Come as You Are

Come As You Are by Crowder

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Life catches you off guard.  In the last year there have been significant moments where I have had to make choices and chose a new path.  Along these journeys, it has given me a new vision, my faith has become stronger, and I have surprised myself at how strong I am even at my weakest. I see the world more clearly; I know that I would rather have fewer amazing people in my life than know the masses of the people around me.   A tight knit “extended “family that knows my heart – just as I know theirs.  This extended family shows up when the darkest of clouds are over head and when the sky’s are blue and the sun beats down on us we play in joy and laughter at the purest of moments where we find nothing better to do than just be in each other’s company for however long it lasts.

I have had days where life spins me in circles, feelings of being ripped off the ground and I struggle to find my footing. I forget sometimes to breath, pay attention to what’s going on around me and pay attention to self care.  I wish I saw more givers and less takers in the world.  I want to believe the best in people and forget about the opposite. But this is unrealistic.

People in general spend so much time hiding who they really are and acting in a way that seems natural but just isn’t – depression, disease, abuse, people who don’t have family, some who can’t see their family or children or the millions of people who don’t have a place to sleep or food to eat.   I have been looking deep inside to find something that will fill this space or void I have carried around, this feeling of “I am not doing enough”.   I said, I want to believe the best in people. I figure, if I am the best version of myself, I believe I can impact change.

This past year, I committed to start working out more frequently so I joined Cross-fit.  It is unlike anything I have ever done physically in my life.  I have pushed myself to the place where I say, “I can’t” and then others start to cheer you on and through the exertion, sweat, tears, and injuries I push myself to places and complete exercises I never thought my body could do.  Yes, I fall but I get up and I have proven to myself that “I can”!  I am strong, I get exhausted and I know when I hit that point of breaking, I am capable of pushing forward and not giving up!  This “thing” I have become a part of, what I used to say was “insane” purely out of judgment.  I participate in reguarlary and it has changed my life. I have power that I didn’t know I had. The gut-wrenching strength I have because I have proved it to myself. In this comes self-care, purpose, and not the idea of; but the self-truth that I will never give up.  Cross-fit strips my mind and my body down to nothing and all I can do is to keep pushing forward.  This may seem simple but it has empowered me to find great strength inside of myself.

I desire to share my writing about life and what it means to me through self discovery, instead of talking about how I want to help people, I think it is a shit or get off the pot scenario for me (this is a terrible analogy) …. quit talking about it. I need to do and not say.  I need to take care of who I am because it has proven to give me great strength and empowerment. I need to get outside the bubble and pop it.  All the while, keeping in mind, I need to stay focused on self care and self discipline. Take risks, give back, pray and continue to have faith in life that I am where I am supposed to be!

I have now jumped into a few things.  I am a bit nervous and excited but only because of the unknown. I will finish my CASA training soon and I have just started the training process for the American Red Cross Disaster Response team.  I have realized over and over…life is so short, too short. I have real life experience (so does everyone else) but for me it is the most obvious in my home with my children.  Life changes so quickly. Do what drives you inside, allow yourself to discover new adventures if you have the means, even if you may go it alone for awhile, and may be outside of your comfort zone. Don’t second guess yourself. You may find a new calling something you are drawn too, carry your faith with you and push forward. Keep moving.

I have taken so many leaps this past year – I am not going to drone on about them but if you know me, you may know of my “leaps”.  Instead of being complacent I have had to hit the reset button on me.  I so value being raw with my people – cut the bullshit and just lay it out there. I don’t want to believe or live in a fantasy world that life is all rainbows and butterflies.  Life is also about struggles and never giving up. Take this one life you have and live it!

You can find this in your soul (something pushing you to look for, a person, a place; something simply unexpected and it’s your choice to step off the cliff whether you dive or jump you will instinctively come up for air.  Take that leap of faith and in time you just might find a better understanding of yourself and a new purpose.  You can find yourself shifting paths, the future is uncertain but what you might find ahead in your new surroundings is a place you find a new hope, a sense of purpose, and a new comfortable fit for exactly who you are now, perhaps a new calling – today keep moving forward with your faith, knowledge and strength.

There is so much life out there, so many moments, so many adventures…so use this opportunity to get up and get moving.  The world needs more of these people rather than the whiners and waiters.

Always.

 

Life Is Short

Flame by Foreigner

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I have been reminded lately that life is so short.  Things can change in the blink of an eye and some people don’t see it coming at all.  It feels like running full speed ahead into a brick wall and I won’t break threw it, I bounce back on my butt as if I was a rubber ball hitting that wall.

In the last week, I have found out that one of my family’s dearest friends has cancer. He has just started chemo but his hands are full with work, his other children, and fiancé’. It is the most wonderful person and has been in our lives for the past 13 years.  He has a wonderful sense of humor which I believe will take him far in this journey.  I saw him before his treatment and I love this guy so much and we have gone through so much in our sudo-family that I couldn’t hold back some tears.  I think I hugged him like four times and at the end he was reassuring me that everything would be fine.

Last night I got a call while I was watching a movie that someone I love with my whole heart, had fallen and was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a concussion and doctors were taking x-rays of her entire body.  Again, I was again reminded- life is so short.  Thankfully, she will only be bruised and sore but she was taken home last night.  My children saw the entire fall happen and were great helpers but I could see the worry in their eyes.

I didn’t sleep well last night.  My mind filled with love and prayer for these two people and their families.  Life changes quickly.  My friends and family were lucky at least for yesterday, they are lucky, because things could have been much worse! I have this strong desire to seize the day, carpe diem, or whatever mantra you believe in.

Care for the people who care for you and care of the people who just need to be cared for whether you know them or not.  Show the world you are kind and do something for someone else this weekend without expecting anything in return.  Pray for more kindness and always have faith.

My Children

My children are pretty wonderful! I know I am biased but when they go to their grandparents for a night or two and they jump out of the car upon their return and run to me arms wide open. I know I have done something right.  My children are loved deeply and they themselves know how to love. They run to their dad in the same way.  My kids come running full speed ahead and wrap their arms around me and squeeze like it could be our last embrace. Every single hug I get from them is this way.

As you have probably figured by my writing, I have twin boys who are twelve and my husband is the eldest of 3 brothers.  The gene pool is heavily weighted on my husband’s side…its something crazy like 36 grandchildren and all but one is a girl!!  Now, to me that’s a pretty loaded pool of testosterone.

When I got pregnant I remember thinking I wanted a girl but down to my core I knew I was having boys.  At first, babies were babies to me-a lot of work and they must be taken care of or literally they wouldn’t survive.  As months and years pass now, I have two pre-teen boys  that are somewhat independent, love to succeed and want to succeed, desperately want their parents to be proud of them as we both are. And I find myself loosening the reigns a bit, I don’t want to do this because they will always be my babies but they aren’t babies any more.

Each of my son’s have strengths and weakness and their uniqueness to each other and others their age is something for them to be proud of.  I have heard for years that my child is different in this way or that and I often cringe at these words where my fists unconsciously squeeze together.  See, the word different has a negative notion to it and it defiantly does to my son.  So, when someone calls him different I turn into momma bear and in my head their face hits my fist. Now, I am a rational person and do have my best moments when protecting my children’s right in school.  But when they are violated I come running in like a bull in a china shop.  I am proud of the advocate I am for my children.  I would help anyone out their if they struggled in this area.

All of us are unique, special, gifted and some things come easier for others but what someone else struggles with you might succeed at.  It is my job to show and teach my children to step in and help others with regard to this.

It is a constant battle for me to remind my sons that I want them to have a strong work ethic, a heart of gold, kindness, how to be gentlemen, and it is ok to fail as long as you get up and go after it even harder than the time before!! I want both of my sons to understand that the reward takes work, back breaking work and you will reap great reward from hard work.  There is a time for each of us to win and each of us to fall short.  I want them to know graciousness and courage as they move to their teenage years!

The Cassette Tape…

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As a 13 year old girl, I thought no one could hurt me. I enjoyed school, sports, band and hanging out with friends. I felt awkward at times as any new teen would but I felt secure with my surroundings, felt safe, and I felt invisible. My favorite thing to do was socialize with my friends and play sports.

I woke one particular morning in May, I got ready for school I listen to a mix tape a friend had given me, and I hummed and danced to the music as I picked out my clothes for the day. I remember putting on my favorite acid-washed jeans with a t-shirt and sweat shirts, I particularly remember that morning feeling like summer was coming soon as the sun broke through the curtains on the windows.

My sister yelled from the bathroom, “if you want a ride to school, you better be ready in five minutes.” I raced around my mess in our room, throwing things in my backpack, pushed stop on the cassette player that I had been listening to and remembered that my friend had wanted me to bring it back to her that week but I hadn’t gotten a chance to record it yet so, I left it on the player.

My sister and I drove to school, she dropped me that morning in the high school parking lot and I walked the short distance down the bike path between the middle and high school. The sun was out, warm on my face and I was excited for the start of a new week.

As I walked to school, I notice that just beyond the soccer field to my left, long yellow caution tape lined the tree line. It seemed to stretch almost the entire length of the field and I remember thinking it seemed strange and out of place but I didn’t really give it a second thought. I had been so excited to see the cute blonde haired, blue eyed boy I had a crush on.

I walked through the double doors at the end of the hall and I headed straight for my locker and as I fumbled with the dial to open my locker. A friend approached me with tears streaming down her face and asked me if I had heard. In my head, “I thought heard what.” I assumed it was something about her being dumped by the boy she liked. Why was she so hysterical?

Instead what fell from her lips, stopped time in my 13 year old life? I was still but trembling and I remember saying, “what are you talking about, how, why, what, where,” and my heart began to race. I felt light headed, sweaty, and nervous, my body was without response.

I walked to the band room and one of my favorite teachers’ was not in her classroom. I then walked the inner quad of the building and saw that on two walls outside my math room they were covered with white paper and I could see through the door that students and staff were inside her class. A few students retreated from inside, walked directly to the wall covered in paper and started to write something on the walls. Memories of …….. And on the other side they wrote, Feelings of ….. .

I leaned against the wall, felt my body collapse slowly down the side of the wall where I sat slumped over, my head in my hands. I was burning up, numb to everything around me. My favorite science teacher walked passed, he helped me up off the floor, hugged me with a tight long squeeze, he didn’t pull away and as my tears soaked into his light blue shirt, I said, “I need to see my sister, I need her, I need her.” In my heaving chest, racing heart, sweaty palms he aided me to the front office desk and gave me a pass, as I walked out the front door, he said “I will call the high school and let them know you need to see your sister immediately.”

I walked quickly to the high school, back down the bike path that I just walked earlier that morning and past the same yellow caution tape,. This time when I passed it, walking in completely parallel to whatever horror happened behind it, I noticed a few police cars and I started to run.

I made it to the high school, I threw open the door the students buzzed around inside, it seemed strangely loud and I walked into the office, announced who I was and through my hysterical state my sister walked to my side and I collapsed in her arms. I let go and the tears came like a heavy down pour as I tried to explain what was happening at the middle school and remember wanting an answer from her.  We moved into the principal’s office where we sat, she held me, and everything inside of me was empty.  I was so confused.

Did my friend really get murdered? How? When? Why? Who? My mind went to the mix tape I left at my house that morning that she wanted returned to her. The yellow caution tape told me where she took her last breaths and I looked to my sister, “Can we go home?”

We drove home, the car was silent, it seemed so hot but the heat wasn’t on and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was broken but even now I can’t find the right words or perhaps the full magnitude of how it felt. We pulled in the drive way, my sister brought me in the house and I went straight to our shared room. I sat on my bed and my eyes fell to the sight of the mix tape sitting on my cassette player.

I knew her laugh, her smile, her generosity, and how everyone always laughed when they were with her. And she was gone. I would never see her again, never hear her voice, see her smile or never laugh with her again. I was in shock. I felt numb, empty, and in complete disbelief.

I would never see life the way I used too, never feel free from fear, and I learned that day and still to this day that no knows what life has in store for us tomorrow.

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Out of protection of the family and friends that had  go to through this and all the surrounding people that had to deal with this and still do. I cannot share any more of this real-life story out of respect. I pray for this family every day think of them often and every year that passes I visit her grave with that same cassette tape early in the morning and play that song. Every year I shed tears for her and her family.  Many prayers to you all. She will never be forgotten.

Quiet Introspection

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

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Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants.  They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.

One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand.  The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.

The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.

I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.

Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.

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On her good days he is there.

When she feels like the weight of the world is baring down on her shoulders, when taking another step seems impossible, and when she feels empty inside he passes through her in her mind, her body, and her heart, she feels nothing.

There are a million little things about life to cheer for to be excited about and to be present in every moment this is required.  Let your shit go and just live. Who you are drifts – back like a heavy fog in the trees or across the highways and you slow to a crawl because you cannot see.

She can see but not in color. Everything is grey. Every once in awhile there are faded rainbow shades of color that sneak back in, then she blink and it’s gone.  There isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but quick sand that pulls her deeper and deeper. She swims in cold water and something keeps grabbing her ankles and pulls her head under. She can’t breathe and  she is stuck in the darkness.

On her bad days he leaves her. Its been happening for years and he has lost something in her and she in him.  The heaviness in her chest bares down and she drops to her knees, holding herself up by her arms locked at the wrist in the rain covered cement.

Please come back her.

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I have seen this quote before or different forms of it. It sends a slight nervous feeling down my spine, an uneasy feeling in my stomach, and a quietness in my mind.  Memories flood back. Something flawed and something I regret, something that would probably cause people to judge me. I know I could make a difference…even if only, to one person.  Raise awareness…

I am considering speaking about something in my life that happened. I am so worried about what people will think if they hear me speak…maybe, not that I am worried but worried about what it will make my family feel.  I don’t want to embarrass  anyone or have this be a reflection of others around me.

I know I have something to share, a point of view, something that will “split me open” and I don’t know if I am ready for it.  It often floods in and out of my mind, my writing and I always erase or delete it…I keep telling myself, let it go.

I wonder if speaking would set me free?

 

 

Whiplash

I Can’t Change the World by Brad Paisley

Dear friends new and old, for those of you who know me well, know that I should be fast asleep right now dreaming of my next travel plans, my birthday (which is tomorrow), and counting sheep and butterflies.  You know that perfect sleep where nothing can wake you.

Well, I am not there, not there at, all because I am suffering from whiplash.

My neck is in such great pain, shooting down my spin to my tail bone.  I am sure the bruising has already begun and I have no idea how I drove home, stayed on the road, crept up the stairs with my bags in stow…let alone, how the hell, I was able to bend over and take my pants off (currently, still sitting here in my bathrobe).  How did I even get my pajamas on?? Should I wake my sleeping husband who is snoring in the other room?

If the sun was out and it was just another normal day, I would scream out in pain and hopefully someone would come running to help me.

But because it is after 10pm, the house is quiet like the night before Christmas and I sit here alone with my head spinning! Reveling in pain, discomfort, and confusion…I am here, drinking tea in the darkness trying to calm myself down.  And tonight, that meditative shit everyone says works….isn’t working for me!!

I have no explanation as to why this happened, I feel so confused, and my heart is racing…I truly feel like I have been slapped across the face with tennis racquet as hard as possible.  So, hard in fact, my face has the strings imprinted on the entire left side of my face.

warning readers: this is a metaphor (I am totally fine!)

To My Grandfather…

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I hold you in my hand

your silent ashes dust my palm

fist clenched, I couldn’t release you,

colorful petals to guide you

beneath me, Lake Cushman

above me, a cloudless blue shy

around me, an icy wind without you

everyone who loved you…

A memory of your still body

I stared at you for countless hours

but now, your body does not exist

my angry hand loosens around you

I wanted one last goodbye, your whiskers scratching my face

but I missed it…

remembering the last words we shared

Today, I face life outside you

wondering what our words would’ve been in our last moments

making myself promises because of you

striving for goals to prove myself…”write,” you said.

I can’t guarantee mistakes won’t be made

but I will live on with your name honorably

Not ready, I let you fall between my fingers…

I put you to rest surrounded by family

and the wind carries you to the surface of the water

USS IOWA

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I walked up the large, steep, steel ramp. I slammed my foot down and it vibrated up my leg.  I was forced to take a silly picture against a  green screen and I was given a map. Yellow arrows were pointed out on the floor to me by a Vet. His jacket covered with patches, three metals, and a cap he wore with honor, tipped down over his left eye.  The wrinkles around his sunken eyes and creases at the corner of his smile pointed me ahead, I wanted to stop and sit, ask him questions, listen to him talk about those years on this ship.  I smiled and said thank you without looking back.

I left my heart sitting with him on that bench….now a retired director on a ship he loved and served his life on-no one would ever understand where he had been. Today, tourists walk by excited and busy without even seeing him.  This man of honor and steel.

I followed the yellow arrows around and under, up stairs and down stairs, in bunk rooms, in senior officers rooms, kitchens, mess halls, the Captain’s quarters. I peered through the same port holes, ran my hand down the rough steel exterior of a gun that I couldn’t possibly image going off. I laid on a bunk….three high and once in the bunk, I could not get out or down.  How could a full grown man fit in that bunk?

The steps, the stairs, the arrows, getting lost even with the arrows and the map, the history that was in front of me and behind me, so much life once happened on this ship….everything around me, underneath me…..I couldn’t breath, couldn’t catch my breath, I was so quiet, I could hear everything. Tears rolled down my face…

I was so moved. I could hear mates shouting , I could feel the exhaustion in me trying to imagine what these men and women sacrificed for us, for our country, the emotional burden of what it might be like without a family, I stood on the port side of the ship, wind on my face and whispered, “thank you.”

As I followed the arrows back to the exit ramped, I shook hands with every officer I passed-making sure to look into their eyes.  Without saying any words. Their eyes told me years of stories. They showed me their wounds, their losses and their wins and how proud they were to be a officer on the USS IOWA.

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