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.

one step at a time

Sometimes you just have to take life one step at a time. I have been telling myself this a lot lately as the storm in my life is still swirling out of control. I still feel so out of control. My dad lays in a hospital bed so confused about what all is going on. My mom is putting on her strong face while she is falling apart inside. My sister is waiting anxiously to meet her first child. Hubby is trying to hold it together but I know he is hurting as my Dad is the only father figure he has ever had. My kids cannot possibly understand the depth of this storm yet they are being troopers with the change in pace.

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How’s your Summer going?

Okay Mamas, we are about four weeks into summer time here in Texas….

How’s your Summer going??

Hopefully you have had time to play at the pool, sleep in, maybe go see one of this summer’s great movies….

Mine, oh, thanks for wondering…..I am enjoying being able to sleep in a bit, having more time with my boys and more time to spend with friends. The boys enjoyed a couple camps to kick the summer off and now they are in the long haul at daycare when I am in the office. The movies this summer have us anxious for the next one and we love our long summer days playing in the pool. We are looking forward to our family vacation next week and the birth of my first nephew any day now. So far my summer is going pretty good! Continue reading

Top 5 Things My Hubby Does That Annoy the Sh!t out of me

Top 5 things my hubby does that annoy the shit out of me:

1. He does not listen

I have to say most things at least twice. I often ask if he even heard my comment because of his lack of acknowledgement. And when he did listen to me he usually tries to give me advice or tell me how to fix something.

2. He does not clean up after himself

I do the dishes 99.5% of the time. His clothes hit the floor right outside the clothes hamper. He does not clean the sink after he shaves and I am the only one who carries his shoes upstairs when they are piling up next to his recliner. Continue reading

Free Your Mind: 5 Steps to Cleaning Out the Mental Clutter

I’ve been experiencing some type of writers block here recently. It’s like my brain, after a long hard summer, has powered down into hibernation mode. It’s not ready to gear back up until it has fully recharged and that moment is currently unforeseen. I’m just here patiently, or impatiently, awaiting its return.

While I sit here twiddling my thumbs, I am curious if this mental silence has anything to do with the actual sharing that’s taken place here in the past two months. When we first launched the blog the words couldn’t seem to come out fast enough. My mind was in overdrive. The thoughts were just begging to break out. As if they’d been shoved into a confined space for so long that at the first sight of light they took the opportunity to dive headfirst onto the page. They knew if they didn’t seize the moment, they might be trapped inside forever! Well, take a chill pill, guys. You’re free to dance across whatever page you wish now. This is the internet, after all.

Now that my mind is emptied of all its old “friends” I feel… what’s the word… Empty?  No, that’s not it. Clear? Possibly. Content? Perhaps. At ease? Yes, that one seems to fit. At ease. It may be best described as having room to move around more fluidly without bumping into sensitive spaces at every turn. Calm. Content. Clear. At ease. With room to fill.
 
I don’t exactly want to fill up the space again, however. I don’t want to re-clutter my space only to have to clean it out again. What’s the sense in that? A light dusting now and then? Perhaps. That’s just practical maintenance right there. Got to maintain the space to keep it tidy. How do I do this, though? If I’ve been accustomed to storing my shit to the bursting brim, how do I become accustomed to upholding a standard of shit free living?
Well, here’s what I’ve got figured so far…

Tips on how to shit proof your brain:


1) Pay careful attention to what you feel at each and every moment. Sound tedious and annoying? You’ll get used to it. The feelings may be unpleasant, they may be irritating, uncomfortable, scary, whatever. Just freaking feel it. Notice it.

2) Speak up when necessary (it’s always necessary). Now that you know how you’re feeling, Get It Out. Out of your brain and out of your mouth. This might mean sharing your totally uncomfortable feelings with someone/ anyone who will listen (and support – key word here). It might mean sharing silently through art, music, a blank page, or whatever other creative outlet you are drawn towards. It might mean blasting your thoughts to the world wide web or through social media (try not to be one of those social media folks, though. But, if you must, you must). Point is, however you need to SHARE your thoughts, do it. Share. Speak up.

3) Expect NOTHING in return. “Huh? What do I mean, expect nothing in return? I’m putting it all out there, aren’t I due some support, comfort, or care of some kind?” Well, I can’t answer to what you are due or not due, but I can contest to the fact that if you are waiting for this type of feedback to validate your new found openness you will soon find yourself surrounded by the mental shit once again. Seeking the feedback is probably what got you crammed back there in the first place.

4) Which brings me to number four. Applaud yourself. Get your pom poms out and be ready to be your very own cheerleader. This is where the prize money is, folks. Now that you are here it is prime time to learn that you’ve got all the support, care, and comfort built right into your very own soul. You own it. Depending on your significant other,  your bestie, your mother, father, sister, brother, whomever to rally you through isn’t going to cut it. Why not? Because it’s not their job and it’s not consistent. Of course if you get the cozy comfort you’re looking for then squeeze it, kiss it, thank it, and wave to it gracefully as it leaves. Because it will. It always does.

5) Allow your own sense of confidence, comfort, and satisfaction to be fickle. The nature of feelings is that they change. Constantly. Which is pretty refreshing actually. This means you don’t have to be married to any one feeling. And if you’re not married to it, you don’t have to be mad at it when it goes away. Don’t worry, it will be back. It’s not leaving you, nor you leaving it. You are supporting your self here, not your feelings. Your self is stable, or it can be, once you realize your feelings are not attached. Let them come, let them go.

Keeping your mental space free and clear takes effort. That’s for damn sure. Noticing takes effort. Acknowledging takes effort. Supporting takes effort. But so does fighting. Fighting off feelings. Fighting for feedback. Fighting is a long arduous draining path down shit creek.

You choose where you place your effort: Towards creating and maintaining a peaceful, open, grounded space? Or one wrought with tension, barbed wire, and armor? I know my choice. I can probably guess yours, too.

			

Authenticity: Beyond Ego, onto Being Honest.

So I have been thinking and wondering about my role here in this blog thing. I’ve been wondering if what I’m sharing is too much… and yet immediately I know it is not. I am confused though about why I have been compelled in this way to share SO much. To be SO honest about my struggles, past and present. Why? What for? The answer, I know, is simple: It’s for me. Do I want you to like it? Yes. Do I want recognition? Shamefully, yes.
Do I want to encourage you to be honest and share yourself also? Yes. Definitely yes.

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