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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Sunday, July 31, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 357. Pink Hair and Pretty Sunsets!

Today was a day mostly spent studying.  However I had a few moments where I was either completely silly or completely relaxed:).  Earlier this evening I had to run to a dollar store to get a soap dish as my bright idea of putting the bar of soap on double thick toilet paper obviously was not the great idea one might think it would be....however it frustratingly got the job done until I could remember to run to the store!  While I was there I saw hot pink hair extensions!  All I could think was that my niece (who is hopefully getting out of the hospital tomorrow after fighting a kidney infection!) would get a kick out of seeing me with pink hair!!  Lol!  So I grabbed a box!

As I was trying to figure out how to use them without completely snarling my hair I started laughing uncontrollably at how ridiculous it was!  And that felt great!  Then I snapped a few pictures and was laughing even harder at how great it looked!  I think with all the big, life changing decisions I have to make I needed a few minutes of utter ridiculous, silly and light hearted behavior and those hot pink extensions did it for me!  I eventually got it kinda figured out and video chatted so my niece could see them and yes...there was peals of laughter!!!  Jackpot!!

Then this evening I was doing laundry and caught a glimpse of the sunset.  It was so beautiful!  I stood outside for a bit and grabbed a couple pictures.  Then I just relaxed and watched the sun set for a while.  I felt a lovely, gentle calm settle over me and it felt good!  For a few minutes I felt like I could just breath and not have to think about big decisions and big changes.  So while today was a mostly study day, there was laughter and there was peacefulness too.  When you can have both in a single day, thats a pretty good day!

Pink hair extensions coming out from underneath my long, blond hair and falling over my shoulders!


My hair twisted up in a clip with the pink hair coming out of the clip and over to one side.


Sunset of orange, yellow through dusky triple clouds through the branches of two trees blackened out.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 356. The Mullet Shoes!

Tonight I went out to get some dinner with a friend and we went to Show Carnival afterwards to look at shoes for her.  I haven't browsed in a shoe store in a while and was having fun looking at the different styles.  Finding ones I liked and ones I would never have the courage (or balance) to wear and laughing over ones that were just bizarre!  And thats how I found them!

Sitting in a box half way down a shelf and looking so innocent.  It looked like a simple grey dress shoe with a wide sole.  Until I picked them up!  On top was a grey dress shoe and the bottom looked like some kind of sneaker tread!  There it was, the elusive Mullet Shoe!!  Business in the front and party in the back!!  Needless to say I started laughing and of course I absolutely had to take a picture!  I knew at that moment I had my post for the day!  Lol!  I present to you...The Mullet Shoe!!!



365 Things to Smile About Day 355. TGIF!!

I have learned that no matter how much you love your job, when Friday rolls around you are happy and grateful for the break!  Lol!  This Friday right around lunch time I felt like someone pulled the energy plug on me!  Fortunately I work with some really nice people, specifically the gentleman who drives us to the different locations we teach our students at.  He has this awesome way of making a person who feels run down, sad, exhausted, frustrated or just ready to give up be able to laugh again and feel like they can tackle it all!

So when I was ready to fall asleep in the front seat of the van and was holding tight to the spoon in my pocket...he was able to gently but kindly remind me that life is actually pretty good and I have so much to look forward to!  And by the way....it's Friday!  Lol!  So cheers to our driver and cheers to Friday!!!  Looking forward to all I have coming my way!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 354. Amazing Curiosity!

I wasn't sure how I would like working with teenagers this summer.  My comfort level was with adults.  I have to say I was happily surprised that I love working with teenagers!  Yes, they can be crazy moody and sometimes you find yourself standing there thinking, "What did you just say?" and you are fighting like crazy not to bust up laughing!

I also discovered just how curious they are.  I am use to the personal curious, where they want to know your entire back story and love life!  But today I was approached with questions of curiosity I never expected from a teenager.  I had a teen who's eyes never formed ask me what is it like to see?  And what did I see with my vision impairment?  How did I see?  What do you see when you cross your eyes?  What does it mean to see double?  And can I close one eye at a time?  And what do eye muscles do?  Whats the difference between a dominant eye and a stronger eye?  Why do you have a dominant eye?  I was floored by the depth of the questions!  I tried to answer as best I could using analogies and just strait up science and my experience and was disappointed when I had to end our conversation.  I have never had someone so young, or ever really, ask me questions like this and coming from their perspective!  It really warmed my heart to have such a curious kid in front of me and it excited me that I actually have this knowledge to give!  No, I wasn't going into great detail but I could see I was satisfying a hunger for knowledge there.  That was a pretty wonderful feeling!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 353. A Cold Coffee :)

This morning started off early for me with an early morning, impromptu but helpful study session over the phone.  So I got moving earlier than usual and remembered that I had made a command decision yesterday to no longer drink hot coffee when the weather is this crazy hot out!  So I stopped by what has become my favorite place for coffee, Wawa!  They have a cold French Vanilla cappuccino that you can add ice to and that was pretty perfect!!  When the day starts out hotter than blazes, it feels good to just take a sip and feel the cool drink and little buzz of energy zip through you :).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 352. A Plastic Spoon!

Last week ended with a very rough day for me.  A lot just seemed to be coming down on my head and I ended up breaking down in my supervisor's office in the morning.  Thank you inability to control emotions from menopause!  I really like those embarrassing moments!  One of the things I love about my supervisor is her absolute understanding that sometimes we have those days that honestly bring us to our knees.  I felt like I was holding a boulder on my shoulders and she could see it.  She gave me some advice and something silly to help me remember and get me through the day.  She asked me how I would eat a whole elephant.  I looked at her confused as I wiped tears that refused to leave my eyes.  "One bite at a time." she said.  She then gave me a plastic spoon to hold in my pocket for the day and every time I felt like all these things I am dealing with were going to over whelm me as I worked with my student I grabbed ahold of it.  I have to say, it worked!  It was a tangible reminder to take everything one bite at a time.  You can't do it all in one fell swoop but rather one small piece at a time.

This morning my body started doing some lovely menopause rebellion things.  I started hot flashing to the point where I was getting dizzy!  My knee was hurting me and felt inflamed and my brain was starting to fray from the frustration that people were looking at me like I belonged in a hospital bed or something.  Apparently a 36 year old (who looks like a 25 year old) worries people when they hot flash!  Anyway, I walked into my supervisor's office to talk over my morning and she looked at me and smiled and said, "Do you want the spoon?"  All I could do was hold out my hand and we both started to laugh!  And that laugh was exactly what I needed...and the spoon!  I kept it in my pocket all day and often found myself gripping it for a second...and then smiling:).  Because you just take things one bite at a time.  You can't control everything and thats ok:).  So when you are frustrated, ask yourself how to eat an elephant and then grab a spoon and smile!

365 Things to Smile About Day 351. Dancing Three Years Later!

One of the best things about working in O and M is that it can be done anywhere doing anything!  Including dancing!  Every Monday night there is Ballroom Dancing lessons for the teenagers I am working with.  I kept getting requests to come to some of their evening activities and I had a free evening so I went to go watch the dance lesson.  And then I got pulled into the dance lesson and had a blast!

One of the many things I love about my work is the sense of confidence I feel around my clients no matter what their age!  I always do my best to draw them out and that includes trying to get teenagers very much not excited about dancing to have a good time!  So I was doing everything I could to get them laughing and moving to the music as we practiced the steps being taught!  It worked with a few and there were even a couple who honestly enjoyed the lessons!  I got twirled around by a kid quite a bit shorter than I and had so much fun because he was into learning anything he could about dancing!  He was so excited he got the move down that I got twirled A LOT!!!  Lol!! One of the instructors came over and complimented him on doing so well with a taller partner and assured the kid the he (the instructor) had often had taller partners for dancing!  lol!  And when asked, I was able to assure after the first couple tries, the student was the one leading me!  lol!  It was a great night and I was laughing about it all the way home!!

What was really awesome was it was three years to the day since my second chemo treatment.  TimeHop is so good at bringing up the good and bad memories.  But as I was looking at the picture I realized just how far I have come!  Sure, not everything is back to the way it was and some things never will be.  But I am here, working 9 to 12 hour days all week every week and am two and a half weeks away from finishing my internship and my Masters program,  At the same time I will also (hopefully) be dual certified in two areas of my field!  I look at the pictures of me sitting in my chemo chair with my mom and my nurses and I know that I didn't see all this in my future at all.  I will continue to be amazed every day I think.  And I am glad that I am able to look back and see how far I have come and everything that has happened in my life.  I know some people don't like to look back.  And often looking back is very difficult for me.  For me though, being able to see the difference is what helps me move forward.  My past has shaped who I am.  Good or bad, that past is a part of me.  And now, what is important is how I am going to move forward into my future to keep making that difference between then and now bigger and bigger each day.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 350. Facebooking With Sisters:)

I put up a post today looking for some advice on my trip down to Orlando next month.  I am hoping, since I have to take several days to get down there, to get a chance to do a little site seeing along the way.  I ended up in a conversation with two of my sisters that began with general advice then turned to telling me to look out for men with banjos.  After that they were telling me I'll be driving through country strait out of "Deliverance" and ending with my sister asserting she has, in fact, had her husband cruise her almost soundless Prius down the highway as she leaned out the window yelling "America!!" as they silently, yet speedily and with full efficiency, went "barreling" down the highway!

Two things:  I completely believe that particular sister would do just that but I want video!  Second: Prius's, no matter how fast they are going, can't really "barrel" down anything because you need loud noises to properly barrel down a road.  A Prius would simply let out a quiet "Eeeeeee." sound as it sped down the highway...with my sister hanging out the window, drowning out the sad little "Eeeee." sound yelling "America!!" at the top of her lungs!!   LOL!!!  I love my sisters!  They are completely nuts and I very much love them for that!!

P.S. We also discussed a route that goes from Virginia to Florida via New Mexico!!  Lol!!  I'll let yawl try to figure that one out!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 349. Puppy Love!!!

This afternoon was spent studying for my Low Vision Certification exam with a friend!  A much needed second pair of eyes and voice and helped me clarify some things.  But before we could get started I got piled on by her two dogs, Sam and Ziva!!  These two pooches are just the most loving big babies you can possibly imagine!

I am not normally fond of animals jumping on me and I am almost always against any licking from animals period!  But these two little sweeties were pleasantly playful, didn't growl or get too playful and their licks were small and not constant!  Lol!  So I ended up playing with them some on the floor and getting covered by both of them as soon as I sat down!  Lol!

It's been a pretty stressful and emotionally difficult couple days and honestly, those few moments of total love and playfulness was just what I needed!!!  And by the way, I discovered that sitting on the floor with Ziva curled up next to me letting me just pet her is a great way to help me focus and calm down about this test!  Can't wait until the next study session!!!




365 Things to Smile About Day 348. Star Trek!!!

Tonight I went to see the new Star Trek movie!  It was a good movie and it felt really great going out and doing something after work instead of going home and crashing sound asleep!  I have been doing that so often the past few weeks that I just needed a change of pace!  Yes, I was tired but I settled in and enjoyed the movie and honestly just had a good time by myself:).  It felt good to not be in my bed and trying to force my eyes open to look at my study guide and see only words blurring together!

Thank you Star Trek for motivating me to stay up and doing something for myself:)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 347. Ice-cream!!

Today was a full day of O and M classes that ended each time at an ice cream shop!  Lol!  Today we introduced finding an address.  We gave the students an address, not telling them what the name of the address was, and gave them all the tools to find the address through reasoning, problem solving and soliciting information.  They did a great job and each one was excited with the destination once they discovered that they could order some of the best ice cream in town:).  The shouts of delight and their inability to stop smiling made this exhausting, hot and long day totally worth it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 346. Pokemon...I'm Stretching It.

Today was a rough day.  Today I had to keep smiling and encouraging and congratulating someone who accidentally got pregnant.  I know she is amazed and excited but all I can think of is how incredibly unfair it is.  All my life I have wanted babies, as I know I have said before.  Other dreams came and went but that one never wavered.  And all afternoon and into the evening I was with someone who was either glowing and gushing about being pregnant or gushing about a grand baby they are raising.  And I am happy for them, I am.  But my heart is breaking right now and all I could do was smile and laugh at their stories and listen to them and congratulate them.  And all I wanted to do was break down and cry.

So today I have decided my smile comes from that stupid Pokemon game that is taking over.  I had three minutes to myself this afternoon and I checked the messages on my phone and decided to check the game and found I was not only surrounded by those weird little creatures but I was also at a Poke Stop for the first time.  And for a second I could smile.  That crazy game gave me something to truly smile over that wasn't forced.  Because of that, the Pokemon game is now something I'm not going to complain about or make too much fun of because I can laugh at myself for playing it and on days like today, I need a laugh, no matter how small or silly it is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 345. From the Mouths of Teenagers

I know the saying is "from the mouths of babes" but I had to point out the fact that the thing that just made me stand in awe and respect and pride came from someone who is in fact a teenager on a group lesson on a city bus.

Now, when many people see someone, or in this case a small group of people, with white canes they go into help mode, not realizing that pulling, pushing, talking rather loud or yelling at people to give up their seats, while done out of the goodness of their hearts, is not in fact the most helpful thing.  We all experienced at least a little bit of this, some more than others, when getting on the bus.  As I stood in the front of the bus I saw one of the students engaging another bus patron in conversation.  The bus patron, after learning we were doing a lesson in bus travel in order to be able to travel independantly, told the student that he was loosing his sight.

Let me set the scene a little better.  This was a packed, downtown bus full of people talking over each other.  And when I mean packed...there was no longer even safe standing room.  As the bus patron said this to the student, something really awesome happened.  The student raised their voice unknowingly but passionately as they responded and said, "You should get training, thats important.  You should get it before you loose your sight so when you loose your sight you are independent.  Then you'll be able to do anything you want."  As soon as she started to speak, the entire bus went completely silent and I saw that everyone on it was looking at the student like they were soaking up every word being spoken!  You could practically hear a pin drop and you could feel that the student's words were not being just listened to but taken to heart.  It was honestly one of the most amazing things I have seen so far!!

As people who work in the field we can stand and advocate and educate as much as possible.  And we do!  But I think that small, passionate, unintentional speech by a teenager on a lesson did more in educating and advocating than any seminar or class could ever do!  Nobody wrote the student off or affected an air of pity or anything like that.  It was a moment of absolute respectful silence as they took in those words and processed them.

They saw an independent young adult turning to an old man and encouraging him to do what they were doing instead of giving up.  Encouraging him to keep moving forward and not letting something he can't control bring him down or stop him from living his life and being independant.  Unwittingly, the student became the teacher today to an entire bus and the lesson hit home.  I only hope that some day I am able to hear one of my students advocate and educate like this!  I will be learning everything I can from the teacher of this student!

May I say for the hundredth time...I love my field!!!!




365 Things to Smile About Days 343 & 344. Just Feeling Happy!

Sometimes you have those days where you are just happy.  Everything around you is calm and you can feel like the world holds big things for you.  You are given time with the people you love and everything around you is ok.  Work is good.  The prospect of a new job is good.  The future possibilities are good.  Even when your brain is moving 1000 miles an hour trying to figure out the best move and how to do what, you are still just happy.  All the possibilities are open before you.  The people you love are with you and encouraging you and you are simply happy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 342. Rediclous Phrases!

I have a new co-worker who has been working with kids so far in the field and has come up with the best phrases to keep things interesting and yet still emphasize the need for safety. I got a chance to observe her teaching style yesterday and had many moments where I found myself choking back laughter from some of her comments!

My personal favorite was, when speaking about safety when crossing a street, that as O & M's, "we don't advocate road pizza."!!  In other words, if you aren't sure, don't cross the road in that moment. The phrasing though on that particular one cracked me up so much there was no holding in the laughter!!  Yesterday I learned that not only is my new co-worker an easy person to work with...she has a crazy sense of humor too and that can make a job that much nicer to have!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 341. Air Conditioning!

Today I am happy and grateful for AIR CONDITIONING!!  Such a seemingly simple thing to be happy over and yet so very wonderful!!  I spent most of the day outside today with different clients.  I drank more water than I could keep track of and a big bottle of Power Aid!  All the lessons were good lessons and each one held a happy moment for me.  However, by the end of each one I could feel my body starting to yell at me that it was time to get somewhere a lot cooler.  And then the bus would come and the doors would open and blessed air conditioned air came out!!!!  Total bliss!!!

One student asked how people lived without air conditioning and I have to admit...I was so happy to be born in the time and place I was born!  And here I sit in an air conditioned bedroom with my ceiling fan on (because going through a ridiculous internal summer combined with a rather wilting summer heat outdoors requires that little bit extra!).  I am so happy and grateful for the many blessings I have received,  Yes, I include AC as one of them!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 340. It's Clicking!

I think any teacher, no matter what it is they are teaching, will tell you that one of the best moments in the job is when you see the things you are repeating over and over finally fall into place in your student's mind and everything starts to click!  I know I am not a typical teacher.  I am an O & M specialist (or will be in a little over a month).  But no matter what we call the people we work with; client, consumer, student, we are in fact teaching them.

I teach skills that can be used in any given situation.  But all I can do is present them to the person I am working with and show them how to use them.  And sometimes you find yourself presenting the same thing over and over again.  Like Cardinal Directions ( North, South, East West).  And then a day like today happens.  Sometimes it happens right away, sometimes it takes days or weeks or even months. I saw things start to click in one student and I wanted to do a happy dance!!!  Maybe it might not seem like a big thing to get cardinal directions down and know what direction you are facing.  But it is an AWESOME thing to see come together when it has been a struggle and is important to staying oriented and traveling  Yes, today was exhausting like every day has become.  But I don't care because today I got to see a mind put it all together and make an awesome jump forward!

365 Things to Smile About Days 338 & 339. Hello Wall.

I didn't think it was going to happen.  I honestly thought I was done with smacking into the exhaustion wall.   It's been such a long time that I can't remember the last time I hit that wall where I felt like I was back in chemo and my body was shaking and I couldn't hold myself up.  Well, I found the wall.  Teaching 4 back to back O & M lessons to teenagers each day and then adding a 5th lesson on in the evening without properly hydrating with Gatorade or bringing enough food!  Yes, I know, the hydrating and food was probably the kicker here.  And I am starting to adjust.  I forgot just how much teaching kids, no matter how much you love what you do, completely saps the strength right out of you!  They have all this energy and somehow they syphon off your's too!! Fortunately, falling into bed at the end of the day and sleeping like a log is helping a great deal!

The really great thing is, before the first week of working with the teenage summer program has even ended, I know I am going to love the challenge and the amazing progress in store!  So yes, hello wall.  It's been a long time and while I am not exactly happy to see you again...at least I got here by throwing everything I have into my work and then...forgetting to drink and eat properly!  I bought some PowerAid at the store tonight!




365 Things to Smile About Days 336 & 337. Time to Study Again!

This weekend I scheduled the date and time to take my certification exam for Low Vision Therapy.  If I can pass this test I will be dual certified in O & M for Adults and Low Vision Therapy.   That is a pretty amazing feeling and a pretty big accomplishment!!!  I am nervous about the test as I am not the best test taker and have to not let myself get so anxious that I blank completely.  I figured out that my brain freezes and blanks, fogs, menopause moments...whatever you want to call it...tend to happen more frequently when I am rushed or stressed.

So, while I feel like I have a fairly strong grasp on the practical side of being a Low Vision Therapist I also know I don't know everything.  And because I don't know everything I don't feel prepared for the test.  And the crazy thing is, I will NEVER know everything and so because of that, I will never feel truly prepared for the test!  Really frightening catch 22 isn't it?!

So, this weekend I have spent many hours curled up in a corner of a friend's bed studying quietly and out loud while she and another friend organized the room.  These two particular friends have learned a lot about O & M from my excitement of the field and now they are learning about Low Vision therapy from my panic of not knowing everything that could possibly show up on the exam!  They are very patient and good friends!  Lol!

And so, I am back to studying and looking things up and trying to clarify questions and praying that this certification test goes well.  And the crazy thing is...this isn't the last certification test I could be taking.  There are two more certifications in my field and honestly, why wouldn't I want to have them all and have as much knowledge as I can about a field that I can't wait to get up in the morning to practice in:).  Well, ok, perhaps I am not jumping out of bed.  But I am willingly rolling out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom when my alarm goes off.  Please say a few prayers the exam goes well!



Friday, July 8, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Days 334 & 335 Approved and Studying

To be certified in the two areas in my field that I want to be certified in takes a lot of work both academically and paperwork!  I have just been told that I finally not only have all my hours done but all the proper paperwork in to take my next certification test!!

So I have been studying and will be hopefully paying for the test Monday and setting up the testing date sometime in the next month before I leave Virginia for my new job!!  So any Low Vision Therapists out there who can help me study....HELP!!!!!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 333. Giant Step!!!! Facing Fears!!

Today (Wednesday) I accepted a job offer as an O and M specialist!!!  I have had a couple offers but this particular one seemed to be the best choice for me right now.  I am still nervous and downright scared about so many things, but I am so very excited to take this giant step into my future!

Along with this excitement I have been experiencing a lot of fear too.  I feel like I need to acknowledge some of my fears to be able to start putting them behind me.  I am stepping very wide outside my personal comfort zone with this move!  I will have two brothers each a couple hours away and a good friend about an hour and a half away but in the city I will be moving to...I will be alone.  And it is a BIG city!  This didn't use to scare me.  I use to be up for any kind of adventure and moving anywhere.  Now, I have the thoughts of what if something happens?  And lets face it, the very reason I am writing this blog is because something big and life altering happened to me just when I thought my life was finally on track.

Every scan I have had has been NED.  Every pap smear has been normal.  Every blood test has been clear.  And yet when I think about this move, along with the excitement of a new job in my field, I feel a fear inside of me that is sometimes so very overwhelming that I have to take several deep breaths to calm down when I think of moving so far away from friends and my support systems I have set up.  I don't make new friends easily.  I get along with people easily but that is not the same as having friends.  In this new town I will be setting up new oncologists and GP's and other doctors and going through lots of scans and tests and exams to update everything and satisfy new doctors and I will be doing it without anyone with me.  I have always either had someone in the room or the waiting room or at least at home when I was finished.  I will admit that as I am writing this, I am crying.  I have never been alone on this whole roller coaster ride and it frightens me.

I am finding myself swinging between elation at finally being able to be an active member in my field and moving out of the school phase and into the practical phase and then also anxiety and fear over how big a change this is.  And since I have addressed some of my fears, I feel it is only fair to spend some focus on the good side of this next step in my life.

The people I will be working with are happy people!  They love what they do and they put their all into it.  They like to laugh in that office and it is real and not put on to try to force a specific atmosphere....it is an honestly organic atmosphere of people being truly happy in their work.  That is an atmosphere I want to be in.  Most of the time I will be on the road working with clients but when I go back to the office, I know there will be a group of people around me with positive attitudes and a welcoming greeting.

I am very excited and confident about stepping out from under a teacher's supervision and being the one in charge of myself and my clients.  I am excited about meeting my clients and working with them to help them achieve their goals and feel that sense of freedom that comes with the independence they are gaining!!  I've already seen that look on a person's face when they thought they were stuck in a small, confining space because they were loosing their vision and then find out that the world has opened back up to them!  I can't wait to see that look over and over again!!

And then there is the fact that I CAN move so far away.  That I not only have clear scans and tests but I also have so much of my energy back!  In fact, since getting out on my internship I feel like I have a brand new kind of energy and stamina that I never felt before.  I suppose that comes when you are doing something you are passionate about.  Three years ago right now I was starting my chemo treatments and I was starting to think a thought that has only disappeared from my mind in the past two months,  "Will I ever be able to do even a fraction of what I use to do?".  There are still limitations on my energy.  As my body gets tired it is more pronounced in my vision.  I still hot flash amazingly intensely but fortunately the frequency has gone down some.  Although being outside on a 90 plus degree day and walking after my students, monitoring and correcting, I generally drink down a LARGE bottle of water as I feel myself hot flash added to the normal heat.  I will admit...that slows me down a bit.  I have noticed though that my client's determination often gives me the boost I need to keep going.  Thank goodness for AC in the car and a quiet drive to my next client or back to the office.  I have learned that is my recharge time.

I also still struggle getting words out a great deal sometimes.  Being able to convey a thought can be such a massive challenge still and I never know when it is going to happen.  I feel the chemo brain taking over and I flash back to just not talking sometimes during treatment because it was so hard to get words to form.  Knowledge I know I have sitting in my brain is randomly inaccessible.  But I am here!  I passed all my classes and kept a 3.84 GPA.  I passed my certification test for O and M.  I am studying hard for my Low Vision test.  I'm able to take a test again.  I can sit that long again without feeling my body fall over because it simply can't hold itself up anymore.  I'm planning to drive 800 to 900 miles to get to my new job probably by myself.  Granted, I might break it into a few days but I clearly remember a two years ago when after 45 minutes of driving I felt so exhausted my whole body was shaking and I had to pull over and let my mom finish the drive because I literally couldn't keep my eyes open or hold my head up anymore.  And now I am planning a slightly modified road trip!

So yes, there is a lot about next month that is very frightening to me.  But there is also a great deal that is exciting!  I know this is only the first step into my career and I am ready to just keep moving forward!  There is so much I want to do and I know I can only move so fast...but I am doing everything I can so that I can do as much as I can in whatever time is left for me in this world.  Be it five years, ten years or even thirty or forty years!  I want it all to count....career and personal.  So in order for that to happen, I need to not let my fear rule me.  I can't ignore it or it will just fester and grow.  But if I can face it and over come it then I think life will be pretty amazing.

***The image below is a purple cancer ribbon with the word "survivor" on the front of the ribbon.







Tuesday, July 5, 2016

365 Things to Smile About Day 332. Kind Friends!!

This morning when I got home from Northern Virginia (yes, I drove early in the morning to get back for work) I found a piece of mail for me outside of my bedroom door.  As I was hurrying to get ready I took a moment to open it and found a note and small gift card from a friend and classmate thanking me for some help with clarifying a few things with our internships!  It really made me stop my rush to unpack and get ready for work and sit for a minute and think about what really great people I am surrounding myself with in this field I am entering!  Truly kind, caring and lovely people who are going to do wonderful things!!!

365 Things to Smile About Day 331. 4th of July

I know a lot of people have said beautiful and profound things about the 4th of July and I wish I could say something along those lines but what is coming into my mind is an image from that day.  It was pouring rain most of the day and so finding indoor activities was a must.

I found myself at the mall walking around with two friends.  Mall walking for me is not always easy...especially when it is busy.  The hustle and bustle of the people often makes me very dizzy and at this time I was pretty tired.  But I was walking behind my two friends, using them as a small, visual buffer from the chaos of the rest of the mall and listening to their voices as they talked.  I can't help but think that with all the political upheaval going on, there are still the simple freedoms that I think sometimes we forget.  Like being able to wander around a mall with friends.  It's a little thing really but one that, while it is difficult for me, I don't want to take for granted.  I know this silly rambling around the mall isn't a deep thought at all but without days like the 4th of July and without the protection of those who serve, I wouldn't be following my friends and smiling over their conversations and random bursts of silliness from one of them:).

So thank you to the military both past and present who make it so I live in a country where I can have the freedom to go where I want to and when I want to and be safe.

Happy 4th of July!


365 Things to Smile About Day 329 & 330. Hibachi and Friends!

This weekend one of my oldest and closest friends was home from Italy for a visit and we got a chance to spend a few days together and catch up!!  My friend Marie has the lovely talent of making me laugh ridiculously hard while at the same time shaking my head in wonderment at her antics!!!  Often I have wished I had her free spirit and ability to not care what others thought!  I always look forward to these visits that are almost happening once a year now!  Lol!

This visit we spent some time with another friend of mine and we decided we needed to introduce Marie to Hibachi!!  As always, she was game to try it at least once!  And I think she liked it!  I always enjoy the show put on by the chef and this time I managed to catch an awesome picture of the flames from the beginning when the grill is sprayed down with an oil and set on fire!  It literally looks like the flames have taken on lives of their own and are curling and spinning around!!

The rest of the time spent hanging out was a combination of visiting with her family, watching hilarious videos on her computer, talking about many things, becoming addicted to new app games, and spending time with more friends and eating delicious food!  Busy and exhausting but very worth it!!!!!



365 Things to Smile About Day 328. A Beautiful Drive!

I had a job interview in Staunton, VA and drove from Richmond out there and then hopped on 81 and headed north.  I know in my mind how beautiful the Shenandoah Valley is because I lived there for many years.  But I was reminded once more just how spectacular it is out there!

Driving up the valley I had mountains spread out in a blue haze on either side far in the distance and then suddenly they were on either side of the road and I was turning along curves going in and out of small pockets of farm areas dotted with cows and farm houses and barns!  The green of the fields contrasted beautifully with the haze blue of the mountains and the clouded blue sky!!  I took a few quick pictures through my windows and they don't do it justice!  To channel my inner Anne of Green Gables...there was so much "scope for the imagination" and it was so beautiful it occasionally took my breath away!!