Friday, May 17, 2013

If I knew then, what I know now ---

If I knew then, what I know now ---  because this is a Lyme blog, you guys might think this is Lyme related in some way.  I can tie that into it, but really it has nothing to do with Lyme Disease or any other co-infections.  
 So many people say, "I wish I could go back."   They want to go back to high school.  They want to do it again - and have the same experiences they had.  Well - I can say without a doubt I  have never once thought, "I wish I could go back."  The High School me blended into the walls.  The High School me was so shy that the thought of making a presentation or talking to people outside of my own little group made me  sick in a literal way.  I hated it there.  I hated it so much that I just wanted to blend in, not stand out, get through the time until college, go away and never go back.  However - life just doesn't happen that way.  If I wanted to see my family, I'd have to go back. Over & over & over again.  If I knew then, what I know. I would have gone back more often.  That's a problem I can fix now!

Most students never get to go back to their middle or high schools after they graduate.   However, I was blessed that my Dad taught at my middle school.  I think I spent more time there or at the HS in my schooling years than I did at home. Adults got me.  They got to see glimpses of the real me.  For some reason I wasn't comfortable in my own shell, but amongst a certain group of people - I would let little glimpses of myself come out. Who am I?  I am the perfect blend of my parents.  I have the humor of my Dad with the sensibility of my Mom.  Sometimes those two sides collide and the humor sticks out and my sensibility side is going, "What on Earth are you doing?"  If I knew then, what I know now.  I'd let everyone see my sense of humor all of the time - and if they don't like it, then it's their problem not mine.

Sometimes I think we get in our own way of happiness.   Right before 7th grade, my family took a giant move.  In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that large of a move - Truthfully from our new house to our old house - was about an hour & a half.  However, might as well been across the country.  My family chose not to go back "home" often - I'm not sure if that helped or hurt.  I almost think if I had been able to keep in contact with my friends back "home" that I would have had a little encouragement to be myself and that if people didn't like me for who I was - who needs em.  So I had it set in my own mind - that life was going to be miserable.  And it was.  If I knew then, what I know now.  Life gets better. 

Do I wish I could go back and be that miserable shell of a person?  Absolutely not.  Do I even wish I could go back and CHANGE who I was then?  Not really.  I think the "blended into the walls" Jennifer helped keep me grounded.  I have so many bad memories of the six years I lived in that county.  However over the last few years, I've come to realize that even more than that - even despite myself - I have so many great memories.  Somewhere through the misery and the tears, I found a bit of happiness things.  I may  not be in contact with every single friend I made along the way.  However, my best friend today - was one of my great friends in High School.  If we hadn't moved there then, I wouldn't have his support now. If I knew then, what I know now.  People would shock me by being better friends that I could ever imagine.

What have I been up to the last few weeks?  I have really not been blogging as much as I could have been.  There is a VERY valid reason for it.  The first reason was the Lyme Awareness Day at the Flea Market.  I already blogged about that, but the second - a few weeks ago my Mom told me that my Dad had finally decided to retire.  This surprised me, but it didn't.  He could have retired 7 years ago.  He just kept at it.  We thought he was going to retire 2 years ago, but he didn't.  So this came as a surprise, but in a way it didn't.    If I knew then, what  I know now.  I would have started really planning a year ago. 

First, I have to say I'm a planner.  I've always been a planner.  I think of about a hundred different scenarios in my head for different things. So over the last few years I've had a general list of things that I'd like to do when Dad finally retired.  However, I had a mere three weeks to put some plans into action.   The big things I wanted to do were out of my comfort zone - technology based.  Now you might think to yourself that I seem to be pretty tech savvy, but truthfully I am not.  I have come leaps and bounds in the last 15 years -however my goals were lofty.  If I knew then, what I know now. I would have started planning a year ago.

However, I pulled this off in a mere three weeks.   There were a few things that I really wanted. 

  • Power Point Presentation of Dad and his classes throughout the years.
  • A Mixed CD of songs that remind me of Dad.
  • Former students and friends coming out for a surprise party
  • The song Celebration playing when he walked through the door (there was a 2nd part to this, but unfortunately that didn't pan out).
  • And some other very important people coming to his final concert.
  • To be nicely decorated.

A Power Point Presentation:  I must say that this was one of the harder things I had to do.  First, I went through the yearbooks at the school.  Then, I had to go pick up yearbooks from his school as I realized my project would be much easier if I could bring them home.  There were no fewer than 15 yearbooks.  One by one, I looked through them and any potential pictures I scanned into my printer - which sent it over to my computer.  I saved them into a file.  It was then that I could start putting together a presentation.  I can't even tell you how many hours it took for me to get it going.  You have to keep in mind that my family wasn't tech savvy.  We didn't always have the latest and the greatest.  We just didn't care about that and it wasn't a necessity.   I only had to do a couple of presentations with power point at school and that was back in the late 90's too.  If I knew then, what I know now - I would have paid a little more attention when someone was explaining to me how to do slide transitions and timing. 

A Mixed CD of songs.  Now I do this every so often. I  thought it wasn't going to be difficult.  Boy was I wrong. I couldn't remember how to do it so it took 3 and 1/2 hours to do the first one.  Once I got to the third one, I had it down pat.  I did probably 10 mixed CD's.  This was my "last minute" project.  I had all the songs on my computer, but I just was so busy the other stuff that I put it on the back burner.  If I knew then, what I know now - I think I still would have had this on the back burner. LOL!

Former Students & Friends coming to a party.  Now this was difficult and it wasn't.  I put together an event on facebook and invited people I knew.  I sent out an email to a few special guests.  I made a phone call to an important family member.  Then let it fall into place.  Now, I actually turned his final concert into the celebration.  I had everyone come to his final concert and then we all slipped into the cafeteria afterwards and waited for him to arrive.  He had NO IDEA that this was going on.  I began to see my dream coming together when I saw all of these people that I knew in one space and knew that some of them were some of Dad's favorite students in the last 39 years.  If I knew then, what I know now - I would have done it exactly the same way!  It was small and intimate. 

The song Celebration to be playing when he walked in. Now I have to say that this was a stroke of luck.  I really didn't think it would happen.  My original idea was to have some band members play for Dad when he walked in, but that just didn't pan out.  In my mixed CD, I had it as the 2nd song.  Once I got the CD going, I was hoping that they'd walk Dad in about 5 or so minutes afterwards.  Now there was someone there that really helped me out with this.  Two people actually.  One was a friend of mine who works at Dad's school.  He actually helped me connect my computer to the projector to project it on the screen. Then there was another guy at the school that brought speakers to connect to my computer.  So once we got the speakers connected - I began to play the CD - and sure enough 1/2 way t rough Celebration - Dad walked into the door.  I couldn't have been more pleased with the way that turned out.  Again, I'd do it the same exact way (Except maybe have them hook up the speakers earlier so we could have had music playing before hand, but then again - it worked out perfectly - so maybe I needed that delay)

To be nicely decorated - Now, I am not a decorator.  To be frank, I SUCK when it comes to decorating.   However, I wanted it to be nice.  In addition, I didn't know where we'd be having the party until a few days before.  So I didn't even know how to plan for the space until the day before the party.  SO, I had a few ideas and hoped they'd come together.

  • Yellow & Blue -  I wanted it to have a yellow feel, so I purchased a roll of yellow plastic table cover and also blue steamers.
  • Balloons - I wanted a really big balloon and smaller ones.  I wanted it also to have a black & white look.  So I bought "note" balloons and black & white streamers.  
  • I bought a "Surprise" Banner.  and other random stuff including music confetti

I didn't have a plan.  I couldn't visualize it until I could actually see it.  SO, we first rolled the tables.  We rolled 18 tables to start.  6 tables were together in one row times 3 - so it was really easy to take the roll down the table.  We opened up the helium tank and began to blow up balloons.  We had 3 Mylars - so 1 Mylar for each set of 6 tables and the BIG one in the middle group of tables.  Then we had 4 musical note balloons so the big one in the middle got two music note balloons while the other two tables got one musical note balloon each.  After we got it started, I began to confetti the table with the musical note confetti.  Things were really coming together.  We had groupings of three balloons around the side of the room we had decorated.  We knew we wanted a table of memorabilia and there were two round tables.  So we table clothed them - and then my brother had the brilliant idea to use the blue  steamers around the round table.  STROKE OF GENIUS.  It really made the tables look great.  We used the one table for memories and I let my brother take care of that almost completely by himself.  Then we used the other ones for guests to sign in. 

I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with the black & white steamers and then the kids had a great idea.  By this point one of Dad's parents - came to help with her children.  She took care of all the food.  We wound up rolling yellow cover down a 4th set of 6 tables for the food and additional seating just in case.   We put the children to work hanging the steamers in the doorway.  Suggested it look like a piano.  They went at it and began putting up the steamers.  Then after they left, my friend cut the white steamers and the black steamers straight so you could really see that the white steamers looked like the white keys and the black steamers looked like the black keys on a piano.  It was amazing!  We cut the surprise banner in two pieces and put one on one side of the projection screen and one on the other. 

All in all, it looked VERY nice.  I can't believe we pulled it off as a surprise. 

I do have a few people to thank.  The principal of Dad's school was a PHENOMENAL support. Anything I requested, he was totally on board.  I really could not have done any of it without his support.  The band parent that went out of her way to ask if she could help and bought food for the celebration.  Then she came to help decorate with her children.  We couldn't have finished in time without her help.  My friend - the teacher - that worked at the school.  There was no way I could have turned my presentation onto the big screen if it weren't for him.  And all the special guests that came out late on a school night to celebrate a school that has been home for Dad for the last 24 years.  And my family - who managed not to spill the beans.  Amazing! 

So that's what I've been doing for the last few weeks.  I really am too pooped to pop, but it was really worth it.  Time well spent.  Lack of sleep well spent.  I love my Dad. I know he knows it, but sometimes - actions speak louder than words.  :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Day of Awareness in North Carolina

First I have to give a shout out to two of my friends who did awareness events in their own towns - One is a rock star of an advocate.  She not only did one day of awareness, but she did THREE days worth at the May Fest at Pilot Mountain.  I couldn't be prouder of her for doing it all on her own with her daughter.  I am sure she's one tired lady right about now.  The other friend lives in Hendersonville and she's doing an event every Saturday with other Lymies in May to raise awareness.  I have amazing Lyme friends - truly amazing.

Now, let me tell you about what we did yesterday.  I will be sharing bits and pieces on the NC Lyme Advocacy blog, but wanted to share with you all first because you're my peeps.

I have to give huge props to my Lyme friend Beth.  She not only got this thing scheduled by herself, but she did most of the posters all on her own along with all of the tr-ifolds.  Her husband and Dad came to do the big stuff including setting up tables and the tent.  They did the heavy set up between 8 and 8:30 before I arrived.  I was scheduled to arrive at 8:15, but then got stuck in traffic so wasn't able to arrive until about 8:40.  It was pushing it, but as I like to say --- it is what it is. 

I got there and somehow found my way.  I get lost easier than anyone I know.  The GPS helps in a lot of ways, but this was a "parking" and "walking" situation where I wasn't sure what the buildings were on the flea market map I had and I was terrified I was going to get lost.  However, between Beth's verbal directions and the nice flea market police officer - I found my way just fine. 

So we got set up.  Our first two volunteers showed up.  This was a wonderful sister pair that really helped us get the booth looking just right.  As we were finishing up and I was explaining to one of them exactly what I had in my "big Lyme book" and some other information - another volunteer and her husband came.  We started off slow.  No one seemed to want to take any information, but as I said - if we helped even ONE person - the day would be worth it. 

A little before 10:30, another set of three volunteers came.  A husband and wife duo with her beautiful daughter.  The wife was diagnosed very short time ago and she really jumped in with both feet for advocacy and awareness.  We are fortunate to have her on our side.  She & her husband began competing in passing out brochures.  Every time one of them passed out something - they'd comment on how they were winning the contest. 

Now I must say something about our volunteers.  They were absolutely wonderful.  I set up an excel spreadsheet with each person having about a 2 hour shift (like 9 to 11, or 10:30 to 12:30).   We had at all times between 4 to 8 volunteers.  They worked hard and they talked hard.  Everyone was on time.  Everyone showed up.  No one got really lost.  They were ALL amazing.  We had Lyme patients and supporters alike - Moms & Daughters, Sisters, husbands and wives.  It truly was a spectacular day of awareness.  In total, there were probably 19 volunteers - more if you include the Lyme friends that popped in to say hello that weren't on the volunteer list. 

I enjoyed my time with each group of volunteers differently.  One volunteer's job was strictly to remind ME to rest - even though she did so much more.  I took care of myself.  I drank plenty of fluids, ate plenty to keep me "energized" and went to the bathroom when I needed to.  I sat down when I was ready to collapse and reapplied sunscreen when I felt like I was getting a little sun.

It was windy all day.  It took a lot of gorilla tape and clear packing tape to keep our stuff in place.  One of the tri-folds only fell down once.  The forecast for  yesterday was "cloudy" and "thunderstorms."  Every now and then the sky would look ominous and once we started shuffling things around just in case it started to pour.  However - the rain stayed away.  We didn't even get a drop of rain.  

I would post pictures, but blogger seems to be having trouble with the download process so I will try again tomorrow.  As tired as I was last night and today, I am so glad we did it.  We talked to many people.  A lot were aware of Lyme, several even battled it themselves, but some had no clue what Lyme Disease was and we were able to give some education on how to properly remove a tick.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

So Neglectful, So sorry!

I'll be honest - I didn't realize it had been so long since I'd written.  I've been just a touch busy and a touch sick.   The touch busy - is that I've been so focused on NC Lyme Advocacy that I've forgotten about my personal blog.  And it wasn't until I saw Kaptain Blue (formerly known as Mr. K) today that I realized that it had been a while since I've updated the personal blog. 

A while back I was asked by a number of people to head up the North Carolina version of the World Wide Protest.  I said that I couldn't head it up because I had so much other stuff going on (with NC Lyme Advocacy & the Lyme Letter Campaign).  So I sent a message to my dear friend Beth and asked her to head it up - knowing that she was really the only one I could trust to really get it set up the way I would have done it myself.  Although we have may different approaches and personalities, our end result is generally somewhat the same. 

She agreed and has done a lot of hard work over the last few months and we settled on doing a booth at the Flea Market on the NC state fair ground.  There was so many things that could have gone wrong today - and while there were a few mishaps - all in all today went well.  I will post more in depth later about it, but for now --- here's a picture --- of me being tired - because I had been up on my feet most of the day. And yes, that is a stuffed tick.