Monday, November 4, 2013

I am Grateful for: the lack of technology during my youth!

Ugh! Poor kids today. They have many opportunities to publish the very worst of themselves on the regular. I have a few young Facebook Friends (children of my peers) and when they show up on my fees, 9 out of 9 times, I cringe.

I cringe, in large part, because I have no confidence that I would not have also posted moody, passive, accusatory, entitled, and just plain dumb things. I was fortunate that my only emotional outlet came with a pen on a rope and a cheap gold lock and key.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

I am Grateful for: Technology

I can't imagine the last few years without all of the tools I literally hold in my hand. From the very important to the very frivolous, I have been successful in ways I could have never been without it:
managing meds
managing contacts
managing appointments
managing sanity
managing social awareness
and on, and on, and on!



Saturday, November 2, 2013

I am Grateful for: Good Conversation

I am always game for a good adventure or first rate entertainment, but my favorite way to spend time with a friend is deep in good conversation, and a bowl of salsa. I am very fortunate to have many good discussion partners in my life.


Friday, November 1, 2013

I am Grateful for: Life

I get that being grateful for life can sound pretty cliche...but I really, really, really am so glad to wake up each morning and breathe. If it weren't so time consuming, or expensive, or come at such great sacrifice from another, I would suggest that everyone undergo heart transplant. I rarely get bugged, and never get angry. Most everything falls somewhere between "funniest thing all day" to mo big deal...and it is awesome and I feel bad for those who get caught up in the small, or insignificant, or inconvenient stuff.
I still believe that I may never adequately have the words to express how deep and grand and miraculous the changes have been for me. For now I can simply say I really like being alive.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

The KSL Story


Video and transcript here:


Toward the end of 2012, I was introduced to Intermountain Donor Services (idslife.org) through a new friend who works as a procurement technician for bone and tissue donation. I signed up to participate in their volunteer training, learn how to best tell “my story” to a group, and assist at health fairs and speaking engagements. My motivation to be involved aligned two major needs I was feeling; 1.) to give some kind of purpose to my purposeless life, and 2.) find an outlet for expressing my emotions for a yet unidentified donor.

During the same time, two sisters-in-law encouraged me to do some writing to share my thoughts to be published on their two very popular food blogs...I finally came through in February. That article was seen by another new friend, and producer at KSL, Candice Madsen. She asked about doing a story and I trusted her to make it about organ donation and I felt like maybe this would be an opportunity to educate just another small handful of potential donors.

We arranged for filming to begin 3.13.13, and a small group attended my Heart Failure Clinic appointment IMC. It was odd having a crew there for one of my hardest appointments so far. We talked about my increasing Pulmonary Hypertension pressures, the risks of dementia and alzheimer's due to Atrial Fibrillation, radiation poisoning from the excessive images and scans necessary to monitor my care, and the hard fact that not every patient lives to see a donor.
The appointment was heavy, but I had agreed to continue filming back at the house and so I boxed those gloomy emotions for later.

At the house Candice asked great questions, some of which I had thought through many times, others I’d never considered. We wrapped things up and as Candice and Darren packed up their gear, Candice joked that now filming was complete, I was free to get my heart. I thought she was funny, but inside my “emotional box” was already spilling open.

Typically I call my parents following each appointment and give an update. They were vacationing in the Bahamas with John and his family, and I was glad that I would have some time to organize my thoughts before I would have to share with them the loss of hope I was feeling. With a little prayer and quiet time to think, I decided to set some short term goals so that if I really only had a few months left, I would be able to finish some important things on my way out.

The next morning, Thursday 3.14.13, in a haze of confusion, I found myself sending the following text to Candice: “I have a possible donor. Waiting for a final call from hospital, but it may happen today!? You are a good luck charm!!”

Candice and her cameraman Darren came during my 9 hour pre-op wait to capture a little more footage and speak with Brett and Ryan who had come to wait it out with me. The shots she used from that interview, were the hardest for me to watch during the final story...I looked terrified! Two weeks later, Candice played along as the doctors teased a discharge date every day for the next 4 days then came to interview my mom and capture my release (courtesy of the outrageous MA, Torg).

Personally, it was really uncomfortable to do, but as a gesture of gratitude to the woman who made a choice that saved my life and gave me the gift of a new start at life, it was worth it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Smile

I attended a satellite broadcast of a Josh Groban concert with my friend Sherrie Willey tonight. Josh sings the kinds of songs that make me contemplative and one song specifically caught my attention.

(a previous Groban performance)
(music written by Charlie Chaplin, 1936. lyrics added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, 1954)

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky you'll get by.

If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
For you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.

In spite of disappointments and unanswered prayers, I have felt mostly happy the past year. These lyrics nicely sum why I am grateful to be able to smile day, after day, after day.

p.s. 241 days, and still smiling.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Low-Effort Blog Post

I get a lot of "encouragement" to blog regularly and I think about it...I even have a few dozen unpublished articles written in the archives...but when I received an email from an unidentified Uncle, I decided to give in to the promptings.

I'll make some effort the next few days to write in detail about some of the things that have been happening, but tonight I'll just give a quick bit...

Today marks 232 days on the transplant list. Initially I had expected to have had the transplant, completed rehab, and been back to work by now. I was so off on my calculations!

Most of the time I feel peaceful and strengthened and patient. I feel those things deeper than I have any right to feel in my position. I can't help but credit the thoughts and prayers and fasting that is done in my behalf from so many people...I feel fortunate to be able to acknowledge that power in my life.

But occasionally, I give in to the worry and fear and desperation of so many unknowns. Since around Christmas, living in my body has felt increasingly difficult. I had begun to think that I was losing some emotional fortitude, so it was actually a big relief to hear on Thursday that my condition has worsened significantly and I would be scheduled for my 3rd Cardiac Ablation February 12. I am under the care of a new EP, Dr. Jared Bunch, who comes as highly recommend as Dr. Chun Hwang.

I can't help but look forward with a little unrealistic optimism...so I'm still hoping the new heart is here before we have to do the procedure in a couple of weeks. It could happen, right?

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Together

John Denver and The Muppets...still my most favorite Christmas album of all time. (More for the memories than for the actual album, I think.)



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Traveling

I hate to confess that I've now had more Christmases as an adult than I did as a child. So that also means that I've traveled more Christmases too. I've loved maintaining so many great friendships back home and Christmas has always been an exciting time for reunion. Being "stuck" in Salt Lake for Christmas this year might be one of my least favorite things about 2012...and 2012 has really given me a long list to pick from.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Breakfast

The Denneys don't really do a formal Christmas Eve or Christmas Day formal dinner, but I still count on breakfast to have the same menu each year; scrambled eggs with cheese and ham, cherry pastry, wassail, and toast. 
(Seriously mom, I still expect this...every year.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Big Reveal

For as long as we lived on Cherry Way, we saw Christmas morning exactly the same way each year. All of our bedrooms were upstairs and Brett (the youngest) would bounce between our rooms encouraging us to get out of bed. My mom and dad would go downstairs (dad to start the video camera, and mom to finish elvish touches) and we would line up, by age, on the stairs. And then, we the camera man gave us our cue, we would rush down the stairs to see what had been left for us.
It has been fun in recent years to go back and watch Christmas morning after Christmas morning as we moved through our childhood. It's hilarious to see how much we've changed...and how much we've stayed the same. We were lucky that as children, we had parents who were always able to make that day pretty magical.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Movies

Our family typically attends a big blockbuster on Christmas afternoon. I don't remember exactly which movies we've seen, but I remember piling into the car together and hitting the theater. And I don't know that my favorite Christmas movie is one that we saw together, but The Elf with Will Ferrell might always be my favorite!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Company Christmas Party

So, you know what I don't miss about being employed? Having to attend a company Christmas Party. I appreciate that a lot of thought and effort is invested in these events...but maybe I never appreciated it enough. Or maybe I just worked too many hours each week to look forward to an entire evening with the people I'd just spent 60+ hours with. Or maybe this time of the year just really makes me want to nap.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gift Wrapping

I have almost always been the official family gift wrapper. I would climb down to the basement with bags of everyone's gifts and dive into my mom's collection of paper and tissue and ribbon and tags. There were even years when my mom when deliver a stack of unmarked boxes with instruction to resist the urge to peek inside and just wrap them with my name on them. 
Even recent years have found me, in the basement with a pile of items waiting. Although I kind of like the assignment, I just wasn't feeling up to it this year. Thanks to a clearance shelf in a hobby store, I'm taking major short cuts and everything is getting wrapped in christmas deco chinese take-out containers...I may never go back.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doorstep Surprises

I remember driving home from some practice or game or rehearsal each night leading up to Christmas and being anxious to see what treat had been left by family friends or neighbors on the doorstep. There was never a shortage of goodie plates.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

Every year out family would identify at least one other family for 12 Days of Christmas. My mom deserves most of the credit, as she purchased fun gifts and wrote original limericks. We simply did the delivery/doorbell dash portion.
The final night, Christmas Eve, we'd deliver a Christmas wreath and sing a couple carols and reveal ourselves as the sneaks. There was always a lot of laughter as we discussed near catches and strategy.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Up on the Housetop...

I remember a Christmas Eve night, some time after I had learned the "magic" behind Santa's feat, when I awoke in the middle of the night and heard noise on the roof. I sat up in my bed for awhile listening...and I kid you not, I heard jingle bells. I knew better than to expect any of that, and while my parents were dutiful in their part as magician assistants, they were never that dedicated. But I stand by the memory even today, and I think the desire to believe in the things that make me happy, even when there is evidence that I should cease, continues to define me in some ways.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Lights

I remember looking forward to turning onto Cherry Way to see my home lit up in red and white.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Tires

When I have to replace the tires on my car, it always occurs sometime between my birthday and Christmas. This year was no different and as I sat in the waiting area this afternoon I remembered a Christmas Miracle. Maybe 15 years ago, when I was making pitiful money and managing it poorly, I found myself up against Christmas break with bald tires and no money to replace them. I was going to miss Christmas with my family for the first time in my life and, I confess, I was bummed.
A few days before Christmas, after Provo had emptied of my friends and family, I received a call from a tire shop in town. The man on the phone told me that tires for my car had been purchased, and that he needed to schedule an install appointment. An anonymous donor had made arrangements for me to get the tires I needed and with enough time to drive to Denver to make it home in time for the holidays. It was incredibly humbling. The shop owner refused to reveal the name of my Santa Claus, and all I could do was sit in the waiting room and write a Thank You note and hope it was sincere enough.
The past two years have been tight, but I have been blessed again to have enough to take care of the necessities. I look forward to being well soon and paying things forward.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Violins

I started lessons over 30 years ago. I'm pretty decent for a non-professional musician, but I don't pull the violin out often. However, I can always count on dusting it off for the holiday season. Usually it's a church performance, but I can't help but test my memory each year to make sure I still know Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. It is a basic piece that, quite frankly, sounds terrible on the violin...but it's a memory that has stayed with me for a lot of years. (And if you're reading this, and we took lessons from the same teacher as a kid, you totally have that screechy song stuck in your head now too! You're welcome.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snow

Growing up in Denver and now living in Salt Lake means that when I close my eyes and picture Christmas, Christmas is covered in snow. So when the storm kicked in tonight to lay a few inches down over the top of the lights, I cheerfully tuned the radio to the carols and gave in to the spirit of it all.
I know that Arizona and Florida still celebrate the holiday, and talk about reindeer and snowmen...but it just can't be the same when you do it in shorts and flip flops. I like the white stuff.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grandpa Bill

Pearl Harbor Day always causes me to remember my mom's Dad, Billy Beuford Sifford. He was a Colonel in the Air Force and completely lived up to the description of an honorable former military man.

Thinking of him led me to a Christmas memory that may have been the conclusion of the Denneys going anywhere for Christmas. The station wagon was packed tight with hidden gifts for the road trip to Vegas, and the Colorado weather was typical for winter. I remember cold and dark. The rest of this gets a little foggy...we either drove to Vegas on Christmas Eve???...or home to Denver on Christmas Day??? I don't know, it was 30 years ago!!! And speaking of 30 years ago, the holidays meant that stores were closed on those days so that everyone could spend time with family. Well, all stores except 7-11. Which is where Christmas Eve/Day? dinner came from. I guess my foodie side can be credited for the vivid memory of eating soggy gas station, pre-packaged sandwich for Christmas. It was disgusting...but 30 years later, kind of funny.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Caroling

Martha McMullin is the "hostess with the mostess" and has generously included our family in a night of laughter and singing for years. None of us are outstanding vocalists, but I think we were pretty fun to have show up on your porch!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Church Christmas Parties

I have surprisingly vivid memories back to an early age of attending church Christmas parties. I don't think our family ever missed a year especially since I think my mom usually had some hand in organization and my dad almost always put away chairs and vacuumed afterward.

There is one year that really sticks out to me. It was a Saturday morning at the Stake Center, I don't think my youngest brother had been born yet. I remember a really convincing Santa and Mrs. Claus and purchasing terribly cheap presents for my family in "Santa's Shop". I also remember going home with a stocking full of unshelled peanuts. I think my siblings and I were all wearing 80's style sweat suits...weird that I remember (or think I remember) all of this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Birthday!!

If you have a December birthday, even as early as the 4th, it becomes a Birthday/Christmas memory. But I don't mind. I'm not the greatest gift receiver and in the past Christmas has been a great way to redirect the generosity of my friends. I always host my own party (I have good reasoning for everyone to do the same...but, I'm still the only believer). I loved using my birthday as an excuse to gather my friends for a casual dinner at my home and ask them to bring the cash they might have spent on a dinner or gift to spend the evening playing elf. I would identify a family or individuals with needs and we would break into groups to purchase as much as we could then bring it back to the house for a wrapping party. I loved those years!

Today was nothing like those former birthdays. It was a whirlwind of activity and friends and I can't believe how fast it flew. I'd love to return to my old tradition soon, but today was a great day of celebration. My 30-something birthday's have had a "blech" feel to them (my own bad attitude), and I used to mourn all of my missed opportunities and failed efforts. But this year is different. This year I feel lucky to be alive. I feel fortunate to be in a situation where I can hope for a better future. I am anxious to have many more birthdays...so it was fun to celebrate and be celebrated!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I may have been relegated to assistant when it came to decorating, but after a few years of sitting at the counter unwrapping mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, I worked my way up to some solo kitchen assignments. Two of my favorites made an appearance in my own kitchen tonight and I smiled through the mixing, baking, and clean-up!




Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Decorating"

I have never really decorated for the holiday. I might be decent at it, but I never really had the opportunity. My mom has great style and she knew exactly what she wanted our home to look like. However, I was a dutiful assistant. I checked and untangled lights, rehooked ornaments, held stuff. This role is so ingrained in me that when my roommate pulled out Christmas decorations, I only found myself comfortable in the assistant role. Doesn't mean I enjoy the finished product any less.





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Laying Under the Tree

I made a new Christmas memory tonight with my 6 month old nephew Miles. We spent the evening chatting and laying under the Christmas tree staring up at the lights. It was pretty awesome!




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Friday, November 30, 2012

I am Grateful for: My New Ukulele

I received an early birthday present and I'm in love. I'm hoping that years of playing other instruments will translate into some smooth new tunes and that I'll soon be able to provide some sweet accompaniment to every Christmas Carol!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I am Grateful for: Silver Linings

I've been fortunate in my life to always have at least some good in every situation. I'm glad that I've learned to identify the silver linings and minimize focus on the dark clouds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I am Grateful for: Anticipation

Tis the season, right? Birthday in a week and Christmas in a month and the tracking of deliveries...and maybe that pristine heart?! I love the excitement.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I am Grateful for: Money

The past two years without an income and with a terminal illness has not be a financial breeze. However, somehow, I've always had what I need when it really matters. I am grateful for people who have been more than generous in helping me to do what I can to provide for myself. I am grateful that I was counseled to be financially conservative and that even though things are tight, I am not suffering or being denied the things that I need. If I were to win the Powerball Lottery for aprox. $500M, I would continue to be grateful :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

I am Grateful for: Kitchen Skills

I'm pretty good in the kitchen. With or without a recipe. With or without a menu. I really surprise myself sometimes. Thanks mom! Because of what I learned as your daughter, I can whip up an amazing meal for myself and/or friends with no notice at all. It's like magic!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I am Grateful for: Inspiration

This video has been all over my Facebook feed and I am feeling motivated to do more. My doctors have outlined pretty strict limitations...but maybe I can push myself a little more:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I am Grateful for: Friends & Food

There's something awesome when you combine good friends and tasty food. It just always makes for a great night. Although, if I'm being honest, I would totally enjoy my friends even without the food.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I am Grateful for: Imagination

Right this minute I am specifically grateful for my nephew Owen's imagination. The kid is such a character and he always keeps me laughing. He is really big into superheros these days and today he decided to become Hawkeye and shoot a bow and arrow. This video is a very calm version of what he had been doing all afternoon. I love the detail he puts into selecting an arrow from his quiver:

video

I am also grateful for my own imagination. Man does that keep me entertained! For hours!!



Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am Grateful for: Belonging

It's great to have family that love me unconditionally and provide a place where I am welcome and belong no matter how much time has passed. My Uncle Roger and Aunt Janet hosted a fantastic Thanksgiving and I love knowing that I always fit in at their home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am Grateful for: Tradition

I have no food assignment for Thanksgiving dinner this year...but I couldn't not make Grandma Effie's Green Jello Salad to take along tomorrow. It's a recipe passed down on my mom's side of the family, and a concoction I've never seen anywhere else, but it's a must have for me during holiday meals...the nostalgia for it is powerful!
My brother Brett and I might be the only ones brave enough to eat it tomorrow, but I don't mind leftovers...I'll eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
(Besides, how cool is it that I have a great grandma named Effie?!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am Grateful for: Curiosity

I am glad that I have a curious personality and that I feel comfortable asking questions when I want to know more or understand more fully. Curiosity has helped to keep me preoccupied and has given me outrageous opportunities!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Craig Update

Thanks for calls and texts expressing concern for my Dad and our family. I didn't mean to raise the alarms...
He was sent home today with recovery instructions, but he's in surprisingly good condition, considering the circumstances, and I think we are all feel very lucky.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 19, 2012

I am Grateful for: Tender Mercies

Tonight was awful!

Everything is calm now, but my dad was in a fr-reaky accident this afternoon and is now recovering in the hospital overnight. After a mysterious crash, 30 minutes into a bike ride, he spent the next 2 hours weaving his bloody way home. None of this information came from him, it came from a mapping app he uses during his rides. After the last update from my mom, he still had no recollection of his afternoon or the passcode to the garage.

After speaking with my mom shortly after he arrived home, and hearing first hand how absent he suddenly was, I was pretty ticked at God and the universe for giving my family one more stupid hurdle. Seriously, can a girl and her dad just get a break?! But it didn't take too long before I recognized how lucky we were that he made it home at all. And the CT scan came back clean and clear from any bleeds or tumors, new or old, so that's a miracle too. And I'm feeling plenty wound up, but somewhat relieved that while he may never remember the accident, he should recover fairly well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I am Grateful for: Healthcare Workers

Seriously. I don't know how they do it! The nurses on my floor this weekend have been so kind and patient...especially with my crazy neighbors! I think I'm a pretty easy patient, but these old people on the cardiac floor are some tough characters, and the nurses just keep helping them.

There is a guy down the hall that is doing his very best work to cough up all of his internal organs and gagging on them the whole way. And the lady right next door just LOVES her call button and is giving the CNA a run for her money this morning.

I would probably earn a criminal charge on my first day, but the nurses just keep coming back for more. I feel grateful that there are individuals, who are much better people than myself, who are willing to do this hard work!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

I am Grateful for: Normal Moments

I really do appreciate the thoughts and prayers and tender moments that so many have shared with me as I've fought through the past 18 months. But it's the moments when things seem "perfectly normal" that bring the most hope.
It's an odd scenario for me to be calling anything normal. Hospital room, Friday night, three single friends drop by to help me kill some time. And we talked and laughed like everything was so normal.
Here's to hoping the normal moments keep coming!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I am Grateful for: Clean Laundry

It starts by looking a little something like this:



But when every stitch is washed, folded, and put away...down to the linens and bathroom floor mats....yeah, those are some of my most favorite moments in life!




When I was in student housing, it wasn't unusual to have to do wash at a laundry mat and it was such a pain. Now I have what I need right in the house and I think that is a blessing worth celebrating!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I am Grateful for: Optimism

Stuff doesn't go my way very often. Yet, I still manage to be surprised every time it happens. I have an active imagination, and while capable of constructing the worst possible scenarios, I tend to default to the more favorable ones.
I try to fool myself into believing that I have low expectations and consequently, I'm rarely disappointed but (shhh...this is a secret), I really do hope for the best. Pretty much all the time. I like it that way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am Grateful for: Warmth





It's cold in Utah and I've responded with flannel pajama pants, a hoody with the hood in use, an electric blanket, my favorite old quilt, and my favorite new quilt (lazy, point-of-view picture above (THANKS MOM!��)).

I remember making 20 quilts for "Access Housing" as a service project when I was in High School. I imagined what it might be like for someone in poverty to be cold...I don't think I really understood. And so far in my life, I've never really known the bitterness of enduring cold, I most likely will never have to.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I am Grateful for: Peaceful Moments

I'm curled up in bed with a cup of peppermint tea, and a public library copy of The Great Gatsby, and I am feeling quite content!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I am Grateful for: BYU Football MEMORIES

For YEARS I was the perfect BYU football fan. Ran, sleet or shine I was there before kick-off and stayed way past the final whistle. Tonight while Cougar fans drive through blizzard-ish conditions to attend an 8:15 p.m. kickoff, I'm glad that those are awesome memories and not my reality!! (Hey bros, thanks for graduating!!)