Christmas came up on me a bit too fast and I did not put together a Christmas letter or send cards this year. It is rather sad, too, because I love looking back at the year I’m putting behind me before starting the next chapter. Just because the snail mail never made it doesn’t mean I can’t do a 2014: My Year in Review blog post.
I celebrated my first anniversary as a Behavioral Health Specialist for Gundersen’s Inpatient Behavioral Health unit. There are still days I go into work and have no idea how I became so blessed to land in this role. I work with an amazing group of people and have had some remarkable opportunities fall in my lap throughout the last year.
My college bud, Danelle, and I escaped for a weekend to Minneapolis. It was beyond fantastic. We wondered the Mall of America, saw the Viking cheerleaders, and ate junk food.
If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know that I like to post things the boys say. (I should note that when I talk about “the boys”, I am referring to Alan, Evan, and Owen. They are the family I adopted, or adopted me. Not sure how to make it sound uncomplicated, but I love them to pieces. This was a Facebook post from Valentine’s Day 2014:
I was catching up with Catherine in the kitchen tonight after work.
ALAN: (Hollers from the den!) MOM!!! CAN YOU MAKE THE DOGS STOP WHINING???
One dog was outside and the other was asleep on the floor.
CATHERINE: THAT’S NOT THE DOGS!! THAT’S MELISSA.
Speaking of Alan, he turned 10 in February. I drove up to Wausau and picked up my sister Colleen, and Nolan, Madeline, and Gunner to bring them back to La Crosse for the birthday party. We took Mark and Shannon’s GMC Acadia because it had more room than my car. After the birthday party, we drove to the mall to have dinner at HuHot. One of those concrete handicap parking posts appeared out of nowhere and the was the end of Shannon and Mark’s Acadia.
Looking back, I can’t say I ever enjoyed driving that beastly thing. Those vehicles are not built for someone who only stands 5’2″. I just wish it had not been me behind the wheel of the Acadia’s last ride. I still shake my head thinking about that. Now poor Shannon is driving a brand new Toyota minivan.
March – April 2014
My nephew Gunner turned 4 on March 19th and I took Alan, Evan, and Owen up to Wausau for the birthday party. It is so much fun getting all the kids together. I think Gunner had a great time at his party.
I continued to struggle with staying hydrated bizarre attacks of needing to just sit still. Pretty sure I purchased a record number of bottles of Gatorade. I believe it was March 2014 that I completed the entire series of Dexter. And, what a darn good series it was. Disturbing and twisted, but addicting.
Speaking of Netflix and bedrest, I discovered a beautiful way to occupy my time and still feel like a functioning human being while being a useless couch occupier. It’s called Zentangle and I’m hooked.
Zentangle is a form of meditative doodling and if I can come up with a spare $2,000 and a week of PTO, I’m going to head to Rhode Island to become a certified instructor. Probably won’t happen in 2015, but 2016 is a definitely possibility.
Not only have I discovered the incredible calming benefits, I have shared this with many of the patients I work with and they agree – it’s amazing. The best part is you don’t have to have an artistic bone in your body to create a Zentangle.
Not only have I become hooked on Zentangle, I’ve also explored Zentangle Inspired Art, Dangles, and art journaling. I LOVE my journal I’ve worked on this year. It’s instant happiness the moment I open it. While I’ve continued to experience health issues throughout 2014, I think having these outlets have helped keep me immensely positive.
May is always my favorite month of the year. I had 32 candles to blow out on May 9th. It was a sight I wasn’t entirely sure I would see after everything I went through in 2013, but I made it.
For my birthday this year, I took a mini-road trip to meet a 98-year-old woman who is still running a little country store. If you missed it, you can read all about my visit here: The Fremont Store.
In June, I was invited to attend the 2014 Get Well Network Conference in Chicago with nine of my Gundersen colleagues. I have attended many conferences, workshops, and trainings, but this was by far the best one. I toured Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, walked away with some pretty cool stuff from the vendor booths, and most importantly, became incredibly inspired to bring back new ideas to our Behavioral Health unit.
While in Chicago, I experienced my very first Major League Baseball game. The Chicago Cubs took on some other team in tight pants, but I can’t recall who the opponent was. There’s so much to do at a baseball game that it’s hard to focus on the field. I had 10 feet of a licorice rope to chew on, cotton candy to consume, and when that YMCA song comes on, you get up and you do those dance moves.
Grandpa Larry turned 77 on 07/07/14. I drove to Wausau and spent the day with him. It was just like the Grandpa & Kiki days all over again.
Mark & Shannon celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.
When I wasn’t working 12 hour shifts, I found some time to hang out with my niece and nephews over the summer.
I found myself home alone a few times throughout the summer. Terry and Catherine took off with my…er…their children and left me all by lonesome. While they were at Brewer games, touring Madison, and galavanting all over South Dakota, I was here in La Crosse. With their beta fish, Roman.
Roman and I bonded. We did our own tailgating and the little fella had a “family reunion” of his own while the family was off at theirs.
August marked the 10 year anniversary of my move up to Alaska. I still cannot believe it has been that long.
I took the three boys up to Three Lakes for a camping weekend at The Harbor Campground with Mark, Shannon, and the kids. It was so much fun! Not only did we experience a fantastic little ice cream parlor, the kids and I spent some time at the beach. 2014 was a pretty big year for me. I finally ditched the mint green swimsuit to hush Shannon and bought a new one. I think it was even worn four or five times.
August was mostly all fun, but I did run into a new health issue. If you have never heard of pleurisy, let me tell you a bit about it. The lining around the lung becomes inflamed. Taking a breath feels like a rusty serrated knife is being stabbed through your ribcage. It takes an hour to find the one position that you are able to be in without wanting to die.
As if this wasn’t all wonderful enough, every chest x-ray came back perfect. I was prescribed pain meds, but Aleve was the only thing I could take that helped. We’ll talk more about this when I sum up December.
I finally made the move from Blogger to WordPress and when I was not putting in 12 hour work days, I was reading everything I could find on how to make the adjustment. In the process, my MacBook crashed and in the process of installing WordPress on the new MacBook, I lost all of my progress and had to start over.
On the bright side of this, Lori McKenna released a new album and made all this WordPress stuff easier to swallow. If you haven’t checked out Lori McKenna, DO IT! You’ll thank me.
Roman, the fish, passed away on September 11th and went to the big fishbowl in the sky.
The family adopted this little guy and named him Murphy:
We had a brief, but beautiful, fall. I took my camera out of the bag and tried out some new tricks I found on Pinterest. After a long break from booking sessions, I decided to start up again. Not to the extent I had previously been doing photography, though.
Another October highlight: I discovered that the Alpine just down the road has deep friend mac and cheese.
I spend every year very eager for November to arrive for two reasons:
#1) Our annual Craft Weekend in Three Lakes! The ladies rent condos at the Northernaire Resort and spent a long weekend doing crafts and projects. It’s a wonderful weekend and this year was no exception. I blogged about it: Unproductively Productive Craft Weekend
(#2) Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for many years. This year, just like last year, I spent the day working. It was also my weekend to work, so I was unable to go home. I didn’t mind working and actually enjoy spending holidays on the unit.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to spend four days in Madison training to become a Crisis Prevention Instructor through CPI. The training was intense, but our instructor was phenomenal. Now that I’m certified, I will be co-teaching CPI recognition and renewal classes throughout 2015 and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
The winter brought on nosebleeds and I experienced a cauterization for the first time. That was not much fun at all, but the nosebleeds have been much more manageable now.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a complete year without one more final ER visit. I’m now on a prescription that will hopefully clear up this gastritis/ulcer I have going on.
I was able to make it home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was low-key and wonderful to be home, especially with the kids. They are all at such a fun age right now.
It was a beautiful year and I’m planning to make 2015 even better!