Positivity In A Pandemic

Are you trying to navigate this pandemic with grace and positivity or are you just trudging through at this point?  When are we going to return to some sort of normalcy? Ha, maybe not for a while.  The situation has spiraled completely out of control, and at this point we are waiting for the next shoe to drop; i.e, the second wave.  So much in the world is madness right now.  Fires are raging in California, the Joshua trees have been almost completely decimated.  Protests are still going on and police are still shooting and exerting excessive force on people of color.  “All Lives Matter” is clashing with “Black Lives Matter” creating perfect storms.  I’m thinking that I should save a little lamb’s blood when I buy my next pack of lamb chops…just in case.  Things are completely insane right now and the news basically requires a trip to your therapist after watching it.  So I ask, how can you find positivity in the midst of a pandemic?

First of all, you get up and be thankful.  Thankful that you are not counted in the 190,000+ casualties of the pandemic.  If you have been lucky enough to have not contracted the virus, be thankful that you are not amongst the recovered individuals still suffering from the lingering effects of the disease.  You don’t have the difficulty breathing, you are not losing your hair, you are not having the anxiety attacks that many say they are experiencing post-Covid-19.  Be thankful, if the virus has not touched your family in any way because there are almost 200,000 other families in our country that it has affected; not to mention the doctors, nurses, aides, and other front line workers.

The next way you find positivity in a pandemic is to appreciate what you have.  If you are still employed and have remained employed throughout this entire crisis, you can mark one off in the win column.  If you have a roof over your head and haven’t had to worry about food insecurity like so many have, mark off another win.  Though you may complain about the enormous amount of time you have spent with your family, think of the memories you have made that you don’t even realize you did.  Down the road, when your children are older, and you say, “You remember back in 2020 when we couldn’t go anywhere?”  You’ll think about something really cool you did.  A fantastic meal you shared.  An impromptu dance off you had.  A hard puzzle that took you forever to put together.  The fact that you couldn’t find toilet paper, Lysol, or Clorox wipes for months and when they did return it cost a lot.  So through the sadness, the wanting time to yourself, and wishing they would just go back to school; appreciate the time you did get with your children because you may never get time like that again.  Allow those happy moments to flood in.  Those happy moments get our happy hormones flowing and keep us calm and zen for the next round of not so good news.

This all may sound cliche, but in a hard time such as we are experiencing now, wallowing is not a good thing.  Wallowing leads to depression and feelings that take you to a lonely dark place.  Not one of us can afford to be in that place right now because the world itself is dark enough.  We have to be the light!  If you can’t be the light, go into the light – no, not that light, but the sunlight.  Sunlight is nature’s cure all in the right doses.  Sunlight increases vitamin D, which promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth and stronger bones.  Sunlight, like holding on to those happy moments, also promotes the secretion of serotonin – the happy hormone.  That is why people get, “the winter blues” during winter months because there is less sunlight at that time.  An increase in sunlight during the day can also lead to a better night of sleep,  which leads to a better version of you.  Sun —> Serotonin —> Sleep —->Better Mood —->Better You.  

Our entire nation is In crisis, how we handle things ultimately is up to us. Are we going to go through it in a positive manner, leaving a positive mark, positive change – not only for yourself, but for your children and those you hold dear. I’m not telling you to be a constant ray of sunshine because we are going to have our moments of despair, simply because of everything that is going on around us. Find the good in this situation. Find your joy. Find your happy place. Find someone to lean on. Give someone, someone to lean on. Be thankful and appreciative because things could be so much worse than they are. Most of all, find your positivity, hold on to it, don’t let it go, and by all means, don’t let anyone allow you to feel bad about finding positivity in this pandemic.

“Be grateful for every second of every day you get to spend with the people you love. Our time together is short and so very precious.” -Brad Turnbull

Regrets or Missed Opportunities: You Decide

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
-Unkown

Regret: (v) feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).

(N): a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

Regret is one of those words that sticks around and hangs over you like a storm cloud that could burst at any moment.  Have you ever heard the words, “we regret to inform you…?”  Have you ever felt regret or regretted doing something or not doing something in your life?  Regret is such a word that when you hear it, you begin to cringe.  There aren’t any synonyms to the word that I can find to make me feel different about the word: sadness, sorrow, disappointment, to feel contrite…none of those words exude any type of confidence.  My last post was about living your life, but now I want you to go through life with no regrets from this point forward.  If you have an opportunity, take it!  If you find yourself not benefiting from the opportunity but you tried, know that you leapt and that you have no regrets.

Are you doing something that you don’t love, just for the sake of a paycheck?  I’m not recommending that you quit your job, but reevaluate some things in life.  There is so much more out there and I guarantee if you are in a position where you are overworked and underappreciated, there is something inside of you wanting to break free and show you your real worth.  What are your marketable skills?  How can you take those skills and make them make money for you?  Is what makes you marketable in a field that is in demand?  Can you thrive in this particular niche?  Is it over saturated, or is there room for more.  Believe me when I say there is always room for more because no one is going to do the job like you will.  STEP OUT ON FAITH.

Think about all of the small businesses that are now thriving, even in a pandemic because they have something everyone wants, and they can work from the comfort of their homes.  Imagine if you were the woman or man who decided to make the face mask, or made a homemade disinfectant product strong enough to kill viruses, or you created a hand sanitizer that was marketable…do you think any of those individuals would feel sorrow, sadness, or contrite at this moment?  Will we have regrets in life?  Absolutely.  I’m asking you that from the time you read this until the time you take your last breath, you live life with as few regrets as possible.  Don’t even think of them as regrets, think of them as missed opportunities.  You got that, regrets have now been changed to missed opportunities.

Aside from taking your marketable skill and using it to benefit you and not some company, you can also continue learning. Learning doesn’t necessarily mean paying for college and courses, but read. Take the time to read as much as you possibly can. You would be amazed how much you can learn from simply reading. I read everything from the daily news, to trashy romance novels, science fiction, self help, and I even read medical journals online. Information is POWERFUL, and you never know when that power is going to be needed. My motto is, “learn as much as you can about everything you can.” When my dad was in the hospital before he passed. The doctors were overwhelming us with different scenarios and diagnoses, not really going in-depth about a lot. I had one doctor tell me to just prepare myself, as if my dad was actually going to die. I went home and looked into medical journals and trusted sources…not Dr. Google and researched everything. The next day, I waited for all the doctors with the knowledge I obtained from “doing my due diligence” and their mouths hit the floor. I have met some great doctors and some doctors who are just “passing through” and when I tell you the doctor I saw the next day switched up my dad’s care completely; I was shocked, but I was glad I decided to READ. My dad improved because of my desire to learn more and lived another 5 years. No regrets.

If you are too afraid to leap, baby step your way to a life with less missed opportunities.  What’s the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your life isn’t going to change over night, but you have to want to change, put in the work, show up, exercise the discipline, and keep moving forward.  Those baby steps will add up and before you know it, you have made major changes that you were not even prepared for.  Stop placing limitations on your life.  Your possibilities are endless and there are no limits to the things you can accomplish once you put your mind and heart into it.  

In the end, life will throw you curveballs, and the path that you thought was straight can end up being a very winding road. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is: don’t play victim, crying and screaming woe is me, make no excuses, and most importantly – don’t waste a minute. There is no time to spare in the 24 hours we get each day, so make them count and live life with less missed opportunities and REGRETLESS!!!

Live Your Life

“The greatest lesson of life is that you are responsible for your life.” -Oprah Winfrey

Late night on August 30, 2020 I had an epiphany.  I needed to live my life to the fullest and to become the best version of me.  I started the next day with walking every morning.  That week, I improved my step count by over 40,000 steps!  I realized that I allowed quarantine and our new way of life to get to me and I needed to be more intentional in every aspect of my life.  I had begun to have more anxiety attacks, I was sinking back into my depressive moods, and engaging in the behaviors that lead me further and further down into a hole that I have found very difficult to come out of before.  I can put on a good face like everything is well and good, but who can’t?  I’ve gone through anxiety and depression enough to know how to hide the depression part.  

Tonight as I was drinking my tea, there was a message. If you drink tea and know about Yogi tea, there is always a message for the drinker. It said,”Love yourself so that you may know how to live with self-respect.” That can mean an awful lot of things to different people, but to me it meant that in order to absolutely love myself, I had to know how to respect myself. You don’t need anyone else to disrespect you, you have the capability to do that all on your own. How can you not respect yourself?

  • Thinking negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Allowing others to treat you any way that doesn’t uplift you.
  • Putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
  • Suppressing your feelings.
  • Hanging on to toxic individuals.
  • Not taking care of yourself.
  • Approval seeking from others.
  • Pretending in order to fit in.
  • Allowing people to use you for their needs. (And so much more.)

If you are doing any of these things, or anything similar to the above mentioned things, you are not loving yourself and treating yourself with respect. With 17 weeks left in this year, I decided I wanted to end it with more self respect, more love, more me, and being kind to myself. It isn’t about being selfish, but about feeling good mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can give all of yourself until there is no more to give, and once that happens – the takers move on to the next person they can feed on. Even your family has to have a shut off valve. They may be your all and you may be their all, but they cannot take it all. At the end of the day, there has to be something left for us to remind us that we are an individual. We are more than someone’s mom, wife, or dad, and husband. We take on our roles to the point that we lose our identity. However, being a mom and a wife is only a part of my identity; I was first a woman and I need to continue to be that outside of my other roles or the most prominent ones will take full control.

I’m not telling you to lose it and go crazy! That’s not what I’m doing. I’m being more organized, creating schedules, and making sure that I make time for me in that schedule. As simple as that sounds, week one was tiring. Today, I stayed in bed until almost 12 noon, my sinuses didn’t help, but my body needed that time…I needed that time. Even my children slept in. My son, who is 6, did not come into my room until after 11 am. Was he awake before? I don’t know, but he was quiet, he kept himself busy, and when he wanted me, he came and got in bed with me and laid there and just talked. I appreciated that. It was as if he knew, mommy needed some extra time because all was not well. At 3, we dropped Sissy to her friend’s 18th birthday party around the corner…she could have driven herself, but she is dragging her feet getting her license (that’s a whole different story for another time), and we came back home. Still, squinting out of one eye, he decided he wanted one on one time with me and we watched Aladdin and Jurassic Park. After everyone was fed, bathed, and put to bed; I walked. I finished my menu for the week, checked the pantry and freezer to see if I needed anything from the store, and made my list. Still carving out my time and taking care of the home base.

So you see, you can have the best of living your life, while being a mom and wife too – it’s about the intention you plan to give each area. I always intend and strive to be the best mom, wife, and woman I can be. I don’t always hit the mark, but when I shine, I shine bright like a diamond! I will keep being their very best mother, and I will keep being his very best wife, but for my sanity I will also START being the VERY best ME, because if I lose me…they lose me, and that would be the real loss of love.

A Letter to Moms

I see you, I am you, YOU ARE LOVED!!💋

Tonight as I sit here, tired beyond words I just want to say to all moms out there…don’t give up, you’ve got this.  This week has been extra busy and tiring, and I thought that I was being more organized and setting myself up for success.  I also realized that no matter how many lists you make, how early you rise, how hard you work, setbacks will happen and you will just get tired.  Last night I was so tired that my entire body hurt, but no matter how tired I was, sleep was nowhere to be found.  Eventually around 11:30, I conked out.  

I’ve realized that as a mother and wife, one of the main reasons we cannot find sleep or it cannot find us is because we have an inability to turn our brains off.  Our mom brains usually have one function – ON.  We rarely have airplane mode, do not disturb, or a sleep mode.  We are overburdened with the thoughts of tomorrow, next week, next month, and even months down the road.  I know that in order for me to get a more restful night’s sleep, I have to start unpacking some of that worry and clutter that is filling my head from the day by at least 3 hours before bedtime to be able to sleep.  Easy to say, hard to do…trust me!  I can give to you, just as I give it to myself, but it is up to us to make it work.

Mama’s, I think of us like an ant hill.  We have the Queen and the workers, but guess what; we do it all.  Nothing gets done right if we don’t do it, so why not just get it done right?  Yes we can dictate a few minor things to the “workforce” but they can’t handle it all like we can.  I want you to know that if you are feeling overworked, underpaid, and maybe a little under appreciated…I’m with you.  We don’t always get the I love you’s, thank you’s, and we appreciate you that we deserve, but they do love, appreciate and thank us for all we do.  Sometimes we have to tell ourselves and keep on working.

So, if you find yourself a little tense – which is not a hard place to find yourself lately step away.  There has to be a place in your home unoccupied by another individual at some point, even if it’s outside.  Breathe in some calming relaxing breaths, grab a cup of tea (peppermint, chamomile, lavender, green, valerian, ashwagandha are all relaxing teas). Read a book or go for a walk.  I know that in the last 6 months we have all spent more time than we would normally spend with our families, without getting the normal amount of time we usually get to ourselves.  I just want you to know that you are not alone!  We are in this thing together and I am always here to listen.  By all means, do not allow the stress of the moment make you miss out on the beautiful things life has to offer. 

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”

-Amit Ray

Hurricane Laura: Unpredictable from the Start

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Here on the Gulf Coast of the United States, anytime the weatherman says that a storm is going to enter the Gulf – we start sitting Shiva. Literally we are brought low anytime we see tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane in SE Texas, especially in the
months of August and September. Laura was not initially forecastedto come this far into the Gulf of Mexico. First, it was supposed to impact Florida, then Alabama, then Louisiana, then Texas. In the end, she decided to split the difference and hit between Texas and Louisiana. There is a bridge you cross over Interstate 10 leaving Orange, Texas, and halfway across that bridge you realize at the bottom of the bridge you will no longer be in Texas. I have taken that route too many times to count. Drive 39 miles and you are in Lake Charles, bypassing smaller towns such as Starks, Vinton, Sulphur, and Westlake along the I-10 east corridor. I have also taken the back route through Port Arthur into Cameron, making trips to Holly Beach, and enjoying the day. However,
Laura came in as a Category 4 storm destroying as much as possible in her path. In Texas, the wind damage was noticeable, 300,000+ households were without electricity, evacuation orders are still in place as of right now in some cities. Many sick and at least 5 dead in the area from improperly using generators, and some areas are still
impassable. Electricity, internet, and phone service has been spotty, but it could have been much worse. As I said, Laura was unpredictable from the word GO. My hometown, 60 miles west of Lake Charles was on course to get a hurting from Laura – far worse than what we received. The storm was on the same path as Hurricane Rita that hit the area in 2005. Rita hit us a month after Katrina devastated the Mississippi
and New Orleans areas, we were using Ford Park Entertainment Complex as a shelter for evacuees when we were ordered to leave ourselves. Rita created one of the largest evacuations in US history because Houston, Texas was called to evacuate as well. We
spent 36 hours in traffic! With Laura following that same path, no one knew what to expect and with 2 storms in the last 3 years that caused so much flooding and dread, a lot of people were “storm weary” and decided to hunker down. I was one of those people who decided I would stay and “ride out the storm,” but when I got up on Wednesday morning and saw that the storm intensified and may do so even further…we waved goodbye to our home and prayed it would still be here when we returned.

Cameron, Louisiana
The norm around Orange, Texas.

We made it all the way to Austin in an exhausted, almost fugue state, checked into our hotel, showered, and tuned into our local news KFDM Channel 6 who always does live coverage during storms to keep those who evacuated and those at home informed throughout the storm. If Laura would have stayed on her NNW direction, it would have
been 2005 all over again, 15 years later, but at the last minute – Laura took a northerly turn. That northerly turn is what caused so much damage in Orange, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana and further. That is just on I-10, you have the damage to Cameron Parrish and the city of Cameron, as well as further inland into Louisiana. Lake Charles’
devastation is heartbreaking to see. I heard a news report about a tree falling on a house and killing a 14-year-old girl. Her sister frantically called her name and tried to find her and once she did, she realized why she could not answer. These cities are a part of me. I still have a lot of family that live in Orange and “across the bridge” as we say in Lake Charles and surrounding areas. My roots run deep through these communities, so to see them shattered is a hurtful thing.

BioLab Explosion

The day after the storm there was an explosion at a chemical lab that released a toxin into the air. So now you are forced to stay inside your home within a certain area of the plant, no electricity, if your
windows are open for some kind of airflow you are still getting the toxin…what do you do? The President visited the area today to survey the damage in Louisiana and in Texas and refused to say that these extreme storms were a result of climate change. His response was that the area has always been prone to strong storms. That very well may
be true, but they would lose intensity quickly. Laura made it to almost northern Louisiana still a hurricane. However, in my 37 yearsof living in the area, I never had to evacuate until 2005. I had twin classmates that were born in the middle of a hurricane when you weren’t “evacuating entire counties. His Mar-a-Lago estate is right near the coastal waters of Florida and I guarantee you, a hurricane could not care less that he is who he is. I think the President and I will have to agree to disagree, or we can just disagree on this one. I know that water temperatures are much warmer, earlier in the year, causing the June 1 start date for hurricane season to almost become moot and as a result, storms have begun to appear before then. These storms see no political affiliation and they do not discriminate. They do not care if you are black, white, purple, rich, poor, doctor, or work at McDonald’s, whatever you have belongs to it; if it is in its path. Unless we get a cool snap that dramatically affects the water temperature in the Gulf, we have 32 more days of watching, waiting, and praying that nothing comes this way again. We were blessed and slightly inconvenienced this time, but just as Laura was unpredictable, the season is just as shifty as she was.

My only inconvenience was the drive and cleaning my yard.

Thank you Beaumont Channel 6 KFDM for always staying when we need you!!kfdm.com

Keeping It All Together

“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.” – Nina Simone

Someone asked me, how I keep it all together – I’m not sure that I do.  For the majority of my adult life I have been responsible for someone else.  I had my first child at age 20, in college, just after finishing my last final for the semester.  It would take me 10 years after that to get my degree because I jumped into working and being a mom full time.  Before I knew it, I was a full-time mom and working full-time, and before my daughter turned 1, her dad and I bought our first house.  I was still swinging working full-time and being mom full-time with the demands of a new home.  My husband has been a shift worker for almost 20 years and I was lucky to have a job where I could decide which shift I wanted to take at the time.  Back then, there wasn’t any job security when your child was sick and had to be hospitalized.  After we moved into our home, my daughter had to be hospitalized twice within 3 months for a week both times, one of those weeks required surgery.  While my job was good and easy-going…the company wasn’t.  I missed too much time with my daughter’s illness and they let me go.  I wasn’t upset about it because that meant I could spend more time with her after she had been hospitalized twice in such a short time.  I was unemployed for less than two months because a really good job came around that I couldn’t pass.  So, she would go back to hanging out with Granny and I would go back to work.  

Many years later, I would become “The Stay at Home Mom.”  I, in my ignorant wisdom thought that working full-time and maintaining home was hard, being home full-time is what is hard.  At work, you get a lunch break, regular breaks, the occasional coworker you don’t mind talking to and may even possibly become friends with.  At home, you are easily accessible.  Everyone has access to you and they expect you to be home because I mean, YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB!  First things first, my version of SAHM is not book clubs, lunches with the girls, and cocktails at 2.  This is not an episode of any of the Real Housewives and most days I’m too busy to even eat lunch AT HOME.  So, I was asked about my schedule and how I keep things together.  It’s a simple task that you can start on Sunday.  First and foremost, I try to meal plan for the week.  Take stock of what you have in the house before you start and go from there.  You may not have to go out to the grocery store if you have enough in the freezer to make things work for the week.  If you regularly cook and do theme nights like Taco Tuesday, Pizza night, or spaghetti/pasta night; it makes it that much easier.  Our family is all about Taco Tuesday, so we know that we may have beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos…some type of tacos on Tuesday.  That’s one day down, only about 4 to go because at least two nights we eat leftovers.  I would also suggest you invest in a crockpot or pressure cooker because that is called – set it and forget it.  No standing over the stove and working, it does the work for you.  I’ve made everything in a crockpot…even GUMBO!  In the words of my daughter, “That crockpot gumbo is smack Mama!”  I guess that means good because she usually eats at least two bowls.  Below are the simple things I follow weekly to keep my house semi-in order.

  • Meal Plan, grocery list, shopping or grocery order.
  • Create a basic cleaning schedule. (Make your bed daily…you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t make their beds. -Pick up clutter. -Clear and wipe kitchen counters, stove, wash dishes, sweep and empty garbage. — I usually do this before bed and it’s done for the next day. -Don’t leave clothes lying around. -Clear and wipe bathroom counters at night and in the mornings and make sure sinks are wiped out.  This makes your bathroom look clean all the time.  (This is what is done on a daily basis.). If you have pets, you may need to vacuum daily.
  • Twice weekly I mop.  I will for sure get my steps in twice a week because sweeping and mopping my entire house is work.  When I sweep and mop, I also sanitize all surfaces since Covid started.  I Lysol door handles to entrances, bedrooms, bathrooms, faucets and toilet handles.  I “glance” over it everyday, but twice a week, they get thoroughly sanitized.  No pets, you can vacuum 2-3 times a week, more depending on the traffic.
  • Once a week: Clean out the fridge, dust, (we use our fans a lot and they’re dark so they get cleaned once a week as well) Change and wash your linens. -Laundry, deep clean bathrooms(tubs, toilets, showers, mirrors, and fixtures.
  • Don’t worry, whatever you missed will get done.

I try to stick to my schedule as best as I can, especially now because I’m homeschooling my son. This takes a chunk out of my time so I have to be mindful of the time I have to get things done daily and use it as wisely as possible. You have to do what works for you. I can give you a starting point, but you may need to add or take away from it. Not everyone cooks as often as I do, so meal planning may not be necessary. As I said these are guidelines and what keeps me from completely losing my mind. For instance, I sweep everyday because of the type of floors I have. It is tile that looks like wood and it is dark so everything and anything shows on that floor. While I adore them, we have a love/hate relationship too. I have children that can help, but nothing is done right unless you do it yourself and I hate going behind someone to do something they supposedly did. The only person that cleans as good as I do is my husband, and he works hard enough already. How do I keep it all together? Walking that very thin last nerve I have been holding onto since 2013!! My suggestion to you is, don’t lose it trying to keep it all together.

Are You Ready To Get Your Vote On?

Voting is everyone’s fundamental right who can do so legally and who is registered! Make sure you’re registered and get out there and make your VOTE count. Click link below for more information. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! A non-vote is unacceptable!!

apple.news/AsdmScW1ITbyVMsJsELjWWQ

Hurricane Season is In Full Swing: Be Prepared

As a lifelong resident of Southeast Texas, right on the Gulf of Mexico – I know a lot about hurricanes. In my almost 40 years of living, it wasn’t until 2005 that I had to evacuate for a hurricane, Hurricane Rita. Rita came about a month after Katrina devastated New Orleans, as well as Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. I was working in management in the hotel industry at the time and our hotel was at capacity with evacuees as our city is just about 30 miles after you cross the Texas/Louisiana border. We erred on the side of caution and emptied the hotel because we knew the hurricane was coming and our staff needed to leave and prepare their properties. Well, early the following morning a mandatory evacuation was ordered. I hurriedly took pictures of our property for insurance purposes. Packed as much as I could into my little Honda Accord, put my sick child with a 103 fever in her car seat, grabbed my mom and my Granny and hit the road. My husband followed behind in his truck, my dad, and his two babies on the back (his motorcycles) and we followed the evacuation route. Houston was being evacuated as well and we couldn’t go that way because well millions of people in cars, including residents of Louisiana as well were leaving a major metropolitan city. Bottom line, the state informed us we could NOT go through Houston. We hit the road at 9am and it was 4pm before we made it to our destination which would normally be a 3 ½ hour drive. It was a pure mess. We kept getting turned around and told we couldn’t go this way or that. When we needed gas, we stopped and were limited to 10 gallons per vehicle. Let’s not even start to talk about the price gouging that was going on at gas stations, hotels, and stores. One of the craziest experiences of my life. We were gone from our homes for about 3 weeks. You could not enter the city because of all the dangers present. Places that were there when you left were now gone. Power lines were down everywhere and the only sound you could hear was the hum of generators and chainsaws clearing paths. The devastation was far spread and almost the entire city was without power, water, and the basic essential services. Three years later came Hurricane Ike. We were a little better prepared for that. We left early, before they called for an evacuation and a lot of people didn’t leave because of the total crap show 3 years prior. My parents stayed and I was worried the entire time. We came back home immediately after the storm. First, we stopped at the grocery store on the way home for essentials to carry us until stores were back open in town, we gassed up our generator, and enjoyed the cool days thanks to a cool front that almost immediately followed the storm.

For almost an entire 10 years we didn’t have to leave or worry about a storm, until 2017. Harvey was a doozy! Harvey had its own personal party on the state of Texas’ back. Harvey made landfall in the south, did a loop de loop, went back into the water, made landfall again, loop de loop and changed course, over a 4 day period we amassed over 60 inches of rain in my area. It left almost no spot untouched by water from South Texas to Louisiana. The wettest tropical cyclone in US history, tied with Katrina as the costliest, displacing over 30,000 people, and prompting over 17,000 high water rescues. We were a virtual island. There was no way in or out of our city. Harvey was so extensive, the name has been retired and there will never be another Hurricane Harvey again. Our home was flooded and we were one of the ones that needed rescuing. Then again in September 2019, Imelda came out of nowhere and flooded us yet again. Cars were stuck on interstate 10 over night, deer and other wild animals were being forced to find higher ground, and we were once again an island. We only moved back into our home at the end of January of this year.

Hurricanes form in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean from low pressure systems that travel into extremely warm water.  Warm air rises, causing an area of low pressure below.  Air from the surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes into the low pressure area.  Then that “new” air becomes warm and moist and rises too.  As the warm air continues to rise, the surrounding air swirls in to take its place.  This system begins to rotate and grow by feeding off the ocean’s heat and evaporating water.  As the storm spins faster, the more defined the “eye” becomes – the storm’s core.  Planes fly into the eye of the storm to measure pressure and gauge the intensity of the system.  Like a tornado or earthquake, a Hurricane has a rating system from Category 1-5. 

  • 1: Minimal damage at landfall, wind speeds 74-95 mph.
  • 2: Moderate damage at landfall, wind speeds 96-110 mph.
  • 3: Extensive damage at landfall, wind speeds 111-129 mph.
  • 4: Extreme damage at landfall, wind speeds 130-156 mph.
  • 5: Catastrophic damage at landfall, wind speeds 157 or higher.

How can you be prepared for Hurricane Season?  Preparation during a pandemic is most important because preparing for a Hurricane is not normal and is a stressful situation.  During a pandemic, there are extra precautions each of our families must take.  Have your emergency kit stocked and ready when the season begins June 1st.  You’ll need a kit for emergency supplies and a backup supply of any medications, preferably one months worth.  When or if you have to evacuate, you never know how long you will be gone.  Your kits should fit your needs.  Hand sanitizer, masks, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, basic sanitary and hygiene needs for everyone in your home.  The best thing to do is have this already done and not wait for the last minute.  I can assure you the basics will disappear quickly from store shelves once a storm is announced.  The following suggestions should help you decide how to assemble your kits.

  • Stay at home kit (2 weeks worth of emergency supplies) Include everything you need to stay home for two weeks. Food, water, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.
  • Evacuation kit (3 days of supplies in a “go bag”): This kit should be lightweight, a smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. This should be a three day supply of food, water, hygiene items, cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer (make sure it is at least 60 percent alcohol and disinfectant wipes). You will also need cloth face covers, masks, scarves, bandanas, anything to cover your nose and mouth. Each person in the home should have their own bag. We are still in a pandemic. Continue to social distance and adhere to the guidelines.
  • First Aid Kit: This should include what a first aid kit would normally have, as well as a one month supply of any prescription meds, fever meds, medical supplies and equipment that you or another family member may specifically need.

Remember, you may lose power in a hurricane, and if you have plans to stay home you have to stock up with that in mind. Non perishable food items are best or things that can be cooked on a gas top. I have cooked on a gas stove without power in a storm because that was my option and to keep food from spoiling. My advice is to plan accordingly, plan ahead, and this year…2020, plan with the pandemic in mind.

The Heart of It All

This post is dedicated to a very dear friend of mine.  We have never met in person before but we have been friends for about six years now.  We met in a BabyCenter birth month group in 2013, only to have our sons be born on the same day and both be curly headed lefties.  Her son still has his beautiful curls, but mine decided he hated getting his hair combed.  We’ve bonded over many things over the years, but what I am about to educate you on concerning her son Brexton “Rex” will inform you about an unknowingly common condition, and make you love her as much as I do.       

When you find out that you are expecting, so many emotions flood your mind. You’re happy, scared, you immediately start planning, you think about eating better, exercising more – even if that’s already your routine, and you are more aware of everything concerning your health and wellness. You can’t wait to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, see their image on an ultrasound for the first time, you even anticipate holding them. However, my friend isn’t able to hold her child when she wants to, be with him constantly, and being that we are in the middle of a pandemic; restrictions are even tighter. Her son is in the PCICU, where he went as soon as she gave birth to him. You see little Brexton was born with a very complex list of CHDs or congenital heart defects/diseases. His parents were informed early on of his heart issues during a routine ultrasound and they were referred to a specialist, but the knowledge does not prepare you for when you have to meet the issue face to face. Knowing that immediately, or within days of giving birth that your newborn will have to undergo major heart surgery is a lot to take in. Then to be told that surgery may not be an option and he should be put on a transplant list is devastating. However, all is not lost – so keep reading about his condition(s) and what can be done.

What is CHD?  CHD is a problem with the heart that a baby has at birth.  The heart forms very early during gestation and is the first functional organ to develop.  Before you are even aware you are pregnant, your baby’s heart has already formed, is beating, and pumping blood.  CHD is the most common birth defect and affects 1/100 babies born in the US each year.  That statistic gave me great pause because I have two children with perfectly healthy hearts, but either of them could have been that 1/100 – as well as yours.  1 in 100 is not a big exponential number, it is not like the chances of you winning the lottery or being struck by lightning.  Out of that number, about 25% are born with a critical CHD.  Brexton falls into that critical 25%.  He was diagnosed with a complex CHD which include:

  • Double outlet right ventricle – In DORV, the pulmonary artery and the aorta — the heart’s two major arteries — both connect to the right ventricle.  In a normal heart, the pulmonary artery connects to the right ventricle and the aorta connects to the left.  This creates a problem because the right ventricle carries oxygen – poor blood, which then gets circulated through the body.
  • Double outlet left atrium – DOLA is a very rare condition.  In a child with a DOLA defect, their left atrium drains into both ventricles and the only outlet for the right atrium is the atrial septal defect.
  • Complete atrioventricular canal – CAVC is a severe congenital heart disease in which there is a large hole in the tissue or septum that separates the two sides of the heart…right and left.  The whole is where the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) meet.
  • Coarctation of the aorta – A narrowing of the large blood vessel (aorta) that leads from the heart.
  • Tricuspid valve regurgitation – a disorder where the valve does not close tight enough.  This causes blood to flow backwards into the upper right chamber when the lower right chamber contracts.

Of all the ways a heart defect can affect your baby, Brexton checks every box.  It affects his heart chambers, his septum, his valves, and the arteries and veins.  There are no definitive causes for CHD, only guesses.  Whatever the reasoning for Baby Brexton’s condition, he has two parents that love him  beyond this world and two brothers at home waiting to meet him.  Brexton will need his parent’s to not only love and care for him, but to be his advocate.  They will have to fight to make sure that the doctor’s are doing the best for him and they will need “Rex’s Hero’s” to be their advocates, cheering them on, assuring them they are being the best parents, they are loved and we care.  Support is a critical component at this time and going forth.  We need to stand behind them doing research to give them information, encouraging them with emotional support, and reassuring them every step of the way that you have what it takes to care for this beautiful boy you created, you carried, and brought into this world.

Brexton was able to have his surgery at exactly two weeks old. The doctors were able to repair his aorta and add a shunt. They also put in bands for his pulmonary arteries. They were unable to fix his leaky valve at this time, but he is being observed intently. He is stable and 3 days post op they were able to close his incision. He is technically on the transplant list, but through the good thoughts and prayers of all of you who share and read this, he will be perfectly fine. We are putting it out into the great beyond at this very moment. If you take the time to read this, leave a comment or just the hashtag #RexsHeros. We can’t take anything in life for granted, and this beautiful baby should be more than enough reason to realize that.

Brexton’s room being turned into a surgical suite to close his chest.

I have also attached a GoFundMe account to this post to help the family with expenses not covered by insurance. If you find it in your heart to make a donation, bless you.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/baby-brexton-congenital-heart-defect-and-surgeries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

Would You Like to Be Rex’s Hero?

This is baby Brexton, his family affectionately call him Rex. Rex’s mom is a dear friend of mine and my heart has been broken these last weeks knowing what she’s enduring. This beautiful little boy will be 3 weeks on Monday, but at just two weeks he had major heart surgery. Brexton was born with a Congenital Heart Defect or CHD. A friend of the family has set up a Go Fund Me to absorb costs that insurance will not. Mom and Dad are traveling between two states separately to be with Rex as well as to be with the other two boys of theirs. Insurance is not covering everything and this is difficult for the family. I will have Rex’s full story up soon as well as an in depth story about CHD. If you would like to become a hero for Rex, I am putting the link to the Go fund me in this post. Thank you if you make a donation, but prayers and well wishes are just as welcomed!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/baby-brexton-congenital-heart-defect-and-surgeries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet