Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kicking the Sh*t out of Option B

My friend Helen and I like to refer to Mid-life as the 2nd Middle School. It's all that awkward ugliness all over again in grown up form. There's disappointment, confusion, frustration...all of it. There is no doubt I'm there...questioning it ALL, wondering how I got here and how it'll all play out. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

My soul is being searched. My losses are currently being mourned. And I'm now planning to "kick the sh*t out of option B."

I am learning that grief comes in all sorts of packages, but painful nonetheless. It has truly been a year of  pushing through for me and my little family. I've found myself pushing through grief in the form of the sudden loss of my closest friend and neighbor, parenting, marriage, and career struggles. Not to mention, exhausting and unhealthy relationships, and dreams that will never come to pass. I have cried A LOT. I have screamed at God numerous times. I have begged for mercy and guidance. I have questioned every single fiber of my wonderfully-made self. I have wanted to quit everything. I have felt repeatedly kicked while I was down. But did you know, while you're "down", you discover a lot of wisdom, grace, love, and good ol' "Option B", as Sheryl Sandberg calls it. 

While grieving the sudden loss of a friend who knew my every move for the last 10 years, and who was like family is still very raw, it is the of grace and love from friends and family that make the really difficult days a little more bearable. I have gained a greater appreciation for the old cliche..."life is short". And the concept of making a positive impact while we are here is far more brilliant than before. Through Robin's death I've learned to love more passionately! I no longer have her here with me, but I now have numerous new close{r} friends and a deeper connection to older friends because of her passing. I have felt God working through and in me these last 4 months. Her husband told me just a few days after she died that we all would have to take on being a little piece of Robin, because she just made this world a better, more interesting place. And it's true. Though it will never bring her back, our Option B is to keep her spirit alive through her love and passion for those she loved.

Losing someone special is never easy, and let's face it, neither is being a mom or wife! Marriage and parenting can sometimes feel like the most unrewarding, thankless, and difficult jobs we'll ever have. The worst part...there is no time-clock and there are no weekends off for either one. In recent months, there were days where I just didn't have it in me to play either role, because it seemed pointless. There. I said it. 
But here I am, because quitting is not an option and I know deep down, it isn't pointless.
I'm the wife to an awesome man I've been with for 24 years. And we promised to love, honor, and duke it out for the sake of each other until we're dead. And I birthed 3 handsome, smart, talented, frequently bull-headed, bundles of love {who, at times, test my patience and make me want to get in my car and drive as fast and far away as possible, and live off the crackers and french fries under the seat, and drink from the left over water and Gatorade bottles in the backseat}. But regardless, I love them so fiercely! So, Shan and I are pushing through Option B - for better or for worse! With some guidance we're learning to communicate more effectively and attempting to put the quality back in our time together. And even though we usually feel like we're peeing in the ocean, we're continuing to teach our boys how to effectively communicate, love all of them where they are, and praying that they see themselves as God does.

Meanwhile, there's this whole career thing. Do you ever really know what you want to be when you grow up anyway? This year posed many questions for us in our professional lives. Shan has been feeling less than fulfilled and wondering if he needs to change directions. My contract wasn't renewed back in July due to a financial crisis at the college. And we've both felt a whirlwind of emotions regarding our futures. I even went on a wild-goose hunt for another job. I had the pleasure of experiencing hard-core rejection a few times, which was awesome. {Insert sarcasm font}Then there were the interviews and offers that came my way that just fell short. So I stopped. I just decided to be still and know that God's got this. For me, being quiet and still is quite a job in and of itself. But while I have been "still", I have had time to search my soul, lifestyle, and goals to see what's going to work for me and my family. I may never have a cut-and-dry title - doctor, lawyer, teacher, realtor etc., because I've never been one to stuff myself into a box. I absolutely do know what I'm good at though, and I know God is using all those things to cook up a fantastic Option B for my family and I. 

That whole love is patient, love is kind passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It's for real. And when you start to feel all the things that love is not, it's your cue to get out. Friendships and relationships of all kinds. Those relationships are like sponges. They will suck the life out of you! It's not always easy, but it is completely necessary. Slowly, but surely, I'm making peace with the ones I'm having to let go. Option B? Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, because it is so much better than struggling to make certain relationships something they'll never be. Then, that is where God comes in to fill those holes and redirect your energy to the people who need it most. He needs us to get rid of the weeds to allow the fruitful, beautiful relationships that He scripted to blossom. 

I feel like it's the same way for dying dreams. You reach an age where you realize certain dreams will never come to pass. For me, it's a particular career, having a daughter of my own, giving my children a certain lifestyle, being a different size, etc. It hurts a lot to wave my white flag and surrender, knowing that these things just aren't possible. But dwelling on what will never be is only causing ridiculous amounts of negativity and pain. What I've learned is that letting go of these things is actually less painful than constantly mourning them. I've never been one to quit or give up without a fight. So it's really weird to have to throw up my hands and say "oh well". But it's all making way for Him to reveal His greater plan for my life. Option B..."Surrender", can be very bitter, but it is also far sweeter than I ever imagined.

I don't know why all of that had to come to a head in 2016. It was like a gigantic pimple that felt so good when it finally decided to pop! It all truly felt as gross as that sounds. Don't get me wrong! We've had our fair share of blessings and they have been counted numerous times and I'm usually not a Debbie-Downer on this here little blog. But all that muck may be why I haven't felt much like visiting this space. It's not really fun to write about pain and loss and the weight of a heavy heart makes it so hard to be perky. If you can relate, know I'm praying for you and that we can move into this new year...2017, recognizing and kicking the sh*t out of Option B.

Happy New Year!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hello... It's me.

Hello? It's me. I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet. To go over...everything...

That seems like a pretty good way to make my re-entry into Blog Vegas! And since life in the last few months has been kind of heavy in the Acres, I think I'm gonna re-enter with a recap of some good times.

Sound good? Good.

My little Fu-Man-Choo was cast as Augustus Gloop in the 5th grade play. He was absolutely perfect! And it couldn't have been a more fun production if they tried. It was some greatly welcomed comic relief after that darn election!

The highlight, according to Fulton, was getting to wear a fat suit!

Excuse the heads. And when will I ever learn to turn the phone the right way?

In case you didn't hear me screaming and crying from the mountain top, my long awaited 2015 Christmas surprise became a reality. I FINALLY GOT TO SEE ADELE!!! And it was quite possibly the greatest night of my life. Ever.

I went a little crazy and may have streamed it live on FB for my mom and sweet friend, Renata because they might be almost as obsessed. Unbelievable. That was Friday.

Shan and I don't get away very often so Saturday, we.slept.all.day. And that, was a very close second to the concert. We got a late dinner at the famous Pitty Pat's Porch - which is ridonkulously good. After dinner, our high school friend, Matt treated us to a night at his improv called Dad's Garage. If you're in the ATL and have time for a good laugh, please pay them a visit. Outstanding!

And the only way to really capture what a great weekend it was, is to make a cheesy video of course.

Early in October, we spent a fabulous weekend in Brevard with friends. We couldn't have asked for better company or weather.

And we celebrated no.14 for this guy! Whaaaat?

And 5 days later we celebrated no.42 for moi! Whaaaaaaaaaat?

How does a 42 year old celebrate, you ask? At the SC State Fair. With an elephant ear as a cake. And then if she's blessed with great friends, they take her out to dinner.

And October wouldn't be complete with me mentioning my favorite holiday, Halloween!

This year was weird. It was on a Monday and I have one trick or treater down. This momma is sad. I don't like this getting older thing. Not one bit.

This year we had "just Sam", some scary characters - a creepy jester and some kind of black phantom- and a superhero duo...Batman and Robin.

Oh and I can't forget...our hurricane party for hurricane Matthew - so fun -and Oliver's head injury on a natural disaster weekend with no power (only "good" because it wasn't serious and it was highly comical and ironic the way it all happened. And it gives us something to laugh about.).

September was a total blur. Total.blur. The only thing I really remember was this cool kid celebrating no.11, the Beautycounter for Target launch, and an AC Flora cheer reunion.

Any who. November is over halfway done and I'm absolutely giving thanks for all the things...big and small. Life is hard sometimes and I have recently been clinging to the good to keep perspective. And trust me, it has pulled me through every single time!

It was good to do a catch-up dump on this-here space on the interweb. I've missed it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 27, 2016

One More Card

Here we are 3 years after my Aunt Laynie passed away. And gosh! It's crazy how life goes on after you lose someone. In those first few moments it feels like it can't possibly go on, but looking back now, so much has happened. We've celebrated Christmases, birthdays, all sorts of holidays, family gatherings, and special achievements without her. It's strange and still really hard sometimes, but the great memories pull us through. 

Remembering her today has had me hunting down some of my favorite memories of her. I'm out of town, so I've been sifting through photos from FB and my blog just trying to feel her. Which led me to just what I needed to be able to "feel" her. 

I have this weird thing that I do, where I always save the last card I'm given or that my boys are given until the next occasion or birthday. Then I throw them out and save the newest one. I do it because you never know when it may be the last card or note that person gives you. I guess it's just a superstition of mine. But I can't help it! There's just something about the messages that I like to go back and read. Even if it's just "Love, So-n-so". And then there's something about seeing the person's handwriting and signature that's so very special and personal. Knowing their hands have touched the card and their thoughts streamed out by the strokes of the pen is very sentimental to me.  
Any who.
A few months before her passing, my Aunt Laynie knew her health was failing. I think we all knew it would be the last birthday she'd celebrate with me. All I wanted was "just one more card" on my birthday. Because she wasn't able to get out and about, I was afraid I wouldn't have my "one more card". My mom, knowing me and all my weirdness and how important that was to me, went to pick one out and took it to her to sign. It was so simple but the sweetest gesture on both their parts. Now, every time I look at it, it feels like I'm celebrating with her right then and there all over again. I will always treasure the thought put into making that birthday card happen. And I'm so incredibly thankful that I have my quirky little card saving tradition because there are days that I just need to read her message one more time. 
Missing you still, Laynie!