Present & Future

Tomorrow marks the 19 week mark for me and baby H. We’re 8 days away from the halfway mark and that seems a little surreal to me, considering the fact that it feels like I just found out I was pregnant yesterday.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think of interesting and fun ways to document this amazing process. I’ve been trying even harder to thoroughly enjoy every bit in the present at the same time. I want to be able to look back and reminisce when this all seems so far away, but I want to soak up all the enjoyment that exists in every day leading up to baby’s arrival. (Even the weird things like finding a beanie baby with our due date in the tag: July 4th!!)

Spending time together making meals and imagining the nursery over dinner has been one of the most effective ways we’ve been able to enjoy the present. We have color schemes picked out, we’ve pinned unique crafts to create and use as nursery decor, and we’ve even been to thrift stores to pick out and purchase furniture. Taking it one step further, we’ve reimagined the furniture we bought and have started priming and painting different pieces to fit the nursery theme we’ve chosen. I can’t even say how many hours I’ve spent on pinterest looking for useful ideas, or how much money I’ve spent on materials from hobby lobby. It doesn’t matter because we’re really enjoying all this, and when our nursery is finished I know it will be perfect and exactly what we’ve imagined.

Currently we’re working on our changing table, which started out as a vanity from Lowe’s that was returned because the top was broken. We bought it for $30 and then purchased wood to make the top, primer and paint to finish the cabinet and new knobs to fit our theme. I’m going to use stencils to paint on the doors and when we’re all finished we will have a changing table that fits not only our needs but our personal taste as well. Even better than that, we have had a blast reimagining this piece and creating it in that vision for our nursery.




The nursery is not the only thing we’ve been actively working on and looking forward to. We’ve also been wildly anticipating the gender reveal which is taking place on Sunday February 19 (less than three weeks from now)!

I’m so absolutely excited to see the cake my mom is making for us, and more importantly to finally announce to everyone the gender color that will be revealed inside. Our weekends leading up to the 19th will consist of an anatomy scan on the 15th, crafting decor for the party, buying food and baking deserts for the guests, a maternity shoot, and of course shopping for an outfit to show off this baby bump.

Between all that I’m also finding time to move out of my apartment and into beautiful Bear Creek, the bulk of which will be finished tomorrow. Things are finally coming together.

Experiencing pregnancy and enjoying the present has been the sweetest privilege. I want to continue sharing our little journey, in a way that I can look back and remember the tiny details as much as the most important events. I’ve decided one way to do that is on a blog specific to our growing family; a blog all about baby H and this journey. Starting tomorrow any updates on me and baby can be viewed on that website, which is called ‘Story of Three’ and can be found at the following web address: thenwebecamethree.wordpress.com.

I can’t wait to share more…everything from ideas and opinions about pregnancy, to my personal experience/journey to first kicks to our gender reveal to maternity photos to nursery crafts/decor to DIY tutorials to baby shower ideas and even plans for the future. Check in tomorrow evening to Story of Three for my first post on the brand new blog.

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Mom.

Ever since I became pregnant this thought keeps popping into my head, “Psssst. You’re going to be a mom.”

When it enters my mind I repeat it several times in my head and it echoes throughout my entire being before leaving me to whatever mundane task was at hand before it’s interruption.

I’ve had quite a while, a little over three months since finding out, to think about what it means to me- what being a mom is. The place I have to start when I try to figure it out is with my own mom, a woman whom I love very much, and whom I owe my life to.

One year ago my mom and I had a conversation over the phone during which we discussed the behavior of others, and how some people are just inherently different. That night she said she was glad that I am unlike any other, that I am me, and she told me she appreciates exactly who I am. She said all this without thinking to credit herself, and that’s the first thing that I think a mom is- a selfless person who gives (credit) before taking (any).

I owe my mom a thank you for raising me to be this person she is glad I turned out to be.

Thank you, mom, for teaching me strength and courage, and what it means to be truly grateful.
Thank you, for reminding me that things will get bad and it will be hard, but always emphasizing the importance of pushing forward and finding strength from someplace to make it through.
Thank you, for helping me appreciate and ask for the help of others, and to know the difference between being helpful and being bossy when someone asks a favor of me.
Thank you, for showing me how to care about someone other than myself, because that’s what you did for me so many times.
Thank you, for letting me be bold, but not over powering. Stern, but not mean. Confident, but not self inflated or conceited.
Thank you, for showing me tough love, because it helped me understand that sometimes I need to be honest even if it isn’t what someone wants to hear. On the other hand, thank you for showing me how to be a sensitive and compassionate being, and helping me realize that sometimes I need only to listen, instead, depending on the situation; thanks for helping me differentiate between the two.
Thank you, for inspiring me to want to help others in their time of need, even if I don’t know exactly how to.
Thank you, for giving me this amazing opportunity, this shot at life, this chance to be a good person.
Thank you for helping me become a well mannered, disciplined, reliable, independent, sincere, thoughtful, open minded (most of the time), forgiving, determined, ambitious, clever, accepting, and dynamic person.
Thank you, for shaping me into someone very much like you.

Everything that I can thank my mom for causing me to be is something that I believe she is, and is something that I believe a mom should be.

I determined all these things one year ago to the date, however, more recently I’ve come to an understanding regarding something else about motherhood.

Whenever someone becomes pregnant people will say, “Awe, hey, you’re going to be a mother!” I’ve seen it hundreds of times in comments on social media posts and I’ve heard it mumbled to women who are pregnant when they tell their coworkers or “friends”, but I think there’s a difference between “you’re going to be a mother” and “you’re going to be a great mom.”

Not every one who has a child can be called a mom. Yes, one who has given birth to a child makes them a biological ‘mother,’ but that’s different than a ‘mom’.

A mother can be the carrier of a child.
A mother can be a care provider.
A mother can be an authority figure.
A mother can share blood and genes with a child.

But moms are usually all of those things and more.
Moms are the people who raise children.
Moms are the people who teach them.
Moms are the people who fight to provide the best life possible.
Moms are the people who love unconditionally.
Moms are the people we feel most connected to.

Many people get very offensive when you take the two words and split them. In the dictionary ‘mom’ is shorthand for ‘mother’ and they’re meant to allude to the same person.

I disagree. To me, ‘mother’ is a more technical term. A surrogate ‘mother’ carries a baby for another couple but she doesn’t raise the child. She is not that child’s ‘mom’. When a woman allows another couple the opportunity to be parents through adoption of the baby she births, she is the baby’s mother, but the adoptive parents will be called ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. To me, ‘mom’ is a more affectionate term. To a child who’s mother died when he or she was a young age, a step parent may become ‘mom’. To a child who is taken into the custody of child protective services, their female biological parent may never be their ‘mom’ but is surely their ‘mother’.

Separating the two terms makes me think about being a mom. Sometimes when that little voice appears in my mind saying, “Pssst. You’re going to be a mom,” I like to imagine what that will look like. Sometimes I’m scared that it will be harder than I can imagine, and I worry that I won’t be a good mom, maybe I’ll only have it in me to be this child’s mother.

But then I think about everything my mom has equipped me with and I read the personal messages that have been sent to me that say, “I’m proud of you,” and “you inspire me” and “you’re a really good egg and I think you’ll be a great mom”; messages that mean so much more than “you’re going to be a mother” and they help remind me of what I already know: If I’m meant to do anything at all, it’s to be this child’s mom.

Being Brave in 2016

Today I am sure of two things: first, it is the last day of the year, and second, countless people stand with me when I say 2016 was not a year for the faint of heart. In many ways this year proved to be an immense hurdle; each week a roadblock and every month an overall disaster clouding the image we’d held for ourselves at the end of 2015. In twelve months we have been challenged and pushed far past our limits, our every forward movement has been resisted, and our already thin hopes have been stretched. The past year has had no problem giving an inch only to snatch it right back. Though 2016 taught us a lesson, it was not before forcing our heads into the dirt, and there was certainly no struggle in making us into tired, little soldiers who’ve entirely lost our sense of self along the way.

If you disagree, I’m very happy for you, but I can see a crowd of folks with their hands up who share experiences in the exact year I’m referring to.

I could write a legitimate novel on all the terrible things that happened in 2016. I could explain why the year will forever be wretched in my mind, and why, I hope never to relive more than a few days of it’s memories in my future. However, I am not going to do that, because this shitfest of a year has not been triumphant over me- not even today, on December 31, after the longest journey. Nope, I am the real winner here.

What I have today, instead of a novel of 2016’s torment, is a post on perspective, forged meaning, and new identity- the result of 2016’s hardships. Let’s take a tour…

Exactly one year ago, I documented the day on Instagram with a photo whose caption read, “Miranda; (meh-ran-de) n. [[L, fem. of mirandus, strange, wonderful < mirari: see MIRACLE]] and by my definition: Book work. Plant enthusiast. Author-to-be. Chai connoisseur. Sailboat admirer. Literature junkie. Mug collector. White wine drinker. Star gazer. Grammar Nazi. Midnight breakfast eater. Independent soul. Closet poet. Politically engaged. Daddy’s girl. Over analyzer. Twizzler addict. Go getter. Part-time painter. Sunshine craver. Lover of neutrally-colored-fabric.”

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That was the person I believed myself to be when 2015 ended and 2016 began. Those things were all true, and are still mostly true at the end of 2016, but there were a lot of adjectives I’d left out in that definition; mostly describing words I hadn’t acknowledged or couldn’t face. The past year had no problem highlighting those things, thus changing the definition I’d made for myself then into something bigger.

January began, a giant swirl of snow and cold, depression, and a burning hope for the new year. I knew I was sad but I didn’t think I was depressed. I was hiding it well from everyone and was even keeping it a secret from myself, or rather denying myself the simple truth that a damaging relationship was causing me to dig terrible wounds into my being- wounds I still have not completely healed.

I was trying to grow, trying to feed the flame of flickering hope for 2016 with new years resolutions like reading 4 books a month, using my bullet journal, eating foods that would make my body feel good, and making better choices with a positive attitude.


On the 17th of January I started a second job to save some money for college, which I’d hoped to begin again in the fall. It was an overnight job at Meijer, and I was beyond excited when I started. I knew it would be hard to work at Home Depot from 12-9pm and then Meijer from 10pm-4am, but I wasn’t worried. It was a bold move, but it felt like a step in the right direction. I decided that this “khakis and a polo” job was for a purpose, to save and build character, and that I didn’t need it otherwise and would by no means be trapped in it. I pledged that when I felt I’d done enough of that, I would quit. I felt happy because it was a decision I made and I felt in control of it, until I simply wasn’t anymore.

Working 58 hours a week and coping with my disaster relationship began to wear me out quickly. I distracted my tired mind in February with romance stories like Me Before You, and projects like making Valentine’s for work friends, and on my 22nd birthday I celebrated becoming an author after being notified one of my poems would be published in the Spring. Submitting that poem for possible publication was one of the bravest things I’d ever done, because I knew I faced rejection- a hard pill to swallow when it’s related to one of the last things you feel passionately about.


But it worked out in my favor, and that momentum carried me through to March, where I, on a whim, traveled to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with my best friend and two boys I’d never met. We drove the entire way down and made memories I will likely never forget. I branched out, I did things I’ve never done, I took risks, I wore no makeup, I put my feet in the ocean, I breathed in fresh air, I went to Disney Land, I found shells on the beach, and I was so brave. I felt alive, and the sunshine and time off was the healthiest thing I got this year, however, when I returned, my fire went out completely.


It was 7:30 am when I finally arrived back in town. It smelled like spring, the snow was almost gone, and when I crested the hill and saw those bright red letters above Meijer, I was home. I’d driven twenty some hours, which felt like a lifetime, but it was nothing compared to the struggles I would face in April. My lease ended with March, and so began the end of my damaging relationship, my sanity, and my sense of self as I knew it. I moved home, briefly, but when I was offered a promotion at Meijer, I took the full time overnight management position beginning April 17th. They promised $35,000 a year on 45 hours a week. I was overjoyed that my hard work paid off, though I left my current position at Home Depot reluctantly.


It was a joyous and depressing time. I’d failed to make moving back home work, a decision that caused more harm with my family than good. A deer had annihilated my car. I’d left my cozy, lonely, personal prison of an apartment in town, and traded it for a spacious one in the woods near crooked lake with my newfound funds. I took on a team of employees at my new job who became my good friends in a building that consumed me, and I’d left some of my dearest friends and comfortable position in a building that was pleasant and free from hardship. When the pain of making myself choose to walk away from the man I thought I loved became too much, I got myself a kitten and named her Sparky Berlin. She came home with me April 27th and has been the best thing I could have asked for during a time when everything looked like it was going swell from the outside, but was a terrible mess, my life in shambles, on the inside.


In May I worked very hard to channel my energy into new hobbies like baking and entertaining Berlin. I decided to try to grow with my new company and I did what I could to hone my management skills. I became CPR certified in a class that caused me more anxiety and embarrassment than I think I’ve ever had in one hour, and I got my food safety certification. Unexpected circumstances had me drive to Cadillac and take the exam alone, and while I felt unprepared and had to overcome curve balls like finding a gas station to stop at to put air in my tires during a rain storm on the way down, I passed the test with a 92% and rewarded myself with a strawberry shake from culver’s for my bravery- for overcoming obstacles that seemed too scary and too far out of my comfort zone. I was climbing and I was proud of myself.


After a brief stint and downward spiral with my ex-lover at the end of May, I finally committed to an abuse free relationship and I used June’s warm weather and the State Park’s beautiful shoreline to help free me from the chains I had allowed myself to be shackled to for over a year. On the fifth of June I got glasses and not even two weeks later I cut my hair the shortest it’s ever been. I made a commitment to myself, to be better, and after long nights at work I spent almost every day of June at the beach. It became my happy place, and rock picking became my chosen hobby for relaxation. After 3:00 I’d head home and cuddle Berlin until work started again each evening.


My best friend suggested I come to Panama City to visit, so I bought my first ever plane ticket without hesitation. On the seventh of July I packed my suitcase and the next morning I got up at 5:00am to drive to the airport. So far, this was my bravest month yet. I’d never been to Detroit, let alone on an airplane at all. Navigating the airport was terrifying. Figuring out where to park was stressful. Finding my way to my gate was confusing. Catching a connection flight in Atlanta, Georgia was easy the first time and a disaster the second. While in Florida I played pokemon go in the heat at a park, experienced Krispy Creme in all its greatness, enjoyed a few drinks, laid by the ocean, got pedis and a matching best friend tattoo, and even followed Jasmine in an ambulance to the hospital at 3:00 in the morning through the city. On the way home from Florida I rode an underground subway thing at the airport and had to find my luggage when the plane landed since zone two ran out of carry-on storage. Then I drove through Detroit during rush hour and arrived home to a perfectly cloudy and comfortable Michigan.


Before I knew it, the end of August was approaching, the summer was ending, and Meijer had all but thrown me over a cliff. Despite my all too brief vacation in Panama City, I had been working 60+ hour weeks and I had become one of Meijer’s slaves. I was taking caffeine pills to make it through my shifts, I had lost 14 pounds, my body was sore, my attitude was crumbling, and I was furious. I was furious at myself for giving up so much for this job that turned out to be a literal nightmare. But I hadn’t forgotten the promise I’d made to myself at the beginning of the year, and it didn’t matter that as a manager my pants were black instead of khaki. It didn’t matter that I was making $16.82 an hour, and it didn’t matter that I didn’t have a good back up plan. I was spent and my time at Meijer was up. So, I left my resignation letter on the desk and I walked out of that building with the biggest weight lifted off my shoulders. It was ballsy to walk out without giving a two week notice, but frankly I didn’t owe Meijer a two week notice, and I had built enough character doing what I did during my time there to last me a lifetime.


Leaving Meijer the way I did was liberating, but it was also humbling. I quit my well paying job and spent two weeks waiting to start a new one. During that time, I got to explore Sutton’s Bay with a close friend, and I was able to reflect on the past 8 months and look into myself. I started to think about what kind of person I am and why I choose to do the things I do. When I finally started working as an Apparel Manager at Dunham’s, I had to ask my brother to move into my second bedroom so I could continue paying my rent. My credit card debt grew, and my savings emptied over the next two months. I’m not proud of the balances of either of these accounts, but I made the choices I did because I felt strongly about my health and well being, and now I have a year of paying off my debts to look forward to.


My debt is not the only thing that grew in September, though. After building thick walls all Spring and spending Summer carefully drawing boundaries not to be crossed, I had found myself tumbling over someone in the Fall. We were in love long before Fall, however I refused to allow myself back into anything that resembled the hole I’d recently forced myself to bury. But he captured my heart and pure circumstance kept pulling us together. I was scared to let him into my life, but eventually I realized it was something we could never prevent. I kept our relationship off social media, and it helped me enjoy our time together without distraction. We spent September cooking together and making trips to Traverse City, where I realized a distinct beauty that can be found nowhere else. Nicolas brought me to Old Mission Peninsula and had me experience wine tasting for the first time, in the most breathtaking place. We began spending much of our time together, and life seemed to calm down for a while in each other’s presence. Something that began so innocently in March had grown immensely. By October I realized my life had changed more than I could ever imagine…until imagination became reality.


On October 21st I sent a text to three of my closest friends: “What does this look like to you?”

A photo followed:


When I got home from work that day the answer became very clear to me and I realized I had a decision to make.


I spent the next month in tears. I did research, and learned about my options. I wanted to make an educated, well thought out decision. I cried every day because while I’d been incredibly bold and brave so far this year, I knew that whatever decision I made during the month of November would be even bolder and more brave, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. Apparently I did.

An abortion was scheduled for November 21st, and when that day came, we drove all the way to Grand Rapids, hand in hand, trying to talk about lighter topics on the way down trying to make the drive seem less grave. I clutched my baggie of goldfish in the hand that wasn’t being held and tried not to feel every mile run over my heart. As we approached the clinic the clouds grew thick and the traffic thicker. Two red lights before our street Nick turned to me and said, “You have to tell me what you want to do here.”


I just stared at him, the seconds were ticking and there weren’t enough red lights in all of the world to save me. The decision was mine, and like I had been told so many times before, no one could make it for me.

So much was at stake in that moment. My future, his, ours…the life of a person I haven’t met. For either choice I could ask the same questions: What would people think? Who would be the first to speak out against my decision, whatever it be? How would this affect my life? The lives of those around me? Was I ready to do this? Would I regret my decision? Is this the right thing to do? The light turned green.

He drove up to the next light. “Your destination is on the right.”

I was still staring at him. “Well?” he asked.

It came out as a whisper.

“I don’t want to bleed for that long,” was all I said, and he turned left and took us home.

To date, in all of my existence, I have never known myself to be more brave.

Close family and friends have known all of the details of this story as it happened, and in December we sent out Christmas announcements to extended family. We’ve been waiting a long time, for the right time and in the right way, to announce this publicly. There seemed no better time than at the end of the longest year, and at the start of a beautiful new one.

Before I close this post I want to end with a final remark: I once read, “we don’t seek the painful experiences that hue our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of our painful experiences. We cannot bare a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it is purposeful. Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle. We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning.” Take some time to look back on the year you’ve had and find in what looked like sorrows, the seedlings of your joy.

If you are like me, and at first glance 2016 seemed to be the worst year of your life, view it from another perspective: you have made bold mistakes and brave recoveries, do not despair- find meaning and assign purpose to the painful experiences you’ve endured; find peace in the idea that this year has brought you where you are and has played a part in making you who you are; when you finally do, you will only have bliss to look forward to in 2017.

Lukewarm

Tell me about why,
I’m going forty in a fifty-five.
One foot on the brake,
Both eyes looking back on the setting sky.

Tell me about why,
The car’s filled with nervous laughter.
You choke on unanswered questions;
I can’t seem to figure out what you’re after.

Tell me about why,
I’m begging the sun not to follow my clock.
Your sense of time’s lost;
It seems you may have turned back your watch.

But the sun, she cannot wait-
Pure circumstance melts her fire into the sky.
Feet still pressed on the brakes,
I can’t move toward lukewarm with no reason why.

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Frozen, cold, sharp.

Yesterday I opened my eyes before the sun.
I poked my head up and glanced around the room, searching for a familiar face. It was only me and a set of cool sheets.

It’s only me.
Shit.
It’s only me…
Where are you?

At the realization I turn over, pointing my toes as I straighten, and touching the wall behind me with my elastic arms.

Is it 10:00 yet?
It could be any minute now.
Check the clock, check it.

I root around in a puff of feathery down for my phone. When I find it, I move the hair obstructing my vision from my face, holding it behind my head with one hand as I squint through the florescent light radiating from my phone in the other.

7:04.
Why is it so early?
That’s it.
It’s too early, that’s why he’s not here yet.

My chest flattens slowly as I exhale. I close my eyes and smile at the ceiling. I imagine him quietly separating us from the world as he closes the door behind him. I can almost feel the mattress sink, as if he’s climbing into the cloud, lying next to me. He should feel cold to me, but I am the one who thaws in his presence. Soon our frostbitten hearts will be warmed at last.

Three more hours.
Just three short hours and it will finally be my turn.

I bring my knees up to my chest and bury myself under my cozy down comforter, but I do not fall asleep.

 

* * * * *

Yesterday I opened my eyes with the sun.
I was restless, so I poked my head up and glanced around the room, searching for a familiar face. It was still only me and a set of icy sheets.

Where the fuck are you?

I pick two abscond feathers, escaped from my comforter, out of my hair and rub my eyes. Again, I root around for my phone. This time when I find it I open my email.

One missed message!
When the fuck did this come in?!

 

Received at 10:01 AM

I’m out
I’m super sick babe. I do t want to give this to u.
And I feel like shit

I’m sorry. I wanted to see u today really bad. But
no way.
I love you Mir.

When I come to the last line I read it how he would say it. MIR: not like Muhr, but like Meer.

Spelling errors and all.
That’s so you…
I should have known.

I sit up. I scoop my aching heart out of the blood stained cloud, clutching it in both hands. I begin to pick feathers from its flesh as my mind turns over a thousand times. My body begins to tighten. I fill my lungs, holding the air hostage as I begin to fully realize what has happened.

I won’t cry.
I won’t.
It’s not a big deal.
You don’t have this kind of power over me.

I squeeze my eyes closed shut, and when I am no longer able to hold my breath I begin to cry and convulse uncontrollably.

I don’t know how I can keep feeling this way.
Don’t you love me?
Do people do this to those they love?
What did I do to deserve this?

I can’t breathe.
This is too much.
Why can’t I feel my fingers?
Are my limbs going numb?
I think I’m going to throw up.

I just want it all to stop.
Make it stop.
Someone please help.
Please
Please
Please
Please
Please.
…..

 

The long hand traces a careful circle around the clock before I am able to stop.

 

* * * * *

Yesterday I tried to keep my eyes open with the sun.
For the next two hours I poked my head up and glanced around the room every so often, searching for a familiar face. But every time it was only me and a set of frigid sheets.

I’m hungry.
Unhappy.
Distraught.
Anxious.
Tense.
Stressed.
Upset.
Strained.
Used up.
Agitated.
Uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable.

I didn’t have to root around for my phone this time. It had been in my hand since I had read his message. I read it again, hanging on every word.

 

Received at 10:01 AM

I’m out
I’m super sick babe. I do t want to give this to u.
And I feel like shit

I’m sorry. I wanted to see u today really bad. But
no way.
I love you Mir.

I love you too, but…

My head is pounding and I can feel my temples pulse. I lick my dry, cracked lips; they taste like salt. I wipe the snot from my nose and begin to type profusely.

Sent at 12:18 PM

I’m just going to be really honest with you right now.

I understand if you are sick. That is fine. If you can’t make it out, because you don’t feel well, that is fine. But I will have you remember that you didn’t see me last night because you had to take care of things and wanted to see me first thing in the morning. It is now quarter after 12 and you know I’ve been awake since 7 waiting to see you, to cuddle with you in the morning, for what would be the first time since before your daughter’s Christmas break started. We’re talking about weeks. 

I’m just saying. You asked the other day, you say you want to know about how things change? This is one of those times. It was my turn. This time it was my turn to see you and it’s not happening now. So today will be a second day, and tomorrow will make three without seeing you at all. 

This is the part of our relationship that hurts me the most. When I think about how happy I am that it’s my turn; and then I find out I don’t actually get a turn. I always get skipped over. Pushed to the back burner.

He’s not even going to read it.
It’s too long. 

I hit send anyway and close out of my email. I continuously check for a response. In the meantime, I wonder if my skull will explode from my swollen, infected mind.

I can hear an imaginary clock ringing in my ears, reminding me that I’m wasting the day. I’m cocooned in my bed, and this is not the first time this has happened, so I know this is the only place things will be bearable today.

Somehow I get into the shower; it is a miracle. When the water has scalded my skin and I’ve scrubbed some of the discomfort away, I step out of the shower. The whole room is dizzy and foggy and the mirror is opaque, covered in a film of steam. Before the room starts to spin I grab a towel and give the mirror one swipe. I’ve only been staring at my reflection for a few moments before I vomit into the sink.

Why do I feel like this?
Why do I feel so disgusting?
I must be sick. But I’m not.
When will I understand what is happening to me?

I find my way to the couch where I curl up in another piece of the cloud. Even though I’m not hungry, I know I should eat.

I could get cranberry orange muffins from D&W.
And I can get Starbucks while I’m there.
But what if I get there and they don’t have them.
I’ll probably lose my shit.

Somehow the thought is too much to bear and the tears begin to flow quietly. I am wet haired and red faced, but I won’t let him win, so I pull on some leggings and a sweatshirt and I force myself into the car.

 

* * * * *

 

Yesterday when the sun finally closed it’s eyes, I couldn’t close mine.
All night I have poked my head up and glanced around the room, searching for your face. But every time it is only me and my frozen sheets.

I’m just laying here, falling apart and failing to comfort myself, trying to wipe my own eyes and focus on my breathing and talk slowly to calm myself down.

But sometimes I am not enough.
Sometimes my mind is not enough to soothe my mosaic heart.

I want to sleep for a thousand years.
I wonder if anyone else feels like I do?
I just want to not exist.
I don’t want to wake up.
Because I don’t want to be aware that I exist.
I don’t want to have to do this anymore.
I want you to fix it.
Fix everything you’ve broken.

I am in the fetal position, sobbing quietly into my pillow. No one can hear me here.
I am obsessed, and nothing matters, because he is the only person I want to hear me, but he is also the only person who wouldn’t stay to listen if he did.

 

* * * * *

 

This morning my eyes were open before the sun-
Bloodshot and distended. My heart feels like it is barely beating, but I will find a way to get up and go to work, and lie to everyone about how I’m doing. Because even though I feel like I’m dead, I’m still here, and the world isn’t going to stop turning for me, even though I would do everything in my power to stop it for him, if that’s what he asked me to do.

But he doesn’t care.
He doesn’t care that the hurt feels too big.

The thought echoes through every hole in my head. I know that tomorrow when I open my eyes to the sun rising slowly, it will be a new day; however, he will still have his hold on me, gripping my heart, squeezing it intentionally too tight. With the new day I will have the choice to let him watch me dangle from my imaginary cliff, frozen like a cold, sharp icicle- I can allow him to hold me over the edge by my heart strings or let myself fall away to my emotional death, where I will break into a billion pieces, forced to start over and breathe fresh air again.

I know that for as long as I let him, he will hold me here, and I will feel, every second, like I cannot breathe. Somehow this seems the better alternative. It doesn’t make logical sense to my mind, but to my heart it is the only option.

The sun will rise tomorrow.
Maybe then I will be ready to accept the warmth it can offer me.

Until then, I will dangle: frozen, cold, sharp.

Review: “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes

Review: “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes” was a book given to me as a Christmas present. My sister, knowing I like self-help type books, sent me a picture of the cover asking if I’d read this one. I hadn’t, so I googled it and found that it was written by the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy, and further research led me to discover it was rated well. I told her these things and on Christmas day I opened the “profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny” hardcover. It wasn’t a poorly chosen gift; had I saw it in the book store on my own, I would have been intrigued enough to glance over the inside panel (note that this rarely happens), and ultimately may have chosen it for myself.

As it turns out, my expectations regarding the content of this book had me more than a little disappointed when I finished reading. The cover and the inside panel had me believing this book would shed some light on “how to dance it out, stand in the sun, and be your own person.” Going into it, I thought I would be reading one woman’s experience in learning to say “Yes” to all things scary and challenging, AND get some of her advice on how to do so successfully. I, for some reason, was under the impression that this book would be similar to Gretchen Rubin’s beautifully executed guide, which was both her own entertaining story and insightful direction on how to be happier through a year long venture she referred to as “The Happiness Project.”

I could not have been more wrong. Unfortunately my expectations were not met, because the cover advertised a self-help book, when really it read like a very dry and arrogant memoir. Rhimes starts with a disclaimer of sorts, explaining that she is an old liar, letting her reader know that she makes a living by making things up, but that this story is not made up. (No, certainly not made up, because all the rewards and accomplishments she is about to share with us, those are all real and she got them because she’s really awesome.) She then goes on to tell us how this whole thing started- that one day she was whining to her sister about being a single mother (she chose to adopt three children) and her sister told her she might be happier if she stopped saying no to everything. From that day forward, the reader learns, Shonda will say yes to everything for a year. She then goes into a 300 page story on her journey saying yes to challenging aspects and events surrounding her life, including Jimmy Kimmel, speaking the whole truth to her brand new Dartmouth alumni, to surrendering the mommy war, and to playing with her children more. She also whines profusely about being fat before saying yes to feeling better about her body, and after that, one cannot forget her chapter on “joining the club”- in other words acknowledging herself as one of the most powerful women in the world- or her chapters on saying yes to compliments, difficult conversations, the right people, who she is, and being beautiful.

Now, I don’t believe in quitting a book if I don’t like it. If I put it down and deem it “unfinishable,” how will I ever know if it would have gotten better? That being said, I read through this entire book, start to finish. I survived it’s whiney, annoying voice, arrogant tone and incredibly choppy, repetitive style, and I did find a couple pearls.

[[If you still plan to read this book, this is where you take my 2.5 star review and close out of it because I’m about to go into some detail about the parts I liked and potentially give a lot of information away. Or, if you want to save yourself the headache of reading 300 pages, you can continue this review and discover the pearls without putting in the effort.]]

Okay, so onto the pearls (you know, the little parts of a book that make it worth reading). I’m just going to go in order of when they appear in the book.

1. I loved some of her commencement speech, “Dreams Are For Losers,” which she gave to the Dartmouth class of 2014. It contained some good advice to these graduates, most of which I relate to being a fresh college graduate myself. Her first point was to be a doer, not a dreamer. Doers do and they are successful, whereas dreamers just dream and wonder why they don’t get anywhere by simply blue-skying without making things happen. Her second point in the speech was equally true, and just as difficult for a graduate to swallow: when you graduate, you go into the real world and become the bottom of the heap; you may be an intern, an assistant, or you will work an entry level job. You will feel like a loser all the time, and you will feel lost, but it gets better.

2. I also liked her stance on motherhood not being a job. Though this part of the book felt a little off topic and misplaced, like maybe it should have been in an opinion article, the points she made were good, interesting points. You can check out her whole argument starting on page 105, but here’s my favorite snippet:

“I work. I have a job. People with jobs often do not have time to bake. ‘But being a mother is also a job, Shonda.’ I can hear someone reading this book saying those words right now. You know what I say to that? NO. IT IS NOT…Being a mother isn’t a job. It’s who someone is. It’s who I am. You can quit a job. I can’t quit being a mother. I’m a mother forever. Mothers are never off the clock, mothers are never on vacation. Being a mother redefines us, reinvents us, destroys and rebuilds us…Being a mother requires us to get it together or risk messing up another person forever. Being a mother yanks our hearts out of our bodies and attaches them to our tiny humans and sends them out in the world, forever hostages…Being a mother is incredibly important. To the naysayers, I growl, do not diminish it by calling it a job.”

3. Shonda also makes an excellent point in the section of her book where she writes about saying “yes” to gracefully taking compliments. She describes a dinner she attended that was hosted by Elle Magazine where women in TV were celebrated. She explains that Robbie Myers welcomed the women there by calling out each of their names and listing their accomplishments one by one. As each woman was complimented for being awesome, many of them, Shonda included, ducked their head in embarrassment. She goes on to explain that women are taught to quietly dismiss their accomplishments and are instead praised for standing in the shadows (take your average mother’s day card: “mothers, you are such wonderful and good people because you make yourselves smaller [for your child], because you deny your own needs, because you toil tirelessly in the shadows and no one ever thanks or notices you…this all makes you AMAZING” (188)). I love that Shonda writes about taking a compliment as a woman, and being proud of your own “Badassery” which she defines as, “knowing…accepting…and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts” (195). I think this is an incredible message to send.

4. A couple more pieces of advice I noted in Shonda’s book to be helpful, as I’ve found them to be extremely truthful in my own experiences:

“Any difficult conversation, any tough issue I have sitting in the pit of my stomach, any unsaid confessions, any itchy little resentment and unpleasant business? I can talk about it. I want to talk about it. Because no matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace. Knowledge. An answer is delivered. Character is revealed. Truces are formed. Misunderstandings are resolved. Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation. And the more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom” (224-225).

“…happy, whole people are drawn to happy, whole people, but nothing makes a toxic person more miserable and destructive than a happy, whole person. Unhappy people do not like it when a fellow unhappy person becomes happy. [So say] yes to the real people. Yes to the true friends” (244, 259).

“My happy ending is not the same as your happy ending…Everyone has their own version. We all spend our lives kicking the crap out of ourselves for not being this way or that way, not having this thing or that thing, not being like this person or that person. For not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to all of us. We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules. I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules. In being more like everything else. That? Is wrong. There is no list of rules…Happiness comes from living as you ned to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be…Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it” (285-286).

In conclusion, and on a one to five star scale, I would give “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes 2.5 stars. The basis for my rating is on the misleading description, which caused my unmet expectations, on the boredom and irritation I felt while reading, on the author’s style of writing, which is not one I prefer to use or read, and on the content, some of which I found to be both relatable and memorable. I would not read it a second time, nor would I recommend it to a friend.

On the Last Day of the Year

Today the year ends, and everyone is making their resolutions for the long awaited 2016. It will be a fresh start; even I have made a list, but not before reflecting on the past twelve months and taking time to note all the changes, memories, and accomplishments that took place in 2015.

At the start of the new year I spent some much needed time with my family, and toward the end of the month I finally put my two weeks in at MC Sports, where I had spent the last two and a half years working.

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In February I attended my first President’s Ball at Grand Valley State University, celebrated my twenty first birthday, my last day as a Footwear Department manager, and my first day as a Head Cashier at The Home Depot.

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I was then accepted to Penn State University- an incredible feat for me that brought confidence and restored my faith in myself and my dreams, though later in the year I chose GVSU.

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April was a month of roller coaster riding. I had fallen out of love and started a journey all on my own in an apartment nestled in downtown Petoskey.

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My last month of school at North Central Michigan College ended in May, during which I officially graduated with the best of friends and received my Associate of Arts degree in highest distinction. I then experienced my first Bear River Writers’ Conference, hosted by U of M at Camp Michigan where I wrote some of my best work ever.


Witnessing my baby brother graduate high school in June was something otherworldly. It made me realize how time catches up to you. During the same month, I so gratefully announced my promotion to Appliance Sales Specialist at The Home Depot.


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I spent July and August trying to enjoy the fireworks, our annual sunshiny Canoe Trip at Big Bend, and another very obnoxious fair, all the while trying to ignore, yet still struggling with paralyzing depression.



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September marked six months of living on my own, and 100% self sufficiency. Fall came and never seemed to go, giving me much longer than usual to enjoy my favorite season with extra sunsets and color. It was also the first time I had ever not returned to college for a fall semester, which helped further solidify my dream to become an English Professor.

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 During the 10th and 11th months of the year I was happy to spend a lot of time reading on my little couch, and painting on the living room floor in attempt to complete my bedroom remodel. Also, in November I committed to attending GVSU and living in downtown Grand Rapids starting late July of 2016.

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I wrapped up the year in December by holding my family and friends close as we suffered the loss of our handsome cat, Duke, and celebrated the saved life of my second father over Christmas.



Reflecting on the past 365 days brings me to the following conclusion: it has been my most challenging year yet; however, equally rewarding. At the start of 2015 I chose freedom for myself. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but everyone needs room to breathe and grow, we need the chance to extend our arms out farther in hopes of actually reaching our biggest goals and realizing our deepest dreams. Though the decision to free myself led me to make terrible mistakes, caused me to face painful experiences, and put me through a time in my life I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it through, it was the single best thing I could have done for myself. 2015 showed me my worst and my best self.

Today, on the last day of this year that has shaped me, I am Miranda.

Miranda; (meh-ran-de) n. [[L, fem. of mirandus, strange, wonderful < mirari: see MIRACLE]] and by my definition: Book worm. Plant enthusiast. Author-to-be. Chai connoisseur. Sailboat admirer.  Literature junkie. Mug collector. White-wine-drinker. Star gazer. Grammar Nazi. Midnight-breakfast-eater. Independent soul. Closet poet. Politically engaged. Future-English-Professor. Daddy’s girl. Over analyzer. Sunshine craver. Lover of neutrally-colored-fabric.


In the coming year I hope to focus more on things that will foster growth; specifically in becoming my best self. In 2016 I aspire to learn American Sign Language, to read music, and to speak spanish better. I plan to read Moby Dick, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and at least one of Shakespeare’s plays. I hope to study World Literature (Milton, Virgil, Homer, Sophocles, Dante Aligheiri, Augustine, Shakespeare) in greater detail. I wish to blog more often, strengthen my writing skills and publish something. I aim to pay off debt and save. More than anything, I want to find optimism everyday, read, write and laugh more, and hopefully find some time to cook, travel, and enjoy living.

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An Open Letter to the Girls Who Laughed at Me Today:

We haven’t met before; our paths have never crossed, that is, until this afternoon when we both happened to be looking at yarn in Hobby Lobby.

I saw the two of you chatting together: both tall, teenaged, tan, long-haired brunettes in leggings and boots, sporting your Patagonia backpacks, and standing before an immense wall of colorful string.

Yes, I saw you both there, mesmerized by the many colors and types of yarn, only taking your attention away from the neat bundles as I passed. We did not make eye contact, however, I know that I smiled at you out of habit just before entering the neighboring aisle.

A few moments passed before you both rounded the end cap that separated us. No sooner had you set foot in the aisle I occupied did you share a bout of laughter with one another, and then proceed down the aisle past me.

I did not look up from the yarn when I heard you laugh.
I did not turn to ask why you whispered to one another just a few feet away from me.
And I did not leave the aisle when you drew near, inspecting the same bundle of yellow yarn I had just taken my hand off of.

I don’t know why you laughed at me.

My hair wasn’t a mess.

I wasn’t dressed out of the ordinary.

I like to think I’m pretty normal looking.

I know I had showered that day, in fact I had just come from an interview where I was offered a second job. Of course you didn’t know that. Maybe if you had you wouldn’t have laughed at me. I’m not really sure. But it didn’t matter to me at the time, and it still doesn’t now.

I honestly had hardly given any thought to the reason why you laughed at me, which is why I didn’t leave the aisle after having been quietly insulted by your failed attempt to camouflage catty laughter as friendly and innocent communication between you and your friend.

No, I did not leave. Instead, I remained in the aisle, minding my own business, reading over each label and testing several textures with my fingertips. A few minutes passed like this before the two of you left the yarn and I, taking the awkward silence with you.

A while later I saw you paying for your yarn, silently judging the cashier, more discreetly than you had judged me. I am sure this is not the last time you will do so. For when you leave, you will surely see another person who looks different than you, and make them your next victim.

Believe it or not, I am not angry.

I am not hurt.

I am not pissed off.

I am not irritated.

I am not embarrassed.

I am not upset.

I am not offended.

Instead, I am sad and sorry.

I am sad because I can remember when the tables were turned, when I had been the one to enter the aisle someone stood in, where I proceeded to laugh at them, and then whisper to my friend about how they were dressed, what their hair looked like, what they were buying, or simply at the fact that they were different than me. I can remember passing judgement on a person who stood innocently, just examining different yarns. I am sad because I am certain I have made another person leave the aisle because I made them too uncomfortable to remain in my presence after awakening their social anxiety and causing them to feel small. I am sad that yet another generation has not figured it out.

In addition to this sadness, I am genuinely sorry. I am sorry for you and your generation. It’s a shame that you think this kind of behavior is harmless. It’s too bad that people your age, on the verge of adulthood, are still feeding off of the thrill that is putting another person down. I am sorry for you because you have not yet realized what a joy it is to lift others up instead of laughing at them for their differences, but I know you will learn, because both will happen to you, and until you find peace within yourself you will continue to hurt others instead of lift them up.

It is these people who I am most sorry for- the people you will hurt. I am sorry for those who will feel embarrassed to be who they are because of your laughter. If it hadn’t been me standing in that aisle, if it were someone else, someone younger, someone more vulnerable, someone more insecure, there is a good chance that your cruel mockery may have felt to them like laughter not just at their appearance, but at their being. I am sorry for these people you will hurt, because when they are treated the way you treated me today, they may sometimes feel that who they are or what they like isn’t right, and no one should feel out of place in their own skin, just as no one should think it okay to make fun of the skin another person is in.

While I am sad and sorry for you and those you will hurt, I am hopeful.

I am hopeful because I was once like you. I was uncertain, and insecure. I wanted attention, and did what I thought would make others like me. I, too, got caught up in the whirlwind that is social acceptance and self absorption. I was thoughtless and hurtful too. But today I am hopeful for you because I’m not any of these things anymore, and someday you (hopefully) will not be either.

This will happen when you understand the impact unnecessary cruelty can have on others. I am hopeful that you will eventually realize how important it is not to laugh at others for their differences, but to admire them instead, because being unique is what gives a person individuality, and “individual” is one of the most beautiful things a person can be in this world. I am hopeful that you will someday agree that a person should not be made to feel small because of what he or she likes, or because of how one expresses his or herself, but that we should support the idea of individualism, and behave toward those different from us in ways that cause them to feel confident and empowered and to be who they are.

That being said, the next time you see someone and feel the urge to laugh at who they are, simply because they don’t, at first glance, look like you, I hope you will think about what I have written here, and choose to consider new ideas without judgement. It is a conscious decision to stop negative, immature, and inappropriate thoughts in their tracks and choose not to judge another person.

It will not be easy, but I hope that the next time you see someone unlike you, instead of having unnecessary negative thoughts, or using unkind nonverbal communication, or making insolent comments, I hope you decide first that the person standing before you is human, and it’s okay for their individuality to look different than yours. I hope you realize that that’s the point, and I hope you look to them with curiosity and open-mindedness.

If you still can’t understand, I hope you gain the courage to ask them why they’re wearing their hair back in a tight bun and their teal blouse tucked-in, instead of laughing at them because dressing like an attorney isn’t something you’d do. You might learn something about what sets them apart and it might inspire you or help you grow. If courage is not your strong suit, I hope instead of judging a person by outward appearances you choose silence when you cannot find a compliment that will positively support and celebrate their differences- what makes them who they are.

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“Because”

“Because”

by Miranda Byard

I’m breaking down,
On this goddamned couch,
I’m falling apart and,
I cant stop reaching out
because

Though it burns,
I think I need your touch.
And I’ll kill myself
Before I miss you that much
because

You’ve got me strung out,
Addicted to this interaction.
Keeping me in the dark,
Feeding me these distractions.
because

You need me too,
Whether you admit it or not.
You’re stuck on me,
And neither one of us can stop
because

Lonely is a feeling
One can’t easily shake.
And just to find some happiness
Every risk is a risk we’ll take
because

Once you became unhappy
with most of your other life.
You found comfort in me,
But still can’t leave your wife.
because

“Starting over isn’t easy,”
And you “can’t do it right now on your own.”
You “didn’t think this would happen”
There was “no way you could have known”
because

“We weren’t supposed to fall in love”
But it all happened so fast,
And now I’m dependent on you
Praying the next high will last
because

The nights are so long,
And I don’t want to think and cry.
I want you to stay with me,
Want you to sleep by my side.
because

You’re what I want, though
still I need just one answer
But you avoid the question since
it’s too hard to say you’ll leave her
because

You don’t want to make promises
The kind you know you can’t keep
So you refuse to give me information
And as a result I can’t sleep
because

I can’t handle the thought
Can’t stand to be apart.
Don’t want someone touching your body
When you’re so close to my heart.
because

Betrayal is so ugly
and I know because I’ve seen it
It’s happening now,
I can’t help but feel it,
because

You sleep with me in the morning,
and tell me you love me when you go,
But you sleep with her at night,
Hoping she still doesn’t know
because

You don’t want to lose her
and you don’t want to lose me.
But you have to pick one,
Or you lose both inevitably.
because

I know I can’t keep doing this.
Because it hurts so goddamned much.
I’m standing on a line
Leaning towards “I’ve had enough”
because

I’m breaking my own heart
Which is just plain insanity
Continuing to love you-
Simply put, it’s destroying me.
because

I give and I give,
And I wait and I wait.
When you lie and hardly try
While you take and you take.
because

You know the game,
And you know how to play,
You give me just enough
To make sure that I’ll stay.
because

You know I can’t resist you
I keep putting my fingers in the flame
Call it self harm or suicide
Either way it’s the same,
because

It will be a bitter cold day
When I take my very last breath
And I’ll exhale my love for you
Hoping you’ll see just what you meant.
because

You’ll finally know what it is,
To break down on the goddamned couch
Maybe you’ll know how it feels
To fall apart and cry out.
because

You’ll feel powerless and lost
You’ll see what a broken love does
And you’ll beg for the reasons why
But the only answer you’ll get is,
“Because.”