Connecting

I guess I’m on the four posts a year trend…if that. That means I only have three more to go though.

Just wanted to share something that brought me great peace. Trust me, I’m not going to get all preachy, but I am a minister so it is allowed.

See. Here’s proof.

I’ve been pretty open about coping with the death of my grandmother. The holidays were very difficult and her absence left me feeling like I simply went through the motions, but didn’t even come close to enjoying them.

On New Year’s Eve, I had the honor of officiating my first marriage, and it just happened to involve two of the most wonderful people I know. Grandma had been an officiant since 1992. Her very first event at the Tea Room was a wedding. I wanted to get ordained in an attempt at keeping her alive. I thought it would keep her close to me and would bring her to others as well. I re-worked her ceremony only slightly, adding my own vows and making it personal to the couple. Her words are full of soul and spirituality. Her words have power. They make sense. The universe, the energy, the elements…God. It is beautiful.

On Christmas Eve I went to the cemetery. I know that she isn’t really there, and I do talk to her all the time, but I needed to be next to her, to have it tangible. I asked her to help me. I told her I wanted to make her proud.

Just before the ceremony, I felt a complete sense of calm. I stood looking at two of my friends who have a deep, real love and I could feel every single word that I spoke. The meaning, the importance of what I was doing and the love that the two of them felt carried me through in what felt like a dream.

As I was congratulating the couple after the ceremony, the groom said that my grandma was there the whole time. I thought he was referring to her energy, and I agreed that I knew she was there. He said no, that she was literally there. When I started talking about the element – air, during the ceremony, he said a gust of wind blew around us and he knew it was her.

I have been given a gift. I have the chance to keep the connection alive. I feel such a sense of peace knowing that energy can never be destroyed, it simply manifests itself in different ways. Her energy is profound.

My resolution is to be more aware of the energy around me, and to let it comfort me and bring me peace.

Happy New Year.

Diabetic, running (somewhat), college-student mama

Pretty sad when the most recent pictures posted to the right are from a YEAR ago… alas, this blog is a little dusty but cobwebs do go well with the season of the witch.

My littles are not so little anymore. One has a freaking mowhawk and the other is a sixteen year old bucket of sass mercilessly trapped in a four year old’s tiny body. Not going to say where did the time go, but I will anyway.

The diabetes kicked my ass around for more than a few months, but I am battling back with the absolutely awesome Dexcom and a pump respite. I’m back on MDI (multiple daily injections) because I’m listening to Dr. Bernstein and his “Diabetes Solution” and eating primal (no grains/gluten/legumes or fruit (unless I’m low)…basically no carbs, which is doing wonders for my sugar). And I am not missing that thing being attached to my body 24 hours a day at all. The scar tissue from my infusion sites was wreaking havoc on my sugars and I was having occlusions left and right. Now that my Lantus dose is figured out, my numbers have been so much better. Ahhh.

The strangest thing. I haven’t eaten any grains, sweets, bread, etc. since the middle of August and I do not crave or miss them. Not. One. Bit. Honest. If I could only give up the wine, things would probably be even better, but while my house includes two really loud, rather small and whiny people it is a necessary evil. Absolutely necessary.

On to the running. I actually have been very active since going primal. It’s like meat gives me a ridiculous amount of energy. One of my close friends is getting married on New Year’s Eve so as running partners, we do have some motivation, and it feels so good to be back on a running schedule. I have even been tossing around the idea of doing the Cleveland Marathon in May (I really hope my dad doesn’t read this because I kind of promised him I would never run a full marathon again after my Chicago experience). Oh well, promises are made to be broken…right?

After losing my grandma, I went through a really dark period emotionally. I probably should have sought out some professional help, but my schedule is pretty full of doctor appointments as it is and I really couldn’t bear adding another one (not to mention the cost). I have been channelling her energy though, and it’s led me in some new directions.

I am an ordained minister now (the online variety) and I have reworked grandma’s marriage ceremony. I’m actually performing the ceremony for the friend I mentioned earlier. It helps me to feel like my grandma is living on.

And the college-student part…well I start at Tri-C in January to finish up my two pre-req classes before I can hopefully be accepted into the CSU accelerated-track BSN program next January. I know it will be 15 months of hell, but it is only 15 months and I am good at endurance.

Not gonna lie, it’s going to be very difficult on Sunday night when I look at my dining room table with my family gathered around and there is a chair missing where grandma would have sat celebrating her favorite holiday, but every single day I think of her and I pull from her strength and love. She will be there, just like last year, knitting in her chair by the door, wrapped in her blanket, smiling ear to ear at all the trick-or-treaters…we just won’t be able to see her as clearly. She passed away before being able to sew a costume that Kade requested, but with a little magic my mom managed to get the costume made, so Kade will quite literally be wrapped in her love this Halloween. Willy Wonka never looked so good.

Celebrate the magik! Happy Halloween everyone.

Poignant

Kyle and I have spent the last three months watching Six Feet Under (HBO’s series that ran from 2001-2005). Okay, we may have been late to the party, but hey, at least we showed up.

We finished it last week and the final few episodes were almost too much to bear, especially given the circumstances we are dealing with right now. I found myself cursing our friend (sorry, Matt) for introducing us to the show. I had become so emotionally invested in this fictitious world that was so visceral and real to me, and it was crossing over and entangling itself with my actual life and experiences. It changed me, my outlook, my view of death. It moved me.

The portrayal of death and grief resonated with me. As did the portrayal of life.

I am already grieving someone who I haven’t even lost. I am already preparing for the heart-wrenching grip that death mercilessly exerts. I am already drowning in my tears.

I am struggling trying to make sense out of the senseless, searching for reason in the unreasonable, fighting to avoid the unavoidable. Even with my family and friends surrounding me, I feel so alone.

In the final commentary, the show’s creator, Alan Ball, says that “grief is a process that the only way out of it is through it.” How true. Grief allows us to emerge. Grief allows us to live on. Grief is our reminder that we are still here. That we are still alive.

The song in the final scene of the show sent me immediately to iTunes and was put on repeat as I sobbed making lunch the next day. It is the summation of grief for me. The painful, cold solitude that leaves you so desperate for comfort, for warmth and reminds you that this pain is life. The arms of a loved one may not be able to take the hurt away, but they give you reason to emerge from the grief and remind you what there is to live for.

So, without further ado, I give you “Breathe Me” by Sia. You may want to grab some tissues first. Seriously.

Truly Thankful.

I’m thankful for at least one more holiday…one more Thanksgiving…one more Christmas…one more season wrapped in the warmth of my family. I am thankful for time, however short it may be.

My grandma is dying of liver cancer.

Dying.

And until recently, I have resisted the reality of it with every part of my being. The thought of losing her chokes the air out of my lungs. I can feel it close around my heart and tighten its grip. It is painful…real. The anger I felt when we first found out would burn my tears before they could even roll down my cheeks, but now they flow freely. They stop me at moments during my day and I am overcome with grief so profound it makes me weak.

I could curse cancer. I could scream. I could ask why. But none of that changes anything. Nothing can stop the conclusion of life. Death waits for all of us.

I am hopeful that she will not suffer. I am hopeful that she will die with the dignity of knowing who she is and who we are and just how much she is loved before her Alzheimer’s has the opportunity to take that all away. I am hopeful that she will live on in every person she has touched. That life doesn’t end at death. That she will always be with me just like she promised.

The chemo has taken her hair, it has made her weak, and it has further deteriorated her already slipping memory, but for now it is keeping her alive. It’s our only hope. The liver cancer is aggressive. There is no cure. They are treating her to relieve her pain and to slow the growth and to keep her here a little longer.

I am grateful that I get to tell her just how much she means to me. That I get the chance to let her know how she shaped my life and how lucky I am to have been loved by her. I am thankful that my children will have known her and that someday they will realize that the path I set for them was paved early on by her.

Grandma,

Every part of who I am can be found somewhere within you.

You introduced me to Hans Christian Andersen, Beethoven and Poe. You opened the doors of museums to me. You gave me the stories and traditions of your Danish and German born parents. You taught me about manners, etiquette and the art of being a woman all while laying the foundation of feminism that has guided me through life. You told me that I could do and become anything I wanted. You taught me how to cook, and more importantly…how to entertain.  You revealed the secrets of marriage through the relationship you have with Grandpa. You exposed me to the wonders of spirituality and opened my eyes and mind to Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism and the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. You know that there is so much more to our universe than what we can see with our eyes.

You always made certain that I knew just how much I was loved.

Every moment I have been given with you has been a gift.

I love you.

Erika

The shoe still fits.

I ran today.

It’s been almost three months, but I managed to not sleep through the alarm, fit my much-larger-than-three-months-ago ass into my running tights, and breathe heavily and laboriously through 30 straight minutes. I would mark this one in the huge accomplishment category, especially since I was thinking that my running shoes would be collecting dust forever.

Nothing like the light of a full moon and the company of a good friend to get you moving in the right direction. (The promise of shedding a few pounds is also a good motivator…not gonna lie.)

Looking forward to adding miles, breathing easier and going faster, but still proud that I woke up and actually did it. Why is just getting out there the hardest part?

Halloween Weekend…let the festivities begin!

It’s blog or die here. Honestly, if I can’t get into the habit of writing consistently, then this thing is going to disappear. I appreciate all of the support from friends and family to write, so here it is…

Anyone who knows us probably knows that Halloween is huge around here. It’s even bigger than Christmas. We’ve made a haunted gingerbread house, painted pumpkins, built a graveyard, decorated every inch of our home with spider-webs and other creepy crawlies, visited the pumpkin patch, braved the haunted hayride, baked, drawn, and counted down the days. Kade waits for this all year. It is his holiday, and he makes the most of every moment.

Liv loves it too, but the sickness that has plagued our house for over two weeks has deflated her Halloween balloon. She has had to miss out on our usual Halloween-week nightly events and she won’t be at her preschool party today, so she’s not feeling the love. I’m sensing that things should turn around when we head to Kade’s party this afternoon…fingers crossed.

Here we are at the quintessential harvest happening…Patterson’s Fruit Farm. Place just oozes Fall. Love it.

I was so excited to see what my M.F.A bound son would paint…ended up with four dots and a heart. Kid is an enigma.

Guess who took the next two photos? I never claimed to be a photographer, but what the hell is coating my lens.

Not sure if I would eat these. The kids pretty much did it all by themselves from start to finish, which included lots of finger licking, sneezing and coughing. Yum.

Liv was the most adorable Dorothy (her current favorite movie) at our first candy-crawl on Sunday, but her ruby slippers gave her some nasty blisters and she refuses to put the costume back on. The “price of fashion” lesson learned at age 3. Sigh.

Kade’s vampire costume made a reappearance (kid has about 6 or 7 costumes to choose from). The classics are always in style. Today he’ll be donning the skeleton. Tomorrow…who knows.

Halloween Weekend has officially started… Tonight, we attack the pumpkins. Tomorrow, we head to class at the art museum, a Halloween birthday party and trick or treat at night. Happy Haunting!

Life.

I can’t believe that I’m blogging. It’s been awhile, but Liv came home sick from school and is sporting a fever so my original plan of heading to the store to get supplies for homemade chili has turned into an afternoon home at the computer.

Things have become overwhelming around here. There’s drama and I really hate drama. There’s life-changing, heart-wrenching family illness and I am not coming to terms with it very well. There’s no time to just be and it’s hard…

I spent yesterday afternoon talking to some first year medical students about living with diabetes, and it inspired me to add even more craziness to the mix. I’m thinking of going back to school with the long-term goal of becoming a diabetes educator. In fact, I’m not just thinking about it…I’m going to do it. Now to only figure out how.

I was also inspired to blog again because I kept telling them how much blogs have helped me in learning about diabetes, managing it, coping with it…yet, I have let my blog go by the wayside. Things have just been so emotional around here lately that I’ve written probably 10 drafts in the last two months and never hit publish. I have so much to say and no idea how to say it.

And running…I am so ashamed of what’s happened with running. I haven’t raced in a year…a freaking year! I haven’t even run in two months. The cold is approaching, so I don’t anticipate that my motivation level will be increasing any time soon, but I trust that the desire will come back at some point (as my pants get tighter, the push becomes greater).

Life just seems to constantly get in the way…

Can we still call her “Baby Girl”?

Liv Ellen is 3 years old.

Her birthday last Saturday came during a time of difficulty for our family, which is further proof that she is in our lives for a reason. In the midst of even the worst of times, Liv brings us pure, simple happiness and love (I’m not in the running for Mayor McCheese…just telling you the absolute truth here). My pregnancy and her birth came during one of the most trying, stressful, emotional and frightening periods of our lives. She was a beacon of hope and gave us all a purpose and renewed strength in the future. I find that I turn to her for comfort on a daily basis. I can quietly cry into her hair as she snuggles into my lap and softly pats my back with her tiny hands. She may not understand the heavy weight of my heart in these moments, but her old soul can deftly lift it away. She has a gift and it affects every person lucky enough to know her.

Her pensive manner, her gentle nature, her infectious laughter, her insightful words…all make it hard to grasp that she is only three. She possesses a soul much older than my own. In the ups and downs of daily life, she manages to stay even-keeled. The girl has her moments, trust me, but the balance she provides our household is undeniable.

She is starting preschool in another week and will widen her already extensive circle of friends. She rocks out to Peter Bjorn and Passion Pit. She insists on picking out her own clothing. She spontaneously starts dancing, any time, any place, no music necessary.  She is her own little person and has self-assurance that I will admit being jealous of.

Liv,

Thank you for smiling every day. You have taught me what it means to live in the moment, which is something that I rarely do. You have a secret language with your brother communicated through various levels of giggling. You are compassionate, sensitive and a gift that I can’t believe I’ve been given. When I held you close and told you that I can’t believe you are turning three, you looked up at me and said “Why, Mom? Are you afraid of me being two?” No, Liv…I am not afraid of you being two, or three, or even seventeen (okay…I am a little bit afraid of that). I just hate how time has a way of speeding through all the good stuff.

I love you,

Mama

Where’s a DeLorean when you need one?

Life smacked me in the face…literally.

I lost the month of August. It disappeared. I’d do anything to have it back, but I don’t want to re-live it so it can stay lost and I’ll happily move on. Bye-bye, August…hello, September.

I need to post about my baby girl’s 3rd birthday, but first I must relay today’s events, which are equal in child-milestone-magnitude.

Kade started Kindergarten today. Kinder-freaking-garten.

Where did the last 5 years go? It’s not like I didn’t know this day was coming, and he is more than ready for it, but the reality that my child is in school hit me with such tremendous force that I could barely hang on. I have spent five years getting him ready for this day, this step into the real world. Every moment of his life has been my responsibility. Did I read enough books, take him on enough adventures, expose him to enough culture, sing enough songs, show enough compassion, spend enough time…? Did I do my job?

This morning, I dropped him off with a wall of tears blinding my vision (thankfully, Kyle was driving) and a pit in my stomach. I can’t believe that I sent him on his own into a building full of 300 little people with no idea what the day would bring, and no control over what would happen. Even more surprising is that seven hours later a confident, smiling full-blown Kindergartener got in my car and gave me the best performance review of my life…

“I loved it, Mom. It was a great day.”

I think I deserve a raise.


Tellum Envy

Have I really been sporting a “reverse mullet” for over a year? Have I walked the streets of Cleveland with people looking at me thinking, “that girl has a Kate Gosselin hair-do”? Do I want to run to the salon screaming “help”? Apparently, it’s a big, fat YES to all three.

And I had no idea. None.

Complete. Blissful. Ignorance.

Until now…

Party in the front.

Business in the back. Thankfully, my stylist actually knows how to cut.

No flippin way. I can’t believe it. I refuse to accept it. I didn’t even know about Kate or her hairstyle until national news decided that this woman’s private business was more important than President Obama’s healthcare plan.

I’m so not Kate Gosselin.

I’m Rihanna.

Ahh…now I feel better.