So, I was doing a typical thing a lot of us do: multi-tasking. I ran down my basement stairs to quickly switch the laundry (as I have soooo many times before), and, whoops, my foot slipped (as it has soooooo many times before.) But, this time was different. I was 3 steps from reaching the bottom. And Zwooop! (that’s a word) I went down. I crumpled onto my poor foot and heard the very LOUD CRACK on the carpeted, concrete basement floor. The pain was so immediate and fierce that I suddenly thought, “OH MY GOD, PLEASE DON’T BE BROKEN!” I was sure I’d see a bone popping out. As I twisted myself around to see my foot, I was pleasantly surprised to see skin intact. Whew.
Nearly in tears, I hobbled back up the stairs, took 4 ibuprofen, and grabbed the ice pack from the freezer. I swallowed the pain killers, propped my leg up, and put it on ice. Once I was stationary, it didn’t hurt so much. I had dinner in the crockpot and my mom and sister were coming over later. I really didn't want to cancel. Plus, it didn’t hurt that bad at the moment. No need to rush to urgent care just yet. I figured I’ll wait and see how it feels the next day.
Fast forward through dinner and a lovely visit... I stayed off my poor foot and went to bed. At some crazy hour in the early a.m., my bladder called and I nearly cried as I hobbled the FIVE feet to my bathroom. Climbing back to bed the pain was excruciating. I knew I needed more ibuprofen and I dreaded having to make my way back to the medicine cabinet to get it. But, it was a necessary evil and about 30 minutes later the meds kicked in and I blissfully fell asleep.
I woke as usual to get ready for work but there was a massive power outage. We were told the office was closed until noon. Seeing how swollen my foot had become, I thought, Okay, Jules, go to the urgent care. So, I limped to my car and drove the quarter-mile to the urgent care around the corner from my house. After X-rays and waiting a ridiculous amount of time, the results were in: “ chipped bone/fracture.” They put a splint on my foot, wrapped it, and told me to follow up with an orthopedic doc. By this point, my office was already shut down for the day due to the power outage, so I called to schedule an appointment. Please get me in today, please get me in today…
Wishes DO come true. I got a 2:00 appointment. Thankfully, my oldest was available to help me pick up my crutches. After a quick meal, we parted ways and I drove myself to the orthopedic doctor.
Where I waited…
OH! I got in a room! YAY!
... and waited ...
... and waited.
… and waited.
Finally, the doctor came in! He was very nice, and I knew they squeezed me into the schedule, so I wasn’t too upset that I had to wait for what felt like 17 hours. He gently peeled off my bandages and splint, examined my foot, and informed me….
“Well. I don’t think it’s a chipped bone. This area often has calcified cartilage.
BUT… if it IS chipped, the treatment is the same. We’re putting you in a boot today. The GOOD news is, you’ll be feeling much better in about 2-3 weeks! Which is when I want to see you again.
And, he walked out. Um. Okay, bye doc?
They were clearly WAYYYY busy. And, the office manager, Michelle, was my savior, as she kept checking on me. Normally, I’d have to go to the nearby medical supply place to get fitted for the boot, but upon her realizing that I had driven myself, she said, “Oh goodness. Let me see if I can have them come to you.” 10 minutes later, she popped her head back in and said, “They can come here. Are you okay just hanging out here?”
Nodding, I replied, “Yep! I’m good! Thank you!”
About 45 minutes later, Noah enters with the boot. (Lots of instruction, and pain.)
Me: "Soooo, am I supposed to walk on this? Or … do I use the crutches?”
Noah: "Well what did your doctor say?"
Me: "He didn’t."
Noah: "Oh! Let’s find out."
A lot of looking around for the doc, and some jibberjabber later… I was, in fact, supposed to WALK wearing this thing.
Wait. WHAT the actual WHAT. The med tech who had checked me in walked by and said, “Yes, you’re supposed to walk on it.”
Not gonna lie, I was a tad uncouth when I said this outloud, “It hurts like a mother fucker.” (and no, i didn’t edit that) because, ouuuucchhhh.
She just laughed and replied, “YUP.”
I hobble to the check out with MIchelle. It was nearly 5 p.m. by now. They gave me a temporary handicap sticker thingy... But, I have to go to the secretary of state to fill it. (Contemplating if it’s worth it...Meh. I can walk. Or not. I’ll just not go anywhere…)
As I’m checking out, Michelle again suddenly realizes, “WAIT! You drove here by yourself?!?? How are you going to drive home?”
Looking down at my leg and it’s new stormtrooper-looking fashion accessory, I sighed and answered, “Yeah, I didn’t realize I was going to leave here looking like Robocop. I’ll take the boot off.”
Suck it up. You won’t die, Jules.
And, I didn’t. I got home. And my kids stepped up. I’ve got rides to and from work set up, and friends offered to help with anything I needed. Yeah, this injury sucks. But, it could’ve been worse. It can ALWAYS be worse. And, my amazing family, friends, and co-workers jumped in to help me. They are awesome. I am a lucky human. Never be too proud to depend on others. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t sweat the small stuff like waiting a ridiculous amount of time in waiting rooms. People can surprise you and we shouldn’t always be in such a hurry. After all, I was hurrying down the stairs to ‘hurry’ and switch the laundry, and look where that got me? The universe gave me the not-so-subtle hint, “Slow. Down. Jules.” So, I’m taking it easy for a few weeks and am looking forward to dancing a jig when I’m officially done with this boot. Thank you so much for all of the well-wishes!
The other night, as my kids gradually made their way home, I pondered how quickly my life is changing. As a mom of three kids ages 20, 19, and 17, this past year has made me cherish my fleeting time with them. They’re becoming independent young adults, with social lives, school, and jobs. They don’t need me so much anymore, and soon they’ll be moving out and living their own dreams and adventures. It’s funny how the small (seemingly boring) moments are what I hold on to and cherish so much.
Grace was lounging on the couch with me, watching anime (I was scrolling facebook because she was watching it IN Japanese with English subtitles. Ew.) Then, Jane arrived home from work at 7:30, warmed up leftovers, and chatted with us while eating at the table. Tired, she said goodnight at 8, hugged me, and went down to her room to relax and read before bed. Around 8:30, Adrian strolled in the front door after his shift at the hardware store and was followed by Grace’s boyfriend, who joined us on the couch, while Ade reheated dinner and took the seat where Jane was minutes before. We all casually chatted for a while before they went their own ways for the evening. It’s amazing to me that after being a mom for 20 years, my heart somehow still grows with love for these nuggets with each passing week. How is that even possible?
I remember when Jane, my oldest, was born. I was just instantly over the moon in love. When Grace came along 18 months later, I wondered how I could love them both sooo much. I couldn’t possibly have room for more. But it was there. When Adrian came two years after, I knew without a doubt that this little boy would capture my heart and be destined for great things. He was meant to come into the world at that exact time.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I decided to reflect on thoughts I’ve had and what being a mom has taught me over the years.
Your kids will sometimes think you’re the biggest jerk. They will hate you some days and will say it to your face. It stings. There will be teary moments and screaming matches. Your kid will think that you’re old and embarrassing. But it won’t last. It won’t always be that way. Some things just take time. So give time, some time. In my experience, the good, great, and fantastic moments far outnumber the others. Infants and toddlers grow quickly and learn fast. The surly, sulky, hide-in-their-room years will pass. Make the best of your moments with them, because the moments will become far and few between in a blink of an eye. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms, Aunts, Grandmas, sisters, and even the Dads who are the “mom,” too! Enjoy your day and your loved ones!
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Personally, it’s been a rough week. Hell, as some of you may know, it’s been a rough month/5 weeks. Dark February brings up not-so-pleasant memories of 2020 and 2018, and throw in some other junk from this past week, and you have a cocktail of mad sadness and anxiety for Jules.
But. (insert intentional period for pro-longed pause for the reader...) But, life is really made up of SO many moments. Most of them are actually lovely small moments. Sure, there’s the big, momentous occasions -- a wedding, graduation, birth, promotion, etcetera. But, those are sporadic throughout your life. What really makes up our lives -- our happiness, our sorrows, are all the tiny moments. The big hug from my kid when he walks in the door. The good morning or good night text from one of my favorite people. My friend tagging me in a funny meme. Enjoying a cup of coffee with a neighbor. Watching WandaVision virtually with my friend across the country. Sitting by a bonfire with my kids. Getting a pedicure. Reading a good book. Girl talk over cocktails and cream puffs. Seeing my daughters names on the Dean's List from college. Walking at the park with an old friend. Those seconds, minutes, hours, and days often seem to pass uneventfully… but THOSE are the moments that make up the sum of our life, what we represent, how we’ve lived, and who we’ve loved.
Today, I was reflecting on just that. I had a rough 8 days. But, during those 8 days, I had some dear friends check in on me. They messaged. They popped into my office. They sent me a good morning text. Different friends, from different areas of my life. And, it struck me today, how much I truly cherish and love all of these individuals. They may not realize what a profound impact they have in my life, but profound it truly is.
They see and share my struggles. They offer condolences, advice, love, silly memes, jokes, or drinks. They pull me through these tough moments, and they CELEBRATE my victories with me. These connections and friendships - whether they are people I see every day at work, people I see once a month, or people I almost NEVER see due to distance or other circumstance, they are the true treasures and measure of my life: My kids. My co-workers. My long-time friends and my newer friends. These moments and conversations, and most importantly, the unwavering support and love that I feel and receive from these people (even if not always said) are priceless. I will gladly spend this world's most precious commodity -- time -- with each of you.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
“It’s true that we’re losing time every day, all the time, until the day it’s all gone. But you’re gaining it too. Every second - perfect moments. One after the other, until by the end, you have your whole life. You have everything. And it costs you everything.”
I think most people agree that 2020 has been pretty brutal. Even being the mostly-positive, happy-go-lucky gal that I am, I’ve had my fair share of struggles, anxiety, and depression. Nothing throws off my groove more than when I’m in a sour mood or sad. I was thinking today how I just want this year to be over, and thinking about all of the not-so-great stuff that’s happened, but then I paused to think about the other side of the coin.
Why am I wishing away time that is so precious? What am I in a hurry to get to? To be older? To have my kids be that much closer to moving out on their own? To be missing them? To be richer? To be happier? How many chances - or days left for that matter - will I get? Nobody knows. I can have the most important things now if I so choose to.
I still have many cherished loved ones in my life. I am healthy, I have a comfortable house, a newer car. I have food in my pantry and fridge. I have a job that I love and work with some amazing people. I can pay my bills every month (although, there’s never much leftover). My kids are healthy, kind young adults, who are excellent students and contributing members of society. Sure, I’ve had a lot of inconveniences and it feels like there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go -- especially as of late, but, honestly, life isn’t soooo bad.
I decided to chronicle all the crappy stuff I went through, in order to spin it and see the other side that wasn’t so bad. I’m doing this as a study to show a different perspective; to show how changing your point of view can lead to choosing happiness now, instead of wishing time away and hoping that things will be different. We can choose to make things different -- to change -- NOW.
January 2020. My personal life got turned upside-down and I left Facebook for quite a while.
Flip side: Damn. This one is really hard. January just really sucked. (Although, I released my 8th novel, and wrapped up a trilogy. So… there’s that.)
February. This was the month of tears for me as I dealt with the fallout from January. It has now gone down in my personal history as Dark February. I hope to never revisit it again.
Flip side: I worked on myself and went through some personal growth and paradigm shifts. I am proud of what I learned. I also had a memorable, tipsy night out dancing with friends.
March. The virus hit, a pandemic was declared, and I was furloughed. I never saw this coming back in December.
Flip side: I had a bite of one of the most amazing hamburgers I’ve ever eaten in my life, and started to make amends with someone very dear to me. Dark February Fall-out was slowly beginning to heal.
April. Everything was shut down and fear gripped America. Toilet paper and Lysol were impossible to find and for the first time that I can remember, grocery store shelves were emptied and bare, due to panic buying and supply chain issues. Don’t even get me started on the nightmare of filing for unemployment. Ugh.
Flip side: I learned to conserve stuff and not be so wasteful. I cooked more, spent more time outside, and decluttered my garage and basement. My neighbors started a group chat to help each other shop and pick up groceries. So many porch deliveries from friends saved me from going out, and eased the strain on my wallet. The CARES Act passed, and provided me additional unemployment funds, allowing me to not be so financially strapped.
May. More of the same. My daughter’s high school musical, senior prom, senior choir trip, and commencements were canceled.
Flip side: My daughter’s high school put on a drive-thru-socially-distanced graduation and had lots of different photography stations set up. The school did a really great job of making it special for the kids and their families. Balloons, cheering stations, and pictures on the football field...it was tear-jerker kind of day. I also became acutely aware of which people and friends were most important to me. When you can’t see the people you love, you realize how much you do love them and need them in your life.
June. We made the decision to post-pone Grace’s graduation party. Events were being canceled everywhere.
Flip side: There was a senior parade of cars, and my family all spread out along the route to with signs to cheer for Gracie as we drove by in our decorated car. She wore her cap and gown, smiled and waved at everyone, just like a Disney princess.
July. The extra unemployment money was due to end. I was extremely stressed wondering if my layoff would be permanent, whether I’d have health care, and how I was going to pay my bills. Oh. I also broke my nose. That was an experience I’ll never forget, and never wish to repeat.
Flip side: I was called back to work and was greatly relieved and happy to be back. My kids got to finally spend time with their dad, who is a nurse on the frontlines, and the world seemed to be getting back to a new, albeit different, “normal.” We also hosted a socially distance/appointment only grad party for Grace. My nose and face healed nicely. (Tho rumors surfaced that I either (a) got in a brawl; or (b) had plastic surgery on my nose/lips. Both of which were untrue, and had me smirking and rolling my eyes.)
August: Face-to-face schooling was on, but following new guidelines, and my 16-year-old son would be doing some remote learning which he was not too happy about. The huge book conference and signing that I attend every year was officially canceled.
Flip side: Because August is my birthday month, and I always try to fill it with 31 days of random acts of kindness. As ever, it was an amazing month of compassion, sweet gestures, and love. Also, I went to my first drive-in movie EVER. (The original Jurassic Park with the kiddos!)
September. Everyone around me was completely stressed about school shutting down, home learning, how to balance work, etcetera. I was losing my damn mind listening to it all, on top of the fact, that although my job seemed secure, this pandemic made me realize that no one was safe from the fallout. I was grateful for every paycheck and prayed I would work another week.
Flip side: My son was able to do in-person school… for a while. I participated in a few socially distanced small art fairs, and supplemented my income with art and book sales.
October: An upswing of positive cases of COVID-19 and Schools shut down and went to remote learning.
Flip side: Myself and my entire immediate family had so far managed to stay safe and healthy. Taking advantage of some places still being opened, I had a wonderful girls weekend trip to the wineries in St. Joseph. It was a much-needed escape with a small taste of the way life used to be. We dined outside, and masked up, but it was still a fantastic time. Halloween trick-or-treating went on as planned (although wayyyyy less kids out). And, I got to meet my daughter's new boyfriend.
November. The Governor declared another state of emergency, shutting down services, restaurants, and bars, and ordered people to work remotely if possible. EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED. AGAIN. And when we weren't being blasted with Corona news, the election and politics took over and everyone lost their mind. For real.
Flip side: My company made it possible for me to work remotely several days a week, which I am truly thankful for. We celebrated my daughter turning 20. (TWENTY?!?).
December: Anxiety was creeping back in, and I needed a break from social media and, for my own sanity, needed to take myself out of the equation for a while. I was worried what this month would bring and now that it’s finally on its last day, I can say it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I still stress about staying healthy and working and providing for myself and my kids. And, there’s a few writing projects I’d like to move on and finish, but circumstances haven’t been ideal.
Flip side: The worry will always be there, somewhere in the back of my mind. But, I also know, that through all of the stress, sadness, discomfort, inconvenience, and difficulty that I’ve faced this past year, I know I will get through it. I know it will all be “okay,” in some manner or other. Some days I need that reminder. Some days are harder than others.
Through it all, we can choose to see the good things in all of the bad. Sure, this year has been a sh*t show for most of us. But, just like everything in life, there’s always another side to the story...to all of our stories.
In December, I decided I needed to take some time to figure out how I wanted the next year of my life to go. What rhythm and people I could find that would help bring balance back to my life. Certain relationships need to change. Some of my reactions and how I cope with some things need to change. There’s no better time to do it than now.
There are 3 phrases in my life that were coined in 2020 that I never want to re-visit.
1. Dark February
2. Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19)
3. Super Spreader
What and who will bring you sorrow? What and who will bring you joy? Start doing more to achieve the latter. Trials and tribulations are a part of life. But regardless of the stresses and sorrows you have been through, remember that there’s always a flip side, even if you don’t see it at first. There’s often always a choice. Albeit not one you always want to make, but sometimes one you need to make, for your health and/or eventual happiness.
Cheers, to the end of 2020; to never being a “super spreader”; to new beginnings; and to the plot twist you’ve been dreaming of.
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For quite some time now, I have believed that the Universe has a way of correcting itself. Call it karma, call it cosmic balance, call it something else… but whatever you call it, I feel like eventually, what goes around, comes around. And, although the “correction” or “counter-measure” may not happen when you want it to, or expect it, rest assured, it will. In my experience, it always does.
Let me give you an example of said balance in the Universe. The other day I opened my lower kitchen cupboard, and as I did so, my Pyrex glass measuring cup went tumbling out onto the floor, shattering into a zillion pieces. Of course, I had a slew of curse words, not only because I had to clean up the microscopic shards of glass that went EVERYWHERE, but also because that measuring cup is the most amazing thing EVER. Pyrex must have used like NASA spaceship glass on that model because it never got hot when warming things in the microwave. Even after boiling water for 5 minutes, the handle was cool to the touch. (And, go ahead and google that - Corning, the company who produces Pyrex, actually DID make heat resistance glass for NASA, including the window on Apollo 11.) Anyhow, it was late and I was in the middle of preparing dinner, so I cleaned up the glass and, in my hurry (and laziness) simply tossed it into the top of the trash can. Life went on, with me saddened over the loss of my 25-year-old amazing measuring cup.
The next day, my son was helping me clean out the garage and we carried all of the trash to the curb, as the following day was garbage pick-up day. Man, did it feel good to purge and get stuff organized before the cold weather hits! Monday came and let me tell ya, it was a typical “Shmonday.” Between work business and personal junk, it was just not a good day. But then, my friend texted and asked if I wanted to meet at the park to walk that evening. It was JUST what I needed to help my mood and mental state. We agreed to meet at 5 pm. I’d have to run home, change clothes, then hurry back out to meet her on time, but it was no problem as I leave work at 4.
Wouldn’t you know it, traffic sucked on the way home and I knew I was running late. Then, when I pulled onto my street, the garbage truck was literally parked RIGHT in front of my house, blocking my driveway and most of the street. After sitting for several minutes (what the HECK were those guys doing???) Finally, one of them flagged me over. I rolled down my window saying, “Sorry, I can’t pull forward. I’ll just wait because my driveway is being blocked.”
He quickly replied, “Oh sorry!” He gestured to the other guy at the truck. “Someone had broken glass in one of the bags and he cut his hand pretty badly.” I inwardly cringed. Oh fuck. That was me. I felt terrible knowing I played a part in his hand getting cut and bloodied.
Once the street was clear, I ran into my house, changed, and texted my friend an apology for being late and that I was on the way. (For the record, I also got stopped by an ambulance, a fire truck, and 3 police cars speeding to some emergency with their lights on.)
See? The Universe taught me! My anger and sloppy way of cleaning up my mess ended in a random stranger cutting his hand while trying to do his job and between that, the traffic, and police and fire vehicles, the universe also aptly made me late to meet my friend.
How many things happen in the world that we are the direct or indirect cause of? We really have no clue what the ripple effect of our actions, or lack thereof, may trigger. I bet it’s too numerous to count. When you think you don’t affect people, think again: you do. Our words, actions, sentiments… all have some kind of effect in the world and people around us, whether we see it or not.
How we treat people and situations, is a direct reflection of our character and our compassion. And, you may never know how much you’ve positively affected someone, or how much you’ve hurt them. Wouldn’t you rather err on the side of caution? (Also, it’s called not being a d*ck.)
Clean up the messes you make. Both literally and figuratively.
Keep balance in the universe. Or, for my Star Wars fans, “Bring balance to the force.”
If you don’t, the universe will find a way to balance the scales on its own, with potentially far worse consequences. Trust me.