Life begins on the other side of fear…


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When I moved to Texas, every mile I put between Indiana and myself brought me closer to a new reality. At the time I thought it was just a move across country. 

I spose if I am to be crazy honest, I knew more was happening. I just thought I had time, and I could try to heal and give my marriage one more shot. That decision wasn’t fully in my hands… There are always two sides and two people with choices to make.

It’s weird. While I asked for a separation, for a year to heal and to see if I could be part of a relationship within a marriage constraint, I was shocked when the decision was taken out of my hands. I’ve been broken for so long I almost don’t have any idea when I felt whole last. I just knew I needed a hell of a lot of time to begin to feel like a person.

People have asked me, “when you say broken, what does that mean exactly?” My immediate response is silence. How do you answer a question like that when you’re so broken that thoughts in your own head are fragmented?

I’m a writer.

Writing is not what I “do” so much as who I am. To go a single day without writing is like forgetting to eat food, to breathe air, to think a concrete thought. I have a plethora of journals, notebooks, a blog. I’ve gone two years without writing more than a handfuls of pitiful thoughts and all pertained to my chronic pain or to my brokenness. I’ve just stopped being a person inside. I stopped being me.

I’ve become an expert, thanks to chronic pain, at faking it. I can make just about anyone believe I’m fine, that I’m having a great time, and that life is going along okay. It wasn’t much of a stretch to cover up all that life was throwing at me either. To a few I would be honest, but not TOO honest. I never wanted to be the kind of person you see across the room and take a deep sigh and resign yourself to getting through the conversation.

I’ve always wanted to be organically and authentically real. The kind of person that regardless of where you meet me, what’s going on in life, regardless of commitments, kids, or circumstances, you will always know that I’m the exact same person, that my smile is quick and genuine, and if there are tears, it’s because life is too painful to be covered, not because there’s a ploy for attention or sympathy. I have an aversion to pity. My life has had some significant challenges and I never want anyone to see that before they see me; somehow thinking I want attention for it.

So I’ve retreated. I’ve not reached out and attempted much in the way of friendships since arriving in Texas. For anyone who knows me, my larger-than-life laugh, my excitement at meeting up with friends, the idea that I’ve kept home, mostly to myself aside from family, it’s probably hard to imagine.

I’m grieving. I’m grieving and learning to voice it. I learning to name it. I’m learning to call it for what it is and not what I have labeled it as. Trust me, these are two very different things. For example: I’m learning to say, “I’m grieving the loss of the idea of being married to one person for my entire life.” NOT “I failed at my 21 year marriage.”  I’m grieving not having the dream life (I never had) but tried to convince myself could still happen if I just put in all the effort in for both of us. I’m grieving not being fought for and desired as I needed. Grieving that I wasn’t enough because I was broken.

IMG_0886.JPGThen I’m grieving the loss of my second home, the one I ran to when I needed to escape the hard stuff life was throwing at me. I would “run away” from home and to the local community theater stage. I’d leave my reality behind and assume a character, and let the kick ass girl who never got a chance to knock around in the real world, loose for a while. I learned to stuff myself down into a tiny pocket so that all the roles of motherhood, illness, troubled marriage stuff and the leash of jealousy my husband noosed me with, and be a version of myself I could only be there.

Once, when I was so broken and felt nothing like the girl who once dreamed of taking on the world, I named that girl so she could still exist. My fear was I’d forget she ever existed if she didn’t at least have a name. I named her Kate. Trust me when I say it was literally a life saving tactic. There were days I would talk out loud to myself, in the car alone, and say, “Kate, you’ve got to take over here. I’ve got nuthin left.” I’d let the tears slip and maybe I’d ugly cry there alone in some parking lot. Before I got out of the car, Kate would firmly be in control and somehow I got through the day.

I tried to explain Kate to some people. No one really ever got it. Some thought maybe I was schizophrenic, probably many thought I was troubled. One person, however, did. Always has, does, and will. I’m blessed beyond belief for that friendship. It’s then I discovered that I wasn’t crazy, I was just compensating for the harshness of reality and protecting, coping, preserving who I was so I wasn’t compromised. I needed to separate myself into two halves, lock off Kate, to make sure she was untouchable, all in an effort to ensure that when the day came and I could actually begin to heal, I’d still have my core left. I spose it’s sort of like a seed bank, where you store away the core heart of your plants so that if they die, they have the means to begin again.

I still have time on my side. 21 years was a long time, and three kids extra to love, but at 43 I’m not even halfway through my life if my genes get a say in it. I am now free to begin to heal… and to unlock Kate. We can begin to be one and we will strengthen and grow my soul back again. My prayer is that as I learn, grow, and flourish once more, I will bloom and create a life so amazing, I never again will need to preserve a core, locking the precious parts of my heart away.

IMG_8006.JPGAs I stood on a windy, sunny, cloudless ocean beach in October last year, I heard the still small voice calling me to a new life.  I knelt on that beach and let the waves wash me clean. I let the waves dull all senses and fill me with strength.

As soon as I left my revelation beach, I was filled with determination, but the fear set in anyway. Terrified I flew home and made it my reality. I tell my kids that the very best things in life begin on the other side of fear. Without risk there is no reward. I waited a long time before I took this really big risk, but the rewards are already beginning. I have health in ways I never imagined I could ever gain. My chronic pain is changing monthly. I am more whole than I’ve been in 10 years just health wise alone.

There have been now 9 months of hard. Some days are so hard I can barely lift my head off the pillow and face the world. I do though. Every single day I face that day. I’ve had a few days where the physical health was so hard that I gave in. I let the pain talk and dictate. Nine days out of ten, however, I always rise and face the day, no matter what it brings.

If I’ve been silent, and you wondered why, I really can’t tell you… but I can tell you that I won’t be forever. Today I sat down and really wrote for the first time in years, letting my heart outside my chest and onto a page. For the first time in forever, I feel whole.

Divorce, regardless of how hard you try to be kind and humane about it, the process sucks. It’s hard and there is no way to not make it feel like your entire life is being judged and ripped to shreds. It’s bloody. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.

I do not wish my Ex any ill will. I do not wish him harm or strife. I do, however, want to jump ahead 9 more months when this thing will be finalized and the ability to heal completely underway and more possible.

I baptized each of my three kids with the verse from Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord, plans to prosper not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future.” I am clinging to these and claiming them over my children as they ache in pain and struggle to work through this. I claim it for myself, knowing that on that beach on the shores of Galveston Island, TX, I heard the answer being echoed back to me as I prayed for Him to hear me and deliver the gift of His promises to us.

I pray over my Ex. I want him to learn from the mistakes within our marriage that drove us apart. I pray he can learn, grow, and push forward and have a beautiful and happy life. I know that it gives me absolutely no peace to wish him anything less. He’s not a bad human. We were a bad match. No amount of me doing 110% of the work to make it work out would ever end in success. It sucks. I wanted it to work. I wanted my kids to not go through the pain that is our reality. I can not do that and It’s okay.

Standing on the beach that day, I’ve never more clearly heard from God. He did not lay a hand on my shoulder and speak into my ear. Instead I have learned to hear Him in ways that fill my emptiness to overflowing. I heard Him in the crashing waves, the foam popping as they receded. I heard Him in the wind, strong and sure. I heard Him as I saw how the wind beneath the gulls kept them high above the waters. He lifted them, as He will and has lifted me. I watched them dive head first into a darkness and come up with fish. He provided for their needs if they just trusted their guts, instincts, and the fact that God had fish when they needed it. I saw God in the dolphins, who arched above the water and blew out hard, sending spray high up, and knowing they took in the life filling oxygen waiting for them at the surface.

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I saw God in the sea shells with little hermit crabs crawling upon the sand, hauling their protection with them. God was in the warmth of the sun against the wind. He was in the rustling of the grasses upon the bluffs behind me. He was in the hidden treasures found as I dug my toes in the sand.

I took my kids back to the exact spot God spoke to me. I asked Him to do the same for them. For them to feel Him there. I asked Him to meet them where ever they were in life and to wash over them peace and comfort. He did, and so much more. He knit the four of us together in ways I can not express in words. He blessed us. We searched for shells to bring home and filled a terrarium with dry sand to be a home for those treasures. We created a whole theme in our living room that reflects the promises God gave to us and the sand, shells, and pictures remind us that he is with us every day as He was on the beach that afternoon, as the sun set brilliantly.

We now regularly go back, and always to our spot. It’s healing. It’s free of the world and it’s our mountain top. It’s where we hear from God and gain perspective. They ask to go often. Being only 45 minutes from our new home, it’s going to be a constant for us. They now all have a “happy place’ to think of when called upon to need one. There is no way to express it. God came through for us in ways we didn’t even know we needed.

So here I am. I am standing fully inside a ring of fear. NOT fear that God doesn’t have it covered, just fear of the unknown. I try hard to not be fearful. I’m a work in progress. I will get there. I’m just not there quite yet. I spend a lot of time praying. I spend a lot of time sitting on a porch and not doing anything. I spend a lot of time doing what observers would assume is just spacing out. I think maybe it’s mindfulness. Maybe meditation. I’m just acknowledging the thoughts I’m thinking and allowing them to be heard and not stuffed down inside me. For the first time, they have a right to simply exist. 

I think I get the verses that say, “In everything give thanks.” It’s not that I am saying thank you to the hard stuff, per se, but thanks that God is walking it with me, holding me up, and letting me know I am far from alone doing this life thing. I also sense that it’s okay to be afraid. What’s not okay is for the worry and fear to control my heart, my choices, or how I treat others.

Being kind is not a choice. It’s part of who I am and WHOSE I am. So every action, reaction, and choice I make needs to be weighed against that. It’s okay to walk out the door in the morning and have absolutely no idea how I am going to get through the day. Sometimes I only have enough strength for the minute I am in. I’d love a whole day’s worth of strength, heck a week’s worth in one shot; but the fact I can do one minute, then the next, then the next? Well those add up to hours, then days, then weeks.. And before you know it, I’m actually doing it. I’m making progress.

Last week? I wasn’t sure I could do it even minute by minute. I’ll be honest with you. I was on a breath by breath status. 

My oldest daughter tried to die. She still has scars. There are broken capilaries in her face and bruising around her neck. I wasn’t home. She called me in the midst of her attempt and I was not capable of doing anything but sitting in a chapel near where I happen to be taking a class, and just exist. I did that for hours. I just sat there and survived. 

I had to swallow my pride and ask for help getting home. I couldn’t drive. I was stuck, simply putting all my focus on one breath after another. Her decision to try to make an exit is not something unusual or that I’m not used to. Frankly, it’s a part of our lives. Her brother, sister, and I probably have PTSD from living a life where this is a normal thing for us. Suicide watches are just part of what we do. Mental illness sucks. It does not, however, mean I love her less.

Ive been praying for a release from God to leave the person I was behind. She is a shell of a woman. I’ve decided to change my name back to what it was the last time I felt confident in who I really was. I’m going to allow myself to voice the fact I need that. I’m going to claim it. Soon I will change things back to my maiden name and the name I was before I met my husband. I’ll return to “Chrissy Pettys.” As silly as it may sound to someone people I need to do this for me to move forward. It’s actually biblical. When people went through transformations by God, they were given different names. I’m reclaiming myself. I hope you can remember I’m still the same person and not let the name throw you off. Maybe you will understand why.

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If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, why I’m silent, or how life is going in Texas, I share this with you. We are doing good, overall. Texas is good for us. Family is everything. I love finally being near my brother again after 25 years. I have his kiddos to love on and to really become an Auntie to. I absolutely am falling in love with my sister-in-love (“law” seems harsh) But it’s not sunshine and roses. I’m living in a thorny thicket bush and it hurts. I’m not going to stay in the bush though. One day at a time, minute by minute, I will rise.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for those who’ve reached out. Thanks for those who’ve given me space. Thanks for just being you and letting me know that I can pop back into life at any point and you’ll pick up right where we left off.  

-Chrissy

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Tinnie Treasures


My Grams has, over the many years of my life, typed me letters when passing on treasures and heirlooms as a gift. I’ve always saved them in my cedar chest that my Grandpa Howard made. As I unpacked boxes this morning in my new home and replaced my treasures into the chest once more, I came upon one that I had tucked away for a long while. I honestly couldn’t remember when exactly it was given. 

As a family, we all moved a lot in life. My grandparents traveled the country as ministers and social workers, retiring as Salvation Army Officers. My dad was a pastor who was skilled in loving hurting churches or called to “fix” the broken.  My aunt and uncle similarly were in ministry and social work. We didn’t have homes that were buried deep with layers of memories. They had to be carefully chosen and intentional. 

Each of our homes had a “family wall” that kept us close to each other. Distance was erased with a glance at the precious memories. 

As I carefully packed the chest I opened a little box. It held a letter and a small round cameo frame. Inside the velvet lining was a small oval that held my Grams favorite picture of me as a baby. Having been named Christine, being the very first grandchild, being so tiny, and eventually being the only granddaughter, I held a precious little place of my Grams heart. I was her Tinnie. I was Grandpa’s Chrissy. This is who they saw, regardless how old I was. 

At times I wanted them to see me as a grown up, struggling as a teen. I wanted to be a grown woman when I had a child of my own. I wanted them to be proud of me. Often when confronted with a situation I didn’t know how to handle, I’d ask myself, “Can I sit and tell Grams this? Would she be proud of me? Will I be proud of myself” It was a reality check that would send me back to my core personhood. Essentially it forced me to see if I was being authentic or not. 

I read the letter. There is no way she could have known how much Id have needed to read this right now. To hear her profession of love and pride in me, it drew tears. 

As I sit now, on my bed in my new room, I stare at this picture then out the window. It’s a new year. Today begins the next book of my life. I want to write the pages that will make me proud of myself. 

Lately I’ve been numb. I’ve not had a lot of good days. The last few years have been incredibly hard. Last year at this time I sat in a hospital with my son and prayed that God would heal him. His burst appendix terrified me, and I had to force myself to be strong for him when I wanted to collapse. I had to draw upon courage and strength I felt were fleeting. I didn’t feel confident in handling all the things that continued to try my strengths and to tease my weaknesses. It was a very long year. 

I look out the window once more. They sky is lazy today. It’s as tired, before it even began, as I am. The hint of blue behind the clouds never quite makes it’s mind up to commit to unwrapping sunny rays for the day. It’s almost  like the sun pulled the covers back up over its head and decided to sleep in.  

Next to me sits another frame. It holds two pictures. One is of me a few years ago, where I attended a formal event. Next to me is my Great Great Aunt Pearl. She wears a pretty necklace. It too was given to me for safekeeping. It also included a letter in the long slender box it came in. It reads of a woman who’s heart knew no bounds, but was also strong and solidly rooted in her faith. 

I want to dig into myself, into family, into faith, and to find my core. Aunt Pearl was an incredible and strong woman. I want to be exactly that. Strong, incredibly full of love and grace, and above all to be confident and sure of exactly who I am and whose I am.
In one week I will have flown back to Indiana and will ride a transport that will bring my Grams to be with me in Texas. We get a road trip! I could not be beginning this year more different than last year, and I couldn’t be more happy about that if I tried. ❤️

2017, I welcome you into my home. Let’s do great things together in the coming year. 

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do…


Watercolor, art therapy, by my daughter, Lindsey, 16. Used with her permission. Her personal take on living with bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD and depression.

 

I’ve been rendered completely wordless the last few weeks. I’ve been in a dark place; one with a lot of ugliness and not a lot of sunshine. Some of it is legitimate and understandable. I’ve got some real crap and sometimes crap just stinks. No use calling it by some flowery name. Just like a rose is a rose by any other name and still smells sweet, crap by any other name is still crap and it’s gonna really stink when you go to wash it off, especially if you really dig in and do the dirty work of cleaning it up.

Some of it is me throwing a pity party, I may as well own that. Some of it is weariness, exhaustion, and fractures in my life where I wasn’t quite broken; places that used to be held together by sheer will, but the the bonds of my “will” wore off.

I fell apart.

It is what it is, and justified or not, I’ve dug myself in and wallowed.

It occurred to me I feel a lot like a little girl who fell in a mud puddle in her new pretty dress. I first was in utter shock and horror. Oh NOOOOOO!

…Then tears of not just sadness rose up, but anger; intense, hot, all consuming… of which a person could be either torched to ash or refined by the fire. This was NOT happening!

…Next? I was so angry I refused to get up. What was the point? The dress is ruined! Nothing can ever make it white and new again.

…Furious, I splashed the damned puddle, as if beating the crap of life was somehow gonna get back at it. Laughing at me, it got even by leaving me feeling more livid as the splashes got me mucky where I had actually still been clean.

…Eventually, anger spent and rational thinking returning, still a bit drippy, a whole lot dirty, sheepishly getting up from the mucky pool around me, this girl will go about figuring out how to do what’s next. It wont come easy. “She” will be still mad and muddy, she will still be dealing with the stink for a while, but moving in the right direction, a good cleansing cry and maybe a little rain will right some of it. Later a good long hot shower will wash away the remaining ick and a fresh perspective and dry clothes will allow “her” to carry forward, maybe even better than she began.

Right now? Right now I am still sitting and I’ve just finished a good splashing fit.

There are many word pictures people use when they are in this space. I am using the mud puddle because I am at a full stop, and I feel really mucky and angry and I am in a place where I don’t even WANT to get up. I’ll get there. I know me. I just need to sit here long enough to really hate the mud. Once I really hate it enough I will get up, wipe off the bruises and clean off the mud, I’ll look for scratches on me and tears in my dress and begin to not just wash up, but mend the wounds and fix the rips.

I already know it’s gonna be okay. It really will be. Wanna know something? I don’t want to hear it. So, don’t explain it. I just need to sit here a while. I need to do this.

Here is the thing about mucky places, once in a while they need to be sat in.

Don’t tell me why I am wrong. I’m not. Sometimes you need to sit in the muck, really look around, take it in, acknowledge that it is exactly what it is, mucky, dirty, crap; then intentionally say, “Yeah, so, now what?”

The feelings are real. They are valid. They show up, as they always do, for a reason, and at some point the reason will refuse to be ignored or stuffed back into the closet or under the rock it came out from. So feel it. let yourself live in the now, in the moment, in the mucky place and say, “Wow, it really sucks I fell in this mud and I am really damned angry I got mucky and tore my favorite dress.”  Forcing a smile and saying a fake, “No biggie, It’ll wash,” only works for so long.

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do. Sometimes getting right back up, brushing yourself off, and bouncing back right away is the right thing to do. How do you know the difference? Eh, you’ll know. Just remember, ultimately, it really will be okay, and you can get to that end game in many different ways. No path is wrong nor right.

Sing, Sing a song…


I sat beside my Gram and rubbed her forehead with the edge of my thumb. Tears ran down her cheeks as she finally gave in to the weariness and the pain and the frustration of the last 36 hours. She didn’t need my words. She needed love. I had that in abundance.

So we just did that for a while. She needed to feel. I needed to love her. We just were.

“You are better today than you were when I came in here yesterday,” I gently reminded her. “When I come see you tomorrow you are going to be better than you are right now. Give God some time, He’s gonna have you back up and moving again. I know this.” Gently I let my hand trail down her face and find her hands and give it a squeeze. She cried with the name of Jesus on her lips, nodding her head in agreement.

What you need to understand is that this is a woman who always has the name of Jesus on her lips, but not tears. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tears, it’s just that tears aren’t something she readily allows. She is a strong, hearty, motivated, and fiercely independent woman who’s managed to recover from some pretty significant things in the past. She will again. It isn’t a question. Not for today. Not this time.

“My Tinnie girl, oh how I love you my Tinnie,” Grams cried as she enveloped my hand in both of hers. Tears of my own threatened to spill over.

image2Earlier today she proudly introduced me to the chaplain who stopped in. “This is my favorite granddaughter, Christine. My Tinnie girl.” Then the rest of our treasured joke was explained, how I am also the only girl amongst the boys. I better be the favorite! Over the years the joke has been there, but in the years I’ve been an adult, raising my kids, her great grandkids here in the same town, our relationship has changed into a new one. A precious one.

I began weekly coming for lunches long ago, back when my Grandpa Howard was with us and I would sit and chat with them till Gramps would fall into a post lunch slumber and the two of us would laugh and then slyly turn the channel and watch us some HGTV while he snoozed. After he passed away, going on almost 5 years now, the two of us grew ever so close. I still came weekly for lunch and chats and HGTV, but I went to the grocery and ran errands and did odds and ends around the apartment. We just hung out and I loved on her in ways I knew I could never ever get enough of.

IMG_6029I’ve had friends say, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grandma one more time.” I think of it each time I go. Every lunch from Arby’s I bring, I delight in the way her eyes light up as if lit from the place of childhood delight. She loves DQ and the curly Q on the top. She loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and oh how she needs a nice cold Diet Pepsi to wash it down with… and a few salty chips after for that salty bite after the sweet.

I treasure each and every moment because I HAVE it. My Grams is going to be 91 this November. Time is not a given. Some point will come along the way and I too will say to a friend, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grams one more time.”  I’ll wish for things… to share a Pepsi, tell her what’s going on in life, and to simply sit and take her in, tears and all, after a fall and illness that put her in the hospital.

When I was a little girl, my Grams would sing to me. She would sing,

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not

Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

image3And so I do. Often. I’m not the best singer in the world. I am no soloist. But the song I sing is loud and clear. It’s full of love, joy, and happiness. It’s not made up of the same words every day, but the song I sing can be known just by knowing me.  At least I hope so. I hope it’s reflected in everything I do and say, what I am and Who’s I am. Love. So much love.

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My Grams and me during one of our lovely Wednesday Lunches

And Grams, I love you.

I’m singing our song, loud, strong, simple, yet enough to last my whole life through, and I’m singing it, Grams, for you and for me.

On being a “TERRIBLY” supportive mother


I’m a terrible mother. Horrible. There, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you why I am a terrific one.

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Today I took my daughters over to the local tattoo shop and we got matching tattoos. Yes, yes, TERRIBLE mother. I thought we established that already? Sheesh.

Listen, I know this place, I know the owner. It’s a clean, decent, reputable establishment that is not in some dark alleyway. Give me some credit will you? Listen to the reason and you will agree with the terrific part, (or not) but it’s what you SHOULD have done if you were me, living my life.

If you haven’t heard of Project Semicolon, then let me educate you. It is quite literally a full out movement of hope, all begun by one woman who was simply intending to honor her dad. It is a tattoo or even just a sharpie marker tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist or other area. Simple, small, and yet crazy powerful. We’ve done the sharpie version. We are ready to commit to a permanent version.

The website www.projectsemicolon.com says it this way… “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” They are a faith based movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle daily with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.  Their sole existence is to bring awareness to mental illness and to encourage, love and inspire those who live with it or even just love someone who does.

The semicolon is a conversation starter. You see a tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist and you say, “what’s that about.” The door is now open to discuss what our lives here are filled with. It’s filled with hard things, messy things, scary things, but more than anything else, it’s filled with choices that include getting up each new day, moving forward, pushing on, and knowing that each new day is not a day done alone, but surrounded by a supportive and loving family who “gets it.”

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

My daughter, Lindsey, struggles and battles Bipolar Disorder and OCD along with some anxiety and a personality disorder. Each day is a hard day. photo 2That’s just a fact. But she is still choosing to get up each day and face it. Her sister and I both love her in ways that only a sis and mom can. It’s a girl thing. We have a wicked tight bond, the three of us, and when I introduced this website to Lindsey her whole face lit up. Her sister was indignant that she was left out and she demanded to be a part of it. I told her I never intended her to be anything but included. I just hadn’t shown her the website yet!

For warriors, support is critical. It’s for important to know someone has their back. Lindsey will never wonder if her sister and I have her back. She will look at her hand and she will see her tattoo and know that the three of us are connected in a special way, remember our day of bonding, needing only to trace it to gain some needed strength.

photo 3Along with the semicolon tattoo, I am gifting each girl with a little heart, about the size of a pinky finger. It is to be placed anywhere they want it, but in a place they can readily see  I used to use a sharpie and pit one on their hand or arm when they were scared about a test, school, or when they just needed a “mom hug” to take with them as they went off on their day. This time we are making it washable and forever. It’s a personal reminder that they ARE my heart; that they carry with them my unconditional love everywhere they go. I love them forever, always, and that there is NOTHING they can ever do that will make me stop loving them. Simply NOTHING.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

It’s a visual reminder that they can come home, no matter what choices or mistakes they might have made in life, and to know that I’ll have their backs. Life is messy. Choices are hard to make. Sometimes we make the wrong ones. Come home, anyway. I’m always gonna be there. I don’t care if they are 18, 28, or 58. That tattoo won’t wear off and neither will my love for them. If at some point they need me, and I am no longer here residing on this green earth, then they only need look at it to know I’m still only a heartbeat away, loving them from above, still supporting them.

Yes, I took my two daughters, who are 15 and 16, to the tattoo shop and we got tattoos, but the question wasn’t ever, “how could I,” but instead, “how could I NOT?”  My beautiful girls are here and this is not in “memory” of anyone. This is to strengthen us and to empower us to do hard things, because we are still alive to do them.

There is a beautiful song I will play them. An amazing friend sent me the link the other day and I have been in love with it ever since.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzqbAZq3E

The refrain goes like this:

This is not the end of me.

This is the beginning.

Hold on.

I am still alive…

As long as we are alive, we are going to live like it. We are going to remember that this is just the beginning, choose to not end our sentences, to just hold on tight, get through the night, and believe that this is not the end. No one has to get it all perfect, or get it all right, we just have to get up each day and try. Put one foot in front of the other, hold on tight, ride the ride, let the day have it’s way, and best of all…come home again.

I love you girls. We can do this. We’ve got this!

Easter Hunting for fairness in the fun


stock-footage-easter-eggs-background-colorful-easter-eggs-in-a-basket-with-green-grass-decoration-white-300x168“On your mark, get set, GO!!!” Two little girls with bouncing curls and flouncy Easter dresses scurried off with baskets way too large for their little bodies to carry gracefully. One little freckle-faced, redheaded boy stood looking wide eyed, watching as his sisters darted here and there and snatched up eggs of all colors and sizes. Grandma took him by the hand and pointed to a big blue egg and he picked it up and put it in his basket. His eyes gleamed and were matched only by his wide grin. He just stood there, however, so she pointed to another and another, soon being clear that the “hidder” was now the “finder” in this hunt for little boy eggs.

The girls were back in no time flat from their mad dash throughout the house, baskets overflowing. The wide grinned boy followed them into the room, sat on his haunches to peek in at his eggs, and shook them, as he saw his sisters do, to try to guess the loot they held inside. It was painfully obvious that the girls far out hunted this little guy. He didn’t seem overly bothered by it, in fact he was oblivious, but the girls, they knew. One of them came up and tugged on my arm and said she was sad that “Drake-Drake” didn’t get many eggs. It’s wasn’t fair. She felt bad.

I looked down at her. This was not a child saying it wasn’t fair THEY didn’t get as many eggs as their siblings. It was the one who got the most who was worried about the one who got the least. She asked if they both could share eggs and make it equal. They thought they should all have the same so no one would be left out. With a tight throat I nodded my approval. Of course! They had already learned the important lesson I wanted them to and they were only 6 & 8 years old.

They got busy and counted out their eggs and then counted Drake’s. Each gifted him eggs from their piles until it equaled out so that they all each had the same amount. I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I really wasn’t. I was proud of them.

From that point on, every year, they would do the same thing, only they never asked me for permission again. It was assumed that they would have the fun of the hunt, but then they’d share the loot. It didn’t matter if it was Easter hunts after that, either, it extended to anything. Trick or treating, birthday party prize bags, arcade game tickets, you name it, they shared it amongst themselves.

They still do to this day, and they are 11, 14, and 16. Lindsey came home one day from an appointment where she had been given some candy as she left. She asked if she could take one for her brother and sister too. They would have never had known she even had the candy as it was during a school day, but she knew.

I may have helped them learn to share, but God Himself had written the verse from  Matthew 25:40 upon their hearts. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ They began living this out in many ways, always finding ways to give to others just like they do for each other.