Sunday, May 12, 2019

Scarlet Letters

This post started out as one about opinions.  Specifically, one day when I became overwhelmed by the strong opinions of others around me and on social media.  As a highly sensitive person (in the words of my therapist, "wow, I've never seen a score that high.") I tend to take everything too personally. But, Mother's Day, I dread for weeks before it comes. I have a wonderful, selfless mother.  She made sure we had a great childhood.  We went to Story Time at the library, read all the classic children's books, always had a balanced diet, played outside in our expansive yard and made up our own "castle" in the woods. She was a teacher and a mom.  Yet, I never once ever remember feeling neglected. We always at supper as a family and had clean clothes to wear. I don't know how she did it but it gave us the opportunity to have horses and go to a good college. Sure we spent a few days each summer in either her classroom or my father's (also a teacher.) I remember liking it.  There were plenty of things to keep us occupied while they prepared for a new school year.  FIRST, remember that my brain is literally stuck in 2005. Now, fast forward to 2002 when I got married to hubby with my degree in Elementary Education.  I was very much a people person and saw the tremendous impact both of my parents had on their students even years later.  Even in college though I had this sense that God had some sort of different plan for my life.  I had no longing to be a mom like most of my friends did and if you ask any of those closest to me at the time they will tell you I always knew I'd end up different.  I thought I might be called to adopt a child with special needs or something like that. But, get married and have kids? NOT for me I sensed.  Maybe teaching was where I would leave my impact?
My hubby knew this when he married me. He was okay with God's plan. We were okay with God's plan.  I am overly sensitive. I think the day we returned from our honeymoon was when the pressure about kids started.  I was 22, hubs 23. We had plenty of time to just be married since our entire relationship was a long distance one.  The brazen pressure about children shocked me, frankly.  I grew up in a family and church that valued children but left you alone about them.  Now the pressure was all around me. I had no capacity to handle it.  I began to feel like a "bad person." Was there something wrong with me?  And thus, the battle began.  Even at Christmas a little stocking was hung and paraded around wondering when it was to be filled. I couldn't escape it.  Yet, I still had this sense that something different awaited me.  So, I waited but the pressure grew into resistance, resentment, self-preservation, bitterness, sin.  And oh how I dreaded Mother's Day when I felt nothing but judged and pitied. I didn't want to be either.  I felt like poor Hester with that scarlet letter standing in the town square, everyone judging her for what she did, her mistake.  Since according to the critics, the only plan for a married woman is to have children and raise them, but even still give a girl a couple years before the pressure starts!. There was no room for me.  I didn't fit. I began feeling even worse about myself.  Did I miss something? Were they right?  I knew none of them were, but I lacked the maturity to see it for what it was;  their problem, not mine. I was seeking the Lord's will for my life, whatever that may be. Except now it was my problem too, because I was so angry about it.  I was a mess, coming unglued. It was effecting every part of my life now, and I had no idea how to fix it or what to do.  So I stood there feeling like Hester with a J(judged) and P(pitied) written on me, real or imagined, that is what it felt like to me.  Then, my aneurysm...............the different plan revealed!
This year is the first year I actually felt a measure of peace about the day.  We went to church (a different one than 2002) and had a nice quiet afternoon to ourselves. I took a nap with my little Terrier mix, Pippi and avoided Facebook at all the overly emotional sentimentality I knew I would find. It makes me uncomfortable in general.  I celebrated Mother's Day with my mom last weekend and hub's side last night. I walked out of church and shed those letters.  God's providence has prevailed as it always does. I am fully accepted and whole in Christ and gifts withheld turn into unexpected blessings.

Happy Mother's Day to all my mom friends and family.  Thanks for doing what you do and letting me be me. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Me, really?

Our church recently asked for people willing to share their stories to create a series of videos to post on their website.  I immediately knew I had to share mine.  I can't give you the link until it has been played for our church but in it I talk about relating to how Moses responds when God chooses to send him.
Moses questions why he would be chosen.  He even has the audacity to tell God he is poor at speaking.  Then he questions why anyone would listen to him and who he needed to say sent him when he got there(I guess he was willing to go).  God doesn't just let Moses off the hook that easy.  He does send with him a helper to speak and he tells Moses to tell the people ,"I AM" sent you. So simple, so profound.  I might not have even thought another thing about that but I either read a devotion or heard a sermon that talked about the profound impact, "I AM" can have ; I'll get the in a minute.  So if you know me at all nobody has to tell you God is at work and can take full credit for me both being alive and for my determination to keep going and not coming totally unglued or consumed by anxiety (believe me I still have my moments, the struggle is real.) But, if you truly know me, even a little you are amazed God would choose such a weak, crazy, indecisive, insecure human being to survive what the medical world claims is impossible and live with the effects of it daily.  But, I have always known God can use anyone and he usually uses the weak so His power is evident.  I'm not going to lie, really I was and am a prime candidate! And God may have used it in my life to take me out of my uncertainty. I always just had a feeling His plan for me did not fit the usual mold, but nobody would listen to me about that either, except my hubby. Thank the Lord, even if he didn't get it he certainly didn't stuff me into a world that I did not belong.  For that I will be eternally grateful. For those who kept trying to stuff me in their box for whatever the reason, I am still learning how to forgive.  It only led to a belief that "nobody would listen to me anyway", sound familiar??
  "I AM," have you ever thought about that? Honestly, I never had, not really.  When God says "I AM"  it is all encompassing. I say, "I am too weak, I am just so tired." God says, "I am strong. I am your strength.2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I say, I can't speak well." God says, "I AM speaking."Exodus 4:12 - Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say." I say, "Nobody will listen."God says, "I AM here, I hear you. 1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of himWhatever, you need is within the power of the Great "I AM." Try it, express a need and there is an answer in the "I AM;" I mean He did create all things and gives and supplies  all things. Do you know the Great I AM, can you hear his gentle, quiet whisper answer your need?? Or, are all you've ever known been doctrine and duty and they are so loud you have never heard a whisper. "In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness, You are there."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dear Younger Me,

Yesterday I drove past a few key places for me as I began life here after college.  If you know me, I'm always thinking, analyzing.  This can be good but as anything can also be a big downfall.  Also, if you know me at all you know I am fascinated with psychology and people; how they think, why they do what they do. So, yesterday I drove past the road of our first apartment, past the district office of the first school I taught in all on the way to visit a brain bleed survivor and his mom at the Rehabilitation hospital I went to after my own aneurysm.  What an emotional day.  And, if you know me I love those movies/stories where a ghost brings someone to their past and shows them a new perspective of what was going on or of what it could have been like without them.  Now, don't get all bent out of shape here.  I believe everything happens for a reason and it is as it should be. God uses us just where we are. But, the idea fascinates me.  I recently watched a movie on Netflix that I didn't particularly love but, there was one scene where the character picked up a phone and pretended to call his younger self and give him advice.  I loved it! So, here you go.....

Dear younger me, 
  I have rewritten this now several times.  Yup, You are still a bit of an over-achieving perfectionist who knows it won't ever be perfect.  Let it go (advice from your sister!) There is a whole song about it now, it's a thing so let it go!

Create healthy boundaries.  You have never been good at this.  Do it early and be honest with people when they overstep their boundaries.  Be nice and do it with tact, because that is who you are, but please listen to me, you bottle things up until the explode in your own head.  By then the damage is done and you are angry.  SO, even if your boundaries seem pretty obvious, set them anyway because what is obvious to you and everyone else you know may not be obvious to the people you are now around most often.  BOUNDARIES are your friends be kind when dealing with them.

Find something you are passionate about and do it even if it puts you a little behind.  Get that Masters in sign language!  Get your Masters Degree. Just get it done(ignore those who discourage you), you won't have five years to do it, but don't worry about that, it's going to be okay! PS- right now you are sweaty, shaky and finding it hard to breathe.  You are dizzy and feel the need to remove yourself from the room you are in.  People are talking, you have no idea what they are saying. It's called a panic attack, get help for them!!!

The older you get the more you will realize you don't always let people get to know you, what you are really thinking or doing.  At reunions your high school friends will have no idea what your husband is talking about.  When he jokes with them and lovingly asks why they never  warned him of some of these personality flaws they will honestly say they never knew, you hid it so well! Don't despair, your college roommates and friends will know you much better, so I'd consider that growth.

 Never take anything for granted and keep fighting the good fight!

PS- I am going to hit publish without revising, get over it younger teacher self.....hehehe

What is a Brain Injury anyway?

What is a Brain Injury Anyway?? By Li Sa renraW
Adapted from "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino

My best friend and I had plans to catch up over lunch. But that morning I woke up with “it”, you know it well, horrible brain fog. I knew it was not safe for me to operate a vehicle that day so I called her to see if she would pick me up. She happily agreed. Upon arriving at my house she found me just standing there staring at my purse. “Need help?,” she asked. “Ummmm, no just a few minutes.” She knew enough to be quiet and let me figure it out. I surrendered and grabbed my checklist for leaving the house. One by one I methodically followed my list. I was toward the end when I said, “Cell phone,” that's what I was looking for.” The hunt began. We located my phone. I only tripped a few times as my overloaded brain caused my weak left side to slightly drag my toe as I walked. She watched me now out of breath, not from being out of shape but from my brain being overloaded,. I fumble with my keys to lock the door because my left hand was balled up in a fist that refused to open despite the brace I wore. She drove silently to the restaurant and we found our usual seat, the quiet one in the corner away from the windows. I sat smiling, taking deep breaths enjoying time out with a friend who at the very least respected my limits. I could tell she had something on her mind. She finally asked, “may I ask you something that won't be easy to answer?” “Of course, ask anything!,” was my response. “Well, I know the symptoms of your injury and how you like me to deal with things like when to just be quiet. But, what is it really like living with a brain injury. What does it feel like to struggle so much?” That's when I remembered an analogy I had just read called “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino. I was going to try it out for myself. I grabbed all the spoons around me and handed her the spoon bouquet. She didn't even flinch, I was always doing odd things! I explained that these were all the spoons she had for one day. Everything she did would cost her a spoon because with a brain injury you had to think about everything, every step all day. She jumped right into her day and I began removing spoons for the simplest things. She began questioning me. I explained that she lost her executive function and had to relearn all the sequences of everything like a child. You don't do anything automatically, it has to be carefully thought about. When she needed to go downstairs she lost a spoon. This one she fought for. I had to explain that she struggled with balance. Alternating her feet while she stepped was no small task. I didn't even bother explaining that all this thinking would lead to a left hand now so tightly wrapped around the railing used for stability she would need to stop and pry it off before continuing. I told her she could skip going downstairs but she would just loose a spoon fixating on whatever it was she wanted down there in the first place. “What about taking a nap?Can I get a spoon back if I get some rest??” “I wish, taking a nap will mean you can hold onto the spoons you do have left. Skip resting and you might as well throw those spoons away now!” By the end of our imaginary day she knew from breakfast that skipping dinner was not an option, pills needed to be taken or you might as well give up your spoons for the rest of the week. So, she opted for an easy bowl of cereal, it worked. I didn't mention that she was probably too tired an nauseous to cook anyway! She stopped and looked at me with a tear in her eye, “You really have to do this every day?” “I don't have a choice. Some days I have more spoons than others but I can never make it simply go away, trust me I have tried.” I handed her one more spoon I had been holding onto.(hold up spoon in pocket**) “ I have learned to always have a spoon in reserve. One of the hardest lessons for me has been learning to slow down and learn I simply can't do everything, or the way I used to do it. I just wanted her to understand that all the little things that everyone does so easily are like a hundred little jobs in one for me.” What other people simply just do, I have to plan it like I'm strategizing the winning touchdown in the Superbowl. I knew I needed to turn this around and find something positive for her to take home. “Think of all the time, all the spoons people waste every day. I can't do that. I don't have the luxury of wasted spoons so when I choose to use one, it is meaningful. Today, I chose to use one to be with you!” some parts copied and adapted from “The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.

That is how I feel about volunteering. It is worth every single spoon I have chosen to use.

Thank you!

** Sweet story about the spoon I am holding up. Dear friends of mine asked me to be in their wedding. It was something I wouldn't miss being a part of for the world. But, to be full present I was going to have to limit the events I went to leading up to the ceremony. They graciously told me to do what I had to but I thought they need a better explanation than the one I gave them about cognitive fatigue and how even though it look and can fake being fine for short amounts if time there is always so much more going on than meets the eye. I sent them a copy of “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino. As a gift for being a part of their day I got an engraved spoon that said “Thank you for being our friend.” They understood the cost and gave me a spoon for my reserve as a memento.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

December tales

Every time I sign into Facebook it generically asks, "What's on your mind?" Usually I just ignore it figuring nobody really cares.  But in Early December I shared my thoughts on the Grinch, then wrote a blog post that I never published.  It went like this....

With the Christmas season approaching I have, in years past, been accused of being a bit of a Grinch about the whole thing.  I'm too tired to have any desire to decorate and decide where things go and disturb where my everyday things live.  Tasks like grocery shopping, that are already a struggle become infinitely more difficult.  People are stressed and busy and consumed with buying things.  And as the Grinch so honestly puts it, there is, "noise, noise, noise."But here is the thing I love about the Grinch, he has a change of heart.  He swallows his pride, returns what he intended to steal and changes his ways.  That's what I love about the introverted, misunderstood Grinch who has had too many of his boundaries crossed by others or perhaps in his immature youth failed to set healthy, honest boundaries with people. . Sure he may have overreacted a tad BUT.....he had a change of heart! 

So, this year I decided to have a change of heart; both for my sake and those around me. Hubby helped to simplify things by getting our families to agree we would only buy gifts for the kids.  He always helps with the decorating (because he knows it won't be done otherwise, it just costs too many spoons--> seriously check out this website!). I had survived to the last Christmas celebration and the one I'm most responsible for getting together.  My spoons were all used up and some borrowed from the next week.  It took all I had left to put on a smile and be merry! It takes a lot of brain cells to create a filter once it is lost (and never works perfectly, especially when you are tired and the noise just makes you feel like throwing up.) It ended in total disaster.  And there I stood feeling like a much less gracious Cindy Lou Who. 
For what was robbed wasn't material and couldn't be pushed back down a hill in a giant Grinch sled pulled by a dog with an antler tied to his head.  My precious little bit of energy was gone, vaporized. Oh how I longed to retreat up a hill and back to my unhealthy "Grinch cave" with wide clear boundaries. I wanted to set alarms lest anyone cross my boundaries again! Boundaries I failed to set so long ago.  But, Christmas came without it's usual cheer.   It came with heavy hearts and boundaries still unclear.  It came with the reminder of forgiveness both present and past. It came because Christ was born to live a perfect life and then die for my sins.  Christmas, my friends, came!

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Let's begin this post by asking for your prayers for the 15 year old daughter of friends who collapsed at school a week ago only to learn that she had a ruptured AVM.  Let me tell you how I know her family.  It was back in May when my neighbor and I were chatting about how the next day she would have a house full of girls getting ready for a big dance.  She was telling me that all the parents were going to come take pictures before the group left at her house.  We were discussing good backdrops for these pictures.  I offered/ begged her to use our beautiful rhododendron bushes (I also was excited to live vicariously through them.) When the group made their way to our yard and I excitedly bound out of my door to see all their dresses, etc. The couple closest to me introduced themselves and their youngest daughter. We ended up realizing we attend the same large church and promised to look for each other again.  The very next Sunday we did connect and since I was wearing my wrist brace on my curly left hand this time, we briefly spoke about my aneurysm; of course, then we had no idea how our lives would soon share a similar path.

This week has been full of lots of road blocks for Grace and her family, as is always the case in these situations. Grace is now awake, confused, scared, and asking questions, Praise the Lord.  If you know me you understand that this is going to be a long road for her as she moves forward and heals. Next week is her surgery to remove the rest of the AVM/AVF so it doesn't rupture again in the future.  It is a little different than my surgeries; please continue to lift her and her family in your prayers.  The surgery is on the 26th of September, which is Tuesday.

I haven't written in awhile because hubby has been working some crazy amount of hours this summer and has felt burned out which, of course, makes me burned out.  We decided some weeks ago to escape on a little overnight trip to VT right before peak leaf season.  The mountains were beautiful and it was nice to get away.  In light of all that is going on here I did not take for granted the fact that this time I was blessed to be the one to have life go on as "usual".  I remember being in the hospital thinking how "weird" it was that life was just going on for people out there.  They were going to work, getting groceries, letting their dogs out. They were not thinking about hourly neuro checks, MRIs, angiograms, vasospasms, blood pressure, etc., you get the point.  As we were away I still prayed without ceasing for Grace and her family.  We saw some interesting trees and this letter/post came to my mind.  It's not perfect, but here you go.....

Dear Grace,
  I know you woke up in an unfamiliar scary place.  You are in shock at what has happened to you, as are all those who love you.  Right now it all seems so very overwhelming and even at times hopeless.  If you are like me your mind has raced to the future wondering how your current situation fits into your hopes and dreams of what you wanted it to be.  While this event has taken us all by surprise, God is not surprised. He has known all along and has a plan far greater than your own.  This does not mean it is going to be easy, no my friend, it will take a whole lot of faith and yes, Grace! The trees we found on a recent trip to VT reminded me of the journey you are about to take.

Trees subjected to harsh conditions adapt by spreading their roots out deeper to ground them and keep them from blowing away in storms.
They don't grow as tall in stature as they put all their energy into sending out deeper roots.   As you cling to Christ, the solid rock on which you stand, you may not rise to be the tallest tree.  The struggles you face daily may keep you from soaring to the top in the world's view and may keep you in humble places with deep roots close to Him.
Other trees also overcame adversity in their own ways. Their trunks had become twisted as they fought to stand against fierce winds. But, they remained standing strong.
Twisted trunk but standing strong!

Comeback!! Between a rock and a hard place.
Some looked like they had given up, fallen down, but then made a comeback.  We even saw some thriving in very unusual places.
"Getting knocked down in life is a given.
Getting up and moving forward is a choice."- Zig Ziglar.
Not one person walked by them without stopping to admire their beauty, tenacity and resilience.  They held others up and gave them hope! Be the trees with strong roots holding to THE ROCK. The ones that overcame adversity with strength and dignity never giving up and becoming more beautiful because they chose to make the most of what they were given!

The trees around them seemed so ordinary and unremarkable, although each has its own story to tell, I'm sure!

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” -DP
Literally clinging to the rock!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"The leftover"and other terrible tales

*CONFESSION* this post  has been sitting for months as a draft while I decided if I would post it or not! Here you was meant to be shared!
So, I don't know exactly why I've been feeling so blue and down for months now. But, I'm going to tell you two stories about a few of my worst moments growing up.  Maybe somebody needs to hear them. Now, if you don't know me personally you need to know that I am/was a very shy, sensitive person who tends to be very critical of herself, insecure and sufffers from terrible self-esteem. I have never felt like I was particularly great at anything, I still struggle!

Here is a story about me, in 9th grade, on an Earth Science field trip to dig for Trilobites, Google it they are real (some ancient creature that left fossils about an hour and a half from where I grew up.)  It was field trip day and right before everyone got on the bus our teacher told us to find a partner for the day. Everyone quickly paired off. Everyone but me! There I was, the only unwanted leftover.  As we loaded on the bus people found seats with their partners. I had to sit in the front seat with one of the teachers....gag! Not even a nerdy girl wants to do that.  It didn't occur to the teachers with us (both male) to have pity on "the leftover" and simply allow one group of three to save my dignity. Nope, their solution was one of them would work with me. So, there I rode in the front seat, on the inside with a teacher. It felt like the ride of uncomfortable shame! I was mortified! When we got there everyone got to pick their location while I was forced to remain on the edge of the digging site so the teacher "working" with me could still keep an eye on the group. While others are digging and laughing, there I am on the outside chiseling away by myself. And no, I did not find one of those ancient sea bug fossils. Then we returned and if it wasn't for my homeroom pal, S, or my 10th grade lab partner and friend, N, I would have left high school with many more self imposed scars!

Now this next story still makes me cringe. And to be honest, I don't want to tell you all the exact details but I will.

Also, in high school we used to show horses in 4-H horse shows. This particular day it rained all morning, like poured.  The show ring was muddy especially along the rail where class after class wore a nice ditch for water to collect. Now my horse (okay, mule, there I was riding a mule) did not like getting her hooves wet. And mules, being smart and thinking for themselves, don't do anything they don't want to like walk in water when they can't see what lies beneath it. So, I was the only one in this particular class (shocking since it was a mule class,right?  I have no idea why my sister wasn't in it with me though.) Anyway, there I am going sideways around the ring as my very skeptical mount flared her nostrils and kept a good eye on the ring of water I wanted her to step in!  All I could think about was how my horse, back at the trailer, would have stepped in mud for me! Having no mercy, the judge made me reverse and go the other way. It made no difference to a mule, sideways we went the other way; walk, jog, lope all sideways.  Finally, I lined up in the middle completely humiliated thinking I'd just hold my head high and walk out of there with my ribbon.  What I did not expect to hear in a class with only me was, "In second place riding Candy, is Lisa..........." Now I'm mortified.  I get my ribbon and get out of there as fast as possible.  I didn't make eye contact with anyone and just hiked back to our horse trailer to hide!!!  I mean this was 4H, not a high class show, show a little mercy people.

So, now you know why recently when a friend noticed I wasn't at an event and seats were filling up, she saved me one and I was so touched by her kindness I almost cried! Okay, but I was also tired and tears usually follow that too! This event I was going to was a Brain Injury related one. It was "downtown" and I knew one place to park and the lot was full. I was directed to another one, which thankfully I knew about from numerous trips to the hospital, the only other route I know!! To make a long story shorter, that lot was full and I was directed to another. I wrote down the name of the street. The attendant instructed me to just follow the car ahead of me (Ummmm, OK it was already out of site and who knows if they were going there or not!) So, there I was making turns here and there guessing the direction I wanted to head.  I found myself on an undesirable street. The stories I heard about this street during my pharmacy days were all very bad!  I was sure a car hijacking was immanent! Naturally, I found a newer store parking lot to turn around in and stayed just long enough to type the address into my GPS. I have a terrible time following GPS but I was desperate!!! I did make it to my destination without hitting anything and only slightly rattled! I parked and made my way to the event.  And there in the front row was a seat saved for me, it made my day so thank you, AMT, you have no idea what that means to me!!! ! Take that "left over girl with a second place ribbon," maybe you aren't as forgotten and invisible as you sometimes feel!