Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Fall's Gonna Kill You

Many of my readers know that I am enamored with The West Wing, and all that it teaches its viewers.  In the episode "The Fall's Gonna Kill You," the staff is dealing with the newfound knowledge of the President's multiple sclerosis diagnosis and all of the repercussions involved in such.



When pondering how to present today's blog post, this episode, especially its title, kept coming to mind.  Allow me to explain.

As most of you know, I bought a college consulting firm almost two years ago, and I've served as the CEO as well as a counselor since this buy out.  

I absolutely love what I do.  I love the potential of my students.  I love their honest enthusiasm, and I love making lasting connections with families as they walk through this critical time in their lives.  This is what I made to do.

And yet, in doing all of the work that I love, in addition to parenting (oh yeah, those five critters), I lost sight of myself.  I worked too much, I slept too little, and I forgot (or chose not to) ask for enough help. 

I began to feel exhausted--all the time, which I chalked up to "busy season" as college application deadlines approached.  Finally, when trying to put my children to bed, I realized I could not climb the stairs without totally losing my breath.  This seemed abnormal.

Yet, still, I attributed it to being tired and stressed. I told myself to push through.  

Finally, as my team had successfully seen most of our students through a majority of their admission deadlines, I deemed it an appropriate time to see a doctor.  After a chest x-ray, I was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs, but my doctor still felt as if something wasn't right.

She asked me to do a D-Dimer test, which tests blood clotting.  Needless to say, I failed the test, and I ended up in the ER when my chest pain began to shoot through my chest, over my shoulder, and down my back.

Some very good friends counseled me to actually go to the ER (because I thought, maybe I'm just being dramatic.  This can wait.) They very kindly, but assuredly, told me I was not fine and this demanded immediate attention.  I am so thankful for these friends who truly may have saved my life by demanding I seek medical care immediately. 

As we sat in the ER, people next to me vomited, moaned, and complained about the long waits.  I realized what sacrifices health care providers are making every day (and every long night) to help as many people as possible, including me.

After much testing and lots of blood draws (ouch), I was told that I had two blood clots in my lungs.  Whoa.  Doctors immediately admitted me and started tests to determine the damage to my heart.

Luckily, no damage was done to my heart--hallelujah!  But I needed to start blood thinners immediately.  As I did, doctors told that me we may never know the true cause of this, but it may be because of the hormones left over from my quintuplet pregnancy (what a parting gift), or that I was too sedentary (hello laptop time) or perhaps I just ignored the warning signs too long (stupid, stupid, stupid).

In short, some of this was caused by nature, but as I've wrestled with my diagnosis and near death experience, I realize that some of this was self inflicted.

My sense of work-life balance means working on my laptop while watching a tv show.  Yeesh, right?

Funny, but not funny.  What a wake up call for me. 

This moment has been a wake up call for me to really dig deep and think about how I can better organize my life to take time for each important aspect separately (and not let it bleed--pardon the reference--into each other).   I've already come up with some great ideas and I'm looking forward to implementing them when I go back to work on Monday.

All of this to say, to working parents, please know your limits.  Don't ignore your health and please keep your body active.  That's really where stress relief and health come together.  

I want to thank my friends who have come together to support my family during this challenging time.  My staff, my workout gals, even my accountant has stepped up and brought meals and hugs for the woman who forgot her limits.  

I'm not superwoman and rest is not one of those four-letter words.  I'm especially thankful this November for friends, for health, and for a new mindset of taking care of myself as I lookout for my family, friends, and clients.


Updated photos of my (not so) babies anymore:













Saturday, September 25, 2021

Prayers in the Night

Good Morning,

Most of you know I do most of my writing in the early mornings, and well, here I am yet again.  I find it hard to sleep when there are things on my mind. 

Our kids have RSV this week and it's been so terrible watching them endure the discomfort of this virus.  The worst is how my little ones' eyes puff and darken when they're so tired and sick, they can't go much further.  It breaks my heart (and my sleep cycle).  Luckily, we've had some great help and the kids are on the mend.  

Still, it's so hard to work full time when your kiddos are this sick.  I imagine working mamas feel me on that one.  You just want to hold your kiddos close as they cough and struggle to find comfort.  But your clients also want clarity and comfort, for its their priorities that mean so much to them.  It's a constant fight--one that I'm still learning how not to lose.  

I'm reading a book called Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren.  I highly recommend it.  She talks about learning to pray in the midst of our troubles, even when we can't seem to find the right words.  

This prayer she offers, often attributed to St. Augustine, resonated with me:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.  Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love's sake.  Amen.  


Wow, right?  I think about the NICU nurses who served my babies selflessly night after night in that hospital in Arizona. God bless them.  

I also love the idea of angels guarding those who sleep.  I remember in times of true sadness (miscarriage, the death of my father), sleep would seem like a desperate approach to end another day of mourning.  I am comforted by the idea that God sends his angels to guard that sleep so that those who mourn (or those who are just very, very tired) can wake in the morning with fresh eyes.

I think about the sick people I love and those who have died before me.  I am comforted to know that God blessed them during those moments and welcomed them to Heaven with open arms and resounding songs of praise.

I think of the suffering.  Mental health has been on my mind alot lately, and I pray especially for those suffering from mental health challenges.  These are the challenges we cannot see, and for some, they can be more painful than a physical wound.  I pray that God gives us patience for all people suffering.

Finally, I love the idea of shielding the joyous.  What an amazing thing.  To a woman who has suffered two miscarriages, joy is not something I take lightly.  When you have a miscarriage, joy is ripped away from you, like a purse being snatched.  It's violent, ugly, and leaves you physically poor.   Feeling joy after a miscarriage is one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I remember I didn't even really go shopping for my children until they were nearly born.  I couldn't bear the pain of having to put items away if I lost them. 

Still, I hold onto the idea that God shields the joyous because he knows how fragile true joy really is.  What a humbling, satisfying thought.

What a work in progress we are.  My family, in particular.  We have good days and bad days.  Funny days and weird days.  Easy days and really really hard days.  I asked Michael last night if he ever wondered why God gave us quintuplets and he thought for a minute and said:

"No."

No?!  Really?  You've never questioned?  

Even after wiping five hineys in a row?  After cleaning up all the pizza crumbs under the table?  After cleaning up red stamp pad mess all over the furniture?  After finding Barbie shoes in your pillowcase?

You've never questioned?

"No."

Michael said he figured God knew what he was doing and he just took the blessings we were given--and he was grateful.

Grateful, indeed.  Some updated photos for you:



Izzy

Luke

Luke and Millie

Queen Izzy

First Day of Junior Kindegarten!

Photo credit to Isabelle

Millie

Millie at Miss Sara's wedding


Ava and Clara when I asked for a smile





 



Saturday, July 31, 2021

Begin Again

Good Morning, My Friends,

I hope you're safe and well.  It's been such a busy summer.  We moved to a new house in June, my work was very busy in June and July, and here we are about to celebrate a family wedding in August.  Whew, summer.  

I've had a message on my heart this week--and it's this--it's ok to begin again.  

Many of you know I've struggled with body image since the quintuplets were born.  After gaining 100 pounds and carrying 5 babies 32 weeks, my body has just never been the same.   

I've tried walking, yoga, macro counting, and then there's always emotional eating that comes into play.  I just can't seem to get to a place where I'm happy with my body.  I honestly can't remember the last time I felt beautiful.  That sounds a lot sadder that it seems in my head, but it's true.  

But, today's message really isn't meant to be about me.  I've started going back to yoga to help find some inner stamina in the whirlwind of today's life, and my favorite teacher told us that we shouldn't be afraid to begin again.  Reset.  Refocus.  Begin again.

And I thought--that's me.  I'm restarting yoga.  I'm resetting my focus.  I'm restarting my healthy eating (again) in hopes of finding peace with my body image.  Maybe I should share this message with others--it's ok to begin again.  We should see it as a reset. Refocus.

As I was talking to my mom the other day, I realized she too has had to begin again.  After my father died, her life dramatically changed.  But, God gave her a verse the other night in Psalm 68 that "He defends the widows."  What a beautiful sentiment.  As she moves into a new home, God will defend her as she begins her new life without my daddy.  I'm so thankful for that.

So if you're in a place in your world, where you need a fresh start, even if it's just in a daily habit, don't be afraid to begin again.  There's freedom and beauty there.  We begin again to welcome change and hope for a better tomorrow.  

Some updated photos:








 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

What's On the Other Side of Fear?

 Good Morning!


I'm sorry I haven't written in quite some time, the spring was a busy busy time.  We bought a new house in one of the wildest markets I've ever experienced and sold our old beloved house.  Selling a house is so emotional, isn't it?  So many memories under one roof.  Both Michael and I had to personally say "goodbye" to that house--that's the house that comforted me during miscarriages, the place where I worked in the yard to find solace during infertility as I sang "Closer to Fine," the place where my mother and I belly-laughed as we decorated for Christmas, and the place where my friends gathered for my 30th birthday (yikes that was time ago).

Now, in 10 days, we move from our rental to a new house.  :Deeeeeeep breath: Can you imagine the STUFF that five kids and an au pair and two adults require?  It's alot.  And it's not easy to pack with five little bodies running around all. the. time. 

So, what do you do?  Send them to grandma's house and call in recruits!  Michael's mom has gracefully (and bravely) said she'd take the kids to her house while we move and my mom will come help us with the actual move.  Moms are amazing, aren't they?  They ALWAYS show up when needed.  


Grandma-Michael's mom

KK-my mom


But this week, I had a message for you guys that I wanted to share.  And it's about fear.  I've experienced quite a bit of fear lately.  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of exhaustion, fear of financial instability--I could go on.

What I've discovered is that fear is meant to be an obstacle.  It's meant to hold us back and make us perform at less that our peak performance.  What I have learned this week is that pushing through that fear is what brings freedom.  Facing that fear, naming that fear, and doing whatever it is anyway--THAT is what frees you from the fear itself.  Several of my friends and family are dealing with cancer, death, loneliness, financial instability and many other scary, adult problems.  Some of these fears are so big that they seem hard to fathom.  My encouragement would be what my daddy and his mother would say, "Just wade through it."  Many of us are in a "wade through it" moments in our lives, but I know that much of that is characterized by fear.

Allow me to encourage you to name your fears--know what they are and instead of running from them, face them and try to step into them and know that freedom is just on the other side.  I believe bravery comes from God, just as the fruits of the spirit do.  We don't muster bravery on our own.  Heavens knows I don't.  I'm far from brave on my own.  God gave me a this spirit of bravery to share this with you today.  I hope you found it helpful.  Here are some updated pictures.  I can't believe how big our kiddos are getting!



Ava and Clara

Izzy and Clara

Izzy

Izzy and Millie

Izzy


Luke




Ava




Saturday, February 13, 2021

Mommy....Mommy....Mommy

Mommy, can I have a cup of orange juice?

Mommy, can you print a picture of Princess Jasmine for me?

Mommy, can you wipe me?

Mommy, I don't wannnnnt to eat my spinach.

Mommy, can you take off my shoe?

Mommy, can I have some ice?

Mommy, I spilled my raisins.

Mommy, will you sit by me?  No, me! No, me! No, me!

Mommy, will you carry me upstairs?

Mommy, will you sing one more song?

Mommy, what day is today?

Mommy, what day is tomorrow?

Mommy, I saw a green car for you.

Mommy, I pooped!

Mommy, can I take gymnastics?

Mommy, can I sleep in your bed?

Mommy....Mommy...Mommy...Mommy...Mommy...Mommy...Mommy..Mommy...Mommy...Mommy..


Do you hear me now?  I think all moms understand this feeling, right?  It NEVER ends sometimes.  Yes, you may be smiling, maybe even laughing, but it is quite overwhelming to hear this day in and day out.  And it's a push/pull sensation for me.  

Part of it is I have desperately wanted to be a mother for years.  I have wanted to sing one more song, kiss someone (or people) goodnight, and snuggle those sweet baby heads.  I've felt the echoes of an empty womb and how deeply sad it feels to long for a child you cannot have.  If you are a woman going through fertility struggles, please know my heart is with you. 

But now here I am.  I do indeed still work full time, so after doing the job that I love for 8-12 (yes, sometimes 12) hours a day, I enter Mommy-land.  And sometimes, I'm overwhelmed by how much I'm needed.  Anyone else feel that way?

Sometimes I still feel as if I'm my Mama's child and I'm the one who needs to be mothered, and now I have these five little ducklings that need all of me (and sometimes what feels like more) to tell them what day it is, wipe them, explain thunder, and everything in between.  

But I've realized this is truly where grace comes in.  God gives us grace.  Grace to be less so He can be more.  I've realized I can only be me to my children and the rest will indeed be provided for them.  I have an amazing husband who is Super-Dad, who can handle all five kiddos on his own and not flinch.  We have an incredible au pair who brings such joy and kindness to this world, she doesn't even realize it.  And God blesses our children with a supportive extended family who visits and loves on them every chance they get.

So, I'm not enough.  There, I said it.  But, GRACE is enough and His grace is sufficient.  So the next time my chest starts to hurt and one. more. person. asks me to wipe them, I'm going to remember this and hopefully I'll be a little less overwhelmed.

Happy Saturday!












Saturday, November 7, 2020

Reflection


I'm sorry I haven't written in a while.  Grief is exhausting.  Life has been exhausting.  Owning my own business has been an exciting ride, but I miss my dad as an advisor.  He was such a tremendous strategist and coach.  He gave me such a sense of calm when the waters were rough and such a sense of tenacity when work needed to be done.  I miss that--terribly.  Every day.


My daddy has been gone now for almost four months now--and life goes on, doesn't it?   Children get older (Ava stuck a bead in her nose); pants get tighter (I'm afraid I'm eating my feelings); and the days get shorter (oh my GOSH is it spring yet?!).  

This and I'm in my busiest season at work, which is both exciting and overwhelming for my clients.  I love being a source of support and wisdom for my clients, but as you can imagine, it's time-consuming.  I usually work 10-14 hour days during this season.  I see my kids less, my computer screen more, and my fingernails get shorter and shorter with each passing day.

As we come out of this season, a very dear friend loans me her river house for the weekend where I can come and decompress from a tough season.  I'm there now.

Here today in this beautiful location, I had a thought, and I wanted to share this with you.  

I went kayaking today---being on the water was one of Daddy's favorite things. I saw the brilliant orange and golden leaves shining in their glory on the Virginia trees.  I love this time of year--the soft afternoon glow of Virginia fall afternoons is one of the main reasons I love living here.  

But as I looked down on the water, I noticed the reflection of the leaves on the water.  I realized that the reflection of the tree on water masked all of the imperfections of the tree itself.  The reflection was even more beautiful than the tree.

I almost felt like Daddy was saying to me, "I taught you everything I could.  Now go shine, Boo Boo.  Go shine.  Don't make my mistakes--do even more than I could.  Be the beauty in the reflection of me."


Then, as always, I think about my own kiddos.  I hope I can teach them enough so that they can reflect even more beauty and hope into this world.  I hope they can be more faithful to God, more hopeful, more determined, and even more focused.  I pray God blesses me as I try to help each child grow every day.  

Parenting brings out the best and the worst in us, right? I think we hold fast to the idea that God made parenting in a way that our children can be a reflection of us and Him, in that they shine so beautifully, they cover our imperfections and share their light with this world.  


Clara

Izzy

Millie



Luke


Ava