2018 and Free …

2017 was a year filled with so much LIFE … and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I started 2017 in full recovery mode. My second round of meningitis at the end of 2016 was no less devastating than my first ten years earlier. I knew the healing process I had laid before me. At times that knowledge made it worse. Other times it made it better because I knew what to expect. I think in a way it made me more compassionate to myself. A rarity, indeed. But I wasn’t myself and I loathed it. I spent months in a fog. My days were filled with naps to combat the unrelenting fatigue and lists because my memory was so poor. My anxiety was at an all time high. I dealt with a significant amount of PTSD that came with an intense amount of anxiety. I was frightened I would have another recurrence. And that pain is NO JOKE. Understanding the severity of my encephalopathy was unnerving. No one can figure out how I was functioning “normally” with the amount of brain swelling I had. But I believe that the terrifying drug reactions I had after I got home really pushed me into a whole new level of fear. I literally thought I was dying. I don’t think I had ever been that scared in my life and sadly it has stuck with me. I can still get to that level of panic with even the smallest of triggers. Yes, healing is a long process. But I am happy to have to the opportunity to do it all again. This could have gone a different way for me and my precious family. And I refuse to be anything but grateful. Refuse.

In January 2017 I somehow convinced my doctors to let me train for a marathon. I truly believe that this was a huge part of regaining my strength again. As the days passed I got stronger and stronger. My memory improved and my fatigue got better with each passing day. If ever there was a time in my life to redefine myself, this was it. And it was incredibly liberating. Who could have ever imagined that the very illness that confined me gave me so much room to grow?!?! Definitely, not me!

When I look back on 2017 it is with mixed emotions. My illness and recovery made it hard. But life still happened. And that made it WONDERFUL. I was able to celebrate George’s high school graduation and watch him plan out his future. I was in awe of the growth that I saw in all of my children. Being a part of their daily lives is a gift from God that I will never take granted. NOT EVER. Summer was just straight up FUN. Having all four kids home for the entire summer was something I needed more than anything. Family heals folks, family heals!

Traveling was also a huge part of my 2017. We took lots of little trips and I was blessed with an amazing trip to Alaska. We celebrated birthdays and accomplishments. YAY, I was there and healthy enough to enjoy all of it! In 2017 I even managed to complete all 16 CEUs to keep my nutrition certification. Now THAT was a miracle having struggled with memory issues, HA! There was so much more too. The privilege of having these experiences and all the others often left me feeling overwhelmed. Like “WOW, thanks God! I’m here, alert and actually living this life!” Words can’t capture how I have felt time and time again. “Humbly blessed” comes to mind but it still falls gravely short.

Anyway, my point of writing about all of this is that regardless of the underlying need to heal and recover, life amazingly still engulfed me and took me with it. Despite the tough times I faced I felt an abundance of joy. I loved every difficult and fantastic moment of 2017 and everything in between. And surrendering to my new journey released me and allowed me to redefine who I was … again.

2017 was hard, but it was also beautiful. THAT sums up life in a nutshell. And as long as I have breath I will cherish every moment of it. If 2017 has taught me anything, it was that I do not have to remain tethered to unpleasant circumstances. That my mind, body and soul can still seek and find the freedom that hope gives us even in our darkest of hours.

So I guess that brings me to my 2018 New Year Mantra. Here goes …

Well, I hope you all have a year where you feel FREE!!!

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Summer’s end and a change of pace …

It's our last Sunday of summer break. Sid and George are at college. Libs and Reese return to school on Tuesday. This summer has been a DOOZEY. Emotional and exciting don't even come close to describing it. The summer of 2017 will go down as one of my all time favorites.

I never want summer to end but there is something about the routine that comes with the start of a new school year that grounds me. Summer months tend to feel (and be) more spontaneous and frivolous. But the Fall, winter and Spring months have a coziness to them. Our days are filled with the orderliness of schedules, sports and school, and by the end of August I'm usually ready for it. Fall and winter around this house are filled with magic and traditions that I have come to love. This year we even have some different things planned as well. I'm looking forward to both the familiar back-to-school regimen and the new life we will carve out for ourselves. Our family dynamics are not the same with two of my four children out of the house now. Life will undoubtedly be different, but I know it will be good for all of us.

So am I ready to say "goodbye" to these incredible days of summer? Yes. I believe I am. I will tuck their memories away in my heart. And I will be grateful for each and every moment that I got to spend with the people I love most in this world. God blessed me with another summer … and I truly can't be more thankful.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are ready for a change of pace!!!

Go with the flow …

Winding down from the past eight days hasn't been easy. Coming home to a house that is down so many in numbers has just been weird. And of course now it's time to get ready for Libs' and Reese's first day of school next week AND their birthdays.

Life is ALWAYS busy. At least mine is. And I love it. I don't mean the busyness. I mean the "life" part. My life is never boring. It's full of change. It's full of happiness and pain. We have great times and we have struggles. It simply amazes me that it all keeps moving fluidly. And we just glide along with all of it mapping out a new course as each day passes.

I agree that times can be hard. I'm currently in one. I'm grieving the changes in our family. I miss my kids and what was. But I know I'll adapt and figure it all out. That is the beauty that comes with accepting life as it is and as it should be. It will come. This time might be difficult but my life is still incredible. I still laugh and enjoy every crazy mixed-up and turned around situation I find myself in. And I love and adore the people who I have chosen and who have chosen me share them with. We drift through this life together like a stream. My life takes many twists and turns. I don't always see what lies beneath the water. Heck, sometimes I don't want to. But it's all a part of this magnificent opportunity we have been given time and time again … to find joy in each new day. And as long as I have breath, no matter what I may be facing, I will seek it.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you go with the flow!!!

Driving away …

Today we leave this town. Today we leave my son George at his college knowing that we won't see him again for two months. This is hard. This is going to be the most difficult day in this whole process so far. I've lived this once before with Sid. I didn't do it gracefully. I cried. Heck, I sobbed. I wasn't myself for a good week and even then I was pretty sketchy. I expect the same will happen again. And I make no excuses. It's not every day that you get in your car and leave your child knowing that you won't see them again for months. I joke and say that this whole thing would be easier if I hadn't been the one to teach my kids how to use a spoon! Seriously, they went from not being able to feed themselves to leaving for college in what seems to be a really short time. Logically I know that I had about 17 years from spoon usage learning to college classes but today that gap in time doesn't seem nearly long enough today. I selfishly want more time with George. But my love for him somehow allows me to also want this new life for him even more. And even though I don't think I'll ever feel ready for it, I know that he is.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you drive away!!!

Ready for the next BIG thing …

We were all over the place yesterday. We started off with a relaxing morning at our hotel. Then we picked up some more things for George's dorm room and went to a nice lunch. We later headed into San Francisco to drop off some things at Sidney's new place and also for some fun. After an unusually late dinner we headed back to our hotel. We were all pretty tired from our day and George fell asleep on the way home. I was glad. He has a HUGE day tomorrow. It's not every day that you move into your first college dorm room.

Anyway, I realized that he fell asleep about 30 minutes into our drive back when his breathing changed. It caught my attention and I looked over at him. He was sound asleep and I was suddenly stuck with more emotions than my heart could handle. It was like my entire being was flooded with 18 years of memories. Memories of my precious baby boy who has now GROWN into an incredible young man. A man about to start his new life at college. A man about to chase his dreams. And it all seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. It overwhelms me. All of it. I couldn't be prouder of my son. Or happier. But I am sad for me. I am going to miss this kid. A lot.

I reached over and touched George's face as he slept. It has changed so much. HE has changed so much. I guess I startled him as he woke long enough to grab ahold of my hand. His hands are not the little boy's hands who held my mine all those years ago. They are a man's LARGE hands. My hearts wanted to scream out, "Who's hands are these? Where are my baby boy's hands?" But I didn't. I know who's hands they are. And it's all just so hard to believe.

George held my hand briefly before falling back to sleep. I continued our drive back to the hotel thinking about the years that have passed and the years that lie ahead. All that newness. But knowing in my heart that it's time. It's time for all this TREMENDOUS change. Life has brought us here. And this is where we must part (at least temporarily) and trust where God is going to lead us. Son and mom. Mom and son. Son. Mom. Wherever life takes us. THIS is where we let go.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are ready for the next BIG thing!!!

The sound of four …

This morning I woke up in another hotel room. It's been too many to count this summer. I'm not complaining, it's been fun. But there is an unfamiliarity you must overcome each and every time you travel. You look for ways to make it feel like home. For me, it's in the little things.

When you travel with kids it can be challenging. When you travel with 4 kids, it's REALLY challenging. But I love it. I love doing anything with my kids. They make life fun. And they give a familiarity to these very unfamiliar places. As a mom I know their every sound. I can tell who-is-who in the dead of night just by the sound of their breathing and moving. It is the sound of my life for almost twenty years now.

This morning I woke up before everyone else, as usual. As I wandered around quietly from room to room, getting myself ready, I could hear my children sleeping. And while these sounds were familiar, I got a little sad. These sounds will change soon. Very soon. Two will be gone. They will be off to college and sleeping in their new rooms away from home. I know this. Heck, this is the whole purpose of this trip. But it hit me all at once … even the sound of our lives is changing. I took a minute to sit and listen. To take it all in so I can remember what it sounds like to have them all together with me. Again, as they get older, I know that moments like these will soon be a thing of the past. And that's OK. It's life how it should be. And I wouldn't want it any other way. I can't deny that it hurts. There is pain in this process, but for them, I'll endure it. And for one more morning, I'll just be thankful for what life sounds like now.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you hear the sweet sound of family!!!

A morning at home …

Today will be the last morning George wakes up in our home for at least the next few months. That is just weird. Aside from sleepovers and camps, for the past 18 years he has been here in the morning.

George is an early riser. He always has been. Even as a baby. He's quiet for about 30 minutes after waking up. When he comes to the kitchen he is "officially" wake enough to eat and say good morning. He drinks coffee now and has a routine that is so … um … adult-like. I saw changes in him coming over the past few years. Really it was more like "sneaking" into our lives like a thief in the night and changing my little boy, who loved cereal and cartoons, into a young man.

I know that George will be back again, and in the scope of things, relatively soon. But it will all be different then. He will have changed even more. College and moving away just does that to you. As it should. I wonder what our new mornings will look like when he returns? I'm sure he will be even more mature. More worldly. More wise. But no matter how much life changes him, or how much he ages, he will always wake up and be my little boy.

Well, I hope you all start the day with someone you love!!!