My life changed dramatically and forever when I lost TJ.

I welcome you to follow along as I adjust to my "new normal".

It is not all puppies and ice cream but it is my life....real and honest.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things I Am Asking Santa For This Year

I have mentioned before that TJ and I quit exchanging Christmas presents years ago but when we used to get each other presents I always asked for fun me stuff. You know, stuff like jewelry, horse tack and nice frilly things from Victoria's Secret. TJ either wanted motorcycle stuff, horse tack or tools. He liked me buying him tools because I only bought good quality stuff.

Well, my list to Santa for this year is quite a bit different than in the past. As most of you know, I moved to a new home this past March. I bought it as a repo and got a smokin' deal on it, of course needed lots of work. At the time I thought this was a good thing. I am pretty handy for a girl and with so much to do on the house it would keep me busy and hopefully my mind off of losing TJ. It succeeded on doing both of those things, but at the same time, I have found it at times to be overwhelming and even have had thoughts that just maybe I bit off more than I could chew. When I think I am in over my head I usually just call a friend or two for help and everything turns out OK.
So, because of my new home here is my list for Santa this year:

  • Air Compressor - I have no idea why TJ never had one!
  • Floor Jack - these are handy for a multitude of tasks
  • Table Saw - TJ could build anything with his Skil Saw.....I can't!
  • Pneumatic Tools - to go along with the air compressor
  • Wheel Barrow - actually I could use 2 of these: 1 for hay and 1 for wood
  • Another Cord of Fuitwood - thanks to my fireplace I have yet to turn on my heater this year
  • Chain Saw - I bought TJ a Stihl years ago but he always had trouble with starting it (lemon!) which translates to I can't start the darn thing at all!
  • Gas Powered Leaf Blower - a 4 stroke please; I have trouble with 2 stroke motors, i.e. above referenced chain saw
  • A small tractor with a gannon & bucket - I have lots of yard work here

Even without these things my house is coming along good....slowly but good, and it is nice to step back once in a while and say to myself....."Thanks Dad and TJ for all you taught me, I could not have done any of this without the two of you having been in my life! I love and miss you both."

Oh, and Santa.....a Home Depot gift card might be easier and is just as good!

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle. ~ Christian D. Larson

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My 2nd Thanksgiving Without TJ

I can't hardly believe that TJ has been gone long enough for me to have 2 Thanksgivings without him. This time last year I was being told..."it will get easier with time" and "time heals". Well, at that point I thought they were all nuts!!! But it turns out they were right.

I really wanted to host Thanksgiving in my new house and since my sister already had plans I invited friends. I kept it small and had everyone bring a dish so as to not make it too stressful for me. It was wonderful and really made me once again realize how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends in my life.

I took all of Thanksgiving week off of work so I had 9 days off and boy was that nice. First time in over 1 1/2 years that I have taken time off work for me and was not sitting at someone's bedside. I didn't do anything special but got lots of little things done around the house and got to spend some time with friends.

I was busy enjoying myself on Thanksgiving and didn't take many pictures but posted a few here. Note that it was the women who carved the turkey....the men were busy watching football and we just let them be.

I hope you all (my American readers) had as wonderful Thanksgiving as I did.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Living in a Positive Manner

I know I have said this before but I absolutely have no tolerance for people complaining.

  • Someone complained to me the other day that they only got 6 hours of sleep the night before....when TJ was at his worst I often went to work with 1 hour or less of sleep.

  • When I hear someone say that their "Significant Other" does not call them as often as they used to....I think TJ will never call me again.

  • When I hear someone complain that their "Significan Other" does not do enough to help them around the house.....I literally do it all by myself every single day.

  • When I hear someone complain about their job....I remember the sorrow, deep pain and tears in TJ's eyes when he learned he would never work again.

It is all about perspective, we need to see and appreciate what we have.

Life can be beautiful! It is true that those who have had a life altering experience become more accepting and peaceful but anyone can start now to see the beauty in life.

It is utterly useless to complain about things. Negative people bring themselves down as well as those around them. Instead of complaining focus your energy on what you can do to solve the problem, this is much more productive.

Learn to let go. This is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. You can either hold on to the way things were or you can bite the bullet and accept the way your life is now. By learning to let go of even the smallest of things that happen in everyday life you will find you are living with much more happiness and ease.

Over the past year I have searched for ways to start my day in a positive manner. While these are some of the things that work for me I encourage you to find your own things that will make you start your day with positive thoughts.

  • I start every day with this song click here (find your own song that starts your day with a smile).

  • I think of 1 thing that I am grateful for...big or small it does not matter just one thing and on really good days I have a whole list of things.

  • I no longer turn on the news first thing. We all know how depressing and negative the news is so it can't be a positive start to your day.

  • I spend about 15 minutes enjoying the company of my dogs. My animals bring me immense joy and this is my form of meditation.

You may be thinking that you don't have the time for this in the morning, but if waking up 20 minutes earlier gives you a more positive outlook on life and a better day and better you isn't it worth it?

"It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis" ---Margaret Bonnano

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Lost TJ One Year Ago Today

Wow! I don't even know where to start. There are times when it seems like only yesterday that TJ and I had the world in the palm of our hands, yet there are times that it seems like he has been gone forever. My life has changed so much over the past year that when I think about it I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed at what I have been able to accomplish without TJ, I am overwhelmed at the support from my many friends and mostly I am overwhelmed that TJ is actually gone.

Since losing TJ I have spoken to lots of other widows and read quite a bit about the experience of widowhood and losing a loved one. Most all agree that the one year mark is not as big a deal as you would expect it to be. For me it is a huge deal though. When I look back on the past year I am proud of my many accomplishments and I am proud of how far I have come since this same night one year ago. I had lots of decisions to make as others do in my same situation and I feel confident that TJ would be proud of my decisions.

I know I am better because I now have many more good days than bad. I no longer get weepy when I see TJ's personal items. I no longer think about TJ constantly. I have gone whole days where he did not cross my mind and when I realize that I haven't thought about him all day I don't feel guilty.

I am beginning to appreciate my own life more. I spent the last seven months of his life caring for him. He knew how much I loved him. Now it is time to love myself! This experience changed me immensely and I will never be the person I was before TJ's diagnosis. I am beginning to accept my "new normal" and even enjoy it.

I can't express enough how much the support from my friends and family has helped me. Additionally the support I have found on twitter is absolutely priceless and I thank you all (you know who you are!). I have even gotten a lot of support from old friends in Indiana via Facebook. What all this means is that anytime day or night when I needed someone to listen or even just a friendly conversation to take my mind off things someone was always there. It may have been the middle of the night here in Arizona but it was early morning for my friends in Scotland or Ireland. There was also the friend that told me, "I will leave my phone on all night, you call or text if you need me" and this wasn't just an empty offer this was heartfelt and honest (thanks Melissa).

Then there are my girlfriends here who are always thinking of me and worried that I will be alone on significant days. They got me out of the house tonight for pizza just so I would not be home alone and I so appreciate their thoughtfulness. My favorite (and only) sister who I know too is just a phone call away and would drop anthing to be with me if I asked. My brother, who we don't talk as much as we should but I know his love is always with me. I could go on and on but I will suffice it to say that I am very lucky to have such wonderful friends in my life.

We meet people in life who touch our heart, who we won't ever forget, but it is the ones who touch our soul that we remember for an eternity.

TJ - I still love you whole bunches and I always will!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"Change is the only constant." - Heraclitus

One afternoon this summer when the girls had come over for a swim one of them looked at me and said, "Don't you ever feel like you need some change in your life?" I said, "Seriously?!!! Are you kidding me? Don't you think I have had enough change in my life in the past year?!!!!!"

I don't like change. I don't mind a little adventure once in a while but on a day to day basis I am a very structured person. I even plan my weekends in advance so I will know what is going on.

When TJ was sick my life changed on a daily basis. I never knew what the next day was going to bring....what new side effect would plague TJ, was he going to have a good day or a bad day, was it going to be a bad enough day that I needed to stay home from work to take care of him, would we end up in the Emergency Room and if we did were they going to admit him. I hated the uncertainty of every day. It was at times terrifying and I felt like I had no control over my life. TJ felt all of these same things too. On the days that I would stay home from work to care for him he would always tell me before I called my boss to let him know I would not be in..."tell Bill I am really sorry" Oh how that would break my heart. He was going through enough without having to feel guilty about me missing work!

When TJ passed was when I really had change in my life. I thought at the time that I was going to finally be able to breathe and get into a routine...Boy was I wrong about that!! Once again every day brought something new to my plate. In the end he was not able to help around the house or help feed the animals but he was there to bounce things off of. If something was wrong around the house I could ask him what I should do and he could walk me through it. Now he was gone and I only had myself to rely on, no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to help me solve household problems....just me.

I am pretty handy and self sufficient but I had gotten used to TJ taking care of things and it was overwhelming me to have to do it all myself. I felt like I worked tirelessly when I got home from work before falling into bed. Then when I had to! Try moving a home you and a spouse have lived in for 14 years all by yourself. Sure, I had help with the actual moving part but it was still overwhelming. I still have boxes in the garage of TJ's stuff that I need to go through.

Well, I have been in the new house for about 6 months now and even though I am not fully organized I feel as though I am into a routine. Once the initial move was over I began to take a little time for myself every day by reading, which is something I really enjoy. Even if it was only 30 minutes, it was still "me" time and it felt really good. I also am starting to stay home on the weekends more to do projects around the house.

I have begun to set a new course for my life and am taking better care of myself. I am choosing joy over sadness and rising above my pain. My life has taken on a whole new meaning and direction and I am making the choices about how, when and where I spend my energy and I am confident in the choices I am making.

Yes, not being able to start the chain saw to trim trees made me cry and wish TJ was here to help...but it only lasted a minute or two and I moved on. My trees still aren't trimmed but it will get done eventually.

I still don't like change but I have learned to turn it into a positive and run with it.

"What lies behind us and lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, October 7, 2010

That Ain't Nothing

I had a similar conversation with two people today. When you have been through a life altering experience it changes you. I don't know if it is good or bad but it changes you nonetheless. These life altering experiences come in many shapes and forms but if you have been there then you know what I am talking about.

If you haven't been there then I am very happy for you but I am also here to tell you that those of us who have are no longer sympathetic to your sniveling about small stuff. And believe is mostly all small stuff to me at this point.

I will not go into details about the trivial things I hear people complain about but it is time for all of us to stop and think. Is my life really that bad? Is what I am complaining about really a big deal? Do I know someone who has been through something much more difficult than what I am complaining about?

I heard a story this week from a widower that in my opinion was way more tragic than what I went through with TJ. Yes, we grieve the same for our loss. But, it also made me think....quit whining Sandy, it could have been worse.

Shortly after TJ was diagnosed we frequently used the phrase, "it's just small stuff, don't sweat the small stuff!". This became our mantra when he was going through treatment. Try it! You will be surprised how much easier life is.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"It Brought Me To My Knees"

"It Brought Me To My Knees"....we have all said that at some point, but has anything really "brought you to your knees"? By this I mean in the physical sense....made you literally drop to your knees and cry or pray in anguish. I have been there and it is the most intense hurt that a human can endure. I know you are thinking that this happened when I heard TJ's diagnosis but it was at that time that I mustered more strength than I knew I had, there was no way I was going to let TJ see me as being weak at that point, he needed me strong and I was determined to be there for him.
What brought me to my knees was our be specific...our Social Security Adminstration. Don't stop reading...this is not a partisen political rant. When TJ was diagnosed he was told that he could no longer drive because the 20 brain tumors could cause a seizure at any time. His job was a boom truck/crane operator so this meant that overnight we lost half of our household income and were faced with mulitple copays on a daily basis. We had insurance but the copays were about to add up quickly!
My first order of business was to get him on disability...the doctors gave him a year to live at the most so I thought this would not be a problem. I helped him to apply for disability and assumed it would kick in immediately. Disabilty payments aren't much but they are better than nothing. His disability was approved within two weeks of application....
Then.....I spoke with Social Security and this is how that conversation went:
Me: I received a letter that "TJ" has been approved for disability
SS: Yes, he has been expedited
Me: When will he receive his first payment?
SS: There is a mandatory six month waiting period
Me: Are the payments retroactive?
SS: No, after 6 months he will receive his first payment
Me: No money for six months? Did you not see that the doctors are giving him less than a year to live?
SS: Yes, I know, people die all the time waiting for their disability to kick in.
Me: ??????????????????????
Me: Is there any way we can expedite this?
SS: No...6 months is mandatory, he will receive his first payment on October 20th
Me: Thank you....goodbye
Now, our income is cut and our expenses because of copays have gone up....WTF???!!!
TJ worked hard his whole life and this is the treatment he gets?!
An hour later TJ found me in our master bath, door closed ( I didn't want him to see me), curled up in a ball on the floor....crying were we going to make ends meet?!
Our own Social Security Adminstration "brought me to my knees" and let me tell is an awful feeling. Not only is TJ very sick but now I don't even know if we can make our house payment and afford his treatments. They tell you that treatment will never be refused....BULLSHIT!! pay your copay or no treatment today!
I had a wonderful family friend that offered to step up and help TJ & I so I was very fortunate. I paid her back after TJ passed but I know not all are so lucky to have a special person help them like TJ and I were.
Nobody (until now) knows my reaction that day. When I should have been strong for TJ I was breaking down...when I should have been the one telling him that it was going to be OK, it was him telling me that. He was such a strong man through it all!
If you truly have never been "brought to your knees" it is my wish for you that you never will be. The pain lasts forever.....
TJ was diagnosed on March 13, 2009 and passed on October 25, 2009, he received his one and only disability payment on October 20, 2009.
We thanks to our Social Security Administration helping a very hard working man!
Am I bitter?.....yep, just a bit

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mid Life Crisis Thoughts

I wanna have a mid life crisis. TJ did it before he died. He bought a little car to build. Unfortunately he didn't get to finish it & enjoy selling it for a profit before he passed. My girlfriend just bought a Harley. I wanna have a mid life crisis seems like fun.

I just don't know how this mid life crisis thing comes about. I have lots of useless things I would like to buy but I am just too practical and can't justify them to myself. Should I quit trying to justify or quit being practical.

Now I have the fear of an impulse buy that I will regret.

What are your thoughts?

Have you done it? Do you wanna do it?

Sounds like fun doesn't it?

Don't we all deserve to treat ourselves?

Life is short...........

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Memory of Donald Wilhelm

We lost another great man to cancer this week, Donald Wilhelm. While I only knew Don virtually he touched my life in a profound way. Don was one of the first people I met on twitter when I turned to twitter to help TJ through his cancer treatments. I had a twitter account that was all about horses, but when TJ was diagnosed I ditched that account and started a new one in hopes of finding help for TJ with his treatment side effects. Very few of my "horsey" twitter friends followed me to my new account and in many ways I understood why. When I found Don on twitter he stepped up to the plate right away with suggestions to combat the side effects TJ was experiencing and introduced me to other cancer fighters & survivors in the social media world.

TJ, who often made fun of my being on twitter, soon realized the power of talking to those who had "been there, done that" and many times would say to me, "Get on twitter and find out what to do about this!" I have @DonaldWilhelm to thank for steering me in the right direction early on.

When I met Don he was a 4 time cancer survivor and even wrote a book about his experience you can buy his book here. I highly recommend reading the book. Don was an amazing man, he was an inspiration to everyone, his words of wisdom were beyond his years, his perseverance was unending and most of all his love for his soulmate, Amy, is undying.

After TJ passed I spoke to Don about the many conversations TJ and I had after he was diagnosed preparing me and TJ for the inevitable. He told me that he and Amy had many similar conversations. As I am now comforted by those words spoken between TJ and I it is my hope that with time Amy will be comforted by the conversations between her and Don.

Thank you Don for all you have given to me and countless others and thank you Amy for sharing your wonderful husband with the world.

When Death Comes

When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes like the measles-pox;
when death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades, I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility, and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular, and each name a comfortable music in the mouth tending as all music does toward silence, and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Don definitely did not just "visit" this world, he had a profound impact on anyone who's life he touched. This was Don's last post (actually posted my Amy) on Facebook and I think it says it all:

I’ve filled my original goal here on earth. It was to spend the remainder of my life helping cancer patients. It seems to be where I found the greatest joy and the most sense of worth. I’m moving up into the next roll. I’ll leave my faithful followers to slip in and fill the gaps. Love to you all and positive energy,
Don Wilhelm

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Spread TJ's Ashes Last Weekend

I have written before of the conversations TJ & I had after his diagnosis. Many of them involved our past and many involved my future but we also had to discuss his final wishes. He told me what he did and did not want medically speaking, he told me he wanted to be cremated. We even stashed the money in the house for his cremation so it would be available in cash when the time came. While we were very organized in "finalizing his affairs" it hit me one day that he had not told me what to do with his ashes.

When I asked him where he wanted his ashes spread he told me without a moment of hesitation...."The Hideout, I want my ashes spread at The you remember how to get there Sandy?....(me)yes, I think so.....then take Charlie and Mike with you, I don't want you wondering around in the desert on a horse carrying my ashes and crying because you can't find The Hideout". So, The Hideout it was and the conversation was never brought up again.

Since he passed and I really had to think about spreading his ashes for real, I have been thinking..."TJ, WTF! could you have made it any more inconvenient?!..a 3 1/2 hour drive to the shack then a 45 minute horseback ride to the hideout!!" For those that don't know, we own 10 acres in southeastern AZ that we built 2 "shacks" on and set up horse pens. This property was to be for our retirement home but meanwhile we wanted to use it with our friends. The land borders state land and is only about 1/4 mile from National Forest.....beautiful riding country.
"The Shack" or "Love Shack" as TJ preferred to call it! We have to haul water and there is no electricity, but TJ built wood burning stoves for each one for warmth in the winter.

I just like this picture so I threw it in. TJ is in the roundpen with Arnie. We bought Arnie as a weanling and I trained him for TJ....he turned out to be a really good horse!!

We have lots of friends that wanted to be involved in the spreading of TJ's ashes at the hideout but I just didn't feel like having a big party at the shack so I chose one friend to go with me and not tell anyone else. I borrowed a horse trailer (we sold ours when TJ got sick for medical bills) and last Friday after work I loaded up both of my mules and all 3 of my dogs and headed to the shack. On Saturday morning we saddled up and headed to the hideout.

When we arrived I went inside alone....talked to TJ for a moment and spread his ashes. While it was a sad moment for me it was also very heartwarming that I was fulfilling his final wish and knowing it was what he wanted did my heart good. We rode back to the shack in silence.

I am sure all of you reading this are saying....."What the heck is the hideout?" Here is the story. It was the early 1900's and the Powers brothers (2 of them) went to town to register for the draft. The postman told them they did not need to register and that he would contact them when it was time for them to serve. He did this because there was a mining claim on their father's property that was in demand. The postmaster then went to the sheriff and told him the brothers refused to register. The sheriff gathered a couple of his deputies and went to the Powers' ranch. The father came out of the house first and was killed by the deputies. The brothers continued to fight it out and eventually escaped the property. One brother had an eye wound so as they headed south in Arizona they needed to hole up for a bit to heal. Where they holed up is known as "The Hideout". They then continued their trek south, heading for the Mexico border. They were apprehended before making it to the border and both were sent to prison.

This is not a story you will find in your history book but is very well known by the locals down in that area. "The Hideout" is still pristine as it is very hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for and is at the base of the Dragoon Mountains. Upon entering you can even see the hole in the top that was cut out for fire smoke to escape through.

TJ loved the local history so this place was very close to his heart and he enjoyed taking friends there and telling the story to them. I was proud to spread his ashes there knowing how pristine it is and I can always think of him being in a place he dearly loved.
If you look closely you can see the door to "The Hideout" in his picture. That is all the pictures I will post as I want this place to continue to be as undisturbed in the future as it is now.

I chose this past weekend to spread his ashes because today would have been his 50th birthday. I threw a big party for him on his 40th and we had planned on having another one for his 50th....TJ loved celebrating his birthday!! I thought it would be nice to put him to rest on his birthday weekend....I still celebrated him, just in a different way than I had planned.

I Love You TJ......Happy Birthday!

If I had known my heart would break, I would have loved you anyway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Little Puppies & Ice Cream

When I am talking to someone that has not read my blog and I am giving them the address for the first time I always tell them...."the past year of my life hasn't been exactly perfect so my blog is not all puppies & ice cream, but it is raw me".

My last few posts have not been the happiest but I do want everyone to know that I am enjoying my new life so I thought I would post just a few fun pictures for a change.

In February I went to "The Shack" with some friends to pick up a few of my horse panels. This is a picture of Dave & Dena's pet monkey "Angel". Angel loves her beer and she is eyeing me to make sure I am not going to take it from her.

This was the last time I entertained at the old house. A few of my girlfriends came over for a little bit of dinner and lots of wine. If I recall...5 of us drank 9 bottles of wine! We had a fantastic time! TJ and I entertained a lot in that house so I have to admit it was bittersweet.

Dena & Larissa came over for the first swim in the pool. The water was still pretty cold but we were determined to get in and have a drink at the table.

I had the honor of hosting Michele's 60th birthday party! Another fantastic day with great friends.

Dena had called me one Friday night to see what the weekend was to hold and caught me in a pretty dark place. I told her I didn't want any company but she and her husband Dave ignored me and came out, even picking up Larissa on the way. So much for spending a night wallowing in self pity....instead we all spent until the wee hours of the morning in the pool drinking.

I have said it before and I will say it again.....I have the best friends in the world and I love you all very much!

This includes my blogging friends as well as my twitter friends who are always there for me too...I love all of you very much also!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Love You Mom!

JoAnna Fay Bolton
July 17, 1931 - July 28, 2010

Mark, Mom, Alberta & Sandy

Thanksgiving of 2005 my sister, Alberta, bought these "Mom Likes Me Best" shirts for all of us siblings to wear. We all got a kick out of it as did Mom. The fact was...Mom did like all of us best and we all knew it.

I am going to miss you Mom. I love you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mom Update

Mom has taken a turn for the worse. Her condition has deteriorated and she is unable to breathe on her own. The doctor told me our options are either life support or hospice. Mom never wanted life support so hospice it is. My sister and brother are flying to Arizona Saturday (tomorrow) and we will be moving Mom to hospice. Hospice tells me that even though we are pushing oxygen into her the body is not using or distributing it properly. She is expected to last only a few days once moved to hospice.
Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm Tired

I realized this week that I learned something when TJ was sick. I learned to pack myself a "hanging at the hospital" bag quickly & without much thought. My bag contains: 1) laptop, power cord & air card 2) cell phone & charger 3) Kindle & charger 4) iPod, ear buds & charger 5) notebook & multiple pens 6) water bottle 7) snacks

Tuesday morning the nursing home called me at 3:00 am to tell me they were sending my Mom to the ER for shortness of breath and confusion. I packed my "hanging at the hospital" bag and took off, no animals fed and no shower for me. Good news is they admitted Mom with a diagnosis of pneumonia and she is expected to be fine in a few days.

I cried all the way to the hospital. I wasn't crying for my Mom, we have been through this with her before and I really felt like she was going to be OK. I was crying for myself. I was crying because I am tired. I am tired of the drama in my life. I am tired of being at a hospital. I am tired and don't really know how much more I can take. I was crying because it brought back all the memories of taking TJ to the hospital. I was crying because I realized that some of my strength died with TJ. I used to be strong and organized in situations like this but now I was falling apart?!

Once I got to the ER I began going through the motions; talking to the doctors, nurses & comforting Mom. But I really felt like I was truly just going through the motions, the passion and compassion was gone. WTF!! This is my Mother for good grief! When she fell & broke her hip & had to go to a rehab center I did my research and found the best place possible. When she refused to do rehab and ended up in a nursing home I made sure it was a nice place & the care was above par. She is in one of the nicest facilities in town. But now, that passion is gone. Gone with TJ.

I'm sorry Mom....I'm tired

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Just Breathe

Just Breathe...easier said than done sometimes. When I was a little girl my Mother insisted that all of us kids take swimming lessons. I was the only stubborn one. She enrolled me in class after class and I refused to learn. Looking back I have no idea what I was thinking. When I finally passed I thought all was good but not for my Mother. She took me to the local High School (Ben Davis) and asked the coach to watch me swim. I got in the olympic sized pool and swam a lap while they both looked on. When I finished I heard the coach say to my Mother "she just swam that entire lap without taking one breath!" My Mother said, "can you teach my daughter how to breathe?" He did and I went on to become a good strong swimmer thanks to the persistance of my Mother.

I remembered this story when a twitter friend of mine mentioned that she needed to learn how to breathe while doing pilates. I guess we all need to learn how to breathe and yet we take it for granted on a day to day basis.

I am not talking about those moments in life that take your breath away like seeing the beauty in a rainbow, having the one you love tell you he/she loves you for the very first time or even sharing a joyous moment with a good friend. What I am talking about is the devastation that we endure throughout our lives that takes our breath away. This might be learning of a friend's suicide in high school, hearing (out of the blue) you spouse tell you he/she wants a divorce, learning about a friend's life altering medical diagnosis or putting your pet of 15 years down so he no longer is suffering.

The day that really took my breath away was the first day TJ & I met with his oncologist. He did not want to tell TJ his prognosis but TJ insisted he tell him. The doctor sat down in a chair next to TJ's hospital bed and said to us "This is exceptionally difficult for me because you & I are the same age. There is a less than 5% chance you will be around a year from now. Make sure your affairs are in order." That took my breath away like no other moment in my life has or ever will! Somehow I managed to eek out a "thank you" to the doc as he walked out the door..thanks for what I don't know but at the time it seemed an appropriate thing to say. TJ & I both were so stunned that neither one of us could speak or even cry. I curled up in bed with him and for a good 30 minutes nothing was said. What is there to say at that point? We knew it was cancer and we knew it was bad, but we kept telling ourselves that people beat the odds all the time, but that was before we were told the odds we were up against. When I finally was able to breathe again I got out of his hospital bed and went over to the window, I still did not know what to say to him.

So, next time you are in a pilates class, swimming, exercising in general or are faced with something in life that is devastating....just breathe.

To have become a deeper man is the privilege of those who have suffered ~ Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life in a Small Town

As most of you know I live in Apache Junction, AZ and it is a fairly small town. I fell in love with this town years ago and when I moved back to AZ in 1994 I knew this was where I wanted to settle. I had to get an apartment in the neighboring town of Mesa because at the time I had a black lab and couldn't find anything in AJ that would allow my dog. I moved here in May of 1994 and met TJ in December of that year. Well, in 1995 when my lease was up TJ was living with me and I informed him that I was moving to AJ. He didn't want to live here at first but came with me anyway and fell in love with the town too.

There are ups and downs to living in a small town. I have met wonderful people here that have become the best friends anyone could ask for. People in a small town will band together like no others to help anyone with anything. When TJ got sick people came out of the woodwork to help us & when I moved I had more help than I needed. The emotional support is there also.

When TJ was diagnosed he asked me where I was going to move to when he was gone. I said, "I am not going anywhere....I am staying right here in good ole' Apache Junction!!"

Although I love it here I have been under intense scrutiny since TJ passed away. What house did she buy?....who has been over there helping her (mostly referring to the males that helped me)?.... how many times has he been there? something going on between them?....I saw her talking to A, B & C at the bar is she seeing one of them? FOR GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE! GET A LIFE OTHER THAN MINE!!! I am not the one that died and it is OK for me to continue with my life. Oh, and yes, I have male friends that have helped this a crime?

The way I see it we tend to separate people into groups because it is safe and simple. By doing this we know what to expect of them and it is therefore easier to interact with them. I now don't fit into any predetermined group and it obviously throws many people off.

I am guilty of this too but as I think about it I find it sad that we categorize people in this manner. These preconceived ideas about how a person should behave do not allow us to really get to know each as an individual. We are too busy trying to put them in the box we perceive them to belong in. When TJ died nobody had a box for me and I think the scrutiny comes from trying to find out which box to put me in now.

Not very long ago I had a friend, who was not happy with me at the moment, say to me, "tell my why we are friends?" At the time I just laughed but I want to be able to sincerely answer that question at the drop of a hat about all my friends and that will require getting to know many of my friends all over again.

I have decided to dump all my friends out of the little boxes I have put them in and focus on them as individuals. Each and everyone of them has come into my life for a reason and I know in time that reason will surface. Some I already know why they are in my life but others I have yet to discover the true meaning of our friendship.

Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest...It is about who came and never left your side.

Monday, June 14, 2010

RIP Dobie

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together....

Author Unknown..

I am sure TJ was there waiting for Dobie....they were such good buddies!

I miss you both

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary TJ

Today is our anniversary. TJ was so happy that I finally agreed to marry him after being together for almost 16 years. I did everything to make sure the last 7 months of his life was everything he wanted.

I used to believe in forever.....but forever was too good to be true. ~ Pooh

Monday, May 24, 2010

New House Pictures

I really put some time in this weekend thinking about what I could do a post on and came up with nothing. That is, until I remembered that I have yet to post pictures of the house I bought. It was a repo and I got it really cheap so it is nothing spectacular but it is good enough for me and my animals and frankly at this point in my life that is all that matters. I tore out all the flooring and my girlfriend, Dana, did stained concrete floors for me. I love them and they are so easy to keep clean. You can check out her website here. The pictures were taken by my cousins when they came out for 4 days at the end of March. We had not seen or even spoken for over 20 years but had a fantastic time. I still have a ton of work to do on the house but my theory is that it will get done when it gets worries. Like I have said, some things just aren't as important to me as they used to be. When I have opportunities to be with friends or family all work stops on the house until I have time to get back to it. I guess since I have a pool not much will get done this summer but I will pick back up again this winter.

The picture below is of my little "memorial" to TJ in the entry area. The hat is the one he was wearing the night I met him (December 15, 1994), the rattlesnake skin is one we killed in the back yard at the other house and he skinned, the metal piece is our brand that he welded for us and was on the top of a light post in the arena at the other house, and of course, one of my favorite pictures of him.....Damn he was a good looking guy!!!!

My cousin, Leslie, probably be won't be too happy about this picture being on the blog but it was the only picture of the kitchen (notice that I still need to install my hardware).

As a last note....Dobie, the little chihuahua, has been really sick for the past week. Everything he eats goes straight through him (really glad to have concrete floors right now!!!) and he has lost about 2 pounds. When you only weigh 7 pounds that is quite a bit to lose. Today he seems just a little bit better so I am going to give it a couple more days and then I might take him to the vet. Keep your fingers crossed for him!!

Monday, May 17, 2010


I find myself often thinking about what I went through with TJ after his diagnosis. I have replayed the multitude of conversations we had over and over again in my mind. His prognosis was poor from the beginning and although he was determined to fight the cancer he also knew in his heart that it was a death sentence for him. And while that my sound like a horrible thing to say TJ & I both were very realistic. We discussed all the things we had done together, we reviewed in detail our last 16 years together. The good, the bad, and the ugly as we liked to call it. We talked in detail about my life after he was gone. Where would I live, how I would get by without him, who I could call to help with different things. He even told me specific people he did not want me to date (what a goof! but we had a good belly laugh with that conversation). We hoped that things were going to turn out different than they did but we planned for the worst. His main concern was that I was going to be OK.

TJ was only 49 when he left me and it really made me realize some things about life. The whole thing changed me. It changed me a whole lot actually. Some don't see the change in me while others do. I feel it in myself every day. Oh, I am still the same person basically, I still believe in the same things, I still have the same interests and I still have my friends. But, it is a change deep inside that is really hard to explain.

Often I know people see it when they say to me, "what is wrong with you tonight?" I usually come up with some BS answer to blow them off because it is at that point that I know they are a DGI (don't get it). I know this doesn't mean they don't care, it just means that they don't understand. My world is different now and theirs is still going down the same path. Somewhere my life took a wrong turn and I ended up in a front end collision at 100 mph. My future has been altered, I have to find a new route to take and it is not easy. I am not seriously injured but the scars will last a lifetime even thought they might not be visible to all who cross my path. Little things do not matter to me at all anymore. Some events in life are bigger than most can imagine and it makes everything else seem so small and unimportant.

Yes, I have lots of DGIs in my life and I still love them but what I really appreciate are the ones who do GET IT. They are the ones who see the change in me and not only accept it but embrace it and cheer me after every hurdle I clear, they respect TJ and his memory and know that I am doing exactly what he wanted me to do, they don't sit in judgement but sit beside me pushing, and, yes, sometimes shoving me forward. They are the ones that have grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me in the right direction and are there when I get off course to help me find my way.

We all have some form of DGIs in our lives. They may be a good friend, a family member, even a spouse or a sibling and it doesn't mean they don't love you it is just that they DON'T GET IT. Don't turn your back on them just realize ...... you may be a DGI to them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm BAAAAACK !!!!!!!!

My original intention was to just take a month off from blogging and it obviously got out of control. So much has changed since I last updated everyone so I will keep it short for now and elaborate later.

  1. Life sucks without TJ and I really miss him, some days are worse than others.

  2. Having said that I really am adjusting fairly well and kinda like living alone for a change. Well, most days anyway.

  3. TJ was convinced his family would give me lots of trouble but I have not heard a peep from his kids or his sister and only 1 nasty email from his father. What a pleasant surprise!

  4. Just this week I got TJ's truck running again. Took a while because there was so much to get repaired on it but finally it is reliable transportation again.

  5. Got the old Ford running just in time for my truck to break down!! It is a fairly inexpensive fix (center carrier bearing) but nonetheless it seems like it is always something. Parking the GMC and driving Ford now until I have time to tear it apart and fix it. I hate wrenching on vehicles but I hate even more to pay someone for something I can do myself. Another reason to miss TJ because he would always do that stuff for me.

  6. I moved out of our home of 14 years. The payment was making me house poor and it just sucked living like that. I really didn't want to leave but making the payment on my own was just too much of a struggle financially and left me with no extra $$ left over every month. TJ & I knew it would be tough for me to stay there so we had everything set up so that I could walk away should I need to.

  7. I moved out closer to the mountain and my expenses are $500 a month less even with more land. I will post pictures at a later date.

  8. I couldn't decide if I should continue to wear my wedding rings or not, then someone told me this: "Those rings are a symbol of yours & TJ's intention to spend the rest of your lives together, you don't get to spend the rest of your life with him but he spent the rest of his with you". I am still wearing my rings.

  9. I had a hive of Africanized Killer Bees in my yard!! They are dead now but that was major drama for a few days.

Most inportantly I want to thank all my friends for their help and support over the past year and then some. There is no way I would have survived this without my friends!!

The move would not have gone so smoothly without the help of my friends either. You all know who are and I hope you know that our friendship is priceless to me.

I am glad to be back in the blogging world and I have missed many of my blogger friends also.