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!!

A Letter To My Daughters

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blogDear Girls,

As we begin another school year, I want to take this opportunity to impart some advice, thank you both, and surround you with love. This is another big year, for both of you, in so many ways. The future awaits you and is ready for the dreams, skills, talents, and plans you will bring to it. May you never lose your desire to learn. There is so much out there and so much to be discovered, read, and shared. Follow your dreams and never let another discourage, belittle, or alter those dreams. You are in the driver’s seat. Your future awaits! It is okay for you to change the dream a bit or to come up with a completely new one. As long as YOU are the one who decides. Explore your interests! Join a club or two. It is alright if your friends do not join the same clubs. Varied interests can keep a friendship fresh and renewed.

Take time to be silly or to have a really good belly laugh! It clears the “cobwebs” in the mind and helps with a fresh perspective. Find your own path but know that those that love and support you will be there along the way. Remember to reach out and grab onto one of them periodically. We become stronger when we reach out to others. It is better to do that than to become overwhelmed and frustrated. When you make decisions, that effect your future, be sure to do them after careful consideration and consultation. Never make a decision based solely on what someone else thinks or feels. You will only let yourself down if you do that.

We have always used the expression, “Be true to who you are” in our house and this quote sums up the central beliefs that this letter sprang out of today. If you both stay strong and positive and grow from each learning experience, there will be no stopping the goals you both hope to accomplish.

Thank you for all you continue to teach me. I love you both and I am incredibly proud of all that you have accomplished thus far.

The best is yet to come! I am so excited to see what the future holds for you, my lovely daughters!

Love,

Mom

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!

What Happens When We Do Not Assign Labels?

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I have been reflecting on the idea of assigning labels and putting everything, including people, under a specific label umbrella if you will. In another entry, some time ago, I touched upon this topic but I would like to revisit it again and expand upon it a bit.

I recently, within the last 5 weeks, became part of a group of women who encourage and support one another when it comes to fitness goals, nutrition, and motivation. We believe in one another and build one another up. No questions asked. It is simply one of the philosophies of the group. How inspiring is that? The woman whose “dream child” this is, is a childhood friend and, in fact, our mothers have been best friends for over 60 years. This new group serves as a source of encouragement and these new found friends serve as a wonderful support system. I have tried 3 new types of exercise classes and participated in 2 exercise challenges. Not bad for someone who was never labeled and “athlete” or a “gym rat.!” I did not feel intimidated, without these labels, only empowered as I tried new things and succeeded.

Just think if children did not impose labels upon one another. Would they be more accepting of one another? How about labels such as “meek”, “shy”, or “reserved?” An individual who is of this nature should be valued and and not penalized. I am speaking from personal experience and I have seen it in action. Everyone has gifts and talents. It is time to let them shine! As an educator, I have seen students thrive when they know they are not constrained by labels in regards to intelligence or talent. The student who is good at sports can also be good at art or the more reserved student can deliver an empowered speech in favor of the music program at a school board meeting.

This idea of no labeling can be applied to all areas of life. When people do mislabeling it is simply a matter of over generalization

We need to rid labeling as a practice. Who knows it may just put a smile on someone’s face when they feel encouraged. What a great thing!