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WELCOME TO GET IT DOWN PAT!

Hello! Welcome to Get It Down Pat! This is more than just a website or a blog. It’s been designed to be a source of information, a place to find help, and a connection to a like-minded community, made up of individuals who want to improve three important areas of their life. I call them “THE THREE Cs”:

CREATIVE living
CARE for self and surroundings, and
CAREER at home. 

As a creative type that’s been around the block, I’ve always wanted a way to share my life experience and everything I’ve learned along the way with others. Get It Down Pat has become my outlet for doing just that.

Feel free to explore the website. Right now, most (if not all) of what I’m supplying is in written form. But in the future, there will be other means of communicating with you — namely podcasts and videos. That’s because I’ve come to realize that there are many ways of learning and many ways of “consuming” content. It’s not one size fits all. I hope to eventually present all three modes of communication, so that no one feels uncomfortable or left out, and as time goes on, I hope to expand on ways for us to become more of a community as well. But for now, expect mainly written articles on numerous topics and subjects that will help you improve your life and get creative with your way of living.

The beauty of this endeavor is that it will be ever-changing, ever-growing, and ever-improving — exactly what I’m hoping for you as well. Together, we are on a quest to “find” ourselves again, take care for ourselves, and improve the various aspects of our lives. Many of us have lost our own identities as we lived our lives in service for others. My hope is that this will be an opportunity for us all — myself included — to revamp our lives and restore our inner sense of self . This is our space and our chance to learn more to live better.

That’s this website in a nutshell. But, if you’d like to read more about how this all came about, keep reading below for the whole story!

MY "GET IT DOWN PAT" STORY

Steve and Pat .                                        Pat and Steve in the hospital

Steve and I enjoying each other’s company in 2006.               In the hospital on the day of Steve’s stem-cell transplant in 2013.

 At 9:15 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, my husband, Steve, died from complications due to his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  

At the time, while I would have told you that I “knew” my life was about to change, I really had no clue of the extent.

I knew that I would miss Steve. I did miss Steve. I still miss Steve. I grieve for him every day. I’ll never stop missing Steve.

But I didn’t realize how much more deeply and drastically my life — every single little aspect of my life — would change: How we as a family would fend for ourselves, financially as well as emotionally. Where we would live. How we would live. How my time would be spent. What actions I would take. What my thoughts would be and what they would revolve around and be concerned about. Everything changed.

Long before Steve died, I knew I wanted to create some sort of online place where I could do what I loved — create visual and written content — and share it, for the betterment of others. I also dreamed of doing so as a source of viable income for myself and my family, while making more time for us as well. With strong creative skills and a passion for both writing and graphic design, I had already been working in publishing and marketing for decades, mainly via my own at-home business. But along the way, I developed a strong desire to create an online “publication.” To me, such a vehicle would be the perfection of truly doing what I loved — and getting paid to do it — while doing it on my own terms, under my own direction. For me, that would be the dream career.

By 2009, I was studying to be a life coach, with the hopes of eventually incorporating my new coaching skills into an online platform. I dreamt of creating a community brought together by topics near and dear to my own heart: self care and beauty, creativity and creative living, and having an at-home career.

But other “priorities” always got in the way. First and foremost, there was my creative business. It was and continues to be the main source of my income. It’s how I keep a roof over my children’s head and food in their mouths. Despite the Great Recession, 2010 had been the most financially successful year of my business thus far. It didn’t seem to make sense to pour a lot of time, energy, or focus into a “potential” business, when I could be spending those resources on something that was already real and tangible. 

Beyond that, there was my devotion to my family. There were my kids — a son and daughter, still fairly young at that time and in need of their mom for countless reasons and things. They were the primary reason I was working at home. I wanted to be with my children and watch them grow up.

And then there was my dear husband, Steve. We met in 2005 (after my divorce to my first husband in 2003), were engaged a year later, and got married in 2008. He was the love of my life. We were, as I like to say, attached at the hip. We were truly partners in life. We did virtually everything together.

One important and meaningful step we took as a couple was the purchase of a vacation home in 2007 on a lake up in Wisconsin. We hired a management company to rent it out to help it pay for itself. We’d go up there — sometimes just me and Steve, and sometimes with the kids — to tend to the home and to enjoy it.  This house was an attempt on my part to help Steve make a dream of his come true. He had always wanted a house on a lake.

Truth be told, I loved that house just as much if not more than he did. It was always so peaceful — surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of the Wisconsin wilderness. Every time we went up there, all of my worries would melt away. Owning that home and the time we spent there made for some amazing “warm and fuzzy” memories that I will never forget.

Then, there was my father. My mother passed away in late 2009, and on Christmas Eve, we moved my elderly father into our home. As the years went by, his health quickly deteriorated, and I became more and more his caregiver.

And then, in 2013, Steve got sick. We aren’t really sure exactly when the tumor in his leg first appeared. But earlier that same year, maybe as early as January, Steve mentioned to me as we were lying in bed, getting ready to fall asleep, that his leg was hurting. “It feels like it’s in the bone,” he said to me. Ironically, I exclaimed, “Don’t say that! That sounds like cancer!” Then we both fell asleep and forgot about it.

A few months later, Steve was saying again that his leg was hurting. After suffering from the pain for most of April and May, I talked him into seeing an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor assumed it was bursitis — but as we eventually learned the hard way, it was not. Long story short, Steve was finally diagnosed in early July as having diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 57 years old. I was 49.

Steve was a fighter, and he wasn’t going to take this diagnosis lying down. He went through several months of chemotherapy. It didn’t work. He then had a stem-cell transplant, courtesy of his brother, who was a perfect match as a donor. From the transplant, Steve developed a common but often deadly side effect called “graft versus host disease,” also known as GVHD. In an effort to save his life from that, the doctors had to switch up his medication and give him additional meds. The efforts halted the GVHD but allowed the lymphoma tumor, which had been receding, to come back.

In the meantime, the use of all those medications had damaged his heart. Once the doctors learned of the return of the tumor, chemo had to be started again. Since they were concerned about Steve’s heart and extremely low blood pressure, he spent an extra day — our 6th wedding anniversary — in the hospital. The nurses brought us a cake so that we could celebrate.

When they left the room, Steve began to cry. It was only the second time I had seen him cry since his diagnosis. He was crying, he said, because the hospital was the last place we should have been celebrating our anniversary. But he was also crying because he realized he had developed congestive heart failure. And perhaps for the first time in this long fight, he was crying because he fully realized he might be coming to the end of his life.

We so often talk about people being “brave” as they knowingly approach the end of their life. But — he really, really was brave, through it all. No doubt about it.

Of course, only four weeks later, that fateful day arrived. The battle was over. Steve was dead at the age of 58.

There have been other challenges too since that day, such as helping my son with autism make the transition from high school to college, and probably most challenging of all, supporting and aiding my daughter, who became addicted to heroin while her step-father and I were stuck in “isolation” (when we had to live in a hotel and stay away from the general public to prevent Steve from getting an infection). 

Fortunately, as I write this story, both of my kids are doing extremely well — meeting those challenges head-on and succeeding. My son entered the International Honor Society for two-year colleges in 2018. In 2019, my daughter was successfully in recovery and free from the use of heroine for two full years. She also decided to enter college at the same time as my son and is doing well both with school and with her current job, which is in the same area as her major — marketing. They both have creative minds, and as such, they are following in the footsteps of their creative parents. (Beyond my own artistic bend, their father is a photographer, and their step-dad was also a graphic designer as well as a fine artist.)

Beyond everything I’ve already mentioned, there was and is my at-home business. Publishing, advertising, and marketing are, in general, very stressful, deadline-driven professions. The energy and effort needed to reach those deadlines on time can be extremely tiresome. When I was interviewing for my very first editorial position, my future boss warned me, “This career is not as glamorous as it seems.” And boy, was she right! 

Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at managing my time, but it can still be a challenge. And the late nights, the lack of sleep, and the lack of attention to my well-being often takes a serious toll on me — especially as I’m working all the harder now to make up the income we lost when Steve died. Can you imagine half of the yearly income you relied on as a family suddenly being gone? If you can — welcome to my world.

My at-home career has not been without its successes. For the most part, I’ve loved being an entrepreneur and all the benefits that came with being my own boss. It has given me flexibility, it has given freedom, and most of all, it has given the ability to be at home with my two children as they grew up. 

This year, in 2019, I added a real estate business to the mix, and as I’m typing this story, I’ve realized my most financially successful month ever in all of my career — grossing close to $11,000 in income. 

But that income didn’t come without a price. My ability to take care of myself has been deteriorating at a rate that coincides and is exponential with the amount of income I’m making.  

So here I am, at 55 — feeling burnt out. So much so, that after 30 years of working my own business in some way, shape, or form — something I have felt blessed to be able to do — I actually started considering — and even applying for — full-time employment. Call it a moment of weakness. Call it a moment of fear. Or perhaps it was even a moment of reality setting in. 

That’s when I decided that this blog just couldn’t wait anymore. I realized that this dream has been on the back burner for far too long, and if the time wasn’t right before, well… now, I truly don’t have any excuses left NOT to do it. I’ve already had the Facebook business page for Get It Down Pat up and running for years, but with no blog content — the meat and potatoes of it all — tied to it. How silly has that been! So — No more back burner for this blog. The time has come!

And you know what? Steve would have been so proud of me for finally making this blog a reality. Even after his death, he’s still my right-hand man. I always feel his love, his encouragement, and his support.

As you know, this online content platform is called “Get It Down Pat.” It’s a catchy wordplay on one of my nicknames. But the truth is, I haven’t always gotten it down pat. That’s something I and all of us have to work on daily. By the same token, I’ve managed to learn a lot over the years — important things that I want to share with you, so that you can change your life, for the better.  

I’ve always said that smart people learn from their own mistakes — but even smarter people learn from the mistakes of others. I’m here so you can learn from my failures as well as from my successes. And I’m sure there’s a lot you can teach me too, and I’m eager to learn. 

I’ll be providing content initially in writing, but I hope eventually (and sooner rather than later) to provide it in all online forms — written blogs, visual videos, and audible podcasts. I’ll also be creating a private Facebook group — to be known as The Better Getters — where you can gather with others as a community to talk about what you learn, while sharing with others what they can learn from you. 

My life has been a hell of journey — from being given away at birth to having my husband taken away from me much too soon. That’s my story. We all have one, and you have one, too. So come join me on this crazy ride called life! Let’s learn more to live better — and let’s do it together. Welcome to Get It Down Pat!

ONE MORE THING. . .

Since you’re here, I do need to let you know that throughout this blog, you will find affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I in return might be compensated for your actions. However, you will never pay more for clicking on an affiliate link and making a purchase, and in some cases, thanks to deals and coupons with my affiliate partners, you actually might pay less than the typical full price.

To stay compliant, you’ll see statements and links to my disclaimers and disclosures throughout my blog that explain this more fully. To read those disclaimers and disclosures now, just click HERE. Thank you for being an important part of my own way of living better! I hope I can help you live better too.