21 September 2017

Overwhelm



"bury or drown beneath a huge mass"

"defeat completely"

"give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate"

"have a strong emotional effect on"

"be too strong for; overpower"

It's that moment when you say you have a million things going on, and a million is not an exaggeration.

It's looking at the room full of things that you know you have to sort through, piece by piece, and make decisions on the dozens of options for where they will go.  And it's the knowing there is more than just one room.

It's when you sit down to try to work, knowing that it is a good distraction from all the million things going on, but you are unable to fully immerse yourself in it because the million things do not go away just because you are able to set them on a back burner for a moment.

It's getting one minor, simple task completed, feeling like you just climbed a thousand steps.

It's falling asleep in your car while your kids are at football practice instead of knitting or reading because you really are just that exhausted at 5:30pm.

It's having time to work on the million things but not being able to begin any of them because the noise in your head is so overwhelming that you can't shut it all off long enough to pick a place to start.

It's the noise.  Any noise, really.  If two people talk at once it's too much.  If music is playing and someone starts talking over it, it's too much.  If a loud motorcycle goes racing past your house while you are hanging laundry, it's too much.

It's all just too much.

I'm aware that it won't always be.  But for now, it is.







12 September 2017

The Anger Phase of Grief. Alternate Title: My apologies to Mike M.

Mike: Hi this is Mike. Can I help you?
Me: Hi Mike, I'm responding to a text that you sent me in regards to my probate filing.  I see that you're interested in some property.
Mike: Yes, I am, thanks for getting back to me.  What can you tell me about the property that you are selling?
Me: How's your mom doing, Mike?
Mike: Um, my mom's doing fine....
Me: That's great Mike.  My mom's dead.  She suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a subdural hematoma.  Are you familiar with those?
Mike: Is that an aneurysm?
Me: Yes, Mike. You're right! Kind of.  It's actually when the aneurysm ruptures.  Do you know this happened when we were preparing for my kids 13th birthday party?
Mike: That's terrible, I'm sorry to hear that.
Me: Thanks, Mike.  I really appreciate your condolences.  I sincerely hope that you don't ever have to deal with something like that.  You know, I spent the next 13 days with her, at the hospital, holding her hand, begging her to wake up?  She never woke up.  In fact, I had to watch her die.
Mike: I'm sorry....
Me: I'm sorry too. It's been really hard for me.  I miss her a lot.  She was my best friend you know.  My kids miss her a lot too.  Her friends miss her.  There is a huge, gaping hole in all of our lives right now and it's been pretty tough to continue to take care of all the things that need taken care of, you know.  Are you familiar with all the things that need taken care of when someone you love dies.
Mike: I know it's a hard process....
Me: (again, cutting Mike off) You know, Mike, the hardest part is when I wake up in the morning and look out my door, up to her house....I live right next to her, you know.  In my grandmothers house, the house she grew up in, and my kids are actually the seventh generation to live here.
Mike: silence
Me: My mom kept a lot of stuff.  I'm sure there are things that I could find that you might be interested in....
Mike:  I would love to help.  What can you tell me about the property?
Me: You know, my house still has a dirt basement, and a root cellar!  When I was little, I remember my grandmother sending me down to bring potatoes up for the dinner she would prepare for us.  We were all very close.  We had dinner here a lot.  And there used to be a trail between the houses from all the walking we did between them.  My walking down the hill to get on the school bus every day.  And my dog, Buster was his name, he would come down every day to sit on my grandparents porch and wait for me to get off the bus.  He was an awesome, faithful dog.  And my senior year of high school, my bus driver ran over him.  You know, I was on the bus when she ran over him.  I could feel the wheels going over him.
Mike: wow, I'm sorry.
Me: Yeah, it was pretty tragic.  You know what else is tragic?  My grandmother was actually murdered in this house, the one I live in.  Beaten to death in her own bed one night.  That was pretty tragic too.  And three months later, my father died from sepsis.  He had cancer, and it was almost cleared up, actually. But the chemo fucking killed him.  Although I think it was more a broken heart that he succuumed to, because he was the one that found my grandmother.  He saw her face. It hurt him pretty bad.
Mike: :clearly regretting sending me that text by now:
Me: So, Mike. You said your mom is doing well?  That's great.  So, when she dies, can I send you a text harassing you about what you want to do with the property?  I mean, I'll at least wait til you bury her.  Maybe I'll wait a month.  Does that seem like a good amount of time to give you?  I might be interested in relocating by that time.  I mean, I have so many people that I don't even know reaching out to me trying to take all of this HUMUNGOUS LOAD off my hands.  I mean, the physical load, the things that can make YOU money.  Oh, and thank you so much for offering your condolences in the beginning of that text, before you jumped right in to ask me what I want to do with all the property that I now own, and how you are a real estate investor.  That must be a great job!  You must be really proud of yourself, spending your day randomly searching the newspaper for grieving family members who have inherited property and must be so preoccupied with their grief that you will happily jump in and take the stress off their hands.  How nice of you to reach out to people in their time of grief to fucking take advantage of their loss.  When your mother dies, I can also put you in touch with a tombstone company who barely waited til she was in the ground for a week to send me a letter telling me how much they would like to profit from my loss.

Fuck you.

By the way, if you're still interested in property, I found a chewed up popsicle eraser in the desk drawer in the spare room that I'll sell you for the amazing price of.....

Fuck you again.

Sincerely,

No, I'm not selling, and if I do, it certainly would not be to you.  And also, I would love to know how you got my unlisted, private, phone number.

DISCLAIMER: I sincerely apologize for the use of the word fuck.

ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER:  I did not actually call him, and this conversation didn't actually happen. Wait, I did actually call him, but he didn't answer.  Just got a voice mail.  Probably a good thing.

27 August 2017

First Game of the Season Grief


I've not been a fan of football for quite some time.  As a child, I remember watching the Steelers play with my grandfather.  The game was always on during Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents house.  My dad and my uncle would usually fall asleep on the floor, a result of a good, filling meal. I never usually paid much attention to it, but the sounds are imbedded in my memories deeply.  My grandfathers voice responding to a bad play, muffling the sound of the dishes clinking in the sink as my mom and grandmother would clean up.

In high school I got into it a little.  The boy I was dating and some of our friends at the time were pretty into it.  I remember a couple we spent time with; one was a serious 49er fan and her boyfriend was a die-hard Cowboys fan.  The year I graduated, the Cowboys defeated the Bills, and I remember watching it at their house, and falling asleep before it was over. I have a photo of me asleep against the edge of the couch.  I was wearing a pair of black jeans and a grey shirt that came with shoulder pads that I ripped out because I hated shoulder pads, but I loved the shirt.  I'm pretty sure the shirt is probably still in my mothers closet.

My mother kept everything.  We started going through her attic, and spent multiple occasions over the past couple years sorting through boxes that contained her history, mine, my cousins, my fathers, some of my uncles stuff, and so on and so on.  We would sit there reminiscing over the zip-up body suit she wore in her senior picture, the polyester pant suits that she and my dad wore during the 70's, the hand-made dress that she wore in her friends wedding, the outfit that I wore when she and my father brought me home from the hospital. The list goes on and on and is full of random things in addition to clothing.  Things that most people would never keep, but that I know I will laugh, or smirk, or cry upon retrieving when I go through it all again.

The empty spaces that exist in my life are many and take up the majority of my day.  The phone call I would receive every morning when she woke up, or the one that I would make to her if I didn't hear from her soon enough. There were a million phone calls throughout the day.  Ever since the tragedy with my grandmother, my mom and I would call each other all the time.  Living next to each other meant that there was worry if we didn't know where the other was, so I usually called her when I was heading home from work, or heading to craft night, and home from craft night, or home from a friends house, or taking the boys for ice cream, or running to the store for something.  I called her so often.  To bitch about someone that annoyed me.  Today, sitting at the first game of the season, I would have called her to tell her how they were winning 28-0 at half-time.  And then I would have called her after I left to tell her I was on my way home.

And now I sit here, listening to the karaoke going up at her house, waiting for her to sing.  Sean was riding his bike around earlier, as we were getting ready to leave, and he said to me he swore he heard grandmas voice up there, singing, and he rode up the hill, even though he knew she wouldn't be there. She always sang The End of the World, by Skeeter Davis, and I haven't been able to listen to it since she's been gone.  And probably never will without breaking down again.

I'm pretty sure that as much as I've loathed football and the wasteful consumerism involved in it for quite a while now, it's going to be something that helps to fill the emptiness and helps me to find something new to take the place of something that will never be again.  Because things change, and I am always the one who points that out.  I've sat on her porch with her many nights looking down across the road at the monstrous garage that was built by the people who moved into the trailer that Jeff, Joyce, and Jenny put in when I was just a kid. We talked about how much has changed around here. How much change my grandmother saw in her entire life here and how it must have felt to her, and I know how it felt to my mother, not being able to see the sunrise in the same way that she and my father built the house exactly in that spot for.

Change is hard, but it's inevitable, and I know I have to be like the river.

But it's fucking hard.  And I know that eventually it will be less hard.  But for now, it's fucking hard.

15 August 2017

Weaving Through The Grief


My mother was in the Neuro ICU for more than a week.  She was not conscious at all for any of it. Or at least not that I felt.  I spent the majority of twelve days with her.  A few of those days I left for a couple hours while my cousin stayed with her.  Two of those nights I went home and slept in my bed, but immediately went back to sleeping by her side the minute I knew my time with her physical presence was limited.

I always have at least one knitting project with me.  During the hospital stay I had two or three in my bag, but I probably only worked on a pair of socks for a total of half an hour in all over the course of those twelve days.  Somehow, every single minute that passed, I was unable to focus on anything other than just sitting there, with my mother, holding her hand, being in her presence.  Walking with her as we both navigated the process of her death.

I've found it hard to pick up any knitting lately.  I usually do go through a period during this time of year where my fiber arts take a back seat to other things mostly outdoor related, but this time it feels different.  I am having a hard time writing too.  I am doing very little of anything other than just merely functioning.  I spend a lot of time sitting, staring off into space as my thoughts run around in circles.

Last night I pulled out my scarf.  It's a simple garter stitch.  The same project I first knit many years ago when I was learning the craft.  I'm still finding it hard to focus, but it's easy enough that I can just concentrate on the pushing through.  I can just knit one more stitch, and one more, and one more, until I've finished a row, and I can count that as progress.

Pushing through anything can be hard. Even if it's the easiest thing you could possibly do at the moment, just adding the layer of grief to it makes it the biggest accomplishment.

I don't feel like knitting but the more I do it, the better I feel about it.


12 August 2017

It is okay to say (random thoughts from the currently grieving)


"I'm sorry."
"I don't know what to say."
"There really aren't any words."
"It must be really hard."
"I can't imagine."
"I wish I knew what to say."
"What can I do to help?"
"I'm here if you need anything."

Some people have a hard time with these things, but I don't, so it's totally okay to say them to me.
"She's in a better place."
"She is no longer suffering."
"She is still here with you."
"She will always be here with you."

She will always be a part of me, for sure.
And I also find myself in the same place of not really knowing what to say
when others go through this too.

It is always okay to hug me.
And hug me again.
And call me.
And text me.
A million times.
Every day.

It's also okay to not say anything.
It's totally okay to break down in tears.
It's okay to look at me with hurt in your eyes.
It's okay to look down and say "it sucks"

I'm also learning for myself that it's okay for me to
not always respond to you when you reach out because I know you won't be offended,
because sometimes responding is overwhelming.
I am learning that it's okay for me to take time to crawl in a hole and just sit there.
I am totally okay with breaking down in a pile of tears in public places
while complete strangers look upon me with confusion.
I'm okay sitting in my car, at a traffic light, bawling, as people in their cars look on in wonder.

I've had a few people tell me that feeling deeply is my superpower.  Throughout this I have been reminded of how much of a good thing that is, not only for me but for what I am modeling for my children.

Grief sucks, but I've really gotten good at it.
And as much as it can hurt, and make it feel like my heart is being ripped apart inside of me,
it brings a transformation and release more profound than anything I have ever experienced.
Deep, tragic, painful grief makes you feel alive in ways that life itself can not.

It is also okay to be grateful for the lessons and wisdom you gain from a process that you wish you didn't have to go through, but in the end you know that you need to go through it in order to continue to evolve.

The things that tear you apart end up putting you back together in ways that could not happen without.




30 July 2017

Died Peacefully at Home Surrounded by their Loving Family

I am certain that this is something that does happen, as I read it occasionally in the obituaries.  I am also aware that death in and of itself isn't something that usually holds an easily reached peace in most circumstances.  But as I sit here next to my mother, who is on her second day under hospice care and her 11th day fighting death, I realize that I can't remember a time that my family has been afforded the experience of the title of this blog post.

My maternal grandfather died at the hospital, of congestive heart failure.  They had just called to tell us he was going to be released to come home.  Granted we knew he wasn't going to live very long, but he wanted to be at home and they were making that happen.  Shortly after hanging up the phone, he died there, alone, without family, in his hospital room.

My paternal grandfather died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital after suffering a stroke as he waited outside the grocery store for my grandmother to return.  My paternal grandmother died in a nursing home after a much too long battle with alzheimer's.

My maternal grandmother probably would have been likely to attain a peaceful passing as I'm sure she would have lived to be 100, but instead, while she died at home, it was not surrounded by family, and it was at the hands of someone who beat the life out of her.  And three short months after bearing witness to the aftermath of this unfortunate scene, my father died alone in a hospital bed of a blood infection that was left to him after enduring a ridiculous amount of chemotherapy that may possibly have been shrinking his cancer, but surely left his body unable to fight anything else.

My uncle suffered a heart attack upon waking one morning.  So, he may have been at home, but it was alone and not peaceful.

I could go back further to the great great grandmother who fell down my basement steps during her fourth pregnancy and both she and the baby died.  She may have been at home, with family (including a 6 year old daughter who never forgot asking the doctor if he was going to save her mama) but it sure doesn't sound like it was peaceful for anyone.

There is also my grandmothers uncle Coonie, who was certainly at home surrounded by family as they enjoyed a dinner together, but getting up and going outside to cough up blood from black lung until he died in his wifes arms isn't exactly peaceful either.

As I lay here next to my mother, watching her go through her own passage to death, I can't help but wonder how one experiences a peaceful passing.  Because I made a choice to allow my mother to have that, rather than to be sentenced to a life trapped inside her brain unable to experience any kind of life worth living.  I made the choice to end her ultimate suffering, which would leave her bedridden in a nursing home, where she has told me multiple times that she would never want to be.  And this process has been far from "peaceful", but no matter how painful it is for me, I can at least guarantee that she will have the presence of her loving family with her.

Perhaps another time I will be shown that "peacefully at home surrounded by their family" really does exist.

11 July 2017

Be Your Own Tracker

From the moment I discovered that my phone has an app that keeps track of the steps I take every day, I've been utilizing it. It's helped me in some ways, but I've also noticed that it hinders and frustrates me in others.  Like all technology, it started out as a love affair with something that I imagine is going to make me more productive and focused and help me attain goals.  But it comes with a cost, creating a constant need to have my phone on my person at every moment for fear of not tracking my progress.

I am aware that there are watches out there that you can wear on your wrist which makes having the phone unnecessary, but that's just another piece of technology that I really don't need.  Again, becoming tethered to a "virtual" cloud storing every piece of information about me and my habits is not something that I even want.  Let's just ignore the fact that the watch exists because it's irrelevant as I don't have one, and I won't be getting one.  Or you could, throughout the rest of this post, replace "phone" with "watch" and it would still make the same point.

When I am at home I like to leave my phone on the counter.  There are plenty of studies that have indicated that having your phone on your body all the time can increase your chances of :inserthorriblediseasehere:. Even if it were a watch, the technology is the same and that watch is against your skin, accessing whatever "waves" it works on.  Even if it isn't true, I still feel like a bit of a robot at the thought of having this mini computer wirelessly accessing information from my body and uploading it through some tower that "connects" me to the "machine".  So I like to be "untethered" as often as I can.  I like to move around freely without having a piece of machinery attached to my body.  But when I do that, all those precious steps are unaccounted for.

Which begs the question......if my phone doesn't track it, did I really walk it?

Sometimes I will get home at the end of the day and put the phone on the counter to charge it, but then I decide to do laundry and before heading up the stairs I grab my phone and put it back in my pocket because I couldn't bear to lose those steps.  If I do, my daily tally of movement becomes inaccurate, or God forbid I just count them on my own and add them in.  I mean, I would have to do it right away or remember them and do it later, which we know wouldn't happen.

This morning I realized I forgot to hang my jeans up to dry last night and had to choose another pair of pants to wear, and they have ZERO POCKETS! Cue anxiety. When I take my walk breaks, I could just hold the phone in my hand, right?

Again, if my phone doesn't track it, am I really doing it?

Answer?  The phone is hindering my ability to track my life on my own.  It's taking away my ability to know when I have worked my body and instead forcing me to rely on something that is not a true part of me. I really don't need an app to know that I have worked my ass after hiking up Pole Steeple, because the tingles of muscle moving are enough to tell me that I'm working.  Those tingles all the way down my legs to my feet are all I need to know that I have worked my body in the way it needs.

I know that if I sit at my desk for four hours straight without getting up to stretch and walk for a bit, I am going to feel stiff.  I don't need a phone to remind me to get up.  I don't need an app to tell me that I took enough steps and have given my body the appropriate amount of movement.

Over the weekend, my kids and I went to the lake and swam for about half an hour.  I actually left my phone at home, and for a moment I wondered how one tracks the "steps" in the water.  I'm sure there's an app that I can input the information, but it frustrated me that I was even thinking that I had to find a way to computerize my movement in order to make it count.

How did we become so removed from the physical body we live in that we need a tiny little computer to tell us that we're doing enough?

To be continued.




06 July 2017

Natural Magic


I have always felt connected to the natural world and have always enjoyed time hiking, swimming, and basking in the beauty of the landscapes around me.  For a few years now I've been spending more time working towards being truly connected to the Earth.  Learning and paying close attention to how I react to the changing of the seasons, the moon in her phases of filling and releasing, and the energies brought by the position of the stars and planets in the sky and their relationships with each other.  I've spent time learning about the placement of it all when I was born and have discovered more that contributes to what makes me tick other than just the mere astrological sun sign I was brought Earthside under.

I've learned to trust my own body and soul when it tells me things.
My intuition has gotten stronger as I allow myself to become attuned to nature and the life around me that lives and breathes along with me.
The ground beneath my feet is alive and provides a sense of security when I stand upon it and allow myself to upload all the positive energy she wants to give me.
The wind comes to not only teach me to stand firm and allow my roots to stretch longer and become stronger in their holdings, but if I stand firm enough, I will allow it to carry away the things that have been clinging like dust that I haven't let myself shake off.
The rain washes over me, rinsing me clean of the despondent energies that sometimes attach themselves to me unasked.
The snow blankets all around me, offering security and safety underneath its' cover of calm, providing for rest and rejuvenation.
And every form of life that I pass by provides me with a lesson that I am able to see as an outside observer, mirroring things that I can't always see from inside my own self.

This has all come from stillness; from allowing myself to be awake, aware, and observe without preconceived ideas or expectations.  By detaching myself from the rush, the hurry, and the material obsession of the developed world around me, I am learning how to truly be a part of this very rewarding and simple existence rather than just functioning as a part of the complicated and suffocating system that has been created outside of it.

This writing was prompted as a full moon is coming again and I feel massive amounts of build up ready to be let loose. Writing is a release, after all.  Especially as I've already been in a process of shedding both physically and mentally. Surely as pounds have dropped off, unwanted energies have left along with them, just like it feels when you declutter a space in your house and all of the sudden you can feel the air move more freely.

Cancer is also a water sign and I have been feeling drawn to immersing myself in water.  Sounds like a pretty good time to find some and bathe under the light of the moon.





03 July 2017

The Good Kind of Progress


There is no end to the amount of wisdom you can find in nature.  Every moment I spend in the company of birds and trees, with my feet on the ground beneath me, is a moment that brings me more wisdom that can not be found in a book or on any website in the cyber world.

I have probably spent more time on this trail so far this year than any year in my life.  I don't always go the whole way to the top, and most of the time I take the "less steep" part of the trail that comes around the back of the rock face since it's easier for my dog, but regardless, I feel accomplished every single time.  My body thanks me every single time.  My mind thanks me every single time.

Because the reward is in the doing. It's in the getting out there on the trail even when it's 90 degrees outside.  It's pushing myself when it would be just as easy to say "oh it's been a long day, I'll just take a break today and get back out tomorrow." It's getting out there on the trail when you only have 20 minutes before the sun begins its' descent and the park closes because it was a terribly long and tough day and those 20 minutes are exactly what you need to find calm.

Because if you don't get out there today, you will be less likely to get out there tomorrow too.  And that's not progress.

Tonight, when I closed in on the switchbacks on the less steep part, I realized that I didn't stop even once to sit down and rest.  I continued on the rest of the way, to the top of the rocks, without stopping to rest at all, and then proceeded down without sitting to rest.  Just a few short weeks ago I was still frustrated over a lack of energy and shin splints that seemed to continue to discourage me even though I was incorporating more movement into every day.  I wondered when the fuck I was going to start seeing some real results.  It had been a month; certainly I should have felt more energy by then.

Tonight, the Universe rewarded me with proof of real progress, and for that I am even more motivated and thankful.



13 June 2017

Calling All Ingalls.....and Waltons

I spend a lot of my time feeling like I belong somewhere like Walnut Grove, co-habitating with my Charles Ingalls, spending my time in the fields, carrying my eggs to the Olsons and picking out some pretty new fabric to make some new clothes for my family. Except my Mrs. Olson is a total sweetheart and not at all that pretentious lady depicted in the series.
My ancestors lived somewhere between the Ingalls and the Waltons, not only living off the land and sustaining themselves with their own gardens and fruit trees, but also taking care of all their elders who also lived with them, and the others in the community who needed it (my Great Grandmother, a midwife, delivered all the babies in our part of Cumberland & Adams County "but her own"). A much simpler time for sure. One that, again, I often wish to be a part of.
But I digress. Right now I have a few breakers turned off (two weeks now since I can't seem to get a second or third estimate because out of a literal dozen different electric contractors, I either can't get a call back, they're busy, or Camp Hill is just too far for them to drive from - HA! those pansies would never have survived my Gardners to Harrisburg commute for TWENTY YEARS).
I digress again.
It's fine because I really don't need light in my bedroom at the moment because by the time it's dark I'm ready to sleep any way. And I don't usually bring electronics into my room. We're done in the kitchen by the time the light is down so I don't really need that light either. I have too much stuff to do outside in my yard and by the time I'm done with everything (including dinner and the dishes) I don't have time to sit in my living room and knit or read, so I don't need that either. I don't have a dryer and have hung my clothes to dry for about three years now so no big deal there either. Washer is still good. Fridge still hooked up. I do still have access to showering, so at least we're clean.
And now, they've torn up the road, and it's totally like Walnut Grove coming in and out. It's caused me to slow down on my lead foot and truly take my time on the drive today. I guess it'll be like this all week.
The point of all this? I keep saying I'm ready to get off the grid. The universe is certainly listening to my messages.

About Me

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40. mother. earth lover. mover. creater.