Five Minute Friday – Purpose

I’m joining up with Five Minute Friday again this week. I encourage you to join this supportive writing community each week and right now, they are finalizing spots at their summer retreat in Kansas City MO.  I won’t be attending as it is the weekend of my 2nd annual camping trip with friends and family but I am sure it will be a great experience!  If I weren’t camping that weekend, I would be trying to go to the retreat for sure.

This week’s prompt is “Purpose”.  Here we go…

I struggle to live each day on purpose.  I am often dealing with issues, putting out fires and trying to avoid tragedies. Much of this is self-created because I am not living each day on purpose.  I go from fire to fire or emergency to emergency, without a plan or a strategy or…should I say, a purpose?  And it is exhausting.  So, I try to make plans.  I try to create strategies.  But, I am not always good at follow through.  But, maybe if I can think of living and acting “on purpose” instead of thinking about it as some kind of disciplinary actions, I can be better.  If I wake each morning and tell myself that I will only act “on purpose” that day, so I will eat breakfast “on purpose” not “if I have time” and I will dress “on purpose” not without any idea of why I’m wearing what I’m wearing, I will make better decisions and feel better about my life.

Living “on purpose” will take time and effort though.  I feel as though I put in a lot of effort for others, but not always for myself.  I often tell my daughter that simply saying sorry for something you did after doing it is not good enough if you aren’t thinking about your actions and making decisions “on purpose” because your lack of thinking is causing others pain or discomfort.  Well, my lack of making decisions “on purpose” is causing myself discomfort and pain.  So, maybe I can live by my own rules…


That’s it – five minutes.  I had not thought about this particular subject when I started writing, but I like the idea of living “on purpose” – so we’ll give it a try!

Hope to see you over at Five Minute Friday!

Five Minute Friday – There was no control

Well, the first week of the Spring 2017 semester is over and done.  I am in St. Louis at a Speech and Debate tournament and I’m up way too late.  But, I decided I would at least get my Five Minute Friday post in this week.  If you aren’t already participating in Five Minute Friday, you should go give it a link.  This week they are focusing on participants finding those who are new to Five Minute Friday, so you’ll get some visitors and commenters as a newbie!

The prompt this week is Control:

Control is something I gave up in my life long ago.  Actually, I really gave it up almost exactly eight years ago.  Almost eight years ago, I went in for a regular checkup during my pregnancy and ended up in the hospital.  I was there for only a few hours before I was on a helicopter flying to a bigger hospital with a NICU.  In all honesty, I don’t remember a ton about it.  I don’t feel like I totally knew what was happening.  But, I arrived in Sacramento on a helicopter, was placed in a room and hooked up to monitors.  Originally, we thought I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy there (I was only 32.5 weeks along at this point, so we were looking at another six weeks or so).  But, the next day, it was decided that the baby had to come that day.  An emergency C-section was scheduled for that evening.  So, I went from eight weeks away to six weeks away to less than 24 hours away from having a baby.  There was no control.

Once Bean came along, she seemed to do well considering how early she was.  She was tiny.  She had to be in an incubator, like the eggs we used to have in our classrooms when I was in elementary school.  I couldn’t even go see her for the first 24-36 hours because I was still unstable with severely elevated blood pressure.  I was brought pictures and told about her, but I couldn’t actually go see her in the NICU.  It was all so surreal.  There was no control.

We brought her home three long weeks later.  She was still tiny.  We had to get a special car seat, one that held a baby smaller than five pounds.  We didn’t have any baby stuff yet, because we had six weeks and a baby shower still to come.  Our friends got us a bassinet so she would have somewhere to sleep.  We had vitamins and tiny bottles and tiny clothes and a bassinet.  We went to the pediatrician and the lactation counselor.  We thought we had made it through the worst.  But, there was no control.

After three weeks at home, we ended up in the hospital with a diagnosis of RSV.  I moved into a hospital room at our hometown hospital in the pediatric wing.  Bean moved into another incubator.  They would come in and give her breathing treatments every so many hours.  She wasn’t getting better.  My husband would come in during the day to let me go home and shower.  I would come back to the same.  Finally, on the fourth night with no improvement, a nurse seemed to be annoyed and told me that we should not still be there.  I didn’t know what she meant.  But, the next morning, we got news that there would be another helicopter ride.  This time, Bean would fly by herself and we would meet her back in Sacramento at a different hospital and she would be in the Pediatric ICU.  We went home to pack.  There was no control.

We received a call while driving the hour and a half to the hospital.  Bean had arrived.  They had to intubate her.  She had stopped breathing for a time.  A reaction to the Kedamine most likely.  But, they had her stabilized.  They wanted to know if anyone had talked to us about her heart.  No one had.  The doctor told me it was five times the size that it should be and was crushing her lung.  There was no control.

We spent that week in the PICU.  They had her on heart medications and an intubator and a feeding tube and so much more.  She was still tiny.  She was covered in tubes.  She looked like some sort of rag doll.  It was surreal again. We watched TV.  Family came and visited.  We slept in recliners.  We sometimes went to my sister’s to sleep.  Cardiologists came and visited.  Finally, she was stable enough for them to do a heart catheterization.  It was scheduled for Friday morning.  They would know then if it was a structural problem causing the heart size.  The news came back that it was not structural.  The doctor told us he thought she needed more than they could do and suggested Lucile Packard at Stanford.  We agreed.  Another helicopter flight was scheduled.  Then cancelled because the size of the helicopter from Stanford could not land on the roof of the hospital we were in and the drive to and from the nearest place would be wasted time.  So, they would send an ambulance instead.  There was no control.

We drove down and slept a bit before going to see her at Lucile Packard.  We walked in to a group of doctors and nurses and pain specialists and fellows – about 11 people standing around her room talking about her condition.  It was both terrifying and humbling.  We were told what they were going to do to figure out what treatment would be best.  We were told she was very sick.  There was no control.

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It has been much longer than five minutes, but once I got on a roll with that, I had to keep going.  I feel like I could go on like that for pages and pages and pages.  So much has happened and continues to happen that is out of my control.  And despite the horror of the news and the frustration at the situation and the feelings of victimhood (why us?  why her?), we have made it through.  She is not just surviving but thriving.  I am here.  I am making it work.  But, when I start to retell the story, I realize I need to cut myself some slack.

It hasn’t just been my daughter’s story, but my dad’s quick degradation into Alzheimer’s and then long suffering before death.  My mom’s cancer and loneliness and depression and then her death.  My own biopsy a few months ago (that came back negative).  If there is one thing I know, it is that I have no control.  The doctors have some control, but even they don’t have total control.  They don’t always have the answer.  At some point, we have to realize that we have a very small sphere of control and even that is not ours.  As hard as it may be to admit it, we are not able to control our fate or the fate of those around us.

But, we do have the ability to live our lives with love.  We do control what we choose to put out into the world.  Love and light and understanding.  So, that is what I choose to focus on at this point.  There is no control over what happens TO us, but we can control but we do TO and FOR others.

 

Five Minute Friday on Sunday

I’m a little late to the party this week.  But that’s fashionable, right?

I am joining Five Minute Friday again this week, although a bit late.  I have been going through a blog move this week (which I will talk about more sometime in the future, but long story short, I moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org this past week), so I’ve been a little light on posting.  And this next week is our first week of classes at both campuses where I teach AND I’m traveling to St. Louis on Thursday, so this might be another light week of blogging.  We shall see.  I need to get my weekly rhythm figured out and then stick with a routine based on that rhythm.  So, in four weeks or so, I will hopefully have it down to a regular schedule of posts.  For now, I’m going to do what I can without stressing myself out too much.

This week’s word for Five Minute Friday is “Refine”.  Here goes:

I went to church today for the first time in a while.  We had friends go who don’t typically go and it was nice to have someone to sit with.  The music was raucous.  Both the Gospel Choir and the Contemporary Ensemble were playing and the music was fun.  I’m always pleasantly surprised with the music at church when I go as I remember the music not being so fun when I was younger.

The message was also very welcome today.  It was about Knowing, Living and Loving. I had already been feeling a bit in need of a focus on love as of late.  There is so much anger and hatred and volatility in the world that it can easily create fear and outrage.  But, instead, I am attempting to focus on loving and caring.  I posted this on my Instagram yesterday:

So, the message at church fit in well and helped me to refine my outward goals, but also my inward goals.  I need to refine my vision of life.  I need to rest in God’s grace and know that He will see me through whatever comes my way.  The last eight years have been rough, but they have also been blessed in many ways.  Refining my vision of knowing God’s word, Living as Jesus would have lived (if He were me, as our pastor so aptly put it…so, if Jesus had been a college professor and parent and Girl Scout leader, what would he have done?), and loving as Jesus has asked us to love.  He has asked us to love our neighbors, our enemies, our family members and ourselves as He has loved us.  We are a work in progress, not at all refined in these skills, but they are there.  The possibilities are there for us to achieve these great goals.  And that will be my focus going forward.

Time’s up…

Hope you consider joining Five Minute Friday this week if you aren’t already there!

Five Minute Friday – Middle

Hello!  If you are joining me from Five Minute Friday, welcome to my little corner of the internet.  Please look around and get to know me and make a comment.  I will be sure to visit you as well and say hi!

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Middle”.  Let’s get started!

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I have to be honest.  the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the prompt was that old song, “Stuck in the middle with you.”

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you.
I feel a little stuck in the middle of things right now.  Life for one.  I’ve hit “that age” where I feel like more of my life may have gone by than I have left.  Of course, that can always be the case, but it becomes especially apparent as I get close to 50.  I mean, not many people live to 100, so you really are on the shorter side of life when you get to this point.  But, we often refer to the late 40s and early 50s as the point where people have “mid-life” crises.  I’m not having one of those (yet), but I am starting to wonder how to make this last “half” of life better than the first half of life.  This year is starting to feel better than the past few years have felt as far as that is concerned, but it still feels like pressure.  I think the key that I have come up with is that to make this half better, I need to live more, give more and love more.
Luckily, I have my DD to keep me young and having fun.  And, I don’t often feel like I have “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” which I have to think is a good thing.
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TIME!
So, there it is.  Wasn’t expecting to talk about mid-life today, but sometimes the prompt just leads you to unknown territory!
What’s your “middle” today?

Five Minute Friday #1, 2017 – Connect

I am joining in for the first Five Minute Friday of 2017!  I’m excited to get started writing more consistently this year (and hopefully building my blog into something “more” as well) and Five Minute Friday is always a great exercise with a wonderful community along for the ride.  This week’s prompt is “Connect”.

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Here goes:

Well.  I am finding it somewhat difficult to connect to the prompt connect.  I’m just not sure where to go with it.  A lot comes to mind.  Connecting with others.  Making connections in my life.  Connecting the dots.  But, none of it is really driving me to write about it.  So, I guess I’ll write about how sometimes, it is difficult to connect with other people and things and that it is okay for that to be the case.  We would not appreciate the times when connections were strong and meaningful if those types of connections were constant and consistent.

I often have problems making close friends for example.  I just don’t connect with others as much as I would like.  And it isn’t for lack of trying.  But, when I do find someone I connect with, I feel it strongly and that connection is there whether we are spending a lot of time together or just a few minutes here and there.  I feel the same about entertainment and activities.  I don’t often feel strong connections with TV shows or movies or exercise programs.  Others seem to find something and really connect with it and loooooove it.  But, I don’t as often.  I connect with things from my past more than anything else.  Perhaps that is where I have my strongest connections – to my past.


That’s it.  I feel that this week was tough.  I’m not sure why.  It has been a long and somewhat stressful day (although I didn’t do much).  My DD is not feeling well.  And although she isn’t feeling horrible either, she did start running a fever tonight and with her past, I seem to be in a bit of a PTSD anxiety attack.  It isn’t horrible either.  I’m not panicked or anything, but I do feel a bit of trepidation about planning and what is going to happen.  In all reality, she will probably get better in a couple of days, without any complications.  We went to the pediatrician today and her lungs sounded good, she had nothing in her ears, her throat didn’t look too bad and she was negative for strep.  So, all good signs, but then she spikes a fever.  It just makes me wonder what is going on in that little body of hers.  And, in reality, it is probably nothing but a normal 7 year old virus that is running its course.  But, in a heart transplant recipient, it doesn’t ever seem like a virus or illness is normal or can just simply run its course without some concern.

So, I’m watching what I connect with – Poirot – on Netflix.  I’m waiting for the coming “Storm of the Decade” here in California, which should be hitting any time now.  I’m intermittently cleaning and organizing and purging.  I’m looking forward to a weekend of quiet and catching up and preparing for Spring 2017.  My DD is supposed to go back to school on Monday.  We will see how she is feeling.  But, I don’t have to worry because I’m not working next week!  We are scheduled to go to heart clinic on Tuesday, but with the illness/fever happening this weekend and the storm of the decade hitting, I think we will be rescheduling that.  So, that sets us up for a relatively quiet week ahead as well.  I can connect with that…

Five Minute Friday Returns – Now!

It has been a long while since I’ve done a Five Minute Friday and I must admit that I have missed the weekly process.  This week’s prompt is “now”.  Here goes…

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Now.  It is not what I focus on typically.  I am often focused on the future.  What needs to get done.  What will I be able to do.  Sometimes, I am focused on the past.  Why did I do that?  The mistakes that I have made.  The memories of good times.  But, I do not often focus on the now.  Some may call it “being present”.  I figure since so many people write and talk about it, it must be something most people struggle with in their lives.  But, the now is important.  And the now is particularly important at this time of year.  After all, there are only a few days left in this year.  And everyone wants to begin to make resolutions, to start looking forward to the next year, to making changes to correct all those mistakes and disappointments from this year.  Some are looking forward to Christmas.  But, what about this day?

Tonight, my DD and I went to see Polar Express at the mall with some friends of ours.  It was fun.  I barely looked at my phone.  I watched my DD interact with her friends that, at this young age, she can not remember NOT having in her life.  The benches were uncomfortable and the crowd was too loud to hear a lot of movie, but I was focused on that experience.

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That’s it.  Five minutes.  Five thoughtful minutes.  Join us, won’t you?

Five Minute Friday -Create

Joining Five Minute Friday before heading out to our camping trip!  This week’s prompt is “create”.  So, here goes:

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This weekend I aim to create memories.  I am living a life with my daughter who is on borrowed time and although I certainly hope and pray she lives a long and healthy life with her transplanted heart, I also try to be cognizant of the fact that I have no guarantees.  Now, no one really has any guarantees (see this horrific story about the dad and 11 year old son who lost their lives in the Nice attack yesterday), but my awareness of this is just a bit more acute with my DD.

Many of my favorite memories from childhood are those on the road.  I didn’t always have the most pleasant of experiences at home.  My father was an alcoholic, but for some reason, when we were traveling, he was usually pretty good about staying sober.  I remember my mom reading to me (for some reason, I really remember reading Ishi one year on our way to Wyoming), listening to the AM radio as we drove through darkness on unfamiliar roads, waking up in a new place each morning.  I remember one time in Arizona waking to the braying of a wild donkey (burro?) outside of our van at a rest stop.  I remember going to museums and old ghost towns and zoos in other cities.  We did a lot of things on these trips and they always felt like an adventure.  We didn’t have super specific plans.  There were no cell phones with GPS so we went by maps and stopped at Visitor Centers.  We camped at rest stops and KOA campgrounds and state and national parks.  And all of those trips created fond memories of family.  That is what I want for my daughter.  No one’s life is all good memories.  She will have her share of hospital and medical memories that will not be great, but hopefully we can create some others that will be her true place of comfort and joy.

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Five Minute Friday – Lose

Joining up with the Five Minute Friday crew over at Heading Home again this week.  Five minutes to write on a prompt.  This week’s word is “lose”.

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In all honesty, I couldn’t think of something to blog about immediately based on this prompt.  I thought of a lot of sayings:

  • Can’t win for losing.
  • Don’t lose yourself OR
  • Lose yourself in what you love.

But, I couldn’t make a connection to my life like I usually do.  But, I think I’m starting to realize that sometimes it is good to lose.  I mean, losing weight is good when your health is threatened.  Losing yourself in a good book is great.  But, other times losing is bad.  I lose things all the time and it is frustrating.  But, it is especially bad to lose people.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve lost both of my parents.  There are still times when I think “I should call my mom and tell her this.” or that I have a memory from my childhood with my dad.  So, I guess we don’t really ever lose people unless we lose the memory of them.

So, losing is one of those things that often gets a negative, but can be good as well.  So many things in life are like that.  There is no simple way of looking at things, but instead, we have to examine them and be sure that what we are seeing or feeling about that thing is “real”.  I have definitely suffered through some losses.  But, I have also had good results from losses.


 

Five Minute Friday – Cheer

Friday, already?!?  Unbelievable!  Spring 2016 has officially come to a close (Class-wise.  Grading-wise, it has just begun to come to a close.) and I’m feeling both relieved and a little wistful.  So many things I would do differently (and can, next semester).  So many students I hope will keep in touch with me (I had some real gems this semester – I’m saying that with no sarcasm at all).  So many things I really enjoyed (and can’t wait to do again next semester).  So many unknowns moving forward!  And a sure-to-be-too-short summer “off” once I get my grades submitted!  I both love and hate this “in-between period”.  It is hard to stay motivated to keep grading quickly and efficiently when I know that I won’t have students asking me about them in class.  It is hard to not jump forward into planning without doing a proper and realistic appraisal of this past semester.  It is hard not to collapse into a pool of exhausted jelly and just watch the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel for weeks on end.  But, I am attempting to keep things going…and that includes my semi-regular, weekly blogging attempts, of which Five Minute Friday is one of the more regular semi-regular posts!

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So, here goes….

Cheer relates to “joy” when I think about it.  Feeling “cheerful” means feeling content and happy.  It also relates to celebrations to me.  The whole “Cheers!” thing we say when toasting others.  And this week is definitely one of celebration!  I gave my last final of the Spring 2016 semester on Thursday and I am somewhat cheerful in looking forward to summer break.  My DD is going to be finishing up First Grade on Thursday and I’m definitely feeling cheerful about that.  At a number of points during her short life, I wasn’t sure we would celebrate milestones such as this.  Summer is always a reason to “cheer” for me.  It is one of my favorite things about being a teacher!  I get to spend long summer days with my DD enjoying summer fun.  I know how lucky I am to have that ability.

Cheer also makes me think of “cheering” for someone or something.  I love baseball and we’re getting back our minor league team after many years of absence.  I am excited to have someone local to “cheer” on and to be able to take my DD to baseball games during this summer of cheer!


That’s it.  Not very deep this week, but it is done.  Even if it was a day late (I went to bed before the actual Five Minutes began last night.  🙂

 

Five Minute Friday – Expect

I’m joining Five Minute Friday again this week.  I missed it last week.  I almost did it a couple of days late, but decided not to.  I like the idea of doing it ON Friday.  This week’s topic is “Expect”.  Join in if you would like to be part of a supportive community with great messages to share!

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So, here goes:

I have high expectations for myself and my life.  I often over estimate what I’ll be able to do or get done in a certain amount of time.  I often have expected that things will come easily for me (because many things have in the past).  But, life is not so simple or easy and I often find myself coming out the other side disappointed.  It has not yet caused me to change my expectations though.  I somehow stay optimistic (perhaps unrealistic?) in hopes that even those things that didn’t come easily for me will still come.  I still expect that I will be able to accomplish what I need to accomplish, even if it takes longer than I thought it would originally.

Part of this “positivity” is my optimism.  Part of it is hope.  Part of it is that I realize expecting little doesn’t do much for my motivation or my drive.  So,  I would rather have high expectations and fall short than have low expectations and not have tried for something better.  Part of the positivity is based on the fact that I have had such huge blessings in my life, how could I not recognize where things have come more easily to me than to others (Bean’s heart is one thing that always comes to mind…we waited such a short time and we’ve been so lucky with her health since).

So, I expect…not necessarily “the best” but definitely good things to happen and for me to be able to do what I truly need to do when I truly need to do it.  So far, thank the Lord, I have been allowed to experience that, for the most part.  So, yes, I have had a rough seven years or so, with my parents’ illnesses and Bean’s illnesses, but things could have been so much worse.  And most of the time, I think I was pretty consistently thinking that things would be better, not worse.  I wasn’t always right about that, but the thoughts kept me sane.


That’s it for this Five Minute Friday!  Join up!  I’d love to hear what you have to say!