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.

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.

 

Festivus for the Rest of Us: Airing of Grievances

Happy Festivus!

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I admit that I am a “cherry-picker” when it comes to Festivus.  I do not have a Festivus pole (yet), or do Festivus dinner or Feats of Strength.

However, I do participate in the Airing of Grievances.

And here they are in no particular order.

  1. The fact that my throat chakra is always blocked.  Could it be because no one listens to me, especially my 5 year old who has selective hearing?   Could it be the fact that I have brought once up the truth to people who were important to my life at the time and they choose to believe the lie? Could it be the fact that I don’t speak my mind because I know people won’t understand and I don’t bother?
  2. The new Welcome to Maine sign.  It’s stupid and it was a complete waste of money.

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    The one that has been there forever needs to come back.

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  3. Negative People
  4. The fact that I am an empath and I absorb the energy of the aforementioned negative people.

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  5. The fact that there is not a decent Mexican or Italian restaurant in our town.
  6. The fact that our government is a circus
  7. The fact that so many people didn’t pay attention to their high school Civics class.
  8. Narcissists and Toxic people.  They need help but they won’t ever take responsibility for your actions and they will continue to hurt people for their own gain.  I am just grateful that I am getting better at recognizing those behaviors and I run.

    Difficult People

  9.  People who project onto other people.
  10. Hypocrisy
  11. People who are only religious to make a political statement.
  12. The fact that people can say insensitive stuff to people who are grieving and people tell the one who is grieving that they need to get over it.  Maybe other people need to be more sensitive?
  13. Potholes.  ( I stole that one from Amy in our most recent episode of Xennial Mom Podcast)
  14. Crowds
  15.  People who don’t look inside themselves and people who don’t do inner work.
  16. People who only listen to respond, not to understand.
  17. People who drive under the speed limit.
  18. The fact that I formatted this post with a space between each grievance and WordPress put all the text together when I previewed it.  I am sorry.  Blame WordPress.  (Squarespace is looking more appealing, but I don’t want to have to migrate my data).
  19. The fact I will think of more grievances after this.

Have a Happy Festivus and a Joyous Holiday Season.

 

 

Weekly Gratitude #3: I Just Might Make It

I have enjoyed popping onto social media the past couple days and seeing their Thanksgiving posts.

Some people posted pictures of their Thanksgiving spreads and I have enjoyed looking at them. I am always curious who serves what sides and what pies. I even had a friend post a picture of “apple bombs” that looked like, well, the bomb.

Other people made posts about how grateful they are.

I didn’t get around to posting my finished spread or a gratitude post. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I just was busy leading up to the main meal and tiredness overcame me.

My brain is always thinking about deeply philosophical thoughts. I might seem distracted by whatever part of my brain thinks about these things is always running, like a background program on your computer or tablet or phone or whatever your preferred electronic device is.

And true to my Double Virgo perfectionism, I wanted to get my thoughts out correctly.

Over the past week, I have seen various Facebook memories of Thanksgiving pasts pop up.

I thought about how Thanksgiving evolved over my lifetime.

As a child, we would have dinner with extended family. My family rotated Holiday dinners. If we spent Thanksgiving with the Sullivans, then Christmas dinner would be with the Crowley’s that year and then we’d swap Holidays the next year. And we’d always stop in with the other side later in the day as both sets of my grandparents lived in the same town.

Then my grandfather died and we hosted Thanksgiving for a couple of years until we moved to Maine.

Then we had Thanksgiving dinners in Maine with my immediate family and various Holiday orphans for many years.

There was that one year where I was studying in England and I cooked Thanksgiving for 9 people. I learned that putting stuffing in the bird was a huge “no-no” on that side of the pond and that you can’t get canned pumpkin in the UK. We also had mashed swede. I didn’t know what swede was but I said sure. I learned from my friends that swede is a root vegetable. Google tells me that it isa rutabaga.

Then Bryon came into the picture and we spent a couple of Thanksgiving traveling to Maine. We’d listen to Free Beer and Hot Wings Radio Show during the drive because they would have people call in to say how they ruined Thanksgiving. One year we drove him in a blizzard.

Once our daughter was born, my parents and brother drove to New York to visit us. One year they drove in a blizzard.

Then Bryon died.

I didn’t want to host and I also remember that driving to Maine wasn’t an option because I was starting a new job. So we met at my brothers in New Hampshire.

Since then, I spent my grandmother’s last two Thanksgivings with her.

I thought about the traditions.

The old ones like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the new ones of like going on a shopping trip at the LL Bean Store in Freeport.

I thought about how some recipes have trickled down like my grandmother’s rolls (I was lucky that my uncle took a picture of the recipe from my grandmother’s book and sent it to me. I did locate a used copy on Amazon for $6).

Or certain foods even if I don’t have the actual recipe like creamed onions (don’t use the water, the 3 cups of milk/cream suffice) and chocolate cream pie.

I thought about how Sullivan Thanksgiving had canned cranberry and homemade cranberry sauce because my Uncle Peter refused to eat the canned stuff.

I thought about how I try to recreate the stuffing like Bryon made it.

I thought about how we always had apple cider at Thanksgiving and Christmas on the Sullivan side and there was the one year that my frugal grandmother saved the leftover cider from Thanksgiving for the following Christmas. Yeah…I am sure you can figure out what happened…

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I started thinking about that first Thanksgiving without Bryon.

This was only a little over three months after.

I was coming out of the rawest stage of grief and it was starting to sink in that I was going to have to live the rest of my life without Bryon.

I was not looking forward to the Holidays.

I took over cooking that year, partially because I love to cook and partially to keep myself busy.

I saw this status and I can see just how far I have come.

It was the first day I didn’t cry.

Three years later, those days are still few. I still cry most days though it is different.

My tears are very quick and subtle, usually only lasting a minute or two.

The tears from the early days where of despair.

Now the tears are from a softer, chronic sadness.

Tears because I still miss him.

Tears for Bryon for his life that ended too soon and all that he is missing.

Tears for my daughter because she will grow up not knowing her father.

Tears of compassion for my younger self for all that she endured.

Day to day, it is hard to see how far I have come.

Most days I am busy keeping up with the kindergarten mother life.

I still feel the overall cloud of “ugh” that comes with loss and grief.

And truthfully, I don’t know where I am going or where I will end up.

My life has been a revolving door of change.

In those beginning days I didn’t know of how I was going to survive or if I was even going to survive.

Now I know I am a survivor.

I still don’t know how this story ends.

I am still learning to trust the journey.

I don’t doubt that someday, I will actually make it.

Weekly Gratitude #1

If you have been a longtime reader of my blog (thank you!), you would know that I used to do a weekly gratitude post on Fridays called “Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday.”  It was a fun post to write every week.  I would put in a GIF of Marky Mark. Writing the post gave me a chance to look back on my week and share the highlights.

I stopped doing those posts at the end of 2018.

It wasn’t because I stopped having gratitude.  I just shared a lot about my personal life in those posts.

I didn’t write much because I was burned out.  I went through a lot of change and a lot of healing in 2019.

When Bryon died in 2016, my life changed and I had to heal from that.  Though I will never be 100% healed from that.  Because his death had changed me and his loss will always be in my heart.

2016 will always be the worst year of my life.  (Note to the Universe or God or whoever is in charge- please don’t view this as a challenge to be accepted.  Let it ride).

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2018 was a messy and awkward year. I learned a lot about relationships, human nature and myself.

It was a year that I realized I was totally alone in my grief. Truly alone. Sure, there are people who miss Bryon. Some people miss Bryon a lot. But with all do respect, no one misses Bryon as much as I do.

It’s not rocket science, but psychology does back that up. At least the Social Readjustment Scale does.

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The Social Readjustment Scale ranks life events and rates them based on the stress impact.  Death of Spouse is the number one stresses which ranks 100 on the scale.  Divorce is the second largest stressful event and that ranks at 73 and Marital Separation ranks at 65.  Jail term (63) and Personal Injury (53) round out the top 5.  You can have more than one stressful event and those events can add up to over 100.  But death of spouse is the single most stressful event.

I am not writing these words to be hurtful to those who also miss Bryon.  I am just trying to illustrate the point that his loss was very different for me than anyone else.  Many people are respectful of that, others are not.  Some people are supportive, others are not.  Some people say wonderful things, others said horrible things.

It was a harsh realization when I realized that I was seeking support from the wrong people.  I should have leaned on my online widow tribe more than people who knew Bryon.  Even though our stories are different, we have all experienced level 100 stress.

But this year, I had to turn into myself.

I had to set some boundaries.

This has been a year of change and healing.

I am grateful that I am here.

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And I finally feel inspired to write again.

I truly try to live a life filled with Gratitude.

I thought about bringing back Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday but I decided to retire that series.

I felt like I was just making a weekly list.  Which is fine but I came to the realization that I’d rather pick one thing and delve into it.

And if I ever do feel like making a gratitude list, I can.  Because I am the CEO of this blog.

I was a little sad to start over with a new series. I had 48 Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday and I was hesitant to start over at 1 but life is about change and growth.  I can’t be afraid of change.

I shouldn’t be afraid of change. My life has had enough change over the past couple of years that I feel like I am stuck in a revolving door.

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So I hope you will join me each week and think about the things that you are grateful for.

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