Coach

Coach

My family celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday this weekend in Nashville, TN. It was my mom’s idea because my mom is fun. She is a grandma of 4 grandsons. She is the mom of two daughters. She is the wife of one husband.

My mom is a fairly private person about her own childhood. That is because it was not picture perfect. What I will share are the words I would use to describe her mother (my grandma) — loving, kind, strong, independent, steadfast, role model, survivor. I do not have any words for her father. I do not know him. From what I hear, he was not a nice man. I call my mom and her two siblings silent survivors because all three emerged from a childhood of tension to become people who are loving and kind. I have always admired my mom for her lack of bitterness towards her own father. I’m sure she would tell me it is her Heavenly Father who fills that gap. My mom is a woman of strong faith in Jesus.

If you look at my mom’s high school and college year books you will see pictures of her as a cheerleader — a role she carried on into her adult life as she married a man who for decades was a high school basketball coach. Most people think of her as that cheerleader sitting in that basketball gym in the stands, and in many ways that is how I see her — an encourager in the stands of my life always cheering me on.

But I’m sure my dad would agree with me, my mom ain’t sitting on no sidelines just cheering us on. (My mom was a high school grammar teacher. That is going to make her cringe! Lol) My mom IS our coach.

I would call her my life coach. She wore the whistle in our family. My mom is the best of any good coach who pushes her players and tries to get the best out of them. My dad and sister I know would agree with me, we are who we are today because of our mom. Words to describe my mom are the same ones that I used to describe her mother — loving, kind, strong, independent, steadfast, role model, survivor. I can only hope that someone will say those words about me some day. I am fortunate to have been coached by the best.

Connie Milhollland, you are dearly loved by this family. Every day you cheer us on, we want you to know we are grateful for you, Coach!

Love you always,
Your Team

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Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget.

DBS (deep brain stimulation) surgery is a real possibility for me in the near future. My miracle medication, Levodopa, is starting to lose its effect reminding me what I try to forget — Parkinson’s is a regressive disorder. At my most recent neurologist appointment, I had a levodopa challenge test. I had to be off my miracle medication for twelve hours to gather data on how effective this medication is for me. This information is needed for the brain surgery. For twelve hours I had to be reminded of what I try to forget — this disease is not going away and it was frightening to live in that body for twelve hours unmediated.

During the same twelve unmediated hours, I received heartbreaking news that a dear friend’s husband has Alzheimer’s.

As much as I try to forget– there is no cure for many neurological diseases that ravage and destroy. Yesterday forced me to think about what I try to forget– the late stage of these diseases.

I try to forget — some day that will be me. Even though this is a bit sad, I am going to tell you what I don’t want you to forget — when I am in that late stage. Then, you fill in the blank for your loved one.

Don’t forget — this is not the real me. I am not this body but trapped inside it. Don’t forget.

Don’t forget — my smile and how I am not very photogenic. We laughed about this often.

Don’t forget — that I am funny. Tell the stories of all those funny moments we shared.

Don’t forget — that I love dogs. It lifts my heart to have a fur ball snuggled next to me.

Don’t forget — that I am passionate about children’s causes and bettering their lives.

Don’t forget — that I am a fighter. I am still fighting.

Don’t forget — that I’m your friend. I would give you a hug if possible.

Don’t forget — I am your sister. You still need to ask to borrow my clothes.

Don’t forget — I am your mom. I love you dearly for who you are, not what you do. I brought you into this world and I may not be able to take you out now, as the saying goes, but you know my expectations– men of character.

Don’t forget — I am your wife and even though you now are my caretaker, I am passionate for you, adore you, still love your legs. Keep biking. You have great legs.

Don’t forget — the real me. I’m just trapped inside this mortal body.

Don’t forget — to be happy. I believe in Jesus. You don’t have to worry about me. I look forward to heaven where I will be greeted with a new whole body.

Don’t forget– I love you.

For your loved one, what would they say.
Don’t forget — ________.

While I am still in the earlier stages and don’t expect this to be me for a long time, and I am still praying for a cure. I want to remind you some day — don’t forget.

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Meet Lorisa

Labrador Retriever + Poodle = Adorable Dog Called Labradoodle.

Lori + Lisa = Adorable Girl Called Lorisa.

Who is Lorisa? Lorisa is the main character of the book cowritten by my dear friend Lori and me. Lorisa is a labor of love created by a friendship that has stood the test of time. For me, Lorisa represents determination, faithfulness, loyalty, sacrifice, belief and love– all of the characteristics that I have witnessed in my cowriter over the years. Lorisa has the boldness and spunk that I see in Lori and the scattered idealism that I see in me.

We hope that Lorisa teaches children to believe in themselves and enjoy the process of growing up. Lorisa has what is called a growth mindset which basically means that she believes that her efforts matter. Her motto in the book– Am I there? Not Yet. I’ll get there. You bet!

Lorisa has taught me to believe that I have purpose and to enjoy the process of living. Lorisa has taught me to dream big, work hard, and not focus on my limitations.

We did not draw Lorisa. We worked with a fabulous illustrator who kept going back to the “drawing board” until Lorisa emerged as we envisioned her in our minds.

Who is Lori? If you had the privilege of having Mrs. Hockema as a teacher, you will never forget her. She most assuredly is on your list of favorites. As a classroom teacher, she was dynamic and passionate about her students and profession. She gave her all. She still does in all her endeavors.

Over the next couple of weeks I will slowly tell you more about Lorisa. It is going to be an incredible journey as we introduce her to you. How do I know this? — because the process of writing this book has already been incredible and fascinating.

Retired Teacher + Retired School Counselor = Two Friends with Many Stories to Tell

Adorable girl character + Adorable dog character =
Book Coming Soon Titled NOT YET

………Is it here? NOT YET
It will get here. You bet!

Coming soon!

NOT YET
Lisa Cox and Lori Hockema

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Ribbon of Tears

Ribbon of Tears

If each of our lives is a story, and I do believe each and every one of us has a story to tell, today’s page of my story would have tears staining the ink on the page. Today is a day I let go and trust. Today, I say good-bye to the idea of going back to the profession I love. Today, I turn in my letter of retirement much earlier than I ever anticipated. Today Parkinson’s knocks a little wind out of me.

By tomorrow, I will turn the page and look for new opportunities. Tomorrow, I will quit pouting and see all of the windows God is already opening as this door quietly closes in my life.

Actually, I won’t wait to turn the page of tomorrow. I will mentally put those boxing gloves on (physically put them on tomorrow) and hit back

I will do as the song Heather Richardson and I wrote…..

“dig deep, find strength, and trust. And throw that First Punch”

But……. first I will reflect on a line that Heather and I wrote in another song that I hope you all will be hearing her beautifully sing sometime soon…….

” Today is marked by a ribbon of tears to close the chapter of” my counseling years.

Good-bye —
ZCS

Hello —
New Chapter

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Why? First Punch for Kids with Challenges

The past seven years for me has been an incredible journey. I have been to a place that I never dreamed I would go. I have experienced a world right in front of me that struggles to fit in, keep up, and is often on the sidelines of life. My journey has been a spinal tumor, spinal cyst, and finally a Parkinson’s diagnosis through which I have discovered a whole new world of pain, struggle, fear, healing, acceptance, beauty, and joy. It is the world of the disabled or those with special needs.

From 2010 – 2015 I lived in that world as I watched and experienced my body succumb to the attacks of Parkinson’s. Slowly, my body began to stiffen and fail. I was losing my balance, my movement, my strength, and my smile. On July 28, 2015 I visited a doctor who prescribed for me a new medication. Miraculously, in one hour after being on that medication, I came back from my journey and the experience of being disabled. Although, I still have the same diagnosis, I am back to my almost fully functional self. There is no cure for Parkinson’s. I will most likely regress someday. I write this to you today because I sit here with the gift of my health back for an undetermined amount of time. Praise God.

For a while I have stepped out of the world of disability, but I cannot leave my friends behind. My friends are the little ones with challenges who I would see in the halls of the schools where I have worked for 24 years as a school counselor. I now have an amazing window into their world, our world in reality.

Our purpose for the First Punch Boxing for Kids with Challenges is to bridge that gap and bring strength and hope and to give kids the courage to step up and battle the challenges they face in their world.

I am a funny, fun, in love with life person. Parkinson’s tried to steal that from me. Parkinson’s lost. Hope won. The fear is gone. I want to share this hope with kids experiencing challenges in their lives.

I have so many people for whom I am thankful and so many more to whom I need to reach out and help.

Will you partner with us to fund this pilot program for the summer of 2017?

Let’s make it happen!

FIRST PUNCH – Noncontact Boxing for Kids with Challenges https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/147552517/first-punch-noncontact-boxing-for-kids-with-challe

Coming to the Surface

Sometimes reality makes me come to the surface and truly face what is happening in my brain. That is what happened yesterday at my appointment with my neurologist. From the moment he walked in the door, I knew he was analyzing my every move, word, and expression. He was looking for signs of regression, and that makes me have to face for a moment the physical changes that are slowly happening to me. At these times I feel like I can’t tread water or swim fast enough to get away from the raw reality of it.

I knew going into this appointment that I have noticed that my meds were not working as well. I guessed there was some regression, but yesterday I had to face it, grieve it, and feel it. It was a hard day.

This morning the sun is shining. I hear the birds singing, and I plan on living today to the fullest.

…… And I plan to submerge myself in the tranquility of denial, not denial that I have Parkinson’s.Today I will drown myself in the comfort that it does not define me. I will deny this disease any power over me. Today I will push back any fear that has resurfaced and focus on the beautiful routine of the day.

Today I will drift and let the current pull me far away from any negativity and closer to my creator. Today I will trust my God. Today I will quit fighting the undertow of faith and belief in a bigger plan than I can see. There is a bigger and plan than pain and suffering.

That is until July 25, my next neurologist appointment. Then I will have to resurface again, but only for a day!

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A Story I’ve Always Wanted to Share

Believe!

It was a walk I will always remember. My grandmother had just died and I was distraught about her death and my failure to be a witness to her. My grandma who I had never known to go to church and never speak openly of faith, died at age 91. It had always puzzled me, my dad’s side of the family. There could not be more loving, giving, caring people. Growing up I always wanted to ask my grandma about Jesus, but I never could find the courage. The only evidence I ever saw of a faith was a cheap plastic framed picture of Jesus that hung on my grandma’s wall in her small bedroom. I hadn’t been in that room for many years.

The last time I saw my grandma was in a hospital room. She was battling a blood clot in her lung and had an oxygen tube in her nose. At one moment she was with us. Then she would drift off for a minute and wake to say something a bit delusional that indicated for me that I only had one last chance to ask my grandma about Jesus. Did she love Jesus? She had just looked at my aunt and I and expressed her love for us all, so I thought this is my moment. I asked the question. “Grandma do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” She lifted her head and answered, “Jesus, is he the one who stole my purse?” My aunt looked at me mortified with an expression that said “what are you doing?” I left that hospital room humiliated and embarrassed. She died that night.

The next day God and I battled on a long walk. I remember the sky being particularly clear and beautiful, and I looked up and had a conversation with him in my mind. “I can’t do this. I am a shy person. It’s just who I am. I have prayed for her for years. You let me down. Now I will never know. Do not ask me to share my faith with anyone ever again!” Those were some of my rantings and accusations I threw at God on that walk. What I heard in return was “go into her room.” At the time I didn’t have a profound understanding that God had just spoken to me. Now that I look back, I know it was God because– I argued with him. “Oh no, a cheaply framed picture of Jesus on a bedroom wall does not mean you have given your life to Jesus.” “Go into her room” is what I heard. Would that picture hanging on her wall give me peace? I thought not!

A few days later after her funeral, I sat among a gathering of family and friends in my grandma’s living room. I thought maybe I would find comfort in looking at that picture on her wall, but I really doubted it. I was nervous when I asked if it would be ok to go in her room. I didn’t know why.

As I opened the door to her bedroom, my heart was pounding and I looked to the wall in front of me where I remember the picture being. My hope plummeted as I saw a mirror hanging where that picture had been. “See, it’s not even there,” I threw at God in my mind with contempt.

When I spun around to go back out the door, I froze. There it was, the picture I remembered. It was surrounded by three more pictures of Jesus in different settings. There were several crosses on the wall, bible verses stuck in the door frame, an angel pin I had once given her, dried palm leaves that her other grandchildren had brought her after Palm Sunday services, and statues of Jesus. I had to take a second look to make sure that it was not a tribute to Elvis. In that fleeting moment while I stood frozen, I know this sounds crazy, but I felt a flutter, and I know an angel stood behind me whispering in my ear, “Your grandma is fine. This is for you. Your grandma is fine.”

The moment was over when my dad barged in the room. I pointed at the wall and asked, “Why didn’t I know this?” He just laughed and said, “Oh, your grandma always loved Jesus.” I just smiled and took that picture and walked out of the room.

I have always wanted to tell this story even though it makes me sound crazy.
I may never have that kind of experience again, but it had a profound effect on my faith. God has such a sense of humor. I just know that he and my grandma are laughing and loving the moment when she told me that Jesus stole her purse! Believe!

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