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Modeling Care

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” -Dorothy Canfield Fisher

This photo by the lake feels real to me: my eyes are closed and I’m clutching my phone, yet my boys are happy by my side and my heart knows that I am standing right where I should be.

Taking the time to rest models healthy behaviors and nurtures the peace in our hearts. Finding that peace alongside those we love can be one of life’s greatest blessings. I try my best to nourish and protect my own energy because I cherish the responsibility I’ve been given to care for those I love.

Directions Wellness began as a desire to provide a space of safe, practical, natural, energy-based support to “care for the caregiver.”

Why?

Within hours of entering the world of pediatric brain cancer, I wished that there was a handbook -a set of “directions” to help me push past the terror and desperation clouding my judgement and choose what was best for our family.

As time went on, I saw the need for an integrative approach to healthcare, and felt at home bridging the gap between the conventional treatment our child desperately needed to save his life with the support that can come from a variety of natural healing modalities.

For many, healthy options can be difficult to find and implement. Finding ways to feel well despite mounting obstacles became my mission. Over the last five years, that mission evolved into vocation, and the emerging platform became Directions Wellness.

Oftentimes, those who by choice or by circumstance are responsible for the wellbeing of others can lose sight of their own self care. I share my knowledge and experience as a behavioral health educator and functional practitioner as a means to help others discover, personalize, and examine their health options -no matter how seemingly vast or limited the time and resources.

This week, I took my own self-care advice and recharged with family by Lake Michigan. As a result, my body is rested and gratitude fills my heart as I humbly offer my best self to those around me.

Peace, love, practice, and hope…

Infusion Game Strong

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.” -Mother Theresa

With patience and a solid sense of humor, Abraham can bring happiness and ease to some serious situations. Today, our young warrior was exceptionally prepared, present, and positive. Even at the onset of a long, daunting medical task, those smiling, honest eyes let everyone in the room know he was going to be just fine.

Back home, Big Brother Tom shined up the kitchen, washed the windows, and set out these little lovelies (snips of Saturday’s bouquet) to make us feel cheerful, welcome, and calm.

Since May, Abraham knew the stim tests were happening after the 4th of July. Even though he’s been infused plenty, it’s never easy; plus, hormones are new territory.

We were blessed with a smooth day: highly-skilled double IV access to start, a LOT of necessary but swift blood draws, 7/8 of a game of checkers, laughter during two movies (Zootopia and Minions), one ice pack, plentiful ice chips, a puke bucket rapidly taken out that was not utilized, quick traffic (big shoutout to chauffeur Aunt Margaret), and warm sunshine .

Thank you for carrying us in your thoughts today -it lifted us.

Peace and love…

Moments before Cancer

Treasured moments are everywhere. Coach Dad and Babe waiting for the team to arrive is one I was lucky to capture in May 2014.

For many, the simple joys of life are overlooked due to rushed schedules, skewed priorities, distracted downtime, and apathetic outlooks. Yet, with the right perspective, even the worst of days deserve gratitude.

The time we are given each and every day to honor a life we love can easily be ignored, but its value becomes shockingly evident the moment we realize how fragile life can be.

This second photo was taken just as I was leaving for Abraham’s first MRI. We were ruling out a concussion because he’d smacked his head on a newly posted metal sign as he and his brother ran off the T-ball field. I had planned to return to work after lunch; I was to direct these two happy boys and the rest of their class at the 8th grade graduation that night. Instead, I found myself frantically driving a frightened, pain-stricken Abraham to Lurie Children’s Hospital for the first time. The Dan Ryan expressway was under construction and it took nearly three hours to get there. Helplessly stranded with traffic at a standstill, our sweet, always-happy 6-year-old began to cry out from his booster seat that he couldn’t stand the pain in his head and was “absolutely sure” he was dying. My husband, Chris, tried from the passenger side to help us both, but there really was nothing he could do. Our ER experience was surreal -colored in blurry waves of panic, pain, and tears.

Ultimately, the incredibly talented and compassionate hospital team got our little boy into emergency surgery and relieved the pressure on his brain. I remember still being in those same clothes the next day.

So in addition to the happiness this photo represents, I remember that horrific day as graced with blessings because we were pushed by circumstance, guided with care, and able to address the truth of Abram’s situation before it was too late.

Treasurable moments aren’t always obvious. In fact, we rarely know when a particular happy experience could be our last. With gratitude, we can uncover our own valuable truths -as we celebrate each precious day we are given.

Peace and love…

Life Matters

Letting go is not the same as forgetting. Loss happens. Illness and injury happens. But, LIFE happens to matter most of all. What we do with our pain is up to us. Do we ignore it? Do we surrender to it? Do we let it define us? Or, do we feel it, tend it, and grow through it? We are not what happens to us. We are who we become -driven by our choices, our actions, and our reactions to life’s blessings and trials. Notice those blessings; learn through the trials; and nourish the gift of life that remains.

Peace.

Smile Searching

Always in search of a positive path while still living a life in the now.

Smile: it’s Monday!

-Jac

Positive Attitude In Negative Situations (P.A.I.N.S.)

You know Abe’s had more than a couple surgeries when the anesthesiologist asks, “Which flavor mask would you like?” And he looks her pointedly in the eye like DeNiro ordering a cocktail,

“Mixed. One tiny drop strawberry first. THEN, the rest bubblegum.”

Also, Abram said to Dr. Chin as the team wheeled him in to Surgery yesterday, “Doctor, I’m so tired after last night, you’re not even going to NEED those anesthetics.”

Ever the definitive comedian:)

(Chemo Groucho. Chicago, 2015)

Peace, love, and happiness…

Protection Forever

“It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I miss my mother every single day. At scary times when I try to conjure a sense of security around me as “Brave Mom,” I miss my mother extra.

Those who follow our story know how Abraham can sometimes make tough days seem like holidays. Today was one of those days.

Surgery was scheduled for 8:00 a.m., and we’d come up to Chicago a day early to enjoy the city.

Although the hotel was a comforting luxury, we both had a rough night sleeping so near Navy Pier. Fireworks were a thrilling bedtime story, but the continued pulse of hot rods, motorcycles, and 3:00 a.m. rogue fireworks (with a quick follow up of sirens that chased away said rogues) made our 6:15 hospital arrival a bit robotic. Luckily, Aunt Marg is a great driver and RoboMom is incredibly efficient; consequently, we arrived early.

We definitely weren’t robots for long. Every single worker we met from the minute we arrived at Lurie Children’s Hospital lifted us up today: smiling receptionists at the ready; security guards comfortingly on duty; an anesthesiologist who kinda looked like me and definitely shared my sense of humor; a successful on-time surgery; and a smooth recovery without complication.

I snapped a quick pre-surgery shot just as he was ready to roll…

I also shared the following update on Facebook as we waited for the anesthesia to wear off:

“Got it done! Apparently, Abraham was cracking jokes with the surgeon on the way in, and although he’s still a bit anesthesia-loopy, he has the sweet nurse smiling and feeding him a red popsicle. Plus, the hospital has new, improved, Looney Toons band-aids:)… Love and big gratitude, all 💛✨”

As soon as we were ready to leave, two candy-striper-age volunteers found a wheelchair quickly (no small feat) and easily escorted us downstairs -engaging Abraham with a true, sweet tale of his beloved neurosurgeon, Dr. DiPatri having been on “Cake Boss”. We can totally picture it!

Add in our 70-mile transit time plus a huge Rosatti’s carry-out order, and we were still safely home by noon!

So, everyone who sent us the happy feels today, we got them. Your energy wrapped us in a protective, loving grace and carried us through our day.

“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

J.K. Rowling

I am forever grateful.

Peace and love…