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

Google+ Followers

Silliness

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

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 234. Low Vision Products!

Today I spent my morning working on my low vision observations at the V.A. and got to see a demonstration of a low vision aid called OrCam.  It is a pair of glasses that you can have your own prescription in and attached to the right bow is a small camera and tiny speaker that sits in front of your ear.  This was the OrCam Eye so it had a few extra features than the OrCam Reader.  What it does is takes a picture of something you want to read and reads it to you.  This is known as OCR (optical character recognition).  It can also be taught to recognize faces and products from the grocery store.

I got a chance to try it out walking around reading different things and working the control box.  It was actually really cool and I just might have a chance to become a certified trainer for the device.  If the rep can come back before I finish school in a few weeks!  Lol!  It isn't for everyone and like all low vision devices it is crazy expensive and of course not covered under insurance :( .  But I love the direction that research is taking us in coming up with new aids for the blind and visually impaired and was really excited to get a chance to see this device in action and use it myself!  A pretty good morning today!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

365 Things to Smile About 233. Ouch!

Tonight I reserved my moving truck and tow dolley for my car. Only a month away!  What was incredibly painful was how much moving all my things will cost!!!  I've always lived light but I've stopped doing that so now moving is a painful thing!  Lol!

That being said, I'm excited too!  I've started packing and now my truck is reserved. The days are starting to pass by quicker!  Life is moving forward full steam ahead!   Lol!  So a painful hit to my credit card but I'm happy to do it!  I feel like life is going to start taking leaps and bounds forward now! 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 232. A Chat:)

On my way home from my parents I stopped by my oldest brothers house to drop off some Easter goodies for him and his family. I always love going there!  Seeing my sister in law and catching up with her is always great:). And my nieces and nephews there are kind, funny and just a delight to be around!

I ended up having a really nice chat with the oldest of the four who is in high school. He was asking me about what I'll be doing in Richmond and then asked me some really good questions about blindness. As I explained the range of blindness he kept asking good questions and we had a great conversation!  I'm really going to miss seeing them and hanging out with them!  I don't get over there often but I'm going to miss the chances I do have!  So I treasure conversations like today when I can get some bonding time in with my nieces and nephews!!  A short but really wonderful visit!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 231. Easter Vigil

Tonight I went to the Easter Vigil Mass with my parents. I love the tradition and ceremony in that mass. Everything seems MORE. Once the incense had passed I could sit back and just be caught up in all of it. 

It's really quite beautiful...even with a slightly off key choir!  Lol!  They try though and they sing with all their hearts. I think one of my favorite moments is when the Litany of the Saints is sung. It's mesmerizing!  So all in all a good night of Mass with mom and dad capped off with watching an episode of NCIS when we all got home!  Lol!

365 Things to Smile About Day 230. Powering Through.

Today was a crazy day but I was able to get a lot done!  The best part was getting the rough draft of a research paper done between running errands and fits of total frustration over having to write with APA!

But the paper is there and just needs to be cleaned up before handing in a week from Monday!  That is definitely something to smile about!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 229. Research!

I am working on a research paper for my Medical Aspects class. I chose Endometrial Cancer for obvious reasons. It isn't supposed to be a terribly in depth paper but I was surprised to find the amount of research I did. 

I guess I'm writing about this because I'm able to do this research without my anxiety flairing up and that feels good. In the past I have been too afraid to know more than I needed to get treatment and recognize what was normal and what wasn't.  Anything beyond that was too frightening to me. Today I was online looking for sources and information for the paper and I felt more curiosity than anything. That was a great feeling. I get tired of being afraid and this was a step towards letting go of that fear. 😊

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 228. Accomplishments Between Naps!

I am still feeling wiped out from yesterday's tango with the flu.  I am able to get up and do things for longer periods of time but I will admit...the naps and rests curled up in my blankets were pretty frequent!  That being said, as tired as I am now and as loudly as my bed is calling for me, I feel good about the day!

I wasn't able to go to the low vision clinic as usual tonight but I did get an assignment due tomorrow finished and emailed in!  I was really worried because I am not able to be on the computer for long stretches of time when I am still this tired.  My eyes get over worked and I get tired.  But I was able to keep myself focused between naps and rests and work on my assignment one piece at a time!  Write a little, sleep a little!  That was my schedule today!  Fingers crossed I can add a class in there tomorrow morning!  But I can't help but smile that as tired as I was today I got homework done and I have been able to catch up on my blog!  Lol!  And with that, I shall close out this post and head back to bed!  Class at 8 am tomorrow!

365 Things to Smile About Day 227. It's Not the Same:)

Today was not the best day.  When nausea wakes you up just after 6 am, you know it is not going to be good.  A 24 hour flu decided to pay me a visit and most of the day was spent in bed sleeping and drinking water and sleeping and drinking some more water.  By evening I was starting to wake up and the nausea had passed.  This time was almost harder.  Because this is the time my brain started working again.

All I could think about was how this was how I felt for at minimum a week after chemo.  This nausea I took meds like clockwork for every 6 hours and the exhaustion and fuzzy disconnected feeling.  It brought back all those memories and feelings like it was yesterday:(.  So I did the only thing that helps me in moments like that.  I called my mom to talk to her about it.  I asked her if she thought it was strange that being sick right now just made me think of being chemo sick.  She said she wasn't surprised at all and it was completely normal.  But the good news was, there wasn't going to be another smack down.  There was no chemo coming to make me feel worse and I was only going to get better from here on out.  And that did make me smile.  Not a big smile but it did give me something to smile a little about:).  Yeah, the flu stinks.  But you get over the flu:).  Maybe I feel miserable and exhausted now but I know it is only going to get better:).

365 Things to Smile About Day 226. A Child's Giggle

Tonight I met a little boy who had the most infectious giggle!  Just thinking about it now makes me laugh!  He was quiet and shy but once you got him giggling he couldn't stop!  And everyone else in the room started laughing too!!  It's just a beautiful thing when a child is just such a happy person that this small sound that comes from them can make all your cares and worries and stress disappear and you find yourself laughing along with him!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 225. Beautiful Music

Its a very small thing today but it did indeed make me smile.  It was simply a part of a piece of classical music.  I don't know the composer or the name of the piece but it was beautiful!  From haunting to exciting to incredibly slow and romantic!  Just the moment of that music was incredible and calm and relaxing.  Even if it is just a moment during the day, that music was what made my day. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 224. Spring Cleaning :)

I can tell I am getting older because I am starting to get bitten by the spring cleaning bug and I don't mind!  Lol!  I am taking it slow but each day I do a little something:).  It is helping me declutter for my move and while it is hard in the moment, I feel better after going through things and can sit back and actually see my progress!  Lol!

Today I went through my DVD collection and have a large stack to get read of.  Tomorrow, between research moments, I am going to tackle my book shelves...thats going to be a bit intimidating!  But by the end of it I hope to be more organized and maybe pair it down a little for moving.:).  At any rate, for the first time the words Spring Cleaning don't strike fear into my heart!  Lol!

Friday, March 18, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 223. Two Hour Lunch :)

The long lunch.  It's generally a good thing and today was no different.  After working on some O&M with a couple classmates we ended up going to this delicious Mexican restaurant for lunch.  We ended up not only enjoying a delicious meal of tacos (I fell in love with the Guacamole Taco!) but even better conversation:).  It was just really nice to sit there and talk with friends about a large variety of topics!  They ranged all over the place from serious to funny and back again:).  It's rather pleasant to be able to sit around with friends and talk with no real lag in the conversation and just enjoy some time out from busy days:).  Thanks Abbey and Jaclyn!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 222. God Knows Best :)

Today I started the annoying task of going through boxes and purging of things I have completely forgotten about and haven't looked at or used in three years.  My mom packed up my apartment for me when I was first diagnosed as I had absolutely no energy I was so anemic.  Many boxes were put into storage when I was sick and then moved back here to Kzoo when I started grad school and I never opened them.  I just stacked them out of the way.  But, I now have to move across country so I am trying to reduce what I need to put into the Uhaul.  As I went through one box I pulled out two pieces of paper that I was pleasantly surprised to see had been saved.  As I read over them, I couldn't do anything other than smile and shake my head in amazement.  It was a little sign from God that He really has been in control and guiding and watching over me.

Three years ago, shortly after Christmas, I found myself closing in on the end of a 15 year long journey of finally finishing my undergraduate degree.  It had been such a focus and goal of mine for so long that I had stopped thinking about what I would do after I had gotten it.  Suddenly, that was all I could think about and it was actually freaking me out quite a bit and causing a large amount of anxiety!  I called a very dear friend of mine for some advice.  After she let me spill out my panicked, confused and freaked out thoughts, she laughed a little and then calmly told me to do something.  She said to do what she called a "brain dump".  She said to take a blank paper and write the word "graduate" in the center.  Then all around the word, write everything I have ever wanted to do, thought of doing or thought was interesting.  She said to just write whatever came into my head and even if it sounded ridiculous to put it down.  Then she said to hang it up where I would see it every day and work towards those goals.

I managed to fill up two pieces of paper with ideas and hung them on the wall behind my table and next to the kitchen.  Mom must have taken them down and tucked them into a box.  On one of the pages, written down was a small phrase that has amazingly come true in a way I couldn't even imagine at the time I wrote it.  It said, "work to help others w/ vision problems".  At that point I really didn't know anything about the blindness and low vision field.  I knew I had a vision impairment and when I was really little I went to a special school for a year or two.  I now know I was receiving services for low vision.  But for about twenty years of my life (not surprisingly starting as a teenager) I pretended that there was nothing wrong with my eyes at all.  I wouldn't acknowledge any impairment.  I adapted and eventually worked around things until I could do just about everything everyone else around me could do.  But that year, my vision for some reason became something I started to slowly recognize again.  I think partly due to how hard I found doing all the reading for school at an older age!  At any rate, helping people with vision impairments made it on the paper.  Everything, big or small, ridiculous or possible, I wrote was something that was important to me.

I ended up going the route of education and when I was diagnosed with cancer was going through an interview process for a teaching job in California.  I look at this paper now and realize that God had other plans for me.  He knew where my life was going that year even thought I didn't.  And He gently guided me through that intense and frightening year after graduation.  Then He just took my hand and led me to this wonderful field.  He knew where I belonged all along.  I did as well I guess...or I wouldn't have written that phrase onto that paper.  It just amazed me that three years ago, without even realizing it, I had started mapping out where I would land after cancer.  I think I will have to frame that page and keep it with me.  I can't stop smiling thinking about it!!

That year of cancer, chemo and recovery was the hardest and scariest time of my life.  But now, looking back, I see that without that terrifying year I might not have found this field and direction that feels so right for my life.  A feeling I have never experienced in any road I had chosen so far.  I can see God guiding me through it and to where I am now...getting ready to start my internship in O&M and confidently stepping out into my new normal and start an amazing new life!










Wednesday, March 16, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 221. Spring Is In The Air!

I am normally not a big fan of the clocks jumping ahead.  I sometimes have a hard enough time as it is sleeping so messing with those sleep patterns is not appreciated!  However, this year I found something to make me happy.  It happens every year but for this year for some reason it really made me smile.  With the clocks jumping ahead and the days slowly getting longer, we now have a longer twilight!  More time to go for a walk after clinic or to just feel more productive with the sun still out!  I have come to learn that I get sleepy and drag on days when the sun isn't out.  And in winter, with the sun going down so early, I get less and less accomplished.  But today I was excited to find myself feeling more energized when I got home from clinic.  I didn't go crazy and get a ton done...but I didn't feel like curling up in bed as soon as I got home.  I left my sliding door open to let fresh air in and just enjoyed the cool breeze that I know will only get warmer!  Spring is starting to show her face!  Longer days, and warmer temps!  I just might start liking spring almost as much as I like Fall!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 220. Flaming Bacon!!!

I am not the worlds best cook by any stretch.  In fact, I would have to say that in the past few years my cooking skills (and desire) have declined!  This is in large part due to school and being too tired to cook and also my ever changing taste buds...or sometimes the lack there of!  (horrible things have happened to good food because of these stupid taste buds!)  At any rate, sometimes I decide to try to make a recipe I have seen on Facebook that made my mouth water and stretches my culinary "talents"!  Tonight was just such an attempt!

It was a chicken recipe that I will not go into too much detail other than it was wrapped in bacon.  You bake it for 30 minutes but then you have to do a few minutes on each side with the broiler on.  I learned something tonight.  When cooking bacon with a broiler...the spit that comes off the bacon when it pops can catch on fire briefly!!  I discovered this when I opened the oven after a few minutes of broil to flip the chicken.  As I stepped back to let the wave of heat to pass I heard a hiss and then a decent sized flame burst out and made me jump back a few more steps!!  It was only for a couple seconds and then went out but I quickly grabbed the pan out and shut the door!  Lol!!!  The bacon was just fine and after I flipped it, I put it in for a shorter time.  No more flames appeared and the bacon wrapped chicken with cream cheese filling tasted DELICIOUS!!

It was dinner with a show tonight!!  Nothing like spontaneous flames in your oven to get your heart racing and make you laugh nervously and wonder if perhaps venturing outside your cooking comfort zone is not always the best idea!!!  I think I shall avoid further recipes that call for broiling bacon!  Lol!  Flaming bacon just might not fly with my apartment complex!  But if anyone else feels adventurous and has their house insurance paid up, ask me for the recipe and I will pass it on!  It really was quite good!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 219. In the Mail!!

This morning I mailed off my deposit to my future land lady for the room I am renting in Richmond!!  It was exciting and do this because it just makes everything all the more real.  You can mentally acknowledge that something is going to happen but there are certain moments that make it feel more real than others.

In a little over 6 weeks I will be back on the east coast and settling in to a lovely room for the summer  and this morning I took the step to make it officially my room!!  I'm not sure how much time I will be spending in it but it will be a place to retreat to after a long day of work and relax!  Honestly, things are looking just pretty wonderful right now!

365 Things to Smile About Day 218. School Plays!

For yesterday.

Today I got my last chance for who knows how long to see my niece M. in a play!  She is a lover of the theatre (a love we both share!) and at 13 is already able to own the stage when she walks on!  Yes, this is partly the proud aunt in me coming out but it is also really true!  She had a small role in this play but she hammed it up and played it with everything she had and I loved it!!

While I am excited about moving to Richmond soon, I am disappointed I won't get to see M. in any more plays:(.  I guess you have to trade off some things in life.  But I am glad I have been able to see her last three plays and will be having my brother record the rest and send them to me!!  This last play made the afternoon perfect and is still making me smile!!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 217. The Many Uses of Plastic Wrap!!

Day three post port removal is here and it was a wonderful day!  The beauty and wonder of this day culminated in the evening with the ability to wash my hair!!!!

For three days I was not permitted to take a shower. Gross yes but the doctor and nurses stressed that I absolutely couldn't get my incision site wet AT ALL the first three days but then I could take a shower after that with the proviso that I not get it wet as best I can for a week. That confused me but oh well...what can you do but spit baths and wear your hair in a pony tail when you can finally stand up for more than twenty minutes at a time!

So tonight I learned the joys of press and seal plastic wrap!  That stuff sticks to anything including skin. So I wrapped it around my arm, shoulder and neck and covered the incision. But I also learned the only way to not have it pull away from my neck and let the water rush down my neck was to keep my left hand over the incision and absolutely don't lift it over my shoulder!!  I quickly discovered that while I am right handed I am not the most flexible person. Try washing the left side of your head with your right hand and then rinse without pulling plastic wrap away from your skin!!  It was interesting to say the least!  

But in the end my hair got washed and I feel refreshed so it was definitely worth it!  Lol!  I'll be happy when this week is over and I can take a semi normal shower!  I still have two weeks of not letting water soak on the incision in any way. I sometimes think doctors give these orders knowing you have to become a spineless gymnast to follow them!  I don't get their humor but I'm sure it makes them giggle somewhere as they hand out these directions!  Oh well, I'm figuring it out!😊😊









365 Things to Smile About Day 216. A Little Bit Of Shopping!

For yesterday. 

So two days out of the famous port removal and my energy started to come back!  So I went out to do some fabric shopping with my mom!!  My weakness is fabric and my stash is starting to rival my grandmother's!  Lol!

The shop we went to has a lot of novelty but also high quality fabrics so I couldn't afford much. But I found a few panels to make a few small blankets for my friend's kids:).  And just looking through at all the possibilities was a lot of fun. I am still thinking about four different bolts that when combined would make a BEAUTIFUL blanket!!

Anyway, some peoples retail therapy is shoes or clothes or accessories...mine just happens to be fabric!  Lol!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 215. Vernor's

I'm not a big soda drinker. I had to give it up during chemo because the carbonation irritated the sores in my stomach. It's all better now but I never got back into the habit of drinking soda. But now and then I have some of the best ginger ale ever!

Vernor's is a Michigan drink from the time of the Civil War!  And it is the BEST!!!  Tonight I had some Vernor's and loved every sip!!!!  Nothing will beat the gingery taste or the bubbles that can bring on a crazy coughing fit if you don't know how to breathe when drinking it!  Lol!!  I'll be bringing some of it with me to Richmond!  Lol!!!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 214. Port Removal

Today is a confusing day for me. I had my chemo port removed this morning. I'm moving to Richmond, Virginia this summer for my internship and couldn't move there with my port in. It would cause too many problems. And so I had it taken out. 

While I'm glad to take this step in closing this chapter, I still don't feel it is closed. I feel that I can move forward now but the question will always hang over my head...will it come back?  

But, I'm choosing to smile about this today...although I'm pretty out of it so the smile is inside. 😊. A good step forward today:). Goodby to Oscar Oliver Petunia the Port:). It's been a long road together and we kicked it:). 









Tuesday, March 8, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 213. Beautiful Weather!

Today I flew back from Virginia. I spent most of the day in the airport or on the plane!  But when I got back to the farm I got out of the car and was delighted to feel how warm it was and how sunny it was!!!!!

I took a short walk with mom a little later and just enjoyed the beautiful weather...listening to a cat yell at us for leaving the front yard!  Lol!  Mom's cat is very protective!  At any rate, it was simply a beautiful, warm, sunny day today of which I soaked up as much as I could!

Monday, March 7, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 212. Exploring


Today I decided to take a break from planning and organizing and running around with friends. I hopped the metro into DC with the plan to find a bench on the Mall and sit in the shade and do some thinking on everything that is starting to happen with moving and school and new chapters. But the Mall was being torn up for some construction of some kind. 

So, I meandered around looking for a lunch place and just letting the sun shine down and the wind blow in my face and that was almost as relaxing as my original plan. Yes, I let myself think on some of the things going on but also focused on finding something to do. I ended up going to Fords Theatre and crossed a small item off of my bucket list this afternoon:). It was nice!  I love history and I really love it when I can see history. 

Once I finished taking my pictures I just sat in one of the theatre chairs and soaked it all in.  That's one of the many things I love about Virginia and DC...you walk through history in these places!  So while things didn't go as planned today, I still enjoyed my time exploring a new place today and checking off another item in my list. 😊










Sunday, March 6, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 211. Great Day!!

So today was my second day in Richmond and it was a pretty good day!! I found a church I like and even managed to make it to 8:30 am mass!  Lol!  Then a nice brunch with a friend before we drove around downtown checking out the area and enjoying the beautiful homes!!

This afternoon I met with my supervisor for my internship and had a great talk!!  I'm looking forward to it even more!  Going to be doing itinerate and center based work!!  So less than two months to go and I'll be leaving Michigan and heading to Virginia and starting a great new chapter!!!!  Can't wait to see you again Richmond!!!  Very happy and excited to be heading there!!!



Saturday, March 5, 2016

365 Things to Smile About. Day 210. Celebrating!!

For yesterday. 

Last night was s wonderful night!  I had a party, hosted by wonderful friends, to just celebrate so many great things. Being in remission...getting my port out...graduating from grad school...and moving forward into an amazing career!!  It was wonderful to be surrounded by friends who have been so loving and caring and supportive throughout all this insanity!!

It was an evening of good food, good drinks and great company!!!  Sitting and talking with friends and laughing so hard my stomach hurt felt soooo good!  So thank you to everyone for last night!!  It was amazing!!!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

365 Things to Smile About. Days 208 & 209. A Flight Home

Tonight I caught a flight from Flint to Baltimore to head home to Virginia. Normally flying is a cramped and a little bit frightening experience for me. Before I even got on the plane I ended up having a nice conversation with a couple of ladies both waiting for the same flight.

I learned something new about Southwest. You are not assigned seats, it's first come first serve. I was one of the first on the plane and so chose a seat in the front.  One of the ladies I had been talking to saw me sitting there and asked if she could sit next to me. When the other lady came on the plane she flagged her over and the three of us ended up having a very delightful flight all the way to Baltimore.

We chatted and laughed and they helped me get through my fear of take off until we leveled out! It was just nice to sit and talk to the ladies back-and-forth and when I started to get a little sleepy they just very quietly turned the conversation to between the two of them. When I got off the plane the woman who sat next to me very kindly came over to make sure I knew where I was going and then gave me a big hug!  Lol!

As I walked into baggage claim I saw my friend Katie waiting for me and was so happy and excited to see her and be home again that I honestly couldn't think of a better way to end the day!!

And so I'm home in Virginia for a few days!  I can't wait to see more friends and just have a wonderful long weekend here!!!  Can't wait until tomorrow!!!

I took the pictures below from my window on the plane once we broke through the cloud cover!  It was beautiful to see!!'









Tuesday, March 1, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 207. No Stress!

Spring break is just around the corner.  For me this actually starts Thursday night when I fly out to Virginia.  So I have been trying to get all my homework that is due just after break finished and submitted.  This morning I accomplished this goal!  I was so excited that I decided I was going to take the afternoon off and just relax and let go of any remaining stress!

My plans to head out were curtailed by the ridiculous amounts of snow that fell today.  Even after cleaning off the 5 to 6 inches of snow on my car...it now looks like I never touched it!  Oh well!  The rule was no stress this afternoon and I was going to stick to it!  So I worked on a sewing project for a while and then snuggled down and watched an old Cary Grant movie and just enjoyed being inside from the storm!!  It was a relaxing, stress free afternoon!  Amazing what not procrastinating on homework can get you!  Lol!!