My Nonnos Hat

20190323_130800_HDRThis was a few days ago because I get immediate brown spots within seconds of being in the sun. I grabbed my Nonnos Hat, a hat I gladly accepted (as well as his suspenders) when he died. Why? They.  Are.  Him.

Growing up I spent most weekends with my grandparents, my Nonna and Nonno. I loved going to their house! It is by far the best memory I have from my childhood.

Anyway, when my Nonna died (my mom’s mom) in 2012 a few months after my daughter, I couldn’t properly grieve at the time losing her but have ten fold since, anyways, I was nervous to go to her funeral, people were still referencing me as the grandaughter who just lost a child. I went alone, my mom asked why I didn’t bring my other kids? I angrily said I think 1 funeral in 2 months is enough! Plus they never knew her that well, they cared for my Nonno because he was more active in visits with them but regardless, it was not necessary to parade them in front of a bunch of old family that they had never met, to watch their mom cry (again) all so she could show off her grandkids. Ugh.

Back to the story, I wore my trusty fedora to her funeral. A hat I wear with Italian pride. A hat I grew up watching my Nonno and Zeo’s wearing. A hat that masked me.

I walked into the room where immediate family is held before they enter the main room after all others have sat down. I sat beside my Nonno, whom I adored. And he looks at me, in my fedora and says ‘ why are you wearing my hat’? I say it’s my hat Nonno. I lift it to show my face and say it’s me Nonno, Sheri. He grabs my face as he does and says Nina, I never knew why (but always loved it) he and his brother Gino always called me Nina.

My mom told me this morning that Zeo Gino died today. That his funeral is next Wednesday (also happens to be my rainbows 6th birthday)

Let’s go back to the last time I saw Zeo Gino, was at my Nonnos funeral 2 years ago. Not well himself having a bad stroke after his son died. He looked at me, touched my face and said ‘Nina’! He had tears in his eyes, as my Nonno did seemingly every time I saw him after my Nonna died. He cried and said it wasn’t fair, that he lost his son and now his brother. I felt his pain. I hugged him. Others looked as if to wonder why I deserved this affection.

Now he is gone. I hope reunited with his son and his brother, my Nonno.

Why does the world work this way? Forcing us to think constantly about life and death as if we are not always thinking about life and death!

I dont know. I just know I am sad.

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

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When I have too much feels…

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When I have to much feels I hide. Not literally but behind a fake smile or rushed avoidance.

I have noticed something about myself this month and that is that when I am feeling overwhelmed with strong emotions or a little depressed at life, I become fake in my interactions with everyday encounters. I noticed I made random jokes that I laughed at myself when talking to others, I smiled and wanted to appear happy and ok.

Tomorrow will be 7 years since my daughter died. Yesterday was 2 years since my Nonno joined my Nonna who died right after my daughter 7 years ago. My best childhood memories are with them, at their home. So every February is emotional for me, when I am alone. A part of me knows people know and wonders if they get annoyed with my grief, maybe that’s why I hide it, it’s been so long, to them.

So I cry alot in private or in my car. I light candles, go for long quiet walks. And run to and from my car to hide when there are people around that I know. I exercise too much, I eat and drink too much. I try to make others laugh. But the rest of the year (except December) I noticed I am more comfortable being the real me maybe because it’s not directly associated with personal deaths. People can’t say ‘ oh she’s like that cause her daughter died in February. I’m just like this…except in February.

Wierd huh?

So when I am feeling ok about life and comfortable with the existence of my grief, I am much more real and willing to open up to someone in an honest way.

O-well.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

Capture your Grief 2018

Day 17; Gratitude

To be grateful, what is that? Are we grateful of a good deed, grateful for our life, for money, for food, for love? How do we express our gratitude, do we express it only after being reminded, or as a reaction. Is it an innate trait in some but not for others?  To be grateful for a day without tears, or a day without physical pain, can be a simple relief of our everyday stresses. Gratitude is highly underrated and underused but overtly expressed when called out. Could gratitude be taught in school perhaps, teaching expressions of gratefulness for simple things every day. Can we grow our gratitude by being aware our actions and reactions. If we can empathize more with others, show compassion instead of judgment will we feel more honest gratitude. I wish for hat to be true. I wish for a future of empaths and gracious warriors who feel and appreciate the small and necessary over the large and obvious. Today I am grateful to be in a safe place, to be alive, to be able to express myself through writing. I am grateful for today.

 

Day 18; Joy

When someone we love dies suddenly it seems the joy gets sucked out of every aspect of our lives. Food turns bland, colors dull, feelings hurt. The joy of rest turns into dread, dread of the quiet space forced upon our brain to dwell in the pain of our loss. Joy is such a simple word but encompasses so much. The joy in a genuine smile, the joy of laughter between friends, and the joy of a meal shared with family. The feeling of joy disappears and you wonder if it will or is it possible for it to ever return. I think it does very slowly as in years later you may realize you are smiling or laughing and wonder how that happened, you may feel a sort of joy but regret at feeling joy, you may simply experience a lesser joy but joy nonetheless.  There must always be hope for the joy to return.

 

Day 19; Learn

Learning to live a new normal, learning to grieve and accept the loss that is the cause or your discomfort and pain. To re learn a different life without someone that was once pivotal in the way you once lived. Grief or absence of a person can force us to learn things we never had to navigate before, or maybe we decide to learn a new skill to cope or distract. Learning never stops and grief can be an important teacher in our journey of life. Bu only if you allow it to teach you. If you allow the feelings that hurt to be felt, you can learn how to best handle them. For me I learned to garden and grow things and how much I loved it. How it made me feel attached to the mysterious earth that enraptures our bodies and souls. To watch something you plant grow out of nothing, to bloom, to die and re grow can be an amazing tool in accepting the circle of life.

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

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Capture your Grief; Purpose & Essence

 

 

Day 2 Purpose:

What is our purpose here on earth? A question we all ponder and struggle with a many moments in life. As a child we believe our purpose is to play, if we are lucky. As a teenager we believe we are entitled to all we want and though our purpose is to learn and manage our ever changing bodies and minds. As a young adult, we may begin to question our purpose, the things we have been told and taught until now. The real world may be telling us something different, our purpose to understand it all as it unravels. As an adult, I believe our purpose changes multiple times throughout our lives, our years, our weeks even. When a stressful event unfolds that we cannot control, job loss, a break up or divorce, death of a parent, sibling or child or pet. All that we have learned or understood until that point gets thrown out the window, the many facets of grief that these grand changes bring to our lives cause us to re think our purpose, to change our path, our onward trajectory. What is our purpose, I think for every single human it is different but for all we do have some common purposes. To help each other out, to raise up those below. To be kind, to love.  I tell my kids often to help not to hurt. That I believe is a main purpose of human kind. But I only came to that point of view through years of hurt, so I suppose it is all relative to our own personal growth; our purpose.

 

Day 3 Essence:

The essence of being, a state of mind and thought of one self or character. A descriptive term to which how one feels toward something, a feature or quality of a solid or spiritual piece. In essence, I feel like her death taught me so much but in reality it was the pain of losing her that opened my eyes to what I could not see before. The reality that is life. In essence a young naïve mind is protected from the truth until it ventures out and gets hurt or betrayed. In essence they appear to care but their actions say otherwise.

es·sence
noun: essence
  1. the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.
    • Philosophy
      a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is.
    • an extract or concentrate obtained from a particular plant or other matter and used for flavoring or scent.
    synonyms: quintessence, soul, spirit, nature; core, heart, crux, nucleus, substance; principle, fundamental quality, sum and substance, warp and woof, reality, actuality;
    Thank you for Reading,

     

    Sheri

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One thing after the next…Keep going.

Featured

Today is my 38th birthday and upon reflecting over this last year these past few days, as we do leading up to the day our form came to be however many years ago.

38th bday

38th Birthday 10/02

 

I was reminded of the post I wrote last year.

https://dealingwithmygrief.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/what-37-years-on-earth-has-taught-me/

And oh how so much can happen, change, shift in 365 days!

Much of last year I felt at peace with the things and goings on of life at 36 into 37th year, so it was the opportune moment for this thing called life to turn mine upside down, toss a wrench in it so to speak!

Shortly after I turned 37 last year,  my brother who is an addict and has spent his life on and off the streets, performing one con after the other with minute breaks of sobriety and actual honest work, decided I had helped him out a lot but not enough for him to appreciate. So he attempted with the help of his then girlfriend, I do not know if they are still together because I have cut all ties.

They attempted to steal my identity and create fraudulent accounts and credit cards in my name, they were successful a teeny bit until they dumbly tried with the actual bank I do business with and my bank called me to confirm my new address to send checks to, ironically the same address my low life brother had just sent me because I wanted to send him a Christmas gift… it was stupid how easy it was to find out it was him. I then spent six weeks leading up to Christmas not preparing my own home or enjoying family time, creating memories but going  physically the six big banks here to clear my name and close any fraudulent accounts that may have been successfully opened, there was one- how someone can open an account on line and over the phone with not showing any identification is clearly wrong and should be impossible but he had my full name and correct birthdate and knowledge of my mothers maiden name, so apparently that was sufficient! Those days visiting the banks was on top of the countless hours spent on the phone with online creditors, who also apparently do not need real identification to attempt to open and gain credit cards with, the common question I was asked- ‘was your wallet stolen?’ I replied with why? did this person show you ID? No. It is sad and frustrating that companies and banks are more willing to help their growth and con artist than do their job and protect people with proper background checks. But I digress, it happened, we caught it early before any real damage, I filled a lawsuit but after a short investigation learned that I, me, the victim must travel to where he lived because it was not in the same Province to file charges with the police where the crime was committed even though it was online to banks and to me who live here not there, I had to go to them, to him, to file suit! that is absurd! This caused major stress on me and my family for a few months and still bothers me immensely when someone brings up my brother, my own flesh and blood, someone I always helps when he asked. Now dead to me.

So yeah that was the beginning of the very trying year I just had leading up to this day, my 38th birthday.

That was last November and December that I was dealing with issues do to the fraud, daily. My daughter’s, what would have been sixth birthday on December 30th was tainted by the anger I was dealing with over being victimized.

Christmas with my other three still young enough to love Christmas was also damaged. But hey, it was a new year, the start of 2018.

Low and behold two weeks into the new year my husband lost his job, his job of fifteen years, a job that was his life, that left me alone for many days, weeks, months during the newborn years of our first two kids lives. A job for a company he grew and helped become even more successful tan it was before. A job that moved us three times causing me/us to lose and remake friendships  in three different cities in one decade. He was shocked, he was hurt, felt betrayed and stabbed in the back. Our marriage already having survived the death of our daughter (a feat not many do) had survived all the moves, the sleepless nights of babies, the long hours alone. Death of the pets we got together when we first met, as many long term relationships, our going on eighteen years, has had many struggles and ups and downs. And now this.

us

17th Anniversary

I didn’t know what to do, or how to help, so I got a full time job, I was lucky I was hired a week after he was let go it all happened so fast and the thing I feel for is my kids, yes they suddenly had their dad at home all the time, its not like they were alone, but I, their mother who had always, 24/7 been there, since pushing them out of my loins was suddenly gone. He had to learn how to care, the constant never ending needs of the children and what that entailed or how it consumes all of your time.

I had to learn to let go. It was very hard, I had the guilt, I had the frustration of things not being done my way anymore, my kids over a few months adapted and seemingly needed me less. It broke my heart. All the while my husband was getting increasingly helpless with his job search, angry with is new life of stay at home dad, though now, in hindsight, I think he appreciates the time he was forced to experience with them, actually, I know he does.

Every summer for the last ten years we have vacationed at the same place, the beachfront on Osoyoos British Columbia, but this year we couldn’t, having lost his company car, we couldn’t, it is also the same week each year that is our anniversary and his birthday and this year happened to be his 40th!

Osoyoos BC

Osoyooos BC

 

so we decided to go to Mexico, summer is the cheapest to go there, as its very hot and more popular in the winter months but off we went.

We landed, it was hot, we got to the hotel, it was hot, we checked in, I unpacked the kids things, went to change myself, unzipped my case and found, it was identical to my case, but not my case. Someone grabbed my luggage and left me theres. I know it is this way because we took the second bus off the plane and when we arrived at baggage our cases or the five remaining cases, the ones we took, was all that was left on the carousel. Now what, Oh and they were having an election the next day so all was closed until Tuesday, we landed on Sunday.

We spent our first day in Mexico trying to get a hold of anyone that could help us from the airline or airport that spoke english. It was even more frustrating because as the mom, in my case was all the toiletries, the kids toothbrushes, the sunscreen. Off we went to buy overpriced shampoo and sunscreen, I swam for the first two days in my husbands boxer shorts and the sports bra I had on since leaving for the trip. I had many moments of anger during this trip because I felt like I was being punished this year and this was my tipping point.  I had no idea what for. I help others as much as I possibly can, I always do the right thing with the options presented, I teach kindness and empathy, I show love to all. Why were all these things, these unfortunate events happening?

On day four I had accepted my things were gone, I had decided I would make the best of it, we may never be able to travel back to Mexico, I need to put my big girl undies on and move forward! I had a sort of awakening, I realized all these things were happening because I was too comfortable in life or at the point I had reached thus far. I was being taught to accept over and over, taught that no matter how much control we think we have, we have none.

case

End of Day 4 They found my suitcase!!

 

 

Here I am a year later from when all the crummy things that bottomed out and unraveled over the last year have hopefully come to a close. who knows what the next year will bring but I know I can handle whatever life throws at me because I have so far! Bring it!

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

wosdomolder

 

Body Image; the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body

*** This post is not about Grief, though there is some in it. I am choosing to write about something else that I have dealt with my whole life.

Body Image – Noun- an intellectual or idealized image of what one’s body is or should be like, that is sometimes misconceived in such mental disorders as anorexia nervosa.

Since I can remember I have been obsessed with being “skinny” my first recollection of this issue, or problem, as it became, was when I was around 7; one of my best friends was a ballet dancer. I was constantly looking at her legs beside mine, always believing that mine were huge by comparison. This photo of us below proves my delusion.

Summer of 1987

I loved playing with my Barbie dolls but unlike others I do not blame their tiny unattainable frames for my obsession, I blame society and television. It (Barbie) was/is a toy after all, a doll to act out my fun with. Magazines and music videos on the other hand had only beautiful, tall, skinny women in my face constantly, they were real women. I grew up in the age of Kate Moss, the ridiculously skinny frame and face of Calvin Klein.

By the time I was 12 I wanted to be a model, I was only 5ft 6 but hey so was Kate Moss, the problem however  was my frame… I was not “petit” or “tiny”, I always felt like an ogre beside my friends, big shoulders, big glasses, I was not an athlete or a dancer, I played no instrument, basically I had or felt I had no talent. By fifteen I was doing some local modeling and shows after taking classes the previous year. A friend at the time commented to me, a male friend, which in hindsight made it matter more, he said ‘wow, your too skinny!’ You see I spent much of the 8th and 9th grade not eating and if I felt I overate, I made myself throw up. I weighed 112 lbs. in grade 9 down from 118 in Grade 7 and when he said that, you’d think it sounded an insult but not to me, it was validation.

I went to a modeling show in Whistler at 15,  here I am, in this picture which is important because the pink sweater I am wearing in it is a shirt I was given when I was 8yrs old and here I was wearing it as half top 7 years later, I was so proud I fit into it.

model

 

My body image morphed from a child who kind of thought she was bigger than others, (even though I clearly was not) to being obsessed with controlling how many calories I ate and exercise I did. I didn’t really like throwing up and felt so mature that I was making the decision to exercise over being anorexic…(eye roll at myself) I joined the gym at 15, it was my routine. I took the bus everyday or went with my boyfriend, whose mom ironically or not was a former model and always commented negatively and positively to me about my body weight or the state of it.

I noticed every .05 of a pound I gained or lost. Fast forward to me realizing I will never be able to maintain 110lbs or be discovered,  so at 18 I got hired and started working at Hooters restaurant I began doing bikini contests. You see bikini models over fashion models were allowed to have curves. Something I, as I got older could not hide no matter how little I ate.

contest       1998     I got 2nd place at  a Miss Hooters contest which put me in the finals for Miss Hooters BC. I got 4th in a Miss Molson contest. 3rd in a Miss Ocean Beach, which put me in their finals. I never won any, those were the ones I placed, I did a dozen others that left me feeling even more insecure and fatter than ever. There was always someone skinnier or prettier or both.

I worked at Hooters for 2 years, at the time in the picture below, I was closing the bar and one night 5 minutes  before closing time a guy came in, I was visibly frustrated as I was ready to go home. I poured him his pint and continued my closing duties, in his mind I suppose I was ignoring him. He paid and left. I found a note under his pint that read, ‘You are not as hot as you think you are , PS lose some weight your muffin top looks terrible over those shorts.’ I crumpled it and tossed it hoping my face didn’t show the pain I felt just in case he was out the window waiting for my reaction. I weighed 122 lbs. at that time the most I had ever weighed in my life- I was fat! and he just confirmed it.

Hooters

My obsession with my body image, the distorted view I became to have of what my body looked like was taking over my life, I fell asleep at night counting how many calories I had consumed that day. I ensured I was at the gym 7 days a week and through it all I smiled and pretended I didn’t care. Fast forward into my mid 20’s I struggled to maintain a weight that was not my natural body weight, I weighed between 121 – 126 lbs. constantly striving to be under 120 again. I look back at pictures and think wow, I was skinny, yet I never once felt it.  The next 10 years my inner demons fought within myself to maintain a body I couldn’t. Then I had my 1rst child at 25 and suddenly didn’t care, he was all that mattered. I wish I could say that it grew into a healthy mindset about my body image but no, it didn’t last, I did, after not caring for the 3 years whilst I had baby 1 and 2 but soon after rejoining the gym and learning very disgustingly how out of shape 3 years sans exercise made my body. I was even more ashamed of myself.

How did I let myself go? no, I never was actually overweight, though my new weight range was between 131lbs and 135- to me I was huge, that’s almost 20lbs larger than I always strived for. I got a personal trainer and got down to 128! then I got pregnant again. I was bitter, I just got my body back. I became depressed. I didn’t want another child, I didn’t want to get fat again. Then my beautiful little girl was born upside down and backwards not breathing with many complications. She died 51 days later.

I hated myself. It must have been my fault, I cared too much about getting fat and not appreciating what was growing inside me. I killed my baby. I sat with this pain and regret and guilt for many years. I also did not care what I looked like…is what I wish I could say but no, immediately after she died I hired another personal trainer my excuse this time? I didn’t not want to look like I had just had a baby, especially if I didn’t have one to show for it! Would you know it, a way some people grieve is sex, there are many, self medication, over eating, over sleeping and yes sex. Low and behold I was pregnant 2mths after my 3rd child died.

This is me, as big as a house, pregnant with my 4th child at 32.  I can honestly say I didn’t care how fat I got this time because this was going to be the healthiest baby damn it!

4rth pregnancy

The point of me needing to write about dealing with body image is that it is so incredibly unhealthy in the way it has literally ruled/ruined my life. I delete pictures immediately if I think I look fat, my mood is ruined if I don’t like what I am wearing or if something doesn’t fit right. I also feel that most if not all women struggle with this self imposed pressure. I constantly look at the small frames I always wished I was and think man they look good. But I bet they don’t think so. I still work hard at being healthy, I still go to the gym 5x a week, but I eat whatever I want and I try not to stress so much. I think with age it has become easier to let go of the “perfect” body.

I have kids who I pray see themselves as the beautiful little beings that I do. That I show them or have shown them how to be healthy over being skinny. I express to them their mind is much more important to work on than their body. I hope they hear me.

But I cannot lie, this picture below is  from only a few days ago. My husband said to me, ‘wow you look good’. I was excited to see it, I asked him to send it to me.  And I hated it. All I see is the paunch in my belly when I look at this photo. I want to stop this cycle. I  want to stop looking back and thinking wow I looked good, or skinny or fit. I want to feel it, now, but I don’t think there is an answer on how.

July 15 2018

Today, at almost 38, I weigh 137lbs, a very healthy weight for my age and height. I am trying to stop being my biggest critic. But I think with having it be an unhealthy obsession my whole life it might always be a demon that lives inside me. I wish there was a magical cure to how we see ourselves regarding our body image.

I just pray as a society with the shifts that are in place today we start appreciating our brains, our words, or acts of kindness as much as we have been taught to appreciate a ‘nice body’.

This post was inspired by this photo that I saw on FB the other day. It really struck me and stuck with me because it is how I have felt my whole life.

body image

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

The never ending mountain

 

Grief; ultimately the hike of your lifetime, a steep decent into the muddy, dark mess that sticks to your boots pulling you into its sinking sludge. Sometimes a light stroll through the memories, a rainbow follows a storm and you appreciate the change. Out of nowhere a harsh incline appears as if out of nothing it feels as though you are not going anywhere but if you look back the reflection is faint. You have come further than you realise, one foot in front of the other, drag, pull, skip, jump but don’t stop. You must keep climbing. Moving forward into the hard fog for it will lift at the slighest moment to show you new beauty. The colors around you are constantly changing, the landscape never the same. New fears appear as past loss is accepted but that is the way we grow. We learn to accept, we challenge our normal, feel the hurt and keep climbing.

 

 

Sometimes the smallest things can seem like a huge hurdle to get over, take a breath, have a moment for yourself and start again.

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Share your thoughts.

 

Thanks for reading

Namste

Sheri

Why God is not a part of my Grief

 

Nature has been a place of solace for me. Walking amongst the trees, staring at clouds, sunset or sunrise. Feeling the rain on my face. But there are those that maybe have not experienced a great loss and do not see that you find comfort in simpler things perhaps over words.

“They’re with God now”, “God needed another angel”, “it is Gods plan”, “Don’t be sad they are with God”, “it is not meant to be”, “Time heals”, “God loved them more”

Just a few things that people who blindly follow religion or a  church might say, to those who do not, may not or will not understand. Why you would say something so unnecessary or hurtful and confusing.

Do you know my faith? Or have you assumed I am Christian. Do you so boldly state what you believe and that you know my child, parent, sibling, friend is actually with God (your God?),  or summoned by them,  gone because of them… Perhaps a question of how are you may be better. Or offering to walk alongside in silence.

If one accepts it is Gods plan, then there is the following questions that I have witnessed grievers deal with- Why? why would God do this? Why does God cause suffering? If God cared or loved me he wouldn’t have done this! Many people question their faith after a trauma, tragic death or unexpected loss.

I believe in science but I would never say to a women that suffered a miscarriage the scientific reason that perhaps their body could not carry a fetus to term, just as I would not say it was not meant to be, or God had a different plan.

By putting my thoughts, beliefs or opinions on someone elses grief that takes away their right to how they  feel, I am imposing myself and ignoring them. Not allowing someone to feel their own process of grief or thoughts and reasons why is a disservice to their journey.

Many times, at funerals a pastor or minister will say ” do not grieve, do not be sad” immediately taking away the right of the griever with the excuse that God will made this so and therefore you need not “suffer in grief”.  But many know that to move through your grief and loss you MUST feel it. Allow it to overtake you when it comes. It is a process with no timeline. I ran into the women that officiated my daughters funeral, she was officiating my Grandmothers funeral a few months later. She said after a very insincere hello, that I must be doing better because well 4 months had passed since my daughters death and that is double the time she lived. I could tell she was proud of herself for this “revelation” to me, as though I had not considered every possible equation as to the months I carried her, the months she lived, the time that has passed since she is gone. I felt she thought she was comforting me with those words and all I felt was anger. How dare you tell me how I should feel. That because her life was short my grief must be too?

I have just learned a childhood friend has died, he was only 39.  His mothers funeral was the first I had ever been to, she died of a brain hemorrhage when we were kids. He and his sisters had a much harder life, I assume, after that loss,(we moved away a couple years later).  I have thought of them often, how they the ages of 8, 10 and 12,  how they must have felt losing the one constant in their life, entering their teen years and young adulthood without her comfort and guidance. Now he has passed, some will say he is back with her, I think that is what all want to hope for. But no one really knows, so I will just say to his dad and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry he is gone. Sibling loss they say can be as hard as losing a child.  I look at my boys, they are best friends, each others first friend, comrade, confidante. They have a bond that will only be broken with death.

Rest In Peace Curtis Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

 

What 37 years on earth has taught me!

37th bday  The morning of my 37th birthday. October 2 2017

I’ve always struggled with sleep, as a child I remember making up games in my mind to make myself fall asleep, I would sneak into my parents room and sleep on the floor, as a teen I would read until I passed out. So no surprise on this day – October 2nd – my 37th b-day I was awake at dawn. I tossed and turned desperate to fall back asleep and finally got up to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the chaos began. I poured my coffee and sat down to watch the news.

Well you know by now what I saw. My heart broke, I was in shock, not again. My husband and I have been to LV a least a dozen times in the last decade, we always are on the strip or at a concert or show. Had we been there for my b-day, which was considered, we would have been at the country music festival (we love country music) were this heinous act of  gun violence occurred. We decided not to go because we are going to be running in the Rock and Roll Marathon in LV in November, which is celebrated at the end by a concert. I am not sure we will attend. But we should not let fear win right? Except that in the USA  this year there have been 273 mass shootings (a mass shooting is defined as 4 or more people being killed) last year there was 483! read more in the link below.

http://www.abc15.com/news/data/mass-shootings-in-the-u-s-over-270-mass-shootings-have-occurred-in-2017

So is it safe to travel to the US? We recently- last spring- went to Disney land for the first time, my kids leading up to it did not want to go and I could not understand. The answer came after much interrogation, they did not want to be killed, I said why would you think that? they said everyone has guns in America. Hmmm, yes they have a point. I explained as best I could that there are police everywhere and most places have measures to prevent people bring guns in, although yes there were metal detectors at Disney land most places unfortunately allow guns in the United States, something not legal in Canada. I understood their fear. It is undeniable that America has a gun problem and the debate was proven to be over when 20 babies were killed by an automatic riffle at Sandy Hook 5 years ago and nothing was changed or fixed about their lax or non existent gun laws. It is unfortunate that a country as big and powerful as the USA is more obsessed with their sick gun culture and ‘right to bear arms’ than the right to healthcare or to walk safely in their country without the threat of gun violence.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/if-sandy-hook-didn-t-change-america-s-gun-laws-nothing-will-1.2454880

My kids woke up, I turned off the news and wiped my tears away. They came down the stairs singing happy b-day. Bitter sweet. I hugged them and we started our morning.

Houston Trail

Something I have learned after 37 years…

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed by grief, tragedy and heart ache I need to go outside. Walk amongst the trees in the forest and breathe.

I’ve learned that life gets so much more complex as we age, as people die around us the undeniable reality of our obvious and eventual demise can feel overwhelming

Death also gets ignored by many. Some rush through life trying to be successful, creating a fortune, for what? To be buried in a gold casket? I truly admire the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates that spend their fortune helping others, eradicating polio in Africa- a pretty noble thing to spend your time and money on in your retirement years. Or Oprah Winfrey opening a school for girls in Africa, or Facebook founder Mark Zukerburg donating 100 million to education in the US.

I’ve learned that flashy things are just that things. Things that end up in the landfill.

I’ve learned that I’d rather have enough than a feast.

I’ve learned that real people, honest people, even though honesty can be a hurtful or a hard thing to swallow at times, is much better than the fake people.

I’ve learned that no matter how many push ups or chest presses you do, your armpits and under arms will still get flabby ( and so will your knees- no amount of running will stop that ).

I’ve learned that after 35 you finally stop being so harsh on your body.

I’ve learned to appreciate when it’s quiet.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted. Even when your tired and frustrated, a tug at your sleeve for a hug, or an I love you with a smile can be amazing.

I’ve learned education can change perspective and direction.

I’ve learned that you’re never to old to make mistakes and to keep learning.

I’ve learned that kids are pretty darn smart and much more resilient and accepting than adults.

I’ve learned it is ok to let people judge you, as I have learned it really does not matter what they think. Most do not know you well enough anyway.

I’ve learned no matter how hard you give to others they wont assume they need to give back until you ask.

I’ve learned it is ok to say no.

I’ve learned it is ok to yell and get angry, and it is also ok to say sorry and accept responsibility.

I’ve learned that exercise can do more than just keep your body healthy, but your mind too.

I’ve learned too that there are more ignorant people in the world than I’d hoped as a younger person.

I’ve learned we only get one life and don’t know what comes next, so try your best to cherish it and that does not mean be happy all the time.

I’ve learned that music and dance can heal and rejuvenate the soul, but also trick the mind into feeling young again.

So, I went with my BFF to see the amazing singer, dancer, performer, the person I saw at age 10 at the first concert I had ever attended. We went to see Janet Jackson and danced and sang the night away, and I hadn’t  felt that good,  in a long time.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

When a book stays with you…

I have always been an avid reader, with a few neighborhood friends but not many school friends once I learned to read and discovered this magical place called the public library that let you borrow books for free I was hooked. I will never forget my excitement every summer as we packed up to go to the cabin we would go to the library, there was always so many I wanted to take out but I was always only aloud two, I think my mom was afraid of them getting lost…  I spent many days of my childhood tucked away in my room reading, then as I became a teen reading into the early mornings. as a young adult I continued my affair with books though not as much as I would have liked, having to work, sleep, deal with life as an adult but also have some sort of a life. Then this magical thing called pregnancy happened and I was allowed to read, all the time again, I added the necessary parenting and child birth books to my repertoire along with my novels. who would have known that that would be the last time I loved to read…

Not right away though, after the birth of my first son, I read to him aloud while he nursed, it is very good for infants to hear their mothers voice as well as a large spread of vocabulary, or so I learnt in one of my previously read baby books. But then they start moving and you don’t get to sit still again…

Soon after the birth of  my second son two years later I realized I hadn’t read a book in a very long time, I was too tired. I was haggard and angry with two little ones that needed all my time. My husband worked long days but also traveled a lot, he saw this change in me I suppose it was the beginning of me losing myself into my children. We went to Mexico after our second turned two, I had not read a full book in almost three years. I was feeling very unhappy. A neighbor at the time who is now a very close friend lent me EAT PRAY LOVE by Liz Gilbert, ‘you have to read this!’ she said. So I reluctantly brought it along knowing I would never get a moment to myself to do so.  I will never forgot the one afternoon, my husband said as the kids napped in the room, I have to answer emails, why don’t you go for a swim or something… I was pleasantly surprised, I grabbed my book and ran out the door, not returning for a few hours, finishing from cover to cover this book that I just had to read. I was changed by the words I read, I connected to Liz’s struggle with her life. I too wanted to be a better me. That book stayed with me for a long time, I re read it over and over for the next few years not wanting to stop the feeling of hope it gave me.

eat pray love            no death no fear       The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Fast forward  a few years, we fell back in love, our kids became easy little humans no more menacing , time consuming, toddlers. life was good. Life was great! We even finally took a solo trip together to Hawaii – were we conceived…

When we got pregnant again all I could think of was why? not now. everything in our life was so good, why did we go and do something so stupid. I cried and I cried, knowing the hard road another baby would bring. Well not to worry, it was even harder than we could have ever anticipated. The pregnancy was “normal”  but my new baby was not, she was born upside down and backwards, not breathing. She spent her first four weeks of life having surgery and brain scans. She came home for two short weeks and almost died on our living room floor when she stopped breathing, I gave her CPR and she was rushed back to the hospital, where we learned she had an abnormal trachea and would never breathe on her own. She died a week later. Life teaches us so many different things through hardship, if we are willing to see them. But at that moment my life went dark.

After she died I only read books on grief, fiction and non fiction. I needed answers to my thoughts, I wanted understanding to my feelings of hopelessness; my grief, a feeling that was so overwhelming. Article after article, book after book. All on death, grief, bereavement, loss, suicide and coping. The one that I read over and over trying to accept my loss was No death no Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh.

My son said a few years later in a very painful way, you used to laugh when I tickled you.

I also used to read for pleasure too…

Today, five and a half years after my daughters death, I have half read a hundred books, nothing could catch me, nothing mattered, they were all dumb stories.

I did finish a few, for I went back to College wanting a change, a distraction, needing to learn. I read Frankenstein, The Watchmen, Tale of two cities, The Road, The Island of Doctor Moreau to recall a few. All great books by equally great authors. But not until just recently have I noticed I can read with enjoyment again, I think my taste is much more ‘real’ than it was but who knows that would not have happened over time with age.

So I share The Secret  Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, the first large novel I have read in less than two weeks that I did not want to put down, that I have thought about its contents long after I closed its pages. That I think will stay will me for a long time just like Eat Pray Love did/has.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is about a young family that suffers a tragedy and how they come out on the other side by moving for the summer to a small town where their family is originally from and learning about life, death and the earth. This book touched me in a way that has not happened in a long time. It had yes, my need to examine grief checked off, but it had side stories about different forms of grief, a grief for what was, for what man and greed is doing to the earth, how small southern towns still have a long list of bigotries and prejudices, how society in general still needs to find acceptance. With adventure and truth the family slowly heals, though will be forever changed.

If you are looking for a new read I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri