something to hold onto

Sometimes I wonder why I still blog. I mean, it is kind of a dying thing. But then I start writing and I remember that sometimes an online journal can be healing. So I think that is where I am today. I don’t know what I need to say, but I need to say it.

Five weeks ago I took off work and took my grandma to the doctor. She had been so nauseous for days and was having pain in her stomach and back. She’s so stubborn, I doubt she would have went to the doctor even then if my brother and I hadn’t pushed her. Her doctor ran some tests and that was when we found all the cancer. It was everywhere. Evenso, Grandma said, “I’m not ready to go yet, fellas. I’ve still got stuff to do.” The next week she had an appointment with a cardio-thoracic surgeon and the next week she had a scoping procedure. And a week after that she was gone. Three weeks. My grandma has been gone from me for 2 weeks now and I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around it.

You never want to play favorites with family as it would likely hurt someone’s feelings. But she was my favorite. And she knew it. I made sure she knew it. She and I had gotten so close over the last 6 years, and even more so after my divorce. I could tell her anything and everything and she’d just hug me. We’d spent nights staying up late watching movies and talking about life. One year I was there several days every weekend as she was helping me make an afghan throw as a gift. It was so much fun. She had no problems making fun of my crocheting skills. 🙂 She taught me how to make meringue and how to scrub a floor. She taught me how to sew and she demonstrated a work ethic I still try to live up to. Every time I traveled she’d make us get out the atlas and look up where I’d be, so she could find me. She was my bonus-mom, best friend, biggest champion.

Grandma started getting sick about the time the quarantines, work-from-home, and lockdowns really started. After she passed we couldn’t have a funeral. We couldn’t grieve as a family. My brother and I just went back to work.

Everything about this present time just doesn’t seem real. Not leaving the house, strategically planning grocery pick ups, the strain of a busy work schedule, and her being gone. All the things that used to tether me are scattered and I just can’t grasp the strings. It makes one question just how many things can be taken away before you forget who you are?

It sounds so very trivial, but I need to start caring about the things I cared about before all of this. My health, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, and relationships all need to mean something and be priorities again. I’ve started on those first 4 today…a tiny baby step that I’m not even going to write here because it’s so very small that I’ll discourage myself before I even start. If I can keep adding those babysteps every day, my hope is that they will snowball into bigger leaps.

So that is where I am today. I’m considering this part of my journaling and decided I’d share it with you in case anyone is sitting in the same spot that I am currently. I hope that you can find just one thing to grab onto, and take a tiny babystep to making your grip a little stronger. We’re in this together.

TODAY I LOVE: Animal Crossing New Horizons
SONG OF THE DAY: “Feel Me” by Selena Gomez

the key

Today I’m going to tell you all a little story about a key. Honestly, I’d meant to write about it a long time ago, but all the drama involving my eye overshadowed this tale. I probably wouldn’t be writing about it now, however, it’s been so interesting watching people get up the courage to ask me, “So what’s with the key around your neck?” It’s happening several times a week now. It made me realize I never really told anyone why.

If you’ve been reading along on this blog for any length of time you know I’ve been working so hard to correct my mental, emotional, and spiritual Sarah. It’s been a super hard process but I’m very proud of how far I’ve come. I still have a long way to go.

Back in October, on my 39th birthday, I bought myself a Giving Key. I think the Giving Key premise is so, so cool. I believe the movement was originally founded to help homelessness in LA. (I could have that wrong; don’t hold me to it.) Anyway, I bought a key with a word on it, and I wear it on a chain around my neck. I’ll keep wearing it until I feel it’s done what I need it to do in my life, and then I give it away to someone who might need it next. (At least that is how I’m going to do it.)

On my 39th birthday I decided I wanted to start some good habits instead of the bad. I want to be in a better mental space by the time I get to my 40th birthday.

Confession time. Those who know me really well, those select few, know how I think and how I react, and more deeply know how I treat myself. I am not a very nice person to me. I let negative thoughts and ugly talk take over all my thoughts. I’m never good enough, smart enough, thin enough, talented enough… the list goes on. I am a perfectionist and everything I do always needs to be better. I’m never enough. I know these are lies, but when you tell yourself the lies over and over and over and over for years on end it is hard not to believe them.

My key has the word “GRACE” imprinted on it. It is there to remind me, every second, to give as much GRACE to myself as I give others. It’s there to remind me to give myself the GRACE that God has given to me. I would never in my life say any of the things I say to myself to others. It’s cruel.

For the most part, it is doing what I need it to do. It just takes a while to correct a habit that is years in the making. But I have to try. 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: tacos. I really want a taco.
SONG OF THE DAY: “Bring My Flowers Now” by Tanya Tucker

the first cut is the deepest

Hidey Ho, Neighbor! Can anyone name the show?

Wowza, that first week of this year was a doozy. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t officially the “first” week, but it was the first for me. What even is WORK?

This week in a nutshell: I had an eye doctor appointment, I got strep throat, and I listened to a LOT of Dolly Parton.

First things first…my eye doctor appointment. It’s no secret I was hoping for good news but maybe anticipating the worst? I’ve been seeing a surgeon for my eye since the first week of my infection. For several weeks I was seeing him every day, and then every other day, and then twice a week, and this was my first appointment in 6 weeks. He’s seen me so frequently he wanted a period of time to gauge healing. The infection has been gone officially for about 8 weeks, but the scar tissue left behind is significant. It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 months since this all happened. Since my life changed dramatically.

The results…no change. He measured the size of the scarring on my cornea and it’s identical to 6 weeks ago. The density (or thickness) is still the same. And the vision in my eye (with my glasses on – my prescription before the infection) is the same. What does that mean? Well, it’s kinda done doing anything fast for now. It *might* get a little better but we are talking years and not months or weeks. So. So, now I know what I’m dealing with.

At the end of February I have an appointment to get my vision checked again. This will help me establish what the new, stronger prescription will be in my bad eye. The hope is they will be able to try to correct the vision in my bad eye as best as they can, however, the distortion is never going to go away. The fractures, the smudges, and fog…I’m stuck with that. My right eye is never going to be *right* again. He said he will see me again in a year and we will evaluate again next steps. Oh, he also changed out my steroid drops for a lower, more long-term version. I’m still putting drops in my eye twice a day for at least the next 3 months.

I expected this news deep down, but it was still crushing to hear. This is my life now. I’ve got to figure it out. It’s my hope I’ll eventually get comfortable with driving. And really bright places. And depth perception. I miss running and I miss hiking, both of which I stopped completely because almost everything I see I have to guess where it actually is.

Sitting here now, a few days post appointment, I’m sad but I’m also a planner. I’ll figure this out. I need those contacts and then I’ll start this new thing all over again.

In other news, I was also diagnosed with strep throat this week. Not fun at all. I’m on day 4 of antibiotics and finally feeling the razor blades in my throat retreat. Happy day.

Lastly, Dolly Parton! She was the first artist I drew out of my 2020 music jar. I knew all of her “big” hits but some of there other stuff is SO GOOD. I’m going to start a playlist of my favorites from this 2020 music project. If anyone would like to follow along, message me and I’ll share it with you. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites from Dolly:

  • Here You Come Again
  • Down From Dover
  • Just Because I’m a Woman
  • Two Doors Down
  • Jolene (because of course)
  • Eagle When She Flies (the best. You’ll cry.)

Have a great week everyone!

TODAY I LOVE: lavendar

SONG OF THE DAY: “Eagle Then She Flies” by Dolly Parton

20/20: perfect vision

Recently I heard the line, “know the difference between spectacular and significant.” It was said in the context of ourselves. How often do we look at others, in all their spectacular glory, and wish we were different? I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a lot. I fail to recognize my own significance for the spectacular brilliance of others. Taking that little nugget of thought into account, it has shaped my goals for this coming year.

I write these posts every year and I’m usually good if I complete 50% of what I say I’m going to do. I don’t know if this year will be the same, but here are my hopes and wishes for the coming year:

  • Write more handwritten things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as anti-paper as you can come. As the years go by the less I use the the penmanship Mrs. Miller in third grade worked so hard to instill in me. Also, as the years go on, the more I value receiving handwritten things. It takes time and it takes intentionality. I want to do that. I want to write more and let me people know I’m taking the time to speak to them.
  • Photography. I do say this one every year and every year I fail. I have great camera equipment and now I have the space to use it. I need to be better at documenting things I’m going to miss when they’re gone; my family.
  • Use the library more. And read. Diving into a world not my own brings me so much joy. I need to do it more.
  • Work / Life balance. I need to find it more than ever. This is probably this biggest one. I love my job, but I need to leave more of it in the office.
  • Journaling and devotionals. I’ve found a few that I’ve hand-picked to help me with my anxiety and faith. It’s my prayer they will be the umbrella above my life and help me with all the things I’d like to achieve.
  • Be authentic in my relationships. I’m starting the year in a new romantic relationship and it’s new and it’s fresh and it’s exciting. It’s my hope that I can continue to be ME, the real me, for as long as it may last. I can’t lose who I am. And if I choose the right people, I won’t have to.
  • Being a musician again. Oh how I miss this. All through high school and college music was my job but also my outlet; my place to express. I’ve found my instruments, I’ve ordered a new metronome and method book…I’m ready to get my playing chops back. If I get good enough, maybe I’ll join the community band. Watch out, SGF. I was pretty good back in the day.

Alright. I have one more and it’s a biggie. This is more of a dream goal, one that I won’t get accomplished in 2020, but needs to get started in 2020. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of money (that I don’t have) but I’m going to throw this out here. As you all know, I’ve been really enjoying yoga this last quarter of the year. It’s one thing I can do, even with a bad eye, and it’s brought me so much mental silence and peace. I want to be better. I want to get certified in it. And maybe someday…teach it. GASP. I’m trying not to tear myself down for even saying it out loud, because there are about 1,000 reasons why it probably wouldn’t work anyway. But despite those 1,000 reasons I’m still thinking about it. It’s a goal that I’m willing to work towards.

So. This is me. This is the me that is going into 2020 with open eyes. (Hopefully eyes that will get 20/20 vision back.) 🙂

Happy New Year, my friends. Let’s do this.

TODAY I LOVE: fragrant hot tea

SONG OF THE DAY: “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer

2019 in review

A very dear friend of mine, Willie, shared this with me after one of my most raw posts this past year. I’ve kept this as a reminder that I vowed to be real and not fake, no matter the cost. It’s special to me.

I was almost dreading writing this post. I’ve done it every year for as many as I can remember and this is one of the few years that I wanted to pass. 2019 was a hard year for me. It seems as if every hard year (from the last several) has been leading up to this one. Hopefully this was the climax and now I can have smooth sailing for a while? We shall see.

This year has been plagued by health issues. I started the year with the flu (head and stomach.) I’ve fought stomach issues for nearly half the year, and I managed to get an eye infection that almost left me blind. I’ve spent more money in Pepto Bismol, Tums, and eye drops than anything else this entire year.

I’ve gained and lost weight.

2019 was a year of dealing with multiple years worth of emotional baggage and depression that I’ve kept stuffed way down deep in my soul. Last year my ex-husband remarried and this year they welcomed their first child. While that simple sentence shouldn’t have impacted or bothered me in the least, it upset me tremendously and forced me to deal with feelings and emotions that I’d just kept shoving aside since our divorce.

I ended a long-term, long-distance relationship. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. And in doing it I just added to the pain of this year.

So….that’s the bad.

But here’s how I’m looking at it all today…

Dealing with all the emotions regarding my ex, his new family, and our old relationship, was incredibly painful. But doing so forced me to be real with a whole lot of people. I decided to take off the mask I’d been wearing for years, and you got the real Sarah. Take it or leave it. It forced me to broaden my circle of “people.” We all need people. We can’t do this life alone. It brought me my church and it brought me the girls in my LifeGroup. It made me write here more and believe it or not, it opened up so many private conversations with people! We were able to help each other. All this to say, one of the my most painful moments and hurtful years turned out to have a purpose and a point. I’m thankful that I can sit here and say that now.

I don’t know that I can find any way to spin my health issues. My eye is still not well and I’m not really sure how much clear sight and vision I’ll get back. I’ll be back to the doctor/surgeon first thing in January to check my progress and make a plan. Dealing with the limitations of my sight now are an ongoing frustration, but I’m so lucky to have dear friends and loved ones that help me out when I need it (mostly driving) and have patience with me because I’m just slow (terrible depth perception).

I’m looking back on this year as an awful, terrifying, dark and twisty roller-coaster ride. But you know the feeling, right after the last stomach-dropping loop that you cruise steady? The cart slows down, the track is straight, and everything settles back into place? The cart is barely moving back to the starting position? That’s me right now. The awful ride is over and now I can smile back on it in hindsight.

I’m spending a lot of time thinking about 2020. I’ll update you on that soon. 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: glitter

SONG OF THE DAY: “Hold You Dear” by The Secret Sisters

ewwww, david. no.

(from Life.Church)

Do any of you have any phrases that you say to yourself just out of habit? I do. It’s usually under my breath, and almost always after I’ve done something dumb or I’m overwhelmed. It is always, “Oh my goodness, Sarah. What in the world.” (Not a question, just a statement.) I have said that a LOT lately. I also keep repeating Alexis’ line from Schitt’s Creek, “Ewwww, David. No!” almost anytime I have to do something I don’t want to.

To start, some updates. So far the infection has been gone for 1 week, and even with constant rechecks it hasn’t returned. H-O-O-R-A-Y. That’s the good news. The bad, the scar tissue on my cornea is just horrid. I think I’ve finally found the perfect description of what it is like. Imagine trying to look through 6 pieces of saran wrap (cling film). Everything is warped and distorted. Driving is awful and brings me a lot of anxiety every time I have to get behind the wheel. But I’m making it, adapting, learning how to groove with what I have. Our bodies are kind of amazing. I’m not sure the timeframe on all the healing I have remaining, I just keep being told to have patience. As any woman knows, being told to “Calm down and relax” is almost always going to give you a very different reaction. 🙂

Elimination diet…haven’t talked about it for a while. I had made it through the full 9 weeks having concluded that food is not the cause of my discomfort. I did, however, glean some pretty great info on foods that DO cause some kind of reaction in me. Because of that, and because I was just so used to the diet by that point, I kept it up and I’m still staying pretty close to it even now. I eat very little grains/gluten. Very little legumes. Very little dairy (only some hard cheese…I told you I love cheese.) Little to no eggs. I will forgo all of these rules at Thanksgiving because there are just some things you get at holidays that you can’t enjoy any other time throughout the year.

So what am I doing now? I’m trying to smile every day. I’m surrounding myself with people who care about me. I’m not running outside yet due to the eye (depth perception is not great at all), but I’m doing yoga and loving it. I’m not sitting home alone every night. I’m putting myself out there and allowing vulnerability in a variety of ways. I’m intentionally trying hard to be encouraging to others. I often am reminded of the Brandi Carlile lyrics in one of my favorite of her songs, “do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?” I even have that on a t-shirt. 🙂

This weekend I heard the phrase, “A waiting season is not a wasted season.” Oh so true! All of this is going to add up to something…and it might be where I am currently. Like I’ve said over and over the course of this year…I have to be ok with where I am, otherwise the human in us is only going to see the darkness and how far we still have to go. Where I am now, EVEN WITH MY JANKY BROKEN EYE, is better than where I was. Every single time someone tells me, “You are different.” I am smiling. Because I am.

TODAY I LOVE: The Netflix show “Schitts Creek.” I LOVE THIS SHOW.
SONG OF THE DAY: “That Wasn’t Me” by Brandi Carlile

goals, direction, and starting to see light.

Seeing the light arriving

Greetings, my friends! And Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is having a great and relaxing weekend. It has been raining off and on yesterday and today and honestly it’s been nice to chill for a hot minute. I did quite a bit of socializing this week and was oh-so-ready for a day to be a hermit and recharge.

I do apologize that my writing has been so sporadic lately. I certainly didn’t intend for this to blog to only be used when I’m feeling down in the dumps. Now that I’ve made great strides crawling out of the dark place, I guess I’m trying to decide which direction to take this thing now.

First things first, some updates. This week will be Week 6 of my elimination diet. As I said in my last post, I’ve been adding things in and taking them out for a few weeks now. Even though I do believe now that most of my health issues are being caused by something other than food, it has been very enlightening to find out what foods do cause a reaction of any kind in my body. I *think* I’ve found out this week that dairy actually increases my heartburn. This makes me very sad, as cheese is practically one of my love languages. Anyway, the experiment continues. After that first week I’ve managed to maintain my calories at my normal level. Cravings are gone. I sleep well (for the most part). I don’t have a headache everyday. All that to say, I’m going to keep this experiment going for a while.

Beginning September I started running again. I’ve also added in yoga (in addition to strength training.) I’m really, really enjoying it. I’m not sure what finally made the switch flip in my brain, but I’m looking forward to workouts again rather than seeing them as a chore. I’m also looking forward to setting some goals for each of those areas for October. I haven’t set any kind of athletic goal in AGES! This is great mental progress for me.

So, where do I go from here? Someone told me this morning, “Every time I see you you’re always smiling! It makes me smile.” I guarantee the gal who said it had no idea how much it effected me, and probably not even for the reason that you’d imagine. I think maybe after all these months I’m finally figuring out that it really is all up to me on my perspective of things. I’m not in control of anything and I need to stop trying to grapple for it like a lifeline. I can’t control what people think of me, I can rarely control what happens to me. The one thing I can control? My perspective. If I can do that then the lows won’t be so low. The highs are even higher. And every thing isn’t nearly so dark. Life is quite a lot sweeter when you let it happen.

I’m looking forward to this week. I’m going home this weekend for our fall festival. I haven’t been back to it in probably 15+ years. This would normally probably cause me anxiety…but it’s going to be ok. I’m going to choose to look at is as an opportunity to enjoy some folks I haven’t seen in quite some time. Plus the parade! Band nerds unite! What are you looking forward to this week?

TODAY I LOVE: dry shampoo (seriously gals, am I right?!)
SONG OF THE DAY: “Alice from Dallas” by Foy Vance