He’s dead and I’m not over it.

chinatown and pelican hill 008I’m in the second year of my husband’s death. I have had the memorial service. I have received all the condolences and prayers of the first year. I have his ashes in a box in his office. I have tattooed his handwriting on my wrist. I have answered the question “how are you” a million times. My kids have had grief counseling and I have read one million books to help with the grieving process.

Your life goes on and it should.

My life goes on and it should.

But what you need to know..is that I will never get over it. Every day at some point, something happens that makes me miss him.

Sometimes it’s that moment in the morning when I realize that the kids won’t ever see us embracing in front of the coffee machine again.  (Yes I said embrace! Just go with it!) I was always cognizant of that moment. We were showing the kids that no matter what happens in the day, we were a team. We showed affection. We showed a partnership. I was always proud of that hug in the kitchen. I knew the kids were watching.  I hope they remember it. That hug is important.

Sometimes that moment of missing comes when the boys are fighting and I am at my wits end. I want to hear his voice cutting through the air telling them to “shut it down.” They listen to him. Maybe because they are scared of the hand on the back of neck that grabs hold and guides them up to their rooms. lol My hand doesn’t have that power.

And of course….I miss him during math homework. That’s a given!!

I know when they learn to drive, when they go on their first date, when they graduate, get married, have a baby…..I will feel his absence.

And I am a lucky one.

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I was loved by him for almost 27 years.

My kids have many memories of him.

I believe he is around. I am aware of his signs. And yet I will still miss him.

You guys……his clothes are still in our closet. I know some people think that is weird. But I have shared a closet with him since I was 19 (don’t tell my mom.)  It’s comforting to me to sit in there surrounded by his trendy jeans and beat up shoes. He had an LA homeless kind of style. lol

Since I’m spilling secrets, I’ll go ahead and tell you that his sandals are still in the corner of his office as if at any minute he will slide into them to go out on his porch and sneak a smoke. I hated those sandals. And the secret smoking. And yet they bring me comfort now.

A year seems like a long time and yet a split second all at once. You know what I mean. Doesn’t high school seem like yesterday? Hate to tell you, but it was more than a year ago. (don’t ask me how much more…that’s rude!)

So when you ask me how I’m doing…I’m ok. But it’s different. There’s a heaviness in me that you may never notice. I don’t really want you to.  But I need you to know that I will never be over it.

You can always ask me about him.

I never want to stop saying his name. You won’t be reminding me of something I’d forgotten. You won’t be making me sad.

I am sad.

With great love comes great loss. 

But I choose to focus on the love. I choose to sit in gratitude. What an amazing gift I was given.

I know how to love greatly! And I know I will again! That is a gift.

Life is not supposed to be easy. We came from easy.

We will go back to easy.

Life is meant to teach us…and most of the lessons come from adversity.  I embrace the lessons but it doesn’t mean I get over the loss.

You know what I just realized? I don’t want to get over it. I never want to get over it.

I grow because of it.

adversity

Thanks for listening. It helps.

xoxo

 

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The last real day….

This week it will be a year since Hunter died. On October 1st he went into the hospital and October 5th he died.

I don’t want to commemorate his death. Why would I want to give any focus to the worst week of my life? That’s not how he wants to be remembered anyway. I’d rather focus on his life. His birthday. Our anniversary.

And today.

September 30th. This was the last real day Hunter had. A year ago tonight, sleep apnea would damage his brain and he wouldn’t recover. But let’s not think about that. Let’s focus on the day.

Most weekend afternoons after running kids all over town to different activities, Hunter would be in his office watching football, paying bills, reading. I would be running around the rest of the house, yelling at kids, making lists, pretending to get organized for the week ahead but really just procrastinating on social media. We’d catch glimpses of each other but no real connection. Until the weekly budget talk…which never ended well for me. Then we’d give each other a quick peck on the lips and I’d go upstairs for the night while Hunter binge watched some  20 part documentary on quantum physics.  A typical day without a moment of true awareness of each other. Or what we mean to each other.

But last year was different. We went to the beer festival!  We were out of our routine and out of the house. We held hands. We talked about life. We said I love you a lot. We kissed more.

What a blessing that on the very last real day of Hunter’s life, we were a couple. We loved. We connected.  September 30th will always be a reminder to me that life is short and that daily connection is important.

I was lucky. Not everyone gets a beer festival on the last real day of their loved one’s life. If I hadn’t had it, then we more than likely would have had a typical weekend of passing each other in the kitchen. No hand holding. No kisses. No intentional connection.

So on this day, September 30th, and every day after, I want to encourage you to take a moment to connect with your person. An intentional connection. It doesn’t have to be an afternoon at the beer festival. It can be 15 minutes of coffee, or even 2 minutes of really seeing each other and saying I appreciate you.

I hope you can go for longer than that though.

And I hope you hold hands.

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So…..my husband died.

I know that’s blunt. But what is the right way to let you know? Might as well just say it.

4 months ago my husband died. It was unexpected.

 Who knew sleep apnea could kill you. 

Maybe you did.

We thought it just interrupted sleep and could wreak havoc on your body long term. 

We were wrong.

I’ve always been a positive person. In high school I had to come up with a phrase in theater class. Something like a motto I guess. Mine was “Let a smile be your umbrella and no one will rain on your parade.” My theater friends aka cynics loved giving me a hard time about it. And I do know that I built off of a phrase that already existed. lol But it seemed to fit me. 

And through the years there were lots of times when someone tried to rain on my parade, but it didn’t seem to bother me too much. I knew I was strong. I knew I had something to offer even when someone else didn’t see it right away. I believed that my thoughts create my reality. If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Energy goes where attention flows. A positive outlook can create a positive outcome. <—— I think I just made that one up. It’s pretty good. Can you tell I love self help books? 

And then my husband died. 

Positive thinking was not going to change that. 

So I had to decide pretty quickly….was I going to keep my motto? I never imagined it would be my husband that rained on my parade. He was always helping me hold the fucking umbrella. Can you tell I love metaphors? 

We had a few days with him in the hospital before he died. I remember thinking, “What a blessing. He could have died in a hotel room on a business trip. He could have died at home before I came downstairs and noticed something was wrong. What a blessing.” 

His parents and brother were able to say goodbye. His kids could see him one last time. He became an organ donor. Those are blessings.

And that’s how it started. That’s how I coped. I started looking for the blessings. OK fine… I also started binge reading any book I could find on the soul or the afterlife. It was a problem. I had like 4 books going at once along with multiple videos open to mediums connecting to the dead. I know that freaks some people out. It comforted me. I wanted to talk to him again. I wanted to know he was around. I believe that the soul lives on. I believe that some are more connected to that world than others.  

I started looking for ways to connect with other widows. I needed to see what it looks like 6 months in, 1 year in, 10 years in. So I met some amazing women. And connected. And I thought, what a fucking blessing. To be inspired by them. To learn from them. To connect. Because that’s what my soul wants to do. Connect with people. 

I wear his watch. And his wedding ring around my neck.

I also got a tattoo of his pet name for me in his handwriting. He called me Sweetie. I swear, it takes everything I have not to become the painted lady and get his handwriting all over me. Kind of like Angelina Jolie but maybe a bit creepier. Although she wore a vial of blood around her neck, so maybe not. I can feel him rolling his eyes and saying- stop using me as an excuse to get a tattoo. lol sweetie

I’m not sure why I am writing this out with the intention of posting it. I think it’s partly because I’ve been MIA on my Carpool Confessions page and I wanted to let you know why. I think it’s partly because I feel proud of myself for how I’m handling it and I want to share it. Maybe it can encourage or inspire someone else to look for the blessings. 

In one of the million books I’ve read, it said something like “In the midst of tragedy can come great beauty.” I’m paraphrasing, but I love that idea.  I’ve seen a lot of beauty in the last 4 months. Because of my family, my friends, my community, my kids, my own strength. Connections.

I did have to look for it. The sadness can definitely cloud your perception. But I am holding on to my umbrella. And it seems to be working ok. 

I just wanted you to know.

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3 easy steps to handle the Kindergarten blues.

Attention all moms of kindergartners. I’ve seen your posts. I’ve heard your cries. You’re having a tough time. Your sweet baby is off for 8 hours of reading and writing and ‘rithmetic. Now what? Don’t worry. I’m here to help. Listen to me, a seasoned mom of three, follow these 3 easy steps and find your way out of the Kinder blues.

1.Get moving.  The first step in breaking out of your kinder funk is to put on workout clothes. This sends a message. A message to yourself and others. The message is clear: You are a person with discipline. You are person that has her shit together. You are a go getter. It sets the tone for the whole day. Then move your body over to the couch, and start working on step #2.  The Daily Mail says thinking about moving is just as good as actually moving. Awesome!

My favorite exercise…

diddly squats

2. Get support. From 8am-3pm, you have a void that needs to be filled. You are not alone. Find your friends.  If this is your first child, going for coffee isn’t going to be enough. You need extra strength therapy. You need brunch. Brunch can start as early as 9am. Bloody Mary’s and mimosas will help fill the void.

Keep calm and have brunch!

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3. Get some rest. Step 3 is easy if you have already followed steps 1 and 2. You’ve strengthened your muscles by thinking about working out, you’ve broken bread (And opened wine) with your support group. The logical next step is a nap. Day drinking makes everyone tired, and now that your little one is at school, you finally have an opportunity to catch up on some z’s. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and clear headed. Which is exactly how you want to be when navigating school pick up!

The dog daze of Kindergarten.

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So there you have it.

From sappy to happy in 3 easy steps.

You don’t have to be pulled down by the Kinder blues. All you have to do is take the first step. This schedule has helped many a mom break through and fill the void. Don’t waste anymore time feeling depressed. Find the strength and start with step 1. You’re going to get through this. You will be ok.  xoxo

It’s summer! Now what?(Plan B activities in Los Angeles)

We’ve just begun our summer break and I am already googling, “Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles.” This is a search I make anytime I’m with the kids for more than 24 hours. I told myself I wasn’t going to overschedule them. I told myself I don’t need a bunch of overpriced summer camps to entertain my kids; they can figure it out themselves. But after several full days of online gaming and wine thirty starting earlier and earlier, I realize I may have a problem on my hands. So I’ve got to have a Plan B.

Lucky for you, my problem is your gain! Take a look at some of the Plan B’s. This is a list of the not so obvious things you can do around Los Angeles. Some I have done, some my friends have done, and some need to be done by someone soon. Feel free to add your own suggestions or reviews in the comments!

  • The Skyspace and Sky Slide in DTLA. This just opened! It’s got killer views of the city and a glass slide that takes you from the 70th to the 69th floor on the outside of the building! 1000 feet in the air! You read that right. Tips: Splurge for the VIP Sky Slide combo ticket so you bypass lines! Check it out!
  • LACMA Friday jazz nights! It’s free! Grab a blanket, a cooler, and let the kids run free. The museum is free after 5 for Los Angeles residents on this nights. Here’s the lineup. Fridays from April to November.
  • Surf lessons! Yes you can go to the beach and not surf, but why not shake it up a bit and hang ten with some rad instructors. (That is surf lingo.)  Most recently we went with Go Surf. 2 instructors for 3 kids. Other friends have suggested LA Surf and Swim,  MalibuMakos, and Santa Monica Surf School.

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  • IFly! Ever wanted to skydive but that whole falling out of an airplane thing scared you off? IFly has you covered. Skydiving experience without the worry of falling to your death. It’s located in Universal City Walk which is an event all on it’s own.
  • Museum of Death. I don’t like museums. And truth be told I’m a big scaredy cat, so this might not be good for me, but finding things to entertain the older kids can be difficult. If you think they can handle it, why not go check out death up close and personal? Museum of Death.
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology. Speaking of museums, this is not one. It is, but it isn’t. I was told that it was actually something for a movie, but then someone else said it was an art installation, but then someone else said ….you get the picture. It’s intriguing and there’s a Russian tea room. Something to think about….or is it? Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  • Grand Central Market food booths. In Downtown LA there is a national caliber eating experience. With booths like EggSlut, Sticky Rice, and Horse Thief BBQ there is something for everyone!  It’s an adventure in eating!Market
  • Chinatown Summer Nights. Every 3rd Sunday of the summer months, Chinatown opens up to bring you food trucks, food and cultural demonstrations, and hands on activities. Some have been known to leave with a turtle or two. Click here to get the 411.
  • Watts Towers. Take a tour of the artwork and get a bit of history and cultural in South Central. Definitely take the guided tour.
  • Santa Monica Trapeze School. Everyone goes to the pier for the amusement park and beach. Why not do something different? Fly through the air with the greatest of ease.  I took my 16 year old nephew and even he had blast. I honestly recommend this for the whole family. It’s a blast. Make reservations, the classes fill up! catch me
  • Horseback Riding. One day a few summers ago, I asked my kids what they would like to do for the day….for some reason, horseback riding was the answer.  I took them to Griffith Park. There are two options for you. For little kids there are pony rides. It’s an enclosed pen and the horses will walk or trot. My kids loved it when they were little. Pony Rides.  For older riders you can take a guided trail ride with Griffith Park Horse Rentals. INFO AND RESERVATIONS:(818) 840-8401 Another option for horseback riding is Sunset Ranch.
  • Movie nights at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I didn’t realize that there were kid friendly movie options here, but it seems they do offer some. You can bring a picnic and beer/wine. A DJ spins music before and after the movie!  Check out the lineup here.
  • Greystone Mansion. This is a place to come and “stroll.” You can pretend it’s your lavish estate and you are walking the grounds, sitting on benches and admiring the gardens and fountains. Kids have lots of space to run off their summer energy. If the walls of the mansion could talk, you’d hear a tale of wealth and murder, but for now, you can only peek in the windows. The mansion itself is closed unless you are attending a special event. Here is the current calendar of eventsGuided tours are suspended for now, but are supposed to resume in December 2016.  Yay!
  • Escape Rooms! A great family bonding activity. You get locked in a room and have a limited amount of time to solve the clues, get the key and escape the room! A group of us did Trapped in a Room with a Zombie which was super fun, but not really best for kids. A few options for the younger crowd: 6 escape rooms for kids.

LOS ANGELES ADJACENT 😉

Here are a few options within 45-60 minutes outside of LA.

  • Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. You guys, they have free game day on Saturdays 10-3. This place rents and repairs old school video games and pinball machines. PacMan, Frogger, Donkey Kong! If it’s working and on the floor, it’s free! You do have to drive to Chatsworth, but who cares!? Check it out! 
  • Adventure Playground! This is in Huntington Beach, but man is it cool! Forget swing sets and slides, this place has do it yourself treehouses, wooden rafts, and a mudslide. A real outdoor play area for kids. Bring a change of clothes and shoes because your kids will get muddy! $3 entry fee for kids 16 and younger. adventure

 

  • Malibu Wine Safari. Yes a safari with wine! I want to do this with my girlfriends, but since we are talking about kid stuff, they have a Family Tour during the week that still involves wine but serves lemonade to the kids. Wine pairings and wild animals! what could go wrong! Here’s the info!
  • Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. This is a fun place to go have lunch in Malibu and then hang by the beach. They rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and have tasty cocktails! If you really want to do it up, you can rent a beach terrace for the day! Paradise Cove.

WANT MORE IDEAS?

Check out these websites for current events and activities around Los Angeles.

We Like LA

Red Tricycle

 

Get your shit together, Whitney.

6am this morning my 5th grader gets in bed with me.

Hi mom. I’m sad.

Why are you sad, baby?

I don’t like Mondays.

What’s wrong with Mondays?

School.

Ah yes. School. Are you stressed out?

Yes.

Feeling lost?

Yes.

And so it begins. The rest of the day I am feeling anxious and worried about how his day is going. He feels lost. I feel lost. He’s overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed!

And then the shaming begins. I’m a terrible mom. I haven’t done my best keeping him organized. Following up with teachers. Forcing him to study on weekends so that he goes to school on Monday feeling prepared. Get your shit together, Whitney! Why haven’t you been more on top of this? How dare you let your child feel anxious or overwhelmed. And you broke up with his tutor!! Money shouldn’t play a factor. The kid needs help! And Lord knows you aren’t giving it to him.

The next round of thoughts go something like this: Whitney, get your shit together. It’s fucking 5th grade. It’s not the end of the world. Who cares if he feels overwhelmed once in awhile. That’s good for him. He needs to learn to cope with uncomfortable feelings. As a matter of fact, you need to learn to cope with uncomfortable feelings.

Truth be told, he has probably gone on to school and hasn’t given it another thought. I’m the one internalizing his words and creating scenarios where my kid’s life is ruined because I’m not on top of things.  I should probably get a job. I obviously have way too much time on my hands.

I really do need to get my shit together. This has consumed my whole morning. I’ve emailed tutors and googled “How to Handle 5th grade stress.” (PS- there were actual articles to read. Apparently I’m not the only one overreacting.) No one’s life is in danger. I barely remember 5th grade, so it’s obviously not a huge factor in the grand scheme of things. Someone once told me, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems. ”

I better pace myself.

I’m exhausted now.

Is it 5 o’clock yet?

The breakup

We had been together since September.  We met through friends. He had an answer for all my problems. Even my kid liked him. That sealed the deal for me. We bonded quickly. I thought I could handle a long term relationship. I was wrong.

I became 2 dependent on him, you see. It wasn’t healthy. Once a week became twice a week. If I couldn’t see him, I would panic. I wanted more. But I couldn’t have more, mainly because he was 2 expensive.

Yes, he is a trained professional. Yes, he understands the common core math curriculum. But the weight of his fees were 2 much to bare.

Today I broke up with him. In an email.SATC-breakup-post-it

It was short but took me almost an hour to construct. I tried to explain that we had outgrown each other. Mainly he had outgrown my budget.  I gave him praise and promised I would keep in touch. We both know it doesn’t work that way.

I know it was wrong but I couldn’t do it face 2 face. I didn’t want see the pain in his eyes. The hurt in his face. The shock of getting such news out of the blue. I didn’t want to run the risk of being persuaded to give him 1 more chance. As we all know, sometimes 1 more just doesn’t add up.

If train A leaves the station at 3pm and a car is going 60 miles an hour, no one can get an equal number of strawberries. 

I will miss his brightly colored manipulatives.

If I broke your heart,  I’m sorry, math tutor. I’m so very sorry.

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