Hope For Progress, Rather Than Fear The Disappointment 

I have gone through months where I’ve effectively given up, only to give myself a wide wake up call that I needed to pick myself out of my funk and continue to try to find an effective treatment. No matter how walls I ran into and how many failed attempts there were, I had to keep trying.
I hope that you keep fighting to find an effective treatment. Or if you’re in a funk and you’ve lost hope, that you find the strength to try again. Because hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Hope that there is a treatment out there, rather than the fear of never finding an answer.

Monday Mantra: Stay Strong, My Soldiers. 

After 10 or so years of fighting different headache disorders while also running into a variety of other health issues, I’ve been reassured by family, friends and strangers that I’m strong. People have said (thinking out loud it always seems) how they can’t imagine how I do it.
While recently I’ve only felt weak, it’s nice to hear others see something different. 
Sometimes, I don’t know how I do it either, though. But I do, because I have no other option. There is no giving up. There is no throwing of the white flag.
So stand tall in your invisible cape. Stay strong. Keep fighting. People never will truly understand how you handle it all, but that’s because they don’t know how strong you really are. 
  

Isn’t That The Place Where… 4.16.07

I can almost guarantee you that every Virginia Tech student, current or alumni, has been asked the question “Isn’t that the school where the shooting happened?” at least once in their lives when they tell someone where they are currently attending or where they previously attended college.

I know I’ve been asked that question more times than I remember. I’m never sure what kind of response people are expecting to hear. I know that they can’t understand from my point of view because they’ll never know what Virginia Tech truly encompasses. It’s hard for people on the outside to understand the feeling of relief after stepping onto campus in the fall after being away for months. As an insider, I have to remind myself that what I experienced as a Virginia Tech Hokie is something too beautiful, rare, and unique to make sense to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

So when I am asked that question in the future, instead I will stop them short at “Isn’t that the place where–” and say this:

“Yes. It is the place I called home for 4 amazing years. It’s the place I met incredible, smart and beautiful people inside and out, some of whom I still consider my closest friends. Those people I called family while I was there. Yes, it is the place where I truly felt myself. Where I could be silly, weird, adventurous and feel completely alive with a group of people who always brought the fun to the party. Where I got to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and carefree Fridays with people who constantly put a smile on my face and rhythm in my steps. Yes, it is the place I learned more about myself than I thought possible. Where I grew, matured and experienced love, loss, failure and success. Yes, it is the place with the most loyal college fan base you will ever know. The place with Enter Sandman blasting throughout the town on Saturday, the stadium pulsing as feet jump up and down in the stands as our football team charges the field. Yes, it is the place where we truly know the meaning of tailgating, whether it’s 8 PM or 8 AM. Yes, it is the place with the best mascot across the board. Yes, it is the place that allows me to brag about being a part of the #1 Relay For Life in the country, raising money and awareness for cancer research, survivors and honoring those we’ve lost. Yes, it is the place where the campus and the people on it are known as an extremely tight knit community, always looking out for one another, always supporting one another. It’s the place where four generations of my family came and left as Hokies—maroon and orange flowing throughout our family tree. Yes, it is the place that I will continue to call my second home. The place that I will always hold dear to my heart. It’s the place that always gives me an overwhelming feeling of love whenever I come back visit. It’s the place that makes me proud of who I am, where I come from and where I’m going.”

That’s what I’m going to say, because that is what I want people to think of when they hear the words: Virginia Tech.

I want people to know that I chose Virginia Tech for a reason. I chose it as my home for four years because I knew I would find family there. I knew that I would  learn, succeed, grow, laugh and love there.I knew that while I welcomed the school with open arms, it would also return the gesture.

From the outside you can’t see it, but the students and professors on Virginia Tech’s campus and its alumni across the world support one another every single day, in so many different capacities. But on this day each year, April 16th, we all gravitate a little closer to one another. We hug a little longer, pray a little harder and feel a lot deeper together. I know that we will always live for the 32 and that we will always remember the loss and hurt that were felt and the tears that were shed that day and every year since. But I hope that people around the world who only see us from the outside looking in and ask us only about the negative will now be able to see what we see from an inside perspective, and be more inclined to ask us about the good.

Spotlight Saturday: An Unlikely Friendship

If you haven’t seen this story yet, you definitely need to! It’s gone viral within the past week of so, and for such a great reason. 

A 330 lb professional power lifter has become best friends with a 12 year old girl with a rare genetic disorder: progeria. 

  
Such an unlikely friendship evolved and a picture showing their special bond went viral. 

  
 He says that she has helped pull him out of rough spots in his life. While it seems that he has helped her stay strong in a body that is only working at making her weaker. 

 People looked at me as strong when everything about her was stronger-David Douglas 💪🏼

If you want a story that warms your heart: read the full thing here: http://aplus.com/a/david-beast-douglas-lindsay-ratcliffe

Tackle Your Tuesday 

If you believe, you can achieve ✨   
 me and my brother entertain ourselves way too easily 😂
But on a more serious note, give yourselves a daily reminder: no goal is too big, no dreams are too far out of reach. Be strong in your efforts and courageous to take on slightly intimidating goals. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

  

   

World Cancer Day

12592548_10154644890478902_5480178304434351877_n.jpg

 My dad and his mother, my Grandma Joan, some odd years ago. 

This is a picture of family. Of happiness. Of strong Italian looks. Of love. Of a fighter.
My grandma Joan’s love for life and all of its treasures was evident to me even at my young age of 7 or 8. I remember her vibrant jewelry, unique yet classic sense of fashion, her soothing voice, her “I need seconds immediately” spinach lasagna, and her warm smile.

What I don’t remember though, was her showing any signs of weakness or illness when she was around me. What I don’t remember was at any time seeing my Grandma Joan surrender to her cancer.

I was too young to truly know what was going on at the time. If my parents told me about it, I don’t remember. Chances are I was in my head somewhere, daydreaming as children so often do at that age. Even as I was taken to visit her in the hospital, I remember clearly that I had no idea why she was sick. I didn’t know what cancer meant or what it did. I just couldn’t figure out what had happened.
My Grandma Joan lost her battle to colon cancer before I got the chance to really get to know her and learn from her. Before I got to be of age where I could learn how to make her famous meatballs and sauce, from the great chef herself. Before I was old enough to retain stories she had about acting, dancing, and meeting all the eccentric and interesting people I’m sure she met. I know I listened to her– as children listen to their elders–because I’ll tell ya, even as tiny as she was, people knew not to mess with her. (I like to think that part of my gumption and strong backbone is due to her) But I was never old enough to truly listen to her. I missed out on stories I’m sure she would’ve told me about my dad’s childhood and her childhood as well. Stories that I would be able to share as I got older.

Now, I’d like to say that my Grandma Joan is the only person in my family who has been affected by cancer. I’d like to say that none of my friends have lost a grandparent or relative due to cancer, like I have.

Sadly, I can’t say those things.

You see, cancer isn’t like other evils. It doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, etc. It doesn’t care if you’re ready for it or not. 


However, cancer doesn’t know that people who face it, are the toughest people out there.

Some win their battles, thankfully. But some like my grandma, do not.

The fact is, no one should ever have to face that battle in the first place. No one should ever have to be put to that test.


I pray that cancer stops striking down on people. I hope that all people battling cancer are able to say that they defeated the beast. But mostly, I pray that one day in my lifetime I see a cure for an evil that is all too prevalent in this world.

 

What’s the Word: Generate

  
To cause to arise or come about.

Any spoonie knows that a lot of the journey involves waiting around for a diagnosis, test results, treatments, answers, and seeing if treatments are even working. Sometimes (too often) doctors can’t figure us out. 

We wait around for positive things to happen in a world where we run into so many road blocks.

Sometimes, though, it’s up to us to take control of our own journey. Be the captain of your own ship, as they say. 

We need to generate positivity in our lives. If we wait around for the positive things to happen to us, they rarely will. 

This is your journey–you’ll be amazed what you can do with it when you put your back into it. 

Song of the Week: “Slow it Down” by The Lumineers 

Song of the Week: “Slow It Down” by @thelumineers 
This song stops me in my tracks every time it plays. I’ve used it as a pillow to lay my head down on during times when I’ve felt defeated, overwhelmed, and discouraged. 
One of my favorite lines of any song is in this song:

And when she stood, she stood tall

It takes a lot to stand up every time you get knocked down–especially when you’re getting knocked down over and over again. And sometimes you just can’t stand up after every knockout. But I tell you this, when you do stand up to all the struggles life’s been throwing you, people will notice and stare in awe.

This song comforts me in a blanket of understanding when I don’t have the strength to stand, but encourages me to gather the courage to do so. Maybe it can do the same for you. 💙

Do any of you feel a similar connection to this song? Or have a song that makes you feel a similar way?

Comment below: 

It’s Not Bragging if it’s True 

  
Well I’m on day 3.5 of this ongoing, debilitating migraine.

  And even when I try to silence my brain to give it a break, I can’t stop the ever flowing thoughts. Because that’s how it works, right? So today I started thinking: 

What’s one thing all spoonies hear almost every single day?

For me, it’s “I can’t imagine how you do that. I wouldn’t be able to handle that.” 

Hearing this has become as familiar as hearing “how are you” or “good morning” for me. From strangers, friends, family, co-workers, and if my dog could speak probably from him too.

Most of the time I think “yep. It sucks.” But sometimes I think to myself: “You know what. That’s a compliment, and it’s very true.” 

When they say “He wouldn’t put you through something you couldn’t handle.” I guess it’s actually true. Us spoonies were given our illnesses because we are strong enough to handle them. Do we still break down in absolute pain and misery? Well yeah, but who wouldn’t? But I look back at so many times of my life (final exams, competitive fastpitch softball games in the summer heat, driving an hour home at night, running the mile in high school, making it through a work day full of loud co-workers and staring at a computer screen) that I fully and willingly participated in while I had full blown migraines. 

Do I think other people would be able to do the same had they been in my shoes? Some people, sure. Other people, no I don’t think so.

So during long migraine (or other chronic pain or illness) spells, while it’s very easy to wish you were someone else in a different body, I think it’s more effective to focus on how strong we truly are. Not many people could deal with this type of pain on a daily basis. Do I think I’m stronger than other people? In this situation, I do. And I’m proud of it.

It’s not bragging if it’s true, right?