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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I Love you Daddy.
How many more ? How many more precious souls will be lost before we collectively seek to understand and heal the underlying causes of mass murder in America?
As a mental health professional, I wish I could say I was hopeful about finding a solution but unfortunately, I am not. If we did not make this horrific problem a priority the day 26 innocent children & teachers were senselessly slaughtered in their classrooms, I fear we never will.
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.
I was woken up in the middle of the night by a storm rolling in. We were on family vacation at a ranch in the middle of nowhere so hearing the wind come in was different than here in the city. Wide open country, the wind swirling around the hills, lightening creating an everlasting glow over the country side.
The following post is from a precious member of my tribe, who tragically lost her brother recently. She was brave enough to share the following:
I wrote this social media post in March 2017 after finally acknowledging that I was in a process of grief about the death of my younger brother. I say “a process”, but really it is MY process. Because mine is different from yours, or anyone else’s. Just like every life and every fingerprint, loss is as individual as the person grieving.
Since I wrote this, I have had countless blessings. And my moments of happiness stretch further and further each week. I am still sad, but empowering myself enough to acknowledge it, has given me the room and time to find joy again too.
“Please forgive the length of this post. I have been feeling a tug inside of me to share these words, so perhaps there is someone else who needs to read them. Or perhaps I just need to let them out.
Sometimes it feels like grief for the loss of my brother Daniel is an unwelcome guest in my heart. It is very polite & doesn’t make too much of a mess most days. But I would still prefer for this grief to move on.
February 2nd was the first day since January 17, 2017 that I felt joy for a moment. And then moments free from grief and sadness began stretching out a little bit each day. But sometimes, grief will pop up and spin my head around so hard it hurts.
I know that so many before me have traveled this path after losing their own brothers, sisters, parents, children, spouses and dear friends. And I know that as broken as my heart is right now, God is slowly putting it back together the same way he has put together all of the others before mine. God is granting me the strength, blessings and peace to journey on to the point where Dan’s life becomes more bright in my mind than his death.
So my strength right now is only borrowed.
Because when I arrive at the fork at the end of this path, and when the grief in my heart has eased into something more bearable, I will look at this journey I have taken and see His footprints behind me.
So I am going to stay in my sadness for awhile longer. But through His Grace, and with the support of the amazing people I am blessed to call family and friends, this grief inside my heart is slowly being healed.
I have so much gratitude for the love, messages, prayers and laughter everyone has sent my way. Thank you!”
Change. It is a’comin. We are nearing the end of a school year and for most that means saying goodbye to familiar faces (young and old), comfortable places (known for one year or many), multiple school assignments, drawings, paintings, and projects that were once the subject of much debate, success, or demise. And from here, we look onward to a new school year. Change, it is a’comin.
At least we still have summer…
Some of us are quietly anticipating Sunday, Mother’s Day. The day we are served breakfast in bed and everyone waits hand and foot on us for once. The day we are showered in gifts sometimes homemade sometimes bought with Dad’s money. The day to do whatever we want because it is Mother’s Day.
My heart has been heavy this week with the realities of life and death. We received a call from a dear friend that his mother had passed. A client on the couch shared about her thoughts of suicide. Spring storms here in Texas stole lives unexpectedly. All reminders that each day is a gift.