Of Love and Loss

Since Tony and I have been together, we’ve lost a lot of people. Family, friends, and people we care about lost to accident, disease, mental health, and even violence.

It’s hard to comprehend the void left behind. One day they’re within talking or touching distance, and then, they’re no longer there. Just a barren space where they used to be. It’s like your brain struggles to come to terms with the fact all of their things are here, but they’re not.

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

The loss of a child is even harder to bear. It’s hard not to question God when one so innocent is stripped away.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Loss is also more than losing a person. Loss can be the vanishing of a dream. It can be the loss of an ability. We mourn it just the same. I’ve watched people in my infertility groups go through it. When a doctor gives hope, but insurance denies coverage and the funds are just not there, the loss can be devastating.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

–Queen Elizabeth II

And then, there’s love. Healing, wonderful love. If not for love after loss, my feet may never have made another mile. I would have withered. Tony and I are especially good about leaning on each other when needed. With every loss I’ve suffered, he’s been there with an “I’ve got you.” That one phrase has so many meanings. It means that he’s my shoulder to lean on, my feet when I can’t move, and my voice when I have none.

When we lost the twins, I thought the world would actually come to an end. I felt that the sun was going to fall out of the sky. I couldn’t see around my own grief to realize that the sun was still there shining as it always did, water still flowed, the world still moved. I suffered both types of loss: the loss of my beloveds and the loss of my dream of having children. I bitterly grieved both.

Love is essential to dealing with loss. Love is essential to thrive. I’ve fought, screamed, cursed the world, and thought for sure that I’d die from heartbreak. Then comes love. Even through his own grief, his own pain, his own loss, Tony reached for me, drew me in, loved me with a patience I can only aspire to.

I pulled myself away from friends, family, and people who have known me all my life. My husband fought to keep me. He’s loved me and kept me stable when I craved the opposite.

I hope I was able to love him through his losses as he did me.

Being well loved brought me back to life, allowed me to live again in the sun, and coaxed me back to everything I’d loved before. Things that helped me heal.

Books, plants, nature, the night sky, my beloved alone time, and the love of my husband keep me from the vacuum of my losses.

Love never fails. Even in the face of loss.

Advertisements

I’m Sorry, Writing

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I’m sorry I’ve pushed my notebooks into the corner. I’m sorry I’ve let my laptop sit unused. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’m sorry I left the words swirling around in my head until my emotions get the best of me.

I’m sorry I’ve kept all my words to myself. I’m sorry I’ve let shame, pain, anger, and confusion keep me prisoner. I’m sorry I’ve been letting myself get overwhelmed without coming to you and using you to cope. I always have and haven’t been lately. The last few months of my life have been proof.

I’m sorry my pens have been sitting in cups without so much as being used for a signature. I’m sorry I’ve let myself get to a sorry state of not being as consistent. I’m sorry I’ve let life dictate what my writing hours are used for and letting it steal them away.

I’m sorry I’ve let unimportant things take your time.

I’m sorry I’ve been unavailable.

I’m sorry, writing.

Healing

20190503_182947

Tony and I have faced a lot lately. Death and illness and life have been kicking us while we’re down. Saying things have been difficult is an understatement.

For the last year, I’ve been going through things with my body. A lot of it good, some of it bad. I’m focused on turning things around. I’ve lost some weight, working on losing more. I’ve derailed and got back on track more times than I care to count. Surely one of these “back on tracks” will stick.

I’ve been eating low carb. It’s been working wonders for me, for my PCOS, for my skin, for my life. I never knew how much sugar and grain were damaging my body until I cut them. I know what I can eat, what triggers my issues, and what to do to fix it. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and people don’t usually understand.

I’m learning more about myself. I’m learning that in order to function, I have to shut the world off sometimes. I have to be alone with my books, my flowers, my music, and my husband to find my peace. I realize that I have to purge or detox myself from the bad, the scary, the pain, and the News. Self care and preservation is sometimes just protecting your heart.

My views on my body are changing. I can touch my soft belly and not be repulsed. I recently heard Megan Crabbe describe her cellulite as being constellations in the sky of her body. I found that to be beautiful. My body is still changing and healing, but I’m getting more and more comfortable with it. The more I care for it, the more I love it.

I’ve been going through some healing with my body, mind, and with my soul. It’s taking time. Body wise, I’ve been feeling much better. I’ve had more energy being on track. I’ve been feeling like the old me, and I’ve missed her. Emotionally, I think Tony and I as a unit are on the downward side of the hill. Hopefully, the worst is behind us and with a little love and care, we can move forward to a better place.

 

 

Embracing My Hazel

Me, left. Aunt Hazel, right.

I was raised by a bunch of strong women, independent women who taught me their ways. Especially my grandmother and her sister, my aunt Hazel.

Anyone in our family can tell you many a funny story about Aunt Hazel. She was independent, sassy, funny, and didn’t have much of a filter. She was eccentric  She was an animal lover. She used to have cows that she cared for. She bottle fed the babies and got attached to them. Everyone said her cows followed her like dogs.  Her dogs were family members. When she lived alone, I would spend nights at her house. In the morning, she got up and made us all breakfast. All of us got eggs, grits, and toast. Including her dogs.

After breakfast, we would go “tend to the flowers.” We dug, watered, planted, trimmed, picked, and admired her many plants and flowers. She had the most beautiful purple heart. She’d chase me with the water hose all over the yard and for a while, you’d think she was my age.

After we’d got in a few hours work, she’d ask me if I was hungry. If I was, we’d got to McDonald’s and get a happy meal.

She loved bright colors, big earrings, anything shiny, and made most of her own clothes. Orange was her favorite color. She used to wear orange lipstick and bright blue eye shadow. My cousin, Jamie, told me that she needs to see me with those particular shades one day. I’m still getting up my nerve. You’d think with her stylish nature, Aunt Hazel would have wanted a flashy car. No. Not Aunt Hazel. She had a 60’s model Ford pickup that was black and gray. I loved that old truck.

Since I was a child, I’ve been told how much I look like my Aunt Hazel. The more time goes by, I find myself acting like her more and more. I can look at her pictures and see my future self. I already have plants and flowers all over my porch. I have dogs that think they are human. I guess I need to invest in a few cows.

She had no children, and the closer I get to 40, it’s becoming more likely that I won’t either. She was everyone’s favorite aunt. That’s how I’d like to be known as well. I’m gearing up to become a sassy senior lady who says unpredictable things and mows her grass while wearing bright lipstick. I’m invested in becoming the lady the neighbors whisper about because she’s talking or singing to her plants. I want to be the favorite aunt who loves other’s children like they’re her own and lives on her own terms. I want to be the one with the kind heart and silly smile that can put everyone at ease. I hope to mellow like she did.

I’m embracing my Hazel with each passing day. Maybe I can pass on to others what she gave to me.

The Avett Brothers

Toward the end of 2012, someone recommended that I read a book by this new author, Colleen Hoover. She was becoming very popular on her debut novel. It was a romance, and at first, I winced. It was called Slammed. I imagined an E. L. James scenario. It was a YA romance. Before I could tell her that it wasn’t for me, she simply said, “I know you like poetry. It’s about a couple with slam (or spoken word) poetry woven into their relationship. Trust me.” I gave it some thought and put it off. She asked repeatedly if I’d started it and what did I think. I think it’s a bad idea is what I didn’t say.

I finally gave in one day when I was sick and at home.

The first thing I read in this book was a quote from The Avett Brothers. It read,

 

“…I’m as nowhere as I can be,

Could you add some somewhere to me?”

-The Avett Brothers, Salina

I have to admit, by this point, I was intrigued. Early on the main character describes her love for the band. She bonded with her father through their music. Her description of them sounded terrific.

My father and I would stay up at night and sing some of the songs together as he attempted to work the chords out on his guitar. He described them to me once. He said, “Lake, you know a band has true talent when their imperfections define perfection.”

I eventually understood what he meant when I started really listening to them. Broken banjo strings, momentary passionate lapses of harmony, voices that go from smooth to gravelling to all out screaming in a single verse. All these things add substance, character and believability to their music.
-Slammed, Colleen Hoover

As I read, I found more and more of their quotes at the beginning of the chapters. Another character is a poetry teacher and describes them as poets. I found this to be true with every quote I read. I finished the book in no time and loved it. A quick Google lead me to an amazing discovery. They were a real band. I read through lyric after lyric. I pulled up one of their songs on YouTube and only listened for a moment. It didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.

I asked my good friend, who also happened to be my boss at the time, if she had heard of The Avett Brothers. I hadn’t heard their name out loud, and mispronounced it. She said, “If you mean The Avett Brothers, then yes. They’re great!”

We sat down at her computer, she pulled up a song and played it for me. It was The Ballad of Love and Hate. It was sad. It was sweet. It was a story. It made me love The Avett Brothers. We listened to a few more songs. I was hooked.

That night I listened to everything I could find. Some songs, I didn’t know if I could get into. The first listen just wouldn’t catch me. Then, I would listen again and find what it was I needed from it. I read about them, their beginnings, their lives.

I listened over and over to all their songs. The forums I read said that their live shows were something to behold. They danced, jumped, celebrated, got emotional, and everything between. A friend of mine’s husband got to see them live and said it was the best live show he’s ever been to.

A few months ago, I found out that they were doing a show in Brandon, MS. So close.

I talked about going for a solid month. Tony being Tony, just said, “Well, let’s do it.” I had to do my normal process for what I consider a big decision. I had to overthink, analyze all angles, and doubt every detail. I finally gave in and got tickets with the help of a friend. I was ecstatic.

The tickets were purchased on March 2. I couldn’t wait.

“Well I’ve been locking myself up in my house for some time now

Reading and writing and reading and thinking
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow
The record will stop and the record will go
Latches latched the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out
Up with caffeine and down with the shot
Constantly worried about what I’ve got
Distracted by work but I can’t make it stop
and my confidence on and my confidence off
And I sink to the bottom I rise to the top
and I think to myself that I do this a lot”
-The Avett Brothers, Talk on Indolence

Saturday night, I got to see my favorite band perform some of my favorite songs live. I found that my husband also likes them. I was surprised when he wanted to go to the concert with me and my friend. I didn’t think they were his type of music but found him singing along to most of the songs.

The experience defied my expectations. From the moment they stepped onto the stage, the air was electric. The whole crowd went through ups and downs. The emotion that the entire band emitted was incredible.

We laughed with them, loved with them, hurt with them, mourned with them, and were joyful with them. It was an experience I’ll never forget, but one I mostly definitely want to repeat. My friend and I danced and sang at the top of our lungs. I screamed until my throat ached and clapped until my hands were sore. I can’t imagine a better performance. My only regret is that I didn’t find them sooner, but like all things in my life, a book lead me to something great. I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll repeat myself again. Words are my most favorite thing, and The Avett Brothers have a way with words.

My favorite quote from my favorite Avett Brothers song reads, “Decide what to be and go be it.”

Short, simple, and to the point.

They give good advice. They tell great stories. They teach me about life. They see a different perspective. They feel everything they sing. They weave magic into their words. They tell the truth. The Avett Brothers are wordsmiths of the first degree. That’s why they’re my favorite band.

November Blue by The Avett Brothers Brandon, MS

Spring

20190317_151600

Because of all the recent rain, my backyard is a bit overgrown. It’s in need of a mow, has wildflowers springing up. It looks a bit wild at the moment.

I sat on my back steps Sunday and admired it. The overgrowth and out of control shrubs made for beautiful green chaos. My dog rolled in the clover and romped through it chasing her ball. I enjoyed taking the time to just be.

I love plants and growing things. My Paw always had a garden. We would shell peas and beans until our fingers were raw. We’d put up squash, can tomatoes, and at the end of the day, gather ‘round a watermelon on the picnic table. If you’re a watermelon lover, and Lord knows I am, there is something about that first sweet bite. The juice on your tongue, and it running down your chin. There are few things that compare. We kids would be covered in sticky by the time we were done. My grandmother wouldn’t let us near the house until we were hosed down. Seed spitting competitions would ensue.

I miss those springs and summers of my childhood. My skin got darker as my hair got lighter. We rode bicycles til our legs would go no further.

We lived in a tiny community called Weathersby. The pasture that surrounded our house on three sides was green and lush because of the creek that ran through it. I spent those summers up to my knees in water in the small creek and every article of clothing I owned had grass stains. I loved to take off running through the pasture and eat the wild muscadines that grew along the water. I ran wild through the green and my heart was free.

I miss those summers of my youth when the world seemed smaller, and the crazy stuff you hear happening in your own backyard was in far off places like New York and Chicago.

I can already feel the itch, the want to get my hands in some soil. I bought some potting soil and started some seeds Sunday. It’s later than I normally like to start, but death and illness have been with us constantly these last months.

It felt refreshing to get the soil in my hands on Sunday. The cool earth speaks to me on another level. My mother says I get it from my Aunt Hazel. Last year, I found some pitiful looking petunias at the Wal-Mart garden center. They were marked down in their sad state. I came home with all three flats of them. As I unloaded them, I just knew Tony was going to kill me. He walked out onto the porch, looked them over, and said I’d have them good as new in no time. He’s a gem, that one. I potted them up and ended up giving some away after they were looking better.

My snowball trees are showing out. The balls are still green but are bountiful. My banana shrubs are blooming and fragrant. I can’t wait for my little herb seeds to poke through the soil and reach for the sun. I’m waiting for the morning glories to weave themselves among the shrubs and begin their trek around my yard. I get giddy when I think of getting petunias for my porch. If this year is like last, I’ll have jars with clipplings lined on my porch sprouting roots. I want to try my hand at a few new things.

Plants are food, breath, and life. They are like us in many ways. They need lots of water and sunshine and love and care. I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been neglecting life. Spring is a welcome change.

Thanksgiving

Oreo Pie

Thanksgiving prep is in full swing at my house as I’m sure it is in most houses. Luckily, I got most everything I need. My husband informed me he had to make a run to the grocery store. I gave him the three finger salute and told him with a kiss, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” He laughed for a second but looked genuinely afraid as he walked out the door.

I, meanwhile, stood in the kitchen in basketball shorts, hair in a bun on top of my head, and a t-shirt that’s seen better days and took on the task of rolling out dumplings. Although it’s a messy affair, this is something I genuinely like doing. I love the sticky dough and the flour clouds and the rolling and cutting. It reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen listening to her sing I’ll Fly Away and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms while up to her elbows in dough. It’s a tradition and my heritage to know how to mix the dough, how thin to make the dumplings, and what a secret how easy it all is.

I remember the men folk in my family used to break down the door to get in the house for Mamaw’s chicken and dumplings. She’d usher us kids to the table while the stove was swarmed by hungry men. We all said a little prayer that there would be anything left if my cousin, Chris, was first in line. She took great joy in people eating her food. I think I get that from her.

I’ve not mastered, but can make a close copy of her cornbread, chicken and dumplings, and banana pudding. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever gotten was a few years ago when one of my cousins put an arm around me and said, “Kacie, yours tastes just like Mamaw Ree’s banana pudding.” I think it brought a tear to my eye.

When the dumplings were rolled, Tony came in and asked if I was going to make a trial run. He seemed a little crestfallen when I said I hadn’t planned on it. “But babe,” he said with a gleam in his eye, “how can you be sure they’ll turn out right?” So, I cooked him dumplings to sample. I’m sure my family will be grateful for his quality check.

About ten years ago, I was looking for something simple when I volunteered to bring a dessert for Thanksgiving. I found a recipe for Oreo pie. I had no idea that I was diving head first into a contract for the rest of my life. Back then, all my little cousins were kids. It was love at first bite. All the kiddos were hooked. It was gone before I knew it. I made a mental note to make two for Christmas.

At the time, my youngest boy cousin, Wyatt, was about six or so. When it came dessert time that Christmas, my mom looked at me quizzically and asked, “Didn’t you make two pies?” I told her I had. Upon further investigation of the missing pie, we found Wyatt had taken a whole one for himself. What was on his face was the only evidence to be found.

Now, each and every time we discuss what foods we should bring, I am volunteered for Oreo pie. Most of my little cousins are adults or entering adulthood now. Several have spouses and kids of their own now. They’ve even gotten their spouses in on it. My cousin’s wife, Michelle, was the first to request Oreo pie this year. 

I’ve made the mistake of not making it a time or two. I’ve learned my lesson. After one of my lapses, Wyatt made sure everyone knew that if I didn’t make pie, I couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. My youngest cousin, Maddie, asked about it one year when I brought something else and made a sound of such despair when she discovered there was none. Needless to say, I now know better. This year we will have Oreo pie.

Food aside, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas is wonderful but has been overtaken by the decorating and buying gifts. Thanksgiving is one of the last pure holidays. It’s togetherness and food and being thankful. I took on a full meal with the works last year. It was a lot of work. I was dog tired by the end of the day, but I loved every minute. I’m not doing that this year, but I will be contributing to and partaking in two Thanksgiving meals with some of my favorite people. At the end of the day, it’s not what you eat or where you eat. It’s who you eat with. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Ladies: Loving Ourselves & Each Other

My self-image has been evolving recently, and by recently, I mean the last few years. I’ve gone through areas of change. Good changes and bad. My self-esteem has suffered. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and following on body positivity: at any size, any shape, and any form. So many people have commented saying that it’s obesity acceptance. That’s not the case. Being comfortable with and loving your body at any size is IMPERATIVE for making healthy changes. I’ve figured this out. Finally, almost 32 years in.

Do I think I don’t need to be healthier because I’m okay with my body? No. People hear body acceptance and love and think that people want to be overweight forever or that they want to get bigger. In some cases, yes, people are fine living in a bigger body, and that’s okay. And you know what? That is none of my or anyone else’s business. Over the last few months, I’ve lost nearly 35lbs. I feel better, I move better, and yes, I feel better about my self-image.

Earlier this year, I went through a dark stage. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated it so much, and the more I tried to convince myself that I loved the skin I’m in, it made me hate it more. I said some horrible things to myself about myself. Then I read something that said something similar to that if you wouldn’t look your best friend in the eye and say something horrible about her then you shouldn’t say horrible things about yourself. What I read worded it much better, and I wish I had saved it. I can’t imagine looking any one of my friends in the eye and saying, “You disgust me” or “You’re not worthy.” So, I’m working on not saying them to myself.

I’m still on a journey to heal myself and love myself. It’s a struggle every day. Some days, I look at myself and think this isn’t so bad. Others, I just want to cry. I wondered how many women experience that same thing. I did a little social experiment in my head. I told myself to compliment at least three women per week. Nothing too outrageous or flattering, just things that I noticed and appreciated that my social anxiety would never have let me mention to strangers before.

I started small with an acquaintance at Wal-Mart. This lady has checked me out and bagged my groceries on several occasions. She’s probably younger than me, looks to be Hispanic, wears little makeup, and has beautiful shiny dark hair. While she made small talk, I smiled and mentioned that I wish my hair was as shiny as hers. She offered me a smile back and said it must be the lights. She also said she hates her hair. As I walked away, I thought to myself that it’s sad that she hates something that I find so pretty.

I doubled down on my next compliment. I told a lady that she had lovely eyes. They were almond shaped, heavy-lidded, and looked like they could tell a story. She gave a little smile, said they were hard to apply eyeliner to, and that was that. The more ladies I spoke to, the more I realized that we all hate some of our best features. I didn’t hear once that the person liked what I complimented.

We live in a society that does not accept when we appreciate ourselves. We can’t be thankful for what we are born with, what we are given, and what others appreciate. We are not taught acceptance of ourselves or others. This makes me very sad and also angry. We try to “fix” natural things like stretch marks and cellulite. People say horrible things if any of that is visible. It’s a shame that we can’t see marks that helped bring a precious being into the world as beautiful. 

The more attention I paid, the more I realized that women are the most to blame for body issues. We are catty. We talk about each other in terrible ways. I even do this in my head. I never realized how much I did it. I would never say anything hurtful like the negatives that I think to another woman. I caught and checked myself on several occasions.

I realized too that people think that what is good for them is good for all. On several occasions I’ve heard, “You’d look really nice if you wore a little makeup” or similar comments. I remember thinking, well, I thought I looked nice today.  Also, people try to sell me weight loss products ALL THE TIME.

Ladies, we have got to stop doing this to each other. We’ve got to build each other up and not make someone feel inferior because they have more than 10% body fat or look like they “need to eat a cheeseburger” or don’t wear makeup or wear a large amount of makeup.

One thing is that we have this idea of real women. Real women have curves, real women do this, and real women have that. All women are real women. The curvier lady with the lovely eyes, and the thin lady with a nice smile, the childless women, the abused women, the women who are the primary breadwinner, every single one. We are all real women. It’s time we realize it and appreciate each other.

If I see you in public in sweats, I’m going to think you look comfortable, and comfortable looks good on you.

If I see you without makeup, I’m going to think you look nice and natural. (You’ll see me without makeup more often than not.)

If I see you with your hair in a bun, I am going to think you took more time playing with your family, more time with your spouse, or more time for your own self-care than  perfecting your hair. And that’s beautiful.

If I see you dressed to the nines, face full of expertly applied makeup, and perfectly coiffed Heaven high hair, I’m going to think you’re just as lovely.

Any way you choose to be is acceptable and should be accepted. Love yourself and love each other.

Losing Focus

The beginning of the year came and went. My weight was ballooning. I wasn’t watching what I was eating like I should have been. I was feeling really down on myself. As an emotional eater, that didn’t go well for me.

About two months ago, I had a few health problems. Nothing major. Just things that go along with the disorders I already have. I decided it was time to do something. Anything. Even though I’ve been striving hard toward self love, I always fall short. I hate the way I look most of the time. It was time for that to change as well.

I read up on the ketogenic diet. My doctor had already said low carb would be best for me. Basically, eating low carb makes your body use the stored fat/energy it has rather than using the carbs you take in with food. I’ll include links at the bottom for the curious. I read a bunch on the benefits and the drawbacks. Making up my mind, I put my best foot forward.

I am the type of person that has had probably a thousand of the defining moments where you think of what it is you want to do, you prepare for what you want to do, and then after a week or two, you just flush the whole idea. Not this time, I determined, as I took a long hard look at myself.

I am very personal with my health. I don’t tell people more than the necessaries usually. That’s how I am. That’s just me.

For the past year, I’ve been struggling with my hormones, thyroid, autoimmune, and diabetes. The thing a lot of people don’t realize about these disorders is that they come along with many other issues. My tests last year showed the beginnings of diabetic kidney disease. The ACR test, for those who haven’t heard of this, determines your kidney damage and if you have kidney disease. As for the results, under 30 is great, 31-299 shows early kidney disease, and above 300 shows advanced kidney disease. Last year’s test showed me at an 86. I had early kidney disease. My A1C was bad, I had heart palpitations, I was breaking out all over especially my face, I had zero drive, and I was miserable. I realized I’ve been on autopilot for a long time.

Recently, I’ve made changes. I’ve gone low carb. In just a few weeks, my life has changed. People say things like that all the time, and I am not one of those people, but holy crap, my life has changed.

I realized just how doable this lifestyle change is. I can have cheeseburgers with bacon as long as there’s no bun. The only thing I have truly missed is fruit. I still eat berries, but I have to take care to watch my intake. Sugar is sugar after all.

It took only a few weeks to see changes. My rashes went away. My face cleared. I lost fifteen pounds. My blood sugar has been perfect.

My most recent trip to the doctor was the most positive one I’ve had in ages. My cholesterol was good (for those concerned with increased meat intake), my blood pressure was great, my A1C was perfect, and my early kidney disease is reversed. My ACR went from 86 to 14. I am on track to completely reverse my diabetes. My doctor’s office was tickled pink.

I noticed I’m eating more real food and very little processed junk. When I do eat out, Hardee’s can make any of their burgers or grilled sandwiches low carb. This means substituting a lettuce wrap for the bun. My current favorite is the charbroiled chicken club. Tony gets the low carb frisco burger. He even said he never realized how many flavor he was missing out on with the bun.

As for my mental health, I’ve been staying away from Facebook for weeks. I think that helped with my blood pressure, but I digress. Instead of focusing on the outside world, I’ve been focusing on myself and my husband. I’ve been writing. A lot. Maybe not blog material, but it’s been great either way.

Tony is not a man of words. Strange how opposites attract. He made it a point to tell me the other day how proud he was of me for sticking to my guns. We went out to eat with his family. I ate a steak and a salad. I barely missed the bread and potato.

I lost focus for a while. I worried about things that don’t matter, stayed on an emotional roller coaster, ate with my emotions, and was actually killing myself. I’m not saying I haven’t slipped a time or two, but this is the most doable change I’ve ever made. I’m going to keep focusing on myself, keep my health in check, and make sure I don’t lose focus again.

 

https://www.dietdoctor.com/

https://peaceloveandlowcarb.com/the-ultimate-low-carb-resource-guide/

 

Marie


I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen. At her elbow, I watched her make biscuits lovingly and with enough practice for it to have been considered an art. She raised her children along with children who weren’t born of her body but were hers all the same. If you tried to say different, you would most likely get more than your feelings hurt. She worked most of her life nursing broken bodies along with broken hearts. Nursing taught her to handle herself and keep calm in most any situation. She was blunt with her words and subtle with her emotions.
After she retired, she threw herself into her home whether it be baking, sewing, or mowing the yard because no one says lawn in the South. She cuddled any baby she ever met and sang the same song to every single one she rocked. Nursing did not end when she retired. She nursed for years her cancer stricken husband and a sister with severe diabetes. Her husband went first, and she never quite recovered. When she did not know anyone was around, she would spend quiet moments in the room where he wasted away before that final trip to the hospital. Sitting on his bed, she would close her eyes for a time, let out a slow breath, and then get on with her day to day chores.
If she ever loved you, she would cook for you, tend to you, and fight for you until she just couldn’t. She was never the most tender of people. After you got a hug and offered food in your time of need, you were told to dry your tears. Crying never did a single soul any good in her eyes.
When she died, my world shifted. It was hard to believe that someone so big, even if she was just so big to me, was gone. I cried for a time. I could hear her voice as clear as a bell telling me to dry it up and be tough like she knew I could. During her wake, the lights went out at the funeral home. Even though it startled everyone, those who knew her personally laughed. It was just the kind of stunt she would pull. I smiled for the first time since she died standing in the dark. When I think of her now, I can only smile. I picture her sitting on her porch in the rocking chairs she loved as she watched cars go by. Those chairs should have fell to pieces with all the miles she put on them. I see her in the kitchen at her stove mixing up a batch of cornbread batter for her cast iron skillet. When I try to describe her most words don’t seem enough. She taught me how to be polite and to swear. She was never anything more than herself and I wish I could have an ounce of the confidence she carried. She was my rock and taught me how to be one myself. I may not be what she was every minute of my life, but I have moments where I can feel her come to the surface. When I feel lost, I find her in me and it’s in her that I find myself.

Today, she would be 93 and has been on my heart all day.