Posts Tagged ‘Deep Thoughts’

Reflections

January 28, 2010

So I’ve been back 4 days now from LA, and I still can’t get my body back in tune with East coast time. Or maybe the exhaustion hasn’t completely left my body. I already feel like I am 3 weeks behind in everything I need to do, with no time to catch up on sleep or work…… 2010 just starts and time is flying by!!

Everyday since I’ve been back, there is something new I find in my daily activities to be thankful for. I feel like that is one of the best ways I can pay respects to Drew for the beautiful gift he shared with me – his life. It’s crazy because today it hit me like a ton of bricks. A few “incidents” happened today that really tested my nerves and my patience. What pushed me over the edge with them was priorities, realizations. These “incidents” are so meaningless, and stupid compared to the battles Drew faces on a daily basis. I was reading the latest People magazine and the cover was Heidi Montag and all of her plastic surgery. In the article she talked about how it really tested her marriage because Spencer had to pull down her pants for her to go to the bathroom. REALLY??? I thought I had one up because with my MS, my mom has had to carry me to the bathroom, so did my ex-husband. But that is truly nothing compared to what Drew has endured.

So, as I struggle to get back “normal” life here in Atlanta (my heart still feels like it went thru the Powerman…) here is what I know: I am a lucky person to know Drew Bates. I am humbled for being around him. For all of you out there that are just “friends” with him on facebook, I challenge you to really get to know him. See what he is all about, and how you can be a part of what will one day be his incredible empire. Make sure the ones you love know that you love them. Life can change so dramatically, so quickly. Hug them, kiss them, don’t go to bed mad at them. Let the small stuff go. Have no regets. Live your life to the absolute fullest it can be. Be thankful for every breathe you take, because you never know when it will be your last.

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Leaving LA

January 24, 2010

It breaks my heart seeing Drew leave LA. I feel like I’m dragging a kid out of the toy store. Drew and I shared a personal moment with him talking on the video about what he was disappointed about. Make no mistake, there was NO disappointment on the activities of the week. His disappointment lies with _______ well, I’ll let you wait and see that one once the documentary is done. I guarantee you, it will bring a tear to your eye and touch a place in your soul. For someone who has such a tough exterior, there is a soft side in there.

As I’m writing this I’m listening to my iPod, Needtobreathe. And the song, “The Heat” comes on, just as magically as the Josh Grobin song came on when I was flying out here…..
Let the drumbeats wash you over
Let the songs come and take you under
Push the life that brought you here, away from you tonight
There’s a place where the pain can’t touch ya
And there’s a fire where the heat won’t burn ya
It’s in the sound of your voice tonight singing in one song

You get a headache and you can take an advil. You break a bone, and the doc may give you a stronger pain pill. That doesn’t even begin to touch the pain Drew lives in. I look over at the goofball and he is dancing in his seat. He can always make me laugh. Change is inevitable, Drew is proof that you can survive it. Families are forever. No matter what you do, no matter what happens. Family is there. Family is love.

I am so thankful to add John and Joe to my family. This week is something I will never forget. And no words I write will ever do this justice. One day Drew, we will find that place where the pain can’t touch you.

Confession Time…..Saturday Morning

January 23, 2010

I’m sure at this point when people read this on my blog they are going to hate me. How in the world can I even begin to complain or have a complaint? I’m on the trip of a lifetime, getting the opportunity of a lifetime – to see and experience events few non-celebrity people get to do. I’m traveling with a quadrapalegic who would probably love to feel pain in his legs, to feel anything in his legs….. Yet, it’s saturday morning, and I have another confession to make……..

I just don’t know how much more my arms and legs can lift. They are so tired, they’re turning into noodles. I haven’t lifted anything over 15 pounds since before December 2009, so this week has felt like I’m training for the Ironman Competition. And even though I am clearly struggling, Drew seems to have the utmost patience with me when I screw things up.

I have so much respect for him and his family right now. Really gives me a new appreciation of what my parents have dealt with throughout all my medical mishaps. As soon as I want to complain I just look over at Drew, and my mind cannot begin to understand or comprehend what life is like for him. I hate confessions. I hate that I even think these thoughts of weakness.

Confession Time…..Friday Morning

January 22, 2010

I woke up so tired and sore. I can feel my legs starting to shut down. I can feel I’ve put too much stress on my heart, fluid is backing up in my chest like there is a running facet inside there. And I feel like the most selfish, vain bitch for even feeling this way. I guess maybe by writing it I’m not saying it out loud, as if that makes this any better. I don’t have the right to complain. Drew can’t feel his legs, can’t move his legs. I’m trying so hard to help with moving him in/out of his wheelchair, getting him dressed and I feel like this weakling. As I blow dry my hair I can’t stop my eyes from watering up. I don’t want Drew to see me crying. I’m sitting here frustrated because my legs are tired and my heart is exhausted. And Drew is in a wheelchair.

Just as I am about to hit rock bottom from the guilt of feeling sorry for myself Drew starts laughing. He’s watching some of the video I took last night at his party. That smile lights up my heart. That laugh lets my body know it will be okay, it can make it. Despite the bruises, the aches, the pains – I will be okay. If he can have the strength to survive on an icy road, I can muster up the strength to continue doing this.

Alone

January 20, 2010

I actually wrote this Tuesday night, just didn’t have time to post it….

Drew wanted a little alone time tonight to decompress, so Melissa and I went to the bar for a few drinks. A very harsh reality set in with me. Drew can’t go to sleep until we come back to the room. He can’t just say, “Okay, I’ve had enough for today” and call it an early night. Just about every move he makes depends on someone else. When’s the last time you laid down to take a nap? Remember how good that felt? Well, next time remember that nap is a LUXURY you take for granted everytime you lay your precious little head on that pillow. And what about that night you spent tossing and turning because you couldn’t sleep. You probably woke up the next day complaining about the bad night’s sleep you had. I know I have! The ability to toss and turn in your sleep is another LUXURY you take for granted.

As I’m writing this, Drew calls out for me – Did he take his night medicine? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to take my medicine. But here’s the difference – I forget, I get up out of bed, go to my bathroom and take my medicine. He can’t. Someone has to put the pills in his mouth. I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for him. Trust me, that is the LAST thing Drew wants. I’m writing this because of the basic functions we have in everyday life that all os us take for granted. And while he is literally busting his ass so that he’s not just another number on disability, working every breathing moment he has to make something out of himself so that people don’t see him as Drew the quad but Drew the brilliant artist, CNN is reporting about what message Michelle Obama’s fashion choices are sending America!! Really?? Are you serious?? Seems like we need to get our priorities straight. Maybe CNN needs some time alone to decompress!!!

The Flight to LA

January 17, 2010

First, can I just tell you how silly excited I am about this trip to LA. I’m going with Drew and his sister Melissa for a little vacation and to get some business done – get Redneck Ninja’s pitched!! Drew called me a little ball of energy when I met them at the bar, I think part of that was the entire pot of coffee I drank. Ha!

I’m reading this article on the flight about Anderson Cooper. In it he says, “You can’t predict how you’re going to respond when someone starts shooting or when suddenly your rights are taken away.” It immediately takes me back to my trip to Pakistan. When the very freedoms our soldiers are fighting for I lost the second I landed on foreign soil. The fear that invades you just by stepping outside to stretch your legs and walk down the street – will I get shot? kidnapped? As my mind was taking a dreadful walk down memory lane, Josh Grobin’s song “You Raise Me Up” comes on my iPod (yes, I know….a little girlish, but he has a great voice!) and I look over at Drew peacefully sleeping. It hits me that we also don’t know how we will react in the face of adversity. When you run into that brick wall called reality that you can’t move from the neck down. All of a sudden I feel like I’m in some Hollywood drama – listening to this song and tearing up over how surreal this moment is. I am going on the trip of a lifetime, getting this opportunity of a lifetime because of Drew. A man who can’t raise his own legs because of quadriplegia has raised up my hopes and spirits for the future. And while I have my Flip video camera to document things, it is not possible to capture this moment. “You raise me up to more than I can be.”

As I’m trying to soak all this in and hold it together so people don’t think I’m crazy, the rest of first class is worried about the score of the Minnesota – Dallas game. This may be one of the few times in my life I honestly don’t care about football. (besides, my Colts won yesterday…..)

Now I’m brought back to my own personal reality as I start to sneeze watching the flight attendant bring me another drink. Where is my Zyrtec??? I guess no matter how hard we fight it, we end up like our own mothers…. allergic to alcohol!!

Time to enjoy my next drink, find a good show on the tv to watch and we’ll be in LA soon!!

Cliff Jumping

November 6, 2009

If you read this blog consistently then you’ve seen a few reoccurring quotes that I love. One of the big one’s being “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.  And given that dancing is such a passion of mine, I’ve just kinda grabbed hold of this quote and ran with it. I even have a plaque with that quote on it hung up in my place…..

Last Saturday night, I found a new passion that I’m going to grab hold of and just run with it. That night I proudly sat in the audience and watched as my cousin, Jeanie, received her medal for 2 years being sober. There are only a handful of moments in my life that have truly taken my breath away – and this was one of them. Earlier this year I was humbled to have the honor of watching Jeanie as she told her story of her addictions and her journey to sobriety. But that journey didn’t stop there and it doesn’t stop as of Saturday night. That journey is one she has to make the decision to continue everyday when she wakes up. And for anyone out there reading this who thinks battling an addiction is easy or just simply “you stop doing it”, then I urge you to attend a meeting and listen to someone’s story. It truly is a fight against your demons everyday, but more beautifully it is such a testimony of just trusting in God and giving your battles over to Him.

“When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go.
Only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He’ll catch you when you fall, or He’ll teach you how to fly!”

From hearing Jeanie’s story before I was touched by how much it was truly the grace of God that my cousin is still alive today. But what took my breath away on Saturday was seeing how my cousin had completely let go when she got to edge of that cliff and fully trusted God. Not only had He caught her, He taught her how to fly. Seeing God work His promises right before your eyes is not only beautiful and amazing, it’s just breathtaking! And now Jeanie is being a strong example for other new people who walk into that room on a Saturday night feeling lost, feeling lonely, feeling that they have no other options that it can be okay, that you can beat this demon, that you can get and stay sober.

Henry Miller said, “True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself.” To me this is what being a Christian is about. Submission to dedicate ourselves to something beyond ourselves – to God. And that is one of the underlying principles in the Saturday Night Live group – you can’t do this without God.  And what an example of strength to make that jump fully trusting in God, not knowing how or where you’re going to land – just knowing He will be there beside you. The Anonymous part of the group is true anonymity, so I will not write about anything else that was said that night outside of Jeanie (because I have her permission) to keep the integrity of the group. What I will say, though, is I now understand why you are Jeanie’s family. You are a HUGE part of what got her to 2 years and I look forward to being there for every year after this one. And that also makes you a part of my family. Jeanie – I am so proud of you, your example and strength is an inspiration to me.

God tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He will strengthen and protect us. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna start going cliff jumping!!

Taking the Blinders Off

October 24, 2009

How many times have we listened to friends talk about their relationships and we can see it’s the wrong one or something is just not right, but they play the “ignorance is bliss” card on us? And we’ll say, you need to take those blinders off. Why is it so hard to take those blinders off? Why are we so scared to see what is right there in front of us?

A friend of mine on facebook always does these great inspirational messages. Yesterday morning she posted an awesome one:  Albert Einstein said: “Most people see what is, and never see what can be”. So I ask you, family to uncover those eyes; explore the possibilities and you will be amaze of all the beautiful things around you. Have faith in what God promise you… and walk in it.

I can’t get this message out of my head. People see what is, and never see what can be. I guess sometimes we lose the forrest for the trees. Happiness could be right there in front of you but you’re too afraid to grab a hold of it. The answers to your questions, the possibilities – right in front of your eyes, but we refuse to uncover them. Maybe it’s because we get stuck in a holding pattern of our everyday lives. Or, we don’t believe we deserve better, or that there truly is better out there.

I am just as guilty about having blinders on in my own life. You get comfortable in your everyday routine, you get complacent that “this” is all there is to life. I’m trying to take my blinders off, looking at the bigger picture and take a chance. In doing so I have gotten hurt, but ya know- no regrets. No risk, no reward – right? But if I don’t take the blinders off, then I stay complacent in the life I have – and I know there is more for me out there. Taking the blinders off isn’t just about analyzing the romantic relationships in your life, it’s also about the friendships that may be poisonous, it’s about life opportunities that could be passing you by…..

So, I’m going to try to keep the blinders off in my life. And I hope you will start to do the same.

Wrestling Demons

October 16, 2009

Ok, so most of my fighting matches and blogs have been centered around karate, but this one is going to be a little different. Inside all of us are demons we are constantly battling to be the better person we know we can be. The demons that whisper good-for-nothing temptations in your ears. The demons that just curl themselves up in a suitcase for you to carry as extra baggage all your life until you decide to deal with it, until you decide to wrestle.

The big demon I am wrestling right now is Mr.Sandman. You have infiltrated my dreams long enough to no avail. You gave me hopes and beliefs that were not grounded in anything but mirages. And like a camel walking to water, I ran straight to your mirage with open arms, only to end up grabbing at empty air. Just like the feeling you left in my heart – empty. You sprinkled your magic dust in my mind to dream that the universe would grant me that one more wish, only to wake up with a haunted halo.

“Confront the dark parts of your self and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strengths.” – August Wilson

Everyday when I wake up I have demons to wrestle – will I be able to walk, will I make it through the day without a seizure, will I be able to breathe, will I have extra fluid in my chest from my heart. Will I be strong enough to fight it all off, still keep a smile on my face and keep my focus on where I am going in life. Will I truly have the strength to not give up on my fight. Will I be smart enough to make it to where I need to go. Will I know that I’m not all alone when there’s no one there to hold my hand. Will I wake up alive. Will my heart function okay on its own. Maybe that’s the difference between you and me, Mr.Sandman. I don’t have a choice. These demons wait patiently for me as I sleep and seem to be several cups of coffee ahead of me when I wake up. So ready or not, they attack as soon as I get out of bed. Whereas you can simply pack all of your demons in that luggage you carry around. But battling these demons makes me stronger. Battling these demons makes me a better person.  Battling these demons keeps me alive. And soon enough, these demons will get tired of wrestling with me and will move on to the next soul to haunt. And the fact that I am brave enough to get up and fight them everyday, makes my angels sing even louder and motivates me even more.

So, Mr.Sandman, what’s your excuse? What do you possibly have to hide behind? What could be so terrifying that it is greater than life? You know what your demons are. You know the door is right there to walk through to get your battle started, so what’s holding you back? What are you so scared of? That you might actually become a better person, that you might actually feel happy and more alive than you ever felt before? That you might experience some relief from not carrying around all that baggage? (because I promise you, it’s a hell of a lot lighter load) That maybe it’s time for you to finally grow up? That maybe your two regrets don’t have to be regrets but actually dreams you make come true? You are the only one in charge of your own happiness. So own it!

Here’s one thing I do know, when God sends us down strong paths He gives us strong shoes. I happen to also have a pretty good pair of boxing gloves. But in true martial arts fashion – you have to be good on your feet and on the ground. So I keep my demons guessing all the time on what angle I’ll hit them with. You have to figure out what artillery you need to fight your demons. And as angry as I am that you have crossed over the line to the other side to be my demon versus the sweet something to look forward to in my dreams, I wish you all the best with your fight. And hope you find your peace.

Poker Face

October 15, 2009

Several years ago I tried my hand at poker in Las Vegas. Yeah…. let’s just say I lost some money. Guess that means I’m not that great of a poker player. I think one quality that makes a good poker player is the ability to count cards. To know how the deck is stacked against them, or what cards are left you may have left to play with. To me, this is a very important part of the game. If you can’t, then you could easily get blindsided with a pair of Aces you just can’t compete against. Another quality of a good poker player is having that all stoic poker face. Guess that’s why a lot of professional poker players wear sunglasses. You can read so much in someone’s eyes – so why not keep them hidden from the rest of the world? Right.

Well, if those two qualities make a good poker player, then I think it’s pretty obvious why I suck at this game. While I am great at reading the enemy (or for most times the competition), when it comes to matters of the heart, I can never properly count the deck or even see when the deck was so clearly stacked against me that I had no way of winning straight out of the gate. The passionate nature in me makes it impossible for me to keep expressions off my face. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And even in the darkest pair of Prada sunglasses, you will see the pain, hurt and emptiness resonate brightly through my eyes when I have lost, or am about to lose.

In the book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” How profound that is. I can’t change the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis. There is no cure for it. But what I can do is change everyday how I play my hand depending on the cards MS wants to deal me. And over the years I feel I have become quite the master at this one. You dealt me a hand that would take away my legs. I called your bluff and got them back only with a pair of crazy eight’s!! Every hand you have dealt me, I have methodically, carefully, yet strategically played my way through to where I held the winning card in the end. (why some of this wisdom didn’t carry over to Las Vegas, I know not….) Since I was winning so much there, you decided to raise the stakes on me and deal me a new hand with a failing heart. And right now we are still playing this particular round of poker….. but I’m feeling pretty confident.

The irony here is that I can count how the deck is stacked against me with MS, and I’m slowly but surely getting there with my heart. But when it comes to love, I am the worst poker player around. The cards are dealt and I didn’t even count to see the critical ones that were left to be played. The cards that would make it impossible for me to win. See, the deck was stacked to where I had no chance of ever winning this particular hand. And since I wear my heart on my sleeve, my opponent was able to read my hand without me ever uttering a word. Strike two!! But being the daring and competive person I am, I raised up the anty – all or nothing! But he drew the Queen of Diamonds, and for this round – that was all he needed to kill my hand. Strike three! Maybe we’ll meet again at the poker table, maybe not. Maybe I’ll entertain another match one day, maybe not. Maybe I’ll stop playing cards all together and just stick with chess…..

What I do know is that while my card game is clearly up on this poker table, I still love to play and will move on to the next interesting gamble I can make here in Vegas. But let me leave the winner of this last hand with one piece of advice, and this comes straight from the Eagles – “Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds boy, she’ll beat you if she’s able. You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.” Your Queen of Diamonds may have won out for this ONE hand, but always remember that you can never lose when you bet on the Queen of Hearts. Even being down a hand, in the end, she’s always the winner. Too bad your sunglasses are a little too dark to see that. Maybe that poker face doesn’t help you win just as much as you think.