A Thank-you Letter to My Sister-in-Law, My Surrogate

After many years of trying to have a baby, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November 2012. My husband and I went through a successful round of In Vitro Fertilization to freeze our embryos before I underwent chemo and radiation to knock out the cancer. After my last treatment in June of 2013, we were unfortunately left knowing that I would never be able to carry a child. My brother’s beautiful wife, Jordan – my sister-in-law and Angel on Earth – came to us and offered to carry our baby. Through many happy tears, we accepted.

While I typically remain fairly private in my own life, the recognition Jordan needs for her generosity and selflessness simply cannot go unnoticed.  Here is my thank-you letter to her.

 

February 10, 2015

Dear Jordan,

Thank you. Thank you for turning years of hardships into fleeting memories. Your kindness has cast a shadow over unfortunate times I swore would stay with me forever. Thank you for turning adversities into affirmations of generosity in the human spirit.

Everything comes full circle, and I can only imagine how beautiful that 360th degree is going to be for you. Not only are you giving life, but you’ve given me back my positive outlook on life. Because of you, I feel full again. I feel full of happiness, and once again full of the belief that a life with children is possible. The level of gratitude I have for you is immeasurable.

Your consistency of optimism through the six months of legal struggles to make this pregnancy happen was awe-inspiring and kept me on the right track. You never drifted. You never changed your mind. You pushed through with your fists in the air, a smile on your face, and ringside pep talks that made me stand back up and fight – even when I felt the weakest. You always believed in us as a team, and you always believed in this baby.

I can and will try to express my gratitude in words and gifts, but it won’t be enough.  I could send it to you in the form of a million sunflowers, but they wouldn’t be bright enough. I could roll out a red carpet every time you take a step forward, but it wouldn’t be long enough.  I could climb the tallest mountain and shout my gratitude from there, but it wouldn’t be loud enough. So, how do I properly thank you? I don’t think I can. I’m going to leave this in the hands of God because I know He has a gift for you that is bigger than anything I could ever tie a bow around.

In just a couple months, surrounded by so much love, this little girl is finally going to make her appearance. I can’t help but imagine what she’ll look like. I hope she has my curly hair and dimples and Ryan’s perfect skin and nose.  And if we’re lucky, Jordan, one of your traits will slip through the ropes of our DNA, and she’ll grow up with your giving heart.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I love you.

Sarah

10 Tips to Get Your Girlfriend to Watch Football

nfl football fans cheer at television sport

I didn’t always love football. No, that’s not true. I’ve always loved the energy that surrounds football and football season, but I didn’t always have love for the actual game. The reason? I didn’t understand it, and no one was patient enough to teach me. Finally, I met my husband, and he did it right. I’m now dragging him out of the house to watch football. Let’s get your girl to the Red Zone with these 10 tips to get your girlfriend to watch football.

1) Let her know you actually want her to watch it with you. This is the most basic, but most important tip.

2) Be patient with her. If she repeatedly asks you questions about certain plays, or what some specific jargon means, explain it to her. It only takes a minute (not a football game kind of minute), and she’s one step closer to understanding the game.

3) Even if it’s just for a moment, pay attention to her during the game. Okay, during commercials. Okay, during commercials if said commercials aren’t during the Super Bowl.

4) Include her when you’re giving your buds a high five, but only give it 50% of your strength. Everyone likes a high five. Some of us just prefer one without the macho whelps and blisters.

5) Get her a sexy jersey to wear for your favorite sports team. You’ll definitely want her around when she’s wearing it.

6) If she wants to wear a pink jersey, let her.

7) This is something I’ve discovered, and maybe it’s sneaky, but you guys are always twisting or squeezing something during sports. (Hopefully not you-know-what – you aren’t five years old.) Instead of gripping on to the remote for dear life, put your hand on her shoulder or her leg. She might as well get a free massage while she can, whether you know you’re doing it or not.

8) Have you heard of NFL Survivor? It’s the NFL game with the simplest concept and a ridiculous amount of cash to be won. Ready? At the beginning of the season, pick one team to win each week. You must put in your decision for the week by Thursday. You can never pick that team again. Once you’ve chosen a team that loses, you’re out. If you let her get in on this, not only will she be rooting for teams she never would’ve before, so will you.

9) If she can’t keep her eyes off Jordan Cameron or JJ Watt, don’t hold it against her. You’ve got smokin’ cheerleaders to look at, and doesn’t she deserve a little eye candy too?

10) If all else fails, and she’s really just a bummer to have around during football games, don’t force her to be there. Give her some cash and tell her to go shopping. You’ve got a game to watch.

Do you have your own sneaky ways that have worked for you? Let me know. I’d love to hear about them!

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6 Books That Will Make You Happy and Successful

Old books stacked on top of each other in a sepia tone color.

6 Books That Will Make You Happy and Successful

I love reading self-help books. These books are uplifting and educational, they guide you, and teach you how to live a happier and more successful life. (Assuming, of course, you actually read them.) They assist you in all aspects of your life whether you’re male, female, young, old, hairy, not hairy.  Here’s a short list of some of my absolute favorite self-help books.

  1. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie (There are so many great slap-you-in-the-face, get-over-it, pieces of advice in here.)
  2. The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol (Do you like to be inspired? I like to be inspired. Go get inspired.)
  3. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy (Yes, you’ve been told a million times to think positively, but Dr. Murphy will make you understand how and why it really is important.)
  4. Life is a Verb:  37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh (If you’re going to buy this book, you have to buy the real book.  It’s total eye candy.)
  5. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers  (Yeah, you just might jump out of a plane.)
  6. The Greatest Salesman in the World by OG Mandino (This is a classic, and one of the most passed around books for a good reason. Follow the directions, and don’t jump ahead.)

These links will take you directly to Amazon.  I did the hard work of searching for them, now you just decide which ones you want to read!  Or, if you find that you don’t have time to read them, I’m pretty sure the majority of these books are in some sort of audio format.  Instead of spending 45 minutes driving to work and listening to music, you could download the audio book and begin your day with one of these babies!

What are you waiting for? Close your eyes and point to your screen. The book your finger just landed on? Go buy it. Wait, are libraries still a thing?  Get yourself a library card, and enter a world that smells better than any you’ve ever experienced. Unless you’ve been to Martha Stewart’s house.  I’m sure it smells like warm vanilla unicorns.

Enjoy these magical books.  I’ll be posting more book recommendations soon, but until then, let me know what you think about these selections.

Happy reading!

Sarah

 

To Watch Him Leave

I’d be a fool to say I didn’t know it was coming.  Something this perfect couldn’t have lasted.  I just didn’t expect it to come so soon.

I watched as he put his belongings into a bag.  As one item, and another item, disappeared from our lives together, I felt my chest tighten. He was packing the most fragile pieces of my heart.

He said it wasn’t because he’d found someone else.  He said he wasn’t happy, and that I was the only person who’d given him a shred of hope for a good life when he moved to Texas for work.  His contract ended, and he said I wasn’t enough to sustain a life outside of the world he grew up in. He said people were different back home. He said there he knew a different kind of happiness. He said I wouldn’t fit in.

He was my happiness.

With a packed bag over his shoulder and his back to me, I thought I heard pain in his voice. “I want you to know that you own a very deep and personal part of my heart.  You always will. But, I don’t love you the way you need me to. I’m sorry.”

Through watery eyes, I tried to memorize every last detail about the man I’d vowed to love forever. I knew I’d never see him again.

My knees couldn’t withstand the heaviness of my heart, and I fell to the ground.  I dug my nails into the carpet and looked up at the ceiling. I begged, “Please God, help me.”

The Wrong Time

dark-sky-depression

Alarm clock, off.  One foot in front of the other, just like the doctor said. I shower, brush my teeth, look in the mirror, and hate myself. Twenty-three hours and nineteen minutes left in the day.

I get dressed, microwave a breakfast heart attack, and turn over an empty bottle of depression meds. Shit, not good.  Five months of refills and the pharmacy doesn’t open until 8 a.m. when I need to be at work. I hate that job and everything about it.  Why did they hire me for customer service?  I don’t sound happy. I’ve never sounded happy because I’ve never been happy. I hate the fake chit-chat, the “How are you doing?” every Godawful morning without a second’s wait for my answer, though I never respond.

I start my walk. My pharmacy is a block from work.  I’ll clock in late at 8:10 a.m., someone will notice, and they’ll tell the boss I’m slacking again.  I’m always screwing up somehow.

I pass Rusty’s Drinkery. Good thing it’s not open this early – Jack Daniels is a great kisser.

I feed my brain its anti-depressant and start the path to paycheck Hell.  I make it two steps, and I see the exterior of my building rupture into a tidal wave of glass and fire. Blood claws at the sky, and I shield my eyes from the smoke and death.  No one survived that.

Jealousy burns inside of me. Of all mornings, I had to run out of meds today.

The Drive

I didn’t actually intend on getting out for a drive that day; it just sort of happened. Lost in thoughts and stories and dreams of a different life, I’d like to say I tried to stop, but I won’t lie.

Yes, I saw him.  He stood on the side of the road, arms in the air, telling me to slow down. I didn’t dare meet his gaze. Just a few miles up, again he stood, red-faced and angry. With a clenched fist he shouted, “Stop everything! Think about this! Don’t you go any farther!”

He told me turn around. He told me to take another route.  He pointed out a safer road, but I knew that road would only lead me back to him. Each time he appeared, my white-knuckled fingers gripped the steering wheel harder, and I drove faster.

I pressed hard on the pedal, and with each added bit of pressure, fewer signs appeared on the long, sustaining road, and the less I saw his face.

“This road is no good for you! It’ll never bring you back to me,” I could hear him say.  His head hung low. He knew defeat sat waiting at the next intersection.

My sharp gaze down the center white lines softened, and I saw clouds open to reveal a final exit sign. It was my last chance to turn around. So, I kept going.