Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I have learned thus far...

The firsts in the first year after a death SUCK.

Mother's Day was one of the hardest. It just gut punches you to see that card section. I avoided it at all costs.
Heck who am I kidding?? Every holiday without you is difficult to navigate.

Grief is impossible at times to journey through. What I have learned is that you have to roll with the punches. You sit down, no matter where you are...take a deep breath, let those tears fall, and once they subside... you pick yourself off the ground, dust yourself off, and move forward.
Honor those moments.
Don't deny it...its okay.
It is part of the process.

The missing and longing does not subside...just one more day together...just one more laugh...just one more...ANYTHING

The new normal will eventually come. I know this...But it will forever be different. You must honor the difference in the moment and create your new...trying not  to get overwhelmed, if at all possible, by the stark difference that is there

A friend of mine sent this and I love what it encapsulates:

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I am a different person since you departed our presence.

I am struggling with this whole adulting thing and am missing the guidance you provided me, the opportunity to bounce ideas off of you and know that your feedback was always strong and important.

I am struggling with having to be brave and all of this, at times on my own. It feels solitary at times and is different. Many folks have reached out and I am grateful for their love and support...but in the dark of the night...when I wake up in the middle of the night...I sometimes still feel my hand on your shoulder and my hand on yours while you lay there...and it is jarring to me...

Life is filled with uncertainty at times and I am finding that I am having to trust my instincts so much more without you.

I am finding myself reaching out more...to be closer to many family members i have neglected in my past. Life was always this or always that...can't do this...can't do that because i have to do this...And besides You were always good at being my information line on what was going on in the family, both near and far.

My birthday and our anniversary was not the same. There was no early morning phone call singing me HAPPY BIRTHDAY off key. There was only silence and apologies for all you would do for all of us at almost every holiday or life moment. You were so good at keeping up with all of the card sending. I can never emulate all of that with everything else I juggle in my life. I will try to do my very best, but it will always pale.

We struggle to pick up the pieces...we feel the hole...feel the empty space your departure left us with...i have never experienced it quite this way... even with my four grandparents deaths. This one strikes so much deeper and is taking me to a place I was not prepared to have to navigate.

I am sad for all of the things you have missed going on in our lives so far. How cancer robbed this for all of us...and for that I still get angry. But I feel that anger subsiding thankfully.

I appreciate the example you set for all of us and I know that this is something I CAN EMULATE. Try to be as positive an influence for those around me. When the going gets tough...
Stay the course.
Keep the Faith.
Stay Positive.

I am so very close to finishing my checklist of everything I need to do for you...your burial will be the final check-off I think...I know you will be very pleased.
I will honor you in Medora. On our special butte.
We will honor you in Minnesota and celebrate your birthday and celebrate YOU...
Your life.
The impact you made on each of us.
The love you gave us all so freely.
With deep love and reverence.
We will reminisce.We will laugh. I am sure we will cry.
But it will be okay.

I hope you are looking down on it all and smiling....I pray that we have made you proud and that you can feel what an honor it has been to be your son, your friend and my confidante. I miss that the most.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A little piece of truth

And wasted your breath on.
It is so much better to listen...
Reconnect with your inner spirit and inner flow.
And it is important to jut STOP.
Figure out time to stop and regroup.

You don't always have to have something to say. How many times in my life did I feel like I had to be the life of the party with the struggle to say something witty, or profound, or trend setting. How much nonsense this all seems right now these days...And the older I get, the more I find the value of silence. It is okay to just sit in silence and regroup and recollect and the older I get and the stronger I get in my own skin...it becomes a matter of energy...truly wasting energy on things that are not yours to truly worry about.

So many times in our lives we struggle with others around us. Struggle with their choices. Struggle with why they did this or why they said that or what the hell were you thinking? We gossip. We gloat. We say that they are making the wrong choice. But as you grow older, you hopefully come to realize the nonsense of these thoughts because at the true core of this entire issue..."Not your band of monkeys, friend."

It is not your place to butt in.
It is not your road trip to take....
It is  THEIRS.
It is their life to pursue.

You can offer your thoughts but be prepared for the response...esescially if they did not ask for it...
And think about all the ENERGY it takes to live your life and EVERY one elses?
Work on silencing your mind and heart and find true happiness friend.
Work on energy preservation and it will be a kinder path...

Carry on my fellow sojourners...
You got this....


Monday, June 26, 2017

It's all in here and not out there...

Image result for present over perfect
I am still working my through the book 
"Present over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. 

Reading this book is so slow going because every page seems to have something so profound that I am finding so much to comment on about it. Every page turns or explodes light bulbs for me. My highlighter is going crazy...I cannot recommend this book enough for you all. It speaks to me on so many different levels. It is my most sincere hope that it provides enlightened moments for you ass well. BUY IT TODAY!!! You will not be disappointed!

Niequist writes, in the chapter entitled It's All Right Here,  " I had a conversation with a fascinating man on a ferry...He told me about how passionate he was about traveling and speaking, how much he loved spreading the message of his work to people all over the world, and how the heart of it is love: Loving people wherever he met them, giving them the best of his energy, and his attentiveness. It sounded amazing."
She goes on, " And then he told me the next part of the story, which is that he became so deeply skilled at making people feel loved in an instant, and along the way he lost the ability to demonstrate actual, real love to the woman and the children who were waiting at home. Making someone feel loved in an instant is so much easier than showing someone your love over and over, day in and day out. He had become the master at quick, intense, emotional connection, and with each experience of it, he found himself less able to connect in the daily, trudging, one-after-the-other kind of ways....the quick love cost him enduring love, and it wasn't worth it."
She writes, " The pastor loves to solve other's problems, but doesn't come home with enough energy in the tank for his family's everyday problems."
She profoundly continues, "It is better to be loved than admired. It is better to be truly known and seen and taken care of by a small tribe than adored by strangers who think they know you in a meaningful way. We know that's true. But many of us, functionally have gotten the math wrong in one season or another. And many of us were utterly unprepared for the true intimacy required for a deep, vulnerable marriage...but quick charm is like sugar- it rots us. It winds us up and leaves us jonesing, but it doesn't feed us. Only love feeds us. And love happens over years, repetitive motions, staying, staying, and staying. Showing up again. Coming clean again, being seen again. That's how love is built."

It's all in here, not out there, my friends.

And boy am I guilty of all of this...it is my husband and family who suffer in regards to ALL OF THIS! The best way to describe this is the misconceptions of a career in the education field. And none of this is meant to be read as a negative, it just requires a reshift of thought so that your family does not suffer. But you have to figure it out before it is too late.

The students of today are a different breed. The best way I can describe them is a group of bright, vibrant, troubled, creative, super talented, emotionally roller-coastered, thoughtful, frustrating crew...but also beams of vampirish light. I have jokingly said that my kiddos, at times,  are much like what I would imagine a vampire to be like...if you allow it all to overwhelm you, they can very easily suck the lifeblood out of you.

You emotionally give all you can to your students, to your job, to making sure you are as successful as possible in your work life and with your work family...And then you are left with nothing to give emotionally to your family and important members of your friendship pool. You begin trying to figure out how to juggle the drain of the job and all that entails and rat race with reminding yourself that you need to make sure those important to you don't get the shaft in regards to life and love together. And yet the slap in the face comes and you realize you are still so so SO GUILTY of all of this lack of connection.

It becomes a juggle. It becomes a prioritization of responsibilities and boundaries as to how much you will allow...being able to leave work AT work and not bring it home. Being open and aware that quality time together in regards to family time is a constant must. It should be your first thought and not a minor third or fourth or fifth thought...Making sure that your loved ones feel appreciated and loved...you can say the words "I love you" only so much, but when you come home emotionally drained because of all the energy it takes to make sure your work performance is where you think it needs to be, staying on top of deadlines, dealing with the stresses of work and all that entails, you don't have anything else left to give the most important people in your life. And then it becomes a question of failure to be more, be present, be emotionally connected...truthfully connected.

Actions are much better than just saying the words and thinking that they mean the same...
They don't...

The struggles are real, folks.
I fear not being enough.
I fear not being strong enough.
I fear I am the one who is not emotionally prepared for this roller-coaster.

I must find the balance.
To set the boundaries.
To set the important parameters of my life and being enough for my husband and the rest of my family.
I have failed over and over.
But I keep coming back to this moment, to this discovery, and it is my hope that my loved ones will stay with me on this ride and help me figure out my way through this maze.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

You gotta do this for YOU.


How we forget this sometimes.
There is only one life to be lived.
No definition provided on how it should be lived.

I always remind my kiddos of this...
If someone is trying to define your life...it's not theirs. 
Thank them for the feedback.
Thank them for their concern.
But remind them...
This is something I have to live. Something I must honor. and then live that life as passionately as you possibly can.
With strength.
With drive and focus.
With great intention.

The shoulda, coulda, wouldas should never show their faces at the end of the race we call life...
LIVE FULLY and BEAUTIFULLY.

Live for YOU and for YOU alone first and foremost.
Once you have mastered a semblance of that, welcome others into the fold.
Open the door to the possibilities and pursue love.

I see this and am always reminded of the saying RUPAUL says at the end of each Drag Race episode...

She says, 
"If you can't love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love anybody else."


Can I get an AMEN up in here?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The sparkle of the fireflies...

Image result for campfire
A couple of weekends ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and got "back to nature". Justin and I joined dear friends and went camping. We headed north up around Eureka Springs, AR and found this primitive camping ground. It was wonderfully run by this super sweet family.

I originally had been not necessarily lamenting about going camping, being that I am more of a "glamper", but perhaps a little tentative would be a better phrasing option. I was getting angsty about it and actually wound myself up a little too much over it...

I wracked my brain to try and remember when the last time was that I had actually tented out. I could not remember and it seemed that it was probably back in my teens when I was still in Boy Scouting.
A long time ago none-the-less.

Yet looking back over the short weekend time we spent together...
So many beautiful moments...
Not putting the cover on the top of the tent and the top of the tent is mesh...you can see where this is going...sleeping under the stars...immense and breath-taking. The moon was SO FULL and bright!!

Sitting around the campfire, the smell of smoke and warmth. The perfect Smore's concoction. Not burnt, just the right color of crisp brown.

The best part of the evening was stepping away from the campfire and walking into the darkness. All of a sudden the air became sparkly. FIRE FLIES EVERYWHERE!! And as we opened our focus to take in the world around us, they were literally everywhere. The trees, the air, the world was glizty and glittery. So glamorous and it was like the area was putting on a fabulous performance just for us...with no overture...just silence...maybe the occasional frog croak...nature's overture and grand gesture to each of us.

The silence...
A little jarring at first...but once you give in to the moment and relax...it was actually so wonderful...I was not prepared for it and that is always for the best. I am so thankful for the persistence of my husband to keep me on the right path towards these moments.

And I left my cell phone at HOME. HUGE for me...
And I LOVED IT!!!

We went kayaking. canoeing the next day and it was just nice floating down the river...filled with rock crevasses and GREEN foliage. The rush of thee water underneath my kayak. The rhythm of the paddling. The water was so crystal clear and could see the rocks at the bottom and fish below you swimming...We spent time on a rock beach and took in the sun and drank beers and ate sandwiches, fresh fruit, and dill pickle potato chips. It as awesome.

Here is what I learned from the experience:
You have to allow for the quiet moments. You HAVE TO! I am horrible at this...allowing myself to be quiet. Allowing myself to quiet my mind and soften the hard edges of my focus, if at all. I am so wound up and on the go all of the time. My mind is always on the go, mentally trying to figure out the next step, breaking down my experiences and attempting to try and find meaning in what is being said at all times. It is exhausting at times...It makes those quiet moments so jarring and odd for me.
Yet in my life I have to learn that it is in the quiet moments that I truly will begin to hear what I need to hear.
Making the time to allow for quiet and solitude to see the sparkle of the fire flies!!!
Getting out of the race sometimes to just press pause and enter into the silence and reconnect with my inner hum of my heart and soul.

Because if I would allow the rat race in my head to get the best of me and let the angst talk me away from the life experiences, I would have missed out on this glorious adventure and all the sights.

And I constantly say that I need to get back to this...
Constantly remind myself the take a break to regroup.
And this is difficult for me.
I am thankful for summer reminders.
If only I could remember this when the going gets going.

Make today a great day, my fellow sojourners.
You got this!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back to life...

In a recent article from O magazine, Sheryl Sandberg wrote a wonderful article on grief entitled, Back to Life.  She shares her experience dancing with grief and how to climb out of it...

Here are some of the excerpts that really moved me...

A widow wrote her and said, "Try as I might, I can't come up with a single thing that I know that will help you."

How true!!

Each one of us, as I am learning, goes through this process differently and experiences it differently and you just have to go THROUGH it...not sitting down and letting it just take you over...but you also have to rely on your own personal strength and don't feel a need to rush it. One of the things that I have found that is helping me is to just honor the feelings and emotions as they come, let them wash over me, and letting them subside...and they always do for me, which I am thankful for.

I am so very lucky to have been able to rely on the shoulders of my husband, my father and step-mother, my sister Elizabeth, and yes even my step-dad and sister... though we all have a different grief journey to take... and so many wonderful loving friends who sadly have gone through this in the past few years...

I have relied on the knowledge of my therapist, which I would never deny to anyone that I needed a therapist to go through this...

and lots and lots of reading to navigate my way through to where I am today...

Not out of the undercurrent as of yet, but navigating...

Sandberg also provides 6 benchmarks that I love and wanted to share with you...

1. YOU CAN GROW IN RESILIENCE
She writes, "I hurt...Those feelings would need to run their course, and I would be vulnerable. But my beliefs and actions could shape how quickly I moved through grief and where it took me, and seeing me work through it would show my family they'd be okay too. At first it seemed unimaginable, but planting seeds of resilience and knowing they would eventually yield emotional stamina gave me hope."

2. AVOID THE THREE P'S
a. Personalization: "A belief that we are at fault for what's happened. Not everything that happens is because of us."
b. Pervasiveness: "Thinking that a traumatic event would color everything always. Getting back to our routines helped remind us of what we still had and pulled us into the present, where we could forget grief, if just for moments at a time."
c. Permanence: "For months, I felt that crushing despair would be my lifelong condition. The thought of forever without (my loved one) was paralyzing. I found that if I stopped fighting those moments, they passed quickly. The fog of intense pain began to lift now and then, and it struck me that dealing with grief was like building personal endurance- you discover strength you didn't know you had.

3. TELL OTHERS WHAT YOU NEED
I am SOOOOOOOOO not good with this at times. I have been dealing with my own vulnerability and reaching out for help or a listening ear is not always easy at times for me. 

Sandberg speaks of the awkwardness folks feel during these times of someone else's grief and how silence can be debilitating. Yet she speaks of the importance of acknowledging other's pain and grief and be willing to ask the tough questions. I have found that by getting my grief out on this blog, it helps me to process and in turn, gives others a weighing mechanism as to where I am emotionally and physically in my journey. I think it also helps those down the line to have followed my journey and in turn they can take golden nuggets of knowledge I have found to maybe help them when the time comes to begin this journey.
And for others to know that it is OK to not say anything, but to honor the grief other's may be feeling and to ask folks how they are TODAY.
A powerful statement she shares: "I began by describing the void and how easy it was to get stuck in it. I wrote that I wanted to choose meaning over numbness and desolation."

4. FOLLOW THE PLATINUM RULE: Treat others as THEY want to be treated. 
"Nothing makes you more aware of the value of this maxim than being in pain yourself, which in turn can make you more attuned to others' needs in the future"

5. LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK
It is important to get your feelings out, whether it is talking to a good friend or journaling/blogging about it.  "Being kind to ourselves is an antidote to the cruelty we sometimes self-inflict on ourselves for not being perfect, and writing offers a powerful tool for honing this skill. Turning feelings into words helps us process and overcome adversity. Journaling became a key part of my recovery, letting me sort through my overwhelming feelings and my all-too-many-regrets."

She continues, "A traumatic experience is a seismic event that shakes our belief in a just world, robbing us of our sense that life is controllable, predictable, and meaningful."

Victor Frankl wrote, "When we are no longer able to change a situation...we are challenged to change ourselves." 

PROFOUND...and difficult...but necessary.

6. RECLAIM JOY
She concludes, "I had gained strength just by surviving. And it is the irony of all ironies to experience tragedy and come out feeling more grateful. Alongside my sadness, I found a greater appreciation for what I used to take for granted- family, friends, and simply being alive. Tragedy can lead us to develop new and deeper relationships and to find greater meaning. The death of one self can free us to imagine a new one."

What I know for sure is gratitude I feel towards the wonderful family and friends I have reconnected with and found a deeper relationship with each of them through all of this. I am so grateful for all of the love and support I have felt over the months and hope that I can repay it when the time comes.
My hope is to find the greater meaning in all of this...
I am not fully there as of yet but can see the great depth of value in all of Sandberg's  ideas and points.
I know it is still the journey I must continue to take...the hill I must climb in order to get to the top and take in the view...
To leave all of it at the summit and come down the other side a new soul, deeper in thought and relationships, and stronger in my core.
That is my hope anyway.


Monday, June 19, 2017

True Kindness....




This world is so CRAZY these days.
It truly is becoming a mean world.
Filled with hate.
Filled with sadness.
Filled with zero accountability for actions towards others.

But I love this saying...
Surely each of us can find a way to be a voice in the darkness.
One voice will lead to two.
Two to three.
And so on and so on.

But you have to continue to embrace kindness.
Embrace genuine acts of love.
Embrace genuine personality.
Who cares if others are different than you? Embrace that too!!!

It is our differences that make us unique and exciting.
Why do we embrace fear and ridicule difference?
How bland life is without a mere shade of color...

I pray for the mending to begin SOON!!

I love this phrase, "with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally."

I say YES to this.
I say BRING IT ON.
I think I can do this...but I need help.

"The broken world waits in the darkness for the light that is you."