How to Breathe

This is such a theme in my life isn’t it?

I’ve been really down lately.  My anxiety has been back.  My knee started swelling up again a week or so again, so I immediately made a doctor’s appointment – I go in on Thursday to see my orthopedic surgeon to see if I’ve done something to it or if my arthritis has just gotten out of hand.  I’ve cut all cardio and exercise from my routine hoping the rest would help and I fear that I’ll start to undo everything I’ve been working for.

I crashed a little bit after the anniversary of my dad’s death- I grieved really silently this year other than the blog post.  It was like I poured it all out of my system and then didn’t know what to do with all of those feelings.

I felt just so incredibly lost and overwhelmed.  I found just a moment of solace in my prayers at night.  I would beg for my heart rate to slow down, for calmness to creep into my soul.

Today I got a little bit of help.

A few months ago the singer/songwriter who you all know I have so much respect for and who has made the music that I have found so healing as of late began releasing snippets of songs that would be on his new album.

Today – Matthew Mayfield released Wild Eyes.

On Wild Eyes is a song entitled How to Breathe.

And as I listened to it the whole way through the first time I rushed up to close my office door because my emotions just exploded.

“The back and forth the push and pull / It’s carved a curse inside my soul / Yet I believe that this tug of war has taught me how to breathe”

I said back when I first talked about Matthew Mayfield’s music in November that everyone should find a song that makes them feel again.  For me its understanding that being broken is ok.  It’s my brokenness that makes me who I am.  No one has the same cracks that I do – No one has been put back together the same way that I have.

I am blessed for the dents, dings, rust stains and scars that I carry.  Each one has taught me how to breathe.  In the end every single one of them ended with some type of hope.  How easy it is to forget that.

Thank you MM – thank you the timing of this album could not have been better.

The album is available on iTunes now.

12 years – Grief Becomes

Today marks 12 years since Dad passed away… is it odd that I wonder how best to describe it… – lost his battle with cancer, died, left us, succumbed to the disease, was called to heaven… I hate them all… passed away seems like the most benign of them all I suppose… so we’ll go with it….

12 years…

Hard to imagine…

I say that every year… every time I add another digit to that total and every year it still feels like yesterday… this year it crept up on me like a sneaky little bugger… Being on vacation, then coming home to a crazy schedule and this weekend I was down with a flu-like virus so all of the sudden I was like crap – seriously Feb 11th where did you come from… I was not ready…

Maybe it’s a good thing… I’m emotional but I didn’t get the chance to dwell.. Maybe it’s because I’m so proud of where my life is at that I’m doing better this year… there’s a whole host of reason’s, then again – I could just be one hot mess by tonight so who knows…

Before I get too deep into this post can we take a second to just admire my dad’s hair… and stache… 2 5

Things of magic they were… and that photo – total James Bond look…

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I went searching for quotes that put into words what I was feeling this year – it’s quite the eclectic mix… this first one – so true… When I think back to when I found out that Dad’s first diagnosis was only for a few months and yet he held on for over two years I can’t even imagine – I was clueless… I just assumed things would keep struggling on… It was like I wasn’t really there while it was all happening… If I ignored it all it couldn’t really be true… there would still be tomorrow… until there wasn’t…

In the photo above the quote I couldn’t even tell you what year that was… I can tell you that Dad was sick… I can tell you that I probably didn’t realize how sick he really was… I can tell you that I thought we still had a lot of tomorrows…

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I found some great photos of my dad from before I was even born and I have to admit I love this stuff – the things that let me glimpse the man he was…

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In the middle after graduation from West Point Military Academy

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On the right – from legend the very last day his face was clean shaven…  I wonder about his friends too and how they have battled their grief because I know how much his death rocked everyone he touched… I think of them today too… because I bet today they might just realize in a gut check moment that 12 years has snuck up on them too…

And there are the photos from when I was too young to remember him and my mom in happier times…

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It’s not much but now I so desperately cling to these as the bits and pieces of him… Like this scrap of paper that was tucked in a folder that brought me to tears last night… He was teaching me how to do a family tree… and when he got to writing himself in – he listed himself as Mr. Wonderful… How amazing that a little piece of his handwriting was the most precious thing I laid my hands on last night… Like for a moment I was touching his hand again…

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After he died I spent half of my time trying to drink away his memory and the other half of the time clinging to anything I could put my hands on which wasn’t much… I have to admit as I sorted through photographs last night I was amazed at how few there were of me and my dad because odds were he was behind the camera taking the pictures… Then I was shocked at the photos I found of the months after he died… where you never would have known the turmoil that was going on… I looked totally fine… which leads me to this next quote…

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This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes on grief because it gives it a picture… When everything was caving in, when everyone was scrambling to put the pieces back together there I was in some sort of insulated bubble… Never did I feel so alone… But I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone… Sometimes I still don’t… this is what anxiety attacks feel like… like everything is completely out of control but you are just there and how do you even get out of it… It won’t last forever though – that’s what you have to remember…

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I often forget that CS Lewis wrote and entire book on grief – A Grief Observed… and if this doesn’t sum it up I don’t know what can… grief can be terrifying because there is no answer and it is never the same, no two people feel it the same way and there is no fix, no cure… and then there are times when grief actually isn’t scary at all which kind of makes it scary… when I was on vacation and I sat on our porch and the sun set and I talked to my dad and I was somber and I was joyous and I said how I wished that I could share this with him… and I grieved…

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Most importantly I remember every day that I feel this deep grief for the loss of my father because of how much he loved me and how much I loved him… was he perfect? Not by a long shot, did we do everything right – nope, was I the best daughter I could have been – no way, I contributed many a grey hair… but he loved me more than I could have ever asked for… and because he loved me and I him, losing him left that much more of a void in my life…

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I miss him every moment of every day… I still, 12 years later, catch myself wanting to pick up the phone to call him and tell him something about my day…. When I have a completely breakdown I still scream out “why aren’t you here I need you”… I still wonder what life would have been life had things gone differently…

It’s the moments when people that knew him tell me how much I remind them of him, or when they say how they wish he could see what a wonderful person I’ve turned out to be, or when they say I hope you know how much he adored you… It’s in those moments that my heart breaks and bursts and I know I’ve done ok… and that I’m managing this grief thing as best as I can…

Take every emotion you can think of… roll it up and live it in a 5 minute span… and there you have grief… fear, love, joy, loss, anger, sadness, hope…

I love you Dad… 12 years….

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Getting Back to Life

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For 7 amazing days this was my view every morning…  Looking out from our house on Sabbath Hill Road in Belle Vue, Tortola… It was everything I could have asked for and more… I had absolutely no idea how burnt out I had become until I got down to that island – where responsibilities were minimal, where my biggest worry was about wearing enough sunscreen and navigating some narrow roads with my best friend (and amazing driver)…

I had reached a level of manic back home that I was completely unaware of… It took a good 2-3 days before the island lifestyle started to sink into my bones but once it did I accepted it with open arms…

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The people were great – we met some amazing locals and other people vacationing from all over the world – many who vacationed at the islands every year…

When it was time to go home we told the people we rented from that we intended to come back as soon as finances allowed us to… (we rented our house through Air B&B and it was fantastic – Olivia and Stany were great hosts and lived next door and were available any time we needed something)

In the airport in Miami when I was able to finally call home everyone started to comment how I sounded different, that I talked slower, seemed more relaxed, calmer, less anxious… It was true I really did… I just felt totally refreshed… Even when I jumped into some work things while working from home my first two days back I didn’t get stressed out – just took things as they came and rolled with the punches…

The day I got back my amazing grandmother turned 99.. Yes 99… we took her to dinner at our favorite restaurant/bar.  The bartender had a reserved sign on the bar for us and party hat for her.  He was so excited to have us.

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She said she didn’t want any cake… but when I ordered some she ended up eating almost all of it anyways…

I had a fantastic 30th birthday party the Saturday after I got back with my good friend Judge who just happened to also be turning 40 and made the most of the last few days I had off.

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Elsa cupcakes – sorry the photo is so dark… I’ll update with a better one from the baker and my good friend Mel’s account! (shoutout to MommaMels)IMG_5274

What goes better with cupcakes than a few shots…

Then it was back to real life.  I was determined to hold onto this relaxation I had found… determined…

It lasted 2 days…

Tuesday night as I sat at home I raged into an anxiety attack out of no where and all I could think was how could this happen so quickly.  So I decided I would just go down the list of things I could think of that would help to ease me out of it.  Since I couldn’t identify what caused it I focused on getting comfortable, warmed up, secure… I allowed myself to “stim” which is often associated with autism but we actually all do it to some level – when we jiggle our leg, all of those unconscious movements to calm our minds… mine – when I hit extreme anxiety is slight rocking… might make me look like a crazy lady but oh does it help…

I finally was able to calm my nerves enough to get into bed – got under my weighted blanket which – BEST INVESTMENT EVER – well really best gift since my mom got it for me… as soon as I was under it I started saying a few prayers, my favorite psalm and before I knew it I woke up a few hours later needing to roll over in bed…

I woke up this morning not feeling well at all so I’m wondering if the anxiety attack was actually my body freaking out over a quick onset virus or bug…

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Minnie held me up after today’s work out… I needed some comforting at 6am that’s for sure…

Despite everything I knew the key to getting back into a schedule would be maintaining the work out and eating habits I began before I left for vacation…  So back to prepped food and early morning work outs… AND the bf got me the new fitbit Charge which is pretty beastly at tracking – does a lot better than the flex at tracking steps and sleep… So time to keep moving forward… and I’m going to try and remember than life will not end if I don’t get something done this instant… Need to put my health first…

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