Okay. I am busy as ever right now, and I probably should be sleeping (considering the fact it’s about 1AM and I have to work tomorrow…oh, but wait!  What’s that…school work? Deadlines? Ah, right. Obviously this is the perfect time to spill what’s on my mind).

Priorities, people.

So yes, why I am writing a blogpost when I should be sleeping (er, studying)? I do not know.


Even the Happster hasn’t been able to figure it out

What I DO know… is this –I just had one of the most incredible weekends (okay, more like 36 hours) with my parents (read: mom and stepdad, Gerry). And I am beyond grateful.


Momma Rice and Gerry


And if you’ve been reading my blog for a while… you should know that I blog pretty much when I feel inspired. I don’t just write a blogpost for the heck of it. I write because I have something to say. And right now? I feel inspired. So even if it’s nearing 1 in the morning, I want to capture some thoughts on why I am grateful.

You see, my mom has been sick since the Fall of 2006. With what? The universe does not know. The doctors do not know. They have run every test in the book. I kid you not. She’s visited doctors in multiple states. Even the Cleveland Clinic. Nowadays, when she gets her yearly physical, she half-way expects to hear the same news my aunt heard back in March of 2008. Thankfully, this has never been the case. But my mom has voiced that she almost wishes that the doctors would give her a definitive answer, just so she can know. So she can give whatever the hell it is that is ailing her… a name. And come up with a kickass way to fight back.


She is quite the fighter, after all.

Over the years, she has suffered from quite a few digestive issues. First, they thought she had Celiac Disease. Then they retracted that diagnosis and claimed she had a gluten intolerance. Now? They aren’t so sure.

“Maybe it’s just wheat.”

“We are placing you on a ‘low-residue’ diet.”

“You’re body doesn’t absorb fats properly.”

And most recently, “you are lactose-intolerant.” (She’s realized this one is spot-on, though).

Thankfully, my mom has a wonderful team of doctors. And they have slowly but surely tailored a very specific diet for her to follow. In all honesty, though, it makes me so sad (soooo sad) to see a woman who used to be so carefree with food… a woman who never had to even consider what ingredients made up a food item… to now have to meticulously read labels, avoid eating things because they contain garlic, or not dig into the breadbasket while out at dinner.

To me, food is pleasureful. Something to be enjoyed. Granted, my mother has never expressed to me that these restrictions have taken the enjoyment out of food (cuz let me tell ya, my mom sure can be the life of the party… especially with her laugh!), but I know that if I were in her shoes? I would feel very trapped to have restrictions like that.

That’s my mom, though.

She is always able to find the good in a situation. And over the years, I have thankfully taken this quality on myself. Because let me tell you, we have both been through hell and back. (One of these days, I will share with you my story). If it were not for my mothers strength, I would not be the person I am today. And I am grateful for that.


Like mother, like daughter

So with that, I want to take some time to share other things I am grateful for at the moment. (Feel free to bypass this post if you hate cheesiness. I won’t be offended).

I am grateful for my boyfriend.

This weekend has been wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Nevertheless, when my parents left earlier tonight to head back to their hotel (they’re makin’ their way to South Florida in the AM and wanted to be closer to the highway), I felt a sense of sadness come over me. I know it’s irrational, but there are times when I visit with my mom, that I wonder if it’s the last time I’ll see her “healthy” (read: not diagnosed with a terminal-illness). This stems from 3 years ago when I suddenly lost both my aunt and my uncle within weeks of each other. I won’t be seeing my family at Christmas (we’re flyin’ out to Arkansas to spend the Holiday with Ryan’s family!), so today was the last time I’ll see them until after the New Year.

Knowing this, I sunk into the couch after the front door closed and felt my heart just ache. I couldn’t even keep the feeling inside. I started to cry — tears streaming down my face. Before I knew it, Ryan had his arms wrapped around me in a big hug, just holding me… and I was sobbing. Like, legitimately sobbing. (Cue mascara tears and hair matted to my cheeks. I’m sure I was a mess). He let me sink into his chest, and through the tears, I realized… I felt comforted. Letting out such emotion felt – in a word — freeing.

I know my parents won’t be around forever, and I am finally beginning to feel “okay” with this realization (morbid, I know, but these are the things you think about when you were raised as an “only child”and have parents who are 71 and (almost) 66 years old).

I’ve always been scared of never having anyone to relive and share memories with of my parents. Because my step- and half- siblings are *way* older than me, I’m not terribly close with them. In fact, we never even shared the same roof during the time I was in my formative, childhood years. As a result, we have no shared memories. They have their memories, and I have mine. But they do not coincide. There are no “remember when…?”-fests to rehash during family get-togethers.

Thankfully, though, I have Ryan.


And I have come to realize that Ryan acts as that bridge for me…from my past, into my future. He and I have shared memories of all of us together, and even though they’re limited, I can “remember-when…?” all I want for years to come with this guy.


Okay, so I realize this post is forever and a day long, but I have a few more things I am grateful for that I want to touch on…

I am grateful for the ability to run.

My marathon is less than a month away, and I know I just posted about how amazing this running season is because I have had zero injuries… but it looks like I did not knock on enough pieces of that damn wood.  Turns out, a big ‘ole piece of cement got in my way during one of my runs 2 weeks ago, and I ended up falling straight onto the top of my knee (the patella, if you will).

What makes this even better? Is the fact that I hit the pavement running UP  a hill. Yes, I am serious. And yes, I realize I have some awesome skills to accomplish that feat.


Hold the phone, you fell *up* a hill? Seriously now… who does that?!??

Thankfully, Ryan was home when I got back from my run…and upon hearing me sniffling at the front door, came to my aide with Band-Aids and rubbing alcohol (youch…).

I’m pretty sure he thought I had broken my leg by the amount of waterworks I had turned on. (Random question… does anyone else only make a big fuss over something petty when they know they have an audience? Because on my journey home from the fall, I was merely pissed over the fact that I fell running up a hill. It wasn’t until I walked in the door that I started to whine and cry. But this also may be due to the fact that I wanted to look “tough” to the randos out and about on the sidewalk. I hate pity. From people except Ryan… I guess? Don’t judge me).

ANYWAY. Ryan, being the gentleman that he is, oh-so-casually offered to grab my camera and snap a few pictures despite my protesting. He said “oh c’mon, you know you will want to blog about this…” And yep. He was right.

I present to you…. Me. In all of my fallen-glory


Action shot of the water-works. And the frozen peas. And the Googling. (Courtesy of Ryan, of course).


Ohhh yes. Check out them tears. Smiles can’t hide that.

Anyway, I spent the rest of that day Googling and WebMDing “will I ever run again??!!?” and “OMG did I break my kneecap????” That’s when I learned that yes, I should be able to run once the pain stopped, and no, because I could walk just fine and there was zero swelling and zero bruising (only lots and lots of blood, yummmm), I did not “break crack my patella.” Awesome.


rice, rice, baby…

So with that, I took a week off from running, ran a 20miler last Friday just dandy (7 days after the fall)… gave my knee a rest for another full week, and busted out a 13miler early yesterday morning.

My knee feels pretty much A-Okay now, and I am hoping to resume “normal running” this week.

Well, Maybe.

I have another 20-miler scheduled for this coming weekend, and to be honest, I’m going to play it by ear. I’m confident I can run the marathon distance, so I am just going to focus on listening to my body and cross-training to be on the safe-side. To me, “listening to your body” entails giving yourself a full, one-week period of rest after the last time you felt pain (ie. go pain-free for an entire week. Talk about easier said than done…).


Oh c’mon, ma… I listen to my body all the time. Just follow my lead and let it alllllll hang loose

So if I still have yet to feel any pain this upcoming weekend? Then great, I’ll give the 20-miler a go. But if not? Well, there’s no point in putting excess stress on my knee for long-run milage when I have the actual marathon in the very near future, even if my knee is feeling good. Training plans are never perfect. That’s why you just gotta sit back, tell your mind to shut up, and trust your training.

Yesterday, my momma and I bought myself a brand, spankin’-new swimsuit suitable for… (get this) swimming. I’m pretty sure the only suits I own are bikini’s, as my highschool swim team swimsuits are long-gone. I’m stoked to utilize the YMCA pool more in the months to come. In fact, my friend Troy and I are going to partake in some “underwater running” sometime this week. He has a marathon in two weeks (ish?) and he’s now officially in taper-mode. I would pay good money to watch us try and run underwater. I’m sure it’s guaranteed to be a laugh-fest.

I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my MPH from Chapel Hill. I know I’ve said it before, but I love the people I have gotten to know through my classes.


Sure, I pull many-a-late night, but ohhh man, is it ever worth it.  I live and breathe this stuff, and I know I have a very fulfilling career awaiting me in the years to come.


Certificate of Core Public Health Principles = COMPLETE!


2011 Commencement announcement 🙂


I spy a proud mama (and a very large bumper sticker)

I am grateful for the month of October. First off,  this month is the kick-off to the the Holiday season (yesssss). Secondly, this is one of the few months of the year I get to visit with my parents. That right there makes October pretty amazing in and of itself.


Family ❤

But there’s more to it than that.

This month also calls for a lot of celebration.  Not only did I meet Ryan three years ago (come October 23rd). but one year ago this past weekend,  Ryan and I randomly decided to spend an afternoon at the humane society… and stumbled across this little nugget…

Take me home with you -- I want outta this joint! This is no place for a princess.

And I’m sure you all know by now how that little outing ended.


Miss HappyTales herself, perched on her throne


I’m the queen of this castle.


And will pin you down into cuddle time...


...(even if you are, in fact, sleeping)

That’s right. She owns our souls. And rules our household. And I sure am grateful she’s graced us with her presence. Even if she can be a Little Miss Bossypants at times.

Well, now that I wrote about 2.5 novels in one blogpost, my brain feels free and clear and ready to tackle my assignments. Oh, and of course, sleep.


Sleep is good.

What are some random things you are grateful for? Have you ever felt better after a “good cry.” Has anyone in your family ever suffered from an undiagnosed illness? Have you ever bit the pavement?


Filed under death, family, goals, graduate school, Happiness, marathon, my story, public health, recap, Ryan, Savannah RockNRoll Marathon, training, UNC

20 responses to “Grateful

  1. This was a BEAUTIFUL post! Do not ever think you wrote too much when you are writing from the heart and writing so many wonderful things you are grateful for!

    Your mom and dad are SO sweet! I really hope your mom gets better and they figure out what is wrong, I am sure that can be so mind boggling , but your mom is a strong mom as you said! I love your moms outlook on things, always finds the positive, I live the same way!

    Happy 3 years to you and your man! You are both very lucky to have each other, and so cute together!

    Im sorry to hear about your knee, but glad you got a run in yesterday pain free, and hope that is stays pain free this week, and I know you will listen to your body if it does not!

    Happy almost 1 year of having the cutest pup ever! How adorable!

    So many things to be grateful for!

    You are simply beautiful inside and out, and i loved reading this post!

    xoxo ❤

  2. Allison, what a great post! I love hearing what others are grateful for. I’m so sorry your mama has been sick and they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Moms are incredibly brave. I know a lot of times my mom puts on a brave face for us kids when really she is freaking out. Oh the joys of motherhood! My parents are relatively older as well (in their mid 60’s), and my mom has always said it is her goal to live to 100. I guess I’m going to have her around for at least 35 more years, which is a good thing because she is my absolute best friend in the world.

    I love days when I can come home and just feel at peace with everything in my life, and taht is exactly how you sound right now.

    • Ohhh Chelsea, you took the words right out of my mouth! My mom is my bestfriend, too… and even with all of her ailments, she says that I keep her young. And gosh, you are so right. Mom’s are some of the bravest people in the world.

  3. Janene

    i definitely feel for you and your parents! It was so frustrating to know something was wrong with Dad and visit what felt like thousands of doctors only to tell us they didn’t know. Even after we had a name to go with his symptoms, it was so rare that most doctors had never heard of it, but even just having something to call it was a relief. It can be a heart wrenching process, but your Mom seems like a super woman who won’t give up til they figure it out, and she’s got you to stick by her! My Mom is 66, and she better live AT LEAST to 100, but I know how it can be with older parents – my sister is 11 years older, so while we have some “remember when…” stories, we don’t share as many as other siblings, either.

    Good luck with the marathon coming up, and congrats on 3 years with Ryan and 1 year with the Happster!! You got a lot going for ya, lady! 🙂

    • Oh Janene, it is so refreshing to hear that you can completely relate to me. Having way-older siblings creates such a different family dynamic than most people are used to… I’m glad I have you to bounce things off of. We sure do have a lot in common. PS. I’m hoping to run Flying Pig again this coming spring. Are you still wanting to do the full!?

  4. This post plastered a smile on my face! I can totally relate with having a parent you love dearly with an undiagnosed illness.
    My dad got hit in the head at work with a big overhead hook hanging off a crane. He would get severe migraines, forget where he is when he’s in the town he’s lived his whole life, and get super dizzy…for 6 years. Through all the tests they luckily found out that he had prostate cancer so it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Finally after 7 years they were able to diagnose him with autonomic dysfunction disorder. 7 years of not knowing what was wrong and seeing him in pain day in and day out. I hope they figure out what’s wrong with your momma!

    You’ll kill the marathon–like you said; trust your training, Have a great week =)

  5. Allison, I love this post! It made me choke up, because I know what it’s like to have a sick parent. To wonder “is this the last time” thoughts. It’s scary and morbid to people who don’t understand – but I understand. You’re doing the right thing by focusing on the positive – and your mom seems like such an amazing woman and one hell of a fighter 🙂 And I’m so happy that Ryan is so good to you in moments when you need him. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? To find someone who can comfort you in a way, that at one time, only your parents could? Much love you, pretty girl! xo

    • Oh man, Colleen. These words brought tears to my eyes –> “To find someone who can comfort you in a way, that at one time, only your parents could?” Thank you for simply understanding. That is *exactly* how I have been feeling. I’m so sorry you have experienced this kind of pain as well, but as you know… the best thing to do is find the silver lining.

  6. Wow- what a fantastic blog post! I’m so glad that you were able to spend some fantastic time with your family! It’s tough to think about family members not being around forever, and it makes us so much more appreciative in the moment. Since my grandpa died a year ago, my mom and I have been talking much more about when that time comes for her. It helps to be open about it! I hope you have a great week!

    • Yessss, being open about how scary it is and accepting what is to come, is (to me) one of the best ways to deal with the situation. I love my parents so, so much… and sure as hell cherish every single second I get to spend with them. I just wish they weren’t a 12hour drive (one-way) away… but it certainly makes the moments extra special.

  7. rhonda

    Ok Miss Allison-that was supposed to be my deceased brother’s name, but, they named him Alan(he was a boy-not a girl). My story is long, so as not to get into me, I thought what would be nice is for you to start putting picture books together for you to share with mom and dad now that they are alive and smiling and would luv to share the memories with you. Why wait until later, It would be wonderful times to laugh and cry and share with a good cup of hot cocoa or whatever. Take advantage now, not later. You are so fortunate and loved by them and Ryan and puppy. HUGS, Rhonda

    • Aw, I love this idea. It’s partly why I created my blog. I made it so I could stay in better touch with them (and share more of the day to day through pictures). You can only convey so much through a telephone conversation!

  8. I am sorry to hear about what your mom is having to go through. I know how tough it is to see a parent go through health problems and all you want to do is just switch places with them so that they don’t have to endure any pain. Hang in there! I am sure she appreciates you being there for her 🙂

    I am grateful for so many things. Just the simple things that I seem to take for granted sometimes…a roof over my head, that I have the option of eating healthy food, a job and having a health body that is able to workout. 🙂

  9. I’m so sorry to hear that about your mom, but I love how you are able to stay so positive in such a tough time. My thoughts and prayers are going out to you and your family! Love you girl!

  10. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom…and your fall!!! I totally know what it’s like to suffer from chronic pain/illness that noone could diagnose. In 2006 I started to have chronic migraines that never ended. I would go to bed every night hoping that the next day I would feel better and the next day would be the same: pain, nausea, dizziness. This lasted for 8 months! I went to every headache/neurology specialist, got CT scans, was put on some crazy medicine, and even got shots of pain medicine in the back of my head, but nothing seemed to help. All this time I felt so awful I stopped exercising and just sat around drinking tea. Chronic pain–or any sickness that can’t be treated or diagnoses–can definitely lead to depression and I was pretty down in the dumps. Finally one day I said to myself: self, you are going out for a jog even if you don’t feel well. I made it 1 mile that day (keep in mind that I had been running much longer distances, half marathons). I don’t know why my pain went away but I remember that day as a turning point. It eventually just went away as mysteriously as it came. And I haven’t really had it since. I think it was a reinforcing cycle: My pain came, I stopped doing anything active that could have helped, my pain stayed. While this is probably soooooo different than what your mom is going through, I do know how frustrating it can be to not feel well and not have any answers. I truly hope she gets better soon!!!

    And I love how positive you are all the time. Geez, makes me feel like a grumpy grumps 😉

  11. kschuchart

    I thought i’d leave you a comment because i’ve had horrible digestive problems too for more than 10 years. They’ve ran multiple tests on me and finally found out i’m fructose intolerant and lactose intolerant and have a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The fructose intolerance and bacterial overgrowth are very rarely tested for and maybe is what your mom has? The fructose means I can’t digest any sort of sugar and because sugar is in almost every single food (including wheat!) i was having problems every single day after every single meal. And the overgrowth was causing nausea, cramps and bloating all day every day because they lived off of what i ate. Just a thought maybe one of those will help. I hope they find something to help your mom soon.

  12. Pingback: Ready to RUN! | Happy Tales

  13. Your absolutely stunning! I love your facial features (eyes, smile) Hopefully that didnt come off too creepy haha

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