VALUES

Just an FYI, this post is kind of long. I couldn’t write about fashion before getting this all off my chest first. I normally wouldn’t stray from what this blog is about but hopefully y’all get to know me a little (probably a lot) better after reading this. I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas, and I don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to saying goodbye to 2014! Bring on the new year!

Think back 5 years ago, what are 3 things you valued? For my self, at the age of 19, it would have been:

  1. My horses
  2. Barrel Racing
  3. Rodeo

Are your values the same today? I’ll just give y’all a spoiler right now, mine are not. With fashion, I’ve talked about dressing appropriately, embracing change and going out on a limb. But to me, what’s really most important is what you value as a person. Some people may say that many young people today have no values. While that may fall true to some, life has sure taught me a few things these last couple of years.

When I think back 5 years ago, no matter what was going on in my life, I could always count on my horses. I rode when I was happy, and I rode when I was sad. All I really cared about was if I had enough in my bank account to write a check for my entry fees that weekend, along with a hope and prayer diesel prices stayed at decent price. 

My life the last 5 years looks like the line on the right, to a T. And I’m pretty sure I’m still half way through the tangled mess. But thats okay.

YEP! I just admitted that I’m okay with this crazy journey.

Many of you may be wondering why I took such a hiatus from this blog. I wish I could say despite everything I stuck with it and really made it a priority, but I’m definitely alright I did not.

In February of 2013 I received a phone call from my Dad. I was just hanging out at my apartment when he asked if it was a good time to talk. You know that song, with the line “We’re all just one phone call from our knees…”? That was the phone call for me. My Dad proceeded to tell me he had just been diagnosed with ALS. Huh? I had no clue what that was. But after typing those three letters into Google, all the information I could find made one thing clear, it was terminal.

I’ll be honest and say all that came out of my mouth after that was “Well f…”

I don’t know what I would have done with out my roommates, and my best friends during those first few months. Wether it was my boss letting me ball my eyes out at work if I needed to, Katelyn taking me to get fajitas at our favorite Mexican restaurant (3 times a week) or my girls taking me out for drinks so I could just have some fun. Y’all are angels. And to the boy I realized I couldn’t count on, I’m thankful I couldn’t! Mostly because I might not have decided to move back home to live with my parents as soon as I did.

I said good bye to the life I had made, and all my amazing friends and moved in with my Mom and Dad. That was in June of 2013 and I thank God, sincerely, for helping me make that decision. The year that followed changed my life forever. When fate signs you up for ALS you kind of just learn as you go. Maybe I’ll write a beginners guide to this shitty (and horrible) disease someday, because you become an expert real quick.

For some ALS patients the disease is very gradual, others it can take over seemingly very quickly. The kicker? You just wait and see. There is one approved drug, that may or may not help. And its said to really only slow down the initial beginning signs of ALS. What really helps prolong their life is technology. I would like to say it helps them have a better quality of life but I want this post to be honest. ALS has no discretion who it targets. My Dad was an athlete, a basketball coach, a teacher for 27 years, in great shape, loved working out, and doing about 1,000 crunches a day. (I’m not joking) And I’m pretty sure he could strike up an hour long conversation with anyone, regardless if he knew them or not. So imagine that was you, and then slowly having a disease take everything you love to do away from you. You slowly become paralyzed, your brain stays unscathed while you are trapped in a useless body. It started out that he couldn’t lift a box, then he couldn’t keep his balance, things like brushing his teeth became an exerting task. It was when he received his first bi-pap machine that I think it set in how serious it was getting.

In August 2013 we moved up to just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. My Dad was getting increasingly worse and my brother and my Dad’s amazing brothers and sisters wanted to help my mom and I take care of him. Let me tell you when a man that is 6’4″ falls down and can’t help you get him back up, its not an easy task. Auntie Pam and Uncle David you are amazing, and God wouldn’t have had us live with anyone else! I would never take back the time I was able to spend with my Dad. I would hold his arm, feed him his lunch, walk him to the bathroom, and drive us to McDonald’s (chicken nuggets were his favorite). I’d patiently remind him he really didn’t want to try and talk while eating because he really didn’t want me attempting the heimlich maneuver – all that and more, all over again.

The first value that changed? Family. I realized how AMAZING mine is. Just everyone. We all came together to support my Dad and I know he was so thankful for each and every one of you.

Once we had moved, we quickly realized the transition we would be taking. Spending more and more time at the Dr.’s. My Dad had an incredible group of individuals looking after him. Dr. Elliot you are amazing! And Simi and Piper, thank you so much, just for everything. The first major procedure my Dad underwent was having a diaphragm stimulator put in. Similar to what athletes use to stimulate their sore muscles, this device caused my Dad’s diaphragm to flex at intervals in hopes that it would allow his diaphragm to plateau and not deteriorate. Take a deep breath, congratulations! Your diaphragm probably just successfully pushed air in and out of your lungs. Now press your hands firmly on your chest, a little harder to take a deep breath? Now imagine something even heavier, almost making it completely impossible to lift your chest, thats what my Dad faced. That feeling of suffocating was the hardest thing to watch my Dad go through. Yes its true ALS technically doesn’t attack ones ability to think, but it puts someone through the toughest mental battle I think anyone could face.

What happens as a result of lungs not taking normal breaths in and out is the mucus. I lost count of how many times my Dad told me he hated mucus. Thus the next lovely piece of technology, a suction machine! When your diaphragm is weak, you have a build up of mucus and you also are unable to cough to clear it out. The suction machine takes the place of coughing essentially. One of the last things to become effected was my Dad’s legs. Going up two flights of stairs made a usually simple task feel like running 10 miles. Thankfully, we were able to purchase a stairlift! Thank you so much to everyone that had a part in helping us pay for that. Again, y’all are angels. My Dad had no shame using that, it meant he could stay independent a little longer. I can’t forget the look on his face when he got to ride it up the stairs the first time. Then my Dad started to really lose his voice.

I think the most heart breaking thing was watching my Dad unable to speak. Here was someone who could talk about anything and everything and wanted to, yet he was facing this wall. He couldn’t express what he wanted the same way, my family and I had to learn to communicate completely different. I became an expert at asking yes or no questions. I felt so so so bad. I wanted him to be able to tell me if he wanted his pillow moved, his hands placed differently, or if he wanted to watch something on t.v. I wanted to do everything I could for him and yet he couldn’t tell me. He thankfully received a Tobii computer that allowed him to spell out or pick phrases with just the look of his eyes. It was an eye-recognition software and I wish he had had more time with it and been able to really use it.

My next value that changed: My health. I am young, I have so much life left to live. How could I take for granted the body that I have been given? Why would I ever take for granted the ability to wake up and go for a run. To breath, to eat the things I love, to talk freely. To tell the ones I love how much they mean to me. That was a hard lesson to learn but to learn it at such a young age I am blessed.

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In June 2014 I spent a lot of time sitting next to my Dad in a hospital bed. It took a group of young men at the hospital to lift my Dad from a support chair to his bed a couple times a day. He had a bi-pap machine on at all times. He had a feeding tube and catheter. How did this happen so fast? How did we get to this point? I just held his hand for a long time. He’d ask for a hug a lot. I would just hold him, hoping that somehow we could comfort him. How do you comfort someone facing what he’s facing? How do you tell someone that’s terminally ill that its going to be okay? You can’t really. But you can pray. You can have faith. You can make a pandora station for his favorite band Simon and Garfunkel. You can just sit there with him, whether he sleeps the whole 5 hours you’re in that chair or not, you’re there with him. The last Father’s day we spent with him we decked out his room with Seahawks colored streamers and huge obnoxious number one Dad cards. Earlier that year I was able to take him to a Seahawks home game (Thank you so much Addie and Reggie!), it happened to be the only game we would lose at home that year but he had a blast anyways. My favorite memory is all of us together, the whole family, in the living room watching as Richard Sherman tipped that last throw in their playoff game vs. the 49ers. And knowing my Dad got to see that, that he got to see the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl. And then he got to see his favorite football team win their first Super Bowl EVER. I’ll always hold those memories close, I’ll always watch their games with my Dad’s voice in my head. Saying what the refs should or should not be doing. What the offense needed to tweak, once a coach, always a coach. I love you Dad.

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June 20th 2014 we said goodbye.

To everyone that supported my Dad, and my family and myself during this journey, thank you. Whether you knew you had a part in it or not, thank you. Thank you to one of his regular RN’s those last few days Jill, we are so thankful that you took care of him, and thank you to the palliative Dr. that was with us (I’m sorry I can’t remember your name at the moment!) Thank you to my Dad’s best friend Todd, my friend Riley, and my Aunt Barb who all spoke with me at his memorial. Todd, thank you for being such big support and looking out for me, me being your adopted daughter is exactly what my Dad would have wanted.  To my whole family, my Dad’s and Mom’s families both. You are all amazing. Cousin James, you are more like a brother to me, thank you for the hikes to clear my mind, all the donuts, cinnamon bears and every other crazy adventure, you kept me sane, I love you.  To my big brother, I love you and look up to you so much!

My mom deserves her own paragraph. You are my Dad’s guardian angel. No one could have had that much patience, loyalty, and faith in him. You were an amazing care giver, wife, mother and sister during this whole time. I love you so much and couldn’t have asked for a better role model and best friend.

My Dad’s faith gives me faith, and comfort. That I have an incredible guardian angel now. My faith has also become a huge value and part of my life. While some hard times make people question God’s plan, I’m thankful this experience  has brought me closer. My final value I learned is following my dreams. Each time I make a barrel run on my horse I think of my Dad. I know he’d want me chasing my dreams and that is exactly what I’m going to do.

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Yes, I still exist.

I will write up a new post soon but I’m so excited I finally figured out a word-press login issue that I just had to say HEY! I’ve been busy riding this pretty pony. Hope you all have had an amazing Christmas Day.  Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Rochelle and Trixie

CHANGE

“The only constant is change.” 

Truer words have never been spoken. People change, lives change, fashion changes. Its our ability to adapt and make the most of every situation life throws at us that separates the winners from the losers. Whether they’re curve balls or a fast ball down the middle you better be ready.

Recently I’ve realized how important eating healthy is and have made huge changes. Seeing my parents and grandparents grow older has given me a more sincere perspective on where I want to be at their age. Its amazing how much better I feel physically and mentally. I used to use the excuse “I don’t gain weight so I can eat what ever I want.” False. Yeah its cool I can eat 3 big macs a day and not gain a pound, its so NOT cool how unhealthy that is for the rest of my body. A friend of mine always kept saying to me, “If you eat healthy your body will crave healthy foods, you eat junk food your body will crave junk food.” I don’t crave junk food anymore thats for sure. So what the heck does this have to do with fashion? Its called not being afraid.

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Fashion always has trends, they come and go and some just keep coming back. Either way we shouldn’t be afraid of change. Don’t ever think you can’t pull something off just because its different. You know the biggest difference between someone who looks good in cheetah print jeans and someone who doesn’t? Confidence. And I’m not talking about walking around like you have a stick up where the sun don’t shine and pocket full of your parent’s credit cards. Be confident in who you are as a person. Beauty starts from the inside, always. (Your mom wasn’t kidding.) Go shopping, go try different things on. See what things you like on and what you don’t. Figure out what size you are and what works best with your body shape and have FUN. The clothes we wear shouldn’t be torture, and neither should shopping. I grab all sorts of things to try on,  yeah I’m the one laughing out loud in the dressing room from how ridiculous a high-low skirt looks with my twig legs. Its just you and a mirror, no one needs to know how many mini-skirts you tried on only to walk out with a pretty chevron print maxi dress.

There are inspiring stories all around us of people braving far more treacherous things then a dressing room in Macy’s. Whether the battles you face are big or as small as convincing your self you can pull off a two-piece this summer, don’t be afraid of change. Sometimes its the little things that keep us going, and sometimes the littlest achievements lead to biggest leaps we’ve ever taken. Change is going to happen with or without you. You got this.

YOUR NEW BFF

Get up, throw on some jeans or let’s just be honest, keep your pajama pants on. Followed by stepping into your boots and out the door to the greetings of what ever creatures you having waiting outside. One thing I’m very thankful for is that my horses will never judge if I walk into the barn looking the same way as I did when I got out of bed that morning. And my dog will always still want to give me kisses. After your blissfully unfashionable morning getting hay stuck down your bra and horse hairs all over your sweatshirt you are forced back inside to change into something a little more presentable. Whether that be a run to the nearest store, your job, or dropping the kids off at school. This brings me to introduce you to your new best friend: Infinity Scarves.

Simple, easy, and fashionable. What more could we ask for right? All you need is some jeans, a solid colored top and a scarf. You’re ready to head out and look like you actually spent more then 15 minutes getting ready that morning. The reason I suggest an infinity scarf over other styles is once you put it on there is no fuss, no adjusting it when one side gets longer then the other and other such annoying things associated with them. You don’t even have to worry about whether you’re wearing it correctly or not! Just throw it over your head and you’re good to go. Everyone is on the infinity scarf bandwagon so your accessibility to this trend is going to be pretty easy as well. Since the scarf is simply fabric, prices are going to vary based on the quality. Mine that I wear all the time cost 14.99 and is a dark gray with black cheetah print, I love it, and it goes with a lot. Finding one that is a neutral color palette will mean you’re more likely to get more wear out of it. Here are some examples of simple colors:

  You can also do the opposite approach and find scarves in your favorite bright colors then pair them with neutral colored tops. I would check out Kohl’s website, when I was looking for scarves to include in the post, they had several marked down, a lot even 50% off regular price! Just fair warning, if you wear your scarf to feed, it will catch every piece of loose hay that comes in contact with it.

Vendor Spotlight: UNBRIDLED

I recently had the pleasure of getting in contact with the owner of a boutique located in Ada, Oklahoma. Unbridled is a unique place full of all things fashionable and girly with a western twist. When browsing Facebook for western vendors I came across their page (Which you can check out via this link.) I scrolled through quality pictures of awesome outfits already put together. Accompanied by descriptions and prices with the invite to buy directly off their page. Their description is:

“Trends are made, not followed. Unbridled is a Store that has home decor, clothing and accessories that will get you noticed! Style without limits or restraints, a little bit country, gypsy, hippie and some southern charm!”

After some Q & A I found out that the store was started in 2010 by three ladies Dawn Christian, Vicki Christian and Chea Christian. Some of the brands they will have in stock are: Double D, Ranch Royalty, Corral, Twisted X, Gypsy Soule, Sookie Sookie, Tasha Polizzi, Patricia Wolf, Johnny Was , RU cowgirl, Stetson etc. They sell things in store and via Facebook. See something you like? You’re welcome to give them a call, see what sizes are available and have it shipped right out!

So what item did I find a “must-have” for myself? This top by Johnny Was, known for  their gorgeous embroidery and its such a simple look. Throw on your top, a necklace, jeans and you’re set to head out the door!

Be sure to check out their Facebook page as they have an anniversary sale coming up on September 29th and when they reach 4,000 fans there will be a giveaway!