Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Reflections

This years Year In Review post is likely going to be a little different from the ones that I've previously done. I am all for being optimistic, hopeful, and positive, but as I've sat here for a couple of days now working on this post, I have found it really hard to find the good that has come out of 2013 for me. 2013 was a really rough year. I think it's perfectly acceptable to flat out say that this year sucked and was one of the worse that I've had in a long time.

I'm sometimes hesitant to say that it "was the worse" with anything, because I think of when Spencer died and how awful that was, and still is. But I also had A LOT of good come out of 2011. This year, I think that the tough patches overshadow a lot of the good because they were the majority of my year. I'm not saying that 2013 was COMPLETELY bad, I know there were some really good moments, but it was just so difficult with being so sick. It wasn't just the illness that brought me down, but the realizations of possible surgery, losing my job because of it, having to move, and then the recovery which was incredibly hard.

 So while usually these year in review posts are positive and reflect the entire year pretty accurately, I'm going to take a different route with this one. I just kind of want to forget about 2013, honestly. My sister did a cool Year In Review post on her blog and I thought maybe I'd do the same because I'm finding it really hard to write out everything that has happened, and I don't want to sound ENTIRELY negative the whole post ;) This helps me think about the good that HAS come out of 2013, even though it's difficult to find!


What did you do in 2013 that you've never done before?
Attended a funeral of a close friend. Became a phlebotomist. Was nominated for employee of the month. Moved into a place of my very own. Quit a job.

Did you keep your New Years resolution? Will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any resolutions and it's very rare that I do. I have goals in mind for the upcoming year to better myself as I believe those are more achievable :) I just don't think you need a new year to all of a sudden start something new. I've already implemented things into my life to try and improve myself this year and I just hope it carries on to 2014!

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My friends Christine and Adam gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Atticus!

Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately, yes. My friend Molly passed away.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Optimism; 2013 was really tough for me. New friendships and meeting new people would be nice, too. I would really like to find someone to share my life with. It's been a bumpy road since Spence passed, but I feel like I'm ready to take that next step. We'll see what happens. I certainly need to meet people, first!

What moments from 2013 will remain etched in your memory and why?
* The funeral of my friend, Molly because of the emotions and grief I experienced. It was incredibly difficult.
* When Christine told me she was finally pregnant :) They had had such a trying process with IVF and many setbacks and heartbreaks. It made my heart so full when I found out!
* Heart-to-heart moments and time with a friend. My friend and I don't spend a whole lot of time together anymore and I wonder if moments from the past didn't interfere with our friendship. But I really cherished and appreciated the serious (and even not so serious!) talks that we had and hope that this year isn't the last of it!
* Christine and Adam coming to visit me in Kansas shortly after I moved back. We had such a good time together and it was fun showing them my roots.
* 2013 Fairs in Benkelman, St. Francis, and Imperial. They were such a good time!
* The Riddle camping trip!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Recovering from being so incredibly ill and pushing through my struggles. While this year didn't bring a lot of positives for me, just getting through each and every day being so sick was an accomplishment for me. Sometimes you just have to focus on those little victories.

What was your biggest failure?
I really fell off the bandwagon with my faith. More-so than you will ever know. I don't know if you'd call it a failure, but it's the first thing that comes to my mind. I'm still not at a point where I am comfortable or feel ready to get back into it. "Get back into it." I know that sounds weird. I'm holding a lot of deep emotions that makes it very difficult. I don't need to explain myself, but I am disappointed with how that journey has went for me this year.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh yes, yes I did and it was the majority of my year definitely overshadowing everything else. I went through the biggest health struggle of my life. It started in January and spiral out of control quickly after. I went through ER visits, multiple doctor visits, GI visits, scopes, clinical trial, the very real possibility of surgery for the first time, rapid weight loss, muscle atrophy. It was awful. I've never been that sick before and I got sick enough to where I was very scared. The lack of control and rapid deterioration was terrifying. I am still not out of my flare-up with my IBD yet, but it's gotten a lot better than it was.

What was the best thing you bought?
Even though she annoys me greatly, I'm so glad I got my kitten. She makes me laugh a lot and she loves to cuddle (when it's convenient for her). I think I've decided to name her Skid/Skidz. She skids around everywhere and is so incredibly spazzy. Skidz was also Spencer's nickname, it just really, really fits.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Certainly not mine ;) But really? My sister tops the list on this one. She overcame a lot this year by starting therapy for her anxiety and depression. I've seen her make a lot of strides. Of course there is always set backs, but I'm beyond proud of her for pushing through and continuing on the path of improving her life. She deserves this and the hope that she now sees flickering in the distance isn't just hope for her, but for me, too.

Whose behavior made you appalled?
It's hard to name names when it's a public blog ;) and so I won't do that. But I will honestly say that my own wasn't much to be applauded on. I don't know if 'appalled' is the right word, really.. but disappointment seems to fit well.

Where did most of your money go?
Medical expenses. Thousands and thousands of dollars out of pocket went into medical expenses and are still going into them, too. Depressing, really.

What did you get really, really excited for?
This is a tough one. I don't know that I got really excited for anything, but a few things I really looked forward to was moving into my new house, starting my new job, and moving back to be closer with my family. What am I currently really excited about? Going to Vegas in January? :)

What song will always remind you of 2013?
I don't know that there is a song that will specifically make me think "oh! 2013!" but a song that was popular this year and really stands out in my mind? What Does The Fox Say. Oh jeeze that got too much popularity ;)

Compared to this last year, are you a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? 
a) Happier. Though it's been a hard year I feel like my heart is mostly full. 2013 is ending on a better note than it began. b) Thinner. Lost so much weight from being sick! c) Poorer. So many medical bills continue to pile up.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
This is a really hard one, because I wasn't physically able to do a lot this year. But I wish I would have read more books. Went on more trips (aside from just to Kansas to visit) such as exploring places I haven't been to before. Did more in Utah while I still lived there like visiting museums, hiked, and went to places I have been wanting to go there. I wish I would have done more on my weeks off of work!

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spending less time on my computer. Less time worrying about roommates, my future 10 years down the line. Spending less time having such a plan for anything and everything.

How did you spend Christmas?
Not too far off from the usual. On Christmas Eve we had the Sander's Christmas at my grandmas with my moms side of the family. Eating lots of food, visiting, and opening gifts. Christmas day we opened up our Santa gifts from mom and dad, spent most of the day putting together these Santa gifts, and went over to the Home where my grandpa is to celebrate the Johnson Christmas with my dads side. It was a difficult time over there because my grandpa isn't doing well and likely doesn't have more than a few weeks left with us.

Did you fall in love in 2013?
There was this boy... and I don't know if I fell in love with him, or the idea of being with him/someone. Likely I did not fall in love, but I think I have always loved him and always will, but more-so as a friend and brother and sometimes I think it's hard for me to distinguish that because I want to love someone again. I want to share my heart, my life, and my overabundance of love with a man. It's easy for me not to fall too deep too fast and too easily, I guess you could say.

What was your favorite TV Program?
I do have to say The Walking Dead. My sister and I watched it together (we're still 2 episodes behind!) and it is just brilliant! I also really love The Sing Off! I don't have TV so I don't watch a lot of shows and most of what I watch on Netflix are movies. Oh.. and Gossip Girl probably tops them all. I know, lame.. but I really got into it on Netflix and finished the last season this year. It's still a favorite!

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, I really can't say that I do.

What was the best book you read?
It's really hard not to go back to the very last book that I read! But The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was amazing. I love his writing style. But I read so many great books, not as many as I wanted to.. but still a lot of good ones! (My Foreign Cities, Something Borrowed, The Pact, Safe Haven and etc!)

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered a lot of artists I'd previously forgotten about, but I also discovered some new musical talent this year, too. The Icarus Account. Boyce Avenue. Alex Goot. And then there was also a lot of miscellaneous songs I found that I loved as well.

What did you want and got?
A place of my own. To feel better. A job at Dundy County Hospital in the lab. A kitten. To be physically closer to my family.

What did you want and not get?
Remission.  Insurance. To go back to Utah to visit.

What is your favorite film this year?
Les Miserables, hands down. It is spectacular and I cry every time I watch it!

What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 
The love and support from friends and family when I was so sick. Being closer to my sister. Getting to work again and at DCH, where I wanted to work!

What kept you sane?
Hope. I mean, really, though. The hope that I would eventually get better is probably one of the only things that got me through. My family helped, my sister helped.

Which celebrity/ public figure do you fancy the most?
Oh dear. Chace Crawford? ;) (Gossip Girl anyone?? lol)

What political issue stirred you the most?
Healthcare. No questions about that. But there were more. The little girl, Sarah Murnaghan challenging the lung allocation system. Gun control. But mostly... Healthcare.

Who do you miss?
As always, and what will come to no surprise to you, I very much miss my husband. I also miss Mary, an old co-worker from ARUP, The Soderborgs, The Riddle family, Emily Rosenthal, and I'm sure there's more I'm missing here!

Tell of a valuable experience you learned in 2013.
The biggest one I am not going to share publicly. Sorry. :) But other things? I once again learned I HAVE to be my own advocate with my health. Friends will come and go. I cannot hold on too tightly too the past because it is just that, the past.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds
All that I know is I'm breathing now.

But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now.

-Keep Breathing -- Ingrid Michaelson

Now for a few pictures that I feel highlight my year. It's always difficult to pick between only a few!






So that's my year. Here's to a really great 2014 with much to write about in my next Year In Review post =)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2010 Spencer Christmas Memory

2010 was the first and the last Christmas I spent with my love. While it was an excellent and very memorable Christmas, it sure didn't come smoothly for us! We had planed to go to Kansas to celebrate with my family that year but Spencer's health loomed over us making us question whether we'd actually get there or not. He landed himself in the hospital less than 10 days before we were set to head to Kansas and he was pretty sick. We weren't sure what was going on, just that his CF was getting worse and antibiotics weren't helping him recover like they once did and they weren't fully knocking out the infection.

A couple of days before we were planning on leaving for Christmas we got word from his CF doctor that there wasn't any chance for him to be able to travel to Kansas.. he would likely be spending the holiday in the hospital. We shed many, many tears over it. I was upset he wouldn't be with my family and get to meet my whole family, and I was also very tore over what to do... Spend Christmas with my family in Christmas, or stay in the hospital with Spencer so he wouldn't have to spend it alone.

After talking about the options and continuing to beg doctors to let us out, I came to terms with what will be, will be. I decided that no matter the outcome I was going to bring Christmas to us in the hospital and we had a wonderful, wonderful Christmas of our own. I went out to the store and bought a set of lights, a gingerbread house kit, sparkling juice, and we opened our gifts to each other early.

We started out the evening by decorating a gingerbread house. I did most of it, Spence just supervised as he still wasn't feeling the best. It turned out pretty good! The roof ended up caving it, but you couldn't even tell ;)

I had Spencer open his gift from me a little bit early. He was pretty excited.

Turned out he was thrilled! I picked a pretty good gift that year. He ended up not really using it in his chair at home because his back was so bony and it hurt him, but regardless, he did love it in the hospital!

We also had some sparkling juice. Todd, one of our favorite nurses, got us glasses from the cafeteria to drink it out of. They tried to make it special for us, too. One reason I love the staff that takes care of the CFers!

We continued to beg and plead with doctors about getting out in time for Christmas. The plan was to be discharged on Christmas day, but we had to leave before that since it is a 12 hour drive with a possible stop in the middle to sleep and do proper treatments for Spencer. We finally got a different CF doctor on call and after lots of questions and conversation, she decided that he could be cleared to go home. We left for Kansas on my birthday!

It was a pretty nasty drive for awhile. Lots of overturned vehicles and bad road conditions. We had Nacho and Chloe with us. Chloe was given some sedatives to help her be calm, and nacho just slept on Spencer's lap the whole way!



We finally got to Kansas in once piece after a very long drive! This was Spencer's second time staying at my parents place. I will never forget the number of times he told me how loving and caring my family was. How open to showing affection for each other we were. Something he didn't experience as often as I did. He loved how my mom would come up behind him randomly and touch his shoulders when she asked how he was. Or give him a hug when she went by.

One night he broke down crying. I couldn't understand what was wrong and I thought he was having a terrible time being so far away from Utah and his care team. (Because unfortunately with CF you have to worry about that a little bit). He told me that he just couldn't believe the love he was feeling there. He couldn't quite take in and comprehend it because it's something that he hadn't experienced often. His family showed their love in other ways (but did not love him any less than we did!). He was just overjoyed being in Kansas and was happy he was there.

We always celebrate Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve so on the 24th we went to my grandmas house to eat, visit, and open gifts together. Spencer was definitely spoiled that year! He was also very overwhelmed with gifts and broke down a couple of times because he didn't feel deserving of everything that he was getting. Every one in our family bought him a gift or two!




Obviously he needed his hair cut ;)


In that last picture he was playing around with a little voice recorder that he got. I actually still have that with the same message he recorded on it that Christmas!! And it's such a Spencer message too. It says, "Note to self: Kill everyone." We just laughed about it when he did it. I never expected to STILL have it on there to this day! 

We got home that night with our stomachs and hearts very full. It was a very, very good Christmas. Every Christmas day my parents get us a Santa Gift. That's our bigger gift for the year that she saves up for. We always tell her she doesn't HAVE to do it, but it's something she really loves doing for us. :)

Spencer wasn't expecting to get anything for a Santa Gift, but mom and I had been talking about it for a couple of months. He had a ton of PS2 games that he hadn't played forever. He had been telling me how he wished he could play them again but he didn't have a PS2. So mom found one online and bought that for his santa gift. He was so surprised when he had something to open!


The rest of our time that day was spent napping, playing dad's new Wii, reading my new Nook, and, again, having our hearts and stomachs so, so full. 



This was the most memorable Christmas that I have had. I'm so glad that Spencer was able to celebrate it with me and my family, it really did mean so much to be especially since we didn't get a Christmas together as a married couple. Seeing the joy on his face that year just said it all. I miss him this Christmas and every one here to follow. He's always in my heart and on my mind. Merry Christmas, SweetPea. I love you always. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another year down...

[Started writing this 3 days ago... decided to continue on with it tonight]

It is truly hard to believe that my husband has been gone for 2 years.

24 months.

104 weeks.

730 days.

It doesn't matter how you look at the length of time that he's been gone; in hours, days, weeks, or months. There is a void inside of my heart, in our hearts, that not even time will be able to completely fill. That's just simply the price that one pays for loving so truly, so deeply, and so completely.

The more time that passes the more memories slowly dissolve. Bits and pieces of them become left to the imagination and pictures and stories vs. the fact. And what hurts the most is those private memories that only the two of you shared. You know, the ones that no one else is able to recall but the two of you, only now there is only one. The weight of those memories lies on my shoulders and there are just some things I don't remember, but desperately wish that I did. Laughing so hard we cried while playing fetch with the dog, but what was so funny? Our first hospitalization together, but in what year? Our first official date, but where did we go? Planning our dream house, but what were our wild ideas? He wanted to take me so many places, but where were those places?

And it's not only that, it's the lines of his face, his mannerisms, the quirky actions and thoughts that made Spencer, Spencer. Those fade with time, too, and I almost feel guilty that those things can't be remembered by quick recall anymore. It's amazing how quickly things are lost when your not looking at them or discussing them on a regular basis. With only 2 years down, it makes me wonder how much more will become lost with time. Time. It's always about time in one way or another, isn't it? How much you have with someone, how "time heals", how much time has passed....

I sat and studied pictures of Spencer tonight. Ones from when he was a boy up until 2 days before his death. His personality came out through his facial expressions and it was one of those rare moments when I felt a lot closer to remembering him as an actual person, vs. pictures and imagination because sometimes it feels like it was all a dream.

There is one night out of the year that I pull out my "Spencer Box" and slowly sift through everything in it one-by-one. I sit down and read the piles of cards he/we received from Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Get-Well-Soon, and etc. It took me over an hour to go through just the cards. I also looked through my "Spencer Book" which contains hundreds of letters written to Spencer during his final week. The words are so touching and it means the world to me that I have the ability to go back and be reminded of how much he was loved. It's healing for me and really warms my heart. The love is so overwhelming, even after 2 years.

I'm always very mixed with emotions when it comes to days like this. I'm filled with so much love, but so much emptiness at the same time, and that's tough to sort through. I very much miss being in Utah and I long to be there tonight. Last year was such a wonderful celebration of his life and something that I wish could be done every year. But I know he was still remembered by friends and family, near and far. Last year I just took a lot of comfort of being around loved ones. It helped smooth out the day and make it a whole lot easier to get through.

As today comes to an end and another milestone and hurdle in my life is worked through, I have to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who took a few extra moments today to think of Spence. And thank you so much for all of the love that you shared with both Spencer and myself before, during, and after. It's because of you that I have made it through these trials a little bit easier. The support you've shown me is incredible and, as I've said before, completely overwhelming.

And to Spencer:

Thank you for sharing your life with me. You taught me invaluable lessons I hold near and dear to my heart. Thank you for allowing me to be your wife and the person you trusted the most with your thoughts and feelings; The person you trusted most to care for you and to be with you until your last breath. Being married to you was the biggest privilege that I have ever had. I love you always and forever, SweetPea. Nothing I can say right now differs from anything I've ever told you before... I miss you so much and carry you so close to my heart.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Values

About a month ago I volunteered and committed to completing a course through my job that we are calling the values collaborative. We're looking to better ourselves not only in the workplace but also in our personal lives. It is to focus and improve on our strengths, accept our weaknesses, and identify areas in which we can expand on to help ourselves and others around us. This course takes the core values that are already instilled in each and every one of us and it helps us dig deeper into identifying and bringing them out in ourselves.

I was very excited about it at first. I was looking forward to understanding how to expand upon the values that I already think I have a strength in and incorporate them into my job and help pass them along to my coworkers. But never did I ever think it was going to be as difficult and as personal as it is turning out to be. In fact, one of the most common comments in our classes have been "I didn't know this was going to be so personal!"

The very first class we were told that there was a lot of self reflection and that by the end there would be many tears shed. But they told us that what we get out of it really is life changing. Our coaches for the class are fellow co-workers who went to the Values work shop several months ago. They aren't professionals and they aren't perfect, so by them telling us that it is life changing, well I believe it. 

As with anything you do in life, you get out of it what you put into it. I can tell this is going to be how it is with this class. One can go to these classes so that it 'looks good', but not apply any of the lessons to their life and not reflect on it after the fact. Or one can do the opposite, they can understand how a certain value applies to their life, reflect on their strengths in that area, recognize their weaknesses, and throughout that next week figure out how they can apply that value to them in a personal way. To help at home, and at work. 

I went into this class wanting to take out of it as much as I could, but as mentioned before, I didn't know it would be so personal. At first I was excited about that fact, because I do a better job with relating things to me personally and to share my thoughts with a group -- but after the first 2 classes I quickly became upset, frustrated, and finally accepting that these are the things that I need to face since I lost Spencer 2 years ago. Almost everything talked about I immediately relate back to my loss and how my life has formed and changed since then. 

I've known that there are a lot of things I still need to face since his death. Overall, I am doing very, very well... but year 2 has been a bigger challenge for me than year 1. It's been a lot of self discovery, or lack thereof. Through this class I have, well, not really realized (because I already knew)... but they have solidified what I knew and made it all the more real. 

I do not know who I am. 

I have lost my identity. 

I am in no way being true to myself. 

I don't at all know what is important to me anymore. 

I do not know who I am.

When the question of, "Who are you?" was given to us on the very first day of class I blankly stared at the wall. There was no way I could even begin to answer that question. That's when I knew this class was going to be one of the hardest things that I've done in a long time because I was going to have to face that question head on and I was going to have to find my identity that has been so lost. 

There were a couple people who answered that question, but there was no way I could. I know that everyone searches and refines this answer a thousand different times throughout their lives. Who I was was different when I was in HS, when I graduated, when I was married and etc. It sometimes changed on a daily basis. But right now, I can't search out an answer. I think there is also two answers to that question. Who are you in a a subjective sense, and who are you in an objective sense. When I was with Spencer I could easily tell you who I was. I really felt like I had a defined roll and sense of myself. That's one thing that I really gained while with Spencer. I was a wife. A caregiver. A student. A women of integrity, compassion, rationality, overflowing with love.

Some of that I know is still in tact today. I mean, subjectively I think I have a good idea who I am. I know that things such as my compassion and love, among others, will never go away. That's what makes me, me. I suppose some of those ARE my core values now that I get to thinking about it... but that's not the part that I have a hard time with. It's the other. It's who am I objectively. I don't have a solid roll anymore and therefore I feel lost and so much without purpose. 

The other part that I struggle with in the identity of myself that I do know is this: Do I live it? Is that really who I am personifying right now? Before I could say that without a doubt I did. But anymore, I struggle with the very values that are important to me. I guess I just don't feel like most, if any, of that is who I am and what I'm living right now. 

And it bothers me. It disappoints me. Goodness I can't express to you how disappointed I am in myself because of the way that I've been meandering through my life this last year. Not only have I felt disappointed, but there are times where I have also felt incredibly guilty. I've went against my word, and sometimes the word that I gave Spencer. I've certainly lost my sense of self and I'm not sure how to go about getting it back... partially because the very thing that is going to help me rediscover it is going to put me through a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of heart ache, and a lot of facing things that I just don't know if I'm ready to face. 

It's just so easier to go through life right now ignoring and sometimes going against my values and seemingly everything that I stand for. But when reflecting back on it I understand that the choices I have made have not been good and I am disappointed in the way that I acted, didn't act, or in things that I thought. 

I've recognized that there are times I done or thought things to replace a void. Some have been to experience things that I haven't ever experienced before. Some have been just for fun. While it's okay to get out there and freely live, I also need to keep in sight myself and what is important to me. I've been trying to actually LIVE my life and do new things since I grew up so quickly and accepted so much responsibility into my life, not only with my marriage, but with things that I have been completely unable to avoid, such as my illness, losing friends and family members. Granted I would never change my marriage for the entire world, I missed a lot by taking on the roll of a wife at 20 years old. I'm back tracking now and it's difficult. 

There is definitely a lot of thinking and reflecting that is coming out of this class. Good or bad, I don't know... Feelings are mixed... but I do know that it's hard and it's depressing. It's also very obvious that it's something I've been avoiding and something that I will need to eventually be willing to work through. Taking this class at a time where I'm also hitting the second year that Spencer's been gone plus all of the holidays is also an added difficulty as this time of year is already hard enough. 

So far, I haven't been putting much into the class. Yes, I have taken away key points, and I'm reflecting on it a lot, but actually applying it I haven't been able to do. I don't do much with it outside of the class, at least not as much as I thought I would do. 

Though I have to give myself a lot of credit as I am allowing myself to write about it, which in turn usually helps me sort out some of my thoughts. Writing is one of the things that was suggested in the very first class, and writing I can do. (Maybe I am putting in more effort than I think I am...)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween 2009

Tonight I was carving a pumpkin and it brought back memories to the last Halloween Spencer and I shared and participated in together. Hadn't looked back at these pictures in awhile, so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane. And of course, because they are pics of Spence, it's really hard for me to narrow it down. Alas this is a post with plenty of pictures, though I'm sure you don't mind! :)

It was October of 2009 and we decided to join in on the fun by dressing up, handing out candy, and carving pumpkins with the family. We dressed as a cat and mouse and I think we played it well :)



Pouncing to get my prey ;)

The Blind Mouse!


And we were caught disobeying kitty/mouse laws ;)


We had a lot of fun carving pumpkins together. Decided to go with our own designs! Spencer really enjoyed it, I could tell.





Mine is on the left, Spencer's on the right. He decided to just leave the knife in there!


I'm sad we never got to celebrate many more holidays together, but I'm glad I have the memories that I do of the ones that we celebrated as a couple!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

30 Things Blog 10 -- Embarrassing Moments

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 10 -- Describe your most embarrassing moment.

Most embarrassing moment.... When asked this question, does anyone else completely blank out on the answer like I do? I mean, I know I've had plenty of embarrassment in my life, but nothing huge pops out at me.

Most of my embarrassment involves medically related things, of course.... colonoscopies and stool studies, anyone? ;) But the other day I was talking with my sister and it brought to my memory of our dress rehearsal of the musical we did my senior year in high school, Li'l Abner, by FAR my most favorite musical I've ever been in, and the funnest character I've EVER played!

My character was Mammy Yokum; "a scrawny, highly principled "sassiety" leader and bare knuckle "champeen" of the town of Dogpatch."


Play practices were long and grueling, and memorization was the absolute pits. I remember rehearsing lines and memorizing a couple of short scenes the day of our dress rehearsal. Talk about a panic! There were a few scenes I was completely uncomfortable with, but the day of our dress rehearsal finally came and we certainly had a lot of stressed out actors and actresses!

Despite my worries about the ability that we could pull our first performance off, rehearsal started out without a hitch! Everything was going really well, the audience was laughing, and most importantly, I was having so much fun which made it really easy for me to be in character.

About midway through the musical, I exited to stage left and went to the basement to change into my city clothes. I was rushing around and in a frantic because this was the quickest wordrobe change I had to do, I hardly had anytime, yet had a lot of things to do!

I pulled on my blouse and was getting ready to take off my pants and pull on my slacks when I hear hollers from back stage "Where is Nikki?! It's her cue!" I covered up and popped my head up the stairs and replied "No it's not, I'm not on 'til the next scene!" Throughout our extensive conversation about if I was supposed to be on stage again or not, I realized that the scene was not yet over!!

I had no idea what to do at that point. I was partially dressed -- half in my city clothes and half in my main wardrobe. I was panicking and realizing that I had to get out there as quickly as I could as the second part of that scene was fairly crucial leading into the next scene. I went ahead and "mostly" changed into my city clothes, yet had to resort to putting on my country boots, and leaving on my country leggings and such... I was trying to present myself the best that I could in the few seconds that I had to get out there! I rushed upstairs as I heard Sydney (Daisy Mae) say my cue for about the 5th time.

I ran through the other actors and slid out (literally), through the curtains, and onto the stage, exasperated and completely out of breath. The moment I reached the stage the entire audience started to laugh. I'm sure that my mismatched outfit, untied and flopping boots, as well as the stunned look on my face was quite a sight to behold! I tried to take a couple of seconds for my laughter to die down and so that I could compose myself and deliver the next line.... except I wasn't even sure what scene we were are, I had no idea what my next line even was!!

My ability (or very slim ability, rather) to ad-lib and improvise went completely out of the window. The laughter from the audience was starting to become completely infectious to all on stage, especially myself. I couldn't help but start to laugh uncontrollably, realizing how ridiculous I looked and trying to hide my mortification of the situation.

Understudies tried feeding my line to me, but I couldn't hear them. Sydney tried delivering it to me as well, but I was completely lost! My mother (who was the pianist for the musical) was hollering my lines out to me, but I still could not form together the sentence that was my next line. I was humiliated as I had no idea what to do in that moment. If I remember correctly a few lines were repeated over again, my line was fed to me, once again, and I finally picked up on where we were at in that scene and we were able to finish it with a few giggles throughout and a completely entertained audience.

I'm happy to say the rest of the dress rehearsal went by without any problems, and it was a very successful musical, all 3 performance nights. Looking back on it now, of course I could ad lib a few lines (which would also have delivered some laughs!), and I just laugh when I think about it and cherish the memories that came along with that one little mistake ;)



Sunday, October 13, 2013

30 Things Blog 9 -- Influence

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 9 -- List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

This one was pretty fun to do. I felt like I got to brag quite a bit on these special people in my life :)

1. Pam and Ray: Parents
I've always been a very compassionate person and now that I've grown up, experienced life, and have gotten to know and understand my parents better it's obvious to me where I got it. Most parents would do anything for their children, but I feel like both of mine go above and beyond their duties. They are incredibly compassionate to my sister and I, but also to others in need.

2. Karen and Mike: Co-workers
After I lost Spencer I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Working at ARUP showed me an interest in lab work, but it wasn't until I started working at DCH that I realized I wanted to make a life long career in the laboratory. Karen and Mike are both very passionate and enthusiastic about what they do and it rubbed off on me early on. They make me excited about being a med tech and they make me want to strive to constantly learn more and pursue a passion that I didn't even realize I had.

3. Spencer: Husband
Spence influenced my entire life. I didn't realize how much I was lacking in nearly every area of my life until he came into my life and showed me my worth. He helped break me out of my shell and understand my beauty, inside and out. He influenced my education, my faith, my thoughts, and my actions all in a very positive way. He was, and is, my better half and I am so lucky to have had him in my life while I did.

4. Jay: Best Friend
Jay is the definition of hard work and dedication. He's been my very best friend for 10 years and I've seen him overcome a lot and end up more successful than I feel like I will ever become. At only 22 years old he has graduated college, holds a full time job, owns his house, owns his truck, volunteers on the Fire Dept. and in the community. He is the HARDEST worker I have ever seen and he busts his ass to get things done. He is also very, very loyal. For as long as I've known this man, he's dropped everything for someone in need even if that person would never return the favor for him. He makes me strive to work hard, because I see how his hard work has paid off. I'm beyond proud of him and I'm so thankful to be able to know that we have an unwavering friendship as it means the world to me.

5. Pam: Mother-in-Law
It's typical to say that we wish we would have maximized our time with a person once they are gone, but I really, really wish I would have spent more time with my mother-in-law when I had a chance. I feel like I could have learned so much more from her. Pam's faith in the Lord inspires me more than anyone I know. When I first showed interest in the church she was so excited for me. She always wanted to talk about it with me and let me know how right my decision was. Looking through old papers of hers with Spencer, I was so impressed. That woman was so steadfast in paying her tithing, church attendance, prayer, mission work, and scripture study. I wish I could even be half as dedicated, prepared, and loyal to our Heavenly Father as she was. She made a HUGE impression on me.

6. Michael (Bugs) and Lauren: Friends
Mike (bugs) and Lauren are two of my many friends that I met on Starbright World, but they are two that have made the biggest impact on proving that their illness can't bring them down. I see the near impossible place that Lauren surfaced from years ago and it's incredible to me that she is now walking, making movies, mentoring, and touching lives. Bugs struggles with CP every day and he's been through some major, major scares. But this kid stays so positive (at least to the rest of the world!) even though he's hurting, or fighting for his life. He fundraises thousands of dollars for causes that are close to his heart, he goes to school, attends speaking events and etc. These two push through everything given to them and it just goes to show how amazing they both are.

7. College Writing Professor
While I think I was a bit of a teachers pet in one of my college writing classes, I learned a lot about myself from this professor. Gosh darn it, I just wish I could remember her name. She challenged my writing, each and every essay and each and every draft she gave me what I thought would be a specific impossible task to improve my writing so that the next one would be even better. When I came to her to bounce an idea off of or give a suggestion for how I could better an essay she always expressed how impressed she was. I've always liked writing, but this professor really brought forward my love and passion for writing. She brought out hidden abilities in the best way and helped me constantly learn how to better myself. She is part inspiration for the book that I am wanting to write. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have the knowledge of how to make it worth reading. Huge props to her. She was amazing.

8. Bertha: Grandma
My gma and I have always been really close. I used to spend a ton of time with her, and I still try to see her at least once every couple of weeks. Every time I am around my grandma she's either cooking/baking or doing some kind of craft. I remember as a child I would always make Christmas candy with her, and she taught me how to sew a quilt. She's always asking me what my next project is, and she gets very excited when I tell her I've started or finished something. She pushes me to be creative and continue with sewing. She also makes me want to perfect all of her popular recipes so they won't be lost when she's gone! :)

9. Shayna: Sister
I've always been very self conscious and I've always cared about what other people think of my appearance, thoughts, and actions. My sister is quite the opposite of that, though. She has a very independent-of-everyone-else type of personality. Since both her and I have grown up and become closer even though it's still really difficult for me to do, I've been able to be my own person and express myself through my own thoughts and actions independent of what other people think. Sometimes I think she takes it to the extreme ;-) But I do admire her for being HER.

10. Rose and Kevin: HS Music and Math Teachers
Rosie and Mr. Dixson have always been two of my very favorite teachers through school. They are two of the teachers who I felt saw me for me, looking past my trials and reminding me that I was so much more. Rosie Saw my love for music and used me for my full potential. She cast me into difficult parts in my HS musicals. She made me be a soprano even though I hated singing the high notes. She gave me difficult trumpet and vocal contest music, knowing that with the work I could do them.
 Never given the chance at sports, I really felt like I shined in music because of Rosie. Mr. Dixson saw my struggles in math yet he never, ever gave up on me. He saw me through tears, fits of frustration, and smiles when I finally understood a concept. He was more than willing to stay after school with me to get me caught up with the class, and he took me under his wing one summer to help me grasp difficult concepts so that I could be with my class the next year. He believed in me and knew that I could do it if I applied myself and used the extra help he was giving me. Both of these teachers helped boost my self confidence and as I said, believed in me and never gave up on me when I gave up on myself.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

30 Things Blog 8 -- Five Passions


If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 8 -- What are 5 passions you have?

1. Continuing to spread awareness about Cystic Fibrosis. Though I have been slacking on this one for quite awhile now (ie. the website), I'm truly always thinking about it, always reading about it, and always spreading the word about CF with every opportunity I am given. 

2. I'm passionate about my friendships and relationships with those who I love and care about so deeply.

3. My job. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into my job every shift and I do everything I can to be the very best that I can be for myself, my coworkers, and my patients. 

4. Organ, tissue, eye, and blood donation -- it's so important and such a selfless act, you're saving and enriching so many lives!!

5. Children -- their education and their well-being.

Bouns? Music
              Books
                                                                    Chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate ;-)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

30 Things Blog 7 -- Dream Job

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 7 -- What is your dream job and why?

For some reason this one is tough for me, and I think it may be because I am still not sure exactly what I want to do with my life. I think I've found my niche in the laboratory, I love it, but I'm still in the process of figuring out if being in the lab is where I will be happiest for the rest of my life.

When I think about having ANY job I could think of, my mind always goes to the medical field, and being a doctor always comes to the front of my mind. While I cannot think of any specific job -- here is what I would absolutely love to do, and if you combined them all, I'm sure you'd have my dream job!

1. Participate and lead in medical research, specifically of blood cancers and disorders and/or stem cell research. Discovering new things is really exciting to me, and I would love to be a part of R&D!

2. I would love to be a pulmonologist specializing in CF and I think that's because of my background with CF. While I don't know if my heart could ever do that, helping people with cystic fibrosis is a passion of mine and I think it would be very cool to make that a career.

3. Anything and everything to do with microbiology. I don't know why, I can't pinpoint why, but I love it!

4. Teaching. I want to teach what I know and love to others!


Up Next -- What are 5 passions you have?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

30 Things Blog 6 -- Hardest Experience

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 6 -- What is the hardest thing you've ever experienced?

I highly doubt you would be surprised when I say that the hardest thing I've ever experienced was losing my husband to cystic fibrosis. The whole situation in itself was beyond hard. It all was a heart shattering, life altering, mind numbing experience.

I can pinpoint multiple moments leading up to his death that were devastating to me and nearly impossible to overcome.

The sudden decline that led us to ICU. Each and every surgery. The hallucinations. Not being able to recognize me. Moments I was told he wouldn't make it through the night. Re-intubations. Sepsis infections. Hemoptysis. The decision to give him Morphine. The decision to stop his tube feeds. Hearing him confirm he wanted a DNR order. 

You get the idea, right?

Even though each hurdle that we had to overcome was nearly equally as hard, the moment that I was told there was absolutely nothing more that they could do to save my husbands life is at the very top of the hardest thing I've ever faced. That we had finally reached the end of his journey. His body had given up. Here, let's go back. Let me share. 

Things had been going poorly for awhile. Shortly before Thanksgiving I was told that he had the beginning stages of pneumonia once again. This time likely associated with the ventilator and aspirating the liquids and food that he was allowed to consume. I had been learning and understanding more and more about how dangerous each lunch infection was to Spencer. I knew that by getting yet another infection, his life was once again on the line. He had many ups and downs all within a few short days. There were times I wondered if he was getting better and was even told that the antibiotics were helping, and then I had times that I wondered if his lungs were going to get the best of him. I had hope. I really did have a lot of hope at that point, but in the back of my mind I was terrified.

As Thanksgiving came closer I noticed him declining hour by hour. Suctioning was increased. His lungs bled a few times. His heart rate spiked alarmingly high. His CO2 levels were quickly creeping up. He was sleeping a lot more, confused a lot more, and his depression was getting worse. We went back and forth with him being allowed to eat a limited diet, to a strict NPO diet. Each doctor told us something different.

When Thanksgiving finally came he had the worse day that I'd seen him have in a long time. He was hardly able to open his eyes. He wasn't hungry for anything at all and wasn't in the mood to visit with friends or family who came up. It was so frustrating for me because I really wanted to celebrate thanksgiving and really focus on what we were thankful for in the midst of all of our adversities. There had to be something, right? I think mostly I was just scared, because I knew that with each passing day I was getting closer to losing him. With each day that we had that was a little bit worse than the last, it was just another sign that his body was shutting down. By the end of the day I asked Spencer what he was thankful for and he responded with, "I'm just thankful to be alive." I don't think he could have said it any better.

Shortly after Thanksgiving we had a few more positive days, but honestly there were more set backs and more frustrations even with all of the things we celebrated. I continued to hold on to hope and I tried to share my hope with Spencer as often as I could. I looked through the clouds looming over our heads and saw the potential for a great and wonderful life after transplant, because dang it, we HAD to keep reaching for the goal of transplant.

December 3rd was our 6 month wedding anniversary and so I decided to celebrate it as if we had been married a year. I knew that our 1 year anniversary was not guaranteed at that point and I couldn't pass up our 6 month mark. We'd been through the toughest test of our vows possible and yet we were still holding on to each other with love and a bond stronger than one could ever imagine. I was disappointed that we didn't get the candle lit dinner on a card table by the side of his bed that I imagined, but I was beyond thankful that we could even say we made it 6 months. I was grateful I had the opportunity to buy him a card and share my love with him that day.

Just a couple of days after our mini celebration of our love and our vows I was faced with the hardest moment of my life. It's a moment I don't think I could ever forget because it's the moment that shattered my heart the most. It's was the one moment that completely broke me. It didn't just shatter my heart, but it briefly shattered my spirit as well.

After some persuasion from Spencer I decided to spend a few hours away from the hospital all to myself. While it was stressful for me to be away, it was a nice time for me to think and regather all of my thoughts. After a couple of hours of driving around a doing a little shopping I was quite excited to get back to him and spend time with him again.

He was laying there awake facing the door when I entered his room. I was greeted with a smile as I leaned down to kiss him. I put away a few things and proceeded to tell Spencer about my time away. I then asked him how his day went and how he was feeling. It didn't take long for him to calmly tell me that one of the pulmonary doctors came in to chat with him. I was hoping for some good news, but instead I sat there shocked, and was instantly angered.

A doctor had been in to talk with him while I was gone.

"She said I am too sick to get a transplant. My body is shutting down and we can't do anything anymore. We need to talk to hospice now. I'm dying."

With the weight of those words on my shoulders I couldn't breathe.

"What do you mean you can't get a transplant? She hasn't been following your case. She doesn't know what's going on.  We were just told it's possible!! How could she tell you to stop fighting!"

I was so upset and angry, taking most of it out on Spencer for instantly believing her, though it wasn't at all his fault. I couldn't believe that she had come in to talk to him about this when I was gone. It just didn't seem fair. We were a team and we were in this together. At the time, I didn't believe she had the right to consult him alone. I felt incredibly left out. Because he was so depressed I knew that the meaning in her words were taken to heart. I just knew that if he had any ounce of hope left it was now gone. I knew in that moment I had just lost my husband despite the hope that I still had.

I was finally brought to tears. Unconsolable tears. In any normal circumstance I would have taken a moment to go outside gather my thoughts, call my mom, and work it out internally before I talked to Spence about it. But finally reaching the point of very seriously talking about my husbands own mortality coming within the next few weeks was certainly not a normal circumstance and didn't warrant my usual actions.

The next few moments were a blur. I couldn't speak and I couldn't think. All I could do is sob into Spencer's arms, my shoulders heaving with every breath. I finally gained a bit of composure and asked him what he thought about this. His answer is no longer a part of my memory and most of our conversation about it is long gone. But I remember telling him that there was still hope. That we would talk to his CF doctor and get to the bottom of this. Despite my own heart shattering, I still tried to remain positive for Spencer and begged him to hold on to any ounce of hope that he could.

Later that day the doctor that spoke with him was able to come back into Spence's room upon my request. Before I believed it I needed to hear it from her mouth. I needed to ask questions and understand where she was coming from.

Between each sentence she said I fired back a question, grasping at microscopic strings that could possibly be our answer to a few more months, or the chance of his condition improving. But with each phrase she spoke the more light my eyes lost. By the time she left the room all I could do is stare, and once again look into Spencer's eyes and cry. We cried together, desperate for peace, comfort, and clarity. No matter how much sense her words carried, there was still a part of me that couldn't truly believe what she said

When Spencer's CF doctor finally returned from his trip, he came in late one night just to speak to us about the odds and his opinions. He told us that he had been staying in touch with the team while he was gone. He understood Spencer had some complications with his heart among other things while he was away. All-in-all he told us that at that point it wasn't only his lungs to be concerned about but also his heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Everything.

While he was speaking no questions were asked only blank stares and somber faces. This was it. This was the confirming moment for me that my husband was dying. There were no strings to grasp on to and the hope of him making it through was extinguished.

After the doctor left no tears were shed. Hardly any words were spoken for what seemed like hours. I sat there dazed and incredibly confused. How could I not have seen that coming? Where in the world did we go wrong? How could this have happened so suddenly? I was completely numb as I tried to process that the next steps were coming. That the focus of our journey was now changing. That soon I would no longer have my husband by my side. As I sat there holding Spencer's hand tears started to streak down my cheeks. I looked him in the eye. I studied his face, trying to hold on to every freckle, every line, and every memory. My eyes closed as a pool of water crept out of the corners. I opened them to see his eyes wet with tears. In that moment I would have given anything to take away his tears and the pain upon his face to see me broken.

"I'm not ready to lose you. I don't want you to die."

We sat there together in such a tender moment, those words continually coming out of my mouth, "I'm not ready for you to die."

After tears stopped and finally becoming numb I wanted to hold on to one more hope, though I knew there really wasn't any hope left. I bravely asked him what he was thinking.

"I agree with them. I've thought about this and prayed about this a lot the last few days. I'm dying, Nikki and I can't do this much longer."

With tears building back up in my eyes I nodded my head in response telling him I loved him with all of my heart. I kissed his soft lips and caressed his face, our fingers entwined so tightly as if to pause that moment and hold on to it forever. Our vulnerability allowing anyone to see exactly how we were feeling.

A piece of my heart and spirit was forever shattered that day. I lost a little bit of my light and my glow. Subsequent days were difficult to get through and that memorable day only marked the beginning of other nearly equally hard days.


Up Next -- What is your dream job, and why?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

30 Things Blog 5 -- Things that make me happy

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 5 -- What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?

[As a side note, it's also Thursday, and so this goes along well with the Thankful Thursday posts that I have done in the past! Even in the midst of our troubles and tribulations there is always something to be thankful for. Often times these things are hard to discover, but if we dig deep enough, they are there! So while these 5 things make me really happy right now, I'm also super thankful for them, too!]

1. Being hired at Dundy County Hospital. I am so excited to work with people I have known for around 12 years. These are the people who have cared for me throughout my illness and they are really just the sweetest people ever! I am also getting great experience and I'm learning from the best :)

2. Reconnecting with people. I haven't touched base with everyone who I want to yet, but I'm getting there. The adjustment from the city to the country is rough. It's hard when you've lost touch with virtually everyone for nearly 4 years and it's tough to get back in touch with those who you knew. So I'm happy that I'm slowly making progress. If only we could make plans, now ;-)

3. My best friends in Utah are having a baby boy in November -- and they are coming to Kansas next weekend! I am so excited to see them again. It's been really hard being away from the Soderborg's, I miss them so much! It'll be fun showing them where my roots are and what we do for fun around here.

4. Being in a really good place with my grief. I am so thankful that I am at a point where I am comfortable and excited about exploring other parts of my life again. I'm not longer dwelling on my past and I'm able to see my future a little bit more clear. Doesn't mean there isn't hard days or moments, but I handle them better and better each time they come. 

5. The rain! I can't go without mentioning how HAPPY I am about these storms we've been getting. I think we've gotten a little over a half inch of rain the last 2 nights. While that's not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things because it is so incredibly dry and it likely won't rain again for a long time, every bit that we get helps.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The last two months in pictures!

It's been a really long time since I've blogged about my current life, and so therefore I feel the need to do a picture dump on you all! I've made it a bit easier to sort through everything by putting them in collages, you should feel lucky ;-)

June: 
When I went back to Utah for my final study visit for the Methotrexate, I was lucky enough to be around for the Riddle Camping Trip. We had a blast! We stayed up in the mountains for 2 nights, 3 days.
 L to R: Kiara and Jaycee just waking up, sunrise, John and Dave cooking breakfast

 L to R: Family pictures of David's family, John's family, and George's family

 L to R: Dave giving kiddos a lesson about ticks, brothers and their bellies, coloring after exploring

 L to R: Myka just waking up, girls being silly, "Frodo" on the trip to the Lake

So much fun at Payson Lake!

After we had our fun camping, we stopped by Orem City Cemetery on our way home to visit husband, brother, and uncle Spencer. 

 Flowers that I put on his grave, the messages to him in sidewalk chalk, and possibly a sneak peak into the brand spankin' new logo to the riddle of CF website that George drew ;-)

 Releasing balloons in memory of Spencer

Kiara blowing bubbles for Uncle Spencer, nieces and brother drawing on his headstone

We also stopped at the cemetery for fathers day. We spent time with at my father-in-laws resting place as well. 
 Dad and grandpa Mark's grave. Writing messages to him and remember him.

Messages to my father-in-law

While we were at the cemetery we couldn't forget to take father's day pictures :)
L to R: David and kids; Brothers and their daughters; George and kids

July
The first part of July we were lucky enough to have 2 of my cousins visit from Arizona. (My Uncle Greg's kids). I haven't seen them in many years so it was fun to spend time with them and get to know them better. 

We had our 4th of July celebration a day early out at my aunt and uncles ranch. My cousins were able to be there for that as well. We had a great time that evening. Good food, a lot of laughs, and quality time spent together!
Top L: Carla; Middle L: Tessa; Bottom L: Shayna; Bottom R: Angela; Top right: my mother ;-)

On the 4th of July we went to the lake in Atwood for their big 4th of July celebration. We saw some pretty awesome fireworks!! They put on a great show.

Mid July I finally was able to start my iron infusions. My iron has been scary low for a while now and I'm unable to take oral iron supplements. My blood counts were low enough to warrant a blood transfusion, so I spent a Saturday up at the hospital getting iron and 2 units of blood. I now feel a lot better energy wise!

And just last week I was hired at the Dundy County Hospital as a Lab Assistant/Phlebotomist!
I am super excited about my new job. Though it isn't what I was doing in Utah, it gives me a feel for the laboratory in a different way. I've always said that if I moved back to Kansas I wanted to work in the hospital that I grew up going to. I love the lab techs there and I know that we're all excited to be working together. I started my job last friday doing orientation, and now I'm just doing new employee things for the next week or 2. I'm not going to lie, It's really weird being an employee vs. a patient! It almost feels wrong! haha. But I'm excited to get further into it :)

There have been things here and there that have happened as well, but those are the biggest ones for me lately!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

30 Things Blog 4 -- When You Were 16

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 4 -- List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could

1. Pay more attention to your little sister. One day she is going to become your best friend and the one person you spend most of your time with. You love her, even though you don't want to admit it.

2. Spend as much time as you can with the ones you love, even if it's just a phone call. Take the extra time to visit them, write to them, and call them. They don't stay young forever and later, as you spend time with them while their memory is failing, you will wish you would have taken an extra hour on your weekends while they were more youthful. 

3. Those 'friends' you spent hours crying over because you weren't invited to hang out on the weekends? Don't waste your time. After you graduate you will rarely hear from them. Spend your time with the most unlikely people, for with them you will find the strongest friendships. 

4. Don't even bother with sports. If it doesn't make you the most popular girl, so be it. It doesn't make you happy. The tears and disappointments you face because you never got a chance aren't even worth it. You're better than that and you have other talents -- music and writing, dig deep and express them.

5. Embrace your hometown, small town, country life more . There will be a day when you'll choose to come back and live. After being away for 4 years you'll come to appreciate it and respect it. It is engraved in your roots and even if you don't believe it, you'll always be a country girl at heart.

6. Don't stop writing in your journal your senior year of high school!!! When you're 22 you will look back and really wished you could remember your senior year! ;-)

7.  Don't be so concerned about what others think of you. Live your life the way YOU want. Do the things that YOU want. And don't be afraid to express your opinion.

8. Be a teenager. Rebel a little bit. Don't be so scared of getting into trouble. Live in the moment and enjoy your life now. Things will get A LOT more complicated down the road -- more than you could ever imagine. Enjoy it while you can!

9. Take. Your. Medications. When you're 22 and facing surgery, you really wish you would have!!

10. You've done a great job with your life so far. You should be proud of the mature way that you handle everything. Good work 16 year-old self, good work.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Forever 23


Happy Birthday, Spencer!

Birthdays are a huge milestone. This is the last one we celebrated with Spencer.
Today would have marked Spencer's 25th birthday. Crazy to think this guy would have been a quarter of a century old today!!!!

Love you forever, Sweet Pea! Happy birthday!

Monday, July 8, 2013

30 Things Blog 3 -- Relationship With Parents

If you want to know what this is all about check out this blog post!

Blog 3 -- Describe your relationship with your parents

My relationship with my mom is completely different from my relationship with my dad. First of all I am so very lucky to have the parents that I do. They have always been there for me through thick and thin. I’ve had a very difficult life and I don’t know if I would be where I am if it weren’t for their love and support. I know that seems kind of cliche to say, but it’s so very true. They’ve dropped everything for me, they’ve lived well beyond their means for me, and they’ve moved mountains for me. I know that they have my back no matter what challenges I face in the future. 

My relationship with my mom probably couldn’t get any stronger. Now that I am an adult we have a bond that resembles more of a friendship than a mother-daughter relationship. We’re very close and we always have been. Now don’t get me wrong, she still definitely plays the mother figure when needed, but she recognizes that I AM an adult now and that I need to make my own decisions and mistakes. I can without hesitation say that my mother is my rock. She’s literally my everything; my world and more. 


My dad and I’s relationship depends upon the day ;-) I wouldn’t say that I’m super close with my dad, in all honesty, and I really hate that fact. I am a very expressive person and my dad is quite the opposite. He doesn’t hug much, I love you’s come few and far between, you don’t often know what he’s thinking or going through. But I never question my dad’s love for me and I never question how much he cares about me. We have the type of relationship where we will sit down in the living room and talk about the weather and, more often than not, what the heck is wrong with my car. I can’t ever remember having a heart-to-heart with my dad, but that’s just our relationship. We don’t have a lot of similarities and so it’s hard to connect and bond with him. I’m trying to make more of an effort for conversation with him, asking him questions I may normally ask my mom, and even if I don’t want to spend a little time with him doing the things that he does (such as fix a fence, haha).