More than This

lipsense lipsMany of us were in the middle of doing something with our careers as independent women before dealing with major catastrophes in our lives such as an IED blast in our life. Pretty much a giant bomb went off in mine not only in terms of how it hurt my husband, but how it disrupted our life. However, there were positive things that came out of it.

What were you doing? What were you in the midst of? What are things you want to do once you feel that things are a bit more even keel? What are some of the criteria you use on your life for that “even keel?” Is it a winding down of medical practitioner visits? Not so many visits to the VA? One hospitalization a year vs 6? Is it him and you now sleeping more at night? (If so, I am very happy for both of you!) I would love to hear what it is that constitutes smooth sailing for you.

I was talking to my counselor a few months ago and she asked me something I hadn’t thought of in a long time. “What were you doing before your husband got hurt and what would you like to do or do differently when things get as close to normal for you?” I think it was a good fifteen minutes before I could answer her. I hadn’t really thought about it in so long. I had left it behind during the grief part of everything. So what do I like doing? What are things that drive ME? What were things I was good at? I had forgotten the idea of me along the way.

I was at a retreat with an amazing group almost two years ago called Courage Beyond and one of the exercises we got to do was painting. I had forgotten how much I truly love watching the color play on the canvas. What fun it was to mix colors and create my own palette. Kind of like how I have always enjoyed playing with makeup and hair, but went to college for Journalism and Broadcast instead. Anyone that knows me sees my love for color, retro fashions, and the old glamour pin-up looks from the 50’s. You can check out my page here:

I have been thinking. I love belly dancing, painting, burlesque, writing and so much more. How do I pick something and narrow it down? One advantage of all of the changes in our life is that I was saved from my boring job at a large computer company and pursuing my MBA. I was one course in it and had earned a B before Todd got hurt. One course that made me think “why do I care about capitol management and why is it so damn boring?” I had no desire to manage people and deal with HR issues. I had no desire to be someone’s sales monkey anymore. Selling lots of hardware and seeing very little commission or anything in return.

For the past few years I have been ballet dancing and belly dancing. I love dancing. It is in my blood and I feel so happy and calm and like my old self when I do it. It is one of the best forms of exercise I know and something I can do for hours without it feeling as boring as being on a treadmill. I did the Shimmy Mob a year ago and got to perform with a bunch of women to benefit an agency that helped victims of domestic violence. It was empowering and fun and something I will do again.

I used to sell Artistry makeup when we did Amway back in the early ’90’s. I really enjoyed doing make overs for women and watching them be happy with their reflections. When I was younger, I used to do some modeling and learned a lot about techniques and different cosmetic lines. I used to buy a lip color called LipSense from my friend whose aunt sold it. It was amazing as I could dance and it would stay put. Of course, my favorite color is Blu Red. It looks like a Hollywood lip color the stars of the 50’s used. As a dancer, I got hooked on it.

I decided last summer to sell it myself for a few reasons. One being it was a lot easier having direct access to and the rest of the amazing product line and two, I miss having a job that pays me a real salary. I miss having my own business. This was a compromise. I get to play with colors and see women happy with themselves instead of tearing themselves down. So, it was a step I made to do something fun for me. It does not involve anything wounded. Nothing military. Nothing manly. Nothing predictable. Nothing medical. It is all fun. It is work, but fun.

Something that reminds me that I was a woman who had her own career, her own life before some idiot terrorist blew up life as I knew it. The blast is NOT who we are as a family. It is something that seriously was one of the worst things ever, but honestly it made us grow together as a family, as a couple and made me grow and mature as a wife and mother. I refuse to be defined by something that is no longer. It has been four years since this tragic event happened.

I choose to honor the people lost by living the life I have left. Enjoying my days with my family. Making the most of the time I have with my husband. Basking in the glow of his good days and treasuring the wonderful friends I have made during this major change in my life. This is not a blog piece about my makeup line, but a piece I felt like writing as it deals with change. Change for yourself. Change to make you feel more like you. How to get yourself back. Sure, our service members were wounded, but they are our men. Our husbands, lovers, fathers…so many roles they play in life just like we do. I have been focusing on ways to encourage him to make changes in his life as I have done with mine. At the end of the day, we are husband and wife and parents of a wonderful son.

Not victims. Not over. Not lost.

More changes ahead. Stay tuned!

Happy Anniversary

It was October 15th, 2009. This was the day that would change our lives forever. I was at my best friend’s house with my son and his friend, getting ready to go out and help throw a 40th birthday party for a co-worker of mine.

It was around 4pm on that Thursday when my cell phone rang. It was someone from Red Cross, calling to tell me that my husband and fellow team members were hurt by a roadside IED on the way back from a mission. I was totally shocked by the call. I can remember almost falling back onto the bed I was previously sitting on.

“Your husband has a broken leg and was intubated.” What?? “What is really wrong? Why is he intubated? I don’t have an MD by my name, but no one in God’s name intubates for a broken leg.” The voice on the other end of the line heard the panic and fear in my voice and said,”Ma’am, someone will call you from the medical team once he arrives to Landshtul.” I said,”Ok.”

I did not tell my son anything until I felt I had real tangible news. Every time my phone rang, it made my stomach hurt as I was on eggshells waiting for more information on my husband. I was the one in charge of my friends 40th, so I got dressed I swear I was on autopilot. I showed up, gave her the stuff I had picked up for her and the party goers. I left, went home, and threw up due to my nerves. I swear it felt like twelve hours that went by from that first phone call.

The phone rang, and it was a friend of my husbands. He was with him in Germany. He told me that he was looking right at CSF and he could see that all of his parts were still there. He said,”I am looking at his full naked splendor now.” He gave me a bit more information on the injuries my husband sustained. It turns out when soldiers are hurt, they are stripped naked and put on gurneys and covered in blankets. When an IED or an RPG goes off, the person that is struck in the blast is covered with dirt. Over in Afghanistan, the dirt is like talc, so the wounded soldier looks like a statue replica, just with blood on it.

When soldiers are hurt in Afghanistan, they are stabilized at BAF (Bagrum Airforce Base),then flown to Landshtul, Germany where there is a great first class Army hospital. Once the soldier is worked on, assessed, and stabilized, they are flown to Bethesda, MD where Walter Reed hospital is. They re-fuel the plane and if the solider is meant to go back to Texas, they fly to BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center), which is a damn good hospital.

During the time of waiting to get more information on my husband, I mentally thought of what to do with our son. He was enrolled in 7th grade and had a lot of pre-ap courses to take. On the date of the accident, my son had already attended a few months. I went in to work the next day (I worked as a technical saleswoman) and it was our end of quarter, which was a very intense time of year and also one that sets us up well lucratively if it is a good sales season. I had a few contracts at stake that I had put together and owned the relationship with the customers. I also had a few issues that had to be resolved. I focused on work until I got more information on when my husband was coming home as that was all I knew how to do. I told my son we would get things together once we knew timing and everything would fall into place. In my mind, I was trying to figure out what would we do with him?

On October 19, 2009, I received a phone call from the medical team updating me that Todd would be arriving by the medical helicopter. I was excited to finally get to see him, as he had been gone since January of 2009. I was worried at what his injuries would be like, but more importantly, it was him! He was finally going to be there.