using the semicolon


When one becomes a person of a certain age, one sees their doctor more regularly…unless one is my darling husband who would rather hide from what the good doctor is recommending for him these days. He’ll wait until he’s bothered by his daily hacking-up-a-lung cough that becomes even worse than it already is or until his wife’s nagging becomes unbearable. Me, on the other hand, I do try to see my doctor annually and not just when I am sick. Just trying to walk the nurse talk of the importance of maintaining one’s good health, building trust with a good doctor-patient relationship and stuff like that there. So today was the day. The good doctor sits down with me going over the results of the physical exam and ordered tests. The physical exam…perfect. Cardiac function…perfect. Lab work…in his words his 30-something patients should have labs like these.

“You’re a perfect patient!”, he concludes.

“Yes, except for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”, I answer back.

“Yes, there’s that.”

And that is why I use a semicolon all the time.

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. Every single day of my life I choose to use a semicolon.

No, not usually with my writing. I know my use of punctuation could easily be criticized…and sometimes is. Have you seen how often I over-use an ellipsis?

No, the semicolon here represents the fact that my story isn’t over yet. Far from it. I am my author and the sentence is my life and as long as I choose to live this life I will choose to use the semicolon…every day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Some days it is a struggle. Some days it can be almost a knock down, drag out fight. The fight to choose the semicolon, to keep myself grounded in the love others have for me instead of the hate I feel for myself, remains a struggle…and one I don’t always share for so many reasons. I hate being viewed as weak or less than or even just as someone who struggles. I hate being compared to the parent who far too many times in my lifetime tried to put a period at the end of her sentence. I can imagine her pain and her struggle. I lived survived a lot of it with her. It was so hard for her. So very hard. Still, no child should ever be the one to call for help because mommy won’t wake up…again. No child should ever have to try and get her younger siblings out of the house before the ambulance comes to protect them from seeing mommy this way. No child should have to run down the hill that was Davis Lane to flag down the ambulance because you can’t see that gravel road very well in the dark of night. Add that to the many reasons why I, every day, consciously choose to use a semicolon.

I should be stronger than this.

I should be braver than this.

I will always have anxiety. I will struggle from time to time with debilitating depression. I will sometimes become frozen in panic for no rational reason whatsoever. I will, at times, choose poor coping mechanisms. But I will always choose the semicolon.

My story isn’t over yet.

The Semicolon Project 416

underrated and pleasurable


If you don’t know be by now…you know how the song goes…unless you are like under 20 and you weren’t listening to your mama’s playlist all these years. Anyways…by now most of you must be aware that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I’m easily amused, distracted, entertained, aroused and I like to believe that it is not a bad thing to be that kind of person. Life’s too hard to not take a break and enjoy the little things, all the little things that are so easily within our grasp and there for us to enjoy. Unfortunately we often miss them, overlook them. If it’s not there on the screen of our smart phone or tablet it is oh so easy for us to miss it completely. At least it sometimes seems to be that way.

I am one week into a personal 30 day challenge which has been, well, challenging. Still it has given me much time to to notice and enjoy things that are always there, whether we appreciate them or not. Funny how sometimes the best things in life are often the most underrated. I found this the other day while distracting myself from studying for my NRP renewal wandering around the intrawebs and I had to bookmark it because so many on this list are things that I have enjoyed without realizing just how much I enjoyed them. Of course I have to share them with you all because I want to remind you all to enjoy the smaller things Sometimes we need to be reminded

From tickld

the awesomeness of hugs


I’m not much of a hugger.

Analyze that.

But true story, I’m not. Still I have learned to try to love hugs. And I do. I celebrate them.

Comforting hugs when you have had an eye-twitching, craptastic day.

Hugs that you enjoy with your Grandmom.

Hugs that you enjoy with your favorite cousin and your favorite Uncle Jesse.

Hugs you share with your favorite little brother never fail to warm your heart and make you smile because he is a hugger.

And who doesn’t love birthday hugs shared with your best friend at Disneyland?

Then there is one of the bestest hugs I have enjoyed recently which I do not have a picture of. You’ll just have to trust me that it was one of the best ever…a hug shared with one of my co-workers…a co-worker whom I always hug when I see her because that is what we do before we start a night in NICU-Land. A little more than a year ago she left the unit to fight a fierce fight. Honestly cancer picked the wrong person to fight with because after all that she has been through and all that she has to live for I knew that it wouldn’t be a fair fight. I knew that it was going to be a great night taking care of the tiny humans whom  I love so much in the NICU when I saw Brenda walk into the unit for the first time in over a year.

We hugged. We cried. We tried to fix our makeup. We laughed. We hugged some more.

I have no photo to share but I can guarantee you that it was a beautiful, wonderful picture that will last forever in my heart and my mind. If you close your eyes right now I bet that you can see it. Amazing, gorgeous! Isn’t it?

I am so unbelievably happy knowing that I can look forward to Brenda’s hugs before night shift in the NICU again.

selfie love


As if this blog wasn’t self-indulgent enough, I have been participating in a 365 day photo project: the #365feministselfie project.

The what?

Why?

Go ahead and roll your eyes. I know you want to.

You feel better now?

Good.

Talking about one’s sense of self love and self worth, Tamryn Hall recently shared, “It was not a magazine that formed my opinion of myself, it was what my mother told me…“. Ms Hall’s statement struck a very loud chord with me. How true this is. Children learn what they live. She went on recalling all the positive words her mother, her father, her extended family have always said to her about her and how that has always been with her with every success and setback in her life.

When I started writing in this blog, I began because I needed a safe place to put my thoughts, my fears and frustration. My plate was overloaded raising my five children including a very angry teen pushing hard and breaking through as many boundaries as possible and a medically fragile toddler whose weekdays were busy with appointments with specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy. My brother had recently died and honestly, it seemed like I was the only member of my family who was mourning him. So much was rattling around in my head that I had to have a place to put it and here is where most of it went. Through the years this has been a place where I could write about what ever I wanted to write about…my thoughts, my fears, my tears, my joys, my opinions…and they all mattered here.

Pretty much my entire life, even now, I have been told what is wrong with me…how I talk, how I walk, the colors in my wardrobe, I’m too skinny, I’m getting fat, my career choice, my parenting choices, my opinions, my beliefs, what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, my thoughts…and on and on and on and on….and it STILL goes on because as I approach my 52nd birthday I still need the correction criticism like I am still a child. It’s hard, very hard to recall ever hearing “I’m proud of you for being you”.

Children learn what they live.

But as this blog grew through the years into more than 3,500 entries, I have evolved and have grown to like me a lot. I like the parent that I am. I like the NICU RN that I am and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. My thoughts, my beliefs and my opinions are indeed my own and they are most definitely just as important as anyone’s…maybe more so to me because they are mine. Ten years of navel-gazing writing has exorcised a lot of demons and damage. Of course, it is a work in progress.

Which brings me to my own #365feministselfie. Pretty indulgent and narcissistic of me, isn’t it? Oh, and definitely attention seeking too.

Enough!

Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”

Hello, this is me.

I’m discovering that in this exercise.

I’ve never liked nor respected too much the image that reflected back in the mirror at me. I’ve never really seen what my darling husband has seen and still sees…I recently overheard him say that he has a hot wife. I don’t know if I will ever see what he sees or what my kids see; but I am starting to see things in these selfies that I do like…my curves, my edges and my perfect imperfections.

Self-indulgent.

Of course.

Still it is a very important part of my exercise in self-love.

Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day with a red zit glowing at  the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile. A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.

Added bonus is the kids will have a few pictures of me for my memorial someday.

And if the daily blog ruminations and selfies aren’t enough to cluck one’s tongue over…

It’s my birthday month!

car rides, spicy foods and serious conversations


I shared this on Facebook a couple of days ago because, wow, I had to! Daniel’s caregivers at Good Samaritan Hospital’s NICU, my colleagues, know too well how his story began so I had to share with them all…and everyone else. This child of mine, my son, is so amazing. Truly I am one blessed mama!

I love the chauffeuring of my clowns that is part of this juggling act of mine. No really, I do. If only because I get the added bonus of some of the best conversations with them. There is something about the being confined in the mom-car, staring out the window that makes it a safe place to talk about anything…really anything….OMG!…yes, anything and everything. Just the other day there was such a conversation between Daniel and me.

I really like super spicy food, don’t I?

Yes, you do.

I love Sriracha so much…and jalapeños…and lemons…and pesto…and…I just love spicy and sour food so much. Is that weird?

No, I don’t think so. You’re a man with very selective tastes.

Mrs. B. tells me most kids don’t like super spicy or sour foods. But it’s not weird that I do? Really?

Not weird at all.

But other kids don’t like foods like that?

Well, you are not other kids…

I go on to explain just a little about the years he was learning how to eat and his sensory processing issues. Oddly enough, I learned that someone with oral defensiveness like he had as a g-tube fed infant, toddler and preschooler is they learn to need foods with strong tastes and smells. The stronger the taste, the easier it seemed to be for them to put them in their mouth, chew and swallow. Lucky for him his mama loves to serve spicy, savory, tasty food.

The conversation flows through the explanation of how his need for strong tastes and dislike of loud noises and bright lights comes from his extreme premature birth. We talk about his five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, sound are processed through his brain and how because he was born 4 months too soon, his brain really was not ready to process all the touches, tastes, sights, smells and sounds.

He interrupts me telling me that it was hard for him to be born much too soon but before I can answer he continues telling me that it was good that his Dad and I adopted him because he doesn’t think that his biological parents could love him the way that he is.

Oh if he only knew…maybe he does…even if we have never spoke of this part of his story with him or around him.

Daniel, you know I am pretty certain that your biological mother and father did love you very much before you were born.

Yeah?…

Oh yes. I imagine they were so happy knowing that you were going to be born and were very happy waiting for that day.

But you and Dad adopted me…

Yes we did. Daniel, when you were born you were so, so very tiny and honestly the doctors weren’t even sure that you would live. The doctors told me that they, your bio parents, were so afraid and they didn’t know if they could do what you needed for them to do to help you.

You have to be brave when your baby is tiny, huh?

Oh yes. Yes you do. The mommies and daddies I know at work in the NICU have to be fearlessly brave and strong for their baby in the NICU and after they leave the NICU. And they are.

Like you and Dad?

Yes. Just like that…

Well that’s why you and Dad are my mom and dad.

Yeah?…

Yeah! I’m glad you are my mom and dad!

Oh!

Right?!

Truth be told this is the first serious, lengthy conversation we have had about his adoption. The last time was maybe 3 or 4 years ago when he told me that he had to be born early to meet me, his mommy. Then he asked what was his bio mother’s name. Irina, I answered. He then declared that that was a pretty name and hugged me before he ran off to play. Daniel has always known that he is adopted and that I met him the night he was born as his nurse and while Bill and I had always resolved to be honest about our beginnings as a family, we also knew that it would be a very hard conversation to have. Truly his perception of it all could have gone any way. What we wish for, hope and pray for is that he will always know that he has always, always been cherished, wanted and loved today and every single day of his amazing, miraculous life. Meanwhile I am overwhelmed with the wisdom and the insight of this boy, my son. Oh, and I am thankful opportunity for another mom-car conversation…especially because it was in the car…while I was driving.