Beautiful date with Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is beautiful. I am often taken back how close I live to such surreal beauty and mystery. Places like Bryce Canyon I could stare willing for hours especially the hoodoos which are pictured below. Photos don’t do justice. I happily captured a photo of the intelligent raven. Some were a bit too friendly because of people feeding them over the years. Please, I know those lovely pleading eyes may be irresistible, but refrain from feeding the wild.

 

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Salty Adventures

My dear bestie I often visit in California came to Utah to visit for a few days! With the sun coming back out plus Spring slowly coming into play, it really boosted my mood for the rest of the year. Truly, it is amazing medicine to see your closest friends.

The few photos I am posting here are from our first day of adventures: the Antelope Island in Salt Lake City and a few from Tribble Fork Reservoir in the Mount Timpanogas Alpine Loop. Antelope Island is the largest of the several islands of the Great Salt Lake. It is home to free-range bison, mule deer, foxes, coyotes, pronghorns, and many species of beautiful fowl. There are awesome trails and designated bike routes. If you ever visit, plan accordingly, preferably before July-August–less brine flies and rotten egg-like smell. Otherwise, I highly recommend visiting. Please be sure to visit my “Like” page for more photos I haven’t added here!

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Grief: It’s OK to be not OK

Going through grief has been a challenging roller coaster. My goal is to share my rawness of grief to others, and I am not saying my ways of grieving are correct. I have wanted to write on grieving especially when I lost one of my best friend’s, Jamie. However, life has been quite hectic followed by a few more people I have known that passed in 2014, last passing being in December. A dear person whom I was very close to, who treated me like their own blood. There is no preparing the tidal wave of emotions, survival’s guilt, and hopelessness felt afterward. The gut-wrenching heartache felt for the immediate family members and wanting to erase the pain and struggles that they may face without that person in their life.

While we all experience grief differently, we are all human. We share the similar emotions: sadness, fear, anger, joy, surprise, and love. For me, grieving is something I haven’t done well, or simply altogether avoided growing up. There is a resistance to sharing my emotions with others. I am almost afraid to cry especially in front of others. There were instances some would say I am emotionless, callous, or disconnected. When, in fact, that was the very opposite of what was going inside of me. In my case, I have had to be strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually from I could remember. My feelings run deep especially for those I care about. When sadness struck close to home, I would feel sadness followed by anger especially in death. In the past, I would usually let my tears flow in the darkness of night when everyone had fallen asleep. The next morning, I would push aside the sadness and put a smile on my face.

This time around, the grieving was almost unbearable for me to handle. Honestly, it was the first time in my life to really feel the ache of grief physically and emotionally. There were so many lives and scenarios of people dealing with a loss, and furthermore, dealing with knowing those people are gone here from earth. I went through rage, sadness, guilt, grieving, more rage then depression. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I would cry, but suddenly stop, thinking I needed to be “strong”. Stopping my emotions only led my sadness to lead to depression. The depression was causing nightly nightmares, thoughts, and feelings so dark I wanted to run from myself. I felt guilt because I wanted to comfort and help those in the immediate loss, but it was unbelievably challenging loss after loss.

Someone I could confide in recommended perhaps I should see a counselor. Truly the thought of expressing my feelings to an unknown individual was intimidating for multiple reasons. Years ago, I hadn’t had the best experience with therapy. However, I needed to let down judgment that all therapists were like so. I prayed about it, finding a decent Christ-based counselor in my town.

I have been attending lessons for a few weeks. The sessions have been rather validating. I don’t feel “crazy” especially with certain feelings I have been experiencing within. It is one thing hearing it from someone you care about versus an outside source. It truly has helped me understand it’s OK not be OK. It is also definitely OK to cry. I had a wonderful California trip this month with my bestie. The moments to myself, I just cried and cried. Praying, being silent at that moment. Thinking of those hurting; those who have lost; and those that are gone in the physical sense. The importance is sharing what they have blessed me with internally. Life’s sessions run deep with those that have come in and out of your life—the good and bad. Showing your emotions isn’t a weakness. One of the strongest men who ever lived, “Jesus wept.” John 11:45. Shows He knows our pain and suffering with such deep sympathy. Sometimes we may find ourselves face down from being strong too long. There isn’t anything wrong seeking or asking for a hand to get back up, slowly.

If someone reading this is feeling alone in any type of grief, sadness, and/or depression, and perhaps you can’t get back up. Please, seek help, or talk to someone that will just listen. It is important to mesh with someone that will be of comfort, not judging your emotional reactions. You are not alone. There are many dealing with unresolved emotions, losses, and depression that needs attention. You will be loved. You are loved. You are important. Even if I don’t know you, I want joy for you. Take that step to healing.

Moments in the Southwest

Enjoying the Southwest as the summer is coming to an end. The nighttime is already nearing the high 40s, and my tomato plant can’t remain outside much longer. Mr. Tomato Plant has grown to nearly 4ft tall, and has given plenty of sweet tomatoes!

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Delicious rich mud!Never fear! That brown remnant is poo of the Earth, not of a mammal.

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Not Goodbye…

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This was my view on my back home after an intimate day with friends to remember Jamie. The service isn’t something one can put simply into words. I was flooded with deep emotion seeing all of Jamie’s artistic creations, accomplishments, keepsakes, etc. I thought I could keep it in and be strong, but the overflow of emotions hit like a rock. Not necessarily sadness, the depiction of Jamie’s character put together in her memory room was absolutely beautiful. It felt like I could hug her. I wanted to hug her, but there were others to hug, bursting with Jamie’s love. Many lovely people I hadn’t even known, told me how much Jamie talked about “her Monsie”, even in the midst of her last days; she worried about me, my health, and wellbeing without question. What a beautiful soul. How’d I get so blessed to meet such a person? So blessed to know such a wonderful being. Through her passing, I met wonderful people that Jamie and her family have known, and dear friends I hadn’t seen for months, even years. Thank you for your support and laughter. It was a reunion of hope and life. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you a little later, Jamiedove.

My Amazing Jamie

This past month has been extremely hard for me, knowing my best friend, Jamie, would no longer be here. But more so, the unimaginable pain I know she has been enduring without compliant. I have cried for weeks, sometimes unconsciously bawling, bracing myself that she won’t be here anymore.

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 There are thousands of people she has touched, leaving such an unforgettable impression. I will never forget the moment I was introduced to Jamie back in 2009. She was such a welcoming person. She helped me through some very challenging obstacles in my life. Jamie helped me realize the fight I had in me, that I hadn’t been using to advocate for myself. She essentially helped many become self reliant through USeb including myself. She helped me battled head on with Medicaid as she witnessed sepsis nearly take my life.

Monsie, Joy, Jamie

Jamie had the sweetest moves on the dance floor during camp. Jamie made me laugh until tears on our game nights; we “oinked” into our magical pigs during the board game “Pass the Pigs”.  Jamie loved rough off-roading in a Jeep as much as me, and boy, we had fun. She was incredible at making cool techno noises with her mouth. We exchanged our goals and dreams together while painting on beautiful stormy days followed by vibrant rainbows. Jamie was not only incredibly talented with a paintbrush, she had an amazing angelic singing voice, that will remain echoing in my memories. I am unbelievably blessed to have had those moments with her.

Rainbow skies in Utah

I will miss you, Jamie. Thank you for being a sacrificial understanding friend to me. You never hurt me. You were truthful and real. You never made me feel like I owed you anything. You gave your time, love, emotion, and heart without expecting a thing in return. You were sympathetic and empathetic. You felt with your heart not with your head. I wish I could have told you how I appreciated you more often. I wish my life did not have to move me so far away from you during your last days here. I know Jamie would not anyone to be sad, but we will miss her friendship, selfless presence, and beautiful soothing voice.

Summer Planting

Summer is here! Not usually my favorite time of year due to the temperature spike and my skin disfavoring the climate differences, but I am looking forward to summer desert storms.

We purchased a few plants recently. If you have a small apartment/house that needs some life, plants really make a difference for your mood. I enjoy seeing life grow, responding with your care as nature handles the rest. I have been reading up on the care of each plant’s specific needs–I’m hooked. The information has helped me bring life back in a few wilting herbs and aloe plants I picked out. I always gravitate toward anything needing some love!

 

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Mr. Tomato Plant as “he’s” affectionately called, is actually three times the size now. If he continues to grow strong and healthy, I will add updated photos!

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Happy parsley! Grow baby, grow!

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Beautiful Basil is growing so quickly. It was rather unhappy when I first purchased especially after discovering aphids were slowly sucking the nutrients from several leaves. I think the issue is under control, for now, thanks to neem oil. My herbs, aphids… mine!

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My Lunabug is absolutely beaming in the sunshine. I don’t think she misses the snow and ice. ;)

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How can you not love that face?

 

 

Escaped to England and Scotland

We went to Europe! England and Scotland, to be exact. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that we were in Europe 46 days ago (and counting…) From a wee-one, I have wanted to go to Europe and explore endlessly. Several years ago, my best friend’s dream was to go to Scotland. We both wanted to go together, and even planned going together a few years back, but my cancer was being unpredictable, and it was extremely tough for my husband to get off work. My friend went off to Europe, and I had the pleasure to relive her beautiful moments through her wonderful photos. In the recent months, we had been chatting online, as always, and she asked me if we should try to make our dream possible, together. It was a big wishful IF. We figured out everything before jumping the gun… it was possible and true. Not only did I get to experience it with one best friend, but with my other best friend: my husband! If it were not for my friend, this would not be possible. This was an undeserving help to us, really.

I had wished to log each day in my memoirs, but there was so much goodness in two weeks. Honestly, it would probably be pages upon pages of writings of every thought that rushed to mind. Scotland, specifically, is an unforgettable place with unforgettable memories. Departing from London made me a bit sad, but as soon as we entered Scotland via the train…you just knew. How breathtaking each moment became as we made it further into Scotland.  Just standing in secluded beautiful places as you hear the lively nature around you; the misty air with the rich sweet scent of soil—it is a gift. Our tour guide was very informative of the history, it wasn’t one of those tours as they point saying, “This is… and over here is.” No, not only was he extremely thoughtful and kind, he was thorough of Scotland’s history. From the sadness to the pleasant moments that once spread along the lands of Scotland.

I am beyond elated to have made such beautiful memories in my heart and soul, not merely a mental log. Spiritually, I had many quiet moments with God. It seems it has been the quietest my mind has been to really hear His whispers run over me. Being reunited with that still small voice is a beautiful gift He gives us. Life becomes so unbelievably chaotic between fighting feverishly to survive due to health and the government; in addition, we are constantly amongst  technology and its social media shenanigans. You don’t need to go afar to have moments like so. I believe it helped me remember it is vital to take those quiet moments, and to make it a habit.

We miss it, immensely. We shall return…

I will be making a page separately from this blog post with many of my photos under the “Travels” section of my blog. If you are “friended” on my personal Facebook then you have already been bombarded. ; )

 London-April-30-2014-9Lively London, love the pulse of the city.

London-May-1-2014-32We enjoyed the cool damp weather. My skin was incredibly pleased.

Glasgow-May-4-2014-14Beautiful organ in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery located in Glasgow.

Scotland-May-5-2014-3Jet lag was calling my name… enjoyed a lovely latté in Spill the Beans Café in Dunkeld.

Scotland-May-7-2014-4Staircase in the Church of St. Clement on the Isle of Harris. Oh, it’s scarily narrow.

Scotland-May-7-2014-12Wee lamb off to reunite with mother and sibling.

Scotland-May-7-2014-15Seilebost Beaches, Isle of Harris. No words, one can only stare. So many different blues.

Scotland-May-10-2014-4Eilean Donan Castle. I love castles.

We Forget the Homeless

Homelessness happens all around the world; however, it isn’t something we think about often, if we are honest with ourselves. We are very blessed people in America, still. Surely, our country has many flaws like every other country—there is no perfect place upon Earth. I am very guilty for complaining and acting out during scary hard times. Nevertheless, I have never experienced true homelessness. Even in the midst of the nature disaster in California in 1994, we had shelter within a day, and resources to help us pursue getting a place within two weeks of losing our home. That was not homelessness.

We need to change our thought process and words especially when we are facing rough times, “I am so poor,” when we still have a roof over our head, cell phone, television, internet, bathroom, food, etc. Understandably, times are rough, prices go up and wages do not, but we need to look at what we have, not what we do not.

Watching that touching YouTube tonight really hit my heart and soul so incredibly hard. I cried, hard. I felt his emotion; his exhaustion; his thankfulness and his kind heart. All of us have avoided a homeless person in some point of our lives. It isn’t right, period. Every single homeless person has a life, and has a history on this Earth. Just think, that could be one of us in a year’s time. Life is unpredictable. In circumstances today, our life could become completely something we did not see coming.

I watched an upsetting thread on Facebook once of people saying they would never give their time and attention to a homeless person because “they are just too lazy”. Granted, many panhandlers “disguise” themselves as being homeless… In my opinion, if I give to someone who is not truly homeless, and just pretending for the sake of making money for alcohol, drugs, what have you—I know God’s judgment is the only judgment that matters upon that person. It should not stop us altogether from truly seeking out those in need.

There are about 3.5 MILLION homeless Americans today, and that number is rising every moment. Did you know approximately 700 homeless people in America die each day from hypothermia alone? I did not. Statistics show the homeless also die from unprovoked violence due to hate crimes. From 1999 to 2005, the National Coalition of the Homeless documented over 400 acts of violence against the homeless by housed individuals.

Also, when we have referred homeless people as “the crazies”… How insensitive have we become? How can we teach our children these selfish thoughts? Yet, we are the same nation that wishes NOT to be “too judgmental” when we are judging all the time. Instead, let us show compassion. If one is not comfortable giving money, simply do not. It is not just about the money, it is the compassion of noticing that person. A person’s misfortune is not going to plague us; in fact, we will learn a lot more from someone without verses someone that thinks they have it all. A simple smile or hello, they are just like us: a heart, soul, spirit—breathing. No labels. Let us stop stereotyping. Not one is worthless.

“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and becomes judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” James 2:2-6

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

 

Credits and Links:

JustGive.org: A direct link to a very informative list to help the homeless.
NHCHC.org: Detailed .pdf documentation of the statistics on deaths of the homeless.
San Jose Mercury News: Reported in December 2013, four people died of hypothermia.
Think Progress: In one of the wealthiest cities in the country, 7 homeless people have died due to a rare cold snap this winter.

Almost Lost Him

What a year so far. I have wanted to focus on my goals for this year, but we have been experiencing some trials…

After our move, I had been cut off state Medicaid. They claimed my husband’s $1300 per month for two people, is too much income for the household. I received no warning. I had little gauze left to do my daily skin care. It breaks my heart to ask others in similar situations such as myself, to spare what they can. It kills me the state can turn my life upside in a heartbeat, and jeopardize people’s health. It is a very dehumanizing feeling especially when you simply cannot shower every day because you do not have enough. Most of my calories are administered nightly through my g-tube because my esophagus is only 2mm, so I have to be careful not to consume all the formula that is my lifeline.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not sit around, making myself a victim, or sit around wanting pity. I advocate for myself on a daily basis. I am a fighter. However, it does make me feel guilty to go to organizations for help. I know it isn’t my fault, but it is a human reaction to want to do more for yourself.

Back in December, there was a nasty sinus infection going around. My husband, unfortunately, contracted and battled with it numerous times, and his insurance did not start until January. Therefore, he had to go to Instacare in order to get treatment out-of-pocket.

January comes around, I am still feverishly finding out my options to get back on Medicaid. It was also time for my yearly Yosemite trip with my best friend. I was so beyond excited about our time together, for a whole week of beautiful California. A few days into our trip, I finally caught the sinus infection full force, and then sadly, passed it on to my best friend (I’m sorry! :() While away in California, my poor Justin was ill again with the sinus infection and cough.  When I had returned from our trip, our friends from Arizona were coming in a day after I had arrived back home. We were feeling a bit more stable, but the cough would not go away. We all had a fantastic time going to Bryce Canyon. We all had an incredibly awesome week in a very long time.

Over a week later, after everything was going back to the norm, my husband came home from work, freezing. He did not once complain to me the entire day (we text back and forth throughout the day.) He is NEVER cold. He wears shorts in cold snowy weather while everyone else is in snowsuits. At first I thought, the sinus infection was coming back, but his face told me something else. I saw pain. His face was becoming paler, in a way I hadn’t seen before. He shivered into the evening until bedtime. I monitored him like a hawk. He needed to sleep, so I went to bed with him early (for me), that night. An hour and a half later, I woke up suddenly—as if someone told me to wake up, now. I have always been a dead sleeper until the sun rises, so that immediately made me check on my husband. He was burning up. I knew his fever was around 103.0 just by touching him. He was shivering so hard, it used all his energy. I also observed our dog’s behavior. She is usually always by my side, but that night, she would not leave him. Her face was full on worried without sleep.

“You need a doctor,” I said.

“No… too much… money,” he could barely utter.

“Your life is more important than money,” I said sternly.

He fell back asleep. I grew increasingly more uncomfortable and worried. I started feeling sick myself, but I got myself dressed and clothes out for him.

“You need to go now!”

“Can we wait until it is light out?” He asked.

“No! There is very serious, and you need to get yourself checked out, now!” I said in an angry tone.

My husband is amazing man, but he always puts himself last. In all honesty, this point agitated because he hasn’t seen a doctor in years, and I was just very scared. I knew for him to even want to be checked out later showed how seriously horrible he was feeling.

It took him a good hour just to get dressed while in-between he started vomiting and he could not stay up on his feet. He was becoming delirious. He was mumbling incoherently. I had to keep reminding him we had to leave and why. I grew increasingly scared. I was praying silently to myself. My emotions were shot and in shock. I had never seen my husband so helpless. His fever was also worsening…

Unfortunately, I don’t have a license, yet, but I do know how to drive, thankfully. He could hardly stay within the lines. He appeared to drift in and out. In a loud voice, I guided him on the road. It was 2-ish AM or so, thankfully, being in a small town, I saw only four cars on the way to the hospital. Two miles from the hospital, he could not steer the wheel anymore. I took hold on the wheel, dangerously, telling him when to accelerate and brake. We made it safely to the hospital. He started having intense abdominal pain, as soon as he opened his door; he vomited on the parking lot pavement.

“Do you need a wheelchair?”

“Huh..”

“Do you need a wheelchair?”

“Yes.”

I ran as quickly as possible inside the hospital’s ER doors. I could hardly talk, but I requested a wheelchair. I saw my husband’s silhouette slowly making way to the ER department, barely. I told him I was going him a wheelchair, but he told me he doesn’t remember asking for a wheelchair.

The nurse took him back right away, but insisted I sit down and stay in the waiting room for a bit. I sat out in the waiting area for over an hour. Longest hour of my life. After an hour, the nurse took me back to his room. I was just happy to be near him. He looked more relaxed getting to see me, but so lifeless. He kept requesting a warm blanket, but could not have one, as his fever was 105.0. When the nurse told me, the tears started flowing. I could feel that hysterical non-stop crying feel approach, but I needed to be strong as he has always been very strong for my moments in the hospital.

“Don’t cry,” he whispered.

“I should be the one in the hospital bed, not you. I want to take whatever this is away from you. It is hard being on the other side…”

“No, you don’t need to suffer anymore than you have.”

The diagnosis was influenza-A and a bad sinus infection. I was pleased it wasn’t something worse, but saddened because we had just been hearing and reading on statistics of how many individuals were dying from complications of the flu this year.

I could not tell you how many medications they pumped into him. He finally went into a peaceful sleep, but I watched his pulse, endlessly. I did not take my eyes off him. I was praying to my Lord for mercy; His warmth, and comfort. This was especially hard being a couple of weeks after the first anniversary of the loss our pregnancy. My mindset was raw, fragile, and worn thin.

Even in the midst of our weakness, God is there. He reassured me with comfort, and the thought of certain brothers and sisters going through similar trials, but they all were given a rope to make The Climb. I accept the rug pulled from beneath my feet, to strengthen where I am weak and lack wisdom (James 1:2-4). God only wants the utmost best for others and me.

Thank You for my best friend and husband. Continue reading