A Call to Awareness

It seems there is a trend this month that is creating awareness and teaching how to handle invisible illnesses; just like breast cancer, testicular cancer, ALS, heart disease, and all the other illnesses, we shouldn’t focus on that one illness for just one month and that’s it.* This post isn’t a call to attention about invisible illnesses, but rather a call to be more sympathetic and empathetic human beings.

We need to be more aware that we aren’t the only human beings on the planet and realize that everyone is going through something. There is a saying that I see posted in many doctors’ offices: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always. How true is this? No matter how close we may be to another human being, we will never truly know what their fight is and how they feel.

My husband, Michael, is my best friend and makes up a huge part of my world. Since Michael works from home, he and I spend more time together than most couples. Michael and I seem to share a brain, sometimes; we like the same things and have the same beliefs, like most couples do, but no matter how compatible and close we are, Michael will never truly know how my illnesses affect me, nor will I ever truly understand how work, stress, and my illness affect him.

Every time Michael gets sick, he turns to me and says, “I don’t know how you do it. You feel sick every single day; I hate feeling this way.” I laugh each time because I truly do not know how he deals with me all the time; I have a very short fuse sometimes and don’t know how he can have the patience to look after me and tend to me being sick because taking care of him when he is sick is definitely not on my top ten favorites list.

Yes, I understand the irony that I am preaching that we have patience and compassion and I clearly struggle with it myself. Isn’t that part of it all, too? To realize that we, as in all of us, struggle? It’s a reminder that all of us are human, especially the author of this post. So what can we imperfect humans do? We can listen and be there for each other. We can try our best to be sympathetic and compassionate. We can take the time to learn more about each other and the struggles we face so that we, in turn, can become closer.

I am a perfectionist and don’t like to admit that I am flawed, but when I am with Michael, I know he appreciates when I am honest about my flaws. When I admit that I struggle, it must help validate Michael for the times where I complained about things he did or didn’t do. I hate saying I’m not perfect, but I know that when I do, that is one time where Michael and I do feel close, even though I am sometimes down on myself. When I admit I’m not perfect and that I need help, that is a time where Michael really is my hero. When I am real and vulnerable, he steps in to protect and take care of me. He may not understand fully what I am going through, but he is there to support me in a way that is different than the times where I “act tough.”

Remember that everyone struggles and their problems are real to them, even if they don’t seem like a big deal to you. Take the time to be compassionate, sympathetic, and empathetic. Instead of flipping off or swearing at the driver who just cut you off, pray that their day gets better and that they reach their destination safely. Take the time to listen to what another person is saying to you, rather than sort of listening and shooting out a platitude. Remember that if someone snaps at you and it seems like it is coming out of nowhere, there is probably more going on. If you are in a position to give a hug or a sympathetic ear, do that, but if that isn’t appropriate, you can always pray and wish them well (in your head or out loud, depending on the situation and relationship with the person), hoping that whatever is causing them stress will come to pass.

Take the time to be conscious that others have their own struggles and that no harm has come from a genuine smile and a caring attitude. Just having an awareness that everyone has their own struggles can really help make your every interaction with others that much more real and give you a sense of gratefulness for what you have.

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*To clarify: I don’t think that people affected by these diseases just think about these diseases for a month and can change their focus like a light switch. Sometimes, I do feel these months are taken for granted and there isn’t necessarily an awareness for the illness as much as just a name for the month.

LCBD: Why Did I Have to Change?

Change: it happens to all of us, and our human nature is to be unsettled by change. However, it seems that everyone preaches “Change is Good!”

When my husband and I met, we had an instant connection.

  • We were Disney lovers, math nerds, Filipino, computer geeks, book fans, gamers (video & board), and best of all, strawberry ice cream lovers…everything he liked, I liked too  –  two peas in a pod! (Later, we would also find out that our parents have the same names!)
  • Of course, we also had our differences. I’m loud, energetic, spontaneous, and talkative; Michael is pensive, calculative, calm, and spares his words. I love the outdoors, and he prefers to stay in. I prefer dogs, he grew up with cats. I’m a die-hard for the Lakers…he roots for the Spurs *shudder* – nevertheless, he’s the Yin to my Yang.

They say that in marriage, or any relationship, there are compromises that are made. As our relationship got more and more serious, I’ll admit my strong-headed temperament allowed for me to make less compromises. I influenced him to open up more, try new things, be spontaneous and for my 22nd birthday, he even got me our precious pup, Twix! So, of course, I figured I would be slowly introducing him to things I loved and he never did; he was slowly start to like, and even love, some of the things I really loved. After all, aren’t relationships supposed to help each other become better versions of themselves? That’s part of why I started “Little Change, Big Difference;” little changes made for the better can make a big difference down the line, for ourselves, others, the whole world. However…

I never thought that I was the one who would have to change.

In August of 2011, Michael and I finally lived in the same city after two years of long distance. I started to feel tired and physically exhausted all the time; my job is a house manager (guest services manager) for a performing arts center, so I worked weird, inconsistent, early/late hours. Naturally, we blamed my hours and the physical aspects on my job were taking a toll. Still, I didn’t really understand or believe it.

I worked entertainment at Disney, sometimes standing up with little relief and wearing heavy equipment for 6-10 hours.From Disney Entertainment, I moved to hospitality in the hotels and the job was surprisingly more demanding than standing the whole shift carrying over 15 lbs of equipment. Those past two jobs were more physically demanding than my house management job, yet I kept having physical pains and started to lose strength in my hands.

By January of 2012, I couldn’t even make a fist with either hand. I knew I had to see a doctor when my hands were so stiff that I had to call Michael to pick me up since I couldn’t grip the wheel. We had to have one of our friends follow Michael while driving my car so it wouldn’t get towed.

In May of 2012, just before my 25th birthday, I met with a rheumatologist and was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE). Since then, in addition to our 40+ hour jobs, it’s been doctors, labs, testing, and therapy every week, and almost every day, for me and Michael.  Having had been sickly, including severe asthma and allergies, my whole life, I’m fairly used to the process of going to specialists, physical therapists, and emergency clinics.

Today, we’re at two years and almost ten additional diagnoses. We aren’t even sure if we are much closer to a solution to help my illnesses be less disruptive to my work and social life. This is not written to have you pity me, as I do have a wonderful support system through my ever loving husband, my parents, my siblings, and my closest family and dear friends. I have my faith and optimistic attitude that has me rely on God, knowing that everything happens for a reason and that I can get through anything because I have God and my loved ones to help me through it.

Even with how hard I fight to stay healthy and active, I have learned there are many things I would not be able to do again, or should not do again. Yes, a lot of them are things I liked to do: camping, archery, go-karting, laying out in the sun all day. I have recently realized, dealing with this illness was to help slow down in life. I was running at life, at work, at dreams at full throttle and, though I know what is most important are family and friends, I was doing too much.

My illness has changed me, for the better, emphasizing what is important and bringing Michael and I even closer together, which we never thought was really possible, being as close as we already were. Through it all, God was having me to slow down to Michael’s pace and learn to really “stop and smell the roses.I thought I had all the answers: putting God and family first, doing service, appreciating how blessed you are, be God fearing, spread God’s word, do good (yes, good, not well), and always love and forgive.

This just goes to show that God really does work in mysterious ways; if you wanted to make God laugh, show Him your plans. God has helped me to learn how to truly appreciate all the things I enjoy and can do with my husband rather than pushing him to his limits to join me in other things I found fun. I thought I was changing Mike for the better (in my opinion), but God will always be guiding your life: His will be done. What does God want you to do today? How can you change for the better?

God Bless!

Krazy Kree

 

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LCBD: Time to Spring Forward

blogentry_kristaroseYes, it’s that time of year when our clocks spring one hour ahead, giving us one hour “less” of sleep…only to gain it when they fall back later in the year; the reason for my post is not to remind you to change your clocks, but to look at your life and see where you can spring forward.

What do I mean by Springing Forward?
How many things have you constantly continued to put off? I am a big procrastinator sometimes, it could be because I lose interest and don’t care to finish and other times it’s just because I am not up to doing anything. We can get caught just staring at our screens (TV, tablet, computer, etc.) watching the latest show, playing the latest game, or watching the surprised kitty on YouTube for the millionth time. Sound familiar?

What things have you put off that you can get a move on, now? I’ve been putting off reading some books and working on design projects. I have been saying since New Years that I will focus more on myself and working on my design projects in my free time rather than getting sucked in to the world of Ross and Rachel’s off again on again relationship.

So, since I’ve procrastinated bettering myself and my free time for two months, it’s time to Spring Forward and dive deep into my work and my free time. Why become numb watching mindless TV show over and over when I can dive deeper in love with the things I like to do. So I ask, what can you do today to Spring Forward? What is something you can promise to do that will help you to fight procrastination? Spring Forward and make a difference.

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Thank You, Charlie Brown.

blogentry_kristaroseI feel overwhelmingly blessed to be surrounded with some of the most wonderful, kind, generous, and loving people on earth. People tend to be overwhelming grateful to their parents, siblings, grandparents, and other family members for the way the shape, form, and mold us; rightfully so…however, there are others that you may not be connected by blood but they become family, too.

They said blood is thicker than water, but I also believe the blood of Christ is a stronger bond than anything else in the world. I believe that the single most influential non-blood relative I have is my forever parish priest, for the sake of anonymity I shall call him Fr. Charlie Brown (in honor of our shared love of the beloved Peanuts comics).

Fr. Brown is the most faith-filled, loving, generous, and compassionate person I have ever known. My parents moved to the central coast of California when I was two years old and searched throughout the coast for the “perfect” parish for us, a family friendly atmosphere and active lay ministry life.

My parents opted to move to my hometown of Atascadero, translation from Spanish as “mud hole” (and one dictionary went as far as “a place one cannot escape from”), instead of the gorgeous green rolling hills of San Luis Obispo or the beautiful seascape of Shell Beach. The move was truly just because of our hometown parish and what Fr. Brown made it, which, to be absolutely clear, I would never trade for the ocean or rolling hills.

Fr. Brown and the parish welcomed us with open arms. As we immersed ourselves in the culture, Fr. Brown fostered a wonderful emphasis on focusing on the youth (for blessed are the children of God, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven) who are the future of the Church.

Fr. Brown would send all the volunteer religious ed teachers down to the LA Religious Ed Conference to help our teachers be the best for the parish. I loved tagging along with my parents to the conference, which was so much fun in and of itself, but was even better with the other families from our parish going, as well.

I remember hearing amazing talks, getting awesome material, and attending the neatest masses, including a wave in the Anaheim convention center. What an inspiration to be exposed to such wonderful people and role models, and most especially for us, to see Catholics from all over the country (and even the world) celebrate the Eucharist together.

Fr. Brown cultivated a culture in our parish that not only taught us about God and got our love for the Holy Spirit ignited at such a young age, but he also allowed us to help teach each other. How empowering it is for us to help teach and share our love of God with others. At such a young age we were exposed to amazing, spirit filled retreats full of fellowship, song, and beautiful Mother Nature. We learned of different ways of prayer learned from around the world, like the Labyrinth, the rosary, meditation, and more. We even had a journey to a monastery in Big Sur and shared in their evening vespers.

I could literally go on and on for days on all the wonderful experiences and lessons that I have learned by being part of the youth program at St. Williams and Fr. Brown’s integration into our family, but I will try to be more succinct then that (even though I’ve already gone on for a while now).

Through Fr. Brown, we learned about Notre Dame Vision, which, for lack of a better term, is a
“God camp” hosted by the University of Notre Dame and ran by both undergrad and graduate Notre Dame students. The parish (under Fr. Brown’s direction) sent me and two of my friends to Notre Dame, which ultimately led me to go to school there and meeting the other love of my life (the first love of my life being Our Father, God).

Without Fr. Brown, I know I would not be who I am today. I truly believe that the very fabric of my being was formed by the love and faith of my parents and God (which was channelled through many people, but most especially channelled through Fr. Brown). Without a doubt, I owe such a debt of gratitude of love and more for all that Fr. Brown has done to shape me, my brothers, and all of the parishioners of St. Williams. Though I know that this carries very little weight, and no words can ever express the love, wonderment, awe, and thankfulness I feel toward him, I want to say “Thank You, Fr. Brown.”

-Krazy Kree

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LCBD: A thank you to my students

blogentry_kristaroseTo give a bit of context to the following letter I have to explain my job. I am a guest services house manager at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

I started my work there with the now Junior class at the University, so I have seen these young men and women, remarkable young men and women, grow from little high school youngins to these absolutely outstanding group of kids.

Below is the email I wrote to them for Valentine’s Day with some omissions (Just an FYI, JPW stands for Junior Parent’s Weekend, when the junior parents come visit their child on campus and celebrate with mass, dinner, and fellowship all weekend):

I can’t believe how incredibly emotional I am as I write this e-mail. I apologize that I am not sending each of you individual emails; being sick has caused me to have to conserve my energy and take short cuts, sometimes.

I hope second semester is treating you well. I miss you all terribly, but hopefully I will see those of you still at the center For everyone not at ND, I hope your miss us miserably…enough to want to buy me a ticket to visit? 😉

As Valentine’s Day and JPW approaches tomorrow (I show my ND alum spirit by procrastinating…), I reminisce on many fond memories including Michael and I trekking in the snow to hand deliver all the Valentine’s to student ushers (sorry, not happening this year!) as well as many fond memories of JPW.

For those abroad, sorry that you are missing JPW this year, but you can go next year! Free “fancy” food and ice sculptures. I will say, JPW is the time when most kids turn 21 so it’s their awkward first legal drink that they share with their parents…which is amusing to watch.

Since Valentine’s Day is not exactly a celebration of St. Valentine and his feast day anymore, but more about expressing love for others, I just want to say that I love each and everyone of you.

Whether I met you this year, or you have been working with me for the past three years, you are super awesome and I love you. You all helped me to grow as a manager, mentor, and just as a person, in general.

To my ticket office ladies, it’s no lie, I wish I could steal you for my DPAC team…but that would be unfair to the ticket office…but I still think you ladies are awesome. Thank you for the daily procrastination and entertainment you provided whenever I’d come to visit the ticket office.

To all my students – we handpicked each and every one of you…and it has been wonderful. Thank you all for being little rays of sunshine to brighten my work days.

So, the reason why I am getting emotional is JPW marks the start of the end of your time at Notre Dame, in a sense. You’re in the last leg of your junior year and then you will be graduating before you know it. I’ve seen each of you grow from these baby Freshman, with a fresh exciting energy and nervousness that comes with the territory, to the wonderful young men and women whom I am proud to know.

As you approach the weekend, I want you to all be grateful to your parents, if they are coming in, and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about homework (blasphemy!!!) or other drama, just enjoy this time with you parents because, unless you grow up to leave in your parent’s basement/attic, this will be one of the last times you will be able to spend just with your parents…holidays are crazy, you get married, you only get 2 weeks vacation, you are in a different country…the list of reasons is endless.

Not that I need to tell you all to do this, but be sure to come in with a thankful heart and let your parents know how much you love, care, and appreciate them. Michael’s dad passed away during his senior year at ND, and I can tell you that is one of the hardest things that he and I deal with because we miss him terribly and we feel we never expressed to him how much we are appreciative of all he has done, especially, for me, raising such a wonderful son.

I think it is so appropriate that Valentine’s Day is the start of JPW…make your parents your Valentine this year (No, not in an incestuous or Oedipus complex way) and let them know how you feel (even if you aren’t here for JPW). Ok, enough of my sappy little lecture…I promise!

You are all wonderful young men and women and I am really glad to have known all of you. I hope I can recover sooner rather than later so I can be back at work to spend more time with all of you before you all completely grow up and leave me.

And Remember…It’s always a good time. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnZ4f_E93uw)

Love you guys!
– KR

These men and women have truly made a big difference in my life and I hope I have done the same for them.

Krazy Kree

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We’re Back

blogentry_kristaroseOn behalf of Motivate2Inspire and LCBD, I apologize that we have not posted anything in a while. Throughout my future posts for the upcoming weeks (or at this rate, upcoming decade), I hope that there will be a growing awareness to our big gaps and absence in the past year.

Michael and I have certainly been on a more adventurous roller coaster ride throughout our lives and we look forward to tackling the ups and downs of the coasters, the twists and turns, and even the loop de loops together. We invite you along our journey, as well as the journeys and lessons contained in the stories we share.

We at M2I/LCBD thank you for blessing all of you with our journey and hope that you are blessed and moved by our stories. To even make a small impact on one person, we believe it is worth it. Thank you, our beloved readers.

KristaRose aka Krazy Kree

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LCBD: Love one another

blogentry_kristarose“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I, for one, am always humbled by this bible story, but I try so hard to not judge people. Why is it in our nature to judge and condemn before even meeting someone.

We may never meet someone and give them a condemning look that breaks their spirit.

As mikeypeq22 and I went out to enjoy a meal out for our two month anniversary, the four tables at the window all turned and gave us judging looks, as I have a disabled placard but don’t always use my wheelchair or cane.

Instead of spending a nice meal with my husband to celebrate our anniversary, I slunk into the back corner trying to get the attention off of us.

Yes, we should not get lost in self pity, but I also think we need to be aware of how we treat others around us, even if we don’t interact directly with each other.

Normally, I am the one to let is slide and Mike gets protective, but this time it really hit me hard, how powerful a nasty stare can be. Remember, we should look kindly on each other because we are all God’s children.

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It’s in the little things…

blogentry_kristaroseOver these past two weeks, Michael and I have received many blessings.

Our sister-in-law was taken to the hospital and gave birth August 31st. Blessed little Caleb has been in the NICU but we are blessed with a new nephew. His mom and dad are also celebrating their two year anniversary today.

Last week, in a spur of the moment I decided I wanted to watch a dance show and I was blessed that Michael could come and we enjoyed a wonderful date night.

Two nights in a row this week, Michael and I have had a time to take a break and get lost playing a video game for a few hours together.

These moments are little things that have brought a lot of joy.

As I always say, doing a little can make a big difference (LCBD!)…I am blessed for all the little things in my life that make my life wonderful and perfect, to me.

What little things make your day?

-Krazy Kree

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“Don’t let yourself get in the way of you”

blogentry_kristaroseI had a massage the other day from a remarkable therapist. As I always say, “Everything happens for a reason” because God is in charge, not me. I truly believe God brought me to this therapist. I’ve been living across from this salon for over a year and randomly called over to see if they gave massages. They said yes and were charging me about a third of what my wonderful day spa charges me, so of course I signed up.

I went into the salon and out comes this smaller man and he asks if I’m ready…he looks nervous and awkward and I’m thinking that I am having second thoughts…this isn’t a day spa, it’s a hair salon, there isn’t any calming music, or tea, or water or anything…and then we get into the room and there is harsh lighting and they therapist is very laissez-faire attitude.

I have to say, it was the most amazing massage I’ve ever had. This man was trained to be a medical masseuse and helped a paraplegic to move his hands, helped a woman to walk again, helped so many people. He was originally a mechanic and moved from man’s machine to God’s machine.  He is amazing and he feels that God has called him to be where he is at. He’s changed so many lives and he said the most profound thing to me, “Don’t let yourself get in the way of you.”

What a profound thought. He had a dog and he and his wife wanted the dog to be a therapist dog but they  then said that they didn’t know what the dog wanted…the dog did not want to be a therapist dog but was a very loving and loyal dog for them.

So I leave it to you, let God be the planner…don’t get in your own way.