Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflections on #2017TheYearToSoar

I look to 2018 with much trepidation; I am still lying in a heap, licking the wounds that 2017 dealt me. #2017TheYearToSoar held so much promise. I had such lofty, yet attainable, goals and felt that I was embarking on the journey that I would later regale to others as my path to my success - and ahead of schedule, per my five year plan. It is now nearly the end of 2017, and I am shocked to report that I am nowhere near where I intended to be. How did this happen? I did, and continue to do, all the right things. How did I get HERE?

The impending New Year's Eve is what finally opened my eyes to the misconception I had been living. I needed to select my word for 2018, a word that would embody the next 365 days. I thought about 2017 and my word, SOAR, and I was embarrassed. I felt like I had just finished a trust exercise - on January 1st I was blindfolded and told to make it to the other side and here I am happily, peeling off the bandanna.

I started listing successes by the goals I had made and found myself having to be creative in my wording, to be able to claim a goal as accomplished. More than halfway through the third quarter, team 2017 sacked me at the ten yard line and left me laying lifeless. That entry hit hard but I continued reading down my unmarked list. Immediately I began excusing my actions, "You had a rough year. One of your best friends died, you should be proud you're upright." So what, I made it to the other side, big deal. Everyone has struggles and hurdles, there are times when we all have bad years - even decades. There are thousands of people, around the world, who were pummeled by life again and again and here I am, blaming my life for my lack of success.

The terrible events of my year are not responsible for my current state,  I am. I have been kicking and clawing my way through the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind; trying to put this hurt and anger in just the right box, because I had things to do. I told myself that I had goals and a plan, Josh would have wanted me to push forward. This lie led me through a maze of despair that perpetuated more negative coping mechanisms. How I dealt with the mayhem life served me was where things started going awry. I had become disconnected from my family and friends, I wasn't making enough decisions, I wasn't committed to my vision or my goals. I spent the last four months of the year scrambling to make up for my poor resolve.

Just like that, 2017 literally soared right by me and I barely have anything to show for those 365 days. I marinated in that stew of regret for an hour or two and decided, enough. I am putting on my pearls, tying back my hair, and rolling up my sleeves. 2018 will be the year to connect.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Life is too fleeting to hesitate. - JRS

Others had left my life and heart with huge holes, regret would creep in and take hold of my head and heart for days. You and I discussed my regret occasionally; you'd heave a heavy sigh and look off, thoughtfully, into your history. You explained the urgency of life and how I'd continue to pay for the moments of hesitation. You thought that the call to action I would feel my heart give was a warning of pain, to my brain. It was reminding me of the fragility of life and allowing me the chance to heal before the real hurt would inevitably come.

I took your words to heart. I believed it would protect me from feeling the devastation of loss in the future and I guess it did, in a way. My heart is not broken from the regret of moments not taken, instead I am haunted. I now relive that moment when I looked into your eyes and said, "I'm sorry but I have to," I leaned in to kiss your cheek and I held on too long as I hugged you goodbye.

I look back at that lovely weekend we all spent together and I slightly chuckle. You were right. My heart was warning me but thankfully this time, I listened. The time at the beach is well documented with pictures that you begrudgingly allowed me to take. We all woke up too early and stayed up too late, each day that we were together. We were all present and soaking in every moment - we were all together again.

The deliciousness of all our time together made it so difficult to leave that morning. We all got into our respective vehicles and began our journey home. Playful texts were exchanged between you and Bob as he recounted the 30 mile sob-fest I engaged in, as we departed. It was proclaimed that I cried for the appropriate amount of time that morning, as you thanked us both for an amazing weekend.

Sporadically peaceful sleep eludes me now and on those early mornings I lay in bed looking up at the ceiling, crying angry tears. I'm heartbroken to live another day without you but grateful that I was paying attention. When I was presented with the chance - I kissed you one last time, I held you so close and hugged you too tight.

Thank you for that, Josh.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Conversations with Cheetah

Previously I have described my probing conversations with Cheetah, the short morning and afternoon commutes quickly become a formal inquisition. The years have been racing by but the daily scrutiny has remained, but he has up-ed the ante. He stuns me daily, as his subject matters widely broaden, I imagine this is due to his veracious reading, YouTube viewing (he does so in the living room, under our screening - no parent shaming needed), and countless hours of video game playing.
He plays good cop/bad cop as he grills me for answers while testing the validity of the responses with additional inquiries and promises of "googling" when our discussion has ended. After nearly ten straight minutes of examination, I pull into the driveway hoping for a reprieve. I close my eyes and try to get my heart rate back into the safe zone, while beginning to replay my answers in my mind.
Did I respond to his question about Herpes too graphically? Maybe he is too concerned with what his classmates think of him. Why in the world did I try to describe the Holocaust by myself, when I know I become too passionate? How else was I supposed to approach a questions about sperm? Thank goodness all we talked about was bugs and lizards today. What did he mean by, "but he did throw like a girl?" These moments of reflection leave me ready for round two, which never goes as well as the round he initiated; but I attempt to solidify my point or opinion, as I watch his eyes slowly begin to glaze over...

And there en lies the problem, he is only prepared to actively listen when he is ready to discuss issues with me; which I am learning happens less and less, in direct correlation with the amount of birthdays he has experienced. I'm unsure if I should be proud that he is growing more aware of his environment, that he catches every detail and written word that is around him or if I should be worried that he seems too aware of the world around him and isn't more lost in the thoughts and musings of a care-free child.
Those concerns lead me to a realization, maybe that's why many school districts have a completely separate school for children of this age, Middle School. It must be a place dripping with angst, overrun with attitude, and full of students who's eyes are stuck in the "rolled position" - what a drastic change from the light, airy, and happy hallways of the cute elementary school he currently attends. He's nervous to make that jump to the new school full of older kids, and I'm down right terrified.
I do have an ace up my sleeve though, a friend who works as a Counselor in the Middle School that Cheetah will be attending. We've discussed what changes I can expect and she assures me that things aren't as scary as I am envisioning. She has almost convinced me that Middle School is a gift to parents. It's the time in which we can train our hearts and bodies for the marathon ahead; to prepare for a barrage of arguments, patience obliteration, and additional limit testing.
As I continue to enjoy our last year at elementary school, I invite you fellow parents to incoming Middle Schoolers to take this school year and summer to cuddle your kids - when they'll let you, enjoy your conversations with them about their friends and hobbies, and try to keep your cool under the bare bulb of the investigation room.