The Sunset of a New Day

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It’s 5:15pm EST and I just stepped outside as the temperature drops as quickly as the sun in the sky. The colors are more breathtaking than my photography attempts here show but there’s no denying how the beauty of this view fills my soul with peace every time I see it; I rarely miss this opportunity. This sunset is important to me today.

Today I quietly shut another door to my past and this may sound trite to you, but it involved..furniture. That’s right, furniture, living room furniture to be precise. When we moved to this town last year as a family, the 3 of us had to leave the majority of our belongings, including furniture & beds due to the last minute discovery of black mold in our previous home. Saved a ton in packing & moving, but forced us to rent a living room set & a mattress for me. My husband & I were still together, supposedly starting over, re-committing to our marriage. One of the promises made to me was that Chris would stop sleeping on the couch as he’d been for well over a decade, a fight I gave up on long ago until our son realized it was strange that his Dad slept in the living room, not normal as he thought growing up. We left the king size bed and I ordered a Queen for this house, knowing I’d still be sleeping alone..& I did.

I paid off the bed but I was determined to not get stuck with a living room set that reminded me of my ex & was extremely uncomfortable to sit on as well..but honestly, I couldn’t stand the sight of that sofa & loveseat day after day.

The configuration of the sofa & loveseat in a fairly long room felt stifling to me & also cut off access to the dining area/kitchen. I truly wanted that furniture set gone but obviously it was far down the list of wants versus needs, like the winter clothes I was worrying about acquiring for my son, not to mention Christmas is now barreling towards us like a freight train.

I called the store last Monday to make my weekly payment. I was in a stupor of sickness, throat so sore I could barely talk when the manager told me of a deal I couldn’t pass up; get the L-shaped sectional that would allow both myself & my son to have our own space to fully stretch out our long legs comfortably AND an electric fireplace with shelving compartments for media as well as placing our TV on top..for less than what I was currently paying because both were used. Ooh, I’ve been dreaming about that fireplace forever it seems, a luxury I couldn’t afford ever..yet the minute the weather turned cold every year I was constantly looking at these fireplaces online, in stores & dreaming of how nice it would be to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of coffee and just enjoy myself..by myself.

I quickly ran the calculations in my head & said I’d take the deal, setting the delivery date for today. I hung up the phone & thought, this will be something to look forward to after Thanksgiving! Then promptly forgot all about it until I looked at my calendar last night.

Thanksgiving this year was the happiest I’ve had in a very long time, because the happiness came from within. I had a terrible cold, my son was convinced we weren’t going to make the trip back to our hometown because of it, which only made me that much more determined to get us there regardless of how awful I felt as long as it was safe for me to drive. It was the best feeling in the world to see the smile on his face get bigger the closer we got to his Grandparents’ house a day late but Thanksgiving morning nonetheless!

The two of us were like sponges, soaking up all the love from our family crammed around a table overflowing with food. I think I ate more on Thanksgiving day than I’ve eaten in months..I finally had an appetite. The time passed too quickly as usual, but seeing the fun all the cousins were having was like a salve to a burn..Noah needed this time with his family as much as I did. Spending time catching up with my “baby” sister, my Dad who’s been in poor health, his wife Elaine who’s always loved all of us as if we were her own daughters & we are. Noah & I left renewed, anxious to return to visit soon.

The time I got to spend with my son cemented our bond on another level after getting through the prior week of sheer hell. I was grateful to have him an extra night & once he left on Sunday to see his Dad, I just tuned out most of the world. I had a lot of time to think, reflect, remember. I didn’t shed a single tear as I began bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic myself, along with fixing a broken toilet & figuring out, all by myself like a big girl, how to change the battery in the smoke alarm in my bedroom placed in the highest possible point of the vaulted ceiling. I can fix almost anything in my house so far & love my hammer!

I placed electric candles in every window, it looks so pretty. I have boxes everywhere, taking my time because I realized this is My First Christmas, decorating my house the way I want to.

Today, watching that blasted living room set go out the front door, I felt..free. Happy. Excited!! I was so excited by the immediate difference of the feeling of the entire house..lighter, different, the ghosts of Christmases passed silent, gone. No anger, no..nothing. Nothing but a big smile on my face as the tables & lamps a neighbor that moved months ago gave to me, matched the color of the wood of the fireplace. All used but brand new in my eyes, such a gift!

The process took half an hour & I cleaned every inch of the living room, fireplace blazing, waiting anxiously for Noah to come home to a new room. I had brownies baking in the oven, Noah walks in and his smile was as big as mine, from the inside out. Now, this feels like our Home. We’ve been enjoying the fire, the extremely comfortable sofa, and the feeling of lightness in our hearts as beautiful as the sunset captured above. I hope you find a moment of peaceful beauty in your heart tonight as well.

Peace,
~Jennifer~

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Thankful To Be Thankful!

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I haven’t had the strength to write a new post lately, and I’m sick as a dog writing this now, but I’m AWAKE, ALIVE to write it, regardless of having the exact same virus I just had a few weeks ago! That time the virus landed me in the hospital, by myself in this town that literally became my Home just last week. I have so much to be thankful for, the enormity of the richness I have in my life struck last night, and all I could do was look up at the stars & whisper, “Thank You God, for seeing me through”. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through all the incredible hits that seemed endless last week but I held onto my Faith that everything that happened was to teach me a lesson; to remind me of what is important & what’s not; to show me that as long as I continue to live my truth by Faith, I will survive each hit AND come out the other side even stronger yet.

That’s exactly what happened. I’m used to helping others in need. I am not comfortable accepting help for myself because I’ve had to rely on myself just to survive since I was a little girl. Last weekend was the beginning of a nightmare that touched every possible area of my life, set off an avalanche of epic proportions I’d never battled before, & I’ve batted.. and won..so many various wars of Life thus far, I thought myself more than capable of handling anything coming my way.

I was wrong. I was so wrong, I posted something on my Facebook I’ve never posted publicly before: I’m in trouble, my son is in trouble and we need help. I’ve never admitted publicly my fears, my need for prayers because that would show my vulnerability. I’m strong, not vulnerable! Well, my super power cape had been torn off my shoulders leaving me completely exposed. I was shaken to my core on Monday and again, had no idea all that was awaiting to attack me the rest of the week. I received 5 phone calls on Monday from my circle of friends. The amount of people that responded to my request, writing beautiful, uplifting, supportive words of comfort, astounded me.

Every dawn brought another test to add to my overburdened, heavy soul yet was countered by an immediate & unexpected blessing. I received the help I needed to resolve the original problem, but at great personal cost to me..the loss of the presence of a friend I adored & that didn’t become clear to me until the smoke cleared this past weekend. I’ll learn from that loss. I’ve been having car troubles & worrying every morning it wouldn’t start. It finally broke down completely last week, & I’m dedicating an entire blog entry to that experience alone…it was that powerful, that life-affirming. My car runs & the heat even works!

The weather is cold, and i was worried about finding a way to pay for a winter coat, boots & clothes for my son..his needs come before mine always, I can wear a sweatshirt as long as he’s warm. My doorbell rings the next afternoon, a dear friend and her daughter with bags overflowing with coats for Noah as well as for me; boots & sneakers for my teen that is growing so fast I can’t keep up with his sizes! A miracle. I was helped by friends, family & total strangers that treated me like family. I was held as I cried tears that wouldn’t stop falling no matter how hard I fought to keep them in. The loving arms of my girlfriend who has lived through my journey of divorce with children, no words spoken, no need. Every test, I passed. Every trial, I survived. But I didn’t do it alone and now know the beauty of receiving help..it’s so humbling, so powerful, inspires me to pay it forward on a broader scale. Not quite yet, though; now it is time to pause. Reflect on every moment since last Thanksgiving, Chris & I already knowing our marriage was over but decided to remain a family for one last holiday season for our son. How I’m sometimes unrecognizable to myself in the mirror, I’ve grown, changed that much in a very short period of time. I still am and always will be, for one can only grow by risk, mistakes & change, not stagnation or settling. I am deeply thankful and wish you & your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! Think about all you have to be thankful for and be grateful you are here to be thankful.. that’s the biggest Blessing of all. With love & gratitude, ~Jennifer~

Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again..And Again..And Again

It’s Sunday night, almost 11:30pm EST. Usually I’m in bed by now but instead I just returned from a power walk in the quiet darkness of my neighborhood, the darkness, sorrow and pain I’m trying to quiet by sheer will power alone. It’s not working. I tried putting my Beats headphones on & listening to U2’s “End of the World”, “Bad” and “Trip Through Your Wire” as loud as the volume would go, hoping to drown out the confusion in my head from mixed messages, sadness & disappointment. That didn’t work either.

I can do this because my son is at his Dads since yesterday, the weekly shuffling back & forth between two parents that my son is handling with grace, strength & dignity well beyond his 13 years of age..on the outside. A Mom knows instinctively when her child is hurting for any reason on the inside, & last week we had an excruciatingly painful week of grief, talking and acknowledging our unease & uncertainty the coming holiday season will bring. How do we split up Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day with one child & 2 parental households? How do we not only maintain the healing & peace we’ve attained thus far through literal blood, sweat & tears..how do we push through without backsliding? How do we make it still feel like Thanksgiving & Christmas when our family is broken forever? I still don’t have answers to these questions, don’t know how to ease his pain, his mental & physical exhaustion weekly, how to not feel like I’m being split into shards of glass every time I kiss him goodbye for his time with his Dad? I try to keep myself busy during this “me” time, taking care of myself, reading or getting together with a friend. But lately, with emotions running high, the time lost when I was so sick, the never-ending chores, bills, family issues & friends in distress, I found myself getting let down again. I’m tired of that.

One thing I have been doing a lot lately while Noah’s not here is cry. I cry with pain coming from my soul. I remember how I felt as a younger child when my own parents divorced & it’s impossible to separate that pain from my present pain. I’m not crying for myself. I’m crying for my son, for the feelings he’s keeping inside with a brave face although I see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice, feel it emanating from his being. There is nothing that will buckle my knees in grief at this level than knowing my son is suffering. I have yet to share the trauma of my pregnancy, how I fought to bring him into this world, how I made a choice for his life to be saved at any cost, including my own life. I knew instinctively this child was my only chance to be a Mother; I’d already lost pregnancies before him & the final one after his miraculous birth. I know my son.. anything he feels, I feel.

Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, had a great fall, who will put Humpty Dumpty back together again? Who is Humpty Dumpty? Anyone who knows loss, grief, death, divorce, battling chronic health issues, survived natural disasters & financial difficulties. We are all Humpty Dumpty. Nobody can put us back together again except ourselves..by God’s grace. This incredible gift of having a true relationship with God isn’t organized religion, like belonging to a Catholic church, Baptist Church, synagogue, any religion. This is about your own acceptance of God into your heart, body, mind & soul. A relationship that exceeds all earthly relationships. He is the One that has never let me down, hurt me, broke my heart or made me sick.
Humans have.

I’ve always known my greatest strength is also my biggest burden: my capacity to love. I am one who loves deeply, feels exactly what someone is feeling even if they live hundreds of miles away. I have a level of instant intuition that astounds me still, & I’ve learned to turn that into a gift by helping others. I use that gift in conjunction with my faith that no matter what, I act immediately when I feel something because I know I’m receiving a message. If I don’t listen to that message, I may miss an opportunity I’ll never get again. Life is too short to live in fear, to worry what “they” think about you, to not take that chance of opening your heart to let someone in. We are never guaranteed another day so it’s vital to not close yourself off from the world out of fear of being misunderstood, judged or hurt. We must first look within and love ourselves fully as God loves us before we’re truly able to serve others with love. The Bible says “do unto others as they would do unto you”; in other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

I have Faith that is unshakable. I know with certainty every painful event in my life is a lesson learned. I am strong, so strong in my Faith & loving others. I’m also human. A woman who needs to feel loved, cared for as all of us do. I may be strong, but I also need to be hugged, held, comforted, appreciated. The tears wiped off my cheek..the hand held..the doorbell or telephone ringing. Love isn’t a one-way street. It’s sharing, caring, listening. It’s compromise, sacrifice at times. I’ve done all of that again & again, only to have my love rejected, taken for granted, expected to always be there & for a long time it was.

Not anymore. Not at the expense of me, my peace, my joy of being granted the gift of another day to live and walk in Love.
So my heart is hurting again right now & not solely from my current journey with Noah. It is what it is. That’s life…yet I won’t close my wounded heart. It’s wide open & always will be. I know of no other way to live because that is who I am. I will never give up no matter how much I’m hurting or what is hurting me. I’ve come too far, worked too hard to give up. I won’t.

Today I am Humpty Dumpty. And I’ll keep putting myself back together again as I always have..with Love, Hope and Faith. I’ll never stop loving. It’s who I am.

Peace
~Jennifer~

Emotions In Motion

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It’s a common “fact” in society: women are such emotional creatures! We aren’t doctors, lawyers, engineers, any job description because we live our lives by emotion enhanced by the dreaded force of the female anatomy called hormones. Everybody agrees, men & women alike: men joke & complain about their wives to each other that they dread going home because “it’s that time of the month”, nudge nudge, wink wink, as if they have any idea what that experience is actually like, month after month until the next phase of life called peri-menopause and menopause hits, or as in my case, a hysterectomy in my mid 30’s. There are different types of hysterectomies however, & I was fortunate to keep my ovaries.  Women even use their hormones as a reason for everything..as I said, it is a common “fact”, right”?

Wrong. All humans are emotional, both male & female. Society for a long time conditioned the male to the strong, silent, no tears permitted or the showing of emotion, whereas it’s expected that females cry at the drop of a hat or fly off the handle in a fit of rage. Thankfully, times have changed and parents like myself are teaching their children that feeling all of your emotions is not only normal, it’s healthy,  and showing those emotions, especially tears, is not only acceptable it should in fact be encouraged, especially when raising sons.

My son, Noah, cannot stand to see me cry for any reason. He knows me so well, if something on tv is sentimental, he immediately looks at me & groans, “Oh, there she goes again!” and I then start giggling as I wipe my eyes. He is my only child, my living miracle and we are making our way together through the end of my marriage to his father, a new school year, his official entry into the world of being a teenager, puberty & the many changes we’ve been through since his father moved out. It has not been easy, it’s been hell. Challenge after challenge, constant change instead of a familiar, reassuring schedule, fear, uncertainty, anger…and the shedding of many, many tears by us both.

My marriage had been over for years but actually taking the steps to officially break up your family is not something on the top of your To-Do list, especially when you are the one who has made the decision to end the marriage; you are the one lying wide awake all night, wondering how you’re going to get your child through this process intact, how you’re going to have to dig deeper within yourself for strength you never knew existed for the sake of your child. You are the one that tells your husband of 17 years, it’s time to end this. There are millions of reasons why so many marriages fail & for this post it’s not necessary to go down that road. Separation & divorce are very emotional events that don’t resolve themselves in a week; it is a journey and the journey is a roller-coaster of emotions.

I met my husband almost 21 years ago, both of us in our mid 20’s. I was the epitome of the traditional “emotional” female because I did not know myself well enough yet, had not matured enough yet, to understand that I could actually choose to NOT live by emotion. It is not an easy adaptation because as humans, there is an emotional action to every emotional reaction..we are all emotional creatures whether we want to admit it or not. It is scientifically proven that a newborn infant thrives from being held, a brand new human being totally dependent on its caregiver to provide the single emotion that binds us all..Love. When the newborn is deprived of love, they do not thrive. I find this to be true for all humans in my personal journey thus far of my life, from every person I’ve ever met. We are born to love, to touch, hug, give & receive affection, feel happiness, joy, sadness, anger, despair. We are wired to be emotional and when our emotional needs aren’t met, we start to slowly die from the inside out; it actually affects our physical health as well as our mental & spiritual health. Children not only need to be told they are loved, they need to feel they are loved by both physical affection of hugs & kisses to seeing their parents & family members express their love for one another in the same fashion. We are the examples of life, of love, of relationships to our children by what we show them in our daily living in our homes. Children are like sponges, soaking up every word, said & unsaid, every facial expression, body language, the atmosphere within the home. If our children do not witness a positive, healthy demonstrative environment of love, they will not know how to reach their full potential of giving & receiving love in their future relationships, whether in friendships or dating. The experiences of our childhood are the foundation in which all of our future actions are based, mostly subconsciously. It is imperative that what you present to the world is exactly what you live behind closed doors in your home.

It took me a long time to realize I did have a choice in how I wanted to really live my life. I wanted to stop living by emotion yet fully feel every emotion. I accomplished this by making a conscious choice to give myself a new “me”, and my faith as a Christian was & still is my saving grace to not have my entire life ruled by emotion. I can have a day where everything is going wrong: the alarm clock didn’t go off, car won’t start, forgot to put the garbage out..and instead of getting agitated and angry, I take a deep breath, look up to the sky, and let it go.There is not a single day that passes that I don’t laugh or smile at least one time no matter how I’m feeling; that’s just how I am. I can have a day where I am completely, entirely “emotional”, where out of the blue, a memory, a song, a smell, hits me like a freight train to the solar plexus, and I can do absolutely nothing BUT cry. It’s actually healing, cleansing to cry all of the toxic emotions you’ve been holding in for whatever reason.

I have achieved a level of inner peace, contentment & joy that I never thought possible; of pure happiness, hope, excitement every single day. It is truly an incredible way to live! Unfortunately, since I am human, and based on my life experiences & personality, feel things on a deeply personal level. Having this awareness of myself has brought great clarity in dealing with others, because how I feel listening to a particular song may not touch you on the same level; everyone is wired uniquely within themselves on how they feel, act & treat people. Feelings are very personal; nobody else can have your feelings for you & nobody else’s reasoning can make your feelings unreal for you. Feelings have a mind all their own; they can be pushed down or bottled up, but not turned off; at some point, those feeling will indeed emerge, and I’ve found that the best way to handle this is to strive to maintain my personal peace. If my peace begins to feel ragged, I know the choices I’m making are wrong & that I must take action immediately to rid my life of the person or situation that is stealing my peace. Feelings & emotions don’t come packaged in labeled boxes, they intertwine, shift, grow & recede, sometimes all at once.

These past few days I’ve run the gamut from experiencing complete & utter beauty that fully touched every inch of my soul, only to be replaced by sadness, loneliness, remembering the trauma & recovery of my own full stroke from my recent prayer request for my friends’ Dad, missing Noah, thinking about the upcoming holidays, our first where the time has to be divided, which I dread completely and although I did not WANT to cry, tried so hard NOT to cry, I HAD to cry. I made it through most of the weekend without crying & actually had a great weekend..there’s that faith & inner peace coming into play, that choice not to live by emotion. I was determined to fully enjoy my time this past weekend and I did…until Sunday night.

I couldn’t sleep because I was in both physical & emotional pain; remember, our minds & emotions are connected to our bodies and one affects the other & the effects of my recent hospitalization still haven’t completely healed. I was tired from a busy weekend, but once the lights are turned off for sleep, everything that I was holding in had me in turmoil the entire night. I couldn’t even write, that’s how upset I was, & I didn’t yet know what the next day had in store for me. I gave up on sleep, and went about my Monday as usual but I knew that if just one more thing occurred, if I started crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop..and that is exactly what happened.

I made it through the appointed meeting that was the final straw for me intact on the outside, wrecked on the inside. I got in my car & cried the entire way home. I walked around my house, cleaning, doing dishes, laundry, taking a shower, crying the entire time. I went to bed, said my prayers and cried some more. I was alone; I didn’t have to worry that Noah would see me crying this hard, and I used the opportunity to cry it all out. Finally, I slept. I have my peace back wholly intact. I feel a bit bruised, raw, vulnerable, yet I feel better. My faith never wavers because God has never, ever let me down and I know He never will. I may feel lonely at times but I am never truly alone because God is always with me as He is with all of you. The miracles, the blessings, the sheer beauty of events have been increasingly abundant every day that passes. This motivates me to continue living my truth. We all have Emotions in Motion..when you allow yourself to really feel them all, it’s actually a humbling reminder of how precious every second is in our lives. It is even better when you share them, and I thank you for letting me share mine with you.

Peace,
~Jennifer~

Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

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I am all of these things and so much more. How do you define yourself, restrict yourself, hold yourself back? Day after day, month after month..until one day you wake up and ask yourself..why am I so unhappy, so unfulfilled, so restless? Why do I have this spot of emptiness inside me that nothing seems to fill? Everyone has their own crosses to bear; this is called Life. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. It’s what we do with those mistakes, those crosses, that either keeps us prisoners of our own making or sets us completely, entirely FREE! Free to be who you are, accept and love who you are from the inside out that shines your personal light upon the world. Let it all go. Don’t live in fear of being hurt, rejected, ridiculed based on another’s perspective of you. That isn’t living, it’s existing and you’re missing so many opportunities to increase your joy! Surround yourself with positivity and love, let all the good into your life and your heart…that is what I call Living. I am the Phoenix rising in beauty from ashes. You can be as well. Peace ~Jennifer~