Am I really “still me”?

Lost is a place, right?

Are you there, too?

Hi, everyone! Welcome to “Lost”! It’s the new and improved place we used to call “Here”.

We don’t call it ‘Here” anymore because we’ve moved away from “Here”. “Here” is a place from afar. A place removed from what is relevant and current.

Destination: Unknown

I’m at home in “Lost”. And that’s sad.

Sad, but true.

“Lost” is both familiar and painful.

“Lost” is not that far away from “The Past” and just around the corner from “Hindsight”. It is 20/20, no?

And “Lost” is just before you get to “Far, Far Away”.

“Lost” is both confusing and exciting at the same time.

It is unknown and to some, might seem tragic.

To me, however, it’s not tragic.

It’s home.

I’m ready.

Ready to get to know my way around “Lost”. It seems that I may be here a while and I might as well get my bearings in this place.

Most of the people that live here are pretty nice. My neighbors keep to themselves, but smile and wave, if waved to.

And I do wave.

Every damn day.

The sights in this town are pretty nice, too. Old homes with character surrounded by new growth and change.

“Lost” has pretty great schools, too. With teachers that seem to actually care. Teachers that take the time to know their students by name and learning style.

The students seem to reciprocate with a sense of simple splendor. With a joy of learning! They converse in small groups out on the patio, while teachers smile their knowing smiles.

“Lost” even has a big chain Super Store!

Hooray, for “Lost”!

One day, we’ll catch up to the big city, but as of now, we’re pretty proud of our Super Store, thank you very much.

“Lost” is an easy commute to the finest jobs around. And, as luck may have it, my job, too. I love my drive to work from”Lost”. It’s a quiet and serene time that I can hear myself think. No one needs to be tended to and everyone can hear me.

I’ve found a nice niche in my little part of “Lost”. Albeit small, it’s mine.

I will miss “The Past”, but I’m not there anymore.

Now is the time to revel in the here and now and appreciate this thing we call life.

Do you appreciate life? Or do you, like I, take just about every minute for granted?

Geez, guys!

Let’s start the new year with a pact, OK?

Let’s be happy and content.

Whether we live in “Lost”, “Far, Far Away”, “Here”, “Now” or “In the Moment”.

Let us appreciate and savor every hour we get.

Every minute.

Every hour.

Every second.

Why?

Because before long we’ll be living in “Gone, but Not Forgotten” and I for one, want to put the final move off for as long as possible.

So, I will live in “Lost”.

I will love in “Lost”.

 I will be in “Lost”.

And for once, I’ll finally just be “me”…

Everything stays the same…

Everything stays the same.

Time is passing.

Leaves are falling.

Costumed children have tricked their treat and turkeys are starting to get scared.

Yet, everything stays the same.

Chris has had two, two month check up’s since I last wrote. To be perfectly honest. I didn’t know what to say.

Everything stays the same.

His doctors are happy and we’re excited! His tumor isn’t growing.

Yes, Chuck is still hanging out in his brain. but he’s not growing.

Every single time we hear this it gets more and more hopeful.

An “all clear” at the two moth appointment means more time.

Chris, however, is struggling.

You know those steps of the grieving process? There are five and he’s knocking back and forth between steps two and four.

Anger and depression.

One day he’s happy and I see a glimpse of the man I used to know.

One day, he’s so angry that I can’t get a word in edgewise because he’s so damn mad at me he can’t see straight.

And then there are the days that hurt the most. The days that I watch that strong, amazing man crumple at the feet of cancer.

He doesn’t move.

He doesn’t talk.

He doesn’t…

I long for the “good” days.

The days that he laughs and sings in that horrible baritone that I love.

The days that the kids can joke with him and he laughs back.

But, more often than not, he has an anger or depressive day.

Now, I’m not saying he’s ALWAYS like this. I’m just saying that it’s hard to have a good day when you’re trapped in a three way cycle of happy, mad and depression.

He’s still Chris.

With his hat on, you might not know that he has brain cancer. He still looks the same. Handsome as ever!

The only things you might notice is his aphasia.

He talks with effort.

To someone who didn’t know, it’d be like talking to someone who’s distracted. Like talking to someone who isn’t really listening.

Except, it’s the exact opposite of distraction.

It’s extreme concentration.

Words are difficult and following an entire conversation takes as much concentration as he can muster.

Which is a lot!

You might not know he has cancer.

But, you do.

Other than the cycle of grief, everything is ok.

Everything stays the same.

The kids are starting back to public school and I couldn’t be happier!

Not that I didn’t enjoy homeschool, but I just couldn’t do it.

I’m good at a lot of things. Great at some. But, homeschooling wasn’t my forte and I’m ok admitting that.

So, today Doodle two started at the elementary school near our new house and Doodle one starts Monday in middle.

Ugh!

Where has the time gone?!

I’m sure they’ll love being around more kids their own age and I’ll enjoy being with Chris ALONE on my days off.

What’s that like?

I forgot.

We moved to a new town and although it’s only a county away, I’m tee totally lost!

I’ll find my way.

Right now, I know where the schools are and the gas station.

It’s weird to be in a new town.

A fresh start.

Will we meet new friends?

Will we enjoy and become comfortable here?

I hope so! I certainly do.

That’s that!

Chris’s two month appointment went so well. Although, his brain is still swollen, it has gone down exponentially in the last few months.

Although weak, he has the ability to get stronger.

His will to fight is still there.

And, although dealing with the tremendous burden of grief, he is doing well.

The kids are starting school and they are nervously excited! They don’t seem as scared as they were before and my heart is happy to finally see them enjoy education again.

We are ok. We are together and enjoying what it feels like to be a normal family. We are happy with the notion that we get more time. We are starting to remember what it felt like before cancer entered our lives.

But, it did.

Everything stays the same.

Lulu’s Luvlies!

I’ve found one of the best shops on Etsy and I had to tell you all about it!

It’s the kind of shop that combines great customer service and superb products. Products that are right on trend and are the heartbeat of what everyone in the planner community wants.

Lulu Luvlies.etsy.com

So, why do I tell you about this shop? Because as a new member of the planner community, I’d like to tell you what I’ve found and what is, what I think, the best of the best when it comes to planner products and Etsy shops.

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See?

How beautiful is their Spring Rain Collection?

I used it this week. I’m new at this. But, I think it turned out pretty LULU LOVELY!!

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Gorgeous, right?

So, here’s the story.

I contacted Lulu’s Lovlies on Etsy Convo and a wonderful lady named Libbi wrote me back and we came up with the idea of featuring her amazing items on my blog! I was so happy to do it that I almost cried! She was so nice and helpful. So very helpful that I felt comfortable with her. It was like talking to a friend. A friend that you can tell anything. She helped me pick out the perfect essentials for a new planner girl. She made me feel so welcomed in the planner community. You see, the planner community is a “THING”. A real place where planner girls get together and share their love of all things planning and stationary. Libbi helped me feel like a real member of this “secret society”. Libbi and her sister, Andi, made me feel like, not only, a member, but a valued member at that!

A few, lightning fast, days later I received my “Happy Mail”!!

This was the first thing I saw…

FullSizeRender (27)The “Freebie” sheet. The “Medical Appointment” sheet. The “Farmer’s Market Basket” sheet. And the biggie….The “Golden Leaves Collection”.

I was drawn to the hand drawn icons immediatly. HAND DRAWN! Libbi and Andi are so talented and it shows, not only, in their kits, but their ability to draw their icons. Only a few shops can do this. And Lulu’s Lovlies does it in style!

So, they have GREAT customer service, LIGHTNING fast shipping and HAND DRAWN icons in their kits. How can you not love an Etsy shop that has these characteristics?

They sent me one more amazingly perfect kit…

FullSizeRender (28)The “Full Summer Poppy Collection”.

What a nice kit to transition into fall!!

The kit is a “No White Space” wonder! With the hand drawn icons, it is what summer is all about.Fun, play and lively adventure.

So, do you want to peruse their shop? I bet you do!. And I recommend you do it immediately!

http://www.etsy.lulusluvlies.com

Tell ‘um I sent you!

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A yay and a nay…

As we talk to the doctors, he waits in the silence of the unknown.

There is a moment that stops time completely.

What did the MRI say?

Silence

And then the words that I had hoped for….

“No growth”

Those two words are powerful. They have the ability to make me fly!

And I did!

I felt as if I was high above the Duke Brain Tumor clinic. High above the roof tops of all of Durham.

Much like I picture him.

He’s my Superhero.

The man that can do anything and everything, right?

But as I look at him right this moment…he’s alone.

What happens to our superhero after the big fight?

In movies you never see when Batman goes home and takes off the cape. Slips into his pajamas and goes to bed.

When he wakes up, stretches, pained from his fight and starts his day.

That’s what has happened to my superhero.

He sleeps in his chair.

Slumbers in loneliness.

The fight is over and it’s time to go home.

Only my superhero’s fight isn’t over.

He will fight until the end.

And, according to his doctors, the end isn’t near.

Great, right?!

Yes and no.

No because of the fact that everyone has left him.

Forgotten that his fight continues.

The excitement of his surgery and his post op infection is over.

And now he’s alone.

Why?

I don’t know.

I hurt for him.

I fold his cape and he slips into a painful sleep.

When he wakes he screams.

He hurts.

He hurts so bad that he wants to give up.

Wishes he’d never had his first surgery and had left the tumor in his brain to ravage his function.

He screams for it to stop.

But, does anyone hear him?

NO.

They’ve moved on.

Ones who told him that they loved and cared about him have gone away.

And he sits in this house and listens to a silent phone.

It amazes me how many people told him that they loved him and cared about him and would stay by his side.

I BELIEVED them.

He BELIEVED them.

And now he’s a man fighting alone.

He’s slipped into a dark place.

It must be the place that Batman goes to after the Joker dies.

Silent.

Unknown.

He gets the job done, but still feels as if somethings missing.

And there is.

I wish I could fill this void for my superhero, but I can’t.

All I can do is hope that they hear me.

I wish I lived in a world where my love was enough.

Where I, alone, could fill his heart.

But, as much as I want to, I can’t.

I am not enough.

But, you are.

And you left.

Erin Condren: A Game Changer!

Do you ever feel completely disorganized?
That no matter how hard you try to plan ahead to keep up with your busy day-to-day life,  something always seems to be forgotten or missed? And how every new year, you go out and buy a new planner with the hopes that this year will be better because you have a different planner this time?
Yet, you find yourself not using it because it just doesn’t have everything you need it to have after all?
 And flipping through mundane black and white pages just bores you to tears, which makes you less inclined to keep it updated?
A little confession…….that was me. I NEVER used to be this neat and organized. My life was a disorganized mess!
Until the day I discovered a planner that would literally change my life from chaotic disorder to complete organization!
The little miracle that saved me from my stressful and disorganized life and transformed me into a more peaceful and completely organized “life planning” guru is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.
I didn’t think it was possible that one little planner could shift my cluttered, disarrayed life into an orderly, systematic and organized one. I didn’t believe it…because I had tried so many times before to no avail.
This is not your average planner.  Sure, it has a calendar like every other planner, but it’s so much more than that.
I actually look forward to using my planner and I can tell you that has never happened before.
Being organized for the first time in my life has created a calm I never knew existed because I don’t stress anymore about missing or forgetting anything.
The EC LifePlanner layout has everything I need to plan accordingly, but beyond that, it’s also visually pleasing and actually brings a smile to my face when I use it.
Who knew that scheduling, planning and coordinating daily life could actually be fun?
Not me!
Have you ever found something that made you so happy that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Well, my friends, it may seem small to some of you, but I can find a little ray of sunshine every day in my Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Yes.

A planner.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

Maybe…to some…

I believe we should cherish the little things in life. And my Erin Condren LifePlanner may seem like a “little thing” to some, but to me it is so much more!

When I sent an email to the Erin Condren social media squad, I never thought I’d hear back. I sent it with the hope that they would read my blog and hear my story. That that story might pique their interest and I’d be able to use it to help another person dealing with some of the same things I am.  Or maybe it could simply help introduce someone not familiar with Erin Condren to a new and innovative planner that they could use in their everyday lives.

So, I reached out. I sent the email, and lo and behold, I got a response from a woman named Samantha!!

Holy Hades!

I couldn’t wrap my brains around the fact that my little blog could catch the attention of someone at such a large company.

But, it did.

“Samantha”  told me to make my choices for a new planner and she would send me a “Happy Package” full of EC goodies.

Rose Gold and MidCentury circles and Vertical vs. Horizontal, Oh My!

I was giddy with excitement and this is what I was talking about before. This planner can bring such a smile to my face!

So, I waited.

And I waited.

Just two days felt like an eternity, but it showed up and that orange box made me Squeee!!

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I called Doodle One in and we went to “Unboxing” this new found glory in a perfectly packaged box.

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There was a note.

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They always include little freebies on the top of their packages, but this was personal. A handwritten note. It was from Sam. We were on nickname terms and I laughed out loud at the concept.

So, I opened it and she had sent two boxes of their amazing colored pencils for my kids.

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What?

Yes, y’all. She sent two boxes of the most perfectly designed colored pencils for my Doodle’s!

Plus, some stickers!

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I was, again, just in awe of her ability to touch my heart.

Sam sent me what they call the “Wellness Package”.

It included their AMAZING wet erase markers (I had no idea there was even such a thing, but they write like a dream and only wipe off easily with a wet paper towel)

A “Wellness Journal” to keep up with general body wellness. It’s not just specified to weight loss. It chronicles hydration and an overall body conscious way of living.

Their “Designer Sticker Book” that is so pretty I don’t think I can even use the stickers! They are gold, platinum and rose gold foiled with such perfection that they look like works of art.

A set of their “Do It All Dots” that go in your planner to stylize even the most mundane of daily duties.

Two, Count Um, TWO dashboards!

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One that you can use weekly to organize meal planning to make that task a breeze and one that included the cutest sticky notes you can imagine. All highlighted with their signature water color background. They are so useful, I’ll probably run out and have to buy my own. (Which I’ll do in a heartbeat!!)

And finally, a cover to use until  the personalized one that I picked out could be made. Because the platinum foiling process takes so long to prepare, Sam just couldn’t wait to send it to me!!

And y’all, this cover was beautiful. Perfectly foiled and laminated in a very sturdy, yet still visually pleasing format.

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Then it happened.

I came to the bottom of my package and angels sung and birds chirped and whales gave a mating call…

My Planner.

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I felt like holding it up like Simba and singing “The Circle of Liiiffee”…

From cover to cover I stared. My daughter thinking I was crazy the whole time.

I couldn’t open it up.

I wanted to savor the moment and smell the fresh paper smell and feel the infinite possibilities that perfect planning can do to your life.

But, I finally did.

The front cover has a whiteboard that works with any dry erase markers or the phenomenal wet erase markers.

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The first page is vellum. I didn’t know what vellum was, but now I know I want it in my life. It is gorgeous. Marked with a colorful pattern of their “MidCentury Circles”.

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And then I dove in. Head first with eyes wide open. It has a two-page layout of 2016 and 2017 and then it has a two-page layout of boxes, color coordinated for each month. I think I’m going to use this as a “Goals” page to set monthly goals for myself.

Then the planner itself starts and the watercolor theme immediately stands out. It is strong, yet feminine. A perfect choice for a new style.

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The months are still color coded this year, but with an elegant watercolors. Less polka dots and boxes. She truly captured the essence of every different personality. For, with the soft colors, one could add pizzazz with stickers or just let the simple beauty of the planner speak for itself. I, myself, am a little in the middle. I love stickers, but I am understated in my design choices. But, EC knew that and designed her LifePlanner for each personality accordingly.

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The months are followed by note pages: Lined, Graph and Blank. Again, with the customizing, EC. Oh, how you know thee!!

Then follows the folder pocket that serves the purpose of just that. A two-sided folder to be a catch all for all of your receipts, bills and so forth. It’s sturdy, yet not industrialized looking.

And yay! A zippered pouch at the end that you can move to wherever you’d like in your planner. Filled with goodies like the coil clip to snap it into place, a sticker book sample and compliment cards that I’ve already used for Chris’ sweet nurse that helped us so wonderfully.

So, do you want one?

I bet you do and I have a code to help you get $10 off.

So, take the plunge.

The design is always top notch and the personal touches they add just add a little something that can’t be explained.

This year is the year that I caught the planning bug. I got caught off guard. I joined a community of planners that is both exclusive and all inclusive. All members are full of love and compassion.

We all know that we are all fighting our own battles. But, we rally and hold hands and just love one another in a way that feels so fulfilling.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. From kids to homeschool to a husband fighting cancer. This planner gives me the light I need to get me through my most gloomy of days. I can pace the halls of the darkest hospitals and my light won’t be extinguished.

Yes, a planner can do that. Yes, a planner does that.

And that planner is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Get your own personal ray of sunshine.

Allow yourself to be enlightened and changed for the better.

See how something that some may call a “little thing” can make such an enormous and positive impact on your life.

With Love,

Al

P.S Here’s your $10 off code!!

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/allisonpadgett0625

P.P.S Take a look around and find what tickles your fancy!!

http://www.erincondren.com

XOXO…

**Some editing and some writing credit goes to Suzanne B. Horton who makes my sun shine and my moon glow**

The Art of Conversation

Talking.

When we do it for the first time, everyone rejoices!

Your Mama probably remembers your first word, right?

Well, I remember his first word after the first surgery.

“Honey”

That’s ME!!

He can talk.

And then I realized that that was all he could say…

Talking comes so easy to all of us.

We do it everyday.

“Hello”

“How have you been?”

“How are your children?”

“How is your family?’

But, are we really listening to all of the answers?

My plea to you today is to LISTEN.

Listen to the glorious sounds of your loved ones voices.

Just listen.

To your children.

To strangers that you pass on the street.

Relish the art of conversation.

Relish the sound of your own voice.

Hear it.

Better yet, use it.

Challenge yourself to talk and listen.

Remember that first word and how everybody got excited about it?

Say it.

Because you never know when your words will be taken from you.

You never know if you will have to relearn the art of conversation.

It’s beautiful.

So, today, my friends, take a moment and talk.

Listen to the sound of your own voice and rejoice in the fact that it comes so easy to you.

Because one day it might not and you and I both don’t know when that day will be.

A Discovered Treasure

Today is a day like any other. Chris started out pretty good and then got worse. He may rebound and we have a good evening, but you never know. Our life is a roller coaster. Of good, bad, scary, ugly and nice.

I wanted to share something that Chris found today. He was looking through the “Notes” section of his phone and found a letter he wrote to any and all of us two days before his surgery. It took me a while before I got up the nerve to read it, much less write about it. It is personal and, well, just like him. If you’ve known him for a while, it will touch your heart. If you don’t know him at all, it will touch your heart…

“Now, this is a story all about how, my life got flipped-turned upside down”….
To whom this should concern, 
Something just felt off… 
I went to my doctor because I keep having these episodes where I forget the English language, I can’t speak, then when the English comes back, I still can’t speak, it’s baby talk. These episodes only last a minute or four and have now been going on for 16 months. I finally told my doctor about the “episodes” along with migraines I’m now getting, as well as my reading comprehension is going down hill. Words and letters seem to be backwards sometimes and it takes a while to understand what I’m reading and writing. He gave me a referral to a neurologist to get checked out. So, at the end of January 2016, I had a MRI and they found a tumor the size of a tennis ball. After the MRI my doctor called me into his office to tell me the news. I mean, what do you say to that? My fiancé and I were shocked! My neurologist told his assistant to send over everything they had to Duke and Dr. Allan Freidman and expedite the process. I applied for a life insurance policy the second we got home from the neurologist(You’d think a 35 year old would have one by now). That day I received a call confirming an appointment at Duke University the following Tuesday. That meant I wasn’t going to able to be seen for a week (Years in brain tumor days). But when I finally got to Duke and met the surgeon, the anxiety started to go down. Dr. Freidman is a funny individual. He walked in and introduced himself, and said “Let me take a look at you. Open your mouth, how many fingers am I holding up, spell the word “world”, now spell it backwards, now tell me how many nickels in a $1.25? Well, Chris there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re perfectly fine! Except the tumor in your head. We can do one of two things. One, we can monitor the tumor and see what happens but with the looks of this tumor it’s going to grow 5mm or more per year, causing more damage and the symptoms will get worse and eventually kill you over time. Or two, I can take it out by performing a craniotomy. Mind you, I can’t tell you that your symptoms will get better. They may get worse. There’s also a chance that you may develop more problems after surgery but I can tell you this, that if I take it out now you’ll live a lot longer than leaving it in. So, when do you want me to take it out?” I kind of chuckled and asked, “What was the point of telling me option one?” He just stared at me and I looked at my fiancé and we said as soon as possible. He said, “Great! I’ll put something on the books! Do you have any questions?” I asked, “What happens during a craniotomy, how long does it take, how long will I be in the hospital, is it safe and what’s the recovery time?” Dr. Freidman proceeded to tell us recovery is anywhere from 8-12 weeks, be in the hospital for 2-7 days, and surgery will be 3-9 hours. Everyone’s situation is different. He gave a synopses of the surgery, said we’ll wake you up in the middle to make sure that your basic motor skills are working and then put you back together. “Hold on! Back the truck up!! WAKE ME UP?! WITH MY BRAIN EXPOSED?! Like Ray Liotta in Hannibal?!” SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! He said, “Yes, we need make sure your motor functions are still working. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine and your brain doesn’t have any feeling. Anything else?” So I ask, “So… Can I take a selfie when I’m awake… With my head opened up?!” The left arm of my fiancé came across my chest REAL quick! I looked at her and looked at him, and he said, “No.” Very sternly. He was not amused. Someone came in after the doctor left, gave us a folder about as thick as the bible and explained what to do and not do before and after surgery. So here it is 2 days away from surgery. I’ve kept busy by doing research on brain tumors/cancer, getting the house ready for when I come home(I’m nesting like I’m about to give birth), making Plan A and Plan B. I’ve kissed and made up with some friends and family. And after 13 years and 2 crazy/beautiful children, me and the woman got hitched! No regrets, and don’t sweat the small stuff are now our mottos. I’m scared for my wife and kids. Scared for my mom, dad and brother. Hell, I’m selfishly scared for myself. I’ve thought about making videos for my children in case I don’t wake up from surgery or if I lose the ability to ever speak again. My daughter changed my life 12 years ago went she entered this world and she’ll always be my baby and I want her to know that. I want my 7 year old son to know he’ll always be the baby. He’s my buddy. My sidekick. He’s the balance I needed in this house of crazy and estrogen. I want to tell them both to always be respectful, respect yourselves, respect others and their beliefs, use your manners, be kind and put others first, but put time away for yourselves. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be thankful, take care of, and enjoy everything you have in your life. Don’t worry about what people think of you. Be who you are. Unless you’re an asshole. Don’t be an asshole. Common sense. USE IT!!! I’ve prayed for everyone to be at peace with what ever happens (That’s right.. I prayed. Don’t judge me). I’ve told my family and a few friends what’s going on. They’re very supportive. There are friends that I haven’t told yet, but I think I should. I’m ready to get the surgery over with. We’ve hoped for best and planned for the worst. That’s the best we can do right now. I’m out of words and thoughts to keep going right now. I’ll blame it on the tumor. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Laughing about it makes it a little bit easier. Thank you for lending me your ear. Hopefully, I’ll talk to you on the other side. 
Sincerely and respectfully,
Chris
This. Just this. You all know how I feel about this man. You all know that he’s my end all and be all, but this left me speechless. He’s “selfishly scared” for himself?
The moment I thought I couldn’t love him anymore, I do. Exponentially more. When his door closes on this disease, most of my heart will close with it.
So, now you know. This is what a man thinks about two days before an awake crainectomy. A selfless man with a heart so full of love.
But, not just any man. My man. My love. My heart. My soul. And the man that used to be (and always will be in my soul) my forever and a day.