Category Archives: stress

Take the Vacation and Take the Pictures

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I am writing this from a front porch over looking the ocean. A home we visited 6 years ago, but never knew we would come back. We thought this year we would be in Mexico again, but Corona had different plans. We thought there would be no vacation, but thankfully we made the choice to come!

When given the choice…choose the vacation.

We had a season in our life where a vacation was a splurge and not in our budget. We almost divorced. For real. We beat ourselves down with work, life and our list of do-nots that we got to a point of “Why try?” So now we see the value of take time to make memories, enjoy life and appreciate each other…so much easier when you are out of the house and away from the things that keep you working.

I know we are blessed to be able to do this…trust me, we worshipped our provider of rich blessings with our online campus @ClifeChurch (go to clife.com if interested in plugging in with God online…such good people!)

But, make it happen if you are able. It will not all be perfect especially when kids are involved…but it will be worth it to hear the laughs, see the smiles, feel the hugs because you are relaxing and leaving the work behind.

God’s creation is best seen up close! These moments of calm give me time to see God’s vision, affirm His calling and read His Word in a new setting. Best tip I can give is take all the pictures…be in them even if you feel fat…you will want to remember this…forever.

Lupus and the Corona Virus

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So I am one the many the media keep talking about with a compromised immune system. Do I look unhealthy or sick? Probably not. Can you tell that I have Lupus? Definitely not because you cannot tell from the outside. But I can tell. I know my Lupus by the fevers I get on a daily basis. I can tell by the aching joints, the rashes, the fatigue and twice daily necessary steroids to stay somewhat normal so I can make it through the day. I know by the year round anemia and decreased white blood cells. Truth is I may never know if I have the Corona Virus because I live with those symptoms daily. My life is all the symptoms especially in a flare. My blood work always comes back low and abnormal. Not a pretty picture, but my reality.

However, and I am probably in the minority here, my health is my biggest concern not yours or the public. I mean the public has a part by not knowingly going out with contagious diseases, but not going out right now where anyone can have been exposed and not know is all me. In the midst of all this I need to quarantine myself and not be out exposed. The truth is you do not know what to look for, but I do. So since my disease is one of those that is mysterious and easily covered up then it is up to me to stay safe. Reality is you would have no idea my immune system is compromised unless I told you. So I pray for all the people like myself that others eyes are opened. I pray my symptoms and yours stay mild. I pray all your organs stay active and well and that the good Lord brings a miracle quickly for not just this disease but sickness and disease everywhere including the heart disease of not knowing Jesus!

5 Things I Learned from Lupus

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I feel like I am a success story with Lupus. One big reason is that the good Lord gave me mild symptoms and for that I am grateful, but another big reason is I have learned to live with it and know my place with this autoimmune disease. So here are the top five things I have learned after being in tune with my autoimmune:

1. What you eat matters!

This took me a while to accept but it is true. Certain foods (mostly processed) will send me into achy overdrive. It does not mean that I cannot or do not eat those delicious cheese fries, Cheetos or fried anything…but it does mean I know I will pay the price and honestly it is not always worth it.

2.Have less fear if the liquid is clear.

I had read somewhere that the darker the liquid, the more things added to it. No clue if it is true, but I have found the clear liquids do not send my body fighting as much as the dark. Coke, beer, sweet tea (why, God, why?) get me achy and fatigued, but if I stay with Vodka, Sprite or of course water then I can usually keep the party going.

3. Say yes to the mattress!

Who would say no to a good nap?? I immediately get sick when I live a lifestyle of less than 8 hours of sleep. Now life is busy so this is not always possible, but our bodies are made to need rest and we need to choose to listen.

4.Say NO to stress!!

As a teacher, stress is inevitable. A quote I read says “Teachers make more minute by minute decisions than a surgeon.” I believe this…so stress will happen, but I can choose to avoid stress whenever possible and I do. One way is I stopped watching reality shows or any show that is fighting just to fight…trust me this was hard…but Real Housewives or Mobwives just had to go. FB drama had to go too…I refuse to click on the video with the fight or add comments to the political posts going nowhere. In my marriage, when things get heated…I go to the word and prayer instead. Life in general is lived more peacefully when you know God is in control and has a purpose for you. Now, I am not quite at the place where yoga is more calming than painful, but I am sure I will get there.

5. FINALLY..Exercise helps.

This is tricky because overdoing it wears me out. Also, when I have already worked all day the last thing I have energy to do is go to the gym, but it helps. I will admit that. Probably helps with the stress and mind part of things, too. But I used to refuse to work out and now I make time for it. In the beginning, it is exhausting, but as you build stamina it gets better. 

Now I am sure you are all reading and thinking duh! Even people without Lupus know eat right, get exercise, and rest will help the body…but here is the question: do you do it? Likely, a little but not all the way. I have learned I have to do it or I have no energy, run a fever and experience joint pain. No fun, right? So everything is a choice but my choice is made loud and clear with my body. I have learned to (finally) listen to my Lupus for a happier life!

Adventures with Absence Epilepsy

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We noticed when he was around 3 that he would have these moments of going blank. At first, it was so quick that you would have to be staring at him to see it. Over time, it became more often and more noticeable that it was pretty obvious. At his worst, they would occur 20 times an hour and his eyes would roll back in his head. After much testing, we were finally able to get him diagnosed and on medicines.

Now, he has been on medication for over a year and we notice some academic delays. These are delays that could have always been there or delays caused by the seizures, either way we want to be able to make the best decisions for his schooling.  As part of the process, we were instructed to get another EEG and thankfully we could do it over the summer. He did a great job! This test is stressful for this mama as they flash lights in his face, make him sit still for 30 minutes and strap him up to a machine. We are hopeful the results will give us more answers that the medicine is working. His testing was done at a hospital just for children which feels more like a playground! One of his favorite things is the trains…they are amazing and such a blessing to a nervous mom.

He is smiling so big because we timed that shot perfectly so he was in a pic with a train. God has been so good to us during this process to get him the treatment he needs. We are hopeful that he grows out of the seizures in a few years and continues his path to greatness.

Present vs. Perfect

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Parenting is hard. Let’s face it there is no manual yet we all do the best we can. I found this in our backyard and it made me stop and think about how I can improve as a parent. My husband and I parent differently…not sure if it is a gender thing, but we do make different decisions at different times. Baths are optional for me, food can be eaten anywhere, matching is important…I cringe before teeth brushing time; the tough things in parenting scare me. I tend to avoid the meltdowns while my husband walks right into them boldly. 

But one thing he has mastered is being present. He plays, he colors, he draws, he throws, he catches, he mows only when kid can ride with him. He seizes the opportunities to have togetherness. I tend to work, clean or be busy instead. I am a work in progress and I know it is an area that I need to improve, but I tend to take the lazy way out. It could be my number 9 nature where I like things easy and this is where parenting is hard; doing the things that tire you out as I do not have the energy of a 5 year old. But thankfully my husband is there to step in where I fail as I continually change to be better. I want my son to remember those times of playing just he and I and way more than I want him to remember the house was clean or I finished my last book. So I proclaim that this will be the area I focus on this next school year to follow the motto “Wherever you are-be all there!” I will focus on doing what needs to be done to be present even if it means the things around me are less than perfect. This motto will be part of my classroom as well as I miss great conversations trying to get all my work completed.

Thankful for the fathers out there on this weekend made for you.  Thankful for you for all that you do that makes your kids smile. Thankful you carry the load with us mamas!

Lupus Limits…But Does Not Stop

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I must admit I am one of the fortunate ones living with Lupus. My symptoms are mild, the meds I take are working, I was diagnosed quickly, my vital organs are unaffected; seriously, I am fortunate. My Lupus mostly involves my nervous system, my endocrine system and reproductive system. All those systems or words I would have never known before my diagnosis so basically my nerves, blood and ability to have babies. When I flare and I do weekly, I get fatigued due to chronic anemia, my joints ache like a 90 year old man, and my fingers turn white or purple. Right now my flare includes Pleurisy which means the lining of my lungs are inflamed…the sun is my enemy. Through it all I am grateful because my God has used it for good. This disease brought me a child through adoption that I would not have ever met, the sick days help me to appreciate the healthy days and my experience has helped me to encourage others going through similar things. To be in my low thirties with a chronic illness triggered by such common things as the sun and stress is intense, but I am alive and choosing to stay alive (there are some flares so bad I have felt like death) and choosing to live my life rather than let it live me.

Insert soccer.

When I was being diagnosed I told my doctor I played soccer. His response: not anymore. He went on to tell me that my blood levels showed low iron and chronic anemia so any major physical activity was dangerous. I took a few games off, but continued to play. The fatigue was intense after sunny games but we always had subs so it worked. However in the fall of 2016 I was in a major flare and for the first time in 15 seasons I had to say I could not play. It was defeating as I knew I was really sick to skip soccer. 

That was 2 years ago. I probably felt good enough to play again, but new players join and your team changes.  So I was not asked the next season and then I think the team took a season off so when I got the text to play I considered it. My biggest concern was that my lungs are inflamed right now which feels like a heart attack while resting and like an asthma attack when running-not too smart to say yes, but it will go away.  I also knew it would be hard after not playing two years so I had to speak to my hubs since he would be watching the kid and me if I get sick, but when he cheered me on I went for it.

Last night was the first game and it felt good. I was nervous all day, resting my body, drinking water, taking medicine…but it all felt good.  My biggest fear was my inflamed lungs and they were tight after long sprints, but two subs on the side could be called in at any time.  We won and I got some good touches, but most importantly I played. I was fearful two years ago that I never would again. So unsure if it was a good idea that I kept it a secret so no one could talk me out of it. But I feel okay the day after and since the games are at night, I think swimming will kill me before soccer 🤪 

Lupus does limit me, but it will not stop me. Soccer is what I do for myself. On the field I feel my sexiest and my mind is cleared.  I feel badass to be 38 and still playing. The best part is I challenge my mind and body and grow closer to the Lord as I praise him for the chance to show good sportsmanship and meet others with the same passion. Today I am grateful to be a soccer player living with Lupus again. My call of action to those without chronic diseases is to go out use your body. It is a beautiful thing of science and should not be wasted. Do not waste your health!

Urban to Rural…year one done!

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Last year, I made a big career move by switching from Mesquite ISD to Crandall ISD. Big move meaning less pay, less resources, went from 34 elementary schools in the district to 4, went from a support role with less stress to the classroom which meant more preparation…a lot of change! Now that the year is over I can say it was the right move, but I still miss Mesquite greatly; it was my home and still where I feel the most me.

But looking back here is a list of some of the biggest changes:

1. Resources- no printer in my room, a rough curriculum that was new, no chart paper readily available, one person was the go to for all the curriculum needs vs having department heads. All of this obviously due to size…this district is growing, but some of these perks are not needed yet.

2. Freedom- freedom to make your plans as you see fit, to try new ideas, to leave on time, to focus on teaching and not testing. Returning to the classroom could have only been done if I could reduce the stress and this district was the answer.

3. Respect-at my campus families still respect the profession. Behavior was awesome because parents would punish if not. Parent phone calls made a difference; the student behavior was to blame and not the teacher. The community valued the profession…lots of respect for this passion I pursue.

4. Pride- Mesquite has pride, but with so many schools that pride is spread out. So many great schools leads for lots of ways to shine which Mesquite often will, but this small town vibe sends all their students to one high school which leads to one big ball of CHS pride. I will love this in the future when I want to see former students and know where to find them.

5. Purpose- there is purpose at both but in Mesquite I knew mine daily. There you are more than a teacher..you are life. More is expected of you emotionally and spiritually. Your coworkers are your soldiers fighting the urban education battle of poverty with you. I was emotionally fatigued daily but I was needed, changing lives and doing the impossible daily. 

6. Connection..this will be the last reflection, but the smaller district gets you connected quicker.  We meet as a whole district to cheer each other on, parades and pep rallies are attended by the town, Friday night lights is a thing, the admin knows you by name and make sure to address your concerns…the lack of Title One money means there is not as much stuff, but the relationship of knowing who you are is powerful.

The purpose one often has me question if I will return to Mesquite or at least a campus in this district that is more needy..maybe even middle school someday, but for now I am trying to remember I did my 14 years in the trenches and it is now time to see a different side. Still tough, still needed, still so much work but with some benefits so I do not get burnt out. 

I am especially excited because my son comes to school with me next year!

Hard to believe this baby is now five!

If you are thinking about switching districts, my advice is think about the location, money and then your health. Decide what you can balance.  I am fortunate we could take the pay cut. The new location limits us since my family and our activities are in Mesquite plus Crandall is limited on food and shopping. We drive a lot, but at least not in the morning like I used to do for two years commuting to work. Being in the classroom is long hours, but adding driving time means you are away from home even more.  For me, it came down to health. Even when I was crying because I missed my support system and school where I was known and loved…I knew I was healthier because I was less stressed and had help when I needed it. Lupus is a disease triggered by stress and I need the less stress possible. Being in the classroom filled my passion, but it also brought back work only a classroom teacher could know. 

Health won.

I encourage you to pray to God about where he can use you and then obey. When it is all happening then you will have peace if you are in his will. Even during the tough times then you will know God led you here and He is with you.