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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Scribbling Things Out...

The one thing that feels really good right now is the fact that I am not going to be one of the January Gym Starters...I have been clocking time since September...so I feel like a regular. I am a regular. My gym time has become a regular part of my life which is not only helping me to be healthier but to have balance. It feels really good to have time to just be...in complete anonymity. At the gym, I have no real role other than to work hard and it is for just one reason...to be a better me. There is a lot of power in that...power that I have not ever felt before.

As I continue to hone things health-wise, I'm going to set some things out on paper. I am feeling the need to do some old school journaling...taking the pen to paper to work some things out. I haven't done that in so long, but I feel like I need some blank pages to fill in order to kick start the next phase of things. I know that I need to change my eating habits (spacing out meals during the day) to continue to make more progress. I know that I need to start enacting several of the insulin changes that my endocrinologist has suggested. I need to not be afraid of what "could" happen. I need to focus on the flip side of getting better control so that I can work even harder. My fear is that eating during the day slows me down at work. My fear is that since I have to take insulin to cover said eating...I may get more lows...which will slow me down at work. It all routes back to my fear of not being able to do work.

I will get it happening...making the next set of changes will allow me to work more efficiently. It will make me better...especially if I start writing it all out on paper. Scribbling things out while operating with no fear...I will get it done.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A year ago...

On the heels of our return from a fun Christmas in Annapolis, our world took a turn. At the time, we didn't know how long the journey would be. We were hopeful. We were realistic. We were scared. We felt lost sometimes. We were tired. But we always had each other...

I spent much of yesterday thinking about this picture...it is from Christmas Eve last year as we were shopping around Annapolis. We had so much fun. We knew that it was essential to enjoy every moment the four of us (Grandma, Mom, Sister, and Me) had together. I don't know if we somehow intuited what the next few days (and ultimately months) would bring or if we just knew that at some point we would not be a foursome so we needed to live it up big. Sometimes you just have a feeling...and you never want to have regrets.

Three days later we hustled quickly to put the new bed set that we had given to Grandma for Christmas on her bed before she came upstairs for the evening. It was frantic really...we had to sneak it upstairs because we wanted to surprise her. As the end of the evening drew to night, she was ready to go upstairs. We had assumed our regular positions...one of us walked backwards ahead of her and one of us behind. She had a bit of trouble grabbing the stair rail with her right hand...which was weird. I suggested perhaps we stay downstairs, but Grandma was pleading with me. She wanted to go upstairs to her bedroom. "Please..."

So we proceeded upstairs, her determination was fueling the journey. She was struggling...but she had a goal...and she was not afraid of hard work. She got just in the doorway to peak in see her bed all dolled up and then we eased her to the floor. We knew what was happening. She knew what was happening. She was having another stroke...and it was very different than the ones before. I have two vivid memories from that night...the sound of her voice saying "Please" and the look on her face when we locked eyes as the EMTs helped her into a transport bed/chair thing. She knew it was bad too.

The time span between December 27, 2010 and March 18, 2011 would be filled with so many moments. The four of us were still figuring things out...together...until we were just three.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November is Over and Suddenly the Words Start Again... (Word Count = 62,692)

So it is a new month and magically the words have started to flow again...I'm working on the draft novel that I started writing back in July for CampNanoWrimo. I planned ahead this week...thinking that I would be able to clock some time at Panera on Thursday night...and here I am. The orange wall helping with the words...about 500 written tonight so far.

If I am totally honest, the majority of my word count for this November was some work that I did on this old story from July. It felt like cheating...so I sort of stopped myself from working on it. Every November I have always written a brand new story...and it felt wrong not to do that again. The cool thing is...after I did some merging an organizing I learned a couple of things about my current work in progress.

1) It is 155 pages (so far).
2) It is 62,692 words (so far). For those of you counting at home, that means that I have written 12,334 words since the end of July. About 9K of those were during November.
3) It is Fourteen Chapters (so far).
4) It is a cute, fun little story. My main character and boy hero are adorables...I had forgotten that.

And just like that...I am back in the novel writing game. Did you notice how I noted each of the markers (pages, words, and chapters) with a "so far"? That is hope...I'm gonna finish this one. So there it is...I am off and running again!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November Numbers...

In the past, November has been all about counting words. Getting to 50,000 words or more in a shitty first draft of a novel was what the past six Novembers has been about. It did not matter how busy I was at work or what was going on in my life, I always managed to barf out a novel. This year has been different, but my goals are still wrapped around numbers...decreasing some and increasing others. In previous Novembers, I needed to write. Writing was fun, it made me happy. This year, it just didn't feel the same. The goals I wanted to hit by December 1 had nothing to do with word count...I wanted my blood sugars to be better, clock hours at the gym, and hit my first weight goal. As the month is winding down, just like in previous Novembers, the truth will be in the numbers. How many days did I get to the gym? What will my A1C number reveal? What will the scale read?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Perfect Sunglasses...

I feel like I really, really, really need these sunglasses. Are they not the prettiest things you have ever seen? Well, at least in terms of sunglasses? Now that I am rocking the contacts...I can increase my sunglasses collection because I won't have to get prescription lenses for them...which is a royal pain. Too bad I already asked Santa for Black Bailey Bling Uggs. In thinking about it, these sunglasses would look really cute with them...super cute with them.

They are Victoria Beckham...so Posh...so Me!! I have been working hard the past three months...maybe these could be my reward? In the spirit of continuing to be healthy, getting to the gym, and having more fun...these sunglasses would totally help continue to foster all of these things. I can see myself in them already...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful...

As I think back over the span of time between last Thanksgiving and this Thanksgiving...the common theme is transition. Last year we were doing things up big because Grandma's favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and she wanted a Christmas with lots of sparkle. So, that is what we did. We enjoyed every second and were fully present for each moment...that is what I am most thankful for...no wasted opportunity. The time as it leaked into the new year was marked by tremendous adjustments as we stood by Grandma's side in the last of her days. I am thankful that we were there. The time in the after was of figuring out how you move on and piecing together what your life is to be. I am thankful that each of us (in our own way) is figuring this out. I am thankful that my Mom, Sister, and I have each other...with a solid support system...you can accomplish anything.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flipping the Switch...

There is a switch in your brain that you know eventually will flip on. You don't want it to flip prematurely and yet the waiting can be incredibly frutstrating. My grandpa always talked about the three P's - Patience, Persistance, and Perseverance. The first P of the list has always been the toughest for me. Yet, one of the last things my Grandpa ever said to me was..."Joy, you know what makes you so great?" I prepared myself for his response to be like one of my favorite things he used to say about me, "You're annoying, but you come in handy." Instead, he simply said, "Your patience." My hearts still swells thinking about hearing those words. It is the fuel that drives me. Patience.

I knew this past summer when I came back from Camp that I wanted to finally get off of my butt and work hard at all aspects of my life, not just my job. I had been hiding for far too long. I had been ignoring my health for too long. I didn't want to make any more excuses. I was ready to do the hard work. I wanted to do the hard work. There have been three things serving as my motivators...1) a camper at camp who faced their limited diet like a champ, 2) my doctor, upon letting me know that she was leaving the area, told me that she believed that I could do this (this being...managing my T1 Diabetes), and 3) watching the University of Maryland Men's Soccer Team.

Evidently, the switch that flipped was the realization that if being a workaholic is part of my core...then I needed to adapt that drive to everything in my life. Why it took me so long to figure that out I have no idea, but I'm glad I did. I work hard at the gym. I work hard to balance things at work so that I can work hard at having fun too. I work hard to stick to a consistent diet so that my blood sugars are in tighter control. Working hard at work is a given...I have been doing that consistently for the past 17 years.

The lesson was that I needed to remember the three P's for all aspects of my life...not just my career. If the concept of work and getting things done is my motivator, well then I should use that for everything I do. It has made all the difference actually. There are times when I feel completely transformed. I'm not the same person I was when I left camp. I'm not the same person I was the first time I saw a soccer game. I'm not the same person I was when I said goodbye to my doctor. I think I'm finally becoming me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Life in Actions not Words...

So I have not updated about my word count during the past week. That is because last Sunday I had one of those moments where things just hit you...while at Panera surrounded by my NanoWrimo friends I realized something. For the first time in seven years the words were not flowing, the blank page was frustrating me. I always prided myself on being able to fill it no matter what. Something was different. Something had changed. Come to find out, it was me.

It was a very simple realization actually, but for me, those are always the most difficult things to grasp. The sun was shining outside of Panera and I kept looking out the window longingly. I realized that I don't need to do NanoWrimo this November. Instead of writing about life, I want to just live it. The past two and half months have been filled with tremendous transformations for me. I came back from camp in August knowing that I needed to change things. I needed to be a better me. So, that is what I have been doing. Focusing on being a responsible Type 1 Diabetic by eating normally and getting to gym. No tricks, no gimmicks. I have just been working my butt off and it feels really, really good.

I haven't written about all the changes I have been making, because I did not want to jinx things. The truth is, they don't seem like changes. I'm just living my life the way I always I knew that I could. I don't need food to feel better. I don't need a word count to make me feel better. I just need to be me. Joy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The thinking in between... (Word Count = 10,237)

I'm clocking time at Panera and I keep getting side tracked. My mind keeps wandering away from my story and I am having a really hard time focusing. There is something very different going on in terms of my writing this go around and I'm working my way through it. I used to derive a lot of happiness from the ever increasing word count, but this year it just doesn't feel the same. I'm in another place it seems, which isn't bad, it is just different. I think I'd rather be outside inside of in.

A Struggle and then Ease...(Word Count = 8,214)

I had a tough start today...the words were coming slow. I felt haulted in everything I tried to put together and then it hit me...get back to what you know. I think I forgot what it was about writing that I loved...the free and easy feeling of words flowing when you have a story that you really want to tell. I'm back to that story now...I lost my way...but I am back to it. As a result...I wrote 7K words today. I wanted to get to 10K today, but I am happy with 8K given how hard things were in the early part of the day. It has ended well. Going to sleep feeling really, really good. Tomorrow...more words...hope to clock lots of time at Panera with my NanoWrimo buddies.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Panera Session in November (Word Count = 2,020)

I'm clocking time at Panera for my first writing session of November with my NanoWrimo Buddies...exciting!! I'm seriously aiming to get to 20K words before the end of the weekend...which means I have a bunch of work to do. I have another goal...during one of the nanowrimo word wars I want to get 1K words in 15 minutes. And then I have one more...I am really, really going to try to stay tonight until Panera closes. I wanna shut this place down. I'm feeling it. Seriously...I can so do this. I am totally going to make this happen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Novel, New Routine... (Word Count = 1,212)

Another early rise and shine for me so that I can get this novel going...I got my first 1,000 words and that always feels good. My ideas are starting to shape around how I am actually going to tell the story. I notice now that when I am writing I am much more conscientious about things that I used to just ignore, like tense and head hopping. That makes me feel good...like I have learned a thing or two during the past six years of doing this whole National Novel Writing Month thing.

Here is to hoping that I can keep up my new writing routine...which if I do...I will totally owe to a good cup of coffee, the sturdy kitchen table, and the quiet of the early morning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And so it begins... (Word Count = 511)

I'm organizing my life around the things I love at the moment and it feels so good. It requires some flexibility and changing a few things up a bit...but hard work always gets you where need to be. The things I'm balancing at the moment include - writing my NanoWrimo novel, my job, time at the gym, cheering on the University of Maryland Men's Soccer team (GO TERPS), and being healthy. Since my family is my core, they are a given. I have actually never been very good at balance, but I am learning. It makes your life much more interesting and fulfilling. It used to just be about work and school. Then it was work. Now...it is what I make of it.

My novel was born this morning and with the first key strokes of my opening line it all started falling into place. My two main characters have names - Nate and Pinkie. I also learned that I'm writing third person omniscient. I also think I might be telling this story from two perspectives. I have never done that before. See, noveling is so exciting!! I did not know any of these things when I woke up this morning. The power of motivation and a cup of good coffee...with those two things you can do anything!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Best Night of the Year!!

So, it is my favorite night of the year. The night before National Novel Writing Month begins (NanoWrimo) I am beyond giddy at the prospect of writing madly for one month straight to have my 8th...yes that is correct...8th NanoWrimo win. In my typical novel writing style, I have a few things sketched out in my mind. Mainly a title and a basic idea for the premise of my story. I don't have names for my characters. I don't know what they look like. I don't know what kinds of adventures they will go on. I don't know most of the things that that are going to happen to them. I don't know the things that are going to stand in their way. Lots of unknowns...but that is how I like it best. Just like life...

What I do know is that I have a bunch of music that has spurred the premise of my novel What I also know is that I am not writing a chick lit novel either. I'm going back to my writing roots...the sad stuff. The stuff that epics are made of. The hero's journey. I am so excited!! I have often said that when I am happy, I write sad stuff. When I am stressed, I write happy, flighty stuff. So there you have it...judge if you will.

In mere hours I will embark upon a new journey with a bunch of people I haven't met yet. How cool is that? It is just like that feeling you have when you think you might be about to embark upon something fantastic. An inkling of good things being just around the way. That is how I feel right now...the true writer's high. As life high...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the Way...

I have been so lax in my blogging...but it is because I am working hard...in all realms of life. I had one of those banner days yesterday which has spurred me to blog rather then post a bunch of snipits on Facebook and Twitter. I started thinking about a post that I had written back in May 2010...this was just before my whole life was about to take many unexpected turns. Link to the post from May 2010 Turns that took me off of my OGYST "Operation Getting Your Shit Together"...but the truth is...I knew that I was going to get back to it...but only when I could really focus on it. When I really wanted to get back to it, which magically happened at the end of this past August.

My fondness for lists is going to bring you the following...a list of things that made yesterday so great:

1) Snow: I love it...in any form...sleet, slush, stick...it doesn't matter. It is magic. It is beautiful. It makes me feel like a giddy, little girl.

2) Gym - Part 1: My personal trainer (who I haven't worked with since May 2010) stopped me and reminded that I had one session left and asked if I would like to schedule something. It was perfect timing because I was just thinking that I needed to add strength training back into the mix. I thought S had given up on me, turns out, I think she has been waiting for me to be ready too. I'm sure she has noticed that I'm back in the game, I'm clocking time at the gym 4 - 5 times a week now.

3) Gym - Part 2: All my spa girls where greeting me with enthusiastic hellos and cheers as I walked by on my way to the locker room. It is so motivating...I love that my gym has a spa and how magically all of my favorite people have ended up working there - R, M, and S. They remind me that I am beautiful inside and out.

4) Friendship: I was able to spend quality time with my bestest friends, N. Next to my sister, I think she ranks as one of the most positive influences in my life. It always helps to have a guide who helps you through all of what life throws at you. As we were chatting it, it occurred to me that she has been a constant through most of my "pivotal" life moments. And it is strengthening to know that she always will be...

5) The Beautiful Game: I have written before about how following soccer has helped me in becoming a better me. Watching the University of Maryland Men's Soccer Team is inspiring me to work harder. I'm learning more about leadership and strategy. I'm learning about how important being part of a team is. I'm being reminded about motivation and vision. I'm changing as a result.

I'm on my way it seems, to wherever it is that I am supposed to go. I always have been, but I feel like I am getting closer. And I'm starting to accept that you don't get there alone...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Plum Petals...Vera Addiction...

I would like some credit for not having purchased ANY Vera Bradely in well over a month...that is pretty good for me. I should get a few extra points for not getting a Stadium Blanket...the colors would clash with Maryland's colors...and I don't want to look ridiculous. The Winter Collection will be released on Thursday and luckily I do not really like any of the new patterns. Trouble is...there are always new designs of bags and new products to reel you back in. So, I have a strong suspicion that I will be making a trek to Tiara this week...probably on Thursday to get a few things...in Plum Petals...because I am still in love with this pattern. Here is what I am thinking...with my rationale for each purchase noted of course.

Hatbox Cosmetic - I need a make-up bag for my other gym bag and it is imperative that all accessories match. I can't use a Sittin' in a Tree make-up bag with a Plum Petals Grand Traveler...it just doesn't make sense.

Tech Decals - Every phone, netbook, laptop, and iPad should have some Vera swag. Said swag can encourage writing and how can that be bad? November is approaching and I have a new novel waiting to make its way out through my fingertips.






Coasters - One must always protect the furniture...enough said.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Over a month...Really?? Really??

So, have I really not blogged since August 7? Is that even possible? The good news is that I have been busy...busy at work and busy at fun. Busy at things I never would have predicted the last time I blogged. August was very good to me in all the ways that I needed it to be. Time to rest. Time to reflect. Time to serve. Time to get my groove back. There are lots of things that I want to write about...but packing them all into one post won't do each of them justice and I want to spend some good quality writing time crafting them. In the meantime, I thought I would write a list...because I am crazy for the lists.

Life List - Stuff from August through Mid-September

1) Taking a week off from work and having some time away across the Bay Bridge was great...even with a crazy sunburn.

2) Being at Camp Fantastic was amazing and I really felt challenged this year to work even harder. All the love and good vibes packed into an amazing week are the fuel that keeps you going all year long. For the first time ever, I was completely out of communication with work. It was the best thing I could have done. Ummm...and of course I bought a Vera Bradley Bookbag in Plum Petals for camp this year...it was perfect...it even held my clipboard!!

3) Easing back into work after camp was easy and the truth is...I still have my "camp high". I have spent a lot of time working on focusing on one thing at a time and not getting overwhelmed...even if 10 different things are flying towards me. This is hard for me to do...but I am still at it...and for the most part...keeping everything in perspective. Calm during an earthquake...even I know you can't control everything.

4) Catching a University of Maryland Men's Soccer Game at the Germantown Soccer Plex has completely changed my life. My sister's idea for something to do on a Friday night has opened a whole new world to me. I am now a soccer fan. The game is poetry. It fuels the writer in me. Watching it is teaching me to be a better me. This team is headed for great heights...with an incredible spirit, hard work, and a Coach who does it right. I am psyched to cheer them on all season. I'm officially a Ludwig regular!!

5) Seeing Stevie Nicks was one of my bucket list items. She is one of my favorite song writers and she killed it. Her words always get right to the core of it. Love her!!

6) Going to the Sound of Music Sing A Long was much more campy than I would have thought...but even introverted me got into it. Who doesn't want to hiss when the Baroness is on the screen. Oh Captain, My Captain. You and your silly whistle. Truly one of the best movies ever. If you are ever feeling lowly, just listen to "Climb Every Mountain"...instant motivator.

7) Kicking some Type 1 Diabetes butt by getting to the gym and getting my swagger back feels really good. I'm working hard so that I can run/jog a 5K (Becca's Run) on October 1. The perfect way to start my 24th year as a Type 1 Diabetic. Feeling pretty good these days...good numbers...I love that!!


I know that much of the above is due to the fact that we are closing in on six months since Grandma has been gone. Healing is a process and there are is no timeline...but I know that she is proud...of numbers 3 and 7 especially. Moving forward...it is the only direction to go.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another New Device....

Well...I have done it!! I have now entered the iPad universe and I have to say...oh my wow!!! This is my first blog from my iPad. The keyboard is not as bad as I thought. About two hours of my time has been sucked into this thing getting everything all set up and exploring all of the new things I can do and download. Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, Kindle, and all of the things I didn't know I needed two years ago are up and running. All systems are go...and I am not going to lie...one of the final deciding votes was the HBO GO app. Sex and the City available whenever I want?? Sign me up please!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Seventh Win... Word Count =50,358

And there you have it, I have barfed out another 50K word shitty first draft of a novel!! I have 10 chapters and I think I need a few more to finish. This is definitely a different attitude then what I had earlier today. I was so annoyed at my novel and how slow it was moving that I thought I was just going to get to 50K words and then have it sit on a shelf like so many others. After chatting through the plot with my Mom and Sister, their interest and excitement was just the fuel that I needed to power through today. I wrote 7,113 words!!

This past month was a good writing challenge for me. It was really hard for me to write and after analyzing my daily word count data (thanks to my writing buddy M) it was pretty clear that almost all of my writing was done on the weekends. The cool thing is, it doesn't matter when you write it. The key is that you get it done. It always feels good to validate your word count and get the winning badge. It is even better when you can do it surrounded by some of your NanoWrimo Buddies. I am glad that I am liking this novel again. I like it enough to consider continuing to write it. To see it through to the end so that I can write the best words you ever hope to type. The End.

Happiness Is...

It is the simple things that bring me the most happiness. Nothing fancy or extravagant...surprising as that may be. I was reminded of this as I was puttering around the kitchen this morning getting the Keurig ready for my first cup of coffee. I remembered seeing a yellow box in the cupboard and then I looked in the fridge to see if there was any milk and there was. Instant Happy!!! There is nothing better than a bowl of the Cheerios...cold milk...make that no soggy Cheerios...perfection!! Happiness is a bowl of Cheerios...

Now to continue to work on my novel...I have to get to 50K words before midnight tonight. Acutally, I am hoping that it is well before then so that I can celebrate at Panera tonight or this afternoon (if I am feeling optimistic). For me, reaching the 50K mark was much, much harder in July than it is November. It will mean that much more to me finish!! This is the perfect way to start to a week off of work...a week off!! I am beyond giddy!! Especially sitting here at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Cheerios!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

5K Already Today... Word Count = 43,245

Both Starbucks and Panera have been very good to me today...I have written 5K words so far. My reward? Outlet shopping!! I am so excited!! I have just 8K words left to go before I hit 50K...I know I can do it. I am sure I will write more later today, but right now...I gotta go shop!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A 10K word kind of day... Word Count = 37,707

And there it is...I wrote 10,018 words today!!! I'm still not on pace but considering that I started the weekend at 22K words...I'd say I'm officially at the point of less worry. I know that I can get to 50K words before this time next Sunday. It was fun today to focus on my novel for most of the day. To see if I could really do it. And I did!! :)

Orange Wall Magic... Word Count =35,364

My word count is still not where it should be, but I have written 8K words here at Panera today. The orange wall was definitely helping me with the words today. I had to get a picture of my sacred space. I got here around 10:30 am this morning and by 5:30pm I had gone from 27K to 35K. I can so do this...I can get to 50K by this time next week. No problem!! It really helps to have the encouragement of my NanoWrimo Buddies...nothing beats the sound of them cheering you on. Thanks to the amazing spreadsheet which is tracking all of our progress in one place so that we can keep tabs on each other...I am motivated to keep it up. I am looking forward to heading home for a bit of rest and relaxation...while I mull over in my head the fact that if I write just 2K more words today...that would bring my grand total for today to 10K words today. Hmmm...let me swim on that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not Caught Up... Word Count = 27,289

I was really thinking that I could get to 30K today, but I think that 27,289 is not horrible. That means that I work 5,163 words today. I am planning to spend most of the day tomorrow writing. The good thing about it being so hot is that I did not spend much time today swimming and lounging...I was inside...writing. I'm happy that I am getting back into my novel, it feels good. I am hopeful that I will get to 50K by the end of the month. I finally put together a playlist for my novel and that really helped me to get going. It took a few moments to get the rhythm back but once I did I was back to chiping away at my novel, 1K words at a time.

Kick Start... Word Count = 25,135

Work consumed me for the past week...from last Saturday through last evening...so my word count was stuck at 22K. No noveling for seven whole days...but I was spurred back into the 50K words in the month of July game because of two things. The first was a fun dinner with some camp friends which was just the heart filling energy kick I needed on Thursday Night. The second was this song. I am in love with it...and it is just what my novel needed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Panera Magic... Word Count = 20,007

I'm on pace for 50,000 words by the end of the month!! Huzzah!! I had a good 3K words today at Panera with some of my fellow NanoWrimos. A good Tuesday afternoon/early evening of writing for me. Now...I'm going to pack it up and head home. Need to gear up for the rest of the work week...is it gear up or rest up? July is by far the busiest month for me and I know that I can tackle it while writing a shitty first draft of a novel too. Nothing can break my stride...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Exhausted... Word Count = 17,000

My goal for the weekend was to hit 20K, but I did not write a word on Friday or Saturday. When I woke up this morning, I knew that hitting 20K would be tough but I am happy that I got to 17K. This means that I am now exactly where I should be to be on pace for hitting 50K by the end of the month. It also means that I wrote 6,634 words today. I'm happy with that too. Now...I must sleep...zzzzzzzzz

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Work Before Play... Word Count = 10,070

Today was perfect. Vera Bradley had their 2011 Fall Launch today. I bought lots of things in Plum Petals...my new favorite pattern and spent some good time with my Vera Girls. I had a fantastic day at work where I felt (as I usually do on a daily basis) so lucky to work with such a great team. I had a good writing session at Panera tonight with some NanoWrimo friends...I got 3K words in...which was fantastic.

As excited as I was to play with all my new Vera stuff, I told myself that I needed to get to 10K words before I could play with any of it. I left Panera with 9,060 words. I came home, brought in my shopping bags from the car and set them to the side. I needed to write before I could play!! I was tired. I was close to stopping. But then...as music always does...a good song came across the ol' iPod Touch...and that 1K words came rolling out. Some really fun stuff actually. Good stuff. I'm back in the CampNanoWrimo Game!!

Here is the song that got me going...in case you are curious.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Noveldom has Begun... Word Count = 6,028

The journey has begun...Panera was very good to me today...I would not allow myself to leave until I reached 5,000 words. It took me a minute to get in the zone late this morning, but by noon I was getting the hang of it. I think it still seems strange to be doing this while wearing flip flops. I have never had a tan and NanoWrimo'ed before. I did of course order some tomato soup, because it is tradition. I think it really helped. A few word wars always do the trick too...I don't know that I couldn't have kept at it today without my fellow CampNanoWrimos.

I was able to get another 1,000 words out in the last 40 minutes with the sounds of distant fireworks in the background. I am pretty proud of the fact that I have did not have fireworks mentioned anywhere in those 1,000 words. I'm starting Chapter Two and thinking about all the things that Sunni Gilliam will be up too. I feel like things are starting to take shape. I still haven't figured out what car she is going to have, but I do know the pivotal moment in her youth where she figured out what she wanted to do when she grew up. Details, details, details...

And here I go.... Word Count = 0

I'm sitting in comfy, cozy Panera surrounded by several other CampNanoWrimos and I am ready to begin. Finally!! I am starting my next novel write now!!! Ha Ha...get it? I better write now...it is day four of July and I have no words. But...I know...by the end of the month...I will have 50,000. And off I go!!!

What better way to celebrate the fourth of July by writing...in honor of my favorite (and first) bill of right.

Friday, July 1, 2011

On your Mark... Word Count = 0

I'm sitting in Panera by the magical orange wall that brings forth words and words of noveldom, but I haven't written a thing. It is strange to be embarking upon a noveling journey when it is light outside at 8pm. I don't have a winter coat resting on a chair with my laptop bag. I'm in summer attire. I'm drinking cold beverages instead of hot. There is no bowl of tomato soup to stir the muse, just a frozen lemonade. It is summer!!! And I am CampNanoWrimo bound...almost...I think.

I have an idea. I have a title. My main character now has a name. But I haven't started yet. I'm not sure what the problem is. I have been playing the name game for the past hour. Scribbling doodles in my official novel notebook...names and names and scratched out names and more names still. I think I have settled on a few to get to me started. Are you curious? Well, this book is going to be about Sunni Gilliam. She is taking shape in my mind. I'm thinking about what she does for a living. Who her friends are. What she likes to do after work and on the weekends. What kind of car she drives. I already know what she wants and the obstacles in her way. Maybe I am thinking too much and should just do what I do in November...open a new document...look at the beautiful blank page...and then fill it without any worries.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life List (Week 1): A new normal...

There seems to have been something about getting past the three month mark. This week felt like things were starting to fall into place with the new normal. I know when you really think about it...there is no "normal" in life. But for right now, I feel like the next phase of my life is starting to take shape. It is filled with all things I love...working hard, relaxing, shopping, writing, and going to the gym. It was a perfect week in all regards. It was so perfect, that as I reflect back I feel the need to make a list.


Life List - Week of June 19th

1) Recieved an email from one of my good friends which really got me in gear...the reminder that I promised to run the entire course of Becca's Run...with no walking. She is the big sister that I have never had.

2) Got back to the gym...starting on Sunday afternoon...felt amazing.

3) Took first swim of the season.

4) Read and Relaxed in the backyard...the new lounges are my most favorite thing. Even fell asleep for a bit. The backyard is a renovated version of what has always been heaven to me.

5) Wrote something for work that the boss noted as good...no changes to content...I was really proud.

6) Began to plot out my next novel...counting down the days to start CampNanoWrimo on July 1, 1011. Yes...I'm going to write another crappy first draft of a novel during July.

7) Had a great conversation with the first friend I ever made at work...talked music, life, and love.

8) Saw one of my previous bosses and it was rejuvenating. The memories of where I have been and where I am now were overwhelming...we just couldn't get over how amazing it was to see each other again. It was like no time had passed. I felt so loved. We were such an amazing team...I still can't believe she took a chance on a kid who had just graduated high school.

9) Made plans with my J Girls and Rabs to go hiking next Saturday...followed up with a Spa Day. A perfect start to a three day weekend.

10) Took a 3 mile walk with my Mom and Sister before heading to Leesburg Outlets. Did really well...of course I got some Vera Bradley (Folkloric Coastline Tote - perfect poolside bag), Juicy Couture (cute dress with ruffles), Ralph Lauren (fab jeans and nautical tee), and Nike (running shorts, tee, and super thin socks). Shopping with my two favorite people is always fun.

I am starting to feel better all around...more like me...a new version of me (OMG...I just went a little Felicity there didn't I?). And it's not just because I am still getting compliments on my new "sassy" hair do...even after three weeks. I think I am starting to notice that I'm healing. The crazy times of March 2010 until March 2011 have made me into a better me. A new me...and I hope both Grandma and Grandpa really like what they see.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two Faces Have I...

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough (thanks to a good friend) to see Placido Domingo give a final performance at the Kennedy Center as his 15 year tenure as the General Director of the Washington Opera ends. He played Oreste in Iphigenie en Tauride . It was breathtaking and I still find myself thinking back on such captivating moments. I think I may be hooked. I'm not going to lie, I have already looked at the next season and there are two that I really want to see in the Fall. It was perfection. The story was my kind of story...lots of torment expressed in sounds and actions. I get chills thinking about it...

I have to admit, that during a few moments on Saturday Night I was thinking of my plans for Sunday night...seeing Hangover 2. Talk about opposite settings and opposite emotions and opposite wardobes to boot!! Hangover 2 did not disappoint...it was such a great hour and 42 minutes of constant laughter. There were moments you found yourself laughing even when there was no dialog. The visual situation on the screen and your thoughts on how it came to be made you giddy without breath. I am still humming Allentown...

The truth is, I enjoyed both...one just as much as the other. What does that say about me as a person?

Monday, May 30, 2011

OGYST - A Brand New Week 1

Okay folks...this type 1 diabetic, vera bradley addict, and workaholic chickie is kicking it back into high gear. Yes...after about a year...OGYST (Operation Get Your Shit Together) is starting up again. I really mean it. I am starting off with a few weekly goals to get me going...and I will work my hardest to carve out the time (aka not let work eat my life away) to take care of me. I can do this. I will do this.

OGYST - Week 1 Goals

* Exercise Five Days
* Write Down Blood Sugars
* Eat Three Meals a Day
* Write Three Blog Entries (on any topic)

And GO!!!

Next Stop...a quick trip to the grocery store so that I have actually have food to eat.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Get Your Write On!!!


I think it may be an almost "seven month itch"...but I am back in the writing state of mind. I haven't really done a thing since last November's NanoWrimo and the possibility of a summer "Camp NanoWrimo" has me really excited about what I am going to write next. I have been readying myself by doing some reading on writing...I just finished Janet Evanovich's book How I Write and am going to read Stephen King's book On Writing next. Feels so good. Like getting back to the gym. Writing does my soul good. And just like getting back to the gym...I need to get back to writing too. It is time to get back to life...or the next part of my life...a whole new chapter is readying...I can feel it.

I know that all I need to get started is some good music and a blank page. I always have both so I am ready. I'm going to get my write on and my life on too.

Some songs fueling the soundtrack include the following:

* The Lone Wolf - Kathleen Edwards
* Crossfire - Brandon Flowers
* L.E.S. Artistes - Santigold
* What You Know - Two Door Cinema Club
* Something to Die For - The Sounds
* Driven By Their Beating Hearts - A Silent Film
* Houdini - Foster the People
* Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
* MoneyGrabber - Fitz & The Tantrums
* Billie Holiday - Warpaint

Note...that most of the above list is thanks to my awesome sister who always seems to know which songs I need to hear.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It hits at the strangest moments...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could feel this loved all the time? Safe in your Grandma's arms? A whole new everything in front of you? She was a big fan of mine. Always encouraging...especially when it came to writing. I trusted her opinon because she wrote beautiful poems and read a lot. I actually let her read all of my journals once...we were bonded because of it. She had a readers view into my life during some of my most formative years. It made me feel wrapped in her arms...it still does. Just like this picture.

I have been thinking about this blog post for a long while, ever since I saw the movie Bridesmaids. A movie that was freaking hilarious but I could feel something just below the surface stirring. When I sat in my seat, I could see a wheelchair in front of me...we were late to the theatre and it was packed so we were close to the entrance. During the previews, I heard a familiar sound. The sounds of someone trying to talk who can't. I never appreciated the emotion conveyed through tones before. It made me think of Grandma in those last months.

The sounds that continued through the movie were of laughter and comments on what was an incredibly fun movie. I was laughing and truly enjoying it, but every now and then I would flashback on a moment at somepoint between the end of December and the middle of March. The sounds were so familiar. They were the only verbal type of communication we had with Grandma and I missed them. I thought back to the day when my Mom and I took her to the doctor for a follow-up appointment...and how everyone stared at us in the waiting room. For me it was an energy surge. Yes...this is our life...and we are handling it. I was proud. Now I think back and wonder how the heck we did it. And then I remember...it is that four letter word again. Love.

As the movie was winding it's way to the end, the person behind us with her beautiful sounds was being helped down the stairs by her caretaker. I happened to look over and could see her white shiny hair and a smiling face glowing in the light reflected off of the screen while she was helped into her wheelchair. It was just a glimpse and then it happened. All that was lingering just below the surface came out in heaping sobs. The missing. The sadness. The memories. The love.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Missing...

I miss my Grandma even though I am easing back into life. Her smiling face. Her spunk and style. Her great sense of humor. Taking her places to do fun things. Yesterday as I walked around Brookside Gardens for the first time...this after having wanted to do so for about 10 years...I wished that I had thought to take Grandma. She would have loved it...there were great wheelchair accessible pathways. It was so peaceful. It was so beautiful. She loved being outside with trees and flowers. I felt bad for not thinking to do it before. As I walked, feeling inept the wind picked up and kissed my face. It was clear...Grandma was walking with me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Flipped for Flip Flops...

Have I ever mentioned my flip flop addiction before? I'm sure I have...especially Vera Bradley ones. They are so cute and fun. I had already purchased a few for the season and darn if Vera Bradley didn't come out with some more. Curses!!! Is it okay for me to get a few more pairs...if I promise to not get any more purses? For the summer season? But don't make me promise to not get the matching beach towels too. They are so pretty and I know that I am really, really going to need them for the summer. I really do have a problem don't I?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Hardest Drawer for Last...

We were in hyper cleaning mode last week...I think my Mom, Sister and I tried to keep busy and we got lots of things done. As many of you know, I am all about the lists...so you will not be surprised to find out that the first thing I did when we got home after Grandma passed away was to break out a brand new Vera Bradley notebook and start making lists. Sick..I know...but it made me feel better...it was comforting.

One of the items on the list was cleaning out the dresser drawers of my Grandparents. Yes...I admit...we did not clean out those of Grandpa back in 2007. I was deliberate in my cleaning, saving his "junk" drawer for last. Although I should say, there was no junk within. I loved looking through bunches of old business cards, his notes on the scraps of paper he would always keep handy in his shirt pocket, his dogtags, and this piece of paper that I had never seen before. Evidently, on November 1, 1977 (barely 11 months old) I typed this at my Grandma's Office. Pretty cool find isn't it?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Year Ago...

My sweet Grandma loved to go to the grocery store and here are some pictures from about a year ago. How cute is she? Check out the one below...in her red crocs...even cuter right?

I remember back in the summers way back in the day when my sister and I would spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa. I have the best memories of Grandpa playing some of our favorite cassettes in the car as we traveled down to Chevy Chase to shop at the Westbard Giant (like George Michael's Faith...because Grandpa thought it was a great album too!!). I remember being in charge of holding the list and checking off the items when they made it into the basket...even as a child...I was all about the lists!!

One of the first things we did after Grandpa passed away was to head to the grocery store...the four of us...Grandma, Mom, Sister and I...getting all kinds of yummy things for a dinner of appetizers. Harris Teeter was our store of choice...we had coffees first and then set out about the store for comfort foods. Last evening we did the same thing...but this time it was just the three of us...getting a dinner of appetizers. We didn't really address the fact that it was just the three of us or the fact that it in a few hours it would be exactly one week when we became only three. There was something nice about roaming the aisles where Grandma roamed pushing the basket. We really, really miss her.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bubblegum and Lollipops...

As you may know, I love purses. My grandma loved purses too and was a fellow Vera Bradley addict. When we went to say our final goodbye on Sunday, each of us picked one of her Vera purses to use. It felt really nice. My sister used the pretty floral one on the left, my mom used the cute black and white one in the middle, and the adorable one with the bow was the one I took. :) I think she would have really liked that.

When we were little, Grandma always carried two things for my sister and I in her purse...Wrigleys Spearmint Gum and Lollipops. As such, her purses always smelled like Spearmint. I remember asking..."Grandma, can I please have a piece of gum?" "Grandma, can I please have a lollipop?" Most of the time...she would just give us one...totally unprompted.

One night when I was driving home from Casey House I had one of those randmo thoughts. I remembered that she stopped carrying the gum and lollipops in her purse at somepoint in my youth. Then it hit me, it must have been in 1987 when I was 10 years old...when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It made me fall in love with her all over again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Room 11 is Empty...

I don't think my Mom, Sister and I will ever forget the kindness and care at Casey House or the first time we sat at the "Great Table" the day we arrived. There was something so comforting about having a table to sit at there since so much of our family life is sitting at that kitchen table. The feel of a strong table that was able to handle some of the most difficult of days. Knowing that we would soon have one less person to sit around the kitchen table, we decided it was time for a new one. We went from five chairs to four in December 2007 and the thought of one less at the table seemed too surreal. I had ordered a new one and four new chairs on March 3...the night we first sat at the "Great Table" at Casey House.

It was peaceful in the end and the road to get there was traveled with strength...my Grandma is and always will be...amazing. Her spirit and spunk brought her to DC from a small town in Vermont. Her spirit and spunk guided her on Friday evening. As I have always written...this is no place for whimps.

Our new table and chairs were delivered on Saturday afternoon...the start of a new begining. It was poetic. Room 11 in Casey House may now be empty but we are not...our hearts are full with memories and a certain calm that comes from knowing that there is one more person out and about in the universe looking over you. It is warm. It is comforting. It is real. And we have a strong, sturdy table to come back too as we move forward.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Smile and A Wave...

I have been meaning to write about a few things I have observed during this latest chapter of our lives. The one where everyone knows your Room Number and not your name. The one where everyone watches for which rooms become empthy. The one where sometimes you can here someone say, "Well...Room 7 is still here". It is like there is a cohort...of both room inhabitants and thier families. It feels like bizzaro world sometimes but has become like home...sort of.

Even though we are in a hospice facility, I still smile and laugh. Sometimes people look at me like I am weird (I know...I know...people always look at me like I'm weird). I make jokes. That is how Grandma would want me to be. She has a great sense of humor...so why not keep some happy around us. There is no right or wrong in this dance.

Several times as I sat in my car atop the hill of Muncaster Mill Road to turn into Casey House, a car coming in the opposite direction would stop and wave me in...even though they had a green light. It was so profound...they knew where I was going...and took an extra second out of their day to make it easier for me. It happened more than one and it made me feel good each and everytime.

You smile and wave to those you run into on a regular basis. It hit me today while I was there that I missed the family in Room #9...we shared the table one day at lunch time with them. It made me stop and realize that our cohort is growing smaller.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Things You are Supposed to Say...

We refer to them as the "Hawaii Papers". It is information that my Mom found back in 2007 which explained the process...caring for the dying. These brought great comfort during my Grandpa's last days...even though we didn't know they were his last days. Our intuition more than anything clued us into the process...and my mantra then was to "trust the process." This experience with Grandma is totally different. We know we are in the delicate space which leads to the end. Needless to say, the "Hawaii Papers" have again helped us. This is no place for whimps...authenticity is required.

There is one section of the guide, Preparing to Say Goodbye, that lists the five things a dying person wants to be assured of. The list is as follows:

* Things they were once responsible for will be taken care of.

* The survivors will survive without them.

* All is forgiven.

* Their life had meaning.

* They will be remembered.

It is strange to think that a list of 5 things holds the power of a peaceful passing on to better things. I can also imagine the difficulty and weight of each of these five things being different for everyone. I don't know why I am writing this, maybe it is bringing me comfort. Writing is healthier than eating carbs. We have done the assurances so that Grandma can let go. Thinking about writing helped me to think of what I could say. Writing about all of this in my blog helped me to form what I would say.

I'm sitting in the window box seat here in my Grandma's room at Casey House, my laptop warm, listening to her breath. My family and I are watching a process...and even though it is hard and not what one expects to have to go through...I know we will remember these moments always and be glad that we had them.

Yummy Heirlooms...

Grandma's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and she used to do the entire meal herself...including pies. My favorites were her fruit salad with whipped cream (our starter)and the stuffing. Her stuffing is THE BEST...a yummy taste that she has passed on to my Mommy and Sister. I have mentioned before that the only thing I am good for in the kitchen is doing dishes. After my Grandpa passed away we did not have Thanksgiving at home...we went out of town one year and then to a restaurant the next year. We did it mostly because we knew it would be hard for Grandma without her taster to test the stuffing. So, we just avoided the situation.

This year, we all felt ready to have Thanksgiving at home where Grandma both supervised and participated. My sister caught some great pictures too...I am so glad. This one is of her tasting the stuffing as the inital ingredients take shape in the pan. Note the Vera Bradley apron...we each had one for the holiday. She did lots to help in preparing the meal including making the fruit salad. I had the pleasure of sitting with her at the kitchen table cutting up various fruits, the two of us working together. We have been so lucky...to spend each and every day together. Not many have the amazing experience of having your grandparents care for you and then you are able to then care for them. As my Grandpa always said, he discovered the fountain of youth. Grandchildren.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Love in the Room...

It is hard to believe that it has been a week since Grandma arrived at Casey House...in keeping with my previous blogs...hospice is no place for whimps either. It is still surreal being here, especially since I looked into volunteering here back in 2002. I then got busy with my MBA and it kind of fell off of my radar...and now here we are. I don't know that any of this has fully registered with me. It is so quiet. It is peaceful. It has become like our home. Her room is the place we circle around...rather than the kitchen table at home.

This picture of Grandma was from around her birthday in 2009...cute right? It was one of those random moments when we were sitting around in our "home office" chilling...waiting to leave for dinner. We were headed to Grandma's favorite restaurant...the cabin in the woods...Tower Oaks Lodge. It is one of my favorite pictures because it has such a warm "homey" feeling with pictures of our family in the background. Even though we are a small unit, we are surrounded with love. It seeps in and around us...especially in this room. At somepoint we are going to be smaller, but I don't think we have any less love.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bear Claw Fan...

There are so many things that I could be blogging about...this span of time that we are in. I just don't feel up to it, but believe me, I'm scribbling notes in a journal that I have been keeping over the past few months. I have always marveled at the idea of hospice and palliative care. To see it before my eyes makes it all the more amazing and beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, check out this cute picture of Grandma from November. We had the day to ourselves...which began at the kitchen table where I had surprised her with her favorite pastry treat...a bear claw!! Also, note the cute Vera Bradley scarf she is wearing...ahem...adorable right? One of my favorite stories that Grandma used to tell was about breakfast during one of countless weekends that I spent over at Grandma and Grandpa's House. If I could, I would seriously worm my way into it each weekend. I liked to weekend in Chevy Chase apparently. ;) Mainly, I just loved spending time with them...and they fed me well...and they let me stay up past my bedtime.

The breakfast tradition when I would spend the night entailed Grandpa and I going to the Westbard Giant to get doughnuts while my Grandma made the rest of breakfast at home. It makes me smile just to think about it. One morning, after Grandma placed my plate of scrambled eggs in front of me I said, "I like your eggs Grandma, they are not brown like Mom's." Can you imagine? (Sorry Mom...you make amazingly fluffy yellow eggs now...they were brown because you had two little kiddos and a crazy dog yapping at your heels.)

In these times, I'm thinking about all of things from before and not about the fact that where will be an after.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Retail Therapy...Vera Girl Quick Trip

As if knowing that a shopping trip was much needed...one of my Vera Girls (M) sent an email yesterday seeing if anyone wanted to meet at Tiara for a little lunch time Vera Shopping. Heck Yes!!! I spent some nice quality time with Grandma this morning, by myself. It was really just what I needed. I need to update on where things stand on that front...but I am not ready. Given the tough past few days, weeks, months...we were in need of some good shopping and good friends. One of the four Vera Girls could not join us due to a work emergency...but we did her really proud.

I went a bit crazy...but in fairness...most of the things I bought have just been retired so I got them for 40% off. So, I actually saved money...right??

Here is my list...

* Purple Punch Side by Side
* Purple Punch Euro Wallet
* Sittin in a Tree Ditty Bag
* Sittin in a Tree Large Cosmetic
* Sittin in a Tree Medium Cosmetic
* Pink Twirly Bird Shopping Tote
* Folkloric Sugar and Spice Crossbody (pictured...OMG...I am in love!!!)
* Blue Lagoon Flip Flops (ahem...already had purchased Folkloric and Lemon Parfait)
* Sitting in a Tree Journal
* Folkoric Jumbo Binder Clips
* Folkloric Let Me Check (cutest book of to do lists ever)
* Folkloric Pocket Pals (cutest set of tiny notebooks ever)
* Hello Dahlia Keepin it Together (Binder and Spiral Notebook)

Umm...and a pair of Brighton earrings too. Ahem...retail therapy....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Months...

Two months ago...everything was different. We had come back from Christmas in Annapolis after having an amazing time. This is a picture from Pusser's the morning we left. Our sweet girl was able to get around with a walker around the house, only using the wheel chair for the long distances. Doesn't she look cute in her Lily Pulitzer? My Mommy got her this for Christmas...if you could see them...she was rocking a cute pair of Coach Sneakers. The day after this picture was taken...at 11:15pm...she had a significant stroke. Since then...we have been on a rollercoaster...which most of the time is really like a game of Chutes and Ladders...a constant up and down. We are taking it as it comes...but our sweet girl is tired...and our goal is just to keep her comfortable.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Watchful Watching...

All I can do these days is what I call "Grandma Watching"...I watch her sleep, I watch her stir, I watch her watch me. It is hard...I can't stop looking at her because I know there will come a time when I won't be able to look at her anymore. I don't want to forget yet I don't want to remember now. I want to remember anytime before December 27, 2010. Like this picture from July 2009 while we were in Baltimore. Laughing, Smiling, Charming...our Sweet Faced Girl.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sweet Face...

My Grandma's nickname for me has always been Sweet Face. I'm not sure where it came from or how it came to be...but now it is all I can seem to call her. Every year at Christmas, we would always know which presents where from Grandma and Grandpa. Not just because of my Grandma's beautiful penmenship...but because it would be addressed to Sweet Face or Little Bits. Little Bits being my sister of course...

The one thing that hasn't changed over the past many weeks is my Grandma's adorable grin. She is so gosh darn cute...such a sweet face. Today was a more awake day then a sleep day which meant there was more time for interaction. Somehow, someway we can connect with Grandma even though she can't talk. We make her smile...and that is enough for us. Her Sweet Face...which my sister pointed out now really looks like this adorable picture of her from when she was three years old. Adorable then and adorable now...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

15 Hour Mini-Vakay...

We are nothing if not efficient...and I was really proud of the three of us for taking a bit of a respite late on Sunday and into Monday morning last week. It was obviously meant to be...because it all happened so easily. Well...after my sister took the reigns and made the main event possible and for some reason decided to get three tickets. With the addition of reward points which allowed for a free hotel room at the Mayflower...we couldn't not take a quick little break. It was perfection. Even down to an amazing picture that was in our room combining two of my DC Favorites...cherry blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial.

When word came out about Henry Rollins doing a 50th Birthday Show in DC on his Birthday...I knew I had to get tickets. Except, the day of the pre-sale I got busy at work and didn't go to the site to get tickets until 50 minutes after they went on sale. They were sold out!! I was mortified...I was going to miss Henry. But then, in perfect Henry style, he added another show on the night of his birthday. My sister got tickets...three of them!! So my Mom, Sister, and I could all go. He did not disappoint. He never does. His shows always have a perfect arc...and you learn something. Sometimes more than just one thing. I think my favorite part was him reciting the Preamble to the South African Constitution. Beautiful. My favorite line..."Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person." It doesn't getting any more to the point than that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Catch All Post....

I am behind on my blogging but mainly because it is just so hard to know how to blog about everything going on. Especially when you don't really know what is going on. The rollercoaster continued last week...the long and short of it is that Grandma is out of the hospital and back in a Rehab Hospital (the one where she was this summer). She is fightening an infection and needs to be on IV Therapy...we could not do that at home. Our goals are to keep her comfortable and loaded with plenty of TLC. So, our time is clocked at the Rehab Hospital instead of at home. Many times it is just watching her sleep...but when she wakes...she has a loving, familiar face to greet her. Have I mentioned how amazingly strong my Mom is lately? We just go moment to moment...that is all you can really do.

I hate to say that the past many weeks have taken a toll, but they have lead to a few amazingly funny stories. It is pretty hilarious what happens when you are running on empty. It also pointed out that the short respite we took on Sunday Night and Monday Morning was probably a good idea. I need to blog about that one next. ;)

So a funny thing happened on our way to the Rehab Hospital on Saturday...we left my sister on the curb. I kid you not. It was not until my Mom asked a question and she did not answer that we even noticed she was not in the car. I looked in the backseat from the rearview mirror...and it was empty. Can you imagine? My mom always used to say that after she had my sister her biggest fear was forgetting that she now had two children and that she would leave my sister at home. Well, it finally happened...30 years later.

What do you think we did when we realized that my sister was not in the car? Panicked? No. Worried? No. Laughed our asses off? You guessed it!! We were in tears with laughter by the time we turned around to head back to get her. How in the hell did we do that? We just got in the car and did not wait for her to get in and I just drove off. We are so lucky she didn't get hurt. We chalked it up to just how bad off we are at the moment. It is taking a toll...but we can still laugh our assess off about it!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gah!!!

I had all good intentions for writing tonight...the title was going to be Chutes and Ladders...I was tired of the Rollercoaster analogy and wanted to go for something different. I'm too scattered to even begin to write tonight about the happenings and developments from today. I will tell you one thing...it has made me rue the day when I would make snarky jokes about not really having to worry until the Infectious Disease Doctor comes a callin'...the same one from when Grandpa was in the hospital in December 2007. Me and my freaking intuition...which spills out even when I think I am joking. Gah!!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello Right Side...Whatcha Knowin'?

It was not a sleepy day which was fantastic...Grandma was perky and awake for most of the day. She was grinning and ate each meal for the most part. She was playful with two new animal babies which she seemed to really love. (Insert comment about what a genius my sister is.) We have found that stuffed animals really help in not only creating diversions but also as away to express emotions. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of them..a cute green turtle and an adorable yellow triceratops.

In terms of progress, there were a few things we noticed that made us super excited. As I have mentioned before, one of the issues Grandma has is right side neglect. I am happy to report that she was looking over to us more if we stood on the right side of the bed. She was also straightening the sheets and her gown on that side (using her left hand of course). The most amazing thing happened just as we were leaving tonight...she lifted her right arm with her left hand and moved it to the side. She picked it up and moved it. This may have been the most amazing moment of 2011 so far!! Well that and when she had a really good sneeze!! It is progress...we are happy to take it.

My true confession for the day...

I have never had old person envy before...but Grandma's new roommate is 97. She still reads books. She talks and carries on conversation. She could answer questions about her health and life. She could sit on the edge of her bed unassisted. It made me so sad. I longed for all of those things that Grandma used to be able to do. Is that bad? I felt guilty...my Grandma is here but seems so far away. I miss her.

A Quiet Rainy Day...

Even though Grandma is not back home...it still helps me to keep writing about things. You still have moments that you want to capture and remember. There are observations that come from the different settings. In some ways, I am starting to wish that I had started blogging about all of these things much earlier on this rollercoaster ride. There are some things that don't change throughout the journey...how Grandman is a champ, sweet, a trooper, and a total people pleaser. I think my Mom described her perfectly yesterday...she is the Energizer Bunny...she will keep going until the battery runs out. It is clear that things are slowing down...but she is still rallying. It is a testament to her character and strength.

We had a pleasent Saturday with lots of sleeping and rest. We lost the chair we had in the room...so we justified our carb heavy lunch and afternoon snack because we were standing most of the day. We had a visit from Father Val...who has popped in to see Grandma from time to time during our various stays at the hospital and the rehab hospital too. He has a fantastic Irish accent and always wears red...it was amazing to see Grandma respond to his voice. Even though we are not particularly religious...he came in and blessed Grandma. He said "Love You" and gave us all hugs. Grandma smiled...I think it was comforting. It was for me...I'm not going to lie...a tear or too fell...I think it was relief.

Even though every dance in this space is different...there are many similiarities to our experiences with Grandpa. Some are irksome and maddening. Others are amazingly beautiful. It is hard work for all. This is no place for whimps.

Friday, February 4, 2011

No Visit Today...

I left the office too late to see Grandma...but the weekend is here so that means lots of quality time!! The rollercoaster of all of this continues and I apologize to anyone who has had to deal with me recently...especially today. I lost my cool numerous times and I am so thankful that I work with such an amazing team. Lots of people have helped me over the past several weeks and that means so much to me. More than I could ever say. That has been another lesson in this...asking for help is ok.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Year 86 - Can I Still Count the Days??

Grandma is back in the hospital so I figured I could not still use the day count. Since today is her Birthday...I figured I could work off of that as my marker of time. 86 years...60 years married (although I say 64 because even though Grandpa is gone they are still connected), 59 years (tomorrow) as a Mother, 30 years as a Grandma to Little Bits, 34 years as a Grandma to Sweet Face, 69 years living in the DC area after leaving her hometown in Vermont, and 25 years of Federal Service. Happy Birthday Grandma!!! I love you so much!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day Six - The Owl Above

In the back of my mind through all of the ups and downs...I have to remember to trust the process. You can handle whatever is handed to you. You learn. You grow. You know that it all works out as it should. And in between...you get really pissed...and that is okay too.

It was a long night last night and Grandma was up all night long. As tired as I am now after only having had a few hours of sleep...I wouldn't trade a moment. Just to be there and listen. The hardest part is not knowing or understanding what she says. You know she is communicating all of these things she wants you know and things she would like for you to do. It hurts not to know or understand...devestating. I was so upset last night, that all I could do was think about Grandpa and ask him to help us. The great Owl above is always looking out for us and that gave me strength. It gives all of us strength.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day Five - No Place for Whimps

The space that we are occupying has no room for whimps...even if you want to cry yourself to sleep or work yourself into an anxious mess of "I can't do this"...you can only be there for a short while and then the realness of the situation grabs hold and you muster the confidence to dive back in. What I love most about our three person team is how we are never all in one of those "I can't do this" moments at the same time. Actually two of three are never both in one of those moments. That is what I love the most...when you do pop into that no confidence space...there are two people there to lift you up and remind you that you are not a whimp. That in fact we are only human afterall.

This is no place for whimps...but it is for those with a full heart. My favorite moment of the day is early in morning when I make my Mom a cup of coffee. There is something about making coffee that makes me feel good. Probably because it is just about the only thing that I can do in the kitchen. As upset as I was at my own misgivings and fears over failings last night...I was reminded that we all have a part to play in this place. In fact, we are still figuring out which parts are ours to play. It is only Day Five...and we are only human afterall.

Day Four - Unexpected Field Trip

Monday, Monday...Manic Monday...so...the thing about life is...every good routine is bound to be broken. But on the fourth day? Really??? I really thought that I could go atleast a week before hearing that annoying voice on the Shady Grove Parking Machine. In the creepy Speak & Spell voice...."Thank you and Come Again." Bullshit...I hope I never hear your creepy ass voice again!! No such luck today...but the good news is that even though a trip to the ER interrupted what would have been our first "work day" routine...we still ended up back at home...so that is beyond wonderful. It has made for a long day...but emphasized how good our routine is.

I was worried about spazzing about getting to work too late today...but something in my brain clicked. It was so much fun to take my time this morning and help out my Mom too. I felt like I was more productive at work too...even though I spent most of the day in a meeting. I missed the text from my sister alerting me to the trip to the ER...but hightailed it out of there at 6:15pm to meet up with everyone at the lovely hallowed halls of the SGAH ER. We have been there so much that we help route patients to the bathrooms. It is strange to think that the first time I was there was on a Preschool Field trip. The second was when my sister cut her chin open at 18 months...it was brand spanking new then. Now it is filled with memories of Grandma and Grandpa...is that werid?

My tidbit for today is a truth from the depths of my soul...

I am still afraid of transfers...there I wrote it. I am afraid and I need to just get over it. NO FEAR!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day Three - Learn as You Go

I imagine that each day you figure out new tricks to get things done with more ease and efficiency...it is amazing how much getting through a whole day at home made a difference when kicking things off again this morning. It is hard to think of ever being truly comfortable in this world...but I can feel a bit more confidence each day. Especially in figuring out which tasks and activities are best suited for my skills. We are all part of the team.

Today...we had pills done, change, dress and transfer to chair in about 1 1/2 hours. That was MUCH better than yesterday. Especially since the 1 1/2 hours today included an attempt at using the hoyer lift...which we abandoned to do the transfer from the bed to the wheelchair the "old fashioned" way because we don't have the right sling for it yet. We also have a much easier way to put tops on...in case you were curious...zip up tops and hoodies are much easier then over the head. All these little details you don't think about.

I see my Mom with all this responsibility and it does not phase her in the least. She is so positive...and there are so many times throughout these days that she will stop what she is doing and say that "this feels so familiar." Even before December 27 she would do things or say something to Grandma and I would instantly remember her saying or doing something similar when I was little. She is a natural...just like back then. My Mom is amazing...hands down...no doubt about it. All that she does...even cooking and then pureeing things so that Grandma can swallow them. Evidently she used to make our baby food fresh too.

I thought my list for today would showcase some of the cool things that Grandma did today...

* Doing bridge pose on left side...with no prompting during dressing
* Reaching for a cup of coffee with left hand
* Fixing cute pink hoodie on the right side of her body (For context, this is huge since the kind of stroke she had makes her completely ignore the right side of her body)
* Nodding "Yes" when I commented on how strong she is
* Massaging the right hand with the left
* Making a cup with hand and putting it to her lips...because she wanted water
* Putting her hand to her face in "think pose" before responding to a question
* Watching my Mom do activities throughout the day
* Laughing when I commented on her cute pink sneakers

And just to show that not all learning is happening in regard to caring for Grandma...we (after almost 26 years)...discovered that we could use a light switch in the kitchen to turn on a light in the family room. I know right?? Learning is life long.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day Two - Getting the Hang of It

To say that we were exhausted before Grandma came home is kind of an understatement and yet...you just keep plugging along. Because we came home so late yesterday, we were not able to keep the rehab hospital schedule...it was a late night that extended into the wee hours of the morning. Getting into a regular routine is key...

Today was all about figuring out what we really need and what it is going to take to really take care of Grandma here at home. I imagine the next few days will continue in this vein. It is a huge undertaking and I would be lying if I didn't admit to being a bit nervous about how I am going to be come Monday when I have to go to work. I am definitely going to have to think about my work schedule...I may need to start heading into work later in the morning. This will be a first for me...but you have to do what you have to do. Right now, this is the most important thing.

This morning was a reality check for me...just to see how things really are in terms of waking up, taking pills (crushed in applesauce), and all the other morning rituals. The theme throughout this that you will recognize is that my Mom carries the heavy water in all of this. My sister and I do as best we can to support her. Many times I feel totally inept...actually...most of the time. I am trying to learn too and push through my fears. To face all of the things that make me most uncomfortable.

The Fear that I overcame today...

* The whole "changing" thing...or at least being around to assist in one.

The real driving force to working so hard is in the moments when Grandma smiles to you. When she can answer you with nod of yes or no. When she acknowledges her right hand. When you figure out what she wants and she gives you a laugh and a grin. When Grandma looks at my Mom. Those make for some of the best feelings in the world.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day One - Welcome Home!!

It hit me long before the big event on December 27th that there is a beautiful story in witnessing the circle of life. I love reading about my friends becoming parents and grandparents...and it occurred to me that taking care of people you love is a universal experience. One that you can relate too...even if you are not a parent or a grandparent. As a granddaughter I have been lucky to care for my grandparents...but it does not compare to the touching experience of watching my mother really and truly care for them.

2010 was a year of changes and adjustments for my family...and 2011 has not started without this same theme. As I was driving to CVS tonight it hit me...bringing Grandma home today was like bringing home a new baby (well...from what I remember when my sister came home, reading facebook, and blogs - Kelly V especially). You are scared. You are nervous. There is much shopping to do. There is a feeling that your life is going to change...because it is...in amazing ways that you could never predict. And...there are new toys!!

So, in the spirit of my love of lists...here is a list of some of the new toys we have...

* Hospital Bed
* New Wheelchair...ahem...which may have pink on it
* Oxygen (I learned a lot about this tonight...I feel like the family expert on this one!!)
* Air Mattress and Pump
* Transfer Board
* Ramp
* Hoyer Lift
* Foot Pillows
* Lots of Pillows, Flat Sheets, Bed Pads, Blankets, and Pillowcases
* Oral Swabs
* Many, Many More Prescriptions
* Cute Puppy Stuffed Animal with a Rose in His Mouth

Hmph...who would have thought I could write a list that did not include Vera Bradley?? See...these are the life changes I was just writing about.

A Four Letter Word...

I have been meaning to blog since a long while back because there was so much fun to share...an amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trips to Annapolis. Shopping. And then everything changed. Late in the evening on the eve of Tuesday, December 28 something bad happened. Our biggest fear. The one thing we were working really hard to prevent. A massive stroke.

It was a bad one...I know there is really never a good kind of stroke to have...and believe me...you do not ever want to have one. But you don't EVER EVER want to have one affect the left brain...it is...devastating. The previous two last March and April were a cakewalk. I have to say...my Grandma is a rockstar. With tremendous deficits she still smiles...she yearns to walk...she yearns to talk...she is just freaking amazing. And it is this amazing spirit that must be hereditary because in terms of caretaking...my Mom is even more freaking amazing.

I don't want to sugar coat things...I think that writing to cope is going to help. I feel this overwhelming need to write about all of these new experiences, especially since as a family...many of the things we are learning and dealing with are things that were our biggest fears. The things you think "I could never do that" are the very things that shape you into a better person. Even if you have no energy and feel that are you are running on empty...there is this fuel that drives you. I think it is a four letter word that starts with an L and ends with an E.