Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Move

I slept until 9:30 this morning.
Oh, Holy Night!

It was glorious.
Michael gave me a half hour-plus massage last night.

You know what? There is a lot that I have to deal with that a lot of other wives don't. I will admit that I do sometimes wonder what it would be like if it were easier.

I bet there wouldn't be half hour-plus massages.
And, I would miss those.

We are moving soon.
There are small boxes and big boxes stacked in our office and in our living room. And in one of those boxes, I think I've packed my keys. Guess I will find out soon.

This morning, I'm Craigslisting for more free boxes, and contemplating driving to work so that I can start saving stuff off of this computer onto a couple of different hard drives.

I've moved a lot in my adult life. This one is so much more complicated. Moving when you're single is easier than moving when you're married. And, I've never had to completely back up a computer before. What a blessing having a MacBook Pro for work has been!

Soon... I will have my own! A new computer.
A new house.
A whole new life.

The past week and a half has been heavy on the investment side of getting there. But today, after a full night's rest, I am full of hope. I can't wait to get home.

2013 is going to be amazing for us. I just know it.
We have this James Morrison station on Pandora playing in the background this morning.
I told Michael that I love this station, that every single song makes me want to dance with him.
He told me he feels the same way, that this is the "we can get through anything together" station.

I think this will be playing pretty much non-stop for the next 2 weeks or so.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Caring for the Caregiver SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS!

My heart is so full this morning.
I'm so happy to know some very, VERY generous people who want to help caregivers.

A few weeks ago, a good friend - who will remain anonymous - but just know I love this woman! - had this idea. To help a caregiver. To give a caregiver a break. She gets it, because she is a caregiver herself!

So, we put the "Caring for the Caregiver" Scholarship together.
I couldn't wait to bless someone with this awesome opportunity.

Then - something amazing happened! Another amazingly generous woman - who will also remain anonymous - told me to give away TWO scholarships!

I'm not even done, y'all!

Not long after that, another friend told me she wanted in on the giving, too! So, she is contributing a manicure/pedicure or some other sort of spa treatment of their choice to a third winner!  She will also remain anonymous, but she gets it too, because she is also a caregiver!

I'm surrounded by anonymously awesome friends! :)

It is with much joy and anticipation that I announce the winners of the scholarships!  This is a $400 value. It can be used all at once, at a hotel for four nights at up to $100/night, or one night at a time, also sticking to the $100/night price point. You can stay at the hotel, or you can put your loved on up there. You are responsible to make sure their care is arranged for while you are on your getaway.

I'd love to hear about it when you go!  I will e-mail all of you with details on how we are arranging payment.

The winners are....


And our third winner - who will receive a manicure/pedicure or massage/facial (any spa treatment you'd like, up to $75.00) is...


Look for an e-mail from me very soon, and we'll stay in touch.

CONGRATULATIONS to the caregivers who won, and THANK YOU to our generous sponsors and a big thank you to ALL of you who entered. I loved reading all of your stories. I love every single one of you, and I'm so thankful that we are all in this together.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Are A League of Our Own

Today is Sunday, but it feels like Saturday. I've spent the last four days at home, two being sick, and now I'm on day two of being a full time nurse.

There have been a lot of tears.

There is a difference between being stressed and being stressed out.

The last two days, I have added the word "out."
Hence, the tears.

If you follow us on Facebook, you know I recently accepted a new job and we will be moving soon. This is good. We're very excited to get home to the Virginia Beach area, in mid-January.

The new job and the upcoming move are great! But, stressful.

Add to that a van that's in the shop, Christmas travel plans, trying to find a new house, trying to find a moving company, getting things settled to break our lease here, and a surprise medical situation that pressed a big fat "pause" on all planning efforts on the aforementioned stressful situations... and a Puggle who helped himself to an entire bag of dehydrated chicken chews...

Insert anxiety attack here.
Commence with hyperventilating, shaking, and crying uncontrollably.
Follow with marital fight before coming together stronger than before.
Top it off with doggie digestion issues.
Bake at 350. In a pressure cooker.

Whew! What a 36 hours or so it has been.

I even had one of those super-realistic anger dreams that was so real I woke up ready to punch someone. I did not punch anyone.

This is what I fear.
I don't want to go where I was before.
The last time we moved, I started a new job, and I was a full time caregiver... I almost lost myself.

But, it's different this time.
Yesterday, at the bottom of my pit, I wasn't alone!!

I was getting text messages all day from my SCI sister friends. Thank you Gentrie, Heather, Cheri and Robin. My sister forced herself past my protective barrier, heard me cry, and sprang into action. She's looking at a house for us this morning. My mom stalked me on Facebook, and made sure I smiled. My sister-in-law checked in on me, too.

Michael held me. And even thought about trying to figure out a way to fold laundry while laying in bed, on his side.

And, I made it.
I am on the other side.

I realized the beauty of being a full time nurse is that when your patient stays in bed all day, that means you don't have to transfer him at night.
Which means another glass of red wine.

I told Michael there will probably be a lot of tears through this adjustment.
He told me there will also be a lot of prayers.
I'm okay with that.

Sometimes this is crazy hard. It's overwhelming, it sucks.
I question whether or not I can really do this.

I watched a movie yesterday. I never do that. But I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, "A League of Their Own." This movie came out when I was 11 years old, the proverbial glory years of my softball career on the Aces, a Rec League softball team my Dad coached.

I bought into all of the sports stuff as a kid. It's those sports lessons, drilled way deep down inside of me, that make me who I am today, I'm convinced.

In my crying, I thought of this famous scene from "A League of Their Own."
Everyone remembers Tom Hanks as Coach Jimmy Dugan yelling, "There's no crying in baseball!"

Look, I'm a crier. I love this scene, and I get it.
But, there's a lesser known scene that I really, really love. It's a little later in the movie, when star player Dottie Hinson is about to quit, and she says, "It just got too hard." It's at the end of this clip:
Coach Jimmy Dugan comes back with, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

Isn't it amazing that what inspires you at 11 years old - to be a better ball player, can inspire you at 33, to push through grown-up stress?

We are A League of Our Own. There is crying, and it is hard, but we have a team, we have a coach, and the opportunity to overcome, to make memories, to do this.

I am so thankful for new mercies this morning. And 22 year old movie quote inspiration.
Are there movies that inspire you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mike's Shaving Routine

I'm sharing these pointers of my shaving routine.

You can watch the video here:

  1. Set up with a towel on my lap
  2. Wet cloth with hot water
  3. Rinse beard
  4. Pre-shave oil
  5. Lather with shaving brush
  6. Shave down
  7. Lather again
  8. Shave up
  9. Rinse with cloth
  10. Lotion
 A wet shave is so much better than an electric shave.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Caring for the Caregiver SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY

You guys.
I have an AMAZING opportunity for you.

If I sound like a crazy sales lady on an infomercial, good.
That's what I'm going for.

Because this opportunity is that good.

Do you know my heart?
My heart is for you.
You, who gets up four hours before you leave for work, because you take care of your husband or wife. You, who never get alone time, so you cherish the time in the shower or the car, because that's all you have to yourself.

You, the caregiver.

An awesome person who totally gets this, has anonymously offered to give one of you caregivers a beautiful gift. Some time away. Some time to yourself. Four nights in a hotel up to $100/night including fees/charges. You can decide how to use this. All at once for a four day stay, or one night a quarter.

We want you to go to the hotel. Or send your loved one there, so that you can enjoy some alone time at home. You're responsible for arranging the care for your disabled loved one. But, you've got that, right?  Talk to your loved one. You can figure something out together.

Because, my dear friend, you need this.
Trust me.
You need this.
Your marriage needs this.
Your partner needs this.
Your life needs this.

Because this life we lead? This crazy life of juggling marriage and a disability, it's insanely hard.
And it's not going anywhere.
So, it's always hard.

You know what else?
A lot of marriages - they don't make it.
The numbers are heartbreaking.

People who dearly love each other, are breaking up all the time, because the chronic stress of this life we lead is just too much.
On the body.
On the mind.
On the soul.
On the checkbook.

So, do this for me, will you?
Do this for yourself.
For your marriage.
For your future.

Click here to fill out a little application.
Send it to me (my email address is on the application) by December 23rd.
I am working with the generous person who came up with this idea and who is sponsoring it to pick the winner. There is no magic formula. Just tell us about yourself.

We hope this is just the beginning of a change for the better.
That this will help you to learn to say yes to help, to take a breath, and a nice hot bath, and charge your battery.

We'll announce a winner the week of Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Simple Christmas Decorations

Happy Sunday morning.
This post is brought to you by a girl who is sitting in between the light of a Christmas tree, and a snoring Puggle who is snuggled in between two holiday toss pillows.

Ah. Yes.
I finally decorated for Christmas.

It's definitely scaled back this year.
That pumpkin on my porch? It's still there.
We're not doing the lights outside or the lights on top of the cabinet, or all of the little nik naks.

We're keeping it simple.
I didn't even put all of the ornaments on the tree.
It's low key.
And beautiful.

I drank wine and had the tree up, lights on, ornaments on, and living room swept in about an hour and a half.
Michael was super sweet and compliant. He flew low on the radar, stoking the electronic fire.
And when I was finished, he said it was beautiful.
Ah, that's a good man.

He didn't point out the non-perfect stringing of the lights, or the places on the tree where there was an ornament hole.

And you know what? We got the tree up without an argument, for the first time, ever. I believe.

A Christmas miracle.

Christmas really is simple in and of itself, you know. It's about a baby being born, a Savior, who gives us all hope.
It's not stressful and crazy and full of pressure and credit cards.
We did all of that to Christmas.

It's simple.
And so important.
Sitting by the light of this imperfect tree this Sunday morning, I'm thinking about my Savior. And I'm so thankful for Him.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Talking to My Old Self

Dana Brown, January 2006
Have any of you ever thought about how neat it would be to be able to go back in time and interview a younger version of yourself?

Probably not.
Because only people like me, journalists, use words like "interview" while the rest of you would have phrased that question like this:

Have any of you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and talk to a younger version of yourself?

You know what I mean.

This blog has been quiet all week.
It's not because I'm so busy in life.
Life really isn't all that busy.

Sure, there was a week of work, and that little national TV show I produce and all.
And there was the commuting, and cooking and all that.
There was not the gym.

But really, honestly, my mind has been overrun with possibilities this week.
Every extra second I've had has been occupied with a lot of mental exercise.
I'm not at a position to share details.

It's nothing bad!
It's not a baby.
It's just that I'm old enough and mature enough now to not go there publicly, until it's the right time.

I have been trying to talk to the younger version of myself.
I need to hear from her.
Her experiences are valuable input for me right now as I ponder.

Time and space have a way of changing what was reality.
In a good way, of course!
Wounds are healed, experiences are romanticized, because they move from the "current experience" file in our brain - to the - "awww, those were good times" file.
You know what I mean?

I feel like I'm chasing the years of my life.
And having coffee with 26 year old Dana Brown.
She's interesting.
She's talented, and going places, and wittty.
But she definitely didn't know it all!

Having a journal and a blog really helps with going back in time and interviewing yourself.
What a gift.

I have a good memory.
But, there is so much I wouldn't remember if I hadn't written it down.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Clutter Funk

Our living room, last Christmas.

It's nice and quiet in here this Sunday morning.
The sun is slowly seeping through my sliding glass door, noticeably later than usual, and our home is clean.

Pretty much.
I know about the dust and grime and grit that is underneath things and behind things and way on top of things.
And all of that drives me crazy.
But not crazy enough to get on my hands and knees, or on top of a ladder to do anything about it.

Oh well.

It looks clean and smells clean in here, and that is wonderful.

I'm not sure why, but I'm just not feeling Christmasy yet.
I feel like I lost Fall.
My Fall was spent on the campaign trail, covering the Presidential debates. And that was fun, and exciting, but it stole my Fall.

There's a pumpkin on my porch, still, this December 2nd.
And I thought maybe yesterday I would feel like getting the Christmas stuff down, but I didn't.
And I'm thinking about it again today.
But I'm also thinking it's going to be like 60 degrees here today and I might need to get Mr. Wonderful out of the house to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

And a trip to Ikea may be in order.
So, maybe after that I will decorate for Christmas.

I'm not a Grinch. I promise.
I've already been to one Holiday Party.
I've already bought a few Christmas presents.
And made magic bars.

I'm just not ready for the Christmas clutter.
Quick, someone please tell me I'm not alone here.

I think I need another vacation. And by another, I mean the 10 day vacation I just wrapped up about a week ago was apparently not enough. I can tell. My mind and body are still so tightly wound.

I wish I had a "relax" button.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Season of Thanksgiving

I joined several others through November posting thanks on my Facebook profile. I think I made it to day 12, but really did enjoy the  practice. The thankful posts were an especially refreshing break following the presidential election. I still wrestle whether the election posts or the retro ecard quotes are more annoying.

One of the great things about Facebook is how it connects us. I think about my cousin who, almost a year ago, was injured in a horrible auto accident. She is still recovering, but has hundreds of fans following her story and praying for her every day. Then there is an old friend who was killed in Afghanistan. A group page allowed us to share memories and encourage his family. So many other pages do the same thing.

As we connect with readers of this blog and friends of friends who happen by I am reminded of how far Dana and I have come in this ministry opportunity. We really didn't set out to become a catalyst that would touch others' lives. But seeing people genuinely connect and find some relief by reading our story is a great reward. Then you guys share your stories that touch us and others. That's AWESOME!

So, I put away cheeky anecdotes and opinions and wrap up November saying thank you. Thank you for reading our story, encouraging my wife, and becoming part of our community. Thank you for sharing our story with others. Thank you for making this worthwhile.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let's Get Together

This is a Grande Eggnog Latte.
And this afternoon, it helped me.

Lattes bring great clarity, don't they?

You know what? I would love to sit across the table at Starbucks with each and every one of you. I would thank you for stopping by this space, for following along with our story, for cheering me on. I would listen as you shared your story - I would love to know each one of you, and connect with you.

What is it that brings you here? What keeps you coming back? What can I do for you?

I started blogging a long time ago because I heard about it, and I thought it sounded cool. I've always enjoyed writing, and I've always been the storyteller in any group. Blogging was a perfect fit for me, from the start.

I would just share random pieces of my life that for some reason, people found interesting.

But, a couple of years ago, things changed.
Well, my entire life changed, actually.

I moved, changed jobs, got married, and became a caregiver.
Life got real hard.
And so did blogging.
It's hard to blog, and not be authentic.
At least, it is for me.

So, my blog got kind of silent while I went through a really tough time in my life.
I searched high and low for other people who were feeling just like me. I looked on Spinal Cord Injury forums and Caregiving forums, but I had a hard time finding people I could really connect with. People who were just like me.

So, I just started sharing my heart here.
And BAM! Community happened.
And so did healing.

And now - even though life is still sometimes still overwhelming, I know that I know that I know that I am not alone. And it gives me such joy every time I get an e-mail or a Facebook message or a Tweet from one of you who say you so connect with what I write here that you feel like you could have written it yourself.

What a privilege to have found all of you.

I've said before that I have big dreams for this blog. One of those dreams is to take the community that's been built in my inbox because of this blog, and turn it into a yearly get-together for couples like us - living Love Like This. 

Because bless their hearts, other people can only get this so much. I don't mean to alienate anyone who isn't in our little club! I love ALL of you who take the time to read this and care about us!

But I feel in my heart that this is what I am supposed to do with this space - bring couples like us together. We can encourage each other and learn so much from each other. I want us to all be friends.

I want us to all get together.
That yearly get-together-in-person thing may still be a way's off.
But for now, let's connect where we can - Facebook!
I've created a Facebook Group that is born of the community that's been built because of this blog.
It's called Love Like This Group, and if you're interested in joining, I'd be so happy to have you!
I'm serving virtual Eggnogg Lattes.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

On Being Happy and Sad at the Same Time

There is something on my heart for you this morning.

Something I think a lot of you need to hear.
Something I am also reminding myself of, because Lord knows I do not know it all, I do not have everything in it's perfect place, I still struggle, I am human, and I live in the tension.

You can be happy and sad at the same time.

You can love your husband and secretly hate his disability at the same time.

And this is okay.

It's tricky, because the sad emotions you have will make you doubt yourself.
You think, if I sigh in annoyance at having to push him up this hill, or if I look at that couple walking down the street hand in hand and I'm so jealous I could cry, that that means you are not happy in your relationship, you're not strong enough, you can't do this, and you've made a mistake.

I know.
I have done (and still do sometimes) the same thing.
But a very wise woman gave me permission to be happy and sad at the same time.
So, I'm passing that along to you.

Think about it today, when your man gives you that sweet look that only he can give you.
But then when there is something else you need, or you wish you have, and he just can't physically give that to you.

It's sad.
But it doesn't change how much he loves you, how much he is dedicated to you, and how much he wants those same things - even if he doesn't talk about it all the time. He is still a dude, you know.

It's okay to let that tear fall.
It's okay to let him in on the fact that you felt some sadness. If it was a twinge of sadness, or if it's one of those days that the weight of all of this is just too much, and every hour brings something else that you have to do that you don't want to, or he spills something, or drops something, or his body does something inconvenient. Go ahead and ugly cry, girl.

And tell him.
Because really, no one gets the grief and disappointment that this life brings more than he does.

Don't let insecurity and fear keep you from sharing your feelings with your guy.
Because it's in those real, vulnerable, honest moments that your love does the growing that it has to do to do this.

And it's that love that is the glue that will stick you guys together, and make you so strong that you CAN do this.

Trust me.
I cried on Michael's chest last night.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dear Michael, Thank You

Good morning and happy Saturday.
I didn't do this yesterday, so I'm going to go ahead and do my Five Minute Friday post now.

This week the word is THANK YOU.


Dear Michael,
Thank you for loving me like no other.
Thank you for loving me in the middle of the night, when I whimper in a bad dream.
Thank you for loving me first thing in the morning when I'm clanging dishes around and begging the coffee maker to brew a little faster.
Thank you for loving me when I cry through getting you dressed because my back hurts, or my heart hurts, or I secretly just don't want to do it again.
Thank you for stopping me and squeezing me and kissing me, and rubbing the stress out of my back, neck, hips, and forehead.
Thank you for staying out of my kitchen.
Thank you for knowing me, really knowing me with all of my flaws of selfishness, impatience, and jealousy, and loving me anyway.
Thank you for showing me how to grow.
Thank you for folding laundry, and putting stuff away, and taking the dogs out one more time.
Thank you for getting me that blanket.
Thank you for taking a chance and falling in love with some crazy girl you met online, and sending her flowers.
Thank you for that night at the WWII Memorial.
Thank you for saying "I will" on the beach that day.
Thank you for holding me when it got so hard my hair was falling out and my weight was falling off, and I had that nervous breakdown.
Thank you for loving me when I gained all that weight, and more, back, and not even saying anything about it.
Thank you for bedtime prayers.
Thank you for this love.
This love that I don't deserve, I shouldn't ever doubt but do, and for being my biggest fan and supporter as my crazy dreams have come true.
Thank you for the way you love others.
Thank you for helping me as I have anxiety about what's next.
There are days I don't know if what I want will ever be.
But I know whatever it is, it will be with you.
Thank you for that.

(note: I wrote this in five minutes, but full disclosure, I added photos after that, not in the 5 minute time)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bad Dreams

Yesterday was the first day of my post-election vacation week.
It was glorious, the perfect mix of productive and relaxing. I had some productive blog time at Panera in the morning, I went to Jiffy Lube and got the SUV's oil changed and tires rotated and balanced. I met a friend for lunch at Founding Farmers and had a sweet time connecting with her. I came home for a cup of tea. I went and got my hair cut and highlighted, then when I got home, we ordered Chinese Food and watched Up All Night, Nashville, and Modern Family.

Before we went to bed we had one of those deep married talks about the future. It was good. But maybe it was bad timing.

Because neither one of us slept.
And I at least, am usually a good sleeper.

I had three bad dreams.
One was about a fight with my boss.
One was about a fight with Michael.

Then I realized he wasn't sleeping, so I turned him onto his side, propped up some pillows, and snuggled up behind him, and fell back asleep.

Then I dreamed about having a fight with the Secret Service, and I realized my alarm was going to go off in 8 minutes, so, here I am.

Not rested.
Kind of anxious.

This Thanksgiving Blend has it's work cut out for it today!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where My Heart Really Is: Wounded Warriors

There are times when you just know.
You know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, at the exact time you are supposed to be there.

It's easier to be yourself when you're in that place, isn't it?
When your heart is so full, and your mind is so aware, and you care so much that there is much joy in the giving.

That place for me, is serving Wounded Warriors.

I grew up in a patriotic family with a long history of military service. So, I've always been a girl who recognizes the service and sacrifice of our military and their families. But last year, something happened.

When my little brother was spending a year in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division, a guy from his company was seriously injured in an IED blast. I'll never forget the fear and trembling in my brother's voice when he told me about it a couple of days later.

I began to pray for this guy and his family.
Then, Chris came home on leave, and we went to visit Derek and meet his mom and then girlfriend (now fiance'!) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Something inside me shifted that day.
It was hard to come home from the hospital and think that anything else mattered. I had to do something. So, with your help, I began making meals for some of the wounded warriors and their families, and delivering them to the hospital.

Michael and I became good friends with Derek and Krystina as Derek healed.
Derek and Krystina and Derek's mom, Siobhan (aka "Team Derek") blessed us with a van!

For the last few months, I haven't been to Walter Reed, because I was traveling so much for our election coverage.
And I missed it so much.
Because my heart is there, with those guys. And the women who stand by them.
I want to help.

I am profoundly grateful for their service and sacrifice.
And I know the lasting impact of a traumatic life-changing injury. I believe that Michael and I are in a unique position to guide these young couples.
My heart beats for exactly that.

I've been so busy since August, that I haven't had time to sit down and sort out my thoughts about an experience we got to be a part of at the end of the Summer: The Joni and Friends Wounded Warrior Getaway at Sandy Cove in Maryland.

Thank you so much to those of you who donated so that we could be a part of this.

I want to share the long weekend in mid-September with you now.
We arrived on Saturday.
Our room was great. Fully wheelchair accessible (we don't have a roll-in shower at home, so it's always nice to have one when we get the chance), awesome view.
We met the other volunteers, and started our training - which was very educational and eye-opening - all about what our warriors face on the battlefield, and the challenges they have adjusting when they get home.

Sunday, we had a little more training, then were commissioned for serving at the Getaway. The wounded warriors and their families arrived in the afternoon.
We helped them to their rooms.
Then, we all came together.
It's amazing how a bunch of silly hats and costumes can break down language barriers.
At our Getaway, there were six Georgian warriors. Not like Waffle House Georgia, but Georgia, the country.
They didn't speak a lot of English, but smiles translate in any language.
We had dinner together, then headed out by the water to watch a patriotic boat parade, and have homemade ice cream.
Then, we did something else that you don't need English for - we danced.
That night, I dug up the Russian I learned in high school, and I was able to connect with wives of the Georgian warriors. Thank God for Google translate on my phone, too! It was fun.

The next morning, they welcomed me to sit with them. And we all became friends on Facebook.
There were a lot of super fun activities for the warriors and their families to participate in, like fishing.
It was so neat to see them take advantage of all of the opportunities.
We even got to the chance to do some awesome things we've never done before, either.
Like kayaking.
Michael and I had a role helping the Georgian warriors and their wives/caregivers. It was a joy getting to know them. During the sessions, we would meet as a group with the Georgians' doctor as our translator. We talked about war, and injury, and the effects of both. We bonded as we shared our stories with each other.

By Monday, we felt like old friends.
Laughing, and eating, and doing the Hokey Pokey and playing Limbo and sitting by a fire.
And we lit these really cool lanterns, and set them off.
Sib Charles, Program Director for Joni and Friends Eastern PA (and fellow quad wife) helped me overcome my fear of fire. Kind of. Okay, not really, but it was sweet that she tried.
Tuesday, the adventures continued.
Each morning, we started with singing and games and giveaways.
There were only two children at our Getaway, and they had their socks blessed off.
Mike King, Community Resource Coordinator for Joni and Friends, shared his story, and brought out some of his adaptive equipment and the Georgian warriors were eager to jump right on and get going! It was so neat seeing their smiles!
I can only imagine how freeing that must have felt for them.
That afternoon, the wives and one warrior's mother were treated at the spa!
It was equally as heartwarming to see these precious ladies being pampered.
Then, another super-amazing first for my guy and myself - PARASAILING.
We seriously had the most adventurous Summer, ever. First surfing, and now parasailing.
We got Michael and his wheelchair transferred on to the boat.
Then, I went first.
When I was up there, I realized, Michael could totally do this!
So, I convinced him, and the next thing you know, he was up there!
It's so quiet up there.
And you get such a good perspective, looking down from above like that.
It was profound.

After dinner, another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the warriors. The chance to go up in a hot air balloon!
That night, we had a coffeehouse, and my husband may or may not have embarrassed me by singing not one, not two, but three songs at karaoke. Three. Really?

It all ended on Wednesday. 
We saw bonds made, wounds healed, and relationships restored.
What began at Sandy Cove was just the beginning. Since then, we've been able to stay in touch with the warriors through Facebook, and on Tuesday, we'll have the honor of seeing the Georgian warriors again, at Walter Reed.

I can't wait to hug their necks and see their smiles, and fire up Google Translate on my phone again.

And Michael and I will be there on Thursday too - to serve Thanksgiving dinner with an amazing non-profit, Operation Ward 57. I'm looking forward to visiting and bringing meals again, on a regular basis.

It takes ALL of us to heal the wounds of war. They're so much deeper than just the physical wounds that you can see. There is so much unseen that needs to be healed as well. 

I love these families, and I'm honored to play a small part in their healing.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, "Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love."

Let's love them back.
This is really where my heart is.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Don't You Stay?

I'm at Panera right now, choking down a cinnamon crunch bagel with Hazelnut coffee. Oh, how I have come to love this time when Michael is getting up with the help of his aide, and I am free to do this.  I can't believe I resisted it for so long.

I missed Five Minute Friday last week. The prompt last week was "quiet" and I was, well, quiet!

This week it's: STAY.

I counted down the days to the Election like I counted down the days to my wedding.
I could tell you when there were 52, 47, 30, 14 and 3.
I was so eager to get my life back.
But at the same time, I was also grateful for the incredible opportunity of traveling our great nation, seeing Presidential candidates up close and personal, and working with a great team of people to inform our viewers about these candidates, their policies, and what was going on in the political world.
By the end - I was done. Exhausted. Tired of even my favorite people. I focused on that countdown to "after the election," what was next - whatever that was.

I had big plans for this time. Reconnect with friends, magic erase my walls, go to the gym, doctor, dentist, get the oil changed in our vehicles, go back to church, spend more time here on the blog, writing, and connecting with all of you. The truth is, for the last week since the election, I've felt numb. Blank.

Maybe I am just so tired that it's going to take time for that after-the-election productive juice to kick in.
But, I've been getting up early, going to work, taking care of the house and my husband, and in a lot of ways it doesn't feel like anything has slowed down.

It has stayed the same.

A major part of my anticipation was looking forward to how my life would change after the election. In big ways. I can't share details with you yet. I'm not pregnant, don't go starting to wonder that.

But I do know that I am blessed and highly favored.
I don't know what's next.

For now, I will stay right here, and embrace the now and all that it has to offer. I have to be really intentional about that, or I will live in the middle of dreams and plans for the future, and I'll miss the now.

I'm thankful I'm married to Mr. Smell-the-Roses. I zoom by roses so fast, I don't even see them. I think I'll stay.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Weather Survival Guide

When I was a kid I loved romping around in the cold. Even as a teen in Southwest Florida I used to say, "I'd rather be cold than hot because I can always put more clothes on." Since I broke my neck, my body's thermostat is out of whack and doesn't regulate well. So, I'm going to share my winter weather survival guide.

Layers for Warmth:

My mom tells me her dad wore long johns from October through April. Since I broke my neck I find the best way to stay warm is layering. It is annoying when getting dressed and undressed to wrestle two shirts and a sweater or jacket, but it does work. An extra layer adds the insulation that keeps the chill out and the body heat in.

Head and Shoulders:

When I moved to Virginia three years ago I experienced real winter. East Texas and Southwest Florida have mild to warm climates. Below 60 degrees is cold for me. And wind? Don't get me started. So I was educated on the importance of protecting my head and shoulders. Dana bought a scarf, and it worked! It is cashmere and very nice. I also have scarves, including a homemade one from my grandma. With a beanie (or tooke, or sock hat, or toboggan), I keep my head and shoulders warm. My ears are my indicator. When they get cold, I am about to be uncomfortable.
I also use a rice wrap warmed in the microwave, but I also draw up my shoulders and my neck gets tight when I use it too much.


You ever wonder why your neck gets so tight in the cold? I found out it's because our nature is to draw up when uncomfortable and protect the vulnerable areas. Look above to keeping the head and shoulders covered. Through the day I also stretch a little more than in summer. Working over a computer is bad enough. Before fatigue sets in, I try to stretch a lot to keep relaxed. Check out yoga videos on YouTube for pointers.
At night I have a heating pad on my pillow. Even with all of my preemptive work, I take an hour to relax at night. My neck and shoulders are drawn up at first, but the stress melts away with the heating pad.

From the Inside Out:

Hydration is also extremely important. It's easier in the summer because I'm hot and thirsty, but in the winter I know I need to drink plenty of clear fluids too. Water is number one. When my body is hydrated my joints and muscles are less sore. My Camelback bottles keep me on track. Hot tea is excellent too. It warms me from the inside. Orange and lemon rinds make a good tea in hot water too.
Never underestimate Ibuprofen either. Pain killers can take the edge off.

These are my essentials. You have any other pointers to share?