Happy New Year!!

Welcome 2014!!

As most of you know, Henning has spent the last three months in the states with me. As you also know, I was booted out of Denmark, so our situation has been complicated by not only health issues but logistical issues, as well.

I have been busy making a new life in NH, while Henning has been figuring out home hemodialysis in Denmark. We had planned on his being able to travel with the NxStage System One (the only portable home dialysis machine) but due to tons of red tape and a complete lack of urgency of his care team, time was ticking away, and away, and away.

Thanks to NxStage and HDU (courtesy of Rich Berkowitz) Henning was able to travel to the US for a conference in October. He was officially invited by HDU, and Rich gave us tons of advice and lots of pushing in the right direction. NxStage stepped up and got on board, as Henning is the first Scandinavian and only one of a handful of Europeans on home dialysis to travel to the US, and perhaps the only one to do so for  such an extended visit. This is a Very Big Deal, medically speaking.

Thanks to some sponsorship, good connections and a lot of great timing, Henning’s visit has been relatively drama-free. He did have some access issues at first. In Florida at the conference, it was getting pretty urgent as he was unable to dialyze for nearly three days. That’s a lot of days. NOT good. But due to some great support, material, emotional and physical, from NxStage staff, he was able to finally get a good cleaning and we had a great time, over all. I’ll post more about the conference now that I will have some free time to really work on my backlogged posting.

Once we were back in NH, access issues continued to be a problem. Thankfully we have great support here as well, again thanks to NxStage finding a local doctor willing to work with them and Henning. International prescription and care issues continue to be a problem with home hemo users and international travel. His doc did a scan and discovered Henning’s venus access site was about 1/4″ away from the actual fistula. Again, NOT GOOD. And… also… no great surprise. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, Henning’s care in Denmark is sub-par, and that’s the most flattering comment I can make.

Once Henning established a new access, he’s had no further access issues. In fact, dialysis has been pretty boringly unremarkable, and that’s GOOD.

We have visited some great friends, had some great dinners out, done too much shopping, and spent too much money in the three months he’s been here. We took the girls to New York City the weekend before Christmas, and that was quite an adventure! The girls had never been, and it was great seeing the city fresh from their points of view. Neither Henning nor I had been to the City during the holidays, and we did have a few cranky moments in the crush of Times Square, but otherwise we had a blast. We walked over 120 blocks, and checked off almost everything on our “If you could only spend one day in NYC what would you do” list.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas and spent lots of time with the girls. Our oldest lives next door to us, so spending time with her, her fiance and our grandson is always fun!! Megan and Larry are getting married on New Year’s Eve, so I’m thrilled that Henning will be able to be here for that.

We are sad to see his time here end. He goes back to Denmark on January 6th. So we have just a few more days together, this time around. We are already planning the next visit sometime in the spring.

Look for more posts as we catch up after a few months of just reveling in each other’s company.

I am launching a new site, as well. I have decided that it’s time for another journey in transformation. Anyone that knows me knows I spent several years before I met Henning in Self-Discovery Mode. I have managed, with time, therapy, and lots of introspection, to “get past” a lot of major life issues. As most of you also know, I still struggle with finances and fitness. SO… I have decided to challenge myself with a long-term project I call 60 to 50.

You can read about it here: http://60to50.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/welcome-to-60-to-50/

Join me as I say goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014 with open arms and an open heart.

Happy New Year!!


I’m Not Pregnant

Most people who know me would be astonished. Not that I’m not, but that it would even need to be said. I’m in my mid-forties, my husband is a little further down the line than that (although don’t say nearing fifty, he hasn’t quite reached that level of acceptance).  We are at a hugely vulnerable time in our lives and in our marriage. His health is precarious, at best. We are facing a forced separation and which continent we are going to inhabit, or even if we can inhabit one together at all, is anyone’s guess. So the fact that I have reached the age of irregular cycles adds a layer of interest to an already MORE than interesting time in our lives.

I really didn’t think I was. I’ve been late before. But I also have three grown/nearly grown daughters. So I know what it feels like to be late, and to wonder, “What if?” It was an interesting several weeks. I didn’t take a test. I didn’t feel like I was pregnant, and I do know what that feels like. I don’t have any bad habits, and I eat pretty healthy. Nothing in my life, or lifestyle would change with the knowledge that I was not alone in my body. At least not yet. So even if I WAS, I didn’t think I needed to KNOW. Not right away. I figured Mother Nature would give me a clue, sooner or later, and she did.

But what about those weeks? What about the stuff in my head while I wondered? It wasn’t a constant thing, by any means. Last year, I went several months where nothing happened. After two negative pregnancy tests and a follow-up with my doc to make sure nothing was wrong, I made some peace with the fact that my body is changing. Things are simply less predictable now than they used to be.

Still, it is interesting what a lifetime of programming can do to a fertile imagination. I wondered, what would I do? I had some great conversations with my husband regarding the, “What if?” question. It was great to know we were both on the same page. We would have been terrified. And thrilled. And terrified.

So now that I know for sure, I am relieved. But I also mourn the second chance I won’t get. I know. I’m selfish. I have three amazing, beautiful, intelligent daughters. My girls are a blessing that any mother would be grateful for. I have friends who are trying desperately to have even one child, and I have three. How DARE I feel sad that I can’t have even more? But there it is. I do mourn, nonetheless.

I know a few women in my age bracket have “second” families with new husbands. I think, if you’re healthy and can afford it, go for it. I never saw myself in that scenario, but last year’s scare, and this year’s… whatever it was, has made me think about it. And while I know how difficult it would be, I would embrace the chance to raise a child with this amazing man it took me a lifetime to find. And so I do mourn that loss.

My husband would have made a brilliant father. Plus, he has the most amazing blue eyes. It’s a shame that no child of mine will look at me with those eyes. No baby of mine will call him Daddy.

But then I come back to myself: this life I have chosen; the man I love who loves me more than I ever could have imagined; the family I have, oddly scattered as we may be. And I am so grateful. I have a life and a love beyond any dream I ever had. I am fulfilled, satisfied beyond the wildest imaginings of my youth.

And yet, even so… what if?

When someone falls for you, in SPITE of your appearance…


Today, let’s talk about body image. Don’t worry, nothing trite about loving yourself first to attract others to you, or, God forbid, becoming the kind of person that you would fall in love with… gah!! I guess those things have their value, and I have subscribed to both of those philosophies (even if they are not that far apart). No, what I want to talk about is this: If you are fat (like me) and yet, still think you are fabulous (like me) … how does that play when run up against a love interest who prefers non-fat, potentially less fabulous women.

I say potentially less fabulous because, let’s face it. A naturally skinny blonde is NOT gonna have the same issues with body image as those of us of a more curvy nature… and consequently… those of us who have come away from that with a sound and viable self-respect will by default have MORE depth to draw from. Argue what you will…. fat and fabulous beats skinny blonde hands down, every time, in that department.

So, that said, what if the guy you fall desperately in love with prefers the skinny blonde… and despite that glaring flaw, you have chosen to allow him to worship you anyway? Hmm…. I bet you haven’t thought of it that way. If you have, welcome to fabulous. If not… let’s chat.

My husband is Danish, and so his field of women has been saturated with the skinny blonde type. Danish women are naturally taller, thinner, and blonder than the average American chick. We live on convenience food and media. Danes… much less so. We are at a cultural disadvantage, but also, there are the genes. Scandinavian genes are just programmed for tall, skinny and blonde. It’s hard to fight nature. So he never did. He has always preferred a slightly boney, washed-out version of what I would call healthy… lol

Enter me. I am fat. There are no two ways about it. I have not always been fat, but I have almost always felt fat. So even when I weighed 125 pounds and was a size 6… I felt fat. My hips and ass have always been on the large size for my frame. Which is not a bad thing. I was voted “Best Ass” in my workplace when I was a teen. I still get compliments from men who prefer a larger, warmer woman. But I digress. When I was a small child, my grandmother watched me hop off a stool in her kitchen and told me I had inherited the “Brumley Basketball Butt”. Yup, round and bouncy… that is my ass. Was, is, will likely always be. When I was a teen, I wanted to model, but my mother told me I was “too hip-py”… Even though my collar bones were visible beneath my shirts. Yup… fat ass. What can I say?

So no matter how thin I have been, and I have been on the dangerous side of thinness for my frame… I have always had enough bounce to spare.

Enter life. Two disastrous marriages (I didn’t get enough abuse the first time around, figured I’d go for me more with hubby #2), three kids (whom I love dearly, but let’s face it… pregnancy + stress + bad marriage = fat), and decades of letting my self-esteem take daily beatings… I went from bouncy to fat. And I stayed fat.

I have dieted. I have lost it all. I have gained it all back. I know I can get thin. I just haven’t been able to STAY thin since my 20’s. I am actually working on it again now… but that is likely another few posts in the future…

So, I met my current husband (#3) after YEARS of nearly ecstatic single-hood. I spent years and time getting my head straight after the two decades of disaster following high school. I “found” me, I took care of ME…I really LOVED me. It was a lot of work to get there, believe me. Anyone coming out of an abusive childhood and abusive relationships knows how much work it is to get to a place where you LOVE yourself. I am amazed and grateful I was able to do so. THAT is likely another post, as well.

When I met my love, I was at the peak of dating. I had decided nearly a year earlier that I was done being single, that I had something to offer a relationship, and dammit… I wanted to be IN one! I had dated several guys, nothing serious. I met guys from work, friends of friends, online, you name it. I vowed to not let any chance pass me by. I was reading, “If the Buddha Dated” and if you get a chance, you should too. I was also reading Rori Raye (online dating guru), and if you get a chance, you should too. LOL

I had a LIST. I was talking to 27 guys on a regular basis (circular dating), and had a short list of 6 guys that I was pretty into. Along came Henning (lucky #7)… and I was hooked. From our first conversation, I was done for. But I played it cool and our friendship grew. He lived in Denmark, I lived in the USA… so I didn’t really place a lot of weight on a “relationship” happening. But then he was coming to the US for vacation… and mutual friends were pressuring us to hook-up. So I agreed to meet him.

From the moment I met him, I knew he was the guy I wanted. He was just the right combo of physical, mental and emotional traits that I admire. I never even considered, not for one second, that I wasn’t HIS. And that’s where this all gets interesting.

It never occurred to me, not during our visit (in which he spent the last hours in my bed, of course), not during the ensuing weeks, and then months of communication where we eventually decided to be a “thing” and ultimately that I should come to Denmark… not once during ALL of that time did it EVER occur to me that … perhaps I was not his ideal. I was THAT fabulous, in my own head. Really.

But then, during my first visit to Denmark, he let it slip one night during a very intense conversation, that I was not his type. That he had seen me, initially, as a fat house-wife type… definitely NOT girlfriend material.


Yeah. Wow. That’s what I said. I nearly dumped him right then. I spent the next day (I was meeting friends of his for the first time) playing nice. It was really hard, but I WAS stuck in Denmark with no exit ticket for a week or so… so I opted to give him a chance to redeem himself.

And… guess what? He never has. Not really. I married him anyway. Why? Because he loves me. He loves me as much as I love him. It stopped mattering to him that I was not his “ideal”… he had fallen in love with me in spite of the way I look (which, I must say, to me… is still pretty damn fabulous… but I AM partial to myself).

So here is the deal. He confessing his sins damaged me more than probably ANY of the abuse I suffered in my life. I ended up completely reevaluating how I saw myself. I dieted and lost weight, then gained it back over the following months. My skin broke out because I started doing shitty things to myself in the name of getting skinny… which, obviously never works. I ate junk. My blood pressure spiked. I ended up severely depressed. I even let him talk me into cutting my hair (don’t worry, I’m growing it back) I did more physical damage to my body than I had done since high school. But that was just surface damage. That the man I loved fell for me DESPITE his lack of initial attraction to me… that broke something inside of me, which I had to really work to fix. And make no mistake; it was MY job to fix it.

I had opened myself to this man, had removed layers and layers of armor that had been built up over the years… I laid myself bare before him, intentionally and mindfully… and he skewered me through the heart. And it still hurts. It does. I am not going to delude myself, or you, and say I am all better now. It can still bring me to tears, remembering that night. I have a raw place inside that can’t take very much tweaking or poking before it begins to bleed. The balance point of our relationship was his view of me at that time… and it could have gone either way, honestly.

But there is this… I AM fabulous, and he saw that. In spite of being fat, in spite of being not blonde, in spite of being not young… that being inside of him, which resides under HIS layers of armor, recognized ME. So I forgive him for being stupid. Mostly.

My message is this. If you are fabulous, if you DO really love yourself, if you really ARE that person that you would fall in love with… that is still no protection from the damage that can be done from within. Make no mistake. His lack of vision regarding me was all him. The DAMAGE that was caused… that was all me. I allowed myself to see ME through the eyes of someone else… and that… THAT… is the biggest danger to self-esteem.

Letting go of how others see you, even your nearest and dearest… and deciding that the person you see every day in the mirror only answers to YOU… THAT is the best gift you can give yourself. THAT is where self-esteem begins.


To be thankful in any circumstance is not easy. It can seem, to the casual observer, that to be  thankful even as you are inundated by the dramas of life is to have your head “buried in the sand”. I have known people who have that false cheerful vibe, and you know they are a miserable sod on the inside. Those people scare me. I am not talking about a disconnected relationship with reality. I am talking about actively looking for, and finding, the truly wonderful gifts we are given, every day.

I personally find a lot of solace in humor, and when things get tough, I tend to get sarcastic. This month, partaking once more in 30 Days of Thankful, I have not always been very serious. I have written about being thankful for things like chili sauce, for example. Or my pancreas. But seriously, sometimes you really are grasping for anything. On a day when you have heard nothing but bad news, and you have to find SOMETHING… it can be hard. But… those exercises still have value. Perhaps they even have MORE value than the “easy” ones.

It is easy to be thankful for the sun, for oxygen, for God, for Science, for whatever keeps you going, day after day. To be thankful for one’s family, friends… to remember those things is obviously paramount. People that forget that the sun will rise again, that they have the love and support of others, those are the people that we tend to worry about. But what about the person who IS conscious of those things? The person who KNOWS “every day is a gift” and yet… can’t find daily joy? No amount of “cheering up” is enough to touch that emptiness. Those are the people I relate to.

I KNOW I am blessed. All I have to do is look next to me as I wake up in the morning to know how very blessed I am. A phone call, a Skype session, a text message or chat… my life is full of friends and family who love me, who I love in return. I know the sun will rise, I know “this too shall pass”, I know my life is more than my circumstances. But I still lose the joy. I still find myself in those dark places, wondering where the light went. Everything feels so heavy, and I can barely breathe from the weight of it.

Then, out of that heaviness comes something… some small thing. Perhaps I read a quote, or am told a joke, or just maybe my brain throws something out of the void that makes me laugh. Perhaps is it just scrambling around for something to mask the taste of leftover parsnips sparks the idea that sweet chili sauce is a brilliant invention…

Recognize those moments for what they are. The salvation that comes from finding something in the grind of every day for which to be thankful, to realize you have the strength to BE thankful for those small things, THAT is the miracle. Those are the moments of true gratitude.