Category Archives: People

Good Wine, Good Food, Good Friend

Five years ago I felt like my world collapsed. I honestly thought I was only surviving so that my daughter wouldn’t have to lose both parents. I didn’t want her to feel any more pain than she had to feel. Then in April, I was slapped by death again as I lost my grandma. I kept going because I couldn’t do anything else. In June of that year, death beat me down again as my Dad lost his battle with cancer. Keep moving, wall up the heart and close the gates of emotion. Ha! Not easily done. Honestly? It was probably the worst thing I could have done. But let’s fast forward five years, I think I have dwelt enough in the past.

This weekend I spent some time with friends. It was great! It usually is, I have pretty good friends :). We went to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard in Mackinaw, Illinois. It was the second time I had been there and it was just as nice as the first. The first time I went with a group of friends to a wine and chocolate tasting, this time, we went and saw a murder mystery. It was so much fun! Dinner was tasty and the company was great! The little murder mystery play was put on by a small company of 2 people, a married couple, with the assistance from audience members. All of this with dinner and dessert in between. The wine you could purchase by the glass or by the bottle from the vineyard. I am partial to the sweet wines and really enjoyed their Edelweiss and Diane’s Desire.

All of that was great, but the nicest and scariest part of the night was when a person that I had gotten to know during the horrible year of pain came up to me and said hi! I haven’t really seen much of anyone from that year in person for quite some time. I was a mess that year and not my best me, so when I run into someone from that year in person I have to stop a second and try to remember through the fog. I remembered her right away of course and was happy to see her. I’ll call her K for the purpose of this post. K looked happy and was with her husband. It was really great to see her happy and to get to spend time with her. The scary part, for me, is the question. The question that everyone who hasn’t seen me since that time asks, “How are you?”. My standard answer is I’m good. I found that this time it’s true. I really am doing good. I mean my life isn’t cake or anything, but it’s good :). I have a great daughter, a wonderful family, awesome friends and a life that I didn’t think would be possible 5 years ago.

The second question I hate getting when I meet someone after a long absence is “What are you doing now?”. I hate this question because when I explain my current life to people I get mixed reactions. I was not able to secure a teaching position after I finished my Master’s in Education degree. I know why and it stings horribly. I have been told by several that I would make a good teacher, so why don’t I have a teaching job? Well several reasons possibly, lots of people looking and few jobs in my area are at the top of the list. But I know the real reason and it bothers me tremendously. That, however, is a story for another day. The main reason I hate this question is because there are those who see my lifestyle as lazy or irresponsible. My choices are my own, for the most part, and I weigh each one heavily. Some do not agree and others just nod as if this all they expected of me. While I don’t always like the path that I have been forced to forge on my own, I am ok with my decisions. Yes, even the ones that I later regret.Why? Because I know that life isn’t easy and it so frequently lobs rocks and digs pitfalls and tries to drown a person at every turn. I have a choice, I can constantly bemoan those rocks, pitfalls, and tons of water, or I can see past all of that to the rainbows, the helping hands, the green trees and the blue skies. I can choose to see the smile on my daughters face or hear the laughter of my friends rather than the tears I have cried and the pain that I endure. Life is about choices and I accept the responsibility of all of my choices, the good and the bad.

My lost acquaintance/friend asked this very question and I asked it of her in return. K seems to be doing well and really likes her job. I am so happy for her! When I told her what I am doing now there was no judgment in her face and for once I didn’t feel worried that this knowledge would cost me a potential relationship. This was also the first time that I called myself a writer, so that was a little scary. I am so glad that I ran into K and her husband! It was nice to see someone from that year of hell and not feel awkward or like an utter failure. K is just as nice as I remember her and I look forward to getting to know her again.

As for the other stuff. I think too much! Here is me, my friends, down and dirty! I am a mother, semi-hoarder(I’m getting better at that), an artist, a teacher, a writer, a gym goer, a pescatarian, an art lover, a B-movie watcher, wine drinking, cussing, animal loving, goofy, middle-aged, young at heart, emotional,  thinks too much about herself and not enough about the world around her(working on this too) person. This is me, unapologetically me!

This weekend taught me a little bit more about myself and I am good with what I learned. Also, this weekend rocked! I had good friends surrounding me, good food to eat, good wine to drink and it was amazing!

So here is to you, my friends! May you always have enough of everything! Love to all!

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Love

It’s been awhile since I have written on youmakeyourown I’ve been over at my findidngbalanceinacrazyworld.wordpress.com blog. I apologize for that. This blog is what started it all, I began here because I needed an outlet for my emotions when I went through the year of death and fog. Many of you have read other posts here but for those of you who have not, I will give a brief recap of the year of 2011. January, 12th my husband died, April 16th(I think) my grandmother died and on June 25th my Dad died. The first month of that new year was awful, the next five added more grief and I was lost. The only thing that kept me focused was my student teaching though I fear I did not do that well.

Anyway, that is 2011 in a recap, death, fog, depression, determination, anger and fear. Fast forward to 2016 and those have been replaced with more positive emotions. The first 12 days of January still tend to be a bit rough. I love this blog because of what it allowed me to do, so my goal for this year is to write on here a minimum of once a month. I will share all sorts of things that open the emotional floodgates. Some may be light hearted and fun and some may be a bit sad. I am also thinking of adding a page for creative inspiration :). For now here is something I wrote a few days ago. It expresses what I’ve been feeling of late. I need to remember that moving forward with my life does not mean forgetting my life with Justin, it simply means I am ready to open my heart to the possibility of more love.

Love

Broken

Scared

Maimed

The heart that beats in my chest

Thump, bump, thump

Full of love

Courage

Strength

The heart that beats in my chest

Bump, thump, thump

Scared

Unsure

Guilty

The heart that beats in my chest

Thump, thump, bump

It stutters at the loss it has felt

It staggers at the possibility of more love

It feels guilt

It feels happiness

Broken

Unsure

It feels Love

Thanks for reading! Love to all!

Not Pretending Anymore

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time for resolutions and promises. Many of these won’t be kept. We make them in the flush of the new year because a new year brings renewed hope. Hope that this new year can be different, that we can change, that the world can change, that life doesn’t have to be so crappy. So many of these resolutions fizzle out or never get started. I think this is because we forget what hard work it is to change, to be different. Change doesn’t dance up to your door, knock and say “Hi! I hear you need a change!”  hand us a big gift wrapped box with a pretty bow and dance away to the next house. No, we have to accept that we are in charge of our own lives and it takes work. Exhausting, hard work that doesn’t always yield the desired results. So why the F*** do we even bother? Hmmmm…good question. I think I’ve been asking myself this question for most of my life. I have asked it nearly everyday for the last 4 years. In 2011 the new year brought me loss. I lost my husband, my grandmother and my dad in the first 6 months of that horrid New Year. Since then I have felt angry, sad, and hopeless. After awhile people don’t like to hear about how horrible you feel, they want you to be who you were so they can feel ok about continuing with their lives. I was so angry at these people. The truth is they had lives to live and I couldn’t ask them to stop living and join me in my little bubble of anger and depression. I decided, as many grieving people do, to put on a mask and pretend that I was getting better, that I was happy. It worked and for the last four years I have lived in a world of make-believe where everything is peachy keen jelly bean 🙂 Every now and again I could let the mask fall and show my true feelings. Hey it’s how life goes after loss right? I kept pretending and life moved forward.

Now I know this not what you want to hear on the Eve of a promising New Year, so let me assure you that this story has a happy ending, or maybe I should call it a hopeful beginning.

A few short months ago I realized somehow I let go of the anger. I was so tired of being angry with everything. My situation, failures, people, everything. Being angry is exhausting! After Justin(my husband) passed I had a tattoo done on my wrist. It reads “You Make Your Own”. It was something he used to say, mostly for himself I think. I wanted to remember what those words meant. You make your own happiness, your own anger, your own hopeful or hopelessness, your own sadness. How you see life and what you do with it is your choice. Those choices may sometimes be hindered by others or situations beyond your control. This is when you need to remember the most that you make your own, because while you may not have control over the situation, you do have control over how you respond to the situation or the person. I have had this tattoo for nearly 4 years, I had heard this said for nearly eight years. One would think that I would be able to remember this important part of living life. I forgot for a time. Something happened in the years of pretending to be ok. I woke up one morning and understood that I wasn’t pretending anymore. I felt suddenly free and truly happy! I wasn’t just pretending, no more make-believe:) I really am happy. No more anger, sadness, hopelessness, just happy. For the first time in a long while I have hope for the New Year. I understand that I will feel anger and sadness when different situations pop up, but I also know that those feelings are under my control not someone else’s. I will be able to let them go.

For the first time in my life I realize that I love me, and I am ok with my life and the ups and downs and twists and turns. I know that things could be better, but I also know they could be far worse. So…I choose to be ok, I choose to be happy:)

I AM HAPPY!!!

Here’s to a Hopeful New Year! May all of yours be wonderful!

Let’s Take A Walk

Do you walk the smooth path or forge your own path? Should we take the smooth path? Is there really such a thing as a smooth path?

I think all paths are bumpy. I think they should be. We weren’t meant to walk smooth, sunny paths all the time. We are meant to discover things and live life! How can we do that if we stay on a smooth path all our lives? Sometimes the roughest paths can lead us to the most beautiful places. Places were we find ourselves and really learn what life is about.

We need to climb the mountains and walk through the forests. Stumble over a rock or tree root, be afraid, take a leap, fight the storms, feel the pelting rain and the hail. Climb over a fallen tree, stand on the edge of the cliff. If we never have the fear, the pain, the grief then how can we appreciate, really appreciate, the hope, the love, the beauty that surrounds us?

I don’t want someone to smooth the path for me. I want to walk the bumpy road. Maybe a note or sign “Make sure your sneakers are tied it gets really rough up ahead” or a hand to hold during the really tough parts. I want to learn from life, make my own mistakes, listen to the stories of others who have lived and walked the same path, learn and pass that on. I don’t want trees cut down or rocks moved out of the way. A cheering section might be nice:)

I know that there will be times I will be the first to walk a path and that I might I have to leave a sign for the next person or pause lend a hand to someone else. I’m ok with that.

Life is a journey. Sometimes it’s rough and you fall a lot, but there are so many wonderful people and things to pick your self up for and keep moving ahead. So go ahead, take the tough path. Maybe we’ll run into each other 🙂

Jealousy Rains Supreme

The Green Eyed Monster has reared its ugly head inside my brain and is making its mission to conquer my heart. As a mother you believe that no one can parent your child as well as you, no one can possibly understand your child the way you do, or help them the way you can. You are after all his/her/their parent, to them you are everything and everything you say is gospel truth, right!? Right? Maybe? No. Once your kids start school you are no longer the end all be all in their life. Their teachers and their friends now know WAY more than you ever did. When my daughter started Kindergarten I accepted this, her teachers then and since have been good teachers.

But what happens when you invite someone in to your home? What happens when you take on a roommate out of necessity or kindness? What happens when that roommate becomes comfortable with correcting your child? Hmmmmmmmmmm………………maybe the most important question is “What happens when it seems your child would rather hang out with your roommate?” This is when the questioning begins. Am I a good parent? Have done something wrong to make my child not want me to help with homework, play games, or ask questions, etc…? You know the general “What the F*** is wrong with me? questions. So I have been dealing with the jealous monster in my head for a little and I can usually talk it away, but something has changed and the monster has begun to win.

I think war was really shoved to the forefront when Anastasia’s report card came. I was talking to Anastasia about her teacher’s comments and all of a sudden the roommate was attempting to work with her on the areas the teacher said needed work. I hadn’t even finished talking to Anastasia about it and roommate was already taking it upon herself to direct my daughters studies. I didn’t say anything to roommate because I thought maybe it was the G.E.M. again. Unfortunately I can’t stop thinking about it and I have since been picking at every little thing and asking myself “Is she trying to be my daughter’s parent? MY DAUGHTER! Not yours!” As these words reverberate through my head I try to tell myself that roommate is just trying to help and I am being a paranoid freak. Then I ask myself why is Anastasia writing cute little letters to roommate and roommate writing letters back? Why I am left out of the loop? Why is my little girl drawing pictures and dedicating her Hoops for Heart donation collection to roommate? What about her Dad who died due to heart and kidney related issues? What about her various family members that have high blood pressure? What about the woman who is doing her best to raise her? The thing is we only get to be a part of our kids everyday lives for a short time, then they begin to really grow up and they don’t need us like they did when they were little. Anastasia is only 7 years old, in the blink of an eye she’ll be an adult and begin to form connections with people that will take her even farther away from me. Whether it seems it or not I am very grateful that she has so many people that care about and love her. But I am her mother and a majority of her life lessons will come from me and so the jealous monster says that gives me the right to want and need for me to be her everything at least while she’s little. But does it really?

Tonight I made my daughter feel guilty about not wanting my help. Tonight I was a bad mother. Tonight I made my daughter cry for no other reason than I was feeling tossed aside like yesterdays newspaper.Tonight I will be making attempts to amend my bad behavior and get the Green Eyed Monster back in its cage. Tonight I will try to put those questions out of my head. Tonight I will accept that I am a good mother and that I am human and make mistakes. Tonight I will ask for help from those who have might also had these thoughts and feelings. Let me know how you deal with it so that I can learn and be an even better mother.

Odd Holiday Thoughts

I was sitting here thinking about Christmas and everything that goes with it, when all of a sudden a crazy thought popped into my head. “I should get baptized” I thought. Then came the thought “What!? Why!?” If you read this blog and you know me then you will understand why this was a crazy thought, if you don’t know me then the following may help you decipher why I believe this to be such a weird thing.

Most baptisms that I have witnessed require the person getting baptized to state why he/she is doing so, to affirm faith or what not. When I thought about what I might write this what came to mind.

Dear Congregation and Minster,

I only come to your church on Christmas Eve as a guest and after today that probably won’t change. I do believe in God, I may not believe everything that the Bible says, because it was written down by men a very long time ago in a language that people are having trouble translating. I love God! I think She’s great! I am here today to get baptized, not for God, but for my family who believes that this will bring me closer to Him. God knows me, knows what is in my heart, much like Santa knows when kids have been naughty or nice(it’s a joke people lighten up!) Because God knows me so well She doesn’t care what I call my belief in Him, names do not matter. If the name and ways I choose to express my belief in God do not matter to Him then why should dousing myself in water matter to Him?

I do not live my life to please God. That would be like living my life to please my mother. It would make her greatly happy but chances are I would be miserable. If my mother bases her happiness on whether or not I do what she thinks I should then she will be continually disappointed. I do not ask myself everyday “What would God do? or What would Jesus do?” Instead I ask myself “What can I do to be the best person I can be? Will my actions be selfless or selfish?” And sometimes I am selfish and sometimes I am selfless, other times I fall in between. If I lived my life to please God then I would be completely miserable all the time worrying and wondering if I have done enough, been enough. God loves me and does not want me to be miserable. So I live with God in my heart and I am true to myself and so I am happy. I do not feel that I will be shut out of Heaven simply because I do not live to please God, I do not believe that I will be sentenced to a fiery pit in Hell because I do not get baptized. God loves me and accepts me for who I am. So I do this for family and friends who do believe that we won’t be together in Heaven if I am not baptized, to ease their minds, so they will have physical confirmation of a truth I already know .

Sincerely,

Me

This is the letter that I would write for my baptism, if I ever decide to do it. Of course they would probably throw the Bible at my head and tell me to vacate the baptismal area…..but hey! it’s my truth and I haven’t been struck down by lightning. What’s your truth? Are brave enough to share it?