Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black and White

Perspective.  I have always tried to see the two sides of any situation.  I did so almost to a fault.  Some people see black or white.  I always saw gray.  I pulled from both ends and what I ended up with was a muddled perspective in which I found myself stuck in.  I was stuck because I wasn't able to make a decision and take a stance one way or another. 

I acknowledge that there are times and situations in which a definitive stand is both necessary and appropriate.  However, that is not always the case.  I think it is more often the case for those who see through lenses of either black or white to limit themselves to a vast variety of possibilities. 

People, situations, life... it is all multi-dimensional.  We are so interconnected with one another that it is difficult to say that there are only two sides.  We all have so many layers and dimensions... that is what makes us all so unique, yet potentially complicated at the same time.  We rely so heavily on our own experiences and despite how different each of our experiences and the mindsets we all have in those experiences, we use that knowledge to help us chose a side and make a decision on how we choose to look at a person or a situation. 

I now look through completely different lenses and no longer see a muddled gray.  It has taken me a great amount of time and patience, acceptance, self discovery, and therapy to look through the lenses and see both black and white individually and simultaneously. 

In one of my very first posts, which happened to be almost exactly one year ago, I wrote "The Comfort to Just Be."  It was in this post that I shared a piano piece, "The Promise" that seemed to capture what I was feeling at that time... a deep sadness, peace, and hope.  I remember feeling unsettled in feeling such sadness and at the same time having feelings that seemed to be on the other side of the spectrum in peace and hope.  It is interesting for me to be able to look back at that post and see the beginning steps in this transformation, if you will, that may actually be the most important element in my healing. 

A suicide is a death far different than any other.  It is a complicated death.  It leaves those left behind with an endless amount of questions,  what-ifs, and even guilt.  I am no stranger to those thoughts.  However, they must be confronted and addressed to move on, even if there are no answers, redoes, or second chances.  For me, when I looked back on our years together it is not hard to find happy memories.  At the same time, it is not hard to find even some of those same happy times somehow tainted, tainted by which I can now see as severe side effects of a mental illness left untreated for far too long.  Sometimes looking back on it, it makes me feel sad for me, for us.  But what I have to remind myself is how I felt in that moment.  And for the majority of those moments, that spanned for over 13 years, I was truly happy and I adored him.  I loved him endlessly, even as I had to step away hoping that he would focus on himself and his health. 

I see black and white as an intricate weave.  Sometimes there is more black than white, and vice versa.  Sometimes they are so intricately woven that it is hard to decipher, however, they are still both there as separate entities. 

I don't think that I am any "better" at picking one side over the other.  However, I am no longer stuck either.  I can accept that polar opposites can coexist.  It doesn't necessarily make things more settled, but it is the acceptance that is the key.  Choosing to accept... that settles the desire to choose one way over the other. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


What a great title to follow the Thanksgiving post!  But I assure you that this will not be all about the food I ate on Thanksgiving.  Instead, it is about the seconds of everything as time inches ever so closely to that second year mark without my husband. 

It is hard to believe that it was two years ago this time of year when I started to notice that things were just not right with him, with us.  Things were just so off.  Looking back, his mental health had been on a decline, but for some reason it was at this time two years ago that it began to take a more drastic and noticable dive.  Hindsight is 20-20 they say though, and with good reason.  He was so good at hiding his deep troubles that all I was able to see was his coping mechanisms that were far from positive or healthy.  These coping mechanisms, that were established and engrained at an early age, were detrimental to not only his health, but to our relationship.  As with everything else, it is hard to believe that it has been already two years since things started to slowly come undone.  At the same time, it seems as if it has been forever... forever since I have seen him.

Seconds... We made it through our second Father's Day, Anniversary, Birthday (his and my son's), Halloween... various other smaller holidays, vacations, and now Thanksgiving.  In the 8 years of our marriage, we spend 7 of those Thanksgiving together.  Out of those 7, we spent 4 by ourselves.  Whether it was just the two of us, or a small family gathering, he always made the feast.  He loved to make pies.  He made the turkey.  He made homemade apple sauce.  Thanksgiving was his thing and he was very good at it.  Last year, I spent Thanksgiving at home with my son and two aunts.  I made the Thanksgiving dinner and as I did, I thought of my husband and tried to make everything like him.  Although extremely sad and difficult, it made me feel like he was still with us.  This year, I spent Thanksgiving with my parents and everything was done.  I traveled 8 hours on Thanksgiving morning, so I wasn't able to help out with the dinner.  Those 8 hours though provided time for many thoughts to pass through.  I had a few moments of tears and sadness.  But, spending the holiday with so many other people made for a big destraction.  I was actually thankful for that quiet time in the car. 

I have to admit though that the holidays do not strike a painstaking chord like it does for so many others who have lost a loved one.  To me, a holiday is just a day, one day.  It is all the time in between that I find to be so much harder.  It's all the little things that happen either on a day to day basis or spontaneously that I miss sharing with him.  Yes, the birthdays and holidays are difficult, but I think that's just because memories are more prominent.  I would trade all those days to get back the "regular" ones.  That is not how life works though, does it?  Instead, my son and I will continue on our journey of seconds. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Inhale with Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is my favorite holiday.  I love this time of year.  From September on... apples, pumpkins, cider, cozy sweaters, beautiful foliage... I can't think of a better way to conclude all that I love best about fall than with all the above plus family, friends, and lots of wonderful food!

I have so much to be thankful for...

-I am thankful for my son.  He is a healthy, happy little boy and for that I am completely grateful.  He has such a wonderful energy and spirit.  I am truly blessed.
-I am thankful for my mom and dad.  I am thankful for all that they have done, especially in the past year and a half, to help both me and my son and we feel their love in many ways.  I am also thankful for being raised to be an independent, hard working, respectful, and compassionate woman.
-I am thankful for my brother and sister.  I have so many wonderful memories with them growing up as kids and now as adults.  They have both been there for me in their own way this past year and that has meant more than words can say.
-I am thankful that at the age of 33 (okay, just a few weeks shy of 34) I still have three living grandparents.  My mother's parents have been married for 64 years!  And my father's mother is still a spitfire, lol.  I am happy that my son has had the opportunity to meet them and to share memories with them.
-I am thankful for my other family members as well.  My family is crazy, lol.  But they are extremely generous and caring.  I know that they would do anything to help me at any given time.   
-I am thankful for great friends both old and new.  For my old friends, I am grateful for all of the memories that we have shared over the years and for all of the love and support given to me over the years.  For my new friends, I am grateful for their kindness and friendship.  It was a concern of mine, living in and raising my son alone in NYC.  However, I don't feel alone and I do feel like NYC is home.
-I am thankful for my health and for the health of my family and friends.  We all have our own battles.  But, at this time, all of the people that I love most are healthy and for that I am deeply grateful.
-I am thankful for my job.  Financial stability and independence has allowed me to keep a stable life for both my son and I.  I have also been able to provide both of us with a variety of wonderful experiences that I will treasure forever.
-I am thankful for my life, past and present.  I am thankful for all of the wonderful memories that I shared with my husband.  I am thankful that I have a connection with him in our son that is a daily reminder of all that was good in both him and in us.  I am thankful for all he taught me both about love and life.  I am thankful for the time that I had with him.

On Tuesday, my spinning instructor said, "Inhale with gratitude."  I love that.  There is so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Being exposed goes far beyond taking off one's clothes.   It's sharing your true self all the way down to the very core.  No bells.  No whistles.  Just you as you are. 

It has been two weeks since I posted "Exposed" and my desire to share parts of my past with this man with whom I am beginning to let myself look just a bit ahead into the future with.  It has taken this long not because of my own procrastination, but because of a little something that got in the way, life.  In this case it was more so his than mine, but it only gave him another story to share which seemed to open the gates and make my own past that much easier to tell.

Part of my struggle which prevented me from sharing sooner was deciding where to begin and how much do I share as far as details go.  I decided to start with how he died and backed up a few months to share some the events that happened which led to the tragic ending.  As far a details went, I didn't get very specific mainly because I felt like I didn't have to.  He just listened and understood.  I wasn'tsure of how my words come out, but they did.  I felt so comfortable talking and sharing my heartbreaking story with him as if he were an old friend.  When I was done, he hugged me and asked me if I felt better for having had shared with him.  And I did.  But even as I spoke, I could feel the heaviness dissipate as it changed from sharing a tragic tale to just sharing me.  That's me.  That's my life. 

I have worked very hard to deal with, accept, and put to peace all that had happened.  He was the first person that I have shared myself with in that way in over a year.    And I think that I have come a long way.  But just as important was the receiving end.  He makes me feel completely accepted and safe in sharing myself, not just the past stories but all of me... cheesy dork and all.  That means more than I can possibly express.  And while I am beginning to look into the future (weeks) with him and I am enjoying each moment as they come as he has remained exactly what I need in the present.  And for that I truly thank him. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Drop Dead Diva

This summer my 15 year old niece came and stayed with me for a few days.  We had fun exploring Netflix at night and one of those nights, she stumbled across a show I never would have ventured to watch, Drop Dead Diva.  I'm surprised that even she selected this show since she is in a goth phase right now and just the title alone doesn't seem fitting to her.  Anyhoo, we had a mini DDD marathon that night and we became hooked.

I don't watch much television, but I finally finished up season two of this show and I absolutely love it!  The plot of the series is this... A young model (Deb) from L.A. with a super hot boyfriend is in a car accident and dies on her way to a Price is Right audition.  At the same time, a super smart, plain, pretty, and heavy set lawyer (Jane) is shot.  Both women end up at the same hospital at the same time and they both "see the light." However, it is the model, Deb, who pushed a button and ended up back on earth, but in Jane's body.  To thicken the plot and to show what a small world it is, Deb's boyfriend, Grayson had interviewed with (the old) Jane and is now working at her firm.  So, you got it... Deb who is now Jane is working with her boyfriend.  Each episode is revolved around the firm and the cases all have some connection to the lesson that Jane learns that day.

I love Jane's character.  She is a heavy set woman, but she exudes confidence.  Her confidence comes from all areas in her life.  She is super smart and that has helped her to become a successful lawyer (who therefore makes lots of money).  She takes care of herself (yes, I know this is fictional tv, but just play along) and from her hair to her outfit, looks impeccable.  She dresses to and for her body and just always looks terrific.  She is just a beautiful woman with a sweet and cute personality.  If I had to choose a tv character role model, it would be her, lol.

All kidding aside, I actually started to write this post a while back, but never finished it.  It seemed like the perfect post to follow up from yesterday's.  Confidence.  It's sexy despite insignificant details like numbers, name brands, and all those other little bodily imperfections we all have but no one else really ever notices. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Confessions from a Skinny... Bitch?

Really, does it make me a bitch because I am skinny?  Being skinny is not what this post is about however.    It's really about the body, my body.  I just so happen to be on the skinnier side.  This post is even more so about health and feeling good about yourself and having confidence.

So, why did I add in the skinny bitch part?  I did so because it's hard to talk about your body with other people when you are on the smaller side.  How small am I?  I am 5'2" and last time I weighed in, 113 lbs.  This is the most that I have ever weighed, aside from being pregnant.  The weight range that I had seemed to settle into prior to having my son was in the 103-107 weight range.  It's not a big change and I am not here to complain about my numbers.  Actually, my biggest concern after having my son was just being able to get back into my old clothes.  Once I hit that point, I was happy.  I am even happy with the few extra pounds that I do have because I feel like they give me a bit more of a shape and God knows I could use a little help in the voluptuous department.

This is what I am not happy about, my stomach.  I don't have long legs.  I don't have a second glance rack.  I learned to accept that, especially in the tough younger years.  But the one area that I had always been proud of was my stomach.  It was flat and even had a bit of definition.  It was the one area of my body that made me feel sexy.  Right now, I feel like its my least favorite part and I have to admit, I don't feel quite so sexy these days.  

I don't think it matters what size, shape, or number we have.  We all have body image issues.  Not too long ago I was having lunch with some ladies and I started to share my concerns about getting older, not having as much time to go to the gym, and seeing the repercussions of that and I got a few eye rolls.  That's disappointing.

However, the fact is that I am getting older and it is difficult to schedule in gym time and to be able to make it there consistently multiple times a week.  But, there are other things that I can do.  And good thing for resurrected pledge to The Happiness Project.  I have added sit-ups right next to "to go bed earlier!"

But like I said in the beginning, this post is not about weight and numbers.  It's really about feeling good about yourself and having confidence.  Now that I am working on taking better care of myself, I hope that I see an improvement in the ab department as well.  There is nothing sexier than a person with confidence.  I want that.  Not for the benefit of someone else, but for me.  Just me. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What ever happened to...

The Happiness Project!?!  I know right, I dropped it like a fly after only a few months.  The sad thing is that when I was doing it, I felt like it was working.  I had my goals and checklists for the month (and I just love checklists!) and I was set to go.  I think I just got too caught up in the many other things going on in my life in the spring... work, book club blog, the drama with my art piece, the death of my dog, and of course the one year anniversary date.

In my last post, I wrote about how I feel like I need to start taking care of myself better again.  I thought that The Happiness Project would be a great place to start.  I plan on starting from the beginning again, because that first month was by far the best month for me in my first attempt... organization and decluttering.  I have to admit that structure and routine made life so much easier last year as I adjusted to being a single mom.  I have gotten away from it a bit and I feel now like I have just been getting by.  Just getting by means that my home is not as clean and as organized as I find peaceful and comforting.  Just getting by means that I am not managing my time well and my new bedtime is well past midnight.  Just getting by is just not acceptable to me.  I want more.  I want better.  And if that means I am pulling out those checklists, then so be it (it's not like I'm sacrificing my spontaneity, lol). 

One of the first things I did last year when I started this project was to come up with a list of personal beliefs that I posted in "The Happiness Project."  Well, it has been awhile since I visited them and as I just reread them now, I think I am sticking with them.  I am happy with that list.  So happy, I am going to share it again in this post.  Here it is...

1.  Trust your gut.
2.  Surround yourself with good people.
3.  Let go.
4.  Smile.
5.  Live in and enjoy the moment.
6.  You are stronger than you think you are.
7.  Find beauty in the small.
8.  Hold your head high, with confidence and grace.
9.  There are always two sides.
10. Share your thoughts with tact and dignity.
11. Just be.
12. If you always choose the rational, you may miss out on the extraordinary.

Gretchen Rubin called her list her commandments.  If these are my commandments, I think that I did a pretty good job in upholding them and living my life according to my beliefs.  That makes me happy.  So I guess I'm getting restarted on the project already on a good foot.

Here's to happiness!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fix You

In this past year, I have shared a few songs that were ones I found much comfort in as I tried to heal after the death of my husband.  One of the reasons I had found comfort with these pieces was that they contained no words.  The instrumental pieces may have helped guide my emotions, but the story that they conjured was mine, not the artists'.  

One song that did contain words that I listened to repeatedly was "Fix You" by Coldplay.  There are so many outside factors (both positive and negative) that we rely on to help us through tough times... family, friends, religion, therapy, sex, drugs, etc, etc, etc...  However, the factor that matters most, is you.  It doesn't matter how strong and positive of a support system one may have, if change is going to occur, it truly must come from within.  Unfortunately, I witnessed firsthand the devastation that can occur from one not being able to take care of himself in such a way to truly cope and heal from within.  

This song seemed most fitting for me to dedicate to myself.  Sounds a bit silly, I know.  But the only one that can truly take care of us and fix us is ourselves.  I was surrounded by the love of my family and friends and that meant everything to me.  That helped give me the courage and strength to fix myself so that I could heal and move on in a positive way.  But it was me alone who did not once not get out of bed.  It was me alone who went through my husband's personal belongings and decided what to keep and what to donate.  It was me alone who had to tell my son that his father was dead and that meant that we won't ever be able to see and talk to him again.  So it had to be me alone who had to work through all of the questions and confusion and guilt to make it to where I am today.   

I feel like I am in a very good, healthy place right now.  However, having said that, I feel like I can be in an even better place.  I feel like I have been on an adrenaline rush for the past year.  But lately, I feel like that adrenaline has been diminishing, but I am still moving at the same fast speed.  Exhaustion has started to creep in more and more and I don't like it.  There were many things that I turned to and used as therapy to help me to get to where I am today.  Some of these things I have not been as dedicated to doing as I have once been.  I won't ever be completely fixed or healed, but that doesn't mean that I should stop trying, especially since I do feel good.  No matter what state or place we are in our lives, we are all works in progress and can always continue to grow and get better.  I need to remember this and start taking better care of my core again. 

Fix You
When you try your best but you don't succeed 
When you get what you want but not what you need 
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep  
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face  

When you lose something you can't replace  
When you love someone but it goes to waste  
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home  

And ignite your bones  
And I will try to fix you
And high up above or down below  

When you're too in love to let it go  
But if you never try you'll never know  
Just what you're worth
Lights will guide you home  

And ignite your bones  
And I will try to fix you
Tears stream down your face  

When you lose something you cannot replace  
Tears stream down your face And I
Tears stream down your face I promise you I will learn from my mistakes  

Tears stream down your face And I
Lights will guide you home  

And ignite your bones 
And I will try to fix you

Monday, November 5, 2012


It has been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit this area.  The effects were devastating.  I was so fortunate in that I did not even lose power and besides the fact that schools were closed all of last week, my life went back to normal pretty quickly.  I wish I could say the same for everyone. 

I would have loved to have been able to get out there and volunteer my time and services to help out my fellow New Yorkers, but its not so easy to up and go when you have a child to take care of.  So, I helped out in a way that I could, donations. 

It is quite chilly this time of the year in NY, and there are so many people who lost so much of their belongings and are without heat... and I had just the things, winter jackets.  I had donated most of my husband's clothes last year when I went through his belongings.  For some reason though, I never touched his jackets.  This was the perfect opportunity to let those items go.  It made it so much easier to do so knowing that they would be going to people that are truly in need of them.  I have to admit though that it did choke me up and this past Saturday was more of a somber day for me. 

As time moves on, I have started to find items that I saved last year that I feel I can now let go of.  In this past year, I have donated a tremendous amount of items from clothing to an antique dinning room set.  As hard as it is to say goodbye to these pieces that were once a part of my life, it is so much easier to donate them than to sell them.  Last summer, after going through my storage site, I did attempt to have a yard sale.  I did sell many items, but its so hard to sell items that hold memories for dollars and cents.  It's like a punch to the gut. 

I have kept some clothing of my husband's, like a few sweaters that immediately make me able to see him so clearly in, ties (for my son someday), and a few other odds 'n ends that I also thought my son might like to see or have someday as well.  The last things that I have, that I don't plan on keeping are his suits.  I know that he loved them and they are just hard to get rid of.  I am not planning on keeping these for my son because who knows if he could ever wear them or if he would even want to.  It's hard, but I just can't keep everything.  So, I know that the suits will go too.  And, I think once things start to settle down here and people are finding that they are having their basic needs met, I may donate the suits as well.  Just the thought though does put tears into my eyes because not only do they represent something that my husband loved, but they are also the last pieces that I have to donate.

In a way, being able to donate his things, makes it feel like he is still here, giving.  Letting those suits go is going to be a difficult thing to do. 

*As a little side note, since I mentioned Hurricane Sandy in this post, I felt a bit of giving from my husband in the midst of this storm myself.  Not knowing what to expect, I wanted to be prepared, so I had water stored, I had lots of food, I filled my car with gas... the only thing I was missing was extra batteries.  I was in need of two extra for the flashlight and 2 more for a radio.  I decided to check out the storage room to check out a box that we used to store those types of items in.  I kid  you not, there were 4 batteries in that box.  Two that I could use for the flashlight and two for the radio, exactly what I needed.  Fortunately I didn't need them, but as I was all alone to weather the storm, I didn't feel all that alone. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been having a very difficult time finding words lately as I have mentioned in my last post.  This still holds true and perhaps even more so as I continue my journey in moving on with my life.  I am now in unchartered waters as I begin to take steps in developing a real relationship with a man whom I deem to be wonderful.

Despite the amount of patience, understanding, and respect that this man has shown me and despite how comfortable I feel when I am with him, I just have not yet been able to find the words to tell him about the past.  At first, it didn't seem to matter.  It was very early and it was most important to just get to know one another at a basic level.  We are past that and as we see more and more of each other, I am starting to feel the heaviness of my story, my life weigh on me as I put it off.  I am beginning to find it difficult to share my true self with him because I feel as if I am leaving out this big chunk of my life that has so profoundly changed my perspectives, my thoughts... me.

The story is not that my husband took his own life.  That is only the tragic end to the story of us.  My story dates back almost exactly 15 years to when I first met him. I feel as if I need to start from there and share certain events and most importantly who I was and who I came to be throughout the years and how in almost some tragic poetic tale everything came together to create a perfect storm.  I want to continue to tell him what those last few months were like.  I want to share with him my thoughts and feelings so that he will understand the actions that I had to take to protect myself and my son.  I want to share the events that happened that caused me to take the actions that I did.  I want him to know my pain and heartache... I want him to know my hell so that he can both understand and appreciate what it took for me to be sitting next to him.

More than anything, I want him to know that all that I just did was share my life.  I want him to understand that I did not just dump a burden or my baggage onto him.  I want him to know that they belong to me and me only and that I have acknowledged them and dealt with them and that I carry a light load.  I have not been bogged down by the darkness of my past and I am in no way passing it on to him.

He is wonderful, but I am not sure if he is amazing, my amazing.  However, I feel that after sharing this, I can just completely let go and be me.  That wasn't something that I was able to do in the past.  It's scary to be that exposed, but I trust him.  I believe that in order to find amazing, that risk needs to be taken.  I think he is worth it too.