That's Gonna Leave a Mark

In lieu of my Sunday post, I wanted to tell you a story. So I have this friend. Her name is Kayla. And she is probably the most genuine, crazy, fun, loving person you would ever meet. She has been one of my best friends since I can remember, even though we have lived in different parts of the country for some time now. She is someone who I can go without seeing for a year, meet up with, and it is as if no time has passed. We have recently reconnected more than usual because of some loss, but she recently reached out to me because she has been writing 'notes', as she calls them. About a month or two ago, Kayla lost one of her best friends suddenly and tragically and has had to go through the experience alone and this breaks me at the core. I wanted to share with you one of Kayla's so-called notes. Sierra, 30 years old, was unexpectedly found unresponsive one day by her husband, leaving behind both him and their 11 month old baby. Although there was a history of influenza, pneumonia, etc, the investigation is ongoing to determine what ultimately caused her death. I don't think losing someone is ever easy. But this scenario scares the daylights out of me and has substantially changed people around me. Here is what Kayla had to say about her friend Sierra. 

Sierra (left) Kayla (right)

Sierra (left) Kayla (right)

"I met you on craigslist.  When I showed up to meet you and examine my new environment I was instantly greeted by your soul-latching laugh and your wet puppy... who is now snuggled on my couch almost 6 years later.  You became not only my roommate but also my mentor and mother, and then inevitably one of my best friends.  Nursing: you never understood it and
neither did I.  But you supported me and always made sure I consumed “a protein,” in our brief meetings before I went to work night shift and you were getting home from lawyering.  At one point when I was frustrated and overwhelmed during my first stint as a hospital nurse, you told me I could quit and just be responsible for walking our dogs and making sure we had an assortment of Trader Joe’s chocolates in the freezer.  I knew you were being serious. 
I would by lying if I said the last 30 days haven’t changed me.  I lost someone I loved that had a whole life ahead of her.  As an ER nurse- I see it all the time.  Unfortunate circumstances appear almost every day and the most I have mustered in my mind was, “that sucks ass.”  
I’m lucky as hell- I text my grandparents (all 4 who are alive.)  I have always felt like I was an empathetic person, despite the jaded and sometimes emotionally hollow person I am in the ER and being “lucky,” has shaped me into. When friends/family or patients lose someone they love- I think about them, their feelings; if they are sleeping/eating; if they feel like they will ever be happy again.  

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In the blink of an eye I became someone I have looked at through empathetic eyes.  The pain started in the depths of my being and will always be there.  In my profession you have to be closed down and disassociated to some extent... or you simply wouldn’t survive.  
Surviving has a whole new meaning to me now.  It’s no longer people who survive the car accident driving to swim practice, surviving the devastating blood clot that paralyzed the right side of a body after traveling the world for a 30th wedding anniversary, surviving the flu-which can be a lot to ask.  Surviving to me now looks like this:  Knowing you or your daughter's birthday is approaching, looking through our many emails and text messages wanting to respond so badly I choke, grasping for the air that no longer is in my lungs, going to work and caring for people who continue to abuse their bodies daily and think of how you couldn’t leave the house without your tea and multivitamin.  Surviving now is holding Z butt tight for you.
My life has changed because you were in it; I will continue to learn from you and promise to be graceful when I look at life.  ❤️"

- Kayla Johnson

 

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The title of this post was created by Kayla. It is one of her standard sayings. Most of the time she says it with shrugged shoulders and continues about her day. This time I think she means it. Sometimes people affect us in ways we can not explain and no matter what happens, they are always a part of us. Be strong, my love, and walk forward.

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Growing Up - Why I'm REALLY Afraid

I have been writing a lot lately about how I hate the fast rate in which my girlies are growing. Mostly because I will miss their snuggles and have a constant fear that they won't need me anymore. Although, most of us parents know this to be false, it nags me almost on the daily. After some contemplation though, it dawned on me some of the real reasons why I am so terrified of my littles getting older and being launched into the real world.

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Number one. Technology. I am scared out of my mind that my six year old is already asking me for a smart phone. I know that we absorb ourselves in our phones, tablets, etc all day. But SIX YEARS OLD. To this I respond, you don't need one until you can drive. She claims Papa C always lets her drive and that if she drives with him, she should have a cell phone. Well, aren't you the skilled negotiator (does not get it from her mama). Bottom line is, I think technology is behind so many of the battles we are fighting today with our little ones: the bullying, self esteem issues, and even mental health problems such as anxiety. She recently had an accident on the school playground where she scraped her nose up pretty good and I was shocked at how self conscious she was about it - to the point it nearly brought her to tears a time or two. Insert some of the horrible self-image concepts portrayed on social media and the internet, and it is a little frightening to think about. I want my kids to be THEM. Not have a constant comparison guide to go by. Nope you don't get a cell phone yet. Sorry angel face.

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Number two. Brings me back to point number one and the bullying factor. Remember when you were in kindergarten and the worst thing that might happen is little Sally wet her pants or little Johnny wouldn't give you the blue crayon? Well not anymore folks! These days kids in kindergarten are clockin each other in the back of the head and physically assaulting each other on the playground. I know this because there was a point in time already where my oldest flat out refused to even get out of the truck to go into school because she was so scared of another little boy in her class. Administration's response post several conversations about the matter: nothing. If we can't trust the people who are with our kids every day to protect and care for them, this is becoming a very scary world. On another note, if you are the parent of the bully, wouldn't you deserve to be made aware and then potentially interfere? Wouldn't you be mortified? Or is this where the children are learning such behavior? A few weeks before we were made aware of the problem child at school, I had an in-depth conversation with Addie about how important it is to be kind to everyone, no matter what. Then I thought... is this really what I ought to be teaching? Will this lead to her being meek and just trying to tolerate horrible behavior and people? It made me second guess everything that seems to be common sense, because if nobody is going to protect her, she needs to learn to protect herself...

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Number three. The world just isn't what it used to be. Anyone else have fond memories of driving dad's old Chevy around at 12 or 13 years old? Not locking the door? Walking miles to the bus stop without a worry? Your parents not being worried about you being home alone because of the lack of bad guys combined with you are not an idiot and have common sense? The people didn't judge you for spanking your kid or yelling in public? It's sad there is so much restriction these days (NOT saying I make spanking a habit fyi or think there should be free reign at whippin them). What I mean is, taking away a certain amount of independence from children is what ultimately leads to them having no idea how to handle responsibility as adults. These are all my opinions, I am sure there are plenty that will disagree. But I believe I became who I am today in part because I was trusted to get home from school, make a snack, watch my sisters, drive the truck, check on the irrigation, etc. 

earnin her keep

earnin her keep

Number four. Finally. I know. Long winded today. Seems like with time, kids are increasingly not being taught skills they NEED, but more of what is deemed necessary but the uppers in the education system. I remember soooooo vividly being done with high school and having to do my taxes for the first time thinking, why didn't I learn this in school? I am especially worried for my oldest because she constantly tells me how boring kindergarten is and asking why they have to keep practicing writing the number one, because it's just a line. Good question darling. I wish it was a little more flexible and there was a tad more room for individualization, as I fear she will be lost in the system. Yes, I know what you're going to say. Well the parents can teach them that stuff too.... But sorry I don't recall the last time I used any geometry or calculus - and I'm a Pharmacist with a doctorate. 

Food for thought. And because I like to rant.

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Dear Help Desk - Thanks for the Help

I feel like I face many struggles on the daily trying to be a solo parent and get to work on time in the circumstances I am in on a GOOD day, but I won’t even approach that. Yesterday was, by far, a day that will go down in infamy. And MOST of my stress, angst, and utter madness was a result of the blatant lack of helpfulness of the IT HELP center at the corporation where I work. Yes, you read that right. Help Desk = not helpful. But let me back it up.

here is an action shot of what they look like in the morning.... love those little cheeks!

here is an action shot of what they look like in the morning.... love those little cheeks!

So, It’s two in the morning when both of my angelic little babes decide to crawl into bed with me….and fight about who gets to sleep next to mama….for 20 minutes….and pretty soon we are all yelling at each other….at what is now 2:30 a.m. Finally, my oldest could sense my close proximity to the ‘edge’ and positioned her whole body at the foot of the bed. Some 2.5 hours later, my alarm goes off and I begin this bright and beautiful day (temperature a negative 33 degrees outside). As I am getting ready, packing lunches, the fact is presented to me that one of my kids has peed in my bed. Crap. (pun intended). Frantically, I strip the bed, scrub the mattress, argue with the little one about going to school, and out we go. We arrive at little one’s school and she decides that she is, in fact, not going to go. No, I mean it. She is somehow running from me INSIDE of the car. I end up dropping her off kicking and screaming (nearly kicking her teacher in the head) and I leave with tears running down my face, partially because of the trauma, and partially because I am trying to figure out how to stop crying before I get to work so late. THEN IT HAPPENS.

In a seemingly impossible sequence of events, our internet server is down, phone and fax system down, and our alarm system glitches sending the alarm into full panic mode (sounds similar to when someone robs a bank on tv). PS - I work in a pharmacy. So all of these things are kind of crucial to day to day operation. So what do I do? I call the HELP DESK, because surely they can help me. Many moons ago, they were able to disable this monstrous alarm remotely and they will just flip a switch and do it again. After 40 minutes on the phone, being transferred four times, and being told I would have to place a ‘work order’ and listen to the alarm until someone showed up to fix it (from where?), we took matters into our own hands. Let’s just say, the alarm magically stopped. I skipped over the details about how I kind of reminded myself of Jim Carrey in Liar Liar screaming into the phone like a lunatic...you know what I'm talking about.

and this is how I really feel

and this is how I really feel

So, this is not a good day. But here is my problem: there are people, somewhere (probably the Philippines and I am under the assumption there are a lot of these people) being paid to help us when we call with a problem. And 9.8 times out of ten, they don’t/can’t/won’t. BECAUSE NOBODY CARES. Nobody takes any pride in what they do, how they do it, or the end result. I personally feel like this is an epidemic. Nobody wants to claim any responsibility for anything, just in case… Reading this, you might think what’s the big deal? Well, in the kind of environment we work in, this incident already put me about 1.5 hours behind and add it on to all the other tech issues, I was over that ‘edge’. So fast forward to today…. There may or may not have been an issue with us now needing a new speaker for the alarm panel, so I kindly asked for a replacement. Well the good news is - I’m in luck!! The HELP desk called me back today to let me know to call the alarm company….to which they do not know the name or the phone number. Good day.

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A Love Letter To My Younger Self

This post is one from the archives, but I never finished the project, so I am doing a repost of this one with a subsequent letter to follow...

I still consider myself ‘young’, but most days I wake up feeling much older than the number that defines me.  Life in general, with its give and take leaves me feeling this way.  A strange mixture of numbness and pain.  My joints have started to hurt doing different activities, such as standing up after crouching.  I occasionally experience that thing called heartburn.  On the same token, I catch myself mindlessly drifting through the chaos and stuck on autopilot totally unaware of what is going on around me.  I have a whole additional post coming about this one…  I often compare myself now to how I was ‘then’.  Which was a way better version of myself, right?  Wrong.  I have found that lately I am the most content with where I am and how I spend my time as I have ever been.  If I could send my younger self a letter, it would go something like this:

Dear childless, thin, bikini-wearing, energized college student,

Are you seriously waking up at 5 AM to put a roast in the crock pot?  Don’t do that.  You will become plenty versed in about 8 years.  Yes, it’s healthy, but so is a subway sandwich.  You should be sleeping.  Soon you will have to cook the roast after a mere 5 hours of rest.  Relax.  Take a nap. 

nap like this. superstar status.

nap like this. superstar status.

Give up this obsession with perfection.  Put the chemistry book down and go golfing instead.  You are not perfect, will not do everything perfectly (or even come close) and really should spend your time doing things you enjoy.  Find your center.  Find what REALLY makes you whole, because we both know it’s not filling prescriptions 12 hours a day.  If you don’t, you will be lost.  You are already destined for a successful career, but that does not create a fully satisfying way of life.  You will absolutely be unable to love everyone adequately if you cannot love yourself.  Someday you will find yourself so exhausted that simple tasks like stopping to put gas in the car become difficult (this will be A LOT of days actually).  This is why it is so important to never become lazy in developing your foundation of self. 

less books. more this.

less books. more this.

Many days all you will have is your sense of humor, enjoyment in a good book, the outdoors, and the disorder of a family milling around you.  Let go of perfection.  But do not let go of yourself.  You can do anything.  You are beautiful, despite what is about to happen to your body after birthing babies. (VICTORY!).  

With Love and Admiration, 

Your Older, Frumpier self.

PS – After you DO birth the babies, you will find yourself purchasing and doing things you would never have imagined (eating pre-chewed food and wearing super ugly one piece swimming suits).  I promise the good outweighs the bad but stop making fun of the ladies at Target purchasing said items and doing gross things.

I could have gone on and on, but cut it back because I know you are all too busy for that.

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