Monthly Archives: March 2017

I Can’t Find Hope Right Now

Standard

If you’ve been around me for any real length of time, you’ve quite likely heard me talk about hope. I cannot count the times I’ve said that hope is real, or even that hope is still real. In certain things, and with some circumstances, I can still get behind that.

Right now, though, I cannot find mine. When hope feels like it’s on an extended vacation, I feel fairly lost and somewhat confused even. I have hope for some things, but fail to find it in places where it really matters. Take for instance this…I have lost hope that life will ever be okay again, let alone good. I legitimately can’t find the hope to believe that right now. And it scares me.

Just have faith.

If you’re tempted to share those three words with me, then go for it. But, right now, that’s another topic that I’m struggling with. I am overwhelmed, and I have no idea, right now, what exactly all I believe. No, no, I haven’t lost my faith. But, I haven’t found it either. I have the faith I’ve always had, but with lots more questions. I fear that many of the things I once held dear, really aren’t. I listened to a pretty incredible message this past weekend (more on that when I have the strength and wherewithal to finish that post) but I don’t know how to hold onto that message – it was one of joy, grace and hope. But, while they were great words, they’re gone – seemingly more than 500 miles away like the pastor of that little church now is. In another state, far away.

As you can tell, there is pain hidden (and not so hidden) in my words. I’ve mentioned before the removal of masks. I want to know others, and be known. I want to share my heart, and know that I’m heard. I long for the things others do – to love, and to be loved. I do have that. But, I also feel empty right now. I know, not all that much of a faith filled response. I get that. But, I’m also done hiding my thoughts and feelings. So, here they are. My heart in a post.

For those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time, or who know me at all – you probably also know I stand against the stigma revolving around mental health, mental illness and suicide. I mention those because they are struggles I face everyday. I struggle to hold onto my mental health while wrestling with mental illness…and fending off thoughts of suicide. Yes, I have those thoughts. Not, thoughts that I want to take my life though. Thoughts that I wish I weren’t here, or living through hell on earth. But, I am, and I will. I won’t lie – I have no idea, some days, how to keep doing this thing called life with a certain lack of hope. But, I will do what I know to do. Place one foot in front of the other. Taking one step, then the next. I’ll do those things, but right now, everything feels kinda empty. And, I don’t like that.

If you are the kind who believes in the power of prayer, I invite you to pray for me. Feel free to tell me you’re praying. Feel free to ask how I am. But, don’t believe me if I tell you I am good. Cause I’m not. Will I be again? I don’t know – I guess only time will tell. But, I can’t find the hope that reminds me of that. So, if you DO have that hope. and if you do pray – maybe you can believe it for me, during the times I seemingly can’t.

Advertisements

Throwback Writing: Fast As Lightning

Standard

This is an essay I wrote. A short (timed) writing assignment – written by me, my senior year in high school. As I was browsing some of my older writing, a couple decades in the past, I wanted to share some of these writings with the world. I am changing nothing, and will type/print exactly as my writing on paper appeared.

Fast as lightning…what does this mean to me? There can be so many hidden meanings found. Cars can be referred to as going high rates of speed, like lightning. Another comparison I think accurately describes this cliche is LIFE. Life. Life is fast as lightning. It is like a vapor: Here one minute, and gone the next. Just as you can’t predict where lightning will strike next, neither can you predict when someones life may come to a screeching halt.

Back to the fastness of lightning. Lightning and life…they are both fleeting. Another thing that is fast as lightning is sound. I mean, you can say something, one second, and then the sound disappears. Lightning strikes, and then quickly it is gone. Sound comes, and quickly brings silence. 

Just as life is fleeting, so is time. I guess it is all of the brief, fleeting moments of time that make up life. So together, it can go by like lightning: fast! Part of time, life, and growing up is school. School can go by very fast. Kind of like, life is composed of a bunch of fast-as-lightnig fleeting moments.

Facing Life After Death – Walking Through Life’s Unbearable Moments

Standard
20150704_134010_wm

This child. This courageous fighter embodied strength combined with love. She knew and showed compassion. Though she faced insurmountable odds, she gave the world so many gifts – love, hope, compassion, joy, and so many other beautiful things. She leaves a beautiful legacy of love.

Last night, I had the opportunity to spend time on the oncology floor at our Children’s hospital. If you know my story at all, you know that my daughter died (13 months ago today) from brain cancer. She spent a great deal of time on this very same oncology floor. So, to be admitted with her older brother – it was difficult. When I introduce this paragraph as this being an opportunity, I did so intentionally. I had the chance to feel things that needed feeling.

With regards to being on that floor again – it was quite a mixture of emotions. Each and every emotion you could have, I did. I was angry. I was happy. I was sad. I had joy. I knew deep pain. I knew incredible love. It hurt so much. But, there was so much beauty. I was able to see the love in those walls. Empathy and compassion on the faces of nurses who remember Janet, and who remember the love. I was stopped once, and asked if I was Janet’s mom. That was such a heartbreaking and more than that – heartwarming moment. She was there the night before Janet died, and she remembers. She’ll never forget my baby. I saw another nurse this morning that also knew Janet well. No magical words, but compassionate eyes. We did talk, and it did my heart good. They still care. They’ll never forget her either. My heart needed to feel the pain, but to also feel the love.
 
I kinda think each and every day, all of life, is this way as well. Think about it. As I have said so many times before – I KNOW that I feel the deep pain that I do because of deeply rooted love. If you look at ANY passion or emotion, look at the polar opposite emotion. Usually, you can find them attached at the hip. Weakness is attached to strength. Hope to hopeless. Broken to healing. Etc., etc., etc…
 
I want to encourage you guys with some encouragement that has been life – giving to me. As we all know I stand on the FACT that it is okay to not always be okay. More than that, it’s okay (make that vital) to feel what we need to feel. If we hurt, allow ourselves to feel. There’s that fine line, though, of not staying in that place forever.
 
If you need to know that you are not alone, allow me to be the voice that says, “me too.” No matter what you are walking through, know that you are walking THROUGH it. I know that you may be struggling with the most horrific pain you have ever experienced. Is it the same as my pain? No, not always? But, also, yes – perhaps. Either way, pain (like love) is a universal language. It speaks. Will you listen?? I will. Maybe you don’t need words. Maybe you just need someone to be willing to sit, even virtually, with you in your pain. That is a gift that has been offered to me, and it’s an outstretched arm I also offer.
 
I would also like to offer this tidbit. As a bereaved mother, I want you to know – any of you reading this, it is an honor to walk alongside you on your journey as well. Do I enjoy pain? No. But, there is great healing (for me) in doing life alongside other people. It gives me great purpose to be able to say, “I may not get exactly what you are going through, but it’s an honor to sit with you in this pain,” and mean it. I still consider it a distinct honor to walk alongside parents with children fighting cancer – at the beginning of their journey, or even in their final moments. Does it hurt? Absolutely. Is it hard? Without a doubt. Is it worth it? Absolutely, positively, without a doubt. I said all that to say this, PLEASE connect and reach out. Though I have walked through some very painful seasons, it gives me tremendous purpose to use our experience(s) to share hope, compassion and love with others.
 
So, in the event you ever need help, know that help exists. You aren’t alone, and you matter. You are valued and loved. Please give yourself the ability to feel what you need to feel, to be honest and to give your heart a voice. It is then, and only then, that healing can begin.
 
If you would like to talk to me, I am here. Reach out. If you have a friend who has a friend fighting cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a wealth of knowledge, and though it sucks, it’s an honor to share experience(s) with those walking through similar life experiences. If you’re just hurting, and your heart needs a voice, I’m here. A non-judgmental, listening ear.
 
To all who continue to surround our family with your thoughts and prayers – know that we are, and forever will be grateful. The love and encouragement you continue to share – there is so much strength found there. Thank you for, forever and always, for you reaching out and being able to #RememberTheLove. It brings me strength, and does my heart good.

Love Like Tomorrow Isn’t Promised 

Standard

Love. 

I will quote one of the most inspiring people on earth, Jamie Tworkowski; founder of To Write Love On Her Arms. I’m grateful for Jamie’s heart, and for the worldwide Army of people loving people exactly where there at, that he has created and continues to help grow.  He recently shared these words (and clothing with this coined phrase) :

Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. 

I talk about love often. We all should. Why, you might ask? It’s simple. 

Love is the backbone of strength. 

Every human being needs and deserves to be loved. We all do. But, taking that a step further, we also need TO love. 

My daughter, unbeknownst to her, created #RememberTheLove. (Feel free to search Facebook with that hashtag) This is something that she lived and breathed. It’s something I strive to do more of every single day. Yes, in her honor and memory, but also to make an impact and love people well. 

Think about it. 

If we loved people in the same way we’re loved, or how we *should* be loved – we would strengthen ourselves, our relationships, families, communities, our Nation, and yes- the world. Dramatic? Sure. But it’s truth. Love (kinda right up there in connection with hugs) makes the world go round. 

My daughter was dying, and she knew she was going to die. She didn’t want everyone to be sad  (even though she knew they would be) when she went to Heaven – but, instead, she asked that we would #RememberTheLove. She GOT it. She understood.  Friends, at 7 years old, this sweet little girl knew more about love than many know in a lifetime. 

That is where strength comes in – at least for me. When the moments come, and they come often, that I am overwhelmed, and maybe feeling kinda hopeless – it is love that sustains me. It is grounding, and produces strength.  Love is this powerful force that gives strength unlike anything else possibly could.

So, yes, you’ll find that I talk a great deal about love. It’s because love is life changing, life giving, and even life saving. Will you join me in this journey of loving people well? Oh, and I should add – loving people well also includes YOU. Self care is vital. As you show yourself love, it’ll be easier to reach out with and in love. 

To all who read my words, who love my daughter and our family – thank you more than words can ever express (though, clearly it won’t be for lack of trying) for being strength for us every single day. I need you. Our family does. And, we are grateful for the continued love, thoughts and prayers, and support – in whatever form it takes. Love and hugs, all the way around. 

Dear Corporate America

Standard

Dear Corporate America,

I’m writing today to say some important things that I sincerely hope you take to heart, and listen to. I’ll start by saying that I need you. But, stopping there would be a disservice to both of us. Here’s the thing: you need me too!

When you look at me, you see an unemployable individual. You stop at my outer appearance alone, and never offer even an opportunity to showcase who I am. You see my colorful hair and two tattoos – one on each forearm. You might see a creative person who wouldn’t work well as part of a team. You may think that I buck the rules and can’t conform.

Allow me to alter your thinking, and share who I really am.

I am amazing. I am one of the best team players your company would come to know. How can I have the audacity to say these things?

I’m not conceited, but I know my value. I’ve struggled with mental illness, but this does not define me. I know deep pain, having lost my child after her cancer battle. However, because of this pain and loss, I know that hope is real. Though I am creative, and can work on my own – as an individual, I recognize the value of community. I have incredible attention to detail, but know how to ask for help when there is a need. I have unquestionable integrity – beyond compare, and a work ethic unlike many others. I’ve proudly served these United States while on active duty military service. I am a person you need in your team.

I’m not asking you to relax or throw out your personal appearance policies. I am, however, asking you to see me for who I am, and the countless others who don’t fit societal norms, for who they are. Recognize that I come to you, eager to better your company, image, and community footprint. That, amongst a host of other reasons, is what you forfeit when you deny the possibility of my employment.

You see me and think it’s easier to simply say no – we can’t hire you – this statement on appearance alone. You’re worried about offending those who expect societal norms. What you fail to understand is that my appearance will make far more people smile, connections within  the community, and start conversation. You need that, and I need you.

My plea to you is that you at least consider giving me a chance.

Close your eyes for a moment and pretend you don’t know my tattoos and bold colored hair are even a factor. Think about the kind of person you want working alongside you. Think about trustworthiness and integrity, along with precise attention to detail. Envision a person who treats others with respect, kindness, and operates with compassion. This person values human life, and knows that every person they come into contact with are living, breathing stories – stories that matter. Think of those things, and you’ll have a good picture of some of the many qualities I bring to the table.

For even the consideration, I share heartfelt gratitude.

I am certain that I need you – but, you also need me.