Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inspired by Grief

Yesterday, one of my former high school classmates passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  She leaves behind a husband and three darling sons.  I've been praying for her along this journey, through remission and recurrence, through highs and lows and I just cannot wrap my brain around the fact that she is gone.

Just over a month ago, a darling lady that I met while in a Bible study passed away.  One day she was a vibrant, healthy 76 year old sweetheart who blessed the socks off of everyone she met and the next she was in ICU dying from complications of pneumonia.  

While I loved both of these ladies dearly, I wasn't particularly close with either of them.  At least not in the way that warrants frequent phone calls or unplanned visits.

I guess that's why the intense grief I've felt at both of their passings has caught me off guard.

When Mrs. Jeannie died in December, I felt her loss in a way that surprised me.  During her short bout with illness, I prayed fervently that she would be healed.  I bugged our mutual friends who attend her church for an update, so afraid I'd miss an important change in her health. And when she was gone, I felt like the world was robbed because we didn't get to have her around to cheer us on anymore.

Much the same as, I've been on pins and needles hoping for good news from my childhood friend.  When the news came that she'd been moved to a hospice center, I still had hope though deep down I knew that the end was near.  And, now she's gone.  That feeling of deep sadness and injustice takes over once more.  She's a mommy.  To three boys.  Lord, they need her. Why?

Though I am talking much about my own feelings, please do not think this is about me.  It's not.  Both of these ladies were incredible.  Both lived life as if they were in love with it.  They enjoyed every second that they were given.  Even in illness, the worst kind of illness that robs you of everything that the world holds dear, my friend was so strong.  She was an encouragement to others.  She was rarely seen without a smile.  She spent every second she had enjoying those boys and making memories with them.  She fought so hard.  They both did. 

So, tonight, I am trying to break out of the "Why?" zone.  I'm trying.  Instead, I want to show how inspired I am by two amazing women.  These two women who never met are forever entwined in my heart. I tend to get so caught up and bogged down by life's inconveniences that I miss some of the most beautiful parts.  I don't want to see how amazing life is through hind sight.  I want to look every day straight on with a smile.

My friends we both so encouraging to others.  I will be, too.

They smiled, even in the toughest of circumstances.  I will, too.

They loved deeply and with the purest of hearts.  So will I.

They lived each day as if it were the best they'd ever had.  Then, so can I.

They fought hard.  We all do.

I will not simply grieve and move on.  I will grieve and be inspired.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Old School Blogging: 2013 Re-Cap

I'm joining my friend Elaine over at The Miss Elaine-ous Life today for Old School Blogging! This is a long one but it was crazy to think back over a whole year.  My memory isn't what it used to be!!

2013 Re-cap

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
HUGE bucket list...I traveled to Italy!! It was even better than I imagined.  

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm sure I had at least one.  To lose the pesky pounds that I've gained over the past two years.  However, I didn't write it down and I didn't keep it so it doesn't count...right?  For this year, I have so many.  I'm terrible at putting them out there because I don't like to fail but I need the accountability so I'll tell you a few.
a) The pounds.  They need to be lost.  I need less jiggle and more wiggle.  Whatever that means.  I just need to get serious about getting healthy again because I've really let stress take over for the past couple of years.
b) Read more.  As in, real books. With chapters and no pictures.
c) Find something for me.  I spend so much time doing everything that I think will make everyone else happy and I think 2014 needs to be the year that I find some purpose for myself.  What has God called me to do? I have no idea outside of taking care of my husband and kids but I know a few things I love to do and I'm hoping to find ways to incorporate those into my life more.  If I could find what I want to be when I grow up in the process, that would be stellar.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin's wife had a baby boy and that's the only one I can remember.  There must have been more.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A sweet lady that I was in Bible study with shortly after we moved here.  It's the strangest thing to me because our Bible study was only 7 weeks long but when she suddenly got sick and passed away afterwards, I felt her loss so deeply.  I am still just so sad about it.  We were a Bible study full of 30 somethings and she was in her 70's yet she really seemed to love being in there with all of us.  She was genuinely the sweetest lady.  I can't explain how she impacted me in the short time I knew her.  

5. What countries did you visit?
England, France, Belgium, Italy and the United States. I think that's it!

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Focus. In so many areas.  I need to be more disciplined and I want to focus less on what others think.  I'd like to also focus more on loving those around me.  Survival mode needs to be switched off! Also, exercise.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 4.  We had just gotten back to the US days before and were celebrating with friends who moved here from England at the same time as us.  We just felt so content and so happy to be home.  
December 30.  Our family was here and we celebrated my amazing husband's promotion.  That night, we stayed up late playing Rock Band and pretending to be rock stars.  It was the most fun EVER.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I made it through in one piece.  The huge things that made me feel like my world was upside down look smaller in hindsight. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
UGH.  Weight gain.  Plenty of it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hmmmmm.  This is a tough one.  A new car, maybe? We were down to one for our duration in England and it was our giant SUV so when we moved back, we needed to add a second and more economical (re: not a gas hog) vehicle to our family.  

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel.  Moving expenses.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Finding out our next assignment.  Going to Italy.  Moving.  Finding out that J. made his promotion.  Getting to see family after two years!

14.  What song will always remind you of 2013?
Unfortunately, it will be "What Does the Fox Say?"

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? Happier, for sure.
thinner or fatter? I think we've established this.  Don't make me say it again.
richer or poorer?  Hmmm.  The same maybe?

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading.  Bible study.  Putting myself out there to make new friends.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stress over the things I couldn't change.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
With my five favorites here at home. It was amazing.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Blacklist and Castle.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Amazing.
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Jillian and I dance to it every afternoon while I cook dinner and she unloads the dishwasher.  I will love it forever because of our dance parties.
22. What was your favorite film of the year?
Pitch Perfect. (Duh.)  I didn't get to see it until 2013! Also, Despicable Me 2.  I know, I'm basically a child.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 and I had a fun night with my favorites here at home with an amazing cake and takeout. Funny though, I was convinced that I'd turned 36 last year so I spent an entire year telling people that I was 36 only to realize just before my birthday that I was only 35 about to turn 36.  I gained a whole year!
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Finding a local group of girlfriends!!
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Oh boy.  It was lacking.  I need to step it up.
26. What kept you sane?
I'd say my sanity is debatable.  :-) Just kidding.  My hunky husband and cute kids.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
That it's ok to do what's best for me and my family even when others don't agree.  That I don't have to feel guilty for other's poor behavior and my inability to change it.  To listen to my intuition and stop apologizing for who I am.  Whew. 

Wow.  That was hard! I had to really think on some of them!! And, I realized that 2013 was LONG and sometimes so hard but I made it through and I'm so thankful for the New Year.




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weather Wimps

I grew up in the south.  I like to think that southern folk are tough.  We can handle 100 degrees with 100% humidity and barely glisten.

There is, however, one thing that we can't handle.  Cold weather. My kids got an extra day of vacation today because it's cold out.  And, there's a two hour delay tomorrow.

Listen, I'm not complaining.  I love having them home and every Sunday night, I get really sad because I know that Monday means they are leaving me to go back to school.  I just think it's funny that the weather dipped below freezing and we're out of school.  When we first got the call, I rationalized it in my head with thoughts like, "Well, the kids here just don't have the winter gear to be out in this kind of weather. Imagine those babies standing out at the bus stop in their windbreaker when the temp is 11 degrees."

I logged onto Facebook today and immediately felt like the south is full of a bunch of wimps.  My friend in NYC had her precious boy all bundled up in so many layers that he looked like Ralphie's little brother.  She was walking him to school.  In the snow.  Four miles and uphill both ways, I'm sure.

My kids were home today because it's cold out.

Regardless of why they were home, I was happy to have them.  I'm feeling pretty somber tonight about having to send them back tomorrow.

We had a lot of family in over the Christmas break because J. was promoted and they all came down for the ceremony. We had 14 extra people in the house and we loved every second of it.  As we all sat around talking one night, I noticed a familiar look on J's face.  I asked if he was ok and he said, "I am.  I'm so content."  As a smile spread across his face, I realized that I felt the exact same way.  Being surrounded by our people makes us happy.

Tomorrow brings back a familiar routine of packing lunches and carpool lines and homework.  I think I'll start my summer break countdown now.


Monday, January 6, 2014

2014

One of my first blogging friends, Kat, just came back from a bit of a blogging break.  I was so thankful to see her writing again and reading her blog took me back to my early days of blogging. I still read and visit so many of my friends from those days.

I started this blog SEVEN years ago.  How is that even possible? I remember agonizing for over a year before I started blogging because I needed a creative name.  Should I even be surprised that the same perfection that caused me to pine over the name is what has kept me from writing? You see, I started to think that I could only write here when I had something interesting to share.  A funny story to share was better than the mundane details of our daily lives.  We moved to England and I honestly lost the ability to cope with anything more than my mundane details so sharing them seemed overwhelming.  J's new job there brought added stress along with the stress of moving our little family overseas and adjusting to SO many new things at once. Survival became my sole focus for two solid years.

We did have a great time in England and we miss it already! We did our share of traveling around Europe and experiencing things I'd only dreamed I'd ever get to do. We made friends that will be a part of our heart and lives forever.  It was brilliant.

All the while, in a corner of my heart reserved just for a passion I've had since high school, I still longed to write here.  I wanted to share with my friends what I was experiencing.  I wanted to tell you all how quickly the the kids were growing and changing.  I wanted to preserve some of those memories for myself because I often come back here and browse my own archives to refresh my memory of the early years with tiny children around my feet playing and growing.

Before I knew it, our two years was over.  The job that my husband had trained for and coveted his entire career was over.  (He wasn't fired.  In the military, this particular job is a two year assignment.) It stretched us and changed us.  It challenged us and molded us.  We came back to the states this summer five people who were unrecognizable to the five who left.

So, here I am.  We are back in the states and back in our beloved south.  We are all huddled around watching Auburn play in the championship game tonight and though we've lived here for only a few short months, we are fans.

Of the state and their football teams.

Of the people.

Of the new job that has slowed our pace and been a balm to our weary souls.

J. and Jillian have been sweetly hinting that it might be time to find my passion for writing again.  I think (and hope) they are right.

2014 is going to be a good year.