Laying it all out there

All through the night I’ll be watching over you
And all through the night I’ll be standing over you
And through bad dreams I’ll be right there baby
holding your hand, telling you everything’s going to be alright
When you cry I’ll be there baby
telling you were never nothing less than beautiful
So don’t you worry
I’m your angel standing by

–Jewel–

I was very young when Jewel’s first album came out.  I think maybe I was 10 or 11.  It wasn’t until I was a couple years older that I actually started listening to it and totally fell in love with it.  I listened to that CD for years, all through high school.  It’s been years since I’ve listened to some of those songs, but I was browsing iTunes the other day and decided to preview the songs to bring back some memories.  The last song on the album is called Angel Standing By, the lyrics are up there, and are simple, but reassuring at the same time. 

This past month I’ve been replaying things in my head over and over again.  All of the “lasts” that I had with my mom.  Knowing that we were drawing in on the one year mark.  Feeling like a year seemed to go by so quickly, yet so slowly at the same time.  Having a year full of days where there wasn’t a single one that went by that I didn’t think about how I wished I could share something that happened with her. 

Sometimes there comes a time when you have to acknowledge that what you’re doing isn’t working.  I tried to chug along this year and focus on my responsibilities–the responsibility of being a good wife, taking care of an elderly father, fulfilling the duties of my job.  But in trying to do all of those things, I neglected to focus on the responsibility of taking care of myself.  I’ve participated in therapy for about a year and a half–I began going when my dad became very ill and nearly died.  I struggled dealing with the eventual mortality of my parents and felt a lot of guilt surrounding his illness.  Guilt that I couldn’t prevent bad things from happening to the people that I love.  I realize that seems like an irrational guilt, but sometimes people have irrational feelings.  I needed help learning how to cope better and learning how to ask for help sometimes.  Of course I had no idea that just a few months after I started seeing my therapist that I would lose Mom.  I continued to see her throughout this year, but it wasn’t enough.  I was treading water for so long and I was running out of strength.  With the encouragement of my sweet husband, I went to the doctor to ask for medication to help.  And it has, to a certain degree.  It certainly doesn’t solve my problems, but it at least leaves me feeling more capable to deal with them, and more motivated to try harder.

But even with the help of therapy and anti-depressants, there’s no denying that the one-year benchmark of a loss is something I’m struggling with.  Along with my sadness, I’ve held on to a lot of anger this year.  Anger at things that were said to me in my mother’s final days, or things that went unsaid.  My whole life, everyone always told me how similar I was to my mom, in my appearance, my personality, and my kind heart.  Everyone who knew her had nothing but kind things to say about her, and after she passed, I heard so many times that she was loved by so many.  But despite being told my whole life how alike we were, I haven’t felt the love from our extremely large family much at all in this past year.  And I suppose some of my anger comes from that.  Again, I try to be rational, knowing that others are grieving a loss also, and that everyone deals with that in their own way, but I can’t help but feel that what made me family to so many people was my mom’s presence… and that without her, I’m just another person.

But it’s time to let go of that anger.  It’s not healthy for me, and it doesn’t solve anything.  My mom would tell me to forgive.  And I don’t think that forgiveness is for the other person, I think that forgiveness is something you do for yourself.  You don’t have to have an apology from other people, in fact, they can even refuse to acknowledge that they were in the wrong for anything at all… you can still choose to forgive them.  For you.  And that’s what I’m working on doing.

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Going the Distance

A couple years ago, I got this beauty for my birthday:

I pined for this bike for weeks, maybe months.  A pink Schwinn cruiser.  It was exactly what I wanted.  But then I got it, and I used it a few times, and then it sat for a long time.

Until recently! 

The weather in Central Illinois in mid-march is usually still pretty cool.  It’s not uncommon to have snow this late in the year sometimes.  But this year, not the case.  We’ve had record-breaking temps in the mid-eighties for about a week now!  It’s unbelievable!  I’m glad it’s not snow, but I miss SPRING!    Anyway, it’s provided some lovely evening opportunities for Eddie and I to ride our bikes for a little while after dinner!  We’ve only done this a half a dozen times maybe, but I think our progress has been great!

The first time we rode, we rode for about 20 minutes, and only went about 1.3 miles.  Last night we rode 2.3 miles in less than 17 minutes!  I highly recommend the iMapMyRIDE app, which tracks our route, how far we went, how long we rode, etc.  It’s fantastic!  I just turn it on, put it in my pocket, and ride!  It does the rest. 

One of the goals on my 101 in 1001 list is to bike 5 miles.  I don’t think I’ll have any trouble reaching that goal–probably within a month!

2012 Goals Progress (2 of 12)

1.  Send 12 letters via snail mail (In Progress: 3 of 12)

2.  Read at least 1/2 of my “to-be-read” (TBR) list (In Progress: 8 of 25)

3.  Create a family blog  (Complete!)

4.  Get 50 followers to new blog (In Progress: 10/25  There are 10 of you!  Wahoooo!  Sidenote: subscribe!)

5.  Write in new blog 50 times this year (In Progress: 11/50)

6.  Earn $100 in amazon giftcards via swagbucks this year ($0/100 so far)

7.  Give 10 handmade gifts (In Progress: 1/10)

8.  Complete Pinterest 12 in 2012 board (In Progress: 2/12)

9.  Set up guest room (No Progress)

10.  Use nook to rent library books at least once/month (In Progress: 2/12)

Many the Miles

The last twelve months have certainly been a year of travel for our household!  My husband and I knew that we’d be travelling to a number of states on a planned road trip, but we also got the unexpected opportunity to visit a few more as well.

Our year of travel began last year, sadly, when we experienced a couple deaths in our family.  First, in April, I lost my mom.  My sister, who lives in Louisiana was heading North and we were heading South to meet halfway, in Arkansas, so she could attend my mom’s services.  Just a couple months later, in June, my sister had the tragedy of also losing her mother, so Eddie and I hopped in the car and headed South again, this time all the way to Louisiana!  It was wonderful getting to see my sister twice in such a short amount of time, but just wish they both didn’t have to be surrounding such sad circumstances.

Our next travels were for pleasure, however!  We went on a nearly three-week road trip West!  Going on a roadtrip was one of the items on my 101 in 1001 list, so it was great to check that off!  It was awesome, though I’ve learned there are parts of the country that I’m not a huge fan of.  Our trip started by taking a trip down Rt 66 all the way to Amarillo, TX.  Of course we didn’t travel the exact 66 path, though we did get off the interstate a few times to travel two lane highways to see some of the tourist attractions along the way!  We also took a trip down the “Sidewalk Highway,” which is a stretch of ORIGINAL 66… I do not recommend this… we have an SUV and it was still the roughest ride I’ve ever been on!  Live and learn!

After hitting Amarillo, we jumped Northwest to head to the mountains.  I have a cousin in Colorado Springs, and we were fortunate enough to get to visit with her family the evening we were there!  The next day was spent driving through the Rockies–this was one of the parts I wasn’t fond of.  It was beautiful, but my car-sickness and altitude-sickness was in full-force!  The next couple of days were spent driving through Utah, Arizona, and Nevada (we also hit up the 4 corners!).  There was so much empty, dry land (it was during a drought!) it was depressing!  I was so happy to see Vegas when we got there!

After a fun 24 hours in Las Vegas, we were off to California and the Pacific Coast!  Driving up the coast was amazing (though again, the car-sickness… ugh!), and Northern California is now in competition with the Oregon Coast for my favorite place travelled so far!  We got to watch the sun set over the Pacific (neat, because on our honeymoon to St. Augustine, FL we got to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic!) before our journey back East to Illinois began! 

The stretch through the Columbia River Basin in Oregon/Washington was beautiful, along with the landscape in Idaho, though the scenic route we took was so curvy, and I spent much of our day in Idaho sleeping to keep from getting sick!  Next came Montana (which I thought we’d never get out of… that is one big state!), which by far had the most beautiful purple sunset I’ve ever seen!  Then we were on to our last big attraction before home–Mt. Rushmore!  I really enjoyed that experience, much more so than I thought I would… I mean it’s just some dead presidents carved in the side of a mountain right?  But it’s so gorgous, and so much bigger than you imagine… I loved it! 

The last leg of our trip took us briefly through Minnesota, then through Iowa, and finally back into northern Illinois–Galena to be specific!  That’s such a beautiful little town, and one that Eddie and I were happy to re-visit!  It was the first overnight/weekend trip that we took together the first summer we were dating, and it was lovely to get to end our trip (and celebrate our 2nd anniversary) together there! 

I thought our travels were done for quite awhile, but then last month we got the opportunity to visit family in the Wisconsin Dells for a week!  We spent the week at a resort with an indoor waterpark, and it was tons of fun, but getting to see our little niece all week long was for sure the best part! 

I doubt we’ll be travelling out of state again in the next month or so, so our grand total for the last year of travel (from 4/2/11 to now)  is 22 states, which includes our own–we travelled completely south and also entered from the north and travelled to central IL, so I for sure count it as a state that we travelled in!

Looks like next time we’ll have to go East!  The New England area has always been a place we’d like to go, so maybe in the next couple of years we will get the opportunity to travel that way!

Where has been your favorite place to travel?