Grateful

It’s been a minute since I posted, I’ve been going through a whirlwind of changes. I am truly grateful for where I am today. While sitting in my office looking at my new prints for clients, preparing for a 2’oclock meeting involving a national campaign, and listening to my favorite hip hop from the early 90s when I was in middle school dreaming, (and yes I am aware this is particularly long run on sentence.) I couldn’t help but dance a happy jig! 

Follow your dreams, and dance!

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I’m still breathing I promise

Well…barely. I’ve got a wicked cold and thankfully have finished a ton of work. This week consists of learning new things…which can be tricky but awesome and getting back on my exercise routine.

I have to say change is scary it’s something we want but when it comes we kick and scream like kids without pacifers. Well here’s to me putting on my big girl clothes, let’s get it!


Unborn

I celebrated a birthday today. Not my own but a kindred spirit someone that transformed from a coworker to a dear lifelong friend, Juanita. We sat over a good meal and talked and laughed, celebrated the days spent together and those to come. This morning a Facebook post of another friend announced the devastating news of her miscarriage. My heart ached for her. I knew how she felt because I too lost a little one over a year ago. Few people know about it because I choose to keep it that way not today. Today I announced that my little one blossomed in my womb for 6 weeks. I acknowledge the love and honor I feel at carrying our first child. Our happy little accident for it wasn’t planned but who plans life. I realized something was amidst on my lunchbreak but having deadlines to meet, I went back in notified my superior of what I thought happened and kept working. I scheduled a Dr’s appointment, met with my practitioner who confirmed my suspicions and spent a long labor day weekend aching for a little one that I didn’t even know a week earlier existed. I’ve known loss but haven’t we all? While my husband was deployed to Afghanistan my dear sweet Godchild Jada Michal Phillips “JadaBug” who was born with a genetic condition died at 5 months and 3 weeks old. We buried her on what would’ve been her six month birthday.Her parents were my closest friends and we grieved. 3 days later my husband’s base was attacked. I called my brother at 3am and he consoled me as best he could. He didn’t have any answers why and neither do I. On the day we buried Jada, out of nowhere in a clear blue sky, a rainbow appeared. Somehow, in some universe she was letting us all know that she was ok. After a few days of grieving the loss of our little one my husband and I went to lunch, the sky was dark and rain drops fell along with my tears. At a red light beyond the windshield wipers, I saw a rainbow on the horizon, as we got closer I noticed it was two. It would be nice to say that I haven’t mourned since then, but my heart ached when I held my friend’s newborn and when I saw pregnant women go by or when the time approached that would’ve been my due date. I thank God for the fact we produced a life. I celebrate that life no matter how short. I gained insight in my loss and strength to follow my dreams. I realized I wouldn’t have time to dedicate to my little one like I wanted on my current career path. I was not fully living our stepping into the dreams I had for myself. I thought of all the wonderful things I would’ve told my little one and thought about my own negative self talk. I realized if I wouldn’t talk to my baby that way, why was I talking to myself that way. His life enriched mine and I am grateful. I am thankful for the strength and courage. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Tuesdays Gone was an accurate portrayal of how I felt; Train roll on, on down the line, Won’t you please take me far away? Now I feel the wind blow outside my door, Means I’m leaving my baby behind. Tuesday’s gone with the wind. My baby’s gone with the wind. And I don’t know where I’m going. I just want to be left alone. Well, when this train ends I’ll try again, But I’m leaving my woman at home. [chorus] Tuesday’s gone with the wind. Tuesday’s gone with the wind. Tuesday’s gone with the wind. My baby’s gone with the wind. Train roll on many miles from my home, See, I’m riding my blues away. Tuesday, you see, she had to be free But somehow I’ve got to carry on. Carry on I do, like the wind my baby will return. We’ve followed our dreams and are creating a warm and loving environment for our future little one. And one day like the many I’ve loved and lost, we will graduate to our next stage of being, and hopefully we’ve left a little courage behind to live before dying.


Now where was I?

It’s been awhile since I updated this so I have plenty to share. To start off my last day at Methodist Rehab which was over a month ago was busy, sentimental and beautiful at the same time. As soon as I got in Juanita had roses for me. She said,”Here’s the last of my roses, they lasted just as long as you did.”

I immediately began to tear up and gave my lifelong friend a big hug. We dried eyes and got to work, there was plenty to be done and the clock was ticking. The rest of the day was filled with beautiful hugs and heartfelt gifts from former coworkers, now endearing friends. One keepsake my husband snatched for himself it’s a nice necklace that simply states, “I am inspired.” My boss gave me a beautiful angel for my new office and Juanita gave me the most beautiful cross I’ve ever seen. 

I received so much from so many, I just hope I’ve given them something in return. For the past 6 years, we’ve been family and I miss them dearly. On the way out the door the elevator inexplicably stopped on the fourth floor where my dear friend Jane worked. Without hesitation I stepped out and yelled her name like I normally did when I saw her; JJJJAAAAAYYYYYNNNNNNEEEE!!!!! It did my heart well to know that even though she’s skywalking she took the time to touch the earth and wave.

It was an emotional weekend as I came to grips with the fact the Monday would be totally different from any one I’ve had in 6 years. I woke up refreshed, recharged, grateful and ran 2 miles. Since then life has been a delicate balancing act working hard, long days but being excited at the same time. I’m trying to learn how to schedule downtime and not work all the time. It’s hard because 90% of the time work doesn’t seem like work. Have I made mistakes along the way absolutely. It’s okay because I’m learning  and loving every minute of it.Image

 

 


Juanita’s Roses

Yesterday was a beautifully remembered Friday.It started with a bit of anxiety, various shots of inspiration and magazine design. There was a decision that needed to be made, one 6 years in the making and I’d figured today would be the day, after much prayer, debate and soul searching. My heart soul and mind were all in agreement it was time. I followed a loose schedule for the morning headed out the door and began the final stages of designing my ninth magazine for Methodist Rehabilitation Center. Before I headed out the door, I listened to the late Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement address on an Apple computer. Truth be told, Apple was the very first computer I owned as a kid, it was bulky had huge drives and I loved it! It was a hand me down, not as cool as my cousin’s computer where we played “Reader Rabbit” but it was mine. Years later a flood would render my treasure useless, and while I was in college training for graphics on high tech, G4s my mother quietly threw it in the trash.

The words of Jobs, a reflection of my life, the death/evolution of a lot of those around me all played a slow soundtrack through my day. I went through the motions, diligently dotted all I’s crossed all T’s in my quest to finish up my design project. In my haste, I was reminded by one of my good friends, co-workers, “not to forget my flowers.” It reminded me of a sentiment and a song my mom always sang on Sunday mornings while fixing home made biscuits. “Give me my flowers, while I can see them.” Out of tune, with flour covered hands she’d hum the ditty as I listened and sometimes that ancient apple computer buzzed in rhythm. I smiled at the thought and gave my dear friend Juanita a hug. When, I was a kid I spent a few days as a candy striper and I loved it. I found a connection and a love with those in nursing homes and a deep pain in my heart for those who were left with no loved ones to check on them. I found these souls especially rich and fascinating.

Juanita has a few years on me but her words and hilarious antics are fresh everyday as are her roses. She grows the most fragrant and beautiful roses that I or those around me have ever seen. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of having or smelling Juanita’s roses you truly have been given a treat. Every week she brings in fresh roses from her garden to share with her office and at the end of the week she gives me those roses for the weekend. I sometimes share with those who marvel at them on my way to my car.

As my day came to a close with page numbers added, wayward text converted to outlines for packaging and the final product wrapped into a nice shiny bow and uploaded to an FTP site for completion. The decision had been made the letter typed and the time had come for it to be delivered. I turned in my resignation letter.

The past six years at the Methodist Rehab center have been some of the most fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding years of my life. I started as McNeil and left as a Brice, I’ve celebrated countless holidays at the company’s parties. Co-workers prayed me through my husband’s year in Afghanistan and celebrated with me when he returned. I made numerous and lifelong friends, I have immense respect and admiration for the therapists, staff and patients. However, it’s time for a different part of this journey called life and nothing makes me happier than working Brice Media. I can be a photographer, graphic designer, fine artist…I can just BE and that brings me immeasurable joy.

I didn’t forget my roses each and everyone having their own beauty and fragrance and I walked out the door with a huge smile both in my heart and on my face.


So how was my birthday?

In a word, AWESOME! My husband and I scheduled changed the week before and because of new gadgets (ipod touch, running shoes etc…) Started new exercise regime. My good friend Jane 🙂 attended a “Chicago” concert at the Golden Moon and Casino. In her words, if you’re not going to take off and celebrate your birthday, I will. Lol! I was told she had a great time and that makes me smile, knowing she was happy.

As for me I worked, my boss gave me a sweet card and two gift certificates one to my favorite restaurant and the other to a bookstore. I had lunch with my mom and hubby as my mom went on to talk about my grand entrance into the world and how extensive and painful her labor was. Later that day after work the Madison County Chamber of Commerce had a tailgate party that we attended, in our 80’s gear for the later Annual Storyteller’s Ball. It was good food great times and of course and awesome photobooth from MS mojobooth. Later we picked up our good friend Nicole Marquez for the Storyteller’s Ball. We had a great time and though my MJ drawing didn’t win anything it looked pretty awesome on the wall. I met a lot of people, made a lot of contacts and danced the night away. It was the best birthday I’ve had in years and will always be one of my favorites. My Facebook friends sent me birthday wishes and I closed my eyes that night feeling the world had given me a giant hug.


Jane

I have not been on top of my game lately. As a matter of fact, I haven’t been 100% since Tuesday August 30th. I was scheduled to shoot photos with one of my favorite photographers for my job at Methodist Rehabilitation Center,and at lunch attend a surprise farewell party for my husband from his full time job with the U.S. Army. Around 11 a code blue was announced over the hospital loud speaker, followed immediately by a second code blue and any “physician stat.” A coworker of mine who was in my office at the time said, “That’s not good when the call one twice, what’s going on around here?” I silently said a prayer and went back to downloading the photos, when shortly after a coworker of mine called and informed me that the code blue was for a fellow worker Jane and asked if I had any contact information for her family.
Obitwbleeds


I paused unable to speak or breathe, my Army wife instincts kicked in, no time for tears only for action. I only had email addresses from contact with her family. Only weeks earlier they surprised her by taking her to lunch on her completion of chemotherapy. I helped orchestrate the surprise with her boss. I have to begin by telling you about who was Jane Luke. First and foremost she’s my friend. She’s worked at MRC before the doors officially opened more than 36 years ago, and we became close during the renovations of the 4th floor where she worked. She was temporarily moved to my office suite on the 7th floor. She usually arrived early as did I, and we would spend our mornings swapping stories and laughing. We found we had so much in common besides our age differences, even though she was almost 65, she loved hip hop music and art among millions of other things. She used to visit my office just to look at two Outkast paintings my friend, Marques Phillips created and were on my wall. I have an email where I asked her how she was feeling, and she responded with Big Boi’s chorus off Ghettomusik, “Feeling good, feeling great, how are you?” She along with my other coworker Juanita were my official female version of “Grumpy Old Men”

The were absolutely hysterical, and even though Jane moved to the newly renovated 4th floor we touched base at least 3 times a week, through email or office visits she was a bright spot in my workdays. But not only my work days but all those around me. The walls of MRC are a bit muted without her but I guess that’s where I pick the story up again.

Jane had been ill, and against doctors orders returned to work after an appointment. This wasn’t entirely unheard of especially considering the fact that she took her chemo treatments on her lunch break. After her coding our medical team along with our neighbors(University Medical Center) brought her back to this side. They started her heart back and she had begun to breathe on her own. That Tuesday afternoon my husband and I visited her in the ER, Wednesday they moved her to ICU, I hoped and prayed. Thursday her beautiful blue eyes were open but she wasn’t entirely there, Friday scan results had concluded she was in a vegetative state and the very tough decision to pull the plug, was made by her loving family. Through the whole ordeal they were loving, open and gracious and shared her life and her moments openly with her coworkers. They are all made from the same unbelievable magic as Jane.

On Saturday her vent was removed and early Sunday morning, one of the most amazing and talented women to ever walk the face of the earth flew home. To say I miss her is an understatement. I keep thinking I’m going to run into her or get an email and I’m still coming to grips with the fact that she has truly left the building. She left so much love, and so many memories behind and everyone at MRC who crossed paths with her is absolutely heart broken. Her passing took a bit of wind out of my sails but I float on knowing she would have it no other way. I know how much she loved me and I loved her the same. I have so many emails and great memories of her, she loved Star Wars and if it was divine plan a Star Wars marathon was on the day after her passing.

We all have stories to tell and we’ve all faced hills to climb but I honestly must say this one has not been easy, her passing was so sudden and unexpected and for dozens around her life shattering.

Create art, yea I still manage but I’ve lost my spark. They are not as clear and vibrant as they once were. I guess that’s ok, I’ve won accolades motivated by her, but her not being here to share them make it bittersweet. Life is so precious and I’m so grateful to share this ride with all of you. I just know one day the bus will stop, it will be time to journey to our next destination but I sure enjoyed the ride and learned a lot from the miles we’ve traveled together. Godspeed my good friend, you live forever in my heart along with the hearts of countless others.