Skin cells

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Today I started writing in a brand new journal.  Even though I had a few pages left on my previous journal, I just had to start fresh in my new one.  I am certain that I am not the only one who is trying to figure out what my new year’s resolutions will be.  I want to call them goals instead.  When I think of resolutions, I think of someone wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or give up drinking coffee (over my dead body – hah!).

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I read an entry in my devotional, Faith in the Valley by Iyanla Vanzant, and it resonated with me.  She said that our skin cells, our hair and other parts of our body are not the same parts that we had a week ago, a month ago or a year ago.  Without our intervention, our physical bodies are ever-changing, not always the way we want them to either.  (I find more and more gray hairs every week.)  Iyanla said that one thing that does not change on it’s own is our mind.  Do we have the same attitude and do we have the same thoughts that we had years ago and have they held us back from the life we truly deserve to live?  In my case the answer is yes.  What if we decide to be more of who we are, take better care of ourselves, love ourselves and others, and express more kindness and gratitude instead?  Once we do these things, wouldn’t that make it easier to lose weight or eat healthier?  Maybe it’s better to start within.

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Today the sun was shining and I felt blessed to have a day with my family.  What are my hopes for 2014?  For my oldest son to be in less pain from his MD, that perhaps we will find good help with my sons and that we would love each other just a little more every day.  I hope to post more in my blog, read more books, do more crossword puzzles and listen to more great music on my new turntable.  I wish you all the very best life can offer in 2014!

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Keep the Picture Close

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On October 21, I was blessed to see my favorite band, Two Door Cinema Club, in concert with my sister in Denver!  My husband surprised me with tickets last June.  Being a full time caregiver, my going out consists of books and coffee at my favorite coffee house, errands or some occasional shopping.  It had been years since I was able to get away by myself – for 4 nights!  I rented a car, a Nissan Sentra, plugged in my Two Door Cinema Club playlist and away I went!  It took me a couple of hours to relax and get used to not seeing anyone in the back seat.  I rarely go anywhere in a vehicle by myself so this was a new thing for me!  It was about the time I reached the wind farm by Judith Gap that it started to sink in that I was on a trip by myself!  Yes!

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Everything went smoothly until I missed the turnoff for Billings by Lavina.  I ended up close to Roundup so I was about 45 minutes out of the way.  I eventually made it to Billings, passed the ramp for I-90 only once and it was interstate all the way to my sister’s house.  I didn’t leave home until 2:00 so it was getting dark by the time I saw Billings in my rearview.  I continued to enjoy my tunes and had to turn them up louder once I reached I-25.  This portion of I-25 is straight and I was beginning to feel drowsy.  After almost hitting a huge porcupine and seeing only 4 deer along the entire drive, I made it to Douglas.

My sister, Sherry, and I had Sunday to relax before our big day in Denver.  She is a volunteer firefighter so she showed me around the station.  This gave me a visual of what she deals with and I really admire her and her husband, Pat, for what they do.  I had the privilege of meeting Sherry’s good friend, J.J., and her two wonderful sons.  I visited with my niece and nephew and briefly saw my brother-in-law between his workdays.  I went to bed that night very relaxed and thankful for family and new friends.

My niece and nephew, Alex & Jaryn
My niece and nephew, Alex & Jaryn
J.J. and her oldest son, Sill
J.J. and her oldest son, Sill

We left for Denver early and arrived in Fort Collins in time for lunch.  We ate at Mad Greens which was delicious.  It was located close to the university and the trees were golden with the light of autumn.  Once we got back onto the interstate, traffic started to become heavier and more lanes were appearing.  I am a Montana girl not used to city driving, so I had to keep telling myself to chill out.  We used Siri on my iPhone as we started to approach Denver.  My stomach started doing flip flops when downtown Denver came into view.  Next thing I knew, I could see Coors Field and we were approaching Colfax Avenue, which is where our hotel and the Ogden Theatre is located.  It went smoothly except for the old woman who drove her wheelchair into the middle of the intersection I was approaching and the red light I had to run because I didn’t even know it was there!  By the time we reached our hotel, I was nauseated, relieved and excited.  I kept telling myself, this is it!  I am actually going to see my favorite band tonight!

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We had plenty of time to walk down to a record store right next to the Ogden Theatre and grab a bite to eat at an Irish eatery.  We went back to the hotel and I could hardly sit still for all of the excitement.  We left early and there was already a line.  Most of the people in line had big X’s on their hands for under 21 and my sister and I were one of the few with over 21 bracelets on.

Me and Sherry
Me and Sherry

At one point while we were standing in line, we saw two guys run by that looked like they were straight out of the 70’s.  We laughed a little and continued waiting for the doors to open.  We were fairly close to the front of the line so we were able to stand in the front section.  We eagerly waited for things to start and I was surprised at how close we were to the stage.  I could hear a lot of excitement building for one of the opening acts, St. Lucia, who I had never heard before.

Peace
Peace

It was 8:00 and the opening act came out!  I looked at the lead singer and lead guitarist and my jaw dropped!  They were the two guys who ran by us earlier.  Come to find out, they were straight out of England – Peace was the name of their band.  They were very good.  We laughed at ourselves for not knowing who they were.  As St. Lucia’s turn was approaching, I could feel the energy in the crowd building.  Sherry and I had to hold our stance and keep our place in the front section.  The Ogden is smaller so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  Only one guy tried to cut in front of us and Sherry pretty much told him where to go.  Not many will press their luck with her – she is tough as nails.

St. Lucia
St. Lucia

I am surprised to this day how much I remember about St. Lucia – their enthusiasm, energy, the music and more.  As I listen to Elevate at this moment, I feel like I am there.  Everyone of them looked so happy and full of life.  It was impossible to stand still as I watched the beautiful woman in front of me play the keyboards, shake the tambourine and jam out.  Once they were finished, the drummer threw out his drumsticks.  Some girls next to us were fighting over one and Sherry took her chance.  They all knew better than to try grabbing it back!  I am happy to say that it is safely sitting on my piano as I write this.

Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club
Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club

The set up for Two Door Cinema Club took the longest.  I could hardly contain myself.  The girls in front of us left to meet St. Lucia and next thing I knew, Sherry pushed me up into the spot they were in.  I was right up front!!!  The lights went out, fog began to rise and I could see them entering the stage.  My eyes started to water!  Next thing I knew, Alex Trimble was up there and the bassist, Kevin Baird, was right in front of us!  I could feel the music in every cell of my body and as I listened to the songs that were so familiar to me, I was amazed to see it all unfolding in front of me.  The music was flawless and I couldn’t stand still.  Sherry had to take most of the pictures because I couldn’t stop dancing!

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Sam Halliday played on the opposite side of the stage. He looked like he was having a blast!

Once it was over, Sherry and I could feel our age.  We were sore and tired.  That night I awoke around 3:00 and I still had adrenaline. It took me over an hour to go back to sleep.

We enjoyed the rest of our time in Denver at a cute consignment shop on Colfax and a small coffee house across the street.  The drive back to Wyoming was relaxing and the weather was beautiful.

The morning I left was so hard, as I knew it would be.  I cried in private as I packed and didn’t waste too much time leaving since I had a 9 hour drive ahead of me.  I kept myself together until I hugged my niece and nephew again.  I bawled as I said goodbye and Alex, my niece, said they were tears of joy.  I look back on it today and realize that she was right.  They were tears of joy for an experience I will remember for the rest of my life – the concert, the time with my sister and meeting new friends.  I took several pictures and will keep them close, saving them until I need them most.  I may not be able to do something like this again for some time.  My sons’ disease is progressive and I find them needing more and more help.  My husband is the greatest guy on the planet for taking such good care of them while I was away.  I may have been annoying for a while after I returned, showing off my photos and talking about the concert, but it’s only because I have given so much up since I left my career in 2005.  This more than made up for it and I will always be thankful!

Photo taken by St. Lucia
Photo taken by St. Lucia

Take the deep end

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Remember when you first learned how to swim?  Most of us walked into the shallow end and gradually made our way into deeper waters.  This works just fine when we are learning how to swim but I have found in life that taking the deeper end is better.  One of my favorite bands, Two Door Cinema Club, has a song called Beacon.  A line from that song resonated with me and it has stuck ever since I first heard it:

Take the deep end, swim till you can’t stand

cuz it will make a difference in the end.

After finding out that my two sons have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I made a decision to help them grow up as normal as possible.  I kept them in school until 10th and 11th grade and they went to regular class.  Unfortunately, I had to withdraw them from school for health reasons and help them earn their G.E.D.s.  They participated in field trips, had friends over to play, went swimming and even rode horses.  They did homework, played clarinets in band and were like any other teenager despite their physical limitations.  It may have been easier to throw my hands into the air and put them into special education, but I knew that would not be the best in the long run.

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I still run into situations almost everyday when I have to remind myself to take the deep end.  There are many evenings when I do not feel like cooking but I know that giving them convenient junk will only accelerate their disease.  I was not the “cool” mom who let her kids drink soda and eat tons of sugar.  I knew early on that it would only make their futures worse.  Yesterday morning, I did not want to clean my house.  I did it anyway because doing just one thing can make the world a better place – whether it’s something big like helping a disabled child through school or something small like picking an object off of the floor for someone.  I was floored when my youngest son, Andrew, told me that he would drop a pencil onto the floor only for another kid to just look at it and walk away.  We need to teach each other to help and to care.  We need to take the deep end because it will make a difference in the end.

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The early bird gets the worm

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How many parts of our days are really quiet? No TV, loud music, phones ringing or people talking. Unless you live in a remote part of the countryside or another planet, there is not much silence in our daily lives.

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Silence. Some of us long for it, and some of us fear it (my thoughts can drive me nuts at times). I long for it and I have for years, especially as my sons’ care has become more demanding. I use the hours of the early morning to sit in silence while I sip my fresh ground coffee. I try to make a conscious connection with God as I pray and read His word. In the summer, it’s nice to feel the cool air on my skin before the sun comes up and heats it all up. I used to hear a bird, a killdeer, every morning at 4:30. My favorite birds to hear in the wee hours of the morning are mourning doves.

Here’s the problem – the snooze bar. The snooze bar has become my enemy and I have let it rob me of these precious, early morning moments, and it often ruins my morning. As a caregiver, I need to have something to give to my sons when I get them up and without my fill of early morning time with God, I end up beginning the day on an empty tank. Admittedly, I hit the snooze bar at least once during the night (my sons have to be turned and repositioned) and numerous times in the morning. The sleep I end up getting is worthless because I am waking up every 7 to 9 minutes. Here’s the kicker – my alarm clock is not next to my bed. That’s right, I have to hop out of bed to hit snooze and that doesn’t stop me. Why are habits so ruthless?

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Life is precious – every moment, every hug and every smile from my loved ones. I don’t want to waste another minute of it because I was a grumpy butt from not taking silent time before sunrise. I know it sounds crazy but it really does work. My days are much smoother and I am not as tired when I am up before the birds. We should all have a little time to ourselves in the morning – to reflect, pray, slowly sip some coffee, take a longer shower, whatever. I will conclude with a short, but powerful quote.

The morning breeze has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep.
~ Rumi

Never stop reaching for the sky!

Never stop reaching for the sky!

I’m baaack! I must admit, I was pretty shocked when I noticed how long it had been since I lasted posted. I convinced myself that I did not have time and did not need to write in my blog. It is amazing how if we tell ourselves something enough times, we will really start to believe it. A phrase I have seen many times states that “we become what we think about”. Our attitude really does make our world. It can make or break our day.

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I have recently joined the gym after wanting to go back for several years. It was humbling after my first workout. I ended up very sore and tired. With anything new, it’s easy to fall prey to fearful thoughts. I payed for an entire year up front and I have asked myself several times if that was a mistake. I have been in the same routine for so long that it has become a rut. I spent so many days at a time at home caregiving, cleaning etc. that when I actually did get out, I was a little shocked.

The truth is, I need the exercise, we all do. It keeps us strong and less prone to injury and combats depression and anxiety. I know it will improve my life so long as I keep on keeping on! As I continue on this journey, doors will open, opportunities will present themselves and the walls I have built up will begin to fall.

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Burned toast

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I am one of those people who cannot drive or walk while doing something else.  Like a dummy, I was walking down my basement stairs and looking at a calendar.  Next thing I knew, my feet slipped and I fell down a couple stairs and landed on the bottom.  I hurt a little so I took some ibuprofen and went to bed.  Everything was fine until a couple days later.  Searing pain up and down my left leg, swelling and twitching all over my leg.  This was almost a couple weeks ago and I am still in pain. Most of it is from the MD but just as equally to blame is my lack of self care.

This has been a real eye opener for me.  Honestly, it scared me into wondering how long I can continue taking care of the boys.  I want to last, I really do, and I most certainly will not at this pace.  It’s only a matter of time.

What to do.  What to do.  I am pretty sure the house will not be condemned if it is not spotless and we will always have clothes to wear if I get behind in the wash.

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Fear is what keeps me from letting things go and taking care of myself first – making sure I take time each day to work towards my goals and dreams.  We must have faith that so long as we do our very best, God will handle the rest.  Truth is, I am of no use to God or my loved ones if I am toast.

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In order to love others, we must be filled with God’s love.  In order to properly care for those we love, we must first take care of ourselves.  I must do it for God, myself, my loved ones and the world.  How much more beautiful would our world be if we would stop running ourselves ragged, pumped by our anxieties and fears?  Very beautiful indeed!

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Ma Haney

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Years ago, my husband’s grandmother from Tennessee, Dona Haney, told me that I needed to write a book to tell of our everyday experience and struggles with muscular dystrophy.  I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea but something that I would need to hold off on for a while.  Well, maybe this could be the beginning!

Dona and Dave’s grandfather, Gene Haney, have driven all the way up here from Tennessee several times to visit.  They are in their 80’s and enjoy traveling.  Dave has always called them Ma and Pa.  Ma, despite her congestive heart failure and diabetes, has continued doing what she enjoys such as going to the Smokey Mountains, attending family reunions and weddings, traveling all the way to Montana and California and spending a lot of time with family.

Even though it was tiring and they had to stay in a hotel while they were here, Ma and Pa made it over for the boys GED graduation this past spring!  It was a wonderful time.

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Our neighbors, Len and JoAnn, came over to celebrate with us as they usually do for special events.  I was playing the Gene Autrey radio station on Pandora (since Len likes a little “C & W” as he calls it) and him and Pa were seeing who could guess what song was on.  It was great!

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Although Len and Pa had only spoken once before on a previous visit, they really hit it off!  People from their generation are more easy going I guess!

I wanted to share this with you because it was Ma who inspired me years ago to tell our story.  She is an inspiration to me in so many ways, Pa too.  They worked hard through life to earn everything they own, they are always willing to help others and they are a blessing.  Before they left this past spring, Pa’s advice to me was to not take life so seriously because it goes by too fast!  God bless and enjoy the rest of your Sunday all!

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Take two!

IMG_0201Hi!  I’m Lisa!  I am a mother, wife, daughter, caregiver and friend.  These roles I put myself into are good and rewarding, but the most important role is to be me.  Creating this blog is just the beginning and I look forward to sharing it with you!  To be honest, this is the second running of a blog that only lasted a couple of days.  Why?  Because I convinced myself that I do not have time for this.  What is that phrase?  Something about needing to make the time?  Truth is, I was making excuses for not taking care of myself, which is easy to do, especially in my role as a caregiver to my two awesome sons!  Will I not be a better caregiver and set a good example for others, offering inspiration, by simply diving on in and not looking back?

I have often told myself that I cannot make a difference because I am home so much.  This is simply not true.  Do we not make a difference by being all we can be, all God created us to be?  Do we not make a difference by serving with our hearts on fire and loving others?

Like everyone else, I have dreams.  Dreams of running marathons, writing books and doing something really big.  This is a good thing but I have let it make me lose sight of who I can be today, right now.  Bloom where I am planted.  The road I am on may eventually meet up with the road where these big dreams are the destination, but if not, that is okay too.

For those of you that read my short lived blog, thank you and bless you.  And for the rest, God bless you and I am excited to walk this path with you!

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