I have always thought of myself as an adventurous person. I have never enjoyed sitting still and I enjoy trying new things and exploring. I love being outdoors in nature and a little bit of adrenaline. That being said, I would like to emphasize that I wrote that I like just a little bit of adrenaline. Not too much at any point. I like being in control.
After Mike died I realized I never really had all the control I thought I had. I had to go the flow. I had no control over the most important part of my life and I didn’t have the motivation or reason to try to gain it in other parts either.
I also understood the cliché that life is short. I realized that my life could be over at any point and I questioned if I was really experiencing it the way I wanted. I constantly asked myself: Would I be satisfied with myself and what I’ve done if my life ended today? My answer was often ‘no.’ I found that in many areas I was so cautious that I wasn’t really experiencing what I wanted to experience. I was so afraid of failing, or being embarrassed, or hurting myself that I held myself back and didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy the experiences I wanted. I was living but not to my full potential. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I figured that I would rather have a life lived to the fullest then have a long cautious life full of nothing. What’s the point of being alive until you’re old if you never really lived? It seemed all of a sudden like such an obvious waste.
So I started to make an effort to get out of my own way. I accepted my nerves and anxiousness and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do the things I wanted to do. I told myself that I am capable and I can do it. Some things were baby steps and some things were diving right in. For example, I have snowboarded for years but would constantly stop myself to slow down even though I had the skills to go faster. I pushed harder and challenged myself in all the things I enjoyed. It was exhilarating. I realized I was previously stuck in a middle ground of doing things but not fully doing them for years. It wasn’t until I started pushing and challenging myself a bit that I realized how amazing it all was and what I had been missing. I’m glad I took the risks.Read more
Good advice, right? I have always liked to pass that piece of advice onto my kids whenever I had the opportunity. “Take time off before University. Go see the world. Live your life while you can.” That’s what we used to say to them. We had all sorts of tidbits of advice which included, "Happiness is a choice, so choose it." "Be a good person." "Work hard." "Be kind" and "Live Your Life". We only get one of them.
But then Ben died, and everything changed. I became torn between wanting my kids to live their lives and wanting them home with me every second. I became obsessed with controlling everything they did, even when I knew I was being ridiculous. Even when a little voice inside my head told me to lay off or they would say "Sayonara Mama" and move right out of this house so that they no longer had me breathing down their necks. Even when I caused my son immense frustration. Even when I made my daughter cry.
It seems that after Ben died I no longer wanted them to live the life they wanted … I wanted them to live the life that I wanted. And I wanted them home, safe, and with me every minute.Read more
Ever since that horrible day 4 years ago, I have been shoved into every imaginable situation of discomfort. Just like all of you. I’ve been thrust into an oblivion… a war zone of emotions… trying to fight my way through without even knowing which direction I am fighting towards. Fighting in the dark. Wandering. Scared. Trying to survive. Trying to figure out just what it is that I am actually fighting for. Trying to understand what is even worth it in this life, so that I can want to still be here.
The thing about all this, is that it changed me. All this struggle, all this fight to find reasons to be here, to still find the beauty in life, has changed me.
I’ve said it before, but his death taught me that fear is not a good enough reason anymore. He died in order to live his dreams as a helicopter pilot. He knew the risks, we both did… and he chose it anyway. You would think I would be mad about that (and I certainly went through a period of being really pissed that he didn’t have a more boring “safe” job). Instead, it is like his forever reminder to me to not let my fear get in the way.
If he could be willing to risk his life for what he loved doing, than I choose to honor him by trying to always do the same. So while my fears may still be there, I keep choosing to step outside my comfort zones and walk through the uncomfortable spaces. I’ve started to see that beauty and wonder are always just on the other side of fear. A recent experience has reminded me of that...
A lot has been going on this past week. Most notably, birthdays. I wrote last week about Shelby’s birthday and all the emotions it brought up for me. I don’t think it is any coincidence that my mom’s birthday was just a week after Mike’s daughter’s. And thusly, as happens most years, emotions are high. For years now, I have been celebrating my mom’s birthday the same way. Every year, on February 26th, I go buy a card, some flowers, and a tasty dessert and I enjoy this day in her memory. I did the this over the weekend, only a bit different than previous years. I still bought her flowers - bright, cheerful sunflowers. I still picked out a card, and wrote her a letter in it. Instead of one dessert though, I bought three. Because I decided to include Mike and his daughter in this tradition. For me, but more so for Shelby.
When I was Shelby’s age, I didn’t see any version of continuing to celebrate my mom on special days. We didn’t talk about her, and we certainly didn’t celebrate her. To even mention her felt very taboo. I didn’t want another little girl to grow up with that same feeling. Shelby deserves to see examples of how people can still celebrate the ones that have died. How they can still be in our lives as we live on. She deserves to have ways to celebrate her mom when her birthday and Mother’s Day arrive. She deserves to feel like the people around her support that idea and understand that she still has the right to have a bond with her mom.