Musing Moments 130: LFTIO – Story Reflection


DSS Leadership – Assignment 7
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”

The book shared four stories. I am to reflect on them and explore how they may spark important emotions, memories, values, and influences.

Story 1 reflection – Book Revolution

Summary: A young girl in China was forced to leave her home with her parents during China’s Cultural Revolution. They had to relocate from their home in the city with modern conveniences to a small village in the mountains. Her parents were forced to leave their jobs. They had to abandon all of their possessions. Instead of packing necessities, the girl’s father packed books. When she wasn’t helping her family survive, she read.

After a few years, her family was allowed to return to the city and she was allowed to return to school. She applied to college. She scored above her grade level. She was accepted into a fellowship program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and is now a medical researcher at a global company.

“The vision, values, and courage of my father remind me daily what true leadership is: maintaining your dignity; staying true to yourself and what is important; care for others at great personal risk; and courageously challenging authority when your deepest values are at stake.”

Did this story touch you in some way?

It did. I found it inspiring. I feel a connection to the girl’s father. He felt that knowledge and his books were worth risking his life to keep. I feel he has a deep sense of honor he was unwilling to give up. I admire that quality in him and I feel he passed that on to his daughter.

Do you have a story in your life that resonates with this story?

Not to this extreme. I faced several application rejections due to having purple hair. While I realize that sounds a bit trivial in comparison, it is in the same vein of not compromising who you are to satisfy others. My hair does not affect how well I am able to do my job. I am not going to give up something that makes me genuinely happy in my day-to-day life to simply earn a paycheck. I knew I was making the task of finding a job harder by not conforming and dying my hair back to its original color. I also knew that I would find the “right” job by being true to who I was and am. I would find something where it mattered more what type of person I was rather than how well I could fit a cookie-cutter pattern.

Story 2 Reflection – The Deeper Voice Within

Summary: A man is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Eventually, he became unable to walk or talk or care for himself. He was able to communicate using a computer by slowly tapping out words to form sentences via slight head movements. When interviewed by Diana Pierce she asked what he wanted people to know about his daily life. He answered that he still wanted his thoughts to be known and that it was hard having his friends and family members ignore him, “as if I am just a green plant in the corner of the room.”

Did this story touch you in some way?

I feel a great deal of empathy for this man. It must be horrifically isolating to be talked around rather than talked to. I cannot imagine how it must have felt for people to not wait long enough, not be patient enough, to allow him to reply and to have conversations with him anymore as if the disease had somehow changed him.

Do you have a story in your life that resonates with this story?

I don’t think I do. Reading about this mans view of how he was treated by people he loved and cared for, friends he had known for years, reminds me of how important it is to listen to someone, even if it takes them longer than normal to talk. Everyone deserves respect and to feel valued and cared for; not ignored.

Story 3 Reflection – The Gift of Life

Summary: Young couple suffers several medical complications with family members and premature twin girls. All the medical complications resolved themselves. Everyone survived and is alive, but it was one hell of a year for the couple and their family. Living through the trials life threw at him laid the foundation for the husband’s leadership skills, priorities, and values.

Did this story touch you in some way?

Not overly. I can respect the man’s choice to donate his kidney to his brother and the struggle he and his wife faced with their premature twins. I can also relate to learning deep lessons and discovering yourself through harsh, demanding, and unexpected situations. Out of all of the stories in this section, this is the second most relatable for me, so I’m unsure why it is the one which sparks the least emotional response.

Do you have a story in your life that resonates with this story?
Yes. The year after my mother died.

Story 4 Reflection – The Compassionate Thing

Summary: Man’s father leaves the family. Ends up needing care due to an accident. Son stays at the hospital with the father and eventually becomes his caregiver. The father passes away and the son reflects on how because of the accident he was able to grow up and reestablish a relationship with his father.

Did this story touch you in some way?

Yes. I can empathize with the resentment the son felt in the beginning and the release he felt when he was finally able to work through his emotions to have a genuine relationship with his father.

Do you have a story in your life that resonates with this story?

This reflects a bit on how my own father and I were able to reconnect after my mother’s death. It is the most relatable story out of the four for me.


Daily Post 155: Finding the Words


So far today is going better than Tuesday. It’s almost 7 am. I woke up at 6ish. I stayed in bed for a bit with the cats, knowing Mama Ox would be awake soon. I was trying to avoid over socializing so early in the morning. My bladder wasn’t on board with that idea, though, so I found myself up and about.

I’ve made coffee. I’ve eaten most of my breakfast. The remainder of both are sitting in front of me as I type.

Mama Ox and I had a brief conversation about why I had inquired about Photoshop being on Papa Ox’s computer last night. We’ve talked about teas and different things to help fight off sickness since she’s been extremely congested this week.

Overall, it wasn’t the horrific dreaded task it usually feels like; talking to people. It was actually… mildly pleasant… I think.

Yesterday wasn’t as awful as Monday. The new RN was there. She shadowed my FA for most of the day, learning the nursing side of things. How to give and chart meds. How to chart in the computer systems. Things like that which I know the theory behind, but have never actually had to do since I’m not a nurse, yet.

I mixed acid yesterday. It went smoothly. The whole processes. No hiccups. No bumps in the road. It was awesome. The PD nurse drove down to talk to several of our patients about home modalities for their treatment. Instead of coming to the clinic for four hours three days a week, they could stay at home and do their treatments at night while they sleep. It’s a much more lifestyle friend form of treatment. I know I personally would rather that option or self-cannulation, but then I’ve worked through my fear of needles and I trust myself more than others.

Anywho. The PD nurse was there. The social worker was there. The dietitian was there. And the nurse practitioner rounded as well. It was a party.

We were actually running ahead of schedule. We would have been out early except one of our first shift patients had issues with his standing blood pressure again, which caused our last second shift patient to start late. At least the lateness wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t because we were throwing up our hands and being shitty workers. It was something outside our control and sometimes you just have to roll with it so we did.

I was able to make needle packs as well. New Tech hadn’t been able to get to them Friday last week, which is fine. If that’s the only thing that didn’t get done, then the week was a success in my book. Needle packs are super easy and I don’t mind doing them. I also got some in-service training done.

So yeah. A much better day. Things aren’t getting better for my FA as far as the personal matters requiring her attention. I wish there was more I could do to lighten her workload. I feel the only thing I can do is continuing being a worker she can rely on, so that’s what I’m doing.

I cried most of the way home after work. Even screamed like how I did when mom was first hospitalized and the times when my grief is so intense. I don’t know what it was about yesterday that triggered that type of event for me. Maybe it was left over frustration from Monday on top of all the emotional and mental work I’ve been doing for my leadership class along with my companion of Grief who I seldom give enough time to.

I’m not sure. But when I felt the urge to cry I didn’t try to stop it. I embraced it and when it built to the point of screaming I didn’t give myself shit. Instead, I thought about how I hadn’t screamed in a while. Maybe it’s what I needed. No other cars were around me. I was driving through the middle of nowhere Nebraska. If there were ever a time to do it, now was it. So I did.

I screamed and screamed and eventually, I found the words I wanted to say.

“I miss you. Goddamnit. I miss you, mom. I love you. I want you to meet him. I finally found someone you would be proud of and you’re not here. He buys me waffle makers and is so kind and actually loves me. He wants me to be his wife and I want to be a wife for him. I want to wear a dress and have you tell me I’m pretty and I would actually have a kid with him so you could be a grandma and you’re not here. In a few years, I’ll actually be able to afford potentially having a kid. I finally have my shit together. I’m finally not a fuck up and you’re not here. I’m sorry and I’m sorry for being sorry.”

I could feel her with me as I drove. I felt her the whole way home. If felt good to talk to her.

Ox came outside when I got there because I wasn’t ready to go into the house yet. He hugged me and asked me what was wrong. I told him about my drive home; how I missed mom and it sucked.

He mentioned that Mama Ox wanted to cook dinner again, which I was ok with. I didn’t have it in me to arm wrestle for the task. After eating, I poked around on my computer for a bit. I didn’t stay up much longer after dinner. Ox found a small space heater for our room. I had mentioned that I had been painfully cold for the past few nights and that I felt it was one of the reasons I haven’t been sleeping well.

I slept with the electric blanket wrapped around my feet again. I think the space heater and the blanket helped. I slept the whole night, without Benadryl or alcohol to force me into slumber. I woke up when Ox was getting ready for work. We didn’t have a cigarette this morning, which I think I”m ok with. I’ve been smoking less and less. It’s getting to the point where I can’t finish a whole one on my own. I get to the halfway point and physically I’m done. I can’t do more.

While I do enjoy my morning minutes with Ox, having him hug and kiss me goodbye while I was still wrapped up and warm in bed as also nice. I was able to go back to sleep for a few hours with the cats curled up around me.

And so here I am, a bit later, rested, emotionally even. Not really flatlined. But not jagged and broken either. I think crying yesterday helped. I think it was a good cry. A cleansing cry.

I have ideas of what I want to do today, but I’m not really sure what’s going to get done. I want to shower and go to the gym to see if that fosters more warmth and movement, motivation, within myself. I want to create the mockup image of the Wall of Fame which is why I wanted Photoshop. I want to finish flushing out the grocery list since Ox and I are supposed to meet in town for lunch and shopping. I would like to finally, FINALLY, do something about all the recipes I’ve been trying out. And there’s the ever-present leadership book that I found out has eight chapters, not six, so while I’m still past the halfway mark, I still have three chapters to go… ;-;

I need to go to the school at some point and talk to Finacial Aid. I want to make a hair appointment to have my ends cleaned up and maybe get my brows waxed before my first class meet for the leadership course. That’s coming up. Next week actually. Oh, god. >.<

I think today will be an ok day. I think I’ll get a decent amount of things done.


DSS Leadership – Assignment 6.3
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”

For the 2-3 most impactful and formative experiences and / or relationships, tell the entire story here: 

Story 3 – The Middle of Nowhere

The first few years after my mom’s death were hard for me. I had lost my strongest support structure, I had lost the relationship I had been in, I had lost my home due to losing that relationship, and I had left my career.

Essentially, everything I had been using to identify who I was had been taken away from me. I was no longer a teacher. I was no longer a girlfriend. I was no longer anything, and so I found myself with a vast expanse of nothingness within myself. A never-ending plane of smooth unmarred whiteness where once there had been “me”, or what I had felt was me.

I found myself in a phase I had never been before. Building. Who did I want to be? What did I want to be? What did I stand for? Why was I alive? What was my purpose, my reason for waking up each day knowing that mom was dead?

It took a while, but eventually, slowly, one day at a time, one breath at a time, I found myself. I found the answers to my questions and with each answer, a brick was laid on the plane of whiteness. A foundation, solid and unshakeable. I was going to be me and I was going to live my life and Life couldn’t stop me from doing it. I wouldn’t let it stop me.

During the first year, I obtained an apartment. Though it never felt like home, it was mine and I no longer had to worry about where I would be sleeping at night. I began taking classes as a way to get my foot into the medical field. I took a nursing assistant class though I never became state certified. The thought of succeeding at something while mom wasn’t there to celebrate with me was still too much to face at the time. I took an EKG class as well as a phlebotomy class where I overcame my fear of blood and needles. Eventually, I interviewed with DaVita. When asked if I felt dialysis was something I could do, I replied with, “I honestly don’t know. But I can promise that I’ll try my best and in the end, that’s all I can do; my best.”

I made it through the Star Learning program; two months of training where I was taught about dialysis and the skills I would need as a patient care technician. Once I was through training I began working full time at the downtown Orlando clinic. As time went on I became a stronger member of my team.

On a personal level, I began going to fitness boxing classes as a way to deal with the strong emotions of my grief. That led to joining a dojo where I learned jiujitsu techniques along with Muay Thai. Martial arts gave me a way to connect with myself. It gave me a new circle of people to interact with and a common interest to bond over. I met several key people in my life during this time which helped build me up as a person. They helped me discover things about myself and the type of person I not only wanted to be, but continue being as well. More bricks to add to my foundation.

During this time of growth and discovery, there were also negatives. I began working 12 – 16 hour days since that’s how the clinic was run. My time at the dojo and the gym became less and less. My roommate was consistently unable to pay rent and I found myself donating plasma as a way to keep making ends meet. I had to drive past my old place of employment nearly every day, a reminder of the emotional pain I had experienced and was continuing to go through, along with previous apartments which had harbored abusive relationships.

While there were positive aspects of my life in Florida, there were also negatives and while I felt this need to “get away” and start over, I didn’t know how. Where would I go? What would I do? How would I move all of my stuff? How would I afford the move when I already struggled with rent and personal bills?

It was a situation where there was so much to figure out it was easier to just stay where I was and accept that life just sort of sucked and would suck for the next while.

During the second Christmas without mom, against all financial logic, I rented a room at an extended stay for a week, packed up my computer, took time off from work, and spent a week alone, away from all of the stressors in my life. I renewed my subscription to World of Warcraft and spent a majority of the week inside my room playing the game with my younger brother.

It was the week of my birthday and this was my birthday gift to myself; surviving and getting through one of the hardest times of the year without having to worry about my roommate’s dirty dishes being in the sink or the endless piles of dog fur floating around the apartment. No patients or teammates to explain my sadness to. Just me and an imaginary world where I could run around and blow up bunnies or pick flowers if I wanted to.

During this week there was a guildmate I began talking to. Through the course of our conversation my discontent for Florida came out and how I wanted to move but didn’t know where I would go and all of the other unknowns that went with the concept of moving.

“Well, Lincoln is pretty much the opposite of all of that,” was his reply to my story.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, a seed had been planted. The name of a town led to an InDeed search for job opportunities. Seeing opportunities led to looking for my own company in the area. That led to receiving the blessing from my former FA to reach out to the FA’s in Lincoln. That led to a trip to Nebraska and an interview, which led to moving halfway across the country to start my own life in the middle of nowhere.

There were people who thought moving was a bad idea. There were people who thought it was a good idea. And then there was me. Lost. Confused. Caught somewhere in the middle. Unhappy but not sure if moving was the right choice to make or not.

I would be leaving my brother. My clinic. My patients. My friends. My dojo. The last remnants of my old life. And I would be leaving for what? A possibility of things getting better? A “maybe life won’t suck as bad”? I didn’t even know if I would have a job when I got there. It was just a promising interview and knowing that medical areas usually had a need somewhere. Did I want to leave everything I knew and trade it all for some unknown leap of faith here I hoped I landed on my feet across this giant chasm?

Would I regret not moving and trying to make it work if I were to die tomorrow?

Maybe a little stark and morbid as far as a decision-making process goes, but one of the final things mom taught me was that life is short. I’m not ok with arriving at my death and regretting my choices, so if I were to die, would I regret moving or not moving more?

After sitting and thinking about my answer, I realized my answer. Yes. Yes, I would regret not moving. I would regret not trying. I would regret not knowing if it had been the best decision I could have made for myself, or the worst one where I would have to figure out, once again, how to recover from a mistake.

So I moved.

Because I moved I am in the healthiest relationship I have ever been in. Because I moved I now have a renewed sense of family and belonging and home. Because I moved I have grown as a PCT. I am now a CCHT and NFACT certified. I am a CNA on the Nebraska registry and about to begin LPN classes with plans to continue to on to RN. I have attended Academy and plans are being laid for me to become a preceptor for my clinic. Because I moved I have floated to six other clinics and met the patients and teammates of my region.

Because I moved I can hear coyotes at night and see the stars filling the sky. I have found a dojo where I feel I belong and can continue to train.

Because I moved I’ve actually have had the time and space to make real peace with my grief.

So many of the positive events which have happened in my life can be traced back to that one week in the extended stay. So much of my life can be attributed to my choice to venture into the scary unknown and I wouldn’t trade any part of it for the world.

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

Daily Post 154: Writing Through the Frustration


I’m writing at the advice of Mother Earth, not that she specifically said to write. She said to give myself 30 minutes. 30 minutes to rage and cry and cruse and throw all of it at the Universe, because the Universe can take it. At the end of my 30 minutes, I can ask myself if I need 30 more…

So here I am. Sitting in front of my computer in the dark with the only light coming from my computer screen and Beady’s heat lamp. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that Ox has a ball python, but there you go. He does and his heat lamp is on. A faint red glow to clash with the bright white of the computer screen.

I’m frustrated. I’m burnt out. I don’t want to do anything and yet I have all of these things that only I can do and figure out and so spending the morning struggling to find motivation has me more frustrated until I find myself here. It’s 10 am. Ox is almost off work. He’s been outside working in the snow all morning and I have nothing to show for myself.

No. Instead I’m sitting here wanting to cry, wanting to be angry, wanting to throw in the towel and say, “I’ve figured out enough shit, I’m done. Not for forever. But for right now. I’m done until I’m not done anymore and leave me alone until I say it’s ok to tap me back in. Figure it out for yourself for a while.”

Yesterday sucked. Ridiculously sucked. Hardcore sucked. Sucked on a level of suckage that I haven’t had to deal with for a while and I wonder if that’s part of the issue. I’m out of practice with suckage. Things have been going well for the most part, so long, hard, fucked up days full of other people’s shit just aren’t my forte anymore.

I don’t know, but I feel like all of the tar and gunk and shittiness of yesterday is still clinging to me and I can’t get it to go away and it’s messing up my today, my present, the only moment I know for sure I have because we never know what’s going to happen in the future, and instead of doing something with it, about it, I’m continuing to let it spin my wheels.

So, here it is. All the thoughts and things I wanted to tell you yesterday. Yell at you. Scream at you. Rage and cry. This is what I have felt for almost 24 hours now.







How hard is it to do that? To do your job? There was no reason for us to run an hour behind. There was no reason for it to take you 30 minutes to initiate one treatment. ONE!

In the time it took you to do that one treatment I taped up four people, cleaned and restrung two maybe three machines. I got two additional patients onto the floor for their treatments.

Why did it feel like I was by myself, alone, trying to take care of everything? Literally, everything. I made sure the labs were spun and packed. I made sure the printer worked and that treatments were generated for the next day. I made sure we had the bare essentials for supplies on the floor because I didn’t have time for a full lunch, let alone restocking everything we needed.

Why couldn’t it have felt like you were a member of my team helping me instead of accepting our fate to drown in despair? Why did I have to swim for both of us while you did nothing except try to let us drown?

Yesterday didn’t have to be the day it was. It didn’t have to suck nearly as bad as it did.

I’m frustrated with you. Not with myself. Maybe with myself… with how much I am letting all this bother me, but mostly I’m frustrated with you and with the Universe which constantly reminds me that though I’m smart and capable and able, that I’m still not good enough to do your job. I’m frustrated that you have a degree in this and I don’t yet that piece of paper doesn’t seem to mean or do much of anything. It doesn’t make you a better worker than me. It doesn’t make you better at strategy or stress management or self-awareness.

I’m angry.

I’m angry that I CAN’T do more. I’m angry that I’m not allowed to do more even though I know, KNOW, I could do it better because I already am.

You need to work on you. Just like I know I need to work on myself. The difference is that I actually am working on myself. Those self-destructive thoughts, those shadow beliefs, I confront them. I know they’re not true even though they’re really good at feeling true. They’re not. They’re lies and I refused to be lied to, even by myself.

Right Brain: Fuck you, Brain. I’m not going to deal with your bullshit.

I work through those thoughts and seek help and I don’t give up when it gets hard. I don’t throw my hands up and leave my teammates to pick up the slack.

And while all of this is going on, I’m having our new RN, the one still in training, shadowing ME. ME. NOT YOU!

I’m the one showing her the machines and how to string them and watching her cannulate and explaining processes and what I do as a tech and all of these things. Not only am I having to run the day, but I’m also having to do that under the scrutiny of someone I’ve never really interacted with before. Does she think I’m a bitch? Am I overbearing? Am I explaining this well enough? Am I throwing her to the wolves by having to constantly run around to keep things going, moving, progressing? Does she feel ignored?

Right now I just want to scream, scream over and over again in frustration because I’m just so done with yesterday and thinking and figuring out and problem-solving. I just want to cry until all of that frustration is out and no longer eating away at me. It’s not a cry of despair. It’s a cry of rage and anger and heat and frustration and wrath. A cry which will burn away everything that was yesterday and leave the ground scorched and bare so something new can come from the soggy mud that was once ash.

It was one day. It’s over, it shouldn’t matter anymore. No one died. We made it to the end of the day. Just let it go. How hard is that to do, Brain? Why can’t you just let all of that negativity go? What good is it doing me right now? What am I not learning from this moment? What more is there to figure out from the experience of yesterday that I haven’t found to make you cling so strongly to those emotions?

Just. Let. It. Go.

We need to shower. We need to start the brisket which means we need to find the recipe again. We need to figure out the shopping list. We need to listen to the rest of our leadership chapter. We need to do the reflection section.

We NEED to do things.

Why won’t you let me do them? What more do you want from me?

I figured out school. I took care of so many things last week. I’ve been delving so far into myself with this stupid leadership thing. I’ve reconnected with several people. I’ve found out one of them is dead.

I’ve handled all of your shit up until this point. What more do you want? What more can I do?

And this is where I’m going to stop my rage, anger, frustration filled rant and focus on all the good shit that happened yesterday. Because, fuck you, Brain. There was good shit and I’m going to make you remember it. Acknowledge it. I’m going to force you to type everything out, word for word, as if they were weapons to slash through all of the anger you want to wrap yourself in as if it were armor.

No. You will face me and you will do what you’re told and I will not let you keep me here in the dark, wasting away one of the few days off I have.

My FA corrected my time card for me because I forgot to clock in Wednesday last week. She’s working with me to come up with really awesome ideas for our Wall of Fame. Mother Earth and I got to talk for a little bit yesterday while I drove home. The roads weren’t complete shit while I was driving. Not awesome, but not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. The patient I thought would be in the hospital wasn’t. The new nurse actually jumped in and helped during change over so I can only imagine how far behind we would have been if she hadn’t. She seems really sharp and caught on to things quickly and I seem to get along with her really well. We were actually able to talk. I have a better read on her as a person and I think she’ll fit in well. Mama Ox cooked dinner last night. It was already done and on the table when I got home. I didn’t even have to take my plate into the kitchen. It was mind-blowingly amazing and kind and even though I know it’s not true, I feel like I didn’t deserve that kindness. I could have at least taken care of the dishes. We sat down as a family and figured out what meals we wanted for the coming week. Everyone got to put something on the list. It was awesome. I loved it. I get to make green curry at some point. I had a cup of hot chocolate with peppermint Smirnoff and I slept the whole night. I slept curled up in Ox’s arms and he stroked my shoulder as he fell asleep. We make jokes about “teeth hugs” since I’m “not allowed” to bite him. Our relationship is going really well and I’m a wife and I’m ok with that.

Yesterday wasn’t all awful, so screw you Brain.

I AM going to go shower. I AM going to listen to my book while I cross stitch and pull the curtains back because even if it is below freezing still, at least there’s sunlight. I don’t need to sit in a dark room with only the glow of the computer screen illuminating my world. My world is better than that. My world is more than that. My world is more than yesterday and I won’t let you take today away from me, so there.

Screw you, Brain. I’m off to be amazing.

Musing Moment 129: LFTIO – Story 2

DSS Leadership – Assignment 6.2
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”

For the 2-3 most impactful and formative experiences and / or relationships, tell the entire story here:

Story 2 – Learning to Say Hello

My parents divorced when I was fairly young, around the age of 10 or so. The divorce was extremely hard for all of us. It fractured our family and none of us, my brothers nor myself, ever fully recovered from it.

My dad and I were estranged for a long time. Birthdays were missed. Christmases passed without phone calls or cards. Seats were left empty at significant events. My dad went on to remarry and to have two other daughters. Having been the only girl growing up, I had always wanted sisters, and now here I was, with not one, but two half-sisters who I didn’t know; two sisters which felt like had replaced me.

What did my dad need me for? He had two other daughters now who would grow up and have first dates and graduations and school events. They would have him to walk them down the aisle and hold their firstborns. They would have lives that he would be there for and I would forever continue to be this annoyingly weak little girl on the inside who just wanted daddy to say he’s proud of her.

After I graduated from college, a bachelor’s degree in two years, advanced achiever for my class, this amazingly successful student with yet another empty seat at a speech my dad was not present for, I had a realization. This was to be my relationship with him. He and I would always be a missed connection. This thing, this child-father bond, would always be an elusive thing that I was never meant to have or understand in this life. That’s what I resolved myself to. That was the closure I had thought I found after all of the hurt and pain I had felt due to his absence in my life.

Then came the day my mom was hospitalized.

I woke up at 3am on March 23rd for no reason. I looked at my phone morbidly curious about how much time I had let to sleep before having to wake up again to bike myself to work. Instead of seeing the time I saw an endless wall of text messages from my brothers and sister-in-law saying I needed to call my older brother, Jason. Countless missed phone calls where they all had tried to reach me while I slept.

I called my older brother.

“What happened?” No, “How are you? Is everything ok?” No minced words or beating around the bush.

“Mom’s in emergency surgery. They don’t think she’ll make it. I think you need to be here.” His tone was calm. No hint of fear or uncertainty. Just facts and information.

“I’ll let you know when I have a plane ticket,” I said. I was already getting out of bed, my partner sleepily stirring next to me asking me what was going on. My brother would not have used the word “need” unless it was a legitimate need. I wasn’t going to ask permission to go. I wasn’t going to wait for work to give me the green light to be absent. I was going and everyone would have to figure out their part in the situation on their own.

I called my boss. I explained my mom was in the hospital and I had a one-way ticket and I didn’t know when I would be back. He said to take care of myself and he would fill my spot while I was gone. My partner drove me to the airport so he could use the car while I was gone to get to and from work.

I spent four agonizing hours on a plane not knowing if my mom would be alive when I landed. You never really understand just how long four hours can be until you spend it begging the Universe with literally every fiber of your being. “Please just let her be there. Please just let her hold on. Please just let me say goodbye. Just one last goodbye. Take all of my karma. Take literally anything, everything, else. Please. Please just let me have one more goodbye.”

You don’t realize how alone you are, how much no one else cares, until you spend those four hours in your own personal hell, facing your greatest fear while the dude next to you listens to music on his iPhone casually skipping through songs on his playlist he apparently didn’t want to listen to or until the hostess asks you if you want something to drink or a single serving bag of peanuts to tide you over for the trip as if the trip is a normal everyday thing and not a sick, twisted version of Schrödinger’s cat where you’re the cat wondering if your mom going to be alive when you land and are finally let out of your metal box.

You don’t realize your own insignificance until you see the world continuing to relentlessly turn while everything inside of you screams for it all just to stop. Your wants, your begging, your inner screaming and soul-crushing fears mean absolutely nothing in the face of Universal power.

You, a mere mortal, cannot stop time. You are powerless, weak, fragile, fleeting and small. All you can do is breathe. In and out. In and out. One breath at a time. One heartbeat at a time. All you can do is beg over and over again inside your mind even though begging does nothing. You know it does nothing, and yet you cannot help it. You cannot stop it, no more than you can stop that relentless, continuous turning of the world. Begging is the only thing you have to cling to. The only thing you have to keep you sane while people skip their songs and chew on peanuts and sleep restful sleeps as all their lives continue while yours shatters around you into nothingness.

I remember seeing my sister-in-law, Lio, at the airport. My older brother had stayed at the hospital. Mom had made it through the surgery against all odds and was currently in ICU. I remember walking down the corridor with Lio to mom’s room. I wanted to run. My body physically hurt with how much effort it took to restrain myself, to walk calmly, collectedly, holding all of my emotional shit together as I drew closer and closer to the door where I didn’t know what I would find.

I hated life. I hate myself. I hated the hospital with its sterile halls and smiling, helpful faces. I hated society and its oppressive demand to be presentable and collected and in control all the time. I hated all of it and yet I couldn’t show any of it. I wanted to scream that it wasn’t fair. What had my mom ever done to deserve this? What I had done? What wrong had we committed and to who? How had that wrong been so bad that this was the only way for karma to atone?

At what point is it acceptable to not be presentable, to not be collected? At what point would people be sympathetic, empathetic and not think that you are simply overreacting or handling it poorly? At what point is it ok to not be ok?

Seeing my mom laying there in the hospital bed, surrounded by wires and machines with numbers I didn’t understand and beeping sounds all around her was hard. It was hard to breathe. My body didn’t want to. My mind didn’t want to accept this sight as real and yet there was no way to hide from it, deny it, or change it into anything other than what it was. This was my life. This was my mom. This was my reality.

She looked so tired. So weak. She hadn’t known who I was when she had surfaced briefly from her sleep. She knew who Jason was, my older brother, but to her, I was Lio. Not Jennifer. To her, I wasn’t her daughter.

Locially, rationally, I knew her confusion was from the fog of medications. It was still the worst feeling I had ever felt. My mom was so close. I could hold her hand. I could feel her and she was alive and she was talking to me and yet at the same time, she was so very, very far away and out of reach and I didn’t know if I would ever get her back again.

I stayed the night with her that night. During the quiet darkness, she woke up for the first time. Truly woke up. I watched as her eyes moved around the room before settling on me. I saw recognition tinged with confusion in her eyes.

I took her hand gently in mine, forcing myself to speak. I was alone. No one could help me through this.

“Do you know who I am?” I asked. I was terrified. Terrified of her answer. Terrified that she wasn’t back. Terrified that she was never coming back and this was Fate’s sick way of tormenting me. Four hours seemed so short in comparison to the handful of seconds it took for my mom to answer me.

She rolled her eyes at me the way only mom could as if to say, “What type of a silly question is that?”

“You’re Jennifer,” she said in a weak, but very distinctly “mom” tone of voice.

My soul had never been happier. I don’t know how I kept from crying the sense of relief I felt was so intense. No matter what else happened, my mom knew who I was and knew I had been there. I could make it through the rest of anything else because I had seen my mom one last time. The Universe had listened and heard my screams and given me the only thing I would ever ask for again.

Eventually, my younger brother made it back to the states from Germany where he had been stationed with the Army. When he got there, the three of us stood outside mom’s room trying to figure out what needed to happen.

“Does dad know?” I asked.

“I haven’t told him and I’m not going to,” replied my older brother with such a tone of finality I knew to not press the topic with him.

“I haven’t talked to him,” my younger brother answered sheepishly as if he wasn’t sure if that was the right answer or not.

“I feel like he has a right to know,” I said, and so I found myself being the liaison between my fractured family and my dad. I told him about mom being hospitalized. I kept him posted for the two weeks we were there, and in the end, I was the one to tell him about her death. I was the one who made the phone call while standing in front of a window looking out at the mountains surrounding Las Vegas with the sun shining in all of its afternoon glory, explaining that my sun had died. Mom hadn’t gotten better and we weren’t going home and I didn’t know what else to say because we were still trying to figure everything out.

It felt like the words would choke me. That I would die, strangled to death simply from speaking such information and yet I knew I would have to keep speaking it, over and over again to countless people until I eventually, hopefully, went numb to it and no longer felt the gaping hole within my chest that no one could see but that I could so clearly feel.

My dad said that he knew he wasn’t on good terms with “the boys” but would it be ok if once things were finalized if he came to pay his respects. I was taken aback in that moment. Even in my shocked, numbed, feelingless state over mom’s death, I could recognize the significance of him, the parent, to be asking me, the child, if he could do something. I was no longer a child. I was an adult, and if I wanted, I could say no.

No, you left us. You have no right to be there. No, you can’t come say goodbye. No, you were never there for us in the past so you don’t deserve to be here for us now.

I could have said so many cruel and hurtful things; all of the things I had wanted to say for so many years… and yet I couldn’t.

“This isn’t about what Jason or Jon or I want. This is about mom and what she would have wanted. I think she would have wanted you to be able to say goodbye and to have closure,” I replied because that was the truth. Mom would want everyone to have their own form of peace with her death, regardless of how life had played out. You can’t live with someone for however many years, have two children with them, share that many memories and moments, both good and bad, and not still have some sort of emotion for them. I had no right to deny my dad his closure regardless of how wronged I wanted to feel over our relationship.

We had a service for mom in South Carolina. I was the one who retrieved her urn once her ashes were back. I was the one who flew with her urn in my backpack because the only other option was having her urn shipped through the mail like a common UPS package. I was the one who watched as TSA scanned her urn while I shakily held out clutched papers saying through vocal cords that didn’t want to work, “I’m supposed to give these to you.”

“It’s ok,” he replied in an understanding voice as he waved his scanner over the blue marble verifying that it wasn’t some bomb I had planned to use to blow up the airplane.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said. His words were heartfelt. I could tell they were and yet the only thing I could do was nod my head, silent tears rolling down my cheeks as I took the urn back from him. It was all I could do to not break down in the middle of the airport as I put the remnants of my mom back into my bag, shouldering the weight of the marble onto my back and continuing to my terminal.

I was so tired. Of all of it. I was tired of crying. I was tired of having dreams about spiders invading my room. I was tired of talking to people. I was tired of making phone calls and of explaining my situation and figuring things out and closing accounts. I was tired of breathing and yet there was so much still left to do. So much… so very, very much…

I met my dad the day before the service. He took me to get pictures of mom printed for the service and to buy picture frames for them since I didn’t have the money to afford a rental car. We went to the service together. I shook hands and greeted people and accepted their condolences. I was now the matriarch of my family and this is what I had to do. I had to be ok because people needed me to be ok. I had to be strong. I had to hold it together. I had to be an adult.

That night, my dad took my younger brother and me out to dinner with a close family friend who had also come to pay his respects. For the first time since mom had died, I had a drink. For the first time, I was finally not the one having to be responsible or figure shit out or pay the bill. I had another drink after the first one, and for the first time in two weeks, I didn’t hurt as much. It still sucked, but I found myself smiling as we shared stories and remembered good times.

After dinner, my dad drove all of us to a bar where I continued to drink. I didn’t have to worry about being the designated driver. I didn’t have to worry about being alone or how I was going to get back to my hotel.

For the first time in two weeks, I could be a hurt, lost child becasue through all of the trials life and forced me through in such a short amount of time, I still had a parent physically at my side to make sure I stayed safe and ok. He made sure I knew that even though it might feel like it, that I wasn’t alone and I would one day be ok and that both he and mom were proud of how I had handled myself throughout everything. That I had done amazing and they were so very, very proud and they both loved me great big bunches and it would be ok.

My dad may not have been the best parent growing up, but my dad was legitimately there when I needed him to be there. My mom’s death taught me that all of the hurt and resentment I had over missed marching band competitions and Christmas cards was so insignificant when faced with mortality and the realness of death.

Was I going to let petty childhood expectations steal the only parent I had left, or would I, could I, learn to grow past that in order to have a relationship as an adult with another adult; flaws and all?

While my mom’s death has been the hardest, “I’ll see you later,” I’ve ever had to say, it allowed me to legitimately grow up and to be an adult with clear values and priorities. It gave my dad the chance to step forward and to be there in spite of all the times he had chosen otherwise. My mom’s death gave us both a clearer perspective of how important and meaningful our relationship is. He learned how to say, “I’m sorry.” I learned how to say, “I forgive you.” We both learned how to say, “Hello.”

Daily Post 153: More Leadership and the Walk of Shame


I’m writing a current post! Hooray for not letting life slip by for another week. : 3

I got a lot taken care of yesterday. We had breakfast which went well. I know I’ve been talking a lot about recipes I’ve been trying. I think eventually I’ll post a few of the links to spread the nifty things I’ve been able to find and that have been enjoyed by the family. I’m pretty sure the ink in the printer got replaced as well so I should be able to start printing out the new successes and adding them to my recipe book. It’s been slightly annoying having to constantly refer to my phone or written instructions in my notebook while I’m in the kitchen.

After breakfast yesterday, I finished with the endeavor of catching up on my writing. The last post I felt was rather lengthy, but I finally made it through the day that was the Thursday before last and all of the events that transpired as the week progressed. I made it through a majority of my “stay-cation” week and wrote about all of the steps forward I had taken in relation to school. I even posted my leadership writing; the first story out of the three I wrote for my chapter two assignment. The second story is going to be longer as well as harder to read. It’s the story about mom and how I reconnected with my dad through that experience.

Once my writing tasks were done I actually had sexy time with Ox. It was most definitely not planned and mind-meltingly amazing. I’ve noticed there seems to be a lot more touching lately, too. Not just sexy stuff, but hugs and hip bumps in the kitchen and silly little random things. It’s nice and a much-appreciated change in our dynamic from only a few months ago where it had felt like I was merely a roommate. It’s something I’ve become more aware of as I’ve realized very seldom do I feel that “alone” feeling any more. Ox still plays his video games most nights and I still do chores or cross-stitch while watching shows or listening to my audiobooks but the physical contact aspect of our relationship is doing better. It makes me feel more connected and fulfilled. It’s nice. It makes me feel warm and noticed and real.

Since there was sexy time, that meant the sheets needed to be washed. Queue the walk to shame to the laundry room that I didn’t want to take with an arm full of dirty sheets. The thought of having to walk by Ox’s parents in the living room with what I felt like was a neon flashing sign of, “I just had sex with your son. I’m a whore,” had me almost in tears.

Right Brain: I’m a good person, damnit! I’m not a whore. I’m not…

Evil Voice: Then why were you a slut having sex knowing people were home? Admit it. You’re a terrible, disrespectful person and those sheets prove it.

Have I mentioned that my brain can be a terrorist sometimes… because my brain is really awesome at totally being a terrorist…

I didn’t feel bad about having sex while it was happening, not that I was really thinking rationally at the time… But owning up to the fact that I had made that choice and non-verbally admitting sex had happened made me feel low; like I had done something shameful.

Ox ended up taking the sheets into the laundry room for me which made me feel worse. He doesn’t ask me to do things very often, and here I am, basically refusing to do a simple task for someone who is so ridiculously kind and understanding and patient with me.

I mean… what kind of person goes out of their way to search for and order the exact waffle maker online for you since you haven’t been able to find the one you want in stores? A really freaking amazingly good person, that’s who. So why can’t I be an adult and take our dirty sheets to the laundry room? We’re both adults. Sex is a natural and healthy part of a relationship. It’s going to happen. I’m not walking around the house in a slutty outfit with a collar around my neck. Washing the bedding is a normal task, not a mark of shame.

Left Brain: Um… Hi… I know you’re having a hard time right now, but could you please be a big girl and take the laundry to the laundry room?

Right Brain: They think I’m a whore! irrational sobbing

Left Brain: You haven’t even left the room yet… They probably don’t even know anything happened.

Right Brain: My life is ruined! I’ll never be able to show my face again. more sobbing

Arg. I don’t think the emotions associated with this situation are fully resolved, but I did actually come out of the room. No one chased me out of the house with torches and pitchforks for being an evil, sinful temptress. And just because I am that type of person… part of my brain is mildly offended over that.

Right Brain: I’m totally an evil, sinful temptress who’s corrupting your son with my evil ways, damnit!

Left Brain: I’m sort of getting mixed signals from you…

I got the wash going so the sheets could be done before bedtime. I also promised Ox that I would do better next time in regards to not freaking out over something that should be a non-issue.

After the small amount of meditation I’ve been able to do on the topic, I don’t think it’s “right” to feel shame over Ox and I physically expressing our affection for each other to each other. At some point, I’ll have to meditate further on the topic.

After I got the sheets in the washer I curled up in the corner of the bed, making a nest out of the pillows and my purple fuzzy blanket. I found where I had left off on chapter three and continued listening to my book. I got through the rest of it. I began writing for the reflection sections not too long after that.

The first section was about core talents. When I was done writing, I didn’t really feel much, which I thought was odd. If I was writing about something that was supposed to be “core” to me, shouldn’t that spark some sort of feeling? I mean, nothing? Seriously? No resonating, no “this is right, this is true”. Just… meh…? Is that my core? I bring “meh” to the table?

I left that section for the time being, moving on to the “core values” section hoping that would provide insight or clarity to what I had done “wrong” for the talents section.

I had to pause before starting that section, though, since it was dinner time. I did the cheesy taco skillet again. Since it’s such a hit with everyone I’m trying to keep it in the rotation. It helps that it’s a super easy meal to make. Liked, easy, quick, and healthy. Fits all of my criteria.

After cleaning the kitchen and dividing up the leftovers into containers to serve as my lunches for the coming week, I got back in front of the computer to tackle my “core values”. When I got to the end of it I felt awesome. Energized. I felt like I had written the essence of myself onto the computer screen. I felt like a badass.

Right Brain: Core Values! Hell yeah! /fist bump

These were the feelings I thought I was supposed to feel with core talents. Conviction. Unshakable certainty. Pride. A “This is me and screw you if you don’t think it’s good enough. I’m a badass,” feeling.

Ox and I stepped outside for a break once I had read my core values reflection to him. I’ve read every reflection to him so far. I told him that I still didn’t know what I had done wrong for the talents reflection, but that the feelings I felt for the values section were what I thought I was supposed to have found during that first writing.

Ox: Why don’t you start by looking up the definition of talent?

So when we got back inside I did. That led to finding a post titled, Skills versus Talents: Do you know the difference, by Marc Miller.

That! That right there! That’s what I had been doing wrong! Communication and time-management, and collaboration… those were all skills I had learned and developed through my life. They weren’t “who I was”. They weren’t “core”. They were just things I happened to be really good at. That’s why they felt so “meh”. They weren’t me. I’m not time-management. Hooray!

It was so… freeing; going back and rereading the last question from the section and knowing how I legitimately wanted to answer it now. I left my original response but created a new section at the bottom to house my new answer; my real answer. When I was done writing, I reread what I wrote.

This. This is what I’m good at. This is what I truly bring to the table when I’m in a group project or working with others. Not “meh”. I knew I wasn’t “meh”.

Right Brain: Core Talents! Hell yeah! /fist bump

I felt so much better and more… real after rewriting that section.

Since I had been a slacker and forgotten to switch my blanket to the dryer before dinner, I ended up cross-stitching while listening to all of chapter 4 once my talents section was rewritten. I’ll be working on the chapter 4 reflection sections once I’m done typing about my life.

Ox and I went to sleep fairly late. It had snowed all day, but by 11 pm, it had stopped and the snow plows had come through, barricading our driveway with a wall of snow and ice we would have to shovel in the morning. Problem for a different time…

We curled up together in bed and slept through the night. When I woke up I began cooking my roast so it could be done before breakfast. Not long after that Mama Ox, Ox, and myself teamed up outside to begin the task of digging out our cars. I got a fair amount done before Ox suggested I go inside and start breakfast, that way they had something warm to look forward to when they came inside. While I would have rather been outside doing hard labor with everyone, I knew that cooking was still helping and a beneficial endeavor.

I made a double batch of the protein waffles with scrambled eggs and bacon. I got the table set with plates and forks and all of the condiments. I poked my head outside and let Mama Ox and Ox know the food was ready and within a few minutes, everyone was sitting at the table.

It was a good breakfast and I’m glad I was a part of it.

Once everyone had eaten I went back to the kitchen to clean up the dishes. My roast was done so I cut it up and put it into containers to have as my breakfasts. I got the laundry switched for Mama Ox so I could wash my load of scrubs. Ox’s clothes were already dry from the night before so I folded them and put them away. Ox took the trash out for me since I cleaned the cats’ litter box.

And so, here we are. It’s a bit later in the day than I expected, but it has been a good day so far. I don’t feel overwhelmed or caged in. I think not having a million people in the kitchen while I was trying to do stuff helped a lot. I was able to play music on my phone and do my own thing without worrying about interfering with someone else’s task. I had everything under control and was able to focus without having to converse with others. It was a quiet, yet productive alone time. And for the most part, I’ve been given the space to write. Lil’ Ox has been in the room for most of the morning, but I’m at my computer with my headphones, typing away, completing something that’s important to me, and about to begin work for my leadership class.

Finishing chapter three put me at the halfway point of the book. It’s downhill from here. Even if the coming sections are harder than the first ones, there’s an end in sight. At least, for this book. I’m almost done with it. I can hold out a bit longer.

I haven’t meal planned for the coming week, but I know what I want to do for Monday and Tuesday. With the roads being so crappy right now, I doubt I would be going into town to do the shopping even if I had a list figured out. So I suppose off I go to keep figuring out this “badass leader” thing.

Core Values! Core Talents! Hell yeah!

Musing Moment 128: LFTIO – Story 1

DSS Leadership – Assignment 6.1
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”

For the 2-3 most impactful and formative experiences and / or relationships, tell the entire story here:

Story 1 – The Makeup Kit

As hard as it may be to believe, I was once a little girl dressed in pink culotte outfits with twine braids in my hair, fairly carefree and for all accounts, happy. My parents were together. I didn’t question if there would be dinner that night. I played outside and when my clothes were dirty the laundry fairy magically washed them and put them away for me.

It was during this period of care-free, naive, and childish thinking that I had what has been a lasting and significant experience. I had a birthday around the age of six or seven. On this birthday I received a makeup kit as a gift. It was one of those cheap kits where the lipstick is more wax than anything and the eye shadow is much too glittery and the picture of the girl on the box is nothing like the makeup inside the package could ever hope to make you look like, but I loved it. It was my first “makeup” anything. My first “big girl” gift and as a little girl, I thought it was the coolest gift ever.

Since it had so many pieces in it, my dad had told me not to open it until all of our company had left. I always listened to my dad. He was my Superman. My hero. My knight in shining armor. As a child, I adored him and making him happy was always the most important thing, especially because I knew there were consequences if I did something I had been told was wrong.

That particular year, we had family visiting from out of town. I couldn’t remember everyone’s name. They were pretty much strangers to me, though I was told they were family and that they loved me. There was one cousin, an older girl, who really wanted me to open the makeup kit.

“My dad said not to open it. I’m going to get in trouble if I do.” I kept repeating that. Over and over each time she told me to open the package.

“Here. I’ll open it for you. Tell your dad I did it and then you won’t get in trouble.” She said as she took the package from me and proceeded to open it while I stood there. Looking back at it, there are all sorts of things I could have done. I could have gone and gotten an adult. I could have tried harder to stop her. As a small child, confronted with an older, wiser, more adult relative, I stood there instead, hoping that she would be right and that my dad would understand and listen to me and believe me when I explained why the package was already open. She was family after all. She wouldn’t do anything to get me in trouble. So if she said it was ok, then it would be ok, right?

That’s not what happened, though. When my dad saw the package was already opened later in the evening he asked me what had happened. I explained that the older girl had opened it. When he asked me what her name was I couldn’t remember it. He said it wasn’t ok to lie to him. I remember he was furious with me for disobeying him; for disrespecting him. And I, for my part, was crushed because even though I was telling the truth, that I hadn’t been the one to open the package, my knight in shiny armor didn’t believe me. My dad took my birthday present away from me and I never got it back. Ever. I cried myself to sleep that night.

How could my dad not believe me? How could my cousin have done something to get me into trouble? Why was I the one being punished for something I didn’t do? Why would no one believe me?

I know what it’s like to tell the truth and to have it not matter. I know what it’s like to face consequences for someone else’s actions that you tried to stop. It sucks. I feel a lot of my situation had to do with my age at the time. Had I been older would my dad have believed me more? Would he have thought of me less as a child trying to get out of trouble and more like a logical, rational human having a hard time articulating information?

From a very young age, I learned that people are going to believe what they want to believe and that judgment can be clouded by pre-conceived notions. I also learned that while it may not be your fault, you can still be held responsible to other people’s actions.

I try to keep this experience in mind when I personally feel wronged or disrespected or lied to. I try to stop and actually listen to the information being presented to me objectively. I ask questions and I try to get the full story. Not everyone is merely a little kid trying to worm their way out of getting into trouble. Sometimes we’re really telling the truth.