Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up

Journal of a journey through life, true love and lessons learned along the way.

alone clouds daylight dramatic

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, here we go, the last day of the second year since she passed.  I am still standing, she knew I would be, however, there were moments I had my doubts.  I think of her daily and everything reminds me of her.  I am either remembering our life together or wondering what she would think about what is going on today.  It is all very healthy.

What is not healthy is the regret that has crept back in that I did not do enough.  Crazy as it sounds out loud, internally I battle with her decline rethinking every decision and wondering if there was more I should have done as if I could have controlled it.  I know in my mind that it was cancer that took her so swiftly but in my heart, I keep rethinking the moment that started her decline, and if I could have changed it.  I listen to that last voice mail from her knowing that I needed to go to her because she was starting to lose her grip and knew it.  I have read those text messages exchanged in those last three weeks between myself and my “village”.  They were the ones that kept me going when I questioned my strength and ability to carry-on.  Those text messages remind me that there was absolutely nothing I could have done.  This is still not enough to resolve it for she is still gone.

Grief is a bitch.  I am reminded of the stages but never truly embracing the process when it comes to my grief.  What I am going through is not a process it is a state-of-being that may never truly vacate.  It has changed me for the worse as I am lost without her even on my best day.  I don’t cry anymore because nothing can ever be as bad as losing her.  Every time someone else speaks of losing one of their parents I feel envy when they note their parent’s age, internally doing the math to see how many more years they got with their parent than I.  Worst is that there are more days of my life than not, that I long to talk to her and in not having her to talk to I simply don’t speak.  It is a gag on a life worth sharing but lack of an audience in her makes it feel less valuable.

I have thought for days how I would honor the anniversary of her passing and these sentiments were not part of the original draft I was compiling in my head.  I, of course, would think about the love of music we shared, the love of reading, and her laughter.  What has come out is raw and real and in that I honor it.  She has been gone for two years and it feels like ten.  Yes, I know, she is all around me and with me every day, which is ironic coming from someone that struggles with the concept of faith as it scientifically cannot be proven.  Her being in the stratosphere will never console the loss I feel without her here on earth.

As I conclude I remind all of you, to embrace what you have here and now.  Don’t let a word go unsaid, I didn’t and it is the thing I am most grateful for in losing her nothing was left to be said.  Spend the time, say the words, and embrace those that are still here.  We are destined for the same fate, it is the timeline that is unpredictable.  Will you live to be 20 or 95, no one knows, however, while you are here today make it count.  It seems all I have today to offer in positivity as I start what will be the longest 15 hours of any day this year.  As the clock ticks towards 10:30p I will do everything in my power to stay busy and avoid thinking about every minute of her last day.  I am sound in mind enough to know that this final day will never define the 17,271 days we shared but is it wrong to wish I had just one more?

Life as I owe it to her – L.  (gutted)

I have the most overactive brain of anyone that I know. I am thinking all the time constantly going over and over every conversation, every emotion, every thought, every relationship, every bite of every food, everything!!! Nothing goes on without me overthinking the crap out of it!!! I am not certain where this comes from as I come from two human beings that never thought about what they were doing on the forefront let alone ever thought about it again.

I credit my overactive thought process for much of the success in my life and maybe for a bit of the failure. As I do I was sitting here thinking about my thoughts; if that is not an oxymoron I am not sure what is…but I digress. The first thought that came to mind was the question, “Is everything that happens in our life because of our parents?” The answer comes quickly that this cannot be the case as many people grow up without parents. Is the question then “Is everything that happens in our life formed by childhood?” If that is the case at what point do you own the responsibility?

I think about my spending habits and are quick to blame them on my Dad because my Mom was the most frugal person I have ever known. In reality, when I test this theory I realize that while I am “giving” like my Dad I am far more frivolous…maybe. Ha! Overthought but ultimately I own it. I love to spend money…guilty as charged.

I think about my children and watching them live out their lives and feel a bit of karma coming back on me as I see their choices and know they were not defined by their parents! That is not to say that they cannot place blame on us as their perception of where their character traits come from is theirs to decide…I guess?!

Ultimately I am not over-defining life I am overthinking it. Two very different things. Blaming my spending habits on my Dad is defining not thought-provoking. The overactive thought process has more to do with a constant dialogue in my brain that questions every move I make. I am rethinking conversations, wondering if I said enough or too much. For goodness sake, while I am in the conversation I am thinking about whether to stay silent, speak up or interrupt and then immediately as I take that action, I am rethinking if I should have…? Exhausting? Yes!

My actions are thought-provoking as well. Do it or don’t, should I or shouldn’t…decision made…regrets?? Nothing is done accidentally or maybe it is. Ha!! Made you dizzy yet? This is my brain, not on crack but cracking up, certifiably CRAZY.

When I came out with my first prompt journal, Seeking Normal, I sent my Dad a copy. I was proud to have published something even if it was a series of prompts and self-published (not diminishing, just stating facts) and wanted him to have it in hand. When he saw it the first thing he said was “you think too much”…what…wait…this is your “take” on my craft, hobby, seemingly greatest accomplishment outside of my career…what the heck? I think too much!!!, that is all you have for me? In defense I came back with “Maybe you don’t think enough”…but then again I already know that about him. Ha!! In defense of my Dad he is not the first nor the last to say this to me as I have heard it from my children and husband many times before and again in all cases, I am fine with it. I don’t wear it as the badge of shame that it is intended but instead as the badge of honor that I do. It is who I am for goodness sake.

While this topic can be quite comical it has its tragedy. The entire addiction that I suffer from in food is cemented in overthought. It is through the overwhelming processes I have put upon myself in overthinking every single bite, drink, and workout that manifested itself into enormous dysfunction. It is only of late that I am finally getting to a place where I can distinguish the need to eat by true cues from my body and not from my mind that is on overdrive on when, where, and how I eat.

In most areas of my life, the overactive thought process does not hold me back or hinder me as I am decisive and active in my approach however the backlash of those thoughts can be exhausting. It elicits a “do” approach rather than a “be” and in that I find my thoughts to be relentless. Again as all things in life, this can be both good and bad however in being both, it is exhausting.

My favorite “game” to play with my husband is to randomly ask at any moment in time “What are you thinking about right now?”…and his inevitable response always being “Nothing”. I envy the idea that nothing can or could be on his mind at any time. How is that possible?? I can’t drive down the road without thinking about what is in the woods beside the road, if the road is bumpy and why it is so; and he thinks of nothing?!?! What must that sound like…quiet, peace, or an enormous void? Dang…give me a minute of that any day. Funny enough he rarely asks me the same question! I think he likely does not want to know what I am thinking…and I cannot blame him. What is ironic is that when he does ask, I typically cannot articulate it in those moments. It is the look on my face that elicits those moments that he asks…smart man…he knows I am perplexed and won’t be able to explain it.

In all fairness and in conclusion, I remedy this overthought by starting every single day with journaling anything and everything on my mind, as a way of clearing my mind. I learned this from a previous therapist and most recently from author Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artists Way”. You just write, anything that comes to mind without re-reading, just write. It works for me. It is far more effective than meditation as you cannot imagine the civil war in trying to meditate with an overactive brain!!! If you have an overactive mind, welcome to the club and if you are blessed with silence then embrace it. For me, it is who I am and all I know to be. I will continue to think on it relentlessly! 🙂

Life as I overthink it – L.

I was pushed recently about why I think everything needs to mean something.  Why can’t something just “be” what it is without having meaning.  I have explored this thought for many months now since it was originally asked of me.  I find that life with meaning is far more valuable, at least to me, and makes sense of the unfortunate things that happen to make them feel like there was fortune despite what seems random.

Better explained, giving value to all things, is simply my way of getting through this life.  I prefer optimism and in order to stay positive, I have to believe that things that happen, that would otherwise be defined as bad, have meaning.  I also like to believe that there is more to life than simple misfortunes.  My most recent application of meaning includes two thoughts I had this week.

  • Recent surgeries have left me with a literal cross on my abdomen.  While there are so many things that these scars represent the visual from my perspective is a cross.  I choose to believe that this cross on my abdomen is a reminder of how blessed I am to have gone through these surgeries and come out better on the other side.  I have healed remarkably and have only been left with these scars.

This is a perfect example of my perspective in finding meaning. It would be too easy to be distressed by the literal disaster that my abdomen has become however I have no control over it, never did and never will, and hence can do nothing about it. Would it be better to lament about the physical disfigurement or simply embrace it as the blessing that it is? I choose blessings over curses every single day.

Another example:

  • I have a cross that I wear daily that reminds me of my mom.  My husband gave it to me after her passing and I typically don’t take it off.  As this month is the month of her passing two years ago I always find August to be the most difficult month. While I try to stay busy I am triggered by many things that occur in the month.  This August has not been as difficult, yet I still find myself searching for that cross around my neck.  The other night when getting out of the shower, the necklace broke.  As I took it off it immediately occurred to me that this was God’s way of letting me know that I no longer need it because I am okay.  Anyone else might have just been upset that the necklace broke yet I refuse to allow such simple or unfortunate explanation and instead choose to believe it is a sign.  A sign that I am moving on stronger.

Again my thought about the cross could simply have been to be upset that this month when I need it most my most frequent reminder of her is broken. Not in my world, there is enough wrong in this world without me allowing my own journey to be a part of that sentiment. The sweetest part of this story is that my husband noticed that the necklace had broke and without me asking he took it to get it repaired for me. That is LOVE.

Everything means something to me. Everyone means something to me. I believe that this life is a journey and the stops along the way enrich the journey. We are taught by those people and experiences around us, if only we choose to see it that way. Ultimately like I have reminded so many times before “YOU decide” everything in your life. I decide to see things with meaning because a life without it is simply not worth living, in my opinion.

Live as define it – L.

P.s. To the person that made me ultimately think hard enough about this topic that I made it a blog post you should know that YOU have elicited “this” in me in knowing and loving you. Everything indeed means something as you have taught me there is more to life than what you see on the surface.

What is it about chemistry that brings two people together? It is not the kind you learn about in high school that requires the memorization of the table of elements. Or maybe it is…there has to be a science to it. I spent two hours on the phone with one of my best friends today and I could feel it. The pull was undeniable, just seeing her on the screen made everything right in my world. She is someone who knows me from my surface to my soul but it is not what familiarity that creates the draw to one another, it has to be chemistry there is simply no doubt about it.

When I looked up the definition of chemistry to see if there was a definition to explain what I know and feel I indeed found the following defintion:

Relationship Chemistry – In the context of relationships, chemistry is a simple “emotion” that two people get when they share a special connection. It is the impulse making one think “I need to see this [other] person again” – that feeling of “we click”.

Amazing! Yes, of course it is a science. The relationships I have with people in my life are definitely a matter of chemistry. The chemistry with my friends is undeniable. We feel each other on a level that is unexplainable. In the case of “my girl” today we have been a part of each other’s lives for so many years, raised kids together, worked together, vacationed together, done EVERYTHING together and the chemistry is as exact a science as I have ever known.

As I like to explore the opposites of all perspectives I believe it is chemistry that also turns me off from people. I get a feel for people that don’t jive with me that is as undeniable. It is a vibe, a character-type that throws the red flags that keep me weary. Like any chemistry it is not always spot-on as there have been a few in my life that I did not jive with initially that later became partners-in-crime. This feeling, this chemistry, this polarization is “real” as I have tested it, letting my guard down only to realize that I was right all along, they were wrong for me.

In conclusion, (yes I just started my last sentence with this 🙄) it is interesting that the actual chemistry that exists in those related to you should be an obvious connection however so often that chemistry when mixed can be volatile. One would think that those that we share a bloodline with would be our best matches yet as we all know this simply is not a proven fact. Could it be that when two elements get too close to one another the reaction is adverse?

My table of elements (aka my “circle”) is full of those that when mixed with my personality create chemical reactions that are the perfect mix of love and admiration. Relationship Chemistry YES, I am a student and like to believe a successful graduate…maybe even a PhD.

Life as I live it – L.

I love to see a moment unfold before my eyes, so much so that I have the awareness to take it all in and appreciate it. As I am climbing into bed tonight, feeling fulfilled from the day, I hear the rain outside and realize how peaceful it is. Quiet rainfall, not a downpour, and all I can hear in this moment are the drops hitting the roof. I would normally reach for the remote for the tv but instead, in this moment, I reach for my iPad and decide the time is better for an introspective blog post.

I look for these moments in my life and when I see them I identify them internally and depending on the company sometimes externally. I have moments all the time with or without the benefit of company or structure. Here are two examples that are still top of mind:

  • The other day I was driving home and saw a rainbow that was a full arc, end to end. In that moment I realized how magical it was and all that I had to be grateful for in this life.
  • On Friday as I was wrapping up a second day of doing budgets, it occurred to me as I sat with the three brilliant minds that make-up my team that I was in such perfect company. I told them as much.

Life is full of these moments however if you are not allowing the space to see them occur before you they will move on unidentified. This is the best reason I can think of for simply taking a moment when you get it; truly seizing that moment and reveling in it. A song, a rainbow, a feeling, whatever the moment is revel in it. You will not get that moment back every again, because it is just that, a moment in time and then it is gone.

I appreciate the impact of a moment so much that I have made a habit of texting someone when I am thinking about them. Just a quick note that says, “You are on my mind”. I do it because I believe in the energy of the universe and that if something comes to mind it is likely because of a flow of energy surrounding that thought or person. I did this recently for a beautiful friend of mine that has been working very long days away from home and she later told me, “Lori, you have no idea that at the moment I got your text, I needed it the most.”. She noted that there was no possible way I could have known what she was going through in that moment but what I did know is she came to my mind so strongly that it urged me to let her know she was in my thoughts.

Tonight I hope that you take a moment and simply breathe in the air around you reminding yourself that these moments in life are fleeting and the only way to truly “seize the day” is to stop, stop everything, and take a moment for yourself. You deserve to see the world around you. Take time to smell the roses, tell someone you are thinking about them and most importantly take care of yourself. You are the moment.

Life as it inspired me tonight – L.

As I was driving home today I found myself daydreaming about smoking and how something that was so globally accepted is now an anomaly.  At its peak in the 1960’s 40% of the population smoked!  Today only 14% of the population smokes and those that do are relegated to smoke out of sight.  I was raised by parents that smoked as well as many relatives and never did it occur to me as unusual. Smoking in the home, smoking in the car, smoking in restaurants, and everywhere else was considered normal now that long ago.  The most uncomfortable memory I have is one where I was hospitalized, nine months pregnant, and the girl sharing the room with me was smoking as was the nearly 10 friends and family of hers in the room. They were full of excitement as she had literally just had the baby. Meanwhile, I was sitting behind a curtain breathing in the immense smoke in the room, alone, and suffocating. Seems unthinkable now to believe such a story.  

This random thought then grew into the thought of the term “secondhand” and the bad rap the word gets based on being most affiliated with smoking.  When thinking through other forms of secondhand I could think of another few affiliations that bring about a negative perception:

  • Secondhand clothes can be trash or treasure. To the sibling that is getting the older sibling’s clothes; secondhand sucks. To the thrifty shopper at the Goodwill that finds secondhand clothes that still have tags, it is a treasure!
  • Secondhand information can be dangerous.  Rarely is this information given without alteration.  Acting upon secondhand information frequently gets the orator in trouble.

 

“There’s no hierarchy of pain. Suffering should not be ranked, because pain is not a contest. …by diminishing my problems, I was judging myself and everyone else whose problems I had placed lower down on the hierarchy of pain. You can’t get through your pain by diminishing it.”

Lori Gottlieb “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone”

Great quote and thought-provoking indeed. It elicited the following thoughts and questions. Somebody always has it worse and someone else will always have it better. It is not about somebody or someone else it is about you. It is about how you are affected by your life. Does your life serve you? Despite the past are you moving beyond what “was” to what “is”? Is this really about validation? Is it only “real” if someone else acknowledges how bad, how good, or how unremarkable “it” is?

Your normal is all you know and is your baseline for all definitions. My pain is my pain and better not defined as a comparison of yours. So often we diminish what we are going through because someone else has it worse. However, that we are acknowledging that someone else has it worse is again only defined by our own baseline, and in reality not real.

I have had to explore this concept in my life as I attempted to “fix” my own concept of normal, pain, and pleasure. This is the foundation of self-care. There are so many people that do not care for themselves and do not put the work in because they blow it off through the ideal that somebody else always has it worse or that their experience is less than another’s. Ultimately your experience is the only one that matters and diminishing it, pain or pleasure takes something away from you. It robs you of the full experience. I think about this in terms of both sides; perspective is my drug. Come along with me while I go down in “it” for a moment!

Pleasure…

Let’s start with pleasure as it is less “one-upped” than pain. It is simply not as often that someone will take away your pleasure through their own grander experience as it does not serve them to be a braggart as easily as it does to be the victim.

My experiences are not worldly as I have never traveled outside of this country. While I do not know the pleasure of seeing the Louvre or sailing on the Mediterranean, I do know the absolute elation of sitting in front of the ocean, 40 miles outside my door, smelling the salty air, hearing the crashing waves and feeling that all is right with the world. While I have never known the pleasure of owning a million-dollar mansion I know what it feels like to have owned a modest home in the middle of the woods that I have created and adore and respect for all of the things it gives to me. This is a pleasure as I define it and can never be made less for those things that I only know, as better, because of someone else’s “one-up”.

Pain…

Tough as it is to swallow there is indeed someone that always has it worse than you. For the ultimate “worse” is death; or is it? (That is a topic for another blog.) Pain, physically and mentally, seems to be the ultimate test of one-upmanship. I think it can best be told as recited by my husband’s story during a recent “man-trip” with his friends and one “friend of a friend” that was invited to come along that unbeknownst to them was a “one-upper”. After a long day of driving my husband had remarked that his back was hurting and lamented that it was because of previously breaking his back from earlier-in-life “race-day’ injuries. While my husband was in no way attempting to elicit a response other than to lament on his own pain the “one-upper” immediately spoke up and said, “Well, I died!” …to which my husband laughed as if thinking this guy was trying to be funny. He wasn’t. He proceeded to bring photos out of him near-death with tubes running from him. An intensely dramatic response to someone’s simple lament of a backache. While this example is laughable the reality of physical or mental pain is not humorous at all and only made worse by the denial of treatment because you are diminishing your pain as not being as bad as another. Better said a “suck it up” approach. I attempted this approach for many years of my life and finally realized that sucking it up had gotten me to nearly 300 pounds. It was in finally reaching for both the mental and physical help that I needed that I would resolve this pain and live the life I was meant to live all along. Regardless of how bad someone else I knew had it. In truth, it was the idea that I did not have it “as bad” as others or had faired better that I allowed “it” to go on for so many years.

Diminished

I would be remiss to not include the one area of my life that has been affected by all of the one-ups that life has to offer. I have not struggled with pain or pleasure by my definition or yours; the defining moments of my life have always felt diminished by the “norm”. This is truly where growing older has been my therapy. I spent so much of my 20’s and 30’s feeling less-than all of those around me that had gone “off” to college and would speak of the tales of those college days. My college experience was much less about “tales” and far more about “torment”. I would work full-time, raise a child, and study in between it all to earn my education. I would hold back on reciting my alma mater as it would not be as revered as the Ivy League colleges that many of my colleagues had the benefit of attending. The greatest tale of this blog is that somewhere in my 40’s I realized…”Wait…I am sitting in the same boardroom, with the same or better title than “them”. Could it be that my small college education ended me in the same exact place without the sorority stories, without the tales from the dorms and ultimately without the expense of a fancy education? YES!!! It did! It was in this revelation and many more that I would realize that my life experiences were not “less than” and instead come to acknowledge that they were richer, they were grander and they ultimately were unlike anything you could pay for in therapy, education or experience.

I was thrust into this world diminished on the surface but defined on the inside. I would never be a product of my environment. I would never be diminished by the trailer I grew up in, the status of my parent’s dysfunctional relationship, or my teenage choices. I would, however, be defined by all of them proving to myself and anyone that cared to take notice that I was going to be greater because of it, not despite it. These are not one-up stories you tell to the masses, they are pulled out like the gems they are to lift others up that have “assumed” that you and your current state are “more than” theirs. It is in these moments that I revel in the story of “one-undering” someone by motivating them with the idea that “If I can do it you CAN too!” It is the ultimate opposite of “one-upping”.

I have to respect where I am at any moment in time and that means that I acknowledge my pain and my pleasure equally as I define it, I no longer diminish it. I am empathetic by nature and will always listen to others’ stories of worse or better however I will always keep in check that their journey is not mine and my journey is the one I am here to live and define as worth living. I know pain, I know the pleasure it is not learned or defined by any other standard than my own. Own it…I do.

Life as I define it – L.

I watched a TED Talk featuring Nigel Marsh on “How to make work-life balance work” and thought it was worth sharing as it inspired so many of my own thoughts and opinions on the topic.

Never has there been a time in our world where work and life have collided as millions of us are working from “home”. Gone are the days of punching in and out at the office as the office is now where we wake, where we eat our meals, where we live. It is fair to say that if you didn’t have balance before you are lacking it now…immensely.

As a leader I have preached work-life balance to my team and have worked hard to find it. I absolutely practice what I preach although not perfect I know the foundational points of the TED Talk are true and so I share them and my exponential thoughts on each with you.

  • If you don’t design your life someone else will design it for you and you may not like their idea of balance. #word
  • Never put the quality of your life into the hands of a commercial corporation. (It is not your companies responsibility to provide you balance. It is their responsibility to find the best candidate for the job to get it done efficiently.)
  • We have to be responsible for setting the boundaries we want in our life. #word
  • You have to elongate the time frame beyond a day; approach balance in a balanced way.
  • The small things matter.
  • The smallest investment in the right places can radically transform the quality of your relationships and life.

Six transformational statements, profound. This is what it is really all about. I have succeeded at some of the six and are learning how to solve where I have failed. The point is that I practice, I take a run at each of these on a daily basis.

The responsibility of having freedom is the act of choosing. Then why do we choose and then begrudge that choice? As if we can’t make yet another decision to change courses?

You decide, ultimately. If you don’t want to work in an office, don’t. If you don’t want to work weekends, don’t. If you don’t want to “drink the kool-aid”, don’t. Find what works for you. Don’t begrudge others that DO just because you don’t. You make everyone miserable when you DO what you DON’T want to…you decide for YOU.

It is YOUR life, YOUR journey, make sure you are getting more out of it then it is getting out of you. I give this career advice often. I believe that if you go about work, career or truly any task with this mindset everyone wins. If you are getting out of it what serves you best, you will serve the job better. If you are a slave to the job or task, nothing is achieved. You lose and so does the benefactor.

Last but not least is the idea of balance in your day, week, month…life. Decide what you want it to look like and then execute that vision. Understand that every day will not look the same and allow time to find the equilibrium. Sometimes in attempting to balance we realize that we have to remove from one side or another as all that we want is simply not possible. Again this is where choice is your responsibility. Right-side your ship to allow for smooth sailing.

I am reminded frequently by the wise duo that I call “The Aunts” that we all have the same 24 hours in a day; how we spend it is ours to decide. You will ALWAYS have the time however what you choose to do with it…well that is your responsibility. Own it.

Life as I balance it – L.

Aunt’s are important, no doubt about it. What I have been privy to in my life is that more than important, Aunt’s are vital. While I value my Uncle’s they have not had the profound affect in my life that my Aunt’s have and as I look around me I realize that Aunt’s are truly our second Mom’s. They stand beside and stand-in when necessary. They are the backing of the Mother, necessary because we all know we don’t listen to our Mother’s. I have had the pleasure of having the most amazing Aunt’s and being an Aunt myself. I have also had the privilege of witnessing the dedication of Aunt’s that have become Mom’s as if it were their calling.

I have four Aunt’s and each of them have been profound in my life:

My youngest Aunt, only years older than me, was a key figure in my teenage years offering friendship and guidance when I needed it the most. We shared the greatest laughs, some that I still remember vividly today and still bring a smile to my face. She taught me how to keep a smile despite your circumstances as I watched her always make the best of what she was given…and later…taken away.

My closest Aunt has truly been a second mother to me and in most cases standing in where my parents were absent. Not taking away from my own parents, she was simply ALWAYS there. She cared about me as if I were one of her own, and has made me believe I am, I was and always will be. Her children became my brothers and sisters which was a much needed respite for an only child and today still provide that reach I would be lonely without.

My last two Aunt’s are called “The Aunts” because they are a pair and one is only as great as the other. They are the perfect pairing of kindness and sarcasm. They are honest and humorous. They are gracious and critical. They are the perfect yin and yang. They push me hard knowing I need it and yet offer a loving understanding when I cannot push any more. The secret weapon of the duo is the one that is so much like my Mom that I have to take a deep breath at times for the breath that is taken away when she makes a familiar look, response or shares that part of our history that only she could know.

I am so blessed to be an only child with a HUGE family thanks mostly to the Cuban side of my family. As much as I have enjoyed my own Aunt’s I have also had the privilege of being an Aunt to many. Many of my nieces have moved on to their own lives however there is the one that continues to hold me close and reminds me of my own need for Aunt’s in life. The only thing better than understanding the “case for Aunt’s” is seeing when my niece understands the case so well that she takes on her role as Aunt as expected, stepping in without being asked and passing on this important relationship to yet another niece or nephew. She is repeating what was done for her and is blessed for having an Aunt that gave her life, for the sake of making sure hers and her siblings were uninterrupted.

Last but never least, are those Aunt’s that are titled by heart and not bloodline. As an only child and only having a brother-in-law my children were never meant to have Aunt’s. However, don’t tell them that because they know a world full of Aunt’s that have been as significant in their lives as if blood, if not more. Cousins that became sisters became their first Aunt’s. Best Friends that love my children as if they were their own became Aunt’s. Best of all is that MY Aunt’s immediately took the responsibility of a second-generation of Aunt-rearing that has served my children well.

So today I make a “Case for Aunts” the closest and the most extended. Today I am reminded that without my Aunt’s I would be “less than”. I am better because of them, they are changed because of me and together we are one. One…whole and never apart.

Life as I appreciate it – L.

This was the reality check I was given as I found myself in a puddle of tears. “Even concrete cracks” is the resolve to understanding why even the strongest of the strong humans crack. In this case it was me, cracked wide open. While the release is necessary the reality causes as much reeling as the pressure rising to its boiling point within. We easily forget this when we are at that boiling point which tends to be our weakest moments.

My crack started to form as I was rounding two weeks post-op and still dealing with daily pain. The key to managing pain is to find a baseline that you can tolerate however it is in that tolerance that you wear out. When you are in active pain, it too is exhausting, however with a remedy it is resolved. When you are managing a “pain baseline” the tolerance requires a managed effort. This is effort that requires energy from stores that are depleted. At this point it goes beyond the physical and begins to overwhelm you mentally making everything bigger than it is and the entire environment becomes overwhelming. It is in these moments that you hope you are surrounded by “your village”. I was. I am.

Healing may be the biggest effort I make in my lifetime. This physical healing has unfortunately become familiar to me however regardless of how many times I repeat the process it does not get easier. I am healing faster this time, but I am no less exhausted and emotionally spent. I knew what was coming and how to make the best of it and that preparation may have been my secret weapon. I can only imagine where I would be right now if I had not prepped. My village tells me how much worse it could be…that does not help. My village tells me how well I am doing…that does not help. What helps? Sometimes just crying it out or screaming irrationally; any outlet as for all the input there has to be a release. Where is that written in the textbooks? Where is that in the hospital discharge notes? It needs to be states somewhere, “when it all gets to be too much just scream!” Ha, yes that is a prescription worth noting.

…and that is all I have to say about that.

Life as I live it – L.