Grief reveals you. . .


The deeper the pain creeps into my broken soul,  
the more my soul is freed. . .

I’ve heard it said, time and time again, that grief reveals you. . .

The first time I heard this after the crash, I shuddered, literally.

What would be revealed of me? 

Not really having the mental capacity at the time to worry about it, I decided I’d deal with whatever was revealed of me at the time of revelation, no matter how deep and dark it was.

Since then, I have secretly wondered.

And waited. . .

Finally–I listened

I listened to the quiet revelations of my aching soul.

And I discovered,

that the deeper the pain crept into my broken soul, the more my soul was freed. . . 
to love more deeply and with abandoned,

to appreciate silence,
to crave authenticity,

to celebrate every gift,

to let joy in,

to hope,

and to experience compassion,

like never before.

Despite my brokenness, despite my heavy heart–grief has revealed my soul.

Ironic, isn’t it?

 “That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart–

and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty.” 

~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
 

 




 
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Facing Fears and Finding Me: Part Four- One year later!

“My ultimate goal is to be a marathon running, mountain climbing, vegan but if I woke up tomorrow and decided to do all three, I would fail miserably. I first need to be able to run a mile, climb the stairs without getting winded, and make it a week without meat before I can take another step forward.”

I wrote those words last March, a little over a month after I stepped foot on the scale for the first time in about a decade. I wrote again in May after losing 25 pounds and had planned to keep updating on a regular basis, but, since August, other writing has taken priority for me. . .

Even though I had temporarily abandoned blogging about my health and fitness journey, I never abandoned my quest to find me. One year later I am down 56 pounds and feel pretty awesome. I want to share with you–hopefully to inspire you if you are looking to make some positive changes for yourself. No matter where you are in your own health and fitness journey, know that every change you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.

My progress, by design, has been slow and steady. Everything I wrote in Part Two about losing weight? I still stand by it 1000%. Be accountable, get educated, have patience, exercise, find encouragement and support, and most importantly, go easy on yourself! As a person, you are NOT, I repeat, NOT defined by the number on the scale. True change is incredibly hard and takes loads of perseverance. Change is never easy and really scary sometimes, but healthy changes are always worth it. Be courageous in your efforts and you will be rewarded with better health, I promise.

Even though I was grossly overweight when I began, I knew that I would have to continually set fitness goals to keep my motivation up. I did this by signing up for different events with family and friends. The rewards when competing with this way are immeasurable. Finishing a race with your loved ones cheering you on is a beautiful feeling and I couldn’t have made it this far without such amazing support. I am so very thankful for the help and support that I continually receive.

In case you are waiting until you are smaller, faster, in better shape, etc. etc. etc. before you commit to a fitness event or weight loss program, there really isn’t a good enough excuse. (Did you see the double-amputee Olympic runner last summer? Or the 90-year old marathoner?) You can do it. And in case you are doubting what you can accomplish right now, here’s my list from the past year. If I can do this, anyone can.

In March, for the first time in years, I jogged a mile without stopping. At the time, I was at least 225 pounds. Yes, it was ugly, very ugly, but I did it. (Incidentally there was a nurse walking on the treadmill next to me. I knew if I went down, I’d have help!) It was a fantastic day.

In May, at about 215 pounds, I completed the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile long obstacle course. It was raining and about 50 degrees that day but we all finished. We were too cold to drink our free beer at the end but it was incredible anyways. I went home bruised and battered but the sense of accomplishment was so very worth it.

12 miles in the mud and cold!

In June, I ran the Foot Lake 4. For the first time ever, I ran a race the entire way. People that walked half the race finished before me and I didn’t care. I made it. As a bonus, my oldest and my brother ran too. (For the record, Uncle Mike kicked Page’s butt and placed in his age group. We ate pancakes afterwards and it was awesome.)

At about 206, I completed my first running race without stopping or walking. If you think
you are too big to run or complete a race, STOP THINKING THAT RIGHT NOW!
You can do anything you put your mind to, no matter how much you weigh.
Don’t ever forget that!

In August, at 197 pounds, I completed my first triathlon. I survived the swim, passed several people on the bike, and then got passed by all of them on the run. It didn’t matter though, I completed the race under the goal time I had set for myself. The feeling when I crossed the finish line? Indescribable.

After the bike, before the run.

Then in November, a crazy thing happened! My dad, who has never really ran before, joined the fun. I’ve ran two races with him so far and to say that it has been completely awesome would be an understatement. . .

After completing the Frozen 5k last weekend with my dad and Page.
In another 25 pounds or so, I will have reached my goal weight. I don’t have a magic number in mind but I’m guessing I’ll know when the time is right to transition from weight loss to maintenance. To celebrate, I will be climbing a mountain and running a marathon this summer. Long’s Peak in Colorado will be my mountain and the Superior Trail Marathon will be my race. As far as becoming a vegan? Despite some valiant efforts, I have no immediate plans to give up an occasional burger or juicy steak, but, I’m working on it.
P.S. I have only one regret on this journey so far. I didn’t tell my parents the day I completed the tri. They knew I was training but when the day came, it was cool and rainy. I knew I’d probably be out a couple of hours (if I made it at all) and I didn’t want them to feel obligated to stand out there in the rain waiting for me (I made my kids though!). They both let me know afterwards that they were disappointed with me for not informing them and I distinctly remember telling my mom that she could be there next year when she wouldn’t have to wait around for so long for me to finish. A couple of days later we talked about my weight loss and she told me how extremely proud she was of me. She said she would have to “get on the stick” and lose some weight too. That was one of my last conversations with her. . . 
 
Here’s a story about a 90 year-old marathon runner!
Facing Fears and Find Me Parts 1-3!

Part two: http://prairiegirlsguide.blogspot.com/2012/03/facing-fears-and-finding-me-part-two.html
Part three: http://prairiegirlsguide.blogspot.com/2012/05/facing-fears-and-finding-me-part-3.html

You aren’t going crazy, it’s grief!

Yep, that’s me. And, yep, I feel the way that I look!

“Little things we used to do without thinking, like mailing a letter, can easily become an all day task. Getting a gallon of milk can seem monumental. The thought of getting dressed, driving a car, getting money, paying a cashier, carrying the gallon, 
driving home-just these thoughts alone, can leave a griever hungry for sleep.” (http://www.funeralplan.com/griefsupport/griefsteps.html)

It was September, not quite a month after the crash, when I decided to return to my work in a full-time capacity. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I am blessed with a very flexible schedule (if needed) and as a bonus I work with one of my best friends– I really had no good excuse not to attempt a return to some semblance of normalcy in my life. 

The three weeks prior had been the most incredibly difficult weeks of our family’s existence. I think I can speak for most everyone when I say that we were exhausted–physically, spiritually, and emotionally– by the catastrophic loss we had suffered. I knew at the time that we had an extremely long and difficult road ahead of us.   

Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting but I do know that I definitely wasn’t prepared for exactly how difficult things would be. Grief is completely and utterly EXHAUSTING! And even though I knew that the emotional healing would be strenuous, what has surprised me the most on this healing journey is the sheer physical toll that grief takes on a person. In short, grief often makes you feel like you are literally going C-R-A-Z-Y. 

CRAZY!     CRAZY!     CRAZY!     CRAZY!


I distinctly remember two mornings when I was first returning to work. Both days started out relatively normal but when the time came for me to get dressed, all (excuse my language) hell broke loose. Both mornings I stood in my closet and S-O-B-B-E-D because I could not, I repeat, COULD NOT, figure out what to wear. In fact, one morning, I screamed “F*** it”as loud as I could, to myself, and went back to bed– for the rest of the morning. 

Then there was the morning not all that long ago when I burnt three separate sets of toast. Yes, three times I burnt my toast. (My co-workers, thankfully, finally stepped in and made sure I got breakfast.) Or there was the time, just a few days ago, that I blew by one exit while driving down the road and a few minutes later took a wrong one– on roads and exits that I have driven on too many times to count. Unfortunately, I have several other stories I could share. . . but I think you get the gist.

Besides my current lack of mental prowess, I can count on one hand the actual restful nights of sleep that I have had in the last few months, the circles under my eyes are now permanent and not-so-beautiful shades of grey and black, my patience is shorter than normal, I’ve been clenching my teeth, noise irritates me, and some days my compassion and tolerance levels run pretty low. Did I mention that grief is EXHAUSTING?

At times, I get easily frustrated with my decreased mental capacity, other times all I can do is laugh. Along the way, I have learned how to adapt. For instance, to make getting dressed possible, I got rid of a mountain of clothes in my closet and I wear the same jewelry every day. The simplicity has helped tremendously. I have recently started making lists to help me get through the day and I know now that if I want breakfast, I need to give the toaster my full attention. I also have learned that exercise is the only thing that gets rid of my newly acquired anxiety. I know that this altered mental state is not permanent but, nonetheless, it’s difficult some days.

After the closet incidents, I began to really research the effects of grief and mourning . I needed to confirm that what I was experiencing was normal and that I wasn’t slowly going insane. I also wanted to have some inkling of what to expect next. I then started talking with others that had recently suffered loss and discovered that they too were experiencing similar difficulties. These talks and my research helped confirm that the craziness was normal, that I wasn’t totally losing it, and that I wasn’t alone. 

If you are in the midst of grieving and are feeling kind of crazy, I highly recommend that you seek help now. There are several great pamphlets, books, and websites out there to get you started. If reading isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t think self-help will cut it, find someone to talk to. There are clergy, grief counselors, and others who have experienced loss right in your community, no matter where you live. 

Please don’t ever be afraid to reach out–no matter where you are on your healing journey– to someone, somewhere.The healing journey is a difficult one. Even though we all need to find our own way, there is no reason we can’t help to ease each other’s pain now and then. Never underestimate the power of finding out that you are not alone. 

I know that sometime in the future, these physical symptoms will pass and things will slowly get better. Until then, if you see me and I seem a little off, it’s because I am. And, it’s okay. I’m not going crazy, it’s grief!

P.S. Here’s a list of common grief symptoms..

(Please note that this list is by no means comprehensive. Also, it is important to note that these symptoms can be indicative of other health-related problems not related to your grief, so listen to your body. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. It is always better to check with your doctor then to dismiss a potentially serious health problem off as a symptom of grief.)


Through a child’s eyes. . .

On Christmas Day, I gave my nephew brief instructions on how to use my camera.

And then I watched him work the room as he snapped photo after photo of–

our dog,

of family with smiling faces,

and of the tree.

And I couldn’t help but wonder. . .

How different our world would be if we never lost the ability to see life through a child’s eyes.

What if. . .

Every decision we made was with our hearts first and not our minds?

What if. . .

We could actually share our feelings, whatever they may be, whenever we were feeling them?

What if. . .

We soaked up knowledge and new things like a sponge, always keeping an open mind and listening without prejudice?

What if. . .

We took time to enjoy and fully engage in each activity that our everyday life requires?

Bacon glasses as an adult? Maybe not. But, what about actually sitting down
to eat breakfast instead of  just grabbing a cup of coffee to go?

How different would our world be? 

Unfortunately though,

Being an adult. . .

Requires us to sometimes make tough choices where matters of the mind, sometimes for very good reasons, must come first–even if it breaks our hearts.

Being an adult. . .

Means that we don’t throw ourselves on the floor in kicking and screaming tantrums; but, it also means that we often refrain from offering up a hug, holding someone’s hand, or saying “I love you.”

Being an adult. . .

Means that we often think we know it all and don’t often take the time to learn something new or try to understand another’s point of view, simply because it doesn’t agree with our own.

Being an adult. . .

Often means that we rush through our days–busy with responsibilities and always looking ahead to what is next– instead of living in the present.

But, 

What if. . .

We sometimes just listened to our hearts and trusted that following it may actually be the best decision for us?

What if. . .

We learned to respectfully share with each other when we are feeling hurt, angry, scared, or alone. What if we learned to give and accept hugs, hold each other’s hands, or say “I love you?”

What if. . .

We took the time to learn something new about someone, some place, or something? What if we learned to listen to each other without judgement?

What if. . .

We actually fully lived in the present? What if we took the time to enjoy our breakfasts, our jobs, our relationships, our lives?

What if?

I can’t help but think the world would 
be a completely different place.