Thursday, December 20, 2012

The one where she says "oh. my. gosh." (or Part 2)

Hi, again.

I'm currently in route to Phoenix, Arizona where my friend Helen will be picking me up from the airport before transferring me to my sister Lisa for the 5 days.

It's now been three weeks since the fire.

The phrase "oh. my. gosh." has been the most used phrase to come out of my mouth.

For a lot of reasons.

But mostly. Because I've been stunned by the generosity and support by so many people near and dear to my heart.....But also- by people I have NEVER EVEN MET.

Many of you already know, but my friend Laura set up a donation page within hours of hearing about the fire.

I was swamped at the conference and didn't even realize what was happening until later that night. When I finally got around to seeing messages, I saw that within several hours- $2,500 had already been raised. I was FLOORED.

At the same time I was looking at the devastating pictures, I was seeing money come in.

There was not even a chance to grieve. God had already begun replacing what was lost.

The next morning I woke up and the number had doubled.

By the time I went to bed that night- $9000 had been donated.

Laura, thank you for taking such quick action and making this happen. You are near and dear to my heart.

On top of that, calls, texts, emails were coming through from people offering different ways to support.

I just kept saying "oh. my. gosh." I didn't know what else to say!

Now that I'm 3 weeks out, I finally have found a few more words to utter. And that would be either "wow" or "holy cow!"  :-)

If you gave anonymously, please know that my heart is overwhelmed by your generosity. I don't know who you are or what you gave- but I know that your generosity has not gone unnoticed.

If you gave and your name showed up- please know EACH name I saw made my heart melt a little bit more. So many of you that I know and love have overwhelmed me.

If you have given to me personally through checks or gift cards....You are helping meet my immediate needs and I am SO grateful.

If you called and left messages on my voicemail- I have saved them. Actually went back and listened to them all again yesterday and tears came to my eyes. Hearing your voice, your concern, and your prayers is still comforting today!

To those of you who have started replacing items from my kitchen that you know are near and dear to my heart- I smile. I really do break out into a huge grin when I think about what you have given. :-)

To my coworkers who have dealt with me day in and out as I've processed....You are gems. Your generosity, kindness, friendship, and most importantly: hugs!! have been MUCH appreciated on a daily basis. For the brush, the pedicure, the gift certificate for a massage, the Starbucks drinks, the diet dr. peppers, the giftcards.  I truly work with the best team.

Wade and Cynthia: Thanks for going through the ashes. I am so grateful you and your family were called to Tallahassee last year. The support and encouragement you and Emerge church have been to me has been such a blessing. :-)

Carl and Jennifer. "Uncle" Carl. The two of you have sacrificed so much time for me. So much space in your garage and kitchen. :-) There are not a lot of people that I would have called at 5am, but Carl, I knew without a doubt you would do whatever was needed. When I got the first initial call- you were the one I called first and knew you could be my eyes/ears in Tallahassee for me while I was in DC. Jennifer- washing my clothes OVER AND OVER trying to remove the smoke smell. Washing my dishes and coffee cups. The soot you had to deal with. I know it was a HUGE sacrifice for both of you. And my heart is grateful to not only know you- but to officially call you 'family.' :-)

To my family. I just can't get over how blessed I am to call you my family. To my aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents. Your calls/messages/support is a reminder that God couldn't have put me in a better family. Aunt Mary- for driving down to Tallahassee on a moments notice to be with me, knowing I would need family by my side. Lisa. Caralyn. You two are THE world's best sisters and I am so honored that you would rally your friends and coworkers to help support me. I can't even get over it.  Mom: 5 more days until I get to hug you. That's all. And Dad: :-) I knew you were getting tired of helping your girls guess what! That washer and dryer will never have to go up a flight of stairs ever again! ;-) But seriously. Thanks for playing the middle man for me while I couldn't communicate myself.

And last, but not least. To the entire Emhof family who has taken me in and let me live in their house for the past few weeks. Your hospitality has meant more to me than you will know. Many people could have offered me a roof over my head- but you have offered me a home and family during this time when mine was so far away.

My heart is full this Christmas.

I am blessed with friendships that are beyond compare.

**I also recognize there are PLENTY of you who I could have called out by name- but know you'll be hearing more from me.**

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The one with the intermission

I want to post Part 2 but I don't feel that it is even finished being lived out yet.  I sit here at the computer and it's still too fresh.

I'll come back to part 2 later.

In the meantime, I DO want to share photos with you from my time in DC and NYC. Here are a few from the summit with coworkers:

There are PLENTY more where these came from, but I'll post them later.n But I must add here- I work with the best group of people. I am so grateful this team was around me when I heard the news of the fire.

After hearing the news, they supported me, let me cry on their shoulders (and into our walkie talkie's....which I didn't know was happening...oops!), brought me froufrou drinks from Starbucks, brushed my hair, and did a fantastic job covering for me during parts of the summit when I was slacking. I LOVE this team. I am blessed. If any of you coworkers happen upon this blog- know that I am overwhelmingly grateful for you. The outpouring of support has not stopped even now that I'm back in Tallahassee.

After our conference was done in DC, Jaryn and I had a media summit to attend in NYC the following Friday.

Our summit was finished on Wednesday, and Thursday morning we went apartment hunting.

By the way. I had not made it OFFICIAL- but with the fire happening- I think it's as public as it will ever be. But I'm moving to DC in January. Surprise. Yay! :-)

I'd been making plans to move at the end of January- but didn't want to 'announce' via social media until I had signed a lease. Well. That lease will be signed in the next couple of days. And I'm officially moving to Washington, DC.

So Jaryn and I went apartment hunting Thursday morning, found some great places, then headed to Union Station where we would catch a train to NYC. My first train ride!!! I was really excited about it- until we started moving. I got a little motion sickness- but made it :)

We arrived in NYC and came up right from underneath Madison Square Garden where Justin Bieber was performing. (aka- tons of squealing girls). Welcome to the city.

We made it to our hotel in Times Square and did a quick change and freshened we had BIG PLANS!

Jaryn had scored tickets to see the Rockettes at Radio City Hall!!!!! But of course, right before seeing them- we were walking towards Radio City Music Hall when we turned a corner and saw THIS:

SOOOOOO Amazing.

The show was FANTASTIC as well:

We made our way back to the hotel, crashed, and headed out Friday morning for coffee before our media summit started.

That evening we grabbed dinner at a Puerto Rican restaurant and Jaryn was quite happy with her meal: (ok, and maybe she was just happy to finally have the Summit over :-) )

After dinner we walked around some more, and headed back to Rockefeller Center where we would be meeting up with Leticia!! 

We grabbed a cup of coffee (decaf for me, duh) and then made our way back to the hotel. Saturday morning was spent brunching it up and my first visit to Macy's on 34th street.

I also have to note- not only was this weekend being spent with fantastic people, I ran into 2 friends from Dallas while in NYC! God-ordained, for sure. He knew I needed some Dallas love. Jen and Stephanie- two separate friends- on different trips- had both posted about being in NYC. So of course we made a point to catch up and I'm so grateful we did!!

After brunch, Jaryn headed back to Tallahassee and Leticia, Jaclyn, and I celebrated 10 years of friendship with the rest of the weekend in NYC.

We met the first week of college in 2002 and have been friends ever since. I am SO glad I made the decision to stay on in NYC rather than go back to Tallahassee.

We toured the city, browsed many stores, drank lots of coffee, and ate great food.

On Sunday morning, Leticia, who lives on 34th street across the street from Macy's, made pancakes and coffee while we had a relaxing morning. The best part? Miracle on 34th Street was on TV.....WHILE I WAS ON 34TH STREET. Drinking coffee. Talk about a 'moment.'  It was quite perfect.

After breakfast we headed to a market square area and walked around before grabbing lunch.

Then it was time. We had to say bye.

Jaclyn was off back to DC, and I headed to the airport.

Tallahassee awaited me.

This is where The Fire- Part 2 will pick up.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The one with the fire. Part 1.

Because I simply have to start somewhere. 

Have I mentioned I love my job?

I do. 

I've been getting to travel as of late. And last week I was in DC for the 5th Annual National Summit on Education Reform. This is an event hosted by our organization. This one-stop shop of policies and practices offers an opportunity for lawmakers, policymakers and advocates to learn the nuts and bolts of education reform.

It's our biggest event of the year. This year the line-up of speakers included Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Joel Klein, Arne Duncan, and many others. 

It's a big deal.

We arrived Sunday morning and began setting up at the hotel and preparing for over 700 attendees to arrive. 

Monday was filled with the same. 

We went to bed late Monday night and had a 6am call time Tuesday morning. 

I woke up at 5 and was in the process of getting ready when I received a phone call at 5:30am. 

The number was a Florida number and not listed. 

I answered and heard "Is this Minda Corso?" Yes. Yes it is. 

"This is the Tallahassee Police. I am going to transfer you to an officer who is at your apartment complex."

I waited. 

Upon being transferred, I heard a policewoman breathe a sigh of relief and said "Ms. Corso, I'm at your apartment building and there has been a fire. Are you here?"

At this moment, my first thought was that there was a small fire somewhere in the complex and probably not close to my building. 

I said "I'm actually in DC at the the fire at my building or just a building close by?"

She said "The fire is in your building."

My brain immediately started thinking "what did I not do!?!?!? Did I forget to unplug my Christmas tree? Did I leave a candle burning?!?!"

The policewoman said she didn't have any other information for me at the moment but they were just trying to locate my body. I let her know I was safe.

I said "What do I need to do?" She said the fire was still burning and they were still putting it out so they didn't have any updates at this point but they would be in contact with me.

I hung up my phone and stood at the base of my bed in the hotel room. 

The first thing out of my mouth was "Jesus. I know that you love me. I don't know what is happening, but I know that you love me."

I probably repeated that phrase over 50 times before leaving my room.

Looking back on that moment, I know that I was faced with a decision. Whatever would happen and whatever would come of all this- I was given the opportunity in that moment to believe Truth or believe a lie. 

I could believe that Jesus loved me and would work this for my good or I could believe that He didn't and that he was doing this to hurt me. 

I think because my response was that of stating the truth and believing His Word to be true- I was able to face the next 48 hours. Perfect love, after all, casts out all fear. 

I went downstairs and found several coworkers. I explained what was happening. 

I called my 'uncle' Carl (not really my uncle- but close enough these days after all I've been through) and wake him up to explain what's happening. I asked if he could be my eyes on the ground in Tally.

One of my coworkers, Joanna, said her neighbor had connections and could get information for me. She contacted him and asked him the status. 

At this point- I'm still thinking "minor smoke damage, nothing big." While on the phone, she asked me what building and apartment I was in. I told her building 9 and apartment 915. 

When Joanna got off the phone she sat me down and said "Minda, it's bad. Your building has had the worst damage. The fire is still being put out. But it's bad."

This is the moment my chest starts to close up.

I don't really remember many details at this point, but all I know is attendees are showing up, registration is taking place, and I'm in DC while my apartment is burning in Tallahassee.

I think there may have been a few more phone calls to different people, but I go upstairs with a coworker, Sarah, and lay on the bed and bawl my eyes out. 

I feel helpless. Several people were ready to get me a ticket home, but all I could think was "My home is gone, all my coworkers are in DC. My Tallahassee family is in DC. Why would I go back?!"

AND. It's the biggest event of the year. I had been SOOOOO excited about this Summit.

Again, not sure of the timing (I'm sure coworkers can help fill in the holes) but Sarah makes the call to Joanna to tell them to grab my journals if possible. I tell them where the box is and what it looks like. I don't care what else comes out- I want my journals.

I also tweeted around this time saying "Please pray. I'm in DC and my apartment burned down this morning." I didn't know anything more than that, but knew I needed people praying.

I have a good cry, clean myself up, Sarah brushed my hair, and I go back down in my black power suit and pull it together. 

As I'm downstairs, Joanna receives a picture.

At this moment, I know I can make it. 

Mary Laura, another coworker, called her husband who is a police officer at some point through all of this and they are helping get as much information as possible. 

To have heard the news, not able to be there, and have people with connections was a HUGE relief. 

The event is starting and Gov. Bush is giving the keynote address. I'm in the green room with my phone (which was BLOWING UP!) and I'm live tweeting the event. 

From this point on- I go in full professional mode and keep to task. 

The summit is going smoothly, people are enjoying themselves, rave reviews are already being heard, and I'm on auto-pilot.

I got a notification on my phone alerting me that someone had set up a donation page, but again, had no idea what was happening. 

Thankfully, I was assigned the responsibility of staffing the Governor for the event and had NO TIME to stop and even think about stuff. For the record- at some point during all of this- someone had informed the Governor of what had happened and he immediately extended his condolences. He said "do whatever you need to do to get back home." I informed him I'd be staying in DC to finish out the summit and he responded "Well at least let people know- for the record- that I didn't make you stay and that I told you it was ok to leave!" **Noted** :-)

I got a text from my pastors wife around 9am, also saying "Random question...but what building number do you live in?"

I let her know it was my building and that I'd received news. I also asked if her and Wade (my pastor here in Tally) could connect with Carl and coordinate going to the apartment and pulling out whatever seemed salvageable. 

I didn't realize how big of an 'ask' that was until I got home. 

I am SO grateful for people who were ready and willing to help do ANYTHING. 

Somehow I make it to the end of the day and Condoleezza Rice gets up to speak. 

I knew after she was finished I'd be able to get to my room, regroup, and make a plan.

Wade had also let me know he'd be sending me pictures once I was done with the days' events. Which I'm so grateful. I don't think I could have dealt with work after seeing what I saw. 

Here are a few of the photos he sent my way:

When I got to my hotel room, I not only faced these pictures of devastation, but at the same time, had looked at my Facebook page for the first time. 

My friend Laura, upon hearing the news, set up a donation page online for people to start helping out. When I saw this, my heart was overwhelmed. 

You have to know, aside from the first initial cry- I did not cry at all from this point on. My chest was so heavy, so overwhelmed, but I couldn't cry. I just started in amazement. 

The page hadn't even been set up but for a couple hours and over 2,000 dollars had already been given. 

I just sat there. Staring at these pictures of my apartment and watching my facebook page blow up. Two contrasting emotions- balancing each other out.

As exhausted as I was- I couldn't sleep. 

I lay in my bed, turned on some music, willing myself to fall asleep, but it wasn't happening. 

We had another day of the Summit left and I knew I needed sleep. I maybe got 2 hours that night and started all again the next morning.

Also. I need to note. Of  course the first thing EVERYONE asked me was "You have insurance, right?!?!"

I can't tell you how embarrassed I am with this answer. 

Since I lived in my first apartment (2005)- I've had renters insurance. ALWAYS. 

When I moved to Florida, USAA informed me they don't cover Florida. I knew I'd only be in town less than a year so I figured I wouldn't go through the hassle of finding a new provider. It wasn't because I was careless or forgot- or because I didn't think about these types of things. I DO think about those things. 

It just was an unfortunate event. 

The links above are for the news stories covering the fire. 

I actually just read these for the first time today. 

I will write more later, but needed to get the initial post out. 

And as I've said previously, I'm sure I am missing several details. 

But here is where the story began. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The one where she cries

Heads up dudes. This information could be helpful.

Found myself crying over a burger this week.

Sarah bought me a burger and, yes, I found myself crying.

It's true.

But if Sarah were to buy me a burger next week, I can promise you- it would not make me cry.

Sarah buying a burger was an incredibly nice gesture. And I needed a nice gesture.

I've noticed, most often, if I find myself crying-it's not over one particular event. It's because MANY things have happened, I've been holding it together, trying to be strong, and then there's just ONE. MORE. THING. that happens sending you over the ledge. It's not even necessarily that the last thing was the worst- or the hardest. It was just 'the straw that broke the camel's back.'

So. Guys. If a girl is crying and you ask her what's wrong, most often- it won't be a simple answer. The story could start off with "3 weeks ago, when this happened...."

Or it could be "last month, then last week, and then yesterday." It's most likely a series of things. And bottom line- she's tired of being strong. She's tired of holding it in. She just needs to be allowed the opportunity to be a girl and CRY.

So, guys. Dudes. Men. If you find yourself in a situation in which a girl is crying over a burger, you can simply hug her, tell her that she is strong, and that she is brave. And tell her that she doesn't have to be strong all the time.

Cause life is hard.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The one at St. George Island

A year ago today, I wrote this post. 

One year later, I could write a very similar post.

I went to the same beach. With the same feelings. With the same plan: sit and do nothing but listen to the waves.

Last year I packed a lunch, a towel, and my journal.

I did the same this time. I remember writing in my journal last year at the same beach. The journal entry was filled with much anticipation and excitement for the year to come. I was brand new to Florida, brand new to my job, and I was very excited/anxious about what would transpire over the next year.

As I journaled this time around, I felt the same anticipation. I'm keeping the same job, but come January, I could possibly be moving. I could possibly be in a new city. Once again, where I know no one.

Clearly, that's not a problem for me. I'd say this past year in Florida has been wildly successful. I've met tons of people, become involved in my church, and made some great friendships. Who knew moving to a city where you know ZERO people could be so much fun.

I might not currently know where I'll be living in January, but I'm grateful to be reminded that my God is big. And He's got it covered.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The one with the countdown

Things I'm counting down to before the end of the  year:

  • (nov12) Veterans Day.
  • (nov22) Thanksgiving. Still not sure what I'll be doing. First Thanksgiving without my family.
  • (nov25) National Summit in DC. SO pumped about this.
  • (nov30) NEW YORK CITY. Mashable conference. WHAT?!?! Yes. (Bucket list item will be crossed off as I'll be there while Christmas decorations are up at Rockefeller Center. Ice skating? Yes. 
  • (dec13) Transiberian Orchestra in Jacksonville!
  • (dec20) Phoenix!!!! Yes. I'm going to Phoenix to sing with Lisa for Christmas services at her church. SOOOOOO pumped about this. Christmas music is my favorite. And singing with my sister? Um. YES. 
  • (dec25) Home to Paris, Texas for CHRISTMAS. Home. Home. Home. Home. I love my family.
the end. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The one you don't really care about, but I'll blog about it anyways

My favorite Christmas song:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Here are my favorite versions:

Kenny G

Followed by these two versions:

Frank Sinatra

Katherine McPhee and Chris Botti. 

The end. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The one where she finishes

Tomorrow marks a big day.
I mean, really! How cute is she?!?!

Ok, maybe a HUGE day.

A little background. Cause you know I like to do that.

My mom. She's pretty awesome.

When my sisters and I were little girls, it was SO important to my mom to stay at home with us. No questions asked- no matter if it were financially feasible or not. She and my dad committed to making it work. They felt so strongly about it.

In addition, my mom taught each of us to read. She home schooled us for kindergarten. She made up her mind she wouldn't put us in school until we learned to read. And we are all strong readers today.

Staying home was THE best thing she could have ever done.

But since she stayed home with us, that meant school or a career was put on hold for her.

Until 1998. My mom decided to go back to college.

She started college and graduated with an associates degree in nursing in 2000.
She became Kathy Corso, RN.

Watching a parent go through college is one of the most inspiring things. (I actually had the privilege of watching both my mom and dad go through college.) Not only doing school work, but still taking care of our family. It was a LOT. But she did it. And with grace.

A couple years later, my mom decided she wanted the letters BSN to join the RN after her name. So she decided to plug through and go through the RN to BSN program at the University of Texas at Arlington.

She graduated with her BSN in 2005 and continued working as a labor and delivery nurse.

And then....she got the bug again. The woman just likes school! (or so it would seem!)  She decided that RN, BSN were not enough...She wanted the MSN as well.

So she decided to do it. She buckled down and as of tomorrow- my mom will officially be:

Kathy Corso, RN, BSN, MSN.

I am SO proud of her. She's an AMAZING nurse. There are SO many women that have gone through the most exciting, sometimes the most devastating  most painful, and most often- the most joyous day of their life with my mom at their side.  Every character quality you think a nurse should mom has it. She's pretty much the best labor and delivery nurse.....EVER. :-)

So, as of tomorrow at 6pm, she'll have finished her last class. And I'm proud of her. And I thought you all should know.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:29, 30

Friday, October 19, 2012

The one where I remember my most brilliant idea ever

I updated my Facebook status this morning as shown above. After seeing several of the comments, it reminded me of the most brilliant idea I think I may have ever had. 

Back in January 2010 we were having a super cold winter in Dallas. And I should probably remind you all of a few things. I'm a Dave Ramsey girl. This translates to this: In the summer, I don't turn my a/c down very much and in the winter, my apartment stays pretty cold.

So. One Friday night I'd been preparing to go to bed (probably at 8:30pm, or something) and was thinking about coffee for the following morning...and since I'm being honest here, let's break it down even more. I'm always thinking about coffee in the morning. At lunch time I think about my cup of coffee I'll have the next morning. Before bed, especially, I'm thinking about that cup of coffee I'll have. I just love coffee. 

Well. Anyways! A most uncomfortable experience in the winter is having to actually get out of a warm bed to get to the coffee pot. 

So. I had the brilliant idea to move my coffee pot into my bedroom and to my nightstand. The next morning was Saturday, I wanted to sleep in, and wanted to stay in the comfort of my warm bed as long as possible. 

When I woke up, it may or may  not have been close to 58 degrees in the apartment and all I had to do was reach one hand from underneath the covers to hit the 'on' button. My cream was already in the cup ready to go (because it was cold enough in the apartment not to need to be refrigerated) and I even had paper towels ready in case I needed them. Seriously. I wasn't getting out of bed for anything!

I think I stayed in bed til 2pm that day. Just because I could. 

I should also take this time to apologize to some of my former roommates for letting the apartment get so cold... I'm sure your life was bettered because we saved $10 a month on utilities. Oops. :-)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The one where I celebrate a year

One year ago today, I landed in Tallahassee. Here is the post from a year ago. Re-reading it almost made me cry again! Such an incredible year. It started out SO crazy- and has ended up so crazy AWESOME.

And turns out, I started my adventure in Tally the same way I celebrated my one year:

(this picture was taken last year- but could have easily been taken today)

I'm grateful for this past year. It could possibly be one of THE best years of my life. It's been a peaceful year, drama free, and an adventurous year. What more could one ask for?!

In other news, yes, I'm sick again. Allergies have overtaken my body. Went to the doctor today to see what I could do about it- considering I've gone through almost 3 boxes of sudafed in the past 8 days.

Came home with 2 more prescriptions (in addition to the slew of meds I got while in the ER last week), and the makings for homemade soup. I've wanted soup all day and I'm not a 'canned' soup kind of girl. Which means I will do whatever needs to be done to have homemade soup.

I'm sitting down with meds in system, steaming soup, and hot tea.

Happy one year anniversary to me!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The one in the ER

So I had quite the eventful day yesterday.

Kidney stones. Any of you ever dealt with them before?

And just FYI, I'm going to use words like urethra and ureters in this post. If those words bother you, you may want to stop reading now :-)

I've had three ladies tell me in the last couple of days- if they had the choice- childbirth or kidney stones- they would choose childbirth. No questions asked.

Let's think about that for a second.

Yeah. Let that sink in.

So I woke up yesterday morning, turned on my coffee pot, and sat down to read. Like any normal day. Until I began to feel wildly uncomfortable. I'd known the kidney stones were making their move this week as I'd had some issues on Monday and Tuesday. But this was different. I went to the cabinet and found some expired pain meds from the last bout and thought I'd see if they helped.

They offered no relief.

Now, here's the deal. Growing up, we hardly EVER went to the doctor. So that's not my normal first plan of action. Not dying? Then no doctor. Take some ibuprofen. {I am my mother's daughter.}

And in addition, it costs a lot of money. And I'm Frugal Fanny. To the nth degree.

So as I lay on the floor of my apartment writing in pain (TMI?) the only thing I was weighing in my mind was "am I in so much pain that it will be worth whatever it costs?" And the answer was yes. WHATEVER it cost. The pain was that bad.

I had text my co-worker, Sarah, around the time I took the pain meds and told her I would possibly be needing her assistance- but that I was waiting to see if the meds kicked in. Once I'd waited long enough wtih no relief, I text her and said "let's do this."

She headed my direction.

I walked out to her car and was in tears. I'd experienced kidney stones before- but NOTHING compared to what I was feeling.

God bless Sarah Powell for being a champ. She calmly drove me to Patients First (urgent care option in Tally) and we got in and had to fill out the paperwork. I'm sitting in the waiting room crying. Seriously. And attempting to help Sarah answer all the questions the papers were asking. She now knows my family medical history and knows for CERTAIN I'm not a smoker, drug user, or heavy drinker. :-)

After filling out all the paperwork, Sarah takes it back to the counter and the lady says "If she is in this much pain, you need to go straight to the ER."

Thanks, lady. Thanks for telling this AFTER we filled out all your paperwork!

To me, all this meant was it would be LONGER before I could get some relief from the pain.

Sarah drives me over to the ER (which I didn't even know where an ER was in Tallahassee, so I'm glad she was driving!) and drops me off before she goes to park.

I walk in to the ER, tears streaming down my face, give the lady my ID and insurance card and say "kidney stones."  She comes around immediately and gives me a wheel chair and within minutes has an armband printed off and attached to my wrist ready to take me back. SO impressed with how quick they took care of me.

They wheel me back and get vitals and take me to emergency room number 6. They send me off to get a urine sample and when I came back- Carl was waiting outside of the room. (Carl and Jennifer are family of family here in Tallahassee...I've blogged about them here and here)

I saw him and started crying again. Feeling so grateful at this point to see him.

I get in the room, still no pain relief has been given and I just lay on the bed whimpering. Ok, crying and whimpering. It was a low moment, y'all. For real.

I know this next statement might make my mom and sister feel awful, but it's true. While laying there with nurses all around, all I could think was how badly I wanted MY two nurses to be there. My little sister, Caralyn, is an ER nurse in Dallas, and my mom is a Labor and Delivery nurse.

When the ER nurse came in, my first thought was "Caralyn would be a much happier face to see right now."

But that's beside the point. I'd been there maybe 30 minutes (who knows on time. I don't. It felt like forever) when the pain started to get so bad I knew I was going to throw up. I tell them as much and they go in search of a trashcan or bag. I have it in my hands 5 minutes when I started to get sick. And I quickly got up, off the bed, and went to the corner of the room. I dropped to my knees and the BIG sobs started coming. Between throwing up, sobbing, and catching my breath, I kept telling Sarah and Carl "I'm so sorry! I'm SO sorry you have to see this!"

They kept urging me to get off the floor and back to the bed, but I just didn't want them to see me throw up. When I was done, I walked back to the bed and the lady began to hook me up.

While laying there, I was exhausted and started to zone out.

Evidently, I wasn't really aware of anything at that point. I just knew she was sticking needles in my arm and taking blood, etc.

Carl and Sarah knew VERY well the moment the meds entered my body. As did I. I felt a rush through my body and all I could say was "oooooooh man."

I'm probably not the one to tell this part of the story, but either way. I felt immediate relief. Whatever they'd just put into my IV line was beautiful. Very beautiful.

After this, they took me to get a CT scan and I was content.

Meds are a beautiful thing.

And I remember thinking to myself "Remember this moment. When you get the hospital bill, remember this moment."

From there, we waited a bit for CT scan results. Doctor came in and said both ureters are lined with small stones, left AND right- but the left ureter is completely obstructed by a bigger stone. Hence the crazy pain.

So next stop was the urologist.

Sarah drove me over, we checked in, and began to wait. It was 12:30 at this point and we waited. And waited. And waited some more. (We were waiting for the hospital to send the CT report over to the urologist)

We waited so long the meds from the ER started to wear off. Sarah went to tell someone they needed to do something as she saw my face go white and the pain take over.

They came in, gave me a shot, and 15 minutes later came back in with the news.

The two options were the sound waves blast to break up the stone, or go in and physically remove it.

Because of the location of the stone, they couldn't do the sound waves blast thing-a-ma-jig. (that's a real word.) :-) The only other option was to remove it. But. The doctor said "Minda. You are SO CLOSE to having passed this stone. Really. It's SO close. My advice would be to go home, take your meds, drink tons of water, and let it pass on it's own.

So. That's the plan. They sent me home.

Sarah took me to the pharmacy where we had prescriptions filled.

She dropped me back off at my apartment at 3:45pm.

What a day.

I came upstairs, unloaded my meds, and took a nap. Took another dose of meds at 5:30pm- then kept myself awake until 10 so I could take one more dose before going to bed.

And that, my friends, is how I spent my day yesterday.

I should also note, I'm still taking the STRONG meds today and typed this all out while feeling a little woozy. So if words are incorrect, times don't match, or if anything is just plain weird....Well, I'm blaming it on the meds. :-)

Was hoping to only need the 'lighter' medicine this morning but that's NOT an option.

So here's to a full day of medicine and LOTS of water!

(I'm a social media person. How could I NOT take a picture....even in the condition I was in (aka- looking ALL KINDS of rough!)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The one where the vault is unlocked

There has been a new fad on Twitter and Instagram in which people post old pictures of themselves and tag it #TBT or "Throwback Thursday."

I have ignored this fad as I truly believe God was looking out for me when Facebook was created AFTER I left high school. There are just some things that need to remain offline....such things being any picture of me between the age of 12 and 18. They can stay in a locked vault.

When I'm 40, I'm sure I'll look back and laugh- but even at the ripe old age of 28, I still say "TOO SOON!"

I know we all had those 'awkward' years....But let me tell you. It wasn't a phase for me....It was my life.

It didn't help matters that 2 weeks before my senior pictures were to be taken, I went in for a haircut that left me looking like a 35 year old mom of 4. (Not that anything is wrong with being a 35 year old mom of 4 kids....But for some reason, there are so many women who get pregnant, have a baby- and BAM! The next decision they make is to chop all their hair off! Why, ladies, WHY!?!?!?)  Anyways. Back to the haircut.

I told the lady what I wanted. She decided adding layers in all over was a good idea.

I cried.

And my senior pictures are a disgrace.

I'm not exaggerating, y'all. Not at all.

All that to say, I'm still pretty sensitive about these pictures. Ok, REALLY sensitive about these pictures.

But conversation last week at a football watching party turned to Throwback Thursday and I mentioned how I am not partaking. The others suggested that it couldn't be THAT bad.

So. I called my dad.

I asked if he wouldn't mind going through a few photo albums and sending a couple of pictures my way that I could consider posting. Ok maybe I needed to fast and pray about this decision....But either way. I'd think about it ;-)

So Tuesday morning, dad begins to send me some pictures. I'd specifically said 'NOTHING' older than middle school.

The first picture to come through was my senior picture.

I almost threw up in my mouth!

The 2nd picture was Freshman year.

I quickly reminded him I needed YOUNGER pictures.

But he was on a role.

The next 13...yes 13 pictures that came through sent me into a full-blown panic.

I kept texting saying "ENOUGH!"

They kept coming.


2 more came through.

His response?

"I love them!"

That being said, I decided I could post 2. Here they are. :-) Happy Throwback Thursday.

Maybe in 10 years I'll post a couple more.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The one where we do life.

Saturdays in Dallas usually meant sleeping in, then rolling out of bed to meet up with close girlfriends for brunch and coffee. Usually it was at my apartment, so I really COULD roll out of bed.

These are the moments where, as cheezy as it may sound, we truly DID LIFE together. We didn't just talk about what we'd done the previous week. We didn't talk just about events we'd gone to or surface-y type things.

These are the mornings we opened up and talked about what was reallllly going on in our life. What was challenging us. About areas in our life we needed someone to stand with us and believe with us that God was good and had our best in mind.

Saturdays are usually the days I miss Dallas the most.

I needed those friends this weekend.

I called two girls here in Tallahassee and said "I'll have breakfast and coffee if you'll just come sit on my couch!"

They came.

We talked. (ok, I mostly talked...but a lot has been going on!)

It was good. Thanks Laura and Lindsey. Grateful you are both in Tallahassee and are willing to do life with me!

Life was not meant to be done alone.

Who do you do life with?

Who pushes you to be better? To grow? To not just skirt by? Who challenges you?

I was spoiled in Dallas. I know that. The community I had in Dallas was NOT normal for most.

I'm grateful for that time though, because I know what life CAN look like. And I will not settle for anything less.

Do life with someone. It's more fun. And it makes you a better person.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The one where the fall decorations come out

Today is game day in Tallahassee.  FSU playing Clemson. ESPN people are in town. Crazy day for sure.

Which means everyone in Tallahassee is on campus.

PERFECT time for me to get my errands done. Started my morning off with a coffee phone date with mom...(i was drinking coffee...she was drinking coffee....we talked on the phone) and then went out to get my errands done.

Came home, made pumpkin cream cheese muffins for a party I'm attending tonight and decided today, being as though it's the first day of fall, was a great day to pull out my fall decorations. So here you go. Decorations, a pumpkin cream cheese muffin, and a great smelling candle! :-) Happy Fall, Y'all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The one with the acceptance

Today marks one year. One year ago I was on my way to celebrate my mom's birthday in Dallas when I called Jaryn. We had played a bit of phone tag throughout the day and I asked "Is this a good time?"

She responded "I'm sitting at the airport in Indianapolis. Attended a conference that covered social media....and I'm hoping you are calling to tell me you are accepting the job!" 

That's exactly why I was calling. 

Funny thing is, I leave Sunday for Indianapolis. The exact conference she was at. I'll be there as THE social media person. 

So glad I accepted. There has not been a SINGLE day....let's take that further....there has not been a single MOMENT where I've regretted accepting this job. 

Obviously, there are a lot more 'one year anniversaries' coming up. I'll try not to blog about each of them. ;-)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The one at the RNC

I don't know how to start this post. I probably won't know how to finish it either. But I have to start somewhere.

The Republican National Convention was in Tampa this year. We've known for a while we would be hosting some fundraisers around the event for one of the Foundations I work for.  I'd been told I could help out for our Tuesday event. I'd drive down Monday, be there for the event on Tuesday, then drive home on Wednesday.

Then at the end of July, Governor Bush was asked to speak at the RNC.  The schedule would be much busier now. Governor would have interviews, meetings, speeches, fundraisers, and all other sorts of events.

I was still planning to be there Monday-Wednesday.

Then Brandi, our events coordinator, said they needed someone to drive Governor's SUV to Tampa (from Tallahassee) on Saturday morning. Since I was already planning to go, I was the lucky winner. The other thing was this....Whoever drove it down- would have to drive it BACK to Tallahassee- after the RNC was over. Which means I went from only being in Tampa 1 1/2 days- to the FULL week.

I started to get excited.....until I found out there would be no credentials for me to get anywhere near the convention.  So I made plans and prepared to be in Tampa, but just stay in the hotel and work....Then watch the speeches on TV with the rest of the world.

Saturday morning, I drove to Tampa at 6am, arrived at 9:30am, then met up with the rest of Governor's team as they were about to do the 'run through' of the week. We needed to pass the SUV off to the driver, along with driving to each of his locations to make sure we knew where we were going...making sure roads were open, etc., so that when Governor got to town, we'd be familiar with everything. I asked if I could go along for the ride and they said sure. After we got back to the hotel (around 7pm) we all had some work to do- and everyone parted ways. Because I was in town earlier than expected, Jaryn let me stay in her hotel room with her as she had a suite. We were working from the hotel and decided around 8:30 we should grab dinner. Josh was also staying at our same hotel so the three of us loaded up and headed over for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. It was late. I was tired. You all know how I am when that combo is in play. Needless to say, we had a grand 'ole time.

Sunday morning, Jaryn and I had a few errands to run and decided we should probably make a Publix run as Hurricane Isaac was heading our direction. We got a few things, as well as coffee, then headed back to the hotel.

Our agenda for Sunday was to get credentials for Governor and his team. Credentials became a four letter word to us. We would drive to specified locations, wait for them to arrive, be told we needed to find someone else- so on and so forth. Mind you, driving around wasn't easy on it's own. Roads were shut down. Police were everywhere. Secret service was everywhere. Trying to get the credentials was CUH-Razy. It became a full-time job.  At 11pm, we were still making calls and trying to get a hold of the right people. Finally- we got what we needed. Well. Mostly. We came back to the hotel- put all the lanyards together- and headed down to the hotel bar where we ran into Governor Jan Brewer and had a 'special' talk with our 'special' bartender.

We'd also learned Monday night's events would be cancelled due to the storm which meant the schedule was changing once again. Jaryn stayed busy the ENTIRE time working, re-working- and re-working AGAIN Governor's schedule and speaking arrangements. (side note: the storm never came)

Again. All this time, I knew I wouldn't be able to attend the speeches.

Until Josh.

So, Josh is new to the foundation and works in our DC offices. His previous job left him with LOTS of connections to people at the RNC. The two of us were about to make our final credential run and as we were leaving the hotel, I said "I should probably stop and go to the bathroom.....if there is a restroom in the hotel lobby, I'll stop. But if not- no worries. I can wait until we get to the next hotel."

There was no restroom in the lobby.

We get in the car and are headed to the Marriott hotel where Governor Romney was staying. Traffic was SHUT DOWN. The roads we'd previously taken were closed. We couldn't get anywhere. And I began to panic. I wasn't joking when I said I had to go to the restroom.

I look at Josh (whom I'd only met once before) as he is driving and I say "Josh. I can't wait. I have to go to the bathroom." I'm preparing myself for the 'most embarrassing moment' of my life to take place. Really. I'm almost in tears. I decide right then and there- I will NOT move to DC because Josh works in DC. And I will never be able to face him again after what was about to happen. I told him as much. I even said "and if you come to the Tallahassee office....I will wear sunglasses and not ever look you in the eyes." Honestly, he was so great about the situation and didn't make light. He went super slow over the speed bumps. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned into a 45 minute drive. This. Was. Not. Good.

We finally arrive at the hotel. I RUN to the bathroom. The 'awkward' run. You all  know it. Where you're trying to move fast without moving your legs.

God was so merciful to me, y'all. I know this is NOT the story you were anticipating reading about- but hey. it was part of my Monday. After life looked brighter, I met Josh in the lobby and we headed to find our credentials. Starbucks was in the lobby and of course we got coffee. We knew we were going to have to wait a bit. Lucky for us- as we were waiting- Governor Chris Christie starts walking through. Josh said "You want your picture with him!?" And of course I did- but I didn't want to be 'one of those people!"  AND! I didn't know if that was even appropriate for where we were, etc. Josh said "You have to! You'll be so mad at yourself if you don't! I'll take the picture!" And since Josh was familiar with these sorts of events/people/etc. I figured he would have told me if it were not appropriate. So I put on my assertive pants and went for it. He was very kind and allowed me the picture!!! At this point- I'm SHAKING. I was so nervous- and yet after all the emotions I'd just been through (with the restroom story- etc) I was thinking to myself "HOW DID I GET HERE!!!!"

After we got credentials, it was almost time for our 3pm walk-through at the Straz Performing Arts Center. We were to have an event there the next day and had an appointment to meet with the people in charge. We also knew we needed lunch and headed over to the only thing that was open: the Howard Johnson hotel.....which affectionately is now known to me as the "HoJo." (I'd never heard it called that

We eat lunch then go to the walk-through. Around this time, Jaryn text and said we had dinner plans with someone from Good Morning America. I knew I needed a dress. A trip to the mall was in order. We get back to hotel- everyone is in different places- and I have a bit of time to get a dress and be back in time for dinner at 9pm.

While I'm at the mall, Jaryn is with the Governor at the forum where he's running through his speech with several of the RNC people. They also told him he couldn't wear the white shirt he had been planning on. So I get a text from Jaryn saying "are you still at the mall!?! Gov needs a shirt."

I thought he'd spilt something and needed a shirt for tonight. I asked her "do you need it right now?" She said "No, it's for when he speaks on Thursday."


I've never purchased a dress shirt before. Ok, let me take that back. Once before- for my dad. And he wore it like once. So I stick to buying ties.

Jaryn sends me the measurements and I'm looking around the mall. Which, btw, was probably one of the worst malls to have been in. My options were Sears, Macy's, JCPenny, and Saks.

I started at Macy's and went to the poor kid at the desk and said "Help!" Turns out, they didn't have the color we needed in the right size. So my next option was JC Penny or Sears. I went in, saw that their shirts were $15 and I just couldn't. I couldn't allow myself to do that. He was going to be on NATIONAL TELEVISION, people! I run all over the mall looking and trying to find what I needed when finally I called a my co-worker, Erin, who said "go to another mall!" She gave me directions to a better mall and told me where to go.

I go in, ask for the shirt I needed, and the guy comes out with 3 options. One of which he said was 'button down." Well, I thought all mens dress shirts were button down. But no. Evidently that term is used for the collar. I didn't know if that would be ok or not and he said "What event is the shirt for?" I told him "It's for a speaker at the RNC." He said very quickly "no button down."  So we find the right shirt, I make the purchase, then head back to my hotel. WHEW. Who knew finding a shirt would have so many decisions? Patterns were wrong, buttons were ugly, buttons were in the wrong place, neck sizes, arm length....Geeeez! I get back, change into my new dress, and take a breather before getting a text that says "Hey Minda- Crazy question. Can you pick up George Stephanopoulos's producer at the Westin? She is going to meet us for dinner."

Um. Let's back track on this day. Crazy horrifying almost bathroom incident. Meet Gov. Chris Christie.  Buying Jeb Bush a shirt to wear on national television. Then picking up this producer.

Of course I say yes. I get her, we drive to Maggianos where we meet up with Josh and Jaryn. Producer  treats us to dinner, we get her back to her hotel, and we head back to ours and go to bed at 2am.

Tuesday is a big day. We have our movie premier, a fundraiser, then the first night of the RNC.

The premier was great, the fundraiser went swimmingly, and as I was heading back to the hotel, Josh says "I've got credentials for you."

WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?! I get to go. I wasn't anticipating that. I get home, change really quickly- and jump in the car and head to the forum.

Josh and I arrive and remember how I told you he knows all sorts of people? Well, he knew enough to get us into one of the suites. Yes. Not only was I at the RNC, I was sitting in the suite with my chin hanging open. Right below us was Megyn Kelly and the FOX news team. After being there for a little bit- Josh is talking to his people, comes over and says "Let's go." "Let's go" meant "Hey, we're going down to the floor with all the delegates."  I keep looking over my shoulder wondering when someone was going to realize i was NOT in the right place and I did NOT belong!!! We get down and Josh says "So what do you want to do!?!?"

What do I want to do!?!?! I have NO idea. I have no idea what I'm allowed to do. I'm not sure what is appropriate!!! And I tell him as much.

He says "Well you should get a picture with the Texas delegates and sign in the background."


Then he says "Want to get closer to the stage?"


"Want to get even CLOSER?


Seriously. I was GIDDY.

We went back up to the suite and watched the remainder of the speeches from there. We headed back to the hotel after the night was over and met up with Jaryn and John. Jaryn and I put our pj's on and headed down to the lobby where the four of us sat and talked for a couple hours. And when I say 'talked' I really mean laughed. It probably was because the conversation started with Josh saying "so did Minda tell you about her 'situation' today?"

Tuesday was a MAJOR highlight. Drinks and conversation was exactly what we needed. Went to bed at 3am.

Wednesday the day is spent running around from place to place, running errands, working, and making sure everyone is at the right place at the right time. Again, I get a text from Josh that night around 6:30 saying "You have a credential. You in?"

Um. Yes.

Went and again sat in the suite. Josh then let us know he had VIP tickets to go see Kid Rock. At this point, I knew I was going to have an early morning (4:30am wake up time) and knew I wouldn't get back from the concert til after 3am. So I passed on the concert and went home to bed. Little did I know, when I woke up Thursday morning to go to the Good Morning America taping, I found out I didn't have the right credential for this particular event. I almost...wait. Who am I kidding. I DID start crying. I was SOOOOOOO frustrated. Not with anyone in particular, but all week had been looking forward to attending the Good Morning America interview. Whomp waaaaah. So I missed out on Kid Rock VIP tickets. I slept 4 hours. And I didn't get to go. I ended up working from the hotel that morning and getting my work inbox cleaned out a little bit. The next even I had was at 2 and got dressed and ready to go. It was the Bloomberg Link event where there would be a panel of speakers to talk about education. The list was House Majority leader, Eric Cantor, Margaret Spellings who served as the Secretary of Education under George W., Condoleezza Rice, and Jeb Bush.

Can we say WHOA. As the moderator put it- they were the "Oceans Eleven" of education. An incredible event and LOTS of good tweeting material. :-)

At the event, Jaryn came up to me and said "I have a present for you!!"  She knew how bummed I'd been that morning to not be able to to attend GMA. My 'present' was the fact that she had secured a credential for the Thursday night RNC speeches. AKA- Jeb Bush. Mitt Romney.

What the what?!?!?!? AMAZING. (in other news- anyone tired of me saying "what the what?!!")

After the Bloomberg event, we went back to hotel, regrouped- and took the bus into the convention. This time, Josh and I had our executive director with us, Patricia. This woman was the one who TRULY deserved the red carpet/royal treatment that I'd been a recipient of all week. We got her seated in the suite when it was announced that Governor Chris Christie was on his way to our suite and would be sitting with us. Um. yes.

So Jeb Bush is speaking. I'm in a suite. Governor Chris Christie is right there. And I'm shaking my head.

After Gov. Bush spoke (and did an INCREDIBLE job) he was on his way back to Miami, Patricia headed back to the hotel, and Jaryn, Patrick, Josh, and myself headed up to the rafters to listen to Clint Eastwood, Marco Rubio, and Mitt Romney.

We clapped, we cheered, we drank, and we were merry :-)

It's 11pm at this point and Jaryn has a 7:30am flight out of Orlando the next morning. Patrick wanted to go to bed. And Josh had tickets to go see JOURNEY.

So Josh and I trek over to Liberty Plaza, walk in, and got to watch Journey perform.

I can't even explain to you the emotions that were taking place in my body. They started off with "Any way you want it- that's the way you need it -any way you want it!"

We got super close to the stage, had crazy people around us, watched as some girl played the whole "i just met you but here's my number' thing, and all in all- had a FANTASTIC time singing and listening to Journey play all our favorites. My phone died so I wasn't able to get any video or very many pictures, but Josh has those and I'll post once I get them!!! :-)

We got home around 3:30am. Woke up Friday, checked out of the hotel and went to hang out with my co-worker, Erin, at her parent's place. Laying out by the pool, drinking iced coffee, I was PINCHING myself. Whose life was I living?!?!?

About 2 hours later, I see a tweet come through that my Gateway friends from Dallas had JUST landed in Tampa!!!! I was able to go have lunch with them and hug some people that I'd not seen in a year.

I said to several people "I feel like this week has been the PERFECT example of God's promise to us of 'exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ask or see."

So. #RNC2012 is in the books and I experienced it to the fullest.

How's that for a blog post?

I seriously doubt any of you made it through the whole thing, but either way, it's written out for me to remember and that's most important.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The one with the pictures

Considering the fact I'm still processing everything that happened this last week, I figured I'd start with pictures.

The next post will be the details :-)
Hurricane Isaac was headed our way....or so we thought. 

So we went to Publix to get a stash in case we were stuck in the hotel.

Jaryn and myself, on Sunday. Computers open. Time to work. 

Gorgeous view from a house we hosted a fundraiser at. 

One of the events we hosted was a movie screening of the new moving coming soon "Won't Back Down." Of course we had popcorn. :-)

Some of our team members

My new suit ;-)

Met Governor Chris Christie:

At one of the fundraisers we hosted, this was the decor:

Another outfit. These were going to remain private on my instagram account until I realized my instagram is not so private anymore. 

And another!

From the rafters:

The Texas delegates! 
Don't they look so great?!?!?! Made my Texas heart so happy to see these cowboy hats!

Again, another blurry picture, but yes, this is Megyn Kelly!

Me with the Texas Delegates and the Texas sign in the background :-)

Fox News broadcast right beneath my seat:

Another outfit. I know. You're tired of these. As were my coworkers. Oops.

And the last one. In other news, I wore this suit for 17 hours. YES. 17 hours. 

So proud of this woman!!!! She was FANTASTIC

Governor Bush speaks!

Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly

Eric Cantor, Margaret Spellings, Condoleezza Rice, and Jeb Bush. Otherwise known as the 
"Oceans Eleven" of education night. JOURNEY concert. Yes INDEED! 

The one about moving to a new city

Moving to a new city is not for the faint of heart. Moving to a new city as a single adult is for SURE not for the faint of heart. I&#...