Farewell 2018: Leaving the negativity behind

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2016 was the worst year of my life.

It will always be.

Only one thing could happen to me that could top that but I am not going to entertain that thought.

2017 was a fog.  I was surviving.

2018 was the year that I need to stop surviving and start to live again.

When 2018 started, I had a feeling that things were going to be very different by the end of the year.

I was right.

(Funny how that happens…)

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Was 2018 a bad year for me?

Yes and no.

There was a lot of death.  I lost my grandmother and two friends.

The year was full of hard lessons.

I had to learn that people and things are not always what they purport themselves to be.

I had to learn that I need to look for internal rewards and not to look externally.

I had to learn to release and let go.

I had to learn to live again and make decisions on the direction of my life.

I had shit thrown at me.

But I survived it.  And I am smarter for it.

I learned what was really important.

Seriously, I am 40-year-old woman, who has been to Hell and back and I have a small child dependent on me.  It was time for me to focus on what was important.

Last year I didn’t write much in December.  I was beginning to think this year was going to be the same.  However, I think over the next couple of weeks, as part of the releasing process, I am going to write posts about what I am leaving behind in 2018.

Kind of like a farewell rock tour but less cooler.  A lot less cooler.

I am going to take all the negativity that was thrown my way, put it on an imaginary Viking funeral Ship, light it on fire (again, imaginary.  I don’t want to blamed for starting any fires.) and send it off.

If you have anything you need to release before we begin 2019, I invite you to put them on the imaginary Viking funeral ship.

A little life update. Well, kinda.

I realize that I probably oversold the topic.  You probably read that and got very excited.

But I have nothing life changing to report.

I am still living in the same house with no plans to move.

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I am still working my same “day ” job.  (I have day in quotes because I work many of my hours after my daughter goes to bed.)

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A Monday joke because it is Monday

And no, I am not dating.  Not even close.  And that is okay.  I am focused on myself and my daughter at the moment anyway.

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So I didn’t mean to get your hopes up on anything you could possibly gossip about me.  Well, I did have a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction this weekend.  Nothing scandalous, just annoying. But that happens a lot when you are…well…shaped like me.  Whatever.  Though I am a little pissy because I spent close to $100 bucks on alterations at David’s Bridal.  Luckily Kimmy Gibbler had double sided tape.  She’s amazing.  She thinks of everything.

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So nothing major.  Same house.  Same job.  Same relationship status.  Just taking a little time to re-center going from Spring (though really it has been more of a Sprinter this year) to Summer.

It has been a crazy 6 or 7 weeks.  I would count but I am too lazy to at the moment.

At the end of March, I went to Chicago and Wisconsin.  In April,  I went to Philadelphia and Boston/Salem.  In May we had the Derby Party and a very special wedding.

Needless to say that I am tired and hopefully things will be slowing down here.  I don’t mean that in a manner that I don’t appreciate the busyness of the past 7 weeks.  It has been a fun and happy time. But it has been tiring.

As we enter into summer, I need to recenter and re-focus.  I have a lot of housekeeping to do,  literally and figuratively.

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Around my house, I have been slowly cleaning out and donating items.  Usually one or two bags or boxes a week.  It still hasn’t made a dent but I refuse to let anything new enter the house.  My new rule is, if it comes in a box, the box then has to be filled with items to donate.  Even if the box came from Amazon with a birthday present for someone else’s kid and the original contents of the box won’t be staying in the house.  The rule in the McKim house is that if something comes in, something has to go out.

I plan to stay closer to home this summer but I do have some traveling happening including a trip coming up on Memorial Day weekend as well as a trip to Boston in June for a Red Sox game.  A college friend of mine has expressed interest in meeting up in Boston and I would love to see her so that may be happening.  But my travel will be more spread out and casual in nature.

Staying close to home doesn’t mean boring.  My daughters dance recital is coming up and I am keeping her in dance and gymnastics over the summer because she enjoys it so why not?  I also have a few concerts to go to that I am really excited about.

I will be spending more time on my writing.  I started writing a book and I hope to finish it before the end of summer.  It isn’t the book I envisioned I would be writing first but I felt the inspiration to start it and went with that.  I don’t think this will affect the frequency as to when I post on the blog.  I will update you all when it is close to being finished.

I also have a few other ideas for projects but they are in the baby stages so I am going to refrain from sharing them.  I want to see if they will take off before I share them.

What do you have coming up this summer?

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Public Service Anouncement: A widow’s rant

You have heard that someone has died.

It makes you sad.

You think about some fond memories with the deceased.

You may want to write about these lovely memories on Facebook and add a picture.

But for the love of all that is Holy, don’t post anything on social media until the next of kin has made the death public.

While the post may come with good intentions, it is actually one of the most disrespectful things you can do to a grieving person.

This is like births and engagements.  The ones who are the most affected get to share the news.

The next of kin, which is usually the spouse, parents, child or sibling of the deceased has a lot of do before the death is made public.  They have to notify all the other family members and close friends of the death.  And if someone posts about the death before it is made public, then those family members and close friends may hear about the death first on Facebook.

How would you feel if you found out about your aunts death on Facebook?

So please, please, please, save your social media condolences until after the next of kin has shared the news.

Your post will be appreciated.  I was worried that I was only going to remember Bryon as he was in the ICU.  Once I made his death public, Facebook was showered with memories and pictures of him.  After spending five months sitting beside him in the ICU, I was instantly reminded that he was a man who was full of life and I was relieved that that was how he was remembered.

Your post will be appreciated.

But please.

Wait until the death has been made public.

 

Recharging: Hiking at Thatcher State Park

Yesterday morning Kimmy Gibbler asked me if I wanted to go on a hike with the kids to Thatcher State Park.  I was game.  I had never been to Thatcher State Park but I have always heard it was a lovely place to visit.  My local blogging friend Melissa recently visited Thatcher Park and wrote about her trip.

I just had to make an emergency stop at Target to get a pair of sneakers for my daughter because I think I might have left them in Chicago.  Once we got a new pair of sneakers, (and some fruit snacks and some juice boxes and some bottles of water) we were ready.

We didn’t hike long or anywhere steep because we had small children with us, but it was still a really fun outing.   I look forward to many more!

Do you hike? Where do you like to hike?

 

100th post

I don’t feel like I have anything profound to say.

I have written a lot.  I still have a lot more to write.  It’s been a challenge at times to put my emotions into words.

Writing has helped me so much.

Maybe this will be permanent.  Maybe this will be temporary.

I have met new blogging friends and I still have a lot of new blogging friends to meet.

Thank you for the support and thank you for reading!

Exhaustion

I have come to a realization over the past couple of days…I am exhausted.

I am physically tired. I can feel it in my bones.

I am mentally tired.  

I am emotionally tired.

I am spiritually tired.

I always feel like I am behind the eight ball.

I have so much to do and no energy to do it. At times my life feels like an overwhelming mess.  Too much to do. My house is a mess. For the past year and a half, I felt that the mess in my house is just representative of my life.  But is the mess, both the literal and the figurative, ever going to get cleaned up?

I don’t know how to feel rested. I can’t remember the last time I felt rested. Was it before Bryon got sick or was it before my daughter was born? I cant remember.

I went from running on fear and adrenaline to being numb and in a fog. Now that the fog is lifting and life is starting to feel “normal”, I feel empty, hollow and drained.

This empty, hollow and drained feeling is discouraging because I feel like I have worked so hard to be positive.  I feel like I have worked hard to put myself first and it feels like I wated useless energy.

I could just stay home but then I am left alone with my thoughts which get depressing if left to their own devices.  I need the company of my friends right now.  But I am an introvert which means that I naturally need alone time which puts me in a contradictory situation.

When am I going to feel like I have sh*t together again?

Just a quick note

The last ten days have been a whirlwind.  My daughter and I traveled to Chicago to see my best friend and her daughter and the following weekend we went to Maine for my other best friend’s wedding.  I had a great time on both of these trips.  They were good for my soul.  I will blog about these adventures as I catch up over the next couple of days.

There will even be food pics.

I am trying to not be overwhelmed by all the catching up I need to do.  I am trying to embrace the chaos.  Yes, my life is crazy, but I am spending time with amazing people and having some great experiences.  

I have so much to write about.  I just need to find more hours in the day to write.  I just need a few days to catch up and re-center.  And once I do that,  I will share my two recent trips, the garden post I promised Roda, awards posts and everything else.  I hope to resume commenting on my blogging friends’ posts soon.  And I haven’t forgotten about a post for you Linda!

Sunshine Blogger Award

I want to thank James for nominating me for the Sunshine Award.  It is an honor!

And check out his blog.  It is inspiring!

This is an award for those blogs which bring sunshine into your life… interpret it any way you feel is appropriate, but follow these guidelines:

Rules

1.) Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
2.) Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
3.) Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4.) List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Questions Asked of Me:

  • Where is the best place to watch the sunrise or sunset?
    Mount Cadillac in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine.
  • What color do you wear the most often?
    Blue. (I wear a lot of Red Sox shirts) 
  • How many siblings do you have?
    I have one older brother who is 4 years older than me.
  • Which charity would you leave all your money to in the future?
    I would leave all my money to the Bryon C McKim Foundation.  We are working to create scholarships for his college (Siena College) and law school (Albany Law School)
  • If you lived in another country, what would it be?
    I have lived in England. I did a semester of college (or term of uni as my English friends would say) in Winchester.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite candy bars?
    Favorite-Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Twix
    Least Favorite- Butterfinger and Three Muskateers
  • What is you favorite time of day?
    Anytime that is not morning.  I hate the morning.
  • What is the least favorite part of your own blog?
    My least favorite parts would be the posts that I spend a lot of time on and no one reads lol.
  • What food causes you to pig out the most?
    Chips and dip.
  • What actress would you want to meet for coffee?
    Reese Witherspoon
  • Where is your most ticklish spot?
    Do I have to tell?  My armpits.  And if anyone I know reaches for them, I will smack you.

I nominate:

I am usually a rule follower, but I am going to do a cop out and nominate no one and every one.  I feel like the blogging world has been saturated with awards lately and that everyone I know has been nominated.  It’s probably a sign that I need to grow my network of blogging friends.  So if you feel like playing- then you are nominated!

My Questions For You (Most are summer themed):

  • What are your thoughts on camping? Fun or total nightmare?
  • Would you rather go swimming in a pool, lake or ocean?
  • What is your favorite summer memory?
  • Are you going on a vacation this summer?
  • What is your idea of a perfect summer night?
  • What is your favorite type of ice cream?  Flavor?  Soft serve or hard ice cream?
  • What temperature is too hot?
  • What is your favorite food to eat at a BBQ?
  • Do you like flavored coffee? If so, what kind?
  • What is your most favorite thing about Autumn?

A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement — Erica Roman Blog

I have never shared another blog on my blog but this is a must read.  While I myself am not ready to give my heart to someone else, I hope I will someday.  NO ONE has the right to judge a widow or widower when they choose to love again.  Erica nails it.

Yesterday I was very excited to see that the comedian Patton Oswalt had announced his engagement to Meredith Salenger. Now, anyone who know’s me knows that I don’t follow the lives of celebrities at all. I’ve made an exception for him. Our spouses both unexpectedly died within 3 days of each other and both of […]

via A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement — Erica Roman Blog

Living without an agenda

I am a girl of a lot of contradictions.  I am part city girl and I am part small town girl.  I am a quiet introvert but I am also social.  I am part girly girl and I am part tomboy.  I am part homebody and part world traveler.  I attributed my contradictions to the fact that I spent part of my childhood near Boston and part in rural Maine.  But I have also learned that it is typical of my INFJ personality type.

Due to the contradicting nature of my personality, I found that I clung to the aspects of my personality that were more absolute.  I might not know if I am a city girl or a country girl, but I am a New England Girl. I love the Boston Red Sox and fried clams. My heritage and religion stayed the same so I clung to the fact that I am an Irish Catholic. I created an identity for myself and I stayed strong and true to this identity.  I have seen this referred to as a fixed identity.

I also liked to live within my comfort zone.  I did not take risks in my personal or professional life.  I worked hard and moved up in my career, but I never pushed myself to try something unknown.  I never was one to let my guard down in my love life and I would never dream of telling anyone how I felt.  I never would have wound up with Bryon if he didn’t take a risk on me.  

I lived my life with my strong fixed identity in my comfort zone.  I never challenged why I believed certain things.  I never left my comfort zone and therefore I inhibited my own personal growth.  I clung to my likes and dislikes without revisiting them to see if they changed.  I also chose friendships based on how they fit into my fixed identity.

I was a wife and mother.  I worked in healthcare data.  I was an Irish Catholic.  I knew there was a God and that God was loving.  I knew where I stood on the political spectrum.  I knew who my friends were.  Bryon and I lived a life where we had a modern view of traditional gender roles where we both worked, but Bryon did the work around the house and the yard and killed bugs and I changed diapers, made sure there was milk in the fridge and unsuccessfully tried to keep up with the laundry.  Bryon was a proud husband and father.  He worked hard to provide and he didn’t want me to worry about anything.   I worried about things that weren’t really problems, but Bryon always assured me that everything was going to be okay.  I lived a very safe and secure life.  I was happy with my life and felt no need to question my identity or push myself out of my comfort zone.

Then the crisis hit.

In a five day period my husband went from recovering from a minimally invasive surgery to clinging for his life in the ICU.  I was not prepared for this outcome.  We were at a large regional medical center.  Up until this point, I believed in the healthcare system and that it worked.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening.  

I didn’t know what to do. Bryon always made sure everything was alright and now I had to be the strong one.  I wanted to curl up and pretend it was all a bad dream because it didn’t feel real.  But I had to stay strong for him. How could I expect him to survive if I gave up on him?  I felt helpless.  I was at the mercy of the doctors and God, both of which failed us.  

I vowed to myself that if Bryon had survived, I was going to be a better wife.  I wasn’t going to take him for granted.  I knew that if Bryon was to survive that he would likely have some permanent damage to his body.  I started to think research who the best doctors were in Boston and New York.  Life wasn’t going to be how we envisioned, but that didn’t matter.  All that mattered was Bryon surviving.

For five months, I was at Bryon’s side while trying to make our daughter’s life as normal as possible.  The latter I was able to do with the help of my parents, the staff at my daughter’s daycare and my friends who filled in any child care gaps. For five months, I prayed for a miracle that wouldn’t happen and I watched him slowly die.

Enter widowhood.  

Widowhood is an ultimate game changer.

For five months, my life was mostly spent in an ICU room. For five months I listened to beeping machines and heard medical terms and jargon thrown around.  When Bryon died, I had to get re-acquainted to living in the world again.  It was a combination of widow fog and the re-entry shock that was similar to when I returned to the United States after studying in England for three months.

My life was permanently altered.  I had held out hope that Bryon was going to survive and now that hope was crushed.  It wasn’t like I went back to my old life.  I couldn’t go back to my old life.  Bryon wasn’t there.  He wasn’t just a detail in my life. He was my rock and our life was built around that rock.  The core of my life wasn’t just shattered, it was completely gone.  All our hopes and dreams were gone.  Bryon had spent years working on a career that would never progress past where he was in March 2016.  We were never going to have our second child or buy a bigger house.  We weren’t going to take the cruises we were planning.  Our life was gone.  My life was gone.

When Bryon was in the hospital, my only semblance of normalcy was my daughter.  I still got up with her in the morning, I still took her to daycare, and when my parents would return to Maine periodically, I put her to bed at night.  And after Bryon died, the only thing that kept me going was my daughter.  I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day, but I had to get up and take care of my daughter.  She gave me a purpose to live.

When you go through this kind of loss, it changes you.  I learned that I was much, much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.  I learned that I am smarter and more resourceful than I thought I was.  I also learned that my threshold for bull sh*t is lot lower than I thought it was.

I learned what it meant to have courage.  Courage to wake up in the morning.  Courage to move forward with my career with a new company.  Courage to let people into my life.  Courage to let go of negative people who were self serving and tore others down.  Courage to share my story.

I have always been an introvert, but I learned that I needed people, more than I ever could have imagined.  I am lucky because I learned that I had a strong support system who continues to be there for me.  Before widowhood happened, I was content in my own thoughts.  But since Bryon died, I can’t be left in my own thoughts for too long or they become dark and intensely sad.  I need my relationships to keep me positive and hopeful of the future.  I still think a lot and I read a lot but chatting with my friends keeps me balanced.

After a crisis such as this one, every core belief you had is questioned.  How can I believe that a loving God would do this to me?  I believe in God, or a higher power at the very least, but I no longer believe that He is a loving God.  That opinion always upsets people but it upsets me that people don’t sincerely try to understand my point of view before defending God.   I am beginning to read up on Buddhism and it makes a lot of sense to me.  But I don’t think I will ever completely give up my title as Catholic girl.  

While I don’t think I am going to switch political parties anytime soon, I get frustrated on my party’s view of healthcare.  But I also get frustrated with the other party’s view too.  Both parties play a proverbial tug of war.  But the problems in healthcare are not on a linear spectrum.  The problems run deeper than just access and cost.  Who cares about if it’s accessible or how much it costs if there is no quality?  But people can’t understand that unless they live through something like this.

I’ve stopped worrying about the small things.  I take more risks.  One of the worst possible things that could have happened to me did happen and I survived.  The small things don’t matter.  You can change your mind.  Most decisions don’t have a lasting impact. Most things can be reversed or fixed.  

My identity is not fixed.  If I remain open, I might learn new things.  I may meet new people who could change my life.  I could open myself up to new experiences, new hobbies and new ideas.  I could have undeveloped dimensions of my personality that I never would have developed before I was convinced I knew who I was and what my plan was.  I was so concerned about the next five steps that I wasn’t truly living in the present.

Now there are very few things I can say with certainty.  That I will live my life in the present and focus on what matters:

I need to live my life to the fullest.  I owe Bryon that much.  He gave me so much during his short time here and I need to learn from him.  

I am going to make positive changes as the result of Bryon’s death.

And that I am going to be the best mother I can be and help my daughter be the best version of herself.  

And I am going to love those around me as hard as possible.