We

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, I really don’t think that is our case. In the few times we have been in the same place at the same time, I have longed for his touch from the other room. When he left and I knew he’d be back the next day it felt like an impossible wait. He is special to me, he means everything to me. In our little world distance is this concept that makes our lives harder. Yes, it encourages the effort on our parts and keeps us on our toes, but I would be happier if it didn’t exist. In the few months we have been each other lives, he has become an integral part of my every day. I miss him insanely and look forward to the flutters I feel in my heart every morning I receive the likes to my messages. For us, distance is not the requirement for us to be who we are and to mean what we do in each other’s hearts. Over the course of 7 months we have had peaks and valleys. I don’t like to harbor on doubts because to this very day I do not doubt him. The things I worry about are often inconsequential and just things I find to worry about when I am left to my own devices. It is the unknown that will be a constant struggle for me. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of title, I don’t know. It’s not like I need something official to know but sometimes I guess I wish I could share him with the world because of what he means to me. He makes me happy and I don’t like that everyone doesn’t know about him. The most important people in my life know and I suppose I should be thankful for that.

I have been accustomed to taking care of things on my own. Not something I drill down on often, but it is just the way it is. I go about my business in such a way that the inclusion of anyone in my decision-making process felt foreign. In these past few months since my bright eyes has been in my life, I have had to adjust the way I think of things. I usually pro and con things on my own, I plan and tackle problems. I guess I don’t have to think about things or muscle through on my own anymore. Even when it comes to talking things out, I know that I can bring them up to him. I have been alone for a long time, often lonely in a room full of people. But when it comes to him, I don’t feel that way anymore. A few weeks ago, I was going through a rough patch and his response to that was something I will never forget. I was struggling with Jon’s surgery payment and as a result I was stretching myself thin. I finally talked myself into being be honest, because I felt terrible for withholding information and I knew I was being different. When I finally explained what was going on without hesitation he said, “what do we need to come up with,” WE! I know that may be insignificant to others but that meant everything to me. To feel like I belonged to something, to us, we. . .to know that although I thought it was my cross to bear, that he would be front and center ready to help. It wasn’t monetary it was in the fact that there was no need for questions and answers. I grew up in a place of, “well, that’s on you, I don’t know.” So, for me this was an incredible gesture, one I am forever thankful for. One that made me love him more, if that is even possible.

This all came about as I was sitting in my car waiting for the rain to die down so that I could run inside. I pulled up his pictures and looked at his face and couldn’t help but smile. We had just been talking about something silly but in that moment the course of the past few months rushed upon me. The distance hit me square in the chest. I closed my eyes I remembered the times we have had together laughing, the memories we have coming up in our future and the feeling of completeness I feel every time we are together.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants

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Home

Before we existed

Before us became real

I lived on autopilot

Avoiding to feel


Love is what happened

When the mind took a break

To allow poetry in and

Feelings made way


If given the choice

Anyone or Anywhere

I’d choose to see those eyes

For home is in his stare


Five oceans and continents

World wondrous places

Pale in comparison

To the touch of our faces


I know where I’d be

If given the chance

With who not a where

Even just for a glance

Stop and Stare

I was sitting in the hospital a few nights ago when I decided to put on Pandora. As I was listening, I heard an interview with Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic, he went on to talk about their first popular song, Apologize, the one they did with Timbo and the song after that. The one that kept them from being a one hit wonder. He said Stop and Stare is basically about a person looking at the town/life they are in like there is nothing left to give it. I felt that, perhaps it is because I have an affinity for the band. But despite that, the words ring very true to me. I am not someone that is typically dissatisfied with life, I can find the good in anything, but monotony and complacency is something I despise. Lately I feel like I am moving but I go nowhere. I was sitting in the hospital room staring at four walls, alone. I do admit that I enjoy the company of silence at times, but this time the silence was deafening. If this hospital stay doesn’t get me off my ass, I don’t know what will.

I am working on getting back motivation and because I know what it was like to be the healthiest version of me, how hard it was to get there, the prospect of doing that all over again is terrifying. BUT I miss the confidence and energy I had about me. I look at myself sometimes and I don’t like the impression this body gives. I look lazy, and I’m far from it. I usually give no fucks about what people think of me, but when that perception has become my own reality, it is kind of hard to ignore. There are many things I love about myself, none of which have anything to do with my appearance. I do not feel comfortable in my own skin, I haven’t for a while now. I feel like that is the one facet in my life I’ve lost control of. Although there appear to be rational or more logical reasons surrounding this, there are times I am sure I do not have the relationship I want in the way I want because of what I look like. I feel like the old me is the person someone would drop everything for, but not for this version of me now. . .you don’t leave everything for this. I’m just Jo, far from perfect. I hate that I diminish myself so much but sitting with myself in those four walls was like barely surviving an internal bout with my own damn left hook, I lack the confidence I once had and it’s no one’s fault but my own. I don’t like the person I see every day in the mirror. I truly don’t feel like myself looking the way that I do with all this weight on me.

For the past few weeks even months my body has been going through a lot, my fibromyalgia has gotten worse. Some days I can’t sit still for a few minutes before my body starts to hurt again. When I was healthy, and working out consistently, my health was incredible. My circumstances have changed, things are different now. I have an adult, my kid isn’t a baby anymore. Jonathan cooks a lot of his meals, washes his own clothes, checks in to tell me he is safe when he goes out and needs me zero hours of the day. I don’t have to take him to school and practices and everywhere under the sun, I am busy in different ways but not in any way that prevents me from prioritizing myself. I have more than 50% of my time to myself now. I honestly no longer have an excuse.

while I was sitting in the hospital, I thought I had truly fucked up. One of my test results came back positive enough to have me admitted. Yes, I went in with chest pain but up until that point I thought maybe I was having a panic attack. The possibility of facing permanent consequences of my irresponsibility had been looming over me. I have been complacent in the way that I became that person that did everything for her child and others yet left herself behind. Twenty-four hours in the day and the only hours I have been giving myself is sleep. I blame it on my surroundings and the fact that I am just not happy here. I see the same people day in and day out okay with being stagnant and due to a lack of effort, so have I. I see my son making plans and preparing for his future with excitement and I envy him in a good way. He motivates me to find that happiness and feeling of looking forward to what I have in store for myself. I can remember the last time I really applied myself and busted my ass to get where I wanted to be, I want to be there again.

After over 24 hours of tests and tension, I went home with a clean bill of health. I am slightly anemic, which isn’t much of a shock to me. I eat more ice than a pregnant woman and am always the coldest person in a room. Anemia (a slight case of it), isn’t the end of the world compared to what I could have had. My entire family suffers from different ailments, from diabetes to thyroid issues. All of which I have masterfully evaded despite my irresponsibility in self-care. Yes, I am asthmatic and have Fibromyalgia, but both were completely controlled when I was in shape. I ran without an inhaler and now I have been dependent on it as of recently a few times a month.

When I lost all the weight the first time, I had just gone through some big life chances. I became a single parent and had shared custody with Jonathan’s dad (50/50), one week on, one week off and we discussed holidays. It was hard at first, I missed my son and didn’t know what to do with all the time I suddenly had in my hands. Things eventually got better, and I found ways to keep myself busy the weeks I didn’t have Jon. I would give myself 100% of the time of day. I became addicted to working out. I did my bootcamp 3-5 times a week, I ate healthy, I studied and wrote on a regular basis. I was in the best shape of my life. Finally, on the weeks I did have him, I would focus on him and took care of my needs in between, I plugged in the writing when he was sleeping and still worked out, cooked two meals – because at that time, you could not catch Jonathan eating healthy. That life seemed at first impossible, then it became my norm. I did that for about 3 full years. But eventually I had him full time, middle school flew by and high school was around the corner. That change impacted me in many ways.

I’m thankful that I have been a present parent, the football mom and wrestling meet mom, I didn’t miss a single thing, but I didn’t show up for myself, I no longer had the free time to spare and energy. . .well that is what I told myself. The truth is I know I could have kept that up if I had not lost my motivation.

This past weekend was a huge wakeup call, as I sat waiting for cardiac results, I was already devising a plan to fix it and try to undo the damage I had done. Knowing there is nothing critically wrong with me, isn’t a free pass to keep the same energy. I have somehow managed to be healthy despite my weight, it’s been easy to fall into that trap. Although I was able to go home without complication, I will never forget the fear I had as I waited for my results. I don’t want to put myself through that ever again. After taking the time to fully take a look at myself, I know my body deserves better.

Bankrupt

I haven’t been this exhausted since. . .fuck, I have never been this tired. I want to get to the part where I am catching my breath again but you can’t really read ahead in life. There is no back of the book blurb to tell you how things will turn out. All I know is I am emotionally and physically bankrupt with very little left to give.

I’m trying to find a work life balance with my day job to finish my days early or at least on time so that I can figure things out in the evening. I didn’t want to commit to a 2nd job completely because, I can’t see myself doing this forever. So instead I decided to start driving for Uber, I already spend a great deal of time on the road driving to clear my mind. My brother suggested doing Uber when I was trying to find a way to pay for the deductible for Jonathan’s surgery. Which up until the beginning of last month we thought was completely covered.

I think I’ve been living on about 5 hours of sleep a night. I work my day job, rest at home for an hour, eat dinner and then leave my house. Never something I thought I’d do but as a parent you do what you have to do. I try not to do it too late because Jonathan begins to worry when I’m out there at night. I also know in great part he feels guilty because I’m out there trying to save for his surgery. So I tiptoe around that, he thinks he is the man of the house at times and although I like the mindset he is forming, it is still my responsibility to pull through for him no matter what. I see him in pain and pushing through and it makes me feel sad that he goes out of his way to act okay because he doesn’t want to financially burden me. I could keep things up and save without Ubering but it would take maybe two/three months to save up what discretionary income I have. But the time it would take to cover the out of pockets is not worth the wait at the expense of him further injuring himself and going on in pain for another few months. I also want him to be able to start school as planned. For now I am trying to save enough to get his surgery back on the schedule. It sucks, I have pride, but I have to bite the bullet.

When I discussed things with his dad he said he doesn’t have the money and for some reason feels like Jon can push through. I for one don’t have the patience to deal with him anymore when it comes to Jon. I try to understand that he has 4 other children and try not to dabble in how he handles his finances, but it’s hard to avoid the anger when you have no support for a kid you didn’t create alone. I have people, my, “let me know if you need anything people,” but sitting around talking shit about what he should do and what I should do because of his lack of help is a waste of my time. Complaining and venting to them won’t get this shit paid. I know that I put myself at a disadvantage when I refuse to ask for help but I’m so accustomed to doing everything on my own for Jonathan and I, that anything outside of that feels strange. I don’t fully mean financially either, emotionally I take the hit on everything just to avoid unnecessary questions. I just don’t know how to ask for help, it’s part pride and part knowing I’m his mother so he is my responsibility. If I had saved money, if I were better prepared for emergencies perhaps I wouldn’t be in this predicament.

I plan on doing this for a few more weeks, maybe two months at the most, just to pay for the deductible so that we can finally reschedule this and also prepare for whatever physical therapy costs I may incur for Jonathan post surgery. It’s doable, I’m just having a hard time pacing myself. I’m tired, grouchy, I miss my bright eyes immensely. I am completely maxed out and frustrated with myself. In between the working, mom responsibilities, driving, and writing for the contest, I have little to no time to spare. I know I won’t rest until Jon has had his surgery so I have to figure out some sort of balance because I can tell I am taking things out on everyone and am short on patience these days.

Note to self

Last week I took an Uber from my hotel to the airport. It wasn’t the happiest ride I would say. I was leaving my heart in California and not in the best conditions. But the Uber driver and I had a conversation we both needed. You know one of those right place right time conversations. I for the distraction and him, I guess to realize he isn’t where he wants to be but he can eventually get there.

Clyde was let go from his job a couple of months ago and he decided to go backpacking with his severance. Which I found fascinating. There are so many things I would have done if I didn’t have Jon so young, backpacking is one of them. A couple years ago I even wanted to join the Peace Corps once Jon was off to college.

Clyde went to South America and was telling me that people over there are so passé about work. If they don’t like their jobs they quit, whereas us Americans are so attached to our jobs we can’t imagine a life without them. He wasn’t wrong. I was sitting right next to my backpack that contained my work computer and the things I thought couldn’t wait for me until I got home. Although I’m not as attached to jobs as I used to be. I’m very career and goal oriented but after losing my job and being unemployed for a year, I realized a job doesn’t define who we are. I told Clyde about the year I took off after my lay-off. I had been in social work for over a decade and suddenly I found myself in HR as a contractual casualty. That is the year I studied abroad in Belize. After working from 14 through 27 without much of a break, it was time. Of course panic set in but in that year I learned lessons I would not have otherwise learned if it weren’t for unemployment. I began to appreciate things differently.

When you lose a job that feels like your identity, you feel sort of distraught. I spent years honing my craft and being a member of the community. I envisioned myself retiring in social work. But. . .admittedly I was relieved the moment I was let go. Social work was taxing, it took over 12 hour days away from my son. I could barely sleep trying to help families keep roofs over their heads, delivering groceries in the evenings, cribs for babies. I loved it but I was tired. After the initial shock I accepted that I was unemployed and I made some adjustments at home. Finally I was able to see my son get off the bus, I was one of those moms that could cook a full meal without rushing to finish case notes. I played games with Jon, I worked on my degree full time and I studied abroad. There were some major sacrifices in that year but when you live off of the bare minimum you realize how much “stuff,” you don’t need. I kept my apartment and my car, paid my bills with scholarships and grants and still managed to live a complete and happy life. I would do that year all over again.

Clyde told me he felt like he was failing because he’d get interviews but never the call backs. So when he gets down he reads a letter he wrote to himself in the peak of his happiness when he was backpacking. The note to self reminds him of where he was and helps pull him out of depression. I thought that was dope, I do things like that all the time. Although they aren’t notes to self but these blogs serve as a time capsule of where I am in certain points in my life. We can go from the happiest high to the lowest low in a matter of hours. So when I’m not feeling my best or if I want to remember a great time, I revisit my blogs for the memory. Writing makes me feel a sense of release and tension, rereading causes a sense of relief I suppose.

While I was sitting in the backseat I started to reminisce about Belize. As a class we agreed to come back the next year, it has now been 7 years and I haven’t been back once. I told Clyde that and he said, well it’s because traveling is so expensive. I agreed but told him, I think we owe it yourselves to travel and explore. Think about when you get a speeding ticket, it’s an obligation and no matter what you find the money and pay. Suddenly the money for that exists but the money for a weekend getaway seems so far away. We pay so much for obligation and so freely that we neglect ourself. He started laughing and said he needed to hear that. It makes sense. . .it’s also advise I need to take for myself.

For years I have wanted to see the northern lights but never get off my ass to go. I’m not saying I am going to have a sudden eat, pray, love Julia Roberts year and go out and do everything I’ve always wanted, but I owe it to myself to do things for me more often than I do.

Before writing this I went back and reread my post from Belize, it was nice to read and remember that person, a person that saw the world like this:

“There is a unique kind of silence in the Cahoon Trail that gives center stage to the insects and birds to create a symphony of noises. Back at home we tend to live on wants, in sitting here in this unfamiliar place, where the natural way of living is giving back, I can see the beauty in it all. This place is home to a symposium of creatures. Tree’s enveloped by thorns, vines and moss, while leaves of all shapes and sizes sprout from the ground and fan the sky. Musky water and a kaleidoscope of greens decorate this environment of natural unaltered beauty.”

Holy shit I was a cheese ball, but I miss that nerd that saw the positivity and beauty in everything.

Belize Dat!

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It has been a while since I shared a little piece of me with the world. I had such an amazing time in Belize and met a wonderful group of people. The fact that we got to know each other under such bare and raw circumstances made us all vulnerable to show the people we typically are. It was a great feeling to be among my peers and to see professors outside of their usual elements. These experiences took me away from home but I couldn’t help but to feel at ease with my surroundings.

One day we were in the Cahoon Trail, after getting over mosquito bites and taking in the environment, I found myself at one with my location. Belize was not home but it was an island much like that of my grandfathers and in that I found comfort. After our field observations in the Cahool trail we had a discussion back at Hill bank and had to share our observation. Here is what I wrote and thus shared with my classmates:

“There is a unique kind of silence in the Cahoon Trail that gives center stage to the insects and birds to create a symphony of noises. Back at home we tend to live on wants, in sitting here in this unfamiliar place, where the natural way of living is giving back, I can see the beauty in it all. This place is home to a symposium of creatures. Tree’s enveloped by thorns, vines and moss, while leaves of all shapes and sizes sprout from the ground and fan the sky. Musky water and a kaleidoscope of greens decorate this environment of natural unaltered beauty.”

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. . . .I am so grateful that every day I am faced with new experiences that allow me to take in the world I know and make it just a little better day after day. I continue to learn from my mistakes and experiences and Belize was another one of those moments. My experiences in Belize were a fraction of the life of a true Belizean but I can admit that I came home a little less me and a bit more island girl.

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In the forefront, yes I came home and appreciated my flushing toilet and flat iron but Belize was something I wish I could share with everyone back home. At no moment while in Belize did I tell anyone they just had to see my flushing toilet, or experience all of my vanities from Tampa. I found that when I returned back to Tampa I was wishing I could do more than just tell my story of my experiences in Belize. I took picture after picture but nothing captured the feeling of being inundated in the beauty and day to day of Belize. When we went to the Belize Zoo I saw a sign that said, “We live in a Beautiful world.” I agree that the world is beautiful and I am sad to say that I had to strip myself from my self-taught behavior to truly realize the beauty of the world. Sky scrapers and flashy lights certainly catch the eye but nothing beats swimming harmoniously among the reefs and seeing beauty eye to eye.

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I never thought in my life that I could see the world from the top of a Mayan Temple. I look at myself and often wonder, how I, just the little girl with the big smile from Tampa has been able to meet so many people and do so many extraordinary things. I am truly blessed and continue to find the beauty in life!

*posted out of order, originally posted in 2012