It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

February is a fun month.  Last week was an amazing week.  I am a part of the Grand Junction Lions Club and we hold one fundraiser a year.  It is not only the biggest fundraiser among the community groups in Grand Junction, it is the biggest one time fundraiser in Lions Club International.  We are kinda a big deal.

We do a raffle (six-seven weeks of selling raffle tickets) and then do a parade and carnival to finish it off.  The carnival is old timey:  a quarter a paddle and you can win different things like soda, bacon and eggs, candy, flowers and so much more.  We have been doing this for 86 years and it’s a staple in the community and several generations of people have attended.  Each year there is a theme:  this year was Colorado Wild and we did it up right, on a boat!

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

Me and Shawna (as Katy Perry)

"I'm on a boat" crew

“I’m on a boat” crew

Me as a mermaid

Me as a mermaid

 

Yup, we have a good time and do a lot to raise money for the community.  This year we have pledged to give $125,000 to 10 organizations in Grand Junction.  Not too shabby.

Not only was a carnival but it was 10 years since I arrived in Grand Junction.  I’ve never lived anywhere for 10 years so this is huge.  I felt like I was celebrating with my Lions family (although most of them had no idea, but I pretended it was all about me anyway).  It’s a huge accomplishment in my life.

And then there was the worst of times.  Sunday night my cat, Punky, was incontinent not once, but twice.  She is 18 1/2, has been a diabetic for over six years and I know that this is a red flag.  She had been incontinent about a month ago but wrote it off as sleeping really hard, not a big deal.  I should have paid more attention.  So, I took her to the vet on Monday and Dr. Aimee Johnson put her on an antibiotic immediately.  We got the test results back yesterday (bladder infection) but at her age, this is much more than just that.  The incontinence hasn’t gone away, she seems to have a feline dementia (yes, there is such a thing) and…she’s my fur baby.

I’m facing the truth that I may have to make one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever had to make and that is putting her to sleep.  I have to start looking past my desire to have my fur baby with me and to look at what is best for her.  Whether I should let her live with not knowing who I am (I am starting to look into eyes that sometimes have no idea who I am) or letting her go before she doesn’t even know when or how to eat.  I have to look past my desire to not want to make a hard decision or make a decision that keeps her from pain and suffering.  I have to look past ME.  And this isn’t easy.  I have spent the past two nights crying, hugging her, letting her sleep on my lap and just wondering:  is it time.  I have spent the past two days at work talking to my co worker and boss (who have and are going through the same thing as me) and listening to their advice.  I am fortunate to have a boss that says “when it’s time, take a day”.

And I have a feeling that the day will come soon…and I don’t want to have to make a decision but she is a faithful animal, a kind soul and won’t go…unless I make that decision for her.  That is my gut feeling.

So I had an amazing week last week…and now face an adult decision.  I don’t want to be an adult in this decision.  I want to make a fort, hide and play dolls in it…and forget that hard decisions exist.

Only the lonely

Sometimes we all feel lonely. Having a disease/intolerance/allergy will do that to you. I mean, people have bouts of loneliness as it as but having a condition can make that worse.

Let me preface this by saying that my friends are family are amazing!

But sometimes you feel deep down alone. Everyone else is talking Ho-Hos and Nutter Butters and you are thinking “can I make that gluten free?” Because not being able to grab those items makes you different. You can’t just go through the drive through because they have nothing you can eat. You can’t just go to a restaurant without calling ahead and you always have a bunch of food along with you “just in case”.

Let’s face it, being different is ok but constantly saying “I can’t have that” or “I can’t eat that” gets old.

It leaves you feeling lonely. So lonely.

What do you do about it? I love the fact that my friends and family watch out for me but how do you feel with that feeling of being different?

This is dedicated to the ones I love

There have been a lot of thoughts going through my mind the last two days. My brother found out that another of his friends took his life this week. My heart hurts for him as he’s had to deal with death so much in his life, almost always people around his age.

Something he wrote on Facebook got me thinking. First, we wear masks. I know a lot of times I “fake it til I make it”. We cover up the fact that we are going through trying times, put on a happy face and make it through the day only to collapse at home. It happens. But having people you can go to is a key.

Second, we need to tell people we love them. The worst feelings in the world are feeling lonely and unloved. Speak it, tell people you love them and show them by giving your time or a simple hug.

Last, be kind. This is one of my favorite sayings:

2015/02/img_3242.jpg

Sometimes we speak and it comes out badly, we all have those moments. I know I’m guilty of that. But be kind, speak kindly and approach everyone as if it’s the worst day of their life. What’s the worst that could happen?

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who had their lives touched by this gentleman. RIP.

Giving Thanks

In two days it will be Thanksgiving and most people think about what they are thankful for just long enough to get to the turkey and stuffing.  Then the day is filled with football, naps and more eating.

Yes, I will be doing some of that, as well as running a race, but the last couple weeks have made me realize how thankful I really am.

You see, I have had multiple friends that have kids in the hospital, have a spouse or family member or close friend with cancer, or surgeries that were complete surprises.  At this time of the year, when we give thanks and move towards the happy holiday that Christmas is, there is so much hurt and heartbreak.

I think of three different families that I know right now that are dealing with cancer in one of their loved ones.  I know that there are more out there but there are the ones that I personally know.  There is much to be thankful for this holiday but I know that they are thinking farther ahead.  I hope that they take in each moment to treasure them in their hearts.

I think of my good friend Shawna who’s daughter is in the hospital fighting a bacteria in her lungs because she has Cystic Fibrosis and may, or may not, be out of the hospital before Thanksgiving.  Each day is precious to them as well…but Courtney is a fighter!

There are more but I’m writing to say this:  be thankful EVERY day.  There is so much to be happy about, to give thanks about on a daily basis.  Remember what they are, write them down, or at least write them on your heart.  Give thanks to God for what He’s given you, even the hard stuff because it grows you.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, hug your friends and family and eat lots!  🙂

The nightmare comes true

As a Celiac, my worst nightmare is being served the wrong food.  When we had a Carino’s here, they served me regular pasta once and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I complained, the kitchen manager said “we need to train better” and it was a LONG time until I ate there again.  Only then did I tell them I was gluten free when I was seated but when the server came over to get my drink order, when I ordered food, when the food came, etc.  I checked and then triple checked.

Last week I wanted soup for lunch and was going with my mom.  She is also GF and eats at Chili’s a lot and since they had soup there, I thought I’d try it.

Chili’s isn’t my favorite place to eat.  I’ve just never been a fan of their food but I’m willing to step outside my little box and go somewhere that isn’t my favorite.  We were seated, asked for a GF menu and they have a nifty Ipad thing at each table now with allergen menus, games and where you can also pay your tab.  I took a look at the menu, decided on the unlimited soup and salad combo and ordered the soup off of the GF menu, reiterating that I needed to be gluten free and also asking that I not have cheese on either.

Since it was unlimited, I decided to have a second bowl of the soup.  I flagged down another server, who had been assisting ours, and asked for the GF soup, no cheese.  He looked at me, said “that soup doesn’t have cheese on it” and my heart sank.  I had been served the wrong soup.  He was apologetic and brought me the correct soup the second time around.

When our server came back, my mom kinda let her have it.  She told her that we had, several times, told her that we were GF and the soup that was brought wasn’t.  All she said was “I’m sorry” and stood there.  I explained to her how sick I get but it didn’t seem to register.  We asked for a manager and all we got from her was “I’m sorry” and I told her that her staff needed better training.

I can tell you that that may be my last visit to Chili’s…ever.  Not only were they not attentive to my needs but, when a huge issue of negligence came up, no one seemed concerned.  A place like that does not deserve my business.

 

Just keep swimming…

Somehow the spring and summer got away from me.  It was an amazing time with friends, family and spending a LOT of time outdoors.  That meant that I spent LESS time away from my computer and less time writing, obviously, except for my weekly article for the Free Press.  I apologize for being lax in my writing for my audience.  It wasn’t my intent to forget you!

There were two things that stuck out for me that happened over the summer.  First, we had a family reunion over the 4th of July holiday…ok, we had two family reunions.  One planned, the other just happened.  You see, there is a lot of my family (from my mom and dad’s sides) that either hadn’t seen my niece and nephew and some that hadn’t even met my sister in law.  This was an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone.

My mom’s side of the family hadn’t been together since the funeral of my grandpa so it was decided that we would get together for something fun instead of a sad event.  There was so much laughter and memories during those day that went so quickly.  Then, as my mom’s side of the family left, my dad’s side came.  More laughter ensued…more great memories.

The best thing is that, during these few fleeting days, everything we ate was gluten free.  I don’t think a lot of people even gave it a thought as they picked up the scones, muffins and or other tasty treats that my mom had baked.  Most of the baked goods were recipes that had been handed down for several generations and she had modified.  It was, from my point of view, a great showing of what gluten free isn’t:  tasteless, cardboard food.  It was also a showing that we are normal people, we just had a disease that causes us to adjust HOW we eat and WHAT we eat.  An adjustment, not a death sentence, if we follow the rules.

The second thing that I did this summer was the Warrior Dash, which happened to be my third time running this race.  Despite disappointments during the actual race, it was the most fun that I’ve had at the race.  Shawna, my running partner and partner in crime, and I stayed at Copper Mountain this time and we were able to catch the post race festivities with our friends.  The nice thing about Copper is that, as a ski resort, they are sensitive to the needs of the GF community and I was able to eat sushi and many other things while there.  It was another amazing milestone for summer 2014.

I will try to not be so lax in my writing here on out.  Feel free to keep following and have a great day!

Christmas-time is here

Yes, it’s here, folks.  Tomorrow is Christmas.  As we move from the hustle and bustle of Christmas gift shopping and preparing for guests, don’t forget to be thankful for the simple things because when it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if dinner is perfect or if that gift isn’t the right size.  What matters is time with family and friends.

My brother recently lost a friend of his, he took his own life.  And yes, right before Christmas.  While this seems significant to many, in my mind it doesn’t matter.  Losing someone, no matter how, is hard at any time of the year.  I’ve watched my brother upload picture after picture of his friend, grieving via social media.  The really good thing about social media is that it brings people together at times like this and he is able to talk with others that knew this gentleman, sharing memories of him.

So, this Christmas, put away the one upping of “my gift cost more” or “my house is decorated better”.  Treasure time with those you love, tell them “I love you” many times because it can never be enough.  Most of all, have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!