Invisible

I’ve been incommunicado for a little more than a week. I haven’t had access to email or text (for the most part) and the only way I’ve really had contact with the outside world has been through social media (mostly to check in on family).

It’s been strange, but really it has been absolute bliss. There aren’t a lot of times or places in today’s world that we can disconnect and leave our screen time, instant update, technology addictions behind. And honestly, disconnecting and disengaging from work is typically my hardest part of vacation. Because I feel that I need to be available. I don’t want to upset anyone. And leaving things (important and pressing or not) undone for 5-9 days is stressful for me.

But I’ve learned a few things this week.

  1. The work will wait. When you come back it will either be there waiting for you to accomplish or someone else will have taken care of it.
  2. Time away, disconnected, is good for you. And extremely important. Otherwise you aren’t recharging fully and won’t get the most out of your time off. Your work gives you time off in order for you to be refreshed–it’s vital to them for you to not burn out or be overly tired. Take advantage of it. It will make you a better employee.
  3. I don’t need technology/email/social media as much as I think I do. But if it’s in front of me, I will use it. So I think I am going to start some sort of monthly tech detox for myself.
  4. Photos are amazing. They drive our culture, help us tell stories, fuel our passions, and help us remember. But they aren’t the end all be all. Remember to take time to enjoy tour surroundings, and don’t live all of your experiences from a view finder.
  5. It’s always good to budget more money for trips and vacations than you think you will need. But when you have money left over put it away as a jump start for your next adventure.

These lessons have been good for me. The time away has been good for me. Taking naps everyday and being outside in the sun every day has been good for me. I may not be ready to reenter the land of snow, but I sure am ready to get back to snuggle our cats, see my kids, and get back to the gym and other routines.

Things Remembered

My mom and I shared a special bond, each of my sisters and I had our own special bonds with her. But in the time she was in hospice our relationship changed in ways I’ll never fully be able to articulate to anyone. It was precious time, difficult time but still very dear to my heart. Our conversations varied, her moods varied, and my ability to just enjoy the time varied.

But one afternoon as we were having a serious conversation she asked me what I would remember about her when she was no longer here on earth. I came up with a few things, but before I came back the next time I had a list of about 20 that I typed up and printed out for her. I have this list saved on my computer, I also have a copy of it in my wallet, and my dad has the copy I gave to my mom. By no means was the list exhaustive, but it was comprised of the items that immediately came to mind when asked.

I’ve found over the last year that many things could be added to the list:

  • New books by favorite authors
  • Sewing projects
  • Carrie Newcomer events
  • Silly moments
  • Butterflies
  • Math problems

The list could go on and on. It’s hard to get through those moments I see her, or feel her, or something makes her come to mind. It’s hard but I am thankful for those glimpses. Sometimes when faced with remembering, it feels like waves are crashing against me harder and harder until I go under. Sometimes the remembering just makes me feel adrift at sea, as if I’m weightless without direction–caught in the mist. And sometimes I can feel the warmth and joy of the memories as if they have just happened, fresh and new.

I’ve learned that all of those rememberings are important. They are a part of my grieving, and a part of rediscovering myself, because this experience has changed me. That’s not good or bad, it just is. Every event in our lives gives us a new layer of ourselves because we are molded by the situations and people that surround and interact with us. I am thankful for change, and growth, and the opportunity to see things differently.

A few short days and the anniversary will be here. And I am bound and determined to make it a day of sweet memories: not those wrapped up in a bow, but those that are examples of her strength, her beauty, her stubbornness, her intelligence, her grace, her tenacity, her kindness, her diligence. Those are the memories I choose for this anniversary. The memories that aren’t sugar coated but are the best examples for who she was and how she raised me.

I miss you, mama, everyday. But thank you for making me strong. Thank you for making me stubborn. Thank you for teaching me to not silence myself when I need help, have questions, or disagree. Thank you for continuing to remind me of the importance of love and compassion. Thank you for being my inspiration, now and always.

Where’s the Calm

My life this next week or so feels like it is coming on too quickly. The 18th will mark one year since my mom passed. And every part of me is rejecting that notion. They say (don’t ask me who they is) that there is a calm before the storm. But I don’t think there’s the same occurrence in the storms of our life.

Part of me worries that I’m not thinking of her as often as I should be. That she’d be upset or sad by the fact that she’s not omnipresent in my mind. That she is having major FOMO right now. But then Shelly and I watch a tv show or movie and there is a character whose mom is sick or dying or already gone. And we sit there in shock. Let me tell you, there are lots of tv shows and movies like this. You don’t realize it until its something your body can’t help but respond to.

It sure feels like there is already a storm raging inside of me. And I know it will only get more intense as the week moves on. But I am hopeful: hopeful that I am making her proud, hopeful that she is happy, hopeful that this will just be a part of my growth on the journey.

And then I feel her presence and know I don’t have to hope, because all of those things are true.

Cyclical

I’ve been writing this blog in my head since my last post.  Writing and rewriting and editing and scrapping everything because it didn’t feel right.  Not the right time, not the right place, not what I needed right now.

Grief does two things to me I have found:  it pushes me inward and closes me off from the world around me–it causes me to focus on me and my tight knit circle who I love and trust.  But it also does somewhat of the opposite because it also makes me super needy–I covet communication with my closest friends–I covet their support and words and love and embrace.  I reach out often, probably way too much.  I become that girl.  And sometimes I fear it makes me too clingy and overbearing.

I’ve cancelled a lot of plans recently.  It’s nothing against those people or events.  I just am discovering more and more what I need.  And I am allowing myself to hold fast to that.  I have no apologies for it.  Explanation when it involves members of my tribe, but never apologies.  That wouldn’t be true to me or what I need.  And just a word of warning–I don’t plan to apologize for doing what I need to in order to grieve.  My grief is mine, no one else’s, and I won’t be held to someone else’s expectations of what my process should look like.  I have to proceed in ways that will heal me and help me grow. So, if I am not reaching out to you: first, don’t be offended but second, please don’t try to insert yourself.  I can only handle so much–and I decide when and what that is. I am sure in your mind its a nice sentiment, but it’s not helpful at this point. I want to be as authentic and real as possible, but I do try to avoid hurting feelings along the way. However, I’m at a place where I can’t forfeit my well-being for someone else’s. I’ve been reminded a lot this week to “do me”. And in an effort to do just that I put out the disclaimer because otherwise it will lead to 1) me coming across as rude in my blatant dismissal of whatever you put forth or 2) my strained, half-hearted, insincere appreciation that is unfounded and untrue.  And those aren’t fair to anyone.  Grief hasn’t hardened me, not in this way.  It has helped me get back to the core of me.  And so, this may seem unseen or unusual–but I have to have authenticity.  Anything less creates chaos for everyone involved.

Thank you to those who have let me cling. To those who have reminded me being “self-centered” is okay. To those who have seen me at my worst and keep coming back. Thank you for listening to what I need. This next week is going to be unbearable. It’s going to shake me to my core. I know I’ll be stuck in a fog of sorts. In some ways I already have been. It won’t ever be solved. It won’t ever disappear. But I do believe it will change and evolve and teach me things along the way. It’s already taught me loads about who I need to be and what I need to go from day to day. It’s taught me about self-care and being unapologetically me. It’s taught me about who I surround myself with and how to rely on my faith when all else fails. This entire experience has seen me grow, and if for nothing else I am humbled by that.

I Find Her in the Words

One month to go. Less than really. And it doesn’t seem any more real than it did a year ago. There’s this strange time between 2/22 and 3/18 that will always leave me in a haze of wonderment.

I talked to one of my many “sisters” today. She brings much solace to my soul through her insight, mystical soul, and youngest camaraderie. Her words today soothed me, enlivened the song in my heart, and reminded me to keep watch.

No one will understand exactly what my grief is like. No one will understand perfectly my journey and purpose on this earth. But several know pieces. And I am thankful for how those pieces and those people are bound together. So when I feel sad or lost or without hope or direction I still have places to turn.

The words of others are just amplifying her words. They are bringing new insight, shedding new light, and constant reminders of her presence and being in the here and now. Today I am thankful for the thin places where I can hear her, where I can feel her, where I know she is reaching out fully of laughter and grace.

I am thankful for the memories other people share so I can continue getting to know her. So that when I am too tired to grasp on to the fragments of her there are still pages flooding in that keep her story in print.

I can remember the joy and wonder she had 30 years ago of being a mom again and welcoming you into this world. May this year and new decade be filled with many blessings and opportunities.

Blessings and opportunities. These are things I can create.

The Month of Me

I believe in birthdays. Especially BIG birthdays. I don’t just like celebrating mine, but others’ special days as well. This year, I turned 30. One of my friends warned me that I would dread my birthday as it neared and that I’d start freaking out about my “impending doom”. But I didn’t. I actually am quite excited about my 30’s. It makes me think of the 13 going on 30 movie quote “thirty and flirty and thriving”.

I’ve made a list for myself of thirty things I want to accomplish in my 30th year. Some are big. Some are small. But I am ready to start tackling them. I’m excited to push myself. I’m excited to try new things. I’m excited to experience the world differently. And it starts now.

This weekend I got to celebrate my birthday with my nearest and dearest friends. Words can’t even describe how much it has meant to me. We’ve had dinners, went to a comedy show, crafted, hosted them in our home for food and games, etc. Time spent with these people makes me so happy. They make me laugh, build me up, and prove to me that I am loved.

I am glad to have found my people. And I am glad to have a close circle. These people are my people (no Biblical pun intended). Friendships haven’t always been easy for me. Life hasn’t always been easy. But having these people along for the ride is wonderful.

Thank you to everyone who made this the best birthday yet. To those who donated to my Facebook fundraiser; thank you. To those who gave me a gift or card or bought me a meal; thank you. To those who showed up and reminded me that I have people in my corner; thank you.

Every Intention

I have had every intention of writing a post the last few days. I’ve had several different thoughts and paths, it hasn’t been a lack of subject. But I have stayed true to my commitment. I’ve been lazy and apathetic. And, in some ways, shows me my own humanity. There is a lack of perfection. There is a lack of always being or doing right.

So I wrote now. I make the change now.

Music has been a constant theme of my last week. Singer/songwriter, folk, Americana, indie: songs I’ve grown up on, and songs that hold family importance, and songs that defined my college experience at school and in the summers. Music has been, is, and always will be a constant thread for me.

It soothes me, it grounds me, it pushes me to be better and to create. I feel it in my blood and in my bones and at the very core of me. It helps me be me.

Unsure.

I’m not always sure,

Where the journey will lead.

I just know,

I don’t walk it alone.

Community drives me forward,

It holds me close,

It pushes me to be me.

That is the deepest part of who I am,

At my core,

I am community.

Sabbath

This year I have chosen to add things to my routine for my Lenten Journey. I’m doing a photo a day and blog everyday. But growing up I distinctly remember being told that if we give up things for Lent that it doesn’t include Sundays. Because Sundays are like “mini Easters”. And so I decided, yesterday, that my sabbath time for my Lenten Journey this year would fall on Saturdays instead of Sundays. So I didn’t blog yesterday.

It works well for me that way. Saturday’s are generally my sabbath anyway, since I don’t work that day. So it’s a logical shift. But a new one for me.

I am thankful for tradition, routine, and newness.

Poetry

I told myself today that I was going to get a lot done. Cleaning, shopping, taking things to Good Will, taking recycle. And I told myself I was going to write a poem for my blog.

The first stuff happened. And then I went to lunch with some of my favorite people. And then I got distracted by a fundraising campaign (check it out here: http://www.gofundme.com/bennettgiveback). And I didn’t create a poem. Maybe tomorrow.

I am thankful for goals and the ways I’ve been pushing myself physically and spiritually. But sometimes we need to allow ourselves to rest, to not always take great strides toward the end in sight. Sometimes we just need to breathe.

Here’s to an evening of breathing and a day of creating tomorrow.