Tuesday, March 18, 2014

For this moment . . .

Do you ever have that epiphany that all the stuff leading up to this moment in time had a specific purpose?  That is where I am in my life right now.  The last few years have been such a time of growth and learning.  I am a different person.  I am a better person.  And it is evident that it has all been leading me to this place.

I can easily look back at my life and see significant changes.  I can see the me from high school.  I was quiet and had very little self esteem.  My freshman year in college I became close to a previous acquaintance, Angie, and she taught me to love myself regardless of what others thought.  She taught me that I was valuable not for how others saw me, but for what was inside.  I was changed.  I grew into a person who was confident and clear on my goals.   It was probably the first time that I was changed to much by one person touching my life.  She helped put me on a path that forged the adult I would come to be.  

As I look back on the last few years I can see numerous things that lay in he road of my past that have formed me and prepared me for the obstacles that lay ahead.  I am thankful for each of those growth experiences even if they were hard to overcome.   If I had not learned the lessons and applied them to my life, my road today would be much harder.

Breaking my leg in several places a few years ago was a turning point in my marriage.  What?!  Yes.  It changed my marriage.  I was laid up on bed rest for several weeks.  I was reliant on my husband and kids to do everything for me.  From someone who is "take-charge" and a control freak that was beyond difficult. I realized that I am not the one that has to do everything. I learned that others can be just as efficient as I am and can handle the responsibility.  Even after bed rest was over, I had a year when I could do very little.  I rested in the fact that my family was there for me and could step up.  My husband really became a caretaker and I realized that he could be there for me.  We grew together during this long time of recovery.  He has absolutely taken care of me even to this day.  There is rarely a time when I say I need something that he does not jump up and get it for me.  He knows that every step I take is painful on some level still and he tries to alleviate that for me as much as he can.  God is faithful, and while I still struggle with pain, I know that I have been blessed through the experience.

The other part of my journey was learning Reiki.  Reiki has changed my life by making me be more aware of the energy around me and the energy that I am putting out there.  I have learned that my energy affects those around me and vice versa.  I focus more on making myself calm when approaching my kids and generating positive energy when I want it to affect them.  The Reiki journey has been so very important in the way I view people as well.  I have always been quick to assume things about people and quick to have a snarky come back.  I think Reiki and the positive energy it creates in me has caused me to be more of a positive soothing presence.  I am far more quick to assume the best in people.  I give people the benefit of the doubt and see the difficulty in their situation instead of the immediate reaction of irritation.  I feel it has strengthened my resolve to be an encourager.  It has made me much more intentional in what I do.  Reiki has drawn me closer to my friend Valerie, whom I took the classes with.  We are bonded in ways I cannot completely understand.  We share some sort of energy and it is positive and uplifting.  I am thankful for her presence in my life.  She is a rock, understands my humor and commiserates with me when needed.   I believe that my Reiki is given from God and I accept the energy and healing he provides. You can read a bit of my Reiki journey here, here and here.

Last year we became a larger family by welcoming a long time friend into our fold while she was pregnant with her first child.  We supported her emotionally and physically through her pregnancy and she became an integral part of our family.  She understands my kiddos and their issues.  She loves us as much as we love her.  I was blessed to be at the birth of her son and cut the cord.  Robert and I "play" grammy and grampy to an adorable, cherub faced, red headed baby boy.  We adore them as our own, because they are a part of us.  They have both given us so much joy.  She is understanding of our trials and is super helpful when something comes up.  She is always willing to give of herself to help us in any way she possibly can.  She is loving and caring and I am so proud of the momma she has become.  That boy's smile and smoochies can light up my day!  I am so thankful that they are in our life and have given us another reason to focus on the good.  God knew what he was doing when he stuck her in our lives!

The last and most important is the addition of my TRIBE in my life.  I blogged recently about my third year in Orlando with my moms from Beyond Trauma and Attachment and I meant every word.  My friends who are also raising kids from hard places are my lifeline.  They hold me up when I need it.  They laugh with me when I can't stand drama anymore.  And they love me unconditionally.  I have never in my whole life felt like I "fit" somewhere as I do with my BeTA girls.  This year was very freeing for me.  I felt like the misfit who was always picked last for kickball finally made it "in" with the cool kids. I felt loved and accepted.  I felt important.  Not important in a superior way, but important in a way that I was cared for by others.  I feel as though I have found the spot I have always belonged.  I feel like I have always had a BeTA fish shaped whole in my heart and it was finally filled.   The most amazing thing about this tribe is that we are all so very different.  We come from different areas of the country, different backgrounds, different political and spiritual persuasions, we have different sexual preferences and different thoughts about life, but we accept one another as we are on the same road with similar challenges.  We respect one another and our choices are our own, but we can still support and love.  For me, that is the true definition of family.  I have been blessed with a few of those mommas who I know have my back at a moment's notice.  I know I can hide out at their house 9 hours away when I need to escape (and have), I know they will fly here to help if needed and I know that I can call them and always count on them listening to my cry or laugh hysterically.  I can wake up to them serenading me on facebook voice chat, get emails that they have placed a gift in my paypal account and have Amazon boxes delivered to my door. They are my strength.  They complete me and hold me up more than they could ever imagine.  I am humbled by he generosity and am forever grateful.

As I sit and ponder what the immediate future holds for our family in the liver transplant process, I can't fathom doing it as the person I was a few short years ago.  The amount of support I have now and the love I feel from others is such a blessing.  I would be an absolute mess without the love of my tribe.  I would be crazy to think I could do this without the strengthened relationship I have with my amazing husband.  I have a local friend that I adore and share a special bond with.  I have a surrogate grandbaby who lights up my life and a friend who isn't afraid of my life and what it entails.  I can look back and see that the journey God has put us on has driven us to a place where we can do this. I am much more at peace than I could imagine.  I know this is because I am being held up.  I am being prayed for, loved on and being sent positive energy.

I am forever thankful for the journey.

I have been prepared for this moment and I can do this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Third time is a charm . . .

In March of 2012, I was given the privilege to go to the Early Trauma and Attachment Annual Meeting in Orlando.  It was life changing.  I found my people. I felt so at home with those who were raising children who came from hard places such as my son.  Some had children from foster care, some had children from international adoption and some even had bio children or step children.  The common thread was the effect of early trauma on our children. I learned so much from my fellow moms of trauma and I was changed.  That year I soaked in all the information I heard.  I became a better parent, a better wife and a better person.  I began to research alternative methods and became involved in learning Reiki.  I was irrevocably changed due to my time in Orlando. 

In March of 2013, I was thrilled to return to Orlando.  That year my focus was a bit different.  I felt the need to speak to as many women as I possibly could.  I searched out others for their techniques and their parenting styles.  I felt like I could not possibly learn enough.  I wanted to talk to others and learn from their experiences.  It was a freeing year as I sought out new people and new information.  I learned about EFT tapping and continue to use it daily.   Our leader, Corey  had made the decision to step down from her duties and a wonderful woman stepped up to the plate.  Rachel  asked me to help and I was thrilled.  We began to really delve into the reasons people came to Orlando and what we could do to improve the wonderful legacy that we had been left with.

This last 12 months have been a whirlwind of planning and learning.  Beyond Trauma and Attachment (BeTA) was born.  A website was created. We drew together a Board of Directors and had lots of input on this year's retreat.  We meshed well as a group and the 10 Board Members and the 10 Host Mothers for this year worked our tails off to provide a wonderful framework for this year's retreat.  Rachel was our driving force and her HARD WORK and her desire to reach out to families who needed us inspirational.  I am thankful for her guidance and friendship.

This past week I traveled to Orlando for my third time.  Each time I have been involved with this retreat I have learned so much about myself and this year was no different.  This year I think I grew more on a personal level.  I learned so much about myself and I learned that I am loved and cherished by my friends.   This year I happened to be going through a serious illness with my husband and I have never felt so very

I was blessed to be the host mom of 12 wonderful women.  While we all came from different backgrounds and perspectives we respected and held one another up.  I have never seen more bravery, more love, more kindness personified.  I met women who are raising children who have been challenged with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, BiPolar, Schizophrenia and RAD. I met mommas who are caring for children with physical disabilities and children who appear to be completely typical.  The one thing we have in common is that we have all been affected by trauma just as our children have.   I cried and laughed more than I ever knew I could.  I learned so very many things.

This year was MY year.  It was more about me than my kids.  I spent most of my time in my own villa, getting to know those around me.  I shared things that I have learned and I listened. I listened to so many brave women share their stories.  I reveled in the fact that we are all strong and we CAN do this.

I also spent time in the presence of those most precious to me.  I strengthened relationships that were started the past few years. I worked on feeling their energy and surrounding myself with the positivity.  I tried to attune myself to the energy of others and just plain sit with the "goodness".   I needed to rest in the fact that I am loved.  As mothers we sometimes forget that we are important too.  That was the gift that Orlando gave me this year.  This year I found out that I am important.  

Tears were a big part of Orlando for me this year.  I cried because of the pain I felt  for others and their own trauma.  I cried because I felt so special and loved.  I cried because I don't want to leave those that I love so very much.  I cried because we are all so damn strong and I am so proud of all of us.  But I mostly cried because I am blessed to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I am blessed to see others coming together to help, hold up and love others.

The next several months hold lots of trauma for our family.  My husband will be receiving a new liver.  Someone will give him the gift of life.  I will need much support and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my BeTA ladies have my back.  I have filled my cup with the goodness that is Orlando and I know I can revisit that fountain as I need to over the next year.   The gift I have been given is priceless.  I have been given the gift of acceptance, love and kinship.

The legacy that was started 4 years ago lives on and I am eternally grateful for that one brave woman who stepped out and reached out to others living a very similar life.  Thank you Corey.  You are loved and your vision lives on. 


Transplant is necessary . . .

My husband, Robert, went to meet with IU's liver transplant team last week.  I was at my yearly conference in Orlando so I was not able to attend, but he loved his doctor and felt very at ease with the whole appointment.   Plans have been made.

They confirmed that Robert is very ill.  His liver is extremely diseased and has no ability to regenerate.  It is definitely time for a transplant.  They told him that if he does not get the transplant, within 2 years he will be gravely ill.

There was lots of talk about the worthiness of him as an organ recipient.  That was not only humbling but very interesting.  He will be given the gift of life.  Due to that, it is imperative that we make sure he is physically healthy in every other way.   It would be a waste of a donated liver to give it to someone who is ill in another way.  Robert will undergo a plethora of testing to make sure the remainder of his organs are healthy and can sustain life.  Tests will be scheduled over the next few weeks for this purpose.  They have told us that livers are not in short supply which is fabulous. The donated liver simply must have the same blood type as Robert in order to be used.

Once Robert goes to the committee and he is approved to be an organ recipient, it could be as long as 6 months before the transplant is done.  We are still very uncertain as to what will happen, how and when.  We are at the mercy of their schedules at IU Med Center. We will be taking a class that will let us know what to expect. 

I am very thankful that we have the opportunity to accept a liver from a donor.  What a privilege to be given a second chance at life due to someone else's gift!  If I am completely honest I am also entirely freaked out.   The prospect of someone opening up my husband, removing an important organ and replacing it with another scares me.  I know that liver transplants are the most common transplant, but complications still happen.  I just need to rest assured that he is in the best hands possible and  he will be fine.