THANKSGIVING: A time for family, not for SHOPPING.

It’s almost been a year since the last Black Friday I worked. What I can tell you is that working Black Friday isn’t a piece of cake; it never has been.

When I’d learned the mall was opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, I couldn’t believe my ears. The only thought running through my mind; what happened to family time?

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What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Food for thought:

If you bumped into your 16-year-old self, what would you tell him / her how life turns out at the age you are now?

I bumped into an image on facebook the other day asking “What would you tell your 16-year-old” self at the age you are now. It strikes a nerve when you look back over the odd sum of years since that moment when you turned that sweet 16 number and thought everything in the world was going to change.

I’m 25, and what I would tell myself is a book.

Sixteen-year-old Staci. I cannot say that there aren’t regrets in your life, that there hasn’t been heartache. I can say that you have survived it all.

What I can tell you is that through all that – you have survived everything life has given you and you will continue to survive because that is who you are.

What I can tell you is that you should never lose faith in the good of other people – you may think it is a weakness, but it is also an asset. Do not lose your compassion and thought that even the people who do things to hurt you deserve just as much happiness as you.

Always remember that God is by your side. Always remember that decisions, though made for who knows what reason, are decisions that are made. You cannot change anything but learn, and grow and fix them along the way. Regret will eat at your soul – so don’t allow it into your life.

Four Years Ago ….

Have you ever heard of the new app “Time Hop”? — it links to your Facebook and twitter accounts (and more if you allow it) and shows you posts from the past so-many-years.

This week has been an especially hard one for me – as not only do I remember this week from four years ago, but I also see my time hop revealing to me all of the events of that weekend four years ago.

As some know and many others do not, four years ago, this week, was the weekend that my Grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

It had been an avid smoker for years – in fact, in all of my years of living (at the time he had been diagnosed) – I could never remember a time when he wasn’t a smoker. My grandpa had said he’d been smoking since high school (or a little bit later that that). Back in the early 1960s before anyone really knew what smoking did to your body – the ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ thing.

The night before my grandpa was taken to the hospital by my grandma; she had called me and told me about some of the things going on with my grandpa. He just wasn’t responding like he usually did and he couldn’t remember things – like names, birthdays….what he was doing.

In fact, it had run through my mind – during that conversation – whether or not grandpa was showing signs of dementia.

On November 4, I Tweeted “Please pray for my grandpa…”

That school year – my first semester of my senior year – I didn’t have classes on Fridays. Early that morning my dad called me….and to this day I still remember the words he said to me.

“Your grandpa just found out he has cancer…..”

November 5: Please pray for my Grandpa. My family just found out today that he has lung cancer, but we aren’t sure what stage it is at.

Dead silence. In that moment I could only think of one thing; getting home to my grandparents, to my dad and to the rest of my family.

My brother, Derek, was attending the same college as me at that time. He came over to my room as soon as he could and we brainstormed ways to get home to Northern Indiana – we were in Indianapolis, four hours away.

He was looking into carpooling with one of our friends, and I was looking into just renting a car and driving there ourselves. Anyway we could get home, we would.

In the end, our friend Amanda took us home.

We didn’t arrive in Goshen until 8 o’clock. My brother and I rushed into my grandparents house, dropped our bags and climbed into my dad’s Dodge Dakota and took off for Elkhart General Hospital.

Got home at seven and went to the hospital right after putting my things in the house… Saw Gpa – he still has his sense of humor, he’s just very upset. Keep him in your prayers that the swelling in his brain goes down so they can do surgery and get ride of the tumor that’s there.

I don’t even remember what time we got home from the hospital that night. I do remember my Grandma – at my Grandpa’s side through it all. She didn’t budge from the hospital or his room. She didn’t dare to.

November 6: Just got home from Elkhart General — we will be going back again tonight. Going to wash Grandpa’s robe 0 he was walking around with his snuggie around him. lol.

Some of the events from that weekend are still a blur to me. I can remember the waiting room and all of my family surrounding my grandpa’s hospital bed. I can remember some of the jokes that we would all laugh at to try and ease the tension and worry looming in the back of our minds.

Because of the tumor, my grandpa would become frustrated when we would ask him questions. He knew the answers, but they just wouldn’t come out right. He would groan and pinch his fingers together in frustration. At times, the only words he could say were ‘Yep’ and ‘Nope’.

November 7: Grandpa has brain surgery tomorrow on the mass on the left side at 5 p.m. He’ll have an MRI early tomorrow, for a 3-D image for the Dr’s to see. Will be at the hospital all night. It’s a 2-3 hour surgery; 1 1/2 – 2 hour prep before. Grandpa will be in the ICU and then moved back to the 4th floor at some point; depends on how he takes the surgery. I just pray everything goes well and can start chemo and radiation on his other brain mass and lung.

We were all restless that night. I remember only sleeping because I was so exhausted from the early mornings and the late nights. I don’t remember eating, either. I just remember the 4th floor of Elkhart General Hospital, the lounge on that floor and the jokes my brother and grandpa would make about the cute nurse at the counter who ‘might be just a little bit older than you, Derek.’

I also remember my brother daring my grandma to get the girls phone number for him. I can’t remember why they dared each other, but in the end, my Grandma really did get the phone number. (Grandpa was proud and encouraged Derek to call her). I remember the look on Grandpa’s face. Worried, yet glad my brother and I were there, and somewhat sad that my big sister, Ann was stuck in NY and couldn’t come home. — We’d had to keep her filled on on the phone and through text messages.

It was hard all around. As the doctors found out more and more about Grandpa’s cancer – it seemed a cloud would stoop lower and lower.

I remember the night my Grandpa had his surgery. The pastor from Grace Community Church – Jim Brown – had visited my Grandpa’s room sometime that weekend (I can never remember when) with his wife, Anne. He prayed for my Grandpa, and that was when my Grandpa developed a closer relationship with God.

We all knew what the surgery meant – that he might not come out of it.

When the nurse came in to wheel away my Grandpa, he looked at all of us. There were tears welling in his eyes and I could read the look on his face.
As they wheeled him away we all went to the waiting room on the first floor ….and we waited.

Derek and I watched movies on my iPod. It was the only thing we could do to keep us from going stir crazy. We listened to music, tried joking with family to lighten the mood. I remember my uncle stepping outside to take smoke breaks and all I’d wanted to do at that moment was smack him for smoking.

And, every time the phone rang in that room – my grandma ran to it. They would call if something went wrong or if he was in the recovery room.

And, every time that phone rang, it wasn’t for our family.

I can never remember how many hours went by. I just remember the fact that it seemed like forever…. hours felt likes months.

It was when the doctor came in and told us everything went well, I could feel a cloud lift from that room. We all secretly heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Grandpa was in recovery for another couple of hours, and when they finally moved him into the ICU wing, there were only a certain amount of people allowed at a time.

It was a long and grueling wait until I got to see my Grandpa.

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Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that weekend, that I don’t think about my family sitting in my Grandpa’s hospital room all trying to laugh and make light of the situation. I remember the emails I had to send my professors – that my Grandpa was sick and I didn’t know when he would be home. Having to tell all of my friends and not being able to have my sister there with my brother and me.

Irony is a funny thing. Not even a couple of weeks before everything happened, both my brother and I had decided to stay in Indiana for Christmas that year. (My mom lived in NY at the time, since 2007, and we’d been juggling back and forth between Indiana and NY since then – and I had gone over seas one year, as well.) We had both decided to stay home for thanksgiving and Christmas to spend it with our Grandpa, Grandma and Dad; almost as if God was preparing us for a different holiday season.

Irony is funny. Dad had just started dating a woman at that time, Debbie. Who was trying to quite smoking as well. Upon seeing my Grandpa for the first time, she stopped right then and there.

God works in mysterious ways, I suppose. And every time this time of year comes around I can’t help but think of my Grandpa. I can’t help but think of the year he went through radiation and Chemo. I can’t help but think of the news we had received when his body was no longer accepting the Chemo and radiation treatments. When I got that call not even a week before thanksgiving, from my dad, that my Grandpa wasn’t doing so well and I needed to go home.

I can’t help but think of the time in December on 12/11/2014 when my family was informed that my mom’s brother had suddenly passed away and the very next day to get a call from my dad that morning that my Grandpa was gone.

I really didn’t get to know my Grandpa until I was a teenager. It was during a transition time in my life. My mom had switched us from a methodist church in Syracuse – a neighboring town – to Grace Community Church. I wasn’t comfortable going to Wednesday night youth groups – and my grandparent’s lived not even a ‘block’ from the church. So every Wednesday night, she would take Derek to church, and drop me at my grandparent’s house. I’d eat dinner with Grandpa and Grandma and then Grandpa and I would watch old re-runs of CSI, or Law and Order … or NCIS…. Crime shows. It was our thing. And we would beg Grandma to make us tapioca pudding. In fact, I remember a trip we took to someplace near Shipshewana, and we begged Grandma to buy a tub of tapioca beads. Well come to find out the big tub we thought would only make one batch was too much. She ended up only using a cup of the beads and the tub was like 12 cups!!!

It’s been almost three years since my Grandpa passed, four years since we found out about his cancer. I still remember it like it was yesterday – the ton of bricks that it was……

What you didn’t know about the girl next door.

That girl. Yes, you know her. The one you grew up next door to. There’s somethings you didn’t know about her.

The girl next door:

  • Although looks are important to her (e.g. how she looks when she goes out in public) – you will always find that she is not a superficial person. She will dress up for special occasions, but loves that jeans-n-tshirt look with her fav pair of chucks. She’s comfortable walking around with her hair in a pony-tail or simply down and loose. She doesn’t wear a lot of makeup – just enough to accentuate her best facial features (usually it’s her eyes).
  • Her idea of a perfect date is either. (1) laying underneath the stars (2) a bonfire (3) staying home and watching one of yours, or her, favorite movie.
  • She doesn’t want you to spend tons of money on her – she is perfectly content with it just being you and her – i.e. dinner out or a movie. She does like it every once-in-a-while but never expects it.
  • She is giving. No matter how little she has in her bank account, she is a giving person. Doing what she can to make you happy, and never expects anything in return.
  • You can surprise her and she won’t get mad.
  • You can catch her without her makeup, and she doesn’t hide behind closed doors.
  • She eats. She likes food. This is not a downfall, it is a triumph. She will never worry about not eating because she is comfortable enough in her own skin – and she can eat in front of you with out nervous jitters.
  • She’s always honest – she can’t hold her tongue for anything. A downfall, but you will know she’ll never be two-faced.
  • She is a once-in-a-lifetime find.

You are not what everyone thinks.

beautyisonlyskindeep

 

Stereotypes, name calling, bullying, intimidating words all designed to make us feel low about ourselves. These are ways the devil creeps into our hearts and tries to convince us that we are less than what we really are. Read More…

Myth or Fact?

There’s this re-occuring thought that has been reverberating through my head for quite some time now. Through all the haze of relationships, ‘getting to know yous’ and the like, is there such a thing as finding “the one”?

Myth or fact?

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The dating pool got a whole lot harder, my friends.

After 25 years of life, and having dated quite a few guys, I have come to the conclusion that I am still as clueless about dating as I was when I was 15 and naïve.

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