Author: Jenny

In March 2004, I suffered a severe brainstem stroke, & was "locked in" for several months". I have been married to a wonderful man, Mark ever since Dec. 1994, & we have 3 kids: Zach (1997),, Jessica (2000), & Sophie (2002). I have been blessed in so many ways by God, so I wanted to keep a blog to share my recovery, life, & answer questions.

Where have I been?

It has been too long since I posted.  I think I’ve over-extended myself. When I do, the 1st thing to go is taking care of myself, so I’m re-gaining all the weight I lost the last 3 months, I’m doing less therapy, etc.  The 2nd thing I do is put my church calling (a volunteer job) before my friends & family … hence, I rarely text or call my kids, I isolate myself a lot, & as u have noticed, I haven’t been posting. Sometimes I realize it & spend time w/Mark, or text one of my kids.

In my last post, I mentioned how I liked being an empty nester, & over Christmas, my youngest, Sophia, mentioned how when she hears how we like being empty nesters, & she feels like we are saying that we are glad she is gone — but that simply is not true!  With the birth of EACH child, my marriage has changed—not in a bad way, but Mark had to share the spotlight. & I had to give up parts of me…& when I had my stroke, I lost a LOT of me—all but the “mom part”.  So, I’m getting to know “the new me”, & that spotlight is back to Mark.   I like having the chance to get to know me, & re-acquaint w/Mark (prior to my stroke, I prided myself on my multi-tasking abilities, & it made me so proud to know that when I was in the hospital, it took 5 women to do what I did alone…but now, I can only focus on one thing at a time, & finally that one thing is Mark!)   

So that’s what I’ve been doing.  There’s no feeling of “oh, good…he/she/the kids are gone”.  I will always love & miss my kids, but it’s a nice change to have more time for myself & Mark!

Through the years I’ve re-gained parts (like having a church calling), so the time I spend for myself has been devoted a lot to my church calling.  Our church has a program called “primary”.  The church handbook describes it as: “a home-centered, Church-supported (children’s) organization. It is for children ages 18 months to 11 years. At home, parents teach children the gospel. At church, Primary leaders and teachers support parents through lessons, music, and activities.”  The last few years I have voluntarily served as the primary secretary.  Recently, I was asked to be the Primary President…yes, me!  It was exciting & simultaneously scary in so many ways! 

So, lately I spend a lot of time being a primary president. I love doing it & having more time to be with Mark!  I just need to find a better balance!

I am grateful…

President Nelson (from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) shared a wonderful message about gratitude on Friday:

One quote from his message was:

“Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a unique, fast-acting, and long-lasting spiritual prescription.” —President Russell M. Nelson

I think it is well-established here, that I have found gratitude very healing in my own life.  If u follow me on Facebook or Instagram, for the next 7 days (starting today), I will be posting things I am grateful for, & I wanted to invite u to join me!

Happy Halloween!

I have this document where I paste “clips” from other things I have typed, for ideas of future posts on my blog/website.  It saves me tons of time, so I’m not slowly re-typing something I told to someone already, & I don’t have to decide what to talk about–a BIG deal for me (I never liked having to choose what to eat or wear, so I always made Mark cook, & now he chooses what I wear, too!  Haha)

Anyway, while I haven’t posted in FOREVER, I have been keeping these “clips,” & now I’m so overwhelmed by them, I never post!  I will try to remedy that now…

The last time I posted, I shared a link that has scrapbook pages I’ve done (which I still add to, btw, so check it out—I add about 4 or more pages a month).  Since  I post my scrapbook pages, I’ve had several people ask why I scrapbook.  Often I answer that I scrapbook because I find it therapeutic by reframing my thoughts, but I have other reasons as well:

—it is a way to express myself artistically

—it is a way to “hold on” to my past self

—it is a way to re-live former experiences

—it is a way to share my life w/posterity, & show that life can still be enjoyed admits trial

—it can be empowering to see my accomplishments

—it helps me find & feel gratitude (which I need daily!)

—it can help me to see God’s hand in my life

So to update everyone, this COVID-lifestyle has been good to me (of course I can find negatives, but u know I don’t like to think about those, so here are the positives):

–I always can potty now

-people have more free time to help me

-restaurants now have tables spaced so I can get around—& stores have more room too

–while masks are annoying, they can also keep me warm (when I’m cold in bed, I essentially do the same thing, by pulling the sheets over my nose, so my own breath keeps me warm)

–being a “homebody” is what I like to do anyway

–I can get food delivered from ANYWHERE now…

I am now an empty nester (& under 50 years old!)  It had a rough start for me—since poor Mark only has me now, I got all depressed thinking about how his life was so different with only me here, & I had to reface issues from 16 years ago, as this was not how I’d envisioned life after my kids grew up!  I always planned to go back to elementary school once all my kids left.

So, I started thinking about how I wished I was different…for me, for Mark…But in talking to a friend, I realized that I had to change my focus–I realized that I know better than to dwell on what we can’t do–I get so depressed when I think that way about myself, so why would this be different???

So, I started thinking different.  & while I didn’t miss disciplining whiny, moody kids, I did miss the fun (as any mom does–each child– even my new daughter-in-law, who spent the summer here–brings something unique…in fact, the 1st time I heard a recording of Sophie singing, I bawled!)  So with all of the kids gone, the house became eerily quiet

But now I LOVE being an empty nester, & I LOVE all the time I have with Mark again!  It is so nice to see Mark more the way I saw him 26 years ago, & for me to t feel as anxious all the time (part of that is oddly a thanks to COVID)!  Plus, I think I was someone’s mom for long enough to forget who I am—or maybe I never took the time after my stroke to figure out who the “new me” was.

I had a plan all laid out, & while I thought 23 years ago that I’d be a teacher now, God had another plan…& because He has a sense of humor, he brought school to me: for a while, my helpers’ kids came here w/them, so one day there was a kindergarten class in my craft room, & the next day there was a 2nd grade class in my craft room… haha

With all my new “free time”, I signed up for a nutrition/weight-loss class that focused more on my mind & changing my habits & thoughts.  It’s a 10-week course that focuses on these 6 “pillars.” In “Target 100,” I like how she does more with re-wiring the brain, & has a focus on emotional eating (which I do).  Since I’m learning how to change some thoughts & habits, I’m hoping that some of the stuff I learn will seep into my OCD-personality, as my recent focus has been on managing that & my anxiety better (it wouldn’t hurt if I lost weight, too)!

But I was having a hard time managing my new phase of life, & I realized that a lot of my thoughts get in my way, so I got a “time coach” (a life coach, who specializes in time management).  Seemed a bit crazy to start this (of all things!) when I was already busy, but our course doesn’t even start until my other class has 1 week left, & I sorta’ get “bonus help” in the meantime.  Already he’s challenged some thoughts & helped me to take ownership or something with things I already knew from Mark. 

I have more things I could talk about, but this post is long enough…Oh!  No costume this year.  So sad!  I love to dress up, (it’s a whole new ballgame now, in a wheelchair!) but we celebrate our Halloween by going to our ward’s trunk or treat (which was different this year), but since I had no kids wanting to go, I stayed warm at home!

Scrapbooking

Prior to my stroke, my kids had “quiet time” every day for about 2 hours. This coincided with the baby’s afternoon nap, & the older children could read, listen to music, nap, rest…whatever…their feet just could not touch the floor. This was my time, & I usually choose to scrapbook…3 kids under 6 years kept me pretty busy, plus a few more things (haha–I was also a room mom, math tutor, scrapbook teacher, president of a club for a genetic disease, primary & nursery chorister at church, & a newly called girls camp director at church), but since I fit scrapbooking into my schedule, when I had my stroke 16+ years ago, I was only a little behind on my children’s scrapbooks! & everything I wanted to do was very organized–every page was in a page protector with the pictures I wanted to scrapbook, & some even had the journaling, page ideas, &/or the scrapbook elements already picked out & with the pictures in the page protector!

However, when my stroke hit, my scrapbooking halted. (Not being able to speak or move was a bit of an issue! Ha! Ha!) A year later, I was introduced to digital scrapbooking, & through the years, I have done some of that, but I was never sure how I’d complete any of the pages I had organized prior to 2004…

I have been blessed in several ways since then to slowly chip away at this, but I was still fighting all the time I lost. But ever since the COVD-19 quarantine began, I have done a lot of scrapbooking. I’m still behind, but I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Here’s what I’ve completed (2000-some 2002), after finishing my daughter’s missionary scrapbook (which was a BIG project to tackle!). I will add more completed pages to this link all month:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/z2xmspyNgnd4ESG58

Update

From March 15-May 21, I hadn’t been out of my house, but I got to do horse therapy again this last week (June 1-4, I was fortunate to have a ride each evening)! Yea! I was super impressed w/all the precautions taken…they’ve really thought things out! & My body really needed it—I slept so hard all week, & often didn’t want to get up! & my tummy muscles have been sore! (I love that feeling now – it is so satisfying to know my body was working hard!). Plus, I don’t get very many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, so between the fresh air & the opportunity to enjoy the company of others, it was almost like an emotional therapy as well!

All 3 kids are headed to college in the fall (yes, my baby, Sophie, graduated this year—she wanted the “senior experience,” & got a very memorable one!). COVD-19 has been a blessing in disguise in some ways since it has worked out to have all my adult children here for a while (& it’s not like a regular visit where they basically just sleep here! Haha). It has also allowed family & friends to find unique ways to show others their love & support, as everyone has chipped in to give Sophie a memorable senior year! I have wished I could do more for her, but it has made my heart so full to witness how the Lord has provided what I could not!

One more thought: As I was getting my haircut yesterday, I was feeling so very grateful that for the past year being a kind of “preparation” of what was going to occur, because there I was wearing a mask & covering my mouth, but still able to talk to my hairdresser (who primarily speaks Spanish)!