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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Laying Low" Temporarily

So my "Tuesday Tune" today was supposed to be this post I really want to write about a song from Hamilton but it'll have to wait. I just had a root canal and I'm feeling more than a little rundown and just plain "ow". 
So I'm taking my cue from Danielle Bradbery: "Tonight I'm Laying Low" 

I'll be back shortly with a Hamilton Tuesday Tune as promised and more to my story.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Living List"

I met up with a friend this week and was so encouraged by our visit and her friendship. While the details of our stories are different, the feelings, how we survived, and the costs of that survival are very similar. I learned a new idea from her I wanted to share; she calls it her "living list". This list is different from a bucket list because each time she accomplishes something on it, she adds another. I've adopted the idea as well. I'm creating a list of things and experiences I never thought I could do or was appropriate for me to do or whatever silly reason I've given myself to not do something. (Now I'm not advocating anything illegal or hazardous to your health.) Ideas have been going zip-lining even if you have a fear of heights or hiking a mountain even if you never thought you could. So I went hiking up Sharp Top and got to see amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains; but more importantly I MADE IT TO THE TOP. I can do hard things, things that scare me, things that push me, I am capable, and I can be successful. I don't know exactly know when I let fear rule my life; I guess it snuck up on me. But I'm starting now: trying new things, things that scare me, and figuring what I like and don't like. And yes I feel stupid at times for not having these things figured out by now but each day is a new day and a fresh start; so I'm glad I'm starting now.

Great Coffee Date With Friend: ✓                                                                     "Living List" started: ✓ 

Great View of The Blue Ridge Mountains: ✔

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Four Musketeers

I bet you're wondering why I've been alluding to; what could this girl possibly know about life's ups and downs. And in some ways you'd be right. My parents were happily married for almost 31 years, I went to good schools, and I was even raised on a cul-de-sac. Two working parents happily married with two daughters living in a quiet neighborhood; it was the four of us against the world. I played sports, learned musical instruments, went to church every time the door were open practically. Pretty idyllic right sounds like something out of a country song. Things changed when I was 8, my dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Between 1997 and 2009, my father battled Non- Hodgkin's Lymphoma three times as single instances and chronic Non - Hodgkin's Lymphoma for about four years.

Being 8, my parents protected me from a lot and I think my sister did too. (I want to be clear: I am only talking about my perspectives, experiences, and story. Not my mom's or my sister's or anyone else's. That's their story to tell to whom they choose. This is how things happened to the best of my recollection and affected me.) I have maybe two memories from that time: a family friend bringing us baked ziti for dinner one night and a peculiar memory of watching my dad stumble between his bedroom and the bathroom. It's like he was having trouble walking or something. He was probably tired after chemotherapy. No matter how much they protected me I did know one thing: something big and bad was coming for my family. That's what I felt. I was never scared of the boogeyman or the monster under the bed as a kid but I was scared of this thing I didn't understand that made things different somehow. My dad beat the cancer and we had another normal four years and then he had the cancer came back. And this time I had more of an idea of what was going on; it wasn't good and something was threatening to take my daddy away from me. I was scared and the world wasn't always so sunny anymore. So this was the first *sharp left turn* that happens in life. When I was finishing up sixth grade and summer was starting, my dad's cancer came back and now I was more aware of what was going on. Things only got scarier for me when my dad was hospitalized that summer for a particularly bad form of pneumonia. He fought his way back but for a little kid who was watching and listening; I had no idea how to make sense what was happening and all I wanted was for things to go back to normal. But I think I knew then that things would never be exactly "normal" again.

So here's my first honest recollection of life's sharp left turns. Part of the reason for this blog is to shine a light on the topics no one talks about and somehow become secrets. Life is full of good and bad and focusing only on the good doesn't mean that the bad didn't happen or the other way around. I'm who I am today is a result of sharp left turns and blessings; but I have to own both parts of myself to really be me. And maybe in sharing parts of my story helps me do that and maybe I'll find out I'm not so different from all of you out there. And maybe we aren't so alone.

I'm sure I'll tell you more of my story but I hope this was a good place to start.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday Tunes

After I lost my dad in Spring of 2009, I went right back to school mainly because I didn't know what else to do. One of the main reasons I survived was living in the music coming out of my earbuds; I wore them all the time. When I was going to class, work, studying, eating; I always had something playing. So today as I've been debating what to write for today's blog and feeling kind of down in the dumps; one particular song popped up on my shuffle today: Francesca Battistelli "The Break Up Song". I needed to here it today not for a blog topic but rather because I felt really run down and nervous about this whole authenticity journey. 
"Fear, you don't own me,
There ain't no room in this story,
And I ain't got time for you,
Telling me what I'm not,
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am,
I know I'm strong,
And I am free,
Got my own identity,
So fear, you will never be welcome here." - Francesca Battistelli, "The Break Up Song"
I'm reciting this in my head tonight reminding that music is often there when we're too tired to find the words ourselves. And to help us remember that we are strong and are capable of doing so many things. 

So if you're having a little trouble today, press shuffle on your music and find some inspiration.

"Is there anybody out there just like?
Anybody needing fear to leave?
If you don't know how to say it,
Sing along with me."

(Next Tuesday Tunes: Hamilton Inspiration) 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Courage or Foolish?

Okay I'm going to own this; I'm nervous. Terrified and fearing what the world will make of my creating this blog and now starting a website. My goal is just to create a platform to share my story so other's who can identify with my story (which is coming soon) and encourage others to be honest and open with their struggles. I believe in sharing my story I'll find out I'm not so alone either. I can already here people whispering and having concerns over my openness. I'm working on not listening to that even when it comes from me. My website serves as a conduit to this blog and a view at my authenticity journey from Instagram. Here goes nothing: Hope's Still Here! And please be kind.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Journeys, Legacies, and July 4th

On this July 4th, I am reminded that everyone is on a journey.

In the summer of 1776, Our founders had to make a lot of hard decisions in hopes that they were creating a better, more just society. The thing is I think they knew creating that idea and the country was a journey; they were only seeing the beginning of where it might lead. I believe they knew struggles and celebrations would occur; things would arise and be called a part of the USA that they never would have imagined. 

They also knew mistakes would be made, even some of their own doing, and that we would all as a country have to decide how repair the wounds of those mistakes while still moving our country forward toward greater changes that serve and bless everyone. Our founders trusted in the journey, in each other, in the future they would never see; not only trusted but heralded it with all its advantages and shortcomings. So my wish for myself the July 4th is to learn from their lives and our history and to be grateful for all the work, dedication, and faith they had in a future and people they would never see. I am a flower in the "garden they never got to see"; I strive to be grateful, inspired, and strengthened by the knowledge that they along with so many others have paid for me.