Life · Thoughts

To my grandmother, as she forgets…

I don’t know much about Alzheimers/Dementia – in fact, I know nothing more than how difficult it is to watch and experience alongside someone you love…

I am blessed to have close relationships with both my immediate and extended family. My parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and I have spent a number of memorable and amazing vacations, holidays, events, and visits together throughout my almost-28 years and I can say with complete confidence and conviction that my family, both immediate and extended, takes number one in my life: my number one blessing and my number one favorite thing.

I have two grandparents here still (and wonderful-solid memories of the 18-25 years with the two that are doing their thing in heaven now).

My grandparents, Granne and Pop / Anne and Ray, have been married for 61 years; they have 3 children, 3 married-in-children, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and a Katie (a beloved Shih Tzu / dog-child). These facts have been my grandmother’s favorite things to tell people. Whether they be new friends, old friends, pastors, nail technicians, receptionists, waitresses, bartenders, or janitorial staff; if they’ve crossed paths with my grandmother, they know she has been married for 61 years… has 3 children, 3 married-in-children, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and a Katie.

Growing up, I have to admit I sometimes shrunk from the long family rundown she’d do for strangers… but now my grandmother is starting to forget… and thinking on it now, on her repeatedly listing us as the first thing she wanted someone (anyone, everyone) to know about her… that love… I can’t help but want that repeat-rundown back…

Dear Granne, 

Granne, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now. I know you’re forgetting some things and, it seems to me at least, you’re starting to forget them faster these days. I know that the things happening in your life don’t make sense to you; it’s hard to keep track of events, people, and timelines and as a result, some of your behaviors aren’t “you” anymore. I know you fight them. I know you want to be strong; to be yourself and to be who you’ve always been for all of us. I know you’re scared, Granne. Who could blame you?

Here’s the thing though, Granne… you don’t have to be scared (and as I’ll explain, neither do we).

You married an amazing man 61-years ago; our beloved Pop, a man who, no matter how hard it gets, no matter the challenge, no matter the drama or the controversy, chooses you; who never wavers on the words, “she’s my girl” in the face of the fight.

You brought three people up in this crazy world; taught them to work hard, to care for one another, to love other people, to have faith, to be strong, to laugh at themselves, and to give back… and they married three people who do the same.

Your three (turned six) people, brought more people into the world and taught them (us!) to work hard, to care for one another, to love other people, to have faith, to be strong, to laugh at ourselves, and to give back.

You see Granne, you created and trained your own team; a team of people who were taught the qualities that a good life requires; the qualities that are especially required now. These people… your people… love you, will take care of you, look out for you, cheer you on, and fight for what’s best for you.

Here’s the other thing Granne, you also taught us to do all these things for each other. We’ll travel through life loving each other, taking care of each other, looking out for each other, cheering each other on, and fighting for what’s best for one another. 

You don’t have to be scared for you and you don’t have to be scared for us – because you gave us the gift of each other – which, I have to say, is my very favorite thing. 

As you start to forget, Granne, we don’t want you to worry; we won’t. We’ll hold on to the memories that you may not always be able to recall.

We’ll hold on to Charleston, Folly, Seabrook… your “pink house and purple car,” your shrimp and grits, your giant Christmas tree, your mac-n-cheese recipe…

We’ll hold on to the recitals, concerts, tournaments, games, graduations, and weddings you were at… the dances we’ve danced, the games we’ve played, the fun and laughs we’ve had…

We’ll hold on to your strength, your determination, your southern sass, your protective nature, your family-focus, and your ability to chug a frozen margarita in 3 seconds flat…

We’ll hold on to the memories and stories of the parties you had, the friendships you cultivated, the people you helped, the places you’ve seen, the support you’ve provided, the amazing wife/mother/grandmother you’ve been, and the endless love you continue to give… even as life changes around you.

Granne, it’s going to be different, but it’s going to be okay. We are a forever-team. You are not alone. You don’t have to be scared… we’ve got this… because we’ve always had you.

So much appreciation, respect, and love forever and ever and ever.

L

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Life · Thoughts

A Eulogy…

I’ve let time pass again. I don’t know where it goes! It seems to just rip by me lately.

I recently came across this (beautiful) Eulogy written by Curtis Christiansen, whom I actually don’t know. We’re just barely connected, as he wrote the below about one of my sorority sister’s husbands who was recently called home.

It struck me.

I didn’t personally know Jimmy, only the beautiful soul he planned to share forever with, though reading about him the last few days, I wish I had gotten the chance.

Here’s some soul-food, some food for thought, and a continuous prayer request because there will surely be a void in many lives without this man in the world…

 

Later today we will celebrate the life of Jimmy McLaughlin.

But I would like to share with you now my favorite Jimmy story.

Most evenings when the weather is nice, you will find Kim and me out on our deck unwinding from the stress of the day and catching up with each other.  If you are not familiar with where we live, our yard backs right up to the Herndon High School athletic fields.   There is a fairly thick wooded area between our yard and the more elevated fields, which are enclosed by a chain link fence that is probably a good 7 or 8 feet tall.  Because of our close proximity, if we are on our deck, we are hearing whatever game, practice, or band event that is occurring on the fields.

On this particular evening, if I remember correctly, it was a Powder Puff game that was taking place.

So there we were, on the deck just talking and sitting at the table under the umbrella.  That’s when it happened.

All of a sudden there was this great commotion in woods behind our house.   We could hear bushes and leaves rustling loudly; branches snapping and cracking…..and I mean cracking, these were obviously no small branches being broken.

What the heck could it be?

We were startled…was it a huge deer?  A Big Foot?

What could possibly be snapping large branches like tooth picks and causing all that commotion?

Should we go to safety inside the house?

Seconds later, we saw it.

It wasn’t a giant deer.  No and it wasn’t Big Foot either.

It was a human.

It was a human wearing only a Speedo.

And it was Jimmy.

As Jimmy emerged from the trees and the underbrush he quickly bolted across our back yard.  As you would expect with Jimmy, he very respectfully acknowledged Kim and I on the deck with a greeting, never losing a step as he raced across the yard.  We watched in confusion and disbelief as Jimmy crossed the neighbor’s yard, then the common area, and finally disappeared around the tennis courts.

Later I would learn that in the moments  just before the commotion in the woods, Jimmy had streaked across the Powder Puff Game field and had a couple of adults in hot pursuit as he scaled and leaped the high chain link fence and went crashing through the woods.

For Kim and I, left looking at each other thinking what’s to disbelieve?

It was Jimmy in his Speedo crashing through the woods and running through the yard.

Why not?

And we laughed.

 

I recently read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic.  You might be familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert because she wrote Eat, Pray, Love; which was pretty popular.   In Big Magic, Gilbert introduces the concept that inspiration is a living thing.  And as a living thing, inspiration is constantly looking for a place to live, a place to develop.  Left idle, that inspiration would move on looking for someplace else, someone else, where it could continue to live and grow.

That may be hard to imagine, but I believe inspiration found a home in Jimmy.  Jimmy was inspired to do great things with his life.  After college something motivated him to leave his comfort zone and join the Navy.  But not just the Navy, he took on Navy Seal training and ultimately became a Medical Navy Diver graduating at the top of his class.

Something in Jimmy drove him to want to take on the most challenging and be the best at it.

And he succeeded.

I propose this to you, because I want you to consider that what if Ms. Gilbert’s theory has merit?  What if the inspiration that found its home in Jimmy, is now idle and looking for a place to live?

And wouldn’t it be an honor and a privilege if the inspiration that was alive in Jimmy, found its new home in one of us.

But maybe we think that is a bunch of crap and don’t believe that inspiration is a living thing looking for a place to grow.

Maybe we don’t need to.  Maybe we just need to consider Jimmy’s life…. not his death, but his life; and maybe that would be enough  to inspire one of us  to strive to do something we have never done before, something outside our comfort zone, and be the best at it.

And do it with the same good nature and passion that Jimmy would have done it with.

I think so.

And for Jimmy, who did all the hard work to provide that inspiration for us, that would be an honorable way to be remembered.

But for now Jimmy,  rest……. in peace.

 

Love out, prayers up.

 

Thoughts

The season that required it…

Yesterday, I was standing in the kitchen at work, heating up a Lean Cuisine at 11am, feeling the pants that two months ago I regretted not getting in a smaller size, stretch against my thighs, trying not to cry. Haha.

I’ve gained a solid 10 lbs over the last 2-3 months. Which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but when it took you an intense 8 months to get rid of 30 lbs (which was still 10 lbs away from goal)… ugh. Cue regret and tears.

I beat myself up about it all day yesterday. I even heard myself say out loud getting out a friend’s car, “I guess I’ll wobble my fat ass inside with you” …not nice Leanne, not nice. I knew I had been gaining weight (despite still exercising regularly… my endurance is badass right now… ) but I just let myself continue on the same track and now, here I am 10 lbs heavier and in tight pants.

Last night I was laying in bed reading a new book, What Women Don’t Know and Men Won’t Tell You– I don’t know that I’d recommend it quite yet. It has me rolling my eyes a lot, I’m not really the type of woman they’re writing to. But anyway, it was talking about knowing your worth – about not waiting to get to a certain place, job, relationship, weight, etc. in order to be happy. And I started thinking…

This weight is because I’ve been busy. I’ve been busy being happy; busy being sad; being a good friend; a good listener; a good cheerleader. It’s from sitting across from friends while they cried over dinner; it’s from friends sitting across from me while I cried over dinner; it’s from drinks with a newly single friend making her way in the world; it’s from the Starbucks I grabbed running late to work after a night of worrying; it’s from the late night snacking I did recovering from a heartbreak; it’s from bad dates and good dates; from catching up with old friends and attempts at making new friends… it’s from life happening. And while I wish I had made a few healthier choices, I won’t regret all that life; all that in-between. I’ll (temporarily) wear this weight knowing that it was a season of my life that required it.

That being said, I feel icky and tired. I don’t have the right energy or the right confidence to carry on doing this “life” work well.

So, it’s back on the grind we go. But this time, not because I need to look a certain way or impress certain people (though naturally, part of the drive), but because it makes me feel a certain way. Because it gives me energy and strength. Because if someone needs me to be a good friend, a good listener, a good cheerleader, I need to be my best me; mentally, emotionally, and physically.

I need to stop obsessing so much about how it looks and realizing more about how good it feels. I need to stop guilting myself for living and instead reward myself for living well with the opportunity to live longer and healthier; surrounded by more people and in a body that I’m confident carrying around in my life work.

That’s the goal at least.

On another note: Did y’all see this gorgeous new Sports Illustrated model, Ashley Graham? Give ’em hell girl, you look hot.

ashley graham

Quick thoughts · Thoughts

We’ll call this one hypothetical…

So, I’m sitting at my desk laughing out loud at the evil brilliance that daily sits in my head but never escapes the confines of my imagination.

We’ll call this entire thing hypothetical…

Let’s say, hypothetically, you had been dating someone. And because of the time spent together, you had logged his devices into your Pandora account… because you have the paid account and so you don’t have to listen to any commercials, and duh, that’s just a dating courtesy.

Let’s say, again hypothetically, that dating said-person didn’t end super well. Or rather, it just never really got the ending / reworking of the relationship that it deserved (deserves*)… which feels worse than “didn’t end super well” …or, you know, it would feel worse, if this wasn’t all hypothetical…

Ahem.

Let’s say that now, with a little hurt still sittin’ in your heart, when you log in to your Pandora account, occasionally there’s a new station added to your list. Let’s go so far as to say that even though it stings a little, you end up liking the stupid station. Which is just, ugh… but you like it, damnit… you like it.

You don’t want to be petty and change your password and c’mon, you’re gaining some good new stations. Plus, you know that you’ll be friends again before too long and this will all be kind of funny…

Let’s say though, that you haven’t really gotten to speak your mind on it all… that the topic has been avoided…

Hypothetically.

WHAT IF you were to change all the stations to ones whose titles would speak your mind for you…

It wouldn’t be about the songs themselves… but about what this person saw when they clicked back into the app… Your own little force-you-to-read-me letter…

Ha. Haha. Ha.

If you were to do that, which you wouldn’t because you’re an adult and you really do have faith that the friendship will come back around, but if you were… wouldn’t it be funny…

(If your patience for my post is running thin, scroll down through this list, it’s worth it, I promise.)

  • There’s always that F/Forget You, Cee Lo song… which is just a little too intense, but the idea of it being on the list… pretty brilliant.
  • Same with that I Hate Everything About You, Three Days Grace song, not really applicable — to this hypothetical situation — but again, pretty funny.
  • I Heard It Through the Grape Vine, Marvin Gay
  • Rumor Has It, Adele
  • Burn, Usher
  • Cold As You, Taylor Swift
  • Hell On The Heart, Eric Church
  • You Give Love a Bad Name, Bon Jovi
  • Like a Wrecking Ball, Eric Church
  • You Must Be Out Of Your Mind, Magnetic Fields
  • Best Days of Your Life, Kellie Pickler
  • I Hate Myself For Loving You, Joan Jett
  • Whiskey and You, Chris Stapleton
  • You’re So Vain, Carly Simon
  • Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
  • Highway to Hell, ACDC
  • What Goes Around Comes Around, Justin Timberlake
  • Here’s a Quarter – Call Someone Who Cares, Travis Tritt
  • Gives You Hell, American Rejects
  • You’ll Think of Me, Keith Urban
  • Me, Myself, and I, Beyonce
  • I Don’t Care Anymore, Phil Collins
  • Better Man, Pearl Jam
  • Do My Thang, Miley Cirus
  • Peaceful Easy Feelin, The Eagles
  • Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Bob Dylan
  • Irreplaceable, Beyonce
  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
  • Bye Bye Bye, The Backstreet Boys

Reading between the lines, one might get a little message like…

  • F/Forget YouI Hate Everything About You and you know what, I Heard It Through the Grape Vine that you’re seeing someone now and actually, Rumor Has It you were probably messin’ around anyways. But after everything we’ve been through? Ugh, Burn. I didn’t think someone could be as Cold As You. This has all been such Hell On The Heart and in turn, You Give Love a Bad Name. I feel like I got hit by, I don’t know, Like a Wrecking Ball but you know what? You Must Be Out Of Your Mind because those days with me were probably the Best Days of Your Life. As it turns out, you didn’t deserve them and for that, I Hate Myself For Loving You. Okay to be fair, I hate myself for loving Whiskey and You. But back to the point, You’re So Vain, I hope you just Go Your Own Way; maybe jump on the Highway to Hell. Remember that What Goes Around Comes Around but when it does Here’s a Quarter – Call Someone Who CaresI hope the next girl you date really Gives You Hell and I know that when she does, You’ll Think of Me but it’ll be too late because I’m looking out for Me, Myself, and I now and honestly I Don’t Care Anymore. I found me a Better Man and I’m just gunna Do My Thang from now on; that always gives me a Peaceful Easy Feelin. So really, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. I know I’m Irreplaceable and that I Will Survive so Bye bye bye.

bey-1

I’m just sayin’… that’d make for one hell of a “subtle” letter-style station list.

 

Thoughts

A little perspective…

I want so desperately to stay better on top of this thing but whoa, October is kicking my butt so far (and we’re only one week in)!

Some of my long time friends married each other this past weekend and my best friend marries an amazing man next weekend! Awesome things, for sure.

Because I’m so overwhelmed by all the happy happenings though, I’m stealing a writing I found on Facebook to fill my space. You may have already read it; it’s been trending the last couple of days but it has popped in and out of my mind since I read it on Monday! It is awesomely written and in these days when everyone else’s lives seem “more exciting” or “further along”… this writing is a raw brave reminder that everyone has their “things”.

So… I promise next time I’ll have another embarrassing story or something awkwardly personal but in the meantime…


Genevieve V Georget's photo.

September 30 at 7:58pm

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I walked into Starbucks that day nearly six years ago. I stood at the bar, waiting for my drink, when the barista politely asked me what I was up to that day. As it turns out, I was en route to the airport at that moment…about to catch a flight to Italy with my husband. After a brief minute of chatting, the barista handed me my coffee and wished me a nice trip. “But then again”, she said “why wouldn’t you…your life is golden!”

I’ll admit…the gold star was nice. But at the same time, the words knocked the wind out of me. She wasn’t being rude. She wasn’t being sarcastic. In fact, she was being totally genuine. And that’s the part that really took my breath away.

Because here’s the thing…

This lovely girl saw me for all of five minutes a day. Usually all dressed up on the way to my full-time job at one of the country’s most prestigious art galleries. Or with my camera in hand to photograph two people in love. Or, yes, on my way to Italy for ten days to celebrate my anniversary. This is what she saw. Therefore, this is what she knew.

And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge. Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only five minutes at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hash tagged. In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault. That battle we’re fighting…those rough days were having…they don’t tend to translate very well when you have twenty people in line behind you for coffee or a hundred and forty characters to spell out your day.

Honestly, what was I going to tell my barista?

“Yes, we’re flying to Europe. I just miscarried our baby…we had a terrifying health scare…I’m suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder…and we’re feeling pretty far from God right now. So, yeah, going to Italy seemed as good a place as any to just run away from our life and justifiably eat gelato twelve times a day.”

No. I wasn’t going to tell her this. Because shocking total strangers into oblivion is a bit harsh and cruel. Especially when she’s the girl in charge of making your coffee every day.

But I did spend the entirety of that flight wondering; about our sense of authenticity…our collective vulnerability…our polished identity. And it made me feel like a total fraud. Because I’m not any of those things that this girl sees on the other side of her coffee bar.

If I showed up one morning, wearing my most ragged and scarred self…it would be a very different girl staring back at her [and she would likely feel inclined to serve me alcohol instead of coffee!]…

Because I was bullied a lot as a teenager.

I’m afraid of thunderstorms.

I spend an absurd amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.

My biggest challenge in life is letting go of people. Even if they hurt me.

I hide behind my humor for fear that people won’t accept me without it.

I feel like I have failed as a daughter.

I try to avoid big groups so that I won’t feel like the invisible one among it.

I’m insanely self-conscious of my smile.

I feel like I’m an easy person to walk away from in life…and it haunts me on a daily basis.

I almost always operate under the assumption that I care more about everyone else than they do about me.

I unfollow people on Instagram if their life seems too perfect because it makes me feel inadequate.

I feel like a terrible mother pretty much all the time.

I hate emptying the dishwasher.

Every day, I’m afraid that my husband is going to wake up and finally realize how much crazy he married.

I thank God for every day that he doesn’t!

I don’t like to try new foods…so I travel with my own jar of peanut butter.

I want to write a book so badly that it hurts. But I’m afraid of people telling me that my life was never worth telling.

I struggle, every single day, with feeling like I’m enough. Skinny enough. Funny enough. Good enough.

And I cry. A lot.

I highly doubt I would get a gold star for any of this. But, now, six years later, I do know one thing for sure; that even with all of my frailty…all of my fears…and all my faults…none of those things make my life any less golden.

Scars tell stories. Scars mean survival. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee. She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own front line…struggling in her own way.

And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability.

So, buy your coffee…wear your scars proudly…and carry on, dear soldier…

You’re not in this battle alone.

photo credit: www.richellehunter.com | Richelle Hunter Photography


Thoughts

because momma said so.

People have been telling me for years that I should start a blog; my friends, my coworkers, my mom, my grandfather, my aunt… I’ve toyed with the idea for a long time, knowing I have some pretty good stories (both my own and the memories of some told to me) but how does blogging work exactly? How do you write from the heart without over-sharing; or write the honest truth without your boss/bestie firing you; or write real-life stories that don’t make your family want you dead (I love you Aunt Amy, it’s going to be okay…)?

Mom Lobster
You can just see the optimism in her eyes, can’t you?

Yesterday I went to visit my parents, having just gotten back in town from an OBX trip with some girlfriends; my best girlfriends, girls I’ve known since I was 5 years old. I had just barely begun telling mom and dad about how eerily different all of our lives are now; how we’re all in completely different places and how it’s hard to know where you’re supposed to be when everyone around you is so perfectly where they are. My mom, who’s an eternal optimist always filled with energy and spirit, said to me even more enthusiastically than the million times before, “You should blog. I know great things are coming. I just know it. I feel it more than ever. Things are just falling into place so freaky-weird” …and then we watched Tangled together and she pretty much told me to get a life because I knew all the words.

But you know what they say, “Motherrrrr knows best” (the context of this song in Tangled doesn’t really support my point here but nevertheless…) so I’m going to give this blogging thing a shot for a little while.

I’ve always heard that you “find yourself in losing yourself” so you might have to bear with me in the wanderings of this thing while I get it all figured out.  I hope it at least makes you laugh sometimes… Mom says that the crazy things that happen to me are “building character.” I think I have enough character (an ABUNDANCE of character) at this point but apparently God thinks differently because the stories keep piling up. So, okay, let’s do this thang.