100 days of gratitude~Take 2

When publishing my last post, I realized that a year ago began a 100 days of gratitude blog post 100 Days of Gratitude~Take 1.  Call it fate or presence of mind, body, and spirit connection, I am compelled to start a second blog to follow along this journey. By going through this cognitive awareness and ritualistic daily behavior, I learned a valuable process of mindfullness, gratitude, and the impact positively in life.  Hopeful that this process will help me realize my hopes, dreams, aspirations in life, and create a healthier me that may then permeate into all that I touch in the world.

Everyone’s journey in life is uncharted.  We never know exactly what will show up on our tables of life.  This past year, my 100 days was filled with a plethora of beautiful moments and times of great sadness and sorrow.  No one could have ever predicted the health path experienced from adding a new nephew, losing a father-in-law to Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, significant health challenges in my brother, newly diagnosed sister-in-law’s AML, and renewed life with a heart transplant opportunity for my dear brother.  Looking back to the first gratitude blog, I find moments of great sadness and sorry but also moments of beauty and growth.

Retrospectively and philosophically, the first gratitude journey contained a heavy volume of pain that can be tied to fortuna, or derived concept of “fortune,” or more simply stated the pain of chance.  No one seeks out this kind of pain and sorrow in life, it is beyond our control.  My brother was born with CHD which was not changeable.  My sister-in-law developed breast cancer early in life, was treated appropriately, and then developed a secondary leukemia called AML very resistant to current medical treatments.  These losses left an immense voids in the family, particularly for their spouses and children.  The void extends to all those family and friends with close connections to my brother and sister-in-law. Learning to live through this incredible life change is part of the journey and new normal for us.

Having said that, there is also amazing beauty in the last year too.  The family has grown in number, increased social support among family was felt and valued, new opportunities became available for family and friends, my children are growing and thriving with a continued thirst for learning, and a new career path is being entertained for my husband and myself.

In an effort to not clog up any email and social media, I will limit blog posting to day 1 (today), half way through, and upon completion.  Please consider trying this 100 day’s of gratitude yourself.

Warmly, Michelle

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February 28, 2016

Day #1:  Beautiful atypical warm day with 60 degree weather in Milwaukee, WI that broke century old records dating back to 1895 February 28, 2016.  Started the day with a beautiful fire in the fireplace sharing morning coffee and the local paper.  Transitioned for a walk along Lake Michigan on the trails with my husband at a local Schlitz Autobon Nature center.  The nature center was flooded with people exploring the new weather and seeing the last traces of snow and ice.   Tons of kids were collecting stones, skipping them, and finding treasures along the beach, including one toddler who found a brick carrying it all by himself to his car.  The day ended with a beautiful lesson with my son at his bass teacher’s house.  Nate tried a German bow and decided to switch from a French bow.   We were able to exchange bows on the way home from the lesson at the local music store where he then played a third time for the day without any parental prompting.

Day #2:  Grateful for having the time for reflection on this Monday morning as I continue to pursue career opportunities.  Since November/December, the window of opportunity in our family needs have shifted opening up more time for me to actively pursue and apply for positions and return to a nursing career as a pediatric nurse practitioner.  The process is long and allowed time for reflection this morning.  Thinking about past, present, and future opportunities can be exciting and daunting.  Having said that, I am very excited to see opportunities to return to patient care, learn, grow, find my new passion in nursing, and use the tools that have been mentored by such amazing colleagues and friends through the years.

As I consider options, it is also important to consider the current needs of our family and my own needs.  Rethinking the work life equation was written a few days ago and got me inspired to remembering what I thought frequently in the last few years, the work life balance and tied into a book I completed this am.  In essence, my concern centered around keep up with career needs, family needs, social life, recreation, and preserving a sence of self that is healthy and happy.  A recent journal article reading entitled  Education through recreation and book on resilience by Eric Greitens highlight these issues.

The quote by Jacks in 1932 resonated with me as a very important point for man or woman with a busy and active career.

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.”                                                                                    Education through recreation

Day #3:  March begins with a beautiful morning with only a light dusting only of snow instead of the 6 inches anticipated last night.  No need to fire up the snow blower.  Will make an easy shovel and allow time to walk the neighborhood again later today.

Day #4:  Grateful to have been able to meet and shake hands with a stand up guy like John Kuhn.  Two superbowl rings and still a down to earth family guy who loves to fish, snowmobile, and good Wisconsin folks.1457011987051.png

Day #5:  Restless sleep.  Thankful for Colectivo morning coffee to help energize for routine daily activities and continuing on the search of finding the next career opportunity.

Day #6:  Grateful for pilates and friends this am to start the cold day.

Day #7:  Brilliant morning sunrise with a light snowfall, packing snow to build a snowman with my son, and adventures to look forward to with my 70 year old folks seeing the Garrison Keillor performance are the gifts of the day.  Garrison Keillor in MKE can be listened live just like we did tonight.  img_20160306_054119.jpg

Day #8:  Early morning start with a fire and reading the local paper’s front page story about last night’s performance.  Great memory for my folks to take home today.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Precious walk through the local nature preserve Schlitz Audubon along trails and exploring by Lake Michigan finding treasures on the beach was a treat before my folks headed home and son to a bass lesson.

Day #9:  Reflecting on First Lady Nancy Reagan’s death yesterday and my Aunt Janie Romenesko who will be laid to rest today, both impacted by a dreadful disease.  May their families find hope and healing on their journeys.  Alzheimer’s is truly a challenging disease that has impacted many of our family members in the past, including my grandfather’s brother and priest.  He was a long standing leader in a local college and married my husband and I in 1992.  Grateful that the folks at St Norbert’s Abby were so good to him during his last year’s and for all the caregivers out there who struggle with this challenging disease that takes away life’s beautiful memories.  May Nancy Reagan reconnect with “her Ronnie” and he remember him and Janie reconnect with her dear Gene and she remember him.

Day #10:  Wonderful Tuesday coffee date with my mother’s siblings.  What a beautiful gift that they live so close to each other and can reconnect weekly for updates on the family for a couple hours.  One of the great benefits of having a large family and all remaining close in proximity in the heart of the valley.  Reminded me of yesterday’s funeral when my Aunt’s funeral highlighted of her 11 children, 9 are alive, there are over 30 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and 4 on the way.  Most folks also remained within the heart of the valley.  Wow, these type of families are rare nowadays!  Truly a gift and blessing!  Glad to be the “uninvited” drop in guest of the day and win $20 in the lottery ticket to help fund their sibling bucket list trips this year.  One will be sailing on Lake Michigan where I get to go!:)

Day #11:  Happy Birthday to me!  Sun is shining, walking for lunch with my dear Aunt Mary and her three generation of girls to celebrate.  Will be a great day!  My son’s orchestra concert at the middle school tonight to end the day.

Day #12:  Cooler day, but so thankful for the last 24 hours.  The beauty of a new birth and wonderful gifts and serenades from yesterday continue to spill over into today.  Reconnecting a dear friend of the family from Boston today with my daughter and extremely excited to retrieve this KUHN from the airport tonight.

Day #13:  Brisk walks around town are fantastic rejuvenating moments.

Day #14:  Started the day taking a classic family pajama walk with my husband to see the morning sunrise peaking through the overnight fog on the lake.  The shades of blues, greys, and whites across the flat peaceful and flat lakeshore bring a smile to my face thinking of the upcoming spring and summer days.  Walking home, we found a curb where someone wrote “Laugh” in the cement while it was still wet and made us both smile again.

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Day #15:  Love having my daughter’s college so close from home.  She came home for laundry after dropping her BFF off at the airport and decided to stay the night.  Great to hear the kids playing the solo ensemble duet Nate performs next Saturday.  Ended the day laughing incessantly as we binge watched “Fuller House” on Netflix.  Three more to go to complete the full season.

Day #16:  Not going to lie, but getting out of bed was not an easy task this am.  I found myself staying up past my 9pm wall and could not get back to sleep.  ARGGGHHHH!!!!  Sleep is so essential to healthy living but sometimes so hard to fully achieve.  Will definitely not miss my wall tonight.

Day #17:  Today brought four changes in the skyline as I ventured out for the day.  The second view while driving along the lakeshore resonated most.  I was struck by how the fog of the morning walk at 9am had lifted and the lake could actually be seen.  The sun was shining and wind was low.  Minimal ripples were along the water.  It was 12:30pm and the light from the sun on the ripples looked just like starts in the night sky.  The only difference was that the backdrop was blue not black.  It was a breathtaking sight.  Funny how life changes in such a short timeframe.  The morning walk was fog filled, afternoon was like a night sky with stars, walk to the library again fog filled, and last walk was filled with bright orange colors behind the blue and white skyline.  You never know what you will get in life.  This in itself is a blessing in disguise.

Day #18:  Holy whipping 50-60 mile per hour winds today!  Reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all times Mary Poppins.  It is a perfectly perfect day to allow change to happen and go wherever the wind carries you.  I respect this and will keep the options open in life on our employment journey.

Day #19:  Gorgeous walk to the grocery store with my husband with evidence of the signs of spring sprouting up through the earth.  Even some magnolia trees are showing signs of promise to bloom in coming weeks.  It is exciting to see change and spring’s presence.

Day #20:   Emotions have been high and low this week around employment, family, and routine daily adventures in life.  A pretty “normal,”  week right???  No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but I will continue to remain open, focused, and positive.  Ending the week with renewed vision for growth opportunities whether in MKE, east coast, or west coast.  Looking forward to a wonderful Friday night fish Fry and March Madness basketball with my daughter and her dear friend as they return from college in search of a wonderful start to spring break.

Day #21:   Artistic moment by a tree inspired by my son at solo ensemble this am was inspiring and priceless.  I am so lucky to have a bright young artist for a son who loves the instrument, challenged himself to a class A piece this year, is confident in his skills enough to allow his mother to listen in the room, and found humor in the moment outside the local high school.  Bravo Nate!  Whatever your score is, I am so proud of you.

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Day #22:   First day of Spring!  It is still very dark outside and sun has not started to rise.  Yesterday was filled with snow flurries yet and temperatures remain in the 30’s-40’s but that is ok.  Signs are popping out of the ground, and looking forward to another day, 12,000 steps at minimum, and a day with my family.

Day #23:   Monday morning, motivate, move, and continue on a forward path.  My alma mater (UW Madison) won the basketball game last night moving onto the Final Four in March Madness, my son Nate won a 1* rating for solo ensemble and moving onto state for his bass performance, and finishing the day shepherding Nate to a special orchestra practice with folks from Oberlin College and Conservatory at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Day #24:  Boy do I love being a mom at all ages…each year brings exciting new moments.

My 14 year old son was still glowing with excitement from his experience in the phenomenal master class last night with Peter Dominguez.  He was one of 4 students who performed and given 30 minutes time with Peter who coached on how to “create a dance” with his quarter notes.

Watching my daughter travel for the first time to sunny California with her dear friend and share a selfie at the Golden Gate bridge is refreshing.  The thrill of adventure, confidence, and glowing smile is wonderful to view through parental eyes.  She is growing and transitioning into a fine brilliant and beautiful young women~20 years old this summer.   I couldn’t be more proud of either of my two children.  San Fran

Day #25:  Looking forward to seeing my godson tonight as they travel to our home for spring break.  Hoping the weather does not impact safe travels.

Day #26:  It’s 5:30pm and today was a full day.  Grateful for friends and family and safe travels.  Sharing time over a good cup of coffee with dear friends in the morning is very therapeutic.  A beautiful #174th addition to the Peeter’s family (Ava Elizabeth) has arrived.  Grandma Ida and Grandpa Jim Peeters would be proud as peacocks if they were alive today to see the family growth.  Wishing Ava and family safe travels home from the hospital and a wonderful first 24 hours in the family.  Grandma’s knee surgery went well with positive conversations from her team.  Had a good phone call with a national recruiter about NP opportunities.  Last but not least, a blessing was seen outside my window during a windy sleet and snow filled day.  A cardinal was observed while reading a book about Michelle Obama.  I felt my brother Greg’s presence as I do every time I see a cardinal since his death last May.

Day #27:  Fantastic day in so many ways.  My mother-in-law is recovering well from knee surgery this morning.  We had a fantastic day in the windy city with family, friends, and my dear godson.  The historic Sears Tower broke ground the year I was born in 1970.  The first picture is me pictured in 1973 when it opened, Michelle Romenesko.

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Day #28:  Gorgeous day sunny day outside and headed for a walk now to the beauty around me.  Looking forward to finding adventures along my path.

Day #29:  Easter Sunday service was beautiful surrounded by my friends and godson.  The children’s bell choir, songs of Joy, and brass quintet resonated with my senses and brought the sermon to “think outside the box” to a new light whether you have gone through sadness, grief and loss, or another challenge in life.  We need to find a way to embrace life, live, and move forward.

Day #30:  YEAH, YEAH, YEA!!! Submitted the revisions to the BREASTFEEDING CASE STUDY!!!  Looking forward to seeing the outcome and proud of my team’s diligent hard work and perseverance.

Day #31:   Pilates is a great way to start the day.  Feeling longer and stronger already!

img_20160325_214729.jpgDay #32:   Grateful to have my amazing aunt Audrey Van Asten competing with me for extra steps every day.  She has a knack for pushing me to the next level each day.  Never fails, she always comes out a thousand steps ahead!:)  It’s all good.  A little healthy competition is engaging and energizing.

Day #33:  Data from my Fitbit tracker helps me focus on my daily steps and miles for better health.  In addition, it is very helpful tracking my sleep, especially when wide awake at 2:55am.  Feeling stressed the last few weeks with uncertainty of the job process, potential relocation impacting my son’s high school years, and impact on my family, has impacted sleep.  In addition, I recurring dreams are returning my mind to last year’s health challenges my brother endured.  Physically, I sense the impact of lack of sleep this last week…a little more irritable, harder to get motivated, and less pleasant to be around.  Visualizing the data from the Fitbit reinforce the need for thoughtful sleep habits.  Will continue on course to stick to the 9pm bedtime, no electronics, dark room, and doing a little light reading before turning out the lights.  Made a choice today based on the data to get back into the Bikram Hot room at noon to help reset my mind, body, and spirit.  While a developing thunderstorm was flooding the streets, I was grateful to have the presence of mind to move forward to strive for better health and the ability to enter the healing room to revitalize.

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Day #34:   Blessed to have time with great friends to celebrate this year’s birthdays at a new tapas restaurant in the area.  My dear long time friend Suzette shared with me a blessing bracelet.  It has four pearls on the bracelet.  Every time you are drawn to it, put it on, or simply gaze at its beauty, you silently find four people or things that you are grateful for.  Tonight, I am grateful for good friends…Pat, Suzette, Harald (my husband), and myself.  Truly blessings and wonderful thoughtful souls that are treasured.

Day #35:   As I wake this am, I am thinking about the blessing bracelet.  I am truly grateful for my Steltzer family and my three siblings.  While I am only 25% a part of each circle, I am an important part of the journey wherever it leads us in life.  I vow to continue to use good self care this month as I remember this important piece and remember the upcoming milestone losses of last year.  Looking forward to Steph coming home tonight to show her the beautiful bracelet and treasure.

Day #36:  Enjoyed daughter time and sharing classic Lee Dungaree bib shorts and overalls that I loved wearing in college in the early 1990’s.  I kept them secretly thinking I would fit back into them over the years.  We giggled and laughed she tried them on and even texted my dear friend who also sported the bib shorts with me as a student.

Day #37:  Voted today.  Wisconsin is a highly contested state with lots of traffic the last few weeks.  Grateful to have this is a privilege and will be an interesting Presidential primary.

Day #38:  Grateful Mr. Trump did not win over Wisconsin in the primary.  Enough said…

Day #39:  Brisk walks are refreshing.  A little more sun and less snow flurries would be great but will take it to keep moving forward.

Day #40:  Yuck outside…not a great walk day to take time in my day for me.  Thank goodness for two activities (Pilates and Bikram) to make Fridays a little more fun, keep moving, and engaged in taking care of me.  Two unexpected joys at the end of a long drive at the end of the day.   My son tried out for Wisconsin Honor Orchestra and at the end, parents were allowed to sit in the audience in the ensemble and witnessed an amazing practice for state forensics tournament tomorrow.  Nate rocked on both teams and soooo proud!!!

Day #41:   Phone calls to my brothers…grateful for their presence in my life.

Day #42:  It’s national siblings day.  Wonderful treat to wake up with both my siblings home and share time together hanging out for the day.  Some great news was shared by Nate for his state forensics improve performance winning first place yesterday out of 96 participating teams.  Steph shared that her poster was being presented at the Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium and 1 of 10 posters being considered for a monetary award.  This is HUGE news for someone in their second year of college!!!  A sophomore in undergrad preparing a poster for presentation is very unusual.  What a great learning experience and so proud of her accomplishments.  Grateful that she could find a fantastic experience in a stem cell lab with great colleagues and mentors.

Day #43:   Monday mornings…uggh!  Grateful for sleep but it is now time to start the painful work of packing up the house and simplifying preparing for a move.

Day #44:  Grateful for cleaning house and sharing treasures we no longer need with others that may find use for them.  Funny part about today is that my niece was at Goodwill two hours north of me thinking of her mother who died last September.  She shared a picture of my favorite baby doll from childhood with a pull string that talks, baby drowsy.  Funny how life connects happen when we are open to give and receive.  We both laughed out loud when we saw them which provided some positive spirit within us.

Day #45:  Grateful for the ability to power walk with my husband and the weather prediction of a warmer this week!

Day #46:  Grateful to be moving forward, but boy it is tough to stay motivated.  Took a walk while my son was in orchestra practice at MYSO.  Strolled by Schlitz, around the bridges on third street, and the Milwaukee Riverwalk.  Will miss this city and the history.

Day #47:  Sun is shining, warming up, and family time with Peeter’s cousins, aunts and uncle bowling night.  We might just have to spill out into the parking lot pending the turn out given we have well over 100 members!;)  Many of these cousins were my first truly good friends growing up outside my siblings.  Will be nice to see folks during fun times and not funerals.

Day #48:  Family is so important.  Grateful for family heritage and an amazing day traveling through the history of our family from the 1850’s and influential relative, Arnoldus “Arnold” Verstegen to 2016.  Arnold was one of the first immigrants from Zeeland, Holland who impacted the development of Little Chute, WI~a city where my mother grew up just blocks away as one of 12 siblings.

Unbeknownst to us and just prior to our planned 11 am tour of a recently opened windmill in town Little Chute Windmill, our family stopped by the gravesite of my sister-in-law Nancy Romenesko, in the St. John’s cemetery before meeting up with my brother and cousin.  This is the same cemetery where Arnold Verstegen is laid to rest and the site of the church in the background in the pictures, St. John’s Nepomucene Church.  While there, my aunt was there (also godfather of my eldest brother) and cousin who were paying their respects to Nancy and sharing a white angel on her gravesite on this gorgeous 70 plus degree day.

Who would have imagined the timing would be such that we would meet up here?

What chances and forces collided that helped make the connections and encounter happen?

My aunt Mary recently visited my mother and father’s home for a family visit and support following my aunt’s husband’s death over the Christmas holiday.   She slept in the very same bed I stayed in the night before I arrived yesterday.  It is crazy how connects happen.  I truly believe there was a higher power intersecting our lives to make this day positive and hopeful.

Interestingly enough, another amazing connect was just about to happen after we had lunch at the old drug store in town a block away (now known as Seth’s Coffee).  We all said our good-bye’s and went to our respective cars ready to start the journeys home.  Just as I started to enter the car, I ran into my aunt Audj driving through the parking lot of the windmill project.  She is the eldest daughter of my grandmother who is also my mother’s closest sister and BFF.  She wasn’t able to attend the bowling night last night and crazy enough showed up before we left town today.  Another example of the power of family and faith.  We celebrated a reconnect with a smile, hug, and well wishes for the upcoming holiday and flight leaving at 4 pm.

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Day #49:  Early rise to get to two Madison soccer games for my son.  Thankful for beautiful brilliant sunshine with temperatures in the 70-80’s, a manager who helped collaborated a practical approach to games giving rest between them to refuel, and my daughter joining for the second game in between her studies and busy week of college.  Two siblings with a great heart even though they refused to cross the line on the field today.

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Day #50:  This is the half way mark of my journey to 100 days of gratitude.  Feeling blessed with a good 8 hours of sleep, I ventured out for a walk on this bright day.  I thought a lot about those friends who were running the Boston Marathon today and wishing them blessings to stay strong and safe during the race.  Crazy to think just 3 years ago, we made a last minute decision not to go to the finish line to cheer on the runners.  That fateful day still brings chills to me as I think about those terrible losses at the finish line and the lockdown following as the attackers were hunted down.  In addition to reflecting about where I (and family) had been, I reflected on where we were going.  Together, we are moving forward with many unanswered questions.   Certainly this can cause some anxiety and fear which is normal in the process, but it is equally very exciting to see where the journey takes us.  I am certain every one of my ancestors had this uncertainty in their adventures all the way down the Arnold Verstegen who you learned about just two days ago.

Temperatures rose quickly on my walk.  I stopped at my favorite park bench at Atwater Park with a quote from the donor, “It is more important to be kind than to be important.”  I took a good 20 minutes to close my eyes, open my palms, and breathe in and out slowly and mindfully.  While sitting there, I never noticed the families gathering with their children playing on the playground, runners, owners and dogs enjoying the greenspace.  I felt the warmth of the sunshine as the sun rose even higher into the sky as I sat there patiently breathing.  I opened my eyes slowly only to see two ducks flying right in front of my view across the landscape of the lake silhouette.  They were flying west.  A beautiful moment and rejuvenating to my spirit.

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Day #51:  ARGGGHHH!!!   An edit request on the case study came through via email this am.  Grateful for the positive remarks shared by the first reviewer showing the manuscript’s promise of near completion for publication.

Expanding horizons can be a beautiful thing and feeling blessed for the opportunities to explore and change these boundaries for other breastfeeding families with CHD.

Day #52:   Sun is out and a beautiful day for my son to head off to Washington DC on his 8th grade class field trip.  Excited for his adventures!

Day #53:  Grateful for a 7 1/2 mile brisk walk enjoying the blooms of springtime.  The magnolias will be opening fully in a few days.

Day #54:  Keeping it simple…grateful for a fresh teeth cleaning at 7 am and leaving with all my teeth in good shape for another six months!

Day #55:  Repeat from day #52 a little.  The sun is out and a beautiful day to pick up my son tonight after his Washington DC school trip adventures.  I am excited to hear all the details of his journey.  In addition, it’s a great day to head to see my daughter for lunch and LAX game in Madison.

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Feeling fortunate as I reflect to have this day of positive experiences this year.  Tomorrow, my brother would be turning 48 years old if he survived his transplant last year.  He is dearly missed, remains present every day, and will never be forgotten by me and so many loved family/friends. Feeling incredibly grateful for the health care team and donor family for the opportunity and gift of life last year on national sibling’s day.

Day #56:  Miss you brother…Have a good first birthday in heaven.  Thanks for the dream last night.  Miss ya and love you lots!  Grateful to have a State Cup soccer game and dinner with friends tonight to help distract myself from sadness.

 

Day #57:  Grateful for a beautiful rainbow over Miller Park Stadium on the way home from a gruelingly long day of interviews.

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Day #58:   Grateful for WFB library for purchasing the book “Hope Heals”.  Finished the book this am.  Brilliantly written story about hope and tragedy.  Worth a read.

Day #59:   Family…grateful for good wholesome people with a caring heart.

Day #60-61:  I have clustered this post date due to a recent family crisis.  My father has been critically ill due to a GI bleed since Monday night, 3 days ago.  It is now Friday and grateful for my mother for recognizing and persisting on getting to an ER to be treated.  She truly gets ambulance fee for this.  My father can be stubborn about admitting he needs help.  He is a giver at heart and love him dearly for that.  The team at AMC in Appleton, WI was fantastic and did not drop a beat to treat the issue at hand and investigate the cause.  Thankful to the many blood donors who shared red blood cells, plasma, and platelets with my father….a precious resource.  It is now 2130 on Friday and in awe to see him vertical, with a stable hemogram, platelet count, and on the healing and recovery pathway.  Not sure exactly why this was handed on our family’s plate during an already difficult time of grief and loss (7 deaths in 2 years timeframe and all very close to the heart).  I am truly grateful for the continued positive spirit so many brought to the bedside and the renewed life it brings to my father today.

Day #62:  State solo ensemble was fantastic.  Grateful for John and Kathi for their excellent mentoring and my son’s gift for music and the double bass.  Fantastic first rating achieved~strong work Nate!:)

Day #63:  Watching the movie, The Jungle Book, at the local downtown movie theater a walk away in the backdrop of my son and his friends.  Love the fact that he still doesn’t mind having his parents present~grateful to be his mother.

Day #64:  Woke up to an email this am from a former patient, “Thank you for being part of Paz life!”  What a beautiful start of the day.  So very thankful to have been connected with this beautiful family on their journey with CHD in Boston, MA.  While managing the home surveillance monitoring program (HMP), she was one of the first patients that was international.  Clearly a candidate for the program if she lived in the US but nothing was set into practice for plan of care for this population’s needs, 4,600 miles away from a surgical center.  With the attending and parental support, we proceeded to carve out a practical plan for this family and the home providers so the family could stay at home during the interstage period.  This Paraguay family went on to the second and third stage for their daughter.  She is thriving and doing well thanks to a great team.

Day #65:  Time to put a sign outside…glad to have a good friend and realtor by our side through these tough transitions.

Day #66:  Adventures begin…destination unknown.  Could be east coast, west coast, or Princeton, NJ but that is ok since our nuclear family is intact.

Day #67:   Throw back Thursday:  Found this broken pulley wheel made of wood from an old barn the other day in a local establishment, and it reminded me of an important point.  While it would be nice to stay planted in Wisconsin near family to continue to grow, our best efforts in the last 6 months have demonstrated no avail here.  I am happy to have the wheels of change rolling for career growth with full knowledge they don’t have to be perfect.

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Day #68:  Happy Nurse’s Day!  Grateful for all the caring nurses across the globe who bring compassion, hope, and smiles to patients to help them heal.

Day #69:   Magnolia trees are in full bloom.  Beautiful gift this morning.

Day #70:    Couldn’t ask for a better Mother’s Day gift.  My father is recovering well after discharge from the hospital and using a walker for assistance.  We enjoyed a beautiful walk in the old neighborhood with my mother, oldest brother, and cousins last night.  I spied on my old room from the back.  Bumped into one of my cousin’s at the local park who was sharing her time with her daughter-in-law and 2 year old grandchild.  Time to enjoy a beautiful fire with morning coffee and my 70 year old mother and father in their home just a few blocks from where we grew up.  How wonderful that my father had the foresight to build a home with the comforts of a ranch style first floor living with the newly added safety bars as needed for aging years.    

Day #71:  Enjoyed a beautiful nature walk at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center this am during a scheduled open house.  Wild flowers were blooming, preschools kids were visiting, Lake Michigan was fairly quiet, birds were prevalent, and the view from the observatory tower showed 4 different shades of blue in the water.  The last picture shows one of the wild turkeys stopping to get a drink in the puddle created by a rock pile.

Day #72:  Rain, rain, rain.  We need it in order to grow.  I am thankful we have it but don’t have to like the lack of outdoor activities that go hand and hand with its presence.

Day #73:  Immense fog and dreary day continues.  The glow of light that I am focused on today is seeing the FB posts of a the long overdue recognition of an amazing nurse colleague in Boston.  So thankful for the mentoring and champion nursing friendship that Terry has shared with me through the years.  Grateful that she has chosen a career in nursing bringing forward her passion and strength to serve so many patients, families, colleagues, and friends.

Day #74:  Thinking of my brother a lot today as his first milestone of his death approaches just 10 days from now.  So grateful for his skilled team of professionals and those who have become friends in his 47 years of life.

Day #75:  Fun Friday of weekend adventures begins…

Day #76:  Fantastic last MYSO concert shared with friends.  These boys have known each other since they were 1 year old.

Day #77:  Road trip…Chicagoland!

Day #78:  Sometimes grey sky days can be the most inspiring ones of all.  There are so many different shades in the color palate.   Each one brings out a little bit of color with a slightly changed shade depending on the angle you look at it and the colors of the earth and shadows surrounding it.

Day #79:  Finding time to get some thoughts together for an ask from Jodi Lemarcks to share my sibling perspective on CHD According to Me for the July 22, 2016 Mended Little Hearts National Symposium in Chicago.

Day #80:  Beauty was found following a long walk alone to Klode Park.  It was a bright sunny day with a light breeze to move the water on Lake Michigan.  I could hear a roar of water hitting the rocks and shoreline and a fellow resident was playing his saxophone.  The sounds of summer and warmth are coming my way.

Day #81:  Had a beautiful surprise visit from an old colleague and friend from Boston.  Wonderful to reconnect, share dinner, and a flight of wine in the local community.  The bantering about state sports teams continues….IL vs WI.  I still think Adam looks best in the cheesehead myself!;)

Day #82:  Peace…enjoy the peace and solitude whenever possible.  It is an invaluable resource.  When the noise of the day and activities drive you into the action mode, we need to remember what is most important~PEACE.

Day #83:  Proud to see my son being called a teen as he checked in for his annual appointment and equally grateful that he still had youthful heart to want a sticker just like the other two young preschoolers in line after him checking into their appointments with their mother.

Day #84:  Beautiful day in Madison on so many levels…

Visited the farmer’s market, found wonderful treasures on a walk, shared time at Memorial Union, and finished the day spending time with my uncle and his family.  The city of McFarland has rallied around a dearly loved one and former classmate of my cousins, Ally Wolff, who succumbed to neuroendocrine cancer at 20 years of age.  In it’s 4th year, the small town of 7,800 has been even more successful for the cause and brought forward the first ever neuroendocrine clinical trial in the world with hopes to help future patients and families.

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Marimba treasure on State Street

Day #85:  Enjoyed another beautiful day of sunshine and remembered my dearly beloved brother who died last year on this day.  The connections of symphony flowers, marimba playing on state street, and belly laughs with my kids around snap chat face swaps were priceless.

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Day #86:  Monday morning beautiful sunshine.  Grateful to have been able to connect my father into a second opinion with the help of a dear friend and her husband’s help.  I am hopeful that we won’t need her husband’s skillful surgical talent and that the GI issues will be resolved soon.

Day #87:  Tuesday…breaking out all the steps today.  Grateful for completing 20,000.  Time to rest my toes!;)

Day #88:   Hopeful start to the morning regarding likely destination outcomes.  Things are starting to line up but still not gelling completely.  By afternoon, my energy has waned and become less hopeful for the anticipated recruiter connect today.

Day #89:   Feeling grateful for a thoughtful and strong second opinion team at Froedert and the Medical College of Wisconsin for my father’s recent critical GI bleed last month.  The team gave a thorough evaluation and action plan to help provide reassurance and guidance for a healthier tomorrow.  A second grateful moment ended the day for the final orchestra performance at the Whitefish Bay High School.

Day #90:   Woke to read the news of a dear loved one in the Milwaukee community.  Bless you Dr. William Gallen.  I am eternally grateful for his presence and pioneering leadership when our family and so many others needed him the most.  May his family find comfort in knowing his many gifts shared on earth were cherished and provided hope.

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Day #91:   Grateful for family and their cheering presence on the sidelines today in Appleton at the state cup tourney and BBQ celebrating my niece’s 25th birthday.

Day #92:   It has been a stormy weekend but did not stop us the three generations (my daughter, myself, and mother) from finding lovely inspiring plants to grow in my mother’s “cottage garden” or backyard.  We also were looking for plantings for the front yard and garden bed that I bought last year through the silent auction at the Lady’s Cancer luncheon.  I donated it to my mother with our relocation plans and found a beautiful location just off her front porch.  The bed will always remind me of Nancy, my sister-in-law, who died last September with AML.  When I was bidding on it last year, Nancy was getting results that were unfavorable, the cancer was back, and more aggressive treatment was being planned with a BMT.

Day #93:   Remembering all the loved ones who served in the military and were lost on this Memorial Day.  Also remembering this day last year and the celebration of life service in my brother’s local church.  It has been quite a journey this past year and so pleased to have time this year with my parents, kids, and extended family.  Was a blessing to have planting time with my mother in her garden yesterday and the ability to watch it grow in coming weeks.  We are all growing in our own ways and finding hope wherever light shines  within our hearts.

Day #94:   Inspired by my brother Jeff and conversations with him over the weekend to give back.  Today, I am grateful for his friendship and support through the years.  I found a plethora of photos of his wife.  Will donate them for him to continue on his healing journey and find hope for the future.  It is still the first year and milestones are tough.  I hope seeing some of these new photos in random order will find him peace.  Nancy truly was a beautiful lady inside and out.

Day #95:  Beautiful day sharing time with my aunts and uncles at the Brewer game and celebrating a win for MKE.  Grateful that Aunt Sally is home and recovering and my father is getting stronger each day.  I suspect that next year Harald and I won’t be so lucky to be invited on the bus ride.  This is a fairly robust and healthy dozen siblings!

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Day #96:  Chicagoland adventures.  Grateful for new opportunities and views of a potential home on the 36th floor overlooking the city and lake.

Day #97:  Grateful for a beautiful opportunity for my husband to advance his career.

Day #98:  Sharing my potted plants with my mother in her garden…priceless!

Day #99:   Wow, times are truly changing.  I am grateful for my nuclear family but remain uncertain with our final destination and best fit within my large and extended family support network and inevitable aging parents.  I thought this 100 day gratitude journey would provide directional guidance but clearly there are too many directions to follow.  Times like these, I need to follow my heart….

Day #100:  Reflecting on the start of this 100 days of gratitude and the journey to new career path opportunities as well as traveling through many first anniversaries of my dear second born and loving brother.  There have been many highs, lows, fears, joys, and unexpected pathways in these 100 days.  I have learned about myself and future goals.  I confidently put myself out in the workforce, wore my wonder woman power pose minutes before long and grueling interviews, and found out that the fit was not the best.  These last few weeks have sparked strong leads and I remain hopeful to find a place to share my skills, contribute as a PNP in a meaningful way, and provide hope and healing to patients and families.  While this is the end of my 100 days journey, I will continue to find ways to see the beauty and blooms in this great world whenever I see it.

This perennial garden just outside my doorstep is one such example.  My neighbor enjoys sharing his gardening skills with great pride.  Today’s blooms resonated with me.  This single red bloom doesn’t have perfect shape and symmetry.  What it does have is a vibrant and striking color that stands up and shows the world its inner strength and beauty.

 

 

   

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7 thoughts on “100 days of gratitude~Take 2

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