Monday, June 15, 2015

Wham Bam

Many of you know that I just returned from visiting my cousin in Hawaii. It was an amazing time, and was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. My time in Hawaii was filled with all of the things that we wanted to do while we were there, but was also a time for me to be alone (I went without the kids) and reflect. These last three years have been a whirlwind, and it is currently that time in my life that involves a lot of things changing very soon. So, some inner calm is certainly desirable. I felt the whole time that I was going to learn something while I was there. I am like that, I look for signs and meaning in everything, everywhere I go. I usually find it. It's funny because I half expected something to be "wham bam" in my face. But it didn't happen that way.

There was a day when we went on a pontoon out to the sand bar. It was a going away party for my cousin's husband, who ironically couldn't be there. The captain of the pontoon brought a paddleboard with him which turned out to be the hit of the day with the kids. I decided to try my hand at it as well. I was told that it was difficult to paddleboard, due to keeping balance on a board on the water and paddling at the same time. Naturally, my determined self stood up on the board, got the paddle and began paddling. I felt like I was doing very well, and was comfortable on the board. All of a sudden I realized I could no longer hear the voices of anyone in our group... really no sound at all, except that of the ocean. I turned myself around, and was shocked at how far out I had paddled without even realizing it. I had a moment of panic as I saw how small the pontoon was on the horizon. I was on a small board in the middle of the ocean, with a paddle and no lifejacket. Thankfully, I was able to focus and calm myself and began paddling toward the pontoon/sand bar. This time, the water that so easily brought me out, was not so easy to paddle against. There were times when I felt I wasn't moving at all, and times when the water was shifting me another way. I paddled for quite sometime without getting very far. It was then that I heard an inner voice that said, "If you can't make it back on your own two feet, get down on your knees." I paddled standing up a few more times, because I am stubborn like that. Then I grinned, and lowered to my knees, (thank the powers that be for good balance) and situated myself. I began paddling. Let me tell you, it was so much easier and faster that way. It may seem silly to some, but I believe that this was my lesson while I was in paradise.

Sometimes, we get out too far and can't find our way back on our own two feet. It is then that getting on our knees (aka praying) that bring us back easier and faster. Lesson learned. I'd still like a wham bam in my face sign with bright shiny flashing lights, but I've come to realize that it doesn't typically happen that way. Signs and meanings are subtle. You have to learn to listen, but listening is only the first step - it's the action that gets you there safely.

See that person way in the distance. That's me. And I hadn't turned around yet.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wikky wikky

Hi ya'll.Today is a special day. This would have been my late husbands 40th birthday. Oh the party I was planning. He would have hated this birthday, but would have loved every second of the party with all of his greatest friends and family. Wave hello to him today and sing him a raucous happy birthday if you would.

Today, I bring to you many things that have crossed my mind over the past few years, and especially over the last few months. For those of you that are not aware, I just completed graduate school. I graduated with two masters degrees and a hell of a GPA. I am very proud of all that I worked so hard for. In that time, I was able to start my healing process, because although graduate work is certainly difficult, school is my comfort zone -  it is what I do and what I am good at. So going back to school served many purposes, to further my career and be able to provide more for my family as I am now the sole bread-winner, to do what I love in order to be able to get over many personal hurdles, and to provide a sense of stability after our world was turned upside down.

Here is where it gets tricky. There are so many well-meaning people that think they know what I am thinking, what I am feeling, or what I deal with on a daily basis. Sadly, not many people know who I really am. I get a lot of head tilts with the sad. "How are you's". I know that some people think that I went to school to run and hide from what was going on in my life, and that now is the hard time because I have to be a "real" adult now. And that every decision that I make has everything to do with my broken heart, and that I somehow cannot be trusted to make a good decision because of what happened to me. Let's rewind for a minute. Errrrrrrtt. (that's the rewinding sound).

1. I am a widow. But that does not define who I am. That is something that happened to me, but I am still me, and I am the same me that I have always been.
2. I have always been driven. I have always been a high achiever when I really wanted something. This has nothing to do with the death of my husband. It has everything to do with how my creator made me.
3. It is disrespectful to think that I would choose to do anything foolish because I am "distraught" in your opinion. Of course I miss Rob, and it has been horrible to have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But I did it and will keep doing it.
4. Please give credit where it is due, not by praising me for a job well done, but by trusting in my ability to make a "grown up" decision. I'm 32 and I have been living the "grown up" life for quite some time now, as well as going to school and kicking its tail.
4. Just because you wouldn't or can't do something does not mean that I won't or can't. My life decisions are mine. If I want input I will ask. And even if I ask and you give it, it does not mean I will do what you want me to do. We all know that.
5. My life isn't divided in a BC and AD timeline. Stop acting like it is. It is not the same of course, but is yours the same as it was yesterday? Please stop trying to define who I am personally by circumstances in my life beyond my control.
6. I am not a child. I have children. I am a mother, I am a daughter, I am a sister, I am a friend, I am many many other things. But I am NOT a child. Please do not treat me like one. Take off the white gloves.

I am definitely not saying that I want to forget what happened in my life. I never ever will, nor would I ever want to. What I am asking is for people to stop trying to put widows or others that have experienced loss in a bubble of "the poor widow that must weep all day long and can't fend for herself". I KNOW that I am not the only one that has ever felt this way after a loss. I however may be the only one with enough balls to voice it. If you take nothing else from this, please remember this - People are still people no matter what life hands them, and deserve to be treated as people, and respected as such. 

Life is beautiful, even after loss. It is. It is different. But different isn't always bad. At some point, everyone will have to deal with loss on some level. Just as the journey through loss progresses, so should the treatment of that loss. 

I love you all and am so glad to share my thoughts with you. I truly understand that people care, and want to help. I do. Trust me on that. I am as intuitive as it gets. I suppose I just want to tell you how it is on the other side, how it feels on my end sometimes, and that feeling boxed in or smothered is not a pleasant feeling. Being cognizant of how you approach people and what you say to them can make all the difference. Sometimes, a little hug and "I believe in you" goes a very, very long way.

Thank you for digging down to the nitty gritty of all that is so often overlooked in our society. If you could not already tell, my heart is for changing social injustices, and I believe the treatment and care of those who have lost loved ones is one such injustice.

Much love. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Danelle aka Ruby

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's not for you

Helloo everybodyyyyy.

Let's talk about loving and supporting the people you love. No, I don't feel like writing right now. So when I'm ready to talk about the undeniable lack of support that only stems from peoples fear and insecurities which they then project onto me, then I will write further.

Until then, enjoy these memes and think about how you treat people you love. Do you try to control them? Do you think you know what's best for them always? Do you discourage anything that is outside of what you consider "normal" or "safe"? Do you always have something negative to say or a scowl on your face? If so, I pray that you find your inner peace. And I am here to tell you that we are done with you. All of us hoping that maybe, just this once you will be supportive of our life decisions and try to say something positive,  no matter how you feel about it. I'm going to leave these here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The "C" Word

Lately I have been thinking about that atrocious word that everyone hates to hear. The "c" word. You know what I'm talking about. Hearing it makes you cringe and open your mouth in disgusted reproach. I know. I used to hate it too. But lately it has become one of my favorite words in the English language. I believe it's even in the Urban Dictionary now. Here it is.. are you ready... click the "X" in the upper right hand corner of your screen if you don't want to read it. Ready.......set.... 


I know. It's evil. But let me tell you. Everything is going to be ok. Here are some lovely quotes to help ward of the body shakes you got from reading that no good, terrible word. 

"It is what it is"

"What will be will be"

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" - Rienhold Niebuhr

"Different each time they occur, the seasons cycle through our years, just as they do our love. A winter may be long and treacherous and seemingly never ending. Thus, comes the spring, to thaw the heart and soul, continuing the cycle. Summer may be scorching, only to suddenly halt to an early frost, falling of leaves and changing of colors… or, it may be languid, leading to a crisp and vivid fall of ones utmost desires. One never knows how and when the seasons will change, only that they eventually will. To survive the changes, we must learn to find and wring the seasons of all of their goodness, and to remember that no matter what, spring always arrives after winter."
 - Danelle Eckhart

And with that the shakes are gone. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Personal Day

Today, I am struggling. And, because it is my goal to be open and honest about my journey, I have decided to post about it. I am yet again feeling overwhelmed, terrified, and unsure. It happens, and I'm here to tell you that it will pass, but how it will pass is up to me. So, I elected to take care of me today. I am here, and in my own little mind trying to figure everything out that is currently not figureoutable (new word of the day). You can imagine how that works - not very well. Instead of writing more about my struggle, because I have already done that, it's pretty much the same,  I am going to post some things that I read today that are great food for thought and have helped me center. Enjoy, and remember that sometimes, you just have to take care of you.

Forget Everything…& Remember This.

via Alex Sandra Miles

"Everything that has happened along the way—forget it.

Forget about the first love that broke your heart.

And forget about the last break too.

Forget the time a friend you thought was best pushed a knife in your back.

Forget the words and the spite that resound in your head.

Forget the trauma that injured your flesh or your bones.

Forget the rejection you felt when someone failed to recognise your value.

Forget the tears that cleansed your soul.

Forget the mistakes that everyone makes.

Forget what you gave, without return.

Forget the mistrust, the resentment and the jealousy.

Forget about lies, betrayal and deceit.

Forget about the ones that got away—they were not meant.

Forget the time someone tripped you and caused a fall.

Forget the times you gambled but forgot you could lose.

Forget about whispers and gossips and stories—it is all an illusion, the truth only lives in one self.

Forget about rules and regulations—make new.

Forget about thinking—let the mind sit still.

Forget about time—let your heartbeat decide.

Forget about fear, it will paralyse—it is useless.

Forget about perfection, it is unobtainable—imperfection is true beauty.

And forget about forgetting—allow the release to happen. Naturally.

Then try as you can, to remember this…

Everything is already a part of you, the lessons have been learned, the memories etched and the effects have sunk in.

There is no need to hold on—it all already exists, so allow it. Let it just be. Without grasping.

Without pressing repeat.

It all had a purpose, once, long ago. Even if it was yesterday, or a minute ago—it has now passed. Past.

So just breathe…and breathe again. Deeply.

Right here, right now.

You are alive. You survived. In this very moment, this one… here…

You can choose. Choose to live.

Run. Fly. Wildly.

Begin again.

And begin to feel alive.


Everything and nothing and all in between—feel it all. Flushing through your veins—let it in, let it sit and then let it go.

Slowly, but very surely, replace all of the forgotten with all of the new.

Add to it, mix to it, blend whoever you were, who you are now with who you are about to become.

Alchemy—turn it to gold. Turn you. It is easy. Try. All of you. Every part.

Stir the storms with the rainbows, the pleasure with the pain. Create.

Forget the old. Sprinkle in new.

Stardust. Magic. Wanderlust. Mystery. Moonlit skies. Forests. Deserts. Sparkle. Dance. Have faith. Go. Find. Don’t look far. It is there. It always was, always has been. Right there, right here. Right now.

Be free.

And each time you are overwhelmed, or hurt, or angry or in pain—go back to the top, read once more, unlearn, forget and begin again."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Beautiful, blessed beings

So, here I sit, on my couch. My body and hair are clean, my hair is blown dry and is waiting to be primped. You see, I'm perfectly timing my day, because I have a performance this evening. This is a ritual for me, as I suffer from performance anxiety, so in order to cope, I learned what I should and should no do on performance day if I can at all help it. Relaxing at home is what I should do. Everything else is what I should not do. Luckily, I didn't have anything to do until my performance that evening, so my plan was to relax.

Now, let's just start by saying that the day began rather well. I woke up to snuggles with my beautiful baby boys (they would say. "Mom! We're not babies!" if they were reading this, but they're not, so I can say what I want). Got up and did my morning kitchen routine consisting of making coffee, popping popcorn (real, not microwaved) for my kids school snack, making my kids breakfast and making their lunches. It's actually a routine I don't mind. It gives my body a chance to wake up, and I actually enjoy the structure of it. I did my normal checking up on the boys to make sure they were indeed getting dressed and not sitting on the floor of their room, poking each other, or wrestling. They were not. They did a great job getting dressed and in fact received a reward from me (a quarter) for such a smooth morning - trust me it doesn't happen often. We went out to the garage and squeezed in to the car (our garage is muy small). Then, it happened. my car wouldn't start.

Refer to above notes on what I should and shouldn't do on performance days. This could have been very bad, very bad indeed. However, instead of panicking, I got out of my car, cleared all the obstacles that I could, and like a ninja squeeezeed through tiny spots between my car and the wall of my garage, and climbed on top of my car to get to the hood and my car charger ( I have one of the chargeable ones that you don't need another car for - great since I certainly couldn't fit another car in my garage!) One thing, the battery charger wasn't charged. Womp wah. Another opportunity for panic! Nope. I calmly plugged it in to charge, asked Joseph to get in my purse and hand me my phone. I called the school and said they'd be late, called Sleeping Beauty (my momma :)) and asked if she could take them to school. She of course said yes, like she always does. (Have I mentioned how much I love my mom. She rocks. )
My mom came and got the kids in a jiffy, took them to school and on her way back called me and asked if I'd like to go to breakfast. I didn't want to exit my house as I still had pajamas on, so I said no, but I would be happy to make some if she'd like to come over but I needed some eggs. So, my lovely mother, went to the grocery store and picked me up eggs and an ever growing list of other things I needed while she was there. She's awesome. Did I mention that? We had a lovely breakfast of homemade waffles, turkey bacon, eggs and coffee and  we chatted. I really enjoyed spending time with her and she even helped me clean up my kitchen mess!

Here's the deal kids. My life has been insane the last few years. Right now is a very pivotal time for me. I'm in my last semester of graduate school, so that means comprehensive exams (2 sets), a graduate recital and all of my other coursework. Not to mention applying for jobs, knowing we'll probably be moving this summer depending on where I get a job, and trying not to panic about the drastic change that my life is about to make.. again. I have struggled immensely, but I have also grown by leaps and bounds. Really, I have. I look back and think how something like my car not starting on a performance day would have wrecked me not too very long ago. Not so today. Maybe it is because I have become SO incredibly thankful for all that is good in my life, that the bad just seems like an opportunity for greatness to shine through. But the greatness did not shine through me, today it was through my mother. She truly blessed me today with her love and support. You see this is not something that is abnormal for her. She is constant. Always, always there when I need her. She knows intuitively when I need help, and she has my back at all times. Mothers are beautiful and blessed beings. And, guess what, I am so happy that my car didn't start today.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The multi-faceted years of grief: Going deeper

Many people have heard that the first year of loss is the worst. I disagree. I think that it is different than the first, but not necessarily the worst. Neither are good for that matter. 
For this post, I will be examining the differences between the first and second year of grief from my perspective, so that any and all may try to understand some of the things that a grieving person goes through on a deeper level. 

Year One

  • It is not okay to just assume that the bereaved are okay because they survived the first year. 
  • That is what the first year is all about, learning to survive. 
  • The body kicks into fight or flight response and the survivors do just that, survive, because they have no other choice. 
  • I bring this up because many people look at the bereaved and think they're okay because they seem to be handling their new life well, and they might smile sometimes in public. This is what you see, but may not necessarily be what occurs behind closed doors. 
  • The bereaved may try to reinvent themselves because everything else in their life just drastically changed, so why not them too.
  • It is not just losing a loved one. It is everything that comes with it. Financial stability, a father or mother to the children, a companion and partner, help around the house etc. 
  • Family dynamics also shift. Holidays and family gatherings are not the same. Family and friend relationships are not the same and some are lost.  
  • People don't look at you the same. The look of pity is, in my opinion, one of the worst.
  • Every monumental date - holidays, birthdays, anniversaries etc. are emotional and painful, and even if you have prepared yourself, you cannot prepare enough for the ache in your soul. 
  • You learn to see the signs of your loved one still being present in some way in the world. You learn to listen to your gut, and if you haven't start listening! Hang on to it and keep your eyes open. You will need this skill more than you think down the road. 
Year Two
  • By now, the bereaved is used to surviving on their own. But, let me make it clear that just because they are used to it, it does not in any way, shape or form make it easier. 
  • The support from the first year is now mostly gone. People have gone back to their lives, and assume you're okay now, so the help dissipates. 
  • It becomes increasingly more difficult to see other people be happy and move on with their lives. 
  • Where there was hope the first year, there is a void in the second. 
  • The reality that there are many items of the deceased that need to be given away or sold has to be dealt with. This is stressful, and no one wants to do it, or help with it. You're on your own.
  • It's like reopening a wound when getting rid of things that you're used to sitting around the house, but at some point logic has to take over. If it's not useful, and the kids, you or family members won't want it, then get rid of it. 
  • The loneliness takes over at times. You are increasingly aware that you are alone in this world. You watch others find partners and be happy and you sit on the back-burner and wonder "why not me?"
  • You realize that you aren't open to a relationship and that answers the prior question.
  • Now comes the real struggle of the second year.... how do you once again become open and/or why would you want to?
  • You certainly don't have time to date with all of the added duties on your plate, after all, you are now mother and father of the household, you do it all
  • Furthermore, you are pickier than you used to be because of the relationship you had with the deceased and you now have children that you must look out for. 
  • It becomes increasingly important that you are wise with your decision of who you let into your life, because unlike before you had kids, there is no longer one person to look out for and make sure that the other person meshes with, there are three (in my case). 
  • Because of all that is above, finding someone seems almost hopeless. By this time in your life most people are settled, and "all the good ones" taken. The old adage of "there are plenty of fish in the sea" is not applicable here. This meme amuses me to no end. It absolutely is not all about looks as this meme implies, but it is still how a widowed woman feels when trying to even comprehend dating again. 
  • You feel sad and unhappy some of the time, but feel like no one notices or cares anymore because it's just normal. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it's not. Find someone to talk to, whether it be a friend, family member, doctor or counselor. You may have to be pickier about who you talk to about these things these days. There are some that just don't want to hear it anymore. That's okay, find someone who will listen and give good advice and no judgement. 
  • Remember those signs I talked about earlier? You'll continue to see them. Take comfort in them. Listen to them, because they can be a guiding force and that is one of the biggest things you'll need the second year.
  • Guidance. Where do you go from here? How do you decide? You listen to your gut and you follow the signs. External forces can be your greatest asset in determining your future. 
  • Reach deep down to the core of your soul and figure out what it's telling you in the second year. It may be completely different than you imagined your life would be. It's okay. Your life has changed and you have changed and so your purpose and life goals may have changed as well, in fact, I can almost guarantee they will. Find your purpose. 
They say the only way to get through grief is through it. I agree of course. You can't hide from it, you can't run from it, you can't pretend it never happened. It is what it is, and all you can do is move forward, weep, beg and pray that one day it will get better. 

I believe it will.