Life Changes & Heaven Birthdays

Here I am, sitting at story time, waiting for the wildchild to get done, and I can’t help but reflect on my day. I didn’t go to the gym this morning, and I really didn’t think twice about it until a new friend questioned me about it. I have joined a new gym (after my father passed away), and for those of you that really know me, know how hard that was for me. I had been at the old place for four years, and due to various reasons, it was time to move on. I really like the new gym, but every once in a while, I find myself in a rut… today, and yesterday, I was in a rut and just didn’t go. Yesterday I just felt exhausted and today, well, I couldn’t put my finger on why I chose not to go, until my new friend messaged me about it.

She, like many others, doesn’t know why today is one of those difficult days for me. Today, mom would have been 77, and I probably would have called her to tell her happy birthday, may have sent her a card or balloons. Instead, I am sitting here missing her deeply, but never forgetting her. I still remember her last birthday… the balloon, the flowers, and the slight smile on her face when I brought them in, though I still do not know if she really knew it was her birthday.

They say time heals all wounds, and in time, it gets easier. Somehow, I don’t feel like it. Yet, as one person recently said to me, “Kristie, I had no idea what was going on because you hide your feelings well.” So, to some it may appear I have moved on and life is roses and sunshine. However, that comment made me chuckle, but then saddened me at the same time. My coworkers would say they know me well, based on my facial expressions, since I cannot hide my feelings. This is true of work, but not at all in my personal life. I choose not to be an “open book” per se to everyone, just as I am rather careful of what I share on Facebook. Why, one may ask? Not everyone needs to know every intimate detail of the changes that are going on in my life, and the things that may be about to change, and the feelings associated with those things.

I won’t lie though, if there was one person I could share all of those things with, by far, it would be mom. She had a way of listening, genuinely listening, and then of course, every once in a while she’d throw her two cents in, but it wasn’t often. Don’t get me wrong, I have AMAZING friends and an AMAZING husband, but no one can replace your mom. No one at all. So, why am I choosing to share this? Today, this IS my thankful post… thank you, Jill, for messaging me off and on today, for being an awesome distraction (as I anticipate you may be in the weeks to come without even knowing it), and for checking in on me, though you had no clue what was going on. Thank you to those of you that still care enough to check in from time to time, to listen, and to commiserate with me at times. Today (or tomorrow since it is late) I ask each and every one of you to do me a favor… call your mother if she is still alive, send her a text, tell her how much she means to you, even if the last time you talked to her she argued, yelled at you, or perhaps, called you a Mother Fucker. Yep, what I wouldn’t give for one more of those conversations. In all seriousness, you never know what tomorrow may bring, so let your mom know how you feel. And if she, like my own mother, is celebrating her birthday in heaven, send her a little love by remembering all of the times you had with her, not just the good ones!

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Unknown Feelings

** Forewarning-Real, true, graphic feelings- STOP reading if you can’t handle that please. The teacher in me will want to try to organize these thoughts, but the realist in me knows I need to just get them down before I stop typing, so I apologize in advance if you have difficulty following this, but my mind literally IS all over the place.

As all of you know (or should know by now), my father passed away earlier this month, during the week I was taking care of him.  There have been SO many wonderful people that have asked me how I am doing, and I have given the typical, expected answer of ok, because what else can I say? I did admit to one person what I am about to admit to all of you. I honestly don’t know how I am doing. I am on auto pilot… Some days I am so angry I could scream. Other days I cry on the way to work or anytime I am alone in the car (I have never been one to cry in front of others if I could help it- reading my part of my parent’s eulogies was probably the exception as I knew my family would totally understand). I am sad more than I ever anticipated I would be. But, then again, who can predict being 37 and losing two sets of parents (biological in my 20’s though I did not have a relationship with them, and my parents within less than two years of each other)? Then I take step back and feel guilty for being so angry and sad, because it could be worse. I could be like a parent of children I tutor who lost her parents in her late teens or like my husband who lost his father in his late teens, or like one of my students that lost his father three days before my dad left us to be with my mom. LOST… I hate that word- are they lost? Or are those grieving the ones who are “Lost?”

In speaking with the student whose father died shortly before mine, I realized how much I absolutely HATE the words “I’m sorry.” I know they are meant to provide comfort, but how can one be sorry if you never knew the person? What is it they are sorry for? So here I stood, sharing/commiserating with my student about our fathers’ deaths as we both exchanged the awkward I’m sorries that just seemed so shallow, yet customary to say. Then we both attempted to hold back our tears, which I am sure was difficult for both of us, yet I felt the need to share/ empathize with my student, even if I am older, because death is still death, and the finality of it well… for lack of better words- it totally sucks.  I cannot even put words on the feelings associated with death.

I used to think what I feared most was being alone until my mom got sick. Then it hit me… in the process of watching her die, the actual watching someone die scared me. In my opinion, it is by far the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. So, when I agreed to take care of my dad for a week this August (agreed many months ago) so my sister, his primary caretaker, could get a break, I can’t lie, the thought of him dying “On my watch” scared the crap out of me. Watching him die and not being able to do anything to either save him or help him scared me too. Well… it all happened again, just as I feared, but I was very grateful my sisters came home to be there too. I remember thinking, when I came home after my mom died, I hope I never ever have to experience that ever again. Yet, I did, with my dad, though it was a bit different.  I remember coming home thinking I never ever want to experience going through that fear again because it more than sucks, it makes my heart, brain, and entire self feel so deeply it hurts.  I have a couple of friends that are hospice nurses, and all I can say is they truly are gifts/angels from God, because for the life of me, this ice princess cannot figure out how they cannot feel and display those feelings in front of the families.

I have to say, before I come off as an ungrateful person, I AM grateful, beyond words on a paper or screen, for all of those family members and friends that have attempted to help me during this rough transition. I’m not a hugger, so shockingly, I have actually appreciated the hugs people have forced upon me, especially those Duggar side hugs that some of my family members knows I LOVE so much. I have appreciated the untouched bottles of wine (I may eventually drink them) more than some of you realize, as besides my exchange son and his family, my Dad is the only other person I have shared bottles of wine with on a few occasions. I also fell in LOVE with the beautiful wind chimes my brother in law and sister in law purchased for me- though the sound makes me tear up!!  I have appreciated the cards, kind text messages, and messages in person- which brings me to my next thought.

So many people feel awkward saying anything after a death, like the elephant in the room- if you don’t mention it, it just doesn’t exist, right? Think Randy Pausch and The Last Lecture- his white elephant in the room was his cancer because no one wanted to talk about it, but you knew it was there. I have had a few fellow teachers that I really don’t talk to much stop and give me their condolences, but yet, they have done more than that. They’ve asked me a few questions and to my surprise, I appreciate that much more than a simple I’m sorry or how are you doing, because that makes me feel like there is a bit of genuine care or maybe curiosity, I’m not sure.  I think next to a simple I’m sorry, saying nothing at all makes it worse. You can’t change what has happened, and after my mom died, I didn’t want to talk about it, and so nothing was said. Looking back, that was a terrible way for me to cope, because I think I’ve spend the last year and 8 months on auto pilot shoving my feelings aside.  I have especially appreciated those that have visited, listened, and just been there…

So, why on Earth am I sharing this?? Honestly, I have no idea… all I can think of is I cannot continue to give the customary ok if you ask me how I am doing. So, if you don’t want to hear or listen, please stop asking. Okay is such an escape answer, but it is the easiest answer to give when you know people are too much in a hurry to really listen. Here’s what I could say, just depends on the moment: angry because my children now are down to one grandparent (that rarely sees or talks to them of her own choice), angry because I can’t call up my parents just to have them lend an ear or give advice, sad because well, the finality of it all just makes me incredibly sad- never seeing them again, hearing their voices, or them seeing my children grow up, guilty because there are SO many people worse off than me, my sister (the caretaker) has it so much harder than the rest of us since her whole world was turned upside down and here I am throwing up my feelings on a screen, numb- because at times I don’t even know what to feel.

I don’t know what the correct response is to say when someone has a family member or friend die. At best, I’d say, don’t ignore it, and more than an I’m sorry can go a LONG way and make all the difference.  And another thing- as time goes on, it doesn’t get better, life just goes on, but the roller coaster of emotions continues, so just keep an eye on those people affected and check in from time to time- it could make all the difference.  Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Past, Present, and Future Journeys

It has been some time since I last posted, and I cannot even come up with a good reason. I could say I have been busy, but busy is SUCH an overused word. I have found other things to occupy my time, so I have not made the time to sit still long enough to post. Just as I have not made the time this past year to continue in my yearly tradition of the birthday letters for the boys. Is it laziness? No…it’s life going all over the place and me trying to wrap my head around what I want to do.  I have spread myself unbelievably thin this past year, which may account for why what probably could have been a week or two illness lasted for six weeks. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I have been working like crazy. Why you wonder? Two reasons, and I have to be honest with myself, and I know some of my friends can relate. The first is, well, yes, my big guy did get his teaching license in February, but it was SLOW going to get a job (and it still isn’t full time), and he hadn’t worked since August, so I was trying to make up for some lost pay. The second reason, which I think is the main reason, but I was too stubborn to realize it, is that I was trying to live life so fast to not feel. Okay, that sounds weird. My friend, Mandy gets it. Ever since my mom died I feel like I have been on autopilot, planning every single minute of my life with something so I didn’t have a moment to just be, maybe for fear of breaking down, or maybe because I didn’t know what to do if I had a moment to just be. About a month ago, I finally realized it, and admitted it to Mandy, who I know is going through a similar situation now. I hope she reads this, knows I am thinking of her, and will take me up on the offer to run, work out, or grab tea once she moves closer to me, so she doesn’t become like me.  It is SO incredibly hard to break this routine, but I HAVE to break it for my own sanity.

So, past journeys need to stay in the past, but always remain memories for me to look back on, cherish, laugh, and even cry about at times. Present journeys need some modifications. Lately, I feel like the QUEEN of modification, well at least at the gym. I was thinking today as I took my God awful smelling Crossfit shoes and bag out of my car, holy crap, my 4 year crossfit-aversary was yesterday, and I have NEVER washed these shoes. That is SO gross. No wonder why Rey said my car smelled like stinky feet!  Ooops!  I also realized that my journey has changed so much and will continue to change, but I will always be glad for making the journey, for the amazing coaches, especially Brit and Rachel, that have pushed me, motivated me, and made me a different, stronger, more confident person than I have ever been in my entire life, and for all of the friends I have made along the way!  I may not be where I was a year ago, due to health issues and age, but I am still actively going to crossfit classes, and I have made some pretty awesome friends!  I continue to modify my workouts as needed, and may need to in the future, and I have learned to be okay with that. This journey is not about being first, it’s not about being the best, it really is a daily thing for me to just try to be a better person than I was yesterday. It does not always mean physically, but also mentally and socially. I think that crossfit has helped me to interact more with people- I am not completely antisocial anymore, but I also won’t win the award for social butterfly of the year!  I guess you could say I am modifying my social life, too!  🙂

So, what else needs modifying? My schedule. Starting in June I will be limiting my tutoring to two full days a week (last summer I did 3 nights a week), which seems like a lot, but I LOVE tutoring and have already committed to several families (for those of you that weren’t aware- I currently tutor 5 to 6 nights a week, and am tutoring 5 students on top of my full time teaching job). The future journey is a bit more of a change for me… I have decided, as I have told Rey, if he gets a full time teaching position, I will be cutting my tutoring down even more, to a few, if any families this next school year, as we have a few other journeys coming up that we are excited to start!  I do hope my current families will not be disappointed, but I am realizing my littles will not be little for too much longer, and I need to start enjoying my time with them, for we never know how long we will have with them.

There will be a few more changes in my future journeys that may shock, upset, or disappoint you, but I hope, if you love me, and are my friend or family member, you will understand these things and respect my decisions. I have already begun one of the major journeys, which as painful as it has been to do, it has been a HUGE stress relief for me- I have taken some toxic people out of my life. I don’t want or need drama, so I have had to say goodbye to some people, and can I say it is the most refreshing feeling ever, after the pain of losing them subsides, that is!

So, you’re all probably thinking, gosh, she is being cyptic as heck!  None of us knows what the future holds, and while we can plan, it doesn’t mean those plans will always happen.  Here’s what I can tell you- we are SUPER excited for Rey to get a full time teaching job this fall, Rey and I will be celebrating our 14th year of marriage in September, and while the journey has been a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs, we are currently enjoying the ups and hope it stays that way for a long time, the boys are happy, healthy, and growing physically, mentally, and socially stronger every day!  I will be embarking on some “health” journeys in the months to come, which will include physical therapy for the ankle I sprained last summer (as it aches SO much in cold weather and after I have jogged or walked a long time), as well as some allergy and more asthma testing to hopefully get my breathing back to normal!!  In the meantime, I will of course continue to jog/run with friends (because as two of them said to me, speed doesn’t matter, it’s about the friendship time- and one certainly proves it every single time she runs with me), go to yoga when I can, and do some sort of crossfit/ exercise as my lungs and body will allow me to.

I hope this post leaves you thinking about your journeys- past, present, and future, as well as the people you have allowed to embark on those journeys with you.  Some may not be with you, some may be leaving your journeys, and will that feel sad? Yes, yes it will, but be glad you had them on those journeys, for they must have held some purpose in your journeys and you should always be thankful for them and for those purposes!  I also hope this post makes you question- are you happy with your life?  If you aren’t- stop and think- is this the life you want to live? Is this the life God intended for you to live? If you cannot honestly answer yes to one or both of those questions, start evaluating your past, present, and future journeys, and DO something. The hardest step is the first one, but I can tell you from experience, the steps after will be SO worth it- so don’t take a baby step, take a leap  and go do something great, that will leave you smiling and make others wonder!!

 

**If those that say they love you don’t support your journeys for happiness, they may not be deserving enough to be included on those journeys. As painful as that may be, sometimes we have to let people go, if they cannot support your happiness. I am BEYOND thankful to have a wonderful person to always support me on my crazy journeys, and I am also EXCITED to have stood beside him on his educational journey, because it has paid off for all of us- he IS a much happier person than I have ever known before.  Have a wonderful night, and I hope to continue to update you on my future journeys!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

A month or so has passed since my last entry- sort of. I have made a few other entries, but not ones I want to share right now. Today’s entry is for my mom.  So… to my siblings and dad, if you are reading this and don’t want to cry- STOP reading this NOW!

Today would have been (or is) my mom’s 76th birthday.  I will never forget her last birthday, as long as I live. I remember going to the gym that morning last year thinking, what do you buy for a birthday present for someone who is terminally ill? What if that someone is your mother? How can you get a gift that shows your unconditional love to someone who won’t be there forever?  So, I decided to follow the advice of my coach ( I am not even sure she knew it), and opted for flowers. However, I had to add my own personal favorite- a balloon. I will never forget how I felt walking into and out of that Jewel that day. My mom LOVED carnations, but also LOVED the red roses I had bought her earlier last year for Mother’s Day. A very sweet young girl was helping me pick out flowers and a vase.  She asked what they were for, and I told her for my mom’s birthday and that I wanted a blue ribbon since blue is her favorite color. Since another customer came up, the girl started helping her and had an older lady finish up my order. As she was gluing the ribbon on, she was trying to make small talk. She asked me how old my mother was. When I told her, she said, “Oh, that’s young! She has several more years ahead of her!” I did all I could to not start crying there on the spot. She continued to try to talk to me about my mother, and I just became quiet.  Finally she when she was finished I felt like I ran out of the store and immediately tears started falling.  I was mad at the time, or so I thought. Looking back, I am certain I was just so upset that her words were so very wrong, and I knew it but she did not.

I remember when I gave my mom the flowers she smiled but said nothing. I remember thinking, does she like them or does she even know what they are for?  I remember talking to her about the stupidest things that day, because I knew then that was probably the last birthday I’d spend with her. What do you say to someone on their last birthday, especially when they know it?

Fast forward to today… as upsetting as it was to have that conversation with the florist at Jewel, and as awkward as it was to have those birthday conversations with my mom, I would do anything to have them again today and for years to come. It is often said that we don’t really realize how much someone means to us or how much we would miss them, until they are gone. Those words are the most honest words I have ever heard.  It’s been almost a year since I last saw my mom breathe, yet it still feels like yesterday, and it sounds weird, but I miss her more every day than the day before.

This morning when I woke up in her and my father’s house I immediately thought of her because today is her 76th birthday.  As I was showering, I thought of her again. I thought of how caring she really was but her hard demeanor did not always show it. The shower I was standing in… she had it remodeled two summers ago after dad had a hip replacement, knowing he would need a different shower to be able to get in and out of. I think to myself now, looking back, a part of me believes she knew back then that she was sick, and thinking back to our conversations, I should have realized it then. I was too busy being focused on dad, and I was just too focused other things in my life to take the time to notice. Thinking back now, I see how she often put others before her, yet I did not see it or appreciate it when she was hear, to tell her.

Today I have thought of her so much. Standing in her kitchen, washing her dishes, and laughing to myself because she would be yelling at me if she knew I never dried those dishes.  Laughing again when dad asked for a beer, and I look all over the fridge, and there on the door, is a bottle of beer my mom bought a couple of years ago (I know this because they have the Mexican flag colors on them and she gave Rey a few of them). I tell dad, and guess what? He’s drinking it right now, though he says it’s not very good. I can’t imagine 2 year old beer is good. Does beer have an expiration date??

So today, instead of spending the day with mom, I am here, in her house, spending it with dad. Though feeling sad, I am happy to cherish the memories, and look around her house and be constantly reminded of her.  I also look at my Wildman, and wish so badly she could be here to see how big he has gotten, how curious, loving, and compassionate he is with dad, and how dad is with him.  Somehow I think she may already know that, because maybe, just maybe, she is looking down upon us all and smiling.  Happy Birthday in heaven, Mom!  I miss you more than I ever thought possible, and so very much wish that you could be here today, even for an awkward conversation, to call me a mother fucker, or to just listen and watch us!

God’s Blessings in Disguise

Hello again, from story time! I’m running a little short on time, because I could not help but watch the Wildman enjoy the bubbles at the beginning of story time…

Today was a rather trying day, I woke up at 4 am from a terrible, ridiculous nightmare.  When I woke again at 5:15, I practically ran out the door to meet my dawn patrol running buddies at 5:30 for a morning run, only to be disappointed that they did not show up! So, what did I do? Checked Facebook to see if they were online. Nope, but there was a friend from high school that added me to her motivational Facebook group for people that love exercise and are AWESOME at supporting each other. So, the thoughts of going home, taking the contacts out of my eyes and catching a little more sleep quickly vanished, and I began my morning run- solo. What a wonderful blessing this high school friend is- she had no idea she was my reason for running this morning when everyone bailed on me!  As I was running I was tormented with recalling the nightmare dreams I had, but at the end of the run, I felt somewhat refreshed.  Then, as I was in my English class, spilling my hot tea all over my bag and the floor, a student immediately jumped up and offered to get me paper towels. Am I blessed to have an AMAZING group of students to start my day with? ABSOLUTELY!!  One student broke out in hives, and I took him to the office to see if the nurse was in. She wasn’t, so we had to call his mom. He was so upset that he had to go home and miss school because he had just missed yesterday. Again, am I blessed to have students that want to be at school and learn? Yep!  During my planning period I have one student that wants to talk to me every chance he can get- is it annoying? Nope, a blessing in disguise that a student actually wants to talk to me. During my transition period, a student begs to come sit in my room and take a test, promising to be quiet (ha- we end up chatting of course). She and a friend of hers seem to “fight” to take my morning dress pictures now. It’s kind of funny, and again, another little blessing- that kids like me, despite me pretending to be the ice princess/ tough teacher!  The next hour a student is upset that I took the dress picture without her, and there will be no selfie pictures today!  There’s always tomorrow I say.  Then I see a friend tags me in a post (on FB) to tutor a student… Blessing?  Yes, but not why you think- because I FINALLY said no very nicely of course. I have WAY too much on my plate to say yes to another tutoring job!! Then comes 5th hour- and I forget my blessings… a very difficult to work with student refuses to work, and I am at my wits end, and want to pull my hair out. Then I remember, my sitter sent me THE BEST picture today- Wild Man is literally pulling his hair on both sides- yep, that was exactly how I felt and it just made me laugh at lunch.  To think he had the exact same pose I was feeling and she captured it, only an hour or so earlier!  Fast forward to 7th hour- yep, the ZOO!!  Finally I had had enough talking, and yelled at them all, and I swear you could have heard a pin drop. Thank you God, for blessing me with a loud voice, and the audacity to use it as needed to my advantage! After school there were yet 2 more blessings… seeing my little man before tutoring… nope, it was seeing the excitement in his eyes, smile, and hearing it in his voice when he kept begging to go to story time with Mr. Al!  My other blessing was tutoring my student before story time. When I first started working with him, several months ago, I will never forget thinking, “Kristie, what did you get yourself into?” No when I tutor him, I see how far he has come- his attention span has grown from 2-3 minutes at a time to 7-10!!  Blessing?  Yes, yes, yes!! Another blessing- driving to story time I see a beautiful fall tree, almost the exact same color as the dress I wore today- I LOVE nature & the beauty of it!  Sitting here, enjoying 40 or so minutes of quiet time, while Wild Man is in story time- blessing for sure, since this doesn’t happen often!  Here’s the bottom line- instead of finding the negative in the day, try to seek the positive, or beauty.  Beautiful things will happen when you distance yourself from the negativity in life.  So, seek the beauty, and not the ugly in the world!! I could have dwelled on all of the negativity/ ugly in my day, but I chose beauty/positivity. Won’t you do the same?  Story time just ended- time to play with Wild Man before we go eat dinner!  **I will be taking a few weeks off since story time is on a hiatus for a few weeks. Until then, embrace the beauty in the world & your life!

Just Be!

Yep, I’m back again.  It’s Tuesday story time and time to write a little- but I have to move my spot because some women just don’t understand the concept of we are in a LIBRARY- that DOES mean be quiet and respectful. Ah…. all better.

Today I took a half day at work because I had to go to the dentist to get my “tongue situation” figured out. Just as I suspected- thrush.  Gotta love taking antibiotics and them making me sicker. Awesome… my body rejects them for a reason- they are invaders and don’t belong maybe. Ah oh well, hoping the new medicine kills the thrush and doesn’t decide to give me something else!

Anyways, since I had to take a half day, even though my appointment wasn’t until 2 p.m., I decided to straighten up the house and then go for a run. That run was AMAZINGLY refreshing. Why? I am not sure if it was the wind or the misting rain that kept falling or the fact that I for once felt kind of at peace running those 5 miles. I didn’t care if I was turtle slow, and I let my mind do something it rarely does- wander….  Actually at a couple of points I felt the urge to throw my hands up in the air, like I just didn’t care. :-). Yep, I am a dork.  Then a few times I am pretty sure if anyone saw me, I looked ridiculous, singing loudly and kind of dance running.  Hey, what can I say?  I was actually getting into the music!! At one point I looked across the street and a man was walking down the street. He pointed to his shoes and smiled, and I gave him a thumbs up. Not sure what he was doing, but at that moment in time, he was NOT fixated on any struggles that may have been going on in his life- he was enjoying that moment in time. He was living in the moment, being mindful of his surroundings and others.  So, I felt compelled to do the same thing today. On my last mile I walked home and discovered what looked like a crow (or some sort of black bird) flying high in the sky in circles, round and round.  I kept watching it, and for some reason my mother came into my mind immediately as I watched the bird fly in circles, yet still above me.  Twice I had a hard time breathing- I kid you not- I gasped for air. Maybe I was thinking too much and I should have just “been” in the moment instead of thinking so much about mom and wondering if that bird was my sign.  Regardless of what it was, it made me think- just be, for once in your life, just be.  Do something for you- let yourself go and BE in the moment, so I did, and I almost wonder if that is why I gasped for air twice? I forgot all of my struggles and about myself and the fact that I was so going to be late to the dentist, and just watched that bird flying high in the sky.  So today, I implore you to do the same- for your own sanity-take a few minutes to forget whatever ails you, whatever struggles you are facing, and just BE. Whether it be to just stare at the wall, stare at a sunset, stare at the moon, stare at a waterfall, or some other beauty in nature, you owe it to yourself to just BE, even if for only a few minutes. Those few minutes were the most relaxing, breathtaking (clearly), amazing moments of my day today, and I feel more relaxed and at peace for taking those few minutes to just be and forget about the struggles in life. **I need to tell you I started this blog post today having ZERO idea where it would go. I hope you like it, and well, if you don’t, stop following me!  🙂 Have a blessed day, and just BE for a few minutes every day and you will feel at peace.