grief, healing, love, suicide survivor

1 year 7 months and 1 day

 

 

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It’s been that long since my dad passed, It feels like an eternity. Suicide is sudden, there are no goobyes,hugs, kisses or apologies, reconciliation to be had. It’s just over.  It is his birthday today which is why I am writing this blog. He would have been 72 years old today. I know many people reading this have experienced the pain of their parents dying. It is not easy and the pain still feels very heavy for me. People tell me it will get easier as time goes on, I don’t think about my dad as much as I used too, but the pain is still there.

I sat this morning sobbing while my boyfriend held me, just missing my dad. The pangs in my heart feel like a sharp knife. The memories flood in of his loud but charming laughter and ability to be silly and take over a room full of people. As I spend time with my gbaby, I sometimes shock myself as it comes into awareness  that I am mimicking my dad as I play with her. He would with all his grand babies play on the floor with them and do gymnastics moves  and let them climb all over him. He loved them and would teach and interact with whatever activity was going on.

20150411_073124-1I hold on the good memories of my dad. The suicide has become less of a focus for me as time passes. I feel terrible I couldn’t do more for my dad or enough but I am relieved that he doesn’t have to suffer with depression anymore. He doesn’t have to battle through memories of Vietnam or night terrors that he would have to sedate himself with medication to sleep through the night. He is free. I hold on to the things he taught me which was being passionate, bold and having integrity about the things I believed in life. He made me strong and gave me life skills that are innumerous. He never treated me like a princess, I was taught as a girl to carry our own weight in life,literally when we would backpack we had to be able to carry our body weight. I would cry and throw a fit like a girl but my dad would not hear it. We did Ride The Rockies as a family and if you don’t think riding up a mountain pass on a bicycle  I wasn’t freaking out, I was. My dad would just ride beside me and tell me to keep going and that I was wasting my energy crying. I also played on the baseball team my dad coached. He was a semi professional baseball player. I laugh, as I remember him yelling at me from the sideline , “SHAUNA, slide into base.” I would yell back, “not in these jeans,DAD!” He never did understand my want to be fashionable. I fought him but I  realize now it was all for my benefit. Hind sight in always 20/20.

Today I honor my dad on his birthday for the amazing memories of the life we shared and all the traits he left behind in myself, my children and my grandchildren.

 

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What are you thinking?

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Our thoughts are powerful, they are so powerful that the existence we are living, is created out of them. Do you realize how much we think about the future and problems we aren’t having and coming up with solutions with how to fix those problems, we might have? That is not what is happening in the moment. That is a thought. That is all it is. If we recognize this, we can dismiss the thought and tell ourselves that is not happening right now, that is a fear and tell ourselves out loud, I feel scared and walk through the wave of the feeling and not resist it, we will feel better and be able to be present in what we are actually experiencing in the moment. It is amazing to me how much resistance I sometimes feel and I want to run away from that feeling, but I know if I just let the feeling come over me I can move on to thoughts about where I am and what I am actually doing in the moment.

I visualize this cage that has been around my thought life, through the traumas of life I have gone through and blogged about, it has brought me to a place of seeking truth. I knew what the depths of depression felt like loss,grief and hopelessness. I have always felt like there is more to life than material gain, being famous and really wanted to experience freedom and happiness. We live in a very negative world and bad things are happening all around us and the media focuses on them constantly. We focus on things we can’t control that is outside of us. We have been taught to be happy from external sources and in trying to please everyone and live in things we have told us make us happy ,we can’t hear ourselves anymore. When I started practicing yoga and meditation and shutting everything out I allowed myself to observe my thoughts without judgement and let them flow, by doing this I was able to start identifying future, past thoughts quickly to pull myself into the present moment. Our brains are producing thoughts constantly and we are able to be in control of that. It does nothing but stress us out when we think of future problems, it isn’t happening ,it is just a thought. Past thoughts can rule our reality as well, we can live in the terrible things that have happened years ago, those are thoughts. We can dismiss those thoughts, that happened and it’s not right now or in this moment. Feel the feelings around those future and past thoughts, say the feeling out loud and walk through the feeling, there is major freedom in that. You can tell yourself that and bring ourself to the present moment. I have shut off the radio when I drive and I listen to podcasts of speakers talking about living this way.   I have tried to slow down on my social media because I know it is an external source and the true key to living this life is being authentically you; meaning living inside out. I haven’t watched the news in years, the negative is insane to me to focus on and I find value in not focusing on things I can’t control. When we can focus on things we can change, that is when we become affective. All of our energy is focused on that and not on what we can’t do to solve the problem or go to negative thinking that is ineffective and again just a thought, that can be dismissed. It is very powerful to sit in the moment and be totally focused on just that and not a future or past thought taking over,that is our control, this moment. it’s just a thought, what we do with it, is up to us.

Namaste ❤

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flower, friendship, healing, suicide survivor

It hits the spot

I hear my dad’s booming voice, ” That hit the spot”, after eating a meal my mother had prepared for us, rubbing his protruding beer belly in satisfaction. Now that my dad is gone in person, my memory echoes these events that embedded the value of food and the ability for it to somehow fill something inside of us.

Yesterday, I visited my friend who found himself in a hospital after he was hit on his motorcycle, Friday afternoon. He has several broken ribs and his collarbone is broken and he has some head fractures but he will thankfully heal. I was thinking to myself, what do I bring to him to make him feel better? Hospital food is the worst, most of the time they have you so drugged up, candy is the most amazing thing you have ever tasted. I called him and asked him what he felt like eating because I have so much empathy for people who feel like shit and have to eat bad food. He said he trusted me to get him something awesome and healthy. I decided to go to whole foods, it reminds me of living in Europe and having fresh flowers,fruit, meat/fish, deli,bakery and fresh foods not in the open air but in one building. They have a juice bar so I got him a green juice with kale,apple, ginger and spinach with a shot of spirulina, which is the greatest superfood ever for immune support. Their salad bar is the most amazing thing ever so I got him that with a croissant and cream cheese that is made with half cow, half goat cheese and a chocolate bar. They carry the most amazing flowers and have mini bouquets that are really awesome so I got him one of those too. It is a custom in Europe when you visit a friend you bring wine or fresh flowers or food.

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As I was walking out of the hospital I was thinking of my dad and how these little things we do to affect others ,hits the spot.  Life isn’t worth living to me if I don’t feel like I am giving back to the universe . Last night my friend texted me and said, “Everything you brought today was right on point for flavor. none has ever done that before. I am amazed and thankful. Please know you can bring me food anytime.” That is such a great feeling to know you made someones day better. He is a great friend to me too, when I found myself in a dark place last fall he came and helped me with my business, home and gave me some words of comfort during that time. It is the little things in life. Food being the catalyst; it hits the spot of friendship, connection and empathy of being a human.

There are many days I spend after my dad took his life over a year ago, in thought of all things he taught me, I wish I could tell him. I recently went to a funeral and my father was mentioned there, he affected people and me positively. I just wish he knew the impact he had on other people. That is the bummer of death. However, I think I am learning to just pass down what my dad taught me and let his legacy live that way and not in regret of my unspoken words.

Namaste

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Inspired by nature

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There is nothing more beautiful to me than flowers. As a hair colorist, I use them as a guide for colors to be used together and patterns that are seamless. My Nana was an artist, she painted mostly with oils, she also made gorgeous silver jewelry. I have not spent much time painting on canvas but I do use the hair as a canvas and paint color into the hair.

My boyfriend, so wierd to say that, Lol, took me on a date to the Denver Botanic Gardens yesterday.  I can honestly tell you, that was hands down the best date I have ever been on. We both LOVE flowers, it is so great we share that passion, both of our mother’s were/are master gardeners. We took our time and strolled along the paths of perfectly placed stones for the bright colors of every flower imaginable,  to illuminate you on your journey through this paradise. We sat in these super comfy wicker chairs in a glass greenhouse, we sat on benches placed by ponds with  floating water lilies. We sat frequently because Craig’s toe was broken the evening before, by a very large toolbox that rolled over his second toe, helping a friend move. He was a trooper through the whole thing.

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My parents spent their summers in their garden that endlessly grew from flowers and a bird sanctuary,  to ponds, vegetables, fruits, a handmade gazebo my father built, a haven for their grandchildren to practice archery or  shooting BB guns. The peace I feel around flowers is inarticulate ,  just a deep sense of being taken care of by the universe. My dad took his life a year ago in this sanctuary he built for himself.  I can not imagine another place for him that is more perfect to move to the next path he is on in the universe. I imagine him laughing his big contagious laugh as he gives bear hugs to his mom and dad and all our relatives that have passed on,  men who served with dad in Vietnam, and his friends. Every time I look at a flower I have a deep connection with my parents and the love passed down to me through them.

I sold my house of 12 years recently and miss my garden so much!garden picture

Thankfully,Craig is in the process of a total remodel of his entire backyard ,that includes these incredible plants to attract butterflies. They are already coming , I am so grateful that I can participate in this project with him, to get my hands in the dirt.

I will leave you with what inspired me yesterday for colors. I have found that when we find something we are passionate about in this life we really start to live the gifts that have been given to us. I am so happy right now in my life and have found freedom, the emotions tied to this  has created a artistic flame I can’t say I have experienced before. I am very grateful and choose daily to not live in fear but trust that everything will be provided for in the perfect moment by living in the moment and day by day.

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Namaste ♡

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love, parenting

A mother’s story of love

Do you have fear about how your child will turn out? As a strong willed person myself, I gave birth to a child, that is strong willed with wings. She was my first child so I had no comparison of personalities until my other two children arrived. I really wasn’t that freaked out when she was little, I bought and own every ‘ your strong willed child ‘book available to help me and she was developmentally ahead and ready for school at 4 years old, I didn’t think that was odd, considering my disposition and her bad behavior thankfully stayed at home, most of the problems were with me. There were years I seriously didn’t think she would live through, in her late teens. So many sleepless nights.  I give her credit for my grey hair and the bags that seem to get darker under my eyes from lack of sleep and worry over the years.

She gave birth in August and became this stellar mom. It was jaw dropping to watch her transform into this responsible, loving mom. Her natural protection for her daughter and this instinctual ability to calm and nurture her little one was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  I was fortunate to be a big part of copeland’s first six months of life when they lived with me. I am so attached as a Gma, I literally feel withdrawal if I don’t see her at least once a week. She is a single mom supporting copeland on her own and refuses to use the welfare system, for her own desire to provide for Copeland, I find that admirable, it is incredibly challenging at times for her to do this.  She and I talk daily and the wisdom at such a young age comes pouring out of her mouth, I definitely was not that self aware at 22. All the hard work, fights, counseling, prayers and unconditional love payed off. My dad once told me, “never give up on your kid.” He can say that with experience,  I was a total nightmare myself growing up. It is the best gift I have ever received ,to watch this process and growth in her,she has choosen to use the tools she learned in counseling and applies them to her daily life. She also is a voracious reader where she also finds and applies knowledge from.

We went grocery shopping together recently,  I am used to seeing my daughter buy and live on processed and fast food, normal for a young person, but left me reeling inside because I am such a health nut. Whenever I would juice she would reject it and she would eat at home as least as possible so she would not have to eat chicken, she hated chicken, or vegetables. So you can imagine my internal jumping for joy when she started filling the cart with fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, meats and things that actually benefits your body. She had made a menu for the week and was actually meal planning. I recently made one of her creations with turkey sausage and peppers.  Mother’s day she made steak street tacos, seriously amazing! Through osmosis this happened! I guess the moral of the story is our kids learn from us even when it looks and acts like they are not.

So if you are parenting a strong willed child right now in the midst of a lot of despair and turmoil, hold on! That strong will turned into purpose is worth every thing you are going through and have gone through. I have no doubt that life will be amazing for these two! Love is always where it’s at.

Namaste ♡

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healing

Termination

I sat across from my therapist as he explained the process, he called it termination in psychology terms. He said, ” I don’t like terms as they label but that what it’s called, it means you have changed your thought processes and reactions for six months, the daily practice of meditation, breathing, living in the moment and really changing how you react to people, is the amount of time it takes the brain to process differently and change your responses”. I used to personalize way too much which caused me to feel and want to be defensive. That was exhausting and draining to live with on a daily basis.  Really hearing my voice and spending tons of time alone meditating and doing yoga, feeling my intuitive abilities has been mind blowing to help process heavy emotions and work through things I need too. I prioritized with my therapist to practice this daily to be able to change the way I processed and thought.

I have never felt this visually creative and connected to my work since I can remember but what I notice is that I feel happy. I haven’t felt happy in years and there is such a spark to creativity feeling happy and at peace. My life is hysterically imperfect but how  I respond is the only thing I have control over. I have so learned that Weither I loose my mind or not is my choice. I have been the queen of going through a stressful situation and making it ten times worse because I am not trusting and have great fear and look and sound like a howler monkey dying. We are human,I learned to quit judging myself and thoughts so much, I have to laugh at myself. That or cry. I have cried and been unhappy for a long time. I believe happiness is a choice. It comes from being grateful because when we are grateful we are able to see the good, if the NEGATIVE isn’t highlighted and underlined. There are always good things that happen on our shittiest of days, if we open to seeing them.  I am learning that I am loved and I can receive that now. I do not hate myself anymore and have accepted myself the good, bad, ugly, all of it. I truly have realized I am taken care of by a power greater than me but lives in me always and has, I just received it completely by trusting, not being driven by guilt or fear, but love. It is the greatest most freeing thing I have ever experienced, which is to accept myself, I notice I can accept other people and live in a moment and just be there, in a conversation, at lunch etc. To have control over my overactive brain of anxiety, worry, fear and control my whole life and to experience silence, love and peace is life changing.  I am so grateful!

Namaste♡images

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grief, love, suicide survivor

Deathday

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My dad took his life, a year ago ,yesterday. I can tell you now ,that I was in complete shock for some time, to function after he died. As I mourned and remembered him yesterday, I experienced this dull pain all day and it felt when I awoke, that someone had sat on my chest.

I had decided to take the day off from work, because I didn’t know exactly how I would feel. I went through photo albums in the morning from my childhood and happier times for my father. Suicide is difficult to process because it happens immediately,  there is no  time to prepare for them leaving this earth and having rational thoughts about why and time to process that they will be moving on. It happens and you are left to put the pieces together. I feel as though I have lived on the grief ladder all year, climbing through shock, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  That is the big one, accepting the loss.

I definitely wanted the day to hold meaning, but this isn’t a birthday celebration, it’s a deathday and to my knowledge there is no form of celebration for that. I decided to drive to see my oldest daughter and granddaughter. There is something magical about babies, their smell, smile and innocence that envelopes them. Copeland let me hold her for hours, she just seemed to melt in my lap and let me absorb her love. I am so grateful for her! This past year when I have had to go through dark times, Copeland’s energy and love has seen me through, almost like a direct link to healing. While I held my granddaughter tight and wished my dad could have met her, my daughter and I reflected on the person my dad was, while listening to Abba. My dad was goofy and would dance around the living room, shaking his hips to the sounds of Abba growing up. My daughter glowed as she recounted my dad calling her,” Hotshot”. I was a single mom to my oldest daughter until she was five, and my father was very close to her. In a way she lost a lot more than her grandpa, she lost her daddy too, or the only one she felt that way about.  It is so strange how when someone you love dies, it is really only the positive things, you really remember, at least in my experience.

I had made plans after school ,to go with my younger two children to visit the site, he was layed to rest. We stopped to get him a beer before we arrived.  My dad loved to sit outside in the gazebo he built and have a beer. We arrived feeling pretty sad and the weather was a perfect gray with a few drops of rain to let us know we weren’t alone in our grief.  We slowly walked back to the car, remembering his red, white and blue ballon release at his memorial  the year before as we looked at the sky in longing.

We left the church that held my dad’s remains and at this point I had decided we are going to celebrate my dad. So we went to his favorite restaurant and ordered steaks and lobster tail.  As I sat across from my kids we talked about memories of my dad, and all the time we got to spend with him. A older man approached our table and talked to my kids with the same silly ,demeanor my dad would have used. It really felt like my dad visited us in this man, he gave us a hug and returned to his table where his wife scolded him. He winked at us and said loudly ,”thanks for the conversation. ”

I am so happy I acknowledged this day. There was no better way to spend it, then remembering my dad for all the amazing qualities we have because of him. My children’s love for him is heart melting and I really wish he knew how much he meant to everyone. I decided I will celebrate his birthday and the day he left this earth every year. I miss him so much! I am grateful for all the lessons he taught me. Rest in peace pappa.

Namaste ♡

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