Sad, Stress, Accomplishment

How's everyone's 2012 going? Great, I hope!
Mine has been interesting. I feel like that is just the word for me - interesting. Had I chosen that for 2012, I'd be on a roll.
So far, the mission of peace hasn't been quite successful, but that's ok, I've still got some time.
Moving, well, it's just not peaceful. I do feel accomplished, however, as I've gotten so much done to get my butt up to Maryland and eventually, hopefully, into our new home. Just keep truckin' that's all I can do, and eventually I'll be there!

This past week has been pretty rough. I tried blogging but I just didn't like it, so it's saved somewhere in my drafts, maybe for edit and posting later, maybe just for myself. Part of 1/6 (Jonathan's unit) has come back. It's always great knowing more of his guys are back again. But man, it hurts so damn much. It's hard to keep away those feelings of "This would have been his deployment, too." and of course the ever present "I wonder what homecoming feels like. I bet it's the best feeling in the world." I sometimes sit and think about homecomings. What it must be like to miss and worry about your love for 7 (give or take) long months and then to finally be in their arms again. God, that must be fantastic. Sigh. Only in my dreams. And one day, in Heaven. But until then... keep truckin'.

With that, add Ariana's birthday around the corner. For some reason, Ariana's birthday sends me into another tail spin. Last year, late at night (her bday party was great, don't worry I won't let my grief ruin anything for her), I had a horrible break down after her birthday party. I just missed him so much and it kills me to think how much he's missing. His little girl is growing up without him and it breaks my heart. At least it comforts me to know that she still does have him and he is always with us, I just wish in a more physical way.

Maybe I have started down my road of peace by feeling my grief, letting it encompass me. And when I feel the need, letting the tears and the sobs come. Maybe that's all part of it, is being at peace that yes, I am sad. And no, I don't have to hide it or be the strong one 100% of the time.

But yes, the stress of moving, I do believe, is another factor in my craziness lately. Buying a house + moving is insane. Now I know why people say buying a house is the most stressful thing they've ever done - because it is super stressful! No Lie. At least TMO has been helpful and it looks like the move is all set (read about my experience with TMO Thursday at 12:15 on YouServed) so that is one stress factor off my back, but I don't think I'll be able to really woosah until we are in the house and done with all this packing, moving, cleaning, planning stuff. Oi. Then I want to sit and do nothing the entire month of February (we all know that's not going to happen).

So, yes. I'm sad, I'm stressed, but hey, I'm still here and I'm still truckin'!

How was your week? What have you over come this week? And of course, any tips on stress management are very welcome.


Hey all, I just wanted to make a quick note that I have been invited to post over at YouServed, an awesome blog sponsored by the VA Mortgage Center with a really great crew. They talk about all kinds of military (and some non-military) things, and are really great people. It would awesome if you went and not only checked out my intro post (there will be more to follow) but the whole site as a whole. AND an added bonus, mine and Mandy's panel from Blog World LA 2011 has been posted. That's right - head to YouServed to see the whole panel!

New Year's Resolutions: Peace

I don't usually "do" New Years Resolutions. Why? Because I always break them. If I want to make a change, why not do it whenever it's needed, instead of when it's expected? I've recently been on this get-healthy kick, which I suppose can be incorporated into a resolution, as I want it to continue through 2012 and, well, life. But, I started it before the New Year. I think I'll be more resolved (get it, get it?) to stick to it having started it before the day I was "supposed" to. It's been fun, challenging, and interesting. I've been feeling better and healthier which has made me much happier. I feel like I'm being a better mom by taking care of myself better. How can you take care of someone else if you don't really take care of yourself (ok, you can, but still, you should be at your peak to take care of someone else, that's the point I'm making)? So, the family as a whole has gotten healthy and I think it's going to be a great year for our bodies!

I have been reading a lot of other people's resolutions, though, being inspired by what people want to focus on for the upcoming year. I came across an awesome quote concerning New Years Resolutions that I want to share. SpouseBuzz recently featured a post, Most Miserable MilSpouse Wins, discussing the "my life is worse" debate that often raises up amongst milspouses - who has it worse? While it was a very interesting, and true article, it's not exactly what I'm writing about right now. The first comment on the post is what really grabbed me. S2 HH6 posted:
A few years ago, I chose to quit making resolutions and instead opted for the "One Word" for the year. In earlly January, I begin praying for my "One Word" from God for the year as a way to focus on the positive rather than the negative words that can wreck a whole year. This has really helped me. Maybe it will help others too. For me it is a process and not me choosing one word to work on like a resolution, but rather a process of reflection and enlightenment through prayer. My "One Word" for 2012 is still in the reflection stage... maybe Thoughtful, Thankful, Love, Mercy, Grace, Renewal... we are about 9 months into an Afghanistan deployment and so ready for any of these! Prasing God in the process.

I was immediately struck by this. What an awesome theory. It was like a lightbulb went on in my head, and as soon as I read the comment, I had my word. Peace. That's it, it came to me, and I'll take that as my sign, handed to me from God because I've been asking Him for some guidance, my word for 2012 is simply peace.

I truly believe that 2012 is going to be a journey of peace for me. I've been saying for some time that I really want to cool my jets, settle down a bit. Not stretch myself or my family so thin, stop the constant running around I was doing the end of 2011. Reach a state of peace where I can just sit and not have to run away from the quiet that frightens me so. 
I try to focus on the good in my life. I've got a lot of it. I'm surrounded by people who love me, I have the most beautiful daughter, I've got an understanding and loving boyfriend, friends that would do anything for me, and I can't even begin to describe how amazing my family is. So, I choose to focus on positivity, it's there and I want to see it. That doesn't mean that the sadness and the pain aren't still here, lurking in the corners, coming out when I least expect it.

People have said to me that I've moved on, that I'm not sad anymore. I don't think they mean ill of it (at least not the ones I'm thinking of right now) but it's not true. I just try not to show it anymore. I don't want people reading my blogs and facebook posts and seeing a girl who pities herself. I want them to see a girl who still chooses to see the happiness after she thought it was gone. There aren't many who are privy to the Rachel meltdowns anymore. I keep those mostly for me (and well Z, he gets to see all of them... I really don't know how that man does it). I work through them. I pray, I yell, I cry. And then when it's done, I think of all I've got, I push forward.

I'm haunted. I don't ever permanently shake those feelings of sadness. My stomach still sinks daily when I think of Jonathan and the simple heartbreaking fact that he really is not here. My heart still misses him, almost constantly. I still endlessly wish he were here and am always wondering what my life could have been, but I can't let that take over my life.

I think part of the time I'm focusing on the postivity though, I'm also running from the sadness (we're getting back to the peace - I promise). I'm keeping busy so during the day I don't have time to feel sadness. I go from place to place so I can't settle into the dark shadows lurking in those corners. As long as I'm moving, my brain is moving, and the sad feelings are less likely to take over. I can push them back.

So in 2012, I think it'll be time to accept peace. I've accepted that my life is the way it is. Grief comes in cycles. I'm convinced that whole grief steps... stages... whatever... is bullshit. I'm sorry, but it's not like that, at least not for me. One day I accept it, the next I'm raving mad, it's whatever my body and mind and heart want to be at any given time, not some preset stages. If that were the case, I really would be "over it" by now not. I won't ever be, and those grieving know that's just the way it goes. But what I can do, is stop running from it. Accept it. Find peace in my sorrow. Find peace in knowing that I am not alone. Find peace in all the positivity instead of the guilt that, yes, still does creep in more often than you may think. Settle down. Clear my head. Woosaa and accept peace into my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul. Maybe, if I do that, I won't be so stressed out, too. Because I am wound tighter than an 8 day clock most days! 

So there it is, my one word, after so many in this post, is peace.

What's your word for this year, that great 2012?!

Catchin Up Parte Dos

So, before I get into December I must hit rewind back to November because I totally forgot something. BLOG WORLD! My bad, dudes. I was thinking it was in December. So, I fill y'all in on Blog World and then move to December. Maybe one day I'll be finished catching up and be able to post about new things (maybe).

So blog world. The most amazing thing about Blog World and Social Media Expo 2011 (better known as BWE) is that I got to do it with one of my best friends, Mandy. We were on a panel on the military track called "Blogging Through Loss." It was our first trip to LA and it was great to have some widow time with Mandy while doing something productive and crossing something off her bucket list - public speaking.

I'll be honest, our speech wasn't that big of a hit. I think because it was sadly named "Blogging Through Loss" and let's face it - who wants to sit and listen to people talk about sad things. But, those who didn't come found out from those who did they missed a great panel (if I do say so myself). We had our audience laughing. We talked about how blogging has helped us cope, some of the downfalls, and some of the craziness that is the life of a widow. It was fun.
Some of the MilSpouse crew went to dinner at the Stinking Rose in Hollywood

There were a couple of mixer parties we enjoyed during the extended weekend there and we got to do a lot of networking.  I might some more folks from the milblogging community and made some awesome connections. I just have to give a quick shout out to the milblogging community - you guys are the bomb! I can not wait to find out when the next MilBlog Conference is because I really, really want to be there and I hope to meet many of you there as well.
How could anyone have passed up a panel with these awesome speakers??

We enjoyed some really nice dinners (Roy's Asian Infusion - Holy bagoly how yummy!) as well as attending others' panels and learning some really cool insights to blogging and social media.
Visiting the HipSwap booth with the awesome mustaches!

Onward to December...
The first part of December was spent in Maryland yet again. We worked on some house hunting. Yup, that's right. I've finally made the decision of where to settle down, and it's back in my home state of Maryland. I'll go into more of that later, I'm not discussing too much because I don't want to jinx anything (hint, hint).Oh hell, I'm gonna tell you all about it at the end of the post. Read on.

Anyhoo, then, I head to Los Angeles again for the 2011 CNN Hero Awards. Taryn Davis of the American Widow Project was nominated as one of the top ten 2011 CNN Heroes and a group of widows, including myself, got to attend. It was basically awesome. I got to spend a weekend with widows, some old friends, some new, in LA celebrating the organization that brought us all together. We got all dressed up for the awards and went and watched an awards show live - how cool and what an opportunity (thank you Taryn!). Then, we celebrated my 25th (errr... 4th anniversary of my 24th, please) birthday, while celebrating the awards at a little after shindig at Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes. Super cool.

 Allison and I rockin' the red carpet

Taryn and J.R. Martinez on stage at the awards show

Super cheese face after the gals surprised me with my birthday brownie and a loud happy birthday.
To the right is one of the producers of the show I'd been chatting with and was
bringing him to introduce to Allison. He had recognized me from staring
at my face while editing the video footage - I thought he was just nice when
he said HEY! but really he thought he knew me. Same with Allison because he'd been looking
at us for so long. Kind of random, but super cool.

Awesome panoramic shot of all of us being goofy - such a cool pic, credit to Allison!

After LaLaLand, A, Z and I headed, once again, back to NC. I was going to stay in MD for a bit longer but we had actually ended up finding a house we liked and needed to get things moving down in NC and find paperwork in order to finish up on the contract we put in. I also really wanted to have Christmas at my own house, so I could decorate.

Unfortunately, the house we'd liked that I did end up putting an offer in on, fell through. It was heartbreaking to say the least. It was so difficult because it was everything I had imagined my home could be. It had all the right elements and I was in love. But alas, all things happen for a reason and I took that as a sign that this just wasn't the house for us.

Christmas in North Carolina was pretty awesome. Z and I enjoyed decorating the house and getting the holiday spirit in full gear. I've never gotten to do my own house before, so even though our decorations were somewhat minimal, they were still my/our own and I was very proud. I ended up making a lot of DIY stuff, too, which was really cool. In fact, mom and dad's gifts from A and I were DIY and they loved them.
Christmas Eve we had some friends-turned-family over for a big Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange for the kiddos. It was soo awesome having my extended family all together for Christmas, I love these girls sooo much.
The kiddos getting their gift exchange on - A's face is priceless, she was so excited about everything!

Ariana had such a great day. This Christmas was so much fun because she was older and "got into it" much more than last year. She was tearing her boxes open, playing with each thing before moving on to the next. It was awesome. The joy in my little girl's face... it's priceless and it makes Christmas feel even more magical than putting up any decoration. I was also a little spoiled this year too, receiving a Cricket cutting machine from my parents that I can not WAIT to start on projects with!
I absolutely love how the mantle looked and that Jonny had lots of holiday spirit around him, too :)
Card holder I made. Plaque of wood painted with ribbon super glued on!

I was sad to see my parents go before the New Year, but they had their lives to get back to. And I had a lot to do to get ready because before they came down... we found another house. I know, how could I have found a house in MD when I was in NC? Well... Skype is a beautiful thing people. I am officially under contract and on my way to owning my own home. I haven't really put it out there much because I certainly don't want to jinx it or get my hopes up too high but to be honest, I'm super excited. You'll hear more about it soon, I'm not going to take up too much post about the house but let's just say we've found the one, it's in Maryland and if all goes well - we'll be moving soon!

Our New Year's was spent relatively quiet. We had the usual crew over, minus a few who had other plans and just hung out. Nothing spectacular but still so much fun. We played Catch Phrase, had a few glasses of wine, and watched the ball drop. Nothing extravagant but filled with people I love and really just a relaxing and happy evening (and of course a great kiss at midnight!). Definitely a note I want to start 2012 on - Relaxing and Happy!

So I think we're pretty much caught up, that's where I've been. I'm going to work on being here more often. With the impending move, I may still fall MIA at times, but I'm really going to try to find the time. I can't let myself be all consumed with the stresses of moving or I may lose my mind, so I'll be here, no doubt.

I hope everyone had a lovely and merry Christmas, as well as a fun and happy New Year.
Here's to 2012, blog family, may it bring you all relaxing times, fun times, successful times, and best of all - memorable times!


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