Throwback Thursday: A Cursed Weekend

It was a busy Friday at work. I was the receptionist at a small insurance company – a job I loathed, but was too insecure and full of self-doubt to do anything about it at the time. I’d been ignoring the urge to pee so I could finish distributing the mail and putting people’s used coffee cups into the dishwasher before my boss could find something to nitpick about.

When I finally made it to the bathroom, I was surprised that, although I felt like I had to go urgently, not that much came out. And it burned a little. Weird, I thought, but I ignored it and made a mental note to drink more water.

By the end of the day, after multiple uncomfortable peeing episodes, and a few WebMD articles later, I realized I was likely coming down with a bladder infection. I’d never had one before, so I figured I would just make sure to chug a bunch of water and flush it out. It would be like a having a cold, right?

I hopped in my car and drove straight to Vermont. I’d been looking forward to spending the weekend with my family. I sipped on water as I drove, but was careful not to drink too much because I didn’t want to stop too many times. By the time I got to the rest area in Vermont, I thought I might die. I rushed into the bathroom, only to struggle painfully to release the contents of my bladder.

Nevertheless, I persisted. I continued on my journey to the family home, which was another hour and a half drive away. Once there, I was relieved to be in close proximity to a toilet at all times, and I made an attempt to drink more.

The next day was the same. It was uncomfortable, but I could bear it. I chatted with my parents, and played games with my brothers. We ate lots of food and took a leisurely walk down to the pond and back again. I convinced myself that it wasn’t really a bladder infection and that I was probably fine.

That night, I tossed and turned. I got up to pee multiple times. In the morning, I felt horrible. I went downstairs to have breakfast but the nausea was so intense that I couldn’t keep sitting upright. I was also freezing cold. I wrapped myself in quilts and lay on the couch.

My parents looked at me with concern. I told them that I thought I had a bladder infection but I wasn’t sure because I’d never had one before. “It hurts to pee!” I cried as I shivered uncontrollably under the blankets, unable to get warm.

After a little convincing, I agreed to let my mom take me to the emergency room. I must have looked like death warmed over. When we arrived and explained the situation, I was given a collection cup and told to provide a urine sample. I stumbled to the all-inclusive unisex/handicapped/family party time bathroom that was just off the waiting area and squeezed out what I could into the cup. It was the color of apple cider. (Sorry if you like apple cider.)

The nurse laughed when I handed the cup back to him. “Uh, yeah, looks like you have a bladder infection!” he said. Then he told me to sit and wait.

Before long, they put me in a private room with a bed. I changed into the hospital gown, got into the bed, and collapsed onto the pillow as they covered me with warm blankets. It was a surreal feeling to be in a hospital bed with my mom by my side. Talk about a throwback.

The doctor came in and stood at an awkward distance as he asked me about my symptoms. He agreed that it was a bladder infection, and the urine sample was ample evidence. He said that if I had waited any longer, it would have become a kidney infection. This was alarming news. If I hadn’t been with my parents, would I have had the sense to get myself to a hospital for treatment before it got that bad?

The painkillers and fluids in the IV worked wonders, and soon I was feeling much better. Even the nurses commented that I looked more alive. My dad stopped in to see how I was doing before he headed down to Philadelphia for work. Normally I would have been heading back to CT myself, but decided to go back to the family home and get a good night’s sleep first.

The next day dawned to snowy/icy conditions. I called out of work, a legitimate sick day, and began my drive south. I was feeling a lot better – the violent, painful urge to pee had subsided, so I felt confident I could make the trip. I drove along, being careful on the icy roads, but not fearful. I’d driven in worse.

After about an hour of driving, I began mentally drifting off and forgot to pay attention to my speed. I was heading for Proctorsville Gulf, on Route 103 (if you’ve ever driven to Ludlow to ski, you’ll know the part I’m talking about). It’s a section of road that goes between two mountains, and it’s somewhat steep and curvy. In the wintertime, the sun barely reaches down to the road, so it’s the perfect spot for icy conditions to form.

I came out of my daydream long enough to notice that the road was pretty slick and that I needed to take my speed down a notch. Absent-mindedly, I pressed my foot on the brake, and immediately the car began to slide on the ice. I veered into the oncoming lanes of traffic (fortunately no one was there) and pressed my foot harder on the brake out of desperation. I yanked the steering wheel to the right, anxious to get back in my lane. The next thing I knew, the car was sliding sideways down the road, and I was heading straight toward a guard rail.

I braced myself for impact – squeezing my eyes tight and clutching the steering wheel. BAM! The car slammed into the guard rail head on and bounced back a few feet.

Surprisingly, my airbag did not inflate. I sat in stunned silence for a second. The car had shut off. I quickly restarted it so I could get my car off the road before someone else lost control and slammed into me. I pulled over after the guard rail ended and got out to look at the damage. One headlight had popped out and was dangling like a zombie eyeball. The license plate was bent, but otherwise the car looked unscathed. I could hardly believe it.

Another car slowly drove past and pulled over a few feet in front of me. A young guy leapt out. “Are you ok?” he looked at me incredulously. “I saw you lose control and I was so scared!” I admitted that I was a bit shaken, but physically unharmed. I refrained from telling him about my bladder situation.

He asked if he should call the police or an ambulance, but I said I was fine and I just wanted to get home. He popped the headlight back in for me and went on his way.

Back in the car, I noticed that the bottle of juice I’d been drinking had coated the entire stereo system, the cup holders and the gear shifter, and that all the stuff I’d had on the seat next to me was now on the floor. I wiped up the juice and situated myself as best I could, and proceeded with the journey.

An hour and a half later, I stopped for gas in Springfield, MA. I went to the Pride station just off of 91, which was one I often went to with my brother Kris  when we’d drive to Vermont together. He lived nearby, and I wondered what he was up to as I began pumping gas.

All of a sudden, a gruff voice behind me said, “Give me all your money, bitch!” I froze for a second. I knew Springfield had some problems, but could I really be getting robbed in broad daylight in the middle of a busy gas station? And wasn’t this just my luck – I’d been gravely ill, nearly killed myself in a car accident and now I was being harassed at a gas station.

I turned around warily to face my attacker. I was in such a mood that I was ready to tell them to go rob someone else. It was Kris! I almost cried with relief. I was glad to see him, even if he did try to scare the crap out of me.

I managed to make it the rest of the way home without any more dramatic incidents. Once there, I collapsed into Dave’s arms and drowned my sorrows with cranberry juice and antibiotics.

I never did figure out why that February weekend in 2009 was so cursed for me – was it karma for something I had done? Who knows. I did learn that if I ever feel burning when I pee, I’d better get myself to the doctor ASAP and not assume that I can heal myself with water and a prayer.

Accidental Adrenaline Rush

A few weeks before Christmas, I treated myself to a little personal shopping spree at Marshalls. Since my purse was big and heavy, I decided to leave it in the car, and just bring in my wallet and my phone.

Upon entering the store, I grabbed a shopping cart and placed my wallet and my phone on the seat. (My wallet is too big to fit in my coat pocket… I don’t know why everything I have in this story was too big, but that’s just how it was.)

So I had my wallet and phone on the seat, and I was being hyper alert because I felt like my wallet was very exposed and someone could just snatch it right out of there. I kept the cart close as I turned slightly to look at a sweater on display.

Just then, two big teenage boys walked past me, really quickly. I had a brief flash of worry about them somehow snatching my phone and my wallet while I was turned away.  I glanced at my valuables, but was startled to see neither my wallet or my phone!

I was immediately struck with panic. I looked at the backs of the tall boys walking briskly away and wondered how this would go down. My head buzzed like a swarm of angry insects. My heart seized in my chest. If I’d been wearing pearls, I would have clutched them. I opened my mouth to call out, but my body was flooding with feelings – burning, tingling, fight/flight/freeze feelings.

My body frozen, I turned my eyes down to the cart once again and realized that the plastic flap that had been pushed up to close the leg holes had fallen down. I shakily reached down and lifted the flap, and there behind it was my wallet and my phone.

I breathed a sigh of relief and fought back a wave of nausea. All of this happened within a 30-second period, but I felt like I’d just done some intense cardio. I calmly pulled the sweater off the rack and placed it over my wallet and phone to protect them from further potential robberies during the rest of my night, and continued casually strolling through the store, not wanting anyone to see me looking flustered.

I was so glad I hadn’t yelled “Those boys took my wallet!”

Lesson learned: I’m too delicate to take these kind of risks, so from now on I need to keep my wallet in my bag. Or get a smaller wallet. Or maybe a chain.

Souvenirs You Never Lose

In this new year, i’m going to be reposting some of my earliest blog posts. Some of these are really good, if I may say so myself, and I would like for some of the newer folks to get a chance to read them.

This one is about coming to terms with my imperfections and realizing that I wouldn’t be ME without them!

I hope you enjoy…

Uncommon Heather

Every once in a while I think of that Goo Goo Dolls song, ‘Name’, which has the line “Scars are souvenirs you never lose The past is never far.” It brings to mind superficial scars, like the crescent shaped scar on my forearm, where our dog Tasha bit me when I tried to take a chicken bone from her. It usually takes a moment or two of deeper thinking before I remember how many scars I have.

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Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! I hope you got to relax and take time off from work over these past few weeks. Dave and I had a glorious week+ off. We enjoyed time with family and friends and caught up on sleep and even took a few walks in the bitter, bitter cold land in which we live.

Are you the kind of person who sets goals at the beginning of every year? I tend to set (and unset) goals at random throughout the year. Like in July, after I was sick as a dog for a week, I set a goal to meditate every day. Today is the one-hundred and fifty-second day in a row that I have sat in silence at least once a day.  I’ve learned that it’s pretty simple to incorporate something into the day when it only takes 10-20 minutes of your time. Especially when you tack it onto a pre-existing routine, like getting ready for bed.

Some of my vague goals for 2018 are:

  • start writing my autobiography
  • find & enter at least two short story contests
  • improve diet to include more fruits & veg and less processed food
  • sleep at least 7 hrs every night, not just on the weekends
  • exercise, ya lazy bum!
  • there are more goals, but I’ll reveal those as I attain them…

Start writing my autobiography

I’ve already got half my autobiography written on this blog, so it’s just a matter of compiling and editing and I’m off to a great start.Willy Wonka - Ohh you wrote an autobiography  Please, tell me more about yourself

Find & enter at least two short story contests

This should push me outside my comfort zone a bit, and give me a new challenge.

I think we've all had a moment like this...

Improve diet to include more fruits & veg and less processed food

I’m already a pretty healthy eater, though my weakness is snack foods. (As I typed that I realized I forgot to have my after dinner cookie, but it’s too late now. So… guess I’m off to a good start there.)Image result for smoothie meme

I am currently focusing on going totally vegan, which means I just have to cut out the entire block of Cabot cheese I was consuming weekly.  Cut the cheese, Heather!

Also, we’re getting a Ninja so we can make better smoothies, so watch out for us!

Sleep at least 7 hrs every night, not just on the weekends

Going to bed is very hard for me… even though I love sleeping, I always think of one (or five) more things to do before I go to bed. It results in my staying up later than I should, and feeling like death warmed over in the morning. So it’s really time I got this under control.

You will go to sleep or i will put you to sleep - You will go to sleep or i will put you to sleep  Happy Gilmore Nurse
You’re in my world now, Grandma.

Exercise, ya lazy bum!

Confession: I have gained 20 pounds over the last several years. Probably 10 in the last year alone. I don’t weigh myself at home, but the last time I had a physical and I got on the scale, I was like,Lil Jon | WHAT? | image tagged in dave chappelle | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

I have to admit, it made sense. I had noticed that some of my pants which had once been loose were now very snug. The harsh realities of weight gain were finally something I’d have to deal with. I guess having a desk job, loving snacks, and not getting enough sleep (or exercise) has really caught up to me.

On that note – it’s time for me to get to bed!

What are your goals for 2018?

Live your Legend Challenge #7 – What Revolution Will You Lead?

As I sit here, snugly nestled on the couch under a duvet, with a purring cat by my side, Christmas lights twinkling around the room, candles flickering, and a hot cup of tea in one hand… I’m ready to lead the revolution of comfort and coziness.

Life in this modern day can be harsh. We’re constantly being bombarded with noise, with advertising, with calls-to-action, with demands on our time and energy. It’s hard to get away from it, when much of it comes from these little devices we carry with us everywhere.

I’ll advocate that we all take a hint from the Danes, and get hygge with it. Hygge, if you haven’t already heard, is the Danish mindset of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Cozy contentment.

Is it groundbreaking and revolutionary? Maybe not – but it’s certainly different from the usual rat race, and I think it’s good if we all take some time to unplug from the craziness and spend more time with our loved ones, snuggling with our pets, and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

Live Your Legend Challenge # 6 – What difference do you want to make?

It’s a total cliché statement, and I even have a sticker of it right here on my laptop – Be the change you wish to see in the world. (Sidenote: although this is attributed to Ghandi, it’s really a condensed version of what he said.)

But anyway, it’s still a decent concept to live by.  Like the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Treat all living things the way you want to be treated. Live the way you wish everyone would live, the way you feel is best for the planet and our fellow earthlings. Be an example.

I don’t know how much difference it really makes to just BE your best self. Is it really that inspiring to those around you? Does anyone actually notice?

If it did, wouldn’t everyone I know have become a vegetarian by now, and have discarded all their excess stuff in a full embrace of minimalism? Also, could we have freaking shorter work days? I must be doing something wrong.

I guess the difference I really want to make in people’s lives is to bring more joy into them in some way or another. Either by sharing a story that touches them, or by sharing art that moves them, or by straight up reaching out and being a good friend to someone. I want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I want to teach people how to take better care of their health, and the health of the environment. Basically, I want to be your favorite elementary school teacher, Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson all rolled into one.

Live Your Legend Challenge #5 – The Elevator Pitch

Doesn’t everyone love a good story? As a writer, an artist and a budding public speaker, I am constantly thinking of the next story to tell.  I write from the heart and I find that personal stories resonate with others. I enjoy writing for others too, like today’s post on the NFED blog. My best speaking performances happen when I share a story that will touch your heart, make you laugh, and later, have you thinking back and wanting to find out more about the topic.

I have dreams of one day appearing on that round red carpet, doing my very own TED talk. I can see myself standing in front of an audience of school children, as part of an anti-bullying campaign, or as a motivational speaker. Of course this would also be supplemented by colorfully illustrated children’s books, and an autobiography for the older crowd.

While I’m certainly not the first person to share their own story in hopes of educating or motivating others, I know that since my own story has so many facets, I am adaptable to many different situations. I’d like to use my storytelling abilities to help others share their stories too. Not everyone feels confident writing or publicly speaking about their experiences, but with my skills, I could be their voice.

What stories do you enjoy hearing? How can I help you share your story?

Live Your Legend Challenge #4 – What’s One Thing You’re Proud of?

I’m proud of getting myself out of debt and getting my finances under control. When I graduated from UConn in 2008, I had student loan debt, personal loan debt and a hefty credit card debt. In total it was over $60,000.

That might not seem like much – I’ve heard horror stories of people graduating with 6-figure debt – but this was more money than I’d ever owed (also more than I could even earn in a year at that point) and it was seriously upsetting when I realized how long it was going to take to pay it off. If I did nothing but pay the minimum on the credit card, I would be paying it for the rest of my life.

I bought a couple of financial self-help books and got down to work. I tackled the credit card debt first, and once that was out of the way, I focused on the personal loan. It took years to get it all under control. I actually still owe a little on my student loans, but at this point it makes more sense for me to keep my money in my savings account vs. paying off the loan early.

Getting my finances under control was awesome. When I owed more money than I was bringing in, I felt like I was drowning in debt. I felt very insecure – like the slightest unexpected expense was going to push me into poverty forever.

Coming up with a plan and sticking to it was really satisfying, especially as I saw the progress I was making. After a while, my nervousness about my financial stability subsided and I began feeling more confident.

It wasn’t an easy road. To really make progress I had to be very frugal with my money. No eating out, no impulse shopping sprees, no vacations to exotic locations. It was tough, especially when I saw friends on Facebook doing all kinds of stuff seemingly without a care. But it was worth the effort. Now I have a “sunny outlook” in my retirement account, I have an emergency fund, and I have more money in my savings account than I owe on my car or on my remaining student loan. Woo hoo, it feels good!

Dave and I were finally able to take a real vacation last year, which was awesome. We continue to be frugal with our finances. We do not want to have to struggle in the future, so we are working on planning, saving and being wise with our financial decisions. I am not opposed to taking out loans, but I learned the hard way not to just blindly build up a ton of debt and assume it will be easy to pay it off. And I’ve definitely learned to be more careful with credit cards!


Live Your Legend Blog Challenge #3 – What Do People Thank You For?

Today’s prompt is: What do people thank you for? Or- What do you love helping people with?

What do people thank me for is kind of a tough one to answer without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn. So I’ll take the second question, Alex.

I love helping people by teaching them how to solve a problem. What I mean by that isn’t that I go around offering unsolicited advice, but more that, I like to show people how to do stuff. For example, in my current job, I often get emails from fellow employees looking for a particular digital file on our intranet. Since we are a global company, our intranet is absolutely insane. It can be really hard to find certain tools or documents on it.

So instead of just writing back and being like “Yeah, it’s in the blah-blah folder” or “Look for it in the such-and-such section”, I will send screenshots and step-by-step instructions for how to find the thing they need.

I guess what it boils down to is that I like to teach people things in a way that I know will be helpful for them.  And people thank me for it.

Live Your Legend Blog Challenge #2 – What Makes You Angry About the World?

Today’s prompt is: What makes me angry about the world?

Our culture of rampant, unchecked consumption is what makes me angry about this world!

It may be mostly an American problem – or a “first world problem”, though there’s certainly trickle-down effects on the rest of the world (anyone want our old electronics?).

If you close your eyes and listen, you’ll hear the buzz of millions of people working hard to earn more money so they can buy more things. It’s what we are taught from our youngest days by commercials on TV, billboards by the road, and our friends at school. You always need something new. A new toy, or a new dress. New is what you want. Not a hand-me-down, not homemade with love. New. From the store.


Before long that new thing loses it’s appeal. The colors fade. A piece breaks off. The whole thing stops working as it’s supposed to. That new dress is suddenly so last season. Thanks to planned obsolescence, that little gadget that broke 3 months after you bought it is worth nothing now. Throw it in the trash and buy yourself a new gadget. Shove your old clothes in a donation box and buy yourself something new. That’s how things work in this culture.

It’s not just stuff either. It’s everything. We want more food, more entertainment, more adventure, more more more! Instead of taking stock of what we have and enjoying it, society tells us we can never have enough and must constantly be wanting more.

Not only is the attitude of consumerism hurting us on a social and emotional level, but the environmental impact is devastating.  I’m too lazy to get into the statistics now, but just think about it. Greenhouse gasses. Animal waste. Trash. Oh so much TRASH.

Here’s a couple of articles if you’re looking to learn more. Of course you could also just google things, like I do.

Consumerism is killing the planet (and our souls)

Is what we’re recycling actually getting recycled?

What to do with all the poo? 

So yes, all that makes me angry, though my anger is often overcome by lethargy. I’m an ideas person, but when it comes to driving those ideas toward implementation – especially ideas that require buy-in by the majority of the world’s population, I don’t even know where to begin. Well, I begin with myself…

I’d say the biggest way to fight against our consumerist society is to not be a part of it as much as possible. I’ve written about my love affair with minimalism. I think the main thing that excites me about it is that there are so many other people out there who are doing the same thing! It’s always good to know you’re not the only person passionate about something.

The second big thing I’d advocate for is switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Meat production is one of the most detrimental industries to the environment. Not only do those animals product a crap-ton of waste, but consider how much land, water and energy is used to produce their food. Plus, call me woo-woo, but I strongly believe that one day our society will look back in horror at the idea that we once ate other living creatures.

With all that being said, don’t get me wrong. I am not living in a shanty in the woods, growing my own food and fashioning clothes from plant fibers. I have a full-time job, to which I am expected to dress professionally and not in hemp-fiber dresses. I have a car that I continue to make car payments on (and it runs on gasoline, yes). I have to control myself on Amazon. I occasionally indulge in a nice, thick, chocolate shake, even though in the back of my mind I’m like those cows are pooping us to extinction! and I’m sorry mommy cow that we are only using you for your milk.

So there you have it. I am passionate about the environment, and about people, and I loathe rampant, unchecked consumption of our world’s resources. We’ve got to find a better way!

Photo credits:


Winston Tseng

Musings of an aspiring renaissance woman

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