Grace, even when perspectives don’t make sense…

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I am beginning to believe that I am just going to have to offer myself endless amounts of grace as I  navigate my way through these months ahead. It is so strange to me how I can be one hundred percent present, in a moment and what is happening, and still mentally aware (almost painfully aware) of what life looked like this time last year. This sort of thing began naturally around Thanksgiving, the time we separated, and though my eyes are firmly planted straight ahead, this time last year comes and steals my breath.

Of course, as the W2’s come rolling in, I am reminded that I was working three jobs and still only making min. credit card payments, homeless and had nothing to show for myself. Though the times are happening less and less often, there are moments when I get into my car and I am reminded of what it felt like to try to sleep there, and to only have items that fit in the back, to wear. As struggle through the financial repercussions of an unwise home purchase with broke us bare, coupled with the separation which broke us to the point of utter devastation, there are times when my lungs feel so tight and I wonder if we will ever be out from under this time last year. It is in everything…

It is in tomorrow, as I plan my Valentines Day tradition for Gen, and once again carry out what I’ve done in years past for Chw. This time last year is the giant that hovers above me as I am unable to escape its shadow. I am reminded of how I can no longer look at my daughter and say “I do this for you every year”, because I robbed her of that this time last year. Though my husband does love me and should not be required to prove it, it screams in the quiets of my memory how I poured out my love to him in a letter, last Valentines Day, and my heart for our marriage while his response was only that he did not love me, had never loved me, and I was merely an obligation and mistake. I do not hold these things against him, he was really in a bad place and honestly, the only people he would talk to were her and friends who were manipulative. He’d shut out the majority of his friends because he knew they wouldn’t support his choices, and his choices were happening because he was hurt, resentful, confused and full of fear. It happens, I hold none of it against him, but that doesn’t bear much weight when it comes to the voices deep within me which echo this time last year.

As March nears, I find myself in complete dread for mixed reasons… My beautiful, sweet little girl is turning 18. Not so little anymore… I will be celebrating my 41st birthday, which isn’t so terrible in and of itself. This time last year, however, when I should have been celebrating a milestone birthday, I was instead living the darkest and ugliest parts of my worst nightmare. As a girl who does not have a track record of great birthdays, last year was easily the very worst. Days later is our anniversary… I feel like these months are eternal. While I am so present and grateful and invested in today, and now, I am also devastatingly haunted by those things which I never thought would happen and those things which I never imagined would be said.

These scars in my soul run deep…

There are things we will never agree on too, and those things scare me. Because this time last year could easily be this time next year. Not a day goes by that I do not realize that. I can do every thing in my power to fight for my life and my marriage, but unfortunately I am reminded that my doing that tirelessly for those hellish 6 months did not make a difference. I am only responsible for me, and he is responsible for him. He loves me today, and for this I am so grateful. But, what about tomorrow?

The human body is amazing. I have been in a really low fibroymalgia phase lately. While some of this has been exasperated by the medication fiasco, I also think back to last year. I was balancing three jobs and personal education. I was eating, on average, one time or less, per day. I spent many sleepless nights in the front seat of my car. I was under tremendous emotional stress, and yet the fibro flare ups were nothing like they are today. This makes me feel like a failure. And while there is financial stress now, from our 20015/20016 journey, I have balanced and healthy meals, my own bed to sleep in, and a marriage which feels more and more restored. Why is it now that these flare ups hit, and when they hit they hit HARD?

This time last year I balanced jobs, was generous with what I did not have, was devastatingly alone and broken, I was exhausted but surviving…  Today I am nourished, healing and so haunted by then, and fighting to get out of bed for the discomfort that is now. I don’t get it… But I am giving myself grace until I do.

 

Family Friday, a movie review…

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Race to Win is the story of a flawed man whose sudden passing leaves his family in a desperate situation where they stand to lose everything. It has the quality of your average Hallmark, feel good and everything works out ok movie. For some people, that is a disappointment, but for this girl that’s fairly ok. I love the better Hallmark movies, and though this isn’t one it has that solid family friendly feel.

With Gentry Rhodes (Luke Perry) death, the majority of the pressure to save the family and home falls on his daughter Hannah (Danielle Campbell). Family dynamics, both the functional and dysfunctional ones, come to play. The happy ending comes, as it always does in this type of film, but not in the ways the family expects. There are people out to sabotage, and people reigning in support. I’m not going to pretend that there is anything original or genre shattering here, because there isn’t. What you do get however, from Race to Win (which just received the Dove seal of approval) is a little more honest than other films in its class. When you look past the cliché’ moments, and into the heart of the story you see that it is woven together of raw grief and our human inability to function properly sometimes. It offers the candid perspective that we sometimes wish to sweep under the rug, of the one’s we love having failed us out of selfishness, greed or their own addictions, and loving them anyway. It shows is that we are not made up of our choices and failings, but weak at times and that is ok. This day and age has us, as a society, so consumed with the mistakes of others, and playing victim to that rather than simply trying to carry each others burdens and be our best selves. This film shows that, in times of heart hurts and loss, we share the journey and even though the other parent should be the strong one, they may not be. It shows us that if a child has to rise up and carry the burden for a while, the world will not end and seasons may look differently than the world wants them to look.

Underneath the dialogue, at times breath-taking cinematography, and odd dynamics of the Father’s ghost appearing with advice and information, is a very frank image of a family who makes it through each day imperfectly, and yet they make it through. The heart here is real, and when you add the parts of the film that really just work, it makes for a solid family flick.

Here’s a clip. Look for Race to Win, available on DVD February 14th, and judge for yourself. If you enjoy movies with heart and feel good endings (or Luke Perry, even) It is well worth the watch!

Upon waking…

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I couldn’t quite find the voice to blog much, last week, when I speculated that I was dying. It certainly felt as though I were on my way out of this life, and well, when the blue-foam-vomit made an appearance, I knew death was immanent.

Alas’, it was not to be, and I am pretty happy about that, though between you and me, the happiest part is that I no longer feel like every ounce of the lining within me was shredding and coming to the surface. (Chw joked that it is a good thing we watched the Santa Clarita Diet AFTER those several days and not before. How right he was!)

Since I have been given a second chance at life, (wait, at this point it would be like a 38th chance…) my passion has been renewed.

Unfortunately my energy is still lagging behind a bit, but I have faith that it will catch up eventually!

In the few days leading up to my bout with death, I was trying desperately to accomplish some wonderful things. I distinctly remember being a little proud of a few things I was doing, and surprised that I had the clarity to do them despite my weakening health and energy. The super NOT cool part about this chapter in the story, is that I cannot find ANYTHING I was working on. I live in a shoebox, these things seriously cannot have gone away. I feel like I am going insane. Super, super crazy.

To add to the crazy, last week (post severe reaction to the evil spawn of Satan drug known as Cymbalta) I began referring to our local supermarket as Wegman’s. We do not HAVE Wegman’s. In fact, I have not shopped at a Wegman’s since 2002, when we moved to Michigan from New York. Weird, right?

All in all though, I have my health, my family and a freezer full of smoothie packs after yesterday’s afternoon chopping, prepping and stuffing, so I can’t complain. Today feels like it could be a crash & burn day (credit to my cousin for that phrase… Crash & burn days are the bad Fibromyalgia days where you find yourself exhausted and out of commission) except that somehow I am able to accomplish “one more thing.” (which keeps turning into one more thing) so I’ll take it. And that, my friends, is how you are able to read this ridiculously nonsensical blog post about nothing.

You’re welcome!

P.S. If you know where I put my lemon zester, Robot Valentines, favorite pen, stickers, pet postage stamps, pack of bubble envelopes, clear Buxom lip gloss, wireless headphones or packing tape- I’d be grateful for the heads up!

Things which are broken…

7k7e_wgfe90-sabri-tuzcuOne of my favorite coffee mugs fell, from the cabinet, this evening and shattered into a dozen of pieces. This happened because mugs, which I have BEGGED not to be put in the cabinet, were put in the cabinet. Again. And I am mad. Not because a coffee mug broke, but because there are things in my life which I say over and over and over again, and they are never heard. It often feels like no one wants to listen, until I am upset, and then everyone simply believes I am the bad guy for blaming them. It is an ugly cycle, ending once again, with something broken.

It really isn’t about a shattered mug at all, it is about wondering when my words will matter. Sometimes I feel like my voice only exists for my ears, until someone needs something. If I am honest I will admit that this was one of the many things that led me on that isolated and lonely journey fourteen months ago. Some days I just get really tired. I, like every other woman, want my thoughts, words, feelings, etc. to matter. To my spouse, my kids, my family and friends. I am tired.

I am taking a class on being a good listener. My daughter, who put my mug in the cabinet (again x’s infinity), is also taking the class. (Ironic, no?) I have learned so much within the walls of this classroom, as of late. (also, I really wish my husband would take this class. In fact, I think every person on the planet should.) Today, in class, we had a group activity where we practiced healthy and respectful listening to a classmate, and then followed that with unhealthy “listening”. I was pretty blown away by this exercise. Much more than I had imagined. I learned, more than anything, that we’ve each got the same problems with different details. We are all tired. We are all, at times, begging to be validated, pleading to be heard for what we are actually saying (not what the “listener” wants to think we are saying), and tired of our own voices saying the same things over and over, because our message just doesn’t matter enough to those within listening distance.

So, here it is: I am tired. I want to be priceless, desirable, irreplaceable and of more worth to my husband than any other woman. I want my heart to be so valuable, to him, that he will do anything to protect it. I want my kids to want me to be their mom. I want to matter to them, and for my words to be something they find value in. I want beautiful relationships with them, relationships where they hold tight because I won’t always be there. I want friendships that are as simple as coffee dates, book store adventures and movie nights- but as deep as unison tears over fears shared and heart stitchings. Most of the time I feel like everyone in the world has all of these things figured out, and I’m the one left begging for someone (anyone) to explain how to get there too… And then today happens, and I realize I am not. We are each tired, aching, and just not enough- or so it feels…

So, just so you know- if you ever need an ear, I am here. And I am learning how to listen better because, at the end of the day, we all want to matter enough to be heard.

I have a pile of shattered glass in my kitchen to prove it.

A house/A home…

I have the heart of a true dog lover…

When Chw and were young and a bit crazy, and two new kids living in upstate New York, we grew our little family with an adorable little roly-poly Golden Retriever puppy named Makaila. Makaila became the very best friend of our little Gen, when she came home to us.251415_10150202049326277_874492_n

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When Makaila was five years old, an adorable little newborn black and barely white puppy fell into our laps. We named her Paisley, for no particular reason other than I had dreamed of getting a puppy named Paisley the night before. Paisley was tiny and dependent and bonded to me very, very deeply. As she grew, my heart wrapped so tightly around that precious little dog.

In August of Makaila’s ninth year, we learned she had bladder cancer and in a very short amount of time she made her way across that rainbow bridge. We had her cremated and her ashes were scattered at a Christmas tree farm, which I still think is the loveliest of things…

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A couple of months later Paisley was lonely for a canine companion and we foolishly jumped at the first puppy we found. She is called Emma and she is a character. She and Paisley never hit it out. Emma can be funny, but she is seldom sweet and often her soul is more fire than love (in a sassy and prideful way, of course). She is the most un-dog any of us have ever known, she has made home what it is and we love her quirky ways all the same.

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Ironic as it seems, this past August was Paisley’s 9th year and she too found her way to the Rainbow Bridge. It was sudden and gut wrenching and a piece of me went with her. I think a piece of all of us, even little Emma, went too. She was the epitome of love in a dog. The most pleasing, comforting, loving, accepting, reassuring creature I have ever known…

Emma has had a tough time recovering the loss of the other canine presence. She lost herself a bit and is finally emerging. My husband assures me there will be no future dogs for us. My heart both sighs with relief at his words, and aches to beg for another.

I love my kids and they make the two of us a family, binding us together and bringing about rhyme, reason and purpose… But our dogs, our dogs have made our houses home. They’ve breathed life when the darker times convinced us there was none. Their wet noses have whispered love into the loneliest of moments and often been the only things that dragged me from the pits of a depression hell in the dark days.

Dogs make the world a better place…

Tell me about any pets you have loved?

Thanks to the release of the new film A Dog’s Purpose (based on a WONDERFUL film, of the same name), which opens on 1/27, I am happy to give away a $25 Fandango credit to one reader! The giveaway ends at Midnight on 1/26! To enter simply comment here with your story of a dog you’ve loved.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer. And just in case you missed it, here’s a link to a post I wrote about their charity support.