Over a year ago, I did something I never thought I’d have to do. Because doctors were not helping me with my mother (who has dementia and is getting worse), I contacted adult protective services on my own to beg for help. The state came through, albeit an extremely slow process. They sent a wonderful man by the name of Mr. Hardin out to my mom’s home to evaluate things and he immediately agreed, upon meeting my mom and seeing the state of what I was dealing with (alone, as an only child), that I needed and deserved help in dealing with her.

That day back in January of 2018, I started a process of trying to get guardianship of my mother. Not something fun. Not a responsibility any human being really “wants” to have, but one that I knew in my heart was necessary. Now, we have reached a point where I need conservatorship, as well. And this is posing a problem at a number of levels. Alas, the doctors have all finally come through and given the state the information, documentation, and support that was needed to start a court case and here we are.

Except, today I found out that there is a thing called a “conservatorship bond,” and it’s something I have to not only pay for myself (which is hilarious because the reason for filing for legal guardianship and conservatorship for my mom is mostly financial – or the lack of finances, rather, for being able to put her into a better living situation with round the clock care or even in home care) but also something I have to qualify for based on my credit history. My credit history is not perfect, I’m not ashamed to say, because of student loans (which I have recently managed to get out of default, but still…). This could easily put a cramp in things, depending on the judge who hears the case.

I am anxious, I am stressed, I am worried, I am just almost at a loss. I have fought for so long to be able to legally care for my mother in the ways in which she needs care but refuses to allow me to care for her on my own, and in ways that a simple POA will not effect. And here I am, at risk of not being able to receive the legal help I need because of student loans and credit history and my disabilities due to mental illness (major depression, PTSD, extreme anxiety, etc.).

I just want to be able to take care of my mother and the law says, “you may not be competent.” Well, I’ve been competent enough for the last three years since my dad died to do so. And nothing has changed about that, except I am stronger and have learned so much about taking care of someone with her issues and illnesses. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I just want it to be over.

Hopefully within the next month I will FINALLY hear from a state appointed lawyer. Hopefully by the end of the year, I will be given my day in court with my mother to plead for the ability to care for her properly, make decisions she can’t, and make sure her bills are being paid (which they are not, at least not regularly, now).

If anyone reads this and has been in this situation or has any words of wisdom, I’d really appreciate reading them. I’m slowly coming to an end with my ability to see any positives about any of this, except keeping my mother alive…

As a child and young teenager I felt like the most unwanted, unloved, motherless human being on the planet. This morning I am reminded that I have had more mothers than I prayed for in those days (and probably more than I deserved), and that blooming takes time but it’s beauty is worth continuing on to experience, to behold within, and perhaps someday express or offer to someone else.

This morning I am reminded that the universe has ALWAYS surrounded me with strong, courageous, positive, mothering and loving women who have given me the lessons and the benefits of their strength and even sometimes their weakness, their hope, their courage, their experience and their love – even when they haven’t realized it, even though they weren’t my birth or adoptive mothers.

This morning I am grateful – grateful for who they were and are, and grateful for who I was, have become, and will be because of the many lights they have shone in my life. I am reminded of my personal belief that we do not become who we are and we don’t bloom into our whole selves because we do it all alone – there are always those lights in our lives to outshine our darkest moments and feed our souls like sunshine. Sometimes the sources of that light are people (and animals) – whether strangers in the market line or at the post office, strangers online who make us smile or even become true friends and inspirations, or people in our daily lives who become our friends, whether they remain in our lives for long or a short time…whether they still live or they pass away.

This morning I am…very simply put…overwhelmingly grateful – for the lights that have shone on me in th past and the ones that continue to do so – the glints and gleams that illuminate and encourage my spirit, that help me to grow and ever evolve into a better me than I was each day that’s come before.

Finally, this morning I am reminded of a very important thing for my soul self: Motherly love is not a label or a static characteristic – it’s a state of being…and it can come from just about anywhere, if you’re open to receive it. I am. ❤️

Vision: iPhone 6, Olloclip

Tools: Mextures (formula SRPVZKE)

11 years ago today, where we used to live in Coosa County. Actually this was taken in 2004 but I edited it and posted it 11 years ago today.

A lot of days I miss it. Not today, but a lot of days. I’m also very grateful for where we are now in many ways. Especially with depression, but maybe for everyone, peace comes and goes.

I see people strive so hard to attain peace when the reality is that it just comes and goes. Sometimes, it’s even harder to attain when you’re working so hard to find it. Sometimes, most of the time, if it’s to be had it’s just right there within. That’s been my experience.

We are human. It’s hard to be at peace in a world where you see so much that is wrong – abused children and elderly and animals and women and even men, hell, people in general. Wars. TRUMP. Capitalism. Most everyone getting the short end of a very fucked up stick… Yes – if you have any compassion or heart at all, if you care anything at all about others, it’s very hard to live in this world and have a constant feeling of peace.

But, we can speak kindly, offer a hand, take responsibility and apologize when we have not behaved our best, and do our best not to be a part of the problem. Of course we always will be because for most of us there is no way not to be a consumer. But you get what I’m saying, right? Peace comes and goes. Good times and bad times fluctuate – just like weight and the economy and lots of other things.

The only certain thing for me is that one day I’ll be dead and a few generations after that I’ll be forgotten and cease to matter. I intend to make it count while I’m here – and that’s what we did back then. I’m grateful to be where I am today. I wouldn’t trade a thing for my child. But the days back when this was taken? Not even gonna lie. Best days of my life.

Nothing can beat the freedom of that life. The people I had around me. The beauty and seclusion of where I lived. The lack of worry and responsibility for another human being…. Easy times. And we knew it. And we lived it to the fullest. And I’m grateful for every memory and experience. ❤️❤️

I hope that you have a lovely day today…

All the love,

C.

My friend Dawn shared a video that touches on something that I have been considering and trying to figure out how to express for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dawn. I have had SUCH turmoil in my spirit for SO long about the things shared in this video – and now, that’s just gone.

Before 2015, and even for a short time after my father died – while I was still in denial – I was who and what Dawn expresses throughout this video. I believed. I didn’t believe in religion – I had already fought my battles with that and overcome and undone the hold religion had had on me as a child and teenager, because of the way it was so misused and so abusive and manipulative. I had not (and still have not) completely overcome the trauma of that abuse, but I am much farther down the road of recovery. I didn’t believe in “that” God – but in the Source. A higher power. An energy. And I believed in signs.

I believed in our ability as humans to connect with higher spiritual energies and forces and to receive guidance and to guide others. I knew that I had a gift and that I always had – I was able to understand that part of the reason I was so strongly opposed to religion was that I had always been more connected to that source than to buildings and books and that the source was found in the natural world that I had adored and revered throughout my life. I believed in the power of nature to heal, to guide, to teach, and to comfort. I believed in life, and not death.

I had faith – so much faith. I was positive and more happy and at peace with life and with myself than I had ever been, and all just felt right. Real. And yes, peaceful, even in times of pain and struggle. Even though I was at this place and knew I had been awakened and was living with my eyes and my heart open, I struggled with the physical complication of depression and anxiety – not because I didn’t believe in good or higher power or whatever you want to label it but because my body didn’t manage its chemicals very well.

When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going through a loss of a different kind along with that terrifying and excruciating experience with my best friend, I held fast to my faith despite the creeping depression. My father died unexpectedly one week after the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and I continued to hold fast, knowing that he had been prepared and ready for his own death for some time. He had struggled and suffered for many years, and though his death was unexpected (diabetic coma leading to stroke and then to the sepsis which eventually shut down his body one organ at a time over the course of five days), he was at rest. At peace.

For another 8 months my best friend fought and struggled and suffered, and I was there. I was there until she pushed me away and asked me not to be. She did this with many, to be fair – she was afraid, she lost her ability to cope, and instead of realizing t was a brain tumor and fear speaking for her I believed it was what she really wanted and thought I was respecting her wishes. Weeks went by and during this time my faith began to waiver and my grip began to loosen on that rope that had always held me through those difficult times. She passed away 8 months to the day that we buried my father, and in that moment, part of my soul quite literally died along with her.

Since then I have struggled. I slipped so far down that taking my own life was an option and something I planned out and would have followed through with and completed had something inside me not spoken up and cried out to my husband for help. I don’t know why that happened, aside from my fear of leaving my son without a mother and destroying him, but it did happen and because of his help, and my willingness to fight a really fucked up system, I was able to finally get the help and the medication that I desperately needed. I still struggle. I still rarely leave my home. But in so many ways, I AM better.

In the spiritual areas, though? I have continued to struggle the hardest there. To founder. To nearly drown only to be held afloat by the tiniest life preserver with the thinnest thread attaching it to me. That life preserver has been comprised of my son, of music, of art and photography, and my unwillingness to just pretend like I’ve been ok. I found more strength in vulnerability and allowing myself to share my reality than in “faking it.” Only through doing that was I able to cross paths with some of the most healing people I’ve had touch my life in the past year. People who have encouraged me to continue to share and to have faith and hope, if not in healing, and the possibility of mending and growing and learning to live with the ache of grief, loss, and the “not understanding” or not having the answers or the closure I thought I needed.

Dawn has always been one of those people, and I am so grateful. Even though Dawn and I may be on slightly different paths in career and life in general in many ways, we also share things in common that connect us in very special ways – cancer, loss, grief, “the struggle,” seeking the way (whatever that may be for each of us) – and, what she expresses here about “giving it all away” is so accurate and in tune with where I am…

And that is the other issue that’s been weighing on me: the issue of why I give away (or dump out, as someone once said to me, and I can’t help but laugh at that because it’s so close to true so much of the time) so much stuff – just give it away with no real concern about marketing it or branding it or selling it. “Why do you just give all this creativity and energy away for free? You don’t even try to gain followers or build your brand.”

Because…I don’t want to. I create for the same reason that I breathe. I don’t WANT to make money from it. Making money from it takes away the spiritual connection and soul that I want to express. I LIKE giving myself away, as it were. I LIKE sharing myself and my creative stuff.

I used to like working on computers and tinkering and writing weird programs and so on, and then when I let people convince me to turn it into a career the heart got lost. It became stress. The same thing happened with my photography. I let people convince me to “work harder” and to get into shows and to build a site to sell it and so on, and it became stress instead of joy.

I don’t need to sell these things and I don’t want to sell them. I don’t feel like they can be valued by a price tag and that if they are then it somehow takes away from the true value of what is there. You can’t put a price tag on peace – your own or anyone else’s. It is PRICELESS. And if anything I have to offer can bring that to me or to anyone who shares in my creative endeavors, it’s absolutely worth the “freedom” – at many levels.

Ultimately, as Dawn shares, it’s healing for me to “give it away” because it’s healing for me to create – it’s my PURPOSE to create. I’m going to create regardless and if I feel that giving it away and even just possibly being of help to someone else, even if inadvertently, can be a part of that process…well, why shouldn’t that be free? A lack of monetary value doesn’t make that worth nothing. At least, not in my soul…

Sharing is priceless. It helps me to believe – and it helps me to believe even more when other people cross paths with me via my creative sharing and say, “hey, I believe, too!” or better yet, “hey, I know the struggle so well but I’m hanging on, too. Let’s hang on together. Let’s learn together. Let’s share. Let’s grow together.” Those people exist. Many of you who are regular readers of my blogs, or listeners of my music, or followers of my photography, have shared with me that you are those people.

While I love that others find success in selling their creativity and I even often purchase it from them, it’s just not something I want to do with the things I share creatively online. I need that connection – at least right now, that connection is worth far more to me than money ever will be. I want to be better. I am, at this time, extremely blessed to be able to survive and work on becoming better and not worry whether there will be food in our mouths or clothes on our backs or a roof over our heads without me having to sell my soul to cover it. I am so thankful for that – for my family.

I’m SO grateful that Dawn’s shared this and that it’s available for me to share with you. This has been on my heart for so long and I’ve not been able to figure it out until now. Thank you again, Dawn. So much!!

I encourage you to watch Dawn’s video and listen to her story, which you can do by clicking here. In many ways – especially the spiritual things she speaks about – it mirrors who I was and who I am re-becoming. It inspires me to continue to seek my own heart and hear it, as well as that of whatever this higher power has to offer me.

I hope that you will find some inspiration or encouragement in it, as well…

All the love,

C.

Today I received the most unexpected “thank you” note. It’s said, “thank you for sharing your story with me,” and had a nice note alongside that spoke about art and creativity and the healing of trauma, grief and broken spirits.

I want to thank YOU, for much the same thing.

I think we often forget that a person’s art IS their story – regardless of the type of art they create – and that’s where I’ve focused my mind this afternoon. When we create any kind of art, even when it’s not a piece of writing that “explains” what’s in our minds, we are actively releasing SOMETHING. Whether it is good or bad, whether it is joy or pain, beauty or darkness, we are actively expressing our hearts in any creative endeavor that we are a part of.

I truly appreciate the kind feedback here, at Instagram, and all the other places. I appreciate YOUR art and stories so much. It’s a wonderful way to remember that we are really all the same, just living our own stories…even when we aren’t sharing our own out loud.

Thank you for the kind response to my sharing of my music. I was really very unsure whether it was “worth” sharing, since I only create it as a hobby. Turns out it’s much like my experience with sharing photography and writing – people enjoy other people’s art, they enjoy SEEING another human being, and you get to know other people who create the same kinds of art, whether it’s photography or writing or music…

I’ve enjoyed “meeting” so many different people since I started putting that stuff out there. It’s a blessing to get to know and learn from you.

It’s always been one of my greatest joys to share my creative pursuits and my spirit with the world. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me how important it is for a creative person and artist of any kind to do that.

I’m thankful for, and blessed by, you. Keep expressing yourselves in your ways, too. And stay awesome.

All the love,

C. 💜

A New Year’s Note to my Precious Friends

As the sun sets on one year and rises on yet another, there is so much I hope and wish for you…

I hope the coming year finds you well, filled with hope that never ends, and surrounded by love.

I hope that you continue to grow, continue to forgive, continue to learn, and continue to live.

I hope that you laugh, sing, dance, and dream, no matter your age or circumstance.

I hope that you will always see the beauty and the splendor, the magic and the miracles that exist in the world around you, every day.

I hope that you will believe in yourself, trust in your soul, follow your heart, and always do all things with love, finding it all returning to you with grand abundance as you share it with the world.

I wish you grace when you find yourself tired and beaten down, freedom from all the things that may burden you, and healing if you should find yourself sick and unwell in any way.

More than anything, I hope that you see the beauty in yourself that the Universe has created in you, that you realize the truth of your worth and your strength, the value of your spirit and of your heart, and how precious their reflections are in the world around you.

With gratitude for all the ways you bless and enrich my life, I wish you all the blessings and all the goodness that life has to offer you in the coming year, and always.

May we all float on with peace and hope to carry us.

All my love and best wishes to ALL who read this, from my heart to yours.

C.

Several weeks ago I shared a post about my hair and how I had almost buzzed it. Here is a quote from the post:

For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.

Well. Here we are, about three weeks later, and the deed has been done. I actually did this almost RIGHT after I shared that post, but I wasn’t ready to share THIS post right away because I wanted to see how it went. I wanted to see how I really felt about it. I wanted to collect some pros and cons after having done it, and I wanted to feel fully “buzzed,” if you will, before I started spouting words about the experience. I am ready to do that now.

Before I go any further, there is something I want to talk about – perhaps clear up, so to speak. One of the most consistent experiences I have had since the buzzing took place has been this one (or, at least, this one in so many words), over and over again:

“You are so brave! I could never do it – even if I wanted to! It’s very courageous to make such a huge change!”

This bothers me and I want to tell you why it’s not true. It did not take courage for me to buzz my head (or shave it, or whatever term you wish to use). I am not courageous. I was not looking to completely change my life in a matter of moments with a hairstyle (ok, maybe in some ways I was – which I will discuss further in the “Pros” section of this post). I just WANTED to do it. So I did! It really was that easy. For a long time I couldn’t understand why people had to attach more to it than that – sure, a lot of thought went into it before I did it, as shared in my original post. But I feel really awkward when people say, “you’re so brave! I could ever do that! That took a lot of courage.”

No. It really and truly didn’t. For me, what it took was being fed up with my hair for a number of reasons. It took wanting it the hell out of my face and to stop wasting my time. Oh, and it took a quick flip of the on switch and running the clippers over my head. That’s all it took. There’s a difference between being brave and just being done.

Brave is charging into a burning building or jumping out of a helicopter into the ocean to save lives. Brave is working as a beat cop during this day and age. Brave is facing your demons, getting help with addiction or mental health issues or finding a way out of an abusive relationship. Brave is being a woman in a country where women have no rights. Comparatively, I am not brave. I have only done something I wanted to do… Maybe that IS brave to some, and I suppose that I can accept that and allow anyone who feels that way the right to feel that way. But personally? I don’t feel that way about it. I don’t feel it was a “brave” thing to do, and it truly makes me uncomfortable to be called “brave” over something so insignificant as shaving off my hair.

Now that I’ve expressed my thoughts on that, I want to share with you some of the other things I have experienced and learned since flipping the on switch and the best way to do that, I think (for me), is a (hereto incomplete) list of pros and cons.

The Pros (so far):

  • MONEY
    • First of all, it doesn’t cost anything to run the clippers over my head. I don’t have to pay someone else to do it (yet – I’m not into styling at this point, just being uniformly buzzed).
    • I also spend almost zero money on hair products.
    • The only hair product I use is shampoo – although I use it daily now as (con) my head gets oily much more quickly.
    • I also have found myself using the Argon oil I gave to my husband for his beard on my head the last couple of days because the winter is drying my scalp out (not my hair, which still gets oily by morning even without the argon oil – go figure). I haven’t quite found a balance there.
    • But the bottom line for this bullet is that this is CHEAP and I love it.
  • EASE OF EXISTENCE
    • No bed head.
    • Shower time = five minutes.
    • No drying time.
    • No styling time.
    • No fuss. No mess.
    • No, “Oh God, you have to wash your hair? You should start getting ready an hour ahead of me,” from my husband.
    • My life has become so much easier and I love it.
  • MY FACE
    • It exists.
    • I can see it.
    • I am learning to love it (actually, I almost loved my face more instantly after a long time of being very insecure about it).
    • No spider web hairs to tickle it.
    • No random hair everywhere in my eyes when I’m trying to do EVERYTHING I DO.
    • I love it.
  • HATS
    • I get to wear hats of all kinds now and they fit my head.
    • I have a REASON to wear hats now.
    • I like hats, so this a definite pro for me.
    • I love it.
  • LIGHTNESS
    • My head feels so light, even still. After years of the weight of my hair (I literally lost almost two pounds after I had buzzed it – despite it falling out like crazy that sh*t was so thick and coarse and heavy), I now feel so much lighter.
    • It’s not just the weight of the hair itself – it’s the lack of worrying with hair.
    • I love it.
  • IT IS COOLER
    • I live in the south, where the humidity doesn’t end until January (usually). Therefore, for most of the year, having free head air conditioning is a wonderful thing. There are also some cons to this, which I’ll list below, but mostly it’s great.
    • I love it.
  • ME
    • I just feel so much more like me. I can’t explain that. But it’s the truth. Not having my hair to define me (which I’m sure it still does for some, but not for me – like those who think I’ve lost my mind, ha!) has liberated me in all the ways I expected and in some I didn’t expect (like that whole having a face thing)…
    • I used to love playing with makeup looks. I love that again now, and have a lot of fun with it. I’ve only actually done my makeup a handful of times since the buzzing but had a ball doing it and bought myself the Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay for my birthday.
    • I love it.

The Cons (so far):

  • GROWTH
    • My hair apparently grows VERY fast. That’s annoying. I buzz it at least once a week. This has impacted my OCD a tiny bit, but that’s OK. Good grooming is a factor of my depression that I could stand to be a bit more “on top of.”
  • ITCHING AFTER CUTS
    • My husband used to complain like all get out about tiny hairs poking him when I’d cut his hair. I used to say he was overreacting. HE WAS NOT OVERREACTING.
    • The itchiness when you finish a cut is INSANE. I sometimes have to shower twice in one shower to get the hair off of me.
    • Sometimes the little hairs get stuck in my bra and don’t wash out (don’t ask, I don’t know how or why), so I sometimes look like a man scratching his balls except it’s my boobs I’m digging at. Sigh…
  • HATS
    • I mentioned the pros of hats. The only con I have found is that my head is much smaller than it was with hair (MUCH SMALLER) and my baseball caps do not fit properly. I can’t get them tight enough without the bulge in the back…
    • Silver lining? I will eventually get to buy smaller baseball caps!
  • COLD
    • The con to the pro of coolness. Now that it’s really cold here, it’s REALLY COLD here.
    • I have to wear hoodies to bed some nights…which is awkward because I generally don’t like to sleep in very much clothing because I get these weird sweats. Not with my shaved head. Nope. Not right now… But, sleeping in bulky clothing is still not very comfortable for me.
    • Going outside without a hoodie or hat on is unwise. Just plain unwise…
  • HOT
    • By the same token? Getting hot and sweating is not fun without hair, either.
    • Sweat drips in my eyes, and I actually find that I sweat MORE without hair than I did with it when I work out…or maybe it just has nowhere to go and I notice it more.
    • When it’s hot and I wear a cap to keep my head from getting burned, I sweat more…but that’s OK. I’d rather do that than have a charred scalp.

Other Strange Expereinces:

  • STARING
    • People stare. A lot. It doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, what with my social anxiety and such. It’s actually made me more confident because I am learning how to ignore people far more efficiently through the experience.
  • BEING HIT ON
    • Women hit on me openly, even here in the south. This NEVER happened until I didn’t have hair. Go figure.
    • Men (surprisingly) flirt at me (I refuse to say with because I do not reciprocate). I thought men would be more put off by a woman with a buzz cut but apparently, I was wrong.
    • Don’t get me wrong – it’s always nice to be noticed in this way, but I realize that in this way my hair still defines me to some extent. I don’t like it being sexualized, this way or the other way (long). I guess that is something we will (ALL) always have to live with in our society…
  • ARE YOU SICK?
    • numerous times people have flat out asked me if I was sick or if I had cancer BEFORE they asked me why I shaved my head (usually strangers, oddly enough). It’s like they feel sorry for me right off the bat. That’s annoying and to some extent upsets me because I know what it’s like to be that person who has little or no hair due to sickness (from the experience of cancer with Dorie) and it’s no fun for people to judge you either way in that aspect.
    • At the same time, I don’t blame people – not many women have this sort of hairstyle. It’s almost an automatic assumption that there must be something wrong if they do have this sort of hairstyle.
  • NO IN BETWEEN
    • people either love it or hate it. There is no in between. So when people dislike it they tend to make it known (much more so than those who love it), for example when they shout ugly things across the parking lot at you (generally racial things, hello – I live in the south, am white and have a shaved head – I must be a racist), it’s a bit saddening. I don’t hate anyone and my hairstyle has nothing to do with anyone but me. I know my heart, so I am learning to let that go by. But it’s a telling sign that racism is still alive and well here in the south. And that’s just really wrong and saddening.
  • TOUCHING ME
    • My final and most annoying con is that people randomly touch me. Sometimes they ask and before I can even say, “no, please,” they’re already rubbing on my head. It’s like when a woman is pregnant (or at least this was my experience): people can’t help themselves – they want to touch your belly. Same thing with my head. It’s like a hand magnet. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll get a bigger bald spot than the small couple I already have (from celiac) or if all my brains will get sucked out from all the rubbing going on up there….
    • I wish people would stay out of my personal space, that’s all. I really wasn’t expecting that. I have, however, invited all of the boy’s little friends and most of my own friends and family to have a feel of the buzz cut – it seems to ease their minds a bit. They aren’t used to a woman with this kind of hairstyle at all and it’s a little unnerving for some of them, I think. Bless their hearts.

So I suppose that’s it for my buzz cut run down after a few weeks of living the buzzed life. Ultimately, I absolutely LOVE it and wouldn’t change a thing. I have NO regrets and I don’t think I will grow my hair out at all for a very long time (which for me could range from a few more weeks to several months, ha!). I haven’t felt this free or in control of myself for a very long time. There is peace for me in having no hair. I have, within myself, taken, “no hair, don’t care, to a whole new level. Suddenly there are a LOT of things I’ve let go of. But that’s another blog.

I suppose now you’ll be wanting to see what it looks like, so here are some photos (some candid, some posed) of the buzz cut. Ultimately, I hope the message taken away from this blog and this experience is that people will find the wherewithal to just be themselves and do what they want to do with their hair, their faces, their bodies, whatever. Just be you, and do what makes you happy. It’s worth any cons that might come your way, as long as you know what you’re doing is where your heart truly is.

Until next time, take care and enjoy this last night of the year…

C.

Dear 2017,

What can I possibly say to you? As I begin this I am speechless. I sit here overwhelmed with all the challenges, all the horrors, all the sheetrock dust… I don’t even want to think about any of that. That’s not where I want to focus. Anyone who really knows me already knows all of that – anyone who follows this (very intermittent) blog already knows a lot of it..

I want to focus on this:  I am alive today.

I am alive today. That is…both a miracle and a feat of inner strength I didn’t know that I had but found only because I was loved, even when I didn’t realize I was being loved.

I’ve needed the friendship and love I’ve had in my life this year more than any other I’ve faced. As everything from the past few years came to a head within me, and as I lost my grip and slid down to as close to rock bottom as I have ever gone, I found myself in a darkness like no other I’ve ever experienced. But with support and love from so many people, I began making the changes I needed to make to begin to get better both physically and mentally (like fighting my way back to the meds I knew I needed – and what a fight it was…).

2017 has been one my hardest fights with depression and anxiety and after being diagnosed with CPTSD and some specific physical health problems that I have had to learn how to manage, well, initially I didn’t handle anything very well at all. But then, I came to a precipice where I realized how life or death the situation was, and I did something I can hardly believe I did. I showed my weakness.

First, I showed this to my husband. It is truly to him that I owe my life this year. He has taken control in ways I have never seen him take control and he has exhibited patience beyond what I have ever seen in him – and that is saying a lot. He is my rock, my partner, my saving grace in so many ways, and still, after 18 years, my best friend. He and I have grown apart and back together more than once but never like this year. I love him so very much and I am so grateful that he is a part of my life. That’s a choice he made, and I am so blessed that he did.

I was also very open with my son about what was going on. I leaned on him, perhaps more than anyone, whether he realized it or not. It was simply his existence and the fact that he needed me as much as I needed him that gave me purpose and something to fight back with in my brain when my pain and my depression would try to convince me to give up. He is the light of my life, my dear friend, my little hero, and my biggest inspiration. I love him dearly. He is so much of my strength – and isn’t it amazing how such a small human can be such a source of healing and love… God bless that mess, as my father used to say…

My mother in law and her husband have gone above and beyond to help me by making the hardest things much easier and by being so incredibly understanding about my not being able to drive. They have come to us here so many times to pick up and to drop off the boy, and the phone calls I have shared with my mother in law have been another huge source of comfort and of feeling loved and supported. They are both more than inlaws to me. They are like my own parents. And Lord knows I’ve needed their help this year more than any other.

My cousin and her farm have also been a huge part of my sanity this year. I haven’t spent as much time there as I have in years past because, well, I wasn’t leaving home very much and certainly wasn’t able to drive myself. But even from a distance, sharing with her via phone calls and texts, always being able to ask her questions about the physical issues and cry on her with the emotional issues…she has continued to be an incredible blessing in my life and I love her dearly.

My friend Ralph – he has come back into my life in a grand way this year – staying here for weeks and helping to solve problems and support us and heal me (and us). I can’t even begin to share here all the ways he has helped me this year. Listened, understood, allowed, accepted, taught, hugged – he’s been my dad reincarnated while still being my Ralph. For quite some time I forgot that he was my friend – I viewed him as the boy’s godfather and friend and I focused more on their relationship with each other. This year I have relearned my own friendship with him and he is one of the best friends our lives have ever been blessed with. He has gone out of his way to help with anything that we’ve asked for help with, and even stepped in when a need was there and we weren’t asking – no matter what it was. I wouldn’t be here without the teamwork between him and my husband to steer me in the right direction, make sure I got to appointments, make sure my rights were fought for despite my inability to fight for myself.

And then, there’s the internet. You. All of you who have commented on my Instagram and blog posts, who have emailed me or private messaged me. Strangers, friends, all the same – you have done much to propel me forward and help me to keep hope somewhere in the darkness. I have received so much love and shared many conversations with people like me, or people with friends or family struggling with similar problems, and all of these conversations have helped me to see things differently, to see through other people’s struggles, to learn different ways of coping that I’d never tried or even heard of before. While I’ve become quite private in the last half of the year, you have all always encouraged me to share when and what I wanted, and to remember that it always helps us, too, when we help each other, and that that is what sharing could amount to.

One of the things the internet gave me – nay, the universe – that has helped me tremendously this year was a reconnection to a person that forever changed my life years ago but still has that same role in it – teaching me, listening, showing me by her own example and opening my eyes to the me I CAN be, to make more and bigger steps forward and not stay there as long when I take steps backward, and to own the fact that I must and I CAN do it myself. It waivers, still, but my faith and confidence in myself and in spiritual things is returning in huge waves through the existence of this person in my life and the experiences we have shared in common, and I am so very grateful for the blessing that has (always) existed in our friendship.

Yes, 2017. You have been tough. The toughest. Even still, in the fall  of the year I found myself going more places even when it was hard and being more and more open with certain people in my life to heal the bits and pieces a little at a time. I found myself being pulled back to nature and spending huge amounts of time in it, hiking and climbing, exploring and camping… The winter came, and as always the struggle has returned in some ways. The cold hurts my body and the darker days hurt my mind. But I’m not planning on letting that stop me as the new year turns over it’s new leaf.

2017, you gave me the hardest battles I’ve ever fought – most of them with myself (and with doctors). But what you gave me that is really just about all I can see today is love and friendship despite the hard things. Support, kindness, compassion… You surrounded me with it – and while I didn’t realize I was accepting it until recently, I DO realize it and I am grateful for it. So, 2017, while your beginning was the most difficult, sickest time of my life, your ending comes with my realization of these lessons:

The harsh (for me, the independent) lesson in the reality of how life is not meant to be lived alone.

We are not meant to merely survive these horrible things, nor do we HAVE to do so, alone.

We are meant to give and receive love, and sometimes, although the balance is off, love is always there.

Good is always there – good things, good people, a good life to be had if we persevere.

Sometimes endings aren’t endings at all – they are mere pauses. The heart knows which is which with each situation and circumstance.

It is always worth our hope, and our hard work, to continue on.

There are ALWAYS people out there who can be touched by us, even by our worst experiences their lives can be made better.

It is okay not to be okay.

It is okay to take the time we need and to retreat.

It is okay to doubt, and to fear, but not to stay there.

It is okay to be who we are – those who are meant to be in our lives and bring good to our lives WILL. No matter what.

The universe truly does provide.

And, ultimately, that we all struggle, and we all matter, and we are all worthy of the help we are offered – sometimes, the hardest thing is to accept it.

So, in closing, I am grateful for the help that’s been offered me this year, and I’m grateful that I somehow accepted it. I wouldn’t be here without having done that. I wouldn’t be here without every one of the people mentioned in this post, including you. I am filled with gratitude and with love for you all, and to close this year I say, “thank you,” to you, to my family, and to 2017.

May 2018 overflow with all the love, friendship, joy, and blessings that you – that we all – deserve.

All my love,

C.