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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Who Stole My Spandex? Meonpausal Mother Book Review!!!

Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!!!  It's out!!!
Who Stole My Spandex by Marcia Kester Doyle a.k.a. Menopausal Mother.

Several years back, while roaming the blog-o-sphere, I stumbled upon Marcia at Menopausal Mother's blog page totally by accident.  I still can't recall how I got there.  I was new to blogging and stumbled upon her page and was initially fascinated by the trailing hearts on her cursor. (It's the simple things that fascinate me.)

So I stayed and began reading her blogs and these few years later I've never left.  I instantly fell in love with how easily her writing made me laugh and sometimes cry.

When I found out Marcia was writing a book, I was super excited for her and for ME!  Ya know, being one of her bloggie BFF's  I'm totally on the inside track ;)  But Shhhh, I'm not sure she knows about the BFF thing.  :)

I am so super excited and honored to have been not only given the opportunity to read a pre-release of this book, but to be able to give a true, honest, from the heart review.

I was not at all disappointed!

If you are a mom.  If you are over 40 - you can relate to her writing.  If you have a pulse - she will crack you up!

Not only am I super proud and thrilled beyond words for her - this book is well worth the read!  It's funny.  It's heartwarming and it's a quick, easy read (which is super important if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to read like I do.)  It will make you laugh and it will make you love her even more.  It will make you want to pack your bags and vacation at the "Nut House" where there's so much love and humor and furry friends.  I'll be checking in for Margaritas in the garden (my drink of choice) hoping to wear the cat mask.  (Please Mr. Doyle???)

While you're waiting your turn to wear the cat mask... please go check out Marcia's book, available at Amazon by following this link:  Who Stole My Spandex?

You can thank me later for the suggestion.

Marcia, Congratulations!!!  I'm super proud of you and I'm honored to be your online bestie. Whoops, looks like the cat's out of the bag.  :)

xoxoxoxo

Thank you all for being here!!

~Jenn

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A wish for my brother the day BEFORE World Suicide Prevention Day

Today would have been my brother's 46th birthday.

I know this very specifically.  Not just because he was my brother, but because he was 2 years, 11 months and 13 days younger than me :)

It was our joke - I wasn't 3 years older.  No, no, nooooo....
2 years, 11 months and 13 days
Get it right!  :)

My favorite picture of me  & my bro - Back in the day :)
Yeah, I know... he looks thrilled :)
Now he's immortally 38 years, 11 months & 13 day's old, and that matters.  (I just picked up on that numeric irony.)

It matters, because I've kept on aging.

It matters, because I'm still here and he's not.

It matters, because his birthday - today, September 9th, is the day BEFORE World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th.


It matters, because suicide is what took my brother from me.

It matters, because even though he and I weren't speaking at the time of his death - I will never, ever, ever have another opportunity to try to talk sense into his thick skull.  I will never have another argument with him. We will never cave in and forgive each other - then laugh like idiots and hug it out.

It matters, because the relationship we once had is gone forever.

It matters, because my girls will never remember their Uncle Eric.

It matters because my son's Godfather didn't get to see him graduate boot camp or continue in the Navy, or whatever the next important mark in his life will be.

It matters.

It may not seem like it should matter to you, but it all matters.  It should matter.

To me it matters most of all, because HE DIDN'T HAVE TO GO!

It matters, because he suffered in silence.

It matters, because all of us are left behind to wonder why.  Why now? We never knew what was going on in his head.  He didn't show any signs (this time) that anyone picked up on.  It's probably why he never took my calls.  He knew I'd know.  He knew that I'd see through his bull shit and call him out.  He knew I'd step in, step up and find a way to help him, but he just couldn't handle it anymore.

It matters, because my brother - and every other person suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts - just wanted the pain to stop.

His pain stopped.
...And then it passed on to the rest of us left behind.

Some may say I didn't care, because I was tough on him.  Yes, I was very tough on him.  He needed me to be. Sometimes he thanked me for being so tough on him.  It got him through our childhood, through the Navy and through some really difficult situations I won't discuss in this blog.

He was my brother.  He was the person who I plotted with when we were younger, the one who beat me in tickle fights and made me laugh until chocolate milk came out my nose.  He was smart and cute and funny.  He had a heart of gold. He's the one, that although struggling with depression - made it through 3 previous attempts at taking his own life and continued on to become a functioning adult, until that day.

He was my brother, and I loved him.

In my heart I always knew my brother loved & missed me.  Sometimes it's hard to say - "I'm sorry.  I was wrong."  Even if the other person says it first.

Tomorrow, September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Don't be a statistic - Suicide Victim or Suicide Survivor.

Educate yourself.  Know the signs.  Help save a life!

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:  http://www.afsp.org/preventing-suicide
S.A.V.E. Suicide & Depression Voices of Education:  http://www.save.org


If you are someone who is struggling - It's OK to have a bad day.
It's NOT OK to have several bad days that turn into weeks, months, years. Please reach out!

In my heart, I believe that as much pain as my brother had and as much as he wanted it to stop - I don't believe he thought he'd really pull it off.
...and now it's too late.

It IS OK to reach out for help.  The taboos of the past are behind you.
Your friends, family - whom ever... Trust me, they would rather hear you say "HELP ME, PLEASE", than pick out your casket.

Of this, I'm sure.

Someone DOES love you.  Someone WILL miss you.  
Reach out...Someone WILL grab your hand.
...Even if it's a total stranger.


Life is good.  Every single second.  No one said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it.

Love you all!

Peace,

Jenn

In loving memory of my brother, Eric, on what would have been his 46th birthday.

I will always love you, Eric.  Gone, but forever in my heart!

** Often people ask, after reading if they may share my blog posts.  If you think that anything written in my post could help another, by all means - please feel free to share the LINK to this page: http://mydailyjenn-ism.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-wish-for-my-brother-day-before-world.html or you may click the share to buttons located on this page.  If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. **

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Love Your Sibs...Even if they're a pain in your BLEEP

It's true to say that no one can push your buttons or get you riled up faster than a sibling.

After all, they're the ones you've lived most of your life with.  In many instances, the first other kids you'd ever known.  Your first friends.  Your first partners in crime. The ones you hated at times, but would still die for.

They know all the buttons to push, when to push 'em & how hard.

Siblings are an important piece(s) to the puzzle that is your life.

Around this time of the year, I get really sad.
On August 27th, 2007 I lost my younger brother.
It was truly one of the worst days of my life, if not the worst.

I'm not going to get all high and mighty and speak with piety - because the worst part of my brother leaving this planet without me getting to say good bye is that we weren't speaking, and I hate that!  We hadn't spoken for several years.  Even worse than all of that - our not speaking had NOTHING to do with each other.


Outside circumstances - people - events are what came between us, what divided us.

Eric was my first sibling.  Number 2 in the pecking order, with me being the big sister, the numero uno at the top of the heap.  He and I fought - oh my gosh, how we fought.  As an adult, I'm embarrassed to say that we actually fist fought and even drew blood.  If my kids fought like we fought, I don't even know what I'd do.  Looking back, it was really awful - but we loved still each other.

He always knew that as much of a pain in the butt as he was - and believe me, he was - I was always there for him.  I was always the first person he'd call if he needed help, if he was really sad, or if he needed money.  Whatever it was - he knew he had a no questions asked policy with me.

Even though I was his older sister, I was his main care taker growing up.  He knew that, I knew that.  So when he left this planet - I was completely out of sorts.  I wasn't there to help him this time.  I didn't know he was suffering.  I didn't know he had pain.  He didn't come to me, like he had in the past.  He struggled with whatever it was - in silence, not talking to anyone.  As a result, my dear brother took his own life.

I genuinely think of my brother every single day, feeling as if I'd failed him in some way.

A friend of mine's mom went through the same situation with her sister.  Many years before I lost Eric she would tell me over and over, "Jenn, keep trying.  Just keep trying.  Call him, send him letters.  Do whatever you can - because if something happens and you're not speaking, you'll never forgive yourself."
She was right.

My point of this posting is not to draw sympathy to me - but attention to your own sibling relationships.  I know a few people - right off the top of my head who aren't speaking to their siblings.  Some issues are big, others small - others just flat out foolish pride.  It's not worth it!  Let it go!

Your siblings are the closest people to you - besides your spouse and children.  Even closer than your parents on many levels.  You grew together.  You have the same memories.  You've done all the stupid crap together & worked to get over on your parents together.  You built dreams & maybe even made them come true.

There is NOTHING on this planet worth a division between siblings.  NOTHING!

Not money, not your spouse, not a ridiculous family feud that has nothing to do with you.  NOTHING!

Work it out!  Somehow, some way.

Because in the end, when you look back on your life - the endless reel of memories that will play out in your mind WILL have your siblings in it.

How awesome is it to share that with them?

Thank you for reading my blog!

Love you guys, really!

~Jenn

PS.  Darren, I love you & I'm sending you hugs through here for now.  xxoo
(To those of you who don't know...Darren is my "baby" brother)

Rest sweetly on the wings of angels, Eric.  Love you and miss you always.  

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re-post from August 23, 2012

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When the funny fades...

To tell you that I hate to dwell on this crap would be the understatement of the decade.

I try to say what I have to say, do what I have to do and then move on.

Done.

Not so much in these types of situations.  When suicide enters your life - it's very difficult to just turn your back and walk away.  Suicide settles inside of you.  It crawls into those deep dark crevices and makes itself at home, like a rodent in the eaves of your home - chewing at the wires until it creates a really dangerous situation, or at least that feeling does.  It's a feeling I can't describe, nor do I want to.  It's a feeling that I hope you don't know, if you don't already.

I know that there are so many people who read my blog who don't get it. I know my husband is one of those "don't get it" people.  That's OK.  Not everyone does.  I used to be one of those "don't get it" people until it happened to me.  Twice.

I feel INCREDIBLY LUCKY to not suffer from depression.  LUCKY. Fortunate!  Depression runs rampant in my family - two suicides, alcoholism and drug abuse.  RAMPANT.  I've been sad. I've been really, really sad and maybe a tad depressed, but I've never wanted to die. Sadness is a feeling you can get beyond.  Depression takes hold.  That is the difference between sadness and depression.

I can remember back to when I was a little girl, sitting next to my dad on the couch watching Mork & Mindy.  I can remember my dad's hearty laugh and his statements of Robin Williams being "off the wall."

Robin Williams was, without a doubt, hysterically funny.  He is, well was, one of my favorite funny people.  He was my dad's too.  They were both funny guys, though my dad was no Robin Williams, he sure thought he was.  They both left this place in the same way - by their own hand.

Tears of a clown is the best analogy I can come up with.

Depression is a bitch. Depression is one of those things that people have learned to try to hide. Try to self cure.  Drugs. Alcohol. Dangerous living. Being funny. Pick a mask, any mask. As long as the depression doesn't show and make anyone else uncomfortable, it's all good.
No it's not.


I try to express my feelings on this as often as possible, without turning away those of you who don't "get it" or don't want to hear about it.  I understand.  NO ONE wants to hear about it.  NO ONE wants to talk about the "crazy" the "sick" the "it never happens to me" the "they need shock treatment" the depressing depression.

It needs to be talked about.

That taboo?  That "elephant in the room" as someone so graciously input on my FB page - that elephant needs to be addressed.  That elephant needs to be called out and dealt with.

Until that happens, people will continue to die at their own hand.

People do NOT have to die at their own hand.

There is SO MUCH life left to live.  So much wonderful life.  Yes, there will be pain.  Yes, there will be hard times.  Don't let the lies of depression tell you that it's hopeless.  It's never hopeless.
You are never, ever alone.

If you are in depression's grasp, please let someone you love and trust know.  If you don't feel like you love or trust anyone at the moment, tell someone else.  It doesn't matter who you tell.  Tell someone. Reach out your hand.  Someone WILL grab it!

The mask can only last for so long until the pain takes over, until the funny fades.

Mr. Williams - thank you for the laughs and for a wonderful legacy of funny.

May you, and the others before you find the peace that you were unable to find in this place.

Nanu-Nanu

I wish you peace and love.

~Jenn

**  If you are struggling with Depression or Suicidal thoughts - Please DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE!  PLEASE reach out.  Let someone help you.  Life is good.  Really.  **

(as shared from https://www.facebook.com/DBSAlliance )

National Suicide Prevention Helpline (U.S.)
1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)

International Directory of Suicide Hotlines
http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
--
Need someone to listen & help without judging?

Warmline "Listening Line" Directory (U.S.)
http://www.warmline.org/

Befrienders (International)
http://www.befrienders.org/
--
Concerned about someone online?
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/online.aspx


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

If someone you love told you they wanted to die.... How would you handle it?

What would you do if someone you love told you they tried to die?

How would you handle it?


Would you embrace them?  Would you thank them for trusting you with something so personal? Would you tell them how happy you are that they are still here?  Would you tell them how much you love them?  How much God loves them?

These are all of the things I wish I'd done, now - looking back.

I wish I'd said and done all of those things.

I didn't though.

Instead, my heart filled with pain and I got sucked into the emotion of the suicides I've lived through, and in an almost scolding manner asked WHY they didn't call me? Why didn't they come to me, knowing I'd listen?
Why didn't they call to me?

Looking back now, even though I didn't mean it that way - it sounds a little selfish.

In my deep fear and pain in the words I'd just heard, I'd forgotten how hard it is for someone in the midst of struggle to reach out and say, "Help me, I'm drowning."

I'd forgotten...

Depression is a bitch!

NO - Depression IS Satan.

Depression will tell you that no one loves you.
Depression will tell you that you don't matter.
Depression will tell you that no one cares.
Depression will tell you that everyone is better off with out you.
Depression will tell you that it's hopeless.

Depression LIES.


I am here to tell you that you ARE loved.
I am here to tell you that you DO matter.
I am here to tell you that I, among many others, DO care.
I am here to tell you that it is NOT hopeless.

You are loved,  you matter, you are worthy,
It is NOT hopeless.

I am here to tell you that He is not done with you yet.
I am here to tell you that life without you would create a giant hole for the rest of us left behind.
I am here to tell you that your life is a great and shining beacon of joy and hope.


To my friend, please allow me to start over.

I love you.  You are special and important to me.
Thank you for coming to me and sharing something so private with me.
I am so thankful that you are still here.
I know how difficult this is for you.
I am and will always be here for you.

Depression is Satan, the master trickster.  The master liar.
Depression doesn't get to win.

God isn't done with you yet.
...And neither is anyone else.

Lots of love,
Jenn


** If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please do not suffer in silence.**


I know it's hard to reach out - but PLEASE REACH OUT!
Someone does love you.  Someone will miss you.
You DO make a difference.
Whatever pain you are suffering never goes away.
It simply passes on to those you leave behind.
You are loved.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

What moments in your life (good or bad) have changed you forever?

I posted this comment on my Facebook page to see what kind of response I'd get.


Of course I already knew what I was going to write about, but before I start... I want to pay humble homage to those of you who commented on that Facebook post.  Some of the comments I was not surprised about, but others I was in absolute awe of.  They were all fabulous.  You have amazing strength and heart.  All of you.  Thank you.  Really.  I'm honored that you shared yourselves with me.

For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, have you really given thought to the moment(s) in your life that have changed you forever?

It's something I'm totally hung up on.

There's never just one moment, because the moments change.
Life changes.  I look back through my life, and I see the "me" that I was through different decades. I don't even know her anymore.

What defined me?  What changed me?

I can immediately say for certain, that my husband helped to shape the woman I've become over the past almost 15 years.


My childhood and early adulthood made me the very strong, independent woman that I am.  I was someone who had endured more loss than anyone should have, and someone who wasn't very trusting as a result. I totally expected people to check out on me - one way or another, so I learned to do things for myself and didn't get too attached to anyone. That attitude isn't fabulous when you're trying to have a relationship.  It has a way of blocking you from moving forward.

Eventually I learned trust.
More times than I can count, my husband has said to me,
"Relax - why do you think you need to do everything?"
It's a good reminder that it's OK.  I CAN rely on him.
Breaking down my wall and allowing him to take care of me was not an easy thing.  It was something that I really had to work at to change.
To grow.


Just when I started to believe that people don't check out on you, my brother committed suicide.

...another life changing moment.

That loss tore me down and completely changed me, robbing me of everything I finally began to trust.  It's made me hard in ways that I can't explain.  I'm not over it.  I don't know if I'll ever be completely over it. Most people can't see it, because I hide behind a smile.  Only the people really close to me can see it.  Only the people really close to me have all of me.

I really needed my husband's strength and support to get through my brother's death.


His suicide brought my wall back up and made me more distant and on guard than I had ever been.

I, once again, keep people at arms length.  I no longer give people an opportunity to get close enough to hurt me.  I'll make casual acquaintances, but that's it.  I have a few close friends, whom I know I can trust.  For certain - You hurt me, you screw me?  I'm out. I'll forgive once, maybe twice - depending on the offense, but if given a big enough red flag - you can see the flames shooting out the back of my heels as I run away.  Done, over.  As if you'd never known me.

It may not be the best way to handle things, but it's what works for me.
I get to check out first.

Changed.

I know it's hard to imagine that part of me, here through the web-o-sphere.  Here it's easy.  I can love you all.  I want to take care of you all and make sure you're all happy and lovely and safe. That part, I'm super good at.  Just don't try to take care of me.  I'm good.  I've got this.


I was changed again when my friend Ed died.
This time I felt mortality smack me in the face.  I mean, I was the sick one.  Yeah, I knew he already had one heart attack and yeah, I knew he wasn't the healthiest guy on the planet - but ya know... your friends? They aren't supposed to check out.  Yes, I know - it wasn't his choice.
It was almost as if mortality were saying to me... "Hey listen chick... just because you got over your little health issues doesn't mean you're going to live forever.  Heads up!  Oh, and appreciate what you've got."

For a while, I went on the "life's too short" for whatever the situation happened to be going on at the time. I still feel that way in most situations, but you can't both have your wall up and forgive and forget all the hurts around you.  I took stock of what was important and tried to make things better in some situations - when they weren't better at all. Then I began to think about what's worth fighting for. What's an illusion?  What's real, and what's not?  Is this situation really worth the effort, or should I just chalk it up to illusion?

Living life to its fullest doesn't mean accepting toxic relationships just because you've had them for a long period of time.  It's about being happy about the relationships that you are in.  Realizing what works in your life and what doesn't.

I've changed.  Many times.

For certain, those changes have opened my eyes to things I've chosen to not look at until I had no choice but to see.

Sometimes you need to see.  Like it or not.  Sometimes you need the really awful things to change you, so that you can move toward the really great things ahead.

At times I wish I didn't have to experience certain things that I have. Those moments - but I embrace them for what they are - my past.

A past defining moment that has set me on the path to my future.

So what moments in your life have changed you?

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Friday, June 13, 2014

For the "Other" Dad In My Life

Over they years that I've published Father's Day posts which I'd written about my dad, my step dad, single dads - other dads.

While my dads are the ones who help to shape who I am, I don't feel I've given enough honor to another special dad in my life.  The one who accepts this woman that my dads shaped...

My husband.

I was a single mom when I met my husband.  I didn't want a "boyfriend" and I flat out told him so. I was completely content to be a single mom.  Just me & my son.  That's how it would be.  If I was going to have a "relationship" it was going to be one I didn't have to give too much attention to. Maybe a far away one, or a see ya in a few weeks kinda thing.  I didn't think I was cut out for this whole marriage thing.  I'd given it a shot and it just didn't work out.  I'd been on my own for too long, maybe.  Too independent.  Too unwilling to depend upon someone else, because someone else always lets me down.  I've got this.  No worries.

Then, there was my husband.  Totally "OK" with just being friends. Totally "OK" with my insistence that he doesn't get to meet my son, because I wasn't interested in having him do any potential "daddy interviews."  I was hard.  I was cold.  I was very protective of my son. Until the day that he showed up at my front door, which my dad answered, toy in hand for my son.  "I don't need to meet him, Jenn isn't ready for me to, but could you give this to him?"

That's my husband.
The guy who not only taught me that it's OK to depend upon someone, but the guy who chose us as a package deal, because he wanted to.  The guy who cracked my tough exterior, when others probably would have given up.  The guy who jokes... "well, she said she didn't want a boyfriend, so she got a husband instead."

Without the love of my husband, I know life would be different.

I know my son would have grown into the man he's become, but I wouldn't have my two beautiful girls - who he thinks the sun rises and sets over.

Without the love of my husband, I wouldn't have been able to grow into the mom I've become. The mom I always wanted to be.  I wouldn't have been able to open my home to other children who need love.  I wouldn't have given birth to our daughter or adopted our littlest.  ("the short one")  I wouldn't have the life I'd always wanted, or the girls who brighten his world.

Seeing his glow around our kids makes every day worth while.

On this Father's Day, I want to honor my husband; an AMAZING father, husband, man.

Thank you, honey.

I love you!

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL YOU ROCKIN' DADS OUT THERE!!

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You are not less....

A friend of mine talked with me earlier this week about a discussion she'd had with someone in her life. She explained with upset how during this discussion, the person she was speaking with somehow made her feel as if she was not good enough.

I know, I know - no one can make you anything - but it doesn't always feel that way, does it?

I think this happens to all of us from time to time.  Either we're beating ourselves up, or someone else is beating us up to make us feel as though we are less - not good enough.

Sometimes it's hard to get beyond the expectations of others, isn't it?  You want people to be proud of you, to see your shine.

Sadly, those who want to feel superior will always find a way to try to make you feel less. Especially if your shine is a little brighter than theirs.


How can you find your own happy medium?

I used to struggle with that, and sometimes I still do, even though I've come to know who I am, and what I will and will not accept.

There was a time when I was younger and not in such a great situation.  I was regularly beaten down, verbally, mentally, emotionally - whatever. I'm a pretty tough cookie - but I found myself in a situation where I was made to feel less.

Eventually, I sought out mental help.

**Know this**
I sought out mental help because I was told that 
I was crazy, psychotic, in need of mental help.
...and I believed it.

That mental beat down and insistence that I needed mental help 
was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Those counselling sessions opened my eyes 
and made me see what I'd been missing all along.
It wasn't ME that needed the mental help at all.
It was the other person in the situation.  The person who was mentally beating me down because of their own self esteem issues.  They were working to bring me down so that they could feel better about them self.

It finally made sense.  So much sense that when it came at me again, I recognized it.  I was able to feel in control of myself and address it calmly by saying, "just because you're feeling badly about yourself, don't try to drag me down with you."  This comment was met with a snicker.  He knew.  It was the beginning of the end of that journey for me, and an opening to a new start.


I was able to pick myself back up and go on, knowing that I AM worthy.  I AM good.  I AM special and important.  Sometimes we forget that.  Sometimes we get caught up into a bad situation and we lose ourselves.

Don't ever lose yourself.

It wasn't easy to get back to me.  That situation is long behind me now.  I often question myself as to how a reasonably intelligent, strong willed, strong minded woman got there to begin with.

It's the reason why I will no longer accept another person in my life trying to push me lower to raise them self up.  No thanks.  Not playing, but you have fun with that.  When I see it coming, I cut and run.

If you're reading, and this all sounds all too familiar - remember who you are.  Remember that you are good.  You are worthy and you are most definitely NOT LESS!

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn



Friday, May 2, 2014

Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry??

Fact:  I don't like to cry.
Fact:  If I'm crying, and you see it - there's a big reason for it.

Both of these statements are 100% factual.

Today's blog was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook by another blogger, Bipolar Mom 101, who asked on Facebook, "Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry or do you fight back the tears?"

It's a good question.  It's not just a female to female question - it's an across the board question, and one that gave me so much thought I needed to blog about it - IMMEDIATELY.

Growing up, for the most part I had to be "tough."  I had a lot of responsibility for a kid and well, whatever.  Life wasn't all sunshine and roses.  I didn't cry, because crying showed weakness.  If I was upset, I didn't show it.  I didn't cry.  If I did cry, no one knew about it.  I didn't want to be comforted or coddled. I cried in silence.


Over the past decade of my life, I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've cried.  Once over the death of my brother, which lasted for weeks.  Once over the death of my dear friend, Ed, which of course lasted for days.  Once when my son left for boot camp (but I was alone in my car - no one saw me.  Does that count?) and once in a situation where so many past memories collided, my emotions went on overload and I couldn't handle the situation.  (totally embarrassing)
I can't think of another time.

Granted, I've been in a good place.  I'm lucky and I'm blessed.  I also work and fight to be in this good place.  It's a gift, not an entitlement.

Have I been upset by things in the meantime?  Of course.  Would these upsetting moments bring others to tears?  Probably.  Does that make me callous or unfeeling?  Or afraid?  Or Jaded?

I don't know.


I do know that I'm not alone in this.  I know others, like me, who've toughened to life.  Tough on the outside, mush on the inside.  Crying in silence, where no one knows.  Where no one can see.  So no one sees the cracks in the armor...or the vulnerabilities that others may take advantage of.

Babies cry as their only means of communication, when they have a need to be met - hunger, pain, fear, comfort - whatever.  They cry.

My sister-in-law once told me that in her travels to third world countries, she'd visited orphanages - and the babies there don't cry.  They don't cry because no matter how much they may cry - their needs can't always be met.  It's almost as if they've learned in the first few months of their lives that their cries for help will never be met - so why bother.

WOW

Is this what life does to some of us?  We don't cry because we don't believe our needs will be met, so why bother?

I leave you in this with the original thought of this blog....

"Do you tell yourself it's OK to cry or do you fight back the tears?"

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn 

PS.  All's well, this is just your typical "over thinking Jenn" post ;)



Friday, April 25, 2014

My Dad and My Dad :)

I know that sometimes reading my blog it gets confusing when I say that my dad died by suicide when I was 18, and then in another post - I talk about how my dad lived with my husband and I.

I...had 2 dads.

Not in the modern way.  No disrespect.  I'm just saying that's not the family I had.  I had my dad, who was my dad and my step-dad.

Most of the close friends I have in my life I've almost always had.  There may be some "holes" in time, but we've always kept a connection.

Even to these friends, it's confusing.  Confusing because growing up, I would NEVER have referred to my step dad as my "dad".  He and I didn't get along swimmingly.  I resented him and hated the way he treated me and my brothers.  It was not a close father/daughter relationship.

By stating the following, I am in no way disrespecting my dad - because I loved him dearly.

My dad was an alcoholic.  Not only was he an alcoholic, he was a nasty drunk.  My step brother & sister never saw this part of him.  They lived in another house.  They got the good dad who loved and doted on them, on the weekends.  They got the nice guy.  Yes, fine he was actually THEIR father, but I lived in his home. We were often treated badly and had to figure our own ways around it.

The days always started out nicely.  On weekday mornings, I'd come down to the kitchen for my breakfast. He'd have already put my English muffin into the toaster for me.  I'd eat my breakfast as he read the paper and we'd chat about the day before,or what the day lay ahead for us. Morning was always nice.  I think it was because of the mornings that I was able to form a bond with my step dad, my dad, later in life.

After school, I'd come home and do my chores, my homework and take care of my brothers.  Sometimes I'd start dinner.  It was this time of the day that everything changed.  The scary time.  The time that our step dad would come home - drunk and angry.  We were always in trouble for something, or nothing.  Eventually, I knew enough to just be gone at that time of day.  I'd conveniently be at a friend's house or whatever. My little brother would hide in his room. It didn't really matter where we were, as long as we were out of the way. I'd come home when he was passed out asleep. It's what worked for me.


This is the dad that my friends remember.  The mean, nasty, drunk son of a bitch that used to physically and verbally abuse us.  They don't know the dad that I came to be close to.  The dad that looked after me and my son while I was going through a miserable divorce.  The dad that took care of me when I was a single mom and the dad that I took care of during his sickness.

You see, my dad did recover.  The last 10 years of his life, he was a recovering alcoholic.  He didn't go to AA, it wasn't his thing.  He got sick.  I know it's may be in poor taste to be thankful for a life threatening illness, but if he didn't get sick, he'd have drank until the day he died.  It was the diabetes that made him quit drinking.  The diabetes made him so sick he couldn't drink and when he didn't drink, I had back the dad that I had on weekday mornings that made my English muffin for me and sat to talk with me while reading his paper before the day began.  This is the dad I longed for.  Especially after my own dad died 9 years earlier.

It was his sickness that gave him sobriety.  It was his sobriety that formed the father / daughter relationship that I had with him.  The grandfather / grandson bond that he formed with my son and the father in law / son in law bond he formed with my husband and even with my ex-husband to some degree.

So yes, I had two dads whom I loved, that loved me.

I miss them both, my dad and my dad.
...And I am so grateful to have had each of them.

No matter how it all started out.

Thank  you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn

Friday, April 18, 2014

Any 80's Hair Metal Heads Remember Queensryche??? My confession to Geoff....

It's concert season - more specifically outdoor concert season. I am a huge lover of music. All music. OK, well - most music.

It's time. Time to scour the internet in search of whatever other tickets I can come across.

Now, I've got guilt.

While searching livenation.com, there I saw it - QUEENSRYCHE!!  Not just Queensryche, but the billing was listed as "Queensryche: 25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime"  I NEEDED to go!

As a rule, I'm a loyal human. If I love, I love forever. Unless, of course, I've been given a big reason not to love. I don't like change. I'm loyal to the original. When Van Halen went Van Hagar, I boycotted.  When Steve Perry was replace by whoever the new lead singer is of Journey, I boycotted. I had absolutely NO desire to see Queensryche sans Geoff Tate.

I'm so sorry, Geoff.  I don't know what happened.
And here it is...

Dear Geoff,
I'm terribly sorry. I've inadvertently cheated on you. I'm sad to say - I think I liked it.
Maybe not completely, because there will never be another YOU, but I enjoyed myself.
I'm so sorry.
Faithfully yours,
Resurrected 80's High Hair Metal Chick

Yes, it's like that.
While I was combing through LiveNation.com I DID see Queensryche: 25th Anniversary Operation Mind Crime. If you're 80's and love that - How exciting is that??


One of the things I'm well aware of is the Queensryche split. There's Geoff, THE voice of Queensryche, who split from the band and has a new band. Then there's the band, with the founding member, Michael Wilton and new lead singer, Todd LaTorre. Both touring as Queensryche.
Confusing, right?

Before I purchased my tickets, I double, triple and quadruple checked. I wanted to be double damn sure I was buying GEOFF TATE Queensryche tickets. There was his face, plastered all over every website - promoting everywhere, once again "25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime." I was confident I was making the right decision. There were also 2 dates available!! Once at Starland in March, which I couldn't make. Once in April at BergenPac, which I could make.
I excitedly bought my tickets.

Yes, it was a bit of a red flag that the shows were happening in the same state, but ya know - it IS concert season. I checked, double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked. I THOUGHT that I was confident that it was Geoff Tate Queensryche I was going to see.

As the date got closer, I noticed that my upcoming event - as listed on Facebook had changed. There was now a notation that "Ticketmaster has changed event name."  Ut oh...  Now instead of it saying:  Queensryche:  25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime - it simply said, Queensryche.

I was duped!


I knew something was up, so I went to livenation.com and checked the venues, the artists, the dates... there it was.  The change. The change that pissed me off on several levels, because I WANTED Geoff Tate.

The billing, I felt, was intentionally confused. Did I mention I was pissed?

The show I had been so looking forward to now became, meh - I like live shows anyway. I'll still have a good time. I'll just go anyway and suck it up like any other cover band. If I hate it, I'll leave.

I didn't leave.  I enjoyed it.

Was the concert anywhere NEAR the expected 25th Anniversary of Operation Mindcrime??  NO. They only played a few songs from that album. On that level I was a little disappointed, but Todd sounded great. He has great energy. He has a great voice. He is a great stage performer. He is very expressive and lives the music. I really liked that. No, he's not Geoff - but I liked it. I was entertained. I enjoyed the show. I really enjoyed the show. Yes, I was shocked too!

The warm up band was Gothic Knights. A band that hails from NYC and has been around since 1990. No, I never heard of them either. Here's why...  Although the lead singer has a great voice, he has absolutely no stage presence. There's no excitement. No real movement or feeling of connection with the band. Stiff.  I feel that I could close my eyes and enjoy the music, I just didn't need to watch because the watching part didn't entertain me. They are still very 80's feeling.

Admittedly, I went in with a bad attitude and disappointment at the way Live Nation handled things. I would NOT have purchased the tickets if I'd known it wan't Geoff Tate I was going to see, but I'm glad that I gave it all a chance.

I probably wouldn't go see Queensryche again, out of loyalty to Geoff, without Geoff - but I also wouldn't turn anyone away. It was a good show. I liked it and I think that anyone else who enjoys this type of music, who likes Queensryche and can be open minded (like I'm not) would enjoy the show.


So Geoff, I hope I'm forgiven. No one rocks it like you. You will be my first and only voice of Queensryche. This time, I just strayed - but I'm back. :)

Thank you all for reading my blog!!

~Jenn

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

About Foster Parenting....

Re-post from June 2012.
After reading a post over at The Last Mom blog, I was inspired to dig up one of my old blog posts about our foster parenting experience.

I often mention that my husband and I are foster parents.  That said, I've been asked many questions...

It is my hope to give anyone interested as much of MY PERSPECTIVE as I can give you into the wonderful world of fostering.  So with this sentence comes my disclaimer - read it, know it love it:

**All opinions expressed in this blog are MY personal experiences and MY opinion.  Each person has their own experience and reason for pursuing foster parenting.  Rules differ from state to state.  Please consult your local child services for information in your state.  Please check the status of your own heart prior to pursuing this avenue.  It is NOT for everyone.  This is NOT a job to support a family.  It’s taking on another person’s child for the sole benefit of the CHILD. **

Off soap box & onto my blog.  Sit down - grab coffee, wine - whatever does ya.... It's a long one.

How did we get here?
I've mentioned often that my body let me down when I was actually trying to be pregnant.  Yes, I do have two of my very own biological children.  Ten years apart.  I wanted more kids, my husband wanted more kids and we both love kids.

We checked into international and national adoption.  If you've gone that route, you know there are many unscrupulous jerks in the "adoption business" or, more specifically, crooks preying on people who desperately want a child. As a point of reference, you could spend about the amount it would cost you to buy a new Cadillac Escalade, to adopt a child.  They run you through the ringer & then they can say NO. Truth!
Oh, and no refunds if it doesn't pan out.

This is not always the case - but something to be aware of.

My husband and I are both the "want to save the world" type.  I'm always up for a challenge.  I like to try to "fix" and help as much as I can and I truly want to make a difference.  If I can do that, I'm happy.  It doesn't always go that way.  We wanted to get involved in the system to help a child who's already here, who needs love.  These kids REALLY need love.

It's not always butterflies and flowers, but neither is parenting your own kid.  The difference is that some of these kids are hard, really hard.  Many of these kids have seen or had unspeakable things done to them.  Things you can't even conceive of.  You need to have a heart to love them through.  To teach them that what they've dealt with isn't how things should be.  To love them through it.

It's not always easy, but it is always worth it.

I will answer a couple of the questions I've received most often, in my very "Jenn" little way with a lot of my truth peppered with joy and heart ache.

How do you get involved?
It varies from state to state.  My best answer is to go to:  http://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad/
Read through the site & find the nearest Child Services office to your county.

What do I need to do?
It's a long process - which is a good thing!
-An intake worker will come to your home and speak to you and your family. They will look at your home to see how many children your home can accommodate, along with your family.
Yes, most of us are only looking for one child - but they will always consider you for sibling groups & you may change your mind.  We've had a few sibling groups come through.  Know your limit!
-They will fill out paperwork & ask you for references from friends / family members.
-They will do a background check.
-You will need to be fingerprinted and you will need to take classes.

These are all very good things - if half the parents on the planet had to go through all of this to get a child, there wouldn't be so many children in need!

The process will be a long, annoying pain in the arse!  Expect it.  You're dealing with the government.

You CAN be very specific about the type of child you are willing to take.  They will call you for any child they need to place but you CAN say no without it being held against you.  I know that sounds like a really mean thing to say, but there are certain issues a child may have that you may know you cannot deal with; sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect, physical deformities, mental illness., etc.  Set a criteria that will work for you and your family in your home. These kids are already being removed from the only family they know.  If you can't deal with something it's best for the child concerned to know that in advance.  You don't want to have to have a child placed over and over again.

Consider the ages of your kids and bedrooms. Think carefully - do you want a newborn?  Really?  Many (not all) of the newborns are born drug addicted.  Drug addicted babies go through withdrawal and may cry for what seems like all the time. Be sure you can deal with that & be sure that you ask the question.

The "dumpster babies" and "Safe Haven Babies" don't seem to exist in the system.  If they do, I've never been offered one.

Talk to your family.
Sit down with every single person in your immediate household, and those close to you.  You'll need their support.  Find out what every single person thinks about the idea and what they think their role will be.  You all will need to work together, even your kids.  Trust me!

Our very first foster child had substantial mental health and emotional issues.  She was a self abuser at 1 1/2 years old.  She screamed and cried all the time.  She had two speeds, cute & psychotic.  You could see the switch flip.  I'm getting into this because my son couldn't handle it.  It was too much for him and he and decided to go stay with his father until we could get the child re-placed in a more suitable environment for her.  This situation was a total shock to our entire family.  The other thing we were not prepared for was how difficult it would be to let her go, because we did fall in love with this child.  We just knew we were not able to give her what she needed.  I cried for weeks.

Ask questions!

Ask many, many, many questions.  If you're not getting the answer you're looking for - ask someone else.  Keep asking until you are completely satisfied that you understand the answer you are receiving.  I do it all the time.  Yes, there's confidentiality - BUT if there is information you need to benefit the child, you are entitled to the answer.

You won't always know what questions to ask if you're new - they give you a list in training.  Use it!

As with everything else, with experience comes the knowledge of what questions to ask.

Your own children.
I can't stress this enough - make sure your children are on board.  They will ALWAYS need to come first and be your main priority.  Make sure they understand that it's more than a playmate in the home.  It can't be a selfish decision - what you want to do.  They really, really need to be a part of it.  I mentioned the incident with my son for a reason.  As wonderful as this is - it can really interrupt a family.

Our daughter is great with the kids that come through our home.  She is a born "little mommy."  She is always jumping in to help the kids & plays with them.  She's a great big sister.  That was one of the things I wanted for her & am thankful worked out so well BUT (yes, always a but) when the kids leave, she is DESTROYED!  This has become something I have had to work around.
One little girl we had was very difficult.  Our daughter could not wait until she left - but when she did, the second the little girl left our house, our daughter darted to her room in tears.  This was not what we wanted for her.  We talked to her about not taking in any more kids in the future & she was very clear to say that she wanted more kids, she just felt sad when they left.

We had to come up with a plan so our daughter wouldn't get hurt.  We talked about it and determined that as long as she doesn't see it, it doesn't happen.  So after that child - when we knew a child was leaving we'd pack them up together & when the child was actually leaving, our daughter would go for a play date.  She would say her good byes before & when she came home they were gone.  No problems.  This is what worked for us.


Find other Foster Parents to network with.
You don't need to be BFF's, but a network is wonderful.  There will be a time you may want to get away with just your biological family - it's better to KNOW the people your foster child is going into vacation placement with.  Otherwise they could end up anywhere.
The kids have already gone through so much, consistency is important for them.  Also, during the tough times - it's good to have someone to talk with that understands what you're dealing with.  Understands the system.

Stay informed & educated!
There are online classes & groups.  You are mandated to have a certain amount of instructional hours per year & per three year period for annual inspection.  These courses are brilliant.  I'm a mom - I've got 2 of my own & have had several come through.  I have learned so much more from these classes.  You'll be surprised at how much you didn't know!

Document the good stuff (and the bad).
Take notes, lots of them.  Be in touch with your case worker, take lots of pictures & have fun.  I try to keep a little diary of important things.  Since the invention of the digital camera & Snapfish - it's made it much easier to upload pix & put a little caption of what happened in this picture.  When a child leaves, they take it with them & have what may be the missing pieces to a part of their life they may need in the future.

It's not about you!
It's parenting.  You're #2 (take that anyway you want it.)
You ALWAYS need to remember - this will always be about the child.  It's not a pay check.  If you're relying on that money for a pay check - you shouldn't even be entering into this foray.
The stipend is less than the child support you'd receive from your significant other in a divorce/custody situation.
You WILL spend every single cent and then some on the child.  At least I do.

You WILL get your heart broken from time to time.
Part of taking in these children is loving and caring for them as if they were your own.  You form a bond.  Some of the children become adoptable.  You may or may not want to go that route.  Some of the kids go back.  Sometimes they go back to a good place, sometimes you don't know.  No matter what the situation - your heart will break a little each time.


If you're getting involved for the right reasons, you are giving this child a sense of self and family that they probably never had.  The most important things to give kids are roots & wings.
Think of the motto for the Peace Corp.  It's the toughest job you'll ever love.  It's difficult, it can be heat wrenching.  The children can be incredibly needy or angry or impaired.  You can and will fall deeply in love with this child, and they may leave.

Even a few months of love & positive example will make a lifetime of difference in a child's life.

I'm no saint.  I'm no angel.  My husband and I are truly lucky to have the opportunity to share in the lives of these kids.

The good, the bad & the ugly.


I hope this information is helpful to you.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Smoochies!

~Jenn

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Have you ever felt like your life was hacked in some way?

I feel a little like I'm being a little disrespectful by posting a new entry today.  I have a lovely guest blog ready to run, which was supposed to run last week, but I was hacked.

This post may read out more like a journal entry than a blog post, but I'm me and I put it all out there.


Have you ever felt like your life was hacked in some way?

I often feel that way on here - on the internet, that is.

I'm an open book. I always have been. If I think it, I speak it. I don't pretend and I don't put it here if I won't give it to you directly. It's not always popular, but at least people know (or should know) where I stand. Even if it's with my foot in my mouth.

My dad taught me to be me. All of me. The good, the bad and the ugly. Being fake is a mask that you can't wear for very long. The truth always has a way of surfacing. As long as you're YOU people will love you for who you ARE, not for who they think you might be or who you pretend to be. Be true to yourself. Be true to others. Be honest. Be loyal.


The hack to my blog page was a good chance for me to lay low for a few days. To sit back and think about the direction I was heading with all of this.

When I started doing Mental Health March last year (or the year before, I forget) in honor of my dad, I did so with the best intentions. To take the crap that I'd lived through and turn it around to help someone else. What I didn't take into consideration is that whenever I posted something, when ever I dug deep to pour my soul out into the blog - I was also reliving the things I'd healed from.

Healing from this crap is no easy feat - it's always there.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions...

It is always my intention to do good. To help. Some days I receive feedback that brings tears of joy to my eyes. Other days things I've posted have harpooned me in some way, or brought me to a place I don't want to be.

I am LUCKY to not be a depressed human. If I'm sad, I'm sad for a reason. If I'm anxious, I'm anxious for a reason. For that, I'm incredibly thankful every single day. It is in that I am able to realize that I need to pull back a little from Mental Health March. It's not because I no longer want to help others, but because I need to remain healthy in my own mind.


I am older now than my dad was when he died 30 years ago today.

That day will live forever in the back of my mind.
You don't forget when one of the people who loved you most 
leaves this planet.

It has always been my goal to help those who are depressed and / or suicidal but letting them know how the person left behind processes it all. I wish there were more I could say or do.

For now, all I can tell you is that my dad left 30 years ago with no explanation. As one of the people left behind, I felt like my life was hacked.

Though time has healed most of the pain, it will always be there in some way. I will always be a little extra emotional when I hear of a suicide. I will always be a little sadder when a little girl loses her daddy, a sister loses a brother, a young person leaves because they didn't feel (or were made to feel) like they were enough, or even when a rich, beautiful woman dating one of the most famous rockers in the world can't go on another day - because it doesn't need to happen.

Suicide knows no gender, no race, no religion, no financial status.

I am GRATEFUL and THANKFUL to be lucky enough that God gave me the strength to deal with what I have in my life. I know that not everyone feels strong. Let someone be strong for you.

If you are someone confused or suffering in some way, please know that you are loved, whether you believe it or not - someone, somewhere loves you. ALL OF YOU. You have a purpose. You have worth. You make a difference and you will be missed. Don't suffer in silence. Reach out.

I was only 18 when my dad died (yes, go ahead add it up, I never said I was a young chippie.)  I may not have been someone who could have helped him if he reached out to me at 18 years of age. I may not have understood, but if he even once looked at me and said, "Please help me."
I would have done everything in my power to find someone to help him.

My dad was well loved by many. He didn't have to leave.
Neither does anyone else.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255

If you are in pain, PLEASE do NOT suffer in silence!  PLEASE reach out.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Much love to you all!

~Jenn


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