It’s Possible

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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to pursue a career where it enabled me to be available for my family.  I knew from the moment I had my children, I was on a quest to find that something.  It became even more of a quest when I lost Ryan.  For the past 4 years, I knew I would have to find something to fit into my new life as a single mom.

I am so beyond excited that I am able to make this happen by finally taking a chance and stepping out of what I view as my comfort zone.  Although what I am pursuing I am in love with.  But parts of it, like anything new, I need to learn so I am confident in myself. I am going to be a travel planner with a wonderful agency called Practically Perfect Vacations!  I am taking my love of travel, particularly Disney, and helping others plan their own magical trips like I have been blessed to take with my children.

I am not sure who is more excited…me or my kids!  I just know, once again, my life is full of blessings and wonderful people who believe in me and encourage me.  I am so excited to have this fabulous opportunity!  I look forward to sharing my knowledge with all of you in addition to my crazy every day life adventures like I have been doing from the beginning.

To plug or not to plug?  I will simply leave it to you my dedicated readers, to check out my information in my About Me Section.

What I have learned…

I have learned so much about myself over the past 4 years but especially the past few days of sharing some of the hardest times I have had so far.

I have learned~

I am strong.

I have 3 amazing kids.

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I loved (still do) an amazing man.

I am human.

I have an amazing support system.

I don’t have all the answers and that’s OK.

People will let you down.

Life is hard.

I make mistakes.

I am enough.

I need to accept help and know it is not a sign of weakness.

I am doing the best I can with what I have at this moment.

I am a good mom.

I can do anything I set my mind to.

It’s OK to let go of people who are not good for you.

It’s OK to still be sad.

I am allowed to cry.

I don’t need everyone’s approval.

I am allowed to be angry.

I still can find joy in my life.

I can still laugh.

I don’t have to be strong for everyone.

I have amazing friends.

I am living but not forgetting.

I had a wonderful marriage and best friend.

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I have so much more ahead of me.

I am blessed.

I may not have wanted this for my life but I am learning as I go through my grief.  I am learning that I am in charge of my life.  I know I am going to get through this and anything else that comes my way.  It may not be today. It may not be a year from now.  But I will get through my grief because I have so much to live for.

Taking a Stand

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Taking a stand isn’t always an easy thing to do.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t want to deal with the aftermath. Sometimes you choose not to because you are afraid.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t know if it is your place to do so.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t know how.  None the less, we have all been in a situation where it was necessary to do so.

For me, I have always done it on a quiet side.  I am easily frustrated and when I get frustrated I clam up and tend to forget what I want to say.  My frustration will cause me to get upset and then I feel it makes me look weak. I have been known to write everything I wanted to say down before taking a stand and addressing the issue. When I finally decided to take a stand against my family, I think I wrote down a list of everything I had wanted my mom to know that had been building up.  Even that afternoon when I let it all out, I forgot things.  The emotions took over.

I am struggling once again with how to take a stand on how people have treated a dear friend.  For the past year I have seen people turn on my friend for reasons I wish I knew. From what I can see there has been no merit. I have seen my friend been beaten down- for what?  For being overly generous with her time, her loyalty, generosity, her kindness?  For being a great mom, a hard worker, a business woman?  For despite having no support from family, still found the time to raise a family, work hard and take her passion and start her own business?  For being supportive and encouraging of her friends?  For being honest about her struggles with those who took the time to get to know her?  The last time I checked these are all qualities I look for in a friend.  But there are some people who see these as qualities of a mean person even a “bully”.  To those people, I feel sorry for you.  You have lost the opportunity to have an incredible human being in your life.  You have managed to hurt someone in ways no one should ever be hurt.  I am asking you to stop and move on.  I am asking you not to comment on this post.  This is MY blog and I have always used this as my platform to express MY feelings.

Maybe this isn’t really taking a stand because I am not even sure if the people read my blog anymore. I am sure some will view this as cowardly  I really don’t care if they do. This is how I can get it out without showing MY personal weakness.  I am not good at taking stands but I am trying to improve.  I am not always a good friend or person~no one is.  We are all human. We all make mistakes-I make them on a daily basis.  We all have feelings-they get hurt. We all need to remember that when dealing with each other. I am just disgusted on how people can be so cruel to others.  I just posted about how I was pretty much disgusted with myself as a parent so I am owning my own character flaws.  I am hurting for my friend.  It is not easy to see someone you care about completely broken and beat up.

 

Why Now?

Why Now?

I find myself asking this question on a daily basis lately.  Life has a way of challenging you.  Life has a way of making you look long and hard at yourself.  Life has a way of helping you realize things have changed or need to change.  You make a choice and move on but then all of a sudden the same challenge appears out of no where…why now?

When life throws these things out to you, you have to make the choice as to how you will face them.  Finding my voice has helped me during these times.  I made my decisions to move on because I didn’t deserve to be treated that way or made to feel I did something wrong.  Does it make it any easier of a decision?  Absolutely not.  I still feel.  I still care.  But I needed to do what was best for me.  And yet it the curve ball is thrown back…why now?

I am a firm believer in owning your responsibility in all you do.  If I treat someone unfairly, I will own it.  If I hurt someone whether it was intentional or not, I own it.  If I had anything to do with any conflict in my life, I own it.  But not everyone is like that when it comes to dealing with life’s curve balls.  So that is when I needed to make a choice…

Is this how I want to be treated?  Is this good for me and my life?  Is this it worth the effort even when it brings me pain?

The choice was made for ME and what was best for ME.   I moved on and moved forward because it is best for ME.  And yet I still ask ….Why Now?

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On the inside

On the outside I look like any other mom. I look like I am happy.  I look like I am enjoying life.  I smile.  I laugh.  I get out of bed.  I take care of my children.  I take care of my home.  I take of myself.  I have a business. I go on vacations.  I am participating in life. But on the inside I am empty.  I am drowning.  I am dying.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t sleep.  I can’t move.  I suffer from depression.  I suffer from anxiety. I am like many other women out there who suffer from this disease.

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I think I have always suffered from depression and anxiety.  But it wasn’t until my husband’s death that it all came to the surface.  It wasn’t until then that it took over my life.  I can clearly remember when I knew I was no longer able to control the disease.  It was a few weeks following Ryan’s death, my entire body ached.  Every time I moved, the pain was so intense.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I actually lost 12lbs in 10 days. I remember functioning but yet not really being all there.  But I thought it would pass.  The intense pain both physically and mentally would go away.  I just needed time.

Summer came.  We had made plans to go camping with my best friend and her family.  They made me promise not to back out.  So I packed us all up and we hopped into their RV and drove over 2 hours.  I remember making small talk.  I remember laughing.  I remember forcing myself to smile and try to have fun.  Then while we were camping I remember this feeling coming over me.  It was a feeling I had felt before many times.  But for some reason since Ryan’s death it intensified.  My heart was racing.  I couldn’t breathe.  I remember standing there watching my kids play and thinking what is happening and why can’t I control it and make it stop.  I was having an anxiety attack.  My best friend made me promise to call the doctor as soon as I got home.

I had my yearly with my OBGYN and I decided to just talk to him.  He sat there and cried with me.  I sobbed as I told him how I physically hurt.  I sobbed when I told him I just wanted to fall asleep and not have to wake up for a few days.  He grabbed my hands and looked me in the eyes and said you are suffering from depression.  Me?  No…not me.  He said it again and this time I just lost it.  I couldn’t stop sobbing.  I remember saying I have no time to be weak.  I have to be strong for my kids.  He asked me if I ever thought about ending my life.  I assured him I didn’t and that I never would harm myself.  I would never do that to my children.  But I told him I just don’t want to function anymore.  I just want to sleep.  I just want to close my eyes and not think for a while.  That was the truth.  If I could just temporarily “check out” for a while it would be OK.  I didn’t want to permanently check out.  But by saying those words I knew and he knew I needed help.

Together with my OBGYN and later with a therapist the decision was made that I needed to be on medication.  It took some time to get the right medication that would work for me.  I remember over the course of 8 months playing around with medication.  At first, it seemed to work.  But then as life continued, we had a lot of adjusting to do.  I remember taking a medication that worked but it caused me to gain 25lbs within 3 months!  That certainly didn’t help me feel good about myself or my life.  But thankfully I was able to find the correct medication and dosage that has worked thus far.  Once the old medication was out of my system, the weight melted away.  For me medication and therapy has helped me tremendously. Do I feel I have my depression under control?  Not completely. But I know, for me, this is what I need to do.

It is hard for some people to understand just how much depression affects your every day life.  I don’t hide this from anyone.  But I don’t go around telling people either.  I feel very fortunate that when I go into what I refer to “my funk”, I don’t ever get to the point where I want to end my life permanently.  But when I am in “my funk” it is extremely hard to function.  I not only hurt mentally but physically.  I just want to check out for a little or go into a sleep where I am not having to deal with anything and then slowly come out of it.  It consumes every ounce of you.

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Some people think this is a sign of weakness or an excuse.  I have been told I just need to suck it up and deal with it because being sad is not going to change anything.  This isn’t something I want to feel.  I want to be able to handle the bad times like everyone else does.  I want to be happy~truly happy. But I can’t.  I do the best I can.  I know I put on a brave front for more than just my children.  I know I shouldn’t have to and have actually begun not to.  I am open with my children.  They see me take my medication.  They know I take it to help me so I am not sad all the time.  They know what they can handle.  If I hide it, I am letting them think it is something to be ashamed of and it isn’t at all.

Suffering from any type of mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or ignore.  It is important to find the help you need and to start the long and sometimes painful process of trying to find ways to help you learn to live with it.  Not everyone will understand it and that is OK.  What works for one person may not work for you.  There is no quick fix.  It isn’t a once and done thing either.   Accepting this and focusing on what YOU need is so important.

I have begun to let people in my life know when I am struggling.  I no longer hide it. And the people who are the closest to me sometimes know before I do that I am heading into “my funk”.   I just took a major step in this area.  The holidays are my favorite time of the year.  But they are so hard anymore.  I really had a hard time this past holiday season.  I just wanted to escape.  But I felt I needed to be strong and deal with it for others. Well this holiday seasoning I am doing something I have said I wanted to do since losing Ryan.  I am escaping.  We are going away over Thanksgiving.  We will not miss any of the holiday season.  But it will be a little escape before it all begins.  I need this.  We need this.  So we are doing it.  I know there will be people who think escaping isn’t the answer and that is OK.  But I know there are people who understand the need to escape from reality even if it is just for a little bit.

Like Looking in a Mirror

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As parents we strive for our children to have a better life than we did.  It isn’t necessarily material things.  It can sometimes be personality qualities.  My oldest daughter had a therapy appointment and her therapist and I always have a little chat, with her present, before and afterwards.  When I first was told about her anxiety and self-esteem issues my heart broke.  As the weeks went by and after each session her therapist would always fill me in on things on a need to know basis. So it took awhile for me to put it together.  But this evening I was able to put it all together and it was like I was looking in the mirror.

This intelligent, beautiful, creative, fun-loving, silly little girl struggles to see how wonderful she is.  And right in front of her, I looked at her and her therapist and said, “Oh my gosh I am looking at me.”  She looked up at me and just smiled.  It was one of those smiles like you get me!  Boy do I ever get you!  On the car ride home, I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her.  I told her that we need to work on this and how I wanted her to learn sooner than later.  She smiled at me and it was one of the moments that I longed for with my own mom.

I know how she feels about herself isn’t something I did.  But I feel like it is.  I never spoke up for myself.  I never questioned anything even if I knew it was not right.  I never did anything to make anyone mad at me.  I hated conflict.  I struggled to find anything good about myself.  I didn’t have anyone to encourage me to not be or feel like this about myself.  I was just so insecure and I just – ugh!  I think back and I gringe at the thought of it.    This is not what I want for her.

I have feared this from the moment she was born.  I have always feared I wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with her like I always wanted growing up.  I admit I can overcompensate because of it.  Not so much recently but when she was little.  I just did whatever I could to make memories with her (all of my children).  Now it is more of a conscious effort to really pay attention to her, listen, and just be there.  I try to make an effort to let her know I am interested in knowing what is important to her.  I try to make time for just the two of us.

I look at her and I have such a hard time understanding why she doesn’t see what I see.  What so many people see when they look at her.  I want her to be better than I ever was or will be.  I want that for all of my children.  I know she knows I love her with all I am.  My kids actually tell me I say it too much.  I know this is something she needs to learn to see and start to believe on her own and with my help.  I just hope it doesn’t take as long as it has taken for me. This is just so hard for me to know she feels this way.  I want to shake her and say~ Look at you!  You are beautiful.  You are brave.  You are so smart.  You are everything and more I could ever want in a daughter. I don’t like seeing my insecurities in her.  But this isn’t about me.  This is about her.  So I may see my younger self in her now but she is going to learn sooner than I did how to be the best she can be.

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So This is 40

Last April I hit what I guess you can call a milestone~I turned 40!  How?  When?  But as I am now rounding the end of my 40th year, I am here to say that it’s not that bad!

A year ago as I was getting closer and closer to my 40th birthday, I remember this overwhelming sense of disappointment.  I had envisioned my life much different.  The obvious~ I didn’t think I would be a widow.  I envisioned my 40s the time when my husband and I would have started putting ourselves first again.  I envisioned our calendar filled with sporting events and other extra-curricular activities the kids would have been into at this point.  When I lost my husband we were at such a great point in our marriage.  We no longer fought over petty things.  We were on the same page about every aspect of our marriage and our family.  We had an entire life ahead of us.  We had planned on celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and our 40th Birthdays with a trip to Hawaii.

To celebrate my 40th, I headed to New York City to see Avenue Q.  For those of you not familiar with this Off-Broadway Show~ get familiar with it!  It focuses on a group of people who are in their 20’s trying to figure out life and their purpose in life.  As my dear friend who introduced me to this show said, “You will never look at Sesame Street the same way.”  SO if you are easily offended this is NOT a show for you!  It made me realize that life could be so much worse and it really doesn’t “suck to be” me!

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I am so glad that I started my 40th year off by seeing this show.   So thankful to Avenue Q for bringing perspective back to my life. It is hard some days, I feel I struggle to remember how blessed I am.  I am blessed in SO many ways….

I am blessed with 3 amazing, healthy children.  They are my everything.  They are my reason for living each day and enjoying something each day.

I am blessed with my own business.  Deciding to join Thirty-One was so out of my comfort zone.  But that pink box has changed me and empowered me in ways I never imagined.

I am blessed with a home.  My house is not just a place where my children and I live.  It is our home.  It is messy.  It is disorganized.  It is filled with many laughs.  It is filled with love.  It is beautiful because it is filled with so many memories that make up this blessed life.

I am blessed with my family.  I may not have contact with my blood family but I have amazing in-laws who love me and think of me as their daughter.  They love and adore my children.  And I know that no matter what the future holds, they are my family.  I have amazing friends who are our family.  They have welcomed us into their family.  They love my children like their own as I love their children like my own.  They are my support system and they love me for me.  They are our family.

I am blessed with confidence.  It took me over 1/2 my life to finally believe in myself.  I know I am a good friend.  I know I am a good mom.  I know I am worthy of so many good things.

I am blessed with wisdom.  I know that respect and love are a two-way street.  I have the wisdom to know when I am wrong to say it.  I have the wisdom to know when I am treated wrong, that it is OK to walk away.

This may not be the life I thought I would have in my 40s.  But despite enduring one of the most painful losses of my life, I am so grateful for still being able to see how blessed I am.  So as I near my 41st birthday, I will continue to remind myself of all the blessings I have in my life and how it truly doesn’t “suck to be me”!

WARNING- If you are easily offended, please do not listen to this song!  I just had to share it!