My week 3 assignment for my Illuminate course consists of two mini assignments rolled into one.  First we were challenged with taking steps, 100 steps to be exact.  We had to walk 100 steps and take a photo using what was available around us at that moment as our focus.  Second, we had to focus our writing on gratefulness.  I went on two different walks where every 100th step I took a photo.  Each walk I went on I combined the collective photos into a video.  So, 100 steps & gratefulness.

When you think about it, 100 steps really isn’t that much.  But there are times when even one step seems like way too much, so to accomplish one hundred is just out of reach and unthinkable.  I’ve been there before.  My husband and I have been together for over 16 years, married for 5 +.  Yes, that makes us high school sweethearts, and then some. We’ve had ups and downs in that time, but  what relationship doesn’t, especially after being together for so many years.  However, we have never hit as low of a point as we did this year when we had to say goodbye to Samantha.  The simplest of tasks became the hardest.  Sometimes, even the difficult steps were just a blur because you walk around so numb.  You move through life, while life around you moves on.  If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.

I am grateful for my husband and the relationship we have.  It is a deep relationship, filled with:  love, communication, strength, encouragement, commitment, warmth, and arms to hold you.

Steps can lead you up, down, winding, straight, and even sometimes backwards.  Have I stumbled on my journey, yes I have.  But through it all, I have been learning from it all.  The steps of the path I am and taking currently, are steps I never thought I would take.  Who does?  For most…you grow up, get a job, get married, and decide to have a family.  No where in your thought and plan do you decide to become the parent of child who is in heaven.  Unfortunately, those are the cards I was dealt.  However, as unfortunate as it is, honestly I am able to remain very thankful and grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have.  I am grateful for the blessings I have received.  I am grateful for Samantha.  I may not have planed for this, but this is where I am.  I have learned a lot over the past year about life, probably more in that short of time then over the course of my life up to this point.  I have learned to slow down and take the moment in.  I have learned that not having a plan can be just as good as having a plan.  I am learning to do more of things I love to do instead of just thinking about doing them.

Steps can take you down familiar terrain or it can be like trying to cross a river where some steps are easy to make and some are sunken just below the water causing uneasyness.  When we take familiar steps, we easily fall into a rhythm and often a routine.  It isn’t until those steps take us out of comfort zone, sometimes way out of our comfort zone, that we begin to worry, are fearful, or begin to shut down.  There are times when going out of our comfort zone is good for us.  But it is easier to take it all in when it is our choice to move out of the comfort zone.  When we are tossed out of comfort zone by no choice of our own, that is when it sometimes gets tough.  It is important to have family and friends.

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Family is important to me and always has been.  However, now the importance of family is even more valuable than ever before.  Beyond my husband, my family has been another major support in my life.  I am grateful for the prayers, support, conversations, love, and everything else that come with being a family.

I am grateful for the few close friends I have.  Friends that will join me in having a cup of coffee and good converstation.  Friends who are there and supportive, and genuine.

Steps can be easy or they can be hard.  When you have the things you are most grateful in life for surrounding you, the hard steps become a little easier.  Those hard steps sometimes create the opportunity for us to forget the simple things in life, the things we are grateful for.  I encourage you to slow down and take a step.  If you can, take another and then another.  Break down the big things in life, into smaller steps.  Instead of taking 100 steps, try 50, or even 20.  And if that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.

 

 

 

February 17-
Today was a tough day. There is no other word to describe it. It was all around tough. This week’s theme at work is life cycles, so there is a lot about babies. Mostly songs and activities that talking about what it was like when you were a baby. Today it was singing rock a bye baby during our music time that did me in. Fortunately the teacher who was with me totally understood what was going on and took over for me. I wonder if the kids can tell what I am feeling by looking at me. During these times I try to avoid direct contact. Usually I find somewhere else in the room to be or some other activity to hopefully help me to ignore what is going on. After this, I decided to go easy on the day and take a nice long break. Which this means Dunn Brothers and some quiet time. Dunn Brothers has been my comfort food over the past week.

I am very nervous about tomorrow. I will be having a teacher in the room that doesn’t want to be there and won’t do anything in the room. I am not sure how I am going to make it through the day having to put forth double energy with no one to fall back on. Tomorrow is just going to be a rough day.

I have realized though, that there are just going to be some natural triggers over the next few months that will cause the tears to shed. Fortunately I have identified some of them, unfortunately it is the day to day ones that I didn’t realize that would just pop up seemingly out of now where and cause a rush of emotions. I am going to have to learn how to deal with these triggers that just show up throughout the day unannounced.

 

February 4- 

     In theory this should be a wonderful day.  It’s my birthday.  However under the circumstances, it’s not really on my radar.  It is my opening shift at work, so I fall into my “normal” morning routine.  I get into the door at work and back to my classroom.  All is okay until I turn the lights on and look up.  Then the tears start flowing.  While I was gone, Natalie had all my kids help create a large birthday banner (which mind you, is now folded and crammed in one of the keepsake boxes).

      As I stand there in silence, taking it all in, and opening my room, thankfully Sherry walked in.  She gave me a big hug and a card, and helped me open the rooms.  We didn’t say much, but that was okay.  A little while later Katie came in, gave me a big hug and said “happy birthday”.  She asked how I was doing and I said alright.  I know today is going to a little on the tough side. 

    The day went on “normal like”, with moments of sheer overwhelmingness.  But, I made it through.  Upon getting home I had a stack of cards to open.  This will be a day I will never forget.  Not everyone can that, for every birthday card they open on their birthday, they opened a sympathy card as well.   And so went the emotions like a giant teeter totter, up (joy, yeah!  Happy birthday), and then down (slamming hard into the ground… “I’, sorry for your loss).  While reading my email, I found out that my mom had been through a miscarriage.  I was a little frustrated at first that she didn’t say anything when they were up the weekend after it happened.  But later came to the realization that my mom was not only feeling my pain, she was feeling hers own as feelings arose and most likely didn’t know what to say or do.

    It had been such an unusual birthday I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but Raun said we should do something.  So we went out to eat at one of favorite places, The Cheeky Monkey.  With Raun’s gift I decided I was going to buy a memorial necklace, but he said he had a better place to look for one.  So I decided to peruse it later. 

   That night Raun’s mom Barb had driven up for the weekend and she stopped by.  We chatted and opened gifts until it was time to pick my dad, Steve, up from the airport.  He and my mom were down in St. Louise at a Wine Trade Show.  My dad wanted to fly up to be here for the memorial service on Saturday.  My mom was wishing she was able to be there, but someone had to man the booth.  So she sent her thoughts and prayers.  That night, we all stayed up chatting and eating birthday cake.  Then it was to bed and to brace for what tomorrow would bring.

 

February 3-

Today was my first day back to work.  I felt helpless going back knowing that I was leaving Raun home sick with the flu and a nonworking furnace being replaced on one of the coldest days this year.  In all honesty I wasn’t sure I was really ready for this.  Part of me said yes because I needed to get out of the house and try to continue on with the one thing I knew was normal.  I ended up being called to open which was helpful in knowing then that I would be the first out.  I walked into a quiet building, with a hello from the desk.  It was a slow start to the day, some staff stopped by my room to see how things were going and to welcome me back.  Sherry came in and gave me hug right away.  She also checked on me throughout the day.  As kids started arriving I received a lot of “good to see you back” “welcome back” “I’m sorry for your loss” “you and your family are in our prayers” “we’ve been thinking about you” “nothing like getting back into the routine to take your mind off things” “let me know if I can do anything for you”, as well as a few parents sharing their stories.  It was a long day of a few ups and a lot of downs.  Many calls down to get someone in my room so I could leave and go cry in the bathroom.  I was glad when Katie came into the room at nap and said that after nap I was shifting my couple extra kids next door and I could leave early.  I was happy that my co teachers were so understanding.  By the end of the day I was more than ready to go home.  On my way out Erin gave me an envelope of stuff from some of my parents.  And fortunately Sherry was walking out the door with me.  We chatted outside for a bit. Then I got into my car to leave.  I looked at the envelope of stuff and then drove home in tears all the way.  When I got home Raun was beginning to feel better and they were almost done with the heat.  The remainder of the evening I cleaned up some for tomorrow and then chilled for the night.  I know tomorrow will be a long day, and a tough one too.

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