Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Box of Sadness

Last year I made the decision to embrace a perfectly imperfect Christmas (and I wrote a blog post about it which ironically also happens to be the most chaotic, imperfect post I've ever written). I decided that I was no longer going to allow the expectations of what Christmas is supposed to look like to bring me down. You see, with each passing year, the holidays became increasingly difficult and sad for me. Mostly, I have yearned to have the Christmases I grew up having. I have longed to have my mom with me. I have dreamed of what it would be like to have her and my dad still living in the U.S., in my childhood home. I have imagined Christmas shopping for my baby, Gabriel and Christmas mornings with three children opening gifts, instead of only two.

Every year, since 2000, I have bought an ornament in memory of Gabriel. It’s hard to believe I have 15 now. In 2008, I decorated ornaments in memory of my mom and Jeanne, my birth-mom. In 2011, I bought an ornament in the shape of a paw in memory of my precious Mimi. The ornaments have been a way of making them present in my home for the holidays. I felt like I was honoring them and keeping their memories alive during a time of year that was so difficult for me not to have them around. Every year, putting up the tree has been bittersweet. I’ve enjoyed decorating it as a family but with each memorial ornament I’d put up, I’d feel pain and sorrow for the loved ones I miss so much.

Last year for Gabriel, I ordered a star-shaped ornament by Kelly Rae Roberts that says “Shine Brightly”. All of my Gabriel ornaments are either stars or snowflakes in white or silver. The “Shine Brightly” ornament is lime green and pink. It was part of my attempt at embracing imperfection. I convinced myself that it didn’t matter if the ornament was nothing like all the others. I know it sounds silly, but it was a huge deal to me to break tradition like that! When my Kelly Rae ornament arrived, I was giddy with excitement at how perfectly it depicted the way I have been trying to live my life for the past three years…shining brightly. That ornament made me feel the way I wanted all of my ornaments to make me feel.

When I took down the tree, I decided that I was going to put all of the memorial ornaments together in one box and that it had been the last Christmas I’d use them. During that holiday season, I had realized that I had given the ornaments too much power. Seeing them on the tree made me worse, not better. They didn’t just remind me of who I had lost, they also reminded me to be sad. And I no longer wanted to have a sad Christmas.

Last weekend, we decorated our tree. DJ brought the boxes into the house and we started pulling everything out. The memory that I had placed all of the ornaments together in one box came rushing back. I began to feel anxious. I knew that seeing them would trigger me. I cautiously peeked in box by box until I came across a letter “G” ornament along with the paw ornament. (I had not separated those, I guess.) I felt the tears welling up. “Oh no”, I thought, “Here we go again.” When I found “the box”, I moved it to the side and placed the “G” and the paw in there too. I didn’t go through the box. There was no need to pull them out and see them once again.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Permission To Be Human

Here’s the story:

1.       I drank a lot on the Fourth of July.
2.       I rarely drink excessively.
3.       Two or more cocktails are known to make me pretty hyper-goofy-crazy-wild-funny (Or so I believe. Maybe others see me as stupid-obnoxious-loud-ridiculous-annoying).
4.       I had a blast.
5.       I’m a terrible mother.

I’ve had Shame Gremlins whispering in my ear, all day long…”You are a bad mother. What kind of mom gets intoxicated with her kids around? Good mothers remain in control; aware and alert; sober. Shame on you, Jackie. You fucked up. What are some of those party-goers thinking about you now? What are they saying? Do you have any idea how harshly you are being judged right now?”

All day, I unconvincingly force-fed my mind the self-compassionate remarks I know I am supposed to lovingly tell myself (except mine came out monotone and not loving at all). “You are not a bad mom. You are entitled to let loose once in a while. You didn’t commit a sin. This one incident of ‘bad judgment’ doesn’t make you an irresponsible mother. How often do you do this? NEVER. Why do you care what others might say or think? Your kids aren’t even aware that you were not sober. You weren’t sloppy-falling-over-slurring drunk. You were just happier-crazier-wilder-goofier-funnier than usual. Stop beating yourself up. You didn’t commit a crime. You didn’t hurt anyone or endanger your children. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not a sinner. You are a good person. It’s okay.”

Everything I read; everything I preach; all of my life’s mottos and mantras…I know I should put them into practice at this very minute. These are the times that I’m supposed to remember to:

Forgive yourself and forgive the past as Iyanla Vanzant suggests.

Nurture yourself with self-compassion and self-love as Brené Brown recommends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

50 Things That Make Me Happy

Well, hello there!
It’s been a while. I’m in a blogging slump. Not feeling it really. But I just got a message that sparked my interest. My blogger-friend Louise at Baby Gates Down tagged me to participate in a 50 Things That Make Me Happy post and I want to play!

I believe in signs and this is the fourth time in the last month or so that someone mentions to me making a happiness list or jar or folder. I keep saying “Oh ya, that’s a great idea.” But have I done anything about it? Nope. So I’m taking action this time!

1.       Coffee – I hate waking up. I don’t smile – not even at my children. Coffee is my happiness starter of the day. Every morning, I have two cups of Dunkin Donuts Coffee – my drug of choice. Sometimes I have a third cup in the afternoon. Shh…don’t tell my doctor.

2.       Sleeping – As I stated, I hate waking up. So, obviously the opposite of that is what I love! Sleeping is of my favorite things to do. If I could make it a hobby, I would.

3.       Staying Up Late – I love to sleep, but I don’t like to go to bed early. I’m a pretty happy camper when I get to stay up late at night, all by myself, doing whatever I please – reading, playing on Social Media, art journaling, or watching TV.

4.       Art Journaling – This is happiness at its finest to me. Two years ago, I discovered the therapeutic benefits of keeping an art journal and now I’m addicted. Recently, I spent SIX hours art journaling one day. There’s something very soothing, comforting, and inspiring in unleashing your creativity and artistic abilities. Try it!

5.       Writing – For most of my life, I’ve kept journals. Writing is my best form of therapy. Not just in my journal, but also emails to friends and family, text messages, Facebook posts, and of course blogging. When I write, I release my feelings and thoughts. It stinks to hold stuff in. Don’t do it. Let it out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Healing My Heart Through Connection - #1000Speak


"The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued;
when they can give and receive without judgement;
and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship."

Brené Brown - "The Gifts of Imperfection"

Shameful Confession: When I was in my mid-20’s, a co-worker suffered a miscarriage. No one had known she was pregnant. In fact, she had just recently returned from maternity leave. When I heard the news, I incredulously remarked to another co-worker “Are you serious? She needs to take three days off over a miscarriage??? But she JUST had a baby! What is there to be so upset about?!”

I am utterly ashamed to admit that I acted so insensitively. I’m horrified at my lack of compassion. But I was young, stupid, and clueless. In my ignorant mind, losing a pregnancy or even a baby, was like losing a jacket. If you already had another jacket, then there was nothing really to be so upset about. And if you didn’t own another jacket, you could just get a new one…Until I lost my own baby through miscarriage and suddenly I understood.

It turns out a miscarriage wasn’t just a miscarriage. Maybe for some it is, but for me it was life-shattering. It wasn’t just the loss of a pregnancy. It was the loss of my son; the loss of my dreams for that baby; the loss of my hopes of mothering that tiny bundle; the loss of my plans for the future with that child. I lost a piece of me. The loss was the deepest pain I have ever experienced and I felt the most alone I have ever felt in my life.

As the weeks went by, my friends and loved ones grew tired of my depressive state. They didn’t know what to do with me. They didn’t know what to say to make me “all better” and “back to normal”. Some thought I was seeking drama; thriving on the attention; being difficult; overreacting; not getting over it quickly enough. I felt disconnected from most of the people in my life. They simply didn’t get me.

I knew there were others out there like me. I spent countless hours, night after night, on baby loss websites and message boards where I was able to express my grief with other bereaved mothers.  But the greatest blessing of all came when I discovered Healing Hearts, a local Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stop Shoulding On Yourself

How many times a day do you “should on yourself”? I do it more times than I can count. I beat myself up for all the things I should be doing – like mundane chores or the bigger stuff – the stuff that we are expected to do or the stuff that feels like the right thing to do – like do a favor for someone or lend someone money or take care of someone’s problems. We put so much pressure on ourselves to live up to our own expectations as well as everyone else’s because we worry about what others will say or think. We fear judgment.

It feels selfish to put ourselves first and do what we actually want to do versus what we think we should do. But the majority of us have been conditioned since birth to “do the right thing” even if it means it’s not what is in your heart. We are taught to sacrifice our own emotional needs in order to please others. We learn early on in life that our needs are not as important as someone else’s. We believe that it is better to look good in someone else’s eyes than to feel good in our own hearts. We are burdened with guilt if we choose to follow what we want to do instead of what we think we should do.

In the book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brené Brown addresses the need to set boundaries. She states that it is essential to have boundaries in order to successfully practice acceptance and compassion without resentment. This makes so much sense to me! Think about it…when we do things for others coming from a place of “should”, we end up feeling resentful. We feel used and taken advantage of; we become judgmental. But hey…we did what we should have done; we made ourselves look good on the outside and feel bad on the inside.

It’s not easy to set boundaries and re-train our brains to believe that shoulding on yourself is not the measure of a good person. But believe me when I say, you are not selfish for taking care of your needs, listening to your heart, and following your spirit.


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Bright Side of Life

All day on Wednesday, my beloved pug, Mimi was on my mind. I spent about two hours looking through photos of her; remembering her cuddles and warmth in my arms; remembering her funny pug-noises; remembering her silliness; remembering how much love and joy she brought me at a time when I didn’t have much to be happy about. When Mimi came to us, it had been three arduous years that we had been dreaming of having a baby. She became that baby for us. She became that someone we longed to nurture. 

I fell asleep on Wednesday night with Mimi on my mind and I awoke with thoughts of her again. On Thursday morning I wondered, “Why is she on my mind so much?” and it hit me! Friday, May 1st is her birthday. AND…It’s my blog anniversary! Isn’t it amazing what the subconscious can do? I’m a huge dates person, and frequently whatever is on my mind, coincides with an upcoming date.

I never gave Mimi a “proper” memorial on Facebook. It was too painful and sad to announce that she had passed. Mimi died on May 16, 2011 and I grieved as deeply as I would have for a child, because Mimi was my child for nine glorious years.

In her honor and in honor of my one year blogging anniversary today, I want to share something I wrote the day before we euthanized her. (It was an email I sent to a few people.)

On Sunday, December 1, 2002 DJ and I anxiously waited in a Mervyn’s parking lot in Redlands. I was nervous as could be; giddy with anticipation; elated and overjoyed. When the car pulled up next to us, I was smiling from ear to ear. Little did I know how much my life was about to change. The woman opened the back of her van and pulled out a noisy, dirty, smelly pug dog named Mimi who was approximately six-years-old. She put Mimi down on the grass and I immediately fell to the ground to greet her. Mimi gave me a thousand kisses and wagged her curly tail ferociously. I literally felt like we were a long-lost mother and daughter reunited for the first time. I scooped her up in my arms as she continued to make funny pug noises. It was truly love at first sight. I fell madly, deeply in love with my petite little munchkin-pumpkin from the moment our eyes met. There was nothing to think about – I knew she belonged with me.

We drove the whole way home with her in my lap and we laughed at her snorting and heavy breathing. She also stunk up the car. She had been kept at a kennel for over a week and wreaked of dirty dog. On the way home we stopped at PetSmart and stocked up on all kinds of goodies for our new family member. I couldn’t believe my dream of having a dog was finally coming true after so many years of thinking I could never own a dog after I married DJ (who is allergic to dogs).

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Lifetime of Longing - #1000Speak

I've written on here a hundred times that my mom died when I was 16. It's a topic I address a lot because it had a giant impact in who I became. I believe that one of the reasons the presence or absence of a mother greatly affects us is because (I think) we all have an innate desire to be nurtured. (I have not researched this. It's just my personal opinion.) So, I have spent most of the last 29 years longing to be nurtured.

After my mom died, I sought out some of the women in my life to be mother-figures. I yearned to be taken care of; to be a priority in another’s life like I had been in my own mother’s; to feel like I greatly mattered like I had felt with my mother.  

After my mom’s death, my aunt became my first mother-figure. Then, it was my boyfriend's mother. Later it became some of the women my father dated. I also found a mother in my sister (who is 16 ½ years older), when I lived with her for a few years. All of these women were excellent mother-figures and nurturers, yet I still carried that emptiness inside that none of them could fill.

I also longed for my boyfriend-turned-husband to nurture me as well. I remember sitting in the therapist’s office early on in our marriage, complaining that he didn’t nurture me like I needed. The therapist encouraged him to take on a more nurturing role with me. Of course, he’s always been an exemplary partner. The reason I chose him as a boyfriend/husband is because of how well he always took care of me and showed me immeasurable, unconditional love and nurturing. But again, it’s as though I had a bottomless well, that no amount of nurturing on his part could fill.

In 1999, three years after we got married, we began to try to conceive. I had always had a strong desire to be a mother. It was my number one goal in life…to be a mom. I am a caregiver by nature. In my teenage years, I was usually the “mom” of the group, looking out for my friends whenever we went out. In my 20’s, while everyone was intoxicated, I usually remained sober and in control, taking care of my drunk friends. So you see, my maternal instincts were huge from early on in life.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Serve Your Purpose, Help A Friend

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of life is? Have you ever thought about why you are here? What did you come here to do? Why did God put you on this earth? What’s this all about? What is the meaning of life?

The first time these thoughts crossed my mind was in early October 2000. I vividly remember sitting in my office at work and looking around at my desk and just thinking “What the hell am I doing here? Is this what life is about?” I had just come back to work after a week-long leave after losing my unborn baby, Gabriel. Nothing made sense to me anymore. Life didn’t make sense. And it really didn’t make sense that I was sitting in an office, managing databases, talking to clients, and awarding their sales reps with prizes for their achievements. I remember thinking “How am I making a difference? How am I making this world a better place? How does any of this matter?” I knew the answers were “You’re not and it doesn’t.”

I continued to think of every profession, business, and job…the people who manufacture little rubber parts for who knows what; the places that sell nuts and bolts; the people who make ribbons and bows; and on and on. I couldn’t stop thinking of every type of career and how silly and meaningless so much of it seemed. I wondered “Why? What are we all doing here? Is this what we’re here for? To make and sell shit? I thought of my own job. I was working as a Director in a Meeting Planning, Travel Incentive, Sales Recognition company. My job was to reward the sales people who met and exceeded their numbers with business cards, plaques, and prizes. I thought…”My baby just died and I’m supposed to care that John Smith sold 200 cars last year? This is what life is about? Really?”

I knew there had to be more to life but my quest to find the answers would wait another 12 or 13 years because I became consumed with my grief and I ended up taking another leave from work, this time for a whole month, while I tried to pick up the pieces of my life.

Since then, what I have discovered is that life is much greater than nuts and bolts and ribbons and bows. I believe we each have an individual purpose to fulfill, lessons to learn, and karmic debts to repay. But I also believe that we have a collective purpose. We are all here to serve others; to help one another; and to make a difference no matter how big or small.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yet It Still Hurts To Say Good-Bye

Brandywine Falls, BC Canada
Photo by DanceLaughLuv

I thought I was okay, but I guess I’m not. Tomorrow I’m having gynecological surgery – an Endometrial Ablation – and today it hit me that I’m sad about it. I’m not worried or anxious about the actual procedure. My grief is more about the meaning of this surgery. I’m grieving the end of an era; the closing of a chapter in my life.

This afternoon, as I did laundry, I began to recall the numerous gynecological issues I’ve endured; the surgeries I’ve had; the familiarity of it all. I realized that my sadness is related to letting go of this wound I’ve had for so long. I’ve written before that our wounds become our friends; part of our identity. If we no longer have them, then who are we? I’ve always been the girl with the gynecological issues. So today, I wondered, who will I be now?

As I folded laundry, the surgeries of my past played out like a movie in my head while the tears spilled over onto the clothes in my hands. I recalled my emotions during each surgery…how they were always negative – full of anger, frustration, and self-pity. I always felt like “Why me?” and I suffered a lot emotionally before and after each one. 

This surgery has been different though. Two years ago, when the ob/gyn first suggested I have this procedure, I cried and told her I wasn’t ready. Because, in my eyes, this surgery is the big, fat, grand finale to my fertility struggles all those years ago. This procedure terminates any possibility of conception ever. Two years ago, I knew I would never attempt to conceive again. Today, I still know that to be true. But two years ago, I wasn’t ready to have that option taken away from me. Now I am. I made the decision to have this surgery now. I requested it because I knew it was time and I was finally ready to let go. 

Yet it still hurts to say good-bye.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Don't Be An A-Hole


Are assholes born or made? Are people born with a predisposition to assholeness?

I believe that assholes are made but I do think some people are more prone than others to become dickheads. We are all products of our environment. We all grow up believing whatever our parents led us to believe about ourselves. We all carry childhood wounds.  But all of us also possess free-will. Our wounds are not excuses to become assholes as adults. It’s up to us to decide how to live life and how to treat others.

I’ve known a lot of assholes in my life. In my older, wiser years I try to have compassion for them. I try to imagine them as children. We were all innocent, little kids at one time. We were all born with the need to be loved and nurtured. Some of us were fortunate enough to have our emotional needs met but some of us were not. So, I do try to keep that in mind when I’m dealing with an asshole. I question what made them that way? What did their childhood look like? 

Some of us were unfortunately dealt really shitty cards as kids with trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment, loss, etc. I’ve known people from all walks of life with all sorts of childhood stories. Yet, no two are the same as adults. 

I’ve met the ones who took their adversities and turned them into blessings and became better people because of their pasts. I’ve met the ones who have remained stuck in the misery of their past and remain victims in their adult lives, expecting life to always be shitty; believing they don’t deserve any better. And I’ve met the ones who became assholes.

Whatever your past holds, leave it there. You have a choice. You really do. Choose to see the lessons. Learn from your mistakes. Atone. Show gratitude. Give love unconditionally. But more than anything, don’t be an asshole. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Forgiving The Bullies of St. Callistus - #1000Speak

When I first started this blog last May, I recounted some humorous childhood anecdotes in a series of posts. The stories are funny to me now, but as a small child, they were anything but laughable. The reality is, I suffered a lot of misery in grade school and junior high. At the time, it hurt me deeply and it made me cry. I say “it” when I should say “they”.

They hurt me deeply. They made me cry. It wasn’t a “thing” that made me suffer. It was other children, specifically other little girls.

For years, I used to say I got picked on or made fun of in school. I didn’t have another name for it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that I was in fact bullied all those years ago.

In comparison to the horrendous acts of bullying that take place nowadays, my experiences were nothing. But when you are the little girl going through the torment day after day, it feels monumental, no matter how insignificant in comparison to others.

Throughout my life, I’ve thought about my bullies more than I’m sure they’ve thought about me. I remember each and every one of their names…Chris, Loan, Laura, Nicole, Tina, Tricia, and Maria.

When I joined Facebook, I looked up every single one of them. I carefully studied the pictures of the ones I found. I tried to imagine what their lives are like now. Are they happy? Are they living a fulfilling life? Has life been good to them? But my curiosity goes beyond their personal well-being. Because what I really have wanted to know is:

Monday, March 16, 2015

The D Word

So here’s the deal. I’ve battled depression for the last 15 years. It is something I’ve wondered if I would address on here since it is one of those shameful, taboo subjects. But it’s a part of who I am and something that I know a lot of the population deals with. So I’m sharing with courage, because I think it’s an extremely common condition that many shamefully suffer through silently. I personally know a lot of people who suffer from depression – some of them are probably unaware that they do, but I see all the signs. 

Depression has probably been a part of my life since 1986 after my mom died, but back then I didn’t even know what it was so it’s hard for me to say for sure if I was clinically depressed. I do know with complete certainty that I officially began battling depression in 2000 after the loss of my unborn baby, Gabriel. The grief and despair I felt after losing him was so life-shattering, that I spiraled down, down, down to the lowest of lows and I couldn’t climb back up out of the dark hole I was in, without the help of medication and therapy. 

I have always been a deep thinker and a deep “feeler”. I never learned the skill of numbing out my emotions. I never ran away from them. I still don’t. When something happens that hurts or upsets me, I allow my emotions to run their course. I never understood how there are people who can turn off their feelings about something. My friend Maya used to tell me that she could switch her thoughts like she changes the radio station. If something happened that she didn’t want to think about, she was able to just not think about it and think of something else instead. What?! That is such a foreign concept to me! I don’t know how to do that but there have been so many times I wish I could. Instead, when something happens or when I have a revelation about something, it consumes me. I face my emotions head-on and allow myself to feel it all – grief, sorrow, frustration, anger, etc. Hence, the depression that creeps in. 

What I have learned in the last 15 years, is that depression has many faces. I used to think depression meant being sad all the time, crying non-stop while curled up in the fetal position. After I lost Gabriel, my depression looked like what I just described. But as infertility and other drama and injustices unfolded in my life, depression took on a new look. I learned that my anger, irritability, lack of energy, withdrawal from my friends and family, desire to escape by sleeping a lot, and the loss of interest in doing things I enjoyed were all symptoms of depression too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bye, Felicia!

I borrowed DJ’s car to go to the salon last Saturday and I found Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill CD playing as I drove away. I liked Alanis in the 90’s, but not enough to purposely listen to her music. Mostly, I remember going nuts with my friend Olivia and the rest of the girls on the dance floor at Bobby McGee’s whenever “You Oughta Know” came on. We’d sing at the top of our lungs and fling our hair around like rockers.

As I drove to and from the salon, I listened to “Hand In My Pocket” on repeat over and over and over again (and sang it like I was in concert). I had not paid attention 20 years ago to the meaning of the lyrics. I just knew she was always doing something different with the hand that wasn’t in her pocket. But that day, as I paid attention to what I was singing, it dawned on me how inspiring this song is! She says that no matter what, even if life is imperfect and upside down, everything is going to work out and be just fine. (I will post the lyrics at the end.)

I think the reason the lyrics resonate so much for me is that for as long as I can remember, I have found great comfort in hearing the words “Everything is going to be okay.” It’s one my “things” with DJ. We say it when the other is feeling upset , worried, scared, or anxious. When I hear DJ say “Everything is going to be ooooookkkkkkk.” (spoken in a high-pitched, sweet, girly voice) for some ridiculous reason, it actually brings me reassurance.  Sometimes it’s all he and I need to really believe that things will be alright.
I think, for the most part, whatever curve balls life throws; eventually you come out the other end as a survivor. In the moment, it may seem insurmountable, but I believe most of us pull through okay. We may get banged up, scratched, and bruised. We may have life-long scars from the explosions we encounter, but ultimately, life goes on and we learn to move forward.

I find it important to remember that tidbit. When we are feeling sad, depressed, lonely…we just need to remember that it’s only momentary and that everything is going to be okay.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Creature Under My Bed

It’s been nearly a month since I last wrote about my life-story. My apologies for keeping you waiting so long! I’m sure you’ve been losing sleep, waiting with bated breath, wondering how my saga continues. However, for this post, I’m keeping it light and breezy with (what I think is) an entertaining anecdote.  Sorry to disappoint. But sometimes you have to break up the seriousness with a bit of humor.

As I last wrote (here), my dad and Felicia left on a five-week road trip to Mexico. I was SO happy to see the wicked step-monster go. It gave me a lovely break from her evil ways. During those weeks that I was alone at home, I got to live out my fairytale fantasy of being Susie Homemaker. DJ and I would arrive at the house around the same time after work and I would attempt to make dinner for us. After we were done doing dishes, we’d snuggle on the couch and watch TV until it was time for him to return home. 

The nights were the hardest for me. I didn’t like being all alone for so many nights in a row, but DJ wasn’t willing to rock the boat too much with his conservative parents. It would not have been good for either of us to have him stay the night. 

On the weekends, we’d invite his siblings and cousins over to hang out and party. We’d drink and play games until the wee hours of the night. I was the oldest of the bunch and the only one with a place for everyone to gather. Some nights we kept it mellow and just rented movies to watch. 

One week-night, after DJ went home, I was fast asleep in my cabin-like room. Even though I was scared out of my mind to be home alone, I didn’t awaken easily. (In my younger years, I was quite the heavy-sleeper.) But for one reason or another on that particular night, I awoke to a strange, subtle sound in my room. The room was pitch black due to the dark wood paneling and wood shutters. There wasn’t a shred of light coming in so I couldn’t see a thing. All I could do was hear what sounded to me like something (an animal maybe??) chewing on something. I shot up in bed and listened intently, trying to place the sound. It was coming from the right side of my bed. My heart pounded out of my chest. I listened. The sound seemed to be moving closer toward me. My panic grew bigger. Is it a rat? A mouse? What the eff is  making that sound and what the eff is it eating???

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let Your Self-Compassion Shine - #1000Speak

On this day, February 20, 2015, I proudly join forces with more than 1000 bloggers all over the world, speaking out on compassion. We are publishing our posts all on the same day, writing about compassion, kindness, support, and care for mankind. Our goal is to inundate the Blogosphere with goodness! I am honored to be part of such an important movement. You can help by sharing, tweeting, and re-blogging. Make a difference. Join the movement Keep the momentum going. #1000Speak

Dear Friend In Need of Compassion – 

I’m writing because I know you can use some compassion right now. We all need compassion from one another. We all need to give compassion and receive compassion. But more than anything, before you can give compassion, you need learn to have self-compassion. I know it’s not easy, but it’s something you need to work on doing every single day. Compassion is a practice. It’s something you must cultivate and work on daily. Some days will be easier than others but regardless, don’t give up on loving yourself. Show yourself compassion.

So often, when we make mistakes or when we do something we regret, we beat ourselves up internally. Our inner voice tells us “Nice going. You messed up again. What were you thinking? How could you be so stupid? You’re such an idiot. You’re never going to recover from this. You failed once again. No one is going to forgive you for this one. How could you be so selfish and thoughtless. You are a bad person…” and on and on your inner voice rambles incessantly. The more we listen to that voice, the louder it gets.

I want you to know though, that there is another voice. A voice that is barely a whisper, but one that is so much more powerful; a healing voice that is wise and true. It is the voice of self-compassion. Self-compassion is the quiet whisper that says “It’s okay. You did the best you could. You’re not a loser. Don’t worry about what others say or think. Everything is going to be okay. I love you.”

Friend, think of a time in your life when you could have used some self-compassion. Think of a time in your life when you were feeling worthless and unlovable. If you could go back to that time, what would you tell yourself now? We have all had times in our lives of feeling inadequate or rejected or broken. And we will continue to have moments like those. But instead of playing the same tapes in our heads; instead of listening to that same inner voice that makes us feel insignificant, small, and unimportant, we can make a different choice. We can choose to have self-compassion. We can talk to ourselves the same way we talk to someone we love.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Re-Blogging: An Open Letter About Time by Bloomingspiders

DJ and I celebrated our 25th Valentine's together. We like to joke that everyday is Valentine's for us...that's how in love we are. We don't need the gifts and chocolates and roses anymore. We don't need the fancy dinners and weekend-long celebrations. We are content to stay home; put the kids to bed; then have some wine and cheese out on the patio, listening to music. That's our ideal night, any night.

As he grilled some Argentine cuts of beef for us, I decided to read a blog I've been following recently. I wasn't prepared for the tears that ensued though as I read today's entry. Beautiful and profound doesn't begin to describe her words - especially to someone who often writes about her father, our rocky past, and our current journey of healing. I worry about losing him Every. Single. Day.

Reading Dani's words made me realize how precious time is and how we must never forget the love we have for those in our lives. We need to put our egos in check. Remember our spirits. Listen to our hearts; not our heads. Forgive. Love.

Please read this inspiring post. I hope you find healing and a desire for peace in your heart like it gave me.

"Dearest Reader,

I received a call four days ago. It was one of those calls; the kind that even the phone knows is bad. I was told my father couldn’t speak or move. He had been found that way. “The ambulance is on its way”, she said. “We’ll call once we have more information”.


In the car, I looked through my phone and changed my background to one of him and I. Then I went and listened to my voicemail. The most recent one was him saying “You never answer” then a click. I couldn’t move–couldn’t breathe really–and began thinking: What was it he said again?  I take what money and put it where?  And where are those documents? And then I call whom?"


...continue reading...An Open Letter About Time by Dani at Bloomingspiders

Photo by DanceLaughLuv
Jenner, CA, August 2010
where the Russian River meets the Pacific

Sunday, February 8, 2015

For Her...45 Years Later

Photograph by DanceLaughLuv

I think of her every single day during this time of year. Without a moment’s notice, she comes to the forefront of my mind like clockwork. It’s instinctive. It’s in my subconscious. 

I imagine what she must have felt throughout the nine months she carried me in her womb knowing that the day would come that she would have to say good-bye. I think about the shame she must have felt. I wonder what she was feeling as the dreaded day neared. Was she scared? Did she have doubts about the decision she was making? Did she wish she could run away and hide and keep me forever?

I picture her being advised not to hold me after I was born and the torment it must have caused her. I picture her feeling the deepest grief of her 19 years as she was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms. I thought of her the day I left the hospital after losing Gabriel. I had walked into the hospital with a baby in my belly and I went home without any proof of his existence. She and I both experienced the loss of a baby, just in different forms. I wonder if she felt like a mother even though I was no longer with her? Because only a mother can feel such tremendous anguish and emptiness.

I have seen first-hand the pain and sadness in the face of a mother who has just voluntarily relinquished her rights. Twice. It is a something I will never forget. My children’s birthmothers mourned the losses of their babies and grieved deeply for what could have been, should have been. And both times that I have been witness to this courageous act, she never left my mind. I thought of the day she had to sign the papers. Who was with her? Did she cry as she was signing? Did she fall apart when she walked out of that room?

I think of all the things I wish I could tell her that would have helped her heal from any shame she felt. I wish I could tell her she is my hero; that she did the best thing for me she could have ever done; that I am so grateful that she made the difficult choice to place me; that I don’t hate her or resent her; on the contrary, I think she is a very special and remarkable human being for having the courage she did. I wish I could tell her what she means to me. I wish I could thank her. I wish I could hug her. I wish I could tell her I how much I love her.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nonsensical Ramblings of a Newbie Blogger

I have started reading a number of blogs and following a handful of them recently. I decided it was time I checked out what other bloggers do; what the trends are; what the community is all about. I’ve been blogging for eight months and I hadn’t networked at all. I hadn’t even bothered to see who else is out there. (I was a complete Blog Virgin when I started this.)  So over the last couple of months I ventured into the blogosphere and found some pretty amazing women and blogs.

What I also found though is a bit of a crush to the ego. ‘Cause guess what I’m doing now, guys? Comparing! That dreadful, wicked thing we all do. Prior to reading other blogs, I had nothing to compare to, so I was ignorantly happy and proud of my little blog that hardly anyone reads. Now? Not so much. It kinda sucks because I’m seeing how much better than me so many others are; how much more interesting and entertaining and funny and eloquent and witty and intelligent and poetic and, and, and, <sigh> just better at writing and expressing themselves than I am! Better vocabularies, better use of grammar, better knowledge of punctuation, just better, better, better!! And I’m thinking “STOP, STOP, STOP!” because I know it’s wrong of me to compare and so not healthy. But I can’t help it. It’s human nature.

It’s also human nature to not be able to stop doing something once you start. The logical side of me says “OK, just go back to your cave and stop reading and checking out other blogs so that you stop comparing.” But it’s like a drug. I’m hooked and I can’t stop now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Gyno-Chronicle

Here's what's not fun for me, still, all these years later…Sitting in a room-full of pregnant women. I wish it weren’t the case, but it still stirs up a bit of anxiety in me. I had to go to the gynecologist today and as I walked toward the office door, I silently prayed for an empty waiting room. No luck. I was instead confronted with seven big, fat, pregnant bellies and about seven more that paraded out as they finished with their visit. $#&@!!!

Immediately, I felt like the odd woman out. I wasn't there for a looksee at my growing fetus or a Doppler scan to listen for a heartbeat. No, I was there for a pap. I was also there to schedule an ultrasound and a subsequent surgery to hopefully once and for all be done with my gynecological woes. Well, not totally done, I guess, because I'm not having a hysterectomy - just an Endometrial Ablation.

I saw preggos with their mothers and preggos with their husbands, and preggos with their toddlers and preschoolers. I was there with my husband and my 3-year-old too. I wondered if the others assumed I was pregnant too because why else would my hubby be there with me. I wondered when they called my name if the others thought it was odd that only I went into the room and DJ and my little girl remained in the waiting room. (He came to babysit for me, bless his heart.) I wondered if any of them were going to have the type of news at their appointment that I had on September 14, 2000.

I have been to the gynecologist in the last 15 years more times than I can count. And I swear, each time I go, I recall the last appointment of my pregnancy. I recall the excitement I felt waking up that day. I recall the giddiness DJ and I felt knowing we were going to hear our baby's heartbeat. I also recall the wails I let out learning that there was no longer a heartbeat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

None Of It Mattered In The End

I had a huge flashback when I went to the restroom at Target yesterday. As I was walking out, I noticed a Clearblue Easy wrapper in the trash can. Immediately I pictured a young, possibly teenage girl, freaking out, believing she might be pregnant and being desperate enough to take a test while still at Target. I was never that girl though. My flashback was of a different girl.

I was a 32-year-old girl who had been trying to get pregnant for two years and who very desperately wanted to have a baby – desperate enough to lie to my co-workers about what I had to do at lunchtime so I could ditch them and go to Target during lunch, buy a test, and take it right then and there. 

My hands were shaking as I tore open the package. I hadn’t peed all morning and I hadn’t had a lot of water so as to not dilute my urine. (Tricks of the trade) When the test came out negative, I began to quietly sob in the stall. I put the stick back in the wrapper and back in my bag. I didn’t dare have the courage to walk out with it in-hand and throw it away there. I took deep breaths trying to regain my composure before walking out. 

When I got to the car, I called DJ and cried my eyes out, explaining that I had wanted to surprise him, believing that THIS was THEE month I would have good news. But I never did get that kind of good news ever again – It only happened once on July 1, 2000, so very long ago. (Gabriel would be turning 14 this March. )

I thought about the mystery girl off and on all day. Was the test positive or negative? What is she going to do if it’s positive? Does she have the means to raise a child? Is she a teenager? Or is she someone like I was? Does she want to be pregnant? (I highly doubt she is a 30-something with infertility issues, trying to conceive, but she could be. Anything is possible.) I thought about how life just changes from one second to the next, no advanced warning, no time to prepare. Just BAM.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life...One Big Fat Lesson

I’m gonna go out on a limb and share some kooky thoughts and I hope you don’t think I’ve lost my marbles. And if you do, oh well. I'm sure you already think I'm crazy for a lot of other things I've written.

Okay, here’s what I believe…I believe that my soul chose this life. (Stay with me.) What I mean is that my soul agreed to the life I have in order to grow and learn the lessons I need to learn. I learned this tidbit about our soul’s journey over a year ago while reading a book by Dr. Brian Weiss and it completely changed my perspective on life.  Dr. Weiss says that before coming to this earth, our soul is given a life-preview and we have the option to accept or decline. Crazy, right? But I fully believe it.

Knowing this information suddenly put a different spin on life for me. When I started thinking back to everything I’ve been through, I didn’t just look at the negative experiences I’ve had as tragedies, burdens, punishments, and curses, but rather as experiences my soul needed and AGREED to. Instead of looking at my past as God playing terrible, sick jokes on me, I realized that everything I went through and have yet to go through are all part of my chosen- life-lesson-plan.

It is a rather empowering feeling to know that I chose this life. Yes! I CHOSE this life. When I look at it that way, I don’t feel like a pitiful, sad case of an angry young victim who suffered and lost so much and who was dealt so many injustices. Instead, what I feel like is Wonder Woman. I feel like “Holy shit! I did it! I survived it all and came out the other end stronger and better.

(And because music is my life and in me 24/7, I keep having bits of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” playing in my head mixed with bits of Kanye’s “Stronger” as I’ve been writing this. I had to stop writing to watch the videos.)