Tag Archives: relationships

The Light Through the Cracks

I’m not a naturally optimistic person. My natural reaction is to think about the what-ifs and the worst case scenario. It takes a lot of work for me to look on the bright side of things — and it’s taken me a lot of practice.

I actually have Penelope Joy to thank for teaching me the most important lessons about optimism. I could have been destroyed by what happened to her — by what happened to us. I could have easily said: “See? I told you something bad would happen. I knew my what-if worries were reliable.”

Instead, though, I knew her life needed to matter. I knew that living in the negative parts of her story, of our story, would let too much dark in. It could have destroyed me, it could have destroyed my marriage. And, I’ll tell you what, looking at all of the wonderful about her short little life has made all the difference. It has allowed her light to shine on — breaking through any bit of darkness that makes its way in. Even when I get sad — which happens a lot this time of year — it’s a sadness haloed with light.

Penelope Joy

And that’s what keeps me working toward seeing the light in the darkness. It typically gets easier and easier — and, most of the time, I’m able to find the positive in a situation. Sometimes, like recently, though, things start to slide back to their natural resting state.

Usually, I don’t see it happening. It just … happens. This time Mr. B pointed it out, noting that my reactions to things have been more negative than positive, that I’m just not myself. My gut reaction was to be cranky about him saying that — but I realized it wasn’t judgy or mean-spirited. It was a loving husband noticing something very important about his wife: something was wrong.

What it was, I don’t know. I’m guessing it was a combination of a lot of things: Work is crazy-busy this time of year; I miss my Up North Family; Wink has been keeping me up, and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in a few weeks; it’s an emotional time of year; I don’t have (don’t make) a lot of me time … Like I said, probably a combination of things.

So, here I sit, in the middle of a reset. Resetting my mind. Resetting my focus. And rediscovering positivity — even when the easy option is to settle in with the reactions that come more naturally to me. After all, there are countless wonderful, positive things happening in my life — and they deserve the focus light and attention. They deserve the light.

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Does this mean that everything is going to make me happy? That I won’t have cranky days or get annoyed now and again? That I won’t ever have a negative reaction to something? That I won’t just need to have a big ol’ cry some day(s)? Absolutely not. Because I am a work in progress. And, mainly, because that’s not how life is. Life is meant to be lived and experienced — to its full emotional capacity.

But, taking a positive outlook on life in general and reacting positively to the people and things around me is going to go a lot further in making my world a better, more positive place. I also believe that what I put into the universe is what’s going to come back to me. Sometimes it just takes a little reminder and a slight nudge from someone who loves me to remind me of what I already know.

Plus, I think our world can use as many positive vibes as possible right now. So that’s what I’ll be sending trying to send out into the world whenever I can. Because there is light in the darkness. Because #lovewins.

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This is Alzheimer’s — A Poem

Sometimes I write poems to make things more light
But this poem, I’ll tell you, isn’t about something bright
It’s about a disease that’s so very scary
That has stolen my dad, you may know him as Gary

Alzheimer’s disease is not fun and games
It has real victims with faces and names
It’s more than a joke, “Old Timer’s” they say
If only they knew, they wouldn’t think that’s OK

You see, this disease is so very real
Memories, laughter, hope it can steal
Families are torn apart at the seams
As this disease continues to steal their dreams

I know, I can tell you, it’s stolen a lot
My dad’s not the same, he certainly is not
And neither are we, each of us altered
I wish I could say none of us faltered

But the truth of the matter is that we did
Some people stepped up, some people hid
I try to stay positive, but some days it’s hard
I cry nearly daily, my life has been marred

I miss my dad often and I so miss my mom
This disease has come at her life like a bomb
She’s a civilian casualty of an ugly disease
Her life forever changed, she’s brought to her knees

It’s hard to have hope, to look past today
To know or to feel that all is OK
It’s not, not right now; our family suffers
Alzheimer’s disease carries no buffers

There’s anger and fear and total despair
We don’t know what we’ll find when we visit there
Broken dishes, torn papers, strewn on the floor
The disease keeps taking more and more … and more

No one sees the inner workings of this disease known as Alz
The don’t think it can hit their family and pals
I assure you, it can, it will and it does
It’s more than a word to drive political buzz

We’re proof that it happens when it’s least expected
It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived your life as directed
There’s no getting out, no emergency eject
Once you’re in it, you’re stuck, don’t pass go, don’t collect

Don’t get me wrong, there still is some light
Our family is close, we’ll always be tight
We have our memories and happy thoughts of each other
Mom, dad, child, sister, brother

I know we’ll get through this, we have no option
We’re all too old to be put up for adoption
Facing Alzheimer’s is a hard, hard battle
And even the strongest of families may rattle

It also reminds us to hug others tight
And never to end the night on a fight
Because every moment we have is a gift
Sometimes, my friends, that’s enough for a lift

The hope in the darkness may be hard to find
But it lies in the people who share love, who are kind
The ones who support us, the ones we can call
To help us, to hold us, to listen to us bawl

I share this poem not to make this a joke
I want to make it more digestible for folk
I want my tears and my words to matter
Sharing our suffering may break through the chatter

Not simply a buzz word, the “in” disease of the day
Alzheimer’s disease is not going away
Every 67 seconds someone develops this beast
That’s not a small number, not in the least

If you’re not affected by it just yet
You will be one day, on that I will bet
You may get it yourself or love someone who does
I never thought that’d be true, but for us it sure was

So spend your days loving as hard as you can
Make memories, take photos, laugh lots and hold hands
And know that though dark times may come down the line
The light does remain and through it all it can shine

If you’re interested in making a difference by contributing to the Fight to End Alzheimer’s, please consider making a donation to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This money is used for research and to spread awareness about this disease. You can donate to Gary’s Gang here. And, if you’re interested in learning about Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website. 

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An Unselfish Motherly Love

Today is the day I’ve been dreading for quite some time. Being a childless mother on Mother’s Day is, perhaps, one of the most difficult things a woman can experience.

Whether through infertility, miscarriage, death or any other loss, losing a child steals from you so many experiences you’d been dreaming about and longing for — and one of them is the rite of passage that is Mother’s Day.

Last year, Mr. B took me out for my first Mother’s Day brunch. And we were talking about that precious baby growing inside of me and all the years we’d have with him/her. What would our baby be like? Whose characteristics would our precious Pickle have? I thought I’d have dozens more Mother’s Days to celebrate.

It wasn’t long after that when we found out about Penelope Joy’s heart defect. And it was way, way too soon after that when we held Penelope Joy in our arms for the last time.

My family

My family, the day before Penelope Joy died.

I’ve said it before: I don’t feel like a mom. Because I didn’t get any of the experiences moms are supposed to have: taking our baby home from the hospital, spending sleepless nights with a cranky baby, watching her take her first steps, snapping that ubiquitous first-day-of-school photo, talking to her about boys (or girls), helping her with her homework, sending her off to prom, watching her dance with her father at her wedding, holding my first grandbaby. I didn’t get any of those experiences with Penelope Joy — I will never get any of those experiences with Penelope Joy.

Just because I don’t feel like a mom, though, doesn’t mean I’m not a mom. And I say this for my benefit as much as I do yours. Being a mom is so many things. For some, it’s messy diapers, homework help and bedtime kisses. For me — short-lived as it was — motherhood was about being there for Penelope Joy and loving her through her very short 38 days on this planet. For me, being a mom was knowing when to let go. Because holding on was hurting my baby. Because holding on was selfish.

You see, being a mom is, ultimately, about love. Big, selfless love that always puts someone’s needs above its own. And no matter how desperately we wanted Penelope Joy with us or how hard we loved her, we knew that she was hurting and that she was the one suffering. We knew that we had to say good-bye. And we loved her enough to let her go.

So, yeah, I am a mom. A childless mom. I will always be a mom. Because to deny my motherhood is to deny that Penelope Joy existed — and to deny that she mattered. Because she did. She does. She always will. Penelope Joy made me a mom — the best gift I’ve ever received. And for that I will always be grateful.

Collage of me holding P.J.

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Flashback Friday: Six Months Ago Today

Some wedding shots

I never tire of looking through our wedding pictures. They are perfect reflections of the immense amounts of joy and love we were feeling that day.

Six months ago I married the kindest, strongest, most generous man I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. And I am so blessed, and so honored, to call him “husband.”

An excerpt of the vows I gave Mr. B that day:

I wasn’t expecting you. I couldn’t possibly have planned for you. If I were writing this love story, I probably couldn’t have written you. But you have been the most welcome blessing and gift of chance that I have ever received ….

You have come into my life and helped me write a happily ever after that I didn’t know could exist …

I fell in love with your gentleness, your kindness. And with those warm, welcoming arms of yours that have come to mean home …. Bobby, where I am weak you are strong. And when I struggle to be the person I want to be, you hold me up ….

I look forward to living many more adventures for many, many years to come with my partner, my best friend and the love of my life by my side. I can’t promise it’s always going to be fun. I can’t promise it’s always going to be easy. But I can promise that there will always be love. And gummy bears ….

You know that I’m a little obsessive when it comes to planning and looking at all the “what ifs” before moving forward. But with you? To quote myself the day after I met you, “ … all I want to do is jump and dance and dive right in.” I can’t wait to jump and dance and dive with you. (Mr. B), I am so glad it’s you. I love you. So big.

My love for this man grows bigger, deeper, stronger every day. I’m so lucky — and so very happy — that he is my partner in life. For always. And forever.

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Stuff and Things

A roundup of randamity. Also known as the randomness of what’s been going on in my life and what’s been floating around in my head:

  • I ran a hole in my favorite pair of running shoes. Sadly, my go-to running store didn’t have any in my size (not my favorite shoe, not any shoe). After way too many emotions about a pair of shoes, I tracked down one pair in the city. Unfortunately, the colors are … well … they speak for themselves:
New shoes

Love the shoes. Don’t love the colors.

  • My favorite springtime running jacket — from my first half marathon (in 2011) — no longer fits comfortably over a growing Baby B belly and, mostly, growing Baby B boobs. I zipped it up Saturday and could barely breathe; there was NO WAY I was going to be able to run in it:
Running jacket not fitting

I am the most sad about this jacket (temporarily) not fitting me. (Apparently the mirror needs cleaning — please ignore.)

  • This weekend, I was due for nine miles as part of my Gazelle Girl Half Marathon training. I was really hoping to get in 10 miles, though — knowing that I could get in 10 at least a couple of times between now and April 13 would leave me feeling more comfortable about the race run. Well, Mr. B wanted to go for a run Saturday morning. Always happy to oblige, I said “of course!” And we went out for two miles together. After he left for work, I laced up the new shoes and headed out for my planned training run. I got in my 10 miles. But, it wasn’t pretty. The first eight miles were good. I felt good — mentally and physically. But at about 8.5, everything started hurting. And my IT band gave me the first fit it’s ever given me since I started running. It was horrible pain. But I limped/ran/jogged/walked through my last 1.5 miles to make it to 10. Only when I was driving home did it hit me that I’d actually run 12 miles Saturday. No wonder it was so hard on my legs: it’s been a long, long time since I’ve run that much in one day. I’m proud of my 10 miles. Slow and painful as it was (for me), I’m proud of that run. Because I finished it. For me and the little one:
on my run

A smile at mile 7. Before everything started screaming.

  • I am blessed with the most wonderful husband. He’s kind, compassionate, generous and loving. And he puts up with a lot of emotions from me (which have only been made more “interesting” lately). But, best of all? He gives the best IT band massage in all the land. It hurts oh-so bad. He doesn’t even get mad at me when I  accidentally smack at him when it hurts too much. He’s so much better than my foam roller.
  • This weekend Mr. B and I head north to spend Easter with my family. I’m so very much looking forward to it. I’ve been feeling homesick lately — a feeling I’m thinking is only going to get worse as the pregnancy continues. (It’s SO WEIRD going through all of this without my mom by my side.) There will be lots of family time and lots of yummy food. And Son-Rise Service at my mom’s church. I’m not an overly churchy person, but there is just something about Easter that I’ve always enjoyed. My favorite songs are Easter songs. Especially these ones:
  • Since I’ve told people that Mr. B and I are expecting a darling Baby B, I’ve had a lot of interesting reactions. While the reactions have been mostly happy and excited, I’ve heard my fair share of “Wow! You work fast!” — as if our family planning decisions are anyone’s business but our own. It’s quite bothersome that anyone would want to steal one tiny ounce of the joy and over-the-moon excitement that Mr. B and I are feeling. Letting it roll off my skin feels so good. Because we couldn’t love this baby more. And, like our entire love story, Baby B is happening at exactly the right time — for us.
  • I’ve also had several people wonder about how I feel about pregnancy weight gain. “After all that hard work you put in to lose weight, you’re just going to gain it all back.” That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard because:
    • Part of the reason I wanted to lose weight and get healthy was so that I’d be able to have a baby (or babies) some day. Because I wanted a healthy pregnancy and to give my child the best possible start he/she could have.
    • I lost 100 pounds. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to gain back 100 pounds during this pregnancy.
    • Getting my life in order, taking care of myself, eating right and losing weight has given me all of the tools I need to take care of myself before, during AND after this pregnancy. For me and my family.
    • Whatever weight I’ll gain because of this baby is weight I’m happy to carry. Because I’m growing an actual human being. And I am proud of what my body is doing for this baby.
    • My weight gain (or lack thereof) during this pregnancy is no one’s business by mine, my husband’s and my doctor’s. Trust me, I’m all over it. I do enough worrying for all of us.
  • My tiredness is starting to fade. Instead of “needing” a nap every day when I get home from work, I’m operating on just two or three naps a week. Sadly, the bazillion trips to the bathroom a day are not waning. I drink a lot of water, so I’ve always been a frequent flier to the bathroom. But this? It’s ridiculous.
  • I am already so very much in love with this baby.
  • Some days, at the end of the day, when all is quiet and life is calm, I find myself just sitting on the couch thinking about my life. Full of disbelief that this really is my life. Married to my best friend — and the best person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know (not to mention lucky enough to get to spend my life with). Expecting our first child. Working in a job I love that teaches me something new every day. Surrounded by family who are friends and friends who are family — people who want the best for me, who bring out the best in me. Even on the worst of days, my life is blessed so big. And I am so humbly and unbelievably grateful.

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A New Year’s Eve Wish

at navy pier in 2012

Ringing in 2012 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

A year ago on this very day, I was ringing in the new year with my boyfriend of three months on Navy Pier. Today, I eagerly await 11:30, when I’ll join this same man — my husband — for a New Year’s Eve walk to ring in what’s sure to be another adventure-filled, life-changing year. I love you so very much, Mr. B, and I cannot wait to see where this next year takes us.

Life is full of wonderful, interesting surprises that change your whole world. Mr. B was one of them, and 2012 was most definitely our year. Above all, this year will go down in the B Family History Book as one filled with love and laughter and light. It also will be one that taught me an important lesson:

Be open to life’s surprises because you can’t always plan wonderful — sometimes it just finds you, and if you’re too busy planning, you just might miss it.

I promise that my annual year-in-review post is coming. Just not yet — there’s still some living left to do in 2012.

But, for now, I leave you with this:

A wish for a new year full of laughter and light, new adventures and memories, hope and faith. And love, always love.

Tell me, what did 2012 mean to you? And what are you most looking forward to in 2013?

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Practicing Self Love

As Jan. 1 (FAST!) approaches, talk of New Year’s resolutions are everywhere: news reports, magazine covers, Facebook feeds, blog posts … you name it. But you won’t really see me talk about them here.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Haven’t really ever, and I don’t plan on doing any this year. They don’t work for me. I’m of the opinion that every day is the start to a “new year” — every minute, really. FOR ME, goals that are worth setting are worth starting right now.*

That being said, Mr. B and I have set a list of things we want to do in 2013. They range from adventures we want to have to foods we want to taste. (I have a feeling, based on this list, that 2013 is going to be life changing.)

There’s also something I have started to be more cognizant of in the recent past — and something I plan to continue to work on in the coming year.

Confession time:

Sometimes, I’m not kind to myself. I say things that aren’t nice, productive or helpful. And I put A LOT of pressure on myself for perfection — perfection I know doesn’t even exist. (Set yourself up for failure, much, Kimi B?)

So, lately, I’ve been trying to be nicer to myself by:

  • Not saying mean things about myself when I’m alone or when I’m with other people — even if it’s meant completely jokingly (It’s hard some days.)
  • Letting Mr. B touch my bare belly (Admittedly, it’s sweet, and I kinda like it.)
  • Going a little easy on myself and not fretting about an unexpected rest day
  • Actually taking rest days
  • Making “me” time that isn’t filled with “STUFF” or lists — even if it means the dishes sit in the sink for a little longer than I’d like, or the laundry remains unwashed for one more day (Reading for fun, warm bubble baths and giant sweatpants have found their way back into my life.)
  • Accepting compliments (Always a weak spot, I’m working on it.)
  • Recognizing that it’s OK to want to be complimented on things other than my brains or my sense of humor
  • Taking time to appreciate how far I’ve come and the gifts I’ve given myself over the years: education, health, wellness, adventure …

So, while I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, I do recognize that I can resolve to be nicer to myself every day of every year — including on Jan. 1.

“If someone in your life talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you would have left them long ago.” ~Carla Gordon

*Please realize that I know setting New Year’s resolutions does work for some people. And if that’s what gets someone to work toward their goals, I say “bravo!” But, it just doesn’t work for me. I know; I’ve tried.

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