Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Feeling Glam after Open Heart...In Search of Self Love...

Tonight I tried on four different dresses at the mall. At home I have at least three, but they're all V-neck and or low cut. No, not looking to be modest. Looking to hide the eight inch scar that runs from the middle of  my breasts to the top of my neckline. I am Kimberly and I am a member of the 'zipper club'. What is the 'zipper club', well, I survived open heart surgery, and the zipper refers to the long scar that I now wear as a badge of honor. It's been seven, almost eight months, and although I have confidence in my daily wear of clothes that show my scar,  this event on Saturday has caused a bit of a self-love crisis. I feel proud that I have survived, and my scar is a testament to that survival and spirit; but there's this part of me that felt broken and un-sexy when I looked at myself in the mirror with my low cut dresses on. My husband and my friends tell me 'The heck with it! You're beautiful no matter what' I love their confidence in me, my cheerleaders are awesome. Now back to the mirror. 

Me, September 2016.

Here I am, scar and all. I have been doing pretty good self-esteem wise until the past month and a half preceding the event this Saturday. It's kind of like being in a room full of people you know and feeling all alone. Looking at myself in the mirror this past week in my dresses has really thrown me. Yesterday I spent all morning applying different concealer's to the area, only to achieve a mottled look on my chest that draws even more attention to it. I suddenly felt like the wallflower I used to be so many years ago. The insecure, shy, young woman. I felt broken. Today, when my husband came home from work I had a little fashion show to get his opinion... and got a 'You look beautiful, it's your decision...' I still felt VERY aware of the scar on my chest, never you mind I had finally fit myself into at least two of the hot dresses I owned and have great legs and awesome heels to go with said dresses.

 I talked to my best friend two weeks ago about my insecurities about my scar and she lovingly told me I was beautiful and not to worry about the scar. The thing is, it's my scar. It's my damage. I know I sound ungrateful for my encouraging friends and family but if I were bald from chemo wouldn't I want to sport a wig? There are many classes offered at my local medical center for feeling beautiful during and after chemo. What about open heart surgery? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, and the number of women having to have this life saving surgery is getting bigger and bigger. I was fortunate, I had a small window of time between my last heart attack and the bypass to do my 'homework' on what would lie ahead for me post surgery. On Pinterest of all places I found this article 'Learning to Love Your Open Heart Scar' written by Carolyn Thomas, survivor and advocate for women's heart health. The article gave me a sense of security at the time, yet nothing can prepare you for your own experience. Especially the experience when you see your reflection for the first time. It's a mix of curiosity, fear, sadness and triumph. Triumph that you have come out the other end of the surgery alive. Next to having an early (before menopausal age) hysterectomy,  and mastectomy, it's one of the most life changing surgeries a woman can have. Although it's not directly associated with our womanhood, the visibly prominent scar can wreak havoc on our self-esteem. Perhaps this is something I should look into, creating a FB support group, even a local support group for women dealing with their open heart surgery scars.

As women, we seek wholeness on so many levels, and when that wholeness is disrupted, we start to doubt. And we doubt everything.  When I looked at myself in the mirror the first time after my surgery it was the first day I was able to get out of bed and walk on my own to the bathroom in my hospital room. Before that I couldn't really see the scar, because of my hospital gown and the fact that it was painful for me to move to see it. That morning when I saw it it was as I said before a mixture of curiosity, fear, and sadness... and then triumph. I smiled at myself and said 'You did it, you survived'.  Three weeks ago I started to feel anxious about it, obsessing how I was going to cover it up, conceal it. Every woman's journey is different. It's not bad to want to conceal it or cover it up, it doesn't make you any less brave or strong about your survival. Knowing what I want to do about it, and knowing how I feel about it and owning it has given me strength. I'm usually the jeans and t-shirt gal, but this Saturday I will be sporting a long sleeve, short hem, black lace dress with a neckline that covers my scar. I found my dress, after three different ones, and now I'm finally looking forward to this Saturday. I'm going to look amazing.... 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Camping and other things....

Yes, I have been seriously dink in posting here. Something I intend on remedying in the weeks to come. Two years ago David and I went camping out at Pfieffer Big Sur park to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date. We had been here before almost 20 years ago on our honeymoon. That trip we spent less time in camp and out in Monterey and Carmel doing the touristy things. This trip was a nice peaceful retreat for us both.

It's amazing how clear your head is without the interference of everyday life (phones, texting, Facebook, TV, the Xbox, committee meetings, and the schedule of chores...).... Out at our campsite we had NO internet or data on our phones, hardly any cell phone service for that matter, so for the few texts that got to me, it was a pretty quiet week. Being the insanely organized couple that we are we planned our meals for the week which made grocery shopping easier as well as our wallets less lighter. We couldn't exactly chuck dinner plans and order pizza, the only pizza place was in Carmel which was a ways down HWY 1 with no delivery. This trip allowed me to think about a lot of things, and one of them was working on and starting my book about it being perfectly fine to be married with no children, as well as the idea for starting an informational camping blog for just couples with no kids. 

I also packed a killer art box... no scrapbooking. I packed paints, canvas', drawing pencils and my journal. I needed to get away from the distraction of the computer and the like that sometimes stumps my creativity. Yes... I get on FB and get lost, get on Pinterest and well... see ya next week. That way I was able to really dive right in. 

This year David and I are going to spend our 20th Wedding Anniversary camping as well. Time in the peace and quiet.... and on the coast somewhere. Can't wait! Time to get work on my vacation book list and art box wants. So excited!!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Loving my Light Box!!!

I've had my Heidi Swapp light box since last Summer, even took it with me on vacation to FL! If you do not have one, and you're one to always have to say SOMETHING, this is your home decor full of fun! I love mine, which is the standard size light box. Heidi also makes a long shelf size as well as a light box mini! I have yet to add those to my collection, right now I need to get my room put in order before I go adding something else. 

Heidi Swapp has so many cute fonts, icons and backgrounds. You can even make your own, I have found several tutorials on Pinterest , click here for some examples.

Currently you can find Heidi's light box at Scrapbook.com, JoAnn.com and participating JoAnn stores.

 This is some of her new backgrounds, the palm trees that are available at Scrapbook.com

Here are some of her icon packs.... and alphabets (The Pink Icon pack and Cinema letters were found at Michael's in Rancho Cordova)

Monday, February 6, 2017

YAY for Monday!!!!

Unlike a lot of Mondays, today was particularly great! My goddaughter welcomed her fourth little one into the world, my husband's ring I ordered FINALLY arrived today, my cousin sent me some 'Punkys' love (Punky's is a great little bar and grille in St. Petersburg, FL full of amazing people and food) (She sent me a sticker), and last but not least, my hubby bought me this amazing book by fellow crafter Amy Tangerine ! 

This is Amy's love! Craft a Life You Love and it is full of little projects, anecdotes and other fun stuff to kick start your creative mojo. Amy's been promo'ing this book by passing it on to the likes of Cori Spieker (The Reset Girl) and Heidi Swapp.  You can get your very own copy at Amazon as well. I am off now to peruse the pages of this fun book....

Friday, February 3, 2017

February Regroup...and the Friday Frolic....

It's February.... the season of love! For me, it's the season of regroup. New planner, and new plan for Altered Whimseys blog. I've been researching other crafty and self-care blogs to see what's getting them seen..  I have Altered Whimseys' brand spread over Twitter, Instagram , Facebook and You Tube. My issue is I lack the funds to really promote this blog. 

What is Altered Whimsey's all about anyhow? It is inspiring and encouraging your creative selves along with weekly hacks for self care. The way I see it, creativity and self-care go hand in hand. At least for me, my creative outlet is a huge part of my self care plan. For many of you it is the same as well. 

Ok, now back to the lack of funds part... I am looking for sponsors, primarily in the crafting and self care industries. As a rule, I do not promote 'home businesses' such as Avon, that Wrap Thing, Stampin' Up and or Creative Memories. I use and promote a LOT of Heidi Swapp product here , and I buy a lot of it from Scrapbook.com. With that said.... Heidi....and the staff at Scrapbook.com, feel free to e-mail me in regards to sponsorship. For those of you who read this blog, and like it... please let me know! Feedback is key! I welcome feed back, all kinds.  Even constructive criticism.... I'm not perfect, and I welcome any ideas that might make Altered Whimseys amazeballs! 

As for my Friday Frolic, I've been cooped up inside waiting for my new Heidi Swapp planner to get here. UPS online says it's out for delivery.... just wish they would hurry up so I can open it up and start playing. For those of you who have been drooling all over the new ones... well.... they are now at Scrapbook.com!!! Along with the great accessories and stamps to go with it!