Do something everyday that scares you

As I have continued to challenge myself by doing things that scare me I have spent time reflecting on some of my past fears(now overcome). What I discovered through my reflection is a true testimony of the progress we make in life as we partner with God in the plan He has for our life.

I can recall a time in the not so distant past that I almost forfeited an opportunity to attend what was an amazing Christian conference because I was too uptight to spend time in the same hotel room with a few other sisters. Since that time I have traveled to several foreign countries, alone. The first of these trips was to the earthquake ravaged country of Haiti. I wasn’t even sure where Haiti was when the opportunity presented itself but I said YES immediately. I would not have been able to do that a few years earlier. Now this isn’t to say that it wasn’t scary because it was. I remember being completely unnerved when in a very crowded airport I became separated from my passport as the airport porter made me lay my bag on the conveyor belt. This may not sound scary if your travel has not taken you to poor, underdeveloped countries that have just experienced a gigantic influx of travelers all on a journey to offer care after the most catastrophic earthquake to strike this hemisphere in recent memory.

I remember how scared I was what I would feel prompted by God to share a word with the congregation during a Sunday morning worship service. Nowadays I am quick to obey when I feel the Lord tug at my heart and even breath the entire time!

Even something as simple as deciding to ride on the commuter van was scary. Getting into a vehicle and riding 2 hours a day with complete strangers was overwhelming. Today I can call each of those “strangers” friends. But even having accomplished this feat I am intimidated to ride the city bus. Not that we have a real city bus where I live here in rural Southeastern CT but nonetheless, I intend to get on the bus one day soon and experience what it is like to have to use this as my only form of transportation for a shopping excursion.

Going into a yoga class or any exercise class for the first time was scary. Now I am eager to find a yoga studio and attend a class everywhere I travel.

Last year I embarked on a new and scary adventure when I felt a prompting from God to teach a teen girl Sunday school class…well more than teach, initiate. This has turned out to be a remarkable blessing in my life. And I can understand at a greater level how investing into lives of those entrusted to us has such great value.

It is important that I keep staring fear in the face because that is where the growth occurs. I am so thankful for this idea to conquer scary things on a regular basis this year.

So what have I done recently? Well last week I needed to reach out to someone who would agree to be a model family for a class  was taking…this was scary for sure… but not only was the answer yes, they really enjoyed telling the story to me. Sadly I have been the person to engage the painful life choices conversation with several of my oncology patients whose disease is progressing. This is always a scary conversation, necessary but scary. And I have had to face the scary truth that I may not get a perfect score in this class I am currently taking. But I will still be okay at the end of the day.

So what have you done this week that is a scary challenge? I would love to hear from you.

 

New and Scary Part Two

One of the joys of blogging is the “discovery” process. Let me explain. In my most recent blog post I shared my adventures on the ski slope. As I wrote I must reflect, pulling out what was memorable and weaving words together to make it at least somewhat interesting for the world to read. So in the writing process I am able to relive the moment, examining the details. As I immerse myself in the memory I can almost feel the cold air on my face and feel the slippery skis on my feet. It is in my opinion an unexpected joy that writing has given me.

Today’s memory is of our second day of adventure. All of our children(well the 5 who live on the east coast) have now arrived at the cabin. As a funny aside everyone arrived separately each having been provided directions to our weekend retreat via email. Well as it turned out as each person arrived there was never another car in the driveway. So each of them, including my daughter who arrived in the middle of the night, had to go on faith that it was the right house. We all got a laugh out of this when it was discovered!

Anyway, I digress. It’s Saturday, the sun is shining for the first time in days and we have reservations for a Zip-lining adventure. The resort can accommodate 8 people at a time so our entire group cannot play but those who aren’t able have great alternatives. So after a hearty home-cooked breakfast we all head out.

We have been told that it will be cold so we all have tons of winter gear on…I now understand why little kids don’t enjoy going outdoors in the cold…it is a lot of extra clothing which makes it hard to move and weighs quite a bit too. As we near the resort I begin to feel quite anxious about this adventure. What on earth was I thinking? These zip lines are high up and I am not always a fan of heights. But I am committed so I squash those butterflies with some self-talk.

Once in the lodge we meet our guides for the afternoon. We all get into our harnesses, helmets, and gloves and head out onto the lift. I am telling myself this is going to be fun. I have all my children with me, the sun is shining, and I am doing something new and scary!

December 2014 Brettonwoods New Hampshire Zip-lining Adventure

There we all are about to begin our adventure.

Our first step is a brief run that includes the basics of zip-lining: sitting, holding on and the all important braking, oh and let’s not forget how to pull yourself in if you brake too soon and end up a distance from the landing point! My combat to fear is to go first, so off I go. But keep in mind that I can touch the ground and the run is only about 10 feet…but still I do it.

This mastered we are off, trekking through some beautiful terrain to our first zip. The day is truly glorious. The sun is bright and the air crisp. Fresh snow is everywhere. Truly picture perfect. I thank God as I amble through the knee deep snow for such a beautiful day with my family.

We arrive at our first Zip. Clip on and off I go!

Exhilarating!

The runs get progressively longer and higher over the next couple of hours zipping above the tree line, skiers and snowboarders below our suspended selves. We walk over some high in the tree rope bridges(this I can do without) and even rappel a few times(this I really like…I can see some rock climbing in my future). Our time passes all too fast and before you know it we are headed back to the lodge to turn in our harness.

What fun we all had. Hopefully one day soon I will have some of the video feed that Emily’s boyfriend got from his little video camera thing(not sure what this is called, maybe a go pro).

Great day, great adventure, fun memories.

Me(back left) Emily(back right) and Jessica(front and center)

Me(back left) Emily(back right) and Jessica(front and center)

 

Share Your World- 2014

 

Share your world

 

Joining in the fun hosted by Cee’s photography who I truly hope gets better quickly!

This weeks questions are:

What is your favorite toppings on pizza?

I prefer my pizza white, no sauce. My favorite toppings would likely be listed as spinach and mushrooms although there are several other toppings that would go on the short list. Thin crust, double cut. Ooh yah I can smell it now.

I want to learn more about …

So many things really but for the purposes of this post I will say photography. Perhaps in the near future I will have a chance to take a course.

What are three places you’ve enjoyed visiting?

Tough question really as there are so many things that tantalize my senses when it comes to visiting new places. Probably the most beautiful place I have seen so far is Sedona AZ. We had no idea how glorious the drive would be as we headed south from the Grand Canyon.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Disney World earlier this year. I hadn’t been since I was a little girl, about a year or two after MK opened. Not one single thing I didn’t enjoy.

The English pub in Boston and one the first cruise we ever took. Both have left lasting memories in my mind of great music with the entire pub singing along. Can’t beat that!

Do you prefer eating the frosting of the cake or the cupcake first?I am not a big cupcake fan but if I do eat one I just bite in, frosting and cake together.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

The help I was able to offer to a new patient who was in so much pain on Monday; by Friday she was like a new woman. I felt like I witnessed a miracle.

A week without homework—class is done!

Hello from Sunny Florida

map of the CDP of North Key Largo, Florida sho...

map of the CDP of North Key Largo, Florida showing boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well I tried to get this post up before I boarded my ship but it wasn’t meant to be. We have returned from our fabulous vacation—we were not on the ship that was disabled for days in the ocean requiring a tow back to port. I will post more photo’s and tales as the weeks progress. In the meantime here is the post I wrote prior to our escape to the sea.

With the crazy weather up north we left CT a day earlier than expected. We decided to rent a car and drive down to Key Largo. Below are a few shots from our first night and then day here. Enjoy. We will be heading off to our ship very shortly.

Coconut in a treeTwo Dogs in a BoatFirst night in FloridaBirds digging in the beach debrisSea Turtle

Key Largo at Sunset

I need a vacation, bad!

Cruise Ship - Celebrity Infinity

Cruise Ship – Celebrity Infinity (Photo credit: blmiers2)

I’ve been planning it for months. But it wasn’t until sometime last week that I actually started to get excited and realized just how badly it was needed. Work has been very busy since the beginning of the year, it almost seems as if someone turned on a switch and I constantly don’t have enough time to accomplish all I would like to get done. And my peeps, as I call them, are sick and I want to provide wonderful care to them. But as the weeks wore on I began to realize that I am tired, exhausted really. My job is very draining all the time! Don’t misunderstand me I really love what I do and am honored to be in such a trusted place by God and man…but it is hard to be “on” my game all the time. But long last the hours have pushed on toward the day…then the news…a major snowstorm is predicted for the Northeastern US scheduled to arrive…yep you guessed it…at the exact time I should be boarding my plane for our Caribbean cruise. OMG, what to do! A couple of consults with my  future meteorologist who is back at college and I make the decision to move up my flight by a day and a half to avoid the snow. Wonderful right?! Yes but I am no where near ready! Yikes I have a lot to do but it will be so worth it. I gained an extra day in sunny Florida–I know that is tough to take, huh? So I will be taking off tomorrow. I had to do some fancy rearranging but who cares, I am going on vacation for one glorious week with my favorite guy!

See you all when I return. Hope to capture some great snaps to share.

Bon’ Voyage

Paige

It’s Been A While

It has been a little over 3 months since I have written a post. In some respect 3 months seems like such a short amount of time however as I reflect on my life over these past months I would say it is not.

When last we met it was May and I was telling you just how busy a month it would be for me/us as a family. So let me catch you up on my life.

In June we celebrated the birth of our first grandson, Ethan John. He was followed soon thereafter by a cousin, our second granddaughter and sister to Piper…Lucy. All absolute joys and if I can ever get my Photoshop squared away I will have plenty of pictures to share with you.

I rather suddenly felt called to return to my pursuit of completing my degree. For several years I was actively working on completing my BS(I have a 3 year diploma in nursing) however in 2010 I put my studies on hold as I was a bit overwhelmed in life. So I took a course in the beginning of the summer…got an A! and find myself once again in a holding pattern. You see when I began this pursuit in 2005 or so my intention was to finish the BS and enroll in an APRN program. Since that time however the entry level for APRN’s has changed and I find myself re-thinking the entire process. So I have sent my transcripts off to another program and await news of acceptance.

Yoga. A new found pleasure since our last meeting has been discovered in my life. Plenty of stretching past the comfort zone here! I have also found the secret to tolerating the monotony of the treadmill…a great audiobook! You can only listen while working out, it is like the great reward.

I wrote on several occasions this past spring of my  plans to volunteer at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for a week. This experience is worthy of a post on its own…photo’s too! Definitely worth repeating.

What else past the months? A trip to Boston, business mixed with pleasure. A wedding, plenty of swimming during the hottest July on record in the Northeast, a few sailboat excursion with our friends Doug and Joanne, a couple of fun foodie groups, hiking, BBQing, entertaining, birding, gardening, enjoying…lots of “ing”ing! Oh and quite a bit of reading- again probably worthy of a couple of blog posts.

Steven and I leave next Wednesday for a trip out west. We fly into Vegas and will rent a convertible to drive to the Grand Canyon, Sedona and back to Nevada. I cannot wait. 7 whole days with nothing but my guy, the great outdoors and God. I am expecting great things!

I look forward to reconnecting with my blogging friend. Until then…

Be authentic and enjoy life! Three months seems short but as I reflect back upon it much living has been compressed into those 90 days.

~Paige

 

Be My Guest Autism Awareness Post

autismawareness

James and I met last March. We were part of the medical mission team in Guatemala. Over the week as James and I became acquainted he shared with me how having a child with autism has shaped his life. I was delighted when he agreed to write a guest post because I feel that when we become more informed myths and untruths are dispelled and I believe that autism is a frequently misunderstood problem. What follows is a glimpse into the life of his family.

When Paige first asked if I would contribute a piece for her blog regarding Autism, I first thought it would be a very easy task. My pride took over. I am integrated into our community as a member of three boards serving individuals with Special Needs, the Chair and Executive Director of another board serving the Autism population, provide bi-monthly respite nights for families called Parent’s Night Out (PNO), bi-monthly Parent Resource Information and Support Meetings (PRISM), and I am also a parent of a 15 year old young man with classic/severe Autism. I thought I had a lot to say, and I could do it quickly.

I was sorely mistaken.

In fact, everything changed last week. Let me explain by telling you how we arrived to this point. I served 20 years in the Army. I grew up as an enlisted soldier and transitioned into the officer ranks as a helicopter pilot. It was during our tour in Alaska where we received the diagnosis of Autism. We heard all the buzz words parents hear long before they receive an Autism diagnosis. “He is going to be an engineer some day,” or, “look how good he plays by himself, he is such a good baby,” or, “He is so smart and so quiet,” among many other statements that later reentered our thoughts when we were told that Jacob had Autism.

At that time Autism was diagnosed 1 in every 166 children. I remember the Center for Disease Control among other advocate groups stating that it is fast becoming an epidemic. The numbers were updated three times since then, 1:150, then 1:101, and now recently the CDC stated it is 1:88. I have not heard the term “epidemic” since 1:166, but I supposed the numbers would now support their claim.

We learned quickly that there were several areas that would occupy our energy and would keep us focused in the wrong direction. As a family, we decided that we would focus our efforts in areas that were within our skill sets. We were not doctors, so we refused to spin our wheels chasing causes or cures, but to work with Jacob in the “now”. I used to be a professor at the Virginia Military Institute and I taught leadership. I would engage my students in an exercise were they were told to define success. I received a variety of answers. After the drill, the students would ask me for my definition. I would state that I cannot define success, but I can define failure; failure is succeeding at the wrong thing. This lesson has proven true in everything we do for Jacob.

Now let me explain the last 12 years. Our lives have been rearranged, turned over, expensive, embarrassing, challenging, off color, disciplined, fragile, strengthened, and tested. Patti is Jacob’s mother and an amazing young lady who can be as stubborn as she can be gentle when needed. She has defended, offended, laughed, cried, and been the bedrock of our family. Jacob has been ostracized, ridiculed, but he has been loved, accepted, and prayed for by family, friends, and our church. Seven years ago, he was in a catastrophic accident where 70% of his body sustained 3rd degree burns. He was in a coma for 45 days and went through an amazing recovery period. It was during that time we decided that I would retire from the Army, we would live in Lexington, Virginia, and we would start ministry to help families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. In our ministry, we discovered that 80% of marriages end in divorce, the mother usually raises their child with Autism, and she becomes isolated without support.

Jacob has terrible tantrums. I have a friend who is from Greece. He owns a restaurant in Lexington, VA, and he participates in our annual fundraisers. He asked me, “What is Autism?”

I replied, “Nick, how frustrated do you get when you try to communicate and you can’t find the right words, or the person you are talking to, just can’t understand?”

“I get so mad,” raising his arms above his head showing his frustration. I explained, “Autism is a disorder that keeps a very intelligent person from being able to communicate. They can get so upset that they lose control. It is like what you feel, times 100.”

If a child has a diagnosis of Intellectual Disability, their IQ is below 70. That’s the only diagnosis. However, that is not the same with ASD. In fact, for Jacob, the diagnosis came from a team in Seattle, Washington. Not every child will get a multi-disciplinary diagnosis, but all will agree that the testing is much more complex than an IQ test. Every diagnosis is complex. Unfortunately, because of this complexity, Developmental Pediatricians, Psychologists, Nutritionists, Practitioners of Holistic Medicine, parents, and school professionals rarely agree on the causes, cures, or approaches for treatments. Healthcare providers disagree on funding for treatments, schools argue over therapies, and parents are left paying the bills attempting to find out the “cure” or even what works in keeping their child somewhat integrated in society.

For 12 years, we altered our lifestyle. We had extreme difficulty in finding childcare for social events that my unit would sponsor, or when friends would invite us over for a BBQ. For 12 years we have grown accustomed to segregating ourselves. Our friends had learned to not ask us over for dinner because they did not want us to be forced to decline and they did not to feel guilty. For 12 years we kept our family vacations within close proximity of Jacob’s ability to travel. We flew from Alaska to the states when he was three, and that was the last time. We have felt the wrath of Jacob if we were forced into long periods in the car. In fact, anything that is contrary to his routine would eventually end with a “melt down”. While flying helicopters, I learned an Emergency Procedure for an event called a “High-side”. High-side is an emergency situation where the engines and rotor system begin an unexpected and rapid escalation. This event becomes destructive to the helicopter. Sometimes the symptoms are gradual and are not noticed until the engine has escalated too much to resolve. Other times, escalation can happen within a split-second. Just as a helicopter’s engine can high-side, Jacob’s behaviors or “meltdowns” can occur gradually or suddenly. We would often find ourselves in a very precarious situation at a grocery store, restaurant, library, school, or other area. We had developed “Emergency Procedures”. It became just easier to stay at home.

For 12 years, we had been so wrapped up in our lives and ministry with Jacob and our community; we (Patti and I) did not see what was coming.

So, what happened last week? I often travel to conduct leadership seminars. I was asked to fly to the New Mexico Military Institute and conduct two sessions on a Saturday. When I gave Patti my itinerary, she asked if she and Jacob could tag along. I just returned from Guatemala and a myriad of thoughts flashed through my mind; airport security, lines, TSA screening, outbursts, what happens if he high-sides on an airplane while flying, full body scans, Jacob is non-verbal, what happens if we separate, and the thoughts went on and on. Patti was convinced this was an experiment she wanted us to endure. We decided to take the chance, and we begun praying earnestly for God’s peace.

The time approached closer and my anxiety level skyrocketed. I have done this leadership seminar many times, but my worries were about Jacob travelling. Patti and I went into planning with excruciating details. We planned every exit strategy for her and Jacob that we could think of permitting me to continue on the trip if necessary. She called American Airlines and stated her concerns. I remember driving to a track meet for our other children when American Airlines returned her call, assigned her a special agent to answer her questions, addressed each of her concerns, and made accommodations for Jacob. We were excited that American Airlines were very supportive, but our anxiety continued. American Airlines reached out us and attempted to ease many of our concerns.

We departed for Roswell, NM. We tried to make our trip as comfortable as possible. We flew from Reagan International on Friday, March 30th with a layover in Dallas. We made our connection easily and landed at Roswell, International that afternoon. After a great dinner and an evening at the pool (Jacob loves pools), we retired exhausted and in utter amazement on how well he travelled. We laughed as we reminisced on how Jacob begged to sit at a window seat (typical for 15 year old boy). He drank the water given by the flight attendant, he waited his turn to grab his backpack from the overhead bin, and he walked through the airport politely and with a purpose. I had a wonderful leadership seminar on Saturday, and on Sunday, we departed early for home in reverse route.

We landed at Reagan, picked up our luggage, and were in the truck heading for home when I noticed that Patti was quiet and later crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said this trip was liberating. She said, “For 12 years we could not go anywhere out of fear that Jacob would have a meltdown. Now, I am wondering where we should go next.” As I write these words, I joined her in crying.

I can honestly read Philippians 4:6-8 in a much better perspective.

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The sky is the limit. I just asked her if we can stay domestic. I don’t want to deal with Customs.

James Cook
Chief Operations Officer at Sayre Enterprises
Chairman and Executive Director of Rock Bridge Family Services
Jacob’s Father
Patti’s Husband

March Inventory

March_poem

In my part of the world we did not experience Mother Nature as described in this poem. Quite the contrary in fact. We enjoyed some record high March temperatures and the early arrival of many Spring flowers. Unfortunately we had a hard frost this week and the early to arrive magnolia blooms have suffered. It has been fun to hear from so many who have shared their visions on my Spring Sharing post, if you haven’t added your two cents please stop over.

I like to take time each month to summarize where I am toward my goals. I have found this helps to keep me accountable. What I have discovered this month is in writing my goals down I have begun to stretch a bit more. It’s really exciting. To that point I have joined both the walking challenge and the stair climbing challenge over on Stopping the Wind. This has helped me to re-engage with my fitness goal. I have committed to increasing my weekly steps and stairs in April. I invite you to cheer me on. To see my and all other bloggers progress visit the links above.

10000 steps

I have tried a couple of new things on my blog this month that engaged my readers actively. I invite you to visit my Celebrating Women’s History page for a complete index of some great posts about inspiring women.  I have really enjoyed these interactions and intend to make them regular highlights on my blog. Stay tuned for more…I hope that you will considering writing a guest post(theme to be announced) as well as post a comment to whatever question is posed. This is a great way to share your thoughts and opinions with the world and experience new bloggers. My other blogging accomplishment this month was to reach 500 likes on the Authentic Me. Thanks to all who visit and click the like button.

likeable-blog-500-small

Over the month I have discovered many new to me blogs. I find new blogs in a few ways. One is to follow through a comment on another blog, I either like something they have to say OR I simply like the name of the blog. I have also used the WP tags a couple of times. Beware this can really suck you if you’re not careful. It is my hope to begin a regular post of interesting blogs I read. Once I figure out how to best flag a post I will move forward. I have also found many new blogs through my use of Twitter. One of my goals in March has been to build my Twitter account. My efforts have brought me almost 300 new followers. I have been very intentional in building my account and have already learned so many things from those that I follow.twitter

I have not been as active with my new camera as I would have thought but my outings have brought some nice snaps. I have registered for a digital photography course hosted in May by the Appalachian Mountain Club. It is in the beautiful Delaware Water Gap area so I expect plenty of glorious opportunities to snap great pictures. Adding to the pleasure is my husband and two dear friends.

I have continued to maintain an organized home office. I am very pleased with this new habit(3 months now so I can call it a habit). It has helped to keep us on track with our personal financial goals and it looks neat all the time. I appreciate both of these outcomes.

I have not reached my reading goal for the month of March. At least not of the books I am reading/listening to. I certainly spent a lot of time reading blogs and articles for work. I will need to re-evaluate my time budget and determine if I need to adjust. I do know that it is easy to get absorbed in the WWW if not careful. I try to set time limits so that I don’t become consumed.

To my great pleasure I continue to write daily in my personal journal. I have found great encouragement in connecting with my pen and paper each morning. I have even moved the alarm up by 30 minutes to the scary 4:30am time so that I can have more time in prayer and journaling. My Heavenly Father has been faithful to meet me each day I sacrifice myself to get up to be with him.

All in all it has been a wonderful month. I have learned and grown each day…thanks to all of you who share the journey with me. I am excited to discover what He has for me in April.

~Paige