Thursday, August 6, 2015

Grandparents





I have the kindest, most loving grandparents. One in heaven and two just miles down the road. As a little girl I was blessed to spend a lot of time with all of them. Enough time that I knew when we moved away that I needed them.

My Grandpa Jean was a teacher. From time spent with him in the classroom, I think he was one of those gruff teachers who was also tender hearted at the same time. He loved history and singing. He was never able to turn away a stray cat and fed every one that found its way to his back door. In third grade one of my assignments was to write a letter to someone. I picked him. My teacher mailed it for me and two weeks later my grandfather wrote back. We continued that way for 20 years.

Those letters closed our geographic distance and opened our hearts to one another. He knew me better than I knew me. He knew that I was going to end a romance before I did, knew when I was floating and needed help. In those terrible moments after learning he was gone his letters were the first thing I reached for and it was from them I gained the most comfort.

My Grandpa Boyd and Grandma Dene have been a home for me my entire life. When I was very small my grandmother took care of me. Later, when I was older, I would come stay with them for a couple of weeks every summer. Those weeks were the best of my childhood. We would go swimming, fishing or do nothing at all. While my grandfather was at work, I would sit on the floor of my grandmother's sewing room, reading and chatting all day long. It is because of her that the sound of a sewing machine is, to my ears, the most soothing noise on earth. It is also because of her that I am a knitter. After having open heart surgery, she decided to knit a sweater for every person in our family. It was over 25 sweaters. Sitting near her as she worked I realized that she was stitching her love for us into each sweater and I decided to do the same for my little people.

My Grandpa Boyd was a pharmacist and, like most of his profession, he is a quiet man. He is also the kindest, most gentle human being I have ever known. He is a talented photographer, I have spent hours going through every album he has filled. Most of his photos are of his family. He lovingly documented our lives for us.

The most precious and important thing about my relationships with my grandparents is that they have never hesitated to point me in the right direction when I have lost my way.  My grandmother always reminds me to pray when I need answers and to thank God when I have received them. My grandfather continues to teach me by his example what it means to serve your family with your whole heart.  I do not know who or where I would be without them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Being a Nurse



              



           I have been a nurse for 12 years.  I have been in love with medicine since I was 14 years old.  I clearly remember going to the hospital to visit an ill friend and feeling overwhelmed by the idea that one building housed the beginning of life, the end of it and the fight for it in the middle.  I could not process it, and sometimes I still can’t.  The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be a part of it.  Flash forward an AA in Licensed Practical Nursing, then an AA in Registered Nursing, and finally a Bachelor’s degree (My father used to remind me that two AA’s does not equal a doctorate.  Har, har.)

             I love being a nurse. I love walking into a patient’s room in the early morning, gently waking them and saying, “Hello, my name is Domini.  I am your nurse today.”  Nothing that has ever happened in those walls has ever fazed me.  The only things that I carried with me out of the hospital at night were the stories of the patients that I had cared for, and the sense that I had helped someone that day.  I had helped them in a way that I knew in my heart that I was built for.  

                Since becoming a Mom I have worked only on the weekends.  It was important too both of us and something that we decided before any pregnancy test gave a positive result.  We would make sure either Alan or I was with our kids.  This has meant very little time together as a whole family, and making the time that we did have matter.  Lately that strain had gotten to be too much and we needed to find another solution.  I applied for another job, away from the patient beside.  The new position would mean that I could be home in the afternoon, so that even when I worked we could have a bike ride and dinner all together. 
 
                I loved the flexibility of my new job immediately, and the department I work for contains some of the best people that I have ever known.  There were a few things however that weren’t so great.  My peers did not see me as a nurse anymore, and the doctors who used to tell me that they were so glad that I was the one taking care of their patient now groaned (or worse) when I would call to ask them to do some necessary paperwork.  Also, I missed taking care of patients.  I felt as though I had lost a very important and valuable part of myself.  

                I do not feel that way any longer.  Life has shown me over the course of the last six months that I am going to be given opportunity after opportunity to be a nurse.  Last week as my precious daughter was being wheeled away from me by nurses and an anesthesiologist I didn’t give a flying leap about my identity.  I was not worried about whether or not I was viewed as a nurse by my peers. All I wanted was for my little girl to come out of that surgery safe and well.  I was thankful for every second that I have ever spent with her, every single one.


                Now that we are all home together and healthy I have decided this: I am still a nurse. I will always be a nurse.  Being a nurse isn’t anything that a different job title can take from me.  Nor is it anything that I should be taking away from myself. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

35




So many days this past year I went to bed with a heart so full that I fell asleep thinking, “This was the best day of my life.”  Most of these days may appear suspiciously ordinary on the outside.  One was in the summer.  My babes and I had gone hiking and after taking in amazing views of the city we stopped at an ice cream parlor. Bellies full, we drove home.  The kiddos were obsessed with Katy Perry’s “Firework” so I let them play it on repeat.  We drove with windows down and sang at the top of our lungs.  Another was more recent, our first snow day.  I had made chicken and dumplings the day before as a culinary prayer that we would wake up to a world blanketed in white and a school day canceled.  It worked.  My only tasks that day were playing in fluffy snow, putting kiddos into warm layers (and back out again), and making hot chocolate.  When Alan pulled safely into the driveway that I had attempted to shovel, safe and sound, that was another answered prayer.

Last Friday I ended up in the middle of a four lane highway aiding in CPR on a bicyclist that had been hit by a car.  After I realized that we were not going to save him I began to pray that he had a good life and that his life had contained many precious moments.

I am only 35 but I think that this is the key to it all.  It’s being filled up by these every day joys.  It’s going to bed happy because three wee people are safe and sound, warm in their beds.  It’s singing at the top of your lungs when you want to sing.  It’s warm soup at the end of a cold day of play. It’s running behind a little girl and letting go when she has her balance and watching her pedal on her own.  It’s standing in the wings while your daughter plays her violin on stage. It’s hearing your son tell his sister how much he loves her.  It’s sewing into the night with the best of friends. Its realizing that every step that you have taken in life, the good ones and the ones that have at times appeared to be mistakes have brought you to here and now and knowing that you wouldn’t change a thing. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Little House of Dreams









Lately I find myself most in love with things that are falling down.  This little house was half a mile from our home.  It sat unnoticed by me for 6 years.  I am certain that I had seen it, but I was looking without really seeing, which is an easy thing to do.  Then one day as I was driving by, a fight over the radio started to erupt from the back seats of the minivan.  I began to search my mind and reach into the deep well of patience that is a mother’s love when I saw the little house.   I called into the back seat,  “Hey babies, what if that was our home?  What can you imagine there?”


 Fight over, radio ignored and off they went.  Max wanted a Goldendoodle to explore the property with and the “most hugest” strawberry patch to tend too.  Charlotte saw chickens, a garden and her own room with a comfy chair for reading and an easel for painting.  Willa wanted cookies and a swing.  Then it was my turn.


My first dream would be to make all of theirs come true.  Then I would add a barn/sewing studio where my friends and I could help people with their creative journeys and take care of each other along the way.  I would love a big kitchen where I could cook and the feed people that I love.   I would adore a porch with a swing, where I could sit and knit or read or just bask in the quiet of a sunset.  We went on like this for a year, tucking into that little home the only thing it could safely house: our dreams for ourselves and each other.


We came home from vacation to find the little house gone.  It had been burned safely to the ground, ashes and an empty space remaining.  When we saw it at first we were somber, but even my children can tell you what the best thing about a dream is: it can’t be burned down.  We don’t need the little house there to keep going.  Today as we drove by I turned the radio low and listened to three beautiful little people rebuild the house with their words, and when it was my turn I added some of my own.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer So Far







Our first few weeks of Summer have been spent close to home.  We have been on several hikes and discovered that in addition to looking exactly like him that Willa has her brother's zeal for hiking.  While Charlotte and I are just along for the ride, those two scramble with all the power in their tiny bodies to get to the top.  It is so nice that beautiful views of Boise are so easily obtained, and that our favorite trail is only two blocks away from the ice cream shop of our dreams.

With school out I now do all of my chores with three little people.  The shopping trip above ended with my children befriending the lady who was bagging groceries next to us.  Introductions were made, pleasantries exchanged and somehow the four of them ended up singing, "Puff the Magic Dragon" altogether.  The cashier and I were laughing too hard to join in. 

Charlotte has picked up her knitting once again, this time with vigor.  Her first big project was a scarf for me which I will  be blocking later today and happily wearing all next winter.  Now she is making herself a cowl.  I am rewarding all of this effort by sewing a new knitting bag for her today.  Knitting is 51 percent about nice yarn and 49 percent about having an awesome knitting bag.

This Friday we are packing up and heading to Portland, OR for a little vacation and a celebration of Alan's 34th birthday.  I foresee fun times with friends and meals in breweries in our near future. And maybe some time in yarn shops, just maybe.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hello Summer!












And just like that summer has arrived.  While I am always able to find reasons to love each and every season, I must admit that summer is my most favorite.  I wait patiently all school year  for my playmates to be freed and plan for our time together.  When I am running in the snow I look forward to the time when I will be able to run at 4:30am in shorts and not be cold. Driving to and from a twelve hour shift can be a gorgeous thing when light greets you at the door on the way to work and heading home.

Our little garden is growing.  My tomato plants are getting bigger every day.  My third attempt at basil is just now peeking out of the soil.  I finally got wiser and planted this crop under the cloak of nap time.  My little Willa finds the planting of basil so enchanting that she decided to prolong the process by digging it up for me, but I will prevail!  I love having this little patch of earth that depends on me.


My children have put me to work making things for them.  Charlotte ordered her fall sweater and a scarf.  Willa needs a pink back pack and a quilt.  Max would like a sweater with a hood that doesn’t itch.  After years of wanting to do so but not having the courage, I finally started making clothes for them too.  It has been sew much fun!  For the fall I am hoping to make a few items for each one.  The byproduct of all this sewing for the kiddos has been a few items of clothing made for me.  Wearing something I made myself makes me ridiculously happy.

There will also be lots of time at lessons, Charlotte began violin this spring and Max had his first karate class yesterday.  Soon swimming lessons will start too.  Watching my kids out in the world, learning to do the things that they have been dreaming of is nothing short of magical.  Most of our days though will be spent at home.  Soaking up this precious and fleeting free time, days upon days of greeting the sun and going where we want to go and doing what we want to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Depression



After high school I suffered through a major depression.

That is the hardest sentence I have ever written, hands down.  It shouldn’t be hard to write or say at all.  Mental illness is no different from any other sickness.  If had, for instance, pneumonia, I would have no hesitation in saying so.  As a nurse I know that we are all susceptible to sadness and that sadness can evolve into an illness. I know that I am no more at fault for having had depression than I am for getting strep throat.

I am writing here today because I keep having the same conversation over and over.  I have had it with my co-workers, with friends, hair dressers, in bible study, everywhere.  It always goes like this:

Other Person: I have this person in my life that is really sad.  I think they might even be (hushed tones) depressed.  It is so weird though, because they are not the kind of person that gets depressed.

Me:  No one is immune to depression.  We are all susceptible; given the right circumstances we can all be overwhelmed by sadness.

I cannot pinpoint for you where it began for me.  I do know some factors that lead to my depression.  One of them being that after high school I was afloat, without purpose.  I am not a person that can tread water. I need a point to swim for, and every day I need to stroke my arms and kick my legs to there everyday.

I also know that my sadness made it impossible for me to really love anyone.  Anytime any person during my depression said that they loved me my mouth would say it back but my head would be asking, “Why?”  I could not fathom why anyone would love me.  The sicker I got, the more I questioned.  At my saddest point, loving me became a reason to discount the other person entirely.

The gold at the end of this dreary rainbow is this:  I got help. My doctor put me on an antidepressant. My parents put me in therapy.  My psychologist saved my life.  I will type it again.  My psychologist saved my life.  I was in therapy for over year.  Near the end when I was mainly using my session to crack up my therapist with anecdotes from my daily life she told me that I was better but she asked me to stay a little longer.  The purpose being that she wanted to help me find tools to that I could use to take care of myself.  So that is what we did.

You know what?  They worked.  They still work.  I left therapy 14 years ago, was able to stop the medication and have done extremely well ever since, even in the face of hard times.  Also, when someone says that they love me, my mouth and heart get to say it back, because I love me too.

My purpose in sharing this here is this; if you are sad, please be brave and get help.  If you know someone who is sad, do everything you can do to get them help.  I am posting one of the best TED talks that I have ever seen on depression here.  If you are person with a brain and a heart beat who talks to other people with brains and heart beats, please watch it.