Sunday, November 06, 2011

I Will Praise You in This Storm

I will post more about what my family and I have gone through over the past several weeks as we cope with the passing of my sister in law at the young age of 34; but I just can't get through a whole post about it yet. For now, these are lyrics and video of a song that I have found particular comfort in right now. I have sometimes asked why, and did this really happen... But I try and always come back here, and take comfort in the message that I know is true in my heart.

"Praise You In This Storm"

I was sure by now God You would have reached down And wiped our tears away Stepped in and saved the day But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls I barely hear Your whisper through the rain "I'm with you" And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away

[Chorus:] And I'll praise You in this storm And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again My strength is almost gone How can I carry on If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls I barely hearYou whisperthrough the rain "I'm with you" And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Beyond the status update: Are we really happy?

How often do you see your friends post how great things are in their life? About how awesome their bf/gf/spouse/significant other is to them, the cute thing their kid just did or how great their co-workers are?
How often do we see happy little pictures posted of sweet moments, kind gestures, and fun times posted?

How often do you do this yourself?

For me, its ALL THE TIME!

I would hazard a guess, and pretty much guarantee that for every positive status update there are 20 more that are less than wonderful.

And here's the thing... If we are only communicating through facebook, email, instance message, and text, we miss what's really going on in the lives of people we care about. You can't decipher meaning behind words with no voice to match the tone to. And that can be detrimental. The strength of the relationship will likely weaken with these impersonal forms of communication; and while our "friends list" may keep growing online, it could quite possibly be decreasing in life.

So my plan...for every person I contact frequently by these impersonal means, I'm going to start replacing one text or whatever with a phone call or a visit to them. I'm starting small, because I've depended on the other forms for so long that it'll be difficult. But I think it is important to get back to the basics, hear a voice, see a face, and share a meal. I want to truely know what is going on in peoples lives...not just what they plaster to paint a better picture.

Will you join me and do the same?

What are some ways that YOU can get back to the personal side of communication?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The 10 year that almost wasn't.

This Friday I will be attending my 10 year high school reunion for CHS class of 2001!! I honestly can't believe it.

Why is it so important to me? One reason... It almost wasn't. My health troubles almost prevented me from walking with my class, much less graduate with it. But I was determined.

I must admit though, I did throw myself a little pity party after hearing that it was coming. You're probably wondering why. Let me explain;... -I still feel a sense of longing for those missed years of high school. The dances, the, friendships, dating, even the drama. All of those things that most take for granted, I would have killed for. -I'm not married, never have been. -I'm not in any kind of commited relationship. -I don't have any children -I'm not even terribly successful. ... I had this irrational fear that I would get to the reunion and get pitty stares etc, because I am significantly lacking in the areas that my other classmates seem to be excelling in. I guess the tendancy to compare ourselves to others in a measurement of self worth extends beyond the sheltered hallways of high school.

I gave myself a pep talk and have pretty much let go of the negative associations that I had previously applied. I have decided to instead, focus on the positive things that have happened in my life since thank the people who not only got me to graduation itself, but through the past 10 years to boot.

Special thanks... -my friends, for providing me support and friendship in a capacity fitting to their age at the time. For providing me support and friendships beyond high school, new ones, and strengthened old ones. I wouldn't have kept my remaining sanity if it weren't for them. You know who you are. -to my doctors, physical, occupational, & speech therapists who made the diagnoses and initiated the treatments needed. A special thanks to Dr. Peter C. Rowe, for providing me with the knowledge, compassion, and tireless efforts on behalf of my health, when other doctors just dismissed me. -to Dr. Dan Heffez, for finding the source of my paralysis, pain, etc, and correcting it through surgery. -to Joe Gager, my physical therapist who worked so hard to get me out of the cervical collar that I could have otherwise needed to wear for life. For teaching me how to walk again, allowing me the ability to WALK...unassisted across the stage and receive my diploma. -Dr.Romaniuk, for coordinating my care with my team of doctors and always treating my family with the utmost respect and concern for my well being. -to Carol Gregory, my homebound teacher who provided me with the ability to continue my education and stay on Target for graduation when I otherwise would have been forced to drop out and get my GED, for the friendship and genuine positive regard for me as a person, not just another name on her class roster. -to my family, who have been there and supported me through it all, providing solace from the harsh realities and perceptions of people who were uninformed and/or not keeping my best interest at heart. For believing in me. -and most importantly, my parents, especially my mother. She never left my side, and remains there to this day, daring anyone to question the validity of my suffering. For always loving me, even when I made it difficult.

There are so many other people I could thank, but it would take me a year.

Some numbers.... Since graduation... - 10 years. 3,650 days. 525,600 minutes. Multiple weddings. 3 surgeries. 3 degrees. The knowledge who really belongs in my life. Immeasurable laughs, smiles, and memories that I will never forget. That breakdown wouldn't be possible without all of you, so thanks. You have added so much to my life, and I love you all more than words can express.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The guardian

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I want to tell you a little story about how I was asked the most important question of my life.

I spent a ton of extra time with my girls this summer, and I hope to share with you our many adventures. And since these precious momemts are always slipping through my fingers, I tried to capture every minute while I could.

One Sunday afternoon my aunt called me into the sunroom to talk to me. I was a bit nervous because she doesn't usually do naturally I thought I was in for some kind of big future talk. Boy did I hit the nail on the head, she wanted to talk the future alright. That Sunday, she asked me if I would be willing to be the legal guardian of her daughters (my Goddaughters) Madison and Emma, should anything ever happen to their primary caregivers. She said she waited until I had plenty of time around them again to see all sides, and how I handled them. After observing us together, she said that there was no doubt in her mind that I was the right choice. Not only did she feel that I was the best person, but I'm also who the girls want to be with if they can't have their "normal". I don't ever want to have to do that, but if I did, I would become their new "normal". I would be their rock, and they would be my light. How crazy amazing is that!?!?

While I wiped away the tears that came in response to this incredible question, and we began getting into details about it, I realized that we hadn't heard a peep out of the girls for awhile. Quiet is never a good sign when there are non sleeping children in the home. Long story short, I found Emma handcuffed to the toilet at the hands of her big sister. I, of course, took a picture of it.

After my little discovery, aunt Brenda asked if I was still sure. I told her that I would be proud, honored, and humbled to be that safety net for her. than knowing the girls would be in my care if anything happened to her. I certainly hope that the day never comes, but knowing that someone trusts me and loves me so much that they would entrust their children to my care, now that is incredible.

Until next time... a little note to my girls...

In the event that the day ever comes, and I pray to God that it never does... know this, sweet girls.

I have prayed for you since the moment you became an unspoken desire in your mothers heart. I have loved you since that desire became a dream come true for us all. I have rejoiced with each milestone, wept for every boo boo and broken heart, laughed at every silly moment, kept every secret, answered every heartfelt question, danced to the music you bring to my life, and I would miss you even if I never met you. I will always be there. I might be miles away from your house, but I will never be miles apart from your heart. I'll be your rock, as you have always been my light. I love you!!

Aunt Cat

It's a pie thing

I recently had a friend pop up from nowhere after not speaking to me for MONTHS  (mind you, this is one of those friends one obtains in a relationship...and then when it ends you wonder who gets the friend, and said friend wonders where their loyalty should really lie) his and her friends...another casualty of the failed relationship. This particular friend requested I make him a pie. Which is, of course, the only natural thing to ask a person that you haven't heard from in forever. Musta been a Damn good pie.

Now back to ... Pie... Yum. What a tasty and relatively easy dessert to make. Unless, of course... you have the assistance of two little hands and a mouth that eats more fruit than gets put in the bowl. Last year mom promised Emma a blueberry pie but made a blueberry pecan and peach cobbler instead. For Emma bear, that concept was less than palatable. Food is not supposed to touch, and it really shouldn't be cooked just shouldn't. Unless of course its milk macaroni and hotdog aka juicy macaroni...then its ok, according to her. A dessert with blueberries, pecans, and peaches isn't cool aunt Barbara...silly aunt Barbara.
So again...pie...

I had picked a ton of berries at the vineyard the day before the girls arrived. I did so with the intention of having my Emma bear help make that long awaited blueberry pie. We worked together, I measured, she poured, etc...and her most valued contribution was when she working tirelessly as our in house quality control specialist, making sure we were using high quality and tasty ingredients fit for human consumption.

I'm pretty sure we got more flour on the counter, floor, hair, etc and blueberries in our bellies than ended up in the pie, but it was the experience more than the outcome. I must say though, it too, was a Damn good pie.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Don't just cope, LIVE

Coping with a chronic condition, owning and loving life no matter the obstacle.

People often ask me how I have managed to cope with everything and still enjoy my life. Because of this, I thought I should share some of my tricks, inspiration, and wisdom.
I am by no means perfect, and I don't always handle things as I should, nor am I always as put together as I'd like people to think. And I sure as hell don't have all the answers. I too, have
moments of weakness, "why me" times, negotiations with my body, and crying jags because I am just so sick of coping, and desperately want to just live.

So here it is...
-Surround yourself with good people. Having family and friends that love you and accept you is invaluable. Don't waste time with people who aren't worth it. The support will create a safety net to protect you from those who cause harm and throw you back up when you fall to the ground.
-Limit how much time you allow yourself to dwell on negative aspects of life.
-Be reasonable with your expectations of others.
-Focus on YOUR normal
-Don't expect to be able to function at everyone else's level, you are unique in every fashion. The sooner you accept this, the better off you'll be.
-Accept what IS, don't waste that precious energy fighting something you can't change.
-Don't fight against the illness, fight FOR yourself, and create a life worth living in spite of the fact that your life CONTAINS it.
-Realize that no matter how hard you try, and how badly people want you to get better, you're not going to by simply trying harder.
-Remember that even if you can't BE well, you can still LIVE well.

And that is all. For now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I dont look sick, you don't look stupid: Reacting to a PWC

After a person with chronic illness (PWC)shares their life story with someone, several things can happen (as can innumerable other responses and combinations)...

1) They get quiet and uncomfortable. 2) They ask or say unintentionally stupid & hurtful things before thinking. 3) They LISTEN & take time to process but eventually come back.4) They ask good questions, and support you, and might even draw inspiration from you. 5) They stay quiet at nod, but as soon as you part ways they take off running like their hair is on fire...
the most difficult & heartbreaking response of all (at least personally) is when someone is cool with it, supportive, etc, but then suddenly decide that they can't handle it after a period of time. This isn't something a person can get away from (at least not the person that lives with it)

Don't say you're sorry, there's no need. We know you're sorry you just found out that someone you care about lives with incurable chronic illness...if you weren't sorry, you'd be glad, and if you're glad that someone you care for deals with this, youre just weird. And if that's the case they should be the one running like their hair is on fire, not you.

Acceptable & welcomed responses and questions...
- how do you feel about living with it?
- What helps?
- What doesn't?
- Is there anything I need to know? Something I could read?
- How does it impact your life? -How does/could it impact "us"?
-Say that sucks, because it does.
-How do you manage to live well, even though you can't really "get well"?

DON'T say/do any of the following... or we might look at you funny and/or pull out your tongue and beat you with it, since its the organ that delivered hurtful or insensitive words....

-"You don't look sick" (really dipshit? I don't look sick, I look like Catherine, Joe, Sarah, least I did). Would you rather a person be pale, drawn, and incapable of holding it together? Would that make you more accepting of what they go through?
-"Why can't you just get over it?"
-"You should pull yourself up by the bootstraps" ...Please, let us demonstrate what YOU can do with those bootstraps.
-Don't offer me health advice;
...Im glad the accupuncture, crazy diet and breathing exercises worked wonders for your cousins boyfriends sister, but I'm quite certain they aren't living with the same chronic combo as _________. Chances are, if its a legitimate treatment option, its been tried, or will be suggested by a DOCTOR. If I want your advice on MY health, I will ask you. Until then, wear beige, sit down, and shut up.

(Please note that if someone suffers with a similar or same affliction, it is highly likely that they will, and extremely beneficial to share knowledge, and some people without any condition might have good advice and suggestions, this was in reference to aquaintances and people who don't fully understand what you deal with).

So let's re-cap....
Be quick to listen, and for everyone's sake, please be slow to speak. Choose your words carefully, because coping with illness is hard enough, no one wants to cope with your insensitivity too.

A prayer that I wish some people would whisper before speaking... "heavenly father, I feel your presence and your hand on my shoulder, but for today, could you put it over my mouth instead? Amen".

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dating dilemmas

After everything that has transpired over the past few months, I finally feel ready to date again. It was important that I wait until I had come to terms with everything before getting back into things...I didn't want to chance projecting past issues onto new relationships.

And here I am, starting this dance all over again. As some of you may recall from previous posts or personal knowledge, my health significantly diminished my ability to date much.

A constant struggle for me has been when to tell someone about my health problems. It is terribly stressful, frightening, and slightly embarrassing. It is a delicate balance that I try to handle with as much grace and humor as possible.

My dilemmas are as follows....

Why would anyone want to date or be in a relationship with someone who lives with pain and illness every day of their life? With someone who has learned to live, laugh, and love with a smile, through the pain, ...just so everyone else is comfortable.

+ When is there a good time to tell them how some days just getting a shower is a big accomplishment that might require a nap to recover?
+ When do you disclose that every so often you have days where you can barely lift your head, much less get out of the bed?
+ How about meds? How do you explain that you take a daily cocktail of prescriptions just to keep you functioning and healthy at your normal?
+ What about how the pain can be so bad that putting clothes on makes you cringe, and a gentle hug might reduce you to tears?
+ Here's a kicker; when should you explain that as much as you love to kiss, if its going to be longer than a minute you need to sit so that you don't piss your head off?

When should you take the risk of telling them even though you're used to people running when you do?

I don't always believe it, but, My only answer is this...

The illness is a part of me, but it does it define me.
If someone can't handle me at my worst, they most certainly don't deserve me at my best.

I just keep praying that the right person will come along and love me for everything that I am, everything I am not, and everything I will become, as Catherine...perfectly imperfect.
Looking forward to the day when that guy comes around and stays around.

Is there a man out there? Someone to hear my prayers?...

Maid of honor: Lessons from my married friends

Some of the things I have learned during my past stints as a maid of honor and bridesmaid...

*don't pigeon hole your ideal match...what you need might not be what you are looking for, so be open.

*Don't be too quick to put all your eggs in one basket, some might crack under pressure

*Let go and have fun, you might just find someone extraordinary in the ordinary, so be ready!

And most importantly....
Remember that men will come and go, friends are forever. Never neglect a friend for a man, because when he leaves, they'll be the ones picking up the pieces of your broken heart and mending it back together with THEIR LOVE!!!


Thursday, September 01, 2011


As I have coped with the end of my last relationship, I had multiple moments of weakness, where I wished it had continued and ultimately ended in marriage...and that's where it was headed.

What are some of the moments that led me running down the rabbit hole again you might ask?...let me share with you...
-When I got an invitation to a 1st birthday party
-attended countless bridal gown fittings
-stood by one of my best friends as they married the man of their dreams
-as I sift through the possibilities on dating sites and real life
-as I throw myself back into the world of dating
-when I remember just how close I was to that happy ending of my own ...

     And now I have recognized something. I am no longer missing and wishing for HIM, but for what he REPRESENTED, the possibilities that RELATIONSHIP. That was a huge revelation for me, and signified that it was finally time to begin this dance again.

After months and months of prayer, tears, and soul searching, the eyes of my heart are open, and I'm ready to not only see, but fully embrace what God has in store for me.

The best things in life are difficult to find, slow to appreciate and impossible to forget, and I can't wait to find it!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Those silly little love songs

We all know the kind I'm speaking of. The sweet tunes you love to sing along to when you are starting a new relationship, falling in love, in love, etc. Yeah, well...they make me mad at the moment. I've recently become single again a little over a month ago after an almost 10 month relationship where marriage was a regular topic coming up. I've dealt with it pretty quietly for the most part; but I am still really hurting at times. Its incredibly ridiculous, but many songs that I loved and my pretty much favorite artist, colbie calliat can, have had had the ability to reduce me to tears some days; if I'm in the right/ or wrong mood. I know I'll enjoy them once again, but for now; this is more my style...