Skip to main content

Month: November 2017

Airport Encounters

Holidays and airports. Two words that are often followed by inescapable dread. Lines are long, flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, and people are at their crankiest.


It was the day before Thanksgiving: one of the worst travel days of the year. As I sat in the College Station airport four-years ago, waiting to board a shuttle to Houston’s Hobby airport, a sweet woman approached me.


“Excuse me, are you waiting for the shuttle to Houston?”


I responded with “yes” and scooted over to make room for her to sit down.


As we chatted about our holiday travel plans, we realized that both of our flights weren’t until that evening. We were stuck with early shuttle spots since the later times had filled up, which meant we had about 4 hours to kill once we arrived in Houston—not exactly ideal, especially if you’ve ever been to Hobby airport.


Once we arrived at the airport and survived security, we checked our gates and realized that they were located right next to each other.


And BOTH of our flights were delayed the same amount of time.


Accepting our extended stay at the airport, we decided to grab dinner together—that is if you consider chocolate milkshakes and fries dinner.


During our meal, we continued to share a little bit of our lives with one another. She told stories of her precious family and the battles they were facing. We bonded over mutual struggles, fears, and French fries.


We quickly realized that despite our 40-year age gap, our stories—both the good and the bad—were the same. The main difference: timing.


My family experienced similar trauma years before, and her family was currently in the thick of it.


Before meeting this sweet woman, I had never met anyone else who experienced the same situation my family faced. For the first time, I felt like someone understood what we went through.


We both sat there, amazed. Two total strangers. A grandma with a generous heart and a young girl preparing to graduate from college; two opposite spectrums of life, but so perfectly meant to meet.


Thanks to an early shuttle and a delayed flight: An unexpected friendship formed.


Shortly before we boarded our flights, she said, “Yesterday, my daughter-in-law prayed that I would meet someone special on this trip.”


I smiled and said, “God certainly has a way of answering prayers.”


Over the last four years, this woman has remained a steady influence in my life. From graduation to my wedding, she was there for all of it. She was one of the first people I told about my diagnosis, and she continues to be one of the top recipients of my prayer requests.


My sweet friend and her family have become an incredible source of encouragement and love for my husband and me.


Heading back to Florida after a quick trip to Texas a few days ago, I found myself once again sitting in the Houston Hobby airport—thankfully with a much shorter layover this time. I was reminded of our extraordinary meeting and how grateful I am that God so perfectly placed us into each other’s lives.


So, in honor of our 4-year “friendiversary,” I thought I would share our story as a reminder of how God uses frustrating moments as opportunities for blessings.


As we enter this holiday season, I encourage you to move beyond just gratitude for the good things in life. Instead, be thankful for flight delays, extra moments in line and opportunities to smile at a stranger in an airport.


After all, you never know who you’re supposed to meet.


If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!

A New Season

Accepting that something (or someone) is only in your life for a season can be one of the greatest challenges we face. Whether it’s a break-up, the loss of a loved one or even moving to a different state—letting go is never easy.


If you read my post “An Unexpected Interview,” then you already know about my job this last year. And if you read the “About Me,” section then you know that I recently quit that same job.


You may be asking yourself, how could she possibly quit a job that was so conveniently placed in her life? Especially after she experienced so much doubt about finding a job?


Trust me; you’re not alone.


I was asking myself the same questions.


It was no secret when I started working that my real passion was to become a therapist. And thankfully I had a fair amount of counseling opportunities, but the bulk of the job focused on home health and case management.


I knew that eventually, I was going to have to let it go.


But how could I let it go? That job brought me such confidence and security (both financially and emotionally). It helped me to realize my strengths and gave me a purpose during times when I felt I had none.


It even helped my husband—knowing that if something did happen to me while I was receiving treatment, I was always around my doctors.


But initially, that job was not my safety net. In fact, working there was terrifying. It was my first job, and I knew nothing about oncology (other than what I was quickly learning about my health).


I feared that my coworkers would immediately realize that hiring me was a mistake. And I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be surrounded by patients battling brain cancer when I was dealing with my brain tumors.


Over time though, it became my home, which made leaving that much harder.


A few months ago, my husband and I were suddenly surrounded by heartbreak. Within 2-weeks, five people in our lives experienced tragic deaths—from a plane crash to being hit by a train, we were at a loss.


Could life be this fragile?


And if it is, are we doing everything we can to live it to the fullest?


We had already been toying with the idea of taking some time off to travel while I’m still healthy. But until those 2-weeks, we hadn’t taken it seriously. We knew that it would be nice to see the world, but assumed that it could never work.


While in Texas for a funeral, we decided to do the only thing we could…pray. We asked God that if he wanted us to take this leap, we needed Him to figure it out.


So, He did.


It started small, like receiving a guidebook to Portland along with travel accessories from my mother-in-law during our Texas trip.


Next concern on the list: our dog.


As we thanked our sweet friend for watching Rory while we were gone, she followed up our gratitude with the offer to watch Rory “as often as we need, as long as we want, and for free.” (Little did she know we were going to take her suggestion so literally!)


Keep in mind, neither of these women knew about our travel plans. So, travel gear and a free dog sitter may sound small, but the timing of their occurrence was undeniable.


Followed by figuring out our finances and insurance, it seemed like it might be possible for us to take the plunge. When my doctors decided to stop my treatment, we couldn’t ignore it any longer.


It was time.


Next was the hard part: breaking the news to our family, friends, and co-workers.


We knew that some would be supportive, but assumed that most would think we’re crazy (which apparently we are a little bit). We chose our audience strategically and informed the easy ones first. As we made our way down the list, it was finally time to quit our jobs.


Sharing our plan with our loved ones was scary, but telling our employers meant we hit the point of no return.


Once we quit, we couldn’t take it back.


If you know me at all, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a people pleaser. Disappointing people is one of my greatest fears, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was letting everyone down. After all, they so graciously hired me, how could I leave?


Faced with a lesson in letting go, (not only of my fears but also my safety net) I did it. I quit my job.


Despite the love and support I received, I couldn’t help it, I was sad.


That job meant so much to me and brought me so much joy. Letting it go was far from easy. Aside from the apparent comforts working offers, quitting also meant that I was suddenly right back where I started—living a life of complete uncertainty.


My unpredictable health condition was not my choice, but leaving work and traveling was something we decided to do. I had no one to blame but myself.


It’s easier to let go of the bad things. We have no problem throwing away our ripped t-shirt or saying goodbye to the class we hated in college. It’s leaving the good things that feel unnatural to forego that challenge us.


How do we know we’re making the right decision?


We don’t. And we won’t—until we do it.


Sometimes all we can do is hold onto our faith and hope that we’re making the right call. Eventually, we adjust to the new season of our life and the results of our choice.


We realize that we’re right where we belong.


If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!

An Unexpected Interview

Walking into Home Goods with a friend in search of pumpkin candles, I said: “I wish God would just find me the perfect job where it doesn’t matter if I go deaf.”


Knowing that my wish probably wouldn’t come true, I said a quick prayer to myself and continued with our shopping.


A few days later, my husband and I were sitting in the exam room waiting to see my new neuro-oncologist. Through a string of referrals that started with my ENT in Texas, we finally found a local doctor to manage my treatment.


The PA was the first one to come in the room. During her neurological exam, she made sweet small talk, which included: our recent wedding, moving to Florida, and my lack of employment.


Shortly after the PA left the room, she came back, but this time with my neuro-oncologist. He introduced himself and discussed my treatment options with us. Once the risks of treatment were explained and our long list of questions answered, the doctor abruptly switched subjects.


“So, I hear you’re a social worker.”


Somewhat caught off guard, I responded with “yes” and gave a short explanation of the timing of my diagnosis and my current unemployment.


“We just had a social work position approved for our clinic. I think you should apply if you’re interested.”


My jaw dropped. How could he possibly want me to work for him? As much as I wanted to tell him of course, I will ABSOLUTELY apply for the job!


I couldn’t help, but ask: “What if I go deaf?”


He casually responded, “Oh don’t worry, we’ll just adjust the job to make it work for you.”


I was shocked. This doctor hardly knew me. And the part of me that he did know was the part that I thought would make it almost impossible for me to find a job.


Before that day, I was struggling with my self-worth. I kept seeing myself as a risk to hire and assumed that no one would be able to look past my condition. Fresh out of graduate school, I was inexperienced. I would need to take time off frequently for my treatments and…I could go deaf at any moment. There weren’t many benefits to hiring me. At least I didn’t think so at the time.


A few weeks later, the job was mine.


No, it wasn’t a counseling job like I had initially planned, but it was a job. A job where I didn’t have to hide my condition and made my commute to treatment a mere 2-minutes long (depending on how slow the elevator was running).


At this point, I felt like God was just showing off. Not only did He answer my prayer, He moved mountains.


Shortly after starting the job, I met one of the therapists at the cancer center. After a couple of quick conversations, she offered to become my supervisor so that I could start pursuing my counseling license. Again, I was shocked.


Not only did I have a job, which was a miracle in itself, but I was also being handed the opportunity to follow my career dream; something that I had spent the last few months trying to forget.


How was it possible that God was putting so many people in my path that were willing to take a chance on me?


Not only were they giving me a chance, but they were pursuing me because of my condition.


Through my work with patients this last year, I finally started to see in myself what others had already believed. Yes, my condition presented certain challenges to the job, but it also enabled me to empathize with patients on a level that only comes from being an actual patient. Granted patients weren’t aware of my condition, but it allowed me to listen to their fears and frustrations with true understanding.


It taught me that my condition had made me a better social worker.


The connections I made with people, both patients and employees, made my job more than just a job. It gave me a chance to catch my breath while I adjusted to my new life. It helped me to learn how I can use my condition to help others. And it provided me with my Florida family.


I am forever grateful for the individuals who made this last year happen. And I can only hope that one-day, I will have the opportunity to pay it forward and take a chance on someone like myself.


If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!

My Diagnosis

Engaged, earning a master’s degree in social work, and preparing to move to Florida. That was my life on February 28th, 2016.


On February 29th, 2016 (leap day) my perfectly planned life suddenly became a mystery. What I thought was a bad reaction to a medication in the form of sudden hearing loss and vertigo turned into a month of misdiagnosis and fear.


The first ENT thought I had Meniere’s disease and put me on a strict low sodium diet to prevent another vertigo attack. The next ENT told me I had sudden sensorineural hearing loss and said the best way to test his theory—eat a cheeseburger. If it didn’t cause vertigo, then I probably didn’t have Meniere’s disease. So, I ate a cheeseburger. No vertigo.


Neither ENT recommended that I get an MRI.


When I went to my follow-up with the original ENT, he again insisted that I had Meniere’s disease and claimed that it was happening in both of my ears. After a lengthy disagreement with the doctor followed by me sobbing with my fiancé in the car, I decided to ask my step-brother to get me an appointment with a specialist.


Two days later I was sitting in yet another ENT’s office, but this time I had a giant needle injecting steroids into my eardrum in an attempt to bring my hearing back. The doctor also ordered an MRI and blood work and scheduled a follow-up appointment for the next week to get my test results.


That was the first time in weeks that I felt hopeful. Unfortunately, it was short lived.


As I lay in the MRI machine, the technician informed me that she just needed to get one more image and was almost done. A few minutes later, she came back to the speaker and said, “actually I need to take a couple more images.”


That was it. I knew she found something.


As I crawled off the machine, the tech saw the panic in my expression and quickly tried to come up with a reason for having to take the extra images. I wanted to believe her, but couldn’t let it go.


The following week I sat in the exam chair as the doctor pointed to the nose-shaped blobs hugging my brainstem.


Tumors. Two of them. Benign, but still bad.


He said the discovery of these tumors meant that I have a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. As I sat there trying to hold back tears, he gently explained that there is no cure and that my condition will need to be managed with frequent MRI’s and hearing tests. He also said that my hearing loss in my left ear is permanent and eventually I will lose all of my hearing in my right ear.


I will become completely deaf.


I honestly can’t recall how I responded at that point. All I remember is my sweet soon-to-be-mother-in-law holding me while we both cried.


During my 45-minute commute home, I tried not to cry as I challenged God’s plan for my life. I couldn’t believe he let this happen to me—especially during what was supposed to be the happiest time of my life.


Towards the end of my tearful drive, the song Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson came on the radio. That was my first time hearing it, and I couldn’t help but feel like that song was playing specifically for me.


The lyrics were the perfect reminder that I needed and offered me a glimpse of God’s grace at one of my weakest moments.


Now, a year and a half later, I look back on that day and think about the fear I felt. The overwhelming fear of the unknown. Part of me still deeply struggles with that fear, but a bigger part of me can’t help but feel grateful for my condition and the ways that God has used it.


My prayer for this blog is that it will be a message of gratitude and joy. I hope that it will bring a bit of encouragement to those who read it and a lot of light to those who need it.


If you want updates about our travels, subscribe to my blog to receive posts directly to your email. And if you want to keep up with us daily while we travel, follow me on Instagram at beingpositioned or Facebook @beingpositioned!