I Am Randall

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We have been watching This is Us for several weeks now. We binge-watched the first half of season 1 in a couple of nights because we were hooked after the first episode. For those of you who don’t watch this show, if you are reading this blog you are on the Internet and I imagine you’ve seen someone talk about it at least. It has only been on for this first season and is currently running. Although I am not a big TV watcher and do not have much to compare this statement to, I do believe the writers of this NBC drama got something very right with this one.

The show tells the story of triplets (two of the three pictured here –no they are not biological siblings). The one on the right is Randall. He was dropped off on a firehouse door step in the 1970s by his  father, his crackhead mother having passed away right after he was born just a few days prior. His father left him in a cardboard box on the doorstep and it wasn’t long before a fireman found him and took him to the local hospital. Meanwhile, in the same hospital a woman gave birth to triplets; one of the three babies was stillborn. As fate would have it, a baby in a box was brought to the hospital that day, so the baby in the box became part of the triplets and joined the family that day, too. Their parents called them “The Big Three”.

In this picture, the one on the left is Kevin. He is one of the triplets born this day. His sister, Kate (not pictured here) is the other biological sibling.  The writers of the show did a remarkable job weaving the relationships of these three very different, yet strikingly similar individuals. The show utilizes flashbacks in every episode to deeper explain the life of Randall’s birth parents and the relationship of the triplets’ parents as newlyweds and through their lifetime.

When I watch this show, I find so many relatable themes and appreciate the messages hidden in the dialogue and dynamics between each character. I usually start crying within the first few minutes of watching, and have been moved by not just one or two characters on the show, but almost all of them at some point or another. It really is a feel-good show and I have enjoyed watching it each week.

The picture above is from a scene from last week’s episode. I won’t spoil any of the details of the episode in the event you haven’t watched it and think perhaps you will, but Randall suffered a panic attack in this episode. In this picture, his brother comforts him during his attack. As I watched this episode, my heart felt it would nearly implode with empathy as a wave of realization surged over me: AM WAS RANDALL.

I had my very first panic attack when I was in college at NC State. I was driving down Hillsborough Street on my way to campus for an exam. I had studied for the exam, and knew I would do well on it. But I was worried and stressed out about how tired I was and couldn’t stop thinking about rent that was due and life just simply seemed to overwhelm me at that very moment. Suddenly my chest tightened and I seemed to gasp for breath and I felt more afraid than I had ever felt before. I called my daddy and one of the only things I remember him repeating to me was, “Breathe, Candice. Just breathe.” He told me to look around in my car for a paper bag or something to help me breathe more easily. Of course I had nothing to assist with this, so I just pulled over and cried. And cried. And cried.

These have continued throughout my life, the most recent one being earlier this year. Yet for some reason I am able to say today that I suspect (and am so very hopeful) that it may just be the last one I will ever endure. I have grown as a person since my last panic attack — spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally — I have tapped into a part of myself that was guarded with lock and key. I have learned things about myself that were often hard to accept, yet rewarding to recognize in the essence of beauty. I have let go of fears, worry and resentment that unconsciously weighed me down. I have given my life back to God and accepted that I am not meant to control what happens to me, as my fate is written and was already unfolding. I have laid down my boxing gloves in the fight against myself and feel better and stronger and more capable than ever before.

As I look at this picture I am overwhelmed with pain for Randall and can empathize so wholeheartedly with his place in this moment. Yes, I realize it’s a TV show but this is real life, folks. People really do suffer from these terrible things: panic attack, mental breakdown, stress-induced trauma, nervous breakdown — call it what you will, but make it a point to be aware of your loved ones and offer support when you are able. Be understanding and don’t ever throw rocks. Support is critical to the delicate souls who suffer with these types of challenges in life and often times a genuine smile and a hug can make a really big difference in their day.

I share stories like this about myself in hopes of being a beacon of light for someone. Yes, I may make myself vulnerable to judgment and criticism, but I feel the overflow from my heart as I tell my stories and dwell on the possibility of positive impact rather than the fear of negative judgement. Through self-reflection, a whole lot of patience and the grace of God I strive daily to keep these fears at bay. Of course I have setbacks and I don’t always succeed, but I refuse to give up. Life is breathtakingly beautiful and it took me 35 years to realize this. However, this morning I was reminded that it doesn’t matter when you start, it only matters how you finish…

Choose Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Chiropractic Helps Us

When I was 16 I was in a car accident. It wasn’t a very bad one, a guy who was on his cell phone rear-ended me, and I walked away with some neck pain and a dented back bumper.  My mom suggested that I go see a chiropractor. As it turns out, my grandmother had worked part-time for one and she called and made an appointment for me within a week of the accident. I remember going in for weekly visits and laying face down on a cold leather table while my back was massaged with an old school electric massager. He’d adjust my neck during each visit, but admittedly I wasn’t a fan of the “neck pops”. He sent me home with a special pillow to offer more strategic support for my neck and after about 12 weeks of seeing him as many as 3 times per week, my neck felt normal again.

Flash forward 18 years. I just had my second child, sweet Everly Jean. She was a very unhappy baby for the first 10 weeks of her life. She was by textbook definition a “colicky” baby: she kicked her legs and screamed as the biggest farts rolled out of her tiny body, she refused sleep and SHE CRIED FOREVER. I developed leg muscles quicker than I’d hoped due to incessant bouncing and walking through the house in efforts to console her. There we many days that she literally cried all day long. Reid would come home from work and I would be crying, too. We were miserable, and there were several days that I just knew she would cry for the rest of her life.

I had heard of chiropractic care being helpful for other families dealing with similar challenges with their kids. I put out a poll on a Natural Living/Attachment Parenting Facebook group that I am part of to find out if anyone in our area recommended a good chiropractor for children. I was quickly given anecdotal referrals to at least 3 chiropractors in the Triad who see children. Before I could even make the first phone call, one of doctors that my friends were referring actually contacted me…the power of social media! Within 24 hours, I was sitting in Dr. Kim’s office for Everly’s consultation. I had briefed her over the phone as to what all we were dealing with, but during the in-person consultation we dug much deeper into Everly’s personality, sleeping habits, diaper habits, nursing habits, etc. Dr. Kim began to explain the central nervous system to me in a way I had never noticed it before. I remember sitting in the chair in her office and literally feeling mind-blown, thinking to myself, “how can everyone in the world not know about this?!”.

Chiropractic means to move with the hands. God thought our central nervous system was so important that he encased it fully with bone in order to protect it, right? If our nervous system is functioning 100% properly, then the organs on the other end of all these nerves will function 100% properly. If the bones (vertebrae) that are protecting these nerves are causing any type of interruption or dis-ease on the nerve (sublaxation), then the organ that nerve leads to will not function as it should. Moving the bone back to its proper place (chiropractic adjustment) allows the nerve to function as it should. When our nervous system is “in check”, our body can function as it is intended. It makes complete sense, right?!

Each time you are adjusted by a chiropractor, your immune system is boosted up to 200%. Adjustments are simply getting rid of sublaxations. Back when I was 16 and fresh out a car accident, I thought chiropractors were only needed for instances such as this. I had no idea that chiropractic care was really preventative care rather than reactive care. I love the reaction that people tend to give me when they learn that I have been (and have taken my 2 children) to the chiropractor and they say, “what’s wrong?”. NOTHING is wrong! That’s what is so beautifully right with it all! Our bodies were designed to heal themselves, but they cannot do that if they cannot function 100% and if the nerves aren’t fully circuited back to the organ they serve. Spinal interference/sublaxations are caused by three things: emotional trauma, chemical trauma and/ or physical trauma. In our day-to-day we deal with things that stress us out, make us worry and too often times we are in unhealthy relationships, all of which can and will cause emotional trauma. What we put on and inside of our bodies has an affect on our central nervous system. Everything from our shampoo and conditioner to the type of ground beef and butter we eat, down to the lotions and sunscreens and fruit snacks and caffeine–that old phrase “you are what you eat” really does make so much sense. Physical trauma is everything from the repetitive way you hold a cell phone to your ear while driving, the posture you adopt while sitting at a desk or the way you carry a diaper bag on the same shoulder every day. Keeping your spine free of sublaxations will give you the best shot at being the best version of YOU.

Everly and I have been seeing Dr. Kim ever since March 2016 when Everly was just 10-weeks old. The first time Everly was adjusted Dr. Kim explained that when babies come out of the birth canal, they get pretty jacked up on their exit and have sublaxations the second they take their first breath. She reminded me that when a baby is in utero it is in a position so that the head is down and the feet are up toward the sky, and she explained that when you hold a baby by the feet upside down in this position, it mimics the position they held in utero. This is a comfortable position for them and instinctively, their arms should float down toward their feet when you hold them this way. Dr. Kim dangled Everly upside down by her ankles and I watched as her tiny spine took the shape of the letter “J”, as her arms shot straight out like the letter “T”. Everly stayed so calm, and I remember being surprised that she hadn’t freaked out. After just a few seconds of suspension, Dr. Kim signaled for me to grab Everly’s head as we laid her back down on the special pillow used for baby adjustments. She ran her fingers down Everly’s spine to locate the sublaxation. She worked her magic to make a few small adjustments to Everly’s spine and flipped her back over again, grabbing her by the ankles and suspending her up into the air. Before my very eyes, my child hung straight down and her tiny little arms floated down to her feet, literally a completely different sight than what I had witnessed less than 3 minutes prior, and still no freaking out!

The very next day, almost 11 weeks into my 12-week maternity leave, Everly smiled at me for the first time. She didn’t cry all day. I recall weeping as I videoed her late that afternoon, because the way she was acting was something I had never seen before. I wanted to attribute it 100% to her chiropractic adjustment the day before and was sad that I hadn’t taken her sooner. I felt like I had finally met my daughter and she has literally been a different child since that first visit.

Sadler and I also see Dr. Kim regularly. We go at least once every other week, but sometimes we go every week. If one of us starts to express symptoms of health that make us feel icky, we go in for an adjustment. Thankfully, Everly has never had to see a medical doctor for a sick visit and has never taken any prescription medications. I wholeheartedly believe that keeping her clear of sublaxations has played a major part in this and can honestly say the same for myself and Sadler. Yes, we still get sick but we are able to recover much faster than we would have a year ago, and often times with fewer medical interventions.

I notice a lot of chiropractic offices in our city when I drive around and it makes my heart happy. We drive 30 minutes to see Dr. Kim and while I know there are other doctors closer to our house, there is no one I would rather have in my life to fill this role. Aside from being an amazingly intelligent doctor, she is a beautiful person inside and out and God put her in my life for so many reasons. She is expecting twin girls any day now and we got to see her this weekend for a special maternity party before she goes out on leave.

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The best part of this whole story: after almost a year of trying, my husband will be getting his first adjustment tomorrow. He has been for his consultation appointment (and no, unfortunately adults don’t get suspended during consults, only the babies!) and to say that I am excited for his journey to begin is merely understated. I cannot wait to hear how good he feels tomorrow afternoon.

 

Reflections: Week 1

After a full week of being at home with Everly and not working outside the home, I am left feeling full. As I sit to write on the evening of this abnormally sunny Sunday, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the time that truly belonged to me this week. Time each day this week was well-spent, and seemed to go by at  a slower pace than when I sat behind a desk. I am grateful for this change of pace and can already feel the impact this decision will have on my family as we embrace our new normal.

Monday was my first day at home with Everly. The entire day offered a surge of emotion, welcomed by the quiet of the house amidst our presence. Our day began around 7:30 in the same bed. It was a nice bonus to get to sleep in. I made French toast for breakfast -something I could have never dreamed of doing in my “old life”, we always seemed to be running late and eating on the go. It’s amazing what you are capable of when your desire meets your ability. After we dropped Sadler off at preschool,  we went to Costco and were home in time for lunch. Rocking Everly to sleep for nap on a Monday morning was the first glimpse of  the many blessings around the corner for us. I weeped tears of joy as she drifted off in my arms. Once she was asleep, I felt compelled to share a post with social media that sparked so much love and encouragement and words of strength and affirmation from so many people that know and love our family. I was truly overwhelmed and beyond inspired by the kind words and support that people shared in reaction to our story. It has moved me and provided great momentum, somewhat of a turning point in my journey.

When Everly was in daycare, the teachers often commented on how she hated taking naps. Ironically, she took a two-hour nap on our first day home together.

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Everly is 13-months old and while not yet walking, she crawls all over the place and pulls up on anything that she can grab hold of. She will tirelessly work to come find me wherever I am in the house and greets me with the biggest smile, arms held up uttering some sort of grunt or moan. She makes hilarious faces, and she is quite vocal. Mrs. Pam, our beloved daycare teacher used to say that Everly was her “little but loud” baby – when she would call her this, it often reminded me of Shakespeare’s quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Though she be but little, she is fierce”. Sounds about right.

Having dinner ready by the time Reid got home from work each day was my favorite part of the week. As of late and right up until I left my job, he had been cooking dinner most every night because I was working late hours. Even on nights when I came home on time, he would still offer to cook just because he wanted to. I enjoyed taking that role over this week and can honestly say that I look forward to holding it for a while.

cookingCooking has always been something I enjoy. There is something about finding a good playlist on Apple Music, pouring a glass of wine and dancing in the kitchen while cooking that just heals the soul for me. Prior to having children, I recall coming home from a long day at work and finding my peace and joy in the kitchen. Cooking a colorful dinner for Reid and I was my favorite part of the day. Once Sadler was born, this slowly slipped away as bottle-washing, laundry-washing/folding/sorting, pumping, nursing, diaper- washing (we used cloth diapers for several months when Sadler was little), changing, feeding, etc. seemed to take the lead.

By week end, our house was cleaner than it’s ever been. I have been over-the-moon excited about the time I now have to do things I have been “listing” and day-dreaming about for quite some time. Having the ability to spend more time making our house a home has already made a positive impact on me in so many ways. Hearing my 4-year-old say, “Daddy, I love our house”, completely unsolicited and out of the blue this weekend, was music to my ears. I became filled with joy and humility and closed my eyes as I had a small celebration on the inside because I knew I had made a difference in her day. It’s the little things. Not just for me, but for everyone. Having order and tidiness and cleanliness in the home just makes life better.

I had a party planned at our house on Saturday to share my love of doTERRA essential oils with some of my friends and family. Throughout the week, I picked up things here and there in preparation and checked things off my list to get ready for everyone to arrive Saturday afternoon. Low and behold, without warning and certainly without welcome, the stomach bug found it’s way into our home at 3AM on Saturday – poor Sadler was a sick little girl and the weekend didn’t quite turn out as planned. We spent our time in our PJs and extra naps were taken without prompt. Everyone got plenty of “oil downs” with blends to keep our immune systems boosted and diffusers were going in every room in the house. So far, everyone else in the family has remained in the clear but we are continuing to monitor conditions and administer TLC as needed. Thankfully the weekend offered unusually high temperatures and every window in the house was open, offering a nice cleanse of the air and energy as the sunshine beamed in.

Reid surprised me with some antique glass jars this week, one of his co-workers gave them to him and he thought to bring them to me. I couldn’t resist using this beautiful, extra-large Mason jar to showcase some blue hydrangeas I picked up this week.

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I decided to keep Sadler home from preschool today to offer one more day of rest and recovery. The house is quiet, and my heart full. I am thankful that joy found me when it did.

 

 

We Got a Dog!

There’s something about having a dog that just does something magical to your spirit. As Roger Caras  (photographer and writer) said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

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This is Emmitt. Spelled with an “i” just like Emmitt Smith, great All-Star from the Dallas Cowboys. Yesterday, his name was Chester. At least, that’s what the workers at the SPCA called him, and probably what the lady named him who decided to drop him off there on January 26th. He was one of two males from a litter of three that showed up at there in late fall of this past year. For some reason, when she took the three puppies there to give them away she had a last-minute change of heart and kept Chester. It was only 6 short weeks before she brought him back to be with his brother and sister. They were adopted quickly, leaving Chester to easily become the favorite around camp as he waited for his new home.

Reid originally found Chester on Facebook, just by scrolling through some pictures of dogs that were at the shelter awaiting adoption. We knew 100% that our family was ready for a dog again, and we had talked about what kind of dog we wanted –all we had agreed on for sure was that we knew we didn’t want another English Bulldog. We didn’t have a particular breed in mind but we weighed out some pros and cons, talked about each other’s non-negotiables regarding our new addition to the family and decided that we would let our hearts take it from there. I was reluctant to pick a new dog based on emotion but decided to give it a chance anyway. The first picture Reid saw of Chester was enough to steal his heart and soon enough we were pulling into the gravel driveway of the SPCA to meet a dog.chester

Chester was shy at first; his tail didn’t wag much but he came over to be near us. I knelt down with Everly on my leg and he sniffed her. She laughed. I looked up at my husband and saw him watching us. I watched his gaze shift over to Sadler as she squealed with excitement (and borderline annoyance). Chester pounced on Sadler like a Greyhound and she laughed and played and smiled as if he had been hers along. As the magic continued, it was crystal clear that he belonged in our family. The very next business day we were back to sign a few papers and Chester became Emmitt and our hearts became full again.

We think he is a mix of Yellow Labrador Retriever and Beagle, although this hasn’t been confirmed. He barks at strangers, waits to be told to get out of his crate and has the silkyest fur I’ve rubbed/cleaned off the couch. Thankfully the SPCA offers a foster-to-adopt program for families with small kids, just so you can test the waters and make sure the animal is a good fit for everyone. So as of today, I can’t tell you that we adopted this sweet boy but I can promise you that he won’t ever sleep another night at that (wonderful) place. We’ll be pulling in that gravel driveway in a few short days to make it official.

I’m glad that I went against my own grain and opened myself up to accepting something I wouldn’t normally do, like falling in love with a dog over the Internet. He really does seem like he has been here all along and for the first time since Gladston died, our house feels full again.

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Like a Mack Truck

It was Friday the 13th in January of this year. I had just returned from a four-day business trip that was full of energy and life and motivation. It was actually a leadership conference, and considering I had just joined the company a few months prior in November, I was eager to get to know my co-workers and fellow industry folk from around the country. So the trip was something to look forward to, yet I dreaded getting on the plane. I felt guilty for being excited about having alone time/being away from my kids and husband. I felt sad for leaving them. I was looking forward to making new connections with people within my company that shared in my daily struggles (often) and successes (not as often unfortunately). While I was there, I asked strategic questions to find out more about the work/life balance others had and what they loved about coming to work each day. I noticed a pattern: the people in my company were amazing. They are hard-working and dedicated and tenacious and driven and inspiring. And I met a lot of incredible people, some of whom made flattering comments about my potential and what I could bring to the property and organization, just based off having watched me work for a few short weeks..it was very nice to hear to say the least and I left feeling appreciated.

However, I woke up that Friday morning filled with one of the worst feelings I’ve felt in my 35 years. I physically ached, my stomach hurt, I was puking. I dreaded going to work. I managed to get myself and the girls ready and get out of the house. As I backed my car out of the driveway my eyes welled up with tears. When I got to Sadler’s daycare I remember feeling angry. I barely spoke to anyone, signed her in at the front desk and got back in my car. As I drove to Everly’s daycare I started to feel increasingly worse and dreaded even walking into a familiar place such as her school in a few short minutes. I got out of my car, saw a fellow mommy/dear friend and my heart swelled in anticipation of a simple hug. I cried on her shoulder and my crying suddenly turned to sobbing. I could tell she was afraid of what was happening and not quite sure of what to say. My explanations were frantic; broken sentences and heavy breathing seemed to last forever. I took Everly into her classroom and looked at one of the teachers, “I hate my job”, the tears streamed down my face. My body physically ached as I hugged the daycare workers and my sweet friend, kissed Everly goodbye and drove home. I crawled into bed and cried harder than ever before. With the force of a Mack truck barreling down a midnight highway, I became overwhelmed with an urge I had felt before. An urge that only six months prior had swept me off my feet; an urge that led Reid and I to a place of unfamiliarity, but we seemed to find peace with things. We accepted that I wasn’t happy in my career and we agreed that I could and should hang my property management hat on the hook for the time being. I was being called to stay at home with my children, and felt in my heart that a work-from-home situation was more conducive to the life I wanted to live. However, an opportunity with another company presented itself and things began to appear as if perhaps there was a lifeline to the happiness within my career as a manager. I was excited about my new boss, loved the people-centric culture that my new company had to offer and even saw a future for myself within their executive leadership team. But on this Friday the 13th none of that seemed to matter. I found myself feeling that very same feeling that had knocked me over six months before.  I picked up my phone and without fear of judgment I vulnerably texted my boss to tell her I wouldn’t be in the office, that I was having a rough time; I openly shared with her my current state of darkness and despair. I had nothing to lose and knew everything was actually only to be gained from that point forward.

The next few days were not much better physically, while mentally I felt a great sense relief.  I managed to push through the weekend and as luck would have it, my birthday was the following Monday. An outpouring of love from friends and family on my “halfway to 70” birthday made the healing process that much sweeter and definitely much easier. I knew what I had to do, and the very next day I resigned from my position. My boss was devastated and tried to talk me out of it. Higher ups within the company called to try and talk me out of it. But they wholeheartedly respected my decision and I left no bridges burned in my departure.

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I don’t have a solid plan, and I can honestly say the whole gamut of emotion has played  part in my world lately. There’s been fear but hope, sadness but joy, uncertainty but clarity… But I have faith in God, and I firmly know that where I was wasn’t where I needed to be. Money can be made in plenty of ways and property managers are a dime a dozen. While I may have been successful in my career and am grateful for all that it provided for both me personally and for my family monetarily, life is far too precious and certainly not long enough to do anything that steals your joy.

Thanks to two very important ladies in my life, I know these two things to be true:

Ability and desire are not the same thing.

You can’t give from an empty vessel.

Life started for us this week, I just know it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “

Jeremiah 29:11