Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Catching up... a lot.

October 27th, 2015 was the last time I published a blog post here. It was about the power of yet. 

Don't remember it? OK, fine. Go read it.

I'll wait.

Now that you are caught up, I have a little story for you.

That post you just read was about someone special... a man I had been spending time with every Thursday for over a year. We walked, talked, cooked, laughed... we had a real connection.

I lived Thursday to Thursday. 

The day I wrote that last blog post, we had gone to see a movie for our Thursday adventure. While he walked me to my car, I thought maybe that was the right time to tell him that I had feelings for him.  Usually upon thinking that, I'd get a rush of nerves wash over me, but I didn't. 

So, I went for it.

I didn't die, and he didn't judge me.

All he said was, "I'm not there yet."


That "yet" powered me for a few months, gave me hope that there could be something more, and that he had actually given it some thought already.

With each passing week, during the return trip home from our Thursday hangouts, I asked God what more I should do. Each time I got a feeling that I should just keep waiting and be patient.  On January 7th, 2016, I asked one more time.  I was like, "Alright, I can't keep waiting. I need to move forward or move on. This isn't fair to me, and it isn't fair to him."  I swear, I almost heard the words aloud right there in my car: "Just a little longer."

The next week, on January 14th, my good ol' hangout buddy asked me to meet him at the bookstore before we went to a movie. It was a random request, but nothing too crazy.  I agreed, and that was that.


We were perusing the aisles of books, talking about our favorite authors, and he stopped to tell me about a grand adventure he wanted to go on.  He wanted to take a cruise down a river in Germany to tour multiple castles and historic sites.  He started talking about different people he brainstormed to bring with him on this adventure, and I sort of checked out in my head wondering why on earth he was telling me all this.

Then it happened.

He said none of his ideas were good, and of all the people in his life, he kept coming back to me.  He wanted to go on that adventure with me, and that's why this was officially a DATE.

That first date was one of the happiest turning points of my life thus far.  We've enjoyed the last few years together, had our ups and downs, traveled a little, laughed a lot, and grown a ton. 

This wonderful man's name is Richard Ward.  I was friends with his mother, Becky Krizan, a few years ago through church.  She introduced us and was bent to get us to fall in love from day one.  For a while, I thought she was nuts, especially for being so convinced I'd be perfect for her son even though she didn't really know me yet.  Over time, I grew to love her like a second mother.

Then one day, Heavenly Father decided He wanted her back with no warning; that was a little over 4 years ago.  At this point, Richard and I were really just familiar acquaintances (it seems oxymoron-ish, but I'm making this a valid description, thank you).  The day of Becky's passing, Richard found me on Facebook and reached out to see if I was OK.  Remembering that impresses me immensely, even just now as I write it.  We became friends on Facebook that day, then I pretty much planned his mother's funeral service.  It was a true labor of love, especially when I had the unique opportunity to help dress her body for the family viewing.  I will never forget that experience...

This is how our weekly hangouts began; we both needed a break during a time of mourning, went on a walk on a Thursday afternoon, and decided we should do it again.  Walks turned to walks and movies, which turned into walks, movies, and a "Yeah, I could eat."  For a year and five months, we were strictly Thursday people with maybe two exceptions total.  It was our thing, and it's still our thing.  Date night is on Thursday every week; we swapped it for a Friday once and it felt like the world came crashing in, so it was decided we'd never do that again.

The greatest part is that date night can be on Thursdays forever now, because on May 17th, 2018, Richard asked me to marry him! We met up for date night after work, he handed me a dandelion, then a model train caboose (my favorite train car).  It was heavier than a typical model (hashtag train nerds) and I looked at him wondering what was going on.  He said, "Open it."  I replied, "But models don't open."  He answered, "This one does, just open it."

The roof came off, and there was an old opal ring of his mother's.

I cried.

Richard had been waiting to propose until the first sign of spring, a flower, had emerged in his sights.  The dandelions on that morning were in full bloom in his backyard, so I should probably thank them next year. Ha ha!

He explained that the ring was special because it was one he knew his mother had loved, but it was a placeholder so I could pick an engagement ring out that I wanted.  I asked him why he didn't just pick out a ring and give it a go.  His response was this, and I quote, "I knew better than to do that."  A few days later I picked out a ring that is beautiful, low-profile (I can wear it with gloves with no issues), unique, and totally me (black diamonds, come one, you know that's me).

Now that I have all the little details out (so many people have asked), I just want to take a moment to say how grateful I am for Richard in my life, and how excited I am to be marrying him in less than a year (May 2019).  He understands me, watches out for me, knows all my quirks and secrets, and is my very best friend.  It's amazing how life takes twists and turns unexpectedly, and sometimes later than we had planned on.  Neither of us are all that young anymore (I'll be 34 and he'll be 39 at the end of this month).  We're hoping we can have kids, but are bracing ourselves for challenges in that department based on age, known health issues, family history, etc.  We'll take each day as it comes, which I have grown more and more fond of doing as the years have passed by.  There's a nice charm in just going with the flow of things and dealing with challenges as they arise.

If you've made it to the end of this blog post, I thank you for spending a few minutes with me.


The Future Mrs. Ward

My modified caboose-turned-ring-box and THE first dandelion of spring (in Alaska).

Richard's mother's long and well-loved opal ring.  

This is us!!!

We're goofballs... engaged goofballs!

My engagement ring arrived! I have fluffy but small hands, and this is perfect! 
A very zoomed-in but detailed view of my ring (back diamonds, I love them) and the wedding band to go with it.  Do you know how hard it is to find a thin band? I didn't want anything thicker than my actual ring and that was a challenge!  I have small hands, we need more thin band options! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Power of Yet


You have no idea the power of this little word until it has been used in a sentence that leaves you praying that it was purposely placed to enlist hope in you, the recipient. 

This has happened to me twice in the last calender year. I am a phenomenally patient person, but this... this might make me explode.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How To Use My Rice Cooker

I think I'm having a "Throwback Thursday" moment, or whatever kids are calling it. Gosh darn it, social media has ruined our vocabulary!


A few years ago, I lent my old Japanese rice cooker to a friend for a few weeks. Since she had never used a rice cooker before, I included the following (warning: dry humor ahead) instructions for her:

Eh, this rice cooker thing is pretty easy to use.

When putting rice/water in the “bowl” part, just be sure it is out of the cooker first; the one time I didn’t do that I nearly killed the sucker.

The one button on the rice cooker has a small vocabulary and communicates 3 things.

  1. When the button is level and not lit up:
 “I’m not plugged in!”

  1. When the button is tilted and lit up:
 “I’m cooking your rice, be patient! Rice being cooked unattended is a miracle – miracles take about 30 to 40 minutes. Deal with it.”

  1. When you hear a –Click!– and find the button is level and lit up:
 “Your rice is ready, I’m keeping it warm, get your butt over here and eat!”

A rice cooker is pretty much a Crockpot with a low GAF score. [If you’re unfamiliar with mental health assessment terminology, this probably wasn’t funny to you. Eh, your loss.]

The American way of cooking white rice in a cooker:

The best ratio is 2:3 rice to water (2 cups rice to 3 cups water, 3 cups rice to 4 ½ cups water, etc.).

  1. Add measured amounts of rice and water to the bowl, rinsing it first if you desire.  Replace bowl in cooker. 
  2. Put on lid. 
  3. Push down Button. 
  4. Wait for the –Click! –
And then there’s the right… I mean Oriental way of cooking white rice in a cooker:

  1. Add enough rice to the bowl so that if were to put a finger in it the rice would come up at least to the first knuckle, rinsing it first if you desire.
  2. Lightly shake the bowl to level out the rice.
  3. Put your pointer finger straight down in the bowl, touching the rice with the tip.
  4. Add water until it reaches the first knuckle.
  5. Replace bowl in cooker.
  6. Put on lid.
  7. Push down Button.
  8. Wait for the –Click! – 
Brown rice has issues.  Sometimes it works just like white rice and other times it takes more water.  Good luck experimenting.

Random commentary for the heck of it:
I recently saw a chart confirming that Americans have the highest BMI average in the world.  It also illustrated that people of Oriental descent take the lead in covering the lowest BMI average in the world, and several close to it. 

So, why are fat Americans so friggin’ eager to ditch white rice for brown? Millions of people much healthier eat white rice ALL THE TIME.

If the argument is about fiber… meh, I don’t buy it.  If they are eating enough fruits and vegetables each day per the basic food pyramid, fiber should be a moot point.  Brown rice vs. white rice is not going to make a difference.  If they’re doing all that and still feel like they need “help” to “go”… what makes them think brown rice is synonymous with PRUNES?

They need to “go” alright… to a doctor!

Friday, April 3, 2015

THAT is the woman I see in the mirror...

I was the bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding two weeks ago. I told the photographer, also a friend of mine, that I would happily be in any photo as long as I never have to see them.

And then yesterday happened.

The photos were uploaded to Facebook. I have been off and on again close to tears since seeing them.

I see myself in the photos, and that is not the woman I see in the mirror each morning.  The photo with this post... THAT is the woman I see in the morning. She's fluffy, but she's adorable and has a bit of pizzazz in her step.

I’m pretty real with myself about my body image. I know I am overweight, I have struggled with this my entire life… and I know it takes the world’s opinion about my level of attractiveness and kicks it in the shins. However, the photos made me feel like the ugliest and most unwanted person on the face of the earth (and it wasn’t the photographer, she did a great job on the wedding photos).

The last time I saw the clock before going to sleep, it was about 2am. I woke up multiple times during the night and come 7am, I got up with no alarm because I had nightmares about the photos all night and didn’t want to return to them. I arrived to work at 8:40am.  To most, this is a fairly normal arrival time.  For me… well, it was significantly early for my I’m-not-a-morning-person 10am-6pm schedule.

My anxiety triggers are generally anything to do with motor vehicles, and large groups of people/social situations.  Apparently, so is my body image.  I try to be strong and tough about it, but it is getting more difficult to cope with. 

I work hard to eat healthy. Heck, I eat healthier than most of my thinner friends. Seriously. Not fair? Yeah, I know. Exercise is something I need to work harder to include in my life; I know this. I have heard often that with weight loss, it’s like 80% diet and 20% exercise – so you’d think I’d be able to tackle this better.

Case in point, I am going to start a new chapter of becoming well again.

I’m tired of everything, and changes need to be made.  I’m especially tired of the last few years of being treated like a guinea pig/lab rat by various medical providers. Between the aftermath and effects of being hit by that drunk driver almost 10 years ago, my weight, and multiple misdiagnoses regarding what’s going on in my brain (currently we're down to temporal lobe seizure activity, anxiety, and possible PTSD)… I’ve been medicated off and on with several variations of poison for the last 5 years.  I’ve been put on Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), Lamotrigine (Lamictal), Tegretol (Carbamazepine), and the most recent round was Celexa (citalopram) – and it destroyed me.  I gotta tell you, the Lamotrigine and Celexa were the worst. Oh. My. Heck.

My next neurology appointment is in June, with an MRI scheduled during May.  I’m going to call my neurologist next week and tell him I don’t want to be put on any other medication until I see him again. Until then, I will be doing a cleanse and exploring some natural/homeopathic options for the anxiety, which will include working to get my weight down. I can’t control what happens on the roads, or how I react to social situations, but my weight… that’s something I can (with great effort) control. Right? Right???

Wish me luck, send over some prayers, and everything will be OK.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Healer's Art - A Burden Made Light

On September 25th, 2005 a man in Maryland got in his car after drinking and changed my life forever.

My last memory before waking up with my car crushed like a soda-pop can ready for recycling was of a sign I passed a mile before I was hit. I still remember nothing other than the sound of screetching tires; a sound that is the background music for my nightmares. Investigators deduced from tire marks on the road and my impecable driving record, that my little 1993 4-door Suzuki Swift was stopped at a red light and the man hit me going 65-75 miles per hour with no attempt to slow down; the screetching tires I heard were MY tires.

My right leg is deformed from an unusually large femoral artery hematoma that did not reabsorb as predicted, which turned into a mass of scar tissue nobody really wants to operate on.

I know what it feels like to hit something with such forward force that one's sternum breaks, and the agony of waiting an entire year for the ability to finally breathe, laugh, cough, and sneeze without literally wanting to die.

This is why airbags were invented. Sadly my car didn't have them.

The force of my body bouncing back off the steering wheel broke my seat. I woke up laying down.

The sternum break alone partially disabled me from the waist up for multiple months. I had to buy paper plates and other disposable dishes and utensils because I physically couldn't lift a dish, wash it, and put it in the dish drainer. I can't even describe the torture of basic hygiene tasks; I once sat in my old clawfoot tub for well over an hour bawling because I couldn't figure out how to get up without using my arms.

I bawled through plenty of other embarassing tasks as well.

My stubbornly independent self was compelled to be humble because I was dependent on the kindness of others for many things. Lee, a homeless man in the neighborhood, helped me with my laundry each week at the Laundromat in exchange for pocket change and the opportunity to be indoors with me while we waited for the clothes to get done.

I was fired for the first (and only) time from my job.

I walked about 20 blocks round-trip twice a week through downtown Baltimore's infamous North Avenue, the (or one of the) largest drug-trafficking areas in the nation in order to get to physical therapy because most of the bus drivers refused to serve me due to my white skin.

Yes, that really happened.

I was diagnosed and on medication for 6 months (felt like an eternity) for Bipolar II.  In December 2012 my psychiatrist ordered an EEG on a hunch and discovered I was misdiagnosed.

Turns out I have temporal lobe seizures (primarily caused by traumatic brain injuries) which manifest themselves with emotional/behavioral symptoms often identical to those who suffer from Bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc.

Fortunately the blackouts/unexplained lapses of time I kept experiencing tipped the psychiatrist off that something else was actually going on.

Unfortunately I may never be able to eat grapefruit again (it messes with the seizure meds I'm on).

Even 8+ years later, that one man's poor choice to drink and drive haunts my every waking moment. I have no doubt that it always will.

Do I forgive the man who did this?

Of course. We all make mistakes and poor choices, and we are expected by God to forgive all our trespasses; seventy times seven, and again. I can't argue with that. I also cannot honestly report that forgiveness happened overnight. It was a very slow and emotionally draining process. To my dismay, the proverbial weight of this burden was not made lighter despite the sincerity of my forgiveness years ago.

And then today happened.

One conversation with the right person can be life changing.

You know that light, almost-fluttery, somewhere between excitement and nervousness, breathless feeling you get in the borders of your heart right before tears of joy appear?

Yes, thaaaat feeling.

That is what it feels like; to be relieved of the last chunk of a burden you've been hefting around for exactly 8 years and 6 months to the day.

Joy; this is what true joy must feel like.

I leave you to ponder the message from "Lord, I Would Follow Thee", hymn 220 from the Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; my lullaby of March 25, 2014:

Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee— 

Lord, I would follow thee. 

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another? 

Lord, I would follow thee.

I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper— 

Lord, I would follow thee.

Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother—

Lord, I would follow thee.