Category Archives: Hopeful

Giddy at Fifty

In exactly 7 days, I will turn 50 years old … yes, me turning 50!  I am over the moon ecstatic.  I never thought I would reach this age.  I am a cancer survivor, a crisis survivor, continue to battle PTSD and depression.   I have lost so many loved ones when they were too young – my brother 25 yo, my Dad 57 yo, my fiance 37 yo, aunt 35 yo … I had decided that was my fate as well.  I have spent most of my life thinking I was running out of time.  I lived in the past or in the moment, never fully preparing nor planning a future.

I am almost halfway to 100 and I am so giddy lately.  I am finally midlife.   I will be half of a century old.  How downright exciting … to be me right now??   I am about to finally reach a true milestone and with this I have learned that a happy life starts at whatever age you finally grow up and realize that it’s yours to live … not dictated by family nor work.  It’s all mine.

Sure, I am not naive enough to think it will all be smooth sailing here on out.  I have been through too much to believe that.  But I have been through so much already, I know I can get through whatever life throws at me.

I do worry at times, financially I am not in a good place; nor romantically…even professionally.  Could I have accomplished more?  Sure.  I have spent way too many years in the past.  I no longer live there.  I have hibernated enough.  I have compromised enough.  I have sacrificed enough.  Cancer, regret, loss, crisis, compromise, sacrifice – all have changed the course of my ideal life.   I still have many anxious moments – I still work hard each day to keep my fears and demons at bay.  I have learned and accepted that even with the best planning, we are never fully in control of our own destiny. This lessons learned has come with a high price in my life; it’s a benefit that I have been gifted with the act of getting older, being wise, being experienced.  I am fortunate enough to understand that growth in life doesn’t just stop midlife – it’s a continual realigning, reevaluating, realizing, reexamining, renewing, reconnecting, reacquainting and renewing…and loving the alliteration as always … finally relaxing and just accepting me … yes ME.

Learning as I turn 50, there is so much of life to look back on …and there is so much more to do.  I live for all my loved ones who died too young.  I live for me.  Turning 50 is great because I am still here.  I have learned to be my own cheerleader, my own support system.  I am a survivor.  I have found my smile even through my tears.  I fight through any pain, any sadness, any setback.  I look in the mirror and am happy to see wrinkles, even the gray hair and the love handles.  I have earned this life.  I have lived this life.  And I will continue …. with hope in my heart and grace in my step.  #JustT

 

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39 More Days

Only 39 days left until Sunday – January 1, 2017!  39!!  I don’t know where the time goes.  Most days, it all seems to pass in a blur … a blur of depression, sadness, hurt, tiredness.  The past two years, I have to admit, has seen me at my most vulnerable in real time and not just via words on my blog.  I have had some heart-to-heart conversations with family and so-called friends who have hurt me or not been there for me in my darkest hours.  I have done a lot of de-cluttering of my life.  I may still be alone, but I am at peace.

I have tried to make each year better but I failed so many times.   I pray that 2017 is it – the biggest year for me yet.  I have been living off the radar, under the bar for so long.  Now I just want to shine bright.  I want to be noticed – I want to be appreciated.

I wish I knew now what I have learned while dealing with the death of so many loved ones back-to-back.  I believe I wouldn’t have lost so many good years due to my mourning.  I put myself in such a dark place, such a sinking hole.

Ironically, I have complained that I had no support system but honestly I realize now how much I cut people out, and how easy immediate family made it for me.  As for new friends, I rarely let new people in my life the past 15 years.  Working hard on trying now.   I need and want people in my life – but worthy, deserving people.  I want to be able to build each other up, not tear each other down.

For so many years, being strong found me pretending to be okay.  I didn’t want to appear weak.  But this pretending came with a very high cost which I am still paying the price.  I shut people out, I lost interest in so many things, I gave up, I let depression and PTSD keep me mired down in grief.  I hid parts of me away.  I would not get really close to anyone.  I kept to myself, isolated.  I didn’t want to be completely vulnerable nor have anyone worry about me.  So today, I have no support system and no one is worried about me.  I guess I ultimately got what I thought I wanted.  Emotional seclusion instead of a complete and utter breakdown is where I have been residing.  And the few times I have let myself be honest, forthcoming, and vulnerable, I have been met with lack of understanding.  So I withdrew even more.

It’s such a cycle.  When a person like me who is already an introvert, keeps everything inside, never fully accepting how messed up I really was, it’s all downhill from there.  I find myself trying so hard to crawl out of the dungeon I found myself in.  Writing has helped me tremendously.  Social media  has helped me as well – I get to be somewhat social without actually investing in friendships too much or sharing true intimacy.   It has provided an outlet – a necessary one.  I need to search and bare my soul.  I need some guidance, acceptance, understanding – even if it at first it appears shallow.  We all need to feel connected.   I’m thankful that social media has brought people back into my life. To me, the past few years have been a rebirth for me – learning how to crawl, walk, talk … all over again.  Now I am more than ready to spread my wings and fly away … with hope in my heart and grace in my step.


Linger …

Today …  a very new friend of mine is traveling from NYC to Iceland for 14 days and I find myself obsessed with the very thought of him lingering in my mind, in my thoughts, in my random smile.  As I write, think on this, I hear the song, “Linger” by the Cranberries. Signs are everywhere, if you keep your mind and heart open to them.

I always tend to attempt dating each and every summer … and those months starting with the letter J!  Being June already is no different.  What is different is actually believing this may be a real possibility of me finding myself again, of falling in love – that I won’t get bored, distracted, jaded, disillusioned, overwhelmed.  I won’t make excuses, and go back into hibernation.  I am nearing the end of my 40s and I don’t plan on being alone.  I owe it to myself, and to my Michael’s forever love for me to keep moving forward, accepting love, and no more settling.

We all wish to be wanted, desired – I can easily admit that I need it.
We all want to be understood –  I will no longer settle for less.

I have had so many people I love die way too young.  I want to live with purpose, live more fully for them as well as for myself.  Life moves too fast.  In a blink, you can have it all and lose it all as quickly.

This week, I find myself more alive, carefree.  Wanting … wanting not to be alone.

Longing to be held by strong arms. Feel my fingers entwined with another’s.

Living to anticipate a kiss that takes my breath away …  again.
Looking forward to staying awake until the sun rises.

I want to slow down and listen, breathe it all in.

I want to stare into his eyes, get lost in reliving the moments.

I want to be free to be me around him.
I will sit quietly and wonder if he dares to let our lips linger without fully kissing, breathing me in and holding me tight.

I wish time could stop … I wish I could stop time –  so we can linger.
An honest life is made of moments of both good and bad – I fully understand this.  But right this minute, this instance, this small moment in time, I want my conversations with him to linger … and when I sigh, I want him to sigh.

Is this all too much to wish upon? No – already our conversation linger on my lips …  as always with grace in my step, hope in my heart, smile on my lips …

 

 

 


Glimpse of a Genuine Smile

I am so tired of plastering a fake smile on my face, crying in the inside, keeping my tears at bay.  I just need a few hours with someone who I think understands me, my life, who cares enough to ask me about my day.  I am so lost most of the time, so alone … especially when surrounded by people.

But last night, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with some childhood, neighborhood friends and I found myself smiling, a genuine, sincere smile that starts at my heart and ends on my face.

Social media can be a good thing if used wisely.  I reconnected with a beautiful brother and sister who will forever be my step bother and sister.  Their Mom and my Dad dated while both were were separated.  Fast forward 30 years …we met for dinner, laughter, reminisced, laughed some more.  I went home with a genuine smile.  It felt so nice.  Even if fleeting.  I get lucky and appreciate those rare moments when I feel connected, loved, cared for and my smile makes an appearance.

I have always suffered from smiling depression.  Just put on a smile, brace myself, and get through the day.  It wears me out though.  Its exhausting.  Constantly hiding my sadness, my palpable misery behind a happy mask just keeps me at arms length from most people.  I get near but never fully close enough to someone. Always find myself on the periphery of their lives and even of my own.

The pain of getting close, of losing someone again, of struggling to get out of bed, the anxiety of learning how to breathe each minute of each day is too overwhelming most days.  So I smile, lean in, and pretend just about every day.

I go to work, to the doctors, out to dinner … I take tons of photos …of my food, desserts … I dress up, put make up on, get my hair, nails done, take selfies.  I am sure 90% of the time to the outside world, no one can see my struggle. How can they when I paint such a pretty picture?!  I hold down a part-time job, run a family, stay active but that frayed tethering line of rope just barely visible to me at times – somehow keeps me going – all the while I suffer for the most part in silence with panic attacks, insomnia, crushing low self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts.  I do share my story more these days, not like 10 years ago when I was too depressed to get out of bed, too weak to allow anyone in, before social media, before my blog.  Now I vent, share, open myself up more.  I work hard each and every day on trying to put myself out there.  Even if depletes me by the end of the day.

I have learned to keep negative, self serving people at arm’s length and I find myself being more appreciative of the smaller, less tangible things.  Gratitude really changed my life.

Sincerity, honesty, acceptance, sharing all have changed my life … so with tears in my eyes, smile on my face, hope in my heart, grace in my step … I move forward.  Looking forward to reconnecting, finding my genuine smile.

 

 


Hmmm … arm candy!

So lately, I have been all about the skies, food, sweets, wine, shoes, and last but not least bangles …  my latest craze in arm candy.  But I think I may have just found another form of arm candy … the younger man.

Yes!  Now I am playing cougar.  Who knew?!  A former co-worker and I have re-connected on social media.  We have met up as friends but now he is pouring his heart out to me about love, relationship … with me.  So, I am trying to keep an open mind.

I have been having issues trying to date in my age range. We all have baggage – some more than others.  Learning, that with a younger man there is definitely less baggage. I won’t have decades of past relationships and other issues to deal with. I don’t have to worry about his ex-wife and children — it will be all about the two of us.  And right now, at this point in my life – it’s what I want and deserve, Growing tired of playing it safe, of being alone.  I like to be chased, adored.

I was always a bit of a late-bloomer, and being with a younger man may just somehow keep me in a forever-inspired mode.  My younger friend may have less, but gives more.  I am in a non-settling frame of mind.

One of my favorite aunts was in town last month and she started telling me how lucky she was to have married a younger man – her second chance at love. She was widowed at a young age with small children when she found her second chance. She had a stroke two years ago and was feeling fortunate her husband is healthy and younger. She also told me that he was less judgmental, less traditional, less bound by stereotype – which has helped her in many ways to being happier, even a better mom. She had me thinking … then bam, he comes back into my life – this time not as a co-worker, but a friend.

Who knows…I am not making any decisions, I don’t need to. I am just taking it one minute at a time. Enjoying life. Trying to worry less, stay sane and get healthier. I am going to stop worrying so much about what others may think, stop wondering what this younger guy sees in me, and just enjoy the attention. I deserve every flattering, delicious moment … so I plan to sit back and continue counting my blessings and start looking for this Maca root from the jungles of Peru.

Looking forward to finally, freely living some more, to have my emotions raw, to the potential and the possibilities of having my body, mind, and soul literally rocked … ah nirvana may indeed be mine. Fulfillment, contentment … indeed … on my journey of living deliciously with grace in my step, hope in my heart. I am back …


I Am Worthy

Thanks to a great friend with a beautiful soul, I was reminded that I am worthy of so much more than what I am going through. Then I came across these quotes and it just turned my entire day, week around. Thank you…you know who you are.

You are not useless. You are not hopeless. And no matter how scared you are, you will never be alone. And deep down, somewhere, in the part of you that decided the good days and your happiness and your health were all worth fighting for, you know that, too. Hold onto that knowledge. It will see you through the worst. – Ella Ceron

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. – Maya Angelou

Some people will never ‘get you’. Do not spend eternity asking why. People will see you differently, just cherish those who lift your soul. – Dodinsky’s Garden of Thoughts

The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed. – Ernest Hemingway

I refuse to be destroyed though. Not letting my struggles become my identity… I still know how to smile. I know how to love. I know how to live. More importantly, I know how to put one foot in front of the other … with grace in my step, hope in my heart…

You’ll meet her, she’s very pretty, even though sometimes she’s sad for many days at a time. You’ll see, when she smiles, you’ll love her. – Pan’s Labyrinth YES! Me! Worthy of all good things.


How Could This Happen to Me

I get lost in words. I live for words. My mind is one jumbled mess of words – some that fight to get out, others hiding in its own secret place, tucked away for the right person to come along to hear them. I sit here with so many drugs cursing my veins, as much as I want to cry the next few hours away, I laugh thanks to my wonderful friends who come to me in the form of real-life angels. They send me funny texts, uplifting – even reminding me how beautiful I truly am. I wanted to write, write and some more – take some of the words in my head and put them to concrete thoughts but just can’t get passed mere rambled thoughts. So I listen to music. I tune out the world. Trying to be oblivious to all. Sometimes I succeed. Music can be so very therapeutic. Here is a great song that captures my feelings right now….

“How Could This Happen To Me”

I open my eyes
I try to see but I’m blinded by the white light
I can’t remember how
I can’t remember why
I’m lying here tonight

And I can’t stand the pain
And I can’t make it go away
No I can’t stand the pain

How could this happen to me
I made my mistakes
I’ve got no where to run
The night goes on
As I’m fading away
I’m sick of this life
I just wanna scream
How could this happen to me

Everybody’s screaming
I try to make a sound but no one hears me
I’m slipping off the edge
I’m hanging by a thread
I wanna start this over again

So I try to hold onto a time when nothing mattered
And I can’t explain what happened
And I can’t erase the things that I’ve done
No I can’t

How could this happen to me
I made my mistakes
I’ve got no where to run
The night goes on
As I’m fading away
I’m sick of this life
I just wanna scream
How could this happen to me

I made my mistakes
I’ve got no where to run
The night goes on
As I’m fading away
I’m sick of this life
I just wanna scream
How could this happen to me …


Every second, everything changes…

They say cats have nine lives…well, I am beginning to believe so do I. I know I have had many health scares. And it has changed me in a way I am still fully learning to understand and accept. But today, once again, I got some positive news from my doctors. For months, I feel like I have given up. I just don’t have the best support system. Easy to give up – when you feel so alone. Picking out headstones, finalizing my living will, giving away my clothes, furniture. But today, doc told me the cancer stopped spreading. And although I am far from out of the woods, I may, just may, once again outlive my prognosis. I sit here, outside in NYC at Central Park crying as I try to write this. I don’t think many can understand how I feel. I almost completely gave up. I know I did. But I am over the moon happy that this stupid smiling depression of mine didn’t get the best of me. I was born a preemie and I will always be a fighter. I know this deep down inside. I just lost sight of it for awhile. I was barely hanging on. But I am finding the strength somehow to keep moving forward. Living with a death sentence hovering is, was, will be – my own prison. Few things in life, can forever change a person. Getting a diagnosis of cancer just puts things in perspective but then pain can make us lose that just as easily. Focus shifts. Goals change. Desires lost. Seconds turn into years. Cramming a lifetime into days. I have been doing this all my adult life. Pushing people away. Begging them to stay. Cursing. Praying. Hoping. Letting go. Learning. Crying. Screaming. Accepting.

Many don’t understand that tomorrow is not a given. I lost my way for a bit, as I always do. But I remain hopeful that tomorrow will come. …that many tomorrows are still here for me. I feel like I am cheating death. And maybe I am just living life…to the fullest. Not looking backwards. Time. Timing. Timeless. Who knew the aggressive cancer would respond so much better than expected to my last course of treatment? I didn’t. I would have bet all I had – oh wait, I did. I am still in shock I think, as I write. Not sure why, I have been here before. This should be home for me. Being sick has been my stability. Sounds crazy but that has been my label for too many years. Immune system shot. I get sick at the mere mention of a cold. But today’s news, and the way I have been feeling the last couple of weeks, has me happier than I dare to believe. Do I dare hope? One minute I am fighting to literally breathe, the next I just give up, resign myself to dying, and now I can’t stop smiling. Life. This is my life…the pain, loss of strength, nausea, weight fluctuations, exhaustion, and shortness of breath are beginning to gradually fade. I know my body is healing…I can go up and down the stairs without gasping, less pressure from the tumors in my chest, weight stable, can enjoy food again, more positive outlook is evolving. Weeks have turned into months, and I pray against all that my next scan will show that the cancer is in remission. A girl can dream. Yes. Now I just have to figure out my life. For months, my life meant dying. I have been preparing for death. I am ruined financially. I am fragile. I am happy but shocked. I don’t know what to do now. I wasn’t expecting to be brought back from the edge of death. Learning how to live. *sigh* That is always my dilemma. Do I allow myself the luxury?

So I will never stop thinking or asking my doctors, “Am I dying?” I’m just not quite sure where I am and what I should be doing. I understand that the cancer will at some point take my life but not today. Sometimes doctors don’t have all the answers. Only God does. And He spared me once again. I guess my job here on earth is not completed. And for that I am grateful. A huge part of me apprehensive. So I am going to go out there and continue to live my life. Trying. It’s almost like I have been living in reverse somehow.

On a logical level, we all know life is short. We say this all of the time. But few of us actually live accordingly.

“We are all dying, every moment that passes of every day. That is the inescapable truth of this existence. It is a truth that can paralyze us with fear, or one that can energize us with impatience, with the desire to explore and experience, with the hope- nay, the iron-will!- to find a memory in every action. To be alive, under sunshine, or starlight, in weather fair or stormy. To dance with every step, be they through gardens of flowers or through deep snows.” ― R.A. Salvatore

Truer words have not been expressed … LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

I remain forever hopeful, crying through my tears with grace in my step …make that dance steps.

Today…everything changed.


Mental Health

Today is National Depression Screening Day, ‪Bipolar Awareness Day, and ‪‎World Mental Health Day. I have lived all my life with family members who are manic, depressed, alcoholic dependent, and have extreme personality mood swings, and are most times than not in complete denial. I myself suffer from depression and all too aware. I know sometimes when I look back, I am completely lost. We all need to work together to work on increasing our awareness, acceptance and be more patient. Help eliminate the stigma.

This quote by Spike Milligan resonates with me: ‘It’s a gift and a curse. You get the pain much worse than anybody else, but you see a sunrise much more beautiful than anybody else!’

This is how I feel so many times…You start to wonder if maybe something has come over her and she’s finally coming around. Maybe this is the start of something better, more peace, less tension. You even get a little upset wondering, “Well why can’t she just be like this?” And that’s the part that keeps you sucked in, thinking she can someday rehabilitate her attitude and behaviors toward you after all this time. My expectations were always off track. I felt that I just held onto just hope. But I learned that sometimes it’s that very hope – false hope – that keeps us inappropriately connected. You want what you can’t have – a mom who’s proud of you, a grandma who doesn’t pit people against each other, a sister you can trust. When you can accept the face value of your painful situation instead of the fantasy, it gets easier to live with.

Now that doesn’t mean you alienate yourself from the very people you love but drag you so deep down. Sometimes we just have to be inwardly and outwardly strong, brave, patient. Breathe. Count to ten. Limit the contact. Call once in a while, be around for two hours at Christmas, or have dinner once a month. You may need to set some strong boundaries when they start to treat you poorly. That might mean getting up and leaving their house, hanging up the phone, carefully choose what gatherings you attend, etc. And truthfully, it means setting your expectations pretty low. Casual activity that doesn’t get emotional is ideal, unless they are so destructive you should cut them off completely. Lucky for me I have not had to cut any family member out completely.

Sometimes you can stay around and take it, hoping they would get into a better mood; other times you just have to leave and wait. Pray. Hope. There is always hope. If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it….truer words have not been shared.

“Every day may not be good…but there’s something good in every day”
-Alice Morse Earle

I choose to live my life with awareness, hope, faith, patience, and grace in my step.


I know I will see you again …

I get so more melancholy and turn more quietly inward – especially between August through September. I have lost so many people I truly loved. For the past 13 years, I dread today. I dread the anniversary and the repeated replays of the planes, the impacts, the fireballs and the collapsing towers.

It truly is like ripping off a Band-Aid … but my heart feels this open wound. Today, 13 years ago, I lost four true friends, one my irreplaceable heart, my soul mate.

The days will always be brighter because he existed. The nights will always be darker because he’s gone. And no matter what anybody says about grief, and about time healing all wounds, the truth is, there are certain sorrows that never fade away until the heart stops beating and the last breath is taken. Always my heart ♥mm♥ …(Excerpt from Tiffanie DeBartolo, God-Shaped Hole)

I have come to realize that destiny can hurt a person as much as it can bless them, and I find myself wondering why – out of all the people in all the world I could ever have loved – I had to fall in love with someone who was taken away from me.

One day he was there and then all of a sudden, he is gone. There’s less of him each passing year. And you wonder where that part went – if it’s living somewhere, outside of you, and you keep thinking maybe you’ll get it back. And then you realize…it’s just gone.

Many say it’s easier to burn than to build; many say it’s easier to hurt than to heal…But I say you lose when you give up what you love…And I’ve lived my life without that long enough.

I hold pieces of him; I hold them so tight that they eventually become pieces of myself that am still learning to grow from but never away from. I hold onto them so tight that they eventually become the only pieces that can hold my shaky bones together. They become the only pieces that can keep this broken heart of mine held together…

Have you ever thought that if one thing hadn’t happened, a whole set of things never would have either? Like dominoes in time, a single event kicked off an unstoppable series of changes that gained momentum and spun out of control, and nothing was ever the same again. Don’t ever doubt that a mere second can change your life forever. It can. It has. Everything does really happen for a reason.

I’ve got no more illusions…I know I’ll see you again…but for today, I am allowing myself to fully experience the full impact of my loss. Grieving all over again. Grief…I am following it, crying when I want to, yelling at God, screaming into my pillow, and avoiding most people and definitely the news.

Grief is itself the only medicine I need right now. And anyone who doesn’t understand this or who can’t accept, stay away from me. So fake better stay away from me.

“After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. You learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. You learn that loving doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t always mean security, and you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. After a while you learn to build all your dreams on today because tomorrows ground is too uncertain for dreams, and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn to accept your defeats with your head held with the grace of a woman and not the grief of a child. After a while you learn to plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone else to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really are strong, that you really do have self worth, and you can endure, and you learn and learn, with every “goodbye” you learn…” (Veronica A. Shoffstall)

“I am not the happiest person. In fact, in the battle between joy and misery, I’d say that the latter often seems to prevail. I don’t like this, and every day I refuse, for the eighty millionth time, to put up with another minute of it. But the world does what it does, and I often find it disagreeable. After all these years, I’m kind of resigned to that. But I do have one thing on my side: I have enormous faith. And hope. I am not speaking of the kind you find in church or in the afterlife or in heaven or in the Saint James Bible or in the Hare Krishna’s that we all encounter changing flights in the airports of the world, I am speaking of a simple faith that says that one way or another, no matter how many times I stumble and stub my big toe, somehow life is going to work itself out.” (Elizabeth Wurtzel)

candles


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