Sunday, July 18, 2021

Birthdays can be Complex

It’s my birthday but there’s a catch - it’s also my dad’s birthday. On the morning of his forty-third birthday, I came into this world and found a best friend. 

My mama will testify to this; my daddy was my best friend. We were a unit; large crowds, new people, or anything he was doing I was his shadow. 

After we lost him in 2009, it was hard to celebrate. I would celebrate early and just get through the day. Sometimes I would spend the day hiking, people watching, or watching TV shows or movies we used to watch. After a few years, it got easier to celebrate the day. And now I have a different understanding of the day. 

This day is special because it’s the day I got a best friend. A day I choose to celebrate not my birth but rather the nineteen years I had with a great man who loved his family and doted on his girls. 

He was my confidante, quiet protector, occasional partner in trouble, and role model. We would have long talks about music, movies, history, psychology, and life as I got older. 

He taught me the importance of choices, how you respond to a situation, and in being present when you’re with someone or any moment really. We would go play miniature golf and to fun eclectic shops whenever we went on trips with the family. He taught me the importance of being around your extended family and knowing where I come from.

He was a chaplain but rather than tell me how to be a Christian; he showed me everyday. He made sure that I understood the importance of my faith being exactly that my faith. How you choose to live your life each day and the relationships you build are how you best share God’s love. 

He was honest; when I asked why I was always involved in so many activities - to keep me out of trouble. And yes, he tried to protect me from the darkness of the world, even when that darkness was the cancer that plagued a lot of his life. 

We bonded on family ties to North Carolina that changed how we said certain words and our specific  taste in barbecue or sodas. We somehow always found a way to have crab legs on our birthday, play skee-ball in arcades, and get me a new stuffed animal from Build-A-Bear nearly every year until my sophomore year of high school. 

He would pretend I didn’t sneak downstairs to watch TV when my stomach issues kept me home from school. I would pretend he did everything my mama had asked him to do when I would check on him after school when he became home bound my last two years of high school.

So our birthday is no longer filled with sadness just a twinge; a slight ache of something missing. Our birthday is a commemoration of a life well lived, a great family, and a woman trying her best to do the same. 

It’s better. It’s easier in a way. 

And if I spend the day balled up in the corner; my daddy would “Gibbs-smack” me from heaven.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Water right at my head

I was talking with someone recently; they asked me how was I feeling? Before I knew it my automaton answer of “you know us we’re wired for fighting.” 

And it hit me again all of it. This fall will be twenty years of battling chronic gastrointestinal issues. Thirteen years since my dad passed due to cancer. Nine years of my mama juggling multiple autoimmune disorders. And I’m barely in my thirties.

I just want to scream “ENOUGH!” Can’t anyone see I’ve been treading water in rough seas for awhile now? How can I get a vacation from my own body? When do my emotional scars heal enough or I heal enough to have a life? When do I get to thrive instead of just battling to survive?

I know. Dreary right. Woe is me. Poor me. Sounds ridiculous. 

I get it. I thank God everyday for the blessings I have in life. A fierce mama. A family that loves me. Great friends who let me vent, totally understand, and help me up off the ground. And a the simple things that are often taken for granted like my daddy’s sweet tea. 

It’s just sometimes … the water is right at my head. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Power Ups

Living with a chronic illness is hard. Knowing you have potentially more life-altering appointments coming soon scares me sh**less. Flaring something horrible after a weekend of so many joyful moments is crappy. Feeling like you’re feeling too much is just stupid. 

I could go on but I won’t. I will not let these conditions run completely over my life. 

Today has been hard and flaring sucks. But you know what helps - all those things my body and mind try to stop me from doing or healing from. 

Power Up #1: Learning the importance of exploring from the best guides I know. 🐢

Power Up #2: Calming, uplifting, feel-good movies to distract myself with (and drift off to). 📺

Power Up #3: Finding a new community filled with laughter and a shared connection to be of service through support & love to those who should never feel invisible but often are. Awesome Community + United Cause = 💞🎄🚸

Power Up #4: Listening to three bada** chicks revel in their past journeys, together & apart, without letting the evils of this world taint it. HBM + SB + JL = 🙌🏻🏆💓

Power Up #5: Still being able to cherish nature while flaring because of awesome people who share their true mountain wildlife moments. 🦋

Power Up #6: Remembering every second of joy I had this weekend. It’ll sustain me; wouldn’t change a darn thing. Finding healing in the wonder, peace, and goodness in those moments. 🌹

So to anyone’s who’s struggling: Remember the power up moments. And quite often you’ll find that the smallest moments provide the greatest power.