Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Year Six

October 5th is the day that I dread each and every year. October 5th is the day that I re-live the very worst day of my life. Today marks six years since Dan was killed in action while serving our country. And as this day approaches, the feelings and emotions re-surface as it was happening all over again. The pain, the sadness, the shock; it all comes flooding back. So to sum it up… today SUCKS.

It is such a weird feeling. Because my life is pretty amazing. I have the love of a wonderful and supportive man named Kristopher. I have two beautiful little girls that I get to stay home with and watch grow and blossom. And I have a home that Kris and I created together, that is full of love and laughter. But when October 5th shows its ugly face, I revert back to the newlywed who learned that her Husband of four months was killed. And it is so incredibly confusing and difficult to exist as both people for those 24 hours. Because for the other 364 days of the year, I remember Dan in such a positive and joyful way. I daily think of the wonderful life that we had together. But I also take joy in the amazing and full life that I live today.  I proudly display Dan's military awards and tributes in my home, as my little girls play on the floor right below them. Kris and I speak of Dan, and the memories that we had with him, and we smile. I can co-exist as a proud military widow, and the military girlfriend and Mother that I am. But for this one day, I struggle. Because I turn back into the grieving widow. The widow who replays the words "Dan died" over and over again as they came out of my Dad's mouth. I go back to a house that is flooded with people, yet feeling so incredibly lonely. I go back to sitting at my dining room table looking at casket options, and thinking that I must be in a nightmare. I go back to when I was handed a folded flag. I go back to a person who was broken. Lost. Unraveled. 

So today I must co-exist. I must find a way to focus on my two amazing girls, while still giving this day its proper attention and purpose. I must find a way to let Kris know that he is such a strong and loving man that I can't imagine being without, while also paying tribute to the man that I vowed to spend the rest of my life with. I must find a way to do the laundry and run my daily errands, while fighting the urge to crawl in bed and sleep the day away. You see my dilemma?

The bottom line is, six years ago today, the world lost one hell of a Man. A funny and silly man. A strong and brave man. A man who loved his family with all of his heart. A man who was dedicated to serving God. A man who absolutely loved his job; despite all the dangers that go with it. And a Man who was a wonderful and attentive Husband to me. 

Dan, you are missed by everyone who knew you. And what a blessing it is to know that you are in Heaven! Thank you for loving me. Thank you for choosing me to be your wife. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be selfless and brave. Rest in peace, Daniel James. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Living A Wonderfully, Imperfect Life

It has taken me quite some time to realize that the life I thought I was going to live, is not going to happen. Growing up, I pictured myself as being this perfect housewife. With a perfect home. Perfect children. Perfect everything. Obviously, this was very naive of me. And if the past seven years of my life have taught me anything at all, it is that I am imperfect. Flawed. Broken. And after a lot of time, thinking, and therapy; I have discovered that I am totally and completely okay with it. In fact, I kind of love it. Because I have realized that in my imperfection, I can still be a complete and whole person with a lot to offer this world. 

I have had to accept and adapt to a lot of things in my life. Living life without my Husband. Losing my health and my hair to an awful disease. Living with the constant fear of a relapse of that disease. These are all somewhat obvious things that I have had to come to terms with. But unfortunately, those huge events in my life caused somewhat of a domino effect on my psyche. And after I thought I had "accepted" these events and come out on the other side, I realized that I was left much more damaged than before. Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and an eating disorder are now all things that I battle on a daily basis. I am not proud of them. And some are more managable than others; but they are there. Everyday. And they will most likely be with me in some form or another for the rest of my life. So here I am; totally and completely imperfect. 

But the wonderful thing about my imperfect life, is that I am incredibly happy. It sounds like quite a contradiction, I know. When things started going south in my life, I put so much pressure on myself to heal and move on. I had this weird need to prove to everyone that I was "okay." And I think I faked it for a long time. But over that past two years or so, I have come to this wonderful place of self-acceptance. I have allowed myself a bit of grace, and realized that I don't have to be perfect. I don't even have to be "okay." My imperfections make me who I am. And I am a woman who is learning how to live life with anxiety and OCD. I am learning how to battle the demon of "body image" and the need to be thin enough. I am learning the coping skills to live life everyday and with a purpose. And what a relief it has been. 

My wonderful and beautiful reasons for coming to a place of self-acceptance and self-love are my two little girls. I know that had I not gotten pregnant with Evelynn, and started my amazing family with my boyfriend Kris, that I would still be faking it. I would still be lying to myself, and telling everyone that I am okay. And battling my issues secretly and not in a constructive manner. They truly are my miracles. They saved me. They saved me from imploding. They saved me from myself. They forced me to deal with all of my issues head on. I want to be a role-model for them. And I can do that; imperfect and broken. I can show them that you can find happiness after heartache. You can fight and battle through insane obstacles and survive. And that you don't have to be societies version of the "perfect woman" to have self-worth. I want to teach my girls to love themselves. To love their flaws. And to embrace their imperfections. If I can do that, then I have done my job. 

We all have our own flaws and imperfections. We are all battling with different demons. But the most important thing is to love yourself as is. We are never going to be perfect. And we can't please everyone. There is something so beautiful about living through our battles and letting them mold you into this new version of yourself. And I am finally happy with this Kristen. The broken and battered Kristen. The Kristen that I pray my girls can look up to and learn from.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life Lessons at 30

Well, today is my 30th birthday. How in the hell did that happen? Wasn't I just in high school? Where my biggest concerns were studying for tests and practicing for an upcoming tennis match? Wow. Life was so incredibly simple back then, even if it didn't seem that way at the time. My education, my sports teams, my friends and my family were what my entire life revolved around. I could easily sit here and say, "Life was so easy back then. If only I could be 16 again." But in all honestly, there is something so beautiful about being thirty. About ME being thirty. I feel as though my life is so much richer at this point in time. Sure it has its varying degree of difficulty and stress. But my twenties taught me so much to help bring me to this place. They taught me things that can't be learned in school, or by reading a book. I have narrowed down what I think are the three most important things that I have learned thus far in life: 1) To always trust your gut 2) To rely on others and not be afraid to ask for help and 3) To love fiercely, and without abandon.

Trusting my gut is something that I never did growing up, or even early on in my adult years. I had a blissful ignorance about me, where I thought everything was going to be fine, and that it was all going to work out. So even when my gut was saying one thing, my mind was sweeping it under the rug and thinking glass-half-full. And in my situation, my gut is most always right, and it is most always telling me that something big, and often bad, is going to happen. When I was diagnosed with cancer, both times, I knew. Deep in my gut I knew that the original mass they found was something more. And when  my cancer returned, my gut told me to go to this appointment solo because it wasn't good. I wanted to absorb the news alone, before I told anyone that my sickness had returned. And sure enough, those scans lit up with cancer, just as I suspected. And even with my wonderful husband, Dan, I had a gut feeling that something bad was going to happen to him at some point in his Air Force Career. Which of course made each goodbye grueling and painful. I so wanted to be positive and annoyingly bright and sunny about his deployments, but I just knew that something was going to happen that would change our lives forever. It wasn't a strong sense that Dan was going to lose his life, but I knew that war was going to change him, change us, for the worse. And we all know how that ended. And lastly, the one time my gut told me something positive. Meeting my amazing boyfriend, Kris. Something felt so right immediately with him. It was a weird sense of comfort and safety. My gut was most definitely telling me that he was going to play a huge role in my life. And once again, my gut was right. He is my best friend, and my Love.

Relying on others. Asking people for help. Letting people see me in an extreme moment of weakness and vulnerability. This is not something that I was ever used to doing, because I never had to. But my twenties forced me to do this. Funnily enough, my twenties (referring mostly to losing Dan and two bouts of cancer) turned me into an extremely independent person with an "I do what I want" attitude. But along with that came the need to rely on others. Weird how two such extremes occurred at the exact same time. Starting with Dan's deployments, I had to rely on others when I needed support. Whenever I was worrying about his safety, or feeling lonely, I had to reach out to family and friends. And they were there. And after losing Dan, relying on others is what allowed me to survive. Even if they didn't know it, I relied on them to pick up the pieces on my bad days, or weeks for that matter. I relied on them to watch out for me if I was feeling a bit sad or depressed about losing my Husband. And again, they were there. My battles with cancer is when I really needed to rely on them, let them help me, and became the most vulnerable version of myself. There was a point where I couldn't even use the restroom or shower without assistance from my family. Even sitting up in bed took help at times. I needed someone with me 24/7 in the beginning phases of my recovery. I had to let go of all the pride and integrity I had and just let them take care of me. This was extremely hard at times, but it was necessary. My family and friends are a huge reason for my success, or survival, rather. Whether it be asking for a little company on a rough night, or asking for help walking up my stairs because I was too weak to do it alone. They were there. And they still are. Being pregnant and giving birth all while Kris was deployed took a village. The same village that has been there since day one. I sure do love my village.

Ah, my last and favorite life lesson. To love fiercely and without abandon. This is by far the most important thing that my twenties have taught me. From losing Dan, to dealing with my own illness, to giving birth to my little miracle, I learned how to love. To love hard. Not that I didn't know how to love or let others in before all of this, but I learned how important love is after experiencing the past ten years of my life. Loving someone so much and sending them off on numerous deployments is so incredibly scary. Because being without that person during those deployments hurts so badly. Worrying about that person's safety is incredibly overwhelming. And losing that someone is painful. Numbing. But the love that all of that takes is a strong one. And doing it again now with Kris just solidifies how strongly I love him. It is all worth it. And FEELING that strong sense of love and outpouring during my sickness was incredible. You really feel how much your family loves you as they are helping you clean your feeding tubes in your arm and stomach. Or holding your wig as your vomit. Or picking up any type of food that sounds good just to get you to eat even a bite. That level of love is one that I am so very thankful for. And my little family of three. I get chocked up event thinking about the love that I have for Evelynn and Kris. The way I feel for her is something I could have never imagined and I can't explain. Together, Kris and I created this perfect little miracle. I have experienced so many different types of love. And that is what has kept me going when I wanted to quit. I have learned to love with my entire being, my entire soul. Because this life is short. And although strong love can come with incredible hurt, it is worth it. Every second of it. So love those around you. Tell them. Show them. And do it often.

So as I approach this new decade in my life, I can only imagine the new life lessons that my thirties will teach me. I am sure there will be ups and downs, good times and bad. However, I can't wait. I can't wait to watch Evelynn grown and learn new things. I can't wait to make new memories with my family and friends. I can't wait to see what is in store for Kris and I, and our life together. My twenties were filled with some of the absolute best and worst times of my life. Marrying Dan. Losing Dan. Battling cancer. Twice. Falling in love with Kris. Giving birth to our beautiful daughter. Wow. What a whirlwind. I am aware that my thirties may bring change. Big change. Perhaps a reoccurrence of my cancer. Maybe a move for Kris and I to wherever the Air Force sends us. Either way. I am ready. I feel like a better person for what I have learned thus far in this life. So am I ready to turn 30? Absolutely.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

An Update on my Life as Mommy, Girlfriend, Widow, Cancer Survivor

I cannot believe that it has been over a year since my last post! Wow. But boy does it feel good to be writing again! I don't make New Year's resolutions often, but this year, I vowed to blog on a regular basis. I have so many thoughts and experiences that I can't wait to share with you all. But for now, let's just play a bit of catch up! Bare with me, this might take awhile!

As many of you know, I am the extremely proud mother of a beautiful and perfect baby girl! Evelynn Bre is now one year old! Holy crap. Wasn't I just pregnant? The past year of my life has gone by so incredibly fast. Being a mother is amazing, and more than I ever thought possible. But it is also exhausting. Scary. Frustrating. The list goes on.

I am going to be one of those annoying woman and say that my birthing experience was a "breeze." I didn't realize that I was in labor until I was 5cm dilated and told to go to the hospital ASAP. I was admitted around noon, and delivered Evelynn at 3:20pm. I pushed for about 30 minutes and out she popped! 6 pounds and 5 ounces of perfection! They always say that you fall in love immediately and that it is a love that you have never experienced, and they were right. I was just holding her. Staring. Breathing her in. Her scent was intoxicating. I couldn't believe that she was mine; forever. She took to breastfeeding immediately and we never experienced any issues with that. I was very lucky to have such an easy delivery experience. And my brother and sister were amazing. Each holding a leg and encouraging me the entire way, all while Kris watched on the webcam. The three of them were the best support system that I could have asked for!

Kris was obviously deployed for the birth, and the first six weeks of our little girl's life. It was just me and her against the world. I remember our first night at home. I thought I could do it alone, and sent my family on there way. I was so confident. I couldn't wait to sleep with my little miracle in my arms. Ha. That did not happen. I ended up just staring at her as she cried, crying myself. I had no idea what she wanted. I didn't know if I was breastfeeding correctly. I didn't know if she was comfortable. It was so difficult! And that is when I knew that motherhood was going to be much harder than I could have ever imagined. We eventually found our grove, and got to know each other. The six weeks without Kris flew by, and before I knew it, we were a family of three! Seeing Kris hold Evelynn for the first time was amazing. I think I fell in love with him all over again. And even though Kris has been gone here and there for work trips, we have been able to experience all of her firsts together. Her first solid food feeding. Her first time rolling over. Her first steps. And I couldn't love my little family of three any more! Being a stay at home Mom is tough. But each day as Kris gets home from work, and I see them together, my heart is full of such love, joy and devotion. They are my world. And I am so incredibly lucky to get to spend every day with them.

Along with being a Mother, I am a cancer survivor. I am still getting routinely tested and checked for cancer. And I hate to say it, but I don't think I have seen the last of it. It is just a gut feeling. And if you know me, you know my gut feelings are not usually wrong. But I have a whole new reason to fight. SHE is my reason to fight. I remember laying in bed years ago, sick and weak, thinking that if I died, that would be ok. But now the thought of dying completely terrifies me. I have to be here, for her. I want to experience all the things that Moms experience with their daughters. School dances, first dates, boyfriends, weddings, children. If I do have to fight this thing again, I will do it with a completely different outlook. I have beat it twice, and I have complete confidence that I can do it again.

Mother, cancer survivor, and very much still a widow. It has been a tough transition to make from grieving widow to doting Mommy and Girlfriend. I so feared telling Dan's family about my relationship with Kris and about my pregnancy. And not to my surprise, they were incredibly supportive and loving, and continue to be so. I am so blessed to have them as my family, and to have them as an active part of Evelynn's life. We are so loved and supported. My family, Kris' family, Dan's family, all loving on my daughter and welcoming her into their lives. And I couldn't be happier. A part of me is sad that Dan never got to experience me as a Mother. But I know that he would be proud of me. And one day Evelynn will know that her Mommy had a very special man in her life, and that Daddy had a great friend. She will know his story, and what a Hero he was. Kris and I proudly display all of his awards, metals and pictures in our home. I must admit, I always feared what my "new" life after Dan would look like, and how my new significant other would feel about Dan and my love for him. I never thought that I would be so lucky as to fall in love with someone who knew Dan, and respects him and his sacrifice as much as I do.

Whew... that was a lot. So to sum it up, I am a Mommy. A girlfriend. A cancer survivor. A widow. A writer. I have experienced such pain, grief and sickness in this life. I have looked death in the face. More than once. And I have experienced love in so many forms. I have a Hero in Dan, who sacrificed his life for our country. And I have a Hero in my wonderful boyfriend, Kris. I am so loved by him every single day, even when I don't deserve it. I have my good days. And my awful days. But as corny as it sounds, this life is a journey. It has ups and downs. Ebbs and flows. And don't I know it. But if I look at my life right now, as I sit here, wow, good for me. I have a crazy supportive family. Great friends. A wonderful Man by my side, and the best little girl I could ask for. I'd say I am doing pretty good for myself! I don't take anything for granted these days, and know that everything in my life is a gift from God. He is why I am here today. Happy. Hopeful. And ready to continue my journey!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Happy "Birthday" To Me!

One year ago today, early in the morning, I was being prepped for surgery at the Stanford University Cancer Center. The decision to have the surgery was one that had been weighing on my mind for months one end. Should I risk it despite the grim percentage of success? Should I forgo the surgery and live my life until the cancer is too much for my body to handle? It was, by far, the biggest decision I have ever had to make. But boy am I glad I chose surgery! Although that morning was full of nerves and anxiousness, I was ready. I kissed my loved ones goodbye, shed a few tears, and got wheeled back into the operating room. And then everything went dark.

I remember waking up and asking right away whether or not I was cancer free, and I think I remember them telling me, "yes." But it wasn't until day two when it really sank in. CANCER FREE. Wow. I had been waiting to hear those words for a very long time. That was the day I remember thinking how blessed I was. That was the day that I began to dream of all the possibilities that were laid out in front of me. That was the day my life began; again.  

As quickly as those euphoric thoughts filled my heart and mind, they were taken away just as fast. As many of you already know, the recovery that followed that very special day was pure HELL. I literally began to starve to death, as my body was not properly absorbing calories and necessary nutrients. I was vomiting multiple times a day. I was becoming weaker and weaker. And as I wrote in a previous blog, I got to the point where I was ready and prepared to die. I went to sleep at my parents so that I was not alone. It was the darkest moment of my life. The surgery was life saving, but the recovery was life threatening. It was a very scary, and very humbling, few months.

Fast forward to today. It is my one year birthday of being CANCER FREE! Happy Birthday to me! And I must say, a few months ago, I would have never imagined that I would be where I am today. Healthy. A proud homeowner. And expecting a miracle baby girl. I have the constant love and support of a wonderful family, great friends and an amazing guy. I had always hoped for this life; one day. But I never thought I would have it this soon. And although times aren't always great these days, pregnancy isn't all I thought it would be, and deployments aren't my favorite time, I am beyond blessed. I am happy. Truly happy. Which I haven't been able to say in years. Even though I am patiently waiting for the other shoe to drop, because that is what life has taught me to do, I am enjoying every minute of it. 

Oh what a difference a year can make! Days of sickness and fear have been replaced with days of hope and dreams for my little girl. Vomit buckets and prescription bottles that used to sit by my bed side will soon be replaced burp clothes and a baby monitor. Months of sitting on the couch, to weak to move, have been replaced with months of home projects and decorating a nursery. And instead of being fed through tubes and formula that I carried in a backpack, I am being fed by pregnancy cravings. All of these "instead"s are MORE than welcome in my world.  

I pray that I remain CANCER FREE for the rest of my life, and that I can celebrate September 12th every year. However, I also know that this may not happen. Being pregnant with my little miracle means that I must put scans and tests on hold for the entire pregnancy. It is very scary to think that it may be back. But worrying does not do anybody any good! So I will keep my hopes high, and focus on what I need to. And if this battle becomes a part of my life again, so be it! I like to think that after what I have been though, I can handle just about anything. :) 

To all of my readers, remember that where you are in life right now is not where you will remain. Things change. People change. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. But regardless, embrace this life for where you are right now! Enjoy every minute, even the tough ones. Because they will mold you into who you will become! 

September 12th, 2012

Me, sporting my new "backpack" of formula
(My sickest days)

My actual birthday April 2, 2012

September 2013

The sting of the word, “cancer” is one I know all too well
My mind began to wander and the tears began to swell
The day my fight began is one I hold very close to my heart
It could have easily broken me down, it could have torn me apart
But at the moment I made a choice to fight, and it was a fight I must win
Little did I know the painful battle I was about to begin
The pain, the tears, the lonely days where I thought that it was the end
Has molded me into the person I am; a better sister, daughter, and friend
I began the fight at a sprint, a walk, and then a very slow crawl
The strength I gained through my cancer battle was worth it after all
Now “cancer free” is where I stand, and I am so happy to be here
A return illness and growing tumor is still something that I fear
I can’t live like that, I can not worry about what is out of my control
So I will love and I will laugh, and live a life that is so bright, so full
I love my life and all those in it, and feel so incredibly blessed
Cancer is just a part of my story, and I can’t wait to write the rest

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vacations, and babies, and houses... OH MY!!!

Well, hello there! It has been far too long since I have last posted. It has been over three months! In my last blog, I mentioned that I was tired of living in the "transitional phase" of life, and that I was was ready to start living my life! And boy did I start living. The last three past months have been full of so many wonderful things, as well as some fear, anxiety and unexpected changes. I do not even know where to begin, but let me try!

I have had a lot of dreams and goals in this "new" life of mine; post cancer. These dreams and goals have always existed, but some have grown stronger, and some were forced to be put on the back burner. One of my dreams that I, very painfully, had to put on the back burner was having children. I found out that after so much chemo and radiation that I was unable to have children. I attempted to have my eggs removed and frozen, but was only able to retrieve four, as my ovaries had completely "shriveled up," according to my Endocrinologist. I was devastated. Being a mother was always a given to me. It was extremely difficult for me to come to this realization, but I got there. I knew that fighting for my own life was my number one priority. Well, as many of you already know, I have been blessed with a true miracle. The day after I posted my last blog, April 30th, I discovered that I was pregnant, without medical intervention. At first, I was numb. Completely shocked. But at the same time, I could not believe that God had allowed me to become a mother, after I had accepted that it wouldn't happen for me. After the shock wore off, I was elated. I kept touching my stomach, and could not believe that there was a little life growing inside of me. It is an amazing and wonderful feeling. However, I could not feel 100% happy about this until I shared the news with the father, Kris.

Kris is someone that came into my life after Dan passed away. He is an EOD tech as well, and worked with Dan. When Dan passed, I needed a friend. I needed someone who understood what I was going through, but was still far enough removed to be able to be there for me completely. Wow. That sounds incredibly selfish. But I will admit, that was a very selfish time in my life. Kris was also going through a loss, and was in the middle of a divorce and a custody battle for his two beautiful children. We bonded through our pain, and become friends immediately. Friendship turned into a relationship, which turned into a very real love. And in the past few years, we have had our ups and downs, like many relationships. However, regardless of where we stood, Kris was ALWAYS there for me, and I for him. Even when he was deployed in Afghanistan, he supported me through in-patient chemo, and was also a huge part of my recovery from the surgery last September. He truly is my best friend. And I could not be happier to be sharing this journey with anyone else. Not only is he a wonderful father, but he is a great man. He will make a great daddy to our little miracle. No doubt. We are thrilled to welcome this little girl into our lives.

Prior to finding out that I was pregnant, I was looking into buying a house. It was something that scared me, but it was also such an exciting and validating feeling. Finding out about the baby only made my desire to own a home that much stronger. I didn't want to bring our baby girl home to a condo. I wanted to make a home for my little miracle. And a little part of me always wanted to move out of the home that Dan and I started together after he passed. I fear that if the baby had not come along, I may have never left. I have so many memories and emotions attached to that place. I needed a start fresh. And that is what I got. I purchased a home about two months ago, and absolutely love being a homeowner. We are able to start our family here, and make new memories. And so far, we are loving every minute of it. It is a very stressful event as well! There are so many little things that need to be done, especially before the baby comes. But it is an exciting type of stress, if that makes any sense. But we are making progress, little by little and inch by inch. Buying a home is just another exciting chapter in my life.

And if the past three months haven't been busy enough, we hosted the 3rd Annual Daniel Johnson Memorial Golf Tournament on June 11th. And once again, the event was a success. It was our most successful tournament to date. I absolutely love doing things that honor Dan, and help to keep his memory alive. It is always such a fun day, full of wonderful memories. It is so humbling to watch this event grow bigger each year. The people who come out to support Dan, and our family, are so amazing. We are truly blessed to live in such a supportive and loving community.

And again, as if we were not busy enough, my family and I left for a family vacation to Hawaii on July 1st, after we wrapped up the golf tournament. Since my first bout with cancer in 2008, my family has been by my side. And throughout the past almost five years, they have never left. I know I mention it in every single blog, and it is probably getting annoying and repetitive, but I have the most amazing family that anyone could ask for. I wanted to find a way to thank them for being my rock, my punching back, my nurses, my therapists, and my shoulders to cry on. So off to Hawaii we went! Our week together was great, and it was such a wonderful way for us all to let go of the everyday stresses of life, and just focus on what is most important; each other. And although I did not know I was pregnant when I booked the trip, the timing was perfect. Once my little girl and my little nephew are born (due dates just four weeks apart,) I imagine our family vacations may be few and far between. And although my family has never once required even a verbal thank you, I am glad that I was able to provide us all with the Hawaii vacation, and some wonderful and lasting memories.

And to top things off, Kris left early yesterday morning for deployment. Here I go again. Even though this is not my first deployment, they don't seem to get easier. The past week has been so busy, and so full of last minute "to-do's." Watching him pack and do his pre-deployment errands was really difficult. But the only thing that I can keep telling myself is that by the time he returns home, he will be returning home to our little family. He will not be here for the birth, and that scares me a bit, but I know that I will be okay. Going through the last four months of my pregnancy without Kris is not ideal, but I know that things could be much worse. I have been so blessed to have him by my side through the bouts of morning sickness, sleepless nights, and doctors appointments. And now he must go off and do his job, and I will support him 100%. And when he returns home, his little girl and I will be waiting to welcome him with open arms.

Okay, I think you are all up to date! Whew. I must remind myself never to go that long without blogging. Writing is still my passion, although I do not find the time to do it as much as I would like. But that will change. Writing a book is still one of my many dreams that I plan on making come true. And I believe that this new chapter of my life is the perfect way to wrap-up the last five years of my life. I am very blessed, and can't wait to see what is in store for me next!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Learning To Love My Life

I often find myself thinking that I am in a "transitional" phase in my life. I remember telling myself in the three months after Dan died when I was not yet back to work that, "This time will pass. Life will start again eventually." And I have told myself that numerous times in the past few years; especially as I was laying on the couch recovering from my life saving surgery. And here I am yet again, telling myself that exact same thing; "Relax. This is just a transition. Life will start again soon." Well, boy was I wrong.

I have wasted so much time in the past few years waiting for my life to start. When in fact, I am living the life that God intended me to be living RIGHT NOW. Pastor mentioned something at church on Sunday that really hit home. I don't remember what he said verbatim, but the general message was, "Don't spend so much time waiting for your life to start, that you miss an opportunity to live in the present." Amen to that. That message spoke to me in such a huge way. I may not have the Husband, children, Master's degree and career that I planned on having at this particular stage in my life, but I have so much LIFE going on in different ways. I have a handful of friends that mean the world to me. I have a family that supports me and loves me every minute of every day. I have nieces and nephews that make me smile. I have a home that I love and enjoy returning to every single day. These things seem so mundane on a daily basis; perhaps because I take them for granted. But they are my LIFE.

I realize that even in those three months after Dan died, and the months that followed, I was making memories. I was LIVING. I got tattoos that mean so much to me. That was me, LIVING. I went on a trip to New York and had an amazing time. In fact, one of the memories that I remember most is sitting in an Applebees drinking, laughing and people watching. It seems so ordinary, but was one of my favorite nights. That was me, LIVING. When I was recovering from surgery, snuggling with Gracin was something that really helped me keep things in perspective and to continue fighting. Again... me, LIVING. And now, as I plan Dan's third annual golf tournament and plan for two vacations, I am LIVING. I am not happy every single day, but as corny as it sounds, I try to find a bit of happiness in every single day. And I do. And those moments may just be a laugh between friends, or an afternoon in the sun, but to me, they are significant.

I have to remember that just because my life isn't where I want it to be, or planned on it being at this point in time, that's okay. This is still my life. I have joy. I have laughter. I have passion. And I have a faith, that is never perfect, but it has gotten me through some of the hardest times of my life. So, from this point on, I refuse to think of any part of my life as "transitional." Every success, struggle, memory, bad day, lazy day... it all makes for one hell of a life.

All these "transitional times" have changed me. Life has changed me. So when I think back as to who I was a few years ago and wish I could go back to that "happy" time, I kick myself. I may be wounded, jaded, and have a self-esteem that varies from day to day, but this is me. Love me, or leave me. Those that are in my life are here for a reason.

This may all seem a bit corny and redundant, but it is what I am feeling at this very moment. So my advice to all you who read this? Embrace your life. We do not get a do-over. This is it. Do not focus on the negative things going on in your life. Find a bit of happiness in every single day, and do things to make others smile. I try my best to love on those around me. If that is all I do in this life, I will consider it a success!