Hospital chronicles

This is Day 6 of visiting my hubby, Bryan, in the hospital. In his hand is a thermos of homemade chicken tortilla soup prepared by yours truly…me. If God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, He must think awefully high of me.  Not to mention, my son has been battling some kind of illness that I’m diagnosing as a combination of asthma, allergies, and a cold. I thought I was going to have a stress-free, cozy Christmas break with my family and add in some time to myself to think about my mom. Nope.

It turns out that Bryan needs inpatient physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy and will likely be here for another 2 weeks.  I’ve accepted it because it’s not in my control. However, I’m frustrated because I have been communicating my obervations to his doctor for months now. As a social worker, I understand how the system works, so I am thankful that I can advocate on his behalf. The hospital believes he needs to be here and I can see he does too. I want him to be safe and as close to his optimal level of functioning as he can be prior to discharge.  Naturally, Bryan wants to come home.

I don’t want this experience to dampen my outlook on 2018, but I’m not going to lie, I’m in a funk.  Bryan wants to be home. I want him to be home. Our kids miss him and he misses them. I miss him in our bed. He wants to sleep in his bed. It sucks to drive out here everyday. I’m exhausted spending half my day at the hospital, then going home to attend to the kids. I feel bad that my son has been sick. I feel bad because I’m spending so much time away, but I also feel bad about how lonely it must feel for Bryan to be in a hospital over the holidays. I feel bad that my kids have spent part of their holiday in a hospital. I feel bad about Bryan’s condition. He has a long road of recovery ahead.

Despite my moaning, there have been some bright spots and moments of grace throughout this ordeal.

  1. As the paramedics transferred Bryan from the chair to the gurnee while outside our home, a lady from my old church passed by, stopped and said a prayer for Bryan.
  2. We have health insurance. 
  3. The hospital ER neurosurgeon told me that Bryan’s doctor should have listened to me. 
  4. The hospital staff have been attentive and professional. 
  5. I didn’t get a speeding ticket after being pulled over on Day 3. I told the officer why I was speeding and he gave me a warning instead of a ticket.
  6. My prayer warriors have been praying for us.
  7. My friend treated my daughter and I to some pampering with a mani/pedi.
  8. Traffic has been light due to most people being off work for the holiday break, so the commute hasn’t been so bad despite the distance.
  9. My leadership at work have been understanding.

I’ve gotten a lot of calls and I’m not in the mood to talk. I haven’t been in the mood to write either, but I can’t stay away from what comes natural. Writing is therapeutic. I do have faith things will get better.  My current strategy is to take things day by day.


So much for that

I have been itching to write all day.  Literally, while at work I thought about how I wish I could have my thoughts recorded somehow for a new post while I do my work and no one would ever know.  Sounds silly…I know, but I’m onto something.  Today, I would rather have written a blog post than spend 2 hours in a meeting rehashing what was discussed 2 years ago.  At the end of the day, I facilitated that meeting, got on a conference call shortly after to address a pressing issue, and practically ran out of the building to teach my Tuesday night Zumba fitness class.

It feels good to have my fingers on the keyboard, but I’m having to navigate my thoughts while listening to my husband express his concerns regarding our son and the marching band. Parenting is hard work.  It can be emotionally, physically and spiritually draining.  This is further complicated by having to deal with one’s own insecurities that can bubble up to the surface when dealing with one’s own child(ren). I’m now counseling my husband on strategies that would help the relationship and how we can best move forward.  Some of the issue is communication and communication styles.  Inadequate communication is a problem that I’ve observed in more and more settings (i.e., home, school, and work). I’m glad that I can offer calm, rational and relatively objective feedback.  That would not have been the case a while ago because I would get frustrated by my husband’s frustration.  However, my stance is that the atmosphere starts with me and if I could listen to the problems of about 35-40 clients every week for years, I could certainly be patient enough to listen to my husband’s.  (On a later post, I’ll write about the message God sent me with regard to serving my family.)

So much for my brilliant, thought provoking blog piece.  It’s getting late and I need to get some rest. I’m not adhering to the guidelines I set for myself to shut off electronics at least an hour before bed.  I couldn’t help but get a blog post in.  Actually, I could.  (I caught myself. There are things within our control that we act like are not. Stop it.) I made a choice to sacrifice some sleep to write. The problem with that is that I am at a place where I could go from a few days to a week of getting little sleep, which is usually prompted by stress. I know first hand what lack of sleep does to the body and mind.  I hope to get some solid hours in tonight and I hope you do too.





Closet shopping

Last night, I spent hours “shopping” in my closets because in just 2 weeks, I’ll be traveling to Jamaica for my 25 year high school reunion. My passport finally arrived yesterday and the realization hit that I need to work on a wardrobe game plan. I did type “closets” and not “closet” because at one point, I had clothes in everyone’s closet, but my son took a stand one day and moved my clothes to the garage.  By the way, he gets his feisty-ness from me. Since we downsized some years ago from a house to a duplex, the space has been limited, especially the closet space.  My excuse has been that I went from a walk-in closet to one that is about a quarter of that. Yes, that’s a big difference.

As much as I would love shopping for new clothes, it just isn’t feasible at this time although I did buy one new dress a few weeks ago. We’re paying for my daughter’s summer camp and my husband just went back to work this week after being off for nearly 2 months since his surgery.  The thing that I battle against is the sense of entitlement that I work hard, I take care of my family, and I’ve earned it; therefore, I deserve to splurge. Now, I do believe that I should treat myself, but at what point does acquiring new clothes, new shoes, new gadgets, and new stuff become enough. About 10 years ago, I thought that maybe I did have a problem when my oldest sister was perusing through my closet and referred to me as having a “sickness” due to my shoe collection. Ouch. That was a bit harsh and an exaggeration considering the source, but I’ve never forgotten that. 

I think that in my case, some of it is compulsion, some of it habit, and dare I suggest, some of it may be filling a void. My family was poor, so I didn’t have a lot growing up. I vowed to make sure I had more than I needed when I got older. When I was a preteen,  I owned this one white bra, which had to be hand washed every night.  One night my mom yelled at me because I didn’t feel like washing it and she saw it was dingy with a capital “D”.

The fear of scarcity definitely motivates some of my behaviors and this extends beyond clothes. However, outside of my personal realm, society does put on the pressure in the messaging that we aren’t enough.  People buy things to look and feel successful and happy. Social media causes people to make constant comparisons.  I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m prone to internalizing some of these messages.

Interestingly, there are aspects to living a minimalist lifestyle that really appeal to me such as living against the mold, freedom from being physically and mentally bogged down, and making room for more spiritual connection and enjoying experiences with people rather than things. The truth is that I want to embody some minimalist principles.  I need to reassess to see if I’m living in a way that will get me there.

Years ago, we downsized our home due to the economy and my husband’s multiple layoffs. Despite the circumstances, I found it to be a blessing because since then I’ve learned that I could make any place a cozy, home. I’ve learned that as long as my family is together, nothing else matters. I’ve learned that the type of home I have isn’t a measure of my success or failure. I also learned about the positives of living in a small space such as there being a smaller cap on how much stuff can be brought and stored in your home. This has, for the most part, forced me to re-evaluate old things as I bring in new things. I purge more frequently than I have in the past, which is a bonus. 

I actually enjoyed shopping in my closets last night. I’m a little embarrassed to write that I have so many clothes that I sometimes forget what I have. Maybe someone else can relate. I have mostly separates, and every now and then, I’ll put an outfit together that I really like, but I’m unable to replicate it on a different occasion because I forgot what I put together.  This all prompted the idea to coordinate my outfits and take a picture of each outfit including the accessories. I have a work trip scheduled the same week as my trip to Jamaica, so I didn’t want to wait until the last minute.

That exercise allowed me to not only coordinate some great options, I gained a greater appreciation for what I have. This message extends well beyond clothes. I encourage others to take the time to take a look at what you have, purge what no longer serves you, make room for meaningful experiences, and be grateful.


Hello Arts and Crafts

I see why kids love arts and crafts so much. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m working on a little project for my coworker’s going away party this week. In the process, I rekindled my love for creating things with my hands. I’m not that good, but this is a nice, relaxing way to end a Sunday night and combat the upcoming work week hustle/bustle blues.


Heart of hope

As I write this, I’m inundated with a flood of emotions due to the recent deaths. It’s amazing to me how humans are able to function despite inner turmoil, helplessness, fear, anger, distress, sadness, ambivalence, uncertainty, feelings of powerlessness and even terror. People experience these emotions daily, sometimes simultaneously, as they experience the injustices of this world, yet continue to go to work, go to school, and carry out their daily lives.

I struggled on what to write this week because I tend to focus on the light hearted, positive, and things that can be done within one’s control to take care of self, but my heart is heavy. Too heavy for the post I drafted on Thursday, but never published. It’s too heavy for the pink hearts in the picture I took and shared in this post, but I will circle back around to its significance later. This post will be different from my others because I tend to not write about these sorts of things although they impact me a great deal. I’m Haitian American married to an African American and we’re raising a son and a daughter in this world. The color of our skin is evident upon first laying eyes on us. The color of our skin definitely impacts the way we raise our children.

Truthfully, I haven’t been able to really articulate my feelings. It’s a combination of helplessness, sadness, anxiety, hope, gratefulness, and uncercertainty as best as I can tell right now.  My family has experienced abuse when I was a child. By my family, I mean my mother and her 4 children, which includes me (the youngest), at the hands of my father. A thought came to me when I learned of the Dallas police shootings and that was this is what happens in an abusive relationship. The abused is beat down (the best I can do right now in terms of clinical terminology as a social worker) and tormented mentally, psychologically, and sometimes physically. There is also a shrouding of secrecy in abused families. The abused will plead, beg, adjust behaviors, and sometimes even tell someone as attempts to stop or reduce the abuse, but it falls on deaf ears and the abuse continues. This all becomes internalized.  I view the shootings of the police officers as direct result of what happens when one has been unheard and unseen repeatedly. The abused decides that enough is enough and takes matters into their own hands. It is not the solution, but in that moment, it appeared to be the best option. Think of the countless women in prison, incarcerated for killing their abusers.  
This is all I will write about my thoughts on the shootings and racism in America because I know there are a lot of opinions.  I don’t want to get into that nor simplify the magnitude of problem. What I want to focus on is how to live a meaningfil life in a world with so much injustice going on that is out of one’s control. 

Yesterday, I went into a store where everything is $1. The store is aptly named the Dollar Tree and I was looking for items for a party at work. We’re throwing a going away party for one of my coworkers and I had everyone at work write a memorable message for her on the pink hearts (in the picture) that my daughter helped me cut out. The hearts will be folded, placed in a mason jar and presented as a gift . At the Dollar Tree, I found a cute reddish ribbon to wrap the mason jar with.  I was in line assessing (really judging in my head) a family in front of me.  I recognized the woman, but I couldn’t place from where.  I eventually thought that she might have been a cashier at one of the grocery stores I frequented.  

I assessed that in this family was the woman who was with her adult daughter and her daughter’s 3 children. Two of the children looked a little unkempt and one had matted hair.  I observed them unloading their cart full of processed snacks and drinks. Things I would never buy my kids. I observed the two women mouthing the number of items, estimating the cost of their purchases. I admit I was staring too much, but I am a people watcher.  The woman that I recognized gave me a gentle smile a couple of times and then exclaimed she loved my dress. I made the assessment that she was kind and warm. I said “thank you” and continued to be bothered by the belt full of processed food that they were purchasing. I began to think that maybe this is all they could afford. I thought about how privileged I was for being educated on the benefits of making better food choices and having the financial ability to do so.  The woman put an item separater in front and one behind my items. Every now and again, she would tell one of her grandkids to behave in some way. There was a moment where I thought she knew I was staring  too much and cleverly attempted to break my gaze by being overly gracious. That could have been my guilt. Whatever the case, I eventually thought to myself, “here you are judging these good people and for what”? They are kind.

There are huge problems in this world like racisim, poverty, hunger, wars, rapes, slavery, kidnappings, persecution (to name a few), that may not be resolved in my lifetime. In fact, I do not believe that they will be resolved without an act from God. It can be overwhelming. But I think we were put on this earth to make connections with each other. Being kind and making meaningful connections with people, even if for brief moments, gives hope. In the same way that I will fill the mason jar with positive messages of hope to give away as a gift, making meaningful connections with people fills our hearts with hope that we can give as  gifts to others. I think being kind, listening and really trying to understand another person’s experience (people we come across every day) brings out the best in us. This expression of love is within our control and is something that each person can take action on now.  


Where do I begin with this week?

It was long, grueling, draining, deflating, and even ridiculous at times, but not without some moments of joy interwoven in there.  The fact that I haven’t written a post in a week is telling. My plan was to finish my first month as a blogger with at least 10 posts. I was so close with 9, but it didn’t happen, mostly because of how busy my work life has been. Although I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, I did manage to take care of myself to some degree mostly due to my daily routines.

Sunday is the start of my exercise/planning week, so I made sure to pack my gym bag for the Zumba fitness class that I teach after work on Mondays and Tuesdays.  I also prepped my green smoothies, breakfast and lunch so that I would have more time in the morning to get dressed. I’m not always this good, but I do have a problem with leaving the house on time. I’ve been working really hard on this and although I didn’t leave at the time I envisioned not one day this week, I did manage to get to work by 8:45 am most days, which is an improvement.

I barely remember what transpired Monday, but I can say it was the start of my work week. I start each week day reading a daily devotional, having conversations with God and really trying to hear him. I don’t seem to keep up with the devotionals on the weekend, but I find that the office is where I really need to practice my Christianity. 

On my way home, I called my mom despite being hesitant because I didn’t know if she would be awake. I missed her voice and it has been a part of my routine for years to call her on my way home.  I’m still getting used to the change in schedule, which explains why I forgot to call earlier. I told her a few weeks ago that I would no longer call her between a certain block of time because I noticed that was her “rest” time. And I’m in for a fight if I (or any of my siblings) call it “sleeping”.  It’s, “I was just resting” or “I was closing my eyes”. To my surprise, she was awake, but she didn’t have a good couple of days due to pain. Naturally, listening to her complaints, I put my social worker hat on to help problem solve. I even went home and researched some things on the internet for her. At times, I’m convinced that I became a social worker just as so that I can help my family. Those skills do come in handy.

Tuesday was another smooth day. I started out with exercise, which I love because not only do I get to cross it off my list before I leave the house, it also pumps me up with endorphins and provides a great boost of energy. I had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, so I knew I wouldn’t be teaching Zumba fitness after work. My endocrinology appointment went well and the doctor even agreed to less frequent appointments.  The ridiculousness must have started sometime in the middle of the week because Tuesday sounds uneventful as I type this.

As I move to Wednesday and beyond, it’s a blur. I was experiencing a heavy dose of stress at work related to deliverables and deadlines. I found myself expressing my discontent several times, but I managed do this professionally.  I like to say that I’m raising “concerns”.  I was forewarned that what I was working on would be painful and I was starting to feel the sting.  Even though I left work feeling heavy mentally, I decided to attend the Zumba fitness class of a fellow instructor that I admire so much and love the way she moves.  I was so glad I did because I had so much fun. It relieved a bunch of stress, and had I not gone, she might not have asked me to do a favor for her which I was honored that she asked.

Thursday was a smooth trip downhill, but I managed to help “free” one of my coworkers by validating her work experience. I refrain from writing about my job specifically because, quite frankly, I don’t know if I can in this forum, but the job can be ambiguous, grueling, deflating, exhilarating, is highly politically charged, and can also be rewarding. Spending a few minutes making that connection with her was very rewarding for the both us. Up until that point, we had not had that as in depth of an interaction before, mostly because she works in a different unit, but we do see each other in passing. Again, a reminder that although I work with exceptionally smart people of different disciplines, my skills as a social worker are unique and I can make real connections with others, even though I am no longer a clinician. I don’t want to go as far as to say that my coworkers are my new “clients”, but I’m there to help.

I am going to spare everyone Friday because it was a mess!  The work stress this week was tipping the scales. I felt out of balance. After a great couple of weeks of sleeping through the night, I was up at least once and slept for only about 6 hours most days this week…not ideal. In fact, I’m writing this post in the middle of the night.  I also forgot to make my massage appointment (a birthday gift) every day despite adding an alarm on my phone to remind me.

What I didn’t do this week was tell my husband what was going on, which was intentional and different from my usual actions.  I told him about the stress and even asked him to pray for me, but I didn’t give him any specific information. It started out with me not wanting to relive what was going on, then I just did not want to verbalize the negativity.  I did verbalize my discontent while at work, respectfully and multiple times, but I didn’t want to cross that boundary of bringing that energy home.

I will now jump to the sweet stuff. I notice my writing trend of ending on a good note, like happily ever after. Seriously, I think it’s important to search for the light spots amongst the chaos and sometimes darkness. Otherwise, I would get stuck in chaos and darkness and I don’t want that. Learn and move on. That might be my new motto.  

This week, I managed to read all my devotionals, exercise 6 days in a row, had a daily green smoothie, made my weekly fitness coaching session, took all my supplements, was given some flowers, did some leisurely reading which is a favorite pass time, made some connections with people, encouraged some people, checked in with some people, and loved on some people including my family. All that and I still have Saturday!


Fence Stradler- Daily Word Prompt

I was a fence straddler for years because I learned that in my family if I didn’t want to be judged unfavorably, then I could not verbally express how I really felt. I was the baby and I saw everything. There were some very opposing views on religion and culture and ethnicity, and how religion, culture and ethnicity was to be expressed.  Even though I was born in America, I couldn’t take on too much of America’s ways either.  I learned that by professing that I preferred one side, that I would be denouncing the other side of me…of my family. The truth was that I loved them all.  Even though, no one ever told me to take sides, I believe that they secretly rooted for me to take their side.  I felt powerless, but in a way, claimed my power by withholding my true feelings.

Sadly, this didn’t empower me. In fact, it crippled me because I went through life living to not commit, to not disappoint, and more specifically, to not disappoint other people. I really struggled in my teens to early 20’s with discovering who I was and what I wanted out of life.   This alone was not unique to only me because lots of people struggle with this, but the complexities of religion and wanting to fit in with my judgmental, Haitian family was not easy.

Although I tried to ignore the fence, mostly through incessant daydreaming, and later on inaction, the fence became too large to ignore…too large to continue to straddle.  As I think about this, I realize how brave I was in taking the risks that I did.  There are risks to just about everything I can think of and I reached the point of not caring about what those risks would be. All I knew was that I had to find my voice and I could only find it through listening to God, not everybody else.

This has been a long road. I began practicing using my voice, which meant that people did get disappointed.  But you know what, they eventually got over it and so did I.  Using my voice has also allowed me to help a lot of people. Despite all my progress, it is interesting that every now and again, I feel the fence and I feel the impending judgement. For example, I felt the fence in a class I had in graduate school when a classmate called me out my views on politics.  More recently, I noticed that I was withholding my view in a conversation at work. Now, I do tend to withhold strategically because negotiation is a part of my job. However, when I’m withholding for fear of judgment (doesn’t happen as often), that’s a different beast that I need to continue to work on.

There are many great things that came out of my upbringing, including but not limited to my ability to see and understand opposing views, to accept people as they are, to hear the unspoken words, and to appreciate other cultures,  ethnicities, and religions. A huge lesson was that I could be my own greatest advocate and be loved regardless.  And if someone walks away, as they have, that’s ok too.  I simply show my appreciation even more to the ones that stick around.




My daughter is helping me in my quest for relaxation on this Friday night. We’re at the pool where she is splashing and I’m reveling in the breeze amidst the cloudy skies.  This may sound strange, but I am actually enjoying the scent of chlorine (although my eyes are burning a little).  My senses really are alive with the sounds of kids chattering and shrieking with delight. I hear the crashing sound from the 5 triangular shaped buckets of water on the pole as they spill over, one by one, upon filling up with water.  I get an occasional sprinkle of water on my face and toes.  The weather is about 88 or even cooler by now.

This is a great way to end the week.  I already know that when I get home, I will thoroughly clean the kitchen, as only I can (let’s face it), so that I can wake up to peace. 

For me, it’s the simple, little things that bring me joy and spark my creativity. I may even publish 2 more blog posts this weekend.