Why Are We Doing This

 Little over a year ago we launched this blog already asking ourselves… Why are we doing this? 

“So, here’s to learning, growing, and living in community with you and with each other as we all strive to create a more Happy Mind and Happy Home.” We three women, mom’s, friends and co-counselors are done just that. We have learned and grown with this community over the past year. We each wanted to share our reflections.

be brave

Lisa:

What a difference a year makes! Now that it has been one year since the birth of this blog, I can truly say I understand the truth of this statement. When we first began this blogging journey we asked ourselves, and each other, what is my intention? Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: personal growth.

I knew instinctively there was something waiting for me on the other side of opening up, speaking out, and sharing myself on a level I never had before; Not in this way at least. What I found right out of the gate was that my choice to be vulnerable and authentic was met with a heavy slap of fear, insecurity, and shame. It kind of sucked actually… for a little while.

After the waves of self doubt started to settle I began to experience a new sense of freedom; liberation from perfectionism, and a deep sigh of relief that when I was met with the good company of other imperfect woman such as myself. A reunion of self acceptance, support, and understanding. What a beautiful place to be.

My life this past year has been full of change and challenge. The blog gave me an outlet, a place to process, and a place to gain understanding of myself while simultaneously offering the same to others. From here my purpose in blog writing shifted from a place of personal growth to one of offering support, encouragement, and understanding to myself and our readers. This has been my growth.

I have gained new friendships and deeper friendships from finding out that it’s not about getting it right all the time, but about being REAL all the time. I am not sure where the blog will take me this next 365 days, but I do know I intend to continue on the journey of being real and encouraging you to do the same. Thank YOU for being with us. I hope you stay and find a little or a lot of encouragement, laughter, and support along the way.

be brave

Andrea:

As I sit to reflect on this first year of blogging my brain automatically starts making lists, so here are my top 3 things I have learned from blogging thus far.

1. Flexibility is an Art

When we first began this blogging journey we asked ourselves, and each other, what is my intention? Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: professional growth. My goal was to focus on my training in The Gottman Method. Writing about what makes marriage work and frankly what does not make marriage work. Well, obviously that did not happen. With all the twists of life this blog flexed in to a more personal form of growth and expression. The biggest tragedy of my almost 40 years happened this past year, losing my father. This blog gave me place to process and share through this crisis. As I have often seen through my work on the couch, crisis often is followed by change. I have enjoyed sharing the changes in my home as we have worked on a lot of redo’s and updates in the time since my father passed.

2. Vulnerability sucks

Since my original plan was to stay safe with “professional growth” I was also safe from public displays of emotional vomit. Obviously, the Man upstairs knew I needed to get in the fire more than I have been. Allowing myself the time to sit, feel, think, feel, write, feel, talk, feel, share MY stuff was at times painful, at times freeing while at times scary. BUT, I needed that. I do a lot of vulnerability selling to those on my couch, so it is better if I have a fresh dose of what I am selling. This has made me more real, inside and out.

3. Self care really is the foundation

As we started I worried about adding yet another ‘thing’ to my to-do list. And lets not be fooled, managing a blog requires a lot of time, hence why I am so thankful for Lisa and Angie going on this HMHH journey with me. I have learned that when you add the right things to your to-do list they in some ways themselves ARE self-care. Sure, this blog thing can be a lot of work, but since I was flexible and allowed this to twist into what it has organically become it does not often feel like a task on the to list. It feels more like “ahh, I have time to write tonight” or “I get to share this” and at times has been “I have to get this out of my head.” I honestly, am not sure where my emotional state would be today if I did not have this blog and my tribe by my side.

perfectly imperfect

Angie:

What a difference a year makes!

It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it has been 1 year since Lisa, Andrea, and I started Happy Mind Happy Home. As I was reflecting upon Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: to give a voice to other moms trying to balance being a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, what stood out to me most was the daily challenge to be mindful…..and present: for our families, selves, and friends.

My other goal was to resonant with women out there who say, “You struggle with____?” “Me too!” I have grown to tremendously love and respect Lisa & Andrea both and I can’t imagine having taken this journey with anyone else. Each of us has faced our own unique life changes and challenges. We each have faced those obstacles with a little bit of grace and a whole lot of humor….For trust me, there have been times when, if we didn’t laugh, we would surely cry….and let’s face it…never stop crying.

What strikes me most about my two friends, fellow moms, and bloggers, is the forgiveness & grace they often give me that I do not afford myself. My perfectionist tendencies often get the best of me & overcoming the unrealistic expectations I set for myself is often a daily struggle.

Therefore, it was more than ironic that near the 1 year blog anniversary, I stumbled upon this message in a devotional that was given to me by a during a particularly dark chapter in my life. It ccertainly resonated with me, and I hope it does with you too:

Here’s to everyone out there just trying to survive their journey. Have faith and know that you are fearfully and beautifully made. God is with you & so are we, as you become everything God intended you to be.

Blessings & Love…From my Nest to Yours!

Learning To Talk About Pain

I never thought I’d be someone who struggles with chronic pain

(the following entry is written anonymously by a mom in my tribe sharing about her daily battle with pain and her stepping into using her voice for healing and support)

chronic pain

I’ve always had headaches. It’s just part of who I am, and my momma used to tell me to make sure I ate well and often (as we thought they were related to blood sugar). I remember I would throw up in 5th grade due to them fairly regularly, and then I grew out of that phase. I continued just having occasional headaches, only needing ibuprofen to deal with it. Even right before becoming a mom, when I began having ocular migraines (seeing an aura prior to the headache), I didn’t need much for the pain. The pain was worse, and the vision problems were scary, but after being told it was normal, I moved on and didn’t get on a preventative medication or even use the abortive one I was prescribed very often.

My true difficulties began in February of 2017 when my kids and I all got the flu. At the time, they both needed me in the middle of the night if they woke up. My daughter was still somewhat adjusting to our family changing when we adopted our son in 2016. I did not do a great job of taking care or myself during that flu apparently. I remember not eating very well and not wanting family or friends to come over to help for fear that they’d get sick. I was doing it all myself, which was something I was comfortable with. I think I really like being the only one to take care of my kids even more than some, because I did not get the first years of their lives with them (as they were adopted as toddlers). So I tend to want to do it all, even if it’s hard, especially for the sake of our parent/child bond. It’s my privilege and my job as their mom to do it.

So about a week or so after the flu left us, I began to get a headache. I just couldn’t shake it.  My husband didn’t understand what was wrong with me because normally I got better faster from headaches or migraines. Five days later, it was worse than ever, and I asked my husband to look at a small spot on my forehead. I figured he would dismiss it, but his eyes got big and he said, “That’s shingles.”

And hence my life changed.

chronic pain

Nothing has been the same since that terrible diagnosis. It started with horrific, debilitating pain during which I thought I was dying multiple times. As a professional therapist, I eventually recognized that I was having panic attacks with the waves of intense pain, so I utilized mindfulness strategies with my pain medications. It was brutal. I thought it would be gone within a few weeks, at least.

It has now been over a year.

I don’t have the intense pain that I had during that initial outbreak when the rash was active, but I have daily, chronic pain from the horrible virus of shingles. My trigeminal nerve was impacted, so the vision in my right eye is not great and my right ear aches often. The worst thing though is my ‘pain spot’ in my head; it is a bundle of angry nerves that apparently don’t want to heal yet from shingles. Post herpetic neuralgia is nerve damage; I just have to wait and see if it will fade away or if it won’t. There are preventative medications I take for the pain now, but there’s nothing that works for the pain spikes other than ice and rest. It is different from migraines in that way. It has also interplayed with my migraines terribly, so now they are worse than they were before shingles, and I do have to take preventative and abortive medications.

chronic pain

My children are wonderful. My home and job are amazing. My husband is my biggest supporter in life. My family is always, always there for me. However, it has been the hardest year of my life. And in the past I’ve gone through things that should’ve been much more difficult in my opinion. My close people know the events that I’m talking about, both emotional and physical things. Those things should’ve been harder, and I’m a little angry that this issue is what is taking me down. Chronic pain, as I have just now claimed it for what it is, has clearly been the trial I’ve been the most humbled by.

It’s been helpful to let my shame about this go and to start talking to people about it. I mean, people knew I struggled some physically but no one knew the extent of how much this has taken over my life. I’ve been evaluating lately: what exactly do I feel so ashamed about?

Clearly, I didn’t want to get shingles, and being the 5% who maintains the nerve pain (called post herpetic neuralgia) wasn’t on my to-do list either. I can usually talk about emotional issues relatively easily, and even with infertility, I found a way to share that journey with people. With this, the pain has been so intense for so long that I’ve recently noticed I have isolated myself in some ways. I didn’t want to bring others down, constantly complaining of pain; I couldn’t stand the thought of being that negative person. I also didn’t feel good enough to talk. I am at my worst, and somehow telling everyone all about that isn’t priority.

migraines

However, I am learning. I did not choose this, just like I didn’t choose other paths that I more easily processed with family and friends. Just because post herpetic neuralgia from shingles is not as easily measured as strep throat or something- that doesn’t make it less. It is an invisible pain, people aren’t going to know anything about what I’m walking through unless I tell them. And I have not wanted to tell people. I have wanted my interactions with others to be lighthearted and not about this draining thing. I have wanted to ignore it, but it will not be ignored.

I think others with ‘invisible’ pains will know what I am talking about here; it is extremely difficult to know how much to share before I’m oversharing. It’s like opening up a dam; I don’t want to open that up to everyone I speak to. Sometimes to even ask others how they are doing is near impossible with the throbbing in my shingles spot; I am so sad I can’t even hear their answer through the gnawing in my head. I’ve never been this debilitated before, and most people have absolutely no idea I even suffer.

I’ve watched primarily my husband (& my mom) see me change. Because at the end of each day, I can finally let go, and often times that means crying with an ice pack on my head. I cry so often in the evenings that I have stopped knowing how much is the pain and how much is my medication making me more emotional.

Both things make me cry; I can’t tell anymore. I am drained entirely, and I miss being me.

Side effects from medications are hard, but not as hard as the pain. I’ve never been so vulnerable to my loved ones, and they cannot fix the pain I am constantly in. My hopelessness in those moments turns to despair and depression. I have just now begun recognizing that I do have depression, especially during pain spikes. I don’t want to be the Christian who puts all their joy in circumstances; I have always known in my mind and heart that that isn’t the right thing to do. My body, however, has been failing me; I am not sure how to go through this painful season. I certainly don’t know how to coach others on how to help me through it. Humbling to my core.

support

I recently switched doctors, and my hope is renewed. There are certain friends (& of course family) who DO know my whole story and have walked me carefully and kindly through this whole ordeal. I’ve stopped asking God when it will be over, and now I’m asking Him what His purpose is.

And so, I wrote. I write today to validate the person struggling in silence. Maybe you can’t quite figure out how to let others into your story because it’s too sad, too awful to bother other people with. Let them in. Let someone in, not everybody in. Somebody or two somebodies or even three – they will support you in moments you think you can’t go on. Suffering in silence isn’t brave. It’s not the right thing to do or the kind thing, as I once thought, no matter the type of suffering. Don’t refuse anyone into your world, however hard it is. Claim whatever season you are walking through. “Hello, my name is ******, and I have had difficult, life-altering chronic pain for over a year now.” This is me, learning to accept my season. I didn’t want this season, and I didn’t ask for this season. However I better accept it. I’ve been refusing to for long enough, and that has gotten me nowhere.

So, my first step has been to claim it, to accept it. And to talk to my people about it-with a grateful heart for their loving kindness and patience. I know I can endure the pain, as I’ve been doing so. I just pray that this season of chronic pain does not go without the ability to touch someone else’s life. I want to give this to God to do what He will with it; I want it to produce something worthwhile if that makes sense. So with that, I give you my ‘rough draft’ of this year of pain. It’s not wrapped up with a pretty bow yet. The pain is still here and wreaking some manageable havoc, both physically and emotionally. However, just knowing I’m not alone in this and that I am loved fully through this has meant the world to me. And I won’t be seeking isolation from my loved ones anymore, no matter the temptation to protect them from this. Scripture is my refuge:

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

faith

I’m praying that my Rescuer will once again rescue me from this. However, I am okay whether God brings healing or if He doesn’t.

Is it STILL Winter

Does it feel like Winter never ends?
My kids keep saying, “…It’s still Winter?….” as if they are reading my mind.

 Augh, YES it is still Winter.

Winter in my house means more video game time since it is too cold (and WET) to play outside. Winter in my house means Basketball Season, which to us is easy peasy compared to Baseball Season. Winter in my house means house projects. And house projects mean I lovingly enlist hubby to donate his muscle and power tools. Continue reading

thank you for allowing me to hold space for you

As a client and I were recently working on wrapping up her course of therapy she mentioned the well known words of Nanny McPhee about her time in therapy. “When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.” As her therapist sitting on the chair across from the couch, the words were very touching and very true. These words have stuck with me. Leaving me with a sense of pride that I was able to be the one to hold space for her, while she did the work she was so resistant and fearful of.

therapy Continue reading

Controlling the Christmas Chaos

 I’m not sure if my Christmas anxiety is giving my everyday anxiety anxiety but I know for sure the Christmas chaos is here!

I know I am stressed when I find myself staring at my planner and making lists of lists. I get excited when I get to move into my new planner for the upcoming year so when I noticed my 2018 planner has this month in it I quickly did the switch. I also started laying out my bullet journal for 2018, which of course meant I needed a marker upgrade.

chaos control

All the planning in the world does not stop the Christmas Chaos from trying to steal your Christmas Cheer. So with Christmas Chaos swirling in the air I am reminding myself of ways to stay sane (aside from making lists of lists).

 I am Keeping it Simple.

Yes, after convincing hubby to help me get the 10+ Christmas trees and 10+ boxes of decorations out of the attic I found myself staring at it. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t want to win the “I have the most Christmas trees in my house” award this year. For the first time in over 10 years we are NOT hosting Christmas so even more reason to keep it simple. I decided to not even put up the “BIG” tree. Settling for a pencil tree in our living room, stockings hung on the mantle and our annual pictures with the Big Guy out to see.

After a slight panic when hubby questioned if I had “underdone it” I have concluded the keep it simple theory helps my sanity this year.

I am not subscribing to all the holiday “you have toos”

I do not have to come up with the “perfect” teacher gift, I know a gift card is many times preferred. I do not have to find the pajamas for my Chihuahua that matches my boy’s Christmas morning.  Disguising my Baileys as cream is my only goal on Christmas morning. And I don’t need my Christmas lights dancing to the music, I will settle for the Grinch trying to steal my lights.

I am not over committing

With all the Sign Up Geniuses landing in my inbox the last couple weeks I have taken a step back to ask myself what I really want to commit to and what I just don’t have time to do. Sure, I will buy skittles and marshmallows for the holiday party, but I am not baking 3 dozen homemade cookies for the teacher cookie exchange. Sorry, I cannot sell yo-yos at 7am on Tuesday and I will bring the snacks to the last game of the season (in January).

I am making sure to do my favorite traditions

Our multi family gingerbread decorating party, going to see the Big Guy at Northpark, donating gifts to the local toy drive, donating to the school angel program, sprinkling reindeer food out on Christmas Eve, baking Neimun Marcus Cookies to deliver to neighbors and dear friends, sending out the annual Johnson Christmas card, baking Jesus’s birthday cake and eating Hibachi after Christmas Eve Service.

christmas choas

I am saying No

I am saying “No” to the party I really have no desire to go to. I am saying “No” to the invite to go look at the same drab Christmas lights we have seen for years. I am saying “No” to overthinking gifts for everyone. I am saying yes to the events I want to genuinely go to like our friends fabulous Christmas pajama party (so my kind of party, in my PJs!) and holiday dinner with my close girl friends.

I will find Joy in the Pain

I am reminding myself what brings me joy during the holidays, being with the ones I love the most. This is going to be difficult this year because we have an empty seat at the table since my father’s passing. He is missed. His annual trip the John Deere dealership on Christmas Eve to let the boys pick out what ever they want, his perfectly cooked meat of choice and his snide comments and snickering leading to my mom to tell him to “hush.” Amidst his absence I will focus on the joy of my family, because without him my family would not be who we are.

Truth is many struggle with emotional pains of all kinds during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. I will have grace towards the crazy driver who almost hit me while picking up my dry cleaning today. I will have empathy for the lady in my way in the aisle at Target. I will have compassion for the new client on the couch who is dreading sitting across the dinner table from her mother who will never really know her.

My wish for you is to keep it simple, stay with your truth, and don’t over do it.

Remember the “Reason for the Season.”

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

 

How to Support Your College Student During Finals

Forward: Welcome Intern Karley Knight back for her continued perspective of a college student giving advice to novice college parents….if you missed her last post find it here with her sharing about the big transition from high school to college.

It’s that time of year again.

 The weather is getting cooler, people are digging out their favorite boots and jeans from the depths of their closets, everything is pumpkin spice flavored, and everyone is already counting down the days until Christmas. But as the leaves change colors and begin to disappear from the trees, so does the mental sanity of college students.

supporting your college student during finals

Finals Week!

Finals week is unique in the world of stress because it entails both a sense of urgency and a perpetual feeling of being unprepared. Even though your student studied for weeks, written copious amounts of colorful notes and highlighted every sentence in the book (because of course every sentence is a possible test question) in most cases the feeling of pure confidence is rare. As a parent who wants to protect their kid from such distress and dislikes seeing them in much turmoil, what are you to do? Sadly, there isn’t much you can do to take away the panic your child is feeling, but just because you can’t eliminate that stress doesn’t mean that you can’t alleviate it a little bit. Here are some suggestions to best support your frazzled college student as they prepare for hell (or finals) week:

Watch Your Communication

Whether you’ve been talking to your student twice a week since they’ve left or once a month, your communication dynamic is about to change. Conversations will now focus on the monstrous tests that loom in their future, how sleep deprived they are, and other things parents don’t want to hear. It is typical for you to want to check in on your child even more during finals season because you know it’s a difficult time for them, but I advise against this. Recognize that your student is probably immersed in studying and involved in study groups, so constantly calling will just add to their distress and distract them from studying.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should ignore them completely, but don’t helicopter them. Whenever your child explains their anxious feelings they aren’t expecting you to solve the problem, instead what they are seeking is comfort and reassurance from their loved ones. When you do talk to your student, make sure your interactions are positive and always end on a good note (“I love you” or “I’m sending you money” [a personal favorite]).

Encourage them to do their Best, not Be the Best

High school and college differ most in environment and grades. It’s easier to expect A’s and excellent academic performance in high school because the classes are much easier compared to what they take in college. In many classes, the score of the final exam has the power to dictate what the final grade of the course is, meaning that even if they ace all of the other assignments a poor final grade could tank the overall course grade. It’s VERY important to assure your student that you are expecting them to do the best they can do and put in as much effort as they can, but remind them that you’re not expecting them to be Einstein. Don’t make your child feel like they would be returning home as a failure if they don’t get a perfect score on their exams. Instead, whenever you’re having those positive conversations with your student, include how you will love them no matter what grade they get and that you believe in them. Fueling their self-esteem will make them feel more confident and competent going into their exams.

supporting your college student during finals

Remind them of the importance of Self-Care

It’s easy for students to get caught up in the hype of finals week and follow the bad examples set by their peers of not getting adequate rest, eating nutritious things, or even neglecting to keep up their personal hygiene (it happens and its gross). But even with less extreme cases, it’ still common for your student to develop bad habits while they’re preparing for finals because they’re too preoccupied with making their final grade a priority instead of taking a step back and taking care of themselves. What they don’t realize is that by neglecting to fulfill their needs and allowing their mind to recharge, their stress will only increase and their studying won’t be as effective. Remind them that while grades are important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of their own destruction. Taking care of your human is more important than taking care of your GPA- no matter what their college adviser says. Here are some basic reminders that I think all college students should be reminded of regarding personal care during finals week:

1. Pizza is not a food group.
2. Energy drinks are not a food group or a substitute for sleep. They’ll ultimately make you feel shaky and sick because you’ve been chugging 5 hour energy drinks (or whatever cheap gasoline-like energy fluid of choice) every day without eating
3. If you’re drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day then you need to take a serious nap because that is also NOT okay
4. SHOWER. Non-negotiable
5. Indulge in small snacks and sweets every now and then to reward yourself, but don’t make that the only thing you’re eating.
6. Take a run or workout, the endorphins will make you feel better (and I like to think I’m literally running from my problems)

supporting your student during finals

Give them something to look forward to

One of the tools I find very effective in providing some emotional relief during such a taxing time is to give your student something to look forward to. If all they can see in their future is a dark, dreary raincloud of hard tests and potential failure, it can be very discouraging and puts your child at risk for depression. Putting a bright light and promise of greener pastures in their future creates a ‘finish line’ of sorts on finals to remind students that although it may not feel like it, finals season does not last forever. Whether it’s mentioning a fun winter vacation or just promising them that they’ll return home to nice home cooked meals again, getting them exciting about something will do wonders for their motivation. Adding an end date to a hard time makes surviving it much easier. It encourages your child to do well in the present in order to enjoy what they’re looking forward to in the future.

Don’t underestimate the power of a Care Package!

Every now and then my mom will send me a small package of goodies in the mail. Whether its a surprise or not, it never fails to bring me so much joy. Having someone send me a considerate ‘thinking of you’ gift from home makes me feel so supported and revives my spirit. I highly encourage parents to ship their student a box of goodies to send some love their way (if your student attends community college consider just surprising them with something). It can be filled with anything from gift cards, snacks, supplies, or even just a handwritten card. This will provide your student with so much comfort and will be much appreciated.

Check out our Pinterest board for ideas

happy mind happy home pinterest

Every student deals with stress differently and every college structures their finals week differently, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But even though finals week will differ amongst campuses, you can bet that the colder the weather gets, the stronger the student stress. This is an important time for you to reach out to your student and show them your support, I promise it will bring you closer together if you comfort them during this hellish time.

Good luck!

coming up for air

Today, I am just now coming up for air. Just now feel like I am getting my life back to normal. A new normal. After every storm there is a new normal. Whatever normal really means. 

After taking life one step at a time I am just now coming up for air. 

After being woken by the storm I am just now coming up for air. 

The last few months have been a blur of events that I am just now even beginning to process. While in the middle of the storm I was emotionally paralyzed by my efforts to stay strong and show up. Two things that being a mom has taught me are essential to keep from allowing the storms in life to sweep me completely off my feet.  

July 4th – I was awoken by a summer storm rolling in to discover my father was in ICU hundreds of miles away as me and my boys were on vacation. Within a few days the label of Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma was cemented in my brain. FEAR, panic, bargaining, HOPE all set in at the same time. 

grieving my father

July 24th – I became an Aunt for the first time. I witnessed my sister’s life grow fuller as she held her first born. With new life comes HOPE, joy and endearing love. 

August 3rd – 19th – Aways a whirlwind in my home since both of my boys celebrate birthdays. I have 16 precious days with my Irish twins being the same age, this year both being 7 until my big boy hit 8. This means each getting their special family day to dictate where they want to celebrate. I am always relieved when they request family fun at any local establishment that comes with a side of Pinot Gorgio. Then comes the big friend party at whichever hot, stinky, germ invested party venue they choose. This year was another round at the local trampoline park topped off with a “Chill” cake and “poop” cupcakes. (the summer of Emojis for sure, is “poop” a feeling)

August 20th – My father peacefully went to heaven after being in my home for hospice for a short 48 hours. disbelief, shock, heartbreak, sadness, PEACE. 

August 21st – First day of school. 2nd & 3rd Grade here we come! relief, sadness, anxiety, excitement.  

This is where it all goes fuzzy like the old TV’s with the black and white static when no signal is read. This is where I slipped underwater into very unchartered territory. My father was gone. From feeling the ‘best‘ he has felt in a long time to “hitting the bed” as one doctor referred to him in just a matter of weeks. Typing this feels so unreal, its not true, there is no way. Typing this makes my heart race and that lump in my throat to pulse.

This is still so UNREAL.

grieving my father

The days that immediately followed were full of family and friends coming to our side. Great friends parading in with casseroles, muffins and hugs, oh…and wine. Friends I would have least expected called, texted, and showed up at my door with offerings of love. My home was filled with flowers, but the bed my Dad once lay in was now empty. Insert the frantic picture sorting and song picking that is requested by the local funeral home and a run to the mall for clothes suitable for a now 7 and 8 year old to wear to their Grandfather’s funeral.

He was gone. So UNREAL

grieving my father

There is no coming up for air when you feel like the waves are constantly engulfing you. There is no coming up for air when you are trying to keep your kids first week of school as normal as it can be while you read them “Grandpa Went to Heaven” for bedtime and console them as they are hit by the waves that Grandpa is not coming back. There is no coming up for air as you lay in bed staring at the clock as the nights tick away. There is no coming up for air when you are trying to hide the tears that uncontrollably pour from your eyes.  

There is no coming up for air when the strongest women you know just lost her husband of 45 years, your husband just lost the most of a father he has ever had, your children just lost one of the best man in their life, your days old nephew will never know how amazing his grandfather was.

grieving my father

What does coming up for air feel like? Surreal. What once was, is no longer. Family has all gone home, the casseroles have stopped coming, the flowers have been put on the curb. Surreal is just when your heart begins to ache there is a subtle reminder that he is still here. It is when guilt hits you because it has been a few hours too long you have not missed him, yet my heart tells me it is okay to refocus on what is before me. Surreal is when you hit quick dial in the morning to call him as you would while driving to work so you call your Bestie instead. Unreal is when you go to mom’s house and your mind wants you believe he will be home any minute. When you go to the Ranch, but he is not here.

Coming up for air is unchartered territory. You cannot prepare your self for your parent to pass away especially a daddy’s girl losing her father.

My life changed the day my Dad passed. My life will never be the same, I will never be the same, my family will never be the same. Now that we are starting to catch our breath we find small ways to talk about Papa as often as we can. Just a couple days ago as we saw a boat being pulled down the street Cooper asked when we can go to the lake again. Papa loved family day at the lake. Whenever we see a John Deere tractor we wave to Papa. When Papa’s dog proudly brought a dead rat to the back door we laughed knowing that Papa was snickering at his proud catch.

Coming up for air feels like I can breath again, yet moments still take the breath out of me. There are no clear definitions of how to grive so navigating this unchartered territory is scary without my Dad. There are no right ways, no certain time lines, no ending really. Grieving my father is now part of me as I try to keep breathing. Now I have more reason to live in such a way others see him in me.

cancer

I Love you Daddy.

20 reasons why I choose to not go to my 20 year reunion

This evening is my 20 year high school reunion from BTWHSPVA. In case you don’t know what that stands for: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, the Most Unique School in Dallas.

I am not going. I have had people tell me I should go, ask me why not and share with me great stories about their last reunion.

Since I have found myself feeling I have to justify my position here are 20 reasons why I choose to not go to my 20 year high school reunion:

  1. I just don’t want to. From the second they started planning it I have had Zero interest.
  2. I still talk to who I want to talk to from high school. That is 2 people in case you are wondering, 2.
  3. I could not decide what color of lipstick to wear. 
  4. Frankly, there are people I have no desire to see.
  5. I choose to focus on my like and friends now. This is more my “glory days” than high school ever was.
  6. All the babysitters are booked.
  7. Downtown Dallas – TX/OU weekend – need I say more?
  8. Since high school was not my “glory days” why would I wasn’t to reflect on that? 20 year reunion
  9. Social media already gives me highlights of those I would like to see.
  10. Just seeing the social media build up to the reunion looks like the same cliques still exist. No Thank You.
  11. High school was a social experiment I barely survived. I don’t need the social experiment of a reunion with the same crowd.
  12. The only memories I have of our 10 year reunion is a lot of drinking, cliques and hearing who is cheating with their spouse as he is prowling on old high school flames.  
  13. I can’t find my Doc Martins. This actually sucks because they are coming back in style.
  14. I was so disconnected in high school so I really don’t have much connection with many from those years.
  15. When I think of high school I think of my eating disorder, depression and thoughts of driving my car into White Rock Lake.
  16. A youth group reunion sounds more fun because more of my good memories from those years were from there.
  17. I think I would remember about ten peoples names. 
  18. In no way do I consider high school as my glory years. For those who did, I am sorry those days ended for you, enjoy rehashing old stories tonight.
  19. I’d rather watch Netflix and Chill.
  20. oh, and I never lost that 30 pounds.

Sure, a little piece of me wants to go. To say I went. To see my bestie from elementary school. To see the show because I am sure there will be something amazingly creative happen. We are talking about a reunion of artists, dancers, actors and musicians. Hubby said we would be going if Nora Jones had RSVPed. To my knowledge she hasn’t.

Instead, today I choose to live today as I do these days. 20 years after the ending of the worst social experiment ever. I am relaxing at home with my hubby watching the TX-OU game from my couch, cooking dinner, clothes in the wash and my boys outside playing with friends in the street. This evening will probably just be a regular Saturday night here at the Johnson house. Chill.