Monday, June 19, 2017

Time Marches On

Its been about 3 1/2 years since my mom passed.  Some days, I still have a huge wave of sadness wash over me, especially when I have a bit of happy news to share.

Or sad news.
Or when I am bored.
Or when I hear a song that reminds me of her.
Or when I see a commercial I know she would hate.
Or when I watch a TV show we used to watch together.
 Or when......

You get the idea.

My mom was my person.  She was the one person who completely got me.  An unspoken comfort.

Safe.  So safe.

It is so hard to put into words the emptiness I feel, and even though time is marching on, some days I feel like the grief is still so raw.  I came here to blog, but find myself completely stuck to accurately put down in words how I feel.

I just miss her.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Becoming a Dad.

In December, my dad was diagnosed with "Advanced Cirrhosis of the liver" and was initially given "weeks to months to live".  Since then, he has quit drinking, has started to take care of himself, and is making a miraculous rebound.  Unbelievable how a man can abuse his body for over 70 years, and in just a matter of a few weeks of good self care, can return to "normal" health.  Though he is pretty much Velcro-ed to the couch, depressed, very low energy, it is nice to see him sober.  The question begs to be answered of why he was unable to quit drinking when my mom was still alive and when there was a family to appreciate.  Especially since quitting drinking for him has been seemingly easy and problem free.

For the first time in, like, ever my dad is becoming....well, a dad.  He has struggled with alcoholism my whole life making booze far more of a priority than family life.  If I ever had a problem, it was Mom I would turn to (unless I had a car question of some kind, and even then, I often sought out other sources).  She may or may not relay whatever whoa I was having to my dad if and when he was sober, but seldom did I converse with my dad on an individual basis.

Just the other day, I was having a stressful, crabby kind of day.  Issues with a potential house I so desperately want to buy was clouding my mood.  My dad is providing me with a little bit of financial help, and on this day we were driving to the bank.  I was crabby.  My irritability did not go unnoticed by Dad, and I told him my troubles.  I told my Dad my troubles.  For the first time in my life.  He listened.  He sympathized.  He reassured.  He provided emotional support doing  everything a kind and patient parent would do.  And it felt good, nice, even natural.  Its so nice to have a sober Dad finally after all these years.  Just wish it could have happened so much sooner.

Perhaps he will live his last few yeas alcohol free as a way to show his true self to us kids.  And just maybe when his time is called to meet my mom up in Heaven, he will enter to live a sober eternity with the love of his life.  Finally giving my mom a life she deserved.



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Introducing Brutus

Oh, its been quite the while since I last blogged; and wow, things have changed so much!  For someone whose life has been stagnant, predictable, maybe even boring, I am amazed at the direction my life has taken.  Its taken a direction I NEVER thought it would go.  And with that cliff hanger, I am not going to address all those changes with this post.

Instead I am going to introduce you to Brutus.

Brutus is a very large, looming, black cloud of anxiety that surrounds me.  Brutus has always been a presence in my life, but he has made himself so much more present particularly after my mom died. April of 2014, Brutus almost won.  Panic attacks, insomnia, constant fear, shakiness, and tears.  Oh the tears.  It was a scary time that prompted me to go to the doctor and give consideration to.....dun dun dun....medication.  Something that I so did not want to do.

Even though I work in Mental Health, have seen the benefits of anti anxiety and anti depressant medications (as well as the harm), it is not something I wanted for me.  But I got the medicine filled and sat it in my cupboard as a way to de-sensitize myself to maybe taking them one day.  I never did.
Instead, I began to practice mindfulness.  That coupled with some great "friend-therapy" sessions and support, helped ease my anxiety somewhat.  It eased it enough to begin to function again.  Tears lessened.  Impending doom lessened.  But Brutus still remained.

And he remains still.  Some days, Brutus is so over powering that he hijacks my thoughts.  Though I KNOW the thoughts are so irrational, the thoughts still come.  Mindfulness tells you to recognize those thoughts, and then let them go.  Brutus holds on with a death grip.  He doesn't just hold on to one negative thought, he holds on to several.  All negative, most are fear based, and many are self loathing.  Some days Brutus is able to convince me that I am worthless, that I can't  do my job well, that I am a burden to those who know me.  He tells me that there is nothing but negativity ahead in my life.  All the "what ifs" come to play with the outcome never pleasing.

When Brutus takes full control, I get "stuck" so much so that I can't even talk about why I am anxious.  Brutus tells me "It doesn't matter why you feel like this because you don't matter".  Brutus tells me that I am "stupid" and "crazy" for feeling this way.  And I really hate feeling that way and begin to think that maybe Brutus is right.  When Brutus is here, it is exhausting to say the least.  Its tiring to constantly battle Brutus; a CONSTANT rational vs irrational internal fight that can be triggered by one word in one sentence that Brutus holds onto.

Brutus has made himself a little more scarce these past few days, and it is so nice without him!  My mind is more at peace. Freer.  Brutus continues to whisper negative thoughts, but they are more manageable and less tiresome.  I'm not entirely sure what happened, and maybe I am just in a better head space that is not allowing Brutus to be overpowering, but I will take it.

Right now, I am able to push Brutus down when he tries to creep up.   The "What-ifs" are met with "What will be, will be" or "we will deal with that when/if it happens".  And I remember to TRUST.  Trust that where I am is where I am supposed to be.  Remember my blessings (and they are so plentiful).  Remember to choose love over fear (something I struggle oh so hard to do).

So for now, I will continue breathing and continue trusting.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fun Finds Up the North Shore

So the other day my friend and I took a drive up the "North Shore".  What a fun treasure that was!  I've lived here my whole life, and I have been up the North Shore several times, yet I discovered a whole new undiscovered (by me) world!

Nearly halfway between Duluth and Canada lives a little town called Silver Bay and there is a whole lot to see and do in Silver Bay.  Who knew!?

The first exciting fun find was giant chairs!



I have always wanted to sit in giant chairs, and there they were just calling our name on the side of the freeway.  So we took that as a sign and got our photo opp.  How can you not smile sitting in giant chairs?  When we were leaving, an older couple was pulling up to also sit in the giant chairs.  The excited smile on the lady's face described exactly what we were feeling.

Next we drove up this mountainous terrain called Palisadehead.  This was quite the fun find! High up on rocky cliffs gazing down at the Caribbean looking Lake Superior was breathtaking in every sense of the word.


I had to crouch kind of low to the ground to keep my bearings and my sanity.  It was scary being up so high with no real protection in between you and the ledge where you would plummet to the bottom of the rocky cliff into the frigid and quite rocky water below.  When we were done, I had the Jello legs.  But it was well well worth it.

Then we headed to Black Beach where we were in search of black rocks.  Instead we found nothing but a bunch of NO TRESPASSING signs.  They were every few feet, clearly marked, with a "Violators will be Prosecuted" warning.  We decided to risk it.  We ventured out of the car down a path toward the beach.  We hear a vehicle slowly approaching.  And what do you know, its a cop.

I start kind of running back to the car and the cop.  Heart is pounding.  Cop asks, "Having fun?"  Our reply, "We are trying to".  He questions, "Trying to?"  We explain we were trying to get to the Black Beach and asked if he knew how we could get there.  His response was "Not legally.  What do those signs say?"  We hung our heads in shame as we solemnly answered, "No Trespassing......"  However, the cop then directed us to follow him while he showed us the correct, though still illegal, path to get to the Black Beach.  I thanked him for not arresting us.

On our way home, we really wished we would have answered differently when he asked us what the sign said.  After having a significant conversation in English, we wish we would have answered, "Senor, no hablo Ingles".  Though funny to us, it may not have been funny to the cop so we were pleased with our result.

The beach was different than we expected.  Still cool.  A beach full of taconite, which gives it the black color for which it is named.  We didn't stay long, but just took a glimpse since we were there illegally.  We were both so angry that someone (mining company) could claim a whole cool beach for themselves and not share it with the public.  How can that be?!

Our fun find adventure ended with a trip to the candy store!  What a sweet finish for an awesome day.  Can't wait to return next year to see what other hidden gems await us Up the North Shore.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Family Dinner

July 24th would have been my parents' 49th wedding Anniversary.  My dad was having a hard time around this date (even though they never spent their Anniversarys together).  Still, it was another milestone.  Another first.  Another absence noticed.

So, we decided to have a family dinner out at a restaurant with the whole family, including significant others and Dorie.  Even when Mom was alive, we never all got together at a restaurant before.  She would have enjoyed that.  Days prior to the dinner, I was kind of dreading it knowing it would likely be just a drunken dinner filled with anger, sadness, and worry about how the drunks are going to get home safely.  Well, to my surprise, dinner was very pleasant.  Few memories were shared as well as some laughs.  It was nice.  Nicer still that Dad bought all of our meals.

There was one very noticeable empty chair.  Like for real.  There were 7 of us all together (Jim brought his girlfriend), and we were seated at a table for 8.  So there was a very prominent empty chair, and it was right next to me.  Right where Mom would have been sitting.  Or maybe she was sitting there.  Maybe the chair was empty as a reminder that even though she was not there physically with us, she was there in spirit.  At least that is what I would like to believe.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Soundtrack of Life

I was just thinking of some of those songs that hold some meaning in my life.  Those songs that immediately illicit a strong memory or emotion or that just seem to speak to me in some meaningful way.  Below is the list of songs that I would put on my soundtrack to my life.  I'm trying not to judge my soundtrack because most of the songs are just fanciful songs with not a really deep meaning, but just a reminder of a time or place.

The soundtrack of My Life:

Nobody by Sylvia.  Its a country song one hit wonder.  But it is the probably the biggest song that represents my childhood.  It brings me back to my Aunt Bonnie, innocence, and fun.

Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  Another Country song that represents more of my childhood, fun sing offs with my Mom.  Fun memories.

Straight Up by Paula Abdul (and the whole Forever Your Girl album).  I'm entering my teenage years now.  Figuring out what I like.  Straying from the country music I was raised on.  Learning my own likes and dislikes.

Centerfold by The J. Geils Band.  Brothers.  This song reminds me of my teenage brothers and carries with it a fun memory when they put the RECORD in my room as a way to tease me because I didn't want it.  I put it back in their room.  The returned it to my room.  With a heavy sigh I threw it back into their room.  It was an endless battle of who would end up in possession of that record.  Not sure whatever the outcome was.

La Isla Bonita by Madonna (and the whole True Blue Album).  This song reminds me of my childhood best friend, Mindy.  Hours of listening to this album and singing this, our favorite song.

Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.  Actually this period in my life could have its whole own soundtrack.  This song is the umbrella over it all.  It represents the time in my life when I witnessed the abuse of my friends and neighbors for years.  All of the songs listed below,  I listened to with the mom, Patty, but Cats in The Cradle brings me back immediately.  It later had significance when my brother lost his girlfriend to drugs and this song was meaningful to him as well.
          *I am a rock by Simon and Garfunkle
          *Minnesota by Northern Light
          *Hooray For Hazel by Tommy Roe
          *Feet Up Pat Him on the Po-Po by Guy Mitchell
          *Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas

I will Wait by Mumford and Sons.  This song was on the radio throughout my mom's illness.  Was the first song I heard in the car on the way to the hospital the day she died, and was the first song on the radio leaving the hospital after she died.  I took it as a message that she will wait for me in heaven.

Sissy's song by Alan Jackson.  The song we played at my Mom's funeral.

Say Something by A Great Big World.  I turned the radio off for months after my mom died. This is the song that did it to me.

Timshel by Mumford and Sons.  This song brought music back into my life.  It was a very healing song for me.  I listened to it on repeat for weeks.  It helped me see that I "am not alone" and reinforced that I have the greatest friends surrounding and supporting me.

Brave by Sara Bareilles.  Whenever this song comes on the radio, I like to think my mom is telling me she wants to See me "Be Brave".  I'm trying.

Try By Pink.  On those days that I want to just stay in bed, this song reminds me that "you gotta get up and try".

Your Song by Elton John.  A very meaningful song to me.  My friend "serenades" me with this song on some of our drives.  I now think of this as "My Song".  In some of the darkest points, this song helps remind me that we have purpose and can impact those around us.  Truly a song with a deeper meaning than I can't accurately put down in words on this blog.

So, as of now, this is the soundtrack of my life.  Hoping the next album is full of songs of hope, happiness and love.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

My New Hobby

Earlier this month, I bought myself a new "toy", and let me tell you, its been fun!

Its a reminder of what really matters.

A feeling of connectedness.

Peace.