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

Mom Wut?

Some things of your youth should not ever be resurrected. That’s what we discovered when I purchased a used French horn about a year ago.

One of the many non-motor ways Parkinson’s affects me is my voice volume. Common words from my husband are “what, I can’t hear you, you have to talk louder.” Remembering my glory days of fighting to remain in first chair position as a fine-tuned French horn player in high school, I thought bringing the beautiful sound of this instrument that adds depth to so many songs as an accompany instrument was the answer. I read that playing an instrument could strengthen muscles and help with voice volume, and it’s true. I forgot that there were a lot of um, pa, pa’s played by the French horn in most songs as the flutes had the main melodies. Oh, but there was Tchaikovsky. I envisioned playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with the same precision as when I did in high school. In this piece, the French horn finally gets its glorious moment taking center stage of that grand song commemorating Russia’s victory over France.

Mr. Eric Wainscott, beloved band director of my youth, I hope you get to see this video. From the moment in the 5th grade when you helped me select this instrument that would be part of my life, it has strengthened me. Mainly, from all of those years lugging it back and forth each day from school, as I enviously watched my flute playing friends tuck their instruments under their arms and skip home. But I also learned from this instrument that most of life is spent as accompaniment — in the background. The world doesn’t revolve around me as usually it didn’t in songs for the French horn — except for in the Overture of 1812.
Just like Russia battled France as portrayed in Tchaikovsky’s song, I will battle Parkinson’s. — it just may not be with playing the French horn.

My greatest victory is my three boys plus husband who lovingly endured my attempts at bringing back to life a time of my past history.

I love this video made by two of my three boys. The laughter it brings me, may not do much for my voice volume, but it strengthens my soul.

So good-bye French horn. Thank you for the life lessons and memories.

Strong in Every Way

Zionsville Schools in Indiana are led by Dr. Scott Robison superintendent. He has launched a campaign in our community called “Strong in Every Way.” Why?

Before I knew this man, his very presence intimidated me. He was the one who made the tough decisions. The buck stopped with him. Then I had the privilege to get to know him in an unconventional way. In the winter of 2016, I nervously invited him to attend a kindness benefit concert sponsored by my elementary school. I discovered what most people do not know about him. Zionsville Schools’ superintendent is an extremely talented piano player and songwriter. He is very shy about this, and I promised to tell no one. Well, not only did I blab to everyone I know, I coerced him into performing at that concert. He performed a song that he had written for his students years ago as a young classroom teacher. Here I go again telling about his hidden talent. More than the musical talent, I learned under the exterior of leadership that takes hits every day and has to make the difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions, is a man who loves kids. He is a champion for the underdog, and I believe that this is the heart of where the Strong in Every Way initiative was born. I believe that his heart breaks when he hears about any tragedy that involves the youth of our community.

Is “Strong in Every Way” too lofty of a goal? Yes, it is for one person. No one person can be strong in every way. However, if we come together as a community, like pieces of a puzzle, we can fill in the gaps for each other in our time of need.

What I think he is asking us to do right now is to open our eyes. Start looking around us. Be aware of our own strengths and start noticing where we can reach out help those around us.

Strong in Every Way? No, not for one single person, but for a community that cares, yes!

After raising three boys in Zionsville, I can tell you that the support my sons received from teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches, volunteers, neighbors, grandparents, business owners, friends, etc. was priceless.

It is possible for us to come together and be “Strong in Every Way.”
Thanks, Dr. Robison, for taking a chance, starting an initiative, and challenging us all.
……and, Dr. Robison, I’m sorry I broke the promise again and shared with just a few more people about your songwriting talent.

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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