I'm coming to you my lovely bloggy friends, with a plea this morning. I can't believe I haven't asked you all sooner. So, here we go.

The lovely Taryn Davis was nominated as a 2011 CNN Hero. We are all so proud of her and all that she does for us military widows and it would be nice to see her and the American Widow Project win this year. Winning would mean a grant of a large sum of money, which would help the organization plan more trips, reach more widows, etc etc. I can't say exactly what will be done with the money, of course, but I know it will be used to support more widows and to plan getaways.

Now, one thing I don't think a lot of people realize about the getaways is that AWP picks up all expenses minus travel to and from for each of the trips. That's right, each widow that goes only has to pay her own way to get there. Some getaways, like the one in Kennebunk, we are lucky that people make generous donations and take care of us but that is not always the case, and those over at the AWP pick up the tab so the 12-15 widows on the trip can relax, be with other widows, and heal - worry free.

I think it's easy to see then, that the grant offered by the CNN Heroes would be sooo very beneficial to the organization as a whole, thus all military widows who desire to get involved.

It is very easy to vote, you just go this link here, and you can do it with an email address or connect through facebook (I do it that way, fast and easy). You can vote 10 times per day. Please consider voting, it's just a few clicks of your mouse, and passing on so others can vote, too.

I found out today that I was drawn to be one of the guests to actually attend the awards show in LA in December with Taryn and a few other widows and I am so excited and honored to be able to attend this awards show. It is rad that I'm going but it would be way super much more cooler (like that grammar?!) if we won on top of it. So please, if you have a couple seconds to spare, just head on over and vote. Do it for the widows!!

Why Is It So Hard?

I could whine. I could whine about how hard everything seems to be lately. But I just don't want to. I think it's this time of year. For some reason, fall kicks my ass, and I am a total negative nancy. I want to whine but I don't. I want to complain, and kick and scream and throw a tantrum. I want to tell all the people who I'm pissed off at right now how mad I am. I want to tell people that are hurting me how badly they are, even though I'm sure they aren't hurting me intentionally and probably haven't the slightest clue. I'm being sensitive. And stupid.

Why is it so hard to be motivated? Why can't I just focus and get things done? Instead I'd rather run and hide... or sleep until June. None of which is an option. I feel vulnerable lately. I hate that feeling. I'd rather feel in control and I just... don't. And putting it here in the open, I suppose that makes me more vulnerable but it somehow helps. I don't know, makes no sense.

Why is so hard for people to just accept I am the way I am. I'm sorry my "circumstances" inconvenience you or make you feel uncomfortable. I'm sorry "we have different lives now." I'M SORRY THIS HAPPENED. If I could, trust you me, I would take it all back. In a heart beat. You don't think I wish every. single. day. I could have my life back? Unfortunately, I do, but all the wishing and hoping in the world isn't going to change it.

I have to make the best of what I have now. I have to or else I might just fall apart. I have to appreciate what I have, take the opportunities I'm given, hold my head as high as I can and keep trucking.

I'm sorry I'm a fucking lunatic just about every other day. My emotions go from 0-happy-hate in .32 seconds. You think I want to feel this way? You think I like this? I'm working as hard as I can to be normal, to be even, to just... be.

Instead of bailing on me, or writing me off, you should probably man up and face that death is a part of life. And so is sadness. And so is a little insanity. We've all been nuts before. We've all had our days. I'm doing my best but I'm worn out. Expressing my feelings right now is almost fruitless because there are just too many.

No, I'm not "over it." No, I'm not "better." Yes, I'm dating. Yes, I still love and miss him. Yes, it still hurts. Like a motherfucker. Yes, I'm still grieving even though I can laugh. Yes, I still need support. No, I'm not going to ask for it. I want to be strong, but it's impossible to be a brick wall all the time. Today, I'm a sponge. Soft and sad and smelly and full of holes.

I just want to scream. On a side note, mother nature, you're a bitch. Like I don't have enough emotions on a regular basis to deal with.

Sorry for the profanity, it's raw and it's real and it is what it is.

Kennebunk, ME loves Widows

And we love Kennebunk!!!

The weekend of October 14 - 17, I spent in Kennebunk, Maine with the AWP at an inner peace getaway. It was certainly a weekend to remember, as are all the AWP trips I've been on. This organization is such a God send to a military widow and I am so thankful something like this exists.

I've spoke of the American Widow Project before (probably quite a few times) but in case you didn't know, AWP is an organization created by Taryn Davis that is by military widows, for military widows. It's a peer-to-peer org and it's main focus is getaway trips where widows can go and be with other widows and for a few days at least, just be widows without having to worry about... well, anything (you can read my article on Taryn and the AWP in DStripped Magazine). My first AWP trip was to Tybee Island, near Savannah Georgia. I was 5 months into my widow journey at the time, and it was my first leap into accepting my new "W" status. I met so many awesome ladies at the first trip and had such an excellent time that before I was even home I was looking forward to the time I'd get to go again.

A little over a year later, I was headed to my second trip. As you may have seen in a previous post, it was full of travel debacles, but I made it. I entered into a house filled with widows, some familiar faces, some new ones, and I instantly felt at home. That feeling of belonging that I so often fight with - where do I fit? - the question just disappears for me on AWP getaways, because I fit and belong with these women. For one weekend at a time, I get to be surrounded by gals that totally get me, that completely understand this journey and it's amazing.

The trip to Kennebunk was full of amazing surprises.
First, I want to thank Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and the people who live there for being so accomodating and hospitable to us. We stayed with a lovely woman, Sue, in her gorgeous home. She went out of her way to make sure we felt welcomed and at home, and I know thank you is not nearly enough to express my gratitude to Sue.

Because of my travel issues, I arrived late in the evening, and missed the lobster bake, but I heard it was wonderful and the ladies were so excited to learn how to pick and eat their own lobsters. There were plenty of delicious leftovers to fill me and my travel buddy's tummies upon our late arrival. Then we spent the rest of the evening chatting and catching up.

The next morning, we woke up early and took a small school bus to HB Provisions for a delicious breakfast, completely donated to us by the owners. The food was soooo yummy, I had a complete breakfast (eggs, ham, hasbrowns) on a bagel. I could probably live off that sandwich for the rest of my life. We met George H. Bush the scarecrow. After breakfast we headed into the little bus for our first surprise. We were escorted onto the Bush family compound and spent the morning with former president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara. They were absolutely wonderful. It felt like we'd already known them, they were so warm and friendly, not at all like you might expect political leaders to be. Their property was breathtaking and I'm planning on moving in next summer (ok, not really, but a girl can dream, right?!).

After our meet and greet with the Bush's it was back to Sue's house for a quick breather before we met with author Ellen Sue Stern (Elle) for a writing exercise. Elle helped us get deep with ourselves by prompting us to write. I highly enjoyed this part, and learned quite a few new things about myself and my own grieving process. It was great to share with the other gals and be encouraged to feel things that I hadn't realized I had been feeling. It's so nice to be able to talk about these things with grief and have those grieving right next to you to hold your hand and give you a hug of support and love. It was emotional, but it was much needed and I'm thankful for the adorable little journals Taryn had made for each of us to bring my new written feelings home with me.

A CNN camera crew spent the majority of the weekend with us, as Taryn has been selected as one of CNN's Heroes of the Year (go vote for her!!) and our weekend will be included in a segment on the awards show on December 11. After our writing and reflection time, we did some interviews with CNN and had some quality girl time before getting ready for dinner. We had dinner in a fancy little Italian restaurant with delicious food (where Porto was on the dessert menu!) and had a trolley car take us there!

The next morning, we woke early for our surfing lessons! Yup, I went surfing in the ocean in October in Maine. The frigidity of the water on my face reminded me that I am alive! I don't think I've had anything make me feel that alive and invigorated in a long time. Aquaholics, the local surf shop, hooked us up with our surf gear as well as over a dozen surfers to instruct us. I was paired up with Mark who was super encouraging. I actually stood up THREE times! I face planted quite a few as well, but let's focus on the positive. Of course, I can't find a photo for proof but believe me, I stood (might not have been for long, but I HAVE surfed and can cross off another thing on my bucket list!) After surfing we prepared for the Wicked 5K, a 5K Race where people wear Halloween costumes. Taryn and I dressed as scarecrows and biked through town. I felt like a kid again, and it was fun to be totally carefree and just laugh.

Dinner that night was hosted at Beverly's house, a lovely Kennebunk resident who owns the antique shop in town. We were each given gift bags with items from the shops in town. It was clear the people of the town really went out of their way to show us their appreciation for our sacrifice. My favorite part of the bags were the hand written notes that people who donated included. Notes of encouragement and thanks, from complete strangers who just wanted us to know we are appreciated and loved. Thank you Kennebunk, I can't express how much those bags really mean!

Beverly's friend Martha cooked for us that evening and it was a delicious gourmet meal. I decided Beverly's house in Maine on the beach was my dream house and didn't really want to leave (haha).

That evening, we went back to Sue's and had smores by the fire. We all went around and told every other person what we learned from them that weekend. Many people told me they appreciated my humor and how I keep people laughing. It may seem like nothing or silly to some, but that's one of the biggest compliments I can receive. I love to make people laugh and smile, especially a group of people who might need a few more giggles in their lives. I always think if you're not laughing you'll just go through life crying and who wants to spend their time crying. I thank each and every widow at the getaway that weekend for showing me something new, and touching my heart. The bonds of widowhood are thick. No one wants to be part of this life but having you women by my side makes it much more bearable.

I think outsiders looking in would be surprised by the amount of laughs that we shared that weekend. You might imagine a group of widows to be a sad thing to observe. Sure, we cried. Sure, we hugged and had "moments." But the thing I remember most of the weekend is how much we laughed, how freely we were silly, and how much we all embraced life together. From death we have risen and are finding new ways to embrace life, survive, and thrive.

To each person who was at this getaway, thank you. Thank you for finding the strength to accept your "W" and be there with us. Thank you for accepting that you are alive and choosing to live and to laugh. Thank you for sharing your stories and your husbands with all of us. Thank you for letting each of our heroes live on through our stories and our laughter and our vivaciousness. Thank you for letting me just be me. Thank you, with all my heart.

I Already Failed

Ok so I already failed the NaBloPoMo and have not posted every day since I started (and I started late - double fail). Booooooo. I'm a loser. In my defense I was on the road most of the day yesterday so blogging was nearly impossible. Anyway, let's talk about today.

So today, I'm heading up to Maine (I typed that "Marine" at first - clearly my brain is stuck lol!) this weekend for an American Widow Project getaway. I'm super excited because widow time is just excellent for the soul. I'm excited not only to see friends I haven't gotten to see in a while, but to meet new ladies, enjoy being able to talk about the journey of widowhood with people who have "been there - done that" and don't look at me like I'm nuts, and be in Maine in the fall! Oh autumn in New England, you can't beat it!!

Today has been interesting though. I should have been there by now. In fact, I should have been there 4 hours ago. But instead, I am sitting in BWI typing this here post. Why, you ask? Well, because I think I have poop luck, that's all I can say to explain it!

My dad drove, and Z came along, to drop me off at the airport. We left in plenty of time to get here in time, but of course there were 4 accidents on the highway. Traffic was mostly stopped. My flight was supposed to leave at 245 and we arrived at the airport at 222. I went to the ticket counter and it turns out I could fly, but my bag could not because it was after baggage check time. I tried to see if my bag could just catch a later flight and of course that wasn't happening and there was no way I was getting my huge bag on the plane carry-on style. So, standby on the next flight it was. And of course, the next flight doesn't leave until 935 tonight. Sigh.

So, dad, Z, and I went out and had some lunch at Panera. It's really weird because when Jonathan left from here to NC, I drove him down and accidents kept us from being on time that day, too. He and Brad missed their flight and once it was worked out with their officers and they secured a later flight, we had lots of time to burn. We went and had lunch - at Panera - and then went to Loafers, a bar near there and had some drinks. That's where Jonathan dropped to one knee and proposed to me. I thought about that a lot today as history slightly repeated itself. Except this time no Jonathan and certainly no proposal. Just accidents, traffic, late flights, and Panera. It was good remembering though. In fact, it didn't make me sad, it made me happy remembering it and telling dad and Z the story.

Anyway, we had our lunch then swung by my college on the way back to the airport because I had to pee so bad. I went in to one of the academic buildings and did my pee thing and of course was then remembering my college days, too. Again, happy memories. Finally got to the airport at 530 because I couldn't check my bags or head to the gate until 4 hours before the flight. Go to check my bag and what do you know - my bag was 13.5 pounds overweight.

Here's what happened... you see, I have a huge problem making decisions. Currently, my suitcase holds clothing suitable for 4 different states, 4 different reasons to be there, 4 different climates. Because during this trip to MD, I'll also be traveling to Maine, New York, and Los Angeles. Well, I started going through the suitcase but didn't want to leave anything behind... just in case. Then, I wanted all my shoes (6 or 7 pair... plus the pair I'm wearing) to travel with me... just in case. I never know what I'm going to feel like wearing! So, I packed it all. Plus toiletries. Then, two carry on items - my diaper bag which had my laptop and some Jonny items in it, and my purse. I get to the counter, get told I'm 13.5 lbs overweight and I begin... "rearranging."

Let's just say I'm a magician and you should probably call me Mary Poppins. Because you know what? I did it! I found a home for all 13.5 lbs in my carry on baby bag and purse! The guy at the counter even gave a hoot and let me know how impressed he was. I'm carrying on 3 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans, a sweater, 2 DStripped magazines and one of my blog books in addition to what I was already carrying on. And it is HEAVY. But I am feeling like a champion. Now, if only I could just get on this stinking plane and head to Maine... Still an hour and a half to wait, and have to wait through standby because I'm not guaranteed a seat!
Thank you, Photobooth, for keeping me entertained, even if I do look like a lunatic to by-standers

Oi, what a day. All I can say is I'm glad I'm used to sitting in airports. I'm entertaining myself with the interwebs (which here in BWI costs money - ew) and doing a little worky work. I am sooo ready for some serious widow time, I'll probably be even more crazierwsee, it's setting in already) than normal by the time I get there!


Did you know... it is National Blog Posting Month? Yeah, I didn't either. But now that I do know, I'm sooo participating. I signed up over at BlogHer to get involved (my profile is still pending approval at this time), I think it will be neat to try to blog once a day for the (rest of the) month. I'm a little behind but I will work my hardest to be a daily poster for the rest of the month! You will all be tired of hearing from me, I'm sure.

So I guess I should do a real post now instead of just saying I'm going to post everyday, huh?

Well, today is the day that the boyfriend is finished with the Marine Corps. That's right, his terminal leave starts today. In fact, he should be heading back to the house any minute now. I'm both excited and a little nervous. Excited because we'll be able to do what we want and not have to wait for leave to be approved but nervous because we're not sure what he's going to do next and because I don't really remember how it works in civilian world. In the military world, you're united with other spouses/significant others by situation. You're all in this together and you seem to make friends by circumstance. You make battalion friends, deployment friends, etc etc. How do people make friends in civilian world? Work? School? Still living in Jacksonville this isn't a big issue, but if we end up moving like we've discussed, I'll have to make friends (unless I move back home... then I've got friends there ;D) So it's all a bit exciting, a new endeavor, but nerve wracking none the less. Here's to a new adventure!

What else is going on... well we had a nice awesome weekend. Maggie was here with her 2 kids so Ariana had lots of opportunity to PLAY! We had an awesome Pampered Chef party and I would like to give a HUGE thanks to everyone who ordered. I made my goal and will be able to get the deep covered baker for 60% off!! I'm pretty excited about that. I also enjoyed lots of time with Mags, it's not often I get to see her and there was lots to catch up on.

Ariana has gotten to be quite the diva. I can't believe how fast she is growing. I know everyone told me it would go by so quickly but I'm still astounded how fast she's growing and how smart she is. I recently had to give her her first hair cut. Her bangs were in her eyes and she wouldn't let me put clips in so a bang trim it was. At first, I'll admit, I wasn't a huge fan because they were a little short however now I think they are super cute! She sat so still for her cut too, just watching mommy with the sheers! She's such a big girl :)

It's nearing lunch and nap time so I'm going to head out of here, but expect more from me later!

Some Responses

Hey there frans.
First, I want to encourage everyone on blogger to please, please PLEASE make sure your settings are so I can respond to you via email if you leave me a comment. I love responding back to people but lately I haven't been able to respond to many because it comes up "No-reply" and that makes me sad. But because a couple people had some pretty good questions, I'm using this post to reply to two comments I recently got, that maybe others are wondering as well.
Mrs. Y and ArmyWife88, this post is for you!

Mrs. Y commented about the Pampered Chef Party I'm hosting on Saturday, "If you give me the link (and it can be shipped to me) I will buy something from your party. I live in Norfolk and getting married on Friday and can't make the drive down. Saturday we are doing Fleet week here (no not part of our honeymoon we are waiting for that)."

I would love love love if anyone interested wanted to order online. The link is: www.pamperedchef.biz/maggiekeelty and just click on "Shop Online" and enter me as your hostess (Rachel Porto). Thanks to any and every one who makes online orders! It gets shipped directly to your home, a neat thing about Pampered Chef, so you don't have to worry about me shipping it and finding out where you live! MWAH HA HA (kidding) but fo-reals, if you're interested, there's how you can do a little easy shoppy-shoppy and help me get some cool free stuff for hosting a party and help out my girl Maggie!

ArmyWife88 left a comment with a question I thought was very interesting, a little bit deep, and I have no problem addressing, "I was just wondering if it was weird to go from calling you're spouse husband to calling your new spouse boyfriend? I hope this doesn't come off as rude just curious :) Love the pics by the way!!"

Definitely doesn't come off as rude, at least not to me. I'm pretty open when it comes to things like this, and I like to share my experiences, so feel free to ask away (and if/when someone asks something that is rude, don't worry, I'll let ya know). Anyway, the short answer to the question is Yes. I was, of course, a girlfriend and then a fiancee before I was a wife. But the last thing I was was a wife. Going back to girlfriend was definitely a weird jump. Especially, for me anyway, in the military life. As many of the significant others know, a girlfriend or fiancee to someone in the military doesn't really amount to much whereas the spouse is "more important" by so many eyes (not always fair, but let's face it, that's typically how it goes). When I was the girlfriend/fiancee to Jonathan, I could barely get any information unless it was via Jonny and even then they (they being his command, not inclusive to him) didn't want to keep me in the loop very much. But I found once we were married it changed and I had much more access to information and support. I know that Family Readiness does support any kind of SO but I didn't really know that before because it wasn't really made known to Jonathan when I was "just" his fiancee. Now being Z's girlfriend, it's kind of the same thing, I don't really know what's going on unless I ask Z. The difference this time though, is that I'm not as invested in it. I'm sure some people are going to take this wrong and it's certainly nothing against Z but it's kind of a "been there, done that" type attitude. I've already been a wife, I already know what goes on, I've already done all that and I don't quite have the desire to be as involved as I once was, as far as his battalion goes. I certainly still like to be involved in military causes, more so now on the widow end, but when it comes to his work I'm just kind of like ehh he'll let me know when things are important. Also, he's getting out (terminal leave likely to start this week or Monday!!!) so it's not like there's anything really to be involved in anymore.

As far as just the terminology, it is weird saying boyfriend again too. Sure, I wasn't a wife for that long (he died when we'd been married 10 months) but once you're a wife, you expect to be a wife forever and that to be your last title. No one expects to again become girlfriend. I am surprised that I don't really slip with it though, don't accidentally call Z the "H word." That's probably because when I think "Husband" I think Jonathan. Period. Maybe one day that will change and I'm sure that will be a new obstacle in and of itself but for now, Jonny's the husband, Z is the boyfriend and boy when I talk about the both of them interchangeably in public the looks I get! Haha.

So there ya have it, a little Q and A with Mrs P. If there's anything you might be wondering, please don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'm working on a widow resources list (I know I have the inspiration quotes, but this is going to be resources and support) because I am often asked questions like "How do I help my friend go through this time?" or approached by 'newer' widows and I'd really like to have something put together that I can direct people to in order to help those starting this journey, so stay tuned for that.

Happy Hump Day everyone!


My boyfriend is back! Woo hoo!!!!! He's actually been back for 4 days but I've been a bit busy *wink wink* No, seriously, it's been kind of insane around these parts.

A couple days before he came home, I headed down to Beaufort, SC to spend a couple days with one of my bestest friends from back in the day, Maggie. Her home was so beautiful and she had awesome Halloween decorations and it was just so nice to finally get down there to see her. I got a tour of Beaufort and all it's historical-ness (the south is so awesome when it comes to that, isn't it?) as well as a tour of Parris Island. The highlight of the tour was getting to see a DI yell at some recruits. That was basically awesome. We also went on a mini hike, saw some gators, and ate at an interesting restaurant with a very interesting waitress. Haha. It was a great visit!

Z got home on Friday, I picked him up from where he was working so I wouldn't miss one second with him. Of course we got lost on the way home but it was so awesome that he was next to me that I really didn't mind. I was really surprised because I thought Ariana would be weird, she's going through the stranger danger phase and it was almost 3 months he was gone, but she lit up when she saw him. Smiled and started pointing. On Saturday I had the surprise for Z - his mommy flew in from Wisconsin for just the night! Since Z is getting out of the Corps any day now, it was a good time for his mom to come and visit because she hadn't seen where he'd been living yet and he might not be living in JVille much longer! (who knows for certain, though, haha).

It certainly has been a good 4 days having him home. Ariana seems to be pretty stoked he's back too, she just kinda stands near him all the time. And now because I am a fan of lists I will list some reasons it's great to have him back

  1. I am sleeping again. I sleep much, much better with him by my side
  2. There is a pot roast cooking in the slow cooker as I type this
  3. Ariana is smiling (not that she wasn't before, but extra smiles are extra good)
  4. I'm not the only one changing poopy diapers
  5. I am laughing a lot more
  6. He just makes me haaapppppyyyyy
Play time already!

And here are reasons he is a turd
  1. He makes me go to bed early (ok not make, but he says my not sleeping is not healthy and begs me to go to bed by 1130/12. YIKES! It's actually really good but I still complain about it!!)
  2. He farts. And smells.
  3. That's really all I have, I'm super glad to have him back. I could have gone on longer with the "Yay" list but I'm not trying to make anyone barf.
I'm also glad that he is who he is, because right now is a tough time for me and he is so patient and understanding with me and my emotions. Ha he's more understanding with my emotions than I am most the time haha.
What would I do without him to style my hair for me?

Tonight we'll be going to the Onslow County Fair. I've gone every year that I've been living in JVille. I'm pretty excited. And I'm hoping I can get Ariana on some rides without being terrified like she was in Disney!

Also, just a quick note, I'm having a pampered chef party at my house (in Jacksonville) on Saturday. If any of my bloggy friends in the area would like to come, please let me know and I'll give you the details, the more the merrier!!!

Stay connected with Mrs P via facebook and twitter

Copyright © 2014 | Designed by: Broken Road Creative