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TOTALITY

There was a guy in High School we called a “stoner”. In the late 80’s we put everyone in a “group”. You know…like Breakfast Club. I was a cheerleader. (Eye roll). So I didn’t really talk to many stoners. And he was smart. And he got good grades. And I never SAW him do drugs its just obviously fact when the label gets assigned……right? He’s not on Facebook now. I don’t know what happened to him. I don’t even remember his last name. And Im an asshole for that. I don’t think he did drugs. But so fucking what if he did. I should’ve talked to him then. I shouldn’t have AssUMED shit. But don’t we all. We are given a limited bit of information about someone- what we can see, what is posted on social media, what it looks like in pictures….and we AssUME. Human nature.
I’ve gone through a transformation and big life change over the past few years. And as a “public figure” (that makes me laugh) and someone who shares “everything” on social media it’s tricky. Because I’m just fine sharing all of my shit. I don’t care. I would’ve been writing about it for a long, long time. Because Im a writer and I know my sharing about my crap tastic days and my wonderful days helps other people. But here’s the thing——its not just MY story. When you have other people in your life…kids, partners, a spouse….it’s THEIR story too. Its THEIR shit too. So exposing all of that because its THERAPEUTIC for me or its just what I do might be a little selfish when the other parties in my life don’t want their shit hung out for all the public to see. And I completely and “TOTALLY” respect that.
The consequences of sharing just SOME of your life publicly is that people get to assume the rest. And I accept that. Its ok. Its what we do. Its how I treated that “stoner” all those years ago. I AssUMED. I thought I knew. But I didn’t. I didn’t have access to the whole story of his life. Nor should I have unless he chose to share it with me. And he didn’t. And I don’t blame him. I wish he had. I wish Id been mature enough not to AssUME. I wish Id seen the TOTALITY of his story. I wish we could all see the TOTALITY of each others’ stories. We just might be a little more forgiving, a little more understanding, and a little less judgmental. But its not that way. And I accept that.
I laid in an 80 acre hay field in Nebraska yesterday and watched the total eclipse. It was honestly the most AMAZING thing Ive ever seen in my life. And as I laid there I thought about how powerful that sun is. That we see it in its TOTALITY each day. In all its glory. Shining as bright and powerful as it always has. With nothing to hide. Doing its job, warming the planet and keeping my ass alive everyday. And this one day…this one period of 2 something minutes…she hid behind the moon. She got to rest. Even for just a brief few moments. And then that circle of gases became visible around the edges- crazy beautiful. All of that light seeping out of the sides. And it hit me….she’s not resting, she’s not dimmer, she’s not hiding at all…she’s still shining as bright as she ever has, powerful as ever, doing her job, being completely vulnerable and not hiding a thing. We just couldn’t see all of her. And that’s on US. (Ok its a little bit the moon’s fault too I guess). 😉
I see her more today than any other day in my lifetime. I know there’s more to the story. I know she shows her TOTAL self no matter what others think they know. And thats a lesson I can learn. And how others interpret what they see is not about me at all. Its about them.
So I’ll continue to show my totality. With respect to the others in my life for their privacy. I’ll share MY story. And hope that those reading & watching know theres always more to it. Isn’t there always more to it? Always. More than we see. More than we think we know. More than whats visible. I love life. I plan to live every single second of it with beauty and love and vigor and a gypsy spirit. And I pledge to not AssUME I know anything at all.
Happy is good place to be. Happy. Me. In all TOTALITY…..ME.
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11 YEARS

11 years. Its a long time. I miss you. You’d think it would get better. They say time heals all wounds. I don’t know who “they” are but “they” are wrong. Some wounds split you wide open and you bleed for a long time and you put some stitches in it and a bandage over it and move on. But there’s always a scar. And your skin is never EVER the same as it was before. Accepting that I will NEVER be who I was before has been a long journey. Its hard to admit that your death affected every aspect of my life. The way I parent, the way I don’t trust, the way I hide, the way I run. The way I laugh, my marriage, where I live, how I look at life, my friendships, how I travel….everything….EVERY SINGLE THING.

So I fought to be her for a long time. To remain that girl I was when you walked the Earth. I fought to be a perfect Mom & wife & friend & decorator & have a nice house & matching throw pillows & all of it. It took almost a decade to accept something very very hard to accept. She died when you died. SHE died when you died, Dad. And I hated you for that. I hated you for dying on that highway and taking all of us with you. Because you did. You took who I was with you. And finding me again has been a long journey. I’ve hurt people. Ive hurt me. Ive failed at things. Ive failed at a lot of things. Ive not been the best I could be. Ive made mistakes. Blaming you has been easy. Or blaming God or the Universe or the deer that jumped in front of your motorcycle 11 years ago tomorrow. But in the past year I realized something….its all on me. I accept that I made mistakes. I caused hurt. I hurt me. I lost me. I did that. Me.
I am impossibly imperfect and hypocritical and selfish and mean at times and impatient and too competitive and cold. You know what else I am? Im funny and kind and a deep thinker and unselfish and a good Mom and a friend who tries and a great business woman and a good hiker and a good writer and a sock collector and I can even be warm and nurturing at times. And I love hard. And its all ok. ALL of it. Every bit of who I am is ok. It has taken a very very long time to know that. To my core.
You were not a saint. Far from it. And sometimes we posthumously paint those we love with a brush that makes them seem that they were. You weren’t. You cussed a lot. You were impatient. Sometimes you drank too much. You had a short temper. You were very hard headed. You hurt Mom’s feelings a few times. You wanted things done your way always. You were also unbelievably kind and loyal and reliable and hard working and funny and adventurous and an amazing Dad. ALL of that. ALL of that is ok.
When you died I realized I don’t get to control everything. And life can hand you some shit. Some real bad ugly awful shit. I now know, its not about the SHIT. Its about the way you REACT to the shit. Sometimes I react badly. Sometimes I react in a way I am very proud of. I am human. I like rap music and crazy socks and getting my nails done. I can be vain. I love to travel. I love to read. I love my hammock. I love wearing dresses to parties and getting all fancy. I love yoga pants and solitude on a mountain. I love my kids more than they will ever know until they are parents. Im good at business. Im bad at tech. I love life. More than I ever realized before you died on that road. My friends mean the world to me. I wish I knew how to show them that more.
Of all the things that happened the week you died I’ll remember forever the lady who drove from a truck stop way up north to attend your funeral. A single older mom who worked crazy shifts to support her kids. A lady who you over tipped many many times so she could get her kids Christmas gifts. A lady we’d have never ever known about had you not died. And maybe in the end thats all its about. That you sat in a diner you may not have even loved to tip a lady extra so she could afford gifts. Maybe life is as simple as that. And assholes like me try to complicate it too much.
I went rock climbing yesterday. You’d be proud of me. I got very frustrated at one point (or 10) and was stuck in one spot. I cussed. I even slapped the rock. As if it was the rock’s fault that I was stuck. That I was too impatient to stop, breath & re look at my options. There was a route you were supposed to stick to. Certain moves you make to follow the line so you can ascend like everyone else does. I couldn’t  get my fingers placed the way you were supposed to so you could follow the line. And then I smiled because hanging there in mid air, frustrated as SHIT that I couldn’t do it like everyone else, I realized there’s not just ONE way to do things. There’s not. There’s all different paths and roads and I don’t have to follow other people’s paths. I don’t have to do it the way other people do it. And if I fuck up…then hey….THATS on me. But I can say I did it my way. They way I knew. The way that worked for me……maybe, just maybe, I was THIS girl all along.
Love you, Dad. Miss you. I’ll have a beer tomorrow alone in the driveway. Tradition. Thank you.
“I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down”   ~ Stevie Nicks, Landslide
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DEAR DAD; SEASONS

I miss you. In a few weeks it’ll be 11 years since you died and I honestly CANNOT believe that. There are moments it feels like yesterday. There are moments its raw and makes my gut hurt. There’s days I don’t think of you until around noon and that feels weird. Makes me feel guilty. I know it shouldn’t. But it does. I wanted to tell you about Summit. And some other shit.
When you died I had to tell your Mom. I had to tell my 82 year old grandmother, 11 years ago, that her son was dead. It is and will remain one of the hardest things Ive ever done. And I was mad at you for it. And I know that makes absolutely no sense at all. Its pretty fucked up actually. But it is what it is. It is what I felt. Im not mad anymore. Im not mad at you. For dying. Nanny died on your wedding anniversary a few months ago. I guess you know that now. You are all gone now. Pawpa is gone. You are gone. Nanny is gone. Your sister is all thats left of your first family. I miss all of you. I miss Nanny most right now. Give me an hour. Ill miss you more.
I feel old lately. Maybe its stress. Lot of shit going on. You know. Maddie is 17. What the fuck. How did THAT happen? We are looking at colleges this summer. Shit. SHIT. Andy is funny. And talented. He drew an incredible penis on his math final and was suspended for a day. It was creative, though…..so there’s that. Im mad they don’t have you. Im mad at someone about that. Dont really know who. They are INCREDIBLE people. But they’d have been all the better if you’d been around. Andy reminds me so much of you its ridiculous.
It was my 4th Beachbody Summit. I just got back late last night. As always it was emotional and amazing. My “little business” is starting to make some differences I never expected. Financially Im growing, Im adding team members, Im actually smarter than people think at this CEO thing. Who knew?…..Im bull-shittin’….I knew. And YOU knew. Im a smart cookie. Time to own that I guess.  A few people Ive never met recognized me. It was so surreal. I looked around and behind me like “who are you talking to?” You’ll get a kick outta the fact that the “Too Short” tape you made fun of in my car tape deck in the late 80’s has something to do wth my success. You said “rap is just a phase”. Turns out you were a tad wrong about that. And my fitness company is called “Too Short Fitness.” So take that! ;)-
Its hard to process all that happened at Summit but of all the things that happened ONE will remain my favorite. One touched my heart like no other. One made me break down into tears. Someone (a fellow coach) said that because of my 121 mile hike for Carson that she felt called to speak to her son about mental health. I wont reveal the details. They aren’t mine to reveal. But she told me I made a difference and thats everything. THATS EVERYTHING.
Its been a shit year, Dad, I aint gonna sugar coat it. Sometimes I feel brave and tough and warrior like. Sometimes I crawl in bed and cry. And I guess thats ok. Seasons in life, right? Seasons. And this particular season may be hard but its leading somewhere and I KNOW that. I trust that.
I miss you. More now than 11 years ago. When people compliment my sense of humor I credit you. I credit you for loving music, liking beer, being impatient, loving love, being able to truly SATURATE myself into special moments, and my drive. And I credit and blame you for that “never satisfied” thing I have. I’ll keep rockin n rollin. Keep raising Hell, Dad. Its about the moments, right? Just the moments.
Turn up, tune in, rock out, speak up, and love your friends- LOVE your friends. And TELL them that. No regrets.
Here’s to the Seasons.
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EMBRACING THE I DONT KNOWS & MOVING FORWARD

I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.

Admitting Im in a “transitional phase” (as the experts like to call it) is humbling, embarrassing, cathartic, cleansing, funny, and disappointing all at once. Im only 44 years old. Ill be 45 in a few months but I don’t think theres an actuall time stamp on when this shit happens to you. You can be 38. You can be 58. Its not exactly about an age but more about whats going on in your life. And whats going on in my life? Ha. Great question. Wish I had an answer for that. Since the age of I don’t even recall Ive pretty much had my shit together. I knew I wanted to be married, have a family, have a home, plant roots and be a Mom. In 24 months my oldest leaves for college. My youngest will be doing online school so it matters not where he lives. So it goes without saying I’ve given some thought to what this means.
For the first time in forever the NEXT place I go, live, stay, adventure….it wont matter how good the school district is or what the property values are or how far of a commute it is to work or school or grocery stores. It wont matter that a great preschool is nearby. It wont matter if its within 30 minutes of soccer fields or tumbling gyms or indoor bounce houses or any of that. ANY of that. It was so very difficult for me to become a Mom. I had MANY miscarriages. The one in the 5th month was the worst. And the most painful. I thought Id never get to be a Mom. So when I became one I was ecstatic and grateful and thought I’d found the identity I’d needed. Wanted. A name to call me- MOM. I have loved every damn second. The tantrums, diapers, potty training, first day of Kindergarten, sleepless nights, swim lessons, soccer games, all of it. All. Of. It. How crazy privileged I’ve been to get to do this parent thing. Some don’t get to.
There’s been a grieving in me for things that wont ever be. I wont ever live near my parents and they wont make every game my kid cheers at and there wont be weekly Sunday dinners with cousins and large family gatherings and accepting that has been hard. And sad. And cathartic. And DECIDING that I get to decide what life looks like now, whats normal, whats ok….took time.
I think we all go through this whole “transitional phase”. Maybe some just slide by it almost unnoticed. Maybe some don’t even blink at it. Maybe some are so happy to be getting on to the next phase of life that its a happy time. Maybe some are sad. Maybe some feel they are losing some purpose and identity as their kids leave. And maybe a few are like me- kind of flailing. Flapping their wings and trying to fly away while keeping one foot in the nest with the kids. Trying to figure out if this is what being “grown up” means. Trying to find what and who you are at this next phase.
Its a strange thing getting older. I feel more confident, sexy, smart, sure footed and calm than I ever did when I was actually younger and prettier and had less wrinkles and was rocking a pair of shorts. Maybe God gives you the nicer body and face when you’re younger to make up for the idiocy that engulfs your brain. I would NOT trade the things I know for the younger body. Not in a million years.
The type A in me wants to know what happens next. Where will I be? Where will I live? Who will be in my life? How will love look? Is it a cabin on a mountain, secluded, just me and the mountains to hike. An occasional trip to the local pub to grab a beer and a conversation. Will it be a little cottage on a beach and days spent running in the sand (ok walking) and a suntan and waves and walks into town for good food. Will it be a condo downtown near all the “stuff” and I can walk to coffee and shops and see people all the time. Honestly any of those sound amazing. As long as there’s no fences. NO FENCES. Not knowing is scary. Not having kids here all the time is scary. Not knowing what life holds is scary. But its also fucking amazing. So just like the day I became a Mom- scared shitless, not knowing what the hell was in front of me, how Id screw this kid up, how Id get through it all…..I get to look ahead at a new phase and be scared shitless….and excited..and anxious…and not know. So I’ll flap my wings a little, test them out, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll pray and I’ll dance in my socks and I’ll put one foot in front of the other…..because backwards is no place to go.
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INDECISIVE

Im tired. Im very tired. Im tired of being “ok”. Of having it “all together”. Of being the wife of the dude with brain rot that is strong and works her business and leads a team and coaches cheer and stays in shape and makes people laugh and parents two kids. Im tired.

Truth is…Im not really ok. I have not exactly been ok since my 121 mile hike. My personal life is a mess. I have some job decisions to make and trying to figure out whether to follow my head or heart is hard. There’s 17 girls depending on me. My son wants to do online school. 90 minute classes are hard people. For a kid with severe ADHD. While your honor kid walked the stage…my son struggled just to sit still in class. We will find a school for him. But damnit its hard. Its hard to be his Mom.
My daughter has an autoimmune disease that leaves her in tears most nights. She cried last night for a few hours. In pain. And I can’t fix it. I have an autoimmune disorder as well. I think most people forget that. Or don’t know it. But I hurt. All the time. ALL. THE. TIME.
If one more dirty old man messages me about what he wants to do with my “fit little body” I may lose it. Im a fitness coach. Its my job. Fuck you if you can’t respect that.
Some days I wanna get in my Jeep and drive over the mountain and not come back. A LOT of days.
The guilt I feel is overwhelming. Completely and totally overwhelming. Guilt over wanting to run. Guilt over being a shitty parent. Guilt over not doing my job to the best of my ability. Guilt over my Dad dying. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
I have tried to fit in to every mold of what I should be. A mom, wife, suburban soccer parent. I’ve tried. I’ve tried. Because its what you’re “supposed” to be. And every single ounce of my fiber just can’t do it. I can’t BE what Im “supposed” to be. I can only be me or I’ll suffocate. And the guilt that follows that is heavy.
Ive always been a very decisive person. ALWAYS. I make a decision, right or wrong, and do it. I love decisiveness. Its mature. Its solid. Its not annoying. I like it. Ive made many wrong decisions but I don’t care. It was a decision. In my business I tell my coaches to stop thinking so much and just DO. A bad decision is better than no decision. But for the first time in my entire life Im indecisive. Im stuck. Im unsure. And I do not like it. I have so so so many decisions to make and I have felt paralyzed by that.
I walked 121 miles. Because my dear friend’s 11 year old son died. And its all I could do. And I was walking to and from and for and I thought 121 miles would bring some answers for me too. But this brain of mine isn’t quiet and it brought up more questions than answers. And it pissed me off. And I have writer’s block. And I have decisions to make and I have to step up. And Im tired.
I guess it means Im human. And Im not really ok with that. A friend from High School posted the other day that the people that grew up where we grew up are “different”, “special”. And we are. And I want to be superhuman. I want to be all of the things. Mom, friend, fit, happy, decisive, leader, coach. All of the things. The one thing I didn’t count on was being human. So I will sit with that. I will accept that sometimes the answer is “I don’t know.” And that has to be enough. I will accept that the answers will come…..in time. The decisions will be made…eventually. And that maybe its God’s way of saying “slow the fuck down, it’s ok weirdo…you don’t HAVE to do everything.”
A hike has always brought me answers. Writing has always come easy. I could always read the fine print.
Hikes bring more questions now. Writing is harder. And I had to get readers to see close up.
Shit changes. And maybe thats what has me frazzled. Funny thing getting older. You realize that the older you get….the less you know. And I have always known and still do….its not about the destination at all. Accepting, embracing, holding, crying, laughing and learning from EACH LITTLE STEP ON THIS JOURNEY.
So Ill sit here in my new pineapple knee socks and not make any decisions today and thats ok. Its really, really, really ok.
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121 MILES. A WALK FOR CARSON. A WALK BACK TO ME.

I remember the dumbest thing anyone said to me after my Dad was killed was “everything happens for a reason”. I cannot express how stupid and shitty that is to hear when you’ve lost someone. And the day my friend called to tell me her 11 year old son had died I remember hoping no one would say that shit to her. Because there is no reason. No reason. No reason. You cannot give me a reason for a boy who’s 11 years old to die. You can’t. You wont. There isn’t one. The truth is, at 44, what I don’t know is much greater than what I do know but I know this….shitty awful things happen. They just do. There doesn’t need to be a reason or an explanation or a lesson learned from every event. Sometimes we are dealt some almost unbearable tragedies. And there is nothing you can do, say, pray for, create, offer that can make it hurt any less. Walking through grief can be one of the loneliest, heart wrenching, physically and mentally painful things you’ll ever do. I just didn’t want her to walk alone.

There’s was nothing I could say. In fact, my friend comforted me as I cried on the phone when she told me. I felt like Id been stabbed in the gut. I cannot begin to imagine how she felt, how she feels, how she’ll feel every second of every day forever. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some very very special friends in my life. April is one of them. I love her. I love her heart. I love how smart she is and witty and kind and that she can do 20 things perfectly at once without getting rattled. I have always admired her for that. I can barely do 2 things at once….moderately. So that next day when I woke up with swollen eyes and my gut hurting, I wondered what the fuck I was supposed to do to help. There is nothing I can do to make it better. And I thought about the walk through grief. All who’ve experienced a great loss have taken that walk.
Its a walk you take alone. Its a walk you cry on. Its a walk you laugh on. Its a walk you sometimes run on and sometimes stand still on. Its a walk you can’t escape, can’t hide from, can’t go around or avoid. Its a long, winding, crooked, relentless walk. And it never ever ever ever ends. There wont be a day 6 years from now or 26 years from now she wont be on the walk. There wont be. And the first 11 days of that walk are almost no different than the 8,456th day of that walk. But maybe I just thought if I could walk for 11 days I may be able to somehow take a little of it for her. Somehow. That maybe my steps would ease her’s just a tiny bit. Maybe not. I don’t know. But I had to walk.
I don’t think I thought about how far 11 miles was. Its far. Its far at sea level let alone 7,600+ feet altitude where I live. Its far and its long and when you don’t have enough battery left on your phone to play music its quiet. Very very very quiet. I thought about the quiet she will hear. Quiet can be so beautiful sometimes and so very painful at others. I had about 44 hours of hiking time. Most of it alone. Just me. Sometimes music. I sang, talked to goats, ran from goats, ran from turkeys, watched a lot of birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer.
One day I saw a deer jump a fence someone had around their house and eat all of their newly planted petunias. I stood still for 10 minutes and watched the deer. She looked at me every few minutes to see what I was doing. Probably thinking “dumbasses think a fence can stop us”. She ate all if those petunias, then gracefully leapt over the fence like it was nothing and left.
One day a herd of deer just stood in front of me. They didn’t move. I slowed my pace, took little steps hoping they’d move. They didn’t. They didn’t give a shit about me or my walk or my blisters or my hip pain. I walked around them.
One day on the Santa Fe Trail I was alone, no music. Lots of space and time between me seeing anyone at all. A teenage boy came riding past on his bike. He put his hand out, slapped mine in a high five and said “keep on keepin on”. He had red hair. Like Carson’s. That made me smile.
One day I huddled under a tree alone with hail pelting my head. I started to cry then I just got pissed. Seriously….WTF.
One day I walked up to the backside of a farm with goats and donkeys (local residents of Palmer Lake will know what Im talking about). I wanted to pet the goat. The goat did not want to be pet. Asshole turned on me, ran at me, head butted me. And like a bigger asshole I screamed, ran and tried to reason with him. Goats don’t like me. Lesson learned.
One day with no music I decided to sing. Thank God no one could hear me. I decided I’d just sing some of my favorite songs to pass the time. But Ill be damned if I just couldn’t think of any lyrics. Except for one song. “Silent Night”. I have no earthly idea why the hell I’d remember all the words to a Christmas Carol and not an N.W.A. song or Eminem song. But I belted out all the verses to “Silent Night” about 3 times in a row. Then I listened to the words carefully. And I cried.
The first mile was the hardest. The last mile was the easiest. I don’t have enough words to thank everyone who sent me messages and texts and called me and hiked with me. No words. All the gratitude my heart can muster to you all.
So many hours and so much to think about and so many revelations I could never write them all down. Love is such a funny thing. Some of us avoid it. Or try to. We think if we don’t love we wont hurt. Maybe thats true. Maybe walking alone is part of life. You gotta learn to walk alone sometimes. And when friends can’t, you need to walk for them. Carry it for them. You avoid seeing hurt when you walk alone. You avoid getting disappointed in others. In boys. In love. You avoid connection that can lead to heartbreak. You avoid a lot of pain. But God….you sure fucking miss a lot too. You can try to walk off regret, love, heartache, pain, grief. You can walk to something. Or from something. Or maybe you just walk because you can. And its absolutely all you CAN do. It doesn’t all have to make sense. And there doesn’t have to be a reason. There really doesn’t.
I find my church on a mountain. I take my tears and leave them there. It is magical place. A place I return to as often as I can. Maybe I walked for Carson. Maybe I walked for April. Maybe I walked because I was sad. Or angry. Maybe I walked for selfish reasons. Maybe I walked back to me. Maybe thats all it was. I don’t think things always have to be complicated or explained. Or deep or meaningful or make sense. Sometimes maybe you just walk. Because you can. But I know this…a hike is never ever JUST a hike.
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SOMEONE WAS MISSING

My Mom’s retirement party was awesome. So many friends from her years as a teacher and so many friends from her most current role with the Flower Mound Police Department.  She was very lucky to have two amazing careers. We were lucky to watch her navigate finishing college with 3 small kids and starting a career while taking care of a family. We surprised the crap out of her. It was so cool. She thought I’d flown back to Denver. The look on her face was great. Worth all the scheming.

Two of my Dad’s friends came as well. My Dad worked at UPS for a LOOOOONG time. And made many friends there. And his two close friends that came to the party have both retired from UPS. I grew up knowing all of these people. Cheer Moms, teachers, truck drivers, friends, family, they were all so kind to come. And as I looked around the party my eyes landed on my Dad’s two friends. Just like at my Nanny’s funeral recently when I looked at my Uncle Louie and cried…I became emotional. Someone was missing.
He worked so long and so hard and saved so much money for his retirement. Mom too. They had big plans. To travel and go and spend our inheritance. It truly is not fair. That he doesn’t get to retire. To enjoy the years of rest and travel and grandkids and beer drinking in the driveway. And its not fair that we don’t get that either. That his kids and wife don’t get that time with him. He took care of us for so very long. Devoted hours to a job to provide Guess jeans and cheer uniforms and soccer fees. And watching my Mom give a speech alone was emotional.
Im so happy for her. And where she is in her life. But it will never be ok. And thats something to sit with. All of the milestones that pass make you realize that life is just not fair sometimes. And thats true for everyone. But in that very selfish, self-absorbed moment at my Mom’s retirement party I was just sad. Me. Sad for me. Sad for Mom. And I missed him even more. I know he raised a beer to celebrate her. I know, logically, its death. And thats a part of life That we all deal with. But at that moment all logic flew out the window. And I allowed the sadness. And the “I miss you’s” to come.
I hope that where he is he gets a big fat retirement party. And beer. In kegs. And music. And a celebration. Im gonna go climb a mountain now. He’d want that. He’d climb them with me if he was here. Dont wait for retirement to relax, travel, drink a beer, sleep late, climb a mountain. Do it NOW. NOW is all you are ever promised.18236434_10212968301068224_910179568_o

UNCLE LOUIS & MY SELFISH ASS

There are still days I struggle to “fit in”. I know I don’t need to. I know it doesn’t matter. I know I love myself now for all that I am and am not. But I admit- there are days I still struggle to be her. The Mom of 2 with the mini-van who goes to Pilates class and church regularly and makes dinner every night and goes door to door with her kid selling girl scout cookies and can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Admitting you aren’t those things is hard. And feels vulnerable. And like every other perfect wife and Mom looks at you as if you’re a failure. As if you’re selfish and awful.

I chose to get married and have kids. In fact…after MANY pregnancy losses I REALLY chose to have kids. And those 2 mean the WORLD to me. Ill stab a mother fucker if they hurt my kids. Dont doubt that. But there is no denying who I am and how I do things is so very different than most. And even though Im ok with it. It doesn’t make it easier.
At my grandmother’s funeral recently I stood at her graveside and whispered “and now the women go.” In the past 11 years I lost both grandfathers and my Dad and my second Mom, Lynda. The man I married has a disease that will take him. And it does not escape me that everyone leaves. Everyone. All the men go. In every way. Death, running, whatever it is…they go. And perhaps its the knowledge that they all leave that makes me who I am. The girl who is not attached. Who can’t attach. Who runs. Who does things differently. Who’d live in a tiny house on the side of a mountain alone if she could.
I have a degree in Psychology. I know how the mind works. I know the fear of abandonment is real and all of the defense mechanisms that one creates to squelch that fear.
I know what wanderlust is. I know that wanting to get in your car and drive far away and hike alone is probably not normal. I think I realized Im not exactly “normal” a long time ago. Whatever that is. 🙂 And in this past year I am really ok with it. Not being normal.
I cuss a lot. I don’t like weak women. Or subservient women…being that is my biggest fear. I love to be alone. I love to be with my friends. I LOVE beer. I don’t really love wine. I truly HATE shopping. I do it online now. The thought of a house in the suburbs makes me want to throw up. I couldn’t care less about my furniture, my kitchen appliances, my decor, my throw pillows ( I have none), or what color scheme my house is (there is none). I eat cereal for dinner often. I’d pick Johnny Cash over Luke Bryan 10 times over. I own a shotgun. I hate bigots. I have absolutely no comprehension of why anyone thinks gay people shouldn’t get married. Why the hell is it anyone else’s business? I love high heels and lipstick and having big hair & Im barely 5 feet tall but Ill start and finish a bar fight without a blink. I might lose- but I wont stop swinging. I believe in big, awesome love that causes butterflies- and not accepting less than that- EVER!
My kids are funny. They can survive on their own now. I let them watch Friday, the movie, when they were like 10 and 11. What else do you need? The thought of a brunch/tea party with the “ladies” makes me want to smoke a joint. I’d rather throw on a ball cap and climb a mountain with my girls. Brunch is dumb. And for people who slept too late to eat breakfast. Women who have no friends and never go out with them and only have their husbands to tag on Facebook are weird to me. I love rap music. I love country music. I love music. I miss my Dad. Weirdly- I think of my Pawpa more often. When I saw my Pawpa’s only surviving brother, Louis, at my grandmother’s funeral recently- I lost it. Id held it together for so long. But his face is Pawpa’s face. And I fell limp into a 90 year old man’s arms and cried like an infant in a cemetery. And he held me and patted my back and just said “I know…I know…”. And he did.
I know Im different. I know Im atypical. I know Im not the best Mom. I know Im selfish and free-spirited and cuss too much and constantly fight the urge to just run. RUN. Leave it all behind and just go. I hope my kids know that has nothing to do with them and everything to do with WHO I am. And that they love me anyway.
Im learning to love me. Every day. For all the good things I am. Deep, too deep, sensitive, nostalgic, smart, kind, forgiving, happy. And all of the things I am that may not be considered so good.
I posted a song this morning called “Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band. And its the story of a man who cannot change who he is. A wanderer, a leaver, a gypsy. But I am the man in the song. The weirdo girl who leaves before she can be left. Who wanders. Who is never satisfied. Who loves big. Who is learning and accepting that I may not be perfect. Far from it. But that’s ok. Every single person who’s crossed my path has taught me something. And a few taught me that being authentically me is the only right thing I can do. Figuring out who you are may take a lifetime. ACCEPTING who you are….well…..THAT is everything!
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FINE LINES

As I age there are lots of wrinkles on my face. LOTS. In fact, this reminds me—I need to find a groupon for Botox. And I don’t want to hear shit about how its poisonous….so is my face looking like an 82 year old man’s butt. So shut it. I don’t love the big huge wrinkles but its a funny thing….Im actually, truthfully kind of fond of the fine lines. You know- the ones that are very thin and fine and come out of the sides of your eyes and really show up when you laugh or cry or smile. I actually, honestly like them. Those fine lines.
I took a little trip to Estes Park to meet a dear friend for some hiking the other day. When I jumped in my Jeep I just looked at the crack that runs horizontally across the windshield. You see- for those that don’t own Jeeps or live in the mountains…Jeep windshields are disposable. Truly. I have a 2015 Jeep and am on windshield number 3. The rocks and debris seem to hit the small rectangular piece of glass just right and they crack easily. It might be the roads Im traveling too ;)-. Anyway- Ive given up getting it fixed or replaced with every crack and just live with it. So I got in the Jeep Wednesday morning and looked at that crack as I started down the road. Its positioned in just a spot where below it is the road and above it was the horizon…the mountains. Quite poetic. You’d think a fine line across the windshield on a long car ride through the mountains would bother me. I actually, honestly like it. Its a sign of imperfection. A sign my Jeep has been places. Up trails and on mountains and in the woods. It has earned the fine lines. Just like me laughing, crying, smiling….has earned me the fine lines on my face.
I am married to a dude who’s brain is shrinking. My grandmother, who I was very close to died last week. I still struggle with the loss of my Dad so tragically. I have a joint disorder that causes pain most of the time. I run my own business. I have two kids who need me. Rely on me. Lets just say the stress level has been above average as of late. In every area of my life. So leaving on a Wednesday to drive solo to the mountains to get away, to hike, to drink beer may seem crazy. And I began to think on my drive. I began to wonder- am I RUNNING AWAY or RUNNING TO? Am I escaping, running, getting away from? Or am I growing, learning, resting, finding some peace on this little trip? And I realized….there’s a very fine line between the two.
The guilt associated with accepting that Im running away, escaping reality, leaving my responsibilities behind is real. Its overwhelming. And I accept it. The glee associated with driving my Jeep into the mountains with no cell service and moose and elk and hiking and beer in a random roadside pub is real too. And I accept it. And I need it. And its selfish and awful to some. And so very necessary for my soul.
There are fine lines that run across my face. They come from YEARS of shit and happiness and joy and laughter and crying and adventure. Theres a fine line running across the windshield on my Jeep. It got there by rocks from some back road trail hitting it…and spreading. When that Jeep took me to some mountain I climbed. There’s a fine line between me loving myself and taking care of myself by going to the mountains where Im happy and being a Mom who’s just running away form all the shitty shit at home. And I accept that too. It is all that it is. I accept the selfish, ugly, childlike, shirking responsibility part of me…..along with the part that is teaching my kids to follow your heart, be who you really are, travel alone, climb mountains, drink beer, don’t be afraid of LIVING LIFE.
There’s just a fine line and a few inches between love and hate, good and bad, adventure and danger, running to and running from….I’ve learned that walking that fine line is the best place to be….for me.
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Nanny

There’s been some hard things Ive had to do in my life. Miscarriages- very late term. Friends’ deaths. Burying my Dad. Getting a Brain Rot diagnosis. But I don’t think there’s ever been anything as difficult as telling my Grandmother that her child died. That child was my Dad. Kids aren’t supposed to die before their parents. They just aren’t. Its un natural. And unfortunately Ive known a few people who’ve lost children way too young. And though my Dad was 53 when he was killed…he was still her child. And telling her that he was dead….just moments after I’d found out myself…it’s just something I’ll never forget. And I’ll always live with. And in that moment of raw, intense grief I thought mostly of my own loss. My Dad died. Way too young. Very violently. And I sat in my grief and felt it so deeply I can’t express. And I regret not knowing in that moment that the loss I felt…however deep and intense…could not compare to hers.
There is no loss greater than that of a child. None.
Allie Christeen Griffin was born in Denton, Texas in 1926. On a farm. Her father died when she was 5 years old in a logging accident. Her mother died when she was 18 of cancer. She was an orphan at 18. I cannot even imagine. She went on to get a job in Denton where she’d meet my grandfather, fall in love, have a very long marriage and 2 kids. She helped raise me. When my super young parents had me they had to work. So she kept me several days a week. She made me cookies and taught me to sew and read to me and took walks with me. I was an only grandchild for 6 years so I was a bit spoiled. And unbelievably lucky to live so near all of my grandparents.
She helped me buy my first car. She told me to go away for college. Her & Pawpa told me how unbelievably important an education was. And helped pay for that too. Not enough words for how grateful I am for that. When my heart broke, she came to see me at college with my Mom. She was at my High School graduation. She was at my college graduation. She was at every football and basketball game I cheered at. She made me dresses and hemmed many a prom dress for me. She made a quilt out of my college sorority t-shirts. She got to see my babies grow up. She was my Nanny. I love her. She is who I am built like. Physically.
She is with Pawpa & Dad now. The pain I’ve felt since losing my Dad is immeasurable. So thinking of how her heart has been broken for the last decade makes me sad. My Dad loved her. I loved her. I always will. And be grateful for it all.
When my Pawpa was dying of cancer she was at his bedside and he was laying there with one eye open. She asked him to please sleep and close his eyes. He said he needed to keep at least one eye on her because she was pretty & might get away. Once in awhile the fates get it right. Fate got it right with them. I am sad. But my heart is full of gratitude for being blessed with such an amazing grandmother. And an amazing example. Just like my Dad often did- she told me she was proud of me. And THAT..…….is everything.
She gave me her old jewelry box full of costume jewelry YEARS ago. It smells like her when I open it. I wear the jewelry…often. I think I’ll wear it more often now.
Love you, Nanny. Peace for you now.
This song has always reminded me of you- now it is quite fitting….
“You greet another son, you lose another one
On some sunny day and always stay, Mary”
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