Wish You Were Here……

A rambling sort of letter to my dad…….

3,650 days…….ten years…….that’s how long it’s been since you were last here. You slipped away when everyone left the room for a bit. Not surprising…you were always quiet and to yourself. 


Every year I make my social media “I miss you” anniversary declaration, with the same rotation of pics.  I have come to be so torn with these pics. I’m forever grateful to have them. But I’m guilty of sometimes (especially lately) resenting that I don’t have any new ones to post. 


I dream about you this time of year, every year. You showed up as usual. I relive the last couple of weeks of your life and every year it’s a different emotion that comes with it.

I try to ignore it, just like I try to ignore the loneliness of being single during the holidays. But, it doesn’t matter what I “try” to do to avoid the reminders, they show up anyway.  Thankfully (very thankfully), the good reminders have mostly outweighed the bad.  Thankfully, my bitterness at my old job’s leadership, that made me come back to work and miss your final hours, changed to learning to be present for what’s important and set boundaries in my further career.  Thankfully, I rarely have flashbacks to your face when we had to have the convo that you weren’t going back home.  Thankfully, the image of sitting with mom and the sisters, in that tiny/stale family room, making the decision to “turn everything off”, rarely torments me as much as it used to.  Thankfully, when the image of your casket and the funeral pop in my head, I am able to quickly pivot to joy for how many people flooded that gym and what an incredible testament it was, to how loved you were by so many.  


People expect you to be fine. Some don’t understand how a simple tv show or tiny memory can completely wreck you. By most standards, 3,650 days should be plenty of time to deal with and process that. Sometimes I fall into the trap of worrying what people think and hesitate to share because I worry their reaction will be the “oh, he died 10 years ago…you shouldn’t be upset anymore” type face.  


I try to celebrate you and your memory in happy ways.  I eat your favorite cake (with that stupid pat of butter) or a ham sandwich (sorry, not doing the peanut butter and milk thing) on your birthday and death anniversary.  I share your shooting survival story with as many that will listen, feeling like I’m somehow keeping your memory truly alive.  


But none of that really soothes my heart (for very long anyway). Sure, it looks like I deal with it better. But I’m really just numb. And the numbness can be pierced in a hot second, if I hear your voice in a video, or catch a smell of your old cologne.  

So much has changed in ten years.  Yet so much hasn’t.  

I take a million pictures these days (you would love technology these days).  It’s quite possibly one of the top three things about me that gets on my family and friend’s nerves.  But, there is no way for me to accurately articulate the physical emphasis my heart has for wanting to capture every single thing…..because I know all to well that one day, those will be all I have to remember and connect with.  

I’m still mouthy :), not that you would be the least bit surprised.  However, I’m starting to see more and more how sometimes not saying much is a much better option or statement (and saves me more energy and trouble in the long run).  The quiet and pause you exercised actually rubbed off on me more than you think….it just took about 30+ years to stick 🙂 

I think you would be proud of how hard I have worked and what I have accomplished.  But I know you would still think that I don’t call or go home enough.  

You would love the littles that have infiltrated our lives.  You would’ve been the cool gramps, like your dad was.  It’s been so neat to watch mom become a grandma (I don’t even recognize her in that role, letting them get away with EVERYTHING lol) and I’m sad you didn’t get the chance.  


You would make jokes about me not being able to have kids, because the world couldn’t handle another me.  But I also know that you would side hug me and that would be your way of letting me know that “it’s ok to hurt”.  You might even leave me a little note reminding me that there are more ways than one to be a parent and how much you loved me, even though I “wasn’t originally yours”.  

I know if people believe in angels and after-life and all that, that they probably also assume you get to do way more important things than be proud when I add numbers in my head quickly and still don’t hardly ever need a calculator……but I refuse to believe that you aren’t proud of that!  I even still like to do my taxes by hand, like you taught me (but don’t get too excited, I want my refund just as fast as anyone, so I e-file – SORRY).


I use more of your phrases, more often, than I ever thought I would.  People who know me well, know that if they come to me with a problem, I’m probably going to say “What’s the common denominator? You gotta look at yourself first”.  Most also know I have inherited your level of toughness.  I’m probably most proud of that.  There are times that I have to truly practice not saying out loud “Well, until you’ve been shot and handcuffed to a dead man in the trunk of a car and lived to tell about it, nothing in your life is really that bad”.  You would definitely think that society as a whole has become way too soft.  And I would gladly sit on the front porch griping about it with you!


Your 48Hours episode gives me a great conversation piece.  From the ol’ Astro van, to my hick accent, it gives us plenty to make fun of.  But I don’t know if hearing your voice on there will ever not pierce my heart and stop me dead in my tracks.  I miss that the most, your voice.  I am not even ashamed to admit that I play out conversations with you in my head all the time.  I imagine what you would say if I called to tell you about work happenings or the latest silly situation I got myself into.  I imagine how incredible our relationship now would be, since I finally “get it” and am a real adult.  I’m pretty certain we would be best friends. I am more like you than I would’ve ever thought possible. 


I blame you (and pop Horn) for me STILL being single :p.  You two did such a good job at being the best men and taking care of me, that I guess after my divorce, I didn’t really see the need to add a man to my life.  Then you both went away.  I definitely try the tough act of “I don’t need a man” (and thankfully after A LOT of crap and work, I really don’t)……..but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t often wish for one to come along that had the characteristics of the great that you two were!  


There are so many people in my life that I wish you could meet.  And there are some that you would have no issue in telling me that “you should’ve gotten rid of them a long time ago”.  People is probably the only category I fight being like you.  It’s strange.  You had friends, of course.  But you also were fine alone and didn’t have to be with people all the time or to talk everyday to consider yourself loyal/friend, etc.  You also noted who kept up with you or reached out and you were very aware of other’s actions in relationship with you.  You never made too much of a fuss, but you would just quietly let them go away.  As much as I love and thrive off of being around people, I find myself more and more like you in being alone too.  And. It. Feels. So. Weird.  I butt heads with it regularly and experience seasons where I am bitter that I feel like I’m doing all the work and seasons where I’m not.  I even get frustrated, that I’m frustrated, because if I was really that much like you, I wouldn’t have cared either way and even in typing this, I can hear you saying “oh just hush, Alicia.  You always over think and over rattle about things”.  


It seems silly to even write this at all.  You’re not here to read or talk to me about these things.  I’m fairly certain the inter webs have no interest in my rambling about it all, either.  It’s just a self-serving post to get my feelings out of my heart in an effort to release, if I’m facing honesty.  It doesn’t capture telling the world how great you really were (like I started out intending to do for this anniversary).  And if it did……or if you could read it…….you wouldn’t be interested in the attention anyway.  

But, whether you would’ve liked it or not………..that’s what we do these days.  We post all of ourselves (or some of us do) on the inter webs and hope that someone out there……just one person “gets” what we were going for.  

You were great.  You were so great, that you left a hole so big, that even the time of ten years hasn’t healed it.  Thank you for the quiet and fierce love you gave, that I still feel.  I wish you were here.  

P.S. if you’re interested in the 48Hours episode or an overview of his survival story, you can watch that here (our story starts at 16minutes in).

Change is in the air…..

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Whew, this one turned out to be longer than intended.  It’s worth it (or I think it is), to hang in there…….take a bathroom break, do some stretches…..whatever you need to, but hang in there with me! 🙂

I really want to avoid the word “resolution” or any variation of “New Year’s resolution”.  I know it works for some people to make those lists and stick to them.  I admire those folks that diligently sit and layout how things will be different in 2019 and follow through.  I LOVE a good list (I’m just terrible at following them).

I used to want to be one of those people.  However, one of those people, I am not.  And I highly suspect that amongst all of those Facebook posts I have seen, that declare all the sappy and super wholesome new things they promise to do……that there are many who won’t make it any further than I would, if I did make a “resolution” list. I gave up setting myself up for failure long ago (well in the area of New Year’s resolutions lists anyway).

With all that said, I still love what the “new year” signifies in the area of “starting fresh”.  We all know you can do that any day, but I try to embrace what this season brings, even if I go against the grain of the official resolutions listing.  Change is part of the standard for this time of year and even though I’m poking a little fun at the declaration part of it, I love the atmosphere that it brings, even if, in most cases, it doesn’t last past March :p

I also feel like “New Year’s resolutions” have an air of “what I have to do better because I really messed up the last year”.  Whether that’s true or not, or whether I’m way over analyzing, I don’t like to look at things that way.  Sure, I made mistakes.  Of course last year was challenging in some ways (hello…..broken ankle, surgery, 21 screws, pneumonia, flu, new job…..and so forth).  But it wasn’t “bad”.  It just showed me how much more I can do and make better for this new year.

ANDDDDD, with all of the even more rambling said, I’m throwing in some contradiction and giving you a list :).  I guess there really isn’t even a way to avoid calling them resolutions, but for the sake of my rebellion against them, we are just going to call this “what I’m choosing differently for 2019”.

Even though the list is mine……part of it and part of me wants you to realize you should/could do it too.

feelings

Tell people how I feel, no matter what the outcome is.  Easy enough to type and easier to be confused by this one, if you know me.  I’m usually always speaking my mind.  But, surprisingly enough, when it comes to making sure people truly know how I feel, I don’t share nearly as much as I probably should.  But 2018 showed me in more than one (and mostly terrible) way that life is too short.  It showed me that 41 years is of no matter when a friend has to die.  It showed me that too much of what I keep to myself, is because I either expect the same profession back, or I am scared of the reaction of the other person.  It’s time for those fears to be squashed.  It’s time to “say the things” with no expectations in return.  In doing that, it frees me and what the other person chooses to do with it, is on them….and whatever that is,I will be fine….because robbing myself of being true to who I am is only robbing me, never the other people. 🙂 Just say the damn words.

report the good

Report the good.  We are so quick to complain or make sure management knows when we aren’t happy.  We want resolution for our pain and suffering, whether it be on a big scale or when our order is messed up at the drive-thru.  We sometimes assume when we get good service, or a good product, etc, that it’s part of their job or that “they” know everything is fine.  I think if we started making it known when we receive “great”, that it might just help in drowning out and eventually erasing so much of the negativity in our lives.  I, for one, could use a heavy dose of being more grateful and looking through a happier lens. Plus, you never know when you doing this will help the person receiving the praise.

pause

Pause and intentionally choose differently.  Even when it’s comfortable.  I’m NOTORIOUS for acting first and thinking later.  Though I have improved, this area still needs a lot of construction!  I’m determined that it’s not the 900 year I-49 expansion type of construction :P, but it needs work, nonetheless.  I have seen and tasted the sweet glory in little areas when I choose to pause first, pray and choose differently than my normal AND WAIT it out.  I can’t say it’s comfortable……actually it’s grossly uncomfortable for me.  But, if I want differently (and better), I have to DO differently (and better).  I don’t know that I have ever had this much conversation with myself (or God) before making the simplest decisions, but I definitely am feeling wiser for it and I want that to continue! I have to find the balance between who I am at my core (an Aries who is flighty, loves “the in and new thing” and bores easily) and weighing long term versus instant gratification.  I also have to stop letting things derail me.  I promise you the devil smells it when I’m on the right track and he sends me all kinds of distractions (that usually work – i.e. boys who seem like they are dateable).  Gotta “stay woke” as the young kids say……or do they still say that?

process

Learn to like chores and the process.  To build on to the above, I learned a lottttt about “process” this year and how important doing the little things are. I will put off a chore for an embarrassing amount of time if any social activities invites are thrown my way.  I have little desire for admin duties, process and chores.  My type is just not built that way.  I justify it with the fact that time with people is what I thrive off of and that you can’t get that back, yada yada yada.  When you shatter your ankle and can’t even pee by yourself for 3 weeks, you sure get a different perspective on how important process is.  Believe me when I tell you that you can’t put one foot in front of the other until you do all the other steps (no pun intended).  I have a whole new appreciation for “process” and chores. I have no idea how I will get better at being consistent and disciplined in them, but it’s on the list to give it the ol’ college try.  Tips appreciated 🙂

invest in the list

Invest in the list, list of people that is.  I have always had a lot of “friends”.  I’ll spare you the sap and quotes about finding quality as you get older and realizing how important having a “core tribe” is.  I love fiercely and wish I could love the same amount of “fierce” on every single person I know.  But I can’t.  We weren’t build that way.  All I can do is be kinder to every person I interact with.  But, if I’m going to do this life alone thing that seems to be happening, and if I can’t guarantee that the nieces are going to take me in when I get older (kidding, kind of)….AND…..at the rate that people really do come and go and disregard relationship (friendship or otherwise)…..then I have to do better at figuring out which people deserve my time, the real me and my fierce love.  I love using social media for the masses and I love people (really, interacting with people is my favorite thing).  I even have gotten to a really good place where I assume that most people that follow or interact with me have good intentions and think I’m awesome :).  I truly don’t care about those that think otherwise.  But I also have to be realistic that no matter how much I love others, they aren’t always going to feel the same about me or give effort to a relationship with me. And honestly (as my niece pointed out), I can’t just give all of me right off the bat to people.  Why do the people that love me most have to share me, or see me be spread thin (and not give them what they deserve) with someone who doesn’t see my worth, etc?  They shouldn’t have to.  So, I have my people list and plan to work on it.  I hope they hold me accountable!

just say no

Say “No” more often, stick to it and be ok with it.  I think this one is self-explanatory.  I also think I have to stop explaining when I do say it.  Sometimes “no” is for self-preservation.  Sometimes “no” is to protect me from making further bad decisions.  Either way, “no” has to be a necessary part of my 2019.  If you know me at all, you know I can’t even schedule a lunch with someone easily because I stay “overbooked”.  That’s nothing to brag about.  But, again, if I want differently, I have to do differently.  That starts with saying “no” to more things and being ok with it.  I have big things to do and I can’t do them, if I’m chasing instant gratification and worrying about missing out.  It all ties in to the whole appreciating the process and remembering the long term benefit thing.  I’m writing this for me to reference….not you :p

use the gifts

Be ok with my gifts.  Lastly, this.  Actually, no.  Don’t be ok with them.  Be PROUD of them.  Be THANKFUL for them.  Be a GOOD STEWARD of them.  I recently had a session with a coach who asked me to describe my “board members” in my life (love how she labeled them) and what about each of them made me consider them so important in my life.  I went through all the attributes and then she threw me a curve ball.  She was writing them down as I was talking and said that I’m attracted to those traits in those people, because I have those in me too.  Tears.  It’s SO HARD for me to hear anything good about myself (working on it). I appreciate it more than ever, though.  I have good in me.  I do have gifts.  If I look back and think about it, or relive certain instances, I am at my best when I see all those gifts being used.  It’s not a new concept. When you are who you are, you attract so much good to you.  I’ll be damned if I hide those anymore because it makes someone else uncomfortable.  I will no longer walk in a room, watch someone else give me those judgy looks when they are watching me tell a story or interact with others and get quiet or back down.  If anything, I’ll tell more stories and laugh a little louder.  I bet if you took a look at your gifts and used them a little more boldly, that you’d see some “new good” too 🙂

So, that’s it.  Tell me I’m not the only one who reflects during this time and has some of these same thoughts too? 🙂

I reserve the right to amend or add at any point.  For now, I’m gonna buckle up and see what kind of tricks 2019 has up it’s sleeve.  I wish you the best in your list too :)!  I hope you find all the happiness you’re searching for and that 2019 brings all that you want it to!  I’m cheering for us all!

Sometimes and Always

Sometimes you sleep so hard (and didn’t have to get up to pee – YAY!), that you actually hit the 9 hour sleep mark and end up over sleeping a bit.

Sometimes you wake up with the worst allergy headache (even though you have never dealt with allergies before)

Sometimes your dog is a jerk and takes the whole “look buddy, all this room to explore now” a little too far and makes you have to text your boss to say “sorry, I’ll be a little late, my dog is a jerk”. But here is a pic of him being cute to remind me that he’s worth keeping (and not putting up a “dog for sale” sign)

Sometimes bracelets you have had for ten years make an appearance and you get a cheesy life lesson of “making old things new” (and making you pause in your “cleaning out and getting a whole new life” to realize that keeping some of the old isn’t always bad either)

Sometimes the free “in shower” self tanner product you were given, sits on a throne of lies and you come out streaked and have to over compensate (hoping nobody notices – and thankfully the girls in the office assure you that you’re safe)

Sometimes you have no idea what the heck those streaks are on your dress in a picture, but you have already changed 3 times so you’re going with it…..

Sometimes online dating takes you through 9,000,000 jerks and you wake up to a message that says “if I liked bigger girls, I think you would be a hoot to get to know”

BUT ALWAYS (alllwaaayyyys), even in the “messy sometimes”, you can still find a reason to laugh and be happy……..and this purple dress with pockets and these bright earrings are definitely happiness!

I’m naturally a more realistic person, that sometimes ends up seeming negative.  I have to consciously choose to pick joy.  I literally have to talk it out loud over and over sometimes.  But you know what?  As cheesy as it is, it really works.  And whether you believe it or not, it really does flow out of you for others to see.  It’s so simple to do (and I don’t like a lot of extra work, so if something so little can make such a big difference, then I’m IN!).  I give people PLENTY of things to say about me….but I truly hope that being more intentional about being more of a light, will be one of the main things that starts being spread about me (even if it’s through laughing at that dang roller coaster video of me).

Life is so different when you are looking through the lens of joy and choosing to be thankful and see the good.  I promise you if you give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.  And I promise you that there will be people on board that will ALWAYS only want to hang on to how you “used to be”……let those people live in that bubble and you keep moving along.  Eventually you’ll be so far down the road, you won’t even be able to see them in the rearview!

HAPPY THURSDAY!!!!!!!

A Pickled Awakening

I have mentioned to several that it feels very weird to “have my life back”. I didn’t realize how much I was working (and how much of me and my time I was sacrificing) to try and keep up with the demands. I was one person, trying to serve as 4 (and failing pretty miserably in a lot of areas).

I prayed harder than I ever have in my life. I prayed for rest. For regroup. For my health. For a fresh start. For a place that would be a good job fit, but also allow me to fulfill (what I think is) my purpose outside of that realm. To be able to write again and be a champion for others to figure out just how great they really are. For someone to know my tough act was just that…..an act.

I got distracted. I took on friends that didn’t deserve the love and prayer I had to give (ok everyone deserves prayer). And unfortunately they also didn’t value it when it was given. Sadly, I had warning straight from the big man himself and still chose not to listen. I was left trying to pour from an empty cup. I was left a little cracked and almost shattered at this point. It’s not that person’s fault completely. I put them in a role they didn’t ask for and my expectations were never even voiced outside of my own head. Lesson learned. And it was a good one to learn. Not everybody deserves to know me intimately or deserves my gifts (I never looked at it that way before and more on that later – but it’s true).

And then I went back to praying for me. To be that better, charismatic, influential person that I knew was in there somewhere. She was just so damn tired. I couldn’t wake her.

Fast forward to present day…or present night. Where I’m sitting in my car, happy tears streaming down my face, eating pickles. And it’s messy (my face andy fingers – look, it’s day one of a healthy lifestyle change and I’m struggling and my coach said pickles are ok!)

For 4 weeks I have wondered around aimlessly at night. I have filled my time with a few (great) trips, Netflix, random dinners, or even literally just sitting on my couch doodling. I have had no idea what to do with myself because I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t going home just to let the dog out and change, so that I would be more comfortable if I was going to work til midnight. I haven’t “done anything” of significance out of fear. I think I keep waiting on someone to bust me out for not working. Like, it’s not real that I really go home at 5 and don’t have to answer emails. To say I’m having some adjustment issues I guess would be an understatement. 😎

But back to tonight….and my point. I ended up at a bible journaling class. I have wanted to do it for a long time but didn’t know where to start, so I was elated when a friend offered her expertise to help the less creatively fortunate.

It was like with every step I applied to my page, there was release. And happy. And exhale. I could’ve stayed there the rest of the night creating. Of course it’s no coincidence that the scripture page picked was basically a neon sign, reminding me that I am on purpose.

Y’all, that woman I have been searching for….she opened her eyes a little tonight. She woke up and stretched a little. She saw the sun peaking through the blinds. And someday soon (very soon), she is going to get out of that cave, put on the most obnoxiously bright dress and step back out into the sunshine.

And she is going to weigh less, both physically and mentally. She has heard every prayer. She has clung to every word of encouragement given to her. She has not taken for granted the “random” people who have recently crossed her path.

I am “she”. And I have never been more thankful or more aware of the season I have been in. Mark my words. SO MUCH greatness is coming from it. And I can’t wait!!!

SO THANKFUL for the most therapeutic exercise and night I have had in forever (and looking forward to lots more nights of creative journaling).

And I am praying that you, the beautiful/handsome one who has hung in to read thus far, finds just the right therapy that awakens the greatness in you too!!!

💗

Fyi – this is not a knock on my old company. I made my own choices. I learned A LOT and more than cherish some of the great people I learned from and now call friend.

Late Night Laptop Talk

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I’m just now shutting my laptop for the night and going to bed. A bed that has “half on” sheets because I have just been too tired to care if they are on right or at all.

I have no Christmas decorations up AT ALL (for the first time in my entire life). And at this point, I doubt any of it will get done.

I haven’t planned my funny single Christmas card (you know you have all been dying for an update on that one)

I’m quite possibly at an all time high for being a terrible friend.  I know I’ve missed texts and let too many go unanswered. I can’t remember to return calls.  I certainly don’t call my mother as often as I should. I fail to check in with people and make time to visit with those I haven’t seen in a while.

If it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t know when even my closest friends were celebrating birthdays.  I haven’t kept a hang out commitment in ages (sorry Rob and Jessica).

I have stepped away from people simply out of the lessening of tolerance levels and the realization that you don’t have to accept other’s mistreatment of you, out of obligation.  And I’m not even a little bit sorry for doing it.

I’m not kind to my body.  I’m actually being the most unkind it’s probably ever experienced from me. And it’s not even rebelling anymore as much as it’s just sad and tired and defeated.

When someone says “you are always so put together”, I cringe and look over my shoulder, worried that they will find out how “un put together” I really am…..or that there will be a number of my enemies in line to point it out for them (or that they saw me barely be able to find clothes to wear this morning).

This has been the weirdest and one of the most challenging seasons of my life.  I have been stubborn in not taking real rest.  I have laid in bed in the mornings wondering how in the heck I got anything done the day before, and how on earth I’m going to get anything done today. I have wished for some magical fairy to see where I struggle and just show up and help without me having to admit that I need it! (i.e. putting up my Christmas decorations lol)

BUT……….Also….

I’m the toughest I’ve been in a while.  These last six months have brought battles I never thought I would be in (cancer blows).  Yet my mind has not even remotely let me dwell in a place of negativity or fear.  I’m a worrier by nature and haven’t been able to even do that.

My career has stretched me more than I thought it could or would. And every time I try to have a minute of “I don’t want to do this.” Or “I can’t do this” or whatever, I’m immediately shown that I am equipped for this season and am growing in ways that can only mean that I’m about to launch into something really great.  And my years of hard work and trying to overcome are finally paying off.

Even though my friends may be fewer, the ones that are in this season with me are patient and showing me staying power that I didn’t even know I needed.  And, I’m being exposed to new friends that I can’t wait to grow (already love you, Chelsea).

I’m sticking up for myself and I’m taking less crap.  And man, does that feel good!

I’m making the most out of the free time I have and being wise in how I choose to spend it. I don’t get a lot of free time these days (see exhibit A – late night laptop pic :p ), and I know that load isn’t going to lighten any time soon. So, I try to be very intentional about how I spend my free time.  And it’s making me realize that some things are just ok undone (Like not putting up a Christmas tree – ok, that one is still breaking my heart, but you get what I’m saying).

I’m more focused.  Which is weird to say since so much of life for me right now is so out of sorts (I.e. that pile of unfolded laundry).  For the first time, I’m seeing that there is a longer term play and end game and not sacrificing that for the temporary (haven’t quite applied this to my self care and body yet lol).  So, the late nights, although tiring, are still serving a longer term purpose that I know will pay off.

I appreciate the “off” things.  Like those picture frames that are off center.  Every time my door closes, they get knocked that way.  It used to drive me crazy. And I still straighten them from time to time, but not as much as I used to.  Because them being crooked means I have been living life outside of this apt 🙂

Literally every time my mind has even acted like it was going to take a right down “bad thought lane”, something happens to immediately shut it off.  Sometimes it’s a pause (which is new territory for me).  Sometimes it’s someone who crosses my path in that moment with a word of encouragement or just enthusiasm in general. Sometimes it’s my dog crawling up next to me, when normally he’s at my feet. It’s a host of things like that, that seem to show up and say “nope, back to focus, you’re growing and the other side is magical”.

I’ve done a lot of late night, cheesy rattling to simply try to say that it’s ok to give yourself permission to be in a weird place. It’s ok to ramble and post it on a blog and risk people not understanding (especially if writing makes you this happy and serves it’s therapeutic purpose).

It’s ok to be in that weird place and feel uncomfortable (I still can’t wrap my mind around how we got to December so fast and how little I accomplished).  Sometimes it takes these kinds of places to prompt us into serious action (as in I will NEVER go through another holiday season this “naked” and non-celebratory).

It’s ok to say all the same cheesy things that a million Instagram quote/memes say and have people roll their eyes about it (because there is probably one person who wishes they could say the same things out loud – and connecting with that one person through you being out loud and transparent is more than worth the other 6,000 eye rolls and skip overs)

Just don’t go so far that you can’t come back.  🙂

Fancy’s Swimsuit Edition…..Wearing Whatever the Flip I want……..

I typed. Retyped. Started a new draft, with new thoughts. Went back to the old draft. I made sure I covered all the past things that got me here (mean high school girls, chocolate gravy for breakfast as a little girl, hysterectomy at a very young age).  And all that just took up too many words and seemed to STILL miss the one main point of this post, all together.

All I really need to say is this….I have fallen in in love with my body. And with that said, I have some killer swimsuits this season that need their moment.  So please allow me to introduce you to some great swimsuits for those of us with a little oomph and extra! 🙂  Of course, they come with a few paragraphs of life lesson, which I hope you won’t mind!  Frankly, I just do not care about how uncomfortable you are with how fantastic I feel about myself, nor do I care to suffer through an Arkansas summer more covered than necessary (I HATE THE HEAT)!

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It makes zero sense to be this in love with a body that needs so much improvement. But I truly love it. I actually don’t want it to look too much differently than it does now. I mean that. I have come a LONG WAY in ceasing to compare myself with other bodies.  It feels SO GOOD to look at a pic of another woman and think “she is so pretty” or “I love that outfit” versus the other horrible comparisons I would do, or even worse, trying to find someone that I thought looked bigger and worse than me so that I would feel better about what I currently looked like. I am so ashamed to admit that I did that.

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I want this body to be healthier. I don’t want gravity to take over. I need the fine lines and wrinkles to simmer down.  However, this poor body has carried me through some terrible times. It has had the worst neglect and too many “I’ll start tomorrow”, to count. It has been beaten and spit on. In it’s current state, literally every day that I wake up, it has to decide to fight against an illness I like to pretend I don’t have. Lately, walking at all is more of an accomplishment than I have shared with most of my people.

 

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It could’ve failed me long ago. It could’ve put out a completely different reflection, based on what I have put in it over time. But it hasn’t (thankfully!!). So, I owe it a bit more credit than I have given it in the past. PLUS, I decorate it pretty well on most days!

I know how much work it took, to only take way too long to get here.  The last thing I want is to contribute to any other little girl or woman watching me attack myself and thinking it’s ok.  I try to be especially careful of what I say about myself when I am in front of my nieces or friend’s kids (or on first dates, for the matter).  It’s VERY important to me that I do all that i can to influence them to value themselves, just the way they are. It is my passion that every girl feel good about and love herself.  I mean that with every fiber in this newly loved body!

So when I walked out of my room in my swimsuit and my nieces said “Oh Auntie Ricia, I love that suit.  You look so so pretty!!!”, and when they were the ones who pushed for me to “put it on your Instagram” …..I figured today was just as good as any to do the swimsuit showoff I have wanted to do for so long.  I want them to see me loving my body and being ok with whomever may see it.

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I had been waiting for the perfect situation (makeup, hair, tan, someone to help me snap the pics, perfect weather, not bloated….miracle major weight loss, bla bla and so on)…when all I really needed were a couple of 8 year olds saying “put your hand on your hip and smile bigger”.  I wanted to even hire someone with mad photoshop skills to do a little smoke and mirrors.  But, that would defeat the purpose of the lesson, right?  Hold please, I need to pause and take another deep breath.  I cannot believe I’m doing this.

 

 ANYWAY……the process was pretty hilarious and has made for an awesome memory for them.  We got caught in a storm while we were at the pool, doing the initial shoot.  We powered through and then made a mad dash back to my apartment, completely drenched (see “after pic directly below)! Even though most of those pics were ruined and we had to call reinforcements in for help, the littles learned a lot about dancing in the rain and finding the good in not ideal situations.  They went from being a bit scared of the storm, to getting back upstairs and saying “THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN, AUNTIE RICIA”!!!  Mission accomplished!!!

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I think it’s funny how this whole life thing is working out. I’m aware of the bad decisions that got me in this physical state and I long to be healthier. I had no idea how hard the mental road to reverse lifestyle and upbringing would be. I get SO FRUSTRATED that now my body just can’t cooperate that easily to just get healthier.  I am angry at an illness that provides hurdles and still struggle with the looks I get from people when I try to explain (you know that look of “if you would just lose some weight you would……be this or that).  But even in this state. I’m also the happiest I have ever been. I love how kind life is back to you , when you try to work alongside it versus fighting it or going your own road.

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The scale may not show it, but in many ways I have shed weight. The weight of toxic people (and more of that is in the works). The weight of trying to please others. The weight of saying yes all the time. The weight of worrying myself sick about what others might think or how they spin their side of a story (it’s really none of my business what people think or say of me). That alone has probably shed thousands of pounds 😛.  I am consciously trying to be kinder and speak love and encouragement to others.  I am declaring that I absolutely refuse, from this moment forward, to make one woman feel better, by tearing another down (i.e. Oh his new girlfriend is way uglier than you).

This week, my nieces showed me that they genuinely think I am beautiful. So I guess I should let myself believe it too. As a matter of fact, I have no intentions of hanging out with anyone who doesn’t see me the way they do, anymore! I hope when they are older, they come across this rambling and know what a cool day this turned out to be!

I’m promising myself that I will believe in this post.  I will not worry or let my mind wonder to a place where there are screenshots and memes made and conversations behind my back!  I will try my best not to worry about a few that I know would never say anything to my face, but will definitely not agree that I should be this comfortable being this fat, much less putting it all on the internet.  I’m not going to give in to worrying about how much better I would look if I actually had knees 🙂 (for the record, I never really have, even at my smallest).

I hope that if you’ve read this far and browsed the included pics, that you see joy and that you feel inspired to be just a little nicer to yourself when you sport your next swimsuit.  And lastly, I hope that if you came across this and use it to shame, belittle, or talk about “did you see what Alicia had the nerve to post of herself….that girl is too big to be wearing a two piece”…..that you have a few days of explosive diarrhea! :p

I will be forever thankful for three little girls who made me feel like the prettiest girl in the world (and a few friends who go out of their way to make me feel that way often!)!

The end (for now).

P.s.

I wore the two piece the rest of the day, while we played and enjoyed some sunshine. It felt so fire!! Look at this look! It screams comfortable and relaxed!!!

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Swimsuit Info/Links:

Red two piece

Black/White Wrap

Black w/ aztec-ish trim

Gingham top

Black and White Strapless and RWB Paisley: Walmart (two years ago, no longer available) – but here is a link to their great swimsuit options from this season 

I’m cooler than you on Father’s Day…..

(I’ll get back to funny soon – there are some GREAT dating stories in store)
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I am cooler!  And I’ll tell you why in just a sec (and it’s not just because of how cute I was as a baby – look at that face!).  First, I have to say Happy Father’s day to all the dads, moms who play dad, men who stand in the gap, and to the men who chose to be dads when they didn’t have to be!!  Your role is more important than ever…..and I’m lucky to have had the best and know some of the best!  I am also lucky to have some pretty great faux dads that have taken me in as their own (especially the latest guy – my mom’s fiance, who has done nothing short of making sure my mom and me and my sisters are taken care of!! Love you, Joel!)
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I’ve never been able to sit still and find a way to write all the encompasses my dad.  Or, I should say that I’ve never felt like I could do it justice.  He really deserves a book.  I’m not just saying that as a proud daughter, who thinks her dad was the greatest.  I mean, he really deserves a book.  He is the survivor of a terrible incident (as in survivor out of 9 people that these monsters killed – while being handcuffed to a dead guy and stuffed in the trunk of a car – where he was trapped fro 6 hours in June, in Arkansas…..sooooo yeah, that’s a story worth telling).  A book is on my bucket list to complete, but for now, I blame life in general and a ridiculous amount of fear for not having done it yet.
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Although the above tid bit is enough to put him leaps and bounds ahead on the list of great guys, that’s not why makes me cooler than you on Father’s Day.  I could argue that these throw back pics included should definitely put me at the top of cool, but that’s not it either.
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You see, what makes me just a TINY bit cooler than you today (unless you’re my friend Aaron, I’m not as cool as him) is that I get this day as a reminder that I was chosen.  I’m gonna take it up a notch and even say that I was hand picked.  My dad came along after I was already born.  I was part of the package of loving my mom and I was VERY young when he showed up.  Thankfully, too young to know that the “real” one had basically abandoned his opportunity to raise this legend!  And thankfully, too young to have that pre-established hesitation for someone coming into the picture (even though the above shows me less than happy, in general. haha).
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I’m more than proof that DNA isn’t the sole factor of making a child.  My dad chose me.  I think that’s what has always made me a little cool 🙂  He didn’t have to be my dad, but he made the conscious decision to.  And he did so, fiercely.  There was never a difference.  Not one time.  If anything, he was harder on me.  I am more like him than I would’ve ever thought possible – and I’m ok with that 🙂  (even the stubborn).  He and my pop were two of the most important men in my life and I will never be the same without them – but I’m proud to be who I am because of their influence!
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Some guys don’t get to choose.  Some are told they are going to be a dad and enter into the role out of obligation.  Some know they want to be a dad and follow the process of “first comes love, then comes marriage……”.  Any way that you become a dad and step up to the role is great.  I in no way want to disregard that. I just simply want to recognize that  (and am a little partial to this method) my dad chose me.  To make a deliberate choice to fill a role, an often thankless role and to fill the role with your whole heart – THAT makes you one heck of a guy!
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One of my favorite stories is told by my aunt, after my dad passed.  She tells about the first day my dad had duty alone with me.  She says that he came to my grandma’s with me in tow, in matching denim overalls.  She goes on to always make sure I know that on that day, she had never seen my dad look more proud.  She talks about how he entered the house, carrying me, and was beaming.  My dad had been through a lot by then.  He had a lot of reasons to not be a happy person.  And, if you knew him, you knew that he definitely had his grumpy and closed off side.  A side I fought him on through much of my teenage years (because of course I was dramatic and wanted to always talk about my feelings lol – oh his eye rolls will forever be stuck in my head).  But to hear her tell about how on that day, he had a glow………GOODNESS it makes my heart tingle EVERY TIME I recount it!
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My dad expected a lot from me.  My dad was strict.  My dad was one of the best math teachers to ever live. MY DAD WAS A FIGHTER (polio, shot and left for dead, heart attack on the day of my grandpa’s funeral, and a cancer journey).  You will be hard pressed to find someone that was as tough as him.  And he NEVER complained.  He might have gotten grumpier at times, but he just never complained.  He wouldn’t ever let me cry for very long without expecting me to pick myself up and keep moving.  He wasn’t a “hugger” or emotionally available guy. I can still remember the first time he truly said “I love you”.  It was a big deal.  He HATED that I was a procrastinator.  We spent most of my teen years fighting.  He didn’t “save” me from a lot of mistakes, because he knew that I was the type that just had to learn on my own – but also believed in me enough to know I was smart enough to eventually figure it out (even if I took longer than he cared for, to do so).  I’m sure we could all say we gave our parents a run for their money.  BUT HE CHOSE TO STAY.  He chose me.  And I know that he was proud.  He told me so, before he died, in a very emotional voicemail, that I would sell my soul to the devil to still have.
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I can’t stop smiling and I have erased how many extra times I have typed it already.  HE CHOSE ME.  And I didn’t appreciate it enough, of course, until it was too late, and he was gone forever.  But, like I typed above, he always knew I would “get it” eventually.  So, I’m sure he is wondering around in heaven, not a bit surprised that I took way too long to “get it” about him.
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I could sit on the front porch all day, with a glass of cold sweet tea and tell story, after story about him.  His story gives me breath and life….and it’s REALLY COOL that when I seem to be missing him the most, the big guy sends someone my way to listen to me ramble about what an incredible story (or 3) my dad had.  He is one of three major examples that contribute to me being set apart (I don’t say that to brag – because if anything, I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t made the most of what is so clear about those examples).
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I don’t know why it took me until the eve of this Father’s Day to realize the whole chosen thing.  I wish it would’ve “clicked” while he was still alive, so that I could write him a cheesy card that he would just roll his eyes at and throw away (he was a man of few words – I was a child of too many words lol).  Maybe he would’ve kept it – he did keep this amazing wood burning art I did for him :P.  He wouldn’t have sat and let me brag too much about him though, he wasn’t that kind of guy.
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I’m pretty lucky that I was chosen.  I’m pretty proud at how many people also saw how awesome he was, and I will never tire of hearing people talk about him (they still do, to this day – which is testament enough to his impact).  It’s pretty hard to justify letting anyone tear you down or make you believe in yourself less, when you had someone choose to fill one of the biggest roles in your life.  I had someone pick me!  And I will do my best to remember that before I cry to a friend (like I may/may not have done last week) when some stupid guy doesn’t pick me.
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Thanks for letting me type out loud and process what is normally a rough reminder day.  If you read all the words, thanks for letting me proudly share about my awesome dad.  If your dad is still here, hug him or call him, but do not let him go unappreciated on this day.  Dad’s are such important people!

Raw and Uncut…ex-boyfriends,triggers and hurts…..

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I wasn’t going to say anything.  I knew what was happening and I knew how I was trying to handle it was not going to work.  But, I let too much “noise” get in my head and tell me that nobody wants to hear it. Or, that it’s been long enough that I should be over it.  Or, the worst one, the voice of my ex boyfriend, immediately following the events, who kept saying “you’re too obsessed about it – you just have to get over it”……….

So, as per usual, I filled myself with temporary distractions.  So many distractions actually, that I ran myself in the complete opposite direction, straight into pure exhaustion.  In doing that, I seemed to forget one little detail……exhaustion is one of the two biggest enemies of my chronic condition.  And thanks to all that madness, here I sit………my body in total rebellion and if I’m being ridiculously raw, my heart sutures, a little busted.

And the only way I know how to feel better, is to write.  You see, no matter what you personally think of my words (or of me, for that matter), I don’t write them for you (or maybe this time, I actually do).  I write them because out of all the things I don’t like about myself, and out of all ways I question what the heck I am wondering around this planet for, typing words is the only thing I’m sure of.  It’s the only thing that boosts me into dealing with whatever I need to (yes, even if it’s a funny dating story).  And more than that, it’s the only thing that I KNOW is meant for something bigger than me.  I know if it’s taking me to such an uncomfortable place to write/type them, then it’s also meant for someone else to read.  Even if it’s just one person.  I think it’s even more cool that my job is to write it and release it.  It’s not for me to know where it lands from there.  

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Sorry, I digress.  I came here to admit and face today.  Not to over explain myself. So, Hi, my name is Alicia and I’m hurting.  I’m also angry.  I want to be in a different place and I’m not and I know it won’t go away until I tell you about it.  Why the universe puts me in these positions to open myself up to so much, I’m not sure….but I’m definitely gonna address it when I get in front of the big guy :p!

Five years ago this last week, at around 4:30 in the morning, I sent an email to my core tribe of friends, telling them that I was in serious danger and needed help.  I asked them not to contact me until I could escape and make contact with them.  I admitted that I hadn’t been truthful with them about what was going on in my life.  I confessed that I was terrified of what would happen to me.  For a few seconds, I questioned whether I was being too dramatic in what I was saying.  I couldn’t use my phone, and I wasn’t even sure if any of them would check their email.  Then, he woke up.  And it all started again.  Nope, definitely wasn’t dramatic in my email.  To this day, I firmly believe that if he hadn’t have passed back out from being so drunk, that he would have followed through on his promise to kill me.  And that was the start of a living hell on earth.  

My deliverance from abuse was nothing short of carefully orchestrated moments and miracles.  Period.  It just was.  I wish I could tell you more.  But I can’t.  Even after five years, I am yet to be able to sit down and write it all out or tell the story in any translatable format.  For someone like me, that is so foreign.  I’m a story teller after all.  Yet, it never fails that people come across my path and the story (or the parts that are needed to) come up.  I share and exhale.  And then I swell with gratefulness.  I struggle with why I’m not supposed to share the “cool” parts of the story with the masses.  But, I have to trust that it’s to come where it’s supposed to.  

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Let me bring the point of this a little more together and wrangle it in.

  1.  It still hurts.  It hurts differently.  But, it still hurts.  I’m not sure that it will ever go away.  And that’s ok.  I’m not where I was.  And healing doesn’t always mean it all goes away.  Being tough doesn’t shield you from the sneakiness of the triggers.  Those little brats show up out of nowhere.  I’m more than thankful to be equipped with the right tools and right people to help me through them.  There is no shame in the admittance of the triggers, the asking for help or the sitting and simply feeling them.  
  2. I shouldn’t have ignored the triggers this last week.  I knew it was coming.  This anniversary and a few other dates ALWAYS trigger something.  Thankfully, it’s smaller triggers, like simple unsettled feelings and a general uncomfortable feeling.  I start sleeping less EVERY SINGLE YEAR during this time (the thief comes in the night, right?).  And I try to ignore it.  Because, according to others, I should be over it already.  And EVERY SINGLE YEAR, I end up here.  Completely drained.  Mark these words though, it will be the last year that the ignoring happens.  Next year, it’s a tropical vacation of poolside sitting and feeling it all.  Raw.
  3. The physical scars and abuse went away.  The mental mountain has been way harder to climb.  I’m SO PROUD of all the work I have done and the network I have had to get over “him”.  You know what lingers the most?  The first person I dated after.  The one I said “ok” to and opened myself up to.  The one who I knew before, the safe one, who pursued me.  The one that I gave ALL the trust I had left to.  The one I trusted with my completely shattered heart and damaged self.  Yeah, that one hurt the most.  Because he was the one who couldn’t deal with the Alicia that I was.  I know it’s not completely his fault.  I wasn’t in a place that I should’ve been dating at all.  And I said that multiple times.  But he still worked to gain my trust.  And I gave it to him.  And when I let myself love and be completely me, even the broken parts – he couldn’t handle it.  And in what I’m sure he thought was just tough love and brutal honesty, his words and actions (or serious lack there of) completely ruined me.  They were the “nail in the coffin”.  And what maybe would’ve been another year of work and healing to be past the abuse, has now lingered a very long five years.  And that’s all ok.  Because no matter what story he tells himself or others, or how happy he is in his own moving on, he served his purpose in my journey.  
  4. I’m still grateful.

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LISTEN TO ME RIGHT NOW…….

  1.  If you are in an abusive situation, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get out.  PLEASE ask for help.
  2. If you are dealing with anything traumatic – feel it.  No matter how big or small the situation seems, if it is impacting you – then it’s real. If you feel it, it’s real.  And you NEED to feel it.  I can remember SO MANY days of checking the clock and thinking “ok, I just made it through an hour.” and I would take a deep breath and try to make it through the next.  That is as literal and truthful as can be.  Hour by hour.  I couldn’t even make it through a day.  I had to take it hour by hour.  And it wasn’t until I acknowledged and owned that feeling, for that time, that I could even think about how to make it through a day.  

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3.  If you are a friend of someone in that situation or of someone who has escaped….WATCH YOUR WORDS.  Watch your judgement.  Period.  It’s not about you.  It’s not up to you to decide how they heal or how long it takes.  If you can’t play the role, then don’t.  That’s ok, too.  But you do not accept the role and get to dictate how the victim deals.  You just don’t.  I’m sorry.  I know it’s seems so easy to help and for them to see how they should just be ok.  They are out, they are safe, so they’re good?  Nope.  Not how it works.  And if you can’t step outside of yourself and choose to love unconditionally – then you DO NOT deserve the person in the first place.  You just don’t.  Because your judgement and impatience is doing more damage than being thrown up against a wall will EVER DO.  

4.  If you come into a person’s life long after the event, consider yourself a sacred part of their life.  You probably won’t understand, why five years later, on a Monday night, they are texting asking for random prayer.  You might not understand why they seemed fine a few days ago and then all of the sudden just seem cranky, and puffy, and tired and stupid sensitive.  Just hold on for a minute and love them anyway.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do is let people like me and know what the past few years have held for me.  And at the same time, the easiest thing for me to do is to cut you right on out if you screw with what little trust and heart I have left.

5.  Let me make this clear one more time.  You DO NOT get to tell someone that how you made them feel isn’t valid.  You just don’t.  You don’t have to agree with how they feel.  You can think whatever you want.  But, if you truly love them or are truly their friend, you HAVE to acknowledge that their feeling is just as valid as yours.  Read this again: YOU DO NOT GET TO DECIDE HOW SOMEONE FEELS OR HEALS.  

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I already feel better, even in the midst of busted sutures, that unfortunately have left me more vulnerable than I care for……. and even in the midst of a lot of things piling on (of my own doing, for trying to be tough and hide feelings) and a to do list still a mile long.  Writing with all those feelings seeping out of me is the best therapy (accompanied by a great playlist).  You can think that is dramatic if you want to.  Maybe it is.  Maybe I just feel that hard.  And maybe I’m done apologizing for that.  I will never fully heal if I don’t shut those other voices of doubt and judgement out.  To be honest, it’s probably those things that have kept me from healing, way more than the abuse memories have.  

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And in it’s own twisted way, and with all those rambling words above, it’s actually beautiful how something so awful keeps coming up at all.  Because each time it does, as painful as it is, I can’t deny how much I have learned. I mean it when I say that it truly is a beautiful story. It seems like it keeps coming up so that I don’t forget that I have climbed a damn big mountain 🙂  These pics were from my first beach trip, ever in my life, which happened to come not long after my escape (one of those cool parts I reference).  Just digging those out again and including them here makes me reflect on how surrounded I was.  The things that happened were amazing.  

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I am stronger.  I KNOW that I have shared it with those that needed to hear it for whatever reason.  I am wiser.  I am more intentional.  I am protected from ever going through that again.  I found out that as much as my core and heart can be shattered, that it can also be rebuilt (sometimes even better than before).  

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Released and now I can rest.  I look forward to a good night’s sleep.  Thanks for reading.

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Freeing Fridays: Walking in the Rain

I think I may be the only person who was genuinely excited about the storms today.  I finally got to wear my new, glittered rain boots, so rain didn’t bother me at all!  I never got to do much in the rain as a kid.  If we had rain boots, I don’t really remember them, but I can bet that my mom was not having us messing in mud puddles.  I had no idea what I was missing!  It was the most fun I have had in the last couple (of very challenging ) weeks! I would love to share some encouragement with you on this rainy day.  Because you can make fun of the cheesy revelations all you want, but I have no shame in fighting through this crazy world with rainy day revelations!

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Anyway!  See my video rambles today while I willingly stood out in the rain (and had a fantastic dance party to HARD LOVE by Needtobreathe).  I was actually so in love with my little break that I didn’t even take time to remember to care what I looked like or what angle things were being done at……..and that might be the most freeing thing of it all!

 

And check out these great rain boots!

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