Friday, November 21, 2014


Bravery: noun \ˈbrāv-rē, ˈbrā-və-\
: the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening : the quality or state of being brave.

I've had three years to think about this word and what it means, in general and to me; After the initial shock of the stroke wore off and I was in a more stable state of mind, I signed onto Facebook, what I found there was completely unexpected; So many messages of hope, support and motivation with lots of words in them like inspiring, brave and strong.

What?! Now, let me be clear, while I was in rehab, I still couldn't turn over in bed on my own, I had to call someone in to do that for me, I had to have someone help me get out of bed into my wheel chair, roll me into the bathroom and help me out of the chair onto the toilet and to top things off, I could't wipe myself when I was done in there. So, brave, strong and inspiring were not words that I would have used for myself, in fact, scared shitless, lost, confused, defeated and over-anxious would have been the perfect words for me at the time.

So what does brave mean? At the time, when I thought about it, brave was something people label someone as when they are facing something the general public wouldn't want to face.

I have waged many a battle with my bravery over the course of three years, the world can be a scary place when your body suddenly doesn't work the way it used to, staircases, curbs,and bathtubs were fearsome things for me for a long time, then I thought I had those fears beat...until about two weeks ago. Due to a couple of falls, one of which happened while I was holding Charlotte, my worst fear realized, the other due to me not paying attention where my stupid left foot was, my old anxieties crept up again, at least I think the falls are what sparked a relapse of Stair Fear, as I call it, suddenly, after a year of doing the stairs in my home confidently, dealing with them and knowing I was safe and knew what I was doing, this old, stupid terror crept back into my life, practically paralyzing me yet again.( not to mention pissing me off). I've been battling this fear for a good two weeks now, but I dug deep and found that bravery everyone kept saying I had and barreled through as best I could, now the stairs, whatever, they're not going to bite me. I know how my body works now and I can handle any weird obstacle that comes my way. It is only through this journey that I have discovered my bravery, and what being brave actually means.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Plan Change

Yes. This is another post about the Co-op, I would stop writing about it, but it continues to amaze me with it's awesomeness:

Like many expecting and working first time moms, I had a plan:

While I was incubating my precious cargo, I was working a 45 hour a week job that I loved, at The People's Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, for those not in the loop, I was the Front End Manager/HR Coordinator during the co-op's expansion into a new, shiny and bigger space, while busy with making a person, I was 100% consumed with ushering the Front End staff, new and old alike into the new space as smoothly as possible. Suddenly, I found my voice as a manager and I was hella good at it, I loved what I was doing, it was important, it mattered, what I was doing made a difference to people, more so than all of the jobs I had worked slinging over-priced coffee drinks at people who barely noticed I existed. So, my plan was this: I was going to take a paltry five weeks off after Charlotte's birth and then jump right back into my 45 hour work week and Matt was going to be a stay at home dad. Yeeeaaaahhh......the Universe slapped that plan right out of my hands, big time. I loved my job so much, I was begging to be let out of the ICU for an All-Staff Meeting.So, when I learned I was FINALLY going to be released from rehab, I immediately began planning my triumphant return to work . Until my OT, Erica sat down and gave me the reality check I needed; No. I couldn't do that job anymore, absolutely not.

Well, in my muddled brain, nothing had changed, there was no reason I couldn't jump back in (I believe this was my denial stage of grieving), until Matt came through with his usual dose of much needed tough love:
"Liz, you can't even go to the bathroom by yourself, how are you supposed to do that job?" Shit.

Three years later, I can safely say there is NO. Way I could have done that job at that point but,  I was devastated. Later that day, my boss came to the hospital and I stepped down from my position, hoping that some day I'd return to the co-op, somehow. So Chris, my GM and I made a point of getting together a few months after my release to discuss a possible return, he essentially made up a new job for me, that wouldn't be too taxing on my feeble stamina and limited physical ability; I was essentially a greeter, I answered phones and rang up customers when needed. Going back to work was hard, it was physically taxing, exhausting and, at times, overwhelming. I had to relearn EVERYTHING from scratch and the hardest part of that was hat I was being retrained by people I had hired and trained, this rubbed my pride the wrong way, I was often embarrassed as the current Front End Manager,Simon,  helped me fix any mistakes I had made as I was relearning to count drawers, but, even though I was embarrassed, he NEVER treated me like I was stupid for having to learn all of this again and I was treated as a new trainee and a respected member of the Front End team. Once I finally came to terms with the fact that I had to learn how to be a cashier from the beginning, I began to get over myself, started seeing Simon as my boss, not that kid I hired all that time ago, my pride stopped being an issue and everything suddenly began falling into place

Currently, I cashier at least twice a week and as we approach the holiday season, I'm hoping I can work more.

I may not be a manager anymore, but I am grateful work at a place that embraces me for who I am now ,that did not toss me out with the trash when I wasn't able to perform at the same level as I had before stroke touched my life. And working as a cashier gives time to spend with my daughter who delights and amazes me everyday, plus cashiering fun! It is, I promise.

Working has not only increased my physical stamina and ability, but I believe working a register has improved my cognition greatly, every shift I work challenges my focus, improves my confidence and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because as I work, I am amazed at the strides I have made since that life shattering discussion with Erica.

Thank you Universe.