Extreme Makeover: Life Edition

Last night I went to a sister consultant’s Red Jacket Ceremony. It was in Sierra Vista and I was able to travel down with a couple of other sister consultants and attend the Thursday night meeting for the ladies there. There were seasoned consultants, brand-new consultants, guests and those of us who’d driven down from Tucson. We ladies from Tucson were the only other Red Jackets so it was nice to be a part of her ceremony.

Red Jacket ceremonies are done differently in every unit, and ours is designed to make the one moving up feel very special. We light candles and Marye plays a special song and we recite an oath  to uphold the honor and principles of our company and our unit. It’s simple and sweet and all the Red Jackets stand together. After that, those of us who are at red jacket level and our director, present the newest with a small gift, generally something red like a candle or a piece of jewelry. Nothing major, but it’s a very thoughful touch and the evening is all about the honoree.

As I was sitting there before the the meeting started, I was remembering my own ceremony and that led to thinking about  how different my life has become in just a few months. Last year at this time I was just coming to the realization that it might be time to do something drastic. I was fighting what I knew I should do because I lacked faith in myself and in God’s appearent plan for me. Funny; I was praying for direction and then stubbornly refusing to take the path He was pointing to. It was probably lightly compareable to that scene in “Bruce Almighty” where Jim Carrey is driving and  praying and asking God for a sign and there’s all these signs saying “Stop”,”Danger”, ” Slow” and he ignors them and gets into an accident.

Well, thank goodness there were no accidents in my future. I’m not sure what was, but my husband said something that really made me think. He reminded me that God sent a big fish after Jonah because he tried to run away from his responsibilities. ” That’s an analogy, babe,” he said,” but I’m pretty sure He can send some kind of ‘fish’ to get you on track, too. I don’t what it might be, but it wasn’t pleasant for Jonah, and I’m guessing it won’t be pleasant for you, either.”  I considered that and found it to be a convincing point. I went in the next day and tendered my resignation.

I say that with humour, but I’m pretty convinced something  was in the works. I was frustrated and stressed and I felt as if I just couldn’t keep up what I was doing. I was distracted and just skimming along. I might’ve made a seriously bad judgement call and gotten myself canned. Really, it was time to go.

These last few months have been some of the most intense of my life. I’ve struggled and been disappointed. I’ve had cancellations, no-shows, and people who’ve just plain blown me off. Seriously, the rise in technology has given people a whole new plethora of ways to be very rude or disdainful and I’ve been experiencing quite a few of them.

But, I love my life. I love that I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I love that I can sit outside on my porch on a spring morning to do my work. I can meet teammembers for coffee or lunch during the week. My office travels with me and I can sit in the park, the coffee shop or snack area of a store or mall and do my job. I get to peruse the stores and look for ladies who might like my business card. I now look for something to compliment in other people and I’m less inclined to be negative when I look at them. I’m around happy people on a regular basis. My work day starts with an 8am conference call with happy, encouraging people. My day starts off good!

I’m re-discovering my old self. My marriage has gotten better. I’m learning to leave the bitter comments aside and the critical thoughts are losing ground in the forefront of my mind. I’m plugging in to encouragement and giving it out by the bucketful. I love to say something that may make someone’s day. I like to hear that my words were appreciated and I made them feel pretty or smart or welcome or wanted. I like to hear that I lifted their spirits when they were feeling so low. Before I took that life-changing leap, I was always looking for the next shot of happy. I constantly day dreamed of being alone and quiet and having nothing to do but sit and listen to nature sounds. I don’t need to do that anymore. I love to go to work. I love to have no schedule. I make the schedule.

The best part about this new life is the ability I have to do something more for others. I have time to volunteer. For years I have felt the pull to give back some of the help I was generously given by the doctors and nurses and volunteers who came alongside our family to help us care for Khristopher. I was constantly amazed and grateful for the way so many went above and beyond the call to help us in so many different ways. The kindness was so deeply felt by this mom who often had no idea what to do or how to react or how to face the enormity of what we were dealing with as a family.

When Khristopher died, I froze. I thought I was being so brave and strong, but I was really taking all those raw, painful emotions and freezing them and locking them up. I set about trying to push us all back into a normal life without taking any time to process that grief. I disconnected from those kind people very quickly and told myself that it was so they could move on. But still, I felt a pull to do something similar for someone else.

If you’ve read these blogs since January, you are aware of how fast my life has been moving as far as inner change has been occuring. One of the reasons making my own schedule appealed to me was the idea that I could find a way to be of service in the Tucson community on a volunteer basis. Still, I had made no move to really do so until I told my good friend Katie what my goal was, and she suggested I return to those places where I had been and speak to the people there, and offer this to those other moms who were going through a similar experience to my own. Since my passion is to spare people the heartache of a lack of choice concerning their kids, it seemed an excellent idea.

I screwed up my courage and went to the children’s clinic and then to the hospice to offer my services as a volunteer. I wasn’t going to sell, but to use my business as a vehicle to do something nice for the parents and families of those who were sick. Being a parent and often in the hospital for days with my son, I knew how much a little pampering could mean to the families there. You’re so concerned with your loved one that your own needs and comforts get shoved to the back burner. I wanted to give them a little pampering time that allowed them to remain near to their child. I would come to them. Having been there, done that, I could also be a listening ear for those who needed to talk.

My application was accepted by hospice and, as of last Wednesday, I’ve completed my 30 hours of training. I only have to have one more interview where we talk about placement and the hours I’m available.

I was so scared when I walked into the training. I literally held on to the seat of my chair to keep from running out because I was so worried I couldn’t handle the emotional part of what I was doing. I prayed for God to hold me in that seat and I managed to make it through the first day. Every day got easier, and I was leaving fear and trepidation behind and replacing it with excitement and enthusiasm.

I knew I had found my place, like a puzzle piece, when the head of the pediatric department spoke. I knew instantly that that was my reason for being there. Yes, I suspected that pediatrics would turn out to be my fit, but I was also worried about how I’d feel and if I was really up for that. I didn’t hesitate after hearing her speak.

I haven’t started yet- I’ve just completed my training- but I’m pretty sure I’ll be alright. I’m so thrilled to do this. I’m so excited about my life and the choices I get to make. I feel like the whole world has opened up and the shot of happy I was always looking for is now the thought of what my life looks like and will look like and where it’s on it’s way to. I will not ‘end up’ in my life; I will arrive!

I really want to keep going with this. I want to donate not just time, but I also have the privilage to provide makeup samples or skin care samples to the adult patients who may like to feel a little like their old self. Sometimes, they just want to feel like they look good. Being terminally ill and in your last days leaves people with the feeling of being lost, even while still living. Getting pampered and feeling like you look more like your old self can have a profound effect on their state of mind and it can bring a measure comfort to the family who has to watch the downward spiral of their loved one. The ways I can use my business to bless others keeps growing and I’ve found that my life make-over is an amazing one. I wish I could share or describe this feeling of ‘rightness’ with you. I wish I could pull you in so you can feel, just for a moment, the deep restfulness of a life on track.

I still have to finish my leadership qualifications. Getting to that position will solidify my ability to continue this and maybe even open more opportunities to volunteer. I have a greater passion for that, now, more than ever. It will put more resources at my fingertips and allow me greater access to ways to bless those in this difficult and sad time of their lives. I can’t imagine a time where there’s a greater need of kindness, companionship, understanding and love. Can you?