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Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I Learned This Week in ICU

My grandmother has been in ICU for 5 nights and 6 days. Last night they transferred her to an acute care hospital that specializes in getting her off the breathing machine. Here are the 6 things I have learned so far from the experience in no particular order because I'm still too tired to prioritize.

1. How you treat people will always come back around 
My grandmother worked in our hometown hospital as a nurses aid for over 20 years. According to the nurses now, she was a "damned good one". There were people coming up to visit her that I have never met telling me stories about my grandma and how she had taken them under her wing. They all told me how much they love my grandma. They cared for her with their medical expertise and their love because my grandma treated them well.

2. Everyone reacts to crisis differently, try not to judge
These situations suck. Everyone responds differently. Don't judge them, love them, know they're hurting too.

3. Prayer is productive, Worry is a drain on the system
For generations my family has used the words worry and care synonymously. They call and say, "I was worried about you." Read: I care about you. I see what worry does to their blood pressure, their anxiety level. They're working hard to slide in the prayer where the worry used to be. Prayer calms and soothes the soul to turn it over to the Guy that's really in charge any way.

4. Things always look better in the morning
I slept in the ICU 3 nights and spent 5 days there. The nights suck, and the morning renews. Isn't it that way with any situation that has you down? If we can quiet ourselves at night and turn it over in prayer, the morning light often renews our spirit.

5. Social Networking is the Best Prayer Chain Ever
My heart is full with the messages I receive from friends and family and virtual friends I have never met in person. We have been lifted up in prayer day after day after day. Sure Facebook can be a place to post pictures of your cat in a tutu but it's also a place to lift each other up.

6. Smoking Sucks
My grandmother's surgery was to remove a piece of her colon that had cancer. They got out the cancer, closed her up and that healed quickly. The fact she has smoked for 60 years is what is threatening her life every minute.

A note to smokers: I was one of you many many years ago. I know it's a choice and I know it's an addiction, but never for one minute believe it's just about you. I have to believe that my grandmother never wanted me to stay up all night leaning over a rail on her hospital bed watching her gasp for every single breath and fight the tubes that are down her throat and pushing oxygen into her lungs. She loves me too much to want that for me. Yet, she put me in that situation by smoking.

I know it's a hard hard thing to quit because I did it.

Today for a minute, picture your spouse, your kids, your grandkids, leaning over that rail, praying like crazy that you live through the night. 

Picture them watching you fight that breathing tube and not able to communicate except with the panic in your eyes while you are trying to breath.

Hear the sounds of beeps and alarms of machines brought in to keep you alive.

Hear the sound of tubes being stuck down in your lungs and the sucking sound of fluids being drawn out from the pneuomonia that has set in.

Feel the fear in their hearts.

Hear the doctor say with that tone to his voice, "You know, he/she is a smoker." and know they mean, we can't guarantee you'll make it through this surgery because your body has been beaten and broken by those choices.

Just like my grandma, you do so much for your family, your kids and your grandkids. You just want them to leave you alone about the smoking. We can't. Because in the end, that might be what causes the end. I know that isn't how you really want to remembered.

You have the opportunity now to do it differently. The pride they would feel if you reached out today and started a journey to breath free would send the signal to them that you really want them to know. They matter. Do I Want to Quit

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Obsession with the Gaps - Five Things I Screwed Up Yesterday

I gave a talk yesterday at a TEDx Conference in Fort Wayne Indiana. To be accepted for a TED talk is a big deal in my book. To be accepted to talk about a topic of my creation doubles the big deal factor.  Most of you loyal readers know I am writing a book about ADHD relationships called Not Wrong Just Different. I had the first chance to take my ideas and present them orally to an audience.

I prepped and obsessed over this talk.  Public speaking doesn't freak me out, I do it for a living and I get a big rush from it. I enjoy that part. However, this time was different.  This wasn't a topic some famous bald guy wrote like I usually talk about. This was my stuff.  It could be judged as right or wrong, good or bad, it wasn't already validated by a best selling author and leadership guru like my other stuff usually is.

I wrote, revised and practiced for weeks. I had moments of euphoria while practicing where I actually stood in front of the mirror and cheered because it felt like I had nailed it.  I had moments of fear and panic where I dropped to my knees and prayed that God would get me through it.

So yesterday the culmination of fear and euphoria played out in an audience of just 100 people.

After my talk I sat down vibrating from the experience.  There was much applause which I hoped was real and not just the politeness of a midwestern crowd. The speaker that followed me was complimentary and asked them to give me another round of applause, again I wanted to accept that as validation that I had in fact "nailed it".

Then came the first break after my talk. A brilliantly talented artist pointed at the QR Stencil art he had created for the conference and told me it was his hyper-focus of ADHD that fueled it. The mom of the speaker that followed me was excited to talk. I had given her words and metaphors to describe how her mind worked, she realized she has ADHD and so does her son. Her son and her husband joined her, all talking at once, excited to have voice for their feelings and a voice that wasn't a curse but validation of their creativity and intelligence.  A college professor shared her story. She too was ADHD and Dyslexic and had some that didn't want to hire her because of her testing. Yet she is now assigned the ADHD students to help them through and be their advocate.

The feedback continued through the next break with grown men wiping tears. They waited their turn to tell me that I had described their childhood and they finally felt validated. A man my father's age said he didn't know much about ADHD but I was the best speaker he had ever seen. Several times I had to hold back tears. All early feedback pointed to success.

TED talks stand for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. I had some fear early on that my topic would stand out as too different. The one that didn't fit. Exactly the opposite had happened. The brilliance and intelligence of ADHD had become a theme that ran throughout the talks further validating each of the ADHD minds in the room giving them spirit and validation that being different and creative was in fact what we need now and into the future.The TED speakers and audience really are an ADHD tribe.

I felt the sense that I had created a topic that resonated. I have hope that my book will in fact be published. The goal is not to just see my book published but to know that I have helped someone, some family, some child that is struggling. Early feedback from the talk said I was accomplishing my dream.  I should have popped the champagne and released the confetti.

Instead, this has been my mind since I wrapped my talk at approximately 11:30 am Eastern time on Saturday May 14th.

1. Oh my gosh, there was a small pink PostIt note stuck to my shirt the whole time. I wonder who couldn't even hear me because they were fixated on the pink sticky note that happened to be attached to my left breast. I know people saw it because two of them told me.

2. An attendee informed me politely and in a very Midwestern helpful way that I had attributed something to the wrong author. I had googled it several times to validate I had the right guy and I was still wrong. Google is never supposed to fail me! The man was nice enough to give me another pink sticky note with the right author written down so I didn't make that mistake again. I now hate sticky notes. Especially pink ones, but am happy that people care enough to join in my quest.

3. I had left out a Henry David Thoreau quote that I had practiced incessantly for a 9 and a half hour flight from Munich to O'Hare. I had then broken down and put it into a slide because I feared I couldn't remember it and would panic. It was a part of my strong emotional close and I loved it. Then I forgot to use it.

4. I left out a funny line in one of my examples that I had known would get me a good laugh. A reference to Alexandar Graham Bell followed by a Verizon, "Can you hear me now?" reference. Funny stuff. I left it out.

5. Because of #2 and my incorrect reference maybe they will pull the opportunity for my talk to be posted on the TED YouTube site. An honor I had anticipated and salivated over. This was to be a chance to validate to the book publishers that I was worthy of publishing, that TED had chosen me and they'd be an idiot not to.  I anticipate my defensive move. If they do in fact post my talk,  I will be ready as the first commenter to confess my mistake and prevent the ugly YouTube "commenters" from bashing me over and over again and missing the point of my talk. YouTube "commenters" are a relentless crowd that remind me of the Mean Girls movie in print.

Those are just the five heinous points that have pulsated in my heart and brain for nearly 24 hours now. I've been too overwhelmed with those to pull out my notes and see what else I might add to the list.


Why must I obsess with the gaps?

I tried to immerse myself in tivo'd Idol last night to drown the voices in my head, only to have my favorite, James Durbin, voted off and remind me that great talents fail when they don't completely resonate with the masses. Crap, that pulled me right back to my 5 reasons I had failed.

A few times I actually shuddered in frustration and pain for that list. Even though I had Twitter validation all through the evening from conference participants tweeting my success and the numbers to my Facebook Not Wrong Just Different page growing.

I'm feeling the full extent of what it means to put something into the world that is entirely your own. Something you are so passionate about that the critic in my heart and head can't rest until we perfect and refine and apparently do a lot better research to ensure Number 2 never happens again. I now understand why musicians and stage actors shouldn't read the reviews the next morning. They should relish in the applause of the crowd because the crowd is the majority, the critic the few.

I also realize that to put something so important out into the world means to open people's hearts and minds to have opinions and not everyone will see it the way I do. 

I'm going to pull myself out of bed this morning and work diligently to remember that the masses were complimentary and based on my care and response that I must keep writing and refining and putting this topic into the world because it seems to matter. As they say at TED, I have found "an idea worth spreading."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What I Learned about Life while on the Bourbon Trail

When my BFF invited me to go on the Bourbon Trail for my birthday weekend I was stupid with excitement. Her and I on a weekend road trip through the hills of Kentucky with a bourbon taste at every turn was the perfect way to wrap up my birthday month.

 I'm a planner. I work for an effectiveness company.  I have every planning location service app available. I rarely get a tank of gas without checking my CheapGas app to find the best price.

On this trip, I was reminded that too much planning doesn't allow the good Lord to step in.

Before the Bourbon trip I surfed the Interwebz of info for the best places to sleep, eat, drink, drive and how to position ourselves not to drink then drive. Fortunately for me, my work schedule was so great before the trip I didn't have the time to really map it all out, nail it all down and plug it into my calendar. We booked a B&B on Friday night and a hotel on Saturday night and off we went.

We arrived in Bardstown KY and checked in to Rosemark Haven.  We had missed the last dinner seating so we were on our own to find a dinner spot fit for two weary Foodies in need of wine and deliciousness. We drove the mile into town and things were hopping. We skipped on Mammy's which was packed with a banjo player to go with their grits and greens. We eyeballed a couple of pubs and bookmarked them for a nightcap. I did pull out the Around Me app and found a place called Circa that looked interesting. I hit "map" on the app. It should have had a voice that said, "Hey, brilliance it's right in front of you." Sure enough, all I had to do was look up and there it was in a cute as a button yellow house.

We sat down at Circa and knew instantly we were in for something special. The placed smelled like heaven, white table clothes and big beautiful wine glasses. We were home. We ordered our vino and started to salivate over the menu. We started with an appetizer called "46" Beignet. It's named "46" after Maker's Mark's only new product in 46 years. This fried dough filled with barbecue pulled pork with more of the "46" bourbon BBQ sauce to dip. O M G!!!

Our salads were also fab with the highlight being the pesto on my caprese salad that must have been made while we were parking the car it tasted so fresh.

The entrees were equally impressive but we must note the Rosemary Rolls tasted like spring. Literally. They were like a cool breeze and the first smell of cut grass. I'm  going to write and beg for the recipe!

On the way back to the car we swung in to a local pub for a nice bourbon nightcap. We were greeted with the happy surprise of a live band playing our favorite Tom Petty song. We bellied up to the whispers of the locals who quickly became like old friends. We danced, we laughed, we mingled with the carpet cleaners and the hog farmers.

This may not sound like such a big deal to a couple of gals that have spent many a Friday night in a honky tonk with a bar tab. Let  me tell you why this was special.

Two weeks prior on the night of my actual birthday, I told another friend my idea of the perfect night. I told her I longed for a friendly pub with a live band where the proper attire was jeans and boots and I laughed and drank and danced until they finally had to close the doors. That's exactly what we had found. By accident. Without an "app" or a map.

Of course we know that it wasn't an accident at all. The good Lord knows better than Urban Spoon what we need on a Friday night. I was reminded of a valuable lesson on this trip.  We can plan too much and not pray enough. That applies to dinner and destiny. Once I let go, all that I had asked for was laid before us.

The rest of the trip had the same vibe. Stay tuned for more reports from the Boots, Bourbon and Birthday tour.

Circa Restaurant on Urbanspoon