How Do You Know You’re Alive?

religion

How do you know you’re alive?

Do you know you’re alive because you woke up this morning?  Or because you’re breathing?  Because you feel pain?  Or joy?

This was the very question that was asked at church last week during Father’s homily.

I was immediately curious.

There were quite a few responses from the congregation that seemed to make sense, like this one, “because I’m here” (like the other 400 of us at 10am mass) that was chirped from somewhere in the back pews.

How about this answer…

You know you’re alive because you perceive and experience change happening all around you.

I can’t take credit for this answer, that was all Father.

But it makes such perfect sense!  We are always experiencing change, whether we want to or not.

It’s constant.  It’s necessary.  It’s inevitable.

And you cannot make it stop.

Some people are okay with change and some just can’t stand it.  Both are understandable and acceptable.

I would say, for the most part, I’ve always been okay with change.  Sometimes excited by it.  Other times mortified by it (think president elect Trump) and on the very, very, very rare occasions, completely not willing to accept it, until I don’t have a choice but to accept it, and then I realize I’m going to be okay.

How do I know I’m going to be okay?

Because I have Jesus in my life.  Because I believe in my faith and my God.  Because I know that the work I do here, while I’m alive, prepares the way for my entrance to His Kingdom.

And knowing that Jesus will be waiting for me brings me great joy and happiness.  It encourages me to work harder while I’m here on earth.

To show people kindness and compassion every chance I get.  To share my bounty, even if it’s small.  To serve others.  To make sure I’m right with God every day through prayer and devotion.  To forgive and love others.  To see the beauty in all that surrounds me and be humbled by His greatness and graciousness.

To appreciate being alive, for however long that may be and to remember this passage…

“Serve one another in love.”  Galations 5:13

Until next time…

Love, Jeni ❤

 

 

 

 

Mangled?

I have Graves Disease.

And it’s a nuisance.  Like having a perpetual gnat buzzing around your head that won’t go away no matter how many times you swat the crap out of it.

It’s an ugly disease.  It does terrible things to your body.  And it doesn’t go away.  Ever.  Because there is no cure.  Only treatment.  Lame-ass fucking treatment.

I haven’t blogged about it at all (even though it’s one of the reasons I started this blog), about how it’s changed my life, until now anyway.  I’ll share more about living with Graves Disease…eventually.

But today is an important one.  An anniversary really.  It’s the day that Graves Disease changed my life, again.  Six years after being diagnosed.

On this particular fall day, I underwent major surgery to have my thyroid removed at an excellent hospital in Virginia, with three very special people supporting me.  My awesome Aunt, my Dad and my Polish Princess.

It was my mistake that I had just assumed that the boy would have been there too, but it turns out that the cad dropped and ditched to go to the gym, do some shopping and relax at home, all while I underwent major surgery for the better part of five hours, not including several hours in recovery, before being moved to a private room for the next 30+ hours.  This was information I didn’t find out until after the break-up and it made me feel like such a complete fucking loser; but I’m not going to go there (I will insert an appropriate eye roll here though; and maybe a middle finger).

After the surgery I immediately started to photo document my recovery and healing.

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This picture was taken two days after the surgery and the day after I was released from the hospital.  My neck was quite bruised and swollen at the surgical site and down my chest.  From coughing, the edge of my sutures gave out and I had a little bleeding.  It looked more ugly then it really was.

For the most part, the steri-strip was quite resilient and was to stay in place for the next ten days.

On the 29th, nine days post-op, I returned to the Surgeon’s office to have the strip removed.  It was the day of the great reveal and I was ready for the strip to come off because the itchiness was driving me nuts!

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(Above:  the final picture before seeing my newest scar.  The bruising is virtually gone and the swelling reduced immensely.)

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This picture would be the first look I get at my new scar.  The Doctor didn’t have a mirror in his office, so after he removed the steri-strip I did my best to take a selfie of my neck.  I thanked the Doc and left with my next follow-up appointment scheduled.

Once I was alone in my car I looked at the picture.  I’m not sure what I was expecting to see.

Maybe a smaller, cleaner incision site?  Or something bigger?

I wasn’t upset.  Or sad.  I didn’t think it looked terrible, just different now.

The logical part of me knew my body would eventually heal the scar and I knew what measures and products I needed to use to meet the healing.  I felt positive and ready to get on with a healthier, happier life now that my diseased and sick thyroid was no longer a part of my endocrine system and causing serious problems.

It wasn’t until after I texted this very picture to “him” and received a response I would never have anticipated, that I saw my scar differently.

“Why does it look so mangled?”

Yup.

He really said that.

Verbatim.

What could I say?

How do you respond to that?

I was dumbfounded.

I honestly don’t remember my response.

Just those shitty-ass, insensitive, six words.

“Why does it look so mangled?”

I’m pretty sure that would not EVER be my word choice to say to someone I loved.

It was a damaging statement at worst.

And enlightening at best.

And from that point on, I was embarrassed.  I felt like a weirdo.  Awkward.  Especially around “him”.  I didn’t want people to see my scar; to stare at my mangled neck.  So I wore scarves everywhere I went, or band-aids over the scar.  Sometimes, both.  Even when I was training clients.

It would be many months before I felt comfortable uncovering my neck.

Like six of them.

But the words were always with me.

Mangled.  Mangled.  Mangled.

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(A week after the steri-strip was removed.  The scabbing has resolved, but the scar is still raised and red – November 10th, 2014)

Life goes on.  My body healed.  My scar changed in color and size.  I moved back to NY and then eventually to Florida.

And here I am.  Two years later.

How does my scar look now?

Pretty muthafucking good!

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(October 20th, 2016 – Two years since surgery)

Most of the time, people can’t even tell I ever had surgery or notice my scar.

But I always know it’s there.

I see it.

I feel it when I rub my neck; the slight bump at the corner where the scar tissue has accumulated under the incision.

And while I’m proud that my body was strong enough to bring me through a very serious surgery, strong enough to heal an angry scar, strong enough to get and keep me moving every day that I fight against my body and Graves Disease until a cure is found…

…I still catch a glimpse of my scar in the mirror and hear those words…

“Why does it look so mangled?”

…and I think…

Fuck you! I’m not mangled, I’m amazing and beautiful!

Until next time…

Love, Jeni ❤

 

Evacuated: Hurricane Matthew

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Growing up in New York, I’ve only watched on television what kind of damage a massive hurricane can bring, especially to coastal communities.  I’ve watched news clips of people packing the things that mean the most to them and leaving their homes behind to seek higher ground and safety; only to return to devastation and property loss and a long period of rebuilding their lives and the communities they call home.

Now, I’m one of those people, living in Jacksonville FL,  with less then 20 miles between me and the ocean.  This beautiful city that I have made my home in.  The beautiful beaches that I have sat, napped, sunbathed, walked, jogged and even played with Tippy on.  The beautiful blue ocean that I have swam in and paddle boarded on.

This city and these beaches that have brought me peace and healing these past several months will soon be facing a punishing blow by Matthew, now a Cat 4 hurricane with no feelings, care or concern.  A hurricane that has already taken the lives of 108 souls on its path of destruction through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.  A hurricane that could possibley make a u-turn and hit Florida with a right hook.

In preparation for Matthew I unplugged all of my small appliances.  Moved my tv against an interior wall.  Cleaned out the refrigerator of any food that could spoil in a power outage.  Threw some clothes, books, shoes and my laptop in a bag and said goodbye to my new home and closed the door.  Praying that when I return, my home and the few possessions in it are in one piece.

Evacuated.

Me and Tippy are safely with our framily in Lake Mary.  We will certainly be impacted by Matthew.  We might lose power.  Some trees may fall down….

…but we have each other and we will weather the storm together.

Please pray for us in Florida.

And when the storm passes and the sun shines again, remember, that many people could be facing significant damage, no home to return to, a long period of time with no work or power, or even loss of life.  Remember them as they rebuild their lives.  Donate your time to clean-up efforts, food banks and animal shelters.  Provide a bagged lunch or hot meal.  People will be in need.  People will be thankful for any and all help.

To my friends who couldn’t leave Jacksonville, I pray for your safety.

God bless.

Until next time…

Love, Jeni ❤

 

He Saved You

A reminder that seasons are temporary and growth and healing inevitable ❤️

The Bottom of a Bottle

He Saved You

He didn’t save you
To let you take yourself once more
He didn’t save you
To wallow in your fears

You weren’t pulled from the depths
To just dig another hole
You weren’t showered in light
To wrap yourself in shadows

Seasons will come to cover us all
But these don’t define us
Seasons of darkness we will have to walk
But these He walks at our sides

He didn’t save you
So you could just let go
He saved you
So you could hold eternity

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Negative Connotations

We see them, hear them, speak them….

Every damn day.

Actually, the word connotation itself is really quite neutral.

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It’s when we attach the word “negative” to it that the definition becomes, well, negative.

Duh.  (Smooth Jen.  Real smooth.)

Soooooo…

The topic is negative connotations….

For example, whenever I see a U-Haul truck (like today when I was pumping gas), in particular the 10-foot moving truck model that fits the contents of a one bedroom home, it holds a “negative” connotation for me.  Seeing one reminds me of a time in my life that I was so absolutely positive I was doing the right thing  because I believed my heart and the words and actions of another party, and in reality, I was about to blindly walk off the ledge and fall in to an abyss that would change me forever in ways unthinkable.

In the past two years I have lived in places, with people, and each experience has grown me and made me stronger, yet, I can’t help but wonder why I’ve had to go through such extreme circumstances and situations to get to a place where I can finally begin to rebuild and move forward without all the negatives infringing on that forward movement.

After thinking long and hard about the negative, I realize, I’m pretty fucking tired of it all.  Tired of seeing things, like a U-Haul truck, and letting the thought carry me backwards, always pulling the scab off an old wound.  Tired of dealing with the toxic and negative behavior of others that can’t get their own shit together, so instead they take it out on everyone around them, including me.  Tired of wondering when it’s all going to stop feeling so difficult and just become smooth sailing with everything coming up roses.

And like a 10 foot U-Haul moving truck, it hit me…

It’s time for me to take the “implication” of those feelings and find the positive.

It took two U-Haul trucks (and a bunch of other shit) to bring me where I am today, both geographically and emotionally.  It hasn’t been a smooth journey (and there have been a few assholes along the way), but there have been a lot of positives which have contributed to my growth and a few people that have come in to my life that will be with me forever and I’m so incredibly grateful for them.  I truly can’t say that my path would have crossed with theirs, thus them becoming an integral part of my life without those damn U-Hauls!

These days, I’m traveling light, since all my shit is gone anyway.  What I have left, fits very nicely in my car.

I’m at ground zero.

Starting over.

And that’s ok.

That’s a positive.  Since there is nothing left to lose.

Literally.

And, if I’m lucky, I’ll need a U-Haul in a couple of years, that I can fill with new things that hold great and positive memories…

…and connotations.

Until next time…

Love, Jeni

When Life Gets Messy…Keep Trying

Life gets messy

My life has certainly seen it’s fair share of mess.  More so in these last twenty months as I try to navigate my way through the healing process that I so wish would hurry up and get itself done already.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m much better now then I was just a few short months ago.

The healing process is unique unto the individual.  It’s like mourning.  No one can tell you when it will get better.  No one can set a time limit or declare what is reasonable when it comes to resolving feelings of pain and sadness.

And the kicker?

No one can go through it for you.

Nope.

It’s a true solo gig.

Just you.

So, what do you do?

You just keep trying…

At one point, not long ago, I was ready to quit.  To end it all.  I was making some serious plans.

And even though I was actually entertaining taking my own life, the warrior that lives in me, the warrior that has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life, like the loss of my Mother, two difficult medical procedures and a boatload of medical problems to choke a pig, she just wasn’t going to quit on me.

And I’m so grateful she didn’t.  I shudder to think of the irreversibleness of one decision.  I’m sad that I let myself even go there.

During those darkest of days, I didn’t know where to start, or how to start, I just knew I had to keep trying.

I’m glad I did.

I’m in a different place now.  Not quite complete.  But getting there.

Dipping my toe in the water.

Testing.

Seeking.

Reminding myself that the happiness I once knew, is possible again.

There are those who heal faster then others, and those who heal at an incredibly slow rate.

I’m healing at Jen pace.  For some, that may be too slow.  Or not to their liking.  Or even understanding.  That’s ok.  I love them in their space and wish them well.  It’s not their journey anyway.

I’m just going to keep trying.  Keep trying.  Keep trying.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mess to go clean up.

Until next time.

Love, Jeni