Feeling Good!


Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!


Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 145. Curly Hair and New Jackets!!

Today Was a good day!  I went to get my hair trimmed and my dear stylist gave me a cute, curly style that worked so well with the length!!!  I loved it!!  I walked out of the salon feeling happy!

Then mom and I went to the outlets and I ended up getting a hot, new coat!!  I love it!!  It made me feel good about myself and happy!!  I couldn't stop smiling!  

Then the day rounded out with a visit with my close friend and her daughter:). Sitting around the family room and just chatting:).

Enjoying these things that make you feel good about yourself and the people you love!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 143 & 144. One More Step!

It seems lately my life has been defined by steps.  Some big steps but mostly small ones that when you add them all together and look back at a distance form a giant step!  Well, after jumping back on my computer yesterday and today I FINALLY finished what feels like a big step but is in fact one of those small steps.  I finished putting together my study guide for my O & M certification exam!!!!!

Now, perhaps this doesn't sound so momentous.  Please picture 53 pages of typed notes to memorize! Momentous yet???  While the content will not expand much (although it can always be added to) the number of pages will since I will have to enlarge the print to somewhere around 14 to 16 point font so I don't strain my eyes.  For longer studying purposes I will probably go with the 16 point.  That adds a lot of pages to the original 53!  But thats ok because I have a plan to keep the freaking out over the immensity of it all to a minimum.  The study guide is cleverly broken down into 12 modules (already done for me, not my personal genius).  So each module will be printed and stapled individually and I will tackle them one at a time.

Sounds all planned out and ready to go doesn't it?  LOL!!  So funny!  It will in fact be very difficult to get myself focused and settle down as often as I will need to to study and be able to take the test hopefully in March!!  That isn't that far away actually!  Despite all my efforts to keep the intimidation of it all at bay...it simply is a lot of work!  The only positive part is...I love this field!  I am fascinated by it!  So I am determined to over come my anxiety and this stupid chemo brain of mine that leaks parts of information like a sieve and I WILL remember it ALL!!!

So say a few prayers because now the studying begins in ernest!  On top of my last semester of classes.  Yes, I am going to be going a little cross eyed and crazy by the end of April but I am DETERMINED to enter my internship with this test finished!  I can do this!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 142. Star Wars

So today was good in that I went to see the new Star Wars movie with my parents. It was a good movie!  Exciting to watch and I am curious to see what the next movie will be like!  I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it but there were some shocks!  And the cinematography was great and what one would expect from JJ Abrams!  

It was a good afternoon and fun to hang out with my folks:)

All you Star Wars fans go check it out!!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

365 Things to Smile About. Day 141 Family

This afternoon and evening was so nice. Spent the time at my oldest brother's house with his family:). An amazing meal made by my sister-in-law and sitting around the family room talking, laughing and just enjoying company. 

The best part for me was playing Operation with my niece:). She beat me by one piece!  Lol!  It was great!  Sitting by the tree and trying very hard not to make it buzz and both of us laughing and jumping when it did buzz!  A great memory with my niece:).  The simple little things are the best:). 

Friday, December 25, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 140. The Christmas Moon!!

Facebook has been plastered with announcements of how this Christmas will have a full moon and there won't be another Christmas full moon for a long time. So I wanted to see it and try to get a good picture of it. 

I can see the moon normally in the night sky but the detail on the moon that people always talk about always escapes me. My eyes just don't see it!  So my brother kindly put up a telescope for me to look through tonight and I have to say...it was pretty amazing!!  I've never actually looked at the moon through a telescope before. I've tried looking at stars through one but they were so small still that I gave up. That is why tonight was so great!!   For the first time I started to see details on the moon with my own eyes!!!  Not just in a picture!!  I know it sounds corny but it literally took my breath away!!!  

Then, to make things even better, my brother took my phone and was able to get the pictures I've included on this post of the Christmas Moon!!  You can see craters outlined by the black sky on the bottom!! It is beautiful!!  So yes, while I've smiled about a lot today...this moon and this picture abd my brother were the most amazing things that made me smile!!  I have the best brother!!  

Merry Christmas everyone!!!  May the Baby Jesus shower you with many blessings this Christmas season!!

Photo Credit:  Joseph Bacik
The Christmas Moon!

Photo credit:  Joseph Bacik

Photo credit:  Joseph Bacik

Thursday, December 24, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 139. Christmas Eve

Today was about finishing things up for tomorrow and getting to my parents house:). Dad and I went to the store for our annual last minute shopping and then came home to put up the tree!!!

Then this evening we all went to the 10pm mass (it took the place of midnight mass) and other than the oppressive wave of heat that hit you when you walked in and the incense that kept me coughing...it was a nice mass and a pleasant time!  I especially loved getting dressed up with my little brother!  Picture below!  So a good day and a good start to the Christmas season!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 137 & 138. Finishing Presents!

Yesterday and today were busy but nice days!!  Mostly spent finishing making Christmas presents and filling out Chrustmas cards!  Played music in the background and just stayed busy!

Tonight was another night of observations and that is always a good night!  I always end up laughing there and tonight was no exception!  Especially while in the middle of a serious conversation with my supervisor, Siri on his phone piped up with "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."  Lol!  We were both laughing pretty hard at Siri's unexpected entrance to the conversation!  Lol!  

So two good days:). And I head to my parents in the morning for Christmas!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 136. Cute Little Wookie!

I was raised on Star Wars and Star Trek and am looking forward to seeing the new Star Wars movie soon!  I enjoy the countless Star Wars memes that have been all over Facebook.  Today though I found myself laughing over the cutest Star Wars inspired picture!!

A friend of mine sent me a picture of his brother's dog and entitled it "Wookie Dog"!  Lol!  I couldn't stop laughing and it felt so good!!  The picture is so worth sharing so I've included it below!  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 135. A Dog in a Car Window

It's a little thing but it made me laugh today!  As I was waiting to make a turn, a car turned in front of me and as I watched I saw the cutest dog stick their head out the rolled down window and start checking out all they cars the turning car was passing!  His head was whipping back and forth and his long ears were flapping all over the place!  It was just too cute!

365 Things to Smile About Day 133 & 134. How Do You Find Sun on Gloomy Days?

I know, I am a few days behind.  The last few days though have been very blah days.  Michigan has been overcast for a week now and yesterday was the first time the sun showed it's face.  So I guess I am rolling two days into one with the smile being for the sun!  Vitamin D that didn't come from an herbal jar!!!

I have been having a hard time lately finding things to write about that have truly made me smile.  Apparently gloomy weather affects me more now than it ever has.  I am trying to find ways to inject some sunshine into these gloomy days though.  And so I am throwing it out to you...what do you do on those gloomy, cold, over cast days where getting out of bed feels like the world's biggest accomplishment?  What do you do when you can't bring a smile to your face because you want to just stay curled up in bed with your eyes shut?  Tell me what you smile about every day.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 132. Google Home Page!

Ok, it sounds silly but I have been having fun today playing around with the google home page!  Lol!!  I like classical music but learned I ma really bad at reading music!  Lol!!  But it was cool!  Putting together music in the right order and getting a snippet of some great music with some silly cartoon characters was just fun and made me smile!  Lol!!

Doing things a little silly during the day makes you smile and just feel good!  And sometimes the silliness comes from Google!  Lol!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 131. Job Applications

Today I realized something.  I am back to the place I was three years ago.  Three years ago I was starting to send out resumes and fill out applications for jobs in anticipation of graduating from undergrad.  That was such an exciting time for me because after 15 years I was FINALLY going to be finished with my undergrad.  I had been working towards that day for so long and so many things had kept getting in the way and postponing finishing that degree.  But I had finally made it to my last semester and it was time to job hunt.

Then my last finals week came several months later and the cancer was found and my life turned completely upside down.  One of the job applications I had sent out this time three years ago had turned into job interviews and it was looking like I was going to head to Southern California to start a teaching career.  I had mapped my life out.  And then that map got rewritten.  And three years later, I am back to sending out resumes and filling out applications over Christmas break before my last semester of classes for a graduate degree.

I am mapping my life out again but in a different way.  I know things may not go perfectly and I know that a curve ball may come out of left field and thats ok.  Because I also know what I want to do and this time I have a passion for what I want to do that I have never before felt.  Yes, I am a little scared that come graduation time cancer will rear it's ugly head again.  But I also know that fear is just what it is.  It's just fear.  Not reality.  And the reality is, I sent out applications and resumes today for after graduation.  The reality is that I will walk in the commencement ceremony in April and there won't be a wheelchair anywhere near me.  I will go to my internship and then start an amazing job where I can make a difference.  And this all starts today, with job applications.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 130. Yankee Candles

Tonight I am feeling mostly calm in my apartment.  I have my Christmas Tree lights on and got things cleaned up from the end of the semester.  I also lit my Lilac scented yankee candle and that just made everything pretty perfect!  It feels good in here and it smells even better!  I was sitting at my table writing out some recipes from the Christmas Tea I went to last weekend with mom and the candle glow from my Advent Wreathe and the tree lights and the scented candle made it feel homey and relaxing.

Nights like this are not often but I am starting to feel relaxed and the stress is easing up.  Nights like tonight are so helpful.  There are so many things going on in life that I just don't have control over.  That can cause a lot of stress.  But now and then with just lighting a candle and flooding the apartment with soft, warm glows, all that starts to melt away:).  I now feel ready to settle in tomorrow and get back to studying.  So thank you Yankee Candles for making such a lovely scent like Lilac to help me take a deep breath, slowly let it out and try to let go and relax.

Monday, December 14, 2015

365 Things to Smile About day 128 & 129. Scholarships are the Best!!!!

Mixing two days today:)  I got an email today saying that I have been awarded a scholarship to help with next semester!!!!  Thats a good feeling to not have to take out as many loans:)  Lol!

So happiness yesterday and today is a lovely scholarship!  It gives a little boost to relieving the stress of financial aid!  And relieving stress is very important!  Lol!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 127. A Busy, Good Day!

Today was a good and busy day today. The morning was spent running errands with my mom. Any day that starts with a trip to JoAnn Fabrics is good!  Lol!  I saw a Chewbacca fleece throw!!  Lol!! 

This afternoon mom and I went to a Christmas Tea at the Herb Garden. The tea house was decorated with ribbons, greens and lights!  It was a lovely couple hours with delicious tea and amazing food!!  Followed by a chance to shop through the Herb Garden shop with just about everything on sale!!

Then this evening my parents and I went to the Historic Village in town that was decorated for Christmas.  It was a very foggy night so all the lights had a haze around them and it was a little eerie but beautiful sight. Mom and dad and I walked through the town and looked at the lights and enjoyed the slightly warm weather in December!

So all in all, a full but good day:)

My tea setting at the Christmas Tea. 

The village all lit up!

Selfie with mom and dad!

Friday, December 11, 2015

365 Things to Smile About. Day 126. Celebrate Life Dinner!!

Every December my cancer center has a special dinner for all their patients to celebrate another year of life!  I love it because I get a chance to see the whole staff from the cancer center and it seriously turns into one big hug fest!  Lol!!  It's also good to see other patients who were there when I was and they are doing good!

 It's such a fun night and this is the third dinner I've gone too. It's become something my dad and I do together and this year was my last year as I'm planning on getting a job with my grad degree out East. And while I know my peeps there will be sad to see me go I also know they will be excited I'm gone because it means I beat cancer and took control of my life again!

Tonight, like every year, was a fun night!  The homemade food was delicious!  I seriously can't get over how good the ham was!!  The entertainment was a comedian, a Girl Scout troup singing Christmas carols and a Madrigal group singing carols. All three VERY good!  It was just fun to get dressed up, go out with dad and chat over dinner!  Always a good evening out!!  

Love to you all at the cancer center and thanks for another wonderful dinner!!

The picture is a selfie of dad and I at the Celebrate Life Dinner!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 125. Chocolate Smells So Good!

This afternoon I got a text from my dad asking me if I knew of a candy shop by me that would have some specific hard candy used in Christmas chocolates my mom makes.  Apparently the shop she normally gets them at doesn't sell them anymore.  I have seen a place called Sally May Candies around here but had never stopped so I thought I would give it a try.

I walked inside and the smell that greeted me was so amazing!!!!  Sweet, chocolate, caramel. delicious smells!!  I wandered around a bit and didn't see anything.  But I couldn't bring myself to go ask at the counter for another minute or so because I was loving the smell of that place!  Lol!  They say that chocolate makes your endorphins shoot up and I was a happy, happy woman standing in that shop and  all I was doing was smelling those lovely, lovely smells!  Lol!  The one sure place to put a smile on you is apparently, a chocolate shop!

P.S. I did eventually find what my mom was looking for but not at the happy chocolate shop!
P.P.S. And no, I didn't buy any of the wonderful smelling chocolate!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 124. TWO YEARS!!!!

I have a lot of sad anniversaries in my life.  But today was not one of those.  Today was a good anniversary.  A happy anniversary!  Two years ago today I was told I was in remission!!!  I've said the words "I beat cancer", "I went through chemo and made it.", "I'm in remission." and I realized tonight I always said those words TO someone ELSE but never to myself.  Like I had to just put up this facade of strength and bravery and nonchalance because that was what was expected.  Tonight, it finally, honestly hit me.  I did it.  I finally said it to myself.  I came through all of that and here I am with one semester left of grad school and starting my life in the field I have come to love!

The crazy part is all I could do was start crying!  Lol!  Lovely, stupid, fake hormones!  Lol!  But I did it!!  I'm two years and counting!  And it's a happy day!  A day I want to celebrate every year with just as much hoopla and craziness as my birthday!!  Because I did it and that was no small thing and I don't want to brush it aside like it was no big deal anymore.  It was a big deal!  And I did it!  Two years and counting!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 123. Project Done

Ok, yes, it's after midnight but I haven't done to bed yet so I am counting this blog for today...the 8th:).

I took my labeling project in and handed it this afternoon!  I went over it and my notebook with my teacher and there were no suggested changes!!  I was so happy to hear that!  Lol!  But I feel a pretty good sense of accomplishment that I finished it and handed it in early!  Lol!  And it will be a helpful tool for when I eventually get my VRT certification.  But that third certification is down the road:).  LOL!!  For now though, I am happy that I got everything done and turned in.  Only one more test in the morning and this semester is over!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 122. So Close!

So today was a crazy busy day!  Last class in my Living Skills class was this morning.  Then I came home, had lunch and then just went to town continuing working on my labeling project!  Thanks to the jump start from a dear friend I stopped over thinking WHAT to label WITH what label.  It took about 7 to 8 more hours (and some great help from my little brother) but now I am done with the labeling notebook and labeled examples!

I am so close to the end of this semester!  Just need to study all day tomorrow and take my last test on Wednesday!  Then I can say goodbye to this semester and start a new one fresh.  And I am SO CLOSE to Internship now!!!  Next semester I have a lot to do first though.  Including taking my certification exam for O & M!!  So close to that light at the end of the tunnel!  So close!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 120 & 121. A Great Play!!

Please don't think because I have had a lot of combined days lately that the days I don't do separately I am not finding things to smile about.  I really am!  Even if I have to sit and think about it for a few minutes!  Right now I am coming in to what has turned into finals week for me...which is technically the week before finals.  But it's shaping up this way for me and I am going flat out since last week!

But today I took a break from all the studying and projects and went to go see my niece in her school's production of The Lion King Jr. and was thoroughly impressed by these 6th, 7th & 8th graders!!  The singing was really good and the choreography was beautiful!  These kids did an amazing job and my niece was of course the best lioness!!  Lol!  It was a great hour and a half and so relaxing and just plain fun!  I was so proud of my niece and couldn't stop hugging her after the performance!!  She is incredibly talented and I am hoping her spring play will be while I am still in the area so I can see her perform one more time!!  I love plays and this afternoon was a lovely time at the theatre!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 119. No More Lectures!!

This morning after I had breakfast I sat at my computer and went through the lecture videos for this week and next week for my online class.  And 4.5 hours later I FINISHED THE LAST LECTURE!!!!  They actually weren't that long but in order to retain information for this class I have to take very detailed notes on the power point slides for each lecture.  So that involves a lot of pausing and writing and rewinding, listening, pausing and writing!  But hopefully it will be worth it and I will get a good grade on this last test that is available to take next week!  Depending on how much studying I get done for my other final next week...I just might be done with this whole class Monday night!

I think that is definitely something to smile about!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 117 & 118. More Observations!

It's going to be short and sweet because I'm wiped out tonight but in a good way! I started more observation times today with a low vision therapist I know and I loved it!!!!  Learning more and more each time and meeting some really wonderful people in my field too!!  Going to really like the next several months!!!  And determined to finish my hours before I graduate!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 116. A Nice Day:)

Today was a nice day.  Quiet but pleasant.  It was nice to catch up with a friend this afternoon over cider:).  It's good having a friend in my field that we can just sit back and talk about school but also other things too:).  Like how adorable her new baby is!  Lol!

The rest of the day was spent looking for labels for a labeling project for class and trying to plow through some more of my online class.  I think tonight I am going to relax as I fell asleep a few hours ago against my will!  I am not a person who takes naps because otherwise I can't fall asleep at night.  But when my body overrides my brain I am learning that means I just have to let go and relax.  I can muscle through a lot again but I can't muscle through everything I use to.  Instead of finding theses random reserves of energy my body just says "Nope!" and my eyes start to close and the next thing I know an hour has gone by and I'm half off the couch in strange, sprawled, contorted angles!  Lol!

Monday, November 30, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 115. Christmas Lights in the Park!

Tonight I needed to clear my head so I took a walk in the park downtown. It was beautiful and soothing!  It was completely lit up with beautiful, colorful Christmas lights!!  I circled the park and walked through it several times!

I had music in my ears and the lights were so beautiful that it was just what I needed to calm down and relax from the stress of the next two weeks of school.  I was happy to see there was also a life sized Nativity scene!!  You don't see them in public that often anymore so it was so great to see it here!  As I was taking pictures of the scene and lights another woman was taking pictures too and pointed out a little boy on the outdoor stage singing his little heart out and regaling everyone with Christmas carols!  Lol!  A pleasant and calming walk tonight!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 114. Candles and Music!

One might think from the title that this is about a romantic moment.  Unfortunately it isn't.  But it is about a pleasant afternoon!  Today I had to write a lesson plan for a craft I will have to teach in my Living Skills class to my classmates while they are under the blindfold.  I had originally wanted to make snowmen tree ornaments but had to opt for the cheaper and simpler paper chains!

So, to help me stay relaxed and enjoy doing the paper work, I lit my Lilac scented candle and turned on Pandora to my Celtic Women station and sat at my table to work.  I will admit that putting the paper chain together to use as an example was fun!  I even did it under the blindfold so I could come up with any necessary adaptations and figure out how to best word the lesson.  Now the whole apartment smells like lilacs (one of my favorite flowers) and pleasant music is drowning out the drone of the humidifier.  I have several examples of paper chains on my table and my finished lesson plan in the folder next to them, ready to take to class in the morning!  So now I can relax a little and just enjoy the music and the rest of the afternoon!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 113. A Hug From My Nephew!

Today I drove back to my apartment from mom and dad's and stopped at my oldest brother's place on the way to drop off some apple sauce and other Thanksgiving leftovers.  I stayed about a half an hour watching football with my brother and chatting with my sister-in-law and niece.  While I was sitting on the couch my youngest nephew came downstairs and as soon as he saw me, he wrapped his arms around me and gave me a big hug!

This isn't unusual for my darling nephew!  He and all my nieces and nephews give the best hugs every time I see them.  But today getting my nephew's hug for some reason seemed to be just what I needed to perk me up out of my sleepy haze of not sleeping much last night and then driving across the state today!  Unknowingly he timed that hug perfectly and it's kept me smiling ever since:).

365 Things to Smile About Day 112. 2 AM Bedtime!

Once again I am having to retroactively write a few blog posts.  This week has been a little crazy.

Today was my mom's birthday!  It was a quiet day but not bad once I muscled past the cold flash that hit me shortly after I woke up!  Once I started to warm up after a few hours and rested some, I was able to hang out with my parents and just be with mom on her birthday:)

I think the best part of the day was sitting in the family room with mom from about 10 pm to 2:15 am just talking about everything.  The conversation roamed all over the place and it was just nice to have that one on one time together and creating a wonderful memory.  While I pray fervently that my mom has many, many more birthdays, I also know that you never know what kind of a curve ball life can throw you.  And since I'll be moving away in the summer to begin my new career, I want to make sure I gather up all the happy memories I can with mom and dad.  And they don't have to be adventures or misadventures.  Some of my happiest memories revolve around sitting in the family room in front of the fireplace just talking.  So Happy Birthday mom!  Love you so much!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 111. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Once again I am having to retroactively write a few blog posts.  This week has been a little crazy.

Holidays have gotten quieter as most of my family lives spread across the country and getting together is too hard to do very often.  But this year today was a good day, as it always is.  A small Thanksgiving day with my parents, Grandma and my youngest brother:)  A delicious meal and just pleasant to sit and talk.

Later that afternoon my parents, brother and I went out to the movies to see the last Hunger Games movie.  I have enjoyed the series and was excited to see the final movie. While I wasn't totally thrilled with the film...it wasn't bad either:).  But I think the best part was going with my family and just hanging out.  Something that always makes me smile!

365 Things to Smile About Day 109 & 110. Just Another Day

Once again I am having to retroactively write a few blog posts.  This week has been a little crazy.

I am putting these two days together because they were just simple days where I did homework, rested and then drove to my parents for the holiday.  I guess my smile those two days came from just the silly things I watched on TV!  I have gotten really in to HGTV and all the home make over shows like Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper and Property Brothers.  One thing those shows all have in common are the great personalities of the people who host them!  So I am smiling over the hilarious back and forth between the people on these shows and also heading to my parents!

365 Things to Smile About Day 108. A Rough Day

Once again I am having to retroactively write a few blog posts.  This week has been a little crazy.

Today was a sad day.  One of my instructor's (who also became a classmate last semester for one class) passed away from brain cancer and today was his funeral.  Bob was such a good person.  He gave everything he had for his family, students and anyone he met.  In the few weeks I had him as my cane instructor before he first got sick I learned so much from him!  He was the type of person who could teach you a lesson once and you remembered it.  His skill in O & M was wonderful to see.  I feel blessed and privileged to have been his student.

So while I am sad I am also trying to remember Bob smiling at me when I took off my blindfold at the end of a lesson and sitting and talking with him.  Listening to him talk in our OMC class that he took with us so he could answer more questions about children since he worked with adults, was always fascinating as he drew his insights from his many years of experience.  In his over 40 years working in O & M Bob did so much.  Every time I drive down Oakland Drive and see Mobility Mile, a stretch of safe walking along the road that he championed, I am going to smile through the sad feelings knowing he has made such a big mark on so many people, including myself.  Rest in Peace Bob!  And thank you for everything you taught me.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 107. Snow Covered Trees!

Yesterday we got a ton of snow here. Today the sun came out and every tree branch was covered in snow!  It sparkled an amazing white and was beautiful the drive through!  Combine the white snow with the blue sky and it was just unbelievably beautiful!

I am not normally a fan of snow and Lord knows driving in it is no fun thing.  But when the roads are plowed and the snow is just looking beautiful everywhere else it's pretty enjoyable to see.  Now if it was only after Thanksgiving it would be perfect for playing Christmas music!  But I'm going to hold out a few more days!  Until then I'll enjoy the view!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 106 A Good Birthday. :)

Today was my birthday.  I'm 36.  Birthdays have always been important to me but now...they mean so much more.  And today was a good day!  It started with the last part of a seminar put on at school by Seeing Eye Dogs.  The gentleman giving the seminar, Lucas, heard me say that today was my birthday yesterday when we were in the first part of the seminar.  So this morning he came in with a delicious piece of pumpkin cake, put a match in it and lit it for me to blow out and lead my fellow O & M students singing me happy birthday!  On top of that, one of our instructors, Amy, had made me a birthday cake at the urging of her little daughter!  During the seminar, I was also given a chance to teach a route to a dog guide user in town to practice teaching orientation to a dog guide user!!  Any chance to learn new skills and practice my current skills is pretty wonderful for me!!

Later this afternoon I went to a movie with a friend and classmate!  The movie was really great, Bridge of Spies, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good movie to watch!  It was twice as fun to be able to go with a friend and have someone to chat with and laugh with!  Combine all of this with the Facebook messages, text messages and phone calls today...it was a pretty great day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 104 & 105

Yes, I am combining days again.  Mostly because yesterday was a pretty rough day.  I found out that my first Mobility instructor passed away from brain cancer.  Bob was such an amazing teacher and a wonderful person!  I got to know him first during our mobility lessons and then even more when he took O & M for Children (a class) with us last spring.  I kind of broke down when I found out he passed.  I just kept crying and shaking and couldn't pull out of the sadness I felt.  And I am still sad today but I am able to function again.  So please say a prayer for Bob!!

Today was an interesting day.  We had the first part of a seminar on Dog Guides and learned a lot about walking with dogs and doing Juno walks; which is where a human takes the place of the dog.  It was really cool to work on walking around obstacles and walking routes:).  Looking forward to more work in the seminar tomorrow morning and learning Orientation with guide dogs:).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 103. Things You Can Do Without Sight

As many of you know my Master's Program is in Blindness and Low Vision.  One of the classes I am taking this semester is called Living Skills.  Learning how to do daily tasks that most people don't think about without sight.  I've written about a few of them when I was cooking.  Well, today I stepped completely out of my comfort zone without my blindfold and then I put the blindfold on!  I mostly successfully hammered a nail (I can never hammer them completely strait even with sight!); drilled a screw hole and then drilled a screw into it and then the best and scariest of them all for me...I sawed a piece of wood with a hand saw!  Lol!!

The guys in the class were in seventh heaven today as finally they were doing something that didn't involve cooking and cleaning!  Lol!  And I managed to work through some fears I have had of power tools and sharp objects and hammers (yes, I am a sissy!).  It was pretty great actually!!!!!  By the time I got to the scary saw last, I was feeling pretty good!  Despite my awkward hammering and jumping out of my skin when the drill really came to life when I pressed the trigger too hard and too fast, I had survived!  I'm not saying I am going to go out and buy a tool belt and lots of power tools...but I did work through some of my fear of messing up with them!  And without using my sight to boot!  I seriously love my field I am going in to.  It is teaching me so much that I can pass on and teach others but it is also teaching me a great deal about myself and what I am capable of doing in my life:).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 102. Guardian Angels

In talking to a friend today the subject of Guardian Angels came up.  But there is a lead in to the Angel side of the story.  I was having a rough time and my imagination took over or something in an attempt to calm myself down and a phrase came to mind that I now can't get out of my head.  But that phrase helped calm me down.  It was: "God holds you together and I'll hold you up."  The funny thing was I imagined someone very dear to me saying it and it was a little  out of character for this person to say something like that.  But as soon as the words started going through my head I started to calm down.

After a while I started to think about where this phrase came from and why my brain imagined that particular person saying it.  Something you should know about me, incase most of you haven't guessed it yet, is that I am a religious person and love God very much and lean on Him all the time.  I also strongly believe in and lean on my Guardian Angel constantly!  At least, I try to remember to!  This is where the Guardian Angel comes in to the story.  I realized that probably this particular person I imagined saying that phrase was simply my Angel putting a calming image in my mind and reminding me what they are there for.  To protect me and comfort me.  To be with me 24/7.  Then I started thinking about all the many things I have done in my life and how many times I went charging strait ahead without thinking!  I am sure that my actions have gotten my Guardian Angel to just stand there and stare at me in shock and then bury their head in their hands.  And of course there are the moments that I am sure my Angel has done more than one Face Palm!  If Angels had a body of a human and hands to smack over there faces in shock and frustration, I know my Angel would have their hand constantly going to their face!!

So I guess what is making me smile today is my Guardian Angel.  :)  As much as I lead them on a merry chase trying to keep me safe and out of physical and spiritual harm, I know they will always be there for me.  Like tonight when they put those beautiful words in my mind and stopped me from crying so hard in fear and anxiety that I was shaking.  They wrapped their arms around me and soothed me, reminding me I am not alone even when I feel alone.  So even though I know there are countless times my Angel has their head in their hands because of what I do, I also know they are there to pull me safely into their arms and whisper words I need to hear to keep moving forward. The more I think of those words that came to my mind the more perfect they are in describing what my Angel does for me every day.  "God holds you together, and I'll hold you up."

Monday, November 16, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 101 Kid's Know How to Have Fun!

Tonight I took my walk a little later than normal.  I had to actually force myself to get up and moving for it.  And I am glad I got delayed because I saw the best thing when I was walking through the park!!  There is an open air stage on one end of the park and four little girls were dancing all over it and singing and laughing and being just as carefree as can be!  Their pure delight and total disregard for what people thought of them was so wonderful to see!!  They were having fun and putting on a show for their mom and themselves and they didn't care that people were watching and smiling!  I think as adults we need more of that carefree attitude kids have!  Lets go dance on an empty stage in the middle of the park and not care what people think!  Just be happy!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 100. Finished!!

OK so I'm not done with school or anything like that, but I am done with my very last incompleted class!  Last fall I had to take several incompletes because I didn't have the energy to do 18 credits in one semester.  Today I turned in my last assignment and last extra credit assignment for my last incomplete class! I did a little happy dance and then saw how beautiful it was outside and decided to go for a nice long walk!  

It's just a small step but a step that is actually taking away a lot of stress right now.  I was so very frustrated when I had to stretch my program from one year to two years. I felt like I was failing even though I was just starting. But now I see that I just had to give myself a little more time to recover.  I still get really impatient because I still have those days where I just can't do anything, my energy is gone and I have to push myself to get the smallest thing done.  So a day like today when I can put that entire semester behind me is a very good day!

   I feel like now I really am moving forward because there's nothing left that I have to finish that I couldn't finish before.  So here's to baby steps in moving forward and not getting frustrated when the cancer and chemo effects rear their ugly little heads.  I know I can do it.  Maybe not like everybody else does it and maybe not in the timeframe everybody else does it but dang it, I AM GOING TO DO IT!  This time next year all my classes will be done, my internship will be done and I will only be moving forward.

So long Services class!  Goodbye incompletes!  I'm moving on!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 98 & 99 The Sun Came Out!

The past couple days have been very dreary and rainy days full of homework and fighting against the total desire to procrastinate!  Today when I woke up...the sun was shining finally!  I won't say the desire to procrastinate went away but the desire to be outside did increase!  I got a nice walk in today and as I was cutting through a park down town I saw a wedding parting taking pictures near the fountain!  It was just a happy sight to see a newly married couple surrounded by friends and taking pictures!  So while I am still stressing out over school work...I was able to enjoy the sunshine and appreciate the happiness of the people around me!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 96 & 97 Heating Pads are Wonderful!

The past couple days have been ones full of school and unpleasant back pain!  Then I remembered I had a nice, big heating pad in my closet!  I think I literally heard my back sigh with relief when it heated up!!!  While whatever muscles pulled aren't back to normal yet, frequent uses of the heating pad are definitely helping!!  So cheers to the person who invented the heating pad!!  Thank you so much!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 95. Orientation!

Today I went to the V.A. where I will be volunteering to get more observation hours in for my Low Vision certification.  I had orientation and got the required TB test and scary ID photo taken.  It's understandable that you can't smile in ID pictures anymore for facial recognition software but man alive every ID picture now makes you look like a convict!  It use to be they just made you look ridiculous but now they make you think you are as mean as you look in the picture!!!  Anyway, I will be happily picking up my ID Thursday when I go back so they can look at my arm and confirm that I do not in fact have TB.

I had a moment after the TB test as the nurse kept wiping blood from the poke off of my arm.  I mentioned I am a bleeder and she got very concerned and asked me if I was on any blood thinners.  My initial answer was no.  And for that split second...I actually forgot I had cancer and have a port and all of that.  It was only for a second though.  Then I remembered they use heparin when they flush my port and there was my blood thinner.  I told the nurse and she noticeably relaxed.  I will happily say this about the people I met at the V.A. today; they were all extremely nice and calm and didn't even blink when I told them I had had chemo and have a port.  No sad looks.  No murmured, uncomfortable platitudes.  It was just business as usual.  That felt good.

Monday, November 9, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 94. Back to Reality

Well, I have managed to catch up on this blog today.  I feel a little bad letting it slide for so many days but not too bad as I was out in VA with friends!!!  Lol!  Today however I am back to the grindstone and the hours and hours of homework!  It was easier to get focused today I noticed though so I think a weekend completely away from MI now and then will do me good!  I am not sure how I will get away again before I move but I will just leave that in God's hands.

Today I got my lesson plan I have to teach on a talking glucometer on Wednesday done and the resource list to go along with it and medicine management for blind and visually impaired persons.  It felt good to be able to focus on a talk like that and finish it in only a couple hours!  Followed by a a grocery shopping trip!  So while not the most exciting day...it was a good and productive day!

365 Things to Smile About Day 93 Hiking in the Airport!

I am writing the next few posts after the fact so forgive the past tense narrative!

My brother Andy and I are doing another walking challenge this month and I am determined to try to beat him this time around!  I had to fly back to Michigan yesterday and that involved hiking the never ending Dulles Airport!  I managed to get about 2.5 miles of walking in before I made it to my gate!!!!  I think Dulles has gotten bigger since I last flew through there!!!!  I didn't notice when I flew in but I certainly discovered new things flying out!  Like the train inside the airport!!  That was something I had never seen before there!  Lol!  So here's to my urban hike and being ever so slightly ahead in the competition right now!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 92 A Winery!

I am writing the next few posts after the fact so forgive the past tense narrative!

A lot of time has passed since I have lived in Virginia and been familiar with the places around there.  Saturday I found something new to me but not as new to the area.  A winery by the Manassas Battlefields!  Bull Run Winery is a really nice place with the BEST pizza I have ever had!!  Beautiful, rustic decorations and amazing views!!!  I didn't have the wine as I had to drive later that afternoon but Marie and Carolyn and I decided to make a return date would happen in July!!!  Then I will be able to wine taste with them!  Lol!  Can't wait for that day to come!!!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 91 Best Friends!

I am writing the next few posts after the fact so forgive the past tense narrative!

Friday I got to see my oldest and dearest best friend Marie!  I will admit I was pretty worn out that day so our ambitious hiking plans didn't happen but that was just fine.  It gave us a chance to sit and talk and just visit!  A perfect afternoon!  I know it doesn't sound like anything much but when you get a chance to sit next to your best friend and talk face to face, you don't need to do crazy things!  It's about being there and being able to just be friends!

That evening we went out to dinner with friends and spent an interesting half hour or so sitting in the back of a pick up truck while Marie serenaded the whole neighborhood!  In a way only Marie can!  Lol!!  Laughing that hard felt so good and if we weren't such close friends I would be posting the video of one of her "aria's"!  Lol!

365 Things to Smile About Day 90 Flying Home!!!!

I am writing the next few posts after the fact so forgive the past tense narrative!

I flew back to VA for a long weekend to visit my best friend home from Italy for a visit!  I lost my direct flight into DC so it was a long day of flying and airports and connections.  But eventually I found myself in the oh so familiar bumper to bumper, creeping rush hour traffic on 28!  Lol!  Although I wasn't laughing at the time!

Then a lovely evening spent with three friends talking and laughing and being serious.  Friends like that are pretty wonderful!  Especially when they remember your favorite drink and make sure it is waiting for you in the refrigerator waiting for you when you arrive!  Thank you Ginny!  Here's to Mike's Hard Lemonade Blood Orange flavor and a great evening with Ginny, Carolyn and Katie!!  Cheers!

365 Things to Smile About Day 89 Friends And Thomas The Tank Engine

I am writing the next few posts after the fact so forgive the past tense narrative!

I drove home to my parents around lunch since my class for the day was canceled.  A pleasant surprise!  Shortly after I got to the farm my mom and I went into Flint to meet up with a friend of mine and her son at a book store that had what every little three year old boy loves...a Thomas the Tank Engine train set up to play with!!  A large track and roundhouse with trains to play with on the track!  It was a nice visit watching the little guy play and catching up with my friend!  I always love seeing her and it isn't easy to get together so I always enjoy the few times we are able to connect!!  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 88 A New Vacuum!!

As I mentioned last week my vacuum had started to smoke when I was using it.  I did a little tinkering with it and decided between the melted rubber I found and the duct taped power cord...I decided there was no resuscitating my old vacuum.  So I started looking around with a low budget for a another vacuum.

Today, I purchased my first ever brand new vacuum!!!  I know it is silly that I am excited about that but I have reached the age where something like a new vacuum is crazy exciting!  Lol!  And my first new (non used non Good Will) one to boot!  It is little and the cord is a lot shorter than I am use to and the bagless feature fills up fast...but for a small apartment it works pretty great!  And I am seeing that my old vacuum must not have been getting a lot of the dirt because I just went over a portion of the apartment tonight and practically filled the container!!  So I am hoping that maybe my allergies will get a little better with my mini Bissell:).  And I only had one left over widget that I can't even begin to guess what it was for!  Lol!  Oh well, it looks cosmetic so I am not worried!!  Lol!  Now I can happily vacuum without worrying about catching it on fire!!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 87. I'm Ahead...So Far!

Last month my younger brother challenged me to a walking challenge.  I eagerly accepted as I need to get in to much better shape before next summer and if I am not challenged by someone, I easily let myself get wrapped up in things other than exercise.  So we did a 30 day walk challenge and I finished with what I think is a respectable 30 miles and change.  However, it wasn't enough to beat his 38 miles and change!  So I asked him for a rematch...partly so I could let the competitive side maybe have a chance to win and partly to keep me moving.  My loving, and encouraging younger brother accepted and yesterday was day one.

I was worried because I can't generally do more than two miles at a time before I start getting too warm which brings on hot flashes and dizzy.  Granted, I am usually walking as fast as I can without going full on power walking but still...I try to avoid those annoying hot flashes!  Anyway, he can walk 3 to 4 miles at a stretch.  So in my first two days I have managed a combination of 3.5 miles and that was good as that keeps me about 1 mile ahead right now!  lol!  So at least today I am in the lead!  Thats how the first challenge started but I am determined to at the very least narrow the gap if he wins again and then if I can't stay ahead this month, there is always next month!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 86 THE SUN IS BACK!!!

I woke up this morning and not only did I get an "extra" hour of sleep...the sun was also shining into my bedroom for the first time in a week!!  It was such a beautiful Fall day today and I couldn't help but take advantage of that!  A nice 1.5 mile walk this afternoon was perfect!!!  I soaked up some Vitamin D, warm sunshine and clean, crisp air!  Everyone was out walking today!  Lol!  It was nice to see I wasn't the only one missing the sun and ready to ban rain forever!!!  Lol!  Looking forward to several days in a row of this lovely weather!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 84 & 85. Finally Found a Smile.

Yesterday and today have been pretty rough.  A lot of school work, constant rain and the inability to focus, among many other things, has been building on top of me lately and today the damn burst and it was just not a good day.

I realized today was the second day without writing anything on here and I was seriously tempted to let it go to day three to see if things improved.  But then I remembered that would completely go against what I am trying to do here.  To remind myself that there is always something to make you smile, even on those terrible, no good days.

I will admit, I have been struggling as to what to write about.  I was scrolling through Facebook tonight looking at all the costumes of people and unfortunately, that just made me miss my friends more!  Then I came across a silly meme.  Nothing overly hysterical about it, but for some reason it started to make me laugh so hard!!  Every time I went back to it (and I found myself scrolling back to it several times) I just started laughing again!  And that felt so good!  I really, really needed to laugh today!  So I am sharing it below and hoping to spread the laughter to anyone else having a string of those terrible, no good days.

For my friends who can't see, the cartoon is of a mother in the kitchen basting a turkey and a bottle and glass of wine on the counter behind her.  She is singing: "Because you know I'm all about that baste, 'bout that baste--" and her daughter is looking at her saying "No more wine mom."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 82 & 83 Crazy Busy But Feels Good!

And yet another two days in one post!  I don't feel as bad about these anymore!  Lol!!  I'm still keeping up fairly well I think!!

Anyway, yesterday, like most days lately, was really busy with school and the Low Vision Clinic.  Lately being at the clinic, while always amazing, has been draining.  Hard to focus and my supervisor noticed.  Last night I felt on the ball!  Yes, things go their own speed there and you can't rush.  But I felt on top of my work...I got my eye phys terminology correct and learned about a couple new devices!  So all in all a good night.  It felt good being able to focus there again last night!

Today has been another busy day with homework and studying.  I woke up and literally rolled out of bed, had breakfast and started studying and organizing notes for an exam online.  Then I took said exam and this time I finished with 4 minutes the spare instead of 1 second!  I feel fairly good about the test.   Not perfect though.  I have learned if I start second guessing my answers I generally move in the wrong direction.  So I answered the best I could while being able to look up some information since it was open note and open book.  We will just have to see!  Then I went strait into working on another assignment after the test.

So yes, a busy couple days but I am smiling because I am accomplishing things!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 81. Smoking Vacuum!!

Between homework and studying today I decided to take a break and do some cleaning.  I pulled out my trusty vacuum and went to town!!

I got the vacuum four years ago from Good Will so I knew it wasn't new and it held out through four years and several moves!  Today...it vacuumed its last!  

As I was covering the area by my sliding door I noticed that puffs of smoke were coming up from under the front. Instead of turning it off, I found myself wondering how much more I could do before it got dangerous!  Lol!  I gave it up when I started to smell burning rubber!!  My poor vacuum is bound for the dumpster and I need to try to find a new one.  I couldn't help but laugh though as my first thought was "Can this thing make it a little longer?!" rather than "Oh shoot!  Smoke coming from my vacuum!  I should turn this off!"  Lol!  

Monday, October 26, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 80. A New Pumpkin

Two weeks ago I got a nice, big pumpkin at Meijers and carved a fun Jack-O-Lantern on it!  I put it outside my sliding door and it just added a nice little cuteness to my porch:).  I noticed yesterday that the lid on top was shrinking and so I took a closer look and saw that in two weeks the pumpkin had turned almost completely to mush!  While I know that carved pumpkins don't last forever, that is the first time I have had one completely go icky and black and gucky on my in only two weeks!

Tonight, when I was at the store I saw a bin of pumpkins and couldn't resist getting one to replace the sad little pumpkin rotting on my stoop!  So I grabbed one and brought it home, placing it next to it's dilapidated twin and then scooped the poor, old one up in a bag and tossed it in the dumpster:(.  Now sits an un carved, but healthy looking, pumpkin by my door and I am torn between carving it and risking it melting before the weekend or leaving it whole to double for both Halloween and Thanksgiving?  I would add to it as time goes on maybe so it doesn't look so lonely.  They only problem is for some reason starting November 1, unless you are growing them, there is nary a pumpkin to be found!  I shall have to ponder this overnight and decide tomorrow.  A grinning Jack-O-Lantern for a short time or a pretty, whole pumpkin for a little longer?

365 Things to Smile About Day 79. Blue Sky And Autumn Leaves!

Yesterday I went for a walk between studying for two different tests and finishing out the week for another class.  I needed to clear my head and walk away from it all for just a little bit.  So I plugged in my headphones and found a good Pandora station and just started to walk.

The sun was shining and the sky was a deep blue!  As I was walking down my road I looked up and couldn't help but stop at the beauty of the yellow leaves on a tree agains the blue sky!  The contrast was so intense!  Both the blue and the yellow were vibrant and crisp against each other!  It really was quite breath taking!  I ended up taking a little longer walk then I had planned and just enjoyed the different colored leaves against the sky and the cool breeze blowing on my face with music in my ears!  A very calming and relaxing walk that enabled me to get back to studying afterwards with no problems!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 78. Hilarious Sights!!!

It's really amazing the things you see when driving down the road!   It can be anything from cute dogs and strange outfits, to people dancing to their music in their ears!

Today I saw something that made me crack up laughing so hard!!  On the sidewalk was a man practicing riding a unicycle!!  A sight you don't see every day!  Lol!!  Most of the rest of my drive home I thought about that sight and couldn't stop laughing about it!  So props to the man on the unicycle and thanks for the laugh!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 77. Going Out

Yesterday was a good day!!!  My sister Anne flew in from Cali for a visit!  I haven't seen her in about three years so it has been great!!!!!  

Last night she and I went out to support our younger brother Joe as he helped a friend with opening night for a new band venue!  It was a cool spot with several different bands set up to play. We got there early and as we left around 9 pm the crowd was growing!!!!  So it looks like it was a fun and successful opening night and I had so much fun hanging with my sister!!!  Below is a picture of the three of us as Joe worked the front door...totally psyched over the crowd coming in!
So if you live near Cheseaning Michigan, check out the building behind McFarlands for live music and drinks!

Friday, October 23, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 76. A beautiful day and walk

I drove to my parents farm in the early afternoon and it was a beautiful day!!!  Sun shining, blue sky and leaves turning! When I got to the farm my mom and I ended up going for a leasirely stroll, as she is still recovering from a knee injury. 

After our almost half mile walk we went to the back yard and sat under an apple tree to enjoy the weather!  The sheep were talking to us (wondering why we weren't giving them more food as that is what humans are for in their minds!!) and we were chatting about this and that. It was just pleasant and relaxing!  I totally recommend everyone just going outside and enjoying this Autumn weather with someone you love!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 75. A Beautiful Afternoon

Nothing really special happened today.  It was a regular day with class in the morning and low vision clinic in the late afternoon / evening...which is always a good time:)  But this afternoon was just a beautiful day.  I had to be inside working on some things but through my door I could see beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow on the trees and blue sky with puffy clouds!  Just a very calming and relaxing picture:)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 74 A GOO DAY:)

Today was a good day!  I didn't get as much done that I wanted to but I was able to get two very important things accomplished!

First, I was able to get registered for my last three classes for my degree next semester!!  After they finish in April I start my internship in May and when that is done (about 15 weeks later) I will get my diploma!!!!

Second, I turned in the paperwork for my graduation audit, which registers you to graduate!  I am hoping to walk at the ceremony this April and then get my diploma in September.  So, in about 5 months, I will be walking in the graduation ceremony...and there WON'T be a wheel chair in sight!!!  And I won't need someone to hold my arm for balance while I walk across the stage!!  I WILL STILL BE IN REMISSION WITH NO SIGN OF CANCER AND STARTING A WONDERFUL NEW CHAPTER!!  And yes I had to shout that because cancer is a stubborn little b%#&h and doesn't like to listen so you sometimes have to shout to make sure you are understood!

For those wondering...this excitement I'm feeling now goes back to my cancer diagnosis.  The week before finals for my undergrad degree (at the same University I am at now) I was in and out of the ER and then admitted for five days.  I ended up having 5 blood transfusions because of a good amount of blood loss in 5 days.  I also ended up in surgery on the first day of my finals and actually at the same time as my first final!  I was released a day later but was still crazy anemic so I couldn't walk very far or long.  I was given my diagnosis the next day and that pretty much took whatever wind I had left in my sails out!  So three days later when the graduation ceremony came around (all but one teacher gave me passes on my finals) I had to use a wheelchair for the walk in, the walk to and from the stage and the walk out.  And a very kind gentleman walked across the stage with me so I could balance on him.  I was so pumped I kinda flew across that stage (adrenaline is amazing!) and ended up almost stumbling on the ramp off it and was happy to see the wheelchair waiting for me on the other side!!

Anyway, I guess my point is, three years later, I WON'T need a wheel chair!  I WILL walk in and out and across the stage on my own steam!!  That to me is pretty amazing!  And today I took a big step towards that moment!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 72 & 73 Study Guides and Perfect Weather!

Ok, so this could become a little bit of a trend during this semester.  It's a good thing in a way,  It means I am staying busy.  And when I stay busy time passes quicker.  And when time passes quicker school is finished sooner.  And when school is finished sooner I can get to my internship and then, God Willing, a job in my field and FINALLY settle down!  So you see...have to combine two days here and there is in fact good:)  You just have to follow the trail of peanuts that lead to this conclusion.

I think the best thing about yesterday was getting some good work done on my study guide for my certification exam.  I am having to switch up my study plan but thats ok.  I can still get everything studied and my practice test done before I set up my exam date.  Although I am going to have to start that process this week or next week at the latest!  Kinda scary how quickly this exam is coming up!

For today I have to say the weather brought the biggest smile to my face!  It is so beautiful with the sun out and the sky blue and the leaves changing and a cool breeze!!  I had to walk around outside today while doing an assignment for a class and it was so gorgeous out!!!  It made taking the long way around to the library parking lot totally worth it!!  The Fall smell is in the air and the leaves are changing colors on the trees to splash brilliant colors all over the place and also crunching underfoot!  The best time of year is Autumn!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 71. Pumpkin Carving!!!

Ever since I was little we always carved pumpkins for Halloween:). Each kid got a small to medium sized pumpkin and then mom and dad got the big family pumpkin!  We would carve our own with the faces we wanted and then each kid got a feature on the family pumpkin to carve any way we wanted. An eye, the nose, half the mouth...and with a big family this pumpkin got detailed!  Ears and even eye brows showed up!  Lol!

Tonight I carved a pumpkin for myself:). It isn't elaborate like the amazing pumpkins you see on Facebook and it isn't funny detailed like the family pumpkin but I'm rather pleased with it:). Carrying on traditions even living on my own is pretty fun!  So now I have a cutely carved pumpkin outside my sliding door and Halloween can come:)

Friday, October 16, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 70. Friends.

Friends are wonderful to have and mine are pretty great:). Tonight I had a fun talk with my dear friend Ginny:). 700 miles away and we were chatting and goofing off like we weren't:)

While deep conversations with friends are important I think the silly ones are important too. Or sit there talking and working on things at the same time.   So thank you my dear friend for the conversation tonight and can't wait to see ya'll next month!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

2 Years

This post isn't a part of my 365 Things to Smile About blog but that doesn't mean there isn't something to smile about.  Just that this entry is a little more serious and a little more reflective.  Today, Oct. 15, is two years since my last chemo treatment.  That thought alone is a pretty happy and exciting one to have!  But other thoughts come to mind as well and I am learning to acknowledge them, voice them and then try to let them go.  I have been pushing down a lot of thoughts and feelings when it comes to my cancer because I feel like it shouldn't be affecting me anymore and I am afraid that is what other people are thinking too.

The thing is, it is still affecting me.  Maybe not as directly in some ways.  I'm not spending the night hopped up on steroids knowing that a horrible crash off of them and the week long plus feeling of being horribly sick looms before me.  But that memory is still so fresh in my mind.  That feeling of total lack of control, fear, anxiety, not knowing what is going to happen next.  It was a strange feeling two years ago.  I was dreading the recovery and not quite acknowledging how long that was going to take and at the same time I could also see life finally opening up in front of me.  Painfully slowly but it was opening up.  I remember being afraid of moving forward.  Afraid of not being able to and afraid of failing if I tried.  And I was so scared that I wouldn't make it to a happy ending.  That the cancer was never really going to go away.  To be honest, that fear is still with me sometimes.

Despite all that, here I am two years later finishing my last year of grad school and planning to start my internship next summer.  Then, God Willing, a job doing the work I love!  I have been told by my parents and friends that I have come a long way and they can see the difference.  And I can't argue that.  Two years ago my biggest plans were pulling myself out of bed long enough to watch NCIS that week...which didn't happen.  Last year I was getting over an almost three week long bout with the flue because I had pushed too hard and was reorganizing my grad school schedule because of it.  But I was living on my own again and was going to school for a career I have fallen head over heals in love with!  And now this year, I am still in school and learning to pace myself.  I can finally drive the two hours to my parent's house alone.  I couldn't do that this time last year much less two years ago.    I walk a lot more than I use to.  Grateful to have my younger brother encouraging me in a walk challenge we are doing together.  So yeah, I guess if I look back I can see the changes and can see how far I have come.  I just feel like it isn't far enough sometimes.  

I guess part of my struggle is accepting the "new normal" that comes after cancer.  And I have to be honest and add in the menopause too.  I know I am on HRT's which help with some of the symptoms but it doesn't make them go away.  I still get hot flashes (and sometimes cold flashes).  I still have days that no matter what I do I am tired all day long.  I still have problems controlling my emotions.  Aches and pains that come and go in places I never had them before.  And don't get me started on my memory.  Nothing is severe...all minor.  But added up over time it gets very frustrating and I often find myself wondering if it will ever get completely better.  On top of which I have stopped counting the number of times my doctors felt the need to remind me that on top of everything I have gone through that I am not young anymore.  Almost 36 and I am hearing that.  I still can't wrap my mind around that.

Today is just a strange day for me mentally and emotionally.  I am happy that I didn't have to have chemo today and I haven't for two years.  I am sad when I think of what's changed in my life that can't ever change back.  I'm scared of what might happen in the future.  But I am also grateful that I made it through with no complications and am able to be where I am today.  I am grateful for the people who stood by me and supported me and still do today.  And I am determined to do as much as I can in whatever time I have left here.  Short or long, I want to make a difference somehow.   And I don't want to be scared.  I know I can't make all the difficult emotions go away over night but I think that maybe...it's getting a little bit better each year.

So I am looking forward to next year!  Next October 15 I will be done with school, dual certified; a Masters diploma next to my Bachelors on the wall.  I will have a job in my field and starting to hopefully settle down around friends back home in Virginia.  I know God laughs when we make plans but I'm willing to accept it if His plans are different from mine right now.  But until He lets me in on them I think I'll continue in this direction.  Keep moving forward and trust in Him.  Counting each day and making each day count.

365 Things to Smile About Days 68 & 69

Yes, I am doing it again.  I am combining two days into one!  Yesterday was a full day that was non-stop so by the time I got home I was too tired to think, much less type!  But that doesn't mean there wasn't something to smile about yesterday!  In fact I was smiling, laughing and giggling my head off in excitement!!!!

Part of the crazy day included a meeting with the person in charge of setting up our internships this coming summer.  I have been going back and forth between two places and both had a strong list of pros and an equal list of cons.  I was feeling really torn.  When I found out at this meeting that one of the places wouldn't even know if they would have an internship available until the end of January or beginning of February, I found myself torn over having to make a decision!  I didn't want to leave knowing if I had an internship there until halfway through the spring semester and if it fell through I would have to take whatever was left over...which might not have included the other spot I was really interested in.  In the end my advisor stepped in and made the decision for me and I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders and I knew that one was the right choice!  No waiting until February for me!  I am not going to say where the internship will be because it isn't set up yet but we are fairly confident that it won't be a problem:).

Today was also a good day and it started out with a trip to the Battle Creek V.A. for White Cane Day!  Today officially recognizes the White Cane used by millions of people, who are blind or have low vision, around the world to travel!!  The V.A. put on a special event at their blind rehab building where you could go around and talk to the specialists in O and M; VRT; Low Vision Therapy; Technology and everyone's favorite low vision Optometrist, Dr. J! :)  I had a great catch up with the low vision therapist there who is a friend and I haven't seen in months!!  I learned a few more new things about the iPhone's accessibility and got a chance to talk to some great people there!!  It was wonderful morning!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 67. A Song That Gets You To Your Feet!!!

I will forever be grateful for Pandora!  I love that I can always find music that fits!  For example when I work out I have music that is up beat and keeps me moving as I push to go further.  Or when I am writing I have calmer music that keeps me focused.  And then there was tonight.

I turned it on and a song came on that brought me to my feet and had me dancing around my living room!!!  All the way through the song I was feeling the music and having fun!  Then the second song came on and I just kept going!  I may not have gotten a long walk in tonight but I am certainly getting my cardio in tonight with all this dancing!!

Dancing gets your heart rate up and your adrenaline pumping!  It makes you feel GREAT and puts you in an awesome mood!!  I use to dance all the time to music while I was cooking or cleaning or just jamming out in my living room...before I got sick.  It was only recently that I started doing it again and I love it!  It gives you an amazing sense of release!

Just remember to close the curtains so you don't totally embarrass yourself in front your neighbors as they walk by!  Lol!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 66. A New Observation

One of the things I'm doing while in school is getting observation hours in for my Low Vision Certification so I can do Low Vision Therapy along with O & M. Today I took another step forward in learning. 

One of the many devices out there to help the visually impaired is called a Biotptic.  It helps people see smaller details at a distance.  It is used in many cases to help people drive. Today I got a chance to start learning how to help people learn how to use the Biotptic. It was pretty cool to see the work in progress and see the excitement and determination that comes from someone regaining a freedom they thought they had lost!  One of the many, many reasons I love my field!!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Days 64 & 65. Yes, I'm cheating!

Ok, I know I'm combining two days in one but yesterday got away from me and so did today!!  So my smile is for the movie I saw yesterday and a peaceful evening at church tonight:)

I went to go see The Martian yesterday with my parents and my younger brother. It was a great movie!!!!!  Well made, great cinematography and the character actors were wonderful!!  And going to see it with family made it that much more fun:)

Tonight, after Mass, I found out my church is starting 40 hours of adoration. So I stayed for Exposition and night prayer and sat there feeling so relaxed and happy. It was quiet and the lights were lowered. My eyes weren't squinting anymore and I just felt peace settle down over me. It felt wonderful:). 

Friday, October 9, 2015

365 Things To Smile About Day 63. Old Friends!

You know those friends that you dont see for years on end and then you finally get together again and it's like you are just picking up where you left off?  That was the experience I had tonight and it was wonderful!!!!!

Elizabeth and I were close friends in high school but went separate ways for college and our lives afterwards. It's been about 15 years or so since we last saw each other and tonight we finally got a chance to get together and reconnect!!!  

Last time we saw each other we were both in college and now I'm in Grad School having finally found a career I love and she is married to a great guy with six beautiful kids!!  Amazing how much has happened to both of us in that time and where our lives have taken us!  But as soon as I saw her at the restaurant I was so happy to have my friend close again!!!!  

It was such a good two hours!  It was the first time I had met her husband and I was so happy to see he is a great person and easy to talk to. Like he has always been there!  Her two youngest kids were there and they were both so adorable!!  It was such a great night:). My dad mentioned when I got home that I looked happy and I have to say...he is absolutely right:). So wonderful to see you again Elizabeth!  Here's hoping it won't be 15 years before we reconnect again!   Love you my friend!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 62. Totally Relieved!!

One of the classes I am taking is learning how to look at and use research. It uses a language I'm not very familiar with and my logical reasoning isn't always the way it should be to get the correct answer!  Lol!

I had my first exam for the class last week and was more than a bit freaked out as to how I was going to do!  Even with it being open book because it involved a little bit of that analyzing I'm not so good at:). This morning I got a wonderful surprise in my grade!!  96%!!!!! Needless to say I was crazy happy and that translated into getting a lot of chores and homework done!  Lol!  Amazing how a little stress relief can motivate you!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 61. The Best Line!!!

I am a fan of the tv show Gilmore Girls and was laughing tonight at the memory  of one of the best lines in the movie!  I have to hand it to the writers...they knew how to turn a phrase!!  Sometimes the little memories of a well written explosion of a character is enough to make you break out laughing and get those endorphins going!

"Jerk! Ass, arrogant, inconsiderate, mindless, frat-boy, lowlife, butt-faced miscreant!"
--Gilmore Girls!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 60. Sisters

So today turned into a really rough day. Between waiting for my three month test results and ex boyfriend confusion it was pretty bad. One of those days where you find yourself crying your eyes out uncontrollably.   So I really needed SOMETHING to smile about!  Something to pull me out of all the blah. Enter my oldest sister:).

I have four older sisters, all of whom I love more than anything. My oldest sister is someone I can turn to and just let everything out there. Fears, anxieties, happy, sad...the whole range. And tonight she was there for me and let me talk and helped me understand a few things. And then she made me laugh:). 

My sister is able to pull funny into any conversation and her laugh is infectious!  On top of all of that I remembered I get to see her in a couple weeks for the first time in three years:). So I have plenty to think about to make me smile when the stress and anxiety of today tries to creep back in. :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 59. My Adorable Grand Niece!

Today I saw the cutest thing!!!  My niece Rachel posted her daughters 1 year old pictures and they were beyond ADORABLE!!!!! She has such a cute smile and I'm happy to say I have another blonde niece!!!!  Lol!

As always, on a bad day it takes the simple and wonderful smile of a baby to brighten my day!  That pure innocence smiling at you with beautiful eyes and chubby cheecks!!!  Talk about total love!  My grand niece's smile makes my heart melt and my day 100% better!  Love you little one!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 58. Meeting Friends at the Store!

Today I went shopping for my groceries for the week and was waiting at the deli counter for my order and texting a friend when a cart rammed into mine and I hear a guy say "Hey Lady!  Watch out!"  I looked up in shock and caught myself from saying "Excuse me!" when I saw my White Cane instructor standing there laughing at me!  LOL!!!  I hadn't seen him since this summer and it was so nice to catch up!

Incase anyone is wondering, I am learning to teach Orientation and Mobility to blind and visually impaired adults.  Part of what that means is I will be teaching white cane techniques.  So to be able to teach them I had to learn them.  Last fall I spent about 6 hours a week walking around inside and outside under a blindfold with my instructor.  We got along great and usually ended up laughing at the hilarious things that always happen when you are learning a new skill!  So it was really nice "running" into him at the store:).    I like it when you randomly meet a friend when you are out and about doing things!  It just puts a smile on your face as you continue on with your day:).

Saturday, October 3, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 57. Progress!

Today's is short but makes me happy!!!  I spent three hours working on my study guide for certification today!  I got a lot done and think I'm finally getting on a schedule with it:). Not many people are happy when studying but right now it's exciting for me to be getting ready for this exam!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 56. Gathering Stones

Today I had my three month check up and have about a week or two to hear back about the blood results and test results.  Thinking about that last night and many other things made it impossible to sleep.  So after my 8 am appointment (and a few hours of sleep) I went back to my parents to nap.

After I woke up and got some lunch, I saw my dad outside.  I went out to find he was about to go collect some stones that have been stacked in various places around the yard that were pulled out of the field and garden.  Michigan may be flat but man it has a lot of big rocks in the soil!  Dad is making a stand to go in the corner of mom's raised bed herb garden for a statute.  So I hopped in the car with him and drove around the yard (which is rather large) picking up rocks.  Then we went and drove around the perimeter of the front and back fields just talking and looking at the beautiful land mom and dad own:).   It felt good just being outside and doing something simple, and with dad:).  It was a beautiful day!  Blue sky and a crispness to the air.  Sometimes it's nice to just have some time with your dad and pick up rocks and drive around the field:).  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 55. Love My Field!

Today I got to help out at the medical fair for WMU employees!  I was there to talk about the low vision clinic and help do functional acuity checks with Sean, the GA who works at the clinic. 

It was only for about four hours that I was able to help out but any chance totals about vision I'll take!!!!  So from 9am to 1:30pm I had many chances to promote the low vision clinic and talk to people about eye health and answer questions!!! It felt really good to help people and give a little education. It was also great to hear the positive reactions to the clinic and hear about people's experiences going there!!  I seriously have a great field I'm joining!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 54. Happy Reading

So I am officially done with homework for the week and was so excited I decided to just go crazy and kick up my heels and ..,lay down and read a fun, fiction book!!!!!

Lol!  Yes I'm a crazy person!!!  But laying back with a good book is the best way to relax right now:).   I can get lost in a great fantasy world and my stress goes down and I feel great!  So pick up a book soon and enjoy the adventure!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 53. Laughing at Test Anxiety!

While there is all kinds of test anxieties, the test I am referring to here is not medical in nature...thank God!  Rather an academic test.  Specifically my online class on research!!    This week was our first test and tonight, after getting home from my walk, I finished up some reading and responded to the discussion questions online and did some review.

I felt so good that I decided to take the test today (Tuesday).  So I organized my notes (it was open book) and logged on to the test.  I had an hour and a half to do 24 questions!  Easy!  Not a problem! Well, 1 hour, 29 minutes and 57 seconds late I frantically pushed submit and watched the timer count all the way down to 1 second remaining before the message popped up that the test was submitted!  I literally started laughing hysterically as I wondered if my heart was going to pound right out of my chest!!!  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be!  My brain doesn't work in the traditional logical sense so what makes sense to me doesn't always mean I did it the right way.  So I spent a lot of time double checking my answers and reconfirming them and trying to logically (as prescribed by the class readings and notes) figure out the answers on indicating what the Independent and Dependent variables were and things like that.  I think I can safely say that while I will always greatly appreciate research in my field...I don't know as I would be very happy writing it!!!  And I will be looking for the book "Evaluating Research For Dummies" at some point I am sure!  My test is completed and turned in though so the stress of doing it is gone!  Now I just have to wait for the grade!  At least, even though it was a bit hysterical, I still found myself laughing tonight!!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 52. Simple

So today's thing that completely got me to smile was a picture. With Facebook these days there are lots of pictures that we scroll past that make us laugh or smile but once in a while we come across one where the smile isn't thought about. When it is so natural and genuine. Where the smile isn't just your mouth pulling up on either end but you feel a rush of happiness go through you because what you see is so wonderful you can't help it:). 

The picture I saw was of a friends baby. Most of my friends have kids and the pictures of their kids are so cute they always bring a smile to your face. For some reason the picture of this little guy brought a smile that went all the way to my toes!  He was sitting in a little chair and just had the biggest baby grin on his adorable little face!   His whole face was lit up like he was the happiest of God's creations and nothing in the world would ever change that!  It was one of those baby smiles that melts your heart and makes you wish you had a baby too. The smile that pulls at all the loving heart strings you have and all you can do is smile back with that rush of joy and happiness running through you!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 51. The Lunar Eclipse

I think everyone who can is watching the lunar eclipse tonight and I was one of them!  I didn't stay out the whole time but I watched until it was completely covered!

It's kinda amazing to see what can happen in nature!  I've always been fascinated with space and the moon!  I couldn't see it well but I had a chance to look at it through binoculars which made it pop!!  A pretty amazing sight!!

The picture below is one of my attempts of catching the eclipse!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

365 Things to Smile About Day 50 Pope Francis' Visit!

I have been watching some of the coverage of the Pope's visit on TV this week and have loved being able to see it all:).  It was so exciting to see someone I know (well, I know her more through friends than personally) perform for the pope!  Marie Miller did such a wonderful job!!!  She has an amazing voice and musical talent and she was up there, shining, with some pretty big names!!!

I actually had a chance to go to Philly for much of this but sadly had to decline as I couldn't miss that much school:(.  But then I reminded myself that I am not a huge fan of big crowds even with my white cane.  On top of which the people I would be going with, while wonderful people, don't really know me and I was not totally comfortable asking one of them to help me out with guiding through the crowds.  And while I am far away from chemo, having gone through that and going through surgical menopause...my energy level is not that of a 25 year old.  And yes, I know I am no where near 25 anymore anyway, in my head I feel like I should have that energy still.

So, putting all that aside, I have been loving watching the Holy Father and listening to what he has to say.  I noticed something tonight.  He came alive!  He has visited with the president and spoken to congress and the UN.  Each time he spoke to these large gatherings he was reserved, dignified and seemed to be holding back something.  That something came out tonight in his last address before he left the stage!  He was animated and smiling and pulling everyone there close to him with his words!  It was when he was talking about the family TO the families that it felt like he was getting excited and you had a feeling like he knew you inside and out and everyone there was a close friend, his parishioners that he takes care of.  There was just something I can't quite describe in words what I felt listening to him talk at the end.   And I can't help but smile and feel as if he was talking to me:)