Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Take the Leap!

I woke up a few days ago with the desire to write. It has been a long time since I have had the desire and it came as a shock. I think it means I am healing. Life has been quite stressful the last two years. First with Russ almost dying of cancer, (but thank God he is cancer free now), to my mom finding out she had cancer in January and passing away in June. This has been one roller coaster of a ride. The haunted one, not the thrill ride. So needless to say, I have been in survival mode for a while now. Not focusing on anything other than the basics of survival. It has not been fun but I can say that I have certainly grown stronger through it all and have learned a few things along the way.

One of the things that these circumstances have done has been to really reflect on my own life. What have I done with this one life that I have been given?  Have I contributed to this planet? Have I made a difference? Will I leave a legacy? Have I accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish? Have I truly lived and not just existed? Have I followed my dreams?

Now I know these are deep questions. But that is what death will do to you. It makes you look inward and really examine your life. I have to say that I am not ready to die! I still have so many things I want to accomplish in this lifetime. The one thing that I have accomplished has been my four amazing children. Growing up I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life except have a career, travel, and be a mother. Well, one out of three is great considering that my biggest accomplishment has been my children. Now that brings me to my other two desires. I realize that desires change with time and mine has changed a lot over the years. But the desire to travel has never gone away. In fact, it has only grown stronger the older I get and the more places I have been. As for the desire for a career, well now it is geared toward my own business and making it grow to fund the traveling.

I want to clarify that I do not regret the last 30 years of my life being a stay at home mom. I have truly loved being a wife and mother. It has been the biggest blessing and joy to raise my children and have the time that I have had with them. We are all very close as a result of homeschooling and being with them 24/7. I also had the time to be there for Russ last year when he needed me and be there for my mom when she needed me. So I know I have been blessed. The only negative that I will say is that somewhere along the way of being a wife and mother I have lost who I am. I have forgotten my dreams and desires and even the person that I am at my core because I was busy being the mom and wife that I thought I was supposed to be. The one that my community and society says I should be. Trying to fit into the mold of "good wife and mother". I read all the books and attended parenting classes. I went through all kinds of fads where food, religion, health, and schooling are concerned. All the while thinking I was doing the right thing but not feeling it in my soul. You see, I am not normal or typical. I do not think like most people think. I am not sure what that means but nothing really "felt" right even when I was doing it thinking it was the right way. Well I have learned that there is no "right way". There is no cookie cutter family or education, or diet, or even religion. There is no one size fits all in this world. We are each completely different and unique individuals with our own ideas and personalities and experiences. Just look at your children and you can see this so clearly. Not one of them is like the other. So this brings me back around to the questions that I had about my life.

What have I done with this one life that I have been given? Well, I have been married to my best friend for 31 years. I have raised and am still raising 4 amazing humans. I have tried to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, knowing I have failed at all of these at times. But there are still so many things I want to do.

Have I contributed to this planet? In a way yes. I added several humans that I have tried to instill an appreciation for the planet and a love for nature and the need to preserve and protect those that cannot protect themselves. No in that I have not done all that I can to recycle and protect our natural resources. Nor have I come up with a great idea to end world hunger or create world peace.

Have I made a difference? I would like to think I have made a difference in my family. But again, there is so much more I would love to do.

Will I leave a legacy? I would like to think I am leaving four.

Have I accomplished the things I want to accomplish? Not even close!

Have I truly lived and not just existed? Some times I have.  A lot of the times I have just gone through the motions. And then there have been several times that I lived strictly in survival mode.

Have I followed my dreams? No I have not. Not yet anyway. Not the ones that make me feel alive. The ones that keep me up at night because I am so excited about what I am doing that I just can't sleep. The dreams that make me get out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm and excitement instead of just going through the motions of another day.

But I can feel the winds turning. I can feel something brewing under the surface that is telling me that this is finally my time. It is time to take the leap. To stop stalling and making excuses. I am ready. I am ready to start moving forward in the direction of my dreams. Working diligently on my business that I have not had time for. The very business that is going to allow me to do what I know I was created to do. Help others and travel. That has been what I have been wanting for a long time and now is the time to move forward. I am really excited and can't wait to see what the next few months hold. I am ready to take the leap!

What about you? Is there something that you have been holding back on or keeping bottled up inside? Something that you have always wanted to do but didn't because of fear or lack of time or afraid of what others will think or say? Have you lost yourself while living a mediocre life? Well let me just say that life is short! Even if you live 100 years it is short. There is so much living to do that you don't need to waist any of it in fear, worry, or especially regret. Now is the time to ask yourself the questions I asked myself and see what you come up with. If you see that there are still things buried deep inside that you have put on the back burner. Well maybe it is time to bring them to the surface. Play around with the idea that maybe it is possible to change jobs, start a business, buy a house, have a kid, travel the world, take the dream vacation, get out the instrument and play or get out the paints and paint.  Whatever it is for you, at least entertain the thought that you can do it. Now I am not saying to do anything irrational and give up on your life or family to follow your dreams. Even though running far away has been tempting at times! lol But take the leap! Maybe taking the leap for you is just realizing you have let your dream get buried and you have to dig it back out. Maybe you know exactly what you want to do but you have been letting fear stop you. Maybe you can't jump off the cliff right now. But you can start somewhere. You can do something to move you closer to your goals. So start with a baby step. Sometimes that is all you have to do to get the ball rolling. Just take that first step and see what doors open up for you.

I would love to hear the answers to your questions or at least what your biggest desire is that you have been holding back on. You can leave a comment below or message me on FB. I would love to encourage you on your personal journey.

Life is an adventure!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Lessons Learned From Being a Mom: Part 2 / Brandon

Brandon, my first born, the one that made me a mom 30 years ago. Wow, time flies. I can not even begin to write all of the lessons I have learned from being this boys mom. It would be a huge book. Anyone that knows us knows that Brandon has Autistic Spectrum disorder and a seizure disorder. This all started when he was 2 and that began a long series of doctors and testing and many types of frustrations when they couldn't find what was causing the seizures and couldn't control them. We tried anything and everything that was suggested usually with terrible side effects. That went on for 10 years. We finally found a doctor that put him on two different seizure medicines that stopped his seizures. He is still on those today and is seizure free. I said all of that as a little background for the lessons learned.

The first lesson I learned that was really eye opening to me was that doctors do not have all of the answers. Which led to learning that most people in authority do not have all of the answers. I was an ignorant kid when all of this started and I grew up listening to those in authority like my parents, teachers, preachers, doctors, government, etc. It never dawned on me that they did not always know what they were talking about. Or that they didn't have all of the answers. I don't believe anyone deliberately lied to me, except maybe the government. I believe they were talking from what they knew and where taught and their opinion of the subject. But it was ultimately up to me to do my own study and research to learn all I could and work with that. I had to become my child's advocate because I was the one that had his best interest in mind. Like I said, I was a shy, young, ignorant person when I had Brandon and I had to grow a backbone. It took me years and lots of trial and error to realize that it was up to me to do what was best for my child and to learn to listen to my gut feeling more than those in authority.

The next lesson I learned was there were alternative methods of healing and health. There is a time and place for doctors. They have helped us all in many different ways and I am very grateful for them. But there is also much benefit from learning prevention and natural cures as well. Now, our first reaction is to use natural means for whatever ails us and then if I can't fix it at home, then we seek medical attention. With the exception of Brandon going to the doctor for his annual check up for his medicine and Russ going to the cancer doctors, we never have to go to the doctor for normal sicknesses. I can not tell you how important living a healthy lifestyle is. Prevention is far superior to treatment in any circumstance. We do not live perfectly but we do the best we can with the resources we have. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They truly build up, repair, and heal the body. I am not going to go into detail here about all of the natural things we do but if you want more info, leave a comment below and I will answer any questions that I can.

Lesson three would be that not all children are created equal. They are each unique and beautiful in their own way and you can not compare your child to any other child. Even your other children. I have four completely different human beings. What works for one with discipline or anything for that matter doesn't work for the other. Sometimes your child doesn't fit into any of the boxes so you are on your own. This is where following your gut comes in handy. Remember, this is your child and your family and you have to do what is best for your family no matter what others may think or say. It will not look exactly like any other family. Your family is completely unique so enjoy yourselves in your uniqueness without trying to fit into someone else's box. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Just be the best you can be.

The last lesson I am going to mention here is that we will never be perfect and we will come to the end of our rope. There will be times that we don't like our children. We always love them fiercely, but we do not always like them. They can push buttons you didn't even know you had. And they push them until you think you are going to literally go insane. But then they turn right around and do something so sweet that you forget all about going crazy and you can focus on life again. The main thing to remember is you are not alone. You are not a bad mom. You are human and as humans, we can only take so much stress before we hit a wall. That is when you need to take a time out. I know how ridiculous that sounds when you have small children or a handicapped child but maybe just lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes until you can face them without wanting to lash out. Maybe take a bottle of wine with you. Hey, don't judge the crazy lady in the bathroom mumbling to herself with a bottle of wine. We have been through some very dark days when Brandon would not sleep for what seemed like days or he would have seizures for days in a row and I would sleep on the couch with my legs blocking him from getting up so he wouldn't have a seizure while standing. Or when his behavior would be so bad we thought he was possessed by the devil himself. That was caused from drug side effects. This is just a small picture of what life was life back then. It was so scary and so exhausting so many times with no relief. But those times did pass and we all survived. So just know that this phase of life is so temporary even though it doesn't feel like it at the time. And one more lesson to throw in here is DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS! You do not know what kind of day they are having or what they are going through. When you see a parent in the store with the toddler throwing a temper tantrum or in our case, a 12 year old toddler throwing a temper tantrum, don't judge the parent or the child. Give them a word of encouragement instead and let them know that this too shall pass.

I hope these lessons will help you in your parenting and life journey. Just remember that we are all just human and we can only be who we are and be the best we can be without trying to be like someone else.

Life is a colorful adventure!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mom Series: Lessons I learned from being a mom. Part 1

I have been a mom for over 30 years. It's unfathomable but true. I started way too young. Not by choice but things happen. While I do not, nor never have regretted being a mother, I would have liked to have had time on my own to travel and learn about myself first. But life has a way of throwing curve balls and forces you to learn on the fly. The only thing I knew for certain when I was young was that I wanted to be a mother. I saw myself as a business woman also but had no goal other than go to college, get a job, and be a mom. What happened instead was I ended up a SAHM for the past 30 years. Although I do have my own business now but only for the last few years.

I have four beautiful children that have truly been the biggest blessings in my life. Brandon 30, Michelle 27, Isaac 15, and Cade 12.

That is just a little background on becoming a mom. The lessons I have learned along the way have been more than I can write about. But some things have changed me at my core. They have changed the way I see the world. The way I view the big issues like education and religion and health to smaller issues but maybe more important like learning to enjoy each day no matter what challenges may arise. Stopping to watch a bug or butterfly. Smelling flowers. Playing. Watching a sunset. Blowing dandelions and making a wish. I will even do that now when the kids are not around. It is going to be fun to do it again with my granddaughter. Seeing the wonder in the world and seeing the world through new eyes is such a blessing and a gift if we will accept it. Getting that sense of awe and wonder over things we as busy adults tend to ignore. But a lot of times as busy moms, we try to rush our kids and make them move at our pace and miss the wonder that is all around us. The emotions I have felt have been more intense than I ever felt for myself. Love, joy, anger, sadness, happiness, sorrow, excitement just to name a few. I feel these when my kids feel them or when someone directs them at my kids. Something happens when you become a mother that you can't explain. A deep sense of love and protection goes to someone outside of yourself. It is not just about you anymore. Suddenly, there is someone else who's life depends on you. Until one day, it doesn't. Then you have to deal with that set of emotions.

One of the first things we do as young moms is learn all we can and listen to our moms and the doctors and the specialists. We try to do the right thing so we do not "mess up" our children. But something happens early on that causes us to stop and think, "why does this not work for us?" "Is there something wrong with my child, my family, or me?" As much as I tried to do what was expected of me and fit into the box, the more I realized it wasn't for me. It might have worked for my mother or for other families but it wasn't working on ours. This was not something that happened overnight. It was years in the making. Years of trying to do things "right". To be a "good" mother, wife, daughter, friend, homeschool mom, whatever. No matter how hard I tried, I just didn't live up to everyone's expectations. Or a least what I thought were everyone's expectations. After years of feeling like a failure I finally had to come to the realization that my family would never be what the world considered "normal" and that was ok. We, as a family were creating our own normal. I could only be the best mom and wife that I could be for my family and stop looking at and comparing myself to other families. It was just never going to look the same. I used to think that we were so different because we had a special needs child or because we homeschooled, or that my husband had his own business and was a musician.  But I soon learned that most moms felt like I did. Inadequate. Not living up to societies norms or your religions or families expectations. This was such an eye opener for me. That so many women could feel like I did. It was really sad to know that so many of us felt like we could never live up. But it taught me a serious lesson. Stop comparing myself to others and stop trying to live up to someone else's expectations. I could only do the best I could do in my situation. Nothing more. I had to learn to stop looking out there for my validation and look within instead. I could only change myself, not society. Not my husband. Not even my children. I had to learn to accept each one of them as they were and not what I expected them to be. And I had to learn to accept myself as I was. That was another huge lesson for me and a huge step in the right direction.

I have quite a lot more to say on the lessons I have learned. I will be writing more in the near future so stay tuned. I am writing this candid confession with the hopes that it will help some other women to lighten up and learn to be just who you are. Accept the family that you have just as they are. Forgive those that judge you. They do not know what you are going through. Forgive yourself if you have been too hard on yourself and on your family for trying to be who you are not. You are perfect just as you are. That doesn't mean we do not strive for excellence. It only means be the best you, you can be.

Peace and love,

Monday, January 1, 2018

Good Riddance 2017!

I am not one to enjoy seeing one year end and another year begin because I think time flies and would love for it to slow down a little, but, this is one year that I am glad to get behind me. I can honestly say that this was the worst year of my life. And Russ will agree. We describe it as the year we walked through Hell, stared death in the face, and lived to walk out the other side. I am very grateful to be moving into a brand new year.

With that being said, I just want to say that we are so very blessed! Even among the hardships of 2017, there were blessings sprinkled all throughout that made the Hell bearable. God has shown us what His love looks like through people. Relationships healed and real friendships shining through the dark. You really learn what is important and just how precious friends and family really are. Russ and I got to spend the first three weeks of 2017 in Mexico. And even though it was for treatments, we got to spend every afternoon and evening together in a beautiful hotel right on the Caribbean Ocean. We had the privilege of bringing our boys to Mexico in April to experience a different culture. Something I always wanted to do. I look forward to experiencing many other cultures with them. Russ is alive and healing after too many close calls. And the sweetest blessing is the birth of our first grandchild, Briar Lauren. She has brought more joy into our lives than I thought possible in the face of such suffering. The fact that Russ is still with us and is on his way to recovering is our biggest blessing of 2017. 

Now to put the past behind us and look forward to what lies ahead. I am going into 2018 with a brand new beginning. I have big plans for this year. It is a year of restoration and renewal. Last year was a year of survival. 2018 is a year of blessings and abundance and excellent health. My focus right now is on our overall health. I neglected my healthy habits of eating and exercise and stress management because we were living in survival mode. But that is over and now for restoration. 

I am also focusing on my business which I had to put on hold last year. I love helping people live a healthier lifestyle and see the positive changes in their life. My business is my joy and passion. I look forward to what is in store this year. It looks like it is starting off strong. I just started a local healthy living support group, "A New You", on Facebook and have several people added already. I am starting a 10 day detox on January 2nd with several people joining me in that as well.

If I could encourage you in anything this year it is to look for the good. Smile even if you don't feel like it. Be kind and forgiving to everyone. Remember, you have no idea what they are going through or what they have been through. And have fun! Life is short, enjoy the time you have.

Here's to a healthy, wonderful, blessed, abundant 2018!

A few snapshots of 2017:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Road to Recovery

Well, the treatments are over! Russ had his last radiation on Tuesday, October 10th. He has to have a pt scan in three months to make sure the tumor is gone and all is well. Until then, he has to start the long road to recovery.

I just want to take a moment to brag on my husband. The last year has been long and difficult for him. There were many times that we didn't know if he was going to live through the night. Things were not looking good. I thought that he was ready to just move on to the next life. But something inside him just would not let him give up. It wasn't his time. So on he fought. He overcame many obstacles and defied the odds. He has amazed his doctors and his family. Russ has been through things that most would find impossible. Most of the time he did this with grace and faith and determination. There have been a few times when he would get down or just want to give up but they were short lived. A lot of times an encouraging card or text would come at just the right moment to lift him up and give him the courage to keep going. We thank you from the bottom of our heart to everyone that sent those encouraging words!

If you ever get someone on your mind, even if you don't know they are going through anything, never hesitate to send a love note to someone. You never know the impact it will have.

So that is all for now. I will be posting some other things in the near future that have been on my mind lately. Until then, don't forget to enjoy the people in your life. You never know how much time you have with them. That is not supposed to be morbid, just a reminder to enjoy every day like it's your last. Then tomorrow, do it again!

Life is a colorful adventure,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An Overdue Update on Russ

I have been wanting to write an update for a while now but the timing hasn't been right. Russ is nearing the end of his treatments. He had his last chemo treatment last Wednesday and he will have his last radiation treatment on next Tuesday, October 10th. This has been anything but an easy road. The treatments have been harsh and have made Russ feel really bad. Like I have said before, we would not wish this on our worst enemy, (if we had enemies). Yesterday, Russ started showing signs of pneumonia. Pray that this passes quickly.

The good news is the tumor has shrunk considerably and has broken apart. The tumor will continue to die several months after treatment has ended. We are still believing that in the end, Russ will be cancer free. Through all of this, the doctors continue to be amazed at how well Russ is doing and at his lab results. His body and organs and immune system have remained in great health despite the treatments. I have no doubt that it is because of the healthy supplements we have been taking throughout this ordeal. There are some things Russ will stop taking when this is over and other things we will take for the rest of our lives. We want to prevent this from happening again in our family.

The season of treatments has almost come to an end. Next comes the season of recovery. Russ has lost all of his body fat and muscle mass. He will have to build up his muscle mass and strength. He will also have to have therapy to get his throat and swallowing working again. It will not be fast or easy. But we see light at the end of the tunnel.

It is like we have been in a long, dark winter that lasted way longer than it should. It is not over yet but we are beginning to see the early signs of spring. We are looking forward to warmer, sunnier days ahead.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Update on Russ

I realize that a lot of people have been wondering how things are going with Russ. It has been quite a year. If you want to know the full story from the beginning of Russ' diagnosis with throat cancer, you can read the post, "Our life with cancer/ past and present". So this update is for this year.

In January, we went to a clinic in Mexico called "Hope for Cancer". Russ seemed to do well while we where there and it seemed that the tumor slowed it's growth. He felt better as a result of all of the therapies they did. However, it was not enough. The tumor did not die and is still growing. Slowly, but still growing. It has really interrupted his ability to eat, swallow and open his mouth. He has been on mostly a liquid diet all year. I have been making him meal replacement shakes. This summer, it became almost impossible for him to swallow and get enough nutrition and water. He ended up severely dehydrated and malnourished. His heart went into atrial fibrillation on Wednesday July 26th. He ended up in the hospital for 3 days. On Thursday the 27th, he had a stomach peg put in so he can get enough water and nutrition.

All of that leads us to the present. Russ has decided to go a more traditional route to kill this cancer for good. We have succeeded in preventing the cancer from spreading and boosting his immune system which has kept all of his organs in great shape. Until he became dehydrated and his heart decided to act up. Anyway, we got that under control and we will continue to pump all of the healthy stuff in him that his body is used to and that will aid him during this next course of treatment. Russ had his first round of chemo on Monday of this week. He will have another round in three weeks, then one more after that. He will start radiation treatments next Monday the 21st. He will get 7 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. We are confident that this is going to put this cancer behind us once and for all.

I have said in a previous post that I would not change what we have done. All of the decisions we have made were the ones we thought were right at that time. I do wish we would have done the stomach peg sooner to prevent too much weight loss but you can not go back. Only forward. If we did not go to Mexico when we did, we would not have met all of the wonderful people from all over the world that we did. I wish them nothing but the best on their healing journeys.

I will close with this. I can not stress enough the importance of prevention. This has not been an easy road for Russ or the family. I would never wish this on anyone. I will be writing another post soon on how to prevent cancer to the best of your ability. It might not be what you think either. I have learned a lot on this journey and I am sure there is still more to learn. But that is what life is about, the learning as you go. So until then, may your adventures be much more fun than ours has been lately. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will be rejoicing when this is all behind us.