Unexpected Moments

When you lose someone, those moments when you suddenly think of them or want to call them…..they can sneak up on ya. I have had a few of those moments recently and they were unexpected.

My mom was one who loved bright colors. Despite not always being supportive when it came to my dreams as a kid, she was always supportive of my art. This past week, I painted a beach scene at sunset for a charity auction. I was second guessing myself the whole time but I was really happy with how it turned out. When I was finally finished with all the little details I though, “I bet mom would like this!”. For a split second, I’d forgotten she was no longer here. I quickly felt that sinking of the heart when I remembered I couldn’t call her or send her a picture. I sent a picture of it to my dad instead. I guess that desire for a parent’s approval never quite goes away, even when we reach adulthood.

I woke from a dream this morning which was nice. It wasn’t about mom but she was in it. We were relaxing, talking about something light and not terribly earth shattering. We might have been discussing our color preferences of drapes and window coverings. Again, not earth shattering but nice and light. Those moments are the ones I loved the most. Much of the time, I really held back my thoughts and opinions from my mom. As an opinionated person herself, she always managed to make me second guess my own intelligence when my opinion was challenged. She was the true “adult” and I was forever the child in her presence. A lot of the time when I was around mom, I was bracing for my next lecture on how I needed to “look to God” and read my Bible and essentially not be the heathen that I am. I spent a lot of my time around mom trying to avoid conversations about church, religion, God or politics. My favorite conversations with mom were the light ones where we’d laugh until we couldn’t breathe and we’d get silly and do accents. She had a great sense of humor and could see the funny side of most things. She would much rather laugh than cry and laugh she did. At her funeral, people commented that she had the best laugh and her friends had the best time when she was around. The last frame of the slideshow shown at her funeral was a picture of mom and my aunt laughing. It was taken on the trip they all took to California, just before mom was diagnosed. I stepped out when the slideshow was shown at her funeral. I have never seen it and I’m still not ready to try and watch.

Nothing like a good cry to ruin one’s makeup.

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Things I wish I knew….before

I’m turning 42 yrs old tomorrow. Perhaps with the mark of another year older has me feeling nostalgic. Tonight I was thinking back to when I was first pregnant. I was twenty years old when I had my first son. There are a few things I wish I knew when I was dealing with pregnancy and morning sickness the first time around. I really felt like a kid myself and I looked really young to boot. I suspect I looked like one of those unfortunate, disappointing girls who’d fallen pregnant in their teens. This was not a happy time for me and I wish I had someone who would have guided me with compassion though this period in my life. It’s a bit late for that for me now but maybe I can give some insights which might help another gal (of any age) embarking on the adventure that is pregnancy.

It’s OK not to be OK with what’s happening to your body. I remember being very afraid of the physical changes that would occur to my body. The idea of being pregnant is a lot to take You’re supporting a new life and this is no easy task. Pregnancy can be hard on the body both mentally and physically. It’s OK to not be OK with things. It doesn’t make you a “bad” person to be freaked out about stretch marks and weight gain. It doesn’t make you a bad person to compare your growing fetus to a little parasite which steels all of your energy and nutrients (because that’s essentially what they do!). It’s OK to voice concerns, frustrations and fears. None of these things make you a bad person, you’re just a human being going through a very new and life changing experience. Never let anyone else make you feel like a whiner either. Pregnancy effects everyone differently and there’s always that one person who has a breeze of a time. There’s always that person who has a really rough time. Again, pregnancy effects everyone differently.

Important point number two: Plan your meals by what will be most easy to deal with the second time around. What do I mean by this? Morning sickness. ¬†Morning sickness is a real thing but it’s also a bastard in that it doesn’t stick to just the morning. I would feel sick if I didn’t eat right when I was hungry. My blood sugar would drop off very quickly, resulting in wicked nausea. I was sick the first 5 months of pregnancy, both times! I soon learned to chew my food really well the first time around. I also learned that scrambled eggs can choke ya on their second appearance. I also had terrible heartburn both times I was pregnant. Meals need to be whatever you’re able to tolerate. Don’t worry about not getting enough nutrients. That’s why the give you a massive horse pill of a vitamin to take daily. ¬†Oh yes, and that vitamin pill can make you feel nauseated as well. Plan accordingly.

Clothing is a little tricky when you have an expanding belly. Wear what you want. I struggled with feeling good in my clothes when I was pregnant. Before, I considered myself rather fashionable. When I was pregnant, that went out the window in the interest of simply fitting into anything. Maternity clothing can be expensive but feeling good is worth it. Yes, it’s only a short time frame when you’ll be wearing maternity clothes but treat yourself if you can afford to. Also, underwear is another thing I couldn’t quite figure out. Do I want the elastic to go above my belly or below my belly. It’s a matter of comfort I suppose! There’s nothing worse that fighting with your underwear, pregnant or not. Buy what works best for you.

In conclusion, there is no right or wrong way to “do” pregnancy. There’s a load of things you will think and feel throughout this process. You might not be proud of everything that runs through your head but you know what? It’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Pregnancy is life changing and becoming a parent is definitely life altering. First and foremost, be kind to yourself because this is a unique and possibly a scary journey. It’s perfectly natural to have fears, questions, doubts and emotions. With many things, there are no hard rights or wrongs. Go with your gut. Don’t second guess yourself. No one feels truly prepared for what lies ahead but you’ll figure it out. I promise.

Best wishes to ya kid. xx

Self preservation

I woke to the news of another tragic event in my social media feed. This time the news was from London, England. A few weeks ago, it was a terrorist attack in Manchester. Before that, someone plowed through people walking on the London Bridge. Yesterday, my son was telling me about the protests and issues at Evergreen College in Washington state. In our local paper, I read about my coworker’s son and girlfriend. Both found dead from a suspected homicide/suicide. If you add in any of the current U.S. political stories, the onslaught of turmoil comes from all angles.

After a while, it really is too much.

I stopped watching the news soon after I had my oldest son. Every time I turned on the TV, I was met with more pain, anger, strife and suffering. As an hormonal new mom, my anxiety was at an all time high. I remember thinking, “What have I done!? I’ve brought this tiny new life into this horrible world!”. I struggled to not have internal panic attacks at the thought of him growing up and venturing out into the world. It’s hard to imagine the wisdom, common sense, conviction and strength one’s child will have at age 21 when you’re staring at a one month old baby. I had to not watch the news and I just focus on the mundane day to day chores of caring for a newborn. It worked and as he grew, my anxiety lessened.

When my youngest was born, I was back to watching bits of the news from time to time. Then 9/11 happened. If ever there was an event which made me feel completely unsafe and shook everything I’d been told, this was it. I remember I came out to see what was happening moments before the second plane hit tower two. I watched the news until both towers fell to the ground and I was glued to the news for days afterward. It was so horrific and unbelievable, I could not turn it off. Before 9/11, there was this unspoken idea that the United States was untouchable when it came to terrorism. These types of events happened in other places around the world, not here. That was the illusion anyway. After 9/11, that lie was shattered and I felt more vulnerable and unsafe. The idea I heard from church people of American being protected as they were a “nation under God” was an absolute lie. When I attend public events, I make sure I know where the exits are and I didn’t used to be hyper aware before.

Growing up, I remember seeing news stories about the Beruit bombing back in 1983. The news coverage seemed endless and as a kid, it felt like the world around us was ending. A few years later on home turf, I remember being filled with excitement when I sat down with my mom to watch the launch of the Challenger space shuttle (1986). I also remember my horror and confusion when I saw the shuttle explode on live TV before our eyes. It was horrific. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that those people I’d seen enter the shuttle had just died, with no hope of escape. The news stations kept playing the moment of the explosion over and over. It was so upsetting each time they’d show that clip. I also remember watching news of the Mount St. Helen’s eruption in 1980. I think this natural disaster was my very first taste of scary events which happened in my lifetime.

I’ve been on earth a relatively short time in comparison to all the turmoil that has happened since the beginning of time. I feel stuff around me. It effects me in a negative way. I get depressed if I allow myself to absorb every news story of every natural disaster, terrorist attack or tragic event. I can’t watch every news story like I did after 9/11 happened. I can’t be balls deep into what’s happening with Comey & Trump. I cannot invest emotionally in the protests or jump on every bandwagon even though they’re good causes. I simply can’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I’m apathetic and don’t have any conviction. It means if I’m going to be a functioning human being, I need to take a step back from it all. I do have opinions, convictions and anger about injustice. I just can participate at an “all in” level like I see others do online. If I spend all of my energy fretting and feeling the pain of the world, I will be useless for my family who also need me.

You know what? It’s perfectly OK to unplug, shut off the world and protect yourself.

Radical Self -Acceptance

Today was my weekly therapy appointment. I went in today, not quite sure what there was to talk about. Today is the anniversary of my mom’s death. I woke up this morning, checked my social media (as one does) and saw my sister’s post about missing mom. I had a nice note from my aunt which said she’d keep us in her prayers today and this week as it might be a difficult one for us. I appreciated the thoughts but I was really surprised by how OK I feel today. To be honest, I knew this date was arriving soon but I hadn’t put much thought into it all or hadn’t really pondered where I currently am in the grieving process.

In today’s therapy session, I learned about “radical self acceptance”. It’s a simple concept which essentially states that where ever you happen to be emotionally, it’s OK. Feeling good waking up on the anniversary of one’s mother’s death is OK. I’m not a monster for feeling good today. At the other end of the spectrum, my sister’s sadness is also OK. It just means we’re processing differently.

Today, we also talked about my being an introvert. I mentioned I often feel on the outside of things or I feel like the “weird” one, I also feel left out and ignored much of the time. Honestly, the quiet ones are easier to ignore, and I know this. My first thought when I think of myself is that since I’m not as involved in conversations, I must be a boring person. Actually, I fear people will find me boring because I’m a quiet person. This again is where the idea of radical self acceptance is applied. First, I’m not “weird”, I’m introverted which is OK. Second, if I want more attention, I need to say something about it. Also, wanting attention is OK. (see how this works?)

We talked about a few other things which were bothering me a little bit. Again, the idea of self acceptance was applied. I left feeling better, a bit lighter and looking forward to facing the rest of this week. We are going to try having sessions every two weeks instead of every week so I am looking forward to applying all I’ve been learning these past few months.

The big take away was accepting whatever is happening within myself, not judging it and knowing it is OK.