Category Archives: dealing with grief

Purpose in Life

            Your palms are sweating. Your heart is beating out of your chest. Your stomach is doing flip flops.

            “Sit down,” demanded your professor.

            Your professor has asked you to come to his office to speak to you.

            So, you obediently sit down on a chair while your mind is racing. Because you don’t know what you did to cause this meeting.

            You had just finished your first classes to be a teacher and your first observation in a classroom. You’re confused about what you did while in the class with the first and second graders.

            “When you shared your past, the rest of the class didn’t know how to talk to you afterward,” uttered my professor.

            And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;” Psalm 9:10

            I put my trust in the class when I shared my past with them. Now they didn’t trust the fact that they could just speak to me as though I’m a regular person.

            So, what about my past did I share with my class? I told them one of the reasons I became a teacher was because I had had been physically abused by my father. None of my teachers was my hero, while the whole ordeal was going on in my life. Perhaps I was going to be a kid’s hero. I knew that I wasn’t going to save all the children.

            Even though at that moment, I felt as though God had forsaken me. I couldn’t be my authentic self.

            “For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10.

            For the next 20 years, I was very selective about who I told the story of my past because I thought I was going to be judged. Through it all, God stayed by my side, preparing me for his plans for me. He did not forsake me.

            It was not until my mom died in early October that I felt like I could be my authentic self. I knew that it was time to tell my story. God began to let me know his plans for me. It is up for me to believe him.

            “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29: 11.

            Over the years, he has given me an inkling of what his plans are for me. He has whispered, “Write.”

            While I sleep, I dream of new towns with people I have never met.  When I wake up in the middle of the night and long car rides, I create blog posts in my mind never to recreate them when I’m awake. I invent stories about people I observe when I’m people watching while out and about.

            When I write, I often get caught up in the grammar and does it sound right which causes my writing to be stilted instead of being inspiring. (At least it does to me.) However, I need just to sit and write and later worry about revising and editing.

            “plans to prosper you and not harm you,” Jeremiah 29:11

            I’ve shared more of my writing in the last few months, along with the story of my life. Many people have been shocked when I tell them the truth since I’m becoming more authentic. They can’t really get to know me when I just say, “I’m okay.”

            It’s as though I’m being Instagram fake. My life may look as though it is “perfect” even though I’m walking through valleys right now. No one’s life is truly perfect. It’s messy, especially if you are truly living.

            Anywho which is one of my favorite words when I need to get back on track with my stories. Some of my stories have been shared with various people in my life. God has worked his magic by talking through those people. “Write. You need to write and share your stories.”

            “Your writing is going to help someone. Someone who you’ve never met and may never meet. It’s going to be your legacy. Listen to me,” God is saying through them.

            “Plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

            Even though I’m trying to follow what the Lord is telling me to do,  there is still some self-doubt because of what I was told 22 years ago. “People don’t know how to talk to you after learning about your tragic past.”

            If I could talk to that professor, I would reply, “You talk to me like a person.”

            Just because I have suffered through circumstances that would make a person cry, it’s only part of my story. It does not define me. However, it is what makes up part of my personality and character.

            What the professor didn’t know was that the abuse made me a stronger person. While in my 20’s, I had the drive to graduate from college. I was bound and determined to be the first member of my family to earn my bachelor’s degree. I was working full-time at McDonald’s so that I could afford to go to college. I didn’t let that part of my story become an excuse. Instead it gave me a reason to be successful.

            My father had just died that past November, so I felt as though that weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Right before he died, I wanted to travel to Pittsburgh for the first time so that I could tell him, “You no longer have power over me.”

            Then a few months later, I’m told, “You can’t talk about your past.”

            Do not let someone have that kind of power of you that you feel like you can’t share your authentic self.

            God was only preparing the way for me. He was building the foundation for his real purpose for my life. He already knew the plans for my life. It was not to be the season of my life for him to reveal his plan for my life. He was only laying down the foundation.

            To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Kindness Matters

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

On the morning/early afternoon, I found my mom had died, I went on my weekly grocery shopping trip. I needed things to be “normal.”

As I checked out, I mentioned to the cashier that she wouldn’t see my mom anymore. Then I explained the circumstances. She recognized both of us.

Her name was Brittany. She told me that she wanted to give me a hug. So, we hugged in the middle of Aldi’s. An Aldi that was ruined by a tornado 4.5 months earlier and had been reopened for only 2 months.

I just cried on her shoulder for a minute or so. Kindness is a beautiful and beautiful phenomenon.

The last few times I’ve been back to Aldi, she has either been on a break or not working that day, so I haven’t been able to say thank you for her kindness.

Update November 25 – I went to Aldi’s to get a few items. Brittany was working yesterday. After paying for my food, I thanked her for her kindness. She gave me another hugged and told me that she was praying for me and will continue to pray for me. She even asked me how I was doing and she couldn’t imagine what I was going through.

Two days after Mom’s funeral, I went to church. Neither boy nor Hubby were with me, so I was alone. I was nervous as I walked into the church and sat in my usual seat in the back of the sanctuary.

The sermon that day was about the troubles we have in life. Those troubles can help others when they come to you with your problems. You will have empathy, which is so important.

Again, I went on a tangent. As I sat there, one of the people in the church came and sat by me. She rubbed my back as tears rolled down my face. Then she whispered I didn’t want you to sit here alone.

One of my coworkers made me cookies because she knew that I needed some extra love. They knew I needed kindness because everything was falling apart in my life. So sweet and it made me feel as though I mattered.

Have a magical day,
Traci

What is Forgiveness?

So, what is it? When I looked it up in the dictionary, the definition states that it is the “act of forgiving” or “state of being forgiven.” This is so broad and just reuses the word in the definition. So, huh, what is forgiveness?

I then looked up the synonyms of the word forgiving, the words lenient, magnanimous, and merciful. Okay, we are getting a little closer to the definition.

The teacher in me needed to look up the definitions of the words to give me more clarity.

Lenient is defined as being tolerant, permissive, and/or indulgent. When I think about forgiveness, I don’t think of myself as being totally tolerant, but I do think of giving myself permission to begin to forgive the person.

Magnanimous is generous; forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness. All right, I don’t want to be vindictive towards my mom. I just want to share my story to help myself and others. So, we are getting closer to finding out what is forgiveness.

When you are merciful, you are compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender. As a result of me showing my mom mercy for the last three years of life, I was actually forgiving her for not always being there for me.

I’m on the brink of discovering what forgiveness means but at the same time am unsure of what it really means. Or how to do I as a flesh and bone human demonstrate forgiveness.

So, I went to the Bible. In the Bible, we learn that it means to pardon the person who hurt us. We are to cancel their debt towards us. We do it as an act of love, mercy, and grace.

It is important for us to forgive the other person for our mental state then for the person who offended us. It’s a way for us to move on with our lives. We are not to necessarily forget the offense, but to learn from it.

After you forgive someone, it does not mean you have to go back to being friends or whatever you were to them. Their behavior that offended you might continue on, so you need to set boundaries or stop all contact with them.

It’s not going to be easy to forgive people, but for your sake you need to do it.

An Example from my own Life

Back in 1996, I had to make the decision to forgive my father. He had done some terrible things to me that no child should have ever had to endure. Why? I had to move on with my life. If not, I would probably not been able to love Hubby.

I was planning to actually go see him in the nursing home. He died before I could say face-to-face “I have not forgotten, nor will I forget how horrible you were to me. However, I am releasing all the power you have over me.”

He ended up dying 23 years ago on November 13.

Back to the Bible

So what does the Bible say about forgiveness? Why is important?

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Hebrews 12: 14-15 – 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Basically, we are told to forgive; because, God has forgiven us by sending his one Son to die on the Cross for our sins.

We are also told to forgive because we cannot allow others to control our lives because of our hurt feelings and emotions.

Moving Forward

I’m dealing with a lot of hurt.

Join me on my journey of forgiving my mom. She hurt me until right before she died. I have a feeling she knew that she was very sick and didn’t want me to know. That’s a hard pill to swallow. I need to forgive her for not trusting me to tell me the truth.

Yes, I might have taken her to the hospital. She might have been able to spend more time with me because she would have gotten the medical help she needed.

That’s only one way she has offended me in my lifetime. It’s important for me to forgive her so that I can be free from the anger I’m feeling.

As I said, join me on the journey towards forgiveness.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Mom’s 50 Boyfriends

Imagine driving through the mountains. There is nothing to do but to keep looking outside at the lack of real scenery except for a few places where you could see some landscapes.

           There is no where to stop because the exits are few and far between. You are so bored.

           It was at that moment you decided that you needed a way to entertain yourself.

           Cell phones were a thing but nothing like they are today. Plus, cell towers would have been few and far between.

           Reading would have been impossible because well car sickness. I’ve done that once while riding on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lost all of my breakfast all over the backseat. Nasty business.

           So, with a pen and some paper, the best moment in my mom’s life was the creation of her imaginary boyfriends. You list all of the states and create a boyfriend for each state.

           Then you create a biography for a few of the boyfriends.

           When you get to Ohio, you stop at a rest stop and lo and behold you see a man who matches the description of the boyfriend you created for Ohio.

           This joke continues on for a while but later is not relevant. So, you quit talking about those boyfriends until your sister passes away.

           When you write her letter, you mention the boyfriends. Once again, it is relevant.

           So, I began to find you boyfriends all of the time. Every random guy, I would point at them and say, “There goes your boyfriend.”

           I don’t know how many boyfriends she ended up by the time she died.

           Her boyfriends were found around town and while I was on trips. Several times that I can remember finding her imaginary boyfriends were when my chosen sister, Molly, and I were briefly in Indiana. We went to the restroom at one of those truck rest stops, and this man walks out with cat litter. That’s the moment when Molly began looking for imaginary boyfriends for mom.

           The other time was when Molly and I were caravanning from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Erie, Pennsylvania. We were on the New York Turnpike when this guy rode past me on a motorcycle. I thought to myself, “Well, there goes one of mom’s boyfriends.”

           All of the sudden, my Bluetooth goes off.  Incoming call from Molly the wonderful. I safely answered the phone. “Your mom’s boyfriend just drove by on the motorcycle.”

           Molly was a true believer of my mom’s imaginary boyfriends.

           I don’t really know how mom really felt about me making her all of those boyfriends. I think she either rolled her eyes or pretended not to hear me when I started to talk about them.

           It’s a fun story that will not only be a legacy of hers, but of mine as well.

           Now, that list still exists but I cannot find it. One day, I will and maybe I’ll share some of the names. Some we were creative with, while others were not very creative.

           Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

Have a magical day,
Traci

A Song that spoke to my soul

As I was driving to work on Thursday, I decided to put K-Love on the radio. They were talking all about the pledge drive which was annoying but I needed to listen to some feel good songs.

I understand that they need to raise money for the station. The annoying thing for me is that I just wanted to listen to music so that I could calm my soul before walking into work.

The one song they played was God Only Knows by For King and Country. Oh, my goodness that song spoke to my soul. It described how I was feeling right after Mom died.

I’ve included the two different versions of the song. I love both of the versions. Dolly Parton has such an angelic voice that she adds another dimension to the song.

Now, back to my story.

This is something that I actually have felt for a few years. That my story is not known by many people. They see one side of me and that side of me is only a small portion of my book of life. I get frustrated with the phrase White Privilege. I do understand that it does exist and I have benefited a little bit from it because people don’t judge me because I’m white. I’ll take that. However, I was not given anything because I’m white. Instead, I worked hard for it. No one knows except for me and God the story of my late teens/ early 20’s. However, that’s another story for another day.

Today, I’m speaking about the story of the relationship between my mom and myself. Our relationship was not one of me being able to confide in her. I often felt disappointment and sadness because she did not protect me from the people who hurt me physically and mentally. Or the times as an adult, I felt a sense of neglect when she was not there when I needed her most. It’s another story that only God and I know.

While the song played, tears just flowed down my face. Music therapy is so important to me. I believe in listening in music to calm my soul or to find something that I can relate to at that moment in my life. I found a song that described how I was feeling 2 weeks ago and for the days that followed.

When I got to work, I still felt teary eyed so 2 of my co-workers allowed me to cry on their shoulder.

God’s right there when I need him. He lets me know that I am special in his eyes. He lets me know that I am loved. And he let me know that he knows how I feel and it’s okay. It’s now time for me to tell my story so I can help other people who struggle with these same feelings.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Psalms 118:24

       The day after my mom’s death, my aunt and I went to the funeral home. Afterwards, we made memories. We visited Aullwood Garden and just talked. Then I took her to my 2 favorite places in the city – Wegerzyn Garden and Second Street Market. Places I had gone with my mom.

       While at the Second Street Market, we stopped at the one stall to get my cousin a charm. I saw that the charms in this stall were mostly Christian based.

       It was at that moment I decided I needed something to remind me that even with all this chaos in my life that I needed to rejoice that I’m still alive.

       At first, I got this huge bracelet and charm but realized that it would be too much of a bother, so I returned it for a much smaller charm and chain.

       So, what was on the charm that I needed it to remind me to rejoice in the day? It was the name of a book in the Bible with the chapter and verse. No other words.

       The charm says Psalm 118: 24 which reads “This is the day the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

       So simple but also so perfect.

       That Bible verse has been a favorite of mine for almost 30 years.

       In 1990, my youth group decided to go on a mission trip to the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati. Not a good place to be for preteens and teenagers.

       I was 15 years old. Still very naïve about the world because this was before Internet. We learned from word of mouth or experiencing the world.

       Everything had bars on the windows. Doors were constantly locked. No one went anywhere without an adult. It was serious business.

       Anyway, I remember painting in some hallway and singing the song that is reference to that song “This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. And be glad in it,” on repeat.

       That was the moment that that verse began to define my world. Now did I always rejoice every day. No, my next chapter of my life, college years, was not without trouble. I didn’t always rejoice every day. However, it is a verse that has constantly been by my side no matter if I have forgotten it at that moment.

       So now, I have a bracelet with a charm with a simple message. Find something to rejoice about during the day whether small or big. For example, yesterday I could rejoice that I got to see the beautiful leaves as Hubby, and I took a walk through the woods. Or today when an angry child calmed down because I was acting silly. Those are moments that I need to rejoice.

       My path right now is rough. It’s full of rocks and sharp thorns. However, I can look for some beauty along the way.

Have a magical day,
Traci

If I Could Go Any Where for the Holidays

If I had all of the money in the world, I would love to go down to Walt Disney World for Christmas.

I would not want to visit on Christmas Day because it would be way too busy but I would love to visit at some point in December.

Why would I want to go to Disney during the busy holiday season?

Two years ago, I got to see the decorations at some of the different resorts throughout Walt Disney World.  I loved seeing them.  I also got to see some of the holiday decorations outside of each of the parks.  (We didn’t go into any of the parks.)  I would love to see the decorations inside each of the park.  And photograph them.

Also I haven’t been to any of the Christmas parties in Disney.  When we were there 2 years ago, I hoped they would have one but there was none scheduled.  Bummer!

The last time I celebrated Christmas was during my College Program in 1995.  I worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and maybe even New Year’s Day.  I had a visitor during Christmas week and even though we spent time in the park we could not get to Magic Kingdom because it was so busy.  The line for the monorail was all of the way to the entrance.  It would have taken an hour or so to even get on the monorail.

Those are some of the reasons I would love to spend time down in Disney.  The other reason is because honestly December is a hard month for me.  In the last fifteen years, I’ve lost close family members during December – my grandpa in 2003, my grandma in 2008, my father-in-law in 2013, and my father-in-law’s aunt in 2014.  (My grandma’s death was on Christmas Eve.)  

WDW is my happy place.  I’m like a child in a candy store while I’m there.  I put aside all of my worries while I am down there.  In fact, one of the reason I was down there in 2016 was because it was almost 3 months after my sister’s death.  We had planned for a trip to Universal Studios prior to her death.  A month after her death, I was seeing if there was a restaurant reservation available on Thanksgiving.  I luckily found one and a hotel stay for two nights on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  While we were down there, she visited me on Thanksgiving.  (Butterfly)

I would love to just go down there and forget my worries.  

Last year, I shared our local holiday display of Clifton Mill.  They were featured on a national tv show and granted money towards continuing the 30 years of light displays.  

Have a magical day,
Traci

An Impulsive Road Trip

The other day I went to a Mother-Son brunch.  We were asked to list 3 things we did before we had kids.

I forgot to put I took impulsive road trips.  One memorable one was with Tanya on March 30 to April 1, 2002.

I had forgotten when I took the trip until today.

On March 30, I called Tanya and told her to pack her stuff.  I was going to pick her up in an hour.  There was no destination in sight.  It was just us enjoying time together.

We drove to just on I-70 until just past the Illinois border.  Then we stopped for the night.

The next morning was Easter morning.  She was given the choice.  Either we could continue west to St. Louis or we could go north towards Chicago.

She choose going north.  We ended up in Chicago.

Things we did while in Chicago were visiting the Navy Pier.  We found some free parking with a shuttle that took us to the Navy Pier.

We also drove on Lake Shore Drive before continuing to head north towards Wisconsin.

I can remember stopping at a travel station and getting us dinner there.  One memory that sticks out is eating a salad from Burger King.  Don’t know why I remember that little detail.

Once we got to Wisconsin, we stayed in a town called Kenosha.  Since it was Easter, we stopped at their K-Mart and bought our Easter candy.

If you ever watched That 70s Show, they would visit Kenosha in several episodes.

After we woke up the next morning, we drove back home.

It was a nice little impulsive road trip that will forever stay in my mind.  The road trip was a great bonding time for Tanya and I.

10 years later, I would once again visit Kenosha.  This time with Hubby on our second kid free trip.  It’s an interesting little town.

14 years later, I would meet my current pastor.  He’s from Kenosha and was surprised that I had been there.

No photos exist of that road trip.  Just ones in my mind.

The feature photo is from my visit in 2012.

Have a magical day,
Traci