Unlock Lawless: Please Bail Me Out

MDA Lock-up

Fundraising isn’t as hard as you think; you just need to come up with a plan.  As part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s (MDA) Lockup event, I need  to support one child to go to summer camp and be released from “prison”. By turning this project into a fun campaign, I am confident I will raise the $800.

The Setup

Holy crap, I’m locked up and in the slammer! I’ll explain later, but right now I *really* need your help. Please bail me out- I need $500 but $10 will do! Wire the money here: http://bit.ly/unlocklawless

Remember, I’m innocent until proven guilty….


Charged With: Caring too much about the kids

Bail must be raised by Thursday or else…

The Emotional Plea

While it’s not a real jail, it’s even more important as I’m raising bail to help children and adults with muscle disease in my community who are supported by the vital work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

I might not be able to rely on good behavior to get out so that’s why I need your help – I need you to donate to my bail! Just click on the donation button to make a secure donation - I know that together we’ll Make a Muscle and Make a Difference in the fight against muscle disease.

Campaign Theme:  Orange is the New Black

Campaign Tactics:

  • Office bake sale (Hugs & Kisses M&M Pretzel Bites)
    Since I’m being locked up, we figured something orange (or prison striped) could convince people to donate to my cause. The Hugs and Kisses M&M Pretzel Bites below should do the trick.)
  • Office orange sale
    A lot of people in our office are getting fit and losing weight. Clementines still provide them with a sweet treat while sticking with our Orange is the New Black theme.
  • Social media outreach
    We all need a little help from our friends from time to time. What better time to reach out to those who care most about you than when raising money for a good cause.



hugs and kisses


Rold Gold Pretzels
Hershey Kisses and Hugs
Fall M&M’s

Fall M&M's


Heat oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pretzels on cookie sheet. Unwrap Hershey kisses and hugs and place on top of pretzels. Bake in over for 5 minutes or until kisses and hugs are shiny. Remove kisses and hugs pretzels from the oven and carefully press an M&M into the top of each kiss or hug. Place candies into the refrigerator to harden (about 30 minutes-1 hour). Enjoy!

pretzel bites


Tweet to share:

Owner of Discovering Arkansas @CourtneyRVL is locked up! Seriously. We need your help to bail her out. Wire $ here: http://bit.ly/unlocklawless


2014 Bucket List

bucket list

I was inspired by my friend Tonya Staab to create a 2014 Bucket List. It’s a great way to try new things, make goals and bring inspiration to your everyday life.  So, without further ado, here is my 2014 Bucket List:

1. Run a 5k

2. Zipline in the Ozarks

3. Paint one painting each month of the year = 12 paintings- Torn, Follow Your Arrow, Storm, Out of Darkness, Decisions, Decisions, Wounded

4. Read 24 books (or more)- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Zoo by James Patterson, 12th of Never by James Patterson

5. Stay in a haunted hotel

6. Attend the Eureka art fair

7. Learn to canoe

8. Take a karate class

9. Spend a weekend visiting Arkansas wineries

10. Throw a dart at a map of Arkansas and spend a weekend exploring wherever it lands

11. Host a Sole Hope party

12. Go camping with the family

13. Wine and a hot tub with someone special after dark

14. Cook every dish in a cookbook

15. Take the kids horseback riding

16. Dig for diamonds

17. Take a painting class

18. Go to the opera

19. Eat at a new restaurant once a month

20. Do something spontaneous

21. Join a board

22. Girls weekend/day at a spa

23. Road trip to a state I’ve never been

24. Volunteer

25. Oaklawn horse races in Hot Springs

26. Review every restaurant on the square and blog it

27. Hike 5 new trails

28. Help clean up a park/lake/etc

29. Create a new family tradition

30. See the broadway show Chicago

31. Go to a comedy show

32. Plant a flower garden with the kids

33. Date night at a drive-in movie

34. Have family game night once a week

35. Fly in a hot air balloon

Eyes Wide Open

I’ve been through a lot in the past 20 years that only a handful of people know about.  I have shed quite a few tears, I have held in fear and anger, I have shut myself off from the rest of the world  unable to leave my home.  Basically, I have dealt with major issues in unhealthy ways and without the support I so desperately needed.

This past cancer scare opened my eyes to a support system I never knew existed and to one that powerfully uplifted me in ways I have never experienced, ever.  Don’t get me wrong, I have some of the most amazing friends that will jump on the next plane to Arkansas if I need them.  These friends will and have been by my side through the tough times without judgement or critisim.  They are true friends.

I discovered that by opening up and publicly sharing something so deeply personal that a support system that I didn’t even know existed came out of the woodwork.  I got text messages, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages, Skype messages, emails and even flowers from my online community.  I went from knowing I had a few close friends to knowing I have an online community of hundreds who were sending me well wishes when I went for my biopsy and prayers for benign results.  I even learned of others that had or were currently going through the same thing. Others decided they needed to get their breasts checked out as a result of my openness.

Ted Rubin shared this quote in a comment that was all too perfect:

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard

Knowing what I know now has made the realization all too clear that in order to get through life’s troubling times I should share my experiences with others.



The Biopsy

photo taken by Brad Lawless

I tossed and turned last night.  I tried really hard not to think about the biopsy, but it deemed difficult to put out of my mind.

The biopsy was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and I was up and out of bed by 5:30 a.m.  Remaining calm was my intention, but I felt so tense and so uneasy.  The muscles in my neck were and still are hard tight knots.

They called me in after only being in the waiting room for a few minutes.  When they called my name I jumped as if someone said, “Boo!”  I stood up and slowly walked to the door.  I wanted so badly to turn and run, but I knew that I would be running from something that I needed answers to and I needed to be strong for myself and for my loved ones.

I walked with the nurse to a small room where she offered me a Xanax and a glass of water.   I gladly popped the pill in my mouth and washed it down with the ice cold beverage.  She then asked  me to remove my clothes from the waist up and handed me a pink top like smock thing.   She returned a few minutes later and led me to another room.

The next room felt familiar.  It reminded me of the room I had the ultrasound in 5 days prior.  The technician  asked me to lay on the table and then she had me roll on my side, facing the computer screen while she put a wedge behind my back.  She then had me raise my right arm above my head.  I remained in that position throughout the entire time I laid on that table…about an hour.  She then proceded to take an ultrasound so she could get some more pictures for the doctor.

While we waited for the doctor the same awful music filled the room.  If only they played music I could sing along too.  That would surely take my mind off of what was about to happen to my poor little boob.  The worst part was the technician and the nurse stood in complete silence the entire 10 or so minutes I laid there.  I was in emotional misery and they were not helping AT.ALL.

The doctor arrived, looked at the ultrasound photos, looked at the lump herself with the ultrasound machine and then said, “Dr. So and So owes me a coffee for this one.  It is located in a really hard angle to get to.”  Wow…that was really helping me feel better, I thought sarcastically.  Could this room get any more uncomfortable??

It was time for them to start the procedure.  The Xanax had started to kick in and the nervous fidgeting and twisting of the blanket laying on top of me turned into gental petting of the soft material.  I closed my eyes for the rest of the event.

To be quite honest, the best part of the procedure was the procedure itself.  I thought for sure it was going to hurt and not once did I feel pain.  The doctor numbed the location before starting and each sample she drew with the 12 gauge needle, she administered more pain medication.  The sound of the machine that took the tissue sample from the lump was pretty nerve racking as was my fear that I would feel pain. There have been many times when I have had a tooth drilled without enough Novocain and the pain from the drill to the exposed nerve was killer.  During the procedure, I felt no discomfort and more importantly, no pain.

After the biopsy was complete, they had me do another mammogram.  Again, I thought about the pain I was about to endure as they squeezed my tender breast between the tight pieces of plastic, but that was not the case.  The technician was very gental and the procedure, pleasant.

I got dressed and lazily walked out of the office.  I felt a bit loopy from the drugs and was ready to get home and lie down.

I just completed the 3 hours of icing and now I wait.  Luckily, the nurse I had spoken to yesterday was incorrect and I will have the results  tomorrow at 4:30pm CST.  Thank heavens because I don’t know if I could wait another week!

Tomorrow is the Biopsy

My stomach is in knots today thinking about my biopsy tomorrow.

I just got off the phone with the doctors office.  I was so beside myself when I was leaving the mammogram appointment that I asked all the WRONG questions and left with little to no answers.  I just wanted out of the office so I could let the flood gates open from my eyes.  I held those tears back with every ounce of strength I had.  They did give me a list of instructions…what to wear, what medicine not to take, how long the procedure would take, how to take care of my breast after the biopsy, etc.  They even said they would provide me with anxiety medicine if I wanted it…I think I’ll take them up on the offer!

The most important thing I forgot to ask, “When will I have results?”

The nurse I spoke to today told me that the office will be able to pretty much tell me right away if the cells look cancerous, but they will be sending the sample to have further testing and I should hear back in about a week.  I am not experiencing an ounce of relief knowing this, but it is good to know.

So, now I just wait and work and try and get through this day.  All the what if’s are racing through my head, I’ve even thought about removal if it comes to that.

Social Suicide

I needed a good veg-out night after an extremely stressful week.  It was a night fit for some wine, alone time and mindless tv.  I had found a lump in my breast, and after an ultrasound and mammogram, they decided I needed a biopsy.  I needed my mind to stop running through scenarios.

Saying I was down in the dumps, was an understatement.

I stayed home Friday night and  flipped through the channels until I came across the 2004 flick “Mean Girls”.  This seemed like the perfect movie for the end to a downright rotten week.

In the movie Damian (the funny sidekick to Janis) says, “You can’t join Mathletes, it’s social suicide!”

It really got me thinking about how silly and unfortunate worrying what people think of you is, yet it happens every single day in social settings, at work, at school…everywhere.

Not doing this or that because you are worried what people will think?  It’s simply preposterous, but we all do it at some point in our lives and some of us are serial offenders.

I was hook, lined and sinkered into worrying what people thought of me growing up.  It completely stressed me out to the point that at a school dance in Junior High I spent the entire dance in the girls restroom crying hysterically because one very popular girl who I thought to be my friend pulled a “mean girl” on me.  I can’t remember all of the details now, but I will NEVER forget how I felt.  I will also NEVER forget the dress I was wearing to that dance. The taffeta dress was kelly green and white with thick horizontal stripes and had a 50′s look to it. It had been strapless, against the school rules, so my mom had to add straps.   My shoes were white flats that had ribbons that tied up my ankles.  This was my very first school dance and I had been so excited.

Another memory I have was playing the violin in elementary school.  I had even been the only student in the class  awarded a scholarship to participate in a summer program between my 6th and 7th grade year.  After 6th grade I gave up the violin simply because  Junior High was starting and I didn’t want to be called a “nerd”.  This past unpleasant nickname today is considered sexy.  I gave up an instrument that I  so passionately loved and played for what?  An unpleasant nickname!

I hope that as a mom, I can give my girls the confidence to make the choices that are best for them and not what they think they should do to please others.  Life is way too short and one day you turn 37, go through some major life changing events and realize it’s time to live life to the fullest and be happy.

Photo credit:  Found this photo posted by one of my friends on Facebook.  No link was included to it’s original source.

There is Nothing Wrong With Needing Support

I have a confession to make.  Do you know I didn’t know how to spell the word “mammogram” until I found the lump in my breast.    I guess it’s because I have never had one and have never had to type the word before.

Today I went to have the lump I found checked out.  I found a lump in my breast on Monday and had an appointment booked to get it checked out Wednesday.  The doctor felt it to and referred me to get a mammogram and ultrasound on Friday.  Today is Friday.

I went to The Breast Center in Fayetteville.  I was shaking as I entered the building, but I held my composure.  Actually, the entire day I was on edge.  I feel sorry for those close to me because I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t very nice because I was so stressed out.  The secretary handed me an iPad that was housed in a pink cover.  I will never forget that pink cover.

I had my first ever mammogram.  It was uncomfortable, but I clenched my teeth as my breasts were squeezed and xrayed.  I knew this was necessary to find out what that lump was that was living in my body.

After the mammogram they had me sit in a tiny room, not comfortable for more than one chair and a small table.  I tried hard to look at the magazines they offered as a way to buy time, but as I was looking at the pages, my mind was elsewhere.  All I could think about was this moment…where I was right.now.

It was time for my ultrasound.  The tech looked at the lump for a while.  Then she mentioned that there was another lump they had found during the mammogram, so she looked at that.  She looked at them and looked at them.  She even had me hum.  I hummed and hummed.  Then she said she was going to get the doctor and left the room.  It took everything in me not to cry while she was gone.  The music flowing through the speakers was elevator music, the worst of the worst.  The doctor and the tech came back into the room and looked again at the lump right below and behind my nipple.  They looked and looked and then came to the conclusion that I needed a biopsy to tell me anything more.

I continued to hold my emotions tight and within until after I made my biopsy appointment.  I walked out of the office, motioned to Brad who had been waiting patiently in the waiting room for 2 hours and then broke the floodgates that held my tears letting all of the held up emotions flow from my body.

My shoulders hunched over and sobs took over my body.

I am not one to air the things to the public that are going on in my life.  I never wrote about the fires that devoured my family’s home in San Diego, I never wrote about losing everything and filing for bankruptcy, I haven’t typed one letter about the divorce I am going through right.now. and I haven’t told very many people that my girls are in Florida while I live in Arkansas  only seeing them once a month.  I have been in some type of mourning for the past 5 years and I am done hiding my emotions and holding everything in.

This discovery has made me realize that I NEED to communicate and I NEED to release these emotions not only for myself, but for others that may be going through the same things and need some support…just like I do.

New Orleans, Boobs and Lima Beans

I just got back from New Orleans after attending the Niche Mommy Conference.  It was a great conference held at The Roosevelt, where I met amazing women and ate delicious, authentic Louisiana food.  Most of the cuisine I tasted was food that I had never tasted before.  It was an all around great experience!

We escaped hurricane Isaac which I am grateful for.  I was so scared I would be stuck in New Orleans, in a hotel and that was not a pleasant thought.  Even though the Roosevelt was big and beautiful, I wanted to get home and sleep in my own bed.

I got home Sunday night after a long day of flying  and Monday morning woke up feeling miserable.  My body ached, my throat was on fire and I felt feverish.  Since I now go to the office every day, I called in sick deciding it would be better for me to stay in my pj’s and work from home.

I was on a call with my co-worker Randi who is also one of my dearest friends when I found the lump.  I am one to never sit around in pj’s, ever.  I get home from work and usually stay in my work clothes until it’s time to go to bed and on the weekends, I’m up and dressed every day.  I’m always wearing a bra, whether it’s underwire or sports.

That was why, when I felt my boob, I actually felt it and found a lump the size of a lima bean.

I immediately hung up with Randi and called the gynecologist’s office.  I had an appointment scheduled for September 13, but knew there was no way I could sanely wait until that appointment.  My nerves are already frazzled from the divorce, so this finding was the icing on the cake…this could push me over the edge.

The gynecologist’s office got me an appointment for Wednesday of the same week.  BTW, I must admit (hanging head low)  that it has been since March of 2010 since I’ve been to see a gynecologist and I NEVER do self breast exams.

After shedding a few tears while discussing my past with the ever so warm and friendly nurse, she left the room to allow me to undress.  The doctor came in and it was the first time meeting her.  I felt instant comfort by her professional yet warm nature and it was time to let her confirm or squash my findings.

She felt the lump right away and described it as being the size of a lima bean.  I was hoping I was incorrect in my findings, as anyone would be, but I also felt slightly comforted that I did in fact find something wrong with my body myself ,and that I found it NOW rather than when I ever got to the gynecologist’s office because my past record has been rather poor.

Today I go to get an ultrasound and a mammogram to find out what this lump is growing inside of my body.  My nerves and stress level are through the roof.  My life is flashing before my eyes…the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am thinking about what I should be doing, could be doing and what I should stop doing.  Everything is spinning through my head at what feels like warp speed, yet time seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.

Making My Unforgettable Life – Reflections on Turning 37

I turned 37 today and I don’t feel a day over 27.  Well…most days.

Not sure where the time went, but so much has happened to me over the past 10 years and so much has happend in the past year…some good,  some bad.

Over the past year, I moved to 2 different states, was promoted to a VP position at my job that I’ve been with for 2 years, went to about 10 blogging conferences (maybe more), bought a Gucci Fiat, made some really amazing friends, met a few celebrities, was on a Lifetime television show called The Balancing Act, fell out of love and into love, started hiking, started painting, and so much more.  It really has been a whirlwind  of a year, but I’ll take it.

I’ve had days when I don’t think I could be more stressed out and I have days when I’m on top of the world.  I also have days where I am content in the decisions I have made and days where I question myself.

All in all, I am happy I am healthy and the loved ones in my life are all fairing nicely as well.

I’m excited for what 37 is going to bring into my life and I’m excited about the things I would like to accomplish in this new birth year.

Life is what you make it and I plan on making mine unforgettable.

Hasta la vista 36, Hola 37!

Spring Has Sprung in Arkansas

I went out to search for spring today using my eyes to guide me and frame my photos and my lens to capture the brilliance I was seeing in my surroundings.  The hot pink of the flowers popped against the blue sky.  I soaked up the pink that screams spring is hear!

The little yellow daises  made summer feel oh so near.

The yellow and white of the daffodil screamed spring and smelled amazing!  They are everywhere here in north west Arkansas!

Photos were taken on the Bentonville Square and on the Crystal Bridges trail.