Year End Inventory

I thought I’d take some time to look back over 2017. There were lots of highs and lows, it definitely doesn’t register in my 5 worst years and probably falls into my ten best. The world felt like it was breaking apart every single day but my personal life was rich and, yes, #soblessed.

January was hectic, we had moved to this new house in October but still didn’t have beds or a couch! This month also brought the most exciting moment of the year, watching my youngest nephew enter the world. I spent some long hours in the hospital with him so his mom could rest and I will treasure that time forever. The weekend after he was born we spent the day downtown for the Women’s March. After the horror of the previous election, it was life-giving to gather with thousands of other people and make our voices heard.

 

 

February brought me lots of time to myself while the kids were in school, Jedd was spending a lot of time in Louisville, and I was exploring our new neighborhood. The highlight was coming upon several deer during a trail walk at Blue Ash Nature Park. They hung out with me for a while and it was exhilarating! Kenai turned 12 and the two of us had a nice hotel overnight and shopping trip to celebrate!

 

March found me keeping up with walking regularly, I had found that I loved trail walking and made time to do it several days a week. On a sad note, we adopted Sheriff Jody Mills only to have to re-home her one month later. We didn’t want to go through puppy stuff again so we thought an adult dog was a good idea but she couldn’t adjust to Moxie or the kids. I know that she went on to find a great home with a sweet couple and no kids. It helps a lot to know they found something better for her.

 

April was pretty nice. We were adjusting to the new house a little better and the world was warming up! We got some furniture for the deck and had lots of good times with the kids and friends.

 

May started off with a bang when I got to go see WellRed Comedy twice in the same week! Katie and I went up to Columbus and had a blast, even had a shot of bourbon with the boys! Then I saw them again down here with my sister and two great friends and said hi to them again with Marci. Penguin Kids used a picture of Ziva on their social media pages so that was pretty cool. The month ended on a high note as well with a visit from my in-laws, a day with my great nephew Charlee, and the end of the school year!

 

 

June was another great month! Awesome times spent with friends and family ushering in summer! Then we had a fantastic vacation in North Carolina. A trip to honor my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. While there, I learned that Nana had taken a bad turn and probably would not live much longer. We adjusted our plans and I spent a few days in Virginia. It ended up being a very grounding and connecting experience spending time with Nana and my aunts, mom, and cousins. Ziva spent hours playing with Gabe and Griffin. While the circumstances were sad, I deeply cherish that time with family.

 

July started off great again with Jedd and I seeing U2’s Joshua Tree tour in Cleveland. Long drive, blistered feet, peanuts for dinner (literally) but something I’ve wanted to do since I was 13 years old. I cried through at least half the show! Don’t judge me. Elliet turned 14 FOURTEEN OMG. Ziva did her first sleep away camp and wow, that was hard (for me!) She had a great time. I hosted my first big party at the new house and had one of the best girls’ nights ever!

 

August was pretty chill. I turned 40 and had a big party here. I spent one night in the hospital for chest pains but the heart is healthy so that’s good. We had a pool day during the solar eclipse that was really fun, I underestimated how cool the eclipse would be!

 

 

September started on a high note, as it always does, with BS Fest! We had a great time this year, always looking forward to the next one. Jedd and I marked 15 years of marriage and Ziva turned nine, putting her in her final year of single digits! We also had a blast having Simon and Liam here for a sleepover!

 

October kicked our tails! We started the month with a weekend alone while the kids camped with their grandparents and it was perfect! That weekend ended with SURPRISE! two new puppies. We had been looking for a puppy for Ellie as her 14th birthday gift. She saw Demi on Petfinder and fell in love. We went to get her as a surprise but then Jedd saw her littermate, Winifred and one became two. In a sick twist of fate, we all succumbed to a hellacious stomach bug the same day we got the puppies! They are a ton of work but we love our pups. October also saw us finally selling our old house! It was very bittersweet, we have so many great memories of that home and NCH. We had an awesome cookout with friends and family as well! October was also mentally difficult, I tend to have trouble around this time of year anyway and the #metoo posts certainly added to that. I’m still struggling a bit but have had some bright lights along the way and I feel really hopeful that things are going to get better very soon. It is also good to see the ways in which I’ve been able to manage things, not always *well* but far better than I used to.

 

November started out okay, I was still reeling from my traditional anxiety and depression combo but I had a great overnight with my sister and the puppies were helping us feel more at home in this house. Then November 14th our friend Ezra died. It cast an even greater pall over the ensuing days, weeks, months, and still now.  Shortly after he passed away I spent an overnight with my sister and some good friends. I can’t explain it here but that night brought a desperately needed healing like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It leaves my skeptic brain in a tizzy but it was powerful and amazing. Then Thanksgiving week was a lot of fun. We usually go to Raleigh and spend the week with Jedd’s parents. This year, his family came here. We had a great time playing games, being silly, and eating good food. A few days after Thanksgiving, Nana passed away. It was a long time coming and we were all prepared but it’s still the end of something really grand. She left a great legacy of saucy women and men who remove their hats upon entering the house.

 

December was hectic, to put it lightly. Jedd and I had a wonderful time going out to dinner and to the Over the Rhine Christmas show at Memorial Hall. The next day, our cousins came in from Illinois for the Bengals/Bears game. We lost miserably but had a blast at the game and then later back here at the house with a long night of games and drinks and general shenanigans. Nana’s memorial service was the following weekend in Virginia. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu and could not make it. I hope to visit Quantico this year where part of her ashes are interred with my grandfather. After that we had Christmas Day in Dayton and then the day after Christmas we hosted everyone here for a visit with my brother and his family. My anxiety kicked into extra high gear at the end of the week and with that and the snow, I missed my sister’s birthday party. The next day, the 30th, we had Ezra’s memorial gathering. It was a long night of great laughter and greater tears. Ezra was known for his positive energy and his desire to heal everyone through group hugs and love, art and music. I am determined to keep that alive as we move forward without him and maybe we can keep him with us in some small way.

What a year. ❤

Advertisements
Posted in Grief, Holidays, Musings, My Family-I Love Them Anyway, My Friends - They Love Me Anyway, PTSD is a bitch, Survival, The Babies | 2 Comments

Weight and Mental Illness

Click on the image for Wentworth Miller’s full comments on this image and how it’s been used to ridicule him and how he rises above that. It’s worth reading. Excerpts below.

 

“In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.”

I feel this SO HARD. My weight has been stable for a few years now, even slowly dropping over the last year. This coincides with my mental health journey. When I was depressed, isolated, suffering… there were absolutely times when eating was my only joy. “Get out of bed, you’ve got popsicles in the freezer!” No joke. There was a lot more at play there but this was definitely a major element in my weight gain. I struggled with compulsivity and impulsivity as well. Sometimes this was food related, sometimes drug and alcohol related. Sometimes I’m just relieved I survived that part. Thank Big Pharma for the dozen or so meds that saved my life. Feeling unworthy, unloved, out of control, and completely lost… I gained another 70 pounds on top of the 30 I had gained via the stress of new marriage, new house and new baby. This is another reason why shaming fat people does not actually help them lose weight. I was already full of shame, that’s *why* I was gaining weight. And I didn’t give a fuck that I was getting fat. In fact, deep down, I liked it. It felt comfortable and soft. People stopped looking at me, I felt hidden and safe.

“Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.
Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.
Anyway. Still. Despite.”

Today, I love my body because it survived what I put it through. I see the stretch marks, the saggy skin, the big belly, the scars, and they are all evidence of who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve come through. It’s not easy to love it all the time but I do. I love my fat, old body.

Anyway. Still. Despite. Yes.

A recent photo of me. Fat and happy. Eat that, body shamers. 😉

 

Posted in Better Living Through Chemistry, Healthy Living, Navel Gazing, PSA, Survival | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grief

I have a lot to feel sad about today. I haven’t felt this kind of grief since Kerewin passed away. I know it sounds melodramatic but my hopes were just so high.
I’m sad because I wanted this for Hillary. She’s worked so hard. For decades she has been dedicated to making life better for women and children. She has taken SO MUCH SHIT from her opponents, I would never be able to stand under the weight of it but she did more than stand, she carried on. She deserved this and I am sad today that her chance is gone. I wanted this for her.
I’m sad because I wanted this for my children. The thought of my girls going through their formative years with a woman as President brings me to tears again just writing it. I wanted their reality to be different than what mine has been. I wanted them to KNOW that women are equal and that we can do great things. It means nothing if they don’t actually see themselves represented in those ways. I desperately wanted this for them. The pain of losing that hope hurts me so deep.
I’m sad because I wanted this for me. I wanted to believe that we could do it. I wanted validation. I wanted to live in a country where the best things about us are what is celebrated. Love, equality, empathy… these things would define us. Not hate, not racism, not sexism. 

I’m sad because I should have done more. I am deeply ashamed that I did not work harder or speak louder. I phoned it in with a few donations and a post or two on Facebook. Never again.

I’m sad because so many people looked past the bullying and arrogance because they wanted to win.

They don’t mind that women are treated as props, that they are called cows and worse. They don’t mind that he brags about groping women without consent. I ran out of fingers when I tried to count how many times I’ve been groped without consent, how many times I was harassed and intimidated by men just like our president elect.
They don’t mind that he insulted a man who served his country and suffered at the hands of the enemy. They don’t mind that he mocked a person with a disability. That is utterly shocking. I’m used to misogyny, I’m used to racism and xenopobia, but here you have someone who will go so far as to insult a decorated veteran and mock people with disabilities and they don’t mind that.
They don’t mind that he wants to break treaties and torture people, that he will shrug at the idea of using nuclear weapons like “hey, maybe”. That he will break vital alliances. That he will kick out or intern Muslim Americans. They don’t care that he will repeal the ACA and leave those millions of people uninsured. They don’t care that he regularly has temper tantrums on Twitter. They don’t care that he is in cozy business dealings with Russia or that he looks up to Putin as a leader.
I could go on, of course. There is so much more. This is why I’m grieving today. Because even if you want to insist that you are not a bully or a racist or misogynist, by voting for him, you tell my children that it’s okay to be those things. I’m grieving because I’m left trying to explain to them how people they love could do that and I don’t know what the answer is.
Posted in Hillary, Politickery, Trump | Leave a comment

Okay?

Tonight I am going to just not be okay for a little while. I’ve grown used to being okay and it is such a ridiculously great place to be. But I haven’t been okay lately and I think tonight I will just let myself feel that. I am sad about my Kerewin. I still can’t believe she’s gone and every single day I miss her.
I have some uncertainty about our future. I’m nervous about Jedd’s new job and how it will impact our family.
I’m nervous about our girls’ education. Every day, I am nervous about them getting the education they need to do the things they want to do. I’m nervous that I haven’t given them everything they need and I’m running out of time! This will likely never end.
I’m nervous for my sister, I just want everything to work out, for her to pull this off, this impossible thing that she should never be able to pull off but that she does because that is who she is. She pulls things off. But now she has us to help. I just want for her and my nephew to have the security they need and deserve.
I’m nervous for my other sister, two kids! That will be such an adjustment! I’m literally terrified that something might happen to her, I’ve had nightmares about this since we were kids.
I’m nervous about my friends. When I got better, I slowly started making friends. I now have a handful of very close friends plus a multitude of other wonderful people I am proud and lucky to call friends. But this handful, this three in particular, they are different. They are three people who I know and who know me. People who just love me and accept me in a way I’m not used to. And it makes me nervous. Being close to people is new for me. Being myself with people is new. I’m simultaneously amazed and terrified that they accept me as I am. Every time I think about it I get wigged out. It’s not even fear that they will abandon me, it’s just this weird anxiety that I cannot define. Maybe it’s scary just being KNOWN. I could give and give and never get anything in return and that would suit me fine. It’s the getting in return that always weirds me out.

Maybe

These things are all happening, and tonight, I’m just not okay. But at the same time… I’m actually really okay. My “not okay” is so different now. Maybe now there is never a “not okay” that should cause anyone who loves me to fear for me. Maybe now there is never a “not okay” that might last too long and impact too much. Maybe now there is never a “not okay” that will result in self harm.
So tonight I sit up so late and I feel this “not okay” knowing that it is okay. It’s okay to have a “not okay” night. To sit up so late, to drink beer and eat ramen and to admit that I’m not so okay. Because in the end, I’m not okay, I’m actually good.

Posted in Grief, My Friends - They Love Me Anyway, Navel Gazing, Night Owling, Survival | 1 Comment

Sunday Meditation

North Carolina 2013

North Carolina 2013

I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.

~Neil Gaiman
The Sandman, Volume 9

Lake Hope State Park 2008

Lake Hope State Park 2008

The irony is that actual happiness blasts us across our faces, necks and chests all the time – but we’re so busy chasing the elusive notion of what happiness is to us at that moment, we tend to overlook the authentic bliss we create for ourselves and others in the process of simply trying to be happy. And by the time we realize these were, in fact, moments of happiness, it’s too late: those moments are now memories.

Happiness can’t be bottled. It can’t be smoked, swallowed, shot or ejaculated. And there is no end game: you never cross the finish line and are suddenly happy. Even when all your wildest dreams come true, you still pursue happiness.

~Kevin Smith

10556990_10152538416314279_2400557049706774387_o

Glenwood Gardens 2014

Do anything, but let it produce joy.

~Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass

11209619_10153089224299279_3190765937864438463_n

Rural Illinois

The three great American vices seem to be efficiency, punctuality, and the desire for achievement and success. They are the things that make the Americans so unhappy and so nervous.

~Lin Yutang
As printed in The Sun (February 2015)

Posted in Favorite Things, Meditation, Pictures of things, Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On the Anniversary of Your Death

I wrote this in 2015, one year after my sister passed away. I like to revisit it once or twice a year and walk through the memories again. Her life and her death. Her own story and my story as her sister. 

My sister died one year ago today. Her loss hits me all the time, of course, that’s nothing new. Here and there, random times, usually when I’m driving. Then today comes and it’s like all those moments piling up into one long moment, like when you stop getting breaks between contractions and you’re not sure how you’ll ever breathe again. No matter how you try, the memories come flooding in and they don’t let up. But it’s okay because today is for remembering. Today is for grieving.

So I grieve. And I remember.

I remember the call from my older sister, “Erin died.” I remember sobbing in the bathroom while Jt was in the shower. I remember going into avoidance mode and taking the kids to school because what are you supposed to do? What else can you do?

I remember running in to grab a coffee and coming across two friends. I remember saying out loud for the first time, “my sister died this morning” and tears flowing right there in the coffee shop.

I remember panicking then that they would take her body before I got there and I called my little sister, freaking out, and she said, “hurry.” I remember getting there and the sheriff’s car parked out front. I remember sitting in her room with her, alone first, and then with my mom and sisters. I remember the outfit our mom put her in, cozy jammies, exactly as I would have done. I remember how I stroked her cold face, put socks on her cold feet, wondered about her nose beginning to purple before any other part of her.

I remember the funeral home arriving. I remember them wheeling her out of her room in a thick plastic bag. I remember kissing her face for the last time before they zipped the heavy bag closed.

I remember staying with my parents and sisters for several days as we made arrangements. I remember writing her obituary together, choosing her burial plot, and pissing off my dad as we giggled at the weird grave markers throughout the cemetery. I remember staying up most nights, eventually lying down on the couch just before dawn. I remember never quite getting to sleep before hearing the wails of my mother from the back of the house as she woke up only to remember. There is no sound on earth like that one.

I also remember though. I remember rides to church on Sunday morning, Erin between me and another sister, each of us pushing her back up as she would lean heavily against us. I remember the smell of Cheerio and OJ burps. That one is unfortunately seared into my brain forever.
I remember holding her during seizures. Gently so that she wouldn’t hurt herself and on her side so she wouldn’t choke. I remember now how that prepared me for my own child’s seizures.
I remember the time she was staying at my apartment and I thought I’d make her something different for breakfast so I made scrambled eggs with my last two eggs and, being a self-centered 20-something, I thought of it as a tiny sacrifice I was making out of love. When she spit them out I quickly remembered she hated eggs.
I remember another time she was staying at my house. A different house, one I shared with my husband and baby. I remember she was giving me fits. She refused any food or drink and I was getting the feeling she was just being ornery. I remember how Jedd told her to knock it off and she smiled. She was just doing what sisters do.
I remember that she loved my first baby. Whether Elliet was screaming or laughing or sleeping, she brought Erin a rare smile.

Today, I remember and I grieve and it’s supposed to get easier but today it’s not easier.

966351_10152194062104279_857037686_o

Erin Marie
September 7, 1975 – April 1, 2014

Posted in Grief | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

The Price of Love

“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.”  ~Unknown

A surprise crying session in the car this morning left me with this feeling that the sadness will never really go away. I think that’s okay though. Lately, there are more and more days where it lies dormant, allowing fuller engagement with life.
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of my Uncle Mike. Two weeks ago I had a dream in which I was upset over something and I went to him and he kissed my head and hugged me. However frequently or infrequently I saw him throughout my life, I felt loved every time.

Posted in Grief, Quotes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment