At the end of a chapter in life, I have come to the conclusion that we must take a moment to reflect.
On Friday, I walked out of my office for the final time. The parties were over, the cake was long gone and the presents and the cards had been opened. I had the opportunity to laugh, celebrate and reminisce with some of the most amazing people I have ever had the chance to work with. They are people I have built relationships with over these past few years that I am so thankful for. I have laughed with them, I have cried with them, I have collaborated with them and I have changed lives with them. Perhaps most important for me, I have hugged it out with almost every one of them. (What can I say, I am a hugger and that’s a beautiful thing.)
A few things crossed my mind as I slid my office door closed and locked it for the final time…
We pass this way only once. Cherish each and every moment of each and every day. Give your best in your endeavors and take ownership of the things you do- perform your tasks as if you were going to do it for the rest of your life. Give your full attention to your life and the moments that make up the grander picture. Like Dr. K.E. says “Keep the main thing the main thing.” Have laser focus with your moments and experience each and every second. Most times we don’t get second chances and life offers no do-overs so give your everything in all that you do and soak it all in.
Take the time to meet people and get to know them. I don’t mean the small talk around the water cooler or a casual smile as you pass in the hallway. I mean really get to know people. Get to know about them and their families- their backgrounds and where they came from. Get to know their pet’s names, when their birthday is and what makes them tick. It is through these everyday relationships that we become privy to the richness of life. Ask people how their day is and when they answer, really listen. Pay attention and listen to what people don’t say and you will be amazed what you notice and hear. We are all in this life together… We might as well get to know each other while we are here.
Take the time to be a mentor. This is possibly a bit easier for me to do because I work on a college campus and I am surrounded by young people. If that’s not your environment- seek it out in your local community. Take your skills, abilities and everything you have learned in the sum of your days and pass them on to the next generation. It’s not always easy and some days you will wonder if the things you say or do are mattering at all. I can promise you it matters. It all matters. The time you pour into the life of another to help them make their life better always matters. You may not ever see the results on this side of Heaven, but one day I believe you will. I believe the time we invest in others lives gets multiplied tenfold into something far greater than ourselves.
Once again, I am going to go ahead and quote Mr. Winnie the Pooh (though he said “lucky” and I say “thankful”) “How thankful I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Saying goodbye is hard but when you can look back and see what was accomplished, gather lessons learned and be grateful for the forward progress, it makes it all worth it.
It was the philosopher Seneca that said “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” This week, I pick up the keys to my new office. As I slide in they key and hear the lock click open I will be greeted with nervous butterflies and a sense of excitement and anticipation for the future and what it will hold.
Goodbyes will always be hard but new beginnings are always exciting!
Go out into the world and make your day incredible!
”Hi this is the hospital calling to pre-register you for your appointment tomorrow.”
Awesome I casually think, because, pshht, I got this. I’ve done the research, Dr. Google answered all my questions in full. Phrases like “mild cramping” and “slight discomfort” we’re passed around. Nothing a strong dose of ibuprofen can’t fix.
“Do you have any other questions?” the lady registering me asks.
My gut prompts me… “Well, I guess since I have you on the phone, could I speak with someone just to run through the procedure?”
I’m connected to the tech and she runs through the procedure. She’s so sweet I kinda wanna see if she wants to be besties… Then she says the word… The word I have been happy dancing that I haven’t heard… Balloon. My brain comes to a screeching halt and I feel the skin pricks of sweat on my neck… “What do you mean balloon” I manage to stammer out.
She explains in depth…
I begin to process the words coming out of this ladies pie-hole that just two minutes ago I wanted to hug through the phone because she was so sweet and helpful…
Now she’s talking about inflating a balloon inside my WHERE?!
Maybe this chick (who I no longer want to be besties with) didn’t get the memo that balloons are meant for birthday parties and graduations. They are meant to celebrate happy festive things… How do I tell this lady that my lady parts are happy and festive enough and I don’t need a balloon anywhere near my cervix?! And while we are on the topic, I am confident balloon and cervix should never be said in the same sentence… Like in the history of ever.
We check into the hospital and I get a fancy wristband. Officially admitted. I am starting to feel anxious… Even the Ativan isn’t quelling this feeling.
They lead me to the changing room to get into procedure attire. Nothing screams sexy like hospital gowns and grippy socks. I count my blessings because at least this gown is cloth and won’t rip in the butt when I sit down. It’s the little things in life.
I pace the little waiting room as I wait for the nurse to take me in.
Hubbz is waiting in the hall for me. My breath starts to quicken, he sees this, grabs my already sweaty hand and squeezes it. We are led into the room. Hubbz is given a purple paisley smock- My husband is the sexiest man I’ve ever met who can rock purple paisley… #truestory, I digress.
The room is dark, the table is cold and hard. What follows is the most painful experience I have had in my entire life. It was more painful than any of my surgeries. The pain literally took my breath away. I conjured up my most zen yoga breaths and I prayed as the pain washed through my most precious parts. Hubbz wiped the tears as they fell and when I let out a noise that was a cross between a moan and a yell he let me grip his arm so tight that I left a mark. Soon after it began, it was over. I was shaking, sweating and had tear stains down my face. The nurse said I looked pale and told me to just sit for a moment and catch my breath.
The doctor showed us the real-time results- everything looked perfect. (Praise you, Jesus, a million times over!!!) I was ushered to the bathroom with legs that were still shaky to clean up and then the nurse brought me back to the changing room.
It was alone in the changing room that I was able to finally sit and collect myself. It was in this confusion and uncertainty that I sat in silence focusing on my breaths and letting my thoughts come.
God, I don’t know why this is happening. I’m not questioning you- I trust you. I just don’t know why this is my story. God I know you will make this good. I just don’t know why I have to go through this.
In a moment of clarity I got my answer.
It’s your story because it will make a difference.
It’s your story because there are people who need to hear it.
It’s your story because I know you will tell it.
And just like that, my heart was steadied and the worst physical pain I have ever endured had a purpose- And in that purpose I can rest my weary heart.
Life is amazing and beautiful and definitely a gift. Sometimes it’s also the hardest thing on the face of the planet. A truth I have learned so deeply in the past 4 years is that the time we spend in each others lives always comes to an end. Lives change and it’s these changes that change everything. People move on from us and we move on from people.
Sometimes you outgrow each other.
Sometimes they meet someone that their heart loves and they get married.
Sometimes they move away to chase dreams.
Sometimes they have children and their priorities shift.
This realization of change in relationships, that I have finally been able to put into words, is an emotional one for me. My underlying struggle in life is the fear of being forgotten and abandoned. To know that I have relationships with people and one day those relationships will end for one reason or another causes my breath to quicken, my anxiety to skyrocket and my voice to quiver. I turn into a panicky 5 year old version of me. The one whose parents just got divorced and rocked my foundation of safety and security. In my rational adult mind, I know that I am fine. I know I am strong and resilient and I have more love around me than I can fathom most days, but the little girl in me gets so stricken with terror that she cannot breath.
It is through the lens of this fear that I have been known to destroy relationships. I have held on so tight that I have literally drained the life out of them. Sometimes I have put my defenses up so fast and so tall that no one can break through. Other times I have in an instant turned my back and walked away because if I leave first, you can’t hurt me. All of these are completely irrational… I have made a note of that… Twice.
My desire to heal this irrational fear and painful hurt has led me down a path of beautiful realizations that have eased my soul.
In the moments of pure anxiety and sheer panic, I take a moment and I close my eyes. I take a deep breath that fills my belly and I exhale. I picture 5 year old me. I kneel down in front of her, my eyes meeting hers, and take her little face in my hands and I tell her that she is ok. She is safe and she is loved and she doesn’t have to be fearful anymore. That might sound sound like a batsh!t crazy thing to do, but know what- it works. If we look at the psychology of being human, a lot of our irrational fears come from our 4, 5 and 6 year old selves. I urge you to find the root of your fears and then conjure up what you would tell your younger self. You might just find a path to healing.
In the moments I am fearful of relationships ending and changing, I begin to list my gratitudes. It usually looks something like this:
I am grateful for their role in my life because…
I am grateful our paths crossed because…
I am grateful they taught me…
I keep going until the fear begins to lift and peace fills the void. Scientifically there are so many studies that show gratitude increases sleep, physical health, mental health and even self-esteem. Take a minute next time you are in a funk and start listing your gratitudes. It will change your thought process and bring you to a place of peace.
In the moments when I miss them so much my heart literally aches, I pray. When I miss someone it’s my heart reminding me that I love them. In these moments there is nothing I can do except pray. I can’t make the feeling go away no matter how hard I mindfully will-it to leave. This feeling of missing people used to torment me and I would do anything to mask the feeling. Don’t get me wrong, this is still the worst feeling in the world for my sweet soul that just wants to be connected to people but I don’t have to be fearful of the feeling anymore. These days, I acknowledge it, I embrace it and I feel it… Then I can send up a million prayers to Heaven and let God fill that void. He gave me the ability to love others, surely he can heal the hurt when that person isn’t in my life like they used to be. Psalm 62:8 reminds me to trust in God and pour out my heart to him. Genesis 31:49 is a prayer that I offer up regularly “may the Lord keep watch between you and me while we are away from each other.” It gives me peace to know a person may not be near me now but God has it handled and he will protect them. Romans 8:28 is the ultimate peace trump card- “God works all things for good for those who love Him.” God works everything for good- from the great moments in life to the trials and the heartache. God brings us together in relationship with people, when those relationships change, God works it for good. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier but it does make it fathomable to be able to get through the sadness of missing someone.
When relationships change and I have to learn to let go, I’ve taken the pain of panic and anxiety and turned it into healing breaths full of gratitude and prayer. We look at each others lives and we see perfection because that’s all the Facebook and Instagram highlight reels show… But beneath the surface, sometimes not that deep, are fears. My greatest fear is being forgotten and abandoned and relationships changing and ending only magnifies this fear. It is only through embracing this that I can begin to stare that fear in the face and heal it.
One breath at a time.
One declaration of gratitude at a time.
One prayer at a time.
The healing comes.
Cheers to Letting Go, Dez
Today is our wedding anniversary and it’s only fitting that I offer a ditty about marriage… Except it’s not really a ditty… It’s more of a blog post. (I hope you wordsmiths enjoyed that. You’re welcome.) Let’s dance, shall we?
I never really understood the saying “I married my best friend.” I threw the phrase around because it was romantic. I even put it in our wedding program because it was the thing to do. When we got married we were young and naive and knew nothing about marriage. Hubbz was a hot, tall, Italian with sexy facial hair and a rockin’ gym bod… And he sure did take great care of me. He doted on me like no man ever had and he bought me really amazing things and took me to really fancy places. I sure did love him a lot, but my “best friend”? I mean, I don’t know about all that. Before you get all judgy on me for being a horrible human being, I can confidently say that I wasn’t his BFF either. To say we had no idea what sacrificial love meant, is the understatement of the decade.
After 13 years together and 8 years of marriage, after a million amazing memories and some soul-rocking questionable choices, here we are… Married… And BFFs. Woah. The dust has settled from our self-inflicted wounded years- though every once in awhile a smoldering rock will bubble up from beneath the surface. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s to remind us to be humble and how precious marriage really is.
I invite you to raise your metaphorical glasses of Moët and cheers with me…
Cheers to young love. The times that all you put forward is your best foot. Romantic vacations and many dinner dates. Moving past the “Netflix and chill” to a more refined let’s actually spend some time together and talk… But, I mean, THEN let’s Netflix and chill.
Cheers to engaged love. When he finally puts the big, sexy wedding rock on that pretty little french manicured finger. The times so full of dreams. House hunting (in our case house building) and wedding planning. Picking out counter tops and paint and wedding dresses and flowers… Knowing in the gut of your heart that you are the Princess and your Prince Charming has arrived and swept you off your feet.
Cheers to early married love. The honeymoon stage is in full swing and cloud 9 never felt so good. You can’t get enough of each other and life as you know it is married bliss. You might pack on a few pounds but it doesn’t matter because you are SO. IN. LOVE. You get to play house… BUT FOR REALS! This phase lasts a good couple of years and it is SO. MUCH. FUN.
Cheers to love when you don’t feel it. This is the part no one talks about when they are congratulating you on marrying the love of your life. It doesn’t get brought up in wedding toasts. This love is the hard love. It’s the love that you have to force because you just aren’t feeling it. It’s the “What do you mean we aren’t going out tonight?!” and the “We have to stay home this weekend because yardwork doesn’t do itself.” For a girl who lived for the dance-on-the-table moments, this love was a wrecking ball to my life. This is the love that makes you want to walk away. This is the love that makes you think the grass is greener in other pastures and in far away big cities. The truth about that thinking is that the grass is greener where you water it and if we are being really honest… There is poop in the other pastures too.
Cheers to love that is broken. It might be odd to celebrate this kind of love but this is the love that, for us, was necessary. This is the love the was the catalyst for change in our life and in our marriage. This is the love where everything has fallen apart and you both stand there amid the rubble that you have both helped to create. This is the love where you look around and life as you know it has become unrecognizable. With wounded bodies and broken hearts you begin to survey the destruction. These are the moments where you stand there in shock that it got to this point yet part of you is thankful, because for the first time ever, you are seeing each other, real and raw and broken. There is a beauty in this broken that I can now only look back on with gratitude.
Cheers to healing love. This is the love that we cannot take any credit for. This is the love where we fell on our knees- both literally and figuratively, and invited Christ into our marriage. Before you roll your eyes, get all judgy-judgy and stop reading, let me explain. I used to think people who were all “Horray Jesus!” were weird. We didn’t need Jesus because, “pshhht, we got this” …Except we didn’t have this. What we thought we had, we ripped to shreds and then set on fire (and between you and me, we were both kind of like, “huh, weird that we can’t put back together that which we just incinerated.”) The road to healing was long, arduous and to be frank, sometimes totally friggen’ sucked. There were tears and fights and blame that got thrown around like confetti… THEN… Then there was peace. I don’t know the day or the hour or even the reason but after a while, there was a shift in both of us. A light illuminated somewhere and love appeared. A love that we had never been able to give each other before. It wasn’t romantic or sexy or any of the things the world boasts about. It was a love that was peaceful and real. A love that was far from perfect but was made perfect through Him.
Cheers to the love of a lifetime. This is the love that is built on strong foundations. The love that you build lifetimes of children and weddings and grandchildren and graduations on. The love that ebbs and flows but resonates peace, grace, mercy and forgiveness at every pass.
It’s not perfection, it’s commitment.
It’s not all bells and whistles, it’s finding peace in the mundane.
It’s not being right, it’s being sacrificial.
It’s not about doing you, it’s about doing us.
It’s the strand of three cords that cannot be broken.
Raise that metaphorical glasses of Moët and cheers with me, to marriage. To the good, to the bad, to the ugly and most important, to the healing, to the redemption and to the peace that surpasses all understanding… And also to the hot, tall, Italian with an amazing beard and a (still) rockin’ gym bod that I call, Hubbz.
I stand in front of the mirror tugging at my gray sweater and wonder if there will ever be a cute baby bump underneath it. I look at the woman staring back at me and try my hardest to will her to believe this doesn’t mean she has failed. I see her staring back at me with those big brown eyes trying her hardest to put on a face that is courageous and sure of herself, but I can feel it in my chest that the courage is ready to flee for the door and there is a lump that is beginning to form in my throat. Standing in my closet 10 minutes ago I pondered what the best outfit was that would prove to the fertility doctor that there wasn’t something wrong with me. What do you wear to the fertility doctor anyway? I settled on black boots, black leggings, a gray sweater and a colorful scarf to tie in my hair. Surely this will make me look like there’s not something wrong with me. Surely this outfit will make me look like I deserve a baby.
I shake my head at my humanity and smirk a little. Isn’t that what we do as humans- cover up the raw emotion with smiles and the things of this world, so the rest of the world doesn’t know that right now, for a moment, we might not be entirely ok.
I am going to preface this by saying these thoughts are about me. I don’t look at other women under the same lens that I see myself through. If other women head to the fertility clinic I hold nothing but love and compassion in my heart for them. For me, for myself, for my life, that is not the case. I hate to lose more than I love to win. Coming here for me means that I had to admit defeat. To come here is to admit to myself that I couldn’t do it. The white flag is painfully raised. The tests clearly show this isn’t on Hubbz… This one is on me. My body is not performing. In my head all I can hear is my ego sneering at me over her rhinestone specs, “You had one job, Doll Face.” I politely remind my ego she should “Shut her face and have a damn seat.” (And for the record, yes, I talk to my ego because when I don’t put her in check, nothing good happens in my life!) #truestory
I sit and wait for Hubbz on the porch distracting myself from my skyrocketed anxiety with Snaps of Chat and the most Instant of Grams (Snapchat and Instagram are my favorite. If you don’t follow me on those, you should. It’s more fun that you can handle, plus, I am hilarious and you will laugh. I digress.) Hubbz pulls in the driveway and I giggle as I think to myself “Your chariot awaits to take you to the baby making center!” I hop in the car and immediately spill my water EVERYWHERE. At that moment, I lose my mind. Straight up. Freak-the-frock-(not a type-o)-out. Lose. My. Mind. All of my emotions that I have been so calculatingly keeping in check spill all over the car along with the water. Hubbz, my rock, just stays firm. He waits while I pull it together. He stays steady as the emotions flow because he gets that it’s not about the water. I clean up the spill pull together the emotion and we make the trek to the office where they make the babies.
Hubbz takes my hand as we walk across the parking lot to the building and we pray. God brought us here and regardless of the outcome God will bring us through. My leg bounces while we wait for the doctor to come in. Hubbz tries to distract my anxious mind by joking about things that only our sick and warped senses of humor would find hilarious. The doctor walks in and all I can think in my head is that this is the man that’s going to get me knocked up. Will he at least buy me a drink first?! I giggle to myself at my warped sense of humor and shake his hand… Still feeling like maybe we should hug it out or something. We talk and I ask a myriad of questions about cycles and medicines and procedures- all of which he answers thoroughly and reassures me. Hubbz and the doctor and I come up with a plan. A steady, methodical plan. A plan that I can refer to when my overly anxious heart begins to lead me astray. After two hours, it is over.
As we walk out into the crisp fall air, Hubbz grabs my hand and gives it a light squeeze. He looks in my eyes and asks me if my heart is at ease. In this moment, with him by my side, I feel like we can get through anything. I look into his baby blue eyes and shake my head a simple yes.
Yes, my heart is at ease.
Yes, all is well with my soul.