November 17, 2022

Three Things Thursday #7: Things That Changed My Life

For Three Things Thursday, the random writing prompt that popped into my head a couple of months ago, I thought I'd write about three things that made a huge impact on my life (aside from getting married and having children--those are a given).

It's interesting how there are certain moments in life that suddenly draw a line--before you get married and after you get married, before you have kids and after you have kids, etc. They become markers for different stages in our lives. The marriage and kids are obvious ones, but there are some that may seem odd to have made an impact.

So, here are three things that really changed my life...

1. Breaking my jaw.

In the evening one day in November 2010, while Jerry was at work, I watched the movie Wall-E with Noah and Eli, who fell asleep during the movie. Noah was six and Eli was five at the time. I picked up Noah and carried him to his bedroom. The boys had bunkbeds, and I lifted Noah onto the top bunk. I suddenly got extremely nauseous, which was odd because I had a stomach like a rock back then, and I immediately thought I had to get to the bathroom so I could throw up.

I could see blackness coming in from my peripheral vision, giving me tunnel vision that was getting smaller and smaller. My hearing became very muffled, and the sounds from the TV made me feel like I was underwater.

I didn't even make it to the door of Noah's bedroom. The next thing I knew, I was waking up facedown on the floor. My head felt SO heavy as I lifted it off the floor to look around. I noticed a pool of blood under my face. And my teeth... I can't even describe the feeling of trying to close my mouth. I had never even broken a bone before, but I instinctively *knew* that my jaw was broken. My teeth were completely misaligned and my lower jaw felt "floppy", for lack of a better word.

The pain didn't register yet, but I panicked because I was worried that I'd lost teeth. I pulled myself up from the floor, went into the bathroom and started rinsing my mouth with water, spitting out blood into the sink. I could see my teeth were still in tact, but my jaw was clearly broken. The bone had even punctured a hole through my bottom lip and another under my chin, which is where the blood was coming from.

I called my parents rather than 911 because my parents live less than a mile from me and one of them could stay with my kids while the other drove me to the hospital. The kids were still sleeping, thankfully--I would have felt terrible if they'd had to see what happened. I didn't know how long I'd been passed out, but I think it was less than a few minutes.

My mom took me to the emergency room, where I was told I'd need to be taken by ambulance to Detroit because the damage to my jaw was so bad that they couldn't treat me; I needed a level 1 trauma center. I spent the next six days in the hospital, having two repair surgeries on my jaw. The level of pain was indescribable--despite being on three narcotic pain meds, I was still pressing the call button every four hours to get the next push of whatever I was due for.

Dead sexy after the first surgery

After the second surgery, my jaw was wired shut to allow the bones to heal. The surgeons had to screw titanium plates into my jaw to hold it together. It had broken completely through in five places: once right in the center of my chin, once on each side a couple of inches back from the first, and then another on each side just before the bone angles upward. So my jaw was in six pieces. I'd also chipped a couple of teeth and cracked a molar.

My dentist was impressed when he saw my x-rays, haha.

The next six weeks are a blur now, and I'm sure the pain meds I was on are a big reason for that! I couldn't drive, so I was reliant on friends and family to help shuttle the kids to and from school. And I think this is what made the entire experience so life changing for me. My eyes were opened to all of the people who truly care about me. I won't get into all of their roles during this time, but I didn't have to worry about anything.

Jeanie and Brian both came in from out of state when I came home from the hospital

One friend got in touch with several other friends, asking them if they'd like to make dinner for my family--so we had a couple of weeks' worth of meals taken care of. I couldn't eat them, hahaha! I was on a liquid diet, but it was a relief that I didn't have to worry about what my family would eat.

Jerry took a couple of weeks off of work (unpaid) and my parents and siblings gave us a super generous gift of money to cover our house payment, car payment, medical deductibles, and bills for the month. My sister even made a chart for all of my medications, because it would be totally confusing for Jerry (or me) to try to remember what time I needed to take each medication (I was on probably five or six different meds). Little things like that made such a difficult time so much easier.

This is getting way too long, so I'll just say that I have such an amazing family and group of friends. I don't look at breaking my jaw as a bad time in my life; it was the opposite, rather. I felt so loved and taken care of and for the first time in my life, I wasn't worried about everything. Everybody was willing to help however they could.

That incident, breaking my jaw, became one of those before and after markers in my life. Before I broke my jaw, and after I broke my jaw. I started thinking of everything in terms of whether it was before or after. (You can read all the details of the incident and see all the gross pictures on this post.)

2. My 30x30 list.

I wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30 years old. I was almost 28 years old at the time I wrote it, and I looked for some ideas online to include on the list. One of them was "Enter a 5K race and RUN it". I wasn't a runner. I had never been a runner. I didn't exercise. I was still over 200 pounds. In the back of my mind, I don't even know if I really believed I'd ever do the things on my list. I didn't feel determined to do them--I was just a compulsive list-maker. I still am.


My friends Renee (who I coach cross country with) and Rachael came over for wine one night and Renee asked to see my list. She said she could help me with the 5K one. I was too embarrassed to say no, that I really didn't want to do it, so I said sure. A few weeks later, she gave me a birthday card with a "coupon" for my first 5K race. I couldn't back out then!

And that is how I became a runner. The 5K was in October, so I had nine months to train for it. I hadn't even run a single mile, and I'm not even sure if I knew how far a 5K was! I was training to walk a half-marathon in May, so I started adding a little bit of running to my walks. (You can read the whole story here, if it interests you.)

Becoming a runner opened so many doors for me: I started writing Runs for Cookies with only a few readers; then Sparkpeople featured me on their front page and my page views blew up overnight; then I was on the Dr. Oz Show, which was more publicity (and I was terrified--blogging became less of a private journal and more of a holy-shit-why-are-people-reading-this?- thing); I met Rik through my blog, and we formed a Ragnar Relay team; one of those teammates owned a small film company, and they decided to make a documentary about it; Runner's World magazine(!) was interested and wrote a story about the film, featuring a huge spread with my photos; and Netflix picked up the documentary--how scary is it to imagine videos of you on NETFLIX?!--Well, I was mortified and excited at the same time.

Never in a million years would I have guessed I'd be in a magazine about RUNNING one day

Here is the post about the Ragnar Relay team and documentary

None of those things would have happened if I hadn't written that 30x30 list (probably after having a couple of glasses of wine and feeling too ambitious). I honestly have no idea what my life would be like today if that hadn't happened. I guess I could say that it was starting Runs for Cookies that was the spark to start it all, but I wouldn't have started this blog if not for becoming a runner.

Renee and me after my first 5K

3. Remodeling the house, DIY-style.

I had absolutely NO CLUE how to build things out of wood or hang drywall or even install molding. In August 2018, it all started when I decided to see if removing a textured ceiling was even possible. I found a "scraper" (a drywall knife, although I had no idea it was used for that) and I squirted a little water on the ceiling in the laundry room to test it out. Once the water had a moment to be absorbed, the texture scraped right off.

I was most certainly hypomanic at the time. I immediately told Jerry that we need to take down these cupboards in the kitchen, and remove this little wall here, and scrape the texture from the ceiling, etc. And we started doing it--right at that moment. Each little project led to another and another.

I wanted to save money (I had just paid off $14,000 in credit card debt), so rather than hire people to do the work, I watched YouTube videos and learned to do it myself. You can tell what parts of the house I did first compared to what I did last, because I got more practice and more skilled as each project went on. It's a visual timeline, really, haha.

I learned that I love building things out of wood--again, my first projects are cringy--and I bought some used tools on Facebook Marketplace. Like a lot of my interests, it became an obsession for a while and I learned everything I could get my hands on about it. It's my favorite hobby; I'm sure the things I make now will be cringy later on as I get better, but I still feel proud when I finish a project.

Now that I've learned how to do so many new things, I can't "unlearn" them--so remodeling the house was life-changing in that I am capable of doing a LOT of things I never knew I could. I've made a ton of mistakes along the way and there is not one thing that turned out perfectly in the remodel, but it has character. And I have a new hobby.

Cutting out the new countertops. I didn't even know that countertops could be a DIY thing!

I wrote posts about the remodel all along the way, and you can find a list of them with before and after pictures here

And there they are... three things that had an enormous impact on my life. It's funny how a single moment in time, something so completely simple, can change the entire direction of your life!


  1. This was a great post!! It is crazy to think about those "non-traditional" things that change the course of your life! It's very insightful! You've got me thinking now about what has changed my life! <3

  2. I love your posts. They are one of the highlights of my day.


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