The Worst Day To Try Chi Tea…

It was the day of my mom’s surgery. I sipped on a vanilla chi tea latte a friend told me the night before I must try. It’s not bad, but has a zing aftertaste all over my taste buds. A taste I can only describe now as the taste of that day. I will probably never order it again. My regular coffee is much better. Mom drinks coffee every morning, too, except that morning because she couldn’t. She had plans to stop at Starbucks right after her surgery, but we both knew she wouldn’t feel up to it…yet, we were optimistic that maybe this surgery would be no big thing. My mom has always been so strong. When she told me of her breast cancer, she comforted me instead of herself. I guess that’s how moms are, though.

I showed up to the hospital very early in the morning to see her before her surgery. She had a nervous smile on her face and I kept smiling back at her, to comfort her. She had already been hooked up to machines, needles poked into her arms, and beeps echoing the room that I will never forget. A lumpectomy and total removal of the nipple, and putting in a port were the daily plans for her. I knew it would be tough, but wanted to get her through what must be done. My mom made the surgery sound so simple, so normal, and so easy, but that didn’t stop me from worrying. She made it seem like an ordinary day, but it was far from that.

The moment my mom told me her shocking news my insides crashed like a million cars going sixty at a red four-way stop. She was following me up stairs to my loft bedroom to see baby clothes I’d bought for my sister (my mom’s soon-to-be first grand baby). I wasn’t aware of the ocean’s wave tide behind me filled with worried tears and confusion. I picked up what will be the third generation’s little clothes and turned around to face that red stop light. Crash. Tears flooded and choked both of us when she told me she thinks she has breast cancer.

When the doctors said it’s time to say goodbyes I gave her another smile and slowly walked back to the waiting room, attempting my best to hide my worried eyes. I told my grandma and grandpa that we’d be back before she’s out of surgery in two hours. So Henry (my boyfriend of almost six years) and I went for coffee since it was so early in the morning. I was optimistic with the early sunny morning, yet worried, a weird combination…maybe it was positive confusion? Maybe I had daughter instinct and knew something wasn’t right. I just knew something wasn’t right. At this point all we knew was that there was a cancerous bump that they were removing.

I sipped that chi tea, anxious to get back to the hospital to see her in recovery. When we got back to the waiting room, we waited a few minutes then the doctor came in and told us she was out of surgery, but before we could see her, the doctor wanted to talk with us. We crowded our way into this smaller seating room filled with brochures. She told us that when she did the surgery and removed lymph she found a lot more cancer, spread so much it’s deep around veins and lit up all over her arm… “stage III at least” she said unable to promise anything. She also wasn’t able to put in a port, which is required for her chemo. Tears streamed my face and I found myself mad at the doctor. Henry comforted me and I wiped my tears dry so I could go see my mom with a smile on my face.

I walked back to see her flat on the hospital bed with a pink bloody band around her now uneven chest. I stood up by her head but she was still sleepy. Five minutes later, still sleepy. She should be waking up soon and be alert…but she’s not. We waited and waited. I spoke to her “hi mom” and when she saw me she smiled and said “did you get your coffee?” I held her hand and watched as she still wasn’t able to keep her eyes open. I should have just ordered coffee, not chi tea. Something isn’t right.

More and more doctors crept their way in the room staring at the blood pressure monitor. Lower and lower it crept. They’d ask her how she was feeling and she was still sleepy and hot. Each of us took turns talking to her and watching that monitor go lower as time went on. By now she should have been awake and able to leave the hospital. Eventually another doctor came in and called for tests on her heart and found liquid around her heart, and when asking her more questions realized she had already been diagnosed pre-diabetic. Why didn’t they know this BEFORE the surgery? I was so mad but when they saw this, the new doctor wasted no time calling med flight to our bigger city…where I wanted her to go in the first place.

I can’t remember how many tests they did and how many times they said “say goodbye.” Because honestly it was enough to make every hello a gift. My mom was med-flighted that day and spent days in the hospital. After that more and more doctor appointments, surgery to put the port in, and then chemotherapy. Last week I saw my mom with no hair and she is beautiful. It’s a gift that she is still here. Four days before mother’s day, my mom will have her last “red devil” chemotherapy until she moves on to the radiation every day. She is weak after chemotherapy and noxious. Her eye sight is affected from all the pills she takes and she has no energy and is losing weight. The crazy thing about all of this is how fast it happened.

This mother’s day, I’m going to plant flowers for my mom’s “outdoor escape” as she calls it. Her place to escape everything around her. Where hummingbirds fly around her sitting on the swing and where she can drink her favorite coffee on her rare good days.

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Cozy Sweater Smile

Finding that perfect sweater for the holidays can sometimes be harder than biting into a peppermint candy cane. It’s sticky, but once you find that perfect sweater giddiness spreads joy in the eyes like that of candy in a child’s hand. And who says you can’t get one in all your favorite colors. That’s what I did…

A new sweater brings hope for the holidays and renews me in a way I’m grateful for. The softness of its cotton reminds me of pure, white snowflakes and the beautiful wonderland they create when millions come together. I love snuggling up with creamy coffee and a Nicholas Sparks novel only to read a snowy afternoon away. Word after word comforts me, yet frustrates me on the concept of gushy love stories.

Why do we read and then watch these gushy movies filled with the ideal, yet seemingly unrealistic train of events? Nicholas Sparks, the ruler of love stories, does not let his characters off easy. At least one will find love and one will die. I just don’t understand why I love, love, love these kinds of stories.

I do know, however, after I’ve seen a Nicholas Sparks movie (just recently seen Best of Me) I have this overwhelming experience that makes me question everything. Everything except this…

Love stories are life. It’s real life whether we want to believe it or not. There are no happy endings because it’s an ending. What’s exciting is a beginning. If you want a good love story, there is no ending. It lives on forever, much like the Christmas Spirit.

There is something magical in reading my favorite novel in a cozy sweater. Its plushy knit wraps around me like a million tiny marshmallows that should be in hot chocolate and inevitably makes a cozy-sweater-smile appear on my face.

Red, glitter gold, and green bulbs hang off branches on my Christmas tree as my tortoiseshell kitten paws them to the ground where she hides them under her belly. She too is soft, and smells like a pillow. The stockings are put up near lit-up garland and colorful sugar is sprinkled onto Christmas cookies. All while wearing my cozy-sweater-smile. This is me, this is real life. And this is what a genuine smile looks like.

Joy to the world is really how I feel. Joy for life, joy for every living thing on earth. This is why I love Christmas. To get this comfort feeling of love and kindness and actually see it and live it throughout the holidays. Now that my spirit is up high in Christmas joys, I need to start my Christmas shopping. Black Friday? No way. Everyone deserves to have off on Thanksgiving and Christmas. So what will I do instead? Wrap myself in my cozy sweater and shop from my laptop. This way I’m not just grabbing gifts and running to the register. I’m able to actually think of each person and show them how much joy they bring me.

Autumn Blessings

As I was out grocery shopping early last week, I decided to take a detour down the seasonal isle filled with Halloween candy and cornucopia decor. I stumbled upon a cute owl knickknack with sunflower eyes and a pumpkin stem on top. My heart felt warm, and I smiled at this cute owl made for a sole purpose of decor. It said the words Autumn Blessings near the owl’s belly. The words stuck with me even after I scooped him up and set him in my shopping cart. What were my Autumn Blessings? I wondered. I knew I could answer better than boots and warm scarves. So, when I got home I began thinking of fall and all it’s blessings.

It started with my first walk down a fall trail. The air calm, and my feet hot in boots, though the colorful, leafy path kept my mind at ease. I passed by an old apple tree and gossamer. and on my journey, autumn light shined bright like the harvest moon and reminded me of Autumn Blessings.

October was here and September gone with the summer. It’s that time of year when I clean out my closet and welcome new fall pieces just before my birthday. There’s something about October and the fall season that bring such humbling feelings. Maybe it’s that first pumpkin-spiced latte from Starbucks, or maybe it’s the smell of the slow-cooker filling my home with mouth-watering aromas that can make anyone feel cozy. And there is something wonderful in hearing my man’s favorite football team kickoff . The cozy, fall feeling is humbling, like that of a filled stomach after pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

Fall is filled with so many enjoyments, so many Autumn Blessings that I didn’t know where to begin. When I picked up this little knickknack, I had no idea it would give me such a feeling…a feeling as if I had never really tasted candy corn, pumpkin pie, caramel apples, and cider. Such a small thing reminded me to really be grateful, and to really taste the Autumn Blessings around me.

I soon was absorbed in the fall blessings around me that I wondered where I might have gone wrong before this little reminder. Each year when the leaves on the deciduous trees begin to change, we pick our pumpkins out from the market and carve them just before Halloween. Does this ever get boring, doing the same thing each year? Maybe I had fallen into the trap of routines each year. But not this year. Each year is different, and with each year brings new beginnings and new ways of looking at what once was an ordinary thing. Like those orange things with a stem. No one pumpkin will ever be the same. They may look the same, taste the same, and smell the same, but no two pumpkins will ever be the same. There are emotions attached to each one we pick out. So, when we pick out our pumpkins, each year it’s new, something to look forward to, and most certainly not boring.

This fall as I picked out my pumpkin, I took home with me a little white pumpkin as well. It is for our new kitten we adopted over the summer. Call me crazy, but my cat is just as much a family member as any other. Her name is Katniss and she is a tortoiseshell. This fall season, Katniss has grown to love this “box” and I have as well. First of all, the box shipped not the first, not the second, but the third new chord for a headset that Katniss chewed with the first two. She just loves this box. Simple things like Katniss in her box just melt my heart and make me grateful for who I have in my life.

So, I placed the little owl near my kitchen sink. For the first couple days in October I woke up and grabbed my hot coffee and rushed to get ready for work, but after I got this little guy, I started savoring my coffee, savoring this season. I love getting up to a cooler morning and grabbing a hot cup of coffee to warm up. The sun tries it’s best to come out every morning, and when it doesn’t, the little owl reminds me to take my creamy coffee back to bed with me.

These are the days that make fall beautiful to me. Bringing coffee back to a warm bed is a simple pleasure. When I crawl back into a warm bed with a warm cup of coffee, it’s like time constraint doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is the person sleeping peacefully next to me, my purring cat at my feet, and my warm cup of coffee in the palms of my hands. It really doesn’t get any better than that. Fall brings peace to my soul and a gratefulness in my heart. It reminds me of the things that truly matter in life.

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Love, life, and happiness…

You can define it. You can even describe it. But, how do you actually feel love, life, and happiness? And how do you know you are in love and living life with happiness? To answer that, it all comes from
the heart. A part of us that we can see deep within the iris, like sparks between young love. aa2b57f7-2c82-4a28-8ec0-54793c8f37a8_zps28238790You feel it inside. To know what love is, one must know hate. To know what life is, one must know death. And finally, to know happiness, one must know sadness.

Some of the most inspiring people I know have gone through loss, have lived through times of sadness, and yes, lost love. My grandma, the most inspiring person I know is one of these special people. She had a young love many, many years ago. She still talks of him, the love of her life.

He was working in Illinois when she was living in Wisconsin. He was tall, dark, and handsome with the kindest heart is how she describes my grandpa to me. One day, she found out she was pregnant and like many at that time marriage soon followed.

The day they were married, he was to meet her in Wisconsin. The whole time she waited, months, her mother said he won’t show up, “he’s not coming.” She told her mom that he would be there, and she believed in him. She loves him still as he is gone. The day they were to get married, he was five minutes late, “I forgot the ring and had to go back.” They got married and had five children. My mom was the baby.

But, something happened. Something terrible happened. A furnace blew up while he was working on it in the house. The burns were so bad, that they took my grandma’s love from her and left her with their five children. Sadness.

Today, my grandma is the most inspiring woman I know. How? She’s gone through a lot and has learned that love lives on. It lives on in all of us. She is a special person because throughout all the sadness, she remains happy-grateful for the time she had with him. To know happiness, one must know sadness. She is one of the happiest people I know. She’s grateful for the happy memories she had with him, her love.

I think that’s what happiness and living is about. Cherishing the precious moments you can hold onto for a lifetime. He may be gone, but he is forever in my grandma’s heart. I know he is watching over her from heaven.

When she talks of him today, and I see those beautiful pictures from the past, her eyes always light up. Life, to me, is defined by the love we carry with us and the happiness that those loved ones and memories bring us. Love will always live on and I’ve learned to hold onto moments, moments with the love of my life. I know happiness, because I know what sadness is. The faster we learn to be grateful and love, the happier our lives will be.