In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

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

Graduation

Graduation
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!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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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!!!