Tag Archives: Happiness

Scar Tissue

Today, the scar on my heart burns.

The memories are not painful anymore, they are bittersweet. Today, though, today they ache and burn something fierce! The need to have you here is an all too familiar feeling, but today it is one that no words seem to be able to dispel. Life is tough and I have learned to live it in-spite of it’s rough edges. I have found joy in between the waves of pain. I have found strength in laughter and in tears. Life has not been easy but it has been doable.

Today, however, I feel as though I am putting on a facade. I have walked through the day with a burning scar heating up my chest, with an emptiness that is difficult to fill. I have smiled but not really felt happy. I have a bone deep weariness weighing me down. I’m not sure why this date this year is particularly hard. I have been thinking about you a lot of late. Not that you are ever very far from my mind. I feel the need to talk to you and hear your thoughts but you are not here. Friends and family are always willing to help. I love them for the generosity of their time, love, and patience. I’m not sure I would be where I am now if it were not for them. Unfortunately, they can not give me what you could. I miss your shoulder to rest my head on and your hand in mine.

Today will pass and you will still be gone, so I must attempt to quiet the pain in my heart. Ease the burn of the scar tissue. I have done it before and I will again, but the scar will always remain.

Love has a price but it is worth every penny.


A Budget of $0

Hello, family and friends and readers of my blog. This is just a note to let you know that I am not crazy or in an irrational state of mind :). I am, however, in a mood to do something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, remodel my kitchen. Here are some pics

I have been watching DIY shows and looking through Pinterest and HGTV magazines for years and I finally have an idea of what I want to do to my kitchen. No, I do not have a budget. I am a single mom with a part time job and the dreams of being a professional writer. My bank account frequently screams in agony and every time I use my debit card I hear alarm bells sounding. This will not stop me and here’s why.

Life is really fucking short! It’s too short to wait until the “perfect moment” and definitely too short to wait for my bank account to always be in the black. Life is too short to sit around and whisper “someday” into the air. My someday is now. To some of you, this might seem foolish, stupid and perhaps a bit absurd. I mean who starts a remodel without having a budget in place!

The answer to that, perfectly understandable, question is this: someone who doesn’t need near instant gratification, someone who plans on doing most, if not all, the work herself. Yes, I do have big plans. Yes, I do know that not all of those plans will work. After all, I am not a plumber or an electrician. I do know how to hang drywall and swing a sledgehammer, I can use a saw and put down tile. I plan on doing things slowly and scouring places like the Habitat for Humanity Restore, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army for materials. I also plan on using some material from my basement that will no longer be needed down there. I will price and shop around for needed supplies and buy them as money comes available. I am in no hurry. In fact, I want this project to take a little while. Believe it or not, this project is helping me deal with stress as well as satisfy my desire to remodel. I am not perfect and I am sure there will be times when I curse myself for even starting this project. Mostly, though, I am happy. I am adding to my coping skills. In the past, I have used retail therapy and food to cope with stress and feelings of inadequacy. Today I am using my writing, the gym, and now home improvement projects to cope.

The last, almost, 6 years has been rough. I have walked that long, lonely road of grief and I have done and said some stupid and crazy things. Through it all, I have had my family and friends standing beside me letting me know that I am safe and loved. These past 2 years or so I have finally decided it is ok to be happy and I am figuring out what that means. I have had to rediscover who I am and who I want to be. Please try not worry, I am ok and I do know what I am doing, for the most part ;).

Just so you know, I will still complain about not having any money. That is a never ending situation no matter what I am or am not doing. Love to all! I will continue to share my Remodel on a Budget of $0. Demoing is kind of fun, the clean up not so much.

No Money, Stressed, But Positive

I have done it quite brilliantly this time! I have managed to put my finances so far into the toilet that there is no way for it to be fixed. Yep, about negative $500 in my account and growing. Went to Walmart with the charge card to get a few things and it was promptly declined. Now I am in panic mode. WHAT IN THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO?  Did I mention that the outlet in my bathroom doesn’t work, my dryer is near death and my stove is acting up? Yeah, I am in one hell of a shit storm right now. Again, what the hell am I going to do?

I am going to take a deep breath, get as many hours as I can at work, have a garage sale and remember that as life goes, mine is actually very good. I have had some craptastic moments but I also have a bunch of wonderful people in my life who are there for me in those moments.

What I am not going to do is sit around feeling sorry for myself or blame other people. It is no one else’s fault that I am not good with money. It is no one else’s fault that I use loans to dig myself out of holes, temporary fixes. Now all of that has caught up with me and I have to do what I should have done in the first place. Pay bills and quit spending money.

Please do not think badly of me, I was, at one time in a more financially stable place. Truth be told I would still be there except I went ahead with the publishing of my book when I should have waited. Shoulda woulda coulda will not get my money back and neither will sitting on my ass crying about it.

The point, my friends, is that when life throws up rough spots you can either boo hoo or you can stand up and take action. You can blame others or you can take responsibility for yourself and your life. I have always believed: You can’t control other people but you can control yourself and how you react.

Living in a constant cloud of negativity makes me feel like crap. I don’t mean feeling bad for a day or even a week, I am talking about constantly complaining about life. I think that if a person continually focuses on the bad things then that is all they will ever see. If instead, a person looks for the good things then the rough stuff becomes easier to work through.

Life is full of big bad stuff that is harder to overcome and takes a lot of people working together to change. Why then would I choose to focus on the little things all the time? Be angry, friends, be sad, shout some curse words, sheds some tears, then take a deep breath and let it go, because life is too short to hang to the little things that anger you. Instead, hang on to the little things that make you smile. Life is much better that way :).

Just a few little things that make me smile. There are much more 🙂


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!


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.





The heart that beats in my chest

Thump, bump, thump

Full of love



The heart that beats in my chest

Bump, thump, thump




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



It feels Love

Thanks for reading! Love to all!

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 .



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?

Thanks Giving #1

Justin wrote this about 2 months and 12 days before he died. At this point he didn’t know that his kidney was failing again, he hadn’t had any confirmation from the doctors anyway. Something inside was telling him he wasn’t long for this world. For me his death came suddenly, for him not so much. He seemed to know that his time was short. I am sharing this because I am Thankful for the time that I got to spend with this man. I wish I had more time, but I am thankful for the time I was given. Without further ado…….

Justin Prather

November 2010

 With Thanksgiving around the corner I’m reminded of what to be thankful for. Often I’m blinded by what I want instead of seeing what I have. Looking back at my life wondering when was the defining moment? When did I become who I am?

 Life has taught me that its not what you have its what you do with it. I was twenty when I found out my kidneys were failing. At first I was optimistic thinking No believing that I could somehow change what was happening. Slowly I got weaker losing my fight despite my positive outlook. I felt betrayed by my body defeated by this world that was taking me away. I would like to say I was strong that I held on to something anything. But the truth is I turned my back to everything falling into my own darkness. Not caring living to die waiting for my day to come.

 The years pasted slowly leaving only a haze over my wounded eyes. Unable to see unwilling to be lost within my own mind. Time the constant reminder of my failure taking comfort from my own suffering. Nine years pass and I was just a shadow of what I once was. Haunted by the ghosts from my past unable to let go of the dream. The silent voice whispering within my heart reminding me of the spark. The light that was still burning within my eyes even though I refused to see. The desire of wanting to be crumbling the walls that were holding me.

 I have been given a second chance to right a wrong. Life is an experience and a journey. No matter how far you traveled or how much you learn you will leave this earth exactly were you started. True happiness comes from believing you are happy. The secret of life is to love to live because life is a gift. And as long as you hold on to your dreams letting them inspire you to be more you will become..

 My time may be short but I am thankful to be here, Happy to be alive, And I will die knowing the child within………



What does it mean to be happy? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that happiness is “a state of well being and contentment.” So I guess the question is “What brings a person to a state of well being or contentment?”

I have said, on more than one occasion, all I want is to be happy. That is the truth, it is all I really want out of life, to be happy. I don’t want euphoria, or face splitting smiling happy…no, I want happy. Just your basic average run of the mill contentment. To wake up every morning and feel that all is okay. No, I do not need to jump out of bed every morning screaming “YIPPEE! IT’S ANOTHER BEEEEEEAUUUTIIIFULLLLL DAY!” But it would be nice to wake up, stretch like a cat, and smile at the alarm clock. You know, instead of wanting to rip its plug out of the wall and hurl through the window. I know you know what I’m talking about. Unless of course you are one of those people who do jump out of bed screaming “YIPPEE!” In which case somebody should beat you upside the head with a frying pan….okay I’m only joking 😉

So back to my question “what does bring someone to a state of well being and contentment?” And for you adult type people who are currently thinking of a certain physical act done primarily in the horizontal position…uh huh, I know some of you are thinking it so bring your mind out of the bedroom and back into the conversation.  What is it that we really need to be happy? Is happiness achieved by a big paycheck? A new car? A house of your very own? Electronic gadgets? New clothes, shoes, accessories? Or is it something less concrete, more abstract? The smell of freshly mowed grass, the feeling you get when winter is wrapping up and the first buds appear on the trees? The smile on your child’s face? The way your heart pounds after a good exercise? The feeling of pride when you’ve finished a tough task? Maybe a combination of concrete and abstract?

Last year when Justin died I didn’t think I would be able to survive living let alone think about being happy again. Then my Grandma died and then my Dad followed not too much later and happiness became a distant memory. Looking back on it I know there were times when I smiled and laughed and seemed like I was finding happiness again. In all honesty I was trying to play a part, be the person everyone wanted to see. Let’s face it people, no matter how much tragedy a person faces we expect them to be able to move on and smile again. This expectation is completely and utterly stupid. Yes I said it…STUPID. When we experience a sorrow or a tragedy we can’t just pick up the pieces and expect them to fit perfectly the way the did before the tragedy. No, we have to find a new way to put the pieces back together and no matter how we manage to fit them together some pieces will be missing and our lives will never look quite the same. Because of this we have to take our time and find a new normal and a new way to be happy. And for God sake don’t expect the person to be Ms. or Mr. Mary Sunshine! Again STUPID! In time we all find our own happiness and we all know that it doesn’t happen over night and we all know that no one is happy 24/7, 365 days a year. Sometimes people are angry or sad, jealous, excited, and yes just plain happy. Our moods can cycle around a lot during any given day.

Okay I am off of that tangent and back on track. So it has been 1 year and almost 9 months since Justin died and I am now figuring out what it is that makes me happy. This is something that I have never fully considered during my short life and so I find it interesting that I am thinking about it now. Of course the reason I am thinking about it now is that I can see that my life does not have to be all frowns and misery. Justin wouldn’t want that, Anastasia doesn’t need to see that, and quite honestly…I deserve to be happy. At first I felt a little selfish and guilty for wanting to be happy. I mean, how can I be happy when I no longer have my Justin, my light, my rock, the person who loved me unconditionally? So after I tortured myself with this guilt for about oh…WAY TOO LONG! I realized that by letting myself be happy I was honoring Justin, Grandma, Dad, and all the people who still stand around me today. I was also honoring myself and the life I have yet to live. So, I decided to take a journey into finding what makes me happy. I don’t have it all figured out yet, it is a process just like everything else in life. But here is what I have so far.

I feel happy when I am reading a book, fixing a meal for Anastasia, being able to drop Anastasia off at school and pick her up after school. I feel happy when I wear a new shirt that looks good on me. I feel happy in the Spring when the weather is still cool but you can feel the warmth from the sun, when the birds are building nests and the flowers and trees start budding. I feel happy in the fall when the leaves change colors and the air starts to smell like pumpkins and damp earth. I feel happy when I complete a DIY project(even if I have injured myself or it isn’t perfect;)). I feel happy when I smell coffee beans and citrus fruit and baked goods. I feel happy when I see jack-o-lanterns and turkeys(YUM!). I feel happy when I hear Anastasia laughing.

There is so much more that I know I will add to the list, but I think that’s good for now. I am slowly coming to realize that just because I have a rough day, hour, minute, whatever, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a happy person, it just means that I am human and as a human I have a multitude of different feelings that will present themselves at any given moment, sometimes even at inappropriate moments. There will be days when I don’t completely understand why I am feeling a certain way, but at least now I can recognize things that make me happy and that it is okay to be happy.

One last note. As people we do things to each other that is often horrific, rude, and unpardonable. If your list of what makes you happy is full of only people, you are setting yourself up to be hurt. You have to be brave enough to look outside of people for happiness. Open yourself up to the outside world, don’t close yourself into a little box. This doesn’t mean that you should hole up in your house and never talk to anyone again, it just means that you have to fill your life with both the concrete and the abstract so that when you do lose a person from your list(because it will happen whether we want it to or not) your foundation doesn’t crumble. I will always have my memories of Justin, Grandma, and Dad, but I will never have them again. If I based my happiness only on having those people in my life right here and now, I would not be able to be happy. But because I recognize that I will always have the memories and the other things and people that make me feel happy I can begin to smile again for real. Find the balance and smile as much as your heart will allow. Remember you are only as happy as you let yourself be(I think Abe Lincoln said that) 😉