Monthly Archives: January 2012

Amendment to All I Really Need to Know

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So after I wrote All I Really Need to Know, I realized I left out perhaps the most important person on the list from whom I’ve learned…MOM!  Mom gave me the foundation of, well, me.  She reinforced the lessons taught in kindergarten, but she had started them several years before I stepped into Miss Beverly’s beautifully decorated room.  She started the lesson on patience from the very first time I broke a piece of brick off the fireplace hearth.  The lessons on patience became a recurring song in my life, but the verses changed daily.  Whether it was the brick or throwing a book into my sister’s eye, or slamming my tennis racket on the court because of the very important missed forehand, my mom was right there to encourage patience.  She always began with “the look”, followed by a heart-wrenching speech that would bring me to tears, a big “momma” hug, and the promise to change. And Dad, let’s not forget Dad.  He taught me how to laugh and work to make others laugh.  He’s encouraged me to, like mom, always do my best and never give up.  He is my dad, and I’ve always been daddy’s little girl…basketball in the driveway, playing jokes on my mom, and eventually, walking me down the aisle.  But I guess Mom has been my go-to-girl, my very best friend…I could always and still talk to her about anything…ANYTHING!

She taught me to never give up, put myself in someone else’s shoes, and always tell the people you love that you in fact love them because in the blink of an eye, those people may be gone.  Work hard, make each day count, give, love your family, …the list goes on and on.  She always told me these things, but until this past summer, some of these characteristics didn’t sink in until, okay, you know…cherish hit me.

I now cherish each conversation with my mom.  I cherish our trips to Shreveport on a monthly basis for my infusion.  Before cherish was introduced into my vocabulary on a daily basis, I would just say, “Uh huh, Mom,” and not really HEAR her.  I see her, my dad, and my mamaw aging, and I realize all the years I missed in cherishing them.  Like my husband and daughter, I’ve loved them deeply, but I haven’t, for one, told them that and many times I haven’t shown them that.  Now I tell them frequently how much I love and cherish them.  I adore them, admire them, and appreciate them.  From this new found wisdom, if you will, I see life in a whole new light.  Bottom line, life is too short not to cherish the ones you love. 

I regret not putting Mom in my first post because she did do a little thing for me called “giving me life.”    And as she always said, I brought you into this world and I can take you out.  And I actually believed her!  She was a public school teacher for many years, but she’s been my private tutor for 35.  I am blessed to call her my best friend and for my daughter to call her Suz. 

 

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All I Really Need to Know

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Remember the poster that said, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

Really?  Then why did I go to school through 12th grade and felt the need to continue on to college…and now, I’ve decided I need more education.  Yes, I learned some fabulous lessons in kindergarten from the all-patient, kind-hearted Miss Beverly Richardson.  God love her.  She put up with me and my incessant need to chat with anything that walked, talked, and listened.  I became accustomed to seeing my name on the board everyday.  And sure to follow close behind were typically 3 checks.  Check #4…cue the music…dum, dum dum dum, duuuuuum…meant a trip to the principal’s office.  Thank goodness I never had the pleasure of a personal visit with Mr. Watson.  Thank you, Miss Beverly, and sorry I sped up the graying process!  I do know, despite the constant interruption of Stephanie Jo, she taught us many valuable lessons such as patience, kindness, sharing, no hitting, cleaning up messes, and washing your hands before eating.  And  yes, those lessons still apply to our lives today, but “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned from Being a Wife and a Mom.”

Let us start with being a wife.  My husband has taught me many things.  Over the past 18 years, he has helped me develop into a much more patient person.  That has not been an easy task.  He’s increased my knowledge when it comes to football, attempted to help me pass freshman chemistry to no avail, and even taught me to fish.  He researches and teaches me about my health problems so I can understand them in “Stephy Terms” and the list goes on and on!  I can’t imagine my life without him.  But if there is one major lesson he has taught me, or I should say we learned together this past summer, it is how to cherish.  We knew how to love.  Heck, we’ve loved each other very deeply for the past 18 years.  But loving is quite different than cherishing.  Cherishing goes deeper than love.  Cherishing is truly seeing someone.  It’s adoration, admiration, and appreciation.  Cherish…When he speaks to me, I don’t just nod, say, “Uh huh” and keep going.  I look at him and adore the man I see before me.  I admire his deep devotion to Christ and to our family.  I appreciate everything he does from taking the trash to the curb to getting Hannah ready in the morning and off to school.  I appreciate, admire and adore him.  I love him and the us we are today.  But most importantly, I absolutely beyond all I am, cherish him to the ends of the earth.  Kindergarten…pish posh.  Shannon is my new kindergarten.

Now let’s look at being a mom.  Hannah Elizabeth has taught me many things as well.  However, I didn’t realize all the valuable lessons she had taught me and continues to teach me until I learned the meaning of cherish.  Yes, when she was a baby, after quite a bit of practice, she taught me that babies are a lot of work.  Changing diapers, fixing bottles, figuring out why she’s crying, worrying over why she isn’t talking, feeling frustrated with potty training, and wondering why God thought I would be a suitable mom.  Yes, I realized that I can’t keep a plant alive, but a baby…ain’t no thang!  I could carry her on one hip, wipe throw-up off the wall, all while talking on the phone.  It became second nature.  So much so, that over the past 7 years, everything became…”Hannah, Mommy can’t play right now because I have to fold laundry.”  “Hannah, Mommy is tired.  Please stop talking.”  “Hannah…”  “Not now, Hannah.”  I allowed my second nature to become my way of life.  I was running on autopilot. Then one day this past summer, KAPOW…cherish hit me upside the head.  I have this amazing, beautiful, smart, fabulous little lady standing right in front of me.  I opened my eyes for the first time and realized that for 7 years I had allowed things such as laundry, dishes, and dust to keep me from listening to, playing with, and bottom line, cherishing my daughter.  I have loved her from the moment I saw her 9:32 a.m. on September 10th, 2004.  I fell in love with her that day, and like her daddy, I loved her deeply.  However, I never really stopped to look into her eyes when she spoke to me.  I had never really thought about what a little miracle my father in heaven had placed in my life.  Now when I look at her, I realize what an amazing little girl she is.  She loves to dance, loves to laugh, and loves to make others laugh.  She has the biggest heart, and sometimes, I’m afraid she may be a little smarter than I!  She’s 7 going on 21, but she will always be my baby.  I am so blessed to have this precious, healthy child in my midst.  She has taught me that life’s too short not to dance when I hear music.  That it is okay to spill Dr. Pepper on the floor three times in a row…that’s what carpet cleaner is for.  And it’s okay if she gets dirt in her hair or paint on her shirt…that’s what shampoo and washers are for.  Cherishing is taking these things with a grain of salt.  Cherishing her is adoring her, admiring her, and appreciating her.  I absolutely adore her sweet smile and her big vocabulary.  I admire her for trying cheerleading, soccer, and gymnastics and being strong enough to say, “These things just aren’t for me.”  I admire how she sees the good in everyone.  And I appreciate how hard she works in school.  I appreciate her loving me even though I’m not the perfect mom.  She says I am and that’s all that matters.

Cherish…All I Really Need to Know rests in that one word.  These two people have taught me to cherish, and the best thing of all, they cherish me too.

It Could Always Be Worse

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Two months after my daughter was born, I awoke one morning to numb hands.  I know.  I slept on them wrong.  They’ll feel better in a few minutes.  Minutes became hours.  Hours became days, and I found myself in the waiting room of our family doctor.  Dr. Capen sent me for a a nerve conductor test.  It could be carpel tunnel.  Of course, that’s what it was.

After being prodded with needles for about an hour, feeling electric shocks shooting from my hands and fingers down my arms, I was sent home to wait…imagine that.  Wait days for a medical test?  And while I waited, I convinced myself that it was carpel tunnel.  After all, I grew up playing tennis, writing a lot, playing the piano…yep, carpel tunnel.

“Is Stephanie there?”  I heard through the other end of the telephone line.  “Yes, this is she.”

“We have your results, and Dr. Capen said the tests came back fine.  He would like you to go get an MRI.”

“O…okay…so no carpel tunnel?”

“No.  So can you go to Hancock Memorial on …”

“Sure.”

With MRI complete and hands still in a constant state of complete numbness, I continued teaching my 8th graders, loving on my sweet Hannah banana, and going through the motions of daily life with a fear of the unknown lingering in my mind.  What could it be?

“Is Stephanie there?”

I received a phone call one evening after I had finished supervising the crowd at a middle school basketball game.  I was walking out of the building on the way to my car.

“Yes, this is she.”

“Stephanie, this is Dr. Capen.”

Wow, now that’s service.  That’s so nice for the doctor to call me personally…

“Stephanie, I think we know why your hands are numb.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“It’s MS…Multiple Sclerosis.”

“Okay.”  The thought of MS had passed through my thoughts a few times during the past few weeks.  I had known a couple of people with MS.  “Okay!”  I said.  “What do I need to do now?”  I asked with determination.  I wasn’t going to let this get me.

As soon as our conversation was over, I called my husband.  He told me to get home so we could talk.  I then called my mom.  I shared the news with her, and she and I cried and decided it was going to be okay.  Shannon and I cried and talked, and we too decided it was going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay!  I’ve never let anything get me down, and this was not going to be the one thing that brought me to my knees either.  It could always be worse, right?

From that moment, I decided I was going to own the MS.  It was not going to own me!  I started seeing a neurologist in Indianapolis and began giving myself shots three times a week.  Definitely not how I planned to spend my time as a new mom.  But what plans in life really go the way we expect?  I embraced it.  I researched it.  I talked with people who had just been diagnosed and realized that it could always be worse!  I dealt with the symptoms.  My balance was off some, I experienced numbness in my hands, nose, and feet, and I  felt extreme fatigue many days.  I continued the shots and told myself…It could always be worse.

We came upon the opportunity to move back closer to home…the sweet south!  Yes, we’ll do it!

Not long after we moved to northern Louisiana, I began to experience complete numbness in my right arm.  I could barely fix my hair, put in earrings, write my numbers on my Sudoku puzzles, or cut a steak.  I immediately began searching for a new neurologist.  She prescribed three days of a steroid infusion, and lo and behold, a couple of days later, the feeling returned.  Since I’ve been back in the south, I’ve been switched to a new drug…an infusion once a month.  I love it!  I have days of feeling off-balance, extreme fatigue, and other little tingles here and there, but all-in-all, I feel like a new person.

MS…what does it mean to me?  It means I am so blessed!  I have a healthy, beautiful, smart, and fabulously funny seven-year-old.  My husband and I are closer than we ever have been.  I have a job and now the opportunity to return to school to work on my masters.  I have made some amazing friends, and I’m close to my family in southern Arkansas.  I have learned to embrace the moment, cherish my loved ones, live each moment like it’s the last.

Some days I find myself saying…I have MS…I…HAVE…MS!  Thank you Lord for blessing me with MS.

It could always be worse.

Million dollar Momma

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I have always loved to write.  I especially love to write rhyming children’s books.  I usually wake up my child in the morning with a silly rhyming song…Hannah banana I’m glad you’re not in Montana.   I love you so…I really hope you know!  My lifelong dream is to be a published author of children’s books.  I can see myself being interviewed on the Today Show about my newest hit with the kiddos across America.

“So, Stephanie Banks…How does it feel to be compared to e. e. cummings?  Some even say Eric Carle.”

“Oh, Matt Lauer…what a fabulous thing to say!  Me?  e. e. cummings?  Eric Carle?  Really?  Who said that?”

Okay, so probably not going to happen, but that’s not going to stop me from sending my first manuscript, If I Could Be Anything, to Boyds Mills Press, the supposed “old-fashioned” publishing company that accepts unsolicited manuscripts, and they pay you to publish!  That’s a hard thing to find!

With that first published book comes the chance to be a stay-at-home mom who goes to school working on her masters, has dinner ready promptly at 6, and is at car pick-up everyday with no after-school daycare in sight!

Dreams can come true!  If this one doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.  And in the meantime, I’ll be more than happy to live the dream that I’m currently living…being completely cherished by my husband, cherishing every minute of every day, enjoying the hilarious things my 7 year old comes up with, scooping kitty poop, working on the local college campus in the building next to my husband’s while attending a class and getting the employee waiver, cheering for the Arkansas Razorbacks on the television and any game that fits our busy schedule, and saving Princess Peach on the Wii so many times that I could do it with my eyes closed.  For this dream, I wouldn’t take a million dollars.  For the dream of seeing my stories and name in print, I would gladly take a million dollars.