Grief(The Silence and Screaming)

I haven’t even looked at this site since I made my last post. I haven’t made an attempt to write anything at all. Even when I try to write in a journal just to let out what is in my head all of a sudden there is nothing to say. Daily there are a million things in my head that I want to get out, share, and let go of but daily I feel completely unable to say any of it out loud. This week I’ve finally felt the smallest release and decided to seize the opportunity in case it goes away.

If you have never experienced a huge loss or overwhelming grief, and I sincerely hope you haven’t, it is hard to put into words all the things that come from it. I’m going to try. For myself. And for anyone who reads this and feels like they are going crazy. You aren’t. And you aren’t alone although if my own feelings are anything to go by you probably feel that way quite often.

When I found out my Mom had cancer I very much immediately thought she would die. My Dad died quite suddenly and my family is full of optimists which didn’t make a difference then and they were so full of optimism about my mom that it just felt the same. It wasn’t the same at all.

My Dad died from a viral attack on a heart defect. We had no warning at all. That, I thought, would be the hardest and worst thing in my life. There were no time for discussions or goodbyes. I had so much resentment and anger toward my Dad because he had multiple opportunities to get his heart problem fixed in the many years since they discovered it and with a fixed heart what killed him would have been like a simple cold. It’s been ten years since he passed and I’ve made peace with the fact that unlike so many people my Dad lived his life exactly how he wanted and unapologetically. I still miss him deeply and there are still times when the first person I want to call is him. The pain changes but it most certainly doesn’t dissipate. He always told me that I needed to let loose more and have more fun. I can only hope that the choices I’ve made in life reflect that advice.

My Mom died from brain cancer. We found out the day after her 51st birthday. The funny or not so funny thing depending on who you are is that my Mom was one of those people who always had something wrong with her and when she started complaining about dizzy spells and blurry vision we told her it was because she didn’t eat enough or ever drink water. That initial guilt for my brother and I was pretty strong. We quickly learned that her tumor was inoperable but they thought radiation followed by chemotherapy really stood a good chance of beating it. This was 2020. So on top of her being sick none of us could go with her to any treatments including when they took her to the hospital for what would become the day they found the tumor. I work in a restaurant so on top of my mom fighting for her life my family felt it wasn’t safe for me to see her without quarantining first which I couldn’t continually and also couldn’t just take all that time off work although my boss was very accommodating. I saw her in June and took her to some radiation appointments. I spoke to her every day for a while and then when she started to decline because of the chemo I would check in with my aunt. In August my aunt called and said she thought I should start coming home as often as possible. It took two long months for my family to finally accept the reality that my Mom was not getting better. Some days I’m still really angry at the time I lost with her but I understand their faith and their need to cling to hope. We all agreed that she wouldn’t finish her chemo. There had been no improvements and it was only making her sick. The doctors told us it would be about three weeks until she passed but much like the strong woman she’s always been she stuck around for seven. The amount of pain it caused everyone just to have to sit back and watch her become a shell of a person is something I didn’t know I could withstand. I still think about it constantly and often have nightmares about taking care of her and the state she was in at the end. You always expect to have to help care for your parents when they are old but seeing your relatively young parent reduced to a hospital bed completely unable to help themselves will break you. My aunt, mom’s sister, took time off of work and was there nearly every second of the six months my mom was sick and I’ll never be able to thank her enough or repay her for what she did because the truth is I’m not sure any other person in our family could have done what she did or made it without her there. My mom’s wonderful husband was there every step of the way as well and at seventeen years older than my mom I’m positive it never crossed his mind that he would have to watch his wife disappear before his eyes. My brother was only twenty-one when my mom passed. They were so close and she was all he had left as a parent and I couldn’t even be there as he had to watch a second parent leave him. It has just been over a year since my Mom passed and I truly think the grieving process has just begun for most of us. Much of this past year I think we were in shock still. She was such a huge part of our lives and had an extremely large presence any time she was around. I know the rest of my family feels her absence just as strongly as I do and that she hasn’t left our minds for one second since she left us.

Grief is a bitch. It is difficult and absolutely makes you feel like you’ll never climb your way out. My parents are not the only people in my life that I’ve lost that were very close and very important to me but their loss is certainly the strongest I’ve felt. There are days where my mind is so busy but I have nothing to say and my body feels empty. There are days where I want to scream and crawl out of my skin. I find my feelings hard to talk about. I don’t like to say out loud that I feel weak. Some days I just want to never speak again and some days it’s all I can do to hold the scream inside my body. Sometimes I wake up and there is a moment where it feels like everything is normal and that they are still here just a phone call away. There are days where I wake up crying or already sad because I dreamt of them alive and upon waking immediately know that was just a dream. There are so many things I remember about them that bring a smile to my face. There are regrets I have about all the things they have and will miss in our lives. There is so much fear that as time passes I will forget them. Their essence. Their smiles. Their laughs. Most days I know that losing people is a part of life and that we will all get through this and be okay but there are plenty of days that I feel so broken and like I may never be truly happy again. There is fear that people may think I’m not grieving enough or that I’m grieving too much. There is fear that my grief is a burden to those around me and the urge to keep it all to myself is overpowering. There is fear that if I don’t handle my feelings in a timely manner that my grief and anger could ruin my relationships with the people I care about. Anger. Stress. Sadness. Exhaustion. Feeling out of control. The need to have time to yourself to process and the intense feeling of loneliness. It’s all there. Sometimes all at once. Sometimes you get a break and they take turns. At the very bottom, not even daily, there are these beautiful glimmers of light and hope that sneak by all of those other things and keep me going. My grandmother talking out loud in her bedroom to a game show. My grandpa finally retiring and finally just enjoying the remainder of his life. My husband and his dry sense of humor that keeps me astounded daily. My brother finishing college, getting engaged, starting a job he loves, and making a life for himself. My cousin’s son ,who was born right after my Mom got sick, being more energetic and funnier than any of us can handle. My aunt continuing to do too much for others because it makes her feel good. My friends getting married. Some days are so dark I truly feel like giving up and that my grief might suffocate me one day. But there is light. Sometimes I have to force myself to accept it and force myself to see all the goodness that is still around me.

Just know that if you’ve felt any of these things you aren’t alone and you aren’t crazy. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to want to be alone or not be alone. It’s okay to need people or need help. Time does make it all feel less raw. Most importantly don’t be afraid to tell someone. Even if it’s a stranger. If you need to talk, talk. If you feel like you are losing let someone know. Letting your grief consume you is a dangerous thing but allowing yourself to feel that grief is so important.

Grief(The Silence and Screaming)

2021…It’s still a new year

It’s January seventh. We are a week into a new calendar year and it is not the bright new beginning many of us had hoped for. Let’s back up.

The last update I made we were all at a point where we were holding our breath for my mom. We knew she wasn’t going to make it but we weren’t sure how long her suffering would last. She passed early in the morning on Halloween. It felt fitting for me because despite loving to decorate for any holiday Halloween was definitely her least favorite. Of course she decorated for fall but not nothing Halloween specific. Since then I’ve had to travel back home to West Virginia three times. I wanted to spend the holidays with my family but the truth is being there without her was suffocating. And continuing to see things daily that I would call her for or send her pictures of is almost physically painful. While we do have a good support system of family and friends it is a strange feeling being this age knowing my brother and I are all that is left of our family unit. It is hard to describe the feeling of being alone I’ve had since we lost my Mom even when I’m surrounded by people I love.

Moving on to more moderate news there is some financial relief happening for us now. It will take time for sure but I feel more reassured everyday that we will make it out of this slump last year put us into. While I don’t feel that financially we started the year on a positive note I can say it feels safe to take it out of my negative category. I hope that many people are feeling a similar hopefulness with regard to their finances as well.

We finally got a COVID vaccine and many people even in my own life have already received their first dose. The willingness of so many to quickly take the vaccine brings me hope that the presence of COVID in our everyday life will start to fade. I don’t believe we will see what we considered “normal” for quite some time but we all are hoping to be able to socialize and live our lives with less fear.

The truth is we went into the New Year celebrating almost normally and it did feel like everyone released a huge breath at midnight as we tried to focus on the future and say goodbye to the past year. Yesterday’s events put an immediate tension on the possibility of 2021 being a better chance for us all. Watching everything unfold yesterday and hearing the head of our country provoke outrage and encourage the people to take back what was “stolen” was horrifying. A small light seemed to come as we confirmed our next president.

I think this year still has a chance to be a light for us all. Although we may still be processing and dealing with events from the past and the present feels shaky we can still hope for every tomorrow moving us toward a brighter more positive year. If you are still doing new year resolutions good on you! I however decided not to promise or commit myself to anything but trying to be happy and good to myself. Most of us had a rough time of it and I think we all deserve a chance to piece things back together in our own time and take a break from telling ourselves we have to make a change and make improvements constantly.

Here is hoping that today finds you better than yesterday and that the thought of tomorrow excites and interests you.

2021…It’s still a new year

We’ve Only Got a Little Left

I try to at least update with the seasons for myself so I can look back and see how the year has gone. Unfortunately I get caught up and usually only hit spring and fall. So here we are in October with only ten weeks left of the year that refuses to stop.

In May we hadn’t gone back to work yet thanks to good old Covid-19 but we did get to go right around Victoria weekend and the season started off strong with two holiday weekends back to back like it normally does although nothing about daily operation felt normal. We really felt like it would be safe to dip our toes into the optimism pool but this year had other things in store.

In the beginning of June my bosses mother suddenly passed and he was gone for two weeks which is by no means long enough to process something like that but it’s really all the time he could manage. Then my husband got Covid from a co-worker, who chose not tell anyone they were symptomatic and had gone to get tested, and all five of our household were out of work and into quarantine. We all missed July fourth weekend which is one of our biggest in the summer although the fireworks were cancelled this year as well.

We all got to go back and the rest of us never did get sick. My husband however still can’t smell at all and is just now getting his taste back which has been harder than we anticipated as he loves trying food and cooking. I found out my Mom’s radiation worked great on her tumor but in that time two more tumors had grown, so now we were on to chemotherapy and they were so confident that it was aggressive and would work in no time. At this point the year still felt like it could have an upturn. Somehow we all never lost that hope.

In September we realized just how bad the year has been monetarily for us and are hoping that winter and next year will help us get back to a good spot because we were on track to have our best year financially until Covid hit. In September we realized my Mom’s treatment wasn’t working and the doctor not only agreed to stop treatment but informed us she only had about three weeks left with us. So I started making the six hour drive home as often as possible taking time off work I couldn’t afford because nothing matters more than being home with my Mom and family.

As I sit writing this I’m in my Mom’s living room, the only home my brother and I ever had, watching her sleep in the hospital bed her sister and husband had put in the living room so we could keep her home and care for her here. They both are completely working from home in order to take care of my Mom and the truth is I don’t know if I could sit here every day and watch her go. It’s been five weeks since the doctor told us she had less than a month left. She certainly isn’t getting better but she’s still here and talking and laughing and crying and eating but it isn’t living it isn’t a life.

I can’t be certain because life does have a way of surprising me but I imagine that the end of this year will in fact bring the heartbreak and hard times that I was dreading in the spring. If you’re reading this I hope that this year has been much kinder to you and given you hope for an even better year to come. If it hasn’t just remember that in the middle of all the bad there are always good small moments and victories that are just as important as all the big ones.

We’ve Only Got a Little Left

2020…I don’t even know where to start

I think we all try to start each year as optimistically as possible and this year truly got off to a great start for me.

And then COVID-19 hit and while I was out of state everything began to shut down. Our St. Paddy’s party was not only our first get together of the “summer season” it also became the last for the foreseeable future. Obviously parties are not the end of the world but for my small slice of this world no personal socialization also meant no tourism which is our livelihood. Monetarily we would be fine for a while but working is about so much more than the money it brings and having our long winter extended felt like punishment for sure.

After a month and a half of stay at home it seemed like the state would reopen soon and loosen it’s hold. I took the chance to go visit family for the weekend while I had time only to find myself rushing back to my family the day after I made it home. After a trip to the ER we found my mom with inoperable brain cancer which in itself is hard to wrap my head around. Pairing that with already having lost my Dad and my brother only being twenty with the potential of being without parents before he’s even made it into the world as an adult I can say that I’ve truly felt at a loss for the correct way to respond.

We’ve gotten the news that businesses can open soon and the world will begin to find normal again. My mom will start treatment soon for about six weeks and it will be three months before we get to see if it’s doing anything at all.

I’m in such an odd place of feeling thankful that there is potential for good things to come and being so scared that the end of 2020 will bring only misfortune and loss. If you’re reading this and you’ve been feeling a bit dark at the situation of the world these days just know you aren’t alone in your fear or even bitterness. And if you’re reading this and you woke up this morning feeling shockingly optimistic know that you aren’t alone either as I believe it is human nature for our mind to try and help us see the potential for both good and bad scenarios.

2020…I don’t even know where to start

Fall is here! (Update)

Hello there,

We have officially made it to the time of year where I have time to talk about all the life things again! In the winter I began talking about eating better and working out consistently and then in the spring I started talking about keto as well so here are some updates from my year.

  • I did sober January
  • I consistently exercised 6 days a week from November- April
  • Between April and June I lost 30 lbs on keto.

A couple of things about keto for me personally: I found it very easy to give up the carbs and find replacement foods, I often felt fuller for a longer period of time than on my “normal diet”, I noticed increased energy, and I noticed an improvement in some consistent stomach/bathroom issues that I have had for a while, and finally I did not experience the “keto flu”(unfortunately my husband did).

  • Once my busy season started, as I’ve mentioned I work in a tourism based area, I found it nearly impossible to keep up with workouts and meal prep. The lack of personal time away from work made following the keto diet quite a bit harder mostly due to food variety options.
  • I did maintain the weight I had lost throughout spring and am quite happy with that result and now that we have more time for ourselves again we are back at it.
  • I am doing sober November as well!

I have some plans this winter to be more consistent with my health updates and experiences and plan to expand on other media outlets to include DIY for our house as well as a personal experience with health podcast. Mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally this has been my best year absolutely since I was about 16. I have more hope and positivity going into this winter than I ever thought I could.

Wishing everyone a happy year end,

Rachael

Fall is here! (Update)

Here we are 1/3 of the way through 2019…

So I guess I just want to check in see how my life’s going see how your life’s going. I feel like with spring there is always this new wonderful energy everyone feels, but also it is a time when maybe those new life goals we’ve set for our self really disappear into next year’s problem, again. There are so many things that I’ve made the choice to put on myself this year like attention to self care and well being, health, accountability just to me, and saving. Chances are, well not even chances because I’ve already messed up, that this year won’t be exactly as I hoped or planned but the most important thing I’m hoping to take away from this year is the ability to jump back into a commitment I’ve made even if I fall off occasionally. It’s only a loss if I give up right? So where are you in your goals for the year? Has anything just completely derailed you? Here’s where I’m at:

  • I worked out six days a week through January and half of February and then I got busy, went on vacation and haven’t made the jump back to that yet. So this week I’m jumping back in and hopefully it’ll stick for a while.
  • I decided to be sober in January, but drank way too much in February and March. Having said that I am planning on at least two if not four more months of sobriety throughout this year. I really enjoyed the way it made me feel physically and mentally, and although I don’t foresee giving up drinking completely I think a break every now and then is very beneficial.
  • I’ve still been using a journal to put all the feelings in as well as one for to-do lists, one for dreams, and one that has writing prompts. Most weeks I hit my twice a week goal for those because I find myself wanting to let it out and see where my thoughts take me without having to deal with the emotional repercussions of internalizing it all. As of right now I can’t see giving that up ever. I love to write anyway and I’m not good at talking about things or letting things go so it has been a tremendous help to me.
  • I’m feeling optimistic about the upcoming work season and hope it brings great things. Only time will tell about that one.
  • My diet ( read what I eat not a special diet I’m on) hasn’t been horrible but it certainly could be better which is one of the reasons I agreed to go keto with my husband. Today is day two of keto so I don’t have a lot to tell you except that we did our research and shopping before we started so that we would have the food, drinks, and supplements we felt we would need to do this safely and successfully. If you are doing any type of health and diet work I highly recommend getting one or two apps to help track your exercise, food, water, and specifically for keto one that shows macro counts. We chose keto because the meal prep and food availability for this is something we thought would fit easily into our lives as they become more and more hectic throughout the summer. I recommend always doing research on things that can affect your health before you do them to decide if it is the right fit for you, your needs, your goals, and if you can safely partake in it.
My journals (from top to bottom: To-do, writing prompts, dreams, and everyday life.
Here we are 1/3 of the way through 2019…

Spring is in the air!

Hi there! I hope today finds you in a positive place. I like so many others feel like as the sun comes back and the air starts to warm that I have more energy and am ready to take on more in life. If that’s you too it’s alright. There are days all throughout the year, not just winter, that I lose the battle with feeling like doing nothing and I don’t just mean working out I mean dog walking, house work, and even hobbies. That’s okay too as long as we don’t let one day become all of the days. It’s okay to give yourself a break or some time to pamper yourself. For me this year is truly about listening to my mind and body and having more self love.

As I’ve discussed before I’ve been trying to eat better and workout, but this is the time in the year when all that effort seems to start to fall off the radar for me. I get tired, busier, and maybe even discouraged but this is the year that I am working through those feelings and pushing forward. I hope that if you’re in a similar place knowing other people are struggling with you helps you work through it all.

Here are the things that are working for me:

  • Keeping a to-do journal so that it isn’t all in my head
  • Keeping a journal so that the good and the bad experiences and feelings in my life have a place to go. To be worked out on paper a bit so I can help myself tell what are legitimate concerns and what things I am overthinking.
  • Eating two meals a day instead of three. There are a million opinions on how often you should eat and how much, but you have to do what works for your body and lifestyle. I have to be honest with you all I love food and sometimes if I would let myself I could eat a ridiculous amount. So eating two big meals leaves me feeling fulfilled and satisfied.
  • Variety in my workouts. Finding new things so I don’t get to a place where I dread working out. For me this is super important because I lack focus and the will power to force myself to do things I really don’t want to do.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that my husband would like to get healthier and we are both in the position that we should lose at least fifty pounds more for me than him based on our builds. He has shown interest and has been researching the keto diet which has become very popular and although controversial I believe for people that have a significant amount of weight to lose and have a carb heavy diet that this diet is a good way to get on the right track. So as soon as we can start grocery shopping again( we live on an island and cannot shop frequently in the winter) we will be giving it a try.

Spring is in the air!

Looks like I made it.

It is officially February. Phil has told us spring is around the corner! I finished my month without alcohol with no problems at all! I am on day 33 of yoga and successfully completed a month of doing at least five days of cardio each week!

Here is what I learned from taking some time off drinking.

– When you decide to put your time and focus on other things the want to drink and it’s place in your priorities quickly becomes low.

-There were only a couple of times in social settings that I really wanted to join in but I had made it so far that I didn’t want to give up.

– Everyone was really great about taking no as no and not putting me down for taking a dry month. I even learned that several people I know take a couple of dry months every year.

About working out:

– I have decided to turn my yearly month of daily yoga into a year of daily yoga and I finally bought a high quality mat for myself.

– The cardio I have been doing is separate from daily steps, dog walking, and work. Each day is a period of 20-45 minutes geared toward improving strength, stamina, and getting your heart rate up.

– I was weighing and measuring weekly, but have decided that every other week is a better amount of time.

– I am going on a cruise next week and intend to work out daily there as well. I have made the plans and packed the proper equipment to get me through the cruise.

– I live in a place that does not have access to gyms and classes so I mostly rely on YouTube fitness channels. My favorites are Yoga with Adriene, Popsugar Fitness, and Jessica Smith TV. There are tons of options but these are great places to start with differing levels of difficulty.

– While I expect weight loss to be a large part of this journey it is important to understand that these changes are for me to feel better inside and out. To feel strong and capable in life, and to be able to learn some new things that I believe my current fitness level will hinder.

Now the food:

– I loosely count calories

– I try to drink a gallon of water a day and no pop but do drink coffee and tea(unsweetened)

– If I want something one day I have it. I’m not out to restrict myself to the point of frustration.

– I try to make healthier decisions about food and try to practice portion control as that is my biggest problem.

Looks like I made it.

It’s 2019!

I know. I know it’s almost the end of January and I haven’t been here in quite some time, but the truth is that life has been pleasantly busy.

I started this year off with Yoga With Adriene Dedicate and a month of sobriety. I’m addition to those things I’ve picked up five or six days of cardio every week and journaling. The cardio is strictly for fitness, the yoga for fitness and mindfulness, and the journaling to see if making lists and writing feelings down on paper helps with my tendency to dwell on unknown outcomes.

I’ve been going at these things since mid December and have surprisingly stuck to them with ease. Having said that I thought now that I have those things going solidly I would come here and try to make another new habit. I’m going for weekly posts but every other week is something I’d settle for.

My plan is recipes, links and descriptions of workouts I’m doing, products I love, real thoughts about life. We all struggle, we are all trying to find our perfect or favorite things, and we all feel like we don’t know where to start sometimes.

It’s 2019!

The season is here!

If I haven’t explained before I live on an island where my place of work is only open for 7 months. The first and last months we are a skeleton crew and that is when business is there but it’s mostly locals. Now that we have made it through the first month and almost a half it is that time again. The peak season. We have new girls to train starting this week and our step count is never under 15,000 a day.

With all that said the new people and new business mean the warm weather is here to stay. We are pretty far north so the warm weather only will last from late April/Early May to early September, but that time is my favorite. Being busier means prioritizing activities as well as meals but it also means that there is a bit more leeway since my activity level is up.

As of May 3rd I am officially 10 lbs down. This journey isn’t all or even mainly about weight but for me weighing myself once a week is a good monitor of how I’m doing, and even though fluctuation and plateaus happen when you are working toward a significant body change your weight should consistently slowly go down.

Since I am not doing any extreme diet changes rather making better food choices, paying attention to portion size, and some calorie monitoring on top of regular exercise I am looking for 5-10 lbs per month. Losing weight this way enables me to make lifestyle changes so that there won’t be too much of a bounce back once I reach my goals.

I do have a couple of milestones and numbers in mind as my “goals reached” but overall there are a few activities I want to be able to participate in and more of a optimum feel good place that I am looking to find that isn’t attached to any number.

I’m sure there will be plenty of slip ups throughout the summer but this week has been uplifting and encouraging. If you’re on a journey like me don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up for mistakes or a few bad choices. The important thing is to accept those and head back into the process with the intention to succeed and the will power to make it happen.

The season is here!