Monday, March 13, 2017

One year......

So today marks one year since my last day working for a church.

One year ago, I left the church and honestly..... have barely set foot in a church since. I went to my mom's church (the church in which I grew up) a few times (Palm Sunday, Easter, once in the summer and Christmas Eve) but other than that this girl has been a non-church-goer.

To be honest, what I went through a year ago has kind of left me bitter and scarred when it comes to the church. It left me with a really bad taste in my mouth. As time passed, people who told me would keep in touch didn't and I even got to hear first hand some people saying some really ugly things about me... As if the transition wasn't hard enough. It wasn't all bad though. I have a handful of people who have remained faithful and supportive friends throughout the last year.

Oh yea... and in the last year I moved to California. :) In July, I packed up all my stuff in a Penske truck that Dan got to drive from Colorado to California (And he loved it so much) and I drove my Camry. So while my heart has been trying to deal with what happened, I got a nice change of scenery.

Seriously... a change in scenery. I live in wine country

There have been many times when I have thought how nice it would be to find a church out here, when I think of doing it my stomach starts churning in knots. It's tough because it's how I was raised- I went to church every Sunday and a part of me feels like I should and that if I don't, my grandpa (among other family members) are going to be disappointed in me. But then there's also the part of me that doesn't want to face it. I don't want to meet those people who will be nice to my face but then talk about me when they think I can't hear. I would rather spend my Sundays with Dan (or the reality: babysitting, grocery shopping and food prepping).

I recently decided with Lent approaching, I should probably start trying to find a place. So I did what every millennial does.... and I went to a couple local groups on Facebook and asked for recommendations. From there I did a little online research and found a Methodist Church in the next town over (about a 15 minute drive) and I went to their Ash Wednesday service. The church was tiny. To give you an idea.... they had a combined service with the Korean church they share the building with and there were about 40 people there.... and 10 were in the choir. I stuck out like a sore thumb.... But people were nice. They smiled at me, and greeted me during the greeting time, the pastor gave me a welcome packet. They acknowledged me but they didn't all surround me like crows surround a carcass. It felt like they saw me as a person, not as a possible member (Read: Money). And that was really nice. I haven't been back yet. Last Sunday we had to make an impromptu trip to Ikea and this weekend Dan's mom was in town. (I figured it probably wouldn't be the best ideas to approach the two Jews and say "hey! Wanna go to church??") I want to go to a service on Easter morning. I believe that church is having a sunrise service on the beach. So that sounds absolutely dreadful. We might go to that one, but I am still exploring what is out there.

It's weird that it has been a year. So much has changed in the last year. But you know, as my mom said when we first started going through all this, it really has been for the better. Even with all the heartache of losing friends and being told that your best isn't good enough, it shows you who is there for you 100%. And though I may not have as much money, I have more time to enjoy life. And isn't that the whole point of life?

These are the faces of two people happy to not be doing long distance anymore!

Will I ever be the girl I used to be who would go to church every Sunday? I'm not sure. I would like to find a place that I can call "home" so I can go when I want to, potentially not every weekend. We will see if I ever find it. If not, it's not really a big deal I suppose. There are other ways to meet that spiritual need.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Forced Change Can Be Hard.... But It Can Also Be Good

Well apparently I haven't blogged in about 6 months. And a whole lot has happened in those 6 months. 6 months ago my life looked like this: Working part time teaching preschool. Evenings and Weekends doing work for my job at the church as the Director of Education and Youth. 50-60 hour work weeks, most of them without a day off. Dealing with a long distance relationship. Battling depression. Trying really hard to keep my head above water as best I could.

Let's just say my life doesn't exactly look like that these days.

Back in February, I was walking down the hall of the church when my "boss" came up to me and said "Your life group is going to meet at this time... and next Saturday I am going to take you out for dinner!"

The exchange was so quick that I didn't really have time to respond or think about things. A part of me had a feeling that something was awry, but I told myself to calm down and not stress for a week.... We would cross that bridge when we got to it....

So I forgot about it. And told no one about any concerns I had.

2 days later I had a meeting at the church. and right as I was on my way out the door, the chair of the HR committee told me that Sunday afternoon the committee wanted to meet with me. And I was pretty sure I saw the writing on the wall. Still not one to jump to conclusions, I tried to hide it... and again, not really tell anyone.

Friday  night I had a lock in at the church with the youth group. It was a really weird experience. I had planned things that didn't really happen which was out of my control (like most things had become) and in anticipation of Saturday's dinner, I really started to re-evaluate how I was doing things. Maybe I wasn't the best youth leader I could be... Maybe I needed to try harder.... Maybe I needed to do more spiritual things with the kids....

After the lock in I had a meeting and then I went to my parents house and started to panic. I didn't want to deal with things so I just slept until it was time to go to dinner. I cried getting ready and started filling my mom in on my fears and what was going on. I was very nervous going in... And with good reason. The dinner was just as I had suspected. I was losing my job. My position was being eliminated.

The church had been growing and they were now in a place financially that they could afford to hire an associate pastor who would take on many things including the things I was doing. So in that respect, yes it was politics. And it had nothing to do with me or my job performance. Still it's not easy to hear that a job you have poured your heart and soul into for the last 3 years is being taken away from you.

I went home and crawled in bed with my mom (because even at 31, sometimes you still just need your mom) and cried and cried.... And cried some more. She kept trying to tell me that it was going to be for the better... But I couldn't see it.

The hardest part was getting up the next day and going to work and pretending like everything was fine. Technically I didn't know yet.... I managed to get through everything, but in my in between times, I cried in my office. And then it was time for my meeting....

And it was hard. It's hard to sit and hear that 2 days in a row. But this time, it wasn't just politics. I was told there were a lot of complaints about my job performance and I was asked if I wanted to hear them. I said yes... Because I wanted to know what I had done wrong. And the saddest thing was that this was the very first time I had ever heard any of the complaints, some of them even a year old. It's hard to fix problems that you don't even know are there. And so while yes, a lot of this change has been because of politics, it's hard not to take some of it personally when you are told all of the things you have done wrong.

But it's funny because I didn't cry then. It wasn't until AFTER that when someone said to me "but not all bad things were said about you. You have done some really great things here too" that I started to cry. We discussed what and how I would tell the youth, when my last day would be and more details. And then we went on our merry way.

Basically they gave me a two weeks notice. Except my "last day" was scheduled for a day that I was going to be out of town. I had already planned a trip that weekend to go see Dan. Funny how things work huh? Luckily it was the perfect little getaway for me to just get the heck out of dodge for a while. However.... about 2 days before I left I got super sick. I think it was the flu. The night before I flew out I was up with a fever of 102. I still went to work and after an hour I tried to see if I could leave early but we had no one to cover me, so I had to work through it all. I told myself if I could just get to the airport I would be fine.

Luckily, Dan had to work both Thursday and Friday (I flew in on a Wednesday night) so that gave me lots of time to sleep and get better. We had a great trip of just hanging out with each other... Though the time is never enough. I really didn't want to come back and face everything that was heading my way....

When I got back, my boss at the preschool asked me to come in and chat. Turns out, I wasn't exactly good at keeping my secret (I hadn't told anyone at that job about everything that was going on with my church job). And people were starting to notice that I was unhappy but the only thing they could come up with was that being in a long distance relationship sucks (which it does--- but there was much more going on in my life).  We had a long chat (mostly me in tears...) and I mentioned I had kind of noticed that perhaps my meds needed to be reassessed because I felt like I was being numbed out... yet again. I promised her and myself that I would try to be a better teacher and I would make an appointment with my doctor to figure out my meds.

My next task.... Get through my last day at the church. Something I was most definitely not looking forward to. I managed to make it through the day pretty well. It was such a busy day I guess I didn't really have time to be sad.
Last day with my amazing youth
Some of my favorites
Once it was over it was time to start something new.... But what was that? I was really nervous with what I was going to do next... The last 3 years have been spent being a workaholic. I work during the day, come home and do work. On the weekends I work... I don't know how to have time off....




The first two weeks I went home as they happened to be Palm Sunday and Easter so I got to go back to the church I grew up in and see people I hadn't been able to see in the last 3 years. So that was nice... But it was also hard having to explain to people why they were seeing me again after my 3 year hiatus. 

To be honest, I felt like I failed. Failed the children. Failed the youth. Failed those who believed in me. Failed myself. Failed my family. Failed my grandpa. Would he be disappointed in me if he were still alive? That's been a really hard one. 

So I went back to the doctor and we decided it was time to go off the stupid zoloft. It was just numbing me to everything and it was time to feel again. Even Dan said he missed "emotional Jessica". (hahaha) I would stay on Welbutrin (it's a mood booster) but see how going off Zoloft works. 

It's worked great! Within a week of going off of it people started noticing a difference in me. 

Hanging out with friend Nick 
So how have I done with all my free time? Pretty good.... I actually have time now to see friends so I have been working on getting together with some people.

I've also had time to go grocery shopping and do food prep again. I've been able to go to the gym a few times (not quite what I want to). I'm focusing more on my health right now and have lost about 5 pounds. I have also been working on getting my house in order. For years I have wanted to start decluttering and just haven't had time. Well I have time now and have been working super hard on it! 
Look at that beautiful closet! 
Oh yea...and sleep! I've been catching up on sleep!!!!

Truth be told, not long before all this happened I was journaling about how I was getting slightly burned out on church. I longed for a day when I could sleep in on a Sunday or not spend it at church from 8-5. I could go if I wanted to. Or not go if I didn't want to. And if I did go, go and then leave. Go do normal people things. Did I love my job? Absolutely. But doing that schedule will definitely take it's toll on you.... Especially when it is not your only job. 

Not long after all of this happened I had a coworker quit rather unexpectedly. So my part time (11-5) position went to a full time (9-6) until we find a replacement.... which we haven't yet. 

So it's not like I have a TON of free time but at least I do on nights and weekends. Since moving my schedule, I haven't been able to do my morning walks with Laura and Bodee so that is a big bummer but I'm hoping we can return to that soon now that it is Spring... And maybe the weather will cooperate. 

Oh and just to make things interesting.... I currently have strep. Awesome. It is painful and miserable and exhausting.


That seems to be all of the big changes in my life the last few months. Remember at the beginning when my mom said it would be for the better? Well it has turned out pretty good. I am really enjoying having weekends to myself again. Do I miss the kids, youth, and other people I worked with at the church? Of course I do.... But the good thing is that those people have my phone number and know how to get a hold of me. Do I wish I had done things differently? Yes.... I wish I had the time to dedicate to that job. But it wasn't enough of an income to devote all my time to and I suppose because of that the job suffered. Plus I lived over an hour away, so it's not like I could be there in a flash. I guess I did the best I could with the circumstances. I hear they have officially replaced me. I hope she grows to love the people as much as I did and she treats them as well as they deserve to be treated. I just hope she does a better job than I was able to. In the mean time I am working on taking care of me and the important things in my life. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grief Resurfacing

I have been slacking on blogging. Probably because most nights I work until about midnight and don't even have time to journal.... But today I feel the need to write.

The last couple months have been interesting to say the least.

If you read my last post, you remember that I had just started seeing a personal trainer. To say the least, I was not her biggest fan. I am finished training with her and despite her trying really hard, I am "on my own". I still really struggle with getting to the gym though. I really need to work on that. However I did lose a pound in the last week so that's progress....

Back in September, Dan and I met up in Las Vegas (NO WE DID NOT GET MARRIED) to go to a wedding of a friend of mine. We had a wonderful time there and it was great to have some time for just the two of us.


I had been on a GREAT streak of my fitness... I'd worked out 6 days in a row (which hasn't happened in over a year).... And then I came down with the stomach flu.... I lost 3 pounds in a day (hooray?) but have since gained it back. So I had to take a break from working out.... I got better.... and then had a cold.... And it's been hard to get back into ever since.

I have a dear friend named Sunshine who I have known since 1st grade. We went through all our schooling together (except college). Her husband Matt has been battling Melanoma for years. He was battling with it when my dad was going through the worst of his Leukemia and I would get messages from Sunshine telling me that she and Matt had been praying for my dad and worried about him. And it just floored me that someone going through something so terrible could be concerned about someone else. But that's just who they were. Very caring people.

Matt's health had really taken a turn for the worse and our last night in Vegas, Sunshine posted an update on Facebook that "this was it". Matt only had a few hours left. We were at a casino and it just really threw me. It made me think about losing Dan and what Sunshine must be going through and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I was able to keep myself from crying as I did not want to ruin our last night together. I woke up the next morning to find out that Matt had passed away.

I was able to go to the funeral which was good. I saw a couple old friends and was able to hug Sunshine and give her my condolences. And after that, I really thought life might get back to normal.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that I was super emotional. Crying ALL the time... Exhausted all the time. At first I chalked it up to the usual girl stuff mixed with the fact that I was working a 65 hour week... But after those it continued on.

In the middle of my 65 hour work week, I spent the night at my parents since I had to work at the church all weekend. Saturday morning I got up (exhausted), had a little chat with my mom about things that had been going on at work, and then got in the car to go to church for a rehearsal. And the second I got in the car... I just started crying. Not sure why... but I just cried and cried.

The weekend after that I went to the wedding of my brother's childhood best friend, Jeffrey. Our families haven't seen each other in 20 years. So my social anxiety was a little high prior to the wedding but it was really good to see everyone (though I didn't recognize him or his brother because... well 20 years). When we got back home, I pulled out the old photo album and found a picture of the 3 of us.
Jeffrey, Me, David. Man we were cute.
I took one look at this picture and burst into tears. Again, not entirely sure why.

A few days after that... I had a couple of really vivid dreams. I was driving, and I looked up and had like a computer screen and in a Skype-like fashion I saw my Grandpa. And I wasn't just a picture... Like he was alive and I screamed "GRANDPA!!!" and threw my arms around him. (It was a dream, clearly I don't hug computer screens in the real world). In the same night, I had a dream that I was somewhere (not sure where) with Sunshine and she got up and started talking about Matt and what she was going through.

I woke up puzzled about what it might mean. And then when I was at work I suddenly had a flashback to a phrase Cassandra used to say daily. It's something I haven't thought of in a long time and it just kind of popped in my mind. So that made me wonder more... Why was this happening??? What did it mean?

Well the next night, I had ANOTHER dream about seeing my grandpa. Except this time, it was the frail grandpa that I saw at the end of his life. And it wasn't until THIS dream that I realized he was "healthy grandpa" in the previous dream. Still puzzled by it all... it was something I brought up when I went to counseling the next week.

So we talked about my dreams and flashbacks, the excessive crying and fatigue.... And she said that it all started around the time Matt passed away... which I hadn't even thought of. So it seems that his death is bringing up some residual grief that I haven't dealt with concerning Grandpa and Cassandra. My body is trying to process everything still and while it sucks, I am just going to have to go through it all. Honor the tiredness and the emotions. Talk it out when they come up. Journal.

On top of all that and being overwhelmed with work/life, I have really been struggling with this whole long distance relationship thing. From the very beginning I have said that we are really good at it. And I still believe that. But after spending 7 weeks together and knowing what that is like, being apart is REALLY HARD.

Not to mention, we are currently in the LONGEST stretch of time we have spent apart in the 8 1/2 months we have been together. The longest time apart prior to this is 46 days. How long is this stretch??? 92 DAYS. UGH. We have made it 32 days and still have 60 to go.....

And I am struggling big time. I've seen all sorts of cute countdowns on Pinterest like having 2 jars filled with marbles (corresponding to the jar). One that says "Days Down" and one that says "Days to Go"... The other night when I was having a rough time, I started looking up things to do... and while I found a ton... None of them seemed good enough.

He and I had a long talk about it the other night (because he is struggling too). I think another part of it is that my roommate moved out here from California to be close to his girlfriend who lives here. And when he moved in I thought it would be a great situation... Until she is always over here (which is fine... it's his place as much as it is mine) but I guess it just makes me miss Dan more, seeing them together and hearing them laugh. So I decided that I need to find something to do to distract me and keep me busy for the next 60 days. I am not sure what yet... I may increase my workouts... Or actually clean my room! So if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave those in the comments!

Today.....

Today is Cassandra's birthday. And I knew it was coming up and I knew it would likely be hard. So many things have changed since she passed away and so many things I wish I could tell her and talk to her about. Today a few different memories popped up in my mind. And as I sit here and write this I can recall the very last conversation we ever had....

We were passing in the hallway at work. She wasn't working full time anymore because she had just had Harper. I stopped her in the hall and said "I really miss working with you." We talked about it for a little bit and went on our merry way. I'm not sure what had prompted me to say that, but I am so thankful we had that moment.

I think about her every day and miss her.

It's true.... I guess I keep thinking that after a year of firsts, things will get easier. But I still miss her. Some days I still can't believe the reality of it. I guess I just need to be thankful for the time we did get to spend together, remember the good times, and look forward to the times to come when we are reunited.

Hug your loved ones. Make sure they know you love them. You never know when it could be too late.


Monday, August 24, 2015

One Year Later

There have been a few "One Year" anniversaries since I have blogged. There was the one year anniversary of Grandpa's death back in June. I started writing a blog entry about that, but never finished it... But most recently was the one year since being diagnosed with depression.

With it being a year down this road, it has made me evaluate where I was and where I am now. I have made A LOT of progress, but I still don't feel like I am where I need to be. I am still on meds and still have days when I struggle. Still, for the most part I can function.

Dan was here for 7 weeks this summer and it was wonderful. On the flip side, though... When he had to go back to California I was a complete wreck. Initially I told myself that when he left I was going to get a ton of stuff done (like housework and errands), but when he left all I could do was lay in bed and cry. (I was able to go to work, but cried there too). I should have been productive that Saturday but all I did was stay in bed. That first weekend he was gone all I did was sleep (15 hours Fri night, stayed in bed from 1pm-6pm, slept 6-8, then back to sleep for 8 hours, worked, took a 3 hour nap at my parents). It got to the point where I was feeling a lot like I did last summer when I was diagnosed and it really started to bother me. As time went on and we re-established our routine things got better. I'm trying to get back into being active and social.

Before he left I got us both Fitbooks and we made a deal to use our time apart to really work on health and fitness. A few weeks back, I went to the gym to kick things off, but wanted to get my measurements done so I could track my progress through the next 12 weeks.

Oh 24 Hour Fitness.... You always know a sucker when you see one. The guy who was doing my measurements turned out to be the Fitness manager. He and I started discussing my goals, the road I have been on and he got all excited and said we had a lot of things in common and he wanted to give me a FREE personal training session.

Now, this is not my first rodeo. I know how these things work. When I first joined the gym they had this GREAT offer where you get 3 personal training sessions for $99. If you want to continue with it, they take that price off the package you purchase. If you don't like it, you get your money back. So I got it... and that's how I started working with Megan... who I trained with for 8 months and became little miss fitness... Remember her???

So we scheduled my training session. I was super excited. But as the time came, I got more and more nervous. The session was this past Saturday and let me tell you... I had every right to be nervous.

HE. KICKED. MY. BUTT.

This is what we did:
First he taught me how to do kettlebell swings.
Then we did:
8 Kettlebell Squats
10 Pull Ups on the TRX (I'm not sure what thats actually called)
15 Kettlebell Swings
3 sets of that
Then we did
Sled (drag it down to the water fountain walking backwards, then on the way back pulling it behind me)
BattleRopes for 30 seconds
Plank for 1 minute
3 Sets of that

I haven't sweat that much in a long time. That's more work than I've done definitely in the last year... Maybe longer. It was TOUGH and afterwards I kinda felt like puking.

He walked me over to the computer to show me the personal training packages available. And I knew he would do this going into it. And the thing is that it's just SO EXPENSIVE. And yea, the more you pick the cheaper they are per session... but it's still so much money. So I ended up picking the smallest package they had (5 sessions) and he threw in another free one too. He set me up with a trainer named Sara.

Tonight was my first "session" with her. It was more of a consultation where we talked about my history, my goals, did measurements and set up a plan for me. It was good for me. I really want to get back to where I was pre-depression. I think after a year I am finally ready to do it.

The rest of my week looks like this:
Tuesday: Steady State Cardio 30 minutes at home (perhaps going for a walk or something like that)
Wednesday: Resistance Workout, Cardio Optional (since Hip Hop isn't happening again this week)
Thursday: Steady State Cardio 30 minutes at home
Friday: Training Session
Saturday: Steady State Cardio 30 minutes at home


This week we are mostly easing into it. Just setting up those habits...

She also gave me a whole list of homework.

*Be more active Tuesday and Thursday
*Wednesday get in the gym and HAVE FUN!!!!
*Practice new food routine, hit calorie goals, let macros fall where they may
*Track food at minimum 3 days
*Every day do a "I'm thankful for my body" thought. (Can be something as simple as "I'm thankful I can get out of bed" or something like "I'm thankful I can run")
*Journal (track workouts, write thoughts on what you did, thoughts on life)

I am DETERMINED to get back to where I was. After Saturday I know I have a really long road ahead of me. I was very frustrated that I let myself get to this point... But I suppose we all have hills we have to climb. I guess I am just going to have to climb this one again. But I guess if I have done it once before, I can do it again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stuck and Apathetic

It's been quite a while since I have blogged.

A little over a month ago I made an appointment with my doctor to re-evaluate my meds. I had felt like things weren't getting better and I'd hit some situational things and we decided perhaps I needed to increase my meds. So we did. Increased the Zoloft to 75 mg a day and also decided to revisit in about a month and if things were not better to add in Welbutrin. Zoloft is a stabilizer and Welbutrin is more of an "upper".

My life lately has been slightly out of control. In the words of my mother, I just can't seem to catch a break. :( My stress level has been through the roof and it seems like everything just keeps going wrong and I'm getting overwhelmed and frustrated with life in general.

But things aren't all that bad. I took a short (4 day) vacation to California which was WONDERFUL. It seems, though, that as wonderful as that trip was ever since I got back I'm just as (if not more) overwhelmed and struggling real bad.

One thing else I have noticed is that I am just full of apathetic feelings. And this was my fear of going on the meds in the first place. And it's funny because I noticed this after going to (yet another) Andy Grammer concert.

We had VIP tickets with meet and greet and we were late leaving Fort Collins and there was a chance that we would miss the VIP aspect. My reaction? It's not a big deal. The concert was good, but I guess I wasn't as excited as I have been in the past. Part of it could be due to the fact that it was my 11th one so I wondered if the excitement was just wearing off.


The day after the concert it was announced that he was going to Headline The Taste Of Fort Collins this summer. TOFC is my FAVORITE weekend of the summer. 3 days of music and food in my amazing little town. Could it get any better? (The answer is no). After it was announced, I had multiple people ask me if I was freaking out. And I wasn't. I heard the news and my thought was "oh. cool." the end. Again... Not sure if it was because of how many times I have seen him or because my favorite DJ's aren't there anymore and I'm not quite over that one yet.... Or if it's the meds.

These 2 events brought it to the forefront of my mind. Maybe something is up. And I started to notice that these aren't the only times I've felt apathetic. It's about a whole lot of things. I mentioned it to my counselor and she said I should probably mention it to my doctor. So tomorrow morning I will be doing just that.

It's frustrating because I feel stuck. I feel like I've been at this for so long (It's been 8 months since I was diagnosed) and I just fear I will never get back to happy Jessica and what happens if I'm never happy again????

The last few weeks have been SUPER hard on me. My stress level has gone through the roof. On the Saturday before Easter I came down with a HORRIBLE stomachache and couldn't really eat anything. I figured it was a fluke, but it was still there on Easter Sunday too. There was a thought that it may be an ulcer (caused by stress). I am definitely in need of a break from life but I do not see that happening anytime soon. :(

I'd had a really hard night last night and spent the latter part of my evening in bed crying. I woke up exhausted and not in the best mood. I had a hard time getting out of bed and then was running late and had to put gas in my car, etc... When I finally got to work I heated up my lunch and right as I was walking in the classroom my lunch spilled all over the floor... And that was just the beginning of my awful day. Tears were shed at work and I just wanted to go back to bed. I got in the work van to go pick up some kiddos from school and the first song that came on the radio was "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. It was a good reminder that I need to not give up and I need to find the fight that I have left in me.



After a really tough day at work I still managed to go to Hip Hop, despite not really feeling it... Not sure if it really helped, but it didn't hurt I suppose. Hoping for some answers tomorrow and maybe my life to get back on track soon.

To better days
~Jessica~

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grandpa's First Birthday In Heaven

Tonight was week 5 of GriefShare. Yes, I'm still going. There was some question about how helpful it was since a part of me felt like I was more of a helper/leader than I was a "participant". But I am getting some healing out of it, so I continue on.

Last Tuesday was Grandpa's birthday. The morning was a little rough and I listened to my "Grandpa" playlist on my way to work. One thing I noticed was that I can now listen to "How Great Thou Art" without breaking into tears. That has to be progress, right?

Work itself went okay. Kelly brought me flowers and a sweet card so that helped.

After work I had a staff meeting and the way it all worked out was really unfortunate. It was on a Tuesday which is when I have GriefShare, which I thought would be really good for me with it being Grandpa's birthday, but the meeting with mandatory. GriefShare is in Loveland at 7, and my meeting was in Greeley at 6:15. We got out a little after 7, so I booked it to GriefShare and made it there around 7:40, just in time to see the video and participate in the discussion afterwards. 

One thing in the video that stood out to me was that they talked about when you anticipate a death, a lot of the time you start the grief process while the person is still alive. This creates a "shorter" grieving period (to outsiders anyway), but I definitely feel like this does not hold true to me. Sure, his death was anticipated and I knew going into my trip that it was a possibility but I think I was still very much in denial about the reality of the situation. And I prayed so freaking hard for him to make it til I got home...

Which leads me to my other point. The movie talked about life events and how they can play a role in everything. For example, I was on my trip and didn't get the chance to grieve and how that can lead to regret. Specifically... "If only he'd lived 2 more weeks". This is something I've discussed at great length with my counselor. We've discussed that no matter what it's never enough time. :( 

At the end of the meeting, I was getting up to leave and one of the leaders approached me and asked me how I was. I said I was doing okay and then mentioned that it was Grandpa's birthday. He said that he had felt a tug on his heart to reach out to me, so maybe that was Grandpa. It was a sweet little moment. 

After GriefShare, I picked up some ice cream and headed home. As many of you know, I've been dating a WONDERFUL man for the last month. He has been so supportive in all of this and I cannot say enough great things about him. When I told him that Grandpa's birthday was coming up he told me he thought I should celebrate him on that day. The morning of Grandpa's birthday I posted a timehop on Facebook. It was from one year ago. The original caption was "Happy Birthday Grandpa! I'm so lucky to be in the same family as this guy! I had ice cream in your honor tonight. XOXO <3 div="">

Not long after I posted that, Mr Wonderful asked me what Grandpa's favorite ice cream was and mentioned that we should have an ice cream date to celebrate. Best boyfriend ever? Yea I think so.... 

He wasn't going to be home until late, so when I got home I got out my memory book that has been neglected for months and I put together 3 pages. No tears were shed and it felt nice to have that time to put it together and look through the pictures. 

Walking hand in hand with Grandpa, Grandpa being silly and him helping David with a crossword puzzle while wearing a shirt that says "Jessica's Grandfather"

We then had our ice cream date and it was just the perfect way to remember Grandpa. Happy Birthday Grandpa. I miss you.



Grandpa reading to David and me. Also a picture of Grandma and Grandpa and all the grandkids.






Spending time with Grandpa.









This weekend was especially rough. Things have been going fairly well lately and I think a big part of that is due to the fact that I have been just go-go-go for so long. I had zero plans on Saturday, plus it was snowy so I stayed in bed all day. I told myself to get a bunch of work done but I just had NO energy. So I laid in bed, watched Gilmore Girls and took a nap from 2-5. I typically don't like to nap that late because then I won't sleep but I was just wiped out. 

I tried to go to bed pretty early since I had to get up early the next morning to get to work.... And it was supposed to snow all night so I would have a gross commute in the morning. I woke up at 6 and was getting ready for work when I got a phone call to just stay home. And while I could have (and should have) spent the day being productive, getting cleaning done, etc I spent yet another day in bed. And took another nap from 3-5. And it's funny because I was told to stay home and still felt guilty and like I was slacking. (Workaholic? Yea, I think so) I so badly wanted to have some energy but I just didn't have any. And that has been the most frustrating part of going through my grief. During my 2 day relax-a-thon I also ate WAY MORE than I should have and a lot of comfort foods. Which led me to feeling not so great about myself and I gained a little weight and I told myself I had to get back to the gym. Our goal is twice a week and so I told myself I would go Monday and Wednesday. 

Well Monday rolled around and I was tired and had kind of a bad day at work and honestly, I wanted to do pretty much anything other than go to the gym. But I forced myself to. I walked a mile on the treadmill and did some strength training (calves, chest, some planks (yay!), triceps, wall sits and rainbow planks). It felt good to get back but when I was looking in the mirror I definitely did not like what I saw. And I think I was a little over ambitious when it came to the weights because there's a slight chance I may have injured myself. Stay tuned on that one. 

But I had kind of a revelation while I was there. For the past 8 months I've been waiting and waiting for my motivation to just appear. And guess what? It hasn't. (Big shock there) And with that I am slipping into my old habits and going back to my excuse making ways and so I realized that to get that motivation back, I have GOT to put some effort in. It's not just going to make an appearance all on it's own. I'm going to have to force myself to get to the gym and with time, I'm sure it will come back. It will probably take some time though. So that's going to be a challenge... 

This morning I was walking to my kitchen to make some breakfast and I noticed some mail sitting on the dining room table. I picked it up and inside it was this card. 





It was so unexpected and so touching. As I read it I cried. It really meant a lot to me that she would take the time to write it and tell me that Grandpa would be sad at me being sad, that he is with me always, and that he wants me to be happy. And being happy does not mean I am forgetting him. I think the most helpful thing about this is it came from someone who knew and loved him and was able to see my relationship with him. Very comforting. 








Tonight at GriefShare, at the very beginning she had us draw a picture of what we think our heart looks like right now. This is what I drew: 
My heart is broken and crying. I also drew silhouettes of both Grandpa and Cassandra because that Jewel song popped into my mind as I was drawing. "There's a hole in my heart in the shape of you"

The focus of tonight's GriefShare was Grief and Your Relationships. We talked about how some relationships can change when you go through Grief. Here are some notes I took during the video
  • Isolating Adds to loneliness
  • It's easier to sit on the couch than to go out. 
  • Sometimes I push people away so if something bad happens again, it won't hurt. 
  • "I will never be back to my old self. I'll be a new person, but I'll never be back to who I used to be."
At this point all I can do is keep trucking along and do my best to practice some self-care when I can. And keep going to the gym. And remembering that being happy does not mean forgetting Grandpa. 

To better days
~Jessica 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

GriefShare Week 2

Tonight was my second week of GriefShare which I'll be honest, I was less than thrilled about. I did my 5 daily exercises this week and it seemed like so much of it would have been helpful to do back in August when I was first diagnosed with depression and starting to go through things.

For the most part the last week was actually really good. Things seem to be falling back into place and going really well. In fact, they are going SO well I almost didn't call my doctor to increase my meds... But the last time I thought things were going great they came crashing down again, thus the need to increase the meds. So I did it anyway. I suppose it's better to stabilize my emotions, rather than deal with the roller coaster that has been my life.

Saturday I had to be at the church to make chili with the youth and it really put a lot of things into perspective for me. Last year I didn't make it there in time for chili making. Casey handled everything for me because I was still such a mess from Cassandra's death. I stayed in bed most of the morning and finally put make up on and curled my hair for the first time since she died. A year later I am functioning much better. I still have my days, but it was interesting to see how far I've come in a year.

Anyway, back to GriefShare...

I actually talked tonight. I feel like I can give people some advice on how to get through things, so I guess that's helpful.

Here are some things that came up for me while we watched the video:

  • I'm there physically, but I'm not there.
    • This was SO ME!!!! Sometimes I still feel like this. I get so wrapped up in what is going on, but I was mostly like this in Seattle. I know I've mentioned this before. I still just have a hard time accepting that's how I was on my first trip as youth director. 
  • I'm afraid. I shut myself off from people so as not to feel pain if you lose them too. 
    • I have definitely felt this. In fact, after the year I had in 2014, I definitely thought to myself that I was glad I wasn't in a relationship and possibly never wanted to be in one because I wouldn't want to have to go through that loss or have someone else go through the loss if I died first. 
  • I didn't want to deal with life so all I did was sleep
    • I feel like this has lightened up a bit in my life, but for a long time this was definitely me. Constantly tired ALL THE TIME. 
  • Looking for NEW pictures of Grandpa. Wanting to tell him about the good/bad things that happen in life.
    • I would love to see new pictures of Grandpa and me. Still working on my memory book (Well I haven't worked on it in months actually) makes me wish I had more recent pictures. There is a period of time where there are none and that makes me sad. I guess I regret that I didn't spend more time with him. The thing that makes me the saddest is that he can't see me working at the church and I know that would make him SO PROUD. It also makes me sad that he won't be able to officiate my wedding (if that ever does happen) and achieve great things. I am happy that he was able to see me graduate college, but if I ever go to grad school (something that keeps getting put off) it makes me sad that he won't be able to be there to see me do that. There are a lot of things that he's going to miss out on. And that makes me sad. 
  • To cope remember DEER (Drink, Eat, Exercise, Rest)
    • Okay so in the movie they talked about exercise but said this doesn't mean going to the gym. It means something as little as just going for a walk. Start with small steps and build up from there. This is something I've been trying to focus on. This last week was actually really good for me in the gym department. I went to Hip Hop on Wednseday and took it pretty easy.... And even got called up to the front to help lead "Treasure". I was pretty shy and not super happy but it was a good experience. I was feeling pretty alone and that helped. Thursday I went to the gym again with the goal of walking on the treadmill for 1 mile. At the end of 1 mile I wasn't really ready to stop so I kept going and made it to 2 miles! Part of it was I was definitely fueled by a few songs that played on my Ipod during my walk. Sometimes when I play my Ipod I pray for songs to be played that I need to hear. I think maybe that happened. The songs that helped me were: My Angel by Kellie Pickler, Materpiece by Andy Grammer, and Shut It Down by Pitbull. 
  • My Faith Isn't Working
    • Before the video we had a conversation about our prayers not being answered and it wasn't until this portion in the video that I was brought back to Seattle. I went into the trip knowing that Grandpa dying was a possibility but I prayed and prayed that it wouldn't happen. Every tunnel we went through, when I held my breath I wished and wished that he would live until I got back from the trip. And as we all know, that didn't happen. And I guess it took tonight to make me realize I still harbor some anger at that. I'm angry that I wasn't able to be fully present on the trip. I'm angry that I didn't come home to be with my family. I am just angry at the ONE THING I prayed for for so long didn't happen. I don't know how I am going to get through this anger because what's done is done and there really is no changing it. 
One thing that also came up for me tonight is my impending happiness. Yes, things have gotten better but a part of me is still afraid to be happy. Being happy means I'm not sad. And if I'm not sad does that mean I've forgotten him? I know he wants me to be happy, but I just don't want to forget him.

To Better Days
~Jessica