Tag Archives: Death

365 Days Later

2015 sucked. Yes I’m being that blunt. While there were highlights, generally speaking, I couldn’t wait to see 2015 go.

365 days ago, at the exact moment this blog post was published, my family lost its matriarch and I lost one of my best friends. Losing my grandmother shook my family to its core and one year later, all of us are still feeling aftershocks.

While I certainly miss Nana and think about her everyday, her death triggered much more for me. As I watched my mother and aunt tend to her tirelessly, I thought to myself: this is going to be me one day. I will be responsible for my parents and I will have to say goodbye.

It was during this realization that for the first time I actually felt like an adult. As we laid my beautiful Nana to rest and handled the details, I grew up, almost instantaneously.

Grief comes in waves, striking us in the least opportune moments. We can’t control this no matter how much time has passed since the trauma. But what else comes with grief? For me, it brought along a paralyzingly fear. Fear that those I love most would suddenly rise to heaven leaving me here hopeless and terrified. I made decisions based on this irrational fear. It influenced my personal relationships and professional interactions. It consumed me. All the time. Even when I wasn’t aware of it. I’d think I was getting ahead of it only to experience another painful loss that put me right back where I started.

It is only thanks to two of my colleagues who asked some profound questions that got me recognizing this emotion and how it shows up for me. This fear isn’t going away but I am much more aware of how it attacks the most innocent of situations. No matter how petrified I might be, I can’t control destiny. I can’t save anyone. I can live each day making decisions based on my happiness, not my fear.

I share this with you my friends so you know you’re not alone. Whatever you’re feeling after a traumatic event is justified. I’m so glad someone gave me the permission to feel all the feels. It was what I needed. I hope you can too, so we all can begin to heal and move forward.

I am forever grateful to my angel grandmother, for teaching me so many of life’s lessons even from afar.

Feb 2015 370

Book Review: Normal Gets You Nowhere

Note: This post contains explicit language

While on vacation, I read Kelly Cutrone‘s Normal Gets You Nowhere. This is her second book after the wildly popular If You Have to Cry, Go Outside. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, so I’m glad the opportunity presented itself on vacation. I was not disappointed; I couldn’t put the book down and finished before the cruise was over.

Normal Gets You NowhereCutrone’s straightforward attitude shined in this book, as she offers insights on topics including religion, empowering young girls and death. She holds nothing back and provides a fresh perspective on ideas that aren’t frequently challenged. Below are my favorite de-normalizing thoughts from Cutrone with my opinion mixed in.

  • Cutrone starts by telling everyone to figure out how they are sacred, magical and special. This is an individual truth that all must nurture and develop. In her words, “I want you to fuck the Earth with your energy.” We are each responsible for the energy we put out to the universe so we might as well put positive energy out there.
  • Next, she discussed the media and how society is overstimulated with ridiculous distractions. We should be challenging what is fed to us via the media, whether it be through traditional, digital or social channels. People are programmed to not dig deeper; we should ignore that programming and push the envelope.
  • In speaking about empowering young women, Cutrone talks about sexual repression and how we teach young girls to be coy but not how to be honest. Amen! All women should be comfortable talking about sex and empowered to say what they feel versus doing the norm.
  • I LOVED the chapter about holidays: Why celebrate and spend money on days you don’t believe in? Tailor holidays to your personal belief system and only back ideas you firmly believe in.
  • She describes life as a bank account: random acts of kindness and telling truths are the deposits. Kelly CutroneBeing stupid and messing with others are withdrawals. If we give more than we take, we progress. I couldn’t agree more with this concept. It ties back to the energy we put out there – the more good we put out, the more good we shall receive.
  • Your “no matter what” club: The people who you would do anything for, not because they’d do it for but because you want to; because your life would not be the same without them. Sometimes, these people disappoint you and don’t progress as quickly as you do. That is not a reason to discard them. Do not let your ambition get in the way of this group of people.
  • Lastly, Cutrone approaches the topic of death with clarity and vulnerability, speaking about her grandparents’ and father’s passings. As someone who is still grieving, this chapter was hard but necessary to get through. You should plan your death, who’s there and how you want your life to be celebrated. That’s the key – death should be a celebration of someone’s life.

I could write another 500 words about Normal Gets You Nowhere and all of the examples Cutrone provides about why being normal isn’t the best way to live. To that end, I want to thank Kelly Cutrone for putting it out there and challenging the stereotypes. I also want to thank all of the women in my life: my mom, grandmothers, girlfriends and colleagues, who have embraced being different and have lived their lives on their terms versus others.

I highly recommend Normal Gets You Nowhere – you’ll feel inspired to think and live in a more authentic way. If you have read the book, please share your opinions in the comments section!

Upside Down

I started January 2015 with a brand new planner, a series of written-out resolutions and a game plan to make this year the best one yet. Full of good intentions, I resurrected my workout routine and meal prepping, determined to be healthier and happier in 2015.

Then, two weeks into this glorious new year, my world was turned upside down. A loved one passed away. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the first one to experience this and certainly won’t be the last. No matter how much you prepare, even the most type-A person doesn’t know what to do. Plans go out the window. You forgot what the word routine even means. You’re frozen, paralyzed  with a variety of emotions, unsure of how to get yourself unstuck. It’s a very weird place to be.

GreifSo you go through the motions, you say goodbye, then you’re left at home with more food and flowers than Whole Foods. Now what? Yeah, I can’t answer that question for you. I barely can answer it for myself. The few things I do know include:

  • You have to grieve. That’s going to look different for each person. But cry if you need to, yell if you must. Go through pictures and talk about your loved one. Do whatever you need to so you can accept this loss.
  • Listen to your body. True, there is some level of forcing yourself out of the rut you’re in, but your body will tell you what it needs. After a week of Italian cold cuts, my body told me to find a salad!
  • It’s going to look different for each person. When a loved ones dies, those who remain will react in a variety of ways. No two reactions are going to be the same. Just like you have to grieve, so does everyone else.
  • It’s ok to be upside down. Literally, that’s how I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. My mind would wander, I’d experience a wave of emotions all at once. For me, this is not how I operate. I have a schedule, a plan, for each day. Going rouge is not my thing. But, this is a traumatic experience, so I gave myself the permission to go off the grid. This is not an everyday occurrence, so your everyday gameplay won’t work.

I think I’m back to normal. I feel better than I did a week ago and assume I’ll feel even better in a month. This is the new normal and accepting that is the only way to move forward. Having concrete routines in place before all of this did help get me back on track. More about the importance of routines and how to develop them in my next post!

I Want It All

As promised, this 30 Days of Truth Challenge will absolutely end up taking more than 30 days. But, I made a deal with myself and with my friend Amber that I would write about all 30 prompts. That being said, let me introduce you to prompts 5 and 6.

Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.

There is a lot I’d like to do during my lifetime. As usual, it is hard for me to narrow it down to one goal. When I say I want it all,  I am not lying. For me, that is defined by having a successful career and having a family. Being a working mom, in my opinion, is the hardest combination of jobs out there and feels like a lofty goal. Since I was tiny, my mom has balanced this combination. She has excelled in her career and still managed to coach my softball team and have dinner on the table almost every night. I think she did a fantastic job and am glad I had an example of a woman who was career oriented and family oriented at the same time. I know she struggled with it, as many women do. I see it everywhere: women who are passionate about their careers and adore their families. It becomes quite the balancing act.

careermomsSuccess has a different definition for each individual. When I think about what I hope to accomplish in my lifetime, about what success means to me, I think about striking that balance between professional and mom. I want to be able to want to go to work everyday, feeling passionate about what I do and making an impact in some way. At some point, I absolutely want my own PR firm and maybe even a charity organization. I want a family, to raise my kids and help mold them into happy, responsible adults. I already know the balance will have to shift and I won’t get it right everyday. But when I see my future, this is the vision I have for myself.

I’ve always thought about what I want to do in life, but never about something I don’t want to do. Sure, there are jobs I won’t ever want or foods I’ll never eat. But those are small things when you think about your life. After thinking long and hard, I realized I don’t want to ever see someone die. I know this is probably going to happen regardless of my opinion. I don’t want to see someone take their last breath and I especially don’t want to make the life or death decision for someone else. I’m sure one day I will have to make that painful decision for a loved one, to choose their destiny for them. But, if I could escape life without witnessing death, I would.

What do you hope to do during your life? Anything you absolutely wish you won’t have to do? Please share with me!

Family Fridays: We Must Remember

The amount of tragedy that has occurred in the month of December is incomprehensible. Too many lives have been lost. There were still dreams to be achieved, birthdays to celebrate and memories to be made. One short week ago, the nation was rocked by the devastation in Newtown, Connecticut. I will never be able to grasp why babies were sent to heaven too soon. As a big sister with siblings in elementary school, I cannot begin to think about that and immediately called my siblings when I heard the news.

Tragedy and heartbreak do not choose when to strike. On Tuesday morning, my 45-year-old cjoeousin, a father of two young boys, had a massive heart attack and passed away. He will be missed by many but in his death, all of us should be reminded how short life is. Like all those lives lost in Connecticut, his life was cut short and heaven gained another angel just too soon.

So what do we do now? It is hard to come to terms with all that has happened in just the last week. But in order to move forward and honor these angels’ memories, we must properly grieve. The Metro had a helpful article earlier this week about how to handle such grief and tragedy.

memorial 1. Honor your feelings: Most people try to suppress what they feel. However, that is probably the most unhealthy thing to do. It is okay to cry, to be angry or to be alone. Do whatever you have to so your feelings are fully expressed.

2. Set loving intentions: The hardest part for me in such tragedies is that there isn’t anything I can do. I am a doer and always feel the need to fix things. Death and tragedy are not things that can be fixed. But, by setting intentions, prayers or moments of silence for the victims, I am doing something to honor their memory.

3. Be kinder to everyone: Hug your loved ones a little tighter. Call your grandparents. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them. Thank your parents for raising you right. Do something to pay it forward and remind those you care about how important they are to you. Practice being kinder to everyone in your life including strangers.

Ultimately, the best thing we can do to honor these fallen angels is to never forget what happened and to learn from this horrific tragedy. Life has been put into perspective and the little things that are stressed over are now insignificant. May all of these new angels rest in peace and let us never forget them.

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