My Mom Had A Stroke (Actually, She Had Two)

The last seven days have been the most terrifying of my life. Mom flew in one day after I did, and when she arrived I told her that we needed to go to the Emergency Room. The right side of her face was droopy, and she was having a hard time saying her words. She refused to go.

She lost her job (and healthcare benefits last year) and has looked all over to find work. She’s approaching her mid-sixties, and even with her incredible work background and education she hasn’t found work. She was willing to do things way beneath her level of expertise, but she lives in a very small, oppressive area where life has been hard over the last year.

My mom carries the stress of her family on her shoulders. She’s the strongest person I know, but she’s tired. My aunt Debbie has been incredibly sick for over a year, and before that her granddaughter was fighting cancer. Mom cares about them and worries about them. She’s been under a lot of pressure, though who knows if that’s why she had the stroke?

A couple days after refusing to go to the ER, my aunt called me and urged me to convince her. I left work knowing that Mom would protest, but this time she didn’t. She knew things were getting worse, so I met her at the ER.

The next several days were rough. My sister caught the next flight out when I texted her that Mom’s CT scan showed that he did, in fact, have a stroke. (Mom assumed it was Bell’s Palsy.) She spent that night at her local hospital, and they released her. Before she arrived at home, which is only a few minutes away, my sister brought her back to the ER because she couldn’t lift her arm and leg. She had experienced another stroke.

At that point they sent her to a hospital near my home in New Orleans. She went through several tests, and they confirmed that she had a blog clot in her brain. It’s really small, so the doctor prescribed meds that should dissolve it over the next few weeks.

My sister and I brought her home last night, and she seems much better than she did when she entered the hospital. She had two strokes in one week though, which makes the risk much higher that she’ll have another one over the next few weeks. They gave her a pretty strong dose of medicine, which should (hopefully) counteract that.

I know that God is in complete control of this situation (and that He’s here in spite of my fears.) I just want Mom to be okay, and I am praying and believing that she will be.

My sister goes home tomorrow, which means that I’ll spend as much time with Mom as possible. I’ve missed several days of work, which I wouldn’t change for a minute. I just want to be sure that she’s okay too.

I’ve never been so scared in my life. I wish I could say that I wasn’t worried at all, but I’m human…and I’m trying to have faith. I’ve felt a lot of peace, which seems like enough.

We’ve been surrounded, supported and uplifted by people who love us and were willing to put that love into action this week, and I’m so utterly thankful for that. If you’re a person who prayers please pray for my family, especially for Mom.

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Have You Ever?

Last week I saw similar questions popping up on my Facebook feed. I think this is too much to answer there, but it’s perfect for FMM. I tried to create some variations, and I’m looking forward to seeing your answers.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Have You Ever?

 

Fired a Gun? Yes
Gone on a blind date? Yes
Skipped school? Yes
Watched someone give birth? No
Watched someone die? Yes
Visited Hawaii? No
Visited Europe? Yes
Visited Las Vegas? Yes
Visited Washington? State of D.C.? Either way, yes…
Visited Amsterdam? Yes
Visited Florida? Yes
Visited Mexico? Yes
Visited Australia? No, but I think that would be awesome.
Seen the Grand Canyon in person? No, I think as close as I got was Hoover Dam, which is still an hour or so away.
Been on a cruise? No, but I’d like to change that.
Been in a movie? No
Visited LAX? Yes
Been to New York City? Yep…lived there.
Cried yourself to sleep? Yes
Played in a band? Yes
Used an adult coloring book? Yes
Sung karaoke? Yes. (You can hear me here.)
Gone swimming in the ocean? Yes
Paid for a meal with coins only? I don’t remember, but I know I’ve paid for coffee with coins once or twice.
Made prank phone calls? I’m sure I did, but I can’t remember a particular instance.
Laughed so much you cried? Yes
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes
Had children? No
Had a pet? Yes
Been skinny dipping? I’m not telling…
Repelled down a building/tower? No, but it’s on my list of things to do someday before I leave New Orleans (maybe.)
Gone zip lining? Yes
Been water skiing? Yes
Been camping in a tent? No, at least not that I can recall.
Driven a motorcycle? No
Jumped out of a plane? No way…
Gone to a drive-in movie? Yes
Done something that could have killed you? Probably so…
Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life? I’ve done many regretful things, but  there’s a lot of freedom in letting go. I try to do that, but my honest answer is yes.
Ridden on an elephant? Yes
Ridden on a camel? No.
Eaten just cookies, cake or ice cream for dinner? Uh, yes…
Been on TV? Yes
Been in a newspaper? Yes
Stolen any traffic signs? No
Been in a car accident? Yes, thankfully minor…
Stayed in a hospital? Yes
Donated blood? Yes
Had to pay a fine of some kind in the past 12 months? Yep
Eaten snails? Yes
Gotten a piercing? Yes
Gotten a tattoo? No way, man…
Driven a standard car? Yes. I had to learn to drive a stick before I was allowed to drive an automatic.
Ever owned your dream car?  Yes
Been married? No
Been divorced? No
Fallen in love? Yeah…
Paid for a strangers meal? If I did I wouldn’t say so…
Driven over 100mph? Yes
Worked in a pub? No
Found a dead body? Yes
Lived on your own? Yes
Ridden in the back of a police car? No
Written or published a book/story/poem/song? Yes

Now it’s your turn to answer next week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments!

Happy Monday!

My Life and Work in SHAPE Magazine

When I got to work today I learned that SHAPE Magazine posted an article about where I work, why I love it and how I see myself these days, and I’m sharing it here because it feels like a good update on my life.

kenlie-tiggman

Check it out, and share your gym stories and/or what you’re doing to promote a healthy lifestyle for yourself.

http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/success-stories/im-300-pounds-and-i-found-my-dream-job%E2%80%94-fitness

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: All About Family

This week’s FMM is coming to you from Colorado! I came out to celebrate my niece’s 7th birthday, and, as always, we had a great time together.

Auntie auntie and h

The theme of her party was the “Wizard of Oz,” so I baked ruby slipper cookies. We played games and ran around in the snow, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them over the summer.

wizard of oz cookies ruby slipper

snow feet

This long weekend was all about family for me, so naturally, FMM is going to be all about family too.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

All About Family

1. How many siblings do you have? Tell us about them. I have one sister. She’s a teacher, and she’s married to a cool guy. They have two daughters, who just happen to be my favorite little people in the world.
2. Do you have kids? If so, how many? Nope, but I have two awesome nieces. I adore them!
3. Share one thing you love about each of your parents. My mom would do anything for me, and she requires nothing in return…ever. Dad and I don’t always agree politically, but it’s a lot of fun to talk about it with them.
4. How close do you live to your nearest relative? I live about an hour and a half from my mom, which is awesome.
5. Does your family have any particular traditions that you’d hate to miss? If so, what are they? I just enjoy being around my family, so I take every opportunity I can to spend time with them.
6. Share an odd fact about your childhood. When I was really young we lived in Louisiana, but I didn’t grow up there. We traveled across Lake Pontchartrain to visit family, and for a while I had a recurring dream about trees quickly growing up from the water and snakes dangling from them. I also thought the lake was loaded with sharks.
7. Did you have pets when you were growing up? Do you have any now? If so, tell us about them. I had kittens, and I even had a dog once as a kid. I’d love to have another cocker spaniel, but my home and lifestyle just aren’t conducive to it. Many people around me do it, but I plan to wait until I no longer live in a high-rise building.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and leave your link in the comments!

Happy Monday!

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Spring is Here

It was nice to reconnect with a few old friends last week, and it was also fun to connect with a couple of new people. That’s what I love about Friend Makin’ Mondays, and I hope you guys will hang with me as we continue to grow together again.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Spring is Here

  1. What city do you currently live in? New Orleans, LA
  2. What’s the weather like where you are? It’s perfect right now. Of course it could always rain tomorrow. 😉 Seriously though, it’s been gorgeous (70’s and breezy.) I wish it was this beautiful all year!
  3. When you eat at a restaurant do you prefer to eat inside or outside? At this time of year I don’t mind eating outside, but when it gets hotter I usually prefer the a/c.
  4. What is your favorite season? It was always Winter until I moved to New Orleans. Now I think early Spring is my favorite here (even though I still love Winter most.)
  5. When you go on vacation do you prefer the beach or the mountains? It depends. I always love a beach vacation, but I love spending time with my family at their home in the Rockies.
  6. What do you like most about Spring? The beautiful temperatures, blue skies and baseball season. I loved baseball more before I lived in New Orleans too, but I still catch a game here and there.
  7. Share one of the greatest moments of Spring from your childhood. When I was 5 years old (maybe younger) I found the golden egg at an Easter egg hunt, and I still have the trophy I won. Ha
  8. Do you prefer to wear shorts, capris or dresses at this time of year? Or do you prefer something else? This lady does not wear shorts. I wouldn’t be opposed to some brightly colored bermudas if I could find them, but I’m most comfortable in dresses. They make me look put together, and they’re usually comfortable too.
  9. What do you miss about Winter? Snow…We don’t really have Winter here in New Orleans, but I travel enough that I get to enjoy snow from time to time.
  10. What do you look forward to about Summer? Swimming!

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and share you link in the comments! Also remember to take a few minutes to comment on posts that others share.

Happy Monday, Friends!

 

 

Netflix, Hulu, or ?

I’ve been going back and forth about getting rid of cable. I turned it off for a week last month, and it was great to be free of the distraction for the most part.

Years ago I got into a bad habit of leaving CNN on mute all day. When I worked from home I had a 24 hour news cycle filtering through my living space, and when I ended that in 2014, I felt much happier overall.

It’s hard to turn away from the news now. I don’t talk about politics much here, but if you know me at all, you know how important politics is to my day-to-day life…err, how important it was.

When I started having dreams about crunching poll numbers I knew it was time to make a change again. I signed up for Netflix because I wanted to watch Fuller House with Mom when she visited. I was also ready for Season 4 of House of Cards, but it’s just not my thing anymore. I also watched Jane the Virgin, which is hilarious…at least what I’ve seen so far.

Now, as i think about eliminating cable for a while, I wonder if I should sign up for Hulu as well. I could catch new shows that way, while eliminating the 24/7 news cycle. Apparently, I’m not strong enough turn away from it. I still get sucked into every debate, every town hall on both sides of the aisle (even though I can predict almost everything they’ll say.)

Do you use Netflix or Hulu? If so, would you recommend it? Do you have an alternate recommendation?

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: The Basics

Once upon a time I hosted a weekly blog party called “Friend Makin’ Mondays.” The idea was to get to know each other and support each other by reading and commenting on our posts. Does anyone reading now remember when we did this?

It’s been a long time since my blog was an everyday place for me, but I miss those connections. I  miss the friends I made in the blogosphere, so I’m going to bring it back for a while. If you want to join, just copy and paste the next paragraph along with the questions and answers, then link back here so we can all connect.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

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Friend Makin’ Mondays: The Basics

  1. How often do you make your bed? I make it everyday as a general rule. I do make exceptions  a few times a year, usually when I’m not feeling well.
  2. What are you currently reading? Well, there are a few books on my iPad that I keep meaning to read, but I do read the Bible most days. I read through it last year, and I’m doing it again. I like reading it because it familiarizes me with God’s character over and over.
  3. Do you go to bed at a certain time? If so, what time? I’ve gotten pretty good at going to bed around midnight, and some nights I sleep even earlier than that. That’s a huge accomplishment for this recovering night owl.
  4. What are your favorite TV shows currently? Suits is still one of my favorites. I also love Younger on TV Land. I still watch Scandal, but I find myself wondering why each week.
  5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten lately? I guess I’d have to say crawfish. It’s not considered weird here in New Orleans, but it’s not common in the other places I’ve lived.
  6. Do you have any trips planned? If so, where are you going next? My next trip will probably be to Colorado. It’s been several months since I was last there, and I miss my family big time! I also have a few local-ish trips in the works. The next one will probably be Pensacola.
  7. How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? If you’re not a coffee drinker, what you do prefer? I’ve never been a morning coffee drinker, but I started drinking a cup or two a day when I arrived at work. I went a few weeks without drinking it at all, but I had one big cup of iced coffee over the weekend. I got a punch card at Dunkin’ Donuts that gives me a free coffee every Monday in April, so who am I kidding? I’m totally having it today too.
  8. It’s Saturday night, and you decided to stay in? What do you do to entertain yourself? (We’re talking hobbies, interests, etc.) If I’m alone I like to spend that time reading, singing and/or painting my nails. I did those things over the weekend.
  9. When you give a gift do you wrap it, or do you put it in a gift bag? I typically gift wrap. I l only bag if I’m in a hurry because bagging it makes it look like you were in a hurry. To each their own, but for me, no…just no…
  10. Share one thing from last week that made you smile? I could list several different things here, but I’ll share one about my boss. He couldn’t be more handsome and charming, and after lunch with my colleagues I had to walk to my car in the rain. My umbrella had broken on my way in, and he knew it. On our way out he walked me to go my car, and he got soaked so I’d stay dry under his umbrella. He’s a great boss, but moments like that remind me that he’s also a just a great person.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments. Let’s see if we can get this going again because I’d love to have blogs to read and friends to catch up with in the blogosphere again.

Until next week…

 

An Open Letter to Chris McClarney: Thank You

I wrote this intending to send it as an email, but when I didn’t find one I decided to post it here. I’m thankful for the music and lyrics and how it will forever remain in my mind now. I don’t know if Chris will ever see it or not, but I had to let it all out.

Dear Chris,

Last Saturday was an emotional day for my family and me, and your song, “God of Miracles” played a powerful role in it. A dear family friend, Charlene, went on to meet Jesus a week ago, but my mom and I spent her last moments in this life with her first.

She had been sick for several months, but I didn’t realize how ill she was until she chose to move into a Hospice facility in New Orleans last Friday.
Charlene was an amazing woman of God, and several years ago while I was steeped in sin, shame and bitterness, she told me that God had a plan for my life. I scoffed at her with condescension as she said, “He’s never going to stop pursuing you, and I’m never going to stop praying for you.”

A few years after that conversation, I realized for the first time (even though I grew up as a pastor’s kid) that I’d never be able to earn salvation; it was God’s free gift for me, and I didn’t have to work for it. I simply had to accept it. That realization changed my life, and as a result of my relationship with Jesus I’ve surrendered the anger, self-loathing and bitterness that I carried for far too long.

Now, as a worship leader at NOLA Church, a place I swore I’d never go to when I was initially invited, I listen to a lot of amazing music, and our bass player added “God of Miracles” to my playlist a few months ago. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times since I first heard it, but it helped shape my view of death and eternity over the weekend.

When we arrived at Charlene’s bedside my mom sang one of her favorite songs, “He Touched Me.” (We always sang when we were together.) I thought she’d ask me to follow up with a different Southern Gospel tune, but instead she said, “sing the song you were playing on repeat in the car.”

Charlene was on morphine to ease her pain, so I assumed she wouldn’t know what we were singing anyway. In spite of that I sang the song a cappella, struggling to get through it without breaking down. At the same time Charlene began to lift her hands, and though she had not been responsive before that, her sister asked her to give us a thumbs up if she knew we were there and wanted me to continue the song. She gave a feeble, yet distinctive thumbs up, and at that moment I realized that the Holy Spirit was empowering me to walk with her through the painful moments shortly before all of her pain would cease. By the second verse, the four of us in the room, knew that God’s presence was there and filling in what would be the last few minutes of her life.

“Let faith arise, and see the kingdom come, I lift my eyes, for the battle has been won. My God is faithful, and every single word He says is true.”

As I sang those lyrics I thanked God for His mercy and comfort and for the example of unwavering faith that I saw first hand as my precious friend went on to see Jesus.

Today I sang at her memorial. I woke up heavy hearted, knowing that we’d all be saying goodbye to her a few hours later, but what happened instead was a celebration of her life and her choice to live her life fully surrendered to Jesus.

family

“God of Miracles” is the last song that she heard before moving on into God’s glory, and I’m forever thankful that I was able to worship through her last moments with her, filled with the promises and truths that exist in those lyrics.
Thank you, Chris…

Sincerely,

Kenlie

Chivalry Isn’t Dead; We Just Don’t Appreciate It

If you know me you probably know that I consider myself to be pretty independent and self-sufficient. I’ve traveled around the world (with others at times and alone at times,) and I’m not afraid to step out of my comfort zone. I’m a well-educated professional who enjoys my work. I live alone, and I’ve become fairly handy inside my little home. I can lift heavy things, put furniture together and fix little issues when they arise, and regardless of the number of grocery bags I bring home, I make one trip from my parking garage to my apartment.

I’m strong and capable, yet I still love it when a man opens the door for me. Yesterday at Starbucks, the man I used to vaguely mention here, carried my heavy backpack to my car before we parted ways. Sure, I can carry the bag myself, but he has offered to carry it to my car as long as I’ve known him (for over a year now,) and I like it.

I’m attracted to the kind of man who comes to hook up the Xbox in my living room because it’s a good excuse to spend time with me. Sure, I could have hooked it up myself, but there’s something so sexy about a man who wants to take care of things like that for me. I also think it’s absolutely hot when a guy checks my tires and knows which ones need to be replaced asap. (Thanks, hot guy.)

Yesterday a woman who, no doubt, considered herself to be much stronger and more capable than I, made a comment under her breath about how women like me set us all back. Seriously? We all have the same right to our opinions, but it’s clear that this stranger and I look at this issue differently.

The man who carried my bag yesterday didn’t do it because he thought I couldn’t. He did it out of respect for me. He carried it affectionately, and I received it because I believe I’m worthy of that respect. Does that mean I go around demanding that men open doors for me or carry heavy things? Of course not…It means that when I man treats me with respect, I appreciate it.

I believe that women should be paid as much as men when their work is equally good. I also believe that women have a right to preferences within the confines of their relationships. It’s just hard to believe that there are women who think that men who behave like gentlemen are jerks. (I know it’s true, but it’s been a long time since I saw such a vitriolic response in real life.)

I do my best to respect others, so I didn’t feel the need to say something snarky to the disgruntled woman. I didn’t say anything at all. Instead I spent a few minutes thinking about the different reasons a woman might feel so strongly about this issue. Maybe someone hurt her, or maybe no one has ever shown her appreciation. Maybe she feels like she has something to prove, or maybe she was simply having a bad day.

I’ll never know why she had such a problem with the man’s desire to treat me well, but I do know that I’ll continue to enjoy it. Whether a man is carrying a heavy bag for me, opening a door for me or pulling out a chair for me at a restaurant, I’ll like it. Like most people, I enjoy feeling cared for and valued, and that’s not likely to change.

Am I the only one who likes being treated this way by a man? Does anyone else feel offended when a man holds the door open for you, etc? If so, will you explain why?

 

Okay, Let’s Talk About Richard Simmons

It’s been quiet around here lately, but I don’t think I can stay quiet about Richard Simmons any longer. I had mixed feelings about discussing him here, so I just didn’t. Thinking of him makes my heart swell with sadness, but after the media reports that surfaced last week I think it’s time speak up.

Richard went into hiding, or something two years ago, and I miss the man I’ve adored most of my life. Even as a kid, before I thought of myself as overweight/plus-sized, I admired him because of his love for people. And many years later, when I wrote him an open letter on my blog, his response was prompt and overwhelming. I never thought that the larger-than-life fitness icon would care that I wrote him a letter, so I was blown away when I received the first of many emails only a few days later.

At the time I was at the top of my weight-loss game, but everything slowly began to crumble when the pesky airline made me feel like I was as worthless as they thought I was. Regardless, I got on a plane and flew to Los Angeles to take a class with him at Slimmons, and those workouts were among the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. (It was so cool, in fact, that I thought it was a good idea to move to Beverly Hills just to be close enough to exercise with him regularly, so I did.)

Richard Simmons

Richard made me feel like anything was possible, but even more importantly, he made me feel like I was lovable just like I was. (I hadn’t discovered that yet.)

Richard Simmons and Kenlie at Slimmons

When he went into seclusion he stopped emailing people he communicated with regularly (myself included.) At first, I wondered if I had unknowingly offended him. I wondered if he had given up on me since I was struggling with my weight again, but several months later I learned that it wasn’t me at all.

There was a sign at his studio saying that he’d be back next month, which became the next month and the next month…I soon learned that he stopped responding to my friends like KeepItUpDavid, who were in constant contact with him as well, and months later no one had heard anything from him.

Richard SImmons and KeepItUpDavid and Kenlie

TMZ reached out to my at one point last year, but I refused to talk. The Today Show used footage from when I worked out at Slimmons for the first time to tell viewers that Richard had resurfaced, but that wasn’t true either.

Richard Simmons Kenlie Today Show

There’s been radio silence from Richard until last week when he called in for an interview with Today. It was such a relief to hear his voice that I shed tears for a moment at my desk. At the same time I was sad to hear his quiet, almost calculated words. He sounded sad, which made me sad.

I don’t know what he’s going through. (I have some theories, but I won’t be elaborating on them.) He has the right to live his life privately if that’s what he wants to do.  I just want him to be happy, and I hope he knows that no matter what, I love him, I’m praying for him, I miss him, and I hope I see his face again someday.