples I know well. And they have turned everything I thought about fidelity on its head.

1. The Open Marriage
Kim and Troy have been married for 25 years and have two children. If one was an outsider looking in, they are the perfect couple. They are both beautiful people, have a beautiful home with a shiny pool in the back yard, two dogs and a cat, two perfect careers, two nice cars and a boat. They are fun to be with, always up for an adventure or a night out. They laugh and are affectionate with each other.

But Kim confided in me that they have been going through a rough patch for years. Troy has been fantasizing about being with other women and wanting her to be with other partners, men or women. They are both bored and have been considering divorce for a few years. Troy cheated on Kim throughout their four year relationship prior to marriage and to this day, she thinks that maybe Troy has cheated on her after their wedding, too. Every time he texts or picks up a call, she wonders.
Finally, at Troy's encouragement, she slept with a friend of Troy's. They filmed it and texted it to Troy. And instead of it destroying their trust and relationship, it has revitalized it. She says they have sex all the time now, they are open with each other in ways they never have, and she actually trusts Troy because she feels, at last, he's honest. Brutally honest, not always easy to hear. But at last, she doesn't wonder anymore.

I asked Kim if she felt guilty about having the one-time sexual tryst with Troy. No, she said, because she did it for Troy and the outcome has been good for them. She was on the verge of a divorce and, time will tell, it has perhaps saved their marriage. I asked if she would do it again. Probably not. What will she do if Troy has an affair, or many affairs? She's not sure she cares that much, as long as it's "just sex." And what if it isn't? What if one of those "just sex" women become something more? Kim says that she and Troy are strong, they have been together so long, and that no woman will end their marriage. She's that sure of it. And she, the jealous type, is all of a sudden, more sure of herself than ever, and not feeling so jealous anymore. She feels... at peace.

Kim has decided that she will sacrifice her monogamous marriage in order to have honesty, transparency and openness in their relationship. Honesty and almost any cost. The rules of their marriage have now changed. Will this lead to long-term happiness? Time will tell.

2. The Known Cheater (And Looking The Other Way)
When Lori met Sam, he was already married. She helped break up his marriage and it was an ugly split. Sam's wife fought hard to keep her guy but, ultimately, she failed. A year after their divorce was final, Lori got her wish-- Sam married her amidst great fanfare and a huge wedding. It's been 15 years and they have three sons.

Keep reading... 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting a Colonoscopy and the importance of cancer screenings

My latest via Divorced Moms. I am fighting a horrific cold, bronchitis infection and now have full on laryngitis. I was going wedding dress shopping this afternoon. Now I am rescheduling that appointment. I have literally been sleeping all day. I just got off the couch at 1:30 this afternoon. I hate feeling like this, especially on a Friday. Oh well, hopefully it ends soon. Have a fabulous weekend, dear readers.


Why This Mom Got Her First Colonoscopy And You Should Too
by Lizzy Smith                    
January 16, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Mandy and I were great friends. We grew up together in high school and we both loved to ski. She had a season ski locker at Mammoth Mountain (California), we both had season ski passes, and we spent countless days driving up to Mammoth to hit the slopes, check out the cute guys, and then going to parties and barbeques afterwards with many of the ski instructors we knew. For my high school graduation, my mom took me, Mandy, and two other friends to Hawaii. That's where this photo was taken. Mandy is wearing the white dress, me in the green and white one. It was very fun.

Fast forward to January 2012 when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. I told very few people I had cancer. I didn't want to see fear or pity in anyone's eyes. I was going to beat my cancer, I was on a mission, and no one was going to rattle that resolve. Just weeks later, Mandy took the opposite approach. I was perusing Facebook and there she was, announcing that she had just been diagnosed with Stage IV color cancer that had spread to her lung and hip. After the shock wore off and I wiped away a few tears, I called her. I told her that I, too, had just been diagnosed with cancer and we could support each other during chemo and whatever else we needed to endure.

Over the next two years, Mandy and I would text each other. One day, she asked if I would like to plan a fun trip with our daughters for the upcoming Spring, like Disneyworld or the Bahamas. I was all in. But that trip never happened. She past away in June 2014 at the age of 43, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters. Her advice: get a colonoscopy.

Since then, I've always had that in the back of my head. Colonoscopy. But I wasn't 50 years old yet. I didn't have risk factors (though I had no risk factors for myeloma either and I got it anyway). And who wants to have that painful and awful test. But since getting cancer, I'm the most paranoid person on the planet when it comes to health. If I feel sick to my tummy, is it stomach cancer? A headache, brain cancer? A nagging cough, lung cancer? So I finally took the plunge and scheduled it. And while I was at it, I scheduled my mammogram, annual pap, and a skin cancer screening. I would have added a complete blood count panel (a simple blood test) but since I get those every other week as part of my maintenance therapy, I was covered there.

Keep reading

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why this Mormon mom wears (gasp) tank tops

I am so done with this absurd, over-the-top obsession with "modesty" (modesty as defined by Mormons), that I have to write a blog post devoted to the topic. (Yep, according to devout Mormons, what I'm wearing in the above photo is immodest and I'm a brazen hussy.) In the Mormon faith, if you take out temple endowments, one is supposed to wear garments, an under-the-clothes version of underwear that is similar to a T-shirt with sleeves and panties that go down almost to the knees. To cover up those garments, a devout Mormon will wear clothes that don't include tank tops or shorts/skirts above the knee.

But the Mormon church isn't stopping there. Even if one does not wear garments, they are preaching to the youth in the church that they should dress as if they are wearing garments, starting as young as a baby. That means no sundresses or, well, shorts above the knee.

Like the dress in this photo? BAD! Throw a T-shirt under it and THEN the child can wear it. (eek)

Apparently if one (well, mostly women, because modesty is somehow placed at the feet of girls and women) dresses covered enough to satisfy the Mormon Modesty Police, then men won't have naughty thoughts, and there won't be rape, unmarried pregnancies, infidelity and everything else.

What makes me White Hot Mad is that one of the reasons young children are being taught that they should cover up is to help boys and men control their thoughts. After all, men have such horrible thoughts all day long that the only way they can stay pure and good is if we girls and women don't show shoulders and knees. Because, as we all know, as long as we cover those scandalous body parts, men are great all of a sudden, thoughts are pure, everyone is modest, everyone in the world is happy, and, well, there you have it.

Following the logic? Yah, me either. It's so ridiculous that I can't even handle it. And my 14-year old daughter gets this message in church and extra curricular activities endlessly and I am so incredibly OVER IT.

Here are some facts: Boys and men have sexual thoughts all day long. For boys in puberty, they are getting erections and aroused non stop. It is normal and nothing at all to be ashamed of. And if I had a son, I would tell him that if he wasn't having sexual thoughts all day long, we'll get him therapy. The next fact is that we must train boys (and men) to control their behavior. Because even if he is aroused, he can't grope a girl, masturbate in public, or try to have sex with a girl against her will. It really is that simple. Boys are going to get aroused by shoulders, kneecaps, a hot girl, an unattractive girl, a smile, eyes, the shape of a neckline, toes and, well, a lamp post.

That's right-- the girl wearing these shoes will turn on scores of men so let's stop wearing flipflops and painting toes, too, you know-- to help the guys out.

What makes the Mormon church's teachings interesting, however, is that they say that impure thoughts are just as bad as impure behavior (really now). So control your thoughts. And girls need to help those boys to control their thoughts. And if a boy does have impure thoughts, let's find a girl to blame it on. (Oh if it were only that simple.)

Wow. Dangerous, if you ask me. What The Hell. What is really sad is that some people believe this. And the result is that our daughters and sons are developing some really unhealthy attitudes towards bodies, sex, and behavior.

The latest is written by a blogger, Veronica Partridge, who writes that she won't be wearing leggings anymore because her husband gets turned on by women wearing leggings and yoga pants in public. Seriously, in case you don't believe me, here is a snippet:
If it is difficult for my husband who loves, honors, and respects me to keep his eyes focused ahead, then how much more difficult could it be for a man that may not have the same self-control? Sure, if a man wants to look, they are going to look, but why entice them? Is it possible that the thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings could make a married (or sinlge) man look at a woman in a way he should only look at his wife.
And at that moment, I made a personal vow to myself and to my husband. I will no longer wear thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings in public. The only time I feel (for myself) it is acceptable to wear them, is if I am in the comfort of my own home or if I am wearing a shirt long enough to cover my rear end. I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her. I have been following the vow I made to myself for the past couple of weeks  now and though it may be difficult to find an outfit at times, my conscience is clear and I feel I am honoring God and my husband in the way I dress.

To Veronica, I gotta ask: What are you going to do when a man tells you that your hair really turns him on. Or your eyes. Or that top you're wearing. Or toes (lots of men have toe fetishes, you know, and there is an entire cottage industry devoted to toe fetishes).

If every day I looked in the mirror and asked myself what I'm wearing that could possible turn some guy on, and then try and try and try to keep modifying my outfit, well, that would be one very frustrating endeavor. Sheesh-- let's just throw on a burqa and be done with it.


Oh, wait, women fully covered get raped, too. And men still have a desire to have sex with, and impregnate, burqa-wearing women. Why is that? Because sex and a sexual desire is natural, covered or not.

But let's go back to leggings. I wear leggings all the dang time. In fact, I'm wearing leggings in the photo below, and so is my daughter. I think they are cute and stylish, go with everything, and they are so comfy. And, really, they're about as sexy as, well, a pair of jeans or most other item of clothing.

Regardless, we don't teach our daughters that they are responsible for the behavior of others. In my humble opinion, we teach our children that they communicate to the world who they are by how they present themselves. I'm not a fan of allowing kids to dress like hookers, and trust me, I've seen some pretty shocking girls dressed in ways that I would never allow. Like butt cheeks hanging out of shorts, having the ability to see panties from the front of a girls' shorts, and boobs hanging out everywhere. But modesty and dressing tastesfully has far more to do with not wearing leggings, showing a shoulder, or a kneecap. Modesty and tastefulness has to do with how you present yourself, how you behave, dressing appropriately for the occasion, hair color and style, accessories... It's a package. So if you really want to "go there," then be modest in all you do.

But modesty aside, just know that men are going to be finding all kinds of women attractive and a turn-on all day long for all kinds of reasons. And, really, it's not my (or my daughters') responsibility to obsess over how we can curtail it. Now if a guy gropes me or wips out his penis and starts fondling himself in front of me, I'm calling the authorities!

If one more well-meaning Mormon church leader tells my daughters that they need to cover up because of boys, I'm calling him or her out on it. This has to stop.

Monday, January 12, 2015

One less thing to feel guilty about. It's not my fault I got cancer, some experts say

Liz Lizette Smith Nielsen's photo.

So It’s Not My Fault I Got Myeloma? Thank goodness (I guess)       

Whether one has cancer or not, it seems everyone is interested in cancer research, findings and news. And that’s because pretty much everyone is terrified of the C word. And the latest Big Cancer News is the findings by a pair of researchers from Johns Hopkins University published last week in the journal Science. In that study, they found that sometimes, the reason one gets cancer is due to faulty genes inherited from one’s parents (one more thing to blame our parents for!) and sometimes to behaviors like smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. But in most cases, it comes down to something else – stem cells. Further, they found a very high correlation between the differences in risk for 31 kinds of cancer and the frequency with which different types of stem cells made copies of themselves.

In an article in the LA Times, Scientists explain how stem cells and ‘bad luck’ cause cancer, it says:
Researchers have long recognized that when cells copy themselves, they sometimes make small errors in the billions of chemical letters that make up their DNA. Many of these mistakes are inconsequential, but others can cause cells to grow out of control. That is the beginning of cancer.
The odds of making a copying mistake are believed to be the same for all cells. But some kinds of cells copy themselves much more often than others. Tomasetti and Vogelstein hypothesized that the more frequently a type of cell made copies of itself, the greater the odds that it would develop cancer.
Upon diagnosis, I did some serious soul searching. What had I done to get cancer? Did I eat too much sugar (I love cookies!)? What about stress? Working too much? Too many x-rays and radiation? I didn’t smoke but I did drink alcohol in excess when I was in college… What about inhaling fumes while sitting in rush hour traffic? Coloring my hair too often or getting Brazilian blowouts (formaldehyde used to keep hair straight and shiny)? What about getting pregnant in the months leading up to diagnosis? Did the rapidly dividing cells from two failed back-to-back pregnancies help those faulty myeloma cells to grow uncontrollably? Because when I got the results back from my biopsy, I had over 90-percent myeloma cells in there. What did I do to create such a mess inside my own body? I exercised, ate right, and tried to take care of myself. I was horrified, angry, and guilty that I had caused my cancer in some way.

After reading the results of this study, however, I can let go of the guilt and anger. Apparently, if the study is accurate, many cancers are caused by simply “bad luck.” There’s not much that we patients can do to prevent many cancers. What is in our control is getting cancer screenings often so if cancer is found, we can get treated quickly. Taking care of our bodies does matter immensely because we will be better able to tolerate such treatments should, God forbid, we need them. And then pray (or cross fingers) for luck to be on our side.

Since those of us with cancer have already beaten the “luck odds” of getting sick, we can also hope, pray and work for better treatments and cures. One way we can do that? Participate in a clinical trial.

To read my original article on Myeloma Crowd, click here.

Can a new relationship heal a broken person?

My latest musings via Divorced Moms. Can a new relationship heal a broken person? The million dollar question. Yes, dynamics of a relationship matter. So if one is in a healthy relationship, can that make all the difference? Perhaps yes. In some circumstances. Determining when and with whom is the tricky answer.

Can A New Relationship Change You? Sometimes, The Answer Is Yes
by Lizzy Smith                     
January 12, 2015
Share on Tumblr
I have dated quite a few men in my adult life. Most of those men have been married before. Many of them also have an acrimonious relationship with their ex. And one thing I’ve learned the hard way is this: I need to stay out of it (minus listening with a sympathetic ear and giving lots of hugs). Because when there is a lot of anger, court battles and drama between the two of them, I can’t possible know where the truth actually lies. His version might be totally accurate—she could really be that pathological liar crazy bitch he portrays her to be. And then again, maybe she’s not. The reality is that I wasn’t there, there are two sides to every story and this is one battle that is not mine to fight. Maybe my new guy is the one to blame (as was the case with my ex-husband; apparently his ex-wife was a cheating lazy bitch, yet I soon learned, he was a volatile, explosive alcoholic, which he forgot to tell me about). Or maybe the two of them had super terrible chemistry and with new partners, the dynamics are different and everyone is fixed and happy.
And this is my musing of today. Can someone who was a horrible partner in one relationship be a better person in a new one?
In my case, I think I was a pretty decent partner. And then I married an alcoholic. I tried my very best to be a great partner to my husband but, truth be told, there was nothing I could do to heal my marriage. When substance abuse or addiction is concerned, really, there is no hope. But the dynamics of my marriage created a Lizzy that I hated. I was a shell of who I was once. I didn’t laugh or smile so much. I became obsessed with cleanliness and order. I communicated typically by silence—simply not speaking, texting or emailing my husband at all for days after his drunken screaming episodes. He would email, text and call me begging to resolve our latest argument and I simply wouldn’t respond at all. A good idea? Not really. Or… if I didn’t take the “silence” approach, I simply fought back verbally with the most awful accusations and put-downs I could muster. “You’re a drunk and I fucking hate you,” I would say. “You’re lazy and stupid and every time you open your fat mouth you are embarrassing.” When I said those awful things to him, it felt good. I felt powerful. It was really sick. And on some level, I really felt that if I said the right combination of words, it would inspire him to finally be “better.” A good approach for a good marriage? Of course not!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Divorce from a guy's perspective. A guest post from a reader for my Divorced Moms column

I absolutely love hearing from my readers. A few weeks ago, I got an email from one. Here are excerpts.
I came across your blog by accident. I must say that there have been some things you wrote that resonate strongly and some things that make me think.  That has become quite helpful.

I will not bore you with details but my marriage and divorce, but they were interesting.  She was an alcoholic when I married her, but I did not realize it, apparently had a drug issue and went back to it after being "sober"  from alcohol, was very abusive, was a serial cheater (with many including "friends" and even a groomsman in the wedding party)...

I think that life is about experiences, relationships and people.  The rest is just window dressing.

If I can offer two things to you for thought.  First, while I do not ascribe to the beliefs of Buddhism, their thought process is very appealing and has been very useful.  The Dalai Llama's Art of Happiness would be a good place to start.  Second, there are not many helpful articles or sources of information for men on these various issues, and therefore I find myself somewhat reading information from women and often for women. 

Thank you for a greater understanding and I expect I will read the rest of your postings in the near future.  I wish you the best of health and a joyful Christmas.
I asked him if he would write a guest post for Divorced Moms and he did. So many points in here are interesting and offer up my own "ah-ha's."

He is absolutely right when he says you can fix an addict. And even if they are a "dry" alcoholic or drug addict, unless they are in long-term therapy to deal with their severe emotional issues and stunted emotional development, they still carry the same personality traits as they did when they were using. With my ex, his alcohol therapist told me that even if he quit drinking, he wouldn't become an amazing guy. That would take years. And, in fact, he would probably become a whole lot less likable if he did stop using. Less likable? Oy vey, I couldn't fathom liking him less than I did already. That's when my hope vanished. There was no fixing. The only way to "fix" was to fix myself by getting out. Please, readers, if there are only two things you remember me by it's this: 1) STAY AWAY FROM AN ADDICT, OR A DRY ADDICT. THERE IS NO HELL GREATER THAN LIFE WITH AN ALCOHOLIC OR DRUG ADDICT. You can pretend to yourself and the outside world that it's different for you but stop lying to yourself and GET HELP, GET OUT, and HEAL. 2) Get screened for cancer often.

My other key takeaway is men who abandon the kids when there is a split. I don't get it either. And it is awful. I don't care how much a guy hates his ex, you simply don't do that because it's wrong. It's immoral and unconscionable and shows and incredible lack of character. Ladies, if you're involved with a guy who is capable of doing this, you've got a real asshole for a partner.

Anyway, read on. I love this article!!

Divorce From A Guy's Perspective: Children, Mental Health & More
by Lizzy Smith                    
January 08, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_69516184_XS.jpgRecently, a reader contacted me about his own divorce and the unique challenges men often experience during a split. I asked him to write a guest post and here it is. I learned a lot and think you will, too. Enjoy!

Dear Lizzy,

Thank you for sharing your story and making me think. There are too few resources, blogs and help for men going through a divorce for men or by men. Too many males (and some females) suggested that as a man, I must be coping with my split by drinking a lot of alcohol and having lots of casual sex. This seems to be a common myth on how men respond to a divorce, and what is seen as a healthy and traditional response. This approach was not what I wanted or was comfortable with. Instead I focused on myself and children, cared for us, educated myself as to effects of divorce and how to address them, and consulted with good friends and family. While less exciting, it was both the right thing to do and looking back I am glad I followed this path. I have learned by reading professional material, internet sources, consulting with friends who are professionals, and observing others. Without my friends and their expertise I would not have fared so well. Therefore the reason I am writing this is to inform other men, and friends and family of other men, with the hope that the information is helpful. 

When it comes to relationships that end men and women are much more similar than many believe.  There are however some distinct differences. Finally, while every situation is different, much of the scenarios and situations have been repeated a million times over.   Regardless of gender, we all suffer through some variation of the seven stages of grief after a split. When we are married to an addict or alcoholic, we are dealing with a person whose development in many ways is stunted from the point of addiction. The reason I wrote this is so that many may realize that while there are not many resources for men, often resources for women apply in a similar if not exact same manner. That is how I found myself reading Lizzy's blog. There are however some distinct differences that men can do and should expect.

While divorce may be the fault of both parties, women usually initiate divorce. Men are often angry and feel blindsided\ by it. It is important to focus on is the physical and mental health of these men and their children. They need to focus on the little things: sleep, healthy eating, moderate use of alcohol or medications, showing up (for kids, family, friends, obligations, work, etc.). Navel gazing and self absorption is natural but dangerous if over done. Men often experience depression and are more likely to commit suicide than women. Hence this needs to be monitored by those that care about them. 

While I do not necessarily suggest this approach, a friend of mine was concerned about the stress I was under. He and his wife invited me to dinner and eventually they brought out a very expensive bottle of Anejo Tequila which we polished off and followed with another. Yes I had too much to drink and slept at their house. Their concern was that I would do this alone. The next day they advised I had this out of the way and now I need not do it again or without them. Point taken. While I did not see myself sliding into alcohol as some do, it was a needed release, with good friends in a safe environment where only products of Mexico were injured.

During a split, men need to act like the adults they are. If this is you, remember that you have responsibilities to yourself and your children. Too often, men leave the relationship and their children behind. Even perfect fathers who love and doted on their children during the marriage just walk way. This is completely beyond my understanding. Why did you have children? Do you feel alienated or not part of their lives? Do you want to find a younger or newer woman and hit the "reset button"?  Regardless, you need to stay involved in your children's lives out of love, and if not, at least out of responsibility. Man up! It's not about you, or your ex, it's about the children. Total lack of involvement can cause all sorts of problems for them-- abandonment issues, lack of a role model, depression and more. Realize that many studies show that boys are usually affected and act out right away, while girls are more likely to have a delayed negative affect from divorce and it will often play out later in their late teens, 20s and 30's.

You also need to act in the children's best interest regardless of what they or your ex says or does. Usually kids will figure out what happened and will come around if you act in a loving, caring, stable, and responsible manner. While both genders engage in saying negative things about the other ex, women tend to do this more than men. Regardless of what is said or done your response, if anything, should solely or primarily consider the wellbeing of the child. Further, many things are not appropriate to discuss with children. Simply tell them that you are for them. Provide stability and reliability in a chaotic world and at a chaotic time. For example, when my ex tried a pre-emptive strike by discussing with my children "that daddy thinks I have a boyfriend" I did not respond that she had been banging everything on two legs for the last 20 years, including one of our groomsmen, showing them pictures and internet documents. My response was that the marriage was over, that the reasons were between their mother and myself, and that all they needed to know is that we loved them and that I was there for them. There is NO purpose in really responding to your ex's message to the child as you cannot change your ex, but you can confuse or hurt your child, and later the kids usually figure things out anyway.  

While your ex may do things to harm your relationship with your children, you must fight for your children and yourself. Fight for custody or visitation. Sometimes children need more time with one parent or the other based on age, gender, or the individual. You need to fight for this and educate others including your lawyer and the court as to why this is important for the child.

Every divorced female thinks their ex was a narcissist and divorced males think their ex was crazy.  Regardless if your ex or spouse is addicted, then you can't fix them, they need professional help, it is their fault and responsibility, and you need to focus on the safety and wellbeing of yourself and your children. If they have mental health issues it is very similar but they may be maintained by medication and treatment. Also keep in mind that addicts often had mental health issues before they became addicted or as a result of being addicted. For example sober alcoholics who have abstained for years often have behaviour issues of alcoholics or recovering alcoholics. When a partner is addicted it does not matter if you are male or female. Keep in mind that intelligent and loving family, friends, and clergymen may be enough to assist you, but Al-Anon or professional help may be required.


Keep reading...