The Laugh Always Spotlight Edition features guest posts from members of the Laugh Always Ambassador Community. Laugh Always has been created to highlight those difficult journeys and to celebrate the badass people that live to share their journey. This is the first edition of the Laugh Always Spotlight!
I want to introduce you to Melissa. Melissa has become one of our first ambassadors and we have been getting to know each other ever since! Little did we know, we are pretty close in distance and in age to one another. It has been great connecting with her so far and I only want to continue to get to know her and learn more about the battle she is facing.
She is VERY creative and her art work is on point. Only by scrolling through her Instagram will you quickly decide this also for yourself. She creates bullet journals and they are amazing!
Melissa has been battling Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac Disease. I personally know a few people in my life who have had a battle with this, and while I don’t know a lot about the disease, I do know it is a difficult journey; especially on the bad days. Please read on for Melissa’s story!
Lord knows I have seen some bad days but thankfully the good days are starting to outweigh the bad! When Lo asked me to guest post on her blog as a part of my ambassador role, I was excited! It has been awesome being a Laugh Always Ambassador as I get to share positivity with others as we travel through our different journeys.
Let me tell you all a little bit about myself. My name is Melissa and I’m 29 years old (the big 30 is only six months away! Lol). I recently got married in May to the love of my life and my biggest support. If it wasn’t for my husband, I don’t know how I would’ve survived my biggest flare up this past year. Also, I’m a Midwest girl. I was born and raised in Chicago then moved to Indiana after college. For my “real life” job, I am a social worker and I enjoy bullet journaling and being creative when it comes to my self care.
My journey with chronic illness started around four years ago when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Celiacs disease. At the time, I was having some symptoms but nothing that couldn’t be patched up with some medication and a change to my diet. However, that all changed two years ago when my symptoms reared back their ugly head and showed their true selves. For anyone who doesn’t know what Ulcerative Colitis is, it is when the colon becomes inflamed and the body cannot absorb appropriate nutrients. Not only do people affected by Ulcerative Colitis experience malnutrition during a flare, but they also experience multiple trips to the bathroom, the inability to hold their bowels, joint pain, abdominal pain, and the list of physical symptoms go on and on. Emotionally, people affected with UC experience depression, isolation, and anxiety. Today, my colon is back on track of being healthier and happier thanks to oral and IV medications. I still have some bad days but thankfully the good days are starting to outweigh the bad.
One of the best things about my journey is that I recognize how strong I have become over the past year. If it wasn’t for the bad times, I wouldn’t have grown as I have. Not to mention I wouldn’t be as positive as I am today due to what I have experienced. I’ve learned to enjoy the good days more throughout my journey.
It was great having this opportunity and I certainly hope to get to know you all better! Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or my blog if you have any questions or just want to connect! Thanks for reading 😊
To connect with Melissa and to find out more about her, you can find her on Instagram @these.thoughts.are.mine and her blog is thesethoughtsareminesite.wordpress.com
Thank you for coming to Laugh Always and reading about Melissa’s journey. If you have a journey you would like to share in an upcoming Spotlight Edition, please feel free to contact me through the site here. You can also connect on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with Laugh Always. We would love to add you to our Ambassador group!
We wait for jobs. We wait for opportunities. We wait to see if we will get that promotion. We wait for more income. We wait for the “other” person to make the first move. We wait to travel. We wait for our friends to contact us. We wait for summer, fall, winter or spring. We wait for a “certain” time.
What are the things you have always wanted to do? What are the places you have always wanted to travel to? What is your dream job? What is your dream life?
Answer these questions honestly. Write a list if you must.
My question to you is – Why in the world haven’t you done those things? What is honestly holding you back? More importantly, what are you waiting for? Why don’t you have a plan to tackle these goals?
I used to live someone else’s dream. I lived vicariously through other people and their experiences. I did not go away to college. I did not have the college lifestyle that many people get to have; dorm life, drinking late hours and partying, sorority sisters, frat parties – I had those experiences THROUGH others. It was either my boyfriend that I had at the time or friends I had that were away at school and I would visit them.
Of course, you are age 18-22 and you don’t know what you are doing in life yet. However, I was not having my own experiences. I spent so much of my late teens and early twenties living through others experiences and doing what others wanted to do. I put myself last when this time in my life, I should have been the most selfish. Unfortunately, not many of us realized that!
Life took its toll and took my parents away from me. Still reeling from those deaths, I was shortly diagnosed with cancer on and off for the next 3 years. LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE ALERT!
Once in remission for my final time, all I wanted to do was live life. That was my goal. My friends and I will tell you that this particular summer was probably all of our favorite summers together. We all spent every single day of the summer months together and we all bonded and became so much closer than we already were. One of my best friends and I had an urge to take a trip together. We started to “get into” wine at this point and decided that a trip to Napa Valley was something we wanted to do! It was planned within two months!
Was this something I have always wanted to do? Yes and no. Before this, I had never traveled alone with a friend or planned a vacation by myself. I didn’t know what I was doing, and neither of us had a set plan for going out to Napa, nor was Napa our planned destination. We ended up going for a week with NOTHING on our agenda and decided what we wanted to do once we got there.
I could have had hundreds of excuses. “I don’t want to spend the money”, “I don’t want to travel that far”, or “Let’s wait until next year”. This is something that I have wanted to do and God knows I needed a vacation! It was something I truly wanted to do, so I did it. It is still one of my favorite vacations to this day (yes, it even comes close to my honeymoon in Maui!). I feel my life was finally jump started into finding what I wanted to do specifially in my life and I started learning to become selfish for ME.
Since beating cancer in 2013, I have been to more states and have been on more vacations than I have in my previous 25 years of life. I have been wine tasting in Napa Valley, I have been to Cancun, I have been all over Michigan for weekend stays, I have been to Maui, San Diego and I ran a half marathon in Disney World in Orlando Florida. I already have two vacations planned for 2018 which is Guatemala and a return trip to Napa Valley!
I don’t make six figures a year. I own a house. I have student loans. I have bills to pay. But I make it WORK because it is something that I love doing. I can’t imagine not visiting these places. I can’t imagine not exploring these places in my lifetime. Life has shown me that I should not waste time. It keeps slapping me in the face pretty hard that I can’t take life for granted!
Why do you wait for love to come and find you? You have probably done this in your life before; sat around and maybe you weren’t getting the attention you desired from someone because he/she was not texting you, not calling you, or not making plans. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME WITH THOSE PEOPLE and make it happen with someone else. Life is too short to waste time with people who don’t appreciate you or VALUE time with you. The first time I have EVER asked for a man’s number was the first and last time I ever needed to because I am now married to him. If a relationship is something you really want, go out and find it for yourself and don’t wait for it to come to you!
Why are you waiting to see if your job will turn out better/get a promotion? If you think you deserve better, find something better. You have the entire power in your hands at this moment to apply to any job or find something that better suits you. Do you think you are too old to do something like that? That is also something that shouldn’t hold you back.
My advice to you is to stop waiting. Stop waiting for the right time. Take it from someone who knows and has had many reminders that life is short. This message doesn’t have to be about the “bigger” things in life and that this is a reminder to cut the bull with a former friend over a stupid argument or any grudges that you have with family. This could be about taking chances in all aspects in life. I wanted to share with you how I began to take chances to make my life something that I am PROUD of.
Thank you again for reading!
P.S. – I am looking for Laugh Always Ambassadors! Head on over to the “Ambassador” section up at the top to join spreading the Laugh Always lifestyle and to inspire and motivate those who can’t find the motivation <3. Join the movement!
I have been nominated for a Liebster Award! What is that you ask?
The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the Internet and was created to recognize and discover new bloggers. The earliest case of the award dates back to 2011 and since then it’s been a yearly award. It’s a way of recognizing new bloggers by fellow bloggers, commending their hard work and dedication to their writing. The award is recognized in the blogging community as an honorable badge of accomplishment. Nominees are selected by previous award nominees so the cycle of supporting one another continues.
So other writers have recognized my work – I’ve been doing this for a month. Something that I have held out on for over six years. Wow – I didn’t expect for OTHER people to read my entries and actually like and maybe even CONNECT with the material. I can’t wait to keep going.
There are rules to a “Liebster award post”.
- Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well
- Display the award on your blog by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
- For 2017 Liebster Award, I will be shaking things up! Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
- Provide 10 random facts about yourself (this is optional, but if you wish to engage with your readers it’s a great idea to include random facts about yourself).
- Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award who have less than 200 followers (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information)
- List these rules in your post. (You can copy and paste from here or simply include the link below to the official rules website).
- Select 11 questions for the individuals/blogs you nominated.
- Inform the people/blogs that you selected of their nomination for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post.
So let’s get the party started! I was actually nominated by TWO different bloggers – which I am so thankful for. I have been doing this maybe a month now and it is so awesome to be recognized very early on by the blogging community.
I was nominated by Liron Freind-Saadon – her blog is https://marriedplusthree.wordpress.com/ . Her blog is about her family, her life, and some comical pregnancy stories! Her latest post that is dedicated to her four year old is an awesome post!
I was also nominated by Tessa Van Dyk – her blog is http://www.momwithapassionblog.com/ . Her blog is about raising a child with Autism – something that is more commonplace now than it ever was. I have a friend who is raising two young boys with Autism so I appreciated this read. Her page has some great quotes on it also!
My absolute favorite blog lately has been theladygang.com . Everything about that blog is awesome – women empowerment and amazing products that they review. Great fashion, great podcast, humor and no bullsh*t !
10 Random Facts About Yours Truly
1.) I love purple (can you tell?)
2.) The Lion King is the best Disney movie ever!
3.) I love chicken wings – if they weren’t so high in calories I would literally eat them everyday.
4.) I am an enormous Chicago Cubs fan! (GO CUBS GO and yes WAYYY before they won the World Series! My senior pictures were Cubs themed…)
5.) Zac Efron is my husband – he doesn’t know it yet (I guess my 2nd husband since I already have one…)
6.) I really like wine – but we don’t have an exclusive relationship. I would love to be a sommelier.
7.) Chicago is the best city ever – (I have never been to LA and NY but I don’t think that would be a game changer)
8.) Maui and Napa are my all-time favorite vacation spots.
9.) I love summer! (Like really like it, where I despise fall; sorry basic b*tches)
10.) I do like Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (basics like me again; also I could drink these everyday)
Liron Freind-Saadon asked me these questions:
- Where are you from? Dyer, IN (near Chicago, IL)
- Where do you live now? Dyer, IN (soon Chicago)
- What made you start blogging? It felt like it was time to finally share my story. I have a desire to help people constantly
- Tips for other bloggers? I am brand new as it is and I feel like I know nothing, but a tip would be to be your absolute self. Show your individuality and let it shine through! It is YOUR blog; people are coming to connect with YOU. Don’t be someone else.
- 3 of your favorite books – To be honest, I don’t read a lot. I absolutely loved the Maze Runner series, Divergent Series and Hunger Games series when those came out. The Automatic Millionaire is something that has stuck with me since high school Economy class.
- 3 of your favorite songs – “Unchained Melody” Righteous Brothers “Alone” by Heart “Shut Up and Dance” Walk the Moon and any song by Celine Dion!
- One of your favorite blogger’s posts (with a link to the blog) – see above www.theladygang.com
- Favorite place to visit or vacation – Maui or Napa – toss up for different reasons!!
- What do you like to do on your free time? – spend time with my husband and my best friends, relaxing with a drink in my hand
- Favorite quote or words to live by – You’re only as old as you feel and live like there is no tomorrow
Tessa Van Dyk asked these questions:
- How do you structure your days? My days are structured now by my 9-5 work schedule. Dinner, workout, and free time is usually after work.
- Where and how do you work best? I work best in quiet and alone.
- What tools do you find indispensable for accomplishing [task]? Focus and silence and being alone. I am a worker bee on my own!
- How do you solve productivity? I need to hunker down and get it done when I am thinking about the task.
- What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now? I would have put myself first in my past rather than putting everyone else first. I ended up not being happy and not living my true life. I was trying to fit in to everyone else’s life and make relationships work.
- What’s the best advice you ever received? Never go to bed angry.
- Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now? My grandma, my parents, my husband, my best friends, my family – all for different reasons.
- What is still your biggest challenge? Finding out where I am supposed to be in life. Life is about getting lost though isn’t it?
- What are your favorite books or movies? Books – answered above; Movies – Primal Fear, Neighbors at the moment.
- What’s your best advice for handling criticism? I think you should be open to listening to it. I am probably bad at this, but I do try to hear other people out and take into consideration their thoughts and advice. I do like hearing advice from people that I admire.
- What surprising lessons have you learned along the way? It is OKAY to be selfish!
My Nominations! – Check these new blogs out! Lots of variety here – check them out! Congrats to the nominees!
My questions for the nominees (post your answers in your post!)
1.) Why did you start your blog?
2.) What is your favorite subject?
3.) What do you hope to accomplish in five years?
4.) Dog or cat?
5.) Absolute favorite restaurant?
6.) Favorite city to visit?
7.) Favorite TV show?
8.) What are your goals for your blog?
9.) What is your favorite quote?
10.) Dream vacation?