I have always known that I should be sure to take care of myself.  Make sure I include doses of things I really enjoy, things I need, and time to relax.  As time goes by, it seems that taking care of ourselves slowly works it’s way to the bottom of the to do list.  Excuses begin to fill our bucket of why we don’t take care of ourselves.  It usually takes something major in our lives to dump that bucket out, completely empty it, and cause us to refill or re-prioritize the items on our to do list.

I, like I am sure most of us, have fallen into the routine of the days.  Soon the days turn into weeks, then months, then years and we begin to wonder where the time went.  I have never been able to really sit still for an extended period of time.  In fact, when I had down time I would try to fill it and when faced with sitting around doing pretty much nothing, I would find something after only a short while.  I would try to stay busy.

My bucket dump came when we lost Samantha and my world got turned upside down.  In the months to follow I was forced to slow down and listen.  Listen to my body, listen to those around me, just plain listen.  However, it didn’t take long for me to get swept back up in the routines of the day.  The end of Summer lead me to begin to realign my life.  I had lost my passion in my job, so I knew I needed a change.  It took me almost a month to figure out what direction to go in.  The decision to give up my classroom was a tough one, but lightened load of responsibility along with the flexibility began to give me what I needed.  Time.  The time to really take care of me, so that I could take care my relationship with Raun, and the time to really face in depth what we are going through.

This time has allowed me to be able to meet new people, continue to share my story, talk & build relationships with others who have traveled a similar path, to travel, and to spend time with family.  Most importantly I have been able to take care of myself.  And because of that, I can take care of those around me.

Lesson learned…take time for yourself, don’t forget to slow down, live by the moment, and regularly you need to re-prioritize.  So, what do you do to take care of yourself?  If you can’t answer this easily, then maybe it’s time to slow down, realign, and reflect.  What are you going to do to take of you?

 

Honestly this post comes with an inspiration from a sermon I heard.  What are the signs of light, love, and hope that you see?  This is fairly easy when things are good, but what about when things seem to be at their darkest.  How do you find light, love, and hope in the darkness?  The blessings in disguise so to speak.  Light, love, and hope are always around even at the deepest ruts, ravines, darkness, and despair.  They maybe be hard to see or find, but they are there somewhere.  They may be hidden or subtle, but they are there.

It is in these harder, darker, tougher times when we need light, love, and hope the most.  Even though they may be hard to find, we need to dig deep to find them.  Sometimes we may need help to do this and that’s okay.  The help can come from friends, family, church, group, or whatever works best for you.  There will be other times when we can slowly find them and our way on our own.  But even on our own, it is still good to have a little extra backup support every now and then.

Finding my light after Samantha had been tough.  I submersed myself in work, pushing down much of what I was thinking or feeling.  My blog writing was made up of my journal writings from early on-I just transferred them from paper to website.  The idea of new or current content was not something I thought about adding until many months later.  So my emotions, when they would finally surface, came out in tears on the drive to and from work.  By the time August of 2011 rolled around I began to realize what I was doing.

I knew changes had to be made and I needed to find others that I could meet up with face to face that could relate.  My light at that time was to give up my current position at work for something not as full time and flexibility.  It was time to take care of us and me.  At this time, I also began going to an infant/pregnancy loss group and talking about my thoughts.  I also began to write more.

My next ray of light showed up through an Illuminate group.  This became a close knit group of eight of us, who are still able to connect now even though the class is done.  This brought the light of photography back in to play and I remembered how much I enjoyed it, as well as realized that it been a missing link in my life for a little while.  So, I try to incorporate photography more often.

Photography, my groups, my writings, and support have given me the love that I have so needed, which has helped to make my light shine brighter.  With my light shining brighter, I am able to have a renewed sense of hope.  With this renewed sense of hope, I believe that I can move forward with more strength and courage.

So, I want to know…what brings you hope?  What makes your light shine a little brighter?  If you need to, lets dig deeper together to help a little light grow.  Because if that light can grow, so will hope.  What can you do today to help your light grow?

 

 

The draw of nature…more specifically in this case-water, the sounds, the calm.

Being near water and listening to the waves is one of my favorite moments.  it puts me in a mode where everything seems to slow down.  I am able to gather my thoughts, sort through things, meditate, and reflect.  After my times by water I walk away with a sense of peace, open mind, and a renewed energy.

Where is your place that brings you this?  Have you been there recently?  Or is your heart and mind calling you to go?  What would it take for you to go now?  How much benefit would it bring to you?

I ask these questions because after this past week I realized I had not gotten in touch with the outdoors in a while.  The reason?  too busy.  It’s more of an excuse, but with the weather being as nice as it has, it’s a pretty lousy excuse.  After an early day at work, I quickly went home changed, grabbed a few things, and headed down to the river.  It felt good to sit in the sun, watch the waterfowl, listen to the water, and write.

This past Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day!  80 degrees!  I must say this is highly unusual for Minnesota during the month of March.  A year ago we were still buried in many feet of snow at this point.  Raun and I took the opportunity to hang out down by the river for several hours.

I was able to get so writing done and some photography done.  While both were fun, the photography opportunity was amazing.  I would sit down by the water, listen to waves, and wait.  I waited for the ducks and geese to get ever so close so I could catch a photo.  Waiting still, waiting for the sun to peak out made the adventure more fun.

The draw of nature is what brings me satisfaction.  I need to be around, submersed, near it throughout the days.  If I go too long, I notice big time.  The call and desire burn like a flame.  It stays manageable if I have my priorities straight, but when they are off balance that flame is more like a fire.  It is one of my happy places.

What is your happy places?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  Have you checked in there recently?

 

But I am grieving, how can I be happy?  Is it possible to do both?  If I am happy, does that mean that I hurt any less?

Have you had these questions cross your mind throughout your grief journey?  I sure have.  When I was first on this roller coaster ride called grief I would wonder how could I ever be happy again.  Once those little rays began to push through…the smile here, the laugh there I began to wonder does this mean that I am  hurting any less or that I am done grieving or am I taking something away from Samantha.

The short answer to this is..yes, it is okay to be happy, to smile, to laugh.  You need to let yourself be happy, it is okay.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving and it won’t take away from the memory of your little one.  Your little one will forever be apart of you whether it is a good day or a bad day, whether you are smiling or crying.  Learning how to be happy once again is a part of the journey.

This combination of laughing while feeling like I was about to cry, being happy while being sad was…well it was kind of weird.  It is amazing what we feel and how quickly it can change.  I remember many years ago after my grandmother’s funeral we had just finished up dinner with all the family at the family bar.  We had so many tears in the morning and so many laughs that night.  When we left dinner my brother and I got into a snowball fight that later had my dad joining in.  Yes, we said good bye to a family member but there was a burst of happiness that made it’s way through that day.

As you go through the days little burst of happiness will begin to come through.  Find the things that can make you feel happy-a hobby, a book, a cup of coffee.  Whatever it may you need to let yourself be happy too.  Those around you who truly support you will understand and recognize that it is okay to have the grief and the happiness.

After loosing Samantha my comfort was a cup of coffee.  Now, when I say coffee I mean one of those fru fru coffees.  It didn’t matter how terrible the day was, getting my hands on that cup brought a small sense of peace.  All be it a brief moment at first, but it was something.  As time went by and the weather turned to Spring my happiness was found in photography.  Then through writing and photography.  Seeing a dragonfly ever now and then was the best source of happiness.  It meant Samantha was closer by.  My healing and happiness has come through taking pictures and writing about my journey.

Some day, down the road you too will find the things that can make you happy again.  It is there just waiting to push through.  When you are ready, let yourself be happy.  It’s okay.

 

I have always believed that those who leave Earth go to heaven.  Family, friends, and pets all have a spot in heaven when their time comes.  I have come face to face with loss over my 30 years of life.  I have lost three of my 4 grandparents, my baby girl, and several pets.  I have learned that things change when you loose someone close to you.  I have also learned that grief is different depending on who you loose.  For my grandparents I was in a state of shock for part of the time, attended the funeral, felt sad, and continued on with life.  When I lost pets I was sad, but moved forward rather quickly.  I was comforted to know that they were in heaven now, a safe place.

When we lost Samantha the grief was totally different.  A year later I still grieve.  It has taken on many different shapes and form, but it is always a part of me.  There was a part of me that knew she was in good hands, she was in heaven.  However, it was hard for to accept that she was there.  Unlike like my grandparents’ lives or even my pets, her life was much shorter.  Even though her life was shorter, she deeply touched me in ways that only the loss of a child can do.  At the cemetery there is a special place for all the children who are buried, it made me wonder if there is a special place for all the little one’s gone way to soon to heaven.

I was given the following poem by a good friend of mine.  She has helped me a great deal through all of this.  She lost her little one many years ago and one of the helpful things she said to me right away was “Benjamin is up there helping Samantha.  She will be in good hands.”  The  poem “Heaven’s Nursery” has helped to create a visual perspective on what it is like for Samantha up in heaven.

Heaven’s Nursery

Author: Unknown
In Heaven there must surely be
A special place,a nursery
Where ‘little spirits’ not fully grown
Go to live in their Heavenly home.The angels must attend with love
Tiny spirits on wings of doves,
The choir of angels must sing lullabies
Maybe quiet their tiny cries.

The Father must come by each day
To cuddle and play in a special way
These tiny spirits left earth too soon
Little ones called Home from the womb.

These sparks of life did not perish
But came to the Father’s love to cherish,
To grow and be taught in his own arms
Safely away from all earthly harm.

The comforter was sent to earth at once
To the parents who lost their little one
Their hearts so ache,their arms feel empty
The question ‘why’ seems so tempting.

Then all at once in the midst of tears
There comes a peace that stills the fears
The parents share the Father’s own need
To hold their tiny spirit being.

They relinquish their own desperate hold
And release their baby to the Father’s fold,
Then comes an angel to whisper the truth
Of a nursery in Heaven bearing rich fruit.

Of tiny spirits chosen to worship the Father
A place that couldn’t be filled by another,
Called to be spared from the struggles of earth,
Chosen to be one of Heaven’s births.

So Father,whisper words of love from me
To our unborn ‘life’ in your nursery

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