Another Year Has Come and Gone…

Another year has gone by…on Friday I’ll be another year older. Wiser? Eh, in ways… The changes in my life between July 1st 2021 and now are too many to list. A year ago today I was in Memphis with Bev. Exploring Graceland for the first time. Learning about Elvis and not having any idea I was interested…left with a hunger to return. Even then not seeing the running I was doing to avoid the work I needed to be doing. Healing from the inside out – looking hard at where you are broken – is time consuming and challenging. But worth EVERY minute of the work. Life is so much bigger when you can look beyond yourself…

Sometime in the last year I found a peace inside that you can’t understand until you find it. Not a mediating yoga statue kind of peace but an I’m ok, life is ok, and everything is gonna work out kind of peace. Is everything in my world perfect? Nope. I miss my son. Always will but am proud as hell he’s living his journey his way. I didn’t learn to do that until 40+ years old. Has life moved on past a point I couldn’t see a year ago? Yep. A year ago I didn’t know who I was outside of Lee & Em’s mom and Fred’s widow. I didn’t have a real relationship with my oldest kiddo. I lived to work before and now I work to live. Sad, really, as I think about it now but I had absolutely no idea who the hell I was. My life revolved around other people. My existence was to serve others. I was used to being the nucleus of other’s worlds. When those roles didn’t exist anymore – not in a full time need to be fulfilled way – what the heck?

What I found, through counseling and prayer, was someone inside that I kind of dig. I found my girls. I found the parts of me I can see in them that I was missing before. I have some cool as hell daughters y’all! I found sunshine again. I found someone to love me who I love deeply. I found a heart that wasn’t broken beyond repair – it just needed some work. I found a heart that can love deeper when it’s healthy than it ever could when it was scarred and traumatized.

But more than all of that I found a voice. I found the wild child inside that wants to drive a Jeep and have crazy adventures and be unapologetic about it. The woman inside who was too afraid people wouldn’t like her if they saw THAT woman. That woman lives forefront now. You may not like all of my decisions but I live by what I believe is right and by what I, me, myself and no one else has to live with. What I think matters. What I have to say may piss you off but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. I could light a fire under a lot of people with issues I’ve found I am deeply passionate about.

But back to Friday. Birthdays wig me out. There is some trauma that is still there from childhood (my parents sucked!). But already the love and thoughtfulness Tim and the girls have shown has made this year different. It stinks Tim and I will be apart on our birthday (did I mention we share a birthday?!?)…but it’s been a special day already. I’ve got a big week planned with people I love dearly and that, my friends, is what life is all about.

Live LOUD peeps. Life is too short to do anything but!

Blessings y’all – Amy

Invisible Boundaries

It may be as simple as you buy the laundry detergent your mom always used. Using the same kind of pens your first boss did (twenty years ago). Or never doing XYZ because someone important to you told you not to. Can you think of something you “always/never” do that you never stopped to think about why or that you just accepted as a fact without asking yourself why?

I ran smack into a couple of those this weekend. Let me explain. I’ve been watching the value of my Suburban for some time now with this crazy car economy. Wanting to get out of it at the end of the warranty and while I could get dang near as much as I paid for it (!). Then gas prices skyrocketed and I watched 25% of the value evaporate seemingly overnight last week. 🙄

Cue the tedious task of car shopping. In my family “we hate Fords”. Couldn’t tell you when or why that started but it’s a knowledge I grew up with from my grandpa. Yet – I felt myself drawn to the new Bronco’s. Went to look at those Saturday and that was a disaster story for another day and suffice to say – I still hate Fords. But the sporty feeling of the Bronco was clearly a Jeep knock off. The words that came out of my mouth were “I can’t have a Jeep”. The response I got was “why”.

“Fred said I can’t” – my answer

Awkward silence. Ummm. Yah. Invisible boundary. Rule I live(d) by without question. Fred’s reason, I knew, is that I drive like a crazy person and Jeep’s roll. But alas, I am a grown person capable of a) slowing the hell down and b) deciding what kind of car I want. I also wanted a truck. Because I love my yard and if you had ever seen what I hauled in that Suburban you would understand why I needed a truck. But a truck didn’t get me away from the reason I was moving away from the suburban…a gas guzzling beast of a vehicle.

A trip to the Jeep dealership landed me in wild never before thought of territory. A Jeep Gladiator. The very car I made fun of as “a Jeep that swallowed a truck and didn’t fully digest it”. 😬 But oooohhh it rides high enough that this short girl can see. Aaaahhhh it’s sporty. Ummmmm it has a truck bed. Well hell. It also comes in my favorite color – OCEAN BLUE. Dang it.

Meet my new gal. Currently being referred to as “Dory”. As in Finding Nemo. Not sure that’s the final name but sure is sticking so far.

When I say I went from one end of the emotional spectrum and back like I have NEVER on buying a car – geez. I was almost daring that dang sales guy to not giving me what I wanted for the suburban. Buying Dory meant crossing the invisible boundary in my mind laid by Fred about owning a Jeep. It meant letting go of driving a Suburban. Fred and I’s long time goal car and what I have driven since he died. Saying goodbye to driving a “mom” car and all the years spent shuffling kids and friends and STUFF everywhere. Saying goodbye really to that chapter of my life and this being another step towards this next chapter I’ve been working on for two years. It was dang hard.

With Tim’s sweet patient style and a few tears I got it done. And my challenge for you today is to ask yourself what you do in your life that is just because you “always” have. Or because it’s an invisible boundary someone (or you) laid for you. And then cross it. Big or small.

We only keep growing when we keep pushing ourselves. It’s hard. It takes work. Frankly it can suck eggs. But’s it’s what makes life interesting.

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

Proud To Be An American

As a kid in school I aced history. Not because I actually absorbed it but because I had a photographic memory and could just spit out what I needed to to ace tests and quizzes. As I wandered around Washington, DC yesterday how I wished I’d retained more of that info than I had!

I came to DC with the “standard” list of places to see. You know – the ones we see on TV? The Washington Monument from Forrest Gump… “Jenny? Jenny!” Lincoln. The White House. Along with the Arlington National Cemetery with Trace Atkins’ “Arlington” echoing in my head and visions of my husband crying every time he heard it. Every. Single. Time.

I also came conflicted about the trip due to things going on at home. My heart heavy and unsure if sightseeing was what I wanted to do.

When we left the car rental place and I started catching glimpses of things I had only seen on TV as Amy navigated DC roads (so thankful she drove so I could gawk), the air felt different. To me anyway. When we parked and walked up to the Washington Monument encircled with American flags at half mast I felt the same charge in the air that I felt previously at the 9/11 memorial in NYC. I knew other people were there but, for me anyway, I could feel the men who weren’t there. Those the monument represents. Our founding fathers that built this great country.

From there we walked into the WWII memorial. A lot to take in. Each pillar represents one of the 56 US states and territories. Then there is the wall of gold stars. That one got me. Each gold star represents 100 American military deaths…and there are 4,048 stars. So many lives given in service to our country.

World War II Memorial

It was a long walk to Lincoln. I was unprepared for how LARGE he is in person. It never looked like that on TV. It was really cool how deeply respectful people were inside the covered area near him. That is just something not seen very often anymore. The other thing I noted through all three places is there wasn’t the usual hocking of souvenir merchandise! No vendors in your face. It was hallowed ground.

Walking into the Korean War memorial…my grandpa served in Korea. I felt my gut clench and my heart ache. I miss my grandpa so. How I wish he had been there to tell me all the things I knew he could have told me. I heard a lady telling her kids as they walked by “their feet were never dry…” that I am sure was part of a larger story. I’m sure some of the nostalgia is the recognition that yet another part of my history in my grandma, and the stories that go with her, is about to pass but man….

Korea War Memorial

Next stop in our day was back to the White House for me to actually take pictures. We had driven by that morning but I didn’t expect to want to do more than that. Somewhere in the mornings’ activity I realized it was the freakin’ White House and regardless of political views I was here and needed to do more than just drive by. 😬

We had a loop planned from here. We went to the National Cathedral. We couldn’t go in but what a beautiful building. We went to Georgetown for lunch. Hello crab dip and crab cakes. Ironically landed at the sister restaurant of our breakfast stop without meaning to (highly recommend both).

Then the cemetery. Anxious about this one because I knew it would be sobering but also something I really really wanted to see. We somehow managed to time it where we got to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. If you do nothing else on a trip to DC? Do that. It brings the honor and respect all our military deserves right to the forefront of your mind. Side note: was super excited to see one of the guards on the change out be a female.

We also saw a horse drawn carriage with soldiers in full uniform taking a casket through the cemetery to a service. No words. Simply no words.

Winding our way through the hills of headstones, the quiet air in the cemetery reminding you it’s sacred space, just weighs your heart down. For me the repetitive thought was “every person here died for the freedom to do this”. How do I honor that? How do I repay that debt?

A sea of reminders of people who died for my freedom

Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” has always been one of my favorite songs. I can remember almost blowing out a speaker after 9/11 playing it on an endless loop. My favorite part of the song?

“And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.”

What I felt so strongly yesterday was if every American could feel what I felt yesterday there would be no division in this great land. We all bleed the same. There is no race or ethnicity under that sea of headstones in that sacred space. We are all simply bound by the ideas of some amazing men who foresaw what this country could be and worked to make it so. We have a rich history and amazing freedoms others aren’t lucky enough to have. THAT makes me proud to be an American. 🇺🇸