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I hope you all enjoy my efforts here!

Nov 6, 2010


Yesterday I went grocery shopping, as I usually do on Friday.  This little trip turned into a little mini-lesson on positivity.  After I collected all my groceries, I went to stand in the check out line.  Just before time to move up to being the customer being checked out, a little elderly gentleman came and stood behind me in line.  With a twinkle in his eyes he  said, "Thanks for saving me this spot in line!".  He moved with much difficulty and was shopping with his wife, who was in a wheelchair.  She's so infirm that she couldn't even really hold her head up, it was resting on her shoulder.  I couldn't even seen her eyes.  Here's a man, obviously having difficulty getting around himself, coupled with a wife who's obviously unable to care for herself (translating to what a difficulty that must be for him to care for her in his limited condition), smiling with joy and engaging the stranger in front of him in a positive manner. 

That wasn't all of it.  The checker who was responsible for my line was quite a vivacious lady.  As I was moving to the counter and she waited for the customer before me to leave, so I could head for the counter, she was smiling and sang a short and sweet little ditty, "I'm in my happy spot!"  She was exuding joy rather than just doing her job.  What a positive line I'm in.  As she checked me out, the gentleman behind me talked about how lucky he was to be in her line.  She said to me, they always come to my line and I'm the luckiest person in the world to be able to check them out.  Talk about positivity and smiles abounding in an ordinary experience of checking out the groceries and paying.  The gentleman reached in his pocket and pulled out a well worn fake credit card looking document.  I don't remember what was on the other side that I saw as he put it away, but on the side I he showed me it said, "The happy smile checker".  It was obvious to me that he looks for and creates happy smiles. 

What a joy and what a little lesson to remember amidst the regular routines of our lives.  This gentleman gets around with much difficulty, obviously caring for a wife who is extremely limited.  His life has to be difficult.  Yet he is choosing to greeting it with positivity, engaging with people in his pathway with positivity and choosing joy.  The checker choosing to do her job with a sunny disposition, joy and even singing a song about being in her happy spot was also another lesson in choice.  There was less than 5 minutes there in that line with joy and happiness being radiated, positivity exuding.  What a heaven life would be like if the rest of us were choosing to focus and find positivity in our life in this way?  I felt transformed.  Ordinary checkers are just doing a job and getting through the day.  Ordinary old men with severely disabled spouse to care for and very limited mobility themselves are usually struggling and I viewed them as really being a case of people, "enduring to the end" and possibly hoping it comes sooner rather than later.  What I saw was an extraordinary lesson in the choosing our attitude and choosing to live in joy in the "now" no matter how difficult or tedious.

I've made lots of progress in learning to be happy and positive no matter what.  This little powerful little 5 minute or less mini-lesson is something I'm grateful to get.  I think things happen for a reason, and this might be teaching me more about how to expand, improve and carry on in positivity.  Can I bring smiles optimism in my chance encounters of all those who cross my path?  That is my next challenge.

Aug 23, 2010

What a Life! What a Job!

I've now got almost a full month under my belt, working in our Parent Infant Program with babies and toddlers from 0 to 3 and their parents.  I can't believe how I feel about this job, and how my life has led me to be able to even do this. 

If you see my "Before" picture on the side of this blog, you might have imagined this is a woman who couldn't sit on the floor, or at least couldn't do so easily.  Well, I'm so grateful I lost all that weight and changed my perspective.  If I hadn't undergone all this change, I don't think it would have been remotely possible for me to do this job.  At 387 lbs, falling on the floor was a nightmare.  I couldn't get up.  Fast forward 5 years, and here I am sittting on the floor playing with little babies and toddlers.  This job has been a little slow to ramp up, as I've had difficulty getting ahold of all the parents to schedule my visits.  However, my very first toddler is a little 2 1/2 year old cutie.  During my first visit where I worked with her, it was pure delight to be down on the floor laughing and playing with her.  At one point, I actually laughed and said, "I can't believe I get paid to do this!  What a job!".

Not only do I get to play with the kids, I get to sing with them too.  It's actually funner than I thought it would be.  What a way to teach.  This little toddler is way behind due to being recently adopted from another country where there were no hearing aids and and auditory stimulation AND being profoundly deaf.  I had a lot of trepidation because I don't know 0 to 3 age group yet.  However, much to my amazement, I actually know a lot more than I think.  Not only that, I could see what hasn't been happening that needed to happen.  The mother is "thirsty" for all the information I feed her and takes my suggestions and runs with it. 

Tonight, I sit and reflect on this child, with whom I'm starting my 3rd week of working with.  I'm all smiles as I reflect.  Why?  I can actually see progress!  I've made a difference.  Her mom and I kept being excited and celebrating today at the things that she was doing.  She's got a lot way to go, and needs that cochlear implant sooner rather than later.  However, how rewarding it is to be new in a job and feeling I have so much to learn, but at the same time seeing what I do makes a difference!  How exciting to have a mom who prior to my visit has felt alone without the support she needed, actually be excited at the progress her child has made in the last 3 weeks.

The coolest thing was at only my 2nd visit, the mom said to me, "I'm so sad that I'm going to lose you."  I was puzzled and confused.  I had JUST started working with this little child.  I'm not going anywhere.  I asked her what she meant, and she says, "She's turning 3 in February and you'll be gone when she goes to preschool".  I promised her that we could still be friends after her child leaves my caseload and enters preschool.  It's so rewarding to have such immediate feedback that I'm important to this family and to actually see a difference in this darling little girl. 

Five years ago, I couldn't have ever seen my  life the way it is today.  I decided to renovate my life, one step at a time, without a real clear picture of how to do that, other than to start losing weight.  All the other steps after that unfolded bit by bit.  I'm so grateful for the journey. 

Jul 9, 2010

Life's Little Joys (A Photo Essay)

All three came down to "spend time" with me.  Amazing they all three fit into one chair!  They're growing so fast, I don't think that will last for long!

"What ice cream?  I don't see any"  (Me thinks someone ate it all!)

This is how I spend HOURS of my time.  Pure bliss!  A slice of heaven!

"What?  Why wait to put on my swim trunks and take off my shoes!  The water was calling my name!"

"I'm no baby, I don't belong in the stroller you're pushing.  I'm a big boy and pushing my own stroller!  So there! "

"My mom says I can really 'Rock my speedo'.  Daddy seems to agree, but my big brother is too busy preparing to dive down and join Spongebob to care what I'm wearing!"

Three generations having a ball at the little 4th of July carnival!

The most AWESOME roommates in the world!  I couldn't get any luckier!

Apr 30, 2010

The Future Is In My Hands

Life is bringing me more changes. For a long time, I've felt that I needed out of my current career. I had hope that something better was out there for me.

I never imagined that possibly the new career that I was dreaming about and could be passionate about was in my current career. My professional life got thrown upside down when I was given my new teaching assignment for next year. My new students grade level? Well, geeze they don't have a grade level. Actually, you can only categorize them my age: birth to 3 years.

The picture above of my little great nephew's hand in mine, now represents to me all those little babies I will now teach. I'm awed at the possibilities. I'm going to be part of thr process by which a deaf baby learns to listen and talk. During the past year or so, I've thought a more than a few times about our PIP (Parent Infant Program), what was missing and what it needed. I felt it wasn't keeping up with all that was needed with all the technology that we have in this day and age. Deaf kids need the right start in life to really maximize their potential. With the technology of cochlear implants and digital hearing aids, research that has taught us about the critical work being done in the brain and how it impacts the outcome for the deaf baby; I felt something was wrong. However, not having any involvement in this program; it was nothing I'd ever be involved in improving.

Times change. We hired a new superintendent this year. He is one that realized that there were huge needs and improvements needed for these little deaf babies and toddlers. He's hired a new team and this program is being changed drastically in all the right ways. The new director of PIP says this department will be the premiere department of our school. Little ole' me, I'm going to part of all this change. I never could have imagined. What I also could never have imagined, is that I'm excited for the new challenges and opportunities. It's going to be hard work. It's going to be HUGE change. Oh, yes...I'm going to have to study hard and learn lots. Despite it all, I'm excited.

Little babies, their parents and families are in my future now. Conversely, I'm in their future. My work with them sets the foundation for their life ahead. I can't think of anything more important. I'm honored and thrilled.

Feb 27, 2010

Seasons of Life

Life has been trying for the last few months, more for others that I care about than for myself personally. The last 8 or so months, I've watch my niece go through such a long drawn out process of find a brain tumor, going through two rounds of chemotherapy, all while trying to raise three little ones and hold down a job. Up until January, I at least was able to help out a bit here at home with the little ones. Now, I'm taking 6 credits worth of classes and struggling to keep up with school while still working my full time job. I feel sad, to not be able to help out.

I want to do more to help. Instead, I come downstairs to my little domain; studying and working my brains out. Anyone out there care that the quadratus lumborum originates from the iliac crest and the iliolumbar ligament and inserts into vertebrae T12 and L1 through L4, with the action of pulling down the last rib and fixing the rib cage? Anyone? Bet there are no takers. In the grand scheme of things, it's irrelevant. However, I was forced to care, due to a test that was coming up.

For something I don't care about, the stress ran high last week most of the stresses were unimportant in the grand scheme of things, others were life changing, when it comes to the health of others. I was worried about my niece , wanting to help out as well and not being able to. It didn't help matters when my professor sent out an email last Monday inviting those who didn't have the time to devote to drop the class before this next test (halfway through the semester no less). After 5 years of teaching this class, this next test was the one where every one's grades tends to drop precipitously, hurting their chances for grad school (many in the class are taking this as a prerequisite to entering grad school in Speech and Language pathology). He warned them it would be easier to take the class again when they had the time, than to struggle with the bad grade they couldn't fix. I knew I had to study my brains out. I'd already been working hard every night and 12 hours on Saturdays. Last week I studied until nearly midnight every night, doubling the amount of hours I studied per night.

On the top of all these worries about my niece, worries about my test, I was also sick (yeah I've had some kind of cold or something going on that effects my asthma pretty badly). Oh yes, on top of having to studying my guts out, on Tuesday I had to go through my yearly observation and evaluation at work; I was on edge as I HATE those. Amidst all the stress, Was it any wonder I wanted to just eat? Food has historically been my balm through difficult times. I guess I will always be someone who wants to eat when things are tough. I will always have to battle this one.

My week is over, and the stress that can be over is over. At work, I got a glowing evaluation from my director. I guess maybe I am a better teacher than I thought! I earned my highest grade all semester on the test we were all warned we would not succeed in if we didn't put our nose to the grindstone. Food wise, I didn't go nuts. I managed to lose half a pound this week despite it all. My asthma still is pretty bad, but really, I don't feel lousy. So I count that good.

Of course it was the minor stresses that leave your life as quickly as they come in. Tests, evaluations, colds/flu's and etc. are very minor. The hardest stuff is that which you have no control over. This brain abscess seems pretty scary right now, and when my niece has seizures and other side effects; I worry excessively. By the same token, what we are living with here in Salt Lake is nothing near what is happening to loved ones a state away. I wish I could be there with my Idaho and Oregon nieces, supporting them, as they watch their mother losing her battle with cancer.

I guess if we think about it; maybe stress is a part of life. If everything was easy; we wouldn't be challenged and be able to grow. Like everyone, I'd rather everyone in my life could skip the sorrow, health challenges, and loss. I guess I need to just remember, that for every time there is a season, a season for sorrow, a season for joy and etc. Whatever we need to endure, we need to find hope and courage to get through them, knowing that this too shall pass. Somehow I find that more comforting if I think of only myself. However, when I think of those I love, I want to spare them those seasons and wish they didn't have to endure. I wish for any readers comfort through the seasons of sorrow that may be yours, and wish for you season of joy around the corner. May you find comfort from some corner, when in the difficult times of life.