Tag Archives: Victorine Mbong Shu

2022 Reflections: Cliff Jumping – Moving Forward into Possibilities

For 2022, my phrase was “do more cliff jumping”. That means I approach my life with openness and curiosity, moving beyond moments of resistance to take opportunities as they arise.

The phrase “cliff jumping” arose in the early 2000s when I was doing ropes courses first with the honors program, then with new cohorts of masters students in what is now the UNR School of Public Health. Our guide helped me manage my height phobia by literally encouraging me to jump off bridges, blind jump off rocks into ponds, and jump off cliffs at night into the star and moon reflected Feather River. “Cliff jumping” became my metaphor for moving forward, beyond fear, into possibilities.

2022 was an amazing year of cliff jumping for Andrew and me. In February, he got his dream job and I gave my first ever commencement address at The American Campus’s (TAC – Mauritius) first graduation ceremony.

In March I did my first international trip since Covid, traveling to South Africa to help plan and facilitate the book launch for Writing about Motherhood Honesty on International Women’s Day. My week in SA was filled with TV, radio, podcast, and print interviews. It was a delightful whirlwind!

In May, my bestie and I traveled to France for what was to be a 22 day cruise adventure of the wine region, Paris, Prague, the Danube and Budapest. We ended up with 3 days on the river, then Covid quarantine (I tested positive), then a flight back home. While not the trip we anticipated, we had several lovely days.

In June, my daughter decided to move to a new home with her partner, leaving our Vegas condo unoccupied. Andrew’s job allows him to work remotely, so, within 48 hours, we had decided to move to Las Vegas. On August 25, we did!

In late July, I did a one-on-one coaching workshop on “Releasing the Past and Embracing the Future” that my client challenged me to turn into an in-person workshop. I would plan and facilitate the workshop. She would market and facilitate the venue. By the end of August, the workshop was set for October. We had a small, engaged group and broke even, but we did it! My first in-person coaching workshop.

In October, I brought the publisher (also co-editor, and story author) of Writing about Motherhood Honesty to an academic conference in Minneapolis. It was her first trip to the US! She presented both her dissertation work and we, along with two other US-based story authors, did a panel highlighting motherhood stories.

During this year I was steadily building my small coaching business through Propel Consulting, LLC, providing professional, relational, organizational, personal, educational, and life coaching.

Then the universe gave me some messages to slow down a bit. I partially detached my left retina, requiring surgery. The evening after the surgery, I stumbled twice, and damaged my right knee requiring an ambulance ride to the ER. They gave me a thigh to ankle brace and crutches and told me to use them until I could see a doctor for assessment after the gas bubble in my eye had fully dissipated. That meant at least eight weeks on crutches. As the gas bubble in my eye causes dizziness and nausea when I move and the crutches make me unstable, the last two months of inactivity have given me a lot of time for reflection.

As I think about 2022, I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for a wonderful partner who cliff jumps with me and cares for me when the universe slows me down. I am grateful for wonderful collaborations and friendships with amazing, powerful women committed to doing unique work well.

The words or phrases we choose at the beginning of a year offer tools both to make choices and reflect on choices made. I am grateful for cliff jumping opportunities. On to 2023!

On excitement, anxiety, and moving to Las Vegas

Why do I sometimes find change to be difficult? I’m always excited about new adventures, but there also seems to be some level of anxiety as well.

Today my sweetie and I leave our beautiful apartment in Broomfield Colorado and move to my condo in Las Vegas. I could not be more excited.

I bought the condo a little over a year ago with the intent of retiring there some day. My daughter has been living in the condo but decided to move out and as Andrew is able to work remotely we decided, “What the heck? Let’s move now.” And within two weeks, we are had a plan. I love the condo. I’m very excited to live there, to make it my own in a way that you really can’t with an apartment. Las Vegas is such an easy place to live. Added bonus, I will finally, after five years, again be living in a city with one of my children. My children are very important to me and I am absolutely delighted that I will be so close to my daughter after so many years.

That said, there’s still a level of apprehension about this move today. It still feels bittersweet. I find myself choking up a little bit, being a little bit weepy, but my children would tell you I’m that way anyway. That’s true; I feel things deeply. I’m not really sure what I’m feeling deeply right now though.

I have loved Colorado. It is stunningly beautiful. I have found favorite places here that I will miss, Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Estes Park and my favorite coffee shop, hiking around Stearns Lake in the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Butterfly Pavillion, being close enough to visit Andrew‘s parents in Loveland for Sunday brunch.

I will miss the beauty of the mountains and and the lovely flowers here. I will miss this place.

Living in Colorado has been an adventure. It was here that we navigated the Covid pandemic, including lockdown and almost two years of masking and social distancing.

It was here that I learned to love people again (while still masked and social distanced) by taking a job at Savanah Bee Company in Boulder so I could learn about mead, honey, bees, and reintroduce myself to my love of people. It worked! I had a blast!

It was in here that I met Victorine Mbong Shu virtually and then traveled to South Africa for the launch of our co-edited anthology Writing about Motherhood Honesty. Our collaboration has continued to Victorine’s participation in OSCLG in October and our work on the upcoming sequel Writing about Fatherhood Honesty.

It was in here that, on an impulse, I took a holiday job at Harry & David in Flatiron Crossing Mall because I loved their products and thought it would be fun. At H&D, I met Emma Jugganaikloo, and started my journey collaborating with The American Campus (TAC) in Mauritius. Through this opportunity, I learned how to teach remotely synchronously and asynchronously. I had the pleasure of going to Mauritius to teach in-person for six weeks. I served as Provost and Academic Vice President to help them get the school off the ground. I was the commencement speaker for our first graduating class (bucket list). It was a wonderful adventure!

It was here that I learned for sure that my relationship with Andrew could weather anything. With him is exactly where I want to be. We were together, literally in the same space, negotiating life day-to-day, during Covid and loving each other all the more.

So many wonderful, serendipitous things have happened while we’ve lived in Colorado.

But I’m also ready to move on to my next adventure. I think the anxiety comes from the unknowing. Is this a good decision? Is this the best decision? Will we be happy in Nevada? These are all silly, futuristic questions that have no answer in the now. And when I look back over the list of things that came into my life during the five years I lived in Colorado, none of them were anticipated. So, I step into the anxiety. I step into the 24 foot U-Haul that I will take the first shift driving across country, and I move forward into the next stage of my adventure open and curious about what the future will hold.

Adventures in aging – Part 1: A partially detached retina, problems with my PCP, a trip to the ER, and great care at Desert Springs

I won’t lie. This last week has been rough! It challenged how I see myself, how I see, literally, and my self-concept and beliefs about my capacity. The universe decided to remind me that I’m not a kid any more,… or a young adult,… or even middle aged, as more than half my life is definitely behind me. It also reminded me that my body is strong, resilient, and that sometimes things need extra care and support. I need to stay vigilant.

I woke up one morning and immediately started getting things done, like I do. I collected paperwork for my editing partner, Victorine Mbong Shu, negotiated with a local independent bookstore about doing a book event for Writing about Motherhood Honesty in Wichita in November, communicated with coaching clients, forwarded an invoice for a friend, finalized my ballot for the upcoming election, did laundry, made turkey salad for lunch.

As I was working on the computer, I noticed the vision in my left eye was, well,… strange. I seemed to be looking around my left eye. Upon closer attention, I had a big dark semi-circle from my nose halfway through my vision in my left eye. I couldn’t see anything through it. I realized I had been working like this for a while that morning, looking around part of my vision. Our brains are amazing things!

I thought “Oh crap! Ocular migraine!”, so I took some Rizatripton and Advil and continued about my day hoping to stave off the nasty headache I expected. As I made the turkey salad, I noticed that my spot was not resolving. “Hmmm… This is new.”, I thought “Oooo! What if this isn’t a migraine?”

Since I’m new to Las Vegas, I have new insurance, a new primary care provider, who I have yet to meet (changing that), and as it turned out a lot of red tape to sort out. My primary care provider’s receptionist told me that they would have to verify that I was a client with my insurance provider, have their supervisor review my materials, and approve me as a new client prior to meeting with me… And this could take up to a week… Crickets.

My mind was racing. This seems like it might be serious! Stroke, aneurysm, blood clot, retinal detachment all ran through my mind. “I don’t have a week to wait. I think this may be serious”, I said. “I’m sorry. That’s our policy”, she said. I tried to joke; I tried to persuade; I tried to plead; I tried to bargain. “What should I do?”, I asked. “I can’t advise you. You’re not our client”, she replied. I gave up.

I called Humana, my insurance company and asked what I should do. To make a very long story short, they sent me to the ER. Good decision. They sent me to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center. “Hi, I’m Dr. George”, the doctor said. “Hi, I’m Dr. Deborah”, I replied, joking. We first talked about what kind of doctors we were, our specialties, our training, etc. Through it all, he was assessing my condition. “I think you detached part of your retina”, he said, but I want to be sure. Over the next several hours they ran CT scans, CT scans with contrast, ultrasounds, an EKG, blood tests, etc. They were incredibly thorough. Desert Springs is a teaching hospital, so under strict supervision, there were residents, interns, med students, and nursing students caring for me. I recognize the need for teaching hospitals. Teaching is extremely important and everyone who worked with me was professional and highly skilled.

The tests, confirmed Dr. George’s diagnosis and we headed out for the day with an appointment to see a retina specialist at 7:45 am the next morning. I left feeling very satisfied with my care and more respectful of my body. But she and the universe weren’t done with me yet… (more on that later). Oh, and Dr. George called me the next day to follow up and see how I was doing. I appreciate that kind of care.

The silver streak in this video is the detachment line of my retina. Pretty cool video!