I love my husband deeply. I loved him before this happened. He is an incredible man. He has “risen to the occasion” beyond anything I could have ever imagined. He takes impeccable care of me and goes to war with anyone he needs to on my behalf (namely the insurance company). He is, as his father has famously said, a combination of Romeo, Hercules, and Jesus to me. I would add Solomon because of his great wisdom. While not perfect, he has dealt with this tragedy in a way that should inspire married people everywhere to stick together when their times get tough.
I am a mother. I have a toddler named James. He has survived this with us. He was 6 months old when the AVM ruptured. He is hilarious and extremely active. He is absolutely adorable and I can say that because he looks nothing like me! (He looks like a mini, lighter-haired version of my husband).
My Injury does not Define me. In fact, I define my injury. I keep pestering my Doctors and Therapists for timelines and they can’t give them to me. They simply do not know. Science says I should not be here, so I don’t totally care what any prognosis would tell me anyway. (But I would still love to know!)
I love a reason to celebrate. I think festivities are so much fun, and I love to party hard! Of course, I don’t mean get drunk and be stupid; I mean truly celebrate the beauty that is all around me and the gift so graciously given to us from the Lord. It’s not the scale or expense of the celebration that matters, but the condition of your heart—elevating the most ordinary little moments to a celebration is often the most meaningful. But if the time is right, a full-on fireworks exploding shindig is pretty great too! As cheesy as it may sound, never wait to celebrate. Tomorrow may not come for you. It almost didn’t for me. Celebrate what you have and where you are TODAY!
Much has been lost physically with me, but everything that matters is fully intact. Half of my cerebellum was removed and I have no sense of balance. I have to walk with a cane or ride in a wheelchair. My right facial nerve was cut and my face is partially paralyzed. I have no fine motor control in my right hand, so I can’t really use it for much. I am deaf in one ear. I have severe double vision. That’s only the beginning of a list of things that are wrong with my body. However, there are literally millimeters separating the part of my brain that could have been affected by my stroke and the part that was. Had the AVM hit another area, I could have lost my memory, my ability to process information, my ability to reason, my faith, or my personality – all the things that make me who I am. My cognition is fully intact. It’s all that matters anyway.
I’m a Big Believer in generosity (I am naturally as thrifty as they come, but still generous towards others — it’s very important), loyalty, manners, follow through, commitment within marriage, gratitude, just showing up, blooming where you’re planted, optimism, preventing is better than treating, keepin’ the Faith, and learning to say “no” more often. (If any of these things seem incongruent to what you know of me, I said I am a big BELIEVER in these things. I don’t always do them, but I’m trying).
I have a great family. Jay and I have 5 sisters between us. All 6 of us girls have unique personalities and we appreciate each other for those differences. I have a sister who is 23 months younger than me and is truly my polar opposite and yet my twin. We could not be more different if we tried but we have similar personalities. Strangely, I get a huge kick out of her and think she is quite possibly the funniest person on the planet. Jay and I have been blessed with the most fun, loving, and supportive families ever. I deeply love the Arnolds and the Wolfs! Where would we be without them?
I love food…especially sweets. I am really passionate about anything that contains sugar. I know, weird. I live in LA and I can admit this. I had a feeding tube for almost a year, and once I could swallow again, I had a large bowl that sat above my refrigerator called the Chocolate Bowl. It was filled with any and all candy (especially chocolate) that I collected in my almost daily trips to Heaven (I mean the grocery store).
I am an optimist. Arguably, this would not be survivable without a good attitude. I have been called ‘Pollyanna’ my whole life. The glass is ALWAYS half full no matter how much life threatens to pour it out.
I’ve Got A Lot of Problems. Just because I had a severe stroke doesn’t mean all the issues I had before that are gone. I am in dysfunctional relationships. I say things I don’t mean and I hurt people I love. I’m a crybaby. I’m impatient. I’m too dramatic. I hold grudges like crazy. I can be mean to the people I love most in the world. I have no desire to be made into a hero by what has happened to me. It is all God’s grace that I have been able to respond the way I have to intense suffering. He should get all the glory, not me.
- I talked in complete paragraphs before I was 2 years old
- I grappled with good versus evil before I could walk. I cried while watching Dumbo and asked my mom why there was evil in the world when they locked up Dumbo’s mother
- I had a baby at age 8. Well, not really. When my mom had my baby sister, I instantly became her 2nd mother. I’ve never stopped mothering those around me. It’s kind of a problem.
- I was the height I am now (5’9 and 1/2) when I was 12 years old (it made for some really awkward middle school dances)
- I got married when I was 22. (Basically a child bride by today’s standards, BUT I LOVED IT AND WOULD DO IT AGAIN IN A HEART BEAT!)
- I had a baby at 25. (I could be a Lifetime special on “Babies Having Babies”, I know)
- I almost died at 26. (even the cause of my stroke was an AVM in my brain that had been there since I was in-utero)
I am a Southerner to the core. I was born and raised in Athens, GA, spent a month each summer at Camp Desoto on top of Lookout Mountain (in GA/TN/AL), went to college in Birmingham, AL, and married a guy from Montgomery, AL. I love the culture of the South – the familial attitude, the kindness towards strangers, the formality of people, the pace of life, but what I really love is the food! I love sweet Tea, biscuits, casseroles, and anything fried. If you have never been to the Smith House in Dahlonega, GA, you really need to go. From the hospitality and charm to the Southern drawls and respect for tradition, the South will always have my heart. I am a Southern belle and always will be.
I hate clothes! Don’t get me wrong, I love to look nice; I just don’t like the process to get the good-looking clothes. Pretty funny I turned out to be a model (the money was just too good!) I detest shopping for clothes, trying them on and I hate accessorizing. Both my mother and my grandmother love clothes and have great taste in clothing, so I think this was my rebellion. I never went through some crazy, wild period in my youth, so this is my revolution to my upbringing.
I love hospitality. I think something Holy happens when you bring people into your home and you have good conversation, fellowship, and share a yummy meal with them. People should do it more often. Stop worrying about how your house looks, and be grateful you have one (many don’t). Love on the people in your life by entertaining them. On top of that, I love anything in the realm of hospitality/refinery; I adore good stationery and writing letters—though my handwriting’s not what it used to be—using the “good china” (it’s not doing anyone any good getting dusty up in the cabinet), listening to great music, enjoying beautiful fresh flowers, and I love a hot cup of French-pressed coffee.
I am Self-Deprecating. People take themselves way too seriously. We all have weird quirks – laugh about them! More than ever, I am grateful for a good sense of humor. You just gotta make lemonade. That’s what this website is: making some tasty lemonade out of some really rotten lemons! Enjoy!