Get out your wellies boys and girls. This one is gonna get a little deep.
I believe that most everything happens for a reason. I think that we are all heading towards a sort of incredibly vague predetermined destiny. Some people may find that comforting, others perhaps not. I’m indifferent. But it does play into this theory of mine quite nicely.
Most people have experienced Deja Vu at some point in their lives. It’s a fairly common phenomenon. But I seem to have it regularly. Maybe once or twice every couple of weeks. Only, I’m not certain that’s what I’d consider it really. When this experience occurs I dont have the feeling that I have been in that exact space before. It’s not about space for me. It is about the lighting, the smells, the sounds, the people, the entire experience in that split second. It’s not something happening “again”. Instead it’s something I had, at some point, dreamt of happening. A premonition.
When these moments happen, I relish them. I close my eyes and will it to last longer. This sudden and fleeting sense is what I like to think of as a “checkpoint”. It’s a little blip in time that confirms I’ve made the right choices. I’m on the right path. That all my stars are aligning just so. And I find that astoundingly comforting.
I had a “checkpoint” moment yesterday. I had just gotten home from work. My baby was in his walker and we were in the kitchen. He and I have been in those exact spots countless times. But yesterday was different. The familiar and exciting feeling came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes for a moment. Then looked at my son and smiled. Believing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be is one the most gratifying sensations there is.
Do you believe in signs? That things happen for a reason? And do you believe that every once in a while, the stars can align in such a way that the thought of it all just being a mere coincidence is more preposterous than believing that it was fate? I do.
I’ve been writing posts for this blog for over two years. How time flies. I started this blog soon after a terrible accident my brother was in. One that could’ve had a much different outcome if those stars hadn’t aligned in just such a way.
On October 6th, 2016 my brother, an arborist, was working in a large field with a couple of other crew members. His foreman had left to empty the dump truck and the other guy was operating the skidder just slightly out of eyesight due to a small hill. My brother, returning from a different task saw the chipper was loaded with brush and started it. What he didn’t know was that the winch line hadn’t been wound back up before the brush had been set on top of it. And when he started the machine, the line became untangled from the brush and wrapped around his legs pulling him into the mouth of the chipper.
First Star – My brother was holding onto the emergency reverse lever when he started the machine.
Second Star – The sheer force of the line wrapping around him and pulling him was enough to break both femurs, causing extensive damage to his tissue, arteries, and nerves in both legs, just above the knee. Somehow, not only did he not go unconscious but he managed to untangle the line, climb down from the chipper, and army crawl up the hill to flag down his co-worker on the skidder.
Third Star – He had spent some time in the fire service and had medical training. Even with everything going on, he remained calm. He knew that he needed to get his legs elevated so as to slow blood loss. He gave his co-worker clear direction as to what to do. How and where to put pressure. And he had his co-worker ask the 911 dispatcher for life-flight.
Fourth Star – They were working in a field in the middle of nowhere. When the call came into the the EMS dispatch, the town paramedics were just around the corner. They were returning from an earlier call instead of at the station 15 minutes away.
Fifth Star – The closest hospital was a small one in the town of Bridgeton. The ambulance had planned to meet Life Flight there. But when they arrived, the helicopter was still about 10 minutes out. My brother needed blood badly, so they brought him inside. They knew that his injuries were more extensive than the hospital was equipped for, but something was better than nothing. They wheeled him into a trauma bay and hauled out a special machine. A while back they had received a grant to get it. It was for rapid blood transfusions. My brother was the first person to use it. He received 107 units of blood that day. And just for some perspective, the human body holds between 8-12 units or pints, of blood. We were told that it could very well be a record. Most blood given and survived.
As soon as he was fully conscious, people either came to check on him, or he went to meet the people who saved his life. My brother remembered bits and pieces of what happened but as we met the paramedics, firefighters, the life-flight team, the nurses, and doctors from both hospitals – each one added different pieces to puzzle. A different star, if you will. All of the things that JJ couldn’t remember. And everyone he met looked at him in astonishment. Every single one made it clear that they weren’t sure how it was going to end when they left him. And, inevitably, they all said something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t been around the corner” or “If we hadn’t have gotten that blood machine” and of course, “if you didn’t have your hand on that reverse bar”
Just before the first anniversary of my brother’s accident I had determined that I wanted to shift the focus of my blog. But I was worried. I didn’t really know what I should write about, or if I should continue to write at all. I really enjoyed it. The act of it and how I felt after each post, but I just didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt. But, I had written a post in the very beginning about how I didn’t want this blog to be something I quit. A hobby or project I give up on, like so so many that I had in the past.
I wanted to get better at writing before I threw in the towel. And so, I googled “Best books on learning how to write”, and at the top of every list was “On Writing” by Stephen King. I was hesitant. I had never read one of his books. I don’t care for the horror genre, but I downloaded the audio version and was immediately immersed. It was witty and thoughtful. I found myself sitting in the car for 15 minutes or more after I arrived wherever I was heading just to listen.
The book was coming to end and I had learned a lot. But still was unsure of my blogging future. I hadn’t posted anything in ages. With 28 minutes left of the book, I pulled into my driveway. And as I went to turn off the car I heard something that got my attention. He was talking about an accident he was in. He was walking in Fryeburg, Maine and was hit by a car. He was taken to Bridgeton hospital. The same little hospital the ambulance had taken JJ to meet life-flight. I said “Huh”. Not too weird I guess. But he went on to say he was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center. I stared at the radio of my car skeptically. “So had JJ”, I thought. And as he continued my eyes got wider and wider. When he arrived, his doctor was a man by the name of Dr. Brown. That was my brother’s doctor. The first of many to perform surgery on JJ. He’s had 26 in all. And finally, Stephen King described his injuries, the accompanying surgeries and treatments during his recovery. Between the extensive fasciotomies and the external fixator used to put him back together, the same exact procedures done to my brother. It all left me shock.
Was this a sign? Stars aligning perhaps? I started to blog because of this incredible situation that happened. I needed an outlet; this was my therapy. And when I started doubting my ability and worrying what I was going to write about. When I had come to a possible impasse. I get this book as a last ditch effort to help me find a purpose for this blog and writing in general. And in the final moments of it, Stephen King himself, reiterates the very details surrounding why I started writing in the first place. It felt as if it had come full circle.
Now, I am a fatalist, for better or worse. But I do try to check in with the realist side of myself. To second guess the relevancy of the situation. But in the end, serendipity reigns. And whether this was in fact, stars aligning or if perhaps this turns out to be just a theory of convenience, we’ll never know. And I’m ok with that. So, for now, I’ll keep writing.
This came up in my newsfeed a while back. I read all 312 comments. There were some common themes.
To grandmother – “See mom, this is why I want to take pictures of you”
To spouse – “Honey, please take more photos of me and the kids”
and most poignantly:
“I need to work on this.”
I do need to work on this. And I think I’ve made the first steps. This blog post is, by far, the most personal I’ve ever written. I’ve never shared these photos. Nobody has ever seen the selfie, not even my husband. Up until 2 weeks ago, we didn’t have a single photo of my husband and I with our baby. He will be 8 months old on the 13th of this month.
When my husband proposed, I immediately started planning our wedding. I had worked in the industry and knew the vendors I wanted to use. We had a budget and when we were going over everything, the idea of a photographer was mentioned. I hadn’t planned on having one. This hurt my husband’s feelings so badly. So much so in fact, that he said “why have a wedding?” Seeing how strongly he felt, I actually saw a therapist to help get over the extreme anxiety of having my photo taken.
It did help. We hired a photographer. A friend and colleague of my mothers. Oh yeah, did I mention my mother is a photographer? When I got the photos, I cried. Not because of how beautiful they were – but how terrible I thought I looked. I didn’t post them to social media and didn’t share them with anyone.
I have purposefully and conveniently led a life a living in the moment. Truly only because of how self-conscious I am. I would never suggest taking a photo of a friend or an event, an occasion. Anything. Because that would have inevitably led to someone saying “You get it in it too, Darci” . And then where would I be? Uncomfortable, half-heartedly smiling and looking awkward. And dreading the inevitable moment when, after the picture was taken everyone would go and check to see how it came out. I never needed to look. I always knew the answer.
And now, on top of struggling with my own self-conscious; I’m having a hard time remembering to take photos. Even with a camera at my literal fingertips, I forget to take photos. Don’t get me wrong, I have hundreds of my son. But those special moments, whether be a first milestone, or a photo with a family member. Something out of the ordinary that would be truly special – I drop the ball. Can consciously, consistently not doing something become a habit? Has a lifetime of purposefully not taking photos become a habit? I worry that may be the case.
I promise you, this is not me having a pity party, or looking for compliments. I don’t know what to call it or define it as. I really, truly don’t. But the intensity of the feeling demands to be acknowledged. As I said at the beginning: Moving past these feelings is something that I am going to make a conscious effort at. I can’t put into words how hard this blog post has been to write. It has been in my drafts since August. And today, I will finish it. This is the first step. And as I look at the photo below, I can feel my blood pressure rising. The anxiety creeping in. I hate this last photo of me, but love it of my husband and baby. This is the only photo of the 3 of us. We had our baby baptized a couple of weeks ago.
I need to know: Is this common? Do others feel this way? I can only assume by the number of comments on the Facebook post above it is. Give me your feedback. Tell me your experience. Fill me in on the secret of how to overcome it. Please, I’m all ears, err eyes.
This is our view from Nikola’s room at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Our baby was admitted this past Thursday because of a mysterious fever, rash, fussiness combo. Since becoming a mom I have googled everything under the sun related to babies, but this one was too scary. Their initial concern was Bacterial Meningitis. It takes 48 hours for the results from the spinal tap to come back. So while their concern is immediate, the results are not. It has been a long couple of days. When he was born and in the NICU things were tough. But at no point was he in pain. This time, that hasn’t been the case. So many tests, pokes, and prods. It took more than six hours for the doctors to collect all of the different fluids they’d need. Nikola cried most of that time. And so did we. The feeling you get when your child is in pain is just as indescribable as the amount of love you have for them. I had to prop myself up against a wall, the crying was uncontrollable. Hence, the crying hangover. I haven’t had one since I had to leave the hospital without him when he was born. And before that, it was my brother’s accident. They are every bit as awful as the ones induced by alcohol. Just a lot sadder.
But we got some great news a little while ago. His Doctor came in and said that everything had come back negative. They don’t know the exact cause of the fever but are considering it a viral infection most likely picked up at daycare. Effing daycare. We should be able to go home later today.
A few people have asked lately if I was still blogging. During the pregnancy I had terrible pregnancy brain, I could barely form sentences let alone put together a coherent blog post. And since giving birth, well, I’ve been a little busy.
But more than either of those reasons I worried I didn’t have anything to say. I thought that my experiences and opinions weren’t of value because I’m so new to the role of Mom. But all of the research I’ve done for everything from best diaper bags to infant cognitive milestones has largely been based on a matter of opinion. Even doctors opinions differ. To our great frustration, I might add. Just today we’ve been told that he’d be going home at 1 and then were told that it would be 6. An RN just came in 15 minutes ago and mentioned something about tomorrow. Nothing has changed in Nikolas condition throughout the day, just the doctor at shift change.
So maybe my opinion on Dr. Brown’s bottles would be of value to someone. Or maybe sharing our experience of having a baby in the NICU or even the experience we’re having now could help someone. Somewhere. At some point.
I’m pregnant. After 2 years and 11 months of trying, my husband and I finally got a positive pregnancy test. We spent a lot of money on sticks that I had to pee on, went to doctors, had fertility tests (all came back fine), and even tried in vitro. All with no luck. But, as of 2 days ago, we are 17 weeks pregnant.
We found out the morning of October 11th. The day we left for our trip to Macedonia. I was about 5 days late at that point. I’m a superstitious person and after not just months, but literally years of getting excited every 28 days, and taking a test early only to be disappointed, I resolved to wait. Wait until I was really late, like reeeaallly late. I didn’t want to jinx it. My husband Kruno was getting more and more excited as those late days passed by. When I did take the test, I didn’t tell him what I was doing. It came back positive almost immediately. I called for him to come to the bathroom. Drudgingly, he came. He thought I needed him in to kill a bug. I showed him the test and excitement ensued.
The last 17 weeks have been enlightening. I learn something new every day. About my body, my abilities or lack thereof, and places I can, all of sudden, no longer comfortably reach because of my growing size.
And with every minute of research I’ve done since that positive test, I’ve become more and more aware that I know nothing about pregnancy, labor, and perhaps even babies. And I’d like to share with you all some of the more interesting revelations I’ve had.
WHATS HAPPENING TO ME???
This question came early and often. Google became my most used app. How could I have been so clueless? In movies and TV, pregnant women are portrayed in a certain way. Emotional. Vomiting, Bitchy. I thought I was mentally prepared for all of it, but the other symptoms and the pure intensity hit me like a wrecking ball
I get so emotional, baby…
The first to rear its ugly head was the elevated hormones. I’m an emotional person to begin with. But I naively thought “How much worse could this get?” Well… Let me tell ya.
Every emotion I feel, I feel it times a hundred, maybe even a thousand. If I’m sad, it borders on devastation. If I’m angry, watch out. But the most notable change is that I am loving harder. I love people HARD. Wicked hard. Over this past holiday, I looked at my young nephews, I just wanted to grab them and not let go. I wanted to look them square in the eyes and say sternly ” I love you, dammit!” (Picture Rhett Butler saying that to Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the wind”. But, I thought better of it. The boys are young and I didn’t want to scare the shit out of them.) And when I left my grandmothers house to come back home, I cried for a long time. She lives just a few hours away. I can go see her any weekend. And as I’m typing this, thinking about how much I love these people and how much I miss them, I’m crying. I’m a mess.
And my crying has changed. The act of it itself. These crying spells last forever. My tears have even gotten bigger. The amount of fluid that is falling from my eyeballs is astounding. My tears are the size of nickles, I kid you not. Isn’t that weird? Has anyone else experienced that while pregnant? And because of all these things. The dehydration from the size and quantity of tears, and the ease at which I cry, I have had to completely change how and when I view things. For example, I’m spending far less time on Facebook these days. I used to love watching the heart-warming videos. that would populate my newsfeed. But no more. I can’t risk it. I also haven’t been able to watch several episodes of “This is us”. I watched a few at the beginning of the season, but when I saw the previews of the one where Kate has a miscarriage, all bets were off. Now the second part of the season is supposed to start and I’m in a pickle. Do I devote an entire day to catching up on the season? Let’s do that math: 4 episodes I missed = 4 hours of viewing. + 2 hours of crying time (conservatively) + 1 hour of recuperation to let the puffiness in my face dissipate. That’s a big commitment.
My body is a wonderland
No, no it isn’t. While it is mystifying me these days, I don’t think that’s what John Mayer meant. You can read Pinterest posts, join the community group chats in your pregnancy apps and read “What to expect when you’re expecting” all you want, but I guarantee you, something is going to happen that will throw you for a loop. From my albeit brief experience, I’ve come to realize that it’s important to use the mentioned resources as merely a guideline. Most of my symptoms have occurred earlier than normal.
One of the most notable and noticeable changes were that things errrr… grew a bit quicker than I would’ve expected. Below is a screenshot of a conversation I had with a group of friends about my husband noticing a change.
My clothes got tighter right off the bat. And I thought “Ok, no big deal. This was expected I’ll go buy some new clothes.” But it isn’t that easy. Nothing fits right. Nothing. I’m not big enough for maternity clothes, but my stomach is too big for regular clothes. Everything I own at this point is frumpy. And because of the heightened emotions, the ill-fitting clothing sends me into a spiral of self-consciousness and frustration. There are days that I can’t even look in the mirror before I leave for work. Those days are the “Fuck it” days. And they are happening more frequently as the pregnancy progresses.
One other thing that I started noticing recently was my walk has changed. I used to have a confident stride. I don’t know why considering how clumsy I am, but I did. I used to be able to comfortably wear heels up to a certain height. But that’s all gone now. As the day goes on, and I get to feeling less and less comfortable, my walk transforms. Slowly, subtly, into a waddle. At work by 4 pm, as I go to and from the printer I notice my body shifting from side to side, with a brief but significant settle in each step. I will immediately correct it, but I know deep down that it’s going to come to a point when I’m no longer am able to. It is inevitable. The waddle is coming.
Don’t you, forget about me
“Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most”. Mark Twain must have stolen this from his wife when she was pregnant. People talk about pregnancy brain often. But nothing prepares you for it. I am not just forgetting things, but I’m thinking I do things or say things that I don’t. “Didn’t I tell you that?” has become my most used sentence recently. A few weeks ago I had mentioned to my boss that I had forgotten to text some family members back recently. She was understandably concerned whereas my job is mostly following up with clients and remembering things. I assured her that I only let it affect my home life. And that is the truth. I noticed that this was starting to happen, so the moment I leave work, I totally shut off my brain. So far, it seems to be working. While this doesn’t thrill my husband, it’s a sacrifice we’ll have to make until I figure something else out. I haven’t written a post in a really long time. Not because I didn’t have anything to write, or I was too busy. I have been conserving all of my brain cells for work. This post, in fact, has taken an exceptionally long time. I’ve been storing up for weeks to finish it. Now, I’m no neurologist but I think there might be some logic to it.
While this is only a short list of the symptoms I’ve experienced, these are what has struck me as funny. I think it’s important to keep levity at the forefront. Because what awaits us at the end is going to be the most momentous experience of our lives. We are so excited to be parents and I am excited to share our little stories throughout the process. S
I have been working on this post for weeks. Today, I decided to start over. My post was long, and unnecessarily so. It didn’t accomplish what I had wanted it to. It’s tone and the overall message was lost with every paragraph. So here we are. At the beginning.
One year ago, my brother was in an accident. It has been a long three hundred and sixty-five days. I don’t want or need to rehash every sad, upsetting detail. But, I do want to share with you all some of the more poignant moments and some observations that have stuck with me over the last year.
I remember when I got the call from JJ’s foreman, Ian. But more so, I remember the phone call I got from dad shortly after. I asked Ian if JJ was alive. When he answered “yes”, there was no denying the uncertainty voice. I knew what he was saying without saying it. I knew what the tone of that “yes” meant. JJ WAS alive when I left him, but I don’t know if he still is. My dad asked me the same question just minutes after. I wanted to be strong and say sternly, confidently “Yes!” but the words had, unintentionally, come out the exact same way Ian had said it. Unconvincingly.
After I arrived at the hospital, I talked with the nurses and then found the ICU waiting room. I opened the door and was immediately taken aback. The people in the room were talking loudly, laughing, eating. All these things, I couldn’t fathom happening in a place like that. This was supposed to be a place of tragedy, a place for reflection, prayer, and quiet whispered voices. I hated the waiting room with every ounce of my being. I couldn’t stay in there. I honestly, truly couldn’t. Luckily, there was a private waiting room we were told we could use. And by god we did. It was supposed to be for doctors to have consultations with the family of patients. I thought about the tough questions asked and some even tougher answers given in that room. I prayed that that wouldn’t be us. We stayed in that room for three days. And just when we had gotten a little less sad, enough to where we could tolerate talking, and smiling we gave up the room to someone who needed it more. It didn’t last long, we were back in there by day 5. The day JJ’s artery gave out.
That first night, we had been told, that it was going to be a long one. The first time we got to talk to a doctor was around 8 or 9 that night. JJ had been in surgery since one o’clock. Dr. Brown told us that he was the orthopedic surgeon that had been working on JJ. He was impressed with the double femur break JJ had suffered. He said that if you had to have a broken femur (or 2) this is the way to do it. It was a clean break. Flat across. He told us that the bones would be able to fuse with little to no problem, he believed. He said that if all this injury was, was a couple of broken femurs, JJ would be out of here in a few days. But that, as we would come to know, wasn’t the case.
A few hour later we got to talk to the second surgeon. He told us what he had seen and maybe more importantly, what he hadn’t. JJ had lost a lot of tissue, muscle, nerves, and lots of blood. He went through 107 units that day. But most distressing were his arteries. They were completely shredded. I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do. If there was anything that he could take from me to give to J. I told him that he could have whatever he wanted. The doctor smirked and shook his head a little. I could tell he had thought of it. I have no doubt. Maybe not my arteries specifically, but someones. His face said it all. That very thought had come to him. I didn’t delve any deeper. But my father and I both let him know in no uncertain terms that whatever JJ needed, we were happy to give.
At 2 am we were told that they were wrapping up the surgery and they’d be bringing JJ up soon. From the room we were in we could see JJ’s. We stood on chairs, we craned our necks. Did whatever we had to do so we could catch a glimpse of him. And at 3:30, they told us we could go in to see him. He didn’t look like himself. He was so swollen. But I have never been so happy to see someone in my entire life. We asked the prognosis. Torn between the desire to know and the dread that may come with the answer. JJ was, without a doubt, still in critical condition. When the doctor talked about the prognosis, he wasn’t referring to if he would lose a leg or both, it was if JJ would survive. I will never forget that moment.
After a few days JJ had started to come to. Never for long, only a few minutes and then he’d be back to sleep. But when he was awake, he wanted to communicate. It was a tall order with the breathing tube in. Someone got him a small dry erase board. He would try and write something, sometimes falling asleep in the middle of writing, and we would be left with the task of deciphering it. We may as well have been decoding ancient hieroglyphics. And when we couldn’t figure it out, we would start guessing like we were playing a game of charades. Is that an I? No? Ok, is it an L? No? Shit, is it a J? Nope. Then after a minute or two, when all of the energy he had, had drained out of him, he would let his hands drop from equal parts exhaustion and frustration and his eyes would fill with tears and he would shake his head as if to say “I give up”. That was, without a doubt, one of the hardest parts for me. There he was helpless, relying on us to help him, and I couldn’t. I was not a good guesser.
One of the first things that we were able to read was the word “boots”. Mom said, “your boots are right here, J. On the shelf”. She showed them to him. The sense of confusion on his face was unmistakable. My mom and I looked at each other. She knew right away why he was confused. Call it mothers intuition. She said “J, your boots are fine. Your feet didn’t go into the chipper.” His eyebrows became unfurrowed, almost like at that very second, everything came back to him. In fact, one night after the boots incident, mom asked him if he remembered the accident. He nodded as best as he could, and then wrote: “They didn’t believe me.” Later he would explain what he had meant. When his co-worker had been on the phone with 911, JJ told him to tell the dispatcher to get life flight started. He knew that they carried blood on the helicopter and that he was going to need it. But what he either didn’t know or didn’t think about at the time, is that patients can’t request life flight, it has to come from the paramedic.
The hardest day was undoubtedly the day JJ’s right leg artery gave out. It was the first Monday after the accident. The nurses would come in every few hours and pull out this black box that had a stethoscope in the shape of a pen connected it to it. They would put it on the top of JJ’s feet, one by one, and move it around until they heard a swishy sound. That sound was his pulse. That day, they had checked it before he went down to surgery. A process we had already come to know well. And when he would come back. One nurse tried, then another. No swishy sound. They called for the doctor. The room was silent.
The doctor confirmed what we all had suspected. At the very beginning, we had been told that the repair to his arteries was a kind of one and done deal. They weren’t sure if the gore-tex that had put in would hold. Each leg had a 50/50 shot they told us. But it didn’t matter. We wanted a second opinion. We asked that his file be sent to mass Gen to see what they said. JJ had woken up, and I think it was dad who explained the situation to him. He took it well. You could tell he understood and agreed.
A couple of hours later a report came back from Boston. There was nothing that could be done. The right leg would have to be amputated. We cried. A lot. I went to the chapel for a while. Eventually, we all reconvened in JJ’s room. J woke up and motioned for his dry erase board. He wrote, what I made out to be “ambulance or helicopter.” He wanted to know how he was getting to Boston. I read it aloud so he could confirm my guess. He did. This was, for me, the hardest moment of JJ’s hospital stay. I looked at him and said “J, you’re not going to Mass Gen. I’m so sorry. They said that there was nothing they could do.” He stared at the ceiling for a minute, cried only a couple of tears, and fell back asleep.
Not long after, the doctor came back in to explain the procedure for the amputation. We were all listening intently when I looked over and noticed JJ had woken up and was listening too. The doctor started over from the beginning to make sure J heard everything he had said. Nurses came in to start the pre-op prep like they had done earlier. They gave J and an extra dose of whatever powerful concoction he was already on. He fell asleep immediately. One of them asked dad to sign a piece of paper allowing them to amputate. And that, I have no doubt, was dad’s toughest moment. He said he didn’t want JJ to hate him for making that decision. For signing that piece of paper. More tears came.
Now, looking back, the days that follow sort of melt together in a way. But certain moments stick out. The bigger ones, certainly more at the beginning and then start to taper. Like when he got his breathing tube out. There was a nurse on duty that J had taken a liking to. He said to her, “Can I ask you a personal question? Why do I get the feeling that you like me?” Listen, I’ve seen my brother interact with women, and I must say, this was, surprisingly, one of his more charismatic moments.
One of the only times I have seen JJ cry was one of his first nights in his regular room. Everyone was concerned about his mental state. Probably because we were all such a mess we assumed he must be too. It was just him and I and I can’t remember the exact wording I used but I asked him what and how he was feeling. He told me that the hardest part was that he would never be a firefighter again. He cried real hard, and so did I. I told him that if there was something he wanted to do, then he would figure out a way to do it. I had. and still have, no doubt of that. I found a video of a firefighter in Ohio who had an amputation almost exactly like JJ’s. He had been outfitted with a special prosthetic that worked perfectly. He wasn’t on light duty, the guy was fighting fires. I watched J watch the video and then we cried some more.
On Sundays, we would have football parties in his room. We’d bring a cooler and whatever JJ wanted to eat. He had lost so much weight. He was already thin and didn’t have much to lose. When he was able to eat, which was about once or twice every other day, he didn’t eat much. He wanted a special soup. We always called it green soup. Our nanny would make it for us. Kruno went and bought every box Hannaford had. That’s what he’s eating is this picture. He was so happy to have that green soup.
Next came his time at Spaulding. They do some truly amazing work there. And JJ was the incredibly lucky to be the recipient of some of that amazing work. He has said several times that he doesn’t believe he’d be this far along if he hadn’t have gone there. It was hard, him being so far away, but it was for the best. We all knew it. I got this photo one day while I was at work.
I was so proud. JJ has made us all very proud throughout this experience. His resolve has been something to be admired. He would be a great role model for someone who’s gone through a similar experience.
He has worked very hard to get to where he is. I got to go with him to a physical therapy appointment a few months ago. To the naked eye, the unknowing person, it may have looked like he wasn’t doing much. Lifting a leg up and down, moving side to side. But to us, to know where he had been such a short time ago. The condition he was in. How hard he worked. It was nothing short of a miracle. We almost lost him…a few times. But here he is.
So many moments and memories stick out. Things that I want to share. But this post has again, turned out to be very long. They will have to be told at a later time. Maybe on his two year anniversary. The weird thing is, and I think I can speak for most of my family. We are now running on a different calendar. To me, and I’d bet to JJ too, tonight at midnight, marks a new year. With I’m sure, more milestones to conquer and mountains to move. He will continue to progress and heal, hopefully sharing his progress along the way. This past year JJ has been the recipient of more prayers and blessings then could ever be counted. And for that, our family is so incredibly grateful.
I remember a few years ago I read an article that talked about an art gallery opening. The layout of the event was set up like a person’s house. With several different rooms, all with different types of artwork in them. One of the spectators arrived via skateboard, and instead of carrying it around with him, left it leaning against one of the hallway walls close to the entrance. Everyone that arrived after him, stopped to photograph his skateboard. They all perceived it as a work of art.
When it comes to art, I am a novice at best. I know nothing about it. But there seems to be a lot of it. And it’s got me thinking… Who has to perceive something as art for it TO BE art? And better yet: Who has to perceive you as something for it to be true and does it matter?
When I first read about the Fearless Girl statue. I was immediately drawn to her. I read every story I could find that mentioned anything about her. I don’t consider myself a feminist necessarily, or an art connoisseur by any means, but everything about this bold, brazen sculpture spoke to me. The artist was able to make this statue convey gumption in the most subtle yet unequivocal way.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this pony-tailed, little girl. Specifically, how she was placed in relation to the iconic Charging Bull. The male artist who created the seven thousand pound symbol of American power and resilience pitched quite the fit about the girl. Stating that the female artist who made this tiny, in comparison, 250-pound Fearless Girl statue had “altered the perception of the bull” because of where and how she was placed. Facing the bull. He isn’t entirely wrong. The statue had accomplished everything the artist had set out to do. Everything about Fearless Girl was very intentional. The artist said, “I made sure to keep her features soft, she’s not defiant, she’s brave, proud and strong, not belligerent”. And I think the artist was able to perfectly emulate that.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m perceived a lot lately. If people’s perceptions of me and even my own are an actuality. Everyone wants to see themselves in a favorable light, but is that the truth? I haven’t been reaching my potential professionally. And while some of the fault undoubtedly rests on my shoulders, I believe it is also a product of my environment.
I’ve decided it’s time for a career change. I don’t fit in in the wealth management industry. I am not naturally meek or mild, but this position has forced me to be both in some instances. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel unsure almost every day. In most of the things I do. Except when I’m talking to clients. That’s when I’m at home. I’m confident that whatever they need, I can help them. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll put on my Nancy Drew hat and work tirelessly until I find it and report back. I’ll conquer the unknown happily and fearlessly. Because I know that when I do, the client will be thankful. I will have helped them accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. And that is a great feeling.
One of the things I miss the most in my current position is being part of a team. I guess technically, I am. But Just because someone says “you’re apart of the team!” doesn’t make it so. That means they may think of you as that, but if no actions are there to support this thought, then does it matter how they perceive it? Shouldn’t how I feel carry some weight? Whose perception is correct?
Over the last couple months, I’ve had several interviews. And recently, I have had 2 men, in a hiring position, tell me that I “seem like I can be a bitch when necessary”. They aren’t wrong, I guess. I like to get shit done. But, I didn’t love how the word “bitch” hit my ear. One person immediately felt bad and said: “I mean that as a compliment”. And that’s how I had taken it. I think that’s how some people perceive being strong and taking charge. When and how people use that word can and do have different connotations. Whether that’s right or wrong, well, I guess it depends on the perceiver…
I have been offered an amazing position. One that I am so excited about it gives me chills. It’s at a fantastic company run by an incredible group of successful, intelligent women. I didn’t know if I was going to get it honestly. The interview process was intense. And I don’t know if I was necessarily the best candidate on paper. But as it would turn out, after 5 meetings, and hours of some of the most self-reflective questions I have ever been asked, they chose me. And I know that I won’t have to be meek or mild. I won’t have to feel like an outsider. I’m going to be a part of a team. Like, for real this time. I can be confident, tough, determined. All of the things that The Fearless Girl and I were meant to be.
I did something a little wacky. I submitted an article for publication in Brevity Magazine. Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know what is crazier: Submitting the article or telling you about all it. The thought of both is making me a little queasy right now.
I submitted a short, non-fiction story. And as I think back to when I first started this blog; I would have never had the courage to do something like this. I barely have it now. When it comes to writing, I am still in a constant state of anxious indecisiveness with every blog post. My “revision” counter for this one has capped out at 25. Should I hit the publish button? Could I make it better? How do I make it better? Is it good enough? Am I good enough?
Those questions combined leads to a bigger one. Is the potential literary reward worth the risk of putting yourself out there? That is a big gamble. The idea of having something published is a huge, massive thing. I don’t care if 5 or 50000 people read the magazine. That is the reward. But, the risk of rejection? This soon into my writing venture? The thought of taking a chance and ending up with a bruised ego, and one that is already a bit blemished I might add, has me reeling. And worried I may have made a mistake.
While the graphic reads “How to”, it may be better read “How to???.” I guess first things first, I should probably start by managing my expectations. State my goal and get myself mentally prepared for the probable repudiation. Now you see, here I feel like I should type something like “Oh, I’m not expecting much. Maybe just some feedback”. In fact I did type something similar to that. I had to delete it. It wasn’t the truth. Obviously, I’m expecting something. I would have never wasted my time or the $3.00 it cost to submit it if I wasn’t. But then again, perhaps “expecting” is the wrong word. I think “hopeful” is more apt in this situation. It’s better to be hopeful than expectant in most things. I am expecting a response. I am hopeful that it is one of acceptance and not of rejection. That’s my goal. Yes, that’s much better.
However this pans out, I really wanted to write about it. This blog has made me think about things in ways I haven’t before. Never in my life have I set personal goals for myself or stepped so far out of my comfort zone. I’ve never put myself in a position for open critique. Not like this anyway. And even if no one reads these posts. I like to think that it keeps me honest. It keeps me aspiring to do something or be something more. Take risks. I really love what this has turned into. And if that’s all this ever is, just something I enjoying doing, then that’s ok. But I really hope that I never lose the desire to try for something bigger.
Have my non-fiction short story published on in Brevity Magazine
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I thought of the title for this blog post out of the blue one day. So I quickly opened my WordPress app and typed it in. I hit save, under the Drafts tab. Making absolutely sure that I didn’t accidentally hit the publish button. That is the worst! Publishing something before it’s ready, aaarrgh. It’s awful! Anyway, as I was double checking that I didn’t post it instead of saving it. I got the idea for the super cute graphic. I immediately clicked on my Word Swag app and created the image you see above. And I LOVE it. In fact, I love it so much, that I’ve started laying the ground work for this to be a series. And I am super excited!
As I started typing and formatting this post I found myself back spacing and rearranging sentences a lot. I just couldn’t get the concept to flow the way I wanted it to. And then I realized why…. I am a procrastinator. Procrasntintor’s aren’t usually the ones who write about getting things done. We also aren’t the type of people to be made an example of when referencing expeditious task completion. Something weird to note, that this is only in my personal life. Like getting an oil change, or canceling a subscription. Which reminds me, I never canceled my husbands Dollar Shave Club subscription. Shit.
Professionally speaking, I couldn’t be more opposite. I’m known to watch my inbox like a hawk. Always at the ready for the next task. For me, there is nothing better than being asked to do something, completing it and sending back a “Done!” email. My work inbox is pristine. As I left yesterday for a week’s vacation, I didn’t even have to scroll. All emails were visible on one page. That feeling, for me, is pure contentment.
So, how do I get this, and the subsequent series posts I’m planning, to translate from personal procrastinator to every day efficient? There only seems to be one solution. I am going to try to fix something, that for the last 33 years of my life, has been one of the most predominant personality traits I have. I’m going to become “The Blogger Formally Known As A Procrastinator.” You guys, my husband is going to be so effing excited when he reads this.
We’re now at the point where you may be asking yourself “why would I take advice from a woman who admittedly, can barely make a list of “to-do’s” to do the to-do’s.?” And I think that is a very fair question. My answer is this: This post is meant for the people like me. The people to enjoy getting things done, but in their own, type B personality, kind of way. The type of people who may appear disorganized, and lackadaisical to some. But in all actuality do, for the most part, have their shit together.
The To-Do: Writing a Blog Post
This blog has been an eye-opening experience. If you have been with me since the beginning you may recall my post Surviving Succulents. In it, I wrote about starting projects and not finishing them. And how this project, this blog, was going to be different. And while I’ve only been at this for about 9 months, it is the longest I’ve ever stuck with something like this. And I still love it like I did at the beginning. I think that is one of the most important things for a procrastinator. And my first blogging To-Do. Blog about something you love. Or something that challenges you, whether it be a specific topic or niche. Maybe even daring to try a different style. Like poetry, short stories or nonfiction. In my very limited experience, I’ve found that writing about something you love, or something that you have an interest in, comes a lot easier and therefore quicker than something you don’t.
That brings me to my next To-Do, well this is more of a to-don’t. Don’t force it. Readers will be able to tell. One of the followers of my blog recently commented that “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.” And he is exactly right. Just because you haven’t published a post in a while doesn’t mean that you’re failing or even that you’re procrastinating. Maybe you haven’t found the spark. I’ve talked about the spark before. It’s what I consider to be the moment you get an idea that you’re excited about. When everything just comes rushing to you and you’re inspired. That spark can come at any time and even multiple times within a single post. For example, I started this post on May 29th. Almost 2 months ago. And here I am just finishing it up. I don’t know what it was about the last couple of days, but a majority of this post has only just been written in that time. And that’s ok. I didn’t want to write it to just to say that I posted something. I wanted to write it to be good. To be helpful. Honestly, I don’t know if it will be either of those things, but fingers crossed.
And the last To-Do is to try to set aside time each day to work on your blog. It doesn’t have to be hours, or at a set time every day. Even if all you have is 15 minutes. Go to your blog, under your drafts, and read what you’ve already written. Add a sentence or two. Rewrite a paragraph. Touch up the graphic. Do research on a topic you’re working on. Whatever it may be, just DO something within your blog. I guarantee the more you do that, the more quality content you’ll produce.
So that’s that. My very first edition of “Turning To-Do’s into Ta-Da’s.” Now, I am no expert on matters of blogging or most things really. And while these tips are more common knowledge tidbits than insider secrets. I hope they offer insight. I hope this comes off as more of a pep talk than anything. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t worry about what others with think (this is still my biggest hurdle). Because, from what I can tell, the bloggers who have the most followers aren’t necessarily the people who produce the most content. And I think, by just doing these very basic things, you will greatly increase the chances of creating an amazing (Ta-Da!!!) blog post.
“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow