Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thoughts on the New Year.

Hard to believe that another year has passed and that 2011 will soon be upon us.  I still remember the fun times of celebrating 2000 with a party out on a farm that involved lots of underage drinking and cartwheels with roman candles....but those of you that know me, know that I was only involved in the lighting fireworks here.

I am more than pleased with how 2010 has gone.  I have had plenty of overwhelming moments thanks to a career change and missing my Mom.  But, I wouldn't change it for anything.  I have grown A LOT this year, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and in my relationships.  I am thankful for that growth and for moving on when necessary.

There is something everyday that reminds me of my Mom and how much I miss her.  Today it was new sunglasses and new lipstick.  She would have liked both selections.

As I look to 2011, it is time to set out the goals.  I am not much into the resolutions more into looking into the next year on the whole.  I have lots of great ideas and things that will challenge me, teach me, and enrich me.

In no certain order.

1.  More trips with my husband--goal of 3-4 trips with just the two of us.
2.  Sell 4-5 million in real estate.
3.  Continue running.  Goal of running 4-5 5ks and 1-2 10ks.
4.  Continue to improve my health by losing the last 15lbs I want to lose.
5.  Read more non-fiction.  At least one non fiction book/month.
6.  Blog 2x/week.
7.  Go on a mission trip.
8.  Go on a family trip with each of our families
9.  Take more pictures
10.  Kitchen update at the new house--see you later you POS 25 yr old appliances.
11.  Use the VitaMix daily.
12.  Continue to cook/eat at home at least 5 nights a week
13.  Take a something that interests me.

So, that's the scoop.  It's going to be a good year.  Lots of good things to come...I can feel it.

Now...back to my wine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Holiday PSA

For many, the next 6 weeks are the best 6 weeks of the year.  They love the food, the family time, the hustle and bustle, the road trips, the cocktails parties, and the ugly Christmas sweater parties.  And, in fact, many can't imagine that not everyone gets wrapped up in all of the excitement of the coming weeks.  Everyone loves all of this right?  Everyone has fun this time of year right?  Wrong.  Not to be a giant Scrooge, but there are a lot of people that are not in love with this time of year.  This time of year is bittersweet for more than you can probably imagine.  For many, it signifies another holiday without their cherished love one, their last holiday with a loved one, or their first holiday without someone special.  I am not recommending that everyone walk around on eggshells but I am reminding people to be cognizant of those around you.  

This time of year is a struggle for many.  Most of them try to put on a brave face to be just as jolly as the next person.  However, it is often a very bittersweet time of year.  So, when you see someone that doesn't seem to love it all as much as you do, maybe you should consider that maybe there is an excellent reason for that.   

Monday, November 1, 2010

The difference a year makes.

Over the past few weeks, I have been struck by the difference of this Fall from last Fall.  Of course, this time last Fall, I was just recovering from pneumonia  and winding my way through some nasty gallbladder attacks....But....that being said.  It's amazing how different it feels.

Not sure if you all noticed, but the leaves changes colors this time of year.  You are probably all saying ' no shit' in your head....However, I have to say that I completely missed that last year.  And, maybe part of that is because I was living way out in the burb land of no trees....But, most of it had to do with my own little fog I lived in.

The one thing I remember most about last Fall was coffee.  And, as dumb as that sounds, it is absolutely true.  My almost daily stop at Starbucks was worth every penny of that almost 4 dollar drink.  That stuff was therapy in a cup.  And, most days, it was the one thing I looked forward to.

As the retailers have politely reminded me, Christmas is coming.  Last year, I would have given anything for that one to pass me by.  So far, this year isn't feeling the same.  Although, I admit that familiar pain came right up in Nordstrom on Friday.  Damn the stupid lip gloss.  The Christmas gift sets are out at the cosmetics counters at Nordy's.  And, Mom always got me one.  Some silly sparkly Christmas promo...but I loved it.

So...what will the holidays bring this year.  To be honest, who knows.  My hope is that we are all actually together rather than stranded here in a blizzard.  In general, I think it will be better.  Not what it used to be.  But better than last year.

I am starting to make my lists of gift ideas.  Some are actually pretty good.  However, it just isn't the same without my buddy to bounce all my ideas off of.

As I am reminded every day, she left too soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two Amazing Ladies.

I was lucky enough to go to dinner with two amazing nurses who will always hold a special place in my heart.  They were nominated (by me) for a very special nursing award.  Check out a few pictures below and of course, read their nominations.

The first entry below is about Wilma Guilbeau--on the right above.

In my opinion, there is no higher honor in the Kansas City nursing community than to be nominated for the Heart of Healthcare award.  And, throughout my professional career as a nurse, I have had the opportunity to know many good nurses.  However, I have had the privilege of working with and knowing one that is exceptional. 
                Wilma Guilbeau has been a fixture of the University of Kansas Hospital Emergency Department for over 20 years.  There, she has provided exceptional care to thousands of patients and has been part of a team that has also saved thousands of lives.  She provides a level of care that is heads above many of her colleagues and difficult to match.  Wilma expects only the best from herself as well as her colleagues.  Each shift, she models to others the ways that care should be given.  She treats each patient with dignity and respect and serves as their advocate as long as is necessary.  In my opinion, Wilma is the original patient advocate.   For those that are lucky enough to work with her, she shares her knowledge and expertise on a daily basis so that they are a better practitioner.  She is always willing to help at the triage desk, start a difficult IV, provide an extra hand with a difficult patient, or hold the hand of a dying patient so they do not die alone.   As a nurse in the Cardiac Cath Lab at KU, I often received patients from Wilma.  Many times, those patients were in grave condition.  However, I knew that if I was getting a patient from Wilma, that the patient was well taken care of and their chances were better because Wilma was their nurse.  When she isn’t teaching others in the ER or serving on a committee to improve the care that is provided there, she is teaching Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) to other professionals.   
Just over one year ago, my Mom and my best friend, suffered a massive stroke.  As I walked through the doors of the University of Kansas Hospital Emergency Department to meet my Mom who had been flown there, the first person I asked for was Wilma. Not only did I know that Wilma was exceptionally skilled and that she would give my Mom the best chance at survival but I also I knew that Wilma would  take exceptional care of  my family.  As I waited for my Mom to arrive and contemplated the unknown, Wilma was kind enough to get me the quiet room I needed and a much needed box of Kleenexes.  As soon as my Mom arrived to the ER, she was personally escorted by Wilma to the ICU where she would receive her care.  Following her shift, Wilma came to that same ICU to provide emotional support and to assure that we had everything that we needed.  Throughout that weekend, she continued to visit the waiting room with various supplies of snacks, jackets to keep us warm, and Kleenex.  While the Neuroscience team cared for my Mom, she cared for our family as though we were her patients or her own family.  I know that this level of care is not the exception with Wilma.  This level of care is the rule. 
                And, while Wilma provides excellent care inside the walls of the hospital, she provides it outside as well.  Throughout the past year, Wilma has helped one of her best friend’s lead a valiant fight against breast cancer.  She has taken her friend to weekly treatments, doctor’s appointments, and radiation therapy.  She has also provided many a meal and child care relief to help her friend ‘fight the good fight’.   She has once again given of herself to be an amazing nurse and friend. 
                Wilma Guilbeau  is a patient listener, a patient’s best advocate, a skilled practitioner, and a natural leader.  In my opinion, young nurses should aspire to be the nurse that Wilma Guilbeau is every day.  Wilma has given her life to care for others, therefore, it would only be fitting to honor Wilma with the Heart of Healthcare Award.  She exemplifies what it means to be an exceptional nurse each and every day. 

Nomination for Jennifer Medellin ( on the left above)

In my opinion, there is no greater honor in Kansas City than being nominated for the Heart of Healthcare Award.  After witnessing the level of caring and expertise that one of the nurses at the University of Kansas Hospital Neuroscience Intensive Care gave last year, her nomination for this award was not a question.
On July 10, 2009, I told my Mom that I loved her over the phone shortly before she went to bed.  That night, while she slept, she suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke.  The next morning, when she was unable to be aroused, she was examined at her local hospital in La Crosse, KS.  There, she was diagnosed with a massive stroke, one week before a proposed surgery to remove a recently diagnosed carcinoid tumor.  From the small hospital in Western Kansas, she was flown by fixed wing aircraft at my direction to the University of Kansas Hospital.  As a former  KU nurse, I knew that she would receive the best medical and nursing care available.  Over the course of her three day stay, I was overwhelmed by the level of care that she did receive.  And, while the care of her medical staff was exceptional, the nursing care that she received exceeded my highest expectations. 
Over the course of the weekend, we were able to determine that the stroke that my Mom had suffered was so massive that she would be unable to recover.  Therefore, we made the difficult decision that it was necessary to remove her from the machines that were sustaining her life.  On the evening of Sunday, July 12th, she was extubated, her last rites were administered, and comfort care measures were instituted. 
Shortly before 7am on July 13, her care was assumed by Jennifer Lewis.  As a nurse, I knew that she was going to have a difficult shift.  She was going to have a death on her shift.  And, while on a unit where that happens regularly, that is never something that is welcomed.  She began her shift by coming in to offer her emotional support, her nursing excellence, and fresh refills on our hospital coffee.  Even though she knew what her shift would bring, she was smiling.  Throughout the next few hours, she would offer many hugs, words of support, and a few tears as well.  However, one of the most poignant memories of her care was when she offered to make hand molds of my Mom’s hands.  My Mom had beautiful hands.  Her nails were always perfectly manicured and painted in the latest shade of OPI Red.  Jennifer shared with me that she had made similar molds of her grandmother’s hands a few weeks prior in her grandmother’s final hours.  She offered that she loved being able to put her hand in the mold of her grandmother’s.   I knew that I was going to miss holding my Mom’s hand as well so it was only fitting for us to make those molds of her hands as well.  At the time, I wasn’t sure how often I would take them out of their box.  Since then, however, I have been incredibly thankful to have them.  Before a routine surgery last fall, I was able to slip my hand inside my Mom’s for some much needed support.  If it wasn’t for Jennifer, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity. 
Jennifer related to me as a daughter and as a nurse.  She welcomed my questions about my Mom’s care in her final hours and let me participate as I wished.  She held my hand, hugged me, and gave me the much needed support I needed when I was struggling to be strong for my Dad.  She helped me to organize a cocktail party in the room shortly before her passing that celebrated and honored her life.  She was readily available when we needed her and respectfully distant when we needed that as well. 
Jennifer Lewis loves being a nurse and it is exhibited in the manner in which she takes care of her patients and families.  During the final hours of my Mom’s life, Jennifer provided the same exceptional care to our family that she also provided to her patient.  With her help, I was able to give my Mom the ‘good death’ that she deserved.
Since my Mom’s untimely passing, I have made multiple trips to the unit to visit, what feels like, an extended family.  Each time, when she has been working, I have been welcomed by Jennifer with open arms.  And, while I would like to think that my case is exceptional, I know it is not.  I know that each day that Jennifer Lewis works, patients and families are receiving exceptional care. 
I am honored that she was the nurse to provide care to my Mom in her final hours.  And, I can think of no better way to honor her love of nursing than by honoring her with the Heart of Healthcare Award.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Today, I once again learned the valuable lesson of community.  This afternoon, I was at home so that we could get the back window of the truck fixed.  And,as my OCD self went out to check on the installer, I noticed the 2 KS State Troopers at the neighbor's home.  And, being the person I am, I asked them if I could be of any assistance since I knew that those neighbor's are travelling.  " Yes Maam, Ed has been killed in a car accident and we are trying to get ahold of his wife.  We do not think she was in the car with him."  Excuse me??  The kind trooper just informed me that my dear neighbor across the street had been killed in accident while on vacation today.  And, over the next hour, we would learn that his wife was killed in that same accident.

In the blink of an eye, my neighbors are gone.  Both of them.  However, what I noticed was the amazing sense of community as we all gathered in our cul de sac.  Every person in a one block area was connected at once by the quickly spreading word of Ed and Joann's death.  And, while I have lived here the shortest amount of time, I , seemed to know almost the most about Ed.  And, how did I know so much?  Because, Ed and I were buddies.  While I couldn't tell you his favorite restaurant, or his favorite sports team, I could tell you all about this trip they were on and how excited he was that his wife had just retired and that they would now be travelling together.  He was one of many faces I said good morning to on my way home from a run.  And, Ed was the man I always chatted with on my way to get the mail.  In fact, our latest chats were about his son that was about to move here and how I would help him find a home in KC.

My neighbors leave behind two children.  Two sons in their 20s and 30s without their parents.  And, it breaks my heart even though have never met them.    It is devastating to lose one parent, but to lose both in the same day, I cannot even begin to imagine.

And, while I am saddened by the loss of two great people.  I am reassured about the choice we made.  The families that I spent my afternoon with genuinely care about the people around them.  They are concerned with the welfare of each and every one of us.  And, collectively, we are saddened at the loss of our friends.  It was amazing to me to see how much everyone wanted to make sure that everyone knew and was aware of what happened.  And, each family was obviously affected.

It makes me sad to look across at their home and know that they are never coming 'home'.  And, while I know they are now in their true 'home', it is sad to know I will not see them again for a long time.

So, to my followers, I ask that you pray for this family.  Theirs sons will certainly need it in the days and months to come.  We lost two great citizens today.  However, I am comforted by the fact that they were together and they were enjoying their life together.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Had another wow moment this week.  Was chatting with someone online who recently lost one of their in-laws to cancer.  And, as we chatted, I offered my condolences (it is equally difficult for the spouse, but for different reasons).  And, as I normally do, I offered the share the name of a really good therapist, just in case.  Their response was that, 'they wouldn't need a therapist b/c they were strong.'  Um.  Wow. 

That comment was proof to me that this person has absolutely no flipping idea what is about to happen.  And, granted, maybe their situation was different.  However, thinking that 'being strong' gets you through grief on it's own is ridiculous. 

I fully understand that no one grieves the same way.  And, I also understand that some people have no idea of why a therapist would be a good idea.  And, I also know that some people just prefer to tough it out on their own.  

However, I cannot say that I didn't have a 'wow' moment when I read it.  Those of you that know me, know that I am 'strong' too.  But, I can tell you right now, I never would have gotten through it all on my own.  

I wouldn't say that the comment really surprised hear enough stupid stuff out of people's mouths everyday.  However, the part that pissed me off about the comment was the implication that people that seek therapy are 'weak'.  No, those people are strong enough to admit they need help and are willing to find it. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Birthday

Mom's birthday is Friday.  And, while I don't have the same sense of impending doom that I did last year, I can honestly say  I am not looking forward to it.  While I am getting used to the fact that she isn't here, birthdays continue to send me for a loop.  They were such a BIG DEAL in our family and she and I were the reason why. 

Made a little trip into Nordstrom on Friday and it really made me miss her.  Need to get a few new things, including some smaller jeans, and was wishing that she was there to help me.  I, of course, didn't buy anything, b/c I never do anymore, but sure did make me miss her.

Thinking about her birthday has made me have this whole different wonder do they celebrate birthdays in heaven?  And, do they celebrate your real birthday (the day you were born) or do they celebrate the day you were given everlasting life (the day you died)?  Not sure why, but those two questions have been puzzling me this weekend.  Or, do you not celebrate either in heaven b/c you have been given everlasting life?  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Deja Vu

10 days ago, one of my friends joined 'the Club.'  The Club is not something that you want to have any part of if you are part of my circle.  The Club means that you have suffered the loss of a parent at an early age.  Unfortunately, after the loss of my own Mom, I learned that I was not the only one and had many friends and acquaintances who had suffered the loss of a parent.  And, damned if we didn't get another member 10 days ago. 

The problem with watching one of your friends lose their parent is that you understand the gravity of their situation.  You may not understand completely what it is like for them, but you have a pretty damn good idea.  And, as I sat in a pew last week in support of my friend, my brain flashed countless memories of the last 14 months.  And, I couldn't help but wonder why someone else, my age, has to go through this.

When I was talking to my friend the day after his father's death, I told him that my heart hurt for him.  It hurts because I understand the loneliness that will undoubtedly come.  It hurts for the missed opportunities, the missed family dinners, and the missed celebrations.  It hurts for the missed phone calls to share good news.  It hurts for the phone calls for a little advice.  And, it hurts to know that his father will never know his son's children.

However, I was once again reminded that now is not the time for questions.  Now is the time to trust in God's reasoning and have faith that there must be a reason for all of this.  I know that grief has changed me over this past year and it will change my friend too.  It has made me a better person, wife, and family member.  In fact, I would say that most of the changes have been the 30lb weight loss.

At times, I am incredibly thankful for the knowledge I have gained throughout the last year plus.  I learned the value of picking up the phone to call when you know the call will be hard.  I learned how important it is to be there for others as a show of support.  I have learned how to truly be thankful every day for just having the opportunity to be here. 

Through a series of workshops/trainings over the last year, I have learned how to make some valuable changes in my life  Funny how it worked out for me to find myself in this workshop when I needed it most and was ready to make changes.  Funny how God works.  As part of that course, we were challenged to outline what our true purpose in life was.  My purpose, as I see it, is to make a difference every day.  And, I can honestly say that I am 100% committed to making sure that happens.  I can already tell you that it is working. 

I pray that my friend and those that will come after me will use their grief to grow. 

And, I also pray that their grief is not as debilitating as mine was and can be at times. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holiday weekends and conversations about nothing...

In my previous life, I loved and longed for long holiday weekends.  I loved the prospect of having three days to get 'stuff done' and do some relaxing.  I loved knowing that it usually meant life without a schedule and that I could easily blow off at least half of it and still manage to get something done if I needed to.  And, I loved the weekends when we would all get together.  Sometimes it was for being lazy...Sometimes it was for shopping...Sometimes it was for a few little projects around Club 246.

However, on this long holiday weekend, I discovered what I miss the most about these holiday weekends without my Mom.  I miss those damn pointless phone calls that we used to have when we weren't together.  The ones where I would call her at 11 and tell her that I was hoping to be dressed by noon....but don't count on it b/c I found ( insert show here) marathon and wasn't sure I could stick to such a tight schedule.  Or, those times when I called her at 1030 to report that I had already done a couple of loads of laundry, cleaned out something, gotten a coffee, and was ready for a nap.  I miss those stupid, random talks about nothing.  We might both complain that we were bored, but that neither one of had any intention of fixing it.  She might complain that Dad was (insert whatever here) and I would complain that Bryce was playing Xbox and not following my schedule.  And, then, she just might give me some advice on how to motivate Bryce....and I would explain how that wouldn't work.

These were the weekends when we talked a half a dozen times a day on the phone.  And, no one conversation was about much of anything.  Lots of reports on what I was or was not cooking, whether the grocery store was busy, how dumb it was that I braved Costco, and a few weather anecdotes thrown in.  And, each time, I would hang up the phone and smile...or shake my head.  I occasionally shook my head because she was telling me what I should be doing, and those same suggestions could have easily applied to her.

I also came to the conclusion this weekend that I would be perfectly happy to skip this entire damn month.  My motivation has tanked, the tears are up, I miss my Mom, and I wish all of these damn anniversaries in my head would go away.  Because I am female, I remember exactly what happened on every day for the 3 weeks preceding her death.  And, every day for the last couple, I have woken up to thoughts about whatever happened on that day last year.

I know that I have come a LOOOONG way.  However, I can't say for certain that life at this distance from where I started feels that much better in general.

Some days, I am still fascinated at the things that I need her for.  I still find it incredibly hard to make some decisions.  I am not an indecisive person.  However, I sure have been since my Mom died.  I want that to go away.  For example, Bryce and I went to the bookstore on Friday night because I wanted to go.  For the most part, I have stayed out of bookstores over the last year.  Mom and I went together, with coffee in hand, after we went to dinner.  So, I have stayed out of those stores.  But, I wanted a good book to read so we went to the bookstore.  And, when I couldn't decide what I wanted to read, I thought....'I need to call Mom so that she can tell me what to get that I will like."  This happens every Summer.  Every Summer I tell myself I am going to read some good literature and maybe pass by a few of those mysteries I read.  And, every summer, I call her from the bookstore and ask her what to get...if she isn't with me. I do most of the time, I left the store with a few more mysteries...and no literature.

One week from tomorrow it will be one year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thoughts on the first year of Marriage

This past Sunday, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  To most, the first anniversary probably isn't a very big deal because expect that it is an easy milestone to achieve since those first few months of marriage always involve rose colored glasses and being in the honeymoon phase.  The average idiot assumes that you just sit around looking longingly into each other's eyes and magically you make it to a year.  The average idiot probably also assumes that the first year is also the easiest.  And, to be honest, I would like to slap all of those idiots that made comments about being honeymooners to me over the last 11 months.

The untimely death of my Mom ended our honeymoon phase shortly after the conclusion of our honeymoon.  Then, we took a rough and tumble crash course on what marriages are made of over the following 11 months.  And, when June 13th rolled around, I was ready to shout from the rooftops...Sweet Jesus, we MADE IT!!

I remember in our pre marital counseling that our counselor announced that we had all we needed to 'make it' as a couple.  He had no concerns about whether or not our marriage would make it and declared that we were the perfect couple.  Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other and we work well together.  Little did that man know that my husband would carry me emotionally through our first year.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the wedding of one of my cousins.  And, while most people were zoning out during the vows, I was checking off the list of very similar vows that Bryce and I had agreed to not too long before.  For Better for Worse.  Check.  In sickness and in health.  Check.  For richer for poorer, Check.  To have and to hold (up).  Check.  To love her even when she is crazy.  Check.  Oh wait, that wasn't in there, but it fits anyway.  And, as they finished their vows, part of me laughed (sarcastically) to myself that we have already crossed all of those off.  And, that I wasn't ready to cross many of those off for a second time yet.  In fact, I was ready to start enjoying some of the 'for better' part of the vows.

And, while it sounds like I am bitching about what hell our first year of marriage has been...I am, but I am not.  I am bitching because I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  I wouldn't wish the overwhelming feelings of loneliness and loss on anyone....let alone someone who was trying to build a strong marriage.  However, I am incredibly thankful for the test that I have been given.  These trials have proven to me that I did find the right person and that he loves me absolutely unconditionally.  In fact, he proves that very often when I get really ugly and moody.  To be honest, I am not sure that I would have put up with me even though the circumstances could not be changed.

I am thankful for having someone to hold me up when I needed it and keep me company when I didn't really want it.  I am thankful that I found someone to listen to my craziness even if he didn't know how to respond.

I am hoping that year 2 of marriage is better than year 1.  I am hopeful that with a new home and the prospect  of being somewhat settled in a few weeks that some sense of normalcy can come into our lives.  I am looking forward to knowing where all of our things are.  I am looking forward to having a fenced yard for the babies again.  I am looking forward to being able to have friends over again.  And, I am looking forward to moving on and making a life.

I have one small mountain in the way and it is fast approaching....the one year anniversary of my Mom's death.  It's not going to be pretty.  But, I will get through it....with a cocktail or two in hand.

By the way, it's obvious to me that I haven't written in a while by the obviously poor flow that exists in this post.  However, I am pretty sure I will be back in the saddle of writing again to get me through the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother's Day... seems as though Mother's Day is coming....and it seems as though the fact that it is coming  needs to be plastered on every piece of radio, TV, and print advertising imaginable.  I realize that it is a HUGE holiday for the retail world and all involved, however, it is a little hard for those of us in my position to stomach all of this marketing.  Mother's Day is coming and I don't have one anymore.  It makes me MAD!  The hardest part is knowing that I know that day is going to be rough.  No phone calls to my Mom, no dinners out to celebrate, and no fun little prezzies to send her way.  And, I know that their are plenty of people on this planet who won't do it up right for their Moms....but they still have their Moms.  Yuck, yuck, and yuck.

I have told my husband that he is responsible for his own Mom this year....He has to go get his own card and do his own thing...probably without me.  I honestly don't think I can stomach the pain of going out to see everyone else happily celebrating their Mom as I struggle.

I know that marketing is for the masses....but this is one of those times that it kills me.  And, I wish I could avoid it....however, the only way that I could avoid all of this marketing is by living in a hole....and while that does sound attractive at times based on my fluctuating level of depression, my sweet husband won't let me live there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Logo...

The Logo and Business card design are finished....


For some strange reason, I thought that Easter wasn't going to be a big deal this year.  I thought that it would all be ok that I wans't seeing family and that things would be as seemingly normal (whatever the hell that means) as they have been.  I was really damn wrong about that one.  It sucked.

The day started with Claire getting out of the backyard and going on a neighborhood adventure...when we were supposed to be leaving for church.  So, I ran back in the house, changed shoes, and took off walking the neighborhood.  I asked everyone I saw if they had seen a little one had.  And, that is when the panic started to set in.  I had no idea what I would do without my little girl.  After walking almost the whole neighborhood, Bryce called.  He had Claire.  He had gone to the car to start driving and looking and Claire was very meekly sitting on our sidewalk.  Damn dog.  I was glad she was home but wanted to strangle her little neck.

So, off we went to church, destined to be late.  Talked to Dad on the way and that is when the cascade started. We always really liked Easter at my house and I always got an Easter basket.  And, for some reason, I thought that maybe Dad wouldn't do it this year.  Sure enough, he told me that the Easter bunny didn't know how to get to Olathe but luckily had one of my old addresses.  I had an Easter basket waiting for me in La Crosse.  And, they came the cascade.

We squeezed into an aisle seat at church a few minutes late next to all those people that only show up on Christmas and Easter....But, since I was at church and couldn't be snarky...I kept my mouth shut.  The service was amazing to say the least.  The choir sounded phenomenal, the church was beautiful, and of course, Todd's sermon, was off the charts.  All of these wonderful things would make the average person happy....Not this girl....I just sat there and cried.  About everything.  I cried about how sad I was that my Mom wasn't sitting next to me like the girl two rows in front of me.  And, I cried because I knew she would have loved all the pomp and circumstance that was church yesterday.  And, damn it, I know she was there, but not sitting next to me doesn't count.

I did my usual post church visit to her.  The yard where she is buried was decorated with lots of little Easter eggs for all of the kiddos that would be having a hunt out there.  And, sure enough, because her burial spot is still a 'low spot' someone had stuck an egg on her grave.  And, for some reason, I didn't like it, and chucked the egg clear across the yard.

Needless to say, by the time it was all over, I was exhausted.  I didn't do much the rest of the day and felt like crap.  I was happy to be able to sit on my butt.  And, lucky for me, today is Monday....and I have a headache.  Fabulous.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Honor of My Birthday

Today is my 30th birthday.  And, it is birthday #1 without my best friend.  On some level, I found it poetic to wake up with a migraine and that it has rained all day.  To me, the rain is from my Mom.  She is very sad to not be here for my 30th birthday and knows that this has NOT been the birthday season of birthdays past.

Each year, I buy myself a little something for my birthday...or maybe a few little somethings.  But, this year, is different.  I did something much bigger and something that will bring a long lasting impact to both my life and the life of my community.

As of last Friday, the Proud Mary Foundation was established.  Yes, I started a Non Profit in honor of my Mom.  She and I both love helping others and making a difference in the lives of those whose circumstances are much worse than our own.  So, I felt it was only fitting to give back in honor of my 30th year.  The mission is to support causes that both she and I believe in.  As you can imagine, there will be donations made to organizations that support literacy, education, the Episcopal Church, and the good works of the University of Kansas Hospital.  Each year, a percentage of my salary will be dedicated to the Foundation and others will be able to donate as well.  

I know that she is proud of me and the woman I am becoming.  And, I know she thinks what I have done is fitting.  I will continue to help others in honor of her memory and in support of organizations she loved.  She will continue to make a difference with my help.

And, I will just tell you....I am going to have a lot of fun handing out those checks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucky 13

I never have been one of those people to be wrapped up in the meaning of numbers and whether or not they were really 'lucky'.  However, my thoughts on what they signify to me have changed a bit over the past 8 months.  On Saturday, I woke up and I felt rotten.  I felt rotten emotionally.  I felt rotten physically.  I wanted to crawl in a hole.  However, because I had committed to work that afternoon, there were no holes available for me.  I did my best at pulling myself together and got out of the house on my way to 'make something happen'.  And, as I was driving towards my office, I had that 'aha' moment.  It's the 13th.  No wonder I feel like shit.  My Mom had been gone for exactly 8 months.  And, while I was doing best to avoid stressing over that day, my subconscious felt the need to remind me that it runs my show these days.  And, to be honest, I find it all fascinating.  I had tried really hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep trudging...because that is what life feels like right now.  I was trying act like it was just another day...which it was...March 13th has absolutely no significance.  But, it doesn't really work that way I guess.

When I met with my therapist last week, I told her how much I was struggling the last few weeks and that I had chalked it up to my impending birthday and the change of season.  But, as I explained to her, I didn't understand why the season change was such a big deal.  Why would that make me an emotional disaster?  How could the prospect of sunshine, green grass, and daylight till 8 pm make me upset?  She explained it very simply.  I am not ready for the happiness of the spring season.  I am not emotionally able to think about the care free life that is spring and summer and think of it without some pain associated with it.  And then, it all made sense.  The dreary weather matched my mood much better.  And, who wants to be 'Debbie Downer' when the sun is shining?!!?!?

The other phenomenon that I have noticed in the last week is how hard March Madness is for me this year.  Yes, you all now think I am completely batshit crazy.  Why would March Madness be difficult for someone that loves basketball and for someone whose teams are doing so well????  And, through a little thinking, I discovered that I am mourning two things.  I miss the days of filling out brackets with my living grandmother who also loved basketball.  She now has dementia and no longer fills out brackets.  And, we did that together every March.  She kept it on the counter right next to her kitchen TV and we filled in the winners of each game...and would then discuss our thoughts about the upcoming match ups.  That doesn't happen anymore and I miss it.  And, while my Mom didn't ever really fill out brackets, she always knew what was going on.  And, she LOVED the Cinderella stories of the Big Dance.  She loved it when the underdog knocked off the big long as that big team wasn't KU.  And, she loved the special interest stories that CBS would air about the kids who came from nothing but had a great Mom behind them supporting them every step of the way.  She loved hearing those stories and calling to make sure that I had seen it too.  And, I can assure you, she was yelling at the TV cheering on those kids' teams much like she did the Jayhawks.  She was always pulling for the underdog.

I am going to miss calling her tonight during half time of the KU slaughter of Lehigh.  She would probably comment about how Bill Self's new glasses really do make him look younger and that he sure does wear better ties than Roy used to.  And, she would probably be commenting about how well Sherron is leading his team and maybe a little about what poor decisions that Marcus and Markieff made during the first half.  And, then she would ask me if I think they can do it?  Do I really think they can win the National Championship?  I would assure her that they could.

But, as I watch the game tonight.  I know one thing.  She has the best seat in the house this year.  In my mind, she is hanging out over Danny and Bill's shoulders and is giving them a little bit of the Mary Barrows basketball theory.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change of Season

Almost two weeks ago, I received a call from a friend from church checking in to see how I was doing and warning me of an impending monster she wasn't sure I knew about yet.....the change of seasons.  She told me just to know that sometimes for whatever reason, the change of seasons could be hard on your emotions when you are grieving.  She wasn't kidding.  And, I am glad I had the warning although I still don't get why it all happens that way.  I have been a mess.  Sleep is a roll of the dice again each night and I tend to swing pretty close to the ceiling again.  I will be happy for the days when my feet and my emotions are planted much more closely to the ground.  Although we will see when that comes because with this change of season comes a new decade for me and my first birthday without my Mom.  It could be ugly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another milestone..

So. those that know anything about grief know that there is an exceptionally long list of 'firsts' that you must get through.  And, many say it gets easier after the 'first' of whatever it is....I will go ahead and call bullshit on those people.  But, I am still checking off the firsts on my list.  So, last week was the first funeral since the last one I was at....Mom's.

I don't necessarily like funerals.  I am not really sure who does.  They tend to be sad and sorrowful.  You often see people at their worst or in a state near that.  Yuck.  I hate it.  However, I know from experience how important it is go for another to show your support.  So, I went.  My boss' father had passed away so, since she has already turned into a great friend, I felt compelled to go.

It was a 2.5 hour drive to get there but I needed every last second of that time to get myself off the ceiling and through the front door of the church.  I was nervous.  I did not want to lose it in a room full of people who don't know me.  I wanted to keep it together and do it with as much dignity as I could muster.  So, I put on my big girl panties, a little sparkle, and faced the demon.  And, I won.

It wasn't easy.  I knew what the family members and friends of the lost were feeling.  I knew exactly how raw that emotion was.  I also knew that they had no idea what was really coming.  I had been in that exact emotional spot not so long ago.  They were in the blissful state of grief.  For those of you that have been there, you know what I mean.  You think that life is really horrible and feel numb.  Little do you know, that feeling is as good as things are going to get for a while.

While the church service in and of itself was daunting....enter the graveside service.  That was when I absolutely lost it at my Mom's service.  My husband had to physically hold me up because I was absolutely unable to stand under my own power.  So, at first thought, I planned on skipping the graveside portion.  Then, I decided that I might as well suck it up and do a big girl.  And, every nasty demon of grief came home to roost in my brain in the quiet, frigid corner of the Catholic cemetery in Clay Center, KS.  This time, however, I was able to stay on my feet.  And, cry quietly behind my signature, oversized black sunglasses.  I returned to my car in silence.  I was exhausted.

I did stick around for the proverbial 'funeral lunch.'  That helped to lighten the emotional load before I made the trek back to the city....and I was very thankful.  In fact, I am pretty sure I have never been so excited about finger sandwiches, assorted salads, and one little corner of german chocolate cake.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Those look like you....

That is exactly what my Mom would have said about the shoes that I bought yesterday.

It has come to the time of the winter where I am dying for the dawn of Spring.  I need sun.  I need warm weather.  I need blue skies and a cool breeze that requires a cute trench coat.  And, I needed a new spring pair of shoes.  This was the time of year that Mom and I made our first venture to the mall in search of something that said spring.  We were usually looking for a spring accessory, a new bags, some new shoes, or something to replace the drab of the winter.

Well, yesterday, similar to something like a nicotine attack for a smoker, I bought a new pair of shoes.  I needed them.  And, I needed them at that exact moment.  So, I found my way to Cole Haan in search of a new pair.  I needed something that would be flexible as far as utility but that said spring to me....And, I found them.  And, knowing my Mom the way that I did.  I knew exactly what her comment would have been, "those look like you."  Now let me translate for the rest of you...."Yes Ann, those are ok, I wouldn't ever wear them.  But, I know you will love them, so buy them and be done with it."  So, here are my spring new the way, there were only 2 pair left in the country in my size....and this dear sweet salesgirl at the Plaza store who found them for me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Absence

Yes.  I have been absent.  No worries friends, I will be back....very very soon.  Had to evaluate this whole blogging expedition.  Have gotten some negative feedback.  However, I came to the conclusion that my followership (thanks Google) and my feel good emails that I have gotten outweigh that.

Just some kernels to remember.  I write to heal not to hurt.  My brain works differently now.  You may not like or agree with what I have to say, that is your opinion.  However, I am doing the best I can with what I have at that exact moment.  But, I hope, somewhere along this journey, I have made you all think.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thank God for dogs.

As many of you know, I love dogs....especially mine.  In fact, I am not sure what I would do without mine.  One of the lingering feelings since the loss of my Mom is loneliness.  I can be lonely surrounded by 100 people and I can be lonely when I am home alone.  However, I can always count on one if not both of my 'girls' to bring me comfort.  My husband thinks that both of our dogs are exceptionally needy...and maybe they are.  However, I wouldn't trade them for anything.  They are excellent company and very good at knowing when I need some snuggling.  In fact, I think their full time job is to search for snuggling opportunities.  I know that Claire waits for me to sit down with my laptop before she tries to climb on my lap.  And, that's ok with me....except for when she decides to lay her head on the keyboard.  That doesn't work out very well.

My Mom loved dogs too.  In fact, in  my idea of heaven, there are lots of dogs.  They are all wonderful, sweet, loyal animals that never shed and snuggle on request.  In fact,I would like to think that everyone gets their own dog when they arrive if they want.  In my corner of heaven, there aren't any cats....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

IT'S UP!!!!!

Check it out and donate friends!!!!!  Help me raise some money for my Mama!!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Not like I didn't know it back when I was saving lives as a cardiac nurse, but, life is fragile.  That is all there is to it.  People live and die everyday and very few of us have a damn thing to say about it.....unless, of course, you are an idiot and choose to do stupid things like ride motorcycles without helmets or do cocaine.  As far as I am concerned, Darwin takes care of those.

So, one might wonder what prompts my very cliche statement about life being fragile.  It's easy.  My first professional mentor is dying.  I found out this week and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I haven't talked to her in years and had absolutely no idea that she was 'sick'.  By the way, sick is word you use for the flu, your puny cold, or your random GI upset, you don't use it for someone that is dying.  However, people misuse the word according to my specs every day.

She's 49.  She has a brain tumor.  She will see her 50th birthday, she probably will not see Thanksgiving.  There is absolutely nothing ok about her not continuing to make valuable contributions to society everyday.

She hired me in 2002 as a nursing assistant on her unit.  At the time, I was destined to 'wash ass' as I liked to call it, take vital signs, give bed baths, bring pudding cups, and get ogled by old men.  And, most of the time, I liked the job.  I liked my job because alot of us liked our jobs.  And, we liked our jobs because our boss was good to us.  She gave you a hug when you needed it, kept kleenex in her office for our meltdowns, and made fun of you when you deserved it.  She also wore the same perfume as my Mom did so that was destined to indicate that she had great taste.  She and my grandmother had the same birthday.

She hired me into a place I would grow to love.

Over the years, she continued to move up and I continued to move around.  She became over worked and over programmed.  That's what happens when you are really good at what you do, everyone has to have you do something for them and be on their committees.  Don't even get me started on committees.  That's a dissertation for a whole other time.

Before she left KU, I have no idea how she really felt about me anymore.  We rarely talked.  But, that was a consequence of an asshole manager that I had.  I liked to call him on the carpet for being a schmuck and knowing very little about how to take good care of patients.  He grew to despise me.  I didn't care.  But, he liked to complain to my mentor about what a problem child I was.  Nope, I wasn't a problem child.  I just believed very passionately that everyone deserved good care.  And, that, if you weren't capable of providing that, you had no business working in an industry that took care of people.  I am still pissed at him for sabotaging that relationship.  However, I sang from the rooftops the day that he resigned (got his ass canned) as the manager of my old unit.  He pushes paper now....and I hope he gets paper cuts.

I am so thankful for my mentor for so many reasons.  She hired me into the best place for me.  I grew to love KU and everything that place stood for...even on a rotten day.  She held my hand through my first year as a nurse.  For those of you that think your office jobs are bad at's a cake walk for you.  People died where I worked and I was supposed to prevent that.  And, that is alot of pressure on the mind of an over analytical 23 year old.  She helped me through the death of my first patient.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was hysterical...and convinced I couldn't be a nurse because I just couldn't handle it.  She taught me how to deal with it.  She also taught me how to laugh at myself.  I used to/still do get really worked up and  she pointed out the idiocy of the stuff I sometimes got worked up about.  She saved me from a very scary roommate situation.  I still thank God that she told me not to move in with that psycho.  She also had a really good relationship with her Mom, and I loved that about her.

The world is going to lose a good nurse.  And, it makes me sick.

But, the good thing is, she is going to know how thankful I am for her.  I am drafting my thanks now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeling her presence

For months, I have struggled with the giant void.  I have heard countless times that 'your Mom is with you' and that 'she is always watching over you.'  Not that I disagree with those sentiments...I don't.  I just haven't really gotten the feeling that she was anywhere near me.  That changed a little bit today.

Today was my first Sunday on the Altar Guild at church.  I was a little nervous.  There are so many terms and little things that must be done just right...and I am a perfectionist.  However, the ladies that I was working with today made me feel exceptionally welcome.  I think they are glad to have a little 'young blood' in the group.  And, I am excited to meet some of the pillars of the congregation.

After the Peace during the service, it was my job to go up to the choir loft and wait to assist people after Communion.  So, I patiently waited off in the side room where one half of the congregation exits after the Eucharist.  As I was standing there, I began to recognize some very familiar chords on the organ.  Chords that were so familiar they brought me to tears as I am standing there trying to help unstable parishioners.  The all too familiar hymn was Bread of Life.  It was one of my Mom's favorites and mine as well.  We sang it at our wedding and exactly one month later at my Mom's service.

Maybe it was just happenstance that song was the Communion hymn today.  I would like to think that wasn't true at all.  I think that was my Mom's way of saying hello and recognizing that I was now part of the Altar Guild.  I know that would have made her proud.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The frustrating thing....

about all of this grief crap and the loss of my Mom is that I still need her so damn much.  I still need her for everyday life.  I need her to proofread my stuff, listen to me vent when life gets annoying, and give me advice in when I get frustrated with my husband and I feel like I have NO ONE to talk to about that.  You just don't talk to your Dad about that stuff...he wouldn't find it annoying or would tell me that there was nothing wrong with what Bryce was doing.  Mom, however, would tell me that men are stupid, they are lucky to have us, and that they all need to suck it up once in a while.

For work this week, I have been writing alot....about all kinds of things and pieces that will be in all kinds of places.  However, my A #1 proofreader is no longer available.  That makes me very self conscious.  I know that I can write...she taught me how...yet, I still need some supervision to make it amazing.  I want people to read what I write and go...Damn. That woman can write.  I have never written so much without her feedback and I hate it.  I am doubting the pieces that I have written and there are no equivalent subs to help me out in this instance.

I feel like I have been in a funk and it is taking forever to get out of it again.  I don't feel like doing anything.  I don't sleep well.  Life is general is annoying.  Guess who talked me out of my funks...nope...not anyone I can still talk to and get an audible response from.

Training seems to be going well so far.  I really felt like I was, I pulled myself off the treadmill and on to the track at the gym I went.  That is going much better.  In fact, I ran my first consecutive mile the other night.  I ran that mile..took a baby walking break...and then ran another half.  And, it actually felt pretty damn good.  I just have to keep the momentum going and keep making it to the gym.  I am now officially convinced that I can do this half mary.  I can run a mile so I can certainly run might not see the logic in that...I do.  I never thought I could run one consecutive mile.  I am looking forward to warmer weather.  I want to run outside.

For those that have already done the math...I passed the dreaded 6 month mark this past Wed.  It wasn't great but I also didn't feel like I was going to get admitted to the psych ward either...that means progress.  I spent the whole day at the office.  I knew that if I stayed there, things might be better.  Nobody there had any idea of the significance of the date and I didn't tell them.  I got through.  I went to the gym and then I had some mexican and margs.  I decided I needed a cocktail to celebrate that I had made it through.

We will see what this week brings...I am hoping it is a trip out of my funk.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts on my new career

As many of you know, I started my new job last new career.  In so many ways it was anti-climatic.  I was excited because I was working again and I was excited to have a good reason to get out of the house.  However, everything is new.  Everything.  I now go to an office.  I have a cubicle.  I don't have to check in or out with anyone.  They could care less if I make personal phone fact, they want me to.  Oh yeah, and I know significantly less about this job than I did about my last one.  I am not the expert nor am I considered even experienced.  That is odd.  It's an odd position to be in after being in an industry that you understood quite well....and it was even backwards more than half the time!!!  And, it's odd to be in an office surrounded by new people that have absolutely no idea the hell that I have been through in the last 6 months or that I am not the same person that I was a year ago.

There are so many things to think about as I start.  Should I have my own personal website or just use the company provided one?  What should my company name be?  Should my picture be on my business cards? How much should I spend on marketing?  What is the best way to reach people?  How exactly am I going to organize my time?  Supposedly, I am asking all the right questions according to my new colleagues.  However, they don't understand that I am used to having most of the  And, that there is a right answer.  There really aren't any right answers to my questions above.  It is all up for interpretation.  And, for someone is who is Mrs. Black and White, this is a bit of a challenge.

However, I am confident.  Confident that these issues will all work themselves out....I just need to be patient. Since when have I ever been patient.  Never really.  But, as I have done for the last 6 months, one. foot. in. front. of. the. other.

One foot in front of the other is how I am going to have to get through this week as well.  On the 13th (Wed), it will be 6 months since my Mom has been gone.  She hasn't been part of my everyday life (other than in my head) for half of a year.  I barely went half a day without her before she died.

At this point in the grief game, things are getting very interesting.  Many have forgotten that you have recently lost a parent....they don't think it is that recent anymore.  Many ask generally how I am doing....and they are not alluding to "how are you REALLY doing?"  I think that many assume that the loss of my best friend is no longer at the forefront of my thoughts.  They assume incorrectly.  She still permeates almost every thought and action of everyday.  I still catch myself wanting to ask my Dad 'what Mom is up to' when I talk with him on the phone.  Or, ask him in the late afternoon if he has heard from Mom yet.  She called me everyday on her way home from school and it's still odd to not get that phone call between 3-5 every day during the week.

But, I will continue to keep her memory alive.  She is with me everyday that I go to the gym.  I am training for her.  I am training to FINISH a half marathon in her honor....and having a cocktail while overlooking the Magnificent Mile when we are finished to celebrate her and the money I will have raised for KU.