This Is For You

Often we get so wrapped up in our own lives, our own problems, that we forget to notice the world going on around us. We start to look at the day to day as a struggle instead of a victory. See I am the first one to admit that I have often done this in my life. I was succumbing to the problems of my life; more so the problems of my head, that I rarely even notice the rest of the world and their…well, everyday. To be totally honest I had been that way a lot more in the past.

I remember quite well a feeling wash over me that made me very aware that my fight was not mine alone. When I was able to realize the events that my life had endured in the past few months, I stepped outside myself. I needed change and now was the time. The environment couldn’t have been aligned better to meet the exact criteria of the prayers I had pleaded for so long.

When I came back to Ohio I knew without a shadow of a doubt and several verbal confirmations that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Perhaps the events that preceded could have been done differently, but even if they were the outcome still had to be the same. I knew that all my diving into my my relationship with God and my relationship with me had to be put on the forefront and I am happy to say that it definitely is that way.

One of the things I started to learn as my perspective was shifting was the needs of others. No, it wasn’t like I was trying to fix them, but rather supporting them to make the realizations themselves. I had been enduring so my pain so much heartache from multiple avenues and I was being shown that this was all to help others that were in similar situations of despair. I mean this has all been my biggest fear, the dread that my entire existence of the dark place was based upon. I faced it and I survived. Not only did I survive, I am thriving.

I want to help others to see that even in the midst of the actuation of your worst fears, you can thrive. I am not saying a bunch of empty inspirational words I am saying this from living and breathing this reality right now.

Here is the real of it all. We are all facing a giant in our life. A giant so big that there is simply no space left to think of anything but that giant. STOP!!! That giant is actually just a shadow enhanced by the beckoning light. You are making a movie in your head that doesn’t even exist, probably won’t ever exist…its called anxiety folks.

BREAKING NEWS: we all have some form of anxiety at a given moment! This is the time to take a moment and align your mantra with your mind. For me my mantra is ‘I trust you Jesus.” Those simple little words not only allow my brain to readjust focus on something other than the problem, but also its a big step in taking control of your mind and see the bigger picture.

Hang in there, talk to God! Honestly even if you are on the fence about God, what have you got to lose? I mean majority of us will say that we believe in the power of prayer and even at desperate time we actually pray. So….. seems like the perfect time to practice some prayer. Just try it a couple times, no special formality, no special environment, just a conversation. Tell him out loud about the problems you are facing and the emotions they invoke. Don’t worry about the length in time you spend just make a conscience effort. I not only guarantee that just getting it out will feel amazing, but come expecting a shift in perspective.

As always my friends I am here for anyone who needs a friend especially a friend in Christ. I am not a wealth of knowledge but I am a wealth of resource. Find other friends or just people you meet, let others into your life. We are all here to change the world and I am not going down without doing my part.

I’m So Excited

Don’t you just love the little moments in time when all the struggles and all the heartaches starts to make sense?  I live for these moments.  I call these moments of revelation, epiphanies or simply put…growth.  After all that is what I am trying to do, grow, so I can be the breaker of this nasty chain of giving power to my mind.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.  I had been “training” to be able to handle this day with dignity and grace, but that was a major flop. I thought that I was going to be the happy-go-lucky one and be able to take the weight of the world and hand it over to God.  I guess you could say I almost got a little confident in myself….I got cocky.  I was a mess you guys, I was crying crocodile tears laced with pain and agony. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I started to feel that it was ok to take care of me and my hurts.

You know unlike normal I didn’t talk to awful much about my problems that evening, but instead I just enjoyed the company of those who I could let my guard down around.  I will tell you that was the exact dose of this very specific medicine that I needed.  I started to feel more like myself when I reverted away from old habits of isolation, anger and self-pity. I started to embrace the celebration and feel more peaceful. It was a perfect ending to a sad day.

This morning when I woke after a very restful nights sleep, I started my routine of early mornings which always start with my time with God.  I am currently Reading the devotional book by author and amazing woman of God, Sarah Young.  The book is called “Jesus Calling.”  There are several different books but this particular one is “Embracing Joy in His Presence.”  The reason I love these books so much is because it actually feels like my tangible evidence that God is talking, in first person, to me.  It is the perfect picture to increase my mental visuals and create conversations. I tend to just read and read, like I said, my conversations from God to me.

Every time I sit down to read any of these books it seems within minutes I start to make very fast correlations in my head, of life, and in specific my walk.  Today was absolutely no different…the process was happening.  Oh wait there was a difference, today I was tuned into the instructions I was reading and executing them at that very moment. I am beyond excited to talk about my talk with God because quite honestly it is the answer to a life long prayer…..What is the Darkness?

I was about 7-8 pages in when the black and white print was all that existed in my world.  I was getting my explanation of exactly what the darkness is. Now let me jump back a bit for those who do not suffer from ANY form of  The darkness is the place where our minds go that we often call a place of coping.  It is honestly a place of nothingness, a place of lonely self-preservation.

When you struggle so badly the dark place becomes a very physical place.  We don’t realize it much but when we isolate, that is the darkenss.  When we cry for no reason other than pain within, that is the darkenss.  When we worry about the future and get stuck in our past, it is the darkenss.  But why does no ones darkness deem the same definition if it is such a generalized place?

It was like a lightning bolt struck me, the surge of electricity racing through my body.  The end result of this charge was the power to light a nation.  I finally got my rational minds explanation of the “Dark Place.”  See the dark place is created and revolved around the imperfections of this world.  When our depression or anxiety gets bad, our minds can’t see any good only hurt.  But if we are able to identify what the root of the hurt is we realize it is all based around this world.  We worry about money, provision, satisfaction, empathy, understanding, what others think of us and so on. That starts to play a loop in our head that quickly becomes a beat with no words so we get lost.

There is a trick to being found….its called submission.  When we start to realize these roots then we have an understanding of what we are fighting.  Just as with any understanding and growth, realization is the first step to overcoming. When you take some time and realize that the dark place is actually just a self perpetuated hell on earth that we have designed whether consciously or subconsciously. We have created a place or crutch to go to when we are overwhelmed.

The base of the darkness is for the purpose of self punishment one way or another. We are trapped because we have not performed to control every situation.  How sad is that? We have so may expectations for ourselves, a large percentage that are only realistic in a scripted movie.  Yet we go to this place of our creation that is an endless pit of despair because we haven’t put the time into figuring out how to wire this place with electricity.

The wiring begins with you! Make a decision that today is the day, no wait, now is the moment that you are ready to put forth the effort of self-love.  The effort to get to know yourself and face those fears.  You are ready to let go of what you can’t control and focus purely on what you can.  Its work people and I’m no different from you, I’ve been in the dark place for about 30 years.

I am happy to say that I am in training for this new journey.  I am tired, I am achy but I am also very hungry and very thirsty.  Won’t you join me on this moment of taking life back from darkness and shed some light on the subject.

The Grave Blanket

Well Good Morning from a freezing cold North Central Ohio. The weather alerts sounded proudly yesterday as the indicator of a winter storm moving in. I have to say I was a bit excited because it has been almost 5 years since I have regularly participated in the extreme cold climate. I had become spoiled in AZ but being here, experiencing what I have experienced, I have to say I know I am right where I belong at this moment in time.

So onward through the treacherous cold, yesterday I started the grave blanket for my brother’s birthday. I will be quite honest I had been putting this off, even to the point of getting snappy whenever my parents tried to talk to me about it. But in true fashion to this journey, I made a decision, and started the prep work for the blanket.

I had recently received permission from my neighbor to allow me to cut branches on his evergreens so I could present some life to the grave. So I suited up in true Ohio fashion. I donned my car hart coveralls and jacket and slipped into high rain boots, a stocking cap and work gloves lol. I had work to do and this work is part of my process.

I grabbed the wheelbarrow and multiple size sheers and began the much dreaded walk of starting something, or rather to me, admitting something, that my brother wasn’t coming back. As I got closer to the trees I suddenly felt a wind but it was a warm, comforting wind that brings back a flood of memories. Suddenly I knew without a doubt that I wasn’t alone. Now I’m not talking about ghosts and goblins, no I am talking about the presence of God, the eternal peace. It was like I was getting a message that it is ok, you can do this, I am here to help you.

With that sense of comfort I carried on about my tasks of trimming trees. When I finally felt resolve in the progress I had made, my Dad and I parked the wheelbarrow next to me for easy access. My dad swiftly walked away after helping but I want him to know I understand the signs of his pain and he too, is not alone.

As I work tediously on the intricate weaving in and out of chicken wire, my mind started to uncover some hidden gems. I was recalling what I have been learning in my faith walk and I was subconsciously applying the steps to defeat my strongholds. Yes this part of my grief is a stronghold because I am aware and now the healing begins.

Inspiration swept over me that I now didn’t see death in creating this blanket, no I was celebrating his life. I was remembering with each branch of the tree how he was so much like the branches. He was always veering off in different directions but it was just to create more life in others. He struggled like the tree struggles to stand in the harsh elements of the weather, but he did as long as he could. He was a great man and this grave blanket is a way to honor my brother with the gifts and strength that God has given me.

I finally feel proud of my brother for all HE was and all HE accomplished. I capitalize “HE” because I am speaking to the person he really was not the person whom drugs took control. He was a man of God and I will honor my Lord and Savior by doing what he is calling me to do…..Embrace the Process!

The Family He Left Behind

I have debated with myself for a while and prayed about what I am getting ready to write. Not only have I soul searched but I had to put myself in the forefront. Let me explain..this is my journey, my outlet…so I am doing this for me and my healing.

As we all have read by now my brother, at 40 years of age, died on Sept 30, 2018 surrounded by family, he slowly slipped away to the promised land. That in itself is hard, when it is unexpected, but the reality is we all expected it but that doesn’t make it any easier.

See my brother has been doing drugs for most of his teenage years all the way through his adulthood. It wasn’t just doing the harsh chemicals itself that took a toll on my family, it was the division of loyalty it created. My parents had a “child” that so desperately needed their help, but in a situation that was impossible to control. There were so many things that have happened in my childhood as a result that I put up walls that would be impossible for anyone to scale.

The sleepless nights that my family endured were pure agony. As an adolescent, having to find resolve, I just dismissed the problem and distanced myself from my family. Yes, now at 39, I see that this was the exact opposite of what I needed to do as my position in the family dynamic but I was young and well cocky.

The nights turned into days of wondering if and when my brother was going to wise up and show his strong will that he tucked deep inside. Instead of doing this he graduated to harder drugs to numb the pain, most of the pain which was self inflicted. So he became the infamous Jekyll and Hyde with the increasing demand of the drugs on his body. But true to the form of any addict, we as a family dug so deep to relish the moments of sobriety only to be let down again and again.

As time went on the dependency took a turn for the better and Jeremy was able to get away from his weakened state to find beautiful sobriety based in faith. He was so alive, that new Christian alive. The very thought of his life turning around was so glorious even to those who continued to have walls. There was an undeniable hope for the long run. But that didn’t last long enough.

Life circumstances took hold of my brother and the pressure was to great and finally he succumb to that patronizing voice in his head. The agony was all back and it was coursing through our family like the life blood veins in our body. But this time was bad. This time there were no more chances, or as the doctor said ” there is no light at the end of this tunnel.” Those are words that puts fear coursing through the bodies of even the strongest. This was permanent! Outside of how dire this situation was we as a family had to decide to stop the life support. This is when it all changed.

As my family prepare for the worst and fear the future, a future without my brother, we began to crumble. Each and every one of us kids and parents all reacted in a different way that denotes our ways of coping. I am the youngest but I am also the one with no kids or husband so I felt it was my duty to step up and be strong. I knew decisions had to be made and I respected my other siblings and their time to grieve with their family, that this was not even a question. However I forgot I was already so wounded from my separation that I started to fall back into old patterns.

I have been working so hard building my diligence to be the vessel God is using me to be but caring for those and yourself with great loss is not a one man job. I have felt as though it was up to me to make all the decisions, to be there for the weepy days, for the days of guilt in its purest form. But slowly I was crumbling inside.

I didn’t have time to grieve because I felt needed. This is an old pattern of performance. I always thrived in a situation whereI could cast me to the background and shift my focus to those I deemed more worthy than I. Then I started to realize that is not this journey, this journey is to break the cycle.

I wish I could find words to describe the pain and pressure this position of office holds. I have realized how under prepared I am for this because I am quite sure there is no pain greater than the loss of a child. But I have realized that I too am a child, a child of God. He would not have put me in this awful situation without the opportunity to set things straight in the place where my road started to curve.

This is a big job but now that I have finally accepted that I am not supposed to have all the answers, at least I am in uncharted territory, but I love to learn! So now I will learn, laugh, love and live to be the light that I was designed to be.

The Pup Edition

We all have something in our life that brings us comfort through the good and the bad. Whether it is an old toy or a favorite outfit there is no shortage of everyone stepping up to find comfort in their time of need.

For me that comfort is the love of a dog! Yes, I know, most people love dogs I mean love them and all their characteristics but I feel as if my love and hope for them is almost on their primal level. I not only appreciate what they have to offer as a companion but I value what I feel that they feel when I am around a dog. It is like nothing else in the world matters because my world is not perfectly in sync with the dog’s life. I can feel my awareness heighten from my sense of smell to a new visual perspective. I am suddenly one with the pack and I am on a adventure.

I had a dog..have a dog, named Thunder. He is a sweet rescued Great Dane that is currently residing in AZ with his human Dad. I am at peace with this because I know that my boy is being loved and cared for in the same way as I would do it if I were there myself. Don’t get me wrong it hurts to no end to not be able to cuddle with my boy right now but no the less I know he, like myself, is serving a greater purpose.

I can say that there has been no shortage of dogs in my life since I have been back to Ohio. I have got to be around so many different animals but just like humans there are certain dogs that have been very impactful in my healing. I am deeming this the Pup Edition diving from my head that is in the pack, not even thinking about why I am going into depth about a creature that cant read….but people can read!

The first amazing duo I want to talk about is Yoda and Chewbacca…aka Yoder and Chew Toy lol. Yoda is a sweet high strung pug that has a genuine innocence about him despite his senior years. Yoda has a mind that bounces to the beat his body displays. To put it bluntly Yoda is all over the place. I am so sure his human family will agree when they read this haha. Despite the bouncing behavior of Yoda he is tapped into a child like innocence that consuls with the gift of play. The perfect diversion when my mind is in the clouds.

Now Chewbacca he is a whole other ball game. He is a sweet princess-fied chihuahua with a gate like a slow waltz but the heart of a lion. He knows his place in the pack and has no problem stepping up when a reminder is needed. Like any great leader he is an observer. He carefully takes in his surroundings as if to know where his worth can be utilized the most. When I start to think Chewy isn’t paying attention, he surprises me with the warmth of his comfort. I would like to say in my journey I see Chewy having the instinct to care for the broken, but refuses to hold back his love and affection. Chew Toy may be little but he holds a big place in my heart.

There is one fella I get to see on a regular basis; the basis of resonating. See this sweet retriever is named Buddy, he is the dog of my late brother. Buddy and I have a lot in common, we are both confused and broken souls. We know what it is like to have something one day and the next day it be gone through no choice of our own. We are orphans in a sense so our bond surpasses that bond of necessity. Together Buddy and I have worked on our health, we have worked on our issues of trust, we have found time to have fun and we have found time to learn despite our tired demeanor. Neither one of us have forgotten where we came from, our loyalty will forever lie, but we have moved with the world. Buddy will forever hold the special gift of the optimist.

Finally this last guy I just recently met him, but boy of boy is he special. You know that special when you meet someone for the first time and you can immediately know the impact someone or something has on the people it is surrounded by? Well I would like to introduce you to Tank. Tank is a mix Shepherd breed that has the heart of a pure bred champion.

The first time I walked into my friends house ,she ask me if I have a fear of dogs then quickly laughing as she remember who she was taking with. There was no time for thought, no time for predetermined action, no instead there was….Tank. This bundle of joy bust through to me as if he could smell his need to reach me. He had an innate instinct to know that I was scared, not of him, and I held behind a facade but he was breaking through. See I resonate with Tank. He has a very solid exterior but yet has no concept that his exterior might intimidate people…just like me. But just like me Tank has the discipline of a fighter, the respect of a love filled heart, the obedience for outcome and the swagger of confidence. Tank is me on four legs lol. This amazing dog has a very special place and a special gift,,,the gift of self reflexion.

So I know that was a lot of words to talk about dogs, but come on….it’s DOGS! If nothing else let this entry be a reminder that we are never alone. Whatever may hold your heart in a bond that surpasses explanation, let that serve as your reminder. There are always beauties in this world that are specifically designed to resonate with us to our very core. These are things that are to be utilized to help us withstand and to grow. So find your comfort and be reminded we: we all have the capacity to serve.

Change of Plan

This afternoon I am a bit late to the game but none the less I showed up!

I wanted to start off by saying I had planned a specific writing for today but well as you can remember every time I start to plan, the plan changes. So In true form of the respect i have for the initial writing topic I want to take a pause. I am recognizing that I owe the next topic its own special focus in my mind and my writing.

Today is a push through it day. It is the lull in the wind, leaves all fallen to the ground, dreary clouds kind of day. On top of the ominous weather conditions I am coming down with a cold and it is zapping my complete energy. I had resolved to take to the bed for the day when I realized that no one but myself was accountable to take that step and be productive. So here i am, my version of productive lol.

I think I want to deem this as a self love day. A day that I am recognizing that my body and mind are calling out to me for some much needed rest, to recuperate. Don’t get me wrong I don’t feel like I’m on death doorsteps but I do feel very aware of what is happening and the growth I have come to love that endures through these difficult days.

Expectations are often thrown out the window on these days or if they don’t they should be. When your body starts to feel abnormal to the point of physical pain, you need to listen to it. Our bodies call out to us whether through indigestion to bad dreams…they are constantly talking. The talking in my body is saying “Shari….its ok to just be rest today.”

Though nothing today is prolific by any means I just need to document for the days that I am struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel to just stop and let go. What is meant to be will happen, you will face it and time will go on. I do not need to worry about the outcome of every facet of my life. I need to stop measuring my success to the success of the norm..I am anything but norm.

I would have never stopped to realize I was internalizing so much because I never valued myself. Today I value myself I an pushing through what feels like fingers that weigh 10 pounds each…..but I’m doing it.

I am fighting everything in my head that is playing fetch with the dog while a squirrel walks up. I am just very tired. But I am doing it.

FRAGILE: Handle With Care

I like everyone else have my good days and bad days. Now let me start off by saying that these bad days are not “patterned” bad days but reality bad days. They are the days where my vulnerability is higher than others, the days where I feel the weight of the world cashing down on me because of circumstances that are linked to grieving.

Yesterday felt like a day of defeat. I found myself in a whirlwind of emotions mostly because I am realizing that I am not as strong as I would like to think. The time where my past, yes my past, catches up with me and forces me to analyze what is right and what is wrong.

The day actually stared off quite well, I was feeling alive, trusting in the Lord for things to go according to his purpose. I did my new normal routine where I would take my walk of replenishment and face the day. While on my walk, I stopped to talk to a man that I have passed on the trail many times. I try to make a point to smile and say hi to those who are also walking but that was not the extent this time. This gentleman seemed to be beckoning me and I knew in an instant that it was time for headphones to come off and ears to go on.

This amazing man started the conversation so very innocent as too asking me the length of my walk and the consistency of my efforts. We exchanged some health informed tidbits then the conversation took a turn. See he was bold enough to ask me how my faith was and with a smile I responded with the answer of “strong and growing” this is where it all changed.

He began to talk about his faith and his belief coupled with some struggles he himself was facing at such a late age in his life. My compassion and empathy began to sore because I could feel his pain and confusion. I could tell that he thought he would be more secure in his thought process based on his age but in fact he was very fragile, very vulnerable, and wanting comfort. So I just let him pour his heart out and watched tears flow from his eyes right in the middle of the trail head. His struggles, his insecurities were so apparent and so much in line with some of my struggles so I awaited patiently for him to finish because I had realized this was in fact a divine appointment.

When he finished I found myself resonating his grief and unmet expectations to the core of my being but I was alive with a word of comfort. Not only was I there to provide comfort and understanding, I was there to give myself a message since I was allowing God to use me for his glory. I don’t want to go into specifics of this conversation so that I made properly provide anonymity to this individual, but you can it was an image that everything all of us encounter from faith,relationships, struggles, family, loss and gain. It is much like I have said before, we all have the same journey, just different stories.

I found myself coming alive utilizing the words that my depths of my study and trust had revealed. I was able to instill hope and understanding. An understanding that surpassed the surface but not so deep that it wasn’t relatable. I was careful to listen quickly and speak slowly allowing time for the Lord to speak through me. It was an amazing experience that left me praising so loudly that I had tangible evidence of God at work in me. Some time after our encounter I left feeling so alive.

Now one thing I have learned first hand is that every time there is a victory there is a new enemy assigned to attempt to defeat the feelings of love and growth that accompany the victory. Let me tell you this time was no different. But what was different was the ability for my mind to not only recognize this but a chance to make this attack count but another chance to grow.

My attack came in the form of my past. Something that I had been hanging on to a bit too tightly confusing myself of hope through endurance. This time the amount of defeat I felt at simple little words that were making me face a harsh reality that was so profound, I gave into the defeat.

I contacted my bestie that I know is the type of person that will not bash a person but in fact help me to see the core of my problem. I align myself very specifically because I do not want the ways of he world to trump my faith that stands strong in a foundation of love and kindness, rebirth and renewal. No, I don’t look for someone who will tell me what I want to hear, but rather the words that are guided by God. Sometimes these words are comforting but other times they are smack me in the face, why didn’t I realize this.

The revelation that was laid before me was so profound but not deep. They were words I needed to hear despite the pain they caused. The words were spoken in a manner that I could tell without a shadow of a doubt, were God approved and ordained. The amazing thing is it wasn’t a lot of words but words of cut to the chase.

The words I was listening to showed me that in fact my base problem was I didn’t love myself. I didn’t think I was worthy based on circumstances to love myself and it was something I hadn’t done in a long time. See I always stepped up to be that person that was there to help others with their problems with the profession of how much it helps me to help other. Now I do love to help others but I was doing it at the expense of not dealing with my own insecurities. I was letting people push me out then reel me in causing more grief then I could imagine.

After a lengthy talk and so many tears I realized how right she was. This was my time to understand myself while being used as a vessel…this is completely possible. But the fear oh the fear came over me to the extent that my heart dropped to my stomach and it felt like my brothers death and my break up compiled into one catastrophic event…I felt physically ill. I’m pretty sure this is was resound must feel like.

I graciously allowed my friend to point out, through her own instances, that we needed to learn to love ourselves if we were to be used properly, effectively and create growth that we both desperately sought. Her words were so God sent that I could feel the love behind what typically would have felt like a berate in the past. I could tell the words were what I desired but desired with fear and trepidation.

After several hours of the tears and the choking because of the tears things started to make sense. I needed to set the boundaries in my life if I was going to live my potential. I was not going to be used for someone else’s shameless gain. This was my time to be selfish, as the others in my life had been doing, if I wanted to make the change once and for all.

The new perspective this light of life was showing me was a new fight being born altogether. My fight was now a fight for me, for survival essential to growth. Yes, I will admit this part of my journey scares me because there is no one else in charge of me except God in me. I realized very quickly this wasn’t going to be easy but it was essential for my progression.

Today I look back at the events of my yesterday and realize they were exactly that, yesterday! I was able to see the highs and the lows but I still woke up this morning. Not only did I wake but I woke anew with a sense of revival. I am going to continue to push forward understanding the set backs to come, but the set backs are meant to urge me forward.

I hope with all my heart and soul that in some capacity you were able to resonate with my tough day, understanding how fragile we as humans are. Despite what we feel in our core there is always a new day around the corner to apply the revelations that happen to us all. For now I will love the hard lessons and dig deeper to find my place and my peace once and for all.