Holding On To Hope

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I like to consider myself a stronger and ¬†more confident person as a result of the challenges life has dealt our family in recent years. I have learned lessons along the way and I know that you have to be an advocate, in times of challenge, for either yourself or those that need a voice. In the past, I would have said, “I don’t want to bring attention to anything” or “Why make waves?” That is no longer the case. I will fight for what is right and in terms of my daughter’s shoulder issues, I will keep pressing for answers whether it be a new form of physical therapy, a different specialist, or something academic related. I often wish I could help other families, as an advocate, in educational and medical matters. I know what we have gone through,and what we continue to go through, as a family. To have someone be a guide in the abyss of the medical and surgical world would have been a godsend.

I could use an advocate, right now,who has connections to every shoulder guru there is to be seen. How is it that this case is so original? We are seeing a top doctor now who also treats pro athletes but even he is perplexed as to why the shoulder is not maintaining stability. We are now about 3 1/2 years into this nightmare yet outsiders look at her and would never know her pain level or her daily struggles. Kelly will not crack, as she plows through this, and has excelled academically in her first full year back in 3 years right along with her twin sister. They are a great team!

For now, I pray, research, and continue to try to grow as a person. I need to be the best version of me–a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an advocate, a friend, and an educator. If I don’t, I am helping no one and I am not serving as a good role model for my girls.

Please remember, in your daily encounters, that everyone is struggling or going through something. Sometimes it is a visible struggle but often it is the invisible pain and struggles that can be the heaviest to carry. Always remember to be patient, kind, and to see the good everywhere. You could be the “light” in someone’s dark and cloudy day.

Keep on hoping! I know I will!!

Ten Things I Like About Fall

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As the Summer season starts to fade away and Fall eases into place very soon, it is time now to be reflective and think about what I love about the season we are approaching. With that being said, here are my top 10 Fall likes.

1) Leaves changing colors.

2) Soup Time-I love so many types but my favorite is definitely potato soup.

3) Hot chocolate and hot tea. I have both year round but more often, naturally, as the weather changes.

4) My wedding anniversary. We were married in October because I love this time of year so much.

5) Fall festivals and pumpkin picking. A great time to gather friends and family and head off to one on a beautiful weekend. Age is not a factor.

6) Blankets and curling up with a good book on a chilly day.

7) Baking-I am not a big baker but I love to whip up breads or cookies at this time. My goal is to attempt some baking with apples this year. Any great recipes to recommend?

8) Winery trip/tour-I love the landscape that wineries provide. Such beauty in simple settings. You can be educated on varieties of wine and the production process. A picnic lunch at one of them tops off the day with family and friends.

9) Crafting-My need to do so kicks into high gear. Homemade Christmas gifts are on tap this year.

10) Thanksgiving-The feeling of being grateful for all of the blessings in my life. My children have also expressed to me how this is a favorite holiday because of the emphasis on family.

I am interested in knowing do you have any great fall recipes to share? Soups, breads, or cookies? Also, what would be on your top 10 Fall likes?

Feel free to comment.

Best Laid Plans-Ha Ha!!

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What was to be the weekend I got caught up on things (Ha-Ha), take a new exercise class, and meet up with a friend due to my family being away, turned into a weekend with my daughter who had strep throat. By the way, where did that come from? This is August not January! Now of course you never want your children to be sick but Saturday and Sunday turned into a great bonding experience. We truly turned this into a living in the moment exercise.

For example, we discovered Lucy and Desi episodes running, consecutively, all weekend. A win-win for us since we love the series from start to finish! In addition, dinner both nights was relatively healthy still and involved minimal effort. Yay-me! Healthy summer fruit was a side dish on¬†both nights. Of course, Saturday night was a “cheat” night since we found a flavor of ice cream that my daughter has been wanting to try for quite some time.¬†Jimmy Fallon’s-The Tonight Dough by Benn and Jerry. Now that she has tried it, she loves it! Our afternoon break, from Lucy and Desi, consisted of watching daily videos from favorite British You Tubers. Love keeping up on the vlogs.

Sunday brought a better feeling daughter and breakfast outside in our side yard. The bonding and viewing continued. Despite all of the television viewing, I was able to finish a book in one weekend. That is a luxury!! The day was finished off with favorite snacks and beverages to help a sore throat.

It is interesting to see, when you do not have a choice, how truly present in the moment you can become along with being aware of every detail in your surroundings. It was a gift in disguise!  I can always take a class another day. Time with my daughter was priceless!

The “And” Story

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I recently came across a campaign launched, several months ago, by a cosmetic company. The central message is that today’s girls and women have more than one side to them and that is what makes them unique as individuals. There is no need to choose sides to define who you are! It is ok to have antonyms¬† describe you. For example, shy and bold, cautious and goal setter, raw and refined. It is even permissible to have 2 polar opposite concepts. An example would include polished nails and a polished mind. Today’s girls need this message. How often do we see girls stopping a hobby, or losing interest in something, as they get older because it is not a girl thing to do? Perhaps, girls would hold onto these early hobbies, or venture into other new territories, knowing this is not the only way to define themselves.

The same holds true as we get older. Many choose to label themselves with one title which, in most cases, is an occupation. If that is the correct way we are doing such an injustice. Choosing to write your “and” story is such a great reflection tool. You will learn so much about yourself and since you are not constrained by one title, it will feel joyful and satisfying as well. It is as if the clock, in a timed exam room, is absent and you have as long as you want? Who knew the word “and”, along with the symbol, had so much power? We are strong women of the 21st century. Embrace your own “and” story and shine like you should.

Recognizing we each have and “and” story is similar to the idea of a quilt being made up of various squares. If we only hold a single loose square, we do not have the entire beauty, joy, and warmth of the quilt. A single label, again, does not define us. The “and” story could be the greatest story you have ever written and¬†read. Your “and” story could encourage and provide support to others. Never underestimate the power within you.

My “and” story includes many titles that I am proud of in my life. Alone they do not define me, but listed together they provide a more accurate picture of ME! Loving and caring wife, mother, daughter,sister, and friend. Loyal and protective. It would also include avid reader, writer, blogger, and life long learner. Finally my “and” story would have health conscious motivator and dedicated educator.

Please reflect on your own “and” story and the power it holds. Do not hesitate to be proud of it and share with others. When you do, the benefits cannot be measured. They are numerous AND beautiful.

Feel free to share your “and” story in the comments.

Turning Points-Catalysts For Change

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Back in May I decided that it was time to put some focus on me. It sounds selfish but the root of it is for my family. I wanted to work on me physically, spiritually, and hopefully develop a more positive outlook. This blog was one piece of it and it is a work in progress, although progress can be a bit slow.

I want to encourage others to think about what is their “catalyst for change” and hopefully use this as a spring board for change. It is so important to not let these events keep you stagnant or let them define you as a person.

Confession time: I have been guilty of both becoming stagnant and of letting these events define me over the course of the last 3 years. This time of year has been difficult because 3 years ago my life was shaken to the core. My husband, at the age of 46, had a stroke. I still have trouble verbalizing that fact. It felt like the floor had collapsed below me. During that time I could not or would not process the event and diagnosis. What we thought was simple dehydration, from working outside all day, had turned into the unfathomable. Thankfully, he was not left with any lasting effects. We did however find out he is a diabetic and he was finally able to immediately quit smoking.

Within months of this event one of our daughters, as I have written about, became injured. This in turn ended her softball playing days and she had to endure 3 surgeries and countless physical therapy appointments in less than a year and a half. Most recently, this past winter, she successfully stumped her team as to why things were not stable. I am happy to say that there has been some progress in that area and we are cautiously optimistic.

Fast forward to this Spring when it felt like I was finally able to let out a sigh of relief, dust myself off, and begin to develop the new me. I jumped back into hobbies I had previously loved and I began to venture into becoming healthier and more fit. By making this decision, I am exploring many new possibilities and even taking new exercise classes. As a result, I hope to encourage my own children to develop themselves and always explore new possibilities. I was also fortunate to reconnect with an old friend who has formed a wonderful group of women, with similar interests, who are encouraging one another in the areas of exercise and nutrition. This would not have been possible if I didn’t decide to be open to change and let that “catalyst” move me in the right direction.

The future is looking bright!

Cautiously Optimistic

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blogpostIt has been almost 4 months since my last entry. I did not anticipate not writing for this long of a time. I felt I needed to be in the right mindset before putting pen to paper again. (Yes, it is old fashioned but I start off all writing pieces in this manner)

When I started this blog 2 plus years ago, I did so as a part of my mission/pan to be more optimistic and to express my thoughts as a mom,wife, and teacher. I have learned a lot about myself and I felt that I would not be true to myself if I wrote again before it was the right time.

Don’t get me wrong, to say I am blessed is an understatement. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and good health but life has a way of handing us curve balls. We either make contact with them and deal with it or we strike out and head bake to the dug out. My friends, I have been in the dug out. Too many curve balls for this girl!

As you know, my one daughter has had 3 surgeries so far, on her shoulder, in a short amount of time. We thought we were in the clear by Christmas but then it fell out again for no reason at all. **Curve ball #1

Despite various tests and visits to her doctor, no determination of cause could be made. We were told to seek 2nd opinions and a plan would be put into place by a specific date. **Curve ball #2

The date came and went and no plan was made and no 2 doctors had the same opinion. Her original doctor, in a sense, stated he had no idea what to do next and for us to keep looking. My reaction?? Wait!! Are we now on our own to solve this?? I, of course, only thought this but did not express it aloud. **Curve ball #3

Through my own efforts, a specialized doctor and team were found and they provided us with hope. This is where “cautiously optimistic” comes into play. Based on what was previously written regarding curve balls, my belief in things turning out well has become a bit tarnished. I so want to jump full force into positivity, with this new development, but I am trying to “get my feet wet” as a start.

So much lies ahead. We have been at this for a month now and while there has been progress, there has also been puzzling situations, questions being raised, and a whole lot of trial and error as far as treatment of the shoulder goes for my daughter.

I know that I am a different person after being at this for 2 plus years but I often look to my daughters at their strength and focus. Both of them believe in full force optimism.

I am thankful for those around me that make up a supportive force: Family, Close Friends, Caring Coworkers, Dedicated/Caring Teachers who are a part of my daughters education these last 2 years, and of course my Faith.

One step at a time, one breath at a time, one goal at a time! I continue to learn more about myself and what I am capable of in the future. Great things await if I simply trust and believe and have a bit of positivity! Up next, training for a run? Stay tuned and stay positive!!