Friday, December 30, 2016

Good Bye 2016; here's to a Joyful 2017

2016 is almost over. This is the time of year people start talking about their New Year Resolutions, starting fresh, or moving on.

I'm not much for resolutions, and I really don't believe in "fresh starts," but I have been intrigued by the idea of picking a word or theme by which to live the next year - My One Word . While this is a faith based campaign, my personal reason for doing this is really to just be more purposeful in my daily living in 2017. So, what's my one word for 2017?


I want to do things that bring me joy, purchase only things that bring me joy, get rid of things (and people) that don't bring me joy, and share my joy with others. I want to be joyful in all aspects of my life.

Now, I think some of this is going to be a real challenge for me. I'm generally a happy person, but am I joyful? I'm not sure. I'm certainly going to make a conscious effort in 2017 to be joyful. I'm going to start by getting rid of many things that don't bring me joy. I have a lot of stuff - clothes, kitchen things, stuff people have given me that I don't really love but have felt guilty about letting go. I have to let go of things that don't bring me joy.

I'm also not really sure what activities truly bring me joy. Earlier this week, a friend asked me what I like to do when I'm not at work or with my kids. I had a difficult time answering him. I realize that over the last 25 years, I stopped doing many things that had brought me joy in the past. Why? Well, because the thing I liked most was being with Jeff, and he didn't like some of the other things I liked to do. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about the compromises I made. This is what adults do when they want to have a relationship, and honestly, being with Jeff brought me so much joy. It didn't matter if we were sitting in bed looking at our phones together, watching Supernatural, or talking about our days. I loved being with him when we took the kids to movies or out to eat. He brought me so much joy.

But he's not here any more, at least not physically. And I have to figure out again what brings me joy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Move (Originally posted 10/22/16 on Facebook)

I originally posted this on Facebook, but I wanted to make sure I captured it on my blog as well.
So, I did something. I did something big. And I did it alone.
I bought a house this week. I went to sign papers at closing all by myself. The co-owner line was left blank on every page. I think this is the first time that I have been hit smack in the face with this new identity of mine. I’m single. I’m alone. (I know I have the support of all of you - but that’s not what I’m talking about here.)
Now, anyone who has known me for any length of time may remember that Jeff and I moved a lot. I mean A LOT. We moved 18 times in 25 years of marriage. 16 of those times were in the first 17 years of our relationship. We moved three times in 12 months around year ten. Moving was something Jeff and I did together. And we did it well.
We had a system. We could pack up a house, move, and unpack in 48 hours if we needed to. We had so many tips and tricks for moving, people suggested we write a book. We knew the best places to get boxes, the best way to pack a truck or a trailer, and the best places to get rid of old unwanted furniture. Moving was something Jeff and I did together.
Except this time. This time Jeff isn’t here to get boxes in the middle of the night from Walmart. He isn’t here to meticulously pack up his James Michener book collection. He isn’t here to color code the labels and stack the boxes in the garage. He isn’t here to drive the U-haul or pull a trailer. He isn’t here to help me manage my anxiety about moving and getting everything done. He isn’t here. I am alone and our system doesn’t work with just one person.
Some people have said to me things like, “The move will be good for you. A fresh start for you and the kids.” They may be right. But maybe part of me doesn’t want a “fresh start.” Maybe I want to be where I can still see him standing in the kitchen eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich over the sink. Maybe I want to be where I can still picture him on the couch, leaning forward, watching the U game, and complaining about the refs and announcers. Maybe I want to be where I can still imagine him yelling at all of us to quit turning the heat up (to 64 degrees - smh). Maybe I am scared to do this all by myself and I don’t want to move because I’m afraid I will feel more of my memories of him slipping away.
And maybe I know there really is no such thing as a “fresh start.” There is no starting over. There is a lot of carrying on, pushing through, and doing the best I can. But a fresh start? What does that even mean? I’ll be in a new place, a new neighborhood, but I take all of my literal and figurative baggage with me. In so many ways, this is NOT a fresh start. This move is just a small part of a much bigger change, just like so many other things this year. It’s part of my new normal.
I’m sure this is the first of many big things I’ll have to do alone over the next few years. I’m ok with that.
So, I have a new system for packing and moving. It’s not nearly as sophisticated as the system Jeff and I had together, but it works for my new normal. I’m hiring people to come do it for me. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

25th Anniversary

Today is my 25th wedding anniversary. My heart is breaking a little today.

I was in a grief support group last night and I said something that shocked me a little. I said, "I wanted this anniversary so badly." I wanted to be able to say, "My husband and I have been married for 25 years. " It was a milestone I craved.  Almost like a right of passage, or maybe a badge of honor for managing Jeff's crap for so long. ;)

I was frustrated and upset when people in the group said things to me that I've heard for 25 years. They said things like, "At least you found true love." "You had something special that many people never have." "You are so lucky you were married for so long to your soul mate."

When Jeff was alive, I would agree. I would say, "You're right, I am lucky." or "Absolutely we have something special." People often told us they looked to our relationship as an example of what a good marriage was. We were the power couple others wanted to be. But since Jeff passed, comments like that have felt like an attempt to minimize my pain. I wanted 25 more years with him. I wanted forever with him. I didn't want the special something we had to ever end.

I've had some time (and a little reality check from a dear friend) to think about all of this a bit more and I now understand that it wouldn't matter if Jeff and I had only 5 years together or 50, it would still have been amazing and magical. I can't let his death take away from how special our relationship was.

I don't want to romanticize our relationship though. It wasn't always easy. There were times when I had to make a conscious decision each morning to choose in to the relationship, to actively work at loving him, to force myself to remember all of his good qualities. But no matter what we went through, we loved each other. Jeff adored me. I mean ADORED me. And he made me feel loved and special and strong in a way no one else ever had. For that, I will be forever grateful to him and for our magical relationship.

Thank you Jeff for the awesome time we had together. Thank you for helping me grow into the strong, confident person I am today. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and making me your queen. Thank you for giving me 5 beautiful and amazing children. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't. Thank you for reminding me every day how much you loved me. Thank you. I will love you forever and always cherish the time we had together.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Grandma Pat's Garden (delayed post)

I wrote this over a year ago. 

My mom is an amazing gardener. When I was a child, her garden was HUGE. What I remember most about the garden of my childhood is the raspberries. The raspberry bushes seemed to go on forever and both my older brother and I have similar memories of having to pick them, wearing long sleeve flannel shirts so our arms wouldn't get too scratched up.

Oh, and the homemade raspberry icecream! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I loved hearing the electric mixer churning the cream and raspberries. I loved helping my parents add the rock salt and ice to the wooden icecream maker. But most of all, I loved the taste of the smooth cream and tart raspberries. YUM!

My mom still gardens. Her garden now isn't as big as the one I remember from my childhood, but she still knows how to put the rest of the neighbors to shame!

Now, I appreciate my mom's garden for different reasons. I am the beneficiary of the literal fruits of her efforts. I get a nice bag (or two, or three) full of tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, green beans, peas, corn, beets, and radishes nearly every week. My kids love eating veggies from Grandma Pat's garden!

I also appreciate that my mom takes the time to let my kids help her in the garden. This year, Grayson got to help plant! He has had a lot of fun watching "his" vegetables grow!

Every year, my mom also plants pumpkins for the kids. Today, Grayson got to pick his pumpkin.

Thanks Mom, for planting a garden! It's nice that I get fresh vegetables, but it's even better that my kids get to "help" you and spend time with you doing such a cool thing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Voice over final product

Grayson's voice over will be aired soon on KUER!  (I had to make it into a QuickTime video to make it work on Blogger.)

He has three lines...

The first kid voice saying, "Mom, you listen to KUER every morning. All I ever hear is Steve Inskeep this and Dan Bammes that."

In the middle, "Have you given to KUER?"

And the last, "Please oh please oh please!"

He handled himself so well during the recording - like a true professional.

So, if you're inclined to follow his prompting and donate to KUER, you can do so from the website:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Casting Call for Voice Over

Today, Grayson got a taste of radio life. KUER asked for volunteers to voice a radio commercial for their big fundraising efforts that will take place in the next little bit.

Maddie was disappointed they didn't need a teenage girl, Ryan wasn't interested, and Grayson... well, let's just say that Grayson was THRILLED at the chance to be in a commercial.

He did great, but was a little sad that it was a radio commercial and that he wasn't going to be on TV.

Who knows, this may be the beginning of something big...

Back to school

The kids have each been in school for almost two weeks now. It's been a bit of an adjustment because I have one in each level of school now - high school, jr. high, and elementary. That's a lot of start/end times, early out/late start days, lunch money, and no student days to remember (oh how I LOVE Google Calendar!).

So far, so good. The kids haven't complained too much and we're settling into a routine of getting homework done and dinner finished before 9:00 pm.