Blizzard Conditions

Holy cow has it really been over two months since I've posted?! And the award for worst blogger goes to.... RJP for Inconsistency!!

Well a lot has happened since October, but I really don't feel like recapping everything. It's crazy that I find myself on here on a blustery blizzardy Maryland day that marks 4 years since I last saw Mr. P in the flesh. I thought today would be pretty rough but I think the combination of pretty snow, snuggles in the Love Sac, and delicious chocolate have kept me pretty mellow.

As 2013 comes to a close and I approach a new year of my own life (my birthday is in 4 days!) I have been doing quite a bit of mental recapping as of late. Things in life are pretty hectic right now and for a minute I thought the stress was going to crush me. Somehow I've managed to  continue to see the silver lining and keep on truckin' though. Thank God for optimism and a pretty stellar support system.

On Friday I had a little birthday party for myself. It turned out to be a lot of fun with some really great people. My bf made it more wonderful than I was anticipating and I'm certainly so thankful to have him in my life. I think everyone had fun and for once I executed an event where nothing super crazy happened! Hooray.

Reflecting on the journey I've made in the last few years has been interesting. I'd say one of the biggest changes in myself would be the ability to live and let go. I am learning in my adulthood that people come in and out of our lives and we can't always hang on to them. There was a time not too long ago that I struggled to hold on to each and every person in my life. If I felt a friendship was failing or distance growing, I would exert all effort and a lot of heartache to find the whys and figure out how to fix it. Fortunately for my sanity, I've come to terms with the ebbs and flows of relationships in one's lifetime. Sometimes, it's just time to let go. There's no use in wasting time and tears on people that are no longer supposed to be in your life. Maybe that's a harsh truth. I'm sure not everyone will agree with this assessment but in my eyes, it is what it is. Sure, try to fortify and grow relationships that are important to you, but when it comes the time that the relationships are just constant fights and neither party is benefitting from the relationship itself, what's the point anymore? I think that's where I've seen my biggest change and growth - the ability to learn when enough is enough, wish the other person well and move onward. And that's the part that counts the most - wish the other person well. Just because our relationship isn't what it once was doesn't mean I wish ill upon you, it just means separating is best for all those involved and I hope your life and mine are more productive and fuller without the added stressor of maintaining a crumbling resemblance of friendship. I have also learned which types of friendships are made to last and which are more of the superficial variety, best friends versus acquaintances, I suppose.

Speaking of best friends, can I just brag that I will be spending my birthday this year with my best friend? I can not wait. Although I am pretty nervous about the Chicago weather conditions considering we're experiencing a pretty fierce winter weather day here, I imagine it's tenfold in the midwest. That whole thing has me up in arms but besides that I am anxiously awaiting the reunion with my one and only bestie and one week of much needed bestie ridiculousness! On top of that fabulousness, said bestie's sister is getting married so not only will what should be a national holiday AKA the day of my birth be getting celebrated, but another should be national holiday, the union of these two fine folks, will be celebrated as well. Can you say week of epic proportions?!

I must say I am also pretty excited to be taking a break from my house. Literally, my house. Anyone else experience constant home ownership struggles?! Sometimes I really think buying a house was the worst decision I made in my adult life. I mean seriously, when I rented and things went wrong, I called the realtor or rental company and they figured out a solution and took care of it. Boom, done. When you own, there's no one above you - you're it. So guess what, bud? YOU have to figure out the solution. So gross. For a house that isn't even 10 years old, I'm certainly experiencing my fair share of homeowner's nightmares. Luckily I've got a great network (and a super awesome dad) and it appears we will be able to get these issues fixed up. I just have to keep my woosah going until everything is finished. And then maybe I can take a breath (but not too big of one or something else might go awry!)

What is it about winter weather that puts people in a Christmas mood? I guess it's because Christmas happens in the winter (a-duuuuh), so it's easier to "feel" the season? All I know is now with all this silly snow I'm getting pretty excited about finishing up the decorating (although is this weather continues decorating outside will not be happening) and preparing for Santa's visit. I'm getting super excited for all of our holiday traditions and for sharing them with my daughter who at nearly four is much more excited about things this year and my sweetie. Speaking of my sweetie, bet ya wanna hear more about him? Let's just say he's pretty fantastic and our relationship has been a long time coming and after knowing each other for years it's so wonderful to finally be together. That's all you're gonna get for now - don't be greedy :-P

Well folks, I hope you stay warm and I am wishing everyone the happiest of holiday wishes!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

The Journey

Here's the funny thing about life. It is a constant, unending journey. Sure, it appears there's a beginning, middle, and end; much like a story. But is it really that simple? No, I don't think so.

If you pay attention, in life you are constantly changing. I can't imagine any human that's ever truly stagnant, even a recluse locked up with his or her own thoughts. And I'm no recluse, so the opportunities for change are constant.

The hard part is, just when you think you've finally figured things out, that you've finally got a handle on this crazy life journey, you are often reminded that you don't. A new challenge is thrown your way. A new revelation or discover. A new person to shake things up. It's completely naive to believe that you are the same person today that you were yesterday.

The best thing we can do with this journey is try to learn from it. Learn from our mistakes and attempt to continue to grow. Sometimes, that's so much easier said than done. Sometimes, you learn things about yourself that you wish you never knew. So you strive to fix them but in the process are you fixing anything or are you just circling back and making the same mistakes again?

It's hard to face your flaws. It's also necessary. In order to develop and grow, you have to face your shortcomings and overtake them. And that is no easy feat. You think you're doing well and then you realize how much farther you still have to go.

Through this journey I've learned so much about myself and I've had to face some pretty harsh realizations and seriously man up about some of my own short comings. Each day I feel I work a little harder to mold myself into the person that I want to be and then BAM I'm forty steps back and I feel like I am starting all over, conquering the same obstacles again and again.

What holds me back most often? Fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of love, fear of happiness, fear of life. I know I've felt like I've conquered it before but then these setbacks come and they really get to me. I was recently told that I can't live life being afraid of life, and that is so true. I get so scared that I put up these stupid walls, I continuously push people away - most often the people I actually care the most about, I try to hide behind my grief and my loss so that I don't have to feel anymore. Because if you don't feel, you don't hurt. What I forget is that I end up hurting even more in the end. All because I try to hide and pretend and block. Always because I am scared. And even though I can realize this, typically when it's too late, I still end up right back at this spot. Grasping to survive because my fear has held me back once again. With people, with opportunities, with life lessons.

I realize that I get inside my own head and I displace assumptions. "I can't finish that..." "This person won't like this..." "No one can handle that..." When really, it's me inside my own head, scaring myself. In a crappy attempt at protecting myself, I am destroying myself.

When will I be willing to give up the fear? When will I let myself just live, the way I know deep in my heart I deserve to. So why am I so scared to?? Am I afraid that I will forget? Or leave him behind? Or am I just afraid that another loss will completely wreck me?

Some days, I just want to feel normal and not so damn complicated!
Please let tomorrow be sunny.

It's Because You're Home

Summer 2013 has ended and I must say it was quite more than I had anticipated it would be. This year opened a little strained. It seemed a lot was going wrong and I was pretty sure that unlucky 13 would strike the whole year into a constant crap show. I was pleasantly surprised to see how wrong my assumption had been, particularly about the summer. While there were some rough moments, especially with my uncle's illness and some other crazy things that kept happening, the summer ended up wrapping up beautifully. My uncle is seemingly doing much better, my family seems to be in a good place, and I have had a lot of fun. I say seemingly, as not to jinx anything, but I'd like to think that the good things will continue on.

Last weekend, I went to the Jason Aldean concert to celebrate my sorority big sister's birthday. I had such a great time, as I had been having quite often with those girls much of this summer. In a state of happiness I voiced a truth that had been surfacing throughout July and August... "This is one of the best summers I've had since Jonny died!" Without skipping a beat, my friend Shannon replied, "That's because you're home." Her comment shocked me. I tried to deny it. For some reason, I always deny that this is home. That this place I've returned to, that I've grown up, is in all actuality, my home. I can't explain why, really. I never thought I'd come back, to be truthful. It's not that there were loads of bad times here; in fact, I have such great memories here. It's not that it's filled with crappy people; many of my closest friends were found right here. I don't know what it is, but I always denied being happy here. I thought on her comment for a moment. Finally, I gave in. "You just might be right," was all I'd give her after trying to deny it. She just might have been right.

There really is something about the place you grew up, being around the people you've known for what seems like forever. I know these towns and these streets, I have history here, roots here. I met my love here and our story begin here. It's quite possible (and highly likely) that Ariana was conceived here... It all comes back to here. She juuuuust might be right.

As much as I deny and I try to escape, I've made a home and a life here and maybe that's what's good about this summer. I'm finally settling in. Don't get me wrong, I still love to travel and escape, and this sentiment of home could change at the drop of a hat, but for now this is it. I might live somewhere else and feel fully at home there in months, years, decades down the road but right now I'm here, surrounded by people that love me and that know me - better than I'd care to admit sometimes.

Not only am I settling into a place, though, I'm settling into myself. I'm finding a home within myself. I'm finally enjoying the person that I am. Although I am extremely flawed, I'm kind of starting to like me. And that, my friends, is pretty rad and super liberating.

It seems much of the last few years I've been wanting to be happy again. I was so happy with Jonny that I sought out a relationship in which to find joy and happiness. If only I could be with someone who made me happy, maybe I'd be able to feel some of the happiness I once had before I lost it all.  Much to my therapist's delight, this summer I gave up on that quest and reached within myself. I realized that I did not need to be with another individual for happiness. That my happiness I had when I was with Jonny wasn't only because of him (not that he wasn't amazing) but also who I was when I was with him. I'd lost so much of myself through all this that I've been trying to find it in another person without even glancing at myself. And this summer I totally said "Fuck it."

I got tired of dating and relationships and games and boys and.... all of that. I quit. And I enjoyed myself. And I enjoyed my daughter. And I enjoyed my family. And I enjoyed my friends. I am surrounded by awesome people and I realized there was no need to keep searching for more when I had what I needed for this given moment. It hasn't been the right moment for me to be "out there" (if only I'd taken the advice I have heard myself give more than once to friends...) it was the right moment for me to work on me. Truly work on myself and appreciate myself and my own strengths and qualities without having to find balance with another person.

Here in this state, it appears I've found a bit of myself again. Maybe not my whole self, I mean who really knows exactly who they are and has their entire self together? But a big portion of myself has been reclaimed. With the help of friends, family, and country music, of course!

So cheers! To being home, not only physically but emotionally. May the rest of 2013 bring joy and peace and fun and self discovery. Whether it be "alone" or with another if and when the time is right, may I always appreciate what I have and find happiness within myself, and may you, my friends, do the same.

"I Don't Have a Daddy"

My daughter is 3 and a half years old. She turns 4 in January. And I thought I still had so much time before we had to broach this subject. Certainly, I knew it would be coming and I knew it wasn't going to be easy no matter when it happened but I didn't plan on it being so soon. No matter how soon it came though, would I ever have been really ready? Are we ever ready to explain death to our kids and why her father who loves her so very, very much had to leave her so soon and so permanently? Probably not.

We went out for ice cream tonight at Rita's. When we were done I was strapping her into her car seat and a truck pulled up next to us. A man, a woman, and a teenage girl got out. The teenager walked ahead and then the man and woman stopped and said something to one another, took hands, spoke a little more and then walked on. I wasn't really paying much attention except for being aware that they were there until Ariana asked why they stopped. I looked up and saw them take each other's hand and talk and I answered her they stopped to hold hands. She wanted to know why and I answered well because they love each other - still not sure where this was going or why she was so curious. They live together? she then asked me and I felt something more was coming as this question hit me. Yeah, probably I answered, bracing myself. And then she said it. "I don't have a daddy." Ouch. Enter the striking pain of an arrow in my heart. "Yes you do baby girl, he's in Heaven you know that." She sounded a little defeated when she answered "Yeah. With Georgie (my dad's dog)." I asked if she was alright and she said she was and I asked if she was sad and she said she was again answering then that she misses her grandma and papa (who she just spent the night with last night - silly girl) and just like that subject was over and we were talking about grandma and papa and seeing them tomorrow.

As parents, we strive to give our kids all they need and most of what they want. We know there are some things we aren't going to give our kids, like endless supplies of chocolate ice cream or a herd of pink ponies, but within reason we want to give to our kids. So when it comes to something that you want so badly to give to your kid that you just can't... well that frankly sucks. It really freakin' sucks. I wish I could give Ariana her daddy back so badly. Even though she doesn't express it often, I know that time is coming and I just wish she didn't have to face this. It's not fair, in the slightest.

The next hard part in addition to her statements or questions is maintaining my own collected demeanor. I can't just fall to pieces just because she asks about her dad. I am totally okay with my daughter witnessing emotion and her knowing it's okay to have them, however if I fall to pieces whenever her dad is brought up, what does that teach her? That she shouldn't ask about him because she doesn't want to upset mom. That he is a "taboo" subject. No way, I've got to keep it together so that she can express herself and so that she is comfortable talking about him. I don't ever want to take that part away from her, because it's really all she has of him now, discussions, memories, photos...  I wonder if her grieving process will really begin later when she can understand. Or if it will just be every day to her since that's all she's known. Oh I am not prepared...

I feel like tonight's conversation was just a small precursor to what is to come. One day the statements and questions are going to get harder. The "I don't have a daddy" statement is going to be less statement of fact and more sadness or confusion, maybe even anger. And then what am I going to do? All I can do - assure her she does have a daddy. And that he does love her very much. And that it is none of our faults that he had to leave. And that he didn't want to leave.  And until then, I just have to make sure she knows all of that in her heart. Tell her about her dad, like I do and make sure she knows all of it, deep within. But it still sucks. Oi...

PTSD, Suicide, And Our Military

I'm friends with a lot of military widows. I try to stay involved in the community and I cherish the stories I hear from each of the women I meet. I have met widows who have lost their husbands in so many different ways. In combat like my own story, in accidents at home, in not-accidents here in America, from illness, and from suicide. While we are all spread across the board, it is quite a striking amount who have lost their spouse due to suicide.

To be honest, I don't know how to really jump into this topic. It is not my own story, but it was one I have come in contact with frequently enough to raise alarm. It is one that is becoming far too common in America today. And it is one that needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week on Facebook, I shared a photo of a soldier who had been listed as missing. His family was reaching out via social media to find him. They had listed his last known whereabouts, what he was driving, as well as the fact that he had been suffering from PTSD. They were asking anyone for information and encouraging their community as well as the nation to search for him. A few minutes ago, I was saddened to learn the soldier has since passed on, and according to police it was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It weighs heavy on my heart to report that Erik Jorgensen - 26 years old - took his own life on July 19, 2013.

First, I want to offer my most sincere condolences to Erik's family. This is such a hard time they are entering and I pray they have support and love to move through this time.
I also offer my condolences to all of my friends who lost their loved one to suicide.
But here's the thing, condolences, well, they just aren't enough.

It is reported that 20 service members PER DAY commit suicide. In fact, the most recent article I read stated 22 service members per day, equaling 1 service member every 65 minutes, takes their own life. This includes both "new" and "old" veterans. Veterans fresh from war, like Erik Jorgensen and many of my friends' husbands, as well as veterans who have been out of war for years.

Hello America! THIS IS A PROBLEM! It's not only a problem because it is service members (those who are fighting for the very freedoms our nation defines ourselves by) but more generally - people. Something is wrong if any group of people is taking their own lives in such rapidness.

These people are hurting. They are going to war and coming home and they are in pain. And it is our nation's responsibility to take care of them! I have seen first hand only minor effects of PTSD. (And my use of minor does not mean "not scary" or "not serious" it just means I have not seen even close to what so many others have witnessed.)  I have personally seen the pain and hurt.  I have seen lives and persons transformed after coming home. And I am left wondering what I can do? Yet I still see nothing done. This. Is. A. Problem.  And honestly, I wish I had the solution. I really, really wish I could fix this. Ultimately, the ideal solution is no more war. But while we are at a time of war, what can we do?

What can we do to protect those who protect us? I know the first step is awareness. As a nation, we need to be aware that this is an issue and we need to work at the large to bring these numbers down, to protect those who protect us.
I believe another step is acceptance. PTSD and any other mental disruption that may come from seeing/being in war should not be seen as "bad" or "crazy" or "career-threatening." Hell, I'd even go as far as to say it is expected. It is war. If you aren't shaken by it, well that, to me anyway, is the crazy part! We need to let these guys and gals know that they are not abnormal or fucked up for their "issues." We need them to know they can still lead successful lives and be accepted in society and not  shamed because they have been at war! And we need to support them. Help them. Reach out to them. I know so many families of suicide victims were reaching out. But who else was? Is it the families sole responsibility to reach out? Should they have to deal with it alone?! No! It is all of ours. Something has got to give. This is not okay. We should not be standing by while this many people are dying at their own hand from going to places they were sent on behalf of this nation! It is our duty and our responsibility to do something greater.

So I'm starting here with step 1. Awareness. I want you all to know how not-okay this is and I want you to spread the word. I want you to join in a campaign to stop this and to support our veterans, past and present. Support them so they may feel the support and love and so they may know their worth! So they know this life is worth it.

To my veteran friends past and present, you are loved, you are appreciated and you are worth it. If you are feeling that things are unmanageable please, please I urge you to get help, reach out, let us help you. And to my fellow military families and friends, if you know someone is struggling please, please encourage them to get help. This is a battle we must fight together.

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
Military One Source Crisis Prevention   1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TAPS 1-800-959-TAPS (8277)

To Miss

What is it "to miss"? How exactly is missing someone defined. Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition.

miss 1  (mɪs) 
— vb fail to reach, hit, meet, find, or attain (some specified orimplied aim, goal, target, etc) to fail to attend or be present for: to miss a train to missan appointment to fail to see, hear, understand, or perceive: to miss apoint to lose, overlook, or fail to take advantage of: to miss anopportunity to leave out; omit: to miss an entry in a list to discover or regret the loss or absence of: he missed hiswatch she missed him to escape or avoid (something, esp a danger), usuallynarrowly: he missed death by inches
8.miss the boat miss the bus  to lose an opportunity
— n
9.a failure to reach, hit, meet, find, etc
10.informal give something a miss  to avoid (something): give thelecture a miss give the pudding a miss

That's certainly not how I would define it. In fact, in doesn't even begin to touch on it.

1. The sinking feeling in your stomach at the realization that the what or who you want and need most is unobtainable.
2. When your thoughts are completely absorbed in someone/thing that is not and can not be present at the current moment
3. Longing for what once was

That touches a little bit on my definition of "to miss," but even then, it's only slightly.
When Jonny first died, I walked around with the constant sinking feeling in my gut. It never went away. Almost like that feeling when you go over a hill too quickly, but not as fun. Like my heart was literally working it's way down into the depths of my body to hide itself from anymore pain. That sinking feeling stayed with my for months and then it seemed to ease up a bit. It started to happen only when I first woke up and right before I went to sleep. There was something about starting and ending my day that was painful and made the missing so much stronger. As time went on, the sinking feeling lifted. My life continued and while I still miss him every day, my body as seemed to adjust to it and stop hurting physically so often.

That is why it hurts that much more when the sinking springs up again. It's not gone for good, in fact I don't believe it ever will be. It will continue to happen when I am missing him more than usual and it will surprise me and I will just live with it like I have.

I had too much time with myself on Saturday. Driving solo with only my thoughts and the radio to entertain me got the best of the former. Not to mention, I'd awoken that morning from a weird dream featuring Jonny. I don't remember it much just that it was weird and left me feeling unsettled. Those dreams always set me up for a weird day, to say the least. The sinking feeling stayed with me almost all day, until I was too tired to really notice anymore. My thoughts wondered and of course ended up at the inevitable "could, should, would" place.

Then I realized... I've been widowed longer than I was married. I've been widowed longer than I even knew Jonathan. This has been true for a while, actually, but the realization came yesterday. And it sucked... at first. It sucked to think that my happiness has been less than my pain - in terms of time. But with that came another realization. The realization of what an impact that man really had on me. Sure, I've known for a long, long while how much I was in love with him and how much I continue to love him. But the impact he had on my life, my soul... wow. For someone to walk into my life and stay only so briefly but to have changed me forever. Wow.  Jonny Porto, you certainly are a special soul and I am thankful for having had you, even for so brief a time, to have my soul changed and for our souls to have been melded together in the way that they have.

It's weird, but sometimes I swear I can still hear him through things and songs and crazy stuff. Signs, if you will. It could just me being presumptuous and hopeful, but it's my mind and my heart and I can think what I want. There's a Kip Moore song that I cry nearly every time I hear it. Hey Pretty Girl. It really seems to document our relationship in an eery way. They met and they fell in love, and the topic of time moving quickly is brought up. The last two stanza's of the song really do it for me -

Hey pretty girl, you did so good
Our baby's got your eyes
And a fighter's heart like I knew she would
Hey pretty girl, you did so good

Hey pretty girl, when I see the light
And it's my time to go
I'm gonna thank the Lord for a real good life
A pretty little girl and a beautiful wife

I guess because it's a song and everything needs to fit in a song's length, everything happens so quickly for the relationship, just as it did for Jonny and myself. And then at the end, he dies. It seems like their relationship is just unfolding and it's his time to go. So much like us. Whenever I hear this song, I swear I hear Jonathan saying it to me. Like I said, probably pretty presumptuous. I mean, who am I to assume he'd say these things to me... it just really feels like something he would. So that's how it's justified in my mind (so there)

So after three plus years, the pain is still there, but it's manageable. It's become part of my day to day life and sometimes it presents itself more than other times, and that's ok. I've accepted that it will always be part of my life and I almost welcome it, as a reminder of our love and how intense it was and how much a part of me he is, it only makes sense. 

Doin Things... and Stuff

This post is from last.... Friday? A while ago. I didn't have service enough to post it though... so here we go.

Wow. I have been busy. It seems my life goes in silly cycles. Off cycle things are low key and I find myself bored and looking for something to do. However, On cycle, well that's just intense. I'm never home and have no time and instead remain crazy busy. Being the social butterfly I am, I certainly prefer the on cycle. There's something about being constantly on the go that just works better for me. I find myself getting sad when I've got time on my hands. Too much time to think and reflect. I prefer a steady hustle and bustle, with my only down time being when I'm driving from place to place or in the shower.  Which is how the last week or so has been going.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've signed on as an independent distributor with ItWorks! Global. I absolutely love the botanically based products that I have seen with my own eyes work and I am beyond excited to bring them to my friends. One of our best and most notable products are the "Crazy Wrap Things" or the Ultimate Body Applicators. During the launch week of my being with the company, I focused on wrapping my friends at a discounted rate. It's been awesome seeing the results and how excited my friends are at seeing their own bodies tightening, toning, and firming in as little as 45 minutes. As with every new endeavor, I'm a little nervous going into this. Failure is always a huge fear of mine, but after WidowU with The American Widow Project, I've learned to not listen to the nasty whisperings of self-doubt and I have decided that failure is not an option. So in turn, I've been busy with this business, but so far I love it. I'm excited that in one week it is already growing and I'm happy to see others getting into it and paving their own way, too. If you're interested in earning some extra money and would like to join my team OR if you're interested in trying out our amazing products, please do not hesitate to check out my site or email me here or at I've never been big on self advertising here in my space where I come to share and vent and reach out, but this is something that I actually think is totally worth sharing and I know that several of my blog friends would benefit getting involved and I wouldn't want to keep it from ya.

Along with the business, I've had plenty of time to have a little fun this passed week. I got to have a girl's night out and surprisingly met some cool people. I have been learning that I seriously need to stop focusing on how old I am getting and just revel in the fact that I am still awesome regardless of my age. Although meeting successful 21 and 22 year olds sometimes squashes that fact... haha. I spent some time at Quantico with some very good friends. I really wish I made trips down there more often because these friends are like family to me and it's tough to not see each other as often as we used to.
Col Costantini and the folks he works with (I stole this from FB)

This Saturday, I had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony for Col. Will Costantini. I met Carrie, Will's wife back at my first Blog World Expo experience in 2011 in Las Vegas. Carrie is a riot and one of the greatest people I have ever met. She's a voice for military families, wounded service members and of course good ol' gold star families like mine. She is such a genuine woman and I'm honored to call her a friend. Her husband has served in the Marine Corps since the beginning of time (ok I'm exaggerating) and from what I heard at the ceremony was an incredible Marine, a great leader, and is a standup guy all around. They are awesome folks. The ceremony was really nice. In fact, it was basically in the commandant's back yard. I'm still reeling a little bit that I was not only invited to a ceremony in the commandant's back yard, but that I enjoyed a Bloody Mary and kind of lounged while I was there (I know, you can dress me up but can't take me anywhere), in all seriousness it was beautiful and the things the fellas who worked with Will had to say about him really said a lot about his character.
Totally look like I belong there, right?

 I also got to see MilBlog friends that I hadn't seen in a while as well as meet some more. I love the MilBlog folks, I had such a fun time. We adventured down to Quantico and ate at the famous Globe and Laurel. I've got to say, that restaurant is sooo rad. USMC stuff everywhere, even inside the tables. And the food was mighty tasty as well.

Then we journeyed on over to the Marine Corps Museum. I've got to say that was a little rough for me. The last time I went was with Jonathan. I looked around and I could see him in places we'd walked, up on a hill I made him stand to take a photo, on the concrete blocks by the door... the silly things we did replayed in my mind. But I've got to say I think I held it together pretty well and I enjoyed the walk through the park and all of the memorials they have out there. And the chapel that they have there - is SO money! Haha, seriously it's beautiful and amazing and you should go have a peek if ever you get the chance.
Another stolen FB pic me, Chad, and the Marine Corps Museum

Then after a brief bout of crazy at the mall (let's just say I'm incredibly directionally challenged and leave it at that) we made our way over to the Costantini HQ for food and festivities. I really had a blast and I'm still so honored to have been invited.

I left from the shindig I stopped in Columbia, MD and excellent halfway point for a birthday gathering for my friend and Phi Mu Sister Shannon. I'm really happy with how often I've gotten to see my sisters this summer, I've had so much fun. Shannon is such a good person and I am really happy I made it in time to celebrate with her. I also did some crazy dancing with a British boy. It was fun. I love dancing. Even if I'm terrible at it.
Me, my big Amber, and her bf Ryan. Somehow I did not get a pic with the Bday girl! Fail!!

From there it was home to pack and get ready to head up North to hang with the fam and finally get my little one after a couple weeks apart! Woo wee, what a week!

Fit... Monday?

Fit Monday just doesn't sound right. But I missed the promised Fit Friday. I went to Quantico to visit and then the weekend just got away from me. But alas, here I am Fitting it Up on Monday, but hey that's okay because after a splurgy weekend, it's good to think about Fitness on a Monday!

As I was telling you all earlier, I recently watched Hungry for Change. It is such a great film and wakeup call. I'm not here to tell you all the things you should and shouldn't be eating, though. You can watch Hungry for Change and figure that out.

I try to eat right all the time. I know what I should be eating and what I definitely should not be eating (including some of my favorite foods like macaroni and cheese and ice cream) and I am learning the why's behind it by tons of research and documentaries like Hungry for Change. I'm sure most of you reading this know that you want to be eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and whole clean foods and less processed junk, sugar, and white flour. Right? So I'm not going to preach that today (maybe another day, not today).

What I've learned from this journey is that I screw up. A lot. I mean, that's in life too, not just in health and fitness. Sometimes, the ice cream wins. Sometimes, just a bite turns into a whole meal. It happens. Usually, I feel incredibly guilty about it and I wonder what I should do to "make up" the food mistake I just made. And then I realize, I enjoyed that ice cream, or I enjoyed that meal. And, one of my new favorite mantras, one ice cream didn't make me chubby, one cheat meal didn't get me out of shape then one ice cream or cheat meal isn't going to completely destroy what I've been working on, either.

I used to be under the model of thinking if I screwed up, that was it I was done - my diet was over. And that's the problem, I saw it as a diet, I viewed what I was doing as a temporary thing. I've since changed my thoughts and it's really helped in how I do this whole healthy thing. First, I'm not on a diet. I'm on a quest, a journey if you will, to eat nutritious food and to take back control of my body. I'm tired of giving in to the psychological responses of "food like substances" controlling my reactions to food. It's not meant to last a certain number of months, and it's not for a certain marker event. It's simply for me to feel and look better and improve my health so I can hang out with my awesome daughter as long as possible. Next, because it is long term, I can't expect short term changes. I don't constantly jump on the scale, I measure with inches and photos to document long term and lasting change. Lastly, I recognize that I'm human and I have a weak spot for certain foods but that doesn't mean that I have failed it means I had a little slip. Then, I jump right back on the wagon and keep on keeping on. There's no quitting if it's for the long term.

The moral of the story is... just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...
Don't quit! Just because you're not seeing immediate results or you had a bingey weekend, don't use those as excuses to give up. Bad stuff happens sometimes, we pick up and move forward - the same applies to health and fitness! There are so many more motivational quotes I can throw in here, If it doesn't challenge you it won't change you... You didn't get chubby in one day you won't get fit in one day either! And on and on and on. Keep going friends, You got this!!

Yes, I know, I don't really have a future in motivational speaking. But hey, I'm trying - alright? haha

The other exciting thing happening in my health and fitness journey is I recently signed up to be an ItWorks Global independent distributor. This is the company with those "crazy skinny wraps" as well as some really awesome supplements and skin care products. I am really, really excited to be working for this company. I've tried the wrap myself and saw pretty awesome results. As I saw more and more people having great results and showing such loyalty to the company and my friends having such success being distributors, I've chosen to sign up too. I was definitely a skeptic at first but the results spoke for themselves and I'm hooked. I don't want to take away from my whole motivational speech with sales talk, so I'll wrap this up for now (get it... WRAP?! hahaha) but I will encourage you to check out my website, have a look at the product, and contact me when you're interested in knowing more or getting started! Don't worry, there will be a whole post about this in the future for those of you who are interested and keep your eyes peeled for some "opportunities involving free stuff" (hint hint there will be a giveaway in the near future!!)

Happy Monday everyone, remember JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

What I'm Doing Wednesday

Is that an actual thing? If not, can I claim it?

Welcome to Mrs. P's version of What I'm Doing Wednesday!!

I really don't know what it is, but hey, it sounds good.

Lately, things have been pretty good. This passed weekend was probably one of the best I've had in a long time. It's always a good weekend when spent with my best friend and Friday through Tuesday. We made a pact right off to have the best day ever and it turned in to the best weekend ever.
I took my lovely Chicagoan no-ocean BFF to Ocean City Maryland on Saturday. It was a day trip that turned into, "Let's grab a hotel and leave tomorrow." Oh the spontaneity! Definitely an aspect I miss from my life. We also had a chance to get up to Rocks State Park and visit Kilgore Falls, such an awesome spot in Harford County MD. We went on Post and stuck our toes in the Chesapeake Bay. The theme of the weekend was hang out in as many different bodies of water as possible, apparently. We went and saw The Heat which I highly recommend. It was hilarious. And now my favorite thing to say is "You're covered in nuuuuts." Seriously, go see it. We had serious girl time and got to talk lots about our hubbies. It was just a great, refreshing, and happy weekend. I seriously wish Chicago were closer to Baltimore because I hate the distance between us and the amount of time that passes between seeing one another.

Now I am watching Hungry for Change, a fascinating documentary about food and "Food-like substances" and the difference and what the introduction of the latter is doing to our bodies. I've been so intrigued lately about foods and chemicals and eating and fitness. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in health and fitness and making life changes, it's definitely inspiring me. What I like the most is that for once, information I've been learning, and reading about is the same. One of the biggest challenges I've come across as far as eating and fitness, is that every source has different information. For once I'm not getting conflicting information, the things I read about in It Starts With Food (a book that has seriously started chaning my life) are being reiterated and built on upon in Hungry for Change. I'm definitely going to come back to this on Fitness Friday, a new Friday segment I'm starting here at Little Pink, so come back on Friday for some Health and Fitness discussion!

I'm currently on a type of vacation. My mom snagged A for a little bit on a little vacation so I'm on a "mommy vacation" of sorts. Let me tell ya, it's weird. My house is far too quiet and my schedule, although I'm staying busy, is just so different. I miss my girl. However, I know she's having a blast with my parents and I think we might have actually needed a little time apart. A and I spend nearly 24 hours a day together. I am enjoying a little "time off" from my full time job and she is enjoying getting spoiled by grandma and papa. Buuuuut when it's all said and done and the time to just "be me" is nice, I miss the crap out of my kid. And my parents, lol. Sometimes I feel guilty admitting that it's nice to have a little break. Talking to other moms makes me realize that every mom could use a little "time off" and I have nothing to be guilty for, for letting her have time with her grandma, in fact I am lucky to have a great family that she can go and hang out with. Single parenting is really tough, I'll admit that. And I know people will judge my choices to let her have time with grandma while I have a little "time off." And that's okay, judge me they can because in the end I know what's good for A and I. I think I wanted to share this for the other moms, especially the single ones, who are struggling with a similar issue. Talking to some of my widow friends I know we struggle with these kind of things. We feel as though we must be "on" all the time. I need to work hard all the time, being a mom is my job and I must be the best at it 100% of the time. And that's not the case, I think it's totally healthy to take a break, provided your child is still in a safe and loving environment while you do so. And like I said, I'm lucky to have that. So to the moms who may need a break but don't want to admit it, your kid might be in need of a break from you, too. Don't beat yourself up when you struggle or when you can't give 100% - you are only human. And it's okay to take someone up on an offer to "relieve" you for a little bit. Take some time, relax, regroup, and restart again. It will help and you will be able to give more of yourself!

Ok, now I'll hop off my soap box. I need to head to the gym to get a workout in for the day, I've been a little bit lazy while watching my documentary.
Hope everyone has a lovely holiday! Be safe! Have fun!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

Exciting Things!!

We all have dreams, right? I mean we dream about what we want to be when we grow up? Well, I'm still not 100% exactly sure what I want to be when I grow up because there are so many things I want to be... in addition to what I am. I am interested in so many things that I haven't been able to confidently say I definitely want to be a(n) xxx.  (No, that xxx doesn't stand for porn star, that is not on the list). I'm interested in cosmetology (obviously), education, real estate, nutrition, the list goes on and on.

There has been, however, one constant. Since I was just a kid until this very day. In fact, to this absolute second... I've wanted to be a writer. I remember writing stories as a kid and reading them to my parents. Actually, if I remember correctly I'd hand the stories over and have them read to themselves because I didn't like to read my own stuff to people nor see other people read it in front of me. Still don't. I would write pages long stories in composition notebooks, the marble kind with the really thick lines, all through elementary and middle school. I wrote a lot of poetry in high school along with my short stories. A couple pieces were published in the school magazine and I thought it was a really big deal. In college, I took a few writing classes and they were always my favorite. My creative writing class was by far my favorite class hands down. And I was a psychology major...

I love every aspect of putting words on paper (err computer screen). I love hearing them drift through my head as the day goes by and I plan the direction whatever I'm working on is going to take. I love the development of my characters and seeing the story progress and come alive in my mind - even for nonfiction. I love a fresh page staring at me, the little "blinky line" waiting in anticipation. I love the feeling of my fingers pressing the letter keys and the click-click sound as I type... I know some people who are easily annoyed by my clicking, but it's one of the most calming sounds in the world to me. It means I'm in my place and I'm doing "my thang." I just really enjoy it, regardless of whether it will ever "turn into something," I just love to write. When I got married and started this blog, it wasn't supposed to be a big deal. It was a way to keep in contact with people as well as my own release and catharsis dealing with all the change that was happening. Marrying into the military, moving, pregnancy - you name it. It was easy to find my little corner of the interwebs and click away. As I've said in the past, I never would have expected what happened to this little ol' blog. After Jonny's death I received an outpouring of love and support. My writing suddenly was noticed.  I no longer was writing for myself or my close family and the circle of friends I had created, I was writing for a vast audience. I was affecting people with my words. It was pretty surreal. Actually, it still is. It is a humbling experience to see that the one thing you really love to do is actually something people appreciate and even look forward to. It's awesome.

I've never really told many people but one of my many and biggest dreams is to write a novel and have it turned into a film. Doesn't have to be a best seller or make me millions of dollars (while that would be an added bonus), I just have always thought it would be so amazing to see someone's visual interpretation of writing I had created.

About a year ago, I was contacted by Lew Holder, a film student at Ohio State University. He told me he had read my piece on the Washington Post's blog series Impact of War and was incredibly touched by it. So touched, in fact, that he wanted to turn my words into film. He wanted to put visual representation to what I had written. I was completely blown away, and honestly I still am today while writing this for you all to see. Of all the accolades and praise I've received over the years, this one is pretty high up there. To know I've inspired someone so much by one simple post they want to base a film off it? Well... it's cray! (That's all I've got folks!) I'll admit I was a little hesitant, wondering what the catch was, as I've been approached here and there for some things that seemed a little shady and have turned them down. I was waiting for some kind of "but" to come. It never came. Lew proved to be a really genuine guy out to make something based on a story that had inspired him and that story happened to have been mine.

A year later, I received a package in the mail. Ariana was most excited about the Ohio State t-shirt in her size (I have a few friends who will love seeing us in our matching Buckeyes shirts!) but I was pretty elated at the signed script cover page that said Unheard Promises A Lew Holder Film Based on the Writings of Rachel Porto.

Based on the writings of Rachel Porto?! WHAAAT! That's pretty awesome for an aspiring author whose dream is to see her work turned into film. Holy. Bagoly.

Lew had attached a really nice letter and in it he had talked about researching and reading my work and how much he had put into the project. I'll tell you all a secret. I cried just reading the letter and the cover page of the screen play. No joke. It might seem minor to you, but to little ol' me... this was so awesome. I'm always blown away when people say I've inspired them, heck I'm pretty blown away just when people say they like my writing, so you can imagine this was a big deal for me.

I watched the movie and of course I cried. It's based off my work but the characters were created for the project. There was something about the "Jonny" character (who wasn't called Jonny) who reminded me so much of my Jonny... man. It was much better and so much cooler than I could have anticipated.

So enough jabbering by me, I really want to share this with you all. I asked Lew if he wouldn't mind me blogging about it, and obviously he was cool with it (duh) and he even uploaded it to YouTube, so you, my lovely readers, can have a peek as well. He didn't make it to compete in a festival, or sell... he just made it. You guys, that's so stinking awesome. I am so touched and blown away and just... gosh... humbled by this whole thing. It's been so amazing. So now that I know my mom has at least seen it (didn't want to put it up here before she got a look) I am ready to share with you.

I present to you, Unheard Promises A Lew Holder Film based on the Writings of Rachel Porto.


I'm not saying I'm a great writer or that I'll even "make it." What I am saying it Thank you. Thank you to all of you who read and enjoy/find inspiration/laugh/show up for the party. Thank you to everyone who has followed our journey and cheered us along. Thank you for allowing me to have an audience here at my tiny corner of a vast internet. Thank you for letting me be inspired to continue you. And thank you Lew, for being inspired, for creating such a cool project, for doing our story justice. Thank you.

Reality TV Reality Love

Ready for Love. Anyone still watch it? Yes, it was cancelled but it actually stayed available on Hulu, and onDemand (at least on comcast, anyway).

The finale came on yesterday and of course I watched it today because I do thangs my own way, ya know.

And of course, as with any reality tv show where choices are made and someone wins, I definitely had my picks. And (yet again) of course, the way I go with winning (bets, lottery, bingo, guessing winners of reality shows...), I was wrong and my choices were not picked. I did have a feeling that Tim was going to pick Jenna from the beginning. But I loved Sara who was a wiancee (that's widow term for person whose fiance died) and I think I just had that connection with her and so badly wanted to see her so happy. I knew it'd be Jenna though. Ben was a bit more complicated. I thought sure Allie had it in the bag at the home visit, but Angela came through in the end. I liked both choices, there was just something about Allie that seemed so real. And Ernesto made his decision the episode before, romantically climbing up to Shandi and telling her she was the only one for him. I called that one too, the night he kissed her before anyone else. So I guess I didn't do too bad at the guessing part, it's just the ones I was rooting for that didn't get chosen.

Anyway, watching it I kept thinking things like, "Allie is so much better. You even said how she fit with you, Ben!" and "Jenna looks crazy-similar to your ex-wife Tim, don't you think you should go a different path?! Sara would love you so much!" and then it kind of hit me. The way stupid things like reality TV usually do... I'm not there. I'm not them. I don't know what their hearts, minds, or other deciding parts are telling them. I don't even know them.

I've gotten so mad at people for the same thing toward me. I shouldn't have started dating when I did. I should be dating more. The people I dated were wrong. My methods of grief were wrong. Etc. etc. and here I was putting input in on these strangers the same way. Granted, they couldn't hear me - the only one who could was King - but still. What is it about us humans who think we have a right to put our opinions in so often about others' lives? And how does one change from a critic to merely an observer? And from that, is observing enough? How would one choose between when to only observe and when to add input?

Yeah, all that came from a stinkin' reality tv show. Clearly I really let my mind wander when I'm vegging out late in the evening. But seriously, where and how, as humans, do we draw the line? Something to ponder.

I also wanted to take a moment to talk about Sara, even though she'll most likely never see this in her life. But hey, maybe - stranger things have happened. So Sara. Even for reality tv, that woman handled herself so gracefully and I was just so impressed. From the get go, she let Tim know that she had lost her fiance to cancer, and even though their losses were different (he is divorced from his first wife) that she could understand loss and opening up to love again. Throughout the show she talked about opening up and actually being, as the title of the show states, Ready for Love. I think that was just such an admirable step. She not only made herself vulnerable to another person (so frickin scary after such a big loss) but to the entire nation on television. Then tonight, she continued to tell Tim how she felt right before he was going to break up with her. When he finally let it out that he was choosing Jenna, the way Sara held herself... Wow. She hugged Tim and told him that basically she just wanted to see him happy and she was glad for him that he had found that. She said how she'd learned and grown through the experience and knew she was ready for love as well and that she knew she would find that one person to make her happy like Tim had (I'm paraphrasing, obvi). It was just so graceful and respectful and honorable... What a lady.

 It's difficult to love again after the death of a significant other. It's scary to think of losing them again, if not to death, then to break up. Making yourself vulnerable again is terrifying. I often think I am ready for love. I want to be with someone, to share my life with someone, but then I wonder if I really am ready. Can I handle being vulnerable again? Can I handle loss again? I tried it once, and obviously it didn't work out. It's not a situation I'm really comfortable getting into here as it's extremely personal. But I do wonder if I really did make myself vulnerable then or if I kept just enough walls up to keep from really getting hurt. In the world of dating after loss, how do we find the difference between companionship and love?

That is certainly something I'm going to have to search within myself for. How (and if) I can be ready for actual love again and not just companionship. And then it's something that will have to, obviously, be found within the other person.

All is not fair in love and war. But indeed, onward we march.

Semper Fi,
Mrs. P

On Child Rearing

It's no secret that parenting is hard. I mean, think of it; as a parent you are responsible for the actions of another human being. A whole different person with their own set of ideas and thoughts and worst of all - free will. There's no absolute control of this tiny person who is "yours." And the quote that you aren't raising a child you are raising an adult is pretty true, too. Sure, I'm teaching A to share her toys and wipe her boogies with a tissue instead of her sleeve but one day she's going to be a grown-up and how she is as a grown-up will be due largely in part to how I am as a parent. Sure, some of it's society, some genetics, some peers, some other family members... yadda yadda yadda. I'm the parent and let's be real - I get the blame if/when something goes awry. Now that is scary!

Single parenting, on top of all that, is even harder. I don't have anyone to share that blame with! I don't have someone to bounce ideas off or make decisions with, I have an extra set of hands when I ask for it but not another set that holds the same responsibility as mine as "parent," and my only companionship on many days is only that of a 3 year old. I get lonely, I get frustrated, I get really really stinkin' tired.

It's a tough gig. But in all my stressing and griping the last week or so (it's been a tough week and I've been out of sorts), I came to realize the other day that it's my gig. This is my job. And even though it's tough, I do love it. Parenting... it might be the scariest job. It might be the hardest job. That's all up for interpretation. But I'm going to tell you, it's definitely the most rewarding.

My little baby isn't so little anymore. She's got such a quirky personality and I'm telling you she's such an excellent combination of Jonathan and I. It astounds me how much she is like her dad without them having ever spent physical time together. She keeps me laughing and she keeps me learning.

inspiring creativity

When I was little, I thought my mom was magic. She knew when I was up to something without turning her head (are there eyes under her hair?!), she had the fix to every problem, and words that could settle my always turning stomach and anxiety ridden head. My dad could fix everything, whether it be something actually broken or a broken heart fixed with a hug. Magic I tell you, pure magic.

Now, as a parent. My child is magical. She learns. Each and every day she learns! It's amazing. We're working on letters and as we go through the grocery she points out the letters after having only discussed them that morning. She is filled with wonder and curiosity. As she swiftly approaches the "Why" stage of her life, I find myself having to dig into my creativity reserves to give her an answer and an explanation for everything. She loves the little things in life. Tonight's dinner was hamburgers, salad, and nut thins (crackers, kind of like wheat thins but made out of nuts - don't judge my hippie side!) It was honestly a simple dinner that I threw together because I hadn't made a meal plan for today. My daughter declared mid-bite, "This is the best dinner ever!" There was no fancy silverware, no hard to pronounce foods, no culinary skills required at all... and I'd created the best dinner ever. When she thanks me, she thanks me so whole-heartedly. She stops to look at the ants walking on the sidewalks, smell and pick the flowers, and feel and throw the freshly cut grass. The world is still new to her, still exciting. That, my friends, is pure magic.
who knew the sheer thrill of throwing rocks from the water back into the water?

So amidst my stressful days and my to-do lists, I saw my job for the first time. I am molding a person. It will be me who either encourages or squashes that wonder. It will be me who teaches her how to treat others. It will be me who is her biggest influence in how she carries herself. Therefore, I need to be the best person I can be so that she will be the best person she can be. That's heavy stuff, but so very awesome!

living room sheet tent. the relief from all of life's stressors.

Being a parent is pretty difficult single or with help. I have been lucky enough to have my parents' help so very much, especially since returning to Maryland. While they've been away I've been letting the stress get to me and I've been overwhelmed. Instead of being overwhelmed I should be enjoying this with her. For, it is through our own children that we get to relive our childhood years! We get to revisit the wonder and curiosity. We get to play at the arcade again, visit the zoo, play in the creeks, run in the grass. It's hard, it's stressful, it's scary and it is so rewarding. I can't ever let myself forget that.

the ticket counting machine is thrilling for every age

Enjoy your kids. Enjoy your friend's kids or your sister's kids or the neighbor's kids. They're pretty neat, and I bet you can learn a whole lot from them that you weren't even expecting!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

Memorial Day Twenty Thirteen

Memorial Day 2013 encompassed so much I'm not really sure where to even begin.  I spent the weekend in Washington DC, obviously the nation's capital, doing "American" things. (lol). The first thing, that I mentioned before, was the TAPS National Seminar and Good Grief Camp. TAPS is a really cool organization for surviving families. It was so amazing spending time with some awesome people in this community that no one wants to be a part of but luckily is so welcoming and loving. I got to see some gorgeous widdas that I haven't seen in quite some time but that I just adore, as well as meet new widdas and families. There were some different breakout sessions offered. My favorite one was the "Whispers of Love" session, where we learned about and discussed signs from our loved one. It was so awesome talking about and hearing about different signs. At the end of the session, I showed the instructor some of Jonny's photos from Afghanistan with tons of orbs in them. I believe these photos show the guys really do go back to watch over their own. If you don't believe that, that's fine, but I do. He was pretty astounded by the photos. He presented some things that definitely gave me chills.

one of Jonny's pics from Afghanistan filled with orbs

Of course, I enjoyed a night on the town with my gals. It is just so refreshing to be with people who get you. I also enjoyed some good cry sessions. I know it might be weird hearing that I "enjoyed" crying, but sometimes it just feels good to let go. During day-to-day life you don't really have time to cry. I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth. You get going with the everyday life, in and out, busy busy that life can get away from you. Sitting down with a good friend and really talking, and really getting to the heart of the matter, and letting the tears and the sobs out, it's freeing and I truly believe it's healthy. I don't think you should bottle it all in until then, of course, let it out when you need, but there is just something about sitting with someone who knows exactly where you're coming from and just gets it.
Some of the girls. I don't know where I'd be without these ladies to remind me I'm "normal"

We also attended the concert at the capitol and I've got to say this is where my grievance with Memorial Day played a big part. A couple people took this the wrong way, so please hear me out. I love the military. Both of my parents served. My grandfather served, my uncle served. Countless friends serve. I love the military and I love veterans. I think they should be thanked every day. Of course I love our guys who have given all and I think they should also be thanked every day. But here's the deal. They are not. There are, however, certain days set aside for acknowledging these groups of people. Memorial Day is the day to honor, remember, and thank those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, who have given their lives. While I think it's cool to thank the vets and all those serving every day, I think the focus of Memorial Day should be those who have died. Plain and simple. The focus should be the fallen. It doesn't mean I don't want everyone to ignore everyone serving, it doesn't mean I think the rest of the military should be quiet, it just means the focus, the presentations and the like, should be geared mostly toward the deceased. And when it comes to that, if they want to talk about families, it should be about the families left behind. I love military families, they are the support system to the military. They have a tough job. Hell, I am part of a military family, but on this day, it should be about the Gold Star families. At the concert, it felt like a Veteran's Day concert. Not that that's exactly a bad thing, it was just a little bit hurtful on the one day that is supposed to acknowledge the deceased. And that is my little rant, the little piece I have to say. Back to the weekend.

The concert was fun, even if a little irritating, and I enjoyed again spending time with fellow widows. Today we explored around DC. We visited the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, and the World War II Memorial, yes in that order. I thought of all the guys that fell long before Jonathan and of all the families that have walked in such similar shoes to my own. I think of their survival and I remember that I am not alone, that so many have come before me and that we will be okay. It sucks, it hurts, but we will be okay. Vietnam was especially moving for me. My father is a Vietnam veteran and I know only a tiny portion of his life at that time and his experience. Minuscule, really. When I visit The Wall, I think of the friends my own father lost and what he has faced and lived with since he has come home. I think of the poor treatment of the service members in that day and I am thankful that my own husband, if he had to die, died in a time where he is honored. I think often of the families of those killed in Vietnam and I wonder what they had to go through and I hope they know that while it might have been a different world  then, their heroes are indeed heroes and they are indeed remembered. I got to find the name of the father of a friend of mine. Her dad was killed in Vietnam and she just reminds me of my own daughter. Ariana will live that life. It comforts me to know that she is a normal adult and all that good stuff (lol) and I was beyond honored to find her dad's name and get a rubbing.

We spent some time at Arlington. I visited a few of my friends' husbands, the guys that died during Jonny's deployment, and one more friend. It was nice to spend a little time with them. Arlington is such a peaceful place, and if I had chosen to bury Jonny I think I'd want him there. It's just a nice place. Strange to say about a graveyard but it's how I feel. 

I took the train home that afternoon and after  spending some much needed time with my little one (she isn't old enough for TAPS Good Grief Camp yet, so she'll most likely be going next year or soon thereafter) and got her in bed, I spent some time with my favorite fallen hero, my own. Many people post photos of the headstones when they visit their hero, so here is mine. We had a couple beers together and a nice chat. I miss this man more than I can even put into words. I so wish I could hear his answers when I speak to him. I will, however, settle with the fact that I felt his presence with me this weekend, as I often do. I know he's with me, and I'm even more certain he is with Ariana. So to my own hero, my beautiful Jonny, my Stink, Happy Memorial Day babe. You are not forgotten and as long as I breathe, you will not be forgotten.

This blog is in memory and honor of those who have given their lives for this country, who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. For the guys that served with my husband and were lost, for those who came before and after him, for the heroes of the widows and families I have met through this journey and those I have yet to meet. For every man and woman who were serving and can no longer be with us.
And to my own hero. My Stink. I love you. Forever and ever, babe. To the moon and back.

I also want to thank all the people who kept me, my family, and all the fallen and their families in their thoughts today. I received so many heartfelt messages on facebook, instagram, and text messages and I just want to thank you all for not forgetting Jonny and the fallen heroes and for not forgetting Ariana, me and the gold star families. Y'all are great :)

Happy Memorial Day
and Semper Fi,

Mrs. P

Roller Coaster Favorite Ride

I wonder sometimes, if roller coasters were built by some philosophical artist. And instead of being just purely for enjoyment, they were truly created to imitate life, and thus give us something to compare life's ups and downs to. I mean think about it, it's perfect. Roller coasters go up and down and make your stomach drop and sometimes make you pee a little. Sometimes, there are sharp unexpected turns. Sometimes they're awesome, sometimes they're scary, sometimes they're disappointing. If we didn't have roller coasters, to what would we compare this whirlwind crazy terrible beautiful thing we call life?

So, yeah, life's a roller coaster. There is, obviously, some rough and stressful schtuff going on. I updated you all on the most difficult of current events last week. Of course, there are every day life stressors occurring, decisions that have to be made, bills that have to be paid... all that. But in the midst, there are some good things, too. So I try to focus on the positive when I get overwhelmed with all the thinking and the have-to-doing.

Number one and something that I am super proud of is I have quit smoking. One week and two days ago, I decided I'd had enough. I started thinking about it and figured I would cut down and do things the "normal" way. Monday I had two cigarettes and was so proud. Tuesday I hung out with a friend and had somewhere around 6 or so cigarettes. Finished the last one of the pack I had around 630 or 7 o'clock that evening and haven't had another sense. I even went to Preakness and indulged in some libations and still didn't smoke. That is thanks to some kick ass friends who, when I just wanted "only one drag" the answer was a resounding no each and every time (thanks guys!). In addition to the quitting smoking I've been seriously hitting the gym and eating healthy. One of my "excuses" for not quitting was a fear of gaining weight. But, if I'm going to be working on losing weight anyway, why do all this work then quit and gain the weight back? Instead, do it at the same time and maybe keep from gaining in the first place. Healthier all around!

Preakness with my friends was so super fun. It was just a girl's day and I was really excited to see my friend Raechel who I haven't seen in months. She is going through some rough times right now as well so it was a much deserved break from real life, if only for a few hours. Funny thing is, we didn't even see the race or the headliner, Pitbull - the two things that were supposed to be the biggest things at Preakness! We did it our way and let me tell you, I had a friggin blast. It was nice to not really think or worry for a while and just laugh and be ridiculous and have fun.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Should be a sad event, but I'm actually pretty excited. I'll be going down to DC for the TAPS National Seminar. It's a weekend full of remembering, honoring, and some fun! I really enjoy my time with fellow widstas and surviving families. Much of the time in every day life, I feel a little odd. I love my friends and my family, so so much, but there's just that general feeling of being different. I guess I just often feel like something is missing (because, duh, it is) which makes me feel a little different from all the other unwidowed folks (is this even making sense?) so it's always nice to be with other people like me. It's nice to be in a place where sadness isn't uncomfortable because we're all walking with it. A place where we're all kind of in-between - we're not "married" we're not "single." We're widowed and that's a combination of both (even for the remarried folks, they get it, too). We're all feeling that "something missing" feeling every day. And a place where we are "celebrating" memorial day for what it really is. It is a day of remembering. It is a day of honoring. It is not "the beginning of summer" (that's actually June 21 if you really wanted to know), it is not a conveniently placed three day weekend, it is not a fab time for weddings because "every one can make it," it is not just a great day for bbqs, it is not veteran's day. And ya know what? I'm cool with the bbq-ing and the celebrating as long as the real meaning of the day is not forgotten (heack I usually have my own Memorial Day bbq!) and I feel most of those attending TAPS feel the same. But I digress, it is not as personal for the majority of Americans as it is for us, and I am getting ahead of myself it is not even Memorial Day yet. Let me get off my soap box. So we'll leave it at this - I'm pretty excited about some TAPS time and getting to see my friends who live all over the country and being able to talk about our loved ones. And about riding the train. It's been a while.

I'm writing a book. I guess. And holy crap I can not believe I'm finally admitting that out loud to everyone! So, I'm working on it, and while I have my own internal deadline for a rough draft, it'll probably take me 20 years. But whatever, I'm trying, mmk?! It is fiction and I think it's a pretty great story, if only I can get it down on the page(s). But that is one more thing I have to look forward to. Sure, it may never be a best seller, may never even see the light of day, but when I'm done I'll be able to say I did it - I wrote a book. So now the truth is out and you all don't have to be so mad at me for my lack of blogging :)

And there ya have it, a few things that I try to focus my thoughts on to push away negativity, a few accomplishments, goals, and general fun things. How about you? What are the happy/exciting/noteworthy things going on in your lives? I miss you guys, talk to me!!

Semper Fi,
Mrs. P

Oh and please don't forget to check out the fundraising site for my uncle, share it with your friends/readers, and if you have anything to spare, please consider making a donation. Every dollar counts :)

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