Friday, November 01, 2019

A Memorable Conversation

I am diving right in tonight, as I'm tired but want to remember something from today in detail. I had a conversation today with someone who's body is failing. I don't feel that sharing her name would be fair, however, you don't need it to understand this story.

I found out earlier this week that a dear friend has Cancer throughout her body. I was taken aback and she's been in the back of my mind since. Various opportunities to help her have been posted (the internet is an incredible tool in this way) and I volunteered to take her ice today. Fortunately, a couple friends were also in a helping mood. One person donated a refrigerator for her so that she doesn't have to go up and down stairs quite so much. Someone I work with raised a nice chunk of change for her too.

Today I went with a co-worker and we delivered the refrigerator. What followed was a conversation I hope I never forget.

My friend is dealing with some major pain, fatigue, and significant limitations in her world. She shared with me that sleeping for her isn't like it is for most people anymore. She sleeps, then is up for a while, and sleeps, and it goes on like that 24/7. I can only imagine the limitations she's adjusting to and how hard it must be. What she actually said was something like:

This is a new chapter I guess. I think with every chapter in life there's a lot of change. But it's okay, even with my new limitations, I'm glad to be alive. I'm adjusting to my limitations and I still want to be as independent as possible. I want to do the little things while I still can.

That wasn't all of it, but that's what stuck with me. She's a wise gal. She was given three months to a year to live, as Cancer is throughout her body. She is shooting for longer, and I wouldn't be surprised if she does live longer. She's a fighter. *grin*

I walked away changed in ways I can't quite put into words. I've always adored this gal, and I do have more days on the calendar to go visit her. I am glad too. I'm always amazed at how "at peace" people are in that situation. She definitely has a peace that inspired me today.

I've pondered her A LOT since I went to her house. I think each person that crosses our path is for a reason and teaches us something. The gal I saw today has blessed me repeatedly throughout the time I've known her. I'm praying for her to be with us as long as possible. At the same time, Heaven is ready when it's time.

There's no Cancer in Heaven.

Seems to me that when she does go home, that will be beautiful too.

Hug your loved ones folks. It can all change in the blink of an eye.

Life.
is.
Good.

It's not always easy, but, it's good. *grin*

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lessons in Moving

It's been a while, too long really, since I've been on here. I honestly think daily about blogging, but I've been a little busy. See, I moved.

After ten years in the townhome I adored, I moved to an apartment closer to work. Honestly, I really, really like my new place. I typically avoid change, but have felt good throughout this whole process. I knew it was time. I was right too.

The move itself was hard. I cleaned out a lot before I moved, but honestly not enough. Ten years in my townhome allowed me to accumulate a lot of stuff. Two spare bedrooms allowed me to accumulate things without realizing it. It's been healthy though, as I've cleaned things out it has felt good to let things go.

I was a little overwhelmed when I first got all my stuff in here, I'm not going to lie. However, I've spent the past two (almost 3) weeks doing two or three boxes per night. I have made one trip to Goodwill with a full car of stuff to donate, and I've also done two trips to the recycling center. I have coats and shoes that will go out Friday too. *grin* My prayer is that I will have a clutter-free home when I'm done. Legit. *giggle* It may take a few more weeks, but I'm on a mission.*GRIN*

Jay wasn't sure of the new place at first. Now we're in a routine and he honestly is loving having new things to sniff when we walk after work. I love it too, as it's new scenery, and we haven't really even explored very far. *giggle* It's fun though. Tons of fun!

I've learned a lot through this process, and the biggest word that I keep thinking on is "healthy". I know I won't have a perfect apartment, but gosh I want it to be a healthy one. I want people to come over and not be embarrassed by my stuff. I want to be proud of my home.

And it's getting there.

Step by step.

Box by box.

I think I'm going to go crash. Moving & unpacking is more exhausting than I recall. Even when it's the right thing to do. *giggle*

LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Operation: Clean Crap Out *giggle*

Hi!

It's been a little while since I've been on here, and my mind is full of things to blog. I'm not sure where we're headed in tonight's post, but I'm excited to be writing again. *grin*

I've been in deep cleaning mode. I'm tossing out what I don't need (which I'm learning is a lot more stuff than I ever thought possible) in order to downsize for my move. I have found it all motivating and inspiring. Yes, hours of it (with a lot more to go) have taken place and I have found freedom in getting rid of stuff. I don't want to be a person held down by material things. *grin* For me, it has been a healthy process because I am getting rid of stuff and making room for a my new home. Yes, I'm nervous, but it all feels right. That makes me smile. In some ways I can't wait to be moved into my new place and have it all done, but, I know God is in this as I let go of some things and trash other things. *grin*

I've also taken time away to recharge in some different venues. Between our women's retreat at church, Jon Thurlow's final GPR set, and last night's Young and Free worship night, I'm in a good place emotionally and spiritually. *grin*

I hadn't realized it, but I had been focusing so much on this move that hearing His voice was difficult. I can honestly say in the past three weeks, I can hear Him again. I LOVE THAT!!! I've had the breakthrough I've been seeking, as well as a new connection that I wasn't expecting. *grin* I'm also seeking some wisdom on next steps in some areas, so if you think of praying for me, that'd be cool.

Well, I need to get back to the big "clean crap out" operation I've got going on.

Life is good.
ALWAYS.
*grin*

Sunday, August 18, 2019

YOU BE YOU

I think I'll dive in tonight. I mean, you are reading my blog so you know me in some form or another. It could be camp, church, school, or various other reasons. So I have something on my heart that I've been pondering all Summer.

Part of my job this Summer has been on the Employment Team and I have LOVED IT. It would take me A LONG time to explain what all I've learned this Summer. Anyway, I have met people at all the libraries around the metro. (Libraries are a whole new world now, by the way. Kids today will never know how good they have it now. *grin*) In one library in particular, there were a bunch of kids participating in a day camp at the library. So, as I was teaching my student, I noticed that two of the kids (who had skin different than white) were playing on the computers and made avatars that had white skin, blonde hair, and their bodies were thin. My heart broke a little. These young gals were beautiful (I mean that in a very appropriate way) as they are, it broke my heart that they felt they need blond hair and white skin to be pretty. I didn't say anything to them, I mean I was the new kid at the library.

Not too long after that first encounter, I was back at the library. There were three or four young gals in dark skin, and their avatars were white with blonde hair. I had to bite my lip, as my heart broke for them. I continued to teach, but at the end, I did walk over to them and told them that they're beautiful just as they are.

So, as we dive into a new school year (I start teaching in a high school an hour a week in September with more to come) I want to encourage all my readers to BE YOU. What ever that looks like, YOU BE YOU.

If you are smart, be smart, don't hide it.

If you are short, that's okay, you'll never bump your head going under doorways. *grin*

If you're tall, enjoy seeing life from a perspective that short people don't. *giggle*

If you have a disability, don't let it hold you back. YOU BE YOU.

Your skin color doesn't define you. It's part of you, but not all of you. Don't wish to be someone else. YOU BE YOU.

I could go on and on. I won't though, as the week is about to start and sleep is a priority.

Before I head up to sleep, I want to encourage you to be you.

We don't need cookie cutters or copy cats of each other.

We need each other to be different so that the world is a better place.

YOU BE YOU.

I'll be me.

We get one life. ONE.

Make it count.

*grin*
LIFE IS AWESOME.



Saturday, August 17, 2019

If I Had One Wish

I have been in some DEEP thought lately. I have several post ideas in my head, so we will see where this lands. What you don't know is that I think all the time. I mean ALL the time. Sometimes I blog and save it, and don't even hit the "publish" button. Life is so fast that I want to have my words matter. So I blog (honestly) more for me than for you. I sit here at age 46 and wonder where the time went. The answer is one day at a time. So, there's one thing I haven't really shared via my blog that I want to share today. The beginning of a school year is a great time to ponder what I'm about to post. *grin* I'm not in a classroom full time anymore, but, it seems to be the time of year I think the most about having CP equals more questions from kids.

What I've learned about kids over my 20 years of working with them, is that they don't seem to care that I have CP once I explain. I have a whole speech ready for when a child looks at me and says, "What's wrong with your leg?" Kids are simply honest, without filters, and they want the same in return. In schools it's easy to answer and move along. Sometimes it means means seeing kids out with their family's and hearing the question and the parents aren't sure what to do. This was actually what made the book "Wonder" by RJ Polaccio come about. Parents get embarrassed when the question is asked and they don't want me to feel weird so they typically say something like, "I don't know, but don't stare because that's rude." I get it. Totally. But what if we change the script?

If I had one wish in my world, it would be that parents don't reply in fear or embarrassment but rather they said, "I don't know, let's ask." Or if they said, "I'm not sure, but she's just like you and me except she walks a little different." Or even, "Let's smile, she's doing the best she can."

I wholeheartedly believe that the parents simply don't know what to do in that moment. So they do nothing. I want to empower the parents to be okay with seeing people different from them and teach their kids the same. It's okay to ask. I wholeheartedly believe we can ask each other anything, but we're not required to respond. People closest to me know that I believe that questions are always okay. If I choose to not answer a question, that is okay. I will simply say, "I prefer not to answer that question." And there are never hard feelings in that moment.

Sometimes, when I feel led by God, I will hear a kid ask their parent and I'll turn to the kid and answer even if the parent hasn't had a chance to answer yet. I'll say, "This is how I was born. You can't catch it. The message from my brain to my leg is different than yours. I can do anything you can do, but if we ran a race you would win." That typically leads to a smile from the child and then we move on.

So if wishes were real and I could have one, it would be to have parents know it's okay to ask someone with a disability questions. Even if you're busy, a kind word rather than no word would make everyone feel less awkward in the moment.

No matter where you are, church (because even at church I'm given looks and parents don't know what to do), grocery shopping, or just out in the community, it's okay to ask. We're not to fear each other, we're to love each other. In a world of so much judgements and pain, being accepted and loved is our biggest desire and also our biggest fear when not received well.

My heart breaks a little when people say "What's WRONG with her?" Or when people say, "Can I pray for your leg?" While I understand the thinking behind it, I will go out on a limb and say nothing is wrong with me or anyone else with Cerebral Palsy. I am whole just as I am and so are the other people out there with a disability. Someone at work recently said, "Without CP you wouldn't be you." CP is part of me but not all of me. Just as your favorite food is part of you. Yes, it is that simple.

So for now I need to go get ready to hang out with one of my favorite third graders. He loves me just as I am, and that's all it takes to make me truly happy. I would venture to say that other people with a disability would say the same thing. We just want acceptance for being who we are, just like you.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good. ALWAYS.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

IT'S OFFICIAL!!! *giggle*

Hello!!!

I promised one of my loyal readers that my next post would be the good news I hinted at in my last post. I have spent the past year looking for a new place to live. If I'm totally honest though, I didn't look super hard. I love this house that I've been in for this long. *grin* It's home.

Since I had to switch offices, my drive has become super long. It's not horrible, I have podcasts and music. I am closer to the Lord today than I was before this chapter began, which is super cool. As this season has continued, I knew. I just knew it was time.

So for most of July, I spent time looking at apartments. I haven't been in an apartment in 15 years, so it's been an interesting journey. It's not just an apartment now, it's workout rooms, pools, and dog parks. Some apartments even have playgrounds for little people. *grin* I was laughing as I continued the search, because all I wanted was an apartment. *giggle*

What I didn't expect to find were super kind people. Everywhere I went, people were super friendly and answered all my questions. I was often nervous which makes my leg more stiff, and more than one person offered a hand or a shoulder to lean on. In a world full of hard stuff in various aspects of our society, that was refreshing to me. Totally. *grin*

So one week ago today, I went to a complex and immediately felt good about it...Actually, I am EXCITED about where I'm going to be living. I hadn't felt that so far in the journey. *grin*

So I applied for a one bedroom that had a private patio and dog area out back. It was going to bring me in BELOW what my budget was set at. I put the money down via computer on Monday. I was SO EXCITED. On the drive home from work Monday I received a phone call. Apparently someone beat me to applying for the apartment I wanted. *giggle* The gal who called me from the complex was nervous when she initially told me about the issue but said she hoped we could work something out.

I was bummed but not heartbroken. The complex has hundreds of apartments, so I knew I wouldn't be homeless. *grin* I haven't given notice where I am anyway. So, I swapped emails with the gal who was my contact at the apartment community. Through the emails I was upfront and just asked what was available in the next few months on the first floor. *giggle*

She offered me two different apartments, a one bedroom and a two bedroom. I spent all day Wednesday pondering & praying. The goal was to shorten the drive AND work my way out of debt. I want to be able to retire eventually and travel the U.S. debt-free. *grin* The footage of the one bedroom didn't give me peace like the two bedroom did. So, I emailed and applied for the two bedroom. I wasn't worried, but knew not to say anything officially until it all went through. *grin*

I got the news Friday! I've got it! *grin*

I'm not moving until the beginning of October, so I have time to clean out all the junk I have so I can go from a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse to a two bedroom apartment. It's going to be a lot of work, but I have time to take care of it all. *grin*

No it's not marriage or anything big like that. But it's a start of a new home and chapter. For me, that's a blessing. *grin*

Oh, and He answered my prayers. They waived part of the deposit due to the mixup on the initial apartment AND it is lower rent than what the internet shows it should be. He doesn't leave any details out, does He? *grin*

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
GOOD.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Thoughts & Solutions

Hello!

I have several posts running around in my head. I have some cool news to share, but will wait. I awoke today and found out that there was another mass shooting overnight. My heart broke a little bit more in the past 48 hours. Two shootings this weekend. TWO. I don't know the answer, but gosh I've spent HOURS pondering it. Our society seems to ache when it happens but change doesn't happen so humans repeat the cycle over and over again.

I think it's a heart issue though, not a gun issue. I mean, we've had the right to bear arms for hundreds of years. Just in the past twenty years have mass shootings, or killings (9.11) been part of our culture. It makes me pause and think.

I guess I am fortunate enough to be naive in some respects. I seriously can't wrap my head around a person taking another person's life. Life is such a precious thing, and one we're not to take lightly. I often catch myself pondering the whole life experience thing. I mean, I have been deep in thought. I believe that comes with my age too. *grin*

Something my Dad told me several times when I was growing up was, "Shan, don't get comfortable." He was referring to when I'm driving my car, but it can be applied in so many different aspects of our lives. I wonder how comfortable people get in their plans to harm others? Something I think a lot about is that on Friday, the people who caused harm this weekend were free. Whether the individuals are killed or wind up caught by police and put in jail, their lives as they know it are basically over. They gave up their freedom, which is something I can't wrap my head around.

We're blessed beyond measure in America. Truly. We can go and do so many things that people in other cultures will never experience. I think often about that too. So that makes me think, why in the world would someone want to give that up and ruin other people's lives? Then I remember...

Over and over again we have been told the people that do the most harm in our society are in so much emotional pain that they want others to experience the pain they're in. To a logical person, that makes zero sense. To people who are not stable, regardless of the reason, it makes perfect sense.

What we don't see though is if that person regrets it later. We often hear the names of those who have caused harm but we never hear if they regret it, or if they're proud of it. My heart wants them to regret it. My heart wants them to see that they have to live with the fact they ended other people's lives who had done absolutely nothing to them directly. My heart also wants them to see that what they did didn't end the pain they are feeling. At the same time, that's not what happens. Otherwise we would not have any more harm in the form of mass pain. It would stop.

Clearly, my ramblings haven't solved the issue. I don't know the answer in the biggest sense, but I think I have an answer in a small way.

What if we loved those hurting to the best of our ability? What if we make people feel noticed, special, and worth our time? We're human and are far from perfect, but it could be where we can begin. I realize it's harder in reality than simply writing a post. Not everyone is easy to love. I get it.

It could be a start though.

I lead a Mental Health Support Group at work, and those people are some of the kindest individuals I've ever met. Yes, they have different thought patterns than I do, but each of them knows that they matter to the people in the group. I think that's what keeps them coming back over and over again. This particular group of people have been together in this group for over ten years. They have each made each other feel noticed, wanted, and loved. I think that should be our goal as a human race.

Love isn't love unless we give it away.

Perhaps that's where we need to start.

I know that it doesn't solve the big picture, but gosh we have to start somewhere.

Living proof of a loving God to a watching world. *grin*

Life is good when we notice each other and make them feel loved. *grin*

It is my hope & prayer that we start there.