Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unplugged Take Two

I haven't talked much about my birthday this year.  It wasn't much of a celebration, but the dinners I did have in honor of that special day were delicious and much appreciated.  I will get the photos up soon, but I am still playing around with my Adobe Photoshop.  I have this bad habit of trying to make everything perfect when I know it is possible to do so.  It started back when I was really young.  My parents said they were a bit worried because I wasn't talking when I should have been.  Turned out my speech was a little delayed, but my first three words were pickle, bracelet, and hippopotamus. Dad said I never liked to say a word until I could say it just right. There's a lot of truth to that because, to this day, it drives me crazy when people mispronounce words.  Don't worry, I don't judge you if you make a mistake (I make mistakes, too), but inside I am dying to correct the mispronunciation. I only do this with my parents. You're safe, promise.

What does this little aside have to do with my photos? Well, I just know that I can make them look better than they look right now, so I want to learn how to do that before I write a blog about them. At this point, it might be the year 2014 before I master this and I might just have to forget about trying to be perfect and just capture the memory. I am just not ready to give up just yet.

If you could see the photos, you'd see that nothing too terribly exhilarating occurred during my celebrations.  You'd definitely see that I ate a ton of cake, ice cream, ice cream cake and ice cream pie (Yeah, have I mentioned that it's a good thing that I am close with a certified diabetes educator because all of that sugar is surely not good for me.  But, I also recognize that diabetes is a serious disease that I do not want to get, so I'll post later on what I am doing to help cut down on my sugar.) There was one really exciting part of my birthday, though.

I got 14 birthday cards in the mail!!

 In this age, that is extremely rare. And it made SO happy to get handwritten wishes from friends and family members!  Don't get me wrong, the texts, Facebook messages and phone calls made my day special too. It's just an extra measure of thoughtful to send a card -- and my face lit up when something besides a bill was present in my mailbox.

Last year, I received a number of cards and set out to reciprocate the thoughtfulness. But, life happened. I sent cards, lots of cards, but only to Dude. Now, it's my turn to make YOU feel just as special as those who sent me cards made me feel. You deserve it.

Be on the lookout for mail from me around your birthday. I can't promise it will always be a legit birthday card because Hallmark is seriously lacking in their selection these days, but it will be a handwritten wish from me to you.

And, maybe one day before my next birthday, you'll see those photos....

Monday, January 28, 2013

No pain. No gain.

I remember the pain I felt after hearing the news of Dude's death like it was yesterday.  It literally felt like my heart and my body had been ripped in half and would never heal. After I finished screaming at the horror of it all(in my office -- awesome.), I could barely talk, barely breathe and I was certain that not one but two funerals would need to be planned -- his and mine. The tears wouldn't stop coming, but I had to keep it together in some fashion because I had a job to do. I had to make sure all of our college friends and his law school friends  heard the news. I also had to step in and help Mike's mom and brothers with anything they needed. In the weeks that followed, I spent a lot of time on the phone and in coffee shops. Many of his friends who I didn't know that well requested to meet with me to send their condolences and discuss what happened. It was as if I was on auto-pilot. I told the same story over and over, numb to its impact. I spent time dodging questions about details that Dude wouldn't want shared and sounding like a broken record as I repeated, "He wasn't himself.  Focus on the man you remember him to be. To tell you all the details of the last four months would be to tell you of a person you wouldn't recognize. He wasn't himself at the end.  Remember him for who he was." An unsatisfactory answer that didn't do much to help with our friends' pain, but it was the truth.

As I repeated that statement over and over, I thought to myself "He wasn't who he was and because of this tragedy I have no idea who I am anymore."  Not only had I spent the majority of the last year doing everything I could to take care of him and love him, Dude was my best friend, a huge part of me.  Now he didn't need me anymore.  He was happy and healthy. But, I needed him. I was devastated.  A huge part of me is gone. Forever.

The pain was so deep and unlike anything I'd ever felt before. One night I texted his brothers "Advil doesn't help."  For some reason,  I foolishly thought Advil would help alleviate the pain of this heartache. After talking to his youngest brother for awhile, the pain started to dissipate.  Talking to his family is one of the biggest helps when the pain gets intense.  Maybe it is because they understand the intensity of the pain? Maybe it is because they are my connection to my best friend? I don't know, but it helps. I went to the doctor for a yearly check-up two months after tragedy and he knew something was wrong.  He commented that I was so tense he could barely examine me. I told him what happened thinking he would surely give me some medicine to relax me. Nope. He wanted me to be able to feel the pain because confronting the emotions and the grief was the best way for me to begin the healing process. He felt the drugs would just numb the feelings. If things got worse and I felt trapped or like a danger to myself, I'd come back, but I've been able to manage without the drugs -- and a little wine every once and awhile. It was/is necessary for me to feel the pain to move forward.

 Almost 10 months into this grief journey, there are still times of intense pain.  Dude's birthday. Thanksgiving. Christmas. My own birthday - he always made sure to do something special for my birthday.  All of those times make sense -- times when his presence is clearly missed.  Lately, I've been slammed with unexpected waves of intense grief.  The first time caught me off guard.  The second time was a little worse.  This last time I felt like the intense grief lasted all.night.long even though I'm sure it didn't.  I wanted to attempt to figure out a pattern so I could learn how to best manage the emotions if and when they come again. I realized the intense pain/grief has recently returned when my friends have celebrated major events in their lives -- engagements, weddings or babies. This now makes sense because they are a reminder of events Dude will miss. He will not meet my future husband. He won't attend my wedding. He will never know my children. He is/was such a huge part of my life and not having him at those major events makes me very sad.

Grief sneaks up on me but I am learning to manage it when it does.

No pain. No gain. That expression applies to working out in the gym and to grief.

{and even to Jesus. Jesus had to die on the cross for those who believe in Him to live forever. Talk about pain for our gain!}

 I'd rather kiss the pain goodbye, but I know it is helping me to deal with this tragedy and helping me to move forward.

In this case, pain is gain.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To be continued

I seriously considered not posting my grief posts anymore.  I figured most people don’t want to read about it anymore even though I’ve noticed my readership goes up on grief posts.  I didn’t want this to turn into a grief blog.  There are plenty of those out there and I am so thankful for every one that I have stumbled upon and sadly, have now added to my daily reads.  They help me.  They validate my feelings.  They make me feel normal.  Grief books, counselors and the like tell me my feelings are normal, but sometimes I feel a little too pushed by well meaning people in my life that I start to question the definition of normal.  I have to remember that their definition of normal is quite different than my definition of normal these days.  Those that seem to be pushing a little too hard have not been rocked by this tragedy.  And thank God for that.  As many of us who were closest to Mike remark time and time again, we don’t want anyone to have to feel the pain we are experiencing.  I recently heard a statistic that more military members have died by suicide this year than in combat.  Upon hearing that information, I felt punched in the gut all over the again.  The intense pain comes rushing back again even if just for a moment.  I feel for those family members and friends of the lost.  I never wanted to know the pain, but I do.

During my internal debate over whether or not to keep posting my grief posts, I remembered the reason I started this blog.  I occupy this little space on the web to document my life.  Unfortunately, this tragic experience is now a part of my life.  As much as I’d like to turn back time and pretend this never happened, it did.  Other people document life altering events -- like pregnancies, illnesses...And, I have to remember that I write for myself not for my readers.  I’m not ashamed to admit, though, that it is encouraging to get comments and likes as a show of support.  I know this tragedy will affect me for the rest of life and I want to remember all of these feelings, small victories, and even the setbacks. 

When speaking with a friend the other day, she commented, “Jess, you have one heck of a testimony through this experience.”  This is so true.  I have never been in such a low spot in my life, but I’ve also never felt God’s presence more.  Another friend remarked, “You will always grieve the loss of Mike, but your deep grief will start to dissipate when you feel like you can be joyful again; when you feel like you can have a bond like that again.”  There is a whole lotta truth to that, too.  I have many fun events on the books for this year and I am starting to be able to have conversations without referring to this situation at all.  This used to take so much focus it was exhausting to talk to people.  And, if you know me, that’s saying something.  I love talking!  But, the conversations are flowing with much more ease these days.  So, slowly but surely, I am adjusting.  I may not have ever realized that had it not been for this blog.

This blog has been a tremendous help for my grief.  I have written many posts that I didn’t publish because I feared what others might think.   I’m done with that.  I am going to clean up those posts and publish them.  If you are looking for lots of juicy details, you’re not likely to get them.  I will protect Mike, our family, and our friends until the day I die.  What will be on this blog is truth in my life -  the times of deep sorrow, of great joy, and all those inbetween.  So, my grief posts will continue (with splashes of other parts of life scattered about).  I NEED to write them for me.  But, of course, if you know someone they might help, please, please pass them along.  I hope to show you (and myself) in future posts that my smile is not quite whole but I am continuing to grow into the woman that God has created me to be – through the joy, sorrow, and mundane.

To be continued… 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Have A Dream

My dad tells fascinating stories about growing up as a black man in the South during the peak of segregation.  He has story after story of being discriminated against, being relegated to the "colored" water fountain, outhouse bathroom, or dark, back door entrance to the movie theater.  His father, my grandfather who I never had the opportunity to meet, owned a construction business in North Carolina.  My grandmother and grandfather were both college educated.  My dad is college educated and his nine brothers and sisters are as well.  Even with these privileges, my dad actively experienced segregation.

He recalls listening to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the Mall so many years ago.  Inauguration Day is a day to set aside political bias, to celebrate democracy and freedom in America.  It is a day to be proud to be an American.  We don't have royalty in this country, but the pomp and circumstance that exists in the ceremonial transition or reinstatement of power is something to be cherished, something to be reflected upon.  While President Obama does not necessarily refer to himself as the "first African-American/Black President" as most of us who are bi-racial do not identify with one race over the other, I did find it fitting that his inauguration took place on the federal holiday that celebrates a man who worked so hard to break down the racial boundaries and to allow all of those who have a dream to fulfill it.  I can't help but think that Dr. King was smiling down from heaven as he watched the events that unfolded in my hometown. I can't help but think that Dr. King was proud knowing his efforts were surely not in vain.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, but have I ever shared my dream with you?  Since I have been a little girl I have dreamed of being the First Lady of the United States.  My former boss always gets upset with me when I say this because she feels that I have the capability to be President.  I don't dispute that I could hold the highest office in the nation, but I don't want to.  I would much rather be First Lady.

 If I ever do claim this title, I'm certain I'd be compared to Michelle Obama.  That's OK with me.  As President Obama said at the Commander in Chief Ball, "Some may dispute the quality of the President, but nobody disputes the quality of the First Lady." We share the same birthday and both have chiseled arms. I love that she is a very active First Lady (not just in the health sense of the word) and an engaging speaker.  (She spoke at my MBA graduation) I also like that she blends affordable clothing with a few couture pieces.  Unfortunately, her "affordable" threads are starting to be outside my reach.  JCrew jacks up the prices every time she makes them famous and hefty price tags are attached to those clothes these days.  Ease up JCrew and be thankful for the increased sales.  Regardless of politics, she is a strong woman and "Mom in Chief".  I wouldn't seek the comparison, but you know how the media is, it would surely be highlighted.  I'd have big shoes to fill. 

The Obamas' dreams have come true.  Dr. King's dream has come/is coming to fruition.  I, too, have a dream.  But, First Lady of the United States or not, I sure hope my husband loves me as much as President Obama appears to love his wife.  I have a dream to be someone's First (and only!) Lady.

I'll keep you posted.....

 This is the White House made out of Legos.  Dude put this together before he died.  I will keep this as a remembrance of him, my dream, and the city/hometown I love.   SHHHH don't tell my future husband about my dream to be First Lady!!  That's way too much pressure on a man!!  If it happens, awesome.  If not, life will still be pretty sweet!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Alive.....

Every January 17th, my parents recall the horrific day in 1982.  We were sitting at my birthday dinner this year and my mom remarked how I entered the world fighting and have been fighting just as hard this year as I did when I was an infant.  You see, the doctors did not expect me to live.  On more than one occasion, they told my parents that "this was it."  But each time, I pulled through and survived.  Once they were confident I'd survive, the doctors told my parents I would never walk or talk.  Obviously, I proved them wrong.  I've had to work really hard and I've had to fight, but I've done it.  My mom was right to compare my initial days and years to this past year of my life.  Ever since Dude died, I've been fighting.  Fighting my grief.  Fighting to keep going.  Fighting to accept the fact that the hopes and dreams I had are not necessarily shattered but are different now. Fighting to adjust to this new normal.  Fighting to get into law school.  There have been days when I would just rather be where he is.  Not because I want to die, I don't want to die, but because I miss him and want to be with him. There were days when I was sure I would die.  I would never take my own life, but I was certain my heart would not withstand the pain.  But just as God allowed me to fight and live when I was first born, He has done the same thing now.  A huge part of me is gone.  I am different because of what has happened to me.  But, I am meant to be here.  God has a plan for me and the plan does not involve meeting up with Dude anytime soon.

I am alive even though a part of me has died -- "The Hurt and the Healer" by MercyMe.

I am now officially older than Dude.  He never made it to age 31.  I have, and although I did not want to celebrate my birthday, I decided that was not the right approach.  Despite the fact that this past year has been saturated with sadness, every year of life God gives me is a gift.  That's something to celebrate!  So, I've had a few birthday celebrations. And, a lot of cake and ice cream!

{ If I can figure out how to use my new Adobe Photoshop, I'd upload the photos and show you.  I will eventually, but for now, I want to be sure to document all of my thoughts and feelings}

The birthday wishes and joy that surrounded me this weekend reminded me that yes, a part of me has died --- but part of me is still here, too.  And, I am supposed to be here.   I wasn't supposed to live when I was born at 26 weeks, but I did.  God has something special for me.  I don't know what His plan is for me.  I thought I knew, but the world as I knew it blew wide open on April 3, 2012.  Dude left, but I'm still here. As I blew out my trick candles on my birthday cake, I made wish after wish each time that flame reignited.  I don't know if the wishes I made will come true.  I certainly hope they do.  But, I do know that God has a plan. And it is good.  It is better than I can imagine.

I'm alive even though a part of me has died
Take this heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the Healer collide
 "The Hurt and the Healer" MercyMe.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

30 in 30

Thirty lessons I've learned in my first 30 years....

1. Believe.  In God.  In yourself.  In others.
2. Develop relationships with people who can give you nothing in return. You will learn a lot from them.
3. Don't live to work. Work to live.
4. You are smart and well educated. Use your brain. Education opens doors.
5. Don't waste opportunities because you're afraid of where they might take you.
6. You can never love a person too much as long as they love you back.
7. There will be people you love or want to be friends with who don't feel the same way for whatever reason.  There is a reason even if you don't know what it is.  Focus your energy on people who care.
8. Never give up. Ever.
9. There will be hard and dark times in your life. The sorrow makes the joy that much sweeter.
10. A drunk girl is not classy.
11. Diamonds can be worn anytime, anywhere - even in the gym.
12. Say no to drugs - illegal, always; prescription unless absolutely necessary.
13. Coffee is gross but is sometimes your best friend.
14. You should probably try to quit drinking Diet Coke.
15. Be kind and slow to anger.  Everyone has something that could bring them to their knees at anytime.
16. Dogs enrich your life in so many ways.
17. Patience may not be your strength but don't use that as an excuse. Be patient with those around you and those you love.
18. Using your credit card for everything allows you to take awesome trips! Rack up those miles!
19. God does answer prayers just not always in the way you expect or want.
20. It is never okay to show your butt crack in public. Ever.
21. Sing, smile, laugh and pray in all circumstances.
22. Always be there for your friends and family even if it seems exhausting and impossible. It will be worth it in the end.
23. Remember the sacrifices your parents have made for you. Be grateful.
24. Do something that scares you. It will either be a growth experience or a good story.
25. Effective communication is one of the most important skills you can learn.
26. Travel. The world does not revolve around you.
27. Just because you don't want to be a stay at home mom doesn't mean you will be a bad mom.  Your kids can learn a lot from watching you develop your career as long as you don't put the career in front of your family.
28. Sports make your life a lot of fun!  Being a Redskins fan is a lesson in loyalty.
29. Your health is critically important. Go to the doctor and the dentist, even though you hate the dentist. Work out, too!
30. Eat cake for breakfast on your birthday. It's just fun!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It IS possible

I've really been trying to hard to embrace this "one day at a time approach". Not only is it absolutely necessary in grief, I've decided it is kind of a good way to live life anyways. I tend to jump ahead to things and miss out on what is right in front of me.  I was born three months early.  I don't like waiting.  I started this blog so I could be more aware of things going on around me and record my feelings and events.  Little did I know that I'd have such a major life changing event to record.  But, I am glad that I have written all of this down.  Occasionally, I go back and see some of the progress I've made.  Admittedly, it is not as much as I'd like to have made, but it is progress -- one.day.at.a.time.

Some days are good days.

Some days it takes all I have to pretend it is a good day.

Some days are bad and I've learned that every once and awhile that is perfectly OK. It takes a lot for me to admit when it is a really bad day, but I am getting better at this and am noticing there are more days and even weeks (!!!) between really bad days.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Dude and what happened, but most days these days the pain is not all consuming and paralyzing like it used to be.

Grief counselors have talked with me about how it is possible for joy and sorrow to mix and mingle with one another. I remember thinking and probably even saying, "Well, that's nice and might be possible for other people, but not for me. FAT CHANCE.  I will be sad forever. I will never be able to be happy again.  It is black and white.  Joy.  Sorrow. But certainly not both."

For once, I am glad to admit that I was wrong.  I have been really intentional about doing things that make me happy these days.  Initially, the good days were tainted with guilt.  The thought that I should be happy when I just lost one of the most important people in my life, and in such a tragic way, was unthinkable.

But, I've been able to do it.

I've cheered loudly at Redskins games.  I've attended baby showers.  I've eaten at a new favorite place with friends and fallen in love with toasted marshmallow milkshakes.  I've been able to have conversations without talking about Mike -- this takes some focus sometimes, but can and has been done.  I've booked travel adventures to see my friends.  I've taken a step to potentially put me on a new path.  I even attended a friend's wedding -- this was a BIG step.  I was very nervous about whether I would just completely lose it!  But, I kept it together and was glad I could be supportive and celebrate a little bit.

This joy mixed with sorrow thing - It IS possible.  This one day at a time business makes me appreciate each and every day and the people God has put in it.

And that is a big step.  And good news.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Thoughts about my upcoming birthday

The truth is I haven’t given it any thought.  Typically, starting January 1, I start proclaiming with great excitement that my birthday is coming up soon.  At least one month before that, I begin putting a plan together for a celebration, numerous celebrations.  Not this year.  I forgot my birthday is  fast approaching until after wishing someone else happy birthday, they replied , “Happy early birthday to you, too!” “Oh yeah, my birthday is coming up, isn’t it? I totally forgot about that!”  I think I forgot on purpose.  I don’t want to remember that I am approaching another year in my life without what I would consider God’s greatest gifts.

When I was younger I used to tell people that I would be married by age 25 and I’d certainly have kids by age 30.  I think I started telling people this when I was six years old.  The proclamation came at such an early age because I experienced my first wedding at age six and I was a junior bridesmaid.  Over the last 25 years, I have been to countless other weddings and my first one is still in  the running for the best one I’ve ever attended!  I wanted the love and the wedding that they had and I told everyone I was going to have exactly that just like they did, at age 25.   When 25 passed, I bumped the age up five years to 30.  That seemed realistic.  After all, my friends were achieving that “goal” so why couldn’t I? The year I turned 30 is now dubbed the worst year of my life.  Most people talk about spending the rest of their life with their best friend.  Well...... In my case, he’s dead.  He died the year I turned 30.  The year I was certain I would achieve that “goal”.

Now, I am about to turn 31.  Still no husband.  No prospects.  No kids.  Not even a dog. (And, no, I can’t just go get a dog. I need help taking care of a dog)  Sure, I’ve been blessed.  I have an amazing condo and am very successful.  I’m not ashamed to admit that.  My success and singleness have afforded me opportunities to travel and to chase after dreams that I might have otherwise had to give up.  But, the thing is I would be willing to give them up.  I would give anything to be a wife and a mother.  Heck, if I had to wait longer for the kids and it was just me, Hubs and the dog that would be such a blessing.  But, no, I guess it is not my turn yet.

I try my best to support my friends in all of their celebrations. Sometimes I go a little overboard for them because I know that as they celebrate their engagements, weddings, and new babies, this is such a special time in their lives and I want to do my part to make it so.  Showers, baby and bridal, are never easy for me.  I feel like I am sitting there staring at the person repeatedly unwrap reminders of things I don’t have.  Facebook makes it hard, too, with photos of happiness strewn all over the page.  One glaring reminder after another of things I want so badly yet don’t have.  Reminders that I feel left out.  I feel selfish even writing this because I am truly happy for my friends.  I would never express my sadness during their big moments because it is not about me.  These are times in their lives that deserve to be shouted from the rooftops and celebrated to the max.  And, I don’t blame them for doing just that.  I absolutely wouldn't miss their celebrations!

But, I want my own celebration, too.  I want to find my teammate, my champion and raise a family with him.

This is a new year and I can’t just sit here and whine about feeling left out.  I have to do something about it.  One friend said to me, “If I had as much money as you do, I’d sign up for every dating site possible.”  I tried not to get too offended.  Just because I can, doesn’t mean I want to.  I have spent hours in years past pouring through online dating profiles and reaching out, only to be rejected.  I once worked with a dating coach who was excited about three prospects for me.  The excitement was fleeting because she found out they were unwilling to date to someone with a disability.  There went that.  Do you know how happy I would be if I didn’t have to spend hours on the computer during the day, then hours on the computer at night just trying to find a date?  Do you know how blessed I would feel if I was introduced to my husband the traditional way?  I know my struggles are not unique, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid.

 I have much to look forward to in 2013.  A couple new babies, a wedding in London, and some trips with friends are already on the books.  But, I’d really like a reason to celebrate something more than my birthday.  Next birthday, I’d like to be able to say I am well on my way to having one of God greatest gifts, my husband.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see what God has in store. In the meantime, I should probably do a little something to celebrate thirty-one (oh.my.goodness.).  Maybe I'll just have a cupcake, a glass of wine, and call it a day.  A birthday.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Rear View Mirror

Happy New Year? The question mark is intentional.

New Year’s Eve is a bit of an illusion.  I heard people say (myself included) “I can’t wait for this year to be over!!" or “I don’t want to let this year go it’s been so good”.  It’s as if the stroke of midnight erases the year left behind and you are given a brand new start. Somehow, I naively thought when the calendar turned, my new start began and all of the pain and struggle of the last year was behind me.

I woke up on January 1, 2013 and didn’t feel new.  I wasn’t all that happy either.  I still have a bunch of stuff hanging over my head from 2012.  It’s nobody’s fault.  It just is.  There are things yet to be done; decisions yet to be made.  The new start that everyone says arrives with a new year didn’t come without some strings from my past.

We had dinner with some good family friends last night. They encouraged me to not look back and just move forward.  On one hand, this is good advice.  On the other hand, it is somewhat dangerous.

Imagine driving without your rear view mirror.  At times, it is extremely important to be able to see what is behind you.  There are things in my past that could sneak up on me and kick me in the butt at any time.  If I am not able to glance at them from time to time, this could cause a dangerous collision.  The loss of Mike will be with me forever. Will it always be a huge, gaping hole?  No.  Dealing with it is easier than it was 9 months ago and I will continue to learn to live with the loss, but he will always be missing from my life from now on.  Mike would not want me to get stuck in the past. Before he died, he told me he wanted me to move forward.  I am and I will continue to do so, but there are lessons to be learned from the past that are important to carry with me as I move along.

One important lesson is to realize that everyone is fighting a hard battle.  Many people were completely puzzled by Mike’s death because he was one of happiest, kindest people they’d ever met.  This is true, but underneath it all, he was suffering immensely.  Having been through this experience, I’ve learned to be more compassionate and kind to those around me. You only see what people are willing to show you and one act of kindness could make a huge difference to someone.  Unfortunately, in Mike’s case, one more act of kindness did not save him, but it might save someone else. 

I’ve also learned to count my blessings and appreciate even the smallest things.  Life can change in an instant.  When life does get turned upside down I know I have incredible support.  I’ve been reminded that God is near to the brokenhearted, He is an ever present help and strength in times of trouble, He is unchanging, and gives peace that is beyond worldly understanding.  I’ve lost some friendships along this journey, but many have been renewed and strengthened beyond belief.  Of course, I want to look back and remember all of these things.

What was meant by the advice I received was that you can’t change the past so accept it and move forward.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned from 2012 is that I am not able to control everything.  Pretty much everything that happened this past year was completely out of my control.  Let me tell you, that is a harsh and humbling lesson to learn - especially when it involves losing someone you deeply love.  I don't believe Mike's death occurred so I could learn the lesson.  Absolutely not.  But, I learned it nonetheless.  Let go, and let God.

My 2013 is not a completely clean slate because some events of 2012 follow me into the new year. There are still things left to complete (like my law school applications which are allllmost done).  I’ll continue to move forward, but am giving myself permission to glance in the rear view mirror every once and awhile.  It’s necessary for safe “driving”.  But, as I embark on the road laid out before me for 2013, Pintrest assisted me with some words to live by:

“Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder”.

So many people have been that to me over the past year; it’s time for me to return the favor.     

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In 2013, I wanna...

I hate making New Year resolutions, but for some reason, I feel compelled to do so every year.  I love to make lists, but never go back and look at them.  I’m not one for structure.  I like to think I am, but in reality, why should one feel the need to stick to a list?  Live a little!

Despite my natural tendencies, maybe if I make a list and put it in cyberspace someone will hold me accountable and ask me how I am doing on my resolutions?  People joke that nothing’s official until it’s on Facebook.  Well, I won’t stick to this list unless it’s on my blog.  So, here goes.

In 2013, I wanna –

* Find a way to curb my sweet tooth. It is out of control. Maybe I should start by quitting cake. Thank goodness Mike’s mom is a certified diabetes educator, but I am hoping I never have to use her services. On second thought, maybe I should enlist her now for some prevention techniques.

* Take off all of the weight I’ve gained thanks to grief indulgences and incredible stress. Twenty pounds has to be gone by April. And, no, that is not extreme weight loss.  I was 20lbs lighter 4 years ago before a 3 week trip to Italy, numerous weddings, and my obsession with cake.

* Start a foundation and/or something extraordinary in memory of Dude. We had been working on one together but it didn’t too far off the ground. So, I’m revitalizing my desire. Not sure what it will be yet, but he deserves something extraordinary so whatever comes together will be exactly that.

* Take more risks

* Find a church home

* Make 3 new friends

I'll report back, but feel free to hold me accountable.
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