Posted in accepting, grief, inspiration, living forward, widow

To be or to not just be?

This past week a question was proposed to me that has had my mind spinning ever since.  I have thought and thought about the answer and how it pertains to my life and I am unhappy to say I am struggling with this one.  The question was how does livingheart for the moment and finding my path correlate?  How can you live in the moment and still seek a path and follow a plan?  Since I can’t think this one through, please bear with me as I try to write my way through.  Sometimes this works better for me.

Ever since Pat died…actually ever since Pat got sick, I have had a new perspective on life.  My focus and understanding of the world has changed.  I understand we only have a limited amount of time on this earth and I want to do with that time all that I can do.  I don’t want to just sit and wait for time to pass me by with some days, or in ten years, or when I retire.  I want to live and feel and be…NOW.  I want to enjoy every second and do what I want to do during the time I have.  I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or if it will even come.  I am trying to follow my heart and make decisions on what feels right for me and my boys.  Some of the decisions may seem a bit crazy, but I don’t want to be stuck in five, or ten years from now thinking I wish I would have.  So I am trying to live for the moment and just be.

BUT…I am also searching for a new path; a new direction; a new purpose in life.  Can I have both?  I think I can.  Yes, I want to be in the moment and live it how I want to live it, but I am human and I want more.  I want to feel a purpose.  I want to know that I have meaning.  This could be to someone, or something.  I want to share my life and build it with hopes and dreams for the future, but that doesn’t mean I have to wait to try to live those hopes and dreams.  I think my idea of living in the moment with a path for the future means that I want to do all that I want to do now….not someday.  If I want to write a book, then I want to do it now, not when the kids are older.  If I want to travel and see the world, then  I want to do it now,not when I have more money or I am more settled…that may never happen.  There is never enough.   If I want to spend time with someone, I want to do it now….not in ten years.  I don’t want my life to be a destination, an end game or the plan for the future.  I want it to be my life that I am living.  Not I am living to have someday.

I get I can’t do it all or have it all today, right this moment.  But I can do with my time all that I want to do.  I don’t need to spend my time wasting away on wishes or some days.  I know there is no guarantee for tomorrow, but I do have dreams and I see a path before me.  I just want to live along the path and not just ride the escalator of life until I get to the point where it “makes sense” to start living the life I want to live.  I think I can do both of living in the moment while setting out on a new path.  The point is I want to live and I think that is what is most important here.  Whether or not I decide to wait ten years before I do that, or start right this minute is up to me.  I have to decide what this means and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of that decision.  I think the beginning of  my journey on this so-called new path of mine was the choice to continue to live forward.  After that I can either decide to truly live or continue to wait in the waiting room for life to come my way.  I don’t know about you, but I want to get out there and do it now.  I could wait for something better, or a better time, or a better situation to make others happy, but perhaps all that really is telling me is that isn’t what is best for me.  Because what is best for me is what makes me happy, what makes me a better mom to my boys and what will continue to lead me down the path of my life.  I don’t want to find happiness….I want to live in it.  There it is.  That makes sense to me.

So I guess that’s my answer.

 

Posted in grief, inspiration, motivation, widow

The blank pages in between

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Here I am at another new beginning.  After all I’ve been through in the past couple of years, my perspective on life has changed.  I truly understand the meaning that tomorrow is not guaranteed.  This journey I have been on has brought me so many unanswered questions.  I have asked why? and how could this be happening? more times than I would like to admit.  I have no answers for these questions.  I don’t know why Pat had to die, or why the house had to be destroyed and rebuilt, or why I am now a widowed single mother of three young boys.  I don’t think I did anything to deserve these challenges, but I think there is a reason for all of it.  I don’t believe in coincidences, so there must be lessons to be learned or opportunities to embrace in order to live my life.

My life now…there is one thing I know for sure about this topic…I don’t want any regrets.  I don’t want to spend my days doing things that do not fulfill me or lead me to happiness and peace.  I have spent my past 42 years saying “someday”.  Someday I want to write a book; someday I want to be a part of something bigger than me; someday I want to travel the world, go to Paris; someday I will find peace and be.  Someday is not something I am promised.  I have to go out and make that someday today.  That is where I find myself at this moment.

I have been teaching for the past 5 years.  I love my girls more than anything.  I adore my co-workers and completely believe in the mission of the school I have been working, but I am not passionate about teaching.  It has never been my love in life.  It was a means to the end I really wanted.  I have continued teaching because it supports my family and it’s where my experience lies and basically, it is who I am.  But it’s not anymore.

I have jumped.  I took the leap and quit the job.  I am closing that chapter of my life and starting a new one.  I am unsure about what that chapter is going to be about, but I am ready to start writing it.   I am tired of thinking of someday.  I want that someday to be today.  If I fail, I fail.  But there will be no regrets.  Don’t get me wrong…I am scared shitless with this, but it’s something I have to do.  This past year without Pat has been such a time of growth and reflection for me.  I have continuously reevaluated who I am and what I want.  The answer is pretty simple.  I am a completely different person than I once was, that is for sure.  I see things differently, I love differently and what I want is different.  I don’t care about the little things, and honestly some of the medium size things.  I am much more simple with the things that I want…peace, love and happiness.  That is what I am searching for.

I recently took a college course on the study of the Bible.  During this course we studied the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It brought me a sense of peace and understanding to many things.  What I found most interesting about the Bible was the two blank pages that fall directly between the Old and New Testament.  There is nothing there, but so much took place during the time in between.  This is how I see my place in the world right now.  My old life has ended…the chapter has ended, the lessons learned, the love felt, the gifts given.  But the next chapter is unknown and unwritten.  I am living on those two blank pages.  I am ready to find out what is next for me, but I am highly aware that these blank pages may last for some time and  a lot of work will need to be done on those pages.  But this is where I am.  In between the old and the new.  I am not the poor widow anymore who needs to be coddled and taken care of, but I am not yet the butterfly bursting out of the cocoon into new life.  I am somewhere in the middle of the two.  And I am okay with that.  At least that’s what I need to keep telling myself in order to keep my focus.

I want to start anew.  Everything is new in the past year…almost every aspect of my life has changed.  Now I am ready to start anew with my career.   I don’t want to settle and I don’t want to do something just to do it.  I want to find my path in life and stick on it.  What I am finding about this process is that there may not be something I want out there.  I may have to make my own way.  And again, I am okay with that….scared, but okay.  Deep down inside I know I will figure it out and find my way.  I don’t expect anything over night and I don’t think it’s going to be easy.  But the one thing I know is that it is going to be on my terms.  If I screw this up, I did it.  I can’t blame someone else.  And if I fail along the way, that’s okay too.  At least I took the jump, took the chance and gave it my best try.  No regrets and no looking back.

Embrace the moments you are given.  Do with them what you can.  Appreciate what you have.  Love those around you.  Don’t forget to say I love you, I’m sorry and I forgive you.  Tomorrow is  not guaranteed.  Make today what it is…a new beginning; another chance to get it right.  Don’t worry about what may or may not come tomorrow.  Focus on what matters today and do what you love.  Live from your heart and be open to whatever comes your way.  With this focus and this determination, I know I will find my way.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

And here we go again

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The pain of watching a loved one suffer is indescribable.  Sitting by helpless, not being able to do anything to ease their pain or protect them is heart crushing.  I sat by for five months as my husband suffered through chemotherapy; simply watching him twist and turn in pain, toss and turn in his sleep and lose his hair.  I couldn’t do anything.  I tried to do what I could.  Take care of the kids, the house, the necessities of day-to-day living.  I wanted to give him everything I had to offer during this time.  When the news of remission came to us late December we were overjoyed with relief and joy.  We were ready to close that chapter and begin a new one together.  We didn’t know where we were headed, but we were doing it together.

And now this.  Little by little, tiredness has returned.  An overall feeling of ickiness.  Is it the effects of the chemotherapy leaving his body?  Is he sick from the flu or another bug that’s going around?  Then a headache that won’t go away.  His eye is killing him and the pain in his head is unrelenting.  He takes what he can until he feels we need to figure out what is going on and get some medicine to take away the pain.  Off to the hospital.

So here we go again.  He’s laying there in pain; he can’t handle the light, or sound, or even smells.  I know it’s not about me AT ALL, but I can’t help but feeling I am causing him more pain.  That makes it even harder.  Now I am not only watching him suffer, but my noise and smells are causing more.  The doctors are busy doing their thing trying to figure out what is causing the pain and giving him meds, but it still isn’t helping.  I just need strength to go through this again.  I’m trying to go with the wait and see attitude…I’m not going to get upset because we don’t know anything yet. But the mind wanders, worries brew and the heart aches…

Posted in Uncategorized

Just go with it

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Sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day so I could get more done.  But then I realize what would I honestly do with that time?  Would I accomplish more, or simply waste more time?  I don’t have the answer to that.  I just wish there wasn’t so much that I want to do everyday.  I start off my day with a handy-dandy to do list and instead of happily crossing things off, the list tends to grow as the day goes along.  I feel like I have no control over what is happening around me, let alone to me.  Its like the waves of life come crashing in at the same time…always at the same time, and I can feel them pulling me under as I fight to keep my head above the water.  The more you fight, the worse it tends to get.  I have to remind myself to take a deep breath before I lose it all and just go with it…Ride the waves and try to enjoy the ride.  Sometimes a little splash, or a quick dunk in an ocean of the unknown can be refreshing and rewarding.  Not only can it make you feel appreciation for the security of the normal routine of life, but it can help you build strength, character and a new perspective on the world around you.

Yeah that sounds so easy…right?  Hell no.  When the waves start to break and you are sitting in the middle of it all, who thinks about all that they will learn from this?  Nobody that’s who. Well at least I know I don’t realize it until way later.  I am trying to focus on the here and now and enjoy where I am at and enjoy what I am doing.  If I am constantly worrying about what is next, I am always falling behind.  This is true with my to do lists.  They never end.  And I don’t enjoy any of it.

I always tell my girls at school that it’s not about the final answer, but it’s about the process of getting to it.  I need to listen to that in relation to my life.  I’m sure you’ve heard this one as well…Lifes not a destination, it’s a journey.  Well I want to start that journey, better yet I am ready to realize the journey I have been on for the past 39+ years.  Because haven’t we all been on a journey since the moment we were born.  It’s only when we realize it that we can start enjoying the sights along the way.  The view from my window is looking good!

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Letting Go…

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Letting go is difficult for all of us.  We are so comfortable in what we have and what we do everyday.  Change sucks.  Who wants to make a change and take a risk when you have absolutely no idea where it is going to lead you.  You know where your going tomorrow, if you don’t make any change.  Of course you can’t map out every second of your day…things can change on a dime.  But that is out of your control.  That is the unexpected crap of life.  I am talking about choosing to make a change when you are comfortable in your day-to-day because you  know you should.  There comes a time when we know our story has come to an end.  This chapter, is better, is closing and a new one needs to begin.  It could be as simple as a haircut…as in my case recently, or leaving your job, your hometown, your marriage.  You know that feeling and only you know it.  People may try to talk you out of it and say your crazy for making this drastic scary change, but that is their fear.  That is them being afraid of the unknown.  You know what you need to do, even though you may not know where it is going to take you.  I believe in being somewhere for a reason and having people in your life for reason…and sometimes the reason is to take you somewhere you have never been.  Sometimes it is to take the next step and enter into the new chapter of your life.  Don’t be stuck in where you know you no longer belong simply because you are afraid or it is the safe thing to do.  Stick to your gut, know your heart and live your life.  Fly on your own spirit and soar to great heights.  We all have so much to give and do…Don’t let anything hold you back.

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The Long Road Ahead of Us

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This new life journey began quickly.  He was going to begin treatment as soon as possible since the cancer was aggressive.  One of my new roles was being a “secretary”.  I was responsible for scheduling all doctors appointments, recording medicines, temperatures and and complaints.  I had to organize the kids as to who was taking care of them when and where and make the drop offs as smooth as possible.  Sometimes the kids were shuffled between two or three different places in a day.  They didn’t really seem to mind, since they were being spoiled rotten.  Everyone was taking them to fun places and letting them have a good time

I wasn’t so nervous about this role because I felt I had some control over it.  I could keep my focus on being organized and detailed in my note taking.  I became OCD about documenting everything he ate, drank and medicines he took.  I took his temperature a lot and would watch him sleep…not sure he knows this.  While he slept, I would read up on his illness and the treatments he was going to be having.  Taking in this knowledge helped me feel like I was a part of the solution.  I wanted to help and fix this for Pat, but I couldn’t.  That pissed me off.  I wanted to take away his pain.  Since I obviously couldn’t do this, I just tried to take care of everything so he didn’t have to worry about anything else.  As time went on, my role as secretary changed from being a  crazy note taker, to being the one to call the doctors and keep track of all the paperwork.

On top of all of this, the new school year was beginning and I was heading back to work.  I had to organize my classroom, redecorate, write lesson plans and attend all the back to school meetings.  I didn’t know how I was going to do two full time jobs, but I didn’t really have a choice.  I would leave the hospital for a few hours and work in my room, then head back to sit with him until bedtime.  While at the hospital, I would write lesson plans and map out the first few weeks of school.  I felt like my brain could never shut down.  I was either focused on him or on work…not to mention the three boys of my own.  They were heading back to school as well.  I had back to school shopping to do for them and I wanted to spend some time with them.  This wasn’t really going to be in the cards for a little longer.

When I had a chance I would take each one out for a quick shopping trip and then back to the hospital.  Everything was about quickness and not being away too long.  I didn’t want to be away from Pat because in my head I was the only one who could take care of him.  The love I felt for him powered me to continue pushing forward.  If I felt like I couldn’t do everything all I had to do was thinking about letting him down, and I would be right back to it.  I want to take care of everyone, I want to help.  That’s who I am…That’s what I do.  I don’t think I fully comprehended the challenge that was in front of me.

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Part II

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And then…

Lymphoma of the bone marrow.  This was what the doctor was telling us, but all I felt was a blow to the stomach and my lungs deflate.  It was the most surreal moment.  It was as though I was outside of my body watching the conversation unfold.  I knew the doctor was speaking to us, and I knew I needed to hear everything he had to say, but I was somewhere else.  I had to shake my head to return to the conversation and focus on his actual words.   He gave us the prognosis and a brief description of a plan of action that really made no sense at the time.  When he left the room, I  had taken on a new role…caregiver.

I ran to my boys and hugged them all and then made all the necessary phone calls, where I repeatedly broke down sobbing. I took the boys home and began making plans for the next few days.  I would hold it together in front of the boys, but when I stepped away I would break.   At one point, talking to my sister explaining what was happening, I fell to the ground in front of my house, hyperventilating, asking why, why, why.  This couldn’t be happening to us.  I knew I was going to have to be stronger than I had ever been before in my life.  I just didn’t know if I was capable of this.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m one tough chick, but this was some serious shit and I had three boys and now a sick husband to take care of.  I know it wasn’t the truth in the matter, but it was my reality…this was all on me.  There was no room for me to make any mistakes.  I had to be everything to everybody and I had to do it right…right now.

This was going to be a long tough road and we had no map to follow.  We were heading out on an unknown path and I felt all alone, even though we were in this together.

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Baby Steps

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Today is day two. The day I talk about my horrible experience on September 11, 2006. At the time I was 7 months pregnant with my third child. I already had two boys at home, Seamus who was 3 and Quinn who was 19 months. I was a stay at home mom at the time and not the happiest to be pregnant yet again. I started to feel sick and figured I had the flu. I was throwing up and had a temperature that was ranging from 101 – 102.5. I was sleeping ALL the time. I thought that was what I needed in order to get over this illness. My husband figured I was sick and I was tired from being pregnant, so he did his best to handle things. After a while, he did get frustrated because I wasn’t taking care of the boys during the day and letting them play with my jewelry and make quite a mess in the house. Finally after a few days, my husband told me I had to contact the doctor. When I called it was a Sunday afternoon, so obviously they were not open. I left a message and went back to bed. That night, I was sweating a lot and woke up several times soaking wet. When I awoke on Monday I guess I thought I was better. The doctor called me back and I said I felt good. What did I know? My sister came over and took the boys from me so I could sleep some more. I don’t remember much more of that day…Monday, September 11.
My husband filled me in on the rest of the events that took place. When he got home from work, I was acting crazy. For example, I didn’t know how to open a jar of peanut butter, and I tried to use my husbands sock as a headband…Things like that. My husband suggested I go to the hospital because he felt something was wrong. I wouldn’t do that. He decided to call 911, but when they arrived I was not a happy camper. I was not going to go easily. I remember bits of pieces of these moments, but more like memories of a movie. I was swearing and yelling and screaming, and not being the sweet little thing I usually am 🙂 I was fighting with the paramedics and being a whole lot of nutty. When they got me to the hospital I had a spinaltap and it was determined that I had bacterial meningitis. Remember I was 7 months pregnant. This wasn’t an illness that pregnant woman typically had. I was transported to another hospital where I was placed into a medically induced coma. That is where I remained for 1 week.
When I awoke, I was obviously confused and completely unaware of what had happened to me. As I was filled in on the events over the past week I was totally blown away. There was a high chance of me dying. They had a crash cart ready for me and the baby. They thought that if I did survive, I wasn’t going to be the same. And if the baby survived, they would have their own issues. For example poor muscle development, and skin coloring issues. Fortunately, I woke up and was not brain dead. I did have some issues. I had to go to physical therapy to walk, talk do math and take care of myself again. I had to regain some memory and fine motor skills. What a week.
When the baby arrived, I had a perfect, beautiful baby boy with no issues! Not to mention, my eye sight had improved. It was a struggle to come back from this event and I lost some memories and some short term memory issues. But overall, I am fine, and so is Aidan, my sweet 7 year old.
This event made me view life and death differently. I realized I wasn’t immortal and how quickly everything can be taken from me. In a way I think I should have learned more than I did from this close encounter with death, but I can definitely say I am thankful to be alive and for all that I have.

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“The first step is that you have to say that you can” Will Smith

And so it goes.  Starting this blog is something I have wanted to do for some time.  For some reason fear has held me back.  Fear of what people will think, fear of having nothing to say, fear of having too much to say.  I’ve also been able to come up with a million excuses not to write.  It has been 16 days since my last post.  Why?  Let’s see..I’m tired, the boys are crazy tonight, I’d rather sit and do nothing, I’d rather watch t.v., I don’t know what to say, the computer is running slow, I didn’t charge the laptop, and so on.  Really I have no excuse. I just haven’t had the confidence to do it.  So here I am.  I am going to start again with saying Yes I can.  I can do this, and even if no one cares about what I have to write, I care about what I have to say.  

My new goal for myself is to write a post everyday for 1 week.  No excuses.  If I can do that…No I can do that and when I do, I will continue on with my writing and feel proud.  I want to make a change in my life and figure things out.  If I don’t take the risk and see what is truly inside,I will never be able to reach this goal.  

My last post focused on the first significant moment in my life…Todd.  My stalker who changed me in ways I never really knew.  He changed my feelings of security and trust, my self image and confidence.  The experience pushed my life and my focus in a new direction. There were two more significant moments in my life that are quite a story.  I think tomorrow I will share the events of my own personal, 9/11.