Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Posts tagged ‘thoughts’

The One Thing Worse Than Moving: Not Moving

It is time to power up the computer and start writing again. Thankfully I have had a few organizations ask me to speak with a short-term notice. It is good to keep busy. In late October, we were scheduled to move. We were ready. We had down-sized. The kids were not getting involved in many programs at school (easier to leave). We were mentally prepared to go. The day before the moving company came, we were told this transition would be placed on hold. My husband was needed on another work trip before we could leave.


I am used to moving. We have had about a dozen different addresses. I rather enjoy the process. I like meeting new people and seeing new places. This move however, this move was entirely different. According to Google, it would take us 6,680 miles/ 10,750 km. We had been fully prepared to move from the United States to Sicily. Now we had to wait.

As much as I enjoy it, moving is a stressful event. It takes a lot of planning. Many phone calls and various arrangements have always needed to be made when we went from city to city. Moving from our home country to half-way around the world exponentially increases the items on a to-do list.

Early this fall I stopped scheduling speaking engagements. Since we were leaving the country soon, I forced myself to mentally say so-long to that part of my journey. Oh my how I miss classroom visits! My focus has been centered solely on my family. When you are in high school, as my kids are, a sudden adjustment like this causes your world to be turned upside down. Their dad had to leave immediately for a long work trip, and now a move date is no longer tomorrow yet lingering in their just out of reach future.

It’s time now to readjust my focus. The shock has worn off. The routines have been created. The computer is back on. I am ready to write again. Yes, moving is stressful. But, I have learned, not being able to make a planned move on time is much, much more stressful.




Balance in My Life

“Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other.” Steven R. Covey

Balance in life

Last week was very busy for me. My children were hit hard with the flu. One was already dealing with a painful ankle injury and was told she had to miss a major Tae Kwon Do tournament she’d been excited about. Then an unexpected interview was scheduled. This all happened in one day. It took a while for me to get my breath and keep from feeling as though I was hopelessly chasing everything – trying to catch up.

I wrote my last post with the intention to follow up the next day. While I did not get this done as quickly as anticipated, the timing of the quotes could not have been better delivered. On Wednesday, I woke up to the sound of my daughter getting sick. She is on crutches and unable to place weight on the injured foot. I helped her hop to the bathroom as quick as possible. That event led to a 1 AM hair wash. Then my other daughter started getting sick right before the sun was coming up. School was definitely not a possibility, so I spent the day with them at home taking care of their needs and enjoying the time of just being with them. Teen years are finding their way into our home. We rarely have time of just being quiet and enjoying each other’s company.

In the late afternoon, I frantically began searching for pictures in preparation for an interview with “People” magazine in South Africa. The writer was kind and gentle in her line of questions. My family was quiet and patient as I did my best to raise awareness for young stroke patients and prosopagnosia. I am hopeful with this telephone interview I provided, the conversation will be helpful in offering education and hope to others who one day may experience these life-altering conditions.

I was emotionally and physically drained by the time I was able to go to bed. I slept for a second night on the floor next to my daughter’s bed. She said I was “like a Super Mom” because of how quickly I could wake up and help when she was ill.

A caretaker, a cook, a chauffeur, a Mom, an advocate whose voice is being shared around the world…. Sometimes I am excited by everything I am accomplishing. Sometimes I am exhausted from all of the roles I play. Regardless, I love the life I have created. The balance of everything I can accomplish provides gratitude for how far I have come and offers hope for what tomorrow will bring.


“Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being.” Orison Swett Marden


Taking Tweens On A Train Through America

This is off topic from my usual posts; however, it is information I am excited to share.  Before this trip, I searched the internet and asked friends about experiences they had taking tweens (children between ages 10-12) on a long train ride.  It has always been a desire of mine to take my daughters through the mountain offering views they could never experience riding in a car or taking a flight high above the clouds.  But, before I committed to a forty hour train ride, I was hoping to gather thoughts and stories from people who had taken this journey before us.  The information I gathered was sparse, so I decided to devote a blog post on lessons learned and adventures gained from our Amtrak summer trip.

                We packed a few games:

Games We Took On The Train

                These could be played in our seats or the lounge car.  The lounge car had tall windows which allowed great views of passing scenery.  It also had tables wide enough for people to sit and play games.

Game time in lounge car on Amtrak

Game time in lounge car on Amtrak

Lounge Car Windows

High windows in the lounge car offered a great view

The lower level of the lounge car has drinks and microwave type food ready to be purchased.  It is also important to note you can bring your own food.  We brought muffins for breakfast and went to this lounge car to eat.

Lounge car items available for purchase

Lounge car items available for purchase

                I was a bit intimidated getting onto the train.  I was carrying a heavy suitcase.  The staircase we had to go up was narrow and had a tight corner.  It was challenging for me to get up these stairs with my game bag and suitcase.  Yet, once we made our climb it was nice and open.  The seats are wide.  They recline and offer a footrest.  Bags are kept above the seat like on an airplanes.  I was glad we took small pillows and blankets to add comfort during the night.  My children were delighted to see outlets in each row to keep electronic devices charged.  Only a few stations we pulled into offered internet.

The general seating area on the top level of the Southwest Chief Amtrak train

The general seating area on the second level of the Southwest Chief Amtrak train

                General boarding seats are not assigned until you get onto the train.  Once you sit down, they come around and put a slip above your chair with the code of the station where you will depart.  This allows the crew to know who should get off when.  The station names are called until the evening.  At this time, no announcements are made until the next morning which allows you to sleep.  If you have a stop during the night, someone comes around to wake you and let you know it’s time to leave.

                There were not many stops long enough to get out and walk around.  Albuquerque, NM was our favorite stop where we stepped out for fresh air.  They had a market which carried things like necklaces, earrings, blankets and dream catchers.  On our way home, we picked up a few souvenirs from here.  Not having many long stops was not a problem because of the freedom to walk throughout the train.

                On the way back, we reserved a sleeping car.  The cost was so high we could only afford it one way.  I hope you are able to try this.  It was great.  The only drawback was it seemed much louder on these cars, yet the privacy was nice.  These rooms are considered “all-inclusive”.  There is a shower room in the lower part of the car with soap and towels available.  A crew member greeted us before we boarded the train and helped carry our luggage up the stairs and turned down our beds in the evening.  Meals in the dining car are also included with these rooms.  Reservations are made a day in advance.

Reservation card for meals in the dining car

Reservation card for meals in the dining car

                I am a foodie and let me tell you: The food is really good!  I was expecting decent at best, heated trays.  Breakfast and lunch meals ranged from $7-$13.  Kids’ meals were also available.  Supper was anywhere from $16-$26.  Again, these meals are included in the price of a room.

The dining car is set up like a real restaurant

The dining car is set up like a real restaurant

My favorite meal was the Mahi-Mahi dinner

My favorite meal was the Mahi-Mahi dinner

My girls picked the steak dinner. Their dad should be proud.

My girls picked the steak dinner. Their dad should be proud.

The triple chocolate mousse won out though over the cheesecake

The triple chocolate mousse won out as our favorite over the cheesecake

We saw many beautiful sights through mountains and plains while traveling halfway across America.

View of a house from the train's window.

View of a distant house from the train’s window.

It was fun to watch our train following us on tight turns

It was fun to watch our train following us on tight curves

It was hard to pick out a sunset or sunrise picture.  They were all breathtaking

It was hard to pick out one sunset or sunrise picture. They were all breathtaking

           It is my opinion that when you hear the conductor call out “All Aboard”, gather your family and jump on-board for experiences you would otherwise never be able to gain and a journey you’ll never forget.

Take a train trip and let me know about your adventures

Take a train trip and let me know about your adventure

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
Francis Bacon, Sr. quotes (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)

Happy Anniversary or Should I Say Happy Birthday?

                Ten years ago I found myself facing challenges I never could have imagined.  Ten years ago this week I woke from brain surgery learning I had a stroke during the operation.  I was twenty-seven.  What was it that allowed me to embrace the challenges faced while recovering from this event?  Where does that inner strength and determination come from?  I really can’t answer these questions.  Whatever it was, wherever it came from, is unknown, yet I am fiercely grateful for this drive.  I can walk independently now.  I can speak clearly without slurring my words.  I celebrate doing simple things in life most people take for granted.  I do all these things which, not so long ago, would have been unthinkable accomplishments if I had allowed myself to accept the speculated dismal outcomes predicted.

Each year I ask myself if the 25th of June should be celebrated as an anniversary or as a birthday.  Anniversaries are happy days set up to celebrate the joining of two lives.  Some might not understand why the date of my stroke would be considered a happy day.  It is though.  I have always believed it is only when life knocks you down beyond where you could have imagined that you really learn to appreciate all the beauty life delivers.  When you climb the mountain of challenges placed in front of you, this is really when you appreciate the beautiful gifts of life.  My life before was happy.  And, though it is different in so many ways, the life I live now is also joyfully celebrated.  So, rightfully, happy anniversary to me for the day which taught me the true potential to change, grow and appreciate the gift of living.  Each year is a happy celebration of joining my life as it is today and the years that helped mold the strength which allowed me to overcome challenges.

Or, should I say Happy Birthday to me?  No, it is not my true birthday in the traditional sense of the word.  However, the stroke changed who I am.  I know I am not the same person I was before my stroke.  I accept that.  I even rejoice this.  I recognize I am a different person in some ways.  I am stronger.  I have more empathy for the difficulties people face.  I am more attentive to the gifts life offers.  I am more grateful for each and every day I have.  Life now is never taken for granted.    Similar to an infant in many ways, the stroke forced me to learn developmental tasks once again.  I learned how to walk and tie my shoes.  I learned how to catch a ball, hold a pencil and hold my beautiful babies in my arms.  I learned these early lessons again with the coordination of an inexperienced toddler, yet having the eyes of an experienced adult.  In this perspective, happy birthday to me.

                Tuesday, the night of my ten year anniversary/birthday ended with my youngest, an eleven year-old, making a tent and sleeping in my room.  She was sleeping near my bed, and I reached out my arm to rub her back.  She turned over and grabbed my hand.  She was rubbing my arm up and down, up and down.  Constant repetitive touches on my left arm and leg have been painful since I had my stroke.  I asked her to stop and reminded her rubbing me like that hurts.  She said, “Give me your other hand then.”  I gave her my right hand.  She didn’t question it.  This is her norm.  This is just how her mom is.  On this night, we fell asleep with her holding my right hand.  I can only hope in the next ten years of our lives we can continue to grow and create as many happy memories of success stories as we’ve discovered this past decade.

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