Friday, November 30, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
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
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 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.
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.
I cried on Michael's chest last night.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
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.
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 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 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 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.
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
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.
Kind of anxious.
This Thanksgiving Blend has it's work cut out for it today!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
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 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.
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.
The next morning, they welcomed me to sit with them. And we all became friends on Facebook.
It was so neat to see them take advantage of all of the opportunities.
Friday, November 16, 2012
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
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?
Saturday, November 10, 2012
|Election night Skype. Skype is great, but I'm glad I get to say good night and good morning every day, in person now.|
It's pretty much a national holiday.
And listen to this throw-down celebration we've been having here...
Brokaw woke me up at 5:00am, and I couldn't fall back asleep, so I went ahead and got up, took care of the pets, cleaned the entire apartment, unpacked the suitcase I brought home on, ahem, Wednesday, folded four loads of laundry, and made four lists.
And Michael slept in.
Then I saw an arm move in the bedroom.
The Birthday Boy was awake!
So, we snuggled and talked about General Petraeus and President Obama.
Because we are political geek heads.
Then, I made crescent roll calzones, at the Birthday Boy's request.
He's sitting up in the bed, responding to Birthday messages on Facebook, and taking calls.
At some point, I'll get him up, then head to the store.
I'm making him meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and a Boston Cream cake.
It's going to be 70 degrees in DC today!
I'm pretty sure that's God's birthday gift to Michael.
This may not sound like a grand birthday celebration, but after two years of tons of travel, I don't think there's anything we'd rather do that just this. Just live our life. Our normal, boring Saturdays are back.
We are so happy.
Here's to a great year!
Side note: Several people think Michael is a year younger than he actually is today. I have strongly advised him to go with that!
Friday, November 9, 2012
Thanks so much for participating in the messenger bag giveaway from 3E Love!
MORGAN, you are the WINNER! :)
I am e-mailing you with details so you can get in touch with 3E Love, and get your bag!
Thursday, November 8, 2012
They are fun, right?
Even though we don't have kids yet, we still really enjoy date nights. We are frugal people, so we don't eat out a lot. Because I've been working so much for the last few months, we have been ordering food a lot, which still costs money, but we still haven't eaten out that much.
The other day, it was my sister's birthday. My family was getting together at home (about 4 hours from here) at a Mexican restaurant. When I heard that, I wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant, too.
I'm all about supporting small, locally owned businesses over chains, generally. I guess it's because I come from a small business family. And I love authentic Mexican restaurants too, because the food is generally really good and the service is really fast.
Notice I used the word "generally" a lot up there in that last paragraph.
Because Friday night, I put on earrings, and a pair of boots, and rushed Michael out the door and into the van and we were off for a fun date night.
Then, we opened the door to this local Mexican restaurant. I don't even remember what it is called. I had been wanting to go there for a little while, I would always see it when I was getting gas across the street, and thought, "we should go there sometime."
We walked through that door into a dark cave! I mean complete darkness. Like power outage darkness. The only light was from this giant projector screen that was playing something about Chernobyl and nuclear disasters on the Spanish National Geographic Channel. I. am. not. even. kidding!
Then our non-English speaking waitress came over. Not a problem, because I'm married to the guy who once lived in Texas and regularly practices his Spanish with our apartment maintenance guys. Also, par for the course at a Mexican restaurant. Authentic, cool.
We watched the Chernobyl documentary in the darkness, and sipped our not-good/so-from-a-mix margaritas, and laughed uncontrollably at our horrible date night.
I was just thankful this wasn't our first date!
There were two Mexican guys also in there, drinking canned Sprite and Coke. Yes, I said canned. What in the world?
And the canned soda drinking guys left.
How romantic! The whole restaurant to ourselves!
After what felt like forever, our food finally came. It was okay. I ordered enchiladas, and they were crazy hot! I like spicy food, but I couldn't handle them with my "margarita." Michael had a chicken burrito, and his food was good! So, we shared his. I wanted some water, so Michael went to get the waitress to get us some water. Then she brought us two Deer Park bottles of water. And plastic cups with straws that had the wrappers still on the tops of the straws. Very nursing home chic!
We just kept looking at each other, like "are we on Candid Camera or something?"
Then, out of nowhere, a lady came in and turned the juke box up to like 1,000, playing some Latin dance music. So, we're sitting there drinking our bottled water out of our plastic cups with straws, we can't see each other, and now we can't hear each other.
We waited for our check. It came and it was like $41.00!?!? Flabbergasted, I signed the receipt, and we went back out into America. Wow.
We went to a movie after that. And that part of the date was great! We saw "Argo," and it was REALLY good. Thank you, "Argo" for saving our date night!
Have you ever had a horrible date? Let me hear about it so we know we are not alone!
Monday, November 5, 2012
Well, you have now.
Recently, a blog reader sent me a picture with some of their products (Hi Lena!) and I fell in love with their message.
So, of course, I went online and got this T-shirt. Because if I'm anything, it's a Proud Wife!
From their website:
"The symbol is an attitude and a lifestyle. It's accepting one's abilities and rallying around that diversity and turning it into strength. It's loving and living life to the fullest no matter who you are and what you look like, no matter what you can or cannot do."
Isn't that great?
I'd like to do my part in spreading the word about 3E Love. So - how about a fun giveaway?
See that super cute messenger bag up there? It can be yours! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, November 9th at 10:00am, and I will choose a winner randomly from the comments, and I will announce the winner by 5:00pm Friday, November 9th.
Here are some specs about the bag:
Messenger Bag w/ Wheelchair Heart. An Anvil Messenger Bag with our trademarked Wheelchair Heart symbol printed large in white ink. Get this bag in black or navy blue. Put your books in it for school, your work files for a big meeting, or even use it as a laptop bag.
Dimensions: 14-1/2" x 12" x 5"
•600 Denier ployester
•One front adjustable clasp closure
•Main compartment has inside slip pocket
•Laptop and PDA friendly
•Front panel has zipper compartment
•Black trim around interior and exterior edges
•Adjustable 2" shoulder strap
Have fun and good luck!
Go ahead and like 3E Love on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, so you can keep up with what they're doing, and the cool products they have to offer.
***PLEASE MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND E-MAIL ADDRESS, SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN!**
Saturday, November 3, 2012
It's cold outside, but I don't care.
Because I'm inside. And there is warm Thanksgiving Blend and moist homemade pumpkin bread, and life is good.
This is it! The last Saturday before the election.
I leave tomorrow for Boston, to cover the Romney campaign in the final stretch of the race.
It's been an incredible two years covering this presidential race. I wish I would have kept track of all of the places I've been. I wish now I would have been collecting those Starbucks mugs from different cities and states.
But, then again, we live in an apartment with limited cabinet space. So, maybe I made the right call on that, after all.
I love looking back at my pictures from the campaign trail over the last two years. They bring back so many fun memories. I guess I'm getting a little bit sentimental as I count down these final days.
I love being on the campaign trail.
But I also love quiet Saturday mornings where I can wake up slowly, not to an alarm or to the sound of "Housekeeping!" - but in my own bed, to the sound of lots of breathing, my husband breathing beside me, and Brokaw
I know it's time to get up, but it's not an emergency. I flip back and forth a few times, then I finally give in to the day. Rested. Relaxed. Ready for coffee.
Friday, November 2, 2012
So, here I am.
Today's topic is ROOTS.
Two things come to mind when I hear the word "roots."
|For your viewing pleasure, I give you one of the last pictures of my natural hair color. May it rest in peace. Oh, side note: My dad was rocking the moustache ombre way before ombres were cool, or even called ombres.|
I know, who is so shallow that they don't think of their ancestors first, but rather their hair color, right? Um, that would be me. I feel like my roots are almost always out of control. Welcome to the highlighting club I've been a part of ever since that Summer vacation in Nags Head when my mother convinced my 14 year old self to start lightening my hair. She was right. But here I am almost 20 years later, with chronic dark roots. A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to lowlight it, and the roots seemed not-so-bad, but I think they've faded and I'm rooted once again. Oh well. I'm too cheap and I don't want to invest the time in sitting in a salon for hours every couple of months, so I deal with my roots. One box at a time.
2. My family.
I don't know a whole lot about my family's roots. I know there is information out there, my Granny's sister spent a great deal of time researching that part of the family's roots, I need to get some of that information. And on my dad's side - someone is related to John Adams. I actually got a scholarship for that in college. That has to be one of the coolest things to tell people, aside from the fact that my dad's name is Charlie Brown, and my brother's name is Chris Brown and no my dad's not a cartoon and while my brother is an awesome dancer, he most definitely does not beat his girlfriend. I thought of one cool "roots" thing the other night, and I was telling my husband about it. I went to the same high school as my mom. Indian River High School, in Chesapeake, VA. In the school, there are these giant class pictures, just as you walk in the front door, up on the wall, high. I remember when I was a freshman, I loved looking at the Class of 1975 picture and finding my mom's big smile. I've been back since I graduated and seen myself up there, too. Class of 1997. Big smile. Brown hair. My senior picture was taken at an unfortunate time as it relates to a box of hair coloring. It was dark in that picture, and I still regret it to this day. But still, pretty cool to have two generations with the same smile hanging on the wall there at The River.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
I've said before that there are few things in life that a Pumpkin Spice Latte can't fix. And if a latte can't fix it, it will surely help you.
So, I drink.
On my way home from Allume Saturday night, my MacBook had a very unfortunate encounter with my water bottle.
Camelbak bottles are spill proof. That is, UNLESS the top is broken.
I've been separated from all of the data on my hard drive for almost a week. It's been quite traumatic for me. I knew my life was on the computer, but to be forced to face this reality like this has been eye-opening.
But, I am who I am.
I cried in my SUV, just now.
Over a computer.
There are a couple of reasons this is stupid.
1. Hurricane Sandy. People have lost homes and businesses and some have even lost their lives because of this horrible storm. Water can do a lot more damage than ruining a computer. I'm trying to remind myself that while it feels like my life was washed away, it really wasn't.
2. My hard drive is okay. So, all of my data will be recovered. I will not have MY own computer in my hands before Election Day like I had hoped, and I just need to come to terms with that. I will get a loaner. I have an iPad. I have options.
Dear Dana, take a deep breath - and suck it up.
I mentioned earlier that I'm at Starbucks.
That's to save my marriage.
Because while it isn't my husband's fault that I spilled water on my MacBook, I can't seem to stop getting frustrated with him over the stupidest little things.
Yesterday, it was soup. Specifically, the leftover soup he ate for lunch that I was planning on serving for dinner.
The day before that, it was cords. I feel like they are spewing out of every outlet in our house! I am a chronic cord-hider.
Today, it was oatmeal packet wrappers. The ones he should have put in the recycling bin after he made his oatmeal and ate it, but didn't, so I had to throw them away when I got home.
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only adult living in our house. I used to feel this way all the time. Back when I felt sorry for myself, and kept my eyes focused on myself and did not intentionally respect my husband for the MAN and HUSBAND that he is. Even if I do have to clean up after him.
Now, I know when I feel that way, the soup or oatmeal packets or whatever is the "problem," is not the real problem. My attitude is.
So, here I am at Starbucks - not being mean to the man I love and respect.
I'm here learning how to blog on my iPad, sipping my PSL, and dealing with my computer grief.
Tell me I'm not the only one who has to talk herself down from the ledge and leave her husband for a little bit so that she's not unnecessarily mean or hurtful to him.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad