Wednesday, September 30, 2015

E Equals a Great Show

 *As a reminder, I am part of the Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 
So, earlier this month, Netflix came out with a GREAT new show called Project Mc2, which my daughter loves!

Project Mc2 is a show aimed at teens, and is about four girls who are secret agents for NOV8 (innovate). The girls use STEAM to save the prince, and also have fun along the way.

If you aren't familiar, STEAM stands for:
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Art and
  • Math
I think this is a really great thing, as we know there are a lack of females who chose to go into STEAM jobs, and often times many girls drop out of STEAM classes during high school and never pick them up again.

As the mother of two daughters, and someone who participates frequently in the twitter #STEMchat (STEM is steam without the art) obviously, I want all of my kids - son and daughters - to understand basic STEAM principles and to keep on learning about them.

So, when we learned about this show, I was pretty excited and really hoping that Miss 13 would enjoy it, and lo and behold, she did! This show had perfect timing, because shortly before we watched it, she told me she wanted to go to Northwestern University and study engineering! And I was right, she really does enjoy the show a lot! In her own words:

The show is an SAAWS (which stands for super awesome and wonderful show). I want to be a culinary chemist like Adrienne Adams. And yes, culinary chemist is a real thing, as Adrienne often has to tell people!  I want them to make more episodes so I can keep following their adventures!
Now, I know she loves the show, because Netflix was kind enough to send us a doll and some experiments that we could do at home, and Miss 13 - who recently had a birthday, requested she get some more Project Mc2 items for her birthday. And grandma was sweet enough to get her her own ADDISON Notebook.

To add to the fun of the show, there is also an app where you can solve crime scenes using your reasoning clues.

Thanks Netflix, for giving my daughter some television characters that will push her to keep learning and working and doing her best!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sleepless In Chicago

It's about 2am around these parts, and here I sit. At the computer. There is a storm raging outside. I think it's passed our house, but a few of those strikes felt a little to close to home for comfort. The light flickered several times. I have my phone next to me to use a flashlight, just in case. And the computer is unplugged and running on it's battery. A migraine is pounding my head so hard, I'm not sure it will ever go away. And I'm not sure one can be in this much pain without permanent damage. It all mixes in with all the other pain - chronic and new - that attacks my body every day.

This would be a fabulous first few minutes of a horror film, or some crime-drama on tv. While it is neither of those things, I do feel like I'm living in my own personal nightmare.

I just want to sleep.

I just want my head to stop hurting.

I just want my leg to stop hurting.

I just want the storm to stop. I mean this both literally and figuratively.

I currently feel adrift at sea ... being tossed by the waves ... hanging on to the railing for dear life ... praying I don't fall off ... hoping that calm waters are just up ahead ... that soon we'll be yelling "land ho."

I can only imagine it's the changing of the weather, but everything is off. I've got a migraine I can't kick. My meds just don't touch it. This leads to sleepless nights. Which means I feel just worn out and exhausted.


I wrote this a few weeks ago, in the midst of a major migraine that just wouldn't go away. It was awful. I stopped it when I just couldn't write anymore. I shut the computer down, hobbled up to my room and woke my husband. I told him I might need to go the ER but I just didn't know.

We didn't end up going. I wonder now if we should have. There was no relief from the headache for a few days after this. I finally went to the doctor, and got some different medicines and some other things to try.

I'm telling you: these days are hard. These are the days I want to just crawl into bed and hide for a month or two. I can't do that, of course, but I can take a nap here or there as needed.

And still, it's just beyond frustrating.

I think of the things I don't accomplish.
The stories I don't read with my kids.
The dinners I don't make.
The laundry I don't do.
The events I miss out on.
The time wasted.

When I went to the doctor, I had to fight back tears. And after talking about symptoms, how I was feeling, etc. After I got through it all, I stared at the floor as I told her "I just want to be a good mom. I'm not now, but I want to be."

My doctor, who is pretty fabulous and is our family doctor, hugged me and told me I already was a good mom. I appreciated the hug. I appreciated the words. It lessens the sting of all of this just a little bit.

Still. It's hard. Which I say a lot, but it is. I'm still trying to navigate it all. But today, today I am headache free and even though I'm exhausted, I'll take headache free for as long as it will last!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Am I or Am I not?

Recently, the 15 year old had parent night at her high school.

Her English teacher (who I think will be a great teacher for her this year) asked the parents how many of us LOVED English class in high school. I did not raise my hand.

Which made me think: for a long time I really, really loved English class. I was an avid reader. For a long time, math made no sense to me, and so it was reading and writing that I loved. In elementary school I was, in general, a pretty sub-par student, but man, did I consume books like crazy. I can remember bringing home 5, 6, 7 or more chapter books on the weekends to read. I loved reading with a passion. I still love reading with a passion. Sometime during middle school, everything started to make sense and I became a pretty good student!

When I entered high school, I was not put into honor's English class. I was bummed, but it was okay. While I enjoyed English class, I had to work hard to do well. And I did work hard - and it paid off as I maintained good grades. During the year, I approached the teacher and asked if she would recommend me for honor's English my sophomore year. She said she'd think about it and decided that I was ready. I moved to honor's English and did well. My junior year I did really well in English class. I can say in those years, I enjoyed English. I wrote papers, read a lot, gave book reports - it was good.

I can still remember writing a research paper on child abuse. I remember reading a biography on Mary Todd Lincoln. I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet. I remember journaling. It was good. I enjoyed my classes.

My senior year I took AP English.

That changed everything. The first paper: I failed. I worked really hard and the next paper was a D. Then I had steady C's. When I analyzed what we were reading; The Heart of Darkness, Metamorphosis, some Dante - I was told I was wrong, my ideas weren't developed, I had no writing style, I didn't support my ideas enough, and overall, my writing was poor.

I was devastated. I met with the teacher, I asked friends to proof-read and help me. And one day, during the first semester, the teacher pulled me aside. I'm not sure what she actually said to me, but I know the gist of what she said: you are not a writer. This is not a good class for you. You should not waste money on the AP exam. You can remain in my class for the rest of the year if you want, but there's another English class I want you to take because you don't even have basic writing skills. Writing is not one of your talents, and while I appreciate your effort, it isn't paying off.

I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. And so, I added a second writing class to my second semester schedule. I went in early to take it (as I had already filled all my periods with other classes). I decided right then and there to not take the AP exam, even though I would stay in the class since I did enjoy the readings we were doing. And in that instant, my brain told me that if I didn't have writing talent then therefore I was not a writer.

This changed me profoundly. When I went to college, I was called out for my good writing. And I blew it off. I assumed it meant the teacher was an easy grader; after-all, I was not a writer.  When my speech teacher told me I did a good job with my speeches because I wrote them well, I ignored it: what could a speech teacher know about writing?

I never thought of myself as a writer after being told that I was not. How could I? My English teacher was one of the best, my peers received excellent grades. And so, when she told me I wasn't a writer, I accepted it as gospel. I was not a writer.

I still don't see myself as a writer today. Oh sure, I come here and type some words. Anyone can do that, it doesn't make me a writer. Some people tell me they like my writing, but still I don't feel like a writer. Friends say you are a writer and I shrug, assuming they are being too kind.

Am I a writer? Or am I not? It is so hard for me to say that I am.

A few months ago, on Facebook, I put my job was a "writer at Journey of 1000 Stitches." And then I almost puked. A few days ago, for the first time, I said out loud, to people, I am a writer.

I felt like a fraud. How can I call myself a writer? Because it's so deep in my brain that I am just not a writer. That I need extra help. That it's just not something I can do.

I think that what I do here doesn't count. This isn't real writing.

I don't know how to overcome this, except to force myself on occasion to say I AM A WRITER. Maybe back in that English class, I really did turn in some poor writing. Maybe the teacher thought she would help motivate me to try harder and to push myself. I just don't know. But all I heard that day was that I wasn't a writer. It's hard to forget that. It's hard to not remember how I stood there that day as she told me all of this and tried to not cry.

But I'm trying to change my mind. Maybe I'm not a good writer. Maybe I'll never be a best-selling author (not a current goal anyway). It's pretty certain that none of my blog posts will go viral. Other websites aren't knocking on my door to print my words. But maybe that doesn't count. Maybe I'm a writer. And I need to learn to say it like I believe it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Here Comes October

October is just around the corner. And I probably should have asked this a while ago, but I'm asking now!

I am looking for pieces to share here about breast cancer: as a patient or a caregiver or spouse or child or however you are connected to it. You do NOT have to be a blogger to share something, or if you do write a blog, you can send me something you've already published there and get it in front of a new set of eyes. I'd really like it if I could have some people write about recurrence and/or mets and/or male breast cancer (since I can't write about it as having gone through it). There is no required length nor agenda you need to follow (if cancer was your epiphany life changing moment, share. If cancer sucks and you hate it and you still struggle to deal with it, share. If you love pink, share. If you hate pink, share). All I ask is that all pieces be authentic and true to you - however that looks.
Please let me know ASAP if you can contribute in October!

I would love it if I could get a lot of view points to share here. I love getting to share what I've been through - my journey - and my path, but I know there are so many other journeys and paths to share and I'd love to do that here! 

Looking ahead: I'd like to share stories of people going through ANY cancer, so start writing now. I'm thinking maybe of starting that after the holidays. Again, all stories welcome - as long as they are authentic to you, as a person who has/is going through it, a caregiver, a spouse, a child, etc.

Please, let me know - in the comments or via e-mail - if you'd like to write something here this October! Thanks so much!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Losing my voice, but not my voice

totally not kidding about the white board!
Last week I got hit with a nasty bug. It's been working it's way through our house, and as usual, I got hit the hardest.

This resulted in ,probably to the happiness of my children, me losing my voice.

I talked funny for a day, then could hardly talk for a day. Then was under doctor's orders to STOP TALKING AT ALL.

For real.

I texted people, who were standing right next to me. I walked around with a white board and wrote things down.

It was lovely. And by lovely, I mean, not lovely at all. It was annoying. It was frustrating. It was a pain in the rear. I mostly kept things to myself because it was too much work to relay information to others. Not to mention I was tired and exhausted and kind of just wanted to sleep.

But, I realized, that even though I lost my voice, I didn't lose my voice. I can blog here. I can blog at CureDiva. I can go to facebook. I can go to twitter. I can share photographs on instagram. I have a voice. But not only that, I have a voice that some people listen to, read, and tell me later it meant something to them.

That is an amazing gift.

I can't tell you how grateful I feel when people tell me that something I've written has impacted them, or made them think, or made them look at something just a bit differently than they did before.

One time, someone walked up to me and said "Brandie? Are you Brandie? From the blog 1000 stitches?" I walked on air for a few days after that. I enjoyed it - I doubt it will happen again and I treasure it (though I'd treasure it even if I thought it would happen again).

There is something wonderful about having a voice. Having a space to say what I need to say. Having the feeling that I am being heard.

Someday, I will tell you about the flip-side of this: of how sometimes knowing people are listening, reading, hearing, leaves me feeling paralyzed to write more.

But today, today, I'm very glad that I have a voice. And that my voice is heard.