The Mediocre Level


I wrote this piece not this week but prior.  Today as I decide to actually publish it I’ve felt pretty well.  In fact, the last few days have been good.  Writing allows me to process and move forward.  Not always staying ahead but not falling as far back as I once would is more of a normal thing now. I call that progress.

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I hate that my parents died. I hate that the questions go unanswered and the memories are all I have.   I feel broken from that stint I did in 2013. I hate that the confidence I used to feel inside me has been replaced with the lack thereof and the fear of the unknown.

The task of analyzing oneself can be taunting and at times the individual may find themselves grasping to get their head above water.

Currently I do not feel I am doing any area of my life with much excellence.  The ability to be exceedingly good at something has fallen from my life it seems.  I would say I am more in the “do what I need to and get by mode.”  I’ve been running on auto pilot for sometime now.  There’s been a couple of times I’ve began with a mindset of success to only find I fall into that mediocre level once again.  Even in the times of my life (pre-2013) when I was challenged, whether personally or professionally, I still had one or two areas of life I was above average in.

As you can tell the “analyzing” oneself has recently occurred in my life and it has brought a less than stellar mojo around!  Some of you are probably saying right now, “but Julie you are doing this and this and this so well!”  But in reality I’m not.  I’m doing just enough for it to “look” okay.

I’m not falling apart, I’m just looking reality in the face at the moment.  It’s not an “upper” but the “downer” part might be what I need to face to move forward.  I can no longer be the leader of all areas of my life and do it with grace.  And it’s driving me nuts!

I can look back and see when the strength that my mother instilled in me began to fall away.  The turmoil and wreckage of an experience finally got to me and altered my everyday life.  I may be fooling myself, perhaps those traumatic experiences as a child altered me too, but until I was in my 40’s I was capable of  handling  things.  Three consecutive experiences took me to my knees and it’s hard to get up, even almost four years later.

I suppose this is where I would normally write the lines of postivity and a mantra of things to get me “re-booted”.  Well this time I’m not.  I am not going to sit in the depths of despair but I will close with this.

One.  One positive thing a day.  I shall pluck one little thing from my day that I did well and place it at the top of my thoughts.  I will bask in the glory of even the simplest task I did that was good.  Where will that lead me?

Julie

Words At A Halt, So I’ll Just Hug


In my life I have one particular small group of girlfriends that I like to think of as my “prayer-go-to-gals.”  They are the first ones I think of when I am in need of a prayer, which by the the way is often.  Whether it’s a joy to celebrate or a struggle of uncertainty, they have my back.  I know without a doubt they will pray.  Whether they do it during their daily devotions or at that very moment real quick-like, I can count on them.  As I hope they know they can with me.

http://www.chaosandlove.com

In this group, I was the first to lose both my parents, not exactly something I wanted to be first place in but hey, someone has to be first!  These ladies rallied behind me, allowed me to write long posts and fervently prayed.  Now as one of the other ladies is in the midst of going through the first days of losing her mother I find myself empathizing.

The thing is although I’ve walked through familiar territory I can’t find the words.  The words that let her know I understand.  The feelings inside me aren’t of me missing my parents necessarily it’s more of wanting to “care for” and almost protect my friend.  No two people are alike and her situation is different but there are similarities.  Mostly just the act of having a parent die.  I’ve seen a glimpse of the road that lies ahead.

I want my friend to know that even though I may not say many words I am praying.  I also have ears open to listen or eyes to read texts and my mouth will be shut.  And if she needs a bag of chips, a jar of salsa, a pepsi, and/or a snickers bar I’m her gal!  I’m only a text away and I deliver!

If you find yourself in the midst of not knowing what to say to someone, just hug.  As you hug, say a quick prayer.  That’s what I did last night.  God bless you my friend.

Julie

The 26th – And how it came and went.


Today marks one year since my mother passed away.  I had a restless night of sleep, by morning my anxiety level was pretty high.  I don’t know if it was due to the anniversary of something so hard or the depression or the fact that I’m traveling this weekend.

I’m heading out to  spend the weekend away from home with some girlfriends.  At the time of scheduling the trip I thought it would be a good idea for me to be away from home.  I still feel that way – mostly.  Honestly I always get anxious about traveling due to a medical issue I have.  I know being away from home won’t make me forget but perhaps a nice distraction and opportunity to relax.

After taking my daughter to school I spent the morning in my kitchen.  As I have stated before, cooking seems to be my therapy.  Maybe it calms me because I can control what goes in when and it can be done in a certain order. All the while anticipating something good coming out of my actions.  I don’t have to talk or feel or think of anything else while pouring the ingredients into the metal bowl.  I even thought of my mom while baking the cake.  It wasn’t sad but glad she was such a good cook and baker.  A gift she shared with me.

The weekend away is needed for more than one reason and I know I will enjoy the laughter, comradity, and memories made with my friends.  Although I won’t be able to control the ingredients that will make up this wonderful time, I can participate with as much as I can muster.

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Written later……

The weekend away was enjoyable and good for me.  I felt up and down throughout the weekend.  I haven’t laughed that much for so long.  And I needed that.  The laughter with girlfriends is so very awesome! Thank you to my friends that spent time with me and also listened when I did share my feelings.

I’m actually publishing this on September 3rd, what would have been my mother’s birthday.  But no more birthdays exist for her.  No more angel food cakes or family gathering to celebrate her life.  I did get to spend the morning with my two sisters and visit with my brother on the phone.  That was a good way to spend my day.  A really good way.

Tomorrow is another day.  Another step forward.  Another opportunity to reach for something better, smile more, laugh alot, and hug those around me.  I’m grateful.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Gathering Afterwards


No one tells you how different it will be.  And if they do, you probably won’t be able to wrap your head around it or believe them. I really didn’t realize the connection that my mother made for me and the rest of my extended family.  A connection that wasn’t so obvious to me at the time but is now upon our gathering together in her absence.

It was the way you didn’t want to leave when we had family gatherings.  Where sitting around her large oval dinner table with lots of food, laughing, and enjoying the antics of a cousin, niece, or nephew.  Or more than likely Mom saying something outlandish, flirting with an in-law, or encouraging a little one to crawl up in her lap.

I can’t really describe it to you.

We’ve had a couple of gatherings since her passing one year ago and it’s not the same.

Even though she may not have been the instigator of the memory made or the antic occurring it was still relevant to the connection of her.  We still laugh together, eat together, and celebrate family moments but it’s not the same.

To be honest, my biggest fear is losing connection with my siblings.  Not the love for one another but the gift that was given to us through being raised together.

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I once had a friend that knew us while growing up and then I didn’t see him for many years.  In conversation all those years later, he admitted that he was always impressed with the closeness/bond that our family had.  Primarily talking about my siblings, my mom, and myself.  I remember stating and thinking that I never felt we had that much of a closeness.  At least not any more than any other family I knew.  That observation from the outside made me feel lucky though. And with the death of both our parents it’s made me realize how true it is.

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Today as I remember that memory I celebrate the extended family that was given to me. The bond created in family isn’t always from joyous moments, dinners around the table, or cheering at ballgames together.  Sometimes it’s created by too much yelling and witnessing bad things or sleeping in a car periodically.  Sometimes it’s from just living in the house together with those that know what no one else knows.

Whatever creates the bond, it’s important to hold on to it.  There’s no bringing our mother back, but I have three people in my life that can remember her with me and who know what I’m talking about when I say I miss her.

Mother and I 2014

It will take all four of us to continue to nourish the bond/relationships and to be an example to our own children.  I pray daily for them and I look forward to the future of our family.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I
He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

Treasures can be Hidden by Despair


I will never taste the Spice Peaches or Macaroni salad again that her hands made.  These are two of my favorite recipes that my Mom made as I grew up.  I remember requesting her to make the peaches for Christmas often.

She loved peaches.  She would eat them fresh with cream on them or in a peach pie.  I love peaches too.  That’s something nice to have in common with her.

When it struck me one afternoon that I would not be eating the food she made anymore tears began to fall.  I clutched the book that held the recipe to my chest and just let the tears fall for a bit.

I can still smell the aroma of spiced peaches and the taste of the macaroni salad with cucumbers.  (Another thing we both loved)  Connection to our past can come in different forms.  Whether it be with food, photographs, a song, poem, or holiday.

 

Craft Projects

Although I wouldn’t want those connections to be gone, sometimes they are hard to handle.  One must not stay in the mode of connection that brings them despair.  If I stay in my grief, the treasure of the past will be eventually be forgotten.  All there will be is sadness, despair, what if’s, or I should haves.

So, when those moments of connection occur, I will allow myself to wallow in them but eventually I will make my way out.  For instance, on the afternoon those tears fell I found my way down a country road.  To walk among the fall foliage and beautiful milo field.  This gave me distance from the sadness, opportunity to clear my mind, and see that the treasure was just that.  A treasure.

I’m not over my mother’s death or my father’s for that matter.  I am just making my way through this journey called grief.  I am managing my life the best I can with the tools provided to me.  I’m not ignoring the past, the grief, or how much it hurts.  I just will not allow it to rob my present life of the treasures that have been given to me.  Having the joys God gave me is not something to throw away by living in the past.

Mother and I 2014

Grace is a gift,

Julie

If I Could Write Your Story


Although I’ve had my share of death in the past couple years of those significant in my life, this post wasn’t inspired by my own experience.  I recently had a friend that lost their best friend.  I was familiar with the friend that passed away and my heart aches for her family and friends.  But in seeing our mutual friends posts on social media my heart has significantly ached for her specifically.  The best friend that now has a large hole in her life.  The one, that had seen daily, texted, worked beside, shared life,  only has an absence in it now.  I pray that she (and the family) can make their way through this journey and look to the day when the resurrection will occur and they can bask in not only their loved ones presence once again, but God’s.

Sunset Kansas 2015 July

If I could write your story, I would.   If I could take all your thoughts, your feelings, your ideas, your journey and place them in something written I’d be honored to do so.  Your story matters.

If I could bask in your presence for just one more day, I’d enjoy it.  I’d take you to the places we loved, enjoy the fresh air, and eat your favorite foods.

If I could bring you joy one more time, I’d do it.  If I could hear your laugh, wipe a tear, hold your hand, sit in silence most definitely I would.

But these things are not possible any longer. The truth is……

Only you could truly write your own story.  The one with the authentic feelings, the honesty and depth.  One that encompasses all that you possessed within yourself. My joy would come from the fact that I would be part of the story.

The presence is no more for us.  Only dim reminders of when you were here, and the memories that are now bittersweet glimpses in my days.  But I will take those memories and cherish forever.

The joy we shared was only a speckle of what is given when we are gone.  When we take that final breath and know that truly God exists.  Where we are surrounded by the best story, the best taste ever, and the best part of our life story.

The days of us being together are over for now.  The days ahead will seem difficult for me, the one left behind.  But I will survive in those bittersweet memories, the delicious food we shared, and  I will continue to write my story.  The one that I know the best.  I’m fortunate too, for you are part of that story.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Cover Me Christ


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Written last week in the midst of difficult days.  If you can relate, know that in time you will find hope and contentment and happiness once again.

It comes and goes.  The feeling of lonliness.  The one that although in my mind I know that others have felt this pain, I still feel alone. The fact that  God is with me at all times is a fact but my mind can not remember that.  I can not cover my mourning and downward fall.

At the same time I feel guilt for not being stronger.  There are those in my life or were in my life that exhibit the mindset of “push forward” or “don’t dwell” or “we do what we have to do”.   I hear these things (in my mind) and feel them in myself and at the moment of sadness it is followed by guilt.  The guilt of not being stronger when every little thing is overwhelming.   The anxiety is building and comfort is not found.  I find myself holding my tongue when I need to release grief and then yelling for no reason knowing that it’s not about the current incident.

All I can say right now is this.

Please cover me Christ with your love and hold me close.  Help me feel the comfort of your arms in this time of tribulation. I beg you.  I thank you.
Grace is a gift,
Julie

Shopping in My Mom’s Closet


I find it funny that my mother and I wore the same size clothing.  Well, actually I find it ironic that, at a time that I needed new jeans she provided.  As I began looking through her closet I found capris and like new jeans that fit me.  This is truly a blessing as I am to begin a new part-time job and I was in need of jeans for it.  Thank you Mom!

As I made my way through her blouses I could pick out the ones that she wore most often.  She would be sitting in her recliner, playing Free cell or reading a book or watching an old movie while donning them more often than others.  Days of long ago I can see her in the yard working on it while in a sleeveless button shirt.   The older jeans she wore were Wranglers, men’s I’ll tell you.  She always worked like a man and said men’s Wranglers fit her better! 🙂   Her night gowns and house coats were an item of softness.  Upon trying on one of my mother’s blouses it smelled just of her.  Downy and cigarettes.  I know, odd but comforting at the same time now.  Don’t worry, I’ve washed the clothes I brought home. 🙂

I can recall while growing up one particular image of my mother.  Curlers in her hair, normally overnight, but sometimes during the day.  I’d see the black rollers with pink plastic pins holding them in tightly.  She still had them, in her Artex painted canvas bag in the bathroom.

She preferred to roll her hair in curlers but as her back injury got worse she was unable to.  She began to cut  her hair quite short and although she looked pretty, it just wasn’t quite the same for us kids.

Her hair was always parted to the same side, bangs curled.  Her forehead was hardly ever covered up in her life until the last few years.   It’s funny the things that you remember, the things that are memories.

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While shopping in my Mom’s closet it brought back memories. The rest will help another, I hope they feel warmth and comfort in the clothes that were my mothers.
Grace is a gift,

Julie

Game Face – Under the Covers – One Month Down


Cross Upon My Wall

One month has passed since my world changed.  Yes, I’m writing about the death of my mother once again.  This blog provides a type of therapy and it’s needed these days. I honestly do not want attention, I only  hope that in some small way it helps someone else that is struggling.   May they know they are not alone, may they find hope in God, and may they reach out if help is needed.

The past couple days have been quite difficult for me, I have felt the depression coming on, and the sense of loss very present.  The moments of just sitting and staring blank at the wall across the room or only half hearing what someone is saying.  There weren’t too many tears on these days but more numbness.   It’s progressing.

Progressing to the point that I want to just not have to deal with anything that has  to do with the passing of my mother.  I am ignoring the items in my garage to go through, wishing away the messages about my mother’s estate between us siblings, and the reality of the fact that she isn’t in her recliner in her home on a daily basis.

That’s where I am for the moment.  I don’t feel guilty, I just feel I need a  break.  Yet when I try to take a break or walk away things happen that bring the reality to the forefront. It’s no ones fault, it’s just this way in life.

As I walked through a store today I noticed they had Christmas items out.  The thought crossed my mind of how we always do an ornament game at Christmas at my mothers.  Mom had no problem stealing your ornament if she thought it was the best one.  That used to bug me, now I wish she was here to do it this coming holiday season.

As I washed the dishes a few days ago that I brought home from her house I did it in a quiet manner alone.  I wondered if there were dishes from my kitchen that my daughters would see and recall memories from childhood like my siblings and I did.  The yellow bowls, yellow and white platter, and the green glass bowl just to name a few were the ones for me.

The friend or acquaintance that means well and asks the same question I have to others many times myself.  “How are you?”  For just a slight moment I think, “I wonder if they really want to know?”  Then I normally tell them I’m fine or getting by!

It’s not the end of the world that my mother died.  It’s not.  But it still hurts, it still makes me feel sad, even when I know the truth.  The truth that this life on earth is not what we are promised.  That eternal life will bring me more peace and happiness than I could ever imagine and both my parents once again.

So, for now.  Just know that I’m not myself, even if I am trying hard to be just that.   For when I’m going through the day at a steady pace, odds are I would like to crawl into my bed and pull the covers up over my head. This too shall pass.

Grace is a gift,

Julie