picture of book Acne: A Memoir (by Laura Chinn)

Can Our Emotions Cause or Cure Acne?

The other day I was walking around in downtown Abilene, and outside of one of the stores was a table of books. As any librarian and/or book lover would do, I paused to glance over the titles. Only one book really caught my eye:

Acne: A Memoir

I loved the simple design of the cover, light pink with varying sizes of red dots sprinkled all over it. It seemed like a no-brainer for me – I love memoirs, I love reading… I don’t love acne, but unfortunately it has had quite an impact on me and my story.

I scanned the book for a price, and suddenly saw a sign that said “Free books: Limit 1 per customer.” Free book??? Even better.

I had no idea what this book was really going to be like, but when I came to this paragraph on the second page, I knew I was going to like it:

“After genocide, nuclear war, famine, slavery, and child abuse, acne is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person. Okay, fine, maybe cancer is worse, and probably a bunch of other stuff, but acne is bad, really bad, and if you haven’t lived though it then… honestly, go f*** yourself.”

— Laura Chinn (p. 2)

I laughed out loud when I read that last part! It was so honest and real. If you’ve never had bad acne, you will think these sentiments are crazy exaggerations. If you have struggled with bad acne, you’ll know that during your lowest points of dealing with red spots all over your face, you literally do feel like this sometimes.

My experience with acne is something that deeply affected me, more than I ever knew until I really started doing some reflecting upon the experience in my 30’s. It affected my body image (I stopped thinking I was pretty, and in fact, was convinced that because of acne scarring I could never be beautiful again), my idea of my own self-worth (I questioned why anyone would want to be friends with someone as ugly as me), and my mental and physical health (I had a few years of extreme dieting when I was trying to find the perfect diet to “cure” my acne, and instead ended up losing so much weight that my period stopped).

Acne is no joke.

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Image of foot with bones

2 Years After Foot Surgery – Slow But Steady Progress!

Two years ago was Feb 4, 2020. The “before-COVID” times. It was also the day I had foot surgery, specifically an osteotomy, to address my inflamed posterior tibial tendon (aka. my flat arches were causing issues). I had to have three large incisions on my left foot, and one on my calf to “lengthen my calf muscle.”

Afterwards I had to be non-weight bearing on my left foot for four weeks, and I was riding around on a knee scooter like a pro! Then I used crutches for four weeks, and after that did three months of physical therapy. You can read more about the details here, and even see gross post-surgery foot pictures if you want to!

The healing process felt never-ending. Even after I was discharged from physical therapy, I wasn’t back to normal. I still had a bit of a limp sometimes. When I first got up in the morning, my left foot was stiff and I would hobble around for a while until it loosened up. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to go running again, and honestly I was kind of afraid to, since that was the catalyst for my injury.

Even one year later, I was still keenly aware of some of my limitations that I hadn’t had before my foot injury – like experiencing some residual foot pain and always needing to wear supportive/orthotic shoes.

I think it’s valuable to take a moment today to look back and remember where I was two years ago, so that I can fully appreciate just how far I’ve come in terms of recovery. In my post from May of 2020 (four months after the surgery) I had written:

My foot is not perfect, I’m still waiting for that glorious day when I can do a heel raise while standing only on my left foot, but I’m not there yet. I’m longing for when I can go on a walk around the block without limping or feeling sore, and I’m dreaming about a day when I might be able to go for a jog again.

May 2020

Later that year in October, five months after writing those words, I went for my first post-surgery jog. It had been 17 months since I had been able to run. I couldn’t run as far or as fast, and my foot was really sore after, but I did it.

How often do we get to receive the things our hearts are so desperately longing for? Honestly, it may be more often than we think. If you do any sort of journaling – whether it’s personal writing, blogging, or even photo journaling – it makes it easy to see where you were and how far you’ve come.

Many times we get the exact things we’re hoping for, and we’re happy for a little while, but then we move on to hoping for the next thing, and then the thing after that. It’s easy to feel like we haven’t “made it” yet because there’s always something we are looking to accomplish next.

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silver Gerber knife

Running with Knives (Part 1): Reflections on a Traumatic Experience

*TRIGGER WARNING – trauma, attempted assault

I know normally it’s a bad idea to run with knives, but every time I go jogging, I always have one in my pocket.

Many times when I go running, it will be early in the morning, a little before sunrise. It’s dark outside as I head off down my road, the occasional street lamp helping to light my way. I’m acutely aware of my surroundings, looking out for anything suspicious or unusual. I check behind me often to make sure I’m not being followed. The irrational side of me (or is it actually my rational side?) feels somewhat unsafe and the warning bells are ringing loudly inside my mind. The other side of me pushes those feelings aside and thinks “what are the odds that something bad would actually happen?” The problem is, I’m all too familiar with those odds, because all it takes is one time, one event – and that event happened to me when I was a junior in high school.

Our family had a dog growing up, and by dog I mean a little chihuahua-dachshund mix that weighed about 10 pounds. Her name was Peanut. Every day my dad or I would take her on walks around our neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona. One evening, I don’t remember why, I decided I was going to take Peanut on a short walk. It was around 9pm, and the sun was long gone. The warning bells were softly chiming in my mind – it’s dark, you shouldn’t go out by yourself, yes YOU, the skinny 17-year-old girl! – but I brushed the thoughts aside and told myself, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

Our house in Phoenix was unusual in that it had an 8-foot stucco wall surrounding the entire front yard. (All the houses in this neighborhood were like that – I guess to offer more privacy.) So I walked out the front door of my house, and then unlocked the front gate in the outer wall that led out to our driveway.

I walked along the sidewalk past all the stucco-surrounded homes, carrying my pooper-scooper and plastic bag on one hand, and holding Peanut’s bright pink leash in the other. The next block over (continuing straight) was just a big empty dirt field, and on the other side of the street were various apartment complexes. I wasn’t that far from home, I had just made it to the dirt field in the next block over, when I noticed a man walking a ways behind me. But he was gaining on me fast.

I didn’t like the way he was walking or how fast he was catching up to me. The warning bells were now full-on blaring in my head, I knew this was not good. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that when I’m in a bad situation (real or perceived) my personality initially wants to do something to try to fix it. In other words, I’m not going down without a fight. That being said, the LAST thing I really wanted to do was get into a fight with a strange man who might be out to harm me. But I wasn’t going to go down easily either.

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