The summer heat boiled the atmosphere, waves rolling off the black asphalt and stealing the air from my lungs. I could feel my skin flushing under the harsh rays of sunlight, even through my jeans, but I stood still. Waiting. She said she would come, that she would be here this time. Something in her voice when she called made me believe her, but something always made me believe. Maybe I just wanted it that badly, that I grasped on to any reason I could find. After this many years I should know better, but here I am. 

A hot breeze stifled everything as it came through, filling my nostrils with arid heat and making my eyes water. Sweat began to form on my upper lip, little salty beads of water that I wiped away impatiently as reality started to sink in. She wasn’t coming. There would be a call tomorrow, or the next day, or if she was particularly out of it not for weeks. There would be an excuse, there was always an excuse. Her voice would crack, maybe she’d cry, she would tell me she’s sorry. I told myself I wouldn’t forgive her this time. Not now, not for this. Of all the days I needed her to show up, today I needed her the most. This time I wouldn’t let the guilt get to me, I wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. My throat tightened at the lie. I’d always forgive her. This was what we did, every year. 

I chewed on my lower lip, debating how much longer I would wait before walking back to my car and driving home. Alone, again. My head had started to ache and my mouth was dry, I’d already been out here for 3 hours. Any longer would be foolish, and yet I couldn’t get my feet to move. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that she had left me waiting again, and leaving would make it real. I wandered over to a large Oak tree at the edge of the park, and eased myself down underneath its’ dappled shade. One more hour wouldn’t hurt, I could give her that.

In Memory

I sat down and started to write this post about two weeks ago. I couldn’t finish it. I’ve been going through weird little writing spurts. I’ll have something I want to say and get it out three different ways, and the next day I’ll just stare at a page or a screen before walking away and doing something else. Even now I have to keep redirecting my focus back to this, my mind is so ready to be distracted by anything. Mother’s Day gifts I need to order, dishes that need to be done, cleaning I need to do, or projects I want to work on. This may take me longer than normal to get out, and I think that is because maybe some part of me still naively thinks that if I don’t put this out there, it won’t be real.

Almost 3 weeks ago, I received news that has forever changed me and my life. A friend of mine, that had been an integral part of my life for over a decade, passed away. Friend isn’t strong enough, she was a part of our family. She was more involved in our lives, more present, than any of mine and my husband’s siblings. Which is no shade on them, it’s just important to illustrate how involved and constant she was in our lives. As a mother, and a wife, there are few people that you will find in life that click into your family like they were made to be there. Stephanie was my best friend, but she was close with my husband, and with our daughters as well. Loosing her, we lost a part of our family.

I woke up this morning, I was tired. Not so much physically, but greatly emotionally drained. In my head I thought, maybe I should have someone over today, maybe I need some company right now. Immediately my mind jumped to Stephanie, and just as immediately I knew that wasn’t an option. I knew the fact that wasn’t an option was why I am so emotionally tapped out, why I’m sleeping even worse than I usually do, and why I was feeling like I needed someone to share space with me today. Instantly there’s a weird sinking, empty feeling that enters my chest. Then there’s weird little war inside me. Am I going to be productive this morning or am I going to feel. I can’t do both fully, they don’t go well together. Generally, since I am almost never alone, I tuck the feelings away and move about my day. I’m not afraid for my kids to know that I feel, but I do believe that it is my responsibility to make sure they feel like they are in a stable environment. Being emotionally stable is a big part of that. Tucking the hard things away is a challenge, but everyone grieves differently, so I’ve been told, for me it’s hard still not to get swept up in the grief if I let those thoughts in.

I’ve already discussed why this space is important for me, for my writing, and for my emotional and mental processing. Now it is even more important for me to give time and energy to this space. When I first considered creating this space, I spoke with my husband about it. Then, I spoke with Stephanie. I told her I wanted to do it, told her I was going to do it, told her- I did it!! We talked about the name, what should it be? What was available? Was this too vague, was this too many words, etc. She was a part of this space from its inception. After? Once the site was live, I told her. She subscribed, but not passively. I would post a piece, or write out a blog post like this, and she would reach out to me about her thoughts or how something connected with her. She was so supportive, and genuine. Knowing that she was on the other side of what I was sharing gave me comfort.

She believed in me and my dreams, she never judged or doubted. When I doubted myself she snapped me out of it. She would listen when I was in pain, show up for the big moments and the little ones. I feel like it’s only fair that the world stops and recognizes what they’ve lost and mourns her absence. At the same time, I know that she would want everyone she loved to keep moving, keep growing, and keep chasing after their dreams. So I get up in the morning, I get dressed, I’ll go run my errands and do my chores, I’ll keep moving. All the while knowing that it will never be the same, but hoping that if I live my life well she’ll know, and be proud.

Stephanie 2016

Jumping In (Again)

You may have noticed (or not), that I’ve fallen behind on my posting here. Last month was a very busy month for us. March starts with my husband’s birthday, less than 2 weeks later is our youngest daughter’s birthday, and exactly a week later is my birthday. It’s safe to say we’re pretty partied out over here. I still have a ‘party’ balloon pinned to the wall above my couch, a ‘happy birthday sign’ hanging across my living room window, and a balloon arch (yes I attempted this for the little one since we couldn’t really do a party this year I tried to go all out with decor) is still attached to my curtain rod. I’ll take them down, eventually.

In addition to the birthday madness, I’ve slipped back into working slightly longer days. My energy is easily directed at a TV screen right now, though I have also been gathering documents so that we can all go turn in passport applications this week. This has been something that I have wanted to get done for a long time and just never had the mental capacity to pull together and the funds at the same time. Passport fees for 2 adults and 2 children are not inconsequential, in case you were wondering. Needless to say, I’ve been otherwise occupied the last several weeks. I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing and being on here this week, I am also behind on my photography goals but I’m hoping that the nice weather this week will encourage me to jump on that as well.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that you couldn’t have done anything last year even if you wanted to, the extra time at home, or what- but I feel this need to do everything I possibly can this year. Getting out and taking pictures of my girls, going on day trips and weekend trips, camping, visiting friends & family we haven’t seen in forever, all of it. I feel this strong need to get out and live my life. I didn’t really feel any different after my birthday, people asked me how I felt being a year older. I didn’t think much of it, I felt the same. It’s been a couple weeks now, and I’m a little taken aback by the fact that I’m less than 3 years away from leaving the last decade of my life behind and starting an age with a new number. I feel like this decade has been sooooo long, and so many things have happened that I felt busy the entire time. It almost feels like now, 7 years in, I have the time and space to enjoy it. So that’s what I want to do.

I will try to be more regular on here, my goal is to post a writing twice a week and try to do a blog post at least once a month. All in all I think I’ve done fairly decent thus far. I have to really push myself some days to open the laptop and sit down with it, but I always feel better after I do. More relaxed, like I accomplished something and it’s not hanging over me anymore, and a little more free. Here’s to jumping back into that!

Cloudy Skies & Burnout

I, am tired.

When you get down to it, we’re all tired. The last year has pushed us and pulled us in so many different directions that it’s hard to know which way to go next at this point. Do I focus on work? Do I focus on projects at home? On hobbies? I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself and at the same time I find myself overwhelmed by all the things I could be doing, all the things I want to do. It’s this weird stale mate of sorts. Since I can’t seem to settle on one thing, I sit on my couch wrapped up in a blanket burrito. The weather keeps me inside, and inside I feel unable to focus.

People often forget that March has many rainy and overcast days, sprinkled with 70 degree spring days filled with sun. That those sunny days are the exception, not the rule. Today the sky is filled with heavy grey clouds that smother the sun and the stars and wait to release water upon the ground. I find it hard to have energy on these days even when I am not mentally exhausted. When I’m on the edge of a burnout, energy becomes something that I have to fight to pull out of myself. Simple things, stupid little things, like getting up to get a glass of ice water seems draining. Logically I know that this is ridiculous, but physically and mentally- I. Am. Tired. I don’t want to do dishes, I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to run errands, or think. I just want to reach some level of relaxation that will give me enough peace and happiness that I can carry it with me through the rest of me week. That level constantly evades me.

I think we all reach a point in the regular course of our lives, once a month, twice a year, once a week, etc., where everything going on in our lives builds to a point. Where something has to either lessen that build, that pressure, and bring it back down to a livable level. Or it just has to burst. Finding a way to manage things before a bursting point would be ideal, but I am not going to pretend that I have any idea how to do that or that I have any great words of advice on that subject. I find that for myself, physically walking out of situations or mentally boxing something up so that I can avoid that explosive moment. This isn’t always easy, and may not always feel possible, but it is something small I can do to keep more level. That being said, my mind feels very full these days. I feel like I am trying to remember so many things that inevitably there are things slipping through the cracks. I’m not sure what things, but I can feel that is is happening. Which just puts me in this place of anxiety that I don’t like to be in.

Anxiety is something that I think we are all more vocal about in today’s society, but somehow I don’t think that we understand it any more than we did before. We may be more accepting and understanding, but I think there are quite a large amount of us out there still trying to figure out what makes us tick, and what makes us stop working. I find that when I go through periods of high stress and anxiety, control becomes very important to me. Rules and structure and trust, become very important because I can’t control whatever is causing me anxiety or stress at the time. There are all these little things then, that I feel like I become hyper focused on, and I become very concerned about them being done correctly. This means at home if I ask for something to be done and it doesn’t happen I feel out of whack, and like I put trust in the fact that this thing, whatever it is, was going to be taken care of and that trust was misguided. Now that thing that wasn’t done becomes a stressor for me. At work it means that additional stressors (which will always come along), become increasingly difficult for me to accept. I just get to this point where logically I know that I need to shut it off and let things happen, but it’s like watching something you can’t turn away from. I know what I should do for my own sanity, but I am already so stressed and so anxious that I can’t let it go.

I am not a perfect person by any means. I work hard, I try to be well rounded (whatever that actually means for a working mother of two children in her 20’s), and I know that I do not always succeed at being the best mom, wife, or employee every day. I know (purely in retrospect) that I don’t always make the right choice between those roles. But, I try. I push myself so that on days like today, I get up ad I cook dinner. I get up and get myself a glass of water. I get up and I pick up my laptop and put some effort into this space I’ve created for myself here. And then, I get back into the blanket on my couch and watch my current Netflix documentary.

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