Getting Real

After much deliberation, I’ve finally decided to hit the publish button on this post. Given my inclination to over-analyze just about everything in my life, this entry is no exception.

The problem…

My indecision lies in that Val in Real Life has morphed into a family-nature-travel kind of blog and I’m hesitant to step outside of that since I’m quite happy rattling on about all of this stuff. So this is a bit outside of that arena and it might just be too much information.

But I’m going to risk it because one of the things I’ve always intended to do here was to be real. I wanted to show that there’s value in pursuing the life you want in spite of the obstacles we all face. I also want to accentuate the positive but if I make it sound like it’s all unicorns and rainbows here then I have no credibility.

The reality…

So getting to the point, the reality is that today marks my 40th birthday. It’s one of those artificial milestones we can’t seem to escape in life but there it is. On the one hand it’s just a number, on the other it definitely signifies a certain, um, maturity.

Unfortunately, I’m really feeling the “40” because I’ve been at odds with Petunia. “Who is Petunia?” you ask. Petunia is my pituitary tumor. Yes, that’s right…Petunia the Pituitary Tumor. She’s small and, more importantly, benign so I get to be flippant about it.

To summarize the crapfest that has been my health and state-of-mind this year, basically I’ve been fatigued, packing on weight, losing my hair, sleepless, and mentally flaky along with a whole host of other vague ailments that have been dragging me down physically and emotionally. In hindsight, the symptoms have been building for a couple of years but reached a noticeable apex this summer when I finally put the pieces together. Granted, I thought it was an entirely different problem but that’s why we have doctors to sort this stuff out for us.

Once you reconcile the notion that you have a lump growing in your head but that it’s not going to kill you, you just have to get on with how to deal with it. In my case I get to embrace better living through chemistry. So with a magic little pill from my fabulous endocrinologist I’m on the mend and getting back to myself. After all of the personal drama surrounding this, it comes down to a simple solution that should mean the demise of Petunia over the next few years.

At any rate, in order to keep moving forward the past year-or-so amidst feeling like crap and not understanding why, I’ve taken to practicing a little healthy denial about how bad it’s really been. Not to hide it from the people around me but to keep myself from going into an unrecoverable tailspin. With the light at the end of the tunnel growing brighter by the day, I can finally acknowledge the strain it’s been on the crew here. It has definitely not been all fun and games lately.

Small beans…

In the big scheme of things, Petunia is small beans in terms of all of the health problems we can potentially face in our lifetimes. In the end, I’ll probably eventually consider her simply a nuisance in spite of the grief she’s caused.

Until now it’s really only been close family that’s been in on the news. Again, not because it’s a big secret but because of mental self-preservation on my part. Not only did I need to keep myself going, but when issues like this crop up, it seems that every conversation and interaction with the people around you revolves around it. And while it is a bit of a big deal, sometimes you just need a break from talking about it.

The take-away…

The point of finally publishing this post is to show the very real side of Val in Real Life. I’m pushing forward towards the life I want in spite of the obstacles. Continuing to travel, explore, and homeschool isn’t easy when you feel like crap but we did. Otherwise, Petunia wins. We can’t have that.

In truth, I’m better off for having kept up with the things that bring me happiness even though it would have been easier to stay at home. And certainly, not all of the adventures were fantastic. Petunia made her presence well-known throughout the Cumberland Gap trip but I’m glad we went. (Of course, now you have the behind-the-scenes insight as to why it was riddled with problems.)

We all encounter Petunia-like events in our lives. She’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last. I’ve simply got to keep moving forward and keep it in perspective. There’s nothing particularly special about how I managed to stay true to myself other than simply recognizing that it was a necessity in order to not get lost in the ordeal.

With all of this now said, I promise Val in Real Life won’t become Tumor Watch 2012. In fact, I hope I never have to mention it again. So on my 40th birthday I hope you’ll join me in giving the Petunias in your life an enthusiastic middle finger salute and start planning the next adventure in your life.

Autumn Brilliance
Life dishing it out? Keep the things that make you happy very close.



  1. Happy Birthday! I’m so glad I stumbled on this post today and your blog. What a wonderfully, well written and inspirational post. Don’t overthink it! You need to post stuff like this much more often.

    1. Thank you Jessica. It’s going out on a bit of a limb getting into the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes of your family as you know. Glad you stopped by the site. I appreciate the visit.

  2. Hi Val – I hope you had an amazing birthday!! The big 4-0 is nothing to sneeze at – I’ll be joining you next year!! Thanks so much for sharing your trials with us. The petunias of the world are sent to try us – they make the good stuff so much better! Looking forward to your house selling and you heading in the direction you most want!

    1. Yes, very nice birthday. Opted for local fun instead of heading off somewhere. Really looking forward to down-sizing our lives…hopefully soon.

  3. Life is full of many things, and that’s what makes life so interesting and challenging. Remember it’s the “not so good” things that make the good things seem so great! You’ve got a whole lot of people who love what you write, and I for one don’t mind you sharing all you need to share, we’re all fighting our own personal struggles in one way or another.

    Have a wonderful birthday!

    1. I so agree. These bumps keep us balanced. And indeed, we all have our bumps to face. I thought it was important to show that even though we have a good time on our adventures, we have our struggles as well. It’s not easy making all of this happen. It’s not a charmed life but one that’s taken a lot of work to build.

  4. I just gave Petunia the single finger hello as well. And I actually enjoyed it!

    Minus the tumor(I think), we are not too far apart in the journey. It is a struggle, this breaking free stuff. But we will get there. We will. You will.

    Keep going for it. Happy Birthday.

    1. Thanks Justin. Hope you gave a “Petunia” in your life a salute as well. And yes, taking the reins of your life is hard work!

  5. Happy birthday Val. And thanks for sharing Petunia with us. We don’t just care about the granola you serve. We care about you!

    1. Thanks Clark. Just wanted to inject some perspective into the mix.

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