Lauren Hill 1995-2015

“I encourage everyone to cherish every moment with no worry about the past or anxiety about the future. Because the next moment is never promised. Never leave anything unsaid. I have learned to see the blessings in every moment and through every struggle, no matter how tough it might be. Nothing holds me back from living my life and chasing my dreams. I always finish what I start and see it through to the end. Never give up on your dreams. Find something to fight for; I fight for others.”

I’m not going to “get better” and it’s ok.

If you had asked me four years ago, when my failing health finally pushed me out of the workforce, what the hardest part about “being sick” was, I likely would’ve talked about the physical pain or mental anguish of facing my own mortality. Recently though, it’s been others’ response and receiving “feel better” sentiments. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them because I most certainly do appreciate anybody’s care and concern for me. It’s a cold world and any notion of warm in welcomed.

Maybe it was just easier to take ten years ago when I was hospitalized with “the unknown virus” and sky high fever for a week. Then the initial fibromyalgia diagnosis. Likely because that’s when I still believed I could get better. But when my miscarriage finally pushed my immune system out of whack and the vision loss pushed me over the mental edge, I was down for the count. It took another year before they found the antibodies and scleroderma attacking the tissue throughout my body, destroying my gastrointestinal tract and causing gastroparesis.

Now, the thing is … I’m not going to get better.

I realize people don’t want to hear this. I get that we wish things were different. People may even think I’m giving up, when in fact I’m simply giving in to the reality of my new life. This is something, through cycles of hoping and feeling disappointed, deciding to give up hope in order to avoid the pain of disappointment and the sadness and then the relief of surrender, that I’ve accepted in the years since my diagnosis.

This much I can tell you: Nonacceptance just increases suffering and I think the one thing we can all agree on, universally, is that we don’t wish to suffer. Acceptance doesn’t mean that I’m rolling over and taking it either.

It’s just that I have finally arrived at a point in my life that is all about accommodating to realities,  living a life worth living despite my limitations and appreciating so many ways in which I’ve “grown” only because of this illness. If it weren’t being trapped in my house and bound to my bed, I wouldn’t have realized how many of the little things I miss on a daily basis. Perhaps these are things that other people can appreciate without being sick and having so much time on their hands to roll things around in their brain, but for me, that’s what it took. For that, I’m actually very grateful.

Maybe at this point you are asking yourself what you should say or do if you have someone in your life with a chronic illness. The one thing I want you to take away from this is that we don’t need you to make it better.  We need your time, compassion and most importantly, your love. Only love can make it rain the way we need it to. Only love can quench the thirst we have for life that we may be having a hard time experiencing for ourselves. Texts and emails are great, but phone calls and visits are more sincere. Your time is such a precious gift of investment in our knowing our worth hasn’t diminished because of our illness.

Better a single day of life seeing the reality of arising and passing away than a hundred years of existence remaining blind to it.”—THE BUDDHA

Chris’ Healthy Heart Fund

Guys, this is my beloved cousin, Chris.

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On Sunday, February 8th Chris went to the ER with severe abdominal pain. The doctors at UNMH determined that he had a blood clot that was preventing blood flow to his kidneys.

Chris did not realize it at the time, but he was experiencing Heart-Failure.

Chris’ Heart-Failure is a side-effect from his pre-existing diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation or “A-FIB.” If not treated properly, A-FIB causes blood clots that can result in stroke, heart-attack and other dangerous outcomes.

Chris’ heart has been determined to be at a 20% ejection fraction measurement, where a “normal” heart should be between 50-70%. (This is a measurement of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction.)

…After 10 days of being closely monitored, Chris was released on Tuesday when medication began to stabilize his condition.

We hope to get Chris’ numbers up over time. His condition is not curable but it is manageable with medications and serious lifestyle changes.

Chris needs rest. He will rely on a number of medications for a while; some of them he will be taking for the rest of his life.

Chris still has a clot near his heart that is preventing him from getting a shock-treatment that would likely improve his situation.

Chris’ existing health insurance expires in March! His doctors have advised him not to go back to work until his overall health has improved considerably.

This fund will help assist Chris with medical bills and will help support a program of healthier eating.

Chris needs all the help he can get as he is transitioning to Medicaid (and whatever else he can apply for), during this financially stressful time.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/chris-nelson-woods-healthy-heart-fund/308050#.VOoKe414m7s.facebook

Adoption Day

Today was an exceptionally special day.

Today was the final adoption hearing which made official my husband being our children’s father.

Although they are not biologically his, he has always treated them as such and never complained or so much batted an eye at the responsiblities. He’s provided for them financially and emotionally. And he says it’s his privilege.

He is a true father.

We may not be traditional but we are a family. We are blessed and I am so grateful.
My cup runneth over…

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade?

As I anxiously await the turn of a new year (this one has been rough) I started to think about my year in review…. and it occured to me that we will also be turning over a whole new decade. That got me thinking about all the things that I have experienced in this past decade. Wowzer!

So, for a little bit of amusement and some reflection before moving forward….let’s review.

DECADE IN REVIEW

2000 – Moved out of my parent’s place, Bought my first car, Became a full time step-Mom, Became a stay-at-home Mom, Got pregnant, Got married, Moved out of hickville

2001 – Gave birth to my son, gallbladder surgery, separated from husband for 3 months, Moved, September 11th, Baby’s 1st Christmas

2002 – Moved, Conceived my daughter on my 23rd birthday, Moved

2003 – Gave birth to my baby girl, bought my first home – finally, Moved out of ghetto

2004 – Pickle had first seizure, Breast reduction (DD –> C),

2005 – Admitted to hospital for a week for a high fever, 5 year anniversary/vacation alone, Adopted my Pickle

2006 – Mom’s A-Fib, Went back to college, Marriage Counseling, The 27th Birthday, Husband doesn’t come home, Back to the workforce, Filed for divorce, Husband arrested for domestic violence, Separation,  best friend’s son killed, took a chance – accepted date w. Jer.

2007 – Divorce final, Dad’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, Jer proposes on 1 yr anniversary of day we met

2008 – Relearning happy, Wedding Planning, The Bachelor/Bachelorette Party, Married, First trip to California for honeymoon – Lake Tahoe, Pickle admitted to Rainbow Babies for week.

2009 IN REVIEW

January – Inaguration of our first African-American President, Barack Obama.

February – Jedi turns 8, Surgery to remove endometriosis and  tumor from left ovary -benign, Jer and I moved into OUR new home

March – Pickle turns 13 – I am now the mother of a teenage boy.

April – Diva turns 6/Jer turns 31 (same birthday), Jedi learns to ride his bike – no training wheels!

May – Surgery to remove left ovary after another tumor is found -benign!

June – Almost losing my father on Father’s Day.

July – Dad back to hospital after 4th of July, Dad’s 55th Birthday, First visit to Chicago for college graduation – Bachelors in Legal Studies. Turn 30.

August – Pickle started Middle School, left law firm where I had been for two years, met a wonderful legal mentor, celebrated my 1 year anniversary

September – Hired in by legal mentor, Trip to Kentucky for Labor Day weekend

October – Chest lumpectomy – BENIGN!, Court w. ex, Mom’s cancer scare

November – Took my daughter to her first concert – Miley Cyrus, Mom’s surrgery, Dad back to ICU, Court w. EX, 1st Thanksgiving in our new home

December – Dad back to hospital, Fibromyalgia diagnosis, 1st Christmas in our new home.

Do you realize that I got married, became the mother of three children, got divorced and remarried in the past 10 years? Wow!

I’ve learned sooooo, so much from all of this. I don’t even know where to begin. So much has been captured here, forever. Crazy, thankful for that.

The most important things I’ve learned all deal with God’s greatest gift: love.

I’ve learned that is that you have to love yourself before anyone else can. Children truly are the best teachers of your capacity to love and that love, true love truly is patient, it is kind, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I get that to my core.

With all this behind, whats coming has got to be a more smooth ride. I predict that my 30s are going to be the best years of my life. Here’s hoping anyway. And if not, the lessons I’ve learned now will only strengthen me for what’s to come.

Happy New Year!

Hope Floats

“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will… ”

The above quote is from one of my all time favorite movies, Hope Floats. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, I guess because it all hits so close to home. The starting all over after a failed marriage theme I suppose. The thing I never focused on was the ending though. The HAPPY ending. And as I was running errands today and listening to the soundtrack I finally listened to this track. Seems I was always playing the sad ones…and while it made me cry, they were happy tears.

I just wanted to put the lyrics out there…for Jer, with sincerest gratitude.

Jer, You’ve changed my life, my outlook on life, on men, on love….and whatdya know….hope floated back up. Thank- You, again and again, and again.

To Get Me To You

by Lila McCann

Well I, I still can remember times
When the night seemed to surround me
I was sure the sun would never shine on me
And I, I thought it my destiny
To walk this world alone
But now you’re here with me
Now you’re here with me

And I don’t regret the rain
Or the nights I felt the pain
Or the tears I had to cry
Some of those times along the way
Every road I had to take
Every time my heart would break
It was just something that I had to get through
To get me to you
To get me to you

Well I, I still can recall the days
When I had no love around me
Makes me glad for every day I have with you
And I, I look in your eyes and know
I’m right where I belong
And I belong with you
Always belonged with you

And I don’t regret the rain
Or the nights I felt the pain
Or the tears I had to cry
Some of those times along the way
Every road I had to take
Every time my heart would break
It was just something that I had to go through
To get me to you
To get me to you

And if I could I wouldn’t change a thing
Wouldn’t change a thing baby
Because your love was waiting there for me
Waiting there for me baby

And I don’t regret the rain
Or the nights I felt the pain
Or the tears I had to cry
Some of those times along the way
Every road I had to take
Every time my heart would break
It was just something that I had to get through
To get me to you
To get me to you

Braces yourselves …

I actually had an adult conversation with EX today.

It went pretty well. We were discussing moving up our hearing date with the divorce and got into talking about how difficult the whole thing has been. He was talking about being conflicted about everything going on, because there is a lot. Not only are we grieving the loss of whatever it is we had, but we are both trying to balance out new lives, new budgets, new roles, responsibilities and relationships. I started to tell him to be cautious with the new girl. I told him that I liked her and that she seemed nice, but I was worried he might start a pattern over. That it seemed similar to how our relationship started. Me being in a bad place and seeing someone else in a bad place that wanted to help. That I didn’t want him to take her for granted or vice versa. He said it wasn’t like that, that she had her own stuff going on and that I should understand because isn’t it different with Jer?

Well, yes it is, because #1- he’s not coming out of a marriage and #2- he doesn’t have kids. I’m not rescuing him. I’m not trying to help him in anyway.  My point was the similarity of EX coming out of his first marriage and getting immediately involved with me and him coming out of our marriage and getting immediately involved with her. It is similar in that way. Not that she is like me or anything like that, I don’t know her, I couldn’t say, but it is similar.

He told me that something had happened between them, that neither one of them was ready for, he said she didn’t think a guy like him existed and they fell in love. That was kinda hard to take to be honest. knowing somebody you tried to share your life with is moving on, is one thing, but to hear that it is, love … a little different. This is where your mind starts spinning … you start to ask questions and think about things that might not even be rational.

It occurred to me that his office Christmas party was tonight and that he would be going with her. Do you know that I actually bought myself a hot little number to wear to this thing tonight months ago? To look good for him? Do you know what it felt like to take it back? It was like that dress held so many more things and I just had nothing to do with it anymore. (sigh) I started thinking about how he probably wouldn’t even have this job if i hadn’t have encouraged him to go to that 2nd interview. What would’ve happened then?Iif he hadn’t have met certain people through that job and had their influences fueling the fire, would we be here now? Would he not have started staying out all hours of the night drinking with his boss and coworkers? If he hadn’t have had so much pressure put on him by his job, would he have drank so much? Would he have ignored his family the way he did? Or was it all inevitable? Honestly, he did those things before this job. Then I  wonder what kind of guy he is that she thought didn’t exist. Couldn’t have been the guy who was around towards the end of our marriage, cause those guys are a dime a dozen. I guess part of me wonders if it’s actually possible that he can be with her, what he could never be with me and why is that? Why couldn’t he be this stand up guy for his me? For our children? for our family? It doesn’t make sense. I mean, wouldn’t he have had more motivation be that guy to save his own family? Which leads me to wonder if it is just a smokescreen?

This is what led to me telling him that it concerned me that she could have read most everything on my blog and have just brushed it aside and got involved with him so quickly. I didn’t understand that. He said she had formed her own opinion about that. And I said, I know and that’s what concerns me. She has kids, she really should address it. He seemed to start getting annoyed and I just said “Look, I’m not trying to criticize either one of you. If you or even she were one of my friends, I’d say hey…this needs to be addressed seriously.” I’m trying to be a friend and maybe it’s hard for him to hear that right now, but I have to say it and that’s all I can do. He said they had talked about it. I told him that I hoped that he didn’t tell her I was full of shit and that she hadn’t just accepted it. That would be highly irresponsible on both ends. I don’t know what he said or what she said about it, but … the truth is, it concerns me. Mostly because when I got involved with him, he blamed everything on his ex, the reasons he drank, the reasons he was so horrible to her, was all because SHE made him miserable. It was a lie, but all i could see was what i wanted to see. i ignored the obvious, which is, like he is so fond of saying, “it takes two.” I just think If he doesn’t really deal with this, all of it, he will continue to self-destruct just because he never made amends or took responsibility enough to put the burden down so that he can REALLY move on. that’s the change i haven’t seen and that’s why i worry. You know if you can’t see that you did something wrong then you can’t change it, and if you don’t change it you’re bound to repeat it.

I told him that I wanted him to be happy and in a healthy relationship, but in order to do that, he was going to have to be honest with himself and her about what has gone down and how he’s feeling about this whole process. I told him that I was fortunate to be with someone who lets me grieve this loss, without making it about him, without feeling like he isn’t good enough, or feeling that maybe I want EX back and that I hoped he and she could do the same for each other, but it would be hard since she is going through her own divorce and he needs to be aware of her feelings in that regard as well. They both have kids to think about too. I don’t want him to get hurt, I don’t want her to get hurt and I sure as hell don’t want any of the kids to get hurt.

Yep, It’s official.

I’m a mother. I feel the need to protect and nurture everyone.

God help me.

In other news, got to have lunch with my girlfriend downtown today after having to go to court (for work). It’s really great to be able to do things again and be myself again. My girlfriend was even saying how I’m back to acting like myself and how much she’s missed seeing me smile, and hearing me laugh.  She talked about how much she liked Jer and how happy she was for me. That made me feel good. That someone else sees it and appreciates it as much as I do.

I’m happy for me too.

Things are going well. I’m almost done with another quarter at school. Looks like I’ll be graduating this summer. Work is going well. Things are picking upa nd moving forward. It’s very rewarding work that I feel good about doing. The kids are doing well. Despite the typical ornery behavior stuff here and there, they are much more settled and happy. That does my heart well.

And my love life, well…. it’s the icing on the cake. Jer is a great guy with an awesome heart.

I am such a lucky girl…..no I’m blessed. Truly, I am. And the funny thing is, all the crap that I’ve been through, that i thought would destroy me….has only made this all the more sweeter.

It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.

I was just thinking to myself last night how it’s been awhile since I’ve had any flare-ups with my ovarian cyst  / endometriosis stuff  and the mind-numbing pain. I actually was beginning to think, or hope, that maybe all the problems I had had were all stress related. Stress can do really messed up things to you physically, no doubt. Then this morning, I went and worked out, and by the time I got home, I was in pain. Really bad, pain. Tears in my eyes, I wanna pull hair out of my head pain. And in the middle of this, I found myself apologizing to Jer that I was in pain and being “whiny”. He was appauled. Told me to not ever apologize for things I can’t control. Jer tells me all the time that I apologize all the time, for things I shouldn’t be apologizing for. He’s even threatened to put a rubber band on my wrist and snap the hell out it everytime I say it. He was like, “You know what, jsut don’t apologize…ever, for anything, even if you are wrong….just so y ou stop doing it for awhile.” He says just by me doing that, he knows what my marriage was like and it kills. And you know what bothers me? I still I don’t even realize that extent of the eggshells I was walking on for EX and how bent out of shape I’ve gotten mentally/emotionally and Jer is having an ephiphany over it?

Even as much pain as I have coursing through my abdomen right now, I’m grateful. It’s moments like these when I realize just how bad things were with EX and how grateful I am to be away from it. How grateful I am to be with someone who sincerely cares for my well being. Someone who is capable of being empathatetic and selfless. It’s like that with everything lately. Instead of having days, weeks, months where I get lost in bitterness, resentment and anger, I only have moments. I allow myself to have the moments and then I move on. I can’t dwell anymore. Because as I look back, I can see how everything that ever happened…happened for a reason. Even all the bad, horrible bullshit…lead to….well, this, where I am now. If I had never met EX, I would’ve never met PICKLE, there would be no JEDI and no DIVA.  In fact, this kinda plays into the ovaries situation. Had I not have had kids as early on with EX as I did, my enometriosis might have been so bad that I might not have been able to have kids. They are the smile in my heart. I can’t imagine life without my kids. If I had never taken PICKLE on the way I did, I wouldn’t have found a career in law that I am eager and passionate about. I wouldn’t have taken the initative to go back to school and finish my degree. I wouldn’t have a job and a boss that I adore. Even EX putting his hands on me, if that hadn’t have happened, he’d probably still be here, the kids and I would still be miserable and life would be way too much to take. Who knows, something worse might have happened. Maybe if he hadn’t have done that and things hadn’t gone down the way they had, maybe he would’ve kept drinking the way he was and gotten behind the wheel of a car and killed himself, or someone else. If I hadn’t had the experiences that I did with EX, I wouldn’t nearly appreciate Jer as much as I do.

It’s weird how now I can look back on almost everything and see how it all lead to this.

I can remember saying just a few months ago to someone that I wish I could see the big picture, I wish I knew what God’s plan was for me. I knew there was a big canvas….but I felt trapped in some dark corner of it and felt like God was just stalling with the brush in his hand. But, it wasn’t like that. Turns out he was mixing colors, for hues I hadn’t ever imagined. And now I’m starting to see the masterpiece.

It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.

THANK YOU GOD!!!

the backstory:
last week there was a two line ad in the paper for a legal assistant with a request to reply to a website. said website was listed wrong. but with a little background search through the legal world i was able to find said attorneys REAL website and do a little background check on the attorney. she is a sole proprietor as a family law attorney. she used to be the family court attorney for the county we live in. this intrigued me because as most of you know my dream would be to continue school all the way through law school and become a family law attorney. so i drafted a really nice cover letter, spiffed up my resume and sent it away.
tonight, after being completely miffed over another promise broken by him and think that my life could not possibly get any worse than in felt in that moment, my cell rang and guess who it was?
but it gets better….not only is she really interested in me and was she impressed with my cover letter and resume, she is just getting her practice off the ground and so i could work FROM HOME! she couldn’t put that in the ad though. she said i would meet with her once a day to pick up legal briefs to be completed at home on my won schedule and she would just like me to run small errands, about 1 hr a day and then go to the courthouse downtown a couple times a week for filings and so on and so forth. can you believe that? i couldn’t have written a dream job description better myself. plus, she said she’s been bombarded with cases and that she really thinks, just couldn’t promise that there would be room for advancement and basically i’d be coming on board to help with the start-up. how awesome is that? i could start there, continue my education and possibly end up with a fabulous career position within the same practice. we hit it off really well over the phone too. she said she needs someone to get started right away and wanted to meet with me tomorrow night.
if i can land this job it would be an answer to prayer.
quote of the day: the darkest hour is always just before dawn.