places

My Love Affair with Chicago

Since I am having such a bad day, I thought I would focus on something I really love. And that is the Chicago, Illinois.  Since Jon and I have been together, he has taken me to Chicago every year. Some years for and whole week, sometimes for just and day or two. But each time we go I find it harder and harder to come home to Cincy. 

My biggest love in Chicago is lake Michigan. When we turn onto Lakeshore Drive, my heart is so full of happiness!! The lake is so big and did so blue, it is absolutely gorgeous. Watching the boats out there, and the waves rolling into the beaches and the smell of the water and sand. It is the only place in this entire world I am completely content. I could Sandia there and watch the water all day. Feel the cold water on my feet with the warmness of the sand. My favorite sound is the sound of the waves hitting the beach. 

Along the drive on Lakeshore Drive, is the museum campus and the Shedd Aquarium. These are some of the cooleSt places I have been. The Shedd aquarium has a neat setup; when you walk in there is a big round fish tank and the different fish of the world are around it, like spokes on and bike. And then when you go downstairs there is and dolphin show (I love dolphins!!!!!!!) And beluga whales. It is by far my favorite of all the buildings on the museum campus. There is and so the history museum and the observatory there as well. The view of the lake from the observatory is phenominal. 

Going a little farther down Lakeshore Drive is Navy Pier. Sometimes it is really overwhelming for me, but I love the view and the ships. I have and hard time because there is and hodge podge of people and all the languages kinda get jumbled in my head. But it is a real pier surrounded by the lake and it has a putt putt course and a huge ferris wheel. The first time we rode the ferris wheel I was so scared. I’m not a big fan of heights, but the view was breathtaking.. I could see the lake for miles, and see the Chicago skyline, and all the lighthouses and boats. There are also a lot of fun little shops and restaraunts. We have found some cool knickknacks and they even have a Build A Bear Workshop to make you favorite Chicago cubs bear ( yes I really did this)…

Also along Lakeshore Drive is a long walking/bike path. I’m pretty sure it goes along the majority of the lake. There are bikes you can rent, beaches to swim at, and it is fun to walk or skate along. I could spend all day walking around the lake and taking in the smells of it and watching people. I feel so serene here. 

Lastly, there is Wrigley field. This is more of Jon’s happy place than mine, but I still like it just the same. I enj I y going to baseball games and I am good at keeping a scorecard. I used to really love the Cubs when it was Aramis ramirez, Carlos Zambrano  (even though he was a little crazy) and Geovanny Soto. Over the year life has kinda gotten in the way of the fun and time I used to have to devote to the Cubs. But Jon does that for both of us. Sit ting in the bleachers is and lot of fun, the people are pretty funny. The old fashioned scoreboard in the outfield is one of my favorite parts of Wrigley Field. I really like the look that the ivy on the outfield walls gives it. It is just a beautiful field and a lot of fun.

So if you have never been, I would highly recommend it. I have never been in the winter, but in the summer it is so stunning!!

happiness

My Ultimate Joys

Along with the cappy days, there are far more days that bring me joy. I try to find happiness in the little things. Things such as a full moon, my kids, music, and so many other things. I am human, and am allowed my bad days, but I still try to find more good than bad.

This weekend was a perfect example. It was a full moon, and to me, that is one of the most beautiful sights in nature. A great big white full moon against am black sky surrounded by the stars. To me it is a wonder and absolutely beatuiful. It may sound and little cheesy, but to me it signifies that there is still beauty in the world even with amdll the ugliness we see and hear every day.

Along with the moon, my boys and  I saw a baby bunny while walking in our neighborhood. I mean, it was no bigger than maybe a golf ball. The boys wanted ro take it home and keep it (and so did I a little) but I told them he needed to stay with his family. But it was so adorable that it made my day a little happier to see it. 

Rainow are another symbol of hope for me. There was are bad storm on Friday and it knocked out power for a lot of people and did some damage. But at the end of it was a stunning rainbow and you could see the whole arch. All the colors acre so vivid and bring home the fact that there is usually something good that comes out of something bad.

Lastly, being with my family brings me the most joy of all. Seeing my kids grow and become little men, and experience new things makes me feel so awesome. We went to the Newport Aquarium this weekend and saw the stingrays and the boys got to touch them. It was a new experience for them, and to watch their faces when touching them was hilarious. Tyler said it felt gross and like they had no skin. Jordan thought it was pretty cool. Watching the boys be overprotective with the baby bunny and try to take care of it warmed my heart. Because for all the bad in the world and the shit that they have been through, they still have good hearts and are caring people.

So these things will always give me hope that there is always good in the world, and things to give us hope.

mental health

My Depths of Hell

So today is my daughter Aryssa’s birthday. She would have been 12 years old today. And it still hurts just as much as ever. 

This day makes me sad, and angry. All these years later, I still have a lot of anger. And I don’t have anyone to direct it at. Most days the anger is hidden behind a thin veil, but on 2 days a year, her birthday and the anniversary of her death, that anger and sadness renders me useless. 

And it really makes me angry when people tell me it gets easier, or that things happen for a reason. Well first, it never gets any easier. Each year I miss the milestones she would have reached. Her first words, her first steps, her first day of school, her first best friend, starting junior high, I have missed them all. I have missed playing with Barbies and My Little Ponies and dolls. Missed dressing her in pretty dresses and pink shoes and bows in her hair. Each year is a different set of accomplishments she would have had that I have had to miss. So to thise, who I really believe anyllmndre trying to help, it does not get any easier. You learn to function around the pain and hurt, but it’s no easier. 

And this did not happen for a reason. I am agnostic, so I don’t really have am belief system, so this phrase really upsets me. What was the purpose of my daughter dying? Why can drug addicts and abusers have kids and those poor kids have to suffer..but my daughter had to die. And no, I do not wish anyone dead, but it just seems so unfair sometimes. There is no purpose or reason for any child to die.  It’s not to make me stronger, and it “wasn’t her time” and she didn’t “go to be with God”. So why, why my baby?

So today, I sit here almost useless. I’m not sure how I make it through work every uear, the day is just a blur. My poor boys have deal with pizza rolls for dinner because I just can’t even make a meal. They have to deal with the sadness and the fact that I don’t want to be around anyone. 

Tomorrow will be a new day. The anger will be mostly hidden and the sadness will still be there, but I will pick up the pieces and go on. These questions will still be on my mind, but only here and there. And in 4 months and 1 week, on the anniversary of her death, I will enter the same depths of hell again…

top ten list

What Gets Me Through The Day

Some days if it weren’t for Spotify or Pandora, it would be a real struggle to get through the day. So here is a list of my top 10 favorite songs that help me male it through the day…

10. How Did You Love by Shinedown: when their new album came out, I wasn’t too crazy about it. But this song has about ways stuck with me. To me it is a song of hope and reaches out to say “what you do matters, how you treat people matters.”

9. Forgot About Dre by Dr. Dre and Eminem: This is my guilty pleasure. I have always enjoyed the beats of Eminem and this song takes me back to when I was a teenager, making my parents mad by playing it as loud as I could. Just hearing the beats in this song instantly lifts my mood.

8. What Lies Beneath by Breaking Benjamin: Not one of their more popular songs, but I really enjoy this song. It’s really not even upbeat or positive, it seems quite depressing actually. “As I lay underneath your cold jaded eyes” is one of my favorite lines. It just sparks emotions in me, and I enjoy the song.

7. Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold: One of my favorite songs by them. Before their more recent albums, I would have said it was my favorite. The guitar riffs are superb and make me dance when I hear them. Listening to Synyster Gates play the guitar is one of my favorite things. 

6. Your Betrayal by Bullet for my Valentine: This is my angry/ super happy song.. a little weird I know. When I am in am terrible mood, I turn this up as loud as I can and let the bass and guitar riffs just lift the bad mood out of this. So I also love listening to it when I am in amsmdndn great mood because it has such fun riffs.

5.Fall Away by Twenty One Pilots: Again, not one of this bands most popular songs, but it makes me happy to listen to it. If I and anxious, it helps calm me down a little. It is a slower song and the emotions just strike how I’m feeling sometimes. “But believe me I’m fine/but I’m lying/I’m so very far from fine” I know what its like to have to keep pretending you are fine when in reality you aren’t.

4. To Love You More by Celine Dion: One of my all time favorite non-rock songs. I absolutely love the violin part in this song and I have always enjoyed listening to Celine Dion’s voice. This is one of my top go to songs for when I am feeling emotional.

3. Tears Don’t Fall by Bullet for my Valentine: Listening to BFMV just generally tends to make me happy, and this song does not dissapoint. As in the other song by them , I use this when feeling angry/ happy. I generally listen to them together, but this song just strikes a deeper chord with me than the other song.

2. Stardust by Gemini Syndrome: When I hear the first few notes of this song, it makes me want to just get up and dance. I and so think the lyrics are  pretty awesome. I tend to get them stuck in my head quite a bit. “It’s no mistake you are perfect, you are perfect in my mind, and you won’t fade away.” This line always makes me think of Jon.

1. Hail to the King by Avenged Sevenfold: When I hear the first few drum beats of this song, it makes my mood lift instantly. It is such a great rock song, and I absolutely love the guitar and drum parts. I have seen this live and it is and it is a great way to get the crowd going. Just makes my day sometimes listening to this 🙂

Uncategorized

Freedom

Today I am overly grateful for those who defend our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do. It is because of those brave individuals I was able to enjoy a day off work and spend the day going to the Zoo and waterpark. 

It bothers me when people say “Happy” 4th of July. It’s not really a “happy” holiday. We have this because of all the people who gave their lives for our independence. And no, I actually do not have anyone in my family in the military or have lost anyone.. but to me that just doesn’t seem right.

So thank you to all of those wonderful and brave people who helped us gain our independence and allowing me to have one of the best days I have had in actually long time with my family. I know that you all don’t get the thanks that you deserve, so I just want you to know that I appreciate everything you have done/do for our country. 

top ten list

Top 10 things that make me happy when life happens…..

10) Coloring: I love coloring, especially in all of the coloring books that have come out lately with the “coloring book craze.” I am by no means the best color-er in the world, but I find it very relaxing. It helps take my mind off all of the stressful things that are going on, even if it only for a short period of time.

9)Being at a baseball game and keeping score: There is just something so fun to me about keeping score at a baseball game. Generally I keep score for the Chicago Cubs games we go to, but it is fun for me. It helps me pay attention to the game, and it is a good bonding experience for me and Jon (my fiancee). He is always there to answer my questions, no matter how silly, and we have a great time.

8) Being outside and feeling the sun hit my skin: It is completely free and one of the most simple things, but feeling the warm sun on my skin gives me a feeling of contentment. It helps me realize I am still alive and have something to be grateful for. I like that in the summer my skin goes from a pale white to a light brown color and brings out my freckles even more.

7) Watching Tyler perform in band and Jordan play sports:  Watching the kids practice and eventually perform is so gratifying for me. Seeing all the hard work they put into either the sport they play, or the performance for band and then to watch it all come together is amazing. To see the transformation from the beginning of the season to the end, and their growth as a player make me one happy momma.

6) When waves hit the beach (in any body of water):  Whether we are in Chicago at Lake Michigan, or here at home in Ohio at the Ohio River, hearing the waves come to the shore is my absolute favorite sound in the world. It gives me such a sense of peace. I could honestly sit there and listen to that sound for hours. It also helps me forget about my stress for a short amount of time.

5) Going to a concert:  Going to a music concert is also one of my favorite past times. I have seen bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Skillet, Papa Roach, Twenty One Pilots, and In This Moment. When I am there I can just feel my body pulse with the music and the beats flow through me. I love seeing the energy the bands put into their music and feeling the energy of the crowds.

4) Seeing animals in nature: When we go to the park by our house and see the baby ducks in spring/summer is high on my list! We also have 3 baby deer by our house this year. Watching these animals interact with each other, and watching how the mamma’s take care of them and protect them warms my heart. It just helps me realize how small I am in this big world.

3) My work and knowing I help people:  I am a Pharmacy Technician, and even though most people think that all we do is count pills, there is so much more to it than that. We help out Pharmacists help our patients stay healthy and be compliant with their medications. As someone on a few medicines, I can tell you when I take my meds the way I am supposed to, I feel so much better. And I work for a company that gives us a little freedom in pricing and so we can make a difference to our patients that way as well. I feel good about my job when I go home every day, and I look forward to going in and seeing the people I work with.

2)  My dogs:  I have 5 dogs at home, and they are all rescues. They are all loud and rambunctious and are so happy to see me when I get home at the end of the day. No matter how bad of a day I am having, knowing my dogs are there and will be excited to see me when I get home helps make it a little easier. And of course, I do have a favorite, because he is the only dog that is “my” dog. All the other’s belong to my mom or the kids. His name is Buster, and he is a big shepherd/lab mix and he can read my moods almost as well as Jon can. he is my big cuddle bug and I love him almost as much as the kids.

1) Spending time with the kids and Jon: Being with my family is the biggest thing that makes me happy. I am unconditionally loved by Jon and I have never felt like that before in my life. We have been together for 11 years, and every day I find another reason to fall even more in love with him. And the kids mean the world to me. I love being their mom. Watching them grow from the little boys they were, to the teenagers they are now, and to the men they will become is something that brings me immense joy. And getting to share in things such as taking them to the zoo or aquarium, helping with homework, watching their personalities grow, watching Tyler perform in marching band, watching Jordan play football or basketball, and even just cooking them breakfast are all things that make my life worth living.

mental health

Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is PTSD? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health issue that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Examples of these are combat, war, sexual assault, death of a loved one, car accidents, or natural disasters. There are many symptoms of PTSD that are categorized into 3 main groups. Re-experiencing symptoms include things like flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts. Avoidance symptoms include feeling emotionally numb, staying away from places or events that are reminders of the event, or losing interest in activities that were enjoyable before the incident. Lastly, Hyper-arousal symptoms include being easily startled, feeling on edge or tense, having difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts. Other signs of having PTSD is depression and anxiety, and can cause a multitude of problems. Marriage problems, increased risk of suicide, and sleeping problems are some of the biggest.

Why is this an important subject to me you ask? On November 14th, 2005 around 6 AM I woke up to my now ex-husband screaming to come quick, our 4 month old daughter Aryssa wasn’t breathing. Immediately I called 911 and the ambulance was there within minutes. I couldn’t think straight, I lost all knowledge of the CPR I had been trained in for most of my life…my baby girl was laying there lifeless. Within 2 minutes we were in the back of the ambulance and they were giving her so much epinephrine, and doing all they could could to get her to breath and find a pulse. We made it to Children’s hospital, where the nurses and doctors who took over were fantastic. They kept giving her epinephrine and chest compressions  to no avail. Finally, the nurse and the social worker came over and asked me the hardest question no parent should ever have to answer. “Would you like us to keep trying, or would you like us to stop the life saving efforts?” There had been no pule and no breathing for about 20 minutes, so I asked, if she goes on monitors, will she ever wake up? And they did not know the answer to that question and they didn’t know if she woke up if she would have brain functions. So I asked them to stop…The hardest decision I have ever made in my entire life.

After that all I remember is that they let me hold my baby for hours in a private grieving room. I couldn’t bring myself to let her go. I sat there in the rocking chair just crying and crying, willing her to wake up so we could all just go home and pretend this never happened. But that never happened, and eventually the nurse came and took my baby girl away.

So what happened in the night to make her stop breathing?? My ex husband fell asleep with her in his lap in a reclining chair and she suffocated between his leg and the arm of the chair. But if you read the official report, it says SIDS. But that issue is a post for another time. That day  was just the beginning of a very long and hard road I am still battling with now 12 years later.

For the first few years after, I just went through my life like a zombie. I survived because I have 2 boys who needed me. When Aryssa died, I had just turned 22. Still a baby myself in so many ways. Needless to say, I divorced my husband. So I was on my own with 2 boys, and all of my emotional baggage. I had to push my feelings back for the longest time because we were poor, and I was working my butt off just to get by. To make sure my boys had what they needed and a roof over their head. I put myself through school and became a pharmacy technician.

So about 5 years ago, after I graduated and and found a steady job is when all my feelings and emotions and all that pent up anger and hate started to really surface. I have always had the nightmares and issues sleeping since then. I am afraid of what could happen to my boys in the middle of the night. I am “that mom” that is super over protective and always had to know where my kids were, who they are with, and so on. I worry too much, and I am usually visibly tense. Most days, I don’t want to do anything. All I want to do is sleep, and not get out of bed. I don’t have friends really. I have acquaintances and  the parents of my kids friends, but I really don’t have any super close friends with that I go out and do things with. I honestly don’t feel the need or want to connect with other people. I am afraid of the hurt and sometimes it feels like too much effort… how sad is that? I get angry, very quickly.. ask my kids, they will tell you. Sometimes I scream at the most asinine things, and lose my temper for no reason at all sometimes.

For the longest time, I thought most of this was normal, or half the time I didn’t realize what I was feeling. So when my life got to an almost comfortable point, it all came rushing out. And it was taking a serious toll on my health. I was smoking more than a pack a day, I was seriously drinking for a while, and I just didn’t care about much. So I found a doctor once I had insurance and could afford it. Right off the bat, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, severe depression, anxiety, was overweight, and diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). But I found a great doctor who has helped me quit smoking, so I am off the blood pressure meds, and I am slowly getting my weight and cholesterol under control. I am on 2 different anti depressants, and most days they help. It helps take the edge off the anger and  feelings of hopelessness.

I have also started seeing a therapist recently. I had tried in the past, but all they wanted to do was give me drugs, and not listen to all I had to say. So for the longest time, I was hesitant to try again. But I have found a good balance between my doctor and therapist. But it is not a cure all. According to my therapist, I have almost all the signs of PTSD and I am just not sure I want to bring that up to my doctor. I don’t want it to be another label on my medical chart. But at the same time, it may open some doors to help me get some things that may be beneficial for me.

Most days, it is a struggle to get out of bed and go to work. To make sure Tyler gets to band, and Jordan gets to football, or basketball, or to where he needs to be. I have a really hard time focusing on my work sometimes and if you were to talk to me sometimes, you would think I am clueless. I have such a hard time thinking of simple words, or putting thoughts and sentences together. So when that happens, I take a break, step away from my desk, and pull myself together. At the end of the day, I do a good job and the kids are happy (as happy as teenage boys can be anyways). But unfortunately, living with PTSD is something I will have to suffer with the rest of my life. There are 2 quotes I have though, that I think sum up my feelings.

“When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future.”–Anonymous

“A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But.. there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that’s how awful the loss is!–Neugeboren 1976

Uncategorized

Accepting Compliments

So the other day I am on a conference call with my boss, and her boss and another employee. And my boss gives me one,of the best compliments ever. She tells me I am a wonderful tech and I have learned a lot amd can help when needed. This made me feel really really good about myself…but also really embarrassed. 

I am not sure why it is so hard for me to take compliments, but I really struggle. And then I feel I make other people feel awkward because I dont know how to properly accept compliments. And I know it all stems from being in abusive relationships. So that is my goal this month… To work on being more accepting of compliments. 

I know I am a good worker and am efficient at getting things done. So I do feel great when other people notice. I have also been trying to do the same to others. Maybe if I give compliments as well as receive them, it will help me. I work with some super awesome people so that part isn’t hard. Hopefully watching them and seeing how others react will help me as well. 

Even if Jon compliments me, I have a hard time accepting his compliments. I get really embarrassed and my face gets all red. Which seems silly since we have been together so long. So any advice on how to take compliments from a loved one would be appreciated! 

So try to take the time to compliment someone today. You never know how much ot could positively impact their day! Even if they act all weird and shy like me.. It could be the highlight of that day! 🙂

Uncategorized

13 reasons why..or why not..

So both of my teenage sons and I have watched this show, and I have a lot of thoughts on it. I don’t agree that the schools should be telling parents that their kids should or should not watch it. And I think the show has some great points.

Being the parent of a child who attempted suicide, I think this show makes some great points. First of all, kids are assholes. There are some good kids, dont get me wrong, but most kids are assholes. They think they can treat people however they want, and can do what they want. I’m not perfect, I do not always catch when my kids act like that, but I do most of the time and there are serious repercussions if I catch them. It is not okay to treat other people like shit and talk about them. You have no idea what they are going through, be a decent human being for Gods sake. And we as parents need to teach our kids that. Pay attention to what they are doing, check their phones, talk to the teachers. 

My kids go to a school where there are counselors for each grade level and they have good resources. And still there are so many issues. I had to be all over the help for my son. I had to butt heads with the counselor a few times and push hard. 

I dont feel like this is glorifying suicide. I think it shows real problems that go on in real schools and happens to real kids. There is so much peer pressure, and drugs, and alcohol and favoritism that goes on, its a wonder half the kids survive high school. And I do know these things because I am very involved with my kids activities and I spend a great deal of time there. 

So seriously, we need to teach our kids to be better human beings. Not treat other kids like shit, no matter what. That its not okay to take advantage of girls, or boys, or make fun of other people. Be more aware of what your kids are doing. Check their phones. And no, I don’t believe there is any right to privacy until they are about 18. With all the social media drama there needs to be some vigilance. I don’t check everything on their phones, but I check facebook, Instagram and snapchat. If I see something I dont like I call them out on it. Maybe if there was a little more tough love, and not so much babying these kids, there would be a few less problems.

Uncategorized

Mother’s Day

So as mother’s day is approaching, I see all these posts about everyone making plans with their mom. But that is something I have a hard time doing. My mother was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis and has been in dialysis for years. But when she recieved that diagnosis, she pretty much gave up on life.

Now, my mother has never been the most loving or friendliest, or easy person to get along with. Quite frankly she is kind of hateful, and very hard to be around. But over the years I have tried to be patient and taken care of her. But this year, I am just completely out of patience. 

She has ended up in the hospital again, because she fell again, because she sits all day long and chain smokes. So her muscles are completely atrophied and she can’t walk because she gets out of breath. I am at the point in my life, where I can not continue to take care of someone who won’t take care of themselves.

So now my brother and I have to find a nursing facility for her to go to and can handle all of her needs. Which is a big undertaking. More so for my brother because she pretty much put him in charge of everything. 

So I guess my point of this is, if you have a mother who supports you and loves you, don’t take them for granted. Take them to dinner, or buy them a small gift, or even just making something can make all the difference in the world. There are many people going through what we do and don’t get to enjoy the time with our mother anymore.