The Make It and Break Me Moments of 2012

In the spirit of new beginnings, I thought today, the first day of 2013, was a great day to write my first blog post of this year. Ironically, I’m a big believer in needing to look at the past to gain some perspective on the present and future, so I’d like to review 2012 a little and share some of the “make or break” moments from last year.

SOME BACKGROUND

When 2012 began:

Josh and I had just relocated, after an enormous amount of prayer, thought, research, soul-searching, prayer, exhausting other avenues, and prayer, to Columbia, Tennessee to open and run his second original concept restaurant.

We had been trying for a baby since July of 2011, after we suffered an early miscarriage.

My dad had been sick and unable to work for several months and his condition continued to decline rapidly.

Skye Blue began its 3rd year and I had just started working with clay as a brand new medium.

JANUARY

Making it moments:

I was excited for a fresh start in a new place. We determined once and for all we were going to get a handle on our finances and pay off debt we had accumulated mostly in 2008. (Whole different timeline review for another day.) We were nervous yet excited about the upcoming opening of Sano, it seemed like everything was falling into place for 2012 to finally be the year we clawed our way out of the hole that 2008 had created in our lives, but mostly in our emotions and psyche.

I was on a great track to getting fit and healthy. We had just gotten our juicer for Christmas and Josh and I both were excited about living and eating healthier. I had discovered my new home had an amazing park so getting exercise and keeping Faith busy was easy and soon became a daily lifestyle as our “temporary” apartment was very small with no yard and sat above an insurance agency that conducted normal business hours. I was anxious that my energetic 2-year-old was making disruptive noise above their heads, so this helped motivate me to get out every day, packing a healthy lunch and fresh juice.

Breaking me moments:

My dad’s health had declined drastically. In addition, since he was unable to work and my mom had always been a stay at home mom and still had 5 teen and preteen children that she home schooled as well as needing to care for my dad, they were dependent on Social Security Disability. The problem was payments would be delayed 6 months. So Josh and I, my 2 grown brothers, and mom’s church family rallied to help make up the needed funds to keep them going. (Helping is actually one of the making it moments, but the need to help is the breaking me part.) I began making the 3+ hour drive to Kentucky quite often to help my mom care for my dad and to lend emotional and moral support. This strained our already tight finances, but I would not have had it any other way.

The stress of everything began to take its toll on me and I began to develop a very strange rash on my neck, subtle at first, but slowly getting worse, and while not itchy or painful, it looked awful and stressed me even more.

FEBRUARY

Making it moments:

When ever I was home (which was not much) I worked through my emotions in sculpture and the “Every Tree A Soul” line of sculptures was born.

I continued to get fit while living between 2 state lines, walking and juicing with mom when I was up there.

Sano opened its doors to the public and months of my husband’s hard work were realized as Columbia tasted his food for the first time.

Breaking me moments:

My dad was nearing the very end. Ironically, the one thing that had been his defining trait, his sharp and unique mind, was leaving him. He was not himself at this point, most of the time he could not even talk. When he did, he went on and on about his sons, which was good, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt that here I was daily, disrupting my entire life to be with him and mom at the worst moments, wading through their emotional crisis, financial mess, relational issues with their daughters still at home, and physically helping to care for him. My brothers weren’t able to, my older brother had a family to care for in North Carolina but was able to visit a few times in the last months, and my younger brother had a very demanding full-time job and worked a lot of hours, he came over whenever he could, every few days for several hours. At one point dad over heard a conversation between mom and I about my plans for that week to stay a little longer than I’d originally planned (he could not at this point put everything together, so he didn’t know it was because I didn’t have the gas money to go home that week, I barely wanted to burden mom with that knowledge at this point.) and he just started hollering at me to “Go home! I don’t want you here, I can’t take it any more!” Yes, he was a man losing his mind, yes he was sick – YES, it hurt like nothing else could at that point. He later apologized, of course I forgave him, but you don’t forget something like that. The boys he incessantly talked about and praised did not have to receive that from him. Thankfully.

My rash got worse and continued to spread from my neck and inner arms down to my wrists and chest and I still had no clue what it was.

MARCH

Breaking me moments:

On March 8, 2012, my dad passed away. I didn’t realize it, but the moment he did my world began to shake. It is hard to explain because you have to know my dad, but he literally believed he would be alive to see the world end and Jesus come in all His glory. He believed this so fervently he had based his entire life, lifestyle, and that of his family around it. I cannot begin to go into it here, but my entire childhood, teen years, and young adulthood before marriage and even a little after marriage was consumed with the world ending and preparing for that. Even after I gained a little perspective as an adult and began forming my own beliefs and lifestyle, my dad dying had a huge impact on me in that feelings of anger at the futility of it all began to surface almost immediately. At 61 years young, after a life full of health, physical activity, vitamin taking, preparing, living in poverty because of belief that at any second the economy was going to collapse and it was better to have lots of food and gear rather than possessions and savings, my dad died. Just like that, gone. It did not matter at that point how many of his beliefs were true, that the hardships I’d gone through as a young girl made me who I am, he was gone and all the crap I’d been through began to look very useless and I began to get very angry. (Word is still out on those feelings, check back later.) Even more, he’d left my mom, 5 sisters, and nothing but a very unstable social security system to take care of them. Obviously, whether it was my job or not, whether it was requested or not, whether or not my mom and sisters felt they needed my help, I was left with an overwhelming sense of duty as a burden to bear.

Making it moments:

I finally broke down and went to the doctor about my rash. He diagnosed it as an auto immune condition most likely brought on by severe stress. The best remedy was to reduce stress, which I did, and 2 days later (no kidding!) it was almost completely gone.

A few days after my doctor’s visit, I found out that we were pregnant. After 9 months of trying, we were finally pregnant.

APRIL

Making it moments:

Despite some routine kinks, Sano was doing fairly well. Everyone who ate there said the same thing, “The food is fantastic!”

Breaking me moments:

I began figuring out the new normal with my dad gone. I found the relationships with all my family changing at a rapid pace, a few for the better, but mostly on the darker side. I was prepared for losing my dad, I was not prepared for these other relationship changes.

MAY

Making it moments:

I chanced upon an auction being held on the Facebook page “United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss” and was able to include one of my tree sculptures. From that point, everything at Skye Blue changed. I found an amazing supportive group of moms who had lost babies too and I did not know how badly I needed them and still needed to grieve until I found them. I also found an amazing support of my art, a jump in Facebook page likes, admirers, and Etsy sales. Most of all, I found purpose. Skye Blue had been kind of floating in an abyss of creative and emotional outlet without any structure or channeling. Through my connection to UTPAIL and all the wonderful loss moms I suddenly had purpose and vision for my art in memory of my baby girl, Elizabeth Skye.

Breaking me moments:

My relationships with my mom and sisters continues to morph into something new. Much like the cocoon stage of a butterfly’s morph, it was ugly, confusing, and appeared rather lifeless, and yet I knew something beautiful would eventually come out of it, it’s just that the change was hitting me very hard.

JUNE

Making it moments:

I launched an ornament donation program that had been on my heart since Skye Blue’s beginning. I had been wanting to make and donate ornaments somehow, knowing how much the one I had been given in memory of Skye from a stranger had meant to me at a time when every one I knew had seemed to forget her, or was trying hard to. I just hadn’t known how to go about it, or who to donate them to, then again, because of a connection at UTPAIL, the final idea came to me and “In Memory Of” was launched and very quickly gained momentum.

Breaking me moments:

A trip to North Carolina with my mom and some of my sisters to visit my brother and his family and my grandmother who I had not seen for 6 years ended in the culmination of something I had felt coming since April. Anger had built. Anger at my dad, anger at the futility of my raising, anger that somehow so many roles were reversed between my mom and I, anger that he was suddenly a saint to her and that I hated him most of the time, anger at myself for not being able to get a handle on it all, anger that my world was upside down once again and could not be fixed. Just anger. No sadness, no grieving and crying, just more and more anger. I won’t go into details, but that trip ended with me realizing that I needed to distance myself, that I couldn’t save anyone from any hardship, and nobody had asked for me to anyway. At that point, I realized I was stretched far too thin and it was my own fault, I was putting it all on myself. As wrong as it sounded, it was time to take care of myself and focus on me. It was something I had never really been able to do, even as a child I was constantly worrying about everyone else, their reactions, anticipating their needs automatically – it was time to let go.

JULY

Making it moments:

It was a month of relative calm, before the second part of the year hit, which turned out to be as hard if not harder than the first part. I enjoyed lots of little moments with Josh and Faith, my pregnancy was going well and the morning sickness was over. I was able to get outside still, be active. I was beginning to accept the new normal of the relationship changes with my mom and sisters and I began to really focus on my relationship with my husband. Mostly I was taking care of myself, not putting too much on myself emotionally, and staying creative artistically which was very therapeutic.

Breaking me moments:

A few very early indicators began surfacing concerning the restaurant, things that vaguely reminded me of 2008, little de ja vu moments that left me feeling uneasy.

AUGUST

Breaking me moments:

This is where 2012 got tough. Not only were we not getting ahead financially as I had envisioned, but we suddenly found ourselves falling behind. I won’t go into details, but basically we found our paychecks cut in half through the months of August and September, and when you are already living on a tight budget, that isn’t a good thing. Sano, as well as it was doing, wasn’t doing quite well enough to support itself due to many factors that were not under Josh’s control, his business partner made most of the final decisions and this was frustrating as he did not have prior restaurant experience, and Josh was left to look like the face of the restaurant yet had none of the power to make critical decisions that could truly help the business grow and succeed. All of this, in addition to being pregnant, as well as some other factors had me not only stressed about the current situation, but I also began to relive the trauma of 2008, an eventful year I had managed to successfully suppress into the corners of my memory and leave in vague obscurity. You see, for those of you who don’t know, 2008 was the year we moved to a new place, in a different state, away from family and friends to open our first restaurant. That endeavor ended horribly after problems with our business partner misrepresenting his ability to back us financially caused us to lose almost everything we owned and go into debt just to survive. We finally made it back to Kentucky with basically the clothes on our back, homeless, jobless, completely defeated, and I was 8 months pregnant. Then, 3 weeks later I gave birth to our first daughter, we spent her entire life in a NICU, and then at 17 days old she passed away, so we lost her too.

There are many differences between the experiences of 2008 and 2012, the main one being this time around we did lots and LOTS of praying and truly felt coming to Tennessee was the right thing to do (we still feel that way, 100%) but right about August all I could see were the similarities. I was in the throes of a desperate battle of the heart and mind and did not yet see that God was indeed giving me my year of redemption, He was just doing it differently than I had envisioned.

The making it moments:

In spite of being extremely short on money, somehow we made it. We didn’t tell anyone about how dire our situation really was, but somehow the money was there every time we really needed it to be. I would paint a picture of some of what I experienced, but I feel it would only conjure pity and not do its intended task of showing how God continued to provide for us, but He did. He provided items of enough worth to sell, sales in my Etsy shop, baby sitting opportunities, and sometimes a gift showing up in my mailbox just when we needed it most,  and while we did fall a little behind, it was not nearly the financial catastrophe of 2008.

SEPTEMBER

The making it moments:

I held my second annual Celebrating Skye Give Away on September 25th, my little girl’s birthday, and it was amazing to give so many gifts away in her honor, hand-made with love as part of her legacy, Skye Blue. Getting ready for that event kept me busy and focused on creating and had me really searching my soul. Sharing it with my community of loss families was healing all on its own.

The breaking me moments:

I continued to struggle with thoughts and feelings of anger, now against God for letting us make another poor choice (so it seemed) in spite of our fervent prayers and our careful research, trying not to make the same mistakes as in the past. I was having a hard time with my pregnancy. Since finding out I was pregnant with a boy, I not only felt out of my element, I was down right scared of the unknown, and I had irrational fears that I wouldn’t love him. I had trouble bonding with him as he was not very active like Faith had been and the uncertainty of our situation and constant reminders of 2008 made me wish several times that I had never gotten pregnant. All the feelings surrounding the loss of my dad and the memory of never seeming equal to his sons even though I was the one who most shared all his interests, that also played horrible tricks on my mind where my son was concerned. I was desperately afraid I would somehow let my baggage affect my love for my boy. (I know this all sounds absurd, but this was the battle I was fighting at the time.)

OCTOBER

The making it moments:

I participated in a project through the month of October called “Capture Your Grief”. Every day (or almost every day) I posted a picture and wrote a blog post. Each day in October had a topic and this simple project helped me do some deep cleaning in my soul and memory. I faced my memories head on, taking a new look at most of them. Instead of hiding from 2008 and its occurences, I faced it for perhaps the first time and let it all wash over me. I gained perspective, I found some things buried that were worth remembering, I worked through a lot of pain. I remembered how God had carried me and began to believe again that He could and would carry me through my current situation too.

I began to bond with my unborn son and really feel the first sparks of love and excitement for him as an individual.

Our paychecks situation got straightened out.

The breaking me moments:

I was reminded again how different my relationships were, how different everything was. The one person who had been with me on every journey through trial and grief, my mom, was not able to come with me on this journey in the month of October. While I completely understood, I still felt pain at the loss of this connection, and even more so, I felt pain that she was on a grief journey I could not really come on with her. I felt very off kilter, like a sail boat that had drifted into a dead zone without wind and was at the mercy of strange currents.

NOVEMBER

The making it moments:

This month is where the tide began to turn. On an especially hard day I sat down and opened my Bible, randomly flipping to the book of Job. I read through parts of chapters through Job, the part where he loses it all, the part where his friends are trying to advise him, the part where he says his beef to God, the part where God answers him. Then I came to this part: And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 It was like a lightening bolt struck me, like I’d never read that verse before. Job FIRST prayed for his friends.

I began changing my prayers from asking God primarily to fix my situation. Instead, I began only thanking Him for the wonderful blessings in my life and I put all my asking energy into my friends and extended family, who ever came to mind at any moment in the day, whether a Facebook friend I hardly knew or a friend from my childhood, I prayed for them. My attitude began to change, things began to look brighter even though the actual circumstances were getting darker. I was peaceful and happier than I’d been all year.

The breaking me moments:

Josh’s business partners basically told him they were going to shut the restaurant down as it wasn’t making a profit. Once he started looking for a new job they changed their minds and decided to keep it open, change-up the concept a little, bring in a manager with minimal previous restaurant experience, and the final kick in the teeth after all the crazy hours he’d put in, the major crap he had gone through, the hoops he had jumped through for them against his own previous experience, the awkwardness of being the face of something he had no control over – the final kick in the teeth was where they changed the locks out in front of him his last day there and treated him as if at any moment he was going to empty the freezers or something. He had been there from day one, put blood, sweat, and tears into another restaurant he was having to walk away from, he had designed the menu, hand-picked and trained the team, put in 16 hour days 6 days a week, sometimes even Sundays. He had missed every prenatal appointment for that place, missed time with his family, lost sleep, forfeited paychecks to keep that place going. It was a hard moment to walk away, and it was hard for me to watch him have to do it.

DECEMBER

The making it moments:

December 2012 may have had some shaky moments, but they don’t even compare to the amazing blessings we received.

Josh started a new job that once it is open (they are moving from the old location to an even better location and should be open later this month) should bring in a substantial pay raise.

Our amazing church family blessed us in ways they don’t even know, and could not have known how big a blessing they would be. Some specific items were given to us, items I had been wanting, wishing, and praying for a long time. Yes, the items themselves were blessings, but the biggest blessing was seeing God answer my secret prayers so specifically.

The November auction at UTPAIL yielded a generous amount of money and since I was the partner organization that month, I was able to fund the shipment of more donated ornaments than I could make in time for Christmas and bless many families who had lost a baby or babies. My list continued to grow and I look forward to making many more donated ornaments in the future.

We had a fabulous Christmas, even though we had suffered such a hard year and had just lost his job at the end of November. God provided through the generosity of others and we had a really blessed time as a family.

AND, we welcomed our healthy baby boy on December 20th, 7 lbs. 15 oz., 20 1/2 inches and perfect in every way. I had an amazing natural, drug free birth, the kind I had always wanted, and the beautiful experience was shared with my hubby who had been able to rest the day of and was right there, holding my hand as our son came into the world, the son I absolutely adore with my whole heart.

My 3-year-old daughter FINALLY began to potty train, right at the end of the year and is still doing well with it!!

There are no breaking me moments for December.

LOOKING FORWARD

2012 WAS a year of redemption. It came by a very unexpected path, but I have somehow been set free from the failure of 2008, the devastation, to defeat, the loss, the fear. Because 2012 was similar in so many ways, it was like the test I needed to retake and I feel I passed it. We learned some amazing lessons this past year, we stuck it out in the hardest moments, we didn’t just quit, give up, let the fear and hardship push us into bad decisions. We matured as individuals and as a married couple. We grew closer. We grew stronger. I found a deeper love for my husband as I watched him grow by leaps and bounds this year. I found a deeper trust in my God as I watched him work miraculously in the midst of turmoil.

My hopes for 2013 are that I can maintain the trust and balance I have found in December, that no matter my circumstances I can find much to be thankful for. I hope that I can find someone to bless this year in the way that we were blessed when we needed it most. I hope that Skye Blue continues to grow, that others find healing in my artwork as I have, that Skye’s legacy stretches to the corners of the earth. I hope that we can finally get caught up and THIS is the year we start paying off debt, but that I remember that no matter what, God sees our situation and He knows. I hope I can forgive and find forgiveness because I need it given as much as I need to give it. I hope I can inspire people in spite of my flaws and because I am flawed. I hope to be the best wife and mommy I can be, to develop lots more patience and understanding and I pray God will take care of the mistakes I make and let my kids grow up happy and healthy.

Welcome, 2013!

 

A New Year…

 So, it has been a while since I blogged.

I’ve been busy working out in “the real world” for several months before and through Christmas. It was good, it gave us a little extra room in our budget to spend on the holiday and it taught me a lot about the current, evolved me. In short, I realized my priorities are far different from what they used to be, and my desires to be a mom and house keeper are a much better partner for my desires to be a better Christian than working in a restaurant as a server. I also realized how much I had enjoyed my reconnection with art and creativity because I couldn’t really find the time or drive to continue being creative when I was working.

So, with all these things figured out and the fact that my tips in Bowling Green are pitiful compared to the other places I have worked, Josh and I agreed that I would be better off taking care of my home, my baby, and working on building my home business. No more juggling the car and our schedules to make sure we both get to work on time and Faith is cared for! 🙂

Speaking of Faith…

Those of you who are Facebook friends know that she is growing way too fast for my liking. Walking, talking, potty training, full pony tails, and she’s only 17 months going on 5! I can hardly believe it. I knew they grew fast, but especially 2010 seemed to zoom by and now here we are in 2011. It’s enough to take my breath away.

Josh is doing well, his job with C-Worth as a restaurant equipment salesman/distributor is going well and it is fabulous to see him less stressed and with more time to spend with us. Now that I’m not working nights, we can resume treasured family moments like putting our Little Bit to bed together. She’s really good with bed time. When she’s tired (at 8:30 pm, like clock work) she announces that she wants to go night-night and starts to climb the stairs. I usually take her up first to brush her teeth and Daddy comes up a few minutes later, but she always gets half way up the stairs, looks back, and calls “Daddy! Dada!” until he answers that he’s coming. We brush teeth, then we go into her room to say good night to Winston, her sock monkey. (Yup, she’s still crazy about him, he’s her favorite stuffed animal.) Josh and I kiss him and hug him and say, “good night, Winston…” and then she grabs him and squeezes him and kisses him right on the red mouth. Lately she’ll hold him back a little ways, look him in the eye, and jabber something unrecognizable, then she’ll say, “night-night” and kiss him, then hand him to Daddy to put in her crib. It melts our hearts! Then she get’s kisses and hugs, tucked under the quilt Grammie made for her, and we say prayers. She always listens for Josh to say, “… in Jesus name…” and then she shouts “Amen!” It’s like she is racing to say it first. Then we put on her music in her cd player and she cuddles Winston and goes to sleep with out a whine or a whimper. Every time I dim her light and close the door all I can think is what a good baby she is and what on Earth will I have to endure down the road to make up for how good she has been up until now.

It’s moments like these that so many people take for granted. The little things, the sweet moments… they fade quickly and babies grow and before you know it, those moments are gone forever and you can never get them back. So we enjoy each one and I’m very happy that I don’t have to miss them while working a night shift anymore.

I have quite a few hopes and goals for 2011. I did not make any official resolutions, but I’m working every day to accomplish several things. Among them, the ever-present “eat better and get fit”, house keeping goals, artistic goals, paying off debt and becoming more self-sufficient. Ultimately, we want to get back to our roots, have a little fam, some garden, and we hope that the end of this year will find us in a house of our own on a little patch of land big enough to have a few animals and do a little hunting, but it may be next year. We just have to wait and see how much debt our tax return can eliminate.

I want to write a little more frequently than I have been, create something to post on Skye Blue at least once a week, and possibly open an online store on Etsy in the next few months. For once, I know exactly what I want to do with my life as far as job and income are concerned, and I’m determined to make it happen. Where there’s a will, there is a way, and I have a will to work from home building my own business. So, be prepared to see a lot of my work floating around the Facebook feeds! 😀 And if you don’t mind, tell your friends about me the next time they mention ideas for a unique gift. I’d really appreciate it!