Sunday, March 19, 2017

one step

I miss my blog.  I think about it often!  But I also have a life of crazy to deal with... and so my blog has been reduced to notes in my phone or on a scratch sheet of paper.  I'll be honest.  I struggle to sleep.  I have spent many nights laying awake in the bed, on the couch, pacing the floor and sometimes taking a few xanax in hopes that I can close my eyes and maybe function a few hours later.  Life doesn't wait.  grief doesn't wait either.  

May I?  May I tell you a story?  A story about the girl who is grieving?  A story about how no-one  wants to sit with the girl who is grieving.  It's not a sad story.  It's a true story.  A story about life and about experience....potentially the one you will never hear.  It's masked by life and by the perception of the "un-greived".  It's a story about 2 elephants.  2 big, huge, pink, dead elephants sitting in a room!  And then theres me....sitting on top of them.  I'm the girl whose parents died!  Hi...I'm Me...Teresa! I'm not weird or scary but my folks died...simultaneously...boom boom.  Yep, I said it....one died and then the other!  It's odd...it's uncomfortable.  You don't know what to say.  I get it!  I have no idea what to say either....but the looks, the avoidance, the people who see me out and turn the other way..,I get it!  
You can ignore me, you can move on, you can encourage me to resume my past life....to show up...to answer your call, your text...by God Teresa what happened to you???  I wish I knew.  
I've changed...and so have you.... you see me differently.  Dare I say "mom" or "dad" and you are instantly uncomfortable.  But that is exactly what I want to talk about....both mom and dad....2 people who loved me, believed in me, and gave me their all.  If you have ever liquidated your best friends life then please tell me...but...NO....I am not the same.  I never will be!  I have changed....I have a broader perspective.  I will never be the same...never!!!  I don't feel the need to explain.
  Are you back? they ask... No, and I never will be back.  I am different.  I am changed.  I am the girl in the middle of the room, trying her best not to draw attention to herself but the one who is sitting on 2 pink dead elephants in the room... Guess what??? they aren't going anywhere.  There are dead....they are huge...there is no way around them....Ya'll it happened!  Life continues for each and every one of you...my life is now defined by before and after.  Yet they sit there...dead!  It's not going to change and you will never know what to say!  
So, may I answer your questions???  NO....No, I am not ok.  No, I am not back.  I have no idea what i will feel in the next 15 seconds so I can assure you that I have no idea what I will feel tomorrow. 
Let me re-introduce myself....I'm Teresa!!!  Hi....the girl that no-one wants to talk to....the girl who is grieving and that is awkward.  I promise you that grief isn't contagious...if you bring them up, I won't self combust and guess what???  you won't die either!!!  But they will still exist...or at least their memory will...if I say their name, I promise you won't die too....you won't "catch it".
I have minimized myself to a liar.  Yes, I said it.  I am a huge liar.  "how are you?"  I will lie to your face...why?? well because the bottom line is that you really don't care.   That's a pleasantry....How am I????  I'm awful.  I'm struggling.  I wish it was me!!!...but let's be real...that's not what you want to hear...that's weird and uncomfortable.  The truth is silencing....it's a big fat pink elephant...it's obvious!  How could it not be?  But no one wants to talk about it.
Mom and Dad will sit here with me...I talk to them often!  I cry for them often!  I've changed!  I'll never be the same!  Some days my change is shocking and somedays I realize that life is a mold...it shapes you!  Without it....without real life, we are left to perception.  That can be scary...Perception isn't reality...it's what you make it.  Right now perception is experience and that's not mine to make!!  But I will ride...I'll take it!  I'll trust that GOD is leading me somewhere!  With my elephants...in one piece!!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Words I never wanted to write...

Many who were at my moms funeral and those who couldn't attend have asked for a copy of the Eulogy that I wrote for her.  She was loved deeply and these words will never be enough.  These are words I wish I never had to write but know that there is no one on earth that she would have wanted to write and read her eulogy other than me.  We just had that bond....


Today will be one of the hardest moments in my entire life but I know with 100% certainty that my mom would insist that I stand here and speak of her and I can only imagine the audience that she has gathered up there in Heaven.  Mom loved a good compliment…maybe even a little ego stroke now and then, So MOM, this is for you!!! 
“A mother’s love is the heartbeat of a family”  Our mom wasn’t just the heartbeat of her children and her family but she was the heartbeat of so many people who know and love her.  My mom was my biggest fan, my best friend, and my sounding board for all of life’s stories.  She was my go-to girlfriend and I was hers.  My mom moved to Heaven too soon, just a few weeks shy of her 63rd birthday and although 62 is incredibly young, they say that it’s not about how many years you have in your life but the life that you have in your years.  Well let me tell you that my mom LIVED…she lived for her Children, her grandchildren, and for life littlest moments.  She put so much life into her 62 years and added to the lives of so many in that time.  My mom shared many many stories of her childhood with my siblings and I.  There are so many stories and memories that I will replay in my head over and over.  Some of the most memorable ones were her memories of life as a military child, Sunday morning room inspections by her father (she could bounce a quarter off a bed after she made it), her mother’s tireless work to put food on the table after her father’s death and the responsibility she had to carry to help out with her brothers, the way she would roll her hair in soup cans and the huge shift in her life after she became a mother at the young age of 17.  One of my favorite pieces of information that my mom constantly shared with me over the years was her childhood dream.  Whenever I asked her what she dreamt of as a little girl, she would tell me that her life dream was to be a mother.  For Tim, Katie and I, that is really where the best part of her life story began.  Our mom gave us real life…. honest, memorable, perfectly imperfect, precious life.  I grew up in a home where we could speak freely, whether it was our opinion, our feelings or even our grievances.  Our voices were heard and considered. I could ask tough questions and she was never afraid to give us tough answers.  She didn’t believe in sugar coating the truth and knew that with every tough answer was an important life lesson for us to learn.  My mom was filled with love and told us how much she loved us often, hugs and kisses were commonplace but so was reality…the reality of life, the reality of health, disappointment and perseverance.  She taught us so much just by the way she loved us and by her example of Grace and poise during adversity.  She was proof that a life that is well lived is not one that occurs without fault or hardship yet it is one where you face the absolute worst of times and still manage to find light in your life and in the life of others.  

As a child my mom confided in me often over the hours and hours that we spent riding in the car to and from gymnastics six days a week.  She would always bring along the newspaper so that I could read aloud to her and our days weren’t complete until I read her everyones horoscope and then we would ponder what they might mean.  She was always on the sideline letting my sister and I shine…every so often a little bit of stage mom would come out but who can blame her, she only wanted us to do our best.  As a teen my mom was the cool mom to our friends and all of our friends loved having her hang out with us when she could.  Maybe it was her chatty personality, her sound advice or her desire to know all of the juicy details of every story…whatever it was, we all enjoyed having her around.  She supported me tirelessly by driving me to and from my countless activities, spending her weekends at gymnastics meets, dance competitions and cheerleading competitions.  As her health declined she would conserve her energy all week so that she could be behind the scenes cheering me on on Friday nights and during Saturday competitions.   As a teen I always thought it was “cool”  that my friends referred to my mom as “Mom”.  I was proud that they confided in her and wanted her around.  But as an adult, as a mother and as all of your memories flood in, I realize the magnitude of importance she has been to so many…to so many of our friends who could not confide in their moms but had questions,  were scared or just simply needed a hug or a friendly reminder that “this too shall pass”.  Our friends always loved mom but at such a crucial time in our adolescence, they trusted her.  I could tell my mom anything with the confidence that she would listen and process and then have a conversation with me, her little girl, about the reality of my decision and the importance of thinking beyond the moment.  She never shamed me for my adolescent mistakes and always allowed me the freedom to experience life and grow but with a cushion to catch me if I should fall.  My mom would move mountains for us.  Often spending her days driving my sister and I around, sacrificing everything so that we could have and do.  Our happiness was her most important priority.  She went without so that we could have and that never changed.  Mom has always been my biggest supporter, telling me that I can, even when so many didn’t think i could. She encouraged me to achieve my dreams of cheering at NC State,  she let me go even though I know the distance broke her heart,  she was always genuinely happy for me even in the times that it was clear that I was growing up, I was changing, and I was developing a life of my own.  Despite my life changes, there is 1 thing that always remained constant.  MOM was always there…pushing me into the spotlight, filled with pride, lifting me up, wanting it for me just as bad as I wanted it for myself.  When I spent the better part of 4 years as a solo parent with my husband out to sea, Mom was always there.  Three simple words sprung her into action…I need you…she was there.  I always needed her in some way and that will never change.  When I tossed around the idea of starting my own business, she was the only one who believed in my vision and of course she was my first client and my best promoter.  From the moment she became a grandmother, she always took a great interest in her grandkids.  She would engage them with questions and always listen intently to their answers.  She was limited in the way she could physically play with them but made up for it in the way she made our kids feel like they were the most important people in the room and that what they had to say trumped all other conversation.  She was the Grammy….not just to our kids but to the kids of our friends also.  My boys friends went crazy when “Grammy” was in town…she played minecraft, batman, paw patrol, beauty parlor, kitchen and ninja turtles like it was her job.  She would always say “I love you all BUT I REALLY LOVE my grandkids….it’s just different”  Her love for those little ones was undeniable!  

For mothers day 2015, I gave my mom a gratitude journal with all of the things that made me grateful to have her as my mom….I told her to write in it when she needed a reminder of all the good in her life.  I found the journal the other day with nothing written in it….a little while later I found a piece of paper with the word Gratitude at the top….must have been a rough draft…but in her own words….
“Grateful….what a word, what a topic.  I am so grateful for all that I have been given.  Every morning when I open my eyes I am grateful.  I know I am the woman with 9 lives, the one who has been to hell and back.  The doctors wonder who I am still here and sometimes I wonder to.  But then I stop and think about it.  And believe me, I have a lot of time to think.  I have had a wonderful life, and amazing wonderful life and I thank God each and every single day for the opportunities I have had.  Sure, they were tough but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today with out those obstacles and I truly believe that my children would be the wonderful adults that they are had it not been for the adversities and sickness they were faced with.”


My mom was a true testament to overcoming hardship and always managing to shine brighter after the storm.  She was a beautiful soul both inside and out.  She was a free spirit in the sense that she could be completely inappropriate but with the best of intentions.  She loved hard and she forgave to a fault.  She gave to her detriment…her time, her advice, her money, and her heart.  Always giving of herself for the sake of others.  She was a fighter in every sense of the word but sensitive beyond comprehension.  She cried easily but was the rock and the strength of our family.  Her dreams were simple but the journey was oh so complicated.  Her heart was soft both literally and figuratively.  She always wanted more for others than she did for herself…For Timmy, Katie and I she always wanted us to know better, to do better and to have better than she ever did.  She was fiercely optimistic, always saying “it’s going to get better…it has to”,  her joy was seeing others happy….she worried way too much and tried so hard to protect us as her health declined.  Her smile was contagious, she laughed really loud, and she would dominate any conversation when given the opportunity to brag on her grandkids.  Over the past few days we have been wrapped with love, prayers and amazing memories which has been such a comfort and a great reminder that Mom made an impact on so many people.  


When I was little she would tell me that if she could bottle me up and sell me she would be a millionaire.  As a teen and young adult my mom would always say that she lived vicariously through me and my life experiences that she never had.  Over the past few years she would tell people that when she grew up, she wanted to be just like me.  I am her creation, she poured into me with everything she had.  I didn’t just become this person, she made me who I am.  

She gave us our first breath and we were there when she took her last.  She loved life but boy did she love her kids…motherhood was her dream, her life’s work, and her love and impact as our mother will be her legacy.  


Mom,  there are no words for how empty I feel without you but I will cherish knowing that we had an unbreakable bond that will always be with me.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to carry on your legacy of love and selflessness.  I would be nothing without you.  No one loves you more than I do and no one will ever love me more than you loved me!  You gave me your best love for 34 years….but I will love you my entire life.  There aren’t words for this loss but I can quote a favorite song of ours…”thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings”  I love you Mom

Friday, October 21, 2016

Life didn’t go as planned.  The short term.  The long term.  The now and the forever!  If I thought I knew what blindsided meant before September 16th…I was wrong.  My life forever changed.  Everything changed…everything!  My daily habits, my routine, my here, my now, my then and my could have been!  I am not a “poor me” kind of girl but this is like nothing I have ever even fathomed life could be like.  Strength is laughable…unattainable.  Everything about life just seems unimportant…insignificant…lost…even worthless.  I get it…most have experienced loss.  I have before, too!  My loss may seem so insignificant to many….and to others they will compare…they say they know how I feel…but the reality is that I don’t even know how I feel.  I eat, sleep, and breathe my loss.  I fall asleep with tears, “Sleep” with nightmares and wake up to sorrow.  I am not even sure that my next breath is worth it.  I am so blessed in my life…I know that with zero doubt.  I have a beautiful life…but I have become empty.
My mom died!!!  She was 62!  There, I said it!  I have said it a million times since that moment…it’s awful but necessary.  The bills, the creditors, the legalities, the money, the funeral, the flowers and the reality.  The reality that her whole life is now over….placed in my lap like a handful of weeds picked by my 3 year old….it’s a mess.  But I have to say it…people won’t let you handle her business unless you say it.  She died!  Our daily conversations…sometimes 3 and 4 times daily conversations have been replaced with me wondering what to do…where do I go from here?  This DID NOT have to happen.  This wasn’t natural.  This was negligence!  I sit here and question every single step that was taken.  From the day she entered the hospital on August 26th to our last face to face conversation on September 8th and our last phone conversation on September 11th followed by full chaos on September 12th, her intubation and her fight that ended on September 16th.  The devastating lows and the completely unexpected yet welcomed highs that just never fully developed…this should not have been!   A time frame that I have replayed over and over.  One that I will continue to play over and over for the rest of my life.  The medical terms, the legal terms and the emotional terms.  Medical directive, advanced directive, medical power of attorney, DNR, living will, personal representative, decision maker, next of kin or beneficiary.  I’m TERESA!  I’m HER DAUGHTER.  I’m not a number, a bureaucracy, a signature on your legal paper…I am her daughter.  She is my mom!  My best friend!  My person…and I was hers!  Right now it is not in her best interest to share details!  I have gone over them with a fine tooth comb for well over a month.  I have laid in her lifeless arms and sobbed for answers.  I have stared at her dead body…numb…sad…angry…curious!  Have you ever stood next to someone that has not had a heartbeat for days….maybe over a week?  I did!  I held her.  I cried.  I studied every single feature.  I cut her hair.  I positioned her face “just so”.  I talked to her.  I cried on her.  I have touched her cold face.  Kissed her stiff lips.  Just one more time!  Forever is way too long.
   I have blamed her.  I have blamed me, you and everyone I could point the finger at.  This didn’t have to be!  But the blame game didn’t help!  It didn’t take away loss, it didn’t bring her back, it didn’t change the past.  I pleaded with her!  I pleaded with the doctors!  I pleaded with God!  I laid at her bedside in prayer, in grief, in disbelief, in anger, and in a stage of helplessness!  I wouldn’t leave.  Nothing else mattered.  The outcome was laid before me early on.  I just couldn’t accept it.  I got my hopes up.  She’s a fighter…she always will be!  It just wasn’t her fight!  It was beyond everyone, everything and all possibility!  They let her die before anyone could notice and the damage was done!  I sit here left with everything.  With the wonder, the sadness, the responsibility.  With the awkward conversations.  The entire population of my life who just doesn’t get it.  You shouldn’t get it.  I hope you never get it!  This isn’t an isolated moment in time.  For you, it just might be!  But for me…this is forever!  This is every holiday, birthday, funny story, tear cried, success story, tough day, big sale, touchdown pass, alumni game or just a simple daily check in.  This is a void!  I am not 55, 60, 65,  or 70…I am 34!  My kids are babies!  I am so fortunate for the 34 years I did have…that was a blessing that not everyone gets!  But too soon is too soon!  Gone TOO SOON!!!!   

Many have expressed an interest in reading her eulogy!  Whether for the first time or for those at her service and heard me speak it, maybe a reminder!  In the next few days I will put in on my blog!  She always loved my blog.  She wanted me to write a book!  She wanted me to write a blog about her.  Time is fleeting!  I wrote so many things to her…none of which were public!  Perhaps just one of many regrets!  She knew everything…so did I!  Yet, I still have regret!  There was no question unanswered!  No word unsaid between us!  Thank GOD for all of our conversations but especially the one on September 9th!  We both said it all…but regret finds it’s way into grief!  SHE….She will never be gone in my heart!  A huge void….one that can’t be filled but one that is radiated with her!  Her laugh, her smile, her uniqueness and everything that she was!  The good, the weird and the Jeanette!  She just was!!!!!  Unapologetically her….OH, to be her!!!!


  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Will your resolution in January become your highlight of 2016?


I'm going to get a little deep here but bear with me.  It's that time of year where everyone is setting goals.  Most statistics will tell you that your January rush to make "2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 etc great" will last less than 2 months.  You'll stop going to the gym, stop eating healthy, stop saving money, stop whatever you resolved to do (again) and you will resume your normal life.  Therein lies my questions…are you happy where you are?  Do you have control of your life, your future and your destiny? Do you go to bed and wish…wish you had more time with your kids, wish you had more time to work out, wish you could travel, take time off, afford simple or even extravagant lifestyles?  What makes January any different than June????  Why give up?  Is it because society tells you that the "norm" is within the confines of 4 brick walls, a cubicle, standing on your feet all day cleaning houses, waiting tables.  We are lead to believe that we have work for and answer to someone…employment status on the terms of your boss have overshadowed self worth and creativity.  Society tells women that raising babies isn't a job, it tells us that not sitting at a desk or answering to the boss on top means that we are of less value.  That because I don't "clock in or clock out" my job isn't legitimate.    That working moms or nonworking moms or work from home moms are in this great debate about which is harder or which is more empowering.  That we are "wasting" our college education or our intelligence just because we chose a less respected or valued path whether it's parenting, direct sales, blogging, etc…respected by who?  Valued by who???  Are you valued in your everyday life….do you value yourself?  Will your resolutions of January be your highlights of 2016?  At some point you will have to fight past the fear and leap into action in order to achieve your goals.  Walk into a crowded gym, try new healthy recipes, learn to say no, learn to value yourself and make yourself a priority.   I've worked 40+ hour work weeks, I've climbed the corporate ladder, I've pounded the pavement for the benefit of someone else's bottom line, I've put my life on hold for the benefit of others…people think I am crazy because I left it all…left the corporate job (except the heels), left being constantly asked for more, and I've begun to pave my own way.  People think I am crazy because I now own a virtual franchise.  It's unconventional and new but trust me when I say I've done the research (ya know with that oh so important college degree).  Amazon was new and unconventional, uber, Apple, infomercials etc.  Unconventional and now wildly successful.  Times are changing.  People are ordering everything online?  You can schedule your grocery staples to be delivered weekly, your milk, eggs and bacon can be placed neatly in a cooler by your door, you can have a complete outfit shipped to your door monthly along with your razors and yours and your pets medications.  You can work out online, seek counseling online, figure out how to fix your car online and the list goes on.  Unconventional and growing.  Unconventional and becoming the norm.  I took a leap of faith, an educated leap but a leap none the less.  I didn't know anyone on the top but I knew where the top was and I knew and know that only I can control that.  
Bottom line is that whatever your goal is for 2016 decide why it's your goal and what you are going to do every single day to achieve it.  I am my own boss, I set my own hours, I succeed and I fail on my terms and the only person I disappoint is myself.  I set my limits, my goals and my income and potential isn't capped.  I receive a consistent paycheck and I pay bills along with leading other women to reach their potential.  People still think I am crazy, they still think it's a scam but what I am learning is that those opinions are really none of my business.  My goals are mine and my successes are mine too, as are yours.….I came across this quote the other day and I am going to share it in hopes that this will remind you to not quit in March, April or whenever you normally sell yourself short.  YOU can reach the smallest of goals or the largest of dreams but you have to take that leap…and sometimes you have to leap and leap and leap!  DO IT!!!  Ponder this...
"People  will stick you into all sorts of boxes.  They'll call you a genius, or a fraud, or an amateur, or a pretender, or a wanna be, or a has been, or a hobbyist…it doesn't matter in the least.  Let people have their opinions.  More than that let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours.  But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else's blessing….and always remember that peoples judgements about you are none of your business"

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kindergarten eve...

I had every intention of writing a "twas the night before kindergarten" post... But as the day lingered on, I knew that my emotions and anxiety just couldn't go there.  The tears at back to school night were a warning, this isn't for the weak!  I will settle for a letter...
Dear Teacher,
As you prepare for your "first day of school" and know that your students are doing the same; there are a few things I want to say.  I know you will never see this but I just need to get it off my heart and into the universe!  This is my baby...I prayed for him, begged for him and have nurtured him day in and day out.  I am THAT mom but I swear I am not really THAT mom.  I have made the choice as to when and where he was away from me but now the only choice is where... Kindergarten is a must and the time has come.  Every child goes to kindergarten and I would never deny my child that.  However, I place him in your care with expectations that are greater than I can explain.  He is watching you, eager to learn, ready to be molded and filled with opportunity.  To him, this is the big league and to me this is where time really soars. I know without a doubt that he is ready and I know that you are too.  He is here because I trust you and I am relying on you to make my baby see all of the glory, wonder, and potential that I, his mommy, see in him daily.  But the truth is that your opinion will probably matter more...he barely knows you yet he already admires you.  He looks at you in awe.  You know it all in his eyes and I will just be validating your knowledge on a daily basis.  Read that again...I will be validating your knowledge on a daily basis.  I am on your side, you see.  I want him to love you and to love school.  I want him to crave knowledge and seek information.  I want your influence to register and spark his enthusiasm for life and for all that is available to him.  I am your biggest fan but it is my God given responsibility to be his advocate.  Please know that when I ask you a thousand questions, know that when I shed tears as I leave him with you tomorrow, know that after the 5th email, the 10th email and even after I've questioned your opinions and your philosophy.  It's me, not you, I swear!  But I am new at this, on one hand I am naive to the lack of control and on the other I am ripe and ready for direction and momentum.  
In my eyes, my heart, and my memory, he is still just crawling around...everything I never knew but prayed that I wanted and needed right there in a worn sleeper from miles logged crawling laps around our kitchen... But in reality he is running drills at football, perfecting his putt on the golf course, showering alone and off to kindergarten.  I'm not ready...can you tell?  Please acknowledge his character, his compassion and HIM...unique, passionate, sensitive and eager HIM!!  He doesn't need more or less of you...he just needs you!  He's not special or entitled.  He's a kid...never "just a kid" because our kids are our future and this is where it starts.  But he is my kid, my world, and my heart, sitting in your classroom looking at you the way I wish he looked at me.  I know you'll rise to the occasssion...and so will he!  Thank you for your selfless desire to be there for him ever day.  I promise, I notice...I notice that your job is not easy or glamorous.  You are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated.  I know, I notice, and I am so incredibly grateful.  Please know that I appreciate you and most importantly my son thinks you are the most important person in his life.  He can't pay you, he can't advocate for you and he can't grant you notoriety.  But I guarantee he will never forget you...and neither will I!  What he remembers is in your hands...and I trust you!!!
Sincerely,
That little blonde boys mommy

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth...

I have had a bunch of emails and requests for more blogs…thank you thank you thank you…but I hesitate to write…my hesitation is only in the fact that "who really cares what I have to say?"  I am no expert by any stretch nor do I want to be.  I'm just a girl with something to say…aren't we all???  I'm going to say what I think and that's where I pause…because it's what I think…just little old me!  But…I'll humor my fans today (thanks mom and Leif) and post again!  This is one of those judgement free posts and by that I mean, if you plan to judge me just go ahead and click on that little "x" in the corner of your tab and go about your day…seriously!!!  Go on!!!
I use this blog as a journal…a journal of words, pictures, and memories…it's not meant to show off when I create a pinterest worthy birthday party, blame someone when I am mad and I'm certainly not looking for compliments, or kudos, or pity…I'm just telling you a few stories…maybe you'll walk away saying "someone else feels like I do"  maybe you'll say "gosh, I never thought of that" or maybe you'll beg for your 10 minutes back!  Bottom line is that I am in no way soliciting a compliment or attention…trust me, I have 2 little boys who give me AMPLE attention on a daily basis…especially when I enter the bathroom or get on the phone!  These are just words…proceed at your own choosing!


When I was in the 4th grade I remember being the only girl that could climb the rope to the top.  Most girls were afraid, incapable, or just too cute to try.  I bet they could have but being athletic wasn't "cool"!  Now, at the age of…ok ya'll know how old I am,or at least close to it so, now, at my age (wink wink) I am still climbing to the top of the rope….literally and figuratively!  Some ropes are longer than others.  However, I am no longer the only girl.  I am one of the girls and not even one of the few girls!  I am joined by so many amazing, strong, determined and down right bad ass women at the top of the ropes and still climbing!  At the gym this morning every girl made it to the top and that was just the 9 am'ers…the day was young and I have no doubt that many more got there…and those that didn't?  Well, they'll get there because they are in it to win it….in it to be better, do better and feel better!  They are making that choice day in and day out.  Reaching for the top isn't just something that I am experiencing in the gym but something I experience in my business and just recently in my friendships as well!  This isn't a literal blog about ropes, and the 4th grade and girl power, although who doesn't love girl power?  But let's get serious for a moment and dissect girl power, confidence and everything in between. Let's talk about the struggles, the insecurity, and where that comes from.  More importantly let's talk about those ladies that are fighting every single day to be the best they can be...to be at the top of their best self and those who face the uncontrollable negativities on the way.   Power and confidence isn't reserved for just the girls.  It's for everyone, but I am speaking from my perspective.  Let me give it to you ladies (and gents) straight.  I lack confidence…big time!  I am incredibly insecure, super sensitive, and so tough on myself.  There's a part of me that wonders what happened to the 4th grader that didn't care what was cool as I climbed the rope or did back flips at recess.  I have my excuses but back then I was fine with being me…now?  Not so much!
You know that old saying "you have to love yourself for others to love you"…I say "bump" that!  I say maybe the problem is others…other people holding us back.  We all have our perspective on things but that's where it falls…other's words are making it hard for us to love ourselves and to be honest, it's not only other girls and here's an example of why I say that…I am muscular…always have been and I hope that I always will be!  God gave me a capable body and I use it every single day.  I am not skinny, thin, or "small"…yes, I have a petite frame but I surely make up for it in muscle mass.  Early on in the summer I had a male companion make a comment about my size…something to the effect of "damn muscle man…wouldn't want to meet you in a dark alley". "Did he just call me a man???"  In fairness my mom made a similar comment about me being muscular although she didn't call me a man.  That single comment ruined my summer.  I avoided this person, avoided the pool, and to be honest I avoided people!  I felt HUGE!!!!  I looked in the mirror and all I could see was my "broadness".  The meanie in me wanted to comeback with something that wasn't so nice about having a "gut" or needing to put down the beer and pick up some weights, but I didn't!  I let that mean voice talk to me for the WHOLE ENTIRE SUMMER. Yes, seriously…I let that tear me up!  My fault, I know.  Fast forward to a very recent comment made to me, again by a man, but this time by someone that I work out with, around or near at the gym.  His comment was something to the effect of…"you've been working really hard and you look really fit, you go girl"…not creeper status...just genuine perspective (thankfully an athletic perspective)!  Completely in passing…almost like a verbal high five!  That comment has stuck with me…not because I think it was true or not true, not because I need validation from anyone, and certainly not that I am looking for a man to find me attractive.  It stuck with me because it was kind.  It stuck with me because that person had a choice to make, he noticed the positive and decided to share, this person made up for another a-hole's rude and completely unsolicited comment solely for the purpose of…I am not even sure the purpose in telling a female she is manly!  I feel like this world is spending so much time tearing us (especially women) apart.  You have a college education why aren't you using it?, you have money why do you work?, you're already fit why do you work out?, your business isn't legitimate, you feed your kids that?, I can't believe you spent that much on a purse, ew gross how can you eat your meat like that, I can't believe your kids still has a pacifier, you let your kids sleep with you?, you rock them to sleep, you homeschool, you private school, is that real leather, fur, organic, gmo, non gmo, HMO, PPO…GOOD GOD MAKE IT STOP….  People blame the media, or other girls, or magazines but I really wonder where it comes from.  Why do other people feel so compelled to tell me…about me?  Why did this man…a husband, a father, someone with a daughter, a mother and a wife, feel that it was OK to even say anything.  I doubt he is up to date on the latest issue of cosmo or what vogue thinks is attractive.  Was it a joke?  Maybe…but how is that even remotely funny?  I know that the bigger question many are asking is "Why do you care?".  Sorry, folks, I am not superwoman with a metal heart and an ego of steel!  I am a women who struggles daily…seriously, daily with what I see in the mirror.  I cry…often, I obsess about things, and I consistently feel inferior.  I care because…because I care!  I care what you say to me, I care about my feelings, and I care about what you choose to say to my face!  I just do!  That will not change and maybe that is where I am wrong.
However, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way.  I know plenty of moms who wonder why their daughters are saying the word fat!  Sure, girls can hear their moms say it, but many of these moms are fit, confident, and badass women.  Where does this negativity come from?  It's not even just about body image…Aiden picked a flower for me while waiting for his turn in the never ending football line the other night.  He told me later that a kid knocked it out of his hand and told him that picking flowers was for girls…"excuse me little bobby???  You're right…he was picking it for me you little chump and guess what????  I am a girl.  In 20 years you'll be taking a lesson out of his book when you can't get a girl to talk to you.  Lay off my kid or I'll put you into the ground just like you did that flower"…ok, sorry!  I digress!  There I go being all manly and violent!  But seriously…where does all of this "my opinion is fact" come from…your opinion is just that….an opinion!  If a woman in a bikini who feels the need to suck in until her ribs show is what you find attractive then GREAT!  But that is your opinion only…not a fact, not the law, and certainly not my problem!  How about we teach our kids to be kind.  I get that "kids will be kids" but really???  They don't have to agree, they don't have to support and they certainly don't have to open their mouths.  Tolerance doesn't mean you agree and yes, I realize that there is freedom of speech.  But why would you want to express that right just for the sake of hurting another person because telling me I look like a man certainly isn't out of concern.  As adults we are all guilty…me included!  Yet, we aren't immune to that awful and hurtful emotion that is invoked on negative opinions.  Our kids are watching and you better believe that they are emulating!  I see it daily with the words that my 6 year old uses with my 2 year old.  He emulates the way I parent…talk about a reality check!!! Tone of voice noted!  I hear it from my friends whose daughters think they are fat, or those kids who tell adults that decision "x" is a bad one and that they shouldn't do certain things.  I hear it with other children who are teasing or excluding kids because they are (insert any naive, silly and completely rediculous reasoning here?!!!!  I have heard Aiden tell his brother he can't do something….my new response is "unless you are encouraging him to be strong and capable, please leave the parenting to me".
It is everywhere… what happened to kindness?  What happened to tact?  What happened to respect?  Why is everything we say negative?  I seriously love this comment/quote/graphic that I see everywhere….(2 versions)


So as we climb that rope…the rope of life in the pursuit of dreams come true... the fourth grader in me still climbs it like a monkey but hell, I'm climbing…I see no end, I see no red line, there is no tap out…but along the way there are a ton of choices.  I am trying my hardest to choose the rope of kindness.  The one of tolerance, acceptance, and of less judgement!  The one that makes YOU, yes YOU, feel good about yourself!  I know that I will slide down, get splinters, and probably have to start over…but I promise that I am trying my best to be better, do better and perpetuate better!  I hope you will too!!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I still do….


"Love is not about how much you say "I love you" but how much you prove that it's true".  I love those words for many reasons!  Leif and I have been saying "I love you" for over 15 years.  We said "I love you" at the ripe old age of 17 and now here we are after 10 years of marriage still saying the same thing.  But I know for a fact that our love then and our love now look completely different!  When I said "I love you" at 17 I probably meant that "I think you are awesome".  HA!  You're a cool guy and you make me feel like I am a pretty cool girl.  Our problems are minimal and our responsibilities concur!  We are just 2 high schoolers who find the other intriguing so why not just see what happens.  Sure, I loved him in a way that only a 17 year old knows how.  We could say "I love you" until the cows came home and that was that!  Did I know then the depths of love?  Do I even know now?  Probably not.  Love is constant.  It's a journey and certainly not a destination.  It's the everyday.  Loving for us doesn't mean that I love every single thing about him and he loves every single thing about me.  It's means that despite our differing views and personalities, we excel together, empower each other, grow together rather than apart and carry on even when giving up looks compelling!  Neither of us are 17 any more…our life looks so different now than it did back then and to be honest our life now is so different than it was just 5 years ago.  What is the same is that we continue to show up.  Show up, you ask?  Yes, we show up for the job of marriage every single day.  The fairy tale only exists  in the midst of daily work, daily struggle, and daily commitment!  On one hand I feel like I blinked and arrived here, and on the other I know that we have worked very, very, very hard to get here.  We beat the odds.  No, we aren't 50 years in but so many people said we couldn't.  They said it for many different reasons…2 kids from very different families, 2 kids with opposite socioeconomic upbringings, distance during college, pressure from family to take breaks, "most Navy marriages don't survive", most marriages end during deployment….the list goes on.  We have had so many opportunities to give up, say it's not worth it, throw in the towel, decide that one persons needs are more important than the other!  His career, by nature, requires our lives be different and our decisions aren't ours.  We live around a schedule that isn't up for negotiation or discussion and it certainly isn't an option.  But we figure it out and stay the course.  Our private conversations, his private struggles and my private insecurities are just that…they are private!  Although I don't think they are unique to our marriage!  We fight for each other when the other just can't!  He picks me up when I can't stand and I pull it all together when he can't be here.  Our relationship is not equal…it never will be!  That's the nature of our lifestyle.  But…I am his biggest fan and he is the sole reason that I am confident of my work behind the scenes and motivated enough to build my own business on my terms.  This isn't him vs. me.  This is me and him, him and I, this is US….together WE have built a beautiful life.  Maybe you are wondering how we (or anyone else) does it.  Why does their marriage look a certain way?…trust me…we work at it every single day!  Sometimes that work is really ugly!  Sometimes there are tears, the silent treatment, and everything in between.  As with anything in life, put in the work.  Pick him/her up when they are down.  Don't just SAY "I love you" .  LIVE "I love you" every single day…even on the days when you can't even say it….still LIVE IT!!!

Leif,  After 10 years of marriage, I am so thankful that we are both still in it.  Still committed to greatness.  Committed to building each other up, building a life for our kids and designing a successful marriage on our terms.  I am so grateful that you love me when I am at my worst.  I may not always be happy about our lack of control in planning but I am surely always always proud of you!  You are a model to so many of what being a man is…faithful, dedicated, hardworking, gentle, encouraging and sensitive!  The boys and I have a front row view of what is right in this world…not always fair (for you for me or for them)but certainly always right!  You do work that matters and we are so proud of you!  The accolades are few and far between but we know and believe in all that you are accomplishing quietly!  I promised you 10 years ago that I would always ride this ride with you….that hasn't changed!  The ups, the downs, and the maintenance in between…I'm on board…Still!!!! Thank you for being my soulmate, my sounding board, my best friends, my rock and everything I have ever wanted and needed in a partner!   Happy 10 year Anniversary!!!  I love You!