Friday, January 5, 2018

What I learned from Pageants and Jude

Well that's an odd combination of a title isn't it? However I was thinking recently how much I have learned from running a pageant system, being involved with Emily in pageants, and Jude's life. So in honor of Miss Texas USA (live this weekend online) here we go.

1. These situations were at times extremely chaotic but I learned that stress can cause a manageable situation to become unmanageable very quickly. So to keep myself in check I realized the world is not black and white that there are a lot of grey answers. So when I felt myself spinning out of control I would sit down and list the solutions for the problem at hand. Many times I would find there wasn't just one solution but multiple possibilities that could be implemented. This would temper my stress because I would realize this would work out and everything would be okay.

2. To be kind to everyone you meet. The old saying that everyone is fighting a battle is true. Some people have battles they are fighting like keeping a very sick child alive. Some are struggling with money, others with weight, some with depression, others anxiety, and many other situations. No battle is larger than any other battle. Plus you never know who you are dealing with so don't make assumptions. The person you may think is annoying may turn out to be a huge ally and have a heart of gold. The beggar you ridicule may be a millionaire just wanting to help someone else in need. While working pageants I reminded myself that the moms just want the best for their daughters and that many times their efforts to help are true and genuine.

3. Patience is a virtue.The car racing home really isn't going to save any time but only put others in danger so is the danger worth not having the patience?  Sitting in a doctors office for hours on end without any answers or reasons can exhaust a person physically and mentally. So this is where you have to get creative with patience. I constantly hear, "Your phone is HUGE!" I have an Iphone 6 plus. I generally just laugh to myself and refer to the line above about not making assumptions. If they only knew I purchased it so Jude and I could watch movies together in ICU.

Remember to have patiences with a child and this will prevent regrets later in life when you look back on your words and actions. Again I will reference an old saying that people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you said and how you made them feel.

4. If someone offers to help LET THEM! It took me awhile but I began accepting offers when people offered to cook for us, clean up, and help with laundry when Jude was so ill. It increased the quality of our lives. In addition one of the best oiled machines of the pageant industry (in my opinion) is the Miss Dallas USA system. The director has mastered the skill of utilizing the help of former winners, mother of winners, past contestants, and friends to make sure his pageant runs smoothly. Even having someone manage a simple job like selling program books can be helpful. When an event in life or on stage runs like a well played song it generally is with the help of many caring and interested parties. This kindness is given in return for your kindness and hard work that shows throughout your business and life. It's a true give and receive situation that is never ending

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. Seriously I cannot stress this enough. Those minimal little issues that will soon be remedied don't deserve the extra stress and sweat. I encourage others to stop when you feel upset and evaluate the situation. Is this truly something that deserves your tears, time, and trouble. If not move through it quickly and keep going. With Jude most everything was a HUGE deal but we quickly found that when something didn't need our worry it didn't get our stress. This applies to pageants too. Pageants are a form of sport and entertainment. They are there to better yourself and enjoy your time in life. If Emily lost or didn't place how she wanted I used to always give her time to be disappointing in our hotel room. Then I would tell her "Dust yourself off, congratulate the winner, thank the director, and decide if you want to try again. That's really all there is to it because once you walk out that door you don't dwell on it again." I feel this rule applies to many aspect of our life. We cannot always win everything and we cannot always be successful but if you try that's what matters.
Your commitment to a project in my opinion far exceeds the possibility of winning.

6. Stop nagging yourself and others. Whether it's a special needs parent with a nurse, your family, or a pageant director stop nagging. There are ways to express your thoughts in a clear and precise manner and a nice way to express them. This will make you happier and those around you much happier too. It will also motivate others to listen to you and product a more positive outcome. I now stop myself and ask myself if the situation is truly worth nagging or berating someone or can the situation be settled amicably and nicely. Can you leave the person you are talking with feeling better than when the conversation started? If so then why not choose that route. 

Other ways I found to improve my life when it was so chaotic is to not live in fear, push out the negative, gravitate to the positive, eliminate people that aren't nice, and try to add value to someone else's life. I know this seems like an odd combination and topic but hopefully you got something positive out of it today!

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Review

Christmas overall was nice. In tradition we had people over for Christmas Eve just like we did when Jude was with us. It's turned into our way of remembering Jude with friends and family through stories and just being together. We lit a large candle in the middle of our table for him that everyone sat around while we talked and ate our traditional food. 

Christmas day we started the morning with Emily and her boyfriend by opening gifts and eating a yummy baked french toast casserole. I then went back to sleep because my insomnia is horrible. It's something I have dealt with when Jude was alive and even more when he has passed. Jude used to get up every morning about 3-4 am needing to be turned and generally vomiting. We didn't have a nurse until the last year of his life so my body is just programmed to wake up at that particular time. So I slept for several hours before getting up to bake the lasagna to take to my family's home. It was refreshing and my body felt better overall. 

We held up pretty well overall during the holiday but on the way home last night I couldn't stop the tears. I realized that no matter how many holidays pass I will never go home on Christmas again to see nurse Allan's shiny smile and Jude's sweet face. I will never open the door the day after Christmas with sleep still in my eyes to nurse Charlotte waiting to see Jude. So I cried. That's really all you can do is just express your emotion through tears or anger. I choose to let my emotions flow freely through the tears that I mostly conceal but Mike generally catches the tears and understands. 

I guess it's rather normal to realize the holiday's will never truly be the same but I also understand they never really were after Jude was born. Jude could never run down the stairs to see what Santa had brought him and buying him gifts were sometimes a struggle. Jude would mostly receive two piece pajama's to accommodate his feeding tube and bright shiny toys with pretty lights. However Christmas was still precious to us and Emily always enjoys the holidays. So we have learned to be grateful for the blessings we have in what God has bestowed upon us. However there are times I lay in bed and wonder what it would be like to be the one that isn't strong anymore. To just have a freak out and say, I cannot life for awhile. I don't want to leave my house or participate in any facet of holidays, birthdays, work, or anything else that requires my full attention. I know this isn't me though so I have realized that PTSD doesn't go away. I still wake up ALL the time because Jude was up so much. I comfort with wine sometimes and I shut myself off to the world and I cannot stand overly crowded noisy rooms.. I can walk through a store and see two piece boy pajama's and I have to beeline behind a shelf while the tears fall freely. I freak OUT on highways and would rather take the scenic route. I have no idea the cause of the last situation except that the grief counselor said Jude's death triggered PTSD from a horrible car wreck Emily and I were in. So as much as people think I am superwoman I do have my issues. Mike said all women have issues you just choose which ones you can live with, lol! So I figure that parents of child loss don't ever truly overcome the PTSD they just learn to cope and live with it. The better I cope with it the better life is overall. 

I think I have learned what works best for my family and what doesn't. Sometimes we push the boundaries but overall I have gotten pretty good and navigating the emotional field of grief. If I don't think attending an event is in our best interest then we don't go. I have said before we tend to go to events that are close to home so we can bow out gracefully if need be and that's okay. If people cannot deal with it they tend to fall out of our lives and we have had multiple situations like that. It's sad but I understand sometimes people cannot handle our situation and that's allowable and understandable. 

I am not quite sure what 2018 holds for our family. Mike and I are still searching a bit for our purpose like we have been. We have talked more about adoption and we would also like to travel some. Regardless 2018 will have the same emotional holidays that we will tackle with love and hope. We pray for Emily's health and wisdom and for peace to all we love and those we have lost. 

After writing this blog I found a precious picture on me memory feed. One that seems to say, "In the midst of a storm you still have to smile." 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Hard Holidays

Christmas is fast approaching and although our hearts are full of joy they are also laced with lots of hurt. The pain of Jude's loss does not diminish and it seems to become heavier as the holiday looms around the corner. A simple song, a pair of pajamas, a child's giggle, or a sighting of Santa can immediately caused tears to well in our eyes. I don't get the urge to scream like many people do after their tragic losses but I do get the urge to escape into a bath tub of warm water to shed many tears. I have heard people say they put on a mask each day to get up and just life. I fluctuate between feeling I have a mask on and realizing I am just learning to live without my child. It's just yet another new normal we have had to conquer and a cruel education on how to continue to function. So for the most part we are making each day work. I do however still get very irritated by those who are worried about what seems to be things in life that are just truly not that important. 

Loss does make you truly appreciate all those around you though. Despite how anyone may anger you at times death makes you realize you have to let go of that feeling fairly quickly. It also teaches you to be very grateful for each day with your loved ones you have and I am afraid it also makes you wonder when the next shoe will drop. Emily is home and has been experiencing times when her hands and fingers turn BLUE! Not brrrrr I am cold but like her hands were dyed blue. The doctor today seems to think it's just a circulation issue but they have requested she see her primary doctor so I am working on that appointment. I can promise this situation sent Mike and I for a JOLT this weekend and does have me worried. Although I do know the parameters and my first questions were: 

1. Are you dizzy - no
2. Are you short of breath - no
3. Have you had a cough - yes. 
4. Are you cold? Not really. 

So who knows but I don't think it's anything pressing and we will get her in to get looked at by the additional doctor.  Emily has also (drumroll) made the decision to come home to Texas. She did OUTSTANDNING academically at the University Of Alabama and has ended the semester with a 3.48 GPA. That's based on her calculation but she is waiting to hear the final grade and still still hoping for the Dean's list. She has not excelled emotionally due to multiple circumstances including the great loss she has endured over the last year. So she will be transferring to TWU into their nursing program which is ranked 4th in TX. I have no doubt where ever she will go she will strive and this was a great lesson in learning to do what makes you happy in life not what people expect you to do.  She may stay there or transfer again but she will do what's best for her and what makes her happy. I am very proud of her for that! Emily will be making an announcement about this in the next few weeks but I knew my friends would be wondering what was going on. 

I still have a desire to be as honest and raw through my blog and actions as possible. I think it's important for people to understand the depth of grief and pain people can feel and that it's okay to have those feelings. Around holidays parents that have lost children can be short tempered, tired, sleepless, angry, erratic, forgetful, and they can be overly emotional. So just remember to extend a little patience if you know someone in this situation and to know as much as you want them to get better this can last a lifetime. They just need your patience, love, and understanding. I guess we all really need that in life and if we all took a moment to extend it the world would be a better place.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Oh those hard days.

Mike and I almost seem to be in sync in regards to our emotions. We can be having the worst Jude day and not say a word to each other that one of us is suffering. Then a little text will come in that simply says, "It's a hard day" and the reply text is always, "here too." I am not sure why it hits us both on particular days but it does.

Today we are both OVER what seems to be petty problems people complain about. We both understand they are huge problems to that individual person but in our aspect of the world of child loss they don't seem large to us. So we just try to remember everyone is dealing with something and to treat everyone with kindness.

I am sure it's because the holiday is approaching again and little boys with toys are running around with spunk. We cannot help but look at those little boys and dream of Jude. So today I will work on being grateful for the blessings in front of us and all the time we had with precious Jude.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Silence

Gosh I have been so busy I feel like I am missing everyone. Being busy is a great thing though and I am making great strides at work which makes me feel accomplished. The holidays are fast approaching again and that always brings mixed feelings of sadness and joy. I am beginning to battle insomnia a bit again which I think I can directly relate to my feelings regarding the above. At night I generally wake up between 3-4 which is the exact same time I used to wake up with Jude. Sometimes I wake up thinking I hear Jude's oxygen pump whistling, his feeding monitor blaring, or his blood/ox alarm beeping. Mostly though I just hear silence so I run my bathroom fan to drown out how loud the silence is. It's amazing how deafening it can be to hear absolutely nothing. 

Yes it's still sad and yes we still miss Jude very much. However I can say we are starting to find laughter again and are making great strides to get back out and do things. I think work is helping us heal and being involved in the community is helping as well. I have to drag Mike with me but he does go and seems to enjoy himself. 

I am anxious for Emily to get home so we can put up the holiday and remember how much Jude loved the Christmas lights. Last year as people put up the trees they would post pictures on social media and tag them #IdiditforJude. If you think of him I think that would be nice again. 

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Be grateful for all you have because you never know when your have could turn into have not. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

It's Halloween and we know that's a hard day for us but one I can also look back on with love and smiles. We always had the Emily's Smile Box haunted graveyard, Jude was always dressed up, and a nurse would always stay late to help us so we could work the charity event. I miss those times. I just really miss Jude and his nurses. 

Our lives are getting a bit better and more easier to manage. We are venturing out more than we used to and trying to make an effort to participate in life itself. My work is so busy that I barely have time for many other ventures but that's a good thing. We have multiple charity events and other gala's I get to attend now and that keeps us busy. I still have terrible anxiety especially when I have to go anywhere on the highway in DFW. If you invite me somewhere and it requires us to drive across the metroplex I will be a RAGING mess by the time I get there. SO don't get offended if I say no. We tend to invite people over to our house so I feel more comfortable and in my safe zone. Hopefully people understand. We still pop in the cemetery to tell Jude hi and we notice everyone's little items they still leave on his grave and it's very thoughtful. 

So life is moving on and we are keeping up for a change. I am not sure what all lies in wait for us but taking life a step at a time is working for now. 

Hope everyone is well. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Mid Week Update

I haven't written a lot lately. I guess that's because I am doing okay. I have hard Jude days still but mostly my memories are good ones of him. I had someone describe the loss of a child recently and I thought it was a good description. She had lost a limb and said when she first lost her leg she always felt pain even though her leg wasn't there anymore. She would reach for it, try to touch it, and try to rub the pain away but there was nothing physical for her to relate to anymore. She said it was the worst pain she had ever experienced until she lost of a child. She mentioned how she could correlate of the loss of a limb with the loss of a child because physically they just are not there anymore. 

So I basically have a new job. My agent that I worked for has retired and our office was taken over by a new agent out of Colleyville. I really like him and I think our agency will grow rapidly. So if you have any quotes you need on home, auto, life, commercial, or other insurance agencies please let me know. 

We are trying to go through a refinance on our home so a few prayers would be great. As usual something always pops up. Taxes in Texas are just becoming outrageous so this refi would help. 

Emily is doing very well. I am working on getting her home for Thanksgiving. It will be nice to see her! I miss seeing her bright smile everyday when I get home. 

All the snimals on the farm are well and we are taking it step by step each day. Well short and sweet but that's the quick update.