Picture Perfect (Or Is It?)

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I present 2 pictures of a current project I am working on right now. I chose these 2 pictures because they help to illustrate something I feel strongly about and that is that everyone has a story. To judge someone, without all of the details,is just unkind. We cannot form an opinion based on only one side or the side that each person presents to society. Our lives, I believe, resemble the back of the piece in the 2nd picture. The side that is full of tangles, knots, and threads of different colors. The unfinished side. Sometimes one of these knotted threads even comes undone from too much tugging or not enough tightening.

I started this blog, 2 years ago, to document my journey as a wife and mother who is trying to be more optimistic as we navigated the medical journey of one of our daughters. Our daughter, despite 3 surgeries to her shoulder/scapula, continues to require physical therapy. Any doctor, we have seen, has gotten to a point where they have thrown up their hands and the one constant is her physical therapy doctor. He continues his valiant efforts and for this we are most grateful. Our daughter continues to be determined, courageous, and a bit stubborn. The latter is what has carried her through along this journey. Both she and her twin sister have earned spots in the National Honor Society and are talking colleges. A new journey will begin in 2 years.

However, since her injury, both she along with my husband and I continue to be advocates in this journey of hers. It, unfortunately, never goes away as she needs to present “her story” to a new set of teachers each year. What they see, at first glance, is like the first picture above. It is so important for them to understand the back story or second picture. This will help, this new set of teachers, to understand who she is and what led her to this point. All of this crucial for a successful year.

No one should ever be told there are worst cases than their case because only a few know the whole story and see the whole picture.  What a person may be going through could be the hardest thing in the world for THEM. Everyone deserves love and support. Please take the time to listen, learn, and be supportive of others. It goes a long way!

Stop! I Am Not Ready! Seriously!

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This is the time of year where I start to feel sad and a bit sentimental.

It was just a short time ago when school let out for us. Plans were made and the days seemed endless. Summer has always been my brief time to be a stay at home Mom and enjoy my twin daughters. I am not one who cannot wait for her daughters to return to school in September. I love spending time with them, chatting with them, and simply listening to them as they make plans for their future. (Although each time a piece of mail comes from a college any distance away, I cringe!) We have  enjoyed our months off and I wouldn’t change a thing! I am not naive. I know things won’t always be this way and I have tried to soak in every precious moment through all of my senses.

Yet…You  cannot put off the inevitable so I was even brave enough (Ha-Ha!) to tackle the annual trip to Target and Staples for school supplies yesterday. For as much as I need Summer to last another month, I have daughters who LOVE school and learning. They are ready to move on in many ways. Me? Not so much to be honest! They are moving into a new school year but also moving a few steps closer down the pathways that will lead them to each of their life’s purposes. Their mother, on the other hand, is watching from a distance with a few tears. I may not have accomplished all I wanted to get done this Summer, but I was fortunate enough to spend it with 2 of the greatest people know! I get to call them my daughters!

Thank you for a wonderful Summer lovely daughters,

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Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

Summer is 1 week away and I am ending another school year. That also means our daughters are too! We just attended an honors program and the second year of high school is almost in the books. With that has come talks, schedules for the next 2 years, plans for the future, proms, banquets, college tours, and possible majors. Along with the usual dilemmas comes dilemmas specific to multiples. Do we stay together and go to the same college or is it time to break up the team? Hard to imagine the latter and when I do, it tugs at my heart strings and I start to feel very sad. Yes, I am sentimental. I can’t help it. Why didn’t anyone tell me that with these proud milestones would come a bit of heartache?

” Don’t Blink” is a country song which has the lyrics trace the many stages of a child growing up and it is so true. My optimistic side  has me feeling proud, at the moment, yet I’m in utter disbelief that we are at this point. Didn’t we just drop them off at Kindergarten? My favorite piece of advice, to the girls has always been “stay true to who you are.” It encompasses a lot and has stood the test of time. I love watching them grow into the wonderful people they were meant to be in this world. Why didn’t anyone tell me that the time truly would go quickly? I remember it not seeming that way in the diaper and sleepless nights stage. That now seems like a lifetime ago.

I struggle with this new stage and the challenges presented. It is requiring me to do some redefining of my own in terms of my roles. The positive spin is that change is good and leads to growth. New interests can be formed and old ones dusted off and brought back to the forefront. I am moving into this new territory slowly. It is inevitable, I realize, so why fight it? Tell that to my heart! Why didn’t anyone tell me that what I am feeling, inside now, is 100x worse than the first day of kindergarten?

525,600 minutes. The show Rent points out the importance of this amount in our lives. Time passes and it is up to us to take advantage of every moment and opportunity. In the same line of thinking is the fact that there are 780 days in high school. I hope our children measure their success in many different forms and always strive to help others. I love that they are conscious of the need to reach out and I hope they never lose it. Why didn’t anyone tell me that, with each milestone/achievement, it can feel like a step into the future for our children without us?  Wait…. How did this happen?

Why didn’t anyone tell me that this hurts? Now I remember… my parents did but I was the child and not the parent then. My how things have changed. I will change with them but I’m not 100% ready and I’m not 100% ok with it and I own that. It is who I am!

Journey To A Healthier Version Of Me

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I have recommitted to being a more fit version of me these last 2 months. I am working out with friends, using the outdoors as my gym, and exercising at home on my own as well. I even signed up to do 100 miles of walking/jogging, in the month of May, to raise funds for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

All of this has helped me come to some realizations or “Ahh-Ha” moments.

#1-I like the way I feel after exercising. This happens despite the fact that I
may go kicking or screaming or I may go dragging my tired self for exercise.to a park
#2-I do see some differences. It is slow progress but I see some changes and I like it. Changes are encouraging.
#3-I am a part of a group that supports and encourages one another on this journey to being better versions of ourselves. This is so refreshing since, very often, women feel in competition or tear one another down.
#4-My push or drive comes from my daughters who encourage me each day. Their drive and determination makes me want to do this even more. Very often, they accompany me to fitness events or assist me in finding new workouts on Pinterest. I truly want to make them proud and inspire them in some small way.
#5-I most likely will not run a marathon or do a triathlon and I am ok with that but I will continue to set goals and achieve them.
#6-Inspiration is all around me. Living in the moment and staying true to who you are remain 2 goals as well as philosophies for me in my life. The latter one is somewhat easier to keep because life can get in the way and cause us to focus too much on the future and stray away from the moment. The present moment remains all we are guaranteed so worrying about the future robs us of that.
#7-Being in my 40’s, and I cannot believe I am writing that fact down, has brought challenges and gifts. These gifts include the idea that I no longer want to be a part of any drama and I will remove myself from situations that are drama filled or unhealthy for my quest to grow with a more positive outlook. I simply am following the same advice I give my twin daughters. I try to look at challenges as lessons in life and move on from them as they occur. Dwelling only breeds negativity.

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In addition, I am excited to try new things without second guessing myself and stepping out of that all too limiting comfort zone. I love the freedom that comes with this age and I am now less concerned with what others think. Hopefully, I won’t cause my children much embarrassment as demonstrated, this past weekend, when I broke into song while walking through the streets of a town that was hosting a classic car show. Can I help it the DJ played great music?

I look forward to many new adventures, and lessons learned, as I continue along on this journey to a healthier version of me. The obstacles will be there but they will get smaller with each experience and each attempt.

As the title of my blog states..I am an optimist in training.

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!!

Blank Slate

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imageI love this time of year when the days get longer and we have more daylight. It is also the time of year when my soul longs for a change or growth in a new direction. A feeling of being stagnate is one I try to avoid but one in which I find myself in on occasion. I have made efforts, to get out of my comfort zone, and stretch my idea of who I am but I am feeling that it is not enough. Change is in the air. I am not sure where it will lead or what direction it will take me. I only know I am ready. I am open to new ideas and ready to pursue my passions. All of which are good for the soul!