Sunday, August 24, 2014

Simple Things on a Sunday





























This is like my motto in life right now: to patiently let my pile of good things grow :)

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Some Prayers and the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge



I love the people here. Have I told you that yet? Because I do…. and I know I can come to you for support and love-- even for perfect strangers.

So, today, may I ask a big favor of you?

My friend, one who've I've known nearly my whole life, one is has always been so supportive of me, this blog and Togetherness, needs your prayers. Even though you don't know her… will you pray for her? And if you don't pray, will you send your positive vibes and healing and hope to her?

About a month ago, her mom was held up in a freak hostage/ home invasion situation in Las Vegas and was shot. She has been fighting for her life ever since.

Last night, life-support was removed and my dear friend has lost her mother.

I cannot comprehend it. I cannot fathom it. She lost her mother because of another person's grave and very reckless choice.

Please pray for my friend Rhianon. 

Please pray for comfort during a time when comfort is probably hard to find.

I know it will mean a lot to her…. and if you can leave a comment here, I'm sure she'd appreciate that too. I'm going to email her and tell her people everywhere are praying for her.






















I love you Rhianon. May angels surround and carry you and your family during such a devastating time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.

***

Also, for anyone who is interested, I accepted the Ice-Bucket challenge :) The water was absolutely FRIGID and Little Dude loved every single minute of dumping it on my head. I actually plan to donate, too, because I know that even the smallest amounts can help the lives of so many people. You see, last year, another dear friend of mine lost his father to a short but very CHALLENGING battle with ALS… so for my friend, and all those fighting, I will donate.

If you want to see the video of me being immersed in ICE WATER, PLEASE go to The Togetherness Project's FACEBOOK page, watch it, and see who I nominated :) And if you appreciate what we do, will you LIKE Togetherness's Facebook page, too?

Pretty please? 

It's not embarrassing.

It doesn't label you or your husband.

More than anything else, it's about WOMEN EMPOWERMENT and HEALING!

So please, help us grow by LIKING our page :)

***

Some tough stuff today… I know it's heavy… and my heart hurts for all those who are hurting… from ALS, to freak hostage/ home invasions, to addiction, to divorce, to depression, to the loss of a loved one, to cancer, etc.

Life is so hard at times.

And it seems so unfair.

But we are all in this together! I believe that with every fiber of my being! And together, we can help support and heal one another. Even if we don't understand completely and maybe we don't even relate at all? But finding that innate compassion and love for others in their time of need, in their difficulties, in their hurts, is what life is all about, I think.

Have wonderful weekend everyone.

xoxo

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Simple Things on a Sunday





























As my wise 6 year old said on our walk home from school on Friday:

"Life's meant to move forward, not backwards."

Smart little man. 

To always moving forward!

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

xoxox

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Brene Brown's Shame Resiliency Class

Arizonians!

I am so excited to tell you about something! In the last 8 months or so, I have become really good friends with a woman named Angie Whitman.


She's smart, she's funny, she's beautiful, she's been through her own hard times so she is 100% relatable, oh, and did I mention she's a therapist who specifically deals with betrayal trauma right here in Arizona? Because she is! :)

She presented at The Togetherness Project's Phoenix event in April.



She's GIVING BACK with Bright Effects.

Everyone who has her as a therapist have told me that they LOVE her!

She's just an amazing person and friend.

Annnnnd, now she's offering Shame Resiliency class (based off of principles of the beloved Brene Brown) that will no doubt be life changing!

SO! For anyone who is looking for something like this (shouldn't we ALL be?), please check out the details on the flyer below or you can email Angie at awhitman@familystrategies.org  :)

Wishing you all a wonderful Thursday today!

It's going to be a GREAT DAY!




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Name is Emily, and I am the Mother of a Miracle





























It was Tuesday, August 13, 2013.

The late morning sun was hot in the cloudless blue sky. The water felt cool and refreshing. Shouts of joy and laughter could be heard in between the almost constant splashing.


Trips to the pool were a regular thing for me and my 3 kids. It helped to pass the long, hot summer days, allowed the kids to play with their friends, and provided us with an ample dose of Vitamin D.
My oldest boy, Krew, was a good swimmer. He had graduated from the trusted floaties, and I was confident in his ability to navigate our neighborhood pool which, at it's deepest point, was 5 feet. My second child, Sway (who was 4 years-old at the time), was still dependent on floaties. In fact, if I ever suggested that he try to swim without them, he would get nervous and hang on to me for dear life. He never got into the water without floaties. My youngest, Nixyn, was only 1, so of course she required my constant attention during our pool trips.

Krew and Sway were good about looking after each other, usually stayed together, and more often than not had a handful of friends with them. I was ALWAYS there with my children. I would never leave them unattended at the pool. Granted, my eyes weren't constantly glued to all 3 of them every single second we were there, but I always made sure that I knew where they were.

On this particular morning, I had 2 girl friends with me, and we were hanging out in the shallow end with our littlest kids who still needed our constant supervision. I remember looking over at the hot tub to see my 2 boys having a joyful time with their friends Once I knew where they were and what they were doing, my attention went back to my youngest and the conversation I was having with my friends.
It's amazing how fast your world can fall apart.

Just a few short minutes later, I hear "SOMEONE IS DROWNING!!!" 

I look over to the deep end of the pool just in time to see a boy pushing a lifeless body out of the water. All it took was a quick glance before I recognized the print on Sway's swimsuit. He was the lifeless body. I grabbed my little girl, screamed at the top of my lungs "THAT'S MY BABY!!!!", and ran as fast as I could to the other side of the pool. That was my child, lying limp and completely blue on the deck of the pool... shock and pure terror coursed through my body.

The moment I reached him I knew I only had 2 options -- I could let my little boy die (if he wasn't already dead), or I could use what little CPR knowledge I had and try to revive him. The first option was out of the question. It was actually more of a fleeting thought than an actual choice. I wasn't confident in my ability, but I knew what I had to do. I dropped to my knees. I lifted Sway's small chin with one hand, plugged his nose with the other, and used my shaky breath to try to breathe life back into his fragile little body. I could hear his lungs inflate and then deflate. I had no idea if what I was doing was working, but I couldn't give up. My friends gave me strength and encouragement, and called 911 while I desperately tried and pleaded for my little boy to breath again.

As you can probably imagine, I wasn't really aware of anything going on around me as I was performing CPR on Sway. The only things I noticed: a lady I didn't even know holding and trying to comfort Nixyn, and Krew screaming and crying behind me, "THAT'S MY BROTHER!!! MY BESTEST BROTHER!!" I can still hear the heartbreak and fear in his desperate voice. And I can only imagine how horrified he must have been to witness his brother in that condition.

After what felt like an eternity, I finally received my first ray of hope. I heard it -- a small, raspy intake of air come from the small body in front of me. It was so faint that I was unsure it even happened. So I gave him one more breath. And I heard it again. YES! He was breathing. Barely. It was at this point that the police, paramedics, and firemen arrived. I was quickly pulled away as they took over. In a split second I went from crouching over my sons lifeless body to having him completely blocked from my view by 4 men who had much more knowledge of what they were doing than I did. The gravity of the situation started to sink it. This didn't feel real. My body was shaking, despite the heat. I quickly called my husband, Mikel, and with a shaky voice yelled into the phone that Sway had drowned. I didn't know for sure if he was alive or going to be okay. Thankfully, Mikel was available to come home immediately, and he arrived just as Sway's body was being loaded into the back of the ambulance. He quickly jumped in, and we were off. It wasn't long before I heard commotion in the back. Sway was screaming, and his little body was thrashing all over. I felt a slight glimmer of hope -- he was alive! And he was obviously breathing if he was able to throw a fit like that. But I still had so many questions in my mind... Yes, he was alive, but was there anything wrong? Would there be lasting affects? Would there be brain damage? Would he still be our Sway... that bouncy, stubborn, independent, animated, full of life little 4 year-old that we adored??

What I didn't know at the time, and thinking back - it was probably a blessing that I was pretty clueless - was that it's very possible and likely for children in serious drowning incidents to die, even after their bodies begin to breath again and they regain consciousness. As we would learn later, the doctors and nurses at the hospital didn't think Sway would make it.

When we arrived at the hospital, Sway was still screaming and thrashing, but he wasn't conscious. He had no idea what was going on. Soon after our arrival the Bishop from our faith joined my husband in giving our son a blessing. There was a moment during that blessing where Sway's body relaxed, and he was calm. He was still unconscious, but he was no longer screaming and writhing around.























Tests were then run -- a CT scan, chest x-ray, and blood tests. Thankfully, the CT and x-ray came back mostly clear. There was a little bit of water in one of Sway's lungs, but there was no visible damage to his brain. The blood tests on the other hand, were not so hopeful. All of the levels that they checked were off... way off... indicating that Sway's body had pretty much shut down because no oxygen was available. Medically, Sway shouldn't have survived and recovered like he did. 

He is a miracle.

He remained unconscious for the next few hours, while Mikel and I pleaded with him to wake up. To hear us. To come back. For a moment, my fear switched from Sway's condition to my husband. I could see the undeniable grief and despair as he watched his middle child lay lifeless on the hospital bed. I knew Sway had to come back. If not for me, then for his dad. If I would have lost one, I would have lost both of them that day.

As the afternoon progressed, and Sway still remained unconscious, we were told that he needed to be transferred to a hospital with a pediatric unit. There was little more the hospital we were currently at could do. The decision was made to fly him up to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Because of my husbands background in the medical field, his ability to keep calm in stressful situations, and the special bond he's always had with his son, we decided he would fly in the airplane with Sway. That left me with a very hard task -- I had to leave the hospital without them. Without knowing what was going to happen. But it was time to return home, collect my other children from my dear friends who took them without a second thought, and drive up to Salt Lake to meet Mikel and Sway at Primary Children's. Thankfully I would have some help. My mother-in-law had left her home and made the 2 hour drive to us when she heard the news. She drove me, Krew, and Nixyn to Salt Lake.






















Those few hours that Mikel was on the plane with Sway were torturous. Since I had no communication with them, I tried to keep busy. I put out a plea on facebook for prayers, faith, good vibes, thoughts, etc.. for our darling little Sway. And I have no doubt that the response I got played a part in the miracle we witnessed that day. Friends, family, and strangers everywhere were pulling for our son. The response was overwhelming. A few days later I would share the story on my blog. It reached more people than I thought possible. Days, weeks, and months later, we were still hearing stories of prayers and acts of service offered in our behalf. It was truly amazing and humbling to know that so many people would care enough to take a second of their day to think of and/or pray for the recovery of my baby.

During our drive up to Salt Lake, I remember looking out the window at the mountains, and I said to my mother-in-law, "I don't know why, or what's going to happen, but I feel calm and at peace." It was not long after that that I received a text informing me Mikel and Sway landed in Salt Lake. It said that Sway was awake and responsive!! After being unconscious for 7+ hours, our boy was awake!! I was thrilled!






















As we neared the hospital my anxiety levels rose again -- I was so anxious to see my son and husband, but I also had so many unanswered questions running through my mind.

When I walked into the hospital room, my darling little 4 year-old - weak, confused, tears in his eyes - looked up at me and said, "Hi mom." My heart just about burst. I knew he was going to be okay! There we were, all together, our family of 5. Sway was alive! I was beginning to realize that what had happened that day was truly a miracle!!

Sway only had to stay one night in the hospital for monitoring. During that night he experienced some short term memory loss that caused some worry, but it never became a huge cause for concern. His blood tests looked better and better, and 24 hours after the horrific experience occurred, we were cleared to leave.

As I tell this story, it wouldn't be right to leave out one very important person -- the boy who found Sway and pushed him out of the pool. To our family, he is a hero! The day after we returned to our home, we had the privilege of meeting this brave boy and his family. I didn't know them before this incident. The fact that they were even at the pool the day it happened was a miracle itself. They were able to answer some of the questions I was still unsure of, and provide that last little bit of calming peace and reassurance that I needed. My heart will forever be grateful to this family, and especially the boy who noticed Sway in the water, realized something wasn't right, and yelled for help while pushing his body out of the pool. 


Sway hugging the boy who found him in the pool




























After surviving (literally on Sway's part) what could have been a horrific tragedy  we still had to recover. Sway's behavior regressed quite dramatically for the first few weeks, and Krew was quite traumatized from witnessing this whole terrifying scene first hand, but we were beyond thankful for all of the love, support, and miracles that we had witnessed.

I still don't know, to this day, why Sway survived. I often question why we were so lucky?  Especially when I hear of other stories where children die tragically. My heart hurts for these parents. Yes, I experienced pure horror on that day that Sway drowned, but he survived. I still have my son. And I thank God every single day that he is still with us. He lights up our life and completes our family. My heart is full of gratitude.



Today, exactly one year later, Sway is a vibrant, talented boy full of energy. From what we can tell, there are no lasting side affects from his drowning. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that life is so fragile and can change in the blink of an eye.

Tragedies can happen so fast! 

Every single second that I get to spend with my children is a blessing. 
























*Please remember that it takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to share our stories. The purpose of this series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow.  Emily will be reading the comments and I know she'd love to hear from you... please reach out and give her your love today! She also has a BLOG you can follow HERE and a most recent post HERE (that discusses her healing, anxieties of summing again and flashbacks of that difficult day).

*Emily, I remember this exact day last year. I was terrified for you all, absolutely terrified (a mother's worst nightmare, really), but so so so grateful and relieved when I learned that he lived! But what I remember the very most was reading your blog in the days to follow and how much strength, humility, gratitude and love you carried with you during such an uncertain, vulnerable time. Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding me that every second is a blessing. Every single second! May God continue to watch over you and your sweet little family ;)

(Read more stories of inspiring women in the "My Name is" series, HERE)


 Follow My Name is Jacy on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM to stay up to date and for future posts :) 

XOXO




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bright Effects!

You guys! I have such a FUN announcement today!




















Remember my beautiful friend Shay over at Bright Stripes Blog? Well, we have become really great friends, like pretty much BFF's, and for the last 3 months or so, we have been busy working on a little project that we are FINALLY ready to launch!

I can't wait to spill the beans!

It's called...






and we have teamed up with some of the very BEST (and our favorite!) professionals in Arizona to provide a day of pampering, friendship, healing, and beauty. And for a few lucky ladies each month, it's going to be FREE!

How amazing is that?


So… without further ado… here are the Bright Effects we're going to spoil a few ladies with:

  • A small support group style therapy session led by Angie Whitman, LAC of Family Strategies to talk about whatever is needing processing in our lives.

  • A place to push our limits, try something new, and sweat it out in a private Pilates class led by studio owner Melissa Olsen at  Core Body Pilates.

  • A delicious lunch at Kneaders Cafe in Gilbert, donated by owner Josh Tycksen.

  • A hair trim/cut and style by the ever so talented Thom Hlavin from Epic Salon to clean us up and give us a new look.

  • A makeover by the beautiful Nella Brenner

  • And to top it all off, we'll have a private photoshoot to capture the lovely and brightness of you by the gifted photographer Shannon Worley (who took our pictures above :)


Doesn't this sound just deliciously refreshing and awesome!? TWO lucky ladies in August will be selected to be the recipients of such a special and unique day

Our first Bright Effects date will take place on Saturday, August 30th and will likely be from 12:00 o'clock noon to about 6:00 pmShay and I will be both there throughout the day and joining in on the good times :)

If you'd like to participate OR know someone who needs something like this right now, please email us at brightstripesblog@gmail.com and tell us a little bit more about you and why you'd like to join in on the fun!


Our goal with Bright Effects is to bring some BRIGHTNESS into our lives- because, let's be honest, no matter who you are, what your experiences have been, or what phase of life you find yourself in now, who couldn't use a little bit more light? 

Hooray!


P.S. This day is for anyone, any age… all we ask is that you live in the PHOENIX, ARIZONA area, are female, can travel to Gilbert AZ and over 18 years old :)

And DON'T BE BASHFUL! This day was created for YOU, so APPLY! :)





Friday, August 8, 2014

Recognizing When We're Wrong





























Last night, I sent Little Dude upstairs to have a quick shower (something he has learned to do quite independently). He knows how to set the water just to the perfect temperature before getting in, he knows exactly where to wash (EVERYWHERE! Because he's a sweaty 6 year old boy :), and he knows to immediately get his jammies on and brush his teeth afterwards. And then every single night, after he does all of these things, he either sneaks downstairs to where Seth and I are, jumps around the corner and says "BOO! I'm ready!" or he runs to the top of the stairs and yells down "Ready!"

Then we read our story, have "Worry Time" (which my friend Ashlynn taught me), and say our night nights.

Well, last night, things went a little bit different.

Little Dude started his shower and then ran to the stairs.

"Mom! The water is hot. Even when it's on cold, it's hot!"

I was busy doing something and yelled back up,

"Try finding a place in the middle."

"Mom, I can't! It's hot! I tried!"

"Little Dude, yes you can… you do it all the time. Just turn it to the middle."

"Mom! Seriously, I tried that."

Because I was so enthralled in whatever I was doing, I got frustrated.

"Little Dude!" I hollered as I was walking up the staircase, annoyed.

"What is going on!?"

He stood there, at the edge of the stairs, totally naked, his body wet and cold.

"I did what you said, Mom. It's not working."

He was on the verge of tears.

"Little Dude, all you have to do is put it in the middle, like you always do!" I said as we walked down the hall and back to the bathroom.

"Mooooooooooom" He said with a sad frustration.

I reached my hand in the shower, "like this, Little Dude" I said, and turned the handle to the middle.

The water stayed hot in the middle. Not piping hot, but fairly hot.

I turned it down again.

Still hot.

I turned it down some more.

Still hot.

I turned it down even more to where there was hardly any water pressure and it was on as blue as blue could get.

Still hot.

Little Dude stood in the shower, waiting to submerse himself.

He looked at me with a "confused and I wasn't lying to you, Mom" look.

In that moment, I had the choice of doing two things:

I could either

1) Brush aside how I had treated him, doubted him and made assumptions of his willingness to try just moments earlier and act like nothing had happened while I waited for the water to cool

OR

2) Acknowledge that I was wrong and correct my approach with him by leading by example.

Honestly, for a brief second, I didn't want to tell my 6 year old that I was wrong. I wanted to just blow it off and act like nothing had happened.

But I knew this was the immature and very wrong way to handle it.

I wouldn't want to be treated this way… so why should I treat my son that way?

And so, I looked into his big blue eyes, swallowed my pride, and as the water finally cooled after a few moments I said,

"Little Dude, please forgive me. I was mistaken. The water was hot and I am sorry I wasn't listening to what you were saying."

"Why was it hot?" he asked with a soft squeaky voice and a furrowed brow.

"It must be hot because the water has been sitting in the pipes all day under the hot asphalt. That's my guess. Regardless, I am sorry I treated you that way and didn't hear you."

Little Dude wiped his puppy dog tears away and immediately, I could see his little face lift. Everything about his aura changed. He went from feeling bullied and misunderstood to validated and respected in just a few seconds. The physical change in him was unmistakable.

"It's okay, Mom. That make sense about the water. I forgive you."

Our eyes locked, we both smiled, and then he grabbed the soap and started scrubbing and singing a tune that echoed off the shower walls.

I stood there in awe. What could have been a catastrophic moment for a kid with a tender heart, who also tends to hang onto things, had instead turned into a beautiful teaching moment for us both.

And then as he got out of the shower, he took me by surprise and said,

"So, the next time you say something that I don't believe and I am mistaken, I can say, "Please forgive me" and you then you can help me understand. Right, mom?"

Little Dude didn't know it, but it felt like a million fireworks were going off in that moment.

It was amazing and I cannot think of anything better than having the ability to turn around a negative situation that was caused by me in the first place.

Liberation.

Victory!

The thing I love about being a mom is that I don't have it all figured out. I never have… and I don't think I ever will. It's like Little Dude and I are both learning from another nearly every single minute. But I have to open to that… to learn as I go. And I think the key to successful learning in my relationships is being willing to recognize when I am in the wrong or mistaken, or how I can improve.

For so long, whenever there has been conflict in my life, I find that I spend most of my time ensuring that I am validated, acknowledged and heard…. and when I'm not, I get bitter, I close off and I limit growth. And while it IS, not doubt, important for me to feel respected in those specific ways, the question really is:

While I am searching, hoping and expecting for that type of respect from others, am I offering it in return? Am I willing to humble myself, set my pride aside, recognize my flaws and then validate, acknowledge and hear others?

It's hard.

And let's be honest, it's a work in progress.

But I love how much easier of a process it was for me this time around with my Little Dude.

And although it's HARDER to do at other times, with other people and in other very difficult situations, being accountable for my imperfections makes for a much easier resolution and such better relationships.


** I'd love any other thoughts or stories you may have on this. Have there been times when it's hard to recognize when you're wrong, but you did and made the situation so much better and easier to resolve? Please share! I think this stuff is so so so important to talk about… it lends to growth :)






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