Monday, November 25, 2013

Tell Me Your Story

I like stories.

Someone wise once shared with me: "Your past is just a story and once you realize this, it has no power over you."

I have this idea...this dream...of a book I'd like to write one day. I want to approach people in the cemetery...random people of all ages and backgrounds...and say, "Tell me your story." Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Tell me a funny memory about them. Tell me something real. I want to know why the old man is visiting a forty year old grave. I want to know why the young girl is weeping at a child's headstone. I want to know how that woman survived the loss of her husband. I want to be a collector of their stories.

People like to tell me their stories. Why? I haven't quite figured that out. But, I'm thankful to be the resting place for their trust. I don't judge their stories. I don't berate their stories. I don't chastise them for their stories. I take their stories in...and they become a part of me. It may not always be a story I want to hear...or a story I want to hold...but I listen and carry it anyway.

This is one of the reasons I love my job. I am around people, all day long, who want to share their story. At their age, they see no reason to hide from their story. They aren't ashamed or scared or unwilling to give this part of themselves. I ask, they answer. It is as simple as that. I don't offer could I? I have nothing to add to their story. It is theirs...I just listen. Sometimes, that is all that someone needs. To voice and process their story, out loud, without the world weighing in.

Some stories are hard to hear. They are painful and gouge my soul.  It is hard not to crush under the weight of those stories. I don't pity the storyteller, but I do have compassion for them. I have respect and admiration for them. I feel special and unworthy to be privy to information that few people know. Why do people trust me with their story?

Because I ask. Tell me your story.

Simply put, I want to know people's stories. I want to know why they have made the decisions they have and why they are the person that they are today. I want to know why a certain scent can send someone back two decades in their memory. I want to know why they flinch, when surprised by someone too close to them. I want to know why they avoid what they avoid and why they embrace what they embrace.

I want to know people. Knowing what makes them cry, what makes them laugh, what makes them angry, what makes them cower in to understand them. If you understand someone, you can love them...and accept them...and support them, through whatever may come.

Being able to love and accept other people for their stories, allows me to love and accept myself...and my story.

Tell me your story.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy

What do you need to be happy? When you break your emotional well-being down to its very core, what is necessary for you to have in your life, for you to thrive?

Im a girl. My needs and wants are subject to change, based on the music playing on the radio at the moment, or the clothes I'm wearing that day. (Aren't women FUN?) 

Today, this is what I need to be happy...

I need to feel loved. I need laughter; I need to laugh and make others laugh. I need to feel wanted. I need consistency and follow through from other people. I need reassurance. I need hugs on bad days, without asking for them. I need to feel needed. I need to serve other people. I need to feel like I make a difference and that I've contributed to the greater good. I need to feel passion in my life; passion for others and passion for my career. I need the feeling of accomplishment and achievement. Big or small. I need to be allowed to be irrational...and then be allowed to say I'm sorry to whomever I hurt. I need to be working on a goal. Always. I need new experiences so I don't feel stagnant. 

I need people who allow me to be unapologetically ME.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Insane Courage

Courage has been on my mind lately. Why? No idea. But, like most everything else that plagues me, if I don't get it out...write it about eats at me until I do.  
"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.
Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery.
And I promise you, something great will come of it."
When faced with some trial in life, we build it up in our minds. We make it larger than it is and give it more power than it deserves. We create a worst case scenario and dwell on it, until it consumes us. We imagine the amount of courage that this trial will require to overcome...when in reality, it takes very little courage. All we need is a short burst of insane courage to say what we need to say, or jump in, or stand up.
It takes insane courage to say "I love you" or "I'm sorry". Just say it. Gather all your courage up into a tight ball and hurl it at the other person. It's up to them at that point, if they throw it back.
It takes insane courage to stand up to someone that you are intimidated by. Or to stand up for something that you feel strongly about. Insane courage, my friends. But, once you start can finish it. Do not be mean. Do not be condescending. Be truthful. Stand your ground.
Living your true life. Being unapologetically you. Super hard, right? Not everyone will agree with choices you make in your life. From who you love, to where you go to school, to which house you buy, to how you cut your hair...everyone has an opinion. This can take insane courage, almost daily, but in big giant bursts. Once you announce that this is who you are and these are your choices, to someone, you no longer have to carry the weight of being something you are not. The other person now has to choose how to handle the information.

Scary things in life are rarely as big as we make them, in our heads. The less power  you give scary things, the more power and courage you have for facing hard things. You can do hard things. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Peanut!

Dear Peanut,
Happy birthday, my baby girl. The last five years have flown by! This year you have transformed into a little person with your own thoughts, ideas and sense of humor. You definitely get your sense of humor from me...witty with just enough sass. ;)
You are so incredibly smart, my girl. You impress me with how quickly you pick up concepts and your understanding of sarcasm. You will stand up to anyone, no matter how big or small; your fiery temperament tells me that you will not let people push you around and for that...I am thankful. You are also so incredibly tender. You are the first one to great me with hugs and kisses and you love to hold my hand. You randomly spout off, "Mom! You're the best!" or "Mom! I love you this big!". It melts me into a mushy puddle.
My little caboose...I can't imagine a better way to complete a chapter of my life. You have been such a blessing to our family and to my soul. I love you, Peanut butter. To the moon and back. Happy, happy birthday.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nothing Can Prepare You

Nothing can prepare you for death. No amount of studying, no book, no lecture...nothing...can prepare you for how it feels to lose someone that you have cared for, for months.

I knew that eventually I would have my first death on my shift. I have come close, numerous times, to losing someone under my care. Residents that come in on hospice, that we expect to go at anytime...their death I could have dealt with well. I have comforted their families and I have cried with their families...not because I was close to this person, but because the look in their spouse's or children's eyes is all too familiar.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday was a resident I felt an attachment to. I knew this resident and I knew the family. I knew the tough decisions to be made and the struggles. I knew how this resident felt and I hated watching the process. Once decisions were made, I knew I wanted to be there. I had to be there. For the resident and for the family. I knew, that under my care, this resident would be at peace and comfortable. I knew the family would have all their needs met, while they spent the last few hours together. I'm sure any other nurse would have done the same thing, but I felt a sort of ownership of this situation and I wanted to be the one doing it all.

Nothing can prepare you for the range of emotions that you feel, as the nurse. Nothing can prepare you, when you realize today is different than previous days and that today...your interventions are not going to work. Nothing can prepare you for the realization that the last time you said good morning to someone, would be the last time that they would respond. Nothing can prepare you for the call, notifying family that they need to come. Now. Nothing can prepare you for the hard conversations.

Nothing can prepare you for how you can change, in an instance. Suddenly, you know exactly what to do. You know exactly what to say. You know how to comfort someone, watching their loved one go through the dying process. You know how to explain, at their level,  that everything they are seeing, is expected. You know how to reassure them that there is no pain. You know how to gently tell them that they don't need to be scared. You know how to involve them, gauged to their comfort, with the last few hours of cares. You know how to be confident, allowing them to lean on you. You know how to tuck away your own fears and insecurities and that all involved are receiving the best.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment that life eases out. For the bated breath that everyone in the room will have, as you place your stethoscope on someone's chest and where the rhythmic sound of life should be...there is silence. Nothing can prepare you for having to look their loved one in the eyes and gently shake your head. Nothing.

Nothing can prepare you for your own good-bye, after the family has gone. For a few stolen seconds, to stand in the fading sunlight through their window, hold their hand and silently thank them for letting you care for them. For allowing you to be present at their most intimate times.

Nothing can prepare you for the flood of emotions. Sadness. Peace. Gratitude. Love. Nothing can prepare you for the way that a death an instant...make you feel so alive.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Baby Ani

Two days ago, my baby was born.
Okay, so she isn't technically mine, but I love her like one of my own.
My best friend, Amey, and I have been friends longer in our lives, than we haven't. That is a lot of memories, experiences and fabulousness, over the last nearly two decades. One amazing thing we have always shared with each other, is the birth of our children. I still feel so privileged and awed, that she would allow me to share such a special day and moment with her and her husband.
Ani's birth story is Amey's. I won't go into details about everything that happened, because it's not my story to tell. Birth can be such an amazing thing...but it can also remind you so very quickly how miraculous the entire process is. It can remind you that while most deliveries go flawlessly...they don't always follow that path.
I hated being a nurse, the day Ani was born. I hated the knowledge I had, because I knew exactly what was happening. There was no placating me with a smile from the medical team, because I read behind the smile. I saw the stress and concern, on all their faces. I knew what the medications and procedures were for. I knew what the worst case scenario could be. I knew what the absolute worst case scenario could be. Ignorance is bliss, when a person you love is the one at stake.
I admit it...I panicked. Inside. I wanted to fix it...and I couldn't. I wanted the entire scene unfolding before me to go away...but it didn't. I questioned ever wanting to go into labor and delivery as a career choice, because I could barely hold it together. I know now that I could have held it together flawlessly, if it hadn't been Amey. I left the hospital that day...and cried. Everyone was fine. Everyone is fine. But I wasn't. I don't like the feeling of helplessness and I don't like being scared. I hold it together for everyone around me...I don't like to lose control...and I felt completely out of control at that moment.
I'm so happy that everything turned out the way it did. I'm relieved that out of a worst case scenario, came the best result. I'm thankful that all of the births we have shared in the past, have been relatively easy. Every baby is a miracle...including Miss Ani...and so is her Momma. ♥
AniLerrie Kendrienne
7 lbs 8 oz 19.5 in

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Bald and the Beautiful...Six Years Later

Six Years Ago

 To read the original newspaper article, click here.

I still haven't really cut my hair. It has been trimmed and it has been dyed and it has been layered...but I have yet to whack off a good chunk, since the day I went under the razor. I have this plan that when I finally do cut it, it will be long enough to donate to Locks of Love. I just haven't found the courage to do it yet.

I don't regret doing it; I didn't then and I don't know. I'm thankful that we all got to share that amazing day with her. Her laughter and love has been a huge void in our lives, for four years now. I would do it again, in a heartbeat, if it meant one more day with Mom. One hug. One moment.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Carter

Dear Carter,

Happy 5th birthday, my Little One. You have been on my mind a lot lately, as your birthday has approached. I still sense your presence around me, at times, and it makes me smile. Luke still brings you up the most...I have a feeling you must visit him more often than the girls.

I ran my half marathon this year, Little One. Whenever I felt too tired and wanted to give up, I talked to you. You ran with me a lot during training and I knew you wouldn't let me down on the big day. I knew you were there. Thank you for holding my hand and pulling me along. I couldn't have done it without you.

It has been a hard year, Little One. School is challenging and pushes me to my limits every single day. I almost had to care for a Mom in the PACU, that was waking up from her D&C. I was thankful that she wasn't out of surgery before I had to go for the day. It would have been too hard, to watch her open her eyes and see her face shatter, as reality settles back in through the anesthetic haze. I remember all too well, waking up and crying out...knowing in that instant that you were really gone.

Watch over us, Little One. Celebrate your birthday in Heaven, knowing that we would give anything to have you here with us. Bounce on a cloud, dance on a star...and never forget how much I love you.


Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm Proud Of Her

I don't shock easily. Not much throws me off my game, these days. I mean, once you've had your hand inside someone's abdomen, there really is nothing else. If that didn't shake me, what would?

My kid.

I had a conversation with the twelve year old last Friday that rocked my foundation a bit. I was once again so proud. So pleased that my child will seemingly talk to me about anything. As I've raised her (them) that has been a huge to me. You can tell me anything. I won't judge. I won't yell. I won't get mad. Just talk to me. With that said...I felt like I had walked into some after school special.

I won't go into details, because the conversation involves more than just her, but I was so incredibly proud of her for telling me. I felt in that instant, that maybe I'm not the failure of a Mom that I worry I am half the time. This "almost teenager" crap is hard work, my friends. Hard. Work.

Today, this story got deeper. She took every ounce of courage that she had in her willowy little body and did the right thing. The hard thing. The challenging thing. I have no doubt that because of this act of bravery, she saved someone's life today.

Listen to your children, parents. Even if they jabber on endlessly about who wore what and who is dating who and how the fruit at lunch was gross and they never. seem. to. stop. talking. Listen to them. Because eventually...they won't be jabbering. There won't be an endless flow of girly chatter. They will be sharing with you a worry and a burden that is too large for them to carry by themselves. They will need your guidance and your support. They will need to be wrapped up in a huge hug and told "I'm proud of you. You did the right thing."