Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can I trade this past week in for a box of cookies?

Because I think I deserve a box of cookies.

A REALLY big box of cookies.

And I'm not talking Chips A Hoy's here, I want the really good ones, with fudge and peppermint, that come in crinkly paper bags with fancy little paper cups, the kind that just scream "Oh I'm really expensive, so you should drink me with a cup of flavored coffee with real cream in it".

You know - THOSE kind of cookies.

It's been that kind of week.

The majority of you intrepid folks who follow my little blog know that my grandmother passed away this past week. Gram and I always had a challenging relationship when we were younger, she had favorites among her grandkids, and she was never very subtle about it. When your grandmother walks up to you on your wedding day, and the first thing she says is "Where's my Tracy?" you get a pretty good idea of where you stand with her. But the woman who said that to me, the woman who I butted heads with as a kid, disappeared a long time ago.

The woman that she became was tiny, and fragile and confused, and seeing her change like that, seeing what time and life had done made any resentment I had disappear a long time ago. I know that she appreciated me being there when Grandpa died. I know that she loved me, that she respected my intelligence, that she trusted me to be there for her if she needed anything. And so, when her body finally started shutting down, I stayed with her. I sat next to her, kissed her cheek, held her hand, and told her it was ok for her to go. That Grandpa, her parents, her sister and brother, her cousins, all the people she loved were waiting for her, and that we'd miss her, but we'd be ok.

I was there with her when the Hospice nurse came in to see her, and the two of us gave her a bath and changed her gown. I washed and dried her, and put lotion on her skin just like she'd done for me as a baby. I was there with her when her breathing changed, when her color changed, and I knew she was going. I leaned over and whispered to her that I loved her, that my parents, my sisters and brother, my cousins, and all our kids loved her. I wanted her to know that someone was there with her, I wanted the last thing she heard to be that she was loved.

And it was.

As soon as I was done telling her, her breathing stopped. Her face relaxed, she looked peaceful and calm, and I knew she was gone. I borrowed a stethoscope from the Med Tech, and just like I did with my grandfather, I put it to her chest, and listened for a full minute, and then asked them to call Hospice so the nurse could come out and pronounce her.

The next couple of hours were a blur of phone calls, gathering up her personal things, thanking the staff for taking such good care of her, honestly I really don't remember all of it, I was on auto-pilot at that point. I think the next thing I really clearly remember was talking to my friend Tom on the phone as I was headed over to my brothers house. I spent a few hours over at Joes, just talking, eating, drinking a couple of beers, enjoying my niece, and laughing with Joe and Nena as we swapped stories about Gram. That time with family was exactly what I needed, my brother is one very funny guy, and the stories we shared had us both gasping for air from laughing.

So there's that.

Today Wyatts father and I went in for yet ANOTHER IEP meeting. We've both been pretty frustrated with the school, there's a serious lack of communication on their part when it comes to any academic difficulty Wy's having. We've both repeatedly asked that we be updated on a regular basis, so that we can start addressing issues before they get to the point of affecting his grades, and that just hasn't happened.

I think part of the problem is (and this has been an ongoing issue ever since Wy started school), that Wyatt is a very pleasant child. He's sweet tempered, very polite, and really lovable. Since he's not a behavior problem teachers are not quite as on top of him as he needs them to be. I think the other problem is that because Wy was doing so well last year, we may have pushed for more mainstreaming than he's ready to handle yet. Transitioning from elementary to middle school is tough for typically developing kids, and even more so for one on the Autism Spectrum. It's a HUGE change, and adding the change in the custody situation on top of it may have been asking a little too much of Wy.

So, we're dialing things back a little. He'll still go to the regular Language Arts and Social Studies classes, but we're switching him to a resource class for math and science. John and I have not been at all impressed with his science teacher, he's never once responded to an e-mail or returned a phone call, and he ducks John every time he tries to talk to him, so I'm just as happy to have him out of that class. The math teacher has been great with him, but her class moves at a pace that's just faster than what Wy can keep up with.

I've also been asked by the Special Ed teacher to come in and do a workshop for the teaching staff on how best to work with kids with autism. I'll be putting that together over the next few days, and I'm really looking forward to doing it. Between that, and the workshop on Palliative care that I'll be doing for a group of EMT's I'm developing a nice little side gig as an "Expert" speaker!

So there's that.

And I think I've earned that big box of cookies.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Autism Mom is out for blood again.

Just in case the title wasn't a clear enough hint, I'm more than a little livid right now.

I just got a phone call from the Special Ed Case Manager at Wyatts school. In spite of the fact that his father and I have already had 3 (THREE) IEP meetings this school year (2 of them to address the fact that appropriate supports were not in place in the classroom for Wy), his grades have started slipping again, and his teachers have asked for a meeting.

Now - ALL of his teachers have my e-mail and phone number, and Wyatts father talks to his classroom teachers when he picks Wy up from school on his weeks. Neither one of us has had any notification that he wasn't doing well.

None, nada, bupkus.

I just checked the school website, and from what I can see, the thing that's bringing his grades down is not homework, it's class work.

That's right, the work he does in the classroom, with a teacher, and an aide that's assigned to him right there. The teaching assistant that's supposed to be helping him take notes for science hasn't been going every day, despite the fact that his IEP says that's what he's supposed to have. The same thing is happening with Language Arts. Classroom work isn't getting finished, even though he is supposed to have someone working with him in each class. How does work not get finished when there's an aide sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIM?! It's not the homework that's dropping the grades, his father and I make sure that gets done, it's what's going on in the classroom.

After the last round of IEP meetings, when we finally got the supports in place and followed, he brought home a report card full of A's and B's. The only bad grade he had was in science, and that, we later found out, was because the school had not been sending an aide to the class with him, he'd been left on his own. The other piece of info that came to light was the fact that of all of his core subject teachers, only 1 had any experience working with autistic children.

I had actually offered to come to the school, and do a workshop with his teachers, to help them understand what his being autistic means in terms of his educational needs. I was told "Oh yes, please, that would be fantastic!" Never heard another word from the school about it.

The only one of his teachers that's actually contacted me is the Special Ed teacher he goes to for 1 period a day. She just called a minute ago, after getting an e-mail telling her about the meeting request from his classroom teachers. She's just as upset as I am - Wy has an A in her class. She said she looked over the same info I did, and came to the same conclusion - the problem is in the classroom, and there's no excuse for it. We talked about the possibility of maybe cutting back on some of the inclusion programing, to give Wy some time to catch up, which is an option, but for me the bottom line is that whatever is going on, or not going on in the classroom needs to be fixed.

Wyatt and I have worked SO hard to get him to the point of full inclusion. He's more than capable of doing the work, and he loves being in the regular classrooms. He's made friends, he comes home smiling every day. I hate the thought of having to drop back on that, and having him feel like he's failed in some way when the reality is that the school is failing him by not meeting his needs. It frustrates the hell out of me.

The hard part (and I've been saying this for years), is that BECAUSE he's so high functioning it's easy for people to forget that he is still autistic. He still has sensory input and processing issues, he still can either listen to the teacher or look at her, but not both at the same time, he still hears background noise at the same volume as what he's supposed to be focusing on, and if a train goes past the school forget it, you've lost him.

I've had some ugly IEP meetings in the past (Ramona knows, she was there for a few of them!), and this time I'm going in armed for bear.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My not so sporty boy

I've been wanting to get Wyatt enrolled in some kind of team sport for a while now, for several reasons - First, I think it would be really good for him socially to learn to work as part of a team. His natural inclination is to play next to other kids rather than with them. I know that this is part of the autism, but I also know that there's a point coming (very soon) where the social give and take is going to crucial to him developing lasting friendships. Second, he's a little bit of a klutz. He comes by it honestly, I can't ever remember a time where I didn't have at least 1 bruise on me. Third, I think it would be a great confidence booster for him, and with the specter of adolescence rearing its pimply, greasy haired, body odor laden head I want to give him as much self confidence as possible before other kids start picking away at it.

He's in the after school program at the YMCA, and the director of the program - a fantastic guy names Shawn - has been taking the kids outside and having them play touch football. Shawn is just great with Wyatt, he's patient and accepting, but he doesn't let him off the hook. He treats Wy just like the other kids and has the same expectations for him, which is exactly what Wyatt needs. So when Shawn told me he thought Wy should sign up for the flag football team I decided to give it a shot.

We've tried the team sport thing before, a couple of years ago, and it was a dismal failure. The soccer coach had no patients for Wy and she kept trying to turf him off to another team. After 3 practices with my kid sitting on the sidelines, or being sent across the field to a different coach and ending up in tears I finally pulled him out.

But I figured he's older now, more mature, and so we'll give this a shot. Today was his first practice, and when I say my kids NOT an athlete I really can't stress that enough!

The coach had the boys line up and had them start running drills around some cones - Wyatt ran the cones in full autistic glory - hands flapping, and making train noises at the top of his lungs. I damn near wet my pants laughing! Then he had the kids throwing and catching the ball.

Wy throws a football the same way he bowls - overhand with both hands and yelling HARGH as he releases the ball - the poor kid trying to catch it looked terrified for a second or 2. He catches a ball kind of like his mother does - head turned to the side and eyes closed as if bracing for impact.

Now I know how my father felt as he sat through softball practice with me. It's this odd mixture of bemusement and shame, with a little dash of horror mixed in.

At one point Wy asked the coach if he could go sit down because (and these are his exact words) "We're doing something that's new to me, and I get a little anxious when I try something new, so I have to go sit down now"

Yeah, he's autistic, but he knows how to play it up too!

Wy came walking over to me and sat down, I gave him a drink of water and sent his little butt right back into practice! He tried to argue, saying he wanted to go home, he had a very important meeting to attend (Yep, that's straight out of a Sponge Bob episode), and I told him "NO. You are no different than any other kid on your team, they're practicing, you get your butt back over there and practice too."

I refuse to let him use his autism as an excuse to not participate to the fullest level that he's capable of. He may have to work harder than the other kids to stay focused, but I know he can do it, and I won't lower the bar out of pity or guilt.

I made him march his little fanny right back out on the field and stay there for the rest of the practice, and I'm glad I did, because the next time the coach had them run a play, he made Wyatt run, and Wy actually caught the ball!

He was so proud of himself for doing it,the kids on the team patted him on the back, and I'm so glad I stuck to my guns. Now he said he's actually looking forward to practice and the game next week, and so am I.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pegalish's advice for the lovelorn

Hello my dearies.

Online dating is quite the little adventure, full of potential pitfalls for you poor lonely men out there. Since I have a giving nature, I've decided to share my advice for all you love seeking little Y chromosomal types. (Well, not just for you, Lyn missed a few of these, and my parents aren't on Facebook, but they do read my blog with great enthusiasm, and the occasional cringe)

Take it in boys, live it, learn it, and invite me to the wedding. Just don't expect a gift, this is it.

Pegs Online Dating Tips:
Online dating tip #1 - it's never a good idea to use the word Creeper as part of your dating handle.

Online dating tip #2 - if you're 47 and say you're looking for a woman between 18-58, you're more than a little creepy. That being said, when choosing an online dating handle, feel free to ignore tip #1.

Online dating tip #3 - posting a picture of yourself balancing 2 beer cans in 1 hand while you smoke a cigarette with the other is probably not going to attract the "Good Christian Woman" your headline says you're so desperately seeking.

Online dating tip #4 - if you go on a date with a woman and YOU are the one who says you'd like to see her again, disappearing off the radar for the next 2 days is NOT the way to let her know you're interested!

Online dating tip #5 - Telling a nurse that you needed to call 911 after looking at her picture will immediately make her start imagining any one of a myriad of cardiovascular disorder you could be suffering from. Not a turn on.

Online dating tip #6 - If she hasn't responded to the first 5 messages you sent her, sending a 6th one telling her about your house, vehicles, and a rough estimate of your adjusted gross income probably won't get a response either. If it does, is she really the kind of woman you want?

Online dating tip #7 - Don't say you're looking for a "good woman". Every man out there is looking for a good woman. Be a little creative - say you're looking for a bowlegged ex con with a glass eye. Narrow down your playing field a little.

Online dating tip #8 - don't say you're a musician if you're not. The picture of you holding your guitar upside down is a dead giveaway.

Online dating tip #9 - For the love of God DO NOT quote the Pina Colada song! Listen to the lyrics, the man is reading the personals in bed, looking to cheat on his partner!

Online dating tip # 10 - One word - PICTURE!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The art of online dating negotiations

If you read my last post (and of course you did, I have a small but loyal following and I love you all for that), you're aware that I've plunged into the online dating pool, which would benefit greatly from a few lifeguards and a generous dose of chlorine.

It's been an interesting experience to say the very least. Good GOD there's a LOT of scary single men out there! I was checking my e-mail today, and got a notice that I'd received a new message, so, curious girl that i am, I checked it.

And here it is: "After looking at many profiles here. I have surmised that you would make the perfect girlfriend for me. When are you available to start a relationship? Please get back to me quickly. We must take advantage of this glorious opportunity as quickly as possible."

I've been puzzling over how one should respond to such a message, and I think I've finally formulated a suitable answer:

Dear __________:

Thank you kindly for your interest in my profile. I'm honored to know that I've managed to meet the exacting standards set by a gentleman of the caliber found on a free online dating site.

Before I can agree to seize this "glorious opportunity" I'm afraid I'll need a bit of clarification of the terms under which I'd be entering into an agreement.

1) Your use of the term relationship is a bit vague, would this be a mutually exclusive partnership, or would I be free to entertain counter offers? Should the opportunity to freelance present itself would I be prevented from doing so by a monogamy agreement of some sort? Would you be willing to be bound by the same terms?

2) The term "perfect girlfriend" is also in need of some refinement. My definition of the "perfect boyfriend" is as follows: 4 star chef with a masters degree in special education and a deep abiding (but not creepy) love of children with autism, possessed of housecleaning talents that would make Martha Stewart orgasm, the ability to say my thighs look like a 17 year olds (without the slightest trace of irony), and able to turn into a cheeseburger and chocolate malted after mind blowing sex (without asking me to make him a sandwich first). I'm sure you have similar such expectations of the "perfect girlfriend", you'll need to be able to clearly define those expectations for me.

3) What specifically do you mean by "glorious opportunity"? The chance to purchase a metal detector at a reduced rate is a glorious opportunity, yet comes with no guarantee that one will stumble across a trove of ancient pirate plunder thereby ensuring complete lifelong financial independence. Are you offering stock options? A 401K? Overtime for doing your laundry? I'm afraid I'll need a bit more information first.

Thank you again for your interest, I look forward to your clarification of terms.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some thoughts on dignity and compassion

I just posted that I had received a very nice compliment today. I had gone to see a patient yesterday, and while I was there our chaplain (who is a truly lovely woman, the epitome of what a Christian should be), and one of our social workers also stopped by for a visit. I did my assessment, set up the pill box for the week, and spent some time talking with the patient and the family about any needs that they had.

When I came in to the office this morning, Anne (the chaplain) told me how impressed she was with how I interacted with the patient, she said I treated them with compassion and dignity, that I was very kind and caring. It meant a great deal to me to hear that from her. It also made me feel a little sad that treating someone with dignity and compassion would be something that needed complimenting.

I've always believed that it doesn't matter where someone comes from, or how they ended up needing my care as a nurse, what matters is where they are right now, in this moment. In this moment, they're a human being who is sick, in pain, frightened, and my job, my duty as a nurse is to relieve their pain, ease their fear, and treat their symptoms.

I've taken care of homeless people, and millionaires, the illiterate and college professors, and I don't care if you live in a palace, or a box on the corner, I treat all of my patients the same.

I treat them like human beings.

When you strip away the possessions, we're all the same.

The focus in working for Hospice is different than it is in other types of nursing. The goal is not to cure, because our patients are not curable. They're dying. My focus as a Hospice nurse is to relieve pain, ease symptoms, and allow my patients to live as fully as they possibly can for as long as they can. I've learned so much from my patients already - about what truly matters most in life, about what is really meaningful, and what is trivial. It's helped reinforce the appreciation I have for how good my life really is.

To treat the people who teach me about what really matters in life with anything less than the best, most compassionate care I can give them is to dishonor the trust they place in me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Freckles tagged me!

So there's this new meme going around the blogosphere, and I've been tagged by my friend Freckles, the Happy Heathen. Since I'm a sucker for this kiind of stuff I'm playing along, and if I've tagged you I hope you'll play along too!

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you have tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about ‘you are tagged if you are reading this.’ blah blah blah, you legitimately have to tag 11 people!

11 Random things about me:
1) I cannot STAND green peppers, really, I loathe them. Red and yellow I'm fine with, but the smell of the green ones makes me gag.

2)I also can't stand the sound of the crunching in the KitKat commercials, I will actually mute the TV when that commercial comes on.

3) I can't sleep if the sheets on my bed aren't tucked in, I'll actually get up and remake the bed. I like my covers snug, which is one of the reasons I'm happy to not be sharing a bed with anyone any more.

4) I like Ke$ha. There - I've admitted it, it's out there for the world to see.

5) When I was 14 I broke my left ankle, and a week later I had surgery on my jaw to correct an overbite. I spent the first month of my summer vacation in a cast, with my jaws wired shut.

6) When I broke my right leg I was wearing a pair of my husbands boxer shorts, because we were going to do laundry later that day. I didn't remember that until I was in the ambulance, with a paramedic cutting my jeans off me. Fortunately he said he'd cut weirder pieces of clothing off much scarier people.

7) I just realized this year that I'm allergic to cats. I love them, but every time I'm around them my eyes and throat itch, and my nose starts running.

8) I find it MUCH easier to sing in front of 500 people than to sing to just 1 person.

9) Despite the fact that I've done my fair share of bitching about the men in my life I DO remember that there was a time when I loved them very deeply. The way that a relationship ends doesn't negate the fact that there was once love there. That's a very important thing to remember.

10) I believe the most important thing that anyone can learn is how to be comfortable in their own skin.

11) My very best friends are my siblings. There's nobody who knows me better, or can make me laugh harder than Tracy, Tonya and Joe.

Now for Freckles questions -
1. What's the first thing you would save from a fire and why? Other than my kids and my dog it would be the drawing of a heart Wyatt did that's hanging over my bed, the box of artwork that both of my boys have done and their baby books. Those are priceless to me
2. You're a superhero for a day, what's your special ability? Oh, if you know me, you know the answer to this, but I'll say it again - the ability to crap money. It's the only superpower worth having.
3. How do you geek out (science, books, math, video games, etc?)I used to love playing D&D, but I haven't played in years. I usually bury my nose in a good fantasy book, something by Robert Jordan, Dave Eddings, or the Song of Fire and Ice series that my friend Deb got me hooked on.
4. Harry Potter or Star Wars? Harry Potter! I love the characters, the story, the way each book and movie becomes more complex. Yeah, Harry, hands down.
5. Your favorite comfort food and why? I have a couple - Hot Chocolate, but not just ANY hot chocolate, the Land o Lakes brand in the little envelopes (I'm having a cup of the mint flavored one right now), Carrot Ginger soup, and my mothers meatballs. NOBODY makes meatballs like my mother.
6. What's one habit you wish you could kick? Smoking. I've quit 3 times in my adult life, and I'm about to quit again, this time for good.
7. Favorite holiday and why? Thanksgiving - it's the one time of year that our family usually manages to be all together, and I have more fun with my family than I do with just about anyone else.
8. Toilet paper - up and over, or down? (lol, this is the biggest debate in our house) Oh God UP AND OVER!!!!! there is NO other way!
9. What's your favorite sweet treat? Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos, and Girl Scout cookies, especially the Samoas
10. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? What's your favorite meal time and why? Most mornings I don't have time for breakfast, and I don't get to take a lunch break , or I'm eating in my car as I'm driving from 1 patient to another, so it's dinner by default.
11. What's you favorite inspirational quote? "We cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love" Mother Theresa

Since I don't follow many blogs, and the ones I'm following have already tagged me or each other, I'm going to put this on Facebook and tag people from there. So if you're tagged, and you want to do this as a blog posting, great, if not and you want to do it as a FB note, that's cool too!

Here are my 11 questions for you:
1) What is the one experience in your life that you thing has most shaped you into who you are now?
2) If you had the money to do it, what would be the 1 luxury item you'd buy for yourself and why? (This can't be a necessity item, it has to be something you'd treat yourself to)
3) What book has had the biggest impact on you?
4) Paper towels or dishrags?
5) What's your earliest memory of your childhood?
6) If you could learn how to do 1 thing brilliantly, what would it be and why?
7) if you could be 10lb thinner, but it would cost you 10 IQ points would you do it? How about if you could gain 10 IQ points, but you'd have to gain 10lb?
8)If you're home alone do you close the bathroom door when you use the toilet?
9) What was your favorite board game as a kid?
10) If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go?
11) Which is worse - underwear riding up, or a wrinkle in your sock?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years Thoughts...

I've had a few things tumbling around inside my head for the past couple of weeks. Nothing major or dramatic, just some ideas about the things I want to work on in my life for the coming year, and it's occurred to me that one of the best ways to start the process would be to put these things out into the universe. So, since you're my friends, I love you, and you're remarkably tolerant of my various ups and downs over the past few years I'm going to lay them out here, in the hopes that you'll hold me to them!

1) I resolve to stop smoking again - this time for good. I was doing really well on this, I had quit back in March, and except for an occasional slip I wasn't smoking at all. But life threw me a few curveballs, and I started back up again. It's something I really regret, it affects my voice and my health, and it needs to stop. I'm not smoking as much as I was when I quit last time, so I'm hoping that this time will be a little easier.

2) Thanks to Mary Lea I realized that I've been wearing the wrong bra size for several years now! I finally had someone measure me, I know what my CORRECT size is, and so I'm resolving to buy better bras in the right size! I have 2 that fit me right, and the difference it makes in the way my clothes look is really nice. (Really, would you have believed I wrote this note if there wasn't at least 1 mention of my boobs?)

3) I'm going to continue losing weight. I've dropped 35 pounds this year - that's right, 35. I'm about 12lb away from my goal weight, I look better, I feel better, and I'm fitting into clothes I haven't worn in almost 2 years. I like the way it makes me feel to be thinner, and that leads me into....

4) I'm going to keep doing things that make me happy. Getting back into performing has been wonderful. I love being on stage, I love the friends I've made through the shows I've done, and I realized just how much I've missed acting and singing. I gave that up for far longer than I ever intended, and I had good reasons for doing so, but now that I've started again I don't ever want to stop.

5) I'm going to treat myself with the same care and compassion that I treat my patients with. I'm very hard on myself, I've always been quick to put my needs on the back burner, and I realized this year that I can't do that any more. I've said this about myself before, but when push comes to shove I fall back into old patterns and I can't do that any more, I'm too old for that crap.

6) I'm not going to any man any closer than arms length until he proves to me that he's earned a place in my life. It's not my job to rescue anyone, it's not my responsibility to be someone elses source of happiness, and I refuse to let myself get involved with anyone who isn't deserving of all I have to offer.

7) I'm going to continue to build on the co-parenting relationship that Wyatts father and I have begun to develop. We've been locked in a power struggle for the past 8 years, and a few months ago that started to change. We're communicating better than we ever have before, his attitude towards me has changed for the better, and it's having a positive impact on Wyatt. I want that to continue.

8) I'm going to let go of negative things from the past. Carrying around anger, resentment and hurt doesn't do anything but weigh me down. It cost me some of my spark and my humor over the last 6 months, and I'm just tired of not being the me that I know I am inside. Time to put that baggage down and walk away from it.

9) I'm going to speak my truth - say what I REALLY feel, be who I TRULY am, and stop trying to adapt myself to meet someone elses needs or someone elses idea of who I am. Again, that's something I let happen over the last year, and I'm just friggin tired of it.

10) I am going to be grateful, every day, for all that is good and positive in my life - my kids, my home, my career, my friends and family. There's too much that's good in my life to not take a moment every day and say a little prayer of thanks for all I've been blessed with.

What I love about my life right now...

I've been through a LOT this past year, and especially the last month, and it knocked me back a few paces. But I'm healing, and I'm starting to feel like I've got a good start on getting my feet firmly back under me. As my friend Meryl says (and she's known me for MANY years and through MANY life changes) I'm a Weeble. I wobble, but I don't fall down.

So I've been doing some heavy duty thinking over the past few weeks, some serious emotional and spiritual work, and I'm seeing past the worst of what's gone on recently, and taking stock of the things in my life that are good and positive.

My kids - I have two wonderful, handsome, healthy, smart, funny boys, and they are the most important people in the world to me. Being their mother is the best, most important thing I've ever done in my life, and I'm grateful every day that I have that privilege. John has grown up to be an incredible person, he's wise and kind, and is going to make a wonderful teacher. Wyatt continues to defy every limit anyone has ever tried to set for him - I know he's got some rocky years ahead, but we'll get through them, and he'll be just fine.

My career - I truly love being a nurse, and I'm really good at what I do. Starting the new job at Hospice was a HUGE change, it's totally different from anything I've ever done as a nurse, and I was really nervous the first few weeks, but I'm starting to settle in to the job now, and I think I'm going to really enjoy it. It's a little scary, but change always is, and as a nurse, you SHOULD be a little scared, what nurses do is too important to take it lightly. A little fear helps keep you sharp.

My acting/singing - this year was the first time in over a decade that I've done a musical, and I didn't just do 1, I did 2, and sang at the Air Show! I got the chance to work with both Theater Alliance and Twin City Stage, met some absolutely wonderful people, and have developed a whole new circle of friends from it. I'm so happy to be back on stage again, doing something that I love and that I've missed more than I had realized. Being in front of an audience, singing and entertaining people feeds my soul, and makes me a happier, more complete person.

My home - It's calm, it's peaceful, it's free of turmoil (and cat fur and litter box odor, and little turds under the couch or in the corners!), and the only messes I have to clean up are mine or Wyatts! I've rearranged things the way that feels right to me, I'm no longer tripping over someone elses clutter or half finished "projects", I have the whole bed, the closet, the dresser, and the bathroom to myself, I can watch whatever I want on TV, nothing gets put away in the wrong place in the kitchen any more, and my grocery bill is less than half what it used to be! I cook what I like if I feel like it, or I don't. I've spent the majority of the time I lived in this house sharing my space with a man (first Tim, then Chris), and I'm finding that I really LIKE having the house to myself every other week. I'm looking forward to planning my garden this Spring, planting some more flowers, and taking the time to really enjoy the place I live in.

My friends - I've been really fortunate to have some wonderful people in my life, and I'm so thankful for the love and support I get from them. If you're reading this you're one of those people, and thank you for being a part of my world.

My church - yes, you read that right, I said my church. I joined the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship this year, I've been going pretty regularly, and actually led a worship service in October. It's been such a positive experience, the people are wonderful, I get something of value from each worship service, and I've made some really great new friends. I'm still actively involved with Path of the Moon, but I love being part of the UU, and I'm feeling that this is the right place for me to be devoting more time and energy in the future.

I'm not completely through the healing process yet, but I think I am through the worst of it, and that's a really good thing. I'm sure there will still be a few rough days ahead, but the more I focus on what's good in my life, the less of a toll those days will take on me.