Friday, May 22, 2015

Dr. Lettieri

So much has happened since I last posted.  May is almost over, I never go this long without blogging.  This has been such a great way for me to release some of my frustrations, express my appreciation from my heart and share the humor in my life.

I have a surgeon.  I love, love, love. Dr. Sal Lettieri.  I was referred to him by Heather a year ago, but since he was out of the country at the time we decided to go to Cleveland Clinic (huge mistake) I haven't heard from Cleveland Clinic since I had my surgery in July of last year.  I realize I should have waited and seen Dr. Lettieri.  He is employed by Mayo Clinic, works at the Maricopa Burn Center in Phoenix and does 2 days a week at Mayo.....whew that was a mouth full.  How do I explain Dr. Lettieri, and why I love him......?  He is compassionate with a little bit of sassy in his attitude.  I just really feel comfortable with him.  Dr. Lettieri did my last surgery at Mayo Clinic.  He is very confident in what he does.  There is a huge difference in doctors who are confident and those that are cocky. My doctor at Cleveland was very cocky and arrogant, I never felt comfortable with him or felt  he had my best interest at heart.  I was so impressed with Dr. Lettieri one day at one of my appointments.  He was telling me what he thought would be the best surgery for me, then instead of making the decision he said "I know some really smart surgeons, I'm going to call one of them and get their opinion" he pulled out his 'flip phone' (seriously who still has those?) called a colleague  gave him my diagnosis and asked him what he would do.... the other surgeon agreed with his decision, he hung up and said "In my job I know some really, really smart people, so I'm going to get one more opinion" and he did, he called another surgeon he knew just to make sure they all thought it was the proper procedure.....I loved him at that moment, not too many doctors do that in fact no doctor I know has ever done that for me.....confident vs. cocky......he's confident.  Last week I got a text from him saying "call me when you can"  I was at work on a break so I called him.  This is what he said "I've been thinking about your surgery and......." he proceeds to tell me about a change in the procedure of my surgery, ...... I interrupted him and said "I trust you, I don't really understand any of what your telling me anyway so just do what you know is best for me" It finally feels really great to have a surgeon I can trust.  I have thought about him so many times since then, what it said to me was he was thinking about me.  He has many patients, and I guarantee he has their best interest at heart. I found out that he is Nie Nie's Dr. L, on her blog.

My last appointment with Dr. Lettieri was good news.  The nerve replacement he did from my leg to my face is supposed to grow an inch a month.  February was my last surgery, so it should have grown 3 inches.  He checks this by tapping on the left side of my face to see where I feel it on my face.  When he did that, I instantly felt it on the upper right side of my lip....HOORAY....stand up and do a jiggle's working.  I cried on the way home, I'm so happy.  So, what does that mean?  It means in 3 more months if it continues to grow I will have another big surgery to connect it to a viable muscle, or was it a nerve....? I don't know, it gets connected to one of those on the right side.  It doesn't really change the look of my face, but it gives me some feeling back.  Right now my face is still so numb.  The entire right side of my upper lip feels like when you go to the dentist and get novocaine..... Dr. Lettieri, was really happy with the results.

My eye continues to be an issue, it constantly drips.  Basically the surgery Dr. Cockyman did at the Cleveland Clinic was a waste of time. I have a hard time seeing out of my right eye. By the time I leave work at UsAirways it is a constant drip and never goes away.  Dr. Lettieri and Heather had me do some exercises with my eyes to see what the issues were.  I will be having surgery at the Mayo Clinic on June 24th, hopefully to put an end to the eye dripping and redness.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Price of Beauty

I was recently at a training in Canada, as I religiously took notes I suddenly was struck with shock when I heard Mark (the trainer) tell a story about how much women pay for their beauty products.  I heard laughing from the audience, but I was in another world.  I was having an outer body experience. What is the price we pay for beauty?  I'm not talking about a monetary price, as Mark was humorously entertaining us with.
I had an ah ha moment, I wrote:   Mark said "believe me guys, there is a price for beauty...."
I immediately wrote down "For me, what I have learned about beauty from Nerium this past year is Priceless" My face is disfigured, it will never be the same.  I want that so badly, I want to look at someone and smile, smile BIG.  I want to show my teeth.  I can't believe I took my smile for granted.  Just like I took my hair for granted, the feeling in breasts for granted, being able to run and train for granted, I could go on and on..... I simply took everything in life for granted.
I cannot honestly say any of this is understandable, nor has it been easy.  I may not always please people with my honesty and truthfulness, however I know the Lord has gotten me through these past few years.  I have been refined, not defined by Him who loves me just as I am.  In my quiet time, when I spend thinking and pondering over why so much in my life has been hard there have been times I've truly wanted to crawl in a hole and die--I've wondered if anyone would even miss me, lost sometimes in despair.
Then suddenly my heart is filled with more love and an overwhelming feeling of His arms around me, pulling me up through that dark and empty hole into the light again.
I lived for so long not caring about others, not caring even about where I was going or where I should be.  I now know my life was intentionally and most humbly prepared for me before I even came to earth.  His grace has gotten me through enormously unbelievable circumstances.  Because I know He has made promises to me if I am righteous and obedient I will continue trying to live as He wants me to.  I will share Hope and Faith with others, I know the Lord will use me, he will lead and guide me to people who are in need.  This life for me is no longer about beauty on the outside, I ask Him to help me not turn from pain and to give me strength and compassion to help others who are climbing an uphill battle.
We all want to feel beautiful, external beauty, I know this because I have been that person.  There are still glimpses I take in the mirror that horrify me.  When I am weak, I know I have to move forward, never go back, never give up.  I am putting all my faith in unseen strong hands that I have felt comfort me and pull me to a higher ground.  I love that feeling, knowing He is watching over me, He knows me, He feels my pain and He understands my journey on this earth is not quite over.
Physically I am tired, my body aches my heart is full and yet I want to fight because I know there are so many more miracles to come to others from Him through me.  I don't feel comfortable sharing those sacred moments the Lord has so gracefully revealed to me I have more work to do before it is my time to go live with Him again.  He has lifted my burdens on so many occasions when I have wanted to give up.  When Sheldon died, one of those special moments came.  I truly miss him, and visit his graveside often. I'm not sure why, I haven't visited anyone's grave as much as his but I feel a peace there. I will never forget him telling me I looked beautiful when I was bald.  Eric tells me I'm beautiful everyday, he is so kind in that way and I appreciate it so much, but the day Sheldon said those words to me, it meant something different.  He stood there pale faced and bald himself and yet for some reason those words penetrated my heart like no one else ever has. Maybe because I trusted he knew how I was feeling, not just using "words" to succor the needy.
Every bit of the worlds definition of physical beauty has been taken from me.  So yes, there is a price to pay for physical beauty, but for me what I have learned about pure unconditional love and beauty in His eyes is priceless.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Have Courage and Be Kind

What an unbelievable week I've enjoyed.  I was asked by Renee Olson (Chief Leadership Officer for Nerium International), to speak at Nerium's semi annual national convention.  It was held at the SAP center in San Jose, a sold out crowd with thousands of people. I was hesitant in actually following through with this great honor.  I am so transparent in so much of what I do, but often do not allow other's to see the delicate, emotional roller coaster I've endured. The ache's have been real for me. The weight of this responsibility became so heavy, knowing my face would be on huge jumbo screens for all to see,  gave me tremendous anxiety. This past year there have been times I've just wanted to hide. Hearing the reality of an innocent child ask their parent "mom, what's wrong with that ladies face?" has been difficult to process, usually I reply before the mother or father has a chance "I just have a boo boo" the parents usually apologize and walk off, saying they are sorry.  That is my reality, that has been my life for a year now.  I realize no one can truly understand what I am feeling, so I usually just say "I'm fine"  when truly my heart is weak, struggling to be brave and strong. Just when I've started to heal and feel like life is taking a turn, another trial comes.  I was so amazed while I poured out all my feelings, I felt loved. I prayed for the right words to say. I felt this peace come over me before I went out on stage.  I really opened up and let Him guide me.  I could not read my notes, I resisted putting on my glasses to read them, I had to condense 5 and a half years into 10 minutes--I knew there was no way I could convey all the emotions we've lived through in that amount of time. I decided before I went out, I would meet Him where he needed me to be and that maybe in someway this would bring me full circle and heal my insecurities.  This experience helped me to be one step closer to being whole again.  I prayed that whatever I said would touch at least one person and help them to understand that at times we all feel broken in some way or another, but not giving up is the secret power we all have inside of us. We all want to feel valued and important, I've learned this through living it personally.

For those who have followed my blog, I don't really talk much about Nerium because I didn't want my blog to turn into a platform for advertising.  This is a sacred place where I go to get away from the world, I am alone and listen to uplifting music when I write.  I've always wanted this to be an authentic reality of who I am.  This is a place my children will be able to go long after I am gone to laugh, cry and remember who their mom was.  With that being said, I do have to add I know without a doubt Heavenly Father led me to this incredible company.  I was not looking for anything,  still involved heavily in health issues.  The confirmation I felt when I said yes to Nerium was so overwhelming at the time I didn't know why. Now I do, within a few months of joining with my friends, my facial paralysis happened.  If it was not for the self development I've gained from living in the culture of the Nerium Family, I don't think I could have made it through this past year.  I highly recommend to anyone READ THE SLIGHT EDGE by Jeff Olson.  It has nothing to do with Nerium, it has to do with a philosophy of life.  Even through my breast cancer journey, losing my hair, my uterus and both breasts I still felt I was ok. My perspective on life became apparently changed, I learned that nothing in life is worth anger, hate or malice.  Seeing the world through different eyes lightened my heart and soul.

The Villain had taken from me everything that the world defines as "feminine" it was difficult to process, and I relied on the Lord to get me through it. However, when the facial paralysis came and a doctor said to me "Your face will never be the same again" those words penetrated deep into my mind.  I cried, my husband cried for me.  I was depressed and sad, I took so much of it out on my family, and never wanted to be seen in public again.  It has been a slow process and one that I cannot say I have fully conquered, but I can honestly say without hesitation no where, except for my church congregation and family, have I felt true unconditional love, like I have with the Nerium family.  Jeff Olson has taught me true happiness begins from the inside and manifests itself to others when you are genuine with thoughts and feelings of yourself. Success is not a car, or a home.  So many people think "well when I lose weight, or I get a new job, or I blah blah blah......I will be happy"  Nothing can be further from he truth, being authentic and happy with yourself under any circumstance is what success is, it's what attracts people to you and it is what helped me to live through this year.  Be patient with me I'm still under construction.
Speaking in front of a sold out stadium--ummm..kinda overwhelming
I had to lean on the spirit and speak from the heart.

Nerium and CEO Jeff Olson know how to throw a
white party--so much fun
It's was badge of courage and bravery for me to expose myself to such a large group of people.  Over the past few weeks as I traced the steps of where I've been,  it was overwhelming even to myself to process my journey.  I have wrestled with shame and discouragement, feeling as if I have let people down.  I've wondered at times if my own children are disappointed in me. This life changing alteration in my life has really brought me to my knees.  Starting anything is always hard, a diet, an exercise program, a new job and even a new life.  Trusting in myself to fight through this last year has been empowering. It's been worth the sorrow and pain I've felt and feel.  As I give up my pride and begin to give in to the fact, this is the life I am intended to live, I'm beginning to believe I can move mountains. I have felt the changes inside of me. I'm beginning to realize I'm me because of where I've been and the experiences I've enjoyed and endured.

When Sheldon died, I wanted to give in and give up, now I see the Lord has been waiting for me to do my part.  To fulfill a promise. I'm finally beginning to understand I don't need all the answers right now. It's never too late to start all over on a path that will move you forward.  Step up to the starting line and run, run as fast as you can, tomorrow may not come. This is the time to love others, share a kind word and be true to yourself you will find the strength to pull yourself out of any situation.  There are days when I have to remind myself of who I am, convince myself once again I have the power within me to be happy. True happiness cannot be given to you, it cannot be bought and it certainly cannot be faked.  When you are completely happy, you live with no regrets, you are at peace with who you are and most of all your spirit illuminates and becomes contagiously beautiful.

Tonight, Eric and I went to see the new version of the animated Disney movie Cinderella. As I watched I was engulfed in the story, so many paralye's to my own life. It  gave me a picture of the unparalleled beauty of courage and kindness in the face of humiliation, suffering, and shame.  I watched thinking sure, Cinderella looks stunning. But it’s not her ball gown or glass slippers that first catch the Prince’s eye.  It’s her inner beauty that captures his attention—her courage and her kindness.  Kindness isn’t weakness; it’s strength. Submission isn’t pitiful; it’s beautiful and courageous.  We all have the power within ourselves to make our lives happy, it is a CHOICE.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hilary Weeks my new BFF

Lunch with Hilary-��

A few months ago, Hilary Weeks emailed me to set up a time for us to meet and go to lunch.  With so much going on it was difficult to make that happen until now.

Everyone knows I fly for free, so I got on a plane flew to Utah stayed with one of my oldest and dearest friends Teri Padovich.  We had so much fun catching up, laughing, actually laughing a lot.  We talked a lot. We haven't seen each other for so long.  I was a little worried about her reaction to my face.  She didn't skip a beat, we hugged and off we went.  It was like old times, I really needed this time away from Arizona.

While Teri was working I met Hilary for lunch, good thing I knew what she looked like, because we hadn't at that point exchanged phone numbers.  I just knew I was supposed to meet her in Harvest restaurant at Thanksgiving Point.  I immediately recognized her and apologized for being late, those darn GPS's don't always give out the correct directions.

I have to say, meeting Hilary was wonderful for me, what a rey of light she gives out.  Her spirit is inspirational, I could feel her sincerity.  It's rare to find people you can truly connect with on a spiritual level.  It felt like we'd been friends forever, she is beautiful inside and out.  Just as I love the Live Happy campaign, Hilary has her own called Live Positive.  If you haven't gotten the app on your phone you are truly missing out.  Keep track of happy thoughts,  type journal entries, make goals and earn inspirational quotes.  You can even form groups of people to do it with.

I loved talking with Hilary, she has 4 daughters, met her husband while he was on his mission in Alaska --she thought Elder Weeks was pretty cute, and pretty inspirational himself.  A few years later she was walking on the BYU campus when she saw him for the 1st time since Alaska.  She said she yelled "Elder Weeks" he turned, saw her, ditched his friends and the rest is history. I love her music, I've heard her speak and for so many reasons my heart has been drawn to her.  Now I know why.  She is so positive, loves her family and has a burning desire to make the world a better place.

After lunch we exchanged phone numbers, and to my surprise she text me and invited me to attend the Women's broadcast with her and 3 of her daughters.  Teri dropped me off at Hilary's house I met her daughter's and her husband (Elder Weeks) what a great family.
I love these cute girls....❤️��

Sitting the woman's broadcast with Hilary and her girl's was so fun. When it came time to sing, my natural instinct was to pick up the hymn book and sing....all of a sudden I realized I am sitting next to Hilary Weeks.  Her music has inspired me and helped me through some incredibly rough times...this was really surreal. I wanted to close my eyes and just listen to her voice sing to me. Janice Kapp Perry also in the congregation--I was surrounded by inspiration.

 Of course I wished my daughter's could have been with us too.  I am an avid note taker. I have stacks of journals and note pads full of the notes I have taken from special talks and thoughts I spontaneously have while visiting Mayo Clinic.  Some of the most important life's lessons I've learned are written down and journaled.  I sometimes go back and review them and often I am so surprised at the words I have written.  How easy it is sometimes to forget the lessons we learn at poignant times of our life. I'm so grateful for having those detailed memories to look back on. This visit with Hilary and her family will always be one of those memories.  The Lord has truly blessed me with good people in my life.  Hilary and I will be forever friends now.  
This is truly a beautiful woman inside and out.

Notes from Conference 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#HappyActs 365 days

Whoa----I pushed myself today, but I've never felt more gratified.  365 days ago, when I found out about the International Day of Happiness--I was incredibly touched in a spiritually humble way.  I made a choice that day, I was going to do 365 days of Happy Acts and see if it would change my life in any way at all.  I began by writing everything I did in a private calendar.  Then I got a planner and made it an intentional goal for my everyday personal growth.  I had to be intentional with my thoughts, but not intentional with my actual act of kindness. I let those come naturally but looked for ways I could help another person.  After 6 weeks of doing it everyday, I was put into the hospital for 3 weeks, still I was able to follow through with those acts, they were on my mind constantly.  I became obsessed with overcoming obstacles and achieving this goal.  2 Weeks at Mayo Clinic, I came up with ways to help nurses or doctors out--sometimes just by thanking them using their name, and sincerely getting to know them. Smiles, special notes and gratitude were my best friends. I handed out Live Happy Magazines to everyone I could. Then I went to Cleveland Clinic for 7 weeks.  This time I went prepared, not knowing what the circumstances would be--I was still able to give thanks, and share happiness. In the past year I was blessed with 8 surgeries to help save my life.  What better way to say thank you?  These are people who loved, cared and helped me through some tough times....Diana Lents I will forever be grateful for, Angel and John were constantly giving me #HappyActs. Evgenya and Alex Kreymerman visiting me and showing #HappyActs was a huge surprise, but so much needed during that time when I had no family with me.

March 20th, 2014--- from this day forward I will give at least one act of kindness a day, and I promise to do this for 365 days.

Today March 20th, 2015---✔ I did it....
I can't even explain the overwhelming feeling of such an achievement and what it did to change me from the inside out.  I can honestly say, I am a different person now than I was a year ago.  I'm not talking about the facial paralysis, I made this goal before that happened.  My motivation behind this goal was to see how many people I could touch. Turns out the Lord had a different motivation in mind when he lead me down this path.  He wanted me to see how achieving this goal would change and help me.

THESE  people give unselfishly everyday as they
work at Mayo Hospital--5 and a half years with them
You know if you read my blog I like to visit the chemo lab
and always take Holiday Treats for them to enjoy during
March and April before Easter...lots of tears today

Today as I drove the long freeway to Mayo Clinic, I pulled over to the side of the road, cried some tears of joy and actually said a prayer of thanks for helping me achieve this incredible goal.  I actually start goals and give up, but not this time.  It was certainly not for glory, or to boast in anyway. I wish I could post every act of kindness I did, however for a couple reasons I will not:
1. HIPAA laws and the privacy of some acts that are too sacred to share.
2.  Heavenly Father and I may be the only ones who will ever know the change these people made in my life.

At the end of the day, trying to change one life at a time, will hopefully help others to feel what I've felt this year.  These people have made an indent in my heart that will never ever be removed.  Most of these people will never know the difference they've made in my life--some of them are my hero's as I watched them struggle with different trials.  I was placed in some places at the right time for a reason--I am so eternally grateful for those times-- This year I found out how strong I am, who I am, what I can achieve and most importantly that because I intentionally found these people, I was then able to find myself,  I like what I found--for the 1st time in my life nothing can hold me back from being BRAVE--I've let it define me.  Today I realized while I was having that tender moment on the side of the road, I'm OK with me. I'm no longer afraid to open the door to a me I've never seen before, and I know on those days when the walls seem to high to climb Heaven is on my side.  I'm ready to let nothing hold me back from what I feel inside of me-- I will be forever be grateful to Jeff Olson for going before the United Nations and officially making March 20th the International Day of Happiness. I had the opportunity to meet Kym Yancey,  CEO of the Live Happy Magazine he is a wonderful man, with a love for his family and for spreading happiness--I will never forget my interview with him.  Good people, attract good people--don't we all want good people in our lives?
Happiness is part of who I am now, I look forward to inviting more blessings not only into my life but to give to others--365 days of Happiness.

I bought a couple extra Happy Tee's to give out to random

Two of my grandson's, bought them Oreo's and Kool-Aid
something their mom doesn't buy them.  good thing for
grandma's to bring a treat every once in a while
instead of the apples and bananas #HappyActs

One of the Happiness Walls from today--love when parents
participate and encourage their children. What a great
Dad--no hesitation at all.

I made a decision to go to a gas station in an area
where I knew people struggle financially.  I sat and waited
I felt it with my heart, she was the one....sure enough
zero gas and only $10 to her name. I filled her tank...
she was so happy, and the gas attendants didn't
How cute are these sisters? They are going to fill the
buckets of others who need it with their love

Another mom showing her children the value of
Happiness and sharing in their lives

These are elementary school kids, no one helped them
come up with these ways to share happiness..
another tearful moment

Some of the cute notes from one of the boards the
children wrote on

I love these happy people for coming graciously into
my life a year ago.. I love them

For the anniversary of this day, I intentionally made plans.  The two walls of Happiness were so fulfilling, more than I thought they would be.  With the help of Carrie and Lindsay we set up 2 walls at elementary schools.  What a complete gratification to see every student want to participate, to watch parents instead of dropping their children off they got out of their car and walked their children to our wall.  I was so impressed by these sweet children and parents--if our next generation could share love everyday in some small way, we would be raising a new generation of grateful children.

ONE DIFFICULT YEAR--TODAY MADE IT ALL WORTH IT....This was such a rewarding,  fantastic day. Thank you Danny Jones, Elizabeth Decker and Shelli Richardson for never giving up on me.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Enduring ongoing adversity

There are so many differences in all of our lives. Depending on the circumstances, new mothers sometimes feel overwhelmed, fathers feel pressured to take care of families while some struggle with loneliness.  I believe we all  have at least one challenge in common. Dealing with some type of adversity.  I've also realized the reality of those adversities  cannot be compared to each other.  For example; Many years I was dealing with a teenager who was really struggling with some serious issues.  It was heartbreaking to watch, especially knowing if this child would just be obedient life would be so much easier for them. One day I went to visit a friend who was clearly devastate and beside herself in tears. When I inquired what was wrong I was shocked at her answer. She mentioned her daughters name then through her tears explained "She broke a family rule and got her ears pierced, she's only 15, we agreed no ears pierced until the age of 18" Her perspective and her trial was nothing like what we were dealing with, however in her family it was obviously just as heartbreaking. 

There have been periods, sometimes long ones, when my life seem to flow with little difficulty. Unfortunately the nature of our lives gives way to distress,  for me periods of good health have come to an end, and misfortunes have arrived.  It seems to be more difficult  when the comfortable times have gone on for a while. The suffering of health issues or the loss of material security can bring fear and sometimes even anger. I have to be transparent here, and admit I have felt the anger and questioned why?

I realize the  anger comes from a feeling that what is happening is unfair. It came at such a shock. To be blessed with  good health all my life, the serene sense of being secure had become deserved and natural, almost as an arrogant ignorance. After all hadn't I proven my worthiness and loyalty to the Lord? For this health issue to continue now for over 5 years, a feeling of injustice has sometimes come to my mind.  I have considered myself a brave woman yet many times have cried out loud “I have always tried to be good. How could this happen?”

The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of  infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and  be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life.

There is an  aching sometimes for an answer to “How could this happen?” it becomes even more painful when I see others struggling including those I love.  When Recker was diagnosed with Autism I wouldn't say I was devastated, but I was honestly asking "why?"  It was especially hard for us to accept when he was so innocent. Then having our 2nd grandson diagnosed with Autism, I have to be honest it rocked my testimony, hitting my knees continually asking "why, why would you send these spirits to the same patents?" This type of  distress can shake faith in the reality of a loving and all-powerful God. I felt the spirit continually reminding me, the Lord knows all and if I continued without faith doubt could grow and spread it could make me or my children turn away from God, blaming him with the thought of him being indifferent or cruel. I knew I needed to check in with Him daily or  those feelings could lead to loss of faith and question if there was a God at all. Again I found myself asking like I did several months after processing a cancer diagnosis...."why me?" with the comforter conveying to me over and over again I soon asked "why not me?"  It takes time to get that pain to go away, but I can honestly say now "Thank you Lord for blessing us and trusting us with these two little boys" (I am not speaking for Jeremy or Kayla, I'm not sure they are feeling the same.)  What a pure love they have for us and we for them.  

It soon became clear that for me to have trust in Him, I  must be transformed through making righteous choices daily, that is hard to do. I often still wonder  if I am prepared for such a great a trust.  Passing through trials and testing requires a great deal of faith.  I deal with facts and  the education for me could come only as I allowed myself to be subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.

I'm so grateful for this education, as I experience misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin and the joy of forgiveness. I'm convinced that forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear and which I can only faintly comprehend.

It comforts me even to know I must wait in distress for the Savior’s promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help me and others who suffer.  Faith in that power has given me patience as I pray and work and wait for help. He could easily take this all away but He chooses to teach by own personal experience. Just as I need to learn from my own personal experiences.
The Lord’s relentless answers to my pleading  has helped me and has encourage me in times of darkness. Even when I feel the truth of the Lord to deliver me in my trials, it still tests my courage and strength to endure. Lately it feels it will not end, during these times even physical strength is difficult, listening to RS lessons on how to deal with trials and adversity are hard to comprehend.  The comments made are even difficult to hear. (sorry just being honest)

I have seen faith and courage come from my testimony.  I am being prepared for eternal life. The Lord will rescue His faithful children. The child who accepts a trial as an invitation to grow and therefore qualify for eternal life can find peace in the midst of the struggle. This is so much easier to write than actually live through.

I am far from perfect, but I have begun to prepare my heart to be worthy of the Lord. I've had the attitude “Things will work out.” Medical insecurities have not eroded my faith; it has tested it and strengthened it. And the feeling of peace the Lord has promised has already been delivered in the midst of the storm. Other miracles are sure to follow. I expect the miracles to happen, and thank the Lord ahead of time for the miracle that I know is just around the corner.
I watch from a distance how Kayla and Jeremy have embraced the trial they have been faced with.  Recker and Ezra are beautiful loving children, but don't mistake their love and affection with an easy road to take.  From day to day they struggle, not knowing "what is going to happen next?" Those boys are into everything.  Recker and Ezra are both non-verbal so try to imagine their frustration knowing everyone around them can talk.  Their only way of communication is by taking us by the hand and leading us to what they need or want.  I can only translate my feelings as a grandparent, not as the parent who is caring 24 hours, worrying 24 hours.  The special bond these boys have with their cousins and family is unconditional love however, I can't imagine the heaviness on the shoulders of his parents. The responsibility the Lord has given them, is beyond what I can comprehend.  I know that I am on a road to be the best I can be so I can live with these perfect little boys for eternity.

I don't know why but I truly believe the Lord customizes trials to best strengthen and purify us individually.  Often it will come in the inspiration to do what might seem especially hard for the person who needs help himself. The test, and there is always a test, is how we deal with the trial.
 I know from my own experience that He can and will give us strength to rise through every trial. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finding Serenity Now

I know people who were born HAPPY.  Then there are those who struggle most of their lives trying to figure out what happiness is, only to discover it was within them the entire time.  I'm pretty sure I live somewhere between happy and striving to be completely 100% happy.

This past year it's been a struggle for me to find the balance.  When I feel I am lacking in an area where I truly desire to accomplish a  better version of me I tend to study and make goals for myself to help me accomplish that attribute.  No one likes to be around a person who's  downer all the time.  I find myself judging myself harder than anyone else could, so I become exclusive.  The study of true happiness has been an absolute intriguing subject to study.

I began by becoming an ambassador for happiness at it is no cost but keeps me in check with acts of kindness, it's given me ideas of how to service others.  I have struggled with insomnia since my cancer diagnosis.  Researchers have found that people who are happy sleep better, live longer have a larger and more active social network of friends.  They make better bosses, make better decisions and even make more money.  I feel like I just described my sweet husband.  His head hits the pillow and he is gone to dream land--he never talks negative and always looks at the bright side of things.  We introduces me to folks he sold a home to 20-30 years ago, he remembers them, their children, parents etc. Without hesitation they always say "We love your husband, he's the best realtor we have ever dealt with"  I'm pretty sure there are a few passengers at USAirways who would not have that to say about me.

There is a book called The upside of your Dark Side, it was interesting to read as I studied what should be a simple attribute can be so complex.  Maybe we are trying to hard to be happy.  The PhD who helped co write the book suggests that emotions of anger, guilt, anxiety and sadness can be beneficial. Good news for me, I struggle with all of those. Reading it intrigued me even more to find out how he came to that conclusion. He said instead of trying to be happy every waking moment of our day It's all about balance.  It's about finding pleasure in the things we enjoy and learn from the obstacles we need to overcome.  Anyone who knows me well knows the philosophy I have adopted is always about what we learn from the heartache, but honestly I never really thought my struggles with anxiety, guilt or sadness were part of the balance needed to master the attribute of true happiness.  Putting on a happy face 100% of the time is not REAL and ultimately my goal is to be completely true to myself.

If we could all wrap ourselves in bubble wrap as to avoid the difficult but REAL life situations we suffocate ourselves from truly growing into our authentic self; besides it's unrealistic.  Once I realized this it was like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. For me it's about working on what I can control.  It is  scientifically honest and freeing to let go of the burden and pressure to be happy all the time.  In today's world more than ever before people compare themselves to others for approval. Our world has changed, and social networking gives us constant reminders by the amount of "Likes" a person gets or not.  My daughter just recently told me there is a way to buy "Likes" I just about lost my  lunch.  Really? How sad is that? Social media is fun, can help build businesses and keep us caught up on friends and family.  I have many times prayed for people who I would have not known needed it had I not seen it on social media.  It has given us a  great tool for cultivating happiness on a different level. For example a friend of mine Kara Kelly was celebrating her 40th birthday, rather than a physical gift she asked for people to do something nice for someone else that day then hashtag it.  Knowing her this was a genuine request, and I enjoyed do it.  Normally we have been taught to do acts of kindness as an anonymous gift so as to not pat ourselves on the back.  There are times when anonymous gifts are necessary, those are not what I am referring to.

Since studying happiness one of the goals I gave myself was to give at least on act of kindness a day. The genuine joy I have received from doing this has now become second nature to me.  Everyone can do it, but intentionality has to be considered when starting out.  These can or cannot be monetary.  A smile cost nothing, when I lost my smile I had to get a bit more creative (LOL) helping someone put groceries in their car, picking up something from the store for a home bound person, telling someone you like their outfit, or their hair looks good, are all acts of kindness.

All of our emotions serve a purpose, this is why Heavenly Father has blessed us with the ability to feel sad, lonely, angry etc.  The fluctuation of those emotions are what help us to balance out and appreciate the happy moments.  How do you measure your happiness if you have never felt any other emotion?  The idea of happiness is a similar to the wanting to be richer or healthier-- I think the reason why our happiness levels fluctuate from one day to the next or for some hour to hour is because we are all subject to things we cannot control, the traffic, weather how much sleep we are getting.  I know for me when the negative sets in it's because I have set my pedestal for happiness way too high and I feel like I have failed.  Just like Love in our life, we have to let it happen.  You can't MAKE yourslef feel something, and those feelings may change from day to day.

Doing things you enjoy is the best way to replace negative with happiness.  When we allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotions our Heavenly Father has blessed us with, we are happier people.  Being grateful and thanking our Heavenly Father for those emotions is the key to finding true happiness.  I'm working on this right now in my life, I have a long way to go but I'm glad I listened to the spirit tell me there were things about myself I needed to do so that I could quit wasting time and find serenity now.

Friday, March 6, 2015

His Grace

So this will be a really raw post.  REAL life is happening over here in my head.  I keep thinking about the times I begged the Lord to take all my heartaches away, let me feel the sunshine all the time.  I felt I'd done my share of trying and hardship--I should have gotten an A+ on that report card.

Once I'd forgiven those in my life who had truly belittled and hurt me, then took the time to also forgive myself for my shortcomings I felt I had paid the price and I was done. I heard this quote the other day

“When you face adversity, you need to remind yourself that whatever is trying to defeat you could very well be what God will use to promote you.”

The quote struck me so deeply with the spirit, I had to rewind several times to make sure I heard it correctly.  The truth is, I am a strong person, I am sometimes brave but I am very much weak in so many ways.  The death of Sheldon really put so much in perspective for me.  Although he and I had talked about death and the possibilities of leaving so much behind, we also recognized the weakness of this world.  One time we talked about whether or not doctors are as smart as we all seem to think they are.  Never a day goes by that I don't think about Sheldon, what is he doing? The peace he is feeling, no more pain, no more doctors no more shadows to hide under.  I want to find that place.  I find peace so many times in knowing all these sleepless nights and bittersweet feelings I have will all be taken away. I,  of course don't want to have my children or grandchildren to feel the pain of having me gone, but knowing our lives are eternal gives me pleasure.  I know this life is such a twinkle in His eye, the life after this life is eternal, I will have plenty of memories to make with my grandchildren and I will not miss a thing.  Keeping my eye's and thoughts on eternity are what give me sight when I think I can't see past today.
With the Lord, I have no hiding places I can go and rest. He truly knows my heartache, when no one else seems to 'get it' He not only hears me but He knows how I feel--that pain is hard for me.  I know it must penetrate his heart knowing He cannot take it away until it is my 'time' to go. Problem is, there are times I want it to be my 'time' There are times I get such anxiety and feel a desperate need for Him to, like a candle light a fire under me, illuminate the once happy place I used to fill my days with.  I wish there was a physical person "my person" I could go to and say  nothing, just cry.

I was in between appointments at Mayo Clinic and Maricopa Hospital the other day.  I needed to get new pillow cases, mine are all blood stained and bleached beyond repair.  I went into a TJMaxx I had my head wrap on, an older woman approached me and asked if I had gotten lip injections.  I was not feeling well, but was still so taken back by her question I just stared at her for a few seconds before I replied "ummm...No" I wanted to be classy and walk off without saying what I wanted to, but she wouldn't let it go, she had Margie with her (I'm assuming it was a friend) as I started to walk off she said "wait, you must of had a face lift?" I literally laughed as much as I could without it hurting, "Again, NO" she was relentless following me around the store, remember this was only a 2 day post 2nd surgery.  I let loose on a stranger....."Listen if I had just had lip injections, or a face life, I would tell you to stay away from this plastic surgeon, seriously ladies look at my face, I can't move my lips to talk, and I have lumps the size of marbles all over my cheeks, so with all due respect I'm going through a series of UNWANTED surgeries, I'm vulnerable and need you to back off" she looked at Margie and said "Well, she obviously doesn't want to hear what I have to say about her face lift"

I paid for my pillowcases sat in my car with my head on the steering wheel saying out loud "Why? Why do I get the coo coo's?"  I can honestly say at this point in my life, I am not opposed to women or men getting elective surgery, I had a breast lift years ago after having babies.  However, at this point in my life I am DONE with surgeries that are not necessary. This last surgery #25 has weakened me, my immune system is the lowest it's been.  I have a leakage coming from  the Perotid gland in my face (a salivary gland situated at the base of each ear.) If not attended to can cause major infection and all kinds of problems.  Doctor Lettieri injected my left cheek with 200 mg of medical grade botox to try and scar up the surrounding area and get that gland to stop leaking.  My take on BOTOX?  I'm not sure if this is the same type of Botox women and men get for cosmetic reasons, but there in no way in HELL I would ever do that for cosmetics--it seriously bruised and hurt very badly.  I think he said there were about 30-40 injections, my face looked like a roadmap from Phoenix to New York, with the permanent purple markings and the shots themselves. The bruising is just now turning that beautiful shade of yellow-green.  I can't seem to get my energy back, I'm tired all the time.  Some of my medicines were changed I may need to reevaluate that decision made by my doctor.

I often hear people say "you are so strong" "I couldn't do what you do" "You're such an inspiration"  what is true is that I am evidence that His love is real, but those strengths I seem to show to others are  truly the answer to the quote above, the one that struck me so deeply.  He is using me, my adversities to promote we can survive hard times, we are in the grace of his hands.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What is good enough?

I don't ever want to offend or hurt anyone, but really at the end of the day I am who I am.
It’s time to care less. Yep, that’s right. So many times I take the world on my own shoulders, and
instead of making the world a better place, all I end up doing is creating more stress for myself. 
I've kind of always danced to my own beat. Been dumb. Done whatever I have to but I've had to learn to not take on board what others think. It’s my life, my decisions and my choices.  Some people love to judge, and why should I care if they do? I'm the only one who can define myself, so I choose to let them be amused if it makes them happy. When I care too much about what others  say, I 'm wasting time on them instead of putting that effort into myself.
We all make mistakes and mess up in life. That’s just how life goes. It's taken me years to stop being hard on myself. Accept that everyone gets it wrong sometimes; it’s part of the human condition. You really are allowed to cut yourself some slack. Learn to forgive yourself more often.
FAILURE The big “F” word that everyone fears. It doesn’t have to be a scary concept. However,  ultimately, it depends on what your opinion and attitude to failure is. If you see failure as not being perfect, you’re going to be permanently miserable. A more realistic idea of failure is giving up. If you haven’t given up, you haven’t failed.  I  see failure as a learning curve, a trial and error process. See failure as your friend – it’s no big deal unless you allow it to be.
I have worried so many times about what I don't have, rather than what blessings and gifts I've been given. The human default position tends to err on the side of lack rather than abundance, which is not conducive to feeling carefree. I have focused so many times  on what I don’t have and end up feeling thoroughly deprived. What’s the point of that? I often tell myself to focus on the positives of what I have and leave the negatives of what I don’t have alone. Why should I  want to torture myself with all the things I don’t have? That type of thinking will not serve me in any productive way at all. I made a list of all the things in my life that I appreciate.  Eric taught me many years ago there will always be others with more and others with less. What you have is enough. Over the years I've come to realize how true those words are. I don't think ambition and money have anything to do with this either.  I've met people who seem to think money is evil, not true.  It's what you do with that money that can become evil.    
I have driven myself crazy worrying about what might happen in the future. No one can predict the future, and there is no point in torturing myself unnecessarily about things that may never come to pass. I have to remind myself that this type of worry is wasted energy and distracting to what is really important. It's hard but I face worry head on – if I can do something in the present moment,  I go for it. If not, I'll distract myself and put those worries on a shelf for another day.Have you ever heard someone say  “I’ll be happy when…?”  I think when we believe that we will be happy once something has happened, we effectively put our life on hold until the event happens. Wishing our current life were different is a precious waste of happy moments in life. Life is short live  in the moment more and care less about being happy in the future. Decide to be happy now. Happiness is not a destination, it's a manner of traveling.
Those who either read my blog or know me personally, know that I say I will live and die with no regrets. Regret is a part of life. The past cannot be undone, so it pays to look at what you have done in life philosophically. Did you learn something from it? If you learned never to do it again or to try a different approach, then you’ve ended up with a positive result. NOT A REGRET Accept what has gone before, make allowances for human error and move on. I refuse to live my life with regret, if we are honest with ourselves, we know when it's time to apologize or to forgive.
There is a part of me that is so afraid of rejection, I stay in my comfort zones and never risk true intimacy. This past year I've been trying to wear my heart on my sleeve and risk being vulnerable. The more I hide out of fear, the greater the fear will grow. I'm trying hard to show myself that I can express my feelings and live with the consequences. I can conquer fear of rejection in this way and feel more carefree. Even if the outcome is not as expected, I will soon realize that it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated and that I can deal with it. My daily affirmations and goals have helped me be a little more thick skinned, be brave and see life as an adventure.
I am not one who has bought into society's expectations of be thin, be beautiful. Show off your wealth and status and then you’ll be adored. What nonsense. When you like and accept yourself as you are, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. I don’t buy into the constant media images of perfection. Most of the images are airbrushed and lead us to believe that we should all look as perfect. I try not to take it to heart. We all like to see perfect images, but should not lose sight of the fact that most of it is digitally enhanced and not natural. Love yourself, imperfections and all. Self acceptance is true freedom. It's been almost a year since my partial facial paralysis forced me to come to the fact that I am never going to be the picture perfect woman, but has also taught me to soften my heart and listen with intentionality when others are struggling with these same issues, especially the youth of today.  Don't mistake my thoughts with me thinking it's ok to be unhealthy--I just believe we each know when we are doing our best to look and be the best we can be.  With that said, we also know when we could do a little more, not for society's view of perfection but for our own sense of approval. You are the only one who can make that decision.
Being good enough, is it enough? It’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up somehow. We live in a competitive world. It’s okay and even healthy to want to improve and grow as a person. It becomes unhealthy, though, when we internalize negative ideas about how we aren’t good enough, or we compare ourselves to the successful marriage next door, or the sports car parked in your brothers driveway. Always challenge this type of thinking. What is “good enough”? Where is the international rule book that clarifies what “good enough” is? As long as you feel happy with who you are, where you are and how far you have come, that is all that matters.
I don't know about you but I have  worried unnecessarily and created inner misery for myself over the years. Worrying about things that are completely out of my control. I can honestly say these have usually ended up being my biggest blessings, and growing experiences. Time is not endless, for me I've learned and understand from experiences this life will end, we all will die eventually.  I am in that last act of my life, I want it to have a happily ever after ending--beginning my new journey with a smile and a feeling of accomplishment. Leaving a footprint big enough for my grandchildren to be proud to follow in.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Welcome to the Family

Our sweet Phoenix William Wright finally arrived on Friday February 13. Although I am a very superstitions person, my love for this little guy is over looking my immediate disapproval of Friday the 13th.  Family has assured me Phoenix is going to nix all those myths. I'm not sure why the Lord continues to bless our family with these beautiful spirits, but we feel so abundantly blessed.


Just one more reason to LIVE HAPPY