Author Archives: staff

I Got A Janky Heart

This is a blog I wasn’t sure I was going to write or even how to be honest.

It’s a big share about my life. I wasn’t even going to share it,but over the course of the last few weeks I have had some pretty serious discussions with people I love in my life about what we share and what we don’t.

I’m just gonna do this and maybe it will all make sense. Or maybe it won’t.

I have a congenital heart defect.

I also was two months premature. I weighed in at 3 pounds 4 ounces.

I was born with a hole in my heart. By the time I was four I had two open heart surgeries.

I don’t remember much about it.

What do remember: comparing zippers, the smell of the stitches, falling off my bed, I can remember be wheeled into an operating room.

That’s it.

I have a gnarly bikini scar with accompanying friends all over my body.

A few years ago after ignoring its existence I got a chubby heart tattoo at the base of my scar.

Growing up I had a list of things I could and couldn’t do. I’m pretty sure my Mom told me certain things just to keep me from doing those said things.

The reality of my disease never and still doesn’t fully resonate with me until I’m around doctors or other survivors.

There have been some scary things around having children and at one point I was actually given a life expectancy.

By the way my daughter is eleven and I’m 47.

But as light as I’m making it there have been some things.

I’m always winded. My circulation is horrible. I can’t tell you how often I hear cold hands warm heart. Lol

I get colds so easily.

Living in the Midwest that’s a joy.

Also, lol.

There’s more but I’m sharing this because it doesn’t define me and it certainly hasn’t held me back.

I am the person if you tell me no I do it twice and take pictures.

So now you know this about me. Will it make you read what I write any differently?

It shouldn’t. Oh my gosh it better not.

We all bring private, public, personal battles to the table but they shouldn’t hold us back and they certainly shouldn’t define us. Other people should not let those things define how they treat you either.

This year I participated in the Heart Walk as a survivor. It was the first year I admitted it. And shame on me for not admitting it sooner. Because now I own it and I have found an amazing community.

My favorite member is a heart doctor who we will call Dr. W who teases me that my after care regime should not include Mt. Dew and Reese’s.

Sorry not sorry Dr. W, a girl has to have her vices.

Don’t be afraid of what you bring to the table no matter how big. I know it’s easy for me to say this, but take a deep breath look at how far you’ve come. You are more than the extras that are in your life.

You are sparkly and amazing and strong.

And as always I got you Momma.

❤️

Caprise

Be Better In The Middle Of Your Grief

What on earth? How many tears can one body produce? How many boxes of tissues must you go through? And what’s up with the mad… sad… content… tears… misery… anger… denial… tears… happy….. anxiety… pissed off… acceptance and back to sad again? Welcome to the “Stages of GRIEF”.

Can you hear yourself.… “Really? Can’t I just go back to sleep and then it will all go away? What about a therapist, won’t that cure the crabbiness? I know, I know…. chocolate. That always makes me feel better? Waaaaaah.

You have good days and bad days. And the triggers come out of nowhere and at the most obscure times let alone when you’re not expecting it. And the rollercoaster ride of Grrrrrief seems to be going and going and going. When will it stop?

And not for nothing but…..

You want your life back the way it was. You want the to-do’s back in order and the schedule back on track. You really want a do-over. Why is going through the Stages of Grief so hard? Well it JUST IS. Seriously. Nobody wants to be the one left behind, nobody plans to lose a loved one, and nobody knows what its like until they experience it. Nobody can judge the length of time it takes you, nobody can heal your heart and nobody can wipe the tears to stop. Just you. If you trust God, like I do, turn to Him in your sadness and ask for healing. Do what you have to do and press on with joy in the sadness.

Maybe just maybe, when you’re on the other side of this, you can be a smile in someone else’s grief, share a hug, speak a kind word, offer a nice gesture. Do something to ease their pain because you remember how hard it was for you. But for now…..be a better you in the middle of your grief.

 

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

Growing Through Hard Times

Everyone it seems is going through some sort of hard times right now, the government shut down, or just the universe being out of wack, it seems everyone is going through something. A lot of people are showing their worst side in reaction to their personal struggle. I was drawn in to is as well. I had to take a step back from everything going on around me. Hard times are meant to make you grow. Especially if you’ve been stagnant in an area of your life for a while. If we get negative, woe is me or lash out we lose our lesson.

Difficult times and situations are a way god or the universe puts a proverbial boot up your tuchus.

Its your wake up call and most of us need a few before we snap to attention. We cant change other people or what happens around us, so the thing we need to change is in us.

It helps me during these times to organize everything I’m doing to appointments to work to even structured time with the kiddos. I also do a gratitude list, and manifestation list to put things in perspective and to attract the things I need. This opens up my focus and attention to see what I really need to look at and work on. Then step by step I get to where I need to be.

Always be unapologetically true to yourself,

Ali

One Year Later

What’s the most important thing you’ve done this year? For me…it’s that I survived. One year ago today I sat in the garage, put the keys in my ignition, turned it on, and sat there screaming in sheer pain. Calling out for her, but she never came. I sat and pounded the steering wheel, grasping at my chest because it hurt so bad. The physical pain…it was just too much for me to take, and I wanted it to go away. This was my only answer. But as I sat there, uncontrollably crying, something made me turn off the ignition and open the garage door. It wasn’t that I wanted to live, but whatever it was, it was stronger than me or the pain.

For me that night…I was desperately trying to end the pain and conquer my problems. I could not bare to live my life without her. It was simply unadulterated desperation.

Depression. It’s living in a body that fights to survive, with a mind that wants to die. The suicide attempt(s) have become a trauma that I have had to learn to deal with. Some days it’s a battle, some days it’s ok. I suppose there should be no shame in fighting the war, because at least I’m here to fight it. I won’t say there haven’t been days when I haven’t revisited the thought again, but then I remember I promised myself never to allow someone to have that much power over me again. And at the end of the day I need to remember to celebrate the courageous person that stares back at me in the mirror and all that she has overcome. Because in the end…long story short…she survived!

Keep surviving!

Virtual Hugs,

BLag

The Grip Of Addiction

My thoughts and feelings on addiction have always been about my Dad, this time it’s someone else, someone I haven’t seen in many, many years, but have much love, care,  and concern for I am worried, for her, her family, her friends. I know what the grips of addiction on a loved one feels like but no two people’s addiction is the same.

Young

Beautiful

Energetic

Intelligent

Worthy

Happy

Ambitious

Those are all words I would use to describe her, her potential and who she is and should be…

Aged beyond her years.

Hardened

Desperate

Manipulative

Denial

Scared

Angry

Sad

Death

I imagine those are words that some would use to describe her now…

Addiction is a strange thing…deep in the moments with my Dad’s addiction I would know he was all these negative things to people on the “outside”.. he was those things to me. Yet, I would get so defensive of anyone whispering about him, making fun of him, judging him.

Addiction plays games with EVERY ONE. I have been told it’s a disease, a much larger issue for the addict, then those who are affected by and are around the addict. For those of us on the outside looking in on our family member, friend, our loved one. ..we see and hold on to who this person was BEFORE. The potential this person has if they would just quit, if they could see it for themselves.

There is a lot of debate, discussion and studies on whether addiction is a disease or whether it is not.  There are days I will agree that it is a disease….some days  I get frustrated with the why’s and how it can even be compared to a lethal illness that someone didn’t choose to get. Addiction is a lethal disease that started with a choice?….a choice. That’s hard for me to get past.

I have made the personal decision after knowing that I have done all that I can, to discontinue a relationship with my Dad. Doesn’t mean it makes every day any easier-I still wonder, worry, am saddened, angry, defeated, disappointed, exhausted, confused. So many emotions.

My Dad’s best friend for many, many years, starting with their childhood, passed away a few weeks back. My brother and I talked back and forth as to who was going to tell Dad-not something we want to tell him under normal circumstances and certainly not something either of us want to tell him under these circumstances.

My brother told him.

I received a voice mail from Dad that night, he thought he was leaving a message for his drug dealer, careless on his part-seems like a “rookie” mistake-which also tells me he is in deep again. I wonder how bad one has to be to confuse his daughter’s phone number with his dealer’s phone number.  That hurts..A LOT!  I still have the message. I have held on to it these past few weeks feeling like I need to, for a “in my defense” when someone wants to judge me for not speaking to him. Ridiculous, huh? Having to explain why I don’t want to be around a junkie, who lies, steals, takes advantage, is erratic and so on.

I know that this is not a choice everyone will make or even want to make. Addiction is not a cookie cutter situation from person to person and family to family.  The one thing that is constant and that I am for sure of is that addiction is evil. And hard, ever so hard. There are so many casualties of addiction. No one wins besides the addiction.

Much Love,

Kim

Mean Girls 101

Mean girls sadly are nothing new and I feel like they are digging their claws in at younger and younger ages.

The other morning I am getting ready for work and I look at my bathroom mirror and notice a message:

“You are awesome

You are strong

Be you

Don’t let them get to you, be strong”

I winced and finished getting ready for work. I share a bathroom with my 11 year old daughter. I certainly didn’t write that on the bathroom mirror. Truth be told I can barely reach that high.

I made a mental note to talk to her about it.

G has been dealing with them for a few years now, but now that she is in middle school it seems much more hurtful. There’s intent to harm. I wish I didn’t understand but I have been dealing with mean girls since forever.

I could give you the examples but then I’m just continuing to give them power. At the end of the day that’s what this is ALWAYS about when someone hurts you.

Power.

On our weekly drive back from her Dad’s I asked my daughter what was going on.

There is a girl in her class who just simply doesn’t like her. She’s pretty sure all paths lead to a boy she likes. Geez, doesn’t it ALWAYS?! Not really, but man…

She said this girl always makes sassy comments towards her and in front of others and essentially bosses her around.

I asked her what she does in turn. Nothing she tells me. I just keep quiet or do it.

What I tell you all next may cause some of you to scold me.

I said “don’t do that.”

“What”

“Don’t do that G. What do you want to do?”

“I want to scream at her and call her names. Can I swear?”

“No and definitely don’t do any of that. She wins. She wants to be in charge.”

“Then what do I Mom?”

“This stuff she’s telling you not to do, are the teachers ok with what you’re doing?”

“Yes”

“Well, f#*# her then.”

“Mom!”

“The next time she says anything. Calmly look at her and say the teacher is fine with what I’m doing why aren’t you? Can you do that?”

“Yes.”

 

Flash forward to this morning and I notice on G’s wrist a heart with the words: live, laugh, love, be you.

“Baby, is that girl still being mean to you?”

“No.”

“G?”

“She gave me a hard time in class yesterday…”

“And?”

“And I asked her “didn’t she have a project to work on instead of bothering me.”

“How’d that feel?”

“Good.”

“So why the ink?”

“So when she’s picking on me I can remember…”

I know it’s hard for G to share. She hates worrying anyone. I made sure to remind her she doesn’t have to talk to me but it’s incredibly important she talk to someone. I told her I understand. I am dealing with mean girls even now. It feels not great and as easy as it is to get angry that is their fuel.

I didn’t tell her what I’m about to share with you. When I was younger I just let it hurt me. I took it. I lamented. I became small. I assumed it had to be me. Something about me triggered this response.

I had a fantastic mentor share with me when I was dealing with a particularly vicious workplace mean girl that they are that way to EVERYONE.

I’m not special. However, in that moment it feels so awful you don’t think that way.

So I took a step back. I watched said mean girl in meetings. Paid attention to how she wrote her emails.

Yup. It was her. I was not SPECIAL. Lol.

And to be honest that to this day makes me feel an incredible sense of pity for her. What in your world is so bad to make you lash out like that?

As I replay all my mean girl run ins that is the tape I try use as background music.

I’m not saying I’m over it.

I’m saying it doesn’t stil sting a bit.

What I am saying is I’ve taken the power back. Or at least I try to.

I still want to bubble wrap G and it pisses me off that she’s dealing with this.

But… here’s the thing, I love her to pieces and am going to remind her every minute how fantastic she is. I hope she can use that as her force field or at least as a mini reminder when claws come out.

 

Before I forget- you’re all pretty freakin fantastic  Mommas

<3 Caprise

Give To Yourself

Give to yourself, your best friend should love you!

Okay, full disclosure here: I have an unhealthy attachment and find an insane amount of joy in random memes. A teen in my life tells me this is a sure sign that I’m a middle-aged mom. So be it. It delights me to surf the web for trite inspirational quotes, sarcastic jokes and other random silliness. Yesterday I came across one that sparked an entire conversation in my head. This meme, a quote from Harvey Specter (main character in the show Suits), read as follows:

“Ever loved someone so much you would do anything for them? Yeah, well, make that someone yourself and do whatever the hell you want.”

Yeah. That. That’s it – the key to happiness in one little meme.

Seriously. Think about it. How many days do you spend all day at work and all-night doing things for other people? If you’re a parent, that’s pretty much your life. Someone asked me recently what I do for me – to take care of myself. My answer, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, was, “I sleep a few hours a night, I get calories of some sort in my body each day and I drink coffee.” Eek. Hard stop, people. If your answer to that question is anything like mine, it’s time to heed Harvey Spector’s memewords!

Think back to the last time you did something for yourself. Maybe it was a day at the spa or a decadent bubble bath. Or cramming the last piece of cake in your mouth when the kids weren’t looking. (What? Am I the only one?) How did you feel after that? Don’t say guilty. Think about your joy receptors – did you feel good? C’mon – some part of you was happy in that moment. And I bet you were a little nicer to your family or a little more compassionate toward your coworkers afterwards. If your self-indulgence was on a grand enough scale, it might have even spilled over into other things – made you more productive for a little while or gave you the pep in your step to go the extra mile with a project.

It’s like this: If you take care of you, you’re better at life and better for those around you. All too often we forget this little factoid.

Whenever I’m facing a tough decision, I have a friend who will ask me, “What would your best friend tell you to do?”. The underlying message being, my best friend wants me to be happy and wants what’s best for me. As a working mom, I’m usually too busy thinking about my son or my work to think about me. So I have to trick myself into doing it. Wrap your brain around that. I have to role play to figure out what will make me happy. (I’ll pause while you laugh.) But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can use this. That’s why I’m writing today.

Love yourself enough to make yourself happy. Be your own best friend. Block out time on your schedule to spend time with that friend doing what they want to do. I promise – the rest of it – your family, work, whatever – it will follow. And it will be better for having a happier you involved in it.

 

~Cassandra

You Have a Friend In Me

As I rapidly approach my 50th year I am watching my circle of close friends shrink and my circle of acquaintances grow.

I think there’s a couple things at play here. First and foremost the internet good, bad, or otherwise has made it possible for you to “connect” with people you’ve never met.

It also I think makes you feel like the effort that comes with a friendship doesn’t necessarily have to be nurtured. I checked on you on Facebook… we’re good..

Are we?

Before I get too into this, know I am not a friendship nurturer. I’m horrible at it. I suck. SUCK. It’s not that I don’t love and adore my friends I do. I really do. I have some fantastic people in my life…but…

I work in a job where I have to be “on” all day, I have an eleven year old, a side gig… I am the person who needs to recharge. Me declining an invite doesn’t mean I don’t care, I just might need to shut my head off. Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better at telling my friends this. Also, my time with my daughter comes first. Lastly and probably the things that have held me back … being with a group of friends and being completely decimated by a mutual friend. Over a decision that was pretty personal to me at the time. Or having another friend in the heat of my divorce tell me to get over it. Being made to feel like my problems were small by another. This may seem petty but when you’re in it with people you trust you make a decision. Maybe the wrong one. You start keeping yourself so busy you’re not a burden. You don’t share. You hide.

Lucky for me, my current small circle doesn’t give me that pass and will call me out or even on occasion just show up on my doorstep telling me to get dressed we’re going out.

Over the course of the few days they’ve needed me and as the resident insomniac of the group I’m usually up. I also don’t shut my phone off. I know.

I guess where I am going with all of this is you need people, and that is ok. One of my circle remarked friends shouldn’t make you cry unless you’re laughing.

Another has told me I need to live.

A third likes to send me pictures of a certain actor I like.

One gives great Mom advice. I have one who makes me laugh like crazy.

One who always calls me. One who always texts me. One who always teases me. One who loves makeup as much as I do.

Find your circle. Friends really are the family you choose and I’m incredibly disappointed in myself I let the actions of others miss out on some precious time with the circle above.

I am not making that mistake anymore. So I steal moments. One of my closest friends I’ve known since I was 13. It sounds dorky but I call her every morning. My soul sister who has the same birthday as me I make sure to send a message to,just so she knows I’m thinking of her even though I know she’s crazy busy.

Having her message me back “dang I miss you made me cry.”

I send stupid memes to my radio boos.

Lastly and this is a biggie from this guarded girl I told my best friend that he is my best friend.

Because he is.

So how about this… as always, I will be here for you but let’s make sure we let our circle know on the regular what they mean to us.

I’ll start…

I got you Mamas and I appreciate you so much.

<3 Caprise

NOTW-Not Of This World

“Not of this world”…I’ve known these four words for a long time.  Thought it.  Read it.  Lived it.  Every day, still, I work on reminding myself that I am Not Of this World.  Being the God-girl that I am, you’d think I wouldn’t have to remind myself… but I do.  I am IN the world but not OF it.  This World we live in….it’s a powerful place.  God’s power is ever present and much, much more powerful… BUT if my eyes are not on Him and my eyes are here, looking around me, comparing, challenging, competing.  I’m sucked in.  I’m doomed.  There is power and money and fame and popularity and attention and affection EVERYWYERE.  I can have those things, but at what cost?

In my younger years when I thought the World was the place to find all of these things, I charged forward, I had it all figured out, all lined up.  I was successful.  I climbed the corporate ladder-stepping on who was in my way, I dated the handsomest of men-spitting them out if they didn’t please me, I hung out with beautiful girlfriends-controlling where we went and what we did.  I judged, I ruled, I competed, I was soooo popular.  BUT I was sad and lonely and alone.  I created my life to satisfy me and yet….oh and I was satisfied – or so I thought….but the satisfaction never lasted so there I was again…going at it.  The cost?  My soul.  I did whatever I had to do to be liked and accepted and important. And I was empty.

Now my life is of substance.  I have friendships and money and things.  BUT it’s all from God and for God.  Money, blessings, miracles, love…all of it.  HIS.  I am here to be a steward.  I am a beacon of His love and light.  I am here to shout it from the rooftops that I am Not Of This World.  I am of His World.  You’ll know it by my words, my actions, my compassion AND by my tattoo.

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

Use The Power Of Forgiveness

The Webster’s definition of forgiveness is to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; to stop being angry with; to pardon; to give up all claim to punish.  My working definition of forgive for this chapter is to simply let go.

There are so many people out in the world that are holding onto so much yucky stuff—bad childhoods, terrible marriages/divorces, abuse of some sort, anger from some past wrong done to them, bad business deals, insults, injuries, etc.  Every person holding onto something like this feels very strongly about it and should you try to pry it away from them they get very angry.  It is their stuff and they want to keep it right where it is, what they fail to realize is that harboring those yucky feelings is sucking the life right out of them.

I have been actively working with forgiveness for several years now as I was holding onto some resentful feelings from the past.  Over the last few years as I continued to move forward in my life it became apparent to me that there was something in the way of my progress.  After some soul searching I discovered that I was still holding onto resentments and bad feelings toward people from my past.  In my speaking I had forgiven them but in my heart I was still willing them to be different and therefore had not truly let go.  I started doing some active work on forgiving these people and as a result a 25 year old impossible relationship was miraculously changed.  This turn of events was something I never conceived as possible.  The power of forgiveness is truly awe inspiring.

When we forgive (let go of) someone or something  it doesn’t mean that we are consenting to or forgetting what has transpired, it simply means that we are willing to get rid of the dead energy that the situation or relationship has placed on our lives.  Holding onto animosity over someone or something doesn’t really teach the other person anything it merely interferes with our own ability to manifest good in our lives.  Harboring resentments and wishing ill on other people actually stops our own flow of good and can make us sick.   People often hold grudges to “teach” the other person a lesson or to try and hurt the other person as they have been hurt.  This kind of thinking only ends up hurting us,  as we are the ones that actively carry around the bad energy which can cause us to be depressed, overeat, lose sleep or have anxiety.

The Choice Is Yours

In order to forgive someone we had to first decide to take offense from their words or actions.  Whenever they did what they did we had a choice to take offense or to let the incident blow over.  The choice in that moment was ours.  Most people go along in life doing the best that they possibly can for who they are in the moment and often we get angry because their best is not our idea of what the best should be.  We think that we would act very differently if we were them, however, we are not them and we don’t really know how it feels to be them.  It is very easy to be offended by others when we fail to consider what aspects of their lives effect their actions.  It is easier to think about forgiving someone when we begin to really think about what their lives are like and what circumstances may be influencing their actions.   Perhaps they don’t even mean to hurt us, perhaps they are just going along doing the best that they can and they don’t even recognize that their actions or words are hurtful.

How we react to something is always our choice.  We can choose to be contributed to, insulted or offended.  We can choose to take another’s actions personally or we can choose to just let things flow over us.  If your best friend doesn’t call you back you can choose to be angry and offended and make it mean something about your friendship or you can choose to decide that maybe they are just so self-involved that calling you hasn’t even crossed their mind.  You decide, the choice is yours.  The first choice puts a wedge in your friendship and the second allows you to let it go and go on with your life.

Watch Your Frame of Reference

You are not the same person that you were 5 years ago and neither is anyone else you know.  Perhaps you are still relating to some people in your life based on how they were in the past.  Your frame of reference for certain people could be based on what you knew of them 5, 10 or 15 years ago.  This means that when they show up acting differently, you miss it because your frame of reference for them is ingrained in past perceptions.  When we hold things against people they tend to remain forever trapped in our minds the way that they were when the hurt occurred.  It may be easier to forgive them if we starting looking at whom they have become instead of who they were way back when.  This happens a lot with family members, we tend to view them only as we knew them back in the day, who they are now doesn’t even show up for us.  We all have things in our pasts that we would do differently, imagine how we would feel if someone only judged us from the way we acted at 20.

It is always a good policy to investigate your frame of reference for the people in your life; perhaps some of them deserve a fresh perspective.

Nobody Wins the Blame Game

Blaming other people for circumstances in your life is never helpful nor will it take you any place you want to go.  Nobody can win at the blame game.  The only way to win in life is to take responsibility for your own destiny.  Stop blaming the past and the people in it for what doesn’t work in your life.  Start having some new thoughts about the people and situations you need to forgive (let go of).  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the hurtful behavior is excused or forgotten; it simply means that you stop allowing those incidents to control your life.  Forgiveness can take place after you have experienced the necessary emotions associated with the incident.  Once the initial anger, sadness, outrage, disappointment, etc. has been processed there is a space for forgiveness.  You may need to express your feelings in a constructive way before you can allow the process of forgiveness (letting go) to take place.  It is healthy to experience your emotions; it is not healthy to continue to carry around bad feelings for months and years.  Process the events and then let them go.

Look For the Lesson

I am a firm believer in the statement ‘everything happens for a reason’ and I look at every uncomfortable situation in my life and try to see what it wants to teach me.  Sometimes I see the lesson right away and sometimes I just have to trust that it’s there and that I will see it eventually.  I have learned some of my most valuable lessons from the people and situations that have distressed me the most.  When you are open to the possibility of being contributed to by every event in your life the unpleasant events seem to go by faster.

I have also learned that one of the best ways to diffuse an attack is to apologize for something right in the middle of it.  For instance, “I’m sorry that you feel I’ve insulted you”, or “I’m sorry that you think I hurt you on purpose”.  People attack you because they want attention or they are unhappy with themselves.  If someone attacks you in conversation and you do not respond or you apologize this will diffuse the situation.  A person can only fight with you if you let them.  You cannot argue with someone who refuses to be engaged by you.

I have been told that what we don’t like about other people represents something that we don’t like about ourselves.  If this is true the first action would be to forgive ourselves for all the things that we find unacceptable.  If we can forgive ourselves successfully then we can move ahead to start forgiving others.  Truly, truly everyone is going along doing the best that they can for who they are—maybe it’s time we stopped being so hard on ourselves and others.

~Noelle