The Love of it All

One of the hardest things for us to do is to take care of ourselves, to put ourselves first when dealing with life and the world.  Why is that?  I don’t know really.  But I do know that there can be horrible results when we don’t We get tired, get down and burned out. I know this first hand after the past two years.

A new year and I have started doing something that I have not done in a very long time  taking care of myself first.  And there result have been quite fantastic. I feel better and am much happier. To take care of yourself, you must pay attention to your moods, emotions and your body.  Evaluate how you feel every day.  Get rid of anything, anyone or any situation that doesn’t make you feel fabulous.

I wasn’t able to do this until now, because life circumstances predicated a different path at that time.  And sometimes that is just how life is, so you have to take advantage while you can.  And taking care of yourself now will help make those messy and hard times in life bearable.

I am taking more time to write, especially in my hand written journal. It feels good to actually put pen to paper and write about such private and sacred things close to me. There is exercise (finally!) and taking time to read. There is also time to rest, which often gets overlooked.  But it is so important to rest the body, spirit and mind.

Lately things have been quiet, as the start of the year takes off.  Quiet, but busy.  Three new contracts, including my first contract in the UK.There is a rip out of the country, the first in a few years.  There was one trip to the beach before the new year, and it is time for more. There is getting used to the Macbook Pro, and all the differences it has with my PC. There is time re-connecting and building with friends. And there is building the happy life that I want.

But it is even more than that.  It is building relationships on a deeper level, which translates into building a life on a deeper level.  Relationships of all kinds; friendships, co-workers, and most definitely, love. Whom you choose to have as a partner is extremely important.  The relationship can be a source of life and love, or it can drain you of all your energy.

My relationship with my ex lacked depth, he lacked depth. Which is why he fled real life to build fantasies with hookers and strippers.   The ex still reads my blog daily. (I wonder what you a looking to find. Details of my love life, perhaps?  None, except what you have heard is true and he is bigger and better than you). The relationship will not be good when you date someone with whom you are not equally yoked. So someone to plan and build life with, and that we match on depth and breadth of the soul.

Happiness is choice, a decision that you make every morning.  Not hat life is perfect, or ever will be.  But, it will be a lot better if I enjoy the ride, or most of it any way. So as I type in bed, with kitties snuggling with me, I am thankful fo this life and the love of it all. And I will turn out the light, and snuggle down into a warm bed with a warm heavy blanket and drift off to sleep with a happy heart.

 

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This dark and sleepy time perched on the edge of endings and beginnings, I love the deep feel of it. Somewhat sleepy, introspective, books and candles and quiet puttering. Leftover meals and little celebrations.

What will we let go of? What will we welcome? As the past year slips away and the new one unfolds. I am counting my blessings. – Ada

This is one of my favorite times of year.  This week after Christmas and before the new year.  It is the dark and sleepy time, it is chilly, every one is getting home and settled in after the holiday, and figuring out what they want for the new year.

For me it is a quiet time, a time where I mentally and emotionally prepare to let go and welcome in. I have written extensively on how difficult the past 18 months have been. There have been many hurdles.  But it has all ended up fine. I have ended up just fine.

And now we are at the edge of a new year. This year has been rebuilding myself and my life, getting to a place where I am whole and joyous again. I am ready to let go of all of it, all of everything that has been difficult and ready to grab ahold of everything good.  There will still be hard work, but everything is lining up for this next year to be one of the best.

A little while ago I was asked what “code” I live by.  That got me thinking, I really don’t think that it falls under a specific title.  I live by the code of my conscience.  There are basic rules, per say, but to me at least, they are pretty basic.  Pray, do the best you can every day, be honest and be kind. Do the right thing even when it isn’t easy, because life isn’t supposed to always be easy.

And that is what you have to do in life, is stick to your guns and know that it will all work out.  That may be hard when you are knee deep in it.  Many loose hope and faith.  That is a dark place to be.  You just have to keep believing.

Throughout everything, I have kept to my code of honor, kept true to myself and my beliefs.  And that is a very comfortable pillow.  No doubt this code, taught to me by my wonderful parents, will continue to serve me well in the future

Every level of your life will demand a very different version of you.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  While I do not know the reason for all that has transpired, nor do I understand how it will prepare me for the coming years, I do have faith.  I have faith that these events have made me stronger, better, finer and more compassionate.

I look forward to seeing how the lessons of the past years will serve me in the years to come.  I look forward to building a wonderful life. I look forward to enjoying the rest of this week, the quiet time and the introspection before life opens wide at full speed.  I look forward to it all.

Life Interupted

There is relief with Christmas being over, which is something I never thought I would say.  This is my favorite time of year…and yet I feel physical relief now that it is the day after even.  I think it that before Christmas, I had a rhythm go\ing.  I had found my way through grief.  And then the holidays come and interrupt that rhythm.  Suddenly all these emotional triggers are everywhere.  From last Christmas to the holidays of my childhood.

But isn’t that just how life goes?  We get our groove back and then something comes along that might throw us off balance.  And life is about balance.  It is about getting back up on the dance floor, so to speak.  We are all doing our best to find our way.  And life has some interesting paths. The important thing, at least to me, is to make sure that you go down these paths with honor and integrity. And that you learn from the paths you have taken. If you can master those two things, then you are ahead of most.

So I am eager to get my balance back, to be in the rhythm that I had found before.  I am eager to return to building this life. I am eager to discover more paths and see where they go.  There is a long list I have for this next year.

In short I am ready live. So let’s party.

The Phases of Christmas

There are different phases of grief, it is a process. And this year, this Christmas is a big milestone as far as that process goes.  The first holidays without loved ones are especially hard.  This entry is very raw and very vulnerable.  Honestly it makes me a bit uncomfortable, but if you are going to be honest and pour your heart out, then do it with purpose.  I am not the first to be here and I will not be the last.This is the end of this year, the end of all the loss and the end of the sadness. So, here it is, for anyone who might be going through the same:

Phase 1
I woke up for the first time in my life to an empty, quiet house on Christmas morning. I’m still not sure how to feel about that. I walked around and my Christmas lights were beautiful, the Christmas tree was beautiful, but it was so quiet. There was no one in the kitchen making breakfast for hungry eyes. There was no one inspecting the gifts under the tree. There was no Christmas music playing, or the sound of quiet conversation and laughter as people who got up early tried to be quiet and considerate of people who were still sleeping.

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How lucky I was and have been, to have had so many wonderful Christmases filled with family. And how many people wake up on Christmas morning alone, like me that morning?
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All the sudden I felt so much love for my mother. Every year from the time she had her first child at 27, until the Christmas right before she passed away when she was 74, she made an amazing home where everyone wanted to come and have Christmas morning. I thought of all the years that I woke up, ready to have breakfast and rip open presents. I thought of when I was a child and my sister and I had the tradition of getting up at 5am to play Monopoly until 6, and then would sneak out to see what was in our stockings, and then gently, carefully put everything back in our stockings. We would go back to play Monopoly again until 7am (when Mom and Dad said we could wake them up).
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And I remember even after I’d grown up and moved away, making sure that I was home for Christmas, driving sometimes on Christmas Eve then wrapping all the gifts when I got in. Most of the time Mom’s gifts had already been wrapped as she would have bought them months earlier. When I was young and broke, I could afford the gifts but not always the wrapping paper and accessories. So I would wait until I got home to raid Mom’s impressive wrapping paper, ribbon and bow collection.
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And wrapping was an art in our family. It wasn’t just wrapping a simple gift, no, it was trying to be mischievous and fool the receiver. A small box would be wrapped and then placed in a larger box and wrapped and placed in another larger box and wrapped again. There would be candy and buttons and things that make noise that would be placed in a box that held a book, so that when the gift with shaken, they would never know that it was just a book.
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For many years I was The unofficial photographer of Christmas morning. When everyone got up and started to unwrap the gifts. it was I who would capture it all. All the wonder, and happiness, and family togetherness, and laughter, and surprise, and delight, and love of Christmas morning.
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I wonder if my wonderful, sweet, brave mother ever spent a Christmas morning alone? If she had ever woken up on Christmas morning to an empty house? She came from a large family and so did Dad, so did she ever have that experience? She was married at 26, had children by 27. And did Dad ever wake up and spend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day alone? It’s amazing how many questions you think of to ask your parents after they’re gone. Ask them now. I am acutely aware that they are gone. And I miss them so very much.
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I’m blessed to have friends who have become my family with whom to spend Christmas dinner. And even more who have extended wonderful invitations. Life is a balance of appreciating what is gone and accepting and being thankful for what is now.
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Phase 2
As I’m getting ready and going around the house, the memory of Last Christmas Creeps in. I was so sad and depressed… it was awful. I showered my Dad with as many gifts as I could possibly afford, getting him everything from new shoes to funny things for his cell phone, to clothes, to socks to everything I could possibly think of. I was trying desperately to make up for the fact that he was so miserable without Mom. I thought that maybe if I gave him enough gifts that he liked, I could make him smile an forget that he was miserable, if only for a second.
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I buzzed around smiling and being Jolly, but I think he knew. And I remember my ex, who was so completely disinterested, but who tried to pretend anyway. Looking back he was always on his cell phone, now I know it was talking with strippers and prostitutes even then. I lavished him with gifts too, trying to bury the guilt of having involved him in my ordeal of Mom dying and then having to live with my terminally ill father.
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I bought him a huge Craftsman tool box among other expensive things. Looking back I was trying to fill the terrible hold that grief had left inside of me by trying to make those in my life happy.  And trying to make up for the fact that life had imploded with death and being a full time caregiver. I thought that if I could give enough gifts, make enough people smile, try to make enough people happy, then maybe I could forget my grief for just a little while too. It didn’t work.
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And last year, after a delicious Christmas dinner, it was time to take Dad back to the rehab center. I picked him up that morning and had to have him back before midnight that night. It was miserable too because he wanted more than anything to just be home. It was heartbreaking to leave him there Christmas night. And even more heartbreaking to go back exhausted to the empty, loveless house that I called home.
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And that is why I even if I have sad moments now this Christmas, even when I shed tears and miss my parents so very much, I’m incredibly thankful that no Christmas will be as horrible as last year – hands down the worst holidays of my life. It is why I face this Christmas with an open heart and understand that there will be some heartbreak and that’s okay. Because last Christmas was the most heartbreaking Christmas of all, and I’m glad for all the opportunities for joy this year has given me. And I’m thankful for what the next year seems to hold. There’s been a lot of lost this year, but I’m still here. I still have the ability to love and to trust and to believe in people. And that in itself is a huge gift wrapped in a big bow.
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Phase 3
I realized that I had the hang of this. That I could do this. The Yule Log was playing with a pretty fire and Christmas music. The cats were running around with new toys. I heard from many family members and friends exchanging Christmas and holiday wishes. I was feeling lots of love. It still felt really weird and surreal as I looked at pictures of Mom and Dad and thought of Christmas in my childhood.
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Phase 4
Christmas dinner with at a friend’s house. There was rushing around to get everything  done and on the table at the same time.  There were people who loved me and who wanted me there.  And that felt really good.  It hurts to have my parents gone.  But I have found my roots, my family of choice.
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There is validation and vindication at the same time. It feels good to be back, to have made it through this huge emotional time.  It feels good to have it done, because I feared the unknown of the holidays.  I have lost both parents, three siblings, one boyfriend and all of his family in the past 18 months. And now I have gone through the first Christmas without any of them. And I made it. If I made it through the past 18 months, I can make it through anything.
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There is nothing more to dread. No more dates of the unknown, no more huge emotional triggers or timeframes.  New Years will be pretty easy – a celebration of saying goodbye to the bad, and saying hello to the wonderful happiness that is coming. I shed the skin of what has been and step into what will be.
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Then the next moment is the first anniversary for Dad.  But since I have been through it with mom, I know what to expect.  That anniversary won’t be easy, but ti also won’t be the unknown.  I know what I am facing, head on. And I have the love of my friends and that love will build this life strong and good and lasting.
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Phase 5
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I did it. I made it through Christmas without you.

There were some tough and lonely moments, but I am blessed to have amazing friends that got me through. There was also joy and celebration. You guys raised me strong and loved me enough for a lifetime, but it doesn’t make making a life without you any easier. But I will be OK.  I love you Mom and Dad. For so many wonderful things, for so many reasons and for so many wonderful holiday traditions and memories. Most of all, I love you for being the most amazing parents in the whole world. Merry Christmas. Love and miss you always.

A Warm Hearth at Christmas

We all have firsts in our lives, and tonight I must as=dd another to mine: My first Christmas without my parents. When I first realized it and let myself think about the possibilities of the holidays this year, I was in a sheer panic.  How could I do the holidays without them?  Without their love?  Without the family traditions? I knew that no matter what it would not be as terrible as last year, but that still did not make me fear the unknown any less.

I went into panic and started making travel plans for each of the holidays.  Never plan trips in a panic. That is not the proper mindset.  As It turned out, I needed to stay home for family. Funny how God will put you where you need to be, when you need to be there.

But Christmas hasn’t been as bad or as horrible or as sad as I thought it would be.  It’s actually been kind of…nice.  There was church service with some dear friends, because you cannot forget what Christmas is truly about.  Then lunch with another best friend. Soon afterward it was time to go home to have family time.

There was a last minute trip to the store, last minute wrapping, and gift giving.  There were new traditions of card games and a Christmas Eve Spaghetti dinner.

And that is what life is all about, helping each other. No doubt I would not be making it through this Christmas with out my wonderful friends. And I was able to serve others as well.  I was able to give gifts, cook for family, clean up and provide good family time. One of my purposes in life is serve others. I want to cook and be of service to those I love.  I want those who enter my home to feel good, and loved, and calm and wanted. Sounds terribly domestic, but it’s true. And no better time than Christmas.

And there still is a little ways to go this Christmas.  This Eve has been a balance between helping and being helped, of giving and receiving love.

And now, as I sit in my comfy warm bed, in my fuzzy soft PJ’s, sipping wine, watching TV and snuggling with the kitties, I know that there is nothing to fear.  While there may be moments where I break down and cry, I will be OK, because I am surrounded by love And there are the origins of the new Christmas, and the new traditions. I am proud of myself, thankful for those who love me, and for this Christmas.

Nothing warms the hearth like love and happiness.

Fire in the Flood

She is fire in the flood
The water in the blood
Her touch burns him to the core
And holds him till he wants more

He is the wind in then storm
The calm that keeps her warm
His eyes see into her soul
Deep where there is no control

Together they breath between a heartbeat
The hope that they complete
Discovering a world beyond dreams
Beyond the leak at the seams