Archive for the ‘i am meant to work with kids’ Tag

and there’s this burning, like there’s always been. i’ve never been so alone; and i’ve, i’ve never felt so alive.   2 comments

Monday, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because I know it’s tough to follow this A*MAY*ZING weekend of mine.  And work, it’s downright impossible to measure up to two adorable kids, Max (22 mos) and Tommy (6 yrs), beautiful friends, and the fabulous Make-A-Wish Foundation.  But still, you could have at least put up some sort of fight today.  Instead you had me feeling nothing but emptiness.  To tell you the truth, after feeling so alive this weekend, the empty feeling hit me even harder.  Maybe that’s not fair to you, but it’s the truth.O

Everybody Needs Inspiration.  And in fact sometimes the ones that require inspiration are those that are known for inspiring others.  I Need Inspiration.  Fortunately I’ve been able to obtain it in the charitable and social aspects of my life; however, as others know (and I’ve shared before on here), it’s been lacking in another part of my life.  Today it was drastically apparent and therefore, I found myself fighting to feel anything (but emptiness). 

Tonight I came home to find the envelope I’m been waiting on for the past month (if not longer) and I’ve spent these last few hours trying to decide what am I going to do.  The one thing I know is where my Inspiration comes from and this opportunity allows me to follow that my passions.  However, the reality of this situation is that it may not be the right choice- which is what my instinct is whispering.  So here I am, trying to figure out how I’m deemed to spend the next 2 years of my life and truthfully I don’t have a clue.  I just want to do what I know I’m meant to do.  Do what I love to do… what makes me feel alive.

The unfortunate part is that I know I’ll struggle with that empty feeling again tomorrow.  And the next day, and the day after that.  But what keeps me going are the opportunities that light me up instead.  These moments that Let Me Be “Me”.

the nanny diaries: my weekend with max   Leave a comment

“Oh, and when you figure out, Love is all that matters after all. It sure makes everything else, seem so small.” 

Carrie Underwood sang these words (to me) and captured my attention today as I rode the bus this morning on my way to our new work office (finally) in downtown Chicago.  I thought of Max.  I missed Max.  But I am so glad that his parents are back in town now because we both missed them soooooo much!! 

Actually that’s a perfect segue into what I want to say first.  Max’s parents, my dear friends, Michelle & Bayard, truly deserve an A*MAY*ZING.  Max is the well-mannered, kind-hearted, adventure-seeking, lovable little boy because of his parents have done such a remarkable job of raising him.  I’ve told them both this and will continue to do so, and my hope is that they really do believe me.  I feel blessed to have all three of them in my life and so grateful that Michelle & Bayard trusted me enough to look after Max this weekend.  They are most certainly family to me, now more than ever.  Seriously, Michelle & Bayard, and little Max too, thank you for welcoming me into your family!  Love you all!

Now, let me officially declare my love for little Max.  While this weekend was a rarity for the Single Girl in the City (aka Yours Truly), I worry that words will not accurately express how special this weekend was for me.  So please be aware that as I type this post, I have a huge smile on my face and a heart filled with gratitude for this experience.

Yesterday, on my final morning with Max, I called my mom and the first words out of my mouth were, “Okay, so you may very well get those grandchildren you’ve always hoped for.”  While all my friends (especially those with kids) joke that this was ‘the best form of birth control’, I must admit that it’s only temporary as I realize that I’m just not ready…yet.  For now I truly believe that my place is to continue my volunteer work and be in my friends’ kids lives.  Who the heck knows what my future holds, but for the first time in my life I really do believe that (my own) children could be a part of it.

This weekend with Max really was incredible, filled with smiles, laughs, hugs & kisses, and lots of running around.  I loved every moment of it!  This was certainly one of those precious times in life when one finds himself/herself perfectly content with where he/she is.  I felt like I was where I needed to be and, honestly, where I wanted to be too.  While we had our share of fun these last few days, my favorite moments with Max were when he let out that cry every morning that translated into “Kristen, I’m awake. Come get me. It’s time to play (and eat) again!”  And play we most certainly did.  With the help of Max’s other girlfriends- Sadie, Stef, Dina, and Lonni- we found ourselves playing A LOT this weekend.

We kept things simple on Friday, staying in other than a quick trip over to see Dina at the MAW staff for some ball playing.  Now staying in with Max means that we played a lot of soccer, ventured around many condo floors, watched many episodes of Mickey’s Clubhouse, and ate (literally) tons of food.  Now if that’s not the perfect Friday date, then I don’t know what is? 

However, Saturday was a completely different story as Max and I found ourselves venturing off to the suburbs to volunteer for Make-A-Wish with Dina and our new friend (another girlfriend of Max), Lonni.  Yes, Max was the Make-A-Wish mascot and hands-down the best looking, most irresistible boy there!!  Seriously, how adorable does he look in this tee-shirt?!   And while he certainly did his fair share of running around, I have to say that Max behaved himself quite nicely.  (Note: He is NOT drinking from that Coca Cola bottle in the photo.  He was just playing with it.)

I have to take the time here to thank Dina & Lonni for playing with us on Saturday.  Max was sooooo happy to flirt with 🙂 and I am so appreciative for their kindness in entertaining my little boo.

After a playdate on Saturday afternoon for Max with his girlfriend, Sadie, and my own lady date with Lonni and Dina, I headed back  to prepare of our slumber party with Stef.  Max was so happy to see his other girlfriend, Stef, and even welcomed her by showing off his Mickey Mouse balloon.  When the exhausted little man went to bed, Stef and I continued our catch-up session with girl talk and a mini-Keeping Up with The Kardashians marathon(because we can). 

Sunday finally came and we were ready to take Max out on a special date: To Shedd Aquarium.  Stef & I were so excited to take him and enjoy quality time with our little boo in one of the best places in Chicago.  Waiting in line outside worried me a bit but Max found it as a(nother) opportunity to play, forcing me to chase him around in circles.  (He’s a man of routine.) 

We finally made our way into the aquarium and Max began enjoyed all of the fishies and sea creatures.  We roamed around exploring the different sections, finally making our way to the sea otters and dolphin areas.  (Note: I could sit by that dolphin tank all day writing, and one day plan to.  It’s so peaceful.) 

Finally we found the penguins (!) and Max LOVED playing in the little play area- riding the slide and climbing through the tunnel.  Although, he sadly wouldn’t humor me by wearing the penguin outfit.  (Michelle, I tried just for you!)  Upon making our way upstairs for the dolphin show, Max got to ride in an elevator (Note: He loves elevators!) with a penguin!

Max enjoyed the dolphin show- and climbing up and down the 2-3 stairs in the aisle- but he was definitely getting tired.  Yep, Nap Time!  Max passed out in the stroller as we trekked back home for a quiet evening in…before Dad got home!  Max and I enjoyed our final date night (at least for now) by simultaneously watching Mickey Mouse (on my laptop) and The Oscars (TV).  He loved clapping along with the audience (!), but was not as happy when his bedtime rolled around.  Neither was I to lose my cuddle buddy; however, I got a surprise at 4 am when Max woke up.  I know he just wanted to make the best of our remaining time together.  Right, Max?  I cuddled with my boo as he watched Mickey on my laptop and I did my best to stay awake.  Fortunately, Bayard (Max’s dad) got home late that night and came to collect his little cub after hearing us around 6 am.  (Thanks again, Bayard.  I love your son tons but that extra sleep was certainly needed.)

Monday, Monday.  I made the Best. Decision. Ever. to take the day off and spend it with Max.  After having morning playdate with his dad, Max and I got ready to spend the day with our friend, Sadie.  The Wonderful Sadie who gave me a few hours of freedom to get myself showered and out of the sweats and run a few errands.  I missed Max but it was nice to remind myself of the actual Single Girl in Chicago lifestyle that I lead. 

After his nap, Sadie & I gathered up our boyfriend to meet Stef for a trip to… The Disney Store!!  We all had so much fun, but not as much as Max.  He literally ran around for an hour grabbing every stuffed Disney characters and bouncing ball within his reach.  He couldn’t have been any cuter, and truthfully, he was very well-behaved as a 1.5 year old could be in his version of a candy store. 

Eventually we had to burst Max’s bubble and head back home to prepare for the return of his parents.  I was so excited for this family’s reunion, as I know his parents missed him as much as he missed them. This is truly a beautiful family- inside & out- and I am honored to know them. 

Between you and me, everything is different now: From the moment my alarm goes off in the morning to the second I finally fall asleep at night.  Max changed me.  He opened my eyes to a new life in this big, bustling, windy city.  He’s calmed my world down; helped me focus more on the little things; and encouraged me to take more time for myself.  He has also inspired me to Be the Best Version of Myself that I Can Be, so that if I do become a mother (one day far, far away) that I Will Be Ready.  And until that fate, if it does happen, then I’ll play the roles that God’s granted upon me: Daughter, Sister, Relative, Friend, Volunteer, Leader, Max’s Girlfriend (lol), and Supporter to All of the Kids & Families I find myself working with.

This post is dedicated to The Elfvin Family: Thank you, Max, Michelle & Bayard for this unbelievable experience and letting me be a part of your lives.  

meet max…the reason I’ve been m.i.a.   Leave a comment

Meet Max.  My Boyfriend.  While it may not be Facebook official- (he’s not a Facebook user-type)- I know that he adores me too.  You should have seen all of the kisses he gave me this evening. 

So without saying too much, mainly because I am E.X.H.A.U.S.T.E.D., this adorable little 1.5 year old is the reason I’ve been M.I.A.  A very good reason, might I add!  I’ve been watching him since Thursday night while his parents- my friends- are out of town until tomorrow.  We’ve had a busy weekend…especially these last two days…but I’ve really enjoyed every moment of it.  This little boy has stolen my heart and I honestly hope he never gives it back. 

I promise I will have many more things to say from my Nanny Diaries, as this weekend has proven to help me see just how beautiful life should always be. 

To quote/paraphrase the final words of Christina Bale’s Supporting Actor Oscar speech, “And for my daughter, who has taught me more things than I could ever teach her.”  I agree, so much so that I found myself with goosebumps upon hearing his words as I cuddled with Max on the couch, with him clapping along with those actually attending the Oscars.  (He loves to clap!)

And for now, my brief final words are these: Thank you, Max.  For reminding me that we should always strive to see life’s preciousness as seen through the eyes of a child.  It’s the little things that matter the most.

michaella & me   Leave a comment

Meet my 7-year old BFF, Michaella.  And look at all of that sugar that she surrounded us with!  My teeth hurt just looking at it.  After a few weeks of making valentines for friends & family members, Michaella hosted a party for her friends- which turned out to be a surprise for me when I came in this afternoon for my volunteer shift.  Since it was a party we thought we should take some photos to remember it by, which also gives us a future arts & crafts project for a photo board of some sort.  Today was another great day with Michaella.  I just feel very fortunate to be a part of her life, and be her friend here while she’s here in Chicago receiving treatment.  She’s from Long Island, NY and we’ve already committed to being Pen Pal when she goes back to NY.  While I don’t want my friend to leave me, I cannot wait until she’s healthy enough to head back home with her mom. 

I’d like to share one last thought as I’m sure Michaella won’t mind me doing so in her post.  This week I’ve been inspired to continue supporting my causes/charity work by another person’s good will and dedication to improving the lives of children, families, and citizens in Haiti.  The A*MAY*ZING work that Sporting Chance Foundation is not only admirable, but is proof that Actions Speak Louder than Words.  We ALL have the Power Inside of Us to Make A Difference, but an idea is nothing until acted upon.  We all have dreams, goals, and aspirations; however, the majority of people do not  step up and take action.  Why not?

Like me, some of you may long to Leave This World a Better Place.  Some of you may long to Inspire Others to Follow their Hearts & Make their Dreams Come True.  So let me ask you, or rather give you the inspiration that you may need: What is holding you back?  After all, dreams are much better when they are Lived Outloud.  (Trust me.)

To learn more about Sporting Chance Foundation, visit http://www.sportingchancefoundation.org/.

i’m not a princess. this ain’t a fairy tale.   Leave a comment

~ Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. ~
 
One of my little BFFs, Michella, asked me yesterday if there was a boy (in my life), to which I gave a blushing “Maybe… Kinda…I don’t know…I hope so” response.  The 7-year old (going on 17) then requested, “Do you have a picture of him on your phone?”  Now who am I to deny a little girl the right to join me in some innocent Facebook stalking, but with my phone locked up in the office downstairs I made the decision to forgo my stalker ways for the afternoon.  “Maybe next week, Michella,” which I have a feeling she’ll hold me to.
 
She then asked me, “Well, is he a soft guy or a hard guy?” 
 
Me: “He’s a soft guy.  It’s impossible not to like him.”
 
Michella: “Good, then you’re going to be together. You just will.
 
Let me reiterate that she Michella is only seven-years old.  Is it not beautiful how children see the world?  So pure, so innocent.  Why does age persuade us to complicate the world when it is best seen with simplicity?  Michella’s optimism makes me See the World the Way it Should Be Seen.  And this, my friends, is one of the reasons why I love working with kids.  They have this power to wipe the cynicism from your worn-out eyes with a single smile.
 
 
 
While it’s refreshing to hear a child’s optimistic point of view, especially on one of life’s precious matters, it may be best to hear the truth from one of your peers- someone who knows all about fantasy vs. reality.  Someone who’s believed in those same dreams & fantasies, and experienced the joys sorrows that real life brings.  Enter Dina.  My dear friend and mentor.  While our life stories have different characters and settings, somehow our personality traits and plots align quite nicely.  So if I have to hear the truth from someone, Dina is definitely the one I choose.   
 
 
 
After reading through her email this morning, which was in response to yesterday’s post, this quote immediately popped into my head: Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all. (Hans Christian Andersen)  To shine light on the reasons why her words touched me today, I’ll share this part now:
 
The key is to believe that it is possible and that you deserve it, and to allow it to happen when you do find it… and make sure that he knows what you are all about when you meet so there are no surprises.
 
 
She said more.  Much more.  But that’s for my eyes only.  Okay I’ll share one more thing, that pertains to all my love confessions for (the fictitious, yet remarkable) Aidan Shaw.  Dina’s truthful words spoke: The difference is that Aidan was an actor…Nittin (her husband) is the real thing.  He deserves the “Aidan” crowning.  He also deserves Dina’a heart. 
   
 
The fact of life, Real Life, is that there aren’t many Aidans in this world.  BUT, thankfully, there are some out there. Aidans are Guardian Angels disguised as humans, walking amongst us trying their best to fit in.  However, they don’t blend in too well.  In fact, they downright Stand Out.  Shine Brightly.  Maybe even Sparkle a bit.  The Lucky Ones catch their eye.  The Worthy Ones are the only ones deserving of Their Love.  It’s neither that Aidans are arrogant nor pompous, but it’s more that they know what they are looking for.  They know they deserve the best and won’t stop until they find Her.  For He Will Be Loved the Way He Deserves to Be Loved. 
  
  
  
I wasn’t quite sure how to end this post, but I think I do now.  Based on my experiences and those I observe, and those love stories that I crave, I’m going to make an assumption: We don’t always recognize a good thing when it’s right in front of us.  Speaking on behalf of myself and the ladies here, we grow up believing in those fairy tales and waiting for the fireworks to literally go off when we find Prince Charming.  But the truth is, Prince Charming isn’t real.  Aidan really is a character played by John Corbett.  But boys like Nittin, Ken, and Nick are out there.  They are real.  They are the guys that we spend our life waiting for.  But sometimes we’re so used to waiting that we don’t always realize when the real thing arrives.  If you have any doubts, just pinch yourself.  Let yourself know that it’s real.  Don’t waste any more time waiting.  Remember that those Aidans don’t come around every day.  If you have one, a real one, then don’t hold yourself back.  I promise you if you don’t make him yours, then someone else will.  ♥

love, save the empty. save me.   2 comments

“I used to have an appetite for my life but now it is gone. I want to go some place where I can marvel at something.”   ~Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat Pray Love”

For reasons unbeknownst to yours truly, my appetite has vanished.  Literally and figuratively.  As far as food goes, all I seem to be desiring lately is coffee (and lots of it), tea, hot apple cider (with chai), soup, and occasionally a Twizzler- or many Twizzlers.  (Twizzlers: My go-to stress-freeing ‘food’, as well as the choice of several of my dearest friends.)  And while usually tempting, that bowl of guacamole at our table on New Year’s Eve didn’t even appeal (much) to me.  Psychoanalysis welcomed.  Any relevance here?  Stress-related?

Seriously, what gives?  Where did my appetite for food disappear to?  And more importantly, where has my appetite for life gone? 

 

This morning on my way to the train I found myself lost in thought while waiting to cross at the infamous (and typically frantic) Clark/Broadway/Diversey intersection.  Instead of being surrounded by misguided tourists with shopping bags; cell phone- holding parents balancing babies, dogs, and coffee cups; dancing, paper-selling homeless men; and, every now and then, the crazy “Preacher”… the only thing I witnessed was the bitter Chicago winter air stinging my skin.   Other than that, I felt nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I thought, How can I be here in this huge city, surrounded by inspiration- muses and crazies…lots of crazies- and not be moved by any of it? 

The light changed…and so did my mood.  Walking through the streets, I stumbled upon a memory from last night.  My empty self was soon full as I recalled the words that were spoken to me.  Spoken by a stranger.  Someone who didn’t know me.  But someone who saw something in me.  Someone who believed in me.

“You would make a fantastic nurse.” 

He spoke so softly with a kind voice.  Like a message from God.  He didn’t know me.  And for all I know, that was the first time he’d ever seen me.  The first time he ever saw me interact with a patient during my volunteer shift.  But I saw him come into the room to empty my 2-year old patient’s trash.  I didn’t hear him say anything in the room.  I doubt he said a word.  But he heard me.  He heard me talking to my little boy.  Playfully flirting with him to get this sick little boy to crack a smile or, preferably, stick his tiny tongue out at my silliness. 

But this stranger, My Messenger from God, did not have to say anything.  But he did.  I’m so glad he did.  He could have continued with his work as I washed my hands on the other side of the room.  He could have walked right past me and said nothing.  But he chose to do more.  He made the choice to say these kind words to me.  Words that filled my heart.  Words that I’ll never forget as they reminded me what my appetite for life is.  Simple words that are more meaningful to me than (other) words could explain.

 Although I thought about it, I decided to forgo mentioning my desire to become a Child Life Specialist after, what I hoped to be, a very sincere “Thank You” filled with gratitude.  I thought about it, but chose to enjoy this moment of contentment and understanding instead.  After all, sometimes Silence is the best response one can give.   

If I had to choose one word to describe me/my life, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Attraversiamo from Eat Pray Love, mine would probably have to be one of two words: Journey. (for obvious reasons) or Patience.  As my mom’s email read today, “Good things come to those who wait.”  Whether or not my tired mind believes that statement right  now, it is the truth.  Or at least something that we must believe to be true.  Patience is definitely a weakness of mine, but life has certainly tested my patience many, many times.  And while I’m still far from claiming my Pro jersey, I’ll say that if you truly want something…really want something…then you have no choice but to be patient.  I won’t lie and tell you that it’s easy.  Because it’s not.  And I’ll be honest and admit that there will be days when you want to give up.  I’ve had my fair share of those and plan on seeing some more in my future.  However, no matter what obstacle may be thrown in your way, when you truly believe in something then you’ll let nothing come between you and your object of desire (goal).  You will always find a way to get around it.

If you want me to be honest & blunt right now, I will.  I will tell you that these past 2.5 years (which adds up to all of my days as a Chicago resident) have been a struggle.  The reason I moved here, my leap of faith, immediately proved to be a disappointment.  It was nothing that I thought it was going to be and everything that isn’t me.  I’ve struggled to get up in the morning and drag myself for the 1-1.5 hour morning commute, and, while I hate to admit it, I tend to feel “empty” for at least 8 hours a day.  While it’s everything I”m not and nothing of what I want, I continue to do it. Why?  Because I have to…until I don’t have to anymore. 

Please don’t feel sorry for me.  I don’t…anymore.  I won’t lie, that whole first year, maybe even 1.5 years, was dreadful.  But discovering my passion- what fills my empty soul- things have gotten much better.  I know what I’m good at; what makes me “me”; where I belong; and what I love to do.  Finally figuring that out is why I forbid you to feel sorry for me. 

Sure, I’m not there yet.  I’m not completely full yet.  And truthfully, I may never be.  But I’m being patient, and more importantly, I’m not giving up.  Because once you find what fills you, what makes you feel alive, then you just have to put all hands on deck and go for it.  Never give up.  Don’t you ever give up.

 Song of the Moment: Love, Save the Empty by Erin McCarley & Lovesick Mistake by Erin McCarley

you make me want to believe, again.   Leave a comment

So…yeah…I’ve never really liked Christmas.  I know, I know.  I should expect a lump of coal in my stocking for admitting that, but it’s the truth.  I’d try to explain myself, though figure it’s best not to out of fear that you’ll start calling me The Grinch.  When this phenomenon began is a mystery to me.  Maybe I need to be visited by my Ghosts of Christmas Pasts to uncover the defining moment that left me wishing that I could hibernate through December instead of having panic attacks in departments stores as *NSYNC and Britney Spears’ holiday tunes blasted over the fa-fa-la-la-las of frantic shoppers at Ross Park Mall. 

But things are different this year.  Noticeably different.  Perhaps my heart grew this holiday season.  Or maybe I overcame my allergy to green & red color patterns, allowing me to embrace this thing known as Christmas spirit.  Whatever it is, I like it.  Several times during these last few weeks I’ve found myself walking down the street smiling at holiday lights, tapping along to covers of Last Christmas and wishing kids a “Merry Christmas” after asking them what they asked Santa for.  You know, that last part is the reason why I find myself jolly this year: The Kids.  The real reason for celebrating Christmas.  And the reason I’m writing tonight.  This evening, I dedicated my time to a cup of tea and a pile of Dear Santa letters that I collected for Make-A-Wish as part of Macy’s Believe CampaignI’ve been collecting these letters from the Macy’s near my office since early November and since then I’ve been looking forward to spending a night going through them.  With my plane ride back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning and Christmas a few days away (Seriously?), I reasoned that tonight had to be the night to get my Dear Santa reading on.  Unless I wanted to drag them back to Pittsburgh with me, tonight is the only night since I need to make sure these get to the North Pole in time.

So what are kids these days asking Santa for?  A majority of the letters requested the typical gifts of dolls, clothes, puppies, video games- as well as the occasional winning lottery ticket.  However, I found myself touched by several untraditional letters that asked for those items that money cannot buy:

“To be Happy.”     “A Cure for Cancer.”     “I wish you give me a Scholarship when I’m Going to College someday.”     “What I want for Christmas is number 1) My Family to be Happy Healthy in their lives.”     “Hope.”     “I want to find friends.”     “Please bring me a New Daddy.”     “I want No more sick babies.”     “My Family to be Drug-Free.”     “I wish to have My Brother Back.  He as killed in Iraq.”     “I want World Peace and Great Health!”     “Make My Children Happy.”     “I want Kids who have Nothing to have Toys this year.”     “Please bring my Boyfriend Back from Afghanistan and His Younger Brother too.”     “No more Hatred among races…and Love Love Love.”

So many Dear Santa letters were about written about L.O.V.E.– including a few that  requested specific boyfriend qualities:

“I would really like a nice boyfriend that actually likes me.”

“I want a really hot boyfriend with long hair.”

“I would love a good boyfriend.” 

“I would really like a boyfriend someone sweet and hot.”

“I want my sister to find a rich, handsome, and successful husband.”

Several thoughts ran through my mind as I read these letters, which probably doesn’t surprise any of you who know that I tend to think a lot…maybe too much.  The first is my wish that I could grant some, if not all, of these Dear Santa letters- especially the ones that selflessly asked to bring happiness into the lives of others.  And secondly, I Wish I Could Believe Like A Child Again. 

Believe in Santa.  Believe in the Christmas Spirit.  Believe that World Peace is Possible.  Believe in Love as Optimistically as a Child. 

Being surrounded by kids, I have to say that I am believing more than I have in a while, especially in the latter.  As our childhood days sink further and further into our past memories, our definition of love loses the innocence and fantasy that we once only knew.  But if we believe, really let ourselves believe, maybe we can find the love we once knew.