Over A Cliff

It’s no secret I’ve been in deep period of pain and self discovery the last couple of years. Long overdue grieving for the loss of my grandpa and my husband. Staring down the question of “who am I” when not defined by titles like mother or wife. I am damn proud of how far I’ve come. I haven’t done it alone and I know that. This very outlet had been part of the journey.

Lately I’ve been restless. Feeling disconnected from my faith. Questioning the growth. Losing my identity as an independent a bit as I’ve become part of an “us” again (def no regrets there!). I’ve recently begun listening to an audio book that has provoked some deep thinking.

I had an opportunity this weekend to share some of the feelings bubbling up with someone I trust implicitly with my thoughts. Between those conversations, my book, and what I believe is answered prayer I finally think I’m understanding where the restless is coming from.

I’ve reached a point in self discovery I could choose to be satisfied. OR this cliff I am standing on….the one that I can’t see ground below because it’s dark…I could choose to go over it and dig deeper. To return to the faith the distractions of life are pulling me from and hear what God was guiding me towards. I’ve done a lot of work. But I’ve also just stuck some of the feelings that are too painful in a box and put them on a shelf – compartmentalizing as the counselor calls it – and hoping to forget about them.

I kid you not….as I am writing this my bible app sent me this verse. Does it get any clearer than that?

It’s time to go over the cliff. To truly forgive those who have caused me pain and to forgive myself when I haven’t been the person I wanted to be. Yesterday is past and can only continue to hurt you if you can’t let go of it. It’s time to open the box, sort the feelings, and finish the journey. It’s time to love myself enough to finish the healing.

For those who have held my hand this far – I love you. I wouldn’t be on this planet today without you.

Choose you. Choose to believe that if you go over the cliff God will catch you.

Blessings y’all – Amy

All or Nothing

My counselor says that I am bad at seeing life as all or nothing. At LIVING life as all or nothing. Examples. Life is all good or it’s in shambles. I have to be perfect at my diet, exercise, work, etc or I am a failure. I have to be the best at how I do everything or I am letting down those closest to me. I have to love the best and do everything for everyone no matter what the effect on me.

Two years of counseling later and I still struggle with it. But have learned the signs of the rabbit hole enough to *sometimes* prevent myself from falling down it. Or at least enough to prevent myself from exhausting myself trying to be everything to everyone and putting my own needs last.

Here’s is the thing about all or nothing. That’s the same as black or white. But! Life is shades of gray. It’s messy and smudgy and requires a tree to bend in the wind lest it break.

It’s being patient when you’ve dieted good all week but eat a plate of Mexican food on Friday night. Diet isn’t over – you just had a treat. It’s getting back on the exercise plan after a week of coming straight home from work and watching TV and having popcorn for dinner because work is insane. It’s forgiving those closest to you for being inconsiderate and hateful instead of compassionate and kind. It’s giving someone the benefit of the doubt who you have only seen at their worst.

Living at extremes isn’t a healthy place for me. Living day in and day out terrified of my world changing caused me to hold on too tight. Finding balance, finding the gray, is still a daily challenge. Keeping a brain that is used to handling the worst life has to offer from going first to the dark place and never thinking of a positive alternative is hard as hell.

But learning that you are never too old to change? Definitely worth it.

Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.”

Never stop learning y’all. Never stop believing in yourself. In humanity. In the power to change yourself and that better things are on the horizon.

Blessings y’all – Amy

Reflections on 2021

I’ve heard all my life people say “what a difference a year makes”. Thought it was horse poo quite honestly. But 2021 was that year for me!

I started 2021 broken. Angry. Scared. Grieving. Did I mention angry? Sheesh. My whole world was flipped upside down. I couldn’t see daylight. I certainly never dreamed I would be where I sit today. Is everything perfect today? Nope. Would be lying if I said otherwise. Is it light years beyond this time last year? In every way conceivable.

Prayer Journal #3

Many things make up the changes. My counselor would tell you it was my own hard work. My brain would tell you it was my counselor and my tribe never leaving my side until I was steady…and unrelenting prayer. In 2021 I finished two prayer journals and reading back through them you can literally see the progression of my year. From prayers to survive the day, to prayers for my children’s health and safety, to the now thankful prayers for my blessings that start every day. 2021 took me to my knees and God was there.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I was reminded (again) that God made me a survivor and no one, not even my own family, can break me. I learned I have a voice and I am free to use it – and what it has to say will not always be liked and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I have to silently hurt.

I learned there are very bad people in this world who prey on people who are hurting (the dating world is an ugly place y’all) but with prayer God will put the right one right in front of you. I learned that despite years of telling myself people are lucky if they get one love that is not, in fact, the case if you open your heart and mind to God’s plan for your life.

Most importantly I learned happiness comes from the inside. It is not a result of anyone or anything. No one can bring you happiness or make you happy if you don’t do the work on yourself. They may make you feel that way for a short time but true overwhelming can’t stop smiling joy comes from a place inside where you have done the work on yourself and understand yourself. THAT is the biggest lesson 2021 leaves me with. I’ll never depend on another to bring me happiness. I will enjoy having a partner to share happiness, joy, and adventure with but will never lose sight of what I need to do for myself to take care of me. That doesn’t make me selfish or self centered or any of the other “self” derogatory labels – it makes me healthy and whole.

Blessings in 2022 y’all. It’s gonna be filled with love, laughter, and adventure in my world.

Amy

The Road I’m Taking Now

I have long believed that there are places that live in our heart that, when given the chance to return there, fill your happy tank in a way that is indescribable. Hot Springs as a whole is one of those places but within that magic town is a winding road up to the mountain tower. It’s tradition for our family to drive it before we head out of town. It’s also become tradition to take more than a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the area.

Hot Springs, AR

For me, today, this road had a different message. Today I could see the connection between this winding road and the path I’ve been on the last few years. I could appreciate the beauty of the landscape that masks the possibility of falling right over the steep edge. How many times have I fallen off the edge as I’ve worked on healing? How many times have I failed to appreciate the beauty that lies even in the fear and the pain? Too many to count.

Today I saw a road to follow that you can’t see the destination. I just have to start down it and have faith that around each corner or dip in the road that same road is still under me and in front of me carrying me to the next destination. I know that some of the positive message I took from this place is a reflection of the peaceful happy place I have reached in my heart but somehow it feels bigger than that.

How many time do we deviate from the path because we focus on one of the tiny details on the side of the road instead of having faith in the road we’re on? Faith is a hard thing sometimes. As humans we think we can fix, control, or change things that are out of our control. The reality is that we can’t change a thing. We have to put our faith in God and the road ahead no matter how hard.

The road I am on now has me focused on the future. On chasing dreams and having a life filled with joy and laughter. Letting go of the illusion that I could change anything about the road God set me on has cracked open my heart so wide it’s breathtaking.

Don’t be afraid of the road. Have faith and just start the journey. It’ll make you happier than you could ever dream of if you focus on the beauty instead of the pain.

Blessings y’all – Amy

Cracks & Light

I am listening to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and I’ve had to learn how to drive, listen, and take notes to not forget the key sentences that grab my attention. It’s a balancing act I probably shouldn’t be doing but ya know. 🤷🏻‍♀️

One such profound sentence – “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

You know those books you read (or listen to) that make you squirm with their dead on application to your life? Brene speaks about perfectionism being a cover for shame. As a shield for vulnerability. Lots of squirming going on over here….

As one of the perfection seeking individuals Brene is directly speaking about in this book I’ve gotten quite good at hiding my “cracks”. Or so I thought. A little extra good deed here, a little extra work there, just keep it all together and surely you must have it all together – right? Keep spackling those cracks no matter what. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that if I didn’t show any flaws people would love me more. Or more people would love me. Not sure which.

The work I am doing in counseling tells me that idea stems from an abusive childhood. Being told constantly that I wasn’t good enough. To do better. To do more. To be seen and not heard. To be quiet and not cause any trouble. To not have an opinion – and if I did keep it to myself if it will hurt someone else’s feelings. To follow the rules – no matter the cost. Even if that cost is my love tank constantly being on empty. I have an 8 year old inside me starving for love. Even now. Even after having been married to the most perfect and flawed but loving man on the planet. A man that knitted together a family to bring love and joy he always craved and a family that completed me. How can that be? How can I have known the love of my life and still feel starved for love? How can I still have cracks?

If what I am taking from Brene’s words is correct (and goodness knows it’s only my interpretation) then my understanding is this…. Those cracks aren’t all bad. Those cracks left from childhood allowed the light that was my husband into my heart. Those cracks let me be vulnerable enough to be a mother – the hardest most flawed job in the world. Those cracks are allowing me to discover, finally, who I am without the responsibility of another soul except the sixteen paws that love me unconditionally. Those cracks promise to bring love and light to my life again. I don’t have to be perfect. I just need to be vulnerable and have faith. Through having faith even when I want to just hide I know the light will come again. Because I still have plenty of cracks. ❤️

Blessings y’all – Amy

Another Trip Around The Sun

43. Who knew? For a girl that literally thought when she was 18 she never would see 30…43 is like getting bonus years.

In all seriousness, some of you know (but many don’t) that this time last year my depression was so bad I would have told you I didn’t want to live to see another birthday. I was locked in a battle of wills between a past I couldn’t let go of and a future I didn’t like or want. The result was a paralyzing soul crushing “there is no point” place. Only the thought of leaving my daughter with no parents on this Earth kept me here. And I’ll tell you openly there was more than one day even that was a slim slim thread. The darkness and pain had life so unbearable I honestly would have rather have been dead to have relief from it.

Many toss around terms like “crazy” or “nuts” for covering their own inability to understand the effects that depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts have on a person. It is so much easier to judge than wrap your brain around how terrifying it can be. “Just doing it for attention” or “all talk” are two of my least favorite pass offs I hear when someone is talking about someone else’s suffering. It is because of that type of non-understanding that those who suffer from those illnesses push them down. Hide them. Keep them away from the people who love them and need them despite the voices in their head telling them all those people would be better off. It’s those types of judgements that led the great Robin Williams to leave us instead of face his fan’s judgement if he told anyone how unhappy he was. Despite how far society has come in understanding mental illness it has SO FAR to go in grace, compassion, and kindness for those who suffer.

Through so much love and support this last year – support coming from places I didn’t expect – I am deep in counseling and medical treatment of a disease I will never be rid of. It was a genetic “gift” from both sides of my lineage and one I finally understand I’ll never escape. I can manage it. I can ask for help on the bad days. I can watch for signs I’m hurting the ones I love in my own pain. I can be open and honest in my struggle so someone else will make the right choice in that darkest hour.

But I’ll always be a little bit broken. God made me that way. Perfectly imperfect! I may not know or understand His purpose for me every day but right now I think some of it is to use my voice to share my journey so maybe others have a shorter path to recovery. Life is messy. It’s ugly. Feeling alone and hurting in the agony is excruciating.

As I reflect on starting another year on this planet I can tell you I have hope. I believe God has me exactly where I am supposed to be. I have faith each of my children are firmly in His hands and that God can protect them far better than I can. I have peace that Fred and I raised good kids who will put good into the world. I have hope there is someone out there for me to share my life with. Not someone to replace my Fred – there is no replacement. But someone who can love me understanding all that I have been through before him. I have God protecting me and the ability to talk to Him daily for probably the first time in my life. I have a job I adore that supports all the changes this past year has brought me and pushes me to follow through with taking care of myself. I am grateful that I am still here. I have far to go but from where I was a year ago? Sheesh. I feel lucky to be alive.

Ok.. enough pontificating. Birthday celebrations about to happen.

Peace y’all. Love each other. Be kind. Life is precious and short. Make every moment count. ❤️

Let’s Get Sailing!

It’s time. It’s happening. The crew is in stateside and in quarantine. The CDC has finally backed off the industry. The ships are in place. CRUISING IS BACK.

If I didn’t already have a summer vacation in place as an alternate because I had no idea what the cruise industry was going to be allowed to do I would be on that first ship sailing on July 3rd. I would be kneeling at the end of the gangplank worshiping my favorite form of travel. There would probably be tears.

Some of you think I am kidding. Those of you who really know me? Know that I am absolutely 100% not kidding. Ships being shuddered to a stop this last 18 months has impacted my health. My mental health.

You see some people travel just for fun. I travel to keep my sanity. I operate daily on a breakneck all out pace. My mind never stops and never gets a break. When I step on a ship I stop. Just full on stop. I sit on a bar stool (geez that sounds bad) at my favorite bar either with old friends (my last cruise was literally booked to be with two of my favorite bartenders before they went on vacation) or with people who will be friends by the end of a week. It is so polar opposite in behavior it’s sinful in it’s blissfulness. Factor in on top of that having someone else cook and clean for me for a week. And my astrologically signed Cancer heart being surrounded by water for a week? PARADISE.

So to say I’m excited about those beautiful ships setting sail? Just a little. I have massaged what is left of my vacation time nine ways to Sunday to see if I can fit in a cruise between now and my Thanksgiving cruise. (Did I mention I scheduled one of those as soon as the industry was green lighted?) Unfortunately I can’t make an extra week work but I am counting the days until Thanksgiving. Meanwhile I’ve checked in with the friends who became family (Carnival crew members) to see who is landing on which ships so I know who’s neck I get to hug first.

Let’s sail away people!