Life After Brain Surgery

A week ago my family was all meeting up at a parking garage outside of University of Maryland Medical Center Baltimore, gathering our belongings necessary for the long day ahead, and rushing inside to get to where I needed to be by my 5:30 appt time. Sadly, the hospital sent us on a long run around until we finally landed right where we needed to be, but we got there. Tension was high among the group, of course. The nervousness in the air; palpable.

I was asked if I was ready, more times than a few. How do you answer that? How are you ever ready to risk leaving your family behind? How are you ever ready to risk not coming back to them the same as you left them? So I lied. I was ready, yes. I lied and said I was fine. I lied and said I was going to be okay. I was petrified.

Questions began, IV was started, prepping was moving at the speed of light, but I was still stuck. Lingering, waiting for my entire family to hug me all at once. What would be my last thing to say to each one of them? How do you decide that? You cannot scare the kids, Kristen. You cannot upset your sisters, Kris. And my God, don’t let my parents feel my fear.

Last night I was asked what I felt in those moments. What was it that I told myself to help me get through it and make the final decision to go through with it.

The answer is my life. I wanted my life back. The vibrant, exuberant, fly by the seat of her pants girl was gone. She was replaced long ago by a zombie of a woman that was barely surviving this world. She could no longer head out on grand adventures, planned or otherwise. She spent her days hardly able to make it up and down the stairs let alone to a school event with homemade brownies.

She couldn’t make it to concerts with her sisters anymore. She had to cancel plans with friends more times than a few. She couldn’t get outside and run around with her two sons anymore. Life as she knew it ceased to exist.

But this morning. 7 days after the scariest decision of her life, that girl woke up at 5 am without an alarm clock, went downstairs without a single creaking or aching bone (stairs are a different story), and made herself a cup of coffee. Do you realize how long it has been since that has happened? I won’t count the nights where sleep never happened and I got up at 5 to start a day after a night of no rest. I’m talking actually slept for hours, woke up, went down, and made my own damn coffee??

Let’s ask my little baristas when they wake. I bet ya it’s been a while.

Good morning, world. It’s good to be back.

Monday Morning Ready!

Good morning all. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything or read any blogs. My health has been my primary focus lately. Brain surgery in 23 days!! But, while I’ve been basically bedridden, I have been doing a lot of thinking.

I have a million ideas for projects, community involvement, books I want to write, and opinion pieces I want to write. However, my brain is total mush!

Any suggestions for organizing my thoughts and getting these projects underway? 🤔

Validation: Why do we all need it?

Lately I’ve noticed many people asking “Why?”; Why do you like/love me? Why do you want to be in my life? Why this, why that. And I’m wondering why we need to ask why? Ok, so I realize how silly that is. I want to know why people want to know why. But seriously, what has happened in our society that we constantly seek validation from others?

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Can we not be secure enough in our relationships (friendships, family, intimate, etc.) without seeking that constant affirmation? What has society done to us as a species? I cannot understand why me saying “I like/love you” is not enough for the person to be content or secure in the relationship. Do the reasons I like you really matter? Wouldn’t it be more productive to ask what I don’t like about you? Then you could work on those things to better yourself! Right? For instance, if a friend says, “I don’t like the way you treat your mom”, that could be a chance for you to reevaluate the relationship with your mother and your actions could be adjusted to improve the relationship.

I’m not suggesting going to your friend and giving them a laundry list of things to fix. I’m talking about really considering what that person could do that will lead to greater happiness and fulfillment for them. Things that will improve their relationship with you and with others in their life.

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Human interaction is inevitable and we all have issues with those interactions that cause us stress. Why spend so much time stressing over why someone likes you? Accept their “I love you” and be content with the fact that they do. I blame social media for the constant need for validation. People constantly seek attention on social media hoping to see how many “likes” they get, how many shares or comments or whatever. It’s all so pointless to me. I personally use social media like Facebook and Instagram. But I rarely worry about who likes what I post. I post things to either show my family my children’s accomplishments or to share my thoughts on a topic. Never have I thought “Gosh, I really hope I get at least 20 likes on this picture”. And I have never felt less beautiful if my picture only got 2 likes (most likely my sister and my mom!).

I just worry that our society is so worried about pleasing everyone else, that we are losing sight of what truly matters. Our happiness should come from within, not from the validation of others. If you don’t like me, well that’s your issue, not mine. If you would like to offer a constructive piece of advice, I will surely take it into consideration. Perhaps you see something in me that needs to be changed or reevaluated. I will surely appreciate anything like that. But I’m not going to question why someone likes me. I’m going to be happy with the fact that they do.

Happiness from others should only be the icing on top of the happiness cake you already baked for yourself!

~Kristen

The Next Year of My Life

We all know that on New Year’s Eve, everyone makes resolutions for what they intend to change in the coming year. I think that’s interesting, but it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not your next year, it’s just the next year. Your next year begins the day after your birthday. That is technically the next year of YOUR life.

Well today is my birthday. So I have been thinking about what I want to do differently in MY next year. For my next year I have a few things that need to change. So I have compiled a list.

  • More gym time. Stop making excuses and go.
  • Less saying yes, more saying no.
  • More me time.
  • More writing.
  • More positive thinking.
  • Go to bed at a decent hour.

Now let me explain. I was going to the gym pretty regularly. Then I got sick with the flu. I kept putting it off then it became a thing of the past. I want to go back. Less saying yes, more saying no. This is because I am constantly being asked by everyone to go here, go there, do this, do that. I always say yes in order to please everyone else. But then it cuts into my time. SO NO MORE! I need me time. I need time for my obligations.

Going to bed at a decent hour may help me get up earlier. That will also give me more “me” time. And more writing time. I try to remain positive. But chronic illnesses are a bitch. Seriously. I’m hurting all the time anymore. It’s like the good days are few and far between.

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This was an actual fortune of mine. So it just fit.

I am focusing on school right now as I look for the perfect job. But tonight I will finish my school work early, go to bed, and pray that I can get up early in the morning. Then, once the kids go to school, it’s the gym for me. When I get back home from the gym I can do more school work. This weekend will be busy celebrating my birthday with friends and family; they insisted. But tomorrow is the first day of my next year and I plan to make it great.

What’s your plan for your next year when you finish your current trip around the sun?

~Kristen

Why I Write

I recently read a post on another blog platform regarding the reasons people write. Of course I read about the reasons we all know, such as for money, for fame, or as an outlet for mental health. But reading the post and the quotes shared, I began thinking of why I write.

I cannot pinpoint a single reason, as it has become part of who I am. I can, however, pinpoint the moment I realized writing helped me make sense of the jumbled thoughts in my head. It was almost 20 years ago when I lost my very best friend. He was my 15 year old boyfriend. At 13 years old, that impacted everything I would do in life from then on out. A friend had started writing poems to help her get past the pain of losing him. I took her advice and gave it a try.

And do you know what? I still have that same voice! My methods of writing poetry have not changed. My rhythm is similar in I’d say 98% of my poetry. I’ve never studied the technical terms for poetry. I do, however, remember a few things from elementary school. My point is, I didn’t need to study all the fancy terms and this poet and that poet. I wrote because I was a poet. I still am a poet.

I write to explain my views on things, big and small. I write to deal with pain. I write to share my happiness. You can essential say that I write because the sun shines, but I also write because it doesn’t. Life is a bunch of ups and downs, we all know that. I write because the world of letters helps to explain the world of visions.

Truth or fiction, it doesn’t matter. I write because it helps me connect with people and it helps me deal with losing people that may have severed those connections. It helps me show the ones I love just how much they mean to me. It also helps me shed my tears through writing about the ones I’ve lost.

Now I write for money, because apparently I can. I have no idea if it will become a lucrative career, but I know that I am happiest when I write. I write because I can. In this world where everything seems to be regulated by this agency or that law, I write because I was given this right. I write because too many people fought and died to give me this right. I write because I have so much to say. I write because there are people out there, although maybe only a few, that enjoy my words.

I’ve been told a few times that my words take people to the place I’m describing. That my words transport them into those times, those feelings, and those settings. So, then, my words are needed in this world. To help take those people from the world that makes no sense to a world where they can dream. My words are a method to the madness all around us.

And so, I write.

~Kristen