Friday, January 22, 2016

Loss of Consciousness

I am choosing to write the following more for myself than anything else.
I don't care if you read it too.
Some inquiring minds may want to know, but really I need to sort it out and document it for medical sake. Why not here?

Yesterday was normal enough. School. Tutoring. Home. The water was heating up on the stove, not yet a boil. I went to the bathroom. As I was leaving the bathroom, I paused and really looked at myself in the mirror. My lips were dry; cracking. I noted that I was probably dehydrated so I picked up the water bottle that was setting on the counter. There was only a couple of ounces left but it sounded like a good idea to finish it off. So I guzzled it down. Mistake number one, instantly I felt this pain in my stomach, it was weird like nothing I have ever felt before. A legitimate pain, for what, from what? From drinking water? It all happened rather quickly as the world blurred and I remember I needed to just brace myself and get through the pain. Kinda like a brain freeze when your drinking a slurpee too fast. The pain hits but it quickly passes. So I braced myself and tried to breathe through it but I felt really dizzy. I must have thought it would be a good idea to go sit down because I took a step, mistake number two.
The next thing I knew I was struggling to open my eyes. My kids were hunched down over me, calling my name. "Mom! Mom!" I caught a glimpse of their faces. "Mom, how many fingers am I holding up?" It was my son and I desperately wanted to respond, but I couldn't put my thoughts together. I would glance but was unable to put together a response. "Mom, how many fingers am I holding up?" I tried to concentrate. I tried to bring the light back into focus. I tried to answer the question. I took a breath and tried to put the pieces together. A few times I tried to say how many fingers there were but it didn't make sense. Why was I on the floor? Oh, yeah the water. The pain in my stomach. "Mom, how many fingers am I holding up?"
Things started clearing up a little. My mind regaining it's senses. "Three." I mumbled.
Relief on their faces. Words expressed I don't remember. I remember feeling like I needed to get up off the floor. To take a look at myself. The desire to put the pieces together. I stood up and stood in front of the mirror. Something was off. What was it? I put my hand to my face and instantly felt the pain. My nose,  ^&*t I must have hit my face as I fell. Then came the blood. Surprisingly, not pouring out of my nose. No not even a dribble. Yet, there it was collecting in the back of my throat. I coughed and spit into the toilet. The brightest red blood. Not good.
I wanted to lie down. I needed to lie down. The kids came and checked on me. What was it? What caused it? Was I hungry? The water was now boiling on the stove, so my daughter said she would make some pasta.
Things seemed so fuzzy. Confusing.
I called my husband, ER would say this was mistake number three as I should have called an ambulance. But in my defense I wasn't really thinking clearly. I remember sounding quiet and weak. He had just arrived back to his warehouse over an hour away after being gone on business for over two weeks. He assured me he was on his way home and asked me to call my mom or dad to have them check on me.
So I called. Dad answered and I tried my best to relay what happened and asked if one of them could come over to check on me because I wasn't sure if I was ok or not. He was sending my mom over. Thankfully they only live a couple miles away.
While I waited for her to arrive I tried to bring things into focus. My bedroom looked blurred around the edges. Like I could focus on one thing but everything around it was gray and black. Not great, I thought. My son has a sign on his door across the hall and I could see it. Even better I could read it. Well, that's good.
More blood. Then I noticed the shaking. Whole body tremors. Was I cold? Not really.
I laid there trying to relax. My daughter brought me a bowl of mac-n-cheese; gluten free. I love that girl. I ate. I winced. The chewing motion made my nose throb. But since I wasn't sure what caused the black out I forced myself to eat. If it was because the water hit my empty stomach then I better get something in my stomach. And my daughter made it. Mom arrived as I ate.
"How are you?" "What happened?" I told her I though I hit my face on the vanity when I passed out. I could see the concern on her face as she tried to figure out what to do. I told her I thought I should maybe get it checked out in case it was a concussion. Out came her phone and my daughters iPod as they google searched concussion. Hit your head. CHECK Do you feel: dizzy, confused, unable to focus? CHECK Any nausea? no Headache? CHECK Then my daughter read a line, if you hit your head and lose consciousness go to the ER immediately to get checked out. Loss of consciousness. CHECK. So it was decided to get checked out.
My daughter not wanting to get left behind, quickly changed. I took the last bit of my mac-n-cheese and prepared myself to stand up.
I still felt a little light headed. Not real steady but steady enough to walk on my own. I asked for my tennis shoes because I did not want to wrestle with the laces on my boots.
As we pulled out the driveway the discussion turned to where they should take me. Urgent Care is only 2 minutes from the house. Could they handle concussion? We decided to send my daughter in with the following statement, which I remember repeating it many times as she wanted to get it just right. "My mom passed out and hit her head. Can she be seen here at Urgent Care or should we take her to the ER?" She barely got it out as the lady quickly insisted I needed to go to the ER. So hospital it was.
By now the head ache was definitely present. It was more evident with each passing pothole.
The ER was empty. My admittance immediate. In the triage, my vitals quickly taken. She asked me a series of questions. Except when she asked for my height, I told her my birth date.  Oops. I know the difference. I was gently chastised for not calling an ambulance.  I remember thinking, hey, at least I didn't drive myself this time. Then the calls came over head, "Neuro to ER. Head trauma." As she took my vitals she explained things were going to happen pretty quick. That I was going to have a cat scan. Then a few other tests. As soon as she got the words out of her mouth, the tech arrived with the wheelchair and I was whisked away.
The CAT scan was pretty uneventful. The took a look in my brain to make sure there was no bleeding on the brain. As for my nose, no scan of that, but maybe I would came back later for one if the doctor or I thought it was necessary.
Wheeled back to ER and I had a bed all ready for me, with my mom and daughter waiting in it.
Then there was the EKG. More vitals.
The gown. The trip to the bathroom to pee in a couple. Except when I got there the seat was covered with blood and I refused to go in it. I was redirected down the hall. I walked. Alone. Slowly but steady. All to pee in a cup. I had my gown and my cords, yet I was still fully dressed from the waist down. It was all rather awkward. The fumbling. The peeing. The washing of my hands. Awkward. Yet there was the reassurance of the pull cord should I need assistance. Thankfully, I did not need assistance.
Back to the bed. More vitals. A visit from the doctor. A full recount of what happened. Apparently, my story jived with a certain medical condition in which the vagus nerve decides to freak out. Sending messages to your brain that causes it to go AWOL. Hence, the loss of consciousness. Most likely caused by dehydration. Then he checked my nose, deciding it wasn't broke because I did not scream in utter agony nor did I punch him in the face when he prodded it asking where the pain was. Instead, I winced and said, there, when he hit the spot. Of course there was a chance I had a small fracture that could be detected by CAT scan if I so chose to go that route. But it did not look serious to him so it was completely my choice on whether or not to proceed with that. Even though honestly, there is not much that would be done, except let time heal it. Hmmm..let me think. Nope. Don't think I want another scan then. The verdict: I am a low risk person, so he did not think it was going to be anything serious. Get rehydrated by IV with a liter of fluids and take a Tylenol.
Tylenol, God bless the Tylenol. They offered something stronger if I thought I would need it but by this point, my mind was functioning again so I kept with the Tylenol.
It felt good to be returning to normal. The blurry vision was gone. The head ache significantly dulled. The nose? Still ouchy but not uncomfortably so.
I took a picture and posted to facebook.
Hubby arrived. WELCOME HOME HUBBY! Not really what I had planned for his homecoming.
Mom and daughter went home.
And we settled in to hurry up and wait.
It took a long time until someone came in to do the IV. When they finally did, my veins were showing signs of the dehydration as they were having a hard time finding a vein. Attempt number one was a fail. Darn it! So my nurse came in and she put the tourniquet on. Why do they have to be so pinchy? She didn't find a vein she felt confident about. Time to call in the vein whisperer. He came in and whispered to my veins, really he did. At first he did not see anything he liked so he switched to the other arm, as the previous ladies had done. He thumped and pumped and finally found one he thought he could work with. He got it! (You should totally read that in the same voice as the announcer for MSU basketball.) Woo hoo! Drip drip drip.
The CAT scan came back good. The blood work came back good. Besides my nose, all was good.
40 minutes later, we were on our way.

When I got home I checked in with my boy. He had been a little shaken by the event and he helped me piece together a few missing pieces. When I did a reenactment for my hubby, my son stopped me. "No! That is not what happened. We heard the huge thump and ran out. You were lying face down!" I had thought I hit my head on the counter and rolled off it to land on my back as my first recollection was face up.  As it turns out I probably did a full frontal face plant. OUCH! No wonder my nose hurts.

 This morning I woke up with lesson plans on my mind. I was having an internal war with myself. Go to work? You probably shouldn't. But I don't want to let my kids down. Your kids deserve the best you, not a tired, confused you. Even though I do feel much better I know my head is still recovering. Do I call in? I probably should. What about....? Ah, the torment. Yet I knew that a day of rest and hydration is really what I needed.
So a day of rest is what I chose. It was the best choice. For me and my students.
I sent off a quick lesson plan for my sub. Checked in with my boss, who was relieved I was staying home to rest. She thought I may try to be stubborn and come in anyways. ME!??

Destined to a day of rest I checked in on facebook and received the well wishes of my friends and loved ones. Thank you everyone for the support!  While the boys slept, I decided to watch The Fault in Our Stars. When I told my girlfriend my plan, she said, "I'm not sure crying will help with the dehydration." Muwahaha. I must still be a little dehydrated because while I cried, I did not have the overwhelming flood one might expect. Time to drink another Gatorade. 




As it stands now, I have a minor black eye.

I have some swelling and a dull head ache. I also have an afternoon appointment with the chiropractor. I felt it was best to get checked out to make sure all was well. I did fall on my face and experience some head trauma after all.

Now, I think it's time for a nap. May sleep be the only loss of consciousness I experience from this day forward.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Warning: the following is one big conglomerate of thoughts, read on if you dare.

It started with the Power Ball. Good Lord that is a lot of money! I didn't even buy a ticket but that did not stop my mind from playing what if games. You know what I am talking about, what if I won the lottery and was suddenly a millionaire/ billionaire, what would I do? First, I would pay off all existing debt. Probably buy a new car. Then I would start donating by the thousands and millions to the various charities and people I hold dear to my heart. My church, my kids children's theater, my school, the garden project, the food bank, the Homeless Angels ( I would totally buy the Magnusson hotel for Mike Karl and a few other while we are at it,) I would bless as many people as humanly possible and then I would still show up at work the next day because I love my job. I really do. And I really would do all of those things and more.
Yet I didn't buy a ticket. No millions of dollars in my bank roll. :( Yet also :)
Why the smiley face? All this dreaming led me to a pretty amazing thought. I don't need millions of dollars to make a difference. I can make a difference right now! Whatever I hold dear, I can influence now. I can give my time. I can give my resources. I can use my gifts and talents to bless others. To help organizations. I can use my network. And sure I can throw some cash on some causes.
I am extremely blessed to be following in the footsteps of family members with a heart for community service. My mother is a champion volunteer!  I remember as a toddler running the hallways at school long before I ever attended. Why? Because my mom is awesome and she volunteered. I can remember charity benefits with my mom at the helm, raising money for friends who lost their home to a fire and another friend who lost her dad to cancer. Mom has a way of seeing needs and doing what she can. I get this from her. We do what we can, when we can, for whomever we can. Because we can and someone should, so why not us?
Mom and I have had many volunteering adventures together. The garden being one of my favorites. This weekend we opened a new door. We stepped foot into the Magnusson Hotel and were introduced to the Homeless Angels. Mom felt led to go and just see what they needed. She showed up ahead of me and did what she does best, dove right in. This weekend they were gearing up for what they call their Street Store. Over the last three weeks, donations have been pouring in. All these donations needed to be sorted and set up. I have had a few bags sitting idle in the closet for a couple months. I sorted them out and took them on over. Once I was through the doors, I too dove right in. Sort sort sort, all day long, sort sort sort while I sing this song. Clothes, shoes, linens, hats and scarves. The generosity of the community was amazing to see. This organization is also amazing! They are a non-profit with no one on a bank roll. 100% of donations go to help the homeless in our community. While there we met a few of the guys. People I am sure I have seen on the streets. Some of them asking for money on corners. Another walking around with a box on his head, a voice for the homeless, the happiest homeless guy you will ever meet. This weekend homelessness in my world gained a name.
A name. Isn't it true that we can ignore many things until they become personal? When do they become personal? When we can attach a name to it. There are many things in my world that have names attached to them. To protect the identity of those I hold dear, I will refrain from sharing their names publicly but know that with each of these things there is a name attached. A story. A life. A mark on my life. Childhood Leukemia. Breast Cancer. Adoption. Abortion. Gay. Lesbian. Transgender. Gay Marriage. Divorce. Abandoned. Advocate. Athlete. Refugee. Survivor. Deaf, Blind. Bi-polar. Depressed. Those who have taken their own lives. Others whose lives were taken....
Oh how I could go on. Each of these people have shaped my world. I realize that not everyone thinks the same as I do but it is each of these people, each of their stories that form my world view. My beliefs. My desire to respond to the world with love rather than hatred.
This last week, a dear, sweet teenager that I had the privilege of meeting, took her life. She was the same age as my son and served alongside him at Fenner Nature Center. She had an infectious smile. She was a lover of people. Always inclusive. She had hugs for any and all that wanted one. She was an AMAZING artist! A fantastic poet. She was a life full of promise. Yet the burdens of this world weighed her down and for reasons people can only speculate, she felt this life was no longer worth living.
Which sets my mind down a whole different path. Friends, your lives are worth living! You have so much to give. You are loved far more than you will ever realize. I know Sydney was. At her funeral today, the church was overflowing. I would venture to guess over 500 people came to remember  her and celebrate her life. She was loved. Yet she may not have realized just how true this was. She changed lives for the better. She smiled at people when they themselves felt the darkness, she was a light to champion them on another day.
There is now a hole. A candle on her desk at school. A remembrance of someone brilliant, gone far too soon.
Following the funeral, the girls and I headed over to the Street Store to volunteer. People were lived up at the door when we arrived. The doors had opened early to get people out of the cold. Throughout the afternoon we folded, handed out, sorted some more, put more things out, we smiled, I held a sweet baby girl that was screaming her head off until I put her on my lap and started talking to her. She calmed right down. Relief for some weary parents. I ended up holding her for nearly an hour as mom was trying to retrieve her keys from inside their locked car. I rocked and sang, she melted into my arms and fell asleep for a bit. I saw the homeless today. Some rode the bus. Others walked. All had need. All were blessed. They had a gentlemen giving haircuts. Ladies painting nails. They had food. They took what they needed, free of charge. Others from the community came as well, some on the brink of homelessness themselves. The poverty was obvious. Needs were met. The Homeless Angels and their slew of volunteers pulled off a pretty spectacular event.
I got to be a part of it. Their story and my story collided and I won't be the same because of it.
Not every person on a street corner is a con artist or scammer. Some of them are truly homeless. All of them have names.
What we do matters my friends! Don't cry over losing lottery tickets. Take the resources and talents you have and do something with them. Get out in our community and make it better. Smile at people. Hug people. Tell others they matter. Tell your loved ones you love them. Ask yourself what you would have done if you won the lottery and do it anyways.

Oh and if you have clothes you no longer need, consider donating them to the Homeless Angels Street Store because rumor has it that they will be doing it again real SOON!

I love you!


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Of iPhones, Books, and a Walk on a Drizzly Day

It has been 201 days since I got my iPhone.
When I purchased the smart phone, I wondered how the device would change me, if it would change me. I had held off for years on joining the club of smart phone users. I was content with my old Jurassic cell phone, with its limited abilities. But as the phone deteriorated, my curiosity peaked. If I was going to have to get a new phone, why not invest in an iPhone?
I had a lot of lost time to make up for. Apps to download. Games to play. Music to reconnect with. Out of the gate it consumed me. My eyes constantly on the 4.7-inch screen. My hands bearing the 4.55 ounces.
I stopped reading. It is by no coincidence that according to my Good Reads account the last book I read was submitted June 29th, the same week I got my iPhone. I had spent the previous year on a quest to consume books and then it stopped, abruptly, with the purchase of a phone. I had successfully read 122 books in a year and then, zip zero zilch. For 195 days I did not read a single book, unless you count the Math Expressions Curriculum and a spattering of early education math books. Sure I read. I read newspaper articles and opinions, magazines, blogs, memes, and facebook posts. But a true book? Nope, not a one.
In September, I started work. More on that in another post. But for the record, I love my job! With the start of my new job, my schedule drastically changed. Gone are the days of staying in my jammies all day. Gone are the days of scheduling appointments while the rest of the free would worked.
In the fall my daughter accepted the lead role in the production of Through the Looking Glass. My days soon were a whirlwind of work and then driving Alice to theater. Throw in a orthodontic appointments as both of the kids are now in braces. Top it off with just enough cooking and cleaning to maintain the house. This was my new life. To decompress I turned my eyes to the screen. I cranked my music. I played countless hours of Farm Hero. Sigh.
Now that Through the Looking Glass is over and I have a few months of working under my belt, I finally feel like I have a hang of this new world of mine.
Last week, the annual Good Reads Reading Challenge came across my inbox. I began to think about the last time I read. I began to think about how much time I spend on my phone. I decided to take the challenge and decided on 52 books as my reading goal for 2016. One book a week. It seems a reasonable goal especially if I can manage to turn off the phone for a few hours a week.
My first book of 2016 has been sitting on my end table since my girlfriend gave it to me sometime last summer. It has been silently beckoning me to pick it up.  On Monday with my Reading goals firmly established, I did just that. I picked it up. On Tuesday, I was so captivated I could not put it down. The book? Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. An utterly fascinating memoir of her month of madness followed by her remarkable recovery. The first book of the year, read, recorded and reviewed. Boom!
It felt great to be back in the realm of words on paper. So I picked up another book this friend of mine had lent me. This one had slid off the end table and found its way under my bed. I dusted it off, opened it up, and began a journey into the great outdoors. The read? Bill Byson's, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Oh, the humor! The delightful retelling of his adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail. I am only 175 pages in but I can tell you this, it has awakened my soul.
For those of you that know me in real life, you most likely know that I am a lover of nature. I am often happiest when surrounded with dirt. A sighting of a bird flitting about brings me true and immense joy. As I read over the last couple of days, I became acutely aware that recently, my time with the green earth has been non-existent. I have stopped to gaze at the night sky while walking into my house. I have appreciated animals in the field as I drove from point A to point B. But the last time I went on a hike, I could not tell you. Probably 200 days ago give or take a few. Damn iPhone!
Needless to say, the more I read the more I longed to get outdoors. Today I couldn't take it any longer, I HAD TO GET OUTSIDE. I had to go for a hike, a walk; it did not matter where, all I knew was that I had to get out and get out NOW! So I did. At first I hemmed and hawed, the weather was overcast. No, I was going, even if it ended up being only to the end of the road and back. I was walking somewhere.
As I walked, I breathed in the fresh, cold air. I appreciated the mist failing ever so lightly. I listened to the birds tweet and twitter. I pondered. I processed. I moved. I resolved. I reflected. I made my way along the South Lansing Pathway all the way to Summerplace. Also, known as my happy place, as some of my favorite people live there. I visited with friends over tea. I relished the moment of face to face conversation, made even better because I had exerted myself to get there.
On the way home, a ribbon of black birds threaded the sky as they flew from who knows where back to their nightly roost, most likely somewhere by Hawk Island or Crego Park. They cawed and called. At this point I recalled the birds I had seen while out walking: chickadees, a cardinal, a nuthatch, some starlings, and the too numerous to count ribbon of black birds. Yet the only mammals I had seen was a schnauzer and its human. It seemed odd to me that I had not seen anyone or anything else. A little ways up the path I rounded the curve to see a single buck. He shied into the woods as I approached. 20 feet off the path, protected behind a few trees, he watched me intently. I smiled. I took a picture. I was thankful down to the depths of my inner most being. I ended up walking 4 miles round trip and it felt GLORIOUS!
One of the thoughts that I pondered on the most during my hike was my desire to do more hiking. 16 years ago, a girlfriend and I planned out a trip to hike Isle Royale National Park. I purchased my tent, my pack. and pack stove. We did a trial run at Yankee Springs with packs on, where we hiked for the day. I was so excited, I could hardly wait for our trip. Then I found out I was pregnant. Morning sickness came and the trip was cancelled. Since that summer I have secretly, okay maybe not secretly, longed to hike somewhere, anywhere. The year my son was in Boy Scouts I got to go on an weekend outing, hiking the North Country Trail. I loved it! I will NEVER forget when we happened upon a porcupine. It was the highlight of the trip. As I am reading Bill's adventure my mind keeps going back to that moment. His inquisitive stare, his cautious assent up the tree. My mind goes to trips I have not yet taken, woods not yet explored, hikes not yet fulfilled. Isle Royale.  Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Maybe the Appalachain Trail. More of the North Country. Perhaps somewhere out west.
I know the first step in fulfilling those dreams started today.
Today, I have a new resolve. Put down the phone. Pick up more books. Get outdoors. Plan an amazing summer adventure off the beaten path. Find a hiking partner.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
John Muir, The Mountains of California

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

This Is the Way

Yesterday was the big day! It has been nearly 15 years since I last interviewed for a job. I have been out of the workforce since the day I went into labor with my sweet boy. Over a decade ago.
I have been anticipating this moment all summer. I have been praying about it, pondering it, dreamed about! Seriously, I don't know how many times I have woke up in the morning with interview answers on my mind. I was ready!
Ready for the interview! Not so much what to wear to the interview. I tried to go to the store last week after I got news that the interview was scheduled. It was overwhelming. I am fashionably challenged. Nothing on the racks was jumping out at me, so I left. In the end, I called on my sister and the powers of the internet to help me out. She brought business attire to my door step. I took a look at the clothing she provided, opened up my closet to see what I had that could possibly work and then started trying on outfits. I knew I could not trust my own fashion sense, so I decided to call upon friends on facebook to help me out. I posted six pictures and let the opinions roll in. It is clear that many of my friends DO have fashion sense. They also have business sense and were able to provide fantastic feedback. What to wear, what not to wear, accessories, opinions, critiques...it was fabulous! It was a blessing! In the end I went with a pair of black dress pants and a gray crinkled shirt. I wish I could describe it accurately for you but it is really not in my skill set. Oh wait, I can show you.

I made a trip to Claire's Boutique and found a couple necklaces and some earrings. This went to a private vote in a message to an audience of one, a trusted fashion peep. My daughter was in the passenger seat laughing at me. "Mom, you are just like Lauren Marano's character in Bad Hair Day." Apparently, she put up every decision she needed to make for her prom, dress, hair style, shoes, accessories, online asking for her friends input. Um, so I guess this was me. As far as the clothing and accessories were concerned. I did, however, make my own choices on shoes and hair.
If you took part in my fashion poll yesterday, THANK YOU! Your thoughts and opinions made my day. The fact that you took the time to reply, mattered and was appreciated! You, my friends, gave me the confidence to go into that interview and rock it!
I walked into the interview room and faced my interviewers, all five of them,with confidence. You read that right, FIVE! Five on one. Five on one, people! Present was the Dean of K-2, the Dean of 3-5,  the Dean of Middle School, the Dean of Intervention, and the principal. If I wasn't so excited that may have intimidated me, but I was excited. And confident! So I sat myself down, with a huge smile on my face, and answered  a plethora  of questions. About my time homeschooling, assessment tests, my strengths, my weaknesses. Funny part of the interview. The biggest weakness in the forefront of my mind at that moment was my lack of fashion sense. I shared with them how being out of the business world for so long and my lack of fashion I had taken to facebook to help me, because I did need help, with my interview attire. We all got a good laugh. The interview continued with situational scenarios. It was not difficult to reply to these as real life had already provided the answers. What would I do if faced with a highly distracted child and I was trying to get their attention? Been there, done that. Have I ever had to deal with an irate parent, how did you handle it? Um, YES! Again real life answer. Multiple situations, all of which I have lived out, over the course of the last 10-15 years. They smiled, they nodded, they affirmed; I sensed they liked me.
It has been on my mind continuously the last couple months how God has brought this all together. It is not often that we can see the big picture of our lives, the tapestry that has been shaped and molded by our experiences; how they come together to make something beautiful. This has been my reflection. I have been out of the workforce but I was not stagnant. All those experiences over the last two decades have shaped me into the woman I am today. All those unpaid volunteer hours were worth it! What I have done, made a difference in the moment to those I have served, but it also had a purpose for me. Shaping, molding, refining, defining, preparing me for this next season of my life. God has had a plan through it all. A path I have needed to follow.
This is the way, walk in it! I walk amazed.
I am walking into a new season of life and I am ready!

Updated 9/1/15 9:30am- Position offered and accepted! Woot woot!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pondering

The last four weeks I have had some extra time. Time in which I found myself often pondering the past, the present and the future. What are my future goals? What are my expectations? How can I best achieve those goals? What is God's plan for my life? What skills do I have to offer my community and future employers?

Yesterday, a simple conversation set into motion a potential new course for my life. While I am still in the early stages of this consideration it sent my mind reeling as I considered the possibilities, my capabilities, and my experiences.

It is no secret I am a community volunteer. I have offered my abilities and talents to many different organizations and purposes over the last twenty years. Hours and hours, countless hours, thousands of hours, I have given of my time. There are moments I have wondered the worth of that time. I choose to believe that it is invaluable. That it has been appreciated. That I have offered hope, encouragement and resources that have changed lives for the better. Changed my community for the better. It is what keeps me doing what I do, especially when there is no monetary gain.   This is not to say there has been no personal gain in what I have done. I think that is what I am realizing this morning. I have gained life experiences that are uniquely mine. I have a skill set unlike anyone else I know, simply from my many experiences. I may not currently have a college degree with my name on it. Yet I have so much to offer.

I started thinking through  the various organizations I have volunteered with over the last two decades and skills I have learned while serving with them. This not a full comprehensive list but the following are things that have helped me grow as a person.

Flight of Hope Chrysalis- Logistics Coordinator, Lay Director, Board Member
Logistically overseeing large group events of 100+ people including site selection, inventory, recruiting man power, scheduling, team building, working with outside facilities, involvement on a board of directors, responsibility for youth, team work and cooperation.

Trinity Church- Early Childhood volunteer, CR and Choir Director
Participating in the care of young children. Understanding the vulnerability of youth and abuse prevention measures. Public safety and security. Mentoring children. Weekly relationship opportunities. Growing as a musician and director. The ability to command and direct 70 students in an orderly manner. Exposure to at risk children and their families.

Greater Lansing Garden Project- Community Garden Leader
Registration, plotting and assigning of plots. Unifying culturally diverse people. Cultural understanding and awareness. Water management. Communication with partners. Advocating for and distributing resources. Learning a foreign language. Youth gardening; sharing my love of nature and gardening experiences with youth. Self-educating to better serve my gardeners, I did not start out gardening with any experience.

Visions Nightclub-
Trusting God in all things! The value of a safe place. Communication. I found I had a voice. Leading peers. The art of being available. How to listen to others. The power of prayer.

Potter Park Zoo- Docent
Leading large groups on educational experiences throughout the zoo as well as on outreaches. Expanded my science knowledge. Learned how to communicate with and take command of large groups. How to be both engaging as well as relevant, knowing your audience. How to set realistic expectations for large group movement and involvement. Public safety. How to handle a variety of animals for education. 

Hawk Island Triathlon- volunteer
The concept that every person has a role and every role is important to a successful event. Behind the scene preparation. Registration. Finish line chip collection and medal distribution. Encourager. Clean-up.

CHESS- Co-op teacher, field trip coordinator
Lesson plans. Public speaking. Cooperative learning. Managing and engaging varying ages of children. Classes I led while working with Enrichment Day included; Michigan History, PE, Destination Imagination, Life Skills and Nature Study. As a tutor I led various Science courses. As a field trip coordinator I covered every aspect of field trips; communication with the site liaisons, registration, fee collections, transportation, overseeing arrival and departure, covering expectations and objectives with other leaders.

Fenner Nature Center- community volunteer
Public speaking. A love for birds. An understanding of our local natural habitats. Maintaining animal exhibits. Participation in community events. Paying attention to the simple, yet beautiful things that surround us.

R Academy- homeschool teacher
I learned to see each child as an individual. Recognizing strengths and weaknesses. Lesson planning. How to follow a curriculum. How to think outside of the box. How to make learning relevant. How to set learning goals and objectives. Responsibility. Relearned every aspect of early education. A renewed love of learning. Solidified my understanding of key concepts by teaching them. How to maximize resources. Developed a lifelong partnership with our local library. I have learned how to see things through the lens of a child, not taking for granted the many opportunities and blessings we experienced.

When you mash all of these things together with my work experience prior to having children, you get me. A culturally aware, responsible, caring individual who loves youth, especially those at risk, that is ready to encourage, educate and change this world for the better.

I can not wait to see where God leads me in the future and what new skills I may obtain. I'm ready.

Side note- I am looking for people to use as references. Send me a PM if you are willing and able.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shameless Pleasures

The phrase "guilty pleasure" does not apply as I feel no guilt over enjoying the following this last week.
*I cranked my music up as loud as I wanted and not once did someone ask me to turn it down or turn it off.
*I spent two hours chatting with a friend over hot chocolate and essential oils. It fed my soul. Thanks Laura!
*One morning I went back to bed after dropping the kids off to school.
*A long relaxing bath.
*I took a moment to listen to the birds sing at the garden.
*I played Farm Heroes and not once did the internet go out because too many users were trying to use the same signal.
*The cat curled up to me and no one stole her from my arms.
*The dog has been my shadow, my protector.
* I have knocked things off my to-do list. While work may not sound pleasurable, during the month of May Madness (gardens, theatre, dance, and choir) time is precious and things often go undone. Seeing them done is rewarding. 

Next up: Lunch with my girl Mindy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Transitions

As I type the cat is lying at my feet so I am not alone, but the house is empty of all human companions. This morning for the first time in his 14 years of life my son entered the public school system as a student. It appears that our homeschooling days have officially come to an end.
God has been preparing me for this moment for awhile now. At times it seemed the day would never arrive and that we would keep my boy home throughout high school. Yet, I sensed that the transition was coming. While he is in no way excited as his sister was, he too is ready. I am sure he will do fine. Some have asked, why start at the end of the year? It is a valid question. When we finally made the decision I sat down with the dean to go over our options. We both felt it best to start now for a couple of reasons. At their school they do placement tests three times a year. His class is scheduled for these two test this week. So he will be taking them right alongside his peers. This will help us determine many things. Where is he at academically? Their school has three tiers for placement; novice, grade level and honors. They also offer summer school for those currently behind. Since he is more hands on and mechanically minded, there is a possibility he will need some assistance to get up to speed in some areas. Or, he could be totally on track. It is hard to say. The test will tell. Another reason to start now is to ease any anxiety. The end of the year is more relaxed which will give him a chance to make a few friends, get to know the routine and get his mind around all things school. Anyone can do just about anything for 4 weeks. This will help over the summer too as he will not be worried about transitioning in the fall. He will know what to expect.

So what about me? What do I do now that both kiddos are in school? Career? College? Continue with community involvement? As it will only be four weeks until summer break, I am not making any decisions right now. I will take the time to relax, clean, set up some routines, visit with friends and spend time at the garden. I will take a moment to breathe. Maybe I will finish going through the math program or read a whole stack of books. Maybe I will go on long hikes and soak in the sights and sounds of nature. Maybe I will blog more. Oh the possibilities.

I don't know completely what next year will look like and that is okay. I am trusting that is the right thing for now. I am trusting that God has a plan for me and my house. He's got this and we have Him.

Lord, as we walk through this transition be with us. Guide us through the unknown. Bring my boy, your perfect peace that surpasses all understanding. Help him to make friends. Help him to focus on the tasks given. Help him to thrive and succeed, in whatever or wherever he is. Protect him and keep him safe. Be with me and help me to know what I am to do. Guide my steps as I pursue my future. Help me to not rush the process but be content with each day. I thank you for the many wonderful years we had together. All the adventures. The memories. The blessings. I thank you! May my children continue to find favor, now and forever. In Jesus Name. AMEN!

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Long, Rewarding Day

I forgot my camera so I will have to record the day with my words.

I arrived at the apartment complex at 9am. Summer Place. It is a place of diversity and refuge. All of its 130 families that reside there are refugees from countries all over the world. English is not their native tongue. For all but the young English is their second language.

For the last week I had been knocking on doors and filling out garden registration forms. For nearly all the residents, the desire for a garden is strong. For many it is coming back to their farming roots. Generations of farmers, now in a new land, longing to connect to the land. Others it is a place of community respite, a fresh breath of air, new life, hope. Yet others still, it is survival, sustenance for their families. 

The field lay freshly plowed. The people gathered in expectation and excitement. Garden day had arrived.

Measurements were taken. Multiplied and divided. A plan was drawn out. Pathways devised. Considerations made. Trying to be as fair as possible on a piece of land that was not a perfect rectangle, rather odd shapes pieced together. Yet a plan was made, plots for all 96 registered gardeners were determined. Measuring tapes came out as stakes went in and the plan was put into action. Words of encouragement as the plots came into being, quarter of the way, half way, almost finished. As the plotting was finalized the gardeners lined the sides in anticipation.

I sat down for a few moments to draw up a map which I used to put family names and apartment numbers on. It serves as the main tool to keep the peace and eliminate boundary disputes. It was also the last time I sat down for a long time.

With map in place and eager residents. I began the monumental task of assigning all 96 plots to the people. I had a few special request during registration, which I honored. Then I had people stand next to the plot they desired and from one end of the property to the other, we filled in the spots. With an amazing Americorp member, Hilliary, by my side. She marked the stakes as I marked the map. Slowly, deliberately, we made our way. After our first time through, we stopped for a brief drink, then went back over it again.

Just as we finished our second pass, with a large majority of gardeners placed, the compost arrived. I have witnessed this event before, yet it always makes me smile. As the property manager describes it, "All the worker bees are at it." For the next six hours, the property was abuzz with activity.

The sun beat down. People beat the earth with maddock, hoes, and shovels. Compost was added. Boundary lines more clearly defined. Some with string; others with trenches.

I witnessed the human condition; compassion, greed, cultural divisions, cultural unity, team work, resourcefulness, hard work, satisfaction.

I settled disputes as they came. One woman insisted she have the plot already assigned to another family. Over and over she insisted. Over and over I insisted that she could choose any other plot not yet assigned, one directly next to the plot she so insisted she have. In the end she relented and took the spot I recommended. 

Another came over a cultural difference. An elderly African woman had asked her friend, A Burmese if he would help her grow food, as he had previous years. When the other African women saw that he had plotted their spots together they were furious. The women told me to change the boundary without her present, yet I had witnessed the exchange in the morning. The women herself had said to give her spot to the man, explaining the arrangement. I refused to do anything without the women's direct consent. When she came, they tried to convince her that he had stolen from her. He had not, for he is a man of integrity and great compassion. When the man arrived, with such kindness and gentleness, he defused the situation. All was well. He was growing her food, he would share all that he had. Later, in the day I found out he is well known in his country. A famous poet. A man whose words have caused revolutions, resolve and change. Although at a price, he has been imprisoned three times and is currently in exile. I am thankful he has found refuge here in Lansing.

As the hours ticked by I was brought gifts of bananas and oranges. Much appreciated as I did not pack any food. I sat with a young woman and had hand-ground tea of fresh herbs and spices on her porch.

As soon as the school bus came, the grounds were overflowing with children. Many went to work in the garden with their parents. A small group of them gave me hope for the future. An Iraqi boy, whose parents were still working, claimed their families spot. He had the desire to get their spot ready as he was witnessing all those around him doing. After being chased out of the compost by a well-meaning woman, I encouraged him it was fine to take some for his family. As soon as this happened. A group of 7 or 8 kids of four ethnicities, came to help him. For nearly an hour, the small group worked together, ages most likely between 9-12, encouraging each other, smiling and laughing as they worked. It was beautiful.

Some residents came hoping to get a spot at the garden. This is always hard. I worked so hard throughout the week to make sure everyone was given a fair and equal opportunity to get a spot. I knocked on every door at least twice, sometimes three times. I drew up forms with final notice stamped on it in red explaining they must register by Weds. May 13. Yet still, people came saying they did not have a spot. I wonder if some of these were people who refused to open the door and no matter how many different ways I tried to explain the garden, they said no. I do not want. I do not need. Only to find out that yes, they do want. They do need. Language barriers are tricky. For those who did not receive, they will wait one week to see if other spots go unclaimed. If all are claimed they will be given a raised bed on the other side the property. Thankfully we have this option.

The day went on. So much was accomplished in such a short time. I was fed rice with bean soup for dinner. My daughter came and entertained the younger crowd while their parents toiled in their gardens. She taught them how to do somersaults, cartwheels and back bends. They played hide and go seek. Between her and my mother they had the littles laughing and having fun.

At 7:30pm, our family friend arrived to return the tools back to our garden.  It was a long, rewarding day. I arrived home, exhausted with a sunburn. I arrived feeling accomplished and grateful for the time well spent.

Kudos to the property manager, Ray, for providing the space, resources and opportunity for the garden. I know his passion to reach this community of refugees is greatly appreciated. Also, thanks to the Garden Project for the support in placing the garden plots, seeds, plants, compost and encouragement. My mother, whose presence is always appreciated. Bob for transporting tools. My kids for their help at various times of the day. And the people of Summer Place. As I see your faces, learn your names, hear your stories, and fellowship with you whether at the table or the garden, my heart grows with love and appreciation. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In Which I Reflect

I have one foot in the home school world and another in the foot of public school. One child still educating at home while the other is enrolled at a local charter academy. It makes me reflect on many things, evaluate.

Mommy wars: I never have liked them. My philosophy is every one is doing the best they can with the circumstances and resources they have. I am uber grateful that I have not faced any (known) backlash in the homeschool world for our decision to enroll DD. For all I know we are being talked about behind our backs but I choose not to dwell on that. I think about all the years we have homeschooled and while we have faced curiosity and questions, I don't recall people being mean or judgmental about our decision.
Hey Mommas! Don't let others determine your happiness. Stand by your choices for your children. Stop the mommy wars. Stop comparing your child and choices to others. It can start in pregnancy and follow you all the way through your life if you let it. Midwife or hospital. Circumsision or uncircumcised. Breast fed or bottle. Vaccinations or non-vac. Work or stay at home. Cry it out or co-sleep. Organic. Public school, private school, home school, or boarding school. What books your kids are allowed to read. Allowances. Privileges. Oh, stop already.
As for me and my house. That is my philosophy. My husband and I make our decisions based on what is right for our family. That is all.

What to do with the boy? I am really trying to sort this out right now. What is best for him? I seem to be at war with myself. Keep him at home and work with him one on one. Help him in his areas of struggle and keep plugging away even though at times it is difficult. Or, enroll him too. Allow him to experience answering to multiple teachers, homework, class room dynamics, different set of distractions.  He already has two teachers besides myself, science and writing, that he receives weekly homework from. Honestly, he has struggled. Would I be setting him up to fail? My boy struggles to stay on task. Or would the school be able to get him to respond in ways he has not been able to for me? It is an inner war that I have not yet determined the answer.

Homeschool mommas, Don't beat yourself up! I know the struggle of am I doing enough. You are!

Yesterday, as I was driving home from school with my daughter she was sharing with me her day. Not sure if you heard all of the meaning in that last sentence. We had an awesome conversation.  She shared a synopsis of what they were working on in each class. Her conclusion, "Mom I  already know most of this stuff." Halleluiah, she is not behind, she is ahead. Social studies is taking a different approach then we have previously used so she opened up her social studies notebook and read me all of her notes! I was really excited about that. She liked what she was learning so much that she had to share it with me. I was able to connect the links of what she previously knew about the subject matter and the new stuff she had just learned. It would be fair to say that History was her least favorite subject while at home but she knows I love it. So she shared it with me. :) My mother was right! She told me that with her away all day she is going to have so much more to talk about. This momma is thankful!


I don't have all the answers. I have a God that does. I am trying to listen to His voice and do the best I can. I trust that everything is going to work out just fine.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

I Can't Believe She Just Went There

With public school comes homework. It is a reality for middle school students everywhere. Homework!
Since she had multiple productions of her show this weekend, homework was put off until tonight. Not an overwhelming amount. One math review page and her vocabulary workbook. Not a big deal, right? Wrong! Apparently it was enough to send my daughter over the edge. She insisted that she was unable to do her Math problems. I showed her how to do one, went over the review problems, wrote out the steps to take and told her to finish the work. She escalated. I calmly replied. She did a couple with me talking her through step by step. Then I asked her to do the rest. To which she escalated again. I decided to leave the room before I freaked out on her. I knew the issue was not that she was incapable of doing the work, she simply was not trying to.
I decided to escape to a different room and relax. Through the door she cries out, "You don't even care about my education!"
Oh! No! She! Did! Not!
"I absolutely DO care about your education!
I home schooled you because I care about your education.
I provided opportunities and resources throughout your life because I care about your education.
I supported your decision to try public school because I care about your education.
I sat down with the Dean to find the best possible solutions because I care about your education.
I contacted teachers to make sure your transition was as smooth as possible because I care about your education.
I always have and always will care about your education!
I will be your advocate because I care about your education.
Until I take my last breath on this earth I will help you to be a life long learner because I CARE!
Do not tell me I don't care."

So when you are ready to listen:
You are loved.
You can do whatever you make up your mind to do.
There are steps you can take to be successful. Take the steps.
Don't freak out, it's going to be okay.
Oh and to find the answer to percentages of a number.
First, change the percentage to a decimal.
Next, multiply the decimal and the whole number.
Count your decimal places.
Finally, write your answer in your workbook.
It looks like this:
40% of 60
.40 * 60
= 24
Love,
Mom