What helps me cope…

What helps me cope…

For those of you who don’t know, I have struggled with anxiety since my real deal panic attack during Zayne’s second brain surgery.  The first 6 months after the “show-stopping” event at the hospital were rough.  Some days I would be triggered in a crowd of people, the smell of alcohol or even just the sun going down.  After dark it seemed my “monsters” would show up.  Worries would just climb out of the wrinkles in my brain like bed bugs coming out from the mattress for a midnight snack.  I am extremely grateful not to be in the thick of anymore, there were moments I thought I would never be the same.  I say this with sincerity. I had considered myself to be a pretty easy going, fun loving, love life girl, and I had lost that, or so I thought.   Earlier this week I shared some of my battle, but tonight I thought I would begin to share some of the coping skills I have been using.

Most importantly I have the best family ever!  My husband is definitely my superman, and my mom and my sister are always by my side, and my Dad always has such a simple and optimistic way of looking at life that I am grateful for.  My kids were extremely supportive, even though they might not have understood everything.

Along with my amazing family I have worked my own butt off.  With the help of my Life Coach (Dean Nixon)I have worked hard to come through, well, what I call “torture”.

As I find myself enjoying life more and more I thought I would share a valuable piece that has helped me.  I have others as well, but so this blog isn’t 8 pages long, so I just thought I would start with Focus.

Focus is one of the 8 coping skills (The 8 Coping Skills is actually a series I do with my clients, apparently sometimes I do it right along with them, lol).   Here is a link the The Key, which is the book I use with the series.

FOCUS

Focus in the Moment: Focusing to Stay in the present moment can sometimes be a challenge.  Especially for a first born, control freak like me.  Don’t get me wrong, planning and organization is good, but planning for every possible “what-if” under the sun was not.  I began to focus more on feeling the very moment I was experiencing.  If I was at a game, then soak up the game. Notice the smell of the baseball field or be aware of the squeaky gym shoes of those little feet taking basketball so seriously.   l would pay attention to my kids enjoyment, smiles, determination, and the intensity on their faces when running as fast as they could!  I would focus on truly be there.  I began to focus on the moments we had dinner together.  Allowing my heart to connect with each of my kids sitting at the table and feel their laughter or excitement or even just enjoy the lull in the day with them.

And I can’t leave out the moments I would have during the summer in the yard just feeling the sun on my face and smelling the summer air.  Ahhhh.  There is nothing like it.  As I was working through my anxiety issues it was important that I be intentional about being present, otherwise my imagination would run me to the future, which brings me to the second step of foucs…

Focus My Imagination: My imagination had gotten quite skilled at painting the worse possible scenarios in my mind, some of which you have heard.  I had to intentionally focus on exercising my imagination to use its creative muscle for “good.”  I began to imagine my kids enjoying their work/school, playing in the yard or hanging with friends.  I imagined them laughing or even persevering with strength, taking on challenges and learning every step of the way and being proud of all they had learned. I would imagine my hubby and I soaking up life together, both enjoying our family and our independent accomplishment.   I had to do this several times a day to strengthen a different muscle of my imagination. For me it was getting back in touch with some of that part of my imagination I had as a kid.  I actually was the type of person that carried that childlike imagination with me through adulthood, these past couple years I just got a little off track and my focus has been helping me get back in touch with that “magical” side of me, that I truly think adds a little sparkle to life.

For some of you who read this will not quite understand why such a simple tool may seem so worthy of a blog and that is ok.  A few years ago, I actually had a hard time relating to those who struggled with anxiety. Ahhhh, that time was bliss, lol. But really, I just couldn’t understand how someone’s “thoughts/fears”  basically, could have such power over their life.  As much as I am not very fond of my own personal experience it has helped me relate to others I know and actually helped me to be more effective with my clients.  So for that I am grateful for what I have learned.

If you do struggle with anxiety, first don’t feel bad for it, that just makes it worse (trust me I know), but give Focus a try.  If that doesn’t seem to help, I do have 7 more coping skills in my pocket that I intend on putting out in other blogs.  Or feel free to set up an appointment with me and let’s get you the much needed relief you may need.  We can customize the series to apply the 8 coping skills to your own life personally.

C’mon Jamie…Write something inspiring!

Write something inspiring Jamie.”  I keep saying to myself. You see, I recently made a commitment (to a group helping me with my business) to write 2 blogs a week.  Let’s just say I am a little behind.  The first week I was feeling great! First of all, I was proud of myself for quitting caffeine, yup I did it (I’d explain why, but trying not to ramble).  Of course I didn’t quit coffee all together, ha, what world would that be.  I just switched to decaf.  You may be wondering why I even bother drinking decaf.  Um (said with my hands on hips), have you seen my coffee.  It is a cup of perfection! Check it out… now you can see why I look forward to my “caffeine free coffee moments.”

Ahhhh, rambling again.  Ok, Yeah, proud of myself, that’s what I was saying.  AND, not only did I cut the caffeine, I put myself on a DIET!  Not just any diet, but a “stress free” diet.  I know it is popular to do a sugar free, carb free, meat free, or fat free diet, but that’s not what I am talking about,  rather my main focus was to stop stressing out.  I started realizing I had been BINGE STRESSING about being the perfect parent.  I don’t know why, but large a tub of, shoulda,  shouldn’t of’s , comparisons, and measurements (of course coming up short) seemed to be my “food” choice.  But that week I cut it all out!  No more shoulda no more shouldn’t ofs, ablsolutely no comparing myself to other parents and for gosh sakes I just broke that “mommy measuring stick” right in half!! The week was amazing.  I pumped out a blog I felt pretty good about and I couldn’t believe how much extra energy I had!!

As with any diet, then came the struggles.  The following week I didn’t seem to have the same spark.  I would pull out my computer to blog, ya know, like I committed. Write something inspiring Jamie!  I kept thinking to myself.  Write something that is worth people’s time to read and will capture their interest.  My days looked like this:

Step 1- Stare at computer.

Step 2-Jamie! Write something inspiring.

Step 3- Feel bad for not feeling inspired.

… And repeat.

Finally, I asked myself (hmmmm, I am seeing that talking to myself seems to be a regular occurrence), anyway, I asked myself, why aren’t you writing. And my aggravated voice answered back (all in one breath),  “BEACUASE I don’t feel inspired, I feel crappy, I feel stressed, and can feel my anxiety surfacing this week, I don’t want to talk about it, I just want to be fixed, after I fix myself I will write something inspiring so I can help others fix themselves, because YES, I like helping others, but until I fix myself I just want to sit on my couch, stare at my computer and pout about how I can’t get my own shit together (eeech sorry, it seems my different voices have different ideas of manners), all I have to say right now is that I am struggling this week, and I dug through the trash, (I know, embarrassing) and found my tub of shoulda, shouldn’t of’s , comparisons, and gosh darn it, I duct taped that freakin’ measuring stick back together and found all the places I am not good enough, so there! (I am pretty sure this voice crossed her arms and stomped off after that rant.)

Keeping with the, just telling you what is on my heart theme, here is what I am struggling with,  I have one kid out of the house and one kid about to graduate while my last two just started high school and middle school and I am feeling that time went faster than I expected.  I want the best for them and I am wondering if I gave them everything I was supposed to give them as a parent.  Oh and this having adult kids, like what the #!$#?  Why can’t I still boss them around… I am really good at it!  I just want to help. Oh and I know everything right… c’mon, I am their mother.  Yet as the flow of life pries my grip off my children, literally one finger at a time, I am noticing that I am not enjoying it!  Not like I want too anyway.  I do have a more stable voice (as stable as one can be talking to themselves) that reminds me, Your kids are amazing! Take a breath and enjoy watching them problem solve.   Enjoy watching them figure out life just like you did.  Of course my not so stable voice quickly shouts what if, and will they be sad, and what if someone breaks their heart, what if they crash their car or get pneumonia!  Oh gosh what if they get pneumonia and I am not there to put my cheek on their forehead, I mean we all know that act alone makes you feel better, I can still remember the feel of my mom’s cheek on my forehead.  Oh gosh and what if they eat pizza every night (note to self, google what happens if you eat pizza every night.  What if I didn’t encourage them enough, what if I didn’t challenge them enough.  Should I have pushed them to do more or should I have insisted they do less.  Maybe I shoulda packed more lunches for them, or maybe I packed their lunches to long (hmmm you quit packing their lunch in 3rd grade, probably not the latter).  Seriously though, as much fun as I like to have as I write this blog, the raw truth is that the anxiety can be crippling.  I wrote a blog awhile ago called A conversation with God, that metaphorically depicts what I feel.  Only now I have an added voice telling me I should be better by now, I should have fixed it by now. I don’t share this with you to be negative or even look for someone to pick me up. I continue to pick myself up, brush off my knees and listen to that voice that says, “Go get ‘em girl.  Love the crap out of your kids and love watching their own personal journey in life.”  I am finding more clues to why my anxiety is hanging on that I will hopefully continue to share in future blogs.  For now, one of those clues that I have found is my habit of binging on shoulda, shouldn’t of’s , comparisons and of course, that measuring stick.  And as I write I am seeing, I need to start back on my diet.  Limiting that tub of junk once again and focusing on accepting myself as perfectly imperfect.  I am human and I need to let my kids be human too.  This week I want to focus on that love and acceptance for myself. (Here is a good video on self-acceptance and self love)  Because seriously  if my kids learn nothing else from me, it is enough that they learn that loving and accepting yourself give us the ability to LOVE LEARNING in this life, and how great of a life that would be.

I wanted to share my true thoughts with you partially because it is good for me to be open about my humanity, but also to say to those struggling with the same stuff.  You are not alone and it’s ok.  It’s ok to have these feelings.  Don’t lose hope!  Keep putting one foot in front of the other, your heart will lead you to your own clues and you will continue to move forward.  I invite you all to join me on my “diet” and let me know what you find.  I am hoping to shed a few pounds of worry and self doubt! lol

As always, if you would, share this post or tag someone you know could really benefit from what I have to say.

 

Stepping on Legos with my bare feet…

Upon graduating I decided to take December off to enjoy my family that I kinda put on hold for the last 3 years.  I started making dinner again…wow, when you cook, you are in the kitchen a LOT!!! (This last year of college and work, I had Stouffer’s, Little Caesars, and KFC filling as the main chef.)

After a wonderful break I am excited to get back to it.  What’s “it” you might ask? Well, first of all I am looking forward to having my taxi shift back, ya know, taking kids to practice, going home to retrieve the forgotten water bottle, returning to the school once again to pick them up, forgetting to pick them up, the coach calls, and it’s a mad dash to my car again.

But when I’m not unintentionally abandoning my children, I am working to build more Life Coaching clientele. During my crazy college years (take 2,) I pretty much quit marketing my business all together. Truthfully I don’t miss marketing, never much cared for it.  But it is part of the business… that is if you like your business and you want to keep it.

In a recent conversation with fellow business owners, I was expressing my distaste for marketing…well distaste is an understatement, more like my absolute hatred of marketing and how I would rather step on legos while barefoot in the middle of the night. But this wise group of  courageous women said, “You need to change your perspective. Just tell your story so people who can relate know where to find you.”

Hmmmm.” I thought to myself.  I am a writer… I could just tell my story.

My name is Jamie Lightner, I am a Life Coach, and I absolutely love my job!

“Why?” Well, because it is NOT like stepping on legos barefoot.  Rather it is like sunshine through a window… maybe that’s a little too dramatic…let’s just say it’s like going to coffee with a friend and feeling better afterwards. I never tire of watching my clients leave my office lighter, brighter and full of hope. And it’s not just the caffeine, some of them don’t even drink the coffee.

“What do I do?”  Well, I am mostly a facilitator. You see, I believe we all have the answers we need for ourselves within our very own hearts.  The problem is our thoughts and fears tend to be so loud it is hard to hear. I am grateful for some tools I have learned that allow you to, first of all, eliminate “unnecessary” pain and discomfort  (fear, what if, resentment,offense, or anxiety) while also helping you to work through adversities (teenagers, relationships, or hard knocks) in a way that promotes a positive self concept.  I have a pile of useful coping skills to help manage anxiety and adversity, and to allow growth in a relationship (rather than see who strangles the other first).

“How did I decide to become a Life Coach?”  Well, it definitely isn’t because I think I know everything. And depending on how well I am doing with my self-talk,  a voice in my head wonders if I really should be a Life Coach anyway, and then another voice encourages me and says, you don’t have to be perfect to help others, and then a third voice chimes in with, well, you can be passive aggressive with your hubby, you yelled at 2 of your kids just yesterday and your youngest kid wore his clothes backwards and inside out till 6th grade. I mean seriously, who do you think you are?

Ok, I now realize showing you all the voices in my head is probably not the best way to market myself as a Life Coach.  In a nutshell (because I feel I am rambling and I know you all have busy lives or perhaps a really good Netflix series to watch) about 9 years ago I experienced one of the lowest points in my life.  I was presented with an opportunity to attend TurningLeaf Seminar where I began learning the tools I now teach and gained a new perspective on myself.  I realized although it seemed life had beat me down, I was in fact my worst enemy.  I began to look at my adversities differently and I took back my life. (That is the short version, but I am always happy to share more with anyone who asks.)

So if you have made it this far in my story you have realized I love humor (admittedly corny humor).  I like to say, “no wrinkles and grey for me, I will take the laugh lines and silver lining instead.” I love to find laughter in whatever I can, I figure…why not?! Laughter is great medicine!  Below you will find a couple links containing my materials that tell you more about me and what I do as a Life Coach. Please, if you could share this post electronically, verbally or maybe telepathically(I’m really not picky lol) I would greatly appreciate it!!!!  That way maybe my marketing won’t be like stepping on legos with my bare feet. lol

 

Jamie’s One Sheet-for email

Jamie Lightner-brochure for email

**** Experiencing technical difficulties. To view this info Go to my Coaching Facebook Page.

Jamie Lightner Life/Parenting Coach

 

 

She believed she could, so she did…yup! She did!!!

Just when I thought I would never finish… I did!  I have had this picture saved to the desktop of my computer for almost three years.  Now that my graduation is only 2 weeks away, I feel so sappy and reminiscent, much like the end of a Hallmark movie.  Ya know, when the music is playing and the couple is kissing.  Oh yeah! Full on sappy moment!

My senior year of high school people asked me, what do you want to be when you grow up, my response was, “I am going to school to be a choir teacher, but I really want to be a MOM.” I’ll admit, I was much more confident in that statement before the sleepless nights, potty training, spilt milk, and cranky teenagers.  However, although I knew more about raising kids before I had kids than I did after, I wouldn’t change a thing.  After I graduated high school I spent a year in college living on compass.  Had to cross dorm life off my bucket list, and then married my high school sweet heart.  Five months after the wedding bells, I got the flu that lasted 3 months!  I still remember throwing up in the woman’s bathroom right before I took my conducting exam.   Walked out of school that day and for the next 9 months I enjoyed the greatest restaurant service ever (When you are pregnant they get ya whatever you want… and fast).

The last 19 years of motherhood have been the best thing that ever happened to me.  I do find it interesting to look at the twist and turns life has taken.  Although eight years ago it was more important to me to complete my Life Coaching certification, I always knew that someday I wanted to finish college…and I did.  Throughout these past 2½ years, there were definitely moments I was sure my brain was going to turn into soup and drip right out of my ears.  And as the grueling work comes to an end I could walk the red carpet and give a thank you speech to so many that I am sure the music would start playing before I was through.

A letter my kids wrote to me after I passed a clep test I had been studying for all day for 2 weeks straight. I about lost my mind.

 

Now that I am finished I have been taking some time to soak up my kids!  I look forward to more Life Coaching and am excited to get back to blogging.  I have been working on a few, getting them ready to post!  I find it especially exciting to write for pleasure again, rather than for a report!

Many adventures to come, I will write about them in future blogs.  Also, if you have any subjects you would like to see what falls out of my brain and onto the page, feel free to send me ideas…it could be fun!!!

Super Z Update!!!!!!!

Super Z update
It’s been a long time since I have posted.  It’s been an amazing year though! My facebook timeline popped up the other day and said it has been 2 years since Zayne had his last brain surgery.  Pictures of him in a wheelchair and seeing his paralysis have flooded my phone.   I can’t help but look at those pictures and be so amazed at how far he’s come!!  I read a post that he had taken 5 steps in the hospital and I look at him now running around and doing great!!  The past couple MRI’s have come back showing this tumor to be getting smaller and smaller!!  And on top of that we just went to his Neuro-opthamologist on Monday and got the most amazing report.  And here how that goes…

Zayne and I took off for Grand Rapids blaring our music as always!  The drive was quick and we were both excited about this visit.  I had been hearing from the people that work with Zayne that they felt his eye sight was improving, so I was excited to see the results!  He hopped up in the chair and waited for the exam to begin.  The assistant took him through the same series of tests we’ve been through so many times and wrote down his numbers in the computer.  The Doctor came in and tested him as well.  He asked Zayne how he felt his vision was.  Zayne, so matter of factly said, “It’s better.”  He said with a confident nod.  The doctor said “Why do you think that?”  Zayne looked at him and plainly said “Uh….because I can see better.”  Saying it as though the doctor didn’t hear him the first time.  I had to put my hand over my mouth and stifle a laugh.  Zayne just sat there a little confused.  The doctor turned around and looked at me and said “Well, he is absolutely right.  His color has improved in his right eye (which is the one that sees 400).  The reason we test color every time is because it’s directly related to the optic nerve.  So because he is seeing color in his eye that has struggled the most, tells me there has been a release in pressure.  Meaning the tumor isn’t as tight around that optic nerve.  I’m really looking forward to his upcoming MRI.”  I sat there still processing what he said.  He basically said the tumor isn’t as strong as it was and it’s not strangling my kids optic nerve…the nerve that allows him to see.  I blinked a couple times and talked more with the doctor.  We said our goodbyes and headed out the door and by the time we got to the car I was jumping out of my skin.   I was so excited I couldn’t stand it! We made so many phone calls!  I looked over at Zayne and said “Do you know what this means buddy?”  He smiled and shook his head “Yea…it means I can see better!”  I laughed and said “Yea and it means this tumor is shrinking!”  He nodded his head and said “Yea… I know.” And he really did 🙂 That’s the crazy part, he knows what’s happening.  He knows the tumor is going away and he is excited with us, but not surprised.  He’s such an amazing kid!  So smart, not only intelligent but just smart about life!!

And this Wednesday we got an MRI which he did without sedation!!!!  He was so brave…going back to the MRI knowing I wouldn’t be with him and it would be the doctors and nurses talking to him.  He is basically put in the MRI machine and a cage is put over his head…then it’s a normal MRI.  But no one, as most of you know, is allowed in there with him.  Everyone else is behind the window of glass.  And for a kid that deals with anxiety because of his sight issues I was BEYOND proud that he opted to try it.  He asked great questions before hand including whether the doctors would have to start all over if he changed his mind in the middle of it and wanted to go to sleep.  He was just so calm.  It was absolutely watching him transform in front of my eyes.  The last MRI we were talking about it and he freaked out when I mentioned it on the day of.  But Wednesday he seemed super nervous at first and then after he was finished asking all of his questions he seemed…good.  In fact when I kissed him and said I would see him when he got out (I expected him to panic) he looked at me and said in his big man voice “Ok, Bye….Love ya”  He came through with flying colors.  And the results came back as well!!  This tumor is shrinking bit by bit!!  I’m just so excited that LIFE is changing for my boy!!  Life is slowly taking steps toward allowing him to be a child.  Not only is the tumor shrinking but we are also able to move to 4 month MRI’s.  I know that is only 1 month longer than what they have been but that means 1 more month of getting to be a kid!!!  I’m BEYOND happy for him to slowly but surely step out of this journey we have been on.

We are so thankful for this news!!! And couldn’t wait to share it with everyone!!   As always thankyou for all your prayers and support!!

Super Z Family!!

Notice Anything Wrong with This Picture?

“Bo.  Go grab your jersey for tonight.” I said as I got myself together to walk out the door.  I had some evening clients and I was doing my best to make my reflection in the mirror not look as though I had already put in an 8 hour day.  Bo was ready for basketball in seconds… he loves it, and never lolligags when it’s time for practice or a game…too bad I can’t get the same enthusiasm for cleaning his room.

Ten minutes later, I dropped Bo to practice and off to work I went.

After work I caught up on the group texts for the basketball team.   They were sharing the team picture and the line under the last set of pictures read…

“The last four are the team with Bo ‘not’ in an Olivet Jersey.”

Oh as soon as I saw it I laughed right out loud.  You see, at the beginning of the season there was a misprint.  Needless to say all the boys have jerseys that say Olivet.  So when Bo grabbed his Jersey in a rush he ran out with the wrong one.

This part of the story alone, I am sure comes as no surprise to anyone who knows my family.  I will openly admit, my kids get it from me.   However, the story doesn’t end there.  When the coach snagged a jersey from one of the boys on the other Springport team so they could get the picture with the right name on ALL the jerseys, Bo looked up at the coach, and with all sincerity said… “But coach, that is not my number…. How can I where that?” hahahaha  Seriously, he was concerned!!!

I have been laughing about this for days.  That kid cracks me up.   As I put this blog together I found myself remembering, my very first blog was about this kid, and here he is still supplying me with entertainment.  I sure do love the smile he puts on my face.  And I especially love the way her marches to the beat of his own drum.  He will make an amazing impression on this world someday… I am quite sure of it.

 

Super Z update (Peter Pan)

Well as most of you have heard the chemo is working!  Jake and I are beyond blessed!!  The week of an MRI is never any fun.  However, they may become a little more fun if we keep getting news like this 😀   Here’s the story from that day.

We made our way over the familiar bridge at Devos hospital. It’s an enclosed bridge that connects the parking garage to the hospital.  Zayne has always loved seeing the cars pass below his feet.  I had this feeling of disbelief when thinking we used to have to come for IV chemo once a week a couple years ago.  The first year ran through my mind after finding out he had a tumor.  Diagnosis, put in the port, IV chemo, tumor starts to shrink, 9 months later the tumor starts to grow and a cyst had doubled in size, headaches were non-stop.  At that point my little boy still had curls and a bink in his mouth. He still flew to Neverland with his cousin Wendy (Kate) whenever they were together.  Today, as I looked down at him walking beside me, I see what a little man he has grown into.  No more curls, no more bink, his toddler grin has turned into a boyish grin. However, he is still Peter and she is still Wendy.  Sometimes I still see small flecks of pixie dust on his cheeks when he smiles and the same little light in his eyes that makes him who he is. We made it to the elevator and before I could tell Zayne which number to push, he pushed the number 10.  Apparently after 4 years of coming here he doesn’t need me to tell him what floor we are going to.  I smiled as I put my arm around his shoulder.  I again went back in time remembering the first port access.  Remembering how horrific it was.  I remember when the tears had stopped I stepped out of the room leaving Z with Jake.  I went out to the lobby and stepped out onto the “quiet area” that was all windows that looked over Grand Rapids.  I dialed Gina and the only words I was able to get out were “I can’t breathe.”  I kept reliving the moment of watching him lay there not able to understand what was about to happen, he looked so calm as the nurse prepped him for the port access. Then as she pushed the needle in watching his lips turn blue as he screamed in pain.  And all Gina did was say “It’s ok, just breathe Jess…that’s the only thing you have to do right now….just breathe.”  I was finally able to tell her in pieces of the horror.  “He’s 3…..he’s only 3….so much pain…nothing I can do.”  I said between sobs.  I remember feeling so out of control to the point of insanity.  I remember how heavy my chest felt.  “It’s over now…Just breathe Jess.” Gina kept saying.  “I have to….do it….again next week.”  I said between sobs again.  “Don’t think about that….it’s done TODAY…get through TODAY.  He’s fine now.  Just breathe and get through today.”  I came back to the present as we were in the elevator riding up to the chemo floor and all quickly I found myself going back to the past to when my husband sent out Zayne’s MRI scans to 11 different hospitals. Texas was the first to call us.  I remember walking into MD Anderson texting my sister at every turn.  I remember the smell of the toy room on the pediatric floor.  And then meeting Dr. Sandburg, the neuro-surgeon.  I remember the confidence in his eyes as he looked at me and said “I saw Zayne’s scans and immediately knew I could help him.”  And before we knew it we were looking at short term apartments and headed down to brain surgery so many miles from home.  I think of the small yet monumental moment of being able to breathe after the first surgery.  Zayne had come through it like a champ.  He was off pain meds by the end of the first day, and was discharged on day 2.    And for a good 6 weeks my family was whole again.  No headaches, no moods, just my little family as it should be.  “Mom?”  My thoughts were interrupted by Zayne looking at me telling me it was time to get off the elevator.  We made our way up to the front desk and got his medical bracelet.  We barely sat down when Rich, the tech who always took Zayne’s vitals for all his appointments, called Zayne’s name.  We walked through the familiar double doors and proceeded to the room.  “Do I have to get a poke mom?”  I looked at Zayne as I tilted my head to one side.  “Why are you afraid of these pokes?  You have your magic cream on, and it’s over in 2 seconds.  Not to mention you’ve been through, not one but TWO brain surgeries.”  I said this trying to encourage him to be OK with this process.  Drawing his blood and having MRI’s will always be a part of his life.  The doctors have said this type of tumor never really goes away and that people just keep it at bay.  I just wish I could teach him to take the small things in stride.  He quit listening to me and distracted himself with washing his hands and playing in the sink.  Sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come in and give us MRI results gave my mind time again to trail off to the past.  This time I remembered a time 2 months after his first brain surgery.  He walked through the kitchen and I saw the all too familiar look on his face.  “You feeling ok buddy?”  I believe he dealt with pain so much that he wouldn’t know to tell me when his head hurt a little and instead would wait until it was unbearable.  “Yes Mom.”  He said rather annoyed.  Another classic sign he was in pain.  He was only 4.  So young to deal with so much, and this was already with 2 years of symptoms and the diagnosis of a tumor under his belt.  I watched him slowly walk to his bedroom.  I told myself it was nothing, even though I knew.  My mom gut hadn’t failed me yet and it was telling me loud and clear.  10 minutes later Zayne walked back into the kitchen telling me his head hurt.  After another couple weeks and a lot more headaches we scheduled an MRI. Sure enough the cyst had re-inflated almost too its original size.  But it was so soon after surgery that we couldn’t go back in and deflate it so we decided to try another chemo instead.  Everything was stable for a while and then, not but a year later we were headed to TX for another brain surgery.  I was yanked out of my reminiscing when I felt a splash of water on my face.  I looked up to see Zayne mischievously standing there with wet hands.  He started laughing as I gave him a look of revenge. All the sudden his eyes got big and he said “Mom…I have to go to the bathroom.”  As if he waited too long to tell me.  I rolled my eyes and said “Ok…let’s go!”  I took his hand and as we were walking down the familiar corridor of exam rooms on our way to the restroom, we passed the room I got the worst news of my life in. And as I stood by the bathroom door waiting on Zayne I couldn’t help but go back to that dreadful day.  I remembered the oncologist going over MRI scans and I’ve seen enough of them to know what I was looking at.  And I saw it.  It felt like the oxygen was suctioned from the room.  But again I tried to convince myself that maybe I was wrong…I mean I’m no doctor, I could absolutely have it wrong.  The oncologist asked me to step into the hall with her so the kids wouldn’t hear.  Both my boys were sitting on the exam table watching a show on my phone.  We stepped out and I felt the hallway begin to shrink.  She started to tell me of a brand new tumor that was enhancing on his brain stem.  Everything I had feared seconds before had just become my reality.  Tears welled.  Her voice became muffled.  I remember her saying she was going to consult with Texas and also a friend of hers in Boston.  She also told me to keep a good eye on his motor skills as this new tumor was hovering right over the area of motor control.  I had an hour and a half drive home that day with both my boys in the car.  There would be no breaking down for me in that moment.  And when we finally arrived home I was relieved when I heard Zayne ask Ayden if he wanted to go “mining for gems”.  They grabbed their shovels and helmets and jumped on the 4-wheeler.  And they were off…off to Neverland looking for buried treasure.  As soon as they stepped out of the house I let the tears fall and true emotion take over.  I remember trying to wipe the tears out of my eyes enough to see them driving around the pasture.  Watching their smiles and seeing their boyish personalities, I found myself wishing for more time with them.  Their being here with me is why I love living life.  I lost my breath for a moment and when it came back to me I was asking, begging, pleading to God that He would just protect them.  I knew I had no control.  I had no options. I had NO WAY of fixing this.  I didn’t know how to stop that tumor from growing.  And I am not the mom to watch her little boy slowly go downhill from a brain stem tumor.  I had nothing.  I needed God to step in.  I needed Him to show up.  I remember looking out the window at my boys and saying out-loud “I need You to take the angel you have given me and send him with my boys from here on out.  They need him…Please. If I can’t protect them from these things in life show me YOU will. ” I cried hard for a moment and when I looked up at my boys again… I saw him.  My angel, who had walked me through each brain surgery, walked me through every road block and every trip to Texas, and simply showed up whenever I asked.  His wings were so vast and they so easily encircled my beautiful boys.  He hovered over them so protective and yet so graceful.  I remember seeing their smiles, they had no idea, but I did.  I just kept repeating the words thank you.  I watched him for a bit and when I went to grab a Kleenex and came back he was no longer visible to my eyes.  I knew God was answering my prayer.  I came back to the present moment when I heard the door open and out walked Zayne.  “All better?” I asked with a grin.  “Yup” he said matter of factually. We walked back to our room just in time to see the oncologist walking in as well.  “I’m so excited to show you these scans!!!” She said.  I was slightly confused….”They are good?”  I asked.  “Good?  They are GREAT!”  She exclaimed.  Her energy was palpable!  All though, I found myself putting my guard up.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up just to be let down once again 3 months later.  It’s been a while since we’ve had good news that actually stuck.  And as parents in these situations you find yourself preparing for a fall rather than stepping into Neverland believing the impossible.  She pulled up the scans and I saw everything before she pointed anything out to me.  The tumor on the brain stem had shrunk a CONSIDERABLE amount and one of the 3 cysts was completely gone.  I hesitated to jump for joy. I warred with getting too excited. I wasn’t sure if the chemo would keep working.  What if it doesn’t?  What if I get excited and 3 months later the tumor is bigger than it was when we first found it?  I was struggling with mixed emotions.  She noticed and softly took me by the shoulders and said “This is Great news Jessica!! It’s working!!”  I vacantly shook my head and put on a smile.  “Yes!! Yes it’s great, sorry…I’m just….. this is awesome!!” I stammered.  She pulled me in for a hug and I could tell I didn’t give her the reaction she hoped for.  And I started thinking of all the bad news she’s had to give me over the past couple years.  And I realized that these doctors live for days like these, just like we do.  I can’t imagine working in her area.  The days she gets to say ‘The chemo is working’ are probably the best days of her job.  As we left I found myself on a tight rope.  I could truly get excited and this as a true break in our journey…recharge so to speak…rejoice in the good news!  Or I could play it safe as I always do.  Not get over excited so when the other shoe drops I’m not caught off guard.   I called Jake and texted my sister the news.  Everyone was in shock.

“Mom, can we get Chick-fil-A on the way home?”  Zayne asked “Um….Maybe.”  I answered as we made our way out to the parking garage.  I pulled out my phone and called my dad.  My dad is a dreamer.  A positive dreamer.  Only a handful of times can I remember feeling him get frustrated with everything going on with my son.  Otherwise it is always with such sincerity that he will say “It’s all gonna work out Jessie, it just has to.  He’s too strong NOT to beat this.”  And to a mom who’s been EXHAUSTED for 4 years…this is hope.  He answered my call like this “Tell me some good news.”

“It’s working…the chemo is working!!  The tumor is shrinking!!” I exclaimed. Zayne looked up at me puzzled.  I realized at that very moment he didn’t understand what was going on.  And I also realized I’ve never actually involved him in the news before.  We haven’t gotten good news in a while and he’s always been so young.  But he’s 7 now. I got off the phone and knelt down in front of Zayne.  I held both his hands and asked “Do you know what’s going on with your tumor?”  His eyebrows lowered…”No.” he said perplexed.  “It’s shrinking!!  God showed the doctors what medicine would help you and now that pill you take every morning and every night is making that tumor disappear.”  I explained to him with a hope in my voice he probably hasn’t heard in a while.  He let it register for a moment and then with such sincerity said “WHOA….”  with eyes as bright and big as the sun!!  And something happened to me while I watched him enter a whole new world.  The belief I saw in his eyes just spoke hope to me.  A different kind of hope.  I watched him get excited.  “That’s really good news Mom!”  I saw him begin questioning things, wondering how long before it’s completely gone.  It was astounding.  And I found myself question my own beliefs about this tumor.  Why would I want to believe anything different?  Why would I want to waste one more second trying to prepare myself for bad news next?  It was in that moment I decided that even if bad news is around the bend I would rather be in Neverland with him rejoicing, than in Hell waiting for the worst.   I was blessed to watch the bright colors behind his eyes grow stronger.  His cheeks glowed!  He KNOWS, without a doubt that this tumor is shrinking. I can’t imagine what will happen next!  Belief is an incredible thing!!  I feel when we embrace belief we achieve the impossible God intended us too.  And I found myself watching his bright eyes enter into an undiscovered part of Neverland, the part where maybe he doesn’t have to live with this tumor…at all.  And on the ride home we both felt lighter.  We were sprinkled with a little bit of pixie dust today at the hospital!  And there is no doubt in my mind he will spread his pixie dust to everyone he meets!!  Later that day I was also able to tell my other son Ayden of the amazing news!  And you know what I saw?  The same questions, the same excitement and then…the same belief!  And I realized, this was more than Hope…this was Victory.

“All it takes is faith and trust…and a little bit of pixie dust

and you can FLY”

~Peter Pan~

 

Super Z Update

Super Z update

I first off want to apologize for how LONG it has been since I last wrote.   He has been doing great on the chemo pills!!  He takes one morning and night and no nausea as of now and its been 3 months!!  In fact, no side effects as of now except for the multiplying of warts.  OYE….as if those things weren’t hard enough to get rid of in general.  But I’ll take warts over sickness ANYDAY!!  Of course he is a champ!!  He has been juggling school, therapy, doctors appointments, chiropractor appointments.  I gotta say for being as young as he is I’m just super proud of the fact that he LOVES therapy, LOVES school and only complains now days when an MRI is coming or when he has to get a poke.  And for this Mama, I can handle that.  We do go back for an MRI today October 2nd and get results on the 5th.  I do feel differently handling it this time around.  I don’t feel as crazy and I find myself making moments count.  Playing games, digging in the sand, counting his post it’s, reading books, crafting more and just having those quality moments together.  Sometimes I do find myself thinking of the tumor being on his brain stem and the what if’s invade the quiet peaceful places in my mind.   And when they do I feel like I need someone to rush in with the paddles and revive me back to this reality, but… I work through them as best I can and move on.  I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these moments very well breathing into a paper bag 😉 He’s such a neat kid, his imagination is awe inspiring.  And his personality is just adorable to watch unfold.  And concentrating on that sounds a lot better than trying to figure out if the chemo is going to work or what the plan of action will be if it doesn’t or all the other haunting what if’s.

He LOVES his teacher Mrs. Halstead and LOVES his aid Mrs. Kenton!  I feel they are so good at working together and understanding of what Zayne needs!!  And some of the stories I hear…my boy gets so spoiled by such amazing people!!  I really couldn’t ask for more support up at the school for my boys!!  There are so many loving and watchful eyes on them J Makes it that much easier letting them branch out.

Ayden is doing great as well!!  He is rocking out school and playing football.  Never thought I would say I’m a football mom 😀  But low and behold he likes it.  Jake is actually helping coach and seeing them out there together on Saturday mornings has been a blessing.  There is something magical about watching my husband teach our boys!! Nothing like it!!

And on top of all that we have started the process of building our house!!  Our basement is in and framing will start soon!! AHHHHH!!!!!  I still can’t believe it!  The ways we have been blessed by people is just unending.  Blessed so much that thank you doesn’t seem to cover it.  Jake and I plan to pay it forward and hopefully bless others as we have been!!

Thankyou all!!

A NEW Dynamic Duo

So my last post, “A Conversation Between Me and God“, was a bit on the dark side.  I painted the picture of what happens when I let my fear and my imagination play together.  It’s certainly not pretty.  In the Four Steps to Confidence coaching series, one of the pieces  I on work with clients, is putting boundaries on their thoughts and imagination.  Well, just like anyone else, I have to constantly practice enforcing the boundaries on my thoughts too.  Lately it has been more of a challenge than usual.  After Zayne’s last brain surgery I found myself allowing my fear to run rampant and my last blog was a snip it of what that looks like at times.

However, today, I am writing about some new employment for my imagination.  Rather than allowing my fear to continue to call the shots, I am learning to power my imagination with hope and faith.  Shortly after that conversation I had with God in my last blog, I found myself asking the question, why not send my kids some angels?  And seeing that I couldn’t find a reason not to, I put my imagination to work with my faith, even though sometimes it is only a mustard seed.  Fortunatly, I heard a story once that said that is enough 😉

So  I sent 2 angels to accompany my kids through life.  These angels walk just a step behind each of my kids, one at their right and one at their left.   Even though their wings are not outstretched, I can tell they will be massive when needed. I can see their strength in their weight as they hang from each angel who still so effortlessly carries them. The very top crest of their wings towering just above my children’s heads.   Each angel carries themselves differently based on each kid’s personality.  Josh’s are each strong, wise and protective. They offer protection and guidance when he needs it.  One of Kate’s is much like a body guard, tall and stoic, while the other is more like a sister. She is there for comradery.  Her wings are ever so delicately shimmered in color reminding me much of Kate’s personality when she was four years old.  I figured this would be good since she has all brothers.  😉  Timmy’s and Bo’s angels are protective as well, but they have a little bit of that childlike playfulness to them, giving them a bit of a skip in their step when they need it.

So now when fear’s boney grip tries to pry it’s way into the crevasses of my thoughts, well I take a moment to breath and imagine these protectors with each of my kids.  I told my kids of their personal guards, so when times get tough and I am not right there, they know they have someone to lean on.

Now I am not writing this to say that I am right, or tell you how to have faith.  Frankly your spiritual life is between you and your maker.  I am just sharing with you a piece of my faith experience that has helped me, in hopes that you would be encouraged to enforce some boundaries on your own fear.  And if you need any help you know where to find me.  (just to let a little secret out, the 4 steps to confidence be at a special sale price this fall, watch for more info on my Facebook Page.)  Till then…imagine great things for the remainder of the summer!

A conversation between Me and God

My imagination runs.  And not down the “how cool it would be path”.  Not the path of, wonder and awe.  Not the path full of light and adventure.  Not down the path where I conquer my uncertainty, pushing to impossible heights.    Nope, not today.  Today my imagination runs down a different path, almost as if I am being drug against my will.   As soon as I take the slightest peek down this dark, foggy almost swampy path, peering with slight hesitation, I feel something clutch my wrist and I am pulled along this rocky, yet muddy, cold wet road. The grip on my wrist is tight and at first I fight it hoping to run back to a different path, but it drags me further and further, gaining speed till my legs struggle to keep  pace of whatever is dragging me.  I reach to pry its cold boney clutch, when I see something that catches my eye.  I stop resisting and I take a closer look.  It is my failures.  Failures from my past all piled up and yet I can see them individually. Moments later my attention is pulled to the right of the path where there is a different pile of failures, it is those I might end up making in the future.  Not wanting to stay there I follow, almost willingly, this icy pull again on my wrist.   Moments later I see so much sadness, it is heart wrenching. But what is it.  I indulge my imagination and realize my family is in pain, crying, I am not even sure what they are crying about, so to help me out my imagination comes up with all the possibilities it could be to fill in the blanks.  Someone could be hurt physically or emotionally, perhaps a car accident, a divorce or a terminal illness.  The grip pulls at my wrist again, as I look down at my wrist I realize it is fear.  Fear has a tight grip and is pulling me further down this path and my imagination keeps allowing it to pull me deeper until we reach my deepest fear.  I almost can’t bear to see the scene, but I glance and in just one moment is it too late.  My fear and imagination have become extremely powerful as a duo.  The tragedies I witness bring me to my knees and I wonder just how long I will be able to stay conscious before my body shuts down in overwhelming emotion.  I have experienced this before.  When my fear joins forces with my imagination, when I let it run long enough I am incapacitated, a total slave to the fear and “what if’s” swirling around me.   As the darkness comes, worry and despair seep over this road I have wandered way too far down.  It is a thick sludgy substance engulfs me on my knees.  As this worry and despair begin to flood my body I can feel myself fading.  And in that moment I reach up, pleading to heavens that this insanity would not overtake me.  Somewhere in the far of distance I hear a quite urging.  Let them go.  Why?  Why would I let them go?  I knew he was talking about my children.

“I don’t know that you will protect them.” I yelled into the middle of these woods. “In fact it has become quite clear to me that you will allow them to endure more than I would ever be willing to let happen.” I almost sneered.  “So Why?  Tell me, tell me why?  I would love to trust you, but honestly I don’t.” I said with less resentment, just matter of fact.

“Because if you don’t this fear will consume you and you will die before your time.” The small urging, almost voice pressed on my heart.

“Seriously! Is that all you have for me! Come on!  Give me something good.”  I cried in desperation.

There the small presence was again, only its presence seemed a little stronger this time. This time sending me the message, “Although you can’t see, I can.  My heart aches for your pain, but I can see victory in the end, however, there is yet a victory now, and that is you.”

“Your heart aches for me.  Ha! I doubt it.  If it did you would do something for me.” My voice riddled with pain and bitterness.

“There is a treasure.  A treasure you can’t yet comprehend, but if you trust me it will keep unfolding to you.  There is a rainbow at the end of this flood.  And though your seas are rough, I have made you to walk on water, you know this.  I told you this years ago, and in that moment so long ago, you believed me. It is ok that you don’t believe be now.  I can understand what it must look like from your perspective, but from mine…well you will see.   But right now I need you to see something.

“See what?” I questioned this voice, wondering what it would possibly show me that would help right now.

“You need to realize that fear is not gripping your wrist Jamie.  You are gripping the wrist of fear.   If you let go of fear.  I can show you things.” This voice was now almost audible adorned with peace and strength both at the same time.

“I am not really sure I want you to show me.  I don’t like your plan!  I told you this, your plan SUCKS!”  As soon as I utter the words, I realize, I really do think his plan sucks at the moment, but I still believe in him.  So for a moment I am tempted to relinquish my grip on fear.  For a moment I am contemplating letting go and trusting his words are true. Ya know, about the rainbow and me walking on water.

“Before I let go I need you to promise me one thing!”  I pleaded.

“Because I can’t bear it any other way, and I don’t feel it is too much to ask.  Please, just as you have shown up for me in my darkest of places and made yourself so real to me, please show up for my kids.  I don’t know what adversities lie ahead of them, so please, get in their ear.  When they are clutching to fear and experiencing this insanity I never want them to know, please promise me, you will make yourself real to them.  I can only teach them so much, but I know if they can feel you and hear you, then they can walk though their own trials.  I can’t be right there for them all the time, and I know sometimes you have had to show yourself to me in a way I could see you and hear you.  Please, do this one thing for me.  Do whatever it takes to show them you are there in the midst of everything.  And then,  I feel I can begin to release my grip on this fear.

 

To my readers:  I hope you hear the message of hope. My fear can be scary, but I do my best to latch on to my faith to carry me through.  Here is a song that I have been clinging to lately, hope it will help others.