Weekly Gratitude #10: Three Years

Today is my blog’s birthday.

I started this blog as a way to process and cope with all the emotions I was feelings 5 months post-loss.  I was starting to “wake up” from the grief fog and I felt the need to share my emotions as I have noticed a dearth of information to help young widows.  I wanted my information out there so if another widow stumbled across it, they would know that they were not alone.

I also felt the need to share my story because I wanted others to understand the emotions that a widowed person felt, at least from my perspective.  After all, that is the only perspective I can honestly offer.

So much has changed since that time.

At that time I was somewhere between existing and surviving.

Now I am a survivor and on some days, I might even consider myself to be thriving.

Some locations in my story have changed.

Some characters in my story are the same, but some characters are different. I don’t doubt that all the characters in my life are there (or have been there) for a reason.

When I started this blog, my daughter was a toddler.  Now she is a kindergartener.

As I reread some of my earlier blog posts, I feel that strange dichotomy that widows feel.  The dichotomy where my old life and my old self feel current and they exist alongside my new life and new self.

My last two sentences of my first blog post really hit me hard.

“A part of me died with him that morning.  This is the story of the part of me that is still living.”

At that point in time, my soul was completely fractured.  I felt like an empty shell of who I was and I had no clue how I was going to move forward.

Now it is three years later.  I have survived.  I have grown.

Yes, a part of me may have died the same morning Bryon did but the part of me that is still living has forged ahead.

She has grown back into a whole, albeit different, person.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this ride.  As I said the other day, nothing ever lasts forever.  But I appreciate all of you who continue to travel this journey with me.

The Beginning

Today my blog turns three. This is the blog post that started it all.

Running Forward...My Way

You could say that my story began on August 30, 1978 at 7:55 am at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston because that is when I entered this world.  It was the beginning of my childhood in the Boston area with my Irish-Catholic family.  My childhood was pretty ordinary, filled with bike rides, Barbies and games of tag and hide and go seek.  I had a strong sense of where I came from.  I was fortunate enough to know all four of my grandparents.  I also grew up around many aunts, uncles and cousins.  It was in my childhood that I developed my love for dogs, history, the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots, hoodsies and fried clams.  I also developed a Boston accent that still manages to slip out when I am emotional or have been drinking.

You could say that my story really began early morning on…

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Stay In Your Own Lane

Alternate Title: Why I hate advice.

Do you ever feel like you live in a fish bowl?

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As a widow, I have felt like I live in a fishbowl.

I accept responsibility for part of that.  After all, I do put some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet because…therapy.

And I also felt called to create a space where other widows  (and other people who may be suffering from an emotional loss) may not feel so alone.  And I have made some cool friends from this blog so that’s a win.

Somewhere along the way, people started thinking it was okay to tell me how to live my life.

I got unsolicited advice on so many topics.

I got unsolicited advice on how to raise my child, how to manage my time, how to manage my money, when I should date again, what my physical and emotional boundaries should be and even on how to grieve and how to widow.

I do not need to be told how to grieve or how to widow.

I even had other widows tell me how to widow.  Yeah…my experience isn’t the same as yours, mmmmkay?

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Why do so many people feel the need to tell other people how to live their lives?

Why are so many people concerned with what everyone else is doing?

Why can’t people just stay in their own lanes?

Seriously.

If you are giving unsolicited advice- you must be an expert.

You must know everything about everything.

Maybe you have mastered Life.  Maybe your little plastic car is filled with kids and you have money and always spin a 10.

Your life must be perfect because you have nothing to improve so you are looking externally for something to occupy your mind.  Your life must be so perfect that there is no room for improvement.

Because you wouldn’t think of giving love advice if you can’t hold onto a relationship.

Nor would you give money advice if your credit score is in the toilet.

You wouldn’t give career advice if you are underpaid and hate your job, right?

I didn’t think so.

Before you give unsolicited advice, clean up your own life.

Stay in your own lane.

It’s none of your business how other people choose to live their lives.

Stay in your own lane.

What might work for you may not work for other people.  Because they are not you.

It is so easy to look at someone’s life and to have an opinion.

Keep that opinion to yourself.

It isn’t your life.

Most people just need time to figure their own shit out.

Sure, you can offer to help in a positive manner.

But keep your G-D opinion to yourself.

Give people the space to let them sort out their problems on their own timeline.

If they need your help, they will likely ask for it.

Stay in your own lane.

This also works in the reverse.

If you are living your life, sorting out your own shit and minding your own business and someone tries to offer you unsolicited advice, you don’t need to accept it.

Don’t let it distract you or upset you.

Don’t let doubts take hold.

Stay in your own lane.

Stay in your lane unless you make the decision to change lanes and do it when you feel safe to do so.  Not because someone is making you.

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Nothing ever lasts forever.

I don’t who needed that message, but here it is.

Nothing ever lasts forever.

But what does that even mean?

Nothing ever lasts forever.

We live in a physical world where time is linear and is always moving forward.

But in addition to the linear timeline, we have so many other factors that are affected by time.  Things like energy, emotions, love, hate,  relationships, money, planetary alignments, memories and outside events we can’t control.  Just to be clear- this is not an exhaustive list.

Things are always changing and nothing ever lasts forever.

The good things don’t last forever.  Relationships can fall apart.  Couples can grow apart or someone can die. Friendships can end.  A job you like may end abruptly.

But neither do the bad things.  Bad things will eventually turn around.  Maybe not as quickly as you may like, but they will turn around eventually.

So if the things are good right now – cherish them because they probably won’t always be good.

And if things are rough right now- try to hang in there.  Things are bound to turn up soon.

Karaoke Side Door Cafe Albany 2012
Karaoke 2012

 

Weekly Gratitude #9: Focus on what can go right.

It has been a week.

We had sickness in the house.  Nothing major, just a low grade fever and a cold that seems to be going around but it still warranted a day off from school.

I also had my work computer malfunction.  It would not connect to my WiFi.  At first I blamed Spectrum but it turns out it was a Windows 10 issue.

Sorry, Spectrum!

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My company had to overnight a new computer to me.   in less than 24 hours.

I am grateful for my company’s IT department who spend hours on the phone with me trying to figure out the problem.

And to Fed Ex.  I am impressed that Fed-Ex got it about 2/3 across the country to my corner of the country

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I was able to get my computer up and running and finish my work week strong.

But while the computer was in transit, I spent many hours worrying that something was going to happen in transit.  I was stressing about not getting enough work done for our client.

And it was all for nothing.

Everything worked out okay.

I spent so much time worrying about what could go wrong when I should have been focused on what could go right.  I thought I had left that habit in my old life, but I still relapse sometime.

I don’t get too esoteric on this blog, but I will venture there today.

The spiritual gurus say that thoughts are powerful and that like attracts like.  If that is true, then why are so many of us negatives with our thoughts?

Why are we so many of us resistant to letting things work out the way they are supposed to? Or even better than they were supposed to?

Some of us have been conditioned to always expect the worst.  To keep our expectations low.  And while failures and mishaps can and will happen, I challenge everyone to ponder what would happen if we started to expect good things to happen.

At the very least, maybe you won’t feel fear and dread.  Those are such heavy emotions.

But maybe some good things will happen.

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My Biggest Grievance as an Iced Coffee Drink

I love Iced Coffee. 

It isn’t because I dislike hot coffee. I am usually just too thirsty to drink coffee hot.

I love Iced Coffee.

It is a joke that those of us from New England have Dunkin Iced coffee running through our veins.

I recently had a Dunkin Iced coffee and there was some plastic in it so I am turned off to Dunkin Iced at the moment. 

I recently visited another coffee establishment in town. It was later in the evening. I had ordered iced coffee from them at a late hour before with no incident.

The girl working was someone I did not recognize. (Some of the people working know my order right when I pull up).

I asked for my order. I was told that they did not have that type of iced coffee.

I asked what kind of Iced Coffee did they have and the girl working said House Blend and Dark Roast.

I opted for House Blend.

It took her a while to figure out how to ring my order into the register and then I gave her my money.

I wait.

I get my drink and it is warm. 

I inquired with the girl working why my iced coffee was warm.

She responds that it was hot coffee but it was okay because she added ice.

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I pointed out to her that iced coffee does not work that way.  All the hot coffee does is melt the ice and this drink will just be a watered-down, lukewarm coffee.

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I feel that someone who works in a coffee shop should know that iced coffee needs to be concentrated so when the ice melts, it still tastes like coffee.

I asked her why didn’t she tell me that she just didn’t have any iced coffee when I asked her what other types of iced coffee they had.

She looks at me with a dumbfounded expression.

She said she already dumbed the iced coffee because it was late.  She obviously didn’t understand the question.

I doubt she even drinks coffee.

I should have asked for a refund. I feel like this girl wouldn’t have known how to do that either. 

All I ended up was pissed, with a watered-down, lukewarm coffee that tasted like water and the flavored syrup.

My father always told me that I expect too much from people and maybe I do.

Maybe it’s the fact that I paid $3.51 for an iced coffee that was undrinkable.

Maybe 2020 will be the year that I start making iced coffee at home.

Or start drinking enough water that I am not too thirsty to drink hot coffee.

 

Weekly Gratitude #8: Christmas with the Casales

I had two Rounds of Christmas this year.

I had my Christmas here in Maine which has been shown prominently on my Instragram. (Can you blame me?  I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I am going to Instagram that shit)

Then I had Christmas in New York with my New York family.

My New York family is not biologically related to me.  But these people were there with me during Bryon’s last hours on this planet. They were with me at the funeral home when I picked out Bryon’s casket, helped write his obituary and made sure that his funeral had an open bar with wristbands.

They have been there for me throughout the darkest of my days and have never asked for anything in return, nor have they thrown it in my face.

And I know these people love my daughter more than most people on this planet.

I feel really awkward calling them “these people.”  They are so much more than that, but I don’t feel comfortable using people’s real names in my blog.  Usually, I ask people for input on their blog nicknames, but it is almost midnight as I write this and I don’t want to wake them. Especially since I may have woken them up with this hysterical picture of my daughter putting her sweatshirt on backwards.

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It was a rough morning.  First day back at school after the holidays.  My daughter and I laughed for a solid 5 minutes when this was happening and I wanted to share it with her Godmother and eventually the whole internet.

There we go.  I will refer to one half of “Those people” as her Godmother and the other half as Mr. Uncle V.

I did use their surname in the blog title, but that was because I am a bit of a word nerd and I enjoy the aesthetics of alliteration.

I am grateful for the time we got to spend in NY with our NY family.

Yes, they have always treated us like family and their extended family has always welcomed us.

Yes, they have a beautiful house and they served lots of amazing food.

Downton Abbey has nothing on them, except Mr. Bates.  I may have a bit of a crush on Mr. Bates.  I would have been alright if Mr. Bates was walking around.

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I also got to observe how homemade pasta was made.  It blew my Irish-American mind.  And it was delicious too.

I enjoyed a delicious drink called Rum, Rum, Runaway and drank some good wine.

My daughter’s Godmother and Mr. Uncle V are such great people and they are always surrounded by great people.  This makes sense since like attracts like.  I know they are busy, but they still always find time for people, including my daughter and me.

They are literally two of the smartest people I know.

And some of the most fun people I know as demonstrated by late-night games of Family Feud.

Sometimes I struggle with the whole concept of putting the past behind me and moving into the future. Sometimes I have to “numb out” to the past or else I will never move forward and my mind will go on like it’s binge-watching all the seasons of  This is Us only it’s Bryon that’s dead and not Jack Pearson.

It gets complicated when it comes to certain relationships.  Some people have left my life willingly.  Some were toxic and I had to proactively cut out of my life.

But some people I want to stay though sometimes the forces of life just feel like I am supposed to choose between past and present.

And I am grateful that there are people in my life who want to stay with me for the wild and bumpy ride.  People who love me enough that they want to see me thrive.  People who loved Bryon and also knew how deep my love was for Bryon, but they also want to see me move forward.

It might be a shocker, but not everyone feels that way.

Like, life dealt me this shitty hand and I am not supposed to grow from the experience.

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Being around my friends and their family and friends (now my friends…I think…I hope…) made me realize that I don’t have to give up that piece of my life.  I have spent so much time getting reacquainted with my younger self and my present self, but I have to accept that those political years are just as much a part of me as the younger years.

I am grateful I got to spend the Holidays with them.  And I am also grateful for the clarity I got about my life from being around them.