Friday, September 9, 2016

A small glimmer of light...

Today marked a step in the right direction for the giraffe boy. This morning, after a few rough days, Javad returned back to school. Eighteen months after a devastating seizure...almost eighteen months exactly, he was back. He is only going for half a day, but it's a start.

I think about the last eighteen months. It's been rough. I am still struggling with grief. Sometimes I feel like guilty that I feel grief...I am still struggling with the incredible sense of loss and sorrow. I go through the days, mostly okay. My goal is to not cry...each and every day. Sometimes it's when I'm alone, sometimes I'm not. The tears just come...it often makes me feel weak.

Today was a small crack of light shining in. A day where a glimmer of hope became rooted. Javad went back to school today. I'm not saying that things are ok, but I think they're slowly getting better.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Stay Positive...

So last year when school was getting ready I was trying to feel hopeful about so many things. I didn't realize I was in such a pit...maye because I hadn't struck bottom yet. I think I found the bottom this past year and am now crawling up. I say that I am crawling because it is the best description of how I feel I am right now...Crawling back into my life. Realistically, I am in the rebuilding phase.

Depression and sorrow are real. Sorrow driving to depression is even more real. People often discount that those who are strong can struggle. That is the story of my life these days. I am trying to refuse to let this sorrow control my life any more. This year will be better.

I am ready to finally turn a new leaf over...I am ready to move forward, whatever that might mean. One day at a time, I work on healing. Maybe this will be my year. Maybe next year I'll be able to say "Good Job Shannon...you did it!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Creating a Life...

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." ~George Bernard Shaw

This is one of my favorite quotes. I remember when I first read this it was like a bolt of lightning surged through me. The power of creation can feel overwhelming. We are in the ultimate power position...creating the life that we want. I think about my youth and the daily grind of floating through daily life, there was no real concern for the future, just taking things as they came.

It's interesting watching time pass...you begin to examine the bigger picture...what is it that prompts this? Sometimes it's age, sometimes it's regret....for me, it has been grief and sorrow. A chasm so big that it seemed uncrossable.

I was defeated...Head hanging. I knew that the pit was deep. When I opened my eyes the walls of the chasm were there. I felt defeated. It seemed like nothing was going to help....that this feeling was going to be one that lasted forever. Dead inside, a cloudy fog swirling in my brain. This was how it was to be.....until...

slowly a bridge was being built. I almost didn't see it happening. Hands reaching down to pull me up. A chain forming...hand over hand over hand, pulling me slowly up the side. Hands connnected to hands that I didn't even know. People standing for who I could be, who I am. Seeing a future I couldn't imagine. Joy, strength, passion. People standing in the space where a life could be created.

Slowly, I was being pulled up and then....the light was so bright it hurt my eyes. The beauty of the surroundings overwhelming the sorrow that has been ever present. It won't change things overnight, but the path is there. One step at a time, walking in the light, walking in the possibility of joy.

This is where is begins...it has already begun. This is about creation...creating a life...one that is worth living.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The beating of my heart...

Today was one of the most epic, life altering days. For many who have read yesterday's blog (and possibly the OregonLive article), this is not new news. Today I nearly had to pinch myself just to see if it was real. I was talked to by co-workers, my phone blowing up from tags on Facebook. It has been surreal. You need to understand the hole I have been in...it has been so deep that I wondered if I would ever get out. The storm has been swirling around my head, in my heart, making the beating so loud I can barely hear. The TIFO from yesterday's game seems fitting, "When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums." Les Miserables...one of my greatest memories. I watched it in London years ago...one of the first times I was alone and traveling. I watched from an "obstructed view" seat, leaning on the railing with my head on my hands. Tears streamed down my face, the power of the message so clear and strong. Freedom...That trip, long ago, signified a time when I stood on my own, healthy, strong. It wasn't perfect, but it was good.

Sometimes I feel that I have strayed far away from that woman. Little pieces of my heart stolen away by grief and worry. This last eighteen months stole the final pieces, my heart empty and open, slowly filling with sorrow, such deep pain that seeing above the water has been a challenge. Raw and jagged, my heart has been exposed. The anguish has been almost overwhelming at times, trying to move forward day by day. Yesterday shined a light on those cracks. I took in the joy, felt it fully, let the chants of the Army fill in the spaces, like glue sealing together the jagged edges. For the first time, in a long time, my heart felt full.

Today I feel stronger than I have in months. So many people have surrounded me with love. I have said so many negative things to myself these last months that I fully believed it..beaten so far down that I couldnt see up. Then, an Army lifted me...some special souls, a bearded man, even a Sounder. Yesterday I was surrounded and I felt the love.

"Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums. There is life about to start when tomorrow comes."

My heart is beating again...my tomorrow is here...


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Best.Day.Ever!!

For those of you who read this regularly (or sometimes), you know what this last eighteen months has been like. There have been highs and lows...lots of lows! Since Javad's seizure, I feel like I have been living in a fog. Work has been rough, home has been rough, life...has been rough. Javad's healing from that fateful day has been slow...sometimes painfully slow. Throughout his life, I have tried hard not to ask for more...ask for things that seem unreasonable but when it comes to your children, it's hard. When it come to Javad, it's especially hard. He just has gotten some crummy breaks, times when it feels like we are moving one step forward, then a zillion steps backwards. It can be hard not to feel a bit defeated. I think the winds of change are coming...I feel it!

This weekend I walked Portland to Coast for the second time with a group of amazing women! Last year, we were somewhat strangers...every one of us knowing someone on the team, but not necessarily more than that. By the end of the race, we were bonded...laughing and (not) sleeping over the course of 24 hours. There was no question that we would walk again this year. Year two is in the books, we saw (and talked to) Kevin Hart, we laughed and brought food for days. We cheered our team (and others too!). We chatted up Volunteers (who were amazing) and thanked others for being there. It was awesome...

I drove home this morning to attend the Portland Timbers game. My parents had purchased this package at an auction at my sisters' school, Christ the King. I got to hang out with John Canzano for the game and had an experience far beyond expected. I know Anna Canzano from the past (a story done on Javad years ago) so it was extra special to meet John. I can't even describe how amazing this experience was. I got a press pass (with my picture) and sat in the press box. No cheering or chanting allowed, but I did have the giraffe...I take it everywhere...it's Javad. He is where my strength comes from. He is the reason I need to get stronger, get better, be healthier.

I was getting the tour pre-game and John noticed Nat Borchers in one of the boxes. If you know anything about me, you know how much I love Nat. He is such a quality human, amazing player, incredible representative of our city and what it means to put family first. I have been in awe of him since he came to the Timbers. I have a picture with him...and his son. It made me smile! Anyway, I digress. I told John how much I liked Nat and that I wanted to give him a StandTall scarf. He has had a rough patch, he is on the mend but mostly, his part in the Timbers win last year is part of my journey too!

Nat let me tell Javad's story. To be honest, I didn't plan for this day to be about Javad too, but I guess so much about the Timbers and Javad is intertwined. He listened and told me about his godson, then asked if he could come see Javad some time. I was floored. Seems Javad will have a visitor soon!

Then, while getting food, I was chatting with the GM of the Sounders (really...I just found that out. Thank you Wikipedia...wow...now I'm even more floored!). I was harassing him a bit about the fact that his pass had the Timbers logo (I had met him briefly on my tour...clearly wasn't listening fully...I was a bit overwhelmed by it all!) and ended up telling him my story after he asked. He was so genuine, caring, and kind. He wiped tears from his eyes and thanked me for sharing...he wished us luck and said he would continue to keep Javad in his thoughts. As I am writing this I am kind of blown away by it all!

I watched the game from above...silently cheered from the box. I took my shoes off so I could tap my feet to the chants from the North End. Javad the Giraffe watched from the ledge and we (silently) cheered our boys to a 4-2 victory...totally epic! The day wasn't done...after the game, it was down to watch the coaches interviews (pretty cool!), then into the locker room. I complimented Alvas Powell on his great game, and had a great sit down conference with Jake Gleeson, said hi to Ridgewell, shook Barmby's hand and had a brief conversation, capping it all with a great sit down chat with Steven Taylor. I know I am writing this all, but I can't even sum up how amazing it all was.

This year....I think it's time for it to move out of my space. As my Facebook feed is blowing up with the story being tagged, I feel so loved and supported. There is an Army behind me. I am so appreciative of John for highlighting that as well. I am not doing this alone...I have never felt that more than I did today. I didn't sit with the Army, but today...they were with me...up in the Press Box, with the giraffe. I have never stopped believing...there is a star to prove it! #giraffestrong

Here's John's story from Oregon Live: "If you want to be Press Box Army, you already are"

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stand Tall...

It has been months since I have written...this is a sign of how much I am struggling, when even my "therapy" is overwhelming. I have always been one that people consider strong...I handle things. I do. I have it handled.

I feel like this has been the year where nothing is handled. I have cried almost every day. I felt it was the worst year of my teaching life. Emotionally I have struggled. My house is a mess, my relationships are a mess, my normal outgoing self has drawn inside of myself. Some of you would say that isn't true...that you have seen me and I seem fine. It's a front. I'm good at it. When I come home I am inside myself, saying five words to others. Exhausted and done. The fact that I am sharing this right now is therapeutic. I am tired of living like this...miserable and unhappy.

Someone said to me the other day that it seemed like my hiking was going well...in some ways that's true (although I haven't hiked in two weeks because my schedule is off the hook right now), but two weeks ago on July 1, I attempted Mt. St. Helens. I didn't make the summit, just about 500 feet shy, but that's not the story. The story is that I STOPPED MYSELF from making it because I was talking shit to myself the entire way. I was telling myself how I was fat, ugly, unworthy, out of shape, worthless. This was an eye opening experience for me. I thought I had been doing the hard work this year, putting myself first, but I now realize it was a sham. Somehow I have not been taking care of my mental health in the way it needs to be done.

I know that I am worthy (I keep telling myself this), I know that I should be happier. I am trying to figure out how to get there...I know I can't continue the way things are. My climb up the topless mountain taught me that...lesson heard!

I am now really trying to figure things out. I am trying to figure out the road to a healthier, happier self. I want to be someone who exudes joy, feels joy, feels unstoppable. I want to get unstuck. I know
that I can't make Javad better, I can't undo what has happened, but I need to create a space where happiness is present. My impact will impact his. This is much bigger than me.

I know that this is a big order to fill. I know that I need to do a lot of work. I know that it will continue to be work...every day, but I want to feel joy in all areas of my life.

I am grateful for those who have supported me...continue to support me through this journey. I am grateful. At some point we will have a party to celebrate my coming out...the beams of joy will be shooting from my heart. I am ready to Stand Tall...I am ready to get back up! It's time!

If you want to order a Stand Tall (Giraffestrong) Scarf to honor the boy order here!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pieces of me...

I was just looking at my list of blog posts and it has been over a month since I have written. This is a long time for me, It is also very telling. Writing is a form of therapy. It is a way that I work through my life, celebrate the good, discuss the not so good. So one might think...hooray....the lack of writing means all things rainbow and unicorn, but I am sorry to say that is not true.

This is what I have learned this last month...

  • living from a place of trauma is a real thing.
  • trying to maintain a normal exterior when your insides feel like they are crumbling is hard.
  • teaching is a hard job and sometimes I feel wholly inadequate to do it.
  • I may look strong but I need to be held up more often than one might think.
  • when I am scared and feeling alone, I become needy and immature in many ways...a person that I don't like.
  • it is a hard balance between "staying strong" and being real.
Last year when Javad had his seizure, I was changed. So many things changed. Although I forged on and stayed strong, inside I am frantically trying to glue the pieces of myself together. Someone needs to be calm, continue to run the ship. One person needs not to have panic be the first response, keep a clear head. This has been my job for fourteen years. I am good at this job, I do the job well, but sometimes I am tired. Sometimes I just want a break. I know that this is the war cry for all parents who have a medically fragile child, or frankly anyone who deals with a life threatening disease or death. The pieces are just there, hoping to be held together.

These last months I have been struggling. I am not sure how else to say it. I have good days and bad days. I have days when I feel that I am terrible at my job and days when I feel like I do ok. Most days I am just trying to make it from point A to point B. Some might think this sounds like I am trying to make others feel bad for me...this is far from the truth. There re so many that are struggling with grief, sorrow, and trauma...being real about it seems like the right way to honor in in others and in myself.

There are so many around me that are doing their best to build a place for me to stand, build a safe place for me to be. I am trying to stand there, surrounded by love and kindness. It's hard...I feel like I am grieving...sometimes the loss feels too big. I am not sure what to do. I stand here...looking at the pieces hoping that one day I will feel better, one day it will seem easier, one day it won't hurt so much and that things will fall together.

I believe that it can happen...I have to believe it will happen. That's what is keeping me going.  One day at a time...one step at a time...one breath at a time, one moment at a time. #giraffestrong

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Three weeks one day at a time...

We have been in the hospital for almost three weeks. Javad is getting daily physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for hours a day. He is battling a virus, which means extra respiratory treatments and exhaustion. The doctors have asked for an additional week to compensate for the virus so it looks like we will be here for at least another week. Who knew that I would be excited to to be at the hospital for four weeks (or more)?

Javad's therapy is going really well...he has increased his stamina, and is looking more like his "old self" in pictures and in person.  It is pretty exciting. On April 7 they will have him checked out for a new wheelchair (YES!!! A NEW WHEELCHAIR!!!) which would be amazing!

Overall I am pleased, I am tired, I am weary, but I am pleased. Life hasn't been easy in the recent months but it's nice to have a small and shining light in Javad right now. I am so appreciative of people in my life that are stepping up to support me and Javad's healing....I think there might be a break in the weather of our lives...Thank you all for holding him up. #giraffestrong

Monday, March 7, 2016

The strength of an Army...

Yesterday was opening day of the Portland Timbers...the team whose MLS Cup run and win sustained my spirit last year. If you haven't read about last year, read about Javad, the giraffe and the MLS Cup here. It was a great day. A few hours before the game a friend called and offered me ticket. I had already prepped Javad and told him that we were going to watch the game together, had the nurse lined up to be in Javad's room because he was "needed." It was a plan. Then the call came and my plan changed quickly.

IT WAS GLORIOUS!!!

I got to meet to site in a section that I had never been before, got to watch soccer with people who loved the game as much as I do, cheered loudly, yelled at the ref, felt the love from the people around me, jeered at the Columbus Crew and their hideous uniforms, and finished the game off in fine Portland fashion...in the rain.

There are so many areas of my life that aren't working right now...so many areas that I feel like I am not winning. I am clinging onto a few areas, hoping to make a breakthrough, personally, professionally, health wise. I am clinging to my "year of healing" mantra. I need to shed the sorrow of last year and find my joy. I know I am making positive moves in that direction...hiking each weekend and bringing soccer fully back into my life.

I am making a commitment to Javad and his healing...I know that his strength will bring me strength. My sorrow has worn me down so that I am paper thin and barely able to bind the pieces of myself together. There are those in my life that continue to hold the frayed edges of me in their hands, carefully placing the pieces side by side, reaching down when I have fallen and helped me up.

The Army has held me...made sure that I won't fall to far, too hard, into pieces that are too broken. The Army never loses faith...always believes. This is what I take into 2016. One day at a time...one piece at a time, I will put myself together again.

#rctid #giraffestrong

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Picking up the pieces...one at a time

Today when I was hiking I was doing a lot of thinking. I was with two great women, two women who six months ago I either didn't know or barely knew. At the end of this month I am celebrating my three months back at hiking. When I was young my dad took me out a lot. It was what we did...camping and hiking. I am sure that there was a lot of complaining on my part...sometimes there still is a lot of complaining. Now I sprinkle in profanity occasionally too.

So I was thinking about where I am in my life, the places I'm doing well, the places I'm not. This last year the tiny cracks of my life became chasms. For a long time I suffered in silence thinking that it was better to just deal. This cause such pressure inside me that I thought I would burst. Now I am talking...and talking is creating its own issues. It is both empowering and heart breaking. Honestly, I am not sure which emotion is winning. Adulting is hard, relationships are hard. Sometimes....life is hard.

Long ago I realized that I struggle to make deep, meaningful, and lasting connections with people. This was one of my adult aha moments. Yes, I am great in a crowd, yes...I can talk to almost anyone, but I struggle at relationships. I don't do them well. I, in all of my outgoingness, struggle to maintain friendships.  I didn't learn that skill from my mother. Deep connections weren't encouraged or taught. Anything I have done has been hard work. Being around others is frankly exhausting. Don't get me wrong, I love being with people...it's just hard. I feel like I am in a spotlight and people see that I am awkward and unsure.

Last year happened...it really showed me my own weaknesses. It showed me that I am not as strong as I thought. It showed me that things I had counted on to be stable, weren't. It has left me floating about, untethered. I am frantically trying to figure it out, figure out how to behave, what to choose, how to act. I am trying to pick up the pieces of my fractured life...find the ones that fit together and leave the ones that don't. I don't know what the picture might look like when it's done. This is hard...I want to control the outcome and I am having to let that go. I know that I am focusing on healing, focusing on doing the best I can at work, in relationships, at being me. I am focusing on healing Javad. I am focusing on getting a clear head, and seeing a clear path.

This is hard work...the hardest work I have ever done, but I believe that I will pick the pieces up, one at a time, and when I am done, there will be an amazing picture of my life. I don't know what that will look like, but I am getting there...one piece at a time.