Grief Is A Funny Thing

grief, dealing with grief, bereavement, death

Grief is a funny thing. Over time it twists and turns inside you contorting into unimaginable shapes and sizes. Eventually, it evolves into a whole different kind of animal, but it never truly goes away. Once you’ve been touched by loss, grief is a part of you forever. Yes, it may recede into the recesses of your mind and heart allowing you the courtesy to continue living and to even be happy. But it lies in wait for the random trigger – a song playing on the radio, a scent wafting through the air or a photograph sitting on your nightstand – that will reawaken those feelings of love and loss. However, if you’re lucky, eventually feelings of gratitude and joy will accompany those of grief.

About three years ago, I lost one of my best friends. For over four years, our lives and hearts had intertwined in a messy combination of friendship, love and harsh reality. We walked hand in hand through the fires of hell, which in our case meant constant visits to the hospital and failed attempts at managing the pain he endured daily. At just twenty years old, I was faced with making life and death decisions in the ICU, and tasked with the responsibility of caring for an injured soldier to whom I had given my heart. So after four years of playing nurse to my injured soldier and nursing my own depression, it was no surprise when our relationship ended. Even so, he continued to be one of my most loyal friends.

We had our differences from time to time, but he was the one I always wanted to talk to when I needed advice on life, love and pretty much everything. He pointed out which of my new love interests were worthy. He encouraged me when I was struggling through my final semester of college. And he taught me what it meant to be loved unconditionally and without expectation.

My friend was taken from this world so quickly and unexpectedly that I never had a chance to say goodbye. There were so many things I never got to share with him. And so many words left unspoken. His was not the first death to mark my life, nor would it be the last. But his was one of the most painful losses that I have endured.

For months, the grief came and went as unexpectedly as his death. It would wash over me in an instant flooding my eyes with tears and my heart with longing. Every time I looked at my fur babies, whom we had once shared, I saw his face. My heart was broken.

Poor Troy did all he could to make things easier on me. He held me when I cried, comforted me when I needed it and listened. But, ultimately, grief is a road you walk alone. Others may try to walk beside you and support you, but you have to make your own journey through grief. You wake each morning to the fresh realization of your loss and just try to get through the day. Until one day, you actually smile and laugh. One day your mind isn’t muddled with constant thoughts of them. And one day you’re even able to look back with a sense of gratitude for having had them in your life. You will always miss them. You will always remember them. But, you learn to cherish life and try to create one that they would be proud of.

Have you lost someone close to you? How did you deal with your grief? 

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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Mexico

Thanks to Thomson Flights for helping to bring you this post. 

Mexico travel, Vacation in Mexico

As the air grows colder, we all get nostalgic for sundresses and flip flops, making it the perfect time to plan a trip to Mexico. With near perfect weather year-round, diverse attractions and unmistakable beauty, Mexico is the perfect location for a winter getaway. Not convinced yet? Here are 5 reasons you should pack your bags and head to Mexico:

Affordability

Looking for a luxurious vacation worthy of a celebrity? Or perhaps you want a Tequila-fueled adventure that won’t empty your bank account. Mexico is your destination. As one of the most affordable vacation spots in the world, Mexico offers personalized vacations that everybody can afford. Whether you want to lounge by the pool at a 5 star resort or trek through the jungles of Mexico, your bank account will not feel the effects. Though, your body might feel the effects of all that Tequila.

Mayan Palace, mayan civilization,  Mayan ruins,

History

What Mexico lacks in wealth, it makes up for in history. Evidence of the country’s rich history blankets the land in well-preserved pyramids and ancient cities that attract visitors from all over the world. History buffs can step through time to the days when the Mayan and Aztecs ruled the land. If history isn’t necessarily your thing, you can still wonder at the beauty and intricacy of sites like Chichen Itza, Tulum and Palenque (pictured above).

Ballet Folklorico, Mexican Dancers, Mariachi

Culture

As rich in culture as it is history, Mexico is home to world-famous artists, strolling mariachis and brightly colored buildings that mirror the vibrant culture. By day, you can shop for handmade crafts at the artists’ colony of San Miguel de Allende or explore the art museums filled with masterpieces by artists like Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera. By night, you can toss back a few shots of liquid courage, also known as Tequila, and learn how to dance Norteño at the local nightclubs. Don’t worry. The locals are always willing to show you a few moves.

Cabo Mexico, Mexican beaches

Beaches

The incomparable beauty of Mexico’s beaches attracts travelers from all over the world. Choose from the relaxing, sandy beaches along the Riviera Maya, where you can spend your days sunbathing, snorkeling and surfing in the warml waters. Or, head to the west coast for a stay atop the rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean for a chance to enjoy deep sea fishing and scuba diving.

Tacos al pastor, Tacos, Mexican

Food

Mexican cuisine is appreciated world-wide as many attempt to recreate popular dishes. But, none are able to truly capture the essence and variety of this delicious cuisine. The inland cities boast a variety of mole dishes, a sauce made with toasted chilies and chocolate, while the coast is known for its unbelievably fresh seafood. However, not all of Mexico’s delicious meals can be found in a restaurant. Much of its mouthwatering delicacies can be bought from local street vendors offering cheap meals infused with flavor. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a glass of Mexico’s finest wines from the Baja Valley or a glass of Tequila from the state of Jalisco, the Tequila capital of the world.

Whether you’re looking for a little adventure, romance or fun in the sun, Mexico has a little something for everybody. So pack your swimsuit and head for the border!

What are some of your favorite winter getaways?

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All That Jazz: Doreen Ketchens

clarinet, jazz, New Orleans Jazz

Heading into New Orleans, Troy and I had 3 big goals – eat lots of delicious food, walk around the French Quarter and listen to Doreen Ketchens in person. Hailed as ‘Queen Clarinet’ and “The female Louis Armstrong,” Doreen does things with her clarinet that I didn’t even know were possible!  I mean, New Orleans is known for it’s amazing jazz music, but I guarantee that you haven’t heard anything quite like Doreen’s music before.

Doreen and her band have traveled the world, played for 4 US Presidents and still continue to play in the French Quarter for free almost every weekend. Their main mission is to educate the world about the culture and tradition of New Orleans music. Of course, donations are always welcome or you can pick up a CD to listen to on your way home.

Our first attempt at finding Doreen and her band in the French Quarter was a complete bust. It wasn’t until we completely gave up that we just randomly happened upon her on Royal Street. Our timing was perfect! The band was just preparing for the show, which gave us time to get front row (sidewalk) seats and buy a couple of CDs for Troy’s partner at work. Then we settled in for an awesome show complete with dancing courtesy of the drunk homeless man who loved the limelight. He tried to make friends with everybody! It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

Here is one of my favorite pieces:

What do you think of Doreen and her band? Did you know a clarinet could do that?! 

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Your Voice Matters

speak up, silence

There I was sitting at the hotel bar surrounded by my new found friends, whom I had only met a few days earlier. We had bonded over long work days in the heat and unplanned adventures around the city. This had earned me a few free drinks courtesy of my new pals in honor of my 29th birthday.

As I sat there silently among the sea of loud and proud people around me, the man at the corner of the bar who had been sipping on Jameson all night offered to buy the birthday girl and her friends some shots. Immediately, my friends all chimed in with their shot orders and suggestions, while I continued to sit in silence. Eventually, the man leaned in, looked me straight in the eyes and said in a thick Norwegian accent, “It’s YOUR choice. It’s YOUR birthday. Speak up. Don’t be shy. What do YOU want?”

That man bought me and 7 of my friends Lemon Drops. He even offered to share his Jameson with me to get my birthday off to a roaring start. Still, it was his advice that I will remember most.

“Don’t be shy. Be proud. Be proud of who you are.”

Mr. Jameson had a point. While my voice runs around freely inside my head, demanding to be heard and shouting out opinions and ideas at all hours of the day and night, it rarely has the opportunity to be heard by other people. And when I’m surrounded by outgoing men and women who are not afraid to make their voices heard, mine dwindles to a quiet whisper that gets lost among the noise. With my voice silenced, I merely fall away into the background, doomed to be an extra in film and real life. But while I may not be winning any Oscars, we all deserve to have a featured role in life, especially our own.

I’m grateful to Mr. Jameson for reminding me that sometimes it’s okay to speak up for what you want and need. You see, it’s those people that do who usually get it. The rest of us are left standing unnoticed in the background lamenting our lack of fortune.

So the next time you’re sitting in silence, remember, your voice matters. You matter.
.

We are not meant to fade into the background never to be noticed. We are meant to add to the discussion. To voice our opinions. To speak up for our passions. And to make our voice known. We don’t have to be loud. We just have to speak.

Do you have trouble making your voice heard? What do you speak up for? 

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Since I’ve Been Gone

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of November. The air is chilly, the fires are burning, and the holidays are just around the corner. Where did the year go? Hell, where did October go?

The past 3 weeks have been such a blur. There were many unexpected surprises, both good and bad, and plenty of busy days. Here are just a few of the things that I’ve done since I’ve been away from the blog:

I spent a week working in New Orleans as an extra in a feature film.

I celebrated my 29th birthday on Bourbon Street.

Birthday, New Orleans, Bourbon Street

I finally got to wear my Joker costume (that I made last year) on Halloween.

Bourbon Street, Halloween New Orleans

I came home from New Orleans with a bad cold, slept for a week, and got to use a few of these sick day activities.

I started a fundraiser to help Troy get the surgery that he desperately needed.

Troy FINALLY got his surgery and I’ve been helping him during his recovery process! There’ll be an update soon. :)

I learned how to chop wood. Next, I’ll be sporting some flannel and carrying around a roll of Brawny.

fire wood, ax

I stocked up on Mexican hot chocolate and snuggled by the fire (made possible by my new ax wielding skills) with Troy and the pups during our first cold night of winter.

fireplace, dog, rat terrier

It’s been a busy few weeks around here, but there have been so many awesome surprises. Thank you to everyone who has donated and/or helped during this time! You all are awesome!

Now, tell me. What have you been up to while I’ve been away? 

 

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