Sunday, December 30, 2018

Celebrate Every Tiny Victory

Yesterday started out rough, rougher than rough but I’m finishing the day on an upswing. 

Am I still feeling green and struggling with my gut? 100 % 

But I’m choosing (& having to work hard at that) to celebrate every tiny victory. 

Getting my errands done, eating healthy meals to try and give my gut a break, and actually making it to a movie (something I love to do even alone). 

I am trying to make the good things count more than the bad. So here’s to every victory we make, even the tiny ones. 

#authenticityjourney #whoneedsperfect

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Interesting Start

So I’ve been reflecting lately on a quote by Wilder. 

My mama tells a story about how around October before I was born in July. She and my dad had been trying when she prayed to God that for a baby by the end of the month and then they would stop trying. It’s nice to know mama and God have such a connection and that God wanted me here.

Another interesting thing is how I arrived. I was born via C-Section in July. I was 9 pounds of screaming and red mess who was breathing too fast. Apparently it’s very common and treatable. One minor exception: I was the only 9 pound baby in the NICU and I apparently didn’t like all the wires they had in me. (I’ve seen the pictures) Also I finally started breathing normal once they let my mamma feed me. *Also, none of this post is medical advice, just a story.*

Tonight these facts have me thinking on two things. It’s kind of ironic I have IBS and how much what I eat and how much I eat still drives my life. And secondly I came into this world screaming for what I needed and felt only to grow up into an introvert who’s spent much of her life putting everyone’s needs and happiness above anything to do with me. Only now am I actually trying to find out who I am,what I need, and how to ask for it.

Curious how we grow and change and find links to our past and present.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Update: Still Waiting

I’ll still waiting through pain and feeling like I’m going to be light-headed and nauseous forever. 

Waiting for doctors, appointments, lab work, and I don’t know 🤷🏼‍♀️ 

Do you ever wonder? Ever doubt about the plan? Ever feel like you’re screaming at a ceiling and no one is listening? 

Guess I’m a little like “Doubting Thomas” tonight.

Here’s something I listen to when I start doubting 

Chapters (feat. Gavin DeGraw) - Brett Young

Friday, December 7, 2018

What I Can Do Not What I Can’t

I was given the challenge yesterday instead of focusing on all I can’t do right now with my chronic disorder run amok. Instead make the choice to focus on what I can still do. 

Never thought about how hard that can be. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do. 

So if you’re trying something like this, I see you and more power to you. 

It Ain’t Easy AT ALL.




Sunday, December 2, 2018

Strongest Mama In The World

My mama is the strongest woman on this Earth. Growing up, I used to describe as this kind of stone we would leap across during our mini-adventures on the Parkway. These stones weren’t always huge just big to put your front on but they never moved. The creeks flowed right around them. Family after family would jump amongst them but still they held firm. 

My mama has always been a helper, one of those people you look to when you’re scared. She worked her tail off as a nurse for over 35 years and that wasn’t just at the office; sometimes that would be at our church, our schools and activities, and a lot of times in our own home. *Hint: I’m a klutz and the child that never knew when to slow down.* 

She held our family together while my dad battled cancer over and over again. They did it as a team she would want me to tell you. That team worked through unimaginable things to keep our family intact and our lives still as normal and full as possible.

Still she keeps getting up. Getting so excited for the holidays. For family and her grandkids. Keeping me focused on all the good things and that things will work themselves out. Even  when the cold weather makes it hard on her, she keeps going.

And I’d better stop talking about her because she would say it’s no big deal. She’s a mom. This is what she’s here for. And that she doesn’t like any attention on herself. 

But just in case anyone was wondering: this girl is truly thankful, grateful, and blessed for my mama.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

I’ve spent my life waiting

I’ve spent my life waiting ... forever it seems:
  • For my dad to get better and for my mom to get better
  • For my family to be happy and healthy and not always battling something 
  • For me to feel better, to be healthy and free finally 
  • For doctors and more doctors and more doctors to figure how to make me healthier 
  • For me to feel strong to go and explore everything I want to see
  • For me to feel strong enough to help someone like so many people have helped me.
  • Deserving of all the blessings I’ve been given and for that notion that “I’ve been paid for”
  • To matter ( in those big and small ways)
  • To not feel like such a screw up
  • To find a way to help someone with what’ve I’ve learned through all my bumps and bruises 
  • For there to be a reason I’ve been on this forever waiting path
  • To understand and believe 
  • To find love 
  • And sometimes to feel safe again 
Okay end rant and self pity any second now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Authenticity Journey Update - Real Truth for Better or Worse

I have watched a lot of  M*A*S*H. The show is one of the top five shows in history; well according to me. There's a line from an episode "The Sniper" where Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is in the mess tent hiding from a sniper with Frank (Larry Linville) and Radar (Gary Burghoff) and he's talking about heroes. **Now here's my disclaimer: I am no hero. I have been blessed to have known true heroes in my life and I am not one. And I'm not sure how much this quote applies to them.** However, there's a part of this quote that speaks to me right now.
"He's somebody who's tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn. I don't give a damn. ... " 
Now for me this speaks to why I'm writing today. I've been in perpetual health state of awfulness for two months. Pain, nausea, fatigue, migraines, lightheaded, can't keep any kind of nutrition in me, and all other forms of stomach awful symptoms. And one would think about over ten years of having severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux (GERD) that what my doctors and I have planned out for flare ups and a protocol to manage my symptoms would be working and I could handle this most recent bout.

Nope, even a little bit, not even at all. That's how bad it's gotten. Short of having my gallbladder removed I have pushed through my IBS symptoms time and time again to accomplish my goals or do my job. I took two finals in high school while being noticeably sick with the flu and IBS; true I did sleep for like twelve hours when I got home but I still finished those tests. My special gift in life is to hid and bury down deep whatever's hurting to accomplish whatever is in front of me. To a fault, that's what I'm good at.

I can't work. I can't stay out of bed for longer than five hours at a time. I'm permanently wearing a path between my bed, bathroom, and kitchen. I'm surviving on plain noodles, protein bars, peanut butter crackers, and Gatorade. I'm so far past done with this stuff. I'm so tired and so tired of being tired.

So why am I sharing all this probably-too-much-information with the internet. Knowing that there are so many others suffering so much worse than me. Because ... Maybe it will help someone out there who's in the midst of their own battle to know they're not alone. And less noble reasoning maybe it'll help me by sharing this stuff. Maybe it will do some good getting it out of my head at least since it won't leave my body.

Or maybe it's as simple as I'm "tired enough and cold enough ... not to give a damn" who knows. How's that for authenticity? Guess I just got real REAL.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Importance of Being Seen

In my family growing we were always late; always. Maybe it had something to do with 4 people trying to use one bathroom, two kids with too many different activities but a lot of the time it was because of my dad. My dad had this amazing yet annoying ability to make friends or find someone he knew or a squirrel looking like it needed a friend. 

Undoubtedly we would start to leave somewhere and halfway to the door; I turn around my dad is talking to someone almost completely clueless of me and totally clueless that we were about to leave or the time. Cut to thirty minutes later, I’m sitting on the floor, in the grass, on the car twiddling my thumbs when he finally finishes and says, “Let’s go.” Really let’s go, dude I’ve been saying that for thirty minutes or eventually I learned not to say it at all just find a comfy-ish spot and my book (we’d learned to always have one handy) and wait until he was done.
It was a running joke with people who knew my dad or my family; “you have to tell him we need to be there at 5” for something that started at 5:30 and had us coming in the door at 5:40. A thirty minute cushion or more depending on the event. 

After he died his ability to talk to anyone anything really was the main story I heard about or more like the ghost that followed me around my hometown. I hated it at first: I missed him so much I couldn’t breathe but all anyone wanted to talk about when they saw me or heard my last name was him. And I’ve always struggled with figuring out who I am separate from who my family is. But my dad’s gift for listening is a memory of him that has just endured. 

One time I finally asked him why he knew so many people or why couldn’t he just duck like the rest of us. And he looked at me and said, “Sometimes people just need five minutes of your time.” Cue of my snarky response but he would continue, “Five minutes where you look them in the eye and really listen to what they have to say, you don’t think of what you’ll say next or where you have to be or what groceries you need. You focus on the person and what they are telling you.” And suddenly I had no snark. I noticed something though; after my stubborn self got out of the way. 

Sometimes it was easy talking about the Redskins or dropping in the bank and sometimes I noticed my dad was checking in on a sick relative or someone who was having a bad day or someone who just needed someone to see them. 

It’s taken me a lot of years but I finally get it. My dad was showing me and everyone the importance of being seen and being valued. Of someone coming to you, looking you in the eyes and saying “I see you and you matter. So I’m going to take these five minutes to make sure you feel that.” 

For someone who struggles with anxiety, health issues, and past scars feeling seen means EVERYTHING. I start tearing up everytime that’s happened to me lately. I’m not sure why but I know it’s something between “what do I do with this” and “holy cow they aren’t running away from me and my stuff.” And maybe it’s a sign from my dad that today’s going to be okay; his friendship magic wore off on me too. And maybe that was his bigger point: showing his daughters and community that a little act of kindness, five minutes out of your day can truly change someone’s day. 

And maybe if we all tried that every once and awhile, we’d come together more than we fall apart and maybe we all would get a chance to heal and know that hope really is still here.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veteran’s Day: Look for the Helpers

Today is Veteran’s Day and so many have sacrificed so much abroad and at home for all of us to have the lives and freedoms we have today. It just breaks my heart that some of us use that freedom of speech to speak hate instead of support and love. 

My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather served in the military and I’m so grateful for all they did. My parents also raised me to remember all I have been blessed with, to use my blessings to shine a light and help those in need. 

How about this: every time you see something negative or divisive we push this forward or another positive message forward. 

#woolseyfire #authenticityjourney #californiawildfires #lafdheroes 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Election Night Soapbox

I don’t know why but this quote just speaks to me today. 

BTW - I write honestly about my life here because at the end of the day I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding about my life and how I experienced it. My journey isn’t anyone else’s. 

That’s why I vote too. I don’t think a bunch of old white men should have the power to say what my rights are (I’ve read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), how I take care of my own physical, mental, and emotional health, and how I choose to share my story with others. You don’t have to like me or agree with me but you do have respect my rights as a human being and an American citizen. I’m protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights just like you. 

And I know I sound angry but I’m not and honestly this whole #authenticityjourney is about being real and maybe showing someone out there that they aren’t alone. And isn’t that what we all want to have and want our country to stand for. That we might not get along, we may bicker and disagree most of the time but at the end of the day we come together as a nation and as communities to help one another in times of need, protect each other, and maybe leave the place a little better than how we found it. 

I voted today as a part of a process, country, and world that is far from perfect. But hopefully in the small and large steps we take each day, maybe it’ll all be a little better tomorrow. 

#iamavoter #vote #tired #bettertomorrow #offmysoapboxnow 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tuesday Tune: #NCHalloween Challenge

My “Tuesday Tune” this week is an encouragement for the #NCHalloween and a hint as to what my costume will be tomorrow. 
Think back to the 1940s episode of One Tree Hill and this song: 

Please read yesterday’s blog post (

Are you taking the challenge? Happy Halloween Eve!  

#NCHalloween #capefearlesschallenge

Monday, October 29, 2018

#NCHalloween Challenge


(1) Dress as your favorite NC character for Halloween

(2) Post a picture of your costume with the hashtag: #NCHalloween

(3) If someone asks about your costume: tell them how they're still rebuilding after the storm, tell them donations are still needed through #capefearlesschallenge , American Red Cross, Gleaning for the World, etc. 
I could be too late as Halloween is just two days away; I'm going to try anyways. This Halloween, please dress as your favorite character from a film or television show filmed in North Carolina; in honor and remembrance of those still rebuilding after Hurricanes Michael and Florence along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Post a picture of it with the hashtag #NCHalloween along with a link to #capefearlesschallenge or of how they can help. Share this challenge with your friends across social media. 
            (1) To bring a little light to everyone's life this week after so many tragedies in the last few months. (Who doesn't like remembering their favorite film or movie moment)
            (2) To help everyone remember that recovering after a hurricane devastates a community happens over months and years; not just the first few days and weeks.

            Your costume can be as complex or simple as you want. It could be a simple t-shirt with a particular film or TV quote. It could be a couple's costume from Dirty Dancing, Dawson's Creek, or The Notebook. Whatever it may be; just whichever is your favorite.

So please SHARE & on October 31st - make it a #NCHalloween

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

So many highs and lows

Ever have a day that has been so full of emotion it leaves you exhausted from the elations and sorrows. That was my yesterday. I might have made some progress in finding answers to why I’ve been so sick lately, but I was also reminded that there’s still work to be done. And overwhelming joy, pride, and happiness as my best friend, the woman who stood by me through so much turmoil, was a warrior woman and gave birth to a precious baby boy. (He’s so perfect - it’s too much cuteness) She’s amazing. 

As I reflect on the day, I’m reminded of two things: a lighthearted quote

 And this song; just take the time to listen and reflect on a new day.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


I’m really good at playing a part, putting on a brave face. But here’s the Truth: I’m freaking terrified by life and my place in it most of the time. There you have it: I just named my biggest secret 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Looking for the Silver Lining - Carolina Style

If you've been reading along in the blog or following my #authenticityjourney, these last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for me and my IBS has run amok of my life. However whenever I've needed a pick me up in the past; North Carolina always gave me one.

  • Watching my first romantic comedies (A Walk To Remember, Dirty Dancing, The Notebook, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, etc.) with my sister whenever I was down or teenage angst or whenever the fear of losing our dad because of his cancer became too big. - My sister always protecting, loving me and creating a bond that has weathered so many storms. We are a team, have always been a team, will always be a team; no matter how many years are between or miles apart. 
  • Going to visit my Grandma in Durham, my Mimi in Winston-Salem, visit with cousins, aunts, uncles, and more at a family reunion in the mountains of NC or in Lexington, family beach trips to the Outer Banks - my roots always giving me strength. 
  • Hearing my parents and family tell me stories of the real Bull Durham, where Wake Forest got its start, and all of the family history - deepening my bond with both of the state's I grew up in.
  • Going to Meredith College in Raleigh, where I became apart of long, proud history of strong women surrounded by amazing people that encouraged me to learn and grow, in and out of the classroom. Formed incredibly tight bonds with sister/friends who laughed, cried, and pushed me to be all I could. And when my whole world came crashing down when my father died in my sophomore year that whole campus community surrounded me with so much support, encouragement, and light until I could once again see that light again myself. - So much love and laughter along with cherished memories. Bonds we share even miles apart and distracted by complicated lives. 
  • Going to the concerts or blasting out to music by Scotty McCreery, Anthony Hamilton, Britt Nicole, Kellie Pickler, Eric Church, and more, lots of artists, all genres as I drove down 40, 86, 29, and 440. 
As I've felt beat down these past couple weeks, I've tried to remember all that those memories, people, and moments that have gotten me this far. I'm so grateful for them, all of them and they continue to help and strengthen me. And then I'm reminded that there are still so many people suffering in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina because of Hurricanes Florence and Michael and the floods after the storms.

So this Halloween, I want to start a trend to help support those who are still rebuilding and shine a light on their strength. You can find other ways to support through this article; The Women of OTH have already started a great challenge through #capefearlesschallenge . Can we keep the momentum going? I'm asking.

Halloween is a time we celebrate with friends and family over pumpkin spice coffee and candy. What if we turned our much loved excuse to dress up as a way to help others to raise awareness? This Halloween, dress up as your favorite NC film, television show, or artist and share that picture on social media with the #OTHhalloween or #capefearlesschallenge. If someone asks about your costume choice, tell them why that's your favorite show or movie and how they can still help people rebuild. But do y'all agree, lets keep the ball rolling.

**I'll post some more ideas in a couple of days**
(Images Sourced from Google Image Search)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Beyond exhausted like past physical exhaustion at this point

Well I've been MIA for a bit. I've been so tired lately, I'm on like day 16 of IBS episode and on day 4 or 5 of a test for my specialist. Normally I have an episode for a day or so and I'm able to work throughout and I'll have a week to a couple of weeks before I have another one. But no not anymore. And I'm so over it and so mad it's not even the slightest bit funny.

Ever reach that point? You're tired of hurting, trying of cabin fever and you're whole life forced to be contained to within four walls.

Fall is starting here and I live in the foothills of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. I want to go out and hike. I want to go to my favorite orchard, climb on a hay bale, pick some gourds and pumpkins, feed the donkey that's been around forever, and stuff myself on amazing apply doughnuts. I want to play on my friend's farm and hear about their recent birthday.

What I don't want is to be stuck indoors running between my bed, my couch, and my bathroom. Going to doctor to doctor to lab for what. What's gonna change? More medical bills, more visits. I'm so tired of this stupid merry-go-round. This "Hope's Still Here" girl is barely holding on to a silver of hope that I pass out from exhaustion before my head begins to spin and my body finally stops trying to kills me or at the very least make me miss my favorite season.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Tired Rebel Heart

Still getting beat up pretty bad by my IBS and GERD. I wasn’t getting worried in the first few days because well I’ve had this thing since I was 12 so years of experience, really great nurse mama, and brilliant doctor - we’ve got a protocol worked out. I know what to do with what trigger or symptoms occur. Even if those symptoms change drastically for a few days, I probably just picked up a bug and it’ll take longer to get rid of. The thing is this is week two of change of new awfulness and I’m starting to get a smidge cranky. I’ve missed work (and I don’t miss work or school - I took 2 finals in high school while I had the flu and IBS only to pause for bathroom break once); last time I missed this much work I had to have my gallbladder out. All tests are coming back normal which is good but I’m still in hella pain. And it sucks. 

Ever get to a moment in your life where you’re staring at the sky, “Hey, what else am I supposed to do? I’m checking all the boxes and really none of it is enough. Really. How many more rounds are you going to make me go through?” And I know how lucky I am that I’m talking about IBS and not something a lot worse; I truly know I got an easier load to carry here. I don’t know lately it just feels harder, more draining. 

So as I look up a couple times this battle round  my shuffle mode lands on this song “Rebel Heart” by Lauren Diagle. First off: the girl can SANG! But also I just want to hope the song is like a wink from God; “Hang in there, I know you doubt sometimes and are feeling beat down but rebel I SEE YOU.” 

Isn’t that what we all want, especially the rebels: to be seen? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Hamilton Pick Me Up

Getting beat up pretty bad lately by my IBS. Funny how they didn't tell when I was diagnosed that my symptoms could change at the most inopportune time. So I've had this song on repeat the past couple of days; hope it helps you too.  (And yes: I listen to Hamilton on repeat when I'm down.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Where'd the happiness go? Again

I remember the first semester when I started to feel again; I was studying in DC for the semester and it was so hard but so amazing at the same time. It was if I had fought my way back into the light and it was amazing.

Lately, I feel like I'm fighting to get back to the light again. AGAIN! So when I get fed up with fight or annoyed at things happening AGAIN I crank up the tunes. Today this one came up on my shuffle mode. Thought you might like it too.

"Searching for meaning, it's not always easy; But your story's not over, it's still being told; Your sunrise is coming without letting go" 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Go Easy - Today's Is Hard On Me

Let's Get Real Real.

All this week during National Suicide Prevention Week, I've tried to encourage those battling the darkness to seek help and see the hope still left in the world. I've hinted and shared that I've glimpsed the darkness after the loss of my dad and my struggles with anxiety. I got to thinking why would you believe me; I'm hoping you will take me at my word but if you weren't I guess its time to practice what I preach. Being authentic and real even when my voice shakes

Now I'm not brave enough to show you a picture, let alone have my picture taken during one of my panic attacks; truth being I don't want anyone to see me or touch me or hug me during a panic attack. As soon I start to feel my hand shake, foot tap incessantly, my fingers twitch, tightness around my chest, a weight pressing down on me, the live wires running along my veins, or my mind spinning uncontrollably refusing to listen rational thought; I just want to disappear into my room or under an invisibility cloak. A little over two months ago I experienced a panic attack but afterwards I asked my mom to take a picture. Originally to show my counselor and now to show you.

I'm lying underneath all of my covers to keep me warm, a weighted blanket to soothe, on a wedge pillow hoping to stall any nausea or GERD attacks, face soaked with tears, red from crying, holding a stuffed animal I've had since I was little, and listening to a funny TV show on my Kindle to distract me. 
This is really hard for me to be this vulnerable; to open myself up to the world at one of my weakest moments. Hoping that instead of judging me or bullying me; you find comfort and compassion instead.

Today I know and I'm beginning to believe that my anxiety and loss is just a part of my story and does not define me. But that hope I've found, it takes a lot of continual hard work. So yes I've seen some of the darkness and I get occasional reminders to hold on to hope even when darkness tries to surround me. My hope with this point: you truly see that you are not alone and neither am I.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Hope's Still Here - I used to love the rain!

I used to love the rain. I would run out just to play, walk, run, or dance in a summer storm. I still do sometimes stand out in the rain with my head tilted toward the sky just feeling the water wash over my face. However, now Hurricane Florence has hit and is threatening a lot of people I care about with a lot of wind and a lot of water.

Confession: I may be a North Carolina girl at heart but never really been a big fan of the beach. For all my past love for rainstorms; I generally don't like swimming or being in anything other than a pool. I love Outer Banks, areas along the Sound, Cape Fear Basin, and the beach; but not the ocean. Kind of hate it or rather terrified of it. I would always come up with ways to spend the least amount of time in it: oversleep, blame my pale easily sunburned skin, freckles, being a girl, etc. And wouldn't you know it all goes back to my anxiety, my fears, and my long bumpy journey through life.

The reason I'm scared of the water is because I can't see the bottom or what's around me most of the time and it goes on forever - immensity. I can't control it and I can't control my own body's path when in it completely; and thus keep it the heck away from me. Bonus points: it can be very dark and stormy looking sometimes so sort of like a personification of my life.

Anybody else feel like that; figure out that one of your childhood fears has everything to do with your adult anxieties. I lost someone I love, watched both of my parents fight horrible diseases, fight my own demons and who'd thunk I'd be terrified of things I can't control or situations where I'm not sure of where I stand. Controlling things or at least feeling like I can is how I survived so as I try to discover a new way of doing things I'm confronting all my past fears and hang ups to see if they're logical/normal or another manifestation of the crappy road I've been on thus far.

This right about the time I would love to stand in a short summer rain or smell the air of the South right before a storm. Thanks to Hurricane Florence (hurting my beloved North Carolina) and healing (which is taking an annoyingly long time) I don't know if I'll play in the rain the same way I used to.

Do you ever feel like that? That you keep finding ways in which the darkness has changed you or created leftovers that you have to deal with. I guess its true what they say:
"No one gets out of this life alive ... Life is a process, not a goal." - Charles Franklin
Here is a link in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week. Stay safe and ask for help whether its for help fighting the darkness ...

Or surviving a hurricane. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Writer's Block

I'm not a writer at least not yet. And tonight as I try to think of what to post, my brain becomes flooded with concerns about Hurricane Florence and North Carolina, chickening out about what I want to post tomorrow that is really raw and real, and an honest to God migraine from congestion. Here's my fallback; if you've been reading along I often use music to speak when I don't have the words myself and I often use quotes as well to give me words when I have none to speak. (And I'm sorry if I don't have an author for some of them - these are quotes from the world and other writers not me).

"It's never easy, and it's never over, and it will be a fight renewed each morning; but IT'S POSSIBLE."

"Work on being in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much but is still standing."

"She's been through hell and came out an angel. You didn't break her, darling. You don't own that kind of power." - BMM Poetry

"So take a deep breath, Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again." - Frank Sinatra

"The very things that held you down are going to carry you up." - Dumbo

"Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact! And remember that life's a great balancing act!" - Dr. Seuss

This last one may be a little hard to hear and I hope you hear it with the care and love its intended.

And the truth is that's incredibly true. When I hear that quote, I hear Washington teaching, pleading with a young man who's struggling to find his place and home in this world to stay in the fight. To give it just one more day; just one more fight. To see all the good that is still there in the world for him; and for everyone. In that moment, Lin Manuel Miranda and Chris Jackson wrote and spoke a truth no one says aloud. That life is hard but that doesn't make the living any less worth it. Or the life you have any less worth sticking around for. Sometimes its those hard truths discovered in the darkness that show us just how strong we are. To stay in the fight. To ask for help. To know there is more for us in the light and in this life.

Everyone stay safe tonight and remember help is out there. And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Day Three

Anyone ever get angry, angry not in an aggressive way but instead in a way that you use it to help you make it through the day? Especially when you feel that darkness lurking in the shadows just waiting for you to get anxious, scared, sad, or weak. I have I used the anger I felt after I lost my dad, about my mom being sick, about my IBS, all of it to give me fuel to make it through the day. I was good at turning that anger into fuel but it never lasted and I always felt more exhausted at the end of the day. Then I eventually I remembered something my mama said; anger doesn't hurt anyone but you and it will eat you alive.

Now to find balance in my life, to do more than survive, I choose to not use the anger as fuel for the day or to help me through the hard times to keep the darkness away. I choose to focus on things that bring light and love into my life: my family, my friends, great TV shows, movies, music, hiking, good real food, and honest to goodness rest. Counselors call it self - care; I call it finally choosing me. Putting my life, health, and future first. To not let that darkness and my fear of it stop me from creating a good life for myself and having good even great days. To choose not anger but health; to not let bad coping strategies continue.

Sometimes its the hardest choice of the day (week, year) to let go of it all; I have experienced loss and pain and struggle so a little anger is normal. But I refuse to let the anger and the fear rule my life anymore. Its not what my dad would want for me but more importantly what I want for myself. I deserve better and I will find better. So some days its the easiest choice; knock me down ten times and I'll get up each time stronger and wiser for it.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week; keep fighting, keep getting up. One day, one hour, or one step at a time; doesn't matter which. Hope is out there; the light's still here. Reach out for help to any of the resources below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Tuesday Tune

So day two ... no lie y'all I'm so tired today. Emotionally deep in the bone just exhausted. I mean I wasn't a loaf all day. I went to work, got a little prepared for the upcoming weather (please everyone on the East Coast stay safe and listen to the authorities), handled some adult stuff and went to counseling. But I want to keep the conversation going and keep raising awareness for National Suicide Prevention Week and also bring mental health out of the shadows and secrets.

A little bit of my story: My dad passed away when I was nineteen after fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma off and on for eleven years. And after his death, I went through a kind of zombie/robot phase of I guess shock and grief and survival. But when I came back home at the end of the semester and he wasn't there; the loss got real, it got real real. I don't know if I like the phraseology of "fell into a depression" but there isn't another word for it: I was depressed. The silver lining I found was I knew I could talk to someone about it, I could ask my doctor, my family, and my counselor for help. In December of that year I sort of woke up; I know it sounds strange but that's what it felt like for me. One day it just seemed easier to breathe in a world without my dad. And a few days later I could think of parts of my life without my dad being here on Earth and not break down crying or close myself off in my room.

That's the ending of that particular moment in my life; a "depressive episode" is what my doctors and counselor called it. But the middle of it just plain sucked. I didn't want to do anything and anything I did do felt like it took so much more energy than it should. I was tired, cranky, and just done all the time. I lived between my earbuds going from work to class back to my dorm. And if it wasn't for my friends and family I probably wouldn't have left my dorm other than for classes. I never knew that darkness could be a feeling, a weight and anything more than the simple visual opposite of light. Until those moments, those days. And I don't know if I'm smart enough to even give it proper characterization. Today's Tuesday Tune is Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt "Found Tonight". Play it. Hear It. Listen to it on Repeat.

And what scares me most now that I've fought my way out of it; is winding up anywhere close to that kind of darkness again. My biggest fear, my boogie man, that haunts me if I ever let my anxiety or exhaustion go a little too long before I implement self-care strategies. (Things like a healthy diet, sunshine, exercise, singing, hanging out with family and friends, a sleep routine, working my way back into my faith.) Also its something I praise God for every day. I knew and was able to ask for help when the darkness invaded my life. I had an amazing family that stood there with me in the darkness. Friends that fought to remind me of all the good still left in the world for me. A counselor I got to see free-of-charge because of the college I went to; a school that knew to truly educate a student you have support them and educate them in all realms of their lives. Because I know that I'm the exception to the rule. Even in my darkness, where I felt most alone I still had glimpses of light; cracks in the darkness reaching in to save me. And a lot of people don't have those glimpses of light or are able to see or believe in them when they come through.

So as I wrap up day two (and stop saying "SO") please if you read this and that darkness is haunting you; you are not ALONE. There is LIGHT and LOVE still in the world for you. Reach out and ask for help. It won't be easy but I promise IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Because YOU ARE.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hope's Still Here - YOU MATTER!

Yesterday was the first day of National Suicide Prevention Week. 

1st Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. This blog is just a platform for me to tell my story in hopes (pun not intended) it helps myself and others heal. 2nd Disclaimer: I've never been suicidal but I have been down in the darkness or clinically what doctor's call depression. So no I don't know exactly what you may be feeling but I know some of it; too much more than I want to. I hope my story, even though it differs from yours, can bring you some hope and maybe healing.

When I was in the seventh grade, a very good family friend committed suicide. I was young but I was observant. I saw how much their choice in the darkness hurt my family and friends and left damage and scars that would take years to heal. I love my family and I am fiercely loyal and devoted to them. Like I've said in the past we were the Four Musketeers. So those memories of their grief, even in the deepest darkness that I've found myself in, stops me from sinking any darker without getting help. I will not cause my family anymore of the pain I saw in their grief for that family friend.

I'm older now and had to wade through my own depression so know I know a fraction of the pain that family friend was fighting. Sometimes that depression is so heavy, so dark, so all-consuming at times that its hard to find the little glimpses of light in everyday or even see it. I've been blessed with an amazing family, great doctors, a faith in something greater, and something in me that kicks in when I need extra toughness and grit to get through the day.

All this week, I'll write and post something everyday. My way of shining light into the darkness. To remind someone, anyone that they are not alone. That they are needed and wanted in this world. If you are struggling or scared or in a fight of your own, please reach out to someone: I've attached a list of resources below.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tuesday Tunes - "Love Wins" because it does and it will


So whether you believe in God, fate, or coincidences: Carrie Underwood releases her newest single "Love Wins" around the same time we as a nation lost two great lights: Senator John McCain and Aretha Franklin and at a time when we often find our differences more than our common ground in this country. We lost two giants but in those great Americans we saw examples of how we should live, discuss, and serve. Mrs. Franklin was concerned with the welfare of the people of Flint, MI in her final days and at her funeral a President, Christian Pastors, and an Islamic leader standing together to remember her. Isn't that the point: even in spite of our differences that we respect each other in those differences and come together to support each other during difficult times. At Senator McCain's funeral we saw a family stand in the face of immeasurable loss for their loved one on international television so bravely. We see people who have fought and debated come together to support this family, the county and serve as an example of how to grieve a hero's loss and try to foster more moments of debate, discussion, unity, and respect as he did.
"Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again." - Senator John McCain
Please remember that in all the bad, sorrowful, scary, and difficulty that can surround us in this life that LOVE WINS. It always will and it always does; just hold on. LOVE WINS!!!
"I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers; And I, I believe we're made to be here for each other; And we'll never fall if we walk hand in hand; Put a world that seems broken together again; Yeah I, I believe in the end LOVE WINS."  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"Cause I Gave You All I Got to Give; I Know that Ain't No Way To Live" - Tuesday Tune

I've been feeling really emotional, worn down, and just tired of working so hard when the world seems to spin on with no regard as to how hard it is to find the hope, joy, and light in each day. But I found a respite this weekend; binge-watching Wynonna Earp. 

This show is an amazing mix of Old West themes with independence and journey of a woman looking for purpose, redemption, and a second chance and fighting a demon-bringing curse. It's also a greater look at what it means to be apart of a family, a town, a legacy, and a human. The complexities and war often with yourself to find yourself and your purpose while staying loyal to your family, fighting the expectations and labels of others, the mistakes of your past, and fate. Seem impossible; NOPE and its AWESOME.

The actors and creators of Wynonna Earp show up in every episode being funny, strong, inspiring, flawed, complicated, and real. While I really don't see myself even close to the bada** that Wynonna or Melanie Scrofano but I do see so much of my journey in hers, minus the Revenants.

What's even cooler about the show that in a world where hate and trolls seem to be more common than solidarity and kindness; this show's fandom is the nicest fandom in the world. They reach out to each other to give support during dark times, assistance during disasters, and other amazing acts of kindness for simple reasons. It's the right thing to do and they share a common bond: a favorite show, community, and story that seeks to bring out truth of life itself. It's complicated, messy, and at times feels like you're at war with ghosts and demons from your past but when you choose to do good, to fight for justice and the light in the world; YOU WILL TRIUMPH. When we come together as a tribe and a team, goodness and light TRIUMPH over evil.

Thank you #Earpers, Melanie Scrofano, Beau Smith, Emily Andras, and everyone in the Wynonna Earp community for reminding and inspiring me to:
"Keep Going. Keep Fighting." 

- As always Hope's Still Here :)  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

With His Boots On - The Loss of Senator John McCain

You would probably not find any similarities between Meghan McCain and myself. Her life has been thrust into the spotlight continually; I am a girl who is used to hiding in the shadows. She is a Republican; and on the years I feel strongly enough to choose a party, I'm a Democrat. Our political views more than likely differ on almost every plain. But there is one horrible thing we have in common; we have lost a father to cancer. Gratefully I was able to process my grief and loss without the world watching and commenting. I don't know how you do that. Standing beside someone you love in the hardest fight of their lives over months and years is so horrible I don't have words for. But to do so gracefully and with such strength as she and her family have shown in the past year is truly breathtaking. So we may not agree on much or ever meet, but in this one thing we share a "reluctant camaraderie" a similarity no one chooses but is often thrust upon us.  Below is a post I wrote about Senator McCain, his loss, and the peculiar way some on social media are choosing to support the McCain family as they cope with such a devastating loss.  To the McCain Family and Friends, you may never see this but I hope you know you are not alone and we carry those we love forever in our hearts even when they are not by our sides. 
Senator John McCain died with his boots on; he and his family fought so hard and were so inspiring during this most recent fight. Senator McCain and his family have sacrificed and worked hard for our country, our country’s future, and to defend the freedoms our Founding Fathers fought to create. Two things struck me today: as someone who has lost a father to cancer I hope that the McCain family is surrounded by love and support during these difficult days. Secondly, I hurt for my country who lost an elder statesmen that wanted us all to rise to a higher level of discussion and respect in hopes to meet and surpass any challenges our nation might face. So to read about trolls and cowards using this courageous man’s death as a vehicle to spew hatred, discord, and meanness truly sickens me. 

Who are you, who are we to allow this or say nothing in response? Where is your compassion? This country lost a hero, and he was a hero no matter what side of the aisle you stand on. But more importantly, a family is mourning a loss that will change their lives. Dig deep, find your compassion, and send your thoughts and prayers to the McCain family and all those who are mourning a loss tonight.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

Do you ever feel like you make one step forward only to shoved backwards in the next breath? I hate it. I feel like I'm doing the work: my healthy food choices, trying to exercise more, being conscious of my finances, and being very aware of my stress level. All things that I have been encouraged to do to create a healthy balance to better maintain my IBS and GERD. I have been going to counseling, reading, writing in my journal and here, and living a life more intentionally which were moves I have been encouraged to do to better manage my anxiety. And yet every step feels like I'm walking uphill through knee - high muck; earning every moment of clarity, peace, and "normalcy". Even when I make those gains it feels like a couple days later I'm back where I started or I'm triggered into responding to a situation not at all how I want to but more emotionally, loudly, and over-sensitized. I fight to earn every moment of progress only to feel like I've lost it a few days later. This whole process is just exhausting. Anybody feel like that? This I tunnel back into myself until I feel a little bit stronger. Trying really hard to do that this time.

Maybe its more of a dance than a backslide says a very cautious optimistic me

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Apparently Crying Is Normal ... Who'd A Thunk

So I went to counseling this week (yes I go to counseling; it helps and there is nothing wrong with it) and the counselor reminded me of how important and "normal" it is to cry. She's not the only person to get excited when I stop bottling things up. I understand but I get so tired of everyone reminding me that I don't know what "normal" is. But other times, it's refreshing and nice to realize I don't have to be anything for anybody else anymore; I never have. So today's "Tuesday Tunes" is Carrie Underwood's CRY PRETTY because it's basically my life.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Revelation (a little delayed)

Sorry I've been a little distant lately. I've felt really raw as of late and it kind of all consumed me stopped me from feeling comfortable sharing. Honestly today is a day when being vulnerable and sharing with complete strangers is the last thing I want to do but isn't that the point I do this to continue difficult conversations to make them less difficult. To not feel so alone.

So on to the next revelation. Not long after my dad entered remission in the beginning of my seventh grade year, I developed a stomach bug that wouldn't go away. My mom mobilized and rang every one's bell. She, my dad, and my doctor joined forces to figure out why I kept missing school with stomach symptoms: nausea, severe pain, and all the over symptoms one gets during a stomach bug. I will not gross you out with all the details. It took months of blood tests, doctors appointments, x rays, sonograms, my first upper GI scan and CT scan, and one specialist appointment at UVA Medical Center for me to be diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Another year before my doctors at home with my mom's help found a medicine that would help me through my attacks and helped me make it through the school day. In high school, I developed Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)which can often coexist with IBS.
So a grand barrel of laughs, no one wants to be different in middle and high school so that's where my surviving and playacting began. I just tried to be invisible and make everyone as happy as I could or be whatever I thought they wanted me to be. I did this to protect me for every time my IBS made me different or caused problems at school or family events or wherever as it always did. Until recently I've been playacting at my life; more concerned about what my family, friends, coworkers, even strangers thought of me than how I felt about myself. I have functioned in survival mode, just make it through the day making everyone as content as I could, that I'm not even sure I know what living is. Or how to create a full, happy, and real life.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Step One to Courage

Okay I'm sort of brave today or maybe I'm just so tired I'm open to say more. I have been battling or learning to live with IBS and GERD for over fifteen years. As part of that struggle, especially in school and social issues, I became diagnosed with and experienced/experience anxiety for over ten years. These struggles are something I have never truly talked about freely. In some ways it was to protect me because I have been bullied by fellow students and grown adults because of something they didn't understand, never sought to understand, and/or never cared to show me any form of empathy. And honestly the other reason was I just focused on surviving each day and accomplishing whatever goal was before me: high school, college, career, etc. . But focusing surviving is getting exhausting. I'm tired of feeling like all I'm doing is managing or adapting for my digestive disorder or my anxiety; I want to feel a part of my own life. Living it not being a spectator on the sidelines. I spectate because it's safe or I won't be judged this way or its easier or it's all I've ever really known. And that's the truly scary part; I'm in my late twenties and only now waking up and building a real authentic life. And for some odd reason I'm sharing it with total strangers. But I'm tired of hiding, I'm tired of the sidelines.

So here's step one of what I am only assuming is a probably long and winding journey. But dammit if I'm going to go on this journey, I'm going to figure out how to live my own life, I'm going to talk about it, and it's going to be REAL.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Garnering Up the Courage: Tuesday Tune Edition

So last night I had two #authenticityjourney posts mainly because I was trying to remember and embody one but kept only feeling another. In other words I was having a very anxious night. I'm trying to muster up the courage and put the words together to share with you about my panic attacks and anxiety but it's hard. Hard or not isn't that way I started this journey in the first place. Anyway whenever I'm struggling I crank up the tunes and I did today and my IPhone did not disappoint. Below are some of the songs that helped me today: 
Over-Thinking Mix

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Forgetfulness, Black Holes, and Blank Spaces

My brain has an interesting way of coping with a few of the "sharp left turns" or difficult periods of my life: it goes blank. I am fully aware and live through the experience but then within a year I just forget it and every event or memory around it. The summer before my seventh grade year my dad had his first re-occurrence of his Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and this time I was more aware of what was happening to my family. And that summer I became even more aware as my dad was hospitalized for some form of infection and chemotherapy related effects.

So here come's the forgetfulness; my memories of that summer and next school year are very, very fuzzy. I have a very vague memory of walking in a dark corridor at a hospital one night. Another of watching from the hallway as my dad was in bed and my mom and someone talking in the room like five feet in front of me. It's like skipping scenes in a movie; scene one skip to scene ten skip to scene twenty. The next scene I recall is that winter when I caught the stomach bug that wouldn't go away. I remember missing a lot of school, my dad picking me up a lot, and lots of doctors. Lots and lots of doctors. (Trust me there's for to that story but for another time). But honestly its like there are blank spaces in my memory, huge chunks of time I can't remember. The next set of really clear memories comes from my sophomore year of high school. I have benchmarks or events in time that my family and friends have told me about that I can place on a timeline in my head but that's what it is. It's like a timeline from a history book but about my own life; anything before sophomore year of high school just gets super cloudy or nonexistent.

I've asked different doctors, counselors, and psychology professors if I should be worried about these memory lapses or if its just another thing that makes me different or weird. They all say around the same thing. Completely normal for someone who has experienced some periods of "trauma" throughout their life, especially if those events occurred during childhood. My mind's way of protecting me from what I didn't understand and wasn't supposed to. The blank spaces will fade as time goes on or when God decides I've healed enough to remember. Sometimes it's frustrating and annoying especially when my family starts reminiscing and I have nothing to add to the conversation. But other times I'm glad because who really wants to remember being sick a lot or being poked and prodded repeatedly by doctors when you're twelve years old.

Like I said I know a few things about life's sharp left turns and how they can set off a grenade in your life. I'm remembering a bit more lately in part due to time and in part due to going back to counseling. Figuring out how to live not just survive was harder than I thought and I needed some help; and I'm really blessed to have found a great counselor to help me learn how to build a life and heal some of those blank spaces. Most of the time I never notice those black holes until someone asks a question about that time period of life or starts reminiscing. Luckily I have great friends and family who give me plenty of great memories to cherish and hold on to when the darkness gets to loud or I get annoyed with the black holes. And when I do, I hope I remember that a lot of children and adults go through far worse things than I have, with and without all the support I've been blessed with, and I did survive and get the chance to start over. God Bless New Beginnings and even Black Holes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Revolution or Revelation? Tuesday Tunes

As I debated starting a blog about my struggles with learning the difference between living and surviving and whatever else that I may feel called to discuss; one phrase kept playing in my head. (True many lyrics pop into my head at any given time and Hamilton has amazing bars to jam along to). "You want a revolution? I want a revelation!" Revolution and Revelation. I started writing this blog because of these two words; because of this phrase and the power behind it.
"New ideas in the air" - "The Schuyler Sisters" Hamilton
Everywhere you look in the past few years you see people talking about a need for revolutionary ideas and what can be seen as revolutionary acts occurring over and over again. From the #TimesUp movement to #MarchForOurLives to countless others, people have been exercising their rights as Americans as stated in the Constitution. Revolutions and revolutionary ideas have their place and maybe are very much needed right now. I agree with many of those ideas but I keep being struck by the second part of this lyric. To me REVELATIONS carry more weight and last longer. For revolutionary ideas to prosper, spread, and create change, the people living with this conflict new and old ideas have to go through personal revelations about their own lives and values. And those kind of revelations are hard, scary, and often times postponed part of any revolution.

In Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler is right in discussing how when the Founding Fathers discuss independence for all men but forgot about independence for women. (Nor do they mention the independence of the entire population of people they treat as property) Angelica Schuyler is right; our Founding Fathers understood revolution but did not want to undergo the revelations that would become necessary for the United States to grow and prosper into the country it is today. For me the power and vulnerability of revelations brought me here: a public forum.
"Some men say that I'm intense or I'm insane; You want a revolution? I want a revelation! So listen to my declaration:" - "The Schuyler Sisters" Hamilton
Revelations incite me and terrify me all in the same moment. I write this blog to start a discussion about all things of life: good and bad, happy and sad, sunshiny or gloomy. We all seemed shocked and appalled when these gloomy moments are forced into the light of day by tragic moments. And we should be. But what incites me to ramble and write is I want a REVELATION in how we all see the one world. Or one person sees the world. Or how I see the world. A REVELATION that lasts longer as we accept that there are gloomy days to go with the sunny ones. And there is nothing wrong in admitting that. I want a REVELATION in each of us that owns the facts that life can be hard sometimes forcing many of us through battles to get back into the light. Sometimes those battles are daily or sometimes further apart. But having to go through those battles does not make me or anyone less than, different, or defective; there's your REVELATION. I have great days of sunshine and rainbows, nothing special days, and hard days when I feel like I have my own personal rain cloud. But the day I began accepting that all of that was normal, was what life is all about; I had my own REVOLUTION that only occurred after a long series of REVELATIONS. And that's what I hope this blog helps create, a REVELATION that life is about loving, learning, growing, and evolving through all of life's events. Maybe if we all started facing our own personal REVELATIONS, these REVOLUTIONARY ideas would become more permanent ideas. Maybe we would all give each other a little more slack and support as we each face our own battles separately and together as a nation.
"I'm looking for a mind at work." - "The Schuyler Sisters" Hamilton
And yet the REVELATIONS I yearn for can also terrify me occasionally into panic. Writing this blog scares me: Am I rambling? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care? And if they do what are they going to think about me? Maybe I should have also included that REVELATIONS often occur in large and small ways day in and day out.

Revelations and Revolutions are rather large ideas that also occur frequently in our daily lives. So is that the greater idea behind this lyric or this song that wouldn't leave me alone. That revolution or revelation; we're all being called to think, explore, and create positive change in ourselves, in our daily lives, in each other, and in the world at large.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Do you ever leave a happy movie feeling sad?

 Hi so I went to see “Mama Mia 2” today because I needed a pick-me-up. Seriously no better movie to see; dancing, singing, amazing actors and music; it’s a must see. But something surprised me as I was leaving the theater. I went to the movie to cheer me up and it did for the two hours but then I was a little sad. I guess wishing for the joy or magic of the movie to last a little longer. Maybe I wanted the magic of the movies to bleed into my own life. How everything could go wrong or crazy or weird and still come together at the end with smiles, laughter, love, singing, and dancing. Maybe I’m a romantic in me that even when the couple has drama to work through they still come together in the end? Or that no matter how crazy a life can be or how bad it may be that the sun will rise the next day and the hero or heroine comes out on top? I don’t know, maybe I’m babbling after a long week but that’s what struck me today. Hoping in the magic of movies rubbing off in real life.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Another Trip Around the Sun

I've made it another trip around the sun. I've always been a little weird about my birthday. I know as a kid I loved my birthdays and my mom has the embarrassing pictures to prove it. Me toothless grin, blonde nineties haircut surrounded by friends and family. I've always been weird about my birthday since middle school because I really don't know why. I never wanted a fuss to be made over me or be singled out. I've gotten better about that as of late usually a low-key dinner with my mom or movie or cookie cake around my birthday.
Around 10 or 11, my dad started this tradition that we would have crab legs on or around our birthday; especially since it always seemed to fall around our vacations. My dad had a rule about seafood being the best at the beach especially a North Carolina beach but then he was born and raised there. Important side note: I was born on my dad's 42nd or 43rd birthday (I've never been real sure on the days) and that was planned. The doctor asked when to have the c-section and my dad said "why not." My mama tells the story better. It was never a big deal and I never really understood it until that 10th or 11th birthday when he started the crab leg tradition. Well crab legs and mini-golf that was our thing; there are amazing courses and incredible seafood all along the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia coasts so no matter where we went it worked out.
After I lost my dad, it has been a little difficult for me (especially that first year) to celebrate my birthday; but that eased with time. Mainly because that was never my parents idea and definitely not my dads. My birthday was always my birthday about me being around and we celebrated my dad's a day later or earlier. At that first year my family really stepped up for me, nine-ish years ago, we ate crab legs, played a round of lower key mini-golf and hung out together on the beaches my dad loved. 
But this year I was wanted to and felt okay with celebrating on my birthday. I had plans: crab legs that night or weekend, mini-golf and a sno-cone. I had some confidence in saying this is my birthday; its my day. Last year was really rocky for me: I had made some needed but very hard decisions for myself for the first time I could really remember. But I was really broken and doubting every move I seemed to make. I don't even remember what we did last year for my birthday. But this year was supposed to be different. I'm a grown woman: proud of all the work she's done and is doing. All she is becoming.

Then the other shoe dropped. The one I feel is always hanging over my life and head. I had literally just climbed a mountain something I've always wanted to do and the next day I was crying in pain, not because of my sore muscles or feet, due to a tooth. You heard me a tooth! A few days before my birthday and a girl who has dealt with severe I.B.S. and G.E.R.D. (t.b.c. at a later date) is sidelined by a tooth. I have to admit this tooth was horrible; couldn't breathe without wanting to punch a wall. Luckily, I have an AMAZING dentist who heard me and lined me up with the right dental specialty to address the issue. Only the issue was bigger than one tooth, it was one up front that are apparently trickier than I originally thought: one day out of work and back to my plans. Nope, pain continued and I missed more work. (I hate missing work ... urgh ... again another t.b.c.). So, the specialist fixed the first problem tooth, found the second way back in my mouth, fixed it; put me on some antibiotics. I was set to be right as rain. Back to work and birthday plans still on. Yeah well no; woke up in tears again turns out all that time spent this week in the chair screwed up my shoulder.

So last year I spent my birthday moping around (okay to be fair; I was processing a lot of stuff; I'm allowed to be a little low on my birthday). Long story short this year I've been a little mopey yet again. Given pain makes it kind of hard to celebrate things even when they aren't complicated by grief, loss, and life's sharp left turns. So here's what I'm holding onto this year; here's what I got reminded of how this year is different from last year.

  1. I have an amazing mama to notice when things are not my normal and take care of me when I'm not able to do a great job of it myself. 
  2. An amazing sister, brother in law, and nephews to send me treats throughout the week to remind me of my birthday and that I'm loved. 
  3. A great dentist, specialist, tech, and front office staffs that listen to me and don't prejudge me because of my chronic disorders 
  4. Coworkers and superiors who are so understanding. 
  5. Sweet friends and family who reached out to me this week. 
  6. Little moments that reminded me how blessed I am. 

Birthdays are great, moments of celebration have their place. But I'm really grateful for how my parents always put the importance on the person, on our blessing of being together, being a family. So no matter how hard it has been the past few days or may be in next few days; I'm going to try to remember those moments and that lesson. People matter and they often find unexpected ways of reminding me that I matter to.