Still Here

Grief is a strange thing. It comes back in unexpected ways and stops you in your tracks. All of sudden the emotion is there whether you are prepared to deal with it or not. We look for closure, for finalization as a bridge to move forward. However, as time goes by, I am left wondering if closure is actually a reality or if we simply learn to live with the heaviness while still embracing new life, new joy. Life doesn’t stop and so we must continue to move forward even if a clear path does not present itself.


Sunday, the last sail race of the season, was significant, yet again. The end of my sailing season and the beginning of Fall, marking transition and loss in similar and different ways for the second year in a row. Last years race was dark and stormy, mirroring the events that were happening in my life and relationship at the time. In that relationship, I had found a new hope and so the loss of that was significant. Now, I fear it may still paint some of my views on love and my emotional reactions to connecting with other people.


Recently, I was challenged to view connections with other people as lessons I learn rather than focusing on the loss that I experienced. So what did I learn? I learned to stand my ground, I learned to speak my truth even when it was constantly questioned. I learned that I wanted more in life, more in my relationship. I learned to let go of a toxic situation because I am worth more than that, I do not need to allow that type of energy into my life and by default my daughter’s life.


This year, was a clear, beautiful, sunny day with no wind. A new mirror of current events. I am far more grounded and centered, far more okay this year than I was at this time last year. I can see the light despite the pain and darkness I have experienced. In a strange way, “no wind,” seems like the perfect metaphor for a relationship that I have fought for on and off again for almost four years with very little forward motion. Without wind, there is no race. The end.


However, I am too close to the experience to process the lessons I learned at this time. Instead I find my heart wrapped up in the loss and lack of closure for both situations. I find myself hopeful but grieving. I find myself alive but broken. I find myself resigned and yet I can not quiet the fight that is constantly going on in my heart. Letting go without a defined sense of closure is hard to do.


I organize things, I fix things, I make things neat and pretty – I can not do that this time around and it goes against the grain of who I am at the deepest level. I love until it hurts, literally, I don’t let go. However, this time, I have to let go. I can not hold on anymore. If I learned anything last year, it is that I matter and that I am the one who determines my path, no one else. However, there is still a level of heaviness in that knowledge and always grief in letting go.


Some days, my heart carries this weight well and I am able to go about my day with a sense of purpose and hope in new things to come. However, on days when my defenses are down and the grief hits unexpectedly, I struggle to remain steady and hopeful. I will not remain there though, I have fought too hard and stood my ground too long to give up now. So instead, I carry the grief and loss, joy and pain, love and let go, hope and brokenness inside my heart as graciously as I am able to and I keep on moving forward.

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I’m still here, I’m still smiling, I’d say that’s winning.

xo

leah

Reframe It

I appreciate structure, I feel at my best when I have a plan and know what is going on. But that’s not life. I am reminded on a an almost daily basis that despite best effort, there are no guaranteed outcomes.

Life has a way of stretching me past my comfort zones pretty consistently. Sometimes I handle this well and just “roll with the punches,” still other times, sudden and unexpected change throws me into an emotional tail spin.

I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. I read an article recently on the concept of Reframing. Reframing is a way of looking at events, ideas, concepts and emotions that could be viewed negatively and instead changing the perspective to a positive one. Finding the good. “Positive thoughts give rise to happy, contented emotions and negative thoughts result in sad and depressive emotion. These emotions than affect biological changes in the body. Basically, the quality of our thinking affects the emotions we experience  and the state of our physical health”

When circumstances do not go the way that we hoped, intended, or wanted them to, it is easy to slip into a negative headspace. But what is the benefit of that? Sometimes we get so caught up in what “should” have happened that we miss the real meaning of what actually did happen in all of the chaos, beauty and pain. All of our experiences in life hold value, even those that make our heart hurt when we think of them. “Regardless of what’s going on in our lives, we can always ‘reframe’ our situation. So – no matter how bad everything appears to be, we always have the choice to make ourselves feel better by changing the way we view our problems or situations.” There are no guarantees in life. For someone, such as myself, who likes structure and order this often creates a sense of anxiety and stress. However, I believe that there is a strong coorelation between the ability to reframe your thinking and a heart of gratitude and forgiveness. When I find reasons to be grateful for the good in any situation, I am then able to deal with the negative aspects of the situation in a healthier way.

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
― Oprah Winfrey

We have to make a concious decision to choose happiness and find the good. We have to actively choose to reframe our world view. We have to make the choice. Our quality of life depends upon it.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
― Seneca

 

Let There Be Spaces

New relationships are always challenging, but when you begin one in the midst of chaos and change it adds another level of pressure. It has been a little over two years since R. and I started dating. He has been through some of the worst moments of my life with me and most certainly has seen me at my lowest point. We struggled, we went back and forth, we still struggle to meld two lives together. Something that came naturally in my 20’s is a whole lot harder in my 30’s. I have different ideas, a different outlook on life in general, I am a lot more opinionated and I still struggle to develop healthy headspace.

I didn’t grow up with a good sense of healthy boundaries, especially when it came to expressing emotion. We were a hot headed, loud and large family. We yelled a lot. When I got married, at twenty one, I continued this pattern in my marriage; high emotion and yelling. I thought this was normal, it was my normal but it was not healthy. My ex husband and I are both intense and emotional people, we did not know how to express our feelings appropriately or work out conflict in a constructive way. In some ways, this led to the breakdown of our relationship.

I am not saying that emotion is wrong or that you should stifle what you feel. I am a firm believer in being in touch with your emotions and your feelings. However, there’s a certain level of self control and self awareness that needs to exist so that your emotions do not control you or alienate others. As someone who also deals with anxiety, this is very difficult for me both in a relationship and as a parent. Some days I am able to internally cope and regulate, other days I miss the mark completely and end up hurting those closest to me.

One of the things that I have come to appreciate about R. is his ability to call me out on my crap. Obviously, I don’t appreciate it immediately but over time I have come to see the benefit of his insight and ability to stay calm more often than not. He has helped me to realize that plowing ahead full force with all my emotion and feeling is not healthy and in fact creates a disconnect with the people I love most. This was insight and understanding that I had never received before. I had never experienced life in any other way. My parent’s relationship was fraught with tension and emotion, my childhood and teenage years were full of high emotion and intensity, and my marriage followed the same pattern.

So here I am, in my 30’s trying to reconstruct my life and change the destructive patterns I have created in my life. I would love to say that I have figured this all out and that I am on my way. However, I am really at the beginning stages of mental reconstruction and self awareness. I have been presented with the challenge to change. I have said quite often that I believe change is a choice and I guess now would be the time for me to take those words to heart in a new way.

A few years ago, I participated the My One Word project. According to their website, “It’s okay to want to be a better you—the question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a single focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past … This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future.” So although I am a little late to the party, I have decided that my word this year will be “Space.”

I need to develop a healthier head space, I need to make time for my own space in life, and I need to give those around me the space they need. In doing so, I believe that I will begin to develop better strategies for coping with my own emotions and also minimize my anxiety.

When it comes to relationships, I am all about togetherness but I am finally realizing that for a relationship to grow and to remain healthy, there must be “spaces in your togetherness.” You can not be your best self if you do not take the time and space to develop your best self. So this is my challenge and goal for the year.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Love Shows Up

Tonight as I scrolled through Facebook, I came across the hashtag, “Love Shows Up.”

I began to think about these words … and of all the ways that showing up is worth it despite how much it may hurt and of the many people in my life in the past couple of years who have showed up when I needed them the most.

As I have gone through my divorce, the intensity of school/work/motherhood, and most recently the move I am making from my home as we prepare to put it on the market, never once have I been left hanging. Even in the moments that felt the darkest, love showed up.

There have been moments too where I have had to make the choice to show up, although the cost often felt greater than the reward. Heart breaking, gut wrenching, moments where I had to actively make the choice to not give in and give up but rather, to fight for what I believed in, to fight for love, to fight for my happiness.

Love doesn’t wait for the right answers, love actually doesn’t really wait for an answer at all, it simply shows up and says, “I am here, not matter what, no matter how rough this gets, you can kick and scream all you want but I am not leaving.” #loveshowsup

And sometimes showing up and loving looks a lot like weakness from the outside. In a world where we are taught to put ourselves first and fight for our rights, putting others first, extending grace, and loving anyway doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But at the end of the day, I can promise you this, you will never, ever, ever regret showing up – You will never regret love, no matter the cost.

Love will always come full circle. As we extend ourselves in love, we will find that love is extended to us as well. It may not come in the way we are looking for it or the way we had hoped it would, but if we open ourselves up, allow ourselves to be broken, love will find a way to bring healing and hope to us again.

There’s a certain sober, honest way that you see the world, you know what it can do to you …You’ve seen the kind of pain that life can bring. And it is easy to let it crush you, it is easy to let it take away every reason to get up in the morning. But the real art of life is to see all that, to feel it. Not to stuff it, not to avoid it, or to numb yourself … You let yourself feel it all and then you make room for it so that you now contain the summation of all your experiences. You make room within yourself for the immensities of the Universe. And when you do that … you will transcend that experience and include it. You will not leave it behind, it will be a part of you, an integrated part of you. You will not be longing to go back to how things were because you have gone through it to the other side. – Rob Bell

There is a love that never fails,
There is a healing that always prevails … #loveshowsup

xo

Leah

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Many thanks to A Diary of a Mom, who I very recently starting following on Facebook. I have been continually inspired over the past couple of weeks by the raw, real, and beautiful words that Jess posts. Thank you for your inspiration this evening.

Asking Questions, Finding Grace, Taking Chances

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The Summer of 2013 completely changed the course of my life. I didn’t see it coming until it was in my face and then I realized it was something I had known for a long time. The heart ache, the guilt, and the tears that followed have been intense but yet I have found a strength I didn’t know I had and grace that went far beyond anything I had ever imagined. Lately, I have begun to come out of a self induced hibernation.

Losing the me I’d always known and the life that went a long with it, left me reeling and falling flat on my face over and over. I was overwhelmed and so I shut down. I had dreams of babies and a white picket fence life since I was about five. No one could have prepared me for the heart ache of the past five years – postpartum depression, loss of income, and finally divorce. I didn’t see it coming until everything fell apart. This wasn’t my dream! This wasn’t how it was suppose to happen! This isn’t the picture I painted!

All of a sudden, I had to reimagine my life, repaint the picture, and make something beautiful out of all the broken pieces. I am still working on this, still processing what my “new life” will look like.

In many ways, I shut down on friendships because I was so overwhelmed with trying to figure out my place. Especially with friends who seemed to embody the dream I once had of a perfect little family, in a perfect little house, living the perfect life.

Obviously, I understand that nothing is perfect, but watching someone else find a way to make my dream a reality for themselves was just too painful for me to deal with. How does one fit in at play dates, birthday parties, cookouts, etc., when they’re no longer part of a typical family unit?

All the while, I was also juggling working full time and going to school full time. I got to a point where I was struggling just to process conversations and retain basic information. I felt like a shell of myself and just wanted so desperately to feel strong and together again. I cried a lot, probably more than I’ve ever cried in my life.

Yet, here I am, I’m still standing! I’m regaining my footing and finding my way. It has not gotten any easier, moments when I’m alone and Madi is gone still really, really suck. Somehow though, I am finding a new sense of peace and the ability to just be. I am still hibernating in some ways, not because I don’t love everyone per usual me, rather because this journey is so intense and personal it takes a lot of energy and time to process.

I am so extremely thankful for the handful of people who have seen me at my absolute worst and yet stayed in the mess with me. I am stronger because of them. They have offered both support and tough love. They refuse to let me wallow but they are always there to hear me out no matter how crazy I am sure I have sounded. Yes, I am strong, but they made me stronger.

Better days are on the way, I am sure of it now. 🙂

Xo
Leah

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I Adore You

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Sometimes these days seem

Too hard

The changes tossing us back and forth

Like a ship on a turbulent sea

Moments fly by far too quickly

Breaking my heart

I long for days past, sweet memories

When the world was just you and me

The tide has changed for us and yet …

Love remains even when we’re apart

I ADORE You

I LOVE You

You are my world

The song in my heart

The reason I keep on

We are STRONGER than this

We are BRAVER than this

We

Will

Be

Ok

We will find a new way …

Love you darling girl,

Xo

Mama

The Beauty of Easter

The beauty of Easter is that Love Wins – Love has won, Love will always win …

We enter into a Season of New Beginnings, the Hope of things to come … and Love extends to all and is for all, that is the Miracle of Easter. And I am not very “churchy” anymore but this quote from Rob Bell really hits home with me especially when you consider how many people will make there once a year pit stop at church tomorrow and stand to be judged by the “faithful,” but is judgement the message of Easter? I think not …

“If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters.”

– Rob Bell

So let’s pause a moment and take on the challenge presented to us … living a life of  “radical acts of service and compassion,” extending grace even when it seems undeserved because Love Wins for all of us not just some of us, that is the message of Easter …

Love, New Beginnings, & Blessings to you …

xo

Leah