18 Lessons I learned in 2018

This is my final word about 2018.

At least on this blog.

Was 2018 really that bad?

Maybe.

But 2016 will always be the worst year of my life.

There was a lot of negativity in 2018.

And some very hard lessons.

I am grateful for those lessons because pain brings growth.

I absolutely refuse to carry that into 2019.

At the beginning of 2018, I felt like the year was going to end very differently than it began.

2018 started with the funeral of a good friend (followed by two more, one of which was my grandmother.) I also lost an old high school friend in July.

I traveled every month except July. Austin, Boston, NYC, Philly, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Ohio. I spent a lot of time in Maine and it has felt good to be home.

I suffer from wanderlust and traveling has been good for my soul. It’s been part of my healing process.

It was a year of reunions. I saw my cousin three times and I saw my Chicago best friend three times.

And the year ended with a fabulous wedding between two amazing friends.

I am leaving with this list of 18 lessons I learned.

In no particular order-

Kerry’s top 18 lesson from 2018

1. I have come far from my early days of grief.

2. The Paw Patrol can fix anything. No job too big, no pup too small.

3. Forgiving people really is for me. A quote that reasonated with me was that by not forgiving, it is like you are drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The offending party doesn’t care how you feel. In fact, they may enjoy that you are upset. So forgive and let to.

However…

4. Forgiving someone does not mean you grant them absolution for what they did. It just means you’ve let go of the anger for yourself. It doesn’t mean that the offending party is off the hook.

5. You are not entitled to anyone’s loyalty.

6. Be careful who YOU are loyal to and who YOU trust. No one is entitled to your loyalty and trust but don’t be stingy to those who do deserve it.

7. Let go of friends who took me for granted and don’t respect my boundaries. And that’s okay.

8. Boundaries are everything.

9. Truly appreciate the friends who are supportive and continue to truly be there for you.

10. I am an empath. Not to be confused with empathetic. Empaths absorb the emotions of those around them. It’s overwhelming at times. You have to work out your emotions vs others.

11. Empaths attract narcissists and I need to avoid narcissists.

12. It doesn’t matter where I go, Bryon will find me. He even found me on what would have been our 6th wedding anniversary while I was waiting for my lunch at a takeout window at a clam shack on the Maine Coast.

13. It’s amazing how much a 4 year old can teach me.

14. I need to stop trying to please people. Some people will never be satisfied.

15. It is important to love yourself.

16. Everyone is free to make their own choices You are only responsible for YOUR choices and no one else’s.

17. I can’t do the fake and superficial thing.

18. I am officially out of give a f*cks. I have no f*cks to give. All out of f*cks.

I do not know what is in store for 2019 but I am ready! It’s going to be a good year.

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #46

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

 

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instagram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  West Albany Fire Department

    Every year the West Albany Fire Department drives Santa and Mrs Claus around so the kids can run out and meet them.  It’s a fun tradition.

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  2. Christmas Magic

    When I was pregnant, I posted in a forum for women who were pregnant and due within the month of September 2014.  I met a local friend and we became Facebook friends and texted off and on through the years.  We never met in person.

    Until the West Albany Fire Department Santa brought us together to meet in person.  Christmas Magic exists!

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  3. A fun tradition

    Every year my daughter and I would make cookies with Bryon’s best friend and his family.  His son and my daughter are best friends as well.  This year we made gingerbread houses for their school assignment.

    I couldn’t get a picture that wasn’t blurry.  This was the clearest picture I had.

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  4. Advair

    Two weeks ago I wrote about the Pre-K plague.  Well I thought it was gone.  Then this week I did not feel well at all.  I went to the doctor and I have some sort of upper respiratory viral thing.  The doctor said she was not sure if this is a new illness or the Pre-K plague that is lingering.  But she prescribed Advair.   I am feeling better and I am grateful for that.

    Spoiler Alert: there will be no C25k update this week.  I am resting this week.  I have asthma and I know that I need to take care of this respiratory illness now.  My doctor didn’t tell me that I couldn’t run but she told me that I needed to be careful how much I pushed myself.  If it wasn’t the week before Christmas, I would have probably tried to run a little.  But I am exhausted with Christmas Prep.  I have a two week buffer zone between what when I thought couch to 5k was ending and the start of half marathon training so I have wiggle room.  If I can do week 2 of C25k sick, then I can jump into week 3 with healthy lungs.

  5. 61F on Summer Solstice

    It wasn’t quite the 74F we had on Christmas Eve in 2015 (Bryon’s Last Christmas) but 61 degrees in December is still very nice.

    And I am excited that the days will slowly start getting longer.  More time to run in the afternoon!

What are you grateful for this week?

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Farewell 2018: Leaving behind fear

 

One of the biggest obstacles about moving forward is the fear.

Fear?  What fear?

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Fear of letting go.

Fear of things not going the way I expect.

fear of life feeling empty.

Fear that I will never be understood.

Fear of re-acclimating.

Fear that I will forget.

I have discussed in this blog about how I am currently in what I think of as “Phase III” of my grief journey.

To give a refresher-

Phase I: The first 3-6 months of widowhood.  My whole world was shattered and I am trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to my life.  Getting out of bed and showering are a struggle.

Phase II: The period between 3-6 months and about two years.  It was the phase where I had to accept that Bryon was gone and I needed to get used to him being gone.

And now I am in Phase III.

Phase III is the phase where I need to move forward with my life.

It’s not just enough to visualize it or talk about it.

I need to do it.

I know I need to do this but there is always something holding me back.

I am excited.

But there are these fears that hold me back.

The fear that if I move forward, then I will have to let go of Bryon.  Of course, I will never completely let go but taking those first few steps are the hardest.

The fear to be hopeful because you don’t want to be disappointed.

The fear that my new life will be unfulfilling?

I need to leave these fears in 2018.

If I bring them with me, they will prevent me from achieving my dreams.

So fear much be put on the imaginary Viking Funeral Ship, set on fire and set off.

What fears are you leaving behind in 2018?

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.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #44

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

 

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

I am getting used to this new Gutenberg editor in WordPress.  I liked it when creating my last post but it is pissing me off while writing this post.  And for the love of all that is Holy, I can’t figure out how to name my own permalink.  I had to go back to Classic Editor.  Not cool, WordPress. 

Those of you on WordPress- what do you think?  

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week?

1. President George H.W. Bush

There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said by people far more distinguished than me.  I am just happy I got to experience George H.W. Bush as my president.  He represented an America that I am not sure even exists anymore.  

People can say what they want about the Bush’s and their relationship with the Clintons and the Obamas but I think it is a great reminder that we are all people.  

My heart broke for President George W. Bush during his eulogy.

And I was in awe when Senator Bob Dole took every ounce of strength he had to salute the President. 

It really is the end of an era.

2. Last Weekend in Maine

I am not going to delve too deeply into the past weekend since I wrote about it (and my unsuccessful search for my Christmas Hallmark Man) here.  But it was good to be home.

My next four things (I added a bonus) are all related to being sick. My daughter brought home a nasty cold from school and I have caught it.  Last night I went to bed at 7:30pm which is very unusual as I am usually awake until 1am or 2am. I do feel like I am on the mend but I will be taking it easy for the next week or two. 

3. Elderberry Syrup

4. Himayalan Salt Inhalor

5. Vick’s Vapor Rub

6. Sleep

What are you grateful for this week?

Kerry McKim’s Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas, Episode 1

*This story is a satirical piece based on the real life events of Kerry McKim.  This written work is meant to be humorous. This story is not affiliated  in any way with  the Hallmark Channel though some may argue that it should be.  Currently there are no plans to be affiliated with the Hallmark Channel…yet.

While the shopping began weeks ago, this years Christmas Story began last weekend.  I was home visiting my parents and I decided that it was going to be the day where I get to live in a Hallmark movie.

All the enlightened guru’s say that we create our own realities.  Let’s face it, I am bouncing back from a shitty period of my life.  I always feel good when I watch Hallmark movies so why not make it my reality.

I have a lot going for me.  Let’s look at the facts.

I am a widow ✔

I have a cute kid ✔

I was  in my hometown, which is a small coastal Maine town ✔

It’s Christmastime ✔

Now I just to need find one of these single, good looking, successful, 
emotionally available middle aged  men that seem to be wandering around Small Town America.   

The “emotionally available” part if very important.  I know a lot of these Hallmark Christmas Men have chips on their shoulders.  I can handle that.  But he needs to be emotionally available.  I am the widow who needs someone to show me that love still does exist and it is all around.

This is my half-assed Hallmark story and I can add Love Actually references if I want to.

I will note that I did have a few things working against me-

❌ I was not there to save the Christmas parade. It seems like I was not needed.  The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce seems to be handing it just fine.

❌ I was not here to save the family business. There is no family business. Unless you count the postal service and I don’t have have the super powers of Candice Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert to go against that bureaucracy.  

❌ I came to realize that nothing needed to be saved.  My family home is safe and we don’t have a family farm to save.

❌ I don’t own a vintage red pickup truck.  I own a red Subaru Forester and a blue pickup and my father has a new red pickup truck.  But no vintage red pickup truck.  This is problematic because in addition to the cuteness factor of an old red pickup truck, many Hallmark movies involve a Hallmark Christmas Man rescuing a damsel in distress due to her unreliable vehicle.  My late husband made sure I had the safest winter car there is and I have been maintaining the vehicle.  Hallmark Christmas Man will have to find another way to help me.

❌ I also don’t have a high school ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t cool enough or pretty enough I guess.   

(I really need to get over this emotional block considering I am in my 40s now).

Since I didn’t need to save a business, a home, a farm or Christmas in general, I decided to go to the local Christmas parade.

I got to town about a half an hour before the parade.  My daughter is in that phase where any unit of time that isn’t “right now” is “a very long time” so I didn’t want to be standing there waiting.  

I was worried about parking.  I was having trouble locating a spot and then I see a man directing cars into a Baptist church parking lot.  I was excited.  I did not attend that church when I lived there because I am Catholic but I had cash in my pocket and my adopted New York ways just assumed I would to pay to park anyway.  I tried to hand the attendant some money and he seemed surprised and he declined the cash.  He did invite us to cookies and hot chocolate at the church after the parade.

Cookies and hot chocolate at a small town church did seem like something that would happen in a Hallmark Christmas movie.  But I am still mad at God and I didn’t want my Hallmark Christmas movie to be one where I find God.  Especially if that meant that I would have to convert to another form of Christianity to meet my Hallmark Christmas Man. 

My Hallmark Christmas Man is going to have to accept my “It’s Complicated” relationship status with Catholicism

I knew that my Hallmark Christmas Man could have been there eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate but I was willing to take that risk.

I went looking for a friend of mine.  She was convinced Hallmark Christmas Man and I were going to go after the same piece of candy that was thrown at the crowds.  Our eyes were going to meet.  I was going to blush.  He was going to say “I haven’t seen you around here before.”

Though that moment never happened.  Turns out my daughter is perfectly able to fend for herself when it comes to candy.

As I was looking for my local friend, I saw an old friend of mine.  She lives in Florida and I hadn’t seen her in about fifteen years.  We had lost contact.  She was in town because her father had passed away.  She has been on my mind a lot lately and I do believe we were meant to bump into each other.  I gave her my contact information and I do hope I hear from her.

I finally found my local friend right before the parade started.

My Dad was in the beginning.

My daughter on the lookout for candy.  

I thought I was smart because I grabbed a plastic grocery store bag to hold candy.  Turns out it had a hole.  Luckily there was enough freebies like a local newspaper and frisbees that I was able to plug up the hole and still be able to use the bag for candy.

There were lots of floats from the community. 

I told you, the parade didn’t need saving.

Since my father was at the beginning of the parade, he was able to make it back before the end of the parade.

Santa!  I know him!

After the parade, I took my daughter to the office of the local newspaper, The Ellsworth American because they give each kid a book.  They had tables set up by age group and each kid could choose a book.  My daughter chose a Snoopy book because her teacher likes Snoopy.

It is worth noting that the local newspaper didn’t need me to save it (though it did just get bought out by the Portland Press Herald) and Hallmark Christmas Man was not there.

My daughter had to use the bathroom so we stopped at the VFW Post that my father belongs to so we could use the facilities.  My daughter was hungry so my father and the other VFW members invited us to crash the cub scout pizza party they were hosting.

I felt a little awkward but my daughter made friends with the kids and I saw a few old friends of mine.  It was great to catch up.

Hallmark Christmas Man was not at the pizza party.  But my father, my daughter and I headed up to the Christmas Tree lot to look for the Perfect Sullivan Family Christmas Tree.  

And maybe Hallmark Christmas Man would be there.  Maybe we would both pick out the same Christmas Tree and fight over it.  That seems to happen a lot.

That didn’t happen.  

My father picked out the Christmas Tree, not me.  And there was no Hallmark Christmas Man fighting with my Dad for the tree.

I will say, it was nice to pick out the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree with my father.  (Think of these as flashback sequences in my Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas).  

The first reason was because we always had an artificial Christmas Tree growing up but my Sullivan grandparents always had a real tree.  My father would tell stories of going to every Christmas tree lot in town with his father (my grandfather).  Apparently my grandfather was very particular about his Christmas Trees.  Though I have memories from some Christmases of my childhood and I remember those trees.

I could tell my father enjoyed remembering his father during the process.

The second reason has to do with “das stand.”

The story of “das stand” started in 2010 when Bryon and I moved into a townhouse in Albany and we were planning on getting our first Christmas tree.  We both felt strongly that we wanted real trees.  On a trip to Maine that fall, I bought a $2 Christmas tree stand at Marden’s. 

What a bargain!

Only we couldn’t get our six foot Christmas tree to stand up in that stand.

We decided to cut our losses and we went to Wal-Mart and we invested in a $15 Christmas Tree stand.

We used that Christmas tree stand a couple of years.  

Bryon and I always left our tree up until Epiphany.  We were good Catholics like that.  Right before Epiphany in early 2014, two things happened.  The first was that I found out I was pregnant with our daughter and the second was that Bryon came down with H1N1.

Epiphany was on a Monday that year and between my early pregnancy exhaustion and Bryon’s flu, the tree didn’t come down.  Thursday of that week, we woke to a crash.  Our cat had got into my knitting and somehow wrapped the yarn around some tree branches and pulled the Christmas tree down.

By the following Christmas, in 2014, Bryon and I had moved to our house and our daughter had been born.  Between the cat and a future toddler, Bryon was adamant that the Christmas tree was not going to come down.

So he bought a Krinner XXL that he affectionately referred to as “Das Stand”. 

Bryon and “Das Stand” spent two Christmases together.  

The first Christmas after Bryon died, I didn’t feel like having a Christmas tree but I felt like my daughter still deserved one.  I got one up with the help of a friend.

The following year, I got the tree up all by myself. It was a “I am widow, hear me roar” moment.  I know that because it showed up in my Facebook memories.

Since I am travelling this Christmas, I got an artificial tree at my house (I know, so wrong and not Hallmark at all) and I brought “Das Stand” to Maine for the real Christmas Tree there.

(End of flashback scenes)

I hadn’t unpacked “Das Stand” from my car and my father asked me to go get it so he can have an idea how the 8 foot trees would stand in it.  I retrieve “Das Stand” from my car and the boy working (the Boy Scouts were running the Christmas Tree lot) says “Wow, I have never seen anyone actually bring a Christmas tree stand.”

I let the kid think we take our Christmas trees very seriously.

As my father and the actual adult working the lot put the Christmas Tree into the car, the man says “now THAT is a Christmas tree stand.”

I feel like wherever Bryon is now, he would be proud.  He might be dead and gone but “Das Stand” lives on.

When we get home, my father saws off the bottom.

And we prepare to get the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree into “Das Stand” while my daughter watches Fancy Nancy or Vampirina or something on Disney Junior.

I cringed as my father cut away the twine.  I was nervous that the branches were going to break through the living room window but my fear was for nothing.

I inspected the tree for squirrels but did not find any.

We were leaving the trimming until the next day because we wanted the branches to have a chance to fall.

I was heading out to an exciting night out in my small town.  I was excited to have dinner with my friend Charlotte.  

And maybe we would meet Hallmark Christmas Man. Maybe he would be out having a drink.

We went to a local favorite, Finn’s Irish Pub.

We had beverages, Irish Nachos and sandwiches.  I forgot to take pictures of the food.  But we saved room for dessert.  I love the Guiness Cake with Bailey’s Frosting.

I didn’t find Hallmark Christmas Man.

Or really…Hallmark Christmas Man did not find me.

But I got to spend time with one of my good friends.

I mean, as Leslie Knope says “Uteruses before Duderuses”.

The next day was freezing rain so I stayed at my parents house.  I knew the odds of Hallmark Christmas Man actually just showing up at my parents house were slim.

We watched the Patriots beat the Vikings.

My daughter made a gingerbread house.  It was from a kit.  It was standing and not all the icing made it into her mouth.

I consider it a success. 

We, I mean she, needs to bring her “A game” for her gingerbread contest, I mean, school assignment.  It’s not really a contest but a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies have gingerbread contests so a non-competitive school assignment might have to do.

Right now it looks like we need a Christmas Miracle to meet Hallmark Christmas Man.  Though Kimmy Gibbler reminded me that sometimes Christmas Magic begins to work closer to the holiday when there is a time crunch.

So where is Hallmark Christmas Man?

So far it seems like a Hallmark Christmas Mystery.

Will the widow’s daughter have an amazing gingerbread house for school? 

Will the widow’s daughter stay on Santa’s Nice List? 

Will the widow continue to be haunted by memories of “Christmas Past” and by the ponderings of “The Christmases That Should Have Been?”

Will Hallmark Christmas Man- in the biggest plot twist ever in Hallmark Christmas History- show up in Albany, thus confusing the widow since Hallmark love only happens in one’s hometown?

Will “Das Stand” continue to hold up the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree? 

Where will Charlotte and the widow go to dinner next time they see each other?

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Couch to 5k: Week One

Running has always been a part of me though my participation in running is inconsistent.

Why does an activity I love always get pushed aside?

Sometimes it is because of illness. Illness combine with my asthma can derail any training.

Sometimes my anxiety and perfectionistic personality prevent me from even trying.

I ran a lot after Bryon died. I completed my first (and only) half marathon.

I was trying to outrun grief.

Then illness derailed me.

And grief caught up with me. I began a new job. I stopped running regularly and I began to eat my emotions.

But the thought of running never left me.

As part of my healing journey, I have been balancing between the concept growing and changing and the concept of knowing the real me.

I having been spending times with all the various “versions” of myself. I have been trying to remember who I have been in the past and I have lived running throughout the past. I had goals.

And that girl wants to come back.

I want to run another half marathon.

It hit me like an epiphany- if I have want to run a half marathon then I have to actually do training runs.

The fact that this common sense realization came to me like an epiphany is a little ridiculous.

I need to actually run to complete another half marathon.

So I am trying again.

I might fail.

In the past, I was afraid to fail.

I was afraid of what people would think if I failed.

Why do I even care what people think?

This is my journey, not theirs.

If someone is going to be less than supportive, then their opinion doesn’t matter.

So this week I laced up my running shoes and did week one of Couch to 5k. I have had success with this program in the past.

I am painfully slow.

That always embarrasses me but then I am reminded that it doesn’t matter.

I am still doing more than sitting on the couch.

And seriously, the running community is one of the most supportive communities out there. Some of my biggest supporters are fast and competitive runners.

So I need to stop feeling embarrassed.

I did my workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I ran in my neighborhood listening to podcasts.

The first day I listened to Chubby Jones podcast. It was recommended by my friend Jenni at That’s What Jenni Said.

I have used this blog with two other random times when I have tried to get back into shape. Since the workout is the same each day, there is only one podcast episode which is repeated three times.

Chubby Jones chats during her podcast. She seems really nice.

But I realized that I didn’t want to listen to the same small talk during all three workouts.

It reminds me about the times when Bryon and I used to go to Macaroni Grill often shortly after my daughter was born. There was a waiter who has a son who was about the same age. He never remembered us and we’d have the same conversation every time.

It drove Bryon nuts.

I’m actually a little confused about that since Groundhog Day was one of his favorite movies.

Mike the waiter was like his own real life Ned Ryerson.

So Chubby Jones podcasts episodes are a one time deal for me.

The following two workouts I used the week one workout from the NHS podcast.

Laurie is a pleasant British lady who is encouraging and doesn’t engage in small talk.

I found both podcasts effective.

Stay tuned for week two. Please let me know if you are participating in Couch to 5k or another running program.

Are there any different Couch to 5k podcasts you like to use?