Monday, July 18, 2016

Rest in Peace Mikey


I miss you - Mikey.  Growing up, you and I were inseparable.  I didn't really know much about you, until after mom and dad divorced.

I knew you were sick.  But you always showed strength....To the point, we both forgot about Neurofibromatosis.

You were my buddy.  My best friend.


I will always remember our adventures as 'Bonnie and Clyde'....And the way you took care of me and always made me feel safe.  I hope I did that for you as well. 


You are still in my heart and dance in my mind-
Completely healed and no longer blind.

You courage and strength, Shined so bright-
You earned your wings, and have taken flight.

The tears I have cried,
You've wiped them away-
You hold me close- as you softly say-

"I am free from this world-
My pain is gone-
And if given the choice-
I wouldn't live on."

"This place is awesome-
And you'll be all right-"

"I'll look after you from Heaven's height."
-Kristianne


I love you Mikey.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thriving Takes Action


As a human being, it's easy to focus on the negative things in life.  I mean let's face it, life is HARD! And sometimes, life is unfair.

I didn't grow up as an overly optimistic person.  In fact, there are times when I think I am hard-wired to be a frustrated- angry woman....Just like my mother.  (There are even times, when I actually think, that way of life would be easier)

I have to work HARD....REALLY HARD sometimes to push out all of the negative - toxic feelings I have.

I got this e-mail from a father, who is having a very difficult time accepting the diagnosis of NF for his 3 yr old son.  He's angry (I understand) And he can't see the good in anything right now.  His words "I feel hopeless".

I feel this way too.  I sink into despair.  The amount of guilt I feel sometimes, when it comes to NF is unbearable.

But then what...What do I do with all those emotions?  Where do they go?

Those emotions - ALL OF THEM - are inside of me.  They are real.

But they transform into the energy I need to push myself forward, instead of allowing them to swallow me into a pit I cannot get out of.

HOW?  It's a very deliberate effort.  I recognize what it feels like....And what it looks like when life's "Stuff" starts to take its toll....And I know that everyone around can feel and see it too.  So...I make a choice.

It's like that saying-
"Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching". Thomas Jefferson

Positive thinking engages ALL me.  It puts ME in the drivers seat.  Puts ME in control of MY life.  And when other people notice - and recognize my efforts, it just makes the NEXT time I am facing a difficult situation, a little easier.

"THRIVING Takes ACTION-  When you CHOOSE to TAKE ACTION...Instead of letting life act upon YOU....That's when you THRIVE!" - Kristi Hopkins


THRIVE ON

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Didn't Know There Was Anything Wrong With You.


I was talking to my manager about my family, specifically why we have all these doctor visits that include MRI's, blood draws, vision checks....

I wasn't asking for time off for these appointments... but he was curious, because I talk a lot about being at the doctors with my kids..."Are they sick?" he asked me.

Well.  Technically NO.  They aren't "sick".  

He is the same manager who found my keynote speech in the office, read it and spend some time googling me and Neurofibromatosis...So he was completely receptive.

But as I explained NF in more detail, he just looked more confused.

He said to me...."I didn't know there was anything wrong with you...."

This rubbed me the wrong way. It didn't make me ANGRY, but it ANNOYED me enough that I took a few moments to responded to him...."Having NF doesn't mean there is anything WRONG with me.  It just makes me different.  I deal with things that you don't have to.....But at the same time...YOU deal with things that I don't have to deal with."
The old saying is 'we all have our crosses to bear'. For some people, the worst thing they deal with from day to day is getting cut off in traffic, or spilling coffee on their blouse. For others, it's a fender bender, or not enough money at the end of the month. For those with NF, our perspective tends to be broadened to include what the world might consider 'tornado-level' results - tumors, chemo, deformations, and more.
But people who don't have NF have their own stuff, and to them it can be just as bad. In some cases, it IS just as bad. In some cases, it's WORSE. Disease and Death touch us all.

It doesn't mean anything is 'wrong' with us. It just means that this is our life.
  Saying something is 'wrong' with us is the world's way to label us, to label anyone too different, really. To compartmentalize us, so they don't have to think about it - they can dismiss us by just saying something is 'wrong' with us.

But they can only succeed in doing that if we allow it - if we shrink into those compartments, instead of living the lives we deserve, and being the people we want to be. 
NF is just PART of my life.  Yes, it intertwines with everything I do, and everything I am...Yet it isn't the thing that defines me.

Don't let it define YOU.

Thrive on.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Why Did God Make Me Ugly?


I was emailed a question a couple weeks ago from a woman suffering an extreme form of Neurofibromatosis.  Attached was a photo.  In the e-mail she asks the question..."Why did God make me ugly?"

How do you define UGLINESS?  For me, when I think of that word, it doesn't have anything to do with appearances.  Ugliness is an action.  Same goes for the word BEAUTIFUL.

When I looked at this woman's photo, I didn't see ugliness.  I saw strength.  But I definitely connected with how she feels.

She asked me questions about how I feel about having NF...And if my love life has suffered.

"My husband doesn't love me anymore.  And I find myself pushing him into an affair....Maybe then he will be happy."

My heart broke for this woman, and I have been struggling with how to respond to her....which probably also can explain my hiatus from blogging.

I tend to run from things that make me uncomfortable...And NF, despite my show of bravery on-line...Does make me uncomfortable to talk about.

It's mostly because people just don't get it.  To them, tumors mean cancer....Cancer means sick...Sick means death....And death means sympathy....Sympathy means pity  etc etc etc....

NF is not something that can be talked about casually.  It's complicated, and goes beyond, 'bumps on the skin'.

The thing is  I find myself asking God 'why' a lot.  Why do I have to deal with this?  Is this a form of punishment?  Why do I have to be strong?  Why won't God just wiped this disorder away?

My NF 'isn't THAT bad' right now....But what's going to happen in 5 yrs? 10?  20?  Will my "THRIVING" turn into frustration, anger and bitterness?   Will I be asking if I am still worthy of love?

Honestly I am scared to death of this happening.

But for now...I am trying to build myself up to be strong.  Build up the people who are around me to not judge...But instead LEARN.

I hate that the woman who emailed feels ugly...And feels like her husband doesn't love her.  My advice is to sit down and talk about this.  People fear what they don't understand....And maybe its just that the husband is scared.  So he pushes away.

It's easy to run.  It's hard to face reality.  It's hard to teach.  But in all those things that hard...When we face them....We grow.  And we can grow to love ourselves....Once we love ourselves....Others can start to love us.

THRIVE ON-

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Am I Making A Difference?



It's hard to believe that 2 weeks have gone by since I was in Canada.  It was such a heartwarming experience...And I find myself longing for more.

While I was at the symposium I had this woman come up to me, shake my hand and tell me how much she liked my talk.  She pointed to her daughter - who was sitting by herself, with her baby.  "Can you go over and talk to her...?"

So I did.  I sat with her.  Told her that her baby was beautiful...That NF wasn't the end of the world...That her baby is looking to HER ..And that to HIM...She was his hero!  

I tried.

But....I don't think any of my words helped.  

To HER....This was the end of the world.  To HER, her baby was 'sick'.  To HER, it was all her fault.

I felt bad for her....Mostly because I know exactly how she feels.

I hate NF with so much passion, that sometimes, I just want to throw my computer against the wall, and give up on all this THRIVING crap.

But...

Then I see my kids.  I see them looking at me.  To MY kids...I am their hero.  The one they look to - and learn from.  I see MY attitude reflecting in them.  And THRIVING has become the most important part in how we cope with this diagnosis.

My words may not have impacted this young woman....But....Maybe they did.  All I can do, is set an example....Share my story and live my life.

And on those days where I get so frustrated that I want to give up.....I DON'T.

THRIVE ON.