Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Being Stubborn, And Angry

Last night, I came home from the gym with intentions of making a smoothie.
It was going to be kale, spinach, a peach, a couple of strawberries, a banana, and a touch of orange juice.

But, it never happened.
Because the smoke detector chirped.

Michael said something to the effect, "Oh, I need to call your dad to come change that battery."

I put the kale back in the fridge.
I thought, "What? You think I can't change a battery?"

I get the step ladder out of the garage.
I manage to get the old battery out.
I put a new one in.
I heard chirping.
I tried to open the smoke detector back up, thinking maybe I put the battery in backwards, because I wasn't tall enough to actually see what I was doing.
It won't open.
I punched it.
It started hanging by a cord.
I smashed it into the ceiling.
It fell.
I picked it up and threw it across the laundry room.
It chirped.
I forced it open, turned the battery around, and put it back on the ceiling, thinking I had won.
It chirped.

At this point, I was so angry, out of time, and I had to abandon the mission and get ready for work.
I was FULL OF RAGE I'm telling you!
I had to turn on the praise music for my shower, because I seriously wanted to break some glass or punch something.

Why do I do this?
Why must I be so stubborn?
Why do I hate to ask for help, or directions, or admit that I don't know how to do every and anything?
I'm such a MAN.

This morning, when I got home from work, it chirped.
That stupid smoke detector beat me.

What I hate the most?
Michael was right.
We do need to call my Dad.

I'm thankful we live in the same city, and my Dad is cool with being perpetually on call for house fixing type things, and I pay him in whole bean coffee. But still, I do hate it. I hate asking for help. I hate needing help.

This is the number one thing I think I would struggle with, if the roles were reversed, and I was the paralyzed one.

I'm so hard headed. I would probably end up on the floor every day, trying to do something my own stubborn way, instead of the smart way - just asking someone else to help me for a second.

Now... my Michael has his moments...
Like last week, when he volunteered to feed the cat.
Brokaw came to the rescue, though - happily abandoning his stuffed elephant.

Where Michael is a million times better than me is... he RARELY loses his cool. There are so many ways I wish he would hurry up and rub off on me!

Chirping smoke detectors, cat food all over the floor... yeah, we're a real inspiration over here! Haha.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


We've reached the days of my brother's girlfriend's pregnancy where we are all sleeping with one eye open, constantly checking for missed calls and text messages.

Baby Caplin Warren Brown could come any day now.

I'm so happy.
I can't wait to see my little brother become a dad.

But I would be lying to you if I said it doesn't sting.
Because it does.

Michael and I have been very open about our challenges in the baby-making department. Heck, we even went on national television to talk about it!

Well guess what? It still hasn't happened.
We really need to get down to the business of trying.
And we plan to do that by the end of the year.
So, it's no surprise that it hasn't happened.
But, it still stings.

I cried my eyes out when I found out that my brother was going to have a baby. I'll never forget it.
I was in the middle of an interview for a story about a non-profit decorating veterans' homes for Christmas. Chris called twice. I ignored the calls, then he sent me a text message.

"I'm having a baby."

I took a deep breath, turned my phone over in my lap, and continued with the interview.

I got in my SUV, texted him back congratulations, called my mom and cried, and pulled into the parking lot of a Starbucks, so I wasn't driving and crying.

I didn't actually go in and get anything, though. Isn't that funny? I just sat in the parking lot, crying, and fogging up the windows.

For about a week, I was so mad at God. How could this be happening? Why can't I make my mom a grandmother? Friends and family, and Michael comforted me.

Life went on.
Chris and Brandy came to visit and we went on the White House Holiday Tour.

He left to go overseas for his work.
I interviewed for, and accepted a new job.
Moved back home.
Did the TV show.
Found out that we WILL be able to have a baby, one way or another, one day.
Work consumed me.
I started working out, I've lost almost 30 pounds.

I was there as Brandy cut the cake and Chris watched via FaceTime to find out that little bump was a BABY BOY.
I have prayed and prayed for this child.
I was there as Brandy opened a million gifts at her baby shower, and I cried when her friend read a line from Chris during a game about making my mom a grandmother.
It's been a season of joy and anticipation.
This little CWB is so loved, already.

Now - if he will only come out and join us... so the real spoiling can begin!
Isn't he cute?

In the last week or so, I've been doubled over, feeling so sad that it's not my turn. And I hate that, but I admit it - it's the truth.

Look - let me be clear. I love my brother. I absolutely love Brandy. I know she is a great mother, and that he will be a great father, and I can't wait for the new life that baby CWB will add to our family.

I don't mean to make this all about me.
But this is my blog.
And I can't help but be real here.
That's why this thing exists.

I know I have more praying to do.
Because when I hold Caplin, and I look into his squinty little newborn eyes, I want pure joy. Pure love. Pure proud aunt vibes.

I don't want the sting.
I don't want the disappointment.
This is not his fault.
Or anyone else's.
He is exactly who and whose he is supposed to be.

This is my battle.
This is my journey.
And one day - it will be my turn.

One day, everywhere I look, there won't be pregnant women everywhere I turn and royal babies and ads on Facebook asking me if I'm about to be a mom.

Or maybe there will be, but I will be one of them, so I will escape the sting.

I don't know.

It's going to be a big week.
And I want it to all be good.

So, I sleep with one eye open.
I pray.
And we all wait with great anticipation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Husband Covers News Story for Wife

Dana sent me a message of breaking police story in our neighborhood. So I went to check it out. 

I made it as the cops were towing away a car. Thought I'd missed it. Then saw a roadblock. Turns out there was a standoff. 

Things that happen when you marry a TVNews producer. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Family Visit

We had a great visit with my brother and his little kids. 

We took in a Norfolk Tides game. 

Went to the beach. 

And went up on Mount Trashmore to fly some kites. 

It's so nice living in Virginia Beach close to our family. And just look at those little dudes!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Semi-Normal Marriage in a Fish Bowl

Recently we received a pseudonymous comment in response to Dana's candid admission, I wonder if I can do this forever. The reader identified himself as a C5 quadriplegic. This is a level just higher than mine with generally a  little less functional ability. He was rather curt and unfairly characterized Dana's post as narcissistic and derided her for not accepting help, using a mechanical lift, and not using a hospital bed. He further went on to chide her emotionally.

I want to respond.

From the start Dana and I have not defined our lives by my disability. In fact, for almost twenty years I have lived a fairly normal life despite it. From high school, my focus was never my disability or overcoming it, but being part of my community. Sure it was always tough. I simply can't do certain things or require help. If I can't afford some adaptive device I get by. My interests never revolved around my disability.

Dana and I fell in love over many years of correspondence. As we grew up we realized how many interests we share. Furthermore we admire each other. Beyond physical chemistry, we admire each other's character. It wasn't pity that brought us together. Far from it.

So, a few months into our marriage our mutual determination met crashing headlong into the wall of disability. We both faced all of the real limitations together. For the first time I saw how my disability immediately affected someone I loved with all of my soul. Dana was crushed and went spiraling into despair. She sought help and reached a gracious and wonderful professional who walked us through those difficult days of grief.

We began to recover. Our lives remained fairly normal, but my disability still raised its head in the most obtrusive moments: on a date, during Dana's big interview, at church, over holidays. We were always at its mercy. We were helpless. We just wanted normal.

Then Dana shared an open and honest post about her struggles on her blog ("The Painful (Naked) Truth"). For years it had been stories about her career, friends, and Brokaw (her puggle). It was the genuine and raw posts that resonated with others. All of a sudden spouses and other caregivers and many others from around the country responded with gratitude for her willingness to write what they had felt and encouragement to go on.

Without intention her vulnerability had sparked a fire greater than either of us imagined. We honestly considered whether to really share our pain, but as we drew back the curtain, readers responded with heartfelt appreciation and continued encouragement. Dana learned how to actually reach people through social media. People continued tuning in to our story.

A network of caregiver spouses sprung up among our readers. Dana made remarkable friendships with couples around the world. As she traveled for work, readers wanted to meet with her. We met a family at Walter Reed who touched our souls and reminded us of the plight for wounded warriors. She wrote a little book. We got a casting call to share our story on a TV show.

All we wanted was a normal, or semi-normal, marriage. Within a few months we were at our wits' end. Family, friends, a professional therapist, church weren't our answer. The missing piece was this blog and this community. This is our calling. This is our ministry. We live in a fish bowl because sharing our battles helps others -- who believe they are alone, that they are horrible because they hate this life with disabilities sometimes, that they just can't hold on to their marriage -- find a moment of hope.

So, MrSCItruth, my wife is far from some narcissistic person obsessed on her benevolence. She is a brave and caring woman who faces every day the limits of her human strength and selfish desires, laying them down for her helpless husband whom she loves. She does all of this in the open so other caregivers can hear a sympathetic voice and guys like you and I can understand their plight.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:3, Holy Bible, New International Version

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Wonder If I Can Do This Forever

Warning: If you have a high opinion of me, you may no longer have that by the time you get to the bottom of this post.

I worry sometimes that I won't be able to do this forever.

There, I said it.
Maybe it's brave to admit that, I don't know.
I do know that it's scary.

Last Friday, when I was leaving work, the sun was shining so bright. I had planned on going grocery shopping, but the sun was calling my name.

I called Michael, "You want to go to the beach?" He told me he was wearing jeans. Translation: That would mean I'd have to transfer him to the bed, change him from jeans to shorts, transfer him back to his wheelchair. Eh, I didn't want to go to the beach that bad.

So, I did the responsible thing, I went to the grocery store. I came home. He was exhausted, so I got him in bed, then I got in bed, and we slept. Saturday morning, I woke up sad. But, I went to Crossfit, and the day got better.

Wednesday night, I didn't have to work because that was July 4th for me. On my way home from work Wednesday morning, the sun was shining. So, I call Michael, "You want to go to the beach?" He told me he was wearing jeans. I cried in the car. I miss being spontaneous. I wish my back didn't hurt, and that I had endless, boundless energy and/or I didn't have to do those transfers. So, I did the responsible thing, I took the SUV to Jiffy Lube and got the oil changed and the tires rotated. I came home, and we went to bed.

That night, we woke up, I got him up. Made dinner. We ate. I watched two episodes of Dateline, then I was tired, so I figured I'd listen to my body and take a little nap. I woke up 8 hours later.

I made plans to hang out and ride bikes with a good friend that I haven't seen in a long time - for Friday morning. I was really looking forward to that.

Thursday night, I come downstairs to get meals ready and head to work, Michael is wearing shorts. "I'm ready for the beach," he says. My heart sinks. Oh, yeah. So, I send a message and cancel plans with my friend. She understands, of course, and we set that up for next Friday morning.

I fix meals, make sure he has everything he needs for the night, then when I'm pulling out of the driveway on my way to work - I cry my eyes out.

Sometimes I feel suffocated. The guilt is the absolute worst. It sucks that I have to do extra stuff for him. But it sucks majorly worse when I don't want to do those things, because that makes me feel like a horrible person.

Then, I spiral out of control. And here come the negative thoughts: What am I doing? Why am I doing this? It could be so much easier. It should be so much easier. I hate this. This isn't fair. I want a break. I deserve a break. Wait, no I don't. I love him. This is worth it. He would do it for me with a smile on his face. Why am I such a jerk? Why am I happy one second, and devastated the next? I'm crazy. I'm tired. Tired of it all. No one knows how I feel. I want to go to sleep. I want to keep driving. I need to pull it together. God, are you listening? I'm jealous. I feel awful. I should want to hang out with him. But it's so much work and I don't want to do anything extra. I'm tired of it all. I can't do this forever. What have I gotten myself in to? I'm not strong enough. I'm certainly not sweet enough. I can't do this. Someone else could do way better at this than me. I miss the simple life. I need a break. Ok, I'm at work now. I need to focus.

My commute to work is about 15 minutes, and this was all done in tears, listening to the Nashville soundtrack.

Work was fine. It's a great distraction, because I love work.
I didn't want to come home Friday morning. My emotions were all over the place.

Yay! We were going to go to the beach. My ultimate favorite thing to do. I absolutely love everything about the beach. Boo! I have to do all those little extra things that come with having a quadriplegic husband and taking him to the beach, and making sure he doesn't get too hot, and making sure there is parking, and not being able to go down to the water to lay out because the planked walkways only go so far in that particular spot.

I was battling in my head the whole time we were at Whole Foods getting lunch, and getting to the beach. My plan was to get him all set up with water, sunscreen, his Kindle, etc. then I could sit down. By the time I sat down in my beach chair, I was a mess. Tears leaked from behind my big sunglasses.

And he came to my rescue. I didn't deserve it. I was being bitter and nasty and pushing him away, but he held my hand, stroked my hair, and promised me that it would be okay. He gets tired of it all and wonders if he can do it forever too. He promised me that we can. That we can do this forever. That we love each other deeply.

He read me quotes from a book he is reading like this:

"The moment you accepted [him] as your husband he became God's choice for you." (Roanoke, Angie Hunt)

"Love is a decision, my dear, and today you have both made it. Trust God to do the rest." (Roanoke, Angie Hunt)

And just like that, the tide turned. Deep breath.
We are going to be okay. No, it's not easy. But, I can do this. One day at a time, right?
And it was a good day. The breeze was perfect at the beach, so he didn't get too hot. I napped in my beach chair. He took a walk and I had a little bit of quiet, alone time. I went down to the ocean by myself, and dipped my toes in the cool water.

We came home, realized we forgot to pick up his prescription, and he hoofed it up to Wallgreens to get it himself. Because that's the kind of guy he is.

Oh, this life I lead. It is an interesting experience, to put it lightly. He is the source of my worry, my fear, my exhaustion. But without him, there's no way I could endure all of it. It's crazy to think of it like that, but it's so true.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cute Clothes That Come To You

I don't know about y'all, but I have reached that place in life where I am pseudo too old to shop in the juniors' section, but I'm not quite ready for the shoulder pads and collars in the women's section.

I don't claim to be a fashion expert.

I'm the kind of girl who finds formulas, and follows them. You know what I mean?

A few years ago, I discovered that the pants (short, of course) at The Limited fit me. So, every time they have a pair of black pants in my size on the clearance rack, I buy them. Now I have like four pairs in three different sizes, and I think that's awesome.

Pretty much all Winter, I wear something + those black pants. 

I like to wear colors, so I wear colorful tops, or throw a chunky colorful necklace in. That's what works for me. 
In the Summer, I like to wear dresses.

And, I used to love shoes but my back pain issue killed that love, so now I keep it really simple with shoes.

My favorite places to shop are generally Target, Loft, The Limited and TJ Maxx. I rarely branch out. I love clearance sales, and when I was single I shopped nearly every weekend but now shopping for clothes is not a regular part of my lifestyle. Shopping for groceries and toilet paper and dog food is, that is so glamorous.


I have discovered something GENIUS.
I saw a blogging friend talking about it on Facebook, so I figured I'd give it a try.

It's called Stitch Fix, and here's how it works:
You go online, put in your sizes, body type and fill out a style profile. Basically, they show you pictures of different looks, and you say whether or not you like those looks.

You pay a $20 sytling fee, and pick a date that you want your Stitch Fix to arrive.
Then, on that day, a box of clothes arrives on your doorstep! It's like Christmas!

You open it, try the stuff on, decide what you want to keep, then go online and check out. They'll charge whatever you decide to keep to your credit card. Whatever you don't want, you just send back to them in the already-provided pre-paid envelope.
Told you, it's genius.
These people are smart and stylish, and they think of everything for you, so you end up looking fabulous without even trying.

A couple of notes:

-What you get in your box is up to you. You can tell them you want them to focus on tops, pants, dressy stuff, accessories, you name it.

-You pick your price point. I will tell you, as someone who pretty much shops on the clearance racks, it is more expensive than clearance racks. BUT, remember what you're getting - expert styling advice, and they are doing the shopping for you! So, I consider it totally worth it.

-If you don't want to keep anything in your box, you are out the $20 styling fee. But, if you buy anything, that $20 goes toward your purchase. Also - if you buy the entire box, you get a discount.

I've had three fixes, and twice I've kept every single thing in the box.

I love that I get things I never would have tried on in a store, but they actually fit me and look good!

I also love that each piece comes with a tag with two ideas of how to wear it. Help for people who need help or they fall in a rut, like me.
So - if you're like me, you need help in the fashion department and you don't have time to shop, I suggest you give Stitch Fix a try.

If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask me!

Note: I was not paid for this post, however, the links to Stitch Fix are my affiliate links, so if you buy something using that link, I get a discount on my next Fix, and I will love you forever, because I do need some new clothes. :)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

On Running From Writing

Obligatory cute picture of Brokaw, with measuring spoons, of course. 

At the end of January, we packed up our apartment just outside of DC, and moved about three hours south - to Virginia Beach. This is my home town. I can drive around without a GPS, and my memory comes alive because there are so many local landmarks that bring back childhood times, high school times, and all that.

Our entire lives have changed.

My new job is in local TV news - at a station where I worked about 10 years ago, as a young producer. Now, I'm back as an Executive Producer - which is a management position. It's been more difficult (and rewarding) than I imagined, getting acclimated.  But, I feel like I'm coming into my own, and I love it!

I've mentioned before that I work an overnight schedule. I go in at 11pm and come home around 9am. Michael is on this same schedule. We go to sleep around 11am and get up around 6pm. It is not natural, but we have our groove.

If that wasn't enough going on in the last few months - we went on national television, and wrote an eBook.

I've gotten really into working out and eating healthy, and all of that takes time.

So - dear blog,

Know this.
It's not that I don't think of you often, or have a list of posts I want to crank out.
I spend every Sunday night answering e-mails from readers and catching up on Facebook messages.

I am committed to this community.

I wish I didn't have to ever sleep, but I do. It seems like such a waste of time.

There are some days when I wish all I had to do was CrossFit and Blogging. But - cooking, cleaning, and earning a paycheck aren't necessarily optional.

I'm pretty much a freelance writing dropout, at this point.
And that book I dreamed of writing - the one I got really committed to when I went to Allume last year - it's so far back on the back burner, I think it's in the freezer.

But, I know there are seasons of life.
And I'm trying to get rid of this not-writing guilt.

I feel like y'all understand that I'm busy, that I'm focused on getting healthy, and we're all in touch all the time on Facebook, so it's not like I'm unreachable.

But it's more than self-imposed guilt - which I hold a degree in, by the way.
This is an obedience issue.
I feel God tugging at my heart - telling me to write, reminding me that He gave me the words to connect with so many of you.

So, I'm sorry.
I apologize for running from it.

Writing is a raw emotional experience for me.
It's healing - but it also exposes things that hurt sometimes, and being vulnerable like that is scary.

Pray for me that I will discover the time.