It has been a super busy summer!
After returning home from my whirlwind trip around the world, I had just a couple weeks home with the kiddo before I whisked away yet again. This time I took my Little Man with me, a quick jaunt up to Virginia to film a PSA and family profile for the nonprofit I work with, the EODWF (I’ll share once it is finished). Little Man was so excited to take a plane trip! He has flown many times in his young life but all between the ages of 8 months and 2.5 years, so he doesn’t really remember much about it. He was so stoked to pack his suitcase and have his own seat next to the window where he could wear his own headphones and listen to his own music. Such a big boy.
He was so well-behaved and soaked in everything, talking nonstop with excited questions and observations. Such a big difference from his first flight, a few days shy of 9 months old, when he cried in his carseat and squirmed through the cutting of his very first two teeth on the the three longest flights of both our lives, the flights that took us to Dover, DE to greet his father’s body. Sitting next to him this time I couldn’t help but think of those flights, the little bits I can remember through the numb shock in which I rotely operated. What a stark difference: this happy little boy, so tall and smart, so excited to be filmed and talk about his daddy… Almost 5 years ago, sitting next to the crying baby with everything so very very bleak, I couldn’t have possibly pictured our lives now, how we have not only survived but thrived. And as we told our story that weekend and remembered our hero, I stopped to smile often. The Hubs would be so proud.
Then, just two days after returning home, with just enough time to unpack, do laundry, and toss it all back into our suitcases, Little Man and I took off yet again! This time, we snagged my mom, packed up the car, and hit the road south to one of our happy places: Indian Rocks Beach, FL. It has become a summer tradition for us to spend a couple weeks away together; napping and swimming and reading during the days, walking the beach with ice cream as we watch the sunset each night. It is a special time I feel so blessed to share with my mom and my child, our little trio of generations with a bond I’ll treasure forever. And we got a special treat this year — we got to witness a nest of sea turtle hatchlings make their way to ocean! So amazing.
And as if two whole weeks of beach and relaxing (and eating…the food, oh the food!) wasn’t excellent enough, I got an awesome surprise on one of our last days there. Two mamas from my Moms Group (a kickass group of ladies I’ve known since we all met online in 2008 when pregnant with our kiddos) happened to also be in the area, so we met up! It was so lovely to finally meet these ladies and their kiddos in person. We’ve all been there for each other for 6 years, starting with our struggles to get pregnant and lasting through births and deaths, first steps and potty training, pains and joys. It was truly icing on the cake (ice cream?) of the vacation.
But for everything there is a season, so now we’re back home and trying to switch gears, getting back into the daily routine as we prepare for the start of school. Starting Monday, Little Man is going to be a kindergartner! I can’t believe it. It doesn’t feel as shocking as it could, I suppose, since he will be continuing on at the same private school he has attended for preschool and pre-k the past two years. He will even have the same teacher he had last year, since it is Montessori school with combined classes where students work on individual levels. He is excited to return and show off his reading skills and maybe join the basketball team now that he’s a big kindergartner :)
I feel like I still have so much to catch up on but, as I said in one of my last entries, every time I sit myself down to write the words just don’t come out. I had a visit with my therapist on Tuesday, my first since May, and she said something that really resonated with me: Perhaps I just don’t need this outlet in the same way I used to. Not that I don’t want to write any more, or that I won’t continue to write…and not that I am ‘over’ my grief, or ‘over’ my need for this kind of outlet to process it…but perhaps that need isn’t quite the same anymore…and THAT’S OKAY. I’ve become so used to approaching writing solely from that angle, that now when I don’t have an immediate pain to analyze, I often find myself crippled by writer’s block. Like my writing won’t be as ‘raw’ or ‘real’ or ‘rich’ if it isn’t filled with pain…like my gift of words was only born out of my darkest moments.
I think I need to relearn how to write from joy. Maybe I need a fun project, something to write about that is pure fluff to shake the dust out of my head and get my groove back. Maybe I need a new blog, or a new design, or a new planner to write down ideas. Or maybe, I just need to shut up and stop expecting things of myself. I’m sure it’s easier than I’m making it: don’t write if I don’t feel like it, write when I do. Kinda like right now. :)
The night air was chilly, my skin prickling against the breeze as I wrapped my thin sweater a little closer. The damp earth beneath the blanket we were perched on was beginning to soak into my bones, but I didn’t feel the cold. I leaned back and stretched my legs out in front of me, propping myself up on one hand behind me while the other brought my glass of red wine to my lips. I lifted my face to the sky and closed my eyes, savoring the moment.
Reality check. You are sitting on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. You’ve just uttered those three treasured words to the most amazing man. You’ve found it, you’re ‘there’. Finally. This is real life. Let yourself have this. You really are the same woman whose heart was surely broken beyond repair just a few short years ago, and this really is the same guy you knew back then who cried tears of pain over the same loss. I don’t know how we missed each other all this time, or how I’m worthy of this, but this is the moment. This is real. This is it.
Cheers of excitement suddenly burst all around, cutting through my brief reverie. I opened my eyes.
In front of me, through the rustling tree branches that framed our little place, the Eiffel Tower was sparkling. Thousands of twinkling lights glimmered and shone from the edges of the massive structure, dancing in the midnight light as if giggling with the knowledge of magical things not yet revealed.
I turned to my left and found him smiling at me.
Stretched out in a nearly identical pose, he radiated the same happiness and love I was feeling through that grin I loved, the one that reached all the way to his eyes. I stared for a few seconds, memorizing him. I never wanted to forget the way he looked, the way I felt, the place we shared in that perfect moment. I hoped the way I was feeling was just as transparent.
Wordlessly, I leaned in with a whisper of a kiss.
My Chapter Two, my unexpected blessing I’m so thankful for.
He bought me another sparkle.
This post is a response to the weekly Writer’s Workshop over at Mama’s Losin’ It!. Learn more about the ‘pretty much famous’ weekly prompts here. This week I chose: “Share a top favorite photo from June, and give us the back story.”
It’s been 10 days since I returned home from the most amazing journey. It’s taken me this long to put together my thoughts enough to begin writing about it, and honestly as soon as I just started typing I realized I’m not even sure I quite have the words yet.
So, here’s a little infographic for you while I get my crap together. I’ll be back soon with a full recap and pictures!
It’s been crickets around here for so long, I know.
The past few months I just haven’t been in a place where I’ve needed or wanted to write. In fact, I’ve grown rather disenchanted with the blog, it’s therapeutic value rapidly losing necessity as I grow and progress.
However! Writing will always, always, always have a place in my life, and eventually I want to continue blogging in some sort of form. I’ve just needed to figure out what form and direction that’s going to take in my future. I’m not any closer to knowing that, and I figure I won’t know until inspiration hits me randomly one day like it always does. But something that someone amazing told me earlier this week reminded me how valuable this place is, and sparked an urge to poke my head in here. So here I am.
I realize I’ve left a lot of loose ends dangling on various things, so let’s see how quickly I can wrap some of those things up and give an update!
Helping Yourself Heal. I started this blog series back in January and then it tapered off somewhere around March. A total fail on my part guys, I’m sorry. :( I just stopped feeling like the right person to give advice when I was feeling so lackluster about writing, you know? But I’d love to pick this back up soon if there is still interest! I’m stronger than ever and if there are any nuggets of wisdom I’ve unearthed over the past few months, I’d love to share them. So, please let me know if you’d like to see me continue this series.
Strands of Hope Project and Warriors documentary. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the project and our progress. I know I alluded to some of the difficulties I was having with it last fall, and shortly after that post, some other changes occurred with other people involved in the project. This led to the whole thing being put on hold for a while, and honestly I felt (and still feel) like that was the exact right thing to do. In my opinion, the second that something starts feeling less passionate and becomes a cloudy question, the right thing to do for everyone involved is to be completely honest about that and take a step back until you know for certain how you much you are willing to commit to it. I am not too proud to admit failure, or confusion, or a false start. I’m not saying the project was or is any of those things right now, but the point is I don’t know what it is right now. So the best thing to do was to release it. If it’s meant to be, it will come back.
Counseling. Deciding to finally begin therapy last fall was a huge step for me. I was burnt out in more ways than one, and trying to be strong for everyone for so long had finally taken it’s toll on me. I knew I was at a turning point and I needed to take a major step. Turns out, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve been going regularly since last September, and just having that safe place to purge, to confront things I’d bottled up, to admit to my faults and hopes and thoughts and failings out loud and force myself to acknowledge the patterns and cycles I’d fallen into, has made all the difference in the world. God certainly guided my path to the exact right person for me, and she has been absolutely instrumental in helping me see things differently and facilitate the major progress I’ve made since. I now feel stronger than I ever have in my entire life. I’ve become self-aware in ways I didn’t know I could, learned so much about how to be understanding and compassionate and forgiving with myself, and finally discovered a place where I am at peace with who I am, what I’ve been through, and where I am going. And in turn, the love and life I am capable of giving has grown exponentially. I am so excited about this new person I’ve found and the new places I am going. In the last month or two we’ve slowed way down, but I’ll probably continue for a while. Growth is a never-ending process.
School. I finally did it, ya’ll. I graduated!! After two straight years of school, semester after semester of intense 6-credit seminars with no breaks or summers off, I finally completed my last course this past March. And on March 30, my degree was conferred. I am now the proud owner of three awesome little letters – MBA. I’ll admit, I had a pretty bad case of senioritis toward the end and just didn’t care much anymore. It’s a wonder I ended up with a B in that last class, haha. The first month or so after I was finished I relished in the lack of homework and empty days. But now…well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t kinda miss it. I guess I love the end-goal of schooling, the continuous quest for knowledge, the ongoing series of tasks. I’m somewhat contemplating (somewhat) going back for yet another degree (I know I know!). But somewhere along the way I realized that while I have a natural ability for business, I don’t necessarily want to pursue it in a conventional way. I’m yearning for the arts, and I’d love to find a way to combine the two. Maybe a graphic design certificate is in my future…or art school. We’ll see!
Wedding Bells. Love is in the air! This past March I had the pleasure of helping my friend G orchestrate his marriage proposal to my best friend, A. It was such a special time and I’m so excited for both of them! Now I also have honor of being A’s maid of honor, so the past few months have already been filled with plenty of wine-fueled wedding planning evenings. Seriously, this is going to be the most awesome and unique wedding ever. Like really, ever. I also took their engagement photos recently in a fun-filled, hilarious photo shoot. Lots of fun times are ahead for this awesome couple and I feel so lucky to get to witness all of it!
Q & A. Remember way back when I decided to run a Question and Answer feature? Well, I received several questions and never followed up with any answers! Again, FAIL. Womp womp. :( So, before I post that Q&A post, I thought I’d put the call out again. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered — any questions about anything, be it grief-related, life in general, parenting, random curiosities, or what I ate for breakfast — go here and ask away! All questions are anonymous, I won’t know who asked them, and I’ll post all answers up in a separate post soon. I’d really love to get some more questions to answer, so humor me please! It’s fun, play along. :)
The Hubs’ 30th Birthday. This past March marked what would have been The Hubs’ 30th birthday. It affected me in so many ways, ways I wasn’t really expecting. I thought I was in an okay place, then suddenly in the weeks prior to his birthday I found myself experiencing emotions I hadn’t before (namely, anger). Channeling these emotions into something good made a huge difference for me. In his honor, I organized an online fundraiser to benefit the EODWF, the organization I volunteer with that honors EOD warriors. We ended up raising over $3600 in The Hubs’ name — absolutely blew me away. It was amazing to see so many people remembering him, honoring him, and helping me give back to the organization that helped our family so much right after our loss. Knowing that we could directly help families who are now experiencing what we did made my heart feel a little better about not getting to tease The Hubs’ about turning 30 before me. ;)
My 30th Birthday. Just 10 days later, I turned 30 myself. Wanna know something funny about me? I’ve only had a ‘proper’ birthday party twice in my life — when I turned 8 and had a Little Mermaid-themed shindig in my backyard with all my cousins, and when I turned 13 and my Mom allowed me to have a sleepover with a few friends from school. I haven’t needed or really wanted a party since then, at least not enough to plan one myself and never had anyone plan one for me. I always thought that once I reached 30, I would make up for ‘lost time’ and have a huge thing. But once it got here…I didn’t want to do anything. And my 30th turned out, well, pretty perfect. I spent the day alone while the kiddo was at school, talked to someone pretty special, went to a movie alone and enjoyed the quiet, and then enjoyed dinner and frozen yogurt with my sister, BIL, and kiddo. Although it may not have been what I would have pictured years ago, so many beautiful souls thought of me, I received some beautiful flowers from someone who means a lot to me, and I spent the day with my amazing kiddo. Who could ask for more?
Little Man is a Kindergartner! Can you believe it? This kid, this same little kid, this same one I freaked out about starting preschool, is now a big ole’ Kinder kid. In a way, it feels like he’s been my little sidekick forever. In other ways, it feels like I was just pregnant with him an experiencing all the trials and difficulties of his first few days. It’s so amazing to see him grow and blossom every day, and I feel so blessed to his Mommy and get to witness milestones like these. The next year is going to be filled with so much wonder, and I am so excited for him….and a little scared, haha. (But what Mama isn’t??)
TRAVELS! - My wanderlust is being satiated. Remember this post? Well, the whole thing has only gotten more and MORE beautiful since then. I have no words for it right now, really. It deserves it’s own post, which will come soon… because I am leaving in a WEEK. I am beyond stoked, for where I am going and what I am doing…but, now, mostly for who I am doing it with. Life can be absolutely amazing. God knows what you need and when you need it, and He only brings it to you in HIS time. I didn’t ask for it, but good Lord if I’ve not been blessed with something amazing. The next seven days are gonna be the longest ever…but then I hope it slows waaaaay down for two weeks. <3
So, lots going on in the last few months, right? The common theme of all of this is synchronicity. Sometimes the answers are right in front of your face, but you’re not meant to see them until God has finished the necessary preparations. But when it is all finally revealed, you know right away what you’ve been missing all along and why you’ve been handed certain things. I feel so grateful every day for both the trials and gifts God had sent my way, and for the first time in SO long, I am absolutely and completely excited for the future. I just know it’s going to be so great. <3
I’ll be back soon with some more trip prep and babble, I can’t believe how close it is finally! Time can speed up over the next week, but then it needs to sloooow down to a crawl. I want to savor every minute of this.
Oh, passport. Over the past few years, you’ve given me such sad eyes.
One of my favorite things in the world is traveling. For me, there is nothing quite like planning a trip: researching the possibilities, fitting together the puzzle pieces of an itinerary, and feeling the anticipation as you speed down the road or take off the runway. As much as I love the preparation, the doing is so much more. Breathing in new air, seeing new sights, touching new things. I crave that, and enjoy and appreciate those moments more than I can ever describe. I am filled with wanderlust, always have been and always will be. So the sight of my poor passport, stamped only four times and expired in 2009, made my heart sad.
Man, I’ll tell ya. Life always knows what you need when you need it.
What do I need right now? Something to stretch my heart. Something to keep this growth going, to keep me tapping into this awesome new person I’m discovering, something to show me more of me. Adventure, joy, wonder. But within the confines of understanding and encouragement. An environment that recognizes me, and allows me to mirror that back in connection, support, and love.
That’s quite the mix to desire, I know. But mysterious ways abound, and it looks like I’m going to get all of that at once. It’s trip time, baby.
I was surprised with an awesome opportunity a couple of days ago. To some, this might not be such a big deal. “Oh, just a trip”, they might say. But for me, it’s so much more. Something this grand usually elicits an “oh man, that’s awesome, but I couldn’t” response. I tend to default to the ‘should’s’ (or rather the ‘shouldn’ts’) and dismiss it before I really consider it. This time, however, I shushed myself. I considered…and kept considering. And tonight, I’ve decided to go for it.
So, in a couple of months I’ll be taking off on an epic adventure with a great friend. We’re going to Paris, London, Dubai, and Nairobi in a whirlwind two weeks of fun. It’s such a motley choice of destinations, and I love that. I’ll be stepping foot in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa all in one trip. As someone who has only traveled internationally once (to live in Asia), my mind is already blown. Visions of macarons, the Moulin Rouge, hostels, village markets, epic sunsets, Land Rovers, the Big 5, huge beers, and lots of excellent conversations are dancing in my head…
I need this. And I’m so grateful. To my friend for his awesomeness, to my Mom for helping my heart by keeping my kiddo, to The Hubs for things I won’t list here, to life for timely opportunities, to myself for the work I’ve done to get to this place where I’ll seize opportunities, to God for his plans. And to my poor sad passport. I sent him off on his own adventure today. And in 4-6 weeks, he’ll be back, shiny and new and ready to be stamped again.
As long as you are breathing, there is hope….nothing is ever the end, and you never know what adventure is around the bend.
This post is a response to the weekly Writer’s Workshop over at Mama’s Losin’ It!. Learn more about the ‘pretty much famous’ weekly prompts here. This week I chose: “A blog post inspired by the word: passport.”
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