One Day at a Time

One Day at a TimeFor the first time in almost three months I am sitting down at my computer with the intention to write. I took a break to regroup, refocus, and really, to just breath. I was certain I would come back in a week and pick up where I left off, it seemed as I got more encouragement and praise that I had more to say, until I had nothing to say.

I’ve thought about writing a lot, thought about jumping on my computer and telling more of my story and each time I thought about it, I felt weighed down by the idea. My day to day life was too heavy and I couldn’t comprehend using my brain for anything other than binging on Netflix.

Being a caregiver of someone recovering from a bone marrow transplant is so much different than I had anticipated. I assumed it would be similar to being the caregiver of someone going through chemotherapy or radiation: difficult, frustrating, scary, but ultimately, bearable. A bone marrow transplant is, quite literally, a whole different beast. My can-do attitude and desire to take care of everything were irrelevant and those exact things sent me deeper into a space I didn’t know how to navigate.

Anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, catastrophizing, anger, loneliness, guilt: all of the words that have been brought up in my sessions with my therapist since Justin has come home. I had the hardest time understanding that I was grieving, mostly for the life that we had once considered “normal”. There was a new, unpredictable, normal that I couldn’t get a grasp on and it threw me for a loop.

I wish I could describe it to you, I wish I had words of wisdom for you, I wish there was something I could do to keep anyone else from ever feeling the way that I have over the last five months, but as I am learning, I have no control. At all. How disappointing.

I spent many days wondering how I would start writing again. How would I come back? Do I take a deep dive into my experiences over the last few months? Do I just skip over it and talk about all of the things that have gotten me through? Do I just pretend the three months never happened at all? What is the best way to try and regain some of your “normal”? I was apprehensive and insecure. So, here I am, unpolished, raw, and still trying to figure it all out. I suppose that’s all I can ask for at this point.

My world was flipped upside down and I’m still trying to get everything off of the ceiling. It will take some time, and every once and a while something will float back up, but progress is being made on both fronts: Justin’s health and my mental health. For now, we’re just taking it one day at a time.

Mondays are for Making it Happen

Being outside of my usual routine, all of the days seem to run together. Waking up on my little pull out couch in Justin’s hospital room, I witness the hustle and bustle of a Monday but it still doesn’t feel like Monday. I woke up, walked down the hall to the bathroom, stopped to brew the first pot of coffee for the unit, stole some coffee for myself, and headed back to set up shop on my little couch looking out the window on the hospital campus as the parking lots fill up and the sidewalks start to fill with staff, patients, and students.

While my Monday morning is not structured as it normally would be, it’s a Monday nonetheless – and that calls for some motivation!

I am excited for January's blog stats! It is my first month intentionally tracking goals and I can't wait to see this awesome month in numbers! (#nerdalert)-2.png

Mondays are for GRACE!

We could all use a little GRACE now and then – I’ve definitely been using my fair share over the last few weeks. Here is your Monday morning reminder that you are capable of so many things! More than you can even being to imagine! Dedicate some time to stillness: close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and listen to your body. Give yourself what you you need, even if it’s a little bit of grace.

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Grab Ahold of This Monday!

Happy Monday Morning!

It’s your last Monday of January – how are you going to use it? I plan on spending some time looking at how January went in terms of my personal, blog, and professional goals and start planning for February. It’s a whole new world for my little family – Justin has officially be admitted and started the treatment process for his bone marrow transplant. So I’ll be coming to ya from my little space inside his BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) Unit room!

Take ahold of this Monday and DO YOU!

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Relationships Lessons from the Universe

relationshiplessons-from-the-universeThe people of our lives can often times be seasonal – swiftly floating into our lives, to again swiftly leave for a new season to take its place. I bet, if you thought about it, you could identify the specific relationships that have had an impact on the person you are today. Whether they are a friend, family member, colleague, or simply an acquaintance – your seasonal relationships came in with a purpose, sometimes their season lasts a lifetime and sometimes, thankfully, their season is short lived.

The older I get, the more confident I am in my ability to identify the influence of the universe in my life, specifically in my relationships with others. I am able to see the invisible connections that have drawn me to individuals, and that awareness makes me so much more appreciative of the lessons I learn, the support I receive, and the positivity that the right people bring out in me.

See, everyone’s got something. Something they have to carry with them day in and day out – you have two choices: you either accept it and move forward, or you let it completely consume your life and relationships. I know, without a doubt, that one of my favorite people was put into my life to remind me that my experiences, no matter how dramatic, are a small part of this universe. She has taught me how to care for others, and to think beyond my little place in this world. We were brought together to care for each other, to support each other, laugh together, roll our eyes together, and to remind each other to get our shit together.

Last week, she sent me a blog post to read. She had been posting about spoons (yes, spoons), and I finally asked what the metaphor meant. She texted me a link, I looked at it and quickly took in the overall concept, but kept going. After a few more posts about her spoons, I decided that I need to better understand – my friend was speaking a different language and while that isn’t quite out of the ordinary, I needed a translator. I read the post and immediately started crying. For the first time, I understood what she was going through, at least I felt like I understood. I’ll never fully understand, you can’t unless you live it. And that concept, I “get”, more than anything.

The gist —> Someone with an “invisible” illness starts each day with a handful of spoons. Each spoon represents one task, one action, one responsibility as they make their way through life. Need to get out of bed? One spoon down. Need to get dressed? Toss another one. Have a meeting at 9am? That’s at least two. Eventually, the little things in life that we take for granted are EVERYTHING. Once you’re out of spoons, that’s it, you’re spent for the day. Some days you have twelve spoons, some days you have three. But the point isn’t how many spoons you have, it’s that you have to think about the spoons at all, things that you’ve never paid attention to before are now more important than ever. Read the entire story here.

I sent off a text to my friend, apologizing for not reading the entire post the first time, for not understanding what she was going through, and really, to offer her all of my spoons. All I wanted to do was help her keep her spoons. She became my motivation to push harder and think beyond my current circumstances. Lesson learned universe, lesson learned.

While I know that she is not going to be a “seasonal” person that is whisked out of my life just as quickly as she came into it, something brought us together and I will forever be grateful for her presence in my life.

CONVERSATION CIRCLE_PINK.pngMoral of the story? Be mindful of your relationships, thinking beyond just your place in the world. What lesson did the universe intend for you to learn? Be grateful for the lessons, for the support, and for the seasonal people that stick around for a lifetime.

The Importance of Restructuring When Goals and the Real World Collide

when-goals-and-the-real-world-collideIt took less than two weeks into the month of January before I realized that my personal goals didn’t fit. They didn’t work with my day to day life and I wasn’t excited about them. The overall mission was still there, still igniting my motivation, and getting me pumped about the year ahead, but the daily grind was killing my smaller goals.

My initial reaction was disappointment. So much time was spent reflecting and crafting reasonable, exciting, and purposeful goals for myself – how was it that my daily, weekly, and monthly goals weren’t getting me closer to the finish line?

Okay – reality check: I know that it’s not realistic to expect progress in two weeks. But you should feel some sort of movement, right?

In late December, I started my reflection and planning process using the 2017 PowerSheets from Cultivate What Matters. You can read about that process, take a look into my brainstorming, and see my goals here.

Knowing what January had in store for Justin and I, goal setting seemed odd. How could I be planning for my year when I didn’t know what our life would look like post-transplant? I was anxious about setting myself up for failure, ultimately losing interest and not following through on this process for the next twelve months. I started small: on a day to day basis I wanted to walk 5,000 steps, track all of my eating in MyFitnessPal, clean at least one thing, reach out to one person, and track my gratitude for the day.

Working in an office, getting in 5,000 steps can be difficult, I found myself more annoyed with my hourly reminders (thanks, FitBit) than excited by them. I looked like a loon walking around a board room table as I facilitated meetings, and had the maintenance guy demanding I do laps around the cubicles in the office before I could use the restroom. I mean, it was fun, but jeez, it became the priority of my day. And still, I didn’t hit 5,000 ONCE.

Other than the incorporation of a higher step count into my day, the actual issue with my daily goals was TRACKING them. Going back at the end of the week didn’t work, how was I supposed to remember what I cleaned on Tuesday? My daily goals became something to add to my to-do list, and I already had enough things on that. My resentment began to build – not good. ::images of PowerSheets flying through the air::

In all of my reflection, planning, and goal setting, I missed a step. I didn’t plan for the restructure process – I just assumed I had gotten it right on the first try. Boy, was I wrong.

One evening when I was home on my own, I pulled out my PowerSheets and my favorite orange marker and went to town! I took notes, I made connections between my goals instead of looking at them individually, and added in another category for the year: CREATE.

In my haste to put all of my goals into neat packages (tied with a bow, of course), I forgot an important aspect of who I am – I like to create things. I like to write, doodle, color, develop images, take pictures, play with craft supplies, and try new things. My days should be filled with more than just a check list, it should include the things I love to do!

The once monochromatic goal pages of my PowerSheets booklet are now covered in orange notes and doodles inspiring me so much more than any black marker ever could. Even if it was a medium point flair pen.

lightbulb_tealA piece of advice, my little goal setter? Give yourself some grace and be satisfied with progress. Not everything is going to be perfect on the first try. Stop, reevaluate, build in realistic action steps, and always, always, always, remember to build in time to take care of yourself.