Friday, May 17, 2019

A LOT Can Change in a Month

Since the last time I stopped by here:

My mother passed in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday.  She donated her body to a research university in Texas for the study of her very rare form of cancer.  I'll be traveling to Texas to attend her Celebration of Life service on June 1st.
The day after Easter I embarked on a whirlwind tour for work - April 22-25 at the Conga Connect conference in New York City, April 28-May 1 at the ACC Xchange conference in Minneapolis, May 6-8 in Rockville MD for meetings. My time at home was mostly spent unpacking and re-packing for the next trip!

I've actually been home this week, but not sitting still by any means!

On Wednesday evening, our daughter Becca graduated... her 2nd degree... a little bit backwards...

Becca graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Exercise Science.  A brief stint in nursing school and back to the drawing board. She got a job in a Physical Therapy office and that changed everything. A year after graduating college, she was back at Lehigh Carbon Community College in their Physical Therapy Assistant Program. The program is competitive - she had to convince them to even interview her for a spot and she's worked her tail off the past two years to stay in the program and finish.  They only accept 36 students a year.  Of that 36, only 24 graduated.  She struggled through some of the courses (Kinesiology AGAIN) but she stuck with it.  And here we are! She now has an Associates Degree in Applied Sciences from the Physical Therapy Assistant program.  She's more proud of this degree than her BS and rightfully so - she's never worked so hard for anything in her life!  I'm so proud of her accomplishment! Now for the Boards...

Next up?  We're off to visit a famous mouse, a castle, a school for witches and wizards...  I'm almost too tired to begin this next journey but it is upon us, so here I go!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Creative Team Share

Since I haven't been blogging much of late, I realize it has been seemingly forever since I've shared anything that I've done for a Creative Team.  Time to remedy that!  Most of these were created in March, so I'm not soooo far behind.  Although there are a couple from January (yikes!) and the last two layouts are actually from April!  Here we go...

Created with Manu Design Studio Remnants of The Past kit.  The photos are me and my sister Deanna in the mid 1960's.

Created with Tami Miller Designs Come The Spring Collection.  These photos are actually from last Spring.  We aren't quite that far along here yet.  But soon!

Created with Tami Miller Designs Create Happiness Collection and Photo Sketch service.

Created with Tami Miller Designs Words to Live By: Kindness Collection.   I pulled photos from my 2014 Year of Kindness blog entries for this one.

Created with Tami Miller Designs Words to Live By: Remember Collection.  As I create this post, my Mother is still with us, although not doing well at all right now, so when this kit came out, I preemptively made this layout.  I know that day will live in her heart forever, just as she will in mine.

The next two were created with Tami Miller Designs Romantic Blush Collection.  The first is Sarah getting ready for her Junior Prom... twelve years ago...

and Becca on board a ship headed for the Bahamas... even longer ago...

These last two are from Tami Miller Designs recently re-released kit Selfie.  The first is me holding my new grandpuppy Millie.  She's Rachel's dog, a rescue, about 3 or 4 months old. Retriever/Shepherd mix. I've never been too keen on dogs (I'm a cat person), but Millie is special.  So sweet and smart.  And she doesn't jump on you or bark unnecessarily - two very good traits in a dog!

And last but not least - a true selfie of me at the beginning of this year with my word "healthy" in mind.

My Creative Team digiscrapping has been about the extent of my creativity this year. I just don't seem to have it in me right now. I know my mojo will eventually return so for now I'm happy with getting this much done. What have you created lately???

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Twenty Days Later

It was twenty days ago that I posted "Sometimes Life is Just... Hard."  It hasn't really stopped being hard, but there have been a few bright spots here and there.

My daughters and I went to Frisco, TX  on February 22nd to spend a little time with my mother. For Rachel and Becca it was a short visit - we all arrived on Friday night, they left on Sunday.  Sarah and I stayed until Wednesday. At this point my mother is pretty much house-bound, spending her life in jammies for comfort. Her tumor is mid-abdomen and sort of makes her look pregnant, so she's wearing clothing two sizes too big in order to fit around her middle. The tumor is pressing on her stomach and digestive system, making it very difficult for her to eat. She was in good spirits while we were there, but I don't think it lasted much beyond our visit. I did what I could for her, which wasn't much, but such as it was, I felt good about it.

We were at the airport on Wednesday, waiting to get on our flight home, when Sarah got a text from her friend Brianna who has been battling colon cancer for the past two years. Doctors said she might only have a few days left and Brianna wanted to know if Sarah could get to D.C.  So we got home (my house), I did all Sarah's laundry, and she left Thursday morning to drive to D.C.  She had to drive there and back same day because she had an intensive two day class to attend on Friday/Saturday and couldn't get out of it without losing the tuition money and taking a failing grade. It was a rough few days for Sarah.

Sunday (March 3) was a good day.  I met my new grandpuppy Millie.  Rachel brought her home from the SPCA on Saturday.  She's a retriever/shepherd mix and has the sweetest disposition.

We made it home from our visit to Manyunk just as the snow began to fall.

And woke up Monday morning (March 4) to this:

8" of heavy wet snow.  So glad I didn't have to shovel!

This past week life felt like it was starting to settle back into routine, except that I wasn't able to concentrate on anything and got a fat nothing done for work.

Thursday (March 7) was Rachel's surgery. I'm happy to say that went extremely well. The surgeon got clear margins on the first cut and was actually able to close Rachel's shin without doing a skin graft - so no donor site stitches and scarring! Rachel came out of anesthesia much better this time and was quickly in good spirits. The "closure" is a mixture of stitches, glue, and tape and if it holds, it looks like the scar will be 3-4" long but very thin. Fingers crossed!  It is hard to be 25 years old and find yourself getting covered in surgical scars.

Brianna passed away on Friday afternoon. She was only 31 years old and, according to Sarah, one of the best people she's ever known. My heart is breaking for Sarah, for Brianna's family and friends, and for everyone who has had their life changed by cancer in one way or another.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sometimes Life is Just.... Hard.

I know that February is more than 1/2 over and this is my first post.  Sometimes life just takes over and when you can no longer tell which end is up, blogging falls by the wayside. 

I'm 4 weeks into the 6 week Whole Life Challenge.  Eating healthier, moving more - only missed one day of tracking my score - and the scale hasn't budged at all.  Neither have my measurements.  Or my pain levels.  Or anything by which I could claim some success for avoiding bread, pasta, and sugar in any form.  So let me just say this once - this SUCKS and it is so NOT FAIR!  Okay, end of pity party.  I know this means I have to drastically up my exercise game.  I hope Spring comes soon, because getting to a gym is not always in the cards, but walking around the block could be.  Just not when it is winter cold out!

Since I last posted, a lot of "news" has been dumped on me.  Here's what I'm dealing with right now...

My boss of 12+ years (the CEO of our company) is leaving on March 15th.  I report directly to him.  I'm not terribly concerned about job security, just unsettled about who his replacement might be and how that will change the rhythm of my work and what is expected of me.

My daughter Rachel has a tiny mole on her shin that needs to be removed - severe atypia -  the stage just before cancer.  But because of the location, there isn't enough skin to cut and stitch, so she'll need a skin graft to replace the skin they remove on her shin.  Surgery, two more scars, one very upset, angry, frustrated kid.  As of right now, surgery is scheduled for March 7th.

I'm in physical therapy for plantar fasciitis. Home stretches and icing didn't make any improvement.  New shoes and insoles didn't make any improvement.  If the PT fails, I'm stuck with cortisone injections which frankly scares the bejeebers out of me.  Hoping very much to avoid!

My sister Deanna has hit a rough patch personally that is going to require her to move out of the place she just moved into at the beginning of the year.  She's weighing life options right now.  Looking at moving closer to her job in Memphis, or possibly back this way.  Either option involves major life changes and lots to think about.  Can you guess which option I'm rooting for?

My mother went into hospice care on Wednesday of last week.  I'm heading to Dallas this coming Friday with my daughters to see her before things get worse.  I'm looking forward to seeing her, but having a very hard time dealing with the reason for the trip.

Last, but by no means least, our sweet Ashley turned 18 today.  She's definitely showing her age and I think she has kitty dementia.  She often seems confused about where she is or why she went there. We are enjoying the last bit of time we have with her, but none of us thinks it will last very long.

I know that none of this is out of the ordinary; it's all to-be-expected life changes in a world where change is the only constant, the only thing truly guaranteed.  But sometimes, it's just.... hard.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Best of 2018

As with most years of my life, 2018 was a mix of fantastic, average good and very sad.

I got to visit Huntington Beach, CA (work trip), Boone NC (with my sis), New York City (family trip), Ocean City NJ (family vacation), Orlando FL (work trip), and Kauai, HI (getaway with Jay).

I made NINE trips to Maryland for work - gone an average of 3-4 days each time.

We lost our beloved pet Kira in August.  She was 17.  Thankfully, her sister Ashley is still going strong.  Ashley had been very sick in 2017 and we thought we were going to lose her then, so the fact that she has outlived Kira was a surprise to us.

Made with Tami Miller Designs Love Birds kit, currently on sale HERE.

I PLAYed more.

I lost some weight and gained most of it back (story of my life).

We had a lot of good family time.

I got a new car!  2019 Honda Pilot, dark grey.  Very nice ride.  I don't miss the Odyssey at all.

Becca passed all her PTA program exams and just has this semester of clinical rotations to finish, then the Boards and she'll be a Physical Therapy Assistant.  Lots of anxiety getting this far, but we are on the final stretch.  Mom could not be more proud!

"Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. But it's your CHOICE to either scream or to enjoy the ride." (unknown)    I'm choosing to enjoy the ride!  How about you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Welcoming 2019 - Time to Get HEALTHY!

Saying goodbye to 2018 took me some time.  I'm still working on getting myself fully organized for 2019.

2018 was my year to PLAY - for six months I mostly kept up with LifeBook 2018 and enjoyed the new art ideas to which I was being exposed.  Then I joined a Creative Team whose designer passed away from cancer two months after I signed on, joined three other creative teams from her shop only to have the shop close, and followed those designers to new shops.  All of which completely distracted me from LifeBook.  I was still PLAYing - albeit it digitally - so I considered my word and my involvement with it to be a success.

This year I'd like to get back to the LifeBook version of art-ing.  I've signed on for LifeBook 2019, but so far I haven't even managed to get through the first lesson.

Totally aside from PLAY, during the first six months of 2018 I focused on my health - my weight and my physical condition.  I joined WW and lost some weight; unfortunately gained the majority of it back during the second half of 2018 - between trips to the Jersey shore and Kauai, travel for work, and the holidays.  Honestly, I will probably always struggle with my weight.  Bad combination of insatiable appetite and slow metabolism.

So... 2019.... knowing that I really want to get HEALTHY so that I can enjoy and actively participate in the rest of my life - rather than merely surviving it or suffering through it - I decided to make HEALTHY my word for the year.  My primary focus is on my physical health and I have some goals in that regard.

 I am participating in Ali Edwards One Little Word class this year, but probably won't be doing many of the album prompts this year because I'm adding this to my daily planner rather than keeping a separate album.  I want everything together where I see it all the time.

I'm also thinking about my mental, emotional, and spiritual health - as well as having a healthy home, healthy marriage, healthy relationships... you get the idea - healthy can truly encompass the entirety of your life and being!

I've started classes at a local gym (began in December) and I've signed up for the Whole Life Challenge that starts this coming Saturday, the 19th.  Check it out HERE and think about joining me - I'd love to have some of my blog friends on my team!

This challenge ties in so neatly with everything that I'm trying to do this year, and the price was quite reasonable, so I couldn't not give it a shot!

To keep myself accountable and be fully transparent about what I'm doing, here is my "before" picture, complete with belly.  Ugh.

I've also joined Cathy Zielski's FIT class again, but that's mostly for her monthly inspirational audio.  I'll be tracking my stats in my daily planner:

I really like that this keeps everything together - how well I slept, how many steps I took (which for the winter months isn't as important to me as getting in some exercise classes), how much water I drank. The facing page tracks my weight and measurements, my monthly goal, and how I did.  Not quite ready to share that.  I'm also writing in a page each month of daily gratitude entries.

So those are the plans... and here are some of the goals for the year:

Created with Tami Miller's "Love Life" kit which released today at Scrap Girls.

What are your goals for 2019?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Spread A Little Love

Jay and I started watching the show "Knightfall" last night. It's an historical fiction drama on the History Channel set in the early 14th century involving the Knights Templar. 

In the first or second episode, there is a scene set in Paris where a "Christian" is on a soapbox railing about the "Jews."  A man, allegedly a Jew, approaches and stabs him in the back.  The Christians want revenge.  The King of France expels the Jewish people from Paris.

As Jay & I were watching, I was struck heavily by the awareness that human beings have been persecuting each other practically since the day we arrived on earth.  And from this scene in the show over 700 years have passed and apparently as a species we have learned NOTHING.  Hate crimes are still rampant.  We are the only species (that I'm aware of) on the planet that kills for sport rather than necessity.  We are the only species driven by fear and hatred of what we don't know, don't understand, or what is different than us.

It is truly disheartening to think that after all this time, we have evolved SO LITTLE.  We haven't (as a species) yet reached a place where we accept and celebrate each others' differences.  Where we live and let live.  Where we seek to understand, rather than fear. Where we are inclusive rather than exclusive.  Where we understand that "we" aren't superior or better - and "they" aren't inferior or less than - based solely on skin color, religion, sexual orientation, political leaning, or any other category that divides "us" and "them."  The current political climate does nothing to help the situation either. 

It just made me sad.  And angry.  And I'm just sharing the feels tonight.  And thinking that tomorrow when I am out and about I'm going to make an extra effort to be kind and helpful and spread a little love.  Care to join me?