Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Desserts Spelled Backwards

Desserts spelled backwards.  You know what that is?  STRESSED!!  That's what I am.  Sure, the last time I checked in on this blog, I wrote about how I felt I had a little bit of my groove back.  Then came Sunday.  Dad got rushed to the hospital after having a cardiac episode out at breakfast with my mom and former neighbor.  He almost face planted straight into his scrambled eggs.  Twice!  And, scared my mom and neighbor to death.  After a second episode, it was straight to the emergency room for the three diners!  They didn't call the ambulance because Dad would have been taken to the hospital my mom hates (she never known anyone to come out alive), so the neighbor transformed into Mario Andretti and raced to Arlington! 

They got to the hospital and Dad had a third episode.  His blood pressure shot up to 209!  That's sky high, folks, but this father of mine is too cool for his high blood pressure.  He didn't feel or notice a thing!  All of the monitors are going off, doctors are racing in, injecting medicine after medicine in his IV trying to get something to work, and Dad is just chillin' out watching tv, oblivious to everything going on around him.  The good part is he doesn't feel any pain.  The bad part is he doesn't feel ANY pain!  He had no idea what was happening and continued doing things as normal within seconds of coming out of his episode while those around him were busy trying to wipe the horrific looks off of their faces.

I was spared from all of this drama, enjoying a peaceful lunch with my new neighbor.  As I enjoyed my thai food and froyo, I had a hunch that something was amiss.  Shortly after returning to my condo, I get a phone call saying Mom is coming to pick me up to take me to the hospital to visit my Dad.

What?!  We are going to visit Dad in the HOSPITAL!!

In the CARDIAC unit!!!

@#%! just got real.

After crying for a second and then getting angry because my dad does not take the best care of himself and he is getting older, I pulled myself together, and was excited to see my dad even though it meant visiting him in a sterile room, laying in a bed, dressed in an unattractive hospital gown.  By the time I entered the room, he'd been stablized and the doctors were pretty confident that he was going to make it.

But, MAN, that was S-C-A-R-Y!  It also made me realize that this is sort of my future.  My parents are only getting older and while I hope these hospital visits will be few and far between, they do have the tendency to be more frequent.  I not so politely reminded my parents that at age 67 (yes, my parents are that old.  If you know them, I know they don't look it.  That's the problem.  They think they are as young as they look -- their body says otherwise!) they have officially been senior citizens for over 10 years and they need to stop eating fried chicken, Hershey bars, and sweet potato pie! They don't like to be reminded that they are getting older, but those two get big 'ole grins on their faces when they receive their senior citizen discounts! I sat in the hospital room and thought how they are getting older -- and that is scary.

I thought losing Mike was the worst thing that could ever happen to me!  And, quite frankly, I think it is.  And, I thought it had prepared me to deal with anything.  And, in some ways, yes it has.

But, when you are about to lose your daddy in a blink of an eye -  you are not prepared - especially when you think that the loss would mean losing both of the most important men in your life within a year!  Thankfully, I lost one, but God has spared the other.  Daddy will continue to be a part of my life on earth.

We're not out of the woods yet.  Dad still has to have a stress test tomorrow and he will need to have some minor heart surgery.  We have to monitor him closely because he is oblivious to the fact that his heart is beating out of control when it does.  The doctor said had he not been taken to the hospital he could have died. God spared him.  I am thankful.

But, I'm still stressed....

(and want to eat lots of dessert)

Thank you for your continued prayers for us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Catching My Breath

Life's been heavy.  Really heavy.  Grief.   Law school drama (more on that, later).  Just trying to adjust to life without my best friend - and - still maintain my amazing friendships with the people that are still on this earth.  A reorganization at work.  A boss that barely talks to me.  Sequestration and furlough.  I feel like I am on a treadmill.  I walk and walk and go nowhere.

However, this past weekend, I realized that despite the fact that I feel like I am stagnant, I am actually making progress. When I first embarked on this grief journey in early April, people who had walked this road before me said I will always miss Dude but it will be possible for me to be happy again.  Of course, I didn't believe them.  My heart was ripped in two.  The tears would come (and still do come) unexpectedly and my life is now changed forever.  How on earth was I expected to be happy again when my best friend is in heaven, I am here, and everything is now different?!  People assured me there would be a time that I would be able to feel truly happy.  Grief would still be present, but the happiness would shine through.  I waited and waited and this past weekend was the first time I caught a glimpse of this grief/happiness phenomenon.

And it was BIG!  I was so happy to not only be happy, but to recognize that I was happy and for smiles and laughter to outnumber the tears!!

This weekend, I joined some college friends for a reunion in Atlanta.  We are spread all across the country and rotate houses each year.  This year, we went to John and Alyssa's house in the land of peaches, sweet tea and Coke.  I had every opportunity to talk about Dude and all that has happened ad nauseam.  They were all friends of his.  All affected by the tragedy, but they do recognize that this cuts a little deeper for me and take such wonderful care of me with that in mind. More on the weekend highlights later, but I spent the weekend with a few of my favorites.

Perhaps it is because I felt this innate sense of protection from all of them.  Perhaps it is because I was surrounded by lots of love.  Perhaps it is because they are patient with me.  Perhaps it is because they help me to acknowledge the loss but keep Dude's memory alive....
I couldn't help but say over and over " I am so happy guys!  I had forgotten what it was like to be happy.  Thank you so much.  I am so happy!"

They may have gotten tired of me acknowledging my happiness, but I was blown away by it!  If you've never suffered a profound loss, you may think I am pathetic, but this is such a big deal to me.  A little bit of a turning point.

I can't fool you and say that I did not think of the loss everyday.  Dude's absence was particularly prominent because had he been alive, he would have been with us.  But, he was with us.  I talk to him all the time and told him I wanted him to let me know he was in Atlanta with us....and he did.  He let me know in ways that wouldn't necessarily be obvious to our friends, but in little things that I would pick up on thanks to our closeness and inside jokes.  I cried a little bit, but was not a complete disaster like I had the potential to be.

I'm working on something in his memory (That's a secret for now).  As such, today the sadness hit me again.  It seems unreal to have to do something in memory of him -- and not do something with him.  All that's to say, grief is definitely still present and will probably always rear its ugly head at times throughout my lifetime.  I am certainly not over the hump, but this past weekend was a glimmer of hope for me.

I survived.  I did it.  I laughed way more than I cried.  I was with a few of my favorites and I was genuinely happy.

Big, BIG news!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Unconditional love

Over the last year and a half, I have learned what it means to love and be loved unconditionally.  I don't think you realize how much you truly love someone until you are at risk of losing them.  It was around this time last year that Dude's behavior took an odd and troublesome turn.  As I have said to the countless friends who have asked me what happened, in the end, he was not himself.  He was unrecognizable, even.  In one of our last conversations, I remember "yelling", "Who ARE you? I don't even know who I am talking to anymore!" It was sad and frustrating and confusing to watch my best friend, the man who knew me better than anyone else and vice versa, transform into a different person. With that, came some very difficult times. But, it was during this time that I knew how much I loved him and wouldn't be able to stand to lose him.  Regardless of the erratic behavior, I would not walk away.  I would love him unconditionally. Being loved by him in return was such a blessing.

Then the unspeakable, the unthinkable happened. My world was rocked.  My heart was broken.  He was gone.  Forever.

Admittedly, the last 10 months have been quite an adjustment for me.  I have never experienced such pain and been in such a low spot in my life.  I am not the same person I was when Dude was alive and am learning what it means to live with the loss. I am learning that the relationship has transformed, but the love remains.

If I am honest, I have not been the most fun person to be around.  I am not constantly crying, but the spark that I once had (Anyone see The Bachelor this week?  Tierra is quoted saying she has sparkle!) is a little dim.  But, my friends have been amazing.  Many have done what they can to show me how much I am loved and to uncover my sparkle, as Tierra would say.  (This was intended to be a serious post, but Tierra and her uncontrollable eyebrow just fit in perfectly!)  They have invited me to do things with them.  Sometimes I accept the invitation.  Sometimes I decline.  It feels like some people have walked away.  But the ones that are there, are there and I am just so thankful. The roller coaster of emotions that you experience in grief is certainly not fun for the griever, but it can't possibly be a thrill ride for those who have been beside me. However, as a close friend wrote in a birthday card this year, "I'm eager to continue to walk this road with you and to see what God has in store." Can you say amazing? She is not at all related to this tragedy.  Talk about unconditional love.  It is so easy for me to fall into the woe-is-me-all-of-this-is-so-sad territory, but just when I start to choose that path, God slaps me in the face with blessings and love.  That I cannot miss. Unconditional love.  And, it is awesome.

Speaking of God, there have been so many times in the last 10 months that I have been all out angry with Him.  I'm talking fuming type of angry.  Why oh why oh why did any of this happen?  It seems senseless and pointless....and maybe it is.  I believe Dude taking his own life broke God's heart as much as it has broken mine.  But, I also believe that God scooped Dude up into His loving arms and brought him to heaven at the time of his death.  And I believe that as mad as I can get at God at times for all that has happened, He is still there for me and He loves me.   Each time I am tempted to turn away, He is there, listening patiently, crying with me, showing me unconditional love.

So, today is Valentine's Day.  Many people are going to celebrate with the love of their life.  They are so blessed.  I don't have a Valentine this year.  One day, I will.  No valentine, but I am blessed too.  I have learned what it means to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally in return.

One day, my sparkle will return.  But, today, I am celebrating Valentine's Day by getting a haircut.  And, while I'm at it, I should make sure those eyebrows are under control because sparkle with uncontrollable eyebrows is just unacceptable!!  You'd still love me unconditionally, though, wouldn't you? Sorry had to do it.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but it rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7   

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge 2/13/13

1.  This week marks the beginning of Lent...will you be giving something up or adding anything to your life during this season of the year?
 I always go back and forth on giving up something and/or taking on something for Lent.  When I was little, my family and I would always give up something.  I don't think I am going to do it this year. God and I have had lots of conversations about the transformation occurring in me thanks to grief. I'm going to focus on that this year.

2. The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday... tradition states you eat pancakes on this day. In some parts of the world Shrove Tuesday is actually known as 'pancake day'. How do you like your pancakes? Or don't you? 

I don't eat pancakes very often, but when I do, I love mine with chocolate chips....and maybe some whipped cream and a cherry :)....Yeah, maybe I am five years old.
3.  I'm sure there are many, but what's one love song you really love?  "When a man loves a woman" or "At last".  I love those two.  I can't pick just one!
4.  What are some things you do to let others know you love them? 

call them, send them cards, spend time with them....I try to stay away from technology with those I really love.

5.  Roses...red, pink, or do you prefer another color? Can you recall the last time someone gave you flowers? Given your choice would you like to open the door and see a dozen red roses, a dozen purple tulips, or a dozen pink peonies?
I love red roses.  The last time I received those was when Dude sent them to me as a get well gift after my surgery in October 2011.  The last time I received flowers was when three of my friends graciously brought me some floral beauties during my surgery in October 2012.  I'm hoping October 2013 is surgery free, but I'll take the flowers regardless :)

6.  President's Day will be celebrated in America next Monday. Does US Presidential history and trivia interest you?  Many Presidential homes are open to the public and offer guided tours...Monticello (Jefferson's home), Mount Vernon (Washington's home), Montpelier (James Madison's home), Hyde Park (FD Roosevelt's home) and The White House (home to the sitting President) to name just a few. Of those listed which would you be most interested in touring?  Why?

I think I have been to all of these, although, I don't recall Hyde Park.  So, maybe I should visit that one again.  I want to live in the White House one day!  Does that count?

7.  Are you good at keeping secrets?
 Lately, I've had to keep lots of secrets.  Most of them have to do with my friends telling me they are pregnant before they make the news public!  I get so excited for them that it is really tough to keep a secret, but I do because that is their news to share, not mine.   I have to put a lot of effort into keeping secrets, but I do keep them.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

 I am getting so excited for my upcoming mini and week-long vacays!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How You Can (and Have) Help Me

I did not write this, but it sums up the last 10 months pretty well.  Lately, I am stronger than I am numb and am much more comfortable in social situations than I have been in a long time, so I wouldn't necessarily say those parts are true today (and the anniversary and children, of course), but other than that, these words could have been my own. It is written by a widow, but can be applied to anyone who has suffered a profound loss.
"How You Can Help Me"

Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don't abandon me with the excuse that you don't want to upset me. You can't catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."

Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I feel only if you really have time to find out.

I am not strong. I'm just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel that you don't see me. I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm grieving and that's different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after my loved one's death. Don't think that I will be over it in a year. For I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for our children, the places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with a tear. Both are okay.

I don't have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and alone. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don't make it worse by telling me I'm not doing this right. And remember, I was a capable adult before his death and I still am.

Please don't tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start dating again. I may not be ready. And maybe I don't want to be. And besides, what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren't. Whoever comes after will always be someone different.

I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your life." My life is going on, I've been forced to take on many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.

I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your hugs. I need you just to be with me, and I need to be with you. I need to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.

Please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I'll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. So, in advance, let me give you some ideas:

(a) Bring food or a movie over to watch together.

(b) Send me a card on special holidays, our wedding anniversary, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on this difficult day.

(c) Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may say no at first or even for a while, but please don't give up on me because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you've given up then I really will be alone.

(d) Understand how difficult it is for me to be surrounded by couples, to walk into events alone, to feel out of place in the same situations where I used to feel so comfortable.

Please don't judge me now - or think that I'm behaving strangely. Remember I'm grieving. I may even be in shock. I am afraid. I may feel deep rage. I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt. I'm experiencing a pain unlike any I've ever felt before and one that can't be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes.

Don't worry if you think I'm getting better and then suddenly I seem to slip backward. Grief makes me behave this way at times. And please don't tell me you know how I feel, or that it's time for me to get on with my life. What I need now is time to grieve. Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding.

And remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss - when you need me as I have needed you - I will understand. And then I will come and be with you.

--Author Unknown

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Hoppy Birthday

I wasn't too excited about celebrating my birthday this year.  I didn't have anything planned.  That's quite unusual for me because I love birthdays, but this year I just wasn't into making it anything special.  My friends and family know me much better than that and decided that despite my ho-hum attitude, I deserved something very special.  Here's how it all went down:
These ladies (my small group) always know how to make me smile and completely surprised me with the sweetest birthday card and a s'more cake.
Please excuse the mess. The cake looked bizarre zoomed in.
That's right!  It's what you think it is! One, big s'more!  We actually had s'more dip for dessert that night, so I took this baby home and ate it for breakfast the next morning.  YUM!

On my actual birthday, my parents and I went to a fancy, french restaurant called Le Ferme in Chevy Chase, MD.  We normally only go here once a year, so it was really special.
I had the dover sole, which happened to be the most expensive item on the menu. Ooops! I guess that is what "market price" means.  It was so delicious, though.
 For dessert, the waiter brought me a chocolate souffle and wished me a "hoppy birthday"!!

Even though my parents hate ice cream cake, they also surprised me with a chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

Mom was funny and put trick candles on the cake.  She said after the year I've had, I'd want to have more than just one wish!  She was right.  I had a lot of fun making many wishes and questioning my lung capacity as those flames continued to reignite over and over.

My third and final celebration was with our family friends.  We just had a quiet dinner at home, but Kim was so sweet to make my favorites.  She made this ceasar salad that is just to die for.  I have never had anything like it before.
Then she also made cookies and cream pie which has now replaced the Baskin Robbins ice cream cake as my favorite.  This pie was amazing!
As for presents, my parents gave me a brand new Spyder ski jacket that I am hoping to get some good use out of this year. Kim, Roy, and Ryan gifted me with two beautiful Lenox crystal votive candle holders as a symbol of bright, new beginnings.

Thank goodness my friends and family didn't listen to my bah humbug birthday mumblings. They all did what they could to make it very special.  A hoppy birthday, indeed.  Thirty-one has started off oh so fun!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Few Good Men.

In the wake of tragedy, you are keenly aware of what you've lost.  As time distances you from the shock, the impact of the loss sinks in.  You know what you've lost, but may be pleasantly surprised by what you've gained.  I am not talking about an inheritance or the tens of pounds that now show up on my thighs thanks to grief eats. I've mentioned before how I am so thankful that many people swooped in to protect me and support me during the most difficult time of life.  I am not going to specifically call people out  because I know I will miss a few, but one of the best surprises of working towards recovery in this tragedy is the way Mike's guy friends have taken care of me. Talk about a few good men. (Well, really more than just a few, but few sounded good for the title)

It is no surprise that on April 3, 2012 the world lost one of the most amazing men the world has ever known.  People always speak highly of the dead even if it is not necessarily true, but in the case, it is entirely true. I continue to learn the many ways Mike touched lives even if just in passing. I only wish he had realized his impact on this world and made the decision to stay. But he didn't. And calling to tell his friends of his death was....I can't even describe it. Hearing/seeing grown men reduced to a puddle of tears is just so sad. I know I am not being very articulate here, but it is because I truly can't describe it. Many of them were caught by complete surprise because Mike kept his illness very close hold.  I wish this hadn't been the case because I know every single one of those guys would have been there for Mike. But that was his choice and I had to honor that for him. I unwillingly said goodbye to one amazing man whom I loved.....and gained the love and support of his friends.

One of the most helpful things in dealing with all of this is talking about it.  Talking about how I feel.  Mumbling words through tears that feel like they will never end. Yelling at the horror of it all.  Getting angry at Mike, God, the mental health system, doctors, whoever I feel like being mad at the time. All of that has happened.

Now, tell me, what guy wants to willingly listen to a woman cry and talk in circles?

{If she is your wife, OK, that would be the loving thing to do.}

These guys!!

They encourage me to talk about what happened.  They encourage me to write down my feelings and to express them.  They remind me that Mike loved me and wants me to be happy.  They send me inspirational quotes.  And cards that they -- not their wives -- wrote.  I can tell by the handwriting. HA! They have shared stories and jokes that have made me laugh until my sides split.

They have loved and supported me in the spirit of true friendship through all of this. 

And I am so thankful that I know more than just a few good men.

{Y'all know who you are. I am so proud to call you friends.}

Monday, February 4, 2013

No cure

There is no cure for your illness.
A whole lot of love and support with medication and counseling would have helped.
You had that. You had an inspiration to show you the truth of the illness and how it is possible to live a normal life.
But you didn't believe it. You couldn't believe it.
I am not sure why.  I'll never know.
Your illness told you that you had to find your own "cure".
So you did.

You are happy and healthy again.  Those of us left behind are sad.

Counseling helps with the anger, blame, confusion, devastation, fear, pain and sadness.
That will dissipate over time.
People who have walked this road before me tell me my feelings are normal and I will feel better.
Time helps.
Prayer helps.
Love and support helps.

But still there is no cure.

No cure for the hole left in my heart.  In the hearts of so many.

I miss you.  I love you.


If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will - - Unknown

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jepson 20th Anniversary Gala

The Jepson School of Leadership Studies at University of Richmond is the only school of its kind in the world.  Bob and Alice Jepson believe in the importance and need to provide education in leadership studies and ethics. He felt with that foundation you would be able to contribute to society in a positive way and succeed in whatever career you chose to pursue. With this in mind, the Jepsons gifted the University, his alma mater, with millions of dollars to create the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.  Leadership moves the world.  That's why it's important, why we study it and why we strive to do it well. A Jepson education investigates leadership not only as a position but also as a process and a relationship among people. Students look at leadership as it was, as it is and as it should be.  Courses challenge students to think critically, communicate effectively and anticipate change.  Source
Jepson graduates go on to a variety of careers, but regardless of the field we choose, we are taught to see the world differently.  Those outside of "Club Jepson" as we were called by the haters, would make fun of us for pursing such a "hokey" field.  As part of our Jepson education, we were required to have a second major or minor. Mine was Spanish, but I was in classes with friends who chose art, biology, rhetoric and communications, political science and business among others.  We were also required to complete a 240 hour internship. It was at that internship (mine was in organizational behavior) where I learned first hand that there is a serious lack of leadership and the skills, concepts, and values I was learning were going to be extremely important professionally and personally. My Jepson experience afforded me opportunities to work with Congressmen, scholars, my peers, and homeless people. Such variety was valuable, eye-opening, and character building. I am forever grateful to the Jepson family for their generous gift to provide students with such a unique opportunity to explore the world outside of the "Richmond bubble" and make a difference by actively engaging in the world around us.   

It's been nearly nine years since I've spent almost every waking hour in Jepson Hall with my classmates/friends. Some of my favorite memories are:
  • Getting my acceptance letter and proudly accepting my certificate at the Induction.
  • Developing my motivation series geared towards homeless people with Patricia North.
  • Creating leadership curriculum for and working with students with severe learning disabilities.  The moment they realized that they, too, could be leaders despite their differences was so sweet!
  • Talking to Bubba Cathy (Chick Fil-A founder's family) on his personal cell phone.  He freely communicated with my friend, Melissa and I, for one of our projects.
  • Riding in a hot air balloon during Dr. Couto's class while he was teaching us about paradigm shifts.
  • When Dr. Wren ripped his pants and we were all trying so hard not to laugh.
  • Anything in Dr. Hickman's classes.
  • The encouragement from Dean Teresa Williams and how she (and everyone else) would forever mix up me and Jessica Moye Tallman.  One time, Jessica had hip surgery and had to use one crutch.  She was "Jessica with one crutch" and I was "Jessica with two canes!"
  • Graduation Day: All the Jepson majors remained standing for each other after we returned to our seat with diploma in hand.
  • Dr. Richard Couto: Without him, I may have pursued business instead.  He was my scholarship advisor and asked me if I ever thought about considering Leadership Studies. I hadn't, but he encouraged me to take the Foundations class....the rest is history!
I made more memories last night at the 20th Anniversary Gala. It was so much fun catching up with our professors and other Jepsonians. The black tie gala was held at The John Marshall Ballrooms in downtown Richmond, Va. We began the evening with cocktails and catching up.  During the cocktail hour, I ran into many people I haven't seen since graduation, and some familiar faces, too.
 Here I am with Dr. Gill Robinson Hickman.  She was my favorite professor and one of the founding faculty at the Jepson School along with Dr. J. Thomas Wren and Dr. Joanne Ciulla. Dr. Hickman helped me decide to pursue my MBA and has encouraged me along this new journey to law school by writing a recommendation.  She hasn't had me as a student in 11 years and is still so caring and supportive and willing to do whatever to help me succeed. How wonderful to see her!  She was just as excited to see her former students as we were to see her.

 Pausing for a photo op with Kimberly Bowers, Kristen Emerson and Suezy Keller.  In true Jepson fashion, this is the only time we were all together all night.  Of course, we were all assigned to different tables! Much of our Jepson education involved group work, but the Jepson philosophy is you don't get to pick the people you work with in the real world, so you don't get to pick your partners in group assignments. For a second, we all thought we could sit together. Silly us!
At my table was a current Jepson student on JSGA and Jepson Corp (a new association), Georgia Sorenson (a scholar and now professor at UMD Law.  Remember her?? It was kind of crazy to be sitting there eating dinner with her having remembered reading her books and learning from her when she was a visiting scholar), a visiting scholar from Claremont-McKenna College who teaches courses for their degree in Leadership (not a school but a major), and two adjunct professors.  We dined on delicious food and this fantastic cake! Notice the Jepson candy on top!

The program opened with remarks from Dean Sandra Peart who then introduced Admiral Michael Mullen, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ADM Mullen discussed failure and how he learned more from his failures than from his successes. He also reiterated what Jepson instills in us over and over, which is that you don't have to be in a position of power to be a leader and the concept of servant leadership.  President Ayers spoke and introduced Mr. Robert Jepson. Honestly, I don't remember much of what he said because all I remember was thinking how thankful I was that he gave such a generous gift for so many students to have this education. My Jepson experience is certainly paramount to my college experience and to my professional successes today. Most, if not all, of us who were Jepson graduates (major or minor) would probably agree that Jepson has been influential in who we are today. It's rare to say that your major (or minor) has played a part in shaping who you are. That's what makes Jepson so special.

At the end of the night, we were gifted 20th anniversary wine glasses.  The scholar next to me couldn't carry his back on the plane, so I now have two. Rest assured, I will toasting Jepson for a long, long time.

Maybe you're born with it.  Maybe it's Jepson.  - A slogan on a t-shirt in the 20th anniversary video.

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