Nothing Is Forever

It is September. As of this month, 2019 is 3/4 over. And just like that, this month is back. September 9th at that…my least favorite in the month, but I’ll get to that.

The month of September was once one of my absolute favorites. And although I do still really love the month, as it is laden with all my favorite things – cooler, crisp fall air, warm days and cool nights, college football, school returning to session…-it is also chock full of dates that have rocked my world.

I started my senior year of college in August of 2001. Just after the first week, my Grandma Jean passed on August 26. I did not go home when she was hospitalized. I talked to her on the phone and she made me promise to not come home. She wanted me to enjoy my first weekend as a college senior and not worry about her – she would be fine. She coded a little over 2 hours later. I had been through Beckley a couple weeks before and I did not stop by then either because we were running behind and had to be in Morgantown early the next morning. I have a hard time getting over both of these facts. The guilt I feel is still real. I was actually told by my ex-husband that I lived like a shell or ghost of myself for about 2 years after she was gone. I had no idea that this was the case. She always said she would die within a month of her birthday and damn if she wasn’t right. She would have been 72 on September 24 that year – this year, she would be turning 90 at the end of the month…I can’t believe she has been gone for 18 years.

Also this month, I would have been married 16 years, if we were still on that life track. There is something sad there too. I never went into my marriage thinking I would end up divorced. I actually told my ex-husband before we got married I was dead set on this being forever and if it wasn’t going to be then lets just not do this…and here I am. Almost 40 and alone. If I am being seriously honest and real with you all, it was my decision. Did you know that 40% of marriages that deal with breast cancer end in divorce? That is a staggering number! Not to mention I live in WV – the state with the second highest divorce rate only behind Nevada. I “woke” up one day and this life wasn’t enough anymore – I wasn’t happy and that was important too. When you are staring down the maybe I will or maybe I won’t live tomorrow barrel, it is amazing what realizations come to you. There is a great chance I blog more about this in the future but I have been sidetracked.

But, seriously, why does my once anniversary being in September effect me so much? It is a reminder of my failure. A reminder of my inability to actually live that perfect life I was trying to achieve – back when I thought that shit was important or obtainable. But most of all, I mourn the day because it reminds me of what I thought life would be. I am not sure I can adequately put this into words, but I am going to try. I sometimes miss my best friend who I married. I sometimes miss the laughter we shared. I sometimes miss the help I received when we lived and parented together not from afar/apart. But most of all, I mourn the trip we were supposed to take on our 15 year wedding anniversary…the plans for the detached 2 car garage we were going to build…the land we were going to buy and the architects we were going to hire to design our dream empty nest home to put on that land…I am sad for what was supposed to be and what now isn’t. Not because I made this decision, but because it is a reminder of a totally different life that was changed due to circumstance beyond my control. But then I realize everything is planned and happens for a reason. There is a blessing in every perceived failure. There is growth and happiness and love to be had now, it just takes me back a moment when 9/20 rolls around.

And then there is my daddy… he has been gone 5 years as of today. You know, my Grandma Jean, I mentioned before, always said she knew she would die within a month of a birthday. I thought it is crazy, but her baby died in a car accident in May of 1987 and was within a few weeks of his birthday. She died within a month of hers, and my dad passed just a few short hours before he would have turned 62 with a room full of his family and friends, my holding his hand and talking about ski trips…so maybe she was on to something! He looked at me in the eye for the first time in a long time and I knew he was actually there again before he slipped away forever. The next day, we had cake and celebrated his life, as tomorrow is his birthday. I guess it can be seen as a blessing to get this sadness all out of the way in a 48 hour window, but damn. The day of his funeral, the WVU Mountaineers played the Maryland Terrapins. We won 40-37 with a field goal kick we all knew was hand delivered over that post by my dad.

You see, September was one of his favorite times – college football season. The moments before ski season! And for the last 20 years at least, we had tickets at Mountaineer Field in Section 215, Row 17, and he sat in seat 134. When he passed, I sat there. It has been my place to be with my dad for 6 days out of the year – a place that I shared with him for so many years and I could feel him and his peace was with me when we were in the those stands watching his team – our team – play. And then this year, we moved our seats. I was not expecting that stupid wave of sadness to wash over me.

We now sit on the Let’s Go side of the stadium. The first game was filled with excitement and wonder of the new Coach – the Neal Brown Era of Mountaineer Football. And I was wrapped completely in that excitement. The Pride took the field and as always, I could feel that all over. I know he is still in that stadium with me this year and has found me in Box 6, but the tears that streamed down my cheeks when The Pride took the field were totally unexpected. I looked to my right and there was Charly – my little empath – named after my dad, tears streaming too. She told me later she lied to me about her head hurting…she just felt like crying and that was weird for her. Love her heart.

So very much has happened in the 18 years since my Grandma Jean passed – hell, a ton has happened in the 5 that dad has left this plane. I have peace in the knowledge that they are together again and know they are both with me always. I think I have mentioned this before, but dad sends me messages often – pennies on the ground, cardinals (one that always sounds like it is saying “Hi, Pretty Girl” right outside my garage) and One Headlight from the Wallflowers on the radio at least once a week. I think the sadness is very similar to the sadness I feel from divorce. I am to the point in a grief process where I mourn what we are missing – how much fun they would have had cooking with Grandma Jean and washing dishes. I know what a great relationship he would have with my girls – he would have been the most amazing grandfather! But I also know that he sent Dave to mom since he can’t be here for us. And that is a true blessing. Thank you.

Most of all, Dad, I want you to know I hear you… “come on try a little, nothing is forever, there’s got to be something better than in the middle, but me and Cinderella we put it all together. We can drive it home with one headlight.” I love you.

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lindsayNothing Is Forever
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Don’t Be Basic

Really! Let’s all just be majestic AF! LOL

You know, I have done a lot of soul searching in the past few years and have found some interesting insights into the world around us…into women especially. Two quotes that stand out to me just below:

Our uniqueness, our individuality, and our life experience molds us into fascinating beings. I hope we can embrace that. I pray we may all challenge ourselves to delve into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. We are all in this life together. – Linda Thompson

and

I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay. As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear. – Tracee Ellis Ross

Ladies, if you are reading this, please remember that you really are MAJESTIC AF! You are beautiful in your skin as it is. Your color, shape, hair, style – it all comes together to make you you. Wonderful you! 

I was talking to a friend the other day and he told me that another friend was looking good and “getting right” by loosing weight during a very difficult time in her life. And I blasted him saying something along the lines of: She was perfect at the size she was before her life started to fall apart, asshole. And if she is happy at this size, good for her. But fuck you for putting worth on a woman’s size. You, my friend, are exactly why we – as an entire gender population – have issues with ourselves instead of embracing who and how we are.

It is so important for us to women to build each other up when an entire world is working to tear us down. We may not see it as blatant as I did during the conversation, but the advertisements, tv shows, movies, shit, media all around us continue to pinch at us to let us know, even if it is silently, that we are not good enough or worthy because we don’t fit into a certain mold. Well, I have had enough and I hope you have too.

Your crown may be crooked, queen, but I will never make fun of you for that. I will help you straighten it out and we can hold our heads high together. Do you know what is actually beautiful, my friends? Confidence. Be proud of who you are and of every speckle on your body no matter if it is large or small. And own those scars that have built you to be the person you are today…wear them proudly. Lets all pull together and help the next generation coming up find their beauty within and have the confidence to let it shine! Be unique. Be compassionate. Be yourself. Be loved first by loving yourself. And last but certainly not least, be majestic AF! 

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lindsayDon’t Be Basic
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To Date or Not To Date…

That is the question! As per usual, I am guessing you will need to bear with me on this one. I may head down a rabbit hole and who knows when I will return. LOL

So, I was on a mastermind call the other day and we were

discussing the should haves or “shoulds” we were expected to follow in life. For example, after high school, you SHOULD go to college where you SHOULD meet Mr. Right and you SHOULD get engaged and then you SHOULD get married and you SHOULD have 2.4 children who SHOULD be perfect as well. Many of my friends have fallen into the should track in life – just like I did – even pretending to be perfect because that is what life SHOULD be. Well, I think it is high time we all stop cosigning that bullshit and live our lives like we deserve to – the way we damn well please on our terms.

And even as I type that I recall falling back into a SHOULD just recently. And here we go… about a month ago, I was making some pretty big decisions and felt relatively alone. I don’t have a partner or spouse to share any decision making with and although my mom is willing to step in, I had a moment of thinking maybe I SHOULD see what is out there and put myself in a place to date. Now, I have had this thought a couple times since I found myself single as an adult, but there are some serious truths I think we need to put on the table about dating – dating as an adult in the 21st century, dating as a parent, and dating as a cancer survivor!

First things first, I’m a realest…haha…so I guess I should just accept the dating scene for what it is, but dating in the 21st century is difficult. It seems as though most people take to the inter-webs to meet their perfect someone – where else do you meet people in adulthood? People can Tinder, Match, Bumble, Mingle, search through Plenty of Fish and get a personal connection with eHarmony. Problematically, all of these sites are based on looks. People are window shopping their next catch. They could potentially find the perfect person, but not give them a chance because they don’t get to know them – beauty is not all skin deep, you know?

Additionally, with online dating, people straight up loose their filter. Maybe they think they are funny, but…I am just not into it! For example, one site I was on had questions people could answer to get to know others a little better. They can be funny or serious – two truths and a lie, we will get a long if…? Answers I have seen: I smoke crack, I love meth, and I am an engineer – is more than one of those really true? – we will get along if you do not have an 80s porn bush and you are orally talented – those were my favorites thus far. LOL Not to mention there are a TON of people on those sites who are polyamorous, looking for multiple partners, looking to bring someone into their marriage for a threesome…lets just say I find myself rolling my eyes often.

If you make it to the actually speaking to someone aspect of online dating…I mean, there is a lot of texting that goes along with this…it is hard to wonder if the person you are talking with is continuing to look for the next best thing to come across his or her screen. I have not gotten passed the texting phase much…and have only met up with 2 people thus far. Both, not anything to write home to obviously. I also have a huge problem getting passed the only texting phase when one person starts calling his son “our” son and one guy tells me my happiness is his only joy on the 4th text conversation. And, um, no. You both have never even heard my voice. What kind of fucked up world are you living in and/or does that shit work with other women?

And let me clue you in on one more aspect of this dating scene – you need a whole new vocabulary. People are searching for NSA FWB and are sapiosexual and demisexual. Not to mention people say they aren’t into anyone who is breadcrumbing and most aren’t down to be ghosted. Although it is amazing how many people do not really want to meet up IRL. (Yes, I am rolling my eyes while typing all of these newly learned terms!)

Maybe this fits here, and maybe it doesn’t…but I am sure I am not the only single women in my late 30s who gets at least 1 friend request per day from some wackado on Facebook or Instagram cuddling up with puppies and kids with hearts floating around their heads. 90% of them are widowed or divorced OR living in the middle east because they are Army Generals. Request. Denied.

So as if all of that isn’t shitty enough, we are adults now. Dating as adults. I have responsibilities I did not have before and let us be honest, adulting is hard enough without putting added pressures on yourself with even thinking about potentially dating, let alone actually dating. And if that isn’t enough, in the year before I turn 40, I realize I am hypocritical as all get out! I think “no doubt in my mind why you are in your 40s and single/never been married with no kids” or “why are you divorced? What is wrong with you?” LIKE I AM NOT DIVORCED MYSELF! (I sometimes also roll my eyes at myself too. LOL!)

And then there is the aspect of dating where you realize you are dating as a parent – I can not just go introducing people to my kids all willie nillie! (Not to mention I am not even sure if I want to ever do that again, because hurt me that is fine, do not hurt my kids…and this is out of my control because I am not even sure anything is forever AAAAHHHHHH!) Then there is a fine line when dating as a parent. My kids mean the world to me and I want for my next partner to also love my kids. And if they have kids, I would love for them to get along and for everyone to have a relationship – even the other kids mom or dad – but is that reality? I am not even sure. And lastly with this topic of dating when you have kids…it is hard for someone not to feel slighted when your children have to come first and I know hard when you are the one feeling slighted because of a child issue or event.

And last but certainly not least, dating as a cancer survivor. Where do I even begin?!?!? I get to wake up every day and am blessed to take a breath. It is a true blessing to get one more go at it. Problematically, cancer survivors are almost always wondering if today is it. I may have mentioned this in a post before, but it always seems like we are waiting for the other boot to drop – ouch! My elbow hurts, my cancer is back! So what does this have to do with dating? I am perpetually saddened to know that I am not sure what forever looks like. I have a friend who told me to stop that – he is apparently pretty smart too. He said that I may not be able to give someone their forever, but I can certainly offer them mine.

And that isn’t all! I feel like I am at a weird place in life. Some of my friends are still having babies – some are in menopause…like me. All of my birthing parts are gone…no eggs even left aboard this ship! I have two amazing daughters though that I was able to experience from birth. I had those experiences. I can’t fathom the thought of dating someone who wants children and not be able to give them that most precious gift. I know my girls would be part of whoever I end up with’s life, but I would be afraid there would be resentment…and I am sure I am over thinking that, and I am betting it is only my fear.

And last but certainly not least…I am missing some parts. I have amazing fake boobs. Well, and amazing left fake boob. LOL That right boob has never been anything but trouble. BAHAHAHAHA. I absolutely know this should not matter, but it is hard to think about being intimate with someone and look like Barbies long lost cousin…you know, the slightly softer Frankenbarbie. These scars are real! This isn’t just me either, friends. Many of us breast cancer survivors have similar worries and body issues. The least sexy thing is having these worries and the last thing we want to talk about with a potential mate – many of us don’t talk about it with our spouse either if we have one.

So I am guessing the moral of this post is simple, life is still messy and the thought of dating seems daunting for so many reasons and dumb for so many more…I saw a meme the other day that said “Dating after 30 is easy…just like riding a bike. But the bike is on fire. And the ground is on fire. Everything is actually on fire. Because you are in Hell.” And although I am sure there will be the right person that comes along again in my life, for right now, I am sure this all means I SHOULD just stay single…

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lindsayTo Date or Not To Date…
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Maybe Just A Little…

What if I think we have gotten a little too extra? I mean seriously, friends…our society and culture has gotten just way too out of control. All of this thinking slapped me across the face this Valentine’s Day and I wonder if I am alone in this or not? **Disclaimer, I am not pointing at any one general person, so try not to get offended if you really love Valentine’s Day… LOL**

Pinterest has ruined things. I mean, we get the fun FAIL photos and that does add a ray of sunshine into my life, but come on, parents…moms in general. Remember a post once upon a time when I mentioned that we are too hard on ourselves because a lot of times we feel like we have to be keeping up with the Joneses? Well, the 2 foot by 3 foot “Valentine Box” you had to help walk your kid into school with because he or she could not carry it themselves was a bit of an overkill…and it makes the rest of us feel bad. It makes our kid question why they only got to use a kids size shoe box or a cylindrical oat meal container for their box! It is really just bullshit. Remember when the project was a brown paper bag kids got to decorate? That seemed easy. Now Pinterest tells us we can go all out and be uber-extra with the box and some of us go there. I do not have the time or desire to sit through a tutorial on how to make a contraption thats primary purpose is to collect little pieces of paper.

But wait, lets not forget to mention the damn actual Valentines that go into the box. I appreciate that most schools force kids to give one to everyone in the class…that is the nice thing to do, but does everyone remember when we got to go get a box of Valentines that were perforated and tore apart? That was it! We wrote our name on them and the persons name on them we were going to give it to. The biggest “chore” back then was in the kids mind – “what will Jimmy think if my Valentine says ‘BE MINE?'” or “I have to save this one for Bill!” or “I have to give this to Cindy not Sam because she likes purple best!”.

This is not the case anymore. Truth is, it turns out, Valentines no longer actually fit through the fucking slit in the top of the box if you did not indeed prepare a 2″x3″ collection vessel for your child! At minimum the Valentines now have temporary tattoos, stickers or a pencil included. Many are on the packaging for candy. And then you have all those with too much damn time on their hands. I can not generally even get favors for a party or celebration together, let alone prepare individual bags for all the students in both of my kids classes in heart stamped cellophane bags tied with a pencil with a huge eraser on the top through the middle with a fancy ribbon I had to curl with scissors. I AM LEFT HANDED! Scissors don’t work for me! And for those who made the juice box and squeeze applesauce robots at 25-28/child, God bless you…I. Just. Can’t.

And when did Valentine’s Day turn into Christmas morning, Easter morning or a birthday? I was unaware that I should have had roses or other fresh cut flowers, gift bags full of stuff and presents, and 19foot cards waiting for my girls when they woke up…on VALENTINE’S DAY! So I didn’t. From February 1 through the 14th, I taped a heart that I cut out of lined notebook paper (yes it was a chore!) with a note on it – something that I loved about my girls personalized for each of them. That is 28 notes I wrote up when I couldn’t sleep one night in January. I thought that would be fun and special for them. I also ran into Price Cutter the day before and got sucked into buying double chocolate cake slices and strawberry swirl slices for my littles – you know, a special junk food type breakfast on a special morning.

I was unaware that they would go to school and potentially feel slighted because they did not get an iPhone or a Lego set or a new bracelet or have a gourmet 3 course breakfast waiting on them on a red and pink themed set table with a dozen red roses as a centerpiece…WHO KNEW!?!?!

Then there is the classroom party. You know the one…where all the parents come at 2 and stuff into a classroom, some grandparents even show up, and 90% of them look miserable and stay on their phones to keep working. Why are we there? Why is this a thing? It is not feasible that every parent can make it in the middle of a work day to all the special classroom parties to just watch them eat a now mandatorily purchased from the store and not opened yet because we sure as hell couldn’t bring something homemade treat that is under 100cal per serving! Why can’t this be a “I’ll come help with the Fall Party” situation where not every parent has to attend every event?

The few kids whose paren’t could not be there now feel slighted or sad because they are alone. There is no one watching creepily from the outskirts of the room at the party for them. I talk to my kids every year – I can make it to 1 party. 1 event. I can not be in 2 places at once and have two daughters. I am ONE person. They assure me it is ok and I assure them that they are loved beyond belief the morning of the parties. It should not have to be this way though!

Truth is, our children will remember how we made them feel as little people. They will remember the smiles shared and laughing until milk came out of their noses. We aren’t going to make or break their adulthood because we missed a party (or 4 each year), only sent in a pink-wrapped shoebox with stickers on it or forced them give a true slip of paper and not 19 things per kid as a Valentine. What we are doing is making each other feel bad or inferior as parents. And we have to stop. Each of us is amazing and fantastic just as we are. We all have flaws and things we could improve, but I know our children are our life and our reason for being in most cases…they would not want us to be so stressed over self-inflicted malarky!

Think about it, who attended your 3rd grade holiday party in class? You are almost 40…or you are 40…you may be 20 or 50…doesn’t matter! You don’t remember and that is what we all need to keep in mind. I am finally to a place where I don’t care as long as I am on the same page as my wee ones. Us girls stick together, you know…even if it is to boycott absurd newish holiday traditions. Am I right or am I right?

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lindsayMaybe Just A Little…
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Let’s Unicorn

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Life is complicated. Adulting is complicated. Being a human is complicated. Let’s be honest, no matter what we do in life, there seems to be a complicated piece of the pie or something that causes us to feel overwhelmed. You are not alone in those feelings. I am not alone in those feelings.

In theory, we know that having what we don’t have won’t make us happy or more fulfilled, but that does not stop us humans from thinking that way. It is like hair – you know, if you have straight hair, you want curly hair and vice versa. That is the easiest though! How many times have we all thought if only we had more money… if only we were skinnier… if only we had more friends… if only we had a significant other… if only we… if only… if… And the truth is, you get skinnier, or you get more money, or you have a bigger village, or you are loved by someone else, you can still not feel deserving or feel a sense of overwhelm. It is only at a different level when when there is more stuff involved, lets be honest, if money solved all problems, why would there be so many celebrity overdoses and suicides? Ugh, I regress…

So the point of this post… I took the biggest part of 2018 to look inward and fall in love…this time with me. It all started on February 3 and I was sure life would never be the same. I know I have told you all a lot about what I learned early on – mostly that it is your fault if you are not happy and that it is no ones responsibility to make you that way. This was my big first lesson. The second lesson is relatively simple…I have to come first. I have to love me.

If I don’t love myself, I am no good for anyone else…especially my girls. For the longest time, I thought this would mean I am selfish. In all reality, it is being selfless. I am not just talking liking who I am, but falling in love with my most authentic and best self! Realizing that I am worthy of everything I have and that there are reasons that I don’t have some things I might want. Not trying to be anyone else, but me and really finding out who I am has been mind-blowing. The lightbulb or ah-ha moments have been numerous and sometimes hard. Why do you eat your feelings? Why are you afraid to actually lose weight? What has caused all of these fears and times of overwhelm through your adult life?

The year has almost passed as it nears February. It has been a year of firsts as well. It was the first Thanksgiving and Christmas that I was not in a relationship since I was 16 years old. Honestly, it has been the first year I have been single and on my own since that same time. Although strange and refreshing and scary, that was a hard pill to swallow! You see, I was the girl who thought she would be alone because no one would love her – she was not good enough or deserving – whatever currently was was always the best there would be. See what I mean, total bullshit that totally points to me not loving myself!

And when I finally decided that I needed to not only align my mental and spiritual realities, but I needed to also include some energy work, business and life coaching, and help implementing a truly healthy lifestyle that included eating better and exercise the huge fears were uncovered! What was I afraid of? Why did I always sabotage myself and my weightless goals? Turns out there are two things here – 1 – I never set off on a weight loss journey that was for me. Really! I have yo-yo dieted my entire life it feels like because of someone else or for someone else. NEVER FOR ME! This time is different. And 2 – until now, I did not feel deserving or worthy of looking on the outside how I have felt since cancer on the inside. (I know that seems weird, but sometimes the most challenging parts of life can be the most rewarding!) I had a pretty good grasp of who I was and what I am at my most authentic level, but the outside did not match that.

So here I am today, 12 weeks or so in to the part of the journey to bring my year full circle – to bring everything together! I am 30 or so pounds lighter and 15 inches or so smaller. I am also still working on getting right with the thought of being able to accept that this is happening and will stick this time – for the first time as an adult. There are still fears and days of self sabotage…but more than that, there are days where I realize that I have a wonderful support system and don’t live or die by one decision.

Today was such a day – my meals were on point, water consumption on point, I worked out for a little over an hour with my trainer – yet I felt totally overwhelmed with life. This is hard! Again, it is complicated. It is overwhelming. And I know that moments like these in the grand scheme of life are just the Devil popping up to put us down. I need to remember everything – even these moments of self-deprecating stupid thoughts – are in the plan. The plan that is greater than I am. No moment of sabotage is a failure, but a learning experience – thats how all experiences in life should be looked at. My trainer is an amazing person – full of ESP and insight. She looks through me and just knows…a lot…in a weird good way. Any who, she knew I was sitting here dwelling on my thoughts and I received this message “We have the power to control our thoughts, and as a result, control who we are. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your life isn’t falling apart – your thoughts are.”

And like that, I sit down to write it all out…to try to put my thoughts in perspective because Jes is right! Life right now is good. I know I am not alone in these feelings and many of us feel like we are. Our story doesn’t play out like we planned or thought it would – it plays out the way it is supposed to with life’s little ups and downs. I have so many people in my corner cheering on my successes and wanting me to succeed with all of my hopes and dreams.

So there you have it – a full on accountability for my healthier choice lifestyle. You all keep my on track. And let us all remember that these moments of overwhelm or mildly crazy (so how I have felt today) are part of the plan – more money, more love, being skinnier, more, more, more won’t fix it. Finding ourselves and loving ourselves is what will make life make more sense and feel less complicated. Putting the positive out in the universe instead of negative will manifest those realities in our lives. Even the most put together person who seems to have it all probably has moments of overwhelm and dismay – we never know what others are dealing with and my hope in sharing my feelings is that someone may realize they aren’t alone.

My goals for 2019 are huge – obtainable, but huge – and I can’t wait to see what else life throws in along the way! Biggest take away from all this though… sometimes being a human is totally complicated – and now it is truly a time to be a unicorn!

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lindsayLet’s Unicorn
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Parenting Shmarenting…

So, parenting is hard. And it is rewarding. And it is sad. And it is joyous. And it is scary. And it is fulfilling. And it is frustrating. And it is horrifying. And it is wonderful. And…it is not what most of us expected. I guess parenting can get right on in line with not meeting the expectations we felt should be, you know, the ones we set for marriage, work/career, relationships in general – all that adulting, but that is for another post. This one, all about parenting.

I had a friend tell me one time that parenting was like having your heart walk around outside of your body for the remainder of your life. That is certainly the truth. What they failed to tell me was that I possibly would also somedays want to kill someone for stepping on my heart but also equally have the desire to kick it myself. LOL…gently, but kick it nonetheless. Some days are just harder than others. HA!

In having discussions with my friends, I am pretty sure that most of us feel like we are failing at being a mom. No matter what we do, it feels wrong. No matter what our decision is, we feel like we made the wrong one. It is a life of questioning, and I don’t think it will ever change…no matter our children’s age.

When you are a new mother, no one sends you home from the hospital with an instruction manual. You find out really quickly that this is a super hard job. Some moms say that they knew a hungry cry from a tired cry from a hurt cry…and when you get right down to the truth of parenting, a cry is a cry is a cry and we all go from one thing to the next until we figure it out. And eventually, we feel like we are doing the parenting thing pretty well – in a routine, everyone getting along pretty well – and then someone starts crawling or walking or eating solids. And then, the huge majority of us go off and have another baby! How many of you came home from the hospital the second or third or fourth (and after 2, I think you all lost your minds!:) and felt like you didn’t really need that instruction manual on this go round, but questioned what in the world you were thinking! You actually had a pretty good thing going and rocked the boat with baby number 2!

As our children grow, we have to learn and adapt and grow with them. I am positive at this moment with a 10 and 7 year old that I will never stop learning, adapting and growing. I will also never stop questioning…why time is flying by so quickly – how a decade has gone by in what seems like a second. I also don’t think we will ever stop questioning our decisions.

Regrets within parenting have been the worst for me personally. I am sure I am not alone, but I question every decision I ever make. Did I do this right? Did I make the right decision? Will this land my kids in therapy for the rest of their lives? LOL The truth is though, every decision I make is for my girls and I am sure that most moms do the same for their children. I want to model a life that they can emulate – one in which they know how to love and be loved, know that they are worthy for everything their heart desires – they are good enough – that being perfect is not a real life thing, but being perfectly yourself is what is important and achievable. I want them to know that life is not easy but it is rewarding and beautiful, but fragile so live each day to the fullest. I want them to have amazing memories of me – not the crazy person who yelled all the time, but the person who did fun things with them and gave them shelter, love, confidence, character – the person who was present in their life and lived each and every day for them.

I think that one of the toughest life lessons is that people are in your life for reasons or seasons. There are very few that are around for the long haul…if you have a handful, you are lucky. As people come in and out of your life, they do the same with your children. I have said before and will continue to say that I will never limit the love my children receive, but it certainly is sad when you realize someone you thought was a forever was a season and your kids get caught up in that loss and sadness. This happens with divorce, breakups, illness, death – so many things out of your control proving that life tends to be a beautiful disaster. That this loss and change is a promise or really just a guarantee with life. No need to shelter my littles from what will inevitably catch up to them anyway…maybe this will help them adult with less disappointment and pain?

I was talking to a friend the other day about a book she was reading – one which talked about failure and parenting on a pendulum. There is not much of a happy medium and we over compensate when we feel like we have done one thing wrong. Possibly this is how we have ended up with a whole lot of entitled crazies running around who can barely tie their shoes at 15? I joke up above about landing my kids in therapy and my friend tells me that my following comment is what they will talk about often from the counselors chair: “I in fact had you to be my best friends when they are in their mid twenties and beyond and to take care of me when I am elderly (God willing!) but I certainly did not have either of you to give myself more busy work or to be at your beck and call. I do not want entitled brats…and I often question if any of us can get out of jail free with that one nowadays?

So, I think this long winded run on thought about parenting is to high five myself for doing a pretty damn good job even when I question that at least a few hundred times a day and to tell all of you that you are doing a pretty damn good job too…even when you think that isn’t the case. You are not alone in your thoughts!

I will leave you with this urban dictionary definition of a Unicorn Mom – she is a mother who’s not perfect, has a great sense of humor and couldn’t care less what you think. See also: Beautiful, Boss, Bitch and Zero fucks given. LOL If we all supported each other a little more with a little less judgement or got on board with being the beautiful, boss bitches we are maybe, just maybe parenting would seem 1% easier.

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lindsayParenting Shmarenting…
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The Dumbest Tan I Ever Got…

If you know me, you know I am relatively fair skinned. Look, it is hard to stay this perfect shade of porcelain to protect my goddess nature. LOL Growing up I had my fair share of burns and blisters and peeling. I eventually tan, but nothing like some of my friends. My tan always has a nice pinkish tone to it – but it is mine and it is beautiful!

So why am I telling you all this? Did you know you get tan from radiation? This is a real thing. Or you get burnt. Real life. By far, this was the dumbest tan I ever had in my whole entire life. If you have kept up, you know that I did my chemotherapy first and then had a bilateral mastectomy. You know that my breast tissue brought back nothing – so I had had 100% results from the chemo itself. And because of this, I thought I would get out of the radiation. Nope. Not so lucky. Dr. Abraham thought on it a while but finally said that if I was his daughter, I would have the 28 radiation treatments. Dr. Saunders agreed. So here I was, scheduled to see the radiation oncologist at Ruby. I really liked Dr. Jacobson. She was down to Earth and kinda reminded me of the teacher from Clueless that they make over to set up with the other teacher…in a good way…really, google her and tell me I am wrong.

Like I said, I was scheduled for 28 treatments. They should have completed just before my 35th birthday in 2015…but like most all things, life has better laid plans. We have yet to discuss all of the surgeries, but in order to discuss radiation, we have to have a quick boob reconstruction story. During my mastectomy, I had muscle expanders placed behind my chest wall. It was a requirement from my plastic surgeon that I have all of the expanding that was going to happen completed before my first radiation treatment. Furthermore, I had to wait at least 6 months after radiation to have the actual implants put in and the muscle expanders removed. Do some math here. This is pushing all the cancer clean up further into life and I was so annoyed by it. Again though, life had different plans and we can talk about all of that at a later date. What is important is that irradiated skin can not be stretched. It loses its elasticity and simply feels different – think leather, a soft subtle one, but leather nonetheless. This is why all the muscle expanding had to take place prior to the radiation.

Each time you go into radiation, you go into a closet like room with a locker in it, change your clothing to remove it from where you will be receiving treatment (for me, that meant taking off my top(s), bra, everything above the waist including jewelry) and put on a much to short and much to small one size actually does not fit all tie in the front “cape”. Then you walk around the hallways like you actually have on clothing to get to where you need to be. The first treatment is the longest – if everything goes right the rest of the time.

The first day of treatment, you are put on a table and “measured” so they make sure you get the same dose of radiation in the same spot for the entire time of treatment. They mark your body at this appointment. You are able to decide if it is a permanent marking to save you time each day you go or you can chose to lay on the measuring table daily to put your marks on your body. I chose to save time and have 5 permanent dots on my body – three down the middle of my chest and one on each side under my arms. These tattoos now look like the greened out ink you notice in the elderlies tattoos – lol. Furthermore, the permanent marks were done with a needle and a hammer looking instrument. Not a tattoo gun. I am positive the gun would not hurt the way this did. I laugh and say my first 5 tattoos were on the radiation table. Funny thing about these dots – they most certainly do not seem to connect in a straight line like they are supposed to when I stand straight up. I am sure they are the correct alignment and my body is just crooked. HA!

So each day for 28 straight business days – you do the math, somewhat like 6 weeks with weekends and holidays removed – I left work, drove into town, parked, walked through the maze to the dungeons of Ruby and got my radiation on. They try really hard to make the room peaceful. The fluorescent lights are covered by cloud shaped plastic that glows a pretty blue and white when the lights are on. There are other designs in the ceiling as well – as there should be, you are laying face up and staring at the ceiling, it should be appealing to the eye. And there is music playing. Total torture moment was the THREE Nickleback songs that played in a rock block on CLG during one of my treatments. As long as everything lined up properly, I was in and out in almost 45 minutes. That included 25 or so in the actual radiation room. I met with Dr. Jacobson once a week so she could look at my skin and make sure everything was ok. The first appointment of each week was the longest. In addition to the tattoos, they draw on you with a sharpe – marking other placement of the beams of light. Generally, those markings were placed under tape for the remainder of the week. They also mark the middle of your chest. Ask me sometime to show you a picture…just hanging out in life all drawn over like it is nothing. LOL

One time in the middle of one of the weeks, I went in and they could not get me lined up. It makes absolutely no sense to me what that means or why that happens, but no matter how they moved me or the table (and it adjusts in all types of ways) I just would not go into alignment. They gave up on me that day and sent me home to come back and try again the next day…this was after over 65 minutes of trying to get me aligned though.

So back to my stupid tan…Dr. Jacobson was always looking at my “radiation tan” to make sure I was not burning. I had strict rules to follow – no deodorant until after treatment, no lotions before treatment, no oils…you don’t want anything on your skin that will make the burning worse. As fair as I am, everyone was shocked at how well I took the treatment. After each visit, I would douse myself in Eucerin Advanced Repair with no scent multiple times a day as directed. Well, it actually smells like Elmers Glue, but whatever. I did notice a little color to the area, but nothing too bad. The last week and a half or so though I started to notice some burning on my collarbone. They call what I got “radiation rash”. I was very lucky that it was as minimal as it was and bothered me very little. I put a healing salve with essential oils on it daily after treatment that Angela made me. It healed up nicely with no scar…they were worried it would leave one, but luckily it did not!

To this day, my skin feels leathery – or different somehow to all the other skin. It looks different too. It is tight and not like you would think skin should be. I also tan in that upper right quadrant much easier than I ever did in life prior to radiation.

I had a scratch off lottery ticket to try after each treatment that I kept in my car from Michele. That was a very thoughtful gift she left on my car windshield on my first treatment day…I always got excited to see if I had won anything after each round! I only won $7 in all of those tickets…and now she will know this, but I never cashed them in. LOL Otherwise, I did all of these treatments alone. I went in alone an handled everything all by myself. There was something liberating about that…and sad too. But I did it. And at my 28th treatment, I was escorted out by the staff who had taken care of me for all those treatments and was able to ring the bell to signify the end of my treatment – but again, I was alone – no entourage with me like some of the patients had on their last day to help them celebrate.

As you sit in the waiting room and see the people leaving and getting to ring the bell, you wonder if it will ever be your turn. You feel like it will be forever before you get your chance and the freedom of radiation and cancer treatment and clean up in general. But like most things in life, the days can be long – the treatments can be long and tedious, but the time is short. And even though I joke and say I have memories of the dumbest tan I ever got, I also have memories of the amazing people I met along the way and the knowledge that this was in fact a turning point in my life, the time I realized I was enough!

 

 

 

 

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lindsayThe Dumbest Tan I Ever Got…
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UNCLE!

At what point in your life have you ever just thought “damn…thats is enough! I can’t handle any more!” You know, the “are you kidding me”, “seriously”, “you have to be joking”, “UNCLE” times in your life. Those times you look up or look out and think to your self “what is next, I really can’t handle anything else, but sir, that was not a challenge!”

Yep, I have had my fair share of those times in my life. The times you are supposed to not look at as a failure or bad luck. These are the moments we dig deep and see what we are really made of. The moments we realize that we are stronger than we ever imagined. The times when we may want to give up or give in, but failure is not an option – life will keep going and we certainly want to keep going with it! Those times.

A little over a year ago, I had one of these times. The girls and I had just moved into a new house. We were looking for a change – lower cost of living, easier maintenance. We had a summer plan and had just adopted a dog named Summer Spot Williams. It was going to be an amazing summer and we were all on board to truly rock this new life. And then on June 7, 2017 I fell. It was one of those mornings where very little was going right. I had to be at an appointment and had to drop the girls off at camp first. No one was cooperating – the girls were bickering, I was yelling, the dog would’t walk. A true total mess of a morning.

I told the girls to go get in the car already. I was standing on the steps leading out into the garage. I told them to move and stomped back in to the house to pick up the dog who was refusing to move even though I was pulling on her leash. When I turned around and stepped back out of the house I simply missed a step. I fell down 2 steps. It was like fucking slow motion and I knew I was broken. My left foot was not facing the correct direction. AT ALL. It was well off to the left and my right middle toe was laying under the two toes to the left if it. I was still holding the dog and sitting on a step broken…my girls standing in the garage looking at me. Each of us in shock.

You can trust that I was not quiet. I cussed a lot. I am pretty sure, are you fucking kidding me and son of a bitch came out of my mouth more than once. I was crying and screaming. It hurt like you don’t know. But my daughters were standing there. Looking at me. Scared to death. I had to pull my shit together quickly and deal with this very unfortunate situation. I put the dog down, found my phone, and called 911. I told the operator that I needed an ambulance, that I had multiple broken bones, that I had not hit my head, that I was alone with my kids and could not drive or get up, and that I appreciate that he was supposed to stay on the phone with me, but that I had to make other calls to deal with my situation immediately and could not waste that time with him.

I then called Michele and told her I had fallen. She thought I had been in a car accident. She told me she was on her way. Then I called Leslie and told her to please leave the office and come to my house to deal with this dog. Then I called Jennie – you know, every one needs a Jennie even when you fall down steps, Jennie – to come get my girls so I did not have to worry about them. In the middle of all this, my mom called me. I knew Michele or someone had called her. She was supposed to be heading off to TX that week and here I was ruining that plan too.

There was a construction crew across the street. I told the girls to go ask those men to come over. I know they could hear me, but did not come until the girls went to get them. Within minutes, Leslie had arrived and was mortified. I needed her to move this 5 gallon bucket of paint over so I could rest my leg on it, she did not want to touch me or move the bucket. I yelled to please just move it so I could rest my leg on it. She did so for me. I am so surprised she did not puke on the spot. I had been holding my leg up in the air since I fell because when I tried to put it down I could feel my bones rubbing against one another. That was awful, and the paramedics and I both were surprised I too hadn’t puked.

When the EMT got to me, I was still a disaster, but felt a sense of relief. I knew that it was going to be ok – another setback for damn sure, but ok. I had an IV in my arm before I knew it and the female was asking how much I weighed. She whispered in my ear that this was the one time it was ok to throw out a number – the more I weigh, the more drugs I get. I yelled 580lbs! I am no where near that and did not even care. I hurt something awful and I wanted it to stop.

Jennie got there next and got the girls to come over where she and Leslie were standing. She told me it would be ok and she had it. She told me later that as she walked away the girls started crying – they did not do that in front of me. She told them I was in good hands and that everything was going to be ok. Just as they got to her car, I yelled “it is not going to be ok!” apparently to the EMT. Great timing, Grace! At that time, they were telling me I had to get up off the step and stand on something that was broken to get myself to the stretcher. I knew I could not put weight on my left foot/ankle and my right side was a disaster too. This is when Michele showed up.

She had apparently been having conversation with a friend on her way over that I had fallen and she was sure I had sprained my ankle. She walked in and saw it was definitely broken and screamed for me to suck it up and stand to get on the stretcher…she apologized for yelling at me later. I got into the ambulance finally and Michele followed behind. Leslie stayed to take care of the puppy and Jennie was off with the girls.

While on my first ever ambulance ride for me, I tried very hard not to get car sick. You are totally riding backwards in there and I hurt so bad. I wanted to take my mind of of everything and asked them for my phone. I called Tiffany. She answered and said “can I call you right back?” I told her I did not know if I could answer because I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and that I had fallen. The drugs obviously had started working by this point.

There was no waiting once we got to the ER. Dr. Marsh came in to see me – I decided later he should be renamed Dr. Harsh. I was being sent for X-rays. Guys, I do not need a degree to tell you this shit is broken! And let me tell you that the X-rays were torture! Contorting here and there – move this way, hold it that way. I was starting to panic because of the pain. I was truly exhausted and so over this day. When I got back to the room, Dr. Marsh told me he was going to have to “reduce” my ankle. You know, the scene in Grey’s Anatomy or ER where the Doctor looks at the patient and says “this is going to hurt”? Yea…they have NO IDEA how much this is about to hurt. No amount of medicine in that hospital would have stopped that pain. I tried to convince him to wait until I was just put to sleep but for some reason this was not a choice. He also pulled on the right toe that was under the two to the left. I am sure everyone in the building could hear me scream – at the top of my lungs. Michele had to leave the room.

Soon after, my mom got there. And soon after that my cousin Matthew showed up. I was set to have surgery that night. My surgeon was staying on his birthday to do my surgery. Next thing you know, I was being taken to pre-op to get me ready. Thank God the anesthesiologist showed up soon after I got to pre-op! He had put me to sleep many times before (we will get to that at some point – this was my 9th surgery in 3 years!) and, as always, I reminded him that me waking up was the most important part of his day. He told me that my surgeon had gotten stuck in a surgery and would be a while. I just started to cry because I was in so much pain and did not feel like I could wait any longer. He checked my chart and then called the nurse to make sure it was correct. He was so upset that I was in so much pain – unnecessarily. The amount of pain medication I had been given the entire time I had been there was then given to me in one fell swoop by this angel to get me into the operating room. Mind you, I had been here all day! It was now almost 4:30pm!

I woke up in a room with a soft cast on my right leg and my toes still bandaged up. My surgeon told me everything slid right back into place and only needed a plate, 8 screws and 2 pins to put me back together. Ugh, that seemed like a lot. The next morning, PT showed up and told me I needed to stand up on my right foot. I did not want to do that. I was still in so much pain there. Long story short on that front, it turns out that my toe was still dislocated and it took me 48 hours to convince someone to unwrap my bandage and look at it. Everyone was so concerned with how bad my left ankle was that they all forgot to mention to my surgeon that my right toe was dislocated as well. Someday I will tell you all about that as well. I will also someday tell you all about the recovery from this horrible adventure.

A little over a year past this time and I am back to finding the meaning in it – what was I supposed to learn from this experience? My ankle still hurts. I 100% know that the weather does effect your bones and it is not bullshit when someone says they can feel the rain coming. I count down the months to 18 post-accident to see if that is real life for total healing although I doubt that will exist. I met some amazing people that I will tell you about during the next stage of healing and learning to walk again. It is not fun to be bound to a wheelchair. We take so much for granted in this life…and sometimes we have to be reeled back in…maybe that is what I needed. But most of all, I believe I learned that just when you don’t think you have time to deal with you or to put yourself first, there is someone greater than you that can put you back into your place. Slow down. Appreciate life. Cherish those who are in it. Be thankful for those who love you. Love deeply. Put yourself first so you can be there for others. Breathe. And with all of that, UNCLE!

 

 

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lindsayUNCLE!
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Women, The Fairer Species…

This is specifically for us women. Men, you can read this too and see if you can get an inside glimpse of how we roll – but trust me, it is a mess inside this world! 

Man, do I have a lot to say about my gender! And don’t take that the wrong way – I am here to build us up, not tear us down. I have been true talking to friends a lot here recently and I feel like there should be some some more of that talk happening – it rarely does. We all have similar feelings if we dig deeper, but we rarely do. Our true and authentic selves are rarely seen outside the confines of our house or our comfort. Otherwise we are busy pretending and trying to keep up with the Joneses or portray some perfect image of what we think others want our lives to be. But why is this? Seriously, think of who you are with when you are your best version – your most authentic version of yourself! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be that person all the time? 

I have a theory that the majority of my friends grew up reading either Seventeen or Cosmo – lets be honest, we all wanted to read Cosmo, not Seventeen! Think back to being in high school for a moment you Xennials – did you not love getting these magazines from the corner store or in the mail? If you think about the articles, they are all the same just rewritten slightly – how to look your best for your man, how to keep your man wanting you, how to get washboard abs, how to dress to make people swoon, 14 mind blowing ways to satisfy your partner…what the actual fuck were we reading about and what did this do to our self confidence and self image? Really! Where was the article on how I am perfect the way I am, how someone should love me for who I am, how someone should want me without me trying to convince them of such, how to garner my own satisfaction in life, the fact that I am enough without someone else – where were those titles?

Much to do with the above, and I guess just life, most of us women do not think we are good enough. Our self confidence is in the drain. It is often like the old saying “we all want what we don’t have”. The girl with beautiful curly hair would love for it to be straight – easily straight for a day, and the straight haired girl would die for a little volume or wave. Not one of us is perfect. Not one of us thinks our lives or our bodies or our faces or our skills are perfect, although we think that if we just had one attribute like someone else our life would be easier or better. So.Not.True.

I have not been skinny in life. That isn’t exactly true. I would give anything most of the time to be the “fat” I was at 18 years old. I remember the time I realized that my not so skinny frame was actually in better shape than some of my friends who had the perfect in my mind body. Things in life I thought would be easier for them weren’t and it was a real eye opener. My perception on how perfect her life must be was untrue and that was the first time I realized that truth. I was 22. It has taken me this long to actually talk to other women about our self perceived short comings. Possibly we don’t want to do this because we are afraid we will point something out to our friend or *gasp* a love interest that they hadn’t noticed yet about us.

So like I said, I have been having true talks with so many women recently and I want to anonymously mention some of them. I have a friend who is drop dead gorgeous. Seriously! She is about 5’11” without her super high heels that she wears like a bad ass. She is always put together. Not only is she one of the most attractive women I know – you know the kind you would expect not to be very nice because they are so attractive (see, total Cosmo stereotype there) – she is equally as beautiful and full of grace on the inside. She is an athlete. She is a wonderful mom. She is a believer in god, is successful and is seriously amazing. And while we are talking our truth, she tells me she is the ugly duckling. That she grew up the unattractive girl and that haunts her to this day. What I see looking in is not how she feels and she struggles with that daily. WHAT?

In another talk, we dive into the Cosmo talk and discuss how unfocused all of those articles were on us – on women. They were not and probably still aren’t empowering to women, not to mention they are the same article over and over and over again! They set a staunch scenario on how our lives will be perfect as long as we have the perfect mate or perfect body…skinny is what you have to be to be lovable or attractive and let them tell us how to get there. They will also tell us how we need to look, act, think, and feel in order to maintain a relationship with that perfect mate. Not one article is written about how we should fall in love and strive to maintain that one relationship that truly matters so we can have a fulfilling relationship with someone else – we all need to fall in love WITH OURSELVES first! They leave that out.

Another friend finds herself exhausted. She has spent years pretending to be perfect…the perfect doting wife to a husband who 13 days in to their marriage verbally tore her down. But she couldn’t say anything about that. She had to remain perfect. Failure was not an option, so outside of the confines of her walls, she put on a perfect front…not even confiding in the best of friends because she was afraid of their reaction to her failures in marriage. And all of this is happening right in front of me and I didn’t really know from first hand knowledge, I could only speculate that my best friend wasn’t truly happy and deserved so much more in life yet she was unable to speak the truth because of fear of judgement or failure. And sadly, I know these feelings all to well, because I was stuck for quite a while not wanting to let anyone down with my failed marriage, continuing to pretend each time I left the house that everything was perfect and I could excuse the world away.

In other truth talk, I ran into a friend in the coffee shop. And we started talking about how much simpler our lives would be if we had less space – less stuff – more time and more energy. Why are all of us women conditioned to think we need the huge house and perfectly manicured lawn and empty kitchen sink for our life to have worth? The truth is a good mom has crumbs on her floor and lets the dishes sit a minute so she can do something with her kids…but what does that “look” like? Who is really judging, and why the actual fuck are we conditioned to give a shit about that? Why are we conditioned to think everyone will judge us anyway? Are we really just a super judge-y gender?

If we boil all this down, there is always something about us we don’t like or would prefer to improve. No matter our size, all of us have something we are self conscious about. A dimple on our thigh, stretch marks – from weight or babies or both, acne scars on our face from adolescence, c-section scars, scars from other surgeries – mastectomies included, that leave us questioning our perfect when they should be the scars to prove we lived. Our scars, they make us beautiful and give someone else hope. All of these things should be in our conversations. I would love us as women to join together and have truthful conversations with one another. We can then help build each other up by calming these fears we have and allowing each other to be authentic. I need us to be honest and truthful with one another. Think about the time someone validated your feelings – didn’t it feel great to know you were not by yourself – that someone else has felt like this before too and you are in fact not alone in this life. Women can all join together and realize that we may not be perfect, but we can find the value in our progress from day to day on the road to becoming our authentic selves. Our shared strength can help build our confidence and seriously, ladies…we are WOMEN, hear us ROAR!

 

 

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lindsayWomen, The Fairer Species…
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Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

OK, so thank you for coming back to hear the rest of my story about finding my faith. Remember Fr. Jeremiah I mentioned? It was like he could look through me. I had never spoken to him, but finally got to the point where I would walk through the line for the eucharist and cross my arms across my chest to be blessed. If he were in my line, his icy blue eyes would darn near pierce me or see straight through to my soul. The moment he touched my head, he would look into my eyes and mumble a blessing. I would immediately break into tears and walk back to my seat to pray. 

I can’t tell you why. It was not like I was sad. It was a feeling I got like no other I had felt before. I was connecting to something and it was filling my life. There was simply too much and it spilled out through my eyes – each time he was the one doling out communion. And then one day in the spring of 2016 I decided I needed to make an appointment and actually talk to him. I wanted to talk about my faith and what steps I needed to take to join the Catholic Church. I knew this was going to be a decision that was surprising to many – and to be honest, I kept my meeting with Fr. Jeremiah to myself. No one knew I was going to talk to him until after I had. 

He was not a Diocesan priest. I don’t remember what he was, but this is not super important to the story. I went into meet with him in his office a very sunny and nice afternoon. We sat and talked about my life and why I wanted to enter into the church. He was not born and raised Catholic either. He was a convert too – one that had a rough road to get there. He had had a drug dependency in his life and he attributed in part finding God with his road to recovery from that addiction. He had snuck in the back of a church for almost 7 years before he decided to convert and then the only path he could fathom was a religious path where he gave himself to God. He was a little surprised that I was ready to find out what i had to do to join the church in a mere 5-6 months of attending. 

I explained to him that my daughters had not been baptized either and that I wanted us to all do that together. I told him that I had appreciated my growing up getting to believe what I wanted, but that I also wanted my kids to feel like they had a church home and had guidance for their spiritual questions and thoughts. I think a big part of this was my thinking about my friend Carla joining the Baptist church when we were in high school. You know how they do it, right…if you feel the spirit upon you and would like to join the church you walk forward during the service. Once you do, you work with the Pastor to arrange your coming into the church and/or your baptism. I remember when Carla made this decision. I think we were 16 for some reason, but here I find out we were only 8! LOL Man does time fly?!?!? I thought about how courageous (not so much in those words) that was of her to make that decision and how I just did not think I could in front of all those people. I was not yet able to be that vulnerable I also remember when Jan made this decision in Alabama – although I am pretty sure she was baptized in Tennessee. I was in awe of that too – making that decisions as an adult then, not a child or teen – still wasn’t willing to be that vulnerable even in my 20s. And when both of them did so, I thought about how easier it may have been if I had never had to make this decision – if mom and dad did do what my grandmothers had wanted way back when. But I will tell you this, I do not regret for one moment that decision they made and am happy with my journey the way it has played out. 

When Tiffany had her first son and was looking for God Parents, I was so hopeful that I could be an option, but I certainly was not, because even if I had not been Catholic, I could have still been the Godparent if the other was Catholic. Minor detail, I was not baptized. In all the years she and I had been friends, she never knew this fact. I will remember forever the day she found out. The look of shock on her face was hilarious as she blurted out “but you are a really good person!” I am a firm believer though that being a really good person does not make you a really good Christian or Buddhist or Muslim or Agnostic or Atheist or vice versa. And still to this day, I believe this is true. You certainly have to practice what you believe and live your life in a way that does not make you a hypocrite. It was about the time Tiffany was deciding on God Parents for her second son that I was looking to join the church – full on baptism and everything. And she waited for me! I am so glad that I am a God Mother! I love my little man so very much…I love his brother too, don’t take that the wrong way. 🙂 

So anyway, back to Fr. Jeremiah. We had a plan. You see, to join the Catholic church, you have to sign up for RCIA classes and commit to about 9 months of education about the church/religion/beliefs, find a Catholic in good standing to sponsor you (like your God Parent!) before you are confirmed or baptized and then confirmed. Fr. Jeremiah was so excited. He said he could see it – me and my girls joining the church and getting baptized together during the Easter celebration of 2017. And then he was gone. Like – disappeared in the night. I guess that sometimes happens with priests – they are reassigned and go to the next stop. I felt sad and let down and did not know what to do next. He did not tell me he was leaving and we had a plan. And now here I was back at square one. 

Michele told me I needed to meet the people at St. Francis. That was actually her church although for this whole time she really only went to St. Johns. This is when I started to go to St. Francis with Michele and her family. She said she thought I would really like Monsignor Cincinnati…turns out she was so right! And bonus, I got to meet Deacon John and adore him too! I signed up for the RCIA program through St. Francis and signed Emlyn up for the 2nd grade confirmation classes too right away. We would start in just a few weeks from when I completed all of the paperwork. 

Now I needed to find a sponsor. Not only for me…but ones for my babies too. One evening we were having dinner with Jason and Tina. Jason was the most Catholic non-Catholic I had ever met. HA! He has been going to was for years upon years and knew what to do, all the words in his head and out his mouth without even thinking about them – he just had not taken the steps to join the church. We decided that night that we would do it together. I am not so sure he really really wanted to, but Michele – his sister from another mister – said she would be his sponsor and Tina said she would be mine. I do think Jason and I have pretty awesome God Mothers if I do say so myself! LOL Now for the girls – I knew I wanted Tiffany to be one of the girls God Mothers. We decided Charly would be the best option there because she was about a year older than her oldest son and it made sense. I then asked Rayanne if she would consider being Emlyns God Mother. If I have ever had a blessing in life, it is meeting this lady and I just knew she would be a perfect God Mother for Em. She did not hesitate a moment and I hope she knows how special this bond to Emlyn!

Ok, so all of that is set. Let’s learn this stuff! Every Sunday for the same amount of time it takes to cook a baby, we met at 9am. Some Sundays we also had field trips. We had to participate in all Holy Days of Obligation. We had reading materials and homework, kinda. Our RCIA class was big and lead by Deacon John. We were his first class, I believe – definitely the first at this Parish. There were like 9 catechumens (not baptized ones) and a ton of people converting to Catholicism – like 22 or something crazy all together. Deacon John will have to comment and correct my numbers. I am already packing in hopes that St. Joseph will intercede and come through with God to help my house sell and all of my stuff has already been packed. 🙂

We learned so much and had wonderful conversation. We met many members of the church who were sponsoring us into the church. I thought it was super interesting to see how much more we learned or knew about this faith from our classes that the cradle Catholics who knew nothing else. I know they once knew all of this too – or would hope they did from their REP classes, but you are young and it possibly doesn’t mean as much then. I would recommend all cradle Catholics find themselves a convert and sponsor them…I think you will be happy you did and glad to remember or learn all about your faith.

As a catechumen, I was released from mass each week after the Homily with the other converts who were also under instruction. We would go to a different room in the church and discuss further the masses readings and the Homily. Although I truly missed being in the room to learn more about the Eucharist, I was glad to have this time to discuss and ask questions to the catechist who took us to discussion. Of course, just like in life, there were some catechist I enjoyed more so than others…like there was a better connection with some who took us out than others. I also am very comforted that even now, after all is said and done, these people remember when I joined the church and speak to me whenever they see me out and about – generally offering blessings and well wishes and asking questions about my continued journey into faith.

We were close to our field trip day where we all took of to Wheeling to a special mass by bishop Micheal and a reception to follow, when I had a conversation with someone who thought my joining the church was counterintuitive. I was made to feel that I was joining the church under false pretenses and that if I continued to do so without them “knowing the real me” that it would be just like lying. So here I was – faced with this conversation and back to questioning everything. I was so enjoying my classes and the people I was meeting. I know Rayanne always says that the people who know me know me…and I so hoped this was true. I had never lied to anyone about who I was and was made to feel like I had somehow. So I sent a long email to Deacon John.

I explained to him that I had been married before and that I was obviously no longer – I had been married in a Baptist church and that we were divorced. But even stereotypically worse in the Catholic faith that divorce, it was most likely obvious that I had a girlfriend! I did not want to “confess” to loving someone of the same sex as me because I did not feel it was wrong and would not change. That I felt comfort in the fact that there were many members of the congregation who were also homosexual and seeing some of them so active within the church – with decorating, delivering the gifts, etc – was actually comforting to me. But that I had been made to feel like I was crazy for willfully wanting to join a church that did not (stereotypically) want me as a member. And this was the section of the response that gave me so much comfort and the knowledge that I was in the right place and doing what I was supposed to do with the right people: “Jesus was all about love. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality – that was all Paul. God is love. We can’t put him in a box.” We have since had many other conversations. Remember, I love to discuss religious views on all topics! I have never felt so comfortable in a church setting and this solidified that I had made the right decision. I know it is a combination of love, faith and acceptance that gives me comfort.

Some people obviously knew this was what I was doing. I remember telling Amber I had been taking the RCIA classes and that I knew she would see on Facebook and that I was becoming Catholic. Remember, she is my holds no punches friend, but she was crazy supportive. She wants me to do what I feel is right in my life – no judgement, all love! And when I told Amy the girls and I were getting baptized and becoming Catholic, she burst into tears! Remember, this is my Methodist Temple Amy – lol – but the fact that I had let God into my life and made steps to acceptance and faith gave her a huge sense of relief and joy for me. I could not see her obviously, she was in OKC when I told her this news, but I could hear this was a total ugly cry!

So the Easter Triduum came and the girls and I attended all three masses – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. We were baptized together with a huge audience (remember, there were a lot of us!) filled with our friends and family. Emlyn and I were confirmed together. Charly has to wait for Confirmation and Communion and go through the REP classes when she gets into 2nd grade. My mom, Jennie and the girls came to the Easter Vigil and were there along with our sponsors/god mothers and we had a huge celebration. For those of you who do not know, Easter Vigils are super long. Especially for 5 year olds. BUT, I did not feel like it was. We were active participants and I felt so relieved. I felt washed over by the Holy Spirit, comforted by my sins being washed away, and full of new life.

I am still the same person I was before – still sassy and spunky and have the mouth of a sailor (sorry, Deacon John) – but I am more full of life. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly myself and I am working each day on seeing my progress in life and becoming my most authentic self – my faith journey is part of that realization. I am comforted in the thought that I always have a home. My girls and I have a huge extended family. Deacon John was right – I feel surrounded by love and light – this is the church’s message. This is such a departure from the Hell and Brimstone that I have heard so much of in life in religious settings. I can’t seem to find the right words to describe the difference in the weekly messages I hear through the Catholic Church and how full of hope and promise they are as compared to other messages I have heard in my past, many filled with fear mongering and alarm.

I am so thankful for this path and for the friendships I have made and strengthened through this spiritual journey. I am thankful that I am still able to respect other beliefs and enjoy a good conversation about the differences between all forms of spirituality and faith. I am hopeful that I someday get to go on an Italy trip to the Vatican and possibly to the Holy Land. I am a history buff and I think it would be awesome to touch and see physical manifestations of my faith. These are tips I would love to take with Tiffany – and I wonder what I have to do to arrange Monsignor Cincinnati and Deacon John to join us?

I am blessed in so many ways and beyond happy that I could share these feelings with all of you. I am comforted often by these two passages…I hope you can find some comfort in them too! Romans 5:8 “I loved you at your darkest.” And Colossians 3:14 “Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly.” ♡

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lindsayProverbs 31:25 “She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
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