sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for November, 2011

No excuses

I haven’t been writing.  I have had time to write but have only written one blog in over two weeks.  I could make excuses and explain how I have been sick.


Or I could remind myself….

The past is behind me, keep moving forward.

I am grateful for that message.

Today, that is all I need to say.

The past is behind me, keep moving forward.


Illness and Gratitude

Today, I am grateful that I felt good enough to leave the house.

I at least felt like taking my oldest son to his Monday afternoon classes would be easier than staying home with my younger two.

I love all my children but I have been ill for the past week.  Some sort of respiratory, crazy coughing, feeling yucky, low-grade fever things.

It is much easier being a parent of a 14-year-old when I am sick.  My toddler has brought entertainment to me over the past week, visiting me in my room and bringing a smile with all of his cuteness.  Yet, there is a point when his presence changes from a “cute visitor” to someone who I need to keep an eye on or who is getting into something and I don’t have the energy to distract or engage him.

My 9-year-old daughter has found a new love with poetry and it has been a  joy to hear the things she has been writing.  Being sick sure slows you down and simplifies things.  I like that aspect of being sick, or at least I embrace that aspect.

After the challenges of the past week, I can now be grateful for:

  • breathing
  • sleeping through the night
  • my health
  • waking up from sleep just to go to the bathroom or get a drink
  • taking care of sick children
  • waking up in the morning to start my day
  • waking up at night to help a scared or hurting child
  • making breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen
  • playing with my children
  • going outside even on a cold day
  • breathing
  • laying on my back and being comfortable
  • laying in bed, unable to sleep, yet feeling good
  • taking care of myself
  • eating healthy
  • living my life
  • Did I mention breathing without coughing?



Powerful and Timely Reading, 6 months later

Tonight,  I sat to write because I knew the grief was getting to me, the persistent cough and illness that would not go away. And after I wrote several posts that no one may never read, or not right now, as I let it all out, frustrations and aggravations I have been feeling for 6 months. I spared no ones feelings, well, this is still me writing, but I really let it out.

And then I moved on to researching something which I decided to share on Facebook as a note and then I read this post, the last note I apparently wrote but it jumped out at me on my screen: my own words needing to be read by me. Here it is unedited, just as it was written in the moment, on my 17th anniversary while my husband was in the hospital recovering from a massive nearly fatal heart attack (much more fitting than “event”).


Working Through Anxiety and Panic

by Gina Menzo Grothoff on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 7:04am

Working through the anxiety and panic:

One step at a time.

From the first moment, I was in a place of calm, with my mantra:

The past is behind you, keep moving forward.


Recently I have gotten ahead of myself, projecting into the future,

playing the “What If?” game.

I learned fear serves a purpose, it teaches us to come back to now, to the present moment and use the fear to tune into our feelings to make decisions.

I began floating on cloud nine, tuning into my feelings for everything.

I saw signs everywhere and felt so connected.

I knew Don was with me always on this earth or not and felt him talk to me as I walked the halls of Presbyterian Hospital while he rested in his room.


I got a bit lost in all of it, and lost my grounding and my focus on the other component of tuning into now: being in your body.

Being in this world but not of it.

I needed grounding.

And so from my adrenaline high, I came “crashing down”

into my body.

Anxiety and panic brought me back to my body and to pay attention.

Yet, anxiety and panic fed into the “Waht if game” along with people telling me, it is normal to have panic attacks after a crisis and hearing “you may have them for a long time, even 3 weeks”.


It is all good. I needed to hear all of it.

It brought me to take care of my body more. To stop and refocus.

And then as I took care of my body more, with nourishing foods, going to acupuncturist, drinking more water, paying attention to possible blood sugar issues, and taking some herbs when necessary to help with the anxiety.

And of course the trusting that this is a process, and there will be stages but I can’t pretend to know what it looks like, even if I have “signs” coming to me.

I can say, “Isn’t that interesting.” hold onto the vibration of the positive and stay here and now and not focused on the future.


Much harder to do than it sounds.

Tuning in to my other needs, my spiritual connection needs was as important as taking care of my body. I talked to the people who I most connect to spiritually.

It all brought me back to focus and to more energy work.

And the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) brought me back to myself again last night. After having two nights with panic attacks with me way outside my comfort zone, I was anxious about the night and sleeping.

It all tuned me in to what work I needed to do with EFT, to release my fears and let go of doubt, guilt and limitation. I began to incorporate what I had learned with the anxiety and panic attacks. I had difficulty going to sleep, and so I connected on facebook by posting my truth and checking email and messages to be in the here and now and receive the love and prayers that others were sending me.

When I woke up after short sleep, and noticed I felt dry and thirsty and a bit of low blood sugar signs, I got myself something to eat and drink.

And felt calmer and then wrote more which further connected me.

Back to sleep, still having fears about sleep which I needed to work through and release all the pent up feelings I had been having.

I did EFT while laying in the bed, releasing my emotions with tears, while my three angels slept around me in my room.

It took a bit, but I was able to work through it enough to sleep again.

When I woke, and felt anxious, I allowed the fear to lead me, did research and sought some answers which all brought peace.


I woke up with a new greater understanding.


You see, yesterday morning, when I woke up, I was ready to see the reality of cardiac arrest.

(more later)

Dramatic Gratitude

I am grateful for Dar Draper and Bee Creative and Company.

Last night we enjoyed three fabulous plays performed by children who ranged in age from roughly 5 through 16.   The best part of the performances was the fact that for the previous 10 weeks, these children spent time in an environment of love and encouragement with the only expectation that they explore their gifts and talents.

My family and I have enjoyed watching these wonderful performances over the years.  Seven and a half years ago, we all sat and watched an evening of Bee Creative Plays to which my 6-year-old son replied, “I want to do that.”

The next spring we signed him up to participate.   My son has participated in her drama classes numerous times over the past 7 years.  My daughter has also been involved in a few classes and both kids have attended Bee Creative Summer Camp.  The past two years, my oldest has enjoyed being a camp counselor at summer camp.  Now my youngest child has enjoyed watching his siblings perform and tells us that he want to do drama classes too.

It has been fun to watch my oldest son grow over the past 7 years from a young child enjoying drama classes and his first on stage production as the hare in   Dar’s version of ”The Tortoise and the Hare’ to his portrayal last night of the detective in ‘Robin the Hood’.  The fun thing about Dar’s plays is that she creates them with the children in her classes.  I have seen my son’s theater participation carry over into other areas of his life as evidenced by his ability to speak easily in front of others, selling Boy Scout Popcorn and being able to speak in front of a large group of people as well.   He has participated in other area theater programs as well over the years, but Dar and Bee Creative has always been his favorite.

It was a lot of fun when my then four-year old daughter, finally, got to participate in a drama class and a performance along with her big brother.  She has particularly liked summer camps where she has the opportunity to explore many of her gifts and talents, like art, dance.  She has been interested in participating in classes again recently but has been unable to do so due to her dance class schedule.   All of my children have a flair for the dramatic and it is fun to give them an outlet in an encouraging and fun environment.

And so today, I want to thank Dar and everyone who has been involved in Bee Creative over the years.  I have really enjoyed watching the plays over the years and participating vicariously through my children as I helped them with their lines.

Bee Creative celebrates its 10th anniversary this coming spring.  There will be new drama classes beginning in January of 2012.  Does you child need a dramatic outlet?  If you live anywhere near Concord, NC, check them out!

Happy 14th Birthday Harrison!

I am grateful for my son, Harrison,who celebrates his 14th birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Harrison!

I am grateful for the past 14 years with him in my life and the 9 months before he arrived.  I am grateful for the easy pregnancy I had with him.  I am grateful for becoming a mother exactly when I did.

I am grateful for his interests, passions and collections over the years:


stop signs

all road signs

electricity and electric switch plates

theater: performing in plays






And all his interests yet to come

I am grateful for:

His love of his siblings, being a concerned and cautious big brother

His laugh

Watching him laugh at a funny movie.  I find movies so much funnier when I can watch them with him.

I am grateful for how confident he is and has always been.  He knows who he is and doesn’t worry what other people think.  He is who he is an I love him for it!

He reminds me to be who I am and I am so grateful to him for that.

I am grateful that he did learn to walk at 16 month of age even though we never enrolled him in ‘walking school’ nor bought any walking curriculum. (sure I am an OT but even as a new parent, I knew what was to come and never encouraged walking and enjoyed him crawling)

I am grateful for him leading us to unschooling by following his lead with his interests at a young age.

I am grateful that he did learn to sleep- even though we did not enroll him in the hard knocks school of “teaching your child to sleep” and he learned to talk without a curriculum and he learned to eat without school…..I could go on but I will spare you the lecture undertone and him the embarrassment.

I am grateful that I can say whatever I want on my blog, and no one will cover it in sticky notes with corrections and there won’t be an audit on it and no one will give it a grade or ask me to re-write it.

I am grateful to my son Harrison for his sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself (and at me) and knowing he won’t be offended by my blog.

I am grateful for all the time I have had over the past 14 years to spend with him and for our time connecting and for me being a part of his life and his world and for the amazing teenager that he is now.

I am grateful for Harrison coming into my life and for being my first-born and my son.  I am grateful for the role he plays as an older brother to his younger siblings and his roles as cousin, nephew, grandson… all he does, he is always himself.  I am grateful for his authenticity and unique point of view.

I am grateful to Harrison for learning all about Ning and helping me, literally to start my first Ning website which led to the launch of  I am grateful to all the technical help he has provided me over the years.  And I see this into our future as well…..

I am grateful to my son Harrison for being who he is!  I am grateful that he is able to follow his interests and will love him no matter where life takes him and where he takes life… and will always be proud to call him my son.

The “is not” and the question

Today I  am challenged by my daily posting gratitude challenge.  I missed a post yesterday and at least one other day.

The idea of having a post every single day was a big motivating factor and since I have not quite done that, it takes away some from the moment.  Not that I want to give up, not at all because I am writing blogs far more than I ever have.

So, today, I can be grateful for the is not….

When I have an off day or things don’t go as planned or I am  disappointed for whatever reason, it can be difficult to be grateful and even more difficult to write.   Yet, here I am creating a blog post when I had no idea what I was going to say.

The is not helps us to see the is.

I showed up.  I showed up to write even when I did not know what I was going to say and when I did not really feel like saying anything.  I think it is important to write even when I don’t feel like it.  It can be eye opening to write when I don’t know what I am going to say. Sure, I often find meaning in my writing as I am writing it, yet to feel lost and have no idea and then to write, can bring such clarity.  Or at least it brings honesty.  Here I am.  I just spent time watching the last two Gray’s Anatomy episodes.  I don’t watch much TV these days but somehow I am drawn to that show and enjoy following along in the series and keeping up with the happenings by watching it online.   It is a break for me.  A break from my real life, from motherhood, from being a wife, from homeschooling, from all the drama and happenings of my day-to-day life.

After my husband went in the hospital, I saw how unrealistic the show really is.  Doctors don’t have time for all the personal attention that they are seen giving patients on Gray’s Anatomy not to mention the fact that many modern hospitals are so departmentalized  and there is no way a doctor would be able to be in so many places like they are on the show.  I wasn’t as interested in watching the show for a while.  Yet, here I am watching it again.  I enjoy the personal relationships aspect of the show and yes, the excitement of medical trauma.  I used to work at a physical rehabilitation hospital, not exactly emergency medicine, but the what happens next, after the initial trauma.  It was exciting to see patients come to us in a coma and after months of therapy, leave, often walking.  It was what went on in between that initial evaluation and their discharge from rehab that was exciting.  Helping people wake up and regain function after being in a coma is far more involved and far more exciting than is portrayed in most movies.  It is a long, slow process but rewarding.

It has been over 16 years since I last worked at the rehabilitation hospital.  I moved on  from there to work in nursing homes and later home health care to have a less stressful schedule, more flexibility and I will be honest, better pay.  But I think back to those first 2 1/2 years of my career as an Occupational Therapist and remember the time fondly.   I learned a lot in that time and appreciate that job far more since having worked other places.  I was fresh out of school and much to learn in my field and in life.  I was 23 and single and had just moved 600 miles from home to start my adult life.

Next week marks the 19th anniversary of my moving from Pennsylvania to North Carolina to begin my adult life.

Would I have imagined my life the way it is now back then?

I think I will leave that question for another blog.

Today, I am grateful for the question.

Where is the key?

I have missed just one day of gratitude posting and that was Saturday when I wasn’t feeling good and took the day off from many things.  Today, I am grateful for being able to “take the day off”.

I am grateful for…

This opportunity for daily blog posting and gratitude posting.

The ability to write and submit a blog by email….

Which means..blogging by blackberry!



Time with my youngest son

To the train station museum

In downtown Matthews

Visiting the old caboose…

First the museum inside, pictures



Finding answers to my toddlers endless questions


For the person to return from lunch

Who might have the key for us

To go inside the old caboose…

So we went to the library

Played a computer game

And looked for books on trains

Checked out some books together

Walked around on the brick wall

Jumping and flying from one section of wall

To the next

Back to the train museum

Even though they lost the key and we couldn’t go inside

Funny, yea, they lost the key to open the caboose for us

Enjoying time with my toddler

Just him and I

Paying attention to him

In the moment

Having fun

Enjoying the warm, sunshine filled….

Fall day