“And that life will once more… Be a celebration… And that you will be touched by an Angel” – Stevie Nicks

Life is good right now. I have pink hair!, and it will be back to blonde for me to start my new job on March 4. I have a side business doing well and a book that’s almost finished. I have a cozy house, two crazy dogs and summer is right around the corner.

I’m sure there will still be hard days, but right now – everything is good. 

– xoxo Victoria

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“It’s just that simple, S-I-M-P-L-E Simple as can be It’s just that simple, S-I-M-P-L-E Simple as can be Ain’t no need to complicate it, we both know that’s overrated We’ve been there, it’s safe to say it ain’t our style We’re just simple like a six string The way this world was meant to be Like laughin’ love, make a lot out of a little It’s just that simple, S-I-M-P-L-E” – Mark L Holman, Michael Wilson Hardy, Tyler Reed Hubbard

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

I never made any decisions. We needed a new fence – Duane built it, we needed a new roof – I provided popsicles while Duane reroofed the house, a new couch, new kitchen table, new motorhome – Duane picked them out. I didn’t decide anything. I would come home from a week of work and my bathroom would be remodeled or the kitchen would be remodeled. I didn’t have to think about anything. 

It’s kinda sad but really kinda nice. I didn’t have a lot of choice in the way we lived or what we had, but in all honesty I didn’t really care. We had nice things and were really happy.

Once he got sick a lot of decisions fell on me. Major decisions, life and death decisions. I had all my decision making ability sucked out of me in those few years. 

Well now I have decisions to make again. I usually call my dad (he and Duane are both super, super handy and have the same eye for what looks good and what will look janky). So for example when I needed something to store the station wagon and Mastercraft under I went back and forth between a garage and a carport. I sat at the “store” and seriously called my dad no less then 5 times … “What color should the outside be?”, “What color should the trim be?” “How many walls?” … He was answering the phone and I was just saying “Me Again, I have another question”.  HAHAHA 

Well I am getting a job, a real job, and I have two dogs that cannot be trusted to be free range in the house … what was I to do? My parents are not available to come over to help OR make the decision for me. (Before we go any further YES I am an adult and I am totally capable, or should be, of making these decisions by myself, but I don’t. I second guess everything, because Duane was literally an expert on everything, and so is my dad so why would I make a decision?) I was trying to Message my dad (he’s out of the country and ask him questions about a fence vs a dog run … wood or chain link? … black or silver? … include the shed or not? … get a garage? … maybe a fence and a dog door? … maybe just leave them inside in their crates? cameras? maybe just trust them? NO!!!!!

Well I dug deep and made a decision. HAHAHAHA I emptied my “yard equipment” shed, filled it with dog beds and blankets and hired someone to build me a 10 x 20 foot dog run attached to it. It looks pretty good. I haven’t tested how they like being in it yet. But so far they really like peeing on the outside. 

Hopefully between that space and the amazing dog sitter I found, to let them out, Buddy and Lucy will be happy. 

Decision making is hard. My mind can easily decide what meds you need, what dose you need, what to do if you’re choking, not breathing or overdosing. What alternative treatment may work for you, what sauna, oil or constipation remedy may help, but ask me to decide between a fence and a dog run  – give me a week! I’m working on it. I have a flowered comforter, some amazing antique pieces and a pink polka dotted boat.  So yes, I can make decisions. But I am still in the process of second guessing all of the household, daily happening decisions.  

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. My sister told me the other day that she feel like she’s in the “Three’s Company” tv show when she comes over … I said, “Perfect – That’s the look I’m going for”!

“They call me the fireman, that’s my name. Making my rounds all over town, putting out old flames. Well everybody’d like to have a what I got. I can cool ’em down when they’re smoldering hot. I’m the fireman, that’s my name.” – Mack Vickery / Wayne Kemp

unnamed-1Funny story – years ago Duane and I moved to Discovery Bay, he was remodeling our rental in Reno so I started living in California before him so I could keep working there. It was January when we moved in and we had a wood burning fireplace that I used every night. Everyday he asked me if I had bought a fire extinguisher, 2 actually,  everyday I told him no, but I would go out and get them that day… a week or so went by and I still hadn’t gotten around to it. I figured I was careful so there was no way the fire would shoot out of the fireplace and burn the joint down. (Plus he’s the fire expert he should buy them.)

Well one day I was blow drying my hair and guess what happened – the hairdryer started shooting flames out of it. No joke. Flames shooting out of it. Sparkler things were landing on the bath mat and burning holes in it … it was not a good situation. I went out and bought 4 fire extinguishers that day.  I told him that if he just would have told me that that could happen I would have gone out and got them the first day. 

Fast forward 8 years and I have 5 extinguishers in my house, both bathrooms, kitchen, next to the sauna and next to the fireplace. I never leave the clothes dryer on when I leave and always unplug the toaster, hair straightener and coffee pot when I go out. I warn everyone about Christmas tree lights and space heaters. I am house burning down, fire scared. 

Well a few weeks ago my heater broke. It was 55 degrees in my house when I woke up, and in the 20s and 30s outside… blah blah blah…The warranty people had a new one in 48 hours so it wasn’t so bad, but in the mean time … I was using my gas fireplace until I ran out of propane and then I switched to space heaters. 

There were plugged-in in my bedroom. While I was getting ready for bed or in the shower they worked perfectly. As soon as I got in bed they shut off and blew the breaker. I would get up, flick the breaker back on, switch outlets, move them around the room and no matter what as soon as I laid down in bed .. the breaker blew. 

Duane is still keeping me safe and teaching me lessons. 

– xoxo Victoria

P.S. When they were replacing my heater they found a pretty good leak under my house. My dad fixed it, but there was one day with no heat and no water … it was like m=being back in the motorhome in winter! hahahahaha

“So this is what the truth feels like This is more of what I had in mind” – Justin Tranter / Julia Michaels / Mattias Per Larsson / Robin Lennart Fredriksson / Gwen Stefani

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In late December I self published my personal journals on amazon. This was something I had told myself I would do before the year was up … I barely made it. I wanted to do this, felt like I needed to do this. I needed to try and reach one person, help at least one person who is in the same heart wrenching position I was in. 

These were journal entries I wrote on and off during Duane and my’s battle with ALS. I was so scared to put it all out there. Scared to show everyone who had supported us and loved us through the last few years what it was really like. What I was feeling. What we went through and how bad some days were. 

This collection of journal entries are the opposite of what this blog was. Here I was able to show everyone all the fun we were having. Share the fishing trips, laughs and all the moves we made in such a short time. #thisisals was uplifting and positive and showed people you can do anything. The blog was originally started to keep all our friends and family updated on Duane’s progression and our adventures. 

This is where the favor comes in … If you have read my journals can you please hop over to amazon and give them an honest review please? I am finishing up a real book and would love to be able to use this to help that. I have had so many people (so many strangers too) email, instagram and message me about the journals. The positive messages and the genuine thanks I have received from people I have never met blows my mind. So I guess what I am asking is – if you have messaged me or emailed me a review would you mind also doing it on amazon? It can be anonymous. (It can also be negative! I mean if that’s what you think).

Thank you all for your continued support and love! I wouldn’t have made it though the last few years without you!

– xoxo Victoria

Live life to the fullest and laugh as much as possible. Life is so short and you need to enjoy every minute, tell people you love them and have no regrets. 

“You better get to livin’, givin’ Don’t forget to throw in a little forgivin’ And lovin’ on the way You better get to knowin’, showin’ A little bit more concerned about where you’re goin’ Just a word unto the wise You better get to livin'”, -Dolly Parton / Michael K. Wells

When I look at these pictures of me as little girl you can see my loves are deeply rooted…. driving boats, bikinis, jumping off things and the sun, not much has changed. This little girl knew she could be whatever she wanted. She was taught that you are capable of anything you put your mind to and as long as you’re happy that’s all that matters. 

Fast forward 34 (shhhhh) years and what has she accomplished? An almost year round tan? Yes. Drawers and drawers full of bikinis? Yes. A master captain’s license? Yes. But that is about as far as it goes… 

I had so many goals over the last 13 years that I never completed or gave up on. Goals that I was told I wasn’t dedicated enough to make happen and things I wanted to do but was told I wouldn’t be good at. So I guess in a way this is my New Years’s Resolution Blog Post. 

In 2019 I plan to start checking things off my list. Compete in ways I have never competed, finish races I never got to start and participate in activities I might not be good at but have always wanted to try. In 2019 I hope to live the way I always dreamed of living; laughing, loving and truly enjoying myself and those around me. I know life is about compromise and it can’t always be “your way”, but some of the time it’s ok to ask for what you want and put forth every effort to make sure that your desires and dreams are fulfilled. 

Here’s the start of my list…

  1. participate in a triathlon 
  2. compete in a paddle board race 
  3. finish school
  4. finish my book 
  5. take a boat down the ICW and through the caribbean (that one may have to wait! hahaha)

These are all more than doable. I’ll add to this list as I have time over the next few weeks and add them to my final list as 2018 ends. Obviously I’ll keep everyone updated on my wins and losses (hopefully there won’t be many!) and share my laughs and tears. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and appreciates all those around them. 

– xoxo Victoria

 

“‘Cause I’m a comeback, I’m a comeback kid Down for a minute, I’ll get up again Looks like I’m breaking, but it’s just a bend; it’s not over yet…I’ll save you a spot at my big parade You’re all invited on my comeback day I’ll serve you ice cream and lemonade” – Kimberly Perry / Neil Perry / Reid Perry

I woke up this morning with a huge pain in my chest. My heart hurt. (Let’s be real it was 5am. Getting up at a time I am normally staring at the clock was difficult say the least.) But it needed to be done. I have spent the last 5 months in an intense CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant – program, with the goal of going into hospice care. The funny thing is every clinical skill I was taught was something that I had been doing for years, skills I had mastered in my years of taking care of Duane.

Many people have asked why I decided to go into this line of work after everything I had already gone through taking care of Duane. The only thing I can say is I was drawn to it. I went to college for forensics and had done autopsies and I have my mortuary license. I always said “I can work on dead people, but I would never work on the living because I don’t want to mess up”. But I have always been drawn to it. I remember one day while Duane was sick, we had friends over (one who was a nurse) and she said you would be a good nurse and immediately Duane said “No she wouldn’t”.  That deterred me for a while, but I kept thinking maybe I can. I brought it up many times and family and friends would say, not yet, it’s too soon, you’re not ready. I will say I have many supporters, people that have encouraged me to pursue this from the start, unwavering support. So this year on “Duane’s Day”, July 8, the 1 year anniversary of his passing I decided I needed to get my shit together. On July 9th I walked in to the local college and asked about classes, they started the 10th – I signed up. The next day I started class and knew I had found my passion.

I finished classes a few weeks ago and registered for the state boards. The only day open was December 7th. Our wedding anniversary. Our third anniversary. He has officially been dead for more anniversaries than he was alive.

At first I said it was a “sign”. But this morning, with an aching heart and tired body I saw it as a mistake. What was I thinking?? How could I put this much pressure on myself, today, of all days. I got through the written test and then moved on to the skills. Got through the skills and then lost it. I looked at the evaluator as she said, “you’re done, thank you”, and I lost it. I took a deep breath and the tears started flowing I told her that my husband had passed away last year and that today was our anniversary. She asked me for a hug and told me everything was going to be ok and that I should definitely consider getting my RN. We need mature nurses she said. You would be great at it, you know this and your heart is in the right place.

I left the test happy. Proud of what I had accomplished and ready to start looking for a job. But what she and so many of my other mentors have told me, the idea of becoming an RN is weighing on my mind. Two more years of school versus 5 more months and then a summer of fun. I need to make a decision in the next few weeks.

For tonight and then next few days I am going to sit, relaxed and pleased with my accomplishments. My heart is no longer heavy and I know that Duane was with me today. He told me I wouldn’t be good at anything nursing related and I am, so I guess I am also laughing at the fact I can say “I told you so – you were wrong”! hahahahaha

– xoxo Victoria

 

“Of years together spent. A pleasant memory Of places that we went We used to walk and we used to talk We used to laugh and we used to cry And there will always be a place in my heart…” – Michael Ness

I haven’t bought pajamas/ thermals in years. We used to “camp” in the motorhome for weeks at time, sometimes in the snow and freezing temperatures so Duane could pre-fish lakes for upcoming tournaments. I was always cold during the winter – because lets face it – no matter how well a RV heater works, when you’re at Lake Shasta in December and January there is no staying warm.

Every year he would take it upon himself to go shopping and buy me crazy thermals and flannel pajamas. People made so much fun of him! They would ask why he bought me “those” to sleep in. He would just laugh and ignore them. In the spring and summer he went out and bought me bikinis and always made sure I had pink and glitter baits to fish with. 

People kept teasing him … “that’s what you want her to sleep in?” He would just laugh and joke about the bikinis being the trade off! … Then one day during a fishing seminar he told everyone the key to getting your girlfriend/ wife to fish with you, camp with you and stay with you in a tiny motorhome for weeks at a time…

“Keep her happy. Buy her the warm clothes, the cute bikinis, books, magazines, and whatever baits she wanted. If you want her with you, she needs to enjoy it. Spend some money to keep her happy and she will always come with you”. Everyone just looked at us. I was a staple at every tournament and every event. No one could understand why I always went, why I got up at 4am and made lunch for everyone, why I stood for hours in the rain waiting for him to weigh-in. Because I liked it (mostly). Because he made sure I was comfortable and dressed for the weather so I would enjoy it and keep coming. He made sure that at least one night while we were gone we went on a real date, smelly and tired , but we still went. At that same seminar he had the chance to “fish” in the HUGE tank at Bass Pro, but instead of him taking the cast, he called me up and had me do it. The fishermen couldn’t believe that he didn’t take this opportunity. He went on to explain, that even though he wanted to, he knew it was a one time thing and he wanted me to enjoy the HOURS we had spend at Bass Pro and knew this would do it. People laughed and chuckled and then realized he was right. 

It’s getting colder here and I realized I need pajamas, I have never really thought about it, they were always just there. So I went in my drawers to check my size, I didn’t know –  and ordered my own. 

I think he would have approved of my choices. 

– xoxo Victoria

“‘Cause he knows how to treat his woman And he knows how to make ends meet He’ll take you for a ride in his four-wheel drive And he’ll fix about anything” … “And there ain’t nothing better than Being loved by a workin’ man” – Angaleena Loletta Mcco Presley

My house has a well and septic tank (I’m sure that will lead to a completely different post in the future). That water is harsher on your skin and hair so I’ve had to change my products and try to figure out how to manage my blonde hair. Today I used purple shampoo – I’m not sure how it works, but it makes the blonde, blonde again… MAGIC. When I was done I looked around the shower and there was purple shampoo and conditioner EVERYWHERE. How did it get on the ceiling?

I started laughing and started cleaning and then I realized I have never noticed this before. I have had every color hair throughout the last 10 years (pink is my favorite), I’ve dyed it at home in the bathroom or the shower hundreds of times. I’ve never noticed the dye and the shampoo. And then I realized…

I never cleaned it up. And I never knew what a mess it was because Duane just did it, never said anything about it, just cleaned it. 

Over the last few years I have come to realize that there were a lot of things Duane just did that I didn’t know anything about. Gutter cleaning, propane filling up, maggots in the outside trash can… He went to work and then came home and cleaned hair dye out of the shower. 

I didn’t appreciate it. But I do know. Learning how to do all of this by myself has been challenging and, at times, defeating. I had the best teacher though. 

I wish I would have told him more how much I appreciated him and everything he did for me and us. 

– xoxo Victoria

 

“Love is not as simple as it seems But I have learned to trust the space between” … “When I look back on our years together The only one I gave my whole heart to” … “Oh your tender heart, Taught me the hardest part is having to let go And everything you do promises I love you” – Anthony Cameron / Garth Williams

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I just got home from clinical at the hospital. I cried all the way home and then sat in the driveway, in my car, crying for another half hour. It’s crazy how all of a sudden the emotions just catch up with you and paralyze you. 

I love my house, I love my dogs, but there is something about walking into an empty house day after day, night after night that is just exhausting. It’s so lonely. The loneliness of walking into an empty house and having no one to share your day with. 

It’s hard to share these feeling because most people see it as one way. They don’t realize you can be sad and lonely and missing someone and still be ready to move forward and start a new life. People don’t understand that, they don’t want to. They don’t want your grief or confusion to interrupt their lives. They see it as one way or the other. Black and white. They can’t comprehend that you can be happy and be sad. 

The loneliness is deafening. I moved across the country and sometimes doubt the decision. I still get lost everywhere I go. I don’t have many friends and I can’t just show up on their front door step looking like this. (Yes, I am having a pity party right now). I’m thinking forward and know that I will have a regular job soon and will hopefully meet people and make friends there. I am trying to get out more and interact with people but it’s not easy. 

I don’t know what I have been so emotional lately. Maybe this is just a build up from all the writing I’ve been doing for my book. Maybe it’s just the past few years finally setting in. Maybe it’s everything that I haven’t really confronted coming out. Maybe it’s my frustration with other people thinking I can’t be happy and sad – or even have a bad day. I don’t know what it is but it sucks. 

I need to just be. Let the emotions come and go and embrace them. It’s hard and it hurts. But I am fortunate for the life that I have and am excited about what is to come. 

Pity party over … well in the morning it will be!

– xoxo Victoria

 

“And that’s when I was searching, I’m not searching anymore And that’s when I was learning about the things worth living for Before I was open, before I knew I couldn’t live a day Without you” – Vincent Paul Degiorgio / Bill Kaltabanis / David Roland Williams / Tom Kaltabanis

Picture on the left – 2004/2005 (depicts my attitude perfectly), picture on the right – 2017. How much I have changed. So many people would say that. So many people have said to me “you were the last person we thought would care for someone”. “I can’t believe you can (and did) do that on that level”.

I won’t say I wasn’t nice. I was just hard and very private. I didn’t share anything. I was already living with Duane when my parents met him. I didn’t share things, I didn’t let people know what was going on in my world, my life and especially not in my head or my feelings.  These last few years have softened me. I have become vulnerable and I share everything! hahahaha

I think that the main reason I was like that, is because I am actually VERY sensitive, my feeling get hurt VERY easily and I never wanted people to know that they could get to me. I hate yelling, until Duane got sick we never yelled, not even that dinner was ready. I hate raised voices and I dislike uncomfortable situations. I put up a good front, I had a very hard shell. After everything I have experienced I can no longer do that. I’m not capable of hiding my feelings. I just can’t.

Last night at clinical a girl, who I thought was my school “friend” lied about me and spread the lie to the other students. She said I said something to her I NEVER would have said, she said I told her she couldn’t help her patient and that I said I was taking the patient. (Short version). I heard the rumor at the end of the night. I was so upset. I corrected the story with the 2 girls who shared it with me. I drove home, called my parents and cried. I only sleep 2.5 hours, I so upset over this.

I know it’s not a big deal. I know I should get over it, but I can’t. I don’t operate that way anymore. I don’t understand why someone would blatantly lie. 24 hours later it’s still bothering me. I know it’s her issue and it’s not me but it seriously bothers me. I’ll be fine, I always am. Clinical is canceled tomorrow (due to the 2nd hurricane of the season) so I have until Tuesday to clear my head and move past this.

I need to meditate and sleep. That’s my plan.

Why can’t we all just get along? hahahahaha

– xoxo Victoria