Compassion

Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.

When I lost one of the greatest gifts God had ever given me, the woman who created me; I lost a part of myself. I knew I needed an experience that would shake me to remind me not of what I had lost but what I still had/have. I have always had a deep love for children & felt I could easily connect with their gentle hearts…I had also always wanted to take my faith to a deeper place by going on a mission trip. Thankfully, my wonderful friend Jerrica very much felt the same. We made the commitment to stay at a Children’s Orphanage in Honduras with a group of woman 4 years ago. One of the best decisions of my life. A bit fearful, I quickly realized in Honduras how blessed I was for growing up with the nurturing, compassionate, incredible mother I did. Though at 19, I lost her way too young. I had been loved in a way many innocent children are completely unfamiliar with. Who was I to be angry for what God had given me? Who was I to feel sorry for my heartache & pain? Though it is very sad & will always feel unfair, I have an everlasting gift in my life that some will never have. I’m grateful for embracing the unknown & touching the lives of so many deserving Honduran children.

YOUR PURPOSE IS GREATER THAN YOURSELF.

Trust Yourself

I debated on exactly how in-depth I wanted to get with this post based on my own privacy, I suppose. After giving it a lot of thought for a few days I decided to just begin writing to see where my words would take me.

My thoughts begin with the word honesty. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you ever expect to be honest with anyone else? For those who know me well, they understand one value that I hold incredibility high is trust. It is impossible for me to be involved in a good friendship or even more so relationship without the feeling of mutual trust.

Your word is only as good as your actions.

Trust can be very complicated. It takes a while to build, but can be broken within a matter of seconds.

Throughout the past five months I have been dealing with debilitating pain. My body has felt trapped within a state that feels extremely unhealthy. I have felt fatigue, along with an assortment of chronic pain that has been capable of controlling my life both physically and mentally.  And at times it has. However, I’ve felt determined to overcome this sick feeling no matter how much it would take out of me.

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I had to trust myself. I would remind myself of this daily. There were multiple times I recall crying out to myself or some of the close people in my life… “Am I crazy?” I wasn’t even sure if I was asking myself or if I was waiting for someone else to declare it. I had to be crazy. I’ve felt physical pain before, as losing my mom took over both my mind and body for a while, but this was something much different. I almost felt in some ways like I couldn’t manage to function.

I knew something was going on with my body, I just wasn’t sure what it was. As I went from doctor to doctor, I would find myself in tears recalling the same story. I would read my journal to them where I kept tabs of what I ate, how many hours I slept, the medicine/supplements I would consume and what I was feeling. I took multiple tests where minor abnormalities would pop up but nothing explaining the deep and controlling pain I knew I was experiencing. It quickly became a nightmare.

I could feel myself losing patience; but that wasn’t even the worst part. I could also feel people, who meant so much to me, pushing away from me because it began to consume me. I wasn’t fun, I sure wasn’t happy and it’s very possible, it was quite difficult to be around me.  People at work began to recognize I was in pain. They would complement me with how well I was coping. They’d even make mention of my positive attitude and devoted energy to my work. But inside I could feel that it was fake and draining me. I was giving it all I could just to make it through a day of work. One day at a time.

Finally one night I was absolutely hysterical. I was crying out to my father and friend, “I am in so much pain, I can’t do this anymore.” And in spite of what they may of thought, I truly felt this way. I was losing hope because I was trying desperately to find some sort of answer and relief. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t happening.

Very shortly after that night, I think God heard my cries and answered my prayers. I met with an extremely talented and generous doctor. For once, in this journey, I felt that he actually wanted me better as much as I did. I knew he was determined to help me and lead me to recovery. Within a few long months he connected me with a very special lady. She was a specialized in the area he felt I needed to be connected in. He was right.

Within a month of my first visit with her I was getting put to sleep for surgery. I went into the surgery nervous, but anxious with some sort of excitement. I was looking for answers that I so desperately needed. My first memory after recovery was the voice of the sweet lady doctor. She held my arm and said “Randi, my dear, you are not crazy.” It turns out something had been taking over my body and was causing me intense and terrible pain. If they wouldn’t have found it, it would have only gotten worse for me and could have resulted in a lot of permanent damage that would have been devastating for me.

I am still recovering, I have a long ways to go, but I know now how important it is to always trust yourself. You know your own body and needs. Don’t ever sell yourself short by not acknowledging what you feel. Be your own advocate and fight with every ounce of hope that no matter what you are facing there are better days ahead. Healing will come for those who believe.

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Life is too Short

Lately I’ve been on this whole kick of ‘Life is too Short.’ And really, it can be.

I think because of both the many fortunate and unfortunate events that have occurred in my life at a fairly young age, I feel compelled to live every day to its fullest and make the most of my life. As wonderful as it sounds, it is actually a very hard and demanding task to complete. Not only can life be incredibly beautiful, but it can be extremely challenging as well. It is difficult to remain in positivity when at times there can be so much negativity surrounding you.

I’m starting to believe that awareness is the key.

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To start, become aware and acknowledge that your mind is powerful. Some of the most gifted and talented minds have taken nothing and made it into something. We can control the majority of what we are feeling and the way we behave by being in tune with our own minds. I come across many obstacles, both big and small, throughout my daily life. My approach towards tackling the obstacles varies based on what they actually are. However, I am fairly certain that I would not be able to overcome a large percent of my own personal obstacles without acceptance.

There are things in this life that seem unfair. I have several examples in mind. One that continuously occurs to me is sickness. I know several beautiful individuals that have battled severe illnesses that either left them in despair or led them to death. It seems like no matter how hard you try to comprehend something like terrible illnesses that happen to people all over the world, it just doesn’t make sense. And it probably won’t. Through a lot of hard work I have come to the acceptance that there are not answers for everything; especially the things we cannot control. Lucky for us, there are so many things we can control. So, let’s focus on that!

In today’s world we are blessed to have the gift of freedom. We are entitled to choices. As we know there were once days when having freedom wasn’t as easy as it is now. But right now, in this moment you are able to decide what you want to do and when and how you’d like to do it. You may choose your religion, your occupation, your education, your spouse and so much more. But not only that you can choose your church, your location, your school, your soul mate and again so much more. If you really stop to think about it, how awesome is that?!

So I have been asking myself a series of these types of questions lately. I have committed to take time to dig deep in searching my soul. I want to develop confidence that I will spend each day of my life the way I truly desire to. This process is just beginning for me and as I am finding out already it can be quite confusing. But in the end, I totally believe it is going to be worth it.

I have awareness of the power of my mind. I have accepted that there will be obstacles to come that I may not understand and I am ready to focus on all the things that I know I can control. I am working to have the confidence I encourage us all to have. Live life doing what makes you happy.

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A Tribute to Nan

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of you is your laugh. It was inevitably contagious. There was always a smile on your face, a cup of coffee on your desk and some sort of yummy treat in your hand. You were passionate, enthusiastic and determined. Most of all you were kind. In the years of knowing you, I can’t think of a moment in time that I ever recognized a mean bone in your body. Yet, I have all the faith in the world that if any stupid boy did me wrong or broke my heart, you’d let em’ have it. Your words, not mine. I loved sharing my stories and shoe fetishes with you. You were a sucker for a fabulous pair of heels. I don’t blame you. Your favorite outfit, a Red Wings jersey. You were so simple, but elegant. I always felt comfort and love in your presence. Maybe it’s because you always genuinely cared to know what was going on in my life. I am so thankful you made it to my college graduation ceremony. I will miss our frequent lunches at Focassia’s. Their lobster bisque was your favorite. It will hard to go back there without you. I know with all of my heart, the ‘Nut House’ will never be the same without you. You were deeply loved by everyone who crossed your path. And will forever hold a special place in my heart. You will be missed. But I remind myself of your faith and rejoice knowing that you are with the love of your life again, Howard. I hope you’ll go visit Hawaii again with him.

I will always love you Nan.

Please give my mom a hug for me.

P.S. I know you both will be watching over the stands on October 10th for the boys’ football game.

Nan

 

Wishing You a Happy Birthday

I stepped outside on my lunch today. The sun was shining so bright and beautifully. The air was still and for a moment I finally felt calm. I couldn’t help but smile because in my heart I knew today would be a sunny day. The sun is shining for you, because this is your day. Though I miss your physical presence more than my words could ever express. I know you are in good hands and that your soul is free. It’s free of any pain, negativity, panic, worry and heartache. It’s full of joy, laughter, pride and happiness. I want all of those wonderful things for you, I promise that I do. I try to fight every waking day to feel joy in my heart. I want to come to some sort of peace because I know that is what you want for me. Some days are easier than others. Today is a hard day. But I thank you, and I thank our glorious God for allowing the warm soothing sun to shine so bright on me today. When I close my eyes I can almost feel your arms wrapped around me. There is nothing like the feeling of your touch. There is no sound as sweet as your loving voice. Please know, for as long as I live, no one will ever take your place.

This is from me, mom, from the bottom of my heart, wishing you a happy birthday.

Birthday butterflies

You Can Make a Difference

People will hurt you.

But always remember: two wrongs don’t make a right.

I remind myself of this golden rule countless times throughout the week. I don’t know about you but I find myself frequently feeling disappointed or sensitive towards the actions of the people around me. It is not because I think I am perfect or that I believe I always do right. I know I don’t. I think it is more because I am very observant and aware of how the decisions and behaviors of one person can affect another human being.

Whether we intend to or not; people do hurt people. This is a concept I have never really understood. Why do we hurt people… especially the ones we love? There is so much hurt that already exists in this world. Couldn’t we just be a little more careful about protecting one another? That is something I continuously hope for. When I say my prayers I ask God to help the people in this world to find more kindness, peace and love. I think the world would be a much better place if people focused more on positive actions.

However, as well all know, we only have control of one person; and that is you. This brings me to another point; I have heard people say “one person cannot make a difference.” I call bullshit on that one. I know that one person can make all the difference. It can take one act of kindness to turn around someone’s whole day. It can take one message of hope to encourage someone to not give up. I have people in my life that it simply takes being in their presence to give me the peace and happiness I desire to feel. That, my friends, is making a difference.

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I have been in an all-time low. I have been in a place where peace and happiness did not exist.  My world felt upside down. It took beautiful people in my life that made a commitment within themselves to continue to remind me that peace and happiness would come. It took me making the decision to want to find that peace and happiness in my life again, but it didn’t happen overnight.

I recall a very sad moment for me. It was the summer after I lost my mom. I had anxiety racing in every part of my body. I felt claustrophobic; in my mind I was trapped within a state of pain and was desperate to feel some sort of relief. However, no matter how much I cried or screamed…no matter what I tried to do to comfort myself from losing my mom; I couldn’t find relief.  I had been sitting in her closet surrounded by her clothes; I had her pictures on my lap and was sobbing into her bath robe when I felt like I couldn’t take the pain for another second.

I got up and ran downstairs and out the door. It was the middle of the night and I began running down my driveway. I continued on down the road, running and screaming. Every part of me hurt. I kept running and running until I almost couldn’t breathe. Maybe I thought I could run from and escape my pain. It didn’t work like that.

I look back at this moment and tears fill my eyes. I can feel the intensity of pain I had in that very moment. But I can’t help but look at where I am now and almost smile because I know how much I have had to overcome to get to where I am. I cry thinking about my journey, even the days to come without my mom. But I will always rejoice in the strength and peace I have found within myself.

Having to face such a tragic time in my life at a young age has helped me to form a very unique outlook on life. I have felt pain and suffering. I know what serious hurt feels like. Feeling the deep emotions I have has given me a better appreciation for the people around me and the way I choose to treat them. You never know what other people are facing, how difficult it might be for them to get through the day or how desperately they need to feel some sort of relief, like I did.

I never want to intentionally be the individual who adds negativity to another person’s day. That is why I feel it is so beneficial to always be aware of your actions and how you are treating others. You can make a difference.

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Fear Can Be a Beautiful Thing

Two years, two months.

My heart is sad today. I woke up very sad. I am actually not feeling very well because of it. I wanted to post this blog today because I think it is important to share with everyone that sad days are okay too. They are completely natural. There are days and moments that are harder than others for me to accept not having my mom around. This sort of makes my life a roller coaster, but I am alright with that too because the ups are better than the downs. They make it all worth it.

Next week is the fourth of July. I recall last year and all the other years of my life going up to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes with my family for a long weekend to celebrate together. The past few years my mom hasn’t been here to make the trip with us. However, our very first trip to the dunes without her we brought her ashes and shared a very indescribable and heartfelt moment together as a family. That was one of her favorite places in the world and we wanted to make sure that she would always be there with us. We did and I will never forget embracing that time with my brothers and dad.

Dunes lake pic

This year is the first year we are not making the trip. It is sort of bittersweet. Nick and Nathan have football and are unable to come home. So Dad and I decided to part from our trip and make other plans. It isn’t the same up there without the whole family. I will greatly miss experiencing the sparkling fireworks over the great big sand dunes reflecting into the beautiful lake. It is truly a sight to see. I realize in my heart it has never been the same since I have been there without my mom. I don’t think it ever will be. Our memories there are so good that I can’t help but always ache for her to be there with me. Maybe a change in direction and taking a different trip will be good for me. I am not sure yet.

There’s something about summer that has become very hard for me. My mom loved the sunshine, flowers, butterflies, bonfires, cookouts, rollerblading and taking family trips. My summers still consist of all of those activities but each one feels different without her. I know she would want me to enjoy all of her favorite things, even without her. I try to remind myself of that often.

There are many times that I fear doing so. I create this image in my mind that it is not right to enjoy my life without her. It brings guilt to my heart because as much as I do believe she wants me to be happy; it hurts me to be happy without her. I am assuming that anyone who has ever lost someone close to them could in some way relate to that feeling. There are people who believe fear is a bad feeling to have. Throughout my journey with and without my mom I have come to a point where I strongly disagree.

Fear can be a beautiful thing. It can resemble what you have and what you don’t want to lose. It can signify what you had and what you are scared to go on without. In order to inquire those feelings one must have loved and loved deeply. That is exactly what I have felt and feel about my mom. I am not ashamed to fear my life without her in a sense. It is proof of how important she was and always will be to me.

We have to find healthy ways to live and cope with fear. I believe I have. I acknowledge my own personal fears, I am aware of them and I overcome them each and every day. To me, that is what is real. I do not envy a person who claims to live without any fear. This world can be a very scary place, it is unpredictable. And let’s be honest we aren’t superheroes.

Taylor Swift quote

So, basically this post is meant to be real. Today I am sad. Today I miss my mom so badly. And today I live with some fear, because no matter how bad I want to spend my weekend with her…and no matter what I would give to take a trip to the sand dunes with her to watch the fireworks; I can’t.

 

Planting Seeds

It’s been a little while. Seems like it is one thing after another lately. But that’s life isn’t it?

A crazy but amazing rollercoaster.

I have been pondering a few thoughts lately… Have you ever heard someone say God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle? Or how about God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers? I know I sure have and come to think of it, I bet I’ve said them a few times myself. But truly, have the phrases ever brought an ounce of comfort or encouragement during a difficult time. Does that sort of “motivating” line give explanation or provide comfort and reasoning when someone is facing something incredibly difficult in their life? I am sure the answers can vary to these questions depending on a number of different factors. A few I have in mind are the circumstance, the attitude of the person and how far along they are in the journey that has caused heartache.

I had a very intriguing lunch yesterday. It was sort of a blind date. I had met this girl once only momentarily where we had exchanged numbers to possibly meet up again.  She seemed friendly enough. I knew very little about her besides the fact that she had lived out of the country for a number of years and was struggling to connect again with girls our age. I could imagine she was experiencing some loneliness and thought maybe I could help. We decided to meet on my lunch break so she kindly picked me up from my office. Within minutes of being in her presence I could sense the feeling of vulnerability she almost wanted to feel around me. I instantly knew that God had plans for us to meet and that something big could come from our conversation at lunch. It sure did.

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With this thought in mind I didn’t allow myself to feel any pressure. I actually said a silent prayer to myself that the Lord would guide me in conversation to follow my heart and know the right things to say to her. Very quickly in our conversation we began talking about our faith. The topic was brought up right after she shared with me her struggle to make new genuine friendships and develop a feeling of stability back home. I could relate to these feelings in a weird way; though I had never experienced something exactly similar. I had this sense that she couldn’t quite figure out what home was and that which was supposed to feel like home didn’t. Of course, I had been in that place. In fact, I am still working to cope with being in that place.

Feeling that way isn’t an easy task to deal with. It is actually very hard to describe. It feels like there’s a void and you aren’t sure what to do about it. I am going through similar feelings right now as I have many other times in my life. But currently I am going through a time in my life where I could really use a woman. But not just any woman, I could really use the woman who knew me best, the one who created me and could guide me in the direction I need. We all go through times in our life that can be trying and uneasy. I bet there is a special someone that comes to your mind right away when considering who helps you most when facing the difficult seasons in life. For me, that person was definitely my mom and since she has passed away I haven’t been able to find someone who can come close to filling her void and probably never will…at least not to the degree that she did.

I believe in life we experience many voids.

Throughout the journey of coping with a void there is a lot of heartache involved. I am very familiar with this feeling from losing my mom. But even long before this loss I came across other voids much smaller and easier to deal with. Each time I did, it left me thinking that the more we try to fill our voids with something that isn’t what is meant to be there, the more the pain actually hurts…especially if the “filler” is negative or unhealthy.

Things are meant to be temporary in life until eternity that is. Beautiful flowers do not last forever in a vase as much as we enjoy them in the moment and wish that they would last much longer.

This realization is something that takes time to come to acceptance with. But what has helped me is focusing on the more simple things in life (such as my flower example) to understand that life is meant to be appreciated while it lasts. That is why when we lose things it hurts so bad…especially when we lose the people we love. Unfortunately as we can go back to the flower store and buy another bouquet we cannot do the same with such things as people. However, what we can do though is hold onto our faith that God has a greater plan and that someday we will be reunited with the people we once lost. In that very moment we will never have to spend another day in heartache and away from the ones we love the most. That is what keeps me going; not those silly phrases that people share with us when we are hurting the most. It is faith. My faith in knowing there is something bigger and better. That God has a plan and in that plan there is absolutely no pain or suffering. There is no loneliness or heartache.

Believe it or not this is the very conversation I had yesterday during my lunch hour. It was so uplifting and rewarding. It was a reminder to myself that God is using me and that my testimony is important. By the end of our conversation she looked at me and smiled. With confidence she said, “I know that if you are overcoming your season of loneliness without your mother that I can overcome mine too.”

My advice to you: do not be afraid to share who you are and the journey you are going through to help those in need. God is using me to plant his seeds in those who are in need of them the very most. Always follow your heart. The reward is truly amazing.

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Self-Pity is Our Worst Enemy

Never allow yourself to fall within a state of self-pity.

I think that’s where people start to go wrong. But it really is so easy to do. Especially when things are falling apart and nothing seems to be going your way. It is very tempting to feel as if it might be acceptable to have self-pity. And maybe it is. However, it is important and possibly crucial to stop and think about what types of habits develop for the state of feeling sorry for our selves. Because when we do it can become a vicious cycle.

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In part why I am writing this blog is because today I am having a bad day. I couldn’t sleep last night and I couldn’t have been more exhausted. Which doesn’t make sense does it?

Insomnia is something I have became quite familiar with unfortunately. Although I have found some useful aids to assist me with coping with this over the course of the last few years. A few in which I want to share with you: I have found relief from natural oils such as lavender, listening to ambient music and taking the supplement melatonin.

Anyway back to this bad day of mine and how easily I could’ve fallen into a state of self-pity.

I had an important doctor’s appointment this morning. I was really hoping for some answers in which I didn’t get. I have been restless and anxious all day. I am still coping with a long list of symptoms from mono and trying to focus on my exam reviews for finals. Oh, and in the midst of this two days ago I dealt with the two-year anniversary of my mother’s death. AND I should be getting excited for graduation. These thoughts probably seem like a bunch of complaints huh? Well, they are the reality of my day.

I stop by my favorite coffee shop because I am in desperate need of a ”pick me up” aka caffeine. The cute gal at the counter is making my coffee when she asks: “how is your day”? I smile and reply something like “just studying for finals and then I’ll be graduating, yay! How are you?” She quickly replies… “Is your mom so proud of you and excited that you are graduating on Mother’s Day” (You can tell she’s overjoyed for me.)

STAB. Just like that…my heart hurt so badly. And I know she didn’t mean it; of course she didn’t know any better.

I debated my reaction, but apparently it was obvious enough. Right there in that moment, on this very day I could easily have became angry and I could have justified feeling sorry for myself. And probably rightfully so.

Truthfully, today hasn’t seemed like a very fair day. However, I refuse to have that sort of attitude, although, it didn’t happen overnight for me. I probably haven’t shown the outside world the side of me that truly felt sorry for myself at one time but I lived within that state. It was full of darkness and heartache. And it was lonely.

So as much as I wanted to drop to the ground in the coffee shop or scream POOR ME… I wiped the tear from my eye and I smiled at the sweet girl who handed me my coffee apologizing. I begged her to not feel sorry for me and I told her how blessed I am for the time I did have with my mom and that of course she will be so proud of me on Mother’s Day when she watches me walk at my graduation commencement from heaven.

Life can be so incredibly difficult, but there is so much beauty even in the most difficult of days. Today is just one of the many ways God continues to show me that there is no reason to have self-pity and that is why I wanted to share my “bad day” with you.

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Two Years

Two years.

I wondered what today would feel like. I started to really anticipate this day when my calendar hit April. But long before then was I anxious for it. As soon as I had realized she was not coming back to me I became scared for this day because I wasn’t sure how I would make it two whole years without her next to me or if I even cared to. If this sounds dramatic than you may have never lost someone that you loved with ever piece of your heart; A person who made each day a better day for you. The person who made your life feel complete. That was my mom.

Which brings me to explain to you how I am feeling… You wait for the calendar to hit the 26th day of April. Like you need some sort of reminder that she’s gone, that you’ve lost her life and that it’s been two unbearable years without her. But do you? Of course not. You don’t need those reminders because you live with them each and everyday. The reminders are constant and it doesn’t take a certain day or time. They aren’t planned and even if they were it couldn’t possibly make them any easier or anymore difficult to cope with.

Everything feels still. There is no motion around me. I sit in silence. All sounds are mute to my ears. There is simply one thing I desire to see and one noise I desire to hear. It is her. But the reality is, two years ago on this very day was the last time I could wake up on this earth to seeing the beautiful face that I desire so much. It was the last time she would walk around talking to me and distracting me as I was trying to get ready to run out the door for work. I loved our mornings. It was always so hard to leave her. We would get into conversation and sidetracked easily. It became a bad habit that I would regularly leave the house late and speed off to work trying to make it on time. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

If I could go back in time I would make each one of those moments last longer. I would squeeze her a little tighter, listen to her words more closely and embrace all the wonderful things that only she could give me.

I have learned throughout the past two years that I have not faced this time without my mom. That in her own special way she still gives me the guidance and love I desire. It may not always feel like enough because I know what I have had with her but it is something and for that I am extremely grateful.

I look up at the sky and talk to you. What I wouldn’t give to hear you talk back. But sometimes if I am patient and I closely listen I can feel you in my heart guiding me in the direction you believe I should go. You send me messages of comfort when you know I need them the most. But you have also helped me to not only rely on you but to build my own strength so that I know I can do it without you. Because as painful as it is, we both know I have to. I miss your voice. I miss your laughter. I miss your crazy (but awesome) dance moves. I miss everything about you. I wish you could teach me to cook. Someday tell me how beautiful I am in my wedding dress. Help me be a mother when I have my own babies. I am so scared for all of those things without you. But I believe the love between a mother and daughter is forever and that everywhere I am there you will be…

forever

I truly feel as if I am the most blessed young woman in this world because you are my mother. Words cannot express the love I have for you mom. I hope through the way I continue to live my life you will see. The sun is shining for you today. Just maybe I will see a butterfly and if I do, I know it will be you.

I love you mom.

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