Friday, September 16, 2011

One Year.

I knew I wanted to write something one year from the time we went to Hawaii. Our trip to Hawaii last year embodies happiness for me. Despite my brother's struggle with cancer, it was best he felt and the best he looked since being diagnosed; his attitude was so uplifted. It was such a joyous time for all of us.

This comes at a time when I've had a slight revelation in therapy. In relying on energy psychology sessions to calm my anxiety, I've noticed it's not doing what I want or am expecting it to anymore. And in talking with my therapist yesterday, I now realize what a disconnect I have had with my thoughts and beliefs and what is actually reality. Instead of looking at the time earlier this year as a whole, a time when all these horrible things happened at once, I need to assess each one individually and see where I am on each.

He introduced me to Byron Katie's, "The Work", which includes four questions to ask yourself in trying to facilitate working a concept into reality; A way for me to get to acceptance. Starting with a belief you have about a person (most likely, a blanket statement) and turning it into what is reality and a thought that you can own individually.

For example, the first belief that came to mind when I think of my brother is, he should still be here. That's what I have thought and believed up to this point. It's why I'm so puzzled and in disbelief when I start to think about it. Now, turning to the questions and how I answered them:

1. Is it true?
Of course it's not true. None of us should be here. We just are.

2. If the answer is yes to the first question, can you absoluetely know that it's true? Do you have proof?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I am sad, tense, frustrated.

4. Who would you be without that thought?
Happy, content, calm.

And lastly, turn the thought around so that it is true just for me, not as something that should be for all.
I wish my brother was still here.

We can all have wishes and hopes that are our own. We own them; nobody else does. And as such, we do not own anybody else's wishes, hopes, business or the way they go about their lives. He told me there are three types of business: my business, the other person's business and God's business. We cannot change anybody else's business except for our own. For instance, the weather; we can say all we want that it should be sunny today; it has to be! But really, we have no control over that. The weather is God's business. We can say, I wish it was sunny today, and that becomes our own business.

What is reality is what is (got that?). It is already here and there's nothing that we can do to change what is happening right now and what has already happened.

In talking to my husband about this over lunch today, he said something to me that made this whole process come full circle for me. He said, "Then,  Jesse is God's business now?" And I thought, yes....yes! And there's nothing I can do about that. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Long Weekend.

What a weekend! That is the understatement of the year.....

Our plans for camping were completely foiled. First, we were not able to hold our original camping reservation at our favorite campground (McCarthy Beach) because the Minnesota State government is stupid and could not agree on a budget, therefore causing a statewide government shutdown of almost all services funded by the state. People are layed off from jobs, rest stops closed, all services other than critical care were haulted and state campgrounds barricaded and closed. We were bummed.

But we were determined to go camping and found a nice little campground in Spooner, WI. We packed up and headed out Friday afternoon; 90 degrees when we left. 1 1/2 hours later we arrived in Spooner;102 degrees! I don't remember the last time I felt that kind of heat. We proceeded to set up our tent, dripping sweat and tensions rising. Afterwards, we promptly jumped in the lake to cool and calm ourselves. Life was good. The rest of the family showed up and started to set up their tents when the sky turned dark and high winds came out of nowhere. It was very scary. We were scrambling to throw all of our unpacked things into the tents and jump into our cars/trucks. Trees were bending, lightning striking and then, amidst it all, we heard sirens entering the campground. With everybody scrambling everywhere, it was hard to tell what was going on. We started to head up to the camp owner's garage for safety from the tornado warning and there on the other side of the road was a giant (and i mean huge) tree fallen over...on a tent. It was when we gathered together in the garage with solem looks on others' faces that we learned of an 11-year old girl who had been in that tent when the lightning struck that tree. She was killed instantly. Bless her family. I still can't wrap my head around it. We were all in shock while this storm was pursuing on.

After it calmed down, we headed back and my dad proceeded to finish setting up his tent. It wasn't right. It wasn't safe. Someone had to make the tough call that the right thing to do was leave. The thing was, nobody wanted to admit that we needed to leave because we were camping; we always do this as a family every year. Something was missing. We needed that level-headedness of my brother to say we needed to go. We were just lost.

We ended up throwing all of our stuff in our vehicles and left; defeated.

BUT, we pulled ourselves together Saturday morning because we still had three days to enjoy the weekend. After a morning of unpacking vehicles and laying stuff out in the yard to dry, we put out some decorations on the back porch and in the house. Later on, we headed out to the beach and spent the entire afternoon there. It was lovely! The kids had a ball as did the adults, got a nice tan and then headed over for a nice grilled dinner at my sister's house.

Sunday morning found us at my parents' house for an early morning bike ride, followed by blueberry pancakes and sausage. Yum! Then, a group of us headed up to my in-laws' cabin for the afternoon. Fishing, jumping off the pontoon in the middle of the lake, sun, rhubarb slush drinks, a bonfire, sparklers and a wonderful dinner on the grill made for such a fun day!

And the Fourth! Monday started with a lovely breakfast for just our family (and Uncle Lukey, of course) with omlets, hasbrowns, banana bread, fruit and juice on the deck. So enjoyable. The boys enjoyed throwing some pop-its (love them) on the ground with a neighbor friend and then we met my family for a parade and back to their house for some serious bike decorating! The bikes looked magnificent and the kids had a blast. (I think the adults had more fun helping them decorate though..hehe). They lined up for a mini-bike parade for grandma and grandpa. So cute! We headed home, napped and woke up to 90 degree weather again. It's slightly miserable; you can't sit outside without sweating. So, we decided to do water balloons and a sprinkler party with a watermelon snack. We loved it!

And finally, we headed down to the waterfront to take in the outdoor symphony concert followed by amazing fireworks to music. Great ending to a great weekend!

I hope everyone stayed safe and had a wonderful Fourth of July! (I think I'm done camping for awhile).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Freedom: A Snippet on Energy Psychology

By request, I am writing a post about my recent experiences with what is called energy psychology. About every other therapy session I attend includes a portion using this technique. My therapist (who specializes in holistic practices) offered to use this technique because I was having some serious problems with my chest being so tight, I could not breathe. It really sucked.

After what were the worst weeks in my life, anxiety reared its ugly head into my life. My issue with breathing became correlated with driving. Originally, my anxiety would get worse while driving because I was in an enclosed space. My thoughts would consume me and cause me to become aware of my breathing, in turn, making me shaky and lightheaded. It then manifested itself into everytime I would drive, I would start to feel anxious. That was until the worst day ever, when I found myself pulled over on I-494 in a full-fledged panic attack; I was completely out of control of myself. I had to call an ambulance and only after being given Ativan was I able to calm down. It was awful and I hope I never find myself in that place again. I was sure I was never going to live normally. But I refuse to be one that takes medicine to make myself feel okay; I would not let that run my life. So, that next Monday morning, I contacted my therapist who I had met with twice, explained the previous event and pleaded for something that would help me. He told me he could try some energy psychology techiniques if I was interested. I was willing to try anything.

Energy psychology is a techinique performed by a trained and licensed psychologist. Sometimes it involves the tapping of accupressure points, but the techinique my therapist uses doesn't involve any touching, just controlled movements with his hands around areas of energy around my body. It works by accessing the primitive parts of the brain and therefore allows him to work on my subconscious processes rather than focusing on the cognitive/conscious parts of the brain. This is not hypnosis, as I am completely aware, eyes open, not having to think about any particular thing.

This website explained it better than I can: "From the point of view of Energy Psychology, painful physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms are the result of a disruption in the energy system. When the disruption is corrected, symptoms will be replaced by healthy functioning. For instance, a phobic response to spiders would be replaced by a calm response to spiders. All aspects of the phobic response would be normalized. Therefore, physical sensations of distress (such as tense muscles, racing heart, lumps in the throat or sensations in the pit of the stomach) are alleviated. Disturbed thought processes (such distorted perceptions and catastrophic expectations) are normalized. Negative emotions (fear, panic, anger, helplessness, confusion, etc.) are replaced by inner peace. Unhelpful behavioural tendencies (flight or fight or freeze responses, for example) are corrected. All of this can be achieved using the natural resources of the body’s energetic system."

This issue I was having with presistent emotions was not being helped by deep breathing, relaxation, etc. Nothing. I researched it and everything I read stated that people had immediate and successful results. Just what I needed. I could not even wait!

After my first session of energy psychology, I felt nothing less than amazing. The tightness was gone; no lie. I could not wipe the smile off my face. I did feel the tightness come back a couple times later that week, but since have not had an issue. Last week, we worked on this correlation between driving and breathing awareness. It only took about 15 minutes; he moved the breathing from my "brain" to my "heart" over and over and kept having me imagine myself driving after moving the breathing to my "heart". Driving is normal now. That's all I'm saying. Crazy.

I know it is easy to skeptical about these types of practices and because EP is a fairly "new" practice used, the jury is still out on the concreteness of its standing in Western medicine. All I am saying is that it has done wonders for me - that's all I care about. If there weren't any energies being moved at all and it was just a trick to my subconscious, I'll take it. The end result is amazing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

After a Hurricane, Comes a Rainbow....

I have been clinging to those Katy Perry lyrics for awhile now; knowing somewhere in my mind that the sun always comes back out. And I can finally say it's true.

It has been a very rough month or so. It has seemed like forever since I felt normal. But, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel; I'm not quite there yet, but I can see it :) I feel happy and positive again. Through therapy, energy psychology (best thing ever), some Qigong practice and a lot of self-reflection, I am able to live again. Losing my brother is definitely the most horrible thing that has happened in my lifetime, but he would want us to move on, live and be happy. We will Jess :) In his famous words, "It's all good."

I have the BEST friends, family and in-laws. All have been sooo supportive and helpful to me. And it sounds kind of selfish that this is all about me, me, me. But if I have learned anything, it's that you have to get through tough situations yourself. You have to figure out what works and you have to do it for you. You can't worry about anybody else, as much as you want to help others. You take the outside support and help and let it move you along. Because until your are right, you cannot help anyone else. That is the truth.

I received the BEST card from a good friend recently I wanted to share. It reads: "She's the kind of person who looks at a cloud and says to herself, 'There's a Rainbow coming in just a little while'. Then she kicks off her shoes and dances in the puddles until the sun comes out again."  Best. Card. Ever. And I'm so happy that I feel like that again :)
Anyway, I'm excited to blog again! Sorry about the hiatus! Thanks for reading :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Take Me Away...

If you're not one for serious posts.....move on...

This morning we got some pretty awful news. I know. Again. Our friends' one-year old daughter passed away last night due to some complications stemming from open heart surgery she needed to have to fix some holes in her heart. She was doing so well last week after the surgery and they were so hopeful last week and now this. It saddens me even more than I already am. That sweet little girl.

I told my husband this morning that a very long string of really great things better start happening because I cannot handle this life the way it has become. He told me I can't just sit around and wait for those good things to happen. My mom told me that bad things will never stop happening, but that you take them in stride, become right with it and move on. I wish it were that easy.

Anxiety has taken over my life. I now dream of a day when my chest doesn't feel tight and I can breathe easy. It's such an awful feeling. My meeting with the therapist can't come soon enough; I feel like it's slightly an emergency. I feel like I'm desperately grasping for air, sunshine, happiness and relief.

I've done some extensive reading on how to ease anxiety; methods to try, supplements to take, etc. I have tried a calming tea; that helps for a little while. And I decided to listen to these self-therapy sessions last night before bed thinking it would calm me. I was wrong. The first two excerpts were explaining how anxiety affects you and how your subconscious takes control. That made me even more aware of what it happening to me and sent me spiraling into my third anxiety attack so far.

This morning, I decided I want to move away. Far away. Where I can gain back control and then come back with a renewed spirit to take things head on. I know I won't just move away (it's a glamorous thought), but being here in this life isn't working right now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

In Retrospect...

I think the last week is all just a blur....

My brother's memorial was absolutely beautiful; filled with everyone that loved him, countless pictures, kind words and wonderful music. It was just how he would have wanted it. A celebration. It felt easy not to be sad that day. Surrounded by SO many people; I felt such love and support. I'm so thankful for that.

But I think yesterday was the let down from it all. An immense feeling of sadness and anger filled me; my life felt like a pit. It was easy for me to go through such an intense list of things that were leaving me with such a void - I've lost my brother, my husband's lost his job and in turn, he's lost his ability to emotionally support me fully, I don't have my wedding ring (short story....2-year old flushed it down the toilet a week ago), I have a wreck for a sister.......those feelings turned into me feeling like a bad parent with a lack of coping skills, not having any goals to work toward; just feeling like I'm existing; moving, but not never getting anywhere. Plenty of people told me that the last week has just been too much, but my response was it will all be fine. My husband will find a new job, we'll replace my ring, my brother's memory will live on, etc. But the truth is, it is too much. It's way too much all at one time. It's such a dark feeling.

I have learned that talking through these feelings helps immensely. I know it will take time for me to come right with myself, but keeping aware of my feelings and taking one day at a time is how I will proceed.

Today is a new day and a good one at that. I feel somewhat of a renewed spirit. Our lives are forever changed, but in this new chapter we will be closer and stronger. From everything that happens in our lives, we become better people.

Thanks Jesse for being the best person I know; I'm so proud to call you my brother.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Life Theme Song

I keep hearing this song on the radio, but haven't actually listened to it. Now that I took time to hear the words, I decided I'm adopting it as the theme song for my life right now, in pertinent part.....

Keep Your Head Up
By Andy Grammer

The glow that the sun gives
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you'll turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you'll turn out fine.

But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.
you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.

I know it's hard, know its hard,
To remember sometimes,
But you gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh.

I've got my hands in my pockets,
Kickin these rocks.
Its kinda hard to watch this life go by.
I'm buyin in the skeptics,
Skeptics mess with, the confidence in my eyes

I'm seeing all the angles, starts to get tangled
I start to comprimise
My life and the purpose.
Is it all worth it,
Am I gonna turn out fine?
Oh, you'll turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you'll turn out fine.

Only rainbows after rain
The sun will always come again.
Its a circle, circling,
Around again, it comes around again.

Thanks, Andy, for some insight :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Box of Chocolates: Part Two

Here I am. Two days after my brother's passing.

I am writing this to hopefully come to terms with what has happened. To drag the right feelings out of myself.

I've been surprisingly calm throughout these past couple days. Very surprising to me. Almost unnatural.

It is still very surreal. The last couple of months; the images in my brain from his last days; it seems like a bad dream.

My mind will start brother died....he's not here anymore...i've lost him...... immediately my body wants to hurl up my heart, but at the same time, it is such an unfathomable notion that I feel my brow furrow and my head slightly shake to rid myself of the thought.

I don't think it has hit me yet. I know it will take time.

Am I going to call his phone number forgetting he's not there to answer?
I won't ever see him again. Ever. EVER!!
Take me instead because he was much better than I.

Just while writing this, the image came to me again. Of a body with nothing left. Will that image ever escape me? That body was my brother's. Sleeping on the cold concrete floor of his hospice room with my husband, my mom, my sister and his wife....listening to his low, shallow, automatic breathing.....literally waiting for him to pass. It's all such a memory that seems so unbelievable, morbid and strange.

At the time, I just wanted it all to be over. I even prayed for him to finally go. I want to race back and take those thoughts away and just sit there with him. And comfort him. And tell him it will be alright.

When I think about my brother now, it's not the cancer that comes to mind, but how he was before this nightmare started. It's as if my brain has discarded the last 10 months. And I'm glad that the disease did not define him in my mind; but it makes the pain worse and feels like this happened way too sudden.

Rest in peace my dear sweet brother. Am I really writing this? I know this isn't what any of us ever imagined.

This awful dream can be over. Can I wake up now please?!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life IS like a box of chocolates..... never know whatcha gonna get.

In my current struggle to deal with my brother's fight with cancer, I realized I have never felt such a wide array of emotions that are so fast-changing. I'm starting to think I might be schizo....not really. One day, I will think, this is MY brother (oh man, tears already writing this....gah!) and I get so mad at the cancer I want to punch or kick something. But that's the thing; cancer is intangible. You can't get mad at cancer. It doesn't care - in fact, it laughs you in the face.

The next day, I will be just fine. Happy as can be, the world cannot harm me and I can be support for others who are struggling that day without a glimmer of a tear. I am so strong these days.

Today, I find myself in that other mood; the cranky mood. I hate being at work right now. I'm snappy and annoyed at my bosses and they should know why. They do. But I still hate being here.

And finally, the sad days. The days I can't stop crying because life is so unfair. So freakin' unfair.

When I have looked at my brother in the last month, it's not him. He doesn't look like himself, he's confused, he's tired. In trying to cope and understand my feelings, I just recently realized why I'm having such a hard time. I thought, 'this is my only brother and he has always been my closest sibling; my go-to sibling. i used to talk to him almost every day. we hung out all the time. so, if he is the one i would normally talk through a serious family situation with, who am I supposed to talk to when he's the one that's the subject of this hell?????' and if he knew exactly what was going on right now; if his former self could have some perspective on this, he would not be okay with this. (blurry eyes...can't see my keyboard).

I have noticed recently that I have been having more of a calm feeling. And it scares the shit out of me. It scares me because I really hope that I am not starting to accept this situation; of what might happen.

I went to the hospital this morning to visit and he was the same; tired, losing more hair and so small. Right before I left, I gave him a kiss on the forehead. He immediately said, "Eww!" That brought a smile to my face. That's my brother :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


When you hear that something is 'permanent', is it really permanent?? There are so many cleaning solutions out there, nothing should actually be permanent. But, alas, I'm here to tell you that permanent markers are actually permanent; on certain surfaces.

Picture this. I jump in the shower yesterday morning for approximately 8 minutes. Eight minutes. The minute I get out of the shower, O yells (nonchalantly, I might add), "moooommm, come see what Aldy did. He colored on the couch".  p.s. in parenting, 'come see what ____ did' is never good. I come dowstairs and see three distinct scribbles, one on each cushion of the couch. Then scribbles on two throw pillows. I immediately think, 'where the heck did he find a black marker??' My head whips 90 degrees to the kitchen to where I find a dining room chair pushed up to the wall shelf that holds some pens, pencils guessed it, sharpies. GAH!! 

I then assess the damage. I look at the couch and shake my head..which then leads me to the scribble on the couch arm. Then my eyes are distracted by the scribble on the carpet and then the ottoman!!! He had went on a scribbling rampage. I was speechless.

After the very stern talks and lengthy time outs were initiated to both the Scribbler and the lazy one who didn't care to tell me what was going on, I took a breather, hands on head, and basically did a circle around my house. But wait. Out of the corner of my eye, what's that on the couch in the sitting room?? Oh yes, a scribble on each cushion there, more scribbles on the window sill and the window, the throw pillow......and his tiny police car. AHHHHH!!!!

My heart sank. How was I going to get this permanent marker off of all this furniture? Now, I immediately rushed to the computer to do a search. Turns out, I'm not the only parent this has happened to. (I even read a story about a woman whose 2 year old scribbled all over her friend's couch with a sharpie....that sucks.) So, rubbing alcohol seemed to be the answer for the microsuede couch; hairspray for cotton fabrics; and I surrounded myself with various other recommended products, nail polish remover, furniture cleaner, Melaleuca Sol-U-Mel and carpet cleaner. Enough to give me the largest headache ever. I scrubbed for two hours straight. Two hours of serious scrubbing and the results are in:

I am happy with the results, even though there are still faint signs of the destruction. All the cushions have been flipped in the sitting room (thank God we are planning to do away with those couches....soon), the marker came out of the throw pillows, except for a small faded line on the yellow one. Oh well, I'll flip it the other way. It easily came of the window and sill and ottoman. But most importantly, the microsuede couch. If you didn't know the faint marks were there, you would never tell. And I'm okay with that.

As for now.....I've learned my lesson. The markers are put away.