Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Finding the Blessing Amid the Sorrow

Our family has been through some hard times and we even have some scars to prove it, but there's a gift that I have sadly taken for granted for these past few precious years...

Ever since Ben was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer, we have been blessed. He has been home with us every single day, excluding time spent in the hospital. But once he was home he was home for good.

Yes, we have had to accept Social Security. I'm not terribly ashamed of this since I put in nearly 20 years of work before all of this happened. I paid my dues, sort to speak. But instead of feeling ashamed, I feel blessed for this rare opportunity.

He will be off to school in the Fall and beyond that, hopefully a career. So we will only have another nine special months left of being together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's all our son has ever known. I don't know how Christopher will respond. So many big changes in only a year's time; a huge move, dad gone for most of the day, and finding himself at school, too!

As for me? I'm not sure. I have started some volunteer ventures that I hope to last for some time, but I am sure to find myself home alone. I won't know what to do with myself. But as for now, I will notice and accept the gifts my Father in Heaven has put before me this holiday season.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Learning How to Let Go

Letting go  is not my forte. In fact, I don't I have ever successfully let go. This seems to be a lifelong pursuit fro me. But unlike my other attempts, I am determined to reach my goal this year!

I have been praying for guidance and I have been blessed to get my first step:

Notice AND Accept

Borrowing a page out of Merrilee Boyack's book where she mentions Caring Plus Response when doing service. Notice and Accept is supposed to work in a very similar way for me. See, one of my lifelong personally achievements is finding and feeling true love.

One sure-fire way of finding love is noticing it! I'm not very good at it, though. I don't often rightfully acknowledge peoples' attempts to show their love often because I only truly understand the love I have accepted.

Which leads me to the other part: Accept. Obviously I'm not even close to perfect on this part. But I can see what I have to do. If you know of any goods ways to help me with my goal, I'd be willing to listen.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

♪♪ So You Say You Want a Resolution ♪♪

I know those aren't the words to the Beatles song, but crazy as it seems, the idea of New Year's resolutions has been on my mind lately.

I know you must think I'm crazy because it's not even Christmas yet, but hear me out.

I don't like to make resolutions. I don't feel like I have a clean slate that's been wiped by a single day. To me, New Year's Day is just like any other day ending in "Y". Yes, I am a person with no real love for the major winter holiday season but the feeling I have toward New Year's is not apathy, it's reality.

See, I don't like to start things on January 1st just to have forgotten my one goal for the year. That's the other thing: my mind is too busy to have just one goal in mind and pretty much one way to get there. Sure, losing weight is an awesome goal, I've set that one many times. But I want my resolution of sorts to have movement, to ebb and flow with my life. My life doesn't just have the same things in it every day. Something new comes up almost hourly!

So a few years ago I remembered what a good friend did one year when we were all in college and trying to figure out life, did. Her name is Christina and she had the summer off to do whatever she wanted and what she wanted to do was focus on her needs and wants. That may sound selfish, but Christina is the kind of woman who will put others needs before her own without realizing it, until she is completely spent and burnt out. So she called it the "Summer of Christina" and she cut out the letters S.O.C. and stuck them on her mirror so she would remember her goal that summer.

Then I heard yet another friend give a speech on how to better ourselves. His name is Ron and he suggested we "do a little more". When giving service, "do a little more". When working on YOU, "do a little more". When desiring to come closer to Christ, "do a little more".

So I combined the two ideas!

While still in the throes of all that has happened to our little fam, I knew I needed to do something to keep it together: mind, body, and soul. And not just my family's but mine as well. In fact, this was my main focus to staying in one piece! So, I took Ron's advice and made my whole year's focus on doing a little more. Whether it was temporal or spiritual, I did a little more. I didn't do everything, I simply did a little more. And I did that all year long.

By year's end, I wasn't perfect or complete just yet, but I could definitely feel myself getting there! That was the year 2012. For 2013, keeping the Whole Year Theme idea alive, I had another self-improvement theme: Stretch. I was to stretch outside of my comfort zone. To stretch further in my responsibilities at home, at church, with friends, with my community. Anything that needed stretching, I did it...or at least had to try!

And you know what? IT WORKED! I used to not leave my home without a panic attack, so I left as little as possible...until I stretched. Soon, I was leaving on my own and doing things just for me. I even joined the most awesome Zumba group ever! The rewards were too much to count! And then I did the biggest stretch to date: I moved to another state...in a loaded car...cat, dog, kid, and me....ALL, BY, MYSELF! (My husband took the moving van earlier the day before). If you were to tell me January 1st that I was going to do any of that much less ALL of it, not only would I not believe you, but I would have crumpled into a ball and have sworn NEVER to leave my house again!

So my point. The entire reason for writing this post. To let you in on next year's theme!

Let Go.

I want to be happy again. I want to enjoy the happy events that keep happening to me, and I think the only way to do that is for me to Let Go! So that's what I'm going to attempt for next year. Like complete weight loss I have never succeeded in letting go before, but hey, I never drove 14 hours across three states to a new home and life before either...

Want to join me? Want to share your ideas and thoughts? You can even hitch a ride on my crazy train and try doing all three this year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goodbye Old Friend

After 14 years of caring for this old codger, he has finally passed. The stress of the move from California to Idaho, not to mention having to be cooped up in the laundry room because his incontinence combined with an all-carpeted rental don't mix. His body has succumbed to renal failure and it's been sad to watch. I was hoping it was "just stress" and that I could help him get better with regular outside walks and adventures, but this is a real example of how stress kills.

This may sound completely trivial considering there are people dying or have had died or even with other things our family has gone through, but this incident just brings all those thoughts and feelings to the surface for me. Anything I have suppressing either knowingly or otherwise have now thrust upward and the stress of holding those back has been released.

Gus may have been irritating, scary, annoying, and smelly at times but he loved me and me alone, and I him. He was a tiny 1.1 pounder when he finally became mine. People mistook him for a bird once, sitting on my shoulder! But despite interactions others may have had with him, he was sweet with me. Oh there were some scary times between he and I, he was a feral cat after all, but when he was scared or scared others he came running to me to comfort him.

He was a good snuggler...when he wanted to be. He was silly and liked to play as a kitten would even up to the day we left for Idaho. He was smart and fetched like a dog, came when I called his name, and knew that even when he was mad I was still the boss.

Anyway, it may be silly to cry or be sad that such a creature is no longer on the Earth, but not for me. I loved him and I will miss him.

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Be or Not To Be...

Some might call me a Drama Queen, and I might just agree with them....especially these past few years!

When someone has asked me, "How are things?" I would give them a laundry list of bad and unfortunate events that had made me quite an unpleasant person.

See, I have forgotten how to be happy.

Strangely enough, I only had this revelation recently. And it's sad really because I have wasted A LOT of time being hurt, embarrassed, scared, and jealous. Oh, I'm not quite cured yet, but I'm getting there.

It has been very difficult to say things aren't that bad. I'm totally stressed out about our move and everything that goes along with such an event, but really it's not that big of a deal. I know I can handle it because I've been through much worse.

So, why is it so hard for me to give a good report of my doings? Why do I have to act like such a Drama Queen? I could throw out those four letters (PTSD) and have that excuse away everything I do and say. I will lay some blame on that because it is a reality right now, but I feel that can pass. No, I have chosen much of what I feel. You may disagree, but I know myself. It is a whole lot easier for me to be angry...it's safer somehow. That way I can believe I'm not showing what I truly feel, which is usually hurt or embarrassed.

But I'm stopping...slowly, but surely, I am stopping my bad attitude. Just like anything I have and will have slip-ups, but I will forgive myself and move on. I can't say I won't have any more drama but I can say I won't let it rule my life.

I do have a confession to make: I AM a Drama Queen! It's just who I am. I choose to express my feelings...ALL my feelings. Instead of holding them inside and letting no one know. But I am learning to tone it down a bit. But I'm not going to change who I am. I have had a lot of things mold me into the person I am today and I can't keep quiet about them, and maybe I'm not supposed to. Maybe I have a story to tell that might touch just one person in the right way.

So maybe being a Drama Queen isn't so bad. I just have to sprinkle some normalcy in now and again!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Still Reeling

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you have gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death.

It's not just a soldier's plight either...

It's been four years and I am still not over what happened to us...to me. It's frustrating because I want it to be done with. I want the memories, the flashbacks to stop. I want the feelings of that time to stop making my mind think it's happening all over again!

Becoming a new parent was hard enough, but then having to deal with the immediacy of cancer was too much. Then came a death in the family...from cancer! ...the treatments...the postpartum depression... All of it was too much but then to add necrotizing fasciitis to the whole thing?!

Did you know Ben died? Yeah...he had continual problems with his oxygen levels and trauma to his body that he went Code Blue. They brought him back, but he has no memory of this...I do...
He also had 27 blood transfusions to flush out the disease and sustain him since debridement was so detrimental, blood loss was tremendous. He had surgery every single day for two months. One month's worth of surgeries were without general anesthesia because his body was becoming too weak to withstand it (thus the death issue).

Every day I walked through the ICU watching people say goodbye to their loved ones only to get to the area that held my husband. This was the place people never left. I had to walk in a blue suit that covered every inch of my body (head, face, hands) so I would not become infected from what Ben had. 

It was awful...

And then there was Christopher...

He was still a newborn. Ben missed so much. His first crawl. His first pull-up. His first Halloween. His first tooth. And I missed caring and loving for my newborn. I was too busy trying to find someone to care for him so I could spend a few hours with my husband at the hospital.

The worst were the phone calls. Not from friends or family but from the doctor. At 2 or 3 in the morning he would call and tell me Ben wasn't doing so well. I could hear Ben screaming in the background. Blood-curdling screams because they had just done to him. The doctor would tell me to prepare for the worst (death). When I could finally find someone to watch my baby (around 4 in the afternoon) I would get another call from the doctor stating that things were better now...

This happened every day for nearly three weeks...

I know I should be over this because, heck, it was Ben that had all the pain and surgeries right?! But I have never been more afraid of losing it all then I was back then. It's difficult now because I'm sitting here watching my husband buy medical supplies over eBay because free to cheap insurance doesn't cover it. It's difficult to get over it all because I see his body will NEVER be the same inside and out. It's difficult because people even now will still consider me crazy and believe this whole crazy year of events didn't really happen...or at least not as bad as I portray it. 

I suppose the only real way to finally overcome this traumatic event in our lives is to learn from it, and I have. I have learned to be more sensitive to those who are having difficult times. I have learned to just help instead of asking what someone needs. Because unless you can fix everything, you don't know what you need help with! I have learned that everyone, EVERYONE is going through something huge in their lives right now and to wait until that's over is too late to offer assistance. I learned that even a smile can help, a hug even, if I have nothing else to give at that time.I have learned that we will probably never fully recover from all of this. I learned that there is ALWAYS more to the story than you think there is...because there is in my case! Most of all I learned what was MOST important to me...my two loves, husband and son.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Insanity to Zen All In One Week!

When we were trying to figure out what "sacrifices" we were going to have to make, I was mad because I was thinking that we already sacrifice A LOT! But when I found out we were moving to Idaho?!?!... I was more like this...

I was kicking and screaming because as much as I complained about my life situation, I didn't want to move!

I went CRAZY looking for a house and figuring out if we were going to buy or rent...

Everything was totally out of control until I finally gave in and let Heavenly Father take over. After that I was totally Zen.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself until...I realized that all of this spanned a total of ONE week! :-P

Oh well, at least I made progress. I'm not freaking out. I'm slowly packing. I'm taking my time and being very methodical with this move. I want us to be so great and easy to move that people will love the ease of it all and still feel they did a good deed for the day! LOL

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our Family Is Growing, but not in the way you're thinking...

I have found that growing happens in many different ways. We grow through experiences in our house, mainly. Through all our trials and tribulations, we have grown into new people it seems. Christopher grows as a child should and in amazing ways. The way his life moves seems to be a similitude of the way my life is. Sometimes his growing pains are difficult for him because he wants to be free and make his own decisions and live his life the way he sees fit, rather than through the guidelines we have set for him.

I find myself with those same growing pains...

Our family has endured much in the short time we have been together and most of it has made us stronger. This new chapter in our lives will probably have the same effect.

We are moving from our beloved first home in Rancho Cordova, California to find our new selves in Pocatello, Idaho! It all seems so crazy, and it is because we are to make the move in the next 3 1/2 months!

What do you do with all the things and places that have memories attached? Leave the things, take the memories.

We have been born and raised in California and it will seem strange to have a child that will barely remember living here at all. I, on the other hand, will have LOADS of memories, good and bad, that I take with me. I know we will obviously be making new ones, but I have become accustomed to my life here with little change. I realize now while writing this, like finding out you've never truly been in love with the person you're with, I don't care for my life as its played out the last few years.

I will miss my friends, our ease of access to fun places I know and love, I will miss what might have been. I'm reading a book that attempts to ease me into my new life when it reminds me that I "must be willing to let go of the life [I] planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for [me]," Joseph Campbell.

So, here goes something...

Friday, June 21, 2013

How Low Can You Go?

I have been having a bad week and a bad attitude to go along with it!
Things have not gone my way and next week's outlook doesn't look good either...
I told a good friend of mine just some of my grievances and she suggested I was being humbled. ME?! Need humbling?! YEP!

At first I was taken aback by her comment and then pondering truthfully I knew she was right, and that she was a VERY good friend for telling me! (Apparently I'm not an easy person who people can be straight-forward with, without fear of losing a limb) She told me that I should "just be". Just be humbled. Just be who I'm being molded into. Just be like Christ and turn the other cheek when life smacks me square on the jaw!

When she told me this, I sat in my car and cried. I wasn't hurt by what she said, I was scared. I'm being humbled in so many ways and have been for so long that I was hoping for a break soon. This advice lets me know that I'm just in the thick of it. ...bummer...

If realizing I still needed humbling wasn't humbling enough, the scale wanted to laugh at me and spit in my eye all at the same time today! But dutifully and humbly I walked into my meeting to receive my penance. After sitting there and stewing, the lead of the group and another good friend told me (without even knowing what was going on) that I was being too hard on myself. I told her that it's difficult not to after so many people for so many years have been just as hard on me. She said something that COMPLETELY changed my life. She said that I didn't have to be one of those people. Simple yet amazing!

So, even though my mood hasn't changed completely (I'm gonna need a pity party it up for another day or so) I have received some AWESOME advice! I know it was Heavenly Father's way of letting me know what's going on and how to better deal with it all, and for that I am truly grateful. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Case of Emergency

Have you ever been on a flight as they are preparing you for take-off and they inform you on the proper way to (possibly) survive? After they get done showing everyone how to properly fasten a seat belt (does anyone still have a problem with this?!) they look directly in the eyes of all the mothers on the plane and proceed to tell us about the oxygen mask. Rule number one for these masks: PUT IT ON YOURSELF FIRST! Many moms fumble with this idea and decide to space out from this point on because obviously this "Flight Attendant" isn't a mother or at least not a very good one BECAUSE what child-loving mother would put herself first?!

I remember thinking this as we were on our first plane ride with our newborn son on the down to receive cancer treatments for my young husband. Everything about that situation was crazy... I was in complete survival mode at this point which meant everyone around me mattered more than myself. NO WAY was I going to put that mask on myself FIRST!

Hindsight being 20/20 and having the gift of seeing it has helped me understand a few things...

If I don't put that mask on first, nothing gets done and everything is chaos. I'm not saying I am the queen of all things and nothing gets done without me but my family looks to me to be the steady one and when I can't breathe, no one does either.

Everyone is looking to me for their example. I'm mommy and if I'm doing it, it must be the right thing to do.

If I'm going crazy over a crazy situation, EVERYONE goes crazy along with me. BUT if I can breathe and keep my head about me then things can go a lot smoother.

So, now when the Flight Attendant starts her show on how to properly use those wonderful oxygen masks, I pay close attention; because when the plane (of life) is going down I need to know how to breathe.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bent Not Broken

For a few years I have been hurt and angry at those around me which left me feeling alone and bitter.
I felt let down.
 Let down by people, church,
and God.
I felt cold.
Then about a year ago I started seeing a pinprick of light at the end of my long and dark tunnel.
 Now I look behind me and see a small bit of black, ahead of me –
I heard something recently that broadened my perspective on these years of trials in my life. “We’re not broken, just bent.”
It’s from a song about a dying relationship that still possesses hope.
This got me thinking of others around me who have probably or are currently feeling the same way I did. An image came to mind of reeds blowing in the wind.
 These are beautiful, so beautiful that they are sung about as “amber waves of grain.” Many of us may feel as if they are the lone reed mentioned in poems, left alone to our own devices. I don’t feel this way any longer. I see there are other reeds bending
not broken
standing beside me…and they are made beautiful because of this bending.
Many things are made more beautiful because of bending. Things of nature like the grass,
the waves, 
the reeds. And just like these things
they do not stand alone.
They come together to form one large beautiful scene.
 They cover valleys and mountains,
 rivers and oceans.
We are not alone in our bending process. And those of us that see that MUST help those that don’t.
I see those around me now suffering and all I can think is, “how can I help?” I realize this is probably how others thought when I needed help. I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to give.
I pray.
I think.
I wait to hear how Heavenly Father wants to bend me.